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.
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“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.”
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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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Karswell is co-editor of the Chilling Archives of Horror Comic Books series (including Zombies, excerpted on Boing Boing). He also runs the fabulous blog, and everything else too. He recently scanned a circa-1960 novelty catalog, which is loaded with intriguing objects from a bygone era.
If you've ever read a silver age comic book in your life, chances are you've seen the ad for World Wide Diamond Co., once located in windy wacky Chicago IL. And if you sent away for one of their smallish, 48-page, newsprint mail order catalogs then you absolutely uncovered a world of REAL hidden treasure! For buried there among all the other pages of cheap, gaudy jewelry and marked down wristwatches are the NOVELTY gift and gag pages, crammed packed with a jaw-dropping assortment of magic tricks, prank gadgets, monster masks, 'bop' style glasses, toys and other various instruments of endless enchantment and far-out fun! Man, there's seriously so much good stuff to share from this guide that it'll take two entire posts to deliver it all-- ENJOY!!
I wonder how many people bought the tiny donkey tie clip, which emits a loud fart when the wearer squeezes a rubber bulb?
WWD Co., Novelty Catalog (PT. 1) | WWD Co., Novelty Catalog (PT. 2)
Here's a great self-working card trick to teach your kids. If they are old enough to spell, they will love performing it for their friends. I learned about the trick, which was invented by magician Jim Steinmeyer, on Greg Ross's Futility Closet blog.
Remove any nine cards from an ordinary deck, shuffle them, and deal them face down into three piles. Choose any pile and note its bottom card. Then assemble the three piles into one, being sure to place the chosen pile on top.
Suppose the card you chose is the three of spades. Spell T-H-R-E-E, dealing one card face down onto the table with each letter. Place the remaining cards on top of these five and take up the whole packet. Now spell O-F, and again place the remaining cards on top of these two. Then spell S-P-A-D-E-S and place the remaining cards on top.
Now pick up the packet and spell M-A-G-I-C, dealing the final card face up. It’s the three of spades.
It boggles my mind that Mr. Steinmeyer could invent such a trick!
Self-described "Magician Prankster!" Magic Of Rahat produced this clever video demonstrating an effective "invisible driver" prank to play on hapless fast food attendants. (thanks, Joe Sabia!)
The Invisible Flea. The Spirit Hand. The Spirit in the Bottle. The Floating Body. I couldn't resist ordering Spooky Magic when I was about eight years old and saw it in the Scholastic Book newsletter. When the book arrived I wasn't disappointed. A couple of my friends and I prepared a magic show for our Cub Scout den, and it was a hit. The Floating Body trick, depicted on the cover, was the crowd favorite.
A couple of years ago I ordered a used copy on Amazon. It's out of print, but you can get a copy for as low as $.50. I impressed by the quality of the magic tricks, and the instructions for performing the tricks. The illustrations are also excellent, and I remember them clearly from my childhood.
Here are some other scans from the book: Spirit Hand, Tricks with Black Thread, back cover.
I couldn't find much information about the illustrator, William Meyerriecks. But look at this great cover he did for Robert Silverberg's Revolt on Alpha C.