The Square Circle IS a Classic!

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Postby P.T.Widdle » 09/01/09 11:37 AM

For the most part I always enjoy Jamie Ian Swiss's book reviews, and I think very highly of him as a magician. He does not hold back with his opinions and that usually makes for thoughtful and interesting reviews.

It is one of those opinions that I take issue with in his current review of Master Paynes' book "Sometimes the Jokes are Just for Me.

Swiss points out that Mr. Payne, "has a habit of referring to...prop heavy mechanical tricks as "classics," but I would strongly dispute the term."

"Square Circle, the Rice Vase, and their ilk are not classics. They're just plain old...contemporary adult audiences find no mystery in these outlandish props, which are obviously doing the work of the magician for him."

Well Mr. Swiss, I do think the Square Circle is a classic. None other than Mr. Mark Wilson states the same in his Course in Magic,
"The Square Circle is a tried and true classic magic prop."
I suppose Mr. Wilson is just plain old.

These "outlandish props" as you call them, do achieve a sense of mystery and magic. I find it troubling that finger flickers such as yourself continuously feel the need to dismiss these props as mere amusements that cannot impart truly magical experiences. And do you really believe that anything that cannot be achieved with slight of hand is "doing the work of the magician for him" ?

I understand that stenciled props from the sixties and seventies may be too gaudy or silly looking to perform for contemporary adult audiences, however the principles inherit in them are not without merit. Some very stylish, up to date, and well-made versions of these classics are being made by Fantasma and Tenyo Elite, for example.

Swiss maintains that, "these kinds of tricks...are rarely terribly mystifying" and "invariably puzzling rather than truly magical. No one is going to achieve the impact, or sense of mystery, of that achieved by Juan Tamariz, with a Die Box."

What a ridiculous comparison. It's apples to oranges. Slight of hand can be a beautiful and mystifying thing to behold, especially if performed by a true artist like Tamariz. But I would argue that the simple and yes, deceiving method behind Square Circle is also a wonderful thing that can be appreciated along with the best card manipulator's move.

Franz Hararay stated that he was "worthless below the wrists" in his interview in Genii. He has always loved and performed magic with apparatus. And I don't think one can argue that he has not entertained and mystified adult contemporary audiences worldwide with his brand of magic.

So please, Mr. Swiss, and all you other snobby slight of hand artistes, stop the condescending toward apparatus magic, old or new. plastic or cardboard. The Square Circle is just as genuine and magical as any top change.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 09/01/09 01:18 PM

While neither the prop nor the sleight are themselves magical - merely means - I'm not sure you get the same reaction of astonishment from a production from that prop as a card change that was managed by the sleight. That's a lay-audience test kind of thing. Anyone with experience care to chime in?

And yes - not so nice to get snooty about ones means when what counts in this craft are the ends as regards the audience.
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Postby Master Payne » 09/01/09 10:00 PM

And I didn't even mention the Ol' square circle in my book.

I thought it a fair review and we only disagreed on philosophical matters. Mr. Swiss obviously has an remarkable disdain for prop magic. Understandable as generally prop magic tends to promote a "cookie cutter" image of magic as far too many magicians tend to use the props exactly as they come from the shop.

This was the portion of my book that Mr. Swiss seems to have overlooked. I was attempting to encourage the reader to look beyond the confines of the prop and try to become a more creative and innovative performer.

Finger Flinger's too suffer from this lack of originality and innovation. Card revelations, coin assemblies and billiard ball manipulation can be just as mind numbingly banal as the worst Dragon bedecked production cylinder.

I contend that, properly presented, prop magic can be just as mystifying and sophisticated as anything Juan Tamariz could devise.
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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 01/06/10 04:42 AM

It strikes me that this is a classic case of Blinkered vision. you see the prop, but are ignoring the principle behind it.
Whilst on the most part i agree that the Squared circle is dire in many hands, with correct application, and adaptation, this effect will still baffle a lay audience.

alas, far to many are using the old style air brushed box, complete with suspect Chinaman on the side.This design has no relevence in todays society, and would, like as not , been condemmed to the bonfire long ago, if the chinese chap was a wide eyed gollywog, instead of the stylized coolie.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/06/10 08:35 AM

Dale Shrimpton wrote:It strikes me that this is a classic case of Blinkered vision. you see the prop, but are ignoring the principle behind it.


Yes, clearly Jamy is just *that* stupid.

I have been with my ladyfriend for a little over a year. She hadn't seen much magic and certainly nothing on stage. Since then, she has seen my close up, obv. In the last 2 months I've taken her to see 3 stage magic shows.

She cannot stand ANYTHING with a prop. She says "I don't know how it worked, but that prop clearly is dodgy and clearly did the trick for him". She's right.

Maybe, Mr Shrimpton, you need to stop thinking like a magician and start thinking like a layperson? The mechanics of a prop may please you because of a clever principle, but laypeople think they look sketchy.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/06/10 08:39 AM

What do you think of the latest incarnation as a recylcer?
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Postby P.T.Widdle » 01/09/10 01:01 PM

mrgoat wrote:The mechanics of a prop may please you because of a clever principle, but laypeople think they look sketchy.


Tell that to Jim Steinmeyer or John Gaughan.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/09/10 02:23 PM

Some lay people just don't think much of large illusions done on stage, just as there are lay people who would rather have their head lopped off than see a card trick.

The anecdotal relating of one or two peoples' opinions are meaningless if there is to be a real discussion of the issue. You need to do a controlled study where hundreds of people see the same performances and are questioned by qualified people afterward.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/09/10 02:29 PM

This is a place where the "too perfect theory" might be applied. For the larger box tricks, they know the assistant is not the gaff and aren't stupid. IMHO, mostly they just like to watch the colorful dance routines spiced up with some magical moments. On the few times they can really be taken by surprise (thanks to Harbin's zigzag for example, or richiardi's sawing) you get some reactions that are not typical in this craft IMHO.

Incongruent or clumsy looking furniture is kind of a tipoff that there's something up with the props. That, IMHO is a study worth doing.

When we get to the smaller box tricks ... again using contrived looking props - once more it seems safe to say that living rabbits and doves are not doing the work or folding so ... what else could it be but the props? And if those props look strange to being with - seems to close the deal as far as a theory of 'hot it's done' and that, as someone else pointed out, is all they need to be satisfied they know how a trick works.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/09/10 03:54 PM

Again, good magic is not about the props.

The Change Bag is as old as they come, but Tom Burgoon sure gets some great and entertaining mileage out of it.

It might be outlandish. It might be a bag on a stick. But its all about the guy holding that stick. He creates some really good magic with it.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/09/10 04:01 PM

That has the problem of leading to a likable guy reading from the phone book ... entertainment versus magic.

By the way, that bag on a stick has its roots in a specific context. Outside that context - it's commentary.
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Postby P.T.Widdle » 01/09/10 04:27 PM

I'll bring this back to the Square Circle, a custom built mini version of which I've performed recently, that drew the response afterward, "Where did all that stuff come from?"

Simply put, it fooled them.

And yes, I know some of you will say, "No, you fooled them."
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Postby John Signa » 01/09/10 04:58 PM

Given the generalness of that statement, you are reading into it.

If you were to stand on an empty stage, snap your fingers, and have a huge pile of stuff appear in a puff of smoke, they'd probably say the same thing.

They know you don't have supernatural powers... so the stuff has to come from somewhere. Note they didn't ask "How'd you hide all that stuff in that box?"
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/09/10 06:24 PM

Quite a few years ago, at the Festival of the Whales at Dana Point Harbor in California (I used to live on a boat there), there was a magician who did his show in one of the parks. He thoroughly entertained the audience of adults and kids, and he had what I still think was the best Square Circle Ive ever seen.

As he was showing the box so the audience could look through it, he moved his hands inside it; the backs of his hands against the inside of it. He said something like no mirrors. As he dropped the box over the tube, he pulled the tube out with his hands in a continuing motion. It appeared, for the briefest of moments, that the tube and the box were off its platform at the same time. This of course was not the case, but it looked like it. After showing the tube empty, he produced scarves and flowers for the ladiesand for the kids (at that moment he lifted the box and tube off the platform together) baby chickens! There were several chicks now on the table. The audience reaction was great: They showed true surprise with a collective Oh! (myself included) and then broke into applause.

Good magic is not about the props.

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Postby Dale Shrimpton » 01/11/10 11:01 AM

I had the pleasure to use a box that was made by Jack Hughes, for the original Jack Shaw wytchwood poodle act.
both the inner, and outer containers had bottoms on them, and could be shown as plain ordinary boxes.
It was a lovely bit of magical craftmanship.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/11/10 11:22 AM

Ease of use, cute loads and craftsmanship have nothing to do with the base effect or its deceptiveness. A contrived looking and "out of place" prop is what it is ...

Any thoughts on the new recycler item?
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Postby P.T.Widdle » 01/11/10 12:51 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote: A contrived looking and "out of place" prop is what it is ...


So basically anything that's not cards, coins, or "everyday objects" should not be used by magicians. Great. That's the sort of snobbery I was talking about.

I think the word "prop" is kind of derogatory, anyway. These items are clever, sometimes amazing inventions that should be treasured by the magic community. There certainly seems to be a lot of "contrived items" in the museum of John Gaughan.

The Square Circle is a wonderfully simple and effective effect utilizing strongly contrasting visuals - a square and a circle. It does not seem "out of place" because a magician is using it. A musical instrument is not an everyday object and seems out of place in the real world until a skilled musician makes beautiful music with it.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/11/10 01:35 PM

P.T.Widdle wrote:
Jonathan Townsend wrote: A contrived looking and "out of place" prop is what it is ...


So basically ...


IMHO in that last post you are not showing your understanding of such basics in theater as "consistency of setting" and in magic as "accounting for the magic"

Things have their places.
When out of place - they beg questions.

Pleading that the creations of others justify willful ignorance of such matters or that they somehow trump a reasoned argument is not doing so well in terms of rhetoric.

As others have pointed out earlier - magic is not about the props but rather what happens and how that affects the audience. IMHO it's not about the box but the amazing thing that happens to the person in the box or the mystery of what impossible thing is happening in there to account for the part of the results they can see.

So how about that "recycler" item?
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Postby P.T.Widdle » 01/11/10 03:26 PM

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
IMHO in that last post you are not showing your understanding of such basics in theater as "consistency of setting" and in magic as "accounting for the magic"


I guess not. I suppose I need to understand these things in order to present a magic trick deceptively and entertainingly.
Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Pleading that the creations of others justify willful ignorance of such matters or that they somehow trump a reasoned argument is not doing so well in terms of rhetoric.

Yes, the use of a Square Circle screams to the audience, "I am a strange looking box that is not an ordinary object!" How insulting.
Jonathan Townsend wrote:As others have pointed out earlier - magic is not about the props but rather what happens and how that affects the audience. IMHO it's not about the box but the amazing thing that happens to the person in the box or the mystery of what impossible thing is happening in there to account for the part of the results they can see.


Everyone seems to come back to this point. "It's not about the box. It's about the..." blah, blah, blah.
We know it's the magician that makes the magic in performance. We get it. The point of this thread was to defend tangible magical inventions (aka props) as a legitimate and praiseworthy part of magic.
There's no reason to dump on anything that desn't fall under the "everyday objects" category. God forbid, some laymen even enjoy a magician who wields these colorful and puzzling objects. I mean, what the heck is a Hot Rod? Who cares? It's a magical crystal wand in the hands of a magician.

Embrace the strange, kooky, outlandish creations from the inventors in our field. It's OK. You don't have to be embarrassed or ashamed.
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Postby mrgoat » 01/11/10 03:55 PM

P.T.Widdle wrote: I mean, what the heck is a Hot Rod? Who cares? It's a magical crystal wand in the hands of a magician.

Embrace the strange, kooky, outlandish creations from the inventors in our field. It's OK. You don't have to be embarrassed or ashamed.





As an experiment, I just showed my gf some hotrod videos. She said "that must be a clever mechanical paddle".

I guess props are good if you want to impress your audience with something mechanical someone else thought of.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/11/10 03:58 PM

And yet folks wonder why ventriloquists, jugglers or even that nice woman who animates a mop steals the show from the box boys.

this is not a carpentry show where one admires the veneer and creative use of formica. There are plenty of other places where dancing with cabinetry then showing off the craftsmanship would have its audience.

IMHO the black art square circle method and basic handling is just fine - just needs some context to integrate into an act. Some have used it as part of their table. I kinda like the recycler and so brought that up.

And the poster above is correct, one need not fret over such things to perform an acceptable show - kind of a "nice guy demonstrates the magic catalog" kind of thing. That seems to suffice for most IMHO.
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Postby P.T.Widdle » 01/11/10 05:19 PM

mrgoat wrote:

I guess props are good if you want to impress your audience with something mechanical someone else thought of.


Again, tell that to Jim Steinmeyer or John Gaughan. Pretty insulting and disrespectful IMHO.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/11/10 06:06 PM

While this thread was supposed to be about the Square Circle, the question of what it is is actually the crux of the issue. And my pointone that has been made much more eloquently in the writings of Jim Steinmeyer*is that a talented illusionist and/or platform magician can make this a non-question. Again, Tom Burgoon doesnt explain away his Change Bag. He just calls it a bag.

Certainly if one can justify a prop via presentationwithout it being burdensome or a case of running while not being chasedthen by all means do so.

When Kalin and Jinger perform the Wakeling Sawingan illusion where the magic happens inside the head of the audience since it never sees Jinger actually cut in halfno one gives a hoot about the box(es). What do the boxes have to do with a Civil War era operating table as he calls it? Nothing, thats what: No one cares.

When they perform Spiker, no one gives a rats rump about the contrived box and set of flaming spikes that have no other use on this planet other than wheat they are used for. Jonathan Townsend has clearly never seen the reaction this illusion gets from an audience of laymenor magicians for that matter (Ive seen it both ways, the former many times).

How many people on this forum have seen Mike Caveneys presentation of the Gozinta Boxes?

How about young Kyle Eschens work with the Chinese Sticks?

And where is the line drawn, Jonathan, on everyday objects? Rope used by countless successful magicians doesnt look anything like something used these days. Not many people left know what a laundry line is.

How does one explain their silver, brass, copper, or chrome cups used for the Cups and Balls? Does Johnny Palmer explain them away? Does he have to? Did Vernon explain his very ornate cups?

And what the hell are those tiny baseballs or knitted balls all about anyway?

And Im willing to place a very large bet that David Alexander would just as soon shoot himself in the foot before retiring his Head Chopper because some magician is worried that it is a contrived prop.

Good magic

Dustin

*I highly recommend his Conjuring Anthology and his new bookwhich I think is a masterpieceTechnique and Understanding for those who need a dose of his knowledge. If these books are too costly, his lecture notes The Secret No One Tells You is affordable and has a distilled version of his thoughts. http://www.jimsteinmeyer.com/
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/11/10 06:42 PM

Dustin, I like that you are noticing the distinctions between the contrived, foisted and merely present. While a recognized master may fuss in a masterly way with such things - they may well be upstaged by the person who makes a borrowed ring appear in a ball of yarn under someone's inverted coffee cup - as context and meaning are what make magic, not the props.

From there - it seems your ability to remotely read the minds and memories of others remains a work in progress. Why anyone presuming to be called a magician would think much less write something to the effect "i know what you know/have seen" outside of obvious parody, continues to elude me. IMHO few things tell of an incompetent magician as quickly as mindreading in statements - excepting perhaps unstated presuppositions which a moment's reflection finds specious.

As to getting David Alexander to shoot himself in the foot... was that an attempt at humor?

Not that I have anything against the Carrot Top type prop comic act where stuff is shown for giggles - it's just not (IMHO) usually the way to get the most magic from the props.

Keeping in mind that a sufficiently good entertainer can get a sufficiently good audience response as they perform just about any trick, we would likely benefit by keeping a focus on the magic itself and removing those things which distract or worse beget explanations (accurate or not) as to how the magic is accomplished.

So, how about that recycler item? Does it help bring the venerable square circle some contemporary context?
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/11/10 08:01 PM

Jonathan,

Am I wrong? Have you seen (live) Kalin & Jinger perform "Spiker"? (And my comment was an observation, not mindreading.)

And please read my comment about David Alexander again: I am not trying to get him to do anything.

One more thing: Im tickled to read that Kalin & Jinger, Kyle Eschen, Johnny Palmer, and Mike Caveney are sufficiently good in your estimation.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/11/10 08:14 PM

Dustin Stinett wrote:... Jonathan Townsend has clearly never seen ...


:rolleyes:

So how about that recycler? IMHO it seems a pretty good example for this topic.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/11/10 08:35 PM

I cannot answer your question because I've never seen it.

And I have given up on you answering any of mine. I can only guessonce again by observing what you are saying (and not via "reading your mind" as you keep insisting)why you will not.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/11/10 08:37 PM

Dustin, try the link in the post.
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Postby Bill Duncan » 01/12/10 12:11 AM

Dustin,
Perhaps the reason that magic boxes and the like are accepted by audiences is that for the whole of the recorded history of theatrical magic, questionable looking devices have been displayed as part of the standard kit? Perhaps audiences assume that tricky boxes are what magic is That might explain the power of close-up magic using common props like dice, or currency.

As for the cups and balls, well pretty much every presentation Ive seen for it talks about how its an ancient trick going back to the days of the pharaohs which kind if explains the unusual nature of the objects.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 01/12/10 10:58 AM

I agree the square circle is a classic. And in my opinion so is the dove/duck pan, change bag, die box, Chinese sticks, Phantom tube and many others. Close up magic has its classics too. Cups and balls, the Okito coin box, the Chop cup, a bill tube and many other tricks are classic magic tricks.

One of the funny things that I have found over the years when I was working at the Old Bishops Magic shop was - that some magicians would come into the magic shop - point to some so and so trick and say that they would never buy that trick because it looks like a magic prop.

As I remember the Harry Potter movies - they were filled with all sorts of interesting magic looking props that in my opinion would spark the imagination of the audience watching the movie.

I think that magicians - being people that do magic - can have interesting looking props in a magic show. I have never had any audience member (other than a magician) look at a prop on the stage - before I am about to do a show - and say - hey you got a magic prop there that looks like a magic prop. Yes - this is a magic show and in a magic show - there are magic props in this show.

Over the years of doing stand up shows I have used - the square circle - budda temple screens, the phantom tube, Chinese sticks, whats next, chain escape, dove and duck pans, linking rings, the wrong and wrong again stop light trick, the vanishing wand in the newspaper, a vanishing cane and many others. I have no problem if any of them look to much like a magic prop because I do a magic show.

Over the years of doing close up magic I have used - Okito coin boxes, the shell game, cups and balls (several sets) sponge balls - the bill tube, chop cup and I still use half dollars and English pennies for a winged silver coins across routine. And I have no problem with any of these props looking like a magic prop including the English pennies and the half dollars.

I never considered magic about the props.

In my opinion the magic is in the magician and the effect of magic is in the mind of the audience if they allow their imagination to take part in the entertainment.

Just my opinion.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/12/10 11:59 AM

It's been in the catalogs for generations and found in almost every magic shop... it's a classic?

It's been shown that way to generations of magic shop customers ... it's a classic?

Not that there's anything wrong with offering a tour of the magic shop - especially when the tourguide is genial.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/12/10 12:29 PM

I don't think all tricks with these common props are bad by any means ... it really doesn't matter what props you use if you are a good magician. If you're a bad magician, you're going to suck no matter what props you use.

Frankly, for young audiences, they're more interested in you and what you're doing if you have interesting props.

The Square Circle is an interesting prop because it uses black art, and is based on invisibility--which is intriguing. You can stare at the Square Circle and not see the black tube sitting there in front of you. Magicians enjoy that type of effect, and they enjoy doing it for people.

And the trick is simple to do, and that pretty much answers the whole questions.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/12/10 12:32 PM

Presenting the apparatus: (context - dance routines seperate issue)

0) here is my cabinet of curios - collected during my service to the Empire out east.
1) here is one of magicdom's eternal treasures - presented for your pleasure.
2) here are some of magic's more amazing items and their history
3) here are some things magicians have discovered over the centuries that while we don't fully understand them - they don't tend to permanently turn people into frogs when they go wrong.
4) here are some of the artifacts discovered in alchemist's troves long buried under the rubble of fallen kingdoms that predate Camelot.
5) these were made by craftsmen inspired or possessed by alien intelligences - we are researching their uses.

IMHO: so many ways to go besides the history channel.

PS did you know that one the actually played "The Planet of The Apes" on the History Channel? I mean the Charlton Heston movie. Really.
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Postby Glenn Bishop » 01/12/10 12:36 PM

I think that the square circle is a classic and if I remember right. I remember reading that it was a hit in Les Levants show. As was the Phantom tube in the show of Al Baker, and the Chinese sticks for Roy Benson, and the Rice Bowls for Charlie Miller.

Looking like a magic prop in a magic show performed by a magician - to me is not a bad thing. However I do feel that it is also important to do a few tricks with things that the audience can look at - and things that look like everyday objects - cards - coins - balls - all become mysteries in the hands of a magician. If they are done with a good routine in an entertaining way that is.

I remember back in the old magic shop days. We would get some card magicians in that did nothing but card tricks with a regular deck. I remember one magician that was into cards told me at one time that he would not soil his hands by using a trick deck of cards. Although I do agree that using a real deck of cards takes skill - and has some advantages - but as an entertainer I have no problem using a Svengali deck (or any other trick deck if it was right for the routine) to force a card in my card duck routine - even when I can force a card several ways. And I classic force three cards when I am doing the card sword - just like my Dad (Billy Bishop) used to do.

I remember Jack Gwynne told me a story about how he was visiting some magic club in the old days. And he was going to do a card trick. He asked a magician to pick a card - then he shuffled it into the deck. Then he fanned the deck face up and showed the faces of the cards and they were all the same. He said - Boys I do magic 4 times a day (in vaudeville) I cant afford to have them (an audience) pick the wrong card!

Remembering Leipzig - He was darn sure of every trick he did. I think that was said somewhere about Leipzig.

A magic wand looks like a magic prop and I have no problem using a magic wand in the vanishing wand trick - in the newspaper. And the Phantom tube is still part of my stand up family magic show!

But that is just my opinion.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/12/10 01:24 PM

It's very easy to think that something like the Chinese Sticks is just dumb. However, when you've seen a pro do a great routine (particularly when three sticks are employed) you can see its value.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/12/10 01:41 PM

Can one work the Histed pompom stick item in the same way one starts the (classic) chinese sticks routine? IE the sections seperated with both held in the same hand concealing the in-between.?
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 01/12/10 07:55 PM

JT:

Regarding Steve Axtells Recycler prop: Its fine; terrific in fact. I think Id do things a little differently than he does, but its fine. But perhaps more importantly, do I think one has to have that prop to do that kind of presentation? Nope. It can be done with any Square Circle, perhaps just painted green. And I think it would be even better if a kid came up (too short to see down into the thing, obviously) who wore a hat or something that had the spinning symbol, etc. Theres lots of room for some fun stuff with that old prop.

But do you think a bad magician couldnt make that presentation bad? Does the prop make that much of a difference?

The friggin prop doesnt matter: It still needs to be in the correct hands and those hands need to be connected to the correct brain.

Bill,

Regarding your comment that the public has come to accept such odd boxes and stuff: I understand your point, but theres a bit of a flaw to it: Wouldnt bad magic with acceptable props be okay? Good magicand I dont care what the format isis good magic.

I think close-up is more powerful (even when using weird props; Skinner killed with the old Ball Vase) because its right under the audiences noses. Its a more visceral experience than platform or stage. (Kind of like the fact that live magic is way more powerful than TV magic; even if its the same effects being performed.)

But that being said, bad close-up magic sucks as much as bad stage magic; its about the magician performing good magic regardless of what it is.

Dustin

(And with that, Im done; much to the delight of those whofor reasons passing understandingcontinue reading what I write even though they dont like me.)
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/12/10 08:29 PM

Dustin,

I'm fairly certain that a lousy performer could pretty much make any trick fall flat. For example: imagine a dolt using the Flying rig and trying to add patter and proving moves rather than just letting the music move the piece.

One of my elders and betters summed up the larger issues in presentation in the form of two questions:
1) What is the performer's relationship to the audience?
2) What is the performer's relationship to the magic (in the tricks performed)?
When an aware performer can make those decisions and use them to construct a work - things can go well. There are plenty of "character types" to play in performance and plenty of ways for a character to relate to magic - making too many combinations IMHO to offer anything close to a simple rule or two about what would work for an audience.

As a scripted performance proceeds, the audience is prompted to move through both following base actions and also some sentimental progression of perceptions- the discovery of character or other dramatic arc. Okay let's take the character and scripting as a given and look at the physical props, our topic in this thread:
Does the prop fit in with the scripted setting, character and plan of action for the work?
Does the script offer a sufficient accounting for the magic in (in emotional/musical or rational/structural) context to permit the audience to keep focus on that context or does something pull them out of context into puzzle solving mode when that's not what the script calls for?

I go as far as to suggest that folks make some decisions and refine their works based on audience feedback. A real liberal here - whatever works for you and your audiences.

Ach - way too much writing - probably put folks to sleep. Here come the z's. Say goodnight Gracie.

-jon
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/12/10 08:42 PM

No, there are plenty of tricks that still work, and are still amazing, even when terribly presented. Tricks with a prop are among those that often fall into this cateogory. Tricks like "Flying" are entirely different.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 01/12/10 10:38 PM

Ok, let's go with that -
is it due to novelty or action, surprise in result?
how many times could they see the trick and it would not degenerate into a puzzle?

perhaps a few specifics would help in getting nailing down what permits a trick to "work" independently (or even despite) the presentation.

ventriloquism comes to mind -
The original Han Ping Chien Coin Trick
matrix
the milk pitcher milk vanish
multum in parvo

??
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