Archive for the 'card magic' Category

NEW podcast Series – Thoughts on Erdnase

Check THIS out:

This is my very first podcast. I recorded this with my good friends Alex Slemmer and Steve Johnson. We did it at Steve’s store, my favorite magic shop on the west coast – Grand Illusions. If you’re ever up in the Sacramento area, make sure to stop by and say hello.

If you’re in the area, make sure to come to my lecture at Grand Illusions on March 19 – I’ll be  signing copies of my new DVD, Search & Destroy featuring The Nowhere Pass.

After you listen to the podcast, post a comment with your thoughts! I’d love to read them.

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Secret Weapon & Search and Destroy DVD ask your questions here!

Click here to watch the new trailer for The Secret Weapon.

I launched the new Aaronfishermagic site this morning, and the response was positive. So positive, in fact that happy card men (like YOU!) overloaded the server this afternoon. For a little while, the new videos weren’t playing and pages weren’t loading. Thankfully, all that’s over now.

The cause of all the ruckus was the unveiling of trailers for my two new products. Both of these babies will be released on March 17th, but today, you got the first peak.

Search and Destroy featuring The Nowhere Pass

Click here to watch the preview for Search and Destroy featuring The Nowhere Pass

What do YOU think? Drop a comment or question here.

After you watch the trailers, drop me a comment to let me know what you think. This is also a good place to ask questions about the product. Then check back on this post over the coming days and read the answers.

Thanks again for your visit, and for making the launch of the new aaronfishermagic.com such a success!

Help with Sleights

Reader Kim McCastle just sent me an excellent question. Here it is, followed by my response.

The Question

“Aaron I am reading Paper Engine with great interest.  I now have workable solutions for the pass which I always found difficult.  So thanks very much.  I was interested in your opinion of where I might find a description of a really great top change.  Sorry this seems so basic but I’m working my way back into close up after many years out of magic.”

 

The Answer

What a great question! First, I’ll give the basic answer – then I’ll talk about the issues that really matter in the study of the top change.

I personally use the excellent method described by David Williamson in his book Williamson’s Wonders. Close-up workers regard this volume very highly, but frankly, it’s still underrated. Dave’s book is a modern classic, and a must have resource for any serious sleight-of-hand performer. ‘51 cards to pocket’ has been a staple of my repertoire for over a decade and provided the inspiration for my own highly visual effect Panic

williamson

Dave Willamson

 

What Really Counts

The top change gives  sleight of hand students a very hard time. No matter how well you execute any top change technique, you will never learn this move in front of a mirror. This is one sleight you simply have to perform.

The top change bears a great resemblance to it’s cousin, the shift for several reasons:

  • Both sleights require strong misdirection built into the routine to ensure success.
  • These moves have no ‘built in’ cover. The double lift, for example, is performed during the action of turning over the top card of the deck. The turnover pass happens as you turn the deck over. Both the top change and the classic or half passes take place with no such open action to cloak them.
  • Students of both sleights tend to pursue ‘unseeable’ handlings, and in the process, run into trouble. While both of these techniques can be performed invisibly, neither of them can be used effectively unless the performer mastered the requisite timing, focus and misdirection.

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Mandy Davis and Me and some annoying magician at the IBM/SAM combined convention a few months back in Kentucky.

 

The Real Secret of the Top Change

When you see a master card magician execute a beautiful top change in performance, it’s seems impossible – truly magical. There’s nothing to see, and seemingly no cover or misdirection. That, my friends, is the effect. Simply put, it’s an illusion.

The truth is that anyone can learn to have this facility. But if you are in your first couple years with the sleight, and you try to cover it with a casual glint, prepare for disappointment. That sort of mastery takes years to acquire.

In the meantime, you can experience success with these sleights if you structure routines with strong ‘built in’ misdirection to cover the change. At the moment you make the switch your spectator should be actively involved in some action – revealing another card, or picking up a wand.

Using the sleight in such a calculated fashion will help you learn how to direct the audience and command focus. Once you have real confidence in these important areas, you’ll notice a change in your powers. You’ll have confidence in the sleight’s deceptiveness and in your own ability to cover it. Before you know it, you’ll find you can merely turn your head, and in that action, cover just about any sleight with attention to spare.

Your Turn

We all find in our studies that some techniques come easier than others. What sleights have frustrated YOU? Tell  us your story – I’d love to read it and so would your fellow readers!

Gas Blues Got You Down? Welcome to Magic MetaCamp!

Here’s a candid photo of my friend Lee Asher last year at camp. As it turns out, he wasn’t in on EVERY prank after all….

Lee Asher - looks like he can be fooled after all.

Lee Asher Takes The Cake

Photo by Carey Lauder

It’s summer time, and as many readers already know, that means it’s time for camp. The Sorcerer’s Safari summer camp, about an hour north of Toronto, remains hands down the best program for kids who want serious magic education and a real summer camp experience at the same time. If you don’t know about Magic Mike and his world renowned camp, check it out now.

Let’s get down to business

While I love the classes, activities and shows we put on at Sorcerer’s Safari, I have to say my favorite activity at camp is Swim Time. I hang out under a shady tree while the more socially adjusted kids splash each other. Some kids swim. Others get to the practice of practice. Swim time is when the ‘real work’ goes down.

Campers bring their copies of Erdnase out (got to love it!) and we talk about the stuff that real sleight of hand is made of.

So for those of you who are too old to be campers (not sure I buy that premise), this is your lucky month. Post your questions about card magic, technique and the performance of sleight of hand – I’ll read all your comments, and devote blog posts to answering as many of your fascinating questions as I can.

Make ’em concise, good and thoughtful. That way, everyone will want to read the answer to your question!

With Thanks,

Aaron

Watch The Gravity Half Pass Video!

In the 6 years since the publication of the Gravity Half Pass in The Paper Engine, many workers have added the sleight to their repertoires. Further, I’ve met guys who said their own ability with the move improved greatly after watching me do the sleight in person.

After all, when you’re in the midst of serious sleight of hand study, and can be very helpful to actually see the move in action.

If you have The Paper Engine, these short clips will help you practice. With a little patience, you can achieve similar results. This sleight can be immediate, soft and all but angle proof. It looks like real magic.

Now check it out from the front!

Now that you’ve had a chance to see the move, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Does this demonstration give you a feel for how the move should really look? Drop a comment and let me know!

With Thanks,

Aaron

P.S. If you want to find out what more readers have to say about The Paper Engine, click to read the comments here.

Strike Change: This will Help you Palm Cards

FISM 2003As many of you know, the One-on-One section of Theory11.com site offers inexpensive downloads from myself, Lee Asher and other talented magicians. I recently released my Strike Change, which originally appeared in my FISM 2003 booklet. There are many visual pieces of magic in that volume. If you haven’t seen it yet, I suggest you take a look. If you like the Strike Change, the magic in the FISM notes will make you VERY happy. End Plug.

Even if you don’t have the Strike Change download, you will find this post helpful. Click the Strike Change link, and then find Strike Change on the One on One menu. Watch it to see what we’re talking about, then join the conversation!

On Palming Cards: Do you have ‘windows’ ?

I received an email today from someone working on the Strike Change. He’s experiencing a common problem – when he holds his fingers together, small gaps remains between them. Here’s what I wrote to him.

Regarding the spaces between your fingers, it sounds like you have ‘windows’. The good news is this is a common problem. It can almost always be solved. It just takes time – and a little effort.

The question is this:

Can you hold your fingers together in a way that shuts the windows?

You may find that you CAN get rid of the windows, but it causes tension, or pain, to do so. That’s great news – it means you’ll ultimately be able to palm cards beautifully and invisibly.

You indicated in your email that the windows only appear when you relax your grip. That means you CAN hold your fingers together – just not in a way you’re comfortable with. That means you just need practice. Just stick with it. Eventually, you’ll be able to hold your your fingers together without strain.

grip-saver_open_close

Serious tip: Consider getting a hand exercise squeeze toy.When your hands are stronger, you won’t need to relax your grip to eliminate tension. Get something like this.

What if I STILL can’t close the windows?

You may be in the small group of card men that truly can’t shut their windows. Have no fear. You’ll still be able to palm cards deceptively. The audience will never STARE at your hands, ideally, when cards are palmed. They won’t be thinking about windows. Neither should you.

Back in the days of magic stores, magicians often discovered the concept of ‘psychological invisibility’ in much the same way. The young magician buys a thumb tip. He goes home, practices for a few minutes, and sees that it his new trick will NEVER be successful. He goes back to the store and complains. The wise demo man behind the counter offers to show the young magician another trick. He makes a silk disappear. He shows his hands unmistakably empty. The kid freaks out. He begs to know the secret. The demo man slowly moves to his hand, which has never left view, and removes his thumb tip. The youngster sees the light.

Sometimes we need invisible means. But many times, we use methods that are psychologically invisible. One of the great card men of the last century, Max Malini, was known to have hands so small he could only conceal half a card. But his reputation for palming was unmatched in all the world.

You have the advantage

If you have small hands or unusually thin fingers, or even rough or indelicate looking hands, they work in your favor. No one will ever suspect hands like that of concealing cards. Malini was a great palmer, but why do we consider him the best? Because his hands were so small. His spectators never suspected him.

With regard to color changes like the Strike Change or the side-steal, your windows will not stop you. If you palm the cards naturally and comfortable at your side, the spectator will only focus on the hand only as it comes over the deck to deposit it’s card on the face. The the audience, the card will seem to change before you spread your fingers. Why fight it? To the spectator, the windows make the change look better!

Your Turn

If you’re working on the Strike Change, or any of my other One on One downloads, I want you to succeed. If you have any questions, make them as specific as you can, and send them to me. I’ll answer them in a further blog post!

Are you a card man? This will improve your show.

Posh Bangers

England: Home of the Posh Banger.

Where HAVE I been?

Thanks for asking. It’s been a super exciting start to the year. The last month brought England, a convention, a lecture tour, corporate events in Las Vegas, bar magic, and a week on the main stage at The Magic Castle. WHEW!

And it was great! I got to work in so many different ways for so many different types of crowds. It keeps you awake, thinking and growing. It gives you good stuff to blog about.

Real card magic is physical

No matter how many passes you can do, or how many coins you can palm, the most important magic tool you can learn to use is your own body. That’s one reason so many authors have written about the value of theatrical training for magicians.

Here are just a few of the incredibly valuable skills you’ll acquire if you choose to study our parent art form- the theatre.

Vocal Training

If your audience either can’t hear you or has problems understanding your words, even the most beautiful presentation will fail. Especially if you have some regional dialect people regularly comment on, talk to theatre professionals in your area and get their opinion.

Your native dialect isn’t necessarily a bad thing. You may perform as a river boat gambler and your voice may suit the role perfectly. But what if you live in a place where a truly authentic dialect can only be understood by your immediate family? Unfortunately, many strong dialects only confuse the audience. Be honest with yourself, and your magic will benefit.

A great book to help you explore this topic is here. Take a look at it and read the reviews. It changed my life, but it’s only for those who are ready to get serious.

AARON-003

Movement Training

I’ll say it again. The performance of magic is a physical activity performed primarily with your body. Whether you work on stage or as a walk-around entertainer, learning to use your body effectively will profoundly change your approach to magic as well as the results.

In fact, any work you do with your body, either at the gym or outside, can greatly aid your performance process. Look for a separate post on this topic later this week.

Acting Training

For all the talk since Houdin of magicians being ‘actors playing the parts of magicians’, the truth is, most of us spend our time learning how to honestly and accurately play the one role we will ever take. We strive to play ourselves, as accurately and honestly and compellingly as we can.

Basic acting training can really help you here. Don’t worry about the trappings – fancy accents and weird physicality helps advanced actors create vibrant, believable illusions. But you won’t need much of that to accomplish your immediate goal.

Focus on the truth of the moment on stage. Learn how to stand still under hot lights without worrying about ‘entertaining’ the audience. You’ll develop the ability, with help from your professor, to respond honestly and spontaneously to what the other characters give you to work with. Through this process, you’ll develop a taste for authenticity – a need to express yourself truthfully on stage. You’ll begin to truly understand why so many performers fail to grab your heart – and why others win you over immediately.

Once you really begin to learn these lessons, the audience will give you positive feedback – you’ll see the difference yourself, and fast. And it won’t be the private victory you celebrate when you master a long sought for sleight-of-hand technique. The entire audience will know how much you’ve improved.

Your turn: What do YOU think?

I’d love for you to send me some comments on this post. Perhaps you’ve had a class like this, and you want everyone to know how much it helped you. Perhaps you’ve thought about taking a class but didn’t go through with it. Why not?

Or maybe you really just want this blog to talk more about card tricks – I’d love to hear about that too. This blog is about how my experiences can help you become a better performing card man. Let me know if it’s working.

Thanks for reading!

Aaron