Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Hang The Code

I spend alot of time working on short films, writing, shooting, editing, etc. But usually when I'm stuck on something or if my mind needs a break, I have to wrap my brain around something else. Origami, piano, and most often sleight of hand. The first thing that comes up is usually a card trick or two. I love sleight of hand. I find the mechanics of the actual trick to be magical. The process in which one makes a card disappear, or how a paper rose floats in mid air is quite fascinating to me even when I already know the secret.

I remember when I was a kid and I was desperate to learn magic. I knew of sleight of hand and misdirection, but didn't know how to do it. I needed someone to show me the secret. I checked out books on the subject from the local library, but none of them were any help. They usually explained how to do the most moronic tricks no one would ever want to see let alone perform. Honestly, who cares if I can make it look like a butter knife is stuck to my hand.

I wanted the real stuff. Making a card disappear, I mean really disappear. Or how to pull one from the air with my sleeves rolled up. There was only one magic shop in the next town over, but they were no help. If I wanted to learn a trick I needed to trade for it or pay for it. I had no other tricks to trade, and the money they were asking for was insane. I would go and ask other magicians I would see perform at theme parks or Six Flags, but none of them would let me in. I would always hear tell of "The Code" and how a good magician never reveals his secrets.

Finally I met a magician in a very small shop in a flea market, he felt for me and decided to show me two things. How to make a card disappear, and how to turn a dollar bill into a hundred and back again. This was my first step into understanding how other tricks worked. I learned about practice and showmanship and I learned about the code.

The code basically said that you should never give the secret of a trick away. Ruins the magic. If everyone knew how it was done, then no one would have any fun watching it. I took this to heart. And as I got older, and as I performed more tricks for people, kids would always ask me to show them how to do something, anything. And then I in turn would tell them about the code, and how I could never reveal my secrets. There was one kid in particular who just would not leave me alone. He begged me and pleaded with me. All he wanted to know was how to do one trick. How did I turn that 1 dollar bill into a 50. (I wasn't making much at the time, I didn't have a 100). I felt bad for him. But I stuck to my guns and told him I just couldn't do it.

I remembered this recently. I remembered how disappointed he was. And now looking back on it I feel even worse, because I remember how badly I wanted to learn magic. Something, anything. I remember how all those magicians would snub me and wave me away everytime I begged them for knowledge. I remember how "The Code" was shoved in my face over and over.

I understand the code. I understand and respect how certain things should never be revealed to hold on to that entertaining illusion. And I'm not one to just spill my guts about every trick in the book. But what about those kids that wanna know something to get them started. Like that one kid that one day that I just wouldn't give it up. Nowadays it's little easier. There are a number of magic sites you can go to to purchase the secret of any trick you wanna start practicing. But I still feel a little bad about that kid.

So this ones for you kid. And for all you others out there who are broke and need a place to start working on your craft. Here's a little gem for ya. Here's a video that reveals the secret of turning one bill into another. No sound, black and white, pure and simple demonstration. And it's the only trick I'll give up on video. And as for "The Code". I say with this one, hang the code and hang the rules. They're more like guidelines anyway.

Plus I'm cheating a little here since I know of two other different ways to do this, but hey, at least I'm giving something up.

Dollar Bill Trick Revealed - video powered by Metacafe

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