Not At ways thf Best Solution

When someone attempts a card count and has not put in sufficient practice, the secret transfer requires undue attention from rhe performer, and will most likely cause a slight hesitation.

In analyzing the problem with this unpracticed count, it becomes apparent that the rhythm is faulty. It is logical then to try to solve the problem by removing the hesitation through the use of a steady rhythm.This should solve the problem, as the hesitation in rhythm has been removed. However, this solution brings with it another problem just as bad; namely the unnatural evenness of the count. Thus, the obvious solution to the unnatural break in rhvthm is no solution at all. d

Here is just one instance of a problem that seems to suggest a solution, but the result produces a fresh problem as troubling as the old one. This happens not only with card counts, but with manv things, in life and in magic.

I have seen my share of magic shows—well, magic showings—that were full of problems. Solving the problems in these shows might be possible, yet one could still have a show full of mistakes. If rhe idea behind the show is bad, if it has a poor foundation, then solving the surrounding problems wont result in a good show. Solving problems is only effective if rhe central idea is sound.

Being in such a situation can be incredibly frustrating, but there are worse ones. Having an act full of problems is possible because rhe foundation is rotten, yet the problem with the foundation is not at all obvious. You believe rhe basis of the act is solid; there are onlv a few problems, and when diose are solved, everything will be fine. The nightmare only engulfs you after you have spent hundreds of hours solving the problems, only to see that the core of the act is defective.

Many acts have no basis at all other than that of the magician showing that he can do something (and what a meager foundation that is!). Imperfect work built on such a foundation can easily create the impression that the act is failing because of the imperfections. Only when, through much work, the act is done perfectly does it become clear thai it still fails—because its basis is hollow, empty

Perhaps rhe worst scenario of this sort possible is when an idea only exists because of the problems conncctcd to it. Such ideas are actually built on the Virtues" of their mistakes. Remove the mistakes and the idea collapses. (In Volume II [p. 319] 1 will explore this idea more deeply within the context of the Too Perfect Theory.)

When you find this happening., dont despair. Just start fresh. Devise another foundation for your act. Rethink it. Improvements only lead to something better when they are built on solid ground.

ATELY several handlings for the Self-cutting I )ec.k or Haunted Pack have been published. In my opinion, the most notable of these is Eugene Burgers, described in his book The Performance of Close-up Magic (p. 102), as it requires only a slight preparation of die deck

In most of these versions the thread must be attached to the deck in some way. It is no easy matter to manipulate the end of a thread and to attach it to the required object. Since one cant palm the thread, it must always to be held by die fingertips. Wlien die end is waxed, things become easier; but if you have to attach the thread, concealing the required finger-work is difficult. In the following handling, you will see that most of the work has been si mpli lied. The diread need never be attached to the cards and several other problems inherent in the trick are solved.

It was some years ago that I devised a method for the Haunted Pack inspired by an idea I read of attaching a coin to the end of the thread to perform the Haunted Pack. (I regret than I no longer recall the inventor's name, and have been unable to locate the original article.) I modified this gimmick and came up with a handling that suited me. (Recendy I learned that Edward Mario had published an idea similar in several rcspccts to mine in the September 1963 issue of The Linking Ring [Vol. 43, No. 9, p. 611.) I have since added a system for rhread management built on a very smart idea by Philippe Socrate, which he has kindly given mc permission to describe here. Socrate developed a method (founded on an old idea by Jean Hugard) that eliminates any moment when the thread might normally be left dangling. In addition, the thread is always covered. He has also improved the method of attachment to your body.

The thread used for this method can and should be quite strong. Its visibility is not a problem, since it is always concealed by your arm. I use thin nylon thread, which I've colored with textile paint to approximate the color of my jacker.

The diread is passed through the material of the jacket at a point aligned with the top rear corner of the right-side pocket, and several inches above it. The point is defined by the position of your elbow when it rests against your side. Attached to the end of the thread is a small fisliing weight, weighing a few ounces. The weight shouldn't be too heavy, as that would interfere with hooking up the deck and threading the card during performance. The

weight only needs to pull in excess thread when no tension is on die line. Nodiing more. It lies between die jacket lining and the outer material. The weight must be able to move freely up and down within the wall of the jacket. To assure that this movement isn't hindered, it's a good idea to sew a cloth channel of slippery material between the lining and the outer fabric (Figure 1). This take-up system, which eliminates slack in the thread at all times, is Socrates fine idea.

At the opposite end of the thread, securely fix a circle of very thin metal. This should be the size of a half dollar and made of a ferrous metal, so that it can be attracted by a magnet. Paint it flesh color.

The length of the thread is such that, when the weight is allowed to drop all the way down, the disk on the other end will hang inside the right-side pocket, about half way to the bottom (Figure 1 again). After experimenting with the handling, if you find the thread is too long, attach a small bead a short distance above the weight inside die lining of your jacket. This bead will stop die thread from being pulled all the way out to the weight.

You will also need a small purse or box in which rests an interesting old coin or amulet roughly the size of a silver dollar. Hidden within the lining of the purse or walls of the box air a couple of rare earth magnets or a patch of magnetic rubber. You will have to experiment with the type and strength of the magnets used, as these factors are governed by the thickness of the material through which they must hold the metal disk. For this description, lets agree that a purse is used. When this purse is placed in your right-side jacket pocket, the disk on the thread will be attracted to the rear side of the purse. The magnet must hold the disk reliably to the purse, but it shouldn't be so strong that you must struggle to separate the two.

In this method you never have to search for the thread bccausc it is fastened to the disk and to the purse. The disk, as you will soon see, also makes the hook up to the deck very easy.

To perform: Give the deck to someone on your right and ask him to look through the cards and remove any one. While he is doing this, take the purse from your jacket pocket. The disk will come with it. As you open the purse, maneuver the thread between the right second and third fingers. It will be covered by your forearm as long as you keep your elbow pressed lighdy against your jacket. Take the coin from the purse, make some comment about its talismanic powers and give it to someone on your left to look at.

Replace the purse in your right-side pocket, and as you do, ^ ^fcrisi^r?

your right for the return of the deck ^^^ ^ j and receive it in your left: hand. Im-mediately bring your right hand from the jacket pocket and spread the deck from your left hand into your right. Under cover of this action, secredy slide the disk toward your left beneath the cards, and slip it above die bottom card of the pack (Figure 2, shown from below).

While you spread the cards, commcnt that the spectator could have chosen any of them. Close the spread and square the cards into right hand dealing position. Figure 3 diagrams how the thread runs under the hand through the fingers to die deck.

card to you, and take it face down in your J Qs palm up left hand, gripping it at its near end. \ -v/

Next, cud your right fingers tighdy around /

the left edge of the pack and arch your hand, vH ^iJ^Ji^/ /

causing the right side of the deck to rise away /

from the palm (Figure 4). Slip the chosen 7 / card beneath the deck, moving it sidewise ( I J

now looped around the sclcction (Figure 6). ft I

Cut the cards near center, carrying the / top packet to the left, dien back beneath the

bottom packet. This positions the sclcction in the middle, with the thread running around it (Figure 7). As you complete the cut, shift the deck onto your open right fingers (Figure 8).

Next have the spectator who has been holding the coin place it on top of the deck. You are now prepared for the eerie self-cutting action of the cards. By shifting

your body backward while keeping your light hand still, die top ol die deck will shift to die right, then back, leaving the selection projecting widely from the right side of the pack (Figures 9 and 10).

With your left hand, draw the chosen card the rest of the way from the deck, turn it lace up and hand it to the person who cliose ii. If you now pull the diread taut again, the disk will begin to slide from the pack and onto the inner phalanges of the fingers. At the

L Baker once said, "Don't run when you aren't being chased.'' I think this is extremely valuable advice. Don't prove your hand is empty if no one suspects you could be hiding something in it. Don't overprove and thereby arouse suspicions that didn't exist previously. Dont hurry your moves. The list goes on, but I think Mr. Bakers point is dear enough.

However, few rules, no matter how sound, are without their exceptions, and I'm not sure this "Don't run' rule should be applied in all situations. As I understand it, it generally pertains only to actual performance practices: Don't rush your moves, don't overprove, etc.

Unfortunately there will be moments when you arc hiding something, and if your dcccption is not well concealed, you run a genuine risk of being chased. Such situations are truly unfortunate, because once your spectators are chasing you, outrunning them will be extremely difficult, if not impossible. So, as a valuable corollary to the ' no chase, no run" rule, it is important to recognize that if you are chased, you can't possibly run fast enough to escape unscathed!

From this it will be obvious that you should take great care never to be chased. You can't afford the sprint, and you are almost certain to be overtaken once the spectators are on your scent.

' I herefore, 1 believe you should do your ninning before anyone can think to chase you. During the development of a trick, when you are working out the details, run! Run as fast as you can! That is, think of everything you can, every ploy, every subdety, every stratagem for turning attention toward the desired effect and away from the method. Try to establish in subde, indirect ways that what you are doing holds no deception. Take every precaution beforehand to avoid being chased at show time.

Of coursc it is possible to go to extremes in this as well. You can construct a presentation that "doth protest too much". The best way I know to protect against such preplanned overproving is this: When you first conceive the effect in your imagination, picture what actions you would make if you were a real magician, and what actions are necessary for your acting to be clear. This is all pan of your mind movie (p. 53), and should come before any considerations of inediod. Then, without concessions to method, find one that fits your mind movie.

Next, within the framework of the mind movie, incorporate the little proofs that are ncccssary to avoid suspicions that lead to the method, again while remaining true to your ideal effect. If you examine each small proof carefully in your mind movie, without wavering from your pictured effect, you will find that only those proofs that fit naturally into die trick will be harmonious. These proofs will embed dieinselves into die trick without effort! This is important. These proofs should nor be extra embellishments, because then their possible benefits wi ll be offcer by the damage they do to the presentation. The proofs should follow nam rally from your actions. Dont "paste' proofs over the actions or alter the actions to accommodate proofs.

As an example, if you study "The Poltergeist Pack" you will see how I strive to disprove the theory that the deck is giiiimicked or prepared—nor by overproving, but by constructing die presentation to provide the proof incidentally in the course of the action. The proof is established with no increase in footwork, bccausc it is embedded naturally into the handling.

Construction of a trick can do a lot to disguise the trickery, to suggest that everything is honest. Think about it. What can you do to prevent someone from helieving you use the methods you do? Answer: Do everything you possibly can! In other words, run\ However, when you run, make sure it is you who has planned the coursc of the race, and that you have such a lead that no one will think of chasing you.

Such "running" during the construction phase of your work assures that 110 chase will occur during die performance phase. But to run effectively you musr envision every possible point at whicJi a chase might occur, then take every possible precaution to avoid running during your show. In other words, you do your running before you meet your audiences.

If the trick is well constructed you'll find you never have to run, never have to proclaim your innocence blatandy. Prove as much as you can using the structure of the effect, so that you need to do as litde proving as possible during performance.

"Don't run when you arent being chased" is excellent advice, but it can become unthinking dogma, and quite often does. It is quite reasonable to run during training, and thus rig the race. Why should you work to put all these details into a trick? Why make all this effort? Why run?

To win later, when it is important, with a graceful stroll!

CARD is chosen and slipped into a narrow cardboard sleeve char covers just its midsection. Then a large nail or spike is thrust through a hole in the center of the sleeve and right through the card. There can be no doubt that the card is pierced, as both its ends are in plain sight (Figure 1). Nevertheless, when the nail is withdrawn and the sclcctcd card removed from the sleeve, it is perfectly intact and can be examined.

self-working. I lad 1 thought of it at the time, I should have sold this item to Tenyo, who would have manufactured it in plastic and paid my drama school tuition for a year.

To explain the operation of the sleeve, I must open it up and show you its construction. It is most easily made from pieces ol heavy cardstock, and this is probably the least suspicious looking material to use. Of course, one could use plastic or veneer, even metal, but such materials might add to the proppish look of the gimmick, attracting added attention. The sleeve is assembled from the following seven pieces:

The front wall (PIECE A) is made of a rectangular piece of card stock measuring 27/s" by \7!z \ (Measurements assume that you will be using bridge-widdi playing

cards, which are the standard in Europe. If you wish to use poker-width cards, you will need to add an eighth of an inch to the width of the sleeve.) A hole about 3/s " in diameter is neady cut in the center of this piece, and the ends of two lengths of narrow, white, silky ribbon, roughly four inches long, are glued securely to the wall as shown in Figure 2.

The back wall (PIECE B) measures 27/3" by 2llz\ and has a hole through it matching that in the front wall (Piece A).This hole should align with the hole in Piece A, if that piece is laid squarely over Piece B, with bodi top edges and sides even. Piece B is sharply creased straight across its width, l7/s' down from the top edge, and a notch is cut into the bottom edge, so that when the bottom is folded up, it does not obstruct the hole. See Figure 3.

An inner partition (PIECE C) measures W by 278", and has a notch, similar to diat in Piece B, cut in its bottom edge, so that the piece does not block the holes going through the outer walls. See Figure 4.

Four side-spacers (PIECES D) are also needed. These are simply strips that measure 1W by V4" See Figure 5-

Now comes the assembly, which is shown in an exploded view in Figure 6. Glue mo of die side spacers (Pieces D) to Piece A on the side opposite that to which die ribbons are attached and aligned with the sides of Piece A.

Glue die ends o( Piece C to the Lop ends of diese spacers (Pieces D) and aligned with the sides and top of Piece A.

Glue the tops of the remaining two side-spacers (Pieces D) to the ends of Piece C, aligned with the first two side-spacers.

Fold up die bottom portion of Piece B and glue its sides to the bottom ends of the uppermost side spacers, Picccs D.

Open out Piece B, exposing die inside of the sleeve, thread die two loose ends ol the ribbons under Piccc C and glue them to the unattached end of Piece B on its outer side, as shown in Figure 7. When the sleeve is opened flat in this fashion, the ribbons should be taut. Fold Piece B closed again.

Glue two thin squares of leather with simple star traps cut in them to the outside of the sleeve, one covering the hole in Piece A, the other the hole in Piece B.To finish the sleeve, glue two thin panels of card stock to the outer surfaces of Pieces A and B, to cover the ribbon ends and edges of the leather patches. These finishing panels should, of course have holes corresponding to those in Pieces A and B.

You will need three more items to perform the penetration:

1) A large nail, about ten inches long, as the penetration tool.

2) A card to penetrate. This should be bridge width, to fit closely inside the sleeve. A heart card with a heart pip at center can provide some interesting patter possibilities.

3) The top portion of a duplicate card, with its bottom edge notched so that it can be slipped into the sleeve and concealed, without blocking the hole (Figure 8).

This you do, inserting it down into the spacc between the front wall (Piece A) and inner partition (Piece C).The bottom end of the partial card will catch the ribbons on either side and push them down to the bottom of the sleeve. Figure 9 shows a schematic representation of things inside the sleeve at this point.

9 10

You are now set to perform. My mention of a pic cc of duplicate card inside the frame betrays the fact that the card you will penetrate with the nail must be forccd. Do this (or, as 1 prefer, simply bring the required card to the top of the deck and casually remove it), take the card and insert it into the bottom of the sleeve (the point of entry is indicated in Figure 9 by an arrow). As you push the card into the sleeve, the internal ribbons guide it smoothly between the back wall (Piece B) and the inner partition (Piece C). At the same time, the top end of the card engages the ribbons and pulls them up with it, which in turn pushes up the partial card from its hiding place.The movements of the card and its stubby twin are synchronized to give a perfect illusion of the card passing dirough the sleeve, with the ends of both card and partial card aligned exacdy widi each odier. Thus die short piece covers the upper end of the real card. Figure 10 shows die arrangement of things inside the sleeve.

Hold the sleeve with the card through it in your left hand, in a position similar to mechanics grip: forefinger at the bottom end, other fingers at the right side, thumb at the left. In this position you can hold both the card and the sleeve securely. Tip the top end of the card slightly toward you to prevent the audience from seeing mo edges (full card and partial card). Then, with your right forefinger, engage the top end of the card and secretly pull it back, bending its upper portion away from the hole in the front of the sleeve. The back wall of the sleeve (Piece B) hinges inward and down as well, allowing the card to flex. Once you have bent the card back, you can release the forefingers pressure and hold the card in place with the heel of your left thumb and tips of your left second and third fingers.

You now take the nail in your right hand and push its point, from the front, through the hole in the sleeve. The nail passes over the upper end of the card without damaging it (Figure 11, a schematic representation, and Figure 12, a view from your vantage).

After displaying the apparently pierced card, slowly and dramatically withdraw the nail. #

Then use it to penetrate the card again, this time pushing the nail through from the back of the sleeve arid drawing it completely through from the lront. After this second magical penetration, permit the card to return to its normal unbent condition behind the partial card. Then, with your right forefinger, push both card and partial card down together into the sleeve, the partial card going back into its hiding place. Continue to draw the real card from the sleeve and display it intact. As you pull the card free, draw it forward against the front of the sleeve, reversing whatever warp might remain due to its secret backbend. loss die card casually onto the table, to be examined if anyone desires. This generosity does not extend to the sleeve of course., which must simply be put away. I suggest that you retain the nail as well, even though it is examinable. To make the card and nail available for inspection, but then to withhold the sleeve only focuses more suspicion on it. Instead, toss the card down without openly inviting examination, and put die sleeve and nail away. Then pick up the card, replace it in the deck and immediately begin another card effect.

HE performer shows a set of fifteen blocks that have card pips decorating their sides. These are laid out in a shallow box in a random arrangement, which is exhibited (Figure 1), then covered with the lid of the box.

A card is now selected and shown to the group. When the lid is next removed from the box, the blocks are seen to have magically arranged themselves into an image of the chosen card (Figure 2)!

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The card, as you might expect, is forced—and the blocks are secredy turned in the box to produce the face of the card. The manner in which they are turned is semi-automatic, and its simplicity is quite pleasing.

The blocks can be any manageable size. I made one set with blocks the size of large dice, about half an inch square. Two-inch blocks are about right for parlor performance. The blocks are made of wood, painted white and decorated with card pips. For small blocks, one can use Letraset press-on pips (available from magic suppliers); for larger blocks the pips can be spray-painted on, with the aid of stencils, or they can be cut from sticky-backed colored paper and stuck on. Some sides of the blocks are left without pips, to create blank spots in the design. I wont devoLe space detailing the arrangement of pips on the blocks, as this will change with the card you choose to force, and is not difficult to figure out once you understand the working of the trick.

The box used to contain die blocks is sliallow and has a "telescoping" lid that fits down over it, like a chocolate box. The box is slighdv deeper than die blocks, widi inside dimensions just a tiny bit larger than three blocks wide and six long. With two-inch blocks, die box measures approximately six inchcs by twelve.

The upper four rows of blocks are secredy hinged with short lengths of thread to the bouum of the box Each bJock has two threads glued to one side, and the opposite ends of these threads are sewn througli the bottom of the box. Actually, the blocks are attached to a rectangle of cardboard the size of the bottom of die box, and after everything is secure, you fix this into the box with doublc-sidcd tape.

To explain the arrangement of the blocks, let's begin with the first row alone. Set these blocks into the far end of your box, with random faces showing on the cops of the blocks, and with the sides diat will become pan of the design for die chosen card resting against the end of the box. Now use thread to hinge the near sides of the blocks to the bottom of the box (Figure 3). If you now tip the three blocks one turn toward you, the sides that make up the top of the selected card come to the top. This is the principle on which the production turns, if you will.

Turn the three blocks back, so that they again lie against the far end of the box. Lay in the second row of blocks, arranging them again with a random surface up and the planned surface turned forward. As they rest against the first row, hinge their near bottom edges to the box bottom as just described. Repeat this preparation with the third and fourth rows of blocks as well.

The fifth row of blocks is not attached to the bottom of the box, but lies free and with those sides up that constitute the bottom portion of the chosen card. With the blocks all slid up in the box, leaving an empty space at the near end, a random pattern of pips and blank spaces is seen [Figure 1 again). But if you now raise the far end of the box, the near row of blocks slides down to the inner end, the next row flops over into the space just vacated, followed by the third row, then the fouiih row and the fifth. (This action is shown schematically in Figure 4, where the forced-card surfaces are indicated in black, as arc die attached corners of the blocks.) And there is your chosen card facc!

Since the near row of blocks is free, you can remove them casually from the box at the .start of the routine to display them. TTicn return them, proper sides up, to their places in the box and let the audience see the random pattern of the blocks. (Note: The card you choosc to producc must be a spot card. Since the fifth row of blocks doesn't turn, the pattern of a court card visible on their upper surfaces would be too noticeable.)

One last construction detail: The height of die box bottom must be such that, when the lid is set completely on it, the blocks haven't quite enough room to turn.

During performance, af ter you have displayed the blocks from the free row and shown all oi them inside the box, you set the lid in place, but leave it elevated just enough to permit the blocks ro turn. Shake the box a bit, making the blocks inside rattle, and at the same time give the box a tip, sending the blocks secredy sliding and turning to form the facc of the card you are about to force.

Nothing further need be said about what follows. I will, though, mendon an additional idea I used to manage the force card when using the litde close-up set of blocks. If you wish to perform this effect after doing one or more card tricks, you will need to retain the force card in a known position in the deck or to locate it and maneuver it into position. Depending on the tricks you choose to perform, both of diese procedures can be troublesome. My solution was to keep die force card under the box of blocks in my prop case. When die time came to perform "Rubiks Card", 1 brought out the box, with the card hidden beneath it, and set it briefly over the deck in my hand while 1 removed the lid and set it aside. I then took the box into my other hand and placed the deck onto the table, with the added force card now on rop. From here the trick continued as described. After the facc of the selected card was revealed and the trick concluded, I momentarily set the box over the deck once more, and stole away the extra force card (which I had controlled to the top) beneath it. The box and hidden card were returned to my prop case and everything was reset for the next show.

I should mention that in 1977 I showed diis trick to Jose de la Torre who, widi my permission, developed a similar effect diat offered several changes of the designs on die blocks. He went on to market diis in die early 1980s as Wise Dice.

(^^StJ NE day, some dmc ago, I came across rhis advice in a certain magic book: "If !s!Kn£/I you want to improve your show, make as much eye contact as possible with as many members of the audience as you can."

n^E^-v Many people will tell you that eye contact is a most important tool when performing, and I agree. However, I don't think that haphazard use of eye contact is a good thing, and to date the only discussion I'm aware of that touches on this topic appears in Al Schneider's book Al Schneitler on Close-up (p. 6-7).

I think that incorrect use of eye contact can be a great mistake tor a performer. I don't believe that it automatically increases appreciation of you and your show. There are moments and situations during which not looking people in the eye is just as important, times when one must do everything possible to avoid eye contact. I discovered this intuitively long ago. However, it was only a few years back that I had an experience that made me clearly understand much more about eye contact and its effect on people. I made three discoveries:

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