Sometimes a prop just looks cool and I want to figure out a way to use it. One of those props is the brass plates for the trick Collectors Workshop’s Jaks or Better. The prop consists of two brass plates that are screwed together and dangle from a chain.
Personally I’m not a fan of the trick that the brass plates come with. The Jaks or Better effect is basically a drawing duplication. Someone picks a card and puts it between the two plates. You then draw the picture that they put in between the two brass plates. The effect is fine, I’m not a fan of the method.
The original props looked like this:
About a year ago I bought a set and unfortunately they had changed the brass plates to a powder coated set of red plates. The red plates lack the character that the brass plates have. According to the Viking Magic (who owns Collector’s Workshop) website they switched to the powder coated plates because the brass tarnished.
Personally I think that the tarnished brass is what makes it look cool and interesting.
I’ve had the red set of plates kicking around on my desk for a while and I hadn’t come up with something to do with it. Then as I was heading out to a week or so ago to do a roving magic gig, I had an idea. What if a signed card came out from between the plates?
The method would simply be a double backed card. All I had was a red/blue double backed card, but I grabbed it anyway and put it between the plates.
After arriving early to the gig, I was playing around with the plates in my dressing room and realized I really didn’t need the chain, so I took that off. I also noticed the ring that served as the hinge was too big for what I wanted and didn’t hold the plates tight enough. Luckily I had a small key ring that I could put on it.
Here’s the altered plates:
It really doesn’t look like much difference, but the small ring for the hinge makes a huge difference!
I use blue decks, so the card coming out of the plates out have to be red.
The routine was simple. During my close up set I took the plates out and set them on the table. Then later during my ambitious card routine, after the card has some out of my wallet, I say, “You can keep the card or trade it for what’s in between the metal plates“. 100% of people took the metal plates. What’s fun, is someone every time also said they bet it was the card.
When the plates were unscrewed and a red card came out, it was a great moment to release tension as it clearly wasn’t there card. Then the card is turned over and it is the signed card, and the reveal had a huge impact.
initially my plan was to simply put the card back in between the plates and move on. On the second group I tried it on I handed them the card face up, and was surprised I got a bonus trick when they turned the card over and noticed it now had a blue back!
I thought the color changing back would signal that something fishy was going on, but to my surprise it was interpreted as a trick and it had a great impact!
I don’t know if I’m going to keep using the red powder coated plates, or try to find a brass set, but I do know I’m going to keep doing this bit!
The routine needs a third phase. What I want to do is hold the airpods in my hand and drop the case onto them and they airpods disappear and end up inside the case. That puts a nice third beat and ending to the trick.
For that, I need a duplicate set of airpods. So I couldn’t make the 3rd sequence happed the other day. I’m going to keep my eyes out for a cheap set of broken airpods.
Last week my wife and I had a tourist day in Seattle and part of it we went to see Ira Glass‘s talk called Seven Things I’ve Learned.
At the beginning of it he talks about the title and it’s really just a frame to write a talk around. That was interesting to hear him say that, because essentially that’s what every school assembly magician is doing when they put together a themed show.
At one point during the show, there was an interruption. Someone got up and started yelling that we shouldn’t be laughing when there were people dying in Sudan. I’m not going to call this person a heckler, because it wasn’t really related to what was happening onstage or the performer, it was someone shouting their message. It was unclear whether the person bought a ticket or somehow snuck in.
Ira handled this interruption in an amazing manner! The whole thing felt like it took 5 minutes, but in reality it was probably closer to 90 – 120 seconds. What Ira did was say that the guy is right, that people dying in Sudan was important and that it doesn’t get as much news coverage as it should. He was diffusing the situation. At one point people in the the audiences started booing the guy that interrupted, however Ira kinda shut that down. That’s the right tact, by encouraging the audience to boo, the guy would have gotten louder and louder. Towards the end of the interaction Ira said something like, “I agree with you, the media needs to do better…” and eventually the guy was escorted out.
Then to get the audience back, he did said “I’ve done stories about that…but didn’t feel it was appropriate for a saturday night crowd” and that got a laugh and tension started to leave the room. Then someone in the crowd yelled, “Welcome to Seattle” and Ira replied, “Thanks, so all of your shows have a guy yelling about Sudan…” this got a HUGE laugh and really got the rest of the tension out of the room.
That’s the thing with someone who is interrupting the show with an unrelated matter, no amount of heckler stoppers will do anything. Ira was right by diffusing the situation and not escalating it. Magicians are really bad about escalating their interactions with hecklers or interactions instead of deescalating it. It’s really the better choice in most scenarios, give it a try!
Last week I did a run of school assemblies that were sponsored by a library system to promote their summer reading programs. The show I was doing my my Incredible Idioms school assembly show, which I wrote for a 6 week school assembly tour in January/February of this year.
The challenge remembering the show as the last time I did the show was mid February, so about 3 months ago. What works for me to relearn a show is to listen to audio recordings of the show. This is also why it’s important to record your shows. It’s not hard to do, simply use the voice recorder on your phone.
The week before I had these shows I listened to the audio of the show while I drove in the car or on headphones as I worked around the house. For me passively listening really helps my brain bring back the “mental muscle memory” of the show. This is something that also helps for learning a new show or routine. I record myself doing the script and listen to it over and over while doing other things.
Hope you remember this tip when you need to relearn a show!
The other day I wrote about working on a variation of Alan Wakeling‘s trick Aces Front. Here’s the rough outline of the sequence of events:
I think the sequence is good, where I think there’s a sense of progression. For the first card, I do touch the deck before it goes into the glass. For the second card, it happens with the deck in the glass the whole time and then the card rise for the final card.
What’s fun is my starting point was something like Aces Front, but my end point is something completely different than Aces Front. I always love it when there are a couple of twists in working on a variation of an existing trick that leads you to something completely new.
I’m heading out for my first real road trip of the season, I’ll be out over two weeks performing magic shows up and down the west coast before I come home. One of the best things for me when I travel is a membership to a national chain gym. There’s no chain that will have a location in every city, so do a bit of research to see what has a presence in the territory you work.
For me the biggest advantage of them is having a place to shower. If you’re doing multiple shows a day at different locations, sometimes it’s nice to wash the sweat off between shows so you’re a bit fresher for the later shows.
Also working out for me is a great way to break up long drives, or to kill time during gaps in your schedule. Also gym has a consistent quality of bathroom, which is nice! A side bonus for me is that the gym chain that I use also has wifi and tables in the lobby, so I can pop in an use the wifi to send emails from my laptop.
For me the $20ish a month I pay for my membership is something that definitely pays off!
Many, many years ago when I was a teenager, I remember a trick if Tarbell that used a wine glass and a deck of cards. The deck was in the wine glass and the card at the front of the deck changed. Then a few years later Lance Burton did it on TV and the version he did was basically Alan Wakeling’s Aces Front.
I’ve liked this idea and for a long time wanted to do a version with three selected cards. The first two appear at the front of the deck and the third one rises out of the top of the pack. I’ve had all the stuff I need to try to figure out the trick, however just lacked time/motivation to start playing with it.
I’m coming up with a lot of challenges for the trick. The main one is that with only a couple of cards, the deck will be in a crazy face up and face down condition for what I’m envisioning. Then it hit me, what if I revealed the a card this way:
This was a situation where playing with the cards ended up coming up with a solution for changing a card inside of a wine glass, and one that I don’t think has really been done before.
When I was a teenager I saw a magic lecture (Michael Close?) where they did a trick that left the audience with a little prop. I think it was an origami bunny from a dollar bill. The lecturer said that clients could see that the magician was actually working by how many people had the origami bunny.
The idea of having something visual that people walked around with after you performed for them has stuck with me. I’ve had versions of things over the years. Currently the end of my ambitious card has the face of the card peeled off and stuck to the person who drew on the card’s shirt.
Recently I was performing at a large event and afterwards the booker commented on how many people had my cards on their shirts. Having visual reminders for bookers that you’re there and working is smart! While not 100% necessary, it is helpful at large events where the booker may never see you.
Yesterday I posted a video about how to use evaporation with one hand using a thumb tip with a cork on it. Here’s a tutorial on how to make the thumb tip. You’ll need a thumb tip, cork, screwdriver, screw and scissors.
I start by trimming off a little bit of the end of the thumb tip. I think that makes it easier to get your thumb into it.
Than I use the screwdriver to punch a hole in the fingernail side of the thumb tip. Just push and twist until you have a hole.
Put a screw onto the screwdriver and drive it through the thumb tip a little bit.
Recently in a Facebook group someone was asking about a way to make it look like their puppet was drinking. My Evaporation prop was mentioned and I immediately had some people ask me how to use the prop with one hand.