Nu 2

Published on Friday, April 29, 2005 in , , , , , ,

Alain Nu's 2nd special has now aired (and will repeated back to back on Sunday with his first special - check your local listings).

The one routine that caught my eye on this special was the prediction done for the girl who wanted to visit Rome. Alain asked her to choose an age at which she imagined taking her dream trip to Rome. He then scribbled something down, and only after he was finished, did he ask the girl for her age.

He turned around the sheet, and the number was nowhere to be found on the sheet of several numbers. Or rather, it was everywhere, as the numbers were arranged in a manner such that they totaled her chosen number (44, BTW) in all the row, columns, diagonals, four corners and more!

It's not my place to say how he was able to obtain the right number, but the magic square (as they are known) make for fascinating study. If you're interested in learning more about magic squares, here are some great links:

Grand Unified Square Theory (My review of Harry Lorayne's April 2005 Genii article on magic squares)
Mark Farrar's e-book on Magic Squares
Mark Farrar's Magic Squares pages
Grogono's Magic Square site
My Mentat Wiki article on Magic Squares



Published on Tuesday, April 26, 2005 in , ,

TLC is celebrating "Magic Week" this week. The programs that are the highlight this week are the David Blaine specials, and a new 4-part series by performer Alain Nu.

Alain Nu's series, which focuses on mentalism, premiered last Sunday, and will be repeated Wednesday night, April 27th, at 10 PM on TLC (check your local listings).

Especially of interest to readers of this blog on his first special is the double memory-feat closer. Alain takes several drives down Lombard St (known as "the crookedest street in the world") in San Francisco, to memorize the turns and the timing. He also memorizes a shuffled deck of cards. Finally, he is blindfolded, and simultaneously drives down Lombard St while recalling the exact order of the deck!

Was this a real memory feat? A psuedo-memory feat? Both? That's not my place to say.

Was it well done? My only criticism of the special on this aspect is that the conditions of the original deck memorization wasn't shown. As he's getting ready to start the blindfolded drive, the card feat is introduced almost as an afterthought. I might have preferred showing the memorization (at least part of it) in the middle of the special, possibly as part of the build-up to the finale.

For what was seen, however, I imagine he amazed the great majority of people who watched the special. I know I'll be keeping an eye on his future specials.


Other's Memories

Published on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 in , , ,

From the Mnemonics performances- are they still amazing? Magic Cafe thread, which I talked about in an earlier post, Dr. Wilson has a great new take on an old classic.

Hidden at the bottom of this post is Dr. Wilson's handling of the classic list memorization of 20-30 items:

I no longer ask for objects, I ask for things from their memory. We collect all of their memories, then I make them mine as well. We have all shared something, which gets away from the freak show that mnemonics demonstrations can become unless handled carefully.

It's always a challenge to get people interested in what you're doing, and gems like this can help greatly.



Published on Wednesday, April 20, 2005 in , ,

Feats like the magazine memory act are classic. However, to my knowledge, this feat hasn't been updated for modern media.

Here's an idea I'm toying with at the moment: remembering a DVD box set.

Most DVDs have a scene selection feature, which allows you to jump to various points in the movie. Usually (and helpfully, for our purposes), the scenes are also usually numbered.

To memorize a single DVD, you would create your links from the number to important elements of the scene, including characters, initial dialogue, and so on. To memorize a box set, you would simply memorize the scene number as a 3-digit number. The 13th scene in the 3rd movie in the series would be remembered as number 313, for example.

Memorizing a DVD has one major advantage. Most memorization teachniques are heavily dependent on visualization techniques, and you can't get much more visual than a DVD. Once you've memorized a few elements of a given scene, many other important elements will quickly come to mind, especially if you've chosen a favorite movie series.

In performance, you would have someone choose one of the movies in the series, and have them put it in the DVD player. While the DVD is loading, you have them pick a number from 1 to whatever the highest numbered scene in the DVD is. You then describe how the scene begins, and who says what before they can get to the appropriate scene.

This idea has several presentational advantages. First, many people in your audience are familiar with the concept of memorizing movies. They themselves probably have movies in which they can recall whole scenes line by line, so you don't have to introduce them to a new concept. What should be new and amazing to your audience is the level of detail to which you have done this with your favorite movies.

Your stage persona can be reinforced by your choice of movies. Whether you perform this feat with Indiana Jones, Willie Wonka or Romeo and Juliet can really say something about who your stage persona is.

One of the big obstacles to doing this routine in a full stage performance is, of course, the copyrights on the movies themselves. I'd imagine any professional who wishes to use this in any piece in their stage show would have to get in contact with the studio and their legal dept. first. If you don't perform professionally, however, I can't see much trouble in performing this at get-togethers with friends and family.

Several presentational ideas for a memorized DVD routine could include:
* ESP feat: Spectator chooses DVD and scene, but keeps the choices secret. The performer secretly obtains the information, and then "divines" the nature of the chosen scene.
* Trade Show routine: If your client has information about their product or service available on a DVD, you can memorize that DVD and sell the product/service as part of your memory routine. If your client happens to be someone like MGM or Paramount announcing their hottest new release, this works even better.


Memory Effects Galore!

Published on Sunday, April 17, 2005 in , , , , , ,

For some time now, I've kept a list of where to find memory-related routines as I ran across them. I've shared it here and there, but I've never really had a way to regularly share an updated list until this blog.

The list itself is broken up into four major sections:

1) Articles - These are articles about different approaches to memory and mnemonics.
2) Legitimate Memory Demonstrations - Just what the name implies, of course.
3) Covert Use of Memory Technique - These are routines in which memory is used in secret, rather than as an open display.
4) Simulated Memory Demonstrations - These routines that give the appearance of requiring a trained memory, but actually don't.

The file is called MemoryEffects.pdf (free Adobe Acrobat Reader required), and will always be available as the first item with the links section in the sidebar, along with the date at which it was last updated.

This file is only a list of where to find memory-related routines. The routines themselves are not taught in this list. The format of each item on the list is as follows:

"Title" - Description of routine or article, Book/Magazine/Resource where it can be found, Publisher and/or author

At this writing, the file is approximately 100K, and is 21 pages long, so there's plenty to explore. I hope you find this list as useful as I have.


When It Rains, It Pours

Published on Monday, April 11, 2005 in , , , , ,

Thanks to several people who share the same interests, I have plenty to share with you in this post.

First, ThomasBerger directed me to Anton Zellman's website. Anoton is a trade show performer who makes his living by doing presentations involving memory work.

Especially intriguing for readers of this blog is the fact that you can actually see a full presentation which shows how Anton draws a crowd (QuickTime or Windows Media Player), demonstrates his perfect recall (QuickTime or Windows Media Player), teaches the audience how to remember names (QuickTime or Windows Media Player), works in the client's product (QuickTime or Windows Media Player), and concludes with a mind reading demonstration (QuickTime or Windows Media Player).

Speaking of trade shows, in Tony Andruzzi's Magazine Memory Act, he mentions that one of the most lucrative uses for this classic act is to memorize a client's catalog. You start by handing out a catalog to everyone (tell me a client wouldn't love this act already!), and asking them to choose any page. You then recall and pitch everything that is on that page! Many trade show workers have routine in which they're able to work in the client's product, but how many acts have you seen in which the routine IS the selling of the product?

Moving into the relam of pure entertainment, we have Oleg Roitman, "The Human Calculator" who does street performances involving mental math. According to his site, his act mainly features the classic feat of giving the day of the week for any date.

Any one who has an interest in math and the sciences, especially in the recreational aspects, has come across the name Martin Gardner more than just a few times. Last November, on the occasion of Martin Gardner's (it just seems wrong to write "Martin's" or "Mr. Gardner's") 90th birthday, the Mathematical Association of America (MAA) did a feature article about him.

As an aside, readers of this blog may enjoy the MAA columns, especially Cut The Knot and Card Colm columns. Thanks to the Magic Cafe's own Balducci for the MAA links.

I'll be back soon, but these links should give you food for thought until my next blog entry.



Published on Monday, April 11, 2005 in , , , , ,

There's a great trick in the Book "Ah-Ha!" by David Harkey & Eric Anderson, called "OutSmart". In this routine, you ask the person for the name of their very favorite playing card. Once they've named it, you spell a phrase about their favorite card, and the spelling finsihes right on the named card!

Unfortunately, as it's written, there is a certain something with which you can be caught, that gives the trick away. Fortunately, this certain something can be eliminated by using memory work. Getting rid of the special something makes the trick more open, and makes you feel less guilty.

I've been doing OutSmart this way since about 6 months after the book was first released. If you like applause, don't do the trick this way. The response is most often stunned silence.


Free Festival of Memory?

Published on Friday, April 08, 2005 in , , ,

At Cameron Crowe's website, he reprints his 1976 Playboy article and interview with David Bowie (Warning: Discussion includes mature content). Included in the article reprint is this interesting paragraph:

My talks with Bowie began as far back as early 1975. Few of our sessions were marathon affairs. No matter how stimulating the conversation, after any longer than an hour of sitting still, Bowie could barely contain himself. 'Can we just take a short break?' he'd blurt. Not waiting for a reply, he would then shoot to his feet and dart in another direction: sometimes to write a song or two, other times to dash off a painting. In one instance, he ended a session by asking for a random list of 20 items. I gave it to him. He studied the list for ten seconds, handed it back and recited it from memory. Backward and forward.


Thank you, Doug!

Published on Thursday, April 07, 2005 in ,

In my website referrals, I've started to notice some visitors coming from a new location, the magic section of Doug Dyment's Web Portal.

Thank you for adding me, Doug!

For those who haven't been to it yet, Doug's Portal is a collection of links that is well worth exploring.


Invisible Deck Mnemonic

Published on Thursday, April 07, 2005 in , , ,

In the Invisible Deck set-up, it's not difficult, with practice, to be able to determine which suits and values correspond to each other. The one difficulty that often arises, however, is the arrangement of the Kings, which don't follow the exact same pattern as the other cards. Many magicians have to double-check their thinking in order to make sure that the Invisible Deck is displayed to show the proper King at the finish.

I used to have difficulty with this myself, until I developed a handy mnemonic years ago that helped clarify what King was where. All you have to do is think of a king's robe. How does that help? Simple! R.O.B.E. is an acronym for "Red Odd, Black Even".

This means that in the standard Invisible Deck arrangement, you'll find the red Kings arranged with the odd cards, and the black Kings arranged with the even cards.

It's a simple mnemonic, and has helped me numerous times in performance. I hope you find it as useful as I have.


Bird Watcher

Published on Sunday, April 03, 2005 in , ,

Tenyo has a reputation among magicians as a maker of cheap plastic tricks that are only good for kids. While this reputation may be largely deserved, there are some hidden gems in the mix, as well.

One of their tricks that may interest readers of this blog is Bird Watcher. This is a two-phase routine in which you determine the total number of birds shown on 6 cards (each two-sided with different numbers of birds), first by apparently counting them as fast as Dustin Hoffman's character counts toothpicks in the movie Rain Main, and while sealed in a box in the second phase.

For those who enjoy the basic presentation, Tenyo has also posted Tomas Blomberg's additional phase, which is meant to be performed between the two phases taught in the instructions (the routine will only make sense if you already have the routine).

Yes, as with many other Tenyo products, the cards and the box are made from plastic. In this case, though, it actually works for the routine, because the cards can be justified as flash cards used to teach kids counting. As a matter of fact, an excellent presentation for the routine could involve how your parents found out that you were a little different from other kids by using these very flash cards, which you've kept to this day for sentimental reasons (and if you kept them from when you were a kid, they'd have to be plastic to survive this long, wouldn't they?).

The principle behind the trick isn't new, original or earth-shaking, and you won't strain your brain performing it. Rather, it's a simple mathematical principle presented in a potentially charming presentation (on which you can keep your focus).