Try Try Try To Understand

Oh, no! Not Ricky Jay. He was awesome. 72 seems kind of young, but I think he lived a pretty full life.

There is a whole bunch of his stuff on Youtube. If you’re not familiar with his work, treat yourself.

61 replies
  1. 1
    Yutsano says:

    Card tricks have always fascinated me. I think it has something to do with my brain trying to keep up with the “trick” and failing. Keep turning those cards in the afterlife Ricky.

  2. 2
    dr. bloor says:

    Saw him do 52 Assistants live maybe 25-30 years ago. Brilliant showman. Loved watching him in his various character roles over the years as well.

  3. 3
    opiejeanne says:

    I remember that guy. He was so very good.

  4. 4
    Yutsano says:

    Also: go Irish!

  5. 5
    Mnemosyne says:

    I’m always a little suspicious when they announce that a famous magician has died. Imma give it a day or two to make sure it’s not an elaborate trick. I know that Mr. Jay would understand, wherever he is. 🎩

  6. 6
    Alex Smith says:

    @Mnemosyne: Just like that magician from Nazareth. Fool me once!

  7. 7
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Alex Smith:

    Why do you think Thomas was so doubting? He’d been fooled by that “resurrection” gag one too many times before …

  8. 8
    Keith P. says:

    I remember going on a kick trying to get his book “Killing with Cards”. At the time (and probably still so), the book was super-rare and cost something like $300 on Amazon. It’s a shame he won’t get to be in the Deadwood movie (along with Powers Boothe)

  9. 9
    Geeno says:

    Can I just jump in and say – Holy SHIT, the Sabres are in first place int the Atlantic Division!!??!?!
    I love the Sabres, but they are quite frankly a middling team. I except them to make the play offs, but leading their division??
    This is unfamiliar territory for a Buffalo sports fan.

  10. 10
    Ric Drywall says:

    Appeared in a couple of Paul Thomas Anderson films (Boogie Nights and narrated Magnolia).

  11. 11
    Mnemosyne says:

    Well, crap. I’ve been feeling icky all day and finally thought to take my temperature, and I have a slight spike to 99. 🤔 My normal temperature is actually 97.9, not 98.6, so it’s a thing when I get to 99.

    This sucks. I already bought movie tickets for tomorrow afternoon.

  12. 12
  13. 13
    NotMax says:

    Worth repeating a look at a fine young up and comer.

  14. 14
    NotMax says:


    Ought to add, no camera trickery whatsoever employed.

  15. 15
    Old Dan and Little Ann says:

    @Geeno: I have probably watched about 90% of their games over the last 5 years. One shit show season after another. This year’s team is so fun to watch. Huufuckingzzah!

  16. 16
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Ric Drywall:

    It was actually David Mamet who kicked off Jay’s film and TV career — he put him in House of Games way back in 1987.

  17. 17

    I played cards with Ricky Jay onstage in NY! I somehow managed to get picked to go up and be part of some tricks at the 52 Assistants show.
    Watching him like a hawk I must confess I saw him once switch a deck out of his coat pocket for one that had been shuffled; BUT for once in my life I kept my mouth shut.

  18. 18
    dnfree says:

    Off topic, but I am laughing at John Cole’s comments on The Hobbit movies in the Twitter feed off to the side. Yes, the barrel escape is just silly and over the top, and the battles go to 11 every time. The Hobbit should never have been three movies. It was a short, fun book that was turned into a LOTR extravaganza for no good reason. Right on, John! I watched the first one in the theater and thought to myself, “I’m pretty sure that’s not how the barrel escape went”. Checked the book to be sure, and never saw the other two movies. Big disappointment in the tone and added drama.

  19. 19
    PST says:

    That is sad about Ricky Jay. He was terrific in a couple of David Mamet movies too. I love his narration of the prologue to Magnolia.

  20. 20
    piratedan says:

    iirc, he also did turns in Mystery Men (guilty pleasure) and Heist (vastly unappreciated)….

  21. 21
    clay says:

    @dnfree: The thing about the Hobbit movies is this: Almost every one of Peter Jackson’s is justifiable on an individual basis. But, taken together, the cumulative effects of those decisions made the movies much worse than they could have been. It’s Example A of why creators need to be able to kill their darlings.

  22. 22
    Gravenstone says:

    Walk into the kitchen and the little cat starts crying, thinking food will be involved (it won’t). Now all the other cats are awake and staring at me because they also think food will be involved. Thanks you little asshole.

  23. 23
    Gravenstone says:

    @dnfree: Apparently Jackson only wanted two Hobbit movies. It was the studio, with dollars in their eyes who pushed for the trilogy.

  24. 24
    GregB says:

    Wall Street Journal reporting that Mohammad Bone Saw is slso torturing imprisoned women’s rights activists.

    Saddam Hussein’s heir apparent.

  25. 25
    NotMax says:


    Mystery Men came from the pages of the Flaming Carrot comic book series.

    As a movie, could be described as a production from the Legion of Substitute Filmmakers.


  26. 26
    Fair Economist says:


    It was a short, fun book that was turned into a LOTR extravaganza for no good reason

    Oh, there was a very good reason – about $900 million in box office receipts. Although not me – I loved the LotR movies and would have been eager to see an honest Hobbit, but when I heard what a hash they made of the book I boycotted it.

    I imagine Christopher Tolkien, who objected to even the LotR trilogy for taking liberties, must have been apoplectic with the Hobbit movies.

  27. 27
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    Football: Texas AM beats LSU 74-72 in 7 overtimes(!)

  28. 28
  29. 29
    MoZeu says:

    Time to rewatch House of Games.

  30. 30
    piratedan says:

    @NotMax: was aware of that, was just linking Jay’s association with the film in a supporting role…

  31. 31
    David 🎅🎄Merry Christmas🎄🎅 Koch says:

    @🐾BillinGlendaleCA: Gah! Football. Just concluded. game went over 5 hours.

  32. 32
    tobie says:

    Oh damn. Mr tobie is a great fan of Ricky Jay and we’ve watched several videos about him and followed his movie appearances. House of Games remains our favorite. There’s a beautiful clip of a British reporter telling the story of an ice block trick Jay performed just for her while she was trying to film a documentary on him. I wish I could find the slip. It’s genuinely moving. Sad to hear he’s gone.

  33. 33
    NotMax says:


    Just providing some background. Doubtless there are some readers here who find it strange or difficult to internalize that there really was a comic book series/hero called Flaming Carrot.


  34. 34
    HumboldtBlue says:

    I never finished the Hobbit one, much less the rest.

    Liverpool 3, Watford 0.

    Sir Elton John Stand is unhappy.

  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:


    I’m assuming you mean that the WSJ has received actual eyewitness accounts or other hard evidence since I think everyone knows that all of the imprisoned human rights activists in Saudi Arabia get tortured by the SA authorities at some point. That’s that whole point of imprisoning them, and why the US used to call for their release as soon as news of their imprisonment broke.

  36. 36
    Ruckus says:

    @John Revolta:
    I some times click people’s names to see their links.
    Your’s goes to a celtic band with a different name.
    Seemed cool many of us use fake names.
    But it occurred to me to type in your name and there is a band named John Revolta from Poland. Sort of punkish.
    Or did you play golf?
    Or should I mind my own fucking business?

  37. 37
    NotMax says:


    Didn’t the actor John Revolta star in the direct to video Saturday Night Beaver?


  38. 38
    meander says:

    In 2015, PBS’s American Masters hosted/sponsored a film about Ricky Jay:
    Ricky Jay: Deceptive Practice. It is quite good. He had an amazing career, and his work collecting old magic books was commendable.

    For the first time, the American Masters series profiles a magician: the inimitable Ricky Jay, considered one of the world’s greatest conjurers, capable of creating a profound sense of wonder and disbelief in even the most jaded of audiences. He is also a best-selling author, historian, actor and a leading collector of antiquarian books and artifacts.

    Looks like the DVD is in the Netflix collection. It is also available from the Hoopla service (check your public library for access — that’s how I connect).

  39. 39

    @Ruckus: Poland Revolta ees beeeg phoney. No more I say. Also, not golfing. Bagpipes, sadly are for real.

  40. 40
    Ruckus says:

    He may have. In between golfing gigs. Although he might have been a bit early for the one you mention.

  41. 41
    Ruckus says:

    @John Revolta:
    Nice. Good stuff.
    Your’s is much better than that other guy from across the pond.

  42. 42
    Amir Khalid says:

    Watford did not disgrace themselves. They didn’t get screwed over by the refereeing. They gave as good as they got for 3/4 of the match, until Mo Salah scored. Liverpool were just too good.

  43. 43
    Luthe says:

    So I got suckered into reading a WSJ column on “The Perils of Empathy,” and, I shit you not, right in the middle of the article was a Planters ad with the tagline “You need your wingnut.”

    I can’t even.

  44. 44

    Thank you Sir!

    I will confess to playing miniature golf while under the influence.

  45. 45
    James E Powell says:


    The Hobbit should never have been three movies. It was a short, fun book that was turned into a LOTR extravaganza for no good reason.

    Nearly three billion reasons, worldwide gross.

  46. 46
    frosty says:

    @NotMax: OMG I thought I was the only one who’d ever seen Flaming Carrot Man. Don’t tell me it’s a Big Deal please! Or is it?

  47. 47
    eclare says:

    @Mnemosyne: Really? Love that movie.

  48. 48
    westyny says:

    Not Ricky Jay, nononononono
    : (

  49. 49
    Amir Khalid says:

    I remember Ricky Jay from his guest starring role in an X-Files episode, The Amazing Maleeni. He played an amateur magician whose head suddenly falls off.

  50. 50
    Ruckus says:

    @John Revolta:
    I do believe that the last time I played miniature golf I wasn’t old enough to drink. That didn’t stop me when I was 3 though. Parents had a cocktail party and I would pick up glasses and have a taste. Before they saw/caught me I am told that I got truly snockered.

  51. 51
    sm*t cl*de says:


    I’m always a little suspicious when they announce that a famous magician has died.

    “Lord of Illusions” was not a documentary.

  52. 52
    sm*t cl*de says:


    Yes, the barrel escape is just silly and over the top

    Many scenes in Peter Jackson movies make more sense when you realise that they designed the movie-themed computer games first, and then wrote the script around the games.

  53. 53
    Doug R says:

    @NotMax: He played Captain Amazing’s publicist in Mystery Men.

  54. 54
    oatler. says:

    @sm*t cl*de: Recommend the “Honest Trailers” Youtubes of these films.

  55. 55
    ixnay says:

    “Jay’s Journal of Anomalies” and “Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women” are treasures.

  56. 56
    Miss Bianca says:

    @NotMax: Not me, NotMax, I *loved* Flaming Carrot! Mystery Men, not so much, as I recall.

  57. 57
    Edmund dantes says:

    Please please tell me Ricky Jay round at least 2-3 young’uns worth sharing his secrets with. It would be a shame if he didn’t pass it on to someone that could carry the torch.

  58. 58
    hilts says:


    That American Masters program about Ricky Jay was exceptional as are most of their documentary portraits. He was not only extremely gifted, but had a genuinely engaging personality as well.

  59. 59
    JGabriel says:

    Alex Smith:

    Oh, no! Not Ricky Jay. He was awesome. 72 seems kind of young, but I think he lived a pretty full life.

    Never understood why people like Ricky Jay die young, while shits like Donald Trump get to keep on living.

    Rest, party, entertain, Ricky Jay – if there’s an afterlife, may it bring you joy.

  60. 60
    Nora says:

    I watched the video and the trick was great. I had a probability and statistics teacher in high school who had studied in college with a teacher whose research was into the perfect shuffle. I wonder if the teacher and Jay ever met or if Jay had read his work.

  61. 61
    Steve says:

    Loved his small part in House of Games

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