Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Some people should give thanks to Sylvester the Jester for bringing the concept of the Appearing Pole to the mass market. Now I dunno if he TOTALLY originated it but he was the one who made it the most famous and found the best resources for it.

Just sayin'...


P.S. - It seems the man who started the trend of magic blogs has finally made good his threat to go bye-bye... or he's screwing with alla us. Regardless.. nothing lasts forever. Even cold November rain.< /crappy song reference >

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Recreating The Wheel

As magicians we sure do like to flex our creative muscle to create a method for an effect that fits our style or comfort level of handling. When it comes down to it tho', no matter how you accomplish it the outcome is always.. the same. Mind you as magicians we're the only ones who know but do we really need 149 ways to do an Ace Assembly. Is one method of Torn and Restored paper better than the other when they all come to the same conclusion? Is it really necessary to use a gimmick for three flight? Only YOU can prevent forest fire... er.. only YOU can answer that question.

With that in mind let's talk about the classics. They are called that because they will never cease to amaze people and bore the snot out of the people who know how it's done. I am sure when James Stewart was alive he didn't wanna watch "It's a Wonderful Life" every X-mas. I KNOW Tim Curry isn't too big a fan of watching himself in the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Why? They lived thru it. I know that anytime I see Linking Rings I tell the person next to me to wake me when it's over. Why? Cuz' I can do the silly things but refuse to. Personal opinion. Some magic I never get tired of seeing. That's just the way it is, some things will never change (Bruce Hornsby).

However since classics work well on the mundanes who write our checks we still have versions of Cups and Balls ranging from see-thru cups to milk shake container. We have linking rings made of barbed wire. We have Zombie Balls that look like tables and big red volleyballs (Which still confuses me why it looks like that.) So it's not so bad to take a classic and make it your own unique entity. Most magicians have a favorite classic. For me it's the multiplying balls. (Hence the eyeball routine I do.) I'm not doing anything frighteningly new but I have dressed it up to meet my standards and outlook on life. Does that make it noteworthy? Hell no! Is it the personality and performance I put into? I'd say yes but that's really up to the person viewing it.

So just remember. Even if 3/4ths of the world's magicians do cups and balls you could find a way that's never been done and stand out among the crowd. (And win a TAOM close up convention. They love cups and balls there. TRUST ME.)

So become classically trained. It might do yah good.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

So think about this the next time you watch someone perform like Greg Wilson or David Regal....

A guy comes into the room. You know he is a magician. He knows you are an audience there to see him. His job is to make you suspend your belief and question what you know thru his medium of magic. Mind you magic has a new connotation with each new Harry Potter book and film. They show that "real" magic takes a lot of schooling and practice. If it were real it would garner much respect and responsibility. (You'll notice that not a ONE of them does card tricks.)

Now take the modern conjurer. He brings out a deck of cards, shiny cups and.. crochet balls? He urges you to participate and remove a card and then finds it in an unusual manner. Perhaps he makes all of the aces assemble in one spot. Maybe coins penetrate a table. Whatever the outcome he always seems surprised at it.... which is suspect in of itself.

If you were really a magician I doubt you would be totally surprised when something you have done before worked. Maybe if it was truly the first time. Also it is possible that things would just HAPPEN by accident in your favor (or not) and you would be more used to them than shocked I would think. If you have been studying hard and lived with magic all your life you would not be phased so much as maybe annoyed.

That is.. if you were really a magician.


Monday, November 14, 2005

Ok don't get me wrong. I like online demo videos. (Unless they are so blurry or poor quality they look like this one here. However because of the rise of sites like sleightgeek and Magic Video Depot, (Which are nice sites with kool people on them, don't get me wrong), we are getting magic that looks better on camera than in real life.

Today's magicians, the younger ones especially, are doing ADD magic. They develop these effects that are one trick ponies and then sell it or show it to everyone before it gets a few years of audience flight time. Hey it looks good on camera it'll work everywhere. Not so true.

Magicap is one such of these effects. Great idea. Good concept. Looks great on video. Little more cumbersome in person. It's got a TON of uses but if you are smart about it you will only use it for one or two of it's many uses. It's not a whole routine in itself, it's part of one.

The other problem I have with effects like this is they are all shown being performed with fast movement, jerky action, and swift effects. Many of our magical ancestors would say go slower. Matter of fact with Magicap there is a way to present it that looks like magic.. not a trick.

All I am saying is spend some more time performing your effects before releasing them for sale. You might discover a better way of doing it...

or not at all.


Wednesday, November 09, 2005

I have the fortunate opportunity to work at a video production office that happens to be run by a magician. He gets to record a lot of convention footage and stuff for archives and whatnot. I help edit them and such and because of that I have seen some really good magical acts.. and sad to say... some really bad ones. Acts that leave me saying to myself, "And I'm still broke?"

Many of the magicians that come thru on these tapes are doing their "Competition" acts. An 8 minute act of doves, cards, candles, manipulation, and an otherwise amusing little vignettes. Such is Arthur Trace. His act involves a modern art theme. His website is sadly lacking in information about his specific magic acts. I do wish he dressed more the part of someone messing with a painting. As it is so far he looks like a museum curator or one of those latte' vinte drinking art snob gallery guys. (All black, jacket, etc) While his act is very strong and unique he suffers from the same as most other magi. No personality or memorable character to grasp onto. Just another face in the crowd.

Mind you I have gotten off subject. So many magicians spend so much time on a competition act I think they lose touch with performing not just for but TO an audience. Remember, the fourth wall is only there if you don't tear it down. (The fourth wall is a theater term where you play facing the audience but do not acknowledge they exist. Sometimes it is good to break the fourth wall barrier and sometimes not depending on the presentation.)

Basically these acts are the centerpiece of their show and the rest of it is just a variation on a theme. If you decide that you want to work magic conventions all your life then go for it. Create a magician pleasing magic competition act... or become unique in all that you do and see what real people like. Don't forget to research and ask and NEVER be afraid to get feedback from "laymen".

I've said it before, I'll say it again.. and again.. and again.. and again..


Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Fear and Loathing...

It is our job as magicians to make the impossible possible. Some people can naturally think at right angles. Some of the best art, music, literature, poetry, and much of the classic artforms we highly respect were all done by people who were honestly stoned off their ass. They did enough drugs to be not only invincible but realize that NOTHING was impossible.

I'm not advocating drug use here, however anyone who has taken a hallucinogen will tell you that when the text on a book starts dancing around it's a fun time had by all. People can be distracted by ant hills for three hours on the right kind of drugs. I personally know a guy who said the best thing he ever did for his magic career was take LSD... mind you it didn't do much for his military career but whatever.

Learn to think like you are on drugs. Don't walk the straight line. Think in a circle. If you wanna take them go for it. IF you are like me who has NEVER touched a drug in his life good for you too. Just remember: The impossible is NOT impossible.

"If you don't think drugs have done good things for us, then take all of your records, tapes and CD's and burn them." - Bill Hicks