Monday, September 27, 2004

So I was recently discussing magic competitions with some other performers and looking at some of the criteria in which they judge on. A rather odd thing came to our attention as one known convention has the judges base some of their score off of "Entertainment Value". Now I dunno about you guys but I don't find ballet entertaining, but some people do.

So who puts the power into these judges hands to deem what is entertaining when it is subjective all the way around? If you compete in a competition and perform illusions but 3/5ths of the judges like manipulation and think that is entertaining isn't that an unfair bias? What if an entire crowd of REAL people find your act entertaining but a small handful of people who may or may not be pros in your field do not? What happens then? You get a bad score and doubt yourself.

I say many magic competitions do more harm than good to someone. Just because some 60+ amateurs do not like what you do doesn't mean you should not do it. Life has been made up of people who said screw the naysayers and did what they wanted. Some of them were idolized... and some were forced to drink hemlock. The latter isn't seen as much anymore.. at least not in the US.

So remember when yer going into a competition, do not go in to win. Go in to have fun, show off what you can do, and remind people who you are. People who have competition acts don't always do well in the real world.... and that's where the money is.

This applies to stage and close up. Just because someone doesn't like the way you dress does that give them the right to count off of your skill or entertainment value? NO! They will do it tho'...

Just keep your eyes forward and don't forget who you are and where you want to go. It's your art.. not theirs.


Wednesday, September 22, 2004

I wanna rock all night.. and everyday.

KISS... no not the guys with the long tongue and strange make up. I am referring to the acronym. The very oddly phrased Keep It Simple Stupid. While not being overly polite, it does get the point across. Tonight I decided to perform cards across for the first time.. EVER!! First time mainly cuz' it's done a lot and it's just so damn easy. Of course this brings me to the point of this post.

You don't need the most recent shiny gadget or toy from Hank Lee or Elmwood Magic. All you need is your hands and a little balls. (That sure sounded better in my head.) The secret to great magic isn't skill, I mean it helps, but what you need is confidence. In everything you do. People follow and are drawn to those who portray they know what they are doing. It's how you manage an audience, make people believe what you say, and otherwise lead them down a path to their very own DEMISE!!

What is the vehicle down this path? YOU!! It's an easy thing to drive too. So much can be accomplished by a double lift or top change. Let's simplify that even to card forces and a card palm. With little or no trouble, you too can perform miracles. It's all in the presentation. Cards across and Phil Goldstein's "Chinese Las Vegas Pulse Reading" are good examples of this. Using just one simple move you become your own show... not your tricks. Magic should be a part of you not vice versa. As has been said here before, make the magic fit you, don't try to fit the magic like so many girls nowadays who try to squeeze into pants two sizes too small. It doesn't fit and looks horrid.

So while we learn new moves and buy new stuff to entertain ourselves and our satisfaction for new ideas, don't lose sight of what's important... you.

Keep it simple... OR DIE!!!


Sunday, September 19, 2004

I knew this site was gonna bite me in the ass...

Peter Loughran came across my review for Black Hole and the harsh thing I said at the end about Head Rush (The picture frame illusion they created). I didna like it and sometimes I am not one to mince words. If you could really move your head why use a picture frame? It's like box illusions... if yah gonna her in half.. why not just.. do it? So anyway, this brought up an interesting thing... if someone doesn't like what you do, do they not like you?

Of course they like you. Magic is what we do for ourselves as an artform to satisfy our desire to create and make other happy. (Well for some of us) If someone doesn't like our style, certain tricks, or character on stage does that mean that we suck in real life? Well maybe but not usually. So because of that I just wanna say that regardless that I may not like some of Loughran's products, (Hey some people liked the Elevator, some didn't. I thought it was a good idea.), from what I have seen he is a nice guy. Like so many other snowbacks (Term of endearment... it's a long story, trust me.) he is obviously nuts and pretty nice. (Doubt me? Look at the entire cast of SCTV. Nutz and seemingly nice guys... but I didna talk to them in emails much.. or at all)

SO yah, my writing style may seem very mean, brash, and mean spirited unless I say I don't like someone outright, this blog is for my feelings on magic... and sometimes, I just don't like certain products. I blame my family for all the ganja they smoked.

So go hug yer fave magician today... even if yah dun like that card trick they do with the two pieces of cardboard and a rubber band.


Monday, September 13, 2004

Just a little advice...

If you are one of the unfortunate lucky ones who have noticed the growing trend of off the wall and strange magicians and decided to join their ranks then congrats. It's a thankless, tough, and never ending uphill battle. If you would rather sacrifice easy money and doves (Not literally sacrifice doves.. well some of you might what do I know?) to create something you can be proud of that is unique and artistic, even if only in your head, then you are probably a little frustrated.

The world only wants what they know. Boxes to shove girls in for no reason, animals that get cheap applause, shiny smiling faces with no personality or charm, and rehearsed lines with no emotion or true feeling whatsoever. Trying to open the eyes of others is a difficult task but if you can stick with it, trudge thru the many people who don't think your weird act will fit in anywhere, and work hard at it you might just be rewarded for your efforts and not have to compromise your goals for anyone.

Good luck to those of you who look at life thru a cracked glass. We here at Fire Cat Studios salute you. Now get back to work....


Thursday, September 09, 2004

Let's talk about magic products. Looks like another assault on our pocket books by our neighbors north of the border. That's right that snowback Peter Loughran has created another "revolutionary" product. The Black Hole device. Is it a topit for your leg? Is it a fanny pack on your back? Who knows. For 40 bucks of yer cash for two it can't be much more than some cardboard and rubber bands right? Ever since the split decisions on the Elevator gimmick and it's price perhaps Loughran has wised up, but considering the useless exchange rate of the Canadian Loonie, he must be making a fortune on production costs of this new gimmick. It must be a two dollar device that according to him and his graphic design guy for this product, will make you "slap your forehead and go duh!".

In otherwords, it's a trip to the home despot and some time alone in your bathroom to construct. Much of magic is like that. After being at a magic convention all weekend and wandering the dealers room, magic is fast becoming the art of "What kinda useless crap can we macguyver into a new trick and sell for too much money?". So if you watch the video of this device vanishing a large silver bowl and then read it is made for the street performer then something is wrong. Even on stage the ability to hide or ditch a large metal anything and act casual and walk without a limp seems doubtful. I could be wrong. I'm tempted to check it out for myself but I want to hear a few more reviews that don't come from those fellatio tops-of-the-legs kissers at the Magic Soup Kitchen. If anyone who reads this... you know, out of the 5 of you... knows anything positive about the product lemme know. If it lives up to the hype that would be the amazing part about the shoe shebang.

After that god awful illusion with the picture frame it can't be much worse... right?


Monday, September 06, 2004

We went to the TAOM (Texas Association of Magicians) convention this weekend. Here is the VERY long report. Read it all or not. I dun care.

We got in thursday night and went to check out the hotel. Ran into some people I know. Twas fun just sitting around learning new in-jokes and talking shop. We eventually ended up at my good friend Claudia's. (And her roomates. None of them even read this so I won't mention Andrew and Mickey's name. No point.) Went to bed in a coooomfy bed. Woke up on...

Friday: Went to shell out mah 125$ to register and compete. I remember when this con used to cost 65$. Guess they realized they was getting screwed. Oh well. Wandered around the dealers room a bit, saw some more friends and fiends and watched Oscar Munoz' lecture. A pretty lax day. Went to the evening show which was plauged by bad technical difficulties.. mainly the techies sucked. I told Mischief that the evening shows were the best part and I think Friday was the dress rehearsal for SUCK!! The opening act damn near killed a dove, had some dumb as a rock assistants and wore a god awful powder blue tux thing. I couldn't tell if he was a girl or a guy from where I was.

So after apologizing to Mischief for the lackluster show and saying that the others would be ok we went back to the hotel and made nice with all of the magi's. Finally went back to Claudia's, (And Andrew's and Mickey's whom I am not gonna mention), and started to rehearse for the stage contest at 8 IN THE AM!! Don't they know real performers sleep in past noon? I guess not. Anywho, after Mischief went to bed I managed to forge.. er.. aquire him a badge for...

Saturday: 3 hours of sleep, up at 6:30 in the AM, and getting things ready to go kill ourselves on stage. Got to the theater and unloaded and awaited our turn in line. Killed time talking to two gals, one of which I have known for many years but never really talked to. (Found out she used to be scared of the scary guy in the trenchcoat. Go fig. She took photos and video of the act, so I'll have that up when I get it.)

It's out turn to go up, and we break out like mad men. Mischief hits me with that bat hard as hell and the chase is on. We're giving it our all. We try out new material with the living vent act, and show off a few new things in the weird routine. We're done, we're changed, someone taped the act.. thank god.

Honestly, we thought that the second contestant was gonna beat us. A very good manipulation with CD's act. Strong stuff. The other acts were.. intresting. Another CD act, with an unresolved ending, a few comedy acts, a dove act (real doves, not boxes of soap), and a female magi whose act has good potential and nice gams. Contest over, many compliments by people whose opinions I valued were given. We managed to even fool them with one of my pet effects, the scarf thru the hand.

Back to the hotel. We're tired as hell. We laze about, walk around, watch lectures.. good lectures too. Charlie Frye was an awesome guy and killer peformer. The man could hat trick Kelly into an orgasm. The close up show was ok up until the end and then it kicked ass with Shoot Ogawa (A very nice and funny performer in Japan), and Armando, a man whose act could fry your brain in one sitting. Brilliant stuff. Evenign show for Saturday was SUPERB. Eric Mead MC'd and did a helluvajob. The show opened with a young guy named Dan Sperry from Chicago (Where my heart is) with a dove act that was actually enjoyable. Others included Wayne Dobson, a man suffering from MS in a wheelchair but that didna stop him from having everyone in pain with laughter. Damn he was funny. One of the highlights was a guy with a TV act that KILLED. (I believe his name is Tony Chapek) Brilliant stuff, especially in reverse. Show was over and back to the hotel for more mingle.

Mischief went out to meet a girl and left me there to fend for myself in the lobby and was the last one there. Seeing Shoot Ogawa a tad drunk was amusing and watching performers talk, teach, and perform is always great. I crashed out in a chair until Mischief got there and we were on the way back to.. BAM!! WTF was that? A piece of Houston had taken a bite out of the car. Oil pan damaged, car smoking, losing power. It was like the damn cardassians hit the enterprise. (I can't believe I just said that) Luckily enuff Andrew came to the rescue to take me to get ready to be funny at 8 in the AM for the close up competition. Which leads us to..

Sunday: I get to the hotel in time to set up and get in line for my turn to perform. Three rooms to perform in. The first ROCKED, the second I think is where they were putting the deceased con-goers, and the third room was a bit lax but still fun. After that, I took an hour nap until Shoot Ogawa's lecture. Good times. Got some food thanx to the generosity of someone's mom. Then it was time to see if we won anything.

In a word, Nope. In two words, nadda thing. In three words, WTF!! The one person no one expected to win did. From what I heard everyone who WASN'T a judge thought we should have taken it, but it was some tuxedo clad young kid doing doves and card manip. Gee thaz original. His act was rough... this isn't just saying this cuz' he won. It's the 13 years of performing experince telling me this. The guy we thought was gonna win was MAD! Cest' la vie. We didna go to win merely perform and have fun.. and we did. The fact we were the most talked about act that competed made me happy. As for close up, many compliments abounded, but still I lost to Cups and Balls and glitter covered lemons. Second time to lose to a tux and cups and balls. No more competing in TX for me.

Evening show rocked as much ass. Mac King is a god. (To quote P&T) Arden James lives up to the hype and Charlie Frye is a juggling dynamo. Closed out with an illusions how from a Canadian couple who werne't too bad. Their last illusion was very nice.

Once again back to the hotel. Watching people do shots from a thumb tip was well worth the 300$ I had to shell out to help repair the car.