Inside Magic Invention Challenge Now Open

Inside Magic Image of Favorite Melvin the MagicianA while back we had a regular feature where we would pose an idea for a trick and then ask readers for their ideas on how the trick could be accomplished.

It was a bad idea but a good idea at the same time.  Bad because it exposed magic secrets and good because it started a conversation about the types of techniques to accomplish the effect.

The concept was inspired (stolen) from the ACAAN challenge that has puzzled and inspired magicians for years.  We can’t claim that today’s challenge will cause such inspiration or education in the thinking and logistical planning needed to bring about such a revolution in card magic, but it couldn’t hurt.

The notion that something may  have no positive effect for anyone “but couldn’t hurt,” is ridiculous.  Many things don’t hurt but promote not a scintilla of social or even personal value.  Plus, the term “couldn’t hurt” doesn’t seem to mean anything more than physical pain.  What about the emotional  impact or economic devastation suffered by the proponent of this philosophy?  We throw this out for something to ponder.  It isn’t essential to the post but it couldn’t hurt.

Here’s the concept.  It will be non-changeable — just like the original ACAAN challenge.

Effect: A magician has a spectator (no stooges permitted) select a card from a deck of cards held in the magician’s hands.  The spectator is asked if she is satisfied with the selection or if there was any other card in the whole world she could have selected, what would that card be.  She names the alternative card.  The magician hands her the deck and it is turned over revealing that every card in the remaining pack is the card she would have rather selected.


  • The deck from which the first card is selected must appear to be the same deck used throughout the effect (this allows for a deck switch but under seemingly impossible conditions).
  • The deck must not be gimmicked in any manner.
  • The card selected must be different in image from the other faces of the cards shown.

Non-Conditions (Not Required):

  • The trick does not need to be repeatable for the same audience.
  • The trick does not need to require knuckle-busting moves.
  • The trick must not be a currently available effect.
  • The trick does not need to have a cutesy or vulgar name.

To keep secrecy, please send your thoughts and solutions and questions to mystery@insidemagic.com.  We will announce in 30 days whether there has been progress on the solution.  You, the inventor or innovator of the solution will get full credit and we claim no IP rights to any aspect of the effect.  We will be happy to provide endorsements of the trick if you decide to market it.

Send your solutions or questions now to mystery@insidemagic.com.  All submissions will be kept in the most confidential conditions.


Dan Garrett’s Lecture: A Quantitative & Qualitative Analysis

Dan Garrett Lecture Analysis ChartDan 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.  Continue reading “Dan Garrett’s Lecture: A Quantitative & Qualitative Analysis”