Fascinating book, told from the viewpoint of a long-time amateur, then professional magician, who was also a PhD. candidate in physics before magic won out.
Stone talks about his own experiences, bad and good, his teachers, the philosophy and psychology of magic, gets into some history, mathematics, and even into the classic small cons of three-card monte and the shell game; and also how to cheat at poker. I much enjoyed it; his writing style is breezy, light, but with enough factual material to keep me intrigued until I finished it.
I found it really interesting that the best card mechanic in the world, the guy who can deal seconds, bottoms, or from the middle of the deck, and who can cut the deck exactly in half one-handed every time and do sleights that fool everybody including the best magicians in the biz happens also to be ...
The title comes from a challenge Houdini used to offer: There was no stage magician, he said, who could demonstrate a trick three times that he couldn't figure out. (In showing tricks to fellow magicians, the rule of thumb is, Once is a trick; twice is a lesson. The magician Dai Vernon showed a card trick no less than seven times and stumped the great Houdini cold. There are competitions all over the place every year for magicians to try and outdo each other, and fooling a room full of professional magicians is considered the acme of the biz.)
Give the book four stars, and if you are a magic geek, five. Nothing else like it out there.
Along the way, Stone gets into the physicality of sleights, and mentions in passing a book by a guy named Greg Irwin, who has developed a whole ballet of exercises he teaches to strengthen the hands and train independence in the fingers.
Watch the old video from the Carson show. It looks easy. It is not easy:
I have fairly strong hands and thought because of my fooling around with coins and like that, my fingers were pretty supple, too.
Not so, compared to folks who train in this Finger Fitness, which doesn't need anything but your own hands, and which more than a few musicians and magicians and physical therapists doing hand rehab swear by.
So I picked the basic book to play with. Guy also offers vids, but I'll see how the book basics go.
Always something you haven't seen floating around out there ...