Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Mirror Cards

Effect: A card is selected at random and returned to the pack. Feigning lack of confidence, the performer selects four cards, one of which, he suggests, will definitely be the lovely spectator’s card. Neither of the first two cards, nor either of the second two, however, is the spectator’s card. Seemingly distressed, the performer turns the cards face down and shuffles the pack, which he then sets aside to gather up the four cards. Showing them again, showing the cards (all except one) and reiterating his question. He seems dumbfounded that “even with a one-out-of-thirteen” chance he has not found the right card. However, upon laying the cards out once again it is seen that one of the four is indeed the spectator’s card, suggesting perceptual problems on his (or her) part. “Wanna know how I did it?” the magician asks. Before the spectator can answer he shows the four cards again, one by one, twice: each card is now not a printed playing card at all but has a shiny reflective surface. “It’s all done with mirrors,” explains the magus.

Method: It is necessary first to peel a standard playing card into its two layers, and then to affix a piece of Mylar cut to match to the thusly prepared card. This card will be found to be slightly thicker and can thus be used as a key card similar to cards in a stripper pack. Contrive to have said mirror card with ordinary back on the bottom of pack. (Be careful not to flash its reflective surface.) Have a card selected and returned to pack after cutting off a couple of packets with right forefinger. Place rest of pack on top and square up cards. Because the Mylar card is thicker you will be able to see and feel where it is on the edge of the squared-up pack. You can even lightly overhand or Hindu shuffle, as long as the relationship between the chosen card and the Mylar card, on top of it, is not disturbed.
“I’m going to try to find your card,” you say, looking through them face up and immediately taking note of the chosen card. Take out another one and put it on the table. “I am going to try to find your card,” say. At this point, since you know the card, you can turn the pack face down and shuffle to your heart’s content. “But since it is so thoroughly buried,” I will give myself more than one chance. Look through and pick out another indifferent card, placing the two cards at the lower left and upper right of an imaginary square you will presently complete. Now cut the Mylar card to the top and keep it there by gently applying pressure with your left fingers. (This is a standard and easy overhand shuffle technique.) Shuffle face up. The flashing of many cards, none of which are mirrored, creates the impression that all the cards are perfectly normal and aboveboard.

Now turn over the two cards, neither of which will be the selected one. Admitting incomplete success, fan the cards toward yourself and lay out two more indifferent cards face down, completing the little square of four cards. As you pick out these cards make sure that the selected card winds up on the pack’s bottom. With deck now in the left hand with selected card at the bottom and Mylar card at the top perform the Paul Curry one-handed turnover change (the Marlo version may may be substituted; consult Expert Card Technique or The Cardician for descriptions) as you turn face down incorrect cards (secretly substituting correct card for incorrect one at lower left corner); immediately turn over new cards in upper left and lower right corners. Neither of these will be correct either. “Are you sure,” you inquire, seeming perturbed as you nervously shuffle cards, bringing Mylar card to bottom. “Neither the first two,” you say, pointing to the face down cards, “nor the second pair,” you say, performing another turnover change as you simultaneously turn over face up cards in upper left and lower right corners of square. “That’s weird. Let’s see what we can do.” Gather the cards up so that the chosen card is second from bottom and Mylar card is at top. Overhand shuffle the packet by simply drawing off each card individually, then quickly repeat, reestablishing original order. Show the bottom of the four-card packet in the left hand. “That’s not your card?” you say of the indifferent card. Pretend to place face down but take the second card from the bottom via the glide (see any decent card text for this utility move). Rub the indifferent card and show that it has turned into the chosen card. Replace on bottom of packet. Repeat the glide twice more flashing bottom of remaining cards to show the chosen card three times in a row. With two cards you won’t be able to do a glide but just remove the top card in a similar, smooth motion, flashing the remaining card. The effect is that all the indifferent cards have turned into the chosen one.

Put chosen card on bottom and repeat as follows. Turn packet face up in left palm (to show chosen card). Turn packet face down, push off top card and bottom card via the ring finger of the left hand as in the classic bottom deal. Take top and bottom cards as one, turning both as one face up on top of packet, showing again the chosen card. Deal off top (indifferent) card. Show top card, again the chosen card. Apparently deal off but really strike second deal off an indifferent card. Show “third” card (again chosen card). Bottom (which is the same here as a second deal since you only have two cards) deal final indifferent card. Show fourth and final example of chosen card. You now seem to have shown twice that all the cards have turned into chosen card. Lay “final” card on top of tabled packet.
You now have four cards at the bottom of which is the heretofore-unseen Mylar mirror card. “Want to know how I do it?” you ask. The answer should be yes. At which point you pick up tabled packet by the ends and, stripping off card with left thumb, you show the bottom of the right remaining cards—each time the mirror face—four times in rapid succession. When you are left with one card, add it to the bottom of the cards in the left hand, flashing Mylar card one final time. “It’s all done with mirrors,” you explain.

Afterthoughts: When I showed this to Meir Yedid at the Pittsburgh IBM convention in ’78 he exclaimed, “You invented that?” Yedid became famous for his amazing ability to make his fingers appear to disappear, one by one—a feat amazing in that the magician’s “objects” are here his body parts themselves, with apparently no place to hide. Of course, like most magic the tricks are dependent upon angles of vision; indeed, they are really just very sophisticated versions of the uncles trick of substituting a thumb for a nose between his clenched fingers as he tells the child “I got your nose.” Yedid, who ironically and tragically later actually lost one of his own fingers, taught Mohammed Ali in the use of a thumb tip, a flesh-colored magician’s gimmick that in the great fighter’s case had to be colored somewhat darker than those found usually in magic stores. I did and do take credit for this trick, although the theme—“explaining” by turning everything in the end into mirrors—was lifted from Frank Garcia’s money paddle routine, in which money (coins) double on a small wooden paddle, from which there then appears a twenty dollar bill, after which the surface of the paddle is seen to have become reflective on both sides. Similar trick “explaining” by producing or featuring some metaphor of magic itself include Slydini’s Purse of Fortunatus, David Roth’s Portable Hole, and other tricks in which small objects are doubled after being reflected in pocket mirrors.


For those (few) of you who have been checking here (ever more irregularly, no doubt), I have not been able to add as often as would be ideal, in part because of my new coauthored
  • book
  • just out (June, '05). This book has been in the works for over a decade. University of Chicago did a great job on the production. The book is not about magic, however, except in the overarching sense of explaining how many seemingly disparate parts of the world--complex systems, living beings, economic markets--work. In a sense this is to do with magic, as creationists like to suggest that certain things (mainly life or humans) are so inexplicable they could only have been done by supernatural means. In any case, I urge you, if you are interested in such, to buy a copy. It will help support me do things like reveal all my card tricks on this here blog.

    Since my last April post, I received a welcome and complementary letter from amateur magician Derrick Chung informing me that the match trick in fact has appeared in print in Mark Wilson's Complete Course in Magic. Also since my last visit I knocked some stuff around with prestidigitorian Nico Suarez. Both Nico and his brother Andreis are accomplished sleight of hand artists. I pat myself on the back (a difficult move by any stretch) because I got Nico interested in magic when I used the Flip (of Holland) vanishing drumstick move on a pen while he was working take out in a Moroccan restaurant; now he is the official magician for the city of Albany. Nico and Andreis have an unpublished book of original material sitting around and I will ask him if he will release a couple of samples exclusively (hah hah) to this site. In the meantime, I will post something I wrote a while ago, developed years ago, but that has never been published. The effect is modification of a Frank Garcia trick to apply to playing cards. The biggest obstacles in performing it are two fold: the Curry Turnover Change, and Mylar, which doesn't seem so easy to procure as it used to be. When I made this trick up in the 1970s I was in possession of sticky backed sheet of Mylar from which I could make the cards.