July 1 1973 BETA

After Hours Magic: A Book of Al Thatcher Card Magic

Encyclopedia of Card Tricks

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I suspect that this premise has a longer history than that of which I am aware. I will, however, offer those credits I know. The effect is a sort of packet version of a visible, slow-motion, packet-elevator routine that to the best of my knowledge, began with Bob Ostin's 1974 marketed effect, "The Submarine Card." The presentational idea of a card acting like a submarine, however, seems to date back to Charles Jordan's "Impossible Journey" (Thirty Card Mysteries, 1919, page 58). Ostin's version involved a special card and, because it did, I found his method (based on an idea by J. C. Whylie {Phoenix, No. 193, December 30, 1949, page 770; and Abracadabra, Vol. 8, No. 199, November 19, 1950, page 263, which appeared in an effect titled "Elusive Lady") to be of only academic interest (though it led to handlings from Jennings, Cervon, Lorayne and Stephen Tucker). It seems that the special card used by Whylie had been used earlier, in another context, by Tom Sellers in his 1936 book, 21 New Card Tricks, in an effect tided "New Principle Card Trick" (page 8). It has been speculated that the Sellers-Whylie-Ostin card led to Busby's Into the Fourth Dimension... and Beyond (1973) and Walton's "Card Warp" (1974). I guess it says something about me that I was uninspired by the special card that seems to have inspired so many others while I found the routine itself quite intriguing.

Roy Walton, a man who knows a good premise when he sees one, recorded his method in his book Cardboard Charades (1971, page 44). He titled it "Below Zero." His approach was fine though it used an extra card and a move of which I was not fond. His method and presentational approach, however, guided mine.

My method—which introduces three new sleights and a fresh application of an old one—eliminates the extra card and the questionable move. It was the elimination of the extra card that prompted the name: "Below Zero Minus One." It is worth noting that Ken Krenzel has published a handling for this effect, "Light and Heavy Card" (.Epilogue Special No. 2, circa 1974, page 247). His is a fine handling; it is reaffirming that Ken also saw the appeal of this premise.

EFFECT: As stated above, this is a visual, slow-motion, packet-elevator routine. Five cards are freely chosen from the deck, and one of these, while face up, passes one card at a time down through the others. It is then clearly placed face up on the bottom of the packet, whereupon it magically turns face down and rises to the top—twice.

Spread the deck and have a spectator remove any five cards. Square the deck and place it aside or into your pocket. Turn the five cards face up and spread them between your hands. Have one of the five named. Explain that merely by naming the particular card the spectator has endowed it with certain magical properties, which you will demonstrate.

Turn all the cards face down except the selection. Place it face up on top of the packet, jogged forward for about three-fourths of its length. The packet should be in dealing position, but your curled left first finger should contact the bottom card of the packet on the face at the front right corner.

Move your left thumb to the left side of the packet and lift that side until the packet is tilted roughly forty-five degrees to the floor. The left fingers should be straight. This somewhat resembles the traditional Charlier Cut position (Figure 34).

Place your right palm onto the uppermost face-down card of the packet so the heel of the palm rests on the rearmost portion of the card. Your right fingers extend over the out-jogged face-up card. Turn your right side toward the audience, much as you would if you were about to perform the Roterberg version of what is usually referred to as the Herrmann Pass (actually Hofzinser's). Slide your right hand back, dragging the face-down card beneath it until its forward edge clears the near edge of the jogged face-up card (Figure 35, an exposed view).

You may pause for a moment in this position, provided your hands are large enough to completely hide the face-down card.

Move the right hand forward, pushing the face-down card back to its original position, but one card higher in the packet. This captures the out-jogged face-up card second from the top. I usually wiggle my fingers and spread them before dramatically moving the hand away. When the right hand is moved aside, the effect created should be that the face-up card has penetrated the face-down one.

NOTE: This is a novel application of a technique borrowed from a move usually referred to as the Erdnase Color Change (actually Houdini's), which is traditionally performed with a squared, face-up deck. A description of this color change appears in the S. W. Erdnase classic The Expert at the Card Table (1902, page 151). It had appeared in Selbit's Magician's Handbook previously (1901, page 27), and in Elliotts Last Legacy (1923, page 133) afterward, with the correct attribution, but the Erdnase description is the most readily available. When performing for smaller groups, where turning side-on to the audience would seem too "staged," the technique can be performed straight-on as one might a more traditional color change.

The next move, which is original with me, was created specifically for this routine but can be applied to others as well. I will describe it only once and thereafter refer to it simply as the Spread Displacement.

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