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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Nothing up my sleeve... » » Square ONE, coins as billiards (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Jonathan Townsend
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I'm going to take the sting out of one topic and put something out for open discusion: Have you tried doing the Downs billiards routine from The Art of Magic using COINS? I found the routine in 1975 at in the book at the library. I've played with doing billiards close up using small balls, and also liked the idea of using coins do do some of the visual billiard material. And so, back in 75 or so, I set to work. That covers the side of the trick that many people emjoy working on, at least the way they seem to want to work on it.

For those who are not yet well read in this field, you can get the Downs book from http://www.lybrary.com for a small price. The routine is described in three phases. Let's look at it using coins where Downs described it using billiards:

1) The coins appear at the fingertips

2) The coins pass from the fingertips of one hand to the fingertips of the other

3) The coins change colors.

The shell gaff, as described in Hoffmann's More Magic works well in this context HOWEVER, There is another kind of coin shell that makes better sense for this kind of trick. Steve Dusheck invented it and has some good ideas for its use. I'm suggesting its use in billiards style work here. The nice thing is that unlike billiards, you can simply fan the coins. Some of you may want to review the standard billiard effects and sleights so we don't waste time reinventing a hundred plus years of great work in this area. Tarbell, Mark Wilson and more recent works cover the mechanics and basic routine ideas. Coin droppers and a good coin clip are very handy in this context too.

That said, it's open season for exploration, this time from an honest start.

I'm drawing only one line on this topic, that of the attention / flow of action stuff that I'm not done studying on my own. That will get released when I'm ready.

With any luck there may be a collective sigh of relief as folks read this.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Mike Wild
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Of course I've looked at the basic premise and routine, however, not having related it back the Downs routine, I haven't taken a close look at the color changing aspect... which for some reason is really appealing to me right now.

I've played with a classic coins across where the coins travel & change one at time, and are reformed to their original condition at the end (a la David Roth & a coffee mug). But changing all three coins visually (open-handed or at the fingertips) sounds quite challenging mechanically... and very interesting at the same time.

I think I'll start rolling that around in my head. Having spent the last week or two rereading my Ramsay stuff, I'm thinking that a lot of his influence could be incorporated. Minus the teasing of the audience with overt but fake clues as to where the coins may be. He certainly did seem to like to do that. I'm especially drawn to his fingertip work in conjunction with the standard and high finger palms, and how that could be used to create a visually effective, but mechanically simple variation.

You know me Jon... I'm a big fan of the K.I.S.S. principle.

Mike
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Curtis Kam
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It seems that the Duscheck shell (L as opposed to [?)allows you to duplicate the billiards effect almost exactly. That is, the coins are held in a display position between the fingers, as after a rollout, the way the balls are held in Downs' routine. The special advantage of the L is that it allows you to roll out the coin inside in much the same way that a ball is produced in the typical ball routine. This offers angle advantages over simply holding two coins together and hoping for the best.

Jon, are you looking for a discussion of the attention management issues here, or do you intend to focus on mechanics?
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Jonathan Townsend
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Let's stick to the mechanics and routining options we can learn from billiards.

From translating the multiplying billiards gaffs and multi-ball climax gimmick to the simple routining of the classic effect, there is lots to work on.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Mike Wild
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RE: "Let's stick to the mechanics and routining options we can learn from billiards."

Then I have to throw this in, because it's been bothering me for a while. The billiard L has a definite advantage over Steve's coin L. The billiard L has dimension and curvature, where as the coin L appears (at close proximity) to be two-dimensional. From a distance everything looks fair, but up close, at the bar for example, it looks like one coin is slid out of the side edge of another. The balls don't have this problem due to the shape of the gimmick. Once the coin has "appeared", you can give the L depth by simply rotating it a little, but the process itself (of the coin appearing at the fingertips) looks very flat.

I know that a little burst of speed or a sudden hand motion would remedy that problem, but this, IMHO, is no time for speed, it should be done slowly enough so that the act ot the coin appearing is seen at some level by the audience. I find the gimmick is perfectly suited for routines like the one Steve designed for it... coins change places from open and otherwise empty hands, the gimmick only being used for cover. But is this the gimmick to use for this type of routine... where it and the coin it conceals are displayed simultaneously? I'm not sure.

May it's me. Do I just need to routine it better or improve my skill at handling Steve's gimmick? Or is this an actual concern?

Mike
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Jonathan Townsend
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I'm not sure Mike, I do know that a regular ] was explored as of Hoffmann's More Magic, and for a fan display, Steve's L seems sensible.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Curtis Kam
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Mike, there's also Roy Benson's haunting advice to consider here. Benson, who knew a thing or two about the MBB, had a set of "Rules" for the optimal performance of the routine. One was: "Never produce a ball openly from the She**". I don't know exactly why this was, but I surmise that it was a conrecn similar to yours.

Acordingly, I would hesitate to make an open showing of the multiplication of the coin from the L. Perhaps the device would best be used as a way to vanish coins from that position while attentionis elsewhere.
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ithomson
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Jonathan

Out of interest, what audience are you thinking of? I'm asking because the gaffs and/or mechanics could be quite different if we were talking Stage as opposed to Cabaret or Close-up.

On that note, and if we're talking Stage, do we have to limit ourselves to ]s? The flat and smaller (in terms of volume) nature of coins might open up other ideas for gimmicks. For example, I think I remember a "coin spider" in "Art Of Magic" for use in Miser's Dream. In a Stage setting a modified version might be used to deliver a stack of coins, or individual coins, to the fingertips unnoticed.

Just a thought.

Ian
Mike Wild
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RE: "Perhaps the device would best be used as a way to vanish coins from that position while attentionis elsewhere."

I lean in that direction myself Curtis. And there in lies the challenge. Steve's L would be the perfect tool to effect the color change aspect of the routine if it were used to "multiply" the coins at the fingertips. However, if it's used to subtract coins, it's no longer a viable tool to enact anything... it's simply a temporary hiding place for wayward coins. To use the L for what it seems most suited to do in this example (subtract coins from a fingertip fan), I'd have to reverse my current thinking in order to come up with a do-able color change method... If that makes any sense at all. Or I could just juggle 6 coins in alternating finger palms... like Ramsay would have done Smile

Ian - The coin spider is a great thought for stage or larger area performances. For close-up productions, I think a coin dumper would work equally as well.

Mike
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Jonathan Townsend
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Ian, folks

My own thinking went toward scaling down the billiards trick to use coins and have the audience just a few feet away. This brought the coins from between the fingers into a fanned display at the fingertips, and thus the use of Steve's L or the moves as described Hoffmann's book using the [. Gosh I liked Steve's Slippery Sam coin set when it came out. I had just seen Tommy Wonder's billiard ball changes and really wanted to see that kind of thing happen close up.

The current trend in using Silver Dollars brings us close to full circle in exploring the use of gaffs. As pointed out above, when the audience a few steps back, items like the coin spider and coin droppers become very practical. In fact, once the audience if far back enough that it makes sense to use your own table, much of the Downs era material becomes attractive.

As it happens, my exploration was more close-up, and I was looking to scale down the props to duplicate the effects of the multiplying candles or billiards right there at the coffee table. This brought me to Ramsay style display and fingerpalm ( and later Edge Grip ) mechanics. As many of our coin community are seeking to scale up... I fully recommend studying the books and trying out all the goodies our grandfathers left for us.

Best to all,

Jon
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Curtis Kam
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Okay, let's say for our first stab at it, the L is our gaff of choice, and we'll assume the fanned position. I'll ask the question....How many coins?

Three seemed like a good idea when Jonathan tackled the trick the first time, but our model (the billiard ball routine) traditionally used four, or five (the Benson routine) to be fair, the Downs sequence only actually involves two balls, although more are present. I think. I tend to distrust some of TND's claims, but he had, by all accounts, terrific theatrical instincts. Maybe two transits is all the audience will accept?

On the other hand, if we had four coins there's room to maneuver. Maybe two could travel together for a socko finish.

And, once the number of coins is set, how many L's? And are we talking about adding the colorchange?

Gee, multiple L's, color changing coins, this sounds familiar. Aren't there brand new gimmicked Chinese coins that come with all these features?
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Mike Wild
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Yes... yes there are. I was thinking exactly that as I read your post Smile

However, it's the hunt that interests us... a Chinese gaff makes it just too *** easy Smile

Mike
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ithomson
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People

As far as I'm aware the "Chinese" set we're talking about bears no resemblance to any real Chinese coins, except those used for decoration. I was doing a bit of research for one of my own routines, and I think I discovered that no current Chinese coins have holes in them, for example. This may not mean much to spectators, but to me this means they all look really dodgy.

Anyway. Something just occurred to me ....

Curtis, do you think components of your "Beijing Coins Across" match some of the requirements we're looking for here? I'm thinking particularly of the Wild Coin sequence and the Tumble Change, as I know the coins across section isn't VCA. But I wondered if some of your routine might give us some starting points for the VCA if we started adding ]s (that might even cover the "Chinese" coins?).

I might be talking through my proverbial here, but it was just a thought.

Cheers

Ian
Curtis Kam
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Hey Waitdaminnit,

Ian's right. Beijing Coins Across has got a production, transposition, and transformation (a bunch of them) already built in. Okay, I'm done here, you guys lock up...

BTW, the VCA is in there, too, when I do the routine for the layfolk. Since I wanted to teach the closed coins across first, somehow the VCA handling never quite made it on the DVD. Smile

I'll do it for you in person if you ask about it, though, so if you're interested, please do. (when you see me)

I like your thinking, Ian, but I have to admit that the "Chinese" coins I use Are used for decoration. I know the lack of authenticity bugs some people, and perhaps it should bug me, being Chinese. But I never said the coins were contemporary Chinese coins, so the fact that they have the old-fashioned holes is okay by me. Morgan silver dollars don't look much like contemporary American money, either.

Seriously, I think Jonathan's looking for a specific "look and feel" that's inherent in the Downs ball routine, and not exactly in my BCA. I'm going back to "Art of Magic" to see if I can put my finger on it. It may have to do with the number of objects, or the variety of effects.
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ithomson
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Curtis (and everyone else)

Well, it's good to see that us Bristish aren't the only ones good at sarcasm ....

I was only thinking of parts of "Beijing ...", and only some sleights really, in this context. For example, the in-the-hand-transposition-of-three-coins (or whatever it's called). I agree that as filmed the routine doesn't have the feel of a billiard-ball-type VCA, but I do think we could rip bits out of it for this problem. Or at least apply some of the logic.

Only my opinion, of course.

I'm not having a go at "Chinese" coins, by the way. My own opinion is that I wouldn't like to use them for the basic props within the routine. For the final transposition I think they'd work great, but up to then I would prefer solid, government minted coins.

Again, only my opinion.

Cheers

Ian

P.S. I haven't a clue what "Bristish" is, but I'm sure some of you can come up with something ....

Ian
Mike Wild
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I agree that using four visible coins gives the performer a little more room to move and opens up possibilities. I've settled down with 3 coins in my CA routines, more to address a time and repition issue than it is a personal preference. So I'll tackle it from that perspective.

I'll sit down with the Downs book tonight myself (Saturday night reading Downs... where the hell did my social life go?!? Smile

Mike
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Jonathan Townsend
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The option to work from a "walked out" position is worth exploring. My choice was to work from the fanned position ala Ramsay. The now-u-see-it (or Downs) gimmick may open some options in this context.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Curtis Kam
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Just reread the Downs description. You gotta love this guy. Anyone else for leaving out the part where you back thumb palm a billiard ball for a one-handed shuttle pass?

Of course, with coins this starts to sound plausible.

The "between the fingers" look is especially prominent in this routine. I think we should try to preserve that.

In this position, the look of the hands once a ball vanishes is quite a bit cleaner than when working from a fanned position.

I know it's not coins, but as I was reading the last part of the routine, the four ball color change, I thought--how cool would it be to change the red billiard balls to white silicon balls? The White balls could be bounced, demonstrating that the difference is more than paint deep, for the entire audience.
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Jonathan Townsend
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I still have nightmares trying to imagine the extremely difficult sleight that he touts, then gets all technical about where the fingers go... and when I flinch and give up, new coin moves suggest themselves.

The four ball change and using the sock/holder thing looks promissing. Even a coin dropper and walkdown of the coins might get us close to this one.
...to all the coins I've dropped here
Curtis Kam
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Ian,

Sorry, sarcasm wasn't precisely my intent--your post really did make me stop and consider whether I had already attacked this problem. I'm surprised that you know my material better than I do. I suppose I meant to be ironic, without being fascetious, certainly not entirely tongue-in-cheek. I suppose that's cleared that up.

Cheers,

Curtis
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