Saturday, February 25, 2017

Watch your head...

But first, watch this video.

Consider every live action mixed with animation movie you have seen in the last 20 or so years. Roger Rabbit is hands down the best. No argument. To be fair, I can forgive Cool World because it was quirky from the get go.

This video makes a valid point and it's something I have been talking about for years. When you do something for the love of the craft and because you care enough to make something great, it shows. Giving a damn is the biggest secret to creating amazing art. It's the truly obsessed with the focus to detail that make things that stand out above the rest. (Tempered with other knowledge of course. Being brain damaged about certain subjects doth not guarantee success.)

So go ahead. Bump the lamp. Don't you want to be remembered for generations like Roger Rabbit?

Or would you rather be... Space Jam?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sound Philes

Riding on the coat tails of yesterday's post about grumpy know-it-alls, let's talk about people who think there is only one path and that will be good enough to get them through life FOREVER.

I got into a... let's call it a discussion... on one of the FB magic groups about what's best to run your sound with and how. Some of you might recall my guide on running your own music for your shows. Well it seems some people would rather not have music at all if they don't have a sound man. This baffled me and I had to jump into the fray to understand where they were coming from.

There is a camp of people who (claim) to always work with a soundman and will pay for them to travel with them and run their music and say that is the ONLY way to go. These people have clearly not tried to make a living in the last decade or so as that is not always an option. What you pay out for a sound person could be almost the entire fee for a gig in some circumstances.

Obviously it's great if you work a venue that has someone else run your music for you. (Someone who is competent that is. You'd be surprised how many people don't understand the concept of "play" and "pause".) Sometimes it's just not feasible to have someone travel with you be it for lack of space or money.

What I told these "experts", who turned their nose up at the mere thought of running their own music from their pocket, was that they should learn to do it BOTH ways. If your sound guy/girl dies, gets sick, or just gets tired of your bullshit and quits, you are then left high and dry. If you have a solo system you have learned as a back-up you will never be in that position. It's similar to those who prefer to work only with a headset mic and get lost when forced to use a hand held. When you don't learn at least a little bit about the options you have to help run a smooth show, you will suffer and so will your audience.

So heed my advice people! Learn to run your own music but have a cue sheet in your bags for that lovely rare time you can bring along a sound person or the venue happens to have one that doesn't seem like they are from a work release mental patient program.

Like Scar said, "Be prepared!"

Friday, February 17, 2017

And we wonder why...

Why is it kids don't go to magic meetings or conventions as much as they used to? It's a mix of things. One of those reasons is they don't need those meet-ups to have meet-ups. With skype and facetime and other video medium they can share their creations immediately with each other. They don't have to wait a whole year to see and share what they have been working on. (Whether that's for the better or worse is a whole other post)

The other reason kids avoid these places are the grumpy old fucks who just want to dole out "advice" in the form of close minded rhetoric. Advice when delivered objectively is great. When it's delivered as law and nothing but this or that is right and you are wrong is not advice.

"Well how do they know that's gonna happen at a magic convention or meeting?", you ask? Simple. It's because they get this treatment online in the magic groups and forums. It happened to me. It happens to others.

A younger magician put out a utility device recently. It's not a bad piece of kit. Yes it bears some resemblance to some other gimmicks on the market but his is indeed different enough to justify it's existence. The problem comes in when the "experts" think something is similar to something else (even when it's not) and start saying shit like this:

"Be careful with that 100% claim.....any slight similarity puts it down to at least 90%."

"Has anybody NOT figured this out immediately?"

At this point they are just poking at the kid with sticks for no reason.

"But the lay people will want to examine the cards!" (Ah the mating call of the common amateur in the magic market place. The creator then explained he goes over how to have the cards handed out and examined and then got the following response...)

"Just because they don't ask doesn't mean anything other than you are too detached. You are cheating them out of a magical moment by leaving them with an unsolved puzzle. No more free lessons from me...get out your checkbook." 

Another "expert" decided to chime in with this:

"It is the magician that gets the (stronger) reaction, not the cards. I would love to meet you and prove my point. I can follow you with the two card Monte and get a stronger reaction than any of your four routines."

Dick move old man. The younger follows up with this:

"That's a bit harsh. You're basing your opinion on my skill as a perform off of a trailer. You've never seen me perform at a gig. To assume that you could easily get a stronger reaction is ignorant."

To which he gets THIS reply:

"Sorry. I wasn't talking about you as a performer but about the trick cards. (Nice backpedal there but you totally did.)  Makes me wonder why you still (7 years doing the trick) feel a need for trick gadgets?" (Wait didn't you just challenge this kid to a duel with 2 card monte which is a gimmick?)

As the final insult, after constantly comparing his gimmick to another one that is NOTHING like his, the younger magi put his foot down. The "wiser" guy replied with this:

"Yep, I was expecting a personal always happens with those who have no other retort." (It wasn't a personal attack by the way. Just being told he was wrong was enough to feel it was)

Why am I sharing the details of this you ask? It's because I don't want ANY of you to becomes these kind of people. I can already see the guys who are going to be these other people when they are in their 60s and 70s. They are pumped up full of ego and bitterness. They have "retired" for whatever reason and now ride a computer chair doling out advice (yes I recognize the irony of me typing that so shut up) in a world they haven't lived in for some time. 

This kind of stuff makes me mad and no one can/will speak up because you will get the same treatment. In the end, the worst offender of the two messaged the kid, called him a fool, and then blocked him. Sure would make me want to go to a place full of guys like that eh?

This is all I hear when I read stuff like this online

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Plan Ahea...

When you do creative consulting it's not always about the tricks. From time to time I get asked to help with promotional material. Many times the performer is just too close to the material and can't see what is good versus what they are too proud of, which is usually everything.

Just because you can make something doesn't mean you know how to make it look pretty. Far too many magicians take their own promo material into their own hands and just make a mess of it. How many "professional" photos have you seen done in a badly lit living room? Ever tried to sit through an 8 minute promo video? How about websites that look like a blind person made them using a free wix template?
The Struggle is Real...

If you realize that you suck at something (And stop being a cheap ass) go to someone who knows what they are doing. Not only does this free you up to do what you are good at, but it also gets you actual results.

With all of that in mind, should you decide to get a new website done do yourself a favor and book a photoshoot with a good photographer too. You want to plan out your website instead of just lazily plugging in images and videos into a template. Get photos that are website specific that show off the look and feel of your show/ character. If you know what you are doing ahead of time, you can visualize what you need.

Pictures of you holding signs, or looking up or over at important information. In the end it looks more professional and thought out. There is a reason a rock band changes their website to match the aesthetic of their new album.

If you want meat, don't go to a baker.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Flip it over...

So I was watching an episode of NCIS (don't judge me) and there was a great line that got me thinking and thought I would share.

"Nobody posts their B-sides"

This is in reference to the internet and it's very true. People only put their BEST online. They try 50 times and pick the best version. (especially when it comes to magic trailers but don't get me started on that)

It got me thinking about all of the footage I have. How much of it is only "ok" and how much is good. Sometimes it's fine to show off some of our flaws. (So long as it doesn't expose anything obviously) In my circle, we sometimes talk about the difference between professionals and amateurs. One that I always bring up is amateurs won't talk about their bad shows but the pros wear them as a badge of honor. Don't be afraid to fail. You might learn something. About your magic and yourself.

With that in mind, here is something from one of my recent performances.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Leading the blind...

I have noticed the currently younger generation has that the older generation didn't. No it's not faster downloading porn. It's arrogance and ignorance.

I'm not saying it didn't exist in magic in the old days but it seems to be running more and more rampant. A lot of people know everything about nothing.

There is an article I read called "The Death of Expertise". I don't entirely disagree with it. There are far too many people who are experts on subjects they barely understand. It's like watching a leper give skin care tips.

Like the leper said to the prostitute...

What's worse is the rampant passing of information by the uninformed. We have amateurs teaching amateurs. People who don't know things teaching people who want to know things. It's breeding a new crop of, and I use the term lightly, magicians who can't perform. They can only create "new" magic that looks good on camera. They then go out and teach their wondrous miracle to people who don't know better and thus infecting the entire hive with misinformation. It's a never ending cycle.

Artists rendering of an upcoming magic convention in 2017

If you find yourself reading this and getting angry, you might be one of the ones who needs to take a step back and realize you could learn a thing or two. Put down your camera and cards and go learn how to actually perform in front of real people before you tell someone else how to do it poorly.

"It's better to know 4 things really well than 100 things badly" - Tom Mullica


Sunday, December 25, 2016

Colorblind as a bat...

Can you remember a time before Sharpies? I mean, the company has existed since the 60s but they didn't really take off until the 90s for magic. I got my first (and only) Sharpie thru bill in 1997. It was basic black. However since then a myrid of basic and exotic colors have come out. Some guys have built an entire career using them...

Maybe these will distract you from my Ramsey Subtlety?

Color Match

If you have been performing for 20 years or 20 days, you have likely had someone sign something. If you are in the USA it was with a Sharpie. My questions is this: Was it the right color for the job?

Believe it or not, there are certain colors that you SHOULD be using when you have items signed. I'm not some marker racist, but color does matter.
  • Blue: This color is our preferred go to for playing cards. Black and red just blend in and if it's a free choice it's a crap shoot. Blue will pop against any color, even court cards. 
  • Red: Don't you EVER have an American bill signed with a black marker. It is impossible to see even from up close. Red is the way to go. It can be seen from a very far distance and gives you instant recognition.
  • Black: For everything else. Black is good for things like balloons, coins, or other things with a good contrast.

Size DOES Matter

When you work anything other than close-up (and even then) you need the markings to be visible. By using the larger "Chisel tip" style markers, you increase the readability of the markings your helpers leave. Mac King has people sign a card with a HUGE marker.

This came with my Bowl-A-Rama but &$%# that trick!

It's the small details like this that come with performing, experimenting and caring about your audience and what they see/perceive.

Who are we to argue with Mac King?