These are The Magic Memories 55, gone online Sunday, January 16th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.
Curious Things From “Curious” Times
In the hope you are doing well, here are bits and pieces from my end that will be interesting to those of you who take an interest in this type of things…(to freely paraphrase Miss Jean Brodie).
The online dictionary dictionary.com defines the term “curious” as: “Arousing or exciting speculation, interest, or attention through being inexplicable or highly unusual; odd; strange.” And its archaic use is given as: “Made or prepared skillfully. Done with painstaking accuracy or attention to detail. Careful; fastidious. Marked by intricacy or subtlety.” Now, how is that for a subject for this week’s The Magic Memories?
Exactly what you and I are interested in, isn’t it? So, to stay magical, here are seven curiosities, from seven different areas of life, in no particular order, but all relating to magic, of course – sometimes you just have “to do a little think” to find the connection…
Curiosity 1: Curious Cards
I don’t consider myself a collector of playing cards, but like many of you, cards are my instrument, and their history, nature and characteristics have fascinated me since I started making them my means of expression. If you are a newcomer to card magic, I enthusiastically recommend getting some information about the arguably most versatile instrument in the whole realm of artistic magic. There are of course books on the subject, which are usually beautifully illustrated, and if a few among you write in to tell me that you are interested, I shall be happy to recommend a few of my favorite titles.
Meanwhile you can hardly do better than checking out the blog “Frequently Asked Questions: An Essential Guide for New Playing Card Collectors” by my dear friend EndersGame from Australia, who is one of the most knowledgeable people on the subject. CLICK HERE to get (almost) all your questions answered.
Knowing something about the history of cards is more than just trivia, it is a way to better understand and connect to what is the extension of our hand and mind. A more profound understanding of playing cards will strengthen the emotional relationship you have with what you do, and therefore imbibe any performance with your Ethos. The audience will feel this, and the result will be a more artistic performance. It’s a complex and beautiful thing worth thinking about…
Curiosity 2: Linguistic Curiosity
The longest English word to be found in a normal dictionary of English is:
Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis (45 letters)
Its German translation is Quarzstaublunge (15 letters).
The English word is 300% longer than the German, but the English version of Card College, compared to the original German version, is about 10% shorter. Wonder what that means…
Curiosity 3: Curious Competition
Last year during the Lockdown the Getty Museum launched what they dubbed “The Getty Challenge” and encouraged followers to reinterpret famous paintings. See the photo below for a particularly felicitous “magical” sample: On the left you can see Swiss painter Albert Anker’s (1831-1910) “Boy with Slate”, and on the right Swiss magician Pat Perry holding the first German edition, spiral-bound (!), of Card College Volume 3 (Grosse Kartenschule). If that’s not curious, they’ll have to redefine the term 🙂
I should add that Pat Perry, whose artistic growth I had the pleasure of following from his beginnings as a young magic enthusiast to today’s successful professional status, deserves a lengthy entry in this series of blogs, and I just made a note to do so in one of the next editions.
I cannot fail to note a similarity between the titles of most works of art and those of magic tricks: both are purely descriptive, with no pretense of originality, such as Vernon’s “Slow Motion Aces” and Picasso’s “Girl Before a Mirror”, or “Ambitious Card” and again Picasso’s “Bather with Beach Ball”. Albeit unimaginative, they are intuitive terms that immediately tell you what the work is about. Besides, a genius worries about the content, not the title. Makes sense to me.
To see more excellent examples of the “Getty Challenge”, CLICK HERE. Disregard the text, if you don’t read German, just click through the images, and you’ll spend an uplifting minute (doesn’t take longer).
Curiosity 4: Curious Shipping for Signed Card
I see that some have tried to order a signed card via my webshop, but then aborted the ordering process. I assume that they got scared by the high shipping costs calculated automatically by the system. Let me tell you, its’ easier to learn Dr. Jacob Daley’s “Double Peek and Bilateral Side Steal” (from Expert Card Technique, p. 470), than to change the shipping calculation system of a webshop. So, here is my offer: if you want a signed card, DO NOT go over the webshop but send me an email. I’ll send you a PayPal payment request over EURO 10, which you’ll have to pay, and will then snailmail you a priority letter with the signed card, framed on a nice postcard, and signed with my Montblanc Heritage 1910 with Irish Green ink to your first name (please specify!).
The word “curious” appears three times in the suggested patter for the following trick, so it fits the criteria for this week’s themed The Magic Memories: It comes straight out of Hugard’s and Braue’s Royal Road to Card Magic, titled “Righting a Wrong” (p. 172):
This is one of those feats—so dear to the hearts of all audiences, and all magicians—in which the mystifier apparently himself becomes the mystified. He fails but in the end turns the tables in striking fashion. Nothing pleases an audience more than to catch the infallible wizard in an apparent failure. They enjoy his discomfiture for the moment, then are amazed and intrigued when he emerges triumphant.
1. Have the pack shuffled, take it back, and have any card removed and noted.
2. Have the card replaced and pass it to the top.
3. Shuffle overhand, running seven cards above the chosen card, which becomes the eighth card from the top.
4. Invite the spectator to name his card, which let us say is the ace of hearts, and instantly say, “Eight cards down!”
5. Deal seven cards and prepare for a double lift, as you say, “Will you name your card again?” Turn over the two cards and show an indifferent card, which let us call the nine of clubs.
6. Appear disconcerted by your failure, and turn the two cards face downwards as one. Remove the top card—the spectator’s ace of hearts—and toss it face downwards on the table to one side. “Let’s get rid of that nine of clubs,” you say grimly. “Don’t worry. I’ll find your card, if it takes all night.”
7. Shuffle overhand, running seven cards above the top card as in step No. 3. The nine of clubs, which is supposed by the audience to be on the table, is now eighth from the top.
8. Weigh the cards in your hand, as if making a calculation, and say in a puzzled tone, “That’s very curious. I still get a vibration of eight. Perhaps your card is at eight this time.”
9. Deal seven cards and say, “This card could be any cardexcept, of course, the nine of clubs, which is on the table—but my vibrations tell me that it is your card.”
10. Turn the eighth card and show that it is the nine of clubs. “Curiouser and curiouser!” you say. “This can’t be the nine of clubs. I put it on the table. Unless . . .!” Turn over the table card and show that it is the spectator’s ace of hearts.
End of trick description. As I’ve said before, Royal Road to Card Magic was a groundbreaking book at its time, like the Ford Model T was, but if you wanted to buy a car today you wouldn’t want a Ford Model T, would you? The trick is full of flaws (that’s the “curiosity”), but with the knowledge of modern card magic you will be able to take this inherently interesting plot and turn it into a really elegant card miracle. If you are curious to know how I did it, I shall be pleased to write about it in one of the upcoming posts.
Curiosity 7: News for the Curious
Yes, for those who are curious what I’m doing in these times and have asked how things are going, here is a bit of news that might please some of you: Friday noon of this week I finished taping the complete technical part of Card College 3 – Personal Instruction, where I demonstrate and discuss all the techniques from Card College Volume 3, in a similar format I did with Card College 1&2 – Personal Instruction. If all goes according to plan, we’ll tape the trick sections and explanations at the end of January, then do the same for Card College Volume 4 in February. You can peek into the studio we set up in the basement of my home below. More infos to follow at regular intervals.
All the very best for the coming week – check back Sunday, 23rd January, as always at 0:07!