Tag: Nozomi Sasaki

Guest Essay: Rip-Off or Research?

Editor: Mark Panner is filling in for us whilst we work our day job during this busy season.  His essays are not edited or approved by Inside Magic.  In fact, we usually disagree with everything he says and does.

Some call it deliberate theft, others call it inspiration. I call it inspiration because I don’t like all of the negatives that come with the word “theft.”

But I also call it pure gold.

I am talking about using great ideas from other fields to make great hordes of cash in the magic field.

Let’s face it, magicians don’t get paid what they deserve. Some practice hours and hours to perform a trick that takes 30 seconds. If you get paid by the hour, that means all of the practice gets you some money but not much money. We won’t go into the complex math here (but we could if we had to) but say you get $15.00 an hour and you do a trick that takes 30 seconds to do. That means you are only getting a part of the $15.00; like a dollar or something. This is a magic blog not an accounting blog so you can figure it out for yourself later. Take my word for it, though: you are not getting the full $15.00 for all of the work that you put into learning the trick, buying the props or making them after watching how the trick is done thanks to YouTube.

So how do magicians make the money they deserve?

First, don’t buy tricks. As I said, you can learn just about any trick out there on YouTube. Thanks to people looking to make a name for themselves, there are plenty of videos where people expose really good trick and even show you how the props they bought work. It cost them something to buy the original trick but if they are stupid enough to show the world how to make it, that works out fine for the rest of us.

Everybody knows magic tricks cost a lot because of the secret, not the props. So, if you can learn the secret from some teenager on YouTube who is showing off how proud he is to have bought the latest miracle, you don’t need to pay a dime.

Wait Mark, isn’t that stealing?

No. Because I didn’t do the stealing. I just watched a video. The guy who did the video showing how a trick worked bought the trick (or learned it from someone who bought it) and so I am pretty far down the line from anything that even looks like stealing.

Wait Mark, isn’t that taking money from inventors of great tricks?

Again, I am not taking anything from anyone. I am just watching a video. It is a free country and I am allowed to watch videos. If someone wants to show me how to make a trick that would cost $45.00 on some over-priced magic web store, who am I to complain.

Wait Mark, won’t that keep magicians from inventing new tricks?

No and so what if they do? It will teach them to price their tricks right. Charging $45.00 for the latest miracle is too much no matter what the trick is – especially if I can make it with stuff I have around the mobile home or in my company’s supply cabinet.

Plus, most of the times once I learn the secret, I don’t want to do the trick any way so there really is no loss. I just saved $45.00 and avoided the hassle of paying and waiting for the delivery and then finding out it is a stupid method and not for me.

I have always said that magic reviews should tell you exactly how a trick is done so that you can determine for yourself whether you want to buy the trick. I bought a trick two years ago at a convention here in Michigan and the guy said it was easy to do and didn’t really require any sleights.

Well, he lied. To do the trick, you had to force a card and last time I checked, that’s a sleight. If I had known that the only way the trick would work was if I forced the card at the beginning, I could have saved $45.00 and bought something from someone more honest.

Don’t get me wrong, I can do a force. In fact, I can do maybe 15 different forces but why should I if I don’t need to? Just to look cool? The guy demonstrated the trick and the way he described it was like this: a person takes a card and the card ends up in some impossible place. Now I know why he was so vague. He was hiding the secret. If I knew the secret before I bought it, I could have saved my money and bought something useful like really cool decks of cards or food.

Wait Mark, shouldn’t we reward people who work hard to invent magic tricks?

We do. We get them press in the magic magazines and they get to travel around the world doing lectures and selling their “secrets” to magic club members. We had a lecturer at our Mystic Hollow Magic Club last month who said he had been in five states in three weeks and lectured five times before coming to Michigan. I know for a fact that the club paid him over $100.00 plus paid for his hotel room at the La Quinta by the airport and some members of the “executive committee” took him to dinner at Denny’s afterwards.

So the inventor gets to put on a show for about three hours, gets paid $100, free room, free dinner plus he gets to sell his special tricks at super-inflated prices. I watched pretty carefully and he sold about $50.00 worth of lecture notes and gimmicks. So, put that all together and he is taking in $150.00 for a three-hour show. Math is not my strong part but that is close to $50.00 an hour. Is he a brain surgeon or a lawyer? No, but he is charging those kinds of rates. So who is really “stealing” here?

He would keep touring and visiting magic clubs even if he didn’t sell anything because he is getting a free room and free food plus $100.00 a lecture. Sounds like a sweet gig if you ask me. I do table-hopping at the IHOP (I have a whole bunch of jokes about “hopping at the IHOP” – they are really funny) and have never cleared $100.00 from a weekend of work. It is hard for me to feel sorry for someone who gets to travel, stay in nice places, eats free (yes, I get free breakfast at IHOP but that is something I just do, they are not “officially” giving it to me).

I am writing a book (my fifth one this year!) about this secret to learning secrets and I will be selling it on Amazon and eBay. And before you get any ideas, don’t even think about trying to rip me off because I am going to get a copyright on it.

My dad used to say, “It’s a dog eat dog world, Mark. Make sure you’re the dog and not the other dog.”

Mark Panner Fills In for Us

We have been very busy at our daytime job.

That has kept us from the spacious office suite here on Santa Monica Boulevard where this humble magic news outlet makes its home in West Hollywood, California.

It is good to be busy but bad to be neglecting of the tens of people who read Inside Magic religiously – and by “religiously” we mean by candlelight, copious amounts of incense and chanting.

We have asked one of the least qualified but most available magic writers (so it averages out) to take over for the next few days or until readership drops below the web equivalent of anemic.

Readers of Inside Magic may remember Mr. Panner for his contributions in the past to this and other magic websites. You can read his horrible review of Inside Magic Favorite magician Bob Sheets here.

He is related to us through a complicated story of inter-marriage and bad life-choices but we offer him space here only as a matter of convenience for us, not because it is in the interest of marital bliss.

Mr. Panner has published several books on magic, all self-published and, as we understand it, still unread. He has claimed to have invented several of the greatest effects in our art including:

The Balls and Cups (his take on the classic “The Cups and Balls”), Card to Walet (intentionally misspelled in an effort to avoid litigation and scorn by the creators of “Card to Wallet”), Torn Newspaper (the review in Magic Magazine noted that it was a fine effect but lacked the ending audiences have come to expect from similar routines like “The Torn and Restored Newspaper”), and the now disregarded Paint Ball Catching Trick.

The Paint Ball Catching Trick was marketed as a safe alternative to the deadly Bullet Catch. In the litigation that followed the meager sales of the effect, we learned that while the trick did not risk being shot in the face with a real bullet, the content of the particular brand of paint balls sold with the trick contained enough lead to shave years off the life of even a casual performer and “condemned his or her progeny to a dramatically higher risk of mental disability.”

Mr. Panner decided re-market the effect with instructions discouraging the “chewing of the paintball or rolling it around in the mouth for an extended period of time.”

You can still find the original version with the now discredited instructions on eBay.

Mr. Panner complained to the magic community that he was being undersold by “cheap, Chinese imports.” The magic community apparently did not care.

Mr. Panner has performed shows for hundreds of paying customers and clients throughout the Midwest – but never for the same client twice. He says this practice is due to his “constant, driving forced (sic) to keep things fresh.” He also points out that the Better Business Bureau rating is “probably wrong because people only complaint (sic) and never say good things to the BBB.”

For the record, he denies ripping off Criss Angel’s Believe with his own, limited tour of “Bee Leave.” Also for the record, Criss Angel denies caring at all about Mr. Panner’s two hour illusion show featuring the magician dressed in a costume described by a reporter for the Urbana, Illinois daily as “cross between Criss Angel and a effeminate bumble bee.”

Mr. Panner’s contributions will begin later today (or possibly tomorrow) and, as is our practice, will be unedited. Mr. Panner describes the process as “keeping it real, raw.” We describe it as “being lazy, real lazy.”

We should be back in the office with renewed energy and new stories in the next week or so.

It is entirely likely we will be back sooner if Mr. Panner performs as predicted.

Magician Troy Von Scheibner Lauded in UK Press

According to press reports, the entire pop band One Direction asked UK Magician Troy Von Scheibner a very valid question, “What is wrong with you, why have you eaten a balloon?”

We realized as we wrote this sentence that if we failed to mention that Mr. Von Scheibner is a magician, the teen-fave super-group’s question would likely not have garnered such prominent placement in a major metropolitan daily.  It would be just another group of musicians combined for purposes of hitting the top of the charts and asking questions about the eating habits of young people.  Like when the Beatles famously asked 19-year-old Mobile, Alabama car wash cashier Harriet Williamson, “Why do you only eat the tops of muffins?” or the Asian Touring Edition of Les Miserables inquired of Japanese supermodel Nozomi Sasaki, “Why do you eat so little in the way of green vegetables.”

Hardly news.

But because Mr. Von Scheibner is a magician, the question reveals that he performed a trick for the loveable lads that make up One Direction.  He did not really eat a balloon – we think.  He just did a trick that gave the impression that a balloon was eaten.

It is a well-respected journalistic technique employed by Susannah Butter, the smitten writer for The London Evening Standard.

Ms. Butter is impressed with the young performer and star of his own television show, Troy.   She admits she is frustrated by his skills and her inability to uncover his secrets but she clearly fancies him.

Troy Von Scheibner is the closest thing to a superhero London has. He uses his powers to help others. “I was outside a party with Thandie Newton,” the magician tells me. “She asked for a lighter. I didn’t have one but I made one appear. She kissed me on the cheek and I thought, ‘I’ll never wash my face again’.”

We do not know Thandie Newton but she must be very attractive or famous or both to cause someone to risk acne and general scruffiness from a single, tobacco-smoke infused kiss.  For you younger magicians, remember that audiences will judge you on your appearance and hygiene so make good choices and form good habits.  Mr. Von Scheibner notes later in the article that he was kidding about not washing. “Presentation is part of the job done so I’ve always made sure I look the part – nails clean, hair done.”

And as for smoking, as someone once said, “cigarettes and kittens are wonderful and safe until you pop one in your mouth and light it on fire.”

Mr. Von Scheibner seems to have a good head on his shoulders and is unlikely to have it turned by the fawning of amorous media types or smoking damsels in distress.  He became intrigued with magic after watching David Blaine and clearly enjoys the attention our craft brings him.

At school he was known as “Magic Boy”, and if anyone teased him about it he won’t admit it. “I stopped performing for people at university because when you are known as the magic man everyone wants you to do tricks all the time. Sometimes I just want to chill so I kept it on the low.” Does it impress women? “It does. Girls are like: ‘You must be so good with your hands’. I don’t deny it.”

Ms. Butter ends her article with a purr: “Von Scheibner, I salute you – next time I need a cigarette lighter I will try my hardest to conjure you up.”

Editor’s note: we normally would have an image of Mr. Von Scheibner accompanying this article but were unable to find any available for editorial use.

Check out the full profile here.

Dan Garrett’s Heartz Is a Keeper

Inside Magic Favorite Magician Dan Garrett’s newest effect Heartz is a winner.

We have spent incredible amounts of money for effects we have never used or even opened.  Most of the items were brought home and immediately condemned to permanent storage in our old steamer trunk or magic junk drawer.

Those effects probably grabbed our interest initially but lost their luster by the time we returned to our estate.  We are neither wasteful nor wealthy so we have tried to break this habit.

We now only buy magic tricks that we will actually perform.  It does not have to be a trick we would include in our professional act.  If we are sure we will perform it somewhere for someone, it is worthy of further consideration.

Few tricks may the cut.

Mr. Garrett’s Heartz is one of those very few tricks worthy of our attention and funds.

Here is what the audience sees.  We know this to be true because we sat in the audience during Mr. Garrett’s lecture last week when he performed.

The magician’s hands are empty.  He or she brings them together to form a heart shape.  The hands are still empty.  Slowly, the hands are rotated and a bright red sponge heart magically appears.

Let us review.

Hands are empty.

Hands are brought together to form the shape of a heart and can still be seen to be empty.

The hands turn slightly and a red heart appears between the fingers.

We were fooled and we watched Mr. Garrett carefully – we were getting wise to his tricky ways by that point in the lecture – and were amazed when the red heart appeared.

He held a red pen behind the sponge heart to resemble Cupid’s arrow.   In one fluid movement, the heart was split into two separate hearts; setting up a nice sponge ball routine with love as its theme. Continue reading “Dan Garrett’s Heartz Is a Keeper”

Happy Birthday to Nozomi Sasaki

Inside Magic Favorite Nozomi Sasaki (“??? ?”) celebrates her birthday today.

We do not imagine she donned a Magician’s Rabbit costume as part of her fete but the press release from Fujicolor said she magically transformed into a bunny.

Fujicolor is celebrating its annual post card promotion and apparently wanted to show off the quality of its digital products by having gravure idol Nozomi Sasaki hidden within a big pink costume just in time to celebrate the Chinese new year which coincidentally is the Year of the Rabbit.

Yes, we know that Fujicolor and Nozomi Sasaki are Japanese but the press release said the costume was in recognition of the Chinese New Year.

That’s good enough for us.

Happy Birthday, Miss Sasaki-chan!

Here is a less costumed image of Miss Sasaki.

The Gifts of Christmas Made Magical

Nathan Kranzo is an established Inside Magic favorite and regular at Mystic Hollow’s magic bar The Thumb Tip Inn.

Nathan Kranzo dropped us a line to boast he has completed his Holiday shows and has apparently completed shopping and/or decided which household objects will be re-gifted to loved ones.

We have finished nothing. We had great plans for this year. We were going to develop a comprehensive schedule for shows, surveys, and shopping. We thought it wise to include “surveying” as a task this year to ensure our gifts were desired – or would at least be tolerated.

Our idea of giving library books last year did not earn the type of admiration and praise we expected. We thought it showed the ultimate in consideration and thought.

It was a gift they would return and yet we picked out books we thought they would enjoy. Some saw it as cheap. Coincidentally, those who considered our gesture miserly, were the very same who failed to return the books on time, thereby incurring late fees.

In the spirit of the holidays, we offered to split the penalties but some recipients lacked the grace and maturity to accept the offer without sarcasm or acerbic comments about us.

Those people are off our list this year. That means we only need to buy for two people outside the immediate family.  And yet, we still have not moved in any substantive way to make those purchases. Danger lurks where procrastination encounters frugality.

For the man who takes care of our car, we intend to buy a gift certificate to an area dry cleaner.

We realize tow truck operators are not supposed to be judged on their cleanliness or fashion sense, but every time we see him hitching up our 5 cylinder Mustang GT, he looks slovenly.

We think people would feel more accepting of his lowly and despicable job of repossessing vehicles if he dressed as if he was doing a job rather than engaging in a very annoying hobby.

For our newest object of far-away and unrequited feelings of inappropriate desires, Nozomi Sasaki, we will keep with tradition and send her what we sent to her predecessors in the role of object of creepy attention, a custom made block of Post-It Notes® with poetry on each individual sheet.

Miss Sasaki is what the Japanese call a gravure idol.  We have no idea what “gravure” means.  At first we thought it was that jelly that has bits of rind mixed in.  Apparently that is not even close.  You can see Nozomi Sasaki as the front person for Lotte’s Fit Gum campaign here.  She performs magic but we feel very confident the transformations are camera trickery, though. Be careful listening, however. The song will stick to your brain like well-chewed gum.

Neither Tonya Harding or Lindsay Lohan ever returned our gifts or turned it over to local authorities as evidence, ergo, it is the perfect gift.

But because Nozomi Sasaki is Japanese, we spent extra time writing many of the poems in Haiku form. We are thoughtful, no?

Here is one of the poems:

Magic performing

Hoping to back palm whole deck

Fingers bleed always

But Nathan Kranzo does not have to worry about creating an international incident by sending an unsolicited gift about bloody digits trying to back palm 52 cards effectively. Nay, he has completed his work. He can now play with his kids and offer readers of Inside Magic a gift.

Mr. Kranzo describes his gift as “one of my favorite card effects.”

We understand he has not tipped it before today and we can see why. It is very good and we really like the patter.

CLICK HERE FOR YOUR FREE HOLIDAY CARD EFFECT!!!
But that’s not all, Mr. Kranzo is also offering a Buy One – Get One Free sale through January 2, 2011.

Order any of his more than 27 DVDs, effects, or downloads, and get another one of lesser value for free.

After you order, send Mr. Kranzo an email at nathankranzo@gmail.com and he’ll hook you up.

Be sure to check out his great site here: www.kranzomagic.com.

Bob Sheets – Guest Review

Guest Contributor Mark Panner submits articles to Inside Magic on almost a daily basis. For the most part, we reject them but still try to encourage his work. He took a break from listening to his Bearcat CB/Police Band Scanner to critique Bob Sheet’s work at this weekend’s Glass City Magic Conclave in Toledo. We began to edit the story but due to time constraints, we decided to just run it as is. This is an encore publication of the original article.


Write this name down: Bob Sheets. I don’t know if he goes by “Bob” or “Robert” but friends, let me tell you, you’ll be hearing from him again no matter what he is called.

As many readers know, we keep our pulse on Magic’s wrist and know just about everyone that is anyone in the business. We’re tight with the big names in our profession like Darin Brown, J. Marshal, Dave Copperfield, and even the first lady of magic, Matilda Saxe. But we had not come across this newcomer before. Chances are that if you are not as connected as we are, you haven’t heard of Bobby Sheets either.

Mr. Sheets was appearing at the Glass City Conclave in Toledo, Ohio this weekend. On the whole, we think he has a chance to go all the way. He has an affable style that reminds us of ourselves. He is unpredictable in his behavior — just like us. He does new magic or at least new to us — and we will be doing the same tricks soon. So, Mr. Sheets struck a chord with us.

We’re always looking to help the new kid on the block get gigs and further lecture dates. He is not really a kid. In fact, we thought it kind of neat that someone of his advanced age would be getting into magic this late in life. But, remember Churchill (with whom we were very tight) didn’t start water coloring until he was 87 — and by then, he’d already out-lived FDR. (FDR, by the way, did a completely nasty version of the slop shuffle, into a Doc Dailey’s trick — no one knew at the time it would be Doc’s last trick).

Mr. Sheets is a sturdy man. He looks to be one who works out or perhaps he has just had a very hard life and earned his muscles and physique by lifting barges and toting bales. His hands, though, are without tremor and his gait appears within acceptable range. He speaks without a noticeable accent or stammer. Despite his marred smile (he has a gap between his upper teeth – we discuss this later), he projects his voice well and without a hissing sound. His eyes were alert and focused on objects without confusion. His posture was remarkable for a man of his age.

What may limit his budding career is his trick selection. We’ve been around a while and know the tricks that sell and those that don’t. No mom is going to hire a magician who stabs cards on her dining room table while blindfolded — it just won’t happen. This kind of magic won’t sell in the restaurant venues either. Managers at the IHOP (where we perform each Tuesday night and then on Thursday night as our other character, Fluffy the Clown) were very clear: no fire, no furniture damage, and no race-baiting.

Mr. Sheets (and we are assuming that is his stage name) doesn’t use any blue material in his act and that is a plus because you will never get the birthday party bookings if they know you say sexist stuff or talk like a drunk sailor — we know this from experience.

Let’s talk for a second about the Knife Trick this novice with potential does.

He invites a young person out of the audience and then has him (it was a boy when we saw it but it could have been a girl) go back down into the audience give four people one card each. They were supposed to select a card freely from the boy but he didn’t really do that. He just sort of handed them to the people. No matter how hard you work with volunteers, you need to remember they may not understand your instructions.

Now, the boy has to walk back up the stairs to look at a blindfold Mr. Sheets is going to put over his eyes. He tells everyone that the blindfold is real and stuff and that no one can see through it.

Now, Mr. Sheets has the boy draw a funny face picture on the card he selected and writes his name. When we saw it, his name was “Gary” but it could have been any name and even a girl’s name if he had been a girl.

So far, so good. Mr. Sheets comes down into the audience and collects the four cards while Gary is writing his name, “Gary,” on the face of the card he picked.

Mr. Sheets then walks back up to the stage and has Gary cut the full deck in three piles.

Okay, let’s stop here for a second. We know that he’ll pick up showmanship the longer he is in the business but tip to Bobby, make your actions logical. The audience knows Gary could have just picked up all the cards while he was down there. You could have thrown him the magic marker so he could write his name, “Gary,” on the card while he still sitting in the audience.

Audiences notice things like this. And why cut the deck in to three piles? Anyway, he’ll learn.

So now Gary puts the blindfold on Mr. Sheets. Mr. Sheets said something weird that no one got about how people think he can still see through the blindfold and “I used to push bread dough in my eyes and wrap my head like a turban but they still thought I could see.”

Excuse us? Bread dough? Where is a magician supposed to come up with bread dough? And who puts bread dough in their eyes to prove they can’t see — or for that matter, wraps their head like a mummy — especially if they already have bread dough in their eye sockets?

We’ve checked all of the big internet magic shops and no one sells Magician’s Bread Dough or Bread Dough Hold-Outs. L and L do not carry a DVD about bread dough. In fact, we have reviewed our entire magic video library and no where does Michael Ammar mention bread dough on any of his tapes.

He was talking crazy talk.

Gary is his eyes for the next part.

He has Gary move his hand and knife over each of the three piles.

Oh, wait, did we forget to tell you he had a knife.

Yes, he did. A big knife.

It was shaped like a lightening bolt and looked more fitting for a gang member or a prisoner during a riot than a magician. Note to Mr. Sheets, knives scare people. Who hasn’t been cut accidentally when they’re trying to use a knife to cut a bagel or as a substitute for a Phillips head screwdriver? You will get a lot further by losing the knife and doing the trick with something less threatening. A knitting needle or even a balloon that is shaped like a knife would work.

One of the balloon objects we’re asked to do all the time at the IHOP when we appear as Fluffy the Clown is a “sword.” We can make them like a pirate sword or a regular sword. The kids love them and the parents love them because they know the swords aren’t real — they can’t hurt their kids. Mr. Sheets, parents are very protective of their kids — which is natural — but they are not going to want you swinging something that looks like a prison shiv near their children even if you weren’t wearing a blindfold or “bread dough in your eyes.”

This may be picky but we need to say it to help Mr. Sheets get better: have a girl come up on stage with you. There were many pretty girls in the audience last night and you could have had one of them help you. You could even have some fun with it by whistling at them as they walked up, or asking if they’re married, or give a big smile when they bend over to pick up the cards you drop.

When you had Gary grab your arm to move the knife over the cards, it sent a mixed message. Two men on stage shouldn’t be holding hands; especially if one has a knife and the other just tied a scarf on the man’s head. We’re not being politically correct here but you need to know that people may not be as tolerant as I am with “alternative life-styles.” If a girl was holding your arm, it would make sense and you could even joke with her about liking pain and so “please grip tight and stick your hot, sexy finger nails in my skin.” With a boy, you can’t do that without offending people.

Anyway, he tries to mix the cards around the table with the tip of the gangster blade.

Another critique: we know you are just starting out in the business but the table did not look magical at all. It looked like a suitcase stand from a hotel room with a board on top. There was no mystery to it.

We love our Black Art Table that we got from Tannens in the late 1980’s. It has gold fringe and two wells built into the table itself. There is even a servante (that’s like a ledge in the back). When audiences see the table, they know there is mystery afoot.

Your table, Mr. Sheets, just seemed like a prop you threw together at the hotel. There was no reason for the audience to suspect anything about the table and so you lose a lot of misdirection potential. Next time, plan your show ahead of time and get the right props. You might want to put a drape on the front of the board so that the audience can’t see that you “borrowed” a luggage rack from your motel room.

Back to the routine.

Because Mr. Sheets is blindfolded, he can’t see what he is doing while he mixes the cards. Again, he needed to think through his routine before getting up on stage. There were cards flying everywhere and some even fell off the table. It looked sloppy and poorly planned.

If he had done this without the blade and without the blindfold, he could have neatly arranged the cards around the table top. Audiences like to know you are in control; cards flying off the table are not control. Moms do not want to have to pick up after you leave the party. Keep it neat and tidy and you’ll get referrals.

Now Mr. Sheets proceeds to stab each of the audience member’s cards. This was neat but too chancy. What if he had accidentally knocked one of the selected cards off the table while mixing them? He’d be stuck. He’d have no trick. And he would get no pity from the audience because they would blame him for making such a mess in the first place. They would say to themselves, “Oh, of course he can’t find the card because he accidentally flung it across the room and it is now stuck in some bread dough or birthday cake.”

The fact that he could stab the right four cards in order was a miracle but not one he can depend on doing again. He was just lucky the cards were still on the table and that he could stab them.

He really took unnecessary chances with the final stab. He kept “mixing” the cards with his knife and pretty much cleared the table of all but a few cards. He then stabbed but because he couldn’t see, he missed the few remaining cards.

This makes sense and is another reason to not be sloppy. If he had more cards on the table, the chances of him missing a card and stabbing just the table are decreased dramatically. Either drop the blindfold so you can see where you are stabbing or leave more cards on the table. To do it this way just made it look like you were stabbing blindly and had no idea what you would hit. Audiences want to know you are in control.

Under the theory that even a blind squirrel finds a nut sometimes, Mr. Sheets got very lucky again by stabbing one of only a few remaining cards on the table. Sure enough, it was Gary’s, complete with his signature, “Gary,” and his smiley face.

Here are some suggestions from someone who has been doing this a long time, Mr. Sheets.

Number one; lose the knife for the reasons mentioned earlier.

Number two, don’t wear a blindfold if you’re going to use a knife — you need to see where you are stabbing.

Number three; don’t fling cards all over the place when you’re mixing them. You got lucky this time, but you would have no “out” (a magic term meaning an alternative ending to a trick that has gone wrong) if the selected cards were on the floor.

Number four; don’t talk like a crazy person. Don’t say crazy things like you’re going to push bread dough in your eyes. No one has ever done it and it sounds like you are a wierdo. You don’t think moms want you to tell their children to push bread dough or cookie dough or, worse, Play dough into their eyeballs.

Number three, why not have the last card appear in your zippered wallet? The knife thing is neat, but as we said, too risky.

When we have people sign their names on cards like Gary did, we make the card appear someplace special like our zippered-wallet. Audiences understand that.

There was no surprise (except for the mixing part) that Gary’s card was on the table somewhere. It was there at the beginning before you started mixing the deck.

You might worry audiences would think it is weird for you to have a zippered wallet. First, it is no weirder than pushing bread dough in your orbits. Second, they know you are a magician and so you would have special, magical things. Just like we have a table that looks like it could be hiding anything, they know there must be something “special” or “magical” about our zippered wallet.

Finally, number four, why not do the act silently or to music? Audiences love music and they love to see magicians do magic to music. You could use some appropriate song like “Mack the Knife” or “Big Spender” or “The Girl from Emphysema.” The “Big Spender” song would fit because there is a line in it where she (the singer) says, “So let me get right to the point.” “The Girl from Emphysema” is a good one because it features Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass. They are well-known and catchy. It is one of those songs we have all heard a million times but no one knows the title.

This Bobby Sheets may not make it to the IHOP (I don’t know if he does a clown and balloon act) but he should do well in some other setting. He may want to check out bar magic. Back in Chicago, we had bars where the bartender would do magic tricks and it went over well. They would get a little extra tip for their effort. We’re guessing a week’s worth of extra tips would be roughly equal to our two days at IHOP.

Plus, people at bars are usually sloppy and they would not be so offended by the cards flying all over the place — but please check with your manager to see if it is alright first.

He was good. Even though it sounds like we were picking on him, it was only for his own good. By the way, he should get his tooth fixed. He has a gap in his smile. Someone in the bathroom said they thought that made him look “charming” or “charismatic.”

Take it from a man who dated a girl who was going to be a dental hygienist, get it fixed and feel better about you. We know that it can be fixed relatively easily and it would give you a whole new level of confidence. Maybe you could push some bread dough in the gap and no one would know. We’re joking, don’t put the bread dough in your teeth, all dough made with yeast has some sugar component and that can eat through the enamel of your teeth. Remember, a good smile improves your “face value.”

Well, we’re off to work now. Still intrigued by the bread dough comment though. We wonder if you could do a cut-and-restored Pillsbury Dough boy trick. You could still use the big knife and kids will understand how if you put two pieces of dough together, they will rejoin. Think about it and good luck, Bobby.