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Real or Magic
July 16, 2014 5:43 PM   Subscribe

Sometimes the best thing about David Blaine's magic tricks are the reactions he elicits. A rather Regarding Henry-ish Harrison Ford: "Get the fuck outta my house." A predictably overwrought Ricky Gervais: "Oh for fuck's sake!" Or maybe you just enjoy seeing someone manhandling George W. Bush while the President maintains a look of childlike wonder.
posted by paleyellowwithorange (63 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's certainly a rick joke there.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 5:51 PM on July 16


The part where Harrison Ford says, "Get the fuck out of my house" had me rolling.
posted by kbanas at 5:52 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


The first video has been pulled. I guess Harrison Ford's lawyers work mighty fast?
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 5:55 PM on July 16


The first video has been pulled. I guess Harrison Ford's lawyers work mighty fast?


Still works for me. Hrm.
posted by kbanas at 5:56 PM on July 16


Watching the George Bush video, it's so obvious when he takes his watch and yet I completely missed it the first time around.
posted by angerbot at 5:57 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


See how it looks...

See how it looks like...

See how it looks...
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:58 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


Okay, can someone with knowledge of sleight-of-hand tell me what the fuck is going on in the Harrison Ford video? Is he in on it the whole time? How is this even possible? D:
posted by jpolchlopek at 6:03 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


The first video has been pulled.
It hasn't, just open it in youtube itself.
posted by slater at 6:05 PM on July 16


Is Harrison Ford okay? He looks really freaked out. Like, I want to get him a blanket to hide under.
posted by palomar at 6:07 PM on July 16 [7 favorites]


Is Harrison Ford okay? He looks really freaked out. Like, I want to get him a blanket to hide under.

In his recent Reddit AMA, someone ask Ford, "Harrison, are you still freaked out by David Blaine's card trick?" Ford's response was: "Yes, he's a spooky guy. I mean, obviously he's a great manipulator of both objects and people, and he's very talented, and I really enjoyed what he does."
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 6:09 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Ford generally looks freaked out by the world when he's not in character. The most obvious secret to that trick is that he was in on it, but that's not much fun.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 6:10 PM on July 16


...predictably overwrought Ricky Gervais...

While granted, Gervais is prone to a certain ,um.. exaggerated timbre ,
its David Blaine, so he probably really just did drive a sharpened motorcycle spoke through his bicep, making it a pretty reasonable reaction.
"fucking mental" indeed.
posted by The Legit Republic of Blanketsburg at 6:13 PM on July 16


Here is a link to one guy explaining the card in the lemon trick.

Here is needle through arm explanation.

Fooling GWB is no trick.
posted by 724A at 6:15 PM on July 16 [11 favorites]


724A, the lemon explanation totally hinges on the "force", which doesn't seem to an element of the Blaine/Ford version at all. He just asks him to "think of a card."
posted by paper chromatographologist at 6:36 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


And the needle in the arm wasn't done that way either.
posted by Invisible Green Time-Lapse Peloton at 6:39 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


The needle in the arm may have been done in a similar way in that Ricky says something about that being glue. Or maybe RG had seen it already done with the rubber cement and was trying to see if Blaine did it the same way.

Blaine does ask Ford to think of a card and then asks him to pick any fruit that can be cut in half. While it appears random in both cases, I am not convinced of it. I would like to see the entire sequence and interaction between Blaine and Ford. HF seemed stoned as a bejesus too if you ask me.
posted by 724A at 6:44 PM on July 16 [3 favorites]


I was doubly freaked out while watching the Harrison Ford video when he stated the card he'd picked. I was playing along at home, and I had also thought of the nine of hearts.

Still think Harry was in on it.
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 6:45 PM on July 16 [4 favorites]


Not sure if it's done the same way, but here is Harry "The Hat" Anderson doing the bloody arm trick back in the 80s.
posted by gwint at 7:00 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


angerbot: Watching the George Bush video, it's so obvious when he takes his watch and yet I completely missed it the first time around.

Me too. I love pickpocket magic. The card trick is also much easier to understand if you're watching his hands on a second pass through - I wish I could say the same about the orange and spike.
posted by curious.jp at 7:00 PM on July 16


Yeah but George W believed the Iraq war was some biblical reckoning, so...
posted by glaucon at 7:04 PM on July 16


HF seemed stoned as a bejesus too if you ask me.

If I had David Blaine in my kitchen asking me to do stuff for his trick, I would also look stoned in person, much less on tape, when responding. The idea that "this dude is about to do something un-fucking-believable and I don't know what that even is yet" would probably overwhelm anyone, even the guy who shot first (in at least 2 cases).
posted by timfinnie at 7:08 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


I think the card track for Harrison Ford is essentially a variation on the one linked above. He gets Mr. Ford to say the card aloud, and then he cuts open the lemon. Presuming it's prepped and he's good at sleight of hand, I bet he could slip the pre-rolled 9 of hearts (or w/e) into the lemon as he's about to cut it. He probably had to manipulate the environment to make it possible (i.e., have a plan B if the topmost, brightest fruit is not selected), but that trick wasn't nearly as freaky as shoving a spike through your arm.
posted by axiom at 7:11 PM on July 16


I don't know much about magic, but I went to a professional magic show once and much to my bewilderment was called on stage. Without getting into too many details, a really amazing thing happened while I was up there. At the end of the set, the magician caused me to say something that was part of the trick. What I mean was, at that very moment, I knew I had been manipulated but the audience did not. They were too busy clapping and I had that textbook dumb grin on my face and walked back to my seat. The natural pressure of the moment, and the momentum of the show, precluded me from doing anything else. I was blindsided. I was happy. It was executed very well.

To the audience, my actions and comments appeared genuine. I lend credibility to the act. I've always been curious to what length David Blaine goes to pull off a trick. It's also interesting to me that most people might think it's not "honorable" for a magician to manipulate a video, or go to tremendous lengths pre-shoot. When done well, it just adds an entirely new level of unbelievability.

But what's interesting to me is the idea that Harrison Ford could be expressing genuine disbelief and yet know a little more about what happened, or be having a different experience, than the viewer. Which makes me wonder if an NDA was signed. If you look closely, the end of the orange in which the card was inserted is facing Harrison, and David kind of turns it around for him.
posted by phaedon at 7:14 PM on July 16 [9 favorites]


LOOK HOW I CUT MYSELF FOR YOU RICKY GERVAIS! I BLEED ONLY FOR YOU! DO THE FUNNY DANCE FROM THE OFFICE!
posted by turbid dahlia at 7:14 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Let me ask my mom what David Blaine's secrets are. She has been ruining the magic of magic for me since early childhood, when Lance Burton had a TV special seemingly every other week of summer vacation.

And let me tell you, no one has ever made an elephant disappear under my watch!
posted by sevenofspades at 7:39 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


In high school the vice principal caught my friend and me skipping fifth period at the cheese shop in the village center. Don't ask. Anyway, we were both given in-school suspension, real first circle stuff. You sit around all day and pretend to study while an office assistant pretends to give a shit about her job.

Because we were friends and notorious roisterers there was no way in hell they'd put us both in stir on the same day. Mine passed first, hours of tedium. The next day it was my buddy's turn. He knows a few magic tricks. One of them is the needle through the arm trick.

It must have been third period for the rest of us when he walked over to the office assistant with a straightened paper clip stuck through his arm and said "I'm not feeling so good, can I get a pass to see the school nurse?" Just in case she hadn't noticed, he reached over and gave the paper clip a wiggle.

She blanched and screamed at him to go, just go to the infirmary, no pass needed, so he did. On his way he removed the paper clip, which he slipped into a random locker, and peeled away the rubber cement. When he met the nurse, his arm was clean, and he acted confused.

The nurse wanted to know about his arm, and why he was hurting himself during in-school suspension, and he just said he was feeling a little nauseated so he asked the assistant if he could see the nurse and she freaked out. The nurse was mystified, took his temperature, and sent him back with a clean bill of health.

When he got back to the clink, the vice principal was waiting for him. "I don't know what you did but I have an office assistant who had to go home early because she was so upset, and now I have to proctor this in-school suspension instead of doing the work I'm paid to do! If I ever find out what you did, you'll be in big trouble."

My friend just shrugged. That's what I call magic.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 8:24 PM on July 16 [31 favorites]


If you haven't seen the parody series, it's worth a couple minutes. OR IS IT?
posted by milquetoast at 8:47 PM on July 16 [8 favorites]


The really inexplicable part of the Harrison Ford trick is getting Ford to pick the nine of hearts. Notice the video starts part way into the trick-- Blaine is already saying "Think of any card in the deck," but Ford isn't even looking at the deck.

My guess is that just before this video starts, Blaine has already done something to fix a particular card in Ford's mind, for example in a technique shown in this video.

So Ford has a card that's sort of in the front of his mind and the camera starts rolling and Blaine asks him to think of a card. Then he tells him the card isn't in this deck he just saw it in. So when Ford starts looking through the deck, he's aware of this card he just was quickly shown, and he notices that it's missing from the deck (and it's the only missing card). Only at this point does Blaine ask Ford what card he was thinking of.
posted by justkevin at 8:59 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


Looks like the whole special is online here. I love magic y'all.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 9:23 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I'd like to see Houdini vs David Blaine. I'm guessing Houdini would smoke Blaine. (No offense to Blaine intended.)
posted by InsertNiftyNameHere at 10:21 PM on July 16


I've been thinking about it and I'm pretty sure Blaine cut out most of his arm muscle so he could do that trick. The same with his hand, I think he literally just had some kind of insane magician surgery.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 11:12 PM on July 16 [2 favorites]


Yeah, when the doctor said "he doesn't have X-ray vision and can't see the arteries in his hand" my thought immediately went to manipulating the arteries with surgery or other methods to create a clear path. Also it's interesting that he implies that his right hand is most important to him, but one of the key words that flashes during the intro is "LEFTY" which I suspect is a reference to his handedness and politics. Sleight...of handedness
posted by aydeejones at 11:28 PM on July 16


I guess the point is really "this hand is the one I poke things through, $$$$$$" rather than "I need this to shuffle things lol"
posted by aydeejones at 11:28 PM on July 16


Note: I have consumed alcohol between viewing and commenting and just clicked through, and he's poking through his left hand. Now I must re-watch, but have a meeting in 6.5 hours. What to do
posted by aydeejones at 11:30 PM on July 16 [1 favorite]


I hope Dubya gives his Secret Service detail a good ribbing after this; Blaine did steal his watch right under their noses...
posted by Harald74 at 12:11 AM on July 17


They say the greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he had totally stuck a sharpened spoke through his bicep.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:30 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


justkevin: "My guess is that just before this video starts, Blaine has already done something to fix a particular card in Ford's mind, for example in a technique shown in this video."

Or he could just line up like 52 of these celebrity magic tricks, and the expected value of one person happened to be Harrison Ford.
posted by pwnguin at 1:41 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Is David Blaine just a creepy pick up artist?

My favourite reaction to one of David Blaine's street magic thingies was a small child who did not react to the trick. Completely nonplussed, like they hadn't formed an opinion on that matter yet so anything was possible as far as they were concerned.
posted by asok at 2:16 AM on July 17 [3 favorites]


I really could not care either way about if he did or didn't he stick a needle through his arm, but I am going to have goddamn nightmares about the "see how it looks ... see how it looks like .. see how it looks ...".

Fuck you David Blaine.
posted by arha at 2:24 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


My favourite reaction to one of David Blaine's street magic thingies was a small child who did not react to the trick. Completely nonplussed, like they hadn't formed an opinion on that matter yet so anything was possible as far as they were concerned.

I've heard that magicians, in general, find that very young children are the hardest to perform for--since their grip on object permanence and causality is still shaky, they don't really build expectations of what "should" happen, and so the twist carries no weight for them.
posted by kagredon at 2:32 AM on July 17


Fuck you David Blaine.

Wait til they get home and find out what's in their asses
posted by phaedon at 2:34 AM on July 17 [4 favorites]


Or he could just line up like 52 of these celebrity magic tricks, and the expected value of one person happened to be Harrison Ford.

That's probably how Derren Brown would do it...
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:59 AM on July 17


oldie but goodie
posted by odinsdream at 4:32 AM on July 17


I think you dreamed it; clicking does nothing...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 4:44 AM on July 17


[I've made the malformed HTML... disappear. *stumbles over wires, "disappears" through trap door*]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:04 AM on July 17 [5 favorites]


My guess is that just before this video starts, Blaine has already done something to fix a particular card in Ford's mind, for example in a technique shown in this video.

So Ford has a card that's sort of in the front of his mind and the camera starts rolling and Blaine asks him to think of a card.


When magicians claim that the way they did a trick was to "make" someone pick a certain card is, itself, part of the trick.
posted by odinsdream at 5:48 AM on July 17


As an ex amateur magician, it pleases me a lot to see that in spite of the number of trick-busting videos there are out there, a good magician doing an effect really well will still cause intelligent people to express utter bafflement, or claim that it isn't a trick and "he must have really stuck a needle through his arm", and so on.

No. It's a trick. The whole point of a trick is to fool people. To amaze people. Even smart people like you. No, especially smart people like you. It's something that all magicians notice: it's often easier to fool intelligent, rational, logical people than it is to fool the less intelligent. Or kids. Really young kids can sometimes be the hardest to fool because they haven't yet fully figured out how reality normally works. Magic tricks rely on pandering to and reinforcing your expectations of how the world works, and then not doing that. So that you don't notice. With an outcome that blows your mind.

Ways to know that a magic trick is really good include when it produces the following responses.

1. That's impossible, it must be a camera trick.

2. That's impossible, he must be using a stooge.

3. That's impossible, it can't be a trick; he must really be doing that through some sort of yogic training or something.

Nope. Tricks. Sorry.

I'm of the old school and I don't like revealing secrets to tricks, because for me it takes away that very sense of astonishment I have mentioned. Which, for most magicians, is the whole point. It's what we seek. So to give secrets away casually is to be a spoilsport and a killjoy, in my view. I think that if you are truly interested enough to want the knowledge, it's there to be found if you put in the effort we old-school magicians used to have to. Visit the specialists. Read the books. Join the clubs. And so on.

As for Blaine's force, all I'll say is that there are a lot of extremely cunning gimmicked decks out there in magic land. That is all.
posted by Decani at 6:28 AM on July 17 [8 favorites]


Callista Flockhart has vanished completely and just become a disembodied voice and Harrison Ford is freaked out by a card trick?
posted by srboisvert at 6:51 AM on July 17


ford looks absolutely blunted, you could have done this trick and he would have passed out.

I've always loved The Amazing Jonathan , this knife in arm trick in particular. "It's a trick!" I can kinda figure that out, but Blaine's arm poke thing ups the quick factor by several degrees.
posted by BlerpityBloop at 6:55 AM on July 17


One of my favourite no fucking way reactions to a magic trick is this one.

Stephen Fry and Derren Brown.
posted by Decani at 7:09 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


I get a kick out of Lennart Green's act here.
posted by mrbigmuscles at 7:20 AM on July 17 [2 favorites]


IANAM, but, to me, in the Harrison vid, it looks like David could have palmed the curled card in his left hand, and pushed it through the orange as he is cutting it. As he pulls the orange apart, it briefly looks like he may still be using his left hand to push the card through the orange. Also, he likely curled the card to give it enough stability to push through the orange. If Harrison had chosen an apple perhaps this would not have been as feasible though.
posted by xmattxfx at 8:18 AM on July 17



As an ex amateur magician, it pleases me a lot to see that in spite of the number of trick-busting videos there are out there, a good magician doing an effect really well will still cause intelligent people to express utter bafflement, or claim that it isn't a trick and "he must have really stuck a needle through his arm", and so on.

No. It's a trick. The whole point of a trick is to fool people. To amaze people. Even smart people like you. No, especially smart people like you.


I think for this one, the trick is convincing the audience that it's an illusion, that no one would actually stick a needle through their arm, that'd be crazy.

Blaine does stunts that require great physical preparation and pushing his body to the limits for the sake of his performance. He broke the world record for oxygen assisted breath holding.

Here is a video of Tim Cridland ("The Torture King") sticking a needle through his arm and it looks exactly like Blaine's "trick" except that he actually completes the penetration.

posted by justkevin at 8:33 AM on July 17


Blaine does stunts that require great physical preparation and pushing his body to the limits for the sake of his performance.

Yes, that is indeed what he tells you and how it appears.

:-)
posted by Decani at 9:18 AM on July 17 [1 favorite]


Blaine does stunts that require great physical preparation and pushing his body to the limits for the sake of his performance.

Yes, that is indeed what he tells you and how it appears.

:-)


Well, he briefly held the world record for oxygen-assisted breath holding.

Even though several people have since passed his record by a considerable margin, I'd say it probably required quite a lot of physical preparation.
posted by justkevin at 11:22 AM on July 17


If Harrison had chosen an apple perhaps this would not have been as feasible though.

He did take the fruit that was at the top of the pile, and would have had to displace that one to select a lower one.

Also, sideshow performers used to routinely pass needles through their flesh. They were called "geeks."
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:36 AM on July 17


I have always been a fan of Penn & Teller's attempts to let people behind the curtain and de-mystify magic. I am well aware that magic is done by tricks and sleight of hand.

At that same time, I have seen several of David Blaine's close-magic specials, and I remain half-convinced that he is actually some sort of demon.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 11:40 AM on July 17


I like Harry Anderson.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 4:05 PM on July 17


> "I think for this one, the trick is convincing the audience that it's an illusion, that no one would actually stick a needle through their arm, that'd be crazy."

... And he happens to have a body that somehow completely lacks blood? And he can stick a needle into his arm and pull it out without leaving, you know, a hole behind?

Come on. The 'he really stuck a needle all the way through his arm' explanation is actually the far LESS plausible one here after a moment's thought.
posted by kyrademon at 6:17 PM on July 17


... And he happens to have a body that somehow completely lacks blood? And he can stick a needle into his arm and pull it out without leaving, you know, a hole behind?

Did you watch the Tim Cridland video? It looks almost exactly the same, except Tim Cridland is a guy famous for sticking needles into himself, not magic, so people don't assume there's a trick to it.
posted by justkevin at 9:11 PM on July 17


I buy this, re: the hand piercing:

“Oh, that took me about 13 years. There was a lot of trial and error. It started with acupuncture needles.” Blaine told TV Guide regarding the illusion. “Well, actually, it started with a lot of MRIs and X-rays, mapping out everything in the hand. There are a lot of tendons and nerves in there.”
posted by aydeejones at 6:48 PM on July 19


And the same "fistula theory" (i.e. previously developed scarry piercing) doesn't seem all that out of bounds for the bicep either. When the doctor says "he doesn't have X-ray vision" it's like "well, he does have access to MRI technology which would show him the clearest path" and using alcohol helps whether it's an illusion or not, since damaging an area with low blood supply can lead to more severe infections. I definitely "buy it" in terms of the hand piercing which might give him more credibility on the bicep piercing. I think the first is more plausible than the second and gets him in the door, leading off the whole show intentionally.
posted by aydeejones at 6:52 PM on July 19


It isn't clear from the Blaine videos whether the end protrudes or not, which seems like an important point. If he was actually doing a completely practical effect it seems like he would milk that further by pushing the needle end all the way, yet he appears to avoid this, which must indicate something about the special effect mechanics.

Notably there is no scar tissue visible, as can be seen in aydeejones' link. I'm leaning towards special effect.
posted by odinsdream at 9:36 AM on July 21


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