Algonquin McDuff from Vancouver, U.S., writes — I recall some time ago an article by Albert Graham on the problems of the close-up worker.
Do you think anything has been done since then to improve matters? Isn't it about time you reiterated the sentiments expressed? I could add a few other problems — close-up in huge rooms is not on! Either the audience is too big and can't see, or it's too small and the entire production is dwarfed. Organisers should work from a pool of magicians — and simply suggest to the audience that they will see a selection of 6 workers from say 15. That way no-one is disappointed. The teams would work 5 or 6 handed.
I'm prompted to write because I do enjoy your magazine, perhaps fewer card tricks would be better.
Mr McDuff also enclosed a cutting from The linking Ring. It was an article from the pen of that interesting writer, one Rick Johnsson, castigating the organisers for their treatment of close-up workers at their functions. Briefly, he mentions occasions when he was pressed into doing ten twenty-minute consecutive shows, no-one to introduce the performer, being interrupted with the request to move on to the next table when approaching the climactic point in a routine, no proper tables provided, etc.
The solution to these problems lies mainly with the performers themselves, particularly those whose services are in demand who have the muscle. It is they who will be listened to with respect if they play merry hell and refuse to appear again unless steps are taken to provide all possible facilities for the close-up performers. Even better, write to the organisers — who no doubt are doing their best having regard to then-experience in matters of organisation and suggest possible improvements which could be implemented, also what about congratulating those who do make it a pleasure to appear at their functions.
There is >f course, no satisfactory solution at large conventions when there is only one large room available, although it might be an idea to have the close-up late at night on the last day of the convention, commencing about 11.00pm or midnight. This would considerably reduce the numbers as many only attend the close-up sessions because nothing else is happening at the time. If you think the idea a crazy one — who are the people wending their way back to their respective hotels in the early hours of the morning — and who were those in days of yore who congregated in someone's hotel bedroom for highly secret sessions long after the other registrants were safely tucked in bed? You know the answer.
Friend McDuff must be a relatively new subscriber as he seems to be unaware that his idea of working from a pool of performers has already been explained in this column and is used every year when I organise the Pabular evening at The Magic Circle. This gives me the opportunity to express my thanks to Anthony Brahams, Stephan Blood, Kevin Davie, Johnny Johnson, Brian King, Jim Jones, Ian Kealile Elliott, Mike O'Brien, David Walker, and Phil Wye. These ten performers entertained at four tables for approximately one hour. The session started with a performer at each table and as each performer finished his place was taken by one from the pool. At no time was a table vacant for more than a moment, no performer was under pressure either to finish or start at a table and no whistle was blown. I only have someone's word for this — having left the scene for a quick one. It is also possible to overorganise.
Juan Tamariz sends details of an annual event which will be over by such time this issue reaches you. The registrants are limited to around thirty and they really get down to business. The following is an extract from his letter.
Next 30th-31st October and 1st November well have the Jornadas de Cartomagia de El Escorial. Roberto Giobbi (Switzerland), Christian (Austria), Reinhard Muller, Dieter Ebel, Ritter (Germany), Dick Kornwinder and Eric Eswin (Holland), and other cardmen; are coming... (plus Ascanio, Camilo, Cachadina, Varela, Trueba, Jose Laraz and many others from Spain)...
The topics to discuss are: 1) Forcing (one of the stronger weapons in card magic...) 2) Outs In Card Magic (!) 3) Travelling Cards 4) Coins And Cards... Each year the level of the workshops and discussions are growing, and in Spain there sCre, now, a very young generation of cardmen with a real background of solid basic knowledge. I hope they can give a new and interesting approach to card magic..;
KRIX A1 Smith
Throughout the many and varied writings of Jon Racherbaumer, constant reference is made to Robert Walker and his "Crux" manuscript — a treatise, as yet unpublished, larger than the encyclopaedic "Greater Magic". This gargantuan work is seemingly devoted entirely to the trick about to be described here. The theme being, basically, that of the Dai Vernon-classic "Twisting the Aces "/although I am led to believe that, as with most of the contemporary versions of the effect, the aces have been cast aside in favour of the A-2-3-4 of one particular suit. This, as will be seen from what follows, makes the routine easier for the audience to follow. Whatever.
I mention Walker and "Crux" simply because in an effort of the size Racherbaumer reports what follows here must have been included somewhere along the way. However, not having access to "Crux", and not having seen the following method anywhere, I hesitate not to include it here.
An almighty illogicality rears its head in one sequence, but this occurs so far into the trick, no-one will notice it — despite the glaring nature of its presence. However, the major advantage is that all the counts in this version are Elmsley Counts. Too often in previous handlings, the action has been slowed down by the performer having to stop and think whether he should be doing an Elmsley, Flexible, Siva, Jordan, Normal, Abnormal, or Whatever Count. Phew! So much for a fairly extensive preamble: Here we go:
Run through the deck and remove the A-2-3-4 clubs. At the same time, get 4H tq top. Via any of the addition moves currentlyHn favour, arrive at the following position: A-2-3-4 (face up) 4H (face down) — back to back with the 4C. All in dealing position in left hand. Reverse count the four(?) cards into right hand, so the position becomes: 4C-4H-3-2-AC. Clubs are face up, 4H face down. Transfer the cards back to left hand dealing grip. Now:
With right hand, slide out lowermost card
— 4C — and whilst exhibiting this card, calmly turn the left hand palm-down, thus surreptitiously turning the packet of cards completely over. Place the 4C onto the (apparently) face down packet. Actually, a check at this moment would reveal the 4H face down and the three remaining clubs face up. Your patter at this stage should be something to the effect that the 4C is a difficult card to handle, or some such trivia. Flip the 4C face down, and prepare for an Elmsley Count.
Seemingly the whole packet is face down, so now perform the E.C. to show the AC has reversed itself. This should be a normal E.C. but with five cards instead of four — last card going to bottom of packet. As stated, three backs, and the face up AC.
— last card to top — to show four backs — the packet is apparently as it should be: all cards face down. Normal E.C. again — last card to bottom — to reveal 2C face up.
Flip 2C face down, E.C. — last card to top — four backs are seen once again. Another E.C. will reveal the 3C to have reversed itself — last card to bottom this time.
Now, after your preliminary comments, the whole point of the exercise is, of course, to show that, although the A-2-3C are fairly obedient, the 4C is not.
Flip the 3C face down, and E.C. — last card to top to show all backs. Now: Do a normal reverse deal/count of three cards from left hand to right. Casually flash these cards — A-2-3C and make any excuses you can think of for the misbehaviour of the 4C. Place these three cards below the card(s) remaining in the left hand.
Flip the top card (now 4C) face up and continue with appropriate pattern, during which time, double lift the 4C and 4H — back to back — taking the cards with the right hand. At the same time, flip the three cards remaining in the left hand face up and add them, still face up, below the 4C.
You are now in the same position just prior to the earlier crafty turnover and are all set for a repeat of the sequence already detailed — however, tackle it slightly differently: so:
Simply pause momentarily and then flip the 4C face down atop the (face down also) 4H. The fact that a back is seen and not a face, as, in fact should be seen if there were no shenanigans, passes unnoticed. This, incidentally, is not the discrepancy I mentioned earlier. Standby for that. O.K.
With cards apparently face down, E.C. again — last card to top — three backs and a face up AC are seen. Say something like, "Here comes the ace again." E.C. once more — last card to top — and this time two backs and the face up AC and 2C are seen. Comment:. "And closely following is the two." Now:
Prime the spectators by saying, "And after the two (don't mention the ace) comes the three." This, of course, is true, anytime — three does follow two, and the spectators will expect and will be looking for the three. And they will see it.
The next E.C. — last card to bottom — produces the anticipated three. Everybody is looking for it — they see it — and they're happy. What they will not see (but should) is the ace. This is the descrepancy, the illogicality. BUT: because of what has gone before, and the way you follow up, no-one misses the ace. It's the three, they're after, and they get it.
So: Position now is 3-2-AC face up: 4H-4C face down. Normal reverse count to show A-2-3 face up. One card — apparently the 4C — remains in the left hand.
Square A-2-3 in right hand and add to back of 4C (actually 4H), but injogged slightly. As you square the packet push the 4H (only) forward, and as the A-2-3C run completely flush with the 4C, remove the 4H completely and drop it onto the table. Amidst further chat about the awkwardness of the 4C, drop the A-2-3C face up atop the deck. This conveniently gets rid of the hidden 4C, which lands face down atop the face down deck. Now: To conclude:
Show the reason for the obstinacy of the 4C: It's the 4HH IX ^
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