i m i ften times while walking to the local A&W to renew my supply of rootbeer, a passing close-up C/ entertainer will stop me in the street and ask me an often-asked question: "Tell me, Paul, how is it that you can invent all those bizarre tricks and still be a normal, well-adjusted close-up kinda guy?" I answer this question by pointing out that creativity is simply a matter of setting goals, organizing the known and the unknown, and then developing a connecting line of thought that pulls these three elements together into one cohesive unit These are basic mental skills within the grasp of most normal, well-adjusted people. I then emphasize this point by creatively balancing a crate of empty rootbeer bottles on my head while attempting to perform the Mexican Hat Dance with a surprised armadillo.

creative cl06e-up -

I've developed a "Master Goal List" which helps me set the guidelines for creating routines. I seldom achieve all these goals in any one effect, but it gives me something to shoot for. MA6TER. LI6T -

A New Routine Should:

• Break new ground in either effect, method of presentation or plot. The only exception to this goal is when the elements of a standard routine are reworked to substantially increase its effectiveness or performability.

• Be deceptive. This basic goal is often overlooked by many in their haste to be creative.

• Contain an emotional hook - any incentive which motivates an audience to take an active interest in the trick's performance. This could be sucker bait, a challenge angle, a twist in presentation or the sheer miraculousness of the proposed effect. If you lose an audience's interest, then either your routine or presentation lacks an effective emotional hook. The basic effect of causing a selected card to reverse itself in the deck does not contain an effective emotional hook. Causing a selected card to reverse itself in a deck that's being sat upon by a naked lady does.

• Be practical for most performing situations (three-quarters surrounded, no lapping, start and finish clean).

Let's get down to specifics and demonstrate how to put together a new routine. How about a "stretching a card" effect? This is an interesting plot, but you seldom see it performed. Why? Current approaches fail to achieve enough of the "Master Goal."


In this step we gather all available information on the problem at hand. The current "stretch" methods boil down to two approaches: a heavy-duty gaff (wax, envelope cards, etc.), or a duplicate card which is added as an extension undercover of other cards. The heavy duty gaff is fine for a one-shot TV performance or for showing off at the magic club. But when it comes right down to it, for normal working conditions, the effect isn't worth the bother, And what if someone wants to examine the cards? I know you can palm out the gaff or switch in a new card - this just isn't my idea of a fun way to spend the day. This leaves us with approach number two - the duplicate card. I don't like duplicates for the same reason I don't like gaffs. Basically, they're too much bother to carry around and tend to make me feel unmagical.

So now it's compromise time. Working totally impromptu we'll have to perform the "stretch" face down by making use of an indifferent card. We could work a face-up stretch by using a "fake" duplicate (Queen of Hearts-King of Hearts), but this creates touchy handling problems which detract from the joy of living. So much for the "known."


The "Unknown" is the specific problem at hand.

• Do I stick with the extra-card approach, or do I go off into uncharted areas of thought that will probably make me miss my dinner?

• I don't want to miss dinner. So now I need a technique for adding and removing an extra card, or adding an extra card and just leaving it there (probably weakening the effect) or disguising the extra card as a necessary card - which means that I can start and finish clean. I like this last one the best. It accomplishes one of my "Master Goals." What I need now is a connecting line of thought to pull everything together.

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