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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Boxes, tubes & bags » » How to choose a "Cube a Libre" ? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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gimpy2
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I have had some requests to put my version of the Cube a Libre back on the market. So I will be building a few of them, should anyone want one just contact me.

Funsway,

I did have the pleasure of seeing your routine of the C.A.L. at Magic Vally Ranch.....Fantastic take on the cubes.

Gimpy
Sealegs
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I probably in a minority here but I just don't get the attraction of this effect for an audience.

I can of course see that a very puzzling series things happen with these two sets of numbered blocks but I haven't seen anyone who has found a way to present this that would in any way make me care about what's going on.

I'm happy to think that I might just be missing something here as Geoffrey Durham has my utmost respect with both his selection of magic effects and the way he constructs his routines for those effects... but the Selbit Blocks effect (when did it become Cuba a Libre?), for me, has always seemed to happen in a sort of presentational vacuum.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Bill Hegbli
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Sealegs, Your postings seem to have the same theme, thinking we have to convince you a trick is good or not. Every trick is not for everyone, it as simple as that.

I was much like this when I started out in magic, then found that some tricks I passed over were worthy of my consideration. Maybe you have just not gotten there yet.

If you want to find out when it changed, use Google and search, there are a number of forums on this topic and it is mentioned by others as to the history, and who decided to call it the name they have chosen.
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Sealegs
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Bill...please... I realise that you aren't to know that I have over 25 years experience in the business, continue to perform successfully on the worlds largest cruise ships and consult and write for some of the magic world's best and most established magicians and the TV shows they appear in, but even without you knowing this your above post is still unnecessarily patronising.

I've made a quick review of my past posts and it hasn't revealed any theme to me other than one of trying to be both helpful where I can be, and openly honest where it seems appropriate and relevant.

I'll assume that you were trying to be genuinely helpful rather than additionally patronising for pointing me towards the worlds biggest and universally well known online search engine as a possible source of information on the change of name from the Selbit Blocks to Cuba a Libre. I had thought that putting my question/comment in brackets would have indicated that I meant it as a rhetorical aside rather then an actual request for the information but I realise that such subtleties can get lost on the page.

While I understand that every trick is not for everyone... I also understand that many magicians have difficulty seeing what can be brought to an effect, or, that if an effect is really puzzling, like this one, that anything needs to be brought to such an effect.

There are some effects in magic that more readily lend themselves to allow the performer to impose themselves on the proceedings, routine and action that happens during the course of the effect. This trick, in my opinion, is not such an effect and as such it can make be problematic when one sets about creating a presentation for it.

This is born out by for me by the presentations of this effect that I have seen, including those from performers who I have a huge respect and regard for.

My reason for raising this issue in this thread is to point out that while the effect itself can be very puzzling the nature of the effect and the nature of the apparatus, makes it hard to create a presentation of it that is anything other than a demonstration of the weird things that happen with these tubes and blocks. While this may be okay for some, to me the result is that the effect appears to take place in a presentational vacuum. In such situations the effect in question ceases to be a vehicle for the performer and when this happens the performer inevitably ends up reduced to being merely the operator of the props.

I just thought that such a point of view, even if you don't agree with it, is worth making. My hope in doing so is that those that perform this, or are considering performing this, will set about trying to impose themselves into whatever routine they devise for it.

My apologies to anyone reading this thread if they find this post is similar in theme to my previous posts of trying to be both helpful and honest. Smile Smile
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
Harry Murphy
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Neil great points! I totally understand what you mean. Cube-a-Libre (aka Bewildering Blocks, Seilbet Blocks, etc.) is more an interesting show-and-tell brainteaser than jaw dropping magic trick. Due to the mechanical and repetitive nature of the trick it is difficult to impose one’s performing persona on it.

Nevertheless a few performers have indeed turned it into a magical happening. Geoffrey Dunham is an example. And others have managed to turn it into a real personality piece that takes the spectator along for a fun ride (Bob Sheets being one example).

Still even with the best routine it is not jaw dropping magic. The better routines make it less a puzzle but it is still holds those elements.

I see it (and use it) as an interlude piece to let the audience relax and enjoy themselves a bit between rock-um-sock-um routines. I have always managed to get some good laughs, a WTF or two, and good applause at the end with it. Still I don’t see it ever being a standalone piece for me. It is not something I’d do for a TV spot if I was asked to do just one trick.

I think (and agree with your subtext) that there are literally hundreds of prop-based tricks that are stronger and more magical than Cube-a-Libre. Heck, most of those are way easier to learn and perform too.

A real downside to this beast of a trick is that it doesn’t pack small and requires table space to perform (two tables as I tend to perform it). So it is a PIA trick to fly and perform.

Another downside is if you mess up the rhythm of the trick there is no recovery. This is a piece that you have to know cold!

For all its downsides I’ll stick with it because it is visually interesting, has a several surprises (maybe even magical surprises), a laugh or three, and a tidy, surprising ending.
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Bill Hegbli
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I do believe Neil is only viewing this trick from one side. Magic has many sides to every trick. A demonstration trick of this nature could be compared to many prop and none prop tricks in magic that only are demonstrated, without any kind of audience participation. This does not make it a bad trick in form.

If you would compare this trick in the same class as the famous "Temple Screen", it cannot be inspected or requires any audience participation. They just show the inside and outside and produce some things, then show the inside and outside again.

Cube-a-Libre is similar, show the tubes show the blocks. Arrange a number of blocks, the cover the other stack and reveal they match in sympathy to one another. Show tubes - show blocks etc.

Professor Nitemare or English magicians know it as Equal Unequal Ropes, is rope trick that can be inspected, but I don't bother, I present it as a demonstration. Great reaction, with the magical stretching.

During manipulations, this is also demonstration magic, produce a fan of cards, show and discard, produce more.

I have been looking for years for a "box" type trick that is a magic effect that does something else beside producing silks, rope, etc. This trick is actually a demonstration of magical happening.

I really like the German model with the sideways number, seemingly this causes great tension for the audience. I can't believe they do not yell out, that the number is position wrong. This really heightens interest and pulls the audience in more, to see the outcome.

Neil, (aks Sealegs), I was referring to this post on ring on wand effect, you took the same stance on this trick. Anyway, I read it as you were looking to be convinced. If I read your words wrong, forgive me as the only thing I have to go on is your words and how they are arranged.

http://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/viewt......rum=4&53
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Sealegs
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No worries Bill.

I think you're right to say that I tend to have a one sided view of magic tricks. in general in that I feel that they are most effective and useful when the magic not only creates an effect but more importantly allows the performer to use the trick as a vehicle to let the audience see who they are and what they are about.

The nature of this Cuba a Libra effect, combined with the limits of my imagination, makes that a hard nut to crack.

Interestingly some of the examples you (Bill) give as posing similar problems I see as readily lending themselves to allowing the performer to impart themselves onto and into the proceedings. That's not due to any creative thinking on my part but to the creative thinking and execution that others have already put into practice.

Card manips for instance; Look at how Jeff Macbride uses them as compared to the Korean guy that won FISM this year. Both use card manips but the effect produced by these two performers is as chalk and cheese with both presenting card productions not just as piece of magic but also (and more importantly) as a brilliantly effective way of communicating to the audience their very different on stage personalities and what they are about.

Tricks don't need to have audience participation to be able to be utilised as mediums of expression for the performer, they just have to allow an 'in'. I'm sure there are all sorts of possible presentations in this vein that can be applied to this Cuba a Libra trick it's just that currently they just lie waiting to be discovered. I have yet to think of one or see anyone who I feel has discovered one but hopefully someone will do. That's part of the exciting thing about our art... raising to the challenge of finding how to turn the bare bones of the tricks we have at our disposal into something more.

And as a post script... My issues with the ring on stick were totally different.

In that effect I considered that there were parts of the handling that lead the spectators to have correct suspicions about the method.

Interestingly I recently saw Michael Weber give a lecture where he showed his handling of this effect. He pointed out the same potential issues with this effect that I raised (see the post you linked to)... but Mr Weber's being the creative genius that he is had devised a completely natural handling for the effect that addressed these issues in a way that completely removed them.

I'm hoping that maybe my post and this conversation about the Cuba a Libra trick inspires and spurs someone to address it's difficulties and come up with a solution that makes us all realise how unimaginative we've been not to have thought of it ourselves.
Neal Austin

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Bill Hegbli
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Sealegs, that is my feeling as well, no one has really 'discovered' a routine that will really 'hit home' with an audience. So far they all see this 'prop' as doing everything for them in presenting the trick.

I believe you are correct, my examples do have other 'sides' to them, but as an example, I took the 'side' that fit this discussion.

Thinking, Cube-a-Libre could be presented with 2 people in a more effective manner. So this would, of course, limit most of today's performers.

Something could also be worked out as a challenge presentation between magician and female assistant, sort of along the lines of a skit. I also see this as working with a child assembling the building blocks, and the magician matching the stack of the child's blocks. It would be funnier in the reverse, but being the prop is said to be to difficult, then do to the mechanics, it would not work.

This brings to mind one of the most effective Multiplying Bottles routines I have ever seen, was presented by Delta Burke an actress from the television show Designing Women. She took part in Circus of the Stars television show with a presentation of the Comedy Passe Passe Bottles. Her presentation was the best presentation I have ever seen. The routine was so designed around her and being a woman, no one else could ever re-create it.
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Sealegs
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That sounds like an idea with a lot of potential... presenting it as a two hander, as a skit of oneupmanship. One person matching the others arrangement of the blocks... then this second person setting a challenge for the first person to match.

I can see this fitting in well with the phases of the effect that get progressively more 'difficult' to match. Maybe the routine could be end with of one of the performers being 'out-performed' and them knocking over the others pile in a sulk.

Well done Bill, you might have discovered a possible avenue to at last elevate this effect into a piece of theatre.
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
funsway
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I have presented this effect occasionally since 1960 and it has always produced a good audience response. The problem is the suggested story line based on being tipsy. The instructions that came with my late 1940's set also explained the original "Conradi Blocks" presentation that had no story at all. I finally came up with a story line that makes sense, and that makes all the difference in engaging the audience. This story-line also allows me (the performer) to as surprised by what happens as the audience. Not sure about this "Side" approach. I want to be on the same side as the audience and share in the awe and wonder only possible because we all participate in making it happen.

I agree that having one block reversed increases the anticipation of the audience, and thereby the surprise and magical impact.

By the way -- the Conradi Blocks became "Cube a Libra" because if the popularity of the drink "Cuba LIbra" and support for the freedom of Cuba from Batistja.

It makes no sense to me that it is still marketed under that name, or that anyone attempts to present it with that dated story line.
"there is real merit in the magician who tries to be creative – from such endeavors magic sustains its life energy." Harold Rice

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mvmagic
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Getting back to the original topic, here's another vote for Gimpy's version. Its stunningly beautiful and I just love "the works"!
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Sealegs
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Mvmagic it gives me a perverse pedantic pleasure to point out that you've still failed to get back to the original topic Smile which was: "What is the difference between each set ? Quality? Material? Gimmick? What [are] the most important points that [one] should notice ?"

Only two posts in this thread have actually addressed these questions... but as the original poster hasn't chipped in on the topic he originally asked about nearly 9 months ago maybe he's given up on us to give him the answer he's looking for. Smile

I think the natural twists and turns that this thread ended up taking have been, for anyone one considering or owning this trick; interesting, illuminating and informative. But maybe I only think that because of the contributions I've made to it. Smile
Neal Austin

"The golden rule is that there are no golden rules." G.B. Shaw
mvmagic
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Oh man, you're right! But you're very welcome for the pleasure! Smile

I can only compare two sets which I have owned and used. Harries and Gimpy's.

I stopped using the Harries version because the gimmick wasn't reliable. Or should I say it required such attention during performance I wasn't comfortable with it. I never had an accident while performing but did numerous times during practice-and I do have the habit of constantly practicing stuff I already perform. This is purely a personal preference, but keeping in mind the proper way to handle it distracted me. That grip just never came naturally or automatically to me, mostly because my fingers were barely the right length to grab the tube. Every time I had to think about it, concentrate on doing it right and that disrupted the flow. The cubes were nice, the tubes however were covered in glitter paper which I didn't care for.

When I saw Gimpy's, I immediately fell in love with it. The natural look of wood was really appealing to me. To me it looked magical, but not in a magic prop way. Like something in a museum or something stored away in the corner of a forgotten dusty barn somewhere. I do love old-looking heavy things, so this is again just a personal preference. But is has a real-world look to it.

Gimpy's tube is way heavier than Harries' (which is plastic) but its not so heavy it'd be a hindrance during performance. I am betting its quite a bit larger too. though I cant be very sure as I sold the Harries set over 10 years ago.

I did some research (read:asked people who own it) about the gimmick on Gimpy's to be absolutely certain I won't end up with another prop I will not be using. His gimmick is nicely located as far as handling goes.With Harries' you were forced to grab the tube from the bottom every time. With Gimpy's you can naturally grab the top, which is likely the way most people would pick up a tube like that. I think...I have asked family members where would they grab the tube when picking it up and they went for the top. His gimmick is also extremely reliable, I dare say 100% reliable.

In the end, it all comes down to personal preference. There is no one right look to the props. As far as gimmick goes, I only have experience with the two and for me Gimpy's was the way to go. I am sure someone else will prefer a different method.
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anton.magician
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I have German version of Cuba a Liblre, it has very nice black tube and good plastic, with silver corners in the sides. In my version you must grabbing the tube from the bottom, but after few rehearsals it looks natural. As for me, Gimpy's tube looks not like magic props and not natural for stage. But I beleive it's more easy to work, and it's better for darkwood cabinet perfomances.
krowboom
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I have Jay Leslie's and can definitely recommend it. It is light, easy to work with, doesn't hang up, and looks great. I have performed it several times using Jay's routine with my own patter thrown in. It always gets a good reaction. I can't comment on Gimpys since I have nevery seen or used it, but I had a Harries version (not cube-a-libre but the version with one tube only) which I did not care for. The blocks I felt were too heavy. Hope this helps
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