The Jerx Year Three

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David Kaplan
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The Jerx Year Three

Postby David Kaplan » October 7th, 2017, 8:08 am

Great news for followers of The Jerx: Andy's latest post, Harvest Time, confirms that he'll be back for another year. Meanwhile, The Jerx Year Two still has several months to run.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Joe Mckay » October 7th, 2017, 1:14 pm

That is great news.

Of course - it all depends on enough people signing up for another year!

I am confident it will be achieved again this time round. But I am always nervous. I would be devastated at the idea of the blog ending. It is not just that Andy's writing is so much fun (and useful). But also that he some crazy creativity skills when it comes to creating magic as well. This is a side to his work that even Andy doesn't seem to be aware he has a gift for.

Andy made a joke about upping the prices for next year to a thousand bucks. To keep the blog exclusive to die-hard fans.

I thought for a couple of seconds - and said, 'Yeah - I can go to that level'. Alas, it was a joke.

I think his offering is one of the biggest bargains in the history of magic. About three months ago - there was an issue of JAMM that had the two strongest tricks I have ever come across in magic. Not a bad deal for ten bucks...

I love Andy's work. Although I almost have to fight against my instincts to do so. Since I am one of those magicians who became interested in magic for mostly the wrong reasons. In that I am fascinated by every side of magic except the performing side of it. But alas - Andy has opened my eyes to that side as well. This isn't just strong magic you can perform. But strong magic you are compelled to perform since the concepts involved are so inherently interesting and fun.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby PapaG » October 7th, 2017, 2:19 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:Andy made a joke about upping the prices for next year to a thousand bucks. To keep the blog exclusive to die-hard fans.

I thought for a couple of seconds - and said, 'Yeah - I can go to that level'. Alas, it was a joke.




Please don't tempt him.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Jonathan Townsend » October 9th, 2017, 12:17 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:...
I love Andy's work. Although I almost have to fight against my instincts to do so...


He got my vote with the commentary about counting. You can see where that went on another thread.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby PapaG » October 11th, 2017, 8:07 am

Absolutely fascinating material on today's Jerx post.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby performer » October 11th, 2017, 8:39 am

deleted for duplication
Last edited by performer on October 11th, 2017, 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby performer » October 11th, 2017, 8:39 am

Yes. Fascinating nonsense. This guy knows very little about magic or how to go about doing it. Sorry.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby PapaG » October 11th, 2017, 9:55 am

performer wrote:Yes. Fascinating nonsense. This guy knows very little about magic or how to go about doing it. Sorry.



What's your issue with the findings?

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby performer » October 11th, 2017, 10:27 am

You only have to read it.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby PapaG » October 11th, 2017, 1:47 pm

performer wrote:You only have to read it.


Come on, you can't get off that lightly.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby performer » October 11th, 2017, 2:16 pm

In that case it is best to read the other thread.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Jack Shalom » November 20th, 2017, 9:20 am


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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Joe Mckay » November 20th, 2017, 12:00 pm

In the post above, Andy touches on the Gilbreath Principle:

This technique is an easy way to generate very intriguing implied methods. Let me put an example into Magician-ese. If I said, "I have a trick I want to show you. It's kind of based on the Gilbreath principle, but it starts with a borrowed, shuffled deck that I never touch." Now you have to try and wrap your mind around something that's somehow related to the Gilbreath principle but uses a shuffled deck. It essentially doubles the mystery. You have the mystery of the effect and the mystery of the method.

That reminded me of a sneaky Michael Close magician fooler which can be found in the following post:

http://forums.geniimagazine.com/viewtopic.php?t=48263#p332050

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Joe Mckay » December 6th, 2017, 5:07 am

Something different from Andy today. Some interesting thoughts analyzing the concept of "misdirection".

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2017/12/5/redirecting-misdirection

Andy takes issue with Tommy Wonder's discussion of this topic. So this post should be of interest to everyone. I am not sure if Andy is fair to Tommy's position since I am sure Tommy makes a distinction between distraction and directing attention. Tommy's idea of misdirection is not some non-sequitur that momentarily distracts from the method. But something that captures the interest of the audience - as a natural part of the routine. I am guessing something as simple as asking a question or having a card signed can provide that moment? I just wanted to put that point here since I am sure it will be something that others will say as well.

Anyway - I really like Andy's post. My first response is to see this not so much as a discussion of "misdirection" but as a useful addition to the "Too Perfect" theory. In this debate you often get magicians saying magic should be as strong as possible. Whilst others feel that it is worth introducing an "imperfection", so as to draw the mind of the spectator away from the method. And Andy's post helps clarify that issue for me. It is worth adding an extra piece of handling to a trick - to draw attention away from the real method so that you can focus the spectator's attention to an area not related to the method. Otherwise all the "heat" will be on the part of the trick where the move/method takes place.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Jonathan Townsend » December 6th, 2017, 9:29 am

It helps to have the audience view "inner script" of what's presented and what's important in mind when designing a routine. Going all the way to "feints" may be overkill unless you also have a character that comes across as engaging/playful.

Observing that a trick's effectiveness (reliable deception - reaction to proffered magical effect) can change when the method relies upon audience credulity (and does not do well under attentive observation)... good idea. The bluff vanish mentioned in Johnsson's article is a good example. That's gonna be a stretch to make work for four coins in a row. But as a way to make a coin penetrate your hand in the middle of a routine... pretty good. :)
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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Q. Kumber » December 6th, 2017, 10:52 am

It would appear to me that those who most like the Jerx' writings are those with an interest in the theory of performance but have little, if any, grasp of real world practical paid performance.

Your misdirection/direction is correct when the audience mentally look back on what's happened and there is nothing even remotely suspicious they can latch on to.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby performer » December 6th, 2017, 12:26 pm

I never judge a magician by the amount of professional work he does. You can still be a wonderful magician even if you don't get paid. The trouble is that I don't think the stuff he writes makes sense for unpaid performances either. Still, I haven't read his latest musings so I shall reserve judgement on it to be fair.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Jack Shalom » December 6th, 2017, 12:40 pm

Q. Kumber wrote:Your misdirection/direction is correct when the audience mentally look back on what's happened and there is nothing even remotely suspicious they can latch on to.


I don't think Andy would disagree; I think his point was that ostentatious attention directing can be the very cause of suspicion that is latched on to. I frankly think his point was kind of elementary and that much more could have been said. In particular here on Genii, there have been some very interesting discussions in the past as to whether a sleight performed in peripheral vision is more suspicious that one performed otherwise.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby performer » December 6th, 2017, 12:47 pm

I haven't read this great wisdom yet but it should be noted that Jean Hugard once pointed out that there are two kinds of misdirection. There is mental misdirection and physical misdirection. A good magician should know how to distract the mind as well as the eyes.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Joe Mckay » December 6th, 2017, 1:25 pm

Yeah - Andy thinks mental misdirection is the key.

Spectators are always going to be suspicious. And that is not going to go away. So it is up to you to direct that suspicion somewhere.

The post resonated with me in terms of The Too Perfect theory. My guess is that one side of the debate has this idea that magic can be "perfect" and the aim should be to make it as strong as possible. Whereas the other side feel that spectators will always be suspicious no matter how strong the magic is. And unless you direct that energy somewhere else - they will backtrack on to the solution by process of elimination. Or - just jump on to a plausible seeming explanation as a way of getting over the mental anguish of being fooled.

A better way - is to direct their thinking so that their suspicions has something to focus on. And then once you have lead them down that garden path, you can turn the hose on them.

I guess this is what Juan Tamariz does with his Theory of False Solutions. But with that he is quite overt in addressing the spectator's suspicions. In that he literally addresses them by raising possible solutions during the trick and then showing them to be false.

A more subtle (and satisfying) strategy is to address the spectator's suspicions in a way that is covertly done. Andy's example with the impression pad is a good one. The magic may seem "more perfect" if you don't touch the billet. But touching the billet allows you to draw heat away from the impression pad where the real method takes place. And leaves them pondering how you were able to "read" the billet with such a momentary touch rather than asking questions that might get them closer to the correct method. Or any method for that matter.

My sense from all this is that the goal of good misdirection to ultimately get the spectator to ask the wrong question. The most fooling tricks always seem to lead the spectator down a path where they focus on the wrong question entirely

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 7th, 2017, 4:54 pm

Someone here needs to go back and reread The Berglas Effects.
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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Tom Stone » December 7th, 2017, 7:08 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:Something different from Andy today. Some interesting thoughts analyzing the concept of "misdirection".

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2017/12/5/redirecting-misdirection

Andy takes issue with Tommy Wonder's discussion of this topic.

No he doesn't.
What he does is to completely misrepresent Tommy's discussion of the topic as its very opposite, and then he takes issue with his own misrepresentation (á la the Strawman fallacy), and finally ends up claiming Tommy's actual conclusions as his own. A pretty [censored] thing to do, in my mind.

I mean... rattling key and setting off fireworks, as examples of Tommy's understanding of misdirection? Is this Jerx guy insane?
That's what Tommy would have called mis-direction, actions that detract from the plot, things that steer outwards, disruptions. Tommy's whole thesis about direction boils down to the idea that when a plot is dramatically sound, it will already inherently contain everything that is necessary for deception and direction. That's what his whole "Mind Movie" essay is about.

The Jerx guy then writes:
-"The type of misdirection I'm recommending is akin to climbing in the window while you're guarding the door."
Yes, you moron! That would be a fairly good example of what Tommy meant. Even more so if you help the people making the door secure. That is direction, encouraging people to keep the attention on what they already put their attention on.
So, all in all, the Jerx guy's "analysis" turns out to be: Don't use the Tommy Wonder approach, use the Tommy Wonder approach...

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Brad Henderson » December 7th, 2017, 7:33 pm

yeah, wonder clearly addresses the issue andy claims is the weakness of direction as one of the weaknesses of misdirection. As tom said, he has completely misrepresented wonder's position.

i wonder (no pun intended) if he is basing his thoughts on having actually read tommy's work or someone else's summary of it.

i think you be hard pressed to read the books of wonder and come away thinking what andy's claims is wonder's position.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Q. Kumber » December 7th, 2017, 9:27 pm

At the FFFF convention this year Howard Hamburg showed me a switch of four cards. His misdirection - both mental and physical - is so strong that he repeated it six times and even though I knew what he was doing my eyes and my mind were taken in every time.

I have many wonderful memories of that weekend, but for me, the highlight was that time spent with Howard. It was a most perfect lesson in misdirection.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Joe Mckay » December 7th, 2017, 9:53 pm

About Tommy Wonder. I always felt he had poor advice when it came to doing impromptu magic. His advice was to pack a bunch of tricks in your pocket. And then wait at a party until somebody needed something. Such as a light for their cigarette or a pen or something. And when you had their attention - you would make it magically appear. You would then transition from that into a mini-show. Literally pulling a rope or some other prop from your pocket.

It always pleased me that Derren Brown - in Absolute Magic - picked on this as being terrible advice as well.

I really liked The Books of Wonder. They are amazing books. But I think Tommy had an attitude towards the presentation of magic that does sit as well with US/English audiences. A perfect example is his scripted presentation for the Tamed Cards which he tries to pull off in the middle of an informal chat show. It is one of the most awkward things I have seen in magic.

https://youtu.be/ki_M-LkjfRE?t=2m37s

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Joe Mckay » December 7th, 2017, 10:01 pm

He does a much better job with this performance on UK TV.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVWUHwLw4vc

It is a nice balance of informal and scripted. It is a structured close-up performance where suddenly shifting to a scripted presentation is not as jarring as it was on the Dutch chat show in the clip before.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby performer » December 7th, 2017, 11:40 pm

In the first video he had what grafters call a "nause". We all have our limitations and his was that he did not know how to handle a "nause". But he is not the only one. I have seen American magicians struggle with obnoxious hosts too, Letterman in particular. The way you handle that is planning beforehand. If you know you are going to be on a TV show where the host has a track record of being a "nause" then you plan beforehand what y your strategy is going to be. And that strategy depends on your own personality and preferences. My point is that you have plenty of time to figure out the correct strategy rather than being caught on the hop when you are on the air.

I can't imagine someone like Paul Daniels, for example being fazed by an over enthusiastic (to put it politely) host. Or someone like Penn Jillette for example. However, a quieter performer needs to work out beforehand what he is going to do to shut potential egomaniac television hosts up.

I still haven't read the Jerk theory yet so I won't comment. As for Tommy Wonder's impromptu magic plan at a party it doesn't sound that awful to me. I don't see anything particularly wrong with it. I can see it working quite well. The key to impromptu magic is not to force it on people but let it come out of the natural conversation. You can hint but not force. And you have to have a gut instinct as to when to stop.

In any event the most amazing thing I find about the Dutch is not their magic anyway. I am far more astonished by their fluency in multiple languages. It absolutely astonishes me. I have worked in Amsterdam a few times and can do the Svengali Deck in the Dutch language. I still remember being dumbstruck when Dutch kids were heckling me in fluent English! That to me beats anything Tommy Wonder could do!

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Brad Henderson » December 8th, 2017, 11:05 am

well, tommy could speak both dutch and english well too. So let's at least give him credit as being the kids' equal

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Joe Mckay » December 8th, 2017, 11:29 am

I read the latest issue (issue 11 - Dec) of JAMM last night.

It is sad there is only one more issue to go. But then again - I am looking forward to getting them all printed off and bound. I never feel like I can properly process a work until I can hold it in my hands. Still - I am sure Andy has plenty more interesting stuff planned for the future - so I am excited for what it is to come. I just hope he hits his 2018 subscriber goal over the next few weeks.

The tricks in the latest issue revolve around magic that ends in a gift for the spectator. I was really taken with the opening trick. A very ambitious effect which is one of the most astonishing things I have read in magic. So often with Andy's work - I resort to that sort of praise. But since he is the best creator in the history of magic - I shouldn't be too surprised. That is an opinion I am entirely serious about, by the way.

He also details an interesting card force that can be done over a long distance with the cards in the spectator's hands. One thing I enjoyed about that discussion is the focus Andy puts on destroying any evidence of the method during the trick - so that the spectator cannot backtrack and work out the method later on. This is the main problem with magic that takes place entirely in the spectator's hands - when the magician is not present.

For instance - 'Kona' by Bill Goldman is a great trick in this field. Absolutely one of the best ever. But you cannot really use it without the magician being present since the spectator is left with a gimmicked deck of cards in their hands. Thus the method is one with a high likelihood of being uncovered at some point.

Anyway - this discussion by Andy was only a sidetrack from the trick he was describing based around helping a man surprise his partner with an anniversary gift. But as always with Andys work - he buries further interesting pathways in the details of his tricks.

I just spent an enjoyable couple of works researching variations based around the hoary 'Trick That Fooled Einstein' principle. Which is pretty much one of the most uninteresting things you can do for a layperson compared to what else magic can offer. So if Andy is setting out to cure magician's of the sickness of focusing on what interests them rather than what might most interest a spectator - then I am as much in a need of a cure as anyone else!

I look forward to taking my final shot in January.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Tom Stone » December 8th, 2017, 12:14 pm

Joe Mckay wrote: So if Andy is setting out to cure magician's of the sickness of focusing on what interests them rather than what might most interest a spectator .

That's not a sickness. Rather, it is the most important part there is. But focusing on what might interest a spectator is where the real sickness begins.
Do you really believe that Andy doesn't do what interests him? That he ignores himself and that he finds it a chore to perform stuff that doesn't interest him the slightest, just because he thinks that other people expects it of him?
I find that unlikely. So, what you are actually saying, it seems, is that Andy is setting out to make magicians focus on doing stuff that interest Andy. If you think such a shallow goal is worthwhile, you are exemplifying a second destructive sickness; the tendency to deifying people.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Joe Mckay » December 8th, 2017, 12:25 pm

I don't worship Andy. I worship Richard Dawkins. I am convinced he is the Son of God.

As for what Andy is preaching. Well - let me see if I can find a post setting out his position.

Actually - he had a post recently where he makes the point I want to make. In terms of how magicians (or virgin magic geeks like myself) perhaps have a mistaken sense of where the real value of magic lies.

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2017/11/6/t ... st-century

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2017/11/16/gardyloo-41 [this post features a fascinating piece of magic geekery involving Hamming codes and The Magic Ages cards principle that I sent Andy]

I wish spectators were as fascinated by The Gilbreath Principle and Miraskill as I am. But ultimately such geekery is for my pleasure and not that of the audience. Which is fine. But it is something worth acknowledging when you do decide to perform for non-magic geeks. And when you acknowledge that - it then raises the question of what type of experiences a spectator will most enjoy?

Andy has a useful post laying out his position over here:

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

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby Tom Stone » December 8th, 2017, 1:36 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:I
I wish spectators were as fascinated by The Gilbreath Principle and Miraskill as I am. But ultimately such geekery is for my pleasure and not that of the audience. Which is fine. But it is something worth acknowledging when you do decide to perform for non-magic geeks. And when you acknowledge that - it then raises the question of what type of experiences a spectator will most enjoy?

You are getting it backwards, Joe. You are making the constants into variables, and the variables into constants.

The spectator can not be the constant in a performance, and you can't be the variable. It is the other way around. And a status quo is not set in stone, but set in sand.

Of course there's no spectators that are fascinated by Gilbreath's, if you don't communicate what makes you fascinated by it, and thereby give them the option to become equally fascinated. You can't blame the variable for being the variable. Accept that the spectator always is the unknown entity, and craft everything else to handle that.

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Re: The Jerx Year Three

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 8th, 2017, 6:07 pm

I think Gilbreadth can be fascinating and entertaining to a layman if presented in a a fascinating and entertaining way, and one which destroys any suspicion that mathematics could be at work. I like to explain how when times were lean I could get by, by playing a gambling game in which the odds of winning money were apparently hopelessly stacked in the mark's favor.

To demonstrate, I have the spectator give the cards one riffle shuffle and I cut, and the deck is tabled. Then after turning over the top card of the deck (of course it could be red or black), I explain that if the spectator (who will play the part of the mark for the demonstration) were to turn over the next card, there is a 50-50 chance that the card will match the color of the card I turned, but that when playing this game, I would bet the mark $100 to his $10 that the card will not match the color of my card. I emphasize to the spectator that he/she and I are not going to play for real money, but just playing for purposes of demonstrating the hustle. When they turn the card over, of course it does not match, and I am up $10. Then I turn the next card (third card) of the deck face up. Reminding spectator that he shuffled, I announce that the odds are again 50-50 that when he turns over the next card on the deck (the 4th card) it will match the color of the card I've turned. Once again, when they turn their card, it does not match, and I am now "up" $20.

This is repeated (with an occasional reminder that they shuffled) until the deck is exhausted, or, after about half the cards or so have been turned with not a single match, it can be speeded up by the magician just turning the cards rapidly, showing each time there is no match. They are fascinated over the virtually impossible idea that some serious money can be won in a game where all seems perfectly fair, where the chances of the mark winning $100 on each bet appear to be 50-50, and where the mark is given 10 to 1 (thus risking only $10 per bet), but, uncannily, still loses his shirt, failing to win even a single bet.


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