So I’ve been thinking a lot lately about selection of material, and how what I choose to do reflects my performance character, but more about that in a later post! I’ve wanted to do a version of Simon Aronson’s Shuffle Bored ever since seeing Ali Bongo’s excellent version. The only trouble is that the more I think about it the more it raises my in-securities about predictions in general. I know that Simon has raised this point before about the prediction version of this effect. To paraphrase the problem I believe is that the trick includes such a fair and powerful random looking shuffle sequence, that to then pull out a printed, pre-conceived prediction just blows this out. Which in a way is the problem I have with most predictions, if your audience has any powers of deduction, when they backtrack surely they realise you must have spent time printing your prediction, and that is permanent and non-changeable. Therefore in order to bring the effect to a successful conclusion you must have somehow controlled what went before, no matter how fair it may have looked.
Which is ok if thats what you claim to be doing in some kind of mental/psychic way, influencing people to come to a certain conclusion. Maybe thats what is missing from the presentation of most predictions that I see, but I don’t believe thats how Shuffle Bored should be performed, as the procedure is so fair, the idea, for me anyway, is that it can’t possibly be controlled, therefore how can you possibly have printed out the outcome hours in advance? In Paul Cummins workshop when he teaches a version, he suggests writing the Ali Bongo prediction, even in front of the clients, this is slightly better, and at least it gives the prediction some kind of immediacy, but I’m still unhappy with this way of doing it.
Off on a slight tangent, I did what I usually do when I want to add something to my repetoire and aquired a lot of versions of this trick, when did it become ok to release Simon’s effect (when in the original manuscript he categorically asks that this not happen), with Ali Bongo’s prediction, with the justification that you have a slight change of script to go with it? I have seen this on at least two occasions, with hardly a fleeting mention to either…
Anyway back to the plot! Recently two versions have been released that have caught my attention, Bill Goldman’s Little Bunny is a great addition to the Ali Bongo style prediction, and does in my opinion justify its release, but it still suffers from the problem stated that this is a printed prediction, that is more over-prepared than even the Bongo one, the outcome is a printed book(let) that is not going to change between performances, so we are back to the problems above. Simon recently released his Random Sample version, which I aquired in person, when we met in Chicago, boy was I miffed when it came out in MAGIC! This is fantastic and almost goes far enough to solving the inherent problems with the prediction style of this trick… almost. I believe that using the booklet style of multiple prediction as in Little Bunny, is a significant improvement, and that that Simon’s presentation does take some of the sting out of the full on prediction, by suggesting this is how the common outcome of a shuffle is recorded, still with possible margins of error/freedom, almost into the realm I mentioned of influencing the shuffle, in increasingly impossible ways.
I believe the main issue I have with predictions is the obvious way of backtracking to a solution from the outcome, if you can somehow soften this, or change it in some way then in some instances I think you could lead the spectator away from the only possibly method of you ‘somehow’ controlling the outcome. In other words having someone for example select a card and then immediatley showing your prediction to match, is to me bad magic, how else could you have done it if not influenced them to somehow select that card.
A similar situation can be seen in the trick, where the magician continually forces the same card on someone, and uses that as the effect. WHY!? What are you trying to show? How clever you are at making them select the same card, how you can influence them, how stupid they are for falling for it? Does this not amount to some kind of exposure, especially if you are using such a fair looking procedure such as the classic force or hofsinzer spread. For me you could forget doing any pick-a-card tricks after that, they already know that you can make them pick whatever card you want, so whats the point? Why waste such a fair and free looking procedure, on such a stupid outcome… much like the prediction shuffle bored.
So whats the answer? For me at least it means changing the outcome and premise, there are various different ways to utilise the shuffle bored procedure which are outlined in the original manuscript, or fortunately for me John Bannon has done this in his version Waiting for Dark, or a souped up version of this style of presenting it can be found in Mnemonica. I really like John’s thinking and his way of presenting this, even with the ending which does somewhat violate what I’ve said about the prediction side, but not in such an in-your-face way that hopefully will just twist the knife ever so slightly!