One of the fun things about magic, is while social media magic is pretty much the same around the world, in person magic has very different trends in different places. Recently I found a couple of DVD’s of a magic convention in Taiwan.
I already had the 2010 DVD, and now have 2014 and 2016. What I love is the difference in how routines are put together, what the emphasis is on. I really enjoy watching them. If you get the chance to watch convention DVD’s from other countries, I highly recommend it!
Last week I did two virtual open mics, I did Tricks of the Trade on Tuesday and The Mostly Magicians Virtual Open Mic on Wednesday. I’m trying to hash out my torn and restored postcard. It’s been hit and miss and I’m trying to figure out why. Here’s a compilation video of the two tear and restore sequences from both shows back to back:
In the first clip I’m going a little bit faster than in the second clip. In both clips I’m in a hurry to ditch the pieces. At the Mostly Magicians open mic that was a piece of feedback I got was that the ditch that time was obvious. That’s great feedback! There’s no reason that I can’t hold out the pieces longer. In fact I can hold them out the whole time, either palming them or holding them behind the postcard.
I also still think it lacks a “tah dah” moment. I think by that I mean a magic moment. I think the unfolding of the card visually isn’t very triumphant. When I was a teenager I put together a jumbo torn and restored playing card for a friends act. The tearing sequence was JC Wangner’s, but the restoration was something I thought of. The four pieces just popped open quickly into a restored card. I had forgotten about that flash restoration until now. I’ll have to give it a try!
One of the things I’m always doing is trying to be more efficient. I’ve been having a difficult time streamlining my virtual show’s prop set up. Essentially what I had were two tables off screen and props would move from one to the other as they were used. This isn’t the worst system in the world, but it does take up a lot of space.
Last night I was playing with a different set up where I had a prop table in front of me but now in view of the camera. It was a much easier way to grab props. However I still have the challenge of having a working table in addition to the two prop tables. That’s when I got the idea of putting a shelf below my working table:
This shelf spins, so that I can rotate it to access different props easily. I’m going to cover it with felt and probably 3d print holders for my props to keep them upright, and in position. The shelf is also at a height where when my hand drops naturally, I could grab, or secretly steal something.
This shelf may be the key in eliminating both of my prop tables, and that will free up some physical performing space!
The book I’m reading right now is Atomic Habits by James Clear. This is about creating new habits and breaking old ones using small steps. I’m about halfway through it and really liking it so far. I’m practicing more, and dinking around on social media less. So that’s a good start.
One thing that was mentioned in the book was the difference between motion and action. Motion is the planning and the action is the actual doing. To relate this to magic, motion is thinking about the method of a trick and trying to look at it from all angles. Action is actually trying the trick of building the prop.
I agree that action is more important that motion and the sooner you start the action part, they more you’ll learn about what you’re working on. You can design and tweak a trick on paper, but it’s you don’t get better at the trick until you start actually doing it.
One of my theories on creating magic is that ideas don’t belong in notebooks. They belong out in the world being performed. The sooner you try the idea, the sooner you know if you will like it, if the audience likes it, or if it’s even a good idea.
Not too long ago I was watching a virtual magic show, and the performer picked me as an assistant from the audience. It’s always awkward when someone picks me to help, as I never know how they want me to act. I usually err on the side of being more reserved when chosen as a helper from the audience.
One thing that I found interesting was how much I felt like a prop as a helper at this specific show. I was pretty much told to do things and make basic choices. It felt like I was talked at, not talked to. I know that a show is different from chatting with someone at dinner. It just felt really strange.
Now this has me thinking about how I interact with people within my show. I’m going to try to talk to people. What I mean by that is not having a deep conversation, but actually listen to them. Many times we ask people things like, “why did you say the number 7?” and they give us an answer, then we just move along. The answer they give us doesn’t always need a response, but frequently there’s something to say, even a sincere “thank you“.
About five years ago I started contributing magic tricks and routines to Vanish Magazine. In that time I’ve published over 60 items in that magazine! Only once (that I’m aware of) that I recreated something that already had been done. The exception to this would be the new routines I published for standard magic tricks.
A new trick was just put out called Impress by Kevin Li and Hanson Chien which is very similar to something I published over a year ago (you can read a blog post about it here). Here’s the trailer for it:
The trick referenced in that blog post from Feb 2019 ended up being published in the September 2019 issue of Vanish Magazine under the title of Second Impression. Here’s the write up of my trick as a .pdf:
I’m curious if they were aware of what I published and gave me a credit?
The idea of making a blister change isn’t a huge leap from making the blister appear. I honestly don’t think my idea was soo novel that no one else could possibly think of it. I do think I was the first person to actually make a working gimmick for it.
Am I upset if I’m not credited?
If they legitimately were unaware of my trick, then it’s all good. However if there were aware, then a credit should be given. There are soo many outlets for people to publish magic, many behind a paywall (in something that you have to purchase like a book, membership to a website, etc) that it’s impossible to know everything that’s out there.
I will 100% say that moving the impression to the person’s palm versus the fingertip big step forward that I couldn’t do with a key. It allows you to hide the altered impression on their hand better than on the finger tip. So it is a step further than what I was doing.
A few weeks ago I posted about a Quad-Triumph routine. It’s a triumph style effect that used four shuffles. Then about a week later, I came up with a kicker where the deck starts and ends in red/black order. I liked the idea of this kicker, but didn’t like that to accomplish it I had to do a straight cut. My Goal was to only have shuffles.
After a bit more work, I “cracked the code” by adding a fifth shuffle. The fifth shuffle was the key to making this work without a cut. Here’s a quick practice video of the sequence.
I think I should restate that this isn’t as good as the standard triumph routine with one shuffle, cutting at the natural break and flipping that half over. That standard way is much more direct. This initially was a fun challenge as I was trying to get the deck into a specific order. I wanted the deck to go face down card, rest of deck face up with the selection face down within the face up deck. That was for a reveal that I wanted to do, but then this kinda grew out of that.
It was fun to figure out, but I’ll probably never do it in a performance.
I made a cleaner video of the coin to cork trick, which I’m giving the title Corkage Fee. This is the title that was stuck in my head.
I cleaned up the handling’s timing a little bit and added some context to the switch of the cork. For a quick social media video, having the balance on the nose at the beginning is a better switch than a shuttle pass. An even better way would have been to start with a bottle of wine that I took the cork out of. I don’t really drink wine, so that’s not something I have kicking around.
Yesterday I wrote about a Cork To Coin effect (read it here) and I’ve taken it a bit further than a simple 2 second trick. It’s not gone much further, but here’s where it’s at:
I like the idea of a transposition between the cork and the coin. It adds a layer of less obviousness to how the trick works. I think I may flesh it out a bit more and rerecord it with better lighting and put it out as a social media video.
Sometimes you get an idea stuck in your head. For me it’s the title of a magic trick, and it’s not a good title either. The title is “Corkage Fee“. For me that just leads to something involving money and a cork. My original idea was a cork turning into dollar bills. The second idea was a cork that disappeared when rolled into a dollar bill. I came up with a barely working version of the second idea.
I started playing with a third idea for a trick using a cork and a coin:
While not the best idea, I think it may have some uses for Instagram type videos.