Ann Arbor Magic Club

IBM 210 - SAM 88

Current Messenger

On the Cover

By Karl Rabe

Magic Messenger September 2022



Mike Bodgas, Featured Performer for August, perform Forgetful Yogi inherited from his Grandfather. This prop was produced by Warren Hamilton, ca. 1960. The head of a wooden Yogi Bear cutout is removed, and a balloon is put in its place. The wooden head vanishes, later reappearing on the body and popping the balloon in the process with a selected card. This version of the classic Forgetful Freddy effect (devised by Milbourne Christopher) is rare and was only produced briefly by Hamilton. It was pulled from the market because Hamilton did not secure licensing from Hanna-Barbera for the use of Yogi Bear.

In This Issue

Mike Bogdas


President's Corner

By Dan Jones

We have some exciting magic events coming up this fall. On Sunday, September 25th we are hosting our annual magic flea market at the Safe Step Company headquarters. If you haven't reserved your table(s) yet please see Rob Krozal our Treasurer at the meeting or contact him to do so. We all have magic effects to sell even though we love to collect magic.(or hoarded them. Not to mention any names. D.O.) We'll need some helpers at the flea market too.
And on Friday Oct. 28th we are hosting a club magic show for the public. Sean Naes our V.P. is taking the lead on this event and is recruiting performers, stage hands, greeters a d many other positions to make this a great success. We'll have more info at the meeting.
  • Ring 22 is hosting a lecture by Michael Ammer on Sunday, Sept. 11th in the afternoon. This promises to be a great lecture for a great price. Let's support our fellow magic club's.
  • At our next two meetings some time will be spent rehearsing for our show.
  • Our theme for the month is "Flag Magic". What does that mean? You tell me.
  • Our introduction question will be...What is your third favorite thing about magic?
  • We have had requests to include an instructional segment into our meetings again. So Sean will teach the "Bill Switch" effect this month. So bring 2 different denominations of currency and a thumb tip.
It's great to see so many of our club members getting involved. See you at the Plymouth Community Arts Council on Sept. 14th.


By Karl Rabe

As a reoccurring feature of the Magic Messenger we will highlight a member and ask them to answer a few questions about themselves. This month the "Spotlight" is on our Feature Performer for August, Mike Bodgas.

Where did you grow up / where have you lived? 

I grew up in Cleveland, OH and moved to South Lyon in 2015..

How did you get started in magic? 

My grandpa was a kids magician in Cleveland. He had a room full of magic tricks and I was only allowed to look at them as a kid. If I was lucky, he would teach me a trick here or there. When he passed, I inherited his collection.

What type of magic do you perform? 

I like to do parkour style tricks but recently have been interested in doing close-up and card tricks.

What is your favorite magic book? 

Royal road to card magic is my favorite magic book.

Who is your favorite Magician of all time? 

I would say David Cooperfield. I remember recording his magic special on VHS tapes as a kid and watch them all the time. I have seen him perform three times as well.

Do you have any words of wisdom for newer magicians?

Even though I have been interested in magic my whole life, I still feel like it’s new to me. I enjoy the meetings and learning from the skilled magicians in the club!





Secretary's Report

By Karl Rabe

Vice President Sean Naes President kicked us off with our round-table question. This month's question was "What move have you always wanted to learn but never did?". Answers ranged from double-lift, card palming, juggling, perfect table farro, and coin magic. Then it was on to magic with our featured performer Mike Bognas.

Mike performed an interesting effect called Forgetful Yogi using a vintage and rare  prop he inherited from his Grandfather (see On the Cover for more info about Forgetful Yogi). Mike removed Yogi's head which volunteer Phil Mann held devishly in a handkerchief. The head was replaced with a balloon (we always knew Yogi was a bit of an air head). Then a card was selected and Mike prompted Yogi to divine the card. Failing to do so, probably because he lost his head, Mike enlisted the crowd to chant Yogi's catch phrase "Hey hey hey!" a few times. This seemed to do the trick (pun intended) as the balloon popped, Yogi's head appeared and now Yogi was holding the selected card. Of course the head that Phil Mann had been holding seemed to have disappeared.

Mike Bodgas (Right) performed a Forgetful Yogi Bear trick as Phil Mann (left) holds onto Yogi's head.


Then Mike performed a mental epic routine, correctly predicting a thought of 3-digit number, a color and finally a favorite (?) food randomly choose by a spectator from Mike's notepad.


Then it was on to member magic.

Johnny NY performs as members look on (Clockwise) Barbara and Ming Louie, Dave and Jacki Sanders, Sean Naes, Bob Goodwin's leg, John Russell, Mike Bodgas and Phil Mann

  • Ming performed Kovarti Acrobatic Fish.
  • Johnny NY performed a card trick that involved an appearing card box, a color change, mixed cards becoming sorted with the use of goblets and last but not least a prank phone call. Whew!
  • Karl performed a mini-illusion he created which he calls Tube Zag. Karl's assistant Rocky Raccoon is hypnotized and then inserted in a tree stump, Rocky is cut in three with a small but loud chain saw. Blades are inserted and Rocky's mid-section is dissected and swung away from the trunk. Finally Rocky is restored and takes a bow.
  • John Russell performed a custom effect with Ikea frames. The black and white rabbits seem to jump back and forth but the sucker ending shows that the backs are completely different. John discussed how he customizes this for different holidays.
  • Phill Mann performed the Mental Dice trick he picked up at Abbott's Get Together. A large die changes colors based on audience choices.

Then it was on a "magic jam sessions".

  • Sean demonstrated a rope trick he is working on based on G. W. Hunter's Puzzle knot. The magician demonstrates how it is actually possible to tie a knot in a rope while holding one end in each hand and without letting go. Sean brought up Johnny NY and walked him through the steps, but try as he might, Johnny wasn't successful.
  • Ming then jumped up and demonstrated a variation that is a favorite of John Osborn.
  • Finally Johnny was taught "the trick" and successfully created the knot.
  • Ming then borrowed the ropes and used them to link volunteers Jacki and Dave Saunders who fortunately are married as they became quite entangled attempting to separate themselves.
  • Finally Karl jumped up and demonstrated a one hand knot tie.. first a legitimate one and then a "fake" one.










Funny Business

By Karl Rabe


Around the Town

By Karl Rabe

Our Club Members

Do you want to see some Magic?
  • Sean Naes will be appearing at the Michigan Renaissance Festival as Cap'n Sean. It's a great act.
  • Ming and Barbara Louie have been performing all summer and into the fall at Apple orchards. Ask them when and where.
  • Who else is out there? Please spread the word so we can support the art of magic.

Upcoming Events

Check out John Luka's Magic page and his well maintained list of Michigan Events

All AAMC Events and details can be viewed on the website calendar.

Our Rich Magical History

By Kevin Peshik

William Robinson, aka Chung Ling Soo – Part 3

Last month we looked at a couple of Robinson's stage illusions. This month I will wrap up Robinson with Soo’s Bullet Catch, the effect he died doing; however, there are a couple of other things to consider to fill out a fuller character of Robinson.

Robinson had been an assistant for two famous magicians, Harry Kellar, and Alexander Hermann. Hermann, who immensely enjoyed horses and horse races, would teach Robinson the complex art of makeup, then leave Robinson to take on Hermann's Mephistophelian appearance and perform Hermann's act for the evening without the audience suspecting the switch. From this, Hermann developed a reputation for being able to be at two places at one time, a trick that both Herman and Robinson relished pulling off on the public.

While Robinson had excellent skills in magic, he was not as accomplished at the presentation of magic. Part of his problem was that he had some yellowed teeth, so he did not like to smile much. He was not a gifted speaker either, so his personality on stage was not something to draw repeat audiences. These flaws are where becoming Ching Ling Soo saved him from those problems. His character Soo rarely spoke when performing, solving the problem with the yellowed teeth and being a bad public speaker.


There is a legend that a dozen magicians have died from performing the bullet catch trick. While that number is unsubstantiated, William Robinson as Soo joined that list on March 24, 1918. Soo titled his illusion: “Condemned to Death by the Boxers.” Last month we talked about the Boxers of China and the uprising they started called The Boxers' Rebellion. While Western forces put down the rebellion, there were still anti-Chinese sentiments to deal with in the West, which Soo confronted earlier in his career with his desecration of the Chinese flag in favor of the Union Jack (see July's article.)

Dressed as Boxers, his assistants would play the role of firing their rifles toward Soo in what resembled a firing squad. Then, during a performance in London on March 23, 1918, the fateful day arrived when a gun misfired, discharging a bullet out of the chamber that was not supposed to be able to fire. When Soo was hit, he spoke, "Oh my god. Somethings happened. Lower the curtain." These were the first and only English words he spoke in public since adopting the role of Chung Ling Soo.

A gun expert attributed the accidental discharge as the result of improper cleaning and maintenance of the gun, and the death was ruled "accidental." The secret of Soo's identity would shock the public when they learned that he was not Chinese, but an American named William Ellsworth Robinson. During the inquest, Robinson's complicated personal life unraveled, having had one legal wife and two other families at the same time, demonstrating his skills as a juggler 🙂

While these last two things are what Robinson is most remembered for, his dedication and innovation to magic were a gift to the magic fraternity that lives on to this day.

Recommended Reading: The Glorious Deception - The Double Life of William Robinson, aka Chung Ling Soo, the "Marvelous Chinese Conjurer" by Jim Steinmeyer.

From the Archives

By Karl Rabe

From the Archives will periodically take a look back at photos, documents and other memorabilia from the clubs archives.

We didn't have to dig too far down into the pile to find this photo of George Honer performing a Mental Epic routine.


Mathamagically Speaking

By Bob Goodwin

This month we have a special edition to the Messenger. Our resident Mathemagician, Bob Goodwin will periodically be sharing math related magic, methods, products and puzzles with us. This month Bob and Karl collaborated on a method for forcing a number, dubbed by Bob as "The Stack Force"

The Stack Force;

A Handy Tool for Mentalism & Mind Reading

Developed and written by Bob Goodwin
Edited by Karl Rabe
Spreadsheet calculation utility by Karl Rabe
Copyright 2022 by Robert Goodwin. All rights reserved.

The Stack Force enables you to force a predetermined number on a spectator by having them select several numbers from a list.  No matter what numbers they select, the total will be the force number.

Examples of numbers you may want to force:

  • Year in which a significant event occurred (Houdini's birth - 1874)
  • Anniversary (S.A.M. formed in 1902)
  • Specific word in a book ("book test")
  • Military unit designation (101st)
  • Addresses
  • Phone numbers

References and Acknowledgements

Secrets of Mental Math: The Mathemagician's Guide to Lightning Calculation and Amazing Math Tricks

In “Secrets Of Mental Math", (A. Benjamin & M. Shermer, 2006 p.212) teaches an effect called AN “AMAZING” SUM. Per the authors, it was first shown to them by James “the Amaz- ing” Randi, who has used it effectively in his magic. The forcing of a single number is described.

I have “reverse engineered” this, so to speak, to provide a step-by-step guide to calculating the necessary numbers to force ANY four or five digit number you choose.

Worksheet Example of a Stack Force Routine


Houdini's Spirit Is Asking From The 'Other Side': "When was I born?"

  1. Choose one number from each category
7 1 9 8 8 0 4 8 2
7 6 4 6 2 8 7 6 1
9 4 4 0 7 9 3 9 2
3 8 6 5 4 7 5 4 5
5 8 4 3 7 6 8 2 4
  1. Add Your Chosen Numbers Here. The numbers are “stacked” vertically, not written horizontally. So for example, 719 chosen from column A is written vertically in column A below.
= Houdini Birth Year



  • This routine is based on the birth year of Houdini (1874).
  • Try it yourself. No matter what combination of numbers you choose from A, B and C they will always add to 1874.
  • The numbers shown above were developed using the target calculated using the method explained below – The digits of the numbers in Category A all add to 17, the digits of the numbers in Category B all add to 16, and likewise, the digits of the numbers in Category C all add to 14.

How To Set Up A Stack Force To Force A Certain Number


Step Number Example
- a b c
1 Identify the Target Force Number:   3-4 digits work best. 1 8 7 4

This 4-digit target is based on the year Harry Houdini was born. With a 4-digit target, 3 columns are needed (labeled A, B, & C) to stack vertically and add the numbers.


2 Calculate the number totals needed in each column to force the number:  Work from right to left, and top to bottom. Select numbers so the sum of the digits in each column add to the target number for that column. 1 4 This # is same as last # in force no., with 1 preceding (col. C)
1 6 Next # is 6, with 1 preceding (col. B).
1 7 Next # is 7, with 1 preceding (col. A).
1 8 7 4 Target # totals (14, 16, & 17) add to 1874
3 Confirm the column targets by adding some sample numbers and checking the total. 7 8 4 #s in col. C add to target (14)
1 8 8 #s in col. B add to target (16)
9 0 2 #s in col. A add to target (17)
1 8 7 4

After confirming the numbers needed for your stack force (step 3), you now need to prepare the worksheet to be reviewed with the volunteer during your routine -- see Worksheet Example of a Stack Force Routine above for an example.

You may find that some target force numbers don't require different numbers in the columns. If your calculation in Step 2 above results in the same value for all three numbers. (Example: A target of 1776 will require all three numbers to have digits adding to 16.  In this case, you do not need to have three categories of numbers. All numbers the spectator choose can be lumped together in one group.

Stack Force Calculator

This section by Karl Rabe.

After editing Bob's Stack Force above, I began playing around with Excel to see if I could automate the calculations. The result was the Stack Force Calculator spreadsheet. Click the icon below to open it. You have to enable macros and of course you need to have Microsoft Excel installed.



The Stack Force Calculator will automatically generate a set of "choice" numbers to force a desired target
number as per Bob Goodwin's method for creating a stack force. On the Stack Calc tab, enter the desired force number in the yellow cell. Any number up to 10 digits can be used. The calculcate will generate all possible choice number to use. Select your numbers from the list for each digit. You can view the Tester tab which will show the manually calculated result for each set of choices.

Here is an example of the output of the calculator, using the force number in Bob's example above, Houdini's Year 1874. You can see it produces the same target totals... 14, 16 and 17. It then provides 20 (only 10 shown here) randomly generated 3 digit numbers where the digits add to those target totals.

If you are even just a little comfortable with excel, give it a try.


Column 1 2 3
Target 14 16 17
Choice 1 590 565 359
Choice 2 752 556 584
Choice 3 707 448 944
Choice 4 860 196 566
Choice 5 428 565 575
Choice 6 905 529 386
Choice 7 824 367 629
Choice 8 914 880 719
Choice 9 653 880 476
Choice 10 365 178 368




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