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Joshua Quinn
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Random question: What's the worst (or, if you will, best) you've been fooled when there was nobody trying to fool you? That is, when the elements around you just happened to come together in a way that played tiddly-winks with your perceptions and made you think you saw something impossible?

For me it was just a few months ago. I was in a restaurant, looking out the window onto the street but not really paying much attention. I saw a guy walking past on the sidewalk, and suddenly, in the blink of an eye, he transformed into a completely different person. Seriously -- different clothes, different height, different face, different hair. Instantaneously, in broad daylight, in mid-stride. And as the ads would say, "visibly, with no cover." In fact, if I somehow turned the experience into a marketed effect and wrote an ad for it, you would assume the ad was full of gross exaggerations and would say disparaging things about it in the Good, Bad & Garbage section. It was honestly one of the most startling things I've ever witnessed.

So how did it happen? Simple really. I said I was looking out the window but not paying much attention. If I had been paying attention, I would have realized that what I was perceiving as a multi-paned window was really two things: #1) half of a multi-paned window, the other half of which was blocked from my view by... #2) a floor-to-ceiling mirror, perpendicular to the window, in which I was seeing the reflection of the visible half of the window, thereby giving the illusion of a whole window. The mirror was actually set back a couple feet from the window, but from my angle, its edge lined up perfectly with the edge of one of the window panes. In other words, the forces of fate and coincidence had effectively conspired to build a giant mirror box for my eyes only. The person I saw initially was a reflection in the mirror, and his reflection just happened to reach the mirror's edge at the exact instant that someone else, approaching from the other direction, emerged from "behind" the mirror and came into view. So the guy appeared to transform as he passed the divider between two window panes. The timing and the body positions were both so perfectly synchronized as to make any illusion show choreographer weep.

Of course, the illusion was broken a second later, when the "original" person came into my field of view from the other direction and I detected the mirror. But for that brief moment I had one of those flashes of pure white-light astonishment that we read about in Paul Harris books, when you suddenly find that all your comfortable and well-worn assumptions about how the universe works have taken an unannounced vacation and not left the number where they'll be staying. (The PH analogy is especially appropriate since the episode was, in effect and method, not unlike being inside a real-life version of his "Twilight Angels" blown up to fifty times its normal size -- and if that's not a kick, I don't know what would be.) Apart from being a memorable experience in and of itself, it was a powerful reminder of what drew me to magic in the first place, and of what we can, at our best, inspire in others.

Speaking of others... any other stories out there?

Every problem contains the seeds of its own solution. Unfortunately every problem also contains the seeds of an infinite number of non-solutions, so that first part really isn't super helpful.
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This is an honest-to-goodness true story:

My friend Jim was fooling around with a deck of cards at work the other day. He was doing some simple swing cuts, fans and tabled shuffles. The cards exploded at one point and all fell to the floor, table and everywhere, as happens to all of us sometimes. I helped him pick them up and he squared them all up, but some were face up and some were face down. He righted the deck so they were all face down, and when he turned them over, ALL EXCEPT FOR ONE CARD was in perfect black and red seperation. There were 25 red cards, and then 26 black cards with one red card mixed in. Believe me: he is not NEARLY skilled enough to have culled them, and I had my eye on this deck the entire time. We were both shocked, and I can't even imagine what the odds on this occurring are. Wow, it was a really cool thing! No one but he and I saw it, or even would have cared. Fooled the heck out of me.

Jay Smile
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