So, how was Stack Clinic?

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Dennis Kyriakos
Posts: 45
Joined: January 30th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: New York City

So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Dennis Kyriakos » November 1st, 2004, 1:31 pm

To study and to learn, one has to approach the subject in a certain frame of mind. The cup must be emptied. Unfortunately most don't get "humility." But this is the way to approach the master.

Last weekend in Las Vegas 16 of us (actually 15, as we eventually discovered one attendee turned out to be The Mystery Guest) approached two masters of memorized deck work for an incredible experience.

Jamy Ian Swiss and Michael Close held nothing back. They not only jazzed with cards but also each other, riffing back and forth sharing experiences to help us understand how powerful this tool can be.

After attending Close-up Clinic in Philadelphia last year I knew I was in for something special at Stack Clinic. Swiss out did himself this time putting together 3 unforgettable days of magic technique, guidance and inspiration, and a [censored] of surprises.

We were encouraged to arrive a day or two early and take in Las Vegas. Those arriving Wednesday had the option of attending Lance Burton's show and visit with Lance afterwards. Thursday afternoon it was Mac King's show and Thursday night, Penn and Teller with more visits and photo ops.


After the first official day of the Clinic we experienced much of what Jamy and Michael discussed in action that evening at Jeff McBride's Magic Center. The public show featuring Swiss and Close was hosted by none other than Eric Mead. Mr. Mead performed his handling of Troy Hoosier's 3-coin production/vanish/reproduction routine and two card tricks that left everyone in the room utterly devastated.

After the show we were treated to a wonderful dinner at Aquaknox in The Venetian Hotel (included in the registration to the Clinic) and as a night-cap our late-night technical colloquium was held at Penn Jillette's home, "The Slammer." Quite surreal to experience Mike Close talking shop in Penn's living room. Then again, touring "The Slammer" is a surreal experience in itself.


Saturday morning is Mystery Guest time at Clinic and Jamy is very good at keeping the guest's identity close to his vest. He also kept us on our feet all weekend with a tight schedule, which meant we had no time to hit the casinos. So, we had no choice but to take up a cash pool. Eric Mead was hiding under our collective nose the entire time. Mead went so far as to throw some dough into the pool keeping everyone off the scent until he was introduced. We were pleasantly by what Eric had to offer. He passed along great advice and some amazing technique that clearly came from thinking, hard work and experience. Eric's session alone was worth every cent I paid and all the aggravation I took getting to Vegas. Incredible! Thank you Eric!

Performance Critique Session

This is the most important part of Clinic. If only we had more sessions like this in the magic world. If only more of us cared enough about our art and our audience to seek out a master. If only we could show more humility and allow ourselves to be critiqued in such open and constructive ways we'd probably do a lot better as artists, and magic would improve as an art form. But I digress.


Sunday began with a couple of hours of "informal" effects with a stack. Everything Swiss and Close shared was stunning. They inspired us to dig a bit deeper then we normally would. That's where some gems are sure to be found.

The entire Clinic was peppered with Penn practicing his faros in the back and sharing some great ideas. Teller also stopped by and spent some time with us. And book dealer Andy Greget was on hand offering some great deals on hard to find titles.

I said this about my first experience at Clinic and I can't help but say it again. If you want to improve your magic, if you want to get better at what you do and give your audiences something to remember, empty your cup. Empty your cup and attend the next Clinic. It will be the best 3 days you invest in your magic. Period.

Joe Gallant
Posts: 38
Joined: January 17th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: Boston

Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Joe Gallant » November 1st, 2004, 10:57 pm

I completely agree with Dennis. Stack Clinic was an incredible experience.

Having previously attended Card Clinic, I had very high expectations for Stack Clinic. I am happy to say that Stack Clinic surpassed my high expectations.

Jamy Ian Swiss and Michael Close were the perfect instructors for Stack Clinic. Both are working pros that have used the memorized deck for years. They shared their real-world experiences and held nothing back. Both Jamy and Michael are excellent teachers that share their knowledge and passion for magic. The best teachers are those that recognize that they are still students; Jamy and Michael are serious students of magic.

The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
-- William A Ward

Based on this definition, Jamy and Michael are great teachers. Thanks to them, Stack Clinic inspired me to think about magic.

The mystery lecturer has been a special feature of past clinics. For Stack Clinic, the mystery lecturer was Eric Mead. His exceptional lecture Disorderly Conduct was one of the best magic lectures I have ever attended. He revealed techniques that he has never before revealed to anyone. A phenomenal lecture, including detailed lecture notes!

An important aspect of Stack Clinic was the camaraderie between the students. We had a diverse group of folks from all over the US and Canada (and one from Singapore). The small size of the group provided the ideal atmosphere for learning. In addition to the daily sessions, there was plenty of time to get to know each other via the pre-clinic events, group dinners, and late-night sessions. It was a great group of guys, and I look forward to seeing them again at future magic conventions.

If you are serious about magic, I highly recommend attending the next Clinic. There is no better way to improve your magic.

Prakash Puru
Posts: 2
Joined: January 24th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: New York

Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Prakash Puru » November 1st, 2004, 11:51 pm

Perhaps I might add my tuppence worth, with regards to both Stack Clinic in particular and the learning experience in general. (And in the process, gleefully increase the time it takes for this page to load.)

Constructive criticism advice and aid that is unprejudiced and which addresses not merely the technical aspects, but further, the presentational, the psychological, and on rare occasion, the artistic features of a performance is undeniably one of the most treasured resources any working performer may receive. Unfortunately, in an act of tragic paradox, such a resource also remains elusively difficult to obtain. Too often one is bombarded by oodles of comments from other magicians, most of whom are either too confined within the boundaries of their own style and approach to remark without bias upon that of any other, or, more dangerously, are wholly devoid of any viewpoint. This is particularly true when one begins to explore a new area of conjuring, for the neophyte is, by inherence, the most vulnerable to the influences of an ignorant.

Stack Clinic, by nature of its highly-intensive schedule, fed its attendees with an experience incomparable to, and infinitely beyond, any typical magic convention or workshop. Replacing the grey, pointless monotone of the convention hall with the enriching splendour of the private classroom, it allowed those concerned to spend three days alongside listening to and learning from a trio of arguably the top magicians in the country, particularly as exponents of the memorised deck; three performers who with joyful abandon allowed themselves to divulge closely-guarded secrets and routines, for a monetary fee that seemed laughingly cheap in comparison to the knowledge gained in exchange. (Incidentally, those still doubtful of the value of Stack Clinic as a consequence of it costing thrice the price of the average convention, may wish to consider that such a point of view would be, in effect, the equivalent of pathetically judging the merit of a movie by its running time.)

As someone who has always believed in first conceptualising a desired effect, and then, and only then, setting about a method by which to achieve such an effect, finding myself, for the first time in several years, facing the situation of having learnt a method without any effect in sight was a new and quite disorienting experience. Stack Clinic thus provided the perfect, and gloriously unique, opportunity to explore the many ins-and-outs of the memorised deck, with the end result of an ink-drained pen, a filled notepad, eight hours of audio recordings, copious amounts of coffee and cigarettes, and considerable sleep depravation. In short, a consummately sublime experience.

"It is better to ask some of the questions than to know all the answers."
~James Thurber


Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2004, 9:33 am

A few thoughts about Stack Clinic. My apologies as I echo some of my fellow attendees comments.

When I first heard of the concept of Stack Clinic I knew it was an absolute must attend. Having already attended the first Card Clinic in New York, there was no question about the quality and more importantly the value of studying, under two masters of not only the memorized deck, but of close-up magic in general. Jamy and Michael exceeded my expectations. Period. Full stop.

O.K., I'll go on. One of the highlights for me was the small nuances to already published moves and tricks. This is the kind of expert advice that can only be gleaned from extensive experience and thoughtful reflection of ones work. How many times did I hear "This isn't in the description, but you need to know this." or "Here's what makes that move deceptive." This is info that could take years to learn from a book and an eternity to learn from a video. It took three days at Stack Clinic.

In reviewing my notes, I noticed a trend. There were many stars next to certain passages. Of course I starred them because someone said "I don't usually tip this." or "Please don't let this info get around." or as Eric Mead said, "If you show this to anyone, I will never speak to you again." Mentors sharing information via the oral tradition. The foundation of learning for me has been seeking out the right teachers. If anyone asks why that's important, I'll show them this paragraph.

I would like to mention my fellow attendees, I had a blast meeting and greeting this group of people. Everyone was committed, intelligent, and most importantly, fun to be around. A GREAT group.

The extra events need to be mentioned. Having the opportunity to meet and talk to Lance Burton, Penn & Teller, Mac King, and Johnny Thompson? I'm not sure I can put it into words. "Wow" comes to mind, so does "Thanks" to Jamy and Michael for asking their friends to participate. Special thanks to Penn (and Emily!) for graciously offering "The Slammer" for our evening technical colloquium, that was indeed a special night.

Eric Mead for the special mystery guest was a perfect choice. Personally, I had no idea the depth of his knowledge and commitment to the memdeck. His detailed lecture notes were especially appreciated. Having Eric around for the entire Clinic was also a huge benefit.

Which I guess brings me to the only complaint I have, to much info! O.K. maybe not, but damn, this is going to take forever to go through. But I have a feeling it might be worth it in the end.


Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2004, 5:19 pm

Thats great info on stack clinic and on the prior card clinic...

Can any of the attendees tell me: what was the experience range of the other clinic students, in terms of years into magic and skill level?

And what observations, if any, did you make on how less experienced, less skilled students progressed? Was it over their heads?



Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Guest » November 3rd, 2004, 7:12 pm

I hate you all. No really, I do!

Dennis Kyriakos
Posts: 45
Joined: January 30th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: New York City

Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Dennis Kyriakos » November 5th, 2004, 11:27 am

Originally posted by Edmund_Fitzgerald:
Thats great info on stack clinic and on the prior card clinic...

Can any of the attendees tell me: what was the experience range of the other clinic students, in terms of years into magic and skill level?

And what observations, if any, did you make on how less experienced, less skilled students progressed? Was it over their heads?


There always seems to be a broad range of experience/skill level at the Clinics. It ranges from people who are coming back to magic after a hiatus to the working pros and everyone in between. There were some who even learned a stack specifically to attend this Clinic, and others who are using it everyday in their work. What better way for us to develop then by spending quality time with each of these people.

Regarding progress, well, that won't come overnight. I can't speak for anyone else (less or more experienced - they'll have to chime in on their own) but I left inspired by what's possible. This experience can be looked at as a brief respite on a long journey. Now I have to work. That's the only way to develop. My magic will change because of this experience and it will be - scratch that - is part of my development. Part of my process.

You want specifics, don't you? Well, I went with specific questions for Mike Close and he was more then happy to spend time with me and look at what I was working on. As he did with anyone who asked. Thanks, Mike! Eric Mead kindly offered ledning his knowledge and experience whenever needed. Thanks again, Eric! What wonderful resources!!!

Not sure if I answered your questions, Ed. I can only relay my experience. And that's the most important thing to "get" from Jamy's Clinics. You should try it sometime.

Rule for training #4: The instructor teaches only one small aspect of the art. Its versitile applications must be discovered by each student through incessant practice and training.
- Morihei Ueshiba O'Sensei, Founder of aikido
If you'll all excuse me now, I have to go back to work.



Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Guest » November 7th, 2004, 12:19 pm

I guess it's my turn to add my thoughts regarding stack-clinic. I really don't think there are any accolades that I can add that have not been touted by my fellow stack-clinic brethren. I will comment on a question raised regarding the "less experienced, less skilled students", since I am one of them with regards to memorized deck work.

Before the announcement of stack-clinic, I never thought of learning a memorized deck. But, being a past attendent of card-clinic, I knew the thought and effort that Jamy Ian Swiss would put into this. He would make this experience intense, enjoyable, and thorough, no matter what your skill level.

Because of my work, I attended five weeks of training in Georgia immediately prior to stack-clinic. Consequently, I was unable to devote the time I wanted to learn a deck stack. Truth be told, I just became somewhat comfortable with a memorized deck the day prior to stack-clinic. Needless to say, I felt I was ill-prepared for these next three days. I thought that I would be left floundering while I watched the others progress. I was wrong.

The planning of the clinic was excellent. Over the course of three days, general introductions and theories were introduced, specific techniques were taught, and effects were presented and explained. What was required was a love and respect of magic, and a little knowledge regarding a memorized deck.

It should be noted that not all of the attendees used the same stack. Some used the Aronson stack, while others knew the Tamariz stack. This didn't matter. The clinic was structured for using a memorized deck, not a specific stack.

I was easily the most inexperienced person there regarding a memorized deck. I was probably also the most impressed with what was possible. A new "magic door" had been opened for me. Jamy, Michael, Eric, and the other attendees showed me what was possible with a memorized deck. It is now my turn to go through this new door and see what I can discover.

Before I go, there is one more thing that I should point out. Many of those who attended stack-clinic had attended prior clinics. Why? Well, I can't answer for the others. Personally, I attended another clinic, not only because of the subject covered, but because I knew the three days would be educational, inspirational, and above all, enjoyable.

Chris Gillett
Posts: 21
Joined: January 24th, 2008, 12:00 pm
Location: USA

Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Chris Gillett » November 8th, 2004, 3:35 pm

I agree with what has been said so well by those before me. I would like to emphasize a few things.

The salient characteristic of the entire weekend for me was its quality. Jamy obviously doesnt do this to make a lot of money. He spent a lot of his potential profits treating everyone to a great dinner in a private room of a casino I cant disclose here. Everything, including the other lecturers, the materials supplied, the underground information, the meals, and the surprises, evidenced Jamys commitment to teaching and to making the event first class.

It is also important to note the people that Jamy gets involved. The instructors were great. Jamy, Michael, and Eric riffed off of each other through each teaching session and made it entertaining without detracting from Jamys pedagogical intent. Furthermore, getting to hang out with Penn & Teller was worth the price of admission as was meeting and spending the weekend with the other clinicians who are all exceptional individuals.

Finally, the ability to spend a weekend with working pros and solicit their feedback on your technique and presentations is priceless. Add to that the sub rosa information that was exchanged and the card clinic events are not to be missed. If someone were to break their promises to Jamy, Michael, and Eric and publish copies of their clinic notes, they would be among the most important works in memdeck literature.

If you have ever read Jamys erudite book reviews and wondered what it would be like to hang out with him for a weekend and drain his brain, these clinics are your chance. It is absolutely worth the effort to do so. If my schedule permits, I will definitely attend future clinics.

P.S. I cant believe that no one has yet mentioned Robin Leachs girlfriend.


Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Guest » November 9th, 2004, 8:22 am

Hi, All

My fellow Stack Clinicians have given a thorough overview of Stack Clinic, and there is little I can add on other than confirm and concurr on their observations.

I arrived, prepared, with Aronson's Stack embedded in my head, plus my repertoire of working routines I have been successfully performing with over the past year. Other guys were either learning the currently-in-rage Mnemonica (Tamariz) or Osterlind's or Aronson's. Jamy's clinic and syllabus filled the blanks for me in terms of how to use any stack, get it into play, shuffle them about, and more critically, what to do with a stack once memorised.

I believe that in those three days, I learnt more about how to use card sleights to reinforce the "sell". I reviewed card sleights I knew, appreciate them, and learnt MORE. New sleights were open to us, as others were clarified and demonstrated by Jamy, Michael and Eric - the titans of modern Mem Deck work. I found out that quite a few of my new friends got their deck committed to memory (by Day 2), accelerated by the practice and energy of the group. I personally got a few weak spots (literally, some cards and positions seemed to elude me) ironed out with the learning of new effects. Yes, these "weak spots" can be devastating to te overall performance. Our teachers taught us how to systematically commit the deck to our brain.

In the final analysis, I'd strongly recommend that those thinking about Card Clinic TO ATTEND. This was my first, and certainly not my last. With the abundance of instruction, information and deep sharing, 27 hours of flight time to the USA was worth it.


Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Guest » November 10th, 2004, 3:03 am

wow that sgreat information and feedback from the group. I appreciate the enthusiasm and commitment you observed from Jamy and co.



Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Guest » November 27th, 2004, 2:30 pm

Both my oldest son and I attended the Stack Clinic. I have been using the memorized deck for about six years and my son (who had never used a mem deck) learned the Tamariz stack just to prepare for the clinic.

Over the years, I have made an effort to research and learn mem deck work. I had read Aronson, Close, Elmsley, Tamariz, and Joyal just to name a few. Notwithstanding my previous knowledge, I found the Clinic to be an extraordinary learning experience far beyond any expectation.

This was not some laxed session work. This was a weekend bootcamp that required earnst concentration, however, the lectures and the material were so captivating and significant, I do not think there was a single participant who was not awe struck by the entire experience.

I extend my deepest appreciation and respect to Jamy, Michael and Eric for a very special weekend that Jacob and I will always remember.

We will most definitely attend any future clinics that Jamy proposes.

Carl Rheuban


Re: So, how was Stack Clinic?

Postby Guest » December 27th, 2004, 10:22 am

Out of curiosity, of all the participants and presenters at the stack-clinic, was there a particular stack that seemed most popular? I assume that might have come up in discussion. What systems were being used by the various participants? Thanks!

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