The Truth about Lying

The Truth about Lying 1

“Magic consists mostly of bald-faced lies. I think if you don’t lie like a bandit, you don’t have the remotest chance of entertaining and fooling your audience.” 
– Geoff Latta, The Long Goodbye

My friend Peter Samelson posted the above quote on his Facebook page; it stimulated some discussion. Lies (and the ability to tell them convincingly) are part of the conjurer’s toolbox. A magician who chooses not to lie eschews an important layer of deception.


The Story Behind the Palming Series

The Story Behind the Palming Series 0

Looking back on the skill sets I’ve used to make a living during my life (magic, jazz piano, writing/editing), I realize that most of what I know about those subjects I figured out by myself, without any formal training. I did have an excellent high school English teacher my senior year; I received degrees in music theory and composition; and my time spent with Harry Riser was invaluable. But I grew up isolated in a farming community in the middle of Indiana; books were my mentors, and I studied everything I could get my hands on. As I absorbed that information, I was also unconsciously absorbing the process of learning how to teach myselfthe information.

My father provided inspiration as I did this. He came from industry, and for twenty-two years he taught in the mechanical engineering technology department at the Purdue campus in Indianapolis. His great gift was as a teacher; he understood how to break down information and impart it effectively. I learned from his example.

Just because someone does something well doesn’t mean that person can explain the process. I found this especially true in the case of jazz musicians, who often simply play what they hear. They can do it, but they can’t tell you how to do it. More important, they can’t break it down so you can learn how to do it.

When I first began lecturing for magicians, I was extremely dissatisfied with my efforts. Chuck Fayne took me aside after one lecture and said,

Turn your Manuscript, Book, or Lecture Notes into an Ebook

Turn your Manuscript, Book, or Lecture Notes into an Ebook 0

For almost twenty years, Lisa and I have released material in an electronic format. Our first attempt, Learn the In-the-hands Faro Shuffle, was a simple menu-based program with text, photographs, and videos; it was released in 2001 on a CD-ROM (anybody remember those?).

In 2006, we released Closely Guarded Secrets as a PDF file with embedded video. With each subsequent release, we have pushed the envelope in regard to form and functionality. With our current publications (The Paradigm Shift Volumes One and Two and The Road to Riffsville), we now include an EPUB file, which allows the ebooks to be comfortably read on an iPad or an Android tablet. 

This now combines the experience of reading a tree-based book with the tremendous value of having supplemental video instantly available.

No one else in magic is producing content at this level. We are convinced it is the most effective training method, second only to personal instruction.

And now, we’d like to share our expertise with you.

Do No Harm

Do No Harm 2

“Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest.” – Mark Twain

A few days ago, my name was mentioned in a post on a chat group on Facebook. Apparently, some years ago, I expressed my unhappiness that magicians were appropriating jokes, lines, and routines I had not yet published. This post sparked a discussion. I entered and then withdrew from that discussion (and from the chat group), but I did have a few thoughts on the subject, which I would like to offer to you now.

Way back in 1993, I wrote an essay titled, “Ethics,” which I published in Workers 3. Here’s a portion of it:

There has been much discussion lately concern­ing ethical behavior, but for the most part the people doing the writing and talking are the creative people in magic, the people who have the most to lose from thievery. This makes perfect sense; after all, if your house is empty, the last thing you will worry about is being ripped off.

Consider the following scenario: Pretend you are a craftsman

  • Michael Close
  • Tags: Ethics
The Road to The Road to Riffsville

The Road to The Road to Riffsville 3

road to riffsville
I had not planned on writing 
The Road to Riffsville. I was spurred to action by the confluence of three events, which I’d like to share with you now.

Because I am an old father, when Ava came into my life I made the decision to limit my time away from home. This meant limiting my lecture, convention, and performing appearances. I wanted to be a stay-at-home dad. Fortunately, my work as a magazine editor allowed me to do that.

Because I wasn’t performing often, I had less contact with the routines I used to perform on a daily basis. This, as it turns out, is a good thing. When routines become second nature, it is too easy to overlook flaws in their construction. (This is the mental equivalent of blinking when you execute a sleight.) Consequently, when I now watch videos of my earlier performances, it is as if my
  • Michael Close
My Most Memorable Convention

My Most Memorable Convention 1

Magic conventions give us the opportunity to meet up with old friends and to make new friends. They also let us “rub shoulders” with big names in the magic world and watch dealers pitching their latest miracles.

The organizers of conventions try to pack the schedule with memorable shows and lectures. But for me, the things I remember most are the events that weren’t scheduled. Here’s one of them, a performance by Bob Read at the I.B.M. convention in Quebec City, Quebec, in 1995. (This story was originally included in That Reminds Me.)

This convention was an organizational disaster. The staff of the convention hotel had gone on strike just before the convention started. The dealer’s room (usually an area that serves as a social focal point of a convention) was hidden away deep in the

  • Michael Close