Moon Barks At Dog

In the last post I wrote, "People don’t actually have to believe the narrative of the effect. They can understand it’s all fiction and still get caught up in it."

This presentation is an example of that. 

Moon Barks At Dog

This has been one of my favorite things to do the past few months, although I don't know if anyone else will be into it. It is a highly unbelievable premise. These are my favorite presentations because I can be 100% serious about them without any concern that someone might think I'm actually making some kind of claim that I want them to believe. I don't mind muddying the waters about what's real and what's not real in regards to certain things, but not when it comes to who I am and what my abilities are. When I was 13 I might have thought it would be cool if people thought I possessed some power that made me special, but I'm a grown-up now. I've got real shit going on in my life. I don't need to fake a quality to get people to like me. 

For that reason, if I do a trick where I'm claiming some super-powered memory, or some gambling ability, I always feel compelled to do so with my tongue in my cheek. And even if I'm doing a mentalism effect—depending on who I'm performing for, their beliefs, and how well they know me—I feel like I should give a wink to them to make it clear that I'm not actually hoping they believe what's going on.

But with a truly unbelievable premise, you don't have to concern yourself with any of that. You can play it completely straight, which is much more fun. You can be 100% serious as you sit next to them on the couch, let out a long sigh and say...

"Did I tell you I bought an invisible dog? What a mistake that was."

You have your friend sit on the floor with you. They select a card and you put it back in the deck. You tell them about this invisible dog you bought and how you thought he was going to be really helpful with some tricks, but he totally sucks. You call for the dog and hold out the deck. “C’mon, Brooksy. Come get the card, boy!” And you just sit there with the deck on your hand, nothing is happening. “He’s supposed to be able to smell the card with his 'great sense of smell,'" you say, mockingly, "and then nudge the deck with his nose so it separates at your card and he pulls it out with his teeth. At least that’s what I was told he could do when I bought him. That's what the previous owner showed me he could do. But he's been totally useless. This is going to sound crazy, but I think he sold me a different invisible dog than the one he originally showed me.” You hold the deck out and whistle. Nothing happens. You slam the deck off to the side, slightly behind you. “That useless piece of shit. I think I’m going to have him put down. He’s old. And frankly if he’s not going to help with my tricks, it's kind of pointless to have him around."

And as you shit-talk the dog, your friend sees the deck start to move, splitting into two packets, and then one card being pulled out of it, almost as if… well... maybe as if an invisible dog has found the card.

“I’ll probably just end up beating him to death with a shovel. It’s just cheaper.” Finally you notice your friend noticing the cards. “Hey! He got it! Oh… who’s a good boy!” And you start petting a rambunctious invisible dog in your lap. You throw your head back and giggle like a fucking moron, as if the dog is licking your face. “Stop it! Stop it! Hahahahaha. Stop it, Brooksy!”

Yes, it's just Haunted by Paul Harris/Peter Eggink (and it could possibly done with other haunted deck effects).

I love using the haunted deck for something legitimately creepy. I think it's a great tool for doing something really scary, or really ridiculous as in this presentation. (The thing that's telling about most magicians is how—even with a trick that so easily lends itself to more interesting premises—it's still often kind of thrown away as a "watch what I can do" moment.)

I get it, I get it, I get it. You didn't start performing magic to make people consider ghosts or invisible dogs, you wanted them to consider your astonishing powers. I know.

But for some of you, this presentation will be a lot of fun. It has that emotional engagement factor, albeit in an unusual way. If you're enough of a jerk like me, you can actually almost feel the person you perform for rooting for the fake, invisible dog. 

I've found pretty much everyone (guys, girls, old, young) is able to play along with this sort of thing on some level. This isn't one of those long-form immersive tricks that you need to establish a ton of rapport with the person first. It's easy for them to catch-on that this is leading somewhere and they just need to go along with it. (Of course, if they're very familiar with you, they can get on board even quicker. I performed this for my friend Elena last weekend and I said, "Did I tell you I bought an invisible dog?" And without missing a beat she rubbed her chin and said in all seriousness, "Hmmm... I don't think so." As if maybe it had come up but just slipped her mind.)

I particularly like that the deck cuts itself behind me, while I'm unaware, ranting about nonsense. There aren't many tricks that play out with that stage picture.

I'm thinking of adding one more beat to the routine. A couple days later I'm going to nonchalantly stroll back and forth in front of their house with one of these until they spot me.

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The Path to Emotional Engagement

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Hey, I adore Sankey. The guy is probably the most prolific creator of practical, commercial magic in history (Sorry, ladies. Herstory.) But this is not a great example of emotional engagement. And the reason it's not is because there is no emotion involved in selecting one of 52 identical looking objects. 

In this post I wrote about the effects I performed in 2017 and said:

The tricks that stayed with people were the ones with an interactive, present-tense narrative that engaged them emotionally.

Performers who shy away from the idea of emotional engagement tend to view it as manipulative or overly-serious. They often assume it means dealing with genuine emotional issues directly in the presentation. That’s not what it means. It doesn’t mean doing Living and Dead tests or reading someone’s mind to name the person who first broke their heart. 

Attempting to engage people’s emotions by making your patter about inherently emotional subjects is like putting “Let’s Get It On” on your sex mix playlist. It’s corny, dude.

The idea of emotionally engaging magic is a complicated one. But don’t worry, I’m about to clear this shit all up for you, real easy like.

The first thing to understand is this: for something to be emotionally engaging, it does not have to be about their emotions. It just has to be relatable.

Magic has a relatability issue. Traditionally what the magician does is magical but meaningless, and he does it in a mysterious way that suggests he is almighty.

What he’s doing (linking rings, making balls vanish under cups, making bills go into lemons) is meaningless, and therefore unrelatable.

And how he’s doing it (with the snap of a finger and unknowable, god-like power) is also unrelatable. 

Both the "what" and the "how" are unrelatable. So magic itself seems unrelatable. And when people can’t relate to something, it’s hard for that to be emotionally engaging. So magic is pushed into the realm of juggling and plate-spinning. It’s more stunt than drama.

To change this, we need to make one of those elements (the what or the how) more relatable to create emotional engagement.

Historically, people have striven to better their magic by adjusting the what. “I’ll do something magical and meaningful in a mysterious, almighty way.” But that doesn’t work that great, because there aren’t a whole lot of meaningful magic tricks. If there were, we wouldn’t be linking rings, making balls vanish under cups, and making bills go into lemons.

Instead of trying to make the what relatable, it’s far easier to make the how (the manner you do it) relatable.

“I’ll do something magical and meaningless, but I'll do it in a human way.”

By “human” I mean that you’re not a god who is snapping his fingers. You’re someone who is learning, practicing, struggling and dealing with setbacks and successes. Now the how is relatable. They may not have ever learned magic, but as a general process they can still understand it. 

If I show you a Tenyo trick, and it’s a ball that penetrates into a sealed box, and I just do it with a snap, then there’s nothing for you to get invested in.

Instead, what if I pull the ball and box out of a padded envelope and set it up and nothing happens and I’m like, “Yup, that’s what I thought. [Sigh] I got ripped off on this thing. I paid $180 bucks for this because it’s supposed to be this classic trick but it doesn’t work at all. And the guy I bought it from on ebay won’t give me a refund because he swears its an original and not a fake and that it will just take some time for it to settle back into working order after the shipping. I’ve been trying it a couple of times a day for the past week but I haven’t had any luck.”

Well, you can relate to this, because you’ve wasted money or you’ve had a bad transaction online or you bought something that didn’t work. 

“Here’s what’s supposed to happen. I’m supposed to keep this box shut with rubber bands. Then cover it with a bandana like this. And place the ball on top.” Wait. “And what’s supposed to happen is that the ball will penetrate down into the-“ [CLUNK!]

Something happened! The shape of the ball is no longer visible underneath the cloth. I pull it away. The ball is in the sealed box. 

“Well… holy shit,” I say.

And look what happens… by making it not a trick that happens at the my whim, this amazing but meaningless moment (a ball going into a sealed box) now actually does have some meaning to it. The trick worked, it wasn’t a dud, it wasn’t a waste of money. The moment has weight beyond just the impossibility of it.

People don’t actually have to believe the narrative of the effect. They can understand it’s all fiction and still get caught up in it. A story doesn’t have to be true to engage the emotions. 

To summarize, the path to emotional engagement is this: First, recognize that emotional engagement is predicated on relatability. Second, instead of trying to make the "What" of the trick relatable, try to make the "How" of the trick relatable. Jacks turning into Aces is not going to be the sort of thing people are going to get emotionally invested in if it happens with the wave of your hand. But if you lay out a relatable path of how we got to the point where we are today with you about to change those jacks to aces, that can be the source of your emotional engagement.

Gardyloo #51

I got pump-faked by my google alerts today.

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Uh-oh, who is it now? Whose GLOMMbership must I revoke?

And then I open the email...

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Ah, you got me, Association for Child Abuse Prevention, you tricky rascals!


[This will only make sense to those of you who have at a moderately extensive knowledge of magic. If you're one of the people that isn't that into magic, and you just come here for the outstanding humor and genius writing, this will be lost on you.]

I've been congested for the past day or two and last night I went to bed and I was just constantly blowing my nose. Blow, blow, blow... the airways feel clear... and then a moment later, more snot. I almost never get sick, so I'm a big baby when I do. And this was annoying the shit out of me. Where is this snot coming from that it can keep coming back after I blow my nose, time and time again?

It was with this thought running through my mind that I eventually fell asleep. When I awoke I found a note that I only half-remembered scribbling down in the middle of the night on a pad on my nightstand where I write down potential ideas (for this site or for other things).

I had written: Snota Bowl.

That's some pretty solid wordplay for 4am. Max Maven would be proud to have come up with it. I mean... he'd be ashamed too, but mostly ashamed of how proud he was.


Question:

Is there any literature on hypnotism that might be beneficial reading for someone who performs, primarily, one on one? That is to say, I'm not really interested in stage hypnotism stuff which seemingly amounts to "I'll pretend to hypnotize you and you pretend to be hypnotized and then we'll do some boring schtick for the audience."

But I'm wondering if there's a book any of you would recommend that might delve into inducing a relaxed or "open" state of mind, or something like that. Something that could then lead into a magic presentation. To that end, it doesn't really need to work. It would be an "Imp" leading to the effect.  I could just make something up, but I was wondering if there is something already established that I could build off of. Let me know.


Show Me Your Wonder Room

The Wonder Room is a broad presentational concept that can be summed up in the idea that you should have some effects on display, which can lead into performances in an organic, human way when you have people visiting.

Obviously not every effect is a candidate for being out in the open where people can look at and potentially handle it. But there are many effects that can withstand total or partial examination that could be used in this context. And as "someone with an interest in magic," it makes sense that you would have some of these curiosities you've come across in a place where people can see them and not just stuffed under your bed or in a closet. 

Reader Gary Einstein sent along these pictures of his Wonder Room (shelves). Presented below with his descriptions. 

He writes:

"I cycle items in and out but at the moment they hold an Astro Ball cabinet, a vintage Kreskin ESP game that I’ve tricked out, a Fogel Treasure Chest, Anverdi Mental Die, a glass tray with an Alice in Wonderland rabbit holding a six of spades, a CW Gift of Time clock, a slew of gaffed books and dictionaries, and a few other surprises."

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"The Premonition deck-switching box with the Aladdin cards, when closed and turned on its edge, is a bookend or is slid between books. Same with the Tommy Wonder card cubes game. 

The Anverdi Key Box I tend to cycle in and out for display with the Anverdi Mental Die box and with the non-electronic Key Box made by Bazar de Magia. Each of these boxes, as well as the Fogel Treasure Chest, house a number of smaller magic items, some of which relate to the box in which they are housed (as per the Kreskin Game). You might also recognize a couple of Richard Himber pieces and a set of Tommy Wonder Wandering Chimes."

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"Here’s a look inside the Kreskin game that I retrofitted with three Promystic MD cubes, a marked Royal ESP deck, and an old U.F. Grant Dial-X that is now a star sign guesser."

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If you have something similar to the Wonder Room concept, I'd be interested in seeing your pictures. To be clear, I have zero interest in seeing pictures of your magic collection. What I'm interested in are pictures of a display that is intended to lure in people and serve as a jumping off point for actually performing for people, as in the pics above and this post.


Magicians are Creeps: Part 755

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... the fuck?

Look, I don't really have an issue with a squirting wand. Maybe there's some context where it could be funny. Really the question I have is... why did we have to bring "pee" into the equation? It couldn't have just been a squirting wand?

I'm guessing whoever put the ad together realized they'd sell more wands if they could get magicians to fantasize about giving the kids they perform for a golden shower. Sex sells, and these guys know their consumers. "A squirting wand? Hmm... no thanks. What's this? A pee wand? So it would be like I'm shooting my own salty lemonade all across those little kids' faces? Get out of my way, erection! I need to order this now!"

Andy, why must you always insist all magicians are perverted creeps?

I'm not saying that.

I'm saying all kid's magicians are.

What better gift for the kid's magician in your life than this? Not the gift of the wand itself, but the gift of plausible deniability. Now the next time they do that trick where you spoon a little kid so you can be their arms during the course of a magic trick...

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...if the magician has an "accident" they can be like, "Gaahhhh!... oops... uhm... that was my squirting wand. I swear! Now go clean yourself up."

The ad says, "All the kids will want you to squirt them."

Suuuurrrrre... let me know how that victim blaming goes for you.

"But your honor, they were begging for it."

[Thanks to Ben Benjamins for sending the ad my way.]


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So You Want to Advertise on the Jerx

Well... you can't. I don't have advertising.

And if I did, you wouldn't pay the price it would cost to advertise here. (A couple years ago I had an advertising consultancy service determine what a fair price would be for a sponsored post written by me, given the readership figures and the level of engagement of readers on this site, and I just know it's more than people would be willing to pay.) 

But the good part about this site is that it has evolved to not need advertising to keep it going. The only advertiser is me. I write up my blog posts here, which sells the books and magazines, which then gives me the time to write more here, which keeps this site going. And so on.

It's the ciirrrrrrrrcle of liiiiiiffffeeee!

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Unsurprisingly, other people want in on the action, so I get a lot of people offering to send me stuff in exchange for me writing about it here. I understand the inclination. There is probably no more captive audience in magic than the people who read this site. But if I just started doing posts on the stuff that was sent to me, then that's all this site would become. And as nice as it is to receive a free ebook or get something in the mail, that would ultimately devalue this site to the readership if that's what I focused on. 

But, I'm the king of win-win situations, and I've come up with something that benefits people with a trick or book to sell and benefits the people who support this site. 

You can't advertise on this site, but you can advertise in X-Comm, the quarterly newsletter that supporters of this site will be receiving starting next month. And you can advertise in that for free. But your advertisement must take the form of something of value for the readers. What do I mean by that?

- If you're selling a book, then your "advertisement" might be in the form of an excerpt from the book. (And not the dumbest thing in your book either. It should be one of the best things in the book. Either way I'm going to say you consider it one of the best things in your book, so if it's a giant turd you're not going to help yourself.)

- If you're selling a trick, then your advertisement might be in the form of some sort of significant discount that is only available for Jerx supporters. 

Those are just a couple of examples. Essentially the deal is: I give you something free (an ad) in return for you giving something of value to this site's subscribers. I'm taking myself out of the equation, I'm just a middle-man between you and the Jerx supporters.

You can email me if you're interested. 

You might say, "But I want a post on the main site where it will get much more traffic." Yes, a post on the main site would reach significantly more people. And if you want to pay for that, that's fine. But what I'm offering is a way for you—with no upfront investment—to reach the non-freeloaders who keep this site running. That's a smaller group. But they're a group that has demonstrated they're willing to pay to support things that they like. These are the people you would be hoping to reach anyway. These are the Glengarry leads.

A Bad Marked Deck (and Why to Make One)

Following up on last week's post on the positive uses of exposure, here is a marked deck I made just for the purpose of exposing it. As I wrote in that post, if you "expose" a crappy marked deck to people, you are going to corrupt their understanding of what a marked deck is. They're going to assume it's something that requires a lot of scrutiny and not the sort of thing where cards can be coded in an easy way or in a way that is discernible from a distance.

Deception in the guise of openness is very powerful and disarming. And it's just fun to do. You come off as sort of a good guy, letting people in on some secrets. But what you're really doing is setting yourself up future success (and even setting up other magicians who may perform for these people in the future). As an amateur magician who performs for audiences consisting of the same people on a semi-regular basis, it makes sense to consider how things play out over the long term, rather than just fooling someone in the brief moment of a trick.

So let's say the subject of marked cards comes up. Occasionally a spectator will bring it up, even in a trick that would in no way benefit from the use of marked cards, just because they don't know enough about magic to bring up anything else. ("That red deck changed to a blue deck!... Does that used marked cards?") So the subject comes up, maybe you transition into it from talking about gambling, or maybe they mention it. Or perhaps you even ask for their help as you're trying to get better at identifying cards in this marked deck you just acquired.

When the topic comes up, I first start by feeding their head with a lot of untruths:

"Marked decks are kind of an urban legend. I mean, they exist, but they're hardly used by any magicians or gamblers."

"Think about it, the only area on the back of a card that is visible in many games is this top left corner of the back of the card."

"So while you can mark a card, you have such limited space to do it in. And you have to do it in a way that isn't obvious. Which means it has to be very small, so it's useless for magic because if they see you staring at the back of a card for any length of time, they'll know what's going on."

If someone talks about a marked deck they saw once where the value and suit were clear...

"Oh, yeah, they make those. But they're essentially gag gifts. You couldn't use them in a trick because anyone who wasn't braindead would spot them. And if you tried using them in a card game you'd get the shit kicked out of you."

"Do you want to see what a real marked deck looks like?" Which the always do. 

And then I present them with a bad marked deck.

Here's the five of hearts. Can you spot the markings?

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Don't bother.

Here is the marking system.

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For Ace through 10, you will fill in the top half or the bottom half of those little triangles with a red marker. For J, Q, K you will blunt the ends of those little curl things.

For clubs, hearts, and spades you will block out the tips of the corresponding thingy at the top. For diamonds you'll leave it blank.

So the five of hearts will look like this...

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I've actually come up with much worse marked decks. Ones that required binary code and even smaller markings and things like that. But if the deck is too ridiculously marked, then it comes off as a joke. You need to come up with something that is next to useless, but not entirely so.

As it is, you might think this is a ridiculous concept to have such tiny markings and that no one would believe it, but I've found it seems to make more sense and is more interesting to people than the actual markings we often use, like the Boris Wild Marked Deck, or something like that. Of course we would want the markings to be almost invisible. For a layperson, that is the logical way for a deck to be marked, not in a way that just anyone can see what the card is.

If someone says, "How does anyone use these in a game?" You just suggest that it's the type of thing someone practices for hours a day for many years until they get to the point where they can read a card in just a few seconds. "Obviously you can't read every card in play from a significant distance. If you could do that, so could everyone else at the table. But if you can get a glimpse of a few cards coming off the deck, or in your opponent's hands, or what the next card on top of the deck is, that can be enough to give you a significant advantage."

Keep in mind, most people have seen ZERO marked decks in their life, they've just heard the term. So, going forward, their idea of what a marked deck is will be heavily influenced by this experience. Which means as long as you're not staring intently at the back of a card, they will generally assume marked cards aren't in play. This can be very helpful given that marked decks are one of the few magic secrets the general public has heard of. And the notion that maybe you created a bad version of a marked deck to taint their understanding of what they are and how they can be used is a level of deviousness I don't think most people will ever consider.

Monica Geller aka The One With the Bent Spoon

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Spoon bending isn't something I've ever done with much regularity. I have a friend who used to perform spoon bending rather frequently. Unfortunately, I corrupted his mind with some of the philosophy I've espoused here and he transitioned to a different style of performing that spoon bending didn't really fit into. It's very hard to fit spoon bending into the type of magic I write about on this site. What I mean by that is, while it usually gets a strong reaction, it's also the epitome of a useless, show-off-y skill. It's hard to make it about much else beyond the awesome power of your mind, which is a presentation that works okay on strangers, but not so much with your friends and family who know how dull your mind actually is.

The presentation that follows makes use of the idea of using exposure as presentation, meta-routining, Peek Backstage style, and confusing the nature of magic methods.


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At the start you mention that you're working on "that old fake psychic trick" of spoon bending. You ask if they'd mind helping you by giving you an outside perspective and you casually mention you'll teach them the basics of how to do it, if they're interested.

In your lap is a significantly bent spoon (your spectator doesn't know about this) and a normal spoon is on the table. Have your friend examine the spoon then take it back from him with your right hand. Draw attention to your left hand for some reason and extend it out to your friend. (Maybe say something about building up a callus on your hand when you first started to learn spoon bending by doing it from brute force.) As you lean in and show your hand, your right hand pulls back and off the table edge and switches its spoon for the bent one in your lap. (It's unlikely you'll get caught doing this because it shouldn't really feel like you've started yet. But it doesn't matter if you do get caught. This is all just part of the set-up. For now, let's assume you don't get caught.)

Hold the bent spoon (that the spectator thinks is still straight) in your right hand so the bend is hidden. Take the spoon between both hands, wait a moment and concentrate, and then show the spoon is bent.

"It's an old Uri Geller trick," you say. Pull out the normal spoon from your lap. "It's a switch. When you're looking at my left hand, I switch the spoon for one I bent at home with some pliers earlier. It requires strong misdirection or it's easy to get caught." (If you actually did get caught doing the switch, then you would just jump to this point in the presentation.) "That's just version 1 of the switch. The other versions are much harder, but also more deceptive. I'll show you. Here's version 4."

You put the bent spoon back in your lap, but as you do, you secretly unbend it. 

Now you take the normal spoon from the table and do any standard spoon bending sequence with it where it bends visibly.

Then you pull the straight spoon from your lap and set it on the table.

"And that would be the fourth version of the switch," you say.

Is this clear what we're going for here?

Step One: You show them a trick and then explain it for real. In so doing, you lead them to believe that spoon bending is done by switching a normal spoon for a bent spoon using misdirection.

Step Two: Now you show them a more "advanced version." Their mind is looking for a switch, but then you perform something that seemingly is not explained by such a switch. You're now fooling them on multiple levels. 

Step Three: So now they're thinking you did something completely different. They assume maybe they misunderstood, and maybe "version 4" is some other method altogether. And while they're coming to that conclusion, you're going to jerk their mind back the other way. They believe it wasn't a switch, but now you casually provide evidence that it was, by removing the now straight spoon from your lap. 

This is going to bring up some questions. How you handle those questions is up to you. Here is how I would deal with them.

Them: Wait... what? You didn't switch it.

Me: Sure I did. Remember, this spoon was straight?

Them: Yeah, I know. I mean, I saw it bend. 

Me: I don't understand. You saw it transition from the straight spoon to the bent spoon, right?

Them: Yes. That's what I mean. When did you switch it?

Me: Between when it was straight and when it bent.

Them: I didn't see the switch.

Me: Oh, well it's not like version 1, where you switch out the whole spoon on a macro level. It's... well, it's hard to explain. But it's a different sort of thing. 

Them: Show me.

Me: Well... I just did. You can't really slow it down. It doesn't work like that. If you want to learn it, I'll send you a book that explains the basics and once you've read that I'll help you learn it.

Then I'd send them a book on quantum physics.

Gardyloo #50

Some final thoughts, for now, on the subject of exposure.

First, let's talk about two groups of losers.

The first group: When the World's Greatest Magic specials were airing, and Mac King was teaching beginner's tricks on either side of the commercial breaks, there were some losers who would write in to the magic magazines (or maybe on some early magic forums) to express their displeasure that Mac had the temerity to teach Alan Thicke how to float a knife against the palm of his hand.

The second group: If you go on youtube and do a little bit of searching you can find losers artlessly exposing the methods behind most every trick you can think of. 

Question: Which of these groups of losers is bigger?

Answer: It's a trick question. They're the same group. Ideologically, at least. They're both of the opinion that the secret is the most valuable part of magic. One group believes they're so valuable that we can't ever let any secrets into the hands of the "layperson." And the other group believes they're so valuable that merely exposing them should be all that's needed to get people to give them some attention.

The truth is, more magic has been ruined by poor performers than by people exposing tricks. Probably 100 times more. But it's kind of easier to say, "Let's boycott the advertisers of the Masked Magician show!" than it is to say, "I should get a lot better at performing and entertaining people with magic."

If you combine the thoughts in Wednesday's post with this post on how to make your magic un-Google-able, and the ideas I've written up in the past weeks on "meta" presentations (which make the nature of the methods a bit more murky) as well as the concept of shifting the magic away from you and your abilities (which goes a long way towards defusing their inclination to "bust" you) then you will be so far ahead of the game to the point where exposure is not really a factor.

And finally, keep this in mind... If you're an amateur, you choose who you'll perform for. Freeze people out if they're just trying to make everything a puzzle to be solved. Cultivate an audience that is more interested in enjoying the experience than trying to search out how things are done on youtube. Exposure is much less of an issue if the people you invite into your performances are comfortable living with the fantasy. 


Why I'll Be Posting Music on this Site in the Future

New content to this site is posted on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Occasionally, on off days (Tuesdays and Thursdays), I will be posting music on this site.

Why? Well, because it's my site and I can do what I like. The music posts won't be replacing the magic posts. They'll be there when there otherwise wouldn't be any post at all. 

Music is a gigantic part of my life. I buy a couple new albums each week (and I sample probably 15-20 more in that time). And I try and see as many live shows as I can. 

I was a consummate mix-tape maker back in the day and I like sharing music. I'm not great at writing about it, so I probably won't say much beyond "I like this." But that's okay. I'm not trying to impress you with my music knowledge, just share some stuff that I'm into. The odds that you will be into it to are... well... probably not great. I don't intentionally seek out obscure stuff, but my taste isn't really in line with what's popular.

I'm a big fan of indie pop, indie rock, garage rock, power pop, jangle pop, bubblegum, psychedelic, punk pop, folk, chamber pop, etc. I'll be posting newer music, mostly, but many of the bands I'm into are heavily influenced by the music of the 60s. I'm a big fan of catchy music with high energy. I like music that is sometimes wild and off the rails. And at the other end of the spectrum, I'm a sucker for intricate, beautiful harmonies and complicated arrangements. Oh, I can't wait to bore you with music talk! (Just skip those posts you whiny bitch.)

And it actually does have something to do with magic because my ideal style of performing is most similar to that of sharing music back in the day. I am perhaps of the last generation where you would invite someone over to listen to a new album. Does that still happen? Do people go over to someone's house and sit around and listen to a new record? Probably not too much. That's too bad because it's such a pleasant type of interaction.

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And it's this dynamic that I want to emulate when I perform magic. That is, it's not me "performing" for you with my awesome talent. It's me saying, "Hey, come over. I have this thing I want to share with you," and then us experiencing it together. (Those of you who will be getting MFYL will find a routine that is almost 100% mapped onto the "come over and listen to a record" experience, but with magic instead of music.)

Here's a song by Pacific Radio that was one of my favorites of 2017. It's from their album Pretty, But Killing Me. The video is pretty clever. What do you do when you're a small band without a ton of money for a video? Well, go shoot it in West Hollywood on Halloween and now you've got a ton of costumed extras for no money at all.


My friend is putting together a seance style show and I was helping him research some different effects. He was looking at this effect by Tim Wisseman called Dead Rap.  It's a remote-controlled device to create rapping sounds. Not the Biz Markie kind, the "at my chamber door" kind.

We were curious what object the device was hidden in and then we came across this post from Paul Gross, the owner of Hocus-Pocus magic on the Magic Cafe.

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There has been some questions as to how the Dead Rap device is hidden. I'll give you a clue. It's hidden in something that you would find in a "library". 

We thought that was great. Hiding the device in a book is ideal camouflage. Books are fairly innocent objects that would not look out of place in almost any performance environment.

So we ordered it and got the package a couple weeks later and were surprised by the size of the box.

We opened it up and that's when we realized...

It's hidden in a goddamn microfiche machine!

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(But seriously, though, if you want to let us know something is hidden in a book, just say it's hidden in a book. Saying, "It's hidden in something that you would find in a library," is moronic. You're not being circumspect. It's not like you're concealing what you're saying from any non-magician that might stumble upon that post. "Something you would find in a library? Hmmm...what could that possibly mean?... A librarian?!?! Did they make some poor librarian keister their knocking gimmick?")


I like these combination shadow/illustrations. I think there's probably a magic trick to be found in here as well.