Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

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Chas Nigh
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Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Chas Nigh » February 15th, 2015, 7:36 pm

I fell in love with this RJ routine and it took me quite a while to reconstruct it. I now perform it often. Has anyone else done this? Just curious because it took me quite a while. I don't think it's seen print. Thanks for any replies.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Tilman » February 15th, 2015, 7:49 pm

Interesting ethics...

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 15th, 2015, 8:28 pm

Is this the routine he did on Letterman? If so, it's Jon Racherbaumer's and has already been published.

There's nothing unethical about working out a version of something you've seen performed.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Bill Mullins » February 15th, 2015, 8:38 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:There's nothing unethical about working out a version of something you've seen performed.


I think Mr. Jay would disagree with you.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby JHostler » February 15th, 2015, 8:48 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:
Richard Kaufman wrote:There's nothing unethical about working out a version of something you've seen performed.


I think Mr. Jay would disagree with you.


That NY Times piece had absolutely nothing to do with working out the method of a specific effect, or even developing a presentational variation of a classic trick. It related to lifting the theme of (and details embedded in) an entire act.

RJ is essentially a classicist; I doubt he'd object to personalizing material "old as the hills."
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Dustin Stinett » February 15th, 2015, 9:10 pm

“[M]agicians are not unique in their absence of creativity.” — Teller

"I'll say." — Dustin

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Chris Aguilar » February 15th, 2015, 9:14 pm

If one were looking for similar published items, there's Darwin Ortiz's "Greek Poker" which is the same plot (credited to Diaconis) plus a color changing kicker.

Or if one isn't into riffle stacking, Paul Cummin's excellent "Punken Droker" visits the same plot using faro shuffles instead.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Chas Nigh » February 15th, 2015, 9:26 pm

He will keep his presentation. My subject is the exact method. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OW9H4izfxqQ

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Bill Mullins » February 15th, 2015, 9:30 pm

JHostler wrote: That NY Times piece had absolutely nothing to do with working out the method of a specific effect, or even developing a presentational variation of a classic trick. It related to lifting the theme of (and details embedded in) an entire act.

RJ is essentially a classicist; I doubt he'd object to personalizing material "old as the hills."


The point of linking the NYT article is to show that Jay (rightly so) feels that material that he has made his own, is in fact his own.

The original poster refers to "Alaskan Poker" as a Ricky Jay routine. Which he reconstructed -- not reinterpreted. Doesn't sound like personalizing it to me.

As posted above, there are plenty of similar routines in print which have been expressly released for others to use. Use one of them, instead of copying from someone who hasn't released his working repertoire.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Chas Nigh » February 15th, 2015, 9:40 pm

Chris, thanks for the tips, however I do Darwin's routine. I liked RJ's because he only used three riffle shuffles to stack. I also liked the running cut to load the third Ace.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Bill Mullins » February 15th, 2015, 9:45 pm

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby JHostler » February 15th, 2015, 10:00 pm

Bill Mullins wrote:The point of linking the NYT article is to show that Jay (rightly so) feels that material that he has made his own, is in fact his own.


The presentations, not the effects or methodology. "Alaskan Poker" ultimately derives from work by Vernon, Diaconis, Nash, and a million others. Of course, RJ knew/knows this crew, but I really don't think he gives much of a hoot about others stealing "his" technique. The OP seemed to be interested in reconstructing the method alone. That said, this is all conjecture unless/until Ricky decides to nauseate himself by posting here. (That's a comment on his opinion of magicians, not Richard's forum!)
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 15th, 2015, 10:03 pm

Argh! I thought you were writing about the "10 Card Poker Deal." In fact, everybody but me knows you were writing about the "Drunken Poker Deal," which is in fact a melding of "Triumph" with another trick (and ostensibly combined by Persi Diaconis, which thinks all of us are monkeys so the hell with him).

It doesn't matter what damn method you use for the trick other than that the simplest is probably the best, because the only thing the spectators remember is that you shuffled the cards up and down, then did a poker deal. If you have a good presentation, it helps, because the effect is not inherently interesting.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby JHostler » February 15th, 2015, 10:25 pm

To the OP: One damn method to check out would be David Bendix's "Sloppy Drunk Poker." You can find this in Kabbala; it's an overhand shuffle (sort of) version of the Diaconis thing.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Bill Mullins » February 15th, 2015, 10:32 pm

A story Jim Swain tells in his book Miracles with Cards may be relevant. Forgive the extended quote.

As a teenager, David Kotkin and I had the good fortune to study with Jeff Sheridan, one of the greatest stage sleight of hand artists on the planet. Jeff did, and continues to do, things with playing cards that no other magician would ever attempt. As a teacher Jeff was a stern disciplinarian. He required that I practice a minimum three hours a day, and really master the card flourishes and difficult single card and split-fan productions he had taught me. If I did not learn the moves perfectly, then nothing new would be imparted at the next lesson.

While studying with Jeff, I became fascinated with close up magic and began to read everything I could lay my hands on. I also combed the TV listings and watched for the occasional magician on Johnny Carson or any of the popular talk shows. This was during the early 1970s. One magician who frequently appeared was the inimitable Ricky Jay, a friend of Sheridan's. Of the many routines I saw Ricky do on the tube, the one which impressed me most was his revelation of all thirteen cards of a single suit, each card being produced in an impossible fashion. This routine, I learned, was part of Ricky's "Castle Act".

I spent many months working on a similar routine. In my routine, a spectator would call out a suit, and all the cards of that suit would be produced from the deck. For a finale, the remaining cards of the deck (which had been shuffled repeatedly) would be shown to be in perfect order. Although most of the productions in the routine were my own, the effect was identical to Ricky Jay's original routine.

When I believed the routine had been honed to the necessary degree of perfection, I demonstrated it to Sheridan one Saturday afternoon in his West Side apartment in New York. Sheridan nearly killed me! Did I realize I was stealing part of Ricky's act? Did I understand that by doing another performer's material, I was diminishing that performer's reputation?No, I did not (I was only sixteen at the time). Sheridan was adamant: If I wanted to perform Ricky Jay's trick, then I needed Ricky's permission, plain and simple. Otherwise, this routine was off limits, as well as any other routine Ricky or any other professional might be doing.

Sheridan's criticism was harsh, but it drove home a point with me at an early age. Musicians cannot steal each other's songs (it's illegal), and writers cannot steal each other's stories or characters. If magicians want to be considered artists, then they must abide by these rules as well. If they don't, the art suffers, and relegates those who perform it to a second class status.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Matthew Field » February 16th, 2015, 3:55 am

The point Bill Mullins, and Jim Swain via Jeff Sheridan, make is that if a magician has taken an old, rarely performed trick and made it a featured part of his act, leave it the hell alone.

That would include things like Mike Caveney's "Coffee" juggling trick and Jeff McBride's "Masks" or "Water Bowls." If they teach it to you, fine. Otherwise, find your own old trick and present it entertainingly or you'll be seen simply as a wannabe.

And that will be accurate.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Dustin Stinett » February 16th, 2015, 5:32 am

Bill Mullins wrote:The point of linking the NYT article is to show that Jay (rightly so) feels that material that he has made his own, is in fact his own.

I’ve lost track of what we’re talking about here. Effects and/or routines that are known and published? I hope not. I am—figuratively and perhaps literally—one of Ricky’s biggest fans and have been for over 40 years. But I am not going to say that Ricky gets to claim published effects/routines as his own once he does them.

Shall people stop doing the Three Card Monte, Assemblies—whether Aces or Queens, 10-Card Poker Deals, any Poker Deal routine, or even the Cups and Balls because Ricky has put his own, inimitable, spin on them? Um, sorry, no.

No one is allowed to copy the inimitable spin. That belongs to Ricky. And yes, one can get too close and that too crosses the line. I do not believe anyone else should use the patter for “The Exclusive Coterie” from Erdnase since he has become so identified by it, particularly since it suits his character so well. (Of course, Martin Lewis might say that Ricky shouldn’t be doing it, but that is a whole other debate.)

But, to the best of my knowledge, the routine Swain writes of has never been published and is Ricky’s. I first saw him do it sometime in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s. Sheridan was quite right when he scolded Swain.

I am not at all comfortable with the idea of someone creating an effect or routine that is original and “the magic community” saying that it’s okay for others to reverse engineer and perform it without permission. (As a personal exercise—with no intention of performing it—knock yourself out.)

And then there was the fellow who, some years ago published a DVD with his “one man show” that so resembled parts of “52 Assistants” that it was, in my opinion, embarrassing to the magic community. He crossed that line I wrote of earlier. And what was worse, he explained a couple of Ricky’s technical refinements—which are, of course, unpublished—saying of one of them, “If it’s good enough for Ricky Jay, it’s good enough for me.”

It was bad enough that he pinched Ricky's concepts, but to package it and sell it?

Yikes.

So that’s where I draw the line. Just because Ricky Jay does a version of Milt Kort’s “This is Centers(?)” doesn’t mean I will stop doing it, nor should I.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Bill Mullins » February 16th, 2015, 9:32 am

Ricky Jay does the cups and balls. That doesn't mean that no one else can do the cups and balls.
Ricky Jay does the 3 card monte. That doesnt' mean that no one else can do the 3 card monte.

But let's be clear -- that is not what inspired this thread. The OP said: "I fell in love with this RJ routine . . . I now perform it often."

He isn't taking a classic or stock or published item and reworking it for his own, as RJ has done with a number of pieces. He admits up front that he is "reconstructing" another magician's material for his own performances. And you just don't do that.

Nigh has backtracked from his original query, saying he is only interested in method, and not presentation. Good for him, and RK has said many times that discussion of method is okay here. Goodness knows that my posts come out different from what I really mean sometimes.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby IanLand » February 16th, 2015, 9:49 am

Leaving aside presentational questions, there are so many possible ways to do this effect - combine Triumph with some stacking - that it seems unnecessary to want to reproduce somebody else's method. Better to find your own handling. Although I agree with Richard it's not that strong an effect. Ricky makes something of it because he's a great performer, but even in his hands it's not a killer.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 16th, 2015, 10:11 am

Chas Nigh wrote:I fell in love with this RJ routine and it took me quite a while to reconstruct it. I now perform it often. Has anyone else done this? Just curious because it took me quite a while. I don't think it's seen print. Thanks for any replies.


It's the "...perform..." part that made me uncomfortable.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 16th, 2015, 10:45 am

I really don't agree with Dustin at all on this issue. I see nothing wrong with doing the Queen trick, complete with patter, right out of Erdnase. It's not as if you're piggybacking off someone's hard work in finding something from an obscure book that no one knows about. I don't even know if it's Ricky's idea to use that patter for the so-called "McDonald's Aces" (which is of course Hofzinser's routine). If combining the two is Ricky's idea, then I would not combine the two. But I would certainly use that patter with any other Assembly handling.

But if it's not Ricky's idea to use that patter with that trick, then why would anyone shy away from it?

It might even be a good presentational point to bring out a copy of Expert and show it to the audience, saying that this is a special book from 1902, and showing the person the page where the patter appears, all with the idea of having this as part of the presentation.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Roger M. » February 16th, 2015, 10:51 am

I think that the use of the Erdnase patter with a McDonalds assembly is solidly established as Ricky's exclusive creation.
He also hasn't shared it, not that any part of it is a secret.

I think it really shows a lack of solid ethics and personal creativity if one were to perform this combination in public (as our RJ impersonator did, and got scolded severely for it).

It's not like the combination "fell" together accidentally, RJ took two very dissimilar items, combined them, put his own personal touch on the presentation, and created a unique card masterpiece.

I think that if one were to perform any sort of McDonalds assembly while reciting the Erdnase patter it would most definitely not be cool, and indeed one would be ripping RJ off.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 16th, 2015, 11:29 am

I think Dustin might have inferred that the idea to use the Erdnase patter with a set of McDonald's Aces is Martin Lewis's, but he'll feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 16th, 2015, 12:22 pm

One could look at the market in magic and say it was designed to enable copying. Then there's coy omissions of "the work".

Anyway - what specifically about that routine appeals? to you? to what you want to bring to your audiences?

For ecological purposes let's digress to the Hofzinser Power of Faith item. It's a pretty strong trick. Add a joker to the selected pile to make an unbeatable hand (five aces). Add a scary story about missing people to get a mystery with a happy ending. Whatever you bring to the item beyond mechanical process - please do find the magic in a trick.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Chas Nigh » February 16th, 2015, 2:21 pm

I guess anyone can be attacked on this forum including Jim Swain. We are talking about a CARD TRICK here. Chill the f*** out.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 16th, 2015, 3:11 pm

Chas Nigh wrote:I guess anyone can be attacked on this forum including Jim Swain. We are talking about a CARD TRICK here. Chill the f*** out.


I asked the questions to address your post. what do you find different about that routine that you want to learn from?
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Brad Jeffers » February 16th, 2015, 3:19 pm

Chas Nigh wrote:Chris, thanks for the tips, however I do Darwin's routine. I liked RJ's because he only used three riffle shuffles to stack.


I fail to understand this comment, as Ortiz's "Greek Poker" uses only two riffle shuffles to stack.

This is just an observation ...

not an attack. ;)

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Dustin Stinett » February 16th, 2015, 3:49 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:I think Dustin might have inferred that the idea to use the Erdnase patter with a set of McDonald's Aces is Martin Lewis's, but he'll feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

For years there has been a debate within the so-called "inner circle" (called that only by those of us on the outside) of who was first to do this, Ricky or Martin. Martin was certainly doing it in the early '70s. Anyone who saw him at The Magic Cellar beneath Earthquake McGoon's in San Francisco can attest to him using it that far back. He was also a regular at the Magic Castle in those days, as was Ricky. I have not landed on one side or the other in this discussion.

I just think that Ricky has come to be identified with that routine, ever since he started doing it on television in the mid '70s. And when you watch his routine from beginning to end, the two different productions of the Queens (neither of which he invented; they are methods created by Johnny Benzais and Piet Forton respectively) followed by the assembly, those pieces were combined by Ricky. Coupled with the patter (which he's embellished over the years), it all just works in his favor from a performance and character point of view.

It's very much like people identifying the song "I Will Always Love You" with Whitney Houston. The fact is that Dolly Parton recorded it first not long after she wrote it in 1974. But Ms. Houston did it quite differently and made it "hers."

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Brad Jeffers » February 16th, 2015, 4:28 pm

This is a serious question ...

Would it still be deemed unethical to perform Ricky Jay's material after he has shuffled off this mortal coil?

After all, you can't take it with you.

Or can you?

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Bill Mullins » February 16th, 2015, 4:46 pm

Chas Nigh wrote:I guess anyone can be attacked on this forum including Jim Swain. We are talking about a CARD TRICK here. Chill the f*** out.


A few years ago, Michael Vincent released a DVD with a multiple selection routine that was very similar to the one in Jay's "52 Assistants" show. When this was pointed out, even though it was just a CARD TRICK, Vincent apologized publicly and profusely. Michael is a classy guy.

Classy guys, when it is pointed out that they've done something that might be unethical, don't respond "Chill the f*** out." Just sayin' . . .

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Dustin Stinett » February 16th, 2015, 5:02 pm

Brad Jeffers wrote:Would it still be deemed unethical to perform Ricky Jay's material after he has shuffled off this mortal coil?

I wouldn't go there, that's for sure. But note this: a music hall performer named Eugene Devot, who performed under the name Billy O'Connor during the 1920s, was billed as "Billy O'Connor and His 52 Assistants."

Additionally, I have always sensed some similarity between this poster ...

Image

...and this one...

Image

Artistic license anyone?

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby observer » February 16th, 2015, 5:35 pm

Dustin Stinett wrote:
Brad Jeffers wrote:Would it still be deemed unethical to perform Ricky Jay's material after he has shuffled off this mortal coil?

I wouldn't go there, that's for sure. But note this: a music hall performer named Eugene Devot, who performed under the name Billy O'Connor during the 1920s, was billed as "Billy O'Connor and His 52 Assistants."
?


"Billy O'Connor, who advertised himself as Billy O'Connor and His 52 Assistants, toured the theatres all over Britain for 40 years." (History of Magic Clubs in Scotland: Glasgow Society of Magicians, by Jim Cuthbert, on the Scottish Conjurers' Association website)

"Specializing in card magic, he performed for over four decades as Billy O'Connor and His Fifty-Two Assistants; at one venue this billing was not completely understood, and O'Connor arrived to find 27 rooms reserved -- one for himself and 26 doubles for the assistants!" (TA Waters, Encyclopedia of Magic and Magicians)

Just in case anybody thought O'Connor (who invented the Instanto Deck, among other effects) was some obscure guy RJ never heard of.

Has RJ ever discussed how he came up with the "...and His 52 Assistants" line?

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Richard Kaufman » February 16th, 2015, 5:44 pm

Why should he discuss it? It's obvious where it came from, and there's no problem with that. Enough time had passed that no one in the general public would remember the earlier performer.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby NCMarsh » February 16th, 2015, 5:47 pm

Re-constructing others' work to perform is not cool. I'm surprised that would be controversial. In what other part of our lives would we be ok with that behavior?

"That woman I don't know is beautiful. I'm going to grope her."

"What a nice television, I'm going to take it."

Desiring something does not give you a right to it. Re-constructing a piece does not give you a right to it.

Never has more great material been available. Go there -- but thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's card trick.
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Dustin Stinett » February 16th, 2015, 5:49 pm

observer wrote:(TA Waters, Encyclopedia of Magic and Magicians)

Just in case anybody thought O'Connor (who invented the Instanto Deck, among other effects) was some obscure guy RJ never heard of.

Has RJ ever discussed how he came up with the "...and His 52 Assistants" line?

And there is another connection: TA Waters was one of Ricky's best friends (Ricky wrote Waters' obituary for The New Yorker). He may have helped Waters with his book. And even if O'Connor was "obscure," that is Ricky's specialty. Plus the fact that Ricky was the curator of the Mulholland Library for all that time—of course he was aware of O'Connor. Like Richard says, decades have passed. I don't think he's done anything that needs explaining.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Brad Jeffers » February 16th, 2015, 5:50 pm

It's just a card trick so chill the f*** out ...
Where's the guy who said that?


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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby observer » February 16th, 2015, 6:13 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Why should he discuss it? It's obvious where it came from, and there's no problem with that. Enough time had passed that no one in the general public would remember the earlier performer.


Why? Various reasons. Graciousness, for one. It's a clever line - at least, Ricky Jay thought it was clever enough to use as the title of his show. Mr Jay is a student of magic history, he weaves stories from the history of magic into his shows, and he might have given the man who, let's face it, named his show, a respectful tip of the hat.

Consistency for another. Mr Jay is vehemently opposed to people using effects that he considers his own, even if they were in print years before he was born. "How dare anyone steal Ricky Jay's trademark presentations!" his admirers say. Since he's already gone ahead and stolen O'Connor's trademark line, he might at lest acknowledge its originator.

And, just plain old honesty. Say a comedian does a bit where a crook holds him at gunpoint and says "Yer money or yer life!" Long pause ... crook says "c'mon, whatsa matter?" and the comedian says "I'm thinking, I'm thinking ..." Odds are hardly anybody in the general public would remember the original performer. But there was one, and the line isn't just anybody's to grab and take credit for.

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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Jonathan Townsend » February 16th, 2015, 6:19 pm

observer wrote:... thinking, I'm thinking ..." Odds are hardly anybody in the general public would remember the original performer. But there was one, and the line isn't just anybody's to grab and take credit for.


Along with the image of a moth flying out of a coin purse.

More generally there's an experience finding out what works in performance.

And how does that work for you? And how would that work for anyone else?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby Dustin Stinett » February 16th, 2015, 6:37 pm

And thus the debate roars.

"Artistic license" even has some crossover. In 1976 did a happy dance when I first saw the cover artwork by Lynn Curlee for Blue Oyster Cult's album, "Agents of Fortune":

Image

As a magic history geek, I didn't have to look far for his inspiration:

Image

(As an aside, Teller says that BOC has [had?] the only authorized videotape of the show done at the Phoenix Theater in San Francisco known as "The Asparagus Valley Cultural Society.")

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NCMarsh
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Re: Alaskan Poker by Ricky Jay

Postby NCMarsh » February 16th, 2015, 6:42 pm

Matthew Field wrote:That would include things like Mike Caveney's "Coffee" juggling trickd


I wanted to follow-up on this particular reference for a selfish reason.

I put together a hoop and glass routine after reading Mike's book(and putting in 100 hours of throwing that hoop up and down before the stunt was show ready); my understanding was that -- while one would be stupid to ape Mike's performance -- the material was ethically available to purchasers.

Mike generously answered some technical questions I had via email while I was learning the piece; and while permission wasn't one of those (I didn't think it was an issue in the context of the routine's description in "Wonders") the emails were about learning the trick so it seemed the perfect opportunity for him to request that it not be performed if that was a concern.

Mike's basic premise (mixing a drink with the hoop circus stunt) has remained..but none of his specific gags (the ice cube toss, the blindfold) are in and there is an original finale sight gag (not shown in the video for the very reason this thread exists).

So I'm posting to say that I don't believe Mike's piece (and using the circus stunt in the context of a magic act is the kind of originality seen in Ricky's assembly -- yes, the pieces were out there for everyone to find but he put it together) is on this list in the same way as the other routine's Matt mentions (and it's not available if you don't buy the book and compensate him for the idea); but I'm putting it out there publicly because I'm happy to stand corrected and stop doing my version

Here's that adaptation:




Am I wrong that it is out there for performance by others given the conditions above?

N


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