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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #1 

I find that I do not derive as much pleasure from performing “no sleight” effects as I do from effects that require a sleight or two. 

How about you guys?


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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #2 
        According to the effect or routine I'd imagine.  I get much pleasure out of the reactions elicited when I do my Out of this Universe, for example, and there's really no sleights required.
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interval

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Reply with quote  #3 
Hi Harry. Where is Out of this Universe published? Thanks.
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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #4 

       It was in my very first book on magic - CLOSE-UP CARD MAGIC.  Then updated in LORAYNE: THE CLASSIC COLLECTION, Vol. 1.   But - sorry - both are sold out, out of print - have been for quite a while.

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #5 
Good question, Arthur, hope it's generates a great deal of debate and discussion.

I rely on more semi-automatic tricks and those requiring minimal sleights. Many sleights require daily practice to acquire and maintain. As a hobbyist/amateur I am unable to perform often enough to justify the time and energy required. I keep my basic tools in good shape; palms, false shuffles, doubles, changes, controls - with both coins and cards - but beyond that? I do not have the time or inclination. If a particular sleight is required for a trick, I quickly determine whether or not I will perform the trick often enough to justify the effort. Usually it's no. (I have recently been working on a pull-through shuffle for a trick that I do hope to perform often enough to have made the effort with it.)

I derive my greatest performing pleasure when the audience is amazed and entertained, regardless of method. For instance, B'Wave knocks 'em dead every time without a single sleight - and no amount sleight of hand would improve the trick.


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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #6 
interval, welcome to TMF!

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Dave

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Reply with quote  #7 
Hi Anthony,
I find myself in the same position as yourself, and therefore will spend time on a sleight that is required for a specific trick that I want to learn, but cannot dedicate myself to learning many sleights, as interesting as many of them are, that I will use rarely or not at all. I approach jazz the same way (I was a late starter) and when I find myself in what Wynton Marsalis calls "hostile harmonic territory" I will work on a certain chord/scale, but will probably not run it through all 12 keys, partly because of laziness, partly because of time constraints, partly because I will have trouble remembering each one if not used regularly.

Having said that, there are some beautiful sleights and moves in Ernest Earick's By Forces Unseen - - - - -

Dave
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Mbreggar

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Reply with quote  #8 
Harry’s point should be emphasized. A great card routine is a great card routine. If it requires sleights or no sleights a great routine will elicit great reactions from the audience.

If you enjoy the sleights for the sake of executing the sleights, that’s ok too, but one should think carefully about infusing sleights into routines that really don’t require any. That extra work may make the routine look “tricky” instead of keeping it mysterious and magical.

Having said all that... I will frequently execute false shuffles or cuts into my self-working routines. But even then I don’t overdo it. Sometimes I don’t even shuffle... I will quickly spread the deck face up and say “they look pretty well mixed to me. Don’t you agree?”
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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #9 

OK, let me clarify a little … “sleights for sleights sake” is definitely not on my agenda.  Nor are excessive false shuffles, cuts, etc.  What I was referring to are tricks that have built-in sleights which accomplish the end result.  (If it can be done without any sleights, so much the better).  

Harry’s Out of This Universe is a fantastic example, and probably the one exception for me personally.  I LOVE performing it because it’s completely impromptu and the spectator can shuffle the deck.

On the other hand, as stated above, I do relish performing tricks utilizing sleights more than I do self-working tricks.  A couple of good examples are Twisting the Aces and The Miracle Worker Returns.


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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #10 
I'm not into sleights for sleights sake. I'm not sure if anyone is?? But having a tool chest with many tools, opens many more doors. The old adage "Use the right tool for the right job" is applicable. When you have an extensive tool chest, you have choices.

Self-workers are fine. So are tricks that require some sleight of hand. When I read an effect that I'd like to perform, I find out whether or not it's in my ability range. If it's not, I'll assess whether or not the required learning curve is worth the effort and time. At my age, I'm not likely to spend time on a new sleight (tool) that requires years to perfect. I have my tool chest and I generally only work on tricks that use those tools. Sometimes, one of my tools can substitute for one specified in a routine I'd like to be able to perform but would require extensive effort. That's good!

Bottom line - Having an extensive tool chest is good. It opens many doors that would otherwise be closed.

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Intensely Magic

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Reply with quote  #11 
I love this discussion, although I tend to be alone in my perspective, but I'm used to that.

"Self Working" must be divided into two categories I think. Those requiring a set up and those from a truly shuffled deck. From the first group, after all these years, I still think Harry's Out Of This Universe and Lazy Man's Card Trick are the kings. I'm sure there are other great tricks I'm not remembering at the moment. Even these are substantially enhanced by a quality false shuffle and cut.

A great example of the second type is John Bannon's View to a Skill.

For several reasons, I'm a big believer in opening a set with a low skill or no skill trick, but it needs to be a good one.

I agree with Arthur that performing tricks with some skill are more personally satisfying. I do think in performing those that are well within your skill level is very important. Kind of like a golfer hitting a ball with only 80% of his power. I think this is what Mike is referring to with his "tool box" analogy.

Way too many self workers look exactly like what they are. Don't underestimate you audience.

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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #12 
Re: Self-Workers - Many self workers are "procedure heavy" e.g. "Think of a number between 1 and 16. I'm going to show you cards one by one. Remember the card that's at that number. O.K. here we go. One, two, three.... twenty. Did you see it yet. Good. Now don't forget the card. Also, don't forget the number....." Sometimes the payoff is worth the heavy procedure. The skill needed is the ability to keep it interesting as all this procedure is accomplished. 

Sometimes we become enamored with the underlying method. It fools us, so we feel good when performing it. It'll likely be good for other magicians. But session tricks often drag in the real world. Generally, directness is desirable. 

I was just revisiting a trick from my Card Corner column that involves spelling the name of a thought of card as you deal a card for each letter. The spectator has about 18 cards and has to spell the thought of card three times with all the dealing. The ending does seem impossible, especially to magicians, but I wonder how laypeople feel. I'm not sure...

Mike
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Chi Han

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Reply with quote  #13 
For me the satisfaction comes from the performance and audience reaction.

My tricks have already been honed to the point that the sleights are not a challenge for me.  I don't get a thrill out of doing them or not because I can do them any time.  If I mess up the trick because of the sleight, then I've got a LOT of work to do.  If I can keep the audience entertained, and build the climax appropriately, then that's what gives me pleasure.

I just did a 3 hour bar gig.  I'm still buzzing from the audience reaction.  I love magic.  I love sharing it and seeing the wonder in people's eyes, and hearing their laughs.  How it's done is a lesser issue.  There are tricks I prefer, and sometimes if I hate the method I won't do the trick, but it's rarely because it's sleight vs self working.
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Mbreggar

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Reply with quote  #14 
I have been holding off in my responses since I didn't want them to appear self-serving (as many of you know, I write a column on sleight-lite magic for The Linking Ring and have several books out on the same subject). It is very true that the majority of self-working card tricks are so layered in process that they cease to be interesting for the audience and are the antithesis of fun for the performer. I set out to change that with my "Auto-Magic" column. The premise is to curate and design magic effects (not necessarily all card work) where presentational concepts are so prominent that any process-driven method is adequately hidden behind the story. That's why I commented earlier that if an effect is an audience-pleaser, whether the method is full of sleights or sleight-free becomes irrelevant. It is just how things are done.

Our good friend Harry Lorayne has noted several times as he has revised some of his favorite effects in his later years (such as in the Jaw Droppers books), he needed to reduce or eliminate the sleights as they became physically more difficult for him to negotiate in recent years. He says, this focus though, in his mind (and mine) actually made the effects stronger.

I clearly recall reading somewhere in Hugard's Magic Monthly (ironically, I can't recall the source or issue) that one "shouldn't be afraid of sleights" and that they should "embrace the challenge of learning and mastering them." I'd argue the reverse is equally true: that one shouldn't be afraid of NOT using sleights! 

Finally, I'd encourage you to read Roberto Giobbi's introduction to his "Card College Light" series. While Mr. Giobbi is a master teacher of sleights, he is a firm believer that they are not a requisite for strong card magic. 

Heck ... Shin Lim's finale on "America's Got Talent" this year was R. Paul Wilson's sleight-free "Con Cam Coincidentia"!!

Mike
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #15 
If you can replace a sleight with a subtlety without losing part of the power of the magic, then the trick has been improved. John Bannon is the master of this concept.

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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #16 
I agree with Mike. Bannon is indeed a master of streamlining and simplifying concepts without damage to their original effects. John Carey is another, as is Cameron Francis. None of those three are averse to sleights and subtleties, if required.

Bannon's "sleightless" book, Destination Zero, is filled with minimal miracles. I am especially fond of The Four-Sided Triangle. The trick requires some procedure - dealing - but is constructed in such a way that the procedure is masked as spectator participation. The trick can be set up on the fly with any deck, and so far has garnered good reactions when I perform it. In the introduction, Bannon writes about his theories regarding self-working, semi-automatic tricks versus those requiring sleights. It's worth a read.

I am a fan of the late Eugene Burger. While certainly possessing chops, much of his material is technically accessible, but does require skillful audience management to successfully perform.

I also enjoy performing Twisting the Aces - as mentioned by Arthur above - and other tricks requiring sleights, but only if they are fun for both me and the audience. Dingle's Too Many Cards, Hamman's The Twins, Gypsy Curse, et al. But admittedly I derive most of my pleasure from simply-constructed, semi-automatic tricks that amaze and entertain. Those effects allow me to relax more (since I am unable to perform often enough to get as comfortable with sleights as I would need to be to relax during sleight-heavy routines) and enjoy performing. This approach works best for me and my long-suffering spectators! 

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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #17 

Hey Anthony, it’s funny you mentioned Bannon’s “Four-Sided Triangle”, because in an indirect way, that’s actually what prompted me to start this discussion.  Over the course on many years, I’ve developed a pretty reliable set of tricks with which to amaze people, almost all of which involve sleights.  Tricks from books by Day Vernon, Frank Garcia, Harry Lorayne, Al leech, etc.  When I found each of these tricks and decided to learn them, I obviously spent a lot of time practicing and perfecting the sleights necessary for those particular effects.

(On a side note, like other folks above, I also give less importance to sleights than to presentation, misdirection, and above all entertainment).

Anyway, in the last year or so I became enamored of John Bannon’s material, which is full of very clever and ingenious ideas.  I admit several of his tricks fooled me badly … so much so that I learnt how to do them.  What’s even more interesting is that an abundance of his pieces are completely self-working.  

However, after a while, (right after learning “Four-Sided Triangle” and getting a rather lame reaction), it dawned on me that the constant dealing and counting of cards in many self-working tricks (either by the performer or his/her spectator), starts to become quite tedious.  Especially for the audience.  And that’s how I reached the conclusion that I personally get more satisfaction engaging and enhancing an audience with tricks which involve sleights, than I do from performing self-working effects.  It’s not a “pride” or “ego” or “pat-on-the-back” kind of thing … I just enjoy it more.

But as always, there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to magic.  For example, (to completely contradict myself), I just learnt “When Maven Met Leech” which John Carey shared so generously on TMF recently.  What a fantastic, mind-boggling, absolutely sleight-free trick!


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Chi Han

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Reply with quote  #18 
Just wanted to throw a Darwin Ortiz quote in here from Designing Miracles.

"The only thing that matters about a method is how impossible an effect it produces, not how good it makes you feel inside"

While I don't 100% agree (an impossible but unimpressive effect that involves 30 phases of dealing would be a huge killer for me), such a quote is definitely part of a cornerstone of my thinking.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #19 
Now that I have gotten old, I can say things like "back in the day."

My journey into magic started in the late 1970s. At that time many, if not most, of the effects I wanted to learn required some degree of sleight of hand skill. My first trick needed an Elmsley Count and a Jordan Count. I knew nothing about sleight of hand at that point. Also, the directions were printed on a playing card. One side for the Elmsley, the other side for the Jordan. No illustrations. I finally figured out what to do and, after practice, could perform the trick (Ronay's Sympathetic Aces - a killer trick!).

My teacher turned me on to Frank Garcia, Martin Nash, Ed Marlo and Dai Vernon. Garcia's books (Million Dollar Mysteries and Super Subtle) contained relatively easy items. But Nash, Vernon and Marlo material often required learning some new, and possibly difficult, sleights. I spent tons of time perfecting these "tools."

On the positive side - I was able to learn many more tricks because I knew the moves that they required.

On the negative side - In constructing original tricks, I'd see that a certain move got me from point A to point B and would use the move without thinking about other paths that might be simpler. As a result, my first book, Powerful Magic (1983) contained a lot of tricks that are unnecessarily difficult, and sometimes convoluted as well. There are some good items in the book, but at some point, I plan to revisit some items and revise the handling.

If you go back even early than the 1970s, you'll find that many people made a living with a couple of controls, a top change, a palm and maybe a double lift. Now, readers flee if they see the word "palm" in the instructions. 

In the end, the old maxim "Use the right tool for the right job" applies. A subtlety might be the right tool. But a palm, or top change might be better. It's good to know some moves.

Mike

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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #20 
     Who knows? Might have made it easier (better?) for you if your teacher had also "turned you on" to me!!![biggrin]
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #21 
I think I have previously mentioned that I got turned on to Harry Lorayne early on. He gave a lecture at a church near Magic Inc. I bought books including Quantum Leaps and subscribed to Apocalypse. I now have a ton of Harry's books. I did purchase Close Up Card Magic, Reputation Makers and Rim Shots early on. Then all the Best of Friends and more.


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Harry Lorayne

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Reply with quote  #22 
    I think I knew that, Mike - just wanted to "hear" you say it!!!  Seriously - thank you.
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arthur stead

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Reply with quote  #23 

Based on the contributions in this discussion, and my own further analysis, I think I’ve reached a conclusion.  But that doesn’t mean the discourse has to end here!  

Ok, so here’s what I’ve realized:  There is no question that both self-working tricks, and effects which use sleights, require the development of an intriguing and engaging presentation.  Each can succeed or flop depending on the time, creativity and dedication you put in.  

However (and this is just my opinion):  The fact that I worked so long and hard to perfect the moves in a trick requiring sleights, makes it more gratifying for me to perform than a non-sleight trick.  

 

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Michaelblue

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Reply with quote  #24 
I think it is like anything else. You do what you like to do, what works for you.
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Mike Powers

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Reply with quote  #25 
Arthur - the other thing that's gratifying when performing a trick involving heavier sleight of hand is the knowledge that you wouldn't be able to perform it if you didn't have the necessary tools. It's only accessible to those with the needed chops. There are many such items.

Mike
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Anthony Vinson

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Reply with quote  #26 
Arthur, I am with you on the interminable dealing tricks. I also disdain the Automatic Placement as arrived at by showing the cards one by one and expecting a spectator to a) key onto a particular card under duress, and b) remember it throughout the remainder of the procedures required to bring the trick to a conclusion. ARGH! That said, I do not find the procedure in Four-Sided Triangle particularly troubling. I make it part of a game in which the spectators and I conspire to bring about the miracle of any impossible object. Now, I have never managed to get one of those "Penguin Magic video trailer" audience reactions to the effect - come to think of it I have never managed one of those - but I have received what I consider adequate reactions: amazement, laughter, etc.

I do not blame your for feeling pleasure at having justified the incredible amount of time and dedication required to master a particular sleight or effect. Makes perfect sense. I do one or two little coin routines that took me years to master, and it always feels good when I perform them. Same with the technical card tricks I perform, Twisting the Aces being among them. At the same time, I put a great deal of time and effort into learning and rehearsing the semiautomatic tricks in my arsenal, and derive great pleasure from successfully performing them. So I think what I am saying is, that ultimately it's the thrill, the rush, the almost orgasmic pleasure of successfully performing magic for an appreciative audience that matters. No matter which route or routes you may take to get there.

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