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The Magic Memories (93)

Hello everyone!

Today’s topics are: “Dave Attwood visit & podcast 2015”; “Feedback on Card in Balloon”, “Reminding you of Behr’s archives”; “Stop trick with back-palm”; “Magialdia 2022”, “Vintage Chart”.

These are The Magic Memories 93, gone online Sunday, October 9th, 2022, at 0:07h sharp.

Dave Attwood Visits & Podcast

One of the “additional benefits” (forgive the marketing language) of writing books is that I seem to have many more friends than I personally know! This is not a paradox, but reminiscent of what Jean Paul (1763 – 1825) once wrote: “Books are only thick letters to friends.”

It is indeed one of my great pleasures when someone comes up to me after a show or a lecture, especially at magic conventions, and says something like, “Your books are my bed-side read”. It certainly makes me feel close to such people although I’ve never met them before. This cannot be bought with money, but it comes free as a result of a lot of unpaid work.

Years ago Dave Attwood from Victoria, Canada, of “Dave Attwood Show” fame, one of the first magic podcasts before they became fashionable, did a two-part interview with me, one of the first on Internet, maybe the first for me… it was back in 2015, which by today’s software standards is medieval or earlier…

Anyway, Dave called saying he was on vacation in Europe and took upon himself a six-hour train ride from Munich, where he had attended the “Oktoberfest” for 3 days (!), to visit with me an evening and afternoon, before heading out to Vienna, and then back home over Paris – quite a trip.

Below is a photo, taken after a tasting of 5 Sherries (see Magialdia report below), and a great meal with venison ragout, a Swiss specialty (it’s game season). In the background part of the over 80 Giobbi-titles, including the foreign language versions and new editions 🙂

Attwood visits Giobbi

If you are new to these Magic Memories, you may want to liste to the first part of the podcast (CLICK HERE): You’ll have to fast forward through the opening chatter to get to the beginning of the interview at ca. 22:00 – to compensate for this, there is a part 2, which you can find on the long list of other guests.

Feedback on “Card in Balloon”

To discuss a trick from time to time seems to please my readership, therefore we’ll have another one on this week’s Magic Memories thanks to Leo Hevia from Silver Spring (USA) who wrote in to comment on last week’s item “Card in Balloon” (The Magic Memories 92) , which used the back-palm:

With the exception of Jim Steinmeyer’s version of Cards to Pocket from his Conjuring Anthology book, I’ve never before read a card trick that utilized the back palm as a secret maneuver.

So, if you have the book, look it up!

Reminding You of Behr’s Archives

I agree that the back-palm has not that many practical applications outside of stage manipulation, BUT there are more than you think 🙂

As always, when faced with such an issue, a first quick fix is to check on Denis Behr’s “Archives”. If you go to conjuringarchive and enter “back-palm” into the search field you get 18 entries (CLICK HERE). That’s far less than if you entered “thumb tip”, which yields 384 entries (!), but it’s a start…

Below is yet another idea which I’ve used to great success in the past to fool more than one knowledgeable individual – can’t remember where this is from, but you’ll want to try this on your wife, girlfriend, magic buddy, or other victim, as soon as you finish reading it.

Stop Trick With Back-palm

Stand behind two containers such as pots, Baseball caps etc. (originally two hats were used).

Have a card selected and control to 4th from top. Place the deck face down in the container to your left. Take the top card, hold it with the back towards the audience and say that they can call out ‘stop’ anytime they like, and that the card you are holding will then be their card.

Place the card in the container to your right without showing its face. As you take the hand out of the container hold it as if you had a card back-palmed, but as natural as possible. Then reach in the container on your left and repeat as you explain the procedure.

You’ll find that you have to take a small step back and stand a bit more behind the left container to make the hand movements look natural. Or hold the container with your left hand. Try different ways.

As always: Use your head!

Your “explanation” should be done by the time you’ve placed the 3rd card into the container on your right.

From now on back-palm the card – the selection – each time you apparently place it into the right container, and reproduce it as you reach into the left container as if it was a new card.

Whenever they call stop, you can show the card you are holding to be theirs!

The presentation is reminiscent of Vernon’s Stop Trick as detailed in Confidences (“Stop Trick With Second Deal”, p. 212 – palindromic!) or “The Double Bet” (“Lesson 41 – False Deals” in Card College 3&4 – Personal Instruction).

You can considerably enhance the deceptiveness by initially controlling the selection to the top. Start to place the deck into the left container, but on second thought hand the container briefly out to check “that there is nobody inside”. Again, start to put the deck into the container, immediately thumb off the selection into the container, when on second thought you remember that the deck should be shuffled. Let them do so. Take the deck back and set it next to the selection already in the hat. Now proceed as per above. Thanks to this ruse the audience will be convinced that they shuffled the cards, and that the container is “free from guile”. For lack of another name I’ll call this the “Partagas Ploy”.

Try it – with a little attention to the angles this is quite practical and good!

(This is one of the many items that did not make it into Stand-up Card Magic.)

Magialdia 2022

I spent the days from September 14th to 20th in Vitoria, Basque Country, Spain. As those who have been following these posts over the past two years know, this is my favorite magic convention. As a reminder, here is a view over part of the historical center of the city that has a population of ca. 200’000.

View from convention headquarter NH Hotel Canciler

Again, for the newcomers, you may want to catch up on what I already wrote about this convention and the place in earlier installments of The Magic Memories #41 and #44 (I remind you that you can read all past posts HERE – scroll down on that page that lists every link individually).

What is so remarkable about Magialdia is that it is a three-week Festival of Magic sponsored by the city – this is quite an achievement. Their chief organizer, José Ángel Suarez, is even employed part-time to organize this big event, part of which is a three-day magic conventions with ca. 400 attendants from all over the world, but mainly from Spain.

One reason why the convention and the dozen of activities around it run so smoothly is that José Ángel has been working with the same team over decades – this year was the 33rd year. In most countries the national convention is handled by a different team every year, and they keep making the same mistakes.

Another reason for its success with the public is that many events are free, although you have to get a ticket as most activities take place in a theater, or in a bar-restaurant, in a library etc. with limited seating. This is of course quite exceptional and only possible thanks to the local sponsors and supportive government.

In 1990 I was artistic director of a convention we put up here in Basel, Switzerland, hosting about 250 people. After that I wrote a ten-page report with ideas on how to avoid certain mistakes, what could be improved, new ideas etc. I sent it out to the then president of the Swiss association and to the next organizers… never heard back from them.

As an example I’ll mention one small idea: Every convention has some kind of badge, most hanging from a cord around your neck, with a plastic envelope containing a printed cardboard in the format of a large playing card. The smarter ones place the schedule on it, and this works very well for a two- or three-day convention.

Question: What is the most important thing on the badge?

Answer: Your name!

Problem: You can bet your life on it (don’t!), that the name is only printed on one side of the badge, which means that 50% of the time it won’t show up. And when you see someone you know, but haven’t seen in many years and don’t remember the name, thanks to Murphy’s Law, his or her name won’t show.

Solution: Print the name on both sides on top of the badge, like a banner, and there will be plenty of space below to print the schedule… Also, print the name in a BIG type, with the first name above the family name, because most are on first name basis with each other, and print the first name even a bit larger.

This is just one of the many very simple things that cost nothing more and can be immediately implemented.

This reminds me of Bertrand Russell (1872 – 1970), who once said; “All people can think. Some can think well. But only few think something through from beginning to end.”

This is, BTW, one of my favorite replies when after a show someone comes up and says something to the effect, “I know how you did it – you switched the bills, I didn’t see it, but that’s how it must work.” That’s when I quote Russell, followed by, “You see, even if I switched the bill, how does your bill from my pocket get into the lemon? And if it is another bill, how does your signature get on it? I believe even Professor Russell wouldn’t have been able to explain that, but I’m almost sure he would have agreed with Socrates, who said, ‘I know that I know nothing’! So, the best thing is to simply enjoy the magic.”

You may use this, if you like 🙂

Back to Magialdia: One of the highlights – and there are many (!) – is the final show on Sunday night that takes place on the beautiful plaza in the center of the old town – this is something you only get in the Old World: They put up a huge stage, similar to those used in large concerts, and then ca. 800 people or more, depending on the weather, gather on the plaza to enjoy the ca. 70-minute show.

Another idea that is debatable from an artistic point of view, but sells the convention to the sponsors, is to go to eight shops in the commercial center of the city and have them empty one of their front windows, which is then replaced by a small performing area where a magic performer will show his or her act. In the past there have been luminaries such as Otto Wessely, Sylvester the Jester, Armando Lucero and others.

One year, can’t remember which one, they even made this into a competition and asked me to be in the jury along with Bepa Fernandez, a well-known Spanish journalist and producer, Joanie Spina (1953 – 2014) of Copperfield choreography fame, and José Ángel, the boss himself. There were eight international acts, and the winner was Armando Lucero who received an award that included a prize money of 10’000 EURO. Now, that’s not so shabby, as most of us perform for half as much 🙂

In the photo below we are sitting in front of such a window with an enthusiastic audience around us.

Jury: Pepa Fernandez, Joanie Spina, Roberto Giobbi, José Ángel Suarez

To me personally, however, the highlights are the meetings with old and new friends, and these inevitably end up around a civilized table.

In Vitoria there are places that offer a 4-course gourmet meal for € 25, that’s less than $ 30, wine, water, coffee, tax & tip INCLUDED. This is just something else than having a Hamburger with Coke and industrial ice cream, for the same or more money, in a noisy, cheap eating place, where the waiter brings the check to the table before you’ve even finished your coffee. We from the Old World will never get used to that when we go to the New World 🙂

Below is a photo taken at a lunch, with Marco Aimone on my left, President of the magic club of Torino, Italy, the largest independent club in Italy with over 300 members. To my left are Lincoln Hiatt and Andrew Golder, producers of “Fool Us”, who come each year to Magialdia to scout and audition for talent (that’s the reason they put forth, in reality they come to eat the suckling pig from “El Portalon*, one of the best in Spain, and drink the wines from Remirez de Ganuza, one of the top Rioja winemakers), and then there is Paul Wilson, who is working on a documentary on Juan Tamariz (again a pretext…). We certainly had a blast.

Marco, Lincoln, Andrew, Paul at “El Portalon”

Yet another impression with organizer José Ángel, co-organizers Marta and her husband Victor, analyzing what was good and what could be improved. All these lunches and dinners are of course strictly business, and no fun at all…

In the center of the table see a bottle of “Predicador” from another of the most famous Rioja winemakers, Benjamin Romeo; his top wine, the “Contador”, consistently gets 100 points from Parker. I’m very lucky that Benjamin is an amateur magician, who is a fan of my books… once again a case of Schopenhauers dictum, “My philosophy never earned me anything, but it saved me a lot…”; these philosophers are just very smart…

Paul, Roberto, José Ángel, Marta, Victor

Vintage Chart

Speaking of wines: I just received the latest vintage table from one of my wine shops. Even a novice will understand that this lists the wines according to their origin and year (vintage), and then classifies them from fair to exceptional and tells you whether to keep or drink them.

Vintage Table

It occurred to me that someone might want to adapt this to magic: On one axis you could list the classics (the “tricks”), such as “Ambitious Card”, “Cards Across”, “Coins Through Table”, etc., on the other axis list various performers, and then rate their interpretation of the respective “trick”.

I believe this has never been done before – maybe someone has the courage to make this up. If you do, send it along, and I’ll publish it with your photo in an upcoming Magic Memories.

Yet another idea could be to create a similar “chart or table” with your repertoire, and then have the audience choose which item they want to see in view of the “classification” made by the “International Academy of Performing Conjurors” (make up your own association…). Why not?

Wish everyone an excellent week!

All the best,

Roberto Giobbi

1 thought on “The Magic Memories (93)

  1. Thank You for reminding me of Denis Behr’s “Archives”…I clicked the link and found myself looking at book titles for 30 minutes! I did not see any Washington State wines on the vintage table!

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