The Pass

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Chris Bailey » 01/14/03 10:04 AM

Hey guys, I was reading a different forum and there was quite a bit of discussion by one individual trying to tell everyone that the Pass is a sleight that really isn't that good and that you should use other methods. I've been using the pass for years (as well as other controls) and personally I think it's a great sleight. I know there are a lot of pros here so I wanted to hear from them. How many of you use the pass? What are your thoughts on using it under fire?
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Postby Guest » 01/14/03 10:49 AM

I use the pass a lot. I use an Invisible Pass, a Riffle Pass, a Turnover Pass, a bluff pass and a spread pass, all depending upon the situation and what is required. I also use several variations of the pass as well. If it fits, I use it, if it doesn;t I use something else. it IS nice to have in ones arsenal though.
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Postby Guest » 01/14/03 11:06 AM

In the far off days when I did magic I used the pass. Larry Jennings was an absolute devotee of sleight of hand and had the ambition of performing his sleights with such perfection that he himself could not detect them.

One night I was performing in the Close Up Room at the Magic Castle and Larry was in the top row. When it became time to do the pass I just winked at him and openly cut the cards relying on mis-direction to prevent the audience from either seeing the action or attaching any importance to it if they did. It worked. Larry fumed. (which was the whole object of the maneuver as he and I had an on-going disagreement on the relative value of skill at sleight or skill at audience control. He often stated his disinterest in mere entertaining.)
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Postby Michel Huot » 01/14/03 11:14 AM

I almost always use THE PASS to control a card but I always do it on an offbeat like, in my opinion, it should ALWAYS be done on an offbeat (this or any other sleight). To many performer do it with a challenge. Also, when you do the pass there is always one of the card in the middle (that was either on top or on bottom before the sleight) that is a little sidejog. I use this to my advantage. Once I did the pass I look back at the deck and say: "Ok now we can still see the card but now (now i square the deck) but now I can't" and proceed to what I was doing.

I love the pass...
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Postby Chris Bailey » 01/14/03 11:56 AM

Tonga, that's a funny story about Jennings!
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Postby Guest » 01/14/03 12:56 PM

For a time i'd actually lost interest in the Pass - more through frustration than anything! - but recently had the pleasure of seeing Ed Marlo perform various Passes on his The Cardician DVD. The Combination Pass particularly caught my eye and as soon as he performed and explained it i thought: "I could do that!" The only problem is that it seems a little "movey" compared to other Passes - for example, the lower packet ends up almost vertical with the backs of the cards directly facing the audience. There's no way, as i see it, to hide this other than through appropriate misdirection.

Any thoughts or tips on this? Does anyone else use the Combination Pass?

HappyTrickster

p.s. Karl Fulves has an interesting observation on the Pass:

"The pass in any form has never been a popular move, but if you've witnessed a demonstration by experts like Ken Krenzel, Howie Schwarzman or Derek Dingle some idea of its potential and practicability can be gleaned." (Epilogue, Issue #18, July 1973)
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Postby Guest » 01/14/03 02:29 PM

Okay. I have been racking my brain trying to remember the story as I first heard it but memory fails (it does that to a certain extent after one has passed the four-score mark). A great magician -- I believe it was Nate Leipzig -- was asked about the invisible pass. His advice was to do it when the spectators were not watching.
"And how", the questioner continued, "do you assure that?"
"You vate."
"How long do you wait?
"An hour."
Regardless of the veracity of the story or of the dramatis personae I have always thought it bloody good advice. And not just for the pass.
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Postby Guest » 01/14/03 03:01 PM

Originally posted by tonga:
A great magician -- I believe it was Nate Leipzig -- was asked about the invisible pass. His advice was to do it when the spectators were not watching.
"And how", the questioner continued, "do you assure that?"
"You vate."
"How long do you wait?
"An hour."
Something similar to this is also ascribed to Max Malini who reportedly said something to the effect of: "You wait a week, if you have to."

HappyTrickster
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Postby Matthew Field » 01/15/03 07:53 AM

Actually, or so the story goes, Malini said "Vait a veek."

Vell, vell, vell.

I've posted this before, but I went to Richard Kaufman and asked him to teach me the Pass. I studied with him for a year, but he said I had to do more work before he'd teach it to me. After a year, we began, and I studied with him for a year more.

Why go through all that? The Pass allows you to control a card while apparently doing nothing! No shuffles, no cuts. A Side Steal allows you to do this as well, of course. But I truly believe that having the Pass in your arsenal allows you to consider methods and develop a confidence that are unbeatable for performing card magic.

Working on the Pass is time well spent, if you're working on it properly.

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Postby Russell Davis » 01/15/03 01:39 PM

Assuming you've already put in the months of practice on the Classic Pass, you don't have to sometimes "vait a veek" while performing with it. Just explain away the action of it with patter.

I do an Ambitious Card routine as a gambler's-move explanation, telling (falsely) the spectators that I'm slowing it down for their benefit, and that they may very well see something (truly) suspicious. I proceed to rapidly pass the signed card to the top. And repeat several times. A few people may see something, usually described as "you flipped the cards". I compliment them without sarcasm on their hawk-like vision, and helpfully tell them that the movement they saw is what they should watch out for in a shady poker game. I then add some "build" by turning the chosen card face-up, and repeating. And, after a double-lift get-ready, conclude with a one-handed version of apparently the same move by inserting the (now-indifferent) card into the middle and making their card instantly appear face-up on top, thanks to Flippant.

My patter progresses from crooked gamblers to dumb gamblers to one-armed gamblers to the masterful Mr. Levand. The verbal and visual nature of the routine seems to make it both "phat" and "tight". And with mostly one sleight.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 01/22/03 09:20 PM

Further meditations on The Pass:

I don't think you can correctly learn it solely from a book. A teacher is best but the video/DVD medium is serviceable. My Pass took a tremendous leap after viewing Ken Krenzel's tape on The Pass.
His flawless executions convinced me that it can be indetectable. I plan to purchase Kaufman's On the Pass DVD when it is released. I wish these tools had been available when I dove into card magic at the age of twelve.
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Postby Guest » 01/22/03 09:47 PM

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
Why go through all that? The Pass allows you to control a card while apparently doing [b]nothing! No shuffles, no cuts. A Side Steal allows you to do this as well, of course.[/b]
I've heard this argument (about the side steal, etc.) before. But for me there has always been one solid reason to prefer the pass in many cases; it's over in a tiny fraction of a second and the angles are better. In most side steals that card's hangin' out of the side of the deck long enough for you to do 20 passes. The pass is simply a less vulnerable move because it's vulnerable for less time. This seems to me to be inarguable. If it's done well, of course.

Best,

Geoff
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/22/03 10:20 PM

The Classic Pass is the greatest move in card magic. Gee, I don't think it's a surprise to anyone that I feel that way.
What can I say. If I'm performing for friends or laymen I must use the pass at least a dozen times. It is a totally secret move that accomplishes a hell of a lot.
And yes, as Latta (a Pass expert of the highest order) notes: it is done quickly and is over in an instant. Side Steals take longer and have worse angles. A Side Steal is great if you don't want to disturb the rest of the deck, but in my case that rarely happens.
Once you can do a pass well, it's "in you," like breathing. You don't think about it. It's just something your fingers do when the time comes and you keep going.
You do NOT have to make the audience look away when you do a pass unless your pass is not invisible. There are enough of us who can do a pass that generally cannot be seen that it becomes a non-issue. It has always been my experience that most experts who insist you must make the audience look away from your hands at the moment you do a sleight cannot do that sleight invisibly--and most of them CAN be done invisibly.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 01/22/03 11:06 PM

You do NOT have to make the audience look away when you do a pass unless your pass is not invisible. There are enough of us who can do a pass that generally cannot be seen that it becomes a non-issue. It has always been my experience that most experts who insist you must make the audience look away from your hands at the moment you do a sleight cannot do that sleight invisibly--and most of them CAN be done invisibly.
Mr. Kaufman,

With all due respect, I dissagree. I believe that card magic is best when one varies the methods used to achieve a given goal. Using the pass for every control is overkill to me.

I'm sure the pass can be 'burned' while executed but again, I believe that it's best to provide misdirection for all moves, especially covert ones. Alex Elmsley said something to the effect that you must misdirect not only from the move its self, but the moment the move could have occured.
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Postby Guest » 01/23/03 05:48 PM

Forme the most vulnerable moment is setting up for the pass. I do the pass from straddle grip so I end uo fiddling with the deck a little too much for my own taste.

does anyone have tips on how to get into position efficiently?

also, what are the thoughts on the Fred Robinson/Peter Duffie "pulling up the bottom packet" approach to the pass, as opposed to the classic "pull the top packet down" approach to the technique?

I find the Robinson/Duffie approach preferable because when I do a riffle pass, it makes the pass action FEEL much more like a regular riffle, which is something I find desirable.
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/23/03 06:47 PM

I don't have the pass in my repertoire, but prefer subtleties like crimps, Koornwinder resin or the just plain old cut.

Don't knock the cockroach pass either... :eek:
Stay tooned.
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 05:08 AM

Of all the sleights in magic, there are two that the lay person is likely to know:
The French Drop and The Pass.
That should be reason enough to go some other route!
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 09:04 AM

Originally posted by Stohan:

what are the thoughts on the Fred Robinson/Peter Duffie "pulling up the bottom packet" approach to the pass, as opposed to the classic "pull the top packet down" approach to the technique?
I switched to this method only a couple of weeks ago and have benefited greatly. I'm still really working on smoothness but there's already a noticeable improvement i feel. I can highly recommend it.

HappyTrickster
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 04:22 PM

Originally posted by Ryan Matney:
Mr. Kaufman,

With all due respect, I dissagree. I believe that card magic is best when one varies the methods used to achieve a given goal. Using the pass for every control is overkill to me.
Ryan is right. You would have to be a bit mad to use the pass for every control but many magicians do. I was at a convention a few months ago and it was amazing to see so many kids doing pass after pass after pass after pass when it would have been more suitable to do something else.

Donna.
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Postby Dave Egleston » 01/24/03 05:12 PM

it was amazing to see so many kids doing pass after pass after pass after pass
- If you've seen an "expert" do a pass - you have to take his word for it

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/24/03 05:14 PM

The Pass is an INVISIBLE sleight. When done properly, there is nothing to see. Using an invisible sleight repeatedly has no meaning for the audience because they can't see anything--it's as if magical things are happening and you're NOT DOING ANYTHING. This is a world and a half away from doing tricks with Biddle Counts.
As far as Peter's remark that the two things laymen know are the French Drop and the Pass, I'm sorry to disagree. The French Drop has been done badly by many older magicians for decades: that's why some laymen know it. If you do a French Drop well it's still an effective vanish. If they are CONVINCED you have taken (or put) the coin then nothing else matters.
Regarding the Pass, I'm doubly sorry, but your statement is absurd. I've never met a laymen who watched their card come to the top of the deck and said, "oh, look, you did the pass." Please.
I will repeat, if you feel the need to make people look away when you do the Pass it's because you don't do it well enough.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 01/24/03 07:09 PM

The Pass is an INVISIBLE sleight. When done properly, there is nothing to see. Using an invisible sleight repeatedly has no meaning for the audience because they can't see anything--it's as if magical things are happening and you're NOT DOING ANYTHING.
It may well be invisible but there is still a 'moment.' It doesn't matter who you are. Dingle or whoever. There is a sound and there is a moment that should be misdirected from and used sparingly. Otherwise, I imagine the audience will begin to associate a ripping sound with every trick you do. Why would you WANT to cradle the deck in two hands everytime you needed to control a card?

I will repeat, if you feel the need to make people look away when you do the Pass it's because you don't do it well enough.
I believe and I have been told that I do the pass well enough to allow laymen to burn my hands. I choose not to. If I use it, (and I use it rarely), it is much preferred to use misdirection.
Misdirection is one of the fundamnetal principles of magic. An understanding of it is what makes a good magician. I wouldn't focus attention on my pass anymore than I would focus attention on a double lift, a palm or any move. To paraphrase Peter Duffie, misdirection is the extra ingrediant that makes for real magic.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/24/03 08:06 PM

Sorry, Ryan, but there's no "ripping" sound when I do some of my passes. Riffle Passes make a sound, but there are others that don't. To place a card into the center of the deck and then make someone look AWAY from the deck, only to look back at it later after you've controlled the card, is ridiculous in the extreme. You might as well casually cut the deck instead of bothering to learn the Pass. You'll get the same effect. AND I'VE DONE THIS JUST TO PROVE THE POINT TO MYSELF.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 01/24/03 08:14 PM

I've been witness to many passes over the years, and some of them were indeed invisible. In the family of classic passes (as opposed to turnover passes), I've laid eyes on some wonderful ones. Kalush does a great pass. So does Richard. Eric DeCamps demonstrated a nice variation for me once. I once watched Dingle do passes over and over and over and thought they looked fantastic. Bill Malone's passes can't be seen.

None of them can. But, and this is the crux of the entire matter for me, they can all be felt. They may have been unseen, but they were not unperceived. It's so difficult to disguise the burst of energy required to execute a pass that it might not be unfair to suggest that practically every classic-type pass in existence gives itself away in some fashion or another (whether that "giveaway" is noticed by a lay audience is another matter altogether).

This isn't to say in any way that passes aren't viable. Practice shows them to be more than effective given the right circumstances. But for those of us who might hold ideals of making our magic look as moveless and as beyond suspicion as we can, passes require a lot of attention, effort, and thought -- sometimes perhaps more than they garner in results.

A pass can be a good way to control a card (or the entire deck). However, in the proper context simply cutting the deck out in the open -- even if the audience is looking right at the action -- can be just as invisible and equally unperceived. Given that, we find that the efficacy of the pass is placed in a slightly different perspective. Perhaps rather than being the "greatest move in card magic," it's just a "pretty good one." It certainly doesn't take years of practice to learn how to cut a deck, although it could take years of experience to know when.

Cheers,

Lance
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 08:26 PM

Just so Richard has someone on his side, I'll jump in and say that his jiggle pass handling is both quiet and invisible. Also, it's very soft, without the tension associated with the riffle pass.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 01/24/03 08:34 PM

Mr. Kaufman,
I believe we will have to just agree to dissagree on this one. I don't believe a broad misdirection such as making someone look away from the deck and then back is entirly needed. However, something as simple as asking a question and getting eye contact could suffice. I think even a turnover pass needs this. Devil in the details.

Mr. Pierce,

That is essentially the point I have been trying to make although you were far more articulate than I have been. Nicely Said and I agree.
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Postby Andy Hurst » 01/24/03 08:45 PM

Originally posted by Steve Mayhew:
Just so Richard has someone on his side, I'll jump in and say that his jiggle pass handling is both quiet and invisible. Also, it's very soft, without the tension associated with the riffle pass.
I am sure it is invisible, but the jiggle pass by nature has built in misdirection.

Andy.
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Postby Edward » 01/24/03 08:54 PM

I fully agree with Mr.Matney and Mr.Pierce.
I have not seen Mr Kaufmann's execution of the Pass so I cannot comment on it.
However, I have NEVER seen a pass which is truly invisible. There is always some slight movement or unnatural handling. The performer usually betrays a tension of some kind.
I can do the pass as well as anyone however I would not use it without misdirection.
I believe that an audience may not know WHAT has happened but they often know that SOMETHING has happened.
It is usually technicians and inadequate showmen who are convinced of the perfection of their pass.
Naturally I am not including Mr.Kaufmann in this generalisation since I have never seen him work.
Perhaps his Pass IS truly invisible. I have no idea.
However, I assume he performs on a regular basis for laymen and presumably his audiences are not always polite so I shall have to take his word for it. I am sure he is not the sort to kid himself.

It is interesting that many performers who do not use the pass as a control at all.
I think the pass is useful as an ancillary sleight but it's use as a control could well be outmoded since there are so many other methods available which are not only easier but in my view less suspicious.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 01/24/03 09:11 PM

I'd like to make it clear that I'm not siding AGAINST Richard. I hope he knows how much respect I have for him (and yes, his passes are among the best I've ever seen). Indeed, I'm not siding at all, for the issue is not as polarized as all that.

Richard did mention that one can misdirect from the hands and simply cut the deck and "get the same effect." This, of course, begs the question as to why, if the effect is the same, would one want to spend all the time necessary to perfect the pass? This is a question that each must answer for him or herself.

I don't think I'd ever suggest to someone that they shouldn't learn the pass, although in some conversations (perhaps like the one Mr. Bailey referred to when starting this topic) I might suggest that for some people, better results can be attained in shorter time by studying other strategies.

Cheers,

Lance
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 01/24/03 09:25 PM

Oh, my...
For many cardmen, mastering the Pass is a rite of passage. For others, it is an epiphany, the holiest of holy card sleights. No matter.

The purblind lay person can be misdirected. Just give the Passer a fraction of a second.

Fast company is another matter.

The biggest "tell" of ANY Passer is the two-handed grip that exists at the "moment"...

There is hope, however...

Because there exists a COMPLETELY DECEPTIVE one-hand Pass. I have it on film. And, yes, it has been published, beautifully buried...

The originator of this Pass is scarcely known, but was a dedicated student of Marlo. For a long time, he lived outside of the States.

Onward...
Passers unite.
Genuflect now...
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 09:49 PM

Lance wrote:

Richard did mention that one can misdirect from the hands and simply cut the deck and "get the same effect." This, of course, begs the question as to why, if the effect is the same, would one want to spend all the time necessary to perfect the pass? This is a question that each must answer for him or herself.
I'm sure Richard didn't mean that the cut has the same effect as the pass. He's saying that if you misdirect away from the pass, you may as well just be cutting. The point is that a good pass can be burned.

Aside from all the posts above, it's important to note that there are certain effects that require a pass, Walton's Smiling Mule and Swain's Vanishing Aces come to mind. In addition, there are things that can only be done with a pass - e.g. in Cervon's Conus Ace routine the aces must be secretly moved from the top to the bottom of the deck in preparation for a certain phase. Cutting them to the bottom wouldn't cut it in this context.

Still siding with Richard, but not against Lance.
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Postby David Acer » 01/24/03 09:57 PM

I remember hanging out at the back of a comedy club one night (Ill get in trouble if I name the club, so lets just call it "The Cackle Cave"), and a horrible magician was on stage (Ill get in trouble if I name the magician, so lets just call him "Richard Sanders"). Anyhoo, this magician was doing a card trick in which he was required to control a selection using a Pass. When the moment in question arrived, he executed the Pass with such force that there was a huge "SMACK" as the packets coalesced, akin to some sort of running High Five where the participants started from fifty yards apart. Rick Bronson was exiting the washroom directly behind me at that instant, and as he walked up to me, still doing up his pants, he said, "Did I just hear a Classic Pass?!?"

We laughed for hours...
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Postby Lance Pierce » 01/24/03 10:06 PM

Hi, Steve!

I'm sure Richard didn't mean that the cut has the same effect as the pass. He's saying that if you misdirect away from the pass, you may as well just be cutting. The point is that a good pass can be burned.
Yes, but my question to this is, if you're apparently doing nothing, if you're supposed to be doing nothing, if there's no visible action or any meaningful event of any kind going on, why request the burn? Why focus the audience's attention on nothing? Just offhand, this seems theatrically improper, as if the stage director deliberately calls attention to a blank spot on the backdrop for a moment before moving on with the plot. There is, of course, the satisfaction of being able to do it, but from the point of view of effective magic, I fail to see a reason.

And if the answer is that we're not asking that they look at the deck, but that they CAN look at the deck while the pass is being done, I'm left with all kinds of questions about audience management and attention control -- the psychology of magic.

Again, I don't say that the pass is without context or isn't a "good move," and I've seen it put to some beautiful uses. When it gets down to the very nuts of it, though, I find it more challenging, more difficult -- and more essential -- to learn how to handle a double as if it were truly a single card (and even the best double in the world is at risk under a direct burn).

See? At this point, I'm not even siding with myself.

Cheers,

Lance
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 10:17 PM

A lot of intelligent arguments on both sides. But enough of that, here's my two cents....

The pass is betrayed by the intensity of the moment? The concentration of the magician? The sunbleached whiteness of the knuckles? Yes, often. I was guilty of that myself for a long time. The very last thing you learn is how to do it fully relaxed, paying no attention to it. If the pass itself is truly, optically invisible, then that's the last five percent. It's a tough five percent to get after years of too much mirror practice. But if and when you get it, all of Mr. Kaufman's points come home to roost.

It also depends on what you use it for. I have a number of effects that use it in specific ways wherein it cannot be replaced by any other move. Even if another move could accomplish the same mechanical objectives, it would not create the same impression, visually or otherwise. As a single card control it might be overkill, but that can also depend on what kind of impression you want them to have about the apparent procedure. Are they replacing to a spread, a fan, a cut pack? Do you want them to think they know roughly where the card is, or do you want them to have no idea? Each choice creates a different impression about what you might be able to do with the cards. For instance, I personally often cull to the bottom if I'm going to palm the card(s), because I'd usually rather palm from the bottom (right or left hand makes no difference) than the top. More cover. With a cull I can be ridiculously fair about closing and squaring the deck, but not as fair about exactly where the card is. And never mind about culls where the card is apparently jogged out or whatever, because the moment of substitution has all of the same pitfalls the pass has. And you're only halfway through the move, to boot.

I think it was Mr. Racherbaumer himself who put these ideas into my head 30 years ago, that procedure affects effect. Yell at him.... ;-)

Best,

Geoff
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Postby Guest » 01/24/03 10:21 PM

Interesting thread.
The most interesting aspect?

The number of posting in which the writer makes some remark to the effect:
"The best invisible pass I ever saw"
"I have never seen John Doe's invisible pass."

There is a certain contradiction in terminology which is quite amusing. I never saw Larry Jennings do a pass -- although I was well aware tht he used it. He would, indeed, have been chagrinned if I claimed to have seen it.

There are invisible passes -- but I have never seen one.
If you have -- it wasn't invisible.
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Postby Ryan Matney » 01/25/03 01:07 AM

Yes, but my question to this is, if you're apparently doing nothing, if you're supposed to be doing nothing, if there's no visible action or any meaningful event of any kind going on, why request the burn? Why focus the audience's attention on nothing? Just offhand, this seems theatrically improper, as if the stage director deliberately calls attention to a blank spot on the backdrop for a moment before moving on with the plot. There is, of course, the satisfaction of being able to do it, but from the point of view of effective magic, I fail to see a reason.
Mr. Pierce, Though you may not be siding, this is just the point I was trying to make. It's not only bad theater to focus attention on nothing but it's also representative of bad magic.

Mr. Latta,
I agree with you that there are certain effects and circumstances where the pass is indespinable and can not be substituted. However, with a move that is subject more often than not to very specific tells and best in very specific situations, I just can't see that anyone would use it more than they absolutly had to, let alone focus attention on it or draw attention to the 'nothing' that just caused your hands to twitch. That is also assuming that one can even do a pass extremly well. I don't even think it's needed to do good magic but that's another topic.

By the way, i don't see any shame in pointing out the free buffet and then casually cutting the deck to control a card. :D
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Postby Bob Coyne » 01/25/03 06:14 AM

Two points:

I've seen very good passes by John Carney, Chuck Fayne and many others. But I've never seen a truly invisible pass, one where I'm not aware that it happened. The transposition of the packets may not be visible in itself, but some sort of movement or energy change or something is. Yes, the layman may not notice or recognize the tells, but they're still there. So I think some sort of misdirection is useful if only to disguise the tells. Someone made a very good point that the jiggle pass incorporates misdirection into the move itself. Misdirection doesn't necessarily mean having the audience look elsewhere. It can also involve disguising one action as another...giving a motive to an unnatural movement, making it seem natural.

That being said, I disagree with the argument that directing the audience's attention to the nothing happening somehow detracts from the drama. I think that's completely wrong. The drama from magic comes from the impossible happening. If the audience can burn your hands and not have the sense that they're being misdirected, they'll have a stronger conviction that everything's fair. And that makes the magic more impossible and more magical. As someone said, the method always affects the effect. A corollary of this is that the minimum amount of misdirection should be applied, enough to keep it deceptive, but not so much as to detract from the effect.
Bob Coyne
 
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Postby Guest » 01/25/03 06:51 AM

Originally posted by Lance Pierce:
Yes, but my question to this is, if you're apparently doing nothing, if you're supposed to be doing nothing, if there's no visible action or any meaningful event of any kind going on, why request the burn? Why focus the audience's attention on nothing? Just offhand, this seems theatrically improper, as if the stage director deliberately calls attention to a blank spot on the backdrop for a moment before moving on with the plot.
Sometimes, in an effect, nothing must not only be done, it must be seen to be done. (Apologies to O. W. Holmes) There are times when you might want them to, for example, a:) see the card go into the middle of the pack, and b:) know it's still there because "I was watching the cards like a hawk, he didn't do anything". These can be moments of great dramatic tension just before the card comes to the top, or whatever the effect is. Sometimes, you don't want them thinking, "Hmmnn, maybe I looked away, yeah, that's it". I personally don't want them burning the deck all the time, not even every time I use the pass, but sometimes I do. Hitchcock knew that suspense comes in when nothing is happening but the audience knows it's about to. That nothing can be powerful stuff if you acknowledge it and use it.

Best,

Geoff

p.s., While I was typing this, Mr. Coyne made my point in his second paragraph better than I did.
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Postby Guest » 01/25/03 07:47 AM

I was at the Fork's Hotel in Buffalo in the late 80's and Bob Elliott asked Bill Kalush to show me his pass. I watched it from every angle. I must tell you that it was beautiful. Truly invisible. When I worked at Tannen's in the early 90's I obtained a copy of "Derek Dingle's Complete Works". I started off learning the riffle pass. In vain I made a bet w/ NY area magician Carl "Polaris" Mellish, that I could make it invisible in one year (I still owe him that money). During that time I practiced it at least a 1000 times a day. As I learned it I was lucky enough to be able to pick the brains of the customers who came in who excelled in the sleight: Ken Krenzel, Bill Kalush and Eric DeCamps. Geoff Latta gave me the best advice regarding it (without ever demonstrating it himself). They were little refinements and touches. These made a world of difference. Currently I use the sleight EVERY time I perform. I dont understand the argument that you have to "cradle the deck with 2 hands". There are many moments where it is perfectly natural to hold the deck with 2 hands (eg: when squaring up the deck). Compare this to the 100's of sleights I see people use that just scream out that something unnatural is being done.
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Postby Guest » 01/25/03 08:03 AM

Originally posted by Ryan Matney:
Mr. Latta,
I agree with you that there are certain effects and circumstances where the pass is indespinable and can not be substituted. However, with a move that is subject more often than not to very specific tells and best in very specific situations, I just can't see that anyone would use it more than they absolutly had to, let alone focus attention on it or draw attention to the 'nothing' that just caused your hands to twitch. That is also assuming that one can even do a pass extremly well. I don't even think it's needed to do good magic but that's another topic.

By the way, i don't see any shame in pointing out the free buffet and then casually cutting the deck to control a card. :D
When I first started working on the pass, I was mostly interested in using it visibly; as a change, appearance or vanish. (This is what happens when coin guys start in with the cards, ha ha). I only started using it as a control later on, and it has to be done differently then. But I remember seeing Derek Dingle do a riffle pass, with a face-up card in the middle coming to the top visibly, and it affected me pretty deeply from a visual standpoint. It was as if the riffle had caused the card to materialize out of nothing, vibrating into existence like something in a science fiction novel. This was the first time I had seen sleight-of-hand card magic that had the visual qualities of coin magic, which, frankly, I had preferred up to that point. The first pass I devised was designed to be watched. It was crawling with tells, but, when I hit it right, optically perfect. It did exactly what I wanted it to, and as far as I could tell, nothing else created the same effect.

As far as "The Buffet Cut" goes, there's no shame in it, but for me no joy, either. Sleight-of-hand technique and construction can have an internal beauty that exists primarily for the knowledgeable; the performer, and others who can appreciate it. There's nothing wrong with that in my mind; quite the opposite in fact. It is a form of artistic athleticism, even while being camouflaged. Doing a triple axle is no fun for a skater if she does it with the assistance of a crane. When you're practicing alone, you don't skip the hard move just because no one will know. Yes, we can get away with the buffet cut, but "getting away with it" is the exact opposite of artistry. At that point, why use sleight-of-hand at all? Just get out the gaffs. Or for that matter, why bother to do the stuff at all?

End of babbling. (still on my first cup of coffee, ha.)

Best,

Geoff
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