The Die-Cipher II is currently my favorite magic trick because it appears that you can do the impossible: accurately predict the face-up number of a die hidden inside a round brass canister and lid.
The routine goes like this: give the spectator three items: a die, a round canister, and a lid. They are all made of heavy brass. Ask them to inspect the items to make sure there is nothing funny about them. Once they are satisfied, turn your back and tell them to place the die in the canister with any number they want facing up. Then ask them to place the lid on the canister. Tell the spectator to observe that it is impossible to see inside the canister without first removing the lid. When they have finished, turn around.
You do not even have to touch the canister. But you will be able to tell them what number is facing up. The first time you do it, they might think you are lucky. You can repeat the trick. Go ahead and do it a third time. You won’t be wrong. The spectator will beg you to tell them how you do it. Let them suffer.
See more photos at Wink Fun.
Prankster Magic includes some excellent card and coin tricks that kids can quickly learn. The illustrations are clear and appealingly cartoonish. Some of the tricks are “self-working,” while others require mastering basic sleight-of-hand.
The prank section is fun, too. The book comes with a fake piece of chewed-up pink bubblegum, with suggestions on where to put it for maximum entertainment value (like the screen of your big sister’s mobile phone).
Prankster Magic also includes two pages of phony labels that you can apply to food product boxes. I put a “98% Free of Small Bugs” sticker on a box of Cheerios and freaked out my 12-year-old daughter, wife, and sister-in-law. “Take it back to the store!” my wife said, alarm in her voice. Hahaha!
See sample pages from this book at Wink.
The Psychic Escape magic trick ($30) is a bit like the Block Escape I posted last week, but it's better. You don't have to hide the rings as they are put in the tube. In fact, the spectator can put them in the tube. And instead of selecting two colors, the spectator selects one. After all the rings are in the cylinder, the spectator puts the cap on. Then you thread a needle and cord through the rings via the holes on either end of the cylinder. When you open the brass tube, all the rings are on the string except for the spectator's selected ring, which drops to the table.
My 12-year-old says the Psychic Escape is her favorite trick. She wants me to buy one for her, but I said we could share this one, provided she doesn't get the string stained with chocolate pudding and spaghetti sauce when she takes it to school and shows it to kids at the lunch table.
The Block Escape is a great trick that even kids can perform with ease. This wood model, which cost $6, is an excellent deal.
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Like Jason's beloved Hot Rod, the Crazy Cube is an inexpensive and easy trick you can keep in your pocket and pester your friends with.
Tell the spectator to place the die in the small bottle with their selected number facing up (or down, which is what I prefer to tell them). Tell them to cap the bottle. Then, put the small bottle upside down into the larger bottle and cap it. Have them hold the jar. Look into their eyes, and after a non-creepy amount of time, tell them the number. You are right!
Here's a video:
"The Mephisto Spiral
is a neat toy that gives the illusion that you can continuously pull the two spiral halves apart."
It looks like 2 interlocking wire spirals. In your hands, the two spirals seem to wind together or wind apart, completely effortlessly. However when you hand the Mephisto Spiral over to someone else, they find that they cannot replicate the action – the two wire spirals are completely rigid.
Alternatively, by simply moving your hands in one direction, you can make the two spirals appear to unwind, yet however many times you repeat the action, the two spirals never come apart.
As a practicing magician, playing cards are just one of the many tools in our “magical toolbox.” For the causal card player any pack of cards will most likely do. But for anyone who practices card magic or just plays a lot of card games, cards might be a subject of interest. If you’re looking for quality long-lasting budget playing cards, I highly recommend Tally-Ho cards. They’re inexpensive and can be subjected to being bent and abused, while maintaining their ease of handling. Tally-Hos’ durability can be attributed to its linoid finish, which also helps prevent the cards from sticking together. Unlike most other playing cards such as Bicycles or Bees, Tally-Hos are rather resistant to warping after heavy usage. In fact, a pack of Tally-Hos I own for five years and counting, still springs and fans just like it did first out of the box. -- Jefferson Deng
[The magicians who hang out at The Magic Cafe message board seem to agree that Tally Ho cards are more durable than Bicycle cards. Another interesting thing about these cards is that the Circle back design is slightly asymmetrical, which makes the cards useful for mentalism tricks. The one negative thing about Tally Ho cards is that spectators are usually more familiar with Bicycle cards and unfamiliarity raises suspicions about whether or not a deck is gimmicked. -- Mark]
Tally Ho Circle Back Playing Cards ($6)
For the last six months or so my 11-year-old daughter and I have become magic trick fanatics. I’ve purchased quite a few magic books, including several decades-old classic cards trick books that magicians have told me are essential. Magic: The Complete Course, is one of the best.
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Written by magician Joshua Jay, Big Magic for Little Hands is a pleasingly giant-sized book of 25 tricks for kids ages 7 and up. Jay is also the author of Magic: The Complete Course, which I bought a few months ago and have learned quite a bit from.
These are tricks that require little prep time and dexterity yet are guaranteed to deliver a big payoff. The large format, oversized text, and black-and-white vintage-style illustrations make Big Magic particularly easy to follow and kid-friendly. Here’s how to levitate your sibling several feet off a bed. Escape Houdini-like from tightly bound ropes. There are also impromptu effects that can be performed anytime, anywhere, like Spook-Key, in which an antique key mysteriously rotates in your hand. Each easy-to-perform feat is clearly illustrated with step-by-step drawings and accompanied by insider tips.
Big Magic for Little Hands: 25 Astounding Illusions for Young Magicians
From the Kickstarter page: "The NoPhone acts as a surrogate to any smart mobile device, enabling you to always have a rectangle of smooth, cold plastic to clutch without forgoing any potential engagement with your direct environment."
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Jane and I have been having a great time with The Code, a magic effect created by actor and magician Andy Nyman. It's made by Theory 11 and consists of a deck of playing cards and a one-hour instructional DVD that includes several excellent mind-reading routines you can perform with the deck.
There's no memorization, forces, or slight-of-hand required to use the deck, which means you can focus on the routine. Nyman is a great teacher (and an interesting person - he's the co-creator and co-writer of the TV shows Derren Brown – Mind Control and Trick of the Mind) and the included DVD is very well-produced. The deck and DVD come in a cool-looking box, too, which is indicative of the high-level of quality I've come to except from everything Theory 11 does.
The Code by Andy Nyman ($25)
We agree with The World's Best Ever's statement about Willie Nelson: "Without a doubt, one of the top 3 people we’d want to hang out with on earth."
Seven tricks you can do with empty rolls of toilet paper, written by the late Martin Gardner.
5. A Mysterious Force: Two tubes are alongside each other on a table. Rub your hands vigorously together to generate a psychic force. Place your hands palms down fingers pointing toward the tubes. Lower your head slightly. Move your hands slowly away from the tubes, and at the same time secretly blow on them. They will roll toward your hands as if drawn by a mysterious attractive force. You'll be suprised at how many people will be totally mystified by this simple trick.
7 fun toilet paper tube tricks (Via Reality Carnival)
In each episode of Gadgets the editors and friends of Boing Boing recommend technology they love and use. This time Jason and Mark talk about the best chess timer for Scrabble players, a fantastic pizza stone, a compact 3-outlet adapter for hotel use, and a great magic trick for under $5. Plus, a website that converts PDFs to Kindle format.Read the rest
"John Mulholland was a brilliant stage magician who revealed his best secrets shortly before he died in 1970," says Charles Platt
. "His mind-reading trick has always been my favorite."Read the rest
A fun trick (with solution), by Richard Wiseman of Quirkology. (Via Fogonazos)
Halfway through reading Alex Stone's memoir, Fooling Houdini: Magicians, Mentalists, Math Geeks, and the Hidden Powers of the Mind, I read Ricky Jay's blisteringly negative review of the book in the Wall Street Journal. Cleverly titled "Slight of Hand," Jay described Stone's book as "an ostensibly self-effacing memoir by an inept amateur conjurer."
I love Ricky Jay's magic, his books, his quarterly magazine, and his performances. Jay is a talented magician and a fascinating storytelling historian of magic, con artists, and sideshows. He's certainly a more talented magician and a more knowledgable historian that Stone. And Jay rightfully calls out several errors of fact that Stone made in Fooling Houdini.
But even so, I finished Stone's book because I was fascinated by his story.
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