Sunday, November 23, 2008

Here I am doing magic in San Diego

For You Tube click:


For a slightly higher fidelity version on the Internet Archive: HERE

Shouts go out to Tom Munnecke for making this video possible.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

For a Picture of My New Book on Real Magic Click

HERE ....

The Book examines age-old mysteries of existence including:

• Why does life exist?
• Why do we drink water?
• Can we save the Earth from global warming?
• Are human beings central and special?
• Is it possible that we’ve arisen by pure chance?
• Is the Earth an organism?
• Are we part of its exobrain?
• If Earth is alive, can it reproduce?
• Can the universe?
• What does the future hold in store for us?
• Does God exist?
• What is the nature of ultimate reality?

I examine these real-life mysteries using not just science, and philosophy, but also a knowledge of sleight-of-hand magic. For example I apply Dai Vernon's The Trick that Cannot Be Explained to the question of determining the chances of our existence in such an unusual cosmos as this one, which has observers as well as many other quirks. Among the magicians mentioned in the book are Jerry Andrus and James Randi.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Think of a Card,

any card ....


Monday, August 22, 2005

Further Notes on the Longitudinal Double Lift

It's funny--I once got stopped for not having an inspection sticker, showed the cop some card stuff (that magic didn't work), and he started a conversation about double lifts! Still wrote me the ticket, though. A propos of which, I received an email from a Jimmy Wong (no relation I presume to Stanford Wong, the blackjack expert, no doubt a pseudonym anyway). Wong read my post about (my) longitudinal double lift and, while saying it's "quite cool and I think that was the one that David Blaine used" (I don't know about that), remains "quite confused on the technique," asking me for some pictures or a DVD. This I do not have but, to reiterate and synopsize what can be found below on this blog, I explained: "You push off two as one and, taking the cards by the ends (short sides), snap them face up. Like I say...the cards can't be too new--they must be a little 'gritty'--and it takes practice, a 'knack.'" I actually can't remember anyone else using this move, so maybe it's pretty hard. But, once you get it, it is the best double lift, bar none, for a borrowed, used (but not dog-eared) pack. I use it for the finale of a mental location based on a trick done by a different method that Persi Diaconis (who ran away with Dai Vernon as a boy, and now is a well-known statistician and winner of the MacArthur "genius" award) showed at a poker game attended by my stepfather, the late MIT mathematician Nez Ankony, and myself about twelve years old. Some day perhaps it will maked it to DVD but for now this verbal description will have to suffice. One more, perhaps important, detail. The second (middle) finger of the right hand (if you are right-handed) comes quickly and stiffly to the back of the longitudinally snap-displayed card, which is bevelled to make a slight concavity toward the viewers (magician and spectators) by pressure of the thumb on the face of the card; the thumb presses down between the first and second fingers on the back, keeping the snapped card aligned.

In my next entry I will give a "magic marker" routine based on my modification of Dutch magician Flip's drumbstick move (itself a version of a cigarette move).

Monday, July 04, 2005

Forget About the Money

Effect: Saying he will simplify three card monte, the performer does two card monte, putting the queen of spades, which he calls "the money card" under a half dollar (or casino chip) and showing a contrasting card, say the three of diamonds. The performer spins the latter on the close up pad showing it to be the queen: only two cards, which never even touched each other, and already the spectator would have apparently lost. Simplifying further, the performer does "one card monte," snapping the indifferent card as he says it is just to distract you, at which point it is again the queen, the three of diamonds under the coin. Matching actions to the comment that if "you don't want to put your money on the card, you should put your card on the money," the performer puts the half beneath the queen in the left hand. He then picks up the three of diamonds and turns over both hands, doing what he calls "the Siberian slide" to make the coin seemingly slip through an invisible column of air, sliding down from under the queen to drop magically off the three. "Forget about the money," the performer says, pushing it away a little bit. He very cleanly puts the queen on the table, again puts the half on it, but then does a suspicious move. At this point he says "let's bring the money back into it. Knowing what you know now, you should be able to play. Let's hypothetically wager fifty dollars. Where would you bet the queen is?" Whether the spectator says "in your hand" or not, the performer shows the three to have again changed to the queen and says, "And you would have been right--except for one thing." Clicking the queen on the coin, he then turns it over to show it is a three, and picks up the coin. "You forgot about the money." The queen, just shown in the right hand, is now displayed on the table.

Prerequisites: an ordinary, not brand new deck of cards and half dollar, and the ability to do a top change, snap change, Curry turnover change, and convincing double lift (preferably by various methods).

Method: With the queen of spades second and the three of diamonds (say) third from top of the pack you double lift to show queen. Place top card on table, put coin on card, pattering about finding the money card, the queen. Do another double lift to display three and place top card (queen) next to it on pad. "With two cards it should be easier, although sometimes you see a move like this." Spin card on pad and show it to be queen. Lift half dollar off left hand card, switched in act of turning over by Curry or Marlo one-hand turnover change. This is a transposition presented as two card monte, a distinct effect of the card being lost although there are only two cards. Pattering about making it easier to watch by using only one card, show the queen, deal it to surface and do top change as left hand picks up coin and right card slides under it. Display three face up on deck in left hand, getting a break under second card. Lift two cards as one at edges in position for snap change. "This card is just to distract you," say as right hand waves doubled card over table card, snapping and reversing cards above coin to show queen again. Lift coin with right hand for misdirection while left hand does turnover change to show three. Queen has now been placed directly under money twice, only to be lost track of by spectator. Saying that if you don't want to play one card monte, you shouldn't put your money on a card at all, but rather, put the card on the money. Matching actions to words you show the queen of spades face up on left outstretched fingers. Right coin in production grip goes to left hand and allows coin to delicately drop to left palm hiding the coin, which is seemingly placed there but actually removed under cover of falling card via a retention pass. Right hand palms retained coin on way to three on table. Pick card up so back is facing you and audience. "You should put your card on the money" you were saying, "unless you see a move like this know as 'the Siberian slide'..." To do the Siberian slide, you align your hands outstretched about a foot apart. Each holds one of the two monte cards, and the spectator think the coin is under the face down queen. To make the effect of a card secretly sliding down a chute to the other hand, keep your arms roughly parallel but your left hand (with queen) apparently higher. Now you do two things simultaneously (both are easy). You turn your left hand with card face down and keep turning as far as you can as you push card through hand with left thumb. Meanwhile you do much the same thing with the right hand except there is no need to turn. You simply push the card through as you drop the palmed coin on the back of the three and let it slide off to the mat. Done right, this looks like the coin is invisibly traveling through some sort of money-sucking conduit. Continuing you patter, " which case you may be dealing with a hustler."
"Forget about the money," you say as the strange move registers. You match action to words, moving coin a couple of inches away. Now you will do a feint/sucker move. Mimick a double lift motion but completely cleanly and very cleanly (because you have only one card) put the queen on the mat, covering with the half. I now twirl-display the other card and pretend to do a noisy top change (grabbing with left thumb) as card moves to table and peformer leans on hand with suspiciously moved card. As instructed, the spectator has "forgotten about the money" (about playing for real money) so whether he falls for the sucker move or not (the queen is where it's supposed to be)tell him he seems a little more confident now. "Let's bring the money back into it," say, moving the half dollar back closer to the cards. "Knowing what you know now, you should be ready to play. Hypothetically, lets bet fifty dollars." Again you double lift, show queen, place random card on table, and put coin on seeming queen. Do final double lift, show three, push off and hold in right hand. "Where is the queen?" Spectator indicates where he thinks money card is. "And you would be right," say, showing queen (which was just previously seen to be three), turn queen face down and move both hands toward coin on back of tabled card, doing a top change as they come together. "Except for one thing." Click what they thought was queen (but is now, because of top change, again the three of diamonds) on edge of card. Turn over card to show it is no longer queen. Set aside and remove with right fingers the coin which is held up in gesture as left hand does final turnover change, showing the queen. "You forgot about the money." The effect is that the queen just shown in right hand as spectator finally gets right card is also instantaneously in other position.

Afterthoughts: this "ultra-gambling" routine distills pure visual effects with coins and cards and organizes them in mock education fashion around the dangers of getting cheated. "Forget about the money" is potentially both comic and educational, as such things as "one-card monte" and the "Siberian Slide" mock the idea of betting on sure things or even keeping your money; and the perormer's explanations are each further hustles. The using-less-cards-to-make-things easier to watch is taken from Derek Dingle patter for ambitious classic, but strengthened by the idea of doing minimalist "two" and "one" card monte, as if there could be such a thing. The patter "put your card on the money" is not only a natural segue for an object retention pass a la Silent Mora (who used to "tip" waiters expensive coins that disappeared within the folds of dinner napkins) but also a neurolinguistic trick as it is "literal" compared to the figure of speech, "putting your money on" something, which is often only metaphorical. The patter thus reinforces the false reality of the coin beneath the queen. The illusion of sliding teleportation jokingly called the Siberian Slide is greatly enhanced by correct hand (and arm) position and a little timing. Remember the appearance is audible because the coin slides off card as right (lower hand) tilts. The retention vanish beneath the card in hand is Andreis Suarez's idea and the first part of a trick is an application to the gambling demonstration of two-card monte of moves first worked out for doing a transposition with ordinary cards. I was motivated by a television commercial in the early seventies that showed cards placed beneath and above a Budweiser beer can that changed places. That trick may have been done by Francis Carlyle or Frank Garcia using a double card. Timing is important in the double change at the climax; the trick should appear to be over with the comment, "And you would have been right," in which the performer shakes the queen. "Except for one thing," you add as an afterthought, as you look up again (it is a good idea to make eye contact during this last phase of the routine at least twice), "you forgot about the money." This again is humorous because you told the spectator to forget about the money when you weren't betting, which you never really were, for good reason. This routine requires acting and is comic and educational as well as magical. The Siberian Slide, such as it is, appears to be a new effect as the coin is seemingly "poured" down an invisible pipe reminiscent of the casino tubes that suck greenbacks from the table to the "sky." Finally, note that the patter about two cards is belied by the presence of three objects, the third being the coin whose presence under the coin in the Siberian slide move suggests the shell game (brief respite from monte) with just two shells.

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.

    Saturday, April 30, 2005

    More Psychokinesis: The Wooden Match Vibration Enigma

    I have never seen this following, relatively easy, bit of "mind control" business published--which perhaps makes it more valuable. In fact, I learned it from an Alex Lob, the younger brother of a friend and classmate at Murray Road High School, the oldest alternative high school east of the Mississippi river. Lob worked in a gas station and wowed me, who was supposed to be the expert (between us), as follows: he held one match perpendicularly in his right hand, which was palm up, the wooden match's head to the left of the performer. Gripping tightly he then balanced another match lightly on his upturned left forefinger. This second match merely rested on his forefinger; the other end was supported by the match in his right hand. Affecting intense concentration (not exactly an affectation, as we shall see shortly), Alex then made the balanced match, without any direct contact, jump repeatedly. It vibrated, then stopped, like a Geiger counter or medical instrument detector. There were no wires or threads. I was mystified.

    The secret to this simple trick, which can have an astounding effect if done correctly, is the fingernail of the middle right finger. Contact of the nail against the right hand's match--not the jumping match mind you, but the match on which it's balanced--transfers to the other match, making it slightly jump. The tightness of the right hand grip is important. You want to press the second fingernail out against the wood and then drag it--ever so slightly--down. Because of the texture of the nail in interaction with the soft wood, the nail will "skip" moving down not smoothly but in little jumps. These little jumps, which you can feel but which are invisible to the naked eye, cause the match to appear to jump in a startling fashion. The effect is indeed as if you are a creature out of Philip K. Dick--gifted, although only slightly, with superhuman powers. This simple trick is a lot of fun and, although it seems that it must have been published before, I am unaware of it ever having previously appeared in print.