Phenomenon October 31, 2007  

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Welcome to the spooooky Halloween edition of Phenomenon, where all tricks are performed live. The host reminds us at least 8 or 9 times during the show that all of this is live and mistakes can happen.

First the contestants from the previous week each perform a short trick with the audience.

Short Tricks
Jim, the bear trap guy from last week, has a lady imagine one card. Then he throws a deck of cards at her chest. He asks her what card she chose and she says the two of hearts. He has her pull the card out that has gone down her shirt and it's the two of hearts.

I don't know how this one is done, but I'm sure it's a common card trick. Again, feel free to post if you have any ideas.

Eran, the nail gun roulette guy from last week, performs next with Raven and Shandi. He first has the two women rub their palms together to generate heat. Then he has Shandi take her sunglasses which she mentions she conveniently has. He sets the sunglasses down on the podium and then has each of the women rub the palm of one hand against each of his hands. Directing the energy, the sunglasses begin to rise... except it's easy to see the fishing wire that's lifting them in the background.

Gerry, the phone book trick guy from last week, is up next with a mind body connection. He chooses an attractive woman in the audience. Then he shows us a white card that is blank on one side and has an outline of a human body on the other. He marks the card and then asks her to pick a part of her body. She points to her shoulder (just barely bypassing her breasts). He shows the card and it has a little tick mark on the correct shoulder.

I think he used little marker or pencil connected to his thumb probably to mark the card after she revealed the part of the body.

Ehud, the PK Touch guy from last week, borrowed Ross's credit card and did a few card spinning tricks with it around his hands and body. I imagine he used a magnet or magnets or perhaps a wire for the trick.

Then we get to meet the six other contestants that are going to perform tonight.

Jim asks Shandi to think of something. He then tells her it's a dead person and a singer. She looks like she's about to argue with him, but then agrees. He then tells her to write down the name of the person. He also writes the name, revealing Elvis. And, in fact, she reveals Elvis as well. Since he guided her to think of a dead singer I don't think Elvis is much of a stretch to be the first person she selects.

Angela, the only female contestant, as we are reminded often, is up on the stage. She pulls an earring from her ear that looks to be glass. She puts it on the podium and pretends to hit it with a hammer. In actuality she's hitting behind the earring and not hitting it at all. Then she pinches it between her fingers and shatters it.

Jan, pronounced Yon, has three flowers in a vase. He picks a female contestant. He says that he can influence her to pick a flower. He offers her a $100 bill if she chooses any flower but the one he wants her to choose. There is a rose, a carnation, and a lily. She selects the lily. As she pulls it out of the vase there is a note attached that reads, "I will lead you to the lily." She doesn't win the $100 bill.

I'm not sure how he did the trick. Matt suggested that he might have had three tags between his fingers that he could stick to the flowers depending on which he chose. It'd take dexterity, but it's possible. Any ideas?

Guy asks Ross to pick a number from 1 to 10 and hold it in his mind. Then he touched Ross on the jaw then he takes a pad and a pen and holds it behind his head and writes a number "so that even I can't see it." Then he asks Ross the number. Ross says 10 and the guy reveals a 10.

The guy is holding the pad away from the audience with his thumb on the paper unable to be seen. As soon as Ross reveals the number he writes it with his thumb. It's sloppy, but he covers because he's supposed to have written the number behind his head.

Mike does a card trick where he has the cards float up and cut themselves. He asks Raven to pick a card. She picks the three of spades. He then reveals the three of spades. I don't know how he got the right card again, but I know it's a trick that magicians perform often. I do know how he moved the cards though because as he turned to walk off stage you could very clearly see the wire contraption over the back of his jacket.

Wayne asked Ross to pull change from his pocket. He took a quarter and then palmed it very badly as he deposited it in his pocket and pulled a pen out. He then wrote the letter "R" on a trick quarter and handed it to Ross. He asked Ross to rub it and told him it should bend. Surprise, it bent!

Uri's Challenge
Next we have Uri's Challenge. He walks over to a display of the sun with the nine planets arranged around it like below.

The viewers are asked to choose a planet and then count the number of letters in that planet name around clockwise to end up at a new planet, and then count again when he asks, etc. until he has us stopped and guesses our planet. I chose Pluto and Matt chose Neptune. We had to count starting at Jupiter corresponding to the first letter. Both of us counted around until we ended up on Saturn and Mars respectively. Then we counted around again until we ended up on Earth. From there we were always on the same planet. I'm sure if you try this with every planet you end up with Earth being the third planet selected. Then it was simply a matter of Uri removing plants one by one that the user couldn't be on at the moment until finally he picked the final planet based on what the viewer would be on last.

So, for Matt and I here were our selections:

Me: Pluto, Saturn, Earth, (Pluto removed) Uranus, (Neptune removed) Mars, (Mercury and Uranus removed) Venus
Matt: Neptune, Mars, Earth, (Pluto removed) Uranus, (Neptune removed) Mars, (Mercury and Uranus removed) Venus

Random Person #1: Jupiter, Mars, Earth, (Pluto removed) Uranus, (Neptune removed) Mars, (Mercury and Uranus removed) Venus
Random Person #2: Venus, Saturn, Earth, (Pluto removed) Uranus, (Neptune removed) Mars, (Mercury and Uranus removed) Venus
Random Person #3: Mars, Mercury, Earth, (Pluto removed) Uranus, (Neptune removed) Mars, (Mercury and Uranus removed) Venus

See how the first two selections you make will always add up to 11? Wow, what magic there!

Last Week's Results
Then we have last week's results. If you don't remember these guys, Ehud performed the PK Touch routine, Jim performed the dangerous animal trap routine, Eran performed the nail gun roulette routine, and Gerry performed the phone book routine. Eran unsurprisingly moves on. And Gerry surprisingly joins him.

Now we move on to the new psychics (or mentalists as some label themselves).

This Week's Contestants
Wayne is up first. He's the "fun guy". He's going to perform a trick of mind reading and influence. He calls Shandi up and asks her if they've ever met before. She says no. He says, "I'm a skeptic." Yeah, of course you are guy. He then asks her to pick an image at random. Then he asks her to forget that and pick another. Then he asks her to forget it again and think of a third image. He then asks her to draw that image on a board that he can't see. We are shown video footage of him getting a tattoo because he's really committed to this trick. Finally she shows the image and it's a yin yang. He shows his "tattoo", which is really just grease paint, and it's a tattoo.

I don't know how he did it. Maybe she was in on it. Maybe he gave her a "tell" about what she should draw. Any ideas?

Chriss says he has good energy and commitment to his trick and that he did a great job.

Uri says he has lots of charisma and positive energy and also that he has a really stylish, cool image (which made me laugh because Wayne wasn't cool at all) and that if he continues the trick he'll run out of body space.

Which, of course he won't, because the tattoo isn't real. Matt and I wondered why Chriss didn't point that out, but we would find out later.

Angela was up next. We were reminded again that she was the only woman in the competition and she talked about how she wanted women to be taken seriously as magicians. She said her specialty was subliminal influence.

Her trick was similar to Eran's from last week. She called Ross up and then showed the audience a knife. She cut a silk hanging to show it was sharp and then had Ross cut an apple in half. Then, with five bases lined up on the table, she selected the middle base and stuck the knife into it blade up. She covered each of the bases so that the knife couldn't be seen and then raised a partition and had Ross shuffle the bases. While Ross concentrated on the bases that didn't hold the knife she smashed her hand down on each base until one was left that had the knife. She even did a quick "fake out" at the end to make us think she was going to select one and then selected the other. It was dramatic.

I think the base she chose was marked so she had no trouble knowing which one the knife held.

Uri said that she proved she could do tricks as good as any of the men. My husband added that a toddler could do tricks as good as any of the men. He [Uri] also said she was gripping, sensitive, and sensual.

Chriss said he was happy to see girls in mentalism and thought that she had a huge personality but that she should bring it out even more.

Guy claimed to be connected to the unknown and said he always felt different growing up (didn't we all). He was a fat kid. His trick was to stop his heart and then restart it. A nurse took his pulse and a doctor was standing by with an EMC and a defibrillator. He asked for silence and had Raven join him on stage. He was hooked up to an EKG machine. Then he had Raven check his pulse on his neck. He asked if she could feel his pulse and she said she felt something like an electrical charge. He smoothed over that and then he had the nurse and Raven sit on either side of him. He rested his arms on two podiums and had the nurse and Raven feel his pulse and ring a chime to his heart beat. Then we could see the EKG and hear the chimes as he started slowing his heart. The chimes and EKG were out of synch, but maybe that was human error (although I doubt it).

The EKG started at 60 and then started changing 59, 57, 59, 60, 47, 52, 36, 45, 42 <15 (flatline). The chimes only started slowing down when the EKG hit 36 and it started a flat line signal at 45. After 23.4 seconds the EKG went crazy showing no number and then suddenly flashed up 59, 60, 61. Raven jumped out of her seat, jewelry flying and ran away, genuinely scared.

I think he used an electrical charge to simulate his pulse for the two women and also used a charge to disrupt the EKG. Raven jumped up probably because she was shocked by the electrical charge. Guy smoothed it over by explaining that sometimes the energy gets away from him. What did our judges think?

Uri said he was a master of mind over matter and it all looked genuine. He called it breath-taking and heart-stopping.

Chriss called it dramatic and intense, but said that maybe it wasn't the best demonstration due to the time constraint. I think he thought the heart stoppage should have been for a bit longer.

Jan, pronounced Yon, was up next. He gained fame in Belgium by predicting the national elections.

Matchboxes were passed out to the audience. Then Jan had Shandi pick up a deck of cards that represented all of the numbers in the crowd. He asked her to show some of the cards randomly. She showed 396, 76, 227, 272, and 395. Then he asks her to shuffle the deck while he asks the audience to randomly pick out some of the matches and then throw the matchboxes up onto the stage. After they've all thrown their matchboxes Jan comes down and rests a pendulum on the top card of Shandi's deck. He then has her select that card and hold it against her chest so he can't see it. The pendulum guides them up onto the stage where it "circles" above the correct matchbook. He says it's 256, but it's actually 257. Shandi shows her card and it's 257. He holds the pendulum over the matchbook and says there are fove matches in it. He has Shandi open the matchbook and count out the matches and there are five.

I think there were matchboxes planted on the stage. It seems like the audience had numbers printed on both sides and so the matchboxes that didn't reveal numbers were his plant. He was also obviously moving his hand to get the pendulum to "reveal" which matchbox to select, so he knew where he was going. Maybe there were only a certain number of cards in the deck and they were marked. Then he knew exactly where to go on stage to find the matching, marked matchbox. That's just a guess though. Any ideas?

Uri said he was quirky and eccentric and that he thought he would make more money using the pendulum to find oil. Jan responded that he wasn't there for the money.

Chriss said, "We all know it's not possible to find oil or water with a divining rod." But then complimented Jan on his original method.

Jim, a paranormalist, said he could communicate with the dead and had been in contact with a spirit named Raymond Hill that died 1980. Raymond will be back in 2045 according to Jim.

While a taped video showed behind him narrating the encounter, Jim, was supposedly possessed by a the spriti of Raymond. He jiggled around very unconvincingly. At one point my husband asked, "Is he masturbating?" and then, "God, this is stupid." There was a ring of salt around him, to keep in the spirit, I'm guessing. Before the break Raven picked an item from a collection of 100 items and it was placed in a box of salt. As Jim was jiggling around, he started to write something on a card. Finally, he fell out of his chair from the exertion and the spirit of Raymond "left him". He was still quite worn out, or so he wanted the viewers to believe.

The box was then unlocked and Raven pulled out a yellow toy car. On the card was written (backwards, but conveniently there was a mirror next to the box (conveniently) has "metal, rectangle, 4 wheels" written on it. Raven seems like she's acting impressed. I don't buy it. Jim acts very, very tired and out of breath. The host calls him controversial and asks him what he thinks about people who don't believe. Jim says, "I'm also a skeptic. This is America. I think people should make up their own minds on what they believe and what they think." He's wearing an ear piece.

Maybe he saw what was missing from the room before the act or someone told him?

Uri says his "display of supernatural powers were controversial" and also that his "flair of honesty" lent "credibility".

Chriss called it comical. Then he pulled out two envelopes and offered $1 million of his own money if Uri and Jim could tell him what was inside. Chriss and Jim started yelling at each other. Jim called Chriss an idealogical bigot (in between gasped breaths) and Chriss said "don't give me this bullshit" (censored out). Uri said nothing. Then Jim acted like he was going to attack Chriss, but after he got away from the host, he hooked his arm around the host and pulled him in between.

I think at least part of it had to be an act. Jim acted like he was going to attack Chriss, but he didn't really want to, of course. I think Chriss must have had the envelopes prepared and probably planned to expose Uri and Jim as frauds, but I don't think the show knew he was going to pull them out and challenge Uri and Jim. It was a pretty interesting scene though and we're taken to commercial break.

When we get back the host says that all of this is live and anything can happen and that no, this isn't Jerry Springer.

Chriss's Homage to Houdini
They then show a clip of Houdini, with a voice-over by Chriss talking about his hero. Then they show Chriss performing the same tricks as homage. Chriss then gets a chance to advertise season four of Mindfreak.

Mike is the last contestant. He used to call himself "Johnny von Awesome". Yeah, it's a good thing that he dropped that moniker.

He's going to solve a mental murder mystery. He shows a box hanging from the ceiling. He says inside there is a clear plastic tube containing a rolled up piece of paper with details of a made up murder mystery he had a premonition about earlier.

He has Ross come up to assist him. Mike shows three pictures of three serial killers - Ted Bundy, John Wayne Gacy, and Charlie Manson. He then asked for anyone in the audience with the names of Ted, John, or Chuck, then added Charlie, stand up. 10-15 people stood up. He had Ross pick three people at random.

Then Mike asked one of the guys (the second guy that Ross selected) to choose any item in his house. The guy, named John, selected a dresser. Mike had Ross write that on a white board as the murder weapon. Mike then asked another guy (the third guy selected by Ross) for the most exotic spot he'd vacationed. The guy, named Ted, said Hawaii. Ross wrote down Hawaii as the location. Then Mike had the final guy (the first guy selected by Ross) for his favorite celebrity that wasn't currently there. The guy, named Charlie, selected Tom Hanks. Now it's a bit suspect that Ross randomly chose three guys that each had one of the names. Why not two John's and one Ted? John is a much more common name. But it's possible to get one of each, suppose.

Mike then had Ross pick a time, any time, and that would be the time of the murder. Ross selected 3:13. The locked box was opened and the clear tube was pulled out and the rolled up paper from there. It said:

It will be Tom Hanks
It will take place in Hawaii
It will be done with a dresser
For the time of death, the truth will be in their HANDS

Then he had the audience hold out their hands and with UV light had them reveal 3:13 on their hands.

Matt thought some of the guys could have been plants. Hawaii seemed like an especially suspect random answer. I think that when the box was brought down and placed on a table the scroll was put in through a false bottom. It was all written up as people said their random selections. I don't know how the 3:13 was done without Ross being in on the trick. Any ideas?

Uri said he had a great name (Mike Super instead of Johnny von Awesome) and that his stage presence was good, like a big party, and a bit over the top.

Chriss said that at least he wasn't claiming to have psychic abilities and that he was more entertaining than the last act.

So who will go on to the next round? I think Guy, Jan, and Angela will continue and the other three will be kicked off. Find out if my prediction is correct in the next post.

P.S. It's late and this is long (2 1/2 hours of writing) so I haven't proofread it. It may have mistakes. I'll check through it again in the morning and update it if I notice anything. I'll make sure to use strikethrough so that you can see anything that's been updated.

Update the next day: Below is a clip of Jim's trick on You Tube. Also, Rebecca has a review up on Skepchick.

Related Posts
Phenomenon October 24, 2007
Phenomenon November 7, 2007
Phenomenon November 14, 2007

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4 comments: to “ Phenomenon October 31, 2007

  • mamacita chilena
    Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 9:54:00 PM CDT  

    I really enjoyed reading this, as always, so thanks for taking the time to write everything up.

    I'm so skeptical of almost all card tricks, mostly because my Grandpa was a card trick wizard, and I know he certainly didn't have any magic powers. Now he's dead and I so wish that I would've learned his tricks, but alas, he took them to the grave.

    Btw, was it the judge who thinks female magicians are sensual, or your husband? :)

  • ordinarygirl
    Friday, November 2, 2007 at 6:46:00 AM CDT  

    Ooops, that was Uri.

    Although I wouldn't mind my husband saying that. And I'd have to go out and learn some magic tricks if that was the case. But that's so out of character for him that it's funny. :)

  • Anonymous
    Monday, November 5, 2007 at 9:58:00 PM CST  

    For the flower picking guy, the girl chooses and pulls out the flower too quickly for the magician to attach a note, I think. I think there are notes attached to all 3 flowers. When she pulls out the lily, he uses his thumb (hidden behind the vase, which I think has an opening for his thumb) to knock off the notes on the two remaining flowers. Less dexterity needed and he has more time to do it. Thanks you for posting your ideas though! I read the blog while watching the show online and your post gave me a lot of ideas.

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