Yesterday I wrote about doing magic trick where a picture of famous art starts blurry, the magically becomes in focus. In the example I used yesterday it was the Mona Lisa, however it just hit me this morning and I’m getting ready to pack for a trip to New Orleans for the Sideshow Hootenanny was that I should make the trick themed to New Orleans.
I remembered that on my first trip to New Orleans that I randomly came across Banksy’s Nola (Rain or Umbrella Girl) on a street corner. Using Nola for the trick makes more sense as it’s local to where I’ll be.
There’s not much to the trick, it’ll simply be a flap card that changes from a blurred image to an in focus image.
A quick Google search shows that the art has been moved to a hotel, so no longer on a street corner. I could do the trick from where the art was…
This is a good example of trying to give a trick some context, more than just check out this ace of hearts that changes to a two of club. Sometimes there’s nothing wrong with just having eye candy, but some sort of context is always nice!
As I get older, my up close vision has started to go. Reading had gotten difficult and when I realized that during my morning writing, I couldn’t read what I had just written I knew it was time to go to the eye doctor. He prescribed me glasses for reading and what a difference it makes!
Having a new view on the world…as long as it’s about 12 inches from my face got me thinking about a trick that has to do with vision. My first idea was to have blurry writing on a notecard that then changed to in focus writing that was readable. The problem with that idea is that it’s small, it wouldn’t really play for many people, unless it was a social media video.
The next idea is better, it’d be a picture of the Mona Lisa, or whatever, but blurry. Then it changes to in focus.
This could easily be accomplished by making it like a flap card.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever do this, but I think it is a good idea!
One of my favorite tricks that I did last month in my school assembly show is my Take Out Box. This is a utility box that I created that can make items appear, disappear or change. In the show I used it to make a Tennis Ball Appear.
Here’s it in action:
What I like about this is that it’s a magic box that’s a normal box…well by normal I mean something that people have seen before. It’s also handheld, so you don’t need a table. Personally I’m anti-tricks that happen on a table in stage/parlor shows as the table puts a barrier between you and the audience. The table also limits the sight lines of what can be seen. The exception would be if you’re using projection.
The extra bonus is that the box is versatile. It has more than one use, unlike many other stage magic props.
Last weekend I picked up the Thurston Scrapbook that was put out by Phil Temple. This book is Grace Thurston’s autobiography of life with Howard Thurston. I started reading it and there’s a lot going on that doesn’t hold up to modern standards. I’m only about 30 pages into it and it’s really changed my view of Howard Thurston.
It begins when a 29 year old Howard meets a 15 year old Grace at a train station and convinces her to go on the road with him. He then takes her shopping for clothes and says that they can deduct the cost from her wages. In modern times this is human trafficing behavior. He took her from her family to a different state and now she owes him money, so she’s stuck with him. Then he gets her to lie about her age so that they can get married.
On the first few pages she casually mentions he beat her, so there’s that. I think that men hitting women was more common an accepted by society in 1898 than it is now almost 125 years later.
At the time that they met Thurston was working as a sideshow barker and much of his troupe performed in brownface. Once again, this was more acceptable in late 1800’s than it is now. These are things that aren’t really brought up in the stories that old magicians would recite about him.
A common story about Howard Thurston that older magician would tell me when I was a kid was about his preshow ritual. Howard would stand in the wings and say, “I love my audience” to himself before he stepped onstage. In the book Grace mentions several times that he refers to his audience as “suckers”. I figure I should mention this is early in his career while he’s still working in carnivals, so that may change later.
I’m curious if more of what I was told or assumed about Howard Thurston will change as I continue reading this book.
Over the last few years I’ve started to really prefer the Sanada Gimmick over a thumb tip for stage use. I primarily use it for a bill switch and it allows me to not fold up the bill as small as with the a thumb tip. This makes it play a little bit bigger, but also I think looks more fair.
When I use something like a thumb tip or Sanada Gimmick, I try to stock up on them so that I always have them. I just had 10 arrive in the mail.
These are just for general use whenever I need them. Having access to a lot of them allows me to make some custom gimmicks with them like my tennis ball to confetti gimmick.
If there’s something you use, stock up on it, you never know when they’ll be temporarily or permanently unavailable.
I was going through my list of ideas to record for Tik Tok and one of them was going to the park and recording my Tennis Ball to Confetti. That trick wasn’t a priority, until I noticed that today is National Play Tennis Day. Obviously that make the trick a perfect fit for the day!
It’s been an exciting couple of days for books! A couple of weeks ago I won a stack of Will Goldstonbooks from an auction house in Florida.
Will’s books are interesting as I’m not sure who they are written for. The descriptions of how things work are very brief almost like they’re written for a general non magician audience, however the tricks aren’t things that an amateur magician could really make without a well equipped wood and metal workshop. Also without knowledge of the props and magic in general, you really couldn’t make them based on the descriptions in the books.
I did find a little surprise inside one of the books:
The Sensational Tales of Mystery Men is signed by Peter Kane! Peter is essentially the person that created Wild Card and the card trick The Elongated Lady. I’ve got a couple emails out to some people who may know if that signature belongs to that Peter Kane or a different person with the same name.
Over the long President’s Day weekend my family went on a trip to Oregon. One of the places we stopped was Powell’s Books in Portland. Powell’s is one of the largest independent bookstores in the USA and has a nice mix of new and used books.
It took a bit of hunting to find their magic trick section!
They had a bunch of magic books, lots of newer ones and some older ones. I found the Thurston Scrapbook that Phil Temple put out in the 1980’s.
I’ve always been interested in Tommy Wonder’s Cups and Balls routine. I finally plunked down the cash and picked up this set:
Right out the gate, I think the bag is a little bit too small (not long enough) for the cups. You need to be able to tie it shut with the string with the cups in the bag. I really had to force/stretch the bag to get the cups into it and tie it shut. This isn’t a huge deal, as over time I imagine it will stretch and get easier (I hope).
I started by reading the routine in The Books of Wonder Vol 2 and working it out. The routine didn’t feel right, so I then watched some videos of Tommy performing the routine. There’s a lot of flow that’s missing from the book and it really would have benefitted from having a bullet point list of the effects that happen in the routine.
Here’s one of the videos I watched:
One thing that I noticed about the routine is that it’s not a show stopper like when you see Gazzo, Ammar or Bob Read do the cups. At the end of those, there’s a punctuation at the end, a definite end. Tommy’s routine is more of a middle piece than a closer.
In Tommy’s book he mentions that he’s known to magicians for his cups and balls. There’s a clue there, I don’t think he thought it was the best for non-magicians. It’s certainly innovative in how the loads were done, with none from the body/pockets, and resets instantly, but I’m not sure that translates to non magicians as much as it appeals to magicians.
I’m going to learn the routine, and give it a try, hopefully I can get it down in about a month for a week long run of shows I’ll be doing next month.
One of the routines that I really liked that I was doing on the school assembly tour was my tennis ball routine. It opens with a production of a single tennis ball from my Take Out Production Box, then it goes into mulitplying balls style routine and ends with a tennis ball turning into confetti.
Here’s the routine:
At about the 1:50 mark you’ll notice one of the kids in the middle showing the kid next to her that she thinks the balls are coming out of my sleeve. When I reviewed video of the show I noticed that, I added a bit where I show my sleeves empty. It’s a little thing, but it makes the routine stronger.
I really like this routine and would like to use it elsewhere, however the challenge is that I need the book to ditch the final tennis ball. I’ll need to figure out another way to ditch the final palmed ball.