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.

Double Lifts…

One of the most overused sleights in card magic is the double lift. It’s a great move, but soo many people do it poorly (I put myself in that group). One of the problems is that a double lift looks like a double lift. There’s virtually no one that does one that looks like all the other times they turn the cards over. Everyone says, “turn a single like a double” and they’ll all look the same. In theory that would work, but in practice, it doesn’t. There’s soo much going on with a double lift from the get ready, to however you are getting your alignment down and the force or lack of force to hold the two cards together.

There are other ways get to the end results such as a top change, second deal, or a palm and replacement. The problem with these is they are much harder to do poorly than a double lift. A double lift is easy to do bad, which is why soo many people do it. They can put in a minimum amount of time to do something and sort of do it.

There are some good double lifts, but they are much harder to do. My favorite one is the Stuart Gordon double turnover. While it still looks like something is happening to me, it’s one of the more natural ones to do. I play with it a lot, but I don’t do it, the way you move the card isn’t natural to me. It’s great and I think you should learn it, not necessarily do it, but learn it!

Complete Cheapo Copentro

I’ve written about my fascination with the coins to glass magic effect. One version that I’ve always likes is the Jack Hughes Visible Coins To Glass, or in the USA we tend to call it Bob Kline’s Copentro. That’s the version where the coins visually appear in a shot glass that’s covered by a larger glass.

There are other version of the trick where the glass held mouth up with your hand above the opening of the glass. The coins then “drop” into the glass from your hand. Here’s an example of this version of the trick:

The problem with the version with the handheld glass is that it’s pretty obvious to anyone that the coin came from your hand. The glass doesn’t really isolate where the coins are appearing. The glass does add a fun sound when the coin arrives and adds a prop which may make the trick play a little bit bigger. Both of those a great additions, but they are really aren’t additions to the magic effect. They don’t make it more amazing or really any different from a coins across that happens in the hands.

That’s why I think I really like the Hughes/Kline version where the cup is isolated. It is something more than an in the hands coins across.

Over the last 18ish months I’ve worked on several versions of the trick. One that I will probably never use is this one:

The video above is the more complete version of the one I posted back in January (see it here). I wanted to figure out not just how to get the coin into the shot glass, but how to make the whole thing work start to finish. I’m glad I did that and have that version of the trick out of my mind now…until I try to start to work on how to make multiple coins appear in the shotglass…

Vertical Three Shell Game

Last night I was playing with a set of mini cups and balls that I have. This particular set was made by Leo Smesters. These are a great little set, however honestly I don’t have much of a use for them. When I originally bought them I had an idea, but haven’t done much with them.

I had the idea of doing a vertical three shell game. The ball would switch places vertically while the cups were stacked. Here’s a quick video of the basic idea:

There’s a little bit more to the full idea I have. Right now the cups are ungimmicked and they will stay that way. However the balls have magnets in them and they stick to each other through the cup. So the cups can sort of function like a chop cup or regular cup depending on the positions of the two balls.

My idea is to have one ball with a very strong magnet in it and then two others with smaller magnets in them. The audience is only aware of one ball. You will steal the ball with the strong magnet and use that magnet like you would a use thumbtip with a magnet inside of it. That will give much more options with what you can do with the cups.

Now I just need to make the balls…

Garbage In…Garbage Out

People love to crowd source information on the internet. The problem is that you don’t know the quality of the information you are getting back. Recently someone posted a picture of a prop they had acquired, but didn’t know what it did. It was a dice cup with a hole in the back, four dice and a jumbo die.

The misinformation starts when people don’t know what they are talking about start it tell the person what the cup is for. Here’s the first couple of responses:

Then a couple of people took the dice stacking suggesting a bit further and said you could look through the hole to see the number on the top die. Let’s start with that idea of using it to see the number on the top of the top die. Learning to stack the dice is hard…once you can do that, knowing what number is on top of the stack without a gimmicked cup is VERY EASY. It makes no sense to make the stacking aspect harder without make knowing the number uppermost easier.

Now let’s look at the props. You have regular game dice, where any marketed dice stacking set would come with casino dice which are the standard for people who stack dice. In the picture below, the casino die is on the right.

Yes, I’m aware you can stack game dice, however it’s much harder than on casino dice due to their size, rounded edges, and lack of consistent 90 degree angles. I learned to dice stack with a drinking glass and game dice, so I know it can be done, I also know who much easier it got when I had proper tools.

Next if you look at the cup, it tapers and is not straight sided. Some people stack with dice like this, however most people use straight sided dice cups. On it’s own the tapered cup wouldn’t say it’s not for dice stacking, but then you look at the height of the cup in relation to the dice. Once you get them in the up and ready to stack, they have a long way to fall, which is where you will give you trouble.

Looking at the whole picture, the style of dice and style of cup, I’m 99% sure it’s not for dice stacking. I’m leaving 1% as it’s some strange homemade prop that was never marketed.

I made a quick replica of the props shown and here’s the style of routine that I think the props are for:

The internet is a great way to crowd source answers, but the problem is that it’s hard know the quality of those answers.

Clean Cork…

I made a cleaner video of the coin to cork trick, which I’m giving the title Corkage Fee. This is the title that was stuck in my head.

I cleaned up the handling’s timing a little bit and added some context to the switch of the cork. For a quick social media video, having the balance on the nose at the beginning is a better switch than a shuttle pass. An even better way would have been to start with a bottle of wine that I took the cork out of. I don’t really drink wine, so that’s not something I have kicking around.

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.

More Ring on Rubber Band…

Continuing the last few days work on to the hopefully have a working Ring on Rubber Band trick, I’ve tweaked some of the jokes a little bit. I changed some of the punchlines and streamlined the script to tighten it up.


“This is the most expensive trick I do. The rubber band cost me 37 cents, but the ring cost me half of everything I own. The ring represents the 18 years I’ve been married and the a rubber band which memorializes the one time I bought broccoli just to let it rot in the crisper”

Show ring and rubber band. The rubber band is around your left index and thumb. Point to the sides of the rubber band as you say:

“This rubber band has two sides, just like congress…the Senate and the deep state.”

“The ring will go through each side of the rubber band defying the restraining order I got from the laws of physics.”


Push the ring through the first side of the rubber band

“Through one side, that’s the easy side. It’s the bunny slope of the rubber band. The second side is the most difficult, it’s the Mount Everest of Magic. Three men have died trying this next part, but they all had preexisting conditions…and latex allergies.”

Push the ring through the second side of the rubber band.

“Like Coachella, we’ll take it off one band at a time.”

Pull the ring off the rubber band one side at a time.

“and that’s how I wrote my wedding off on my taxes!”


The script is a bit better. I’m not happy with the the “Coachella” line between the on and off phases. Right now that’s a place holder for something better.

The hard thing about right now with COVID restrictions is that I can’t just go out to a bar and try it out and get feedback from real people. The trying and tweaking phase is much clunkier and time consuming.

Routining The Writing…

The last couple of days I’ve been writing about putting together a script for the Ring on Rubber Band trick that I’ve been working on. Yesterday I wrote a bunch of jokes, and today I’m going to try to put them together in some sort of a logical way.


“This is the most expensive trick I do. The rubber band cost me 37 cents, but the ring cost me half of everything I own. The ring represents the 18 years I’ve been married and the a rubber band which memorializes the one time I bought broccoli

Show ring and rubber band. The rubber band is around your left index and thumb. Point to the sides of the rubber band as you say:

“This rubber band has two sides, just like congress…a left side and tea party”

“I will push the ring through each side of the rubber band defying the restraining order from the laws of physics.”


Push the ring through the first side of the rubber band

“Through one side…that’s the easy side. It’s the bunny slope of the rubber band. The second side is the double black diamond. Three men have died trying this next part, but they all had preexisting conditions… and latex allergies.”

Push the ring through the second side of the rubber band.

Pull the ring off the rubber band one side at a time.

“and that’s how I wrote my wedding off on my taxes!”


Alright the routine looks like more of a routine now, and not a bunch of random jokes. The routine now runs about a minute. That’s way better than the 12-15 seconds before I started writing for it.

The jokes still need some tweaking. The congress joke needs a better punchline, and the double black diamond needs a better word/name in its place. I also need something in between the the two penetration phases, where the ring is over both sides of the rubber band, but before I pull it off.