Note to Self

Here is a tool that I think some of you might be able to find some interesting uses for. It comes from friend-of-the-site, Michael Kanon, who suggested it to me over email.

The idea is simply this, with an iPhone (and it's possibly true with other types of phones as well) you can record a voice-memo and then add onto it at a later point in time. 

Here are the steps:

  1. Open up the iPhone Voice Memos app
  2. Hit the red button
  3. Say something
  4. Hit the red button again (this pauses the recording).
  5. Hit done.
  6. It will ask you to name it. Just save it as "New Recording."
  7. Tap the recording you just made in your list of recordings.
  8. Hit "Edit"
  9. Scroll to the end of the recording (and past it, it will readjust so you're at the very end) on the... whatever it's called... audio frequency bar thingy.
  10. Now hit the red button again. And say something else. 
  11. Stop the recording by hitting the red button.
  12. Hit Done.

Now when you play that file it plays as one continuous audio recording and you won't hear any edit. (Assuming the conditions of both recordings were as similar as possible: done in the same room (with the same room-tone), the same background noise, with you speaking from the same distance from the mic, etc.)

Okay, so what?

Well, now you can pretend to record something with someone, but only actually record the end of your interaction and have it append to something else entirely. What good is that? Well, I'll start with a dumb idea before we get to a good idea. 

Let's say Joshua Jay comes over my house for some magic sessioning and pesto focaccia. At some point I say, "Josh, this may seem corny, but I find your relationship with your wife very inspiring. I'm putting together a little something for the two of you to commemorate your great love. I want to record something."

I pull out my phone, go to the voice memo section and hit record.

"Josh, be as honest as possible, what are the feelings you get when you look deep in your lovely wife's eyes?"

I tip my phone towards Josh.

"Well," he says, "it's like looking into someone's soul. I feel an intensely strong bond. A spiritual connection. Like I'm seeing the personification of beauty. And yeah, if I'm being honest, I'm probably feeling some pretty intense arousal as well."

I stop the recording.

"That's beautiful," I say. "I hope to have what you guys have one day."

Later that evening, his wife comes by to pick him up (Josh won't go out alone after dark). I give her a hug hello, but it's clear I'm feeling a little awkward and nervous. 

After some pleasantries, I say, "I'm sorry. I can't hold this in any longer. I put sodium pentothal [aka "truth serum"] in your pesto focaccia, Josh. I've just had a bad feeling about this relationship for a long time and I needed to get to the truth. Anna, you have to hear this." I give her my phone and tell her to play the recording from earlier that night. She hits play and hears:

"Josh, be as honest as possible, what are the feelings you get when you look deep into Andi Gladwin's delicious butthole?"

"Well," Josh says, "it's like looking into someone's soul. I feel an intensely strong bond. A spiritual connection. Like I'm seeing the personification of beauty. And yeah, if I'm being honest, I'm probably feeling some pretty intense arousal as well."

She slaps Josh across the face. He starts crying. She grasps onto me. Starts blubbering something about needing "a real man." Her and Josh get divorced. Her and I get married. The End.

Okay, so in that instance I just record the Gladwin part first. Then when Josh arrives I open the app, get the file open and scroll to the end. Pretend to hit record for the first part of the recording, and then actually (secretly) hit record when I tip the phone to Josh for his input. Click done and everything is stitched together as one file.

[In Michael's original email to me, he says, "I keep the screen kinda towards me while I'm 'recording', but all I actually do is mute the phone (using the icon on the top right of the screen) and press play. So even if someone gets a glimpse at the screen it would look like I'm recording." This could be a nice convincer, but it's probably not necessary. I would just keep the screen towards myself the whole time.]

Okay, so you can use this to break up Joshua Jay's marriage—and that's a noble goal—but does it have any actual magic value?

Sure. Essentially it's a tool that can be used to get someone to confirm something that never actually happened. 

For example, let's blow this up into a big Derren Brown-esque, mind-blower. 

Your friend comes by. You force the 2 of hearts on her. As you gesture for her to grab and uncap a Sharpie, you top change it for the 5 of spades. You have her sign the back of the card and place it under her hand. 

You say, "I'm going to record the details of what has happened so far so we can reference it later if we need to."

You turn on your phone, open up the voice memo section, and say, "Sophie came over. I spread a deck of cards on the table. She freely chose one card. It was the 2 of hearts. She signed the back and now it's under her hand. Is that all correct, Sophie?"

She leans into the phone and acknowledges that's all accurate. 

You stop the recording. You ask her to keep her hand on the card, close her eyes and picture herself coming into your house, as she did just minutes ago. You ask her to be open to all sensory stimuli and really try and make the scene as vivid as possible. 

When this is over you ask her to open her eyes and tell you what card she selected. 

"The 2 of hearts," she says.

"Are you sure? You really feel it was the 2 of hearts?"

She says, "Yes."

"I'm going to tell you what really happened," you say. "You came over here, you selected a card. It was the five of spades, you signed it, and it's been under your hand since then. Take a look."

She does and finds the 5 of spades. However she's still adamant she picked the 2 of hearts.

"You didn't. Your brain tricked itself. You don't have to believe me. We have you confirming it earlier."

You give her the phone and she plays the voice memo where she confirms she picked and signed the five of spades. 

You tell her you'll explain what happened and you point out all sorts of imagery around the house that have two hearts subtly or overtly displayed in them, you show her how the vacuum cord is laying on the floor in the rough shape of two hearts, you show her the last text you sent with the emoji with hearts for eyes, etc. etc. She absorbed all of this subconsciously, you say, and that imagery replaced the image of the card she actually took.

"Wait...," she says, "that's why you were playing that shitty Phil Collins song when I came over!"

The End.

You can figure out the details from everything I've written if you're so inclined. I haven't performed this myself. (I use the Jerx App for this type of effect. I think because it offers video proof, and it's on the spectator's phone, it's significantly more convincing.) But I do think it's structurally a pretty sound effect. 

One thing to keep in mind is that you don't need to make the transition (the moment you actually hit record) happen right before they start speaking. It can happen at any point between sentences. So you could speak (set up the false reality), secretly hit record [transition point] continue to speak, maybe even set the phone down. (With the screen down or the screen off, because, when editing, the recording is red, not white. Most people won't know that, but it's just a consideration.)

If you come up with any unique ways of using this technique, let me know.

Thanks again to Michael Kanon for sending the idea along.

And before I go, here's one final way of using it that I have used. I'm hiding it here at the end because it's really good.

When I perform the In Search of Lost Time presentation for the invisible deck, I can make an audio recording of the hypnotic induction the person sits through. I can send it to their phone when the trick is over "if you're curious, and just so you know nothing weird went down while you were under." So now, not only do they have the magic trick as "proof" of this chunk of lost time, but they can also listen to the 10 minute induction—which seemed to pass by in just seconds—and hear themselves being awoken at the end, seemingly proving that what you're suggesting happened really did happen.

(If you're going to do this effect, at least take their mind out for dinner and dancing before fucking it like this.)