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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Charlie Miller cup penetration • What do they think? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Alan Munro
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I've used the ball penetration move, but modified it to make it look how I thought it should look. I essentially did a retention vanish to the top of the cup, lifting the cup for the reveal, a split second later. I tried it at the magic shop, doing a demo of a cheap set of cups for mostly laymen. It resulted in a few four letter words and exclamations, so I must have been on the right track.
The Burnaby Kid
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All opinions expressed are my own...

I hate the move, but then again, I'm not a huge fan of cups and balls penetrations. It's a harder sell than it is other magic genres, since in the cups and balls, it's just as likely that you're doing whatever it is you're doing to make them vanish and reappear under the cup, except that you're just taking distance away from the equation. To put it another way, if you're capable of making a ball disappear from your hand and then reappear underneath the cup, why bother with pretending that it's penetrating just because you touch the cup?

I do think there's potential in stack sequences, but I feel the major strength of them isn't selling the idea of the penetration effect per se, but instead highlighting the fact that the ball appears to move from one cup to another with the magician apparently never having a chance to handle it in the process.
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Josh the Superfluous
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Alan, I'm going to play with that on video. That's what I was talking about when I indicated the handling wasn't the way I'd naturally do it.
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Alan Munro
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Josh, I worked to make the move look as if the ball was shoved through the top of the cup with my index finger. Apparently, the illusion looks pretty good when I perform it. The timing of the lifting of the cup is critical - lift at the moment the ball would hit the mat, if it did go through.

When done this way, depth perception is necessary to prove the ball didn't just fall in back of the cup. That's why I think this modification of the move is only suitable for close-up.
Pete Biro
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Many moons ago a very nice move was taught to me by Senor Mardo. Ball is on top of inverted cup. Very rapidly, right hand palm down open flat slams down onto ball, classic P***ing it. Hand comes up slightly so left hand can now slam down onto cup (flat palm) and while left hand is still flat on cup right fist slams down onto back of left hand. Lift left hand ball is gone. This reads cold, but in practice it is a great link move in a routine.
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Josh the Superfluous
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Okay, I just tried 3 moves:

Senor Mardo's - Amazingly easy to classic off of a cup. The moves are out of character for me, but I like to know options, especially for a jam. Very stylized, but believable with no practice. I could see someone like Rannie working it in. Thanks for passing it along Pete.

Alan's - Totaly workable. Fits my style. I definitely want to spend some time with this. Thanks Alan.

I also tried Andrew Pinard's use of Miller's move, with a final load. For those of us who find the move obvious, doing it on a larger scale seems more than blatant. He does claim to do the move on an off beat, and not to get caught up in it's importance. So from that perspective I can see where he may be coming from. However, I prefer my tricky bits on the off beat, and my effects on the beat and somewhat important. I'd have to see it in his context, but any approach I could come up with is not for me. Thanks for sharing your thoughts Andrew. Either you are incredibly talented or delusional. Smile
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sleightly
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Probably a bit of both... ;O)

ajp

Posted: Nov 10, 2008 1:00am
BTW: Josh, did you try it for laypeople or just for your mirror?

Different strokes for different folks, but you should try it under fire one thousand times before you completely dismiss the reaction... I will admit it's not for everyone (thank goodness...)

Also, I use this routine most frequently as an opener, as it establishes that some wonderful things are going to happen, the most important being that we're all going to have a great time...

ajp
Bill Palmer
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Quote:
On 2008-11-09 14:10, sleightly wrote:
This raises an interesting question: what is the best context for a move?

I have performed both the Miller penetration move and the wand through cup move in my one cup routine for almost nineteen years. I performed the routine as many times as eight to ten times a night at least three times a week for eleven years (two venues). You do the math...

That being said, I find both moves extremely convincing done on an off-beat with an appropriate sell. YMMV.

First, the wand through cup. Incredibly visual and nonsensical. Most performances end with audiences recovering from the load and then diving for the wand and cup (even though it happened three minutes before). It consistently gets a "I get how you might have sneaked those limes in without me noticing, but how the hell..." reaction. Analysis: blown away by loads, but appreciate the deeper mystery of the penetration.

Speaking of penetrations, I use the Miller penetration after the revelation of the first load (and before revelation of the second). "How did this get there? The trap door. I told you about that right? See, if you drop the lime, it goes right through..." I do the move, reloading the top lime under the cup. I then place "the lime" on top of the inverted cup and wait for the invariable, "it's not going through". Then comes the "that's because this one is getting in the way".

There are two basic premises ("premii?") in my routine, that there is a trapdoor in the cup and that anything placed inside becomes invisible. The whole routine is about proving that those concepts are valid, and both pieces are used in a very direct, visual and magical manner that reinforce the argument...

If an audience is engaged in a reasonable "dialogue", method "doping" is put on the backburner, and audiences are engaged in play that is satisfying on visceral and emotional levels (and don't forget just plain fun).

Don't overplay the magical "importance" of the moves, use it to reinforce your presentational hooks and it might surprise you how much audiences react (then again, I think that too often we take, and present, what we do way too seriously).

BTW: my routine was based on several performer's work: Danny Tong, David Roth (yup, that David Roth) and to a lesser extent Steve Dacri. I published it in my limited edition booklet "The Shared Experience" available from me and also from H & R Magic books (only 2 left as of this posting).

Fun discussion!

Andrew Pinard


That reads a lot like Johnny Thompson's load sequence.
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pepka
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My favorite thing to do is the Miller move and making the ball "grow" as it passes through. It looks pretty cool, but I have yet to figure out a way to incorporate it in my regular routine. Since I have 4 final loads, the first 3 are fruit and I always wait before the last one, and sometimes do this, just as the applause is starting to die down
sleightly
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Quote:
On 2008-11-10 01:21, Bill Palmer wrote:
That reads a lot like Johnny Thompson's load sequence.


High praise indeed.... Now I have to chase Johnny down to get his reactions (you fans of Reel Magic Magazine may recollect my two-part interview with Johnny. We spent three hours together, it felt like twenty minutes... I could spend weeks, months, years soaking up the wisdom).

For those who would like to see the context, I have collected a pastiche of video clips from various venues that illustrate the way I use the Miller move. Some are better than others (video and audio quality), but I think it will give a good sense of how audiences react. Note: the clips range from close-up for a few to parlour settings to theater performances for more than 200 people. Watch the faces and body language of the audience members and you will get a sense of how strong this can play. Granted, I have a different presentational style than most and corresponding goals for the material.

http://www.absomagic.com/videotest/video/millermove.html

It's a shame you won't be at the Yankee Magic Gathering this year Bill... We'll miss you and Carol!

ajp
Bill Palmer
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I wish I could make it. This thing with my brother has got me completely "submerged."
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Pete Biro
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I love "The Bond over the Wall!"
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Mobius303
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Awesome Andrew.
I enjoyed watching your take on it and enjoyed the presentations.
Mobius
dcjames
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Wow! Good stuff Andrew.

Nice to see your application of this move. Your timing is impeccable.

Really impressed by the way you casually prepared the bag for loading while you were pattering about the ball. Shows your experience under fire.

Impressive indeed.

dc
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Josh the Superfluous
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Quote:
On 2008-11-10 01:00, sleightly wrote:
BTW: Josh, did you try it for laypeople or just for your mirror?

Different strokes for different folks, but you should try it under fire one thousand times before you completely dismiss the reaction... I will admit it's not for everyone (thank goodness...)



Andrew, I've done the Miller move with the little ball only a few times for a lay audience. It's not in my current presentation. And before that I did Wilson's or Vernon's routines. And it's not in their's. I only did it with the large loads 2 times for a video camera.

I would never dismiss anything for everyone. I'm just selective for myself.

I've watched your videos, and you are a very good entertainer and magician (The mispronunciation during, and the time delay following the wand spin are very clever). But I don't believe many people fell for the Miller part of the effect. You have so many things going for you, your patter covers it very well, and people are distracted by the lime on the table so they don't follow the second loading. But, I saw some reactions that appeared to me that they didn't believe the penetration. Some of them appeared to be reaching for the cup to expose the second lime. If I didn't know the secrets, I wouldn't know where the loads came from, and how they get under the cup, but the Miller move would still be very obvious to me.

Re-reading your initial post, I see where you are coming from. In the story context, and your playful presentation it works. My question was, is it magical or just tricky. I feel you present it tricky, but it's fine in the context of the whole.

Thank you so much for posting that video. A lot can be learned regarding scripting, and working under varied conditions. But I'm still not buying that move.

Best,
-Josh
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sleightly
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Pete, Mobius, DC and Josh:

Thanks for the kind words... Makes me want to share more of my work with the community (I probably won't though...)

Josh:

I applaud your journey and your desire to be selective. I appreciate the sincere desire you have to explore this topic, and I hope many will reflect on the thread and use the information to help them answer their own questions to improve their performances. I did not mean to be glib when I referred to 1000 performances, I only speak from my personal perspective.

This discussion is really interesting and I think touches on the choices one makes when designing a routine. I think the more choices a performer makes, the better--more refined--the piece. I don't anticipate changing your perspective, nor do I want to. I am, however, very interested in the discussion and sincere effort to find what is "right" for each performer. Not all clothes fit all people, but most performance routines cannot be qualified by only a few trials. I think specifically of one piece in my repertoire which I was certain that I didn't want to do and "could not" do with any amount of personal conviction. After actively avoiding it, I put it into my "working" repertoire for six months. It took a full six months to move into my "finished" repertoire but has become perhaps the strongest piece I do (both magically and "relationally"). Six months is a relatively short time for me... Sometimes I will work on a piece for years before either abandoning a piece (or it abandons me by drifting out of my repertoire).

Some pieces are too "strong" for me to present in anything other than a playful manner. If not properly placed within the larger framework of a performance they can ask too much of audiences such that they are taken out of the "circle of fun" (thanks Don Alan) having a net negative impact on the experience I am trying to sculpt.

I think you raised an interesting question which will have no quantifiable answer. The broader discussion might best be framed as the distinction between "minor" and "major" magic along with a discussion of the performance styles and circumstances needed to reinforce (or engineer) the appropriate response(s).

But, we did start with a specific question (albeit absent context) so...

You make some points which are a matter of interpretation. I would probably agree with you that the move (in and of itself) is not a major mystery. That is one of the reasons I don't (and couldn't) recommend performing only this phase with any expectation of severe "conviction". That being said, I do believe that in the context of a routine it looks very magical. Timed properly, it can be a very strong optical illusion and, reinforced by clean hands and decent technique (coupled with a delay prior to the reveal of the second load), creates a reasonable amount of conviction when reinforced by the verbal suggestion. Most lay audience members cannot and do not interpret the reality (that through the use of two identical objects, a performer can create the illusion of one object penetrating a cup). If audiences are successful at doping that aspect of the trick, then they are fully aware of the method used throughout and can therefore dismiss the entire experience.

One can reasonably argue that cups and balls belongs in both minor and major categories depending on the intent of the performer; personally, I undersell the effect. Perhaps I lack the qualities to make it fall in the major category, perhaps I make the choice to undersell to elicit stronger reactions. This fact reinforces for me the notion that it is not "what" you do, but "how" you do it that is important.

That being said, let's look at conviction and the reactions in the video clips that you cite. I posted the videos so we could have something concrete to discuss. I typically don't share much with other performers in this manner, preferring to keep my work to myself (I give back in other ways). I posted the video clips to provide specific examples for discussion and I'm glad that you took the time to review them.

In my performances, after the "penetration", the hands are clean and as you indicate, the second loading becomes psychologically invisible (my words). I deliberately did not post my entire routine as we were specifically discussing the Miller penetration. If some reach for the cup, my interpretation (reinforced by literally hundreds of discussions with audiences after my performance) is that they are looking for the "trapdoor", not seeking the other lime. This is a cumulative reaction outlined initially by wand through the cup and further reinforced by lime through the cup. In the video clips, people are fairly stunned by the revelation of the second lime. If they "doped" out the penetration, then they would not react in such a manner to the revelation. I also think that, when gobsmacked, most people will literally "grasp for straws", enlisting another sense--touch--to help them eliminate their cognitive dissonance.

I found it interesting how you phrased "distracted by the lime on the table so they don't follow the second loading". In my experience, given no reason for suspicion, most accept what their eyes see and their brain interprets (thank goodness or we'd never be able to do what we do). My first job is to put them at ease so they can experience what is about to come in a non-combative way. This is my style and it prepares audiences to experience a richer, deeper sensation than possible if I set up lots of barriers by challenging them (through excessive claims) to interpret a series of puzzles. I want them to enjoy the "buzz" not "shackle" it.

Do I really want audiences to "believe" that the lime really penetrates the cup? Nope. I don't want audiences to "fall" for anything, but I do want them to enjoy the "play". Do 100% believe that the penetration is legitimate? Nope. Do I care? Nope. When I establish the premises (there he goes again), I plant a suggestion that keeps them engaged throughout and uses the visual "magic" to reinforce the suggestions.

Fundamentally, I strive to create a story in which we all play a part. I am not in control of the story, merely a catalyst. I cannot convince my audiences of anything, only they can convince themselves. The more fully my audiences commit to the story, the more they participate in the experience and we all walk away with an amazing experience that we can share with others.

And that, ladies and germs, is how I pay the mortgage.

Vernon once suggested that audiences are far too polite. He might well have been referring to this move.

As I mentioned before, your mileage might vary.

Andrew

Posted: Nov 10, 2008 11:21pm
Besides, a shared fantasy can be very pleasurable (if you know what I mean, and I think you do).

ajp
Bill Palmer
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Well said, Andrew.
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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

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Mitch Schneiter
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Wow. Thank you Andrew for sharing both the clips and your thoughts. A lot to think about. I think the looks of astonishment, and enjoyment, during the penetration move show that it can amaze. Will it amaze all. No. But that can be said for a lot of magic.
Josh the Superfluous
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Andrew,

It's a good thing that your goal in life is not to sell me on the Charlie Miller move. I doubt based on this thread that David Blaine, Uri Gellar, or Darwin Ortiz will be adding it to their acts as well. But you have brought me some enlightenment on being an entertaining performer. Your thoughts and examples will help shape the way I approach my magic going forward (code for "I'm stealing your patter." Smile)

I sincerely thank you,
-Josh
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"I hate it, I hate my ironic lovechild. I didn't even have anything to do with it" Josh #2
kentfgunn
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Andrew,

It was a genuine pleasure watching a pro with the chop cup. To see you in repeated performances only served to stress how polished your magic is. I really only get to do my schtick for magicians or their families. To see a real magician knockin' back audiences on their heels with a well-thought-out sequence, practiced and rehearsed to the nth degree: well . . . it made my day!

Sharing those clips rises above the norm. I wish only to approach your level of panache.

Bravo!
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