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.

Spreading Stuart Gordon…

In yesterday’s blog post I mentioned the Stuart Gordon Double Turnover and that you should learn it, even if you never do it in a show. I think knowing different double lifts is handy so that when you do need one you can vary your technique or choose the right one for the situation. That goes with most sleight of hand, knowing different ways to accomplish the same action makes you a much better artist.

Recently I’ve been playing with the action of the Stuart Gordon Double Turnover, but not as a double turnover, but as a display of two cards. In the action of displaying and fanning the cards I’m able to hide a card. Technically it’s a three as two display in a fan.

The problem I had with it was besides it being very “knacky” it really didn’t provide an advantage over existing moves. I was jamming with Jonathan Friedman and Chris Beason and showed them the move. We really couldn’t come up with much besides using it to switch one or two cards. There are a lot of better ways to switch a card or two.

I kept playing with it and worked out a sequence for the move. Here’s a rough version of it, it’s pretty clunky and I’ve cleaned up the final get ready since I made this video.

Here’s the routine:

I’m not sure that a two card simultaneous ambitious card is better than with a single card, but it gives the move a purpose.

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…

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.