The 5th Shuffle

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.

Unseen Kicker…

Lately, I’m trying to be better at directed practicing. This is working on something specific, versus just playing around with palms, or whatever. Last night I was I was practicing the Quad-Triumph that I posted about recently. Basically this is a Triumph type card effect that uses four shuffles instead of the traditional single shuffle.

One thing that hit me was that at the end there could be a subtle kicker. Right now the cards start in a mixed order and they end in a mixed order. If they ended in a known order, that would add a layer to the trick. Ideally that known order would be new deck order.

Last night I was able to figure out how to get the cards into an order that was one half red and the other half black and the end. Unfortunately this little touch will largely go unnoticed as it happens at the same time as the cards all facing the same direction. It’s one of the those things that if a magician see it, it will add to the effect to them. It’s the little things, things that don’t need to be there and won’t be seen by most people are what makes something art.

This is visually pretty good, and definitely takes the trick a step further. It’s a good compromise for now, but I have a feeling I’ll be working more to figure out how to get it into new deck order.

Relearing Zarrow…

the Zarrow Shuffle

Sometimes it feels like I’m perpetually cleaning my office. Yesterday I came across the DVD The Zarrow Shuffle by Herb Zarrow. I watched the very beginning and realized that I learned to do this wrong. What I’m doing looks fine, but they first way the Herb demonstrates looks way better!

When I learned to do the shuffle, it was in the context of the trick Triumph. For the Zarrow Shuffle, I slip cut one card. I used that method for other tricks as a false shuffle. If you slip cut a block, it’s soo much more deceptive than with a single card. Also Herb’s way of jogging the cards is much more deceptive than pushing them out with your index fingers.

I’m glad I came across this, but now I’ve got a challenge ahead of me. I’ve got to undo 25+ years of the way that I’ve been doing it. The changes are fairly minor, so hopefully it won’t be too much of a pain.

Recently I did this unlearning and relearning process with how I get a card injogged. I figured out a way when I was a kid by reading something wrong and it worked for me. However I relearned to do it Jerry Andrus‘s way because it looks better.

Don’t be afraid to unlearn thing if there’s a new (to you) way of doing it that looks or works better than what you were doing before. I know it’s a pain to spend time basically learning to do something you can already do, but I think it’s the little things like that that make someone an artist.

Quad-Triumph…

Here’s a video of the Triumph shuffle sequence that I wrote about yesterday. The view is my view, so you can see an angle of the cards that the audience wouldn’t normally get to see.

I kinda like the four shuffles where you flip half over each time, but I still don’t think it’s better than the standard Triumph routine that most people do.

More Wild Card…

Yesterday I wrote about working on a trick by removing what you don’t like about it. The specific trick I was writing about is Wild Card. I came up with three things I didn’t like, and there were easy fixed for the first two, but he third was more or a challenge.

For the routine, I was thinking you’d take six cards out of a deck. Then a card would be selected and when rubbed on the six cards they change into the selected card. For the finale, you rub the selected card on the rest of the deck and all of the cards change into the selected card.

I’m not sure if that’s been done before, but it’s a decent flow of the routine. It changes it from a packet trick and into a full deck card trick.

The pain will be to build a deck that’s all the same card and to make the needed gaffed cards.

First Full Show…

I just had my first full in person show in over six months! I’ve done shorter shows, but this was the first full one. It’s the most nervous I’ve been in a long time, I knew it was nerves, and I didn’t let them get the best of me.

The shorter show’s I’ve been doing were designed specifically for a 20 min set and didn’t have any of my normal full show material in it. I did a couple of run through’s of the show, it was amazing how much of the show came back immediately.

I was also surprised at what I forgot to do once the show started. I do a nest of boxes, and what comes out of it is something from the beginning of the show. I forgot to do the bit that allows me to get the item. At the end of the show, when I started to do the boxes, I realized I didn’t have anything to come out of them. I took the did a quick card trick and the signed card came out of the nest of boxes.

It was fun to be in front of an audience again!

Different Hook Up…

One of the effects in magic that I don’t do in my show is a levitation. It doesn’t fit with my character, or at least I haven’t found a way to make it fit. I’ve create a couple different levitation tricks, but they aren’t things that I would do. However this one is my favorite:

Method wise it’s pretty solid, it’s self contained and there’s a redundant system in case the gimmick breaks during the trick. It’s also casually examinable before and after the trick. It solves a lot of the reasons why I don’t from a technical standpoint do any tricks that use this method and that’s that they are fragile.

My method is loosely based on a Ben Harris card trick. The gimmick is very different from Ben’s, if you took his card and swapped it for a bill, the trick wouldn’t work. For me, this floating bill trick is a good example of creating some sort of art that’s pretty much for the sake of creating.

Bad Magic…

Howard Hamburg D Lecture notes

A while ago I picked up a used copy of Howard Hamburg’s D Lecture notes. One of the things the mentions in it was that Dai Vernon didn’t like was kicker endings. Vernon’s thinking was here’s the trick I’m showing you, and now here’s something completely different that doesn’t make sense…ta-dah!

Now let’s fast forward to a magic video that was posted in a facebook magic group recently. Watch this:

Did he get your card?

He didn’t find mine.

Now let me tell you what’s wrong with the video of the trick:

First of all, he didn’t find my card! If you tell me to pick a card and don’t find it, I don’t care what else happens, it’s going feel unresolved.

Next, the switch out of the pocket is sloppy. It may work in a in-person context where you are talking to people, but not in a video with zero presentation.

Finally the reveal of the fan of cards changing is just bad magic. When the hand holding 4 cards drops out of frame multiple times and for an extended period of time right before you reveal the change, it’s just not good magic.

Add these up and it’s a bad presentation of a trick.

This trick needs a presentation that’s not a promise that will be unfulfilled (unless you get lucky). Also, t he performer needs to be aware that their need to keep their props in frame. It doesn’t matter if you don’t need to drop out of frame or not, it detracts from the magic. Or if you do need to move out of frame, try to hide it and don’t to it immediately before the reveal.

Now go out and do good magic.

Small Changes…

In the past on this blog I’ve written about progressive anagrams and fishing as a great methods for virtual shows. Here’s another video of me using the Mind Power Deck by John Kennedy.

The small change that I have made in this trick from the video I posted a few weeks ago is that I’m revealing the card before I ask them what card they are thinking of. I think it’s a way stronger trick because I’ve committed to the prediction before they reveal what they are thinking of.

Yes, there are risks doing it this way, but I think the benefits outweigh the risks.

Ace Production…

In yesterday’s blog post I wrote about a four ace production that I saw on social media and why it wasn’t good. This morning I’m going into my social media and found a four ace production from about a year ago. If I remember correctly this is from Principia by Harapan Ong.

Here’s why the is a better trick that the one that I shared yesterday:

  • I’m talking, it fills the dead space a bit better
  • No procedural shuffling
  • You get an ace production right away
  • The final ace production is magical and puts an punctuation on the trick

Is the ace trick that I did the best? No, however it’s way better than the one that I shared yesterday. Think about what you’re sharing before you put it out there.