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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Shuffled not Stirred » » Difficulty with the Mnemonica book and assorted questions. (20 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Profile of Chris.Z
Yes I did check the FAQ. ;-)
I guess what I'm looking for is more specific?

Ok, so I got a wild hair and memorized the stack, seemed like a good tool to add.
I get, broadly how one could use a mem-deck. I had also picked up Recall by Tom Crosbie.
I had difficulty with his Shadow stack but I enjoyed some of his ideas, I picked up the Mnemonica book
and figured, well, to do the effects I need to memorize the stack, so I did that first.
Now upon attempting to read the book, I'm having trouble.
I am not a card guy.
I believe I have a solid foundation, moderate skill, and at least intermediate level understanding.
WTF(ork) is a quadruple anti-faro? Seriously I've never heard of half of the things Mr. Tamariz mentions in
the first chapter of the book, (in faros, multiple other wonky shuffles) It's like Greek. I don't know what language
he's writing in but I can't read it.
I memorized the stack only to find out I need to convert it to some sort of stay-stack? What's a stay-stack?
If it stayed stacked how come the order changed?
I haven't even gotten to the "tricks" yet, I can't understand the intro. Not sure how to go about working with this.

Is Mnemonica one of those books that's not meant to be read front to back but inside outways?
Like is there a glossary I can access? Is there a Mnemonica for dummies?

So, question one I guess, is how can I make understanding the "few simple shuffles" necessary (for some reason)
Easier to access?

Question two may be a bit more vague. I am wondering if with all the shuffling going on and rotating of stack orders and such
are there landmark cards that are used or found or oriented from more regularly than others?
For example, I assume finding the King of Diamonds (#26 ) the midway point ((right?)) often and easily would come in handy,
are there others?

I'm really genuinely intrigued by mem-deck work, I just can't decipher the Tamariz manual. I am thinking about getting the DVD
set as a companion. I think it would help me to see the shuffling and mixing he's talking about.
So, question 3, does anyone feel the DVD's are worth the investment?

Memorizing the stack was supposed to be the hard part.

Thanks for the help.
David Numen
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Profile of David Numen
I think you need to go back to the book and read it slowly, chapter by chapter. If you don't understand something, look it up. It's extremely easy, for example, to google "faro shuffle" and "anti faro". There really isn't anything esoteric in the book and I think you're just letting yourself be overwhelmed by some of the terminology. Don't, because 90% of the stuff in the book is direct and simple. The technical stuff is cool but by no means necessary. I seem to recall everything you actually need to just go out and do memdeck tricks is perfectly well explained in the book.

I could tell you the answer to all your questions but it really is more meaningful and actually more fun to work it out yourself. I had never heard of a stay stack before reading the book. It was easy to work out what it meant just by looking at the patterns in the cards but again...it's not even necessary to use the stay stack. Part of most works on memdeck involve squeezing the most out of any given stack and that's what Juan has done with his mighty tome. There's still a wealth of material in there without understanding anti-faros etc.

A lot of memdeck workers do put some kind of *work* into the 26th card - or other strategic positions - so they can get to it quickly.

The DVDs - yeah, it's always good to see things in action but I woudn't say they were a necessity.
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Profile of Chris.Z
Can someone actually define "Stay stack"?

What's the point of it, what does it do, why change one order for a second?

I get Shuffled
I get New Deck order
I get Mnemonica

What is the point and purpose of "stay stack"? Why do I want to muck about with stay stack in a book named Mnemonica?

Near as I can tell it's like halfway between New Deck order and Mnemonica?

*Edited to add:
I am not having fun, and I am not working it out for myself.
I don't get it, it's frustrating.
I'm not asking questions because I'm bored.
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Profile of sgtgrey
It's OK, Chris! It sounds to me like you jumped into the deep end of the pool without first having studied much about stacks in general. That's OK, it just means you've got some catching up to do first before much of this material is going to make sense. But don't worry, it's really not that difficult once you understand the concepts and building blocks of memorized deck magic.

Stay stack is a type of cyclical stack in which the cards seem to "mirror" one another. For example, if the AC is the 1st card, the 52nd card is the AS, the 2nd and 51st cards are mates, and so on until the 26th and 27th cards. Such a deck with this pairing property is unique in a few ways. One feature is that it can be faro shuffled and it will still be in stay stack order. It is a stack that many use to create unique matching routines - ideas can be seen in effects from Mnemonica, Max Maven's Redivider, and Patrick Redford's new memorized deck book Temporarily Out of Order (watch the title effect of this on youtube to get a sense of things stay stack and memorized deck work together can accomplish). Overall, the fact that Stay Stack is accessible from Mnemonica is just a built-in feature of the pack, and not one that needs to be used. There are many other interesting things you can do with it, as seen here: http://www.conjuringarchive.com/list/category/1215

Faros and Anti-Faros have an appendix at the end of the book, but you may also find plenty of info with a simple search online. It'll be faster for you to search for info that's already been laid out than to have it explained in-depth here, but I can give a brief idea to you. A perfect faro shuffle is just a shuffle in which the cards are weaved from two halves one for one. If the bottom card stays on the bottom and the top card stays on top, it is considered an "out" faro, and if the bottom and top card change, it is an "in" faro (i.e. the top card went "in" the deck to position #2, as opposed to an out faro where the top card stays on the "outside" of the deck in position #1). A straddle faro involves packets of different sizes, where one packet's top and bottom cards remain on the top and bottom of the shuffled deck, thus "straddling" the other cards. One other important concept here is the idea is that if you do 8 perfect out faros, you end back where you started in the order of the deck.

An anti-faro is simply a dealing procedure on the table that does the reverse action of a faro (i.e. if you do a faro and follow it up with a single anti-faro deal, you will end up where you started). Check appendix V on pg. 319 for more info on double, triple, quadruple anti-faros and more. Simply put, if you do 4 out faros followed by a quadruple anti-faro, you end up right where you started. Hence the name "anti-faro" as it does the opposite of a faro.

Hopefully this info helps.
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Profile of Waterloophai
Don't be frustrated about the "stay stack". You don't need it for doing good memdeck work.
It's one of those features they talk about and when you ask "Give me 3 GOOD tricks that are based on it and that you do regularly", there is a big silence...
I am more than 15 yaers into memorized deck magic and I have done not one trick that was based on it.
I am not saying that in can not be useful. I'm saying that you don't need it to do (other) wonderful memdeck work. It is just not indispensable.
9 out of 10, it's usually used to find "the mate" of a card. (which I find not impressive - but that's a personal opinion)
It's an order where cards (pairs) mirror each other.
Just skip that chapter (for the moment) and enjoy the rest of Mnemonica !
If you absolutely want to know more:
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Hey Chris,

I understand your consternation. Memorized deck magic is advanced stuff. In general, a memorized deck amplifies the skills that you already have. If you don't have skills, you're just amplifying a bunch of noise.

Don't worry about stay stacks, faros, anti-faros, or stack structure. Try focusing on a small subset of the information in the book. I'd recommend the following:

1. Chapter 3 - Make sure you've learned the stack. (That is, given a number you immediately know its card, given a card you immediately know its number, given a card you immediately know its predecessor and successor.)
2. Work on some estimation skills. The stack acts as an 'open index,' to use Simon Aronson's term. You need to be able to get to any card in the deck in an efficient way. You might want to scallop short the top card so you can cut it easily to the top. (Or, put a breather crimp in the bottom card.) Then, practice cutting to each card in the deck, starting with the Ace of Spades, the Two of Spades, etc.
3. While you're working on the skills described in 2, go to page 79, and learn how to do a divination routine. This won't require the estimation skills, but it will help you gain confidence with the stack.
4. Once you've attained some estimation skills, work on false mixes. False shuffles and false cuts are an important part of memorized deck work. You can find lot of good information in Card College and other sources. I'd recommend one good tabled riffle shuffle (Zarrow shuffle, push-through shuffle, etc), and one shuffle that can be done in the hands without a table (Optical shuffle, Truffle shuffle, etc).
5. Take a look at the Prediction effect on page 91. This amazing trick will use your estimation skills and a pass. (You do a classic pass or Steve Draun's Midnight Shift, right? If not, it's time to start working on a pass.)
6. Finally, once you're attained the necessary bravery, take a look at Mnemonicosis, starting on page 97. It's Dai Vernon's Trick That Can't Be Explained, but on steroids. (You are familiar with the Vernon trick, right? If not, you've got some work to do.)

Of course, if you already have great card chops, you'll know which advice to ignore. Good luck!
"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."

-Leonard Bernstein
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Profile of landmark
To the OP:

Tamariz's book is very good, but the explanations of the effects sometimes read as outline notes or suggestions rather than step by step detailed instructions.

I would suggest picking up one of Aronson's books such as Simply Simon for killer effects and some of the best teaching I've seen in a magic book.
Steven Keyl
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It's not often that I disagree with landmark, but I think Mnemonica is a better first choice. Simply Simon is a wonderful book and I've been using a number of its routines for many years. Great book.

Mnemonica, however, is completely about memdeck work. It includes not only a wider variety of effects, but includes information on false shuffles, ways to maintain the stack, how to effectively use a half-stack, etc. It's a more in-depth treatment of memdeck magic.

Of course, if you start down this rabbit hole, you'll end up with all of the Tamariz and Aronson memdeck stuff, and it's all worth your time and attention. Best of luck to you.
Steven Keyl - The Human Whisperer!

Come visit Magic Book Report.com!

"If you ever find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause, and reflect." --Mark Twain
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Agreed; you'll end up with all of Tamariz and Aronson stuff about the memdeck. It's probably worth taking a look at Michael Close's stuff in Workers 5 as well.
"To achieve great things, two things are needed: a plan and not quite enough time."

-Leonard Bernstein
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Profile of Ahlichs
I believe he explains the anti-faros pretty early on. There is also a great appendix in the back that has instructions for a lot of slights that he either references or finds useful.

I wouldn't get hung up on the stay stack stuff.
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Profile of ThaGenius
As someone else that was having similar issues with “Mnemonica”, (I knew what a Faro shuffle was but Stay-Stack order and why I would need a method to get into or out of it eluded me.), I just want to say thank you to everyone who explained these and other concepts of mem-deck work and Mnemonica in this post! It was a big help and gave me a much clearer understanding!
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Profile of Chris.Z
*Update, believe I had a breakthrough with the book. I feel like I get it now.
Thank you.
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This is a great intro and overview to mem deck written by one of the masters himself

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So is the Mnemonica “stay stack” considered a “rosary stack”? I’m asking because I really like Max Mavens “mocking bird” trick, and would like to be able to enter into it through Mnemonica, rather than set up a whole second deck.
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Profile of PaulPosition
It is a rosary stack, but then so are all memorized and cyclic stacks. What's important for Mockingbird is that the stack be a palindrome (ie, it "reads" the same both ways, like ABBA or civic)... As it happens, yep, the Mnemonica Stay Stack (and every other "stay stacks" if I understood correctly) are palindromic, mating cards 1-52, 2-51, 3-50, etc.

I may be mistaken, but I think Mnemonica has procedures to get into Si Stebbins and stay-stack Si Stebbins if you want to do it with that exact arrangement.
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Profile of Nikodemus
I also found Mnemonica overwhelming (and still do!)
I am very much a beginner. I last dabbled in magic about 15 years ago, and bought lots of books and DVD's. I guess I deluded myself just owning them would make me better! One was Mnemonica. It just sat on a shelf.

Now (thanks to Coronavirus) I have re-kindled my interest in magic.
I decided that learning a stack would be an undetectable "secret weapon" - which it is. I want to be able to do great effects without relying too much on gimmicks or tricky sleights. Basically I don't want to get caught.
After a bit of research I opted to learn the Six Hour Memorised Deck - which was really easy.

When I tried to read Mnemonica I thought I was going crazy. I think Tamariz writes in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way, that is engaging but for me not very clear. For example looking at the contents list I couldn't even tell which effects require Mnemonica, and which were stack-independent.
Also the material is aimed at advanced card handlers. People who value the "simplicity" of transforming from NDO to Stack with a "mere" 8 Faros or whatever it is. This was exactly the stuff I was NOT ready for. Maybe one day - but it's a long way off.

I've come a long way in the last couple of months. I am building up a small repertoire. There are much more straightforward effects available with a men-deck.
EG. I just discovered The Invisible Card by Simon Aronson. This is an un-gimmicked version of Invisible Deck. It contains one move that is so simple I can't even call it a sleight.
Also Do As I Did by Darwin Ortiz is kind of similar.
Card Sense (also by Darwin Ortiz) looks amazing but is basically self-working if you know a stack.
There are also lots of ACAAN effects based on memorising a stack.

My plan is to work on this kind of stuff to create a foundation. If/when I am ready for Mnemonica it will still be there.
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I'm in the same boat as Nikodemus. Mnemonica has been sitting on my shelf for a few years and finally decided to learn the stack during Coronavirus. Despite several tries, I just can't quite get into the book. Think it might be time to pick up some books by Aronson.....
MC Mirak
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At the risk of angering the card gods, I'm not the biggest fan of Mnemonica (the book). It's a good resource book I think. Some excellent tricks, for sure (Kruskal!) but not the best reading.

In terms of mem deck effects, my favorite books are Repertoire (Asi Wind), Buena Vista Shuffle Club (Matt Baker), and ... Asymptotes (Ben Blau). I can't remember if the effects I like are in Ben Blau's Asymptotes or Truth Fables for sure, sorry.

Michael Close has work on the mem deck you may want to look into as well.

Just the way things have gone, I have very little of Aronson's work.
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Profile of Boomer
I don't believe Aronson's books are going to give you the magic mojo you're looking for to help memorize a stack.

Maybe you'd be better served with a stack that has a mathematical progression (is that the right term?)

I'm not meaning to belittle you, far from it.

Take for example, Osterlinds Breakthrough Card System, if I recall, uses mathematical sequences or some such thing to determine the order of the deck.

For me, yes, I tried a bunch of different methods. Tamariz, Aragon, Aronson, and Trustmans stuff.

What finally worked for me was Rick Lax's Mnemonica Trainer video/pdf set.

Different people learn by different methods. What works for some people, fails miserably for others.

I used to be a college professor, and know first-hand just how true this is.

I had students that did their best by reading the text book, others just plain simply had poor retention/comprehension when just reading, and needed more, such as Powerpoints and vidoes.

We are all unique individuals, and there is no one-size-fits-all.

In the immortal words of Bill & Ted - "Be Excellent to Each Other"

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Mnemonica starts with some technical details concerning the order of the deck and how it can be assembled from NDO. This is troubling to a lot of beginners. Quadrouple-Anti-Faro! It sounds monstrous. But if you reference it in the appendix, it's just dealing cards into a few piles and picking them back up again.

Where a lot of people have trouble is not realizing Mnemonica is volume 2 of a set of books. The first deals with a lot of theory of dealing cards and picking them back up again to alter their order. Much of the material in Mnemonica deals hands that appear random, or perhaps have some payoff, but when they are gathered, the order of the deck is restored. You don't need this information. I didn't read the first book, Sonata, until years later.

But all this aside:

Tamariz is very clear that once you've learned the order, you shouldn't concern yourself with sophisticated tricks and presentations. Simply do predictions and forces, he says, for a YEAR. Put the book down, use the deck as a memorized order and baffle people with your ability to guess their chosen card, or a group of cards. Get comfortable being as hands off as possible.

The next trick after that advice is Mnemonicosis: in my opinion Mnemonicosis is THE crown jewel of card magic. It took me about a year to get comfortable with this trick. The deck sits on a table. The spectator names a card and cuts to it herself. You never know how it's going to go or how you're going to get there. You need to be completely comfortable with the order and with managing the spectator. You need to be brave. But when you start to become successful with this trick, you have an absolute miracle.

But the point is, these tricks require no card handling or sleights. Many of the tricks in mnemonics require no handling or sleights. And many do.
There is also a HUGE appendix in the back of the book that covers a huge amount of material: false cuts, restoring the order after the audience shuffles (in many, many surprising ways!), glimpses, steals, more material on essential elements of card handling than most books ever dare to publish.
The appendix alone, without the stack, is a post graduate curriculum in entertaining with a deck of cards.

The book is also quite transparent about:
- which tricks require mnemonics
- which tricks will work with ANY memorized deck
- which tricks will work with half a stack
- which tricks will work in STAY STACK which is an order that can be arrived at from mnemonics, but is not exclusive to mnemonics. NDO is a type of stay stack, albeit an obvious one.

Mneominca covers everything from mentalism and minimal handlings to poker demonstrations and sleight heavy masterpieces of card magic.
The most important thing is to learn the order, then you can jump around the book and see what you like and what suits your abilities.

Memorized deck magic is enhanced by your other skills. If you're an advanced card handler, you will bring that to your mem deck and have wonderful things to perform.
If you're not an advanced card handler, that's ok too! I do long sets using a memorized deck and I hardly handle the cards at all. Not even so much as a double lift.

The memorized deck is what you make of it.
If you don't want to learn mnemonica, there are other great stacks out there. If I were to do it all again, Redford would be high on my list.
There are mathematical stacks that work great. I had a lot of success with Eight Kings for YEARS and there's no memorization in that.

I don't personally think that jumping from rock to rock in memorized deck work is very useful. At least not until you've got some serious performing time with one stack under your belt.
Mnemonica can be a tricky read if you jump into it before fully learning the order and exploring the table of contents.
Tamariz is a uniquely gifted writer and his style isn't for everyone. But I'll end with this: I'm not smart, and it was a little tough getting started, but reading mnemonica changed my magic forever in the best way possible.
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