Trick and Presentation Names

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Postby Pete McCabe » 06/29/03 10:49 PM

While writing the recent article about coming up with effective names for presentations, I started writing down a few examples. Not to provide a list of available titles, but as a creative exercise. Anything that gives you a new perspective on something can be the spark that triggers a new trick, or presentation, or even move.

I remember at the A-1 convention a few years ago, Jerry Andrus was showing a few of us some of his optical illusions, which are quite striking. At one point I said something about "Ill keep my eye on it" and Jerry stopped and asked me to say it again. Something in the remark caught in his brain.

Shortly after I came up with a variation of the card to ringbox effect where you use a tall thin square box with a spherical top that looks like a letter "i". You put the signed selection on the table and put the box on top of it -- keeping your "i" on it. Then the card is turned over and its blank. The box is opened and the signed selection is folded up inside.

Anyway, as you can see there are more than a few names. I dont doubt some of these have already been used as the names of tricks (Ive actually got tricks or presentations with a couple of these names). But again, the point is to stimulate your mind, not to dictate to it.


A Flair for the Dramatic

A Penny for Your Thoughts

All the Kings Horses

Blackout

Blank Expression

Buck Rogers

Bullets Over Broadway

Calling Card

Card Catalog

Caught Red-Handed

Club Sandwich

Coin of the Realm

Color Guard

Courting Disaster

Dont Play with Matches

Double Down

ESP-N

Fleeting Glimpse

Flight of Fancy

Fool for Love

Fool Me Once, Shame On You; Fool Me Twice, Shame On Me

Forward Pass

Friendship Ring

Give em enough rope

Head em off at the pass

Heads or Tails

Hip Pocket

I Cannot Tell A Lie

Ice Cream Float

Index Card

Liberty Bell

Lucky Guess

Mirror Image

Mumbo Jumbo

On the Turn of a Friendly Card

Over and Out

Pack of Lies

Painted From Memory

Penny Ante

Point of No Return

Reality Check

Riot Act

Show and Tell

Signed, Sealed, and Delivered

Suicide Squeeze

Suit Yourself

Supreme Court

Take a wild guess

Tell Me Something I Dont Know

The Count of Monte Cristo

The Cutting Edge

The Forward Pass

Three on a Match

To Coin a Phrase

Twist of Fate

Wild Flower

You Cant Handle The Truth
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 06/30/03 10:12 AM

Titles for tricks and presentations can be mind-tweaking. J. K. Hartman, Max Maven, Peter Duffie, Stewart James, and others are and were very adept at coming up with clever, memorable titles. I'm now remembering Michael Skinner telling me how much he enjoyed my title for an Ackerman effect: "The Fickle Card's Fingered Fate." Marlo occasionally made the faithful grin with titles such as "All You Had To Do Was Watch and Still You're Not Happy" and "Let's Ambush and Kill the Collectors." Hartman titled a clock effect "Hickory Dickory Deck."

The list of such great titles is long and titles have improved steadily over the years. Check out old magic catalogues and ads if you want to see how pedestrian and cliched most titles were.


Interestingly enough, some of the titles suggested by Pete have ALREADY been used. To wit:

A Penny for Your Thoughts
Calling Card
Caught Red-Handed
Club Sandwich
Flight of Fancy
Fool for Love
Forward Pass
Give em enough rope
Lucky Guess
Mirror Image
Mumbo Jumbo
Pack of Lies
Point of No Return
Reality Check
Show and Tell
Signed, Sealed, and Delivered
Suit Yourself
The Count of Monte Cristo (Check APOCALYPSE)
Three on a Match
Twist of Fate

David L. Bendix had some weird titles. To wit: "The Peach Pit That Thinks."

How about...

Eenny-Meany Malini
Catching Bullets
Wazzat Change
Mave's Fave
Counting Sheep, Catching Thieves
Entering the Matrix
Blue-Pill Box Revue
Ambitious To a Fault

et cetera, et cetera...
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Postby Ian Kendall » 06/30/03 11:48 AM

At the risk of being the evil one again, as I have not yet read Pete's article, this is one of the aspects of magic that I find irritating in the extreme.

Magicians try to come up with snappy names for effects, in itself not that bad a thing, that often have little or no relation to the effect. Since the name is only apparant to other magicians (how many people _really_ said in a show 'now I'd like to show you Blizzard'?) the upshot seems to be who has the larger thesaurus.

It gets worse when we get to advertising. I've just grabbed a magazine from the floor (Feb 2003 Magic) and flicked through the adverts. A particularly good bad example is the Dan Harlan tape set. Six volumes, three hundred and eighteen effects and none of them is apparant from reading the advert. The only way to find out the effects is to hope Mike Close details every one, or buy the tapes unseen.

Another tape that caught my eye, but not enough to stick in my mind, was advertising an underground minor deity's wares. The list of contents had the line '<name of trick> So good we nearly didn't tip it'. Could they have been any more vague?

Even when I get the tapes home it continues. In my current house arrest I've been able to watch some tapes again, but looking through them I see a list of trick names that mean nothing to me. I have to scan through the tapes to find something of interest, greatly reducing the pleasure. Is it too much to ask that if we must have catchy titles we could at least have a meaningful description of the effect? Since the publishers are trying to get me to buy their products it seems sensible to let me know what it is I am buying.

Ambiguity has it's place, I admit, but in the world of Magic where returning goods because they were not what you expected is rare why are vendors resorting to techniques more suited to car sales? For example - a car manufacturer advertises their new car, pointing out that it has 'interesting features'. Your curiosity piqued you go for a test drive and find out that the features are a CD changer in the boot, but you only have vinyl so it is useless to you and you do not buy the car.

I wonder how many dealers would let me watch a tape before I paid for it to make sure there was something of interest on it.

I much prefer the pedestrian titles that Jon alludes to. If a trick does exactly what it says on the tin I'm much more likely to take interest. These days I automatically ignore the fancy names and snappy titles.

Take care, Ian
Minority of one, and getting used to it.
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Postby Guest » 06/30/03 01:28 PM

Ian I'd suggest that you take a look at Mr. McCabe's article before posting on a thread that concerns it.

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Postby Ian Kendall » 06/30/03 02:02 PM

I was commenting on the general state of trick names, not Pete's article, which I understand from what was said here is about the thought process of naming tricks. Had I omitted that sentence would you have been so dismissive?

I stand by what I said, if only to assert my right to have an opinion. That you disagree with my opinion is your right, but it might be conducive to a productive discussion if you could elaborate on what it is in my post with which you disagree.

Take care, Ian
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Postby Guest » 06/30/03 02:13 PM

First of all I apologize if I came across as rude. The only reason I think you should read Mr. McCabe's article is because he seems to have the same point of view about trick titles that you do. Your post seemed to be making critical assumptions about his thoughts on trick titles but that may have been my mistake.

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Postby Guest » 06/30/03 02:31 PM

Stepping aside from the possible issues of who said what and meant which, ;)

When I did the material for the New Invocation, Tony told me that hardest part of coming up with the issue was getting the writers to come up with reasonable names for their material.

My attitude is this (and I have only published a handful of stuff, so I don't have the creative issues someone with a larger published body of work might have): relate what the trick does to the presentation AND the props used.

Thrice Drawn Circle, a presentation using the Center Tear and Needle Thru Arm was titled on the presentation (a Wiccan Circle casting) AND the fact that the Circle is drawn three times on the paper.

Compassetic (mistitled Oompasetic for reasons of either typography - typeface was hard to distinguish, or Tony's inability to read my rotten writin') was based on the fact that it was something eccentric, using a compass.

Perhaps this approach might be similar to the one used by some, while others go for thematic runs, such as Max Maven's series or whatnot.

As long as the title AND the effect stick in one's mind - what more can one ask?

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 06/30/03 03:01 PM

A agree that trick titles should have some relevance or connection to the trick it names; however, the reason for trying to choose original cognomens is for the purpose of distinguishing it from hundreds of other similiar tricks. One could discover 87 entries for "Card Location Supreme" or "Ne Plus Ultra" with no way to tell them apart from using indexes and search engines. In a way, it's what happens when you enter "David Copperfield" into Google and get a mixture of entries that combine references to the Dickens' character and the celebrated illusionist.

So, what's in a name?

Lots.
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Postby Pete Biro » 06/30/03 03:59 PM

QUIZ: How many of you know what you got from Harry Stanley's Unique Studio when you ordered the "Swadling Swindle?" :confused:
Stay tooned.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 06/30/03 11:49 PM

Ian:

I certainly agree with your comments about meaningless trick names in advertisements. However I can see how someone reading your post would take it as derogatory towards my essay, which does not in fact promote the things you are criticizing.

One of the points of my article was to draw attention to the names of presentations rather than tricks, the idea being to put more thought into how the trick is perceived by the audience. From this perspective I find it a fun and occasionally useful exercise to try to come up with a name first and see if it inspires an idea for the presentation.

There is one benefit to this approach: if a presentation is inspired by a name, it may be more likely to both a) have a point; and b) be a single, cohesive whole.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 06/30/03 11:50 PM

Ian:

I certainly agree with your comments about meaningless trick names in advertisements. However I can see how someone reading your post would take it as derogatory towards my essay, which does not in fact promote the things you are criticizing.

One of the points of my article was to draw attention to the names of presentations rather than tricks, the idea being to put more thought into how the trick is perceived by the audience. From this perspective I find it a fun and occasionally useful exercise to try to come up with a name first and see if it inspires an idea for the presentation.

There is one benefit to this approach: if a presentation is inspired by a name, it may be more likely to both a) have a point; and b) be a single, cohesive whole.
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Postby Ian Kendall » 07/01/03 06:16 AM

Wow, bit of a hornet's nest overnight :)

It seems Pete's article was about one thing that subconciously triggered something in by brain that caused a threadjack as I set off on a wee diatribe about descriptions of magic tricks. Mea Culpa.

However, boiling blood aside, I think some important points have been made. As Jon said, there must be hunners of 'card to pocket' in the printed record and I acknowledge the need for a variation of titles, but it is when the _effect_ is not explained that things get irritating.

For example; you see an advert for a new trick called Swadling Swindle. Hmm, you think as you are assuredly familiar with magic. That must be one of Bob Swadling's flipper card tricks. I'll send off the cheque right away.

What you get (perhaps) is a large blanket with which to swaddle the head of the spectator while you steal his wallet.

Some description of the effect would have swayed your purchasing decision either way, but it is deceptive, even for us, to omit that information.

One of the tapes I was watching last night was Sankey's Short and Sweet, which has _absolutely_ no useful information on the box...

Anyway, feel free to swing the debate back to the intended path. Threadjack over.

Take care, Ian
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Postby Guest » 07/01/03 07:10 AM

Impressive comments all around, frankly.

One thing comes to mind right off, in Making Magic Memorable, a tape from Michael Ammar, he makes the premise that a trick name should follow the KISS principle:

Keep It Slogan Simple

So the slogan relates to what the trick IS and what happens. Examples would be Card on Ceiling, Coins Thru the Table, Linking Rings, Cups and Balls, etc.

While this is great for an audience following a printed program, it does little for the literature and those of us who are looking for a reference to a specific trick.

So - as a suggestion - to the publishers as well as the creators - try doing what Dr. Sawa and our publisher did in the book about him - set SECTIONS for specific props/trick types and then title the effects individually.

Beginners would appreciate that as there are at least six different Grandmother's Necklace tricks out there and listing them as such and then by title, might help stem confusion.

Just some random thoughts before the first cup of coffee.

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 07/01/03 08:43 AM

How often will the spectator know the name of the trick? For example, it would enhance the presentation of the effect mentioned above to mention, "Keep your eye/I on it". It wouldn't help the spectator any to know that Paul Curry's trick is named "Out of this World".
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Postby Rafael Benatar » 07/02/03 04:04 AM

That's an interesting issue, Bill, and one I have strong feelings about. To begin with, you should be able to tell if the titles are meant for magicians. An obvious case is "Pinkie Does It" from Royal Road, where the title gives the method away.

As opposed to classical music, where you say, for example, "Brandenburg Concerto number 6 by Bach", the title used, or the lack thereof, can make a difference on the way people perceive magic. If we do use a title for laymen, we should consider relating it to our own presentation of the trick rather than to its technical premise. Out of This World, for example, could be called, as far as the audience is concerned, "Intuition", "Color Sensitive", "Mental Control" and many other things. I'd only use a title, perhaps, it if there is a printed program (you can always thank Paul Curry in the credits). But to verbally say "this trick is called so-and-so" will, more often than not, get you out of character (see Nelms). Even if you are playing yourself it will get you out of the character of yourself as a magician and portray the image of somebody who does tricks, rather than of somebody who does magic.

Having said that, I think most of the time, especially in informal shows or relaxed performances, it is convenient not to use titles and present the magic as spontaneous. After all, that's what magic is about. For me, the purest kind of magic is about doing something because you want to and need to (as David Stone brilliantly explains and demonstrates in his lecture), after having carefully structured the tricks to create those needs.

If you do a strait jacket escape and mention, as many people do, that Houdini used to perform that feat, you are planting the thought in the spectators' minds that the jacket was made for someone to escape from it. I think you're better off saying a policeman gave it to you, for example.

The point is that the audience doesn't need to be aware, or we don't always need them to make them aware, of the fact that tricks exist as pieces one can learn. Even calling them tricks affects their impression (i.e. "so that's a trick one can learn"). I prefer the image of "performing magic" or, better still, simply "doing magic".
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Postby Guest » 07/02/03 07:17 AM

Originally posted by Rafael Benatar:
That's an interesting issue, Bill, and one I have strong feelings about. To begin with, you should be able to tell if the titles are meant for magicians. An obvious case is "Pinkie Does It" from Royal Road, where the title gives the method away.

As opposed to classical music, where you say, for example, "Brandenburg Concerto number 6 by Bach", the title used, or the lack thereof, can make a difference on the way people perceive magic. If we do use a title for laymen, we should consider relating it to our own presentation of the trick rather than to its technical premise. Out of This World, for example, could be called, as far as the audience is concerned, "Intuition", "Color Sensitive", "Mental Control" and many other things. I'd only use a title, perhaps, it if there is a printed program (you can always thank Paul Curry in the credits). But to verbally say "this trick is called so-and-so" will, more often than not, get you out of character (see Nelms). Even if you are playing yourself it will get you out of the character of yourself as a magician and portray the image of somebody who does tricks, rather than of somebody who does magic.

Having said that, I think most of the time, especially in informal shows or relaxed performances, it is convenient not to use titles and present the magic as spontaneous. After all, that's what magic is about. For me, the purest kind of magic is about doing something because you want to and need to (as David Stone brilliantly explains and demonstrates in his lecture), after having carefully structured the tricks to create those needs.

If you do a strait jacket escape and mention, as many people do, that Houdini used to perform that feat, you are planting the thought in the spectators' minds that the jacket was made for someone to escape from it. I think you're better off saying a policeman gave it to you, for example.

The point is that the audience doesn't need to be aware, or we don't always need them to make them aware, of the fact that tricks exist as pieces one can learn. Even calling them tricks affects their impression (i.e. "so that's a trick one can learn"). I prefer the image of "performing magic" or, better still, simply "doing magic".
Excellent points, Maestro Benatar.

Because Bill was responding, in part, to my post, perhaps I should expand on my take on the title issue, for clarity's sake.

I rarely use titles in my own performances, but I try to keep the effects something that can be summed up in a simple phrase. By doing so, this helps cement the particular performance piece into the memories of the audience and makes it easier to tell their friends about what happened during my show.

So, the card to forehead (which I do with a line that puts the "sting" onto me, not on the volunteer - an important point, IMHO), one cup trick, coins through table, unlinking rubberbands, the key that rolls over on its own, card from pocket, the coin purse and bills trick, all tend to stick in the minds of the people who see them better, simply because they are easier to explain.

I agree that the printed program should have your own titles for the tricks, with thanks to the creator(s) included, as this makes the routines look more like real performance pieces, like musical pieces on a concert program. It also lets the magicians in the audience have a clue as to what's going on and that you DO care about the originator(s) of the work you will be doing. An excellent idea, IMHO.

And to call them "tricks" - aargh! That word is as bad as "patter!"

Just some thoughts before my first cup of tea this morning.

Kindest regards,

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
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Postby Rafael Benatar » 07/02/03 04:16 PM

Hi Lee. Yes, we agree on all that. Card in Forehead is a funny example. People often ask me to the trick with the potato and the onion (cups and balls). Thus, a booklet I wrote years ago on the C&B is titled: Transit Cups and Balls, or The trick with the Frui...don't say it. I call the guy who asks the dreadful question Mr. Frudont. It's a Doubtfire kind of thing.
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Postby Linds » 07/02/03 04:41 PM

Pete

I waited a while on this one to see what was posted.

Swadling Swindle = gaffed coins. Harry Stanley had a talent for this sort of thing. ;)

Cheers
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Postby Guest » 07/03/03 04:50 PM

Many magicians or road shows use two names for effects. There's the program name which is aimed at the lay audience, and the name the show troop uses amongst themselves.
Two colorful samples: On the Thurston show, one of the illusions was listed in the program as "The Girl Without a Middle." On the show it was: "No Guts."

On the Copperfield show, he used to do a levitation (which Henning also did) called: "The Water Fountain Levitation." But the Copperfield show people referred to it as: "Golden Showers." It was even stenciled on the crates.

Oh Yeah... on the Magic Capades Full evening show, we had a darling little South American Miniature Horse. Because of his mane, his "official" name was "Flaxey." Backstage we always called him: "Grunt Cakes."
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Postby Guest » 07/04/03 05:47 AM

Well, exactly Dennis!

Surely when naming something it is important to remember WHO the name is useful for. As already stated there's little point telling an audience of lay people that this next trick is called Ricochet for example.

While we're on the subject, can I ask about the countless card effects that called the # card monte?

The Two Card Monte seems to have no relation at all to The Three Card Monte, The 2000 3 Card Monte, The Ultimonte and the Five Card Monte. So what does Monte actually mean in magic? Is it just a meaningless term that we use when we can't think of a better name?

Dictionary.com has this to say:

4 entries found for monte.
monte ( P ) Pronunciation Key (mnt)
n.
A card game in which two cards are chosen from four laid out face-up and a player bets that one of the two will be matched in suit by the dealer before the other one.


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
[Spanish, mountain, pile, monte, from Italian, from Latin mns, mont-, mountain. See men-2 in Indo-European Roots.]

Source: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
Copyright 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
[Buy it]


monte

\Mon"te\, n. [Sp., lit., mountain, hence, the stock of cards remaining after laying out a certain number, fr. L. mons, montis, mountain.] A favorite gambling game among Spaniards, played with dice or cards.


Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.


monte

\Mon"te\, n. In Spanish America, a wood; forest; timber land; esp., in parts of South America, a comparatively wooden region.


Source: Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.


monte

n : a gambling card game of Spanish origin; 3 or 4 cards are dealt face up and players bet that one of the will be matched before the others as the cards are dealt from the pack one at a time [syn: four-card monte, three-card monte]


Source: WordNet 1.6, 1997 Princeton University
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Postby Frank Starsinic » 08/07/03 05:15 PM

My personal favorites are those (and I don't know why) such as the tricks of Eddie Fechter..

That's It
Be Honest, What is it
I've Got A Surprise For You
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