© Copyright 2017 by Michael M. Breggar. All rights reserved.
Five Roads to Vegas by Michael Breggar
Yeah, really... SO, THERE I AM SITTING at a bar in a fancy hotel having a fancy “consultant’s dinner” (burger, fries, diet Coke). Food is fast at a hotel bar and I have work to do that evening. My laptop is my companion that evening and I am slogging through email trying to motivate myself to get the administrivia completed so I can theoretically have smoother sailing when I open PowerPoint to put the final edits on the presentation my team will deliver in the morning. After knocking out my business emails, I sneak a look at my personal emails. I am assaulted by the dozens of emails announcing the greatest, most amazing, hyperbolizing card trick ever devised by carbon-based creatures! And it’s completely self-working! And it’s so easy you’ll be performing it before you even take it out of the box! I nearly “revisited” my burger and fries. If, as magicians, we insist people respect what we do as “art”, we must respect what we do. We shouldn’t trivialize our performances with paint-by-numbers thinking. Prostitutes do tricks. Magicians do magic. (Some would say that as a management consultant interested in magic for fifty years, I cover both categories.) I sent a short email to Shawn Farquhar (then International President of the International Brotherhood of Magicians) mentioning that someone in the I.B.M. needs to get out there and remind magicians-to-be (and, even more importantly, magicians-that-are) that magic is not a just-addwater art. In fact, I wrote digging a deeper eventual hole for myself, the fanciest of sleights can be mastered by anyone with enough practice, and sleight technique by itself is no more art than the ability to competently play a piano solo fast. The art of magic is found in the presentation of magic. And strong, entertaining magic does not absolutely require sleight of hand. Next thing I knew Shawn and Linking Ring editor Sammy Smith asked me if I would be interested in writing a monthly column on self-working magic. I agreed to do so, providing I could avoid using that phrase. (I really dislike the phrase “Self-Working Magic” though I do use it still occasionally. More in the preface of my first column reprinted here on page 46). I thought “The Pencil Dot” would be a cool title. A tiny pencil dot on opposite corners of a playing card can be of great value and the prelude for a sleight-free pass! But Sammy said no. And Shawn said no. And I went back to the close-up mat drawing board. “Auto-Magic” emerged 5 hours later and the first column appeared as if by magic in October 2015. Almost immediately, I began to receive emails from magicians around the world thanking me for inspiring them to concentrate more on their performance than the terribly difficult sleights needed to perform some effects they liked. They understood the magic was in them not the
sleights. Indeed, it is enabled by sleights, but the technique should never ever – EVER – be the trick. That is, if you are a magician. And some of these letters came from my magical heroes. Two of them in particular urged me to write this book. Take several of your most popular effects from the “Auto-Magic” column and add several more srcinal effects and you will have a very interesting book. In fact, there were several effects that I had performed for years that I did not want to “give up” to the column just yet and a few more ideas I wanted to try out. If after many performances these ideas merited inclusion, I’d write them up too. As to the effects from The Linking Ring column, I will take the opportunity to elaborate on my descriptions, discuss more about the psychology of the effects, update a few things based on more performance time and correct some really stupid mistakes I made in the initial writing. The guiding principle of the “Auto-Magic” column is to provide sleight-free or very sleight-lite effects that are entertaining and magical. Maybe the same effect can be done using more challenging techniques, but the method would never be the slave of the trick. Most of the tricks in this volume require an engaging, nuanced touch (Eugene Burger calls it “playfulness”). That requires being very comfortable with our performance and relaxed in our own skin. This alone makes “Auto-Magic” much more difficult than the most technically demanding of sleights. You are not manipulating pasteboards, you are manipulating emotions. My first column began with a short essay where I thought I made some interesting points. They were to me anyway. That can be found in the chapter called “Obligatory Essay.” None of this is paint-by-numbers, since you become both the paint and the canvas. But you should find these tricks to be very intimate even if you perform them for larger crowds. And this intimacy will have your audience remember your performance and you and not just the fact that the signed card kept rising to the top of the deck.
Michael Breggar Cherry Hill, New Jersey [email protected]
May 14, 2017
Contents Introduction “Yeah Really” .............................................................................................................. 3 The Five Roads to Vegas** ...............................................................................................................6 Three Numbers and a Lady* .........................................................................................................11 Coin-Seyan Economics* .................................................................................................................14 Drawing on Emotions ....................................................................................................................18 A Principle in Search of an Effect***.............................................................................................28 The Cure for the Common Bored Game: Monopoly-S-P* .............................................................31 Self-Fulfilling Prophesy* ................................................................................................................35 Absolutely ACANNY* ......................................................................................................................39 Three More ACAANs for Pack Rats ................................................................................................42 SICAAN Do It... ................................................................................................................................42 BluffCAAN .......................................................................................................................................43 BluffCAAN Originale ......................................................................................................................45 “Without You, They’re Just Tricks”* ..............................................................................................46 About the Author ............................................................................................................................47 * First published in The Linking Ring: December 2016, October 2016, August 2016, July 2016, January 2016 and September 2015 ** First published in Genii Magazine, May 2017 *** First Published in The Magic Roadshow, September 2016
All the other material is published here for the first time. All the material herein is © Copyright 2017 by Michael M. Breggar. All rights reserved.
There are a lot of pieces of this trick that appeal to me, which is why I am using this at the beginning of this collection. I love the method (based on Karl Fulves “Gemini Twins” and Annemann’s “Locatrix”), a good and playful storyline and a twist ending. I perform this one a lot and have added some subtleties along the way. I’m sure you will put your imprimatur on it. I am honored that “Five Roads” was published in the May 2017 issue of Genii Magazine (in the wonderful “Magicana” section).
The Five Roads to Vegas On the Road... “HAVE YOU HEARD OF TEAMS of
experienced poker players that frequently work the casinos?” you begin as you take a deck of cards from its case, thumb through removing Jokers, advertising cards and other such detritus. You give the deck a quick shuffle and place it in front of a spectator to cut. You remove a small envelope or business card holder from your pocket and take out five pieces of card-sized cardboard. On each is a number from 1 to 5. “Recently, I read of such a team, five of them in fact, on their pilgrimage to a big Vegas hotel.” You place the number cards from your left to right, numbered 1 through 5. “Think of these cards as markers for the five gamblers.” If you are performing in front of five spectators or more, great. A spectator can represent each of the
five poker experts. If less than five, you can have a spectator play the role of multiple gamblers. You pick up the deck and slowly deal one face down card in front of Marker #1 then the others. You move back to #1 and continue dealing cards left to right. “I’ll play the role of the casino dealer. You play the role of the 5 gamblers. At any point, someone please shout out ‘STOP’.” You continue to slowly deal cards in piles behind the marker cards. When someone yells ‘STOP’, you look up and stop abruptly. Let’s say it was Gambler #4. “OK, Number 4. For you, I’ll stop dealing here.” You pick up the #4 marker and place it on card pile 4. “Now, I’ll continue with the rest of you. Someone else, please yell ‘stop’.” You deal the next card to pile 5 and continue dealing, skipping over the stopped #4 pile.
“Stop!” This from Poker Pro #1. You place the #1 marker on the first pile and continue the deal. “OK Number 1, you’re done... Let’s see who calls ‘stop’ next.” Continue in this fashion until four of the five piles are covered. In our example, let us assume #2 remains the only “active” player. You look into her eyes and say, “It’s just you and me...and you must shout ‘stop’ before I run out of cards.” You slowly deal cards into #2’s pile until she eventually says “stop.” If you have several cards remaining, you say, “As a courtesy, do I stop right here? Or go one more card? Or take back a card.
“Go one more further,” she says. “Always the gambler, eh?” you mumble as you place one more card on the pile before capping it off with the #2 marker.
You reassemble the deck with the markers intact by first placing the remaining undealt cards on top of the #5 marker and pile, then place that stack on top of the #4 marker and pile, then #3, #2 and #1. “So the
five active members of the poker team each had the dealer stop at five random points in the shuffled and cut, dealt-out deck. The poker team didn’t do anything sneaky, didn’t cheat. They just relied solely on their instincts as to where to tell the croupier to stop. But since you represented this team...how are your instincts?” You spread the deck left to right and remove marker #5 plus the card that sits on top of it. You place the pair in front of spectator 5. (Important nuance: slip the face down card closer to the spectator and slide the marker so that it slightly overlaps on top). Similarly, you remove the pairs for #4 through #1.
“I mentioned they were a poker team. Each one selected a single card that would be used in their team hand. Were your instincts as good as the active team members?” You turn over Number 1’s card. It is the 10 of Spades. Number 2’s card is next. It is the Jack of Spades. Number 3 has the Queen of Spades.
“I think you can see where this is going!” Number 4 shows the King of Spades and Number 5, of course, shows the Ace of Spades!
“Nice job! Very impressive! You five have great poker instincts!” you say over the applause. “But I have good instincts too. I knew you were going to stop me at the cards you stopped me at!” With that, you turn over Marker #1. On its back is written, “You will stop at the 10 of Spades.” The other four cards are flipped over each one bearing the correct prediction! But wait. There’s more...
“There was actually sixth player on the team. A ‘bench player’ in case one of the others got injured.” You reopen the envelope and extract another marker card. This one is marked in the same manner as the others but with a bold “6”. You continue, “In a five card poker hand, what could a sixth player possibly select?” For the answer, you flip the card over. It is blank. “Well that makes sense, doesn’t it? But Player 6 could have selected any of these cards and he would have been correct...” With that, you turn the deck face up and cleanly spread the remaining 47 cards. Like Number 6’s prediction, they are all blank!
Further Than Many... I have always loved tricks with multiple crescendos (such as Stewart James’ classic “Further Than That”). I have also been long enamored with card effects employing what Jon Racherbaumer calls the “Gemini Motif” (see Mr. R’s great booklet The Gemini Motif). Most declare Karl Fulves “Gemini Twins” as the progenitor, but its chromosomes go back to Ted Annemann’s “Locatrix” (Jinx #39). Racherbaumer’s book lists seventy references, in fact. Seventy variations,
thematic alterations and nuances which give life to very different flavors of the basic method. John Guastaferro in his wonderful Hand’s Off My Notes published an effect called “Gemini Squared.” Jon R presents a version called “Free Will Refutation” in his Gemini Motif book. The effects are very similar to what I just presented; both capped off with the brilliant conclusion of the blank deck finale. I also recently saw a video on Rick Carruth’s Magic Roadshow (#178) where Internet denizen “MisMag822” taught an “Amazingly Easy Card Trick That Anyone Can Do.” The royal flush selection and prediction was the climax. Adopting the Guastaferro “One Degree” theory, I one-degree’d the last two effects and added the “poker team” story. The mechanics are simple, so get your presentation down pat. Start with a blank deck. Take the royal flush cards from another but same-backed deck. Place the Ace on the bottom of the blank deck. The other four plus one blank card go on top (top down: blank-10-J-Q-K-rest of blank deck-A). Cover the AS with an advertising card or Joker and place another Joker somewhere in the deck. In the envelope or wallet you keep the marker cards. Number 1 has the “10 of Spades” prediction on the opposite side. #5 has the Ace prediction. Remove the cards from the case and follow the scenario above. Be careful not to flash the faces of the cards. After casually removing the ad cards and Jokers, if you can shuffle keeping the Ace and top five cards in place, do so. I usually then walk a spectator through a Jay Ose false cut (While detailed in many sources, John Bannon’s Destination Zero is the best in my opinion). When you remove the markers from the envelope or wallet, do not reveal the presence of the sixth card. Following the storyline above, the trick is automatic. Pay attention to the nuance about overlapping the cards with the markers. It creates a great illusion and false memory (the markers were really under the selections). And don’t forget to complement your helper’s intuition. Road Work... The “placing the number card on top” ploy mentioned above is a key subtlety designed to dispel any further thinking about what some may see as a discrepancy. There are a couple other tactics I have played around that really help the illusion. Try this. Set up the deck as noted above, but add any indifferent card to the bottom of the deck (covering the Ace of Spades). On top of the deck, place a Joker whose back is treated with a bit of re-positionable glue. Under the Joker is an advertising card and the second Joker is somewhere in the middle of the deck. From the top, then, the sticky Joker, an advertising card, 10S, JS, QS, KS, two thirds of the blank faced deck, second Joker, rest of the blank faced deck, AS, indifferent card (I use a red Jack because it is noticeable).
As you begin your patter, casually remove the cards from the case and flash the bottom indifferent card. Then move the sticky Joker to the bottom of the deck and search for the second Joker. When you spread the cards, be sure you do not flash the blank faces. Pluck the Joker from the middle of the deck and casually toss it on the table, then, take the sticky Joker – now a double card because the indifferent card is attached to it, and toss it on top of the other Joker. Finally, pull the advertising card from the top of the deck and toss it casually on top of the two Jokers. Now proceed with the trick as written above.
Here is a nice mental effect that just begs for you to put your srcinal touches on. Lay audiences will love this one. Magicians, who think they know exactly what is going on, will be quite surprised and fooled by the final step. After it was published in The Linking Ring, I received several emails which all said they tried it out on their magician friends. They all thought they knew exactly what was going on...until the end. Pie, meet face.
Three Numbers and a Lady THREE SPECTATORS CALL OUT THREE numbers, which you dutifully record. You make a prediction of each number before the number is called. You show that you were exactly correct on the first two numbers (a four digit and a three-digit number), but on the third number, your prediction is oddly not a number, but “Queen of Diamonds.” Your audience may be confused by this, because this is a mind reading effect; the card tricks come later. Undeterred, you pick up a cased deck of cards which has been in full view the entire time, remove the cards and hand them to Spectator 3. “You called out number 24...please deal down to the 24th card and show it to everyone.” It is the Queen of Diamonds. Table For One. Ahead... Many of you will instantly recognize the “Triple Prediction” motif using the venerable “OneAhead” methodology. Except, and here is what fries those of us in the know, this approach usually requires a forced card or gimmicked prediction board or both. The “Triple” or “Mental Epic” style prediction is popularly associated with Hen Fetsch and Peter Warlock (in the early 1950’s), though “Citation” by U.F. Grant came earlier. Dozens of variations have been developed since. Many magicians concur that the weakest point of the effect is the ending: a spectator thinks of any city, any person and the finale is a card?! How does one remedy that seemingly weak link? Putting a “Card at Any Number” spin on the effect makes it stronger, layered and bafflingly unexpected. It’s the garden-path with a banana peel and open manhole at the end! So what’s going on here? Like the others, this trick does entail a one-ahead method. Unlike the others, it entails a one-way forcing deck. I use a QD deck. All of the cards in the deck are Queens of Diamonds, except for the top 9 and last card. Those are indifferent cards. Also needed is a standard size Post-It Note pad (3 by 3 inches) and a large square of poster board upon which you will write the spectators’ selections.
Prepare the Post-It Note pad as follows: On the back of the first page, write “3”. It should be centered in the upper third of the sheet. Use a pencil or pen that will not bleed through the paper. On the back the second page write “1” and on the third, “2”. Keep the pages aligned and neat. You want the pad to look untouched. You’re ready to go.
The Garden Path... You take the one-way deck from your pocket, remove the cards from the case and casually show a few of the top cards. Being careful not to expose the cards beyond the 9th, shuffle the cards as much as you want retaining the top 9 and the bottom indifferent card. Or you could forego the shuffling completely. As you shuffle, you comment, “As a magician, I am compelled by the Magician’s Code to do a card trick.” You smile deviously, put the cards back into the case and place the case in a very obvious spot on the table. “But, I like to live dangerously. So I am not going to
do a card trick. At least, not now!” You remove the Post-It Note pad from your pocket along with the pen or pencil that you used in the prep.
“Instead of 52 cards, I would like us to focus on numbers. Numbers alone. And think about the way numbers are so powerful in our everyday lives.” You point to a spectator. “For example, please think of a four digit number. It could be an important year in history, or your birthdate – a two-digit year and two-digit month – or the year, or an address, or your PIN code!! As long as it has four digits. I am going to think of a four digit number too.” You do your best mind reading acting and write on the first page of the pad, which is cupped in your hand, “Queen of Diamonds” or “QD”. You then fold the page upwards exactly in the middle and pretend to write a 1 on the folded sheet. You peel the page off the pad, fold the right third to the left and the left third to the right. This leaves the prewritten 3 in the middle on the bottom side. You casually place the paper on the table in front of you. The folded billet is place seam side up, number side down. Do not call attention to this action. Just proceed. The narrow adhesive strip keeps the little packet closed. 12
You place the pad on the table for a moment and pick up the poster card. “OK, I’m committed to my number...what was yours?” Spectator 1 announces “1492.” You write that number clearly and boldly on the left third of the card, replace the card on the table and pick up the small pad again. Selecting a second helper, you repeat the previous actions, but with a three digit number. “With
you, we will try something a bit easier – a three-digit number. But let’s make this more focused. The first three or last three digits of your cell phone number? Or a three digit address that is meaningful to you. Or your age...only kidding. OK? And as before, I will do the same.” Mind reading ensues. On the top sheet of the pad, you write the number Spectator #1 called out (1492). You fold the paper upwards as before and pretend to write 2. Fold in thirds as before and toss it on the table with the 1 marking down. Exchanging the pad for the board, you ask Spectator 2 for their number and write it in large print to the right of the first number. You select a third assistant and repeat these actions. “We’re going to make this one much easier.
A two-digit number this time, and make it less than 50. But make this number very personal. It could be your actual age, or the first two digits or last two digits of your phone number. Or the middle two digits of your social security number. Got it? OK!” On the Post-It Note pad, you write the number announced by Spectator 2, do the folds, fake writing and toss as before. After you write Spectator 3’s number on the right side of the poster card, draw two vertical lines separating the three numbers and write 1, 2 and 3 respectively at the top of these columns. The Banana Peel and Manhole... Now you move on to the big reveal. A bit of time misdirection or delay is needed to cover up any possibility of “walking back”. A short recap is perfect.
“Let’s see if our minds are in sync.” You ask Spectator 3 to help you. “Please read aloud the four digit number thought of by Roberta.” They comply. “And please read aloud the first number I wrote.” With that, you gesture to the folded papers nudging them a little, upturning them so their sequence numbers are evident. This also destroys the out-of-sequence evidence. “There you go. There’s my number 1.” They read it. It’s a match! You dramatically adhere the open Post-It Note to the board under the Spectator’s number. Do this again for the second number and quickly point to number three. “And now for the most personal of all!” After “Queen of Diamonds” is read, look confused, but then announce, “I said I’d show you some card magic. Maybe
it’s time! You could have thought of any number but you thought of 24. Please remove the cards from the case and deal down to the 24th card.” It is, of course, the Queen of Diamonds. Your magician friends will never see this coming, you sneaky mind-reader you. 13
I don’t do a lot of coin tricks. I don’t have the patience, frankly, to learn the sleights and staging necessary to make them really effective. And while I love watching coin experts do coin effects, out of the hands of these few geniuses, I don’t find coin tricks entertaining. Yeah...I know...how snobbish can you get? Still, for the Linking Ring column, I wanted to find a sleight-free coin effect that is both strong and has a compelling storyline. As you’ll read, that took a bit of doing and I ended up cobbling a few effects together to get “Coin-Seyan Economics.” As with the others in this collection, I received a tremendous amount of email on this one – though more than half of them were about the title!
Coin-Seyan Economics Coining MiraSkill I HAVE SEARCHED HIGH AND low for an entertaining coin routine that fits the sleight-free remit of this column. Some old standards like “The Sheep, the Thieves and the Barn” caught my eye (check out Michael Ammar’s great presentation in his DVD The Complete Intro to Coin Magic). And even new workings of old principles like The Pennies by Giovanni Livera would fit the bill. And I love Jim Steinmeyer’ uber-clever coin tricks in his fabulous Impuzzibility books. I found my inspiration in a card trick, Stewart James amazing MiraSkill, and from a presentation by Genii columnist Jules Lanier in the September 1969 issue. I also used Steinmeyer’s “Dimes and Pennies” (from his first Impuzzibilities book) for the final twist.
MiraSkill is a marvelous card effect. The indefatigable postman/magician Stewart James srcinally published it in Annemann’s The Jinx way back in September 1936 (issue #24). It has been reprinted in many publications since and has found numerous revisitings over the years (John Bannon’s View To a ‘Skill has been my go to version for a long time). Even in 1936, James recognized that this mysterious mathematical principle (Annemann: “Don’t ask me why it works. It just does.”) could be utilized using objects other than cards. In the same issue of The Jinx, he presents “The Candy King,” using Hershey Kisses. Lanier used colored glass stones and an I-Ching-like theme in his version, which got me thinking about using coins. James’ discovery that with a full deck of cards, no matter how vigorously shuffled, when you remove cards by pairs, common pairs of reds (both cards red) or blacks will be equal (mixed pairs are discarded and not counted).
“Coin-Seyan Economics” You start with a small opaque bag that contains 18 dimes and 20 pennies. I use a small cloth bag with a golden drawstring. In front of you are three small clear candy dishes or cups or trays. Butter tubs are OK, but the transparency of the dishes and the sound they make when coins are tossed in them add to the innocence. Two blank pieces of paper and a couple paper clips complete the requirements. Oh wait...one more thing...in convenient pocket, you have two additional dimes.
“I am so happy to be entertaining you today, considering I’m about to lecture you in economics. Specifically, the ever-fascinating subject of ‘Self-regulating International Neo-Economics’.” As you begin, take the three clear dishes and place one to your left, one to your right and leave the third directly in front of you. Then grab the bag of coins, give it a shake and let the jangle of the coins be heard. Reach in and pull out a handful of coins and let them drip back into the bag. “In this bag I have a bunch of dimes and pennies,” give the bag another shake, “representing today’s
mixed-up global economy.” Place the bag down and pick up the blank cards and a pen. “Even though all of us think the
world’s financial status is totally insane and unpredictable, I have discovered I have this talent to predict perturbations of micro-economies. I don’t know what all that means, but it sounds impressive.” On one card you write a prediction, fold the card in half and use a paper clip to hold it shut. On the outside of the card you write in bold letters “IN”. “This stands for ‘International’,” and you give the folded card to a spectator, Seth, to sit on, keeping it in a “safe place.” “It looks
like you rest on the fate of the global economy!” You write something else on the second card and fold it and clip it as well. “This prediction deals with the ‘Neo-Economies’ that seem to be popping up left and right.” You write the letters “N.E.” on that card and hand it to Seth to also keep in that “safe place.” You ask for another volunteer and hand the cloth bag to them. “Marilyn, give the assets of the world a really good shake. Now reach in and remove any two coins at random.” She does so. “If both coins are pennies, drop them into this dish,” you point to the one directly in front of her. “If you pull out two dimes, drop them both into this dish,” referring to the dish directly in front of you. Marilyn has pulled out one penny and one dime. “...And in the case of conflicting curren-
cies...one dime and one penny...well, that’s a wash and the money goes to the international monetary fund.” You indicate the third dish on the opposite side of the table, which is where Marilyn drops the two coins.
“Now pull out two more coins. Don’t consciously feel the coins to get them to match, just scoop out two and toss it into the correct financial instrument.” Marilyn continues this until the bag is empty. “You have randomly removed coins from this jumbled mix, without having any idea how many
coins would be in this economy or this one, or how much stayed with the bank, correct?” Marilyn, as well as your audience of international financiers, agrees. “Please count the number of pennies in this dish...er...economy.” She does and announces, “There are 12 pennies.” “OK, now count the number of dimes in the economy in front of me.” Marilyn says aloud there are “10 of those coins.” First climax: “Marilyn, please take the forecast marked ‘IN’ for International from Seth and read it out loud.” She reads, “I predict I will have exactly two more coins – p ennies – than you!” As your assistant opens and reads the note, you put your hand in your pocket and remove the two hidden dimes. You then pick up the dish with the mixed coins and let the hidden dimes slide on top. No one will notice, they will be paying attention to the spectator reading the prediction.
“I could have gotten lucky with that International prediction. Let’s do it one more time – but with the ‘Neo-Economy’ prediction.” You carefully pour the mixed coins (with the two extra dimes) into the bag, then the dimes and pennies and give the bag to your assistant to shake and remove pairs of coins as before. As before, she counts the coins and announces 14 coins in each dish. Ask her to retrieve and read aloud the “N.E.” prediction: “The Neo-Economies have self-regulated. IT’S A TIE!”
Climax two. “Wait. Let’s try one more thing,” you announce as you pour all the coins back into the bag and give it another shake. “Marilyn, reach in and pull out a bunch of coins this time.” She does. “Now total the value of these coins and from this total, subtract the number of coins that you are holding...If the sum is 2 or more digits, add them together to create a single lucky number” You can help with the math if your assistant is confused. “You pulled out 6 dimes and 3 pennies. That’s 63-cents. Subtract 9 for the nine coins and you get 54. That’s two digits, so we add them together and that means NINE is your lucky number. All fair? You could have pulled out any number of coins in any combination, right? But you ended with the number nine.” With that, you take the two prediction cards. You turn the “IN” card upside down so it now reads “NI” and abut it to the “N.E.” card. Together they spell “NINE.”
Endnote: You always write the same predictions on the two cards. You could also use two spectators, alternating removing pairs from the bag, just make sure the person with the pennies reads the first prediction.
This one has not yet been published. Frankly, I was holding it back since I still use it in small group and stage settings. It is a drawing duplication effect that has a “bigger feel” than the “tight as a seal” feeling of most DD’s. In most of these effects, the magician hands a pad to a volunteer and has them “draw something.” The “something” is either forced in a somewhat convoluted approach, or done in a manner where it is very clear (I think) to spectator and audience that a peek is involved. Somehow. In all, they just don’t feel right. I was looking for something that felt more “organic” (Oh, how I hate that phrase as it pertains to magic tricks!) If there was to be any forcing of peeking, it would be done in the context of the greater presentation so as to be completely disguised. Very, very few DD demonstrations do this. Equally, very, very few DD demonstrations are interesting as there is little drama and almost no suspense. There goes the “story” theory. This is why I spent almost two years thinking about Drawing Duplication effects and how to make them more interesting and less “predictable.” Judge for yourself, but I am happy with the result presented here.
Drawing on Emotions Drawing Exhibition THE PERFORMER SPEAKS ABOUT HOW the strongest images that stick in our memories are those that have sensory or emotional “hooks’. From a big envelope, the mentalist removes a packet of poster-boards each 5.5 by 7.5 inches. On each card is printed a phrase or a scene that is specifically designed to stimulate one or more senses or emotions in the reader’s mind. “In a
few moments, I will ask someone to randomly select one of these boards, close their eyes and think about what’s written, try to imagine some sensory impact, and then draw a simple image or design or picture or whatever on this pad.” A spectator is selected and handed a pad and a marking pen.
“No artistic talent is needed. Just think about the description, get in touch with your emotions and senses and then scratch out an image or two.” 18
The performer takes the packet of cards and removes two encircling rubber bands and pulls a random card from the center of the pile. “So, for example, you select ‘AT THE BAKERY’. You’d
close your eyes and picture yourself in the middle of the bakery. Around you are several counters and tables full of fresh pastries and breads, cakes, pies and cookies. You can even smell all these goodies. You even recall a moment as a child going to a bakery with a close friend or loved one and someone...maybe it was the shop owner...reached out and handed you a freshly baked cookie. The image is strong in your mind, that you have no problem taking the notepad and dashing off a few images.” With that, you, the great mentalist, take another pad and marker off a nearby table and doodle a few pictures: a simple pie with steam coming out, a couple of cookies flecked with chocolate chips, a cake, perhaps. And you draw a little banner on top simply stating “Bakery”. You show your artwork to the spectator and audience, then tear off the page leaving a now blank writing pad which you close and place back on the table. You take the “AT THE BAKERY” card and place it with your drawing and place it out of view in the big manila envelope. “To make things very
fair and thoroughly random, we will move the ‘Bakery’ card out of play.” You now take the packet of boards and show your spectator and the audience the faces of a few of the cards. “There are thirty of the cards – well now twenty-nine – and they are different, yes? There are no duplicates in this specially selected, carefully worded collection.” You cut the packet a few times and ask the spectator to do likewise. “All fair so far?” The plaques are then spread face down on the table as best and as widely as possible.
“Now, Marilyn, please move your index finger back and forth over these plaques until you get a sense of some sort to place your finger on one.” As your helper moves her hand left and right over the cards, you further comment, “You cannot see the printing through these boards, right? So, use your intuition as to which to point to. Let the poster card pick you.” When the spectator lowers her finger to a card, have her “Carefully, slide the plaque towards
you. Keep it face down so there is no way anyone can see what is written on the other side.” As soon as the board clears the spread, you close the spread and hand the whole packet to your assistant. “Let’s remove the boards that didn’t select you. I don’t want to touch them...I don’t want
to see them...only you and the plaques know which one was selected. Please put the rubber bands around the packet and put the whole thing back in the envelope.” Your helper complies. You now take a few steps away from your assistant and turn you head away. “Now is the time
for you and the selection to meld. Please look at what is written on the board. Read it carefully.” You pause a few moments. “Don’t let anyone else see or know what is written on the board. But take a few moments to sense what was written. Think about being in middle of the scene described.
Or seeing several of the items described laid out in front of you. Or thinking about a simple design or image that would convey what you just read.” Again you pause. “Okay? Ready to continue?” When Marilyn says yes, you continue.
“Now open the drawing pad and marker and sketch out an image or two that relates to what was on the plaque. Something related to what you saw in your minds’ eye. Or a simple picture that can easily depict what you saw. Or felt. Or sensed. The drawing should be simple – don’t worry about realism here! But make sure it conveys what you are thinking about.” As soon as Marilyn begins sketching, you open your pad and you too begin to draw. “That’s
really good, Marilyn. You are really tying various emotions and senses into your thoughts. In fact, it has amplified them to the point where I can pick up some of these thoughts. I am seeing...” you scribble something...“and this...and...” Your draw a bit more as you try to process your subject’s thoughts. “When you are finished, close your pad, and hold it so no one can possibly even get a glimpse at what you have drawn.” She finishes as do you.
“Marilyn, I got the impressions of you being in a very relaxed frame of mind. Thinking perhaps of happy times on holiday as a child...maybe as an adult.” You open your pad and show what you drew to the audience; your assistant cannot yet see the images. “You were merely thinking of a warm, sunny spot, yes? There are smells of sand and surf and you hear the joyous chatter of families and the lapping of waves. I got the sense you were drawing images related to being at the beach or at a seaside resort. Correct?” You now turn towards your subject. She’ll get a glimpse at your drawing and will certainly react – if she hasn’t already reacted very positively to your comments. “Marilyn, please show us your
artwork.” The audience should be reacting strongly at this point! Approaching High Noon I use 25 poster cards cut to 5 ½ by 7 ½ inches. These are big enough to be seen and easily read in parlor or stage situations. You could use something smaller (even business cards) for close up or table hopping. Having said that, Drawing on Emotions (DOE) is not a good table hopping effect. You need to take your time building it up and managing it as a true bit of mind-reading.
On my set, I have the following items written in bold, easy to read letters: At the Zoo
At the Bank
Dinner Table Setting
Tings Found on a Boat/Ship
Inside a Library
New York City
At Pizzeria a
Seen Outside of a House
You do not have to use this list. You can substitute anything you want. I have given very careful consideration to these items however. Each represents an image or set of images that evoke multiple senses. Further, each can be relatively easily represented by a simple, though iconic image. In my patter, I always stress the former and de-emphasize the latter. Once the items are listed on each card, I give them a good shuffle and note the order of the cards on the flap of a discarded page in the notebook I use. The notebooks are standard classroom-style books, but with the perforations to easily tear out a page. Here’s how mine looks: So, you have created a random stack of these cards, and listed the stack order in the perforation-remnant of a torn out page. In my notebook, I have a couple of these remnants, THEN the stack crib, maybe one or two more remnants and finally the rest of the un-used pages. Finally, On a 26th card, I write “At the Bakery”. This is NOT listed in the crib sheet. Two simple light pencil dots on opposite corners on the blank back side lets me know this is the “test” card.
With both notebooks closed and casually laid aside, marking pens on top, you begin the effect as outlined in the above patter. The packet of cards is rubber banded and in a large manila envelope. Remove the packet from the envelope as you begin the presentation. Lay the envelope nearby (but keep it handy). And remove the rubber band(s). Use an exaggerated motion to remove the bands as if they are held tightly together. You will want to replicate this motion when you re-band the deck and place it back into the envelope. You casually show the faces of the cards as all different and, turning the packet face down, casually cut the packet several times. The cards are large enough to make shuffling rather cumbersome. Numerous straight cuts do not disturb the order of the stack. I’m using the word “casually” here a lot and in a “formal” manner! The point is to act as if there is nothing special about the plaques (except, as you mention, the words and phrases have been carefully chosen to elicit emotions or sensory imagination). You spread the cards face down on a table (if you have enough room), on the floor (if it’s clean!) or in your hands. Sometimes, if there is enough space on a table, I’ll ask my spectator to cut a few times and then have them spread the cards. Regardless, you just need to note the card with the pencil-dotted corner. You carefully slide the card out and reassemble the packet. Follow the presentation noted earlier as you demonstrate how you wish your assistant to get in touch with all their senses and emotions, and sketch out a few items pertaining to a bakery. The notebook you use for the example is the one with the crib sheet. When you open the notebook to openly draw the sample pictures, make sure the perforated flaps are fully down. Draw on the first page showing. The unmarked perforated flaps will cover the flap with the crib sheet on it. Be certain to continually to show your drawings to subtly reinforce the fairness of the notebook. After you complete the sample drawing, remove the page at the perforation and hand it to the spectator. I keep a thumb on the flaps which not only aids in the removal at the preformation, but also keeps the crib sheet from accidently showing. Now, it’s your assistant’s turn to take a card. Take the packet and again “mix it” through a series of cuts and ask your assistant if they wish to cut it one more time. Spread the cards 23
face down as before (or have a spectator do this) and have a plaque slid out face down. Have the spectator keep the card face down, not to look at it until you are safety out of the way. As you casually reach towards the notebook to hand to the spectator, you scoop the cards in a neat pile. In so doing, you scoop up the cards that were to the right of the selected card (the small gap will be obvious) and slip that under the left hand group scooping up these cards as well. Slip the rubber bands (tightly) around the cards and slip the packet back in the envelope. And place the envelope away from the rest of the action. The other side of the stage or platform is good, or on another table, or on the other side of the floor, or just hand it to someone for “safekeeping”. Keep pattering through all of this, stress the fairness of the selection process, that there is no way any of us could possibly know what is written on the selected card. Right? Well, of course right. Except that you do know. In putting the cards back in the envelope (or while rubber-banding the cards), you’ve glanced at the bottom card. When you open your notebook to drawn the received images, you can easily take a peek at the crib marked on the flap. Find the phrase you noted on the bottom card and the phrase directly to the left will be the one the spectator has in their hands. What’s your hurry? As mentioned a thousand times already, keep this casual. Do not attribute importance to the cards, the envelopes, the notebooks. And keep the pace steady and even. After you put the envelope aside, don’t be in a rush to fetch the notebooks for you or the spectator. I will sometimes ask the spectator to pick a notebook and marking pen off the table. Typically, they will use the notebook you did NOT use in the demo. It is a different color or size than the unused one, they saw you use it, therefore, it is yours and they take the other. (After the demo, place your notebook under the one you want the spectator to use and angle it a bit towards where you are standing.) If they still pick up the gimmicked notebook, use a bit of equivoque and ask them to just hand you your notebook. Complete your instructions to the assistant as you move away from them. A good position for a drawing duplication is to have the assistant with their back to the audience. That way, the
audience can see what the spectator is drawing. It also takes the heat off anything you are doing. As the spectator gets in position and ready to sense the images and begin drawing, you will have plenty of time to unobtrusively flip to the crib flap and learn the subject matter. Use the description of the presentation above to guide how you wish to go through the telepathic process. You may wish to consider having several mistakes and false hits in your drawing (crossed out before the reveal...or maybe not). In a platform or parlor situation, you could make a “big” mistake and tear out the page and restart. In the process of tearing out the page, you could also tear out the crib and allow it to be captured in the mistake sheet when you crumble it up and toss it away. That way, the notebook could even be examined. One more tip...poster card is easy to work with , cut and design. But sometimes can be difficult to smoothly spread. Shake a bit of talcum power (or fanning powder) on the cards and they will easily slide. DoE Thoughts There is an age-old argument about performing magic during a mentalism show or mind reading during a magic show. I won’t venture into this discussion except to give you my opinion as it
pertains to this effect. My advice: don’t mix and match. Performing Drawing on Emotions during a magic set will invariably call attention to the props (as innocent as they are). Similarly, avoid doing card tricks either directly before or after DoE. As this effect uses “cards” (as un-Bicycle-like as they are), the mixing, cutting, selection process is very Royal Road-ish. If the audience perceives this as just another card trick, you are sunk and the effect will absolutely leak impact. Along these lines, try not avoid call the plaques “cards” (maybe once is ok, maybe twice, but do it early). “Plaques”, “images”, “phrases”, “mental scenes” are good examples. Also, in card tricks, spectators expect to see at least some semblance of dexterity (or as Roberto Giobbi calls it, “elegance”). As noted many times here, don’t. Be casual and relaxed. No need to look dexterous and do not show any obvious “technique.” Though not ideal, you can perform DoE in a close-up, table-hopping or situation more intimate than stage / parlor. Don’t use big cards, prepare a stack on blank business cards or even get double-blank playing cards (these handle the best...but look like what they are, playing cards, and Drawing must not be perceived to be a “card trick”). You will also likely need to memorize 25
your stack or place it unobtrusively elsewhere on the (smaller notebook or pad). Writing on the tear-leaf is obvious close up. Giants, Shoulders and Inspirations It’s become de rigueur when magic creators speak of their inspirations to use the comments that they have stood on the shoulders of giants. Interesting tidbit: the expression apparently goes back to the 12th century, but is most common attributed to Isaac Newton who said, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Yes, it may have become trite, but I feel in the case of DoE, it is apropos. I began thinking about a “word version” of Annemann’s “Extra Sensory Perception” from his classic Practical Mental Magic. Words or pictures, the Annemann effect is great and his handling has stood the test of time. Richard Osterlind updated Annemann’s effect somewhat (seen in several of his videos) and took it several steps further as the Osterlind Design Duplication System (“ODDS”). There have been several other similar tributaries along the river of design duplication effects, but the Annemann and Osterlind effects, to me, represent the left and right shoulders that everyone else has stood upon. Why do DoE? With the hundreds of design dupe effects already published and the two mentioned here as the best of the best, why have one more? Why do DoE? I was searching for organic. I wanted something that seemed like mind-reading. I wanted something that really engaged the spectators and perhaps even evoked emotions. And I wanted something that was well structured theatrically. DoE plays a little differently that the standard design duplication. Several designs in fact are done at the same time; but all the pictures tie into a theme ... and it is the theme you are duplicating, not necessarily the designs. What this means is even if you are off, you are spot on. This, in fact, makes the dénouement much stronger than if you duplicated the image of Annemann’s teacup (in “Extra Sensory Perception”). I have carefully thought through the “topics” on the cards. They seem to provide a wide variety of options to draw upon (sorry!). The reality is the number of options are quite limited. And again, since it’s about duplicating a theme, even if your assistant draws some real wild stuff, if it aligns to the theme, it is a “hit.” Along with the general construction of the effect when you throw in the textures of thinking with “all your senses” as I describe above, this routine really feels like mind-reading.
In the end your audience will feel that mind-reading is possible. That kind of performance is life-affirming and uplifting. Can you get that from the Cut-and-Restored Rope?
This next idea was not published in The Linking Ring. Rather it saw first light of day in Rick Carruth’s wonderful “Magic Roadshow” publication (August 2016). I had srcinally intended to do a series of articles on the development of a trick and when and how to substitute subtlety for sleightof-hand. This was deemed by some to be the stuff of lectures and not necessarily that of a budding monthly magic columnist! So, I held the effect back until I could develop a solid and unique presentational hook. Sadly, it found its way to the bottom of a very busy drawer. Once resuscitated, however, I believed there was some merit in the points I was trying to make. The “trick portion” of the column still feels unfinished to me, so I decided to leave it to my astute readers to finish this painting.
A Principle in Search of an Effect Sleight-Sore MAGIC PRINCIPLES, SLEIGHT-LESS OR SLEIGHT-FUL, are often so horribly neglected these days. The need for instant gratification has made too many magicians look for the instant coffee equivalent of magic. Want an ambitious card effect? Get a highly gaffed pack of Bikes...just add water. Those who take the time to study effective magic principles and then turn on the creative juices to figure out how to apply these principles in a manner that suits their magic style and produces something entertaining and amazing are the ones who really move our art forward. This is really the essence of good self-working magic vs. just plain ol’ self-working magic. But it requires time, and thought, and creativity and presentational skills ... and these things are sadly not viewed as importantly these days as before. Gang, magic is an art form. And we as magicians – whether pro or amateur – owe it to the art that we love, and to our spectators, to do something that furthers the art while making our spectators smile. Please read that last paragraph again. And again. While you are contemplating that, here is a card trick principle that could use your serious consideration to turn it into a wonderful effect. 28
“Red Influences Black” The spectator thoroughly shuffles a borrowed deck of cards. The magician writes a sort note on a piece of paper and folds it placing it back in the card box, or under a beer mug. The deck is then separated into two equal halves. One half is given to the spectator to thoroughly shuffle. Then that is handed to the magician who then given the spec the other half to shuffle. The spec then selects either half to “work with”. The spectator is asked to count the number of red cards in their shuffled and selected half. Let’s say they count 10. The magician, channeling Karl Fulves, comments that “frequently, in a wellused deck of cards, red influences black, so let’s find the 10th black card in my half.” You peel off the top card and move it to the bottom of the pack. If it is black, count out loud, “One.” You continue this action until you reach the named number (of red cards in the other half) ... which in this case is 10. The tenth black card is, say, 5 of clubs. You reach for the folded prediction. “Red does influence black,” you reiterate. “But I influence Red.” The paper says simply, “Five of Clubs” The “HDFS” This is a slight variation of “Color of Thought” from Karl Fulves’ My Best Self-Working Card Tricks. Following the description above, have the deck fully shuffled by the spectator and count off the top 26 cards. Hand the top half to the spec to shuffle and glance at the card at the bottom of the deck. That is your prediction card. Write simply the name of the card on a piece of paper and place it somewhere conspicuous. (You could do this after the shuffle and before the 26 card split. You’ll need to figure out what works best for your effect.) Hold your half (with the known card on the bottom) as a pack between your index and second fingers of the right hand. When the spec is finished shuffling their half, take the pack with the left hand and wedge it between the thumb and index of the right hand. Without missing a beat, the left hand then takes away the packet between the index and second finger and the right hand extends the other packet – between the thumb and index finger – to the spec. “Please shuffle this half.” The illusion is perfect and very strong if your movements are fluid. Your half with the force card on the bottom stays intact and the spectator shuffles their half twice! This is an ingenious half-deck false shuffle that I first came across in Matthew Johnson’s teaching of Matt Mello’s “Photographic”. I’m certain this shuffle that retains a half deck stack has been around for ages, but I first saw it in “Photographic.” You could use the “magician’s choice” to have the spec select the “deck we will work with” (how ambiguous is that?!), but it really isn’t necessary. Just ask the spec to count the number of red cards in their pack. 29
That number, thanks to the mathematics, tells you how many black cards are in your half. Don’t mention any of this, of course, just count down as described earlier to the named number of black cards and reveal the prediction. Up to You This is can be startling stuff, but the Fulves book fails to wrap a decent presentation around this principle. Nor do I. Consider this to be a gift to you...a strong principle. But now it is your turn to give a gift to the magic community and turn this into a strong presentation!
I was both surprised and gratified with the sheer volume of emails received on this one. I thought this was an entertaining little effect, but not anything earth-shattering. My emails told a different story! As with many other columns, several of the emails groaned about my punny title (I did like the title for this one!) Other emails suggested a few ideas and variations. And a couple helped me find a name and reference for the force used here. One of those emails came from the erudite mind of Max Maven. I was quite humbled to know even erudite minds read my little column! Max, as others, pointed out the procedure is “George Sands Prime Number Principle, which was first described in “Lucky 13,” which was published in Pallbearers Review, August 1975. Thus, quoth the Maven.
The Cure for the Common Bored Game: Monopoly-S-P CHANCE Encounters AFTER MANY YEARS OF DECLINE, non-electronic games have had several years of strong sales. Though the year-over-year growth has been under 10%, sales have been steady and growing. It’s time to dust off that Scrabble set, un-bury the Clue box and revive your Trivial Pursuit! Digging out the old Monopoly box also presents magicians with an interesting “new” set of props. Colorful and very familiar; perfect for some impromptu magic! Using board game pieces for magical effects is certainly not new. Scrabble tiles have been used for many mental effects from the likes of Maven, Sankey and most recently Francis Menotti with his Penn & Teller Fool Us winning “Wordsmyth” trick. In the literature, you’ll find tricks using cribbage pegs, Mancala stones, UNO number cards...you name it. In fact, a good Monopoly routine is mentioned in a piece by Danny Archer in the April 2002 Linking Ring. I have come up with a fun routine using the tokens, deed cards and dice from the standard Monopoly set. Perfectly impromptu, you could perform this at any family or friends gathering as post-game tempers fizz down.
“Monopoly-S-P” After the friendly session of bartering and bantering over the Monopoly board, before the set is neatly repacked and put away, you offer to demonstrate a bit of psychic ability that you wish could have been channeled into your game play. You write something on a small piece of paper, fold it and ironically sandwich it in the middle of the orange “Chance” card stack. “I will need all the game tokens,” which you shake together in your cupped hands then let them randomly spill in front of a spectator, “and a bunch of deed cards.” You give the deeds packet a good shuffle and remove seven of them. “Seven is a good number. In fact, it is the number of spaces on a given side
if you count only the properties.” Which is not necessarily true...but it sounds good! You arrange the cards “face up” which is to say, “Mortgage” side down, in a circle.
You then hand the dice to a spectator. “Of course, we will need these dice. Please give them a good shake and let them roll.” As in the game, if they roll “doubles” ask them to roll again. You now turn your attention to the game tokens and slide two of them towards the spectator.
“Please select any one of these two and place that one out of play – back in the game box. Very good, now slide any two remaining, your choice, towards me and I will do the same.” This continues until just two pieces remain. “Are you right-handed or left-handed? Please take your (left or) right hand and cover one of the remaining pieces.” After that is done, you comment, “So you left the thimble out in the open, and you are protecting the little dog. OK, the thimble is out of play.” And you toss it into the box.
“Now, let’s look at the dice. You rolled a four. Are you OK with that roll, or do you want to roll again?” They are satisfied with their roll. You place the selected token on deed card #1 (top of the circle in the configuration illustrated below) and count “one”. You instruct your helper to use the token and to continue moving clockwise one space (one deed) at a time. Card #2 is “two”... they move their token to card #4 which they then turn face-down (“Mortgage” side up). They continue to move the token another four spaces in this fashion until all but one card has been turned “face-down”. Remove the last “face up” deed and place it aside with the token.
“So by pure chance, and the roll of the dice, you selected the little dog game piece and the deed to Marvin Gardens. You will recall before you rolled the dice...before we even randomly removed the deeds from the packet, I placed a little note in between all the Chance cards. Can you remove that note and read it out loud?” Of course it says, “You will not pass GO. You will not collect $200. But you will select the Dog token
and you will randomly land on Marvin Gardens.”
GO. Magicians will likely see what’s going on. But the two forces used here seem to completely fly past everyone else. In the example, we’re forcing the selection of the dog token and the Marvin Gardens deed card. You use this in your written prediction and sandwich it amongst the Chance Cards. The force of the dog token is accomplished using the very versatile PATEO Force. Readers of this column know how much I love Roy Baker’s “Pick Any Two, Eliminate One” force. Originated in 1968, you can read more about it in my March 2016 “Auto-Magic” column. While there are several flavors to the performance of the PATEO, I usually start with an even number of items and me pushing out the first two non-force items to the spectator. The spectator tosses one aside (“back in the box, out of play”) and moves the non-selected piece back into the pile. They then push two game tokens of their choice towards me. I remove one and push the other back. Obviously, I do not give the spectator a choice of two that includes the force piece and if one of the two pieces presented to me by my assistant is the force piece, I toss the other one out of play. This back-and-forth continues until two pieces remain: the force piece and any other piece (here, the dog and the thimble respectively). I now ask my helper to cover one of the remaining two and using equivoque, we have the dog piece forced. Read the patter above. If they cover the dog, you can say “Thanks for being kind to animals” as you toss the thimble aside. If they cover the thimble, I pick up the dog commenting, “You must be an animal lover. It was clear you had
your eye on the puppy all along.” The force of the Marvin Gardens deed can be done in a multitude of ways. These are cards after all! But I think using the mathematical “Seven Force” works nicely because the mechanics of it feel analogous to the game play of Monopoly. After mixing the cards, you peel out seven property cards. Don’t use the Railroads or Utilities because the patter mentions that there are usually seven properties to be had on the edge of an average Monopoly game board. I lay the cards out in a circular pattern. Card #1 (“Tennessee Ave.” in the illustration) is topmost. Card #7 (the force card) is directly to the left. Following the procedure as written here, on the count of “one” you place the token on Card #1. On “two” it is moved to “Pacific Ave.” “Three” is “Boardwalk” and “Four” lands the dog on “Oriental Ave.” which, like the tokens earlier, you take out of play. But here, you merely turn the card over (rather than removing it from the table). You place the token back on top of that turned-over card, and proceed to the next count (which will eliminate “Tennessee Ave.”). As soon as six deeds are “mortgaged”, you pull the last one in play aside and place it next to the little dog game piece.
I usually put all the other cards aside with the discarded tokens, reiterate how the choice was clearly fair and random and aligned to Monopoly rules, and then proceed to the denouement. Gamey Thoughts While researching Monopoly-based effects, I was surprised and amused to note that in his Monopoly effect mentioned earlier, Danny Archer also used the PATEO Force in the selection of the token. I’d say brilliant minds think alike, but Danny is in a class of his own! I haven’t been able to trace the provenance of the “Seven Force,” that I use here, but I suspect it is very old in srcin. I have also toyed with the idea of having the prediction printed on a Chance Card. Simply glue a label with the prediction onto the face of a card. I cut 1/32" off the short edge of the card. I can then fully shuffle the Chance deck and riffle the back end of the cards upwards. The “short” is evident and I cut the pack at that point. That brings the prediction card to the top of the pile where it will be used at the end. It is an interesting little variation, keeps with the overall theme, but I believe it is superfluous and it weakens the reveal.
I have long been a fan of Bill Simon’s wonderful “Prophesy Move.” Over the years, this deceptive piece of chicanery has been the engine driving so many effects and has really stimulated my magic imagination. While not at all a difficult move, it is a move none-the-less. And for some reason, some people executing the move get very nervous about doing it. Is it a case of “magician’s guilt”: how can something so easy be so deceptive? I soon began to wonder if it the Prophesy Move could be taken out to the magician’s hands and have the spectator do the dirty work as part of the choreography of a routine. What follows is my Étude de Prophesy, followed by a slight variation of an amazing Simon Aronson effect (aren’t they all amazing?). Thanks again, Simon, for your permission.
Self-Fulfilling Prophesy BILL SIMON GAVE MAGIC Agreat gift in the 1950’s when he first developed and wrote about the “Prophesy Move.” It is very versatile, relatively easy to perform and ingeniously deceptive. I was hoping to make it more deceptive by taking it out of the hands of the magician and into the hands of the spectators. Thus, creating a “Self-Fulfilling Prophesy!” Wikipedia defines the “Self-Fulfilling Prophesy” as “a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself...” Interesting that the definition itself concisely describes the method! The method is a spectator-managed version of Bill Simon’s “Prophesy Move” which seemed to spring to life as part of “Double Prediction” credited to Simon and John Scarne ( Scarne on Card Tricks, 1950) and subsequently resurfaced in 1952 as Bill Simon’s “Business Card Prophesy”. The Scarne version was slightly different than the 1952 version – the move we are most familiar with. It has resurfaced many times subsequently which is a testament to its illusion of fairness and ease of execution. Still, the dirty work is always done with the deck in the magician’s hands. I searched for ways to keep the deck in the hands of the spectator(s) and have come up with the following. The spectator driven “Self-Fulfilling Prophesy” (SFP) can also trace some of its DNA to Max Holden’s “Cross-Cut Force” and Jay Ose’s tabled false cut. Like the srcinal Simon version, the SFP forces two cards and therefore is ideal for tricks where two spectators assist. Like the Cross-Cut force, it is extremely important that the “move” is not the trick itself, rather merely a force technique. 35
In general, the method is as follows: Ace of Clubs is on TOP of deck and 6 of Diamonds is on the BOTTOM. 1. A Joker or any indifferent card is given to the spectator. You ribbon spread the deck face down (left to right) 2. Spec slips the Joker face down somewhere in the middle half of the spread. The Joker is left out-jogged by a third 3. Square the cards leaving the Joker out-jogged 4. Another spectator (ideally) cuts off about half of the cards ABOVE the out-jogged card and places it about 10” to the left of the deck. We’ll call this packet “Pile A”. 5. The rest of the cards above the out-jogged Joker are moved next to Pile A. This is “Pile B”. 6. The out-jogged card is now turned face up in position (on top of the bottom half of the deck). You call attention to the card, its value, meaning (if it was a business card), whatever. Just a few beats of time misdirection is needed. Then casually place the card face-up on top of Pile A. 7. Have spectator cut any amount (about half ) of remaining cards and place this to the right of the balance of the deck. The new pile is “Pile C” and the bottom quarter of the deck is “Pile D”. Piles should be in A-B-D-C order (left to right). The 6D is on the bottom of Pile D. 8. “We’ll mix the order of the cards.” Have spectator pick up D and place it on top of A (Pile A has the face-up Joker on top) 9. Life the whole A-D pile and plop it on Pile B. End with placing Pile C on top of all. 10. The illusion is perfect and the Joker is in the approximate middle of the deck (where the Spectator thought they slid it initially). 11. Ribbon spread from left to right and point out the face up Joker. 12. Slide the Joker and the cards to its left and right out of the spread, then close the spread. This makes it more difficult to trace back the fact that you maneuvered the cut in the fashion you did (and that the bottom card is on top and top of the deck card is underneath the Joker). 13. Reveal the forced cards...and move into the next phase of the trick. 14. IMPORTANT: This set of “moves” cannot be the whole of the trick. Do not just say “think of the two cards you selected...they are the...” If you go directly into a “reveal” it will clearly telegraph suspicion with regards to the cutting procedure and an astute audience member will backtrack. I present the SFP here in a variation of Simon Aronson’s clever trick “Decipher” from his amazing book Try the Impossible. (Thanks, Simon, for your permission to do so!). Here, then is: “Three Spies and the Extraction” The magician removes the cards from its box and gives them a good shuffle while retaining the 4 of Clubs on top and the 7 of Hearts on the bottom of the deck. The 4 of Hearts had previously 36
been removed from the deck and stuck lightly with repositionable glue inside a handy paper lunch bag. The card is positioned horizontally a few inches from the top, so that the bag can be closed and the top folded down an inch or two.
“I was talking to Harry Houdini the other day,” you begin, “and he told me it’s not healthy to have conversations with dead people. So I turned to my friend James Bond who said he agreed with Harry. But also told me I shouldn’t admit to having conservations with fictional people either. Bond would have liked what we are about to do, because we are using principles of spycraft. You know, most secret organizations have their agents work in a strictly ‘need to know’ manner. They have them accomplish their spy stuff after only being told what they need to know to assist them in their tasks.” You remove a Joker from the deck and hand it to Marilyn. You then ribbon spread the cards face down. “Double-O-One, here is a photo of your contact,” you show the Joker around. “Please slide the photo face down halfway into the middle third of this deck.” Your impromptu agent complies. “Now push the cards together, but leave your secret contact sticking out halfway.” Marilyn squares the cards with the face down Joker clearly out-jogged about half its length.
“Now, Double-O-One, you need to make contact with another agent, the much younger Double-OTwenty-Six, so please slide the whole deck over to your co-conspirator.” You refer to the second spectator, Seth.
“OK, Twenty-Six, you must contact the literally undercover spy, so separate the dossier at the point of contact...which is spy talk for cut off the top of the deck where the card is sticking out and place it to your left” (call this pile “A”).“Now, turn over the Super Secret Agent Joker card. We’ll now need for him to go deep undercover so draw a disguise on his face.” Hand a Sharpie to Seth and direct him to draw glasses, a beard, whatever on the Joker. It’s really a funny moment and begins the time misdirection needed for the force to be effective. While Double-O-Twenty-Six is drawing, ask Double-O-One to cut off half of the remainder (this is pile “B”) and place it between the first section (“A”) and the balance of the deck (pile “C”). The 4 of Clubs is still on top “A” and the 7 on the bottom of “C”.
“The enemy may be coming, Twenty-Six, so hurry it up!” Have Seth him lay the disguised Joker with the disguised face up on top of pile “A”, tell Marilyn we need to hide our agent: she should place the entire pile “C” on top of the Joker and then “bury” the whole thing by placing pile “B” on top of it all. Spy stories or not, your spectators have just executed the Prophesy Move for you. We need to bring our effect to a conclusion which adds enough layering to keep them from tracing back the procedure.
“Whew! That was close!” Passing the deck back to Marilyn, “Please spread this deck and let’s find where our (face-up) Agent is right now.” She does so. You then slowly pull the face up Joker forward as well as the cards directly to its left and right. “For the purposes of top-secret security, I must remind you, Double-O-One, you placed the Joker agent anywhere in the deck and you, DoubleO-Twenty-Six further buried him through three cuts. You’ve managed to evade the bad guys and allowed our undercover agent to secure two vital pieces of information.” You point to the card on either side of the Joker, then just the card directly on TOP of the Joker (its right). “As I said earlier, you’ll only be given a piece of needed information – strictly need-to-know, you know? DoubleO-One, please take this data-card and memorize the suit. Just the suit...ignore the value that’s not important to your mission.” Marilyn takes the 7H and commits “Hearts” to memory. “Double-O-Twenty-Six, please take this data card and memorize just value. That’s all you need to know.” You refer to the card BELOW the Joker (to its left) which Seth pulls and memorizes “Four”.
“I can’t ask you to eat or burn the evidence, not in polite company, but please toss your data cards into this paper bag.” You open the paper bag keeping the hidden card stuck near the top edge. The hand holding the bag open hides the card as the spectators flip their cards into the bag. You have a concerned look on your face. “Oh no! Do you hear that? The enemy has caught up. We
need to confuse them. Quickly, throw all the data cards into the bag so it will be impossible to find your two data cards.” You have one of the spectators toss the rest of the deck into the bag. You now close the bag folding down the top. The hidden card stays in place as you pick up the bag holding the folded top squeezing slightly. You shake the bag mixing the cards. A short pause, then...“Another close call. Somewhere in here is one data card...a single card...comprised of a suit
that only you, Double-O-One, are merely thinking of and a value that only you, Double-O-TwentySix, know. And neither of you know what the other is thinking. Even I, your master handler, have no idea what this single card could be, or where in this ‘safe-house’ it could be ... But let me try to use my super spy mind reading skills...” You pause... “and my super spy detection skills.” You open the bag and stir your hand around a bit, all the while holding the stuck card you’ve just unstuck. You bring out the card face hidden. “Name the suit you are thinking of...” Marilyn says “Hearts”. “And name the value” Seth says “Four.” You turn to the audience. “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s congratulate our great secret agents for the
successful extraction of the Four of Hearts from enemy hands!” You turn the card around and take your bow.
The largest number of emails I have received, by a large margin, was regarding this Auto-Magical Any Card at Any Number effect. Some of the emails pointed out a bit of confusion in my description of the method. But all the emails were very positive. In fact, several very well-known magicians whom I have admired for years took the time to reach out and tell me how much they enjoyed the effect and the Auto-Magic column. I was pleased to receive the complimentary emails, and absolutely floored when I read the prominent names of those who sent them! One very nice note came from John Bannon. I have been a huge fan of John’s since my purchase of his amazing “Stranger’s Gallery” many moons ago. And a huger fan since the publication of his “Zero” series book and DVDs (“Destination” and “Move” respectively). John pointed out an error in one of my citations for this trick and also told me about his trick “Collusion” which he was finalizing for publishing in his “Mentalissimo” book and the first “Move Zero” DVD. Our tricks are identical with one minor exception – I show the SUIT and VALUE markers at the beginning and John waits for the denouement. Jon Racherbaumer in an email also suggested this approach (one of my heroes reading my stuff and writing to me?!! My blood pressure spiked!). One could argue either way, I suppose, but I have found my approach increases the suspense a bit more making for a better entertainment. Waiting until the end probably increases the impact, though. I guess it’s a matter of choice. I won’t use the clichéd “brilliant minds thinking alike” comment because I would never claim my mind to be as brilliant as Johns’! But clearly, we tapped into the same wavelength. So, here is the column for the January 2016 issue of The Linking Ring. In the months that followed, I answered emails with a clearer explanation of the method and in the March issue printed the clarifications along with the credit clarifications suggested by Mr. Bannon, Esq. I’m also publishing here for the first time three other ACAAN methods which you may be interested in.
Absolutely ACANNY A Self-Working ACAAN? WELL, MAYBE. IT IS A trick that is ACAAN-ish. And it is self-working. And it is a pretty cool effect that you can make into a small miracle with a strong presentation. “ACAAN-ish”, for lack of a better name, owes a lot to Karl Fulves seminal “Gemini Twins” (More
Self-Working Card Tricks) as well as John Bannon’s “Four-Sided Gemini” (from his wonderful book Destination Zero). Furthermore, the always cool Cameron Francis has a great trick called “Gemini Annihilation” which also uses the Gemini construct to create a selected card. Finally, if you like the overall workings of this and similar effects, you’ll want to check out Gemini Motif, 39
a short, but strong book written by the erudite Jon Rachenbaumer. And sharp-eyed readers, maybe even myopic readers, will notice that this tricks’ DNA is the same as the first trick in this collection, “The Five Roads to Vegas”. Needless to say, I like the “Gemini Motif ” and continue to marvel at its’ versatility. -Ish is an ACAAN! Our favorite magician shuffles a deck and removes two Jokers. On one Joker, the word “SUIT” is written, on the other is “VALUE”. These cards are placed aside as you state “Rather than start
with a typical ‘pick any card’ bit where I could possibly influence what card you select, we will use these ‘Indicator Cards’ and create a totally random card; random suit and random value.” You ask Marilyn, Spectator 1, to “call out any random number between, say, 1 and 20.” She says “Twelve.” You hand the deck to Marilyn and ask her “deal out twelve cards, then, one at a time, into a neat face-down pile.” You place the Joker marked SUIT face-up on the face-down pile, take the rest of the pack from Marilyn and place it face-down on top of the SUIT Joker. You then carefully slide the deck over to Spectator 2. “Seth, we need you to think of a random number too. But let’s go from 5 to 25.” Seth calls out “Ten.” He is instructed to pick up the deck and deal a face-down pile of 10 cards. As before you place the Joker face-up on the dealt pile (this is the Joker marked VALUE). And you plop the rest of the deck on top. You have a serious look in your eyes as you remind your spectators that this type of card selection process was as fair and random as could be (can you keep a straight face?). “Any card could have been picked,” you say as you spread the deck from right to left. The two Jokers will be face up and you slide them and the cards to their immediate left out of the spread. You then reassemble the deck without displacing any cards. Then move the Jokers so they sit on top of their respective selections.
“This card,” you continue, “represents a totally random selection of a suit.” You flip over the SUIT indicated card, the 8 of Spades, and point at one of the pips. “It’s a Spade.” “And what is the value of this Spade?” You turn over the other card which is the 2 of Diamonds. “The value is two. So, the totally randomized card that both of you just created is...” you gesture to your audience to finish the sentence. “The 2 of Spades!” “We now need another number. A totally random number. So, just like combining your random selections to create the 2 of Spades, we will combine your totally random numbers that you, and
only you, thought of at the start of this presentation. Marilyn, you said twelve, I believe, and Seth, you mentioned ten. Combining them, we get twenty-two, right? It’s obvious that had you selected different numbers, my number would be very different. And the card you created would have been different too. But we have landed on twenty-two and the 2 of Spades.” You pick up the tabled deck. “Wouldn’t it be a miracle if the twenty-second card was the 2 of Spades?” The deck is face-up as you begin to deal the cards. “I’ll even deal them face-up so you
will see that there is no funny business taking place!” Of course the funny business happened before you began to deal. And, of course, the twenty-second card is the 2 of Spades. The Method-ish Have the Jokers marked VALUE and SUIT and placed anywhere into the deck. You’ll want to mark them so that the words are clearly printed in the lower third of the card. It will make the selections a bit more obvious and viewable. The deck is set-up with 8 of Spades as the top card (on the face down-down deck) and the 2 of Diamonds as the bottom card (feel free to use your own selections). The “created” card, the 2 of Spades in our example, sits just above the 8 of Spades. In other words, the 2 of Spades is the next to the last card of the face-down deck. You are ready to go. Just follow the instructions and patter mentioned above and the trick mechanics will work by themselves. Not so Auto I did mention the deck is shuffled at the start and while false shuffles or cuts are beyond the purview of this column (and not really necessary, you could put the set-up deck out of the case and start by pulling out the Jokers), a simple riffle shuffle retaining the bottom few cards and the top card or two is easily accomplished. Just let the cut half containing the bottom two cards start the shuffle and end with the half containing the top few cards. Instead of Jokers, you could use your business cards or your Spectator’s business cards writing VALUE and SUIT on them beforehand (just remember, as set-up here, the SUIT is declared first). It is also important to remember that the “indicated cards” are the cards to the left of the Jokers (or business cards).
As written in the srcinal article, there was confusion about the order of placing the SUIT vs. VALUE Jokers. But when tackled as described here, it should work perfectly well. A few emailers also missed the point of where the force cards lay in relation to the inserted Jokers. Whether spread from left to right or right to left, it doesn’t matter, the force cards you slide out are ALWAYS lays ON TOP of the Joker indicator cards. The mathematics that engines this trick is ridiculously simple, yet so well-disguised by the process and method. Essentially, the two numbers selected by the spectators are “discarded” cards and placed on the bottom of the deck. All you have done is discard those cards and added them back to the deck at the bottom displacing the final force card from the bottom. Basically, you have asked “What is your ‘any number’?” They say, for example “15”. So you next add 15 cards, physically moving the force card to the right spot! In front of their nostrils too!! One final note, before the counting down to the ACAAN’ed card, be sure to do a little kibitzing. The recap allows for a bit of time misdirection necessary to prevent the audience from thinking too hard about the topological discrepancy of the indicated cards on top of, rather than underneath the indicators.
Three More ACAANs for Pack Rats I MENTIONED EARLIER I’D THROW a few more ACAAN ideas at you. I haven’t really worked these three a lot...how many ACAAN’s do you really need? I have tried them out and they work perfectly well. The audiences seem to be amazed by the effects, but the “ACAAN-ish” approach is much more interactive and entertaining. Some say, it is much more “Spanish School.” Whatever that is. I can’t speak Spanish, so here are the other three approaches. Let’s call them “SICAAN”, “BluffCAAN” and the “BluffCAAN Originale”.
SICAAN Do It... I’VE TOYED WITH USING THE perennial Si Stebbins setup for a card at any number motif for years. I’ve seen this used in a few places, though I just cannot recall the sources, and some versions have popped up in various YouTube videos by amateur tricksters who either don’t want to go to the effort of researching a trick’s provenance or don’t think it’s important enough to mention it. So, I present here not-finished versions of Stebbins-based ACAANs; rather, sketches. With your deck in Si Stebbins order (each card is a count of three higher, suits alternate in a known preference. I prefer spades, hearts, clubs and diamonds). In this order, the mate of each card is 27 cards away. 42
Spread the deck face up from hand to hand and say, “Think of a card. It could be any card. Please name it.” Let’s say the spectator names the 4 of diamonds. You’ll spot the 4 of diamonds and split the spread at this point. The 4D should be the leftmost card in your right hand. Cut the cards bringing the 4D to the top. Now turn the deck face down and flip the top card, the named 4D face up onto the table. It’s mate, the 4 of hearts now sits exactly 26 cards from the top. Now you need to get them to count down to the 26th card. You’ll have to come up with a ploy that forces the number 26. One option is to suggest that you programmed the deck with “Siri” or “Google” – like search capabilities. “So, for example, you want to find your card’s lost mate, you merely ‘type in’ the phrase
‘Please Help Me Find My Lost Mate’ by dealing one card face down for each letter...” p-l-e-a-s-e-h-e-l-p-m-e-f-i-n-d-m-y-l-o-s-t-m-a-t-e You should easily be able to come up with another search phrase. Alternatively, if you can force the number 25 or 26 (or you are performing for someone who is 25 or 26 years old (or has a birthday or the 25th or 26th of the month) you could just have the spectator count down to the number. 26 gets to the correct card. If it’s 25 you could state “those
cards just needed to be removed, please turn over the next one.” Finally, you could ask the spectator to call out a number, “not too high, like 30 or more, and not
a low number. Give us a good-sized number.” Stating the request this way typically gives you a number in the mid-20s. If it’s 25 or 26, you are in good shape. Any other number you need to add or subtract cards. If you can perform a false overhand jog shuffle, it’s a simple matter to deposit or remove the requisite number of cards.
Or, you could try asking for the number as above and if they call a different number, use the Siri/Google method mentioned above as an out. Rather than forcing a number, you could try to force a card. Which brings me to
BluffCAAN IN THIS VERSION, YOU HAND a Joker or your business card to a spectator. You cut the deck a few times, have the spectator cut as well, then riffle through the deck. “Please stab this Joker
face up into the deck at any time.” After the spectator complies, you spread through the deck and readily spot the face-up Joker. You lift the cards over the Joker and ask your helper to “remove the Joker and take a look at the card underneath – the card you stabbed. In fact, remove it and
show it around to everyone...you can even let me see it.” Marilyn shows everyone the 5 of Diamonds. “Put it back where you found it and I will bury it with these cards.” You drop the srcinal top packet back on top. “You could have picked any of these cards,” you state while casually letting the cards flip from one hand to the other – faces clearly showing, “but you seemed attract-
ed to the 5 of Diamonds...or the other way around!” “It’s a sure bet you can’t tell us exactly where in this deck your card is located...but just in case...” you split the deck in two and riffle shuffle the halves together. Cut the cards and repeat the shuffle. “Now, you surely can’t tell me where your card is!” You turn to another spectator. “But, Seth, maybe you can. There are 52 cards in this deck, name any number from 1 to 52, but not too low or too high.” Seth calls out 17 and you hand the deck to Marilyn. “Seth could have named any number, just like you could have named any card, but he
said 17. Please deal the cards into a nice neat face-down pile. But stop at 16.” Marilyn begins dealing down stopping as directed on card number 16. “If Seth had named one number less, you would have landed on this card, the Queen of Clubs.” You name card 16 which you just flipped face-up. “Now deal card number 17 here,” she does. “Leave it face down for now.” You take the deck back from Marilyn and flip over the next card. “Card number 18 – one number
higher would have given us the 8 of Spades. But you called the 5 of Diamonds and Seth called out number 17.... Could it really be...?” You slowly turn over the 17th card. It’s the 5 of Diamonds. Amazing? Yes. Sleight-free? Indeed. How’s it done? Svengali. The “bluff” in the “BluffCAAN” is the patter framing the situation as if the spectator really could have selected any card. As you certainly know, the standard Svengali deck alternates short and long cards with the short cards all the same. These are the force cards and appear in the odd-number positions. Follow the patter above and the mechanics of the trick will be obvious. What happens in Seth calls an even number? You could follow the approach is written above (after “removing” the named number of cards, turn over the next (odd) card) or you could spread the cards in a wide spread left to right and count the cards from the left side to the right (in other words from the bottom up); this being an old gambit I first read about in the 1960’s and recently revived by several magicians including the brilliant Brent Braun.
Another idea, is to put the deck back in the case after shuffling so that “the order of the cards can’t be changed.” A Joker or other card lays in wait in the card case, so when you put the deck back into the box, this stray is added to the deck in position number one, thus placing the force cards in the even positions.
BluffCAAN Originale ONE FINAL NOTE REGARDING THE BluffCAAN, when I was first toying with this idea, I used two decks of cards. The result melted the minds of several magicians who should have known better (!!) but it is kind of dirty and a bit too ballsy for my taste. Nonetheless, it may very well fit your style. Both decks were red-back Bicycle decks in identical boxes. I used the first deck to force a card. Any force will do and there are legions of books that detail them. The force card is left face-up on the table as you put the rest of the deck in your back left pocket. The second deck is introduced and shuffled fairly by you and the participant. You ask for the random number and have the spectator count down the cards one by one into a face down pile. The card at the called number is placed face down next to the face up card. You remove the dealt and undealt cards from the table focusing the audience’s attention on the two cards. Reiterating that the first card could indeed have been any card and the card counted to was indeed at any number (in fact you show the spectators the faces of other cards in the is deck that they would have landed on if they called another number), you ask the spectator to turn over the face-down and show it to all. It’s a match! As I mentioned, the first deck is a normal, ungaffed, unprepared deck. You do force the “target” card however. The second deck is definitely not ungaffed. It is a modified one-way force deck. There are a couple indifferent cards on top, followed by 35 or so identical cards, followed by 15 or more indifferent cards. The force card from deck one is, obviously, the same as the card bank in the second deck. You really sell the randomness of choice by squaring the cards after the counted-to card has been removed and turning the deck face up slowly and sloppily spreading the bottom 15 indifferent cards then quickly putting the cards into your back right pocket. Then when all the attention is turned to the spectator turning over the face-down card, you can easily switch the gaffed deck for the normal one in your left back pocket. Again, this was my srcinal version. While I did get great results from it, I just didn’t want to deal with the choreography. But, if your style is fast-paced, it should work very well for you. Go for it and let me know how it worked out.
“Without You, They’re Just Tricks” This is the essay I referred to in the Introduction. I really dislike the phrase “self-working” as it pertains to magic. Tricks can be self-working. Magic never is. An automaton such as those seen in the 1800’s that “played” chess, performed fortune telling and so on, is basically a complex prop that drives a complex trick. Cool and amazing, but still a trick. An older, erudite gentleman with a kind manner and stentorian voice and a beard as big as his face, who performs the Gypsy Thread while telling us a story of Indian myths and the creation of the Universe, is treating us to magic. Real magic. In the last several years “self-working” magic has been redefined. It essentially now means magic that can be performed without sleights (usually card or coin magic). And it has moved beyond the image of “trash magic” – i.e., if arthritis-inducing moves are not involved, it can’t be any good. Steve Beam has written nine volumes of “semi-automatic” card effects, Big Blind Media produced a trilogy “Ultimate Self-Working” DVDs, the eloquent Roberto Giobbi has a trio of books with great self-workers written in his inimitable style and lately John Bannon equates a journey’s end point with sleight of hand in “Destination Zero”. Want effects involving more than cards, reach back to the work of Karl Fulves or forward to Jim Steinmeyer. The learnings are in many, many places and the teachings come from some of magic’s greats. Even sleight-of-hand experts like Vernon to Michael Ammar have given us great effects that are self-working in method. But the key point is the real magic is in the presentation not the obscured math or optical illusions that steam engine the effect. We constantly read ad copy that states the “effect I self-working so you can concentrate on the presentation.” I believe that copy like that may actually drive buyers away. It’s a lot of work to get the presentation just right and something that fits the performer. And it requires a lot of rehearsal. So many just try to learn the latest flourish or ridiculous sleight from YouTube or elsewhere. I wanted to do a column on self-working magic to get I.B.M.-ers to think about the framing of an effect and develop a layered deepness to the understanding of an effect and its affect on the audience. Doing so...and doing so with srcinality...will help advance magic as an art and you as a performer. Renoir was a great painter not because he was so adept and quick in mixing the pigments on his palette, but because of how he framed his point of view and transposed it to canvas (in fact this concept of Impressionism is even adaptable to magic: pick up a copy of Hugard’s Encyclopedia of Card Tricks. The effects are described in a terse three or four paragraphs and the interpretation and presentation is mostly left to the performer). This is what we will be bringing in each monthly installment: a few ideas, some important theory (brought painlessly) plus an effect or principle ready for you to paint onto your magical canvas. 46
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