An update about the next testing session in November. We’ve decided that the bulk of our next session is going to look at controls. I think this will be a good companion to the testing on forcing we did last year. As of now, I’m not sure what controls we’ll test, and I’m really not sure how we’re going to test them. By that I mean, I don’t know in what context the focus groups will see the controls and then what the question(s) we will ask will be in order to quantify the strength of a control. We’ve got some time to figure it out.
It’s probably going to have to be something that’s done in a fairly open way. Meaning we’ll probably need to tell people what we’re looking at. Here’s why. If there were only two controls in the world, then we could do a trick for 25 people using one control, and the same trick for 25 different people using the other control. Then we could see if there’s any significant difference in the way the two groups rated the trick. In that way we could hide what we are testing in a trick.
But if we wanted to test 6 different controls that way, we’d either need a lot more people (and a lot more time and money) or each group that saw the trick with a specific control we’re testing would have to be much smaller. And with a smaller group, 1 or 2 outliers can throw things off to the point where the data is meaningless.
So we’ll probably have to say something like, “People often assume a magician can control their card in some way once it’s been returned to the deck. We’re going to have you take a card and return it to the deck in a few different ways and we want you to rate on a scale of 1-100 how fair it seems and how confident you are that the card is truly lost.” Or words to that effect. Now that I think of it, there may end up being no control that makes them feel particularly confident the magician doesn’t know where the card is. We’ll see.
From an email I received from reader E.C.,
“As a full-time pro I feel like I need to establish my expertise with my tools (cards, coins, etc.) early on when I perform. However, I also perform quite a bit socially and I had a chance put what you wrote about in your Inexpert Card Technique post to the test recently. I was performing Chad Long’s Now Look Here at a gathering with some of my brother’s friends. I’ve performed this trick literally 1000s of times as it’s a mainstay in my professional performing repertoire. With that many repetitions I could do the trick in my sleep and my handling of the deck is very ‘smooth.’ I decided for this performance to take a page from your playbook and handle the deck as if I was a neophyte. I’ve always had really good reactions to that trick, but this time they were so far beyond the typical response I get. While I probably won’t incorporate that handling in my professional work, I plan to keep it up in future social performances. I just wanted to chime in with another data point to support your theory.”
This doesn’t surprise me. Now Look Here is a trick where cards are bouncing all around and changing to different cards. If your handling going into the trick is very slick, that gives them a partial explanation for what is happening. But if you handle cards like a normal doofus they have no good explanation for what is going on.
A little over a year ago, I created a fake blog and had it populated with material by friend-of-the site, Joe Mckay. The idea was to use this as a resource so I could plant fake stories in there when I needed them for specific presentational purposes. There are a couple that remain there permanently, like this one which is pretty much perfect justification for the “why do I have to write something down” question relating to mind-reading. And this one which sets the table for the trick at the bottom of this post.
There are also many other potential premises in the real stories that are posted on that site.
A couple people have written to ask why that site isn’t being updated. Well, the answer is that it doesn’t need to be. Any new fake stories I have to add (and I have a few) can be back-dated so they appear in the midst of the run. And the truth is, there is nothing more normal in the world than an abandoned blog.
The only thing more normal is a blog that was abandoned for 8 months, then there’s a post that says “I haven’t forgotten you! Life has been busy with other stuff, but I’m back to regular posting here!” And then there’s nothing after that post in the subsequent two years.
But yeah, as a resource, an abandoned blog is just as good as an active one. And if any supporters of this site want a story planted for something they’re working, they just need to write it up and send it to me.
There’s a site called Cameo where you can get celebrities to record personalized videos for you and your loved ones. And by “celebrities” I mean, like, Bret the Hitman Hart and Chumlee from Pawn Stars.
There’s also a section for Magicians. So if you want Patrick Kun, Morgan Strebler, or Murray Sawchuck to say something to you, well your prayers have been answered.
Morgan Strebler’s page is odd. In one of his promo videos he says he’ll do a trick for you in the videos you purchase, then in the description at the top of his page he says, “I can’t perform magic tricks in the videos. Sorry.” Uh, what? Why would I buy a video from a magician if he can’t do a little magic in the video? What am I paying for then? I can’t jack-off to it (I promise, I tried). So what am I going to do with a video of Morgan not doing a trick?
Murray Sawchuck will actually teach you a trick, as you can see from the example videos on his page. It won’t be a good trick, but it’s something. Perhaps we can pay Murray to do a follow-up to the video where he pretends to do a trick for a homeless guy.
What should we do with Patrick Kun? I feel like we should make a series of video requests, and each one is just slightly more debauched than the last. Like first we’re just getting him to undo his shirt buttons a little more each time. Then we’re like, “You should drink a beer before you shoot the video, loosen yourself up.” And we do, like, 100 video requests. And each one just makes him slightly uncomfortable, but nothing too significant. But by video 100 he’s high on amyl nitrate poppers and engaging in hardcore gay sex on camera. And we’ve got enough footage to make a film! Cut to, 5 years later, he’s sobered up and he’s walking down the street in Greenwich Village and he passes a sex shop and sees a porn DVD in the window with his image on it that he has zero recollection of ever filming. Yeah, let’s do that. It’ll be funny!