The Magic University Journal

Discuss general aspects of Genii.
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Ondrej Psenicka
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Day 10 - 17. 6. 2015

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » February 21st, 2021, 6:15 pm

Summary:
Slydini's Motion Vectors, Routine Structure, The Little Red Riding Hood and my night at The Magic Bar.

Journal entry:
Warm-up in the morning was again held by Martin.

Johan gave us a 10 minute assignment after the warm-up - Write a review of a show you will open in exactly one year. - That was pretty uncomfortable to do. Of course I want it to be great, but I also don’t like raving about myself. So yes, that was a good exercise.

Tom lectured on Slydini’s motion vectors today and talked a little more about structure.

Here is a summary of what Tom was teaching:
  • You can’t see everything at the same time. You see it in an order that was defined by Slydini’s motion vectors.
  • People will always look at an object in motion rather than a still one; at the one going toward them rather than away from them; at the one going upward rather than downward.
  • Slydini thought that an object going up can’t be canceled by anything. Tom says that it can be canceled by an object moving up from a higher place or in front of it.
Then we got an assignment on structure. Me, René, and Lauri. We did a scene at a bus stop - a guy asking for a cigarette and a lighter. We used the vectors as well. It was fun.


I am not completely sure what the assignment was. Judging by the video of our exercise it looks to me like it was ABA ABA ABC. Going back and forth between two elements, ending on a third one. Am I remembering this right, Tom?

Here is the video:
https://youtu.be/ckQkS9uhIqQ

After lunch we continued working on our projects for tomorrow. Johan bought some hand puppets and the little red riding hood he got is so much better than my princess. I am not sure if I already mentioned that holding 6 cards in my mouth for a few minutes is not very practical so I had to come up with a new method. I tried quite a few things and hopefully came up with a working one. We’ll see if it really works tomorrow.

Then I continued preparing for my close-up show at The Magic Bar and I had to skip the mini-lectures again. And this time even a Skype lecture with Will Houstoun. The Magic Bar was waiting for me.

I got there at 5 when a group of potential guests was already peeking in. They were from Florida and they had a little girl with them so I knew I won’t be able to use some originally intended words in my show. They went for a little sightseeing tour first. I am starting to think that the space I dedicate to some not so relevant things in this journal is wasted - I think I’ll be more brief.

That night was supposed to be a weak one - not many people. Arne told me that he thought we are going to be there alone. Then there were about 22 people in the dining room and later about 15 magicians in the other room. We decided that I’ll do 2 shows so everybody gets a chance to see it.

The first one was not so great. For the Florida family, Bob and Chris from Australia, about 4 Swedish guests, Erik and Axel and a few others. It went well besides the first and the last trick.
The first one was the Personal Card and I just couldn’t set it up right. I had to go through the deck 3 times to set it up correctly.
And then the Triathlon. To hope to succeed in classic forcing 2 out of 3 selected cards when you’re not good in classic forcing is in the very least brave - or foolish. So I continued forcing cards and failing in forcing cards until there were about 7 cards selected in the audience. During that I forgot who I forced the right cards onto. So I started fishing. By revealing the other cards. Asking people who picked a heart, low heart and so on. And in the end when I was down to those two force cards and after the revelation of the first one I started counting cards for ACAAN since I already had a number from someone.
In the beginning I ask someone "If I would to ask you to name a number between 1 and 52, what would you say?" Then I ask another man the same question getting a different answer to which I respond, "And they say that all men are the same. See? Here you have it. They're not." And then I continue like nothing happened - later in the act I force the card that falls onto one of the named numbers in mnemonica stack on a different spectator. And then I ask the man the same question to which they hopefully respond with the same number and then I continue with ACAAN plot.
And then I realised that the 10 of diamonds have already been revealed and what’s even better that when I got to 49, it was the 6 of clubs. So I asked him what was his last name. He said PAUL. And I thought, Dammit, that’s not going to work. And the little girl started spelling it as Powell, that felt better, so I started dealing backwards and the Ace of Diamonds fell on the last letter. Good save, but a terrible feeling.
I know, I am getting lost in this myself. I could've just written that I messed up. Let's move on. :D

The Personal Card is one of my go to impromptu effects that I’ve been doing since Joachim Solberg taught it to me during his visit to Prague about 20 years ago. Unfortunately I don’t remember its original name or creator. Does anyone recognise it? Here is the effect:
The deck is shuffled by the spectator and set up in the process of finding the spectator’s personal card in the deck. The card is placed face down in a visible place. The deck is now set up as follows. Let’s imagine the personal card is a 5. Another 5 is on top of the deck and the other two 5s are on the 5th and 6th positions from the bottom. The deck is then split in two piles. The top card of the first pile is turned face up. It is a 5. 5 cards are dealt in a pile from top of the second pile and the 5th card is revealed as a 5. The top card from the rest of the second pile is revealed to be a third 5 and the spectator finally turns over the personal card to find out it is the last 5.


Then the Australians came, Bob and his wife Chris. He gave me his business card - he was a magician. They’ve been travelling from Australia, through China, across Russia to Sweden, and further down through Prague to Croatia and then to Rimini, Italy. He talked about street magic, performing at the Red Square and being taken away by police, about FISM Beijing being their first and I told him about the course and he didn’t know who Tom Stone is. He confused him with David Stone. So when I found that out I put him in a drawer with mediocre magicians. Anyway, I introduced them to the other magicians in the next room and went on reseting my show.
My apologies to Bob if he's reading this. :)

Ten minutes before the second close-up show I decided to do the Hallelujah rope routine on stage as a little pre-show which turned out as a good choice. I did the Tabary's rope routine with the accompaniment of Rufus Wainwright's version of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah.

The second show was for the wizards - the first row was Simon, Alexandra, David S, Jerome, and PFS friends Amanda and Guillermo, then in the second row it was Denis, his wife, Mattias, Nicholas and his other friend Hampus and in the back Inga and Xoaher, all from PFS. PFS is Prague Film School which I studied film acting at the first 4 months of that year. And other magicians like Balazs, John-Henry, Jacob, even Arne came to see the show. And it was great, It went so well that I decided to end with Chaos and not do the Triathlon. I finished the show and since the energy was so good, I decided to perform the Industrial Revelation that I felt at my belt. I started putting the coin through and it wouldn’t go. I tried harder and nothing, so I started thinking what else could I perform? And then I just asked Jerome to tell a joke and went to the bar to reset.
Then I came back starting it with the same patter - this time the whole thing the way it should be. And while they were sending the metal block around I decided to force two cards, do ACAAN and reveal the prediction in the paper crane. It was logical. It didn’t occur to me as I forgot to introduce the ACAAN deck. But the number and the crane were already in and since I succeeded in forcing both cards immediately, it was perfect.
A part of the Triathlon routine was an origami paper crane that I gave to a spectator in the beginning of the show. The crane contained a card prediction.
The second show felt very good - people liked it, magicians liked it and I was relieved.

I also did some tablehopping - I remembered the good old Daryl’s card stab which is a great trick.

Then Hanna asked me if I can help her with Ninja Rings so I did, and Jerome really liked my technique - compared it to Shoot’s. That means that I have to practice a lot.

Arne liked my show. He said that I’m very good. Then I went home in the company of Jerome and Mikael. But before that I talked with David S outside of the bar for a while. Firstly my edge deck totally fooled him. Secondly he thought that the ending of Chaos somehow doesn’t work. So next time I may try it with only one effect - just spread the new deck order and swap the cards. Also when I’m writing it now, it doesn’t sound to me any better. Anyway, the whole sequence deserves a little revision so I’ll put it on my list and when I’m back in Prague it’ll get fixed and improved.


I fixed it, it's better now. Tomorrow is a very short one and all about the Little Riding Hood.

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Tom explaining Slydini's Motion Vectors

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Re: Day 10 - 17. 6. 2015

Postby Tom Stone » February 21st, 2021, 8:28 pm

Ondrej Psenicka wrote:I am not completely sure what the assignment was. Judging by the video of our exercise it looks to me like it was ABA ABA ABC. Going back and forth between two elements, ending on a third one. Am I remembering this right, Tom?

Yes, it looks like the exercise of creating a three phase routine with the structure:
A B A
A B B
A B C

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Re: The Magic University Journal

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » February 23rd, 2021, 9:00 am

I want to add that The Slydini Motion Vectors has been a really fascinating topic for me. Tom always encouraged us to challenge him in case we disagree with anything he says, and all the exercises we did were meant to test the theory and see if it really works.

I remember that Tom also mentioned that a motion going from left to right seems to attract as much attention as a motion going from right to left. We were told what motion seems to cancel another motion, but I don't remember if we analysed why.

I thought about the vectors quite a bit in the past few years, wondering why they work. Now I like to think of them as vectors of importance.

I assume that our brain chooses what to look at / see / pay attention to by the importance that it assigns to it. It sees a motion going up as more important than going down because a motion going up is an active one - we associate it with a beginning of an action. A motion going down is less important as we associate it with a release - an end of an action.

Now here is an interesting idea. What if I held a helium balloon. And pulled it down to show the design on the balloon. The motion is no doubt a downward motion. But it might attract more attention than any other downward motion, because it's a beginning of an action rather than a release.
If we follow this action further, let's say that I return the balloon to its original height by putting my hand up where it was the moment before I started pulling the balloon downward and at the same time reach down to pick something up from the table with my other hand (or even better - to push a button).
My hand going up is now a release / an end of an action and my other hand going down an active one / a beginning of an action. Could this be a case when the spectator's brain evaluates an object going down as more important than an object going up and therefore the object going down attracts more attention than the object going up?

I am trying to figure out motivations of a spectator's behaviour that might help me further understand this theory of misdirection.
What do you think, Tom, could this be an exception that could potentially help us further understand Slydini's teaching?

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Re: The Magic University Journal

Postby Bill Mullins » February 23rd, 2021, 10:50 am

Motion picture and theatrical directors place different importance on motion going from the audience's left to right than the other way around. For example, a scene might be set up where the good guy enters from the left, and the bad guy from the right.

One of the first pieces of research I saw from Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde was an eye-tracking study, in which they monitored how the eyes of spectators followed the motions of magicians. It's been a while, and I'm fuzzy on the details, but I believe their conclusions were something like the idea that people pay more attention to:
- motions going up than motions going down
- motions going into the personal space of a spectator than motions receding from a spectator
- motions going from the spectator's left to right than motions going from right to left

and that this has implications for misdirection, for example. Consider a top change -- how do you choreograph the motion of the deck and the hand with the card.

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Re: The Magic University Journal

Postby Tom Stone » February 23rd, 2021, 10:38 pm

Ondrej Psenicka wrote:I assume that our brain chooses what to look at / see / pay attention to by the importance that it assigns to it. It sees a motion going up as more important than going down because a motion going up is an active one - we associate it with a beginning of an action. A motion going down is less important as we associate it with a release - an end of an action.

Yes and no... None of it exist in a vacuum, it all works together in intricate ways.
Some parts are just hardcoded into us, and do not rely on concious though. Those parts are simple to map out, though difficult to apply.
Then there's another layer with stuff that is in our visual range, where some is masked out and some are emphazised, also without concious thought.
And then, we have two modes of concious thought. The fast heuristical thinking that relies on rules and experience, and the slow analytical thinking. The movements you mention are rarely evaluated at this late stage, that tend to happen much earlier.
Now here is an interesting idea. What if I held a helium balloon. And pulled it down to show the design on the balloon. The motion is no doubt a downward motion. But it might attract more attention than any other downward motion, because it's a beginning of an action rather than a release.
If we follow this action further, let's say that I return the balloon to its original height by putting my hand up where it was the moment before I started pulling the balloon downward and at the same time reach down to pick something up from the table with my other hand (or even better - to push a button).
My hand going up is now a release / an end of an action and my other hand going down an active one / a beginning of an action. Could this be a case when the spectator's brain evaluates an object going down as more important than an object going up and therefore the object going down attracts more attention than the object going up?

It is a good test scenario you've devised! Easiest way to figure it out is to film it, while making sure to only do the movements you want to analyze, and then mask out your head so that the gaze doesn't influence, and then watch it yourself while being aware of what you look at. Whatever trigger your attention will be what will trigger everyones' attention.

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Re: The Magic University Journal

Postby Tom Stone » February 23rd, 2021, 10:57 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:Motion picture and theatrical directors place different importance on motion going from the audience's left to right than the other way around. For example, a scene might be set up where the good guy enters from the left, and the bad guy from the right.

Some of that is superstition, some of it is out of convenience to help with the 180 degree rule, some of it is cultural, some only valid where people read left-to-right... none of it affect attention though. A left-to-right movement have the same priority as a right-to-left movement. You can mask out one by adding proximity or positional (gravitational potential) energy to the other, as described in Genii November 2011.
One of the first pieces of research I saw from Stephen Macknik and Susana Martinez-Conde was an eye-tracking study, in which they monitored how the eyes of spectators followed the motions of magicians. It's been a while, and I'm fuzzy on the details, but I believe their conclusions were something like the idea that people pay more attention to:
- motions going up than motions going down
- motions going into the personal space of a spectator than motions receding from a spectator
- motions going from the spectator's left to right than motions going from right to left

That was Slydini's conclusions, which Macknik & Martinez-Condes reaffirmed, but did not build or add anything on.

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Re: The Magic University Journal

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » February 25th, 2021, 7:24 am

Tom Stone wrote:It is a good test scenario you've devised! Easiest way to figure it out is to film it, while making sure to only do the movements you want to analyze, and then mask out your head so that the gaze doesn't influence, and then watch it yourself while being aware of what you look at. Whatever trigger your attention will be what will trigger everyones' attention.
I am sure we'll be able to test it out at another workshop, Tom!

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Day 11 - 18. 6. 2015

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » February 25th, 2021, 8:18 am

Summary:
This is the day of the 'Motion and Stillness' routine presentation.

Journal entry:
I got to school 5 minutes after 8. Stefan was already there.

I found a plastic bag that I put over my head and couldn’t breath so I put holes in it and then kept adding more. I mostly worked on the script and instructions so the trick works. And the rest of the time was devoted to memorization and chilling. No stress again.

The presentation started at 13:00. I went as the last one. My favorites were Stefan and David S. and then it was my turn. I got into the position, everything went ok until the bag started entering my mouth which was unpleasant. Then Carl who was chosen to assist me has found his card in the deck, which he was not supposed to. Then I realised that the deck was upside down during the peeking procedure so I fixed it and went on in a faster pace. The rest went good.


This may be a little confusing, but if you know how Christoph Borer's Get Sharky effect works, you know exactly what I'm talking about. :P

Feedback was basically just me describing the process of the work and Johan didn’t say a word about it. It is a very funny presentation (even though people were not laughing that much) and I won’t do it again any time soon.

It seems to me that I had a fancy pair of 'laughing ears' that day. But I believe it had a decent potential.

Later I sent feedback to Linda (my graphic designer) about new versions of my logo that she sent me, so she is going to work further on it. Simon showed me some very cool stuff he has for his FISM act. It is not a future FISM winning act, but it has some really nice ideas and craftsmanship.

I had another long conversation with David S. in the night. We talked Our Magic documentary that he didn’t know about, Mahdi G., Karel and Petr Ocelík/Absolon, Derren Brown, Hans Klok, then we talked about Luis de Matos and commerce and creativity. We also talked about Rob Zabrecky and the Magic Castle. And yes of course, there was some alcohol involved.


And here is the Little Magic Riding Hood act. Warning! There are some bad bad words uttered during the performance.

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The Motion and Stillness performers

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Lilly - The Little Magic Riding Hood

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Day 12 - 19. 6. 2015

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » March 2nd, 2021, 5:51 am

Summary:
A day without school, still full of magic.

Journal entry:
The longest day of the year. Or the Friday before the longest day of the year - Midsummer. The biggest party day in Sweden.

Me, Mikael, Jerome and Edith went with Amanda, Guille, Mattias and Nicholas (friends from Prague Film School) to Ljusterö island upon an invitation of Amanda’s friends.

Me and Jerome sat together on the boat on the way there and discussed clocking and also got to Rich Bloch’s memory trick and I thought Wow, I could actually memorise positions of all the mates in the deck...


I learned this at Rich Bloch’s lecture at the Magic Weekend in Lund. The spectator shuffles the deck, memorizes one card in the deck and hands the deck to the magician. The magician memorizes the order of the deck, the spectator names the card and the magician announces its position from the top of the deck.
This effect has been published in Rich Bloch’s booklet These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things in 1987 under the name Me(s)morize.
I later found out that Howard Hamburg has it in his repertoire as one of his favorite effects that The Professor shared only with him and a couple more friends.
And even later I found out that a very similar effect with almost identical method is published in Magic Inc’s Dai Vernon’s Expanded Lecture Notes from 1964 as A Mental Discovery.


Anyway, we got to the island, met Hana, Sophie and Mattias and they brought us to their nice house and we immediately started doing magic for them. We would alternate and in the end we did ACAAN when Mikael gave the cards to Jerome to shuffle (Green shuffle), asked one of the girls to name a card and myself to name a number and a miracle was complete.

We repeated this method at The Magic Bar the following week under slightly more dramatic circumstances.

Then we went to dance around a pole and we played raffle, didn’t win anything, went back, did more magic, ate a cake, and caught a boat back where we met a group of guys who we've noticed were playing poker. I showed them two tricks and their heads were exploding in disbelief. So Jerome showed them a few routines and Mikael as well. They were truly mind blown. Then I showed some more to Guille and then they had to go. They all left the boat one stop before me and Jerome.

Then we walked home and I don’t think that the magic continued at the Baracken. I was quite tired.


Image

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Day 13 - 20. 6. 2015

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » March 2nd, 2021, 5:57 am

Summary:
Saturday practice, cash, and alcohol.

Journal Entry:
Got up at midday, went to school which was closed. Instead I went to the Central Station to get some SEK cash. I practiced palming and DPS on the way. Then I showed my Edge effect to David S again, leaving him mind blown. There might have been some alcohol involved.

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Day 14 - 21. 6. 2015

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » March 2nd, 2021, 6:20 am

Summary:
Absorbing knowledge Sunday.

Journal entry:
The school is still closed.

Yesterday evening I watched Andrew Normansell’s videos which I deleted very fast.
Then I watched [i]Comedy Seminar 2007
which was SO much better - I’ll do it again.[/i]

My apologies to Andrew. I am trying to edit the Journal as little as possible to retain a feeling of honesty.

This morning Jerome showed me [i]52 which is Steve Forte’s gambling demo shot by Jason England. Very nice.

I asked on FB if anyone could let us in the Library and Axel responded positively so I and Jerome went. We were there from 3pm to 8:30pm. I read a half of Karl Fulves’s Combo, practicing a little, looked at some versions of 21 card trick, haven’t found a particularly interesting one. I also picked up some Magic magazines that I’m going to take home with me.[/i]

I continued a search for a fun/great/interesting 21 card trick back home in Prague and found Ian Baxter's 'Deceitful 21-Card Trick' in Harry Lorayne's Best of Friends Volume III. This version remains my favorite.

Then we went home, found David on the couch, very tired. I hope he’ll be fine by tomorrow. There might have been some alcohol involved.

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In the library of The Swedish Magic Circle drinking Swedish water out of The Swedish Magic Circle glass

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Day 15 - 22. 6. 2020

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » March 5th, 2021, 7:58 pm

Summary:
The first day of the last week. One ahead and One behind, Will Houstoun's lecture, and Matchtacs.

Journal entry:
Today started with a warm up led by the one and only - the Birthday wizard - Johan Ståhl. And… Will Houstoun joined us today.

Tom had a lecture on One ahead and One behind principle.
First he performed silk in an egg (Things That Go Cluck in the Night) with Lionel, which had both principles involved. Then he explained how the theory works in that particular example and gave us some more.

After that we got an assignment of doing two similar effects - one using One ahead and the other One behind.

I was in a group with Jerome and Markus. All went quite smooth this time. We got an idea pretty fast… and also came up with a sentimental presentation for it which was a part of the assignment. We had an hour and we were practically ready in 30 minutes.
It was just me performing this time and I used Will as a volunteer. It worked pretty well. I stumbled with a one handed Charlier Pass, but the rest was ok. Well, the top change was very sloppy as well.


I don’t know how to do sleight-of-hand. They say I’m a card guy, but the cards do all the work for me.
(Un)fortunately I don't have a video recording of this exercise.


Then the others performed and surprisingly everyone did a card trick and quite similar premise. We were done after a little feedback and then we had time for our individual projects until 4.20pm.

For the third week we were given an option to choose either the ‘Sound & Silence’ routine from the first week or the ‘Motion & Stillness’ routine from the second week and continue working on it for our final performance on Friday.

Then the mini talks were held again. First went Will Houstoun who talked about project Breathe Magic and showed us some clips from YouTube. So nice. One day I would like to do something similar.

I was supposed to have my first meeting with kids at a clinic for children with special needs last year, and then I couldn’t because the pandemic hit. I am excited for it all to settle so I can continue with the project. Thank you Will Houstoun and thank you Kevin Spencer.

The next one was Mikael who talked about psychology in magic quoting Ascanio a lot and some more.
Then it were Martin and Leif who were talking about their theater shows and showed us some clips.

Then again we went on with our individual projects. I was trying to make the principle that I had in mind work for a while, but soon I abandoned it and tried to find another solution. After some trials I finally came up with a possibility how I can transform Tic tacs into a matchbox - if the box is slightly open. So I started constructing this high-tech box of Matchtacs and finished at 10pm. And I still have some work to do.

We got an assignment to read the Three Pillars essay from BoW Vol1 so that I’m going to do now. Then practice mnemonica on the stack app and go to sleep.


I don't remember which app it was but I recommend using one to everybody who is trying to learn a stack. It helped me a lot.

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Will Houstoun lecturing happily

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Day 16 - 23. 6. 2015

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » March 6th, 2021, 7:06 pm

Summary:
Moving out of The Kingdom of Baracken, Canceling, Magic Bar, and much love for Johan Ståhl.

Journal Entry:
At the warm-up in the morning we got the news that if we don’t pay for Baracken they are changing the locks. So I asked Erik if I can stay with him. He agreed and gave me pair of keys.

As I mentioned in the beginning of the journal, some of us were living in this budget place which unfortunately wasn’t even worth the money we were supposed to pay. There was a reason I was taking a shower in the school instead of the Baracken.

Tom had a lecture on Canceling.
He talked about using different methods in a routine and “stops” when you cancel a possible solution by a genuine proof that contradicts the possibility of such solution.
Then he talked about "full stops" that are actually trick proofs - meaning "stop" is an actual cue ball falling on the ground and "full stop" is a foam ball falling on the ground making sound like an actual cue ball.

Johan then performed his Sleeveless Sleeving technique and explained the role that canceling plays in it. After that he gave us all his Sleeveless Sleeving DVD. <3

Then of course we had an assignment where we were supposed to do two or three similar effects progressively canceling previous methods. It was me, Hans and Lionel in the group. Ginormous fun creating the piece. Hans named it 'Three guys waiting for the bus on their way home from FISM'. And we would just take the most ridiculous stuff out of our shoes.


I am afraid there is no recording of this exercise either, which is a shame as it was a fun one.

Then we got news that if we don’t pay the rent, they are changing locks tomorrow so I moved out during the lunch which took me about 15 minutes.

Will took me aside to interview me for the Genii Magazine during the break. I hope he found some of it interesting and it will get published.


To find out if any of my input made it to print you’ll have to read the article in the November 2016 issue of the Genii Magazine.

I worked on my Tic tac routine a little more and then I went with Mikael to the Magic Bar.

We got there before nine and there were just two tables with guests, one of them magicians. Edith performing. I talked to Anna the bartender. It looks like the Magic Bar is not in a financial heaven. They need to be earning a lot of money during the Fall so they can afford to stay open in the Summer when there are just very few people coming. Arne then showed me their blog with pictures of how they made the Magic Bar out of a Thai restaurant. He was very very nice to me. He also told me that Johan Ståhl was the first one who he told about the idea of building the Magic Bar.


The Magic Bar closed almost exactly a year after.

I totally forgot to mention today’s Ted talks.

David T. talked about positioning in marketing. You should know how different you are from others and you should promote that difference. Never say you are the best or better than others. That won’t make you any different. And keep it simple.

Joni talked about promoting a show through media contacts, promotional events, and as soon as possible. You can start selling tickets even before you start rehearsing. You just need the name of the show, and a good photo.
His order was: 1st - idea, 2nd - where to get money, 3rd - assemble a team, 4th - start promoting and selling tickets, 5th - rehearse.

And then Johan Ståhl had a wonderful talk about giving back to the magic community: University, Magic Bar, Comedy Magic Convention, Spellbound, small few day sessions and enlarging the cultural triangle in magic. So what more can I do back home in Prague?


Johan started something big for me - partially just by the whole University Course experience, but because of the huge example of giving back to the community. Since then I put a lot of effort into helping develop the Czech Magic Community and it has been so rewarding that I see no reason to ever stop. Thank you again, Johan Ståhl.

After the Magic Bar I went home with Erik with whom I am staying until the end of my stay in Stockholm. I can’t be walking to school anymore. It’s about 40 minutes by underground. His place is small, but he has two bookcases full of magic books. One of them has duplicates from the Swedish Magic Circle Library. The first thing he showed me was Mark Setteducati’s interactive book, which I’ve never actually held, just read an article about it in the Genii Magazine. Some of the tricks are actually pretty magical and well thought out. It didn’t hold me till the end, a third of the book is still waiting for me because Erik showed me other books and caricature cards… and the books he has in the SMC library are crazy - some of them. Like a book signed by Hugard or Tarbell or The Expert signed by Smith. Then he brought out Crimp magazines and there is some really crazy stuff in those. I didn’t even start reading any - there are so many more things to read!

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Beautiful pictures of the Baracken taken by Jonas and Lionel

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Ondrej Psenicka
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Day 17 - 24. 6. 2015

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » March 11th, 2021, 2:28 pm

Summary:
Jonathan Pendragon, Butterfly Playing Cards, and Any Card At Any Number That Can't Be Explained.

Journal entry:
We skipped the warm up today and directly went on coming up with questions for Jonathan Pendragon’s Skype lecture that followed.

Jonathan immediately jumped onto his thing - very energetic, passionate, slightly stressed, fast pace talking. He showed us what he’s been working on in the past days. Miser’s dream, ACAAN, Chop Cups & Balls, Coins to Glass, Card Sword, a staff for the Hindu Basket, a wand with a magnetic end for the Chop Cup routine, and then he opened Q&A.
Some questions he answered very generally or indirectly, some he answered fully I’d say. I asked what is his one fear when he works on a new routine and takes it in front of an audience for the first time. He answered that it is overdoing it. That he’ll push it too much - that he’ll overact it. - I can see why.
Jerome asked what makes an effect magical. The answer was - You. - I agree. It’s a little general and incomplete answer, but yes… plus find me someone who knows a complete answer to that question.
After the lecture I worked on my Tic tac box a little more, I added some magnets and made it easier to change from Tic tacs to matches.

Dagmar C. called me that she would appreciate some video of me doing magic. I don’t have any. Then I got an idea to shoot a little thing at the Magic Bar that evening. I asked Edith and she let me do a little guest performance in the middle of her close-up show.

Dagmar C. is an event organiser from Prague - she was looking into booking me for a wedding.

Then mini ted talks followed - Stefan talked about making boxes. First he showed us a very neat perfect fit box and how he made it and then some boxes he made for his movie collection. Pretty cool stuff.
Then René talked about a program he is doing in Denmark for children with reading problems. They show them a trick and then they sit in a classroom and then there are instructions for the trick written somewhere far and they go read some of it and back to their place to write what they remember. Sometimes it’s just a word or even just a letter. They do that for 15 minutes and then again after a break. I don’t know if I remember the procedure correctly but it’s called walking dictation, I think.
Then Håkan talked about corporate gigs and how to make sure that everything runs smoothly. Not to accept everything and to try to find an option that will make the performance the best possible. You want to make the best performance possible and the one that booked you wants the same.
Johan then asked me to play Kevin Spencer’s speech from Magic Live! “Healing of Magic”. I almost cried again and Johan did cry again. It’s just such a wonderful story.

Then after some finishing touches on the magnets I went with Stefan to a pen store. We ran. I wouldn’t be able to make it without him. We got there one minute before they closed. And they had my precious favorite sharpie pen. Package of two for 49 SEK.

Sharpie pen is still my favorite thing to write with.

And then we went to the Magic Bar. Tom Stone, Martin, John-Henry, were sitting at one table and I showed Tom my edge trick and it fooled him.
Stefan invited me for dinner and during that we discussed the design of my edge-marked deck. He loves the principle and seems quite excited about designing it. We went through different designs and possibilities. It seems like vintage border could be the best one.
Then I realised that when I told Shane Cobalt about my intentions - the deck and the need for a designer, he recommended me a Stefan from Sweden who designed their Modern Magic poster. Destiny.


It happened on this day, in this moment. Me and Stefan Eriksson agreed to create a deck of cards together. Ten months later I printed the first prototype of Butterfly Playing Cards.

Then Edith’s show started. Not exactly my cup of tea. The magic wasn’t very strong and the presentation not very captivating, at least for me. But she was very kind to let me do my two tricks. I did Get Sharky and Industrial Revelation. Stefan filmed it on my phone and I was happy.
I also didn’t have to spend a crown that night. I got an orange juice on the house from Anna and then she gave me her ice cream which was yummy.

It was very lucky that Olav - the Genii photographer - was there and took some really nice pictures of me. I showed him and John-Henry my edge trick and nailed it :) - what? I started doing smiley faces in my journal? Unacceptable! :) Ok, that was the last one.

Mikael was sitting at the next table performing ACAAN for Martin. He did it again… He let Jerome shuffle the cards, asked John-Henry for a card, asked me for a number, counted from the top and it was there. Martin was blown away. And started demanding revelation of the secret - Because he needs that for his show. He was drunk, rude and verbally aggressive. Mikael didn’t tell him.


If you’ve been following this Journal, you know the method - Mikael did the same effect on Midsummer for my friends. He didn’t tell Martin how it’s done because he wouldn’t be able to use it in his show.

And then we went home - around 22:30. I trimmed the video recording to just the first effect - Get Sharky, and sent it Dagmar’s way. I hope it will suffice.

It did. She booked me.

And I got a possible idea for the finish of my Tic tac routine. It is not as logical as the previous idea, but potentially very baffling.

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Jonathan Pendragon's Skype lecture

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Day 18 - 25. 6. 2015

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » March 13th, 2021, 3:27 pm

Summary:
Rehearsals, final ted talks, and of course... Magic Bar.

Journal entry:
We started at 9:45 today with setting up the rules for the exams. The rehearsal started at 10:00 in tomorrow’s running order. It got delayed but it caught up later on.

In the meanwhile, because it’s 26 of us and I am number 14 or so, I worked on my new ending a little and the load of the rattles in the beginning, showed it to some others and it seems to be working well. The misdirection of striking a match seems to be very strong.

Then it was my turn, Johan was giving me feedback. It was slow, which I totally agree with and since I stumbled with my words and slightly struggled with some stuff, I just need to practice. He didn’t have any notes on the methods or the procedure.

He then asked me to perform a little thing for camera for a trailer that Thomas - the camera guy - was doing to attract people - new magicians to the magic courses at the university.
Later he recorded some things in the workshop and took still introductions of all of us.


Please watch the finished trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aluZnjYXYAA

Later when the rehearsals were done, the day continued with the last mini ted talks.
Balazs talked about art. The main points were to avoid entertainment and conventions, to make it more complex, not force it to be understandable for everyone, to stand on the shoulders of others also in the allied arts, that we should educate our audience, let them know how it’s different and declare it an art, and declare ourselves artists.
Lauri talked about scrim curtains and how to use them. His favorite is Tulle Gobelin or it’s also called Shark’s tooth scrim. Another very interesting should be chameleon scrim. Black is the best for the highest contrast but you really need a powerful projector to project on it.
Carl had a talk on how to make your audience more comfortable. Rich Bloch’s tip on how to make them welcome you nicely: When you come on stage, stand next to the microphone to give them space to applaud, then make three steps behind the mic which cues them to stop. You should also say something funny in the first 30 seconds. If that is your style of course.

After that I set up my routine in studio 10, practiced a little, then I went to take a shower, and when I got back, I had the studio for myself, so I went through the routine 4 times with lights and all and even recorded it to see if it all works.

Then of course I went to the Magic Bar where Joni was doing his act that night. First table-hopping and then he did a close-up show, closed by Jakob’s FISM routine.
My Prague Film School friends Amanda and Guille came so they saw them and were totally blown away, especially by Joni’s Rubik’s cube and the whole Jakob’s act.
Micke Askernas was there as well who I haven’t seen since Head Hacking workshop in London. He told me about his show he’s done in the largest theatre in Stockholm, described the closer and told me that the method for it is crazy complex and difficult, but it was worth it. I hope I’ll see him again before I leave Stockholm.


Tomorrow is the final performance and the last day of the course.

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Rehearsing for the final performance

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Day 19 - 26. 6. 2020

Postby Ondrej Psenicka » March 14th, 2021, 1:46 pm

Summary:
The last day of the course, the last entry of the University Magic Course Journal.

Journal entry:
David S had an early performance at the exam because he had to leave early. He was a little late but then he performed a 14 minute one man show and it was really nice and full of references to the magic course.

Then I started preparing for my performance. I couldn’t find the double stick tape I used to attach a Tic tac to the box so I used a different one which seemed to work better since the Tic tac stuck really well to it. With the other one I was always scared that it will fall out and it also happened during the rehearsal so I would have to change the tape quite often.

My Prague Film School friends - Amanda and Guille - came to see us. Also Mattias and Hanna came.

The most interesting for me in the first third was Joni with a very magical coloring banana trick and Carl with a very funny routine. Leif had a very nice story idea as well where he found a grain of dust on his jacket which would constantly keep multiplying while he was struggling to clean it off.

Second half started with Stefan whose personality makes anything nice and although not that magical, the act was very artistic and made complete sense storywise. He was the last one I saw before I went to get ready for my act.

The next one on deck was David P who had a great success and everyone has been talking about his act after.

Then I missed René and just partially saw David T from the side and I really want to see that on video because it looked super good.

Then I watched Balasz’s performance which looked nice. He used the same close-up pad as I was using, so I immediately sneaked it away and got my chair ready to the left wing.

Lionel was next and I was really curious how will his effect be perceived by the audience. And they seemed to like it.

Then it was my turn and it went really well. Just one thing was a struggle and that was the double stick tape which I haven’t really tried if it works. I couldn’t get the Tic tac off of the box - it was too strong. But other than that - it went well.

The following acts were John-Henry with a nice funny absurd story, and Lauri was also quite original.

In the last third, Jerome had a minimalistic effect of a phoenix raising from ashes.

Axel performed his three leg act, Erik performed his too fast table top routine. It’s got great effects, but there is no pause for the audience to take any of it in.

And in the end came the FISM competitors - Simon with an already upgraded act. I’m curious how much will it improve until the competition. Jakob then performed his Cups & Balls full of callbacks and surprising effects - this time with Amanda as his spectator. And finally Håkan with a hilarious beginning and after all… the act is actually very funny. With original jokes and gags.


It turned out that we don't have an official video of the final exams, and I don't remember who recorded mine. If anyone did. If you are interested, here is the recording of my 'Sound & Silence' act from the first week's performance: https://youtu.be/pgxItneym4U
If anyone of the class mates read this and you have a recording of my final act, I'd highly appreciate it if you could let me know. :)

Then we all took a group picture, received pink beach balloons from the school as a gift and went on with packing everything, cleaning the workshop, returning the chip and straight to the Magic Bar to party.

First we talked a little, then we ate dinner of three courses. Tom did some tricks for us and showed us videos from his YouTube channel. Then he taught me a trick which I don’t remember a name of. Two black fives. One on the right of the table and the other one on the other side. You put two black queens on one of the fives and two red queens on the other - everything is face down. When you turn the piles face up, both fives are on the right and the queens end up on the left.

Then we split who would like to perform on stage, who wants to do a close-up show and who is going to do table-hopping. I thought I could do the Tabary rope routine on stage, but Mikael wanted to do the same so I let him do it. After all he was the official entertainer of the evening. So I was going to do my edge trick in the close-up show then.

Carl was a very good MC of the stage show. Martin was the first one to perform. His attitude toward the audience felt rude and arrogant and I didn’t like it.
John-Henry did a pantomime act and it was really good.
Erik is a very funny character.
Balazs did razor blades and Mikael the rope which was spoken with background music and nice. He said it’s been his closer for 8 years.
And David P performed his vacuum cleaner act so I got to see it and it’s a really fun idea. Cool.

After the performance I showed some tricks including clocking to some guys in the back room and John-Henry got killed by clocking so I reconsidered my choice and decided to do that instead of the edge trick in the close-up show. Then it started.

Johan as the MC, René was first up - he messed up his trick and we all felt pretty bad for him. Then Edith performed with rubber bands followed by René who made up for his first appearance.
Stefan then did a very good ambitious routine with a great kicker in the end.
Jerome did his classic gambling stuff and a king-ace two phase production trick.
Lauri in the end of his act did this amazing trick when two people chose cards from different decks, red and blue, sign them, he tears them in three places and twists them into each other. But then he untwists them, showing that they fused into each other - one being backs and one being faces. And then he took this square shaped canvas where he glued them both and signed it to leave it somewhere at Magic Bar for everybody to admire. Very cool.

And then it was my turn. I am not going to write about it in length, but first I took a selfie with everyone, then did clocking with a borrowed deck, announcing a red card missing. But it wasn't it. Then I found out that the deck - even though the owner claimed otherwise - was incomplete and the eight of clubs was missing as well.
So I decided to do it again with a different borrowed deck, this time I made a mistake in counting. So I decided to do the edge trick. I gave the Texans to the first spectator (Johan - magician) to shuffle after he selected and returned a card. He reversed the halves during a riffle shuffle and scrambled the one-way order of the deck.
Note to self - Observe how people shuffle even if you don’t intend to do anything for which it would be relevant. And if you see someone who is about to shuffle like that, take the cards immediately from their hands, return the halves to the right way and give them to someone else.
So when I confirmed that the one-way order got destroyed, I just apologised, made a comment about a successful show needing a low moment before the grand finale, people laughed, and Eric went on to destroy the audience with his crazy and powerful presentation and I went to sink into a divan and to think about my first real failure in many years.

After the show some people came to tell me that they still really liked it. Especially David T so at least that. I guess it’s true that magic can be entertaining even without the element of magic. That unfortunately is not really what I strive for.

Then I showed it to both Davids because I wanted to prove that I can do it I guess. And then I was just sitting around talking to people and saying goodbye to those who were leaving. It was an amazing day, great three weeks, and I will see most of them in just a week in Rimini.

Tom told me that he is nominated for FISM award for creativity so I assumed I will see him in Italy as well and he told me that he is not going because he can’t afford it. That hit me for a minute. It’s kind of sad, weird, and unfair. He told me that he won’t win anyway, that Finn Jon will get the award. He is probably right. Well, we’ll find out soon.

Now for the first time in a month I will sleep for a very long time. We left the Magic Bar at 2:30am.


I stayed in Stockholm for 3 more days, but this was the last day of The Magic University course at the University of Dance and Circus in Stockholm - the most productive 3 weeks of my life.
  • I met Stefan Eriksson - the designer of Butterfly Playing Cards who was my classmate
  • The idea of my first Fool Us act came out of a brainstorm session with Markus from Finland - another classmate
  • And thanks to my performances at The Magic Bar I found out that I am able to put together a decent half an hour long show in one week. So I realised that i should be able to create a full evening magic show in a few months. I premiered my show 52 Lovers 5 months later in Prague.
I am aware that this wasn’t an easy read, so I thank you for getting all the way to the end. I hope you found something interesting or even useful in between the lines. I appreciate any feedback, ideas, or references this journal triggered in your mind. And I hope to see you soon somewhere around the globe.

o.


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Studio 10 entrance

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The Magic Bar audience

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Re: Day 19 - 26. 6. 2020

Postby Tom Stone » March 14th, 2021, 2:36 pm

Ondrej Psenicka wrote:I hope you found something interesting or even useful in between the lines.

It have been very interesting to read your notes. I would find it intriguing to hear what you now, a few years later, think are the lingering effects of the course? If you think there is a clear before/after difference, and if so, what it consist of?

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Re: The Magic University Journal

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 14th, 2021, 5:01 pm

Ondrej, this has been really great. Thanks for all this work.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine

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Re: The Magic University Journal

Postby chetday » March 15th, 2021, 2:14 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Ondrej, this has been really great. Thanks for all this work.

Yes, this has been very good reading. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with all of us, Ondrej.

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Re: The Magic University Journal

Postby Stefan Eriksson » March 16th, 2021, 6:26 am

I get some chills reading about the dinner and the Shane Cobalt thing again. Truly destiny. And I loved reading about everyday at the course.. I still have notes somewhere that I need to find. Lots of ❤️


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