Field Report: The Rubik's Cube Trick

One time I was hired to teach improv comedy skills to a "bootcamp" for guys who can't get laid. I had watched the Pickup Artist show on Vh1, so I knew what I was getting into, but in doing some research on this subculture, the true, sad, nature of it really came through. If you think magic is filled with social rejects, just find your way to a pickup artist bootcamp. One thing the leader of this workshop encouraged the guys to do was to write up "field reports" and post them online about how they tried to get women's numbers or get a kiss when they went out that night. I made the suggestion that it's probably hard to think of yourself as a confident, attractive man when you're writing up detailed accounts of how you asked for a phone number or leaned in for a kiss, so it probably does more harm than good.  But what do I know. I also suggested that wearing a top hat and aviator glasses is a desperate, pathetic look but these guys certainly felt different.

I'd like to take the concept of a Field Report and use it in my writing on this site. Not in the "seduction community" sense of the word, but in the sense that there are some tricks I've performed that I think people might find interesting to read about, but that they are unlikely to be able to do because these performances required something specific to me, the people I was with, the place I was performing, etc. Believe it or not, I consider the effects I normally write up to be very practical and doable in the real world. I know a number of people disagree, but that's just because they're used to a very particular style of trick, a style where you take some coins or a deck of cards, and you do something for two minutes, and that's the end of it. And so when they read something that's like, "Oh, this trick takes three days," or, "Mail half a bill 2000 miles away," it seems like I'm fantasticating the things. But I'm not, I'm just advocating for a different style of informal performance.

On the other hand, these Field Reports are likely not applicable to you and your situation. However, there may be something you can take from them. 

The Rubik's Cube Trick

I was standing on stage at an open-mic night in upstate New York last week. I hadn't planned to be on stage. I have no desire to be on stage ever. But the "winner" of the open-mic got $200 and a free dinner and I saw an opportunity. Everyone, everyone, so far had been a singer with an acoustic guitar. "If I do something even mildly interesting that's not some shitty original song, I will win this thing," I said to my friend.

We went out to my car to see what stuff we had on us. I had a change of clothes and a deck of cards and a sharpie. My friend had a Rubik's cube and a paperback book. I eyed the Rubik's cube and came up with an idea.

20 minutes later I'm on stage with the Rubik's cube. I talk about Rubik's solving competitions and how the new rage in the psychic community is try to solve the cube by psychic powers without ever seeing it. (I was pressed for time, I didn't have a great presentation. But I put it in some jokes -- it was okay.) I talked about how some people fake solving a cube blindfolded by just using a see-thru blindfold. These scumbags were tainting the good name of psychics everywhere. Others will pretend to get the cube mixed up but will then switch it for a cube that's mixed in a predetermined order so that they can solve it without looking at it. I would do neither of those things. To prevent switching the cube I had six people in the front row each sign a side of the cube twice, once in an individual square, and once so their signature covered the entire side. I then had them take turns mixing up the cube and passing it down the line to the next person.To prevent using some phony blindfold or some other way for me to peak at the cube, I would solve it with the Rubik's cube behind my back, my back facing stage-left and my face looking at the audience at stage right.

One of the audience members placed the mixed-up cube in my hands which were behind my back. I gave the people who signed it one last look to verify it was the cube with their signatures, all mixed up, without ever looking at it myself. I took a few moments, kind of weighing the cube behind my back as if each of the 43 quintillion possible configurations for the cube had their own unique weight. I had someone time me. As I worked on the cube I told the audience that the record for solving the cube is just a few seconds. The record for solving it while blindfolded is about 25 seconds, but that person got to see the cube before he started. "The record for solving the cube psychically is... well, there is no record," I said, "because no one has ever been able to do it. They could only fake it. If there were to ba record it would probably be... where are we at right now?" I asked the timekeeper. 

"55 seconds," he says.

"About 55 seconds," I say and hold the now solved cube out in front of me. I give it to the front row to verify their signatures. 

The End

Now, this may be a known trick in the Rubik's magic world, but I don't know anything about the Rubik's magic world, so it was a new idea to me. 

How did I do it?

Try to guess. Only one cube is used. There are no switches. The cube is genuinely mixed up by strangers. It's normal and could be borrowed. They see it mixed up in my hands, and then they see it solved. I never see the cube once it's been mixed. I could have been legitimately blindfolded, or, for that matter, legitimately blind. And the fastest I've ever solved the Rubik's cube while looking at it is about three minutes. So how could I do it psychically faster than I could in real life?

The first step is to know that you can fake solving a cube just by repeating the same set of actions over and over from a solved cube. In other words, take a solved cube, and do any sequence of moves, i.e. top side to the right, right side toward you, left side away from you. If you repeat those same actions over and over, eventually the cube will solve itself again, although it will look genuinely jumbled up in the midst of these actions. Different sequences will take different numbers of repetitions, but in the end any sequence, repeated long enough, will bring you back to where you started.

Now, I'm no great Rubik's cube solver, but my friend who was with me is. He's not world class, but he can solve one in about 30 seconds. So, all I did was have the cube signed then have the cube mixed up by members of the audience, making sure it went to my friend last of all. As I was talking he first solved the cube then did four repetitions of a sequence that we knew would solve the cube in 12 repetitions. (Similar to the one seen in this video.) So when he placed the cube in my hands behind my back (which he needed to do with my thumb and forefinger on specific center colors so I could orient it in my hands) I knew I just needed to repeat the simple sequence 8 more times. And now I'm a psychic cube solver. 

If you ever do this trick, you should split the $200 you win and the dinner of stuffed shells with your friend.