Well, open them to read this, then you can close them and follow through…
I’ve never been a big music person. I don’t really attend concerts for bands of my choosing, just not my thing. I don’t buy CD’s or have gobs of music, collections of records, etc. But I do have certain songs that I love.
There is nothing quite like closing your eyes and listening to a song that can take you to another place. It washes all your problems and stress away, and leaves you clear minded, relaxed and in a place to get things in you life moved forward. Even if that thing is the dishes.
A particular favorite that I hadn’t listened to in ages was Mr Brightside by the Killers. During university I would play this song on endless repeat, it just puts me in “the zone” and gets my head in a certain space.
A bit more classical would be anything with flutes and violins, movie soundtracks can do it to me, not the stuff with lyrics, more the instrumental compositions that are branded to the movie. My friend Nyree posted the music to Practical Magic (appropriately), and while the rest of the music did nothing for me. The two movie branded songs are whimsical and soothing.
So, try this. Get some headphones, plug them in, put them in, not just one, both.
I hope it does the same thing for you that it does for me.
Have a peaceful weekend…
Last night was Workshop Wednesday, and of course that means I locked myself in the workshop and got working!
I’ve been working on a pretty ambitious project, which is to make an 18th century style saw from scratch. Why? Mostly to acquire all the skills required to do it, and because i actually need the tool and don’t want to buy it off the shelf. I can’t guarantee quality and this is a great skill building exercise.
Now, I mention priorities because sometimes you need to put the thing you want to work on, on hold, to finish up something you NEED to work on.
In my case, I have a bunch of wands I am making and quite frankly, I dropped the ball. Instead of following my priority list and working on the wands I went to the shop and worked on this saw.
But, despite my neglecting what I actually NEED to do, I am going to be finishing those wands in the next couple of days.
As the saw starts to take shape I will post pictures of my progress.
Simple words to write, but harder to follow.
One book I find myself revisiting a few times a year is Dale Carnegie’s wonderful “How to win friends and influence people.” In there he mentions that you need to make the decision to be happy.
My formal education included years of studying psychology from various perspectives and I understand the clinical depression and sadness that can be brought on from medical reasons.
For most of use though, we really can decide to be happy. You can choose happiness. It is a decision you can make, and that decision can instantly change your outlook on life.
When you consciously decide to be happier day in and day out, your mood changes, people treat you differently, you smile more (proven to release endorphins which actually make you feel happier) and the things you do start to become more associated with your happiness.
You make different decisions when you are happy.
Two things that magicians neglect. Rest and Exercise.
You don’t sleep enough. We’ve all done it, you stay up until 4AM doing card tricks, wake up at 8AM and start your day. Ugh…
You trudge out of bed, stumble to some sort of food, and regardless of what it is, you eat it. Then you continue on with your day.
When Chris Kenner spoke at MagicLive years ago, and again at Magic-Con years later, people were furious. But his point was made. You need to take better care of yourself.
That might mean taking 10 minutes and stretching in the morning. Eat some breakfast, set a bed time.
I get it. You won’t always follow it to the ‘T’ but if you have a rough idea of what is best for you,
When you improve yourself, work on your body, your health, and let yourself rest long enough, you can perform at a higher level.
When you are at your best, you can produce your best.
Work on you. Take 15 minutes a day to stretch in the morning. Eat fresh foods, you don’t have to go crazy healthy but make some sort of effort. Stretch again before bed, and close your eyes at a reasonable time. Plan for 8 hours a night if you can. One day a week try planning for 9 hours of sleep.
You will notice the difference immediately. If you get really ambitious consider a jog around the neighbourhood in the morning. Again, this shouldn’t take long. Eat healthy for breakfast. Balance your diet, ease up on carbs, increase fiber.
Drink tons of water.
Oh and practice your sleight of hand…
The promise land, I’ve found it!
I had the absolute pleasure of sharing a PILE of smoked delicacies at a restaurant in Toronto called Stack… or Smoke Stack. Something like that. The menu and signage was unclear.
My wife and I were out with a couple of friends who brought us to this place. With a touch of fear, three of us went in on the ultimate meat platter.
What came next was extraordinary. It was a literal baking sheet PILE of fries, covered with half a chicken, racks of ribs, pulled pork, a delicious brisket, and smoked deli style meat, it was accompanied with a side of Mac and Cheese, Baked Beans, and coleslaw, as well as 3 different sauces.
It was quite the sight. It was overboard in every single way. It was also delicious, spectacular, and a truly unique experience.
We ravaged that pile of food, had great take out containers of meat for lunch today, and possibly tomorrow, and had experienced nearly every option on the menu.
Needless to say it was a bit indulgent. But in one sitting we were all able to enjoy a full range of the offerings this restaurant has.
Sometimes indulging can also be enlightening. As someone who REALLY likes BBQ and smoked foods, this allowed me to compare so many other things I’ve enjoyed to this place.
You can indulge in many things, and food doesn’t have to be the subject for indulgence.
If you like something in particular, like, perfume, or bubble baths, playing cards, candles, fine wine, soap, golf, hockey, fashion, magic, etc.
Whatever your guilty pleasure might be, try to set aside a certain amount of time and money to truly indulge. To go beyond what you normally do. Not as a permanent change in your day to day activities, but as a rare treat to set the standard to. Use this indulgence as an opportunity to further your experiences and knowledge, to expand your experiential horizons and built a larger repository of familiar things to compare future things to.
Indulge, you deserve it!
I’m a huge Marlo fan.
I say that extremely reluctantly. Not because I don’t admire his work as a whole, but because his approach to magic and publishing really rubs me the wrong way.
That being said, I believe I have nearly everything he published in book form. It’s quite the work, and I really must say as the various styles of writing magic come in and out of play, Marlo has a certain dry, no bullshit way of laying things out.
He isn’t trying to make you laugh, or entertain you in his writing. He gives the goods, cuts out the story time, and goes straight for the work on something. Then he follows up with many variations. His work is unapologetic, driven with a certain confidence (or lack thereof) and desire to get everything on paper. Marlo was the guy that got it on paper.
We all owe a great deal of gratitude for this, despite the many relationships he put in jeopardy along the way, he is not the first nor will he be the last to put himself on the line for the sake of disseminating information. Will Goldston was pretty aggressive about it, as was Glenn Gravatt with his Encyclopedia’s of Self Working Card Tricks (Yes there are 2).
These people do magic a long term service, by causing waves and ruffling feathers during their time.
Are they right to do it? I don’t think anyone would say yes during that time, but are we glad it happened? I for one, am glad the information is available, selfish, but true.
Revisit Marlo. Revolutionary Card Technique and Riffle Shuffle Systems are two personal favorites but I have yet to flip through a Marlo book and not stop to smell the theoretical roses with cards in hand.
Explore Marlo. You will be rewarded for your efforts.
As can be seen from my post yesterday. Workshop Wednesday didn’t go quite as planned. Instead of getting all kinds of great stuff made, I spent most of my time setting up CNC controls for my lathe and milling machine.
CNC is the ability to control your machine tools with a computer. It also allows you to draw out or design a part and have the machine move the tool around to create it according to very specific criteria, it’s how you would cut perfect shapes and design, but it can also be used for very tight tolerances and with long parts that require a great deal of machining to bring to size this can be a life saver.
I’m not quite at the point where I can draw a part, layout all the tool paths and then press go, but I am slowly getting there. My current status is controlling the movement of the machines with a computer instead of turning each handle by hand. This doesn’t seem like much but to work out exactly how far it needs to move, at what speed, and while the tool or work is spinning at another speed can be a lot to think about when you are just starting out. I will keep at it and have no doubt that this will open up a world of opportunity as I start to introduce simple code to produce parts.
The other wonderful thing about CNC is that it will duplicate parts perfectly. Once the program has been written once you can create the exact same part over and over again if need be. Much of the Tommy Wonder material will send shivers up any machinist’s spine, but with the use of a CNC machine many of those trick bits can be tackled without worrying so much.
I’m hoping tonight will be Throw back Thursday, where I will throw myself back downstairs in the workshop and get some chips flying! I will post some pictures of the saw I am making as things come together.
Today, is that magical day where I get my hand dirty. I must say, I am particularly excited for the project I am working on right now.
Often times I will read about a magic trick, prop, magician, etc. and wonder how on earth they managed to make, or do something. Then I will find the plan, picture, or explanation, and if all things align properly I will be enlightened and delighted.
This is often the case when you chase secrets. It’s a wonderful feeling. But every once in a while I will see something and it puzzle me as to how it was originally made. This is the case with a prop from the 1940’s or so. I simply can’t understand exactly how it was constructed start to finish. It’s not the end of the world, it just requires a bit of thinking and research.
So, this week, I am going to work on making a tool. Yes, I make my own tools from time to time if the project requires it. In this case I am workign with Brass and Hickory as my materials and when I am done I should have a beautiful new hand saw that will handle much more than the small metal coping saws that are available today. This saw will help when it comes to cutting curves and finer decorative designs in wood.
With a little bit of luck and planning this should work well, the only big challenge I will face is keeping my chisels and blade sharp at all times, as Hickory is particularly hard on tool edges.
I’ve also got a number of wands in various stages of completion. For those interested in a Cherry wand with rounded ends and french polished by hand, let me know.
We can work out the details then.
Whether we like it or not, we have to realize that we are all at a different point in our lives. We are on different journeys. We all aspire to different things. Our goals and accomplishments might not all be in tune.
In other words, we are all in different boats. Some are experiencing some heavy choppy waves, and some of us are are smooth sailing right now.
Whatever your situation, recognize where you are, where you are going and where you actually want to be. Where you are heading in life and in your magical advancement might not be getting you towards where you want to be.
Be honest with yourself. Knowing where you are now can make everything more realistic. Anything is attainable, but where you are now will determine how long it takes and how far out you should be looking. If you want to be the best second dealer in the world, but you’ve never held or dealt cards, this might be a 10 year+ goal.
If you want to be the greatest illusionist of all time, but you’ve never been on stage… Well, don’t rule it out, but know that there is a LONG way to go.
You also need to expect some rough waters. I don’t know anyone who has reached their goals without facing some adversity and obstacles along the way.
One thing for sure though. Ride in your own boat! This is YOUR journey. YOUR adventure.
Don’t tag along with someone else, get out of my boat! Or that other person’s boat. Get your own boat and sail on.
Imagine the feeling you’d experience if you were in a bar when this was shouted by some generous patron?
4 simple words can immediately illicit a very specific response and feeling…
Incredible really! Imagine if you could do that with your day to day life. Perhaps you say a specific line, at a specific time, for a specific trick, and always get a gasp, laugh or tears.
That would be pretty incredible wouldn’t it?
For many professional magicians, this is exactly the case, but it takes YEARS of doing the exact same trick nearly the exact same way, with very minor changes and tweaks to get it to such a refined point.
At some point you need to decide what you want the reaction to be from a trick, and make some specific choices on how you think you will get them. Then you need to stick to the same presentation, over and over and over again.
After all that, Drink are on me!
This is a question we don’t often ask or take seriously. But it is a very legitimate way to determine whether the attempt is worth it.
When a situation presents itself to do some jazz magic (basically making it up as you go) I rarely turn it down. The simple reason is I don’t really have much to lose. What is the worst case scenario? I might not have the best trick, it might go terribly horribly wrong.
So what? Ignore it! Move on. Do something else, just don’t invest heavily if you think you might lose it all.
On the other hand, perhaps you build up a trick to epic proportions, but you do it knowing that there is a 50 50 chance of it working. Why do this? Because you are comfortable enough with either outcome. You could have it go wrong and play it off as a joke if you had to. OR you ACTUALLY DID A MIRACLE!
Think carefully, perform wisely, and ask yourself.
"What have I got to lose?"
10. You can totally hide stuff in your hand or plain sight and people can’t see it. Really, they can’t see it!
9. You get paid to have fun…
8. The cool stuff you’ve gotten to do simply because you’re a magician astounds laymen.
7. Friends live all over the world.
6. You can read and learn from it…
5. People are genuinely interested in your passion.
4. You get to do apparently impossible things!
3. Whenever you want, you can start the party.
2. You get asked to do some REALLY cool stuff.
1. You’ve found your passion.
Usually I talk about what I’ve accomplished in the workshop. Today, let’s go through what I plan on doing this week.
Unfortunately with any project at some point or another there will be repairs required. While working on the Tommy Wonder piece I made an error in process, I skipped a step at the wrong time and the wire broke in the process of trying to accommodate. Fortunately that isn’t a big problem I just need to solder it back in place.
I’m also going to start working on something completely non-magic related. With some beautiful turning wood I am going to make myself a shaving brush.
For many years I’ve had a fascination with straight edge shaving. I can’t really get in to shaving with an electric razor for a smooth full facial shave. Even today, with my beard, I use a straight edge as much as possible and only use an electric beard trimmer to keep the length in check. I have the bristle part thought and I’d like to make a beautiful deep dark red brush handle with a brass plus on the bottom of it that will hopefully serve as enough of a weight to prevent it from falling over. That’s the goal.
In magical stuff, I will finish the Tommy Wonder piece, finish a beautiful transposition I am working on with paper, and adjust some coin stuff I’ve been playing with.
After that, I will probably take some boards I have laying around and start dimensioning them. There really is nothing quite like taking a rough furry piece of lumber and refining it in to a smooth squared off piece of wood ready to be cut and assembled in to something beautiful.
Now you know what is happening in MY shop, I want to hear what you’ve made or plan on making in your shop. Tell me about your projects in the comments below!
My best friend asked me to be his best man a couple of years ago. Of course I said yes, and was left with the wonderful task of the Bachelor Party!
You can probably figure out what happened next. We went to Vegas!
While there we saw Mac King (Which is an awesome show and you should go see it if you are ever in Vegas) and afterwards we chatted with Mac for a while. He dropped a sweet bomb of a recommendation for his favorite Steak House in Vegas, this was after we were unable to get reservations at Gordon Ramsay’s new steakhouse.
Fortunately for us the place Mac suggested was exquisite. Truly some of the best food I have ever tasted in my life. But what truly stands out to me was one of the comments from the guys.
In short, he said he didn’t know anything could taste that good. He truly meant it, comparing the best steak before that to something he had at a nicer franchised sort of steakhouse.
It was pretty clear to me. If you lack vision, and you haven’t experienced something truly great, how can you possibly hold yourself to that standard.
Crackers, imagine you eat nothing but crackers, boring saltines. Then one day, you get a big meal, like a Thanksgiving style feast with Turkey, cranberry sauce, gravy, mashed potatoes, squash, turnip, sweep potatoes, STUFFING, etc.
Imagine the night and day experience.
Magic is no different. If the public only knows about the worst magic, or they have set the bar for magic that low, imagine how good you will look.
Consider those who are celebrated that you don’t deem as worthy. If only people knew about YOU and YOUR magic.
Perform great magic, and perform it for lots of people. If you are above the imaginary bar, you should be the new standard. Go out and set the bar.
In the friendly spirit of Valentine’s Day, let’s discuss friends!
I find it extremely helpful to have friends in magic that I call. Meaning i don’t see often. The reason is simple. Those friends that live in a different city, country, or continent, are more likely to share everything. I of course do the same.
With my friends that aren’t in Canada, and a handful that are, I don’t hold any secrets back. In a short time I can become very knowledgeable on a subject and learn the unpublished ins and outs of a trick, magician, move, theory, philosophy, etc. All from swapping information with all my magic friends.
A particularly lively conversation took place this morning where we discussed the finer points of John Ramsay and his work with coins in general. I learned a LOT from a pro amongst pros.
I wouldn’t be able to get this information anywhere else, from anyone else with so much information.
Friends are important. They make things happen. Go make some friends! Choose wisely.