One of the things that I like about performing in Fresno is getting to visit Hocus Pocus! I love digging through their bins of junk magic looking for things like packet tricks, or strange little props that were never commercial successes.
One of the things I like to do is buy them and try to figure out better ways to do them, or other effects to do with the gimmicks. I should be posting some videos in the next couple of weeks of what I found!
I really want to be out working on my routine for The (W)hole Thing and with the miscut cards I got from the printer, the set I ordered won’t work. To make them workable, I trimmed 1/4 inch off of the three cards that weren’t miscut and now I have a workable set.
This set works, but I’m not a fan of the card with the red rectangle being off center. However this is giving me a set to work with until the printer sends me cards that aren’t miscut.
The custom cards I had printed for my The (W)hole Thing showed up and they miscut one on the cards!
It’s not off center, the card is the wrong size. It should be 8.5 x 5.5 inches, but it’s 8.25 x 5.25. The rest of the cards are the correct size, so this one card is physically smaller than the rest and doesn’t look right.
I just contacted the printed and hopefully they can send me a replacement fast as I’m hitting the road for over a month and I would like to be using them while I’m out!
The routine I’m working on for The (W)hole Thing by Emerson and West is intended for for family/adult audiences. The other day I threw it in my case when I went out to do some summer camp shows:
I thought the concept of the whole/hole wouldn’t hit with kids. Much to my surprise the kids liked the trick and got the idea of the verbal concept behind the routine. For the trick to work, the kids need to be able to read, so I probably wouldn’t do it for kids much younger than second grade.
Now I’m just waiting for my custom cards to arrive from the printer, so that I have a fancier set that what I made for myself.
Here’s another visit with an old packet trick. It’s Sympathetic Cards by Ronnay, that was put out by Emerson and West. The trick is a “follow the leader” effect where two packets keep matching when one is turned face up or face down, then there’s a couple of kickers with jokers appearing and backs changing colors.
The problem with the trick as written is you end up with two more cards than you start with. It’s a small problem, but also something that I feel needs to be addressed. However there’s a lot of magic that happens in it and it’s pretty good magic, so it’s not a bad trick…
If I was to improve it, the main thing I would do is try to figure out a way to get rid of the two extra cards. Other than that, it’s pretty good.
Here’s another packet trick I picked up from a magic shop’s junk bin. It’s called Liar’s Blackjack by Bob King. It’s sorta an all backs routine, but not really. You have five cards that have backs on both sides, then a few faces appear and one of them changes.
Here’s what it looks like with when the original instructions are followed and my update on the trick:
The big change is that I got rid of the cards with backs on both sides. That’s such a strange object that the routine really glosses over and I think detracts from the routine. Using blank face cards keeps the focus on the effect and presentation. Then a little change in the count as the Kiss Elmsley doesn’t really work with the blank face cards, so I used the Hypnotic Rumba Count.
This isn’t a routine that I would ever do, but I think that getting rid of the cards with backs on both sides is a HUGE improvment!
In my close up work I don’t really do any packet tricks, however I love working through them. One thing I like to do is buy packet tricks out of junk bins at magic shops and then try to improve them. In a recent junk packet trick purchase I got Nick Trost’s Kannibal Kards.
First of all, the art is offensive by today’s standards, however this was made in 1981, so over forty years ago when this style of art would have been acceptable. That doesn’t make it right, but socially acceptable at the time.
The effect is that two cards disappear one at a time within a packet of three cards. Then for then ending there is a surprise reveal card.
The problem with the original routine (besides the art) is that the first card physically disappears and the second one doesn’t. Here’s what the original routine and my improvement looks like:
What I did was change the handling so that the second card also physically disappears and then for the reveal, all three remaining cards change to the surprise card, not just one card. I also noticed there’s a little subtlety where you can show show half of the reveal card and it appears to be one of the original cards. This works with the original card set, however it’s not mentioned in the instructions.
I also made a version using the original handling with a slightly different reveal card at the end
An idea for a presentation of The (W)hole Thing by Daryl came up in my daily writing a bit ago. I managed to fill out the idea a bit and do some writing. While I was in the Bay Area, I had Joe and Misdirections Magic Shop order me a set of the cards in.
One thing I found interesting was that there’s no mention of Emerson and West in the ad copy for the trick. This is essentially Daryl’s routine for the original trick. I’m guessing this is a Murphy’s Magic copywriting thing, as Daryl was pretty good about crediting things.
Here’s Daryl doing the routine:
For the routine that I want to do, I will need to make some custom cards. For now I’m working out the muscle memory for the routine!
Here’s another one of my videos where I try to improve packet tricks that I’ve come across. This one is called It’s a Joke-r by Bill Pryor. Here’s the video of it done with the original instructions and then a revised version for a real audience:
The trick is sort of a Princess Card Trick with a kicker, but it’s poorly executed. The whole part of putting a card in your pocket, just to pull it out I don’t like. I also don’t like waiting for the audience to want to turn over the cards on the table for the kicker to happen. If they do turn them over, it’s great, but if they don’t, the trick is just OK.
The changes I made of have a card thought of by me and the person from the audience gives the trick a little more depth. Then never putting a card in my pocket, but keeping it in my hand adds a lot to the trick. Finally having a reason for them to turn over the cards to discover the jokers guarantees they get revealed.
This is a trick that takes up way too much pocket space for how good the trick is. I don’t think the original or my revised version justifies the use of space.
This is a packet trick revision of a trick called Ghost Cards. The following video has me do the trick as written in the instructions, followed by me trying to improve it.
The main problem with the trick as written is that there’s a lot of props and procedure to make one side of one card appear. In my revised version you can make four faces appear, which makes much more sense than just one. While not in the video, you can reverse the procedure to make the cards disappear at the end.
This is a trick that snuck into my close up set at the fair I recorded the video at. I forgot to take it out of my pocket the first day, and it lived there all week and I did it all week. It was fun, and I did it for people who had seen me multiple times as something different for them, but it’s not making it into the regular set.