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A Dream from The Hermit

Sep 1, 2007
405
203
37
Calgary
www.hermitmagic.com
I wrote this little story / dream sequence on the blog for my magazine, but thought I should also share it here and see what you all come up with.

I swear to you that I had this exact dream the other night. It was weird, as I don’t normally remember my dreams. But when I woke up, I sat up in bed and thought to myself, “that was ridiculous.” I’ve been thinking of it every day since. I even wrote it down and published it in the May 2022 of The Hermit. It's relevant to the #hermitmagicchallenge for the month.


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I appeared to be at some sort of magic convention, though the setting felt more like a museum than the usual convention rooms in a hotel. I think it might have been the Art Gallery of Ontario, as there was a lot of natural light. Anyways, I was seated at a large, round table with about ten random unknown magicians, all in the midst of showing each other magic tricks, and just generally jamming. I was sitting, staring off into the middle distance, not interacting. Because I had a secret.

I was a magician, at a magic convention, who could do real magic. I had just acquired this gift in that moment, and I knew it.

I was in the midst of a major dilemma. Do I reveal to the hundreds of congregated magicians at the convention that I could do real magic? If I did, what would it mean for all of these people who spend countless hours trying to replicate what I could naturally do? Would it crush their spirits? Would I be ruining magic for all of these conjurors by showing them real magic? What would be the point of them, if someone like me was walking about?

I was also fighting my own internal battle within. Yes, the dream was that vivid. The question was, had I ruined magic for myself? I had practiced card and coin magic for almost two decades, and now I could simply do whatever I wanted. Had I wasted a fifth of my life? It was a depressing thought.

If I was to continue with the convention, and jam with fellow magicians using sleight of hand skills that replicate magic, I’d be the equivalent of Clark Kent playing high school football, pulling his tackles and never using his full potential. I’d be lying to myself, as no sleight that I could perform would be as effective as the real magic I could do.

If I was to use real magic in the guise of a trick, I know I’d be hounded by magicians for the next few days, demanding to know how my double lift was that perfect, or how that coin completely, actually vanished. How would I respond to that?

The dream continued. As I pondered my dilemma, a dream version of Mike Caveney wandered by. I think he was working in both the museum and the convention, as he was dressed rather scholarly. He looked around the table at all the magicians jamming and proudly nodded, like a content father whose children had done great things. His eyes fell on me, just sitting there, and he leaned in.

“A real magician doesn’t have to set up,” he chided me.

I looked down at my hands in shame to see that I was in the midst of returning a deck of cards into Si Stebbins order, one card at a time. I furiously dropped all the cards, stood up, kicking my chair over, and reached into the center of the table, where there was a whole chocolate cake. I tore a chunk of cake out of the center with my bare hand.

Everyone stopped to stare at us. I turned back to Mike, holding up the fistful of cake:

“Name a cake.”

He looked back at me, and his eyes narrowed slightly. I knew the moment that he figured it out. He hesitated, but then named his cake, as if to challenge me.

“Tangerine.”

I waved my free hand over the hand clutching the dripping, crumbling mess. In an instant, the cake changed.

“How about orange? Tangerines are out of season,” I declared, setting the chunk of cake on the table. The sponge cake was a distinctly citrus and white colour, and tasted of oranges. It fit perfectly in the gap made in the still-chocolate cake.

Mike Caveney nodded at me, and strolled away slowly, laughing quietly to himself like a content monk in an abbey who had just found out that his life’s work had been realized. I sat down, looked around at the faces gawking at me, and promptly woke up.

“That was ridiculous.”


So, the question is- how would you recreate the cake effect in the above dream? What would be your method? To enter the contest, you can send me a message or email me. If you have thoughts or comments on the dream itself, we can discuss that here!

Cheers,
Scott.
 
Sep 1, 2007
405
203
37
Calgary
www.hermitmagic.com
I don't see any harm in posting the winning entries. These were published in the June issue of The Hermit Magazine (the magic magazine that I publish each month):

The winner of the Dream Challenge is Gareth Jones!
The runner-up is EvilDan.

Congratulations! Your ingenious and hilarious ideas are published in the following pages.

The winning entry is from Gareth Jones:

“Hi Scott. Here is a method for the cake trick. I spent at least half an hour on it, so I think it’s good.”

ANY CAKE CALLED FOR

You will need:
Spongeballs (bear with me)
Table servante, of the shelf-like variety
One large plain white sponge cake
Various food-based essences for baking or aromatherapy.
A cake trowel/spatula thing.

THE PRINCIPLE

Scent plays a vital role in flavour. More than we realise! Try this: hold your nostrils shut with one hand, and bite into a juicy apple. Bland. While chewing, release your nostrils. You will experience a remarkable increase in flavour. Really try it out, it’s quite fun. Even the most limited flow of air into your various faceholes will “amplify” the flavour of whatever it is you are eating. This is why eating is unpleasant when you have a cold - your nose is blocked.

Instead of doing something like switching in various cakes, why not simplify things and switch in a scent?

PREPARATION

Bake a large, plain cake. You are looking for a cake of Bruce Bogtrotter proportions. You can decorate it if you like. I’m no mentalist, but I’m sure it’s possible to psychologically force a certain flavour of cake by using certain decorations. Luke Jermay has yet to respond to my research request.

Dip each spongeball into a flavouring essence diluted with water and line them in the servante from left-to-right in a memorable order. In my performances, I use* (*lol) the following: vanilla, chocolate, lemon, raspberry, orange, elderflower, vanilla. I expect the flavours most likely chosen will differ based on who your audience is, and where you live. Only experience can help you there.

The cake is at the front of the table, a stack of plates between performer and cake. The plates are roughly in line with the first two-to-three spongeballs.

METHOD

Follow the, erm, presentation on page 230 of The Hermit (Vol. 1, No. 5) until you are holding a massive splodge of cake in one fist. Actually don’t do that. It’s gross. Use the cake trowel/spatula thing to neatly slice a neat, but massive, slice of cake. Hold this up in cake display position with right hand as you ask the spectator to name a cake - your left hand naturally falls to the table edge, above the balls.

They will name their cake quickly - be ready to dump the slice backwards onto the top plate in your stack. Pick the plate up, and as if realising how heavy and unwieldy it is, place it down again behind the stack- At the same time, your left hand grabs the appropriate (or closest to appropriate) sponge ball.

Slide the cake plate back (it’s heavy) towards the left hand, which manipulates the ball up onto the plate, under the thumb and behind the cake. This is why the cake portion is large: you’re doing a bunch of stupid stuff that you need to hide, because while as an idea this method is interesting, as soon as I started typing I realised it is actually really, really bad.

At this point, you are in a position where you need to confirm or alter the choice of the spectator (“How about orange? Tangerines are out of season.”) You have all the time in the world to squeeze the sponge with your left hand, covering the plate with essence.

You don’t really need to, but I suggest you take a fork and cut the cake up a little bit, moving parts of it around the plate. This ensures a good distribution of essence. You are acting like you are helping the spectator by making the massive portion more comfortable for eating. Do NOT overdo it.

Hand the spectator the fork, and let them at it, holding the plate near their face to help them out. They will almost definitely choose a section you have cut for them. Ask the following, carefully worded question: “Is that orange, or what?!” They will be forced to say yes. The truth is, if they’ve got an essence-drenched bit of cake, it will be disgustingly but unquestionably orange. If they got a relatively unsoaked piece, the essence on the plate (which is near their head) will be strong enough to fill their faceholes and they’ll have a more enjoyable experience. Either way, you get a positive reply.

Take your applause.

METHOD NOTES

Yes, it is possible to do a more traditional Any Cake Called For, where you give out plates of the same cake dosed with different scents. In my opinion, that would be simply overdoing it.

Having one vanilla sponge at each end of the servante gives you some flexibility. Often, a spectator will say “Raspberry and Vanilla” or “Lemon and Vanilla”. In which case, you can use the right hand to also add a ball to the plate.

You might ask what happens if a spectator chooses chocolate, when the cake is clearly white sponge. The answer is you get a free bonus effect! Ta-da!

Make sure the cake is moist and absorbent. You may be tempted to bake it dense, thinking it will more readily absorb flavour. This is not true.

Experiment with different essences and their concentration. The ones used for aromatherapy are probably good, but who knows if they are poisonous or not. Do your research and try not to hurt anyone.

CREDIT

The plot for Any Drink Called For is usually attributed to David Devant.

One method for Any Drink Called For uses glasses with a tiny amount of dye in the bottom, and the colour makes normal water look like the called-for drink. You could probably do this with essence in plates/bowls, instead of the stupid spongeballs stuff I wrote.

No jokes, this principle has been used by chefs in various ways for a long time. Molecular gastronomist (the chef version of a “Psychological Impossiblist”) Heston Blumethal takes it to the extreme by serving a plain ice cream with two different perfume atomizers with different flavoured scents. You give the air a little spritz and take a bit of ice cream. The results are whacky and quite magical.

...

The runner-up prize goes to this clever idea from EvilDan.

“Here are some solutions that vary slightly from the problem posed, so I don’t know if these even qualify, but the thinking exercise was fun to do! Great magic rag by the way!”


PERFORMANCE

You cut a slice from a vanilla cake with vanilla frosting on a table, and place it in the middle of a serving tray. The cake is covered with a metal dome. The magician asks someone to name a cake, something besides vanilla with vanilla frosting.

They call something out.

The magician asks why they chose that particular cake. The dome is then lifted and the slice has now changed to their named cake.

METHOD

This would be done with a mechanism that is the center of the metal platter on the table, that can be lowered below the stage. There, assistants with a wide variety of cake slices wait, listening for what the spectator calls out. The magician knows what he has, and if he doesn’t have exactly what they called out, he mentions another type of cake that he does have, and is pretty close.

The assistants remove the vanilla slice, replace it with the new slice, and send it back up under the table to be revealed.

VARIATION

Similar to the above except that the vanilla cake with vanilla frosting starts on the table under a metal cover. The cover is removed, the magician removes a handful of cake and the cover is replaced. The magician asks someone to name a cake, something besides vanilla with vanilla frosting.

The magician motions over the slice in his hand and nothing happens.

He motions again and then motions over to the metal dome.

He walks to the table, removes the metal dome and there is the named cake with a handful of cake taken out of it. The magician then puts his handful of cake in the missing area and smooths out the frosting with his fingers.

METHOD

Same as above except the cake with the missing piece is the one that’s replaced, instead of the slice.
 
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