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"It is much easier, as well as far more enjoyable, to identify and label the mistakes of others than to recognize our own." Kahnemann

With this caveat in mind I will review the January 2018 Event/Session held near Heathrow.

The Mentalism day began with Luca Volpe who demonstrated his Lucky Envelope routine. The participant has a 50/50 chance of winning a large Euro note, but always ends up with the dud envelope. Luca also came up with a funny line: he'd tried hard to make up a joke about IKEA, but found it impossible to put together.

Marco Fida then gave an in-depth discussion on secret messengers - the unspoken thoughts which are written down on billets (in the nineteenth century a.k.a ballots or pellets). Marco traced the tradition back to Charles Foster, Louis Schlessinger, and Burt Reese (the man who fooled Edison). Marco examined how their ideas influenced Annemann , Jaks and Corinda.
He also paid tribute to the stage mentalists Dunninger, Fogel, and Cassidy.

Marco outlined the 7 basic techniques to billet work – 'marking; planting; stealing; forcing; switching; peeking; and misreading'.
Then Marco showed a wonderful short film of his hands executing various billet switches..

Chris Rawlins then did some pseudo-memory routines with a do-it-yourself marked deck. He dealt out a shuffled deck face down into colours and suits.
He also recommended learning the Lewis Jones pattern principle which enables you to genuinely (short-term) memorise a 12 card colour sequence. (Pit Hartling uses this pattern in Card Fictions.)

Quentin Reynolds performed his own entertaining version of Confabulation.
We chose the country, the location of the rash, the length of the medical treatment, and the cost of treatment (say 20 quid). He noted our answers down on his note pad. He then cleanly removed a folded piece of paper from his wallet and read out a letter which not only confirmed all three predictions (verified by the spectator on stage) but also contained a 20 quid note.

Anthony Owen performed a baffling pop-psychology routine which seemed to accurately predict a person's responses to a Cosmopolitan magazine test. The well-disguised method behind Psycho Quiz Prediction was actually based on a traditional principle. Anthony said he successfully employed this trick when pitching the Derren Brown show in America. The executive was late for the meeting but Anthony was able to perform a version of Psycho Quiz over the phone and baffle the independent witnesses.

Luke Jermay performed and discussed his signature trick - Touching on Hoy - which he first developed 17 years ago when he was just 15 or 16. He combined two separate ideas- the Hoy tossed out deck and Banacek's Psychokinetic Touches - and thereby created an impressive routine which defied reverse engineering.

I only recently came across Chain of Thought an interesting effect in Al Mann's The Purloined Thought which is also based on similar ideas which were later taken up by Luke.
In Chain of Thought, three participants choose a word from torn up newsprint.
Unknowingly, they choose the same word ,eg, 'give', but the mentalist calls out 'legislation' and 'amendment', then the word 'give'.
Al Mann writes: "This is a devastating effect in the minds of the audience and they cannot fathom out the mystery. All three persons hear their chosen word called out and assume that the other two words belonged to the other two persons."

A similar dual reality sustains Touching on Hoy, though clearly Luke has created a more elaborate and sophisticated routine.

Luke has already published an updated version of T.o.H. in his Modern Mentalism (2014) booklet, and the August 2017 Genii also devoted seven pages to this trick and included an 8 minute performance video. This was taken from the dvd Jermay's Mind (2015) which covered Touching on Hoy and its follow up Touching on Divination in detail.

If you already have this material, Luke's latest thoughts - the Reincarnation pdf with two additional routines - may look too expensive at 50 quid. And his website bumped up the price to 75 quid post-Session.
(In comparison, the most expensive non-magic book in my library is a 940 page hardback by Professor Adele Collins, which cost 50 quid new, but now I realise what a bargain this Hermeneia volume is.)

Max Maven lectured on the historical origin of the centre tear, starting with Al Baker's 1949 manuscript New Light on the Centre Tear and then moving on to Al Mann's large and detailed Purloined Thought (1990) which I previously mentioned.
Mann documented Sid Lorraine's own research into its origins. Evidently an American J. T. Garrus revealed the secret of the centre tear to a meeting of the Pentacle Club in Cambridge. Garrus in turn had been taught this move by Dr Wyman, a Harvard anthropologist and amateur magician who also investigated the spiritual world.
Wyman presumably learned this move from his private research.

Sid Lorraine met Garrus and learned about the secret move. He then sent a letter to Tom Bowyer, Annemann and Joseph Ovette.

At first, only Ovette understood the significance of this move. In 1931 he advertised this secret method for sale under the enigmatic name What is it?
Annemann first printed his own version of the centre tear in 1932 naming it as Ne Plus Ultra (that's Latin for no more beyond, ie, the ultimate!)

Max speculated these deceptive message reading practices might go back further in time.
Possibly as far back as the Oracle of Zeus, in Dodona, 2500 years ago, where messages were written (or scratched) on lead sheets. Max said this was before paper had been invented. (True, but to clarify, the Ancient Greeks would be able to use papyri as a precursor to what we now know as paper, but I assume less durable materials would not survive over the centuries. Only metal tablets have been recovered.)
And, Max added that these practices may plausibly be traced to 160 AD to Alexander of Abonoteichus who founded the Glychon snake cult and allegedly tampered with sealed messages presented at his Oracle. Was Alexander using a centre tear? We do not know, but all the elements were there.

Max then looked at the practicalities of the modern centre tear.

1/ How to position the spectator's writing?
Possible solutions: Draw a horizontal line. Or add a circle or oval.
2/ How to make the tear?
3/ How and when to make the steal?
Vernon made use of an adhesive hold-out (mentioned in Tarbell).
4/ How and when to make the peek?
5/ Why is the paper torn? (What plausible justification?)
Possible solution: The destruction of the billet is motivated by apparent failure.

Aside: the centre tear was the move that first drew me into magic. In 1986, I came across Marvin Kaye's Handbook of Magic in a second hand bookshop in Sydney.
He describes the move and the ploy of repeating the trick due to apparent failure.

Max's lecture was excellent and dovetailed neatly with Marco's.
Yet I couldn't believe it when I heard murmurings from the person in front of me. He said he'd come to see Max Maven perform and this lecture had been a disappointment. As we stood up, I said I thought it was a great lecture.

In the evening, after dinner, Michael Weber gave a lecture/performance in honour of the late Bob Cassidy.

He quoted a list of 8 types of presentations from Cassidy's Fundamentals:

Telepathist;Body Language Expert; Human Lie Detector; Remote Viewer; Clairvoyant; Spiritualist; Psychokinesis; Hypnotist
And perhaps we could add a ninth: Eidetic Memory Expert

Michael then gave examples of different performances based on these approaches using magazines and newspapers.

For example, he appeared to have memorised every detail in a recent genuine copy of Time Magazine. And I'm not sure how he knew which torn page each person was reading from, but he convincingly revealed the nuggets of information contained on the printed pages.

He also had someone freely select a newspaper from a large loose pile and then tear off and discard either half, eventually ending up with a chosen word - orange which matched Weber's written prediction. And Weber, standing across the stage, could not have forced or planted an extra section during the tearing process. At least according to my fallible memory!
I was completely baffled.

I then had to take a break so unfortunately missed the Evasons Live, but feedback was highly positive. Comments such as: "The best 2-person code act I've ever seen."
and "Even though I know what they're doing, I still don't know how they do it!"

The final late night session lasted about 30 minutes.

Weber performed an incomprehensible card trick - we couldn't see what he was doing or what the outcome was. We were baffled for the wrong reasons. Maybe it was an anti-card trick?
Quentin Reynolds did an impressive and direct Impostress Princess card effect. Three or four spectators took a handful of cards and mentally selected one. Quentin revealed the selections with minimal fishing.

Chris Rawlins was uncharacteristically harsh to a spectator who innocently cut off too many cards from the spread. He told him to do it again and take less cards this time.
Note to Chris: next time jettison the trick not the spectator.

Well, that was the Event. In the next instalment, in a different section of the magic Café, I'll review the Session itself.
Any feedback welcome.
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