Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

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erdnasephile
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Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby erdnasephile » July 28th, 2015, 5:12 pm

Don Alan was a famous proponent of the big bang theory of chop cup loading:




I have studied the Ron Bauer manuscript where this loading theory is discussed and have watched Don Alan's explanation on his Steven's video. Briefly, based on an Ed Marlo observation, Mr. Alan wanted to: 1) give the illusion of setting the chop cup down instead of directly loading the cup to avoid drawing attention to the cup and 2) make sure that the audience didn't look at themselves after the first load and then directly at the loading action. He wanted people to clearly perceive him setting down the cup. (Mr. Bauer writes that Mr. Alan really hit the cup hard when loading, often denting the cup and harming the tabletop.)

My question is: I have watched many people load chop cups using this technique and in every case, I have looked at where the banging noise was coming from which made me stare right where the second load was taking place. It was almost too loud for me not to think something untoward was going on.

This is in marked contrast to Tommy Wonder's cup loading sequence that eschews the bang, which seems a lot more natural. Dai Vernon also loaded silently (Of course, this is an apples and oranges comparison since there are more props and balls to focus on in these seminal routines). I've also watched JC Wagner load his final load in his bowl routine in person and it was perfectly silent, but no less effective.

Yet, I can't discount the thousands of performances Mr. Alan went through to develop this technique, nor the pros I respect who use it; therefore, I feel I must be missing something.

Just curious: have many of you use this type of "big bang" loading technique. Has it proved effective for you, and are there tips you could pass along that make it work for you? I've considered breaking up the loading technique into "half moves" ala Roger Klause, but I wonder if that would just kill the climax of the routine.
Last edited by erdnasephile on July 29th, 2015, 9:21 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Jonathan Townsend » July 28th, 2015, 5:52 pm

It's no small challenge to tamper with what one has working.
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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Brad Henderson » July 28th, 2015, 9:36 pm

I perform this usually standing and use the bang. I do not however load into the cup as it continues past the table. Nor do I do that when sitting.

to me the bang is a moment of finality. And I use this type of bang throughout the routine. That and hits on the table with my wand. I am trying to create an audible punctuation mark.

the load occurs after the punctuation mark on, as they would say, an off beat.

I have performed the chop cup literally thousands of times. if you have my theory into practice book, the chapter on energy will also give insight into the body mechanics which inform the load process. Should anyone be interested.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby erdnasephile » July 29th, 2015, 6:57 am

That's very helpful--I assume the rest of the close-up set also has audible punctuation marks as well to establish the pattern? That makes a lot more sense than just isolated hits.

In studying Tommy Wonder, although he avoided the audible in his loading, he incorporated his habit/manner of leaning over/on the table into the mechanics of his loading. He also relaxes tension during the loads and covers them with his manner and posture. (Is that part of what you mean by body mechanics, Brad?)

I've seen others do this sort of thing as well, but in some cases, it just looks furtive and unnatural. That may not be fair though--if the specific gesture that's supposed to cover the load is repeated throughout the entire show, perhaps it would appear as part of that performers normal gestures. The speeding up of pace during some loading processes is also seems like a big tell.

(PS: I sent you an email Re: your book, Brad.)

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby MagicbyAlfred » August 28th, 2015, 12:58 pm

Erdnasephile, I must admit that I have never been a fan of the big bang theory, either in the chop cup routine or formation of the Universe. I agree that, if anything, it draws undue attention to the final loading moments, and is a classic example of the "don't run if they're not chasing you" school of thought. In over 20 years of double or triple final loads in the chop cup, I have been caught maybe two or three times that I know of. If the timing is done properly, they should neither suspect nor detect. BTW, what I am doing currently for final loads, and gets the best reaction to date is a lime, an orange, and a lemon.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Dan LeFay » September 21st, 2015, 11:03 am

This was a very interesting read. I consider myself to be more of an intuitive performer and I use what "feels" right to me. I always did the silent loading when performing the chop-cup. I did it without too much thought, but I admit that seeing Tommy Wonder a lot must have influenced me. After reading this thread I decided to put the thing to the test. Brad's mentioning of the punctuation resonated. I had to perform for a week at the World Expo in Milano last week. I was hired both as a host at the evening-program and to do some close-up magic at the Dutch pavillion around noon. During the close-up sessions I found myself surrounded by sometimes 15/20 people. I had two final loads, a lemon and a tomato. My chop cup is leather so I could hold out one final load and show the cup empty by holding it inverted. After some byplay I would dislodge the first final load and then do the Big Bang while loading the second final load.
I have to admit that it gave me even greater confidence. A couple of security guards were watching me repeatedly during the week, and at the end they admitted that they had a good idea how, for instance the 3 shell game worked, but they complemented me on being completely amazed where those fruits came from. This week has learned me that the Big Bang loading applies very well to a chop cup routine, though not with formal cups and balls, which I performed as a host at night. Of course C&B has more visible props and therefor more 'shade" to hide final loads.
Anyway, great read and worth the experimenting. Thank you all!

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby erdnasephile » September 21st, 2015, 11:44 am

Hi, Dan:

Thanks so much for the real world report.

Questions: how hard did you set the chop cup down between loads? Did you relax your body language as well when it got set down? What changes in timing did you make as you experimented with the bang? Did you ever get busted on the final load? If so, what changes did you make to prevent that from happening again?

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby performer » September 21st, 2015, 12:06 pm

I don't do the chop cup so I am not really able to comment but as is my wont I will anyway. I would imagine the "bang" or no "bang" depends on whether or not you are a "bang" or "no bang" type of personality. If it out of character for you to indulge in this kind of showmanship then perhaps you shouldn't do it. If however, you are a little more bombastic, even in a quiet way then go for it.

I can see it being a bit unnatural for Tommy Wonder or dare I say Alfred to be banging things about but perfectly natural for Don Alan to be doing it.

Just to be contrary I would find it perfectly natural to bang the cup but yet I have a feeling that I probably wouldn't do it anyway!

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Dan LeFay » September 21st, 2015, 6:04 pm

erdnasephile wrote:Hi, Dan:

Thanks so much for the real world report.

Questions: how hard did you set the chop cup down between loads? Did you relax your body language as well when it got set down? What changes in timing did you make as you experimented with the bang? Did you ever get busted on the final load? If so, what changes did you make to prevent that from happening again?



I banged it pretty hard. My chop-cup is leather so it does not make a lot of sound. Hard to put the timing down in words though. Getting busted is a difficult issue. Even if spectators see a flash, they are sometimes too polite to point it out.
If I perform surrounded, my angles are usually better. At the Expo I was never openly busted. When doing cups and balls on stage (with nobody behind me or next to me) my angles are also covered.
I have the impression that the banging in between final loads gave me better results. When I did no banging, it was not unusual that I got busted during a 3 hour strolling performance. Maybe 2 or 3 times. The fact though that nobody spoke out openly, but came to me after the performance (with that knowing twinkle in their eyes) gives me the confidence that I am perceived as a "sympathetic performer".
And...most of the time, those who caught me were kids, who deliberately did not let themself be involved in my performance. ;-)
So to conclude, yes I will continue to do the banging for my chop-cup routine.
(Tommy may probably frown from above. But he never had much appreciation for the chop-cup anyways... ;-) )

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby erdnasephile » September 21st, 2015, 7:27 pm

Dan: Did Tommy ever tell you why he didn't like the Chop Cup? (He did publish some work on the chop cup in Books of Wonder, if memory serves; however, he didn't mention why he didn't like the chop cup.)

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Leonard Hevia » September 22nd, 2015, 12:49 am

erdnasephile wrote:Dan: Did Tommy ever tell you why he didn't like the Chop Cup? (He did publish some work on the chop cup in Books of Wonder, if memory serves; however, he didn't mention why he didn't like the chop cup.)


Tommy must have felt that the effect of the Chop Cup was a bit too redundant for his tastes. He points out the difficulty in a deceptive final load maneuver from the pocket when the small ball travels repeatedly from the cup to the pocket. Audience interest begins to wane after the third or fourth time and their attention could turn to the cup moving to the final loading hand. Tommy's solution to this potential problem was to have the final load on the table, ready to go.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby erdnasephile » September 22nd, 2015, 8:44 am

That's a very good point. I think David Roth tries to address this inherent weakness with a flurry-like sequence in the middle of his chop cup routine. The repetitiveness is another reason why I wish to avoid using the "the game" or "the observation test" type theme. In addition, I think many chop cup and cups and balls routines I've seen go on way too long.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 22nd, 2015, 9:29 am

erdnasephile wrote:... I think David Roth tries to address this inherent weakness with a flurry-like sequence in the middle of his chop cup routine...


Have you seen Roth's chop cup routine? It's in his first lecture.
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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby performer » September 22nd, 2015, 9:53 am

Here is Paul Daniels doing the trick. Not many could do it from the stage I imagine. Very entertaining.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Io-Bby3iWVs

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby erdnasephile » September 22nd, 2015, 10:30 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:
erdnasephile wrote:... I think David Roth tries to address this inherent weakness with a flurry-like sequence in the middle of his chop cup routine...


Have you seen Roth's chop cup routine? It's in his first lecture.


I haven't seen his lecture notes, but I think this is the same routine, right? The middle part of the routine is what reminded me of the flurry.



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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Tom Gilbert » September 22nd, 2015, 10:51 am

I was lucky enough to see Don Alan do his whole close up act live. His act was on the loud, very animated side of things. When he produced the large nut, he picked it up and dropped it on the table. It was so heavy that the whole table shook and a couple of wine glassed tipped and one broke. Now down to the Chop Cup. He was engaging different people and moved right along. The first time he hit the cup, one woman jumped and yelled a little. What I'm trying to get at is that banging the cup worked into his persona and act. Not thinking it's a generic move that anyone can use. By the time he was done with the nut, the ball bearing, and the Chop Cup, it's a wonder there was anything left to that table.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 22nd, 2015, 11:41 am

Tom Gilbert wrote:... His act was on the loud, very animated side of things. ... Not thinking it's a generic move that anyone can use...


Consistency and congruence. The larger problem is avoiding more/faster/louder when you do find something that seems to work (most of the time - for now)
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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Dan LeFay » September 22nd, 2015, 1:45 pm

erdnasephile wrote:Dan: Did Tommy ever tell you why he didn't like the Chop Cup? (He did publish some work on the chop cup in Books of Wonder, if memory serves; however, he didn't mention why he didn't like the chop cup.)


If I remember correctly he once told me that he did not like the aestethics of just one cup and one ball. Besides that he also mentioned that the premise was just too simple for his taste. His dislike had nothing to do with the mechanics of the magnet, but more with the single cup idea. It was because of this discussion, that at that time I switched from a chop cup routine to a two cup routine and a two bowl routine (Jeu des Tomates from Rezvani, taught to me by Richard Ross). That was around 2002.
At this moment I've been doing a one cup and 3 ball routine for about 6 or 7 years.
Only after reading this thread I decided to test the Big Bang theory during my week at the World Expo. It has been quite some time since I've done a single cup and ball routine. But it had been a fun and educational reunion! :-)

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Leonard Hevia » September 23rd, 2015, 11:26 pm

Thank you for that informative post Dan! I suppose we now know why Tommy didn't perform the chop cup. My guess was based on what he wrote in The Books of Wonder. The chop cup can be a bit too simplistic for some. I like this effect very much and can't fathom performing it without the Charlie Miller sequence that Roth did so well.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 24th, 2015, 12:02 am

I can say, without reservation, that the chop cup is one of, if not the strongest routines I do (along with ambitious card ending with the card on the ceiling). This is not my opinion, but that of laymen at shows and regulars at the bar, who come back week after week after week and ask me to do the trick with the lemon, lime and orange for their friends and/or family. I cannot imagine not doing this routine. As i mentioned in an earlier post, I do not do the big bang. If the timing is correct on the final loads, it is absolutely unnecessary, and IMHO, is an unnatural move that jars the spectators.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby performer » September 24th, 2015, 6:47 am

Unnatural for YOU, Alfred! It may not be unnatural for someone else with a different personality. I think I addressed that in one of my posts. I think I even mentioned you as an example!

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby MagicbyAlfred » September 24th, 2015, 9:06 am

Yes Mark, I did read that post, as I read all of them. And although I agree with many things you say, and respect your opinion, I must respectfully disagree this time. When I said "unnatural," I meant from the point of view of those watching the routine, So, if someone has a bold brazen personality, and performs loudly and brashly (which may be "natural" for that individual), that's the way it is, but it does not change the fact that it looks unnatural, and yes, probably outright suspicious to the observer, for the magician to slam a cup on the table. It is disconcerting and rattling, and there is no need to do it is my point. I said this was my opinion, and it remains so.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby performer » September 24th, 2015, 9:59 am

Well, Don Alan managed quite well with it! But surely if you are a banging down on the table kind of personality it might fit? Mind you, I don't like banging down on the table personas anyway! Oddly enough I don't think Don Alan had a particular banging down on the table personality in the first place!

I suppose I had better learn the bloody trick before I pontificate on the matter. To be frank I can't see myself banging the cup down on the table anyway!

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Michael Westen » September 29th, 2015, 4:17 pm

The first time I saw Don Alan perform the chop cup I went out and got one myself. I followed along with the tape and did it exactly like Don did. When I first saw that "banging" I thought wow that is fantastic you bang the cup just before you load it. Its these little touches people remember for a very long time.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby performer » December 18th, 2015, 10:42 pm

Indeed. I imagine the banging would be good misdirection.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 18th, 2015, 11:28 pm

I realize this is a matter of opinion, and believe me, nothing against the great Don Alan, but I still don't see the advantage of the banging. In fact, I see only potential disadvantage. Misdirection implies diverting attention away from where the dirty work is occurring, not to it. Couple that with the fact that banging a cup (or most anything) down hard on a table is not natural, and I think would arouse suspicion. Even if they don't see the load, "Erdnase" astutely observed, "They should not even suspect let alone detect." I find that, in having performed both the chop cup and the cups and balls professionally for over two decades, and virtually never being caught (at least that I know of), there is more than ample misdirection in lifting up the cup to show the little ball has returned, and as the cup comes backward, it is a piece of cake to casually load a big ball or piece of fruit. If the timing is right, and it is done smoothly, they will never see any of the final loads. Again, just my opinion and own experience.

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby MagicbyAlfred » December 19th, 2015, 11:51 am

So, at the risk of overstating my point, I want to add one more thing. Once the revelation of the first big final load occurs (e.g. big ball or lemon or whatever), there is so much misdirection that you could then practically load a watermelon. And, if you do a third final load for the chop cup (which I have started doing recently)) it's super easy to do, because at this point they are reacting so strongly to seeing yet another seemingly impossible production. Each time the cup is lifted, their eyes are unavoidably fixated on the surprise that comes into view. To some extent, it's kind of like the timing I have found in doing the top change. Immediately after each change, there is a window of opportunity/misdirection for the next one. (*although I have found it Inadvisable, through bitter experience, to attempt more than two top changes in a row)

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Re: Big Bang Loading Theory for Chop Cup

Postby Chas Nigh » December 20th, 2015, 3:06 am

Then do a bottop change.


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