Miles Baltrusaitis

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one-week-seriesWhy Learning Magic?

I watched Deceptive Practice: The Mysteries and Mentors of Ricky Jay on Netflix and I enjoyed it. The movie reminded me of a childhood friend's dad (Mr. Brennan) who also did some magic. His act had a big reveal that ended with opening a new pack of cards and pulling "my" card from the new deck. I probably played it down at the time but I remember it 25 years later so it must have left an impression. 

I've always felt pretty clumsy with cards so I figured if I dedicated some time, I might improve my gracefulness with shuffling and presentation. 

What did I do to learn magic?

I started at reddit magic. I'm pretty new to reddit but I've been using internet forums for a long time so I figured a place like this would have the basics readily available as a sticky towards the top of threaded discussions. The threads I found recommended the book The Royal Road to Card Magic so I got it.

The book starts with shuffling. The first shuffle it teaches was the overhand shuffle, which apparenly becomes the basis for controlling the top card of the deck, the top two cards of the deck or a set amount of cards towards the top of the deck. After I felt comfortable with that, I went looking for how to do card fanning. Got pretty confident with that too. 


How was a week of learning magic?

As hard as I imagined. I've tried palming things like cards and coins in the past. False passing objects between hands is hard. I can sometimes get the transfer from one hand to the other pretty smoothly but it results in a momentary illusion as the object is just in the other hand. 

The overhand shuffle was actually a lot of fun. I did it on the train commute (about 1 hour each way) so I got pretty good at it. 


Learning from this book was a real challenge at times. It is dominated by thick paragraph text supported by occasional pencil illustrations. Following the directions sometimes left gaps in between the hand movements so I ended up supplementing the book's instructions with youtube videos. Here's one below.

What surprised me about learning magic?

Using my hands for something was really a big part of the fun. Life lately is too much computer typing and mousing, cell phone thumb swiping and tablet tapping, so it was fun to feel dexterous and graceful with my hands. 

Another thing that surprised me (but probably shouldn't have in hindsight) was the magic jargon. Phrases like packets of cards, injogs, double lifts, waterfalls and the hindu shuffle. All of these phrases have very specific meanings. They make up a standard lexicon among magicians. Just the presence of a common naming system was impressive to me and motivated me to learn more magic vocabulary. 

Will you continue to learn magic?

Totally. Having fun watching my improvement. I want to work on coin stuff as well as continue to work on cards.