A Lovely Cardboard Illusion

Here is a lovely DIY illusion which I came across recently over at Magic Center Harri.* It cost me a mere 5 Euros, and I had some fun assembling the pieces (it only takes some cutting and glueing). When you turn the cardboard wheel on the right with your fingers, the right arm holding the top hat comes down on the rabbit, moves up again, and–poof!–the rabbit is gone.

Obviously, this trick is not precision-made from wood or metal, but with a slight bend here and there the cardboard mechanics work pretty accurately. This little illusion will make a nice display on my magic bookshelf. Oh, and I love the way the rabbit is looking up towards calamity!

*This post might be considered as advertising, but if so, it was unpaid and unsolicited. I bought the prop and enjoyed it, so for me this is news from the magic & art department and sort of a mini review.

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Ermittlungen gegen Hocus Pocus Junior eingeleitet

Der britische Magic Shircle macht weiter Ernst in seinem rastlosen Kampf gegen Geheimnisverrat, den ja einst auch schon David Devant hart zu spüren bekam. Posthum wurde nun ein Disziplinarverfahren gegen Hocus Pocus Junior eingeleitet, Autor des frühen Zauberbuches The Anatomie of Legerdemain or, the Art of Jugling von 1634.

„Es führt ein direkter Weg von diesem beklagenswerten Pamphlet zu den neuzeitlichen Trickenthüllungen von Penn & Teller, dem Maskierten Magier und anderen perfiden Trittbrettfahrern in den sogenannten sozialen Medien“, erläutert der Generalsekretär des Zirkels, Pomfrey Lettuce-Judge, in einer Pressemitteilung. „Als besonders verwerflich bewerten wir, dass bereits auf dem Frontispiz des Buches ein wichtiges Trickprinzip des Becherspiels offengelegt wird – der vermutlich älteste gedruckte Trickverrat der Geschichte, und das an überaus prominenter Stelle!“ (siehe Abbildung).

Lettuce-Judge räumt jedoch ein, dass der Zirkel den derzeitigen Aufenthaltsort des längst verstorbenen Beschuldigten nicht kenne, weshalb sich eine Zustellung der Verfahrensunterlagen bislang eher schwierig gestalte. „Aber einige unsere besten Mentalisten arbeiten bereits daran“, verspricht der Sekretär.


Zwei magische Aufmerksamkeitstests / Two Magic Tests of Attention

Bist du aufmerksamer als ein Hund? Schau genau hin, wie der junge Mentalist Timon Krause versucht, seinen Hund mit Fingerfertigkeit zu täuschen und zähle mit, wie oft du richtig liegst! Du wirst sicher staunen…

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Young mentalist Timon Krause will try to fool his dog with sleight of hand with dog biscuits. Are you smarter than the dog? Then watch closely and count your hits and misses! You may be in for a surprise… (You don’t have to understand German to enjoy this test. Just keep watching, it’s short and it’s sweet!)

And here is an older experiment by Radalou. Try to remember the cards as quickly as you can and see some change! (Again, you don’t have to understand German to enjoy this test. Just keep watching.)

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Und hier ein älteres Experiment von Radalou. Versuche dir die Karten möglichst schnell zu merken und staune über die Veränderungen!

Gender-Neutral Playing Cards: Correct or Crazy?

Let’s be very clear from the beginning: Gender inequality obviously is and remains a big challenge, both in business and other areas of life. But do we really need “a set of gender and race-neutral playing cards, … a neutral alternative and a ranking which is accepted around the world … so everyone can feel comfortable while playing cards,” as promoted by this determined young lady who was brought to my attention via the Genii Forum?

So she proposes to kick out all the white supremacist unequal Jacks, Queens, and Kings and replace them with this neutral trinity of Gold, Silver, and Bronze:

Apart from the rather ugly design (in my totally biased old white magic fart opinion), which I would not want to see pass before my eyes every day when shuffling a deck, I wonder whether this suggestion is maybe a solution for a problem that does not really exist in this very specific context?

Besides, I always cringe when major challenges are poo-pood down into symbolic actions, catchy headlines, or marketable items. Which reminds me of the ulcer of “political correctness” in the late 80s/early 90s, I believe, when it was considered super correct and fashionable in enlightened circles, for example, to stop calling small people “dwarfs” or “midgets” and promote them to “vertically challenged!” (I always thought of this as a cruel joke. Your mileage may vary.)

But okay, let’s pick up this challenge and take it one step further or two! Let’s not stop halfway to full equality, okay? So what about those white naked angels on bikes on the back of our beloved Bicycle card decks?! Let’s also call for yellow buddhas on rickshaws and other spiritual idols on [insert your favorite vehicles here]! And why actually place Tens over Nines or Gold over Silver? Which powerful underground group of supremacist rulers defines these kind of things for all of us?? For a fully equal, truly socialist deck of cards, all cards should be equal, if not identical! (Note: We magicians have actually owned and used these for a long time; they are called force decks.) Also, everyone should be a winner in every game. And get a deck for free, of course!

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Addendum: Genii Forum user Jackpot has identified the perfect all-neutral playing cards: double blanks! So let’s play! (Side note: It always cracks me up that these come in Blue Tuck Standard Bicycle card cases – why?!)

Addendum II: As mentioned by Richard Hatch, there is another funding project going on right now for “Queeng Playing Cards” with “multi-ethnic face cards & jokers” displaying men and women in equal numbers: Princess and Prince (P), Duchess and Duke (D), and two Monarchs (M), one female, one male:

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The Many Deceptions of Master Bosch

YOMM_Bosch

I feel happy and honored because my analysis of the relationship between the juggler and the thief in Bosch’s famous painting “The Juggler” has just been published in Marco Pusterla‘s fine journal, Ye Olde Magic Mag! If you are not a subscriber yet, but interested in the field of magic history and collecting, you should check it out; also, if you are just curious to find out why I believe that the juggler and the thief are actually brothers in deceit! The magazine is published quarterly, both in print and digital, and Marco does a great job in researching and compiling scholarly articles, reviews of books and magic auctions, and other interesting bits.

To warm you up for the many layers of trickery in Bosch’s masterpiece, here’s a little game of seek and find:
Can you spot at least 15 mistakes in my manipulated mock version of the original?

Original:

JI_18_Gewinnspiel_1_Originalbild


Forgery:

JI_18_Gewinnspiel_2_Fälschung

Look closely – and don’t take anything for granted! (Just like in real life.) I will post the solution here in a couple of days, so please call again. Have fun!

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Click here and scroll down to the end of that page to see the solution! How did you do???


When Magic Meets Pinocchio

Lie-Tie: Recent magic dealer ad

There are manifold relations between magic and politics, yet they are not always blatantly obvious. There’s an interesting book (in German) by our dear magic friend, Dr. Harry Keaton (of “Fool Us!” fame), who has thoroughly researched the principles of deception employed by politicians. Yet there are rather few tricks that lend themselves to “political” presentations. But a few days ago, I came across the one above in a dealer’s mailing: a tongue-in-cheek product of Magic Castle veteran Milt Larsen. To reflect reality, I’d say the tie should stretch to four to five yards, at least!


New Contract for the White House Magician?

Donald Sternenkrieger.gif

White House master magician J. Carrod Blimp is currently seeking to extend his lucrative contract for another four years before getting fired and forced back into touring country clubs, second-rate casinos and third-rate TV shows.

More than a few overseas observers of magic La-La-Land have come to the conclusion that “The Blimp,” as he is affectionately known to the stunned trade press, is the biggest and best deceiver this strapped and torn country has seen in a long time. Here’s why:

His verbal control and patter are unique. A master of misdirection and surprise, he effortlessly turns facts into lies, transforms factoids into “alternate facts” and changes topics and positions quicker than a Sliding Die Box. Timing and misdirection of the feisty faker are flawless and only seen through by the initiated few.

A master contortionist and leading global bizarrist, he has also single-handedly introduced the very visual genre of “nose-flag magic,” which he likes to perform in formal and informal circles (see below). Always a stunner! Equipped with a handful of funny pinstriped sock-puppet Secretaries, he also practices his effortless ventriloquism and makes grown men sound like goofy rugrats. So funny! And let’s not forget his time-honored burlesque pussy-grabbing routine, which certainly is a favorite among fledgling models and lawyers alike!

Like Moses parted the Sea, the deporter-deceptionist parts his huge audiences into “Us” and “Them” with just a wave of his ole tiny wand. Where Copperfield only walked through an old Wall, he announces to build a brand-new one nobody will ever penetrate! What a Houdiniesk challenge! And hold your breath for the biggest and most enduring trick ever in his upcoming Grand Desillusion Show: Where Copperfield only made the Statue of Liberty disappear temporarily, he is about to make the Constitution disappear– permanently, that is. Merlin Awards galore!

So get in line and book your ticket now – and don’t let his ole sidekick Donny, the Demented Deceiver make that one disappear, too!

Nose-Flags


 

Faking Impossible Bottles…

I have hesitated for a while whether to share this cheap cheat bit here or not, because if you have ever dealt seriously with the subject of “impossible bottles” and its masters like Harry Eng, you will know that it’s an absolute no-go and a disgrace to temper with the bottle you are trying to stuff stuff into in any way!

Yet it is understandable that not everybody with just a passing interest in this matter has the means or know-how, not to mention the patience, to master this craft and art. (I have actually tried it, and it is both an arduous and satisfying experience. You can read a bit more about it here.)

So for those easy come, easy go folks among you, let me tell you that there’s a fake “bottle” out there (it’s not even made of glass) that you can easily fill with the biggest and most complex objects, which should make for a nice display on any shelf. This bottle I came across is produced by Peleg Design (they also produce other magic-themed paraphernalia), and its shabby secret is not actually designed to be hidden well:

ImpBottle_ch

Let’s consider this as a beginner’s ticket into the wonderful world of impossible bottles. But please do not trick yourself into believing that you have accomplished anything magical by filling and displaying this kind of bottle!


 

Magic History: Miracle Infants, Fish and Dicks

One of the fascinating aspects of studying history is the constant realization that a lot of ideas, fashions and actions come around again and again in circles over the ages, sometimes just rediscovered or copied, sometimes reinvented, and sometimes as old stuff simply dressed in new clothes. Naturally, the same goes for magic tricks and plots. Here’s an interesting example.

In recent years, you may have gotten in contact with a minor novelty called the “Fortune Teller Miracle Fish” in one form or the other. It’s a cheap piece of thin plastic foil in the shape of a fish (or else, see below), and when put on someone’s hand it starts to move, turn or curl. Depending on the movement, you can consult a little clue sheet that comes with the fish to find some meaning in this mildly amusing spiel.

The provenance of this trick was under discussion in a recent Genii Forum thread, and it seems to have many forms and “fathers” who claim to have invented it many decades ago.

Alas, there isn’t much new under the same old magic sun. I happened to come across a description of a truly magical performance of this feat (rather than as a joke or novelty), and this book was already published back in the 1780s! It’s called Testament de Jérôme Sharp by Henri Decremps, an eminent, early French magic writer. (I browsed through the German translation of this book.)

He vividly describes an eery performance by an old gypsy woman: She puts a piece of paper with the drawing of an infant in a cloth (see below)  into the hands of two women. The paper then twists and wiggles in one woman’s hand only, which “proves” that she has given birth to a child, while the other woman has not. (The secret lies in the organic material of one of the two pieces used. No chemicals here. Plus some pre-show work, I assume.)

Miracle Baby_2

Now, compare this haunting plot and its deeper meaning to today’s slum version with its shallow horoscope-like “reading”, and you will have both a good and sad example of the ongoing trivialization in many branches of magic today!

It’s almost superfluous to mention that there are other meaningfuless and “blue” variations around today, including miraculous bacon stripes and dicks . . .

Fortune Teller Miracle Dick


Postscript:

When I looked up the availability and prices of these fish on Amazon, I came across this funny screen display: People who bought the fish had also bought this fine fortune teller’s turban… Well, some things will probably never change!

FortuneTeller