Noteworthy: a Magical Lecture by David Gabbay

Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii September, 2012)

This nicely produced booklet by David Gabbay is a set of lecture notes consisting of 10 tricks accompanied by some light theoretical commentary. For the asking price this is a good value considering the variety and volume of interesting material by a thoughtful young creator.

“Tacs Man” (a version of which first appeared in Genii) is a multi-phase routine consisting of the penetration of coins in and out of a Tic-Tac plastic container. I’m sure this looks good, however it is not something you can instantly reset for repeat performance. “Sweet” is the transposition of a marked quarter into a restaurant sugar packet; while there are many versions of this extant, this one offers some good features in that it is completely impromptu and the final revelation is quite convincing, allowing the spectator to withdraw the coin from within the packet (albeit while still in the magician’s hand).

“Window to the Soul” allows a spectator to read the mind of another by revealing a card thanks to an instant stooge method. It’s not clear to me why simply flashing a palmed card is not superior to the method as described, but sometimes we feel we’ve accomplished something if our methodology feels clever to us.

“Fair and Square” uses a portable digital “card reader” in an intriguing and novel plot which laymen are certain to find playful and memorable. “Clown Purse” involves producing a marking pen from a too-tiny purse and then returning the pen to same. Although the author cites Tommy Wonder as an inspiration, the basic plot and handling here are closely reminiscent of leipzig’s classic purse and cigars routine, and the author’s visual convincer addition to the final return, along with his use of a marking pen, could readily be adapted to the leipzig routine, which in turn could conceivably be used as inspiration for expanding on the author’s take.

“Coin ninja!” is a handling of David Roth’s “Karate Coin.” While the handling is sound, this relies on the author’s stated preference for the blown out or blasted version of the coin, which I believe misunderstands and diminishes the Karate Coin effect. While any version of this trick will garner a response thanks to the novel coin produced at the climax, no matter how clean the method, there is only one possible explanation for the layman, which is a switch. And there is little in the way of cancellation in order to prevent the spectator from being ultimately satisfied by that explanation. That is because the effect in these approaches is not actually a mysterious penetration, but a change of a coin’s state.

By contrast, in the original “Karate Coin” (based on Hugard’s “Finger Gimlet”), the effect is that of a mysterious penetration. The coin is silently, mysteriously, and visibly penetrated by the finger where upon the coin is removed from the finger and the coin magically remains undamaged. This is the same effect as the “Cigarette Through Quarter” in Derek Dingle’s iconic routine for that trick, he used the blasted coin as a gag! whereupon he performed the penetration as a contrast to that gag. Think about it. As Eugene Burger has long pointed out, there is a difference between a stunt and a mystery.

“Purse Time” uses a marvelous idea from Alexander de Cova for a card-in impossible location plot, based on the Bruno Hennig method (popularized by Fred Kaps and many others, this writer included). Mr. de Cova applied the method to a tea sieve, and Mr. Gabbay has found a wire frame purse which exploits Mr. de Cova’s principle nicely. The result is that the card remains in view through the wire mesh of the purse throughout the trick, before the card is even selected. The final trick is Mr. Gabbay’s pet “Coin Opener” in which four invisible coins are plucked from a purse, the last of which magically appears at the fingertips, whereupon the previously tabled invisible coins suddenly become visible. This is a lovely piece of magic. The concluding pages of the book include some good thoughts about why Malini would not have been a youTube star (and why that’s not a bad thing), and the difference between magic rooted in fantasy versus magic routed in the fantastic. you might well find something you like in these pages—I certainly did!

Noteworthy: A Magical Lecture • David Gabbay • 6” x 9” perfect bound • 68 pages • Thoroughly illustrated with 75 photos