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vinkelhaken
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Caleb,

I just read your thoughts on Triumph (the rooms of life) and Paper balls (kid growing up) and they are very inspiring. As I read the thread - and perhaps I missed parts - I noticed that you wrote that you didn't want to rush the ideas regarding Cutting the aces. It would be very interesting to hear your further thoughts regarding that.

In order to not just be asking, I will try to make a small humble contribution regarding the Triumph discussion earlier, with the Tarot cards: What about ending up with only a blank card face up - with the closing reflection "...your future is for you to make" or "it's for you yourself to create you fate" or - regarding the rooms of life "... and you never know what's behind that door..."
Caleb Strange
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Jon, I like the litterbug idea. How about something like this for kids (6-8 yrs old)? One volunteer (Peter) assists you:

Once, a magician said to a litterbug, ‘You know it’s cool to keep stuff off of the floor. Cos then we can make it vanish, instead.’
(Go into a three ball vanish sequence – the balls of litter getting progressively larger. Then say:)
Now, of course, Peter, here, is not a litterbug, so when HE looks down to the floor, he can SEE what I threw away, and he understands how the trick was done.
(Peter discovers the method of the vanish, with some friendly help from you.)
But when the silly litterbug looked down, all HE could see was the great pile of rubbish that he’d dropped before. And so HE didn’t notice the three bits of paper, and the trick went over his head.

But that’s not quite the end of the story, Peter. Cos we know that there’s only ONE really smart way to disappear litter.
(Magically produce a trash can.)
And that’s to drop it in the bin!
(You lead the applause as Peter drops the three paper balls into the bin.)


Written to mend the ways of a young recalcitrant litter-dropper, the idea being that the opprobrium of being fooled in front of his friends is shifted onto the anti-social behaviour. All done indirectly, so that it’s not too challenging: the litterbug is the fool in the routine, not Peter. Finally, Peter rehearses his new behaviour and is rewarded with applause and attention.

That’s the theory, anyway. Of course, all this routine might do is to encourage playground performances of Slydini’s vanish, the result being litter on an industrial scale...


vinkelhaken, unfortunately, I decided not to put my 'Cutting the Aces' routine on the forum, hence its absence.

I liked your blank card idea. Maybe it's made out of Doctor Who's 'slightly psychic paper', so that different people see different futures?

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
montz
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Thinking also of Jon's Litterbug theme, there is a good gag there for people that present the balls on stage. Have someone walk past at the end of the effect, as you make the final ball vanish, with one of those litter grabber things, picking up the balls.
Caleb Strange
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A presentation for ‘Malini-Bey Chink-a-Chink’ using four ancient dice and a small wooden cup:


By the river

In Chester, there is a story that, once, a Roman soldier met a Greek merchant by the river, near the port. And together they shared a skin of wine and played a game of dice. And as in wine there is truth, so the soldier spoke of his sorrow at being stationed there, in Deva, at the western reaches of the empire, a hundred days’ march from home. And a little drunkenly he said:
‘And I’ll tell you something else, my friend. These Celts are a violent and unruly lot, and the climate here isn’t fit to ripen a grape, let alone one of your olives.’
And the merchant laughed, and looking closely at the river, he said:
‘My friend, your sorrow will pass, as, indeed, will this situation. For time is like a river, and its current is strong: no sooner does anything appear than it is swept away, and another comes in its place, which is swept away also. And even your magnificent empire, which at the moment is strong like a fort, with guards at its corners, even IT will pass. In time.’
(You have positioned the four dice into an open square on the table.)
‘Oh there you are wrong!’ said the soldier not unpleasantly. ‘The Roman Empire will be around long after you and I are gone.’
‘Most certainly,’ said the Greek. ‘But, in time, incursions will be made, and resources redirected (1st move). And when another attack comes, a corner will be left undefended (2nd move). Till, in time, a retreat will be made, to defend the centre (3rd move). But with the edges now exposed, even the best men will huddle together in fear (4th move), dreading the hour when the barbarians come and break down the last door (5th move). And then all will be caught up and swept away.’
(As you say this, you sweep up the four dice in the cup.)
The merchant sighed and took a sip of wine. And looking far away he said:
‘And then new towers will rise in the mist, and other men will come.’
(You remove the cup to show the four dice stacked together, one on top of he other.)
‘And they, too, will sip wine by the river, and play dice. And they will say to themselves that THIS time it will be forever.’
(As you say this, you knock the stack of dice over with your hand, and the game begins again.)



The sequence of moves is as in the Horowitz routine. Also, I must confess my total ignorance of dice stacking – up till now, it was one of those things that I didn’t feel the need to learn. So any references would be appreciated.

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
Curtis Kam
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MMMM Tasty. Serious, without being serious. I can see this as a central interlude in a parlor show. The mechanical requirements of stacking will not interfere with the presentation, although it is more correct to imagine stationary dice being swept up into a moving cup, rather than the opposite. (although it would be possible to drop the dice in the cup, then turn it over and shake it. Possible, but not easy.)

I like the way the stacking is used. The problem with stacking is that the first stack is the strongest. After that, they're pretty much the same. So here the stack is done once, and framed very nicely.

One way to start would be to have the dice in the cup, unseen. You place the cup on the table, mouth down, and shake it as you open the story. When it's time to introduce the dice, you lift the cup and the stack is there. You knock over the stack, and begin. Just a little bit of foreshadowing.

I learned to stack from Audley Walsh's book. Others cite Senator Crandall's manuscript. Jim Zachary's tapes are good I hear, hopefully his stack of the half-dice is in there. (you have to see this) Also, wasn't there a DVD release recently of some guy who stacks huge dice in a wastepaper basket? I'd think his disc would be amusing, at least.

Ancient dice might be difficult to stack, if too ancient. Dice showing the sme markings as Runes might be interesting.

Once again, my imagination's off and running. Thank you Caleb.
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Caleb Strange
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Curtis,

Thank you for the references and the ideas. I'm sorry about the delay. Amongst other things, they were (prematurely) reading the last rites over my computer last week.

Warm regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
Jonathan Townsend
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Save that core dump. It may contain the name of a digital diety.
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Caleb Strange
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As I have now completed some recent projects, and 'Haunted Chester' is in rehearsal, I would like to pick up this thread again. Any suggestions as to what we can look at next?

Regards,

Caleb Strange
-- QCiC --
Caleb Strange
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Okay. Let's look at Vernon's 'Impromptu Cups and Balls' this month.
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kaytracy
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Caleb, just a note, whilst not a half dollar, this mihgt give you a tickle!
http://jupiterwholesale.zoovy.com/produc......PROD2232
k
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Caleb Strange
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Kay, that quarter looks fun! Thanks for heads-up.

* * * * *

Peek a boo!

(You have before you three clear plastic cups, arranged in a pyramid, like stacking baby-toys, and also three small balls. What with the brightly coloured napkins also on the table, with which you now wrap the cups, the whole scene is reminiscent of childhood, and the sorts of parties where you end up throwing Jello.)

‘So there I was,’ you begin, ‘one morning at the toddler group with my young son, bleary-eyed and deprived of sleep. Me that is. Not him. He was full of beans. And with my foggy head I began musing about what it must be like for them, those weird little creatures – babies, I mean – when they haven’t yet learnt the way things are, nor come to accept the consensus of rules by which we understand and perceive this our natural world.’

(As you continue, you perform ‘Phase one’ of the Vernon routine, so that the three balls are vanished, one by one, only to appear magically under the three cups.)

‘I mean, what must it be like for them to not know that balls do NOT vanish – into thin air – not in this universe, anyway.’

(The balls vanished, one by one, as you said this.)

‘Nor do they reappear under each of these glasses.’

(With a wry smile, you show that the balls have magically returned. Then you move on to ‘Phase two’, wherein balls are invisibly removed from the top of each cup, only to assemble as a pair, and then as a threesome under one cup.)

‘I mean, we grown-ups have learnt that there’s a consistency to things – stuff HAS to conform to the set of rules – and well this? This is just not happening.’

(You revealed the pair.)

‘And, only rarely, very rarely, do we encounter a... wrinkle (you reveal the threesome) in the patterned fabric of the world.’

(Next, you move on to ‘Phase three’. This time, though, rather than just performing for your own amusement as suggested by the story, you now act as if you’re playing for the toddler crowd.)

‘Now, I should tell you that it was about now that I noticed that I’d inadvertently attracted quite a crowd... of little faces, looking up at me intently, in serious wonder. Every toddler in the room must have crawled towards me while I’d been playing with this stuff. And it struck me, mischievously, that I could have a bit of fun here. I mean, if these babies didn’t actually know what was and was not possible, then I could simply put a ball under each glass (this you appear to do) and dah dah! lift each glass to show the balls were still there. And I could claim that as magic too! Yet it didn’t quite work out like that...’

(You lift the cups , and to your surprise, the balls have perversely assembled, out of your control, together under just one of the cups.)

‘And as I looked up, confused, at that blank wall of faces, and those staring silver eyes, I understood that what we call reality is always a battle of wills. And that I was, at that moment, locked in mental combat with those two dozen muling Midwich faces that sought to impose on my reality the whims and wrinkles of their infantile will.’

(You move on to ‘Phase four’ as described in the book.)

‘And so concentrating fiercely I said... “And that leaves one ball under the glass.” But ah! The ball had returned. So through gritted teeth, I said, “No no. You don’t understand. It looks like the ball is taken by my left hand, but actually it stays in my right and I only pretend to put it in my pocket. Then, when I reach for the glass, I simply sneak the ball underneath.”’

(You look out in desperation as at this crowd of creepy infants.)

‘But how can you tell this to babies. So very deliberately, with the ball held at my fingertips, I slowly placed it in my pocket. Yet oh! I was confused, and even I didn’t know how many balls were now under the centre glass? Peek a boo! There were two.’

(You lift the cup to reveal two balls – this seems to distress you.)

‘And then weirdly I felt my hands moving by themselves, as if on puppet strings, and with all three balls in my pocket now, the question was under which glass would these gummy-mouthed fiends make those wretched balls appear?’

(You lift the first glass to reveal the surreal load: a large lemon.)

‘Well not this one.’

(Nervously, you lift the second glass to reveal an even larger orange.)

‘And not this one.’

(You look at the final remaining glass with some trepidation. Tentatively you lift it off the table. To your relief, there is nothing under it.)

‘Well no...’

(You turn the glass horizontally between your hands, and then slowly compress your palms together, squashing the napkin flat, and revealing that the final glass has vanished! There is an awful look on your face as you do this.)

‘... you see, somehow, there was now no glass there at all!’

(You toss the crumpled napkin onto the table, and then awkwardly you take your bow, even as you say:)

‘And like a roughly handled doll I found myself bowing, as tiny hands patted their imperious applause.’


* * *

The routine is intended to be perversely humorous – more Cuckoo Waltz than Midwich Cuckoos – though there is yet an undercurrent of something alien and strange here. If you’ve ever been to a Parent and Toddler group, you’ll know exactly what I mean. Smile (It’s life, Jim. But not as we know it.)

The only technical difference to the Vernon routine is the vanish of the glass. I think this comes as a nice surprise, though you might want to resist the temptation of vanishing all three glasses. Vernon’s use of napkins make the move relatively straightforward: it’s the standard bottle through table, of course.

The thinking behind the story was inspired, amongst other things, by observations made of my own children. I suppose one of my intentions was to explicitly explore one of the meanings I find in the venerable ‘Cups and Balls’. Namely, when you play peek a boo with things and hide them, how can you be sure that they’re still really there?

I mean, is it more magical that things can vanish when left underneath a cup, or should it surprise us just as much that they (usually) remain?

Regards,

Caleb Strange.
-- QCiC --
kaytracy
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So very real and twisted! Caleb, another wonderful tale - I can see you as a grandfather telling these tales to the youngsters, and them not sleeping for three nights!
I see parenthood has worked some of it's magic upon you! (BWah ha haaaa!) ;}
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Caleb Strange
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Kay,

I tell tales once a month or so at the local Primary school (5-11 year olds), so I'll try to find out if I've induced any juvenile insomnia yet. Smile
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Bill Ligon
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I enjoy your stories, Caleb! They are fascinating and clever.
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Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2005-10-08 08:06, Caleb Strange wrote:
Kay,

I tell tales once a month or so at the local Primary school (5-11 year olds), so I'll try to find out if I've induced any juvenile insomnia yet. Smile


Does the tooth fairy also check the spelling on homework? Does it really take a tooth for every word messed up?
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Caleb Strange
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I like that! A tooth-fairy on piece-work Smile. A healthy gnasher here, a gleaming molar there. (Fairy College don't come cheap, you know...)

Seriously, some of the stories we tell to kids fit uncomfortably with what we understand to be the prevailing cultural view:

'If you're really good this year, a strange man in an outlandish costume will creep into your room while you're asleep, and leave gifts made by a race of diminutive slaves who work in his North Pole sweatshop.'


Regards,

Caleb Strange.

P.S. There are clearly 'Chink a Chink' assembly possibilities with the ambitious tooth-fairy theme. Once upon a time, there were four children who all had the most beautiful teeth...
-- QCiC --
Jonathan Townsend
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Caleb..

Perhaps those diminutive people were once taken by that alien? Now they make toys. Be good. He KNOWS if you've been bad.
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Mark Rough
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Johnathan and Caleb,

I think you all are the people my mother always used to warn me about. . .

goes to show what she knew. Smile

Mark
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Caleb Strange
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Jonathan,

Never considered the alien angle before, but it does make sense: the technology behind that delivery run; the memory rewrites that leave adults thinking erroneously about his existence...
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ptbeast
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Caleb,

Why do I have the funny feeling that your kid is going to wind up as warped
as all mine are? Thanks for the sharing the cups and balls routine.

What is reality anyway?

Dave
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