Bob Farmer Manuscripts
Reviews by Michael Close
Full disclosure: I am an enormous fan of Bob Farmer’s creative output. I have read and studied almost everything Bob has published, and I’ve used several of his routines in my professional work.
Two words I would use to describe Bob’s approach to creating magic are thoroughness and deviousness. The first word is exemplified in his superb (and now hard to find) book The Bammo Ten Card Deal Dossier, which dug deeper into this plot than you would have thought possible. Those of you who subscribed to MAGIC magazine may remember Bob’s long-running “Flim Flam” column, which was an encyclopedia of bar bets, swindles, and scams. (Word on the street is the Flim Flam material will eventually end up in book form.) When Bob latches onto a plot, he researches it to the nth degree; this due diligence lays the groundwork for his own experimentation. Bob has a particular knack in bringing together disparate principles and techniques, combining them in a way that can only be described as devious.
While I was the editor of M-U-M, I ran a column of Bob’s material under the title, “El Roberto Enigmatico.” These columns eventually became a chapter in The Paradigm Shift Volume 1. During my lectures during 2004-2006 I performed a routine called Sideswiped Meets the Bammo Card Walloper (see Closely Guarded Secrets), which combined a Simon Aronson’s Sideswiped with Bob Farmer’s Bammo Card Walloper. It fooled everybody, including Bob, which gives you some idea of how good Bob’s tricks are.
If you’re familiar with any of the Farmer creations mentioned above, you don’t need any prompting from me to invest in his products. For everyone else, I thought I’d give you a brief review of three fairly recent items Bob has released.
The Bammo Gaffus Maximus ($30) is a great way to get familiar with the Farmer approach to card magic. The “Gaffus” here specifically refers to gaffed decks. In the Introduction, Bob writes, “There is nothing sweeter than a gaffed deck that does something amazing, something that cannot be duplicated in any other way. A deck of cards looks so innocent, and is such a common object, that when it is converted into a wolf in sheep’s clothing, the audience becomes an easy meal for the predatory wolf pack.” Bob offers twenty-one effects, all but one use cleverly gaffed decks (the exception only needs a single gaffed card); happily, you will find the construction of most of the decks to be an easy task.
Most of the routines in The Bammo Gaffus Maximus are mental effects, either the prediction of a thought-of card or the divination of a thought-of card. Bob puts these plots through interesting twists and turns. For example, in Another Psychological Discovery (the first trick in the book), a card freely selected by a spectator unerringly finds the card merely thought of by a second spectator. The principle used in this effect is expanded upon in The Ten-card Inquisition, allowing the performer to read the minds of three spectators with a minimum of fuss. (Incidentally, if you are familiar with the ploy I use in Myopia (Workers 5), you can turn the opening question into a statement.) Gaffus Maximus extracts even more from the principles presented in the first two tricks. Not only can the magician name and spell to the thought-of card, it turns out to be the only card in the deck with a red back.
Several effects make use of Card-Shark’s Double-Decker deck. This has become a popular prop in the past few years. Bob offers some angles on it you probably haven’t thought of. Bob also tackles the following effect: The spectator thinks of any card. The three mates of that card are removed from the deck. The named card is not there; in its place is a double-blank card. The named card has ceased to exist. You’ll be amazed at the various ways Bob solves the problems inherent in this effect.
There are many more effects in The Bammo Gaffus Maximus, but I want to bring particular attention to two of my favorites: Svenvoodoo and Déjà Voodoo 2.0. I have used both these effects over the years, and both have never failed to baffle both laymen and magicians. The props will require a little more work to prepare, but trust me, the results are worth it.
In the Introduction, Bob mentions one more important thing you should know about this book (and this applies to all of Bob’s tricks): “Don’t be intimidated by the detailed instructions. Once you have made the decks, learning the tricks will be easy. Performance is almost self-working.” Bob’s material relies more on a familiarization with the procedures involved, rather than advanced digital dexterity. Take the time to make up the props and then work through the instructions with the props in hand. Work out a presentation that fits you (Bob offers suggestions for every routine) and unleash your awesome power on an unsuspecting world.
The other two manuscripts listed at the top of this article are shorter; each focuses on one effect. In The Mind Reader Encephalonic Dossier ($20), the spectator thinks of any card in the deck. The magician reveals that card efficiently. The Red Prediction ($12.50) is an exploration of Dai Vernon’s Mental Die effect. As expected, Bob takes the trick to new levels of deceptiveness.
Here’s the bottom line: You really can’t go wrong with any product Bob Farmer releases. His creations move magic forward; there is far too little of that in the marketplace these days. Go to lybrary.com, search on his name, and check out his other offerings. Recommended.