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The Magic Memories (35)

Hi everyone!

As we go online with The Magic Memories #35, it is SUN, 29th August, 0:07 o’clock.

It is a hot day today, as it probably is in many parts of the world, the cards stick to the hands, the stacked pile of coins held in Classic Palm cannot be released reliably, therefore we need to cool down from inside. What better way of doing so than with an ice-cold soup. However, not any soup, of course, but a Watermelon Gazpacho. Anyone who will take 15 minutes of his or her time will be able to make this up and impress your partner, kids, guests, well, anyone whom you care to invite to your table.

Magic and Gastronomy have many things in common, last but by no means least, the moment when you sit with your guests and share a unique moment that will never come back in exactly this way, a moment where you present your passion, and then experience it together with your fellow human beings. The English, when they invite guests over for dinner, say, “We entertain them.” Very much like magic 🙂

To watch the video and start preparing the delicious Watermelon Gazpacho CLICK HERE.

Next week-end I’ll be back with some “real magic” :-), well, the way you probably expect it from me…

Have a great week!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (34)

Hi everyone!

As this goes online it is SUN, 22nd August 2021, 0:07 o’clock, and it is The Magic Memories #34.

Thanks to all who wrote in to say nice things about the last few posts, which featured clips from my Magic Apple Lecture and what you can do with the Card College Playing Cards, or with any other deck for that matter. Before I upload yet another episode of that epic talk to discuss more of the peculiarities of the deck, I thought we should take a break and look at some completely distinctive things. As probably many among you have done and are still doing – the pandemic is not over, yet, and forces most of us to stay home more than we would like to – I have been looking through my old notebooks. Needless to say that I’ve found hiundreds of ideas I had completely forgotten, but which should make an interesting little topic for today’s blog.

Buried Agenda, sort of…

Here they are, in no particular order, three items that will hopefully captivate your imagination, and if they do, keep you busy until next week’s meeting 🙂

Himber Napkin: In  Secret Agenda I published a first idea of how to convert an everyday wallet into a “Himber Wallet” (see the entry of September 5 – “Any Wallet a Himber Wallet”). Another method I’ve explained at many of my live lectures (at the times there was such a thing…), in the context of my TTTCBE. Here is yet another idea which occurred to me years ago: Take any paper or cloth napkin, fold it in half, and then fold it in three. In the photo below I’ve pulled the top layer a bit to the right, to expose the three-part partition. Open up the napkin from left to right and place any flat object in it, then close it again. A little later open the napkin from right to left – nobody except Monk will notice the discrepancy – and display the apparently same object (which you have obviously placed there beforehand). This is very practical and will fool anyone not in the know, and it can be used with a coin, a bill, a playing card, a small envelope (which might have various compartments itself…). Naturally, you will need to motivate the use and placement of the napkin, so you’ll nee to “do a little think”.  If performing after dinner, the napkin has a logical raison d’être, or you can use it to later wrap a deck which you then stab to find one or two cards, or you could write something on it (which can be switched!), etc. The sky is the limit.

Very Best of…: Using any scan app that can be downloaded on your smartphone, you can create a “Very-best-of-PDF” for your archive and later reference. When you read a book, a set of lecture notes, a magazine, or any printed publication for that matter, mark the items you like best, e.g., with those post-it-type self-sticking flags. Once you’ve read it all, go back and with the scan app take a photo of each item, one after the other. You will end up with a single PDF that contains all your favorite entries of that particular publication. I have an iPhone and use an app called “Scanner Pro” from Readdle, but any other app for any other type of smartphone will do. The important thing is NOT to make jpg-photos but scan-photos, as only this will yield a single document. You want to avoid having a folder with 35 individual photos, as this is of very limited use. Also, every good scan app has an OCR-function, i.e., the text will be transformed in searchable units, so later you can find whatever you’re looking for by simply entering a key word you remember. And if you transfer the PDF into an electronic note app, such as Evernote, well, you can also tag it, but that we leave for some other time (I know, I know…). And because it is a hot day today, and I had a wonderful Ossobuco with Porcini mushroom, and so many of you are so kind, I will make you a little gift in form of a little PDF that has a few of my own favorites from my Secret Agenda – to read and/or download it CLICK HERE. (And, yes, the Himber Wallet idea mentioned in the previous item is there, too 🙂

Although Hidden Agenda  is currently out of print and doesn’t even exist as an e-book (ask the guys at Vanishing Inc. why…), except for pirated versions on the Internet, Secret Agenda is back in print: You can order a signed copy from me, or get it from your favorite dealer, and for those who prefer, there is a low-budget e-version of the book, which you can get immediately by CLICKING HERE. Secret Agenda is just perfect to read on a tablet, and with a good PDF-app you can then extract your “favorites” (I use “PDF Expert”, again from Readdle).

BTW: This idea of a “Very-best-PDF” will save you a lot of money, because after doing this for ten years, you can stop spending money on buying new tricks, books, DVDs and what have you: Simply go back to your “archive” and you’ll have enough material to meaningfully spend your magic-time until the end of the world. Send 10% of what you saved to a good cause, me 🙂

Card on Umbrella: I can still remember how many years ago I looked at my library, which at that time was already well-fitted, and thought how strange it is that I only have three biographies (I believe these were the ones by Robert-Houdin, Fu Manchu – the two best biographies anyway – and possibly Busby’s book on Erdnase). Today I have almost two-hundred books, plus two dozen documentaries, on the lives of famous and not-so-famous magicians! All of them are of interest to me, although only a few have that introspective quality that I research in this type of book. One of them is by William Rauscher about Silent Mora, and it is still available. Here is an idea from Mora’s Notebooks, included in the biography, called “Card on Umbrella”. I’ve never done it, I must admit, but it went into my own notebook as an item to do… sometime.

The idea is simple: Have a card, e.g., the 2H in the folds of an automatic umbrella. From a deck of cards force its 2H, then spring the cards into the air, and at the same time, with the other hand, open the umbrella that hits against the cards cascading down. It only remains to show the 2H, which you then detach and hand to the spectator as a souvenir she can keep. If you get the book, you’ll find the idea on p. 192.

Well, that’s it folks for today. Wish all of you a great week!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (33)

Hi everyone!

Here we are, at the 33rd edition of The Magic Memories, gone online SUN, 15th AUG 2021, at exactly 0:07.

I had some nice feedback on last week’s post about the Card College Playing Cards and what you can do with them, so, thank you to all who sent comments! Please understand that I don’t answer, but rest assured that all incoming mail is read, and your friendly comments are greatly appreciated.  For those among you who have lengthy questions, or would like to discuss more complex issues, I remind you that you can take 75-minute long Coaching Sessions with me over Skype; in case you are interested, get in touch with me over the “Contact” function of the webshop, or simply CLICK HERE.

Penguin Podcast

Before we proceed to today’s topic, let me mention that Penguin’s Erik Tait did an interesting two-part interview with me for the Penguin Magic Podcast, and you get there by CLICKING HERE. In the first and this second “Years of the Pandemic” (I guess we need a name for these unique times), I have given quite a few interviews, video and audio, and you might already have seen or listened to one or two. Obviously, some topics keep coming up and are thus repeated, but some others are fresh and bring new information. So, it’s up to you to decide if you want to spend some time on it and deep-sea-fish 🙂

Introduction to Card Magic

For the benefit of the occasional beginner in magic, who joins us on these posts, but also for all of you who do a little (or big!) teaching of magic in magic clubs, schools etc., I remind you of a publication of mine that teaches the basics of card magic, sort of Pre-Card-College, called Introduction to Card Magic. The good thing is that it is a multi-media course, with text, photos and video clips, that is best studied on a tablet or a laptop (but I’m sure eagle-eyed youngsters can do so on their mobile, too). Some have expressed the wish of preferring a printed edition. You can easily make this yourself for little money: send the PDF you receive to a printer and have it spiral bound, the best binding for such a “work book”; this will cost you less than $ 20, and it will be cheaper than if I printed and shipped it to you, considering nowadays prohibitive shipping costs (and it will get worse…). The price of € 8.95 is of course a joke, as it is worth ten times as much, but I keep it at this low price because I wan’t everyone to be able to afford it, and it is less than a donation one should send if he or she got it for free! You find an excellent review of it by the enigmatic EndersGame if you CLICK HERE.

More Card College Playing Cards

On to today’s topic: Since so many seemed to like the excerpt from my Magic Apple Lecture,  well, here is the next sequel. In The Magic Memories (30), July 25th 2021, I gave you a PDF with the description of a trick using the Guarantee Joker of the Card College Playing Cards deck I named “TTT -Turn Over, Transform & Travel”. You might want to quickly refer back for context, or go to the PDF by CLICKING HERE (you may download it, but don’t send it around, send your friends to www.robertogiobbi.com).

And need I really mention that you can of course use any other deck and its Guarantee Joker, or if your deck hasn’t got one, take the Guarantee Card that comes with almost any deck, and if all this fails, simply take the normal Joker and adapt the presentation to that. As Garrick Spencer once told Dai Vernon, “Use your head.” This was what Vernon then kept repeating in his lectures and books, along with two other wisdoms by Dr. Elliott, i.e., “Be Natural” and “Be Yourself”. BTW: New York corporation attorney Garrick Spencer, a student and patron of Vernon’s, and a fanatical lover of magic, sponsored his famous Harlequin Act, among other things, and he also organized a small group consisting of some of the finest magicians of the day. He called them The Academy of the Art of Magic. Its 12 members were:

  • Dai Vernon
  • Nate Leipzig
  • Cardini
  • Al Baker
  • Max Malini
  • Charlie Miller
  • Arthur Finley
  • Paul Fox
  • Sam Leo Horowitz
  • G. W. Hunter
  • J. Warren Keane
  • Garrick Spencer

Back to the trick: Several asked about details of handling, so I decided that this week I would give you that part of the recording where I perform and discuss the trick. Actually, due to the situation, this being done via Zoom and without an audience or interaction, it is more of a demonstration than a performance, but it should do for teaching purposes – I hope you agree 🙂

For the benefit of those who haven’t got the Card College Playing Cards (why not?), the photo below shows it and the text: That’s the idea.

As always, to watch the video, CLICK HERE.

Enjoy – and have a successful week!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (32)

Hi everyone!

Welcome to The Magic Memories no. 32, gone online on SUN, 8th August 2021, at 0:07 o’clock.

Some of you have asked how I keep coming up with ideas and contents for this blog. Well, this is not so difficult if you consider that magic has been with me sind 1973, when I began practicing magic as a 14-year-old teenager. Yes, that was a bit late in life, or as Vernon would have put it, “I wasted the first fourteen years of my life!” But I believe I have compensated for the late start by dedicating every free minute to studying magic, and that were many hours each day! And then, in 1988, I decided to devote my life to the study, performing and teaching of magic, almost religiously, which means that I think, drink, eat, love and live magic all day, every day. As a result I find and come up with so many ideas that I could do such  a blog every day, and still would need to discard a lot 🙂 One day, which I’ll probably not live to see, there will be a University or a Foundation, or similar institution, that hires people like me to do just that in a systematic and detailed manner. And that brings us to today’s offering.

The Magic Apple Zoom Lecture – Episode I

As I have mentioned in the last edition of The Magic Memories,  I recently gave a 3-hour lecture over Zoom for Brent Geris’ Magic Apple in Hollywood, California. All participants had received a deck of my Card College Playing Cards, and in the second part of the lecture – almost 2 hours long – I discuss how my Chinese publisher TCC and I created them, several applications of the deck’s visible and hidden features, such as the one-way back design, the use of the included double-backed card, the various prints on the box, the Special Guarantee Joker, and as an added bonus several tricks, of course. In this clip you’ll see Dai Vernon’s “Staring him in the Face”. There is lots of information here that should make your day 🙂

As for “Staring Him in the Face” demonstrated and explained in the video , I remind you that in The Art of Switching Decks, my book on deck switches, on page 146, you’ll find my idea of how to imperceptibly switch the deck in use for a cold deck at the end of the trick. The chapter, in which this is described, titled “It’s Not a Deck Switch, But…” contains a lot of food for thought. If you don’t have that book you can get it from penguinmagic.com, and if you care for a personal dedication and my signature, you can get it directly from me by CLICKING HERE (I have a promotion on it until TUE, 10th AUG, 2021, midnight CET).

Although in my discussions I refer to the Card College Playing Cards, you can do almost all of the items I mention with any other deck. Should you now feel the urge to get at least a set of these decks, you should be able to get them through your favorite dealer (if they don’t carry them, ask them to do so), or you can as always decide to support your favorite, altruistic and friendly author (me!) and buy them from his webshop www.robertogiobbi.com.

As a thank you for your loyalty I just decided to have a special promotion on one brick (contains 6 red and 6 blue decks), to take advantage of it, CLICK HERE. Again, this will only be until TUE, 10th AUG, 2021, midnight CET and only valid for ONE BRICK. You may order more bricks at the same promotional price, but I will then send you an email and ask you to pay something extra for additional shipping (unfortunately, as a very small business, I do not have the shipping rates like Amazon and the big magic dealers have – I appreciate your understanding).

Coming to a close of today’s ramblings, I should mention that at the end of the video sequence you’ll see, I briefly discuss what in my opinion and in my professional experience of many decades is perhaps the most practical and safest control of a selected card to the bottom of the deck; I won’t say more 🙂 To watch the video CLICK HERE.

Enjoy, and have a good week!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (31)

Hi everyone!

Today is the 1st of August, 2021, and these thirty-first The Magic Memories are going online at exactly 0:07, as usual.

Again, I should take off and leave my ramblings out for a week, for today is Switzerland’s National Day: The date is inspired by the date of the Federal Charter of 1291, Pacte du Rütli, placed in “early August”, when “three Alpine cantons swore the oath of confederation” (Schwyz, Uri and Unterwalden), an action which later came to be regarded as the founding of Switzerland. Today, Switzerland has 26 cantons and a population of about 8 million. In a recent statistic Switzerland was listed as number 2 of the world’s richest nations, based on the GDP per capita, and number 3 in the list of the World Happiness Report. Unfortunately, the Corona virus doesn’t care about this, as the situation here is similar to most other countries. And whenever I think of statistics my dear friend Lennart Green comes to mind, who has some hilarious examples to make fun of statistics. A short one is this: if you put your head in the hot oven and your feet in the deep-freezer, in the statistical average you feel very good! Ah, Lennart, he deserves a book, a huge book…

Giobbi teaches Green how to eat Swiss Cheese Fondue

Green teaches Giobbi a natural card move

 

Interdisciplinarity

The other day I watched, for the n-th time, the movie Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe, a comedy inspired by the screwball comedies of the Forties, with Jacqueline Bisset, George Segal and Robert Morley. In Secret Agenda, entry for SEP 2, I briefly describe my five favorite films, and there I wrote about the plot: “Europe’s most famous chefs are killed in ways that parallel how they prepare their own specialties. Crime fiction and black humor work here in a delicious combination. The main theme of this film, gastronomy, is the basis of all art. Why? Gastronomy is about eating. If you don’t eat you die. And if you’re dead you can’t be an artist. Therefore, gastronomy is the basis of all art. Any questions?”

The DVD I have, contains among the extras a superb interview with director Ted Kotcheff (*1931), made 30 years after the film’s release (1979)! In this candid conversation it becomes clear how many things filming and magic, but also gastronomy, have in common. Briefly: You are sharing a passion in real-time with other people you like. Kotcheff, who directed and produced hundreds of films/series for film/TV, when asked what he thought is the most difficult genre in movies, responded, “Action movies are easiest,” – he directed Rambo First Blood – “comedy is the most difficult.” I believe this is very similar to magic, where comedy magic acts are indeed very difficult. I remember I noticed this already in 1979, when I went to my very first FISM convention mIn Brussels and watched the World Championship Competition: the acts in the “Comedy” section were the worst, and only very few managed to walk the fine line between comedy and magic, without destroying one, the other or both. BTW: Swiss comedy magician “Erino” came second in “Comedy”, a very funny act… and man.

To come back to the movie: Who is Killing the Great Chefs of Europe masterfully manages to balance the crime fiction plot with the comedy, so that they complement each other, and the result is truly more than the sum of its parts. When asked how to do a good movie, Kotcheff pragmatically answers, “Oh, that’s easy. All you need is an excellent story, excellent script, excellent crew and excellent cast!” This reminds me of star chef Thomas Keller, who in the preface of his book Bouchon writes about the secret of great cuisine: “Excellent products, plus excellent preparation, equals excellent meals!” And in magic? Well, excellent trick, plus excellent execution, equals excellent performance! As you can see, the world’s a Chaos, and like fractals one discipline reflects the other, with small differences in content.

Speaking of interdisciplinarity, and how to apply the insights gained from one to another, Dai Vernon was a great model. He keenly studied other fields of interest, chief among them the techniques and strategies of the cheats, and applied what he saw and heard to magic. If I was a Professor at a University of Magic, I would conduct a study on the subject of which operational concepts in magic, specifically card magic, have been influenced and in which way by gambling and cheating at gambling. I’m convinced this would lead to a better understanding and interpretation of many sleights we are using nowadays, and to the invention of new and better ones.

To come back to Vernon: He also very intelligently cross-bred concepts within magic. As an example he was very fond of Jack McMillan’s finding of the “Plunger Principle”. The fact that cards, which were interlaced and jogged one towards the other, could produce unseen movements, fascinate him. At least two major inventions were the result of it. One, his “Triumph Shuffle”, which was the operational basis of what to me is without doubt one of the Top Ten card tricks, “Triumph”, as described in Stars of Magic. You find a detailed description in Card College Volume 3, pp. 642, “The Triumph Shuffle”, and if you’re a visual person, you should go to my Card Magic Masterclass video series, and there on Disc Three – False Shuffles and Cuts you’ll find a very detailed discussion of the technique at 1:22:40, which will enable you to learn it in a few minutes, provided you can already do a proper normal Riffle Shuffle.  (Card Magic Masterclass is no longer available as a DVD set, but you can download the five lessons individually or as a package deal from vanishingincmagic.com.)

The second thing that the Plunger Move inspired in Vernon was his Multiple Shift – one of the first descriptions, if not the first, can be found in The Tarbell Course of Magic, but I also discuss it on Disc One – Controls of the above-mentioned Card Magic Masterclass, with ideas that have never been published before (you’ll find it at 1:18:55).

So, my friends, that’s it for today. As always I hope that something has caught your fancy and triggered your imagination.

Have an excellent week!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (30)

Hi everyone!

Here we are, at number 30 of The Magic Memories, gone online SUN, 25th July 2021, at…, yesss, 0:07 h!

On Sunday, 18th July 2021 I gave a virtual all-new Zoom lecture for the “Magic Apple Shop”, located in Hollywood, Los Angeles, one of the few remaining brick-and-mortar magic shops (although their online-business is huge, of course). The owner, Brent Geris, is a likable and generous man. Imagine that for a fee of $ 30 the 47 participants each received a parcel containing a deck of the first edition Card College Playing Cards deck, 8 special cards to follow hands-on some of the items taught during the lecture, plus the lecture itself, obviously, that ran 3 hours, plus another hour for a few who stayed for more Q&A and chat. The lecture was recorded, and the plan was to sell it for $ 10 to each participant, same as when you attend a lecture and afterwards buy the lecture notes. To me, this makes sense. But Brent, in his boundless generosity, decided to give it away for free to all participants! Wow – who am I to argue… especially because I keep saying that money is not important (but it is, unfortunately, necessary). So, if you are one of the lucky 47, I hope you have got your copy and revised it, for there are hundreds of small bits in it – besides the main content (!) – that are not just mere “tips”, as some fools call them, but doors to infinite galaxies… I do not exclude that at some point I’ll put it up for all to download for peanuts, or I’ll extract a few items to use in these posts. We’ll see…

The second part of the lecture focused on the unique characteristics of the Card College Playing Cards. If you’re new to The Magic Memories, or have a lousy memory as I have, you can refer back to The Magic Advent Calendar of December 22, 2020, or go to the product description, which says it all, by CLICKING HERE. At this point I would like to remind you that you can access all past posts of The Magic Advent Calendar as well as The Magic Memories for free, and for a nominal fee you can purchase the complete posts of the Magic Advent Calendar as a single PDF, enabling you to access all links, film clips etc. in one place, which is really very convenient (CLICK HERE to get the PDF).

The Guarantee Joker

This brings us to today’s offering. The Card College Playing Cards have, among another dozen features, two specially designed Jokers. Before sending in your criticism about them, know that these Jokers are the only thing in the deck and case I am not completely happy with. I spare you the story of how these came into being after an exhausting email-correspondence with the publisher, who otherwise did a marvelous job, in my opinion. One thing, however, is still very good and useful, namely the text which I concocted and which went onto the “Guarantee Joker”. You can do several trick with it. I’ll mention just three here:

  • “Card Call” from Stand-up Card Magic
  • “Guaranteed!” from Confidences
  • “The Fine Print”, also from Confidences

If you do “a little think”, as Einstein used to say, you’ll find that you can use it in several other tricks you already know, and thereby add a new twist to the presentation. For all note-takers among you I should mention that this is the moment you could open a note in your physical or (better) virtual notebook, titled “Tricks & More With a Guarantee Card”, and then start researching and thinking, and discussing with others… As an aside I’ll mention that if you enter “Guarantee Card” into Behr’s Archives, you get seven hits – well, that’s a start, isn’t it?

Below are the two Jokers of the Card College Playing Cards deck, in all their splendor…

The two Jokers from the Card College Playing Cards deck

The Guarantee Joker

And here is, finally, a trick called “TTT -Turn Over, Transform & Travel” that uses precisely this Guarantee Joker. To read, study and practice itCLICK HERE.

Enjoy the magic, and have a successful week!

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (29)

Hi everyone!

Welcome to the 29th edition of The Magic Memories, gone online on SUN, 18th July 2021, at 0:07 h.

Gerd Maron and Dagmar

In 1991 I had an idea for a TV series: 8 programs of 40 minutes, each having as a subject magic that would happen in a beautiful and fascinating city. The list contained, Paris, Marrakesh, Budapest etc. Together with a friend who ran a successful advertising agency and who had a background in filming, we decided to finance a pilot – actually I did the financing – that we would then try to sell to any TV station that had an interest in it. We choose Venice as our first destination, and together with Barbara and her sister, a camera man, one for the sound and my friend as the director (editor, cutter, promoter etc.) we went to la Serenissima… and spent almost a week recording some great material.

This episode of my life would certainly make for an interesting and entertaining chapter in a biography, but I’ll spare you all this for some other time (perhaps).

Anyway, part of the concept was to have a guest performer, and since Venice is so famous for their doves, a dove act was a logical choice. Obviously, our budget was limited, but, for some lucky circumstances, I was able to convince Gerd Maron (1923 – 1996) and his wife Dagmar to be part of our project with their act that had taken them to the Lido in Paris, the Stardust in Las Vegas and many of the world’s top Cabarets and Nights Clubs. Frankly, I have no recollection of how I managed to do that, but am certainly glad I did. Although the TV series never came to be – and that’s yet another story – I now have one of the very few recordings of his complete act before he retired.

The TV audience should think that the act was being performed at the Teatro Marco Polo in Venice, while in reality it took place on the “Baseldytschi Bihni”, a small t theatre in my home town Basel, Switzerland – this was done as post-production, like some other scenes, when we came back home. As you’ll be able to (hopefully) appreciate, the style and music is of course that of the Sixties and Seventies, so you have to think “retro” when you watch this. However, as connoisseurs you will be pleasantly surprised at the originality and deceptiveness of some illusions. His dove work was impeccable, and I find the vanish of the doves from the cage more logical than vanishing the complete cage, as most would do it. And the method is excellent. However, his pièce de résistance was his “Dog that comes to life”. Not only was this a very practical illusion that could be performed surrounded even in the most delicate situations, I also challenge anyone to find out the working, even after watching it several times. The psychological and technical construction of this production is absolutely brilliant. In my opinion it is the best small illusion I’ve ever seen. Once you find out (after at least five viewings), please refrain from talking about the solution on the Internet, thank you.

When Gerd was in Basel, I had the chance to spend an evening with him chatting about magic and life, and I remember him as a humble and wise man. He was a deep humanist, and I remember him mentioning how he and his wife Dagmar would bake their own bread and exposed ideas about living a healthy lifestyle when this was not yet a subject as popular as today. I retrospect I wish I had spent more time with him as he was such a wonderful man and artist.

To watch Gerd’s and Dagmar’s delightful show, CLICK HERE.

Have a great week!

Yours sincerely,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (28)

Hi everyone!

As this The Magic Memories number 28 is going online it is Sunday, 11th July, 2021, exactly 0:07 – welcome 🙂

Today, let’s talk money. I mean, not the money-money, but the magic-money.

The Miser’s Dream

First, I’ll remind newcomers to this blog that I have already talked about coin magic in several other blogs. You might like to see my take on the Coin Assembly plot titled “Coinvergence” in The Magic Memories (8), or the more recent clip “Le roi des dollars” by Segundo de Chaumón in the more recent The Magic Memories (25). BTW: You can find all past The Magic Memories blogs by CLICKING HERE.

The arguably greatest coin trick for laypeople is “The Miser’s Dream”. I remind all of you of Dany Ray’s wonderful routine that he used all his life in his cabaret act when he worked many of the top night clubs of the world. I discussed that in The Magic Memories (6) in more detail – here is just the clip for ease of reference; watch just the opening trick, which is his Miser’s Dream (CLICK HERE).

I’ve never had The Miser’s Dream in my active repertoire, for many reasons, but have read, studied and admired many versions. Only once in my career, as far as I can remember, did I use a routine – a fairly simple one at that – to open a presentation for a Trade Show. I’m glad you’re not asking me about technical details, because I have no recollection of them, although I might be able to find the script of the presentation. As an aside: I’ve never been a great proclaimer of scripts in magic, but whenever I did a trade show I wrote one. First, because there is quite a bit of text in it that I would normally not use and that was scripted for the company and the product. Second, because I would sell it, along with a preceeding treatment, and I would even charge for the hours needed to learn the text and practice the usually slightly changed trick sequences! Trade shows were fortunately only a short part of my career and I did them just for about ten years or so, and only three or four a year, alternating them with regular corporate and private show, lectures etc., in order to get a (for me!) healthy mix.

Anyway, I’ve been out of the Trade Show business for over ten years now, but could tell quite a bit about it, if you asked 🙂

Back to the Miser’s Dream: Although I can’t give you details of the performance, I will always remember one of the funniest anecdotes that happened to me on that occasion. It was the year 1990 and I was working for a renowned German company at an industrial fair called the “Hannover Industriemesse” – if you ask international trade show workers like Mark Phillips or Bill Goldman they can tell you more about this events which they, too, have worked several times.

I was doing a specially conceived performance to present the advantages of a computer controlled robot system for stock-keeping, at that time an innovative concept. To start my act I was using a simplified routine of the Miser’s Dream to attract people with the noise and visual quick effects – what else – and to mention the salient sales points which I would comment more explicitly later in the performance. I did six performances of ca. twenty minutes every day for 10 days. That, for me, was a lot of work!

On such a booth the employees change daily, at least there are people being exchanged every day. So it came that a new employee of the company arrived on the booth shortly before I was finishing one of my many performances. He caught maybe the last five minutes of the show, and of course the enthusiastic applause I usually received at the end of each performance – I was giving away things, so this made it easier. After the show I gathered, as usual, the few props I was using and went to my miniature dressing room on the booth where I met this newly arrived gentleman who complimented me on the performance. One of the props I was carrying was the coin pail for the Miser’s Dream. As he talked he suddenly became aware of all the coins in the pail. He instantly became silent, looked at me, then at the coins, then at me again with big eyes and exclaimed: “Whew, and they even give you tips!” If you think that in Europe tipping is far less common than in the United States, the situation was even funnier.

Checking my copious notes on the Miser’s Dream in my Evernote devoted to the subject, it almost made me pick up this wonderful trick again, but I won’t, as there are other projects requiring my attention. However, as this week’s contribution, here are three ideas that might put you on track.

The first is a note I made from Todd Karr’s amazing publication titled The Silence Of Chung Ling Soo – the book is out of print as far as I know, but you can ask at Miracle Factory (their site is currently under maintenance) or check second hand sites, such as bookfinder.com. CLICK HERE to see one of Mr. Robinson’s (his real name) ideas.

The second note is a one-page article by William W. Larsen, father of the Larsen brothers of Magic Castle fame and the founder of Genii magazine, from a 1950-issue of Genii, CLICK HERE to read.

And the third note is an idea of mine to open a Miser’s Dream routine, without any gimmicks and to be used with a normal champagne bucket (but you can of course use a gimmicked one, if you like… and have one). Here is the idea:

5 or 6 coins are in the lower left vest pocket along with a Purse Frame. In the lower right vest pocket 1 coin.
Show champagne bucket and hands empty, place on table. In a searching action place both hands into vest pockets, left hand comes out with Purse Frame first, right hand with finger-palmed coin. Produce coin from Purse Frame and drop coin in bucket – first Action of Habituation: Each time this sound is heard, it denotes that a coin has been produced. Put Purse Frame away or vanish (nice paradox: to vanish “nothing”…).
Left hand takes bucket, spills coin into right hand, and then replaces bucket on table. Vanish coin from left hand (retain in right Finger Palm), which is shown empty, and then with left hand reached into the lower left pocket of the vest, to apparently reproduce the vanished coin. In reality all coins are finger palmed and only the top coin pushed out and held at the tips of the left fingers. The right hand apparently takes the coin, really displays its previously palmed cain, spins it into the air and catches it again, as the left hand picks up the bucket in “Coin Drop Position”. The right hand apparently drops its coin into the bucket, but really retains it in Finger Palm, as the left fingers surreptitiously drop the first coin of the hidden stack into the bucket, producing the now familiar sound.
This is the beginning of a short Miser’s Dream Routine.
As a finale see Dany Ray’s ending: The right hand reaches into the bucket and seizes as many coins as possible, which are then apparently dropped waterfall-style back into the bucket, but about half a dozen are retained in Finger Palm.  These are then dropped from the nose in a “Hatschi-Action”. Finis.

Pronunciation

Recently, while researching something completely different, I caught a little discussion on Internet on how to pronounce my name.

OK, very simple: It is Italian, of course, as “Roberto” suggests, and the last name “Giobbi”, which seems to be a Piemontese family name, is pronounced like “job” and “bee”, i.e. “jobee”, with the accent on the first syllable, “jóbee”. For the linguists among you, the “gio” is a voiced post-alveolar affricate as in “jungle” or “judge” or “job”, followed by the “bi”, which is a rounded closed front lingual vocal, and is not pronounced like “buy”, but like “bee”. So, you see, simple things can be quite complicated if you let experts at it… (the is why I wrote Sharing Secrets, to explain the complex in a simple way). Any questions?

And just in case you find these linguistic conondrums amusing, here is an entry from my own Secret Agenda, to remind those who have it, and for the rest, well, you can still get it, physical or as an e-book from the webshop (Hidden Agenda, unfortunately, is now out of print).

August 14 – The Ghoti is a Fish

This is not only fun and little known, it also shows the terrible logic that lies at the foundation of any language (especially English!).

Write the word “ghoti” in big letters on a piece of paper and declare that it is pronounced “fish”. Your audience will look at you, not knowing whether to be polite or tell you you’re nuts. You then proceed to prove your case.

gh is pronounced f, as in cough.

o is pronounced i, as in women.

ti is pronounced sh, as in nation.

Therefore, ghoti must be pronounced fish. Quod erat demonstrandum.

Interviews, Reviews, Blogs

I’ve given at least a dozen interviews, audio and video, in this year and the last one, the “Pandemic Years”, like many of my colleagues have. It is, of course, flattering to be asked for an interview, but also a bit time-consuming, especially with me, who speaks six languages, half the planet comes at me, since I always speak their language, which of course is a lot easier than having to use sub-titles or override-audio. The disadvantage is that the contents get repetitive and inflationary. I have therefore stopped this, at least for a while. So, if you like how I think and what I have to say, and you probably do if you are reading this right now, you can get a last (for the time-being…) ear- and eyeful of Giobbiwisdom. Here is a podcast interview I gave to Michael Close, and since he’s himself a very experienced and creative professional, there were a few question that have not been asked before, and you might find these interesting. To hear the interview you need to sign up to Mike’s free newsletter by CLICKING HERE. In the newsletter you’ll also find a very nice review of Sharing Secrets. For all of you who want to practice their French or who are native French speakers, Stéphane Bergounioux recorded a almost one-hour interview on his “Magic at Home”, and to see that FAITES CLICK ICI.

Sharing Secrets

Just a brief note to let you know that I ran out of my personal stock of Sharing Secrets, meaning that if you want the book for yourself or a friend, please go to your favorite dealer. If he doesn’t carry it, ask him why not (!), or go directly to the distributor penguinmagic.com. If you can’t find it, go back in a week or so and it should be there.

Have a great week!

Yours sincerely,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (27)

Hi everyone!

For the 27th time I welcome you to The Magic Memories, gone online SUN, 4th July 2021, at 0:07.

For a small part of the world, but a large part of my readership, the USA and its magic enthusiasts, it is a holiday, their Independence Day, and I send to all among you who are concerned my sincerest best wishes for a peaceful day and a successful future. I’ve been into magic for now over 48 years (wow!), and there are many amazing things I could tell, but possibly the best thing of all is that people of all nations, ages, social status, economic levels, religious, political and sexual orientation can meet and enjoy each others company and discuss and perform magic, without even mentioning their differences and simply enjoy that great passion they have in common, whether as beginners or as consummate professionals. I know, this has been said before, but it warrants being repeated time and again, because there is a big, important and far-reaching message here…

To Take Or Not To Take a Leave

As I’m writing this it is SAT, 3rd July, a few hours before this blog gets online. In Switzerland it is the first day of the summer vacation for most cantons, and they call it “Bündelidaag” in Swiss German dialect, “the day of the little bundle”, implying that today you’re supposed to pack a few things into a bundle and walk off for a well-deserved vacation. I immediately thought that I should do this, too, and take a leave from my weekly The Magic Memories post. Imagine my surprise, when this was confirmed by my horoscope (it is just opposite the crossword puzzles I like to solve in a weekly magazine I receive…), which read verbatim:

“That’s it, you’re worn out! Look at it as a welcome opportunity to slow down. Even you need a moment of relaxation from time to time.”

Now how is that? How did this astrologer know that I had spent a year writing, editing, correcting, layouting, marketing, unpacking, signing, repacking, schlepping etc. my book Sharing Secrets? Isn’t that incredible, especially because I, as a typical Taurus, do not believe in horoscopes. OK, I stole that line, sort of, as the original by Sir Arthur C. Clarke is: “I don’t believe in astrology; I’m a Sagittarius, and we’re skeptical.”

So, as I was about to write that I won’t write anything this month, I found myself in the midst of writing. I guess that makes sense, and proves that even nonsense has a meaning. If you have been into magic for such a long time as I have (see above…), and if you’ve decided to dedicate your life to the wonderfully complex  world of magic, it is not possible to think or say whatever it is, without finding a connection to magic. And this is precisely what happened here. As I was going to put you off until next week, I was reminded that astrology is, of course, a most interesting subject to use for presentations. It’s actually so easy, too easy… and experience has shown that you need to be very careful about what you say and to whom you say it. As magic proves to anyone who performs frequently, day after day, there are too many people out there who are incredibly naiv and gullible. I said it in several of my writings, and will gladly repeat it here: In my opinion magic should be used to edify and educate people, not to add to their ignorance. This means that if you use astrology with a serious presentation, several in your audience will be confirmed in their belief about it, and after the show you’ll have people come up to you and involve you in discussions you might not want. In this context I’m always reminded of Einstein’s quote: “Two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity. But I’m not so sure about the universe.”

Back to the magic: two things, at least 🙂 One, returning to Sir Clarke, as I searched on Internet for the originator of the quote and found him, I have to admit to my ignorance that I did not know him, or maybe just had forgotten about him, yes, that’s it, I forgot 🙂 I clicked on his name, and up came dozens of clever quotes you might want to explore for yourselves. This one caught my attention: “This is the first age that’s ever paid much attention to the future, which is a little ironic since we may not have one.”

Now, isn’t that a great quote to get into any type of trick involving a prediction? Of course, see “”Prologue and Epilogue”, p 88/89 in Sharing Secrets. I couldn’t help going to my note in Evernote (ahhh, take note: open a new note on any idea, and then gather material about that idea in that note each time you find something about it), titled “Different Ways to Stage a Prediction”, and then make this entry: Sir Arthur Clarke, the famous British science-fiction writer and physicist, once said, “This is the first age that’s ever paid much attention to the future, which is a little ironic since we may not have one.” However, I know for sure that this particular experiment, we’ll going to conduct now together, does have a future. And I will commit myself to it by writing it down here on this billet…” How much better this is than the hackneyed, “OK, I’ll write a prediction and set it down here… OK, I have four coins here… OK, for my next trick I’ll use the four Aces…” How boring… and what an unartistic way of getting into a piece of magic. Because you need a Prologue, yes, I’ll keep saying it: No trick without a Prologue and an Epilogue!
Two, as I was putting order to a drawer that had ideas of almost 20 (twenty!) years ago, I hit on an idea I’ve never realized, but which I might in the future… In any case, I’ll let you into it, maybe someone among you will make this up and perform it – I have no doubt that it is a very good trick, and it will be of great impact, provided it is performed with insight and talent (to paraphrase Hofzinser).
Here is the effect: place a pretty ring-sized box on the table explaining that it contains something about the spectator’s future. Have her write her birthday on a billet, which you hand to her. See the photo of the zodiac sign billet below, which comes as a note pad – this used to be a commercial item, but I have no recollection whatsoever from where this came from, so if anyone knows, I’m happy to give the correct credit in the next post. The billet is folded, torn and burned (find your own reason why…). Next a card is selected, because cards and astrology have been going together since time immemorial (really?). Recap, dramatize and then have the spectator open the little box herself: It contains a folded billet that reads:
“You have been born in the sign of Pisces, and your lucky card is the Ace of Diamonds!” Everything is correct, obviously.
As for the method I shall be brief, contrary to my other writings :-), and simply say that the billet is of course given the “Center Tear” treat, so you know her birthday and zodiac sign. The card, in our example the AD, is forced, and in this context a simple force such as the Criss-cross Force works admirably well (see my handling in Card Magic Masterclass – Disc Five, Forces). Finally, you have a billet index with 12 billets, 6 on each side (see photo), which you switch in à la Fred Kaps Folded Card to Box (see my handling in “The Joker Folds Up”, pp. 1349 in Card College Volume 5, the best of the five volumes!). The spectator may take the billet home as a souvenir, so she always remembers what her lucky card is, just in case. And as Tommy Wonder used to say, “There is a one-year warranty on the luck, after that you must come back…”
You might agree that this is a very nice effect, to say the least. As always, there are several problems to solve, and I leave this to your ingenuity, in case you want to delve into it. Remember that one of the most beautiful things is the feeling of having achieved something original, but please also remember that you first read about it here 🙂 (I do not exclude, however, that someone else has come up with a similar idea – see “The Monkey Scale”, p. 78/79 in Sharing Secrets.)

Have a great week!

Yours sincerely,

Roberto Giobbi

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The Magic Memories (26)

Hi everyone!

Congratulation to you (and me): We made it to the 26th installment of The Magic Memories, gone online SUN, 27th June 2021, at 0:07h, this being mid-point of the second Pandemic Year.

Therefore, today’s leitmotiv is the number 26, naturalmente. I’ll do a bit of “free association” hoping that you’ll find one or two things that catch your fancy.

Half Forcing Deck

The first thing that comes to my mind when I think of the number 26 is the “Half Forcing Deck” (HFD), i.e., one that consists of 26 cards all the same, and 26 indifferent cards. What sounds like a trivial thing is in reality quite complex. The basic application uses just the duplicates and the indifferent cards, usually separated in two banks, but also in groups or alternating. The next degree of sophistication is to shorten either one, in order to obtain one of two types of Svengali Deck. Although this is the deck par excellence to pitch to laymen on the street, in markets and magic shops, to the expert it is a powerful tool with which you can even fool people in the know. Just think “Partial Deck Switch” and “Faro Shuffle”… If you want to get an overview of what can be done with a Svengali Deck on a more sophisticated level, check out “Chapter 13 – Magic With a Svengali Pack of Cards” in Hugard’s (ed.) Encyclopedia of Card Tricks, and you’ll be spoilt for choice. This book, btw, is the book for the proverbial island: Descriptions reduced to the essential that require a lot of creative interpretation on the part of the student, i.e., the perfect starting point to practice “second degree originality”.

Yet another apparently simplistic application of the HFD is to treat the face of the duplicates and the back of the x-cards with roughing fluid to form 26 “Forcing Pairs”. You’ll find a most wonderful application of this rigged deck in Sharing Secrets, “The Trick That Can Be Explained”, p. 109, with which I’ve amazed some of the smartest minds in the business for years, including super-experts like Juan Tamariz and Bernard Bilis. If you have my book The Art of Switching Decks – A Guide for the Beginner and the Expert, watch the DVD (included at the back of the book!) again, just the first three tricks of the initial performance segment, and you’ll see me do that trick there. If you missed it, I promise that this will make your week 🙂

Years ago, I gave a lengthy lecture for my club here in Basel, the Zauberring Basel. For the record: The latter was originally founded under the name of “Hofzinser-Ring” in the year 1947, was later renamed “ZRB – Zauberring Basel” and joined as a local club the national organization Magischer Ring der Schweiz. In that lecture, however, I did not focus on what you can do with that Forcing Deck, but rather what you can do with the 26 indifferent cards! I can’t remember if people enjoyed it or threw eggs and tomatoes, but I still think that the subject is interesting, for various reasons you may now try to find for yourselves… I recommend you do this as a creative exercise: Make a list of ten tricks that can be done with this deck using the indifferent cards rather than the force cards. This is, of course, also very useful if you’re using a Half-Mnemonica (half of any memorized deck), to delay the use of the memorized part.

Sunken Key Card

If you are a card person, the number 26 should inevitably conjure up what might arguably be the most clever and deceptive use of the key card principle, the “Sunken Key Card”, sometimes called the “Distant Key Card Principle”, of which the “26th Card Location” is arguably the best-known example (but there are a lot more…). I first read about it in one of my favorite card books, Hugard’s & Braue’s Expert Card Technique, which I first read at age 16, and studied assiduously instead of chasing girls, which I should have done… but then maybe my Card College books would not be what they are. The lesson is: There is always a price to pay, and, as they say, nothing is for free, even death costs your life.

Anyway, the principle underlying the “26th Card Location” is put to effective use in “Routine 4” in Card College Light, pp. 63: I strongly advise you to re-study the complete three-part-routine, as not only is each trick a good one, but the synergistic idea connecting the three is a concept to note and retain. As I discuss in Sharing Secrets, recognizing and naming a concept is one of the most difficult, but also most useful things to do when you read or watch magic instruction. However, it is not enough to just do this, you must then also find one or two tricks in your repertoire to which you can apply the concept, in order to instill the concept and to make it part of your toolbox of skills, because that’s the point of real progress and the way to artistic maturity. And yes, it is a lot of work you can’t buy from magic store, BUT the results will be all you can hope for and contribute to your personal happiness – no esoteric beliefs and rituals here, just solid work. Isn’t it wonderful that you can reach happiness just by dealing with a key card concept 🙂

Incomplete Faro Control

The first to put the “Incomplete Faro” to good use was LePaul in his fantastic “Gymnastic Aces” from The Card Magic of Paul LePaul (p. 207), even after more than 70 years one of the best Ace-Openers. Marlo later concocted his control, where a card peeked at in the extended part of the telescoped deck, eventually ends up exactly in the center of an odd-numbered deck (26 – 1- 26). I discuss the principle in Card College Volume 3, in Richard Vollmer’s “The Two Detectives” (p. 697). Over the years Richard has come up with a few simplifications, which I have included in the revised edition of Grosse Kartenschule, so those who have the latest German edition of it can find it on p. 831. For the others who have the English edition, here is a very brief description: Instead of doing a Straddle Faro with the complete deck as described, hold the deck face down in elevated dealing position, cut off a little less than the top half of the deck, and then faro it into the larger lower part. Immediately extract the inserted part, discarding the few cards left on top and bottom of the deck. You end up holding a telescoped (incomplete) deck in perfect condition to execute the Incomplete Faro Control as explained in the trick. The advantage is that you don’t have to worry about your first Faro as much as before, and get into the trick smoothly.

Additional Suggestion

Try entering any of the above-mentioned terms into Denis Behr’s Conjuring Archive (such as “Sunken Key Card”, “26th Card Location” etc.), and you’ll be able to spend the rest of the week (at least!) exploring unknown galaxies of the Card Universe.

Final Comment

The Card College Playing Cards regular edition have been out of stock with many dealers, but Murphy’s just restocked, so you should be able to get them again. I predict that the first edition of 2019 (so marked on both sides of the card case) will soon be completely unavailable and become a sought-after deck. If you want to say “Thank you” and support yours truly (me!), order them directly from my webshop HERE (especially the brick with 12 decks is at a really good price). And if you do so, you’ll always get a personally signed greeting card and some “extras”.

Have a great week!

Yours sincerely,

Roberto Giobbi