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Al Schneider: Cups & Balls Review

Official Review

October 23rd, 2013 12:40am
Reviewed by James Sanden
Through L&L Publishing, Al Schneider has released a DVD on the cups and balls, including four cup and ball routines, as well as two sponge ball and bowl routines. The routines cover a wide spectrum of approaches, including single and three cup routines, those suitable for strolling, as well as those designed for formal, sit down performances.

Among many other contributions to magic, Mr. Schneider is known for his deep thinking and a devotion to creating a truly magical effect. Towards this end, many of the techniques and ideas explored on this DVD are deceptive and extremely clever. In particular, his new steals and the handling of the cups have been streamlined, made more deceptive and will fool even an informed viewer. Mr. Schneider also offers some interesting ideas that make formal sit down routines more practical, some very deceptive final load sequences (both for single and multiple cup routines,) and an idea for a final load (the appearance of a cup full of crystals or other small objects) that will leave an audience flabbergasted. The sponge ball and bowl routines were less impressive than the cups and balls, though even they had some very deceptive moments.

Unfortunately, many of the routines were repetitive and confusing, and it’s doubtful many performers would use them as is. However, it would be difficult to appreciate the best use of Mr. Schneider’s new techniques without the context of a routine, making the performances useful for that reason alone. And again, despite them being confusing and repetitive, even after learning the techniques being used, this reviewer was fooled again and again by the construction of the sleights and handling, so the individual elements of the various routines are well worth studying.

A final point worth mentioning is that each of the routines taught on the disc has a stated goal. If one were to measure the effect of the routines against those goals, Mr. Schneider clearly attained his objective. And while the viewer may not share the same goals, knowing what the creator was out to achieve and studying how he accomplished it is an extremely worthwhile endeavor. Few magicians take the time to identify what they want the audience to experience, let alone put in the work to accomplish that. Studying a knowledgeable and thoughtful magician’s approach to this task is something any performer would benefit from.

While Mr. Schneider is not a dynamic performer, he doesn’t pretend to be. He is a brilliant thinker. Based on that alone, this disc is a great resource, not just for the cups and balls worker, but for anyone looking to improve their magic. While I wouldn’t recommend anyone perform the routines he offers as is, the thoughtful magician could utilize elements and sleights found on this disc in any routine, and dramatically improve the deceptiveness of it. Even if the viewer doesn’t apply the techniques offered, Mr. Schneider’s approach, his dedication and his solutions are worth the study of any committed performer. Highly recommended.

Available at your favorite Murphy’s Magic dealer

Product info for Al Schneider: Cups & Balls

Author: Schneider, Al
Publisher: L&L Publishing
Average Rating:  (2)
Retail Price: $34.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

Project Codeword: Vessels and Orbs

From the L & L Underground Research Facility

These experiments push the envelope of existing Cups and Balls technology far beyond its normal limits. The goal for this project is more repeatability, more shock, and more practicality. We believe these goals have been realized in the Vessels and Orbs Project. What's more, you'll be privy to new and innovative strategies, subtleties and moves never before seen, including the Tweezers Palm, Al Schneider's new and devilishly deceptive small ball vanish. Many of magic's greatest minds have been taken in by this move.

Today's tendency is for magicians to walk around more and to stand at a table side when performing. Several of these routines were specifically designed to do that. The others were created for more formal, full-feature Cups and Balls performances.

Here's what's contained in this confidential file:

LA Street Cups - The mandate here is to simply be able to pick up the cups and go. There are no loads from the body which means that this routine can be done in your birthday suit if you wish (though not recommended!) Then, you can repeat the routine immediately in tough, real-world environments...and fool them again! This is the perfect routine for strolling magicians and street performers and remains one of the most talked-about routines from the Al Schneider Magic book.

Classic Cups and Balls - This is a formal sit-down routine with a fairly traditional presentation of three cups, three balls, and three final loads. However, a lot of sophistication is thrown in. The small ball sequences are superb and the final loads are strong enough that the entire routine can be immediately performed again...and it will still kill them!

OMG - This is what people exclaim when they watch this! This one-cup routine was developed for the table hopper. Carry the cup in a bag and stand by the table to do this routine. Its two phases were designed to generate the OMG response. And there are no body or pocket steals - it's all in the hands, bag, and cup.

Crystal Connection - This experiment features a three-cup formal routine with as much flash as can be put into the finish of a Cups and Balls routine. At its conclusion, two cups are lifted to reveal they are full of crystal shards. The audience won't know what hit them!

Oriental Bowl Routine - This was developed as a very formal full-feature routine. The goal was to capture the feeling and atmosphere of Japanese tea ceremonies and contains wooden bowls, large sponge balls, silks, and much pomp and flair! This could easily be used as a full stage routine!

3X4 Bowl Routine - The goal of this experiment was to take single bowl routines not only to the next level but to the extreme. The name of the game is rapid repetition featuring just about every effect possible with sponge balls. They disappear, reappear, penetrate up and down...and they do it extremely fast. There are fourteen...yes, fourteen...separate magical occurrences in this one routine.

Running Time Approximately: 1hr 40min

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