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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » All in the cards » » Making Miraskil Magical (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

lcwright1964
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The premise of the famous Miraskil effect is so simple (it's analogous basic equation handling we learn in early algebra), and yet this trick still crops up around here as a favourite self-worker.

The way the trick is laid out in Scarne and Fulves leaves me a little cold, actually. It seems so transparently mathematical I wonder how anyone can be impressed.

Yet people better than I seem to swear by the trick.

If you are one of those folks, could you share what YOU do to bring magic to what is, on paper, a dull effect?

Les
Vlad_77
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On , lcwright1964 wrote:
The premise of the famous Miraskil effect is so simple (it's analogous basic equation handling we learn in early algebra), and yet this trick still crops up around here as a favourite self-worker.

The way the trick is laid out in Scarne and Fulves leaves me a little cold, actually. It seems so transparently mathematical I wonder how anyone can be impressed.

Yet people better than I seem to swear by the trick.

If you are one of those folks, could you share what YOU do to bring magic to what is, on paper, a dull effect?

Les


Hi Les,

If you have or have access to The James File, you will find an entire chapter devoted to it and variants by some of the biggest names in magic. So, some very well versed performers think highly of it as do hack like yours truly.

But it begs a deeper question Les, namely, that many effects read "dull" on paper that when performed are very strong effects because the performer creates a compelling presentation. And I would offer that even though the method coincides with a basic principle that we learned in algebra, it doesn't necessarily follow that the method is obvious enough for a non-magician to make that connection. The original and the variants I have performed have been very strong for me.

No disrespect intended but in this case, I would counter that you are thinking too much like a "magician." How many classic effects are available in widely available kids' magic sets that still blow people's minds? A LOT. A trick in and of itself is just that - a trick. Granted, some are inherently stronger plots, but, in the end, it's the performance of a trick that elevates it to a magical experience.

If you can access The Phoenix - which is easily obtainable - go to the very first effect in the very first issue and learn an effect by Walter Gibson titled Payoff. You won't like the method, but, believe me, when you give it even a competent presentation it becomes a very strong effect.

Slainte,
Vlad

PS: I don't want to detail how I perform Miraskil on an open forum. I have created my own twist that uses Tarot cards and for regular cards - as well as Tarot - I never present Miraskil as a magic effect but rather as an experiment. If anything, Miraskil is more closely akin to mentalism than magic anyhow.
landmark
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One of the best ways to make Miraskil more magical, is to do Simon Aronson's "Point Spread," a diabolical three-phase routine that utilizes the Miraskil (and other) principles.
Poof-Daddy
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The premise of the famous Miraskil effect is so simple (it's analogous basic equation handling we learn in early algebra), and yet this trick still crops up around here as a favourite self-worker.




John Bannon has an effect "A view To A 'Skill" based on a Stewart James effect.

Bannon eliminates the "moves" that you need to do the James version according to the book High Caliber. (it is originally from "Open and Notorious" 2009. Although this is a long (some might say drawn out) effect, It is by far one of my favorite effects in the new book. I really enjoy performing it for family and friends in a non formal setting.
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lcwright1964
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On , Poof-Daddy wrote:


John Bannon has an effect "A view To A 'Skill" based on a Stewart James effect.

Bannon eliminates the "moves" that you need to do the James version according to the book High Caliber. (it is originally from "Open and Notorious" 2009. Although this is a long (some might say drawn out) effect, It is by far one of my favorite effects in the new book. I really enjoy performing it for family and friends in a non formal setting.


Found the Bannon quickly enough and you are very right--the handling is so natural, the presentation of the conclusion so bald-faced simple, that I could see the trick really boggling any lay person not familiar with the property that James discovered almost eighty years ago. I would hazard that is pretty well all of them--barring math buffs, who really thinks of dividing up playing cards in whatever way as anything other than entirely random?

The length of presentation--which I really don't think is so bad here--needn't be an impediment if the conclusion is strong and engages the spec in such a way that she feels that what she does is the primary determinant of the outcome. OOTW takes a few minutes to do, but is diabolical enough that I think the result is worth it. We all know the Winston Churchill story.

Thanks Poof--and everyone else so far--for motivating me to look at this trick in a new light.

Les
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But it begs a deeper question Les, namely, that many effects read "dull" on paper that when performed are very strong effects because the performer creates a compelling presentation. And I would offer that even though the method coincides with a basic principle that we learned in algebra, it doesn't necessarily follow that the method is obvious enough for a non-magician to make that connection. The original and the variants I have performed have been very strong for me.


Thanks for this post, Les. And Vlad, thank you for this insight. It's important to keep in mind. I admit that I fell victim to the 'dull-on-paper syndrome' and passed Miraskil over. I must take another look -- I am intrigued with the thought of applying this to tarot cards.
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There is also a decent presentation in Nick Trost's book, I believe.

Be forewarned -- certain kinds of people WILL see through this, or will at least suspect that "something is not right." Years ago I performed this trick to a group of about 40 people, and invited this gray-haired little old lady (well into her 70s, maybe even into her 80s) up to the card table to be my assistant. (This was a cool event -- another, younger magician and I were doing "tag-team" card magic in a historic mansion for almost an hour, and this was my last routine.)

The lady was an avid bridge player, and she KNEW that the reds and the blacks should have divided out evenly, and she even said so out loud (by this time I was thanking her for volunteering, "That's the end of our act, everyone drive home safely!") but just under her breath -- but I think some people caught that she KNEW something was amiss.
Poof-Daddy
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On Feb 22, 2014, lcwright1964 wrote:
(it's analogous basic equation handling we learn in early algebra)



And I thought high school math was a waste of my time Smile Finally, I get to "solve for X" in real life? Smile
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Hushai
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I have NEVER been able to see what people like about Miraskil. The first time I read about the trick in a magic book, before I had even finished reading the "effect" part of the write-up I was saying, "Wait a minute! The number of reds and blacks HAVE to come out EVEN!" I just find it hard to see how it could get past anyone, whether they've had high school algebra or not -- though apparently it does, since it gets such high praise.

I know John Bannon's "A View to a Skill," and if there's a version of Miraskil I appreciate, it would be that one.

This leads me to a more general question: is it possible to perform a trick well which you yourself saw through the first time you saw it performed? Or, even a trick which you yourself just don't like? I guess that's a dumb question, since you're not likely to take the trouble to learn a trick unless you like it. I would NEVER learn to do the original version of Miraskil -- though, maybe I would learn Bannon's.
Vlad_77
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On Mar 8, 2014, Hushai wrote:
I have NEVER been able to see what people like about Miraskil. The first time I read about the trick in a magic book, before I had even finished reading the "effect" part of the write-up I was saying, "Wait a minute! The number of reds and blacks HAVE to come out EVEN!" I just find it hard to see how it could get past anyone, whether they've had high school algebra or not -- though apparently it does, since it gets such high praise.

I know John Bannon's "A View to a Skill," and if there's a version of Miraskil I appreciate, it would be that one.

This leads me to a more general question: is it possible to perform a trick well which you yourself saw through the first time you saw it performed? Or, even a trick which you yourself just don't like? I guess that's a dumb question, since you're not likely to take the trouble to learn a trick unless you like it. I would NEVER learn to do the original version of Miraskil -- though, maybe I would learn Bannon's.

Respectfully submitted but, the line of reasoning that seems to be dominating about Miraskil is an apparent principle. Yes, some MAY catch you out but that is true of virtually any effect. So, what you can do is throw in a red herring to mess up the people that you think would know the principle. And remember too that there are so many variants of the James original and that's not because it's "bad" but rather because it lends itself to so many new approaches - face up/face down variants can really mask the algebraic principle very nicely for instance. Also, a little bit of sleight of hand does wonders. Smile

I guess I have been very fortunate with Miraskil as I have received excellent reactions with it even under extremely difficult performing circumstances. I have fooled brilliant mathematicians with this gem as is, and to spice it up, I'll do a challenge version whereby I actually allude to a principle - not THE principle - "expose it, then repeat and state why the principle doesn't actually work. In other words, the proverbial red herring.

I really wish people would look into the many approaches of this fine effect. They can be found in The James File.

Slainte,
Vlad
robwar0100
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I am with Poof-Daddy about John Bannon's version. It is beautiful.

I have been working on a Red-Black routine, and I am thinking about using Bannon's View to a Skill either as the opener or closer.

The effects I am including in this routine, which is still in the development phase, includes a gambling effect of Geoff Williams which he taught in his Penguin LIVE lecture that is based on the Omega Bet; Jon Armstrong's Out of This Blah, Howard Hamburg's Taste of Curry and Michael Weber's Red Black (his version of Out of This World in which the spectator shuffles the cards).

Bobby
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Wilf Jonson
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I'll just chime in as another voice in support of Simon Aronson's "Point Spread" from Simon Says.

Like Bannon's "View to a 'Skill," it's framed as a game played between two people, which is a fun aspect which they both share. However I think Bannon's routine loses its punch in the second phase -- it's there as a convincer, but it's long and there's really nothing new that we didn't already see in the first phase. It's like a second beat that might set up a finale, but there's nothing beyond the second beat.

So I prefer Aronson's "Point Spread," which has three beats. Simon's version of the game also plays quicker than Bannon's, which is helpful since the whole deck is used. The first two phases are Miraskill with the third mixing things up and using the Shuffle-Bored principle, so there's progressive variety and surprise within the frame of the game being played. The premise Aronson offers also fits well and gives the predictions a better-grounded reason for existing.

Both are valuable contributions, though.
seneca77
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On Mar 11, 2014, Wilf Jonson wrote:
I'll just chime in as another voice in support of Simon Aronson's "Point Spread" from Simon Says.

Like Bannon's "View to a 'Skill," it's framed as a game played between two people, which is a fun aspect which they both share. However I think Bannon's routine loses its punch in the second phase -- it's there as a convincer, but it's long and there's really nothing new that we didn't already see in the first phase. It's like a second beat that might set up a finale, but there's nothing beyond the second beat.

So I prefer Aronson's "Point Spread," which has three beats. Simon's version of the game also plays quicker than Bannon's, which is helpful since the whole deck is used. The first two phases are Miraskill with the third mixing things up and using the Shuffle-Bored principle, so there's progressive variety and surprise within the frame of the game being played. The premise Aronson offers also fits well and gives the predictions a better-grounded reason for existing.

Both are valuable contributions, though.


Hi Wilf,

I think you meant to say that Point Spread appeared in Aronson's book "Simply Simon" as "Simon Says" is by Simon Lovell. Easy to confuse the Simon's!

- Bob
Wilf Jonson
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You're absolutely right -- I flip those two titles around all the time.

"Point Spread" is the first effect in Simply Simon by Simon Aronson.

Thanks for the catch, Bob!
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On Mar 8, 2014, Hushai wrote:

This leads me to a more general question: is it possible to perform a trick well which you yourself saw through the first time you saw it performed? Or, even a trick which you yourself just don't like? I guess that's a dumb question, since you're not likely to take the trouble to learn a trick unless you like it. I would NEVER learn to do the original version of Miraskil -- though, maybe I would learn Bannon's.


There are several tricks I perform that I don't necessarily like or they didn't "look good on paper". I think the crux of the problem is that I / we sometimes forget how magical an effect looks to the audience (who doesn't know how "simple" or "beginner" the effect is). I may look at the "how to" in a books description and yell out to myself "Nooooooo- not another Elmsley Count...." but that doesn't mean that the effect isn't going to "WOW" the average person. So, I guess it's a pick and choose type situation. You got to kind of look at it and ask-
Will it play well with my act?
Do I already do X # of effects like it?
Do I think the WOW factor is there to balance the learning curve?

Certainly not every effect is suitable for every magician. I like John Bannon's stuff as well as Phil Goldstein's but I certainly will not try to learn and perform every effect in High Caliber and Focus. Smile
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Don't spend so much time trying not to die that you forget how to live - H's wife to H on CSI Miami (paraphrased).






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lcwright1964
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I just splurged on Simply Simon--not cheap, compared to most magic books I have bought--largely for Point Spread. Definitely an ingenious adaptation that has clearly heightened my respect for the Miraskill theme. Other great work in that book as well. Thanks, everyone.

Les
landmark
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Lcwright1964--I don't know what you paid for the Aronson book, but I think you will find in a little while that you just bought one of the greatest card books ever. And if you do any kind of memorized deck stuff (or it inspires you to do so!), well then, even better.
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Yep, if you like the sort of thinking that goes into "Point Spread," you're definitely on the road to good times with Simply Simon.

Enjoy!
lcwright1964
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On Mar 13, 2014, landmark wrote:
Lcwright1964--I don't know what you paid for the Aronson book, but I think you will find in a little while that you just bought one of the greatest card books ever. And if you do any kind of memorized deck stuff (or it inspires you to do so!), well then, even better.


Taxes in, C$55, which is about US$48. There are a few tricks therein that require much prep (specially printed cards and props) that aren't accessible at the moment, but several that are. I am impressed with Aronson's style which is both informal and rigourous. He discusses theory, history, variations, and performance suggestions to a degree you just don't see in most magic books. Definitely a keeper. To date I have gotten most of my magic books inexpensive as new or lightly used (e.g., the Fulves books, Royal Road, other Hugard works) or have located ebooks and PDFs, so I was overdue for an expenditure on a top flight book.

Les
lcwright1964
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I should add that I have been reflecting on this considerably over the past couple of days, and I think that one can combine elements from the Bannon and Aronson approaches to customize a great routine.

In my mind, the Miraskill outcome is lukewarm when it comes out evenly--i.e., the balance has not been perturbed so as to give more blacks than reds, more up than down, etc. Bannon creates the asymmetry by simply lying. Aronson does it with an in ingenious prearrangement that is gradually destroyed (and thus concealed) in the course of the routine.

One can also shorten things up depending on the audience. Aronson's "Red/Black" game goes a lot faster than Bannon's "War" game. You don't need to proceed to the Phase III Shuffle-bored part of the Aronson if you don't want to. You can use Aronson's prearrangement with Bannon's approach and forgo misreporting the first count.

In short, I am convinced that Miraskill can be quite magical indeed with the right presentation and lots of imagination.

Les
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