Pocket magic

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.
P.T.Widdle
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Pocket magic

Postby P.T.Widdle » March 17th, 2016, 9:45 am

I love impromptu pocket magic, but I don't understand some people's insistence (http://www.thejerx.com/blog/2016/3/14/project-slay-them) that it should be done only with everyday objects.

I'm betting Japanese magicians don't have this same hangup, considering the success of Tenyo magic tricks in their country. Do laymen over there scoff at the idea of someone showing them a small miracle with a non-everyday looking plastic object? Do amateur magicians showing the Tenyo tricks feel any lesser a magician because they are not doing tricks with everyday objects?

Is Crazy Man's Handcuffs done with an office worker's rubber bands a better miracle than say, Tenyo's Invisible Zone or Zig Zag Cig? Or an Okito Box? Fundamentally, I don't think so.

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lybrary
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Re: Pocket magic

Postby lybrary » March 17th, 2016, 10:02 am

I think that depends. If the non-everyday plastic thing looks innocent and can be inspected then I would think the impact is the same assuming similar strong effects. The advantage that one has with everyday objects is that they are inherently believed to be ungimmicked, normal, and thus not suspected of being the explanation for the trick. No additional 'proofing' that everything is on the up and up has to be done.

Having lived in Japan for almost 3 years I have never seen a Japanese magician perform a Tenyo trick. I think Tenyo tricks sell primarily to lay people as a kind of toy/puzzle/amusement. Tenyo tricks are designed primarily for non-magicians who want to perform magic.
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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Brad Henderson » March 17th, 2016, 10:13 am

some reasons magicians avoid 'tricks' and things that look like 'tricks'

http://conjuringarts.org/2016/01/on-mag ... ther-name/

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 17th, 2016, 10:29 am

If the trick is about the prop and the look of the prop seems to explain the trickery ... then it's kinda hard to explain the effect as magic - especially when the props are treated as complicated fragile toys.

Too Perfect (it's a tricky prop) meets specialty toy ...
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Re: Pocket magic

Postby P.T.Widdle » March 17th, 2016, 10:50 am

I remember having this discussion a long while back on this forum as it related to the magic prop Square Circle, and how some believed because it wasn't a "real life" object it was a lesser illusion. Obviously, I disagree with that.

Contrary to the assumption that an everyday object, like a rubber band, is "inherently believed to be ungimmicked, normal, and thus not suspected of being the explanation for the trick," therefore an illusion created with it is stronger, one could also make the opposite point that it is precisely because the object is a known entity that the spectator is left with no other explanation than slight of hand. Is that a better conclusion than suspecting the object itself?

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Leo Garet » March 17th, 2016, 10:53 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:If the trick is about the prop and the look of the prop seems to explain the trickery ... then it's kinda hard to explain the effect as magic - especially when the props are treated as complicated fragile toys.

Too Perfect (it's a tricky prop) meets specialty toy ...

Agreed.

Sadly, all props/apparatus/paraphernalia are subject to the "It's a trick widget" line of thought.
The best we can ever do is steel ourselves and try to head off such thoughts. If it looks like a trick box, acts like a trick box, it is a trick box. Even if it isn't.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby lybrary » March 17th, 2016, 11:42 am

P.T.Widdle wrote:Contrary to the assumption that an everyday object, like a rubber band, is "inherently believed to be ungimmicked, normal, and thus not suspected of being the explanation for the trick," therefore an illusion created with it is stronger, one could also make the opposite point that it is precisely because the object is a known entity that the spectator is left with no other explanation than slight of hand. Is that a better conclusion than suspecting the object itself?


I think so, because at least you are getting the credit for being skillful. If it is the prop then anybody can do it. Most spectators will not believe it is 'real magic' so they will always search for an explanation. I think the prop explanation is the first most spectators will gravitate to. By eliminating the prop solution it becomes more magical. Most lay folks have no idea what can be done with sleight-of-hand.
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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Pete McCabe » March 17th, 2016, 12:13 pm

The best thing about using ordinary, ungimmicked objects is that they can be gimmicked and no one will suspect.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Brad Jeffers » March 17th, 2016, 12:31 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:I love impromptu pocket magic, but I don't understand some people's insistence that it should be done only with everyday objects.
Is Crazy Man's Handcuffs done with an office worker's rubber bands a better miracle than say, Tenyo's Invisible Zone or Zig Zag Cig?

Given the definition of the word impromptu, then yes, it should be done only with everyday objects.

In fact, to have the appearance of being impromptu, it must be done with everyday objects.

You cannot expect anyone to believe that Tenyo's Invisible Zone or Zig Zag Card is an unprepared piece of magic!?

If you remove the qualifier impromptu, and just say, I love pocket magic but don't understand people's insistence that it should be done only with everyday objects, then I would agree with you.

A hot rod routine is just as effective as a color changing knife, but only the color changing knife has any hope of being viewed as truly impromptu.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Joe Mckay » March 17th, 2016, 12:53 pm

P.T. Widdle? That article is part of a series in which Andy encourages magicians who don't perform much to start performing more.

As such - it is about finding a way to segue into performing magic in an everyday situation for those who are out of the habit of performing regularly.

As far as I can tell - Andy has nothing against doing magic with unusual looking props (it all depends on the presentation) - but in this case, his goal is to try and find natural moments for non-performers to slip back into performing magic for friends. As opposed to setting out a manifesto saying that magic should only be done with everyday objects.

Personally I love all that Tenyo plastic crap. lol

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby P.T.Widdle » March 17th, 2016, 1:15 pm

lybrary wrote: At least you are getting the credit for being skillful.


I thought the point was for the spectator to be fooled and enjoy the experience. Who cares if they think you are skillful or not. Then you might as well be juggling.

Brad Jeffers wrote:
If you remove the qualifier impromptu, and just say, I love pocket magic but don't understand people's insistence that it should be done only with everyday objects, then I would agree with you.



Ok, I remove the qualifier "impromptu."

However, I stand by my previous assertion from the Square Circle discussion (consistent now for this pocket magic discussion), that impromptu magic does not automatically mean better magic than magic with non-everyday props (i.e. Tenyo).

Brad Jeffers wrote:A hot rod routine is just as effective as a color changing knife, but only the color changing knife has any hope of being viewed as truly impromptu.

In the end who cares if it is viewed (by the spectator I presume) as being impromptu? As you said, each can be equally effective.

As far as impromptu magic being an effective way for magicians to get into performing more, I would agree that is one way. However, one could also make the case that Tenyo tricks can provide confidence for the magician, without the pressure of being "ready" for an impromptu situation. Sometimes it can be easier and more effective for the magician to create the performing situation rather than wait for it. Yes, one might risk looking silly by taking out a Crystal Cleaver but there is at least equal chance that it prompts a joyful surprise and curiosity as a non- sequitur.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Leo Garet » March 17th, 2016, 1:41 pm

The first Okito Box I ever owned I bought for one shillings and sixpence from Hamleys. By post, I hasten to add. I never saw anything resembling a magic shop until I was an adult.

The box was a nice looking plastic effort and although it was made to sell cheap, it looked more like a pill box than any of the metal efforts I used in later years.

There was nothing special about the box, and nothing particularly exotic in its appearance. Just a blue box. But people always requested to have a look at it. Partly out of curiosity; it was an attractive looking thing in its own plain way.

But also, because they wanted to “have a look a tit”. It was perceived to be a piece of magic apparatus and therefore was not above suspicion.
I never knew anybody who owned a pill box, and although they seem to have had something or a renaissance in recent times, back then, few of the adults I did the trick for had ever owned a pill box.

People being people, they are always likely to ask to “have a look”. And no amount of spectator management will satisfy their curiosity. Even “having a look at the prop” still leaves doubts.

It’s the way to is.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Pete McCabe » March 17th, 2016, 2:00 pm

I think that when people identify with a magician—when they imagine being able to do magic (i.e. perform magic tricks, not have actual magical powers)—the thing that is most attractive is being able to grab something handy and do a trick. That's what seems coolest about magic. The idea of spending time preparing for and delivering a scheduled performance is significantly less appealing. Ditto with the idea of buying and carrying around a prop.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Leo Garet » March 17th, 2016, 2:29 pm

As I don't know how to edit posts, if indeed I can, the only way to head off the jokers looks to be by adding this addendum.

When I fell over the keyboard and typed:
But also, because they wanted to “have a look a tit”.

I thought I was typing:
But also, because they wanted to “have a look at it”.

Hey ho.
:)

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby P.T.Widdle » March 17th, 2016, 2:49 pm

Leo Garet wrote:People being people, they are always likely to ask to “have a look”. And no amount of spectator management will satisfy their curiosity. Even “having a look at the prop” still leaves doubts.


Many Tenyo effects having locking mechanisms and are examinable. As far as still having doubts after examination, so what? People have doubts when slight of hand is performed - Where did he put that? Did it go up his sleeve? Under the table?

Pete McCabe wrote:I think that when people identify with a magician—when they imagine being able to do magic (i.e. perform magic tricks, not have actual magical powers)—the thing that is most attractive is being able to grab something handy and do a trick. That's what seems coolest about magic. The idea of spending time preparing for and delivering a scheduled performance is significantly less appealing. Ditto with the idea of buying and carrying around a prop.


Pete, I think your magician identification assertion applies to close-up magic, yes? Because in general I believe most people still identify a magician as someone who does magic on a stage. But when they do think of close-up, I do not think they automatically believe something is more or less appealing to them based upon the props a magician does or does not use.

Part of the problem with some magicians' resistance to using non-everyday props in close-up settings, is that they are not giving the props the context that they need to thrive. Slapping a Crystal Cleaver on the bar in between card and coin tricks is not giving the trick the proper context it deserves. Personally, for the CC, I've found that by simply adding a small figurine magician standing next to it, who "performs" the effect, people view it as more of a miniature theater performance. They sit back and watch the presentation, and when it's over, they do not ask to examine the props, because they would never climb onstage to examine the set of a show. If you set it up the experience as something slightly different - give it a proscenium, so to speak, then people will react accordingly. A lot of presentations of collectors' micro-magic would benefit from this kind of thinking I believe, instead of just plonking the prop on a desk next to a pile of papers, or at a restaurant table next to some plates and silverware. Show these stange props some respect. Celebrate their uniqueness.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Q. Kumber » March 17th, 2016, 2:56 pm

If your sole purpose is to do a "trick" it's one thing but if your purpose is to create an 'engaging magical experience', it's another.

A good context will allow you to go in any direction you want. An Okito Box can become the 'pill box' of an old time magician, something you bought at an estate sale and it has the weirdest properties, and you can't understand how it works - "here, have a look and see if you can figure out what it does". ' It seems perfectly normal, doesn't it? And yet . . . "

Once you've hooked them in, engaged their curiosity, the sky's the limit, especially if you underplay it and allow them to jump to their own conclusions. Alan Alan said that "misdirection is the initiation of trains of thought".

I've always loved the line from Mary Tomich, ". . . came from the Museum of Cursed Antiquities."

Edit: P.T.Widdle's post above appeared as I was writing this post. Context is everything.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby performer » March 17th, 2016, 5:03 pm

I happen to be rather wonderful at impromptu magic. However, I can assure poor old Widdle that if he wants to be equally wonderful he is going the wrong way about it. When working impromptu it is very bad policy to work with things that look like nothing on earth. Sure, there is a bit of novelty value in it but that is about it. However, if the rather odd looking item can be examined then I do see justification providing there is not too much of this frivolity. I am not sure if has occurred to him that if he is working impromptu laymen will DEMAND to examine the props and if you refuse that means they will smile smugly and know they have won.

I do the Dotty Spots trick which may seem to break the ordinary looking rule. However, they can be examined (one paddle at a time though) and that makes all the difference.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby lybrary » March 17th, 2016, 6:17 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:
lybrary wrote: At least you are getting the credit for being skillful.


I thought the point was for the spectator to be fooled and enjoy the experience. Who cares if they think you are skillful or not. Then you might as well be juggling.


I totally disagree. That would be like telling a painter he should play music.
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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Pete McCabe » March 17th, 2016, 6:52 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:Pete, I think your magician identification assertion applies to close-up magic, yes? Because in general I believe most people still identify a magician as someone who does magic on a stage.


I am not trying to make an assertion about close-up magic, or stage magic. My assertion is about audiences. I think that few lay people—even the ones who love stage magic—wish they could perform magic on stage. I think that many more lay people wish they could do a magic trick for their friends at a moment's notice with whatever's handy.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby P.T.Widdle » March 17th, 2016, 7:44 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:I think that few lay people—even the ones who love stage magic—wish they could perform magic on stage. I think that many more lay people wish they could do a magic trick for their friends at a moment's notice with whatever's handy.


I think very few lay people wish they could do magic at all (much to the delight of some on this board). But even the ones that do wish they could perform a magic trick for their friends do not necessarily prefer to learn impromptu magic. Somebody's buying all those Tenyo tricks after all.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Bill Duncan » March 18th, 2016, 2:45 am

P.T.Widdle wrote:I thought the point was for the spectator to be fooled and enjoy the experience. Who cares if they think you are skillful or not. Then you might as well be juggling.

I would suggest that while a spectator might consider that you have a "tricky" rubber band after the fact, it's unlikely that would begin with that assumption.

However, if you brought out a plastic toy, or a beautiful turned brass box that just happens to hold half dollars perfectly, and they DIDN'T assume there was something tricky about it, I would worry about them.

It's entirely reasonable to consider that a layman might explain away a trick with rubber bands as "sleight of hand" I do believe that's better than them crediting the object itself. Because in that situation I'm a person sharing a skill that might amuse them, and in the other, I'm just the guy who bought an odd thing.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Q. Kumber » March 18th, 2016, 4:31 am

The point I made above is that if you do bring out an unusual prop is that YOU assert there is something unusual about it but give context as to how you acquired it. Insist they have a look at it. As Ali Bongo used say, "If you can't hide it, paint it RED."

Then it is no longer an issue and your audience will be only interested in what you will do with it. Of course it helps if you have a presentation and that is where 95% of magicians fall down. It's not because they have a funny prop, it's because they do not have anything like a decent presentation.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Anthony Vinson » March 18th, 2016, 7:22 am

I used to love props and shelled out beau coups bucks for them at ye olde tyme brick and mortar magic shops. I had a great deal of fun performing with my pockets full of props, but eventually realized that impromptu effects with ordinary objects had far greater impact. This pushed me not only to practice more, but to think more deeply about what effects I performed and why. These days I don’t even carry a thumb tip – although I usually have a deck of cards handy - and can still perform a variety of tricks when asked. Not only is it cheaper, it’s also more fun.

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Leo Garet » March 18th, 2016, 10:56 am

P.T.Widdle wrote:
Leo Garet wrote:People being people, they are always likely to ask to “have a look”. And no amount of spectator management will satisfy their curiosity. Even “having a look at the prop” still leaves doubts.

Many Tenyo effects having locking mechanisms and are examinable. As far as still having doubts after examination, so what? People have doubts when slight of hand is performed - Where did he put that? Did it go up his sleeve? Under the table?

Picky Picky. But fair enough, I was referring to apparatus, and didn’t include other stuff.
However, “It’s a trick pack” is a phrase we all know and love, whether the pack is or not. Mostly, in Close-Up, it’s not. But that’s what people often (too often) think and say. And to repeat, it’s the way to is.

Simply because some apparatus can be examined, doesn’t remove the “It’s a trick box” thought.

Incidentally, I’m very much a “So What” individual myself. So, having said that, I agree. So what.
:)

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Leo Garet » March 18th, 2016, 11:00 am

Q. Kumber wrote:If your sole purpose is to do a "trick" it's one thing but if your purpose is to create an 'engaging magical experience', it's another.

A good context will allow you to go in any direction you want. An Okito Box can become the 'pill box' of an old time magician, something you bought at an estate sale and it has the weirdest properties, and you can't understand how it works - "here, have a look and see if you can figure out what it does". ' It seems perfectly normal, doesn't it? And yet . . . "

Once you've hooked them in, engaged their curiosity, the sky's the limit, especially if you underplay it and allow them to jump to their own conclusions. Alan Alan said that "misdirection is the initiation of trains of thought".

I've always loved the line from Mary Tomich, ". . . came from the Museum of Cursed Antiquities."

Edit: P.T.Widdle's post above appeared as I was writing this post. Context is everything.

I mentioned pill boxes in a previous post, which was the standard selling point back then. I was about eleven or twelve when I acquired the box and I did use that approach. I always expected somebody to ask: “Did they have Plastic? back then," even though I never specified a particular “back then”.
They never did, but they always wanted a look at the box.

At the same same age another favourite was the T&R cigarette paper. With adults I could borrow the papers and no questions asked. At school, I’d have to use my own and the response was: “You don’t smoke. They’re magic papers.” You can’t win.
It was enough to drive anybody to tobacco. Thankfully I refrained for a few years (and then un-refrained after not very long). By which time cigarette papers weren’t quite as common, so with pocket space taken up with cigs and matches and other impedimenta, it went the way of lots of tricks; semi retirement.

Incidentally, not being sarky or critical or anything remotely like that, merely seeking information/clarification, but just what is “an engaging magical experience”?

And how does anyone know it’s been achieved? I always thought (still do to some extent) that people who could light a match on their thumb nail was quite magical and it engaged me. Still does.

As for context, I agree, but who sets the bar?

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby P.T.Widdle » March 18th, 2016, 2:27 pm

Some magicians seem to be running away from the idea of being seen as a magician, at least in the traditional sense.

In the close-up realm, it's fashionable for miracles to just seem to happen, impromptu-like. They argue that magic best occurs in a natural setting, with everyday objects, during a casual moment, as if magic was always the result of some cosmic accident. Some even argue that the magician should be taken out of the equation entirely (Carbonaro).

If you do have to be identified as performing magic, they say you should be seen as being skillful, by way of slight of hand, rather than, God forbid, displaying clever magical apparatus that someone, say...a magician? might carry.

It's a somewhat sad trend to me. Nowadays a close-up magician would rather finger-flick his way through another impossible card location or rubber band routine (taking full credit for the slight of hand), than be seen taking out a Cubio or jewel-studded paddle and risk being perceived as silly or worse, irrelevant. And that same magician would rather wait for an unobtrusive moment for magic to "happen," rather than create a magical moment, and own the identity of being a magician (with all the crazy apparatus that entails).

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Re: Pocket magic

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 18th, 2016, 3:05 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:... own the identity of being a magician (with all the crazy apparatus that entails).

agree with the former, disagree with the parenthetical.
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