February 21st, 2013

hc svnt dracones

a great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is deep.

but when you're a detective, when you don't need the illusion, you sacrifice enjoying the trick.

i've spoken a few times about a 'mentalist', lior suchard, who has made a few appearances on the tonight show.
i was impressed by his showmanship and wondered whether, hoped in fact, there was something more than met the eye.
his tricks seemed impenetrable, but as the number of performances increases, likewise the likelihood of slipping up.
on his last perfomance on this episode (it's the second to last segment at about the 30 minute mark, but you could also just see this clip which shows the relevant majority of his appearance"), he got sloppy and gave himself away. it's somewhat pleasing to play detective and figure him out, but it's still disappointing to uncover his mundanity.

if the clip is no longer available at hulu, or if you don't feel like watching, i can summarize thus, moving backward:
suchard for his trick picks an 8-digit number which, when turned upside down on a calculator (when kids we all learned that 8008 spelled boob or 1134 spelled hell) appears to spell 'leno show' (he requires a slight alteration to turn a 4 into w); that number is 40450437. he then proceeds to pretend that jay and his guest james spader have randomly selected this number by performing a series of calculations with random numbers on spader's phone's calculator. unfortunately, the way suchard set it up, making all of the numbers public except a private 5-digit number to be entered by spader, it was impossible for the result to be an 8-digit number, instead resulting in at most a 7-digit number. moreover, the final procedure was to multiply an unknown number by 31 and 40450437 is not divisible by 31. so it was clear that rather than actually carrying out any arithmetic, suchard simply typed the number 40450437 into spader's calculator before revealing it to the audience. spader was looking on, which means he was in on the trick, which to me is the most disappointing part. because, you see, virtually all of the prior performances by suchard are easily explained if the celebrity is in on the trick but denying it. and that is clearly now the method suchard employs.

anyway, suchard goes on to reveal a 'randomly' selected dollar bill from a bowl of 300 bills and it has the serial number J40450437L -- the j & l for jay leno, and the number being the selected number from the earlier trick. once again suchard is sloppy and makes it easy to show he's not being genuine: the bill shown has a 2009 print date, but according to the (in my experience) completely accurate where's george website, the only one dollar bill which could bear that serial number is a 1995 bill. it's clear that suchard created a false bill bearing the chosen serial number. a little sleight of hand or jay being in on the trick allows his selected bill to be the one jay 'chooses'.

and so the trick is revealed.
ah well, so it goes.