Sunday, 5 January 2014

My 5 2014 Resolutions

  1. Pass Year 4 (a MUST!)
  2. Lose weight to around 65 kg
  3. Learn & master the acoustic guitar
  4. Performing my dream magic routine (putting in a lot of effort e.g. writing the scripts, selecting and sorting different magical effects, creating the plots that make up the routine,  etc.)
  5. Travel overseas

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Gambling Technique :: Bottom Dealing

S.W. Erdnase's Bottom Dealing Description

The art of dealing from the bottom, although not the most difficult to attain, is perhaps the most highly prized accomplishment in the repertory of the professional. The bottom is the most convenient place for retaining desirable cards during the shuffle or riffle, and perfection in dealing from that position obviates to a great extent the necessity of stocking, as the cards can be dealt at will, and consequently need not be run up in a certain order. Like acquiring many other feats, a perfect understanding of the exact manner in which it is performed will avoid the principal difficulties. Practice will soon do the rest.

2 Months into Bottom Dealing!

However, I have evolved from using the conventional, antiquated Erdnase's grip when dealing from the bottom because of the possibility of 'knuckle flash' and it is very difficult to attain good rhythm this way.  I am currently using Gene Maze's grip to deal from the bottom. I have learnt both these techniques from Jason England's 'Foundations' DVD produced by Theory11. In the first video, I demonstrated the technique with face-down Aces whereas in the second video, I did it with them facing up. There is no doubt that my current execution of the technique is in need of more refinements. Constructive comments are much appreciated.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Magic & Nostalgia

This short is hauntingly beautiful. It inadvertently reminded me of the great times spent with grandpa when I was a little boy. As we grow older, we tend to dismiss magic as something trivial or childish because we have developed our own beliefs on how the world works. I did, like many, lost connection with magic until I rediscovered that "child's state of mind" when I was 16. Since then, I never looked back. Magic has always had a profound effect on me, and this short has just reinforced that, time and again. 
Astonishment is not an emotion that's created. It's an existing state that's revealed  Paul Harris, The Art of Astonishment Book 1

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Steve Forte :: Spring Street Aces

As the cards are sprung face up from hand to hand, the dealer is able to stop dead on an Ace. This is repeated three more times until all four Aces have been found. An impeccable feat to say the least. I immediately fell in love with this fancy 4-card production when I first saw David Williamson performed it at the 2010 Blackpool Magic Convention. It is direct, visual production with easy get-ready. Originally published in Channel One Magazine (Vol. 2, issue #6, Dec 2000) by Steve Forte under the heading 'Springing the Aces' (currently out of print), it is available on Dan & Dave's website in the following link:

Here is the performance by the creator himself, Mr. Steve Forte.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Fresh from My Magic Notes :: Con Cam Coincidencia (3C) Revisited

Huei Xiang's Con Cam Coincidencia Comments

Paul Wilson’s Con Cam Coincidencia is one of the most impossible effect that I learnt and performed on a daily basis after purchasing it from Dan & Dave’s On Demand section. This effect is procedurally chaotic, interactive and yet deceptively simple. Inspired by Chad Long’s The Shuffling Lesson first published in Paul Harris’s book Art of Astonishment 3 and ideas by Juan Tamariz, Con Cam Coincidencia involves the participation of several members, thus providing good entertainment for them because they are not only actively involved in achieving the desired magical effect but the magic also happens in their very own hands! This sublime trick also enables the magician to go about the various means of presenting the effect to deliver the maximum impact to his audience. All I could say is 3C screams pure magic and high entertainment value.

Con Cam Coincidencia Revisited is an infinitesimal variation of Paul R. Wilson's Con Cam Coincidencia devised to suit my current performing style. I wanted to add a mentalism aesthetic to the effect by eliminating the mundane selection process of a card and replacing it with a phase that requires a spectator to randomly think of a card in his or her mind and writing it down on a folded piece of paper (before it is folded into quarters and being paper-clipped). It also strengthens the effect because the mind selection process is made prior to the introduction of a completely normal, preferably brand new deck of cards. However, I leave it to your discretion on whether or not to use a new deck of playing cards whenever you decide to perform this effect. However, I strongly believe that the image of a brand-new, sealed deck of cards prior to the effect adds to the impossibility of its outcome.

To peek at what was written on a blank piece of paper, which was subsequently folded into quarters, I use M. Longman's Acidus Novus (Wayne Houchin, Stigmata). While secretly looking at the selection written on it, I would ask the spectator to put his or her initials on the folded piece under the pretense of exposing the fact that magicians sometimes switch items during the performance of a conjuring trick, and to ensure that the credibility of the trick performed, it would be prudent to necessitate the signing of the paper. After the paper is signed, you should be able to know the identity of the selection and it is highly advisable that you distance yourself as far away as possible from it. This action creates a vivid mental picture in the spectator's mind which makes it impossible for the most observant spectators to backtrack. To accentuate my action as an honest demonstration of pure magical feat, I would proceed further to maximize the impact of initial action made by introducing a paper clip to clip the folded piece into a position which is utterly impossible for the inscription to be peeked at from any angle of course, the clipping action should be done by the spectator himself/herself.

There are 2 options for you to choose for the following procedure of the trick. You can either request the spectator to leave the clipped piece on the table in front of everyone's sight or you can instruct the spectator to keep it in his/her shirt or trouser pocket until the climax of the effect. Continue by removing a brand-new, sealed deck of playing cards and introduce it to the spectators. To maximize audience participation, hand the deck over to another spectator (the leading spectator is the one who was required to mentally pick a card) so that he or she can remove the seal, takes the deck out and shuffle it thoroughly. The deck can be shuffled as many times by different spectators before you request it to be returned to you.

Ribbon spread the deck face-up to show that each card in the deck is different from one another. While explaining that all the cards are different, remove all the Jokers from the spread and hand them over to the spectator for safe keeping. The removal of the Jokers from the deck should be made logic that they are wild cards and play no importance in this particular effect. Close the spread and hand the deck over to the spectator by your side for a final shuffle (not necessary). In the interest of secrecy, proceed with the rest of the effect as explained in the original footage.

Original description by Huei Xiang (2011).

That's Most Unfortunate! :(

A gash over my left upper eyelid when collided with a feisty defender while playing football in the stadium. I accept that accidents are part and parcel of sports. Received 5 stitches to close up the wound and was given ATT and prophylactic antibiotics from my family GP. All is well :)

My Home-Made Oreo Ice-Cream Cake!

Yummy! Thanks to Laura Vitale for the recipe! :D

Fresh from My Magic Notes :: Simple Card Colour Change :: The Vending Machine Subtlety

In my opinion, the simplest yet one of the most effective card colour change is achieved by a simple DL and snapping the top card into revelation. The Vending Machine Subtlety utilizes this technique and the fact that the vending machines reject any foreign note-like objects inserted into the notes slot. Therefore, instead of snapping the top card into revelation (colour change into the selected card, etc.) the conjuror can insert the card into the notes slot to achieve the same, if not more startling, effect. It is obvious that the presence of a vending machine is warranted, and the performer's ability to identify its presence within the performing environment and use it in the course of his magic routines make his magic organic and nothing short of a miracle. This effect can be strengthened if the selection is signed and the deck is borrowed.

Original description by Huei Xiang.

Two-Handed Shift (The Classic Pass) Attempt

Magic jam session with Gino Lee and Eric Heng. My attempt at executing the two-handed shift, arguably one of the most difficult yet fundamental sleight of hand with cards. The original description of the two-handed shift (the classic pass) can be found in The Expert at the Card Table by S.W Erdnase, page 98.

Witness the Magic

A playing card is freely selected. A Joker sealed inside a ziplock sandwich bag is introduced and is examined completely. It is then placed in the palms of the spectator’s very own hands!. Almost instantly, or magically if you will, the Joker transforms into the selected card!

I have sent this video’s link to Lee Asher via an e-mail and I am extremely happy that he watched it and provided really helpful performance tips based on my performance of Witness in this clip. For my fellow magicians out there, feel free to read his invaluable advice below.

Lee Asher's Comment

Hey Huei Xiang,

Thanks for emailing me with a link to your performance of WITNESS.
Overall, you did a very nice job of performing it and handling your audience.

You received strong reaction, “No Shit man!” is good!

If I had to comment on anything, (and there’s very little to comment
on) it would be the ending where your spectator asks you about the
location of the joker. I believe by really emphasizing that the Joker
becomes the card, it drives home the effect. In my opinion, I’d rather
have something change in my hand than trans-locate from my hand.

The next time you do it, when you put the ‘Joker’ into their hand and
have the card returned to the fan – this is when you start pressing
the fact the Joker will TRANSFORM into their card. Hope that makes some sense. Thanks again for sharing.

Speak with you soon Huei Xiang.

Lee Asher

Old, Possibly Antiquated Facebook Note

I have purchased Interlok last week to see what the fuss is all about and completed my reading yesterday night. I personally believe that the issue plaguing the Malay literature text Interlok should not have been brought up in the first place, owing to the fact that the novel was written and published some 4 decades ago. I am utterly perplexed on why the MIC is throwing a tantrum on the issue in question that should have been put to bed long ago.

Individuals and organisations that oppose the novel to be made as a school text book are ignorant of the fact that the word pariah used is of paramount importance in the context of the novel. Mala Rajagopal, who boasts herself as a teacher of Malay language and History in her letter to The Star (Jan 17 2011 issue, N40), is of the opinion that the book will encourage learners to use the crude term rampantly. She also, in the subsequent passage, superficially pointed out that Interlok has failed to increase the learner’s knowledge, instill social values and above all uplift their self-esteem and self-worth as an individual.

It was a terribly irresponsible and false opinion from her as an educator. It implied that she took the novel at face value and utterly failed to discover the hidden theme of racial unity subtly accentuated throughout the novel. She also failed to acknowledge that as an educator, she assume the heavy responsibility to engage her students in intellectual in-class discussions on wide range of topics pertaining to the novel, such as the etymology of the term used, its widespread social ramifications to the past and current generations, etc. Only from these productive discussions, students are provoked to think creatively and critically. In other words, they should be encouraged to think within the bounds of logic and reason (rational) and not allow themselves to be emotionally swayed by lax, tempting opinions of individuals or organisations who intend to deceive the general public just to gain political mileage. Besides, via the literature texts analysed, a teacher is responsible in educating the students on how to use such derogatory words appropriately.

It also saddens me to read the following opinion from Mala, who is such a respectable member of the society and who also undoubtly plays an important role in educating the future leaders of our motherland. She, with such an admirable brevity, wrote that it is a shame that despite times have changed and much progress taken place we still insist that these young children revisit this particular aspect of the past. I, however, beg to differ. It is not a shame that children are encouraged to visit the dark side of history and benefited from it, but, it is indeed a shame if they are not given the adequate opportunity to do so just because someone without the full comprehension of the situation fears that it is detrimental to them. Being a History teacher herself, I am sure she will agree that history is bound to repeat itself as I am always reminded by my naggy History teacher and the subject textbook of that mundane but true italicised sentence. But how sure are we that the young Malaysian generation, particularly the Indian community, will not repeat that abhorring caste practices if they are deprived of indispensable historical knowledge of the issue in question, which I reckon can only be gained from literature texts such as Interlok ? Like the famous Malay proverb says tepuk dada tanya selera.

Just because something is controversial does not necessarily mean that we should refrain from discussing it and relating it to our younger generation. Like it or not, Interlok is there to stay and let us not be easily influenced by emotions when dealing with this issue.

Personal Level

I am a firm believer in delivering magic on a very personal level; I want my audience to experience the magic in what I do, because what I do is special to me, and hopefully through my presentation, they appreciate magic the way I do. From a male spectator’s perspective, it is perfectly understandable that the presence of a magician, who undeniably has the unlimited potential to impress and charm women with tricks, is seen as a threat to his role as an alpha male in the eyes of his female companions (or so he thinks of himself), and it is his primal response of trying to discourage the magician to perform using all possible means without appearing too dominating.

Although it was palpable that what I do is purely deception, I am convinced that magic is not only about the foolery of the mind, it is about drawing your audience’s attention away from analytical aspect of life into a seemingly impossible world, and guide them through a journey of experiencing the metaphors of magic, one of them is change. Have I lost you yet? In fact, the metaphors presented in magic speak volumes about life. Take change for instance. It is said that nothing is permanent and change is the only constant in the dynamic universe we are living in. Therefore, one should not be afraid of change. Change is presented in magic in such a way that what the audience perceives is unusual, completely different for what was used to linger in their mind; the logic. Magic bends reality and violates the logic, leading to astonishment and confusion. However, it is important to point out that astonishment and confusion are two distinct entities.

So what is the point of all this? If the magician is able to present his or her effects on a personal level, which means you treat your audience with utmost respect and you do not, by any means, trying to set yourself on a higher level or trying to be different from them, your presentation will be much more powerful in delivering the message of the effect. Performing magic at a personal level denies the audience with the opportunity to conclude that you, the magician, are merely trying to be ostentatious by showing cool tricks. Like what Daniel Madison said, you are just a normal person. Do not try to go beyond who you actually are. By that I do not mean that you allow yourself to be the subject of heckling or bullying by the group of people you are performing to. Just be yourself, allow your personality to flow into your magic and set yourself on par with your audience. Trust me, it will be a more pleasant, rewarding experience for both parties: to you, the magician, as well as to the audience.

Most magicians lose the impact in their magic today because they fail to present their magic as a form of art or what I regard as a beautiful piece of literature over a set period of 10, 30 or 45 minutes. Instead, they perform magic as a display of power, dexterity and knowledge that laymen do not possess. It is very loathsome when someone is trying to rub your nose into something you do not have knowledge of, isn’t it? They lose the respect for their own magic, let alone see it as an art, because their idea of magic is that if they meet the prerequisite technical requirement of a particular trick, they consider themselves to have achieved what is needed to be a good magician. Most of them, unfortunately, do not realise this grave misconception. If the exhibition of power, dexterity and knowledge is going to be the theme or motivation of every piece of magic that you perform, your magic disintegrate into stunts. From audience’s perspective, your magic is a piece of confusion, it is not a form of astonishment the way it supposed to be.

How are you going to appreciate something when you are confused by everything that is presented to you? Allow me to give an anology of the message that I am trying so fervently transmit across to whoever who is reading this article. Assuming that you are reading a Shakespearean sonnet. If you do not understand the metaphors or identify the salient message behind what was written, most likely you will not appreciate or respond positively to that particular piece of literature, although it was a masterpiece to individuals who truly understand it.

Same thing goes to magician-audience interaction. Magic is a piece of literature and it is the only medium that the magicians use to connect with his or her audience. Laymen are illiterate in magic, because the obvious answer is that they are non-magicians. Therefore it is of paramount importance that the magician plays a role in bridging the gap by ensuring that what he or she does during a magical performance is completely understood by them. Unless a magic is performed at a personal level and with pure dedication, it is going to be a declining art, and will continue to lose respect it deserves to be at the same level with other artforms such as music, play, etc.

Joking All Around

I was intrigued by the Joking Around effect taught by Lee Asher in his 1999 Five Card Stud DVD. Before you start learning this effect, I would encourage you to purchase the DVD and learn the original effect first. In this explanation, I will provide a very brief description about the methods employed throughout the trick without attempting to plagiarize the original explanation. However, this is my take on Mr. Asher’s effect using multiple selections. I use a pair of scissors to cut the folded Joker to divine the King of Diamond forced onto the spectator. 

Force the King of Diamond (first selection) and 7 of Diamond (second selection) to two different spectators using your favourite means. For smooth handling of the force, I use what I called The Hindu Displacement force which I’ll explain below. The selections are then returned to the deck and the deck can be shuffled by the spectators to their content. Spread the deck after it is shuffled and returned to you by the spectators. Pretend that you are having difficulty in searching for the selection. After several pretentious attempts, you resort to the Joker as your last attempt to save your magician’s pride.

You tell the spectators that the Joker is a wild card as all the cards are wild. The spectators will be amused by the patter. Proceed by folding the piece of Joker into quarters. It is important to keep track of the actual centre of the card in folded position. At the corner where the centre is located, use your scissors and cut off the corner diagonally (you should get a triangular piece of that corner). Set the triangular piece on the table. You should be able to notice that when you opened up the triangular piece which has been cut, it will form the shape of a diamond which reveals the suit of their selections. However, since it is important to keep the spectators in suspense, it is advised that you do not open up the piece yet.

With the remaining folded piece in your left hand, rotate it around so that the open long edge is at the top and the open short edge is to your left. If it is already in that prescribed position, good! At your upper right corner, cut another triangular piece off the folded card. Ditch these triangular pieces away as they do not take part in the revelation. Unfold the folded card and you will realize that it forms two conjugate K-shaped pieces. Simply tear the Joker into half and set it on the table in positions shown in the figure. Without delay, unfold the first triangular piece that you cut to form a diamond, thus, completing the revelation of the first selection, the King of Diamond.

The revelation of the 7 of Diamond is straightforward. Notice that if you actually tear one of the K-shaped pieces into half at its symmetrical line, it will form two 7s. However, I find it logical to tear both Ks half. All you have to do is take both K pieces from the table after you have revealed the King of Diamond and assemble them together. Tear both Ks at their symmetrical line, retaining the remaining pieces held in your left hand. Set them on the table as shown in the figure. Ditch the right hand pieces and you have completed the revelation of the second selection, the 7 of Diamond.

The Hindu Displacement force

This is a variation of the overused Hindu shuffle force. I will explain this method to you with the assumption that you have mastered the Hindu Shuffle. For this effect, cull the King of Diamond and the 7 of Diamond to the top and to the bottom of the deck respectively. Before you start, ask the first spectator to stop you anytime he or she likes as you start to shuffle the deck. After you have drawn the top portion of the deck into your left hand the first time you shuffle (top card is the King of Diamond), secretly steal about half of the left portion (the smaller the better) using your right thumb and middle finger as you continue to draw another portion of the packet from your right hand to your left.

It is important that you only steal the portion when the deck held in your right hand is completely above it and as you draw another portion off the deck in your right. A break is held between the 7 of Diamond and King of Diamond by right thumb and middle finger as you continue to shuffle off slowly. Estimate the moment the first spectator is going to call stop and when he does, ditch the portion below the break onto the shuffled-off pile of cards held in your left hand by releasing slight amount pressure of your right thumb and middle finger. It is very important at this point that you stop shuffling off the cards of the top packet held in your right hand to ensure that the King of Diamond is the top card in the left packet.

After ditching the portion below the break, notice that the 7 of Diamond is the bottom card of the packet held in your right. Remain in that position and proceed by extending your left hand so that the first spectator picks the card he or she stops you at. The King of Diamond is forced. The King of Diamond is now held by the first spectator as you start to Hindu shuffle the cards again for the second selection to another spectator.

At this moment, there are two options in which you can control the 7 of Diamond to the bottom of the deck again for the second Hindu shuffle. You can set the remaining portion held in your right on the one in your left, hold a break and execute a pass or you can simply set the left packet onto the right packet. Since the uniformity of action is of utmost importance to the magician, obtain a break above the bottom card (7 of Diamond) with the deck held in dealing grip using a simple pinky pull-down and transfer the break into the Hindu shuffle position. Repeat the procedure above with the exception that you do not have to steal cards at the very first of the shuffle and when the second spectator stops you, simply ditch the 7 of Diamond onto the shuffled-off cards in your left hand. Extend your left hand for the pick-up and the 7 of Diamond is forced.

Joking All Around Further Ideas

Force the King of Diamond using your favourite means. The selection is returned and is lost in the deck. Search and cull the Joker and the selection to the top and second from the top respectively. Turn over the top card to reveal the Joker and ask the spectator whether it is the selected card. As you ask and wait for the reply (you should know the answer would be a no), execute a top change to surreptitiously change the Joker into the selection and proceed with the method explained in the original effect, but it is important that you have to make sure that the back of the King of Diamond is seen by the spectator all the time.

After the two K-shaped pieces are formed to reveal the spectator’s selection with their backs facing up, simply turn them over to show that the face of the Joker has transformed into the King of Diamond as well. This surprising revelation would be an extra effect.

Original description by Huei Xiang (2010).

Portable Sandwich

Portable Sandwich is an effect inspired by Dan and Dave’s Seduction card sandwich effect taught in their lecture tour. It is visual, direct and completely in the hands effect, suitable for performing situation where you do not have any surface to work on for your card magic. This effect was originally published in my first set of lecture notes, mundus vult decipi.

A deck of cards is shuffled thoroughly and almost instantly 2 black Kings appear right in front of the spectator’s very own eyes. One of the Kings is set at the bottom of the deck whereas the other remains on top. The deck is spread and Mary, the spectator touches on any card she desires. The selection is out-jogged for Mary to glimpse her card and she is allowed to push the card in squared with the deck. The magician explains that he will use the Kings to find the selection. With just a riffle of the deck, the top and bottom King visually vanish from the spectator’s view. The deck is spread to find the 2 face up Kings surprisingly sandwiching a face down card, Mary’s selection


Start with the any mates on top of the deck with the top card face down and the other card face up (face-to-face). I would use the 2 black Kings in this explanation. False shuffle the deck of cards using the method you desire, maintaining the original order of the cards. Execute Lennart Green’s Top Shot to produce the Kings instantly.

After the production, set one of the Kings below the deck, with the other remains on top of the deck. The next part of the explanation, selecting a card and controlling it to the bottom of the deck, would be entirely based on Dan & Dave’s D.M.B Spread Control explained in one of their first sets of lecture notes, Nursery Rhymes 3, page 13. At the end of the control, you will have

(a) A face up King on top of the deck
(b) The rest of the deck
(c) A face up King second from bottom
(d) The face down selection at the bottom.

To sandwich the selection between the 2 Kings, execute a classic pass. The nature of the pass causes the top and bottom Kings to visually disappear in front of the spectator’s eyes very quickly. Show the top and bottom of the deck to prove that the Kings have disappeared, before spreading the entire deck showing that the selection in between the face up Kings in the deck. You are done with the effect.

Original description by Huei Xiang (2009).