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!
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.
Yesterday in a Facebook group Ray Franklyn posted this trick, which I find the whole presentation hook of the name Fu Ling Yu to be demeaning to Asians (full disclosure, I’m asian). It’s a joke that may have worked in 1945, but not now.
The BIG issue I have is that it’s not an original joke and doesn’t have a point of view. He’s making fun of a group of people for the sole purpose of making fun of them. And he’s put zero thought into why he does it. The Fu Ling Yu joke is older than me. He’s doing it because he saw someone else do it. That’s not art, that’s being lazy. Just because it was socially acceptable to do it 60 years ago doesn’t make it OK now. If he used the Fu Ling Yu joke to illustrate some larger point of view, I probably wouldn’t have an issue with it.
Do I think Ray Franklyn is racist? No, I don’t think that was his intention. Do I think the trick that he choose to do was? Yes
As a creative exercise, I took the same routine and just changed the ethnicity of the magician.
Exact same routine. The only difference is that mine has a point of view and I had to delete my browser history after searching for those images.
Of the two videos on this post: -One is art and has a point of view -One is lazy, demeaning garbage
Please think about what you put out into the world, and if someone calls you on it, don’t just say, “I’ve been doing it that way for years…” Do a little soul searching and think about if what you’re doing hasn’t aged out.
Recently I got to try out the “Free Picture of Beer” gag on a couple of different people. It got the desired laugh, so that’s good.
I also got to try to follow up trick where the full pitcher of beer becomes empty. I’m using the Out to Lunch principle to do the switch. The first time, they didn’t really notice the change. I think this is because they looked at the card and it registered in their brain as just a pitcher of beer, not a FULL pitcher of beer. It’s like showing someone a two of spades, but the spades are red. The average person won’t notice it’s the wrong color until you point it out to them.
The second time I added a little line which made the trick work much better. Once I got the laugh, I asked them, “what kind of beer do you think that is?” This question makes their brain actually process what they are looking at. That made the change at the end a lot more amazing!
I’m glad I got to try out the trick, and glad that I noticed what I needed to change!
Sometimes I think younger magicians don’t give old timers enough credit. The other night I was at a magic club meeting over Zoom and we got talking about chop cup. One of the older members showed us a really cool loading technique that I had never seen before. He used to use it when he did magic behind a bar. The best way to describe it was it was like the Sylvester Pitch done into the cup. It was a really great way to load the cup!
I remember being a kid and while I’ve always loved hearing old magicians talk, many times their moves aren’t very good. It’s not that they aren’t good, they’re just older techniques that have been replaced by better methods. It’s easy to have this cloud your judgement and quickly dismiss what they are doing or talking about.
An example of this is when I was a teenager, I could produce single cards from a back palmed stock in the modern way where you keep the stack behind your hand and peel off a single card. I remember talking about back palming with Mickey Hades and him telling me I was doing it wrong. He taught me to do it the old way of moving the whole stock to the front, peeling off a single card, and then reback palming the stock of cards. It’s a way less efficient way of doing it compared to the more modern way. I can still do it that way (not very well anymore), but more importantly it gave me time to chat with Mickey and that was fun!
If you’re a younger magician, or even an older one, don’t immediately dismiss a magician just because they are older.