Gardyloo #7

Speaking of looping around like a möbius strip, this is a pretty clever way to start a blog post.

So, I think I've settled on a title for the book. It's going to be The Jerx Vol. 1. I just like the implied threat in that title. 

Speaking of the book, I was just doing the rewrite and update for the trick, The Passion of Donny Ackerman, where you supposedly stop time in order to read the contents of a billet, make a sandwich, and check out your spectator's rack. I think a new release that could be added to that effect is Thought Jump by Patrick Redford. In this instance I would remove the visual aspect of that effect. So you place a billet -- that has a clearly marked top and bottom side-- top-side up under an opaque cup and the spectator puts her hand on top. You go through the effect, the spectator feels a tingle on her hand and when she lifts the cup the billet is now turned over. The implication being that you stopped time, lifted the cup, read the billet, and put it back down the other side up.

I probably won't add this to the effect myself, because I'm pretty happy with it as it stands now. But I do think it's worthwhile to consider what visual effects might also be good by removing the visual element. In other words, just show them where things start and where things end up. Remove the visual step and let their imagination fill in the gap. I'm not saying it's always better that way, but sometimes it is. This is how I almost always do a haunted deck effect (as described here) and I think it gets better reactions. Well... maybe not better, but different. I think it's more mysterious. If I showed you a deck of cards I could set on the table and it would unfold itself and flip and flop its way into the shape of a card castle, that would be a pretty great trick to see.

But it would also be great to not see. If it's the two of us alone in a room and we set the deck of cards on the table and then turned our backs to it and then turned back a minute later and there was a card castle there, that might even feel more magical. 

I'm not saying "visual" effects aren't good. In most cases they're preferable. But with some effects I think it's madness not to at least consider leaving the visuals to the spectator's imagination.

Speaking of madness, it's March Madness here in the U.S., the 68 team college basketball tournament. If you'd like to predict the winner for one of the games, I have a pretty good option. Joe Mckay alerted me to a method for predicting the winner of the Super Bowl (but it can be used for any sporting event). It's a Richard Himber effect that's in Karl Fulves' Big Book of Magic Tricks. Go here and enter "super bowl" in the search field on the left then click the preview with the heading that says "How to Predict the Super Bowl." 

It's a clever method. Unfortunately, if you've ever done something like this where you predict a binary sort of thing like the winner of a game, you'll find that people are somewhat underwhelmed. I mean, a random guess will be right 50% of the time and an educated guess should be right considerably more often. So, big deal, right? I mean, it would almost be more fun to show them the method than take credit for guessing one out of two. But there are two ways you can make this much more impressive.

Method 1: If you're at a gathering with a bunch of people you can bet everyone in the place that you've predicted the game and give them 10 to 1 odds. So if they bet $20 they could win $200 in return. And you make bets with everyone there. At certain parties or bars/pubs, this type of thing would go over extremely well. And when it comes to the revelation and you have a chance of making like $500 or losing $5000, that will be an exciting, tense, satisfying moment, even though it is still only a 1 in 2 shot.

Method 2: On the back of your prediction you're going to set up the same dual prediction. So it looks like this.

When the event is over you will reveal your prediction of the winner. After you do you will now echo what the spectator is thinking. "Of course," you say, "that might not be the most impressive thing in the world. It's a 1 in 2 guess. That's why I predicted the score too." And you turn the card around to show the score which you've nail-written in on both sides of the dash as you discuss the lackluster-ness of just predicting the winner. Yes, you lose the ability of just handing the prediction to someone to remove, but you get a much more impressive effect that is methodologically and narratively sound. You can immediately pull out a correct prediction (which takes the heat off the nail-writing moment, because they don't know more is to come) and follow it up with an even stronger correct prediction. The second prediction seems to anticipate their potential underwhelm with the first, and because it's all filled in except the score you can complete the two-sided prediction with minimal monkeying around.

Speaking of monkeying around, this Vine video was pretty popular last week. 

While his* reaction is great, it's his initial look that I find the funniest. We've probably all tried to show people a trick and received this kind of reception as we were getting into it.

I think sometimes non-professional (and probably professionals too) get unnerved by skeptical spectators, but I don't mind a skeptical audience. Many times they are a shitty backpalm away from having a monkey-style freakout. As long as they're bringing some kind of energy, good or bad, to the experience, you can usually get a strong reaction from them. It's the indifferent people that are truly a bummer to perform for, and I genuinely avoid them altogether.

* I don't know why I said "his" reaction. I have no clue if this monkey is male or not.

Speaking of "male or not," is the US mail the best way to send stuff internationally or not? If you have experience shipping stuff internationally from the US let me know any tips you might have. I was pricing shipping options for my book and it was like, "Oh, if you want to do priority mail for a book of this size to Australia it will be $70." I suppose 1st class international is a more reasonable option, but it can take up to a few weeks. I just want to know if there's some option I haven't considered. I don't want a bunch of angry international readers who had to wait because their book was on the slow boat and then they take it out on me -- find me at a convention and beat the shit out of me, twist my body and shove my head up my ass until I'm looped around like a möbius strip.