Stepping Out Onto the PATEO

The PATEO force has its detractors, and rightfully so. The process-y nature of the selection can come off as a bit odd in its indirectness. And the last elimination, as it's traditionally made by the magician, is often seen as a weakness because it seems questionable that the magician is the one to make this final choice.

As far as the procedure goes, I think it has its place. (And I will get into that when I write more about process heavy tricks and how I've been performing them recently in my next post.)

Regarding that last elimination, I feel it's actually a mistake to change things up at the end and turn it into bad magician's choice ("Hand me either object"). You've gone from a very deliberate and explicit process where you're both clearly indicating which item you want to be eliminated to a wishy-washy meaningless action. Not good. 

What follows is the way I get into the PATEO force. It has two benefits to it. The first is that it makes the whole procedure seem a little more free from the start. And the second is that it lessens the notion that you had to be the person doing the picking at the end, because it seems like it was the spectator's choice that determined that. I've been doing this technique for years and I thought it was pretty standard, but it wasn't mentioned in Jason Messina's recent ebook that exhaustively covers the PATEO force, Mental Zen: Volume One. And when I performed it recently for a couple knowledgable magicians, they hadn't seen this way of getting into it before. So maybe it's not standard (if you've seen it before, let me know so I can credit it or—more likely—remove this post altogether).

Here is the normal way of getting into the PATEO force as taken from Messina's book:

The first rule to remember is, when there are an odd number of items on the table, the performer must go first. When there are an even number the spectator goes first. By going first, I mean the person will select two items and then the other person will eliminate one of them. "Eliminating" means you set it aside from the main group of items.

But in reality, each "round" of the PATEO force involves both people, so you can apparently give the spectator the choice of who "goes first." 

Here's how that would sound:

"We're going to narrow this group of objects down to one, and here's how we'll do it. We'll go back and forth with one person nominating two items for elimination and the other person eliminating one of those items. Do you want to pick first or do you want me to?"

If there are an even number and she says she wants to pick first, you say:

"Okay, pick two items and I'll eliminate one." 

If there are an even number and she says she wants you to pick first, you say:

"Okay, I'll go first. So you just have to nominate any two items and I'll pick which one is eliminated."

If there are an odd number and she says she wants to pick first, you say:

"Okay, you'll go first. I nominate... this one and this one.... Pick which one goes."

If there are an odd number and she says she wants you to pick first, you say:

"Okay, I'll pick... this one and this one.... Which one do you want to eliminate?"

You see what we're doing here, yes? We're taking the two actions—the nomination and the elimination—and depending on which one we need them to do, we're applying the verb "pick" to either action.

Not only does this allow you to start with any number of objects, it also allows your spectator to seemingly pick the order you do things in. And that means when you get to the end you don't have to justify why you're doing the final elimination. You're doing the final elimination because that's the order she chose to go in. 

I share the belief of many that the PATEO force should only be done with (apparently) indistinct objects: face-down playing cards, things in envelopes, things in bags, business cards with things written on them face down. Done with distinct objects, presented openly, the force will be transparent to a certain percentage of people no matter what verbal or psychological subterfuge you bring to it.

As for what to do with the PATEO force, that's kind of up to you. I don't usually use it on its own. It's a small part of a couple much larger effects I do that I may write up some day. Although I do think it's perfect for some "minor effects" (as discussed last week).

If you're ever sitting around with someone wondering "what should we do tonight" you can write down a bunch of suggestions on index cards or business cards, then go through the PATEO process to "leave it up to fate." Every card that gets eliminated has something on it like, "Drop in at the old-folks home and sing them some songs from their youth," or, "Go door-to-door collecting canned goods for the soup kitchen," or, "Read our favorite bible verses to each other." But the one you end up with is something like, "Taste test my cum before and after drinking a gallon of pineapple juice." 

"Well, fate has spoken," you say as you drop your pants.