Sunday, April 23, 2006

Jim Sisti's Mixed Symbols

There's a card trick as old as the hills, which I think I read in a Martin Gardner book, and that usually means it's so old that it's new again. Not only that, Jim Sisti disguises this principle with flavor and style, and it comes out a mentalism routine. (Some might call it mental magic, but I shan't quibble.)

It starts like a card trick, and this can lead your volunteer into a false sense of security. But the cards are ESP cards, and they're jumbo sized. Not super-jumbo, but large enough to create a sense of discontinuity in their hands.

I'll describe the effect as the documentation describes it, then I'll describe what the volunteer seems to remember. They are two different things.

"EFFECT - The performer hands five ESP cards, each bearing a different symbol, to a spectator and requests that he remember one. The spectator is then asked to shuffle the cards. The magician takes the cards back and, after an apparently fair mixing procedure, correctly divines the selected symbol without even looking at the faces."

WHAT THEY SEEM TO REMEMBER: The performer hands five cards to me and I remember one. Then I shuffle them. Then he shows me which one I was thinking of.

Yes, I tried this a few times -- including one time with someone who was familiar with the aforementioned "old trick." In this new guise, it flew right past him. When I recapped "Now, you thought of one of these symbols. You shuffled and mixed up these cards. Now - let me see your eyes...." they believed what I said. They forgot or ignored - or SOMETHING - that I had taken the cards back at one point.

It's a simple routine, and an effective one. Jim even manages to get all the instructions in fewer than two 5 1/2 x 8 pages (we've known since the days of Magic Menu that he knows the value of conciseness). I don't have the slightest idea how much Jim charges for this. It's available only at his lectures, which would be well worth attending at any rate. If he comes through your town, don't miss him -- and don't miss this routine.

--Gran'pa Chet
"If ya thinks ya is right, ya deserfs credit. Even if ya is wrong." --Gus Segar (through Popeye)


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