Vanishing Alarm Clock

A little while ago I agreed to do a school assembly tour next year. I’ll be doing 2-4 shows a day for about 8 weeks. For me doing these tours is about generating new material. Doing 15-20 shows a week, you really can take something and polish it, or know it’s not for you.

I was trying to think of a something to tie a bunch of unrelated ideas together. It hit me the other day, use idioms as the thing that links everything. An idiom is a saying, like “a broken clock is right twice a day” or “keep me in the loop“.

vanishing alarm clock

Those are two examples of things I’m working on right now for the show.

A while ago I ended up with a lot of vintage magic props. One of them is the stand for an old vanishing alarm clock. I went out and ordered an alarm clock with bells that ring and rigged it to work with a remote control. The idea is that alarm clock will come out of a box. It will be covered up with a handkerchief and hang on the stand. It will ring, then vanish. Then there will be ringing from the box it originally came out of and it will be back inside the box!

I’m excited to be able to have a use for a prop like this in my show, as this style of prop doesn’t normally have a spot in what I do.

-Louie

Tape Measure Prediction…

One of the tricks that I’m trying to move out of my preshow and into the main body of my show is my version of Iain Bailey’s Measure For Measure trick. This is a tape measure prediction, you pull out the tape and someone says “stop” and there’s a giant arrow drawn on the back where they stopped. I totally reworked Iain’s gimmick so that it works way better for how I perform and the conditions that I perform in. You can read a little bit about it on this blog post.

The challenge I’ve had with it was getting the effect to really hit. It was getting an “meh” sort of reaction. What fixed it was that I added a phase to the beginning of the trick. This first phase I used a separate tape measure and the person from the audience says “stop”, but misses the prediction and it’s wrong. I tell them they will get it wrong the first time, but will get it right the second time. I think this really sets up what’s going to happen the second time and makes their brain processing the effect much faster.

I’ve managed to get a couple more laughs out of the routine as I’ve been working on it this summer. It’s slowly becoming a more fleshed out routine. I just need to do the work, which is writing, testing and editing.

-Louie

Fair and Festival Roving…

I think I was scrolling through facebook and I came across this video on the props that another magician uses for strolling at a fair:

There’s a lot of stuff in this that I disagree with, but the first thing is what he says he wears. He says his costume (whatever you wear while performing is a costume) is a t shirt and cargo shorts. I’m someone who is pretty dressed down compared to most magicians, but I don’t think I would perform in a Tshirt and shorts.

The other thing that I don’t agree with is how much material the he’s taking. I should say that I don’t agree with it “for me”. You really don’t need that many props, you’re doing roving, not a formal 22 minute magic castle close up set.

Here’s the props for my roving set:

That’s a 20 minute set if I wanted to do it as a long chunk, however I normally wouldn’t do it that way. Normally I’d do it as a 5-10 minute set. There’s a lot of variety in what you see there. Obviously there’s a lot that I can do with the deck of cards, then there’s the linking pins and finally the wallet. The wallet is a card to wallet, but inside it I have my Splitting Image trick, and a bunch of business cards that I can do mentalism with.

That’s the core set, then if I’m working on something new, I will add that to my those props. The whole works will fit into my two front pockets. Just because you have a ton of pocket space, it doesn’t mean you need to fill them with tricks!

-Louie

Remote Control Alarm Clock as a Running Gag!

When I made a remote control alarm clock a few weeks ago, my intent was to use it with my Vanishing Alarm Clock stand. This summer for the kid shows I’m doing, I put in the remote control alarm clock in the place of my Remote Control Chattering teeth as a running gag in the show.

At the beginning of the show I take out the alarm clock and say “It’s time to start the show” and the alarm clock rings. Then throughout the show whenever I say the word “time” the alarm clock rings. I don’t call attention to the connection of the word time and the ringing of the alarm clock. I let the audience discover that, and the do fairly quickly.

This gag definitely has it’s roots in Pee Wee’s Playhouse with their use of a secret word and when it’s said everyone screams. I like the gag because it’s not exactly a look don’t see as it’s an action that’s triggered by something else happening, so it’s funny, but the kids don’t feel a need to explain anything to you after the connection of the word and action are established.

I have a feeling this is going to be a great lead into the vanishing alarm clock once I have finished making the couple of extra props that I need for it.

-Louie

Projector Bills…

I was scrolling through Instagram last night and came upon a picture of overhead projector bills.

I was thinking of what could be done with these. I think you could create a makeshift projector using the flashlight on your phone. If you combined that with a glass table I think you could do some fun stuff on the ceiling.

One thought was you could do a “touch the screen” type effect with the bills on the ceiling for a group of people.

If you have a $1, $5, $10, $20 and $50 dollar bills and line them up in numerical order, you can do some spell count procedures to eventually force a bill. The basic routine would be:

  • Touch a bill and spell the value of it (ie ONE), jumping one bill per letter and keep touching that bill
  • Remove the end bills ($1 and $50)
  • Spell the value of one of the eliminated bills (ONE or FIFTY)
  • They are now on the $10

You could then reveal the prediction of having a ten dollar bill in your phone case.

-Louie

Arrow Production…

I was hanging out with Chris Beason the other day and we were chatting about some tricks with a dollar bill.

One idea I had was that you mention that there are 13 arrows that the eagle is holding on the back of a dollar bill. You then do a double take and notice your bill has 14 arrows and is a misprint. You then pull a full size arrow out of the dollar bill!

It would be pretty easy to do, you’d need a gimmick like an appearing straw, but only about 24 inches long and glue an arrowhead to one end. Or cut the end to a point and paint it silver. It could be kept in a thumb tip, and possibly put a slit in the side of the tip to allow the arrow to be removed from it. The thumb tip is really only there to keep the arrow compress and easier to handle when rolled up.

While not the worlds greatest mystery, it would be a decent sight gag.

-Louie

Chair to Suitcase…

For some reason I’ve always wanted a Chair To Suitcase. This is simply a chair that folds up into suitcase and was popularized in the USA by Horace Goldin in the 1930’s. I’m not sure why I want one, or what they heck I’d do with it. Recently I had a chance to buy one and now I own one.

Here it is as a chair:

And here it is as a suitcase:

This particular one will hold my weight if I sit on it, but I really don’t think it necessary. I think if I used it, it’s be something that held my props, like a makeshift table. For something like a cabaret show or when doing a short set it may be useable. I have a feeling it’s something that will just kick around for a while and I’ll either figure out a use for it, or eventually sell it.

-Louie

Spirit bell

A couple of months ago I had a garage sale find of a lot of vintage magic. I sold most of the props a few weeks ago. I kinda regretted selling the spirit bell that was part of that find. Well, the magic gods led me to another spirit bell! This one belonged to John Pomeroy whose company was GEM magic.

This one is a little bit bigger than the previous one that I had, it’s also heavier. The nice thing is that I have an extra glass bell. This one doesn’t have a stand, but it does have the wand that makes it ring.

The wand on this one has a better design than on the other one. The previous one had a button you pressed, where this one has a button you slide. The sliding action is more ergonomic and makes your hand move less when the bell rings.

Life is funny sometimes, I’ve never seen a spirit bell in person, and in the span of four months, I’ve owned two different ones!

-Louie

Horizontal Ambitious Card

A long time ago I was chatting with Nick Lewin and we were talking about the Ambitious Card. He said it was the “greatest card trick ever” and I agree with him! With the base effect, you put a card in the middle and it’s instantly on top. Very easy to follow. I do think that most modern versions are really multiple revelations of a selected card, as it’s more than the card simply jumping to the top.

A couple of weeks ago I started doing the ambitious card from a spread. Here’s what it looks like:

When I do it there are two phases, the first I push the card in and in the second they do. That gives it a sense of build. I like getting to play a little bit with having them move their finger along the spread of cards.

I’m liking doing it this way when I have a table. It doesn’t play the same with the cards spread in my hand. I think it’s because with the cards in my hand, it feels less impossible.

Give it a try!
-Louie

Rubber Canary!

A couple of days ago I wrote about there being two kinds of Nielson Latex Canaries and that I prefer the lighter color as it’s thinner. The reason is that it’s a thinner latex. If it happens to stick out of the cage during the vanish it doesn’t really hang up on your sleeve. Here’s what the cage looked like after I pulled it out of my sleeve yesterday:

baby lindy vanishing birdcage

When I noticed that I made a quick video to explain the difference:

While the difference in the firmness of the latex isn’t much, one thing I’ve learned about the cage is that a lot of small things that end up making a huge difference!
-Louie