Reps

I've talked in recent weeks about the smearing of magic outside the confines of the trick itself.

Reps are a way of smearing the magic past the conclusion of an effect. 

Before I explain what it is and what it means, I'll start with an example. This is something my friend and JAMM/Jerx AV-guy AC used to do a long time ago when we were in our teens and he has continued to do for twenty years. The first time I saw it was at a card game in the high school lunchroom. But he says he's done it "probably 50 times" over the years at family functions, with friends, co-workers, even with strangers on Amtrak trains. There is a deck of cards on the table. The deck is not AC's, but he asks if people would like to see a card trick before they get to whatever game the cards had been brought out to play. People pretty much always agree to that.

So AC has someone pick a card and show everyone except himself. Let's say it's the six of diamonds. The cards is shuffled back into the deck and he says he's going to find the card. He looks through the cards and pulls out the card he thinks it is. It's the four of clubs. He's wrong. "Oh, what card was it?" he asks. They say the six of diamonds. "Watch," he says, "with a wave of my hand I'll turn the four into the six of diamonds." And with the wave of his hand, the four of clubs changes into the six of diamonds. Nice trick, nicely done. Nothing earth shattering.

Everyone settles around the table to play the game. 

"Oh, wait," AC says. "Do you have a permanent marker or something?" They ask what he needs it for. "So we can write on this six of diamonds that it's actually the four of clubs." Everyone tries to understand what he's saying. "Remember? I turned the four of clubs into the six of diamonds. So now we have two of those." He spreads the deck and pulls out the other six of diamonds. There is no four of clubs. 

Those of you who actually interact with people will not be surprised to learn that this moment actually gets a more profound reaction than the trick itself did. Not in the "wow" sense, but in the lingering "magical" sense. The trick itself was just "a magic trick." It lived in that black box. But this was... what was this? Now we have two 6 of diamonds, no 4 of clubs, and for the rest of the night whenever they see that jacked-up 6D/4C they're reminded of the trick. Actually, this little idea is even more devious than that. Because it's not only for the rest of the night, but whenever that deck is used in the future that story is remembered and often retold. 

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You might think, "But certainly it's obvious that he just brought a dupe that matched the deck he knew they used, he introduced it into the deck, and then he stole out the other card after the effect when people's guards were down." You'd think that might be obvious, but having seen this play out, and having done it myself a few times, I can tell you it's not. I can't say 100% why not. I'd have to really break it down with people to figure it out. I'm guessing it's because people aren't inclined to scrutinize stuff that happens outside the box of the trick. 

This is why I'm so focused recently on obscuring the edges of that box. I think it makes the magic trick a slightly different type of experience. And thus it can generate different types of reactions beyond the canned responses people have prepared for a trick.

In the example above all he's doing is treating the effect as if it had some repercussions. If you were to really magically change one card to another (and not magically exchange the cards) then what you would have is two of one card and none of the other. And going forward you'd have to deal with that minor inconvenience. (If someone says, "just change it back" then you say. "That's not how it works. I could change the card into your selected card, but not backwards. The butcher can change the pig into bacon, but not the bacon into a pig.")

To extend the magic past the climax of the trick, give a trick some repercussions.

That's what Reps are (repercussions) and, like Imps, I have a document with dozens of them that I've been testing out. 

Think of how magic is normally presented. "I have five 1 dollar bills. Now I've changed them into five 100 dollar bills. Now I'll put them in my pocket. See you later." So often it's presented as if someone had challenged you to do so in the least compelling way possible. We present things as if we want them to be dismissed. "I'm going to do this really quick and then go into another effect." That's maybe appropriate if you're table-hopping, but if you're performing in social situations you can do so in a way that makes the experience much richer for people. 

Reps are a way of letting that bell ring and resonate past the conclusion of a trick.

Often Reps will be trick-specific. But I'll finish this post with some broad categories that you may be able to use in a general way. And then in the future I'll explore the concept in more depth.

Physical repercussions: Maybe you perform a trick and you're completely drained of energy for the rest of the night. "I can break this lightbulb with my mind, but if I do I won't be able to go bowling with you guys. I'll probably just crash in bed for the rest of the evening." 

Or perhaps it's the opposite, maybe you need to absorb a lot of energy to do a trick so the repercussion is that you're bouncing off the walls after. "Hell yeah! I'm all charged up now. Let's go do something. Let's go bowling."

Don't torture yourself. Let the Rep be based on what you actually want to do (for example, if you want to go bowling or not). You can use the reps as an excuse for what you're inclined to do anyways. "Sure, future mother-in-law, I'll read your mind. But then I'm going to have to go in my room and play video games for a while away from all of you here. Once you open up that channel of communication it remains open for a while. And it would be like hearing 6 radios playing different things all at once if I were to stay out here with all of you and participate in the wedding planning."

There are innumerable other physical Reps you could consider. Put a little fake blood in a tissue and stash it in the bathroom. Then, after some mental exhibition, start doing a couple heavy sniffs through your nose. Then hustle off to the bathroom where you get a tissue (your prepped one) and come out faking a nose bleed. "No big deal. This happens."

Or get some of these and some blood capsules and spit a bloody tooth into the kitchen sink after a trick. Collect some of your hair and make it seem like a clump of it fell out after you perform something. Who knows how some mental effect might affect someone?

I haven't done the full tooth thing, but I do have a chipped tooth in the back of my mouth (tragic Sugar Babies incident) and I have spit out a piece of "enamel" (a chip off a piece of Dentyne ice gum) after some trick of the mind. "Aw shit," I say. Then I explain, "it requires a lot of energy to do that and it can reverberate in weird ways in your skull. Eh... that sucks. It could be worse. I know a guy who did that trick and his jaw broke in three places. Like you really have to struggle to keep the energy contained sometimes."

Financial repercussions: If you magically produce something of value and then let your spectator keep it, then that trick has a repercussion for both you and the spectator. You're losing something of value and she's gaining it; that goes past the trick itself. If you do the $100 Bill Switch and then let them keep the new, higher value bill, that's a much more intense effect than changing a bill and changing it back and putting it in your pocket (no repercussions for anyone). 

Again, you can use this Rep to justify something you wanted to do anyway. Want to help someone out financially, but don't want them to feel indebted to you? Well, maybe you try out this Tibetan Blessings ritual you read about. (Perhaps a variation on Blomberg's Konami Code. You shuffle up a series of cards that direct you around your back yard and you dig a hole wherever you land. When you try it, nothing happens. When they try it, they find, buried in the ground, a small ratty bundle of cash. You see how, presented this way, they might still suspect you orchestrated it all, but you can deny it forever so they can never 100% know what really happened. This is a combination of a lot of ideas presented on this site (Imps, buy-ins, engagement ceremonies, Reps, smear technique) all of which demolish traditional "trick" structure. This transforms "magic tricks" into magical moments and experiences.)

I'm not suggesting it's feasible to give away 100s of dollars on a regular basis. But on certain occasions you may want to do something like that. And you can get a similar reactions with smaller investments. Change a $1 to a $5 or $20 and let them keep it. "Yeah, sure. You can have it. I mean, I wouldn't take it to the bank... that might get you in trouble. But you can spend it at a store or a fast food place or something. I can almost guarantee they won't find anything weird about it."  You may find it's worth $4 or $19 to mess with people like that.

Mental Repercussions: Perhaps mind reading and other mental feats aren't a zero sum game. Maybe there are repercussions for taxing your mind in that way. Perhaps it manifests as a very subtle, low-level dementia or amnesia throughout the night. Maybe you just keep forgetting your friend's name. Or some kind of aphasia where you start using the wrong words. You warn the people you're with that this can happen and not to freak out. And perhaps it doesn't even happen, perhaps just the expectation of this Rep is enough to extend the experience of the effect.

If someone was performing a demonstration of great physical strength, we would expect him to be worn down and in recovery for some period afterwards. The idea that a mental demonstration might slow you down mentally to some degree afterwards is perfectly understandable. 

Environmental Repercussions: I haven't played with these much yet, but I definitely think about them. An environmental Rep would be any sort of thing that doesn't affect you or your participant, but it affects the world around you. Maybe you summon a spirit and then afterwards  a bunch of mirrors in that room are cracked, or your dog refuses to go in the room, or the flowers on the table are dead. These are things that aren't done as part of the trick, they're just noticed sometime after. So you have some leeway methodologically.

Maybe when something is restored something else in room has to break (to balance the energy in the world). Similarly, maybe restoring order to a mixed-up deck requires there to be a minor explosion of entropy in some other area of the house. 

I have a friend who wants to do a Telekinetic Timber effect where everyone in the room concentrates and causes a block of wood to tip over. And then moments later the repercussion of all this concentrated energy is a hyper-localized earthquake, shaking the house. We have no idea how this could be accomplished (other than maybe doing it in a trailer-house or something and having people outside literally shake the trailer around). While we may never come up with a workable method for this, it's the sort of thing where thinking big usually generates more interesting ideas than thinking "workable."

With Imps and Reps we are essentially fleshing out the story of a trick's cause and effect. This may seem like mere ornamentation for a trick, but what I've found, and what other people I know who are exploring similar ideas have found, is that it's these things that spectators remember. So I don't think these things are inconsequential. In fact it's pretty clear to me that the actual mechanics of an effect are somewhat irrelevant once you get past the level of basic deceptiveness. What people remember aren't all the trick details. They remember being creeped out by going to the cemetery to see something strange, or how you were slurring your words after the mind-reading demonstration, or the peculiarity of following some weird instructions you found in faded pencil in the back of this old book you bought at a garage sale. Of course, having a strong trick is important to justify all this extra stuff. But it's the extra stuff that stays with people the most.

I've never had someone come up to me two years later and say, "Aw man, you know what trick I remember? The one where you made four piles and you placed the ace of clubs on the bottom of one pile and it rose to the top. Then you placed the ace of diamonds on the top of the next pile and it sank to the bottom. Then you placed the ace of hearts on the third pile and it reversed itself. Then you shuffled the ace of diamonds into the fourth pile and found it by spelling to it. That really affected me deeply. It reminded me of the times my grandpa would make four piles and place the ace of clubs on the bottom of one pile and make it rise to the top. Then he'd place the ace of diamonds on the top of the next pile and it would sink to the bottom. Then he'd place the ace of hearts on the third pile and it would reverse itself. Then he'd shuffle the ace of diamonds into the fourth pile and find it by spelling to it."

Coming in JAMM #6

First off, next week is my summer break from this site. Regular posting will start again on July 10th. 

During that time JAMM #6 will come out and it features two effects that have moments that are as strong as anything in magic. Not hyperbole.

The first trick is called Panther Across the Sky. This comes from myself and Tomas Blomberg. There was this trick that was out there and I'd seen mentioned in a couple different places, and it sounded phenomenal. But when I would describe the effect to people they would get very close to guessing the method. They didn't have the exact method, but they had something pretty close, and if they were to research the method they guessed, it would lead them to the reality behind what happened. I'm being vague here, I know. Tomas came to me with a different way to get into the effect which I tweaked a little as well and it now makes the effect absolutely impenetrable. On top of that, I'm going to give you two different presentations for it. One is a kind of benevolent, hopeful presentation. The other is the biggest mindfuck in all of magic history. Again, not hyperbole.

I'm going to ask you when you read it to really try and put yourself in the position of the spectator and imagine this unfolding in front of you and how much it would genuinely shake your understanding of reality.

See... you still think I'm exaggerating. You'll find out I'm not. I had to expose the trick the last time I performed it because my friend was so rocked by it. I could tell she was flipping out and I was like, "Oh, it's okay. It's okay. Really. It's just a trick." I promised and swore to her that it wasn't real. "That cannot be a trick," she said. "It's literally impossible for that to be a trick." And I could not get her to settle down, even after slapping her repeatedly like in old movies. No... I didn't really do that, but she was genuinely flipped out to the point where I had to tell her every detail of how it was done to keep her emotionally stable.

Yes, quite a build up, I know. You'll see in JAMM #6 coming the sixth of July to subscribers.

Gardyloo #27

Hahaha eat shit, bitches!

Sorry, I don't win awards very often. I'm not sure what the proper reaction is. 

I recently received this in recognition of The Jerx, Volume One winning the magic book of the year award for 2016. I want to thank those that voted for me (but please, don't ever do it again) and Jamie D. Grant for creating and sending me this fine award. You can read more about what he does here. I'm not 100% clear on the concept, but it seems like he sells decks of Bicycle cards, but to make sure they don't get banged up during transit he inserts them into a glass bottle for protection. So when you get it, all you need to do is shatter the glass bottle and you're good to go. 

Thanks again to Jamie and everyone else.


Here's an interesting variation of a Tomas Blomberg concept (which I've built upon in the past as well). It's the Konami Code effect, but instead of using a grid of people (or other items) you're using a people sitting around a table. It could be a little less fooling because you're essentially moving along a line so it's happening in one-dimension rather than two. But, on the plus side, it allows you to do the effect with people as the objects and I'm much more likely to find myself around a table than I am in front of a grid of people. 

They don't give all the details but if you're interested you should probably be able to figure it out. Or reach out to them, they might be willing to help.

In fact... this is giving me an idea...

What did we learn from the Lion King? Yes...yes...the circle of life. I was inspired by Tomas' principle. The guys at this blog were inspired by my work on the effect. I, in turn, have just had an idea to evolve their idea. I will try it out and let you know how it goes.


One other thing I learned from the Lion King when I saw it in the theater and I started laughing when Mufasa dies—the lady in front of me turned around and shushed me and said, "The Lion King is not a comedy!"


Háadish Yah Anída'aldah Góne

Here's an idea for OOTW that I haven't tried, but I think it would work pretty well. You have a stack of language flashcards. Not something like French or Spanish, but some more exotic language like Navajo or Icelandic (which are more exotic assuming you're not Icelandic or Navajo). Let's assume you're performing for your wife or girlfriend. You have her separate the stack of cards into two piles. Ones that give her a "positive vibe" and ones that give her a "negative vibe." ("But don't worry too much about that," you say, "just try to keep the piles relatively even.") 

She separates the cards (Navajo side up) and you say, "I have a bit of a confession to make. For the past four months I've set an alarm on my phone for 3:30 AM and I've gotten up and whispered Navajo language lessons in your ear. Just like 15-20 minutes a night. I just wanted to see what you could pick up on. This is the positive pile, right? And this in the negative one..."

You turn over the positive pile and she sees the English translations are all things like: happiness, sunshine, puppies, love.

You turn over the negative pile and all those words translate into things like: war, famine, death, Magic Cafe, rape. 

"Hmmm...," you say, "interesting...."

Eight hours later, in the middle of the night, she wakes up to you whispering this article from Redbook with 24 tips for better oral sex into her ear.

Horn Tooting

Here are some nice things people have had to say about this site/The JAMM recently.



Andy, your idea for the black noise/card station imp is superb.  We have been conducting research in my classes over the last month or so, and I told the students that I was looking into "fringe" brain studies.  Throughout our research time, I have been showing students some of the "experiments" I found in my research (the transgressive disney anagram was strong), and today I showed them the black noise experiment.  The students flipped their shit, and I played along, pretending to be completely freaked out.  Your willingness to always think outside of the box, and your willingness to share that thinking is making an enormous difference in the way I present magic.  Thanks.

--Reader J.R. via email.



I originally overlooked A Firm Background in Remembering from JAMM #2 when I first read it, but on re-reading it recently I decided to try it out. Holy shit did it get a way better reaction than I expected! This is the first coin change I've performed that really felt like a coin actually somehow changed and wasn't just replaced with a different coin. It's now my go-to impromptu effect. Thanks!

-- Reader C.F. via email


Jack Shalom's comments on this site on his blog.

He brings up something that I actually am genuinely proud of—that this site, the magazine, the books, and everything always appear on the schedule I say they will. I don't think anyone who has been a supporter of this site has any fear that I'm ever not going to deliver on what I promise. They can have faith in that for two reasons. First, I'm not a shithead—I realize failing to follow thru on your obligations became almost customary in magic. "What's that? You're going to put out a quarterly magazine? Okay, so I should expect the first issue soon. Issue 2 six months from now. Issue 3 in two years. And issue 4 never. Got it." How Jeff Busby went 30 years without someone knocking his teeth in just goes to show how seemingly accepted it became to bail on your commitments.

The second—and main—reason I can be so consistent is because of your support. Your support allows me to set aside the time needed every month to write this site and The JAMM. And I treat this site like I do any other freelance work I have. (It just pays a lot less.) 

So if you like this site, you can do your part by subscribing to The JAMM.

Jonathan Royle vs The Magic Circle

[NOTE: The dispute this post refers to may be over. I don't know. The blog post it references has been deleted. You might say, Andy, why are you posting this if the issue has passed? Well... because I had already written the post and it's not like I was actually trying to make some incisive commentary on the situation. I was just goofing around. (If you think I genuinely give a shit about any of your meaningless magic feuds, you're out of your mind. I don't even give a shit about the ones that involve me.)]

It's been a while since I've posted about a good magic feud. It's not because these things aren't happening, but I don't have a facebook account and I rarely go on the message boards so I miss out on them. Thankfully, reader MK, clued me in to this one. 

And what's nice about it is that one of the people involved in the dispute had a webpage devoted to it written in the style of internet ad copy circa 2002. It asked the timeless question that's on everybody's mind:

I don't want to spoil it for you, but the answer to the question (from this guy's perspective) is that yes, it was due to Paul Zenon (and others) Defamatory Comments & Lies.

If you have a job or a life you undoubtedly don't have time to read that full webpage, so I'll summarize it. The Magic Circle asked this guy Jonathan Royle to do a lecture for them. Apparently enough people complained about it or expressed a concern about it due to real or perceived issues with his character that the Magic Circle cancelled the lecture. So this guy wanted a few hundred bucks back that he had already spent for travel and accommodations. And the Magic Circle gave him the money back. Problem solved, yes? Well, apparently not because he still felt compelled to write up this site and tell his side of the story and I'm happy to pass it along to you.

I should start by saying I know nobody involved in this conflict. I've heard the name Paul Zenon, but, as an American, have never had a chance to see any of his work. 

I don't think I've heard the name Jonathan Royle, but given that he's someone who seems to identify primarily as a hypnotist, I may have heard about him and then immediately forgot him as I tend to do with anything related to hypnotism. Hypnotism holds very little interest for me. The only reason anyone watches it is because they truly believe these people are being compelled to act in a way that they're not inclined to by some mysterious psychological technique. Unlike magic, where knowing it's not real doesn't ruin the show (in fact, I'd say it enhances it), with hypnotism, once an audience member understands the nature of what's happening (that the people acting out are doing so because they are attention whores, are drunk, or feel bullied into it) there's essentially nothing interesting going on. Unless you find people clucking like a chicken or faking orgasms interesting (and, let's be honest, you've seen enough people faking orgasms offstage that it's kind of lost its novelty).

It seems there are three primary issues people have with Royle. The first is Paul Zenon's claim that he stole material. I haven't seen the evidence for this (and it's kind of a boring claim) so I don't have a comment on it.

The second is a conviction he had for... something... I'm not 100% sure. He explains it on this site but it's a very long read and he's not the world's most compelling writer. I will maybe have a chance to tackle it fully sometime when I'm on a long flight (like to Mars or something).

The third—more easily understandable issue—is that there is a lingering backlash regarding this book he wrote...

Apparently he's going to teach you how to get laid 365+ times a year.

This guy

This guy

This guy

Is going to teach you how to get laid. 

You get it, don't you? You don't want to be good looking or have any sense of style if you're releasing a book about using hypnotism to get laid. People will just assume you utilized those attributes to obtain sex and not some secret hypnosis techniques. 

On the other hand, people will believe your success with women is due to mesmerism if you look like this:

When you can say, "Hey, look at me. Do I look like George Clooney? No. I look more like a penis with progeria. And yet I'm still getting laid." Then maybe, just maybe, you can Svengali a woman into bed.

(Hey, speaking of Svengali, here's something I didn't understand from his site. 

What does he mean by the "equivalent" of over 400 Svengali decks? Is a "Svengali Deck" not a constant standard? Did he sell 10,400 individual pairs of short and long cards? Or one 20,000 card deck? What is he suggesting here?)

Now, of course the book is bullshit. This guy hasn't been within 6 feet of a pussy in his entire life, I would guess. And, anyway, his defense of this product now is that the book really isn't about hypnotizing women to have sex with you. That was just a provocative title for the book. In fact, he says, hypnotism doesn't exist (no shit) and it's "[M]erely a Dating advice guide and book of relationship Psychology... The book mainly concentrates on helping people to develop more self-confidence and to take more positive actions in the dating game." See? It was merely a book designed to appeal to sexual predators, not actually help them.

So whose side am I on in all this? Well, nobody's, really. To me this worked out like it should have. The Magic Circle booked him, they got complaints from enough people that they decided to cancel the event, they reimbursed him for the expenses he accrued. That should be the end of it. At this point, Royle isn't trying to remedy any wrong, he's just trying to use this as a marketing opportunity. And I have no problem with that. I have affection for that type of schemer.

That's not to say I don't feel bad for anyone in this situation, I do. But it's not any of the parties above. You know who I feel bad for? The poor rapists who bought Jonathan Royle's sex hypnotism book! Can you imagine? You buy that book and you're like, "Finally, I'll get to coerce women into having sex with me without having to beat them about the head with my fists." And then you get the book and crack it open. You're expecting to find all these secrets of mind control so you can FINALLY rape someone in peace, without constantly worrying about your eyes getting scratched out or her biting down on your cock. And then what do you get? A book about saying affirmations in the mirror before you go out and how long you should wait to call her after the first date? What the fuck!!!!????? How are you going to rape someone with that information!? Well, you're not, quite frankly. Let that be an important lesson to you. There are no rape shortcuts. It takes a lot of hard work and a little elbow grease.

Smearing the Queer

I had planned to talk about a concept I call "Reps" today, but that will wait until next week, probably Monday, because I want to build on Wednesday's post with an example from an early post in this blog's history. This concept of smearing the magic into their life is something that is interesting me a lot lately. And I think it's something that may come off as either too abstract or too obvious to some people, and I don't think it's either of those things, so I don't want to move onto other things just yet. 

I feel like I'm coming to this backwards, in a way. I've been creating material with these elements for a while now—and recognizing these elements in the work of other people—but it wasn't until recently that I've really begun to be able to break it down conceptually.

The Smear Technique is something that you can really only employ in non-professional performing situations. If you're performing in a theater or in a club then your "performance" has a beginning and an end that is clear to everyone watching. While you certainly want to perform magic that stays with people, that's not what I mean when I talk about smearing the magic into their lives.

So, let's look at an actual example.

Effect: I turn over the top card of the deck, it's the Ace of Spades. I turn it face down, snap my fingers, and it changes into the Ace of Hearts.

That was the trick I started with. Now, if you haven't read it yet, or haven't read it in a while, go read Multiple Universe Selection.

That trick started with me wanting to do the strongest card change I could. How do we make a card change stronger? I think traditionally you would say that it should be more visual, done away from the deck, maybe faster, things like this. But all of those concerns are adjustments to the effect only. They only change what goes on in that original black box from Wednesday's post.

What I've found is that the difference in reactions that are generated by messing around within that black box are minimal. If you have, for example, a Collector's routine that fools people already, working on another Collector's routine that you think will fool people a little more is almost always a poor investment of time. But changing things in a way that affects the edges of the black box can have a profound effect. The difference in reaction you get with a normal card change and with the Multiple Universe Selection is hardly even comparable. It's the difference between a peck on the cheek and getting fucked on the beach in front of everyone at your family reunion. It's a completely different experience. And that's before the denouement happens days later. I'm just talking about the card change itself, even though that change is less visual, slower, and generally veers away from what we think a card change should be.

Let's look at some of the ways we smear the effect out from the black box in Multiple Universe Selection.

The Imp - The card doesn't change from the snap of a finger, the card changes based on a visualization process (a visualization process that rockets you into a parallel universe). This is a process that you are introducing that isn't really about the "effect" at all. It's the impetus that generates the effect, but it has nothing to do with playing cards. And you tell them this is a visualization process they can use in their life outside of this moment. So this smears the beginning of the effect, blurring where it begins and has the potential to carry on past the end of the effect. 

The Buy-In - There is a "time buy-in" to this effect. "Come with me and let's go drop a letter in the mailbox." This requires an expenditure of energy on the part of the person you're performing for. Buy-Ins are almost always part of the smearing the effect and this one is a clear example of that. Mailing the letter isn't part of the trick (at least not part of the trick that happens that night) and it's not even part of the Impetus for the effect. It's just an activity that you are having them partake in to broaden the experience. This smears the effect vertically. It gives the effect a greater depth. And sets us up for something that will smear the effect well past the end of the card transposition.

The Coda - There is something of a twist ending that happens with this effect a couple days later. This is a literal re-emerging of the effect itself. It lays their dormant for a few days, like the herpes virus, and then your spectator is thrust back into the effect. It's an interesting moment. This is not, obviously, a trick I've performed hundreds of times, but I have performed it a handful of times, and when they get that letter it always generates a dumbfounded text or phone call from them. But the reaction is somewhat different than you might expect it to be. It's not about how they got that letter and what happened to the other one (which would be the rational response) instead they just seem thrilled that the effect echoed in their life again. It's a "Magical" moment, not a magic trick.

Think back to the card trick in its original form. Imagine yourself as the spectator. I take a card and change it into another card. This is an isolated event, disconnected from your life, and the world. It's just... neat. "Oh wow! Crazy.... So... should we order breadsticks too? Or is that too much carbs considering we're already getting pizza." Like, you have so little to grasp onto that you almost have to move on with your thinking. Most magic is designed to be a temporary amusement. And temporary amusements are great. So are pecks on the cheek. But sometimes you want to give people a more intense experience.

So how does Multiple Universe Selection take the same basic trick but make it mean something else? It's not the presentation, per se. If I change the presentation, but stay within the original box, the experience doesn't change and doesn't get any stronger. If I say, "Look, I turned over the Ace of Spades. When I snap my fingers, we'll jump to another universe in which this card is the Ace of Hearts" <SNAP> That's not going to mean anything to anyone even though the presentation is different.

It's only when you smear that presentation into their world that you change the nature of the trick into something formless and less definable. The blurred edges prevent them from knowing exactly when the trick started and ended. What they can dismiss as "just a trick" gets muddled. And when a trick gets enmeshed with someone's real life, that's when it becomes their experience as opposed to just your trick.

Multiple Universe Selection is obviously an extreme example of these techniques. I'm not suggesting this is a presentation you can pull off frequently, or would necessarily even want to. The more immersive an effect is, the more likely I am to want to save it for special people and special occasions. But I do think it serves as a good example of the "smearing" I mentioned in Wednesday's post. And I believe you can incorporate some of these ideas in the material you perform regularly on a smaller scale. More to come on that.