Another day, another change to my wheel. This is a subtle change, but I added colors to the wheel.
There’s a very good reason for this, I’ve figured out a way to force a color on the front and an object on the back. I can now do a prediction that will have three reveals with the wheel, the only variable would be the number, which would be the first selection. Once the first number is made, I can pull the prediction from an index and I’m set! It’ll take a lot of the heat off of the switch, as it happens at the very beginning of the routine!
About a week ago I had a post about the game wheel that I bought at a thrift store. I’m going to be using it with Haim Goldenburg’s Wheel of Mind force. The picture on left is what it looked like in the thrift store and the picture on the right is after I cleaned it up.
The problem with the white wheel is that while it is dry erase, it’s still very hard to clean. Also the white isn’t the best on camera. Learning that, I resurfaced the wheel and coated it with chalk board paint. Here’s what the front and back look like now:
It plays on camera much better this way and it’s easier to change the items on the back. Now I just need to figure out what I’m going to force in the show!
Way back in the early summer when my state had first started to reopen after the initial pandemic shutdown, and friend texted me this picture of a game wheel at a thrift store for $2.99.
I drove up and bought it. It needed some work, the whole from was stained, and have some sort of glue residue in it. What I found interested was that it was heavier duty that most of the game wheels that I’d seen before. The wheel is two feet in diameter, and made of thick wood, so it’s heavy. The pole it’s on looked like the top pole of a speaker stand. I took it home and it fit into the base of a speaker stand, that would allow me to use it without a table. I threw away the plastic base in the picture above.
This then ended up sitting in my shed for months, as I didn’t want to deal with cleaning up the wheel. I didn’t have an idea of exactly what I was going to do with it. Then I remembered reading about trick called Wheel of Mind by Amir Lustig and Hiam Goldenberg. I wasn’t exactly sure of the what it did, aside from that it was a force. Hiam puts out some pretty clever stuff, and for $15, I figured why not check it out.
Wheel of Mind uses twelve spaces and my game wheel has 20 spaces. Luckily the trick still works with more spaces. The other challenge is that Wheel of Mind uses both sides of the wheel. It turns out it’s really easy to remove the game wheel I have from the stand and turn it over. Now that I have what I’m going to use the game wheel for, it’s time to clean it up.
The first step was scraping all of the glue off of it. However the actual wheel was stained by whatever pen had been used on it previously. The next step was to remove the pins, and peel off the graphic from the front.
I recovered it with white contact paper on the front and back. Then using electrical tape, I made some lines and wrote the numbers in.
For less than $30 (that’s including buying Wheel of Mind) I now have a fun looking prop that will force something. I probably wouldn’t travel with this, unless I was doing a run of shows. It’s mostly for virtual shows, it’s also a cool set piece to have behind me.
The other night I watched Manoj Kaushal’s online show Trapped. A friend recommended it to me, and it’s been generating some buzz with magicians. Here’s the trailer for it:
First I want to say that I bought the cheaper tickets on Stellar Tickets. That means I was just watching the show, not in the Zoom room, so please factor that in during this review.
The best way to describe it is that it’s like an interactive version of one of the Saw Movies. It was live with prerecorded video elements of the “hostages”, etc. Manoj plays the bad guy and the audience has to beat him at a 7 games. Each time we win, a hostage lives and if we lose one game, they all die.
It’s a very interesting premise for a magic / mentalism show, and something were a live stream is the perfect venue for it. I don’t think it would play well in person. Manoj is definitely trying something unique, very different from any online magic / mentalism show I’ve seen.
My biggest dislike was that a lot of the tricks were too magic-y. He does a card trick, and talks about magic. I will say that up front he does mention he’s “a magician…but also has a dark side”. I think the card trick pulls away from the idea of these being games.
Also the odds of the games fluctuate a lot. I think from a statistical stand point the 1 in 52 for the card trick in the middle of the show is the most unlikely to win, then he follows that with something that’s like a 1 in 12. I would have liked to see the odds build get more unlikely as the show progressed.
All of the tricks are good and solid and most rely on a simple principle that’s gained a lot of popularity with the switch to online shows. The way we viewed him on screen did the best and most justified job of using the principle that I’ve seen.
There were a couple of loose ends that didn’t really get tied up, like when someone from the zoom room got kidnapped. I really would have liked for us to play for that person’s life, instead of not really mentioning it again. It’s not just me, in the comments several people asked, “what about john?“.
I paid $15 for the show and for that much, I feel like I got my money’s worth. I also love supporting someone who is trying something different. The show is presented more like an interactive movie than a magic / mentalism show. I’m curious what the general public will think. In the show I watched, I recognized at least half of the people from zoom as magicians. I wonder how many real people are buying tickets?
Yesterday we handmade a progressive anagram from five words. If you didn’t read yesterdays post, go and read it, or this won’t make a lot of sense. One thing I didn’t like was that the first YES or NO question have a 60% chance of getting “No” answer. Using the same method to make the progressive anagram, by eliminating the vowels first, but this time examining the vowels, we’ll get a better sequence.
here are the words:
Beer Agreement Heat Bowel Touch
I noticed that all of them have an E except for one word. If we eliminate the E first, we’ll get an 80% chance of a YES. If we get a NO, we immediately know the word. This is way better than yesterday’s layout. Here’s what today’s flowcart for the same words looks like:
E ————–> Touch | Beer, Agreement, Heat, Bowel
I’m going to eliminate another vowel, I’ll do A, as the only other vowel that’s used in the words is O, and that’s only in one word, which would give me a 75% chance of getting a NO answer. The A will give me a 50/50 chance.
At this point we have two pairs of words, so we just need to find a letter that’s only in one word of each pair.
While essentially the same as the progressive anagram from yesterday, this one is slightly better as the odds of getting a YES on the first letter are better and if you get a NO on the first letter you immediately know the word, which is a huge advantage. Also there’s only one word where you’ll would get two NO answers, where in yesterday’s flowchart there were two instances.
Now let’s compare this to the what a computer will come up with. I plugged the same words into a progressive anagram generator and here’s what is spit out:
Essentially the computer came up with the same solution as I did today. the difference was we chose different letters for splitting the last two pairs, but that’s arbitrary. The nice thing about the computer is that it did it in one try, and in about 1 second. Knowing to do it yourself is a solid back up and you understand the process a bit more.
When you’re doing virtual shows, a lot goes into them. More than just the tricks. Someone recently posted their “promo video” for virtual shows. There are some good elements to this, like the people reacting, then some bad elements, like everything else.
Here’s the video:
The big problem with the video is the guy’s lighting is horrible! Yes, I understand that some of the effects he’s doing require special lighting, but he’s not even doing that right, you can light the effect correctly and make it not look like you’re performing in a closet.
Here’s a screenshot from the above video:
Does that look like something you’d pay money to watch?
Does that mean it’s a bad show?
Right now we all need to learn about lighting, video production, etc and we all need to learn the basics about all of it.
In the past on this blog I’ve written about progressive anagrams and fishing as a great methods for virtual shows. Here’s another video of me using the Mind Power Deck by John Kennedy.
The small change that I have made in this trick from the video I posted a few weeks ago is that I’m revealing the card before I ask them what card they are thinking of. I think it’s a way stronger trick because I’ve committed to the prediction before they reveal what they are thinking of.
Yes, there are risks doing it this way, but I think the benefits outweigh the risks.
One of the biggest challenges right now with all of the Social Distancing is breaking in new material. Personally I tend to try to work out things on stage. I try them, I ad lib, I tweak and adjust. Right now some in-person venues are starting to open up and this is great and will make working on new material much easier.
Here’s an early version of a trick that I wrote about a month ago on this blog. It’s using “fishing” along with a physical prediction for the trick.
The big change that I made was that I’m pulling the card out of the envelope before the card is named. I’m taking a risk that the person can totally screw my ending by lying about the card that they saw. However the questions leading into the reveal makes it hard to lie, they just can’t make up a card at the last moment as they’ve already confirmed things about it. That’s not going to stop an asshole from just saying a different card, but it does make it harder.
Yesterday I wrote about using “fishing techniques” on streaming magic shows, you can read the post here. Today I’m going to deal with a specific trick. Let’s not forget that I think that if you are doing a trick where you are asking questions to figure out what someone is thinking of, you need to have something physical as your prediction. That makes it harder to back track and figure out the method of the trick.
If you aren’t familiar with this deck, you can show it to be normal, have someone memorize a card and with asking just a few questions you can tell them the card they are thinking of. It’s great! The trick has a built in cheat sheet, but I simply printed out a flow chart and taped it to the wall behind my webcam. This is easier to read that the hidden in plain sight cheat sheet he gives you.
How I add a physical prediction to the trick is I have an envelope that I’m holding in my hand before the trick. The envelope ends up having the card they are thinking of in it. Having the card in the envelope makes it so that someone can’t say, “the magician just asked questions until he figured out the card“. Unfortunately that’s the logical solution that a non-magician would come up with and the correct one. Always add a physical prediction!