Hey-o, I’m back, and as adequate as ever.
The past week wasn’t a vacation. I was putting the finishing touches on Book #2 and writing the next issue of the X-Comm newsletter, which Year 3 supporters will receive later today.
I was also doing some preparation for the next round of focus group testing. Specifically the testing we’re going to do on controls. I was practicing some of the questions we’re going to ask on some non-magician friends, just to make sure things were clear.
I first explained the idea of controls to them in the most basic way. I wanted to see if this is something that laypeople already have an understanding of. Most non-magicians know about forcing a card, but do they understand controls too? So I explained how when you choose a card and it’s returned to the deck, the magician may shuffle it and mix the cards, but it’s possible he still knows where the card is or has controlled it to a specific position. Each of the four people I talked with this about were like, “Yeah, of course.” (And they were all asked this separately, not together.) They didn’t know the term “control,” but the concept was innately understood.
I guess that should have been obvious to me, but I felt I needed to ask anyway.
But here’s why I’m mentioning this. I told them I wanted to show them some ways a card could be returned and lost in the deck. “Some of these are controls, and some aren’t,” I told them. I lied. They were all controls. But with two of the ones I showed them, they were 100% convinced they were not controls. They even laughed at the question, “Do you think I controlled your card that time?”
If that trend holds up when we do the full testing, you’re going to have at least two controls that you can be fully confident are truly fooling. They might not be appropriate for every situation due to some constraints, but you should probably be able to work one or the other into many or most tricks.
The even better news is that they’re both easy.
We’re not doing the testing until the end of November, and I won’t have the write-up on it until well after that, but it’s something to look forward to.
From the Failure Files: Hair Raising
I once thought about making another blog that just talked about all the stuff I’ve tried that didn’t end up working, then I realized that was a dumb idea. But I’ll occasionally post some things that didn’t work here. Maybe you’ll come up with an idea that does work based one of my failed attempts
This idea involved having someone with long hair push all her hair behind her shoulders, and then pinch a small bit of hair near the front of her scalp and pull it forward so it lay down the front of her chest. So, imagine the blue line here was a small “rat tail” of hair strands.
My thought was I could make the hair levitate using a loop. It’s not the most clever idea I’ve ever had, but I thought it would be an eerily intimate trick because it affected part of the person’s body.
When I first tried it with someone, her hair kind of splayed out along the length of the loop, giving away that something horizontal was lifting it up.
The next two times I tried it, I had them tie a loose knot in their hair, to keep it as one unit. That solved the spreading problem, but both women said I must be using their own hair to make the hair rise. Like they thought I had just snagged a piece of hair and was somehow using that to pull up the rest of their hair. And I couldn’t very well say, “No, no, I’m not using your own hair” because if they reached up to check, they would have found I was using something that might as well have been their own hair.
So that idea is on the scrapheap for now.
Some friends of the site have some recent or upcoming accomplishments that I want to acknowledge.
Justin Flom has a new book of magic for kids coming out on November 13th. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m sure it’s good. It’s not out for another few weeks, but as I write this post, it’s the #2 current best seller in Children’s Magic books on Amazon. Understandably behind the greatest magic book of our time.
Around the holidays I always get a couple friends asking me what book they should get for their kid about magic. I always just go with the most recent one that’s by someone I know is talented. Kids are drawn to the things that feel of their time. They’re not going to connect to some decrepit old tome talking about thimble magic and foulards. So this year I’m sure I’ll recommend Justin’s book and probably give away a couple copies myself.
My pal, Toby Halbrooks, is a producer on The Old Man & The Gun, which opens today. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’ll be checking it out out next week. It’s getting great reviews.
They’re saying it’s going to be Robert Redford’s last film, but that’s a lie. He and I are working on a remake of the Fat Boys’ movie, Disorderlies.
And, as I’m thinking of people who won’t get that last reference, I’m reminded of our darling friend, Alice, who was the JAMM Muse for April 2017, where she posed as Dan Harlan.
Now, I tell every model I meet: “Take your modeling cues from the poses of Dan Harlan. That guy is sexuality personified.”
Well, Alice had the good sense to listen, and now she’s working with Playboy. You can check her out here.
You know I’ll post any video of someone destroying The Expert at the Card Table. This time a dog got in on the act. I guess he was all done licking up a puddle of his own shit and vomit and figured this couldn’t be any worse.
Here’s a fun game you can play. Almost every day, Penguin Magic sends out an email promoting some product, old or new. And the subject line is always some quote about the product. Whenever I get one of these emails, I like to pretend that they’re from a plastic surgeon who specializes in penile enlargement surgery, and these quotes are from his patients. And now that I’ve told you about it, you’re going to do it in your head whenever you get one of those emails too. So now you’re stuck with it. Sure, it doesn’t always work. But it’s good for a laugh now and then as long as you’re not some sad sack of shit who takes no joy from life. See the examples below.
Check out these quotes from the satisfied customers of award winning plastic surgeon, Dr. Altinsel’s penile enlargement surgery.
"I will use this wherever I go. I love it, love it, love it." -Ira Gurewitz
"Exceeds expectations. GREAT reactions." -Mitchell Rushing
"People started screaming and yelling" -James Wesley
"Dare I say...perfect" -Reynold Fuentes
"AMAZING. I will be using it for sure!" -Romanos
"It surprised me. It also fooled me." -Max Maven
"Turns adults into children." -Rick Lax
"I will use this for the rest of my life." -Steve Haynes
"A dream come true. I'd have paid triple the price." -Reza Mikhaeil
“A whole new spin on a classic" -Rick Lax
"This is the best I have to offer." -Richard Osterlind