You'll Never Believe this Single Mom's One Weird Trick for Stronger Magic Presentations; The Shocking Truth Other Magicians DON'T Want You To Know

[When I read the draft of this post, the title: One Simple Trick for More Intriguing Presentations, reminded me of a clickbait title, so I decided to just go all the way with it.]

This is a weird one for me, because I was positive I had already written this post before. It was one I had on my list when I first started this site. But when I looked for it in the archives to reference for something else I was writing, it wasn't there. So... I guess I didn't write it? I don't know. There's a chance I decided not to write it up in order to keep it to myself because I do think it's a pretty valuable short-cut towards creating more interesting presentations. And I'm not one of these magic content creators who is like, "I'm not holding anything back!" I hold a lot of stuff back from you guys. 

I've definitely talked about similar ideas before, but I guess I never stated the concept clearly in a single post (or I'm just really bad at searching my own archives).

The idea arose from some of the focus-group testing I helped conduct in the past, but it wasn't something we set out to test. This was years ago and I honestly don't remember the exact genesis of the idea, but I know that's where it started and that it's something I've used ever since. 

I'll call this the "Based On Technique." (Part of the reason I like to give things names is so I can refer back to them. And another part is so I know what to search for in the archives so I don't lose posts I thought I wrote.)

Here's an example. The spectator hides a coin in either hand and you know where it is. A typical presentation for this is that you can read the spectator's body language to know which hand holds the coin. 

Trick: I can tell what hand holds a coin.
Implied Method: I can read your body language. 

Now, as I originally said in the Sealed Room with the Little Door post, there are two ways for a spectator to react to a trick with a believable implied method (aka a believable explanation).

"1. The spectator believes it, which is good for your ego, but not great entertainment, I don't think. 2. The spectator doesn't believe it and is put into the awkward position of wondering if you really want them to believe this somewhat believable explanation. For these people, the believable explanation often seems less like a 'presentation' and more like you're lying in order to impress them with some skill/power your don't really possess. Which a lot of you are, of course."

The Based On Technique can be used any time you have an effect with a believable premise. Let's go back to the coin in the hand. Typically you might say something like, "By reading your body language I can tell which hand holds the coin." (Or maybe you read their facial expressions, or you can detect when they're lying, or whatever semi-reasonable presentation you're using.)

The Based On Technique works like this. It's a two step process. First, is the Set-Up, where you relate what they're about to see to some believable concept. But instead of saying that's how the trick is done, you say what they're about to see is based-on that technique, or inspired by that technique, or has its roots in that technique. So you might say some something like, "Ok, this is... well... it's kind of based on techniques that were first used in reading body language." And you say it almost reluctantly. As if you don't want to mislead them by mentioning body language, but that's the closest thing that they might be familiar with that you can relate it to.

The second part of the technique is the Turn, where you then make a claim that steers them away from the concept you just mentioned. Going back to the example: "Ok, this is... well... it's kind of based on techniques that were first used in reading body language. But with traditional body language reading, you would need to see the person. This isn't like that. That's why I'm going to be completely blindfolded for this."

You see what we're doing, yes? We're giving them something to relate to, but then we're twisting it in a way to make the supposed method more fascinating. What kind of evolution of body language interpreration could involve not actually seeing the person? Are you sensing some kind of... change in their aura or something? 

This isn't just a hypothetical example. I've had Hugo Shelley's 6th Sense for a while. It allows you to know which hand holds a coin. The effect is so straightforward and clean that I just got the feeling that people thought, "Well, I guess he can tell which hand holds a coin based on my body language." They just seemed to believe it, which is not what I was going for.

But the reactions were much stronger when I changed my presentation to the one above. You still have the same outcome (you can tell them what hand holds the coin), but the proposed method is now interesting in its own right.

When using the Based On Technique, never tell them it's based on what it actually is based on. For example, don't tell them it's based on old mnemonic techniques, if, in fact, memory techniques could explain the effect. 

Here are some other examples of the technique:

The Set-Up: "Have you ever heard of human lie-detecting? They teach it to detectives to use in the field. You can determine when someone is lying by paying attention to their breathing rate and pupil dilation when they talk. This is something like that."
The Turn: "But it's different because with standard lie-detection techniques, I'd need you to say something. And in this case I'm not going to need you to verbalize anything at all."

(After someone shows you the 21 Card Trick, or some other mathematical effect.)
The Set-Up: "Oh yeah, that's a classic. I have a trick that's kind of based on that one. It has its foundations in mathematics too."
The Turn: "It's a branch of mathematics known as chaos theory. Can you throw the deck in the air and let the cards scatter around the room."

(Let's say I have a self-working effect. I might say something like this.)
The Set-Up: "This is sort of a variation on some of the most basic sleight-of-hand techniques that I learned in books I got from the library when I was a kid."
The Turn:  "But those techniques would require physically manipulating the object itself. This is a variation on sleight-of-hand that doesn't involve touching the objects."

As you can see, you don't have to be a genius to come up with this kind of construction. You just say the trick is "based on" some genuine thing. And then you add something that is also supposedly true about the trick that seemingly contradicts what the spectator knows about the subject you just invoked as being the methodological basis for what they're about to see.

Here are the two main benefits I see with this technique:

1. First, for those of you who are uncomfortable with a truly outlandish presentation, it's sort of a training-wheels technique to push you gently in that direction. It takes a believable premise and turns it into something a little more "out there."

2. This goes along with something I've written about frequently here. And that is the notion that a modern audience knows you don't have magic powers. So they know there's a secret involved. And instead of denying there's a secret, we can take steps to inject mystery and uncertainty into the audience's understanding of what secrets are and how they work. 

This technique is an easy way to generate very intriguing implied methods. Let me put an example into Magician-ese. If I said, "I have a trick I want to show you. It's kind of based on the Gilbreath principle, but it starts with a borrowed, shuffled deck that I never touch." Now you have to try and wrap your mind around something that's somehow related to the Gilbreath principle but uses a shuffled deck. It essentially doubles the mystery. You have the mystery of the effect and the mystery of the method.

"But they're not really going to believe the method," you might say. "They're not really going to believe it has something to do with body language, but you don't need to see their body."

Yes, there's some truth to that. But I think you'd be surprised how attractive this type of explanation can be. If I say, "I'm going to read your body language to tell you which hand holds the coin," it's very easy to dismiss that as being nonsense. Especially if you know me and know I'm not a master of body language. But if I say that I'm using a technique that's related to body language but differs in some radical ways, it's actually harder to dismiss that, I think. It's harder to dismiss it because you don't know what it is you're dismissing. I haven't made it concrete enough for you to reject completely. 

In the post I mentioned above, The Sealed Room with the Little Door, I wrote about the difference between tricks with believable implied methods and tricks with unbelievable implied methods. And I wrote how my favorite types of tricks to perform were strong tricks with unbelievable implied methods: time travel, witchcraft, evil twins. That's still true. I think when you can really pull that off you have the most "magical" type of effect because people know it's not real, but it feels real. The Based On Technique introduces another option that I like a lot as well. You have the believable implied method, the unbelievable implied method, and now the inexplicable implied method; where the concept behind the method is as mysterious as the trick it produces.

Gardyloo #41

Regarding the post on follow-thru that started this week, I was asked if I have any personal productivity or self-discipline tips. I do, kind of, and I'll maybe share them in the future. But ultimately, everything is just a mind game with yourself. So it's all in how you think about things. And I think the most beneficial mind "state" I've been able to achieve is that once I commit to something, it's no longer up for debate in my mind.

Here's what I mean...Let's say I want to write a novel. I say, "I'm going to write 2 pages a day, and in six months I'll have a novel." 

Now, the younger version of me would question if I was actually going to do that on each given day. "Do I really want to write today? I'm not sure I'm in a writing mood. Plus there is this other thing I'd rather do instead. If I don't write today, then I can come back tomorrow and write twice as many pages and they'll be better because I'll be in a better mindset because I'll be rested." 

And I'd go through that same kind of back-and-forth every day. And because I'm pretty talented at crafting convincing arguments with others, I'm also pretty good at it with myself. So it wouldn't be hard to talk myself out of my long-term goal (of writing every day) with some supposed benefit of my short-term desire (stockpiling supplies from the Taco Bell dollar menu and watching Andy Griffith on Netflix for 12 hours).

One day I realized that the key to getting things done was just to not allow myself to question whether I was or wasn't going to do that thing. I don't need to exercise my willpower because once the decision is made it doesn't need to be readjudicated on a moment by moment basis.

I'm sure this sounds beyond obvious. Or almost meaningless. As if I'm saying, "The way you stick to something is to stick to it." But that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying, the way to stick to something is to not entertain the option that you have any other choice.

And you might say, "Well, I just don't have that self-discipline. Even if I commit myself to something, I still end up bailing on it." 

But I can prove you do have that self-discipline. How many times have you not cleaned your ass after taking a shit? Do you ever find yourself thinking, "I'm not going to wipe my ass this time. But I'll do it twice as good next time." No. You take a dump, you clean yourself up. This was something you had to learn at some point. But now, as an adult, you'd never think of not doing it. You've made it not optional. You can do that with anything you want.

Self-discipline, for me, has been about training myself that not doing what I've set out to do isn't an option.

The point is that once you've made the commitment you don't have to consider it ever again. You just do it. You can certainly reassess and adjust your plans at scheduled points in time. That can be part of the process. But the key word is scheduled. Not just based on your whims or impulses.

You're going to post a magic video once a day for a year? Then you don't wake up and debate with yourself if you're really going to do it, or try to come up with some excuse why you can't. You just post the video. Even if it's a bad trick. Even if it's 5 seconds long. The moment you consider, "Well, maybe I don't have to do this today," then you're sunk. 

It may seem robotic to think this way. But I actually find it helpful to think of myself—in certain respects—as a robot that I myself program. When it comes to relationships and social interaction and a general lust for life, I can be free and flighty and human. But when it comes to accomplishing the objectives I've set out for myself, I like to treat my mind like a Ronco Showtime Rotisserie.

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Last week I wrote about endo-trick interests (being caught up with the inner workings of the trick, not the part the audience experiences). For all my Endomags out there, here is a fascinating version of the Magic Age Cards principle that uses an error correcting code called the Hamming Code.

Here is the description of the effect. Those of you familiar with the traditional Magic Age Cards will spot the difference immediately.

The magician walked into the spotlight and faced the audience. He asked for a volunteer. The young lady who raised her hand first was asked to pick [Jerx note: "pick" in this case means "think of"] a number from 1 through 15 and a color from the set {red, orange, yellow, green, blue, pink, purple}. She was then shown seven colored cards and asked to report whether or not her chosen number appeared on each card. On the card of her chosen color, however, she was instructed to lie. After giving her responses, the magician reported both her chosen number and her chosen color.

In an endo-trick sense, this is about as good as it gets. It's really pretty interesting. From an audience-centric (exo-trick) sense, it's not better than most tricks I've seen at the dollar store. That's not a value judgment on this trick. I'm and Endomag and Exomag myself. I like both aspects of the hobby (or "art"). The only issue is when you confuse the endo-trick qualities of a trick with its exo-trick qualities. This often leads people to perform tricks with an interesting method in a boring way because they're caught up with their assessment of the trick and not how it comes off to the audience.

Thanks to Joe Mckay for clueing me into this trick.


Jesus H. Christ, guys! We have our first person kicked out of the GLOMM for murder. Yes, the GLOMM has a rule against sexual predators (which is apparently everyone now) but we will also kick out murderers under the second rule: Don't be an asshole.

This guy, Frank Popovich, shot another dude in the head. Then, as this article says:

“In a scene that was captured on surveillance video, the defendant then walked over to the victim’s head area and slapped the victim in the head,”  Deputy District Attorney Larissa Ruescher, who prosecuted the case, said in a statement. “The defendant then walked to the feet of the victim, took the cigarette from his left hand, and continued to smoke it for a full 30 seconds while standing over the victim’s body.”

Geez.

While Frank is no longer in the GLOMM, I have heard nothing about him being kicked out of the International Brotherhood of Magician of which he was also a member. Keep in mind, you can kill someone and remain in the IBM/SAM. But if you show someone how to float a styrofoam cup by putting your thumb in a hole in the back, you will be kicked out and beaten soundly. That's their concept of right and wrong.

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Also, to be clear, while I'm kicking him out of the GLOMM because he's a murderer, had I seen this facebook picture of him earlier, he would have been booted out for this embarrassing steampunk Native American sartorial horseshit he's wearing. Good riddance.

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Schedule

Here is the schedule for the rest of this season of The Jerx.

Normal Monday, Wednesday, Friday posting will continue except for the week between Christmas and New Years when I'll be taking my winter break.

Dec. 6th - Issue #11 of The JAMM will be released.

End of Dec./Begin of Jan. - The Jerx deck will be shipped out to those who are set to receive it.

Jan. 6th - Issue #12 of The JAMM will be released.

Jan. 8th - Will be the final post for this season.

That week an email will go out to Jerx 2017 supporters to see if they'd like another year of the site. If there's interest in keeping it going, this site will commence Season 3 around the end of January. If not, you can come visit me as I fellate gentlemen in the restroom of the Port Authority bus terminal in Manhattan. See, I told you, my income isn't dependent on this site. I'm fine either way!

Hooks

Hooks are another set of tools that are available to the amateur performer but not the professional. 

A "hook" is anything that causes the other person to (seemingly) initiate the interaction that will lead to the performance of a trick. They can be used with anyone, but they're especially valuable with people you haven't performed for in the past.

Let's put you in the spectator's position and take it out of the world of magic.

Imagine you went to visit a new friend and, at some point, out of the blue he asks, "Can I perform a Shakespearian monologue for you?" This could probably come off as a little weird and potentially a little off-putting. "Has he been planning on performing a Shakespearian monologue for me all day? Am I supposed to clap at the end? Is he expecting a certain response?"

If you don't know the person that well, and you don't have a history of watching this person rehearse theatrical monologues, it would likely feel a little odd. 

Any time you do something that suggests, "I have been planning this interaction between us and you didn't know about it," that's a weird position to put someone else in. 

Now, let's go back. This time you visit your new friend's place and while he's microwaving some pizza rolls you pick up a book of Shakespeare off the coffee table.

"Are you reading Shakespeare?" you ask.

"Oh, no," he says. "Well, not really. I have to memorize a monologue for an audition I'm working on."

"What's the monologue?"

"It's from Julius Caesar. Actually, would it be okay if I run it by you? I need to practice performing it in front of real people."

That's going to come off as a much more natural interaction than him just coming out and asking to perform the monologue.  From your perspective, you're the one who started the two of you down this road by mentioning the book in the first place. You don't feel ambushed or set-up because you started it.

In this case, the book on the coffee table is the "hook." 

I think that "set-up" feeling can be especially strong with magic because, so often, people see magic as a test of their intelligence. A hook can be a way to circumvent them having their guard up because it makes the interaction seem less planned.

Once people know me, and know what they're in for when I show them a trick, then a hook's value is more about the fluidity of getting into the trick itself. But with a first-time spectator, the benefit of the hook is to put them at ease by seemingly allowing the interaction to commence based on something they've said or done.

Examples of Hooks in Magic

I'll list three here today, but the number of hooks are endless. (I have a couple hundred that I've come up with for myself at this point.) There are verbal hooks, story hooks, style hooks, object hooks, and a bunch of other categories I've come up with since I started thinking about this subject.

Let's start with the most obvious...

A Deck of Cards

A deck of playing cards can be an easy, obvious hook to initiate a magic performance. 

In fact, it is perhaps too obvious. If you take a seat at a bar and pull out a deck of cards and set it in front of you, that's not really a hook. That's just a blatant attempt to get someone to interact with you in regards to this object you've brought out. 

But in other situations it can be a more subtle cue to someone to question why you have it. I write a lot in coffee shops and often have a deck of cards with me because of what I'm writing. They might just be at my side while I write, or in a pile with other objects. And I can't tell you how many times someone has asked why I have cards with me. In fact, there have been multiple occasions where someone says, "Oh, do you know any card tricks!" (I'm always like, "Uhm...hmmm...my grandpa did teach me one once. How did that go? Let me think...." Then I go on to blow their mind with a genuine miracle.)

In the JAMM #1, in the article, She's Gotta Have It (which you should read if this subject is of interest to you) I make the point that if you go somewhere and pull out a deck of cards and set it on the table, you look like someone who's waiting for someone to ask him why he has a deck of cards—it's a little needy. But if you pull out a deck of cards, and your wallet, and your keys, and set them on the table; then you look like someone who has just emptied his pockets for the sake of comfort. Then the question isn't, "What does this guy want to show me with that deck of cards?" but, "Why is he carrying cards with him?" That may seem like a subtle difference, but I think it's one people can feel. Pulling out a deck of cards by itself and setting it on the table is an initial offering. But if it's just an object among others in the vicinity then it's the person who asks, "Why do you have a deck of cards with you?" who is making the initial offering.

Pictures

I have a number of different ideas for "picture hooks." This one comes from Chris, the police detective I wrote about in this post

Because of some interoffice shenanigans at work, Chris had put a single framed photo on his desk. It was a picture of Dai Vernon. This is from Chris' email to me...

Because it is such a unique picture to have framed, and the only thing on the desk, people would ask who it was, why did I have it, etc. After a while I started answering, “Oh, he’s an old mentor of mine” which would lead to the next question, which was, of course, “What type of mentor?” To which I would absentmindedly answer, sleight of hand. Which of course lead to the question, "Would you show me something?” which of course I would.

I think that's a great idea. If I still worked in an office, I'd use it. As it is, I've taken a photo of an old man and stuck it to my refrigerator. It's next to some other family photos but the old man is obviously out of place. The other day a guy was over my place to fix my furnace and asked if the picture was of my grandfather. I said no, it's an old mentor of mine. Which eventually transitioned into me showing him a trick. Now, normally I would never show the guy who was going to fix my furnace a trick. But this hook is so strong and the path from "who is this?" to "can I see a trick?" is essentially automatic so as soon as he mentioned the picture I started planning what I would show him.

As I said, pictures make great hooks. And this one is especially good because the concept of a "mentor" that taught you magic is an inherently interesting thing.

Books

Books make great hooks. And not just because that's fun to say, but because books are something you can carry with you and allow you to put essentially any subject into play. 

Let me take a step back. I tend to view creating an experience from an effect like setting up dominos to fall. 

So let's say I have some slates that I can make writing appear on. That trick, from showing the slates blank, to making the writing appear, is a certain segment of dominos falling over. If you walked out and said, "Look, there's nothing on the slates. Now I put them together. Now there is a word on the slates." You would have successfully knocked over the dominos of the trick itself in its most basic form.

What the best magicians in the word do is they set up a series of dominos before the dominos of the trick itself. These are dominos that put the trick in some context. These are the dominos of dimming the lights and lighting a candle and having a ceremony where you reach out to some dead entity. And these dominos all fall and lead into the dominos of you showing the slates blank and the word appearing. 

Now, when you add a hook to your presentation, what you're doing is just adding a couple more dominos to the beginning of your row of dominos. And you're essentially going to set a trap to get the audience to push the first domino themselves

The Hook --> The Story (presentation) --> The Effect

Without a hook, the slate trick begins with you pushing the first domino. You say, "Do you think it's possible to communicate with the dead?" That's certainly a fascinating topic, but it's still you getting things in motion. And that's always going to feel much more planned and set-up than if you can goad them into toppling over that first domino. 

As I said, books are great for that because they allow you to introduce any topic you want into the equation. I especially like old books and weird books. 

One of my favorites is this one that was given to me by an ex-girlfriend.

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If that's on your coffee table, or near you while you're doing some writing at a cafe, it's the type of thing that will draw a comment or a joke or a question. And if you're just like, "I don't know. I found it at this book sale and I thought it would be interesting to read." And then you go back and forth a little with the person, and then, almost as an afterthought, you say, "Actually... do you want to see something strange?" And then you go into this weird ritual you supposedly learned from the book. That feels much different and much more natural than you approaching someone cold or bringing up the subject up out of nowhere.

Tally Your Jerx Points

If you have 100 or more Jerx Points, send me an email letting me know how you accumulated the points by Friday the 24th to get the 20/20 e-book. "But I sent you an email six months ago with that information." Yeah, I wasn't keeping track then, ding-dong. Re-send it.

If that paragraph above makes absolutely no sense to you, don't worry about it. You're not missing out on anything super significant. I promise you. The 20/20 e-book is just a little bonus for people who wanted to do something above and beyond buying the things I've released. They did this by earning Jerx Points for different activities.

Like getting a GLOMM tattoo (or marginally less crazy things).

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Thoughts on Follow-Thru

Do you know what I take the most pride in? It's not having the greatest blog ever written. It's not my award-winning magic book. It's not how I'm redefining the performance of magic for the 21st century. Yes, all this is so obviously true that it goes without saying and isn't really open for debate, but these aren't the things I'm most proud of.

I'm proud that I said, "I'm going to write a book," and then I wrote one. Then I said, "I'm going to put out a magazine," and the 6th of the month it always shows up in subscriber's mailboxes. And I'm proud that, for a couple of years now, I've written this site on the exact schedule I've said I would. 


One of my favorite stories in magic is the story of the Braue Notebooks. Basically, this dope, Jeff Busby, took a bunch of money to release a series of publications from the notebooks of Fred Braue (old-time magic guy). He took 10s of thousands of dollars from people and said he would release 15 issues over the course of a year and a half. This was in 1985. He ended up releasing 5 volumes that year. ("Volumes" makes it sound like a hardcover encyclopedia. I'm pretty sure it was spiral bound, 1980s Kinko's quality.) Then he stopped! And then—almost as a goof—he releases another volume in 1992, then one in 96 and one in 97. Then he stops again! And this time we can assume it's for good, given that he died in 2014. Presumably, buried with the last 7 volumes he promised.

I get it. Follow-thru can be tough. That's why I'm proud of keeping on schedule here. I try to put myself in Busby's situation, with that huge obligation hanging over my head; owing people products for money they gave me ten years ago that is now long gone. That must have been a rough way to go through life. Or, maybe he was a genuine shithead and didn't really care. I don't know. 


As I said, follow-thru is a bitch. On his facebook page, Craig Petty launched something called Project 365 where he was going to post a new magic video every day for a year. He didn't last 3 weeks. He claimed he stopped because it was making people look at him more as a magician than a public speaker. Like, yeah, no shit. That's what posting a magic video every day will do. Who could have guessed? The truth is, he didn't stop because the videos were just so good and so popular that it was overshadowing his speaking career. He stopped because people weren't watching and commenting on the videos. When you're staring down the barrel of 49 more weeks of no one acknowledging what you're doing, follow-thru is a real M.F.'er, even for a guy who calls himself The U.K.'s #1 Motivational Magician. 


While I enjoy watching people crash and burn when it comes to the commitments they've made, I enjoy it more when they see it through.

One project that's been going on for a few years now that has definitely earned my respect is Dan Harlan's video series of his reinterpretations of every trick in the Tarbell Course

Dan is now 80-something videos into this project. He releases a new video every couple weeks. In each video he teaches everything from one of the chapters of Tarbell. He not only teaches the items, but he updates them, offers new handlings, modernizes the context, and performs them in front of a live audience. This is a crazy amount of work to commit to.

You can say, "Well, of course he's committed to the project, he's getting paid." But that doesn't make it somehow less of an achievement. He's getting paid because people are finding value in it.

"Well I can find the original Tarbell course for free online. I'm not going to pay for a video version of it." That's fair, but it is 100 years old. Magic methods have evolved, as has society. It's perhaps an unfortunate part of the history of our craft that we don't want to address, but it's worth noting that lesson 96 in the Tarbell course is entitled, Magic with Negroes, and features a trick called, That Ol' Picaninny Hoodoo.

...

Okay. I made that up. But to be fair, you almost believed me. You were like, "Hmmm... yeah that seems possible." So the point kind of stands that it may serve us to re-examine these routines from a modern perspective.

The truth is, I've only seen a couple of these, so this isn't a review. (I'm a completist, and since I didn't subscribe early on, to catch up now isn't financially feasible.) From what I've read, it's been pretty well received. But I'm not even talking about quality. I'm just talking about effort and follow-thru. Honestly, it would take a lot of effort to do this project poorly. So the fact that it's had favorable reviews only makes it more impressive. And I just want to recognize what he's doing because I think the commitment to the project deserves recognition.


One of my favorite examples of follow-thru in magic is still Casshan Wallace's goal of creating a new magic trick every day for a month. Then going on to create a new magic trick (and shoot a video of it) every hour for a full day. I originally wrote about this two years ago, and thankfully it's all still up on his youtube channel.

I love Casshan's style. Half cool, half stupid. 

Gardyloo #40

If I'm not mistaken, if you do 8 perfect faro shuffles in a row, it will bring a deck back to the same order you started in. 

I'm not a big fan of the faro shuffle. It doesn't look like the way a normal person shuffles cards (at least in the U.S.) and to make sure it's a perfect faro requires a level of concentration that I prefer my presentations not contain. So it's not a move I've put in the work to perfect.

But the other day I was sitting around thinking about automatic card shufflers and wondering if they do a perfect weave. It seemed unlikely when I first thought of it, but then I thought, "Why not? If the two sides are shooting cards out automatically at a consistent pace, is it so crazy to think that they might weave perfectly?"

My idea was I would take a deck in new deck order, send it through the machine six times before my friend showed up. Then when he showed up I'd show him the mixed up deck and say that I think my automatic card shuffle was broken. Then I'd send the deck through two more times, spread it across the table and it would be in new deck order. After that I'd say, "What a hunk of shit," pick it up, and throw it against the wall. (I found them at Walmart for $7. Destroying it seemed worth it.)

So, I got one. Separated the red cards from the black cards and sent them through.

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If it's not clear, the answer is no, they don't weave perfectly. They started out perfect but then you had two cards from each side going through in a number of cases. 

Well...there goes that idea.


Some little details tying together the imagery featuring Nikki, the JAMM Muse for November in Issue #10.

On the cover she is wearing these dotted white contact lenses, giving her a milky eye.

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Then, in the image that goes along with the Word of Mouth trick, she is getting ready to eat with the bent spoon from the cover shot.

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It's the little things, guys.


Does anyone know a good way for me to accidentally burn my fucking face off?


I got this in my email a few weeks ago...

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What a great idea. Nothing adds to the enjoyment of wasting your money on a terrible effect than slowly and painfully paying for it over the course of a year. 


Never mind, guys. I asked a question a couple segments above this one. But I think I've found the perfect solution


I went on a Cowsills jag after writing up yesterday's post. I watched like a dozen videos of them on youtube and then a documentary on Amazon. 

This was my favorite video. It's pretty unusual for the time because it's them performing The Rain, The Park and Other Things on a tv show, but actually singing it live. The best part is Susan Cowsill grooving on that tambourine. I love the spirit and energy of her performance. I want to absorb it and radiate it back into the world.