Saturday, January 19, 2013

Episode 3 "Just A Cup"

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Axel Hecklau himself tells you that the biggest advantage of this thing is the flexibility that the gimmick offers. I agree. The simple fact that you are free to have the die under the cup or not, gives you a great tool to play with the "beats" of the routine. Let's assume the spectators point out that the die is probably under the cup. While your hand is in the pocket, getting the final load, you can casually lift the cup to show nothing. Unfortunately now the attention could shift back to the pocket making the "origin" of the final load way too obvious. Well when you place the cup down and up again the die could have materialized under the cup. This appearance will immediately draw attention away from the pocket towards the cup. It does relax the audience, they expect no trickery at that point. And it is exactly then when you load the final load.
So far this can be done with a regular chop cup as well. But not the opposite! You cannot have the die under the cup and then instantly vanish? Well now you can, creating that same wonderful "offbeat" that you can take advantage of by being one ahead.

It would be dumb if any product would get 70/70 points, as the creator would lose money doing so. If the the product would have been all good and free (that's 7/7) this would be wasted. This is too much of a good trick not to be exploited. However I still have an issue with the actual price. It's too much. I'm sure Axel asked people, what to ask for and I'm sure a lot of thought went into the actual pricing. But a lot of the stuff you get is actually not needed. The plastic bag that everything comes with probably cost a little bit to make and have the logo printed on. A total waste of money I think. Those who use it will have everything they need in the drawstring bag and that bag in the big bag of magic.

I have "Just A Cup" for a while now. It actually is in my table hopping repertoire. So I can tell you exactly how well it actually plays in the real world. But first know that I don't do the routine that Axel Hecklau supplies. I changed it a bit. Here it is:

My version is about how magicians lead you to wrong assumptions and use that to fool you. Which I demonstrate. It is a very satisfying premise and the structure resets. The Hecklau version is great but the bag that is being used caused me much trouble.

Core audience: My Sunday audience got to see this in the middle of last year and as far as I remember they loved it. No wonder the time honored premise of stuff appearing under stuff has proven to be most effective.

Whenever I show this to strangers it gets the proper reactions. If you have ever done the Chop Cup or the Cups and Balls then you know what I'm talking about.

The phase that is advertised so much, that of having the die penetrate the bottom of the upside down cup into the spectator's hand however gets mixed reviews here. Sometimes I get the people to get all crazy and to scream but sometimes the reactions is "meh". I don't know why that is, but accept that it is.

Axel himself does a great job of explaining how his props and routine is great. Personally I thought my German accent was bad. But it can go much worse:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Episode 2 "Stash"

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If you have seen the video you know that I really like this product. Not so much of the routines that it come with, but because of the potential this thing offers.

One of the ideas that is covered in the instructional video is the changing the sharpie into a cigarette. Dan does the explanation and then has to go through the disclaimer part that smoking is bad. Really? Is this a thing now in the states? You have to say that every time? Dan actually takes a puff and coughs loudly and hilariously fake to get this point across. Dude... political correctness needs a break once in a while.

So I went out and actually performed "Stash". Last Sunday I did the actual routine of the bill going into the pen. Instead of a mustache (bills don't have people on them here) I pretended to draw the spectators initial (which I knew beforehand)My core group was first. I got really cute reactions. But they all agreed that the point of coming back to the pen is really sick. Somehow this made the effect whole. I asked them how deceiving this was. They could pretty much tell me the method, but liked it anyway.

The second group was the "stranger" group. All see me doing magic for the first time. And they really went bananas over this. The got on the roundabout of let's fuck up your brain. And they truly enjoyed the ride. Did they think that the bill in the pen was actually the one appearing in the pen. I think not. But they were so overwhelmed with the concept that this "plot hole" was never addressed.

And the third group was a normal formal booking. I did it on stage; well more of a Party Stand Up thing for 35 people; but it was then when I truly saw this things potential. Because if you establish credit first, they actually believe it is the same bill. If they believe that you can do this, suddenly the need for proof becomes meaningless.

Watch the trailer:

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This back and forth of attention really has something to it, right? It makes you smile and be amused. So let me close with an tip for Dan. If you make your instructions available online (and there is nothing wrong with that) then please do not put the download link onto the page that comes with the product. Links can change. Instead link to your own website and from there people can enter a password protected section of the page that then links them to the video. That way you can change the instructional video as you want. You can add stuff like additional ideas and so on. So people would get just a password instead of a cryptic link that is hard to type in by hand.

So in case you have not seen the Pegasus Page trick... Here is a over the top performance by Max Maven:

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Episode 1 "Ritual"

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I asked myself a few question while playing around with the cords and the beads. One of the more prominent questions that came up was: How is this better than a ring and string routine? A usual ring and string routine has more than one phase, each penetration of the string becoming more and more impossible. It is so much more than just three beads melting off a cord. The simple answer is "No, this isn't better than a ring and string routine". So can you do at least a "bead and cord" routine with this? Actually no. In fact the little hooks at the end of the cords make it impossible to truly thread the beads onto the cord.

Is it the fact that three beads come of the cords at the same time? Does that make the routine any better by widening the scope compared to ring and string routines? Again no. Yes, you widen the scope, but you take away the purity of just a single object melting off the cords. That however can be adjusted. You can do the routine with just a single bead.

I actually went out an performed this. I used three settings: The first one is my usual core group of non magicians I go to. They have seen me doing magic many times. So what was there reaction on it? Well I got the "cute" looks, which was expected considering that they have seen much, much stronger material in the past.

The second groups I did that trick for was a groups of people that have never seen me doing any magic. In fact I met those people the first time. So in a quite moment I told them, that I can do one thing that is really cool. Then I did Ritual. The reaction was much, much better. To an unprepared layman this is a strong trick. After this I couldn't resist and did a card trick (Card to forehead) which made them forget the beads and cords trick.

And the third group was a formal booking. It was walk around magic and I could only do that trick once. The reaction was as expected. People were puzzled. They didn't know how I did that, yet they were convinced that there had to be a way. One of the guys actually approached me later that evening and told me that he believes that the beads were never really on the cord to begin with. Seems like the Too Perfect Theory was at work here.

I was wondering why I didn't get the same reaction like Dan does in the video. I believe the lady on the street is genuine. Watch the trailer:

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And then I remembered.... Americans. Germans are very difficult to get them to emote actual surprise and happiness. Seems to be a European thing, that gets worse the more you go North. Americans don't seem to have that problem. They are more likely to go "No way", "Awesome" and all of that. Maybe even to point of deceiving the creator of the magic trick.

I believe I know what happened. Dan Harlan was playing around with the Grandmother's necklace idea and figured out a way not to do the knot bit. He liked it so much to not see that the knot was actually another layer of deception. He may even saw the illogical part of the knot disappearing as proof that the knot is actually a crutch in that trick. So getting rid of it seemed like an improvement. I think not.

So is this a good trick? In terms of deception: YEAH Sort of! Otherwise: No!

But if you wear necklaces this might be a thing to wear. You have one more trick and it doesn't fill up your pockets. But typing that, immediately the Charming Chinese Challenge comes to mind. Looks cool as a necklace and you have a routine with more than one phase/effect.