Back in Time…

One thing in magic is that people get hung up on is who created what and that if they thought of it without outside influence, then no one else could have possibly had the same thought.

My Russian Shell Game routine was inspired by a magazine column that Gary Oulette wrote. His ending used stacks of cups as the final loads to a cups and balls routine. In the article he “reserved all manufacturing rights“, I’m assuming he did this thinking no one had thought of the idea before.

Recently I was looking for something else and came across Cups and Cups and Cups and balls by Geoffrey Robinson

It’s the exact same idea as Gary’s, but it Gary never had a set made. Geoffrey did and it appears he had to do some problem solving. If you notice the small holes in the top, they are there (I’m assuming) to keep them from sticking together from the suction created if they are too tightly nested.

At the end of the day, you can’t assume you are the first person to have an idea!

Don’t Do It…

One of the things that I hate as a reason for why people do certain magic tricks is that “it’s a classic for a reason” or “just because you know it doesn’t mean the audience has seen it before“. To me these are lame reasons to justify doing a magic trick.

I’m performing at a fair right now and the vendor at the back of the audience where I’m working has a magic coloring book that he’s using to entertain the kids of the people he’s trying to sell insurance to. He’s a nice guy and he’s using it for a solid reason. However if that was a trick I did in my show, no matter how great my routine was, if someone had been to his booth, my routine wouldn’t play as well.

This is one of the reasons why I try to do more unique tricks, so I don’t have to deal with situations like there…or being in variety shows because someone is doing something similar and that forces me to cut duplicate material.

Freedom of the Seize…

The other day my buddy Matt Disero posted on his Facebook about a Stewart James trick that he thought was overlooked by magicians. I’m a huge Stewart James fan, and dug out the book and read the trick. It’s on page 120 of Stewart James In Print: The First Fifty Years

In the introduction to the trick it says that it’s not a good trick for non-magicians, but a fooler for magicians. I think whoever wrote that intro was correct, well for how the trick was written up. It’s a very interesting principle, here’s the effect:

Someone picks a card and puts it face up on top of the deck. The cards are cut to bury the card. You then take the cards behind your back tell them the card above the face up card.

It’s very clever, and I think it has a use in a longer routine. As a stand alone, I’m not sure how I feel about it…

Another Alexa Trick…

Awhile ago on this blog I mentioned I was working on a trick that used an Amazon Alexa / Echo device. The goal of the trick was essentially a self working trick that someone could do without me, just following some instructions and having an Alexa in their room.

Here’s the final trick:

When I was putting this together, it I was pretty lucky. I put the hats above on note cards. I needed to force the party hat and the four hats I randomly wrote down and the order that I randomly laid them out worked for the math! I still needed to figure out the second count (hat), and once I realized I just needed an odd number, it was a piece of cake!

Have fun with this trick!

Mr Smiley gets a hat

With COVID restrictions loosening up, we were able to get in a little magic jam session!

One of the things that we were playing with was some little hats that I found that are being sold as novelty thumb warmers. We combined it with Jonathan Friedman’s Mr Smiley Face trick and here’s the result:

It’s a fun little trick. It’s not the best trick in the world, but a fun little thing.

More Key of Fate…

Yesterday I wrote about some changes to the Luca Volpe’s Key of Fate routine that I’m making. I figured I should write out the effect:

I show lock that’s locked to a little case and four keys in a cup and only one will open the lock. There are also three colored notebooks and three matching colored spots on the floor.

Three people from the audience are invited onstage to play a game. Whoever’s key opens the lock will win one of the prizes written on one of the pages of one of the notebooks. Each person grabs one key and one notebook, leaving a single key on the table for me. They are to stand on the spot on the floor that matches their notebook’s color.

You flip the pages of the notebook for the first person to see what prize they are playing for. They end up picking 500 Pesos, but unfortunately their key doesn’t open the lock. The first person returns to their seat.

The second person selects the ice cream sundae from their notebook as a prize, but their key doesn’t open the lock. The second person returns to their seat.

The final person, who is standing on the blue spot selects a prize, which is a banana. When they try to open the lock, it opens! Inside the case is their prize, a banana!!! They can keep the banana and return to their seat in the audience.

For the kicker, you show underside of the two spots from the people that didn’t win and there’s nothing under them. The spot of the person that won, has some paper taped to the bottom of their spot. It says, “Congratulations on winning the banana, sorry the other two people didn’t wind the ice cream sundae and the 500 Pesos!”

Ok, so that’s how the routine plays. I’m a huge fan of being able to describe what happens in the trick in a sentence. If I take those six paragraphs of how the routine plays and condense it into one sentence it would be:

The magician predicts the outcome of a game played with the audience.

That’s the effect, it’s a prediction of the outcome of a game.

Reimagining The Key of Fate…

This week I’m heading down to California to perform for 8 days at a fair. It’s been over a year since I’ve done a fair gig, and that’s my core market. I’m working on something new, that’s a variation of Luca Volpe’s Key of Fate routine. I’ve made some major changes to stream line it for how I perform. The big change is that I can’t have the audience write their prizes. For me, that takes too much time, and logistically doesn’t really work out.

In lieu of this, I’m going to use SvenPads to force the prizes. I bought three of notebook SvenPad‘s that look like this:

For the routine I needed three notebooks with different covers. I bought three notebooks and swapped out the covers.

The picture above shows the process of switching the cover. Below is the final product of the three covers:

I think that using these three notebooks to force the three prizes streamlines the process. We’ll see how it ends up playing…

Three Coin Con…

My whole life I’ve been fascinated by monte type effects. When I was a teenager I had a trick called Three Coin Con by Eddie Gibson. It was a shell game style routine that used three coins (one was a different color than the other two) and three identical covers. Here’s Paul Daniels doing it:

The trick is a bit of a fooler, it’s got some great magical moments along with the “monte” presentational hook.

The set I had as a kid has long been lost, and recently I’ve been searching for a set. Up until about a week ago, I could only find them in European coins, but I just found a set on ebay and very excited to start doing it again! I’ve got a 8 day run at a fair in about a week, hopefully with a bit of dedicated practice I can start doing it there!

Mixed Feelings…

Sometimes I see a magic trick and I don’t know how I feel about it. The routine below is one of them, I’ll let you watch it first:

First of all, let me say that I am not the demographic he’s going for, so factor that into my opinion of it.

Here’s what it has going for it, it’s 100% on message. All of the props are themed and it doesn’t veer away from the message. If I was booking for a large religious event, I would definitely consider this. It’s big and fills the stage.

What I personally don’t like is his almost animatronic performance of it. The clip may be taken out of context, so there may be a reason why he’s doing it like that. In my opinion there’s nothing real happening, he’s not trying to connect with me. It could be a movie on a screen, not a live performance. Once again, it’s out of context and maybe that’s what it’s for.

I love seeing things that make me think about what I like or don’t like in a performance. It makes me look at my show with a more critical eye.

Picking a Vanishing Birdcage

I’ve posting in the past that I’ve been thrust into role of expert with the Vanishing Birdcage. There are definitely people who know a lot more than me, but I’ve spent some time with several different style of cages and know a little bit about what helps make the trick successful.

One thing is having a decent quality cage. You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on a cage, but you will have to spend a few buck. What you are looking for in a cage is something that’s smooth when collapsed. Tommy Wonder in his book mentions running a loop of string around the cage to look for snags and Billy McComb in his DVDs mentions rubbing it with a silk to look for snags. Since brick and mortar magic shops are becoming less and less common, something you can look for in an online picture is how streamlined it looks. Does it have a lot of bumps when collapsed? If you think it does, look for one that has less.

The cage that I use when collapsed is very streamlined and doesn’t have much bulk. It will easily fit through my wedding ring with the bird inside the cage! While having less bulk is important, the cage having less snag points is more important!

People always ask me what kind of vanishing birdcage do I use, and unfortunately I don’t know. It was given to me when I was a teenager by a magician because it had some broken bars. Some things to consider when picking is cage is how you are going to use it and how you need it to be on your body after the vanish. Blackstone Jr used that small Abbott’s cage because he needed to wear it for half of the show up his sleeve.

The main thing you are looking for is something that won’t get caught on your sleeve. Once you figure that out, you’re good to go!