• A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.

    Edward de Bono

    One of my favorite activities lately has been attending magic shows with laymen friends. I get to pick up a few new performance ideas and get my finger on the pulse of the art as it’s actually being performed (as opposed to what’s being pushed by magic retailers and in Facebook groups) and I also get to vicariously enjoy that feeling of astonishment by seeing my friends react to what’s happening.

    But since they are my friends, I can then directly solicit their opinions for an outside perspective on magic and hopefully attenuate my judgement of what works, what kills, and what falls flat. What good are theory tomes written by magicians if they aren’t backed up by at least some empirical data. I’m “doing my own research” as a person who insists on building and launching his own rocket to take pictures before accepting the Earth is round might say.

    You might be able to guess what I’ve been asking about lately given the content of my last post. I want to get a grasp of what aspects of a magical performance are memorable. What sticks with the audience one week, one month, one year after the fact? Having decided what sorts of things we want to be remembered, how can we make sure that they stick in memory as long as possible?

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  • Spectators as Mirrors

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    I met one of my best friends in person for the first time in 5 years. I flew to the country where he was living just to meet him. That first evening, he introduced me to a large group of his friends in his apartment. After he hyped up my card skills, they asked me to perform. I went straight into the ambitious card routine.

    The reactions were great, but something in me felt ashamed. My friend was also watching me perform in person for the first time in 5 years. I felt I was boring him, or disappointing him by doing the ACR yet again. He didn’t act bored or disappointed, but I couldn’t help but think: In the time he hadn’t seen me, I was supposedly learning, practicing and studying magic. “My 5 years of development still left me performing the ACR?” I thought. “In all that time with all that new magic I learned, shouldn’t I have learned something even more incredible than a simple ACR by now?”

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  • No One Is Keeping Your Souvenirs

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    Everyone wants to be remembered, but the human memory is notoriously fallible. No one is going to remember exactly everything that took place in your performance next week or next month, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have any influence at all over what is remembered. Rather than jump immediately into every possible aspect of memorability right away, let’s suppose that there is just one big effect that you want someone to stick in someone’s mind.

    It’s a pretty standard doctrine by now that it’s a good idea for your act to produce something tangible that your audience can physically carry away with them. And doing so can produce a number of benefits if it’s done correctly.

    Giving away a signed card at the end of an ACR isn’t going to cut it. It’s just a normal playing card with some writing on it. Who needs that? It’s going to go straight in the trash when the recipient arrives home.

    What about an object that visually tells a story about the impossible way in which it was produced? Something like the card with the shadow of a missing pip from Jay Sankey’s Reconstruction?

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  • This post will feature things about the Internet and the iPhone. If you don’t care about smartphone magic, we have a post about physical souvenirs coming up.


    You may have noticed (if you’re the sort to use RSS feeds) that our RSS button has been completely broken for months. Rather than a ploy to get you to subscribe via email, this was merely a fearsome amount of oversight on our part. You can now subscribe via RSS again.


    iOS 18 is coming in the fall, and with it some useful changes to the Calculator app. Especially useful, in my opinion, is the calculation history feature. Anyone who has tried to use their iPhone calculator for something involving more than a couple terms should agree.

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  • The magic community recently suffered a significant blow with the devastating fire at Vanishing Inc.’s warehouse. As many of you know, Vanishing Inc. is not just a magic shop; it’s a cornerstone of our community, providing magicians worldwide with the tools and resources they need to create wonder and astonishment. The fire resulted in the total loss of everything stored in the warehouse, including some irreplaceable artifacts from the history of magic. This tragedy is a stark reminder of the vulnerability of our shared heritage.

    First and foremost, our thoughts and heartfelt sympathies go out to Vanishing Inc. and everyone affected by this disaster. We hope for a swift recovery and are confident that Vanishing Inc. will rise from the ashes, stronger and more resilient. The magic community is nothing if not supportive, and we stand ready to assist in any way we can during this difficult time.

    It's clear that there is a real need for one or more museums of magic, owned and operated by charitable trusts rather than private entities.
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  • We ran out of crows, so if you were hoping for a picture of four crows you’ll have to resort to Google Images. Sorry.


    Someone chimed in to let us know about credits for a subtlety described in the post The Stripper Fakes A Breather.

    I’m a fan of planned spontaneity, and I like this post! It’s something I didn’t know about so I’ll be sure to try it in my hands. Strategically placing the deck against the box for them to cut a specific way is a subtlety from Barrie Richardson’s Theater of the Mind. Worth mentioning! -DJ

    It’s absolutely worth mentioning, and I can’t thank you enough for bringing it to my attention! It’s very possible that my usage originated from that book. I’ve certainly never read it, but I can’t remember if I learned that subtlety from someone else or if it was an independent creation, so it’s definitely plausible that I picked it up from someone who picked it up from Theater of the Mind.

    If you ever read something here that seems like it could use some crediting, please don’t hesitate to let us know. It’s never intentional that we write about something that someone else has previously written up, but it’s unavoidable that it will happen. The post has been updated accordingly.

    Definitely try it out in your hands plenty and get a feel for how reliable it might be if you’re going to try this with a participant. This is pretty experimental, it’s just something I’ve been doing.


    Next, we have an email about Stop Using the Same Damn Decks.

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  • The Stripper Fakes A Breather

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    “Pick a card, any card.”

    She does just that. I move the deck from one hand to the other, rotating it 180 degrees as I do so.

    “Put it back, and give these a shuffle.”

    She does, and gives the deck an overhand shuffle like she always does.

    “Set the cards down now, and give them a cut. Alright, so let me give them a shuffle, and… shit. Did I leave an ad card in?”

    “Yeah, I saw it,” she says. “I thought it was on purpose.”

    “Ok, hang on. Or actually, should I take it out with magic? How impressive would it be if I could find the ad card right away?”

    “I mean… it has ads on both sides…”

    “You’re right. Here,” I say, and set the deck down on the countertop. “Cut off about half the deck.”

    She picks up half the deck.

    “Turn it over?”

    She does, and screams in delight. There’s the ad card, staring her right in the face.

    “Thanks for getting rid of that for me,” I say, and pluck the ad card away before continuing with my effect.

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  • Prisoners Passing the Pat Downs

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    The vanishing red silk is a classic effect in magic. We’ve all been giddy after getting away with using that ugly plastic thumb for the first time. (Try reading that sentence out loud and out of context.)

    This presentation gets rid of the silk and justifies the vanish of the item, the item itself, and its reappearance. If you have the thumb tip on you, you can get into this practically anywhere and anytime without also carrying around a silk. The times that I’ve performed this presentation, I’ve received pretty great reactions. I also found it easy to get into.

    Let’s imagine that while fiddling with a small Post-it note (keep in mind, this could be a tissue, piece of paper, or anything you could write a note on) you start to tell your friend some bullshit.

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  • I’ve always enjoyed the psychological force of a carrot over the other forces Banachek has written about. The carrot force in its basic form is described in his Psychological Subtleties 1. What I’ve always liked about it in particular is that a carrot does not appear to be the classic archetype of a vegetable. 

    What I mean by this is that even in hindsight a carrot doesn’t seem to be the obvious choice for a vegetable. For instance, a rose for “name a long-stemmed flower” is obvious. As for vegetables, they are heavily associated with the color green, and most people would probably imagine lettuce or spinach being the primary choices. Yet when asked to think of a vegetable, carrot pops up over and over again. It’s extremely psychologically potent. 

    The reason why the carrot force is so potent? I’m not too sure. I tried to do some digging on the subject.

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  • Taking a Peek to the Cinemas

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    I want to tell you a handy ruse that will get you a key card under intense heat. It’s motivated, and seems to serve the purpose of making the demonstration even more fair. I came up with it on the spot when I was under pressure. Before we get into the ruse itself, here’s the background.

    Within the last couple years, I was brought on a trip to Las Vegas by a longtime family friend. I’d known this family friend throughout my entire childhood, he was like a father to me. Our families would have weekly dinners where we would play cards. Those dinners took place before I started magic. When I became a magician, I took advantage of those card nights and tried to show him something every single week. It got to the point where he would look forward more to the card trick than the actual dinner. He wasn’t just a nice spectator, though. He would call you out the moment he caught something. If he said he was fooled, he was truly fooled.

    Let’s call this family friend Selleck. Selleck loved card tricks. He would appreciate all the traditionally “boring” card trick plots that we would avoid. For example, during an ACAAN performance, he would stare intently as each card was dealt. For math tricks that would typically make you forget why you even exist he would play along wholeheartedly. He’s the type of guy that would lose sleep over a card trick you’d show him. He’d shrug off his wife attempting to continue the evening with words like “but the fucker didn’t touch the cards…”

    He promised he’d take me to Vegas to see Penn and Teller on my 19th birthday. When that birthday finally rolled around, he never mentioned anything, and I didn’t bring it up. Fast forward to my 25th birthday. He came up to me and says “Hey, we’re making that Vegas thing happen.” It was a fantastic surprise. This story took place at the airport, waiting for the first flight out from [DREW’S LOCATION HERE].

    As usual, he requested to see a trick. He took my deck, gave it a quick overhand, and then I turned away. While I was turned away, I instructed him to take a card out of the middle of the deck and keep it to his chest. I told him to have a tiny peek of the card that was on his chest and slap it onto the deck. Once he did so, I told him to cut the cards and shuffle the deck.

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