Thinking Big and Small

If you could do any trick in the world, what would it be? Put aside the method for a moment. Just think of what would be the best trick that doesn't yet exist. 

For those of you who have ordered the book you're going to read about the greatest trick ever performed. It's the epilogue to the book, and I say it's the greatest trick ever performed without any hyperbole or my usual faux-pomposity (that's based on genuine pomposity) at all. It's legitimately the best magic trick ever performed. And it all started a year ago today with this post. I didn't end up following the timetable I had originally planned but it ended up working out better than I hoped.

But let's drop that for now and get back to the question... what's an effect you would do if you could do anything?

I had an idea for a trick where a spectator would think of someone, living or dead, who they were not on good terms with, but they wished they were (or had been). They would carve that person's name on a log and that log would be tossed on a fire in the fireplace. As the log burned, a teakettle with water in it would be placed over the fire until the water was hot, but not boiling. As the water heated up, they could choose to tell me about this person or not.

When the water was hot I'd take it off the fire and let it cool a moment. I'd also bring out a wine glass and a sharpie and have my spectator draw a line anywhere she wanted, horizontally, on the wine glass. Then I'd pour the water into the wine glass to the rim. I'd have my spectator take a sip and then I'd have her make the wine glass sing (or if she didn't know how, I'd do it for her).

I'd have her drink a little more water and then make the glass sing again. And I'd have her note how the pitch changed. 

Then I'd have her drink down to the line she had marked on the glass. And, again, make her glass sing. This time the squeal of the glass would swell and transform into the voice of the person whose name she carved into the log. The voice would say, "I love you," or "I miss you," or "I forgive you," or whatever was appropriate.

Another trick I'd like to do is give my spectator a hand mirror and ask her to look into it and identify something on her face that she considers a flaw. 

Then I'd say, "I will make that flaw disappear."

Then I'd hand her a pair of plastic vampire teeth and have her put them in her mouth.

When she looks in the mirror again, the flaw is gone. Everything is gone. Like all vampires she no longer casts a reflection.

I'd like to do a version of the bill switch where the bill changes into a statement from their bank or creditor saying that their largest loan or credit card has been paid off. And when they check their account online they find it's true.

I have a friend who actually performed this once. He's not a magician but I taught him the bill switch so he could do it. He paid off his girlfriend's $22,000 in student loans. Not a huge amount compared to what other people have to pay in student loans, but still a significant amount, and an amount that she felt was overwhelming. Neither of them were well off. He raised the money by selling a bunch of his possessions, including his motorcycle, and working a part-time job at night without her knowing for almost 6 months (she, too, worked at night and assumed he was home sleeping). 

At a small gathering for her birthday he told her he couldn't afford to get her a real present so he learned a magic trick for her instead. He borrowed a dollar from her and asked what she'd like him to turn it into. She said she wanted him to turn it into a $100 bill. He folded the bill and unfolded it revealing a statement from her student loan provider saying the loan was paid off.

Later that night he proposed to her with a $200 ring with a tiny sliver of diamond. It was some good magic.

My ideal trick would be to do the bill change to loan payment statement, but to be able to do it impromptu for a stranger.

I'm thinking about this because recently the question was asked on the Cafe what the greatest trick was that hadn't been invented yet.

And, in a hilariously typical example of magician creativity, do you know what the answers are up the point of this writing?

  • You predict a playing card the spectator names.
  • You make a coin disappear.
  • Any Card at Any Number

(Oh, and one dude wants to throw a pitcher of water in the air and have the water stop in mid air. I give him credit for at least naming something that doesn't exist yet, but that still seems to be thinking kind of small and arbitrary. I think it would be much cooler to pull out your dong, point it to the heavens, unleash a blast of urine and have it freeze in mid arc. Claim it's part of some sick fetish where you love getting peed on, but not with someone else's urine. Ew gross. What are you, some kind of animal? So you just do this. Freeze the stream. Go lay under it. Unfreeze it.)

I think it's telling that when given complete creative freedom to come up with a trick, what we have is three standard magic effects. That was the best they could do. Oh, they put some constraints on the effects to make them impossible, but they still just chose dumb, boring magic tricks when they could have said anything. 

It would be like if I said you could design your ideal sex robot. She would look and feel exactly like a real woman. Someone famous, or your high school girlfriend, or whatever you want. And you said, "Oh wow... anyone? Hmmm. Like a celebrity? Anyone at all? Could I take one woman's face and put it on another's body? I can? Completely mix and match however I want? Or just create a dream girl from my imagination? However I want to do it? Hmmm... okay... think think think.... Oh! I know what I want her to look like! My wife in her prettiest dress." It's like, come on, dude, you can barely tolerate that slob of a wife.

The argument will be that they were trying to come up with realistic tricks that hadn't been invented yet. But that's not what was going on. They were coming up with magician-centric tricks that hadn't been invented yet. You can tell this because they're naming constraints that only a magician would put that much weight on. The difference between a normal ACAAN, and the one described in that thread is marginal at best and would get only a slightly better reaction. The coin vanish described would be on par with using a Raven. Hell, with a Raven they see it vanish. And the card trick described (spec names a card, it's the one on their hand) is something we can get very close to 1000 different ways. That's the "greatest" trick that hasn't been invented yet? Hell, there are a couple dozen effects on this blog that will get a significantly better reaction than that.

Magic doesn't need us to come up with some more rational and reasonable ideas for effects. We've got plenty. I'm not saying the guys in that thread are uncreative, but magic has a tendency to have you thinking along certain lines. (I mean, at the very least, isn't it a better trick if you put a baseball card in someone's hand and it turns out to to be whatever player from history they're thinking of?)

You might say the ideas I mention at the top of this post aren't possible and that's true enough, but it doesn't mean they're fruitless to think about. All those ideas have lead to other effects that are doable.

It's in its early stages but I have a very rough version of an effect where a wine glass plays a mentally selected song, and it started with me thinking about the effect mentioned at the top.

Working on the vampire effect led directly to the idea behind the Jerx App which the book buyers are getting, and the effects possible with that thing are insane. With the functionality that will be added to the Jerx app upon the release of the book you will have the ability to:

  • have concrete evidence that you were able to hypnotize someone or cause selective amnesia in them
  • press on someone's head in such a way that their reading comprehension goes to a 2nd grade level
  • convince people you've implanted false memories in their head
  • have spectators read each other's minds and not know how they did it
  • have one spectator unknowingly instant stooge another spectator without the second one ever realizing he's been stooged or the first one ever realizing they played a part in the stooging (wrap your head around that)

And all this came out of trying to come up with a way for a spectator not to see their reflection.

If you're a creative type, please think big. For my sake. I don't have a Jerx blog that I get to read. (Well, I have this one, but I had to write the goddamn thing.) I want more cool ideas to read and think about. Come up with crazy shit. Even if you only get 10% of the way there, the idea is bound to be better than a card prediction, or another ACAAN, or another version of that trick where you slide a card through a folded card or dollar. (That effect is covered guys. We got it. Thanks. Let's move on to something else.)