Ugghhhhh... Sorry guys. I'm just not feeling up for this today. As magic's last best hope, I just put so much work into trying to elevate the art of magic and then I get some news like I got today.
I guess I need to set the stage a little. You all remember Dan Harlan's trick Card-Toon. A brilliant gimmicked deck where a stickman magician drawn on the back of the cards is riffled like a flip book and he pulls a freely named card out of his hat. A fun trick. And more importantly a trick for nice, good boys like me to perform for my grandma or my pastor, no problemo.
Then, a few years later, Fart-Toon comes out. Fart-Toon, a collaboration between Harlan and Scott Alexander, had the magician on the back of the card eat something and then fart out the name of the selected card.
See the video below (NSFW)
So we had this perfectly good card trick that was ruined because this new version makes us contemplate the nature of the stick figure's beautiful butthole and the feces laden air he shoots out of it to form the name of the card instead of concentrating on the trick itself. And the whole point of stick figures in the first place was to have representational images of people without the naughty parts so we wouldn't be distracted by our boners when looking at art. (This is art history 101) And now this guy has a butt we have to concern ourselves with?
But I bit my tongue at the time that effect came out. If Dan Harlan wants to sully his own creation by turning it into a paean to the old grundle rumble, have at it.
What's got me so flustered is that I just received a very unsettling fax yesterday. First I was unsettled because I forgot I had a fax machine. Then I was doubly-unsettled by the contents of said fax.
Apparently Fart-Toon was such a successful reworking of Card-Toon that Hermetic Press is putting out a 3-Volume Set by Dan Harlan and Scott Alexander where they will be attempting to redo all the classics of card magic with an anal audio theme. According to the fax, The Royal Road to Fart Magic will contain the following routines.
- 21 Fart Trick
- Three Fart Monte
- Six Fart Repeat
- Soldier's Prayer Book (of farts)
- Think of a Fart
- Princess Fart Trick
- Piano Fart Trick
- Ambitious Fart
- Cannibal Farts
- Fart on the Ceiling (or Wall)
- Fart Stab
- Fart Warp
- Farts Across
- Fart to Pocket
- Rising Fart
- Color Changing Fart
- Diminishing Farts
- Homing Fart
- Fart thru Window
- Torn and Restored Fart
- Floating Match on Fart
- Fart in Wine Glass
- Fart thru Table
- Fart on Forehead
- Anniversary Sharts
- Fart thru Handkerchief
- Fart to Mouth
And then a section on tricks with "business farts," whatever that means.
And that's just volume one.
Well, Dan, Scott, Hermetic Press... I hope it's worth it. I hope your love of the almighty dollar is worth the stain you're leaving on the art of magic. The stinky brown stain.
I'm in NYC at the moment, finishing up some of the focus-group testing I mentioned in January, although the weather here has thrown off some of our plans.
When I mentioned we were going to try and look at different discrepancies in card effects to see how often they were noticed or not noticed, a few different people wrote me suggesting we test out the Flushtration count. Actually, the sentiment behind each email that mentioned it was, "You should test the Flushtration Count because it sucks shit and there's no way it fools anyone."
Well, we aren't testing the Flushtration Count during this session of tests, but that's primarily because we tested it many years ago. I don't have the specifics of the testing (how many people, etc.) and the actual statistical breakdown—if it still exists—is packed away somewhere, but I do remember the general results. The count wasn't tested on its own, but as part of a larger effect where people were asked to indicate any time they thought something questionable occurred during the course of an effect.
I can't remember precisely how we were asking people to note their suspicions at this point in the history of our testing. Over the course of the years we've had people ding a bell, press a button that turned on a light, use an app, make a mark on a piece of paper, and a couple other ways that I'm forgetting. One thing you quickly learn when you ask people to register their suspicion in some way is that some people are absolutely useless because they indicate suspicion about every damn thing that happens. The magician takes the cards out of the box. Ding! Suspicious. The magician spreads the cards on the table. Ding! Suspicious. We've looked for ways to weed out these people in later years, but I remember that being a big issue when we first started.
Here's the part some of you might find interesting. From what I remember, outside of the people that flagged everything as being suspicious, the Flushtration Count flew by almost everyone. This was surprising to me. And is still somewhat surprising to me.
To be clear, it was used as a casual, secondary proving of the nature of the cards. By that I mean, we didn't say, "These cards are red. And now they're blue [Flushtration Count]." The count was used after another sequence of moves had been used to show the packet of cards as consisting of something it didn't really consist of. No one suggests using the Flushtration Count in any other way.
But still, why did the move—which I agree is not overly deceptive—slip past people?
I can't say for sure, but here is what I suspect.
1. The pace and flow of the move is completely authentic. That's almost how you would display the fronts and backs of cards one at a time if you were to do it for real. When we replaced the Flushtration count with the Rumba Count (which is an FC count alternative) many more people found it questionable. Why? I'm going to guess it comes down to the "unnecessary expenditure of energy" concept I mentioned in this post.
2. While the move is discrepant, I don't think it's the type of discrepancy people are great at picking up on if they don't handle cards a lot. It's not like seeing the Ace of Hearts twice in a packet of 4 cards where—if you notice it at all—then it's 100% obvious. In this case you have two hands, holding two packets of cards, turning face-up and face-down simultaneously. The discrepancy is more about orientation and the relationship between all the objects which I think is harder to notice, although it seems obvious to magicians (similar to the cross cut force).
3. I think there probably are some people who notice they're seeing the same back over and over and just assume, due to the casual nature of the count, that it's just a mistake on your part. Like you're just talking and casually displaying the cards and it's not meant to "prove" anything, so maybe if they do notice it they just assume it wasn't something you were doing that was meant to fool them. It's possible the move is so dumb that when it is noticed people just think, "Well, he certainly couldn't have intended that to fool me."
So, I don't really have any grand insight to offer here. Just to say that if this is a move you have avoided because you thought you'd get busted on it, that wasn't our experience (and we were encouraging people to bust us). I think as long as you use the move as people suggest you do, you're relatively safe.
I'm behind on emails. I try to respond to everyone who writes, even if only briefly, but I have a backlog. My expert analysis suggests this is due to the fact that there are many of you, but only one of me. (I also have a convoluted process for replying to emails that involves drafting a response, leaving my response in the draft folder, and then, a few times a day, a friend of the site logs in and sends out all the emails. The cloak and dagger jive goes back to the MCJ days.)
I plan on catching up over the next few days, so if you're waiting to hear from me, you should soon.
If we could do real magic we wouldn't make a card rise to the top of the deck, would we? No. We'd do real, strong, purposeful magic.
Like "converting" homosexuals to heterosexuals.
I was inspired by this formerly gay individual who is most assuredly not gay no more. He 100% don't like mens no more. He definitely wouldn't date a man. There's no way he'd carry a purse. You best believe he won't put on make-up. Because he likes women. Women, women, women, women, WOMEN!!! hu-di-di-di-di-di.
Could I replicate this miracle with a magic trick?
Well, as it turns out, you kind-of can.
Imagine you're out with your friends, one of whom happens to be gay. We'll assume his name is Bruce or Tad or Spence or something.
And you say, "Hey Bruce, would it be okay with you if I performed a hetero-conversion ritual to make you straight?"
"Sure, why not," Bruce says.
You ask him what his biggest turn on is. Let's keep it PG and say he says Terry Crews.
You have him repeat a hetero-mantra a few times while you cleanse his aura of gayness.
"I think it's worked," you say, and go to your phone to bring up an image such as...
You let everyone but Bruce see the picture. "This would certainly get those old gay juices flowing," you say to those gathered around you.
But when you show the picture to Bruce, he turns away saying, "Ew gross. That's disgusting."
And no, he's not acting, or being an instant stooge. He's genuinely repulsed by what he sees.
How? Well, if you have the Jerx app, you probably have a pretty good idea.
[The Jerx App is an iphone app that was a bonus for anyone who bought The Jerx, Volume One. Promo codes for the app are also available to anyone who has paid in full for the forthcoming Magic For Young Lovers book (but not if you already have one from JV1, due to the fact that we don't just have an endless supply of promo code).]