Gardyloo #63

Oliver Meech, who knows a good plot when he sees one, wrote in with some thoughts on the phrenology presentation I've written about in the past couple of weeks. 

Your phrenology concept got me thinking back to my psychology degree. Apparently, there is indeed some localisation of brain function (though sadly only internally), but the borders between different parts of the brain aren't clearly defined, and vary from person to person. This means that when surgeons do brain surgery, they often keep the patient conscious. That way, they can ask them questions to make sure that if they're removing part of the brain (e.g. to treat severe epilepsy), then they know they're not accidentally removing something vital, like the language part.

Ok, enough neuro-nerding, how does this link to magic?

Well, rather than the pressing of bumps being binary (i.e. press = special ability, no press = no special ability) you could try pressing a few different areas of their head, to 'hone in' on the right area. They resulting special ability could then slowly appear.

For example, say you're doing Out of this World. You can have them try dealing 10 cards to separate the colours, turn the packets over, and they're just randomly mixed. 

Next, you prod different parts of their head, slowly moving from position to position, until you "feel you're getting close - let's check".

They try dealing another 10 cards and this time they get 8 out of 10 right.

Finally, you subtly adjust where you're pressing to find the 'bullseye', they deal another 10 and get them all right.

Method-wise, I'd probably use A New World, but I'm sure other methods would work too.

As before, you say that the effects are short-lived, remove your hands, and if they try to deal again then it's back to random luck.


As another approach, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (Wikipedia intro here) could be interesting, as it involves using strong magnets to temporarily interrupt normal brain function. Given how many people believed the popping-corn-with-mobile-phones video, and articles about mobiles 'cooking your brain', people might go for a presentation involving holding mobiles next to specific places on people's heads. Maybe with a pseudo-memory-loss trick, like Banachek's or Sankey's.

What follow is another card-coding system. This idea was submitted to me by JM Beckers. As I said in Wednesday's post, I think this is probably more interesting than it is usable at this point in time. At least it is for me it is, as it requires more calculating than I'd want to do on the fly. I don't trust myself to pull it off. But for some people it might come natural.

So I may be posting this more because of my interest in codes than my interest in using it in an effect, but it could definitely evolve into something. In fact you can use the basic structure of this to code anything (not just cards). And that's because you're not coding a card directly, you're using its number in a memorized stack to deconstruct the question you ask. So if you had a memorized list of anything you could use the same general format.

Here's how it works. The question is asked in this form:

"([Nothing]/Please) choose (a/one/any) ([Nothing]/poker/playing) card ([Nothing]/for me/for us.)"

I'll write out the steps, almost like it's a computer program.

Step 1. If the stack number is 27 or above, say "Please."

Step 2. Say "choose."

Step 3. If the stack number is 26 or below, that is your "working number." If the stack number is 27 or above, subtract 27 from the stack number and that is your "working number."

Step 4. Think how many times the number 9 fits into your working number. 

If 0 - say "a"
If 1 - say "one"
If 2 - say "any"

Step 5. Cast out the nines from your working number. The remainder is your new working number. For example, if your working number was 13, you'd cast out a 9. And the remainder, 4, is your new working number.

Step 6. Think how many times the number 3 fits into your new working number. 

If 0 - say nothing
If 1 - say "poker"
If 2 - say "playing"

Step 7. Say "card"

Step 8. Cast out the threes from your working number. The remainder is your new working number. For example, if your working number was 4, you'd cast out a single 3. And the remainder, one, is your new working number.

Step 9. Think how many times the number 1 fits into your new working number. 

If 0 - say nothing
If 1 - say "for me."
If 2 - say "for us."

So here's an example of the mental calculations. Let's say the spectator selects the Queen of Diamonds. That's 47 in your stack. You'll say, "Please," because it's over 27. You'll subtract 27 to get a working number of 20. Nine goes into 20 twice, so you'll say "any." The remainder is 2. Three doesn't go into 2 at all, so you won't say anything. The remainder is still two. The number 1 goes into that twice, so you'll say, "for us."

"Please choose any card for us."

Some other examples:

Stack number 1: "Choose a card for me."
Stack number 15: "Choose one playing card."
Stack number 27: "Please choose a card."
Stack number 35: "Please choose a playing card for us."
Stack number 52: "Please choose any playing card for me."

I think that's correct. Actually, just the act of writing this entry has cemented the system about 60% in my brain, so I'm sure if you put in the effort it wouldn't be that hard. The only thing I'm not 100% sold on is using the phrase "poker card." As that's not really a common phrase in English. I might swap the word "poker" for something else.

I'm thinking of having a new contest with a $100,000 prize. The contest is called, When Will the Magic Cafe Redesign Their Site? Whoever guesses the date will win the prize. I know that's a lot of money, but it doesn't really matter because I will be 1000 years dead in the ground before they redesign that site. It's been essentially unchanged for over 15 years. 

I was reminded of this the other week because one of the features that the Cafe still uses to this day showed up as the #1 post on the nostalgia subreddit. NOSTALGIA, Steve Brooks!

Actually, Steve probably understands better than I that if they update/redesign that site one iota, the spazzoids who occupy that site will flip out and start complaining. So he's probably wise not to.

What the F? Is this what you guys want? I feel like I'm really missing the mark here with the stuff I'm writing about. 

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I mean, I don't want to commit to changing the format/content of the site permanently unless everyone is on board. I know, let's do six months of dust allergy posts and then see how we're all feeling about where things are at. Then will make the final decision after that.