FISM day 1

I’m working my way home to Seattle from FISM, and writing this during a 5 hour layover in Chicago. My plan heading there was for me to write these blog posts every morning, but the reality of the schedule there, that just wasn’t possible if I wanted to sleep. The schedule there ran from 8am to 11pm, most days, and some days the official schedule went to 1:30am, with your starting again at 8am the next day!

When I landed in Quebec City, it was 10pm and after a cab ride and loading into my hotel it was about 11pm when I began my 10 minute walk to the venue.

FISM Quebec city

Quebec City is gorgeous and I want to be able to return sometime to explore the city. The picture above was taken from the door of my hotel!

FISM schedule

Unfortunately, since I got in after registration had closed, I couldn’t attend the late night FISM events, but my buddy Clive who was already in Quebec City was willing to hang out with me! After a few attempts at finding a place still open that served food, we found Ninkasi, which turned out to be a place we be at almost every night. The staff there was super cool, and I think it was the closest place that had beer to the convention center.

FISM clive hayward performing magic

While we were there, I had Clive show me some of the stuff he’s working on. One of which used a single sponge ball, and that caught the eyes of Pere Rafart and his friend whose name I don’t remember.

FISM magic: clive hayward and pere rafart

This convention is soo big compared to any other magic convention I’ve ever, there are people who I know were there, but never saw. Then Pere, who it felt like I was constantly passing in the halls. I later learned was a competing in the close up competition (he took 2nd place in close up card magic!)

Staying up way later than I should have, I said goodnight to everyone and took the short walk to my hotel.

I needed some sleep as it was going to be an early morning the next day!

Gilbertino’s Master Silk Tube

One of the fun things about acquiring collections of magic, is that you don’t always know what you have. Sometimes you’ll find parts and have to figure out what goes with what.

In a recent box of magic I found a tube with two end caps (and a gimmick). To me it was obvious what it was supposed to do, however I didn’t know what it was. After some research I found out it was a Gilbertino Master Silk Tube!

Gilbertino Master Silk Tube

I still didn’t have any instructions, but the description of the effect I found online confirmed how I thought it worked. Here’s a quick demo of the first trick I thought of for it when I found it in the box:

I have a lot more ideas for it, but unfortunately it’s really not a trick for my show, so I sold it. It’s a great trick for someone show!


The Flea Pitch

For years I have done the “flea pitch” after my show. This is where I offer to show people a giant flea for a small payment. I use one of Doug Higley’s fleas, and I love it!

Here’s the box I’ve kept the flea in forever:

I was never a huge fan of the box, and had been thinking of replacing it for years. I finally found a box that would work for it, and that fits the story in my pitch.

This box held an old electrical thermometer, but I removed that, it’s perfect for the flea! I can’t wait to try it out!


Another Shell Game Set!

I remember a long time ago chatting with Dr. Lloyd Cripe who was a brain doctor and now retired and he said, “everyone collects something” and at the time I didn’t realize it, but I was starting to collect Three Shell Game sets. Currently I have a giant collection of shells, and it getting harder to find shell sets that I don’t already have.

I found this lot at a magic auction site:

Three Shell Game

I don’t have the upper set of gold shells. I can’t tell what they are made from, it could be plastic or metal, I won’t know until they show up. It looks like I was the only bidder, so I got them for the opening bid price, which is nice!

I’ve had the Dr. Beaumont Shell Game book in the past, and it’s been a while since I’ve read it. I’ll give it a reread when it arrives with the shells and probably sell it with the Vernet Shells which come with this lot.

If you’ve got a unique or uncommon set of shells, send me a note, I’d love to see a pic of them!


Samson Airline Mic

Whenever I work with an act that uses a Samson Airline Microphone, I always know at some point it’s going to give them some trouble. I know tons of performers swear by these microphones, however I’m not convinced. Usually there’s interference or the just plain drop out during the show.

Part of the problem could be that it has a very limited number of channels it can use. If there’s already things on the three frequencies it can use or other things trying to use them, that may be the problem.

It could be that the people who swear by these mics work in small venues that don’t have a lot of other radio frequencies going around. They may work perfectly at a school, but take it out to a busy fairground where there’s a lot more trying to use radio frequencies and from what I’ve seen, you’ll have trouble.

I use a Sennheiser mic pack and it has tons of channels it can scan. Sure it’s more expensive, but it’s never let me down (except for operator error).


The Road to FISM

Yesterday was travel day to get to Quebec City for FISM. It’s been quite a journey, I bought tickets when they first when on sale, so I’ve had me ticket for around 4 years! This is a bucket list item for me, and I’m glad I get to attend!

There have been a lot of challenges just to physically get there. I was performing outside of Reno and booked a flight from Reno to Quebec City. That flight got cancelled and the airline moved my departure airport to Sacramento, about 3 hours drive. Then my flight got cancelled again and the only way to get to Quebec City was to drive almost 6 hours at night to San Francisco to get on a 6am flight yesterday!

I finished my shows Sunday and drove into the night and slept a few hours in my car at the airport. I got to the airport and I have a lounge pass, and when I went into the lounge for a cup of coffee, I noticed they had SHOWERS!

I was probably really stinky from doing three shows in the sun, then driving all night and sleeping in my my car. The shower refreshed me!

This is one of the little things that having a luxury like an airline’s lounge pass gets you. I was able to take a shower at the airport and now my travel day was way less depressing! If you travel by airplane frequently, I highly recommend getting a lounge pass. Do some research and figure out which one is best for you. I use the Alaska Plus lounge pass, as my home airport has three Alaska airlines lounges and I can usually use American Airlines lounges as well. they’re not cheap, but I get my value out of them with the amount I fly.

I missed the first day of FISM as it was my travel day, but I’m excited for today!

Cut and Restored Rope

Last week I bought some rope on a whim and started playing with cut and restored rope in my show. I used to do this a long time ago when I was starting out in comedy clubs. Technically my routine was a mix of Steve Bedwell‘s and Michael Finney‘s routines. It worked well at the time and served its purpose, but I really haven’t done cut and restored rope in the show in a 15+ years.

I’m having fun with the trick, and pretty much doing it how I used to do it. However, for me to do it in the show, I need to contribute something to the trick. One thing I did today was start to come up with conditions for the routine. The first condition is that I want all of the cuts to happen with the middle of the rope sticking out of the hand and the ends dangling:

cut and restored rope

I think this is a much more natural and fairer looking way to hold the rope than the standard method where you switch the end for the middle.

Then with further writing I hit on another idea (from the past!)

cut and restored rope

Using a circle of rope instead of an extra length of rope will allow me to get two cuts without having to add any rope and both cuts can be done from the desired hand position!

The next challenge is figuring out how to get rid of the circle of rope once it’s been cut twice and is two pieces of rope. Once I solve that, I need to start doing some writing on what to say!


PS. You’ll notice I have drawing in my notebook. I’m using drawing more and more. I highly recommend getting the book Sketch Notes, it really helped me learn to add drawings.

A Better 21 Card Trick!

I’m a huge fan of letting people show me tricks. I’ve written about it many times on this blog. Not only does it let the spectator shine, it encourages them to keep doing magic tricks!

Every now and then I get surprised and this kid showed me a great trick! It was like a way better version of the 21 card trick. It used three reverse faro shuffles and only 8 cards, so it was very fast when compared to the 21 card trick.

The ending was nice, as it wasn’t just a “Here’s your card”, it was a three phase reveal.

Full disclosure, I’m not the biggest fan of this type of reveal for what I do in my work, but the kid did it well and got a good reaction. I can’t argue with that!


Some Close Up Magic…

The fair I’m performing at this week has me doing street shows. On the mornings of the slower days I’m doing some more close up style magic for people. Here’s a sample of what I’m doing:

You can see part of the Horizontal Ambitious Card that I recently started doing. It currently has three phases, ending with the card inside the card box. I’m really having a lot of fun with the routine, as it gives me a lot more room to play with the audience within the trick.

This is why it’s important to keep playing with a trick, even when you it’s a solid trick and your “A” material. If you keep playing you can find new bits or ways to do it. I’m of the mindset that a trick is never finished!


Magician Talk…

Every few weeks on one of the social media magic groups someone will post something like, “stop saying, what I want you to do” or something similar. When that’s posted, I usually ask what the original poster says instead and never get an answer, or at least one that’s better than “what I want you to do“.

Last night in the hotel room I had the TV on while I was returning emails and I there was a ghost hunting show on. One guy was inside the haunted house and the other guy was outside monitoring whatever sensors they had and giving the person inside instructions over a walkie talkie.

The conversation went like this:

Outside Guy: “Can you do me favor and stand in the corner behind you?
The guy inside moved
Outside Guy: “Perfect

That just confirmed to me that saying the things that a lot of magicians say are sometimes the best way to get a point across. Then at the end the confirmation of them doing the correct task by saying something like perfect or excellent is just how people talk and has nothing specifically to do with magicians.

Feel free to use other phrases, but don’t feel bad if you say the things that some magicians say annoy them.