Awhile ago I wrote about a card trick I was working on that used an Amazon Alexa for the reveal (you can read the blog posts here and here). Here’s some video of it in action:
It’s a good novelty reveal, the weak spot for me is that I have to briefly see the aces at the beginning. I wanted a trick that would work start to finish without me having to see anything. I came up with the solution. It’s a 100% self working, you wouldn’t need to be in the room for the trick to work. I’ll write about it another time.
Ever since I put out my Take Up Reel, I’ve been invited to a lot of magic zoom get togethers to answer questions about and the vanishing birdcage. I never really thought of myself as an expert at the vanishing birdcage, but apparently I am (or at least people think I am). I don’t think I do anything groundbreaking with the cage, but I have put a lot of time into it and know what I like and don’t like with them.
During one of these magic meetings, someone asked me a great question. They mentioned they showed a video of someone doing the vanishing birdcage to their girlfriend and asked what she thought of it. The girlfriend’s impression of it was the cage looked funny. When asked how she thought it worked she said it was a trick cage designed to disappear. She didn’t know how…
This is a very important observation and it highlights the problem with most vanishing birdcage routines.
The problem is most people only present it as the effect. The cage disappears. When the only thing in the routine is the cage disappearing you live and die by the prop. For example you walk out onstage with a funky looking tiny birdcage with a rubber bird dangling in it. Then the only real “routine” is how impossible the vanish is…of course it’s not going to hold up for a modern audience.
This is where Billy McComb got it right. He started used a mouse not a bird, and it’s a little cage for the obviously not real mouse. The mouse then does some comedy, and then the cage vanishes. The routine isn’t about the cage disappearing, it’s about the mouse doing stupid things.
I think the way to make the Vanishing Birdcage good is to not make it about the cage. You’re selling something else, and the vanish of the cage is a punctuation at the end of the routine!
Last week I had a “Treat Yo Self” day and picked up Gravity by Joao Miranda. This is an electric invisible thread reel and it’s pretty cool. I personally don’t use invisible thread in my in person shows, as there’s too many variables for me to use it reliably. However I do use it frequently for prerecorded videos as I can control the conditions and breaking the thread isn’t really an issue. The main reason I got it was there’s been many times where I needed a thread to be pulled for something and it was just me in the room and had to rig some janky pully system. This should solve that problem.
The Gravity reel has three modes
ITR: It handles like an old school ITR with constant tension on the reel.
Remote: It’s slack until you trigger the remove which will then put tension on the reel.
Programable: You program a series of retractions into the reel
It’s the programable mode that has me the most excited. It’s super easy to program. I’ve wanted to have the bird from my vanishing birdcage routine do a trick in my virtual shows for a long time. Here’s my first attempt at programing the reel:
It was a bit after I made the video that I realized I could probably make the bird and card move at the same time very easily with the Gravity reel. That’ll be something I work on later today. So far I’m loving the Gravity reel!!!
In my continuing quest to make things play bigger, I’ve finally altered a trick that I used close up to hopefully have it play for a bigger audience. The trick started as Huge Shelley’s iCube trick. The problem with his set up was that I found using my phone as a thumper was unreliable. The bluetooth would drop, or I wouldn’t necessarily be able to feel the vibrations.
I then got a ProMystic MD Mini, which is completely reliable. I just didn’t like the look of the cube, so I put the guts into the shell that came with icube and have a little prop that works great for close up!
The next challenge is how to make it play bigger. Right now the cube is about 3/4 of an each on each side. The obvious way it to scale it up to a bigger cube. For that I picked up a Meffert’s Oskar’s Treasure Cube with is a Rubik’s Cube that had a compartment inside.
I put the MD Mini that’s inside the iCube shell into the treasure cube and secured it with sponge. Now I that can be seen in a bigger venue. The next challenge is to figure out a way to show the selected side of the cube. This was a bit of a challenge because if it’s held up and show by someone in the audience, they won’t necessarily do a good job displaying it.
To solve this, I went with an obvious solution, and that’s to put the die is a box with a lid.
The box was a very quick and simple 3D print to design and it only displays one side. No I can simply ask the person to, “take off the lid and show it to the audience” and there’s no issue with displaying the selected color. As a bonus, if the trick ever fails me, I now have an out. I can use it like the old color block trick where you put the lid on the side!
One thing that I’ve been doing are virtual lectures for magic clubs. It’s really a good medium for what I do as I can show video clips of how things actually play, versus how things play for a room of magicians out of context from a real show. The vibe of a lecture is something that’s very different from a show, and when doing the tricks, it’s hard to capture the same energy, so showing the video clips really helps me out!
One of the advantages to doing the lecture from home is that I have soo much stuff within an arm’s reach. If someone asks a question about a trick/prop/routine that I wasn’t planning on talking about, usually I can quickly grab it. With an in person lecture, I’m limited to what I brought with me.
Here’s some feedback from last week’s lecture:
Currently I’m doing these to raise money for the IBM Endowment Fund. The magic club that hosts the lecture makes a donation to the fund in place of my fee.
If your magic club is looking for a lecture…shoot me a note!
In today’s episode of the Moisture Festival Podcast we record from Rabbit Moon Ranch with Tina Lenert on the dial. In this episode, Tina tells us about her rise from surf rock to creating one of the most famous magic routines in the world, the importance of following your passions in life, and how taking notes from David Copperfield helped shape her routines.
We also hear about Tina’s childhood in Venezuela and her role in the first magic festival in Cuba. Oh, and we even discuss Goat Yoga! A fascinating conversation with an amazing person and performer.
It was only a matter of time before I got an inquiry for a gig that required me to be fully vaccinated.
Personally I have no objection to getting the COVID vaccine and knew that not having it may affect my ability to work. I got my vaccine the first chance I was eligible to get it. The big thing to consider is time…if you get the two shot version, you’ve got five weeks until you are fully vaccinated. The waiting period could cost you some work if you wait until the last minute to get it.
I’m not a doctor and don’t take this as medical advice, but for me getting the vaccine at the first chance I had was a good business decision!
Right now I’m reading the book Ching Ling Foo – America’s First Chinese Superstar. Honestly I didn’t know much about him, other than he did a bowl production. I’m about a third of the way through it and am really enjoying it. The author does a great job of describing the challenges of being a Chinese performer in a time that was very anti-Chinese.
It’s just now getting into the feud with Chung Ling Soo who was an American who pretended to be Chinese. In the book, they frequently talk about the bowl production, duck production and the production of Chee Toy (Foo’s daughter).
Apparently at some point there was film of Foo performing, but I haven’t found any online. I did find someone that tried to replicate the three productions that Foo did:
What’s I’m wondering is how big was the bowl that Foo produced? The one in the above video is probably bigger as the title is “outdone”.
About fifteen years ago I attended one of Gazzo‘s masterclasses on street shows. The main focus was on the Cups and Balls, but he also taught the tossed out deck, egg bag and one other card routine. I did his cups and balls routine for a long time, and occasionally still do it.
One of the things that he used in his routine were some fairly unique balls. They were little soccer balls, but they had a texture and density that I had never come across before. The were great and became the standard for many street performers. Unfortunately he hasn’t sold them for years. They feel like something you could walk into any toy shop and buy, however after years of searching I’d never come across them…until recently.
It turns out that I had been looking in the wrong place for them. I found them at the hardware store! I was shopping for something else, and happened to notice them, bought one and it was exactly the same thing!
I wish I was still doing the cups and balls in my main show, as this discovery would have come in super handy a decade ago! The moral of the story is to keep your eyes open, an ideas in the back of your head. As you move through life, look around!
When I was a kid someone let me borrow a VHS tape of a recording of Simon Drake’s Secret Cabaret. This was a TV series from the UK in the early 1990’s (I think) and it was soo far ahead of it’s time. It’s the show that got me into being a David Berglas fan before I knew anything about him.
Here’s one of his routines:
He had two main characters, one was dressed in a top had and tails and the other was dressed in a “mad max” style. Everything that he did on the show was done in a very unique way.
One trick he did was he had two tables and a box on each table. How I remember it was he put something into the box on one table and one the other table, a hand came out of the box holding the item. It was a really cool visual!
It’s something that’s been in my head for a long time. I like the idea of the “instant” transposition. I’ve been kicking around an idea of having two paperbags and thing that go into one, pop out of the second bag. I was thinking of somehow anchoring the second bag upside down, so when I put things into the first (right side up) they fall out of the second bag and onto the floor or table.
The final one would be a coke bottle, and when it goes into your bag you crush it up (latex bottle) and it comes out of the second one and clunks down on the table or shatters on the floor.
Logistically, there’s a lot that would need to be figured out for the trick to work. It’s a “back burner” project for me, but one that I would really like to eventually do!