The Unconquered Card!

When I was a teenager I had bought The Unconquered Card by Mike Rogers. This is a three card monte routine that’s similar to Michael Skinner‘s three card monte routine, and there’s some debate as to who was doing it first. The cards for the routine are long gone, but recently I came across the book with the set of cards that was pretty beat up.

The Unconquered Card by Mike Rogers
The Unconquered Card by Mike Rogers

The cards were unusable, however I have a few decks of FAKO Cards and other packs that are full of different gaffs. I was able to find the needed cards for the trick!

The Unconquered Card by Mike Rogers

I’m having fun relearning the trick and I think that I’m going to record a couple of phases and use it in my preshow video.


On The High Wire by Philippe Petitt

On The High Wire by Philippe Petitt

My airplane reading last week was On The High Wire by Philippe Petitt. While not magic, it’s about variety/circus arts which is relatable. I thought this going more of a biography, but it’s not it’s a technical manual for high wire walking!

By technical manual, there’s not a lot of specific and it teaches it in very general terms. It’s a very fun read. The way he talks about high wire walking, he’s clearly in love with it and that passion carries the book.

It got me wondering why there aren’t really magic biographies for the general public written as technical manuals that teach techniques in broad strokes. They wouldn’t have to really give away any specific secrets that would spoil any tricks. It’d be an interesting read if someone was able to write one. I’m nowhere near a good enough writer to do that.


The First Ambitious Card

I love magic history, and learning where things I did come from. I’m still working through the JP Vallarino book and got to Vallarino’s Ambitious Card routine.

JP Vallarino book

In it he mentions the first place that the Ambitious Card was publish. It was in a french book called Recueil de Tours de Physique Amusante. That title sounded familiar, so I went to my bookshelf and I have that book!

Recueil de Tours de Physique Amusante

Unfortunately I can’t read french, so I can’t confirm it’s in there. It was cool to be reminded of a bit of history that lived on my shelf!


The Case Against Classics

If you know me, you know I don’t believe the theory that you should do classic magic tricks because, “classics are classics for a reason“. You should do classic tricks like linking rings or whatever because they have a purpose in your show.

I do believe that as a beginner, learning and doing those trick has a purpose. However as you grow, you should grow out of them, or create a reason why they’re in your show.

When I was reading Psychology of Magic: From Lab To Stage, this paragraph stuck out to me:

Audiences are smart, and contrary to a lot of “advice” many have seen a lot of magic on TV and social media. With shows like Fool Us and America’s Got Talent, your typical audience has seen stuff and you just banging out the linking rings because “it gets a reaction” doesn’t cut it anymore.

If you’re doing a classic, figure out how to give it purpose in your show to move the story of you further and not because it fills time.


Damn Good Advice

Way back in October my buddy Mickey O’Connor recommended the book Damn Good Advice. I ordered it on Amazon and read it on the a flight recently.

damn good advice (for people with talent) by george lois

This book is written by a graphic designer and the advice is really tailored to that industry, however a lot applies to being a performer. This book is an easy read and is broken down into 120 suggestions.

One of the take aways for me is to be willing to walk away from things that aren’t a good fit. For example, I don’t perform in costume for events. It’s not a hard rule and if it’s something simple like it’s a “red” themed event and I have something that fits no problem. However if it’s something like a superhero event and they want me to wear a cape, it’s a hard no…unless they’re will to pay a crap ton of money for me to wear it. My character doesn’t work in most costumes and I know that. By performing in a costume I’m doing a disservice to the client and myself. It’s a no win.

When someone brings in headline entertainment for their event, and asks them to change how they do things, it will effect the quality of the product. Sure you can practice and rehearse with the changes, but there’s no guarantee it will make the product as good as what is before the changes. Also it add a lot more time to practice and rehears, which adds cost and 99% of the time the buyer doesn’t want to pay more for a lesser product.

When you’re starting out as a performer it’s important to say YES to everything to gain experience. However as you become more experienced it’s OK to say NO.


Kidshow Magic Kompendium

David Ginn's Kidshow Magic Kompendium

While I’m stuck in the office for a few days while I have my COVID isolation, I decided to read a book that I haven’t read yet. The book I grabbed was David Ginn’s Kidshow Magic Kompendium and a little ambitious of a read at over 500 pages!

This book is does a great job of laying out what makes a good kid show trick! You get complete routines with most of the tricks as well. There aren’t necessarily complete descriptions to how the things work or how to build them as there are many dealer items and things that the average person couldn’t make at home. I don’t think this is a bad thing, but just something to be aware of.

If you want a solid foundation of kid show performing and props, this book is great! I’m about 200ish pages into the book and it’s a fun read. David gives you advice and stories from the past.

It looks like this book is $35 on and for that price it’s a steal if you’re getting into or want to learn more about kids magic!


The Psychology of Magic

My recent airplane reading was that I started the book The Psychology of Magic. I originally heard of this book from my buddy Chris Beason, and I picked up this copy back in June at Misdirection Magic Shop in San Francisco.

The Psychology of magic from lab to stage

I’m not too far into the book, but so far it’s really interesting. In this book they’re using lab style testing for magic. The beginning of the book they’re using lab study type groups to learn more about card forces. It’s really interesting what results they came up with.

The other eye opening thing was a prediction that’s 1-4 or 1-100 has basically the same impact!

So far I recommend this book!


Trying to Read More

I’m trying to do a lot more reading in my free time. I have a huge stack of things to go through and I just started reading From Witchcraft to Card Tricks by Stephen Minch.

This is a short paper backed book follows the history of card and close up magic and it’s very interesting! Lots of things that became popular 200 years after they were first invented. It’s a real eye opener, ever you wonder who invented the double lift or at least the first place it appeared in print? This book answers that!

I totally recommend it if you’re a magic nerd like me!


Scripting Magic Vol 2

I just started reading Scripting Magic Vol 2 by Pete McCabe on a flight recently. One interesting thing that he does in the book is lays out a trick and asks how you would turn it into a performance piece, or what you would do with it.

One of the tricks he does this with is a mathematical trick using matches. Essentially you can control the number of matches in the middle pile of three piles where you don’t know how many total matches there are and don’t need to look at the matches. There’s only a few steps to the math, and they aren’t that complex.

Following the exercise, before I read the routine I wrote out a little routine of my own for the trick. Here it is:

My wife says I can gamble on anything. Duh, I’m Chinese, we gamble, squat and smoke.

The greatest bet I ever lost was to my bok bok… uncle Frank.

He’d gamble on anything…the lottery, the horse track eating at a BBQ restaurant in a white neighborhood.

I’m going to show you our final bet and my last memory of him.

Here grab that pack of matches off the hostess stand, or first full of Pennies from the jar at the counter.

He wrote on the dinner bill the 3 moves he’d make. He’d committed to those

(Take out old receipt)

The rules are simple, if we tie he wins. Anything other than a tie and I win.

Make three equal piles…I have no idea how many there are, so if there’s a remainder, put it in your pocket, so you have something to show for it.

No matter what he gets the middle pile.

Give me a number 1-9

(Nail write adjustment)

Wow, that’s the same number I said!

His middle pile will be a tie with your number, not more, not less.

(Follow instructions on reciept)

We tied and all I have to show for it was this receipt for dinner…and over 40 years of memories

That’s the routine that I wrote, keep in mind I wrote it in the notes app on my phone on the flight, so it’s probably got some errors. The point is to not just read the book, but to actually do the work.


The Fog Machine of War by Matt Disero

On a recent flight I read The Fog Machine of War by Matt Disero. This a great book full of short essays / stories by Matt about his career and experience as a full time comedy magician.

The Fog Machine of War

There’s a ton of great stories in the book, but the value of the book is the advice. It goes from everything from working with agents, to using production elements, to trying out new material onstage.

There’s tons to learn from Matt’s failures, which he openly shares. Failures are things that magicians don’t talk about enough, especially in print. With magicians and their egos, most put out the facade that they always crush every show and have never bombed. Matt opens up about bad shows and that’s were the learning happens.

I highly recommend The Fog Machine of War if you’re a comedy magician of any level!