Gardyloo #72

In this post I mentioned the idea of some kind of robotic thing you strap on to a spectator's hand and then you insinuate that you can program it to allow the spectator to accomplish some feat of magic.

Well, friend of the site, Simon Graf, rolled with the idea and made a mechanized glove.

He uses it with a spectator-cuts-the-aces routine, as mentioned in the post linked above.

(BTW, Simon, in your email to me you asked if I thought you should make the glove look more complex and "believable," and I forgot to answer. My answer is: I don't think it matters too much either way. I think it looks good as is, but it wouldn't be a mistake to add more to it. People are going to be dubious of it regardless of what it looks like. This is one of those sorts of presentations that I like a lot. The kind that people will immediately think is almost certainly bullshit, but if you pull it off successfully and they have no other good explanation as far as how the effect was accomplished, they'll find themselves seriously considering the bullshit despite themselves.)

A few people have asked what I think of Banachek's appearance on the Joe Rogan show.

If you haven't seen it, it's an hour and 45 minute interview followed by 20 minutes of tricks that pretty much completely fail to land. It's a little hard to watch, honestly. 

The interview is fine and interesting enough. Banachek goes into a lot of stories about fooling the scientists who were investigating the paranormal back in the early 80s. The funny thing is, you imagine it was a bunch of clever ruses carried out by Banachek under the guidance of Randi, but most of his stories were like, "When the scientists left the room we bent a bunch of stuff then they came back and their minds were blown." It's like, really? It seems science doesn't devote their best and brightest to see if you can bend spoons with your mind. Let's hope these aren't the scientists we have on curing cancer now.

As far as the tricks go, I don't see it as Joe being too harsh. I just see it as him saying the things that most spectators wouldn't. I've said this since the beginning of the site, but most adult spectators are overly forgiving of magicians. And I think it's a huge detriment to magic. They let magicians off easy, and in turn magicians think they've gotten away with something they haven't. It's a bad cycle because most magicians don't really want honest feedback anyway. And often spectator's think you have to go easy on the magician. They haven't seen high-quality close-up magic. And that's why they're not into magic because they don't want to play the game of "let's pretend you have super powers because it's too awkward for me to point out the obvious."

I've learned through our testing that you have to beg (pay) people to give you honest feedback. But it's really the only way to hone an effect to the point where it's bulletproof. Do I think this was a bad outing for Banachek? No, I think it was an average outing with an honest spectator. (But for fuck's sake, don't use a Mind Power deck for something that's recorded on video.)

The problem isn't that Banachek bombed. The problem is that even if he had done well it wouldn't have mattered. Magic on the internet is kind of anti-wonder. If you do something really great on facebook, youtube or instagram, it will be met with people exposing it in the comments, or people saying it's fake. It's not a flaw of the performers (at least not always), it's the nature of the medium. The internet is great for dissecting magic, but terrible at generating true amazement. I can fuck with someone's head for a weekend with a simple trick in real life. But if I put that same trick online, in five minutes someone would say, "Oh, he turned over two cards as one." 

I know this sounds like some crotchety old man shit. "Bleh! The internet is bad for magic!" But it has nothing to do with fear of new technology, because you know what other mediums aren't good for transmitting the power of magic? Fucking books. The gramophone. Or those pictures of people doing the cups and balls on Egyptian tombs. 

Magic, like sex, is most powerful as an in-person experience. Everything else is a cheap substitute. And anyone who would argue otherwise has probably never experienced the real thing (done well) in person.

I have a few credits related to the AdBlock control in Monday's post.

Caleb Wiles mentioned David Regal's Sticky Transpo to me, where Regal uses double-sided tape on the back of a joker to steal out a signed selection. In this case, the removal of the joker is done by the performer overtly as part of the trick.

Curtis Kam steered me towards John Scarne's Western Union trick where a waxed joker is removed by the magician and tossed off stage, along with a spectator's selection. 

And Simon Aronson mentioned a card idea that was in his first book (appropriately called Card Ideas) that also involved using a waxed ad card as a method to steal out a selection.

While none of these uses were about doing this in the spectator's hands, they're definitely similar precursors. Thanks to those who wrote in with a credit. 

Okay, I know I've written too much about the Digital Force Bag app, but it's one of those nice tools that is very much a blank slate, and I have about a dozen other ideas with the app that I've tried out and had some fun with. This one is particularly stupid.

I start talking about numbers and how I'm a big "number freak" and how "math is my jam" and how I'm always just "Beautiful Mind'ing" the word around me which I see in numbers. Some numbers I love and some I hate. Numbers were my friends when I was growing up! (I say this as if it makes me a quirky fun guy and not a total loser.)

I write something on a business card and toss it writing side down on the table. "Name any number," I say.

They say 59.

I tell them to turn over the business card. It says 23.

"You're good at this too. You must have my love of numbers as well. Yes, we're a special breed."

They're like, huh?

"You said 59," I say. 

"This says 23," they say.

"Yeah, exactly. You somehow sensed that 23 was my 59th favorite number."

I then have them go into my phone and in my notes app they find a list, "Top 100 Favorite Numbers Between 1 and 100." And, sure enough, my 59th favorite number is 23.

As I said, it's stupid, but it makes people laugh. And the more they think of it, the stronger it gets.

And occasionally (once so far, for me) they name the number you tossed on the table. And you, of course, just milk that for all you can.