I got an email from reader, M.Y. that read:
"I liked very much Cup of George. I was thinking that it could be possibly performed impromptu without a wingman. When you are in a restaurant/bar/store, look around and pick the funniest/weirdest looking person. Just pay attention there is no visible sign that that person may soon leave (ie they are asking for the check). Then it is not difficult to draw your own bill (bathroom, etc whatever). Then you ask to “select anyone in this room... someone funny, someone weird”. Now I believe you should choose a person that’s not too obvious, someone in the middle. It’s a psychological force of a person, in some way."
I think this is a good instinct. A borrowed dollar that becomes magically altered to look similar to a "random" person in the room is a fun trick, even if it's not a profound mystery. Being able to do it without a secret assistant is a worthwhile goal.
The problem with trying to base the method off a "psychological force of a person" is the same problem you have with all psychological forces: it's either reliable and obvious or inconspicuous and unreliable.
What you could do is have your spectator take out a dollar bill, crumple it up, and you cover it with a cup, as in the original write-up. Then say, "That's going to be the prize money. Now we need to find out who the winner of the prize will be. Pick someone here." If they pick your target person, then you're set.
If they don't choose your target person you say, "Okay, the guy in the Modest Mouse t-shirt. And who is he going to fight? We're going to do a round-robin, fighting competition thing. Mortal Kombat style." And then you do the PATEO force with everyone in the room. You can probably keep this moving pretty quickly with up to 20 or so people as long as you're mildly interesting.
Once you get down to the last two "contestants" I would probably have the winner chosen via a controlled coin flip or coin spin or something seemingly random. ("If the coin lands heads-side up, the baby wins. If it lands tails-side up, the guy in the Yankees hat wins... Oh, tails! Yankees hat takes the baby and piledrives the shit out of him and kicks his lifeless body out through the front window. Beat it, baby. Go cry to your mama."
Then of course you recap, "Before we started—before you chose who to eliminate—you took a dollar bill from your wallet, balled it up, and it has been under that cup the whole time," blah, blah, blah. She unrolls it and it says "Winner" with an arrow pointing to George Washington in a Yankees cap.
That's definitely a trick I'll use. I think it would be pretty fun and relatively baffling. And if you get a hit on your target person immediately then it's a total mindblower.
Sometimes people send me stuff in the hopes that I'll write about it on the site. It's pretty unlikely that I will, though. Not because I don't appreciate the gesture, but just because if I wrote about everything people sent me, then, ultimately, no one would know if I was really into something, or if I was just saying something nice about it because I got it for free. So, while I appreciate free shit, don't send me anything with expectations that you'll see it written about here for my millions (estimated) of fans.
One way you can get me to mention your trick or book here is if you fool me with something. In fact, I'd rather be fooled by a trick than get a copy of it for free. (Well, ideally you'd fool me with it and then give me a copy for free.)
So if you have a trick you can do for me over the phone or over skype, or if you don't need my interaction and you just want to send me a video clip of something, get in touch. I may not have my camera on if we use skype, or maybe I'll wear a mask, or I'll have you perform it for a friend. I'm not sure about that yet. We'll see how it goes.
This week I noticed that the first time I did a Dear Jerxy post, it was with an (obviously) made up letter. But then in future posts I switched over to real emails. Did I originally intend to respond to fake letters as a jumping off point to write about certain topics? I have no clue.
I only bring this up now for the sake of the magic historians who will pore over these posts, paying great attention to everything I write here as being the starting point for an era that redefined magic. "Was this just a mistake?" they'll ask. "Or did he expect us to believe that first post was an actual letter from the guy on the Cafe, like the future posts were?"
It was just a mistake. Chill out.
I figure if there are people in the world whose spirits are lifted by a generic compliment written by someone they probably don't know personally, that is addressed to anyone that happens to read it, then I wanted to get in on that action.