No sooner had I finished routining "Hour of Destiny," it suddenly occurred to me that it was also possible to eliminate the miscall, and actually set the watch to the spectator's mentally selected hour. This would certainly be preferable in a close-up performing situation where the close proximity of the audience might prompt a request to actually see the hour showing on the watch.
All that's necessary is a little bit of acting. In other words, instead of apparently setting the watch prior to placing it in your pocket as described in the previous versions, you simply place it in your pocket without setting it and continue as follows. As soon as the spectator has placed the cards representing his chosen hour of destiny in his pocket, you turn and retrieve the deck. State that you will need twelve cards to represent the hours in a day. Holding the deck in the left hand, push off twelve cards, one at a time into the waiting right hand counting them aloud as you do so. As soon as you feel the thick card, simply subtract that cards number from thirteen and you've got the spectator's mentally selected hour.
As an afterthought, when you have finished dealing twelve cards into the right hand, suddenly look at the spectator and state that you forgot to do something rather important. Hand the twelve card packet to the spectator and ask him to hold them for a moment. Remove the watch from your pocket as you state, "I forgot to set the watch to my friend's hour of destiny." Now, since you actually know the spectator's mentally selected hour, set the watch and close the cover. Drop it back in your pocket and proceed to have the spectator select a playing card as previously described. Naturally, you finish by allowing the spectator to call out his mentally selected hour. Immediately open the watch and hand it to the spectator, asking him to call out the time showing. To finish, have him reveal the card he's thinking of and then read aloud what's engraved on the case.
Now, you have two great methods. Personally, I still favor the miscall for stand-up performances and the second method for close-up situations. The choice is yours. Take your pick.
Hold the presses! I just received a letter from Richard Osterlind. I sent him the alternate handling that enables you to actually set the hour on the watch as an afterthought. He loved the idea and then bounced one off the wall that floored me. Richard suggested using a "Crystal Card Watch", sold by most magic dealers, that periodically causes a playing card to appear on its face. This would eliminate the need for engraving the watch. You use it to set the time, then, waiting until the card image is out of sight, allow the first spectator to read aloud the hour showing on the watch.
Using a second spectator, ask him if he has a crystal ball on him. This is usually good for a laugh. "Not to worry," you respond, "We'll use the crystal in my wristwatch." Wait until the card image is in the black and ask the second spectator to look into the crystal of the watch and imagine that he sees the image of a card forming before his eyes. Naturally, that's exactly what happens and the card he sees is the card you have conveniently forced. Have him call out the name of the card that he sees in his "mind's eye." Ask the first spectator to name the card he has been thinking of and - Voila! A bombshell climax to a great mental illusion.
Oh yes, I did say that I wouldn't hold anything back in this book. I meant it. Ted and I had discussed the possibility of using a gaffed pocket watch. I had suggested switching the hour and minute hands and freezing the new minute hand in the 12 o'clock position. This would enable the performer to unobtrusively set the watch to the proper hour following the miscall. Since the new hour hand now sets as quickly as the minute hand once did, it takes only a partial turn of the stem to reach the hour the spectator is thinking of.
Richard Osterlind independently came up with the same idea. However, since Ted and I really didn't know anything about the workings of a watch, we decided that the necessary gaffing would probably run up the cost of producing the effect, so we didn't explore it any further. Frankly, I wasn't even sure that it could be done. When Richard made the suggestion, he seemed very confidant that it was not at all difficult for a competent watchmaker. I finally decided to try having it made up for myself. Within a few weeks, I had the gaffed version in hand.
There are now so many outstanding ways to perform this effect, it's difficult to decide which I like the best. Oh well, try them all out and let me know which one you favor. I'm through trying to improve "Hour of Destiny." If I don't, I'll never get around to finishing this book.
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Today I'm going to teach you a fundamental Mentalism technique known as 'cold reading'. Cold reading is a technique employed by mentalists and charlatans and by charlatan I refer to psychics, mediums, fortune tellers or anyone that claims false abilities that is used to give the illusion that the person has some form of super natural power.