Fröhliche Becher-Tage?!

Der Corona-Virus gibt uns immerhin gerade reichlich Gelegenheit, viele unserer alltäglichen Routinen zu hinterfragen und alternative Wege auszuprobieren. Warum zukünftig nicht auch mal beim Thema Zauberkongresse und -seminare?

Ich habe mich gefragt, ob zwischen diesen etablierten Formaten mit all ihren Vor- und Nachteilen noch Luft ist für ein “Zwischending”. Meine Idee: Statt bunt-beliebigen Verkaufskongressen – oder ergänzend dazu – monothematische Ein-Tages-Workshops mit begrenztem Teilnehmerkreis.

Am Beispiel “Becherspiel” könnte ein solcher Workshop etwa so ablaufen:

1. Video-Einstieg (und/oder Videos oder Live-Demonstrationen nach jedem Programmpunkt)

2. Historie und Bedeutung des Becherspiels in der Zauberkunst

3. Klassische Routinen und ihre Schöpfer (inkl. Detailanalysen)

4. Etwas Kultur: Das Becherspiel in der bildenden Kunst

5. Besonderheiten von Chop-Cup- und Zwei-Becher-Routinen

6. Praktische Tipps für das Becherspiel am Tisch / im “Salon” / auf der Bühne / auf der Straße

7. Schlussladung: Eine Parade neuer Griffe, Variationen und Präsentationsideen (unter Beteiligung des Fachpublikums)

Ich für meinen Teil hätte reges Interesse und große Lust, daran oder an ähnlich gestalteten monothematischen Veranstaltungen teilzunehmen!

Dies als kleine Anregung, die jemand hoffentlich in der Zukunft einmal aufgreifen und weiterdenken mag. Vielleicht ja die Stiftung Zauberkunst?

Andererseits gilt es zu bedenken: Vielleicht sind für so eine tiefe Auseinandersetzung nicht sehr viele Tricks und Themen geeignet? Wenig ist so vielseitig wie das Becherspiel. Insofern könnte ein ganzer Workshop-Tag über Theorie und Praxis des Ladens und Stehlens der DS vielleicht schnell ermüden? (Aber als Ermutigung könnte man ja vielleicht den “Goldenen Daumen” für eine echte Spitzen-Darbietung ausloben!)

Kurzfassungen dieses Konzeptes sind sicher auch für Zirkelabende denkbar und machbar. Es muss ja nicht immer gleich enzyklopäisch sein! Sonst gipfelt das Ganze am Ende noch in den Tollen Tübinger Thumbtip Tagen, dem Wuppertaler Wasserzeitungs-Wochenende oder gar im fünftägigen Remscheider Ringe-Piez…


 

Faking Impossible Bottles…

I have hesitated for a while whether to share this cheap cheat bit here or not, because if you have ever dealt seriously with the subject of “impossible bottles” and its masters like Harry Eng, you will know that it’s an absolute no-go and a disgrace to temper with the bottle you are trying to stuff stuff into in any way!

Yet it is understandable that not everybody with just a passing interest in this matter has the means or know-how, not to mention the patience, to master this craft and art. (I have actually tried it, and it is both an arduous and satisfying experience. You can read a bit more about it here.)

So for those easy come, easy go folks among you, let me tell you that there’s a fake “bottle” out there (it’s not even made of glass) that you can easily fill with the biggest and most complex objects, which should make for a nice display on any shelf. This bottle I came across is produced by Peleg Design (they also produce other magic-themed paraphernalia), and its shabby secret is not actually designed to be hidden well:

ImpBottle_ch

Let’s consider this as a beginner’s ticket into the wonderful world of impossible bottles. But please do not trick yourself into believing that you have accomplished anything magical by filling and displaying this kind of bottle!


 

Zauberhafte Verkehrserziehung

Autobahn
Wer in diesem Symbol einen Hasen im Zylinderhut erkennt, ist hier richtig!

“Der Zauberzwerg”-Macher Volkmar Karsten lässt uns in seinem wunderbaren Blog zur Kinderzauberei gerade quasi live an der Entstehung seines neuen Programms zum Thema Straßenverkehr und Verkehrssicherheit teilhaben – ein spannendes Experiment.

Hier sind ein paar lose Trick- und Gag-Ideen von mir zum Thema, teilweise aus alten Notizbüchern zusammengetragen:

  1. Am Zauberstab ist eine Fahrradklingel befestigt, die vor jedem Zauberspruch betätigt wird.
  2. Der Zauberer kommt mit einem halben Fahrrad auf die Bühne, bestehend nur aus Vorderrad, Gabel, Lenkstange und Lenker, außerdem einem Ständer zum Abstellen. An der Lenkstange ist ein Korb für Requisiten angebracht.
  3. Die “Economy-Variante” besteht nur aus Lenkstange und Lenker mit Hupe oder Klingel, womit der Künstler unüberhörbar in den Saal “einfährt”.
  4. Eine “magische Fahrradlampe” entwickelt ein Eigenleben und geht scheinbar immer wieder von selbst an oder aus.
  5. Ein Riesenzauberstab entpuppt sich beim Entrollen als tragbarer Zebrastreifen.
  6. Zur „Entstehungsgeschichte“ des Zebrastreifens kann man natürlich auf den Trick “Zebra Silk” zurückgreifen.
  7. Aus einer als Ampelkasten dekorierte Fantasta erscheint Stück für Stück das kompliziert-skurrile Innenleben einer “modernen” Ampel, oder sie dient fortlaufend der Produktion benötigter Requisiten.
  8. Mit Goldins “Double Color Changing Silks” oder auch den Chinesischen Schnurstäben kann der kreative Zauberer “magische Vorläufer” der heutigen Ampel präsentieren.
  9. Mit ein paar kleinen Verkehrshütchen (auch “Leitkegel” oder “Pylone” genannt; gibt’s im Spielwarenhandel) lässt sich nicht nur die Spielfläche themengerecht abgrenzen; auch ein spezielles Becherspiel kann damit vorgeführt werden.
  10. Mittels einer Schülerlotsen-Kelle kann man selbstverständlich prima einen Kellentrick vorführen – mit maximaler Sichtbarkeit!
  11. Auch eine grell leuchtende Warnweste bietet sich als thematisch passendes Requisit an – vielleicht für eine kleine Quick-Change-Einlage oder eine (wie auch immer begründete) Befreiung oder Entfesselung?
  12. Von Thomas Vités bekanntem “Exit”-Trick besitze ich die Variante, bei der das Schild am Ende aufgeklappt wird und dort die Abbildung eines Polizisten zu sehen ist – und der Künstler steckt seinen eigenen Kopf  durch ein Loch im ausgeklappten Kartonbogen und wird dadurch zum Polizisten!
  13. Der großartige britische Kinderzauberer John Kimmons (“Kimmo”) bietet einen wunderbaren Vorhersagetrick namens “The Big Race” mit Kinderbeteiligung an, und eine der Varianten stellt ein Autorennen dar. Nicht ganz verkehrsregelkonform mit Kindern am Steuer, aber ein großes interaktives Spektakel, das z.B. immer das Geburtstagskind gewinnt!
  14. Aus den (dank lateralem Denken, s.o.) teilweise zweideutigen Verkehrszeichen lässt sich ja die eine oder andere pikante Geschichte für Erwachsene erzählen (erhältlich unter dem Titel “Die Sache mit dem Verkehr”, glaube ich); mit etwas Fantasie lässt sich auch etwas Lustiges und Kindgerechtes entwickeln, wobei gleichzeitig wichtige Informationen zu einzelnen Verkehrsschildern vermittelt werden.
  15. Alternativ ist es möglich, nach dem Prinzip des “McCombical Decks” eine wunderbare Schilder-Übereinstimmung (mit Aufsitzer) zu inszenieren.
  16. Ebenso könnte auch der bekannte Kartensteiger auf dem Zeichenblock („Cardiographic“ von Martin Lewis) mit Verkehrszeichen vorgeführt werden.
  17. Das Thema „Feuerwehr“ fasziniert viele Kinder. Warum nicht mal die eigene Seilroutine als „Der widerspenstige Feuerwehrschlauch“ vorführen? Ein auf dem Kopf festgeschnalltes Blaulicht sorgt dabei für große Heiterkeit!
  18. Ein abschließender Gedanke: Ein reines “Erziehungsprogramm” zum Thema Straßenverkehr ermüdet nach einer halben Stunde vielleicht sogar die größten Streber unter den Kleinen… Warum daher nicht auch einen Trick einstreuen, der noch morgens zuhause spielt, also vor dem Schulweg, oder dann später in der Schule? (Mein “Pausensnack Mental” bietet sich da beispielsweise an, mehr dazu an anderer Stelle). Außerdem lassen sich so auch noch problemlos weitere Requisiten wie z.B. ein Schulranzen, eine Brotbox oder ein Tafeltrick ins Programm integrieren.

 

Revealed: Magic Tricks Displayed on Playing Cards (4)

Click here for Part 1, here for Part 2 and here for Part 3!

The final take on exciting research revelations from the Schaffel College for Industrial Pasteboard Paraphernalia in Ryffling, Denmark on the magic tricks which artists shown on our familiar court cards have supposedly been performing for up to hundreds of years, yet unnoticed until today!

Further Pasteboard Secrets

Despite the important breakthroughs in magic and playing card history featured in the previous three episodes, some other court card motifs remain the subject of intense scholarly debate for the time being, explains visiting postgraduate fellow, Tang Acapao, who also happens to be a passionate card magic amateur. Here they are:

Jacks of Diamonds and Clubs: Pole Levitation?

Jacks_Pole

In some cases, the diagonally mirrored images of all court cards make it difficult to identify the provenance of the originally featured magic trick, especially when both arms or hands would actually exercise the same movements. That’s why, in this case here, the pasteboard researchers are still debating whether the Jacks of Clubs and Diamonds are both performing an early version of the two-hands pole levitation, as junior researcher Les Kerfol speculates in his forthcoming B.A. thesis.

Queens of Clubs, Hearts and Diamonds: Flower Act?

It is also conceivable that the three Queens holding flowers so obviously inconspicuously in their hands were actually three sisters performing a lavish act with spring flowers or are shown here right after performing a choreographed triple silk-to-flower effect. Researcher Anna Gramm is still devoting much of her scholarship time to this particular florid question.

Joker King on a Bicycle: A Grand Illusion?

Joke_r

Another mystery yet unsolved: Why is the USPS Joker depicting another King, and why is he riding, among all vehicles in royal possession, an ordinary bicycle? “We have yet to determine when and how the first bicycle prototypes were introduced to the French and English Courts,” says the teams’ documentation officer, Sheldon Gitlip. “We are also checking some Court magicians’ papers for possibly lost information on early productions of performers using vehicles. But it really takes a maximal maven to find that needle in a haystack!”

Team leader Gioberto Robbi and his young research assistant, Farhad Fahrar, however, are on a different trail here. “The banishment of Philadelphia from Berlin and his famous exodus through the city gates got us thinking,” Robbi says. “Maybe a fun-and-riddle-loving King like Louis XIV of France rode out of his lavish ballroom at one end, while his then still unknown, but not yet incarcerated twin brother reappeared at the other end two seconds later, thus demonstrating the King’s legitimate absolute power over time and space to his astonished courtiers!” He hastens to add, “Of course this is, unlike our other findings, pure conjecture at this point.”

We hope that time will tell and that these imaginative, undisputed card experts will continue to unshuffle further secrets at Schaffel College, and you will make up your own mind about this paradox pasteboard pocus!

Be that as it may, but from now on you will certainly look at your familiar court cards from a different angle, won’t you?!

<<>>>


Addendum:

Some more facts you probably didn’t know about playing cards (with a big thank you to the real Reinhard Müller!)


 

Revealed: Magic Tricks Displayed on Playing Cards (3)

Click here for Part 1 and here for Part 2!

Further exciting research revelations from the Schaffel College for Industrial Pasteboard Paraphernalia in Ryffling, Denmark on the magic tricks which artists shown on our familiar court cards have supposedly been performing for up to hundreds of years, yet unnoticed until today!

King of Hearts: Jastrow Illusion (held vertically!)

KingofHearts_frame

This discovery tracked down over time by researcher Juanita Marz triggers another necessary rewrite of a chapter of magic history: Obviously, the venerable optical illusion described first by Joseph Jastrow in 1892 had already been around for one hundred years plus before that and was performed as an amusing diversion and paradox at royal courts! “Had the pieces been held horizontally and parallel to each other, we would have advanced much quicker on this magic way,” admits Marz.

KingofHearts_close

In this context, the third hand with a presumed sword in the background, behind the King’s head, has been identified as a large knife, which was probably used to cut a long strip of paper into two pieces of equal length before performing the illusion.

King of Spades: The Indian Rope Trick (under Glass!)

KingofSpades

You have to marvel at both the ingenuity of the creator one hundred or more years ago and of the scholar who finally unlocked this genius mystery! Likely 999 out of 1,000 contemplators of this card would claim that this King was simply holding his sword and looking at it somewhat quizzically, if not hypnotically. But, owing to her intimate knowledge of magic history, Fay Knjus, the youngest member of the research team, had a sudden brain wave “right after studying Dr. Samuel Hooker‘s legendary illusions,” as she recalls. “Then suddenly it dawned on me that what we had always decoded as an ordinary sword was in fact a piece of string rising under a glass dome in best Dr. Hooker fashion! Both the strange shape of the dome and the uncommon knob for holding it had been misdirecting us for a long time.”

KingofSpades_close

Further research has yet to determine whether this strange design was caused by slip of the drawing artist or an imprecise briefing, or whether these artful versions of early portable glass domes simply got lost over time.

A tiny dot way up the rising string on an early print run of these cards may indicate that a little boy figure was probably once attached to it, maybe climbing to its top before vanishing, just like in the centuries-old famous story of the Indian or Chinese Rope Trick.

<<>>>

Check out the final Part 4 with more exciting discoveries!


 

 

Revealed: Magic Tricks Displayed on Playing Cards (2)

For Part 1, click here!

Further exciting research revelations from the Schaffel College for Industrial Pasteboard Paraphernalia in Ryffling, Denmark on the magic tricks which artists shown on our familiar court cards have supposedly been performing for up to hundreds of years, yet unnoticed until today!

King of Diamonds: Palming Cards

KingofDiamonds

This image was more tricky to decipher than the others for the researchers, as it was hiding its secret in plain sight! But team member Liam Erdnus finally cracked the code: The artist’s hand is evidently shown empty, yet the body profile (necessarily turned sideways) and the familiar position of the flat hand and the fingers tightly pressing against each other can only lead to one scholarly conclusion: This artist is an early master of the back palm, and he is just about to make a playing card (or even more?) appear!

KingofDiamonds_close

According to research fellow Grennart Leen, it is not unlikely that this particular image served as the inspiration for young Harry Houdini to bill himself as the “King of Kards” in 1895. He also sharply rejects the notion recently suggested by Prof. Silke Kloeppelt from the University of Yarnmouth that the diamond pip is supposed to represent a red handkerchief which has just appeared out of the the artist’s empty hand, unfolding in flight. “This idea is really off-center! It escapes me how any serious scholar of our pasteboard art could come up with woofledust like that,” Leen says in the upcoming paper in Glibecière.

The Jack of Hearts: Color-Changing Silk

JackofHearts

This image has fooled and mislead many a scholar — until now! Traditionalists among cardboard historians have always held up the romantic belief that the Jack of Hearts represents a sensitive, woeful lover writing moanful poems to his mistress crush with a quill. Duh!

Magic researchers know better now. Just look at the tight grip of the hand: “You don’t hold a feather in an unnatural position like that when you want to write something,” explains junior researcher Reinhard Pithart-Muellinger. Thus, the closed fist likely covers an early dye tube, and what we see is the artful display of two different silks as one in order to perform the now classic color-changing silk trick!

It is wisely assumed that the lower tip of the silk was once printed in red color to emphasize the effect in action, but this detail obviously got lost over time in the declining craft of fine printing of playing cards, as it moved on into the age of less careful mass production.

JackofHearts_close

<<>>>

Check out Part 3 now with more exciting discoveries!


 

 

Revealed: Magic Tricks Displayed on Playing Cards (1)

Cardicians and card historians, take notice: Recent research conducted at the Schaffel College for Industrial Pasteboard Paraphernalia in Ryffling, Denmark has revealed astonishing facts about some of the key images of our beloved standard poker playing cards: Most of the men and women on court cards are actually portrayed performing magic tricks! And the biggest trick of all: This open display of the magical skills of some Jacks, Queens and Kings has gone wildly unnoticed in our card-crazy community for at least 100 years!

“In the light of these exciting revelations, the history of some classics of magic may need some serious reshuffling,” says Gioberto Robbi, research director and current chef artist in residence at Schaffel College. The results of his team’s research are currently under benevolent peer review and will likely be published in an upcoming issue of the renowned magic history magazine, Fibecière.

Thanks to our tightly-knit global research network, we are happy and proud to offer you an exclusive sneak preview here over the next few days. Read along and marvel with us why we all haven’t spotted these obvious performances from the past before?!

The Jack of Spades: Paddle Trick

JackofSpades

His magic prop is obviously a paddle, likely made of wood, big enough for good visibility in the spacious parlors and ballrooms at any Renaissance court. The artist displayed here is left-handed and just about to execute the paddle move.

JackofSpades_close

Robbi and his research team believe that the diamond shape in the middle of the paddle could not only be made to appear and disappear, but also to jump freely to the top and the bottom of the paddle. This is possible due to some clever flipping mechanism probably furnished by Johann Gaugann the Elder in the early 18th century! (Further proof pending.)

The Queen of Spades: Torn and Restored Paper

QueenofSpades

Once set on the magic trail, it doesn’t take an expert to realize that the female artist on display here has just torn a royally imprinted sheet of fine handcrafted paper, and she is about to magically restore it instantly.

QueenofSpades_close

Notice the flowers which are held in each hand, apparently serving, just like a magic wand, for misdirection and for the concealment of the secret paper ball in one hand!

Robbi speculates that this trick may have been a simple forerunner of the later and more elaborate illusion of cutting, burning and restoring a royal silk handkerchief.

<<>>>

Check out Part 2 now with more exciting discoveries!


 

 

Some Jedi Magic for Star Wars Day Today!

Maytheforce
Screenshot from japanmagic video mentioned below

Yes, it’s Star Wars Day today: the 4th of May!

That’s because of the epic quote, “May the Force be with you,” in case you didn’t know. Nerdy, really nerdy…

Anyway, here are some older but funny videos of Tenyo tricks adapted with Star Wars toya, produced by two notoriously creative YouTube magicians, japanmagic and Magic Patagonia. Enjoy!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ca6mWRkcSd0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YWTH4Q35td8

And here’s a dramatic Lego Star Wars fanboy presentation for parlor and stage that I have just found, and it also made me smile:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOx3VgzCK6o

Sharing you must, young Jedi!

Questionable Bonus: The Duck of Death Star

I hesitate to admit it, but lightyears ago I had a rather off-beat Star Wars-themed Card Duck routine, the duck representing an early, less lethal version of the Death Star (but she looked a bit malign). So the rebels had to feed the duck some kind of (drawn and signed) food bomb. By the power of THE FORCE, the duck actually picked the bomb when she was supposed to take on provision from a cargo spaceship… and then she blew up through gastrospasms (figuratively, as I was on a budget). Lord Vader, stroking his pet rubber duck, had a bad day and breathed heavily… Mission completed!

(Play soundtrack here and fade out…)


 

Card Magic: McDonald’s (Tr)Aces – Fast Food for Thought

Aces Three_FS

Every cardist knows this classic of card magic, but many have probably missed so far both the inherent discrepancy and a choice of effect that come with it when performed as everybody else does. This aspect was briefly discussed within a bigger thread on the Genii Forum recently.

The regular description of the trick goes something like this (quoted from Magicpedia here): It is “an Ace Assembly … where four Aces are shown, placed face up on the table, and covered with three other cards. One by one the Aces vanish from three piles, assembling together under the fourth pile held by the spectator.”

Now, what is the effect?

I think this describes the effect well from a spectator’s perspective. The key word is “vanish” here. What actually happens in most versions, though, as some magicians were quick to point out, is that the Aces do not actually vanish; they (are supposed to) transpose with three other cards which were (seemingly) put onto the fourth Ace in the beginning. To make it even more complicated, the way the trick is usually presented, this effect only happens in hindsight, once it is completed, that is with rediscovering the three Aces in the fourth pile. Until then, the perceived effect was much rather either a one-by-one vanish or a transformation of each Ace into a different card. So the effect changes as the trick progresses: Three individual vanishes or changes turn out to have been one third of a final transposition. Quite confusing, ey?

Two more thoughts from the discussion to make matters even worse: If the Aces actually vanished (= three cards left per pile) and then just reappeared in the fourth pile, there should be a total of seven cards then, not four, right? If not, what happened to the three indifferent cards that took their seats there in the beginning? Where did they go, and when and where will they return?

As mentioned above, this is likely nothing spectators will ever wrestle with; they may be content to take home that the three Aces somehow magically found their way from their piles to their pal in the fourth pile. No questions asked.

Structural and visual clarity

Right, so what’s the big deal? No big deal, but I feel it is our responsibility to carve out the intended effect as clearly as we can. If this is about an artful transposition, we probably need to stage it as one and make this point clearer visually. But many of us simply show a bunch of high black number cards, which are impossible to remember (for a good reason), so they cannot contribute to the concept of transposition which demands that you can clearly identify the objects involved in order to acknowledge the final effect.

Thus, a better option could be to use, for example, three Jacks, Queens and Kings for the three piles and then add the fourth Jack, Queen and King (seemingly) to the fourth Ace. If we now turn the three Aces into the missing Jack, Queen and King in their three respective piles and find the four Aces together, the transposition effect would be hard to miss, wouldn’t it?

Another option (which has even more visual merit and clarity, I think) would be to put three blank-faced cards onto the fourth Ace and then turn each of the other three Aces into a blank.

However, I do prefer the plot of vanishing the three Aces from their piles, which means that three cards instead of four are put to the table after each vanish. That’s why I like the versions of Gary Ouellet/Chris Kenner/David Copperfield and Jean-Pierre Vallarino so much. I never tire of watching the sheer beauty and artistic quality of the card changes. Both also offer fine solutions for the finale.

I believe this concept has two extra points worth mentioning: First, vanishing one of four playing cards seems more impossible (or at least more difficult) than changing it into a different one. Second, you don’t see the climax of the Ouellet routine coming, whereas the ending of the traditional version suffers slightly from its predictable outcome after the vanish (or whatever) of the third Ace.

Another easy version to climax without a discrepancy would be to find the three “lost” Aces in the card box, together with the formerly isolated “leader Ace”, as has been suggested in the Genii Forum discussion.

In short, this is an interesting example of how the planned and the perceived plot may differ significantly from the magician’s and the spectator’s point of view. Plus, we are reminded here that only minor changes in handling or presentation can actually change a trick’s effect from vanishes or transformations to reappearances or transpositions. And because of that we are also reminded to always keep the effect, the handling and the visual imagery as clear as possible to avoid any confusion, which may only diminish the perceived effect and its recall later on the spectator’s side.

A clear vertical version

As a side note, here’ another visual version that also gives the trick a nice vertical dimension of presentation for parlor or stage: Put each Ace into a wine glass with their face towards the audience. Add three cards each to the first three Aces and put a silk over the glass with the fourth Ace (which seems to be left on its own). Take one pile after the other from their glasses, make the three Aces disappear one by one and then return each pile of only three cards to their glasses. Now lift the silk briefly to display the leader Ace again in the fourth glass. Then whisk away the silk over the glass as you rotate it in familiar fashion and show another Ace up front. Take out the pile and slowly spread all four Aces. Ta-daa! (Obviously, this handling would call for another D/F with the same Ace on its front and back.)

Just some thoughts.


 

Magic vs. Cheating: Why Corona Isn’t Good for Me…

Scrab

Locked down at home, on cold magic turkey, strange thoughts keep running through my head.

Yesterday, I found myself imagining how I’d cheat my own family (yuk!) at Scrabble by switching in my change-bag and keeping the word YAK in the secret compartment for 45 extra points on triple word bonus…

But then I fancied my wife would find out at once and accuse me because I had used my time-honored bag with that obnoxious handle…

Argh!