The Jerx, Volume One

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Joe Mckay
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The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Joe Mckay » September 25th, 2016, 5:23 pm

Here are some thoughts covering the new book that Andy has given as a thankyou to those readers of his blog who paid to support it.

http://www.thejerx.com/

He also sent out a booklet detailing his thoughts on how amateurs should approach their magic. As opposed to mindlessly thinking in terms of how a professional would would think about magic. A copy of his recently released app which is used in one of the effects in the book was shared with purchasers as well.

THE JERX, VOLUME ONE

After a funny story about Andy's early years in magic the following 30 or so pages cover the most important topics covering theory from his blog. Although for me one of my highlights from his first year were the posts covering how he creates magic [1] [2] [3]. And another favourite was a charming "self-help" motivational concept which he shared in another blog post [4].

The above were quite informal posts so I can see why he did not include them in the book. That said I am such a big fan of the blog I would happily enjoy seeing the entire blog between two covers.

I won't cover all the tricks in the book. Particularly the ones that are from the blog. Even though some of them are some of the best tricks I have ever seen in magic (eg the one where you transport yourself and the spectator to a parallel universe [5])

Andy includes just about all the tricks detailed in the first year of his blog. There are many favourites here.

I really like The Bazillion Dollar Bill Mystery which makes use of the sort of technology we all take for granted now to update an ingenious UF Grant principle. This is one of my favourite principles in magic and I am considering moving country now that the UK has switched over to plastic currency which cannot be torn in half. Andy's thinking in this trick reminds me of David Copperfield's Portal effect (where audience members teleport to a tropical island thousands of miles away) in terms of taking a trick and shooting for an effect so impossible it is unlike anything else in magic.

Andy briefly talks about ways of destroying the bills in this effect. And one suggestion of using helium balloons to make something float into into the sky and out of view was very helpful to me. It won't mean much to many but I really like this idea.

Steve Fearson uses a similar idea as a secret method for a floating effect. As did I in one of my first attempts at creating a magic trick. And I later found that Orson Welles had the same idea in an old issue of The Jinx.

Well - Andy uses this idea openly as a way of destroying a dollar bill (as opposed to tearing it up and flushing it down the toilet or simply setting fire to it) and this is an idea that really tickles me. I am working on an effect and until now I have not been happy with the usual methods of destroying something (in this case a playing card).

One of the hallmarks of Andy's thinking is to add details to an effect so that they become an event as well as a trick. When discussing the work of Karl Germain - Teller said that one of the goals of magicians is not simply to fool people but to create a beautiful image and share it with the audience. You see this in his Shadows routine. And Derren Brown does a similar thing with his wonderful handling of the coin in ball of wool effect:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=inwAb0n4Mto

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G3mVs2vUrd0

The image of the string of wool slowly passing through the audience is beautiful and provides a resonance to this nostalgic and sentimental effect that is just perfect.

Along similar lines - the image of something attached to a helium balloon and floating off into space is one that can be used in many effects in order to add a different dimension to the effect. It is a simple way to make a trick memorable.

Andy also details a routine from his old blog which allows him to provide a Ouija board presentation which turns the weaknesses of the branching anagram principle into a strength thanks to the framework he provides. This idea is an old favourite of mine and was the first time I realised that Andy was a remarkable creator of magic as well as being a very funny blogger. In the book he leaves out some very funny lines which made me laugh when I first read them on the old blog [6].

The book contains a handling for Out of This World that uses a presentation which really amps it up into a special occasion and also provides cover for a change in handling I have not seen before.

There is also a section covering Andy's thoughts on Equivoque which is a step beyond anything I have seen. He then cleverly incorporates a trick into the book that a spectator can perform on himself as a clever way of demonstrating how powerful and practical his handling for this principle is.

A handling for the Brainwave effect is covered in the book which is the best handling for this trick I have seen. My favourite type of structure for a magic trick are those tricks that build in the possibility of hitting on a miracle. And this trick allows for that - in this case the (possible) climax being you and the spectator appearing together in a dream the spectator has that night.

Yes you read that right. It is a strong effect either way. But the chance of hitting on such a deep miracle really compels me to use this trick as often as the circumstances allow.

I should add that his blog recently covered his work on The Invisible Deck as well [7]. There is something wonderful in watching Andy apply his creativity to these two effects since they are two of strongest card tricks in magic.

My favourite trick from the first year of the blog was called Linger [8]. That trick is not taught in the book. This surprised me a little since it is such a favourite of mine. That said - keeping the explanation in blog form only is useful since it allows Andy to show the gorgeous video that he makes use of at the climax of this strange effect.

The good news is that Andy takes the basic structure of the above effect and extends it some more with a trick that takes place over a week or so. This is the trick that makes use of his smartphone app. In this effect - Andy touches on a concept he calls One Person Dual Reality. And to my mind - this amounts to a new principle in magic. There is nothing more fun than coming across a new principle in magic. And since this principle has its roots in one of the most powerful principles in mentalism it opens the door to miracles.

The last trick in the book has a simple and exciting effect - a camera that allows you to photograph the future. Along with one of the most complicated methods I have ever seen. There seems to be about 12 different ideas underpinning the method to this trick. The trick also makes use of a smartphone (which I don't own). So it was doubly hard for me to follow the thinking behind this effect. That said I look forward to the challenge of learning this trick in the future.

As with so much of Andy's work you will not see anything else like this in magic. The trick was useful for me since Andy says the effect was inspired by his love for the TV series The Twilight Zone. And if I had to sum up Andy's efforts in magic it is to try and take the strange aesthetic of that TV series and apply it to magic.

It is not so much about performing a trick for somebody. But instead transporting them to a new reality where something impossible is now part of their world and you play both experience that world together.

This allows the magician to explore new areas.

On the one hand - you can achieve some of the most impossible and compelling magic ever created. But on the other hand - you allow the spectator to join you on a fun journey where you let her decide how she wants to respond. In that sense it allows you to perform an elaborate prank on the spectator and take the credit for being so invested in your friendship with her that you would commit to something like this just to provide her with a brief moment of wonder or surprise.

Andy takes this thinking to its limit in the epilogue to the book in which he details an elaborate magic trick he arranged for a close friend. It is the most amazing thing I have ever read in magic. And the pay-off was one in which she was profoundly blown away for the first minute before figuring out that the whole thing was an elaborate set up. So the impact of the trick goes from astonishment to surprise to awe mixed with affection that somebody would go to such lengths to provide a moment of astonishment.

This is a new door in magic which has not been noticed before. And for the amateur performer it is an intriguing one to consider. Andy's work is 100% focused on amateurs who are performing for friends and family. As such issues of practicality or even issues of "fooling somebody" are not the main goals of his magic.

Fooling somebody with the world's greatest magic for a minute before the whole thing starts to unravel is a worthy goal in itself. And will be just as memorable and fun as any other type of magic where the only goal is in fooling the spectator.

His thoughts in this area are very interesting. And is a lesson for amateurs that the tools of magic can be used in more elaborate ways than simply fooling somebody.

It is great to see The Twilight Zone inspire a new way of thinking about magic. And I thank Andy for taking that inspiration and using it to create a new type of magic. We are very lucky he has shared his work with the rest of us.

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

[1] http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2015/6/27/acorns

[2] http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/8/11/thinking-big-and-small (This is from the second year of the blog - but I thought I would provide a link anyway)

[3] http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2015/7/5/presentation-week-addendum-1

[4] http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2015/7/6/a-magic-book

[5] http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2015/7/7/multiple-universe-selection

[6] Here are a couple of paragraphs that I found amusing from Andy's original description of this effect:

So the spectator thinks of one of the words in your bank of words, in some way or another. You rest your fingers lightly on the pen, it point to B. “Does your word start with B? It doesn’t? Hmmm, well sometimes as the letters travel through the ether,” if they believe in ghosts they probably believe in the ether, “things get transposed or flipped around. There is a B somewhere in your word, right?” If they say no, you immediately know their word, throw back your head and say, “Oh great spirits, send us a less retarded ghost please.” And the next ghost can name the word exactly.

There are a few different ways I can think to end this once you know the word. You could just have the pen start spelling out the word in order over and over again. If the word is something in the room itself, then the pen can point towards the actual item in the room. Or you could just flip out and act like you’ve been inhabited by the spirit that was moving the pen and say what the word is. “Ackkk, acckkk…. Andy is no more. It is I, the ghost of your uncle Toby. I’ve been watching you. You masturbate too much. You’re thinking of the word ‘butterscotch.’ Let Andy have sex with your girlfriend or you will be dead by week’s end.” Then you wake up and act all scared, “What happened? What did he say? That was so scary, I think we should do whatever he recommends.”


[7] http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/8/17/in-search-of-lost-time

[8] http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2015/6/22/cellphone-magic

Joe Mckay
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Joe Mckay » September 25th, 2016, 6:27 pm

Andy's description of the book can be found here:

http://www.thejerx.com/buy-the-book/

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 25th, 2016, 9:00 pm

He's not "giving" the book to anyone. You pay $260 for it.
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performer
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby performer » September 25th, 2016, 10:29 pm

That is a very expensive book. In fact I don't think I have ever heard of a magic book with such a high price. Still, I want to be fair. How many pages has it? Are there photographs or illustrations? What is the quality of the printing and paper?

I can't believe anyone would pay that kind of money for a book but obviously some people have.

Jack Shalom
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Jack Shalom » September 26th, 2016, 5:08 am

Joe has been kind enough to do quite a bit of leg work for Genii forum readers. If you actually read all his footnotes in order, you'll be able to make a rational decision as to whether Andy's site is worth supporting.

Millions support enterprises like PBS and receive thank you gifts that cost less than the donation made. I work at a radio station that runs on such a model. The tote bags and mugs are not $250 items.

To answer Mark, the book is about 350 pages, well bound hardback with line drawings, the other included booklet is about 30 pages softback, there is an included cellphone app as well. I would say the items if retailed at a dealer would run at least $100.

But frankly, if you don't want to pay, you can get an amazing value by reading Joe's footnotes.

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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 26th, 2016, 8:27 am

performer wrote:That is a very expensive book. In fact I don't think I have ever heard of a magic book with such a high price. ...


Harbin's book?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

performer
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby performer » September 26th, 2016, 8:39 am

Since I haven't the slightest idea what a "cellphone app" actually is I would have no interest in it anyway. In fact the very mention of such a horrible thing quite puts me off the book altogether. I think cellphones are a curse on humanity and if I had my way I would make the bloody things illegal.

As for Robert Harbin at least I have heard of him and even met him. He was a very noted magician who will go down in the
history of magic. And I have never heard him swear either in print or in person. On the other hand I have no idea who this Andy chap actually is.

I shall read the footnotes. Hopefully they will be worth more than I have paid for them.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 26th, 2016, 10:50 am

You could compare it to my book Tenyoism. Over 1,200 pages in full color, 2 volumes in a slipcase, with three tricks and four DVDs.

The Jerx book is not an expensive print job. It was done at Thompson-Shore, a printer I've used. The layout was done by a novice. Depending on how many copies he printed, I would say his cost was between $6 and $8 a book, tops.
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performer
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby performer » September 26th, 2016, 12:32 pm

$6 - $8 a book? Bloody hell! That is cheap! My own far more worthy masterpiece of world literature sells for a mere $40 and costs me $17 a book. And the layout was done by an expert.

I am doing something wrong somewhere. My opinion of Andy has gone up. Anyone that can scam $260 out of people after only paying $6 for printing does have to be admired somewhat. I am gradually warming up to him. And if the contents are as dubious as I suspect then I must say I admire him even more.

Ian Kendall
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Ian Kendall » September 26th, 2016, 3:43 pm

As I recall, the idea of the price was to enable Andy to write the blog pretty much full time; everyone who subscribed basically bought him a coffee every week, which worked out at the $260 price tag. It was not a reflection on the production cost of the book itself.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 26th, 2016, 4:59 pm

I'll say!
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David Kaplan
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby David Kaplan » September 26th, 2016, 5:42 pm

Ian is correct. After thinking it over, I gladly signed up to support Andy's writing. The inspiration and entertainment of his blog was easily worth the $5/week. I honestly feel I received my money's worth even before the book arrived. The book and app are fantastic and delightful bonuses.

Some of you will be incredulous. That's OK. Andy isn't trying to convince you to buy his book or even to read his blog. As Dunninger would have said, "For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not believe, no explanation will suffice."

Joe Mckay
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Joe Mckay » September 26th, 2016, 8:25 pm

The 260 bucks (for me) was to support Andy in his efforts. He is a talented writer who I am guessing works in real life as a creative consultant of some kind. As such - at some point - he needed to see if the support was there for him to continue the large amount of time he spent writing the blog. With a bozo like me - I have a job and a ton of free time to do other stuff. But when your main income comes from hiring yourself out on different projects - time is money when it starts eating into the time spent on projects you earn your living from.

He also hires people to do various jobs (eg an illustrator) to help make the blog something special. And that costs as well. So - the 260 bucks was ultimately a way for a number of people to step up and show their support in a way that made the whole project one that was still feasible for all concerned.

He actually had a large offer from a small group of people to share his ideas with that group instead. And Andy felt it was only fair to see if their was a way to continue the site with the original readership. As opposed to working exclusively for that small group.

http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2015/10/22/the-jerx-20-good-guys-win

The fact that he threw in a book, a couple of props, a booklet and an app (as well as a monthly email to the buyers) was just a great set of bonuses for those who are fans of how his brain works. Obviously I am not complaining about them but at the same time encouraging Andy to continue his blog was my main goal. He had already taken a ten year break from blogging about magic and nobody else came close to sharing his unique point of view. The fact that Andy 2.0 is now a genius when it comes to inventing magic is a happy and unexpected bonus.

I only care about the creativity behind somebody's thinking. As such - I don't personally get wrapped up in what a book looks like. Although the book looks fine to me.

I am just delighted that we have hit a boom in superb magic books. The recent Tomas Blomberg book, Tenyo book, Andy's book and the upcoming books covering the magic of Theo DeLand, Angelo Carbone and Lubor Fiedler. The big Gaetan Bloom books came out recently as well and that is a set of books I was starting to think would never come out. And I am delighted that Richard managed to put out another book on Japanese magic awhile ago (along with the new one from So Sato).

Thanks to everyone who bought a copy of the book. You all helped support a blog that is often the highlight of my week.

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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby stevenandrewdick » September 27th, 2016, 10:33 am

I bought the book and I'd say it's already earned its keep and is perhaps one of the better books on magic I own. I like the high price value, Keeps the secrets secret. A fun part of magic, no?

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 27th, 2016, 10:57 am

stevenandrewdick wrote:I bought the book and I'd say it's already earned its keep and is perhaps one of the better books on magic I own. I like the high price value, Keeps the secrets secret. A fun part of magic, no?


The book remains in its mailer keeping its secrets...
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

David Kaplan
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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby David Kaplan » September 27th, 2016, 11:53 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:The book remains in its mailer keeping its secrets...


Funnily enough, I also resisted opening the mailer for 10 days before giving in. Echoes of Schrödinger's cat, but with a happy outcome!

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Re: The Jerx, Volume One

Postby erdnasephile » September 27th, 2016, 2:42 pm

The one thing I'll say for Andy--he let everyone know exactly what kind of stuff they were getting in the book prior to purchase, since prospective purchasers were able to sample copious amounts of his stuff. Consequently, I would expect the satisfaction rate for this product to be very high.


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