Dan Garrett’s Lecture: A Quantitative & Qualitative Analysis

Dan Garrett presented his new magic lecture in Royal Oak, Michigan last night.  We tweeted during the breaks and gave our pithy, excited reviews as the evening developed and now 24 hours later, we have no regrets.

Some lectures are great just long enough to get you to the dealer’s table with cash wadded in your paws.  The buyer’s regret kicks in shortly thereafter: perhaps as one is driving home or later when one confronted by one’s significant other and required to justify the purchase of “more magic.”

Mr. Garrett’s lecture did not have a post-event emotional let-down.  Above is a scientific chart proving our point:

Comparing Mr. Garrett to a baseline (or “typical lecture”), a Cinnabon, an energy drink and a roller coaster ride proves his lecture succeeds where other stimuli fail.

The Cinnabon starts off more quickly than Mr. Garrett but peters-out by the 90 minute mark and actually falls below the baseline emotional level due to its crashing effect.

An energy drink has a similar peak pattern and while its crash is not nearly as dramatic as the one seen for the Cinnabon, it is still substantial and does go below the baseline after 90 minutes.

A roller coaster experience actually starts out with higher pre-event levels but falls to sub-baseline levels after 2.5 minutes on average.  There is often a residual feeling of nausea for the roller coaster rider that typically subsides within 24 hours.

It can be safely said Mr. Garrett’s lecture starts strongly, follows an upward sloping path that continues for at 24 hours after attending.

(Credit: Graph and Data from “Better Than a Cinnabon? An Analytical Study of Stimulus-Response Related to Foodstuffs, Recreation & Magic Lectures,” Am J Energy Studies, Jan. – Apr. 2012).

Mr. Garrett’s lecture succeeds even under qualitative analysis.

We walked away from the lecture hall with some great effects, a renewed sense of excitement about refining our presentation, and the sad understanding that syphoning gas is still considered “improper” or “criminal.”

Upon our return to our vehicle – easy to identify since it was the only car in the parking lot and had a metal boot attached to its right rear axle – we considered how we would describe Mr. Garrett’s lecture to a fellow magician, a non-magician, a non-fellow and the police booking officer.

His presentation is so smooth and so well-planned that it would likely entertain non-magicians with or without exposure of the effects.  So many lecturers seem to have happened into the situation and are merely killing time before taking orders at their hastily arranged dealer’s table.  They go from one trick to another with inside jokes and asides understood by one or two in the room and appreciated by none.  They justify their ad-hoc style by reminding the audience that they are in a teaching mode; they would do it differently for a real audience.

Mr. Garrett was accompanied by his own ingenious and inexpensive sound system, complete with musical cues and voice-overs.  He presented each effect as if performing for a real audience with such poise and polish that we stopped thinking about whether the trick would be sold later or was part of the lecture notes.  We found ourselves enjoying the magic for magic’s sake.

He began with a great visual gag for emcees and we would describe it but it would ruin the surprise for those who plan to see Mr. Garrett’s lecture soon. His “The GodMother of All Book Tests” is a book test that does not have the usual build-up / tedium (depending on your viewpoint) we associate with these types of effects.  It is straight-forward, apparently fair, and cheap to make.  We are almost done with our own props – and we hate book tests.  That says a lot for the trick, its method and Mr. Garrett’s presentation.

We tweeted early in the evening that we wanted to learn new paddle moves from Mr. Garrett.  We would have gone into more detail about our educational goals but we were almost out of gas and essentially coasting into the parking lot at the Royal Oak Senior Center.  We found that when the engine quits on our particular high-performance automobile, the power-steering and power-brakes fail.  This makes coasting into a well-populated parking lot difficult even if we were not composing tweets at the same time.

We love the Color Changing Knife trick.  It was the first trick given to us by our mentor way back in 1972.  Barry Gibbs, the manager of the Magic Fun Wagon insisted we learn to perform the trick, cut and clean our fingernails and get a belt before returning for our second day on the job.  We fell in love with the trick, the sleights and our new sense of hygiene.  The belt, we did not love.  It was our sister’s and the “wet leather” look was hot for pre-teen girls but not gangly boys with freshly manicured digits.

Since the early 1970s, we have sought out new or innovative paddle or knife moves.  Whit Hayden’s Intricate Web of Distraction video and printed materials were great resources.   Jose de la Torre translation of Arturo de Ascanio’s World of Knives is one of the best on the subject.  And so we were smug as we watched Mr. Garrett perform his routine.  Our smugness turned to … whatever the opposite of smugness is … quickly.  He fooled us badly.  His handling is so natural and smooth (that adjective again) and we were so conceited and unaware.  Mr. Haydn advises students to show both sides of the knife as one would if one was a normal person showing a knife.  That is, show the knife as a knife and not an object that apparently has the same color on each side.  Mr. Garrett’s instruction is similar.  Mr. Haydn and Mr. Garrett apparently show both sides through the natural handling of the knife.

Mr. Garrett had a surprise ending that resets instantly and caught us by surprise.  The routine is commercial, easy to learn and ends strong.

Speaking of being surprised or fooled, Mr. Garrett’s version of Any Card at Any Number (“ACAAN”) was incredible.  We love the ACAAN premise and have been working on our own version for years.  We have tried mathematical solutions (using Fibonacci numbers / Golden Sections) and non-mathematical methods but to no avail.

(Interestingly (at least to us) the ACAAN effect is to be accomplished without the magician touching the deck in play.  We worked out a great method of performing the trick dealing seconds before we remembered this was a violation of the ACAAN conditions.  We were reluctant to give up this solution and contemplated the best way to subtly convince the volunteer to perform the second deals for us.  We were at a strange point in our life and easily confused).

Mr. Garrett’s method seems impossible.  In fact, what we thought we saw would be impossible.   The presentation does not meet the requirements of the ACAAN problem but still seems incredibly fair.  Multiple shuffles of the deck by a volunteer combined with apparently free choice of a card and a number does not prevent the revelation of two cards at two numbers in the well-mixed deck.

He took a brief intermission after the performance and promised to teach us in the second part of the lecture.  We sent out a tweet expressing our concern that Mr. Garrett could be feigning the use of trickery to hide his true supernatural powers.  We were stumped.  There was no method of accomplishing what we had just witnessed.  This is different than knowing there could be a method but not being able to describe the method.  In the case of Mr. Garrett’s ACAAN, physics and the linear orientation of time prohibited the effect.

Mr. Garrett taught the secret in the second half of the lecture and we were greatly relieved to learn we did not see what we would have sworn we saw.  We cannot provide any more detail than that cryptic line.  You need to see this effect.  While we generally disapprove of cults, we see this trick as being the key to recruit huge groups of people to serve without question or payment.  That alone is worth the price of admission.

Mr. Garrett’s substance and style are consistently professional and inviting whether performing a trick or explaining it.  He is a wonderful combination of effective teacher and possessor of great knowledge.  He has the stuff to share and knows how to share it.

Do not miss his lecture.

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