My friend Yasuo Amano, who lives in the town of Shizuoka about an hour outside Tokyo, runs a Japanese blog called Hey Presto. It is mostly concerned with the unique magic tricks produced a Japanese toy company named Tenyo, about which I’ve just written an enormous set of books that will be released in early November.
The Tenyo Company has been in business since 1931, and sells its magic tricks to regular folks at its “Magic Corners” in department stores across Japan. Even though the tricks they devise are easy to do, they also appeal to magicians because of their creativity.
And then there is Tokyo Disneyland, which is turned into a most mysterious and magical place at Halloween. Amano’s latest blog video combines a recent visit to Tokyo Disneyland’s seasonal Halloween event with a performance of some of Tenyo’s newest tricks.
I know … Halloween is still weeks away, but for purposes of commerce Halloween now commences in early September at Disney parks around the world, and even at your local supermarket and drugstore where the candy and greeting cards now appear before summer has officially ended.
In the latest and most annoying development, yesterday at Rite-Aid I saw Christmas cookies already out in the Halloween aisle. Don’t make me punch you in the face, Santa.
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Jason wrote a terrific foreword to my $3 card magic e-book, Trick Decks: How to Hack Playing Cards for Extraordinary Magic, and has kindly given me permission to reprint it here. Jason was instrumental in rekindling my interested in magic, so I was thrilled to have him write it. Thank you, Jason!
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What Mark teaches you, in this fantastic book, is magic. Magic you can appreciate immediately, and marvel at its workings without ever performing for more than yourself.
Herein lie activities that are fun for the whole family!
Activities that create illusions you’ll never forget – or forget how they work!
The entire STEM course load that is so popular today is here in Spades! Clubs! Hearts! Diamonds!
It is truly magic on so many levels.
So much about magic is intentionally damn confusing. I have a large library of books on card magic. Few of them are comprehensible to folks who don’t spend hours trying to figure out how to use them! It is like law school! Fancy names for card sleights that are harder to remember than the moves themselves, illustrations from Lascaux, and dialect from the renaissance-faire are frequently used to keep the barrier to entry high.
Mark has worked hard to share easy, achievable methods to get immediate, amazing results. You can delight in magic in a way that took me over a decade, working with only a single deck of Bicycle 808 playing cards and a candle, in a damp, dark room, trying to perfect a double lift.
See sample pages from this book at Wink.
For over 100 years, the S.S. Adams Company of Neptune, New Jersey has been selling joy buzzers, sneezing powder, exploding cigars, fake vomit, extra salty salt water taffy, toy smoking monkeys, magic tricks, and hundreds of other inexpensive novelties loved by children and adults who act like children.
The S.S. Adams company gave Life of the Party author Kirk Demarais unprecedented access to its archives of tricks, gags, and ephemera dating back to the company’s humble beginnings as a manufacturer of Cachoo sneezing powder. Samuel Sorenson Adams sold 150,000 bottles of the stuff at ten cents each. The FDA eventually banned the powder, which contained a toxic ingredient called dianisidine. Undaunted, Adams went on to invent over 700 other practical jokes (many of which were awarded patents).
The photos of the many different magic tricks in Demarais’s book are the most appealing to me. Many of them are made from metal or wood and are beautiful and mysterious. I’m not a collector of anything, but I could become a collector of old magic tricks like this if I didn’t check myself. For now, I will content myself with this lavishly illustrated homage to a company that could only have thrived in an earlier century, when pleasures were simpler, and humor was broader.
The foreword is written by Acme Novelty Library cartoonist Chris Ware.
Life of the Party: A Visual History of the S.S. Adams Company, Makers of Pranks and Magic for 100 Years
By Kirk Demarais
S.S. Read the rest
I wonder how many thousands of kids were introduced to the joy of magic from buying TV Magic Cards after watching this commercial that ran on TV ad nauseum in the early 1970s.
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Trick Decks: How to Hack Cards for Extraordinary Magic is my $2.99 Kindle e-book that will show you how to easily make different kinds of magic trick card decks. You can make the decks from ordinary playing cards and easy-to-find tools and materials.
It contains full-color photos and illustrations and clear instructions, as well as links to helpful videos. No special skills are required and these cards are fun to make for beginners and experienced magicians.
My 12-year-old daughter and I have been using these hand-made decks to delight friends and strangers with amazing tricks. Best of all, no one has ever guessed the secret to these tricks!
For more information, watch the above video or visit my website, trickdecks.org. Read the rest
Psychology professor Richard Wiseman of Quirkology shows how to make ten optical illusions. The one with the straw is a good magic trick! Download the floating dice template here.
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Rick Lax is a magic trick inventor, author
, and (non-practicing) lawyer from Las Vegas. I was introduced to him because we have the same book editor, Dave Moldawer. On his Facebook page, Rick posts videos of the tricks he's created. The thing I love about his videos is that he shoots them in a coffee shop with his mobile phone. The tricks are great and he has an appealing personality so the Starbucks production values are fine. I prefer his videos to the edgy, atmospheric videos that so many other magic trick sellers use.
Rick does not perform in front of live audiences, but on Monday he appeared on Penn & Teller: Fool Us with a memory trick. He wowed Penn & Teller and the audience by glancing at a packet of 21 cards, mixing them up, then separating the reds and the blacks without looking at the cards. Teller grabbed some of Rick's cards to see if they'd been marked or stripped or otherwise doctored but he came to the conclusion that they are ordinary cards. Penn & Teller were fooled and Rick won the challenge.
I asked Rick to tell me about his experience on the show and how he came up with the trick.
Tell me about your thought process when you were coming up with a trick to fool Penn & Teller
I picked my most deceptive trick. The whole point of the show is to fool Penn & Teller, and I knew I had to bring my A Game. Read the rest
Lindsey Giannini became Miss New Jersey in June and will soon compete in the Miss America competition against 51 other women. During the talent portion of the competition, Miss Gianni will perform a Latin-inspired jazz dance, but she has another talent that I wish she'd do instead that evening: magic tricks!
Jason is probably going to start wearing a crown when he does cards tricks, now, too.
[Side note: awesome vocal fry!] Read the rest
Cyril Takayama is American-Japanese magician who started his career as a teenager busking on the streets of Shinjuku in Tokyo. Today he is regarded as one of the best magicians in the world. The entire one-hour video above is worth watching, but I've queued it to his signature card-through-the-window trick.
[via] Read the rest
Magician Dan White performed a great trick on the Tonight Show on Friday. He gave Jimmy Fallon a quarter asked him to pocket the coin. Then White turned his back and told Fallon to put his hand back in his pocket and either put the coin in his hand or not, then hold out his closed fist. White guessed correctly all three times, and ended with a great surprise. I'm 100% fooled.
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Andrew Mayne's Name of the Devil is available from Amazon.
Andrew Mayne is a magician, author, and TV show host. He's also coming to our Weekend of Wonder (September 18-20) to teach us all how to escape from a straitjacket. Andrew just wrote an intense true story for The Life Sentence about the time he was seventeen and invited an adult man who was selling a used straitjacket to come to his house so Andrew could try it out and possibly buy it. His parents weren't home at the time, and when Andrew was strapped in and helpless, he had an "Oh shit" moment:
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I was unaware of the “handcuff tricks” employed by Corll and Gacy when I was being strapped by a stranger into a straitjacket, a restraint that made me extremely vulnerable.
“This came from St. Elizabeth’s Hospital,” the man explained as he yanked on the leather buckles, cinching them tight around me. “That’s where John Hinkley, Jr., the guy who shot Reagan, is held.
“One more strap.” I couldn’t feel my arms. “They’ve got lots of serial killers there. You ever heard of William Minor?”
“No … Was he a killer?” I nervously asked while trying to see if there was any slack at all in the jacket.
“No. He helped write the dictionary while he was there. Ended up cutting his own dick off because he had bad thoughts about children.”
“Huh … ” I replied, attempting to slide one numb arm under the other.
“Can you get out?” the man asked.
Magician Jose Ahonen performed some sleight-of-hand magic on dogs and they were totally fooled. First, he showed them a treat held between his fingers and thumb. The dog naturally expressed interest in it. When the treat disappeared, they were like, "huh?"
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For a long time the needs of magic dragons everywhere have been overlooked by playing card manufacturers. Why spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds? What about flames, flowers, paws and… ok let’s not mess with the diamonds. And why are there no Magic Performing Chihuahua Cards? If you’re a magic dragon, those are pretty integral. And the box does even have its own stand? Weird.
So I decided to change all that.
Introducing the Piff the Magic Dragon Deck of Playing Cards! Two years in the making and breaking pasteboard boundaries.
The tuck box is based on my Tacular. So I called it a Tuckular. The original Tacular has legs that unfold and pop out to convert it from a suitcase to a table. They are based on something called a Harbin stand, created by Robert Harbin, one of the greatest magical minds of the 20th century who also happened to be an expert origami enthusiast. When I was on tour in 2012 I came up with a playing card version of it which planted the seed of a complete deck of cards.
We’ve been able to add some sweet stretch goals along the way, with options like metallic green ink, gold Piff coins, sandwich cards and even some stickers. I really want to make it to $50k so we can produce some tiny Mr Piffles’! The dream!
I worked with Claire Blackledge, an artist in the uk, who has created all of my branding and images. She started on these t-shirts (attached) and I loved them so much I got in touch with her and asked her to do more. Read the rest
The Invisible Deck is one of my favorite trick decks because the effect is simple and stunning. It blows people’s minds.
Take a look at this video above of David Blaine using the deck on a man in the street.
As you can see in the video, Blaine walks up to a man and hands him a deck of cards, which are in a closed card box. While the man is holding the deck, Blaine asks the man to visualize a card in the deck, and to imagine it turning over in the deck.
The man says “ten of diamonds.”
“Check this out,” say Blaine, taking the deck from the man and removing the cards from the box. He fans out the cards. All of them are face up but one: the ten of diamonds. The man is visibly stunned.
“That is unbelievable. That is just terrific. How’d you do that? How’d you do that? It’s so mind boggling I don’t even know what to say about it.”
I used the Invisible deck on my friend and he had a similar reaction. He told me the next day that he was up all night trying to figure out how I did it. (Of course I didn’t tell him.)
I have written a book about making trick card decks (available soon!) that will include instructions for making an invisible deck. If you don't want to wait, you can buy an Invisible Deck from Amazon for under $10.
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Dots Impossible ($10) is another trick that fooled eagle-eyed, always suspicious Carla. I fanned a packet of six cards, face down, and told her to pick one and put it face down on the table. Then I showed her the faces of the other five cards. Each had a large red dot. I asked her to flip over her selected card - it had a blue dot. I repeated the trick. No matter which card she picked, it was the odd one out.
This trick uses a simple but effective sleight which is very easy to learn.
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With this deck of cards, you can ask a spectator to name a card, then riffle the cards to play a flip-book movie that ends with a little cartoon character pulling the named card out of a hat. The judges of Britain's Got Talent seemed impressed, even the mean guy. You can get the deck for $9 including shipping on Amazon.
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I sort of have a love affair with beautiful boxes and my friends and family know it. Recently, I received a couple of wonderful trick boxes from a new friend, Marcel. He ordered them for me from a company called Hakone Maruyama Inc.
Each of these trick boxes has a secret for you to discover in order to get it open. This brown one, in which they call “Small box 4”, took me about 20 minutes to crack.
It was very satisfying.
This lighter one is called “Small box 5” and it is devious. It took me an hour and a half to open and it was worth every minute.
Over time, I definitely will be picking up a few more.
Thank you for the box, Marcel! Read the rest