"Martin Gardner's Corner" ran intermittently in MAGIC Magazine from 1994 to 2004. Martin would have turned 100 years old on October 21, 2014. To celebrate, we're posting 52 of his "Corners," one per week for the next year. Each has been selected and annotated by Jason England and illustrated by Tom Jorgenson.
Twenty-five products are reviewed this month by Michael Claxton, Peter Duffie, Gabe Fajuri, Jared Kopf, Francis Menotti, Peter Pitchford, John Wilson:
The Sense of Wonder by Robert E. Neale
Classic Correspondence from Egyptian Hall Museum II by Mike Caveney
Don't Fool Yourself: The Magical Life of Dell O'Dell by Michael Claxton
C4 by Jonathan Levit
Phantom Deck by Joshua Jay
Cloth by Steve Valentine
Extortion by Patrick Kun and Sans Minds Magic
Cody's Comedy Book Test by Cody Fisher
Conversation as Mentalism Volume 2 by Mark Elsdon
WaterWorks by Uday Jadugar
Betcha!: How to Win Free Drinks for Life by Simon Lovell
MindSight by Andreu
Classifying Deck by Mago Granell
Dream Prediction Elite by Paul Romhany
Jacks in the Box by Aldo Colombini
Entertainer's Handbook by Mike Stilwell
Rubber Bang by Sean Yang
Silent Mora: The Story of Louis J. McCord by William V. Rauscher
Coin Thru Nose by Tyler Sutter and The Magic Estate
Stand Up Magic by Tom Wright
Magic Holetite Pencil
The Rings by Chris Capehart
Tie Shell by David Penn
Method Memorabilia by Steven Palmer
John Henry Anderson: The Great Wizard of the North and His Magical Family by Edwin and Michael Dawes
First Look: Destination Zero
In Destination Zero, John Bannon travels to a special province in the world of magic: Self-Working Card Magic. These are not your typical non-sleight-of-hand tricks. Bannon has thoroughly analyzed these effects and backed up subtle principles with the careful, layered construction he is known for. Anyone can cobble together a couple of principles and call it a trick. Bannon looks for synergies and he leverages the method as much as possible. His objective: "One plus one should equal three - or more. Otherwise, why bother?" This month, we visit two stops in Destination Zero: Leverage, in which the magician makes a prediction about a selected card, and Mousetrap, a self-working sandwich trick.
The Monk's Way: Shift and Control
As a continued celebration of the New Year, I'd like to share two moves that follow the Monk's Way approaches revealed in last year's installments. These strategies accomplish much more than their brute-force counterparts and without "multiplying entities beyond necessity." The first is a lovely multiple shift that uses the pre-trick shade and offbeat moment of a momentary mistake to get far ahead of your audience. The second item shows how a subtlety can be accomplished in reverse, increasing its utility.
Loving Mentalism: Pascal's Swindle
You invite someone to just imagine any playing card - purely mental selection, no cards used, no force, nothing written down. You then introduce what you claim is a mathematical formula for mindreading and you proceed to demonstrate, with the help of the spectator's calculator, that a highly improbable series of calculations somehow enables you to name the spectator's card. At first, this might look like a fairly trite "think of a number and double it" trick. However, there is more meat on the mystery than that. It is perfectly clear that the calculation process, though it provides plenty of opportunity for fun, produces a total that bears no relation whatsoever to the identity of the thought-of card. This is genuinely the case. Nonetheless, you can name the correct card every time - a strange and perplexing mystery!
Bent on Deception: Black and Blue and Gold
It's February. And to the kid show and family performer, that means one thing: the dreaded Cub Scout Blue & Gold Banquet season is upon us. The mere mention of the event can trigger long-repressed traumas and make many a seasoned pro's blood run cold. I actually perform at a lot of Blue & Gold Banquets - and I enjoy them! Here are a few tips on taming packs of tigers, bobcats, wolves, bears, and the vicious webelo. In this month's effect, you have a paper folder with a strip of paper inside that has all the Scout badges printed on it - Bobcat, Tiger Cub, Wolf, Bear, and Webelo. A volunteer uses a pair of safety scissors to cut through the folder, cutting one of the badges in half. You then show a prediction that matches the very same badge.
Classic Correspondence: Lewis Ganson to Charles Rosskam
This letter could be called the calm before the storm. Lewis Ganson was sitting in his home office in Portsmouth on the south coast of England, and as the new editor of The Gen magazine, he was catching up on some business-related correspondence. One letter he wrote was to Charles Rosskam, a subscriber who had recently moved from Warwick, Rhode Island, to Hollywood, Florida. He reminded Charles of the wonderful time he had shown Lewis and his wife during their visit to America and that he would like to return the favor someday. In the final couple of sentences, Lewis casually mentioned that he was awaiting the arrival of Dai Vernon, who would be spending considerable time at the Ganson home while they worked on a new book of card magic. Vernon's visit to the UK would soon be followed by Slydini. A double tsunami of magic was heading directly toward the British Isles, and Lewis Ganson was right in its path.
For What It's Worth: High School Magical
Three months ago, I started a project with Sasha Mereu, a talented high school drama teacher with an impressive background in magic. Together we discussed an experiment for the upcoming semester. Instead of rehearsing a play, might the students be able to learn to perform a respectable magic show? We thought yes. Sasha is a caring, compassionate teacher who gently approaches the fragile psyche of the high school students and encourages them to naturally unfold their creativity. I generally look at high school students as kids with undeveloped brains who have diminished attention spans and feeble work ethics. We both agreed it was important to strike terror into their hearts by imposing a meaningful deadline. We booked the 320-seat Sparks High School theater for three days and announced an opening date for High School Magical.
Walkabout Soup: The Ethic of Reciprocity and "How Did You Do That?"
The Ethic of Reciprocity is one of the core concepts in nearly every moral system in human history. It appears in the Bible as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you." Confucius phrased it as "never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself." Essentially, when working out how to treat someone, imagine that the roles are reversed and then think about how you'd want to be treated. When someone asks me "How did you do that?" after a show, I don't need to imagine the roles being reversed. I can clearly remember a time when they were. I became interested in learning magic at age eighteen, so I have some pretty clear memories of seeing magic and magicians through a layperson's eyes.