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sethb
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I recently bought Volume Two of Michael Ammar's DVD's, "Easy to Master Thread Miracles," in the hopes of picking up some helpful tips and ideas for the Magic Worms that I pitch.

Ironically, even though he does discuss the "One-Point Hookup" and does a few effects with it, there's no mention at all of the Magic Mouse or its successor, the Magic Worm, which have to be the ultimate applications of this principle. I think the Worm is also one of the best uses of this principle, because it is used to animate something, as opposed to levitating it, which is much more difficult to pull off realistically and believably.

But as far as handling, lighting, visibility and other tips, there was really only rudimentary information on the Ammar DVD, with the exception of a decent but short discussion about the specs seeing the reflection of the gimmick as opposed to seeing the gimmick itself. Especially for someone like Ammar, who is usually very throrough in such matters of presentation and theory, I was disappointed.

Actually, "New Animations," Mike Ching's book about the Dancing Handkerchief, was much more helpful in this regard. He discusses various types of gimmicks, the effect of various light sources and how to set or cope with your lighting, and the different backgrounds that work best. Although his book is geared to stage performances, there is much in it that can be helpful to closeup workers who use thread; click HERE for more info.

And of course, there is no substitute for actually playing with and performing the Magic Worm. In the course of doing that, I have discovered numerous ways to help conceal the method by controlling the angle of the gimmick, as well as positioning my hands and arms in such a way as to shield part or all of the gimmick while it's in use. This makes it much more difficult for the specs to follow the gimmick or trace its source. The fact that the worm is able to move in three dimensions (side-to-side as well as up-and-down and forward-and-back), and can jump through hoops and around pencils, also helps to throw the specs off the track.

In fact, many buyers have commented to me that they never suspected or considered that a thread was involved. That really proves the worth of this particular setup when handled properly. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
sethb
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BTW, I'm now experimenting with a few different types of IT for the Magic Worms, in preparation for next season.

My present brand of IT usually works very well in an indoor situation. With no tangles or inadvertent finger trips over the line, I can often use the same gimmick all day long without breaking it. And although outdoor work is a little chancier because of wind and other factors, usually I will only go through about three lines in a day of pitching.

The real IT-killer is hot or humid weather, which I have a lot of in my outdoor venues. My present IT is fabric and seems to absorb moisture, which makes it a little sticky and adds resistance, which then requires more tension. Couple that with moist or sweaty hands, and you have major problems and lots of breakage, even with using cornstarch-based baby powder on my hands to keep things smooth and dry.

So I recently picked up some Kevlar IT, which is synthetic and shouldn't absorb moisture. It also seems to be a little smoother and slicker than the fabric IT I'm using now (and also a tad stronger, too). Although the Kevlar seems to be slightly thinnner as well, my only concern is that it might be more reflective than the textured fabric IT. But it might be just the ticket for those hot and humid outdoor shows.

I've threaded up a half dozen worms with Kevlar IT, will carry them in my case along with my usual six worms threaded with fabric IT, and will see how they compare. I paid $14 for a 40-foot piece of Kevlar that must have at least 40-50 strands in it, so if it works, I probably will have enough Kevlar IT to last for a lifetime of worm pitches.

As a bonus, I've also tried a Floating Bill routine with the Kevlar IT, using the old two-point Okito Floating Ball hookup. My wife, who has seen the worm pitch a zillion times, said it was great and had no idea how it was done, although she is familiar with the IT gimmmick and knew it was being used. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Matthew W
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Where did you get the kevlar IT?

I have been using .004 nylon thread from Michaels. It comes in clear and black. It works pretty good.
-Matt
sethb
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PM'd you.

BTW, I would stay away from clear nylon, it is probably too reflective. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Matthew W
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Nah, it has worked good. It is not that reflective. It has worked.

This weekend I only pitched them when I was asked what they were, and they sold every time.

I also used only the brightly colored ones so the color is more distracting. For the fuzzles, which are more neon colored, it is the yellow and green that work the best.

My main thing is the magic tricks.
-Matt
JoeJoe
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If your pitching the worm, then I recommend you just use fishing line - I use "transparent nylon" from Wal-Mart with a size of ".004" - it sounds like the exact same stuff you are using Matt and it works fine. If you have seen me working the Dancing Cane in my YouTube videos you will be surprised to know I am using that exact same transparent nylon on the cane and nobody can see it in broad daylight; it is awesome thread.

With the worm, I always tip that it is thread and try to do so early on, at which point they stop trying to figure it out. I'll show them how it works and even have a kid work the worm (a big selling point).

The main reason I do this is to keep people from bringing them back complaining - they know exactly what they are buying. If you don't do this, they open it up at the Food Court and are ****ed off at you and telling everyone in earshot your a scammer. Then they come back and cause a scene during your pitch.

-JoeJoe
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sethb
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Actually, in selling thousands of worms, I have had only one complaint that it was a ripoff (which it is not, anyway). But I gave the lady her money back and that was the end of it. In fact, I have now pitched the worms in some of the same locations two or three different times, and have had some of the original purchasers come back to me to buy more. Most kids are very satisfied with the monofilament line, which as you note is ordinarily pretty good if you're not in direct sunlight or strong indoor lighting.

But for pitching I believe that using IT or something similar is almost essential to a good pitch -- if the potential buyers aren't mystified by my demo, how can they expect to mystify anyone else? The secret is part of the appeal, and if the secret is known, then part of the reason to buy is gone as well. For that reason, I would not expose or explain the trick. And I would use whatever helps me to conceal the secret, including IT.

Does that mean I'm using a "worker" (demoing something different than what I'm selling)? No, and here's why: in the instruction sheet I hand out, I also explain that the supplied monofilament line is best for learning the moves and handling; after you become comfortable with it, you can replace the monofil with very thin black thread (which is also true). So if I ever do get any more complaints, I would just show them that section of the sheet. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Matthew W
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I am currently on a quest for .002 mono filament thread, but so far have only found .003
-Matt
JoeJoe
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If I can use transparent nylon in broad daylight with a dancing cane, I have no idea why you are having problems using it with a worm.

And I still believe that teaching an 8 year old child how to work the worm in front of a group of adults with money is the best way to sell them. But you must know more than me so what-ever.

-JoeJoe
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sethb
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Just to clarify, I have no problems using monofil with a worm, in fact, that's how I sell it. But in my experience it can be reflective, and I find that black thread or IT works better for me, especially if I am working outside and don't always have good control over my light sources. As others like Ron Jaxon have said in other thread posts, when folks do spot something, they are probably not seeing the gimmick itself, but the reflection of light off the the gimmick, and that is what is to be avoided if possible.

I am also not claiming that I know more than you or anyone else, or that there is any one or best way to handle the issue. I simply gave my opinion and my reasons for it, based on my own experience, just as you did. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Matthew W
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Are you doing the cane closeup? If you are doing in a stage/parlor distance, you would be fine.

That could be the problem. When selling stuff, people are less than 2 feet from me.
-Matt
JoeJoe
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No hard feelings Seth, I'm just in one of my moods.



Matt: distance really don't make much of a difference, other than the fact that distance changes the background (as people move closer, their heads go down thus they see the floor as opposed to the background).

Most likely, there is one paticular move you do that people catch a glimpse of the thread. You need to isolate that paticular move(s) and stop doing it - that was the approach I took with the dancing cane.

But if your goal is to sell worms (which it should be), and not to fool people with magic (which it should not be), then I would recommend you consider just tipping the method - then you don't have to worry about if they can see it or not. The worm is a toy, not a magic trick. I don't even think my magic shop sells them, but I know I can buy them at the toy store. People know how the "magic orange juicer" works, but they still buy them ... they know how the "magic super sweeper" works, they still buy them.


"no it's ok, he doesn't bite - there is a string tied to his nose. The other end is tied to my belt. When I move my hands underneath, it looks like he is running. He can do this and that and bla bla bla <insert demo here>"

"You want to try it? Just hold your hand out (place worm in hand) ... now as you move this hand towards yourself, catch the worm in your other hand (do this so they see what to do) ... and then repeat it ... there ya go ... its that easy, ladies and gentlemen it took this 8 year old child seconds to get this thing running"



Some notes: I attach the string to my table, NOT my belt like I generally tell people. If you don't want people behind your counter, tie a second one with a longer thread so it can reach over the table and they can work it from there (thats the way I prefer it). Get the child's name, do some by-play - its a great opportunity to entertain the crowd, get them to laugh and like you.

If that child can do the worm, it is sold. Just make sure you pick the smart one.

-JoeJoe
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sethb
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JoeJoe, you are right about the "one move" situation -- there was one move I was doing that consistently caused a problem. I couldn't see it from where I was, but after getting caught more than a few times at the same point, it finally dawned on me that there must be a good reason, it couldn't be coincidence. After thinking about it, I saw what the problem was, rearranged things a little, and bingo, problem solved. That's a side benefit of being a pitchman and getting to perform the same thing 50 times in one day -- you can polish the routine until it shines!

I have also tried anchoring the gimmick to the table instead of me. It does have some advantages, like being able to move away from the worm as you please. But I found that I had more control the other way, and it also let me do a few moves that weren't possible with a static anchor. On the other hand, the biggest problem with my way is that you can't really leave the worm on the table and still have freedom of movement. But I solved that by putting it back in the center pocket of my change apron while I fill orders. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Matthew W
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What is the one move?
-Matt
sethb
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Gee whiz, can't a guy have any secrets around here? <grin>

I will simply say that it was an angle problem. I recently reread Leo Behnke's excellent "Thread Reference" pamphlet recently, and he reminded me that the gimmick is most visible when it is at right angles (perpendicular) to the specs. But when the gimmick is in the same plane or line of vision as the specs, it is much harder to pick up because less of it is actually visible, and its movement is also less obvious. It's sort of the same principle that you can use to make a dinner roll "float" in the air by using your thumb.

That was excellent advice, but I didn't fully appreciate the wisdom of it until I had a problem and just happened to reread the pamphlet. BTW, this inexpensive $3 booklet has mediocre IT tricks but very good info on threads and thread handling, click HERE for more info.

Anyway, I just changed the angle of the gimmick at one particular point in the routine, and bingo, no more problems. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
sethb
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Just an update -- today I worked the Magic Worms with Kevlar for the first time. I was at an Xmas bazaar in a school gym, and my table was right beneath a strong fluorescent light. So I was a bit worried, even though I was able to adapt a bit by moving back slightly from the table to increase the distance from the specs.

Bottom line, the Kevlar performed very well. I demoed on the same line almost continuously for five hours without any tangles or breakage, and also had no catches from the specs, which I thought was amazing considering the circumstances. The Kevlar is perhaps 15-20% thicker than my old IT, but seems at least 50% stronger, so it's well worth it. It also seems to be slightly slicker than the fabric IT, which is a good thing. The Kevlar did not seem to be any more or less reflective than fabric IT, although I haven't had a chance to test it in indirect or direct sunlight yet.

So I will probably go with regular IT inside and Kevlar outside. In hot weather, I think the advantages of Kevlar will far outweigh the disadvantages. And the 10-foot piece of Kevlar yarn I have should probably last me for several lifetimes if I strip it carefully! SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
sethb
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I work with a line that is about 18" long (the distance from my first fingertip to my elbow). I find this gives me enough room to do all the good moves (double somersault around a pen, jump through a CD, the Good Night kiss, crawling sideways over my hands, etc.) and not feel cramped. On the other hand, it is short enough that it doesn't tangle or get caught on buttons, shirt sleeves, tabled objects, etc.

I have also adjusted my moves so that the line is perpendicular to the specs' line of vision for as little time as possible. More often, it runs directly at them, so there is less to see and less chance of spotting it. Usually it runs at a 45-degree angle, which people do not expect, and is also covered by my arms for a good portion of the time.

I can see where working closer to the body would require less line and also provide more cover, so I will give that a try. The basic problem I see is that, in my limited experience, the worm performs best in the air, about chest level, which also makes it more probable that the line will be exposed.

As for the line itself, there's no question that IT can be very tempermental, even the Kevlar variety. I do usually break a few lines during a day's work, but as you said, I have about six worms prethreaded and ready to go as stand-ins if that happens. It is a little extra work, but I feel it's well worth it in terms of the effect obtained and the sales made. And with the front row of people less than two feet away from me, and sometimes working with less than ideal lighting conditions, I feel that I don't have much choice but to go with IT.

If I did have to use something else, my choice would probably be the line Don Driver uses for his Squirmles, which I think is some sort of nylon, but is a multi-colored black/brown line if I remember correctly. The problem with monofil, in my opinion, is that it is shiny and reflects light. So even if people don't see the line itself, they will see the reflection of the line, which is just as bad. Of course, if you are selling the worm as a toy rather than a magic trick and are tipping the method, as JoeJoe does, then it doesn't matter.

There is also another problem with using IT -- that you are demoing one thing and selling another. I have tried to solve that by inserting a line in my instruction sheet about using the nylon monofil for practice, then switching to "a fine black thread" for performing. So far I have not had any complaints, although I know other pitchmen have had problems with this situation. And there is no way I could actually sell the worms with IT, the kids (and many adults) would never be able to handle it.

So there are definitely arguments to be made for both sides here. And as always, there is always something else for me to learn, so your comments and thoughts are much appreciated. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
Jon-O the Great
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About 1952, at the State Fair of Texas, there was a guy on a raised platform, maybe 10 x 10, outside, selling the Magic Mouse for $1. He had a table on one side of the platform with little packages of the device on it. He was probably 1' off the ground with possibly 3-4 feet between him and the closest spectator, nothing on the platform in front of him. He used a mic, held in front of his face by what seemed to be a bent clothes hanger.

I COULD NOT figure out what made the thing work. Suddenly, an irate lady came up, breaking into his pitch, saying something like, “Hey—this is just a blob of wax and a piece of fishing line.”

The guy very deftly refunded her dollar, grabbed the stuff she had in her hand, put it in his pocket and went on with his pitch, never saying much to the lady at all. And even tho the people watching essentially knew the “secret”, he still sold some. My feeling was this guy was a pro and even tho he had been interrupted, he went on as tho nothing had happened.

I still could not see the IT, even tho, at that point, I knew there was one.

My point to this story and my question is, if you are farther from the people, maybe up on a platform, does this make it easier to sell these things (making it harder to see the IT) or is it better to be near the people, maybe even to involve them, as JoeJoe suggests?

I can understand the idea of BOTH telling and NOT telling the “secret”. And that each works for the person doing it. My feeling is, after the problems I've had with the DL, TELLING the “secret” might be better for me. Then NO ONE could have a reason to want their “dollar” ($5) back.

I guess I'd just have to try both.

Jon
sethb
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Hmmmm, I think I know exactly where I might get some more information on Magic Worm pitches now -- it might be in a little booklet entitled "Marmaduke the Wonder Mouse," click HERE for more info. The booklet is quite good, in fact it received the Good Mousekeeping Seal of Approval, you know. Smile

And I think Resinner might also know about this booklet as well. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, he may even have had a small part in creating it! But I'm sure he would never admit it, he's a very shy and retiring fellow.

P.S When some boorish person says, "Hey, there's a string!" I just say, "That's a good guess" and keep right on going. I can even say "Sorry, that's not right" and still be technically correct (another reason not to use monofil!). Basically, I just ignore them (in a nice way). Most of the time they are just guessing anyway, and haven't actually seen how it's done anyhow. SETH
"Watch the Professor!!" -- Al Flosso (1895-1976)
"The better you are, the closer they watch" -- Darwin Ortiz, STRONG MAGIC
JoeJoe
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Quote:
On 2008-11-26 08:11, sethb wrote:
I find this gives me enough room to do all the good moves (double somersault around a pen, jump through a CD, the Good Night kiss, crawling sideways over my hands, etc.) and not feel cramped.


You would sell more worms if you spent less time on fancy moves and more time on the worm itself, and the relationship between yourself and the worm.



Quote:
On 2008-11-26 08:11, sethb wrote:
The problem with monofil, in my opinion, is that it is shiny and reflects light. So even if people don't see the line itself, they will see the reflection of the line, which is just as bad. Of course, if you are selling the worm as a toy rather than a magic trick and are tipping the method, as JoeJoe does, then it doesn't matter.


The "transparent nylon" that was recommended is dark and does NOT reflect light. You don't need to reveal it because they are going to see it, you tip it so this doesn't happen:

Quote:
On 2008-11-26 10:12, Jon-O the Great wrote:
Suddenly, an irate lady came up, breaking into his pitch, saying something like, “Hey—this is just a blob of wax and a piece of fishing line.”




I don't care how many different threads you use, how small thin invisible black or flat they are ... you simply will not find anything better than the dark transparent nylon. I'm a thread worker and know what I'm talking about. You have six worms on stand by ... I never had any on stand by. I would wear out a worm before the thread broke. I don't know why you would need invisible thread for worm work, but you are doing something wrong.

-JoeJoe
Watch the Pilot Episode of my new TV Show:As Seen on TV: The JoeJoe Magic Show
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