Creating With What’s Around You…

Right now I’m on a cruise ship and it’s pretty bumpy out, and I noticed that all of the floors at the stairwells have “sick bags”. These look like paper lunch sacks, but are made of plastic and have a tab at the top to seal them.

I grabbed one and took it back to my state room to see if I could figure out something to do with it. Here’s my brainstorming from this morning:

  • Chew up some food, spit it in…then blow up the bag and pop it and it’s confetti
  • Someone reaches into the bag and pulls out a single cookie (it’s the only thing in the bag). You take a few bites and spit them back into the bag. Shake the bag and dump out a whole cookie
  • You have the bag sealed. You tell the audience you breathed into the bag after breakfast and have someone try to guess what you ate. You have a note that confirms they are right!
  • Someone from the audience breathes into the bag, and you tell them what they had for breakfast
  • you have a line of people onstage. With your back turned, someone breathes into the bag and seals it. It’s handed to you and smell the bag and tell whose breath it is
  • You put food into the bag and it turns to rubber vomit
  • You say you opened the bag on the plane and captured the air at your seat. Someone smells the air and guesses your row and seat number.

What I like about this is the specific property of the bag, it being plastic and sealable ended up taking me away from tradition paper bag tricks. I really like the idea of trapping air in the bag. I think that the row and seat number might be the winner as it doesn’t involve anyone’s breath, so it’s not cringy.

I don’t know if I’ll ever do this stuff, but it’s a fun creativity exercise.
-Louie

Telling Time by a Cat’s Eye

While reading Sid Fleishman‘s autobiography The Abracadabra Kid, he mentions urban myths and one them he mentions is being able to tell time from the eyes of a cat. That struck me as interesting and a great premise for a mentalism routine.

mentalism with cats eye

A bit of research has turned up that it was a belief that ninjas could tell time from a cats eye. I found this little graphic that sort of explains it, it’s based on how dilated it pupil is in the daylight. It’s interesting, and jumpstarted my idea for a trick.

Ideally this would be done with a video screen. You are holding an envelope and begin by showing the graphic above on the screen and explain the premise. You then show a picture of your cat on the screen and ask someone from the audience to tell you what time they think it is. You open the envelope and inside in the same picture and written on the back is the time.

The method is simple, it’s an envelope with a cut out on the back and you nail write the named time on the back with a thick listo lead or marker tip on the nail writer.

You could add in some comedy filler by showing pictures of different cats that have funny expressions (derpy cats) and you tell the times. Have one that looks stoned, “it’s clearly 4:20” and one that looks drunk or has booze bottles near it and say, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” and a passed out cat, “it’s last call somewhere” or whatever.

The trick has a premise, and some bits, and a method all within about 6 hours of reading the line about telling time from a cats eye in Sid’s book. This is also why it’s important to always write down things you find interesting, you never know what idea that will spark!

-Louie

When Your Props Don’t Arrive…

I had a blast being a guest on Nick Lewin’s talk about what happens when you props don’t show up when you do when travelling. If you’re not on Nick’s mailing list where you can get notified of his talks, you need to be on his email list.

you can sign up on his website here: http://www.lewinenterprises.com/join-our-vip-mailing-list.html

Here’s my segment from the talk:

Hope you learn something from my experiences!

-Louie

Promystic Color Match FTW

Well, I’m back to my ProMystic Color Match set. This one is honestly the best solution for the trick in my opinion.

I like that I can simply switch on the receiver and it’s ready to go. I can quickly test that the receiver is one and working during my routine by lifting one of the pens while I talk and replacing it into the cup. Also I think the cup is a better display for the pens onstage than them sitting on a flat surface.

The other thing that I like is that I don’t need to use a reset button like on the Murphy’s Magic Anverdi Color Match set. I think that button and the pens timing out is a solution to a problem (for me) that doesn’t need solving. If someone changes their mind, you simply get a new signal. Getting the signal if someone uses a pen a second time is very helpful. It lets you know something is wrong and instead of giving you no signal, it gives you some information to work with. Personally, I’d rather have a little bit of info, than none.

So my conclusion is that the Murphy’s Magic Anverdi Color Match set works fine, just not for how I do my show, and I’m sticking to the ProMystic set.

-Louie

Trying Color Matching…

I figure I should try the Murphy’s Magic Color Match sets in a show…since I own them. I don’t like the markers that the set comes with, so I had to pull out the gimmicks and put them into a new set of pens.

Murphys magic anverdi color match

On a side note, on the Murphy’s Magic Color Match Video, they mention removing the gimmicks, but then don’t talk about it…at least not that I watched. I will say I didn’t watch the whole video, the routines don’t interest me right now, so it could be buried in those instructions. It’s not listed (that I saw) on the table of contents.

I’ll give them a try later today and we’ll see how it turns out…

-Louie

Color Match!

Currently I’m on the first half of a twelve day contract in Fresno, CA. I used to do Promystic’s Color Match in my show a while ago and I’m recently cycling it back into the show. At the beginning of the run I had one of the pens start to do strange things, so I ordered a replacement part for it…but that doesn’t help me for the rest of my current contract.

Luckily, Hocus Pocus is only 5 minutes from where I’m performing, so a quick trip there and I picked up one of Murphy’s Magic’s Anverdi Color Match sets.

Anverdi Color match at Hocus-Pocus

I honestly don’t think that the Color Match that Muprhy’s Magic sells is Anverdi’s…especially when at the beginning of the video they show how it’s different. It’s Murphy’s way of justifying something that may be an ethical dilemma.

I do like how the Murphy’s Magic set has an auto cycle off for the signals. That’s handy in 91% of instances, however in that remaining 9% it makes it harder on you as the performer. Yes, they do have a work around, but it’s not really practical for me. Method wise, I guess it’s solid, I’ve only practiced it, because somehow my Promystic gimmick that was acting funky, magically started work fine once I bought the Murphy’s Magic set.

While a few bucks more, I still prefer the Promystic Color Match set, I think it more solidly built. I also like that I can easily have two thumpers operate at the same time, where I don’t recall them mentioning that using two was possible with the Murphy’s Magic set.

I think I’m going to keep using my Promystic set as long as I can, as I prefer how it works. It could just be me being old and stuck in my ways…

-Louie

Repairing Props…

As magic has more and more electronic tricks that are mass marketed a few problems are popping up. First one is customer support if they don’t work correctly. Usually the manufacturer doesn’t have incentive to repair the item. Sure they may replace it if you recently purchased it, but after that your main option would by buying a new one.

That’s why I like companies like ProMystic. They sell higher end products, and they will repair them. For example I’ve used their trick Inception for about four years and the screen went out on it. This is not their fault, I’ve used it in close to 1,000 shows across the USA (and North America) and over the years it’s been dropped, gotten wet, and still worked like a champ, even without the screen!

promystic inception

I finally had a gap in my schedule where I don’t need it and sent it in to them for repairs. For way cheaper than I thought it would cost for a screen replacement, they put a new one on it and it’ll be waiting for me when I get home in a few days.

For me having the option to have a four year old prop repaired instead of buying a new one is great! If you’ve been on the fence about getting anything from ProMystic, they are a great company and stand behind their products and help with support long after your purchase!

-Louie

Theater Show Highlights…

Here’s the sizzle from my show at the theater the other day:

I was messing around with more “epic” music. I’m not sure I like it, but it sure gives the video a different tone from what I normally use. It’s crazy how much the music can change the feel of the video!

Think about that when using music in your show, song selection can dramatically change the feel of the trick you’re doing.

-Louie

Phone Pouch…

A few nights ago I saw Amy Schumer perform at a theater in Seattle. She was great! Amy has a very defined character and point of view. That point of view may not be for everyone, but when you get to her level, “everyone” isn’t your audience. As a stand up, you need a point of view, and that’s to to eliminate some people who don’t agree with you.

Going into the theater, they had us lock our phones up in little pouches. This is becoming more and more common. I think that we as a culture have proven our inability to keep our phones in our pockets during a show, even after a no photo/recording announcement.

My first thought was that these pouches would be great to do a Key-R-Rect or 7 Keys to Baldplate style trick with. You’d just need to put grommets on both sides of the flap. Now you can borrow or use your phone and put it in and do the key trick with it.

The challenge would be getting one of these. It doesn’t look like they sell them direct to the public, so you’d need to find someone who goes to a school that uses them, buy theirs, and have them say they lost theirs.

I haven’t thought of a routine yet…but I think it’s a good prop for locking up a cellphone.
-Louie

Spirit Rapping Hand

A few months ago I bought a cool looking vintage spirit hand and planned to use it to make a mold to make my own spirit hand.

I didn’t have any pigment for my resin, so my hand came out looking like a zombie hand! The original one would have come with a gimmicked board to make it move. I gimmicked mine so that is doesn’t need the board.

It works, and if I make another one, I’m probably going to go for a less dead looking skin tone!
-Louie