The man himself began by telling the capacity crowd his mission: “I teach the thinking behind tricks. To me this is the fun – working things out, discovering things.” John demonstrated his thinking process by detailing the reasoning behind every move in his first two routines, “Coffee Cups and Grapes,” inspired by Michael Skinner, and Ramsay’s “Coins in Hat.” Make changes and see what results, he urged. Coffee cups have handles – what new moves does that make possible? Consider whether each visible movement can be made more graceful and more efficient, each hidden sleight covered by misdirection. Apply the attention-controlling concepts of tension and relaxation, punctuation, focus. “You can’t misdirect until you know where they’re looking.” At the end of these two teaching sessions, John remarked truthfully, “We only talked about two tricks, but one hundred secrets.”
The lecture continued with Mora Balls, Quarter through Plate, and coin vanishes, card controls and color changes, each showing the improvements that occur when one tries out additions and subtractions to routines, and works on changing the moment of secret actions. He reminisced about Vernon and other magicians he had met and learned from. At the end, John summarized again his message of inspiration: “To improve, make adjustments. Don’t practice the same way for forty years.”
The magicians lingered talking with John Carney long after the appointed time for the center to close. At the front desk, Cheryl, waiting patiently, said she did not mind. It looked to her like it had been an important night for the magicians.