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The Magic Memories (177)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Sunday Magic at Zauberring Basel; Jack McMillen Book; Shimpei And NHK On Magialdia Festival; More On Muttenz-Chicago Opener; Interview of Richard Vollmer by Yoan Tanuji of Magic Dream Paris; Méliès And Magialdia; Lest I Forget…; Final Wisdom

These are The Magic Memories 177, gone online Sunday, May 19, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Sunday Magic at Zauberring Basel

Every last Sunday of the month my magic club, the Zauberring Basel (ZRB), under the direction of club member Kevin Stieger, stages a two-hour event in the small theatre  that is our meeting location.

The idea is that of an “opens stage”, where members of the club, plus one or two invited guests from other Swiss clubs, or magicians who happen to be on their way through Basel, perform one or two short sets, most of it being “work in progress”.

We usually have an eager audience of thirty people, who get in for free, but are given the option of leaving an obolus in a top hat (where else…). The event is held from 4 to 6 pm, which has proven to be great timing.

Team of Sunday Magic April 28th, 2024

On this particular occasion Kevin had asked me to take care of the entire second part of the “show”, so I did a forty-minute spot, which seemed to please the crowd, as nobody left, and no-one neither threw tomatoes nor eggs 🙂

I am mentioning this for two reasons:

First, if you are member of a magic club, you may do as we do, and you will not only have happier club members, but also create a nice showcase for magic.

Second, on this particular afternoon, I suggested to have an all-close-up show. The performers at Sunday Magic usually work on a small stage, which for this occasion we sort of inverted: We placed one row of chairs on the stage, and a second row of bar stools, higher than the chairs, right behind this row, resulting in two rows on the stage itself.

In front of the stage we put another two rows of chairs.

So now we had four rows, the first two in a communicative semi-circle around the close-up table you can see on the photograph above. This provided excellent viewing conditions to all thirty spectators. (See the sub-chapter “The Parlor” in Stand-up Card Magic, p. 4,  for thoughts on how to seat an audience. BTW: The book is also available in German, French and Italian.)

Jack McMillen Book

I have mentioned Michael Landes’ book on the magic of Jack McMillen several times in this blog and other writings (e.g., see “On McMillen’s Card Control” in Confidences, p. 90).

Up to now it was only available as an e-book, but now Chris Wasshuber tells me that you can order a hardbound edition from him – CLICK HERE.

Jack McMillen by Michael Landes

Chris also tells me that if you have already bought the e-book (and you should have!), you will get the book discounted by $20 (!) – this will automatically be applied upon check-out, which is quite a feat in itself… at least to me.

Shimpei And NHK On Magialdia Festival

On the occasion of the recent Magialdia Magic Festival (see The Magic Memories 146) the best convention-organizer of them all, my friend José Ángel Suarez, had re-booked Shimpei Katsuragawa from Japan.

Shimpei’s act “La Campanella” is to my taste one of the most beautiful in the world of formal close-up card magic.

Not only did he bring his lovely family to the convention in Vitoria, in the Basque country, but also a team of NHK TV, and the result was a an hour-long documentary – you can watch a clip below which comes courtesy of José Ángel Suarez (you can see him in the little window on the upper left in the screen capture below).

More On Muttenz-Chicago Opener

In The Magic Memories 173 I proposed a personal version of Al Leech’s card trick that later became know under the name of “Chicago Opener” (also “Chicago Style Opener”) in Frank Garcia’s books. I named my version “Muttenz-Chicago Opener”, and received several positive feedbacks.

Marty Jacobs in particular discussed the trick in his blog, and you will get some interesting information HERE.

He has made quite a study on the plot of the Chicago Opener, and you can read all about it HERE.

If you understand French, or want to practice it, or both, here is a great chance to do so on the occasion of a very rare appearance of Richard Vollmer on video.

In France he has reached legendary status as a translator of important works of magic, especially a long series of books titled The Very Bet of... that features the magic of Vernon, Marlo, Aronson, Trost, Bannon, to mention just a few. He was also the first to translate my Card College books from the original German to French, and lately he adapted my Sharing Secrets to Voltaire’s tongue.

To the English speaking magic world he should be well-known from his numerous contributions to Harry Lorayne’s Apocalypse. To watch and listen CLICK HERE.

Richard Vollmer interviewed by Yoan Tanuji of Magic Dream, Paris

Méliès And Magialdia

The above items are all related to my recent visit to Paris, where I was rejoined by my friend José Ángel Suarez of Magialdia fame.

Besides treating us to the NHK-clip above, he also graciously let me share with you a very special event which was televised in Spain, where some of George Méliès’ most “,magical” short films where presented to a live audience and accompanied live by the Municipal Orchestra of Vitoria-Gasteiz.

This is truly an extraordinary piece and should appeal to all of you who have an interest beyond magic, although it clearly does relate to magic, of course.

Here are José Angel’s introductory words:

Today, with new technologies, anything incredible can be normal, we know it’s due to special effects, but none of this would have been possible without the discoveries and work of Méliès. Perhaps, these films that we are going to see below seem poor, crude and even childish, but we must understand that before Méliès no one had seen anything like it. He was the pioneer.

So, let’s sit in our seats at the end of the nineteenth century, watch these films as if we had never seen cinema before, and delight in the performances of the Municipal Band that will be an important part of this time immersion.

Let’s enjoy the magic of Méliès, because MAGIC CREATED CINEMA.

Lest I Forget…

I was going to tell you about my time in Paris and Lorient, Brittany, but realize that if you only watched one of today’s clips, and read up to here, your tolerance time for The Magic Memories must have been exhausted by far… so, I shall postpone the interesting news I have for you from my French Voyage to next week: Look out for the announcement of the incredible videos Christian Fechner made in the late Seventies of Toni Slydini – I can assure you that this is one of the epic publications of this century – more in The Magic Memories 178

Final Wisdom

“A trick that doesn’t consider the psychological construction of a trick, and only its technical and dramatic construction, may be surprising, even entertaining, but will never be magical in the sense of evoking the emotion of wonder.” (Roberto Giobbi)

The only book that deals exclusively with this subject is Sharing Secrets – if you are reading these The Magic Memories and do not have that book, please order it HERE.

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobb

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The Magic Memories (176)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Solution to Kenny’s “Four Aces – What Again!” plus my additional comments

These are The Magic Memories 176, gone online Sunday, May 12, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE. you are reading this I am on my train back home from Lorient, Brittany, via Paris.

I shall tell you more about my adventures in The Magic Memories 177; until then, here is the original solution to the problem poses last week in The Magic Memories 175, plus a few additional ideas of mine, notebook-style.

Solution to Kenny’s “Four Aces – What Again!”

I hope those of you who took up the challenge to find a solutions to last week’s problem have come up with one or more solutions that made you happy. As Dai Vernon used to remark, there is hardly something more satisfactory than acquiring a skill or coming up with an idea of one’s own – I cannot but fully agree.

So without further ado, to read the complete article CLICK HERE.

Did you find the source? The written-out page numbering plus the type used are of course the major leads…

Source is: Dalal, Sam, Mantra, vol. 3 no. 28, India 1977 (reprinted in a bound edition, Swami and Mantra by Kaufman and Company, USA 1997). There is a lot of good stuff in these two magazines, and if you like magazines like Jinx or Phoenix, this should please you.

My Additional Comments


Presentational idea to justify the envelope: “The Aces need to be taught a lesson. I am sending them to the moon.” Take envelope from Himber Wallet (use later for “Repeat Card to Wallet”), put Aces in it, and then ask spectators what the address of the moon is (after switch…). Put stamp on it. Give envelope to spectator, saying he is the postman and now needs to go to the moon…


As an alternative switch take Kaps-Balducci Wallet, from it normal envelope containing the business cards, then use Vernon’s “Switching a Card in an Envelope” from Dai Vernon’s Further Inner Secrets (leaves Aces on top of deck).

After Aces have reappeared face up in the face down spread, take the Aces and flip them face down on top of the deck, in the action executing Marlo’s Turnover Palm. As you place wallet back in inside coat pocket, or trouser’s pocket, leave palmed Aces behind.

A moment later deal the Aces face up on the table, this being an “Action of Implicit Conviction” (Sharing Secrets, p. 16). Hand deck out to verify that there are no other Aces. Follow up with some kind of Ace Assembly (e.g., “Collins Aces McMillen Version”).

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (175)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Thank you!; A Trick Problem For You (Kenny Four Aces)

These are The Magic Memories 175, gone online Sunday, May 5, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Travel Note

As you are reading this – assuming you do so on the release date of these The Magic Memories – I am in Paris, discussing  things magical for a group of twenty people, a whole afternoon and evening long 🙂

Therefore, today’s post will be shorter than usual, but still have something that might interest you…

Thank you!!!

First and foremost, thank you to all of you who sent in Happy Birthday wishes, via land-mail, email, facebook, text, WhatsApp, Messenger and other means, which my good friend and webmaster Andrea Pancotti set up for me several years ago, when I started my webshop.

So, all your wishes are much appreciated, and please forgive me, if you did not get an answer, for you might have noticed that I do not handle any of these means of communication except land-mail and emails.

(Generally speaking: If you want an answer from me, really the only two ways of reaching me is to write to my postal address, or send me an email via the webshop’s “contact” menu item. Although I do occasionally read the other messages, I do not answer them.)

Birthday carrot cake 1 st May 2024 (by Miro A. Giobbi)

A Trick Problem For You

As I am on the road, I though you might enjoy finding the solution to an interesting trick problem. As a matter of fact, it is a proper routine.

At the end of the piece the four Aces are on the table, therefore, a follow-up using them makes all the sense in the world. Why not McMillen’s version of the Collins Aces, a version of which you will also find in Cy Endfield’s book The Entertaining Card Magic of Cy Endfield, under the title of “Aces for Connoisseurs”.

But I am putting the cart before the horse, so, here is the card problem you might ponder until we meet again next week.

CLICK HERE for the one-page PDF with the accurate description of the effect and presentation. You, obviously, will have to provide the method 🙂

And while you are at it, can you tell the source? A little hint: It is both a book and a magazine (what?).

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobb

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The Magic Memories (174)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Program Structure; Paris and Lorient; Good-bye Manolo Tena (1943 – 2024)

These are The Magic Memories 174, gone online Sunday, April 28, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Program Structure

A recurring question I am being asked, is how one should structure one’s program. Indeed, this is a BIG topic, and I will not discuss it here, at least not in detail.

The reason is that in several of my writings I have done that already.

So, I will do the next best thing and make a list of the essays, articles etc. directly – and some indirectly – related to the topic:

  • Card College Volume 2: In “Chapter 27: Theory”, you will find a whole sub-chapter titled “Construction”, where I discuss how to construct a trick, a routine, and a program. Plus you get a good list of books that deal with the topic (although the list is still from 1992 (!), not much has changed in this respect).
  • Stand-up Card Magic: In “Chapter 1: The Standup Card Conjuror”, you will find plenty of thoughts on the subject.
  • Sharing Secrets: Several chapters deal with various aspects of presentation and construction. I let you find them…
  • Ask Roberto: Question 28, asked by Fred King, deals with the issue on a dozen pages!
  • The 13 Golden Rules of Magic: Several of the “rules” concern the structure of a program. You can get the essay as a free PDF HERE.
  • Contact and Program Form: This is indirectly related to the topic, but will help in structuring the program for specific events. Get it for free HERE.

There is more scattered throughout the The Magic Memories of the past three years and the Secrets Newsletters.

Paris and Lorient

The next two week-ends I shall be absent and traveling.

My first stop will be Paris, about which I have already written several times in The Magic Memories: On Sunday, May 5th, I will  be holding a half-day seminar titled “Sleight-of-mind – The Psychological Construction of Magic”. The event, being limited to twenty participants, has now sold out, and I look very much forward to discussing this favorite topic of mine, which will be illustrated with some of my best tricks and techniques. However, the focus will be on the “invisible” concepts, rather than on the technical and presentational.

After a few days in Paris, meeting magic friends (of course!) and enjoying la vie en rose (what else?), together with my friends Yves Carbonnier and José Ángel Suarez, who comes in from Spain to share the experience, I will proceede to Brittany, more precisely to Lorient, where Ludo Mignon of Marchand de Trucs fame will host a lecture for me. Ludo tells me the affair is already sold out, but if you are curious, SEE HERE.

Roberto Giobbi Lecture in Lorient

To my own surprise I just read that the lecture will be filmed, and the video later available to all participants. The lecture will be in my “impeccable” French, naturellement, but those among you proficient at AI will be able to have it “translated”…

Since videos “have feet”, as my late friend Jesus Etcheverry used to say, you should be able to get a copy of it… or I might as well put it up on my YouTube channel, so you can get it without having to resort to any illegal actions 🙂

Visiting beautiful Brittany 2016

Good-bye Manolo Tena (1943 – 2024)

A few days ago I received the very sad news that my good friend Manolo Tena of Teruel, Spain, has passed away.

I am too downhearted right now to write about him, but will do so upon my return from Paris and Lorient.

We shared a very special friendship, and I will tell you about it, plus dig out some unpublished video footage, where you can see him do some most interesting things.

Sharing another passion with Manolo: wines!

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (173)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Report Magicon Convention in Lüdenscheid; On Taking Notes; Muttenz-Chicago Opener

These are The Magic Memories 173, gone online Sunday, April 21, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Report From Magicon Convention in Lüdenscheid

I am now back from the Magicon Magic Convention in Lüdenscheid, in the north of Germany, an almost eight-hour-door-to-door trip by train and car, each way.

It took even longer on the way there, because of “unauthorized people on the railway”, as the Deutsche Bahn (DB) euphemistically puts it, meaning the most unfortunate fact, that someone decided to put an end to his (or her?) life by throwing himself in front of a full-speed train, one of the safest methods, I am told. Upon asking the personell how often this happens, they answered, “Oh, not so often, about 20 to 30 per month…” The consequence is that the particular rail route is blocked for about two hours until the Attorney General gives clearance again. As sad as this is, I thought I mention it, as it is also part of an Artist’s Life.

I also mention this to encourage more of you, who have to take long travels to get to a booked event, to choose the train over a car or airplane. Such a train ride is usually very comfortable, allows me to read, write, think, have a snack, and even take a short nap. In my studio I have an extra category in my file cabinet “To Read”, which receives all types of thin printed material, and which I then take on my travels and read there. Also my laptop, a MacBook Air, is just the correct size so it can be used on the trains tilting tables, something which in airplanes does not work (unless you fly at least Business Class, something that does not fit any magic conventions travel expenses budget…).

The convention took place in one of the nicest cultural centers I have ever seen, perfectly located in the center of the city of Lüdenscheid (125’000 inhabitants), equipped with everything a conference venue needs: two bars, several rooms for lectures, dealer room etc., a spacious foyer on each floor where people could sit and talk as well as consume drinks and snacks, plus a beautiful theatre (see below). An all-in-one experience.

About thirty people attended the first day, ca. fifty the second day. Personally, I prefer such intimate gatherings over the huge conventions, but both types have their merits, of course.

The Interview

Although the organizers wanted to book me just for a lecture and the evening gala show, I told them that I would also be available for a one-hour interview.

This turned out to be very well received, and I really wonder why they are not doing such things more often at conventions.

I remember that for years Manfred Thumm, the organizer of the legendary “Magic Hands Conventions” in Böblingen-Sindelfingen, had Eberhard Riese, now the president of the “Magischer Zirkel von Deutschland”, conduct what they called a “Podiumsdiskussion”, a panel discussion, on Sunday morning. He used to do this with three invited guests; I always attended and found this item on the agenda one of the most interesting. Conventions should really do more of that.

The questions Nino Arra, one of the organizers, asked, were all intelligent and interesting, and somehow I managed to give good answers.

There were also some questions, to which others might have simply answered “yes” or “no”, and which I answered with a mini-lecture… however, nobody fell asleep, and nobody left, on the contrary, as the interview went on, the dealers all came in, as nobody was at the dealers room.

To keep this short, let me comment just on one question: “What do you think is the most important thing when performing?”

I answered, “To make sure that the performing conditions are the best possible.”

And then I indeed gave a mini-lecture on the topic, which you can more or less read as Chapter 1 in my book (and Penguin 1 lecture) Stand-up Card Magic, “The Standup Card Conjuror”.

When you do close-up it is usually a simple thing to rearrange the situation to get optimal performing conditions, when you perform on a small or large stage, the setting is given by the theater or whatever has the stage, as the place was made for it.

However, in most “stand-up” situations you are booked in a restaurant, a private home, a hotel lobby, an art gallery, a shop etc., i.e., places that have not been conceived for visual performances.

In all these cases it is vital for the success of the show that you can rearrange the chairs, tables etc. so that an optimal experience can be created.

As an example I rearranged the room they gave me for my lecture (see below “The Sunday Lecture”). Being a rectangular room they had connected the chairs to each other and placed them in straight lines.

I had them disconnect every chair, place them in a semi-circle and closer to my performing table. Finally, knowing that a maximum of fifty people were expected, I had them take away the chairs in the back rows, forcing the attendants to sit in the three rows I had arranged closer to me, thus avoiding big gaps of empty seats.

The result was a communicative configuration of the seating, a much better audience dynamics, and ultimately a very successful lecture-performance. This is especially important when such an event takes place on Sunday morning, after one or two days at the convention, where everyone is tired.

There is a lot more to say, but I will leave it at that.

The Gala Show

The gala show took place in the evening, starting at 8 pm and going on for over two hours, plus a 25-minute intermission.

The 600-seat theatre was a truly beautiful one, with a stage where Copperfield could have made his Lear Jet appear (or disappear?). Since Copperfield (should it not be “Goldmine”…) was not available, they had booked the artists, all of them talking acts, including myself. Fortunately there was one juggler who gave the audience a break from a lot of talk and asking people to come on stage.

Briefly: The audience, mostly the conventioneers with families and friends, plus a few locals, were very appreciative, and the whole event was a success. If you read German, you find a report HERE.

Gala action photo (Björn Othlinghaus)

The only downer was that there were merely some eighty spectator in the 600-seat theatre, and due to a bug on the Internet booking platform of the theatre, the first one hundred seats in front of the stage were left empty. This certainly did not make it easier on us talking to the audience…

The Sunday Lecture

The organizers told me that after announcing my name the attendance had doubled. However, I am afraid my name is not big enough, as the attendance at my lecture was around fifty people (last year apparently they only had twenty to twenty-five).

Anyway, initially I was given sixty minutes, and after making them an offer they could not refuse, they extended it to 90 minutes. This is the minimum time I need for a lecture, since I do not do quickies, nor do I try to do as many tricks as possible in order to sell them products at the end, which seems to be the formula most lecturers go by.

I remember in 1996, as Hank Moorehouse booked me to lecture at the SAM convention held at “The Bally’s” (today “Horseshoe”) in Las Vegas, a very well-known performer, who also did a lecture, asked me how well I sold at the lecture. When I said that I had no idea, he gave me a puzzled look, saying, “That’s what it is all about.” I respectfully disagree…

As for the content of my lecture at Magicon I chose to talk about five concepts from my book Sharing Secrets, illustrating each with a strong trick and some techniques, which were also discussed.

All in all, the organizers Nino and Hans, along with Frank and a small crew, deserve our thanks and respect for having put in all the work necessary to make this a lovely small convention. It is my sincere hope, that if they decide to repeat it next year, they get a larger crowd. Those who attended this year, as I can say from several feedbacks, left as happy customers.

On Taking Notes

I keep being asked about how to study magic, in particular how to take notes and where and how to store all that information so that you can recall and understand it at a later date.

This is of course a big subject, and as you might have guessed it I have a lecture about the topic, as a mater of fact it is a trilogy of lectures (no, sorry, they have never been recorded on video…).

However, for those who are interested, I remind you of two techniques to take notes when watching  magic video:

  1. The most important key on your remote control, if you are watching the vid on a TV-set, is the “Pause” key: Hit it whenever there is an interesting technique, trick, presentation, anecdote, subtlety, literary reference, quote, or theoretical concept, and then make a note in a paper or electronic notebook with the relative time code – it’s as easy and simple as that, it only requires time and dedication…
  2. As an added help for those who do not already know: If you watch a video on your computer, instead of hitting the “Pause” key you can hit the space bar to freeze the image. Now use the left or right “Arrow or Cursor Key” to watch in slow-motion backward or forward. This is a fantastic function and the reason we have not put any slow-motion inserts into the Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction videos: It is not necessary, as you can convert any sequence instantly into a slow-motion sequence with the space bar and the arrow keys!

You can get more thoughts on the topic of how to study magic and take notes, especially when watching  a magic video, from the first chapter of my Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction video courses, which really is “Card College Volumes 3 & 4 – The Movie”. You can watch it for free (and take notes!) in the video below, or watch it on my YouTube channel, and when done see if there are a few other vids that catch your interest.

Muttenz-Chicago Opener

Here is a variation of one of the greatest close-up card classic, which has become known by the name of “Chicago Opener”, originally by Al Leech, who called it “A Red Hot Trick” (1950). The trick has an interesting history, as all classics have (!), but we will not delve into it; those who are interested will find information to get their own study started as so often in Behr’s “Conjuring Credits”, the pendant to “Conjuring Archives”.

To judge and hopefully appreciate the difference of my handling proposed below, which is by no means meant as an improvement over the original, but just as a variation, take a deck in hands, and then follow along.

Any time you are ready to perform the trick, add a stranger card that has a different colored back than the deck in use to the bottom of the deck; let us assume the you add a red-backed 7H to a blue-backed deck. Since there no other preparation required, this can be easily done with a borrowed deck.

Force the stranger card, and then lose it in the deck, no control required 🙂 Any Force that does not reveal the back of the force card is eligible, such as the Criss Cross Force, the Hindu Shuffle Force, etc.

Snap your fingers, announcing that the back of the selection will change color. To prove your statement, ribbon-spread the cards face down on the table; a red-backed card will be seen in the spread of blue-backed cards.

Pick up the cards and respread them between your hands until you reach the odd-backed card. Place all the cards above this card on the table, as the remainder cards slide back into Dealing Position. Double Turnover to show it is, e.g., the QC; this is obviously not their selected card… (That is the conflict that requires a magical solution.)

Turn the double face down again and drop the top card – the red-backed 7H – in front of the spectator who initially chose the card. If you feel comfortable with spectator management, you can also ask her to hold the card face down between her hands.

Announce that you will not accept this defeat, and that you are determined more than ever to locate her card. Run through deck and upjog the 7H from the deck. Ask for the selection, and then reveal the 7H. You have succeeded, finally, in a second attempt. Not bad, however, not good enough… but wait.

As they react, pull out the 7H from the spread, let the deck slide face down into Dealing Position, and then top change the 7H for the QC, the latter having been waiting for its entry on top of the deck.

Say that you want to fulfill your initial claim of changing the back of her selection.

Snap the card you are holding and reveal it to have changed into the QC, the card the spectator is supposed to hold.

“But because of the law of compensation, which I have invented, something else happened.” When she turns over her card, it is the previously selected card.

Since this is a stranger card, possibly even from an old deck, you can sign it and give it away.

If you want to repeat the trick, e.g., when doing table to table magic, simply have a little stack of stranger cards in your pocket, and each time you want to do the trick, surreptitiously add one to the main deck.

(RG, 11th FEB 2024, 11:55)

Muttenz – Chicago

Additional idea

Have a wallet with Jokers from different decks (in reality each is a double card, i.e., a Joker plus any indifferent card). The spectator can choose one. Holding the deck face up in Dealing Position, open the wallet, take the double out and place it momentarily on the face of the deck, unloading the 7H hidden behind the Joker, in an In-transit Action, as the right hand puts the wallet on the table. Turn the deck face down, slide the Joker off the bottom, and leave it on the table.

Proceed as explained above.

Use the selected Joker similar to a magic wand to affect the change of the card back, by tapping the cards.

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (172)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Rusduck Card Location; Magicon in Lüdenscheid

These are The Magic Memories 172, gone online Sunday, April 14th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Rusduck Card Location

For the past half year I have been working on my upcoming book, Unexpected Agenda… well, not so unexpected, as I am telling you now 🙂

Albeit very time-consuming, I have a great time revising my notes from the past decades to filter out the best possible information that in my opinion is still very useful nowadays to anyone involved in magic.

I am now at the third revision, and keep throwing out items and bring others in… Maybe you are interested to know of an item I just decided to eliminate, although most of you will probably not know it, or if you do, not use it.

So, for today, here is a principle that is quite curious; it belongs to the big family of “clocking principles”, therefore of mathematical nature, but I am convinced that with an appropriate presentation it can be made into an entertaining and baffling piece of magic. I have tried it out several times on small audiences, in informal settings, and by combining it with other tricks, it went over quite well.

The trick is by Rusduck (1909 – 1959), of mirror-deck-fame, and publisher-editor of The Cardiste, a not-so-well-known magazine that ran for eleven issues in 1957/58; it appeared in Phoenix, an important magic magazine in its time, edited by Bruce Elliott, more precisely in issue #77 (USA, 1945).

To read the trick and its explanation CLICK HERE – have fun 🙂

Magicon in Lüdenscheid

As announced in the previous The Magic Memories, when you are reading this I am at an intimate magic convention in the North of Germany, which is why this edition of The Magic Memories is a short one.

I will catch up next week, where I hope to tell you a bit about my adventures at Magicon.

Workshop in Beijing 2019

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (171)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Cervon on Vernon’s C&B Loading Sequence; Séminaire Paris SUN May 5th; Magicon II Convention in Lüdenscheid (Announcement); Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland

These are The Magic Memories 171, gone online Sunday, April 7th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Cervon on Vernon’s C&B Loading Sequence

A few Memories back I promised to bring something about Dai Vernon’s famous Cups & Balls Routine.

The description of the routine was originally published by England’s Harry Stanley in Lewis Ganson’s The Dai Vernon Book of Magic, one of the best books in magic.

For those among my readers who have not yet seen the recording, you can watch Dai Vernon do the routine in person, on Mark Wilson’s TV show The Magic Circus. There Vernon, aged seventy-eight, opens with a line that has become legendary, “Ladies and gentlemen, I am no youngster. I am seventy-eight years of age, and I have been studying magic for over seventy-two years… I wasted the first six years of my life.” To watch CLICK HERE.

Dai Vernon performing C&B on Mark Wilson “Magic Circus”

However, the main reason why I mention this, is to share with you a rare video clip of Bruce Cervon doing the final phase of Dai Vernon’s C&B, i.e., the all-important loading sequence. This is the one phase that spectators will most remember, place in their “communicative memory” (see Sharing Secrets, p. 74), and tell to others.

This one-minute clip was extracted from “A Touch of Magic”, a program within the Fifth Estate TV Show, an acclaimed Canadian production that aired for the first time in 1975 and went on for forty-seven seasons.

The program dealt with magic and was aptly titled “A Touch of Magic”, possibly an allusion to Dai Vernon’s Genii-column “The Vernon Touch”. The episode, with a running time of twenty-one minutes, particularly showcases Dai Vernon, being Canadian, of course, but also has clips of several of his acolytes speaking and performing.

Bruce Cervon doing C&B on The Fifth Estate

To watch Bruce Cervon perform the last phase of the Vernon C&B Routine CLICK HERE.

I though about transcribing and commenting this short piece, but that would be a lot for me to write and for you to read. It is my belief that whoever has an affinity for the topic, by viewing the video, maybe a few times, will recognize the difference to the original and agree that the changes are interesting and above all practical.

Besides using coffee cups, instead of the standard “magician’s cups”, Cervon got rid of the “false explanation” part that exposes the French Drop, something many have never liked (you have to understand the time and context this was created), but he also streamlined the technical construction. Not many are able to take a Master’s work like the one of Vernon’s and make changes without butchering the original. But Cervon, a Master in his own right, understood Vernon and his work, as well as the essence of the C&B, and I think that the changes he made would have found Vernon’s approval.

We can identify a similar talent of Cervon’s to streamline the technical structure of Classics when we for instance look at “All Backs” from Ultra Cervon (p. 33), where he took Elmsley’s take on Vernon’s original from Expert Card Technique, adding the final production of the Aces. It clearly shows that Cervon was a professional who performed for real people, while Elmsley did this a lot less.

Anyway, I will leave this to your appreciation without further comment.

I will remind those of you who seem to have most of my publications, that the two-DVD-set with the recording of my Masterclass on Dai Vernon, Dai Vernon Seminar: Life and Work, includes an eighty-page PDF (!) where I discuss Vernon’s C&B Routine at great length.

For those who do not have this, I shall give you the study I made on the C&B as a gift; you can download the PDF for free by CLICKING HERE.

And since I am at distributing gifts, in the Genii issue of May 2009 I discussed an unpublished alternative loading sequence that Dai Vernon himself did on a TV show: I transcribed and commented the complete sequence and offer it here for your edification and archives. To get the PDF CLICK HERE.

I meant to write a lot more, but looking at all the above, I believe that those who have an interest in this kind of thing, have enough material to read and watch 🙂

Séminaire Paris SUN May 5th

I briefly mentioned the one-day Masterclass I will be giving in Paris on Sunday, May 5th, 2024.

So, for all of you who read French, live in or near Paris, or now finally have an excuse to come to one of the most fascinating cities in the world, CLICK HERE for the PDF with all relevant information, in French, naturellement, since the classes will be conducted in French, too 🙂

Tamariz & Giobbi Masterclass (Torino 2007)

Magicon II Convention in Lüdenscheid (Announcement)

Next week-end I will be lecturing and performing at the Magicon Convention in Lüdenscheid (Germany), so The Magic Memories 172 might be short. I shall report about it in The Magic Memories 173, as usual.

Swaziland, Sweden, Switzerland

I was amused to read in the news that recently the US State Department mixed up Switzerland and Sweden while announcing Secretary of State Anthony Blinken’s meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron 🙂

This reminds me of when a magic dealer, from whom I had ordered several books, sent the wares to Swaziland… Amazingly enough, to me, the parcel finally found its way to me.

The mistake can happen, not so much because of geographical ignorance, but because on the online-forms that need to be filled in on the homepage of the carriers, Swaziland, Sweden, and Switzerland are right one after the other, and it is easy to click on the wrong item, especially because the names appear in a minuscule type.

This reminds me of my favorite quote by Confucius: “If you see a worthy man, imitate him; if you see an unworthy man, examine yourself.”

So, let us examine ourselves and our magic: What is the lesson to be learned for magic?

Which brings us to one of my next-favorite quotes, I keep repeating in my writings, by André Gide, who was asked by a journalist what was the most important thing in language. He answered, “La clarté, la clarté, la clarté – clarity, clarity, clarity.”

Therefore, when presenting our magic, let’s make sure that our spectators never mix up Swaziland, Sweden, and Switzerland!

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (170)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Easter Holiday.

These are The Magic Memories 170, gone online Sunday, March 31st, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Easter Holiday

Closed for Easter Holidays.

Party at Joan Lawton’s (April 2020)

See you next week 🙂

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (169)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Folded Card to Box in “Nada x aqui”; Seminar in Paris (announcement)

These are The Magic Memories 169, gone online Sunday, March 24th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Folded Card to Box in “Nada por aqui”

Last week I reported about Jorge Blass and his Magic Festival in Madrid, and this reminded me of a few more things: I had worked with Jorge years ago, but had completely forgotten about this. I guess this is why I have called this blog The Magic Memories

It was the occasion of the FISM convention in Stockholm in 2006, the one where I spent most of my time as a member of the jury…

Jorge Blass, together with Luis Piedrahita and Ines la maga, had already done a magic program on Spanish TV by the title of Nada x aqui, pronounced Nada por aqui, an idiomatic expression in Spanish meaning something like “nothing up my sleeves”. The magic show ran over several years, was very successful, and it lay the foundation to the future career of Jorge, Luis, and Ines, who would all become house-hold names in the Spanish entertainment business.

Ines la maga

Jorge and Luis have attained international fame, with Luis publishing a much-noticed book on original coin magic, but Ines might be less-known to most of you.

In the video below you can see Ines do a very interesting prediction trick.

Even though it is in Spanish, you will be able to follow the plot, which is simple: The spectator names any card, in this case the Two of Hearts. Ines says that she has two predictions, one of which is a Joker, which stands for any card (the old gag), and the other being, precisely, the Two of Hearts.

Good, eh?

It uses an old principle discussed in chapter 14 of Hugard’s Encyclopedia of Card Magic 🙂 Plus another principle and a sleight.

This fact of being based on multi-layered operational principles is really why card tricks are usually superior to most other magic tricks, especially mentalism and large scale illusions, where all too many tricks rely on one single principle that an intelligent spectator can see through (and sometimes even not so intelligent ones do…).

The danger with such card tricks, however, is that the hobbyist falls in love with the wonderful method, and then forgets to take care of how to stimulate the spectator’s Logos and Pathos.

Now, Ines has all of this clear, and does an excellent job.

Luis Piedrahita

If you do not know Luis, who nowadays is more famous in Spain as a stand-up comedian than for the magic, and want to get an idea of how clever he is, watch the clip below. It is in Spanish from the aforementioned program, but sub-titled in English, although I think you could enjoy it as much if you simply turned the sound off.

The Folded Card in Box (Giobbi Version)

Anyway, back to the taping at FISM: Jorge came up to me and asked me if I would be willing to tape a piece of mine for their program, and so we did in the lobby of the hotel, with some conventioneers as an audience.

I have just watched it again on YouTube, almost ten years after it had been taped, and was surprised to read all those nice comments people made on it, and it occurred to me that some of you might want to watch the few minutes where I do “The Joker Folds up” (from Card College Volume 5) in the lobby of the convention hotel. The performance was taped there and then included in an upcoming episode of Nada x aqui.

Seminar in Paris

For all of you who are living in and around Paris, but also for those who are looking for an excuse to comme to the arguably most beautiful city in the world (with 15.834 million tourists per year on rank 6 of the most visited cities in the world), I will do a Seminar on Sunday, 5th May 2024, from 1 to 5 pm, at the premises of the FFAP, the French magic association, at 257 rue Saint-Martin, 75003 Paris.

The seminar is titled “Sleight-of-mind – The Psychological Construction of Magic”, and I will perform, explain and discuss tricks, techniques and presentations with a focus on the psychological concepts therein. So, this is going to be very practical. Tout en français, évidemment!

Limited to 20 attendants, € 80 p.p. Details to follow in the upcoming The Magic Memories 170.

I plan to devote The Magic Memories 170 to one single subject, namely Dai Vernon’s Cups and Balls routine, and especially to the final loading sequence, which I think is one of the most brilliant compositions in magic. So, if this is your cup of tea, I look very much forward to seeing you next week.

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (168)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Frank Garcia Anecdote; Festival de Magia Madrid 2024 by Jorge Blass; Computer Glasses Next Week

These are The Magic Memories 168, gone online Sunday, March 17th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

All The Magic Memories from 2021, 2022, and 2023, including the Magic Advent Calendar from 2020, can be found HERE.

Frank Garcia Anecdote

In The Magic Memories 165 I discussed my presentation of Frank Garcia within the meeting of the German Card Conference (CardWorkshop), and received several comments of appreciation.

Mark Gallo, from Northport, USA, wrote in to share this anecdote:

I met Garcia at one of the Abbott’s Close-Up Conventions in Colon, Michigan, USA, in the late ’80s or early ’90s.

He did a fabulous trick with two toy cars (like the British “Matchbox” cars).  He put a dark blue one in one hand and a white one in the other.  He spread his hands.  A little woo-woo and they had changed places!  I was astonished!

The next week I was in the local magic shop and told the owner about this impossible piece of magic.  He calmly and patiently explained to me that these cars–with heat-sensitive paint–are available at every toy store.

Well, sure–but if you never go to toy stores…

Festival de Magia Madrid 2024 by Jorge Blass

Last week I gave you an insider’s view of a two-hour event honoring Juan Tamariz, for which they flew in Gaetan Bloom and myself from Paris and Basel respectively.

The editing of the event is still in the works, and Jorge Blass promised to send me the finished version when ready – it should then go on YouTube for you to enjoy, too, and I will let you know. I promise you will find this most interesting.

Dialogo magico con Juan Tamariz

Since both Gaetan and I never miss a chance when we can stay one or two days longer in a fascinating location – and Madrid is one of the most fascinating in the world, especially when it comes to magic and gastronomy – we gladly accepted Jorge Blass’ invitation to the magic show of his Festival de Magia; the night before we had done the Homage for Juan Tamariz on the same stage.

XIV Festival de Magia

In the show I was sitting next to Gaetan Bloom. Briefly: We both were most impressed by the show, its concept and, of course, its artists.

Here are a few scattered impressions for your enjoyment. I did not take notes, so all of this is from memory, making these The Magic Memories in the real sense of the term 🙂

Show Production

First thing to say is that the way the whole show was set-up was truly excellent, original, and modern. It ran for ca. 90 Minutes, without pause (my preferred format).

One should consider that such shows, albeit running for several weeks and within a super-professional setting, do not have the privilege other theatrical productions have.

Plays, operas, musicals, and similar productions have weeks and sometimes months of rehearsal, where the complete cast is paid for.

In the case of  magic shows, the likes we usually get to see at magic conventions, the rehearsal time is limited to one afternoon.

But even with a show that runs over three weeks, as does the one by Jorge Blass, the artists coming from several parts of the world, with a tight budget, the rehearsal time is one day.

Nonetheless, and in spite of these restrictions, Blass manages to put up a complex show, and this is only possibly thanks to his immense experience as a producer and performer of various kinds of shows for television and theaters.

The first thing that surprises most magicians who are used to the “magic galas” at magic conventions is that the presentation of the artists breaks out of the traditional format emcee-artist-emcee-artist etc.

Instead, a modern choreography, where light and music are matched, accompanies the audience through a diverse universe of magical artists and effects: Each artist is announced on the large lateral screens, one on each side of the large stage, but still part of it, so that visual unity is maintained.

Then the artist is greeted from the off. The entrance, the performance, and the exit are well thought out in an attractive but untypical way, giving the whole proceeding an up-to-date touch using state-of-the-art technologies. Very well thought out and executed.

Jorge Blass

Blass himself, as the host and producer of the festival, which is now in its fourteenths edition, did an excellent interactive piece where he had everyone in the audience use their mobile phone to go through some apparently completely haphazard calculations to reach a result, which he had predicted.

Not only that: The final number gave the day’s date and the exact time. (In the back of my head I remember seeing this somewhere, but cannot recall where – maybe someone can help…).

Jorge Blass himself

Blass had two more appearances, one of which being a very nice routine, which stared with an Out of This World theme using Polaroid photos.

Normally I find such adaptations corny, but in this case the presentation as well as the method were really good.

The routine ended with the ring of the female spectator vanishing in a very convincing way, and reappaering in a sealed box, which had been created by a 3D-printer!

The printer, which had been standing far away from where the performance took place, had been introduced before the spectator even had come on stage, and Blass explained that it was about to create “something”.

The routine was brought to an end by having the assisting lady’s husband come on stage and putting the wedding ring back on his wife’s finger, amusing and a bit sentimental, but certainly fitting for Spain, and it made the whole piece well-rounded, a great trick for sure.

Gaetan and I booth looked at each other and had no clue, although I am sure that Gaetan knew how he would have done it… but that is the way geniuses work🙂

Gonzalo Albiñana

Gonzalo Albiñana from Spain, who had won a major award at last year’s Spanish National Convention (I have reported about the convention in The Magic Memories 135), was the fil rouge of the show with some very good shadowgraphs and a repeat bird-cage vanish routine, all wrapped in a theatrical presentation with poetry and mime.

The silent tones characterizing his performance registered well with the theater-going audience, and were a lovely counterpoint to the louder productions in the show.

Personally, I tend to agree with Juan Tamariz when he writes in his The Magic Rainbow, that when magic is combined with a “theatrical story”, the magic suffers.

I remember seeing Harry Blackstone Jr. doing his bird cage vanish live with lots of children on stage, and it touched me emotionally much more than the poetic staging of Albaniña’s, although the latter was by all definitions more “artistic”, while Blackstone simply had more down-to-earth “showmanship”.

These things are had to pinpoint in words, but the emotions do not cheat.

Anyway, well done, but not my cup of tea.

Gonzalo Albiñana-Spain

Bruno Tarnecci

Bruno Tarnecci came all the way from Peru, and did a very elegant act with lots of effects and great complexity.

In such an act there are hundreds of things that can go wrong, but everything worked in unison and created a very magical atmosphere that enchanted the audience.

You can see a small part of the act he presented – the floating cane in the clip below:

Mortenn Christiansen

All the artists up to here had been received extremely well, but Mortenn Christiansen from Denmark, who was up next, brought the house down, as they say.

I also admit that this is my kind of magic: Formal minimalism, just the Artistic Trinity formed by the artist, his instrument, and his words – no special effects, no music, no smoke and mirrors, the pure thing, magic.

I had seen Mortenn already several times, last time I believe at The Session in London Heathrow, were he was good, but here in Madrid he was incredible.

First, he is a “stand-up magician” in the real sense of the word: He stands on a huge stage, almost always in the same spot, and commands the attention of at least 800 spectators; this already is remarkable.

Second, me, who is not such a friend of comedy, he made me laugh, and he kept surprising and fooling me. What I particularly liked is that his comedy does not come in the way of his magic, as so often happens when performers start to be “funny”, or start to tell “stories” to make tricks “more meaningful”.

Mortenn has intuitively understood that a good effect speaks for itself, and with a most natural way of expressing himself, combines situation comedy of the finest caliber with original and impactful effects.

This man has a great future ahead.

If you have never seen Mortenn, you can get an idea from his performance at Penn & Teller’s Fool Us, but the act is by no means the same as the one I saw here in Madrid, which was far more complex and complete.

Juno Park

Juno Park, from South Korea, did a manipulation act that leaned on the well-known South-Korean school of magic, but had a clear identity of its own.

An act of sheer beauty, that is characterized by the fact that magic effects and musical queues seamlessly form a poetic-visual unity.

With the precision of a piano player, and the coolness of the modern manipulator, he captivated the Madrid audience from the first to the last moment. (Traditionally, the Madrid audience is the toughest of Spain: For the bull-fighters, if they made it in the Arena of Madrid, they had reached the peak of their career!)

Although you can get an idea of his performing persona, his style and some of his effects in the video clip below, the act I saw in Madrid was now much more complete and rounded, of great artistic quality, a joy to behold.

Here is another man who has a great future ahead, and you will see him at many magic conventions.

Personally, I still prefer real playing cards being used in card manipulations, rather than colored pieces of cardboards, as most in the South-Korean school of manipulation do, because playing cards have a meaning, while colored cardboards look like made props… certainly, beautiful props 🙂

I predict that someone from that school will soon revert back to real playing cards, or at least pieces of cardboard that look like real playing cards, and be a smash hit. If it happens, remember I said that in The Magic Memories 168, 2024, if it doesn’t happen, well, forget that I said anything… (this is how prophecies in the history of civilization work anyway).

Josephine Lee

Josephine Lee from the UK, who had already had a part before, got to close the show with some truly well presented and spectacular illusions.

The plots were classic, but the design of the illusions was exquisite. This is very important, since the solution of an illusion is usually too linear, and more often than not the illusionist fools him- or herself into believing that the audience doesn’t know how it is done, but really many do…

Therefore, if the design is well thought-out, the Space-Information-Continuum on the stage is correctly managed, the actions are motivated by an apparent “story”, and the synchronization-timing has been well rehearsed, also with the assistants, then a large scale illusion, like the big opera in music, can overwhelm an audience. And this it did.

Josephine Lee brought an excellent finale to a superb magic show.

I should mention one more thing that was brought up by Juan Tamariz when we discussed her performance over dinner, which he liked a lot (Lee’s illusions and dinner), as I did: Lee does “Sawing a Woman in Half”, an illusion occasionally criticized by female magicians in the sense that male illusionist always use female “victims” to stab through, saw in half, etc.

Well, Lee, as a lady magician, used a female assistant to saw through…

One more thing made me think: Lee’s show is professional in every detail, no question. What men used to do before, and are still doing, she does with equal charm and competence, in her very own way.

I was just wondering if a woman could maybe do those things men do in a different way, in a “Yin-way”, as opposed to the “Yang-way”. How that could look? I do not know. One day someone will come along and show us…

Finale and Resolution

At the end all the artists and the production team received a well-deserved standing ovation, led by Gaetan Bloom and myself (my readers in the New World should remember that in Europe standing ovations are not as common as in the USA).

I made a note to travel to Madrid in spring next year to see the new show… if you have never been to Madrid, I humbly advise you to make this one of the 100 things to do in life…

Computer Glasses Next Week

After my cataract operation on both eyes I will finally get my glassed to work at the computer screen next week! (Ophthalmologist, “You have to wait about two months until the eyes calibrate…”. Me, “I see…”)

This is why I will stop this week’s blog here, as my eyes get strained, but truly hope that I will get back to “normal” by next week, and if so, promise a longer blog with some magic.

Among other things I will tell you about my experience working with Jorge Blass and his partners in a TV series of his, Nada por aqui, and a taping they did of me, with the discussion of a very interesting trick.

Stay tuned 🙂

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi