A Diabolical Apparatus, But No Good Routine in 50 Years

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Guest » 12/26/01 09:06 PM

The Chop Cup.

Consider the root effect. You hold a previously shown empty cup suspended over the table open side down. You set the cup down on the table. With no furtive moves you raise the cup and there is a ball, or some other object which has magically appeared underneath.

This is pure magic, and you are so far ahead at the outset that laymen don't have a chance.

What really bothers me is that we magicians haven't really come up with a routine that exploits this gimmick to the fullest.

The best we seem to have come up with is Don Alan's routine, which is essentially, 'where is the ball, in my pocket or under the cup?'

I think this is an inelegant application of a sublime principal.

Don Alan made this work, to a certain extent, because he had the inate talent of the expert bar magician's ability to walk the fine line between being charming and pi$$ing off his spectators. Otherwise competent magicians freqently fail to do this. Witness R. Paul Wilson, one of my favorite magicians, on his recent Restaurant Act tape from A-1, where he botches a Don Alan approach to this effect with a lame and lackluster performance.

Larry Jennings took the tool a bit further in the direction I'm looking for in his routine, most recently published in James Swain's Twenty First Century Card Magic book.

Jon Racherbaumer published an interesting Marlo contrivance in 'Arcade Dreams'.

I think this trick deserves an elegant, beautiful routine. No gargantuan final loads. No spectator challange or guessing game. Something where objects appear, vanish, reappear; with no wand spins, false transfers, or groping at your backside.
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Postby Guest » 12/26/01 09:23 PM

1998 SAM close up champ Doug Brewer has a nice routine with a shot glass size chop cup called "Chopped Taters" in his new book "The Unexpected Visitor".

The routine has a small potato as the final load.

Everything else in the book is coin magic, if you like Chop Cup routines, you may want to take a look.

I have a review of the book posted in the reviews section of www.coinvanish.com.

Dan
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/26/01 11:14 PM

Jennings' routine was really Ron Wilson's-- and is a mighty fine one.

IMHO throw away the chop cup if you haven't an entertaining way of performing.

Try the classic cups and balls.
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Postby Tom Stone » 12/28/01 05:44 AM

Originally posted by crimper:
The Chop Cup.
What really bothers me is that we magicians haven't really come up with a routine that exploits this gimmick to the fullest.


Peter Rosengren, here in Sweden, has a really great stand up routine for the Chop Cup that is quite different from all other Chop Cup routines I've seen.
He published it in a lecture notes titled "The Trickster" a few years back. I don't know if he has any copies left, but his email is: p.rosengren@telia.com
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Postby Guest » 12/28/01 11:45 AM

While I agree with crimpers suggestions , the idea of doing a cup and ball routine without any false transfers seems a bit much.

Noah Levine
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Postby Charlie Chang » 12/28/01 12:27 PM

In response to the criticism by "crimper", might I make a few points that other reviewers of the Restaurant Act were able to perceive without prompting.

The shoot for the Restaurant Act consisted of a dead audience of "magic veterans". Remarks by one of my "helpers" shows this clearly. I agree that the performace was indeed not up to scratch. The audience, who had watched two DAYS of magic and were practically numb was one reason. Another is the fact that the editor of that tape chose to use the SECOND take, not the first.

Another important point is that the tape was designed to ILLUSTRATE a restaurant act, not ENTERTAIN with one. Yes, I would have been happier if they had used the first take but the main point of the tape was still achieved.

Regarding my Chop Cup routine itself, I have heard your opinion expressed by other internet critics (all with pseudonyms, incidentally). It would be easy for me to get pissed off and start attacking you. I won't do that. You are entitled to your opinion and welcome to share it. Please read what follows in the spirit it is intended.

"Lean Chop" (the routine at the end of my act) was developed over several years. It's title refers to it's nature. It has been trimmed of all the fat until it is as direct and powerful as possible. It is also designed to be performed quickly, when necessary.The Don Alan elements (that I inherited by way of Paul Daniels' routine) were used because I liked the idea of beating them silly before hitting them with the climax.

There are many high points in this routine. The opening feint, and final appearance of the ball are both very, VERY strong. In fact the final appearance utilizes the empty cup (with ball secretly attached) principle very well. It allows me to show the cup empty in such a way that the appearance of the ball immediately after does not make the method obvious (lay people ARE able to deduce).

This final appearance of the ball, using the chop cup's power to the full, covers the first load very well indeed. The first load, then covers the second equally well.

I have good reason to defend this routine.

To begin with, I have developed and used it for over 12 years. I am proud of it because of it's SIMPLICITY. It is direct and effective and guarantees a strong finish. In the last month alone I have probaly performed that routine for over two thousand people (eight to ten tables of ten or more people per night for four weeks) and I know it's true value.

You, on the other hand, watched a tape. Furthermore, you watched that tape without making allowances for the problems that seem (to most people, at least) obvious.

This might hurt my feelings but more than that it disappoints me.

Here is a simple fact - magicians appreciate new and intriguing methods. Audiences appreciate strong, powerful effects. Everything on that tape is strong and powerful, routined for the tablehopping performer. That's what is advertised on the box.

Some magicians have dismissed my routine BECAUSE of it's simplicity, the very quality that makes it valuable to a working pro.

If we could have had a camera crew follow me around an event or restaurant gig we would have captured a good show - instead we included an ILLUSTRATION of the act, performed in a DIFFERENT environment to the one intended.

It is very difficult for a video producer to supply his performers with a live audience of people capable of acting naturally in front of the camera. As a result, the performer has to go out and face a group of people giving off a strangely muted energy - they are conscious of the environment.

When performing so called "commercial" magic this is especially difficult (everyone in my audience knew the sponge balls - most knew the cups and balls and at least one was well aware of the card to wallet - all effects that rely to some degree on an element of surprise).

Often, the best case scenario is a couple of audience members capable of acting well. A better solution is to lubricate the crowd with some alcohol prior to filming.

Usually, when faced with a more (lets say) sophisticated audience, I use material they haven't seen before or that bears repeated viewing. Pretty hard to do when filming a video of a commercial act using four accepted classics of magic.

So, whilst I appreciate you not liking the "challenge" approach, I must take issue with your appraisel of my routine, for which you paid about $25 but has earned me far more than that, thanks to the qualities listed above.

For the poor performance I WILL apologise - I only had two bites at the cherry and the porrer of the two was shown. For the handlings and construction I make no apologies what-so-ever.

PS - check John Bannon's book Impossibilia for an interesting Chop Cup routine. I will also feature two effects in a forthcoming book that use the chop cup in a very different manner (no balls or final loads).
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Postby mago » 12/28/01 04:57 PM

Brother magi,

I think that we are missing an important item here and that is the public.

They are very well entertained with this wonderful piece of magic.

We are always looking at our magic from our view points and in some way this is great.

The audience could care less. They just want to be entertained and that is what we are here for.

My best to you all.

Tom :cool:
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/28/01 07:10 PM

I had forgotten Paul Daniels version of the Chop Cup...

I've seen him destroy 2,400 people in a large theater with the trick.

He uses a cup from Ken Brooke.

He is more than entertaining with it.

Remember, a chop cup is merely a tool. :rolleyes:
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Postby steve » 12/28/01 07:17 PM

I must give credit to Paul for "keeping his cool". I'm a novice magician (at best) and I have seen Paul perform and I have his 3 most recent videos (you owe me a drink for all this Mr. Wilson), and I must say he's one of the people I enjoyed the most. His skill was,well, how can you put that into words? I can't. Let's just say I knew what to look for, looked for it, and never saw it. He fooled me many times and is, without question a master at sleight of hand.

If the thought went into posing the original question that went into Paul's response, this question would not have been asked. I defend Paul's Restaurant Act video for the very reasons he mentioned. Tell you what- you perform the same trick for someone time and time again within minutes or hours and see if the reaction is eye popping, or if the 10th reaction is the same as the first. No- it won't be, that's why you don't do it, in most cases. So, the challenge- how to make people who have seen the trick 10 times in a row act as if they have never seen it before. Simple....actors. That's about the only way. Once they know there's going to be a lemon under the cup, it's not going to be very magical the 7th time around.

I don't think the Restaurant Act did Paul justice, but then again, I have yet to see anyone who was better on video than in person. I'm sure there are some, but I haven't seen them yet. I know he's caught a lot of grief over it and I'm willing to bet his next piece of work will not be subjected to the same issues he believes happened (I think most of it's just people sitting there, analyzing things to death instead of performing magic for real people). Fact- Paul knows what makes people react and he does it. If it's not a great trick with high impact, you probably wouldn't be seeing him perform it. Give the guy the credit he's earned.

Then again, you buy the tape for the moves,or so I thought. I don't buy videos so I can be the other person, I buy them to learn sleights, moves, fine points and anything else I can pick up. Who cares if the reaction on the tapes is earth shattering? Have you seen the reactions of most all spec's on videos? Hardly jaw dropping reactions from any of them.If I can use the work, I will use it.

Keep up the GREAT work Paul. Look forward to seeing you on the next lecture tour you take over here. In fact, bring your chop cup so you can fool me live, rather than on video !!
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/28/01 11:37 PM

Just finished watching Dave Brubeck bio on PBS and the KEY, the most important thing noted is that after years and years and years and years of playing the "same" tune, he said it almost never is the same, it is different every time.

JAZZ

I feel much the same when I do certain routines, they feel fresh, they always have something new, even if it is minor, it keeps growing, changing and keeps working.

You say after an audience has seen the lemon for the 7th time... etc... don't do a lemon the 7th time...

The cup can become filled with dirt, and you pull out a small plant and stick it in...

Hey, maybe it's jello, rice, mud...

PLAY MAGIC JAZZ :D
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Postby cataquet » 12/30/01 04:36 AM

I have a routine that I have been using for about 5 years. It's based on a Barry Govan routine which used two different colored dice and a cup ("Las Vegas Dice", Apocalypse, May 1982).

The problem with most chop cup routines is that they are all based on the "Is it in my pocket or under the cup?". John Bannon has a nice handling that gets around this premise, and I highly recommed you have a look at it.

However, in my opinion, the main reason that the published routines are so weak, is that they tend to ONLY use the properties of the chop cup. There are a lot of very convincing C&B moves that can be used in conjunction with the chop cup. For example, it's much better to load a ball into the cup while revealing the other ball, rather than the inane shake the cup, and mime taking the ball.

Moreover, most routines involve one magnetic and one non-magnetic ball. This limits the creative juices because you can only use the cup when you have the magnetic ball. John Mendoza has an interesting twist on the chop cup, as he has a C&B routine that uses three cups (one of which is a chop cup). The chop cup makes the routine much stronger.

In my routine, I have two balls of different colors (actually, two of each color are used). All 4 balls are magnetic, but the outside polarity of the balls are such that they repell one another when under the cup. Also, the (wooden) cup is internally tapered so that only one ball touches the bottom of the cup when the cup is mouth up. Thus, when two balls are dropped into the cup, only one will stick to the top.

Now, if we come back to the Govan routine, you can let the fun begin. You now have a chop cup routine where the ball doesn't travel from your pocket to under the cup, but rather the two different colored balls transpose between your hands and the cup. I have added much more to the Govan routine, but his thought of using the spellbound effect with balls (or dice) is great.

The final load involves putting one ball in the pocket, and having it jump back into the cup. The chop cup adds the convincer as only one ball is seen under the cup when the second ball goes into the pocket.

Bye for now

Harold
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Postby Charlie Chang » 12/30/01 06:39 AM

The "is it in my pocket or is it in the cup" approach seems to be described repeatedly as a problem.

Could someone explain to me what the problem is?

As already explained, experience boiled my routine down to the base elements. I kept what was strongest and the above premise works very well indeed.

I would suggest that people who describe this as a problem are looking a little too deeply. For me it's like saying "the problem with most sponge ball routines is that they always end with the balls in their hands".

I believe that the basic elements of Chop Cup are the best uses for this prop. How we arrange those in our own routine and exploit them amounts to little more than personalizations based on experience and preference (my own included).

It is not wrong to explore other avenues but to "put down" what actually seems to work best (I have tried MANY variations on presentation) is wrong, in my opinion.

A lot of people complain about the "invisible deck" being "hackneyed", even "out of date". That is equally wrong. There ARE other approaches and other presentations for the Ultra Mental deck, I have several myself. But Don Alan (again!) set the standard with that plot. I have yet to see one to beat it and very few to equal it.
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Postby Guest » 12/30/01 07:36 AM

I have for several years been using the chop cup to produce the items that I will use during my show. Doing bar magic I just place it on the bar then lift it to produce the cards I will be using, coins, salt shakers, etc. When a woman helps me with something a small rose is produced and given to her. Then lift the cup again and you have your next prop. At the bar I often use it to produce a shot that was ordered while I am performing.
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Postby Guest » 12/30/01 09:31 AM

Here is a thought on why there are so many people using the cup but not a ton of PUBLISHED routines that you like and find original etc. I understand that the cup is very popular with "workers" but most workers don't like to tip their routines to the general magic public( Mr. Wilson was kind enough to do this). Just thoughts.

Noah Levine
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Postby Bill Mullins » 12/30/01 01:25 PM

Stephen Bargatze of Nashville has an incredibly funny chop cup routine. It is written up in the last issue of Steve Beam's "Trap Door", but simple words on a page don't do it justice -- it is a vehicle for Stephen's personality/character to come out. The first time I saw it, I cried and hurt myself I was laughing so hard. He was kind enough to do it at the 1998 SEAM convention we hosted here in Huntsville, and it killed in our cabaret show. Even the juggler couldn't top it <G>.

The discussion about Paul Wilson's videotape of his Chop Cup routine sounds familiar -- everyone who has seen it says it is great, but even Paul concedes that the video isn't particularly strong. I've heard (and observed) that other magicians weren't well served by the videos made of their tricks.

Why do they do it? Is it a cash cow? Is it perceived as a good teaching method? Is it a preferred way to establish paternity of an act or trick or routine?

Dan Harlan lectured here after he did his recent tapes of Packs Small, Plays Big acts (but before they were released). He said he did all of the tapes over a couple days, and the shoot was so rushed that he didn't have time to re-shoot some mistakes he made. I haven't seen the tapes, but I get the impression from some of the reviews that they look just as he described them -- rushed.

I've been fortunate to see many pros lecture and perform, and I almost always enjoy them. But there are many magicians whom I've only seen in the video format, and the thought that for the most part I'm seeing them rushed with a dead audience is disheartening. I know there's not so much money in magic video production to do much more, but I wish that these records of magicians were taken at the performer's best, rather than under such compromised circumstances.

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Postby Dave Shepherd » 12/30/01 07:37 PM

I use a pocket chop cup as one of my favorite closing routines. I would like to second what Paul Wilson argues: this is an amazing routine for lay audiences, and I don't care a tiny little bit whether magicians are fooled. I don't get paid to fool magicians.

My routine uses my pockets and ends with a "gargantuan final load," as crimper from Kansas City calls it. I use it at the end because the finals are so strong. Time after time after time. The routine works with jaded adults, fidgety kids, and wise-guys, at restaurant tables, behind a bar, and at chi-chi parties.

And as Noah Levine suggests, I am not really inclined to tip my routine to other performers.

I can see how the effect could be "improved," but I am not sure it would be made better.

With all respect to the interlocutors in this discussion...
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Postby cataquet » 12/31/01 04:51 AM

RP Wilson wrote:
> The "is it in my pocket or is it in the
> cup" approach seems to be described
> repeatedly as a problem.

Hiya, Paul! First off, I want to say that I haven't mentioned this as a criticism of your chop cup routine, or in fact, anyone's specific routine.

My chop cup routine was developed as an attempt to minimise the pocket space take up by my 3 cup and 3 (6) balls routine. In that routine I had lots of effects, but it also took up a huge amount of pocket space. So my starting block was reducing a traditional C&B routine to one cup.

I tried Don Alan's chop cup routine for a while, but I wasn't happy with it. I modified it slightly, by giving the spectator some coins, and he had to bet on where the ball was. He was always wrong, and the finale was a cup load of coins. However, I never felt comfortable performing the routine... What I didn't like was the pseudo-gambling motivation. This is fine in a 3 shell game or 3 card monte routine, where the audience has heard about the effect. But the chop cup as a con game doesn't have the same history, and the use of the pocket as the other cup, doesn't seem right. Why not do a two cup routine, and ask is it under cup number 1 or cup number 2? Or, dispense with the cups and put an object behind your back, and ask the audience to guess which hand it's in. Both of these seem to me more natural presentations for the "where is it?" game. That is why I say the "cup or pocket" aspect is a weakness, if that's how you are motivativing the routine. Steve Bargatze really uses the chop cup as a secondary prop. You are more interested in his relationship with the audience member than whether the ball is under the cup or not. If you want to use just one cup, then why not use the cup and your hand (method: sleeve). That way, you can show the ball in your hand and not under the cup, or under the cup and not in your hand... Incidentally, that was the handling that I used for the Don Alan routine. Each time the spectator lost, I took a coin and put it in my pocket. The final load was grabbed as I ditched the penultimate coin, and loaded as I revealed the ball under the cup.

I have always envisaged a C&B routine as a display of a magician's skills. When I read the Govan routine, I loved the idea and the possibilities that having two different colored balls opened up.

In brief, I am not saying that the chop cup as a pseudo-gambling effect is a weak presentation. What I am saying is that I feel more comfortable moving away from that aspect, and bringing it more in line with traditional C&B routines. For others, the pseudo-gambling presentation may work, but for me with the chop cup, it doesn't.

Bye for now

Harold
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Postby Guest » 12/31/01 10:47 AM

In my mind, one of the weaknesses of the chop cup is embodied in Don Alan's classic line: "I used to sell pencils". In other words, the prop is somewhat odd. The little ball used is also a little strange. (Folks like John Carney who use a coffee mug and a balled-up bill are way ahead in this regard).

In order to address this, I've had a manufacturer of magic apparatus make a set of wooden salt-and-pepper shakers and a matching chop cup. Moreover, a special piece has been made so that the chop cup can look exactly like the salt shaker.

After a routine using the salt shaker, the performer now changes the salt into a small white ball, and (visibly) changes the shaker into a cup. A chop cup routine follows. The manufacturer has also provided a non-standard (and more-logical-than-most) finale.

Please forgive the "market research" (sorry if this is inappropriate in this forum), but the manufacturer is suggesting that I market this effect. If anyone is interested, please drop me a line.

doug_peters@myself.com
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Postby Matthew Field » 12/31/01 02:40 PM

I'd like to add my two cents here. First, I reviewed Paul Wilson's restaurant act video and, in my opinion, the act is very strong although the video itself was poorly produced, which is not Paul's fault.

Second, "crimper"'s insulting remarks show an immature outlook and a demeanor unworthy of this Forum. Crimper, when you have made a full time career of performing, when you have published many innovative tricks and sleights, when you have been invited all over the world to perform and lecture -- only then will you have the stature to criticize a magician of Paul Wilson's standing. Who are you to call a performance "botched"? When you do this, crimper, you diminish only your own status. It is inelegant, unprofessional, and unworthy of this Forum.

I suggest, crimper, that you confine your exercise to reading what is on this Forum and posting on alt.magic until you know how to behave.

Now bring out your other personality. The clean one.


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Postby Paul Green » 12/31/01 04:47 PM

Time for me to jump into the fire.

R. Paul Wilson is a friend of mine. Before he was a friend, I admired his skill and performance ability. I could recognize the fact that he was able to entertain and astonish his audiences, whether they were lay-people or magicians. When he became my friend, I felt lucky and honored.

Paul does not have to defend himself... He is making a living as a performer FOR lay-people. Many of today's top performers have skilled "chops" with which they fool the heck out of magicians--but when it comes to lay-people they often resort to the classics of Magic. Does this devalue them? Categorically, not!!!

Matt Field has given Crimper some valuable advice----don't insult or degrade someone until you have been in the same position.

Crimper---Where is your tape for all of the rest of the community to evaluate? For that matter, who are you? You are certainly welcome to your opinion, but you are an unknown entity. R. Paul Wilson has his name out in front. I look forward to you performing.

Paul Wilson also brings out the point of the plot. Just because it is recognized as the "in my pocket or in my hand" gambit does not mean that it lacks anything.

For many magicians in the community, their evaluations are based on being fooled. It is a good thing when the magician fools the enthusiast and a bad thing when the magician uses old principles or plots. My opinion is based on my ability to entertain and astonish. I think using the Chop Cup in an entertaining way is more important than the routine being "ancient".

Accolades to Paul Wilson and the others that continue to make Magic. As for Crimper............ Let's see that tape.

Regards and Happy New Year!

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Postby Matthew Field » 12/31/01 05:24 PM

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Postby Guest » 01/01/02 04:08 AM

Mr Biro,

Having admired your work for years, it would seem that we are on the same page on this issue - BE CREATIVE by playing variations on a theme or by rearranging the music of the magic, much as Brubeck does when he and the trio play together. Magic, Inc, years ago, offered a chop cup Beer Can with a nice ring and ribbon routine, which I have never seen ANYBODY do.

Remember (this is to the rest of the crowd out there), the chop cup can also be used as a switching device for many small objects.

Play with that idea for a while and maybe we'll see some interesting developments.

Happy New Year!

Lee Darrow, C.Ht.
Hypnotist & Magician to Sandals Resorts

Originally posted by Pete Biro:
Just finished watching Dave Brubeck bio on PBS and the KEY, the most important thing noted is that after years and years and years and years of playing the "same" tune, he said it almost never is the same, it is different every time.

JAZZ

I feel much the same when I do certain routines, they feel fresh, they always have something new, even if it is minor, it keeps growing, changing and keeps working.

You say after an audience has seen the lemon for the 7th time... etc... don't do a lemon the 7th time...

The cup can become filled with dirt, and you pull out a small plant and stick it in...

Hey, maybe it's jello, rice, mud...

PLAY MAGIC JAZZ :D


:rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
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Postby Guest » 01/02/02 08:47 AM

Here are a few routines that have not been mentioned here.

Aldo Colmbini has in the past marketed a chop cup routine where he uses three different colored balls ending up
with a tri colored large load ball. This is a solidly constructed routine and plays very well under all performing
conditions.

The next two routines do not fit the 50 year requirement of this post but I feel they are worth mentioning because
they seem to have been forgotten.

Sam Berland had two different chop cup routines that he put into print.
The first used a normal glass covered with a napkin after vanishing the ball it would reappear under the glass .
This would happen several times ending with a large load ball then a second one. Next he would apply pressure to
the top of the paper covered glass and the paper would crumble the glass had vanished.

The second version was very similar to the Don Allen routine. At the end though after the final load he would
produce a shot glass from under the chop cup. Then to the surprise of everyone he would pour a drink from the
chop cup into the empty shot glass.

A bit of history here the Don Allen chop cup that he designed for Rings "N Things was a cut down bar shaker that
way it looked as though it would fit naturally in a bar or restaurant situation.

Reesman
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Postby cataquet » 01/02/02 10:32 AM

Christopher Reesman wrote
> Aldo Colmbini has in the past marketed a
> chop cup routine where he uses three
> different colored balls ending up with a
> tri colored large load ball.

The "Laser Cup" routine also appears in Colombini's "Impact" (pp. 71-75).

Bye for now

Harold
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Postby Guest » 01/02/02 10:54 AM

Although I do not use one, I remember seeing the chop cup when I was a lay person and thinking it was great.

crimper writes - "I think this trick deserves an elegant, beautiful routine. No gargantuan final loads. No spectator challange or guessing game. Something where objects appear, vanish, reappear; with no wand spins, false transfers, or groping at your backside"

I always thought of it as a strong bit of magic and I don't know what you would do to please crimper if one eliminates wand spins and false transfers. Perhaps you have worked out a solution?

Matt Field writes - "Crimper, when you have made a full time career of performing, when you have published many innovative tricks and sleights, when you have been invited all over the world to perform and lecture -- only then will you have the stature to criticize a magician of Paul Wilson's standing".

Although I think crimper should have worded his posting a bit more diplomatic, he is entitled to his opinion. No offense to Matt, but you review instructional videos and you haven't performed and lectured all over the world. Why is he not allowed to criticize if he truly feels the way he does? It is a forum and even Paul Wilson agreed that he is entitled to his opinion.
Paul handled crimper's commentary like a seasoned professional. He doesn't have to justify it, but he did.

PS - For what it is worth, Darwin Ortiz has a chop cup routine in his first set of lecture notes (he also has a coins through the table routine). Although he no longer performs the chop cup, I bet he still thinks it is a very strong and commercial effect. I would be willing to bet that most working magicians that do a variety of effects use a chop cup because of how well it plays with lay audiences.
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Postby Matthew Field » 01/02/02 11:11 AM

Mark -- no offense taken, but I am a professional reviewer, a writer who has edited more than 60 magic books. I have performed over the years at paid engagements, but certainly not all over the world. I produced Richard Kaufman's "On The Pass" video and my master's degree is in Television Production and Direction from NYU School of the Arts, so I consider myself competent to review videos.

I guess what I was driving at was the idea of respect. Yes, everyone is entitled to his opinion, but do we have to have it exposed here, expressed in an offensive way (the word used was "botched")? I try very hard to temper my reviews with suggestions and a balanced viewpoint. This is not the first such posting from "crimper" and I guess it was the straw that broke the camel's back.

Boards such as GeMiNi, The Second Deal and the Electronic Grymoire (not exactly a board) have lost prestigious members who didn't want to put up with this kind of degradation from loudmouths.

I'd hate to see that happen here.

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Postby Jerry Harrell » 01/02/02 11:17 AM

What a facinating thread! This is why The Genii Forum is so much fun to read: insights, strong opinions, good advice, its got it all. I owned a Chop Cup for twenty years and never did much with it, then about a year ago, I bought one of Norm Neilsen's Chop Tea Cups. That prop got my creative juices flowing; I worked out a routine and justification I was happy with and now I use it just about every time I perform.
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Postby Guest » 01/02/02 11:41 AM

Matthew Field writes - "..so I consider myself competent to review videos."

I consider you to be a competent reviewer as well. (I must admit, I am slightly envious because it seems to be a labor of love).

I agree with the issue of respect. I didn't realize crimper was the one that made the commentary about Eugene Burger's nails in the other thread and it does sound like that maybe he is trying to stir the pot. Unfortunately forums are always going to be the victims of "trolls". Sometimes it is at the expense of pros. (I have heard some stories about some of the name calling matches on some of the forums listed). Regardless, the forum seems to be fairly respectful, even when not everyone agrees.

Anyway, the chop cup is a great piece of magic apparatus. If the current crop of routines are not to crimpers expectations, perhaps he has a routine in the works??????
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Postby Brad Jeffers » 01/04/02 01:09 PM

Crimper, If you are aware of all the shortcomings of various people's different routines, and you know what should be left out and what should be included, in order to enhance the effect, why don't you just put together your own routine? Why let others do your thinking for you? Be creative, instead of critical. In your original post you say "The best we seem to have come up with is Don Alan's routine..." "We" did not come up with the Don Alan routine (I know I had nothing to do with it!) Don Alan came up with the Don Alan routine. I suspect that you are no Don Alan, but I feel sure that you should be able to come up with a routine of your own ... one that will at least please yourself, if no one else.
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Postby Curtis Kam » 01/06/02 09:06 PM

I have a problem with the Chop Cup Effect that is perhaps just a personal hangup, but it might be of interest to anyone who's still following this thread (and if you have, congratulations..it's been a rough ride!)

I do not have a chop cup routine. I have owned chop cups, I have made them, and I have performed quite a few routines by other folks.

Every now and then I start to put a routine together, but I find it hard to ignore the following "rules" which seem to be valid:

1. It's all about the final loads. Nobody remembers anything else.

2. The sooner you get the final loads, the better.

Then I consider all the routines I have seen, and I run right into Bob Read's $100 Glass Thru Table, and stop right there.

I never get any further. Mr. Read's routine has it all. For those of you who are not familiar with it, I'll oversimplify:

Performer wraps glass in newspaper, makes a small ball out of a part of the paper, places ball in pocket, it reappears under the covered glass. The ball of newsprint becomes a dollar bill. The bill is pocketed, but a potato appears under the glass. The covered "glass" is smashed, the paper crushed, and the glass reproduced from under the table.

This is all done standing, no lapping. It's brilliant, and not a moment wasted.

I guess the problem is, why bother with anything else? And more germane to the original inquiry, why bother with the magnet at all?
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/06/02 10:16 PM

Why bother with anything else?

Why not?

I remember more years ago than I prefer. Having a small magnet wrapped in paper. I'd put it between a hotel drinking glass and the paper cover they use to "sanitize" them.

A dollar bill with a paper clip was the ball, the final load (whatever was available)and of course the vanish of the glass and reproduction.

Fifty years ago I saw Steve Shepherd do the best glass through table I've ever seen.

However, there are more variants possible, just start thinking and fitting what's you and your surroundings. :cool:
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Postby cataquet » 01/07/02 02:24 AM

Hi, Curtis! The Bob Read routine sounds great. Another "get to the big loads ASAP" routine is Barry Nelson's Flash Cups in John Mendoza's "Book of John", which uses 3 cups.

Bye for now

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Postby Bob Farmer » 01/08/02 05:41 PM

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
I suggest, crimper, that you confine your exercise to reading what is on this Forum and posting on alt.magic until you know how to behave. Matthew Field


At the end of my chop cup routine, rather than the final load, I take the cup and shove it up Crimper's nose until his eyes pop. This always goes over big with everyone who's read any of his stuff.

Only in a democracy is Crimper entitled to his opinion -- but magic isn't a democracy magic is a meritocracy, so he's out of luck and should just shut the @#%$# up.
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/08/02 07:00 PM

Farmer... you are too kewl...hehehe... you must use a big cup? :D :D :D
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Postby Cugel » 01/11/02 06:56 PM

Great topic. I use the chop cup professionally in banquet work and can attest from long experience that it is a crowd pleaser. Thought I'd weigh in with my thoughts on the presentation, including some comments on risque patter...

The problem with the standard presentation (which I use) is a subtle one which can easily be corrected. The problem lies in the fact that magicians turn it into a riddle, a challenge effect in which the audience always loses. As an example: I recently saw Jim Swain performing it on Fox TV and he made the classic error of constantly asking the assistant - so now where's the ball? At one point the assistant says, "This is making me feel really stupid", highlighting the problem with the standard approach.

The way to take the sting off (without resorting to a story about when you were a kid at the county fair, etc) is to demonstrate the concept (challenge aspect) without asking anybody to actually "solve" it. (I can't recall whether Paul Wilson does this as I haven't watched his tape in awhile - if he uses the same non-challenge approach discussed below, then I apologise for the redundancy.)

In my presentation I talk about the cups and balls and equate them with the old shell and pea - a con. Here's my handling with the patter (I haven't provided the detail on the handling, but if you do the effect it shouldn't be a problem to follow along.):

"I'd now like to show you one of the classics of magic, the cups and balls. There are images of this effect being performed on the tombs of Beni Hassan in Egypt, so it's thousands of years old. It uses three steel cups and three little balls. Unfortunately I've lost two of the cups and two of the balls, but I find that this version is easier to follow for people who've been drinking."

I glance meaningfully at a spectator who I think will enjoy this gag and the attention without taking offense.

"It's really an ancient con game. You have to follow the ball - I place the ball in the cup, shake it, take it out and put it in the pocket. People have to guess whether it's in the pocket or under the cup. But you should ALWAYS bet on the cup." (Reveal ball under cup.)

I repeat this sequence with similar patter "Always bet on the cup!"

"Would you hold out your hand please. Palm up and grip the cup. Now the ball is in the hand but (I perform a fake transfer and strike the cup) you should always bet on the cup!"

I lift the cup to reveal the ball. I devised this 'in the hand' idea years ago and it gets a HUGE reaction. It seemed obvious but nobody else seems to do it. Darwin Ortiz later advised me that George Schindler includes it in his act and he had told Darwin that he got it from Hugard's Magic Monthly. I'd love to know who created it.

At this point the spectator will always keep her hand up and stare at it: "It's okay, you can put your hand down now. I only ever do it once but they NEVER forget it."

I then repeat a pocket-cup sequence, "for those who haven't grasped the concept" a line that gets a laugh for some reason. From there I move on to the loads - two huge rubber balls from the right coat pocket. The handling is standard: really leave the ungaffed ball in the pocket, then do the first load as you reveal the mag ball, then the second as you reveal the first load:

"By now you've figured out that I have two balls."

I pause and let them make the connection - I act innocent here because to do otherwise is sleazy - even though I WANT them to make that connection. Once they make the leap and start to laugh I continue.

"Of course, one's bigger than the other but my doctor tells me that's normal. This is the small one..." (reveal mag ball, load first large ball) which goes in my pocket, the BIG one is under the cup."

I lift to show the rubber ball and load the second ball.

"Actually I'm just kidding, they're BOTH enormous!" I reveal the second ball to end.

COMMENTS ON THE PATTER

The patter I use is risque (I would say it is a presentation designed for adults) but never offends because the structure is designed to allow the audience to make the mental connections BEFORE the performer.

When they start to laugh at risque patter but believe you to be innocent of the implications, they in effect give you permission to crank up the level because THEY have established the appropriate tone. If you think this is over-analysis, well: maybe. The fact is I've used this patter in restaurants, corporate table-hopping, formal table shows and at trade shows and it's always a hit with the clients.

The thing to note is that I never put anybody on the spot and make them look like an idiot for not knowing the position of the ball.

So do the cliched patter, I do, just skip the "where is it now?" questions and you'll make it far more enjoybale for everyone.

Hope this helps somebody, just remember to devise your own gags - the ones above work for me.

Cheers
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Postby Guest » 01/11/02 07:55 PM

Very clever, Mr. W. from Oz. An elegant and cagy solution to the problematic concerns of my original post. I shall further explore your nuanced suggestions in front of the tri-partrite mirror which sits on my table underneath the bridge. As soon as I relenquish these acrylic troll-claws from my fingertips. Best Regards, . . .C.

BTW, to the poster who referenced Aldo Colombini's Laser Cup chop routine; I own this version and agree that it is a nice variant to the traditional approach.
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Postby El Mystico » 01/12/02 08:40 AM

Are there any particular chop cups people would recommend? I had one years ago, but it looked cheap and nasty. It got lost in a move, but this thread is raising my interest in the thing again....
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Postby Pete Biro » 01/12/02 09:38 AM

What kind of chop cup? Well, check on ebay, you can see them with a photo. You might consider a cups and balls COMBO set. This way you get a chop cup and the cups and balls all in one set.
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Postby Bob Farmer » 01/12/02 10:22 AM

Here's another alternative to the Chop Cup: Kirk Kirkham put out a great gimmicked dice cup called "Kirk's Kup." It doesn't use magnets, it uses black art. It's a great prop and the routine is excellent. Basically, three dice, red white and green, are tossed out of the cup. Two are dropped back in and the third placed in the pocket -- but there are still three in the cup (this is done three times, once for each color -- then all the dice vanish and replaced by a giant die.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 01/12/02 11:11 AM

Originally posted by Andrew Wimhurst:
I recently saw Jim Swain performing it on Fox TV . . .


When / where was Jim Swain on Fox TV? what
show?
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