card man hell eh?

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 10/01/02 05:05 AM

Hello everybody, it's me Cap (CapCasino.com and CapCuts.com), this is my first post and before I say anything I would like to make it clear, I have utmost respect for everybody's opinions. If everybody was into the exact same stuff this world would be pretty dull in my opinion. Having said that, below are my thoughts in regards to one of the nets most current 'hot button' topics. You may be familiar with the standard plot, nonetheless I have branched off into a few different areas with this post. I look forward to your thoughts.

My first proposition is this: It's unreasonable to make the jump that if someone has a product they are 100% defined by that product's subject content. Gary Ouellet's book -The Pass- popped into my head. As we all know Mr. Ouellet (R.I.P.) was quite a diverse and talented individual who revolutionized magic performance on T.V. as well as writing numerous articles and even books. He also played an intrical part in the monumental and historical Vernon Revelations video series (these are just the few things that hit me first, I realize Mr. Ouellet was more than that.) even if you're a sleight of hand guy who wasn't into all the illusionists on those shows (me b.t.w.) he did bring people such as Guy Hollingworth, Renee Lavand, Bill Malone and Juan Tamariz in to the homes of millions creating an anti- uncle bob performing the 21 card trick without any presentation image of this sector withing the magical arts. Just because Mr. Ouellet had a book called the Pass about nothing but pass techniques... does it mean all he could do was the Pass? - All day long
over and over, using it in every trick and every performance and his whole show for laymen was the pass and all it's variants? Of course not, still he realized the logic in having a focused topic for that book, mentioning various forms of the Pass which may appeal to some and the rest to others. Therefore if a video is on nothing but flourishes why is the jump made that the inventor has a manifesto out along the lines of 'a magical performers whole show should be nothing but flourishes'?
This is related in some regards to various individuals who's products get ragged on alot.

For example the Buck Twins. (Check out Jamy ian Swiss's totally ill-placed comments/diss of the brothers while reviewing the Paul Curry Worlds Beyond book within the pages of this magazine a number of months back.) In my view they are more focused and practice harder than almost any proponent of the pasteboards I've ever met, and I've seen a good number. While they don't tell jokes or stories really, it is sooo much more than magical masturbation which is a term I hear used a lot. Isnt there unquestionably a vital door in magicdom for the inventors and creators such as Marlo or Vernon, who few people really consider to be commercial as in telling lots of jokes or gags and so forth. This is clear from their classic texts which rarely mention jokes or 'bits of business' of the sort you might find on a Doc Eason videotape for example.
Even Mr. Natural himself was a master of utilizing flourishes to enhance the moment - which is where the minds of the audience make that invisible jump and see the magic happening. This is what the game is all about and what we and I live for.

Why is it that people riffle or spring the cards when causing the signed card to rise to the top in an ambitious sequence as is often done? Even many flourish haters do this. Why? They realize a flourish such as springing the cards or rifling their ends CAN in most instances sell, enhance, and define 'the moment'.

Even snapping your fingers is perhaps in peril if all the hardcore 'naturalist' were to take over magicdom, since snapping ones fingers isnt a deceptive thing or an invisible maneuver which "the most critical observer wouldnt even suspect let alone detect..", its an open technique which everybody sees.
You'll notice my nod to one of erdnase's most famous quotes above. This is often cited by oponents of any displays of skill. It is facinating to note that in Expert at the Card Table there is a WHOLE CHAPTER called Fancy Blind Cutson pg 22- I highly recommend you read Erdnasess brief but extremely intriguing to ponder about opening comments to that section. Even if there WASNT this chapter, are we card sharks or magi? I think the constant quoting of erdnase may be misplaced at times since his purpose was not to entertain but to be invisible not just in the moves but as a person- invisible at the card table.

Is that what we want as entertainers and magicians? Remember Expert at the Card Table is AT THE CARD TABLE. Unless you perform youre tricks in a casino I dont understand why you force yourself into this mental box of unless it would fly at a card table, it cant be worthy as part of the magical arts ... which many people have emailed me saying.

Touching back on the master Dai Vernon for a moment will allow me to bring to light an issue far more controversial than the above points. It is that flourishes can (not always ofcourse) but sometimes BE the deception and an integral part in MAGIC, yes MAGIC if not be the magic. First off, is the legendary Vernon Wand Spin not a flourish? Whats notable about this flourish - the Vernon wand spin - is that it doesnt just look nice but plays an INTEGRAL PART IN CREATING THE DECEPTION! Do the move without the spin, go ahead itll work but its not as effective or deceptive. Everybody mentions be natural dont do flourishes , but here is clear proof of one of our arts greatest minds- Dai Vernon- the one everybody mentions when they talk of being natural- making the decision to add a flourish (the spinning of a wand) to a billiard ball/fan drop move invented in the 40s by silent mora to enhance the deception.

Perhaps the genius of the Proffesor realized that if you condition your audience with flourishes previously they become natural. It's like if you're watching the film Traffic and suddenly a character climbs up a wall doing a mid-air 360 rotation to escape the enemy, you'd think "this is so unatural for this film" I have lost all confidence in it's filmakers logic; but if you're watching the matrix you love the moment and haven't been 'taken out of the film' or had the film 'lose you at that point' since it IS natural for that world. The analogy to magic would be that while flourishy actions have been used, due to proper conditioning no suspision is arised and the deception is totally effective.

I feel that there are some guys who instead of trying and experimenting and coming to their own discoveries have heard someone else say they suck and now figure well he said so, I guess Ill live my life that way... while a stretch, you can almost call it flourishism ala ageism, racism, or sexism in the way in which people make blatant statements about flourishes. I cant emphasize how its simply not possible to make blatant statements such as all are bad or all harm magic performances about flourishes! Im sorry if you saw somebody overdo the cuts or fans and it bored you, but in no way does that mean all doers of them are boring or dont make them work for their specific audiences.
While jokes, gags, spectator assistance, story telling or ANYTHING can be overdone the fact is that flourishes enhance entertainment value. Thats why we put the effort in to mastering them. Its amazing how so many think that if you do a flourish you are a lazy person who hasnt read card college, expert card technique, or erdnase .

If you think flourishers are fools then- Jeff Mcbride, Alex Elmsely, Ross Bertram, Paul Harris, Dai Vernon, Michael Ammar are fools since they not only do them but have entire videos or chapters in their books on them- just on the flourishes. Those above are merely the tip of the ice berg by the way...) Why is it that one of the most popular of the Magic Magazine covers (the 1995 December issue) is the one with an image of Cardinis hands doing the billiard ball elevator flourish? Was Cardini a fool, or a damaging, negative influence to our art? The cover of that Magic Magazine issue is quite revealing, it has a one line caption which reads : (Cardini) 'the most imitatied magician in the world...'

I recommend you check out Bill Malone doing Sam the Bellhop on Worlds Greatest Magic 1. The trick has been called by many the most entertaining 3 minutes in card magic yet its jam full of fancy cuts and that summersault 1 card popover move he uses every time a 2 comes up. Why is it I never here people dissing Mr. Malone? But then we have the Buck Boys again, which I have seen as the focus of many hotly debated discussions and destroyed relationships. In fact as I was sessioning with them at the recent 100th SAM event a person came up to us screaming and cussing " you fools! you ignorant fools #%&^%&^# !!!, you're all going to card man hell! You're the destruction of this
art! Vernon is rolling over in his grave!"

(a small tangent: is the twist used in Vernons classic Twisting the Aces a flourish?)

I really find this type of outburst to be ill placed. Not to have an attitude but I must wonder why it is that there was a large crowd of laymen (!) completely fixated by their (the B.Boys) activities with our beloved instrument; while this guy was alone in the corner venting instead of practicing ( was he jealous since he hadn't devoted the time, effort nor passion to acquire the ability the twins have ? Or was he ageist since they are teenagers? Now maybe what they were doing wasn't magic but let me ask this, and I'm really curious about this- is Juggling not a respectable art form? Some will say yes, but it has no place in magic! foo!' Well why is it that almost every big convention I've been to - IBM, SAM, and lesser known ones such as Alain Nu's phoenix gathering out where I live often have jugglers booked at the evening magic shows? (The bookers of these events are often highly knowledgeable and respected magicians, yet they clearly seem to think juggling isnt soooo distant from magic, or at least it's not unreasonable considering them as 'all part of the family' - the family being the variety arts) To go even further- why is that often the jugglers are the ones who get standing ovations at these evening shows? This is for crowds of many hundreds of people of all different races, genders, and ages; audiences often full of magi AND laymen.

Perhaps humans have a natural facination with displays of skill by one of their fellow human beings? In every other form of popular entertainment calling flourishes stupid in all circumstances is ludicrous- a huge part of the success of superstars and events such as a Rolling Stones conert [ Elvis, Mick Jagger or Steven Tyler of Aerosmith- flourishing with the mic stand, seeing Michael Jordan- the showtime dunks, Gymnasts at the Olympics, Billy Idol flourishing with his lips... j/p about that one- well sorta] and a lot of other examples is the electric atmosphere they manage to create often with the help of flourishy actions and interactions. Considering how all the above for some reason have a lot more respect than the art of magic in many laymens minds should make you think.
Sometimes I get the vibe that ant-flourishers have never really tried one or are not truly against flourishes but PRACTICE, and yes flourishes often take a good deal of practice. ( but not always! to prove this there is
a free explanation video clip of z grip and Blind Rotational Sybil at:

http://expertmagic.com/html/store/c4/pr ... chor-49575

As Dr. Zeuss points out in one of the favorite childrens books from my youth- Green Eggs and Ham: "just try them try them, TRY THEM ...who knows what you might see.. and for godsakes whats to lose since theyre free?
I appologize if some will feel this post is mean spirited, in no way do I intend it to be.

The just having a normal disscusion with my brother tone in my voice is what a forum cant convey perfectly. I love this art so much and the magic community so much, anybody who knows me, really knows me can vouch for this. There are posters of MAGICIANS, not jugglers on the walls of my room.

Ive heard so much about this issue and basically tried not to go there for months, but I simply felt that with my aol mailbox suddenly full of questions (um... perhaps make that passionate rants) about this topic due to the release of my video CapCuts, a new solid post with my take on the subject was warranted. Feel free to Email or Instant message me anytime. I wish you a great day.

- Cap Casino of CapCuts.com, CapCasino.com and ExpertMagic.com
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/01/02 07:50 AM

Cap: don't you have a spell-checker?
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Postby Lance Pierce » 10/01/02 09:01 AM

Cap,

I think your comments -- into which you've obviously put a lot of thought and imbued with passion -- deserve response. I almost responded to you when you posted this on The Magic Caf, but I thought I'd do it here instead.

First, I agree with much of what I think you're saying, although I find that at certain points your arguments work against you. There is indeed a place for flourishes in magic, and hardcore purists on either end of the spectrum tend to look more rigidly foolish (or is that foolishly rigid?) than anything else. The gentleman who chastised you and your friend was probably way out of line, but at the core of it, there might be good reason why he feels what he does, although his extremism isn't warranted.

I took note of your nod to Erdnase but feel it was out of context. Erdnase does indeed have a chapter on Fancy Blind Cuts, but he specifically states that he feels these cuts are far inferior to the more normal-appearing blind cuts detailed elsewhere. He points out the hazard of their appearance and explains that his reason for including them was because such cuts were already in common use at some tables, and therefore in that kind of company, they're in keeping with the tone already set.

The part of Erdnase that's really germane to this entire topic is this passage from the Legerdemain section, which you may have overlooked:

the mere ability to execute the sleights by no means fits him for the stage or even a drawing room entertainment. In this phase of card-handling, as with card-table artifice, we are of the opinion that the less the company knows about the dexterity of the performer, the better it answers his purpose. A much greater interest is taken in the tricks, and the denouement of each causes infinitely more amazement, when the entire procedure has been conducted in an ordinary manner, and quite free of ostensible cleverness at prestidigitation. If the performer cannot resist the temptation to parade his digital ability, it will mar the effect of his endeavors much less by adjuring the exhibition of such sleights as palming and producing, single-handed shifts, changes, etc., until the wind up of the entertainment. But the sleights should be employed only as a means to an end.

Note that Erdnase refers to this position as an opinion, because that's what it is. There's more than enough room for all kinds of approaches and philosophies in magic, and the one Erdnase suggests is but one among many. There's no ONE right way to do magic, after all.

Your example of the Vernon Wand Spin points out that flourishes can be used, and you even highlight in a way that the Vernon Wand Spin (as well as most of your examples) is a flourish that exists in the context of a routine for a reason. It's not an empty flourish, merely eye-candy with no other reason for existing but its existence itself. You can't apply this same justification, though, to various permutations of the Sybil Cut -- which, by the way, looks simply amazing in your hands -- or most of the flourishes that are being tossed around these days. Within the context of most magic routines, it's a challenge to make them fit well. What the Vernon Wand Spin brings to light by way of example is that flourishes (just like sleights, psychology, subtlety, and any other component that makes up performance) are to be used judiciously, with foresight and with reason. Every element in an act is a means to an end, and any such element that doesn't efficiently propel the piece forward is ballast that needs to be jettisoned.

But it all depends on the act and on the character. As performers (and even for those of us who may not perform but still call ourselves magicians), the question each of us must ask him or herself is: What do I want my audience to perceive while I'm performing, and what do I want them to understand when I'm done? If a magician has a goal to create a deep sense of mystery, then flourishes are obviously not the way to go. If the magician has other goals in mind, however, than flourishes may indeed have a place in that particular performer's repertoire.

I'm the kind of person who loves to watch just about anything done with excellence. This includes flourishes, and it's why when I saw clips of you on various sites doing different things, I was quite impressed. Some of it looks almost superhumanjust as I enjoy watching a juggler by the name of Victor Kee (who performs with Cirque du Soleil's DRALION), because it's on another level altogether. Yes, juggling is a respectable art form. So are flourishes. So is magic. Mixing flourishes with magic, however, requires a certain amount of care and attention, or they both suffer.

Warmly,

Lance
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Postby Steve Bryant » 10/01/02 11:17 AM

As I recall, Vernon took Joe Cosari along with him on a lecture tour to do nothing but demonstrate fancy fans, etc.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 10/02/02 01:29 PM

Cap's comment about snapping the fingers caught my attention:

Even snapping your fingers is perhaps in peril if all the hardcore 'naturalist' were to take over magicdom, since snapping ones fingers isnt a deceptive thing or an invisible maneuver which "the most critical observer wouldnt even suspect let alone detect..", its an open technique which everybody sees.
Snapping the fingers is niehter deceptive nor technique. It is the physical manifestation of magical powers.

This is something that is severely missing from most magic performances. How does the magician physically exert their magical powers? Is it easy or hard? When does it happen?

A simple finger snap or hand wave -- even a wand spin -- should not be considered part of your technique. It is part of the presentation, and it's a part you leave out to the detriment of your performance.

That's what I think, anyway.

Pete

P.S. Cap: You criticize Jamy for defining the Buck brother's by their flourishes. But are you not also defining Jamy's overall opinion of them by his criticism of this one aspect?
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Postby Matthew Field » 10/02/02 02:01 PM

Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
Snapping the fingers is niether deceptive nor technique. It is the physical manifestation of magical powers.
Pete's comment on Cap's observation caught my eye. Although it's straying from the original topic, there are two references to what Pete calls "the physical manifestation of magical powers" that I thought I'd mention.

The first is Larry Jennings' performance of "Oil and Water." Jennings pauses, for a silent count of 10, to let the "oil" separate from the "water" in the card trick -- that's when the magic is happening, and he is quite forceful about insisting upon that 10 seconds of silence when he explains the trick (in his "Thoughts on Cards" video which I review in its re-release in the November Genii).

The second example is Derren Brown and his thinking regarding the performance of mentalism in his great book, "Pure Effect." In his mindreading performance, Derren grunts, moans and squeezes the received thoughts into being. He tells the spectators not to say a word, then beseeches them to say what they're keeping secret; he begs, cajoles, pleads with them to speak. In explaining this aspect of his performance, Derren stresses that most mentalism is only about the result: presto -- the mentalist knows the thought. But how? What is this process of reading minds? Derren attempts to answer that question in his performance.

Whether it's 10 seconds of silence, several minutes of excruciating mind squeeze, or a snap of the fingers, that moment when the magic is occurring is a most important part of the magical experience for the audience.

(In my humble opinion, blah blah blah.)

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Postby EdAndres » 10/02/02 02:44 PM

1st to Cap:

I think if you made your point in less words it may have made more sense....?

I personally think there is a place for flourishes in magic... to what extreme is up to each person. Those who don't are not wrong, they just have a different point of view.

Also you said:
for the inventors and creators such as Marlo or Vernon, who few people really consider to be "commercial' as in telling lots of jokes or gags and so forth
Few people? I beg to differ. they were both extremely commercial. I sat in a restaurant with Mr. Marlo for hours and he made me(and others) laugh and amazed us to boot. I have always used many of his effects in real world gigs.

To Matt:

Good points off topic. I just re-read the Skinner issue of genii. The point about how he made a moment when the magic happened(such as a pause or wave or even a little noise) was brought up by more than one person. This issue is a MUST re-read at least once a year!

Ed
PS Matt I hope your feeling better ;) ;)
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Postby Lance Pierce » 10/02/02 02:59 PM

Matt's comment on Pete's comment on Cap's observation caught my eye.

I'm of the school that the fewer flourishes, the betterbut I wouldn't try to impose this on anyone else, of course. While I do enjoy -- as I mentioned -- seeing anything done excellently, I also admit that if someone tries to show me a magic routine that's packed full of triple cuts, one-handed fans, and spinning cards, I get a little stressed. There's just something about all that unbridled and undisciplined energy that grates, and I don't think it's a coincidence that those most fond of these energetic displays tend to be young performers.

It does seem that pointing to a snap of the fingers is stretching the definition of a flourish a bit. I think Pete and Matt are right on; it's true that we need those moments -- judiciously chosen -- where the magic is clearly defined as taking place. Just how we define that moment is up to us. We can snap, we can wave, we can grunt and squint like we've had a bad lunch, but the audience often has to know that some kind of process is taking place in order to fully appreciate the experience. There are exceptions, naturally, but for the most part, this is a rule.

There's a guitarist by the name of Yngwie Malmsteem. His technique is incredible. His hands are like fire. The music he produces is beyond belief. As impressive and amazing and excellent as it is, I can't listen to it for more than five minutes at a time. It's too frenetic; it's too much.

Likewise, there are some guys doing great flourish work. Absolutely wonderful work. Downright superhuman. But it does get tiring very quickly, and to be quite honest about it, it generally doesn't move me to where I'm pondering it days later, like I would be a good movie, a good play, or a mysterious magic routine. As of yet, it doesn't reach inside and grab the heart and mind. Maybe someday

Just MY humble opinion (blah, blah, blah)

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Postby Larry Horowitz » 10/02/02 04:20 PM

For what it's worth. The Difference between Magic and Juggling.

When you make a mistake in Magic, there is usually an out.
When you make a mistake in Juggling, you have to pick the cards up off the floor.

What the Buck twins do with a deck of cards is amazing. The countless hours they must have devoted to perfecting the coordinated ballet of fingers and cards is not to be laughed at. That being said, I don't think it's Magic.

To me Magic is toying with people's reality. Things occur for which they have no explaination, one minute the card is in the deck, the next it is in a sealed envelope in a wallet. They did not see the card go from A to B. It jumped by Magic.

Card Flourshing by definition is visual. Open to the eye to see. If there is no mystery, no sense that what is being done is out of reality, then there is no Magic.

A flourish can enhance a show. I don't think it can enhance the Magic. However, I well timed flourish, such as a wand spin or card fan, can hide the move that is causing the Magic to happen.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 10/04/02 12:03 AM

Absolutely my favorite quote from the current Tamariz issue is Juan's statement:

"My main goal is to fascinate the audience into thinking that they are dreaming, even if this is only for a few seconds."

To me this is the ultimate argument against open displays of skill. I've never seen them produce this result.
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Postby Guest » 10/04/02 10:21 AM

Pete:

Context.

Absolutely my favorite quote from the current Tamariz issue is Juan's statement:

"My main goal is to fascinate the audience into thinking that they are dreaming, even if this is only for a few seconds."

To me this is the ultimate argument against open displays of skill. I've never seen them produce this result.
Why would an appropriately placed flourish take away from a dream state, much less fail to enhance it? In the real world no one can effortlessly, and in seeming defiance of the laws of gravity, cut a deck into multiple moving, spinning packets, only to reassemble in a neat packet, can they?

I venture the placement, timing, and context of any routine is open to limitless interpretation and presentational methodology. Go Art!

--Randy Campbell
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Postby Bob Coyne » 10/04/02 10:29 AM

I actually think flourshishes can appear to be magical, but to do so, they shouldn't be presented as exhibitions of skilll. Instead they should appear to be effortless, like they are just happening by the magic...that the objects involved are infused with magic. Coins roll across fingers, cards cut and shuffle themselves. So even though the spectators' minds are not fooled, their eyes are surprised and delighted, enhancing and playing off the feeling that magic is in the air, that anything is possible. And before they can regain their balance, some other piece of visual magic (e.g. a color change) happens which fools both the mind and eyes. In such a context, flourishes can be a very beautiful and exciting part of magic.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 10/04/02 02:23 PM

Randy Campbell:
In the real world no one can effortlessly, and in seeming defiance of the laws of gravity, cut a deck into multiple moving, spinning packets, only to reassemble in a neat packet, can they?
Sure they can. I've seen it many times. Even the first time, I never thought it was magic. Impressive yes, and flourishes can definitely be part of an entertaining and compelling entertainment. Gambling demonstrations have a built-in fascination.

Of course you're right about context. But I still believe what I said; I've never seen a flourish that made even one audience member question whether they were awake. And I've seen lots of magic that had that effect.

This doesn't mean that flourishes will kill the sensation of magic. I think what I'm really talking about here is the idea of naturalness in handling.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 10/04/02 02:34 PM

I think part of the problem also lies in the difference between having a command of your props and having a complete and unequivocal mastery of them. Having a command of your props is okayin most cases, the audience not only understands but on some level expects you to have some expertise if you're doing this for a living. However, if you cross into this arena of cold mastery, then they don't tend to feel any mystery or surprise about anything you do.

"Of course he can pull the card out of that wallet; didn't you see the way they were flying all over the place a minute ago?"

"I'm not surprised the cards keep coming up in orderat this point I'd be more shocked if they didn't."

I admire flourishes in the same way I admire acrobatics. Beautiful to watch (although in some cases I can only stand about five minutes of it) and sometimes quite engaging, but it seems there's a clear division between the art of flourishes and the art of magic -- and the line between the two should be crossed only with the greatest of care.

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Postby Pete Biro » 10/04/02 03:34 PM

It is just me but I don't like to read long posts... why not break them down into short succintct ones... whatever that means?
Stay tooned.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/04/02 03:39 PM

It is the lack of a particular comment that has caught my eye (only Lance briefly mentioned it very early on - but I wish to stress its importance):

The mostly overlooked issue here, that to some will be off topic (though I would argue that it is directly on target), is character.

The vast majority of magicians neglect this aspect of performance art, yet it is nearly as important as technique. And it is the performance character - and how well developed that character is - that determines to what degree flourishes are appropriate. In fact, I believe that it is the single most important factor in making such a determination. One need only look at the most successful magical performers: they all have well defined characters wherein nothing that they do seems out of place - whether they do flourishes or not.

Like my friend Dr. DUK said: Go Art!

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Postby Bob Coyne » 10/04/02 03:43 PM

I think the analogy between flourishes and acrobatics (or juggling) is misleading. With acrobatics or juggling you hold your breath, hoping they won't fall. If they succeed, you admire the skill, but don't feel a sense of magic or mystery. With flourishes, the method isn't so apparent. The coin somehow rolls across the fingers. Yeah you can figure out that it's probably just a result of the magician's skill and finger movements, but it LOOKS like magic. If you turn off your analytical mind, you might think you've seen magic. Juggling and acrobatics don't fool the eyes or look like magic. They look like the result of great skill.
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Postby Mike Powers » 10/04/02 06:38 PM

There are many excellent analogies between magic and music. In this case I think a good musical analog to the magical flourish is when a guitar player engages in extremely fast playing for the purpose of impressing the crowd. This often works and garners applause. Unfortunately, from an artistic standpoint, it has also distracted the audience from the music itself. The audience is no longer having an experience of music but rather is enjoying a diversion viz. watching the performer show off. Some musicians might feel that this showing off is bad form from an artistic perspective. The performer might reply in his/her defense that the audience enjoys it so why not ENTERTAIN them.

Ultimately its a personal call. When used judiciously, flourishy showing off can entertain the audience. It is a distraction from the magic, however, and the points at which it is injected should be carefully chosen so as not to step on the magic.

If your focus is really on the creation of the experience of magic in your audience, I doubt that you would use flourishes very much. On the other hand, flourishes may reach a level of high art themselves. What Michael Moschen does with the crystal balls is, in some ways, a type of flourish and yet it looks so incredible that I am driven into a zen-like state of cosmic consciousness. The Boston Globe said , "Moschen walks a fine line between entertainment and high art." Maybe it's possible for some magical flourish artists to reach this level.

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Postby Guest » 10/05/02 03:59 AM

Jerry Maguire fans may find this amusing:

After reading my (admittedly!) lengthy and at times potentially tedious post about the merits of flourishes, one anti- flourisher I was talking with had this to say:

"Dear Cap...
You had me at hello."

------------------------

I'd just like to take the time to genuinely thank Mr. Pierce for his very well communicated thoughts on this subject both here and on themagiccafe. I enjoyed your Magic Magazine article on Bill Malone very much btw. It's very helpful to see the steps Mr. Malone took to achieve success, since as they say "do what successful people do and you'll most likely become successful."

I hope you understand that me not responding right away does not mean I'm trying to ignore you or am not getting something out of your post. At first I simply wanted more posts to arrive before responding, now after there ARE a number of notable ones, I've been thinking and testing. Trying out different approaches in conjunction with this forum's flourish feedback. Reevaluating my beliefs. Once I come to a definite conclusion I will THEN post my discoveries. For those who dislike reading, I must warn you now, it may not be short.
I have been and will continue to try various flourish styles, frequencies, and strategies on people wherever I go. So far a charming lady at the 7/11, a fellow at Blockbusters, and my Hand Therapist have got to witness the test I'm about to mention to you. Try it! It's fun to do and I'd love to see what you come up with. Here's the very simple experiment which you can easily pull off a number of times by tomorrow night: do a double lift for someone then show the change with 0 action/movement or time delay. Now try doing a double lift which is then followed by the pirouette flourish described on pg 1022 of Card College vol. 4, NOW show the transformation. Tell me which version plays better and more magical- the non flourish version or the flourish version? My hunch is that the 2nd version will universally play stronger. If this occurs with all of you it seems to clearly prove a SIMPLE situation where flourishes strengthen magic. I have many much more subtle concepts such as palming coins while doing % faces of Sybil as mentioned by Kenner in Out of Control essentially creating a 'holding the wand principle' which is well... 5 times as effective.

----------

One more thing for others out there, did the fancy cuts Mr. Malone uses in his notorious laymen slaying Sam the Bellhop routine seem truly deceptive to you, as in really mixing the cards? How did your laymen friends perceive them? I'm not talking about the Zarrows or anything which are quite deceptive, but the fancy cuts. They seemed rather flourishy to me. If one says yes- they were deceptive- it seems to prove flourishes can be part of magical deception- the technique side, if you say no, it seems to say to me that superfluous flourishes can be quite impressive and entertaining since Sam the Bell Hop is one of the most famous card tricks of all time due to Bill Malone making it a hit with all those 'destructively superfluous flourishes' :rolleyes: ? Either way it would appear I win, but maybe not... Does any body have any thoughts on this point. For example why Malone's Sam does use 'dead cutting' type false cuts? I think the path he chose conveys a jazzy fun flavor and is a CRITICAL reason why Sam the Bellhop is quite possibly the most famous general public card trick of all time. Mr. Pierce mentioned elsewhere that he felt the cuts B. Malone used were not perceived as flourishy. I'm not so sure about that since I remember my first impression when seeing the routine on W.G.M. #1 years ago of being: hot damn! look at the way he cuts those cards! Unfathomable dexterity! I wish I could do that!, this was a personal impression and impressions can be different with everybody; yet from a more definitional standpoint I seem to be in good company since even Roberto Giobbi calls what Bill Malone did a flourish in C.C.2.

Don't get me wrong Lance ( :) !), you're posts on this topic have been very useful and I greatly appreciate the time you take to make them. I hope you will continue to do so and realize if I'm in disagreement with you it's all just to be in sync with the view that " the unexamined life is not worth living"...

-cap casino of capcuts.com
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Postby Guest » 10/05/02 04:13 AM

whoops! 2 clarity harming errors :( -

"such as palming coins while doing % faces of Sybil"

should be:

"such as palming coins while doing 5 faces of Sybil(the % and 5 are on the same key...)"

--------------

"For example why Malone's Sam does use 'dead cutting'"

should be :

"For example why Malone's Sam doesN'T use 'dead cutting'..."

---------

A lesson in the perils of writing genii forum posts right before going to sleep I suppose. Please forgive me and have a great day.
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Postby Larry Horowitz » 10/05/02 08:57 AM

Cap,
Just a quick comment. I would never do a double lift and then show the change without some time delay or other action. You must have the second moment, no matter what it may be(including a flourish), otherwise the audience would percieve no magic and of course the display would fall flat.
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Postby Guest » 10/05/02 02:43 PM

"For example why Malone's Sam does use 'dead cutting'"

Isn't Malone Sam the guy on Cheers (played by Ted Danson)?
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Postby Steve Hook » 10/05/02 04:39 PM

Richard:

The guy writes a thoughtful, informed, reasonable, and polite essay and all you can say is, "Don't you have a spellchecker"? Sheesh. I expect more from our fearless :genii: leader.

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Postby Richard Kaufman » 10/05/02 08:40 PM

Steve, it was only a joke ... and a standard comedic technique as well. Not every joke is funny to everyone, or sometimes to anyone. I welcome him and his ideas to the Forum.
Subscribe today to Genii Magazine
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Postby Steve Hook » 10/05/02 10:02 PM

Originally posted by Richard Kaufman:
Steve, it was only a joke ... and a standard comedic technique as well. Not every joke is funny to everyone, or sometimes to anyone. I welcome him and his ideas to the Forum.

That was so dry, the nomads didn't even get it. ;)

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Postby Pete McCabe » 10/05/02 10:33 PM

Here's the very simple experiment which you can easily pull off a number of times by tomorrow night: do a double lift for someone then show the change with 0 action/movement or time delay. Now try doing a double lift which is then followed by the pirouette flourish described on pg 1022 of Card College vol. 4, NOW show the transformation. Tell me which version plays better and more magical- the non flourish version or the flourish version? My hunch is that the 2nd version will universally play stronger. If this occurs with all of you it seems to clearly prove a SIMPLE situation where flourishes strengthen magic.
Try this also: take the (switched) card and stick it into the bill changer on a soda machine. When it is rejected show the spectator that the card changed while inside the soda machine. In my experience this plays even stronger than the flourish.

This seems to clearly prove that it is not the flourish that strengthens the effect, but the external physical manifestation of magic. And even at that, a flourish is not the strongest option.

I'm not saying that this proves flourishes aren't magical. But I do not believe Cap's example demonstrates what he claims it does.

By the way I can't remember who came up with this soda machine bit or what issue of what magazine I read it. I think maybe it was David Acer. Also I like David. And it's just the kind of thing he would come up with.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 10/05/02 11:51 PM

Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
By the way I can't remember who came up with this soda machine bit...
A part of my brain (that could be malfunctioning) is connecting Chad Long with this.

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Postby Larry Horowitz » 10/06/02 10:41 AM

I have used thesoda machine switch with great resultes. Performing walk around in a bar, one customer said that all card tricks were math based,obviously he has the ubiqiutous uncle. I brought him over the the Juke box, had a card selected,controled it to the top, did the double lift and showed the wrong card. Then comes the great part, which you can only do with a Juke box. I asked him the name of his card and then punched the appropriate buttons on the box, explaining this would change the wrong card into the right one. Put the card in the slot and it spit out a miracle. I didn't buy another drink for the rest of the weekend.
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Postby Guest » 10/06/02 12:51 PM

I too am curious about the Soda machine Change. I have been performing it for years. I came up with the idea after seeing a card that folded into a dollar. I realized they, the dollar and card, were roughly the same size and tried it out. I agree that it elicits a magnificent response. Can we get David or Chad to weigh in when this was created?
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Postby Guest » 10/06/02 01:09 PM

It was published by David Acer. I believe it appeared on the AllMagicGuide.

I published a similar idea "Free Soda" in HalfBaked. Several varitions were inspired and published in a later issue.

Best,

Nathan

www.nathankranzo.com
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Postby Steve V » 10/06/02 04:23 PM

Cap, what ever you do, do NOT go to the Foo Can and read my thoughts on card manipulation, just don't do it man.
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Postby Jim S. » 10/08/02 06:21 AM

Cap,

With all due respect, I think you are in danger of adopting the very position you choose to discredit. You state that a hard line against flourishes is wrong (and I agree). However, you seem to be stating that a hard line *for* flourishes is ok. You cite several magicians who use flourishes as proof that flourishes are universally ok. I can cite several who do not, and that would not prove that flourishes are bad. What branch of magic strives (sometimes to nearly criminal lengths) to be truly believed? Mentalism. And in most cases, if a mentalist threw a flourish into a routine, the routine (and possibly the act) is dead.

Lance Pierce (he of the eloquent posts) and I attended a magic club meeting recently. One statement we heard there and have heard frequently is, "If I can make them laugh then it doesn't matter if I fool them." No director in his right mind would say, "If the acting is good it doesn't matter how cheesy the costumes and special effects are." The entire performance is an integral unit. Enhancing one component while ignoring the effect on the whole is done at your peril.

If I were to play Brett Maverick (of t.v. and movie fame) and sat at a card table doing flourishy cuts and shuffles, it would create exactly the impression I wanted to convey - a man supremely impressed with his own abilities. If, on the other hand, I was playing Uri Geller and I juggled the spoons prior to bending them, then I would kill my credibility (unless my goal was to lampoon Mr. Geller).

The problem with taking a hard line is that hard lines cut. Cap, I believe (on faith, having never seen you perform) that the flourishes you do fit your character. I am less inclined to do them, and Max Maven is less inclined still.

Thank you for providing thought-provoking posts. I look forward to having the opportunity to periodically reexamine my beliefs.

Jim
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Postby Guest » 10/08/02 07:53 PM

Thanks Nathan for the crediting issue.
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Postby Guest » 10/14/02 10:55 PM

"There are many excellent analogies between magic and music. In this case I think a good musical analog to the magical flourish is when a guitar player engages in extremely fast playing for the purpose of impressing the crowd. This often works and garners applause. Unfortunately, from an artistic standpoint, it has also distracted the audience from the music itself."

When I first started playing guitar 12 years ago, there was a constant debate on whether or not to play fast. At the time, the argument was that playing fast meant you couldn't play with "feeling".

For some reason I never quite understood, trying to improve your technique on the guitar was frowned upon. If you were a pianist playing Chopin or a violinist playing Paganini then you HAD to play 1/64 notes. Every other form of music requires a virtuoso to have a complete mastery of his instrument. But a guitarist doing the same was called a "technique freak" who wasn't interested in the music.

Now I understand that showing off for showing off's sake is not right, rather in music or magic. But displaying a proficient skill with your instrument (guitar, coins, or a deck of cards) does not mean you have no respect for the art.

In magic, your handling of your props should be in concert with your character. It is OK it your character handles cards, or whatever, differently than a layman. I prefer to shuffle the cards with one hand and then have a card selected from a beautifully displayed fan. Then that fan will snap close with no visible movement from me. Now, should I find their card on top of the deck after a fancy triple cut, it should surprise no one I did it by skill. However, if the card flies out of the deck with NO movement of my hands, that is magical despite the flourish.

I think with magic, as in music, it is not IF you use skill, but rather HOW you use it.

-Michael
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Postby Lance Pierce » 10/15/02 05:34 AM

Hi, Michael,

I think the crucial part of Mike Powers' statement was "...for the purpose of impressing the crowd... ." This is quite a different thing than "for the purpose of entertaining the crowd" or "for the purpose of creating great music."

It all comes down to the performer's intent and how he expresses it -- and whether or not his expression actually achieves what he wants it to.

Cheers,

Lance
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Postby The Grate Amazmo » 10/16/02 06:52 PM

Loved the issue on and by Tamariz, but let's face it, we only dream when we are asleep. :)
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Postby Guest » 10/20/02 09:56 AM

Here's my latest thought on flourishes:

------------------------------------------

Even if you were to disregard the many other points as to the value of flourishes, the practical method wise points such as being part of the artifice, defining the magic moment, serving as misdirection, creating helpful time delays, etc. etc... I would say that in many laymen's minds flourishes are the whole magic period! Think of a card transformation effect. Let's take a closer look at the example of doing a double lift and then immediately showing the card vs. doing a double lift and spinning the card youve convinced them is the ace of hearts on your middle finger. This is the pirouette flourish move. Once the card has ended it's flourish you dramatically reveal the change. This is virtually always a stronger version. To laymen when the card spun was when the magic occurred. That's what makes it so baffling since no deception occurred then. We've deliciously redefined the realties of the moments. To the spectator his time code is like this: "nothing occurred, nothing occurred, nothing occurred, flourish occurred, nothing occurred and nothing occurred." When then trying to think about how the magic could of happened ( and this analysis phase ALWAYS happens btw if only during a micro second of time) The spectator will only backtrack and analyze the time frame of the spin and only have his 'when did he do something?!' moment in regards to the spin. Since absolutely no artifice occurred during the spin the spectator is forced across the rainbow' as Tamariz might say. This only gets better with time since memory is such an imperfect thing, and the flourish compared to the turning over of a card is much more memorable. Therefore as time goes on the turning of the card- the double lift or the deception fades further under the 'consciousness radar'.

When I mentioned this on the genii forum, some pointed out the bit of business where you put a card in a vending machines slot and wait for it to come out then reveal the change. This can be effective if you've done a convincing enough switch or are for a gullible enough spectator. No doubt. Still I must wonder the obvious question of 'what if you don't have a vending machine handy?!' There are few other strategies that can be done while in a car or on the metro or anytime anywhere that are as handy as the inborn skill to do a flourish.

The above example is when the flourishes are combined with artifice and ruse ( which is all I'm promoting and which many disagree with)yet still in laymen's minds masterful feats of juggling are certainly of a magical feel. Magical. Maybe not magic but magical. Most magicians seem to forget how laymen really think. I really recommend you check out Michael Mochen's role in the Jim Henson/George Lucas film Labyrinth. Go ahead stop by the local Blockbusters one you're done reading this, go on do it. :D He plays the arms of David Bowie who plays a magician. Bowie contact juggles crystal balls. I remember seeing that film and being thoroughly fascinated and thinking it was quite magical indeed.

I feel strongly about the value in analyzing this topic since I think its the reason for a lot of the pathetic magic out there. The magic with no suave, no style, no cool factor, no elegance, no skill and therefore the reason for why many laymen have such a horrendously negative notion of what someone coming up to them with a pack of cards in hand will be like.

-Cap

p.s.

Here are two other different situational examples which just popped into my head:

1.Why do magi fan the cards when they produce them in their stage manipulation acts? The fan serves the illusion besides the clear aesthetic appeal. It creates a psychological 'bigger' production than if there was just a block of 15 squared cards.

2.If you can produce 4 coins, producing them in a very hard to fathom grip say the 4 coin roll down flourish position is surely even more impossible to laymen right?
It's got a touch of impossible location feel to it.
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Postby Guest » 10/20/02 10:03 AM

Even if you were to disregard the many other points as to the value of flourishes, the practical method wise points such as being part of the artifice, defining the magic moment, serving as misdirection, creating helpful time delays, etc. etc... I would say that in many laymen's minds flourishes are the whole magic period! Think of a card transformation effect. Let's take the example of doing a double lift and then immediately showing the card vs. doing a double lift and spinning the card youve convinced them is the ace of hearts on your middle finger example mentioned previously in this thread. It's the pirouette flourish move. Once the card has ended it's flourish you dramatically reveal the change. This is virtually always a stronger version. To laymen when the card spun was when the magic occurred. That's what makes it so baffling since no deception occurred then. We've deliciously redefined the realties of the moments. To the spectator his time code is like this: "nothing occurred, nothing occurred, nothing occurred, flourish occurred, nothing occurred and nothing occurred." When then trying to think about how the magic could of happened ( and this analysis phase ALWAYS happens btw if only during a micro second of time) The spectator will only backtrack and analyze the time frame of the spin and only have his 'when did he do something?!' moment in regards to the spin. Since absolutely no artifice occurred during the spin the spectator is forced across the rainbow' as Tamariz might say. This only gets better with time since memory is such an imperfect thing, and the flourish compared to the turning over of a card is much more memorable. Therefore as time goes on the turning of the card- the double lift or the deception fades further under the 'consciousness radar'.

When I mentioned this on the genii forum, some pointed out the bit of business where you put a card in a vending machines slot and wait for it to come out then reveal the change. This can be effective if you've done a convincing enough switch or are for a gullible enough spectator. No doubt. Still I must wonder the obvious question of 'what if you don't have a vending machine handy?!' There are few other strategies that can be done while in a car or on the metro or anytime anywhere that are as handy as the inborn skill to do a flourish.

The above example is when the flourishes are combined with artifice and ruse ( which is all I'm promoting and which many disagree with)yet still in laymen's minds masterful feats of juggling are certainly of a magical feel. Magical. Maybe not magic but magical. Most magicians seem to forget how laymen really think. I recently rented the Jim Henson/George Lucas film Labyrinth. I really recommend you check out Michael Mochen's role in it. He plays the arms of David Bowie who plays a magician. Bowie contact juggles crystal balls. I remember seeing that film and being thoroughly fascinated and thinking it was quite magical indeed.

I feel strongly about the value in analyzing this topic since I think its the reason for a lot of the pathetic magic out there. The magic with no suave, no style, no cool factor, no elegance, no skill and therefore the reason for why many laymen have such a horrendously negative notion of what someone coming up to them with a pack of cards in hand will be like.

-Cap

p.s.

Here are two other different situational examples which just popped into my head:

1.Why do magi fan the cards when they produce them in their stage manipulation acts? The fan serves the illusion besides the clear aesthetic appeal. It creates a psychological 'bigger' production than if there was just a block of 15 squared cards.

2.If you can produce 4 coins, producing them in a very hard to fathom grip say the 4 coin roll down flourish position is surely even more impossible to laymen right?
It's got a touch of impossible location feel to it.
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Postby Lance Pierce » 10/20/02 11:47 AM

Hi, Cap,

I think you may be comparing apple and oranges in your own argument here. It seems that there are worlds of difference between:

1) a small flourish done to accentuate the moment of the magic or to effect a revelation, and

2) an eight-way cut that serves neither of the above purposes and only exists to exhibit skill.

Anyone who argues against any and all flourishes probably isnt being reasonable. Some may feel the same way about anyone who argues for any and all flourishes, if they argue without regard for the types of flourishes under discussion and the contexts in which theyre being used.

Im one who feels that magic is a craft that can be raised to the level of art by its practitioners, and that the highest expression of magic as an art involves mystery. A tickle of a playing card, a spin of a wand, or a twirl of a linking ring in the right places all serve the mystery. There are many flourishes, however, that not only dont serve the mystery, but they actively interfere with it.

I have this sneaking suspicion that after watching a stage show of magic, many laypeople are saying to themselves, Wow, that was really wonderful, and I dont know how he did it, but I bet it had something to do with that box. This is an inherent weakness of stage magic that all stage magicians have to work to overcome. Likewise, when someone produces four coins through a roll-down flourish as you described, the audience is given part of the answer: I dont know exactly how he did it, but given his incredible skill, Im not surprised. Its far more magical if the coins appear apparently without any manipulation on the part of the performer.

I think magic should have some kind of cool factor, yes, but I also think that a lot of this comes from the performer and not from the flourishes sprouting from the fingertips. I cant think of two magicians more cool than Penn and Teller, but for some reason I dont associate what they do with any overt skill of any kind. When I think of the times Ive been fooled most badly with magic those times I really had to sit back and go, Holy crap, how the hell did THAT happen? those were the times that there were few or no flourishes involved at all. In their absence, the magic was allowed to speak for itself, and it can speak very loudly indeed.

Cheers,

Lance
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Postby Guest » 10/20/02 05:15 PM

In response to the 'flourishy packet cuts have no place in creating illusion implication:

Besides increasing the impact of the magic and looking cool, for those that have read 'Destroyers', you'll find Troy using the Pendulum flourish Cut to accomplish a more deceptive double-under-cut. And one of my friends Lee Asher uses the 'Fabrication' cut to enhance the visual evidence of chaos in the Triumph effect.
Do others out there have any examples of pet flourishy cut situations where functional factors are accomplished?
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