Give the deck an open Slip Cut somewhere close to the middle, using your left thumb to peel the face-down card off the top of the deck onto the lower packet. (This actually is the Ambitious Card.) It should be drawn into a position out-jogged for about half its length (Figure 137). Place the upper packet onto the lower one so that the top packet is in-jogged for about a quarter of its length relative to the bottom packet. As soon as the top packet is in position, riffle its two lowermost cards off the right thumb and form a thumb break at the rear of the packet (Figure 138). Obtaining this break is covered by saying, "You don't believe me for a minute. I'll show you. This is really the [name the Ambitious Card] and it is really in the middle." Slide the top packet square with the near edge of the bottom packet, secretly releasing the two cards below the thumb break as you immediately begin to turn the left hand palm down with the bottom packet (Figure 139) to show the jogged card protruding from the front. The right hand should remain close by, but separated from, the left-hand packet. Extend your left
first finger over the front edge of the protruding card (Figure 140) and pull it flush with the packet while simultaneously turning the left hand palm up again and pushing the top card to the right. The spectators should, without question, believe that the card you've pushed over is the Ambitious Card.
Insert the protruding card into the middle of the right hand's packet (Figure 141), saying,"That's the middle of the deck." Place the left-hand packet on top of the right-hand packet and square the entire deck, securing a fourth-finger break below the top two cards as you do so. "How far from the top would you say it is?" Regardless of what the spectators say, respond, "I think you're starting to understand the game; now we can start to play." As that line is being delivered, execute the Two-Step Double Lift. It will seem the card has returned to the top of the deck yet again. Turn the two cards face down, back onto the deck.
NOTE: Many individuals like to fan the right-hand packet for the insertion of the card. Since I don't fan cards in front of lay audiences, I don't add this touch, though it does not change the technique in any significant way. The use of the fan was a part of the Mario's "For the Unambitious." Others have taken to placing the card in the middle of the right-hand packet and the right-hand packet in the middle of the left-hand packet, noting this as the "middle of the middle." This practice is inconsistent with my presentation in this routine but is fine for other presentations and applications.
HISTORICAL NOTE: I originally contributed the preceding sequence to Frank Garcia's book, Super Subtle Card. Miracles (1973, page 165), where he titled it "Coming Up in the World." I call it the Load-Up Move. The entire sequence can be used as is or it can be employed to produce the set-up for more or fewer than the two iterations I desire.
Since its release, some confusion over the history of the technique has arisen, in large measure because so many have republished it without credit, assuming it was too old to trace, without checking to see if that is true. Others, for reasons only they can offer, have applied all manner of odd crediting, despite the evidence. I thought I had put the matter to rest when I published the history in The Magical Record and Thoughts of Wesley James, but it appears that additional questions have arisen. Thus, to address those questions, and set the record straight, I'll define yet again the salient elements.
As best I can piece it together, sometime around 1946, as an outgrowth of something he saw at an Abbott's Get-Together, Ed Mario developed a technique for achieving a position similar to the one I reach during my Load-Up Move. In other words, within the context of an Ambitious Card sequence, Mario added a card above a card inserted into the center of a deck. The principle benefit of the Mario technique, as he saw it, was that the position was achieved after the card was inserted, rather than by slipping the card down ;nto the deck or using a Swing Cut to arrive at the position. These are not benefits to be hastily dismissed and they are the features Ed felt distinguished his approach.
I created my technique and the procedure that flows from it in 1968. I showed it to Ken Beale and A1 Cooper in 1969 and to Frank Garcia and a few others in 1970, at about the same time I had a discussion with Ed Mario about the procedure, though not the technique. All this occurred before the publication of J. Stewart Smith's "To the Top" (Pallbearers Review, Vol. 6, No. 6, April 1971, page 413), Ed Mario's "For the Unambitious" (Kabbala, Vol. 1, No. 2, October 1971, page 11) and Tom Ellis' "Super Rise" [Pallbearers Review, Vol. 9, No. 6, April 1974, page 721) or the Fulves emendation of the Ellis credit (Pallbearers Review, Vol. 10, No. 9, July 1975, page 985). I confess, I was not aware, nor did I become aware, of Eddie's technique or Smith's prior to the publication of mine and, in fact, did not learn about either until much later. I surely didn't know about either when I developed my technique in 1968. Alas, I'm getting ahead of myself.
In 1970, in one of our fairly frequent Sunday morning phone conversations, I described my sequence to Ed, albeit without full details. My assumption, though I am not certain, is that Ed combined my procedure with his technique and the result was "For the Unambitious," which, as noted, was dated June 1971, roughly two years after I'd shown it to Beale and Cooper and a year after I'd shown it to Garcia. This was also roughly a year before Eddie's dating. I don't think Eddie was trying to steal anything from me. I think Ed saw the method of loading a card above the target card as the defining element of the technique. As Ed himself stated, in a conversation with me in the late eighties, my technique is easier, more reliable and more broadly applicable; it just wasn't what he was trying to accomplish. That probably explains why he never discovered it. The procedure is not the defining element and, therefore, didn't need to be separately credited.
As I later learned, Ed had shown his technique to a few people over the years but thought relatively little of it until, perhaps prompted by the appearance of the J. Stewart Smith technique, he allowed Jon Racherbaumer to publish it and reflect the date June 1971, while making the point that his technique dated back to the mid-1940s.
How one credits the sleight largely depends on what one thinks defines it. There are those—notably Darwin Ortiz—who persist in citing the Tom Ellis item, though it appeared after mine, it allows only the addition of one card and it breaks no new ground in terms of procedure. I am at a loss to understand that thinking. Others, recognizing the core concept, appreciate that only my technique can be used in a practical manner for any number of cards that may be required, a feature that contributes mightily to the broad utility of the technique. If the defining element is the loading method, most people, I think, apply mine. If it is the display technique with the one-handed squaring and push-off, I think most people apply mine. If it is the handling of the card after the switch has taken place, which I consider window dressing, some apply mine (a procedure that takes place completely in the hands), some Smith's (a procedure similar to mine but involving tabling the deck) and some Mario's (the card is inserted into a fan).
From my perspective, most of those who use the move use my handling for the portion of it that accomplishes the secret result and enables the switch; a few substitute Mario's use of the fan, others Garcia's idea of putting the middle in the middle, a few table the deck as did Smith. Pat Page has added the idea of having the card show up in the performer's mouth. Normally it is the technique that defines a sleight, not what one does with the cards after the technique is complete. In this case it seems there are those who, for whatever reasons, want to make an exception to that convention in the case of this sleight. I still consider the core idea to be Vernon's Interlock Vanish used as a one-handed switch; all the rest is decoration, albeit appealing decoration. Each will make his own decision.
Duplicate the actions of the first iteration of the sequence. In other words, cut the deck and slip the card down, this time about an eighth of the way from the top. The card should be out-jogged for about half its length. Start to push the card into the deck but stop when just the white border protrudes. Let the spectator finish pushing the card into the deck, explaining, "It will help give you a feel for how far down it's going."
"Roughly, how far from the top of the deck would you say the card is?" No matter how the spectator responds, turn over the top card, simulating the actions of your Double Lift. Say, "I think I understand the problem. If this card is face down among all the others, it's confusing. It's hard to tell where it is. I'll place the card into the exact middle of the deck, but face up, so you know where it is." Insert the card face up into the middle of the deck, but do so quickly, blocking the spectators' view of the front of the deck in the process. The idea is to assure that the spectator does not know exactly where in the deck you placed the card.
"You don't seem convinced. I'll show you again." Spread the deck until you reach the face-up card. Add, "You see, face up in the middle." Square the deck, forming a break over the card above the face-up Ambitious Card. Execute the Edge Pass or the Squeeze Pass (see pages 339 and 342), using the following sequence: With your right hand, take the deck and turn it on edge, saying, "Now you know the card is somewhere in the middle of this deck." Rotate the deck face down executing the Pass and continue, "If the card comes to the top, you'd know it because the card is face up." Use your right hand to lift the deck and show the card at its face, adding, "If the card goes to the bottom, you'd see it because you'd be looking at the back of a card." Turn the deck face down again, placing it back into your left hand and obtain a break under the top two cards as you square the pack. This is facilitated by the reversed card.
NOTE: There are circumstances under which I have opted to use a Side Steal under a top-card cover (a Covered Side Steal) in preference to the Pass, to position the face-up card second from the top, in preparation for the upcoming Peel Change. This is more a decision based on performing conditions than any other factor. When I perform seated—and I don't usually do this routine seated—I'll use the Side Steal. Under most other conditions, unless the group I'm performing for is particularly large, thus presenting angle problems, I use the Pass. Finally, for the sake of completeness and for the extremely important technical contribution it makes, I'm including the WJ Side Steal here. If my experience with cardmen to whom I've taught my technique is echoed among my readers, this handling will be widely adopted.
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