The Classic Pass

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Robert Kane » 01/29/02 05:55 AM

I was recently watching one of the Derek Dingle videos that were made in France and sold by Jeff Busby (the videos were a gift from a friend). I enjoyed Mr. Dingle's performances on the video and was duly impressed with the quality of his magic and presentation.

Towards the end of the video the producers had Mr. Dingle continuously display his Pass. While it was certainly fast, there was not anything terribly deceptive about it. You could easily see two halves of the deck changing places between his hands. Certainly this is not the correct condition under which a Pass is used and I presume that suitable misdirection must be employed.

My question to myself was: "If Derek Dingle has one of the best Passes in the world, and it is difficult to learn and performand the display on the video was the final outcome of years of practice.what benefit is there to learn the Pass? I could not see any benefit.

On the other hand, perhaps there is good benefit....I remember hanging out with the recently departed cruise ship magician, Vic Kirk, back at California Magic in Pleasant Hill, Ca. Vic was wonderful about sharing tips and ideas about magic. His Classic Pass was a thing of beauty. You could barely see itof course Vics hands were huge.

Regardless of all of the above, I have been perusing Card College and Royal Road to consider spending time to learn the Classic Pass, but I am wondering if it worth the effort?

More importantly, do any of you regularly use the Classic Pass or a close derivative as a card control during your public performances?
:)
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Postby Guest » 01/29/02 07:28 AM

I use a variation of a turn over pass for 3 effects. In order to do the move deceptively, I rely on misdirection as well as practice it every other day. The pass is difficult to get away with if they are burning your hands although there are guys out there that can perform the move at blinding speed. I am not one of those guys.

Another good variant that I have seen done is the cover pass where the pass is done under the cover of the top card. This is definitely one of the better looking passes since the top card never really moves or goes out of sight.
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Postby Terry » 01/29/02 09:20 AM

Jim Swain and Richard Kaufman have video's on variations of the Pass.

Robert, could Dingle's presentation of the Pass be possibly a demonstration/instruction of the move? On one of the Tannen produced video's of Dingle's magic, Derek teaches the Riffle Pass.
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Postby Andru Luvisi » 01/29/02 10:53 AM

Are you the same Robert Kane we grew to know and love here in the SF area? It's great to see you!

Personally, I use the pass now and again. I tend to do the riffle pass described in "The Jiggle Pass And Variations". The "Peek Pass" from the same book is also very good. I tend to use a pass when people are in front of me. I find a side steal easier or double undercut easier to cover from a wide range of angles.

Best of luck! :D
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Postby El Mystico » 01/29/02 11:27 AM

I use the pass regularly in my work, there are some effects, some timings for which it is perfect.
The handling I use is Fred Robinson's, which, when well performed, is invisible. Thats a tall claim I know, but is based on 20 years experience. Hopefully it will be covered in Peter Duffie's upcoming book on Fred. This sounds like a blatent plug, but I have no commercial interest in the book, only a huge respect for Fred Robinson!
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Postby Robert Kane » 01/29/02 05:12 PM

Hi Andru:

Yes, it is I! :)

By the way, I am moving back to the San Francisco Bay Area. I am looking forward to getting back in to the fun of Club53.

Please give my best to your Dad.

Regards, Robert

PS - Thanks for your response on my post
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Postby Robert Kane » 01/29/02 05:22 PM

Hi Matt: I apologize if my post topic is offensive or inadvertently repetitive. It is not meant to be. I don't frequent any other magic forums and my question is honest and made in earnest.

I would be interested in reading your good thoughts on the subject too. Based on the quality of your other posts on this forum, I do hope you will consider sharing your thoughts because I am confident that they will be valuable and insightful.

Once again, I apologize if my post upset you and I look forward to reading your constructive thoughts. All the best. Regards, Robert :)
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/29/02 05:46 PM

I have deleted Matt's post because it was pointless: if he was not interested in participating in a particular thread/discussion, there's no need to be nasty about it. Simply don't read that thread!
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Postby Matt Sedlak » 01/29/02 05:47 PM

Lol..they didnt upset me. I have no problem with people posting questions regarding the pass. However, usually when somebody does it turns into a huge debate. So far on this forum that doesnt seem to be the case and especially not in this particular thread. I just dont want it to turn into another. My thoughts regarding the pass is that it is a great move when it is routined well and I truly believe that when it is actually done right in the context of a routine, it is functionally invisible, even with the deck being burned.
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Postby Dave Shepherd » 01/29/02 05:49 PM

I avoided the classic pass for a long time, then I got Richard K's video and started working on it again.

My hand position is not really the same as the one Richard teaches, but the mechanics are pretty much the same. My grip is more like the one displayed by Charlie Miller for a brief moment on the Dai Vernon "Spirit of Magic" video--all four right fingers at the outside end, left thumb over the middle of the top card. Fairly well covered, but natural--at least for me.

I am now quite comfortable using the classic pass under the proper conditions. Never with any heat on the hands. Never for a color change. Not when I'm standing at a restaurant table for seated audience. Frequently when doing walkaround among standing audience members.

The most important thing Richard says on the video, I believe, is that one should practice at least 100 times a day for a year. It should become very comfortable in the hands. I think the pass should be so fluid that it isn't perceived, NOT so perfect that no one can see it when they look.

And I guess this also has probably been said on other forums, but so be it...
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/29/02 05:51 PM

To get back to Robert Kane's original post, I have spent many hours watching Derek Dingle do a Pass that was totally invisible.
However, that was many years ago when he practiced like a fiend.
In the intervening years, when his audiences have been laymen rather than magicians, he has concentrated on his presentation and so his Pass no longer looks the way it used it.
One MUST take into account the "dead" eye of the video camera--it does not make an accurate record of real life.
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Postby Alpen » 01/29/02 09:08 PM

I thought the same way until I read about an interesting way of thinking from John Carney. His philosophy (which I believe was specific to the pass, but can certainly be applied to any move) was that is it the misdirection that one should strive to perfect, and just incase the misderection fails, the technique should be perfect (in terms of the pass, meaning that spectators should not be burning your hands to begin with, but incase they do it should look invisible.) I know that what I said may come off as too much of a textbook "perfectionist" theory, but Carney's whole idea of making the misdirection the priority (but not the only thing) intrigued me very much.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/29/02 09:41 PM

Yes, well now we get into the entire can of worms about misdirection. A classically done Top Change MUST MUST MUST have misdirection because it is a simple fact that if the spectator is looking at the top of the deck he will see the exchange.
A well-done Classic Pass does NOT, repeat does NOT, need any misdirection. The spectator cannot see it, should not be suspicious that anything has happened, and there is no reason to make him look away from the deck to conceal the mechanics. It is only those who can NOT do an invisible Pass who feel that you must make people look away from the deck.
Perfect the technique and don't worry about it.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/29/02 11:24 PM

In a workshop someone asked Daryl about the pass. His answer was interesting and relevant. He said (I'm paraphrasing): even when the best technicians do the pass you can almost always tell that something has happened.

I personally agree. I've seen many great magicians do a pass, and I've only ever seen one that was completely invisible (Eric Anderson's waterfall pass -- incredible).

So my personal opinion is that learning the pass is not an effective way to spend your time if all you need is a control. There are many completely invisible ways to control a card which take many hundreds of hours less to master -- hours which you can spend on things that are much more important than controlling a card.

However, there are many uses of the pass where it is not, strictly speaking, necessary that it be completely invisible. Jamy Ian Swiss did a wonderful routine in the Castle Close Up room recently, in which he does a dozen or more passes more or less in a row, producing color changes, transpositions, etc.

To most of the audience Jamy's passes were invisible, but even if you were sitting at an angle where you could see a flash of movement to the deck, this did not diminish the effect. The card is changing -- there's supposed to be a visual change to the deck.

I do not know of any way to recreate Jamy's wonderful routine without putting in the time to learn the pass. This, I would say, is the ultimate benefit of learning the pass. Whether that benefit is worth the time it takes (Jamy spend an hour a day every day for 18 months learning his pass, and I'm sure he still spends many hours a week keeping it as good as it is) is up to you to decide.

Personally, the only pass I use is the midnight shift, for a visible rise in my ambitious card routine.

I hope this provides a perspective that is maybe a little different from the usual stuff you read on this interesting subject, which I believe is what Robert was looking for.
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Postby Matt Sedlak » 01/30/02 09:17 AM

Peter,
Even when the best technicians do a double lift you can tell. This is true for all sleights because we know what to look for and what they are doing. However, a lay audience has no chance of catching a pass if it is done right. One must remember that the pass was originally a card table move called the shift. In a gaming environment you are not going to be able to misdirect the other players. Maybe in a casual game but not in a serious one which is where the cheating would occur because of the money involved. The pass is ruined by physical misdirection. The misdirection that should be used is more of a mental misdirection. For example, even though they are burning the deck, the belief that you are squaring the deck along with good technique will make your pass invisible to a lay audience. This is the type of misdirection that should be used for many forms of the pass.
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Postby Guest » 01/30/02 01:27 PM

Richard, Thank you for your thoughts on the pass. I get so sick of magicians doing bad passes and saying "Its ok, you should use misdirection anyway." I have always felt that this was an excuse for poor technique.

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Postby Guest » 01/30/02 04:27 PM

Richard K is right. I have seen him recently do the pass in a very close situation where I was looking directly at it across a table not 3 feet away. It was invisible. I could detect that something had happened (because I knew it was going to happen and exactly what had happened afterwards) but I could not see it happen. And I get the idea that Richard K. does not have the time to practice like he obviously used to.

Having bought his video and practicing every day I can now do the thing, but not invisibly. If you want great abs you need to do a couple of hundred crunches a day - if you want a great pass a hundred passes a day will probably do it. Like everything else, practice and repetition makes perfect.

Time to grab my deck...
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Postby Guest » 01/30/02 05:07 PM

A sleight is a simulation. In the case of a coin pass, it's a simulation of an activity. In the case of the pure classic pass with cards, it's a simulation of inactivity-- just a guy holding a deck with both hands, in apparent utter stillness. (Or in the case of riffle and squaring-up passes, a simulation of a habit or nervous tic.)

Misdirection is, I think, important but not nearly as much as making sure that idly holding the pack with two hands -- or riffling or squaring -- has been seamlessly integrated into how the worker handles the cards all the time; i.e., his/her standard gestural repertoire or persona. If the only time you hold the deck with two hands is when you do the pass, then all the technical perfection and all the misdirection in the world is not going to stop even laymen from sniffing some kind of funny business.

This is why I'm so fond of the turnover pass: in the tricks I use it with, it simulates something I really, truly need to do anyway. And I spend at least some of my practice time ensuring that when I genuinely turn the deck over, it looks no different than when I'm doing the pass.
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Postby Sean Piper » 01/30/02 05:14 PM

While practicing the Classic Pass, or offsprings there of, I feel there are a number of points that should briefly be touched upon.

1) Practice does not make perfect, PERFECT practice makes perfect.

You could do 1000 passes a day for as long as you like, but if 70% of them are sloppy you'll never have an invisible pass.

2) First work on technique, then go for speed.

Being a full-time athlete, I can vouch for this rule. You can dive in the pool and swing your arms as fast as possible, but if your technique isn't up to scratch, you'll never win a race. Same applies to the pass.

3) Check your angles.

Stand in front of a mirror and do your pass over and over, looking at it from different angles. No use having a pass that's only invisible from head-on.

I know much of the above may sound like common sense, but as I am currently trying to bring my pass up to standard, these are points I consider everytime I practice.

I'd be very interested to hear of others practice patterns for the pass.

Regards,

Sean Piper
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Postby Matt Sedlak » 01/30/02 05:20 PM

One thing that I notice is that when people come over to cover the deck with the right hand they leave it there forever. It should be there just long enough to do the pass and thats it. And of course it needs to have justification for being there, which is usually squaring of the pack. It looks like you are trying to hide something and looks very unatural for your right hand to be on the deck all the time. Just wondering if anybody else noticed this. As far as practicing the pass, I first learned the proper technique before practicing speed. I really have no practice pattern. I do it all the time when I am just playing with cards and practice it intently when I am rehearsing my act and it is involved.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 01/30/02 05:25 PM

Ralph's point of a simulation is very interesting. In this regard, even the turnover pass is suspect unless you can do it with one hand. It doesn't take two hands to turn over the deck.

In this regard one very natural and often overlooked pass is the spread pass. If you spread the cards (for a selection, etc.) and then do the pass in the action of squaring up the deck, there are no clues or suspicious actions at all.

This is maybe splitting hairs, but any "nervous" activity (i.e. riffling/jiggling/waterfalling the deck for no apparent purpose) will elicit suspicion in some spectators.

Matt Sedlak: I wonder if you could tell when I do a double lift. The technique I use is very similar to Brother John Hamman's -- I push two cards off in close alignment with my left thumb and turn them over onto the deck. I believe that using this technique (when properly performed) a double turnover can not be distinguished from a single.

I was never fortunate enough to see Bro. Hamman perform, but I know Richard and others have. Maybe this is off the tangent of this post, but was Bro. Hamman's technique truly invisible, or merely not detectable to lay people?
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 01/30/02 06:31 PM

Okay, now we get to the next can of worms: who are YOU doing magic for?
We all know that many a magician works his entire life doing fine shows for laymen with relatively poor technique. A layman really can't tell a good Double Lift from a mediocre one. Perhaps he will be able to spot something suspicious if it is done extremely poorly.
If your audience is magicians, on the other hand, then it's an entirely different ball game. Matt's statement that you can always tell when another magician does a Double Lift is simply false: I have seen Larry Jennings and Arturo Ascanio do numerous Multiple Lifts that I did not suspect involved more than a single card. It CAN be done. Most magicians make the egregious error of turning over single cards in a different manner than they do when turning over multiple cards. If you do the Stuart Gordon Turnover, and you always turn a card over that way, whether it is a single card or a double card, it is NOT possible to tell when a multiple lift is being done. This is most basic form of the notion of "naturalness" espoused by Dai Vernon and his predecessors, yet most magicians seem incable of assimilating even this, which is so easy to do.
Next, regarding the Classic Pass (and by this I mean any form of the sleight where the top half is RAPIDLY pulled to the bottom, as opposed to a Herrmann Pass, or an Elliott Pass, etc.). Virtually any magician when staring directly at the hands of an expert doing the Pass can tell that something has happened even if he cannot see it. HOWEVER, I have never been able to figure out why magicians seem to forever apply their own crooked vision to laymen. While a magician may know that something has happened, laymen will not. I'll repeat it: LAYMEN DO NOT KNOW THAT YOU HAVE "DONE SOMETHING" JUST BECAUSE YOU EXECUTE A PASS THAT ANOTHER MAGICIAN CAN SPOT.
I can prove this to ANY person out there. I will walk down the street with you and stop laymen at random and do the Ambitious Card routine using NOTHING but the Pass over and over again. The spectators have NO CONCEPT that I have "done something" because of anything they have seen. They may THINK that I must be doing something they can't see because I'm performing a damn miracle from their point of view and most intelligent people seek an explanation for the inexplicable.
I make this challenge to anyone! And my Pass isn't even very good anymore because of lack of practice. It is still plenty good for laymen!
If you can do a decent Pass, try it yourself if you don't believe me. I have done this dozens and dozens of times.

[ January 30, 2002: Message edited by: Richard Kaufman ]
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Postby Matt Sedlak » 01/30/02 10:22 PM

Richard, you are correct that the double lift can be invisible. Let me restate what I meant in a better way. Too many magicians put so much time into other sleights that they fail to truly perfect some of the basics. I have seen many good magicians who have obvious double lifts. However, they can do beautiful tabled faros. As far as the pass, I agree with you 100% and I dont understand that although this point has been stated MULTIPLE times, people do not seem to get the point. Either they have extremely poor technique, or they are not performing in the real world.
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Postby Guest » 01/31/02 12:51 AM

During my early studies in card magic I did not believe that the pass could be done deceptively. It wasn't until Steve Cohen showed me how incredible the classic pass can look. I kept burning his hands while he did the pass and could not believe what I was seeing. The pass is something that has to be shown to you to gain appreciation for the move. At that point I decided to learn the classic pass. (My two main references for learning the pass were the Dingle book and the Sankey tape.)

My experiences lead me to believe that one should strive for speed when learning the pass. Do the pass as fast as you can while trying to maintain good technique.

I'd like to know if anybody else has had the following experience learning the classic pass. I learned the classic pass by sitting in front of the TV and practicing the pass for hours at a time. I would spread the cards, close the cards while jamming my pinky into a break and just let the pass rip as fast as I could. Repeating the sequence over and over. During one of these practice sessions I felt a tendon (or ligament?) begin to strain. The sensation ran from back of my left hand at the base of the pinky along the forearm to the elbow. I persisted in practicing despite the pain. About an hour later I felt something eerie. The lower packet was contacting the base of my right thumb faster than I could comprehend. I was shocked that packets could transpose as fast as they were. It was a moment of enlightenment. At that point it was realized that by stretching out that tendon I had gained the necessary speed for the execution of the classic pass. After that I started to work on smoothing out the pass for precision. Since then I have not felt that sensation in my arm while practicing the pass. Has anybody else had that experience of stretching that tendon to gain the necessary speed on the pass? Does anyone know what that tendon or ligament is named?

By the way I've never used the pass as a control. I use it more as a cut in a routine such as Nelson's 'Pass the Sandwich' or to centralize a reversed card on the bottom of the deck. My favorite routine has to be Don England's 'Vanishing Aces' from the Collected Almanac. That white-on-white pass application is one of my guilty pleasures.

To learn to do the classic pass under fire I suggest the following. Use the pass as a clean-up move after the top card of the deck as the climax of the routine has transformed either via a double lift, top change, or second deal. Classic pass the indifferent card to the center of the deck in case they ask where that indifferent card went. The routine is over in the spectator's mind so they really won't be burning your hands. There is no significant damage is done if you're caught doing the move. But you gain the experience of doing the pass in front of a spectator.

To answer the original post, I believe the classic pass is worth the effort. I'm biased because I can do the move. But, it will take an investment of time and dedication to learn. I think it took me a several months of practice.

You're always going to get two opposing viewpoints on the classic pass, one from those who can and one from those who can't. Mr. Kaufman presents a strong case for the classic pass in the foreword to the Dingle book. (In my opinion that book is a modern classic and is a must have for any serious student of close-up.)

Best regards,
Rich Kameda
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Postby Terry » 01/31/02 08:19 AM

1) Practice does not make perfect, PERFECT practice makes perfect.


I agree practice doesn't make perfect, but neither does perfect practice make perfect. The old adage 'Practice makes perfect' is a fallacy. Practice can only make improvement.
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Postby Matt Sedlak » 01/31/02 08:20 AM

Rich, after you and Wesley showed me what to do and told me about the tendon I really started to work on it. Although I never experienced any pain, over time doing the pass started to feel more natural. This could have been just from repetition. My guess is that my tendon was already stretched out because of all the sports I played. But I am curious as to others experiences with the tendon.
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Postby Matt Sedlak » 01/31/02 08:23 AM

An old saying that I really like, although Im not sure who said it, is that "Practice doesnt make perfect, it makes permanent". So I advise anybody trying to learn the pass to learn the technique well before trying to develop speed otherwise you will have a fast pass that is totally undeceptive.
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Postby Guest » 02/01/02 07:47 PM

I got a rap over the knuckles from a fellow magician a couple of years ago because my pass sucked. I practised and now I don't suck as much.

However, I recently watched a video of myself performing the pass and it was no where need the standard of other magicians

While I have never been busted by a layperson and only one magician has ever commented on the quality, I can not help but think that striving for perfection (even if it is not obtained) is good for your own self esteem and overall abilities as a magician even if no one notices.

I need to go practices now.


:cool:
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Postby Guest » 02/06/02 09:58 AM

What perfect timing for this thread. I recently begining working on the thread (based on the card college 2 description). At first I thought the move totally stunk due to angle problems, but then I reread the description and it turns out I am not doing it right. My specific problem is that when I slide the top packet to the right, my right index finger pulls off the bottom packet and travels with the top packet. Obviously this makes the move easier, but the bottom packett drops too far below the now top packet and the move is exposed from almost every angle. Can anyone offer some tips to practicing the classic pass in a more tight manner? I know, from this thread, that it will take some considerable amount of practice to get the move right, but I just want to set a good foundation and get the technique correct right away. Thanks in advance!
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Postby Jason England » 02/26/02 10:44 PM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
[QB]In a workshop someone asked Daryl about the pass. His answer was interesting and relevant. He said (I'm paraphrasing): even when the best technicians do the pass you can almost always tell that something has happened.

I'm not sure I agree, unless we define the "you" in the above sentence to mean magicians. In other words, another magician may be able to almost always tell that something has happened. But I don't think a meaninful comparison can be made between magicians who are attuned to the movements associated with their craft and laymen who are not. So, I may never be able to get my pass by Earl Nelson, or Richard Kaufman, or Daryl. But that doesn't mean that it isn't functionally invisible to laymen.

I certainly don't catch every subtle nuance of Tiger Woods' drive...do you? Probably not. But I betcha Jack Nicklaus does. Whether or not he can duplicate it exactly, he is trained to see Tiger's swing in an entirely different way than most of us.

Would you spot the reasoning behind a subtle chess move in a game between two grandmasters? Again, it's doubtful. But you can bet that another grandmaster (or perhaps even a master) would catch it. Again, training is what enables them to understand what they've seen.

A layman "sees" the same thing that Daryl standing next to him sees. But the untrained layman attaches no significance to the riffle, or jiggle, or turnover, or whatever. THAT is the key difference, and what makes a pass functionally invisible to one group, while patently obvious to another.

I don't doubt for a moment that Daryl sees most passes that are performed for him. But that has little bearing on performing the pass for those who are NOT trained to see one.

I haven't been fooled by a double lift in years...should we do away with them?

Jason
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Postby Pete McCabe » 02/26/02 10:55 PM

Jason:

When Daryl does the spread cull or convincing control, I sometimes know that he's doing it because I know the move and I sometimes know the routine he's performing.

But I can't see it. I can only deduce its presence. His actions look exactly the same as they would if he were not doing the move.

So I would say yes, we should do away with all double lifts that you can see. We'll leave behind the ones whose presence you can deduce but which are visually indistinguishable from single card handling.

This will, obviously, eliminate probably 95% of all double lift technique and will remove the move from the repertoire of 95% of the magicians who use it.

We'll be left with only the best 5% of magic. Sounds like a win to me.

But on a more practical note, sure the audience doesn't know that your nervous riffles, jiggles, etc. of the deck actually represent moves. But personally -- and this is almost surely where we differ in style -- I never do any of these things the cards. I never riffle them or jiggle them or what have you. I want the audience to forget completely that I am holding and manipulating the cards.

I'm not so sure I would agree that these moves fly by the audience. I think the audience's impression of a performance done in this manner is that the magician is very skilled at sleight of hand. That may be your goal and if it is, great. A classic pass expertly performed can create this effect incredibly well.

But that's not what I'm shooting for at all.

[ February 26, 2002: Message edited by: Pete McCabe ]
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Postby Pete Biro » 02/26/02 11:39 PM

When it means money or a smack on the head, the pass, poorly excecuted is perfect for the job with proper shade. Work with a card cheat not a magician to find out how to really do stuff... ;)
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