Stewart James

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Joe Mckay
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Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » May 16th, 2016, 11:46 am

Just wanted to continue the discussion of Stewart James (from the Karl Fulves thread) over here.

I have studied the Stewart James books dozens of times. And have a lot of affection for them.

But I am not sure how strong the tricks are in terms of performing for laypeople. This was not a goal of Stewart James and even though Stewart James did perform professionally from time to time - his repertoire did not include effects that he created. This is taken from the chapter in The James File that discusses his professional career.

Anyway - I thought it would be fun to share my notes (which I wrote up a few years ago) from the books over here. So hopefully they will of interest to a couple of you.

STEWART JAMES IN PRINT – THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS

JOGESTJA MAGAZINE TEST – Page 64 – An incredibly strong magazine test. This is powerful stuff. It is impossibly clean – looks like the real thing…

MIRASKILL – Page 102 – See this trick below for a version by John Bannon which is my favourite:

http://www.johnbannonmagic.com/images/Bannon_View_To_A_Skill_ebook.pdf

A CHINAMAN’S CHANCE – Page 117 – A cute way to find a mentally selected card which is based around a swindle…

PAGING A SNAPPY NUMBER – Page 185 – This is a magazine test based around a diabolical mathematical principle that I have never seen used before or since…

QUARTER DECK QUANDARY – Page 204 – Interesting to see Stewart make use of GRAY CODES here. Esoteric stuff. If you become interested in this sort of thing then check out Leo Boudreau’s revolutionary work in this area…

HANDS OFF – Page 242 – A clever mathematical effect with a nice twist at the end…

ECHOING VISION – Page 270 – This is a fun card divination which looks impossible. It also uses an unusual principle which I have never seen before…

VANISHING PROOF – Page 299 – This is a great effect. It is an adaptation (and improvement) of a strange principle discovered by Charles Jordan. It allows for a totally ‘hands off’ card vanish. NOTE: See TRANSCENDENTAL BAR BET by Paul Harris for the best use of this principle…

REMEMBERING THE FUTURE – Page 341 – A classic. I rate it up there with MIRASKILL. It is a beautiful and elegant principle which will fool you when you play with it…

BIBLICAL PROPHECY – Page 362 – You will be astonished at how Stewart discovered this book test. The method is just incredible…

THE NEW LOOK – Page 404 – An interesting double-colour change with a strange method. It is a strong effect, and is the sort of weird effect that Gaetan Bloom might invent…

AN ESSAY – Page 409 – See this essay for a fascinating insight into the workings of Stewart’s creative mind…

JAMESWAY DICE TEST – Page 491 – This is a great effect which I first saw in MATHEMATICS, MAGIC AND MYSTERY. I still remember being delighted with the sneaky idea used at the end of the effect…

NEW DEPARTURE ROPE MYSTERY – Page 555 – The method for this rope trick is great fun. The boldness always makes me smile…

WORDITTO – Page 569 – This is a brilliant magazine test and amazingly the method makes use of the MIRASKILL principle. This is my favourite use for this principle…

MATCHIMERA – Page 614 – A card matching effect done from a shuffled deck. I can’t imagine a more ingenious method than this one…

ATLANTIC AVENUE – Page 664 – This is an excellent variation on a lovely Mel Stover principle. Two further variations are featured in THE JAMES FILE. These are some of the strongest tricks in these books…

THE OPEN PREDICTION NO. 8 – Page 678 – David Britland says that this version counts as a solution to the FIFTY ONE FACES NORTH problem. See his analysis here:

http://cardopolis.blogspot.co.uk/2008/06/fifty-one-faces-north-stewart-james-is.html

Other versions I like are one that Steve Beam published in SEMI AUTOMATIC CARD TRICKS VOL. 1 and a cheat version which Paul Gordon published in CARBON FOOTPRINTS which makes sneaky use of a stooge. You can find that trick here:

http://www.mallofmagic.com/free%20stuff/BTROMF.pdf

MATHEMATRICKER – Page 696 – Another clever mathematical effect with a cute twist at the end…

PERSON TO PERSON – Page 763 – This is a great telephone effect. The method is diabolical and you will be sure to fool anyone with it. See page 1870 for a variation by Max Maven…

CAM-O-NEYRD – Page 878 – This trick contains a nice subtlety for use with a double-sided coin which I have never seen before…

SNEAKY WILL – Page 942 – This is a real favourite. It is a brilliant re-working of a classic puzzle. It will actually fool you the first few times you use it…

KORADOR – Page 946 – This is a clean card location which reminds me of the principle used in the UNDO INFLUENCE by Simon Aronson (which itself was based on an Alex Elmsley principle which was based on a Jack Avis effect).

LETTERS FOR A STRANGER – Page 952 – I first came across this principle in a variation called VOODOO CLUE by Karl Fulves. It is a brilliant principle which will astonish you when you use it. It is up there with the other classic principles discovered by Stewart…

RETURN FOR SATAN – Page 959 – This is a lovely transposition which reminds me of BORDER CROSSING by Roy Walton…

MY UNCLE’S ANTE – Page 984 – The date on a borrowed coin reveals the location of a selected card. Brilliant method…

JUST FOUR FUN – Page 985 – This effect uses an amazing mathematical principle. It is very little known and it delighted me for a whole day when I first used it. The perfect trick to end this amazing book with…

THE JAMES FILE – BOOK ONE

LII-KELIHOOD – Page 1018 – This is a real fooler with an ingenious twist at the end. A good one to pull on magicians…

PACKAGE DEAL – Page 1089 – A fascinating thing here. Stewart re-discovers THE GILBREATH PRINCIPLE and then applies it in a unique way…

A USA TRIAL – Page 1105 – This seems related to Alex Elmsley’s 16th CARD PRINCIPLE…

THE ROBOT DECK – Page 1137 – In Stewart’s words: ‘It is a stack within a stack within a stack within a stack within a stack within a stack within a stack plus a stack.’
And in the words of Gordon Bean: ‘There’s something thrilling about looking at the apparently innocuous face of the deck in its Robotic form and realizing how much work is contained therein. Performing the routine seems like unfolding a house out of a suitcase.’

FOURTH INCARNATION – Page 1173 – This is a trick well worth making up. It will easily fool other magicians. Steve Beam had some variations on this in one of the SEMI AUTOMATIC CARD TRICKS books…

OBJECTIVE X – Page 1291 – This is a brilliant two-person test and is based on a wonderful principle which has been buried in print…

NO-CAL TELEMATHY – Page 1293 – This is another excellent use of the principle mentioned above. This is one of my favourite effects by Stewart James…

TROST-WORTHY – Page 1297 – A good variation of a strong Nick Trost effect. It uses an ingenious principle and is one of the more ‘commercial’ tricks in this book…

CODEAL – Page 1575 – This is a great version of THE OPEN PREDICTION. It has a clever twist at the end which makes it more fun to do than most other versions…

THE JAMES FILE - BOOK TWO

WHIM-BORROW – Page 1782 – This is a lovely trick. It is unlike most of the tricks that Stewart invented. To be honest it feels like the sort of trick that Roy Walton might invent. It also doubles up as my favourite use of the Progressive Speller principle…

PUSHING THE ENVELOPE – Page 1845 – This is a great prediction effect which is incredibly sneaky. Gordon Bean correctly mentions it as being one of the best tricks in the book…

MYRIADSKILL – Page 1904 – This is an essay by Bob Farmer about the MIRASKILL principle. It is very interesting and includes a simple tip which will strengthen your performances of this trick ten-fold. By the way – Karl Fulves has stretched the MIRASKILL principle so much that he managed to uncover another principle lurking inside. Check out THE SURVIVOR PRINCIPLE which was published in his hard-to-find magazine DISCOVERIE. Check out Issue 6…

BOCCA DELLA VERITA – Page 2410 – This is an amazing principle. It seems to my brain to be a kind of ‘inversion’ of The Gilbreath Principle. It is incredible that Stewart managed to discover this all the way back in 1928…

TWO-PART HARMONY – Page 2421 – This is a variation by Stewart of one of my favourite Bob Hummer tricks. It is one of Hummer’s best effects and contains a devious principle which is rarely used…

------------------------------

In the list above - I seem to have focused on card tricks. Which is a shame since Stewart James's Sefalaljia Spirit Cabinet routine is probably the best thing in the books. The cool thing is that Stewart invented two different routines. And scattered through the books are some interesting variations of the Sefalaljiajia principle (as in the rope effect) itself.

Recently I went through the book again - focusing on non-card effects. And I found some very interesting items which I hadn't noticed before. But I don't have those notes to hand just now.

Also - there is an interesting online exhibition to the life and work of Stewart James which can be found over here:

http://stewartjames.magicana.com/index.html

Roger M.
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Re: Stewart James

Postby Roger M. » May 16th, 2016, 12:47 pm

Joe, that's a great list that will cause me to revisit some of the items you noted.
You obviously have respect for James, my apologies for implying otherwise in the other thread :oops:

I almost hesitate to say these two words because I use them myself (and no other card magician within 250 miles or more does or has in my 40 years of card magic) .... but "Pokericulum" and "Deckograph".

Pokericulum is, without a doubt (in my mind) the strongest poker deal available. The fact that each and every spectator can be invited to trade hands with the dealer, and further trade cards to better their hand is something that doesn't play lightly ... but rather borders on the utterly impossible.
It's only when you deal all the hands out, note the mechanism that allows you as the dealer to always win, and then sit back and smile that you realize just how Stewart made a highly commercial and highly entertaining poker dealing effect.
If you happen to be somewhat up on poker in general, and can flesh out some interesting factoids and stories about the game ... all the better.

Then:
You'll likely never find a Deckograph deck already made up, and they're a bit difficult to make such that they're flawless, but oh my!!, once you have the deck done up, and even though it's a relatively short effect in performance ... the looks on peoples faces when you display the "printed" slip of paper (previously blank) of their freely selected card is fantastic!

(Pro-Tip, Making a perfect Deckograph deck is best done with Todd Lassens card gaffing genii, read James description and the "why" will be apparent).

Over the last 8 or so years that I've had all three of the big James books, I repeatedly visit them to search out card effects that literally no card worker within 500 miles of me has done in the last 50 years ... if ever.

Love Stewart James, and considering what he overcame in his life, he remains my favorite creator of card magic ever.
That he remains so underground in general terms is OK to me now that SJ is gone, but I do wish he had seen more recognition overall while he was still alive.

It's great that Max, David Ben, Michael Close, Howard Lyons, Alan Slaight, Stephen Minch and other well known names paid Stewart such high regard in his later years. I've always thought it was extremely classy that they made an effort to let James know what he meant to them.

And don't even get me going on Ten Nights In A Card Room!

Joe Mckay
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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » May 16th, 2016, 2:10 pm

Here is a little tidbit that was overlooked in the compilation of the Stewart James books.

On page 2027 of THE JAMES FILE - mention is made of an ace effect that Stewart James performed at a magic lecture. The trick he did can be found in the reference given (Tarbell Vol. 5).

At the end of the description it says - [i]"...Stewart then forced this packet, although the exact process he used is not known."/i]

This is from the ON TO TORONTO chapter in which a lecture is reconstructed from notes - in which Stewart James taught a number of different card tricks (not created by him) - and showed how they could be put together as a routine such that one trick sets up the next trick. And so on...

Well - if you follow the reference given for the ace effect in Tarbell Vol.5 (pp 115-117) - you will find the actual details of the sneaky ace packet force that Stewart James used.

Here are the details:

NOTE: Stewart James has a clever way of forcing the Ace pile.

He first shuffles each card pile a bit…. “Will someone please name one of the Aces… Any Ace?”...

Let us say someone says “Ace of Clubs.” He picks up the first packet, spreads the cards with the faces away from the audience, squares the cards and replaces them on the table…. “Ace of Diamonds.”...

This is repeated with the second pile… “Ace of Hearts.”...

The third pile containing the Aces is picked up and spread. He removes the Ace of Clubs, shows it and replaces it on the face of the packet.

“Here’s the Ace of Clubs. We’ll use the Ace of Clubs pile, the one you selected.”...

Regardless of what Ace a spectator chooses, it comes from the same pile.

Joe Mckay
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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » January 1st, 2017, 10:37 am

Dustin recently linked to this thread (cheers, Dustin!).

As such - I thought it would be useful if I share my latest notes from these books.

I posted my earlier notes (from a few years ago) at the top of the thread and they were made when my focus was on card magic. Although I did include some non-card effects. A few months ago I went over these books again focusing on non-card effects...

STEWART JAMES IN PRINT - THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS

NOT EXPECTED - Page 49 - Stewart James adapts a clever topological principle (and one of his favourite tricks in magic) to tie a knot in a leather shoe lace nailed into a foot long piece of wood.

SEFALALJIA - Page 189 - Probably Stewart's most famous routine and probably his best as well. This is the miniature spirit cabinet routine that originally appeared in The Jinx. But throughout the magic literature - Sefalaljia usually refers to the clever rope/ribbon/string principle which makes its debut in this routine.

HO-LA-MA - Page 362 - This is a lovely handling of the Sefalaljia principle. The handling is straight forward and the use of a Chinese coin (which has a hole in it) adds an extra punch to the effect.

FIRST CLASS PASSAGE - Page 386 - Two rings are examined and tied to a a ribbon by the spectator. A third ring is displayed and under cover of a handkerchief - is magically placed in the middle of the two rings. After the trick is over - this middle ring can also be examined. A split ring is used in this effect but is cleverly switched for an ordinary one as it is (apparently) placed in the middle. This is a strong trick which makes use of a clever (but simple) topological idea and a split ring. The two ideas support each other well since it gives the impression that everything was examined before and after the trick.

GO GO VANISHER - Page 388 - A gimmicked handkerchief is used to make small objects instantly vanish with the flick of a wrist. This is one of the ideas that could probably be marketed today as a standalone trick. It is just a shame handkerchiefs are no longer that common since if they were this would still be a very popular effect.

CHINESE GOLF - Page 548 - Another one of my favourites from these books. A marked golf ball buried in an inch of rice transposes from one tumbler to another. This is Stewart at his best. Watching the different principles interlock in this effect is fun. I have not made up the trick yet so can only go off the diagrams which lay out how the method unfolds with each step.

SNARETAINER - Page 585 - A borrowed bill and ring are wrapped in a paper napkin and placed in a tumbler with a silk handkerchief and a rubber band. They vanish from there and reappear in a second tumbler. This trick was later varied by Peter Warlock and makes nice use of a Demon Glass.

POLYCHROMOSPHERE - Page 692 - A marked ball of tissue paper, of a freely selected colour, disappears from the performer's hand and materialised in a tumbler held by a spectator. The method reminds me of the way the method unfolds step by step in a trick like Chinese Golf. It looks like a good effect. But as so often when reading these books - some of the props used are not ones I have immediately to hand (tumblers, bottomless glasses, Demon Glasses and so on). So I guess with a set of books like these - you really need to decide upon the trick you are most in love with before going on an online search for the materials needed.

SILVERSION - Page 710 - A coin penetrates through a cellophane cover that seals a bottle filled with water. I really like this effect. It has the feel of a Lubor Fiedler trick that you might find in his lecture notes back in the 1970's. And that is the highest praise that I have when it comes to magic.

DOUBLE-RING CEREMONY - Page 718 - This is another approach to the Sefalaljia principle. It does away with some of the procedure traditionally used in this effect to achieve an unusual finish in which the rope is through one ring once and the second one twice. I overlooked this trick until now - not realising it is another example of Stewart James experimenting with this lovely principle.

THE GOFAR BALL - Page 722 - This is a trick that Winston Freer told Stewart he was a fan of. It is another of those effects where the diagrams are delightful. You can follow the method step by step like watching a cat corner a mouse. A ball disappears from a tube and travels invisibly to an inverted tumbler which is partially concealed by a second tube. This trick makes secret use of invisible thread and reminds me a little of the work of Gaetan Bloom. This is definitely one of the tricks I want to make up and play around with. This trick reminds me of the thinking behind Chinese Golf. Different effect and different method. But the same lateral approach which zigs and zags its way to the magical finale.

KEYRECT - Page 791 - A practical approach to the key and padlock effect. My favourite approach to this plot is by Barrie Richardson. But this version is a good one and about as straightforward as you can get.

STRINGARINGADO - Page 796 - Here Stewart James combines his Sefalaljia principle with the price-tag loop principle. The trick uses cardboard discs and a sneaky switch takes place during the trick. The result is that a cardboard disc looped on the string transposes with a ring which is not on the string. At the end of the effect Stewart says the same approach can be taken to switch out a gaffed Brema Nut.

PROBLEMS IN PROPHECY - SOLUTIONS - Page 895 - At the end of this effect, the Lamarque principle is reprinted from The Hugard's Magic Monthly. It allows for a very clean prediction effect and the principle itself is quite unusual.

THE JAMES FILE - BOOK ONE

THE SEFALALJIA TWINS - Page 1659 - This is a nice variation on the Sefalaljia principle by Tom Daugherty. It is a straightforward idea - a ring is transposed on to the string to meet up with another ring (its "twin) already trapped in the middle of the ring by a safety pin.

THE JAMES FILE - BOOK TWO

BLUES IN THE BIGHT - Page 1978 - A red and a white cardboard ring on a piece of rope transpose to the other side of a blue cardboard ring that is trapped by a knot. This a clever combination of principles that is very similar to another trick by Stewart called First Class Passage.

BETWIXT - Page 1984 - This is similar to the trick above but this time it takes place inside a miniature cabinet.

SECOND CLASS PASSAGE - Page 1987 - We are tackling the same area with this effect as well. This time the trick takes place as she holds the string over her shoulders and behind her back. As opposed to making use of a miniature cabinet.

SIMIAN SIMILE - Page 1988 - This is a three phase routine making use of the Brema Nut. Howard Lyons called it the finest routine with a Brema Nut he had run into. There is a lot going on in this trick which takes place as the spectator holds the string over her shoulders and behind her back. The second phase makes use of a clever rope trick by Charles Jordan called Jordan's Mystifying Knot Trick. This is definitely a trick I am going to spend time going over with the props in hand. I am always on the look out for clever routines that make use of overlooked magic props.

RING LEADER - Page 2154 - Two rings are passed on to a wand and the selected one magially penetrates the wand under cover of a handkerchief. This trick has a sneaky secret reminiscent of something Gaetan Bloom might come up with in his experiments with threads.

THREE-RING CIRCUIT - Page 2156 -This is a lovely topological principle. It is actually the Borromean rings principle in disguise. My favourite uses for this principle can be found in IBIDEM and The Pallbearer's Review. Both references are given at the start of the trick.

KNOT OF ENCHANTMENT - Page 2165 - This is the impossible knot in rope secret that inspired Stewart James's love of magic. It involves a clever topological secret that is hard to follow. It will actually fool you as you do it. More recently - my favourite use for this principle is a ring on rope effect that Devin Knight released. Although the same idea can be found as The Jacoby Tie in the Art of Magic. This is an important trick in the history of magic since it inspired Stewart James's love of principles. Stewart felt that the discovery of a new principle in magic was the highest level of creativity an inventor could achieve.

SILAS DEEMER AND HIS INCREDIBLE INTENE ENERGIZER - Page 2285 - This is the updated Sefalaljia miniature cabinet routine that Stewart James released in 1982. It is very different to the one he published in The Jinx back in the 1939. My favourite phase is the final one called Present Under Glass. The thinking is diabolical.

BALLDOWN - Page 2437 - A small metal ball is dropped through a tube. It penetrates a large wooden ball inside the tube that is resting on top of a pencil. This is great. It feels like a long lost Tenyo effect.

------------------------

There is a ton of great non-card magic in these books. Sadly - a lot of the tricks use items you will not have to hand. So it will take more of an investment to bring these tricks to life compared to most modern magic books.

I will end this overview by linking to an outlandish version of 'Match For Gravity' - Stewart James's first published trick in magic.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZnKIPfIhAQ

Joe Mckay
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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » January 15th, 2017, 12:07 pm

Some more housekeeping...

Stewart James's poker deals (he had a bunch of them) were mentioned earlier in the thread. Well - this is the one area of Stewart's work I have never really sat down and studied in depth. I just never got round to doing it. That said - I remember reading in some lecture notes by David Solomon that he had some interesting work on one of Stewart James's poker deals.

And I should add that Stewart James has a very unusual take on The Ten Card Deal which makes use of alphabet cards called ALPHA BETTING which can be found on page 705 of STEWART JAMES IN PRINT - THE FIRST FIFTY YEARS.

Also - I was researching the Svengali deck one day when I found this post from Paul Hallas on a different forum:

http://www.themagiciansforum.com/post/unusual-use-of-a-svengali-deck-7910636

I used to do a great Stewart James routine where the deck was divided up. It involved a prediction and reading someone's mind but the construction of the routine was great.

Unfortunately I don't recall the name of the routine so tracking it down in "The James File" is nearly impossible (checking the index for Svengali didn't bear fruit but I know the routine is in there).

To get two cards in different halves involved a procedure very similar to the selection in Tamariz's "Neither Blind, Nor Stupid". A nice presentation angle too.

A few years ago - I was knee deep studying Stewart James's card work. And back then I am sure I would have worked out what trick Paul had in mind. As it was - I did my best to work out the trick and got in touch with Paul. But apparently my guesses were incorrect. So - I will probably report back here sometime if I figure out the trick Paul had in mind. Sadly - I cannot find the email which had my incorrect guesses.

Joe Mckay
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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » January 15th, 2017, 4:42 pm

One other thing - Jeff Busby had a pretty insane review where he tore the The James File to shreds. Even though he was a big fan of Stewart James. It makes for fun (if bizarre) reading.

If anyone wants to read a copy of it - just email me at joe_mckay@hotmail.com

Jeff Busby may have been a crook and a crank. But I always enjoyed his writings.

One other thing - Stewart James has a beautiful linking ring move called The Captive Ring. It can be found on page 21 of 'Stewart James in Print - The First Fifty Years'. I don't know much about the linking rings - so I am unsure how famous this move is. But is very sneaky.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 17th, 2017, 6:30 pm

Recent posts on this thread prompted me to go back and read the original and earlier posts which I'd somehow overlooked. I was very intrigued by this @ Joe McKay:

MIRASKILL – Page 102 – See this trick below for a version by John Bannon which is my favourite:
http://www.johnbannonmagic.com/images/B ... _ebook.pdf

The MIRASKILL principle is killer and guaranteed to fool virtually any layman, and, for that matter, magician who is unaware of it. This application by Bannon is brilliant. I would definitely do a false count of my cards after the first round/phase of the two-round "game" rather than announce my total and expect the spectator(s) to take my word for it. In the main restaurant where I work, I have too many regulars who have been watching me perform for years and who are very shrewd, skeptical and analytical.

The false count I decided to use (I'm sure I did not create it, but don't know who to credit) is very clean and deceptive. I have my packet of cards face down in right hand biddle grip. I thumb off the first card into my left hand (counting aloud, "one"), then thumb off the second card into my left hand flush on top of the first (counting "two"). The third card gets thumbed off on top of the first two (counting "three"), but a break is held beneath the third card. The fourth card is thumbed off onto the third (counting "four"). So now there is a break separating cards one and two from cards three and four. In the process of thumbing off the fifth card (and counting "five"), the fourth and third cards are stolen beneath the packet. (So, in actuality, the left hand is now holding only three cards, while they believe it is holding five). The remaining cards in the right hand are thumbed off one-by-one, counting as you go, with no trickery, until the cards are exhausted. This count will always end up making it look like you have two more cards than you actually do - which is precisely what you want in order to make the first written prediction come to fruition.

Of course, at the end of round two of the game, in a showing of the utmost "fairness," you can have the spectator count your cards and then his/hers, for they will always be the same, per Miraskill. Hence your second prediction (that there will be a tie) proves spot on.

Thank you Joe, for bringing this, and other fabulous items to our attention.

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Q. Kumber
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Re: Stewart James

Postby Q. Kumber » January 17th, 2017, 6:53 pm

It was back in 2010 when I first came across John Bannon's 'A View To a Skill'. Kostya Kimlat was staying with me at the time, and between Kostya, myself and with an input from John Bowden, we came up with three ideas, each of which adds a layer of deception to an already excellent routine. They are as yet unpublished.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby performer » January 17th, 2017, 7:20 pm

Well, if John Bowden was involved it must have been a masterpiece..................................

MagicbyAlfred
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Re: Stewart James

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 17th, 2017, 8:40 pm

Q. Kumber wrote:It was back in 2010 when I first came across John Bannon's 'A View To a Skill'. Kostya Kimlat was staying with me at the time, and between Kostya, myself and with an input from John Bowden, we came up with three ideas, each of which adds a layer of deception to an already excellent routine. They are as yet unpublished.


That's fascinating!

Did Kostya do Triumph for you?

I am excited to see the upcoming ideas re "A View to a Skill."

Joe Mckay
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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » January 21st, 2017, 10:37 pm

Here is another Stewart James tidbit for y'all...

Devin Knight has a clever trick available from Lybrary.com called Far Sight:

http://www.lybrary.com/far-sight-p-139291.html

Devin Knight is very creative and was a student of Al Mann (who was also wildly creative). So - it is always worth checking out his work.

Anyway - in the ebook (which describes a single trick) Devin Knight tips a sneaky principle which he says that Al Mann taught him. And Al Mann told him that it was a Stewart James idea. A big part of me hopes the idea belongs to Stewart James since it is delightful and very bold. But I didn't see any reference to it in the big Stewart James books.

So - it could be an unpublished Stewart James idea - that Stewart James (or a friend of Stewart James) showed to Al Mann?

Or it could be a case of Stewart James getting confused with Stewart Judah (another creator of clever self-working card tricks)?

This is a possibility since it has happened before. Check out 'Oil and Vinegar' in the 'The Complete Works of Derek Dingle' that Richard Kaufman published. In that trick - Kaufman (or Dingle?) mixes up Stewart James with Stewart Judah in the credits to the trick.

One way to eliminate that possibility would be to see whether or not Stewart Judah was ever linked to the idea that Devin Knight teaches in this ebook.

Joe Mckay
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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » January 23rd, 2017, 8:18 am

About 10-15 years ago, I spent a lot of time studying these books and I was fascinated by Stewart James obsession with discovering new principles. He said that his goal in magic was to discover a new principle that would be used long after he was gone. Rather than simply inventing a new trick.

This was a magician looking at the field of magic the way a physicist or a mathematician might. There was something really exciting about this idea of discovery. In many ways it is a self-indulgent way of approaching magic. Since you can end up getting more excited about some monstrosity which, while a new principle, would rarely be of any major interest to a layperson.

Over the years - I have seen some fascinating new principles discovered for use with the Down/Under principle. And I was enraptured by the thinking behind those effects. Even though they would be of little interest to a layperson.

Still - the future is a hard thing to predict. And it is worth remembering that their is a link between Miraskill (the most famous principle that Stewart discovered) and Out of This World (often voted the best card trick ever). I think Stephen Minch lays out this story in the Paul Curry book he produced. But you can see my retelling of the story below:

https://doubledeal.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/from-the-worlds-worst-card-trick-to-the-worlds-best/

I think every magician likes the idea of being shown a card trick by Stewart James that is buried in print and forgotten about. And discover that the trick uses some new principle which completely baffles you. This is something Michael Close used to play with when he was one of the first to read (and review) the galleys for The James File. He would approach magicians with an interest in the work of Stewart James and show them a trick he had just read in the new Stewart James books. He would ask for their help since he could not understand why the trick worked.

An odd number would be asked for between 5 and 25.

That many cards would be dealt to the table.

The packet of cards would be shuffled and the top card remembered.

The packet of cards would then be cut by the spectator.

And a Down/Under deal would be performed.

The spectator would then be asked to spell the value of the card they selected.

And at that card - their selection would be found.

"It is that cut you gave the cards that I don't understand. Any idea what is going on?"

He would then leave the magician scratching their head as they tried to figure out what strange new principle Stewart had uncovered...

Later on - Michael would show up and tell the magician, "I think I have worked this one out."

He would then show the deck of cards in his hands to consist of entirely the same card.

Michael said the dirty looks he would get for pulling this gag were hilarious.

Now - most people might see this as a funny magician fooler/gag. But I think there is something deeper to it than that.

No hidden mathematical principle will ever be as powerful as the effect you can produce by simply using a deck consisting of the same card.

So - if you can leverage a magician's genius and reputation - to sneak in the idea you are making use of a strange new principle in order to produce a minor miracle - it makes for an interesting situation. You are piggybacking on the back of a legendary magician's name in order to sell a trick which might otherwise be easily uncovered.

Imagine you met David Berglas? And he said he was not up for performing his legendary Berglas Effect since it had been a while since he performed it? So instead he would try something simpler.

He then has you freely pick a card and return it to the deck.

You then give the deck a couple of cuts.

David then asks you to name any number between 1-52.

You name - 32.

He then says to you - do you want the deck to be dealt face up or face down?

You say face down.

And then you deal to the 32nd card, and find your selected card.

You would probably be pretty impressed.

Yet again - the dumb secret is simply a deck consisting of 52 of the same card.

This idea of using somebody's reputation to figuratively cash a blank cheque reminds me of one of my favourite stories.

It involves Salvador Dali and his unique method of paying for restaurant bills.

https://youtu.be/GIpm_8v80hw?t=23m26s

As for Michael Close's brilliant (and dumb) gag. It made me a little depressed to think that a lifetime's worth of hard work and genius can, in some sense, be overshadowed by the use of a one-way deck.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Jack Shalom » January 23rd, 2017, 8:31 am

See Derren Brown's Extreme Mental Effort. Fooled the pants off a lot of people.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » January 23rd, 2017, 8:35 am

Yes - good call! Derren is one smart cookie.

Michael used to talk about Harry Riser along similar lines.

He would fool you with one card location after another.

And then - just as you were leaving - he would destroy you with a super impossible one that would keep you awake that night.

The secret?

A one-way deck.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Jonathan Townsend » January 23rd, 2017, 9:23 am

you might like the trick in Ponsin's book where the performer lays out cards in a circle and then spins a bottle to point to one card... which is cleanly turned over and shown - selected card. Also free choice. :)
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » January 23rd, 2017, 9:32 am

The best use for a Svengali deck is to do something like that.

Spread the cards face-up to show they are all different.

Have a card cut to (eg the 2C).

Have the deck dealt into two piles.

Force the pile with 26 identical cards.

Have the selected card found in that pile any way you want (spin a bottle, phone a stranger and ask for a number between 1 and 26, etc).

As the selection is shown around - you gather up the remaining 25 cards and switch them for the rest of the deck (25 different cards - with the 2C missing).

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Re: Stewart James

Postby MagicbyAlfred » January 23rd, 2017, 2:07 pm

"Yet again - the dumb secret is simply a deck consisting of 52 of the same card."

I believe it was Prince Machiavelli who said that the ends justify the means, or words to that effect. I have found time and again that the best way to entertain magicians is to fool them. Generally speaking, they don't care about funny lines or intriguing stories, but rather tricks that baffle the socks off them, especially ones for which they cannot come up with even a conceivable method.. Of course, "entertaining" them in this fashion it's a double-edged sword because if the secret is not tipped to them, they may wrestle with chronic insomnia for quite a time to come. But I sleep like a baby...

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Tom Stone » January 25th, 2017, 3:02 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:GO GO VANISHER - Page 388 - A gimmicked handkerchief is used to make small objects instantly vanish with the flick of a wrist. This is one of the ideas that could probably be marketed today as a standalone trick. It is just a shame handkerchiefs are no longer that common since if they were this would still be a very popular effect.

One of the suggested techniques does not work as described.
My fix can be found in the February 2017 issue of Genii.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » January 25th, 2017, 3:12 pm

Cheers, Tom! My issue should be here any day now. So I look forward to studying your fix.

Also - for those interested in Stewart James's Sefalaljia spirit cabinet routine - Tom Stone has published work in this area. Check out page 29 of his book 'Maelstrom'.

As has Gaetan Bloom - see 'Sefalaljian Smoker' on page 311 of the March 1991 issue of GENII magazine.

This trick is worth noting since it was not included in the recent large books compiling the magic of Gaetan Bloom that were published by The Miracle Factory.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » January 25th, 2017, 3:37 pm

Also - Tabby Crabb (known as Tabman online) was close to completing a book devoted to the Sefalaljia routine when he died.

You can read about it here:

http://questx.com/sefalaljia/book.html

I am not sure what the latest status on it is.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » March 12th, 2017, 4:39 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:Here is another Stewart James tidbit for y'all...

Devin Knight has a clever trick available from Lybrary.com called Far Sight:

http://www.lybrary.com/far-sight-p-139291.html

Devin Knight is very creative and was a student of Al Mann (who was also wildly creative). So - it is always worth checking out his work.

Anyway - in the ebook (which describes a single trick) Devin Knight tips a sneaky principle which he says that Al Mann taught him. And Al Mann told him that it was a Stewart James idea. A big part of me hopes the idea belongs to Stewart James since it is delightful and very bold. But I didn't see any reference to it in the big Stewart James books.

So - it could be an unpublished Stewart James idea - that Stewart James (or a friend of Stewart James) showed to Al Mann?

Or it could be a case of Stewart James getting confused with Stewart Judah (another creator of clever self-working card tricks)?

This is a possibility since it has happened before. Check out 'Oil and Vinegar' in the 'The Complete Works of Derek Dingle' that Richard Kaufman published. In that trick - Kaufman (or Dingle?) mixes up Stewart James with Stewart Judah in the credits to the trick.

One way to eliminate that possibility would be to see whether or not Stewart Judah was ever linked to the idea that Devin Knight teaches in this ebook.

Just found this principle used by Larry Becker in his Magic Castle Lecture Notes (1984). He doesn't reference anyone else in the trick - so my guess is that this sneaky idea belongs to Larry Becker.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Philippe Billot » March 13th, 2017, 3:17 am

Joe Mckay wrote:The best use for a Svengali deck is to do something like that.

Spread the cards face-up to show they are all different.

Have a card cut to (eg the 2C).

Have the deck dealt into two piles.

Force the pile with 26 identical cards.

Have the selected card found in that pile any way you want (spin a bottle, phone a stranger and ask for a number between 1 and 26, etc).

As the selection is shown around - you gather up the remaining 25 cards and switch them for the rest of the deck (25 different cards - with the 2C missing).


This idea was used by Stephen Simpson. See Criss-Cross in The Jinx no. 53, February 1939, page 378.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby performer » March 13th, 2017, 11:28 am

This two pile thing was invented by Al Baker and is as old as the hills. In fact I contacted Al Baker in the spirit world to ask him for permission to include it in my most worthy book on the svengali deck known as the Long and the Short of It. Mr Baker agreed with me that this is the greatest book ever written on the svengali deck and permitted me to quote him any time I wished. And I just did.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » March 29th, 2017, 5:20 pm

I have always being a big fan of Deddy Corbuzier's "Free Will" principle.

Anyway - I just found this scrap of information in Jack Kent Tillar's book, 'Solo', on page 31:

...currently called the "Free Will" principle by Deddy (although Dennis [Marks] told me the name of the actual originator, I can't for the life of me remember who it was, possibly Eddie Clever or Stewart James?)...

Sadly Dennis Marks is no longer alive - so I cannot ask him for further details. So for now - I will just record this detail here and then hopefully somebody can add to this in the future.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Ryan Matney » March 29th, 2017, 5:38 pm

Some grafter named Mark Lewis once said something like, "If you don't change the Svengali deck to all the same card and back again, you are missing the point."

I agree.
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Re: Stewart James

Postby webbmaster » April 19th, 2017, 3:42 pm

Great research by Joe McKay.

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » April 19th, 2017, 5:48 pm

Hey Gregg,

Are you online these days? Or do you still prefer communication via letter?

I will be in touch soon - by either method...

Take care!

Joe

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » April 30th, 2017, 6:26 pm

After the large Stewart James books came out - Allan Slaight felt it would be useful to have a condensed "best of" collection for those who did not want to work through 2500 pages of Stewart James material.

My understanding is that he asked a number of different magicians to each name their three favourite Stewart James effects. And that list of effects would be used to compile an essential collection of Stewart James material. The collection would also include essays covering Stewart James' life and creative process.

Here are some names of those asked to contribute choices to this collection. Along with the contents for this book:

Allan Slaight, co-editor of Stewart James In Print and author of The James File, asked dozens of Stewart James’ aficionados including Max Maven, Michael Weber, Bob Farmer, Stephen Minch, Bill Goodwin, Gordon Bean, David Ben, Roy Walton, Charles Reynolds, Gabe Fajuri, Steve Beam, and Peter Duffie among others, to whittle over 1,000 of James’ creations down to their fifty favourite, in other words, the essential Stewart James.

The Boy’s World
The Knot of Enchantment
A Match for Gravity
Murder by Suggestion
Spell of Mystery
Balldown
Freedom of the Size
Simplicity Four-Ace Trick
Miraskill
Face-Up Prediction
The Book of the Dead
Sefalaljia
Sefalaljia Jr
The Man in Aberystwyth
The Love-Sick Tennis Ball
Remembering the Future
Further Than That
Half and Half
The Robot Deck
Silkscreen
Vocalculate
The Prophet’s Choice
Go Go Vanisher
The Clincher
The Other Place
First Class Passage
Jamesway Poker Deal
Ten Nights in a Cardroom
Pokericulum
So-Fair Poker Deal
The Gobak Card Mystery
The Purlooined Letters
Pocket of Persistence
Essay by SJ
Ring Leader
Falling Card
MicawberBaker’s Dozen System
The Doozer
Matchimera
Lejun
The Gofar Ball
The Tenth Variation 1 3 4
My Father’s House
Card V
The AAG Principle
Split Second
Stranger From Two Worlds
Double Boomerang
Incantations
Oraclew
Dollars and (6th) Sense
Parenth-Thesis
The Secret Partner
TRY aNother FIELD
Ontene Prediction
The Dream Goes On
A Class by Itself
Anger with a “D”
Package Deal
While at the Talking Table

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Re: Stewart James

Postby Joe Mckay » May 6th, 2017, 10:38 pm

Let's talk a bit about Miraskill.

Firstly - I just read a nice trick by Roy Johnson in 'Pure Gold'. This trick combines The Trick That Fooled Einstein with Miraskill. The trick is done with copper and silver coins.

And I will share my favourite approach to this effect. My approach is based on the work of Bob Farmer, Stephen Hobbs, juan Tamariz, Allan Slaight and James Fulford (by way of David Williamson).

John Bannon has a lovely subetley for this trick (involving a miscount of the cards). And it would be great to make use of it, since it is a sneaky way of avoiding the issue of adding palmed cards to the deck for the second phase of the trick. However there is no need to since Bob Farmer has some great thinking that makes the adding of the palmed cards a piece of cake.

1) FIRST PHASE Have two red cards in your pocket. And place your first prediction on the table saying 'BLACK WINS BY TWO PAIRS'.

Hand the spectator the deck of (48) cards and ask him to shuffle them. Then ask him to "smoosh" the cards on the table to really mix them up.

This trick only makes use of 50 cards. So you can dump the other 2 red cards somewhere else since they won't be used in this trick.

This is a casino style wash:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3azy4Z9x8_4

With the cards still in this position - have the spectator turn the cards up at random - two at a time. I find that this really sells the randomness more than simply dealing off pairs of cards from a shuffled deck. Each pair is often made up of cards that are lying on opposite sides of the table. It couldn't seem any fairer.

[The above is a Bob Farmer idea]

Have the cards dealt into different piles - ie blacks, reds and mixed colours. However - in this case you will make four piles. The middle pile won't simply be a discard pile made up of red/black cards. But a pile made up of black/red cards and another pile next to it made up of red/black cards. You will see why later...

RED RED/BLACK BLACK/RED BLACK

Also - make the middle two piles close together. So that it really looks like 3 piles - with the middle (mixed colour) pile separated out into two smaller piles. You want to give the impression you are just being overly neat by keeping the discard pile split into two piles - rather than dumping them all into the same pile.

2) SECOND PHASE Write out another prediction - this time saying 'BLACK WINS BY ONE PAIR'.

Have the spectator repeat the mixing procedure as above. As he does so - reach into your pocket and remove the two red cards in a palm. And then - as you talk to the spectator - just casually help him mix the cards a little and drop the two cards into the mess of cards on the table. This is the worlds easiest move. So don't sweat it. And it is another bonus feature of doing the mix the way Bob Farmer teaches it.

As before - you will have four piles at the end:

RED RED/BLACK BLACK/RED BLACK

3) FINAL PHASE Write out one last prediction - this time saying 'THERE WILL BE NO MATCHES!'

For the final phase - tell the spectator you will focus on the discards. As you say this - place the red and black piles off to one side.

Pick up one of the cards from the two discard piles and use it to scoop up that pile. Then have this pile dropped on top of the other discard pile. This simple displacement sets up the discard pile in perfect red/black/red/black/red/black order...

The above is an idea from James Fulford. He sent it to David Williamson (as an improvement to his Aunt Mary's Terrible Secret routine) who then shared it on The Magic Cafe.

You now have the spectator cut the discard pile anywhere he wants and give the two packets a riffle shuffle.

Before he squares the two packets - you will give them a ribbon spread to show how mixed the cards are. This is a display that Juan Tamariz has popularized in recent years.

As you do so - start a ribbon spread turnover. This is apparently to show how "mixed" the cards are. But really it is so that you can get a quick glance of the bottom card of each pile.

If the piles each have a different coloured bottom card - nothing needs to be done. Just square up and continue.

But if the cards are the same colour - then square up the cards - and then take the top card of the pile of cards and use it to scoop up the spread of cards.

The above displacement is from Stephen Hobbs and is more elegant than the usual displacements used in Gilbreath Principle effects.

Have the spectator deal through the cards - two at a time - to show that none of the cards match. And then show your final prediction to show that you predicted this. This final phase is an addition to Miraskill that Allan Slaight came up with a few decades ago. It is an application of the Gilbreath Principle.

--------------------------------

I am not sure how I feel about Miraskill. In some ways it is a pretty terrible trick. But at the same time - it allows for so much freedom that it makes for a very good 'test conditions' trick. This is useful when dealing with a spectator who is determined to bust you. And of course it is a very elegant principle - probably the loveliest thing that Stewart James ever discovered.

Also - don't forget that it played a roundabout part in the creation of Paul Curry's legendary effect, Out of This World:

https://doubledeal.wordpress.com/2011/03/26/from-the-worlds-worst-card-trick-to-the-worlds-best/

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Re: Stewart James

Postby performer » May 7th, 2017, 5:16 am

I have never performed Miraskill and on the face of it one would assume that it is not much of a trick. However, having said that I have seen writers who have actually performed it rave about the trick's effect on laymen so I would have no idea until I actually try it for myself. You just can't tell sometimes until you actually do it.

I will say one thing though. Practically any trick will do if it fits your style. It has nothing to do with the trick anyway. YOU are the magic not the bloody trick! Most tricks are pretty good if they fit you and you present them properly. Some tricks are more inherently effective than others but they can still be ruined if presented badly. And they usually are...............


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