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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #1 
As part of my Magic Wednesday attempts to rebuild my repertoire, I have been going to the local senior center once a week and going table to table during lunch service. I usually show two tricks: one that pushes me a bit, and one that I feel completely safe with.

So, today the safety trick was the invisible deck. And, I ran into a situation that I hadn't encountered before, but that might happen again.  I was near the end of the trick, where you ask the spectator assistant what card he had "seen."

His response was "what if I don't tell you?" When I didn't have a very good answer, he continued: "OK, I'll play along...it was the 3 of diamonds."

I went ahead and did the amazing reveal that the three of diamonds was the only card facing the wrong way in my deck too.

Then he said: "Actually, I was just messing with you. It wasn't really the 3 of diamonds, it was the Ace of Spades."

While most of the group at the table had seemed to be enjoying the routine, this really derailed things, and I didn't know how to recover. Obviously, the first solution would be for me to be more careful about picking "assistants" in the future. But, how would you handle this? Does anyone have any suggestions for me?
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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #2 
I've run into similar situations where older folks don't remember their card.  My advice ... Don't do card tricks for seniors!
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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #3 
Arthur,

I guess I didn't explain things very well. First, these seniors are not in a nursing home. This is a center where active seniors in the community come for lunch and then to PLAY CARDS afterwards. I actually love doing card tricks for them. Secondly, in the Invisible Deck trick, there is no actual card, the spectator just thinks of one. In this case, the spectator intentionally changed his mind after the conclusion of the trick intentionally to screw me up. But, normally, most of the seniors (including the others at his table) are excellent audiences. As a senior myself, I would caution against stereotyping all of us as incapable of understanding card tricks (or anything else).  
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chris w

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Reply with quote  #4 
There are ways of possibly heading it off, including being more careful about picking assistants, making sure you're not setting an adversarial tone in general, doing something like Darwin Ortiz's "Do As I Did" where the card exists reversed in the spectator's own deck (where it can be shown) rather than simply in their mind, etc. But some people just like to be difficult and there might not have been a way to head it off in this case.

Once it got to the point of "Actually, I was just messing with you..." in your story, I think I would have launched into some OTHER trick using the Ace of Spades ("Great! The Ace of Spades, did you say? You're not going to believe this, but...") so that that awkwardness wouldn't have just been hanging out there as the ending.
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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #5 

Sorry, Bill, I thought you meant nursing homes.  And being a senior citizen myself, I’m not stereotyping anybody.  

All the senior centers I’ve performed at were populated by elderly folks who have medical problems and trouble remembering things … especially the names of selected cards.  So in my experience, they reacted much better to effects using colorful props (similar to kidshow tricks).  Incidentally, as un-PC as it sounds, I always got a raucous reaction with the bra trick, using a nurse volunteer!  Residents and staff alike found it hilarious.

P.S.  I know what the Invisible Deck is … However, I don’t have a solution for any situation where an audience member tries to fake you out by changing or lying about the name of a chosen card.


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chris w

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Reply with quote  #6 
Also, it's very cool that you're putting yourself in a position to perform at least once a week. Easy to talk about, harder to do, so good on you for actually doing it. I'm sure you are enhancing many lunchtimes!
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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #7 
Just a couple of thoughts:

Having the volunteer just think of a card risks exactly the situation that you encountered - the uncooperative volunteer.  You can be a bit pre-emptive by introducing the trick with a line like "George, in a few minutes I'm going to ask you to name a card.  It can be your favourite card, or your lucky card, or it can be a card you just think of on the spur of the moment.  You can choose it now or you can choose it when I ask you to name it.  Are you good with that?"  This way the volunteer is committing to name the card right from the start.

Also, when they name a card you can banter a bit with them.  Something like "Any reason you chose that card?  That's a very rare choice - only the most intelligent, sophisticated people choose the 8 of Clubs.  Do you want to change your mind?   Are you sure?  Because when you go home tonight, you are going to be wondering what would have happened if you named another card.  The ... Eight ... of ... Clubs.   Well that is just incredible, because ..."  as you go into the reveal.

The whole idea is to make the naming of the card the most important part of their contribution.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #8 
You are not limited to finding one card so find the ace too. Bonus. It turns the tables on him then.
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magicfish

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Reply with quote  #9 
Let's remember that the Invisible Deck is a Don Alan presentation utilizing the Ultra Mental Pack. There are many different presentations possible with this pack and we are limited only by our imagination. Maybe Don Alan's presentation isnt best for many of us. Is there a pool table there? Have a deck spread all over the table snd have someone shoot the cue ball - it will land on a random card. Voila.

Have three people create a card. One names colour, suit, value. Voila.

Have two shuffled decks dealt simultaneously face up stud style until two perfectly matching cards are turned at the same time. Enter Ultra Mental- Voila.

The possibilities are many. Ultra Mental is a versatile tool.
Don Alan's use of it was great.
Let's see what else we can come up with.

But nothing wrong with doing Don's effect. Robin gives great advice above. Good luck sir. You are doing a great thing.
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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #10 
I really appreciate all the fine advice that you guys are giving me. I should say that I only refer to it as an invisible deck because most magicians will recognize it. I do have my own presentation which is quite different from the excellent one by Don Alan. There were other adversarial cues that I should have recognized prior to my picking this particular guy for an "assistant." And his animosity continued after the trick. I don't want to go into all the details, but it was apparent that he really did not want to be entertained but to assert his authority by creating an argument with me (which I did not engage in). 

You guys have great ideas. Ray's notion of simply going through the deck again and showing the Ace of Spades made me practically slap myself in the forehead. Also, Chris' idea of launching into another trick with the Ace. Great ideas that, in the moment, I simply did not come up with.

I really love Robin's idea about making the naming of the card itself "the most important part of their contribution." I think this could head off the problem in most instances and I intend to write it into my script.

But, I must say that this whole incident reveals a rather warped side of my personality. Today, I performed for about 25 tables of seniors at the center. Afterwards, I went over to the public library (where my wife works) and did the routine a number of times for the librarians. All of the audiences had a great time, except for that one guy. Out of well over a hundred spectators, i had a bad experience with one. And yet, for most of the rest of the afternoon, he has been the one that has occupied my thoughts. Pretty pathetic, huh?  Oh well, I am only 66 years old, perhaps one day I will get over the notion that you can entertain them all.
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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #11 
Not warped at all (unless I and every other teacher on the planet are also warped).  I get great teaching evaluations every year.  Which ones do I remember?  The extremely rare ones that say "I hate this course - you suck."

It's a universal phenomenon.   Here's one of my favourite cartoon strips:

http://www.deathbulge.com/comics/155


Keep on keeping on.  Feel sorry for the guy, but don't give him free parking in your head.
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Robin Dawes

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Reply with quote  #12 
Regarding "coming up with a solution on the spot".  In my life I've run into lots of people who love to tell stories about how they were in a tight situation and they came up with a brilliant solution that solved the problem perfectly. 

I call them "me-roes" because every story they tell ends up with them being the hero who saves the day.  I knew an ex-military officer who clearly should have had a chest full of medals based on the number of his stories in which his quick thinking and inspiration saved the lives of everyone in his unit.  It actually became a bit pathetic after a while - I realized that he had a really low opinion of himself and he was trying to shore up his self-esteem.

It's a common trope in fiction: strap McGuyver to a ticking time-bomb and he'll invent a way to defuse it with a Kleenex tissue and a green onion.   In real life ... not so much.  There are lots of studies that show that in a situation where we feel time pressure - such as in the middle of a performance - our ability to solve even simple problems is impaired.  This is exactly the basis of addictive games like Tetris and 2048, and the popular group game "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes".

Here's an arithmetic-practice site that asks you to solve a bunch of simple problems while a curtain slowly descends over the problems:  https://www.transum.org/Maths/Activity/Beat_The_Clock/ - have fun!

The point is that when you encounter an unexpected problem during performance and you don't invent a clever solution on the spot, you should never feel inadequate.  But you should do exactly what Bill has done here: reflect on the situation and think about what to do next time the problem occurs.

"I should have ..." is self-defeating because it reinforces the idea that you failed.  But "Next time I will ..." is positive and confidence-building.

This topic has been discussed in a couple of threads on the Forum.  Here's one:  http://www.themagiciansforum.com/post/ok-you-have-messedup-your-trick-what-do-you-do-8247497

I am a huge fan of Louis Pasteur's saying: "Chance favours the prepared mind"
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Dawes
Regarding "coming up with a solution on the spot".  In my life I've run into lots of people who love to tell stories about how they were in a tight situation and they came up with a brilliant solution that solved the problem perfectly. 

I call them "me-roes" because every story they tell ends up with them being the hero who saves the day.  I knew an ex-military officer who clearly should have had a chest full of medals based on the number of his stories in which his quick thinking and inspiration saved the lives of everyone in his unit.  It actually became a bit pathetic after a while - I realized that he had a really low opinion of himself and he was trying to shore up his self-esteem.

It's a common trope in fiction: strap McGuyver to a ticking time-bomb and he'll invent a way to defuse it with a Kleenex tissue and a green onion.   In real life ... not so much.  There are lots of studies that show that in a situation where we feel time pressure - such as in the middle of a performance - our ability to solve even simple problems is impaired.  This is exactly the basis of addictive games like Tetris and 2048, and the popular group game "Keep Talking and Nobody Explodes".

Here's an arithmetic-practice site that asks you to solve a bunch of simple problems while a curtain slowly descends over the problems:  https://www.transum.org/Maths/Activity/Beat_The_Clock/ - have fun!

The point is that when you encounter an unexpected problem during performance and you don't invent a clever solution on the spot, you should never feel inadequate.  But you should do exactly what Bill has done here: reflect on the situation and think about what to do next time the problem occurs.

"I should have ..." is self-defeating because it reinforces the idea that you failed.  But "Next time I will ..." is positive and confidence-building.

This topic has been discussed in a couple of threads on the Forum.  Here's one:  http://www.themagiciansforum.com/post/ok-you-have-messedup-your-trick-what-do-you-do-8247497

I am a huge fan of Louis Pasteur's saying: "Chance favours the prepared mind"


Kind of reminds me of the saying luck is where opportunity meets preparation.
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Bmat

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Reply with quote  #14 
The good news is, you won't run into this often.  I too was going to say the response could have been, Really, are you sure?  and when they say yup, you could reply and I was messing with you, and reveal the second card.  But I do like the preemptive strike and banter with them a bit. That alone will put the spectators on your side and not create a puzzle for them. 
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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #15 
This discussion has been so useful for me. Thanks again guys. Blathermist, I do think the audience member was trying to be confrontational. I didn't report all of the conversation so as not to be too very verbose (a failing of mine), but I can tell you that the first thing he said to me (interrupting the first trick) was "What are you selling?" "Nothing, I'm just here to entertain you for a few minutes." "Uh-huh, but what are you selling? What's your motivation for doing this?" etc. 

Now the dumbest thing I did was thinking that I could win him over and choosing him to help me with the routine. I suspect he would have continued to interrupt and demand that the attention be on him if I had not chosen him, but I still think that would have been better.

That said, I love what I will from now on think of as "The Philomena Strategy." Thanks so much.
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Bob Farmer

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Reply with quote  #16 
Have them write the name of the card on a 20 dollar bill, then they fold the bill up. Touch the bill to the outside of the card case as if it's causing some kind of magic to happen. Tell them that by doing so the deck now knows the card. If the deck is wrong, they can keep the money. Unfold the bill to reveal the name. Etc. 
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EVILDAN

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Reply with quote  #17 
I used to work on a computer help desk. You could have great calls all day but that one, just like your guy, could ruin your day. Thinking about it now, it's probably because you want to create a magical moment for everyone and you failed. But the thing is, there was no way of winning because that person wasn't going to let you win.

But here are a few thoughts.

1. You have a second invisible deck in a different color wrapped up in brown paper with the words "in case of emergency" written on it. So the guy says that wasn't really his card it was the Ace of spades. You get him to confirm that. "Really? The Ace of spades? You're not messing with me? The Ace of spades was really your card? Well, then congratulations, you got me." Shake his hand, Pat him on the back. "Oh but wait..." Take out deck. Place on table for all to read. Go into finale.

2. I forget who told me about this but I have one. Buy a blank Phil deck. Instead of Phil you put numbers on the backs of the deck. Then you designate one number as your "force" for lack of a better word. So now the guy trips you up. You get him to verify that the Ace of spades was actually his card. And this is so if he decides to do it again people realize he's just being a pain. You look at him and say something like, "You know, when I saw you, the first thing i thought was don't use this guy, because he's a 17. But I brushed that aside and said no way this guy's a 17. But you know what, my first instincts were dead on. Let me show you. You take out the Phil deck and show a post it note stuck on it that you wrote: "I think this person is a 17." Show that all the cards are numbered on the backs with different numbers. Then you turn the deck face up, run through until you find the Ace of spades. There it is, your card the Ace of spades. You slowly turn it over to show that the back has the number 17 written on it. See, I was right about you. You are a 17. That'll shut him up.
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Bob Farmer

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Reply with quote  #18 
Those are excellent ideas, especially the second one. 
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Socrates

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Reply with quote  #19 
This topic is worthy of our time and study. There are so many things to consider when it comes to these kinds of situations. When working it is a great idea to keep commonly named cards to hand.  Why not always have a regular deck in your pocket with an Ace of Spades reversed, another card in your wallet, another in your back pocket, one in a coin envelope etc. etc.

Creating contingency plans is something we touched on recently in a discussion on how to prepare for mistakes.  Running through all the potential problems which could occur, and devising solutions allows for you to be flexible in the moment.  Push-button, paint-by-numbers type tricks can make us lazy, but planning for mistakes is key to dealing with unforeseen issues such as the one you encountered.

Perhaps the more important question is to consider how the situation came about in the first place.  You have touched on the guys personality and attitude already in your later responses but what if TV shows by folks such as Penn & Teller prime people to think this way, these guys may be part of the problem... think about it, the man you encountered did not want to be fooled, in fact he wanted to fool you - and he succeeded!

How can we set the scene for our magic in a way that disarms this attitude?  There are many ways to do so, but it may be worth considering how our words and initial approach can affect the situation  Do we learn each person's name, are we standing whilst they were sitting?  Perhaps we could have asked if it was cool for us to join them, maybe we could get the sceptical person on our side instead of making them the centre of attention - here's one example, do a lie-detector trick and have the sceptic try and spot the tells of the one who is lying... now they're on your team [wink]

Of course you asked for specific outs, but how about creating safe-measures in the first place - Bob Farmer already mentioned having them write their thought-of card on a bill... you could glimpse their thought-off card in some manner or another.  How about having them tell everyone the card they are thinking of before you produce the deck for the finale - you could even have them concentrate on their card, and try to 'really' read their mind - if you know the commonly named cards, take a stab at one of them... you may well get a hit, now you've got a miracle moment - if not, so what!  You got the gimmicked deck as an out.

This is a topic close to my heart and one I have given a great deal of thought to - these are a few tips to start you off, hope you find them of use. 

Soc

"Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something" - Morihei Ueshiba

p.s One final tip is to find an improvisation/acting class, or workshop and get involved.  You'll learn to work in the moment, and adapt to circumstances in no time at all; it may well the wisest investment you can make in magic.
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Bill Guinee

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Reply with quote  #20 
Thank you all for sharing your wisdom with me. I would like to give you an update on the situation.

Today(Wednesday) was my day to perform at the Senior Center again. Although I had prepared for problems all week, I still went with some trepidation and uncertainty of what I would do if the guy was there again.

After I worked my first table, the table where the guy was sitting last week called me over. He wasn't there. When I got there, they said they wanted to apologize for the way I was treated last week. The men at that table said that they had all been embarrassed by his behavior and were embarrassed for me as well. They went on to say that in their opinion, the guy was an a------. They asked me to please not skip performing for them just because of what he did.

So, it turns out, that sometimes when a heckler causes you trouble, it is not you that looks bad.

By the way, after all the practice I did this week to be ready for every eventuality: challenges, hecklers, sleight of hand mistakes, etc., none of my solutions were needed. Nonetheless, I think spending the time working on these eventualities was a really good exercise even if it was a kind of reverse Peter Principle: when you plan for everything that could go wrong, nothing will.
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RayJ

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Reply with quote  #21 
Glad to hear that they supported you.  That means they like you and your magic.  Also glad to hear that the performance went well!
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #22 
Good news, Bill! Thanks for the update, and keep it up!

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