Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Magic

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supremefiction
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Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Magic

Postby supremefiction » June 16th, 2015, 11:46 am

Richard,

The following is just a theoretical question, and of all the people to ask you are most certainly "the man."

I wonder if it would be possible to create a standard notation for card magic instructions. Kind of like chess has, but not in that manner.

Specific problem: every author has a different manner to describe how to do a card trick.

These vary wildly. Your is among the best.

We all know the feeling of struggling to follow a poorly written set of trick instructions.

Question:

Would it/could it be possible to create a standard notation for card magic?

The concept of a standard notation for instructions could include something like this.

The narrative might be on the left hand side of the page. There might be a running column on the right hand side of the page and at key junctures there would be a notation [examples follow]:

LH Left Hand
RH Right Hand
HPU Hand Palm Up
HPD Hand Palm Down
BG Biddle Grip
MG Mechanics Grip
DG Dealers Grip
EG Elmsley Count Grip
PFU Packet Face Up
PFD Packet Face Down
CFU Card Face Up
CFD Card Face Down

Etc.

Another item is that the indifferent cards used would be identified and sequential so as to be easy to remember, and the state of all the cards including the indifferent cards would be shown at each key stage.

AS/CFU 6H/CFD 5H/CFU etc.

The magician would substitute less evident indifferent cards after they learned the trick. While learning it is helpful to know at each stage where each specific indifferent card is (L/R hand, face up/down).

There would also have to be a standard notation for a double card.

AS/FU [showing] | 4H/FD

Etc.

Each trick could also have an index of slights used.

Etc.

Is this clear? If so, interested to hear your thoughts.

I already know this is "Overkill."

Regards and thank you, and thank you also for the vast contribution.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 16th, 2015, 11:59 am

We already have clean language to describe blocking (what goes where) and script in performance. Compact notation may be overkill for those who have yet to find language which conveys "what is supposed to be of interest to the audience, how to establish that interest, how to maintain that interest" ... a fast typographical engine that drives nothing.
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby David Kaplan » June 16th, 2015, 12:00 pm

Tom Jorgenson described a shorthand system in his manuscript, "Shaman". It's available for $2.25 on Lulu: http://www.lulu.com/shop/tom-jorgenson/ ... 45378.html . (I have no vested interest.)

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby erdnasephile » June 16th, 2015, 12:16 pm

While I think this is an interesting idea, I'm not in favor for two reasons.

1. The world is already overrun with abbreviations, jargon, and acronyms. In my own field, keeping track of the latest multicenter trial acronyms actually requires a reference book. Worse, the multitude of abbreviations can often hamper vital communication between professionals, sometimes resulting in patient harm (which is why unapproved abbreviations are strictly verboten in most systems). Third, my pet peeve about acronyms is that at my age, it's often easier to remember the acronym, but not what it stands for!

2. If authors all went to using shorthand, I think a great deal would be lost in the magic literature. When I think of Minch and Racherbaumer at their best, they do more than just instruct. Their prose is not only functional--it is often lyrical. To dampen that art would be a decided negative for me.

What I would rather see is a consistent way of naming the fingers, the parts of the hand, and the motions of the upper extremity; however, that sounds a lot easier than I think it would be in practice.
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 16th, 2015, 12:21 pm

supremefiction wrote:..a standard notation for a double card.

AS/FU [showing] | 4H/FD..


AS/2C for DF gaffs, commas between cards in layout, "+" or "()" to handle multiple cards in display as one... Once upon a time there was a version of wildcard where that kind of notation came in very handy to keep track of the gaffs and the doubled cards.

Folks were using terms like "position check" to stop the procedure description and shift into describing the status of the props. Since magic is rarely "one size fits all" it's a tough call.

the recent xkcd comic about "+" and data types comes to mind. :D
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Brad Henderson » June 16th, 2015, 12:33 pm

Tamariz also developed a system of notation. This may be mentioned in Sonata or was sold as a small pamphlet

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby supremefiction » June 16th, 2015, 12:35 pm

Interesting, thank you.

Yes, this would be a supplement to the narrative rather than a replacement.

Great, I will check out SHAMAN.

Yes, we need more "Position Checks"!

Agreed, let us not add another layer of complexity!

P.S. The proximate cause of my post was trying to learn "The Homing Card" by LJ.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Matthew Field » June 16th, 2015, 12:41 pm

In Chess, there is simply a sequence of moves which is recorded. In magic there is so much more.

The idea in magic writing is to convey the cards used, and the counts, cuts, and moves, but also the subtlety. That is not so easily annotated. There is also an extra step the reader's brain must go through to remember that EC stands for Elmsley Count and what that means. Moving pieces around a board is simpler.

In other words, in my opinion the idea lacks merit.

Matt Field (who would not want to edit such annotations)

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Leo Garet » June 16th, 2015, 12:44 pm

Supremefiction has clearly put some thought into this and full marks for that, but it gives me a headache. Sorry about that.
As a right hander who uses a right-handed dealing grip, I’ve had (nearly) a lifetime of adjusting descriptions. Learning and having to transpose shorthand from time to time is not something worth contemplating.

For the record, another shorthand form that gets up my goat is the number and pip combination. 2♣, for example.
Karl Fulves used it in his last two or three “Self-Working” tomes and Harry Lorayne has employed it; it works for some, but holds no charm for me. Saves space, but that’s all.

Agree fully with Erdnasephile about the lyricism that many authors bring to their writings. Let's hold on to that.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 16th, 2015, 1:13 pm

I find abbreviations confusing rather than clarifying.
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Still learning » June 16th, 2015, 2:48 pm

Jon Racherbaumer beat you to it in Hierophant 2 published in 1969...

"Perhaps someday it will be possible to create a symbolic notation (like algebra or shorthand) that can be used to describe standard actions and sleights, as well as recurrent handlings that appear in all routines, hence, descriptions could be jotted swiftly and understood as readily as mathematicians comprehend their language of numbers and equations."

See the effect, Tibetan Checkers, in that issue.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 16th, 2015, 3:09 pm

Leibniz (Art of Discovery 1685) suggested using mathematical notation. Let us calculate indeed!

Also thanks for the JDB chink-a-chink reference. Only heard good things about his magic.
From that writeup: "The checker is [snip] during the subsequent Shuttle Pass." <- Shuttle Pass?
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Frank Yuen » June 16th, 2015, 7:25 pm

You can purchase the Tamariz book here:

https://www.stevensmagic.com/shop/mini- ... ariz-book/

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Bill Mullins » June 16th, 2015, 7:55 pm

erdnasephile wrote: What I would rather see is a consistent way of naming the fingers, the parts of the hand, and the motions of the upper extremity; however, that sounds a lot easier than I think it would be in practice.


Don't the endpapers to Giobbi's Card College books give a standard set of names for the fingers/hand parts?


JT wrote:=the recent xkcd comic about "+" and data types comes to mind


This one?

JT wrote:Also thanks for the JDB chink-a-chink reference.


To save someone else the trouble of looking up something that was left unsaid . . . "Tibetan Checkers" is a chink-a-chink routine by Jules DeBarros.


Jon -- that's two separate posts where you made allusions without explaining them. I'm having a good day today and figured them out (I auditioned for Jeopardy last Sunday, and am still in "the zone"), but I don't always know what you are talking about. Throw us a bone every now and then.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 16th, 2015, 8:59 pm

Got it on one for the xkcd comic. There's also a wiki for xkcd explainations.

This is all about descriptive shorthand and getting ideas across from writer to reader. I feel chink-a-chink and "Tibetan Checkers" was not such a great intuitive leap to ask of the reader. Though the shift from card tricks to a non-card trick in post ... I have to agree with you. Using the term "shuttle pass" got my attention. Any thoughts?

Other explorations in notation have included using "your hand" for dominant hand and "your other hand" for ... your other hand which should keep us out of right/left fussing for a while. "U" for (face) up and "D" for (face) down seems to work sometimes. [ The face/palm is obvious in hindsight ;) ] We could easily go with " /2C" for face down two of clubs. That leaves "R/2C" for red backed two of clubs. :) Parentheses for multiple cards "(/AD,/5H)" looks okay. Lose the quotes in working text of course - not scare quotes unless you'd like to use that for what the audience should believe a thing to be.

Back to our OP - IIRC Geoff Latta used to do the routine. It was based around using a triple turnover and making impromptu double facers by secretly reversing one of the spot cards. The multiple turnover onto a face up packet handles the switching. That idea is simple enough to express in plain text. Once that idea gets across ...
AS/, /R, R/, R/, R/, R/
turnover (AS/,/R,R/) onto R/, R/, R/
leaves you with /R showing its back and the packet hiding /AS reversed under R/.
So you deal down the /R and proceed.
Not sure that's a great improvement over the Alton Sharpe writeup in Expert Card Mysteries.


Have to disagree about lyrical language. Consider Jacques Brel songs as translated/interpreted in comparison to his original work. What's special about the poets words is lost in translation. Meaning is not a liquid to be poured from one container language into another.
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Bill Mullins » June 17th, 2015, 1:18 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Got it on one for the xkcd comic.

Like I said, I'm having a good day.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Leo Garet » June 17th, 2015, 5:17 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:Have to disagree about lyrical language. Consider Jacques Brel songs as translated/interpreted in comparison to his original work. What's special about the poets words is lost in translation. Meaning is not a liquid to be poured from one container language into another.

Agreed, but for my part I was referring to English writing writers who write in English.
I sincerely apologise for not making that abundantly clear. :)

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby erdnasephile » June 17th, 2015, 5:13 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
erdnasephile wrote: What I would rather see is a consistent way of naming the fingers, the parts of the hand, and the motions of the upper extremity; however, that sounds a lot easier than I think it would be in practice.


Don't the endpapers to Giobbi's Card College books give a standard set of names for the fingers/hand parts?


Yes, Mr. Giobbi does provide a set of names, which he uses consistently. However, it's incomplete and doesn't address some points of confusion (For example, the "3rd finger" has variously referred to the middle finger or the ring finger, depending on the author (and whether they consider the thumb a finger).) Also, the movements of the various fingers: flexion, extension, adduction, abduction, are not detailed.

I suppose magic writers could adopt the standard medical terms for these things, but even in medicine, miscommunication and needless duplication can occur (e.g., volar v. anterior v. palmar, etc.) Plus, medical writing can be rather clunky to read.

Still, I suppose perhaps it doesn't matter all that much. We've all learned a bunch of complex card sleights over the years despite the lack of a standard language. Indeed, some really useful sleights have resulted from a misunderstood description.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Bill Mullins » June 17th, 2015, 6:13 pm

erdnasephile wrote: Plus, medical writing can be rather clunky to read.


Well, that's the thing, isn't it?

Medical writing is technical writing, of a sort. Clear, accurate descriptions of the mechanics of sleight of hand is also technical writing. English can describe either, but it takes specific technical terms used properly ("jargon") to do so, and to someone who isn't versed in the jargon, it will sound clunky or even unintelligible.

If you want it to be easy to read and to write, it probably won't do the job with the specificity required.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 17th, 2015, 9:52 pm

Thumb
First Finger
Second Finger
Third Finger
Fourth Finger (or Pinky)

Pretty straightforward and clear.

Classic Palm
Finger Palm
Low Finger Palm
High Finger Palm
Thumb Palm
Tenkai Back Pinch
Back Clip
Front Clip
Purse Palm
Deep Back Clip
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Harry Lorayne » June 18th, 2015, 12:57 am

Hey Leo Garet - can you cite one place where I used that example of yours? I mean the digit 2 and the symbol for clubs - which I have no idea how to do. Perhaps someone who was laying out a book of mine did something like that. Please point it out for me. And - I don't think anyone has a problem understanding my writing/explanations, etc. Best - Harry L.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Gordon Meyer » June 18th, 2015, 7:58 am

Arcane abbreviations serve no one but the lazy writer. The point of describing a process is to educate and clarify, not obfuscate. (Professional technical writer and instructional designer, here.) --Gordon

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 18th, 2015, 10:12 am

Hey Harry, good to see you back.

Harry and I use different ways of referring to playing cards. I pretty much always write out the full name, while Harry often uses AD for Ace of Diamonds, and 9C for Nine of Clubs, and so on.
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 18th, 2015, 10:18 am

Matthew Field wrote:In Chess, there is simply a sequence of moves which is recorded....


How then to write of a moment where one player moves and the other player sees something different while the audience sees a third event? We're getting close to a technical discussion with:
you do/prop result/they see/they infer
parallel descriptions.
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Matthew Field » June 18th, 2015, 11:54 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:How then to write of a moment where one player moves and the other player sees something different while the audience sees a third event?


Chess notation does not take into account inferences, just what's on the board, and everybody sees the same thing. The fact that the notation does not permit of those inferences is, perhaps, a lack in the notation. This is part of why such notation is insuffucient to describe the teaching of magical effects.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Leo Garet » June 18th, 2015, 12:14 pm

Harry Lorayne wrote:Hey Leo Garet - can you cite one place where I used that example of yours? I mean the digit 2 and the symbol for clubs - which I have no idea how to do. Perhaps someone who was laying out a book of mine did something like that. Please point it out for me. And - I don't think anyone has a problem understanding my writing/explanations, etc. Best - Harry L.


Hey Harry Lorayne.
No I can’t. I thought I could. But I can’t. I had an idea it was in BOF and/or BOF (2), but the mist is clearing and it looks as if I’ve mis-remembered—I do that a lot.
I was thinking of the 2C, KH kind of thing that Mister Kaufman cites. I’m not over-fond of this notation either, but, curiously and unlike the A♣ - 4♥ - 7♠ - K♦ - 4♥ business, I don’t have any problem with it.

I first came across this particular brand of shorthand in CUCM and PS and MFCT back in the Yesterday. Yes, the original Tannen editions. I should add that’s as far as I recall, and you must be getting some idea of what my memory is like. All this despite having read HTDASPM back in the late fifties

Incidentally, for the record, I never at any time said that I have any problems understanding your “writing/explanations, etc”. After the relatively dry school textbook style of, for example, The Royal Road, CUCCM was a breath of air. Still is. Also for the record, I said as much in Abra, many, many, many moons and Summers ago.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby AJM » June 18th, 2015, 1:08 pm

I've read HTDASPM too - great book!
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Ian Kendall » June 18th, 2015, 1:35 pm

I think that the different writing styles in magic help to create some diversity in a world that is mostly technical prose.

If you examine the output of the more prolific writers you will notice a consistency within one writer's work, but it's very rare to have two writers that sound (or read) the same. This is a good thing.

One thing to see, though, is that a couple of the more prominent places where abbreviations are used more than normal are both handwritten; the Crimp and the Cervon Notebooks.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 18th, 2015, 1:44 pm

Leo Garet wrote:... came across this particular brand of shorthand in CUCM and PS and MFCT back in the Yesterday.[snip] read HTDASPM...


Is there a preferred site for URL linking book titles?
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Brad Jeffers » June 18th, 2015, 1:45 pm

Leo Garet wrote: it was in BOF and/or BOF (2) ...
... in CUCM and PS and MFCT ... despite having read HTDASPM
... CUCCM was a breath of air.


The clarity that your use of initialism brings to your post is the same kind of clarity that a standard set of notations would impart to the written description of card magic.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Brad Jeffers » June 18th, 2015, 2:23 pm

Matthew Field wrote:Chess notation does not take into account inferences, just what's on the board, and everybody sees the same thing.

You're not taking into account these chess notations, which do indeed reflect inferences and opinions.
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Bill Mullins » June 18th, 2015, 2:45 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:
Leo Garet wrote: it was in BOF and/or BOF (2) ...
... in CUCM and PS and MFCT ... despite having read HTDASPM
... CUCCM was a breath of air.


The clarity that your use of initialism brings to your post is the same kind of clarity that a standard set of notations would impart to the written description of card magic.


Initialisms only provide clarity if you know what they stand for. I knew BOF (Best of Friends) and CUCM (Close Up Card Magic). I had to look up PS (Personal Secrets), MFCT (My Favorite Card Tricks), and HTDASPM (How to Develop a Super Power Memory). I don't know what CUCCM is. I suspect it is a typo for CUCM.

CUCCM shows where initialisms and other shorthand notations can reduce clarity -- they are not as invulnerable to errors. If someone writes "Pursonal Secrets" instead of "Personal Secrets," you still know what they were talking about. If they write PQ instead of PS, it can be much harder to interpret. Normal English is somewhat error-correcting.

My normal job is as an engineer for the Army. Goodness knows the government, particularly the Army, can overuse acronyms and initialisms. But standard formats, templates, style guides and "go-bys" always require that initialisms be spelled out the first time they are used in a document, and large documents (test reports, etc.) will have a list at the end where they are defined again.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby erdnasephile » June 18th, 2015, 3:01 pm

HTDASPM? Yikes! I feel like I'm reading my kid's text messages!

Off on a slightly related tangent: here is another abbreviation abomination the age of Twitter has wrought:

http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-enter ... 15353.html

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 18th, 2015, 3:17 pm

Initialisms are fine as long as the first (and parenthetic) use is directly after a full spelling of what is being initialized subsequently in the rest of the text. To wit:

"Close-up Card Magic (CUCM) is one of my favorite books on the subject. It was from CUCM that I first leaned the Faro Shuffle."

Using an initialism without that basic rule is assuming that the reader knows what you are referencing and is, in my opinion, bad and lazy writing. Even when I have done so.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Harry Lorayne » June 18th, 2015, 3:42 pm

Hi Richie: I write out the card's full name when it is between quotes, which is proper. I occasionally do not, when I feel the write-up is already long enough! Trying to save a bit of space.

I would tend to doubt very much that ANYONE interested in card magic would not understand AD, 4C, 10S, KH, and so on.

And my ego won't let me abbreviate the titles of my books! I want to be sure everyone knows just what I'm talking about!

I so enjoyed your "response" post, Leo. Thanks for same.
Best - Harry L.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Richard Kaufman » June 18th, 2015, 7:43 pm

It's not merely a question of understanding, but of the sound of the writing. I always write out the full name of a playing card, and generally avoid acronyms, for that reason--they kill the musicality of language.
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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Harry Lorayne » June 19th, 2015, 10:47 am

Of course, I'm well aware of the rhythm of the writing. There's no way I'd use, say, "4C" when I know that "four of clubs" maintains the rhythm. It's interesting - so I've been told, anyway - I can't carry a tune in a basket (I was a "listener" as a boy in school!) but I never think of the rhythm when I write; seems it's pretty automatic then - and I've been told that my rhythm is just fine.

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Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Leo Garet » June 19th, 2015, 10:50 am

Brad Jeffers wrote:
Leo Garet wrote: it was in BOF and/or BOF (2) ...
... in CUCM and PS and MFCT ... despite having read HTDASPM
... CUCCM was a breath of air.


The clarity that your use of initialism brings to your post is the same kind of clarity that a standard set of notations would impart to the written description of card magic.

So much for subtlety. ;)
That’s exactly the reason I used the shorthand in my post.

Mister Mullins. Fully agree. See above. Even SNAFU is subject to different interpretations. Where I live it means shuffled normally all face up.

Mister Lorayne: Hello Again and Thankyou.

As a matter of interest to no one but myself, whenever I wish to reference Close-Up Card Magic, as I do from time to time, I type cucm and the spellchecker replacement option transforms it to Close-Up Card Magic; eact becomes Expert At The Card Table; ect is Expert Card Technique.
Whenever I type acoc, I get ace of clubs; jacoh comes out as jack oh hearts; spec becomes spectator; ec becomes Elmsley Count; chsd…..well guess what.

For anyone still awake, this saves both typing tyme and cutz down on tie-pin errors, too witch I am prone. I have umpteen others, and the whole thing has developed over umpteen years. It’s entirely personal and I wouldn’t inflict any of this on others; except (clearly) in the current and similar circumstances.

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Brad Jeffers
Posts: 1099
Joined: April 11th, 2008, 5:52 pm
Location: Savannah, GA

Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Brad Jeffers » June 19th, 2015, 2:24 pm

Leo Garet wrote:So much for subtlety. ;)
That’s exactly the reason I used the shorthand in my post.


Leo,
For some reason, I was thinking you were the original poster, when I posted my reply. That is, I thought you were the one advocating for this standard notation nonsense. As such, I thought you were shooting yourself in the foot with your initialism post.

Now that I realize you were not the original poster, your intent (subtle as a flying brick) becomes clear.

Leo Garet
Posts: 447
Joined: March 14th, 2015, 9:14 am
Favorite Magician: Nobody In Particular

Re: Question for Richard re: Standard Notation for Card Mag

Postby Leo Garet » June 20th, 2015, 10:43 am

Brad
I guessed it was something it like that, hence the winking-blinking-eyed smiley.


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