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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Rings, strings & things » » Fast and Loose game. (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Bradley Morgan
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Toluca Lake CA
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Man I got the SOS Nickle chain a few weeks ago and I love it a Lot. It is the nicest chain I ever had. You can't get a knot in it. It is very heavy and just perfect. I would have liked it if it where a little longer but hey it is still great.

Best,
Brad
"I do not know with what weapons World War 3 will be fought, but World War 4 will be fought with sticks and stones." - Einstein
GSmithson
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Unless you are performing on carpeting or a tablecloth, common bead chain will roll under your fingers and will fight you every step of the way.

For years, I have used a loop of fine stainless steel "jeweler's quaility" chain I put together for a few dollars.
Poindexter
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Wisconsin USA
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Bradley Morgan,

The School for Scoundrels will do custom chains if you don't like the stock length. Zap an email over to Chef Anton and let him know what you're looking for. He's got a link up on the Fast and Loose page on the site. They're great folks to deal with. Smile
Pete Biro
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1933 - 2018
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I have seen a real con man do the belt loop version and take the money...
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
Jim Wilder
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The Chain Gang is an excellent source. It covers more moves than you need for a fantastic routine. Also SFS is an abundant source of good info.
Johnny Thompson has a version on "Commercial Classics of Magic Volume 2." The effect is titled "The Endless Chain." It is good and contains some funny interaction with spectators, but Bradley, you are already sitting on a gold mine with Chain Gang.
full circle
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Don't have any of the versions or videos mentioned, but learned the original version from Bruce Elliott's book: "Magic As a Hobby" many years ago and was inspired by seeing the late great magical entertainer Bruce Posgate performing at an I.B.M. or S.A.M. convention in New Orleans also many years ago.

I like to precede the con with magical variations that can be done with rope, chain, beaded necklaces etc. just to make it interesting for spectators and get their attention. One handed knot in loop, knot comes off and tossed to spectators, etc.

Many good variations of this sort are taught in Posgate`s old book "Necklace Trickery."

John
"A person who can laugh at himself, will never fail to be amused".
Partizan
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Fast and loose
Kel Richards writes:

To “play fast and loose” with someone is to be slippery and inconsistent. It means that I might acknowledge my obligations at one minute, and deny them the next; or make a promise one minute, and forget it the next. That kind of thing is “playing fast and loose”. This expression contains a long forgotten metaphor. Originally “fast and loose” was a cheating game that hucksters, con men and fraudsters played on gullible locals in medieval England as they travelled from fair to fair, from village to village. It was another of those games, like the thimble-and-pea game or the three-card game that gypsies and others used to separate suckers from their money. In the game called “fast and loose” the operator of the game would lay a piece of string or cord on the ground in a series of loops and challenge the suckers to pass a stick through the loops so that when the end of the string (or cord) was pulled the stick would be held fast. The trick was to bet on the outcome, because the loops had been laid out in such a manner that when the ends of the string or cord were pulled the cord appeared to slip right through the stick and leave it loose (not held fast). It’s a trick that magicians still perform today (although not, usually, for money). And from that cheating game comes our long forgotten metaphor of “playing fast and loose”. The earliest reference to “fast and loose” is from 1578.
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
- Mark Twain
Pete Biro
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What about the phrase "Cash on the Barrellhead?"

I 'understand' it may have come from gamblers doing "fast and loose" on the docks and on the end of barrells.

And instead of loop of string or rope it was played with a belt.

And the term "fast and loose" means your finger is either "fast" caught, or "loose" not caught.

Right?
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Jim Wilder
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Marc Desouza talks about this on his video "The Chain Gang." He gives a brief mini-history lesson on the "over the barrellhead" phrase.
Partizan
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Quote:
I 'understand' it may have come from gamblers doing "fast and loose" on the docks and on the end of barrells.

Awwwww, that's just sick man!!! Smile
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
- Mark Twain
Pete Biro
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Explain "that's just sick man" ... it is true. Barrells were common on the docks and used for tables for cons.
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Whit Haydn
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The phrase "playing fast and loose" comes down to us from Shakespeare. He used it in four different plays. He was referring to the game "pricking the garter" or "fast and loose" and in every instance meant that it was foolish or reckless to play a game that you can't win. "Don't play fast and loose with a young girl's heart," "He played fast and loose with the truth," etc., are all examples of this same thought.

Eventually, the language just took the common phrase and turned it into a "cliche" divorced from it's original meaning. To "play fast and loose" eventually just came to mean "to act foolishly or recklessly."

My business partner, Chef Anton, also says that it is a common phrase now in pool. To play "fast and loose" in that sense has the meaning that the player is shooting without thought or care, with reckless (often skillful) abandon.

"On the Barrelhead" is the correct name for the "Endless Chain" or "Australian Rope Trick" that is a much later (nineteenth century) version of the original "belt game" con men call "the strap," which in the sixteenth century was called "Fast and Loose" or "Pricking the Garter."

Since both games have the same basic premise, although the methods are different, I like to use "Fast and Loose" as an overall name for both types of games. "On the Barrelhead" and "Pricking the Garter" are both games of "Fast and Loose." This is an arbitrary term, and unhistorical, but one that our book on the con coined as a useful overarching description.

My dear friend Pete Biro is correct as usual on this. The name "on the barrelhead" came from the fact that sailors just coming off a ship were easy prey, since they had just been paid, and considered themselves experts at knots and lines. The swindlers would line up on the docks and work on top of one of the many barrells that lined the warf. The phrase "Cash on the Barrellhead" probably came from this game as well.
Harry Murphy
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Interestingly, the actual origins of the phrase “cash on the barrelhead” are unknown. That it was in common use as slang in the 19th century is only surmised. According to Random House’s word maven, its use as a term is not recorded until the early 20th century.

I probably came from the use of an upended barrel as a table on docks, stores, warehouses, etc. It implies that payment is to be immediate. I can imagine sailors in the 18th and 19th centuries getting off ship and having the purser paying them across the barrelhead. Using a barrel as a table would just be convenient.

There is an earlier term that was in common use during the 18th and 19th centuries. You don’t hear it at all anymore even in film costume epics. It would have been used on riverboats and in the Wild West period (expansion period) of the USA. The term is “on the nail,” meaning immediate payment ("we want our money on the nail"--Jonathan Swift). Found since the late sixteenth century, on the nail is of uncertain origin; the "nail" may not even be the same word as the familiar 'hard material at end of finger' and 'pointed fastener' one.

OK, I admit, I’m a total nerd and have much too much time on my hands!
The artist formally known as Mumblepeas!
Partizan
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"That's just sick man": what those old sailors got up to after a long voyage. I mean, who wants to know what they did with their barrel-heads. Smile

But joking aside, The Garter mentioned in these historical wanderings I believe, it's a man's garter, and not a ladies garment as you would assume.

Also, wasn't this game used as a betrothal (or husband trap) for gypsy women?
Where the victim was to take a stick with rope woven around it (the rope is set up in a pre-ceremony), held at both ends. If the rope snags the stick then a betrothal is set. I'm sure this was used to snag rich men into roamer families.

I am only giving this from memory of a program I saw about 25-30 years back, shown in the UK (oldies will remember this) called 'Out of Town'.
"You cannot depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus."
- Mark Twain
full circle
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I think you may be the "sick" one Partizan, for even thinking about that. But it was funny!!

John
"A person who can laugh at himself, will never fail to be amused".
emptycupmagic
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Marc DeSouza's Chain Gang is the best fast and loose ROUTINE I've seen! For more info, check out Bob Neale's Tricks of the Imagination for an in-the-hands routine and Ganson's Art of Close-up Magic Vol. 1.
Kenardo1
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Gene Maze developed a very unique version of Fast and Loose many years ago. Last summer I saw a knock-off version of his prop and basic routine produced by a European magic dealer at FISM (of course without crediting Gene). I think it was originally published in Apocalypse; I do know that Gene also sometimes sold it at his lectures. Gene was a regular at Reubens in NYC for many years, and is wonderful person.

The biggest challenge of Fast and Loose is making the spectator not feel constantly stupid, because, face it, she/he is constantly losing. The second biggest challenge is the ending. How does one end a routine that keeps the spectator in a loser mode most of the time and make them finally think, I had fun playing this. Also since the effect is repetitious, this adds an extra challenge to designing the climax of the routine.
Larry Davidson
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The removable knot is the only ending I've ever seen that I found halfway decent.
corpmagi
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I saw David Roth perform a chain routine and it was excellent. Funny, commercial and it had a great ending. I'd always wished he would put it out in some form.
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