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Vortex: Off the Page Review

Official Review

January 5th, 2015 2:32am
Reviewed by Dr. J. M. Ayala de Cedoz
If you do not have the book 'Vortex' by Tom Stone, you need to add it to your library (see my review of that book here: Then you need to add this download to your digital library right along with it.

The idea behind this download was to take some of the ideas from the book and put them into video form - a few of them being his most popular/requested effects from the book - thus the subtitle of 'Off the Page'.

None of the effects listed are particularly knuckle-busting, but they do involve routining, scripting, blocking and other techniques, which is what makes them so valuable to magicians who study/use them, and magical at the same time.

Normally for download videos, I do not give too much away by describing each effect because I like to leave the surprise up to the viewers watching it for the first time. If I do touch on the effects, it is to clarify or to detail certain parts of them that I feel need mentioning.

In this case, I will do just that for those that do not have the book (which you should have!)

The Etude is a very clean two-card revelation of the mentalism persuasion. The method is clean and direct and as for its direct effectiveness, you only need to see the look on Dan Harlan's face as Tom reveals his selection. There are a number of ways to use this method, which Tom does expand upon.

Reality Glitch is one of my favorite transposition effects because they (the audience) thinks they are seeing something that they are not. Then, the ending hits them. I use this one occasionally in shows and it is good!

Among the Madmen belongs to the assembly plot of card magic (Ace assembly, MacDonald's Aces, etc.) but in this case, the backs are used instead of the faces. This lends itself to great storytelling ideas and for those that dislike Ace assemblies (as many magicians see them as boring and simply, magic for magicians), you might even find yourself liking this one.

Mr. Fogg is a wonderful contribution from Tom Stone to the Dai Vernon 'Travelers' plot. "Tracking Mr. Fogg" is the first of two variations he gives in the book on this plot (but does not teach in this video). The second variation in the book, "Mr. Fogg" is shown here. I mention both versions even though only one is taught on this video because they are both similar yet different and the reader may find it useful to study both. Either way, this is not an inherently difficult piece to do, but it will take some practice to be certain and it is very clean. If you are an avid collector of methods for the 'Travelers' plot and have not seen/studied these versions from Tom Stone, you will find some very nice ideas and techniques used here that are not found in any other versions to date.

A Toast for Charon is a great opener for parlor or stage work, but with proper blocking there is no reason you cannot do this as a stand-up opener too. It is a great sequence that will take some good practice and rehearsal to work out, but it is not hard to do overall.

Gold Wielder is an excellent handling for the Linking Finger Rings and Tom uses subterfuge and subtlety to make what is normally the weakest part of this effect in most handlings work very well. This is a great handling and not hard to do, though it is better suited to parlor and stage work.

Now we get to the crux of this video and the thing that Tom is probably most known for:

The Benson Burner. This is his take on the classic Benson Bowl effect and what a stunner it is! If you have never seen him perform this, look it up on YouTube. There is a slightly grainy video of him performing this but you can still see it well enough. His methods for vanishing the sponge balls and for the final load are just stupendous and the final loads are unlike anything you have ever seen. They are also a guaranteed crowd-pleaser and often elicit standing ovations. More than the effects and methods in this particular effect, the thing you really want to pay attention to here is his discussion on blocking, timing, redirection and his teaching of the Slydini technique called "Crossing the Gaze". It is a very powerful technique that is not used often enough by magicians.

The video was very well produced - the audio and video quality were good but I did have a problem with some of the teaching segments, especially the Benson Burner at some points. Allow me to explain:

Though the teaching is second-to-none, I think the visuals get lost at some points because the explanations were shot against a black background, with Tom wearing black clothing. It just seems that at some points, something could have been changed to help viewers see what is going on more clearly. A simple change of shirt or the background to a lighter color would have solved the problem. In my opinion, this factor did not quite do justice to the quality of the material or the teaching.

Be that as it may, this video is an excellent companion to the Vortex book and if you do not have the book, it will make a great introduction to the material within. The material both in the book and in this video is strong, hard-hitting and as commercial as you can ask for. The same goes for the follow-up book to 'Vortex' which is called 'Maelstrom'.

Speaking of which, keep your eyes open for a third book in the future because it is likely to be just as good as the first two...

VERY highly recommended!

Product info for Vortex: Off the Page

Author: Tom Stone
Publisher: Penguin Magic
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $19.95
Buy Now
Manufacturer's Description:

Powerful miracles. Refined over years of performance. Now on video for the first time.

A rare opportunity to learn breathtaking miracles from one of magic's top thinkers. 

On this DVD Tom Stone explores some of the most innovative ideas ever shared on DVD. Prepare to be blown away by amazing methods and effects that are devastating, impossible and most of all entertaining. Included on this DVD are choice selections from his critically acclaimed book Vortex.

Learn powerful magic with a variety of everyday objects, cards, and so much more. 

"Tom Stone is the most creative magician working today." -Michael Feldman

"Having recently seen Tom Stone wow audiences at The Magic Castle, I decided to get his books. Both are filled with excellent and very workable effects. Visual, creative and magical, the material in both Maelstrom and Vortex is outstanding. Tom Stone is a thoughtful man who puts time, energy, creativity and effort into creating his magic. The magic in these books remind me of magic created by great magic thinkers like Tommy Wonder, Fred Kaps, Dean Dill and Gaeton Bloom. Highly recommended."

"I have respected and admired Tom Stone long before it was considered cool! For his perfectionism as well as his ability to understand what is required to create excellent magic." -Daryl

"Tom is one of the most creative magicians here in Europe. His work is always stimulating and worthy of attention." -Tommy Wonder

"I am a fan of Tom Stone. He is wonderfully creative - perhaps even more than he himself realizes!" -Max Maven

"Tom Stone is a rare phenomenon: a fountain of cleverness and creativity, and a truly excellent performer. Whether he is performing or teaching, I want to be in the first row." -Stephen Minch

"Tom Stone concocts eye-candy for the brain." -Jon Racherbaumer

"Tom Stones magic is revolutionary. His thoughts and work shows true dedication to his profession and the art that we call magic." -Samuel Varg Thunberg

"Tom Stone makes material that make my mouth water. Whether you are learning comedy magic, manipulation, close up or stage this guy has something for you." -Jesse Gernigin

List of effects

The Etude. Two spectators peek at a card in an extremely fair way. The cards are shuffled so that it is impossible for the magician to know where their cards are. Yet under the most difficult conditions you are able to reveal their thought of cards. This a very direct mind reading effect with a very deceptive, yet easy to do method. All the ingredients for a close up miracle.

Reality Glitch. Using any pair of cards and any four of a kind you are able to perform a transposition effect that both fools and entertains like no other. 

Among The Mad Men. One at a time, four blue back jokers vanish from four separate piles and assemble together in a packet of cards that has been in full view at all times. 

Mr Fogg. A "Travelers" routine that starts off as an impossible effect where four signed cards magically end up in one pocket but ends with all four signed cards ending up in four different pockets under the most impossible conditions.

Toast For Charon. A beautiful piece of magic using nothing but a silk a wine glass and three coins. Coins vanish, reappear, and as a grand finale you produce a full size wine bottle.

Gold Wielder. This is Tom's handling for the Linking Finger Rings. This an effect that packs small and plays HUGE. Tom gives lots of info for how to make this a worker and more important, how to make it look very convincing.

Benson Burner. This may be one of the most stunning pieces of magic you will ever see. Three balls vanish and reappear under a bowl. This is repeated and even more impressive the second time. What happens next surprises everyone and can only be described as an explosion of visual magic.

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