4 Nearly Self Working Card Tricks (PDF) by John Gelasi $10.00
15 pages, 2 photographs
Available at: http://gelasimagic.weebly.com
I enjoyed John Gelasis Just Cards and recommended it in my review on 1/18/12. So I was excited to devour his latest offering.
The author writes pretty well and does a good job of teaching the material. The text is unfortunately riddled with numerous typographical errors.
He duly cites his inspirational sources, but he misses some crediting.
Mr. Gelasi includes links to video performances of each effect. This is an illuminating complement to the text. I hope that more authors include this valuable feature in their published work.
Ive included those links in this review. I encourage you to watch them.
The author states, I personally think that self-working card effects can be the strongest effects to use on an audience. Audiences are bound to comment on your use of sleight of hand to accomplish the effects during your performance. However, the use of the methods involved in self-working effects eliminate most, if not all of the sleight of hand that some audiences are accustomed to seeing magicians do.
I have news for Mr. Gelasi. Audiences are not supposed to see a magician executing sleight of hand. The work is supposed to be invisible! If they are accustomed to seeing sleight of hand, they have been watching technically inept performers.
It seems that when Mr. Gelasis uses the term nearly self working, he is referring to methods that are sleight-free or sleight-light. The term doesnt seem to refer to the amount of physical work (procedure) required to achieve the effect.
My notion of the term nearly self working or semi-automatic is broader. Not only is the method sleight-free but, by definition, the effect must essentially work itself. Thanks to stacks or key cards or whatever, the performer is required to do very little work to bring the effect to a successful conclusion.
For a nearly self working card trick to appeal to me, it must possess three methodological attributes. The performers handling of the cards should be minimal. The procedures should not be repetitive or protracted. And the procedures should be normal in appearance.
Now that youre hip to my criteria, lets dig in.
Dot Dot Dot: A participant cuts a small packet of cards from the top of the face-down deck and tables it off to the side. The performer turns the deck face-up and the participant cuts two small packets of cards from the face of the deck and tables them face-down. The deck is tabled face-down.
The participant takes one of the small packets and executes a dealing/sorting procedure to select a red or black card. She selects a red card.
She executes the same procedure with the other small packet to select either Hearts or Diamonds. She selects Diamonds.
The participant counts the cards in the packet she initially cut off the deck. There are seven cards. She turns over the top card of the deck and it is the Seven of Diamonds.
The author states that he doesnt know who created one method that he employs. Being a helpful curmudgeon, I will inform Mr. Gelasi that the method in question is attributed to Jack McMillen. He employed it in a different context in his effect ''From Another Pack'' in Take a Card, published in 1929. Al Koran later employed it in ''The Lazy Magician Does a Card Trick'', published in Abra No. 450 in 1954.
Mr. Gelasi really likes the Down/Under shuffle. He likes it so much that he felt compelled to use it not only in this effect, but in all of the following effects. The horror!
I really dislike the Down/Under shuffle. It slows down an effects tempo due to the increased handling required. Lay folk have never seen anyone use this odd procedure to shuffle cards.
Using an orderly, structured procedure to eliminate cards is an antithetical approach to assuring the crowd that you are randomly eliminating cards. A more normal appearing, seemingly random procedure is a better method for conveying a random result.
I dont like it.
Spelling Bee Aces: A participant freely selects a card which is then lost in the deck.
The performer spells, "Your card is the", dealing one card from the top of the deck for each letter, forming a pile of cards on the table.
He turns over the top card of the deck, but it isnt the participants selection. He places the indifferent card on top of the tabled pile and discards the balance of the deck.
The participant takes the tabled pile and executes a dealing/sorting procedure that leaves her holding one card. She turns it over and discovers her selection. She tables it off to the side.
The performer takes the packet and spells "Ace", dealing one card for each letter, into a tabled pile. He turns over the next card and it is an Ace. He places the Ace aside.
He places the packet on top of the dealt cards, picks up the combined packet, repeats the spelling/dealing procedure, and turns over the next card to reveal another Ace. He places the second Ace aside with the first one, places the packet on top of the dealt cards and picks up the combined packet.
The performer turns the top card of the packet face up, displaying a Five. He turns it face-down and places it under the packet. He deals five cards onto the table and turns over the fifth card, revealing another Ace. He places the Ace with the other Aces and he puts the dealt cards on top of his in-hand cards.
The Ace of Hearts remains. He spells "Hearts", dealing one card for each letter onto the table. He turns over the top card of the packet, revealing the Ace of Hearts.
What could have been a pretty decent method is soiled by the inclusion of the Down/Under shuffle.
I dont like it.
Hocus Poker: The performer removes two Royal Flushes from the deck and tables them face-up. A participant freely names any pair, say the Kings. The performer removes a King from each hand. The participant shuffles each remaining four card hand and tables them face-down.
The performer places each King face-up on top of their respective four card Royal Flushes. He picks up the first packet, turns the King face-down and shuffles it into the packet.
He picks up the other packet, turns the King face-down and shuffles it into the packet.
He places one packet on top of the other packet and picks up the combined packet. He executes a dealing/sorting procedure that leaves him holding one card. He turns it face-up, revealing the first King. He sets it off to the side.
He picks up the dealt cards and executes a different elimination procedure, leaving him holding one card. He turns it over and reveals the other King.
The performer places that King face-up on top of the face-down dealt packet. He places the first King face-up on the bottom of the packet.
The participant gives the packet several straight cuts.
The performer takes the packet and deals two poker hands. A face-up King appears in each hand.
He turns over each hand, revealing that he dealt two Royal Flushes, dealing each King into the Royal Flush of the opposite suit.
This is a nice effect with a lousy method. Not only does Mr. Gelasi use the shuffle whose name will not be spoken, he also uses a Reverse Faro shuffle. I really dislike this shuffle too. Its another odd procedure that lay folk have never seen anyone use to shuffle cards. Its orderly, structured procedure is a poor way to convince the crowd that you are randomly shuffling the cards.
I dont like it.
Porcupine: The performer removes six same-color pairs from the deck and tables them, one pair on top of another. He deals/sorts the packet and reassembles it.
A participant gives the packet several straight cuts and then deals the cards into three piles.
A participant freely chooses the top or bottom card of the first packet. The performer moves that card, turns it face-up and tables it in front of the packet.
This procedure is repeated with the other two packets.
The performer reassembles the face-down packets into one packet.
He deals/sorts the packet until one card remains in his hand. He places it face-down on top of the left face-up card.
He picks up the dealt packet and spells magic as he deals one card off the top of the deck for each letter. He places the next card face-down on top of the middle face-up card.
The performer places the dealt cards on top of the cards in his hand. He simultaneously deals pairs of cards from the top and the bottom of the packet until one card remains in his hand. He places it face-down on top of the face-up card on the right.
He deals/sorts the remaining cards.
The performer turns the three face-down cards face-up, showing that the three selected cards are paired up with their color mates. He turns the remaining cards in his hand face-up, revealing that those cards are also properly paired.
Mr. Gelasi uses it twice. He also openly rearranges the remaining in-hand cards before showing that they too are paired. And no notices that? Right.
I dont like it.
None of these methods strike me as being nearly self working. They all require a hell of a lot of work, much of which is odd in appearance. Theyre sleight-free, but labor intensive. The performer is constantly busy because these methods require more handling, period.
Direct, beginner level sleight of hand would actually take less work than these methods. Their economy of action and normal appearance convey to the crowd that the magic just seems to happen, without the performer working his ass off to make it happen.
I take no joy in reporting my disappointment with this material. I enjoyed Mr. Gelasis previous ebook and I look forward to his future offerings. I hope I havent heard the last of him.