Juggler's World: Vol. 39, No. 3

Tips and Tricks

Passer's Corner

by Jeff Napier

French Chops: Watch Arsene for these. They are like ordinary passing chops, but passed from the left side of the head using your right hand. Timing is important.

Left French Chops: In a shower pass, simply throw a French chop using your left hand. There is a tendency to underspin, so wind up your wrist well to get the proper spin. The club should float somewhat. In every others, throw a right-to-left self double and then the left French chop.

Froggie Catch: Catch an incoming pass with your left hand inverted. This way you flourish the club as you bring it back to a regular situation. Your arm and hand will look like a frog's front arm because your elbow is bent and forward.

Hawaiian Toe Throw: You must be barefoot. Simply pick up a dropped club between your big toe and the other toes. Pass it to your partner flat, using only your foot. The more difficult variation as done by Salty Scott Pruitt is picked up the same way, but passed with a rearward kick that brings it up behind the body and over the head to the partner.

Head Balance: Set a club on your head with your left hand and then immediately take it off with your right. The club can be horizontal or vertical. Vertical looks harder, but I think it's not because you take it off so soon that it doesn't really need to balance. You can also bash the club off your head with the club held in your right hand. In every others, I throw the next right club after the pass with a double spin to my own left hand and then set the left club vertical. I then bash it to my partner and catch the left double to keep juggling.

Kicks: These can be done in every others or showers. The basic move is to hold a club low and horizontal in front of your body and kick it to your partner. The variations are endless. You can set with the left hand and kick with the right or left foot about equally well. Setting with the right hand is more difficult, but not impossible. The kick, using your toe or the top of your ankle, should be more of a lift than a hit. Accelerate the club and your foot together. In every others, it's easier to throw yourself a right-to-left double before you set the left club. This gives you more time to get the set accurate.

(Jeff Napier's book, "Advanced Passing, Vol. 4," is available for $12. Write to 130 Mattison Lane, Aptos, CA 95003.)

Simple seven club variation

Here's a different and relatively easy seven club passing pattern. One partner holds four clubs and begins the pattern by passing the partner a high triple spin throw. The next throw is a single to himself. As the partner receives the high triple throw, he or she return throws a high triple spin, then juggle one self beat. The pattern continues for each as: triple throw pass, single self. Try it!

Dice Stacking Made Tolerable

by Emory Kimbrough

Is it possible to place four dice on a table, swing an inverted dice cup in rapid arcs across the table so that the cup's rim knocks the dice into the cup, suddenly stop the cup and leave all four dice perfectly stacked?

With a short physics lesson and a lot of practice anyone can. First, though, the necessary props must be chosen. Most dice are unsatisfactory. You will need 3/4 inch casino dice, sometimes known as Las Vegas dice. Make certain that they have the textured satin finish rather than the smooth glossy finish. Glossy dice are too slick to stack reliably. Casino dice are perfect cubes, whereas most dice have rounded corners and edges that will frustrate you greatly.

Select a leather dice cup with a depth of about 3-1/4 inches. If the dice are stacked inside the cup, the top of the stack should be 1/8 to 1/2 inch below the rim. Diameter is less critical, but look for a cup with roughly a 2 1/2 inch mouth. Many cups have ribbed walls and a trip lip. These features prevent dishonest gamblers from using controlled dice shots and they will also defeat all attempts to stack dice.

Satin finish casino dice and a sturdy smooth-walled cup are available from Al's Magic Shop, 1012 Vermont Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20005. (202)789-2800.

Find a large smooth surface such as a glass table or Formica counter. Place the dice at least three inches apart in a row perpendicular to your body. Grasp the cup mouth-down with your right hand. Your index finger should be on top with your thumb and other fingers on the sides. Tilt the cup away from you at about a 45 degree angle and start with the cup between you and the first die.

Swing the cup back and forth in an arc, always keeping one point on the far side of the rim in contact with the table. The arc should be about 15 inches wide, and the cup always tilted away from you. When you feel brave, swing the cup farther so that you knock the first die into the cup on a right-to-left sweep (illus. 1).

Since you are swinging in an arc rather than a straight line and because you always keep the cup tilted away from you at about 45 degrees, the die will be centrifuged to the top of the cup and remain there. If you are doing this correctly, you can lift the cup off the table and, while swinging it, peek into the cup to see how the die remains in about the same spot.

Pick up the remaining three dice in exactly the same way. The centrifugal force combined with the curved wall of the cup will constrain the four dice to line up as shown in illustration 2. Beginners should pick up one die on every fourth right-to-left swing. Work toward picking up one die on each swing, including left-to-right.

Just like juggling machetes, the hard part is stopping. Finish with a sharp swing from near left to far right. The cup should stop suddenly with its rim flush with the surface. After 50 or 60 tries, you will finally learn how to leave the dice stacked against the cup's wall on the right side. Before revealing the stacked dice, you should gently slide the cup a bit to the right to avoid toppling the stack when you lift the cup.

Dice stacking, like three-ball juggling, allows for many variations. After picking up the first die, spot the number on its bottom face as you swing the cup far to the right. Since the opposite faces of a die add to seven, you can call the number on the top of the stack before you lift the cup. A jumbo die or other surprise can be secretly loaded under the cup while the audience's attention is still on the just-revealed stack. It is possible, though extremely difficult, to disassemble the stack by picking off one die at a time with the swinging cup.

To explore these and other possibilities, pick up the books "How to Stack Dice for Fun and No Profit" by Clark Crandall, "Zack Stacks" by Jim Zachary, and "Dice Dexterity" by Audley V. Walsh at a magic store.

(Emory Kimbrough is active in the performing arts of juggling, magic and comedy. Residing in Montgomery, Ala., he works as a science educator and writer.)

Tips and Tricks / Index, Vol. 39, No. 3 / jis@juggling.org
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