Michael Ammar Cups & Balls - Book & Videos

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Postby Robert Kane » 02/17/02 08:10 AM

I have been studying the Ammar Cups & Balls book/video series for the past two years and, as a result, feel that I will be able to eventually perform an entertaining, professional-grade Cups & Balls routine with continued study, practice and critique.

Overall, I have found the Ammar series to be logical and user friendly. I believe it covers all of the basics of the Cups & Balls as well as some of the wonderful finer points. A great start and a superb foundation to launch study. I believe that this was Ammars goal in creating this book and he should be thanked for putting out such a fine product. Special thanks from magic bunglers such as myself.

I feel the best parts of the series are the instructions on basic sleights and routine sequences. I also found the instruction on final loads and misdirection to be useful, especially for some one like me who was intimidated by the thought of secretly putting a lemon under a cup.

The baby-step by baby-step teaching approach in both the book and video, was good for me as a neophyte, but I imagine that this approach would be tedious for an intermediate learner. The various interviews with successful performers located at the back of the book as well as the bibliography with explanatory notes were fun and contained good food for thought.

The videos are a great supplemental tool to pull all of the learning together, especially to see the speed and real time action of the sleights, sequences and routines. Also, the history sections with Bob Read are very good and add a nice change of pace and perspective to what could have ended up being just another magic teaching video.

As constructive criticism, I think line drawings in the book would have been better than black & white photographs a la Card College. I find that the photographs are not as strong in bringing understanding like line drawings. Of course, this is where the accompanying videos become particularly useful in helping the user better understand the action.

I also dislike the green highlighting and arrows used in conjunction with the book text. I often found the highlighting and especially the arrows to be distracting or just plain confusing. I would have preferred numbered figures, again a la Card College.

Today, I continue to use the book and videos and am really enjoying the learning process. All in all a great learning tool.

I do remember controversy and heavy criticism about the Ammar series when they hit the market and were initially reviewed a few years back. Some of the criticism was deserved and should be used to improve the series if it is ever reprinted.

However, having personally used and studied the series for two years, I have found it to be well worth my investment. Indeed, the series is the foundation of my work, which I hope will continue to improve to point that I am able to perform an entertaining and professional-grade routine.

At the same time, I can also see the weak points and, no doubt, others might have others to point out.

Having said the above, what do others think about the Ammar Cups & Balls series now that time has passed and folks have had a good chance to really study and absorb the material?

Appreciate your comments.
:)

[ February 17, 2002: Message edited by: Robert Kane ]
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/17/02 11:18 AM

Ammar said the "rush" the publisher put on him to get to print caused the Johnny Paul (and others that used SPONGE BALLS) was left out, and in retrospect he wished he had gotten that area of rhe cups and balls into the book/video. :mad:
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Postby Robert Kane » 02/24/02 03:04 PM

A 1000 folks on the Genii Forum and no one except the venerable Pete Biro has an opinion on this book/video series? :confused:

Maybe it is an over done topic and I am behind the curve? Would not be the first time. :rolleyes:
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/24/02 03:10 PM

you need provacative subject title... like

Jon Benet's Mother knows Jeff Busby

or

O.J. Simpson hoarding Paul Fox Cups

you get it? :mad: :cool: ;) :D
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Postby Brad Jeffers » 02/24/02 03:54 PM

Robert, I myself have never read the Ammar book, but if you want an opinion about it, I would suggest you read Jamy Ian Swiss's six page review, which appeared in Genii around the time the book first came out. It was quite interesting (and quite controversial).
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 02/24/02 04:15 PM

The problem with the Ammar book is that it strives to give the illusion of teaching sleights and routines clearly, but fails utterly. The business with the green arrows and underlining adds clutter, not clarity. Michael Ammar is a good teacher in person, or on videotape, but he is not a good writer. That's why he's abandoned the printed page for the picture show--which suits him and his audience perfectly.
I can't really think of any book that has done the subject of Cups and Balls really well, though certainly any number of books contain excellent descriptions of individual routines, such as the Gertner routine in "Steel and Silver."
Doing any kind of overall, encyclopedic book on Cups and Balls is an enterprise that is doomed to failure before it is even started. Ditto for any kind of videotape or DVD series. For every item you cover, there are 20 you miss. AND, there is no ONE person capable of describing all the different routines and sleights well.
From a literary standpoint, the work involved is titanic: that's why you've never seen any more books like "CoinMagic" or "David Roth's Expert Coin Magic." They require too much work to be profitable.
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Postby Robert Kane » 02/24/02 08:30 PM

Hi Brad: I read the Jamy Ian Swiss review when it came out after the Ammar book was published.

I am curious what people thought now that the controversy had died down and they had the opportunity to develop their own opinion based on their use of the book....good, bad or indifferent.

I remember that the Swiss review was controversial, but definitely well-written and thought provoking. :)
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Postby Guest » 04/02/02 04:08 PM

I learned Michael's great routine from the Joe Steven's tape he made many, many years ago. I bought the book and the tapes when they came out because at the time, Richard Kaufman and I were discussing the possiblility of a "complete" cups and balls video that would have taught many older routines that are in print, but not on video.

Having already learned Michael's routine, there was little additional benefit for me from either the book or the videos. Perhaps there are still folks who learn better (or enjoy learing more) from books. This allows you the opportunity to contribute any of your own natural movements, without copying Michael's natural movements wholesale. (People do move differently depending on their height, weight, natural energy level, etc.) If one is interested in just learning Michael's routine in the shortest amount of time, I would say the videos are the best bet. I have to agree with Jamy in his review in this regard. There's my two cents!

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Postby Guest » 04/02/02 10:34 PM

Hi Robert,

I have had a set of Rings-n-Things mini copper cups and balls for several years but never really had any books or videos on routining. When I got Ammar's books and tapes quickly and very easily learned presentations of the cups, how to design your own routine and how to put it all together from opening, middle and ending or final load sequence. I think Michael does an excellent job teaching the cups and balls. Also have some of his Card magic videos and they are also very easy to follow and learn from.

The c/b books really work together well with the tapes. Especially if you can't get to the VCR you can always relax in recliner and read Ammars books.

Share the Wonder,

Harry :)
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 04/22/02 10:12 AM

I purchased Volume 2 of Michael Ammar's Cups and Balls Video and found it to be quite worthwhile. Intermediate magicians can certainly learn items from this video such as the Vernon/Mora Wand Spin Vanish and the helpful hints on the Final Loading sequences. The real treasures on this and the first video however are the Bob Read lectures on the history of the Cups and Balls which are utterly fascinating and Dai Vernon's performance of his cups and balls routine on the Mark Wilson Show (on the second tape). The Professor did a beautiful job performing his routine from the opening sequences to the wand spin vanish and his final loads. Any magician even thinking about doing the cups needs to have this tape if only for this performance. My only complaint was having to see children in the audience constantly waving to the television camera behind the Professor as he bravely and elegantly did his routine. I'm sure Mark Wilson did not expect that behavior from those children when he taped the Professor and I'm grateful he included Vernon in his show. Thank you for that Mr. Wilson. As for the Ammar book-I saw it on the shelf at the magic shop and found those dammed highlights and arrows to be overkill. Stick with the tapes.
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