Archive for January, 2008

UK Lecture Tour January/February 2008



In a couple hours I leave for the UK – If you live in the vicinity, come out to see the lecture. Make sure to say hello in person – we’ll have a pint and discuss why the Stones are better than the Beatles.

Special Note: if you can make it to The Session Convention, it’s going to be one hell of a party. If you can’t, there are several more opportunities to see me listed below!

If you’d like to attend a lecture, call Kerry Scorah for details. Some appearances have limited seating, so call now. Kerry’s cell number is 07876 332933.

The Dates

30th January Wellingborough Club Nr Northampton
31st January Hull Magicians Club
1st February Scarborough
4th February Ipswich
5th February Coventry
6th February Leamington Spa
7th February International Magic London number (please call the store directly – 020 7405 7324)


Can’t wait to meet you all! It’s going to be a blast


Lee Asher Comes to Hollywood – All bets are off.

Lee Asher came to Los Angeles last night to visit for a few days. We first became friends when we went to college together, in a town noted for academic rigor – Las Vegas.

In those days, everything centered on close-up magic. Sure, we had classes too. But this wasn’t an ordinary college. In the gaming library, UNLV had a complete collection of Marlo Manuscripts. Allan Ackerman was a professor we could seek out on campus – he had office hours. After class I’d go over to Lee’s apartment, just next to the Hard Rock Hotel. We’d either be practicing, performing or hanging with the best magicians from all over the world. days.

These days the old gang gets together mostly for work related activities – gigs, conventions, magic camp. During work visits, someone’s always leaving the party for two hours to go lecture, or do a show. That sort of thing can really disturb the flow of a session.

Three Days to Blastoff…

Starting next week I’m working constantly for the next month. First, I’ll do half-pass workshops at the Session Convention, followed by a brief lectures series in the UK. Then I’ll return for a few corporate events in Las Vegas, and then return to Los Angeles and the main stage of the Magic Castle. I’m planning to release my new trick, Panic’s little brother, after I return from the UK.

So for the next three days, I’m hanging out with my college buddy, working on magic ideas and trying to build the perfect magic show.

I you want to see me in either the UK or Los Angeles – Here’s are the dates: Drop me any email – then com and say hello!

The Session Convention – January 26,27

The Magic Castle: Palace of Mystery – February 18-24

Bill Goodwin Speaks – Three Classic Magic Books

Less than a week ago, many of you sent questions  for Billy Goodwin, the Magic Castle librarian and one of the finest card men in the world. I promised I would get him to answer one of the questions. Here it is………..

From Dave Atkins

To Mr. Goodwin I would ask: as the librarian of the Magic Castle, if some magician was going to make the library disappear, which three books would you try to save before he did it?

I love this question. We decided, for the sake of this discussion, to assume that the Magic Castle library is the ONLY library in the world. We’re not concerned with a given book’s value on Ebay. We only care about the value of the information inside.

Three books blessed by bill…

Here are Billy’s choices in no particular order. He wanted me to stress that this was a very unfair question. Bill is a librarian. He wants to save ALL the books.

Here they are:

  • Expert Card Technique – Hugard and Braue’s classic text was the second book on card magic  I ever purchased. I still haven’t learned everything in it – frankly, no one has. This book, available in Dover paperback, may provide you more value for the money than any other card book ever written.
  • The Complete Walton Volumes 1 & 2 – Already Billy is cheating here. He found a way to save an extra book. What can you do? Roy Walton is one of the kindest men I’ve ever met.  You’ll go back to this book  constantly over years and it will always offer you something new and give you wood for your practice oven.  It also may be the greatest repository of material regarding cover passes and half passes ever created. If you’re interested in material on these two topics, the Complete Walton should be your first stop.
  • The Complete Works of Alex Elmsley Volumes 1 & 2– Like the last entry, this two volume set compiles the complete works (or close-enough) of one of the great sleight-of-hand minds of all time. If you’re only familiar with Alex Elmsley as the creator of the most used and abused false count in the history of magic, you definitely need to acquire these books. They contain tricks of every size, shape and style – a veritable wealth of information.  Again, this is a book that all serious magic students must read.

The first in a series…

Any time Billy talks about magic he says something worth hearing. I’ll be going back to the original post to pick new questions for Billy to answer when I see him. If you want to add a question to the list, go for it. Here’s a link to the post – go leave a comment. 

If you want to see Billy Goodwin exposed at my place, click here.


Bill Goodwin Exposed – Let’s ask the Oracle

I had a lot of fun with the Bill Goodwin post a couple days ago. After I posted you knew I would be asking Bill Goodwin one of your questions.  Lee Asher knew as well – he even thought it was a good idea. The only reader of this blog not to know anything about our plan to ask Bill Goodwin a mystery question was……well, Bill Goodwin. 

I made the post after Bill left home for his evening’s work at the Magic Castle. On purpose.

Can’t anyone keep a secret anymore?

About 9:30pm, half an hour before Goodwin’s expected arrival, it occurred to me the odds were pretty small that Billy would make it through his entire evening at the castle without talking to a single person who knew what was coming. 

Hanging out in the Castle Library around 8:30, Larry Horowitz decided he had to check his email. He gave Billy the news that some ‘magic star’ was coming to my house later. Thanks Larry – you’re off the list.

Poor Billy spent an hour excited to find out who was going to be here.  When he arrived, boy was he surprised…

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Billy LOVES the spotlight!


I had a hard time getting him to choose a question to answer – he wanted to spend most of his time learning hardcore sleight of hand…..


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Billy Goodwin sure does like the passes, sleights and tricks in The Paper Engine…just look at that smile on his face. He LOVES the new edition.


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In fact, we  had a late night over here. I finally went to bed, and when I awoke to ask Billy one of your questions, I found him truly happy, surrounded by great magic.

The Question 

Billy chose a question by Dave Atkins – for those of you who didn’t have your question asked, don’t worry. Next time Billy comes over he’ll pick a new one – eventually, we’ll squeeze it all out of him. You know how it is with real experts: they tip the secrets – they just do it slowly. Our only worry is that after this kind of embarrassment, Bill decides never to visit again. Here’s the question:

From Dave Atkins –

To Mr. Goodwin I would ask: as the librarian of the Magic Castle, if some magician was going to make the library disappear, which three books would you try to save before he did it?

That’s a great question! We decided to pretend, for the discussion, that the Magic Castle library is the ONLY magic library in the world. Under those circumstances, Mr. Librarian, which three books would you save?

What’s your answer?

Billy answered the question, and I’ll share that answer in my next post. In the meantime, post a comment with YOUR answer. What three books would you save if a giant comet were coming to destroy all the magic books on earth? I can’t wait to see what answers you give!



Aaron Fisher on Tension in Card Magic: an excerpt from The Paper Engine

This is the new edition of The Paper Engine. Scroll down for an excerpt from the book….enjoy!



The paper is still perfect.

The photos are still crisp.

The price is now better than ever.

The Paper engine.

Now available for the first time in Paperback.

Join the Revolution

click here.


 Please Note: This excerpt appears in the book just after the description of the Gravity Half Pass. This is NOT the full description of the Gravity Half Pass – to  fully understand the technique you’ll need the full description. As you read this article think about how the ideas in it relate to your sleight of hand on the whole – not just the perfect half pass.

If The Paper Engine has had any effect on the amount of tension in your card work, post a comment below and tell us about it.


Thoughts and Commentary: The Gravity Half Pass

Tension can be the Achilles heel of any advanced card-worker. Any time a muscle contracts, there is at least a small degree of tension and this can be detected by audiences, if only subconsciously. Most advanced card techniques are highly susceptible to tension. A friend once quipped that he could tell whether a certain card expert was dealing tops, seconds, or bottoms by the number of veins throbbing in his forehead. While this was a mild exaggeration, it was not unfounded. It does not matter that the worker in question has visually deceptive techniques; audiences can feel the tension and instinctively sense trickery. One way to alleviate tension in the performance of sleight-of-hand is through design.


The best way to remove muscle tension is to eliminate the muscle’s participation in the action — find another way to get the job done. For example, assume you are standing on the roof of a building, holding a set of keys. If your goal is to loan the keys to your friend on the sidewalk below, you can either carry them down or drop them to him. It is more efficient to drop an object than to carry it. Several items in this book (including the half pass) allow gravity to manipulate the cards, keeping the manipulation on the performer’s part to a minimum.


As the sleight commences and the cards begin to revolve, the only pressure exerted is that necessary to modulate the action. One doesn’t want to lose control, or go too fast, or not stop at the right time. Pressure is only exerted to focus the moving energy — energy initiated by gravity. This is similar to the steering technique my driving instructor called controlled slippage. Turning the wheel while going into a turn can require difficult, hand-over-hand action. Muscles pull, readjust, and then pull again. Coming out of a turn, however, is far easier. One no longer has to pull, but only allow the wheel to adjust.


Humans should not trifle with the forces of nature. As Spalding Gray quoted Athol Fugard in Swimming to Cambodia, The sea’s a lovely lady when you play in her, but, if you play with her, she’s a bitch.” keep this in mind if you choose to invoke natural forces, such as gravity in your technique, great care should be taken in the initiation of the reversal (the left-hand action). In a standard handling, with the left fingers reversing the cards, pressure can be added or released as needed. In this method there is only one chance to release your control over the packet and then only one chance to re-establish it.


The gravity half pass should never be rushed. If the sleight is hurried, the pack tends to overshot the right palm entirely. This sort of thing is to be avoided, so take care. Gravity is your friend, but it can also kill.


Those interested in further study of the half pass should know that perhaps the greatest exponent of half-pass applications is Scotland’s famed card expert, Roy Walton. His routines with both the standard half pass and his spread half pass are vital explorations into the subject. Careful study of his work is mandatory for any serious student of card magic.


Bill Goodwin – Card Magic Beyond Belief. If you could ask him one question…what would it be?


Billy and I backstage before a gig in Tokyo!


Bill Goodwin is not only the resident librarian at The Magic Castle – He’s also one of my favorite card men in the world. For real.

His touch with cards, simply put, cannot be duplicated. Billy can take ideas which scare any sensible card man and make them look elegant and deceptive. On top of that, Bill goes on the short list of most-well read magicians alive (along with Max Maven and only a few others). If you meet Billy, don’t tell him I said those things – he’ll kick my ass for blowing his cover.


Here’s your Challenge…

Billy’s stopping by my place tonight after work. If you have one great question you would like to ask him, drop a comment after this post. I will read the questions that have arrived by 10pm pacific time tonight, and I’ll ask Billy to answer the best one. Of course, my taste is perfectly subjective, and I’m likely to choose the question which will  benefit the most readers.

So write your question with care – it just might be your personal introduction to one of the greatest card experts in the world.

He’ll be here in five hours. Get to work!

Card Magic in the Middle East

I spent last thanksgiving in the south of Israel on the banks of the red sea – we had turkey shawarma, no gravy.

Silly Billy, Josh Jay, Thom Peterson and I performed and lectured at Roei Zaltzman’s convention, Magic on the Red Sea (MARS). Our hosts were kind and gracious. The audiences laughed and came to be entertained. The board of tourism even gave us our own tour guide for two days after convention. It was a fantastic experience.

Though I gave my first magic lecture ten years ago, trips like this make me remember that magic can take you to incredible places. Take a look!


Not bad for a working weekend, eh?


Here I am with Josh Jay. He showed me some of the best close-up ideas I’ve seen all year. In the ten years I’ve known Josh, he’s become an incredible magician.


This is Ariel, my scuba instructor. I’d never been under water with a tank before, and it was even crazier than I’d imagined. Eilat is known for it’s diving and now I know why – it was like real magic.


This was taken after a performance for some local teens. Many people don’t know that Israel has compulsory military service – at age 18, everyone joins the army. These kids weren’t allowed to put their rifles down, even to select cards! While I’ve never performed for such a heavily armed audience, I have to say they were a lot of fun…and they love ambitious card.


Josh Jay took this and the next photo. He’s one of those guys that actually aims the camera first. Behind me is the Dome of the Rock. Am I flashing?


As you can tell from the cropping on this photo, I was definitely flashing in this shot.


I’ve known Josh and David Kaye (aka Silly Billy) for a long time now. But the two other guys in this photo were revelations. In the middle stands Thom Peterson. He performed and lectured at the convention. He hasn’t performed at many conventions – he’s too busy working cruise ships and corporate events out there in the big bad world. His magic and charm were both top notch. He’s got two videos out on the market right now, and they’re filled with audience tested, practical material.

The fellow on the left is Menny Lindenfeld. You may already have some of his many original effects on the market. If you don’t, you likely will soon. His clipboard is a wonder to behold.


Here’s a picture of my grandpa Melvin at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Uh..sorry. That’s Thom.


What did you get for Hanukkah this year kids? I got the SCUBA SUIT SILLY BILLY PLAYSET. It’s AWESOME!


That’s Roei Zaltsman on the right. He’s a card man, mentalist, TV personality and the organizer of the convention – He put on one hell of a conference.