The Jerx Year Two

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David Kaplan
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The Jerx Year Two

Postby David Kaplan » December 10th, 2016, 7:28 am

Great news: The Jerx Year Two has met its subscriber goal! Publishing begins January 9th. If you haven't yet subscribed, maybe you should: http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/10/30/coming-soon

-- David (No connection to Andy, or idea who he is.)

Joe Mckay
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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » December 10th, 2016, 9:21 am

Great news!

Seems Andy is in the running for Book of the Year on the Cafe as well. haha

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?topic=631039&forum=110

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Evan Shuster » December 10th, 2016, 11:22 am

Excellent! I'm really looking forward to another year.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » January 2nd, 2017, 6:04 pm

A week to lift off...

Before Andy starts off with Season Two - I will share something I find interesting.

I am not sure how many of you were regular readers of Andy's first blog (which was about 12-13 years ago)? But I remember Andy reaching this zen like mindset (seemingly inspired by Henry Thoreau's 'Walden') where his entire repertoire consisted of just a single magic trick.

It was Bill Goldman's Little Bunny's Card Trick. A self-working card revelation that uses a children's book and takes place in the spectator's hands.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0prAVF_p7ZA

It is quite a change from today when Andy is sharing tons of magical routines. And recommending that amateurs have a repertoire of around 100 effects.

I always liked that zen like mindset though. I am often tempted to cut through everything and just focus on a single trick. A bit like Dan Tsukalis did with the Miracle Coin Board. A common piece of advice in magic is to find one trick or move and do it better than anyone else in the world.

Here is David Copperfield discussing Dan's ability with that trick:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RegufcG6KrY

And you can see David demonstrate the trick here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqanfNI-iuU

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 2nd, 2017, 6:09 pm

Danny Tsukalis did the Xylo Board at a level of expertise that I have seen few magicians reach with anything.
As his Alzheimer's got worse, he couldn't remember most things, but he could still do the Xylo Board.

Contrary to David's recollection. Danny had a wide repertoire that he performed over the counter at Macy's. I can remember the following items:
1. Nickels to Dimes
2. Xylo Board
3. Svengali Deck
4. Bunny Paddle (Robbins E-Z Magic make)
5. Wild Card
6. Goldin Color Changing Silk

And I'm pretty sure he did the Egg Bag as well, again supplied by D. Robbons.

To all of these items he had his own amazing routines and touches. I can still do the Bunny Paddle routine.
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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby performer » January 2nd, 2017, 6:51 pm

I don't recommend focusing on a single trick. It can drive you crazy.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » January 2nd, 2017, 7:06 pm

haha - isn't that the plot of Catch 22?

You can't be crazy if you know you are crazy.

Brad Henderson
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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Brad Henderson » January 2nd, 2017, 9:54 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Danny Tsukalis did the Xylo Board at a level of expertise that I have seen few magicians reach with anything.
As his Alzheimer's got worse, he couldn't remember most things, but he could still do the Xylo Board.

Contrary to David's recollection. Danny had a wide repertoire that he performed over the counter at Macy's. I can remember the following items:
1. Nickels to Dimes
2. Xylo Board
3. Svengali Deck
4. Bunny Paddle (Robbins E-Z Magic make)
5. Wild Card
6. Goldin Color Changing Silk

And I'm pretty sure he did the Egg Bag as well, again supplied by D. Robbons.

To all of these items he had his own amazing routines and touches. I can still do the Bunny Paddle routine.


would love to see these written up.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby erdnasephile » January 2nd, 2017, 11:58 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:
To all of these items he had his own amazing routines and touches. I can still do the Bunny Paddle routine.


Perhaps we might see it in a future Genii Speaks, please?

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby performer » January 3rd, 2017, 5:28 am

I have pitched the Bunny Paddle thing on occasion. I don't really like it but I have used it as a giveaway item with the svengali deck as part of what we call " a lump up" in the business. In other words a bit of a a package deal. In other words you demonstrate the svengali deck and lump the bastards up with a load of other dreck to go with it. It makes it look like they are getting a bargain.

Naturally nobody can do the tricks I sell and I feel quite good about that. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night if I thought people were getting value for money. One does have to protect the secrets of magic after all and I always make sure the instructions are quite incomprehensible.

Here is an example and I am actually doing the bunny thing here. The whole thing was put together by our talented member Brian Douglas:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JxwujHN0w7s

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » January 9th, 2017, 7:22 am

Heads up y'all - Andy is now back for another year.

Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen.

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2017/1/8/welcome-back

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Jack Shalom » January 13th, 2017, 10:10 am


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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 13th, 2017, 12:01 pm

Latest post = David Berglas. Different trick, different time, same idea behind it. Do one trick that the spectator will remember for the rest of her life.
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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 13th, 2017, 2:25 pm

Yes, he is quite thought-provoking; makes you re-examine magic from outside your normal perspective. His approach jibes with what I have been focusing on, especially during the last year or so: applied psychology. In other words, seeking to understand how the lay audience members think, what is important to them, interesting, intriguing, meaningful, profound, impossible, and approaching presentation from that standpoint. The point Andy made concerning when a magician says, "Take a card," is on the money. They do not know that you are ultimately going to do a revelation that is beyond all conception. They immediately relegate it to the trite, hackneyed tricks they've seen all their lives - and in their minds, it's just the same old trick - so you're defeated before you start. I remember back some 20 years ago when I was performing walk-around at Club Colette in Palm Beach. I asked a gentleman wearing a white dinner jacket to select a card - even did a nice spread flourish as eye candy. He looked at me blandly, and said, "I've seen that one," and just walked away. I have never started a card trick since by asking a spectator to pick a card...

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » January 13th, 2017, 4:07 pm

Yeah - David Berglas is an interesting shout out from Richard. I really enjoyed Andy's post today and will give my thoughts on it soon. But I just want to go on a detour discussing David Berglas' approach to magic. Long post to follow - sorry!

I remember reading about some crazy stuff Berglas used to do.

Such as causing time itself to stop in the middle of London. He did this on live TV and the camera would cut to traffic suddenly stopping and even cyclists being frozen in time. I am sure I saw a clip of this once.

Or a transposition effect (with something like a cheque book and a passport) that took place over hundreds of miles.

At parties he would secretly prepare an apple in bottle so he could leave the spectator with an "impossible object" (you can prepare these buy hooking a glass bottle over the branch of an apple tree and waiting a few weeks for an apple to grow into the bottle).

He had the mindset of always being on the look-out for potential miracles that could be taken advantage of. One of the best examples of this was when he was visiting Iceland and would command geysters to suddenly shoot out water.

David Berglas has always had a unique brand of magic. Miracles, strong stage mentalism effects, dynamic performances and an offbeat approach to achieving seeming miracles with a deck of cards. Barrie Richardson once said that David Berglas performing 'Think A Card' was his favourite trick in magic. Not to mention the times he was completely fooled by The Berglas Effect. My sense with Berglas is that as well as creating miracles for laypeople - he also wanted to cultivate a reputation (through stories and rumours) for miracles amongst magicians as well.

David had a legendary pickpocket act as well and one occasion his stage presence was so commanding he was able to cure a woman of her disabilities using hypnosis.

I was always interested in his 'Roulette System'. He was able to use the law of large numbers (most patterns in maths take a long time to show up) and sheer bluff to achieve the mathematically impossible.

I once wrote about this on The Conjure Nation - and will share it here since I think this approach opens the door to some unique effects in magic

------------------------------------

And this brings me to David Berglas' Roulette Stack. His stack is pretty much just the 'Labouchere System'.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labouchere_system

David Berglas' Roulette Stack does not work - but it works enough for us to try and create the impossible.

His gambling system may be a mathematical dud. It is based on the idea of winning a little - and often. With the occasional massive loss - which leaves you with even less money than you started out with.

Not good enough to make a living in a casino. But good enough to offer our spectators a glimpse of some "arcane knowledge on a need to know basis".

David Berglas says that the demonstration of his gambling system is often the most powerful thing he does. Even though it isn't a magic trick. Instead it is something else that adds a whole other dimension to his reputation as a Man of Mystery.

What could be cooler than sharing with your spectator a workable gambling system? In David Berglas' case (and Karl Fulves - see below) - he demonstrates his system with a shuffled deck of cards. Which he deals off one at a time - as he has a spectator keep track of his running win/loss total with a pen and paper.

I think this is really interesting thinking. And it is interesting to note that Karl Fulves took this approach in an old issue of SWINDLE SHEET. You can call it 'Cheating at Cheating' (for you IBIDEM fans).

There is something really cool about being able to end a series of magic tricks - by hinting at a world of underground knowledge like this. Derren Brown believes that in magic - the trick is not the effect. But instead the real effect is the impression of yourself that you leave with the people you have performed for. And chucking in a piece of gambling sophistry like this is a really clever way of adding intrigue and allure to your persona.

As with the earlier post [this is from a thread called Pseudo Methods for Impossible Effects] - it is an example of a pseudo-method which brings us within touching distance of achieving something truly impossible. In this case defeating the laws of mathematics when it comes to the game of roulette.

I remember when Derren Brown predicted the winning numbers for the National Lottery here in the UK (prize of around 20 million dollars). Derren Brown did this during a live performance on TV - and showed his successful prediction seconds after the lottery results had being announced on TV.

He then told the viewers that he would explain how he did it - two days later.

This resulted in a lot of press coverage in the UK.

As it happens - Derren Brown used some lame camera trickery to pull off his trick. But the method he taught the public was completely different. It had a number of elements - that seemed half believable to those who believe that Derren Brown is a true manipulator of minds.

And on top of all that - Derren chucked in 'The Wisdom of Crowds' and 'The Penney Paradox' as a way of adding mathematical smoke to the cod explanation he was selling the public.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcYnlSenF04

Again - I really like this type of thinking. In order to disguise the mundane method (camera tricks) he used to achieve a genuinely impossible effect (predicting the National Lottery) - he offers up a pseudo method which seems believable enough to really confuse matters. At least with some of those watching...

How does this apply to David Berglas' Roulette System? Well - before going into a demonstration of his system - I would start with a couple of phases of 'Miraskill' by Stewart James - as a way of hinting to the audience that you have uncovered an unusual mathematical quirk which allows you to beat the game of roulette.

Anyway - that is my thinking in this area. What do you guys feel about the David Berglas roulette system. Sure - it doesn't work from a mathematical point of view. But - over the short run - you will tend to make a small profit much more often than you will make a loss. And that run of wins could be enough to make for a powerful performance piece.

Unless there are any mathematical/gambling nerds in the audience.

Recently I heard an interview with Derren Brown over on the (excellent) Magicians' podcast:

http://magicianspodcast.podbean.com/e/e ... ren-brown/

And if you go to the 39:20 minds mark - you can hear Derren Brown explain why the original ending for the 'Predicting The National Lottery' TV special had to be ditched at the last minute. I always felt the ending that was broadcast was not the real ending that Derren had planned. So it was interesting hearing this story.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 13th, 2017, 4:13 pm

The Roulette System has been thoroughly discredited. I did not want to include it in the book, and someone else wrote that bit because I wouldn't. Including it was a mistake I've regretted, but I had to pick my battles with David and that one wasn't worth the energy.
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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » January 13th, 2017, 4:23 pm

I was delighted you included it. I was always curious about the story behind it. It played a big part in adding to the mystique surrounding David Berglas.

Berglas was good friends with Uri Geller as well which rather suggests he has always had a different outlook on magic compared to most magicians.

Here is a comment from Derren Brown from The Magic Cafe discussing the roulette system:

I had dinner with Berglas recently which was utterly, utterly delightful (I was honoured to be taken through his Roulette system).

And even though the system does not actually work - I still feel the system he has works well enough over the short term that you can give the impression to a spectator that you have uncovered some kind of esoteric mathematical system. And that is more interesting than just about anything else you can show a spectator. Even David said that demonstrating his "roulette system" was always the standout moment of his informal shows.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 13th, 2017, 5:00 pm

@ Joe McKay: "...And even though the [Roulette] system does not actually work - I still feel the system he has works well enough over the short term that you can give the impression to a spectator that you have uncovered some kind of esoteric mathematical system. And that is more interesting than just about anything else you can show a spectator."

I believe that this is entirely consistent with the point of my earlier post. And an analysis of the reason(s) why it is more interesting than (let's say, at least) most magic tricks and routines that are typically performed should provide a superb guidepost to dramatically heightening the entertainment value and intrigue of what we offer to our audiences.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » January 13th, 2017, 6:04 pm

One of the problems of magic is that the most interesting part (the method) is hidden from the spectators.

As such - whenever you can let them peak behind the scenes - it will be a rewarding experience for the spectator. And in that context - I cannot imagine anything more compelling than being taught an (apparently working) roulette system. So I give a lot of credit to David Berglas for exploring this idea.

I remember Michael Close saying that every magician should be an expert in something other than magic. And this is a philosophy worth considering for magicians since the type of person who is an expert in magic should also be the type of person who is also an expert in other things. Even if those things (such as gambling) are still related to magic in some way.

All of this reminds me of one of my favourite TV commercials:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZ-K0Tl8a_Y

As for Andy's latest post - it is one of his best yet. Although I seem to say that about most of the things he writes. I am such a fanboi.

Still - I was super happy to see his latest post. I am one of those magicians he mentions. I have zero interest in impressing people or boosting my social status. Or using magic to try and make friends and influence people. Or seduce women for that matter. Just to tick all the boxes.

And since it is not something I earn money from either (a perfectly valid reason for performing) - it is often hard to figure out what motivation I would have to perform more?

One that often came to mind was if I was unusually creative at inventing magic. In that instance - performing magic as a way to test out new ideas would be a rewarding experience. Alas my creative skills amount to one crappy trick in MAGIC magazine that was so bad that Josh Jay quit his column the following month.

I often toyed with the idea of making use of Bizarre Magick as a performance vehicle. Not because that is my thing. But because one possible framework for magic that can be effective is scaring the crap out of people. But even that is something that only really grabs me as a fun concept when Halloween comes round. That said - I am tempted to start an annual tradition along these lines. Maybe I am misrembering this but I think Steve Bryant did a similar thing as well. Luckily I have some friends who died in truly tragic circumstances that I can use as the focus for any Seance type effects.

Now the reason I love Andy's latest post is because this is a subject I (and it seems a few others) have raised with him. Andy is unusually creative - so simply testing out his ideas always seemed a good reason for him to want to perform. But I was always interested in what other motivations he might have for performing, and whether or not that was something that other magicians could adopt as well?

Since like me - the usual reasons for doing magic don't appeal to Andy either.

Well - I think Andy has done a good job in setting out a new path in his latest post. It chimes a bit with one of his earliest posts:

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2015/6/24/the-purpose-of-magic-in-the-early-21st-century

Whenever the discussion of 'Is Magic an Ar?' pops up - I often find myself dragged into the discussion. When I think about all the ways one can be moved artistically - it seems to me that other art forms do a better job at doing it. But as Andy points out in his latest post - the creation of a unique experience is something that is uniquely suited to magic.

Listening to the violin is ultimately listening to the violin.

Looking at a painting is ultimately just looking at a painting.

Reading a novel is ultimately just reading a novel.

Whereas with magic - the goal is so abstract and loosely defined (creating the impossible) that there are countless ways to achieve this goal. Each one with the potential to feel like a totally different experience. In the way that other types of art cannot quite make themselves feel like a fundamentally unique experience each time you experience it.

I remember Jamy Ian Swiss, in a lecture, once saying that the goal of magic was to create a memory today that would last a lifetime. That can certainly be achieved by performing world class magic. But what Andy is sharing is not the idea of performing strong magic and hoping it will be memorable. But trying to visualise what would be a powerful and memorable experience. And then trying to use magic to work backwards from that finish - so that the magic trick can be used to tie the whole experience together.

And this is something that only magic can really offer. Particularly when you consider that magic is one of the few arts in which the spectator can directly participate in it.

Andy's thinking in this area is incredibly useful to me...

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 13th, 2017, 6:48 pm

I remember back in the nineties when I was a performer at (what was then) Malone's Magic Bar at the Boca Raton Resort and Beach Club. It was the only bar in the hotel at that time and there were tons of corporate meetings that took place on the property. So after the day's business, the corporate guests would often flood the bar looking to unwind. There were several televisions in there with various sporting events (e.g.mainly professional and collegiate football, baseball, basketball). There were some fine magicians that worked at the bar too, from all the over the country (in truth, most significantly more skilled and/or experienced than I was at that time). One thing that always got to the magicians was that if there was a major sports event on TV, many of the patrons seemed more interested in watching the game than watching magic, particularly if it was a team that an individual was a fan of. For a time, this baffled me and I used to contemplate, "Hmmm, if I could just figure out what it is about those games that attract, even magnetize, people and somehow apply it to my magic..."

My conclusion was that they had a stake in the game. They identified emotionally with a team and in a sense it was their alter-ego. If the team won, then they won and felt great about it. Yes, ego-based to be sure, but a reality nonetheless. As for those people who just loved watching sports even if their team wasn't involved, I thought, well maybe it's just that they can kick back and relax and enjoy the drama of a competition. They could be mindless, have fun, and not worry about being fooled or made a fool of - and I think there are a substantial number of people who spurn magic for just that reason.

All of which leads to the question - or should lead us to the question when we perform for people: "What's in it for THEM?" Is the "pay-off" merely that they get to see how clever we are and that we can baffle them? It seems that Andy and others are asking this question in earnest these days. I know I am. Recently, I created a routine which I call "The Magical Game Show." It consists of getting a spectator to be the contestant with a chance to win one dollar in cash, which I put on the table. (Yes, I know, I am the last of the big spenders). The spectator wins if he/she can identify the "winning card" out of five cards placed face up in a row on the table. The routine is constructed so that after suitable by-play, the spectator ALWAYS wins, no matter which card is selected. They are very surprised when it is proven, in a very surprising way, that they have excellent intuition and have selected the winning card; and there is some nice visual magic that occurs inside the routine, as well.

People are loving this routine. It dogs any 4-ace trick I have ever done in terms of spectator interest and reaction. It is an event, a game which has a theme, some drama, and in which they have a stake in the outcome - even if it's to see whether their friend or family member will win. And when they do, and get the dollar, they are as pleased as punch. While I do come off as looking clever, that is not the theme or raison d'être of the routine. The focus is on them. It has Vernon's "emotional hook." And it's not so bad that there has turned out to be a pay-off for me too. It has single-handedly more than doubled the ordinary tips I have received from regulars at the bar. Not a bad investment all the way around...

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Scott M. » January 15th, 2017, 2:00 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:Listening to the violin is ultimately listening to the violin.

Looking at a painting is ultimately just looking at a painting.

Reading a novel is ultimately just reading a novel.


I liked Andy's latest post a lot too, but a small quibble with the above, which is that there are experimenters in all arts who are making their art forms experiences -- and, yes, even novelists. I'd align some of what Andy is doing -- which links particularly to immersive (or experiential or interactive) theater -- to these developments in the other arts. One person to check out here is the conceptual artist Tino Sehgal.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby erdnasephile » January 16th, 2017, 7:45 am

I finally decided to see what all the plaudits were about and read the latest post, "Young Reckless Hearts."

I know that the Jerx has a lot of fans here, so I'm somewhat reticent to post a respectful dissent. However, for discussion sake, here goes:

1. It seems that the method of the trick is rather transparent to me personally. I felt the line from effect to solution was so straight that an intelligent spectator wouldn't be too far wrong if they thought about it a bit.

At first, I thought perhaps I was just thinking only like a magician, so I gave the scenario to an intelligent layperson (not my spouse) and she said the following: "Don't magicians sometimes influence people to take certain cards?" (Ding!) "He could have torn a card exactly the same to make the corners match." (Ding!) and "He just planted an old lunch box himself before the trick." (Ding! Ding! Ding!)

It's certainly possible that I'm not being fair to the effect by taking it out of it's setting and circumstance. (Dark night, hometown, nostalgia). I get that--after all, the Jerx's stated ethos is the desire to give memorable life experiences. However, IMHO, the conviction of the method does not reach the level it needs to to back up it's claims.

2. I'm afraid I found the scenario just a bit creepy. Essentially, the author sets out to impress an attractive old flame, who is married herself. He constructs a event where he gets her "tipsy", they wind up alone in a car in the dark, and he flirts with her (and she flirts back). To top it off, he ends with a trick that tries to remind her of how he was crushing on her at one time. In fact, to go to all that trouble to impress, it implies that he still is, and is also trying to recapture his own youth. When stripped down, it reads somewhat like a geek fantasy, and perhaps even a little sad.

Honestly, after I read the post, this was the first thing I thought of:




Summary:
I could be completely wrong about all this, as the Jerx approach clearly appeals to many, including to some of those I very much respect.

However, although I build in emotional hooks in my presentations, one of the key goals of my magic is to fool people badly and deeply. Not just at the time of the show, but (to paraphrase Whit Hadyn), I want them to hurt themselves continually as they ponder what happened later. If I sense a trick will start to unravel in the bright morning light, with sober, fresh faculties, I keep working on it until it won't--either that, or it doesn't make it in front of people. Without fooling the audience, there is no magic, IMHO.

Secondly, when watching a magician, if something seems illogical within the bounds of an effect (i.e., the corner of a new card matching an old appearing card--why? An "old" appearing deck with paper that feels new--why?) or if I feel the performer is trying too hard to manipulate my feelings, it puts a bug in my ear that won't quit. It breaks the spell, causing me to remember the experience as sub-optimal.

Obviously, others process things differently, and I'm glad for that because the world would be poorer for it if we all thought the same. Clearly, the spectator in the scenario felt differently. However, I wonder what she felt the day after. How did her husband feel? Did the friends she would tell about this think this was a sweet gesture, or an cheesy attempt to recapture a lost moment in time? But then, does it matter? The trick was clearly for an audience of one, so I suppose that's all that's the key in the end.

I recognize the approach I've taken with magic is probably an anathema to the author (and to others as well). I want my magic to appeal to people who think critically because if I fool them, chances are good that I'll get the others as well. However, my preferences have little bearing on how effective others can (and will) be in providing experiences. It's ultimately just a choice. I believe yours are superior to mine when it comes to you and your audiences.

Again, I mean no disrespect--just wanted to offer a few thoughts. (Let the flames begin! ;) )

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Bill Mullins » January 16th, 2017, 10:04 am

erdnasephile wrote: I know that the Jerx has a lot of fans here,


I think it is more that he has a small number of fans, some of whom are pretty intense about it.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Richard Kaufman » January 16th, 2017, 11:17 am

Yes, coming on to married women iis creepy.
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Anthony Vinson
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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Anthony Vinson » January 16th, 2017, 11:24 am

erdnasephile wrote:I finally decided to see what all the plaudits were about and read the latest post, "Young Reckless Hearts."

Again, I mean no disrespect--just wanted to offer a few thoughts. (Let the flames begin! ;) )


Whew! And here I thought it was just me. Since I respect erdnasephile's opinions and musings, I consider myself in good company. I mean, while I appreciate Andy's writing style, my feelings about the "trick" he described mirrored erdnasephile's.

I mean no disrespect either; to each his own!

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Steve Mills » January 16th, 2017, 1:37 pm

erdnasephile wrote:.......

I recognize the approach I've taken with magic is probably an anathema to the author (and to others as well). I want my magic to appeal to people who think critically because if I fool them, chances are good that I'll get the others as well. However, my preferences have little bearing on how effective others can (and will) be in providing experiences. It's ultimately just a choice. I believe yours are superior to mine when it comes to you and your audiences.

Again, I mean no disrespect--just wanted to offer a few thoughts. (Let the flames begin! ;) )


I enjoy Andy, but I do think his best days were the old MCJ blog. Despite the unnecessary language, some of it was brilliant.

I assume you will be accused of thinking like a magician. There's nothing wrong with that. We lost a lot of people last year, including the last person fooled by a change bag. The things you worry about, should be concerns of many more magicians, in my opinion.

People aren't fooled nearly as often as many magicians want to think. Fooling intelligent people is tough - damn tough. If you're not fooling them, then it's not magic as far as I'm concerned.
Let him rave, that men may know him mad.Yul Brynner as Rameses II

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Brad Jeffers
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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Brad Jeffers » January 16th, 2017, 4:28 pm

Is anyone here of the opinion that some of Andy's anecdotes concerning his one-off performances may be apocryphal?

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Scott M. » January 16th, 2017, 4:53 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:Is anyone here of the opinion that some of Andy's anecdotes concerning his one-off performances may be apocryphal?


I have always thought that. In fact, for a long time, when I first started reading his blog, I took it as almost entirely satiric. It took a little while to figure out its larger purpose.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » January 16th, 2017, 11:35 pm

Thanks to erdnasephile for his intelligent contribution. He is one of my favourite posters on the forum.

This style of presentation is definitely a tricky one to pull off. Particularly for somebody as naturally creepy as me. And it is an important point that things like this can easily be misinterpreted the next day or when the story is recounted to others. I doubt Andy is as fat and creepy as I am - so I assume he is in a position where this works for him.

I imagine (from his stories) he has a reputation amongst those who know him for pulling off ambitious magic tricks. So he is probably given leeway to try out things like this. Particularly since his social group seems to be made up of a lot of "creative" types who work in different ares of the arts and the media.

But the wider point about Andy's work is one of the classic questions in magic that most magicians consider at one point or another. What else are we trying to offer spectators other than the feeling of being fooled?

Like many people - this is something I only seriously thought about after seeing the work of Penn & Teller. And in particular - the lengthy interview that ran with them over a couple of issues in GENII back in the mid-nineties.

Penn & Teller's answer to these concerns are the best I have seen in magic. Which makes sense since they are geniuses. But as much as I take inspiration from their work - I always had two stumbling blocks when trying to follow their example.

1) The Penn & Teller style of magic is designed for a formal presentation on stage. And that style of presentation feels odd when transposed to an informal close-up situation. A good example of how jarring this can be comes from the work of Tommy Wonder. This was discussed on a different forum and below I will quote what Jeff Hass said. Since he perfectly put into words the issues I had with this performance:

https://youtu.be/ki_M-LkjfRE?t=2m38s

The problem is that it's a theatrical conceit in a closeup situation. It would be one thing if he was on stage and was clearly launching into a new piece, it's another when you're supposed to be having a conversation and then suddenly the performer is "on" and the script takes over.

I remember Ricky Jay ran into the same thing on Letterman once - he did one of his routines sitting at the desk with Dave, instead of just talking with him and showing him something.


If you ever see P&T on a chat show. They usually resort to more conventional magical moments. Perhaps with a surprise ending. But not with anywhere near the same level of artistic intent as you see in their stage work. Indeed - in recent years - they often skip the surprise ending (the one of Teller using contact lenses to show the 3 of Clubs) and just run with a (quite mundane) card trick:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nUau3gTgSII

2) Unlike P&T - I am not a magic genius. So as much as I love P&T - I don't think I could ever hope to achieve with magic the same level of art and impact they have with theirs.

-----------------

Now - fooling people with magic is certainly a fundamental part of magic. And should not be dismissed. It is definitely a lot harder than it looks. I remember Guy Hollingworth saying that just because something is for sale in a magic shop doesn't mean it is a good magic trick. Magicians often fall victim to the idea that because something exists as a "magic trick" - it will work as a magic trick, in the sense of fooling laypeople. Since laypeople know so little about magic that something that impresses a magician enough to want to buy it - should also be able to fool laypeople without any worries.

When the truth is that designing a magic trick that profoundly fools somebody and leaves no room for explanation is a very serous business. And one that most magic tricks fall short of attempting. And to be honest - just focusing on fooling people in an entertaining way will certainly be enough to leave most people with an experience they will treasure and remember. Laypeople often have no idea how powerful magic performed live, in the flesh, is compared to what they see on TV. And providing them with that surprise can be a rewarding experience.

Now - there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to performing magic. Personally - I like the Paul Harris approach of just casually sharing a magic trick in the middle of a social interaction, not making a big deal out of it and then moving on to some other conversational topic. A bit like if you spent a couple of minutes folding a cool piece of origami from a dollar bill and then gave it away before moving on to discuss something else. When you make very little out of a magic trick - it slips into the wider context of just being a cool friend to hang out with. So the impact of the trick just melts into the larger context of a social encounter.

And I also find Andy's approach appealing as well. It is an approach which is almost the complete opposite of the Paul Harris approach above. Although - Andy does have an approach which is similar to the Paul Harris one. In the sense of downplaying the magic and making it an incidental part of the wider experience of a couple of friends hanging out. Sometimes downplaying something is a good way to take the pressure off the spectator in order to allow them to interpret the moment how they want.

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/10/11/four-ways-to-vanish-a-coin-part-two

Andy is more famous for his "magic as an adventure" type presentations. But some of these are easier to pull off than others. For instance his handling of The Sands effect:

http://forums.geniimagazine.com/viewtopic.php?t=47945

Although I guess the above is really something that fits in more with the sort of miracles that David Berglas would often set up ahead of time. Andy's work in this area often slides from a David Berglas style miracle to a fun effect which takes the spectator on a journey that may take place over a few hours or even a few days.

Some of Andy's thinking in this area is wildly ambitious. And I can understand the potential pitfalls. But what I take from Andy's work is that he has found an interesting answer to the age old question of what else we should aim for in magic other than fooling somebody? And it is one that is designed with the casual performer in mind which is not the case with most of the other magicians whose work inspires me.

It is nice to have other people in this thread disagreeing with me. And it certainly makes a nice change from my continual fanboi postings. So I thank erdnasephile (and others) for being prepared to jump in and express their contrary opinions.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Bill Mullins » January 17th, 2017, 12:47 am

Joe Mckay wrote: it is one that is designed with the casual performer in mind


There is nothing "casual" about Young Restless Hearts.

And while I'm not a regular reader of The Jerx, I (like Brad Jeffers) have often assumed a certain amount of apocryphal-ness to some of what he writes about. I think of them more as thought-experiment set pieces than actual descriptions of something that really happened. That doesn't mean I think any less of the thinking behind them, though.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » January 17th, 2017, 12:55 am

By "casual" - I mean magic that is not performed in a formal situation, ie. parlour, stage or a formal close-up show. I need to tighten up on my writing skills!

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby magicam » January 18th, 2017, 9:32 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Latest post = David Berglas. Different trick, different time, same idea behind it. Do one trick that the spectator will remember for the rest of her life.

Actually, latest post = substantially the same effect apparently done by Cagliostro, down to the personal effects, rusty old box, and discovering same underneath a tree. Andy's concept is tardy by 220+ years ...

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Jack Shalom » January 23rd, 2017, 2:34 pm

Okay, last time, I promise, that I'll talk up a Jerx post. Today's is pretty interesting for those who find it interesting. Will not be interesting for those who don't find it interesting.

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2017/1/22/rest-in-pieces

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Re: RE: Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Chris Aguilar » January 23rd, 2017, 4:23 pm

Jack Shalom wrote:.... Will not be interesting for those who don't find it interesting.

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2017/1/22/rest-in-pieces


A friend is visiting your place.

"Oh, would you do me a favor?" you ask. You bring out a small box the size of a bible, wrapped in brown paper. "Would you hold onto this for me until Sunday?"

She agrees and asks what it is.

"Uhh... this is going to sound lame," you say.

Agreed.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby performer » January 23rd, 2017, 4:40 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:Is anyone here of the opinion that some of Andy's anecdotes concerning his one-off performances may be apocryphal?


I never thought of that! You are probably right!

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Brad Henderson » January 23rd, 2017, 4:51 pm

at least one person has made the comparison to the largely literary movement that was the foundation for much of the bizarre magic literature.

'as Doc Shadow and I were sitting in the study sipping port, there was a knock on tne door. It was our friend Inspector Truzzi, he had an odd shaped package tucked under his arm. He was white as a ghost. . . "

old wine

new bottles.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby anonymousmagician » January 31st, 2017, 2:49 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:at least one person has made the comparison to the largely literary movement that was the foundation for much of the bizarre magic literature.

'as Doc Shadow and I were sitting in the study sipping port, there was a knock on tne door. It was our friend Inspector Truzzi, he had an odd shaped package tucked under his arm. He was white as a ghost. . . "

old wine

new bottles.


Nice connection! There is a rather Poe-esque slant to some of Andy's performance plots. I wonder, has anyone gone out and tried any of these ideas?

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby chriswahlers » February 1st, 2017, 10:19 am

I've tried out a couple of the less elaborate ideas from the book with friend and family and they've gone down well. I'm thinking in particular of the presentations and tweaks for out of this world and shuffle-bored which I thought were really simple and effective (and didn't require extreme gluttony or dieting in preparation).

I'm building up to the story deck, but if I'm honest my 3 year old daughter struggled with Andy's variation on Stegosaurus, so I may save that for the grandparents.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Joe Mckay » February 1st, 2017, 11:05 am

In his latest post - I really like that Houdini Water Escape that he teaches (using a stick man, some water and a marker pen).

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2017/1/31/gardyloo-17

That could have been released as a magic download. I am definitely adding that one to my repertoire. Shame the method behind it went viral recently - it is a really fun effect. If you saw it in Martin Gardner's Encyclopedia of Impromptu Magic - it would be a highlight of the book.

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Re: The Jerx Year Two

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 1st, 2017, 1:31 pm

Those markers and plastic cards are not exactly on-hand most places
though if that's what you carry... wonderful
or perhaps in this case, cheers?
:)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time


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