Posted: Mar 28, 2007 7:59pm
Woody and Ramon Rioboo are two of the top guys in the world in SACT and both were featured with one-man chapters in the most recent volumes of SACT. Woody (like everyone else who seems to be stopping by) is having a little fun with me. I've cut and pasted the intro to the chapter on Spanish card magicians from the last volume below - it sums up my problems with Spanish as a language, and... well, cojones.
Meanwhile Woody - I will be there and I'll have a truckload of new stuff to show you. Take care, mi amigo.
[From SACT VI]
I am not very good with foreign languages. Lately, I have submerged myself in situations where familiarity with other languages would have been more than a little helpful. Take, for example, the annual gathering in El Escorial, Spain. About 40 wonderful magicians mostly from Spain, with a fair representation from South America and the rest of Europe, descend on the small mountain village of El Escorial to discuss card magic. Leave your square circles, ropes, and dice at home. This is a man’s domain where pasteboards are dealt and testosterone flows. Obviously, despite our shared passion for the pasteboards, there are times when there are going to be misunderstandings and miscommunications.
Take, for example, my shortcuts to learning new languages. In lieu of actually learning Spanish, I discovered that you can add an "O" to any American word and precede it with an "el" to generate its Spanish equivalent. I sounded downright native as I impressed the locals in the line by requesting "el ticketo for el traino." Slapping "por favor" onto the end of random sentences completed the illusion.
Of course my method is not without its down sides. My newfound prowess with Spanish took a hit when I was told after one of the shows that my patter had featured my cutting to the 4 toilets (“aseos”).
And this type of faux paux (notice how I can leap languages when I have access to the world wide web and a spell checker) is even more understandable when you realize that on random occasions throughout the weekend, there would be (for example) an Italian who only knew Italian, wishing to exchange magic ideas with an American who only knew English. The Italian magician would speak to another Italian who knew Spanish, who would convey the information to a Spanish magician who understood Italian, who might further have to convey it to another Spanish magician who knew English who would wake up the American to finish the original Italian monolog which now had evolved into something to do with camels in the artic.
This might explain my desire to sit next to Roberto Giobbi at the gathering. Having majored in languages in school, he can pick a card in six different languages. Then again, perhaps had he used the time he spent learning foreign languages concentrating on the language of the pasteboards, we would have had another half dozen volumes of Card College.
But just so you know, it’s not my fault. Like other European languages, Spanish suffers from nouns with genders. Yes, if someone can explain to me why a bell – with a ding dong – is a female, then perhaps I'll go along with this ruse. Europeans thínk of themselves as more open minded than Americans but the good ole English has long been tolerant of homosexual nouns.
In 2005, I was determined to learn Spanish prior to going to Spain. I enrolled in a Spanish class. On the very first day, I received my money’s worth. You see, when I started visiting Spain on a regular basis, I tried learning (or speaking without learning) the basic phrases in Spanish. And of course the most basic phrase is asking someone whether they speak English so we could immediately drop the charade that I had any clue what I was doing.
On my first visit, I wanted to ask everyone that question right after I delivered a perfectly executed, “Buenos Dias” at 10:00 p.m. I recalled that I had heard the desired phrase used on television and it sounded like “Hablo Englis?” or “Habla Englis?.” I decided that it didn’t really matter which one I used as they were obviously the same question. So, I chose “Hablo” assuming everyone would agree with me that it sounded better than “Habla” and used that on all subsequent visits. On my first day of Spanish class, I found out that there is just a smidgeon’s worth of difference between the two. For the last five years, I have been walking around Spain asking people if I speak English.
If you are wondering why I'm so testy regarding my Spanish, it's because I made a major blunder in 2003 at the Escorial gathering. Jerry Andrus was one of the topics being studied and he happened to be a guest as well. I printed up a small pamphlet to give to the attendees featuring two of my own effects that had been inspired by Jerry. Jerry's card work is known for requiring a high skill level so I titled the booklet, "Cards and Cajones."
Now you may wonder, as did the 35 attendees, what cards and drawers have in common with Jerry's card magic. You might think that "cojones" (with an "o") would have made more sense. But, I ask you, where does one keep his cojones if not in his drawers?