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Jay Mahon
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Alright, so here it the scoop!
I've not had the book long but I am absolutely amazed at the material in it. So I thought we should open up the floodgates and have a full blown discussion of some of the material here. Why? Because builders like Craig Dickens are here as well many pro performers that can shine some light on this amazing book! SO! Let's get to it.

I'm particularly impressed with the length section of essays. The distinct 2 parts of the book make it very easy to read and those essays are fantastic!

I'm also taken back by Trouble! What a trick!!

Thoughts?

J


Posted: Oct 14, 2009 11:40am
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todsky
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You already started a thread in this section called Steinmeyer's New Book, why not add to that one?
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Jay Mahon
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It's been slightly derailed, I've started this one to address the books contents specifically.

J
Illucifer
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Hi Jay.

I agree with you that this is the most important new book regarding illusions. I put Jim's material right up with his list of quintessential literature on the subject.

'Trouble' is a fantastic and unusual piece. But where do I begin? Everything in the book is worthy of study. The Optical Wedge and Optical Slot tables are evidence of the time he's spent getting to know and understand the work of the greats who came before. If you'd like to see them both in action, search for Topas on youtube under "One More" and "Foam illusion".
Jim's take on 'Princess without a Middle' utilizing the Optical Slot Table would look absolutely impossible. Brilliant. I prefer these applications to thise of simply producing someone.

I think one that might go overlooked is De Yip Loo's 'The Travel'. A fantastic and unusual piece.

My particular favorites, however, are 'The Unexpected Illusion' (I'm a Morritt nut) and 'The Paranormal'. These will be going into my show as soon as possible.

Y'know, maybe we shouldn't be discussing this stuff here. I want to selfishly keep all these wonderful ideas to myself!

Also, the Bridge concept is a beautiful thing.

There are 2 stage routines that I've been performing for the past year; 'Timmy & the Slates' as well as Jim's version of the Linking Finger Rings. Wonderful, wonderful stuff. Everything in this tome is so solid.
It's all in the reflexes.
Jay Mahon
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I agree! I hold Jim's material on a very high pedestal. It is well deserved. I'm particularly taken back by Trouble's brilliant appearance. It could have easily been left after the cuts and separating but Jim made it surroundable and revolvable!

The Toccata with a Light Bulb is an amazing effect. I just can't image the visual of this. I saw the video online but it's simply not good enough quality. A video of just Steinmeyer effects would be something beautiful to see!

I know how you feel about squandering the material. It seems too good to discuss but I have learned that once a book hovers up and past 80-90 bucks people are going to buy it or not. Regardless of any discussion.

J
Illucifer
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Toccata for Light Bulb & Paper Bag is just fantastic. This is one I also plan to add.
It's all in the reflexes.
Jay Mahon
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It's the second part to all Jim's books in one.
A wonderful follow up to Device and Illusion for practical illusions, A great follow up for Two Theatrical Lectures, expands on Wakeling principles, Adds effects that could easily be used in conjunction with Conjuring Anthology stuff, expands on the wedge base ala Jarrett.
All around brilliant!

I'm looking carefully at this book this time through and really getting down with some stuff in it.

J
JNeal
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I watched the video of Jim doing the trick with the light bulb and bag on YouTube, I am assuming this is the aforementioned Toccata effect. But what wasn't so clear to me was the ostensible purpose of the glass sheet (box) on the (relatively) thick table. Since I don't have the book...Is there a reason for this prop, that is covered in the book that wasn't included in the video? By this I mean, an explanation for it's existence that is for the audience's benefit. I already understand it's purpose vis a vis method.

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Jay Mahon
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The script includes a quick line about it being glass so you can see versus being obscured entirely.

Honestly, that question never even crossed my mind watching Jim perform the effect. I will have to take a look again.

Despite that one aesthetic hitch, which I never considered because the box just doesn't seem to play a role other than to be drawn on basically. I thought the visual nature and the fact that this is like live trick photography is remarkable!

J
JNeal
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I guess the reason it came to my mind was because at the conclusion of the effect, the bag is in the light bulb ...and it reminded me of Marvyn Roy's milk in light bulb. In that effect, the milk vanishes and appears in the bulb without any extraneous objects between the bulb and the audience...making for a remarkably clean effect

Also, the size of the objects: (light bulb and paper bag) are fairly small compared to the table and glass plate. On one hand, this makes a bigger stage picture (that's good!), on the other hand it means carrying a lot more stuff that may not appear justified to a lay audience. I'm always trying to justify the purpose of unusual objects to the audience (and justify to my aching back ...why I should carry anything but the minimum necessary props! LOL)
Thanks Jay!
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Craig Dickens
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Heres Rudy Coby with the other optical table.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUCn41E3itE

Regarding the light bulb prop rationalization. That was my initial concern when Jim brought the concept over to be built. My thought was that it be a clear blackboard and whatever is drawn on it interacts with the light. For instance you draw a bulb on front, then erase it---bulb gone, draw a bag over the bulb--bulb gets bag, etc. The original had a glass front instead of plexi so dry erase would work on it. Jim's presentation uses it quickly by drawing electric bolts on it and to his credit ( and my sheepish surprise) no one who saw it live seemed to care about a rationalization for the prop. I still think there are numerous possibilities to expand on the drawing theme especially for industrial applications ( using the lit lightbulb as a symbol of an idea, etc).
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JNeal
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I like your idea Craig for added use of the glass or plexi glass sheet. I think employing it as you suggest actually improves the concept...audience comments (or lack therof) aside. One of the theatrical rules I live by is that anything that doesn't add, must detract (subliminally or not). Craig, you are a real asset...not just for your building skill, but also for your clear thinking about magic.
JNeal
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Jay Mahon
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That was YEARS ago. I can only imagine what Jim has brewing these days if this stuff is ready to be mass printed for the magic public.

J
trey
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I wish that video was not so dark. Looks like a great effect though.

Trey
Edgar Alstad
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For the light bulb trick: If you cover the glass with a thicker film I guess you can make a story of not wanting to send too bright light towards the audience. Therefor the glass..to protect their eyes..?

How good is actually the bridge concept? I keep thinking that it is hiding a lot and therefor makes the illusions somehow not quite complete.

I alos liked the ghost story, don't remember it's name right now. Gotta love that ending. That is a magic trick with a strong, and thought thru climax!
Jay Mahon
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The bridge concept is one of those things that needs to be explored further. Jim have a very interesting self levitation. As Lance Burton says, run it up the pole and see who salutes it.

I don't think we can appreciate the Bridge until we have seen it in action.

It's too bad these books don't come with videos or pictures of the completed props. The effect changes when its actually made of course.

I look forward to seeing Trouble performed, as well as The Unexpected Illusion. Jim's really outdone himself with the Morrit-esque material in this book.

J
Illucifer
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Morritt was a genius and an artist, no two ways about it. He didn't allow himself to be tied down to the math and formulas of which others stayed safely within the boundaries. Charles Morritt understood that these lines could be teased and tested and pushed and, as a result, achieved some amazing, and long forgotten, results.

I can't wait to introduce 'The Unexpected Illusion' into our show.

As for the Bridge, there is plenty of room to play and, I suspect, the idea that the entire space is seen can be conveyed as the cloth is moved up and down. It's never seen all at once, but that, along with the effects taking place, overlap and build a picture in the spectator's mind, effectively filling in the gaps. Of course, I don't live in a fantasy world, and I realize that spectators are curious and do wonder how things are being accomplished. A lot of this mystery would be down to the strength of the performance. I also think, though, that the minimalist nature of it has tremendous appeal.

Now, having just made the previous statement regarding minimalism, I will now take the opposite tack. On the matter of 'Toccata for Light Bulb & Paper Bag', I absolutely understand the desire to justify the elements on the stage. However, I agree with Jim that magicians need not fear or despise apparatus, as has come into fashion of late. People love good magic, and certainly expect to see some unusual and interesting things in a magic show. I think the apparatus in a magic show is a wonderful thing that enhances it and adds production value and even mystery, simply by its presence: "I wonder what that's for? What do you suppose he'll do with that?"
Now, is that to say that a show using only objects that might be found in any ordinary home is somehow deficient? Of course not. It all comes down to you and your show and what you're presenting to the audience. But, I happen to believe that an interesting bit of apparatus can be just that, with no further explanation, should you choose. We are magicians. Like mad scientists, we have some unique and unusual things and the audience is curious to see them in action.

My partner and I perform the Origami illusion. I think we can all agree it is a modern classic and a near-perfect model of deception. While I do have a story that describes the apparatus and even gives it a feaux-historical context, I believe I could simply introduce it and perform the effect. Assuming the performance was good and engaging, the audience would be amazed and I doubt they would say to themselves "What a load of crap. I've never seen one of those before." In the case of Origami, though, I've chosen to speak through the routine because I believe it benefits greatly from it. The fact is, I talk through all of our illusions, except a quick proscenium piece: Larry White's Tri-Section, which is a rather odd-looking apparatus. No matter, though. The audience is instantly curious and they catch on right away and come along for the ride.

Can I get an 'Amen', Craig? Have you got my back on any of this?
It's all in the reflexes.
JVHarrison
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As usual, Jim's work in Technique & Understanding is painstaking, thoughtful and meticuolously researched. I love 'Toccata for Light Bulb & Paper Bag', but I had the same thought about the glass when I read the description. I would justify the glass with an off-handed comment that "because of the energies involved, the light bulb has been known to shatter from time to time, so the insurance company requires me to protect the folks in the first few rows."

I have real trouble with the bridge concept. I hope I'm proven wrong a hundred times, but I don't think either of the illusions in the book utilizing the concept are "foolers." I think someone out there could make it work, but it will require a little more than what Jim has provided to make it a really viable principle.
Jay Mahon
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I certainly do! I think a lot of close up magicians move to stage and with the naturalist minimalist mind set that leaks over into their stage work.

I am a huge fan of GOOD card manipulation, Billiard ball manipulation, etc. I even think that every good stage act NEEDS these types of things to allow the audience to connect with the performer in a very personal way. Lance Burton's intro to The Act says it all. "While not the flashiest it is the most difficult..." Audiences pick up on that BUT you need to vary it. Have some exciting props. Take a lesson from David Copperfield, as per the recent issue of Genii or Magic with his island. "It's all about the story"
People like stories, and if you can link some great ones to your magic you will go far. In Europe story matters too but not quite the same way as it is in North America. I would think that's due to the lack of entertainment venues we have putting on variety acts compared to Europe.

I'd love to add Toccata for Light Bulb and Paper bag to my show as well as The Unexpected Illusion, Sudoku Triumph, and Trouble. But as per usual, budget has to step in and mess it all up! I will certainly be adding Sudoku Triumph and likely Toccata for Light Bulb, but let's see what happens!

I'm already salivating at the possibilities for the Optical Slot principle! Diabolical Spirit cabinet anyone? I'd like to see how some of these principles might be applied to car productions. Speaking of which. The New Orleans Forumla is going to be offered to corporate clients asap!

J
JL608
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Just wanted to mention that Jim's "optical table" is truly amazing. I've been aware of it for sometime now, as back in the early '90s I purchased the center cut illusion which Rudy Coby had used. It was hard to believe you could get that effect with a single mirror. It didn't seem possible.

Jim bought the table back from me a few years ago. If anyone was at MAGICLive,
it was on display at Bill Smith's booth as it's available again for sale.

I'm glad the work on such an ingenious design has finally been published.

Joe
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