Gig Requirements…

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!

Ching Ling Foo’s Bowl…

Ching Ling Foo

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”.

Secret Cabaret….

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!

Take Up Reel – FAQ

The last week I’ve had a lot of people ask me if my Take Up Reel that I use for the vanishing birdcage trick works with an Abbott’s / Blackstone style vanishing birdcage. The answer is yes it does, I made a quick video that I’ve been sending to people who ask, here it is:

The cool thing about the Take Up Reel is that it can be used for more than just the vanishing birdcage, it can be used for any trick where you would use a wrist to wrist pull. If you want it to go up your sleeve and stay there, then it will work for that!

Friends of Magic (The Society of American Magicians)…

There are somethings in magic that confuse me and somethings that don’t. The big one that makes total sense is the decline of membership in magic clubs. There are several reasons why, but the main one is the internet. You can get you gossip, see new tricks, etc online. The second, closely behind the first is most clubs are d*cks to younger people. Old people telling kids who are into flourishes that what they are doing is wrong. It doesn’t matter how you get into magic or what you like, welcome them into the club.

Last night I saw this ad from the Society of American Magicians for the SAM Friends of Magic:

I’m trying to figure out why think selling this is a good idea. It’s all stuff that should be included in your membership! This is like a “light” version of full membership, but being sold as an separate product. Is this trying to generate revenue or increase the Society of American Magician’s membership numbers?

I think it’s ultimately going to do neither.

Working On It…

A couple of weeks ago I got to do my Polaroid Trick for an in person audience. I did it using video projection and it played well. Here’s what it looked like:

Here’s my notes:

  • The lighting needs to be better. It cuts off my face.
  • Some light background music would help it.
  • 0:26 mark: hold for the laugh a little bit longer
  • 1:27 mark: freeze and stop moving during the applause
  • 1:47 mark: pause another beat or two between the vanish and reproduction of the picture
  • 1:52 mark: applause is starting and I step on it by going to my next line

So what I need to work on is mostly timing things, and letting effects and the reactions “marinade” a bit longer with the audience.

Releasing New Magic…

take up reel

Recently I released my Take Up Reel through Hocus Pocus and the response has been amazing. Honestly, I thought they would sell two of them, but they are selling as quickly as I can make them!

I just want to say “thank you” to everyone that has supported this magic release. It’s been several years in the making. From the initial development of it to me road testing and tweaking it…to having other people road test it and doing some more tweaking.

Here’s the next batch of Take Up Reels that are going out.

I wish these reels were easier to make, they take about a week from start to finish to make…and I can only do them in small batches.

Here’s some advice if you are thinking of putting out a magic product, actually put in the time to work it out. Don’t rush ideas out to the market. There’s soo much that’s put out that you can tell wasn’t really tested out on audiences in the real world…whether that’s an in person or virtual show.

Double Lifts…

One of the most overused sleights in card magic is the double lift. It’s a great move, but soo many people do it poorly (I put myself in that group). One of the problems is that a double lift looks like a double lift. There’s virtually no one that does one that looks like all the other times they turn the cards over. Everyone says, “turn a single like a double” and they’ll all look the same. In theory that would work, but in practice, it doesn’t. There’s soo much going on with a double lift from the get ready, to however you are getting your alignment down and the force or lack of force to hold the two cards together.

There are other ways get to the end results such as a top change, second deal, or a palm and replacement. The problem with these is they are much harder to do poorly than a double lift. A double lift is easy to do bad, which is why soo many people do it. They can put in a minimum amount of time to do something and sort of do it.

There are some good double lifts, but they are much harder to do. My favorite one is the Stuart Gordon double turnover. While it still looks like something is happening to me, it’s one of the more natural ones to do. I play with it a lot, but I don’t do it, the way you move the card isn’t natural to me. It’s great and I think you should learn it, not necessarily do it, but learn it!

Alexa’s Aces

In yesterday’s blog post I wrote about using Amazon’s Alexa to reveal a specific card, which is the Ace of Spades. The next step is to figure out the trick that will bring us to the reveal of the Ace of Spades. I wanted all of the action to happen on their side of the screen, so I would just be giving verbal instructions, not manipulating any props.

Here’s what I came up with (with the help of Jonathan Friedman and Chris Beason):

The shuffle their deck of cards and remove the four aces in the order that they shuffled them to. The aces are held in a facedown packet and you spell “amazon alexa” shifting one card from the top to the bottom for each letter. You then ask their Alexa, “Alexa, what’s your favorite playing card?” and it will respond “Ace of Spades”. Have them flip the entire packet over and the Ace of Spades will be showing!

The work is pretty simple, you just need to spot the location of the Ace of Spades in the four card packet. What is spelt will be determined by the position of the Ace of Spades. If it’s:

Top: Spell Alexa
2nd Down: Spell Amazon
3rd Down: Spell Amazon Alexa
Bottom: Spell Amazons Alexa or Amazon Alexa Trick

How I remember is that the words are built like a pyramid. The shortest thing you spell is on top and the longest is on the bottom. If you just remember the two words AMAZON and ALEXA you have pretty much all you need to know, except adding the S or word TRICK to the bottom phrase.

Go out and have fun with this trick…or do whatever with this knowledge

Alexa’s Card Trick…

Recently I started doing a trick over Zoom where I trigger the Amazon Echo / Alexa at the spectator’s house. It’s got a fun feel, because the trick happens at everyone’s house how has an Alexa that can hear it respond.

It started out with me figuring out you could get Alexa to reveal a specific playing card by asking, “Alexa, what’s your favorite playing card?” and it will say “Ace of Spades“. Most magicians know you can get a random playing card by asking it to “pick a card“, but being able to get a consistent card is helpful for a reveal.

That going me thinking about what else might be Alexa’s favorites. I started asking all sorts of questions starting with “Alexa, what’s your favorite…” and have a little bit of a list going. There’s a list on Reddit from about 3 years ago, and some of the answers have changed since then, but it will give you an idea of some of the things to ask. Something to remember it to test your results on other people’s Alexa’s before you roll out the trick. There are somethings that have variables, like when I ask, “Alexa, what’s your favorite season?” I get one answer and other people get a different answer.

OK, now that I had the reveal for the trick, I needed to come up with the trick. I’ll write about that tomorrow…