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Review of "Making the Cut" by Ryan Schlutz

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Review of

“Making the Cut” by Ryan Schlutz

Prior to reading “Making the Cut,” I had never heard of Ryan Schlutz, an Orlando-based magician. But after reading the opening chapters of his book, I quickly concluded that Schlutz is a creative worker who takes the time to carefully create magic moments for his audiences. Throughout his book, Schlutz provides great close-up routines with an emphasis on card tricks, and for completion, he provides suggested dialogue. As with the material found in John Guastaferro’s excellent “One Degree,” in “Making the Cut,” I discovered a wealth of great ideas and material (Guastaferro acted as an editor for Schlutz' book). By the way, "Making the Cut" refers to material that is good enough to include in your walk-around magic sets. An always worthy endeavor.

Openers

Most appropriately, Chapter One presents opening material - effects that you may perform when you first approach a table or close-up crowd. Interestingly, the chapter begins with a lesson on Schlutz’ “Pivotal Peek,” a fantastic peek that allows you to divulge the identity of a card that a spectator has freely selected from a shuffled deck.

The built-in advantage with Schultz’ peek is that you are viewing the index at the same time as the spectator, which acts as built-in misdirection. While the move takes practice, it’s somewhat similar in mechanics to the well known “Tenkai Book Break Turnover.” Since I already regularly perform the Tenkai move, I had little trouble adjusting it to the vertical position. I’m still working on this move and haven’t yet tried it out in a real performance.

Once you master the peek, Schlutz teaches a couple of effects: 1) Pulse Detection, and 2) The Keeper, which both allow you to reveal the identity of a spectator’s card in entertaining ways. A third effect, When in Doubt, Read the Palm, is a one that dresses the revelation of a selected card around palmistry - the art of telling fortunes by looking at a person’s hand. This is another effect that Schlutz uses as an opener and that encourages lots of interaction with spectators. Note that this one relies on a gimmicked card that you can make yourself. The first chapter ends with a discussion on pocket management. Anyone who performs at strolling events can benefit from the advice here.

Emotional Conenctions

Chapter Two, “Build On Their Emotional Connection,” teaches effects that allow you to bond with spectators after your opener. The first effect, Sense-sational, is a magician fooler where you have three cards selected and you find them, apparently by using your enhanced senses. There’s no sleight of hand here, just three different methods for finding three cards that are diabolically combined to keep everyone guessing.

I liked A Lesson in Gravity, something of a sandwich effect where two cards with pictures of “black holes” on them find a selected card in two phases. In the intriguing third phase, the spectator’s selected card appears to come out of a black hole (a bit hard to describe, but the two “black hole” cards are held in a manner similar to that in classic “Cannibal cards” and while it looks empty, you produce the card).

In Fraternal Bond, the spectator shuffles the deck and you bring out three cards and lay them face down on the table without showing them. The spectator freely selects three cards and your face down cards turn out to be the mates to the selected cards. In this effect, you’ll learn a great switch called the “Schultz Switch,” or “Schlitz,” which is based on a Derek Dingle move. I think it's really good.

Fing-Jit-Su offers a fun, interactive routine with some easy-to-make props. It’s basically an effect where a spectator finds his own card, but I appreciate the theatrics that come with its martial arts-themed routine. It’s a walk around presentation for Pit Hartling's Finger Flicker routine. Sprung & Dagger is a card stab in plot, but relies on rubber bands and a card with a picture of a dagger on it. This one has been marketed on its own.

Making Memories

Chapter Three, “Leave Them A Memory” offers material that does just that, leaves spectators talking about your magic to others (a lofty goal). Insignia is a fantastic, commercial effect where a spectator’s signed card is found behind your name tag, and there are various antics where you appear to pull a signature off one card and place it onto another. At the end, you can give away the signed card with your information. While there’s considerable setup and gaffed cards and such that you will have to make, this one is strong and different. It’s well worth the effort.

Chapter Four, “Add-On Bits,” offers enhancements to improve your routines. For example, should you need four aces or any four of a kind, you could simply spread through the deck and bring them out. But why not use a production such as Schlutz’ Otto Aces or Otto Finder - both productions of four-of-a-kind from a shuffled deck.

The book ends with Untouchables a “hands off” effect where spectators shuffle, deal and separate cards and that ends with several stunning coincidences. It’s almost like a series of “Out of This World“ moments.

Makes My Cut

While I appreciated the great material, at times, I could have used a little more detail on some of the moves. You’ll need sleight of hand skills to tackle the effects in this book as Schlutz assumes that you have a working knowledge of many well known card moves. A book with great magic effects and some interesting angles on presenting them is always a winner, and this is the case with Ryan Schlutz’ “Making the Cut.”

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