Telling Time by a Cat’s Eye

While reading Sid Fleishman‘s autobiography The Abracadabra Kid, he mentions urban myths and one them he mentions is being able to tell time from the eyes of a cat. That struck me as interesting and a great premise for a mentalism routine.

mentalism with cats eye

A bit of research has turned up that it was a belief that ninjas could tell time from a cats eye. I found this little graphic that sort of explains it, it’s based on how dilated it pupil is in the daylight. It’s interesting, and jumpstarted my idea for a trick.

Ideally this would be done with a video screen. You are holding an envelope and begin by showing the graphic above on the screen and explain the premise. You then show a picture of your cat on the screen and ask someone from the audience to tell you what time they think it is. You open the envelope and inside in the same picture and written on the back is the time.

The method is simple, it’s an envelope with a cut out on the back and you nail write the named time on the back with a thick listo lead or marker tip on the nail writer.

You could add in some comedy filler by showing pictures of different cats that have funny expressions (derpy cats) and you tell the times. Have one that looks stoned, “it’s clearly 4:20” and one that looks drunk or has booze bottles near it and say, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” and a passed out cat, “it’s last call somewhere” or whatever.

The trick has a premise, and some bits, and a method all within about 6 hours of reading the line about telling time from a cats eye in Sid’s book. This is also why it’s important to always write down things you find interesting, you never know what idea that will spark!


Pelican Briefcase Magic Show…

It’s taken forever, but I’m getting to work on assembling a briefcase magic show. I dug out of the shed an old Pelican 1525 case that I bought for a specific gig a while ago, then used for my outdoor kid shows in the summer of 2020.

This case had a flange on the bottom, and I took that off. It used to have a bunch of custom 3d printed holders in it, but I took them out when I started using the case for the kid shows. I did leave my Sharpie holder in the case. This is a pretty creative solution to keeping pens easily accessible. The yellow holder has magnets in it, and so do the pens. They will pretty securely in the holder, but are easy to reach in and remove.

I’m starting to play with the layout of things in the case:

I have to make some choices, like using poker size cards, or moving up to parlour or jumbo sized cards. I think that choice will end up being made for me by what props/routines end up in the show.

Taking It Further…

In yesterday’s blog post about progressive anagrams, I mentioned a good way to use them for internet shows without any memory work. That doesn’t solve the problem of people not knowing how to spell words. The easy way is to use simple, common words, and not things like astrological signs like, “Sagittarius” which took me 4 tries to correctly spell it before I did a web search to figure it out just now.

The next problem and what I think is the biggest weakness is when you get the letters wrong. There are some instances where you will get no letters wrong, but you can’t count on that. There are also some where you’ll only get one wrong and immediately know the word, which is the problem. It feels like you are doing exactly what you are doing, figuring out the word by the letters.

To remove the idea that you’re just guess based on the letters, you need a prediction. Something physical to show that you knew it all along. This could be a written prediction, or whatever. A simple solution (depending on your words) would be a nail writer. Another easy way would be an index of the words, or multiple out set up.

What the prediction does is makes it harder to backtrack the method. If people talk after the show it ends up being, “If he was just guessing, then how did the prediction match what I was thinking of?” Taking it a step further makes it a more solid trick!

What Me Worry…

It really cracks me up when magicians worry about exposure of tricks where the method is technological. The “exposure” they are worried about is when this similar tech becomes used in applications for the general public. A good example is someone makes a die that you assign tasks to, and have an app linked to … Continue reading “What Me Worry…”

It really cracks me up when magicians worry about exposure of tricks where the method is technological. The “exposure” they are worried about is when this similar tech becomes used in applications for the general public. A good example is someone makes a die that you assign tasks to, and have an app linked to it. You put the side up when you are working on that task. The app knows what side it up and tells you how long you devote to each task. This is essentially a tech that’s been used for magic for a long time.

I think there are two reasons that people that are upset with magic tech becoming everyday tech. The first is that when it’s magic, it’s a niche market and very specialized, so it’s expensive. These people are upset that the value of their investment has been decreased. The second reason is that these people aren’t willing to put in the time to learn to do it any other way (i.e. Sleight of hand).

Here’s a good example, many people make a little cube that has different colors on all of the sides. Due to the tech, you always know what color is on top. However if you are aware of a similar device to keep you on task at work, then the impossibility of the trick is diminished. How can you do the same trick?

Here are two ways:

1. Instead of the cube, they write down a color on a business card and put it in their pocket. Using standard mentalism techniques you can easily know their color.

2. You put a prediction on the table. The pick a color on the block and it’s covered up so you can’t see it. You turn over the prediction and it’s the color they picked. Methodwise this is simply using the block to tell you what color was picked, then you use nailwriter for the prediction.

Both methods will have the same impact as just using the tech, but won’t become obsolete when the magic tech becomes everyday tech. The moral of the story is to go out and learn some sleight of hand.