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The Magic Memories (182)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Skinner Tapes Photo Credit; Monte Scam; The Prague Experience; Hidden Agenda as E-book

These are The Magic Memories 182, gone online Sunday, June 23rd, 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.

Last week’s The Magic Memories 181 brought in several comments that you might find interesting.

Skinner Tapes Photo Credit

Leo Hevia from Silver Spring MD wrote in to share a photo of Mike Skinner, Dai Vernon, and himself that appears on the cover of the accompanying brochure of the Skinner Tapes DVD/CD set.

For reasons no-one can explain, Mr. Hevia was not credited for the photo, so here it is, with the proper credit and thanks from the magic community.

Vernon, Hevia, Skinner (photo Leonard Hevia)

Monte Scam

The article on the Svengali Deck Switch and Jim Swain’s description of the “Cold Deck Scam” reminded Josef Held of Moosburg, Germany, to share a link of a most amusing and, yes, historical video, for which we thank him.

Although the video quality is poor, you should be able to recognize Paul Wilson, Gazzo, Pop Haydn, Chef Anton, and at the end Billy McComb stars as a “benevolent” pick-pocket 🙂

The Prague Experience

I have often mentioned that I believe magic to be like a facetted diamond, as every facet connects to something in life. Once you have developped an “antenna” for it, it cannot be ignored, very much like not reading a text once you can read…

This is quite apropos in the case of my visit to Prague, because although I did not do any magic – no shows, no lectures, just “visiting” – and did no meet any magicians (!), there was “magic” all around us (the “us” being my wife Barbara and me).

Beautiful Prague (and Barbara)

This was my first visit to Prague, the capital of the Czeck Republic, so, before anything else, let me say that it is an amazing city and for me now ranks among my personal top five cities; I say this although I had only three days to explore it (without magic). “Picturesque” is too weak a term to describe how beautiful this city is.

Isle in the Moldova

Due to its popularity there is a price to pay: Lots of tourists, but, hey, we were tourists, too, so…

Prague by night

To know more about the largest city of the Czeck Republic and the historical capital of Bohemia, CLICK HERE.

What follows are a few of my personal impressions related to magic, of course.

Ondrej Psenicka

Ondrej, creator of the famous Butterfly Playing Cards, is arguable today’s internationally best known creator and performer of the Czeck Republic.

Unfortunately for me he was out of town, fortunately for him and the magicians in Chicago he was working at the Chicago Magic Lounge during the time of my visit.

Escorial 2017 – Psenicka, Engblom, Wilson, Hamburg, Carbonnier, Consuelo, Tamariz, RG, Suarez

(BTW: Just in case you are wondering what the red beast is on the plates, it is a “Carabinero”, and I prefer it over lobster or any other seafood… goes very well with an Albariño.)

Ondrej has one of the most didactical lectures I have ever seen; I really loved the way he brings across his ideas and creations. Do not miss the chance to see him perform and lecture.

To know more about him CLICK HERE.

In the video below you can see him for P&T:


Although there are lots of museums to visit in Prague, we did only two, and both were a highlight.

Illusion Art Museum Prague

This was twice as good: First, well, because it was good, second, because it far exceeded my expectations. The museum has only recently opened its doors to the public and is already experiencing great success with the locals and the tourists.

In their brochure it says: “The museum bridges the history of illusory art techniques and current artistic trends.”

Not such a bad description, and considering its manageable size – you can enjoy the exhibits in less than one hour, which is perfect for me – you get to see and interactively experience quite a few two- and three-dimensional illusions you have probably never seen before.

I think that the greatest challenge for a museum, any museum of any type, is to make the objects shown larger than life, to make the visitor not only look at the exhibit, but to create some kind of real-life connection between the visitor and the art object. This is hard to do.

Do not feed the wild animals…

The psychology and technique behind solutioning this problem is closely related to our work as magical performers, as we also need to think up ways and means of connecting to our audience and making them experience the “effect”.

What you see is not what you get…

I do have quite a collection of books depicting optical illusions of the most diverse type, but in spite of this, here they had some illusions, two- and three-dimensional, I had never seen before… and very well done, some by very talented and little-known artists.

Briefly, this is worth visiting!

To know more and see a lot of great photos, CLICK HERE.


Now, one could think that there is little more boring and less connected to magic than decorative arts.

However, for the n-th time, I had to tell myself that I am completely wrong. This is what I thought before visiting the Museo Balenciaga, in Getaria, Spain, which is about fashion(!), or the Mercedes Museum in Stuttgart. But nothing could be further from the truth. Both museums are truly splendid.

Quite generally my experience has been that a well-curated museum, or any exhibition for that matter, has an interest far beyond its own discipline. Provided the visitor has an open mind… which occasionally is a problem with me, as I can be quite stubborn about some things… if I hadn’t this defect, I would be perfect, wouldn’t I 🙂

This museum was just round the corner of our hotel, and again could be visited in less than one hour.

The objects shown – furniture, paintings, household accessories – were all created by artists from the Czeck school of cubism, inspired by the French cubism of its time.

Now, this concept of having schools of thought, how they come about, and how they influence each other, is a most interesting topic.

To my knowledge the only person who has tried to transpose this idea to magic, to try to identify and define schools of thought in magic, their content and leaders, is Juan Tamariz.

He wrote a lengthy essay on the subject in an issue of La Circular, the journal of the Escuela Magica de Madrid (I thought it was reproduced in The Magic Rainbow, but I cannot find it… maybe someone can help).

Another thing that is interesting in museums is what art critics write about an artist’s work.

I have very ambivalent feelings about this: One one side, I find it a pain in the neck when the art critic intellectualizes each and everything in the work, coming up with what I occasionally find to be absurd explanations of what something is supposed to mean. They come up with ideas that the artist very probably has never had (although it is hard to prove, especially if the artist is dead…).

On the other side, it is precisely this language that we are lacking in magic, we do not even have the vocabulary to talk and write about it, at least not in the measure art critics and historians of other disciplines have.

But it is what we need for magic to be recognized as an art, and magicians as artists, at least to a certain extent.

A huge subject to be thought about and discussed… I wish that at magic conventions, but also in the big and important magic clubs (AMA, Magic Circle, etc.) they would at least reserve some time and space for the intellectuals among us to debate this and other problems, organizing fora to meet, and taking care of the finances to do so. We have still a long way to go…

Anyway, to know more about the museum itself, which I recommend you visit if in Prague, CKLICK HERE.

To sum up the “museum experience”: Each time I go to a museum – and I should do this more often – I find so many similarities to what I do, to what we all do who are into magic.

Invariably I come out with some kind of uplifting feeling, plus occasionally with some very practical ideas.

Also, I truly think that such moments are a vital part of our intra-personal architecture, and they make us who we are, each one unique, and that is what cannot be copied by anyone else, and it is that which makes our performances “artistic”.

Black Light Theatre

This was advertised as Black Light Theatre Comedy Show in Prague, and I knew that it was not the “real thing”…

As a matter of fact, there must be about a dozen such shows in Prague, made up for tourists (us!), and at least this one was not what we were looking forward to see.

The theatre itself was located in an old vault in the heart of the city, really a great setting. But the whole room, including the stage, had the size of a large living room with a capacity of ca. forty spectators; there were about thirty when we attended.

That space would certainly have been wonderful for a close-up show, but not so for a black light theater performance.

Although there were only four rows, the stage being on the same level as the the entire seating (!), it was hard to see what was going on in the lower half of the stage.

I was sitting in the third row and missed everything that was not higher than a meter.

One of the five performers was a person of short stature (Wikipedia tells me that  this is medically referred to as “dwarfism”), and I missed everything this person did.

At least they should have built a small stage…

But even with a stage, the closeness revealed more often than not the “method”, which is of course like seeing the thread when you are doing a flooring bill: the illusion is dead.

I was simply surprised that nobody ever seemed to have told them… (I didn’t either).

I had the good luck to have been able to see the “real” Prague theatre company decades ago, here in Basel in a big theater, when they were touring the world. That was quite something!

If you do not know, to see what this is about, to see what is possible, watch the clip below (an search more for yourself, please):

In 2004, when Martin MacMillan booked me for his magic convention in London, next to the British Library (that’s were I got the first idea for the Agendas!), I had the great pleasure and honor of appearing in the evening gala together with Omar Pasha (actually a French family)!

Since all the artists working the gala shared a huge dressing room, I got into a conversation with “Omar Pasha” (not his real name, of course), who carried on the tradition founded by his father and grandfather; the act is now in its fourth generation, and you can read more about it HERE.

Below you can see the “Omar Pasha” I worked with in London of 2004 – if you have never seen this, let it be said that there is absolutely no film editing involved: All you see is exactly as you would see it if you were sitting in a theater!

Gastronomy & Tours

Like any city as popular, an endless amount of tours are offered.

We missed a “food tour”, which usually is a three-hour tour you take on foot, visiting various places that offer local gastronomical specialties.

We have done this in Berlin, Copenhagen, etc., and I have yet to be disappointed by any of these.

Alas, for an organizational misunderstanding, we were not able to take it…

The Bohemian cuisine is quite heavy, traditional, but succulent, what our American friends would call “comfort food”.

I was particularly pleased with coffee, which I found d to be as excellent as in Italy and Vienna.

As for ice cream I recommend to stay away from names that you can find all over the world, but go for a local manufacturer, Angelato, divine, as close to Italian ice cream as it can get, for more info CLICK HERE.

Not always, but from time to time, we like to take the Tourist Bus, a hop-on-and-off tour that allows you to get a first impression of a city we have never been to.

I am reminded of Barcelona, which must be the best of all bus tours.

Well, on this occasion we did not, as the weather was so fantastic, that we decided to explore the historical center of the city purely on foot. This is all the more beneficial, as I truly think the city itself, its streets, houses, squares, shops, and people ARE a museum and need the attention you can only give if you walk.

However, on the third day, we decided to take advantage of a unique offer I have not seen before in other cities, i.e., a ninety-minute tour in an old-timer car with a chauffeur.

You can relax and see the most important spots of the city, and the price is less than a gondola in Venice. The difference is that the gondola is a real one, while the “oldtimer” car is a replica of a model that no longer exists.

Anyway, we enjoyed this very much, and I recommend it to anyone.

Prague tour with old-timer car


Several instances proved that in Prague they have a sense for both art and  humor.

Below one of several “street art” pieces.

Mr. Poppins…

I sent the following to Denis BEHR, as they had not only misspelled his name…

Ignorance is bliss…

Hidden Agenda as E-book

Secret Agenda & Hidden Agenda

Last but not least I would like to draw your attention to the fact that Hidden Agenda, which had been out of print for several years, is now back, albeit only as an “e-book”.

It is actually a simple PDF that is easily searchable, certainly a great advantage if you are looking for a particular subject.

Normally I am not a fan of e-books, but the Agendas are ideal to be read on tablets, even mini-tablets, as almost every entry is just one single page.

I am not allowed to offer it to you directly through my webshop, but you can download it from the publisher HERE.

Secret Agenda is still available as a book (order from Penguin Magic or from me directly if you want a personal dedication to your name, plus an autographed photo, also inscribed to your name).

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (181)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Mind Map Sample; Pseudo Deck Switch From Skinner Notebook; Jim Swain on the “Cold Deck”

These are The Magic Memories 181, gone online Sunday, June 16th, 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.

Mind Map Sample

I keep being asked about the use of Mind Mapping in magic.

This is a big subject, and I have dealt with it in two places: One, as part of my lecture I did at Mark Leveridge’s 7th British Close-up Magic Symposium (see HERE). Two, in an essay as part of the Genii magazine that had me on the cover years ago; you can download the PDF for free HERE.

In the past I have used Mind Maps to prepare for talks, workshops, articles, and even books; see the Mind Map for Card College Volumes 3&4 in Secret Agenda, entry for December 18, or the one for my lecture on Dai Vernon, entry for December 19.

RG practicing with Mind Map in the background

Without further comment I submit for your perusal the Mind Map I created for a personal study on the Color Change: Some of the writing will not mean anything to you, but you might pick up a term here and there, and if you just get one thing out of it, it will be worth the few minutes it takes you to study the map.

Here it is as a PDF, so you can blow it up and should be able to read everything (to understand it is another matter…).

Pseudo Deck Switch From Skinner Notebook

A few years back Kaufman & Company offered The Skinner Tapes, advertised as:

The CDs are personal audio correspondence sent to Allen Okawa of Hawaii, and have been edited down from over 30 hours of material. It’s like having Michael sit in the room and talk to you.

Plus there were two DVDs with private footage of Michael Skinner performing for his friends at various occasions.

Similar to the Vernon Revelations tapes, or the Daley Notebooks, there is a lot of material and information there. Not all is interesting to everyone, not all is intelligible, but if you enjoy deep-sea diving, I mean in a figurative sense… then you will experience several moments of great happiness.

To me, however, the best part of the package that came with The Skinner Tapes, were the PDFs of Skinner’s private notebooks.

I had the great luck to have come into their possession years before, and have taken a full month, while vacationing in the South of France with my family in a beautiful mansion we rented there, to study them in great detail. This resulted in my personal annotations that far exceeded the length of the original notes 🙂

I am not sure about how interesting this is to most of you, and also not about the copyright situation, being an author myself, but thought that for today’s The Magic Memories I would share one of my notes on one of Skinner’s notes from his Skinner Green Notebook #2 (there are several as the #2 implies…).

“The Skinner Tapes” by Kaufman & Co.

Here is the original note:

15. “Sudo [sic] Deck Switch”

Svengali Pack – show all same. Put in pocket, bring out same deck, show all different, make phony move and show all same. Say you switched decks!

Not all notes are like that, fortunately, some being more detailed, but it is such notes that are of interest to me, as they function as triggers, similar to some of the entries in my own Agendas, and you know I love those.

Maybe you want to stop reading for a few minutes here, and think about the note… what does it suggest to you?

Welcome back 🙂

Following is my annotation I made to Skinner’s note. As you will see, it inspired me to use it as a deck switch.

Have a normal deck and a Svengali Deck in the same pocket, both in similar boxes and with similar backs, of course.

Show both decks, saying one is a “special deck”, the other a “normal” deck, and announce you are going to switch decks like card cheats do.

Explain why the switched in deck is called a “cooler”, which makes for a lovely and colorful prologue (see Jim Swain’s note below).

Put normal deck in pocket.

Show Svengali all the same. Then show all different, implying that decks have been switched – use some kind of “realistic action”, such as coughing and turning away for a second to make switch half-believable.

Apparently repeat the switch and again show all the same.

Take out normal deck from pocket and show.

You have apparently switched a deck twice, back and forth.

Put Svengali away and use normal deck, which could be stacked.

This can be made into a short and baffling little routine, in the course of which a stacked deck is introduced, the pseudo-explanation taking the heat off the switch.

Although the product as such is no longer available, as far as I know, at least not legally… here is the link to Penguin’s description of the content, and by reading it, you might get an additional idea or two.

Jim Swain on the “Cold Deck”

After I had published The Art of Switching Decks (2013), I received quite a bit of most interesting feedback, a lot being variations on the deck switches in the book, a few were new deck switches, and there was also some additional information such as the one Jim Swain – yes, THE Jim Swain – wrote to me via email:

“My name is Jim Swain, and I’m a big fan of your books and articles in Genii.

I wanted to make you aware of something which was brought to my attention several years ago by a retired card hustler. Many people (myself included) believe that a “cold deck” is a prearranged deck which hustlers switched into a game.

This is not correct.

A prearranged deck which is switched into a game is called a “cooler” by hustlers, and never a “cold deck”.

A “cold deck” is a scam used by a gang of hustlers, and works like this:  During a game, one of the gang spills a drink on the cards, forcing the deck to be thrown out. A brand new, unopened deck is then introduced. This is the “cold deck.”

The deck is in a prearranged order and will “kill” several of the players in the game (suckers).

One of the gang removes the deck from the box, and takes out all the jokers and junk cards (a wonderful touch). The deck is then false-shuffled by another member of the gang, while one of the gang tells a story or joke (the shade). The game is then resumed, and the suckers are fleeced.

The “cold deck” scam using the box and junk cards has been around for over a hundred years. It’s a wonderful way to switch in a deck without having to do any sleight-of-hand, and always gets the money.”

Nice story, eh?

… and it fits into the category I created and named “The No-switch Deck Switch”, a chapter of its own in The Art of Switching Decks (p. 127); just in case you missed that, look it up right now, as you will immediately be able to use at least one of the deck switches in your own work.

As the Looney Tunes says, “That’s all folks!”… for today.

I shall be back in The Magic Memories 182 with some ideas I got from my visit to the uniquely beautiful city of Prague, plus a few more things, as usual.

Prague, a unique city

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (180)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Negative comments on Internet/webshops; How To Be a Better Magician; How To Prepare For A Competition

These are The Magic Memories 180, gone online Sunday, June 9th, 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.

Negative comments on Internet/webshops

“One plus one is two, and not four, just because everyone is entitled to their own opinion.” (Volker Grass)

I do not look often into what people write about my products, nor have I ever been part of any forums (or fora), nor joined any discussions, but occasionally a link takes me to one and I cannot help reading them.

Of course, it pleases me to read all the positive things people have to say about my publications, and some of the negative comments amuse me, such as a twelve-year old who said about my Card College books: “These books are so boring, I did not even read them.” We will cross that bridge when we come to it 🙂

Some of the comments really surprise me, as the posters seem to be quite uninformed and still voice an opinion. Wonder if “poster” is the correct term for someone who writes a post… it seems so close to the “imposter” 🙂

Anyway, it is pointless to discuss such comments, as here is nothing to be done against negative criticism, because it is the price we are paying for freedom of expression and democracy. I am willing to accept that price, but I want sincerity and transparence.

My solution to the dilemma is this: Everyone must reveal their real identity, full first name and family name, and why not a photo. In any case they should not be allowed to hide behind a pseudonym.

After all, they are voicing an opinion about authors who also reveal their full name, most of the time including one or several photos of said author, plus, of course, revealing a lot about themselves by giving away their secrets. As far as I know this is the same regulation newspapers apply when they publish reader’s letters: If you voice an opinion, positive or negative, state the full name and city.

Wonder what your thoughts about this are. Let me know on the occasion of a magic convention we might meet.

How To Be a Better Magician

Not all, but many of us, are trying to get better at what we do, in small and big things, and a few of us recognize that this is arguably the best way of also becoming a better person. Because in order to improve as a human being you need some kind of “vehicle”, and to many of us this is the study and practice of magic.

In a recent show I did together with other performers, I had a chance to rethink a few ideas concerning how one could improve one’s performance. The occasion was a formal close-up gala of about 100 minutes, with a 20-minutes intermission, in front of an audience of 30 people, and I was asked to do the complete second part of ca. 40 minutes.

I usually do not watch the other acts going on before me, as I need to go through some kind of mental preparation before going on (I know, this is another interesting subject…). But on this occasion the break between the two parts gave me a chance to watch the other performers of the first part closely.

Here are a few thoughts I had:

Do not open your performance with lengthy chatter: Neither with a lot of talk, nor with verbose tricks that more often than not are also procedural, i.e., require lots of actions from you and, even worse, from audience members.

This, of course, means that card tricks and mental tricks are out, as a rule. However, I will quickly add, that there are exceptions to the rule. For Card Magic I am thinking of “Six Card Repeat”, or a short card manipulation routine to music. For Mental Magic maybe a quick succession of number predictions (Nail Writer).

But generally speaking, the vast majority of card tricks – and I mean the very best ones – are procedural and are not ideal to open a show.

What struck me, is that three of the acts who performed with me on that particular afternoon did just that.

The first performer, for instance, did a really very good card trick, but it took him about five minutes to get to the first effect, and to me this felt like an eternity.

The proof that some of the audience members must have felt similarly, was that after the lengthy introduction and procedure, the performer asked a lady in the audience to decide on a card suit, whereupon she answered, “Oh, sorry, I did not pay attention, what should I do?”

There and then I was reminded of the true challenge of the teacher, the eternal question: How do you get the information to the students, and once you have been able to formulate that information, not an easy task in itself, and have been able to deliver it understandably, with adequate metaphors and examples, how do you get the students to instill this Information, i.e., how can you help them transform the knowledge in a skill, the actual ability of doing what you know should be done.

In many of my books, also in live and video lectures, I am saying, explaining and demonstrating these ideas, e.g., that you should not open with a lengthy, verbose and procedural trick.

And all readers or attendants of the lecture nod their heads in agreement, or shrug their shoulders thinking, “Of course, I know that… can you show another trick…”

But the truth is, and the reality proves it, as it did for me on that afternoon, that even if they have read or heard it, or both, they do not do it!

This leads to the ultimate question: How else can it be instilled, learned?

And this is my ultimate answer (for now): Take a coaching with someone you trust being more knowledgeable than you in the matter.

In that one-to-one, private, personal coaching, a good coach will tell you: “This is an excellent card trick you just did, and you did it very well. It is a very good trick to do later in the act, as it is not an ideal opener. Let’s discuss this in the second part of today’s session. In the first part let’s look at a fundamental question: How do you open? Let’s look at how to be introduced, how to enter, how to greet the audience, and what to do then. What do you say, and what trick do you do?”

This is what I would say to such a performer.

To be thought about.

How To Prepare For A Competition

Just before FISM 2022 I received a lovely message from Marc Bittar, aka Markobi, who won first prize in the category of “Card Magic” at FISM in Quebec in 2022.

Since it fits in with the subject discussed in the previous article, some of you might be interested in the additional information contained therein.

Hello Roberto,

First of all, thank you for all you have done for magic: For The Art of Switching Decks, Secret and Hidden Agenda, your articles on Mind Mapping and many other subjects, the videos, and other publications, the magic community owes you a lot of resources, and I have had the opportunity to study some of them in the last few years.

I am currently preparing for the next FISM in July, and I ask magicians who have been part of my apprenticeship, or my journey, without their knowledge or not, and who have already competed, the following question, if you are willing to answer it: What would be your best advice, or flagship advice, before this competition, or in order to approach it as well as possible?

In any case, thank you for your attention.

Yours truly, Marc Bittar (magicians name: Markobi)

I did not at the time answer his question, but did something which I hope has been far more useful, I sent him the essay I wrote from my Ask Roberto project, an e-book where I answered fifty-two questions, on a total of 332 pages.

Practically the same question had been asked by Craig Longhurst, and I answered it as the 29th question:

Dear Mr Giobbi,

A personal goal of mine is to enter the annual close-up competition at my local magic club. I am interested in your approach to magic competitions – building the act, choice of material, rehearsal process, etc., and any top tips that you can offer me.

Thanks, Craig Longhurst

If you are interested to read my six-page answer, along with the other fifty-one answers, you can get it HERE.

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (179)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Javi Benitez Visiting; The Brittany Experience; The “How to Do a Book” Lecture; A Quick One On Erdnase; The Missing Link (Richard Wiseman)

These are The Magic Memories 179, gone online Sunday, June 2nd, 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.

Javi Benitez Visiting

One of the additional benefits of having written books that are translated into various languages – for Card College it is currently eight – is that I have many “friends”, in the sense of Jean Paul’s utterance that “books are only thick letters to friends”. Friends, of course, visit with each other occasionally. This is why I get pleasant visits from time to time from people I haven not met before.

Now in the case of Javi Benitez, from Sevilla, Spain, I have known him for some thirty years from my visits at the Escorial Card Conference. He has always been an eager attendant, and I have seen him grow from a very young man to the mature artist he is now.

Home with Javi Benitez, May 2024

Although we have had many friendly but short interactions on those occasions, we never spent much time together, and I followed his admirable career mainly through the media.

So, imagine my surprise, when I received an email from Javi, saying that he and his wife Lourdes (yes, like the pilgrimage site) were in Switzerland for a private show, and asking if I would be available for visiting.

And so we did finally meet for a long late afternoon and evening at my home in Muttenz, with lots of magic talk.

Like mots first-time guests, of course, Lourdes and Javi were treated to Barbara’s famous interpretation of Frank Garcia’s “Super Meatloaf” from Super Subtle Card Miracles! Plus amuse bouches as starters, a great chocolate mousse as a dessert (recipe by Paul Bocuse, again thoughtfully adapted by Barbara), accompanied by some fine wines, since “life is too short to drink bad wines”, as Goethe used to say, and who am I to argue with such smart people…

A highlight of the evening was Javi performing for us the routine with which he fooled Penn & Teller. It is an homage to his idol and teacher Arturo de Ascanio, who was also one of my most important teachers, even so far, that he considered me one of his “spiritual sons”.

Javi certainly is one of his closest followers, and what he does would certainly make Arturo proud.

If you have a few minutes you can watch what he did in the clip below, and I have nothing more to say than: BRAVO, olé!

The Brittany Experience

As promised, here is my little report of my travel to Lorient, Brittany, to see my friend and publisher Ludo Mignon, owner of Marchand de Trucs. Ludo is arguably nowaday’s most important dealer and publisher in France, with some of the greatest publications to his credit.

I have done my last two publications, Hidden Agenda  and Sharing Secrets, with him in French, and he and his graphic artist have done a superb job.

In the past two years he has also  reprinted the five volumes of Card College in French, there titled Cours de Cartomagie Moderne. 

Ludo, Sylvain, RG having Lobster

If you have never been there, you might know Brittany through the adventures of Asterix and Obelix, and, well, it is exactly that way (almost…).

It is not so easy to get there by plane, so most people do so by TGV fast train from Paris, which takes at least three hours to get to the nearer locations. The countryside is magnificent, to say the least, the people reserved, but warm, friendly and generous, once you know them.

There is hardly another part of Europe that is shrouded in so many myths and legends as Brittany, and in gastronomy the lack of wine they by far compensate by some of the best butter, cider, salt and of course seafood in the world. Briefly, it is one of the ten places to go before you do your last card trick.

The “How to Do a Book” Lecture

My visit occurred on the occasion of the release of Volume 5 of Cours de Cartomagie Moderne (Card College 5) and Secrets (Sharing Secrets), the latter had come out in October last year.

I suggested to Ludo to sign books and do an unusual lecture related to the book in general and to the latest publication in particular: I would perform and teach several items from Card College 5, but in-between try to explain the working process that takes place from the moment an author has the idea for a book, and the moment the book gets into the hands of the reader.

I had done this type of lecture only once, years ago in Paris, so had to think this over from scratch.

The result though, seemed to satisfy those who attended, some having traveled more than two hours to get to Ludo’s shop, where the event took place and lasted almost four hours, without anyone falling asleep 🙂

The pieces I did were:

  • The “Color Changing Deck” from CC5 (p. 1333): This is an ideal opener. As I have said many times, card tricks are not so good as openers, as many are quite procedural and it takes a while until the effect is reached. With the “Color Changing Deck”, though, there is immediate interaction, very important in close-up card magic, and the first effect happens within one minute. Then it goes bang-bang, with a great finale, and you end up with a “clean” deck, as you get rid of the only gimmicked card in a very elegant way. Another big advantage of this trick, at least in the version I do, is that the top ten or so cards do not get mixed. Therefore, I had those set to go into the second piece:
  • “The Stop Trick” from CC4 (p. 910): This is based on the version credited to Sam Horowitz in Greater Magic, but I have added some shenanigans that even fooled the experts in the room. In particular I have found a way to combine what looks like four real shuffles to get the top eight cards into the necessary arrangement.
  • “The Knowledgeable Cards” from CC5, p. 1233: This is possibly the most straightforward interpretation of the Hofzinser problem where a chosen Ace changes into a previously freely selected card. I think it is a great trick, as you might agree if you perform it a few times before laypeople. It is essentially very easy, although it requires a Top Change, but the latter takes place at a moment the attention is down due to the presentational construction of the trick.
  • “The Joker Folds Up” from CC5, p. 1349: This has been a “battle horse” (terrible war nomenclature) in all of my professional life, and to me it is the best version of the Hennig-Kaps folded card to box, I dare say even better than that of Fred Kaps, Frank Garcia, or even that of Tommy Wonder, which has a lot of fans; as for the reasons, I stated them in my lecture The Roberto Giobbi Lecture.

Between the performance of the above-mentioned pieces and their discussion, I interspersed bits of information related to the writing and publication of a book.

This is a subject most people simply ignore: Everyone in magic has at least a few books, but only very few have a notion of what it takes before that book is in front of them.

I hesitate to talk about it here, as I suspect the subject interests only few, but since this is my blog, I do not charge for it, and my credo is to do what I enjoy doing, I will give it a try 🙂

I have just spent about half an hour trying to transcribe what I said on the subject during the lecture, but realize that this will result in a work of a magnitude which will go far beyond the scope of these The Magic Memories: It is truly the subject of a lengthy talk.

Maybe, one day, I can convince the organizer of a magic convention for me to give this talk, maybe in form of an interview or panel discussion. I shall then insist that the event be taped and will make it available through my YouTube Channel.

Back Home

On Saturday, 11th May 2024, I made my way back from Lorient to Muttenz, Switzerland, and it was an eleven hour trip from door to door.

However, traveling first class on the fast train, that allowed me to read, write, and even do a little rest, plus a three-hour stopover in Paris, where I had time for an extensive lunch at “La Coupole“, made it an acceptable enterprise.

A Quick One On Erdnase

In a recent mailing I received, Potter & Potter offered a first edition Erdnase for $ 6’120.00, and I again wondered how significant this book by Erdnase really is.

The Expert at the Card Table, 1st edition (photo by “Quicket than the Eye”)

Is it an important book in the history of magic, not just card magic?

My answer is a definitive YES.

As I have mentioned before, it has arguably marked the shift of supremacy of the magical literature from Europe (especially France and England) to the New World, it has impacted one of the most influential voices in magic, Dai Vernon, and to this day it is a work in the front row.

As to the question if you need to read Erdnase to start in card magic and become very good at it, my answer is NO.

If it was not for the fact that its author is still unknown and a big mystery shrouds his identity, I very much doubt that the book would be as prominent as it is nowadays, except for historians.

From a strictly magical point of view, some books, exclusively or partially on card magic, published in the decades after Erdnase, are in my opinion far more useful to the performing magician. I am thinking of books such as Greater Magic, The Tarbell Course, Expert Card Technique, The Card Magic of LePaul etc.

The Missing Link

I have occasionally ended my The Magic Memories with a clip from Internet.

Since a few among you have inquired where on earth they have gone, here is one from a man most of you will know or have heard of, and who has published a great number of most interesting items (books, articles, video clips, talks etc.), but just in case you missed it, here is a short and sweet one.

To watch the clip, CLICK HERE.

This Richard Wiseman is a very smart man, and it seems to me that seeking out and studying his publications – at least some of them – will produce more insight and satisfaction than many an other activity.

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (178)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Paris, Paris; Masterclass “Sleight-of-mind – The Psychological Construction of Magic”; After-hour; Slydini on Slydini

These are The Magic Memories 178, gone online Sunday, May 26, 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.

Paris, Paris

If I came to Europe and could visit only one city, it would be Paris.

Certainly, I would miss Madrid, Barcelona, Vienna, Torino, London, but Paris has all I need in life, in abundance, and is a convenient three-hour fast train ride from Basel!


I arrived on Saturday, 4th May that is, late afternoon, was met by my good friend Yves Carbonnier at the train station, from where we drove directly to a bar close to our restaurant for a first “Kir Vin Blanc”, an aperitif I recommend you take at least once when in Paris.

The “apéro”, as they call it in France, gave my soul time to catch up with the spirits, we also went through the “Séminaire” in our minds, the Masterclass that would take place the next day, and it was a lovely wait before Amâlia Restaurant opened at 19:30h.

You can see what we had on Yves’ Facebook page… not such a bad start 🙂

Masterclass “Sleight-of-mind – The Psychological Construction of Magic”

The event took place on the premises of the FFAP (Fédération Française des Artistes Prestidigitateurs), located at 257 rue Saint-Martin, in the center of Paris, from 1 pm to 6 pm, interrupted by two very short breaks. So, almost five hours of full-immersion, non-stop magic.

On Sunday morning, when Yves and I tried to reach the premises by car, we were in for a first big surprise: Every first Sunday of the month they decided to close the center of Paris for all motorized vehicles…

It was only through my sleight-of-tongue and Yves’ e-mail confirmation of the contract he had for the location, that we were able to convince the lady police officer to let us pass and reach our destination, uff!

Twenty-three people attended, a complete sell-out, as we had limited to twenty (“off by three”), and I am glad to say that they were all happy customers.

Complex thoughts in simple words…

Once again I insist that the most important thing, before anything else, is to make sure the audience can see and hear what you are saying.

Even with “only” twenty-three people this can be a challenge.

You cannot see this in the photo, but what I did as soon as I arrived, is to change the seating so I had seven people sitting in the first row in a semi-circle around my table, a second row of nine people who could see very well because of the generous spacing between the chairs of the first row, and a third row with seven people sitting on the stage; they could see well over the heads of the first two rows.

Briefly, everyone had practically first-row seating.

Remember: Only if the audience is at ease at all times, can you hope to reach their mind and heart, what Aristotle in his rhetorics called the “Logos” and the “Pathos”, combined with the “Ethos”, the performer’s sincere enthusiasm and competence. This is true for any performance situation, of course, but especially for such a lengthy one as a day-seminar.

As for the content, I choose to discuss six topics from Sharing Secrets, which really was the textbook for this seminar.

The topics were:

  • Prologue and Epilogue
  • The Space-Information Continuum
  • The Look-Ma-no-hands Theory
  • Morphology in Magic
  • Intelligent Movements
  • Memory Editing

I introduced each topic with the performance of a trick I had selected for its strong impact on lay audiences and its practicality to perform it.

After that I went through the timeline of the trick, explaining its technical working, of course, so everyone could take a practical performance piece home. However, the focus was on how the particular concept under discussion would be applied in that particular instance, and how it could be transferred to other performance pieces.

All in all there were over a dozen tricks I had chosen for being A-pieces, plus lots of techniques, subtleties, ruses, and above all presentational ideas that could be applied to other tricks as well.

I was particularly pleased that I could devote over an hour to a topic that has only rarely, if ever, been discussed in a seminar, let alone in the literature, namely the role the spectators’ memory plays when constructing the false reality in their minds that eventually leads them into Wonderland.

As far as I know only Juan Tamariz in his epic The Magic Rainbow has touched on the subject in great detail.

Although you can refer to the subject on p. 74 of Sharing Secrets, “Memory Editing”, it is a completely different thing to be able to bring the concepts to process level by experiencing their effectiveness first hand and live. Also, the fact of being able to ask questions around the various subjects is something that makes such events a unique learning experience.

Everyone seemed to agree on this in a subsequent discussion, but it remains a mystery to me why the magic clubs do not organize such seminars more often, rather than having lectures, many of which simply try to sell you something (fortunately this is no true for all lectures). As a matter of fact, this Masterclass was not organized by the club, but privately with the help of my friend Yves Carbonnier.

As always, I closed the seminar with a Q&A session, where the participants could ask me all the questions that had accumulated during the afternoon.


The time after any official meeting is almost as good as the meeting itself.

I remember when I was a student staying in London for my Cambridge Proficiency Certificate, every Monday evening I would attend the meeting of the Magic Circle, where the action happened at the pub afterwards (“The Marlborough Arms” there sessioning with Fred Robinson, Eric Mason, Walt Lees, Jerry Sadowitz, JJ, Ian Keable, Chris Power…).

Back to Paris: After the seminar almost all of us gathered at a simple Bistro round the corner, where they served tartare de boeuf and bière artisanale, all I needed after an exhausting but very satisfactory teach-in.

Sessioning after the seminar…

The nice thing about these “after-sessions” is not only the food, drink, and magic, but that I get to know the participants a bit closer.

I was pleasantly surprised to see and learn what high-caliber participants I had, people who are at the top of their profession (most were amateurs), but also some top-pros drove up to five hours to be part of this event. Thank you to all of them!

Brilliant Arthur Chavaudret showing his latest finding

I only wish that a few younger people had attended, as there were none, also not a single woman…

I am nonplussed at the fact that the magic clubs do not sponsor some of their talented youngsters to participate at such events, which I immodestly think are important for their magical development. The fee of € 80 (eighty!) I had set for the day, including refreshments, was really very modest, I think, and should have allowed young people to participate, too.

I will never understand that magic clubs are paying lip-service to the “advancement of magic”, but seem to do very little in terms of practical action.

A big subject…

Slydini on Slydini

The day after the Masterclass, Monday May 6th, Yves, José Ángel Suarez of Magialdia fame, and I had rendezvous-vous with Georges Proust, the owner of the “Musée de la Magie”, a must-see for anyone interested in magic when in Paris, and founder of the “Académie de Magie”, one of France’s most important and influential magic shops and publishing houses (Georges published my Stand-up Card Magic and The Art of Switching Decks in French).

We had lunch at “Parcelles” (take note!), and after a delicious three-course meal with wines worthy of our attention, Georges pulled out the big surprise from a huge bag he had schlepped with him to the restaurant: The prototype of a lavish box containing all the accessories for his Slydini on Slydini project.

“Slydini on Slydini”, the box


You can read the details of how to take advantage from the pre-release offer in the attached PDF HERE and get an idea from the trailer HERE.

Let me just say that this is a project of worldwide magnitude, a product of the decade, possibly century, as it documents the work of one of the really BIG stars of magic.

Never before, and nowhere before, has Slydini been performing AND explaining some of his signature pieces; he does so here in Slydini on Slydini.

The box comes with a first-class set of handkerchiefs, two sets of very well made safety pins, two specially striken coins, a book that documents the most interesting and historic filming project undertaken by Christian Fechner, a world-famous film producer and FISM winner (1979 “Illusions” – I was there and saw his act!), and… ta-ta-ta-taaaa… a USB stick that will have your name engraved with five hours plus of Slydini performing and teaching, plus some extras…

There will be only 600 units available…

BTW: Do not worry about the French: Slydini speaks English (Slydini-English, that is…) in all his performances and explanations.

The sub-titles in French have been made out of National Pride and for the three or four people in France who do not understand English 🙂

If you read French, or have a little patience to let Deepl or Google Translate one the text, CLICK HERE for a three-page interview with Georges Proust and Jean-Luc Muller talking about the project and explaining its genesis.

Well, this is getting longer than I planned… and we are only at the second day in Paris!

Suffice it to say that I have of course visited with Bernard Bilis, who tells me that his book is progressing, walked around Paris, which is expecting even more visitors soon for the upcoming Olympic Games, and had an all-around great time… what else, it’s Paris.

Thanks to my friend Lorenz Schär’s recommendation, José Ángel and I visited the “Pinault Collection” at Les Halles, just opposite “Le Pied de Cochon”, a classic Parisian restaurant again worth going to (it had its ups and downs), located inside the newly renovated Bourse de Commerce, a phantastic  building by Tadeo Ando, with a spectacular mirror installation – SEE HERE.

Speaking of mirrors, I just have to tell you this one more this: Due to the Olympic Games, Paris has put up lots of quite original artwork on the streets, bridges and squares, one of which you can admire below. It is in front of the Louvre and the Louvre des Antiquaires (worth visiting!), being a mirror cube the size of a building, that reflects the surroundings in such a way, that when you look at it from a distance it does not seem to exist…

Mirror building in front of Louvre by Jean Nouvel

(For more comments on Paris see The Magic Memories 116.)

After Paris I went straight to Lorient, Brittany, to see my publisher and friend Ludo of “Marchand de Trucs” fame, but will postpone an account of my adventures there and on the way back for the next The Magic Memories 179, these being already long enough!

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

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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