Book for a Year – Secret Agenda by Roberto Giobbi

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/01/12 11:48 PM

Roberto Giobbis Secret Agenda (Hermetic Press, 2010) is an interesting and unique book. I am unaware of any book in magic that follows its formatone small chapter meant to be read each calendar day. Though I suspect some exist in the larger worlds of self-help and spiritual guidance literature, Ive never run across one. And the diversity of the work makes it difficult to categorize. It has effects, advice, sleights, ideas, challenges, and much more. Sometimes the entries dont appear to be related to magic. But I am from the Dai Vernon School of Magic: learn as much as you can about the world in which you live and love and then everything becomes related to magic. Mr. Giobbi is a living example of this philosophy.

While the book is difficult to classify, Mr. Giobbi categorizes it (for the benefit of those who feel the need to) as a notebook. So, following the example it sets, my idea is that I will discuss those days that I find most interesting here, as they happen. And, of course, I want you to be part of the discussion: Our own notebook here on the Genii Forum. (And speaking of notebooks, Secret Agenda is one of those books that begs the reader to keep their notebook handy. I have dozens of entries in mine from this book.)

If you dont have Secret Agenda, I highly recommend that you go out and get it. There is a lot to like about this book. For me, one day in particular changed years of habit literally overnight. Of course youll have to wait until we get to that day to find out what it is.

The ground rules:

I would like to start off each day. But as noted, I dont necessarily find each day in Secret Agenda particularly interesting. So, if by 10:00 PM Pacific Time in the USA on that date I have not posted something, then someone else is free to post their thoughts for that day. After all, maybe that day was interesting to them.

The format is important. My posts will start with the calendar day. Any response from members should start with the calendar day that they are replying to. That way, for example, if someone wants to comment on January 5 to the entry covering January 1, they can do so without any confusion. If everyone sticks to this, it should work.

Interestingly, 2012 just happens to be a leap year, and SA has an entry for February 29. Its almost as if I planned this.

Thats all there is to it. So to recap:

I will start the days comment by 10 PM PST.
If I havent posted by that time, anyone else can if they want.
Each post must start with the calendar date being referenced.
It doesnt matter when readers reply to any date thats already started.


There might be times when I post ahead. For example, if this summer I make my annual escape into the redwood forest in Northern California, where there is no computer access, I will post those days ahead of time. And since I will be a tad busy the first week of October, you can also expect those days to be posted ahead of time.

So are we together on this? I hope so!

Because of the wide range of subjects, a days post could be my take on an idea or trick, or a rant against something Mr. Giobbi said that I disagree with, a question posed to the readers, or?

So take out your copies of Secret Agenda and follow along. Maybe we all can learn something together.

Dustin
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/01/12 11:52 PM

January 1

While Mr. Giobbis ideas to hand a volunteer 23 or 24 cards are quite serviceable, I have practiced cutting the deck in half for Faro Shuffles for so long that its simpler for me to just drop off a few cards (if, as in his scenario, the target is 23 cards).

Also, I learned to count cards by packets of three from Max Maven. Its not as hard as it sounds. You just thumb off three at a time from the left hand dealing position into the right hand. It appears that you are just pushing off clumps of cards as you are chatting. The notion that you are counting the cards should never come into someones mind.

You practice getting the feel of a three-card push-off first. It doesnt have to be neat. In fact, the sloppier looking the better. Pretty soon your fingers will learn what a group of three feels like, so you neednt look at your hands. And then counting packets while you are chatting is also easier than it sounds. Since I have a conversational style, this is very simple to me.

Generally I am usually only getting twelve cardsfour packs of threeand it takes mere moments. So, for todays needs, whats another four packets (dropping of one on the last packet)?

See you tomorrow night; maybe!

Dustin
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Postby Evan Shuster » 01/02/12 01:43 AM

Excellent, Dustin! I purchased this mid-way through the year, specifically intending to pull it off the shelf in January. With all the books I've added to my library since then, I nearly forgot. Thanks for the reminder, and the potential for conversation along the way.
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Postby Denis Behr » 01/02/12 05:40 AM

Dustin Stinett wrote:Also, I learned to count cards by packets of three from Max Maven. Its not as hard as it sounds. You just thumb off three at a time from the left hand dealing position into the right hand. It appears that you are just pushing off clumps of cards as you are chatting.

For spread-counting larger groups, Elmsley's 3-3-2-2-rhythm is the best. See here for some details and a (unfinished) reference hunt: http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/view ... forum=2&13
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Postby F.Amílcar » 01/02/12 08:06 AM

Dustin,

I read the book last year and I'm agree with you. In brief I will sent my comments to Roberto and also I can share with all of you, every day too.

Sincerely great your first comment.

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Postby Denis Behr » 01/02/12 10:10 AM

If you are on the hermeticforum, I posted some info over there in the sub-forum for this book: http://hermeticforum.com/viewtopic.php?f=61&t=46
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/03/12 12:24 AM

RE: January 1

I never tried the 3-3-2-2 count because I learned the 3-3-3-3 count. My own need was for twelve cards, so it was perfect, needless to say. For me, need always drives what I learn. But clearly one should look at the Elmsley alternative if the need is for a higher count.

(And as for joining another forum, even one about a friend's books, I just can't. At least not until there is 48 hours in a day!)

Dont forget to add the date of what you are responding to at the top of your replies. We dont want to get confused as the days start flying by!

Thanks,
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/03/12 12:25 AM

January 2

Im curious if anyone has tried this mathematical hand puzzle. It sounds like something that might be fun to try among my math-nerd colleagues, but I havent had a large enough gathering yet.

My thinking is to lead in with the old 10-9-8-7-6, and five makes eleven thing that everyone knows. Then, use this puzzle to prove that it really works.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/03/12 02:30 AM

Dustin Stinett wrote:January 2

Im curious if anyone has tried this mathematical hand puzzle. It sounds like something that might be fun to try among my math-nerd colleagues, but I havent had a large enough gathering yet.

My thinking is to lead in with the old 10-9-8-7-6, and five makes eleven thing that everyone knows. Then, use this puzzle to prove that it really works.

I don't have the book -- can you explain this? Is it the "1, 2, skip these 3,4,5... " count?
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/03/12 01:07 PM

Jan 2

Well, I cannot explain the work here (and besides, it takes Giobbi two pages to do so) but the premise is that there are six people (one hand plus the thumb of another) but only five rooms in a hotel. Through a bit of verbal and visual work, you can make it appear as if all six people get their own room in the hotel.

It's a great book Bill: You should consider getting it!

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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/03/12 01:57 PM

Dustin Stinett wrote:Jan 2

Well, I cannot explain the work here (and besides, it takes Giobbi two pages to do so) but the premise is that there are six people (one hand plus the thumb of another) but only five rooms in a hotel. Through a bit of verbal and visual work, you can make it appear as if all six people get their own room in the hotel.

It's a great book Bill: You should consider getting it!

Dustin


Oh yes, I know. It's in the list to buy. After I get it, it will go in the stack to read (which is precariously tall, right now).
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/04/12 01:38 AM

January 3

Mr. Giobbi has a very nice system for keeping his special decks organized. Compare it to mine and decide which works best for you.
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Postby Evan Shuster » 01/04/12 01:49 AM

LOL!! Yours looks a lot like mine, but I think I may invest some time converting over to Roberto's suggested Behnke method. Today's entry encouraged me to investigate the Behnke book, which I wound up purchasing today, as a result.

I am finding that the footnotes are as valuable as the daily entries. Another example is the Curry trick referenced in a footnote to yesterday's entry.
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Postby F.Amílcar » 01/04/12 05:59 PM

LOL Dustin.

You are a disaster. Maybe you can visit Swizterland sometime in your life and know him personally.

Truly yours,

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/05/12 04:09 AM

January 5

Since I use only one deck, I personally have never worried about changing decks in mid performance (overtly anyway), so such justifications have never been an issue for me. But this entry made me think of the late Derek Dingle. (It must be noted that Dingle only did this sort of thing in front of magicians.) He didnt worry about justifying changing decks either. Hed come out to the tablecomplain about how early it was (no matter what the time was)and put down a small pile of stacked decks. Hed open one, do a trick, and put the deck away. Hed open the next one, do the trick that one was set up for, and put it away. And so it went. There was a certain brilliance to it that still makes me laugh.
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Postby Denis Behr » 01/05/12 05:11 AM

Dustin Stinett wrote:January 5

Hed come out to the tablecomplain about how early it was (no matter what the time was)and put down a small pile of stacked decks. Hed open one, do a trick, and put the deck away. Hed open the next one, do the trick that one was set up for, and put it away. And so it went. There was a certain brilliance to it that still makes me laugh.


I don't get it. Where's the brilliance? Was it done humorously?
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Postby DrDanny » 01/05/12 09:13 AM

"Brilliant" in the same sense as his (in)famous Cockroach Pass.
He knew that you knew that he knew, so why pretend?
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Postby Denis Behr » 01/05/12 09:20 AM

I see, thanks.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/07/12 01:35 AM

January 6

I absolutely love this puzzle. The moment I read it last year, I added it to my repertoire. Not my magic repertoire, my business repertoire. I use it as an example of how bullet points (in this case the instructions to the game) can lead even the smartest people to make the wrong choices because they do not impart all the pertinent information.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 01/08/12 09:34 AM

January 7

Clever ideas on a pellet switch, one of which Fred Kaps thought "Worth its weight in gold." Also worth checking out Eugene Burger's published works on spirit effects with pellets.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/09/12 01:07 AM

January 8

This Rubber Band Gag is the kind of thing that we should all know for those times when people say teach me something. It has a magical moment for the person, and learning it will give them a sense of being in the know.
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Postby Richard Hatch » 01/09/12 02:16 AM

Dustin Stinett wrote:January 8

This Rubber Band Gag is the kind of thing that we should all know for those times when people say teach me something. It has a magical moment for the person, and learning it will give them a sense of being in the know.

I like this and think a good follow up would be the rubber band stunt where the rubber band escapes from your finger while the finger tip is being held by the spectator, as is the case here. It is a topological effect related to "fast and loose". Pretty sure it is in either Gardner's MATHEMATICS, MAGIC AND MYSTERY or his ENCYCLOPEDIA OF IMPROMPTU MAGIC or both. Alas, I don't have either handy to give a reference.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/10/12 02:15 AM

January 9

Mr. Giobbis Flash Technique is not unlike visualization commonly used by athletes. I liken it too to Einsteins Thought Experiments where he thought about a problem/theory long before he worked on it physically. Its a good practice to get into for many aspects of life, not just magic, sports, and science. In an interview some years ago, Ricky Jay noted that he doesnt practice as much as he did in his youth. He said that these days, I find myself thinking more about my magic.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/11/12 12:40 AM

January 10

I recall being amused when I first read this because at the end, Mr. Giobbi notes that the presentation given for the trick solves the problem of confusion with transposition effects. I was amused because I was confused about the effect! I had to read it again. Im glad I did. This little piece, a Doc Daley creation, is a now part of my impromptu collection of effects. That is, those little jazz pieces that can be done just about anywhere, anytime, with almost any deck. As Mr. Giobbi says, it is exquisite.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/12/12 02:54 AM

January 11

Im a great believer in scripting. Knowing what you are going to sayand when youre going to say itis as important as knowing what moves or procedures youre going to doand when youre going to do them. Having that script as a foundation instills confidence. That it is there allows you to wander off the page if the opportunity arises comfortable in the knowledge that its there for you to go back to if the trail proves troublesome. There is a another danger though; talking at your audience versus talking to and/or with them. But thats where acting comes into the mix. And thats another days conversation.
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Postby Q. Kumber » 01/12/12 11:16 AM

January 11

One point that seems to get totally overlooked in using a script is the "back reference".

Over the years a performance piece will change and adapt. Little details will be added or dropped, as with lines and bits of business.

I've often rediscovered something, once a regular part of my act, that were it not written in my notebooks or part of the written script, would be forever lost.

Scripts are not just for the words but the performance details. And for the most part they are not a finished product but works in progress.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/14/12 01:00 AM

January 13

There are countless double lifts and turnovers out there. Many are very good. There are flourish style double lifts and straight-forward double lifts. The lift described herefrom Cliff Greens classic book Professional Card Magicis straight forward.

From the top of the deck, I do only one double lift (actually its a multiple lift since its mechanics allow for as many cards as one might wantbut I never do more than three). My multiple liftand it is minelooks exactly the same as my single lift because I lift a single card the same way I lift two or three (as one). This is a lesson I learned from Dai Vernon. If one cannot make the move look exactly like the real thing, make the real thing look like the move. This is the essence of naturalness: Its what is natural for you. And anything that looks differentan unusual way of lifting of a playing card from the top of the deck after having done it another way beforewill stand out and invite suspicion. Thats not a good thing. Find one double/multiple lift/turnover and use its mechanics all the time; even when you are lifting one card.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/20/12 02:38 AM

January 19

This date is not about the Lift Shuffle, though the move is the example for a Study of the Polyvalence of a Sleight.

I started using the Lift Shuffle a long time ago when Martin Lewis killed a room full of magicians with a force based on the move and reminded us all that its in Royal Road. I use it primarily to control a top stock with a single overhand shuffle. Its better than the Jog Shuffle, since that requires two (or a follow-up cut or two). Mr. Giobbi lists this and several other uses for the technique (including the aforementioned force).

But today is not about the Lift Shuffle.

How many other standardor non-standardmoves can be used for different purposes? Like many, I use a pass as a color change/revelation. Once, while watching a DVD for review, I saw a change described that had nothing to do with an effect Ive been doing for years but with a part Ive never been completely happy with. While watching the DVD, I instantly realized that I could use that overt change to accomplish a covert switch. I am very happy now with my routine.

Generally speaking, tools are designed to do only one thing. One should never hammer something with a wrench. In magic, were very lucky: many of our tools can be multipurpose. We just have to think about it.
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Postby Denis Behr » 01/20/12 05:49 AM

Dustin Stinett wrote:January 19

Its better than the Jog Shuffle, since that requires two [shuffles] (or a follow-up cut or two).

Let's make this: Its different than the Jog Shuffle, since that requires two shuffles (or a follow-up cut or two).
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Postby F.Amílcar » 01/20/12 09:26 AM

Dear Dustin,
I'm completely agree with Mr. Behr that is different and for some purposes different too. You can stacking purposes or force or include palming but is different only.

Truly yours,

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/20/12 12:31 PM

January 19

A point very well made by Denis and F. Amilcar! "Different" is indeed correct. Considering I still use the valuableand very versatileJog Shuffle in many cases myself, I should have known better.

Thanks gentlemen!
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/23/12 02:46 AM

January 22

Gestalt Theory?

Sometimes I just like to do card tricks.
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Postby F.Amílcar » 01/24/12 01:32 PM

Dustin,

If you have read the theory part of Spanish school you can understand the Ascanio's thoughts and his influence constructivist in the magic based especially in timing nowadays.
Of course, Roberto did it and his conception of the magic is like this.

Truly yours,

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/29/12 01:59 AM

January 28

Very few will have the opportunity to perform magic on television. But everyone can learn a lot about good magic from reading this days wisdom courtesy of Juan Tamariz.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/04/12 04:56 AM

February 2

(Okay, so Im a little tardy with this post: sorry about that. Hopefully youll believe its worth it.)

Mr. Giobbis notion of keeping the deck out of your hands as much as possible reminds me of something that plagued me for a long time, even though I didnt realize it. And I know that it plagues many card magicians out there because I see it all the time; even with working pros. Its the dreaded thumb riffle for no reason up the back of the deck with the right hand (for those who hold the deck in the left hand).

I was made aware of this affliction by the late Barry Price way back in the 1980s. He called it my fibrillation of the deck. (Barry loved to toss out words like that; it was part of his charm.) So I became aware of it and I practiced at not doing itwhile I practiced. But when I performed, I kept doing it though I was completely unaware of that fact. It wasnt until I made a video for a compilation set for another site back in the late 90s or early 2000s that I saw a video of me in a performance situation; not just a practice situation.

The incessant riffling is cringe worthy! When I saw it, I wanted to cut my thumb off! It is no different than when a public speaker says, umm

In fact, in a way its worse. Its very distracting and, if you want to do the kind of magic where the audience believes you did nothing with the deckthe point of Mr. Giobbis February 2nd entrythe constant riffling works against that goal.

Riffling the deck for no reason is a nervous habit that, like umm, takes hard work to get past. But I believe its worth the work.

Dustin
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Postby Ryan Matney » 02/05/12 01:46 AM

I've seen very big names riffle the deck constantly. It is very annoying.

I thought about my own riffling when I attended my fist convention and a young man did a trick for me and he would pause to be dramtic but riffle the deck 3-4 times during every pause. He must have riffled the deck 12-16 times during one trick that should have been very quick and direct.

I don't think I've done it again.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/09/12 01:12 AM

February 8

This idea for noting a banknotes serial number is terrific and one of those things that I have filed away for possible future needs. And I see it as something that could be fun to practice when, for example, you get some change. Though I have never tried it, I think it might also make for a good exercise in improvisation.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/14/12 04:03 AM

February 13

Im pretty certain that I have read this lovely procedure somewhere before (a Lorayne, Mentzer, or Garcia book, or in a magazine maybe). Its quite good and something that can be shown to people who are beginners and ready to move up to the concept of breaks but still need a key card for a control. But its certainly not just for the beginner!
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Postby Denis Behr » 02/15/12 03:42 AM

This key card placement with a running cut to the table is described in Marlo's Control Systems (1952, p.71), not surprisingly with variations.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 02/15/12 03:48 PM

Thanks Denis! I knew I could count on somebody recalling where this is.
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