The Trick I Hate Most is....

Discuss your favorite platform magic and illusions.

Postby Pete Biro » 12/19/02 01:54 PM

Is anyone fooled by the Square Circl :eek: :eek: e. ARgh...
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Postby Jim Riser » 12/19/02 03:29 PM

Pete;
There is a current thread on building a deceptive square circle on the Magic Cafe Forum. I just skip over it. I think the apparatus can built so that it can fool people; but I classify it as a "who cares" effect. This is my measuring tool for any effect. If I feel the audience will be unmoved by it, I avoid it. I seriously doubt if merely producing colored silks from that thing is highly entertaining nor memorable. People (so called magicians) appear to like the apparatus. This is most likely because they feel it is "self working". With Chinese characters, a dragon, or even a rabbit in hat motif (complete with overspray), it will seem to be a common ordinary unprepared square circle to the long suffering audiences. This brings us back to whether magic is art :rolleyes:
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P.S. Dealers seem to like it - they all stock the effect. I assume somebody buys it.
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Postby Guest » 12/19/02 05:00 PM

To Jim and Pete,

I respect both of you guys a lot. But magic is a performing art and props, in and of themselves, are never deceptive or entertaining. It takes a great performer to breath life into them. Most apparatus magic is pretty "dumb" when you know how it works, but when a showman knows how to use the props, the PERFORMANCE can both deceive and entertain.

I wonder if either of you ever saw the Amazing Conklin family present the Square Circle? I suspect that very few magicians that saw it only one time had any clue as to where the Huge Rabbit came from. They recognized a possibility with the apparatus that most magicians didn't, and they borrowed a page from Blackstone Senior's play book, and FOOLED most everyone with the Square Circle.

Jack Gwynne knew how to present apparatus magic, as did Neil Foster. (Even though he did marvelous sleight of hand.)

That said, 99% of the performances you see with the Square Circle are uninspired, and not deceptive. But there's nothing inherently wrong with the principle of black art if approached with imagination.

Now... has anyone EVER seen a decent presentation of Stratospheres?

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Postby GAMOLO » 12/19/02 05:30 PM

Yo, Dennis!
Actually, I have even entertained adults with Stratospheres...albeit with modified patter. Believe it or not, the moving ball still fools the hell out of them! Just like the mismade skelton still fools people. Bag the ball "vanish" however....it is anticlimaxic and putting a ball into a "larger" box simply suggests a "magic box." However, placing something ALIVE....like all the dove vanish "boxes"....changes the dynamic for audiences and they are fooled. I still "KILL" with the Abbott's newspaper vanish.
Re: SQUARED CIRCLES: Very, very dull and thats the kind of stuff that killed vaudville and gave magic a bad name.
As a collector, I value my old Davenport's Wunder Villa because it follows with a Phantom Tube additional production and then climax's with a wonderful (though, today, of course, a totally politically incorrect) Boogey Monster and all....but admitedly, would never simply employ a Sqare Circle today in a show.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 12/19/02 10:25 PM

Here's the worst trick: "Popsy Pegs," some British piece of crap. It's a wooden frame with four different colored clothespins stuck on the top card. There is a separate stand that holds four Jumbo cards, each blank exceot for a big colored spot in the middle of the front. While your back is turned, a spectator choses a color, picks up the card and shows it around, then replaces it in the stand. You can, when you turn around, tell which card has been chosen. You pick up the wooden stand and concentrate, and the clothespin which corresponds to the color of the chosen card jumps off the frame. What an idiotic piece of junk!
And I BOUGHT ONE when I was a kid--what a yutz!
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/19/02 11:19 PM

The other trick... Super Botania. (See coming Ken Brooke item in History/Anecdotes thread).
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/19/02 11:34 PM

Gary Darwin has a totally different way to make an "open" square circle (black art) that is very deceptive. :eek:
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Postby Jeff Haas » 12/20/02 12:58 AM

Richard, there's nothing like a well-written catalog description, eh?

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Postby Matthew Field » 12/20/02 09:33 AM

The worst?

The Bra Trick. (Sorry, Peet.)

Here's the Man of Mystery. He brings up a lady. Hey -- there's her underwear! She's got boobs! She's a lady! Har har har.

What a way to impress an audience with "magic." You might as well produce plastic vomit or doggy doo.

I know audiences laugh. They also watch reality show crap on TV, but that doesn't make it entertainment either -- just spectacle.

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Postby Doug Brewer » 12/20/02 10:26 AM

I can't believe I'm freaking admitting this, but I have used the bra trick, but on a man. This is a "play it by ear" trick. If the audience is really raucus and obnoxious, this trick (done on a man) practically brings the house down. Not really "magic" but more of a gag to get the crowd even roudier. I would NOT, ever, do this on a woman. Not even funny.

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Postby Jim Riser » 12/20/02 12:50 PM

Denny and Gale;
Square Circle: In the mid 1960's I designed, made, and published (in Linking Ring) a fishbowl production based on the square circle idea; but without the square. Black art. It worked great. The square circle idea is good; but what is being sold in shops and how they are being used is rather poor.

Stratospheres: The best use for this effect I ever saw was as a Halloween item. Instead of the balls, the plastic pumpkins sold at Halloween are used. It works well with the little plastic skulls also. These pumpkins and skulls are virtually the same size as the balls and fit in well size wise.
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Postby Guest » 12/20/02 01:18 PM

Jim, we should compare notes on Square Circles. I built and used one for big stage shows in the late sixties. Quite different from the Standard design in a couple of ways. And the final object produced was a motorized mirror ball. We hit the mirror ball with powerful spot lights and blacked out everything else.

One of my favorite memories is of Jack Gwynne and family producing the stack of fishbowls. GREAT and fooled me badly the first time I saw it. As I said earlier, Gwynne really knew how to present apparatus magic so that it was deceptive.

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Postby Carl Mercurio » 12/20/02 03:14 PM

I have to agree with you Matt on the bra trick.
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Postby Guest » 12/20/02 03:55 PM

What if you produce the silks for the Bra Trick out of a Square Circle? :p
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/20/02 04:02 PM

Then you'd have a square bra? :D
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Postby Guest » 12/20/02 04:14 PM

The trick I hate the most is the damn svengali deck. The damn thing should be made illegal.Ugh!
I am shuddering at the very thought of the bloody things.
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/20/02 04:35 PM

Svengali Deck isn't a trick, it is a prop. I guess you have yet to see my rising card from envelope (uses a S. Deck). McComb now uses it! :p
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Postby Guest » 12/20/02 04:40 PM

The Square Circle is not a trick, Pete, its a prop. You can produce things, vanish things, transform an object, and with two you can transpose something from one side of the stage to the other.

Twisting the Aces is a trick.

Stratospheres and the 20th Century Bra effect are... abortions.
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Postby Guest » 12/20/02 04:50 PM

Mr Biro purchased my routine with the svengali deck about 25 years ago. Or he purchased something from me, anyway. Very silly of him.

He is technically correct I suppose. The svengali deck is a prop in the same way a deck of cards is a prop. However, let us not be pedantic about it. I am referring to the trick where the deck changes to an identical card and back again.

I hate the bloody thing.
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Postby Danny Archer » 12/20/02 05:25 PM

> Now... has anyone EVER seen a decent presentation of Stratospheres?

Yes I have Dennis ... Giovanni did a great job with it .. he changed the balls to fruit and made it both magical and entertaining .. it's in his lecture notes called I think 7 Tasty Routines ...
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Postby Nicholas Carifo » 12/21/02 03:56 AM

Tricks and Props are not good nor bad. Magic is not, in and of itself, art.

Performers are good or bad. And it is up to each audience member to decide for themself whether or not what they watched was art, assuming they would even care to label it.

Just do your best guys, and use what you have inside you as performers. If you can take a square circle, the bra trick, and a super botania and develop an enormously entertaining and artistic show for yo uand your audience... go for it.

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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 12/21/02 07:53 AM

PomPom stick.
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Postby Pete Biro » 12/21/02 09:27 AM

PomPom Stick... yes... that is why I created the Plumber's Stick... (blatant plug)!!! :D
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 12/21/02 09:52 AM

You'er right Pete, it's a great idea. :)
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Postby Guest » 12/22/02 04:54 AM

Every trick -- not "some", not "many", not "most", but EVERY trick -- was done well by somebody at some time.
Take the much-maligned Square Circle.
Sure, it's going to bomb if all you do is show it (apparently) empty and pull out a bunch of crap.
But let's use a little imagination.
In my Showtime column in the Linking Ring magazine of February, 2002, I use the SC in a routine based on a Houdini story line and loaded with horrible puns, bad gags, and the like.
Further back, in my column of June, 1996, I use the SC as an apparently incidental prop in a card discovery (using big silks).
So, all it takes to turn a turkey around is a little original thought.
Unfortunately, original thought is in short supply these days.
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Postby Nicholas Carifo » 12/22/02 05:24 AM

I agree Peter. In fact, along the lines of the Square Circle, Circus Illusionist Travis Green used to perform a musical pantomime character routine named "Mysto the Magician" some 20 years ago.

Prob still performing it today. It was a hilarious 7 min routine based around a stage sized Square Circle. The productions were very secondary to Travis' character performance of the bumbling magician/clownish character. His excellent physical comedy was added to the props and additional magic effects that kept "appearing" out of the square circle without his knowing how.

I hope some of you had the chance to see him perform this routine. The only magicians convention I remember him doing this at was the 1988 Columbus MagiFest Headliner Show, but having had the chance to perform with and learn from Travis while I was a budding teenage magician, I quickly became aware how important the "performance" is compared to the trick or prop.

To a quote from the acting world: "There are no bad parts... only bad actors" hence...
"there are no bad magic tricks... only bad magicians"

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Postby Guest » 12/22/02 09:08 AM

:mad:
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Postby Guest » 12/22/02 09:12 AM

Yeah, Iknow people have done some funny routines with this thing but this really looks like some prop from a Fellini movie! The worst are the small wooden ones or chrome things that look like something requring batteries that was purchased in a plain brown wrapper.

Byond the appearance is the crappy patter you usually hear. To wit ..."this is a tissel, this is a tassel..."ad nauseum.

Well there you have it. The magical equvalent of "Lost In Space". A television show that had it all. Bad acting bad writing bad props.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 12/22/02 02:43 PM

Originally posted by Pete Mills:
The magical equvalent of "Lost In Space".
Most magicians would be lucky to get close to that level of success. There are a few very funny moments in the series and a few wild ideas for aliens and spaceships. My favorite was the gang dressed in black wearing bowler hats and the (purple?) seqinnned cloth over their faces. That and the spaceship that looked like a goldfish bowl ornament. Inspiring actually.

Also, they had a talented cast, a great director and producer and unfortunalty some very poor direction in the writing. My question would be: what have YOU learned from that show?
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Postby Chance Wolf » 12/23/02 12:48 PM

hmmm...I would have to say ANY trick poorly routined, lack lusterly delivered and most of all minimally rehearsed. As a few have said previously, it may not the trick that stinks...it may be you.(sorry if that sounds harsh) I saw Northwest magician Rick Anderson do 3 minutes with an ADAM'S BALL VASE that had everyone bursting at the seams with amazement and laughter! Man. is that a test or what?
Regarding the Square Circle...I just created an effect which is essentially a Square Circle on Steroids. The ABC Gumball Re-Combobulator. I deliberatley chose to take a WORN OUT effect and give it a REASON to even exist. This should tip us as magicians that we need to dig deeper into what we are presenting and ask ourselves WHY and IF it even makes any sense to be doing it in the first place. Pure amazement is cool but as we know, does not always Entertain. If you have an interest in seeing this effect, check out my site. Sorry for the plug but I only want to show what can be achieved when you give an idea some real thought. I have 4 other new effects coming very soon which are just as Fun & Crazy for you to enjoy!
Good luck and dig up that old Ball Vase and take the Anderson Challenge!
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Postby Guest » 12/23/02 01:00 PM

How well I remember the late Karrell Fox doing a GREAT routine with the little plastic ball and vase. He also had a hilarious routine with the little red "Royal" Imp Bottles.

Also, I saw Billy McComb get a big laugh with a little match puzzle on a BIG stage show.

It's the Entertainer... not the props.

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Postby Guest » 12/23/02 02:54 PM

It is, indeed, the performer and not the props that counts.

The late Gene Poinc could take the most mundane piece of crap out of a kid's magic kit and weave a superb plot around it, so that you didn't know or care about the equipment. (Check out his still up-and-running website on The Learned Pig.)

Far too many wannabe magicians think that the right prop will make them another Henning or Burton.

(Well, something has to keep magic dealers in business!)

I've used this analogy many times before but:

Anyone who thinks the magic is in the props would take a piano apart to find the music.

cheers,
Peter Marucci
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Postby Guest » 01/06/03 07:23 PM

Six Card Repeat. I hate the patter, because it's so circuitous, with no premise.

EXCEPT the Senator Crandall version, which Terry Lunceford has revived.
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