HOW MUCH MAGICIANS PRACTICE. I noted yesterday how much manual dexterity magicians have—which, of course, they conceal. One magician tells Alex Stone that it takes him 21 days to train a muscle, and Stone points out that there are over 70 muscles in the hand. Stone has a lengthy tribute to Richard Turner, whom he calls “quite possibly the sharpest card handler of all time.” Turner has practiced 17 hours a day since he was nine and has practiced the equivalent of 15 years of 24-hour days. Magicians on occasion fall asleep while practicing; it happens to Turner about once a week. There is a program of calisthenics for the fingers called “Finger Fitness” which is used by some surgeons as well as by magicians. Stone says that after practicing he is now able to sense the wearing of the patina on a coin and to cut a deck exactly in half most of the time—and can tell if he was off by just one card.

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