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The Magic Memories (109)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Cat College – Grosse Katzenschule; The Long And the Short of It; Better Late Than Never; Card College Playing Cards – One-way Card Trick: On Reviews, Critique, Reports and Other Opinions; Last words (for today…)

These are The Magic Memories 109, gone online Sunday, January 29th, 2023, at 0:07h sharp.

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

“In life there are important things, and there are less important things.” I remember this was an opening line Eugene Burger used, but I forget what performance piece it went with. The “less important” things are sometimes referred to as “trivia”.

After last week’s lengthy report on the Session, which brought in quite  a bit of positive feedback for which I thank all who took the time to write in, this week is a bit “lighter” (reminds me of something…), and shorter, with some “trivia”.

Cat College – Grosse Katzenschule

This week my young friends Lorenz Schär and Tino Plaz visited with me, and we spent a very pleasant afternoon and evening with lots of stimulating, good magic, and of course a dinner to match the affair. A forth party joined us to pick cards… (see photo below).

These two chaps, who could be my sons, are very talented, each one in his own way, and I can only recommend that you occasionally arrange get-togethers with various generations, as this keeps the old young, and makes the young wiser, an ideal synergy.

BTW: You will hear more from these two young men, as I predict a bright magical future for them, although they’ve already embarked on it a few years ago.

Lorenz, for instance, has published a book in English, Cards Against Reality, and you can get it HERE. Tino has some projects of his own underway, and you will hear from him soon.

Cat College – Grosse Katzenschule (photo Lorenz Schär)

The Long And the Short of It

I just received an order from Spain, and here is the address (for privacy I changed  names and numbers but kept the exact length):
Francisco Suarez Ciranol Conejo
Avda Segundo de Carlos, 9, 5-A
34482 Las Palmas De Gran Canaria
Las Palmas
(107 characters incl. spaces)

Another order from the USA received a few days earlier looked like this (again, for privacy, I kept the length but changed the rest):

Will Smith
Main Str. 5
84043 Ark (UT)
(38 characters incl. spaces)
Isn’t this a great mirror of the differences in culture? I love those differences, I really do 🙂

An amusing comparative study between the US-American and the Spanish culture can be made by reading Asterix in Spain and Asterix and the Great Crossing. In the rare instance that you should never have heard or read of the Asterix and Obelix comic books, please drop everything and order the first volume, Asterix the Gaul. You will probably want to order and read all the others, too 🙂 Le Monde lists it as one of the one hundred most memorable books of the 20th century…

I remember one of the last American magic convention I had been to before the Pandemic we had a sandwich and a cup of coffee for lunch. At a recent Spanish convention, where they give you at least two hours lunch break, we started with a few tapas (olives, anchovies, gambas) and an aperitif (a Vermouth, which is back en vogue), followed by a little salmon tartare as a starter with a glass of Albariño, a cold soup (no wine with a soup), a Boeuf Bourguignon with a glass of Rioja Reserva, a cheese with a Sherry, and then a little dessert with a Pedro Ximenez, an espresso with an Orujo (the Spanish Grappa), and maybe a cigar if there is time and place.
Isn’t this difference remarkable?
And it could make for a lovely presentational hook: Have a card selected and find it in a quick and visual way. Say that this is the American way. Then explain that you are now going to show the same trick, but in the manner they would do it in France or Spain. Come up with at least a five-minute routine where a chosen card is found once or in several ways (maybe: first on top, then reversed, then in the cards case, and to end in your wallet?).

Whether you like it or not, fact is that presentational ideas are waiting everywhere, and this one came just from reading a lengthy address in Spain that gave me a good laugh!

Better Late Than Never

A few weeks ago I received an email, remarkable on various levels, and I simply have to tell you about it. I asked the person in question if I may do so in my The Magic Memories, and he agreed, but I’ll keep his name a secret 🙂

His first email to me read:

Dear Mr. Giobbi
I am an amateurs, working on card magic for myself. When I started, I went to YouTube for a couple years then discovered and bought several of your work from some outfits for $10-$20. Your teaching has been a tremendously uplifting in all areas.
I owe you $500 as a small token of appreciation . Wire transfer is the easiest, Paypal works if you wish.
Thank you again,
City, USA
I answered:
Dear Mr. X,
Thank you for your message, this is truly extraordinary.
When I was a student (over 40 years ago!), I photocopied magic books that were out of print or that I couldn’t afford (no Internet then). Later, when they were back in print and I could afford them, I bought them all in original, to thank the authors.
Now you’re doing the same thing – but we must be the only ones, as I had never anyone else do what you’re doing.
If I may, I will tell this story on my blog (without mentioning your name nor company, of course), if you don’t mind.
Also, may I send you something physical to show my appreciation, e.g., my book Secret Agenda, if you don’t have it (it is one of my favorites), or maybe a set of my Card College Playing Cards? For this I need an address.
Here is my bank account info:


In favor of: Roberto Giobbi, Schlossbergstrasse 5, 4132 Muttenz, Schweiz

Will let you know when it worked.
All the best,


The $ 500 arrived into my account within a few days.

This is even more remarkable in that this person is the head of an important company, so it takes twice as much courage to do what he did, I think.

Anyway, this is a beautiful gesture, and it is the first time that anyone has done this to me.

So, just in case anyone reading this has bought some pirated PDFs or videos of my publications, and wants to clear his or her conscience and receive my absolution, you can send me an email through the “Contact” on my webshop, or send wine, liquor, cigars or anything considered unhealthy to the address above 🙂

BTW: I case you are concerned about my health, I remind you that Doug Henning (1947 – 2000), who meditated several hours per day, lived on an Ayurveda diet, practiced sports, and led a life that is considered through and through healthy,  lived to be 53, while Dai Vernon (1894 – 1992), who drank liquor regularly, smoked cigarettes and later cigars on a daily basis, and did almost everything considered to be unhealthy, lived to be 98 of age, almost twice as long as Henning.

Long ago I decided I want to live to be 98…

Card College Playing Cards – One-way Card Trick

I remind you that the Card College Playing Cards have a very subtle one-way back design: Absolutely not obvious and virtually impossible to detect, but easily recognizable from a normal distance for those in the know. You can even see it in a hand-fan, in a tabled ribbon-spread, or when you spread the cards between your hands. More info on the cards and how to get them HERE.

The Card College Playing Cards
Card College Playing Card (royal-blue back)

I suggest you open two notes in your notebook, paper or electronic, one with “One-way Back Principles”, the other with “Tricks With One-way Back Cards”.

In the January 2023 issue of Genii David Britland describes a trick that puts the one-way back characteristics of a deck to excellent use. If you subscribe to Genii – and I recommend you do as I do (no pun intended) – you’ll find it on p. 54, titled “Take it or Leave it”.

On Reviews, Critique, Reports and Other Opinions

As a response to my report on the Session in The Magic Memories 108, Toni Cachadiña from Barcelona wrote:
I found this article by Roberto excellent. It honestly describes the circumstances at the Session with knowledge, freshness and clarity, at all time being respectful towards everyone, but giving an in-depth comment based on his great experience of many years, and with integrity, on the good and not so good things. Interesting, not as the convention reports in most magic magazines, were everything is said to be perfect, excellent and very magical, something that hardly matches the truth. You have to be objective, clear, and tell it as it is, because this will be for the betterment of magic, and it will be better received by the audience. Thank you Roberto.

I take note that each time I write something “critical” I get a lot more reactions than with other writings.

I remember that when in my Genii column “The Genii Session” I wrote about Robert-Houdin’s infamous quote of the magician being an actor playing the role of a magician, a “critical” even “controversial” article, and maintained that a magician is not an actor, and that “acting” (in the sense of the professional actor) could be detrimental to good magic, it caused what they nowadays call a “shit storm”.  (If you would like to read that article from 2010  you find it HERE. Also see “Be Yourself” in Sharing Secrets (p. 26) for more thoughts on the subject.)

And when I wrote restaurant reviews for a newspaper here in Switzerland – I did this for almost two years – the only one that received a lot of comments was one where I negatively commented on a restaurant. For those among you who “collect” the Giobbi stuff, HERE is the PDF with the collected restaurant reviews – In German, natürlich 🙂

It seems that the slogan “only bad news are good news” is not such a cliché after all…

It reminds me of when George Bernard Shaw (1856 – 1950), who always refused to write book reviews, was forced into writing one by circumstances.

Since he didn’t like the book, he wrote:

“This book is good and original. But the original part is not good, and the good part is not original.”

I know of a few magic books to which his would apply, too, but I’ll keep my mouth shut on this one…

Years ago, in the past millennium (!), Christian Scherer, who was then the editor of the Swiss magic magazine Hokus Pokus, asked me if I would consider writing book reviews.

I was then reminded of the famous literary critic Marcel Reich-Ranicki (1920 – 2013) who once said that if you write badly about an author’s book, you will have him as an enemy for the rest of your life. Indeed, after he wrote a critical review about Heinrich Böll’s book Fürsorgliche Belagerung (1979). Böll, a Nobel Prize Winner in literature (1972), didn’t talk to Reich-Ranicki for a long time.

So, I initially refused, but after some kind pressure I agreed to review only the books I liked 🙂

I did so for about a year, with a dozen books or so, until one day I reviewed a good book, and wrote very well about it, with the exception of one single sentence, which was not negative, it simply was not “hurrah, hurrah, hurrah”. Promptly the author wrote back, taking exception to this one single phrase, ignoring the rest, and started to argue and bring up excuses for having written what I did not glorify.

Then and there I decided that this was my last book review and to never again waste my time for such things (unless I was paid for, but this doesn’t happen in the world of magic magazines, or only rarely…).

After all, in magic we are a “family”, which I feel is a good thing, but in some instances it is not.

Final Thoughts (for today…)

This Saturday morning I started out by wanting to write a short blog with a few bits of trivia.

On rereading it late in the evening before sending it online, it turns out some of it is not so trivial after all.

Which reminds me of what Max Maven (I miss you!) said about Dai Vernon (I miss you, too!) in The Spirit of Magic, the documentary about Dai Vernon (watch it HERE), “What he said and did was never trivial.”

It’s a great motto to live by, at least it is worth trying.

Wish you all a very successful week!

Roberto Giobbi

1 thought on “The Magic Memories (109)

  1. Brillante como siempre, gracias a Dios mi conciencia está tranquila, pues soy gran admirador de todo tu trabajo , en algunos casos tengo ejemplares duplicados, y me parece extraordinario el valor que tuvo esta persona para reparar su fallo.

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