Posts Tagged video

Classic Sponge Ball Routine

This is the “out-of-the-box” (which, in my opinion, is the OPPOSITE of “outside-of-the-box”) routine with those silly spongey balls. I sympathize with Joshua Jay when he says (in his awesome book/DVD combo “Complete Magic”) that sponge balls are weird foreign objects that sillify modern magic. (Okay, not his words, but close enough.)

But I couldn’t resist. The things are just too darn fun to play with! So I cranked up some Chili Peppers and put on a show. Enjoy:

In other news, I am working on a formal “Why the General Church Needs to Plant New Churches in New Places” argument. I’m writing it as a paper, but will also be putting together a power point presentation, and maybe a video. As I work this out, I may try just blithering ideas on video here at, as a way of getting my thoughts strait. I would love to have your feedback as I do so. So stay tuned….

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Two Magic Tricks

Here is the story of the “Obnoxious Kid”:

This is my presentation of the classic, “Triumph”, under the title, “The Obnoxious Kid”. Now, I actually love kids, and NONE of the kids I teach are actually “obnoxious”. My students are AWESOME! But it makes for a better story, this way.

The song in the background, by the way, is “Kilimanjaro” by the band, Township Bamboo, from their 1993 album, Journal of Dreams. (THAT will bring back some memories for some folks!)

And now here is “Pulling a Card Through the Deck, Two Ways”:

A simple Card Through Deck effect, with some Tom Waits (“Russian Dance”) in the background.

Have a magical day!

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Magic Practice

Here’s a random collection of effects I was working on the other day:

Originally, I was just working on my pass (which is much better than it used to be, thankfully), but then I started fooling around with some other stuff, including a still-in-progress sketch of an ACR, I’m calling the “Obnoxious Card”. Also included are a spin change, and a coin through card effect.

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Hopping Half

Another magic effect for your viewing pleasure:

As some of you know, I have formally studied stand up comedy writing and presenting as an art, as part of my pursuit of excellence in preaching (or whatever we call it). My brother Pearse tells me that (I think) Malcolm Gladwell says an expert is someone who has put 10,000 hours into their particular skill/craft/art/etc. I will never hit 10,000 hours as a public speaker if I only do it once a week. Even without any weeks off, that’ll take over 190 years. So I practice.

But I also study. And I’m a big believer in multi-disciplinary cross-training. You’ve already heard my initial thoughts on what stage magic can teach the preacher. I think the most valuable lessons stand up comedy has taught me have to do with structure and with timing. I originally started stand up because I realized that public speaking no longer made me nervous, which I took as a sign that I was no longer growing in that art. When your weight training workout no longer leaves your muscles sore, it’s past time to add on some weights, right?

So I took up comedy because, frankly, it terrified me. In stand up you get almost instantaneous feedback, moment by moment, of exactly how badly you are failing. And comedy writing is one of the most demanding and unforgiving forms of verbal communication ever attempted by man. A comedian can go from killing the crowd to drowning in his own flop sweat with the addition of just an extra syllable to his punch line.

Anyway, (and yes, I know I’m rambling, today), it very recently occurred to me that comedy and magic have so many structural/architectural parallels to one another that they are almost topologically identical! For instance, both are totally dependent upon misdirection: in magic, misdirection (either temporal, spatial or kinetic) causes the spectator to think one thing is happening, and when it has been revealed that something else has happened, the surprise causes delight; in comedy, the setup creates a “first story” in the spectator’s mind that is shattered when the punch line reveals that a “second story” was the truth all along, thus leading to surprise and delight.

Another example (that I suspect is also shared by musicians, by the way): in creating a comedian’s set list (magicians call it “routining”), a comedian will “hammock” their bits, usually putting the best material at the beginning and end, starting with something fast, finishing with something dramatic, hiding new stuff they’re still working out somewhere in the middle, and trying to overall build toward a climax. Magicians use the exact same “best trick at the end, second best at the beginning, sag a little in the middle” approach, with an emphasis on being quick hitting and visual with their opener.

It’s that first structural similarity that really gets me, though. Are there any other arts or crafts that depend so heavily on misdirection followed by surprise the way comedy and magic do?

Actually, I just remembered one: mystery writing!

Can anyone think of any others? What do you think about all this? Anyone else out there just love thinking about the “bones” of an art form like this?

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Sweet, Sweet Magic!

Got a coin? And a sugar packet? To quote the freaky alien abductees on Boobah: “Look what I can do!”

And no, no fancy camera work. You would have seen the same thing if you were here in my office with me live. Except that there’d be sugar all over your hands, rather than all over my desk.

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