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Topic: Why does Cups & Balls endure so well?
Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (Nov 20, 2004 07:43PM)
I have been watching (and learning from) Al Schneiderís new aet of DVDís with great pleasure. His Cups & Balls routine is of special interest to me as I want to use a new routine with my new mini-cups that differs from my Dia Vernon type routine that I use with my standard size cups.

Two things struck me about his presentation and his instruction of same. There is very little Dia Vernon in the routine. Thatís not (to me) a good or bad thing, I just think it is interesting. No wand, wand spin, no stacking, no penetrations. He uses only one kind of vanish and one kind of palm throughout.

Many of us have moved onto some very sophisticated routines with C&B, and thatís a good thing. But it is nice to see a very good routine, void of many bells and whistles. It accurred to me, as I watched his presentation, that [b]I could have kept my Phoenix cups[/b] (I sold them because the attic was too small for three balls) since his routine never once uses the ďatticĒ at all, not even for one ball.

I, for one, am very grateful to Al, for sharing so much on his DVD.


PS.. [i]Somewhere on the DVDís, Al mentionís our forum friend, Pete Biro. That was nice to hear.[/i]
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 20, 2004 08:55PM)

Later, as you work with the cups, you will find yourself adding material from other sources, until you come up with your own routine. When that happens, you will appreciate having the "attic."

The cups and balls have endured so long because it is a routine with a definite beginning, middle and end. It has almost all of the basic visual effects -- production, vanish, transposition, transformation, penetration, even levitation, in some versions.

And even with the predictable final loads, there is still room for artistic individualism.

That's why.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Nov 20, 2004 09:05PM)
The cups and balls is a classic because it is such a strong routine, with vanishes, productions, transpositions and changes (final loads).

Besides that it is great fun to do.

Does he teach the final load with glitter or salt? I saw a young woman do the cups at the Castle and the finbal load (glitter and a lot of it) fooled me. I was told it was Al Schneider's. He is definitely one of the good ones.
Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (Nov 20, 2004 09:54PM)
Your right Bill, I have added and changed things for over 20 years to C&Bís. I do appreciate having the "attic" it was just interesting seeing Alís routine using so few of the things I have come to rely on.

Yes, he show that final load (with little diamonds) and gives her credit by name. The cup is literally filled with them as he lifts the cup. The method is simple and worth considering.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 20, 2004 10:20PM)
I'm definitely going to have to order that DVD.
Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (Nov 20, 2004 10:52PM)

If you do get the set, I hope you revue it.
I got a very good price for the set from Howard at Magicwarehouse.
Message: Posted by: gene plampin (Nov 20, 2004 11:02PM)

Is the routine you're referring to with the little diamonds on vol 1 or vol 3? They both have cups and balls routines.

Message: Posted by: Bob Johnston (Nov 20, 2004 11:10PM)
Vol 3 has the presentation, explanation, and the added final load that Pete was talking about with the gems falling out.

The other one on Vol 1 (I think) is the one he used to show on his web site and it uses the cheap Adams cups. I say (I think) because I have not gotten to it yet.

Message: Posted by: Ron Giesecke (Nov 20, 2004 11:32PM)
David Williamson once quipped about the enduring appeal of the cups and balls:

". . .because it's not a card trick."

Maybe not the [i]only[/i] reason, but definitely a reason nonetheless.
Message: Posted by: pepka (Nov 21, 2004 09:36AM)
Here's my theory. As a strictly close-up/parlor worker I feature cups and balls as my final effect. The rest of our props may seem fairly commonplace. Cards, a few coins, a borrowed finger ring. But when you take out that velvet bag, and remove brass, antique copper, or for a lucky few, engraved silver cups; I think they realize they are about to see something special. And then there is the wand. There seem to be very few effects where the symbol of the magician is used. (Forget kiddie effects and gag wands.)
Many of us speak of the historical significance of this trick; maybe being the first recorded. My own performance is enitled "The oldest trick in the book."
All this, combined with vanishes, appearances, transformations, and pentrations, I think are the reasesons this has endured, and will continue to do so.
Message: Posted by: andre combrinck (Nov 21, 2004 09:58AM)
If I'm not mistaken Alex Elmsley came up with the salt final loads.I really love this routine.Bob have you seen Tommy Wonder's 2 cup routine-talk about ingenuity.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 21, 2004 10:30AM)
Unless I miss my bet, Alex Elmsley's method for the salt load and Al Schneider's method for the glitter load are different. I've used the Elmsley method for loading in a number of different places.

It's funny, but althought Tommy Wonder's 2 cup routine is ingenious, as are some other 2 cup routines, I have never seen one that I like as much as a good 3 cup routine. I'm not sure why.

There is just something "right" about 3.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 21, 2004 08:34PM)
Given all the theorizing on the Cups and Balls in regard to one, two, or three cups; the similar thoughts dedicated to the number of balls; the aspect of whether or not to use a wand; not to mention countless possible accessories, no one has yet mentioned that the underlying point to the endurance of this trick is the fact that it goes to the root of magic itself... and that is the essence of mystery.

When you have an object that becomes a point of focus, something to which we connect, i.e., the ball(s), even if this connection is only to the extent that we acknowledge its existence, a mystery is created the moment that object is covered... provided a mere suggestion of uncertainty is allowed to develop.

Initially, we assume the object is under the cover. If questioned we may express a belief that it is there, and in some cases if challenged, we may even defend our conviction to that fact... until an air of doubt is allowed to develop, or that fact is proven to be false.

From this point on, anytime an object is covered, the mystery begins.

This is the most basic effect of magic.

"To be, or not to be..."
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 21, 2004 11:57PM)
"Two, three, or not, two, three."

That is the real question.
Message: Posted by: Kent Wong (Nov 22, 2004 09:11AM)

Check out Tommy Wonder's books "Visions of Wonder". Within those pages, he gives a detailed theory about the number 3 and the appeal behind it.
Message: Posted by: AverageJoe (Nov 22, 2004 11:39AM)
My son and I love magic but are not performing magicians. We do it as a hobby and only entertain family and friends. I hope one day my son will take keep his interest in magic and continue with it later in life. I think the cup and ball tricks are so popular because it teaches the basic principles of magic. Now you see it now you don't. Plus there are several different ways to put your own spin on this classic trick. At least that is how I view it.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 22, 2004 12:44PM)
On 2004-11-22 10:11, magicman845 wrote:

Check out Tommy Wonder's books "Visions of Wonder". Within those pages, he gives a detailed theory about the number 3 and the appeal behind it.

Do you mean "The books of Wonder?" I have these books.

The appeal of the number 3 goes much deeper than most people imagine. There is Masonic symbolism, religious symbolism -- I've read psychological discussions about it that go much further than anything I have seen in any magic book. It's one of the underlying themes of classical and medieval art and music.
Message: Posted by: Michael Baker (Nov 24, 2004 12:23AM)
On 2004-11-22 00:57, Bill Palmer wrote:
"Two, three, or not, two, three."

That is the real question.

To me, a nut you be.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Nov 24, 2004 12:27AM)
I now realize why the Cups and Balls is so popular. It is so darned easy to do. :kermit:

However, the true test is the final loads. How many so-called good magicians have you seen FLASH? I mean how hard is it to keep your thumb in tight?
Message: Posted by: Werner G. Seitz (Nov 24, 2004 02:44AM)
The final loads are VERY dificult to do deceptively and unnoticed..believe me..I know..I did the most horrible loads during the time I did the C&Bs.

BUT, I've seen a very few doing incredible 'invisible' loads, which came from years of working before audiences and thinking about the 'how to'...
JS from CPH does wonderfull loads..

Lousy loads..oh well do I have to mention names?

One of the greatest streetentertainers does lousy loads..and it is NOT Richard Sullivan, better known as Jim ******* (make a qualified guess).

OTOH hand, that mentioned streetentertainer gets away with it, because he entertains and has an extra final load that baffles (sometimes)...

He still is on top of the range re great streetentertainers and has the specs on the palm of his hands, so in his case forget his loads, they don't lessen the impact his performance makes to anybody seing him work..he doesn't need them, still I wonder why he didn't follow the steps outlined by Jim ******* ? :)
And another nice steetworker does use the same loadingtechnic as the one mentioned..and he neither gets 'really' away with it..he too should reconsider to 'steal' that bit from Richard Sullivan instead..
Autsch..said too much...the above is solely to *whom it might concern* :kermit:
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 24, 2004 09:11AM)
Actually, his final loads were much better before his stroke. However, since the stroke, his left hand action has become cramped, and he really has big problems with them. All the existing videos are post stroke material.

I know exactly whom you are referring to. He doesn't get to these pages often.
Message: Posted by: Werner G. Seitz (Nov 24, 2004 09:36AM)
Sorry, I had no idea re he had a stroke..
Sorry to hear about this... :(
[b]My apologies !!!![/b]
As I said, he's a great entertainer -one of the very best I have ever seen- wheather he does good loads or not...
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 24, 2004 10:27AM)
Yep. And he tends to be a little "gun shy" when he does his loads, so you will see him bringing the cups all the way off the table, down into the pouch, and all sorts of other stuff like that.

The Al Schneider DVD's arrived in today's mail. I must agree with Bob (Wellington) that the work on the cups and balls is excellent. I enjoy having different routines to look at and draw from.

I don't plan to review the DVD's any time soon, because I purchased them primarily for the cups and balls work, as well as the Zombie routine.

I will add this. I remember seeing Al do the Zombie in his booth at one of the conventions we had here in Houston. It was truly amazing. It's still one of the best. Al's understanding of the Zombie is very special.

Al's theory in the cups and balls routine is quite solid. The techniques taught are well worth learning.

The "bling bling" final load is, as I suspected, completely different from the Alex Elmsley load. It is closer to some of Martin Lewis' work than Alex Elmsley's.
Message: Posted by: Pete Biro (Nov 28, 2004 05:33PM)
Gazzo told me after he recovered from his stroke, what he lost was mainly the stuff he did for other magicians, so now he doesn't worry about that material.

If you didn't know, you would not notice his MINOR problem with that hand... He's still about as good as there is with the cups.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Nov 28, 2004 05:46PM)
When he did that special private performance for me at Scarborough Faire, he mentioned the stroke to me then. He was almost apologetic (if you can believe that about Gazzo!) It didn't seem to affect him enough to make a big difference at all.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Nov 28, 2004 07:48PM)
If you look at the most ancient of references, you may find the most subtle and "modern" of approaches. Likewise in the reported routining.

Knowlege of the roots of a thing often offers insight its current blossoms.
Message: Posted by: BlackShadow (Jan 1, 2005 08:28PM)
C&B has many things going for it

1. Versatility in the manner of props you can use.

2. Variety in the manner of effects that can be produced.

But, the really big thing is:

3. The Climax. The big loads. The wow factor.

For those who have not been following the balls the final loads will carry them further, but for those who think they may have an inkling, they are a real sucker punch in disguise. In this way a good routine will carry a huge proportion of the audience into that rarely attained magical state where they believe for a moment anything is possible.

Beautiful though they are when performed well, I don't think many routines such as the linking rings or a production box, are capable of the same transformation of audience mood as the C&B.