Wednesday April 24, 2002

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As always FFFF was fantastic. Thanks to Obie and crew for putting on another great convention! I have organized the pictures by day i.e. Wed, Thurs, Fri and Sat. There is also a Misc page with pictures sans commentary. The photos on that page are from Dale Farris.

It's inevitable that I've misspelled or misrepresented something. If you notice an error please email me at with corrections. I will update the page with the fixes.

The photos have been jpged to about 14K each. Each one will take about 2 sec. with a 56K modem. Your patience will be rewarded.

Below if Robin Dawes' review of the FFFF 2002 convention. This is followed by a few pictures from Wednesday evening. Pictures from Thursday, Friday and Saturday can be accessed by clicking the appropriate link at the top of the page.

Mike Powers 6/5/02.

FFFF 2002 - A review by Robin Dawes

FFFF 2002: The Long, (the Medium) and the Short of It "Long, medium, and short" became the catch-phrase of the 2002 edition of Fechter's Finger Flicking Frolics (4F), as at least three performers featured versions of the classic three-way ropes in their acts. It even caught on with the cups and balls workers, as we saw large, medium, and small final loads (produced, in one notable instance, from cups which were not cups ... but that's another story). So, the long of the convention: surely the long hours spent on the hard hard seats, punishing the external self while enriching the internal by feasting on lecture after lecture and show after show of wonderful, amazing magic. The medium: begging your indulgence, I'll return to that in a moment, because it's much easier to dispose of this somewhat contrived narrative device by dealing briefly with ... The short: the one thing that all 4F conventioneers were short on was sleep. Anyone who got more than a couple of hours of sleep per night was missing out on the intensive sessions in the lobby, the corridors, the hospitality suite, the Precursor suite, down at the Sport of Kings diner, and everywhere else imaginable. Now, returning to the medium: Marshall McLuhan taught us that the medium is the message, and the message is that close-up magic is thriving all around the world, and that the world's best close-up magicians (many of whom may never be featured on a TV special) are very, very good. This year's lecturers were, as usual, an eclectic combination of the up-and-coming and the tried-and-true. Alfredo Marchese from Spain, Jupiter from Hungary, and Henry Evans from Argentina were the international contingent, with lectures on a mixture of card, coin, silk, rope and other magic. Paul Cummins, Mike Gallo, and Guest of Honour Max Maven were the North American lecturers, featuring cards, coins, ball & vase (really!), and of course mental magic. This year there were two multi-person teaching sessions. The first was a general teach-a-trick session, in which almost a dozen experts shared some of their current favourite routines and tips, ranging from the proper method to insert a golf ball into a baby food jar (Professor Rem) to finesse on the Braue add-on move (Howie Schwartzman). The second was a work-shop devoted to the "Torn and Restored" concept. A troupe of wily renders and menders was led by Meir Yedid, who pointed out that he was the only logical choice to MC this event. Here we learned how to tear and restore everything from carnival ride tickets to turbans. Part of the tradition of 4F is that you never know if or when you will be required to perform (unless you're attending for the first time, in which case the requirement is automatic). Head Forker Obie O'Brien posts the show line-ups when the convention opens, and Heaven help any hapless soul who comes without something ready to go. Of the 200 or so attendees, roughly 50 are asked to perform in any given year. The pressure to impress that fabled "front row" (where the living legends sit) can be intense, but it usually brings out the very best in the performers. I have to say that the 4F attendees make a great audience - they are intimidating without being hostile. The bar is set high, but everyone wants you to clear it. It's a neat trick. With that many performers, listing them all would make this report resemble a who's-who of close-up magic so I'll restrict myself to the final show, which took place on Saturday evening (for those who worry about dates, 4F is always held on the last Thursday, Friday and Saturday in April). Obie started with award presentations, including some trophies from the annual 4F Golf Tourney. Max Maven was presented with the traditional Guest of Honour mementoes, and also one of those amazingly cool portraits in which each pixel is actually a tiny photograph. Phil Willmarth, Meir Yedid, Marv Leventhal, and Obie O'Brien all spoke briefly about Max's many accomplishments and contributions to magic. He responded with some sincere words of thanks, and the audience rose to give him a standing ovation. This was something of a home-coming for Max as he used to be a frequent 4F attendee, but had been absent for several years. Max then performed some trademark mental effects, including one in which he made a series of five predictions regarding cards selected from a shuffled deck. Max was followed by France's Boris Wild, who gave us his FISM award-winning Love routine, in which red kisses appear, multiply, vanish, and transpose on blank face playing cards. David Stone, also from France, was next with his hilarious "Why I Stopped Smoking" routine. Oscar Munoz performed a visually poetic version of the Chinese Linking Rings. Mike McGivern found a selected card in his ukulele, then serenaded us with a song describing the convention to the tune of Mac the Knife. This earned him a standing ovation. Next was the always-amazing Rocco Silano. Once again Rocco delivered a wonderful performance of apparently impromptu magic, filled with charm and warmth. Following a brief stage-sweeping interlude, Obie introduced multiple-award-winner Shawn Farquhar from Vancouver. Shawn performed two classic effects with absolutely amazing, original climaxes. Jamy Ian Swiss followed Shawn with an excellent coin routine and a very strong handling of the Ambitious Card. Next Steve Bargatze, complete with grease-pencil widow's peak and Mighty Mouse t-shirt, gave a wild performance as R.B. O'Brien, Obie's crazed nephew. After shooting himself in a tender spot, Steve limped offstage. Bob Swadling was the next performer, with an act of card, coin and rope magic that concluded with a flawless version of "Too Many Cards". Bob was followed by Henry Evans of Buenos Aires (this year's MVP as selected by the attendees). Henry performed a routine with over-sized Chinese coins, then demonstrated his mastery of playing cards by rapidly cutting the deck into 10 piles, the first with 1 card, the second with 2 cards, and so on. If you pursue the arithmetic on that, you'll see that Henry must have been playing with more than a full deck. The final performer of the show was Steve Beam. Steve refrained from performing any magic, but had the audience roaring with an hilarious review of the entire convention. A great way to end a great show. The true magic of 4F is the camaraderie that immediately develops between people who have never met before. There's no inner circle at 4F, and the people who have been there since the beginning are the first ones to pull up a chair beside the new guys and share their expertise. I don't know of any other close-up convention like it. Next year, the 4F Guest of Honour will be Meir Yedid. It's sure to be another great convention.


Getting ready for the lecture

Lecture by Alfredo Marchese

The convention began Wednesday evening at 8:15 P.M. with a lecture from Alfredo Marchese. There were a number of interesting items including a prediction effect. A double envelope with smaller envelopes inside allowed for some impossible predictions. Alfredo also used a newspaper as a deck switching device. Very clever!

Donuts and sessions at 10:30. We're off and running.

© 2002 Mike Powers Magic