Progenitors - The Tracker

Sometimes I have a pretty good idea for a trick but it morphs into something very different and I never end up returning to that potentially good idea for whatever reason. Most often they slip from my mind entirely, but when I remember one I’ll try and throw it up here for people who may want to run with it.

One of my favorite tricks in Magic For Young Lovers is called In Search of the Castaways.


It’s an effect that’s a real earthquake of entertainment. In essence it’s a ring to impossible location, but it veers off in an interesting way.

That effect was born out of a coin trick that I had been thinking about.

I’ve often said that long, multi-phase card routines are like a massage. In the moment they can be very rewarding, but people don’t really remember the details for very long after (unless you construct a trick that is something more than just impossible). At best you sort of want them to look back on the thing fondly as a whole.

Multi-phase coin tricks are even worse. There can be so much going on that people barely retain anything that happened 10 seconds earlier. Usually, I’ve found the best course of action is to simplify the trick down to one moment. One coin disappears. One coin changes. Or whatever.

But often you’ll want to blow that out a little so the whole thing isn’t over in just a moment.

My idea was that I would maybe teach them a rudimentary coin vanish, then explain how that’s just sleight of hand, which is sort of a “beginners” method for magic. And then I’d show them a more “advanced” version where the coin is truly gone at the end.

“So,” I’d say, “I learned that from an older magician. And one of the things about developing these relationships in magic with people who know more than you is that you’re just not supposed to question things. That’s like a sign of disrespect or whatever. But even though he taught me how to vanish small objects. He never told me where they go. Maybe he didn’t even know, but the question sort of ate at me.

“So I decided to find out. And that’s where it got really weird. Want to see?”

Now this is an intriguing premise regardless of how much they buy into it.

I would then pull out one of those Tile tracking devices. These are small, square objects that you attach to your keys or whatever and you can track their location via your phone. So if you lose your keys you can turn on your phone and use the app to find where they are.

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The idea would be that I’d show the Tile and turn on the app to demonstrate how it locates the device and shows it’s in my house. Then I’d vanish it (it’s coin-esque in size, if not shape). Then I’d be like, “Now, here’s the weird shit,” and I’d turn on the app to locate the tracker and we’d find that it’s… I’m not sure where. Maybe it would indicate an address across the country where the guy who taught me to vanish objects lives. (“Is he hoarding the coins and stuff? Is that why he taught me how to vanish money in the first place? That seems like a needlessly elaborate way to make a few bucks.”) Or maybe it would show some random spot in the middle of the ocean. Or it’s three billion miles away orbiting Neptune. Or somehow indicate it’s suspended in some other dimension.

I don’t really know what would go over best, because I never got a chance to test. Primarily because it morphed into the Castaways trick which is an idea I like more. But also because this isn’t quite how those Tile devices work. They’re not really GPS devices. They operate via Bluetooth so they can only tell you where you lost item is if you’re within 100 feet or so.

Now, if you’re more motivated than me, what you could do is make up some fake GPS tracking devices, similar to the Tile. They wouldn’t need to have any actual functionality. You could make a shell for them too, which would give you even more options. Then create a simple fake app or website where you could feed into it the locations you want it to spit out when queried later. But you’d have to be pretty motivated to do that.

I think there’s a lot that could be done with these small location devices. Even if you are just vanishing them and then finding them somewhere else in the house, that could possibly be interesting. Or you could secretly set-up by attaching one to your keys and putting them in some particular spot in your house. Now force that spot with the DFB app or something similar. Then present it as an upgraded piece of technology. It doesn’t find your key where it is, it puts it in a location you select.