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Topic: What IS and ISN'T a sleight
Message: Posted by: Papa Legba (Apr 24, 2020 06:41AM)
I recently purchased a magic item that was advertised as 'sleight free'. The video looked impressive so a paid a not insignificant sum and bought it.
When I read the instructions "palming a small ball" was listed as an essential skill.
I immediately asked for a refund.
I will not name the item or the seller as I did get a full refund but I am out of pocket due to shipping.

What do you guys think, is palming a ball considered a sleight, the seller clearly didn't think so?
Message: Posted by: Wizard of Oz (Apr 24, 2020 07:31AM)
I definitely think it is, and, arguably one of the most difficult to do well. With proper misdirection, a large ball or similar object can fly by in a presentation. Conversely, a marble poorly palmed by a stiff claw can scream "I HAVE SOMETHING IN MY HAND!!!"
Message: Posted by: funsway (Apr 25, 2020 12:58AM)
I agree with Wiz, but sadly recognize that "sleight free" might be interpreted by many as not requiring difficult new sleights to learn.

Sad because the richness of our language is declining, marketers being deliberately vague and "palming" considered a minor skill (by any name.)

A key quality of any sleight is "never happened," and various palming techniques should be practiced continuously, especially with new objects.

However, the ability to palm a small ball convincingly should be a basic skill of any claiming to be a magician,
so I do not fault the seller for wishing to assume anyone buying an expensive effect would have some basic skills.

Palming is a sleight, yes. Should it be embraced as "assumed skill?" with an ad listing "moderate skill level?" or something?

Me? I would not want any effect that is truly "sleight free" or "audience engagement free" or "no skill required."

If anyone can perform it, why should I wish to? Tricks are easy. Magic effects more difficult. Creating conditions under which magic can happen, tough!

Yes, we all look for easier ways to accomplish a desired objective. I use a TUC because it eliminates some difficult sleights and "frees me" from disability limitations.

In my magic effect instructions I always list required Moves, Sleights and Subtleties first so that the reader need not waste time on an effect they can't do,
or practice that sleight before proceeding. In one I consider tossing a coin from one hand to the other without looking as a move rather than a sleight,
and have received some objections. For me, it is not a sleight since the action is meant to be seen and the coin winds up exactly where expected.

By analogy, a car with automatic transmission might be considered "clutch free" and "easy to drive." However, driving any car requires many complex skills
and is never easy - and there is still a clutch in there, albeit the function handed in a different manner. Is a torque converter a sleight since it functions invisibly?
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Apr 25, 2020 02:30AM)
I agree with all who have posted so far. I consider palming a sleight, albeit a basic one that every magician should know how to do. Nevertheless, it's still a sleight.

There are a lot of moves that some magicians do not consider to be sleights, because they are basically so simple that anyone can do them without much practice. The paddle move is an example of this. Anyone can do a paddle move with just a few minutes of practice. It probably won't be a GOOD paddle move, but it will still be a paddle move.

Half a century ago, when I was just getting started in my career as a professional magician, I had a friend who did a lot of strolling in restaurants. He had convinced himself that he couldn't do sleight of hand, so he carried a briefcase that looked like it had one of every trick deck that Haines House of Cards offered in their catalog. All of them were blue backed Fox Lake decks. Seriously, he had at least 2 or 3 dozen decks. He would do a card trick, put the deck back into his briefcase, blow up a balloon animal, do another card trick, ad infinitum. One day, when he was visiting a magician in Nashville, his car was burglarized and his briefcase was stolen.

He was DEVASTATED!!! He couldn't afford to replace all that paper. When he got back to Houston, he told me the story. I told him that it was time for him to learn some sleights. He said, "I can't do sleight of hand."

I said, "You can do the paddle move. That's sleight of hand." He argued that it was not sleight of hand, because it was too easy to be sleight of hand, and sleight of hand was, by (his) definition, difficult.

So I showed him that most of the sleights I use were very easy, for two reasons. One is that I did each of them in a way that fit my hands, body and way of moving. The other was that I did them slowly, until they were as natural as breathing. I gave him a crash course in making sleight of hand look natural and invisible. I taught him how to do Scotch and Soda without any gaffs. That saved him $25.00 right off the bat!

So, my advice to Papa Legba is to learn sleight of hand. But I still agree with you that they shouldn't have said it required NO sleight of hand at all.

Legba, if you want to know more, contact me via email. You can find my email address in my profile. I'll be glad to help you. No charge.
Message: Posted by: Papa Legba (Apr 27, 2020 06:46AM)
Thanks guys, I feel a little comforted that experienced magicians share my point of view on this, and special thanks Bill for the very kind offer.
Funsway, I get what you are saying but this was an expensive handmade 'device' and listed as "sleight free'. Had the blurb alluded., even slightly, to a move or an acquired skill my alarm would have been raised and I could have asked the seller for details. Leading, no doubt, to a no-sale.
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jun 17, 2020 02:02PM)
By the way -- if you want to understand how important old magic books are, download a copy of the cups and balls routine from [i]Hocvs Pocvs,Jr.[/i] from the Cups and Balls Museum web site. It's free. It has some of the most important information about palming and vanishing that has ever been in print.
Message: Posted by: Papa Legba (Jul 7, 2020 05:58AM)
Many thanks Bill, I will go get it.
Message: Posted by: Mr. Woolery (Jul 10, 2020 12:24PM)
While a basic palm is, indeed, a sleight, as established by the previous comments, I really want to echo what Ken said. Self-working or mechanical tricks can be really interesting and intriguing, but there is also a body of knowledge and set of skills for every type of performer. A singer has to be able to read the music, including the indications about dynamics. An actor needs to be able to show emotion he may not feel, remember his lines and deliver them as if they are his real thoughts. A guitar player needs to know how to tune the instrument, form chords, and maintain a rhythm. A banjo player needs to keep a really stupid look on his face and spit further than most. (That last is a joke: Bill and I both play banjo.) A magician should be capable of basic sleights.

I donít think everyone needs to PERFORM the cups and balls, but I do think it is worth the effort to study. Timing, misdirection, dramatic structure, and even palming are all part of the skill set of a magician and they are all found in this one trick.

The Hocus Pocus Jr routine does contain instructions on palming and false transfer, but they are brief. I found them a bit hard at first because there isnít the minute breakdown of modern instruction. It is fair to say, however, that they are complete in a minimalistic way. And I really like the updated formatting and typesetting of Mr Palmerís document. Iíd love it if he did that for the rest of HPJ.

I confess Iím really interested in what the trick was that seemed worth so much money until you found out it requires the skill of palming a ball.