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The Magic Memories (159)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: Did You Know This? Trivia for Presentations; Little Update on Unexpected Agenda – On the Memorized Deck; Pirate for a Day

These are The Magic Memories 159, gone online Sunday, January 14th, 2024, at 0:07h sharp.

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

Did You Know This? Trivia for Presentations

Did you know that wine grapes are the most cultivated fruit worldwide?

The species is named Vitis vinifera (“the one that bears the fruit”). For one bottle of wine they need ca. one kilo (ca. 2.2 pounds) of wine grapes.

When I read that I thought, “Who needs to know that?” What a piece of useless information, well, at least for most of the world population.

But it did send me to my non-magic library, which is well-stocked with ca. 1’000 books, of course not to be compared to my magic library with over 3’500 books, not counting the 30 meters plus of bound and unbound magazines…

part of the non-magic library

I have a section in it that does not fit in any of the other sections, and in my mind I call it “trivia”, armed with just a few dozen books. Three of them are written by one Hanswilhelm Haefs titled Handbuch des nutzlosen Wissens (“handbook of useless knowledge”).

Yes, I know, it’s in German, but a quick search with Google, searching “books on useless knowledge”, brought forth a plethora of publications in English, the name of which confirmed that its content is at least as useless as that of the equivalent literature in German, only that in English they seem to know more useless things than in most other languages (I did not check Russian or Chinese, though…).

Books like these are definitely useless, as you will for instance learn that in the USA there are more psychoanalysts than postmen, that men fall out of bed more often then women, and that the Inuits use refrigerators to avoid that their food freezes.

So, what’s the point of all this?

As you know I am fond of finding presentational ideas for tricks, or at least ideas for a prologue, which begets an epilogue, and both beget a presentational theme for the trick.

So, you could say that by exploring the unnecessary there is a good chance to find the necessary, call it a kind of serendipity.

In any case, nothing seems to be too trivial as not being worth one’s attention, especially if it leads to an amusing, informative, and ultimately “entertaining” performance, “entertaining” meant in the artistic sense of fascinating an audience, based on the Aristotelian “Logos” and “Pathos”, through the performer’s “Ethos”.

It is not so complicated, after all, is it? Yes, sure, simple but not easy, Mr. Burger.

Little Update on Unexpected Agenda

In The Magic Memories 157 I promised to keep you posted on the progress of the Unexpected Agenda, the book project I am currently working on as much and as often as I can.

I have already worked several hundred hours on assembling and rewriting about 450 entries from the several thousand notes I have taken in the past fifty years; ultimately I will need “only” 366 items, so almost one hundred will have to leave (how about a Leftover Agenda...).

There is a lot left to do, I expect ca. 1’200 work hours just from me, not counting photos and illustrations taken and edited, layout, two proof-readings, corrections, preparation of final PDF for print, printing, binding, packaging, shipping to me and distributor, 20kg boxes schlepping, unpacking, managing orders, signing, repacking, shipping, all of that plus other minutiae, to ultimately sell ca. 2’000 copies in ten years… So, my advice to anyone who is thinking about writing and publishing a book is DON’T!

Although many of the concepts, thoughts, philosophies never get dated, most of what will go into the book is of more recent vintage, findings I came upon in the past years as a result of my synergetic studies of many topics.

It is certainly the advantage of getting older that now I see things more as being part of a much larger context, while in the first decades of my magical life I focused a lot on details. Now both things, breadth and depth, are coming together, and I hope that it will show in the new Unexpected Agenda.

More on this later. Here is for your entertainment pleasure a yet unedited entry that will go into the book concerning the benefits of using a memorized deck. Enjoy.

On the Memorized Deck

The following ideas are an answer to several readers who wrote in to ask for my comments on the use of a memorized deck.

Generally speaking, stacked decks can be divided in two big categories: Partial stacks and complete stacks. The complete stacks can again be split in mnemonic stacks (e.g., Tamariz Menmonica, Aronson Stack) and circular stacks. Finally, circular stacks consist of mathematical stacks (e.g., “Si Stebbins”) and rosary stacks (e.g., “Eight Kings”). So far for taxonomy and terminology, a basic requirement for the understanding of a topic.

The mastery and use of a memorized deck has several advantages over other systems. Here are a few thoughts to start you thinking about the subject.

  • Card Index: Technically a memorized deck is also an efficient “Card Index”, i.e., it allows you to access any card at any moment. Although this can theoretically be done with mathematical stacks, too, a mnemonic stack is much fast: This is especially practical when using two decks.
  • Partial set-ups: It is a great memory aid when you have to remember a sequence of cards: Rather than learning a new order, take a sequence from your memorized deck. An example is “Card Call” from Stand-up Card Magic, where I need to memorize ten cards. I simply take the first ten cards of Mnemonica and thus do not need to learn a new order; this alleviates stress and gives me self-confidence in performance.
  • Selection & Control: Replaces selection and control phase, as you can simply have a card named out loud, and then locate it instantly. In parlor and stage work, or any stand-up situation for that matter, having a card named saves a lot of time. However, you also lose the impossibility factor. For it is not the same thing to (false) shuffle the deck and have a card named, as to have a deck shuffled by the spectator, then have her reach into the hand-spread to take any card. In such a situation she can see that she has a choice of fifty-two cards (!),  then to replace the card and shuffle the deck herself. As always: You have to pay the price, as you cannot get something for nothing, and as the saying goes, even death costs your life.
  • Quite generally speaking learning a mnemonic system can be helpful to improve your memory, or at least improve the way you use it by instilling memory aid techniques. Although Tamariz in his book Mnemonica teaches a “shortcut system” to memorize the order of the cards and their position in the deck, the classic method is to have an image for every position and one for every card, and then create an association between the two. Since this article is not supposed to be a course in mnemonics I refer you to the technical literature (e.g., The Encyclopedia of Card Magic, Chapter 20 – The Nikola Card System). If you are a native speaker of English, you can use the system as it is ready to go, but if you think in another language you will have to adapt the system to words and images in your own language. I remember how it took me several days to do that, many years ago (!), but it was a lot of fun. And then it took me another several weeks to apply the mnemonics to the complete deck. When I then visited with Juan Tamariz and he explained to me his own system, I had to unlearn the entire thing! I think I have told this story somewhere else in my writings, but I do not remember where…

Pirate for a Day

Sorry to keep today’s The Magic Memories a bit shorter than usual, but my ophthalmologist prescribed a maximum of three hours a day woking in front of a monitor for the next few days.

This is as a consequence of a cataract operation I had to undergo on Tuesday. The surgery itself is ambulant and is over in about twenty minutes, which is not bad if you consider that they are taking your old lens out of your eye and replacing it with another, sort of a transposition… I do the same thing with cards much faster and less invasive 🙂

All is good, but in ten days they will take care of the other eye.

I think I am going to ask them if they can implant a lens that allows me to look into the future… hey, here is another presentational idea, “I have a new lens in my eye that allows me to look into the future.” Obviously, to be believable, you will have to do the operation…

Anyway, for a day I looked like one of those one-eyed pirates 🙂

Wish you all a successful and happy week,

Roberto Giobbi

3 thoughts on “The Magic Memories (159)

  1. Roberto, I also just had cataract surgery in both eyes (about 3 months ago). All went well and no glasses necessary at this time. I still have a light sensitivity issue but that has nothing to do with the surgery.

    Good luck with your surgeries.

    My surgery cost me $10,000.
    I bet you probably paid very little.

    Gary Plants

  2. My favorite eye drops are the Blink brand. No preservatives and imported from Germany.

  3. Fascinante la respuesta y las memorias Roberto. Gracias por contestar nuestra petición sobre barajas memorizadas.
    Saludos mágicos

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