March 29th, 2004 4:54pm
|On the surface, this effect seems straightforward: By a mental process of elimination, a volunteer arrives at a single playing card, which just happens to be identical to a playing card produced from an envelope that has been in view the entire time. The method used to achieve this effect, however, is anything but straightforward.
The procedure begins reasonably enough. The verbal gambit employed to eliminate cards is actually rather clever. But when it comes to the central prop in this drama -- the envelope -- complications have been layered upon complications until the result is something less than the sum of its parts.
The instructions state that the envelope is "extremely normal looking" and that it "should now look exactly like any normal envelope that's been mailed to you by a friend." But this envelope looks like nothing I have ever received in the mail. It's small and squareish, as if someone lopped off more than half of a standard envelope and kept the bigger piece for himself. It looks odd. And in performance, there's a one-in-four chance that the performer will need to turn this envelope upside down and open the bottom, a peculiarity that the audience cannot fail to notice because the return address and cancelled stamp on the front of the envelope clearly indicate its orientation. This issue is addressed in the instructions with the following sentence: "Keep in mind that lots of normal folks address envelopes so the address does not line up with the flap . . ." That may be true, but is this a doubt I want passing through the minds of my audience during my performance?
There's just no getting around the fact that, at a critical juncture, the focus of the entire audience is on the envelope. The envelope is not "normal looking." It's a gizmo, a contraption. (The card that comes out of the envelope doesn't exactly look "normal" either.) And after two hours of wrestling with this contraption in front of a mirror, I could not get it to behave properly. I'm not saying that no one can make this thing work. I couldn't get it to work -- not consistently. Using this item in front of an audience would make me a nervous wreck.
It's clear that a number of individuals put some creative thought and problem-solving into this effect. But as I understand it, the presence of a deck of cards in the Ultra Mental Deck is not a problem. It's a solution.
Product info for One and Only Trick
Author: Paul Harris & Tony MaClarenAverage Rating: (2)Retail Price: $19.95
You remove a flat, invitation-size envelope from your pocket and dump out an "invisible deck". You direct a spectator to freely "destroy" these imaginary cards until only a single card remains. Let's say the Queen of Diamonds.
The spectator tosses the invisible Queen of Diamonds toward the envelope. You. then slowly and cleanly remove the "one & only " card in the envelope. It's the spectator's "one &only" Queen of Diamonds.
- The Envelope is clearly seen to contain no other cards after the "one &only" card is removed.
- The card in the envelope is always the exact card named by the spectator.
- Uses just one envelope.
- No palming, switching, or loading of the envelope.
- Resets in seconds.
- Perform sitting, standing or while aimlessly wandering around.