There is so much emphasis and power given to the information that people don’t know. We often depend on our audience not knowing what we are doing or how things are happening.
But, how do we find this information ourselves? Sometimes we manage to get there on our own. We evolve an idea to a point of personal creation. Other times we rely on previous works of people as a starting point, and sometimes an end point.
The key in all of this, is to learn things that are mostly unknown. But how? You need to find books. All the videos and DVDs that have come out these days have been pushed so hard that most people are aware of them. Many of these tricks and things are already etched in the minds of magicians as belonging to another magician. Usually that is the magician they first saw do it, or the person who is on the DVD. I tend to avoid this stuff.
Then we have books. This is where I think the most value is and where you are most likely to find material that people don’t know about. The challenge is, how do you know what to buy? You don’t! That’s the real answer. Unless someone tells you.
I’d highly recommend making a trip to a prominent magic shop. Well stocked shops like Denny and Lee’s have TONS of old books that are now out of print just laying around! I’m not joking, the last time I was at that shop Denny actually had a literal PILE of books in the corner, I went through it with a friend and we found some gems in there.
So, you need to go where you can find a bunch of books in one place that you can buy. If this doesn’t work out because of your local magic shop situation or geographic location, then your next step would be to visit a friend who won’t mind if you poke around their collection. Ask about random books. Many people with big libraries haven’t read every single volume, or don’t know the material in everything front to back, so chances are you could find a great book with lots of material you like that your friend doesn’t know about.
Get face to face with these books, then start browsing. Look through the books quickly. No reading like a novel here. You are looking to decide if it interests you enough to purchase. Read snippets as you flip through until you find an interesting passage. If it catches your eye, read further.
When a book stands out as something you’d like to read further, write the name down. It’s really that simple.
Following this method, you will have a collection of wonderful books that people don’t know about!
Magic is a particularly tricky subject as we deal with ideas, and the value in an idea is often in the execution of the idea. It usually is a matter of moving a finger here or there, shuffling a particular way, or squeezing a little bit.
So, when it comes to products, books, DVDs, etc. it is important that someone’s idea isn’t being taken without permission.
Permission of course implies you ask someone if they would mind if you use something that you believe is original to them. If they don’t grant permission, you shouldn’t use it. If there is nobody to ask permission of, then you get into a sticky situation. Personally, I take a certain approach, if it is an old idea or principle and the originator is dead as well as his wife/partner, then permission is difficult to nail down. I would then look to see if anyone else has published work on the idea that has moved it forward (an idea moving forward is such a loaded statement, and is extremely subjective). If they moved it forward in a way I was thinking about, or if they have taken the idea further while maintaining the original concept, I’d say you ask this new person permission.
If you do not have anyone who has moved the idea forward, and the originator as well as his/her wife/partner have passed away. THAT is when you credit at the very MINIMUM.
It seems today that this concept is lost. Crediting is perceived as being the same as permission. Crediting is not permission.
This same train of thought should be followed when publishing someone’s unpublished idea. If someone shows me an idea, and I use it in a trick, that does not give me the right or permission to publish, share, distribute, etc. the unpublished idea shown/shared with me. Even if you improve the original idea. That does not make it right for you to publish it before the original idea is published. Of course getting permission from the person who showed the original idea would mean it’s fine, publish away!
At the root of it all, if it feels uncertain, don’t do it!
There have been 3 or 4 fantastic ideas that I have wanted to use/share with people. Of those 4, one was a phone call to get permission, it was given graciously. A second was a face to face request, it was also granted. A third was an old idea taken further than I had taken it by someone else. I didn’t even bother asking as the idea of his was much better than mine. The fourth is an idea that was published about 92 years ago. Needless to say both originator and wife are no longer with us. I haven’t seen the concept taken further by anyone, so I am making an assumption. I will be giving credit in all of those projects.
If you find yourself on the wrong side of this issue, do what is right. Cut a check to the person, apologize and THEN ask for permission to carry on with an agreement of sorts, financial or otherwise.
If you are in the wrong, discontinue making those stolen ideas unethically available.
Independent creation doesn’t exactly count if someone else released it years before you…
That is one hell of a headline. A big promise too. Like most market-y headlines with big promises it require more than the pitch makes it sound like.
This is no exception.
The simple answer to this problem? Practice better magic! That’s it. All you have to do is practice better stuff.
Well, not so much. First you need to pick better material. That’s hard to teach someone to do. It’s subjective and anyone can argue that any trick is great. Guy Hollingworth has a wonderful talk he gives about fixing bad tricks, and not forgetting the trick is bad to begin with. Let’s follow Guy’s model. Don’t do bad magic.
I’ve mentioned criteria for tricks in previous posts on here. So if you want to know some of mine, give’r a little search.
The next crucial step. Practice. Yeah, you actually have to practice. Block off time in your schedule, cancel plans, close the door, turn up the lights, and get acquainted with a big mirror. Then PRACTICE.
More people could benefit from 20 minute in front of a mirror than the hours they grind out without one, repeating the same silly mistakes over and over again.
With all this wonderful work being done, good magic chosen, practice is coming along nicely, now you just need an audience.
Show your magic to someone! A stranger, not a family member, get some real reactions. Watch the eyes. Find out if they look at the wrong place at the wrong time. Work on that. Why did he look there? Was I blabbering on too much and wasn’t engaging? Did I look there myself? Was there something more interesting to see there?
Keep working with real people. Put time in with a mirror. Rinse, Repeat.
After doing this a few times you will have a lustrous coat, and if the trick was good in the first place, a beautiful piece of magic to share with all
BUY THIS BUY THIS BUY THIS!
That’s kind of how hype works. Huge promises are made with the end result being YOU buying THIS.
But, the truth is, for every over hyped product, there is a time tested product from a month ago, maybe a year ago, 10 years ago, 30 years ago, 50, maybe even 100 years ago!
Yes, we have amazing material from 100+ years ago. But… nobody is hyping it.
Before you start shelling over tons of cash for pounds of new crap. Take a step back and start looking for stuff that ISN’T new. Look for some tricks that were advertised in older magic magazines. See if you can track them down on Ebay or through sites like the Genii Forum or Magic Cafe.
The beauty of these old tricks is, they are new again! Nobody knows they exist and nobody is really performing them. Chances are, they have been perfectly preserved in the magic drawer of some unsuspecting victim of previous magic hype.
Start exploiting the time tested effects of yesteryear. So many magicians today do exactly that with books, and sell you what they find. I am no exception with Charles Jordan’s amazing The Spook Card.
You won’t find much hype behind this effect, it’s about 100 years old, and nobody knows about it… I’ve handmade the gimmicks that once accompanied the trick, and I’ve rewritten the instructions with colour pictures as well. I make them once every months and then they run out for a while. I’ve made a bunch for Christmas coming up. So, if you are interested shipping worldwide is included.
You probably want to know the effect.
A handful of cards are counted, by flicking your thumb along the edge. 1 2 3 4 5.
You flick the cards once more and have someone stop you and remember that card. The cards are given a casual overhand shuffle, you snap your fingers, and one card vanishes… you spread only 4 cards now between your hands and when you allow them to drop flipping face up one at a time, the card proves to be the mentally selected card. BOOM! Miracle from the early 1900’s
Or, you can SEARCH for other old effects and do the same thing. Either way, you will be rewarded greatly.
1. Close your fingers.
It seems straight forward, but the NUMBER ONE problem I see is people who spread their fingers open.
You have something you are trying to conceal in your hand. It’s larger than your palm, so your fingers are going to help cover it up. KEEP YOUR FINGERS SHUT! Tape or glue them if you need to. This problem goes away once you physically force yourself to do it. Seriously, tape those little guys together.
2. Stop Hitckhiking.
You gotta tuck that thumb in. There is no reason for your thumb to be all kinds of pointing. Bring it back to the rest of them. Sure, your other fingers probably make fun of your thumb for not really doing anything during a palm. But that is no reason to ostracize the thumb. Assimilate your digits into the melting pot that is your hand.
Tuck that thumb in!
3.Stop Rocking Out!
If you don’t want to look like you are at a KISS concert, or perhaps Slayer is more appropriate… You need to stop trying to palm cards with your middle and ring finger. It looks messed up and your pointing finger and pinky never curl in naturally. You should be palming with the base of your thumb and your pinky tip. There are more advanced palms, but now isn’t the time. Get this down first.
4. Why Are You Looking At Your Hand?
Don’t look at your hand when you palm. It makes people look at your hand, and of course, your hand is probably cramped with a jutting thumb a big gap between some fingers, and a SERIOUS flash happening. Look innocent, avoid the hand eye contact.
5. Stop Cramping Your Own Style
Those fingers need to LOOSEN up. Tension is the devil, and your hand appears to be possessed by that same devil. Relax, it’s just a piece of paper. If you gently tap the back of your hand, that card should fall out. Relax the grip and try to make your hand look less stiff and contorted.
There ya go, 5 quick fixes to most of the problems I’ve seen with new palmers.
Last Saturday my Friday post skipped a day and made it out on Saturday. Which is interesting because I never intended to post on Saturday. Since, that post skipped a day, and I saw the tremendous response to a weekend write up I thought, why not add it to the week!
We are already at once per weekday, why not throw in an extra on Saturday? So, moving forward, I am going to try to keep up and put some digital pen to paper, to be posted at 1pm EST as per most of my blog posts from here on out!
Which leads me to… Today’s post!
I find that every card magician eventually comes to the point in their life when they contemplate switching a deck. But what do you do? The truth is, there are a million and one ways to potentially switch a deck. But do you need to switch the whole thing?
Let’s tear this topic apart.
First, I must say, you would do well to acquire Roberto Giobbi’s book The Art of Switching Decks. The volume of switches alone will better prepare you for whatever switch you face.
Before we actually switch a deck, why don’t we take a look at WHY you are switching that deck. Is it because you need to swap a gaffed deck out for a normal one?
If so, is the whole deck gaffed? Do you need the entire deck to be gaffed? If you are switching a deck out because you do a packet trick with 5 special cards, you don’t need to switch the deck, you need to ditch those cards and use a short deck, or add the replacement cards on later. Either way you cut it, you don’t need to switch a deck.
Before you switch a deck, you NEED to make sure that you actually require a full deck switch. It’s not always the best solution. If you need to switch something, then do it the best way, that fits, but if there are other better solutions, use them!
Let’s say you NEED to switch a deck. Needing and wanting being very different…
So, you NEED to switch a deck out, what to do? The first thing is make sure the deck switch makes sense! You don’t want to switch a deck by putting it into a card box and then taking it right back out again unless it fits the trick.
This is the hard part. Context. The switch needs to be properly motivated and it needs to work without standing out. Standing up, you can use your pockets effectively. Alex Elmsley has a great one. Sitting down it gets a bit more crafty…
Things like The Cooler and a Deck Shell, will help here for the most part, they provide the perfect quick switch in plain view. Also consider how many people are watching you, how close they are, and how much cover you’ll need, if any.
I don’t have quick answers to all of these things, my goal is just to make you aware of these pitfalls so you don’t overlook them when deciding to switch your own deck.
Good luck, and have a great weekend!
I don’t know ANYONE who has done it all alone. They have worked with someone in one way or another. Someone has helped them get over an obstacle. You are no exception, you need help.
First, you need to know what you need help with. If you’re not so great with writing, hire someone to write for you and with you, if you aren’t very handy, get someone to help you build things. It really is that simple. Find the thing that is holding you back and find a person to help you overcome it. Terrible at sleight of hand but REALLY need to do it? Hire someone to teach you!
I’m having trouble organizing information, so I’ve hired a virtual assistant to help me out. She is marvelous and I’ve worked with her for many years now.
Find your weakness then hire someone to make it happen.
At this point the only person holding you back, is you…
After you feel you’ve collected enough information, there eventual comes a time when you need to start doing. You know enough. You’ve acquired enough. Now you must flip the tables and start actually doing.
When do you know it’s time to start doing? How do you decide that now is the time to take the plunge? I find it happens when you have a clearly defined goal, and you feel you are now able to move forward.
You have to know exactly what you want. What do you really want to DO. You can’t DO anything until you know what it is you want to DO.
Define your goal, clearly. “I want to show people magic” is a pretty bad goal. You don’t need a whole lot of anything to start doing that. Perhaps the simple instructions of a single trick could get you there.
"I’d like to perform a close up show for a small group of people" is a bit better. But we don’t have anything quantifiable though. So it’s ALL subjective. You can have that goal, but without a number, or a measurable way to determine when you’ve DONE what you said you want to DO, you are sort of treading water until you arbitrarily feel satisfied.
"I want to perform a 30 minute close up show, using only cards, coins and paper."
Now, there is criteria, There is something to compare with and measure, and an idea of what to use to occupy this time.
Now I have something to DO.
If you haven’t heard…
You are probably living on another planet or remote part of Idaho.
In any case! Magic Christian has put together a BAD ASS set of two volumes and in conjunction with the Conjuring Art Research Center and Hermetic Press, they are releasing these amazing tomes!
I had the good fortune of seeing these bad boys up close and personal. YOU NEED THESE BOOKS.
Beg, borrow and steal to get a set. only 900 will be produced and I am pretty certain they will go out of print and be that set of books that people want but can’t quite get.
I’ve never been a great mentalist, so take it as you will.
I could write some crap about how beautiful they are, which they are, or heavy they are, which is VERY, but that wouldn’t help anyone would it?
Instead, you probably want to read these books yourself. Which is fortunate because you can take a sneak peek inside and read a few pages right now at this link.
You are welcome!
P.S. Don’t actually steal, it reflects poorly on all of us. Begging and borrowing are fine, unless you are “borrowing” like some magicians have done with my books, and never actually return them. That I suppose would be considered stealing… Don’t steal, or borrow forever.
If asked for help by magicians I really try to help them, even if this means staying up late to catch them in their time zone to talk live or skyping between general life events.
I recently got an email from someone about a certain move and it’s inability to look good. The move can look good, but it never looked quite right, regardless of who is doing it. That has been my experience to date at least. However, it can look very good!
During my student career in university I would perform at the bar on campus, it was a great gig! One result of this was getting recognized on campus from time to time. It was always interesting.
On one occasion I was doing a trick for someone… That’s not quite accurate.
I was just starting to get in to a trick which involved turning the top card face up on top of the deck while in your hand. Simple right? Here was the problem. While I did turn a card over, and it did land neatly face up on the face down deck, the problem was that I did it in such a way as to look too pretty. They were impressed with the turnover…
It was never meant to be a point of interest, it was just a soft turnover of a (truly) single card. The spectator was so blown away with how I turned the card over, I never actually got in to the trick!
It was an odd lesson. You CAN make something too pretty, too soft, too smooth, or just too flourishy. Now, you need to consider, this wasn’t a flourish by any means. My left thumb push a card off the right long edge of the deck for about half it’s width, my right second finger and thumb gripped the card allowing it to slide across the top of the deck for the rest of it’s width and by pushing gently with my first finger, the card would turn over pivoting on it’s long edge and falling gracefully on the deck.
The thing is, the card never broke stride. It didn’t stop moving during this whole little move and it was going VERY slowly and at a consistent speed. It was a bit optical illusion-y in retrospect.
So, while we strive to perform beautiful graceful, smooth magic, sometimes it can be TOO much of a good thing.
Remember, nobody is fallible, yourself included, and create some really wonderful magic!
A few years ago I was at a magic conference, just before the conference someone sent me a casual email asking for more information on the interviews I had done with Jim Steinmeyer. It was short and sweet.
Months later we happen to find ourselves at the same conference. We didn’t get into a big discussion, it was kind of a “Hi, good to put a face and a name together…” sort of encounter and that was it.
We met again at another conference and spent more time together. We spoke at length, stayed up until all hours of the night talking and doing magic and now despite being out of touch more or less for those previous years, I consider him a very good friend, I trust him, and we speak openly about things.
I tell you this for one simple reason. He shared with me that he was uncertain about saying hello. I met another person at the LA conference recently and we had crossed paths before but we never spoke really. We were both looking for roommates for the conference and he decided not to get in touch, because he didn’t know if I was going to be nice or a dick.
I think I can safely say we are on good terms now. This happens over and over again. A young man from Denmark recently reached out to me for some assistance with a difficult to understand move. His reaching out made it possible for me to help him with that move.
So, here is my point and my offer. If you read this blog, and you’d like to be in touch. Don’t be shy. Send me a note, say Hi. Let’s talk about the conferences you plan on attending and if all things work out, let’s grab a drink and I will be happy to show you some interesting card work, talk history, or discuss the stagecraft.
In any case, this is an open invite to not be shy.
I think we can all agree that presentation will take a trick from good to great. But how often do you review your current presentation and think, “How can I make this better for the my spectators?”
Or, “What experience am I leaving my spectator’s with?”
These seem like irrelevant questions at first, but the truth is, the presentation you choose to follow will impact them tremendously and makes the difference between an unforgettable experience and a silly trick that they say some guy do…
Think about it.
Do you want your audience to laugh insincerely at your weak jokes? Or do you want them to literally keel over in fits of laughter? Or perhaps no laughing at all? All of these things will happen because of the way you present something.
Consider what you want your audience to think, and try to work backwards from the presentation. David Copperfield uses stories to elicit wonderful emotional reactions from his audience. Don’t go copying Copperfield’s stories but consider that he has a way to get a certain emotion, a certain presentation that results in a certain experience.
Blaine is doing unbelievable stuff, and taking it one step further, and further, and further, until the audience really can’t believe what they are seeing or what he is about to do. It’s that dragging anticipation. “He’s not going to do that… no way, no way!” Then of course he does.
If you just want a cute story about your puppy and a cute reaction, that’s fine. Just go do that cute puppy story.
Review your presentations, consider what you want the audience to experience, and make that happen. It’s not a one shot deal. You will need to go at it again and again until it’s right. But start with an approach and a goal. You will get there!
I haven’t watched the recent Blaine special yet. I’ve actually been watching the reactions from magicians and other people.
The most notable thing I am seeing, is that Blaine has once again redefined what makes magic great. He is doing things while giving credit to people, as was pointed out by Rudy Coby on twitter. I’m seeing people pointing out effects that are available to each and every one of us (more or less) without the disdain and general hate that accompanied previous specials, and I am seeing great conversations about these things!
If you haven’t seen the special yet, I encourage you to find a way to watch it again, like I will be doing for the first time myself. Watch it a second time, and think about the material in the show. Watch it a third time and notice how his character has evolved. Watch it again and keep track of the timing of the audience reactions and what part of the trick or what moment brought out those reactions.
Dissect the special a little bit. Do NOT steal the material. If you saw Blaine do it, DON’T DO IT!
If it has been in your repertoire for over a year, exceptions should be made, but do not add something because you saw Blaine do it.
Appreciate the character, the dress, the cards, the props, or lack thereof.
This is what I will be doing when I watch.
Non-magic folk reading this. Watch David Blaine Real or Magic just for fun. THEN, let me know YOUR thoughts on it.
I go in and out of habit with To-Do lists. Regardless of whether I am using them daily or not, I can say, without a doubt, I am MUCH more productive and I get the right things done when I am following or using one.
So, make a magic to-do list for yourself. This could be anything from “finish reading The Complete Jarrett”, to “practice riffle shuffling for 30 minutes each day.” Personally, my list consists of a lot of “Make this part, read this description again, rehearse this piece, send this, this, and this, to Bob, etc.”
Having a list is nice, but you won’t get much done if you don’t actually look at it. So here is how I am trying to keep it in my face. First, write it down. Don’t type it up, don’t enter it into your phone. Write it down on a slip of paper. If it’s a big list and takes up a whole page, that’s fine.
Take that list and put it somewhere you will see it over and over again. If you are on your computer a lot, then tape it to the side of your monitor. If you hit the fridge frequently, magnet to the fridge!
Once you’ve got it in position, take your smartphone, tablet, whatever you keep on you most of the time, and take a picture of the list.
Now, you have the list on you at all time and when it comes to mind you can refer back to it. This will keep it on the top of your head. For an added little kick, you can put a recurring alarm on your phone that goes off once a day around 1pm or whenever is good for you, to look at the list and keep it top of mind.
There ya go! That’s my current strategy for getting things done, magic related and otherwise. I think you’ll find YOU get a LOT more done with this same approach.