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Profile of Dynamike
On Oct 18, 2017, RayRannala wrote:
I have been doing the die box for kids for many years. I like it enough to want to include it in my adult show. I am interested in ideas for an entertaining story line. I am looking for fresh ideas that would appeal to adults with a humorous angle. Any concepts come to mind or do you know anyone performing this for adults? I would love to see their take on this classic.

Thanks in advance four your input!


Customize the die to be painted as a safe. Take a spectator’s ring and place it inside the top of the safe. Have the top of the safe connected with hinges or use the vanishing clock method. Close the top and lock it with a small padlock. Place it in the chest so it will disappear. Explain to the audience it did not work right. Tell the ring owner you will talk to them later about their ring. A few tricks later show an empty chest/container. Next, pull out the safe. Unlock the safe to show their ring is still inside.

You can tell the story smart safes are invented now. When a burglar breaks in someone’s house to steal a safe with jewelry, the safe will always return to a certain location for security.
Dick Oslund
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Profile of Dick Oslund
As noted above, I found Jon Racherbaumer's History of the DOUSE BOX. Howsomever, I've been in HOSPITAL for a week, and will return to hospital for a gall bladder
operation this coming week. I don't know when I'll be home again.
Dick Oslund
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I did send the die box history material to Rainbowguy. I know that he is busy, but, he will get it on here when he gets a free minute!
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Profile of Rainboguy
Dick, God Love Him, ( THANK YOU DICK!) did send me the Jay Marshall Die Box (Douse Box) Routine. The Routine is currently enjoying it's rightful place in approximately One Million Pages of Material that Dick asked me to "watch over" for him. And I'm happy to help do that for him.

That Routine, along with one of Jay's actual LOVELY little Die (Douse) Boxes that he owned and used, and Jay's GREAT line...."One of The Better, Cheaper, Acts", are now part of my "Magical Inheritance", with thanks to Dick Oslund, Sandy Marshall, and The Jay Marshall Estate.

I feel honored!

In my opinion, The Classic Die Box is one of the GREAT CLASSICS of Magic, but, like every other Magic Prop, fiddling with the prop in front of a paying audience, is not, in itself, inherently entertaining.

One thing about the greats of Magic, like Jay Marshall, is that they FOCUSED on being an ENTERTAINING ACT...otherwise.......THEY COULDN"T MAKE A LIVING!!!

So, take a classic prop like the classic die box, put a LOT of thought into it, give the performance the benefit of YOUR personality, and remembering to ENGAGE the audience, it can work!

Jay used his "Douse Box" bit in USO Shows way back in the day, for it had to be commercial, right to the point, and, most importantly, IT HAD TO PLAY. I will say that I read and re-read Jay's Routine, and yes, it was clever, benefitted from Jay's unique personality, and, of course, played into Jay's lifelong CRAFT of being a WORDSMITH with his <<pulling your leg, double entendre>> patter lines....

Like all truly commercial routines, it was simple, easy to-follow, and had a beginning, middle, and end......

Jay used a very basic, somewhat "smallish" Standard Die Box...nothing double front, magnetic doors, etc........his routine also requires a table, and a folding Top Hat.......

The Routine begins by Jay showing the prop while Jay exclaimed, "Now, I'd like to show you the famous vanishing douse.......the singular of father told me to never say die."

The die is shown resting on the opening of the flat Top Hat while Jay's opening lines are delivered, and the die is picked up shows it as a solid die, and replaces it on the opening of the hat.

"Watch carefully.....One...two....three!" The hat is now SNAPPED open on the count of three, and of course, the die falls into the open hat and out of view.."The douse's GONE!"

The next part, (the middle) of the routine simply focuses on Jay's unique "pulling-your-leg", self-depracating by-play with the audience with the now-vanished die and box...."You don't think I would try and deceive you in such an unsportsmanlike fashion do you? You do?" "Don't you trust me?"

A PERSONAL SIDE-NOTE.....Jay was understandably proud of his Scottish Heritage, and used it to his advantage in his performances, often "borrowing-from and adapting" some of the presentation and unique style of Magicians from Great Britain who had to make their livings as performers in working-man's clubs. Sometimes those audiences were a bit "rough around the edges", and those performers had to keep their audiences interested and entertained, and the patter they used simple had to be funny and evoke BIG LAUGHS. In other words, they KNEW WHAT LINES WORKED!.....Witness Terry Seabrooke's lines as he "handles" an audience assistant on-stage...."Here.....stand here...."looking up"........"right under the cement bag"...or "Do you have any money you can give me? You must have money. You're sure not spending it on clothes!"

Jay took some of that "British Dry Comedic Attitude" and toned-it down a tiny bit for American audiences.

So, the middle of the Routine is simply dry bi-play with the audience, prior to the end, which is the classic reveal of the die in the hat.

In my opinion, this is one of Jay's "Personality Pieces"......kinda like his Linking Rings Routine and Juan Escadero story, all were a PART of what made the man the performer who he was......

To sum up, in my opinion, what we have here is "A Classic of Magic, done the Jay Marshall Way!"

And that, in itself, I think... is saying something!
Dick Oslund
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Yup!I first met Jay at Abbott's GTG, in '64. It was just a casual thing. 5 years later, when he caught my school show, we became friends for life. Well, after the show, he asked me where are you staying? I said, that I would find a motel for the weekend and, somewhat near the Monday school.

He handed me a key to the Carmen street door, and replied, "No, you'll be our guest in the Charlie Miller Suite! We "operate" on the AMERICAN PLAN. --Meals are included, and, the washer and dryer are available, too!"

How could a "roadie" not accept an invitation like that!?!

I told a lot of Jay anecdotes, in my book. How we played dates together, SAM/IBM convention stories, Showmen's League stories, how at the SAM convention, we searched down town Philadelphia for a MOP, so he could do his old Army mop routine that night on the evening show, --and, we found one! I even tell how JAY BECAME MY "OPENING ACT"!!!

My act was slowly evolving, to eliminate a few props that needed setting. Jay showed me his "douse box". I put it in the next season. I had never done tricks like Hippity Hop Rabbits, or any trick in which the prop could "telegraph" the effect!!! My show used mainly tricks with generic props, rope, silk, golf balls, fancy cards shuffles, Inertia, etc, although in the early years, I had used Disecto. to I was touring the Dakota/Nebraska, Montana territory, and, knew that there were virtually no magicians there that might have done the box. Jays' routine was a hit!!!

I do hope that Rick will publish the historical did box material that Jon Racherbaumer "unearthed", too.

I've been diagnosed with 'common tube cancer, and, will get 12 radiation "treatments". in January. (PRAYERS ARE MOST WELCOME.) At 87, I'm "ready to go." but, I'll surely miss, all my friends!
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Profile of Micha-el
There is interesting information on the die box in the Roy Benson book, and a related routine was published in Charlie Miller's Magicana. The Jay Marshall routine (Douse Box) was published in MUM in June 1984 and then again in August 2008. The August 2008 MUM had a REMIX column consisting of five or six die box routines. Steven's Magic also put out a DVD of Die Box routines.

Dick, apologies, I did not read to the end of your post until now and I have been off the forum for a while so had not heard of your diagnosis. Best wishes, good thoughts and prayers are sent your way!
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Profile of TomKMagic
I really like the routine idea that Dynamike posted about the safe and lock.

Dick, thank you for sharing your ideas and knowledge. I recently bought a Die Box (still waiting for it to arrive). I was also brainstorming ideas about the reason for this box with 4 hinged doors and the giant die. I don't know how often I will actually use this, but I would be mostly performing this for kid shows with some adults around. I think kids don't really care "why" some prop is used, they just want to "catch" the magician and enjoy being entertained. I think this effect achieves both.

Dick, I remember you had given some great advice to me and a few friends about a rope routine (probably Professor's Nightmare) at Abbott's in the showroom about 17 or 18 years ago. You had said it's better to hold the ropes up higher rather than down at our waist. Then at the right moment, hold for the applause cue, and framing our face, rather than other body parts. This was very good advice. You had also recommended the "Magic and Showmanship", by Henning Nelms. This was also very good advice from you.

You and your family are in my thoughts are prayers.

May the magic be with you always.

Tom Kracker
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Tom Kracker
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