Free Things to Do in Corona Quarantine

Oh2

Please note: This list is currently being updated regularly, with further links and suggestions coming in from loyal blog followers and Genii Forum readers. Thank you all!

<<>>>

Bored to the bone at home? Or even quarantined? Here are some tips on what you could get and do now. In total, it easily adds up to more than 2,000 free pages of magic to digest:

Chief Genii Richard Kaufman has just kindly provided a link to a free read of his classic work, CardWorks. Enjoy!

KaufmanCardWorks

Or take the time to read Paco Nagata‘s fine book, The Passion of an Amateur Card Magician, which is an enlightening labor of love on 554 pages. It’s huge, and you can download it for free here.

Jamy Ian Swiss wrote 71 (!) masterful essays for Magicana featuring and analyzing many of the leading practitioners of magic, accompanied by carefully selected performance videos. You can find them here.

The Science of Magic Association has provided their newsletter readers with a lovely list of “SOMA’s Social Isolation Suggestions,” which includes several links both to videos and interesting websites. Check it out here.

Magic historian and publisher Marco Pusterla kindly offers you free access to any back issue of his “Ye Olde Magic Mag.” Learn here how to get access.

Or check out Paul Romhany‘s VANISH magazine. It’s a change bag full of diverse topics, and I feel there’s always at least one interesting piece in each issue. The eight latest issues can be downloaded for free here.

Go see my recent post on some of my personal heroes and wizards of the world wide web. There’s a lot more free stuff to get and to digest via the links I have compiled there.

<<>>>

Head over to lybrary.com or to any other magic dealer. Check out their free downloads, but also try to spend a few bucks, if you can, to help support the magic community in this new age of anxiety. And get some new books, manuscripts, or tricks in order to learn and improve in the arts. Just two examples that will keep you busy for a while:

Lybrary.com offers, among many other things, three volumes of Lives of the Conjurers by Professor Solomon for free here. Hundreds of pages for a nice and easy read. In fact, they currently have a total of 135 (!) publications that you can get for free – see them all here.

Vanishing Inc. has, among other things, Magic in Mind for free. A few years ago, Joshua Jay “set out to assemble some of the most important, influential, and helpful essays on magic ever written, and make them available to all serious students of magic for free.” That’s 500 pages of great thinking and inspiration!

<<>>>

Whoops, we have just missed a weekend of free access to Kozmo‘s site, Reel Magic, which he offered in order to “enjoy the weekend, learn some magic and forget about all of this crap that’s happening around us.” Nice! However, one issue of of his DVD series (No. 41) remains accessible for free. Check it out here.

<<>>>

Chris Michael and Danny Orleans (the latter a co-founder of AmazeKids) are working on a preschool theme show. In their words, it’s “about how to prevent the spread of the virus. You can bet it’ll be a perfect program for them when schools re-open.” Both are currently writing a complete script for it, but they allow you to create your own themed show based around their ideas, which I find quite amazing, kids, and very generous. The Title is “Scrub-a-Dub-Dub” and you can download a free outline here.

Silly Billy (David Kaye) was quick in putting together a free ebook called “11 Things Every Performer Should Do During The Coronavirus Qurantine.” It’s useful and a quick, fun read.

KayeCorona

<<>>>

Videos: As the Portland Magic Jam also had to be cancelled, each of the four headliners (Max Maven, Shawn Farquhar, Stephen Bargatze, and John Shryock kindly agreed to do a small online video lecture – for free. It’s scheduled for Saturday, March 28, 1:00 p.m. in Portland, Oregon (which should be Pacific Standard Time).

Update: If you missed the live event, you can catch up here.

Haven’t heard much from the UK’s Magiflix project recently, but they do have a small free video section available here where you can learn the “Pre-Prefiguration” card trick (by Jennings/Elsdon), which is astonishing, simple, and totally impromptu.

<<>>>

The inimitable David Stone has uploaded a quick and funny short Corona Card Virus Trick here which you really shouldn’t miss!

<<>>>

And then there’s coin master and all-around wizard Helge Thun, who keeps us spellbound with his Chinese-American Corona Virus Coin War:

<<>>>

If you are more into High Brow entertainment, why don’t you check out Teller‘s production of Macbeth, which he directed a few years ago?

<<>>>

LATEST ADDITIONS:

There are two magic streaming events coming up – and they are free of charge. But please consider donating to the artists or to charities which help coping with corona!

Vanishing Inc. will be hosting “ShareMagic:Live” on April 5th at 12 pm NYC time. You need to register in advance for the event. Artists include Morgan and West, Harapan Ong, Caroline Ravn, Jim Krenz, Daniel Garcia, Andi Gladwin, Joshua Jay, and more. Find out more here.

MagicatHome

German magicians Marcus Weissenberg and Till Frömmel have also gathered together a great line-up of artists for their “Magic at Home Livestreamfestival” on YouTube and Instagram. It will run on three consecutive nights from April 3rd to 5th, always starting at 6 pm German time. Featured artists include Topas, Wolfgang Moser, Gaston Florin, Simon Pierro, Moritz Müller, and many others more. Follow the event here.

Here’s a fun preview by Wolfgang Moser:

<<>>>

Plus: Already looking forward to this treas(h)ure from Milk Can Magic Motion Pictures!

HarryandHarryIG

<<>>>

Work on new ideas, thoughts, moves, tricks, and presentations! Time is on your hands. Bingeviewing may make you happy, bingeforumsurfing may make you miserable, but both options won’t make you much smarter or better in anything…

<<>>>

Read or learn other stuff outside of magic. The other day, my younger boy created this fine rendition for me of America’s Premier Illusionist, Master Deceptionist, Bizarrist and Contortionist, THE GREAT DONALDILI. And it just took him a few minutes. Pure magic! I’d like to learn that, too! (So far, I can only move around stuff in Powerpoint, see above…)

Donald Sternenkrieger

<<>>>

Make plans for the future, or at least give it a thought: How will we emerge from this global crisis? What changes are likely to happen in your personal environment, your business or maybe in your career? Do you already have a plan B? What do you want to change?

There may be lots of problems ahead; but what about the opportunities? If you’re a magician, conjure up some good spirit for yourself and for others and get to work!

<<>>>

Finally: Use your head! Be cautious, be sensible, take care of your loved ones and yourself, and please stay safe!


 

Well said: Robert-Houdin on “False Bottom” Conjuring vs. Art

Jean-Eugène Robert-Houdin, “The Father of Modern Magic,” 1868:

It is easy enough, no doubt, to play the conjuror without possessing either dexterity or mental ability. It is only necessary to lay in a stock of apparatus of that kind which of itself works the trick. This is what may be called the “false bottom” school of conjuring. Cleverness at this sort of work is of the same order as that of the musician who produces a tune by turning the handle of a barrel-organ. Such performers will never merit the title of skilled artists, and can never hope to obtain any real success.

Well said!

So beware of the “false bottom” or “push button” school of (pseudo) conjuring!


 

The 60% Force

Having a spectator freely select one out of four objects gives you a chance of 1:4 or 25% that each single object is picked. By knowing which face-down card in a row of four is selected more often than others, you can increase the chances of having your “favorite” card picked to 60%. (You could call this a force, even though it’s not surefire.) This is the essence of a new piece of academic research by Gustav Kuhn et. al., which has just been published. You can read the abstract online here.

According to the paper, out of four cards, 60% of the participants in an experiment freely chose the third card from their left (or the second from the right–but I’m sure that you’ve already calculated that). Please enjoy my masterful visualization of this key finding:

Graph60%

Yet these participants felt that their choice was extremely free. They also underestimated the actual proportion of people who selected the target card.

(My guess would be that this result is partly due to the overwhelming majority of right-handed people in the world.)

<<>>>

By the way, Matt Tompkins from the SOMA Committee keeps a constantly updated “Science of Magic Bibliography” with academic papers published in English since 1887 (which means that some important early German and French research on the psychology of magic is missing there.) And here’s a special on the topic from “Frontiers in Psychology” in free PDF format.

<<>>>

Read more about the upcoming SOMA conference in London here.


 

A Conference on Magic and Happiness

SOMA_Cards

The SOMA has just announced a new symposium on the “Science of Magic, Wellbeing & Happiness,” which will take place on April 4th, 2020, at Goldsmiths University of London.

As they write,

The symposium focuses on how the impossible art of magic can enhance social, psychological, and physical wellbeing.

Not only will you learn about the scientific evidence, but you’ll also gain perspectives from experts who run wellbeing-focused magic organizations in healthcare, as charities, and more.  It will be a great opportunity to connect with others in this field and explore further research avenues together.

Organized by Steve Bagienski and Gustav Kuhn, the line-up of speakers will bring together academic researchers of magic like Richard Wiseman with representatives of various magic charity organizations.

You can find more information here.


 

Well Said: Harry Lorayne on “Jazz Magic”

As we all know, Harry Lorayne is his very own force.

Here’s a good observation from his Magic Book:

The heart of jazz is improvisation—”blow it as you feel it.” The same is true of close-up magic. That’s why I didn’t spend much time telling you which effect should follow which. This is called “routining.” All it really is, is common sense.

Well said, at least about informal close-up shows, I’d say.


Here’s an interesting comment by my magic friend Paco Nagata:

“Wise words from a wise magician quoted by another wise magician and blogger!

I would like to participate here a bit sharing some thoughts about it by an extract from page 31 from my amateur book:

Improvisation (known as “Jazz Magic”) is a too personal thing to advise anything about it, but I’ll tell you something very interesting that I discovered along my personal experience: you don’t need to improvise voluntarily; you’ll end up doing it without realizing it! Experience will tell you when you are ready to improvise. You will know it when you discover that you are improvising without even noticing it. I’m telling you that because it happened to me and some amateur friends of mine. The art of improvisation will come to you automatically, and if it hasn’t arrived it’s because you’re not ready for it yet or you just do not need it. Improvising does not mean being a “better” magician, but just a magician who works in a different way. Improvisation is not a step that must be climbed, but simply another resource. Don’t be obsessed about it (nor anything).

Thank you, Paco!

You can get Paco’s fine e-book The Passion of an Amateur Card Magician for free here. Read more about it here.


 

What Attracts You to Magic?

sic heads

Another great question at the Genii Forum recently! It really got me thinking, and I enjoyed making up my mind and drafting an answer to myself. Maybe you want to consider it, too?

Here’s my take:

Like many others, I also don’t know why, but from early on, long before my first books or magic sets, I have simply been fascinated by magic, mysteries, secrets, riddles, and unanswered questions. I begged my parents to let me watch every magic bit on TV. I once dived into every available bit on Erich von Däniken’s claims about ancient alien astronauts on earth; I read about Area 51, the Bermuda Triangle, the Philadelphia Experiment, secret societies, spies and agents, gamblers and cheaters, fake psychics and the possibility of afterlife. Basically everything beyond our sheltered daily life, our book learnings and our “known knowns,” I guess.

But magic struck the deepest and has stuck the longest. Something just clicked.

Just a romantic thought: Maybe we are not discovering magic; maybe we are being chosen by our Goddess Maja, first as tried and tested disciples, later as conspired keepers of the secrets and worthy bearers of wonder and astonishment? Wouldn’t that be wonderful? A secret, sworn-in league of the knowing, wearing funny ties with playing cards motifs, swaying colorful silks and feather flowers…

I don’t need to see every show and trickster or the latest fad, but I’m fond of and grateful for many magic moments I have experienced (Copperfield’s “Flying” being just one of them). They felt warm and intense, and, for a moment, boundless. What a promise, what a sensation! I long for more of these.

I also don’t need to perform all the time, but I’m happy when I manage to create a small magic moment for a few spectators and see their eyes wide open and their minds racing.

I love the richness and diversity of magic, its universal appeal and the human condition on which it thrives. History, culture, theater, technology, dexterity, psychology and so much more—it’s all there, and I enjoy reading and discovering magic stories, principles, and effects.

I love sharing and discussing these with other magic buffs on a non-competitive level.

I love toying selfishly with props and ideas late at night, fiddling in front of the mirror, cutting and glueing cardboard stuff at the kitchen table, getting into the flow with nothing but my imagination and a pinch of woofledust.

And, sitting in the huge library of the emerging Magic Arts Foundation here in Germany, or browsing through their breath-taking files and boxes of props, I feel happy, I take in the power and beauty of our art and I feel I belong to, at least like a small rhinestone under the twinkling firmament, the mighty magic universe we have to preserve and yet to explore further, without ever fully grasping it.



Some key questions for you if you care to make up your mind, too:

1. How did you get into magic?

2. What is it that still attracts you to magic, after all these years?

3. What do you expect from magic, and what do you enjoy the most?

4. For whom do you do magic?

5. What do you want to express or give back through your magic?

—Your take!


My magic friend Paco from Spain kindly took the time to answer my questions from his perspective. Please click „comments“ below to read his thoughts.

Muchas gracias, amigo!


 

Empowering Your Spectator

Pfeile_4

Recently, there was a discussion over at the Genii Forum which impromptu trick you would do if you were handed a deck of cards and were to perform only one thing. This reminded me of three older favorites of mine:

(1) “Gemini Twins” by Karl Fulves – always a stunner! And as a “psychic experiment” great for couples, when both “intuitively” find the mate of their partner’s card. You will find it in his book More Self-Working Card Tricks.

(2) “The Waikiki Shuffle,” a fun card location invented by Bill Murata, to be found in Roberto Giobbi‘s Card College Light.

(3) Francis Carlyle‘s “Upside-Down Deck” from Scarne on Card Tricks. It’s easy, quick, and visual, and you can make the spectator the star, which is almost always a good idea and usually better than the “Look what I can do!” braggadocio approach. Just hand him a magic wand (a worn pencil stub gets a laugh), let him tap the mixed-up deck three times and then reveal 1) his chosen card, 2) your own chosen card in the 3) “triumphed” deck!

Bonus idea: If you hand out as a wand the rod with the gems on opposite ends (from Ken Allen‘s “Jumping Gems”), you can go with the flow right into this routine…

To be more precise, here’s what you could do: Show the rod as a regular mini wand, with gems on both ends on both sides. Proudly point out that over the years you have ascended through the ranks to the status of a full-fledged four-star magic wand holder. A beginner, however, would start with a blank rod (demonstrate it). But as your spectator friend has just accomplished a freakin’ miracle, you promote him to honorary two-star status immediately (demonstrate). So he only needs two more stars on the back of the wand to catch up with you (show four again). End with the warning to always handle such a wand with great care, otherwise some stars may loosen and drop to the other end of the wand (demonstrate and “repair”). Tap your fist and make a palmed coin or sponge ball appear. Put the wand away and continue with your flow.

Performed like this, I feel there is no need to bring out the second or even third rod from “Jumping Gems.”


 

Die Rückkehr des Zauberzwerges

Auch „Er“ ist wieder da: Der Zauberzwerg. Volkmar Karsten hat sein Magazin rund die Zauberkunst für Kinder, das von 2008 bis 2013 in gedruckter Form erschien, dieser Tage als Blog neu belebt.

Das erklärte Ziel:

Mit dem Blog „Der Zauberzwerg“ sollen Themen rund um die Zauberkunst für Kinder aufgegriffen und diskutiert werden: Theorie und Praxis, Trickrezensionen, Vorstellung von Programmen oder Tricks, Wie mache ich aus einem Trick ein Zauberkunststück für Kinder?, pädagogische Grundlagen, tricktechnische Grundlagen, Porträts von Zauberkünstlern, Berichte von Kongressen, Auftritten oder Meisterschaften – kurzum alles, was für die Zauberkunst für Kinder von Interesse und Bedeutung ist.

Mitmachen und Mitdiskutieren ist natürlich gewünscht und auch nötig! Volkmar freut sich auf viele Mitstreiter, die nicht nur Mit-Leser sind.

Einen Bonus gibt es jetzt schon: ein Seminarheft zum Thema „Was Kinder sehen wollen“ als kostenlosen Download.

Zauberzwerg Blog


 

Well Said: Simon Aronson on Methods

Spiegelei2

In his latest newsletter (Jan-Feb 2020), Michael Close has just reissued a wonderful interview from 2012 with the late great Simon Aronson and his wife and partner, Ginny. It runs over 19 (!) pages and thus covers a lot of ground—their becoming, their two-person mindreading act, mem deck work, and much more, plus a fine card revelation. I really enjoyed reading it. Highly recommended!

Here are just a few excerpts of Aronson’s thinking which I find worthwhile pondering over for any creator and performer of magic:

On deceptive magic:

I make the assumption that my spectators are thinking people and that they know a lot. Not necessarily that they know a lot about magic, but that they are observant and rational. I don’t have absolutist principles about the way I try to create things, but certainly one guideline that I’ve always used is that whatever the method is, it ought to be counterintuitive. Whatever first thought people might normally have about a possible method, then the actual method ought not follow that same direction.

On combining methods:

I love to combine methods. Sometimes, by accident, people will fall onto the method. But if you have several things going on – a little bit of sleight of hand, a little bit of mathematics, a little bit of a stack, a bit of subtlety, some misdirection – then even if they get one part of it, it’s not enough to discover the whole method.

On complex methods and effects:

I don’t mind complex methods as long as they don’t result in complex effects. It’s like the duck that looks so serene gliding across the water; but under the surface he’s paddling like crazy. My feeling is that magic should be that way.

On fooling scientists:

I think that scientists and engineers have a particular weak spot. They are used to starting their experiments with observable data and work from there. The one thing they are not equipped to do, it’s not in their methodology, is to assume that the data itself has a mind and is trying to fool them.

If you haven’t already, you may want to consider subscribing to Michael’s free newsletter.


 

A Test in Inattentional Blindness: Are You Ready?

Jack Queen



!!! WARNING !!!

The following test may cause extreme temporary self-contempt! Participate at your own risk, and don’t blame me for your likely failure, please!

 


O.K., first question to all you cardicians out there: About how many hours of your life have you logged in so far toying or practicing with a deck of cards in your hands? 1,000 hours? 10,000? Maybe even 100,000? (That would be my guess for the likes of Richard Turner and Roberto Giobbi!)

Anyway, you are pretty familiar with a standard poker deck of cards in USPCC design, aren’t you? I bet you bet you are!

So, here are a few simple questions then. If you have a deck in your hands right now, put it away. If you don’t carry one now, good. Keep away from the nearest box. And don’t peek! (I would notice.)

Ten questions to shake your cardboard world:

(1) How many different print colors do the regular court cards display, including black?
(Don’t guess! Envision the cards and try to remember their precise look!)

OK, that was quite easy for a starter, wasn’t it? Go on…

(2) When we look at all twelve court cards, how many of them are looking to our left?

I think I already got you on this one. But there’s more to come…

(3) How many court cards are shown in profile (and not full-face)?

(4) Which Queen is holding more than just a flower in her hand?

(5) Which King does not hold a sword?

(6) Which Jack is holding what looks like a fancy mirror (or maybe even a magic paddle)?

(7) How many Jacks do sport a fancy mustache? (And which ones?)

(8) And how many Kings don’t? (And which ones?)

(9) Only the Jack and Queen of which suit do not look into the same direction?

(10) Bonus question: How many of the regular 52 cards of a deck feature an asymmetrical design?

OK, that’s it.

And here’s my Super Ultimate No Stooges-Threads-Magnets-Switches-MO Prediction:

You have failed miserably! You mostly have no clue.

But don’t worry, almost everybody is in the same boat with you!

And now go back to your deck for a reality check and study the cards closely, as closely as probably never before in your life! I won’t post the correct answers here so later readers can enjoy (?) this test, too.

If you got just five (or even more) answers out of ten right (by knowing, not by lucky guessing!), I bow deeply and salute you! In that case, if you shoot me a proud and honest e-mail at zzzauber [at] arcor dot de, I will be happy to send you a free commercial and visual trick with a marvellous card-finding sword stunt performed by one of the Kings!

<<>>>

To make you feel better, I’ll post a brief explanation of this disturbing phenomenon in a few days. Rejoice, this is not about you and your shortcomings; it’s all about our brain, the way we perceive, filter and store information (or don’t)! That’s why so often we look, but don’t see…