Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Stupid Americans...

Really.. we are. We might just be one of the only countries that don't support the variety arts. Ever wonder why people from other countries are so good and unique? It's encouraged, that's why!! It's usually a family thing. Hell, it's looked DOWN upon to try to NOT be a clown in some families.

A lot of parts of the US seems to have never grasped the idea that art doesn't just hang on a wall. You don't just stare at it in a gallery or in a living room over a fireplace. It's to be experienced and enjoyed.. sometimes in groups... it's like SEX!! Er.. skip that last bit there...

I doubt we'll ever get to the point in this country where what we do is appreciated, encouraged, and *gasp* even paid well for... but that's no reason to not try right?

Being a communist doesn't look so bad sometimes.


Sunday, December 28, 2008

How many times do I have to say this?

Even tho' a few of my photos might be a tad vague on the magic aspect of what I do, I try to make them vaguely interesting.

I want you to take a look at ANY of this dood's photos. If you were shown these images without knowing what he did, could you guess? None of them have a magic quality to them. Sure they are artistic and expensive looking. That doesn't mean anyone but you knows what the hell is going on.

Photos like this always make me wonder if the person can deliver the goods. Just because your promo material is slick, doesn't mean you are. In the world we live in, it's not as impressive to have an abundance of over-produced promo material as ANYONE with a computer and the right hardware can make themselves look good.

So the moral of this story is, if you are going to go thru the trouble, make sure people know who and what you are...

Which hopefully isn't huge tool.


Saturday, December 27, 2008

This about sums it all up...

Friday, December 26, 2008

An inconvenient truth...

I was having a chit-chat with a fiend on IM. It went a little something like this:

FBL: When magic is involved, people don't want pretty and fun, they want mind boggling. >.> Unfortunately
Me: well they want what they want with everything, familiarity.
Me: If they have to think outside their comfort zone, they don't get it
Me: They NEED it, but..
FBL: but they don't want to do it. Which is really lame.
Me: mm hmm
Me: If you appeal to everyone then you work more, but you say less.
FBL: Which is why I try to do a little bit of everything.

This is a pretty accurate description of the entertainment world at larger. No matter how "artsy" you are, people want something they are used to. Hell, this is true in any aspect of life. Does this mean you shouldn't stand out? Hell no! There is a market for everything. Being different means you just have to work harder to find it.

This is why to this day some people don't know who Penn and Teller is or like them. They like to challenge people and their little worlds. Some people don't jive with that. It's ok... there are plenty of others who "get it". So don't let the man get you down. There is plenty of work for all of us...

Except for you sucky people. Pack it up and go home.


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I see a red door...

And I want to paint it CHARTREUSE!!

So tonight I finally sat down and devised my own handling for Andrew Mayne's Twisted. This is an effect I feel didna get much press when it came out and has great potential when used under the right circumstances. Most of the magicians who don't understand the concept of "right place, right time" for effects don't understand the definition of the word context.

An effect might be better off in a stand up situation, or work better as a close-up piece or even play better on a camera in a big auditorium. Shawn Farquhar ends his big show with a card trick and it kills. Remember: Just because it doesn't work for every situation doesn't mean it won't work for ANY situation.

Now to celebrate the holidays what better way to say I love you than FINISH HIM!!

Everything in it's place.


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Just to get this out of the way now...

Before it's too late.


Damaged Goods...

Let's face it. Everyone who does not fall into the tiny niche' of "normal" society, (which is just about everybody), is where they are for a reason. Just about everyone in the entertainment business has issues. You look at almost any famous person deeply enuff and you will find some deep seated psychosis related to some shortcoming that may or may not exist anymore.

They are not all physical either. Sometimes it's some bizarre attraction to power they never had. Whether it's for money, control, admiration, or adoration it's there. Of course this does not hold true for everyone. There are those who have an honest to some deity calling to go against the grain and believe they are on a mission to further the art and expose themselves and others to something new.

Once you stop doing something for a reason and are just going thru the motions, it might be time to re-evaluate your priorities. It's like my theory why some bands music starts to suffer as their career goes on and on. They run out of things to say and are just taking up space to make a buck or fulfill some previous contractual obligation.

Be honest with yourself sometime. Really take a good deep look and figure out why you do what you do. Is it selfish or perhaps you weren't hugged enuff. Of course if you are well aware of yer issues, then you are one step ahead of the game. I will tell you who might very well be the most screwed up of all of us tho'....

Balloon twisters.


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Into the unknown...

First, some funny...
The Blog-O-Cuss Meter - Do you cuss a lot in your blog or website?

So maybe some advice to counter-balance some of the bitching I been doing recently. I do a few effects that I would not call old, but definitely obscure. Some people *koff*ViToLuPo*koff* have made a living going thru books like Tarbell and making a career off magic effects no one remembers. They say if you want to hide something put it in print. I agree and would like to add that you can also release an effect into the market and it will eventually get overshadowed with the latest "I'm not ADD, OOH SHINY!!"

If you take an effect that got minimal press upon it's release and can spin gold from straw with it, then you will be revered as some kind of demi-god. (Which is WAY better than a Demi Moore god) Take this trick for example. Not very well known and not hard to figure it out if you know squat about magic. However, in the right hands, a whole routine could be worked out with this. (I got one in my head right now actually)

How about this little gem? I got the chance to play with one of these. It's a great visual and was fairly ignored in it's release. In the right hands...

Speaking of hands, I always liked the idea behind this trick and thought it would be great in the middle of a rubber band routine.

So there are some ideas to start you looking back in time to find the treasures that might have just gotten released at the wrong time. Like when The Adventures of Ford Fairlane got released the same week as the first Batman movie. Take a step back and see what you can find.

You don't even need a Delorean.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Guilding the Munster...

I was just watching the performance of Joshua Jay's effect The Big Deal. It's your usual gambling-ish premise with the usual kicker ending of some impossible to get hand of cards.

My main problem with this type of presentation is it's a gilding the lily with hints of the dreaded "Too Perfect Theory". In this demonstrations effect, you find a card thru impossible circumcisions.. er.. stances. Since the premise of odds is stressed, the conclusion of the selected card being found is impressive enough. However, in this case the magician mentality kicks in and he can't help almost thumbing his nose at the audience, which might lead some to question the fairness in which he had spent so much time building up.

A lot of the problem with many magic plots is that we feel EVERY routine has to have a HUGE ending. It has to have a magical ending even. This is not always the case. Once you have gone to the trouble of setting up the idea that the odds are against you and then kick the people watching in the balls with this impossible feat of stacking the deck, it almost cheapens it. By revealing you knew what was going to happen from the get go, it lessens the impact of the package as a whole.

A lot of us want to make sure we drive home the point we're magicians, MASTERS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE SARMOTI!! Er.. sorry.. However, there is a big difference between good magic and good theater... and if you eat your vegetables and get good grades, I might just tell you what it is someday.

Bow before Mr. Happy Pants.


Saturday, December 13, 2008

Collecting dust...

That's what most magicians props do. Let's face it. A lot of artists are pack rats and today's generation are no different. How many unused magic props do YOU have in your domicile? Decorating your shelves and book cases? Lining your drawers. (Not the ones you have on you twits)

Some years ago, some ass klowns decided to release a few "Custom" decks of cards. The flourisher kiddies went batshit crazy for them.... that is until they realized that the black ink that covered those cards got a bit tacky after playing with them for a week.

Since then, the USPC has found that there is a market for different types of decks of cards and the magicians are in no short shortage of helping them along with that little project. We have become inundated with people clamoring for decks that only look good and serve no real function. The great debate of course is, "Real deck vs custom deck" because people will believe something they are not familiar with is a trick deck.

Like most debates, it's silly. However I personally believe in not giving people reason to be suspicious of ANY of your props... and do as few card tricks as possible. Don't get me wrong, I love cards.. I just happen to know a few tricks with OTHER props.

What is really happening is we are just feeding the collectors market. Mind you I don't really understand what army gear has to do with card decks or magic.. but maybe I am out of the loop. Maybe this is just some retro flashback to that fad of magicians wanting army issue card decks. Black and green backed cards that could be seen under red light. Maybe this is all some strange trend that will eventually stop and people will wake the hell up and start pushing magic back into an artistic direction...

But prolly not.


Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Youth is for exploding...

Or something like that.

Regardless, next time you think about putting out a magic product for them "Street" kids, just remember, This is who you are selling to.

Makes yah proud don't it?


Sunday, December 07, 2008

What's a moment of your time worth?

As some of you may have seen in my latest, non-80's music related poll, I posed the question, "Is the ridiculous set-up for modern close-up magic really worth it?". Many of you said no, it wasn't. Two of you said it was. Well I hate to tell you this, but you two guys are WRONG!!!

Kidding. Well sort of. There is a time and place for some set up. If you are doing a show for some high profile clientele and want to blow them away with something that takes a ton of prep time right before, or on a TV show where you know it will pay off... sure. Go ahead. However, for those who do walk-around or repetition magic where you have NO control over your surroundings, easy reset is king.

The trend in a LOT of magic over the last 5 years or so, is that of right place right time. I blame the Asshat and Criss Fishing Rod mostly for their TV magic shenanigans. Effects like Ladybug or the newly released Frost or Xile, where you have a window of opportunity to perform it just baffles me. I just assume they get played with for a while, then after realizing it's more trouble than it's worth ends up in the junk drawer or for the current generation, e-bay.

There is always a dialogue that should be brought to your attention when considering a new purchase. "Will this fit me?" Well I suppose if your style is that of homeless street urchin, then probably (or you could go from looking like Jon Armstrong to "random street magician #286" to sell your trick because the man said so). Usually what goes thru my head when I see this stuff is, "What the hell were they smoki.." er.. "Do I have something just as strong if not stronger in my repertoire."

The answer is usually a resounding, Hell Yes!

This kind of thinking is great for TV and great to sell to kids with their parents money, but in the real world that insect farm you had to order in the mail isn't going to hold a candle to a properly done sponge ball routine.

Besides, how much pocket space are you willing to dedicate to bleach pens and Tupperware?


Thursday, December 04, 2008

Multum in Parvo...

For those who don't know what that means, it has nothing to do with canine diseases.

Long gone are the days of books filled with arcane secrets as the only resource to find magic effects. Current trends have created a market for single effect DVD's for the same price as products with MANY effects. The magic youth market is now mostly composed of mindless little consumers who mindlessly follow certain performers or websites and merely turn up their nose at anything not "hip" or "cool".

Why is this? Why do some performers release one trick pony effects when they could EASILY put them on one DVD so you can save some room on your shelves? Simple. It's because the happy capitalists realized they can shear you out of more money by putting out lackluster magic on shoddy production values. YOU! YOU are enabling this! Everyone one of you misinformed little twats who mindlessly follow the herds are making this happen.

The only saving grace is when these effects are offered up as a download. Sure the price is the same cuz' yer paying for the secret, but that should make you realize something... they screw you because they can. Let me offer you up a story to illustrate what I mean.

I was working at the state fair and liked to partake of the occasional slush puppy. They had two sizes. small and... not as small. Well one day I got curious and kept my small glass and ordered the next size up. Guess what? The contents from the larger glass fit into the smaller one. So from then on I just got the cheaper one. What does this have to do with magic? Simple. There are others who prey upon your ignorance because they can. People don't ask questions. They don't challenge anything.

I think it's time we speak up and force these charlatans who call themselves "magicians" that we don't want their over-priced one at a time spoonfed BS anymore. I would rather wait for a WHOLE DVD of effects that cost the same as the simple effect ones. Maybe even, GASP, put it all down into the all too vanishing art of lecture notes. Remember those? Oh wait, I forgot, we live in a world where the internetz have created an army of kids who can't use punctuation or the spell checker function. We just ROTFLMAO our way thru life isn't that right?

You might think I am a little off the hook here, but look around you. It's true and you know it. Problem is it's the evolution, and the only way to stop evolution of anything is genocide. Since that's never gonna happen ,there will periodically be people like me who will stand and shout at the wind to no avail. Why bother? Someone has to do it....

And because the emperor has no clothes.


Monday, December 01, 2008

Can we talk?

So I did watch the world magic awards. I want to comment on a few of the things I saw on that show. First off, the editing needed some work. The canned obviouscanned laughter and applause, in my opinion, takes away from the authenticity of the performer and their act. (Much like changing their music, but I won't go into that) When you put in reactions that were obviously NOT there to begin with all too often it just gets annoying.

So hey, what about those performers hunh? Kirby Van Angel.. er.. Birch. Talk about selling out. I understand altering your look to keep up with the times but changing your look to look like someone else to jump on THEIR bandwagon... please. Get a better agent man. Speaking of stuff that made no sense, what was up with that Harrary thing? I think that "TV magic" like that have ceased to have the impact that they used to. It's a different world. Vanishing the statue of liberty has been done. Let's move on hunh?

I'd like to take a moment to talk about the shadow box illusion. Ok so you create a silhouette of some sorts. Hands, a person, etc. It appears and vanishes and alla that, then suddenly a woman appears from the box (Or cylinder.. thing). Gee I wnder who was making those shadows and stuff... hmmm... This is the inherent problem with magicians. They feel compelled to take your hand and walk you down the garden path. It's like in the Prestige. Who wants to be under the stage while someone else gets the applause? Certainly not your wife because let's face it, you marry your assistant, that's one less pay check right? So why not expose the method to those other perhaps more impressive magical moments for one really BIG ONE!!

I dunno. I'm biased I guess. Speaking of biased, Florian Zimmer's paintball bullet catch. I am wondering why no one has stepped up to him and said, "That thing with the neck? Knock it off!" It's dumb and makes no sense. Someone commented his outfit looked like he just got done fighting off some other magician backstage. (Also, why is it the audience is in all these nice suits and the magicians are dressed like homeless kids. When did THAT happen. I missed a memo apparently)

All in all I was not impressed. Choppy noticeable editing, poor directing, and the cavalcade of the same old crap we have been seeing for the last 5-10 years. I think the best part was Doogie actually improving a few lines and getting impaled at the end of Alonso's trick.

I miss Gary Oullet.


Saturday, November 29, 2008

For those who want to have a proper url in their bookmarks, I have officially purchased thanx to the advice of Brian Brushwood.

Adjust your setting accordingly.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

I watched the world magic awards...

and I got inspired to make this



(PS: It just dawned on me I misspelled "ridiculous" in my Poll question. Oops!)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

We're all mad here...

Sorry about that last poll I made. I didna have anything to put there so I amused myself with some song lyrics. This current one has a bit more relevance.

Anywho,I was watching the video for the new magic effect Frost ,(of which I have some comments about, but I'll save those for a later date), and someone on there made some comment that made me realize something: We're making people crazier!!

Have you ever been trapped by someone spouting some very out there psycho-babble? I mean bat shit crazy talk? Well if you go around trying to pawn off your magical skill as "real" powers, YOU are helping the crazies stay that way. You merely affirm their tinfoil hat wearing insanity! You! It's YOUR DAMN FAULT!!

Knock it off.


Saturday, November 22, 2008

I am sure I have more to talk about than this.. but not right now. This is the last weekend for the Wonderground until sometime next year. Last night, there was a young lady selling an unusual deck of cards she had produced using her artwork. It's called the Jill Deck.

I will say it is a must have for card collectors because it is unique. Imagine doing a color change.. but with a bra!! Even has gaffs to play with. You can do a sex change right in front of someone's eyes.. without having to go to Sweden! Take a look and I'll be in touch...

not in that creepy Catholic way either.


Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Just watch...


Sunday, November 16, 2008

OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

No shit...


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Give em' an inch..

A little forgiveness goes a long way. Hell just ask anyone who has ever suckered their wife into believing they were just playing "Twister" with her sister... naked... without the spinner.. or mat.

Where was I?

Ah yes, leeway. (Or is that segue?) Magicians are very critical of other magician's acts. Some just don't like them, some don't think they are "Good enuff" and others want a deeper meaning into character and motivation. Now I am not saying this is a bad thing. However, on the flip-side you have the non-magicians who look at an act and think "Well that didn't suck" or "Wow, I can't believe I just paid 80 bucks to sit and watch Believe." (Translation: Well that sucked.)

Sometimes magic doesn't make sense. (Did I just say sometimes?) I mean why does ANYONE produce playing cards from the air? Because they can? Sure why not! Why produce doves... or any feathered creature for that fact? Why why WHY!? Simple... because we can.

There is a point where you just have to step back and remember that the people watching us aren't (usually) asking themselves, "Well what's their motivation here?" Especially if you are doing something they have never seen. They're just happy to see something that isn't linking rings probably. People are also not as stupid as we think. (ok well some of them are but..) There comes a point where we have some leeway as magicians because in their eyes, we are just that... magicians. They know that we know that they know that we know it's a show. They know we are just joke blowers trying to give them some eye candy to take the edge off their tedious little lives. So they suspend some disbelief and put on their tinfoil hats and come along for the ride. We like that about them. They give us a lot of room to play and accept a lot because of who we are and what we do. We like that about them.

So just remember, that the magicians may not dig your grave, but then again.. they don't have to. It's ultimately just us and them. Love them, let them love you...just make sure you use protection.

Like a taser.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A mean mother...

They say necessity is the Mother of Invention. In magic I think it might be boredom. There is a rather unseemly trend that you too may well have noticed in those who create the magical effects that drain the pocket books of the uninformed and unsuspecting. Most of the inventors of magic effects are not the best performers of said effects.

Have you ever been watching a demo video and thought to yourself, "You would think the creator of the effect could perform it better". I know I have... hell I might be the only one, but that's besides the fact. Some people just cannot entertain anything but thoughts. Like magician savants.. without the magician part. It's not their fault. Their brain merely thinks at right angles when it comes to contraption and methods. The synapses that would normally give them social skills or that gift or brazen showbiz glitz are being used elsewhere... like how to make a bong out of an apple.

There are of course those who have both panache for performing AND creativity while others are just good performers and hack-tastic magicians. There is no wrong thing to be... however, if you are a shite presenter, you REALLY need to find someone to explain yer material for you or else you risk some MST3K type ridicule whilst watching yer instructional video... or being known as the magical cure for insomnia.

Know yer role!


Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Yer OUT!!

So last night I was at an election party thing. A tipsy woman from the Ukraine was wanting to see some magic. Lucky for her the room was full of them. She took a quarter I was doing some stuff with and clasped her hands around it and wanted me to make it vanish. Now before I tell you how I handled this, think for a second... what would you do hot shot? What.. would..

(Jeopardy music plays)

If you answered shoot the hostage you are correct. Regardless, the only thing you can do when someone asks you to do something you KNOW you can't do, is to answer with humor. That will disarm their silliness. Ever had someone grab a playing card and ask you "What card is this?" I always answer, "It's a red card". No matter what they say, I reply, "On the back" they will usually laugh and hand me the card back.

Of course there are those times when someone REALLY wants to put the card in the deck themselves. They will wrest the deck from you and try to put it where THEY want. Do you get rude and struggle with them? No. Get yer hands on the card for a second and crimp the hell out of the corner. Now who cares where they put it. Hell even a glimpse will help you. If you can still be amazing under their idea of "test conditions" then you will come off looking much better.

Always remain in control of the situation, but it's ok to sometimes make them believe they are the ones calling the shots. However, it is ok to politely walk away from someone who is too drunk to be accommodating.

As for the lady, I fell back on the old stock line, "I have made it vanish, and now it's back. Have a look!" So she gave up the coin and I later put it in a bottle of water. Sometimes the best misdirection is alkeehal. The moral of this story is don't be afraid to let your helper have their way sometimes. It might make you look better in the end.

And some of you need all the help you can get,


Saturday, November 01, 2008

People are strange...

When yer a stranger. Showin' yer penis scares em' awa.... wait, what was I talking about? Ah yes. Being strange. We live in a world today when somethings are oddly taboo. Even with guys like Criss Fishing Rod running around pulling coins out of his arm and screaming "MINDFLAKE!" in yer face, people are still too caught up in the image is everything ideal. If 7-up has taught us anything.. no wait.. if those we consider masters of our craft were not afraid to be a bit aloof or non-sequitur, why should we be?

Magic at it's very heart in nonsense anyway. A good 3/4ths of what we do makes no sense, but it is thru that nonsense that we can express ourselves and bring some enlightenment to the world. Much like what we call surreal, is really just bits of random we're not used to. Magic, much like life, is very random. I'm not just referring to people who pull doves and candles from their ass for no reason, (but really.. why do you do that?), but what sense does it make to pull playing cards from the air? What is our motivation for vanishing.. well, anything? There are extremes sure, but isn't there in everything?

If those we revere were not afraid to pull a coin from their nose or pour salt on a newspaper, why should we sneer at the thought of doing something a little off-color. Something a tad out of the norm (Nielsen)? It's our JOB! Don't be afraid to have fun on-stage. Life is serious enough. Do people really need to see more of it when they want to be entertained? I don't think so. Let your freak flag fly.

Let's go out and scare the norms!


Thursday, October 30, 2008

Glad yer into it...

There is a lot to be said for enjoying what you do. If a time ever comes when it starts to feel like work.. stop doing it.

I don't understand not being 100% into what you do when you hit a stage. I also cannot FATHOM how you can be an entertainer and have skill and yet not, even in the SLIGHTEST way, play to the crowd. Especially when yer doing a silent act. It's even MORE important! It makes my wind wobble.

It also angers me that lackluster entertainment runs rampant in this world. Here is some advice: Regardless of yer day, even if yer wife left, killed your dog, and lit yer house on fire, it's still wrong to take it out on your audience. Hot glue on that fake smile for a day if you have to, but despite the fact we might be our own bosses we whore ourselves out to someone else from time to time and they wanna feel they got their money's worth well after they have wiped themselves off with the hotel curtains. (Too far?) Be pissed and bored on your own time.

The show must go on.. and on.. and on...


Tuesday, October 21, 2008

I do not think that work means what you think it means...

So the last week (and sporadically over the last few months) the topic of ethics have cropped up in our magic discussions. Now most of us equate ethics in magic to mean giving credit where it might be due or not ripping off someone else's stuff or even exposure and how one goes about it.

Well there are some other types as well that are very much at the seamy underbelly of the entertainment world. Being two faced is frowned upon, especially in a community as small as the one of working pros. Problem is, most people can't keep their mouths shut and word gets around. If you talk smack about someone while to their face you are all smiles and hugs, you will get caught and you will get a bad rap. I don't go out of my way to make enemies OR friends on this journal, but sometimes I step on someone's tricks and they don't like it. Thaz fine. However, it's like the old saying goes, "Don't shit where you eat".

Life is too short to make enemies, and the person you alienate today, could be the person who could have suggested you for your dream job tomorrow. Do you really want to take that chance? If you have a problem with someone, don't waste your energy or time or mental space on them. Ignore them, be cordial, but don't go out of your way to help them.. unless of course it benefits you. (that is a WHOLE other can of snakes I will talk about later)

Don't bite the hand that could come back to bite you in the ass.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

No offense...

But these guys bitching about getting ripped off just sounds like karma coming back to bite them in the ass.

Just ask Jim Pace.


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Lies all lies!!

So this weekend I was performing at Jeff McBride's Wonderground. (Which I highly recommend). Got to meet some faboo people and see some performances. Something hit me this weekend while watching some stuff... we are a bunch of damned liars.

Ok well some of us more than others. I am all for setting tone and character and whatnot, but when you go so far as to say "This is the first trick I ever learned as a kid", and yer in yer 30's, you better not SUCK at it, or you will reek of LIES!!

"I remember my grandfather showing me this when I was.. " STOP IT, YER ADOPTED!! My issue I guess is, if you are not drawing from real life experience, and drawing from what you KNOW, then why should the audience care. If yer the 8th magician they have heard say this exact shpeel from, then some might become suspicious. Be true to thyself. When you are drawing from real events, even a little bit, it will show thru and let the audience in a bit. If you keep them at bay with yer little black lies, then you will be lost in a sea of magicians who believe they are being unique.. by doing something they saw someone else do.

Fitzkee wrote, "People are interested in one thing.. people." Don't be just another talking head. That was a band in the 0's and they did a fine job without anyone else's help. Just be yourself..

If you don't who will wear your pants?


Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Right back where I started from...

Well kids, we made it to Vegas in one piece. Got in and met up with our lovely host for the week, Jordan Wright and went to see him as part of Jeff McBride's show Magic at the Edge. (If you don't know who Jeff McBride is, stop reading this journal and punch yourself in the face with a stapler.. now!)

If you get the chance to see the new bits and old faves in the current venue, do so. Also, (Shakes the magic hate ball) chances are good I will be performing this weekend at the Wonderground weekend venue. So stop on by Street of Cards this Friday and Sat night to see a live feed from the venue and maybe even some bits from me.

Until then... get a staple remover.


Sunday, September 28, 2008


I got it.. I figured out why the Asshat does theses stunts. It's so simple, WHY didn't I see this before!? In every stunt he has done, he has been hooked up to a catheter and been in full view of people at all times. These are not coincidences!! He has a secret fetish for catheter and a not so secret fetish of exhibitionism!! Holy crap the Asshat is into kinky S&M and has found a way to make money off of it!!

Don't believe me? Watch this:

You can thank Itricks for this revelation.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Selling your sole...

I'm not too sure how I feel about another magician using someone else's tricks to A: make a name for himself and 2: Whore said products out to all the other wannabe magi's who own a TV or can work a computer.

I know that collaboration is a big part of magic and no magician is an island. (hell most magicians don't even qualify as dirt let alone a whole island) My issue is, with so much potential and room to blow yer own horn, why do you need a huge back up section? (boy someone is analogy happy today)

I think thaz all I have to say right now...


Friday, September 26, 2008


I wish my answering machine would talk to me.

Anywho, for those who may not have heard, Bizzaro will be invading Las Vegas in about a week's time. We are picking up shop and moving out to the desert to see what kind of insanity awaits for us. So if anyone has any advice, warnings, or hook-ups, lemme know.

This of course means posting will be scarce, but I will report when I have the chance and probably have a whole SLEW of new things to bitch about in the next few months. However for now I want to talk about This. Ever heard (or used) the line, "lemme see yer hand, no the clean one. Oh that was the clean one."? How about people saying you shouldn't use lines like that because it makes the spectator feel bad.

I agree that you should not attack a spectator head on with cheap shots. If you are going to insult an audience, do it to all of them. The problem with getting people up onstage is you are dealing with a crap shoot of possibly unstable individuals who could come up onstage with a fear or leave with a new one because of you. Having someone hold a prop, then having it collapse while they hold it can be dangerous. If they already have a low self image or feeling of being useless, and you get that one person, they could very well go home that night and hang themselves because of YOU!!

Handing a breakaway wand to a kid is funny...ish. Handing someone an object you claim to be very important and then it breaks is just poor comedy. If anything bad is going to happen, the performer should take it on because they have the ability to fix it (if they so desire). There is good-hearted ribbing, and then there is downright insulting. Some performers will NEVER say anything verbally off-key to anyone onstage... and those guys have some boring ass acts. Seriously tho', if it within the parameters of your character to be a bit of a dick to your helpers, and it works (Being the key element here) then go for it. Don't buy a prop that will get cheap laughs at someone's expense just because you aren't funny enuff to do it on your own.

Besides, the money you save today might save the life of some loser tomorrow.


Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Notorious Biggie Fries...

So in usual fashion, I am taking this opportunity to whore out my own magical effects. This time around, we at Fire Cat Studios bring to you, FOILED AGAIN. Imagine producing a jumbo half-dollar coin and then peeling the top of it down to reveal it's chocolate underneath. You then reseal it and hand it off to the nearest bystander and they find it to be solid METAL! Imagine no longer! You can have this amazing ability! It is within your grasp!! How you ask? Go Here. Want to see what it looks like? Look below. (Note: there is no switching involved. It is a custom made gaff that works with any three inch jumbo half-dollar coin.)

Tastes great, less filling.


Monday, September 15, 2008

What you make of it...

First off, for those who only read this thru RSS, you miss out on the polls AND the new feature of pretty much showing how big a dork you are by reading my posts. So for those of you who eschew the main site, you might wanna pop in sometime.

So the other day I was looking at a Magic Maker's catalog from last year someone left under my couch. (I'm looking at you Aaron Stone) Many of you prolly know I am not a fan of teh Magic Maker's DVD products. You also know I am a big believer in the concept of "name recognition". While looking thru the catalog and seeing some of the guys who have put out MANY DVD's under their production it got me thinking... "It's nice to be know... but at what cost?"

If my face was plastered everywhere on shoddy merchandise, I would be known.. but not for what I wanted to be known for. It's like being a dove magician. Do I want them applauding for me... or at me. Personally, I'd rather be known for who I am...

not the company I keep.


Thursday, September 11, 2008

Coming to terms...

Today we shall discuss two ideas and terms I feel are very important to creating the right presentation and effect. The other day I talked about my penchant for using food items to create magic. Last night I tried out one of my new creations at our weekly variety show. (Imagine healed and sealed with a small snack size of bag of Cheetos) A few things came from the live performance and the hour I spent before the show restructuring the routine. I am going to go over these two helpful ideas with you now. Grab yer ankles and get ready.

At Play - This term refers to making a prop or getting the props you need together and just.. playing. No matter how absurd an idea MIGHT be, you should at least follow thru with it. Make a prototype if need be. You never know what you are capable of until you get something in your hands. A lot of people have great ideas but never follow through with them. Don't be a lazy ass!! Whip it out and play with it!! (ummm...) Even if the initial idea you had doesn't work, something MUCH better might present itself. I prefer serendipity to luck any day.

In the Moment - When you are onstage or performing an effect for the first time, there are some aspects of a trick or presentation that you could NEVER have thought of in mere mirror practice. You have to be in the moment in front of a real people because that is when your secret subconscious performing reflexes will kick in. There is an energy that is present when performing for a mass of watchers. Don't be afraid to say or do something right out of the gate. Have a vague idea of what you want to say and do, but do not be afraid to deviate from the flight plan. Hijack that damn plane and head straight for the Pentag.. er.. Disney Land!! Mind you, the best time to have no fear in performance is a place where there is no pressure to be good or when yer doing it for free. Got new material? Find an open mic night or create your own somewhere. Opportunities abound!!

So there are two thoughts that might help you get out there and make magic your bitch. Mind you they require you to stop looking at the internet and actually motivate yer lazy ass. Bo not afraid. Run headlong at that cliff...

you might just be able to fly.

This sounds more like a lifestyle choice than a magic trick...


Monday, September 08, 2008

Thought for Food...

So I have been wanting to add a bit more to my creativity notes. You, my loyal readers, get a first glimpse of this addition to my usual ramblings.
The other day I was going over some of the magic I have created in the last few years and realized a LOT of it involved food and drink based props. I usually joke that you "go with what you know" and then pat my belly. Like most jests, there is some truth behind that. The items I use are things I actually consume. Doritos, sandwich cookies, Coka-cola, Cheetos, etc. The best part about this is that I am not the only one in the world who deals with these objects on a daily basis. We all have to eat. (some of us do it better than others but there is no way in hell I am gonna start doing magic with Tofu)

This brings me around to my point (I knew I had one here somewhere): Use items people relate to. You pull out brass cups or gaudy boxes with dragons on them, what are they going to think? Magic Prop!! That's right. You could honestly save yourself a lot of time and money by using soup cans or styrofoam cups. It might not be pretty but if the prop matches your presentation and character, it will paint a more complete picture. The best part is, you will get all of the credit for the magic you do. If they think it's accomplished with the prop you bought then you get NOTHING!!!

If you use props or items they have handled, seen, bought, etc they will subconsciously know that there is no trickery involved with the prop... even if there is. On the otherhand, you can use a concept they are familiar with in an incredible situation. I believe that if you give them a little bit of truth, they will believe a LOT of BS. (Like a jumbo coin being filled with chocolate) In the case of using foodtsuffs, you can play upon people's memories, emotions, or even mental states because people associate so much with edible items. With cookies you can get them going back to their childhood, water, you can have them remember summertime. It's a dirty trick, but man does it work.

So look through your repertoire, and see what you can repaint, remake, or just plain get rid of/sell and maybe find a way to make a better mousetrap.

Just don't forget the cheese.


Monday, September 01, 2008


I spent the weekend in Ft. Worth, TX attending the TAOM convention. (Texas Association Of Magicians) It is a regional convention that occurs in a different TX city every year. It can be one of the bigger conventions one can attend, depending on the year. Up until this year, it is the only convention I have ever attended. (thus far I have been to three conventions this year, which is odd because I usually only do one every 3-4 years)

Most every year I go to TAOM, I join in the merriment that is the magic competition. This year was no different. Now I am personally not a fan of competing BUT it has it's place so long as everyone remembers that that place has nothing to do with accolades or trophies.

My stage act is not generally one that radiates what is typically considered magic fodder. There is no hard-core manipulation. I do NOT produce doves. You will never see linking rings, cups and balls, or zombie ball in my act. Much of this kinda cuts me out of a lot of the categories upon which magic contests are judged. Originality is not seen so much as a skill but more of a tacked on feature, which counts for very little of your score on a judges sheet. Real world application is not ever a CONSIDERATION for these acts. There are a great deal of magic acts that go over great at a convention but fall short in the interest of the general public.

I am going to tell you the reason I still compete, even tho' I KNOW the deck is stacked against me (no pun intended) and then I am going to offer up some advice. I do it because I want to remind people I am still out there and make them AWARE of what I can do. The perfect place for your peers to see you is at a magic convention. This is the sole reason I participate in the whole debacle. (It sure as hell isn't for the fact that I LIKE getting up at 8am and then have to try and be funny)

Now why should YOU compete? The same reasons I do. Never go in thinking you are going to wipe the floor with other people. The moment you do some Korean kid with a bunch of colored playing cards is gonna saunter in and make you his bitch. You need to be aware that when you go into this, it is to show off what you can do, who you are, and get your name out there. Even if your act doesn't win, don't let it get you down. Listen to the buzz of the crowd. Often the audience can tell you more than the "judges" do. A trophy might look nice on a shelf somewhere, but word of mouth will get you a lot farther.

Speaking of performing in front of a crowd, here is some advice for those of you who do want to showcase your talent. Step away from the mirror!! I have seen SO many acts that do not engage the audience in any way, shape, or form. They get on stage and start performing like they would at home in the camera. Before you EVER compete, and I will repeat this EVER, find some places to do your act in front of a real audience. Again, the people watching will tell you more than you can ever know. The timing of an act in real life is much different. The methods used at home might not even be necessary in front of the drooling masses. Polish your act by performing your act in real time... not your own time.

Speaking of timing, I would like to comment on something I do think is a tad silly in the realm of Close-up. A number of conventions put a time limit on how long your act can go. For stage I think this is a good idea. It's sets a focused goal that FORCES you to pick and choose the best pieces of your act. Mind you that doesn't mean you HAVE to add material to STRETCH it to the limit but I digress..

However for close-up, (which isn't TRUE close up at a magic convention. It's really parlor. Be aware of this before you go into battle for the first time), I do not believe there needs to be a HARD limit. I think there should be a reasonable suggested limit, but a hard limit with no leeway is absurd. Even in real world rehearsal, you cannot judge audience reaction time. How long it takes to sing as card, shuffle a deck, or any other number of things that we tend to require others to do in an act. I understand there are some people with no assemblance of time, but putting a defined limit on something that is so free form or yer screwed is a bit archaic... but thaz just me.

So that's some advice from my skewed brain. For those who might be wondering, no I didn't win. No I don't care. I came away feeling that that TV show about a bar...

where everyone knows my name.


Friday, August 22, 2008


Or as Ken Driscoll would say, Gaffs. The insertion (ew) of desktop publishing has allowed others to pursue that life long dream of making one's own gaffed cards. No longer does one have to shell out 20$ for a double face card of special design. Long gone are the days of fako sheets. Long live the revolution!!

There have been a handful of helpful guides that have popped up over the last few years. Each one contains different ideas and tricks that will help you achieve your lifelong goal... of getting lai.. er.. making yer own gaff cards.

One of the more well known is Marty "Martini" Grams. His DVD, The Art of Card Splitting, has everything you might need or WANT to know to get started. It's a visual guide to his book, Lickety Split. Despite the fact it's a Magic Maker's DVD, I rather enjoyed it. The material is easy to understand and very straight forward.

If you want a more guerrilla form of gaff making, then navigate to Ken Driscoll's Gaffed Again. It has a lot of the tips and ideas from the Martini DVD but in a cheaper and more brief format. Two things that stand out about this product is the unusual way to make a Hofzinser card (in which you can use an Ace or other similar card) and advice on how to sell gaffed cards if you are so inclined to head in that direction. For the price, it can't beat and the information is top notch.

Both of the methods used in the previous two mentionings just aren't enuff for some people. Good thing for those types there is someone out there who wants to share his knowledge of dry mount card making. That person is Craig Matsuoka and his e-book, "The Gaff Factory" has a thorough (not to be confused with Thoreau) look into alternative methods for card making including ink transfers from your printer (oooooohh aaaaah). It's worth a look see if you want to explore other possibilities.

In that same, I recently stumbled upon a website that has many ideas concerning this subject.

You may have noticed I didna put links to any of aforementioned products. I figure my readers are smart enuff to do a google search and make up their own damn minds. In today's market we have choices and damn near instant access to the technology needed to make those choices. There is nothing more satisfying that doing something for yourself....

Just ask any person with no arms.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Biggity Bamf!

So for those who remember my talk of releasing my effect BAMF! onto he market, you get your wish.. sorta. Magic From The Grave is now up for grabs. It contains three effects by Todd Diamond (who sadly was killed by his his first DVD F*ck Street Magic) BAMF! by myself (That sounds dirty), and a fairly honest never before seen interview with Amazing Johnathan.

So if you want to be some of the first to partake of this little slice of cake or death, then head to the website and have a look around.

More to follow...


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Bizzaro.'s Review of Midwest Magic Jubilee 2008

So I got in Thursday and already got a chance to see old friends and start to meet new ones. I got settled in and walked around aimlessly casing the joint. Mainly for performance purposes. Also one can never be too sure when you will need to beat a hasty retreat. In the evening, I got to have lunch with the very pleasant Jay Scott Berry. In the past he has released some good magic utilities (of which he utilizes to the FULLEST). We discussed all sorts of stuff and in the end went off to get ready for the evening show. Oh the evening show... here is a bit of advice: Don't open your evening shows with a musical tribute act. if.. and I mean IF you do, make sure he can connect with the audience and can be brief. It wasn't the worst show at a magic con I have ever seen but it did drag. The saving grace was Mark Mason and his well honed act. The next day I had to be up at 8am to watch a young man perform in the close-up competition (as per his request. Nice kid. Met him and his madre at WMS). At 9am I also had a tech meeting for the evening show. Since I had to get up so early I of course went to bed at 5am. This would be a trend to follow.

So Friday rolls around. I get up early, go watch Travis do his deal, do the tech meeting (Which consisted of "You need a mic?", "no", "oh.. ok well that's it then". So I went my happy ass back to sleep until around 2-ish so I could get up and see the close-up show @ 3. One of the treats to see was Kozmo. I had a chance to meet him in NOLA many years ago. He is a street performer and is damn good at it. His act has only improved since last I saw it. We were both out of our element as it was our first time to appear at a magic convention. Kudos to him and his ability to edit on the fly. Justin Miller did some very strong magic and harassed the audience only the way he can. Carroll Baker was on hand as well as Tom Craven and Jay Scott Berry. Jay performs in what he calls his "minimalist phase". His hands always appear empty. He comes out with nothing, leaves with nothing, and amazes you to the hilt.

I make my way to the theater, (Finally getting food. Much thanx to Tim for all of his help over the weekend. I doubt he will see this, but regardless: You rock man!), and start to set up for my set that evening. I am opening the show and Jay is closing. In between is emcee Geoff Williams who is inherently a very funny man and a nice guy to boot. Also Joseph Young doing some talking bits and Jonathan Levitt, who you might remember as the host for the Celebracadabra show that aired a while back. The show was strong thruout and had a little something for everyone. I was very happy to be on the bill. (And glad Geoff didn't get around to singing those opera tunes)

Later in the evening, Steve Daly (otherwise known as Bonnie Bitch), Sean Michaels (not the wrestler OR the porn star), and Jason Andrews did a late night extra event called "Tricks" to raise money for charity and it was ADVERTISED pg-13 (However slipped silently into R while no one was looking). It was a good time and was well received.

Of course there was more staying up late talking shop with the folks and having a good time. Mind you the culprit for much of the late night goings on was Chris Kenner who made a surprise appearance (With his better half Katie of course) as he grew up in the area and decided to stone two birds with one hit and see his mother as well. The man is full of tinier men.. no wait.. he is full of stories and good magic and is not unapproachable by any means. Despite the fact it's his fault Three-fly exists, he is a remarkable humble dude.

On to Saturday (I swear I am trying to make this brief): I got sleep yay!! Got up around noon to ready myself for the close-up show. I was one of the first performers in one of three rooms. I was a bit nervous and it showed. My first room was lackluster and I was pissed. Not so much at myself, but at the fact the audience kinda got cheated of the full experience. Alas, life goes on and the next two rooms went over much better. It was a very new act and has only seen the light of day a handful of times and I walked away with a better understanding of it and how to tighten it up. Regardless, I was sharing the rotation with many good performers. Dan Fleshman, who is as nice a guy as he is um.. not tall. Geoff Williams, Jonathan Levitt, Michael Baker (Who also shared the stage with us the day before), and Jimmy Molinari. All in all it was a good time.

Killed some time (And finally got some food) until the final evening show. I donned my "SURPRISE!! I can clean up nice" suit and hit the impromptu tables set up outside to entertain the rabble before the doors opened. The show contained equal parts Joseph Young, Stoil and Ekaterina, Ken Domash (Who did an interesting money manip bit as a guitar slinging street performer.), and the aforementioned members of the Tricks show. Again, it was a good show and everyone was pleased... from what i could tell.

I have been to a smattering of magic conventions in my time, but I must say that MMJ was a lot of fun and it is run very well. They do things a bit differently and the people there are friendly. I will be glad to go back as long as they are glad to have me. Looking forward to the possibility of next year and here's to my magic convention cherry being popped with no goram dove acts ANYWHERE in sight.

One dove is a prop, more than that.. is an act.


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Syntax error: Can't translate Jive...

Ok so the last observation in my series on video production (finally) is about software. Now unless you happen to have a lot of money, or yer like other magicians who just leech off their parents bank accounts, you probably won't be getting an Avid Suite anytime soon. (if you don't know what that is, it's best you not ask) For the rest of us mere mortals who have to eat Heroin.. er.. smack ramen, you probably have some form of *Koff*IlLeGaLlYdOwNlOaDeD*koff* video editing software running rampant on yer hard drive.

For those of us who think Mac is just a cumbersome ape with a shiny coat, you have programs such as Premiere (pro) to toy with and some lower end programs such as Vegas video. Mind you some of the more recent magic videos that have come out, they look like they were authored in MS paint or something. Your best bet will always be to get a non-linear program. This allows you to edit with complete freedom and layer your clips. Linear editing is a thing of the past, yet still exists on proprietary software. To give you an idea of what linear editing is.. think Windows Movie maker and you'll have it.

Ok so you Mac users.. don't think just because I think yer a bunch of commies doesn't mean I won't include you in the conversation. Many programs are cross compatible across OS's. (That means companies go out of their WAY to re-program something just so they don't have to listen to you BITCH.) The new CS3 Premiere Pro is available for Mac and PC. Why? See the above parentheses. Mind you with a mac most people go with Final Cut Pro. Allow me to say I have tried both and Final Cut is laid out like someone paid some MIT student to do it, but first hit me in the head with a brick a few times and gave him mild brain damage. It makes no sesne. Stuff is in places that is not convenient and the windows do straaaaaange things to me in the night.

Anywho, Macintosh computers will always be good for one thing and that is a boat anchor.. no.. wait.. the Mac can take on a big load. I don't mean the same kind of big load yer girlfriend takes on in those amateur webcam shows she does. I mean like 200+ Gig video and graphics files. It takes a licking and keeps on ticking. PC's tend to start choking and gasping like a fat guy trying to run about oh.. ten feet.

So anyway, moving on. It's also a good idea to learn After Effects. The best way to describe that program is that it is like Photoshop for video. AE is used in almost all major video productions for special effects and the like. That's all I have to say about that.

One last thing and I'm done. What's nice about these video editing programs is they not only give you a place to put your video clips but by golly a place for audio. You know all of them bifs bams and smapps you hear in movies? All fake. It's called Foley editing. (Not Mic Foley either) To have a professional looking AND sounding video production, you need sound effects to drop into your timelines. There are a myriad of places online to pick up sound effects for free or you could simply make your own.

That, in essence, is the last of my video production advice I choose to share with you. Tune in next time when I will offer up pie charts and graphs about how much pie and chart graphs do next to nothing and mean absolutely squat.


A quick update.

MMJ is over. Stage show went ok. (in an ironic twist of fate, my breifcase toppled forward off the stool, when I had gone to great lengths to prevent it from falling off the BACK. Luckily I was done with it by then) Today did the close-up set. The first room I did was lackluster to say the least. On my part and theirs.

I was fairly mad for the poor performance I gave as I was a tad too nervous and my routining decided to step out and have a sammich without me. The second and third rooms were much better. A few screw ups here and there but nothing to write home aboot. Flying back tomorrow and gonna relax before getting back into thr swing of thangs with our weekly variety show. Sometime this week I plan to A: Finish my video rant 2: Recap on the convention in more detail and III. Eat a sammich.

Mmm sammich.


Thursday, August 07, 2008

Some of you might be wondering where my last post about video editing stuff is. Well me too!! Sadly it will have to wait till next week for I am the fabulous Midwest Magic Jubilee in St. Louis. (Where I am getting might funny looks from people. Must be the trenchcoat in the unfriendly heat. Little do they know I am from Texas where we invented heat. The kind of heat that takes down your pants and sodomizes you right in front of your mothe... wait where was I? Why am I in these parenthases?)

Anywho, I might keep you updated.. I might not. Life is funny that way. If yer in the areola, come see me!

No really.. I mean it.


Saturday, August 02, 2008


Ok ok I'll get back on track with my previous lines of thinking, but first I want to point out a few things that bother me about some magic products put on the market.

First, spell check your ad copy. Always a good idea. Second, don't put boisterous info about yourself in the ad copy. No one cares and you're not trying to sell yourself. Your accolades aren't going to help your sales. Speaking of product, don't charge 20+ dollars for something that can be easily deciphered on a demo video and made at home for waaaaay less.

A product of mine was once reviewed as something that would be better off in lecture notes. This idea holds true for a LOT of magic today. I took this to heart and the effect now sits in my lecture notes and is no longer for sale. I think others need this verbal bitch slap as well so there is less crap on the market eating holes into our lives and pockets.

Anywho, you be the judge and sometime in the near future, I will finish my rants on video productions. Between getting distracted by shiny objects and getting ready for Midwest Magic Jubilee, I shall try to focus on what's important...

which of course is sammiches.


Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Turn the cameras off, back up all the way...

And if you get that song lyric WITHOUT looking it up on Google, then we would prolly get along just fine.

Regardless, I finally found some time in my busy schedule of underhanded dealings and magical madness to wax venomously about more video editing crapola. So far we have covered lighting and sound. Now you need to know what works best with that info I may or may not have crammed into your eyes.

A lot of people believe you need a hardcore HD camera to have nice video. Those people are so wrong it's their job. Sure you can drop a coupla grand on a real nice camera. If you have the money to do, then go for it. For those of us who are broke ass niggas, we must resort to e-bay and the like. However, there are some specs you should look for on a camera and they are just as easy as your girlfriend.

First and foremost, look for 3 CCD. This effectively means you have a special chip for each color that video displays in: Red, green, and blue. You sacrifice a bit of the ability to shoot in low light, but the color quality is superb. (of course if you read two posts back, you would know how to work around that.) There are a few hand-held mini-dv camcorders that illicit this function. If you get an older model, you can come out with enuff money to buy some cheap lights or maybe a nice ham sammich.

The other nice thing to look for in the camera department is Mic in ability. Now all of your higher end contraptions will have this. However a lot of the camcorders do not. The ones with 3 chip and mic in are few and far between. I personally started a crusade for the Panasonic PV-GS150 and thus far I have been fairly pleased with the results.

Fair warning: try to avoid (LIKE THE PLAGUE) the cameras that record to a hard drive. They are intended for soccer moms and grandmothers who want to record their little crotch droppings highlights and then put them on a DVD. Mind you these people have nary a braincell to call their own when it comes to video. These cameras exist for two reasons: 1). User friendly-ness and B). to PISS me off!!

Now there are a few that come with a dock station that allows you to capture the video thru a firewire/ DV cable. (Which I will probably talk about in my next post) This is merely a ruse. Do not fall for it!!

Now that I am over that, I also suggest you pick up a really good monitor to hook to your camera whenever possible so you can see what your video output is because the little LCD screens that come on most cameras LIE!! They lie so much, you female readers would sit on it's face if it was Pinocchio and chant, "Lie to me, tell the truth, now lie to me!!" (By the way I am just kidding. I know we don't have any female readers.)

So, by now you have figured out the best kind of camera to be on the lookout for and that I really need to get out more. The best way to be informed is to become informed. I tell you folks all of this out of love. Not love for you, but for the love of stop making lackluster magic videos!!!

Now go listen to more Tom Petty.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sound off like you got a pair!!

So yesterday, (For me anyway) we talked about lighting your video production and how to go about it the cheap way. Tonight, this morning, today, whenever you are reading this; we are going to discuss how not to sound like you are shooting your film in an empty living room devoid of taste or sound-proofing.

When we talk about cameras I will go into more detail about some stuff, but one thing to look for, aside from 3 CCD, is a mic in jack. This enables you to run ANY kind of microphone to your camera. Lapel, wired, even a PC microphone can be plugged in and used in a pinch. Personally, I prefer a boom mic type of set-up. It negates you having to hide a lapel mic.

While I am on the subject, there is nothing I hate more than seeing a wire running out of someone's ass or a big black spot on their white shirt. How hard is it to HIDE these things? Not very. Trust me on this!

(Goes off to eat a cupcake and calm down)

Ok so, take a microphone, strap it to tripod, borrow a jointed mic stand, hell hang it from the ceiling just out of frame. Get some headphones so you can make sure it sounds ok while you film. (or if yer alone to check the levels before hand) Do not EVER rely on the built in mic on any camera. It picks up too much ambient noise. If you are using a high end camera, get a shotgun mic that is mostly directional. They're not the3 best way to go, but they are more effective.

Ok so now you can be heard clearly and your voice is not drowned out by the noises of your neighbors fighting or your roommate banging your girlfriend in the other room. Now you need to "sweeten" the sound, as the kids on the street are now calling it. Again there are a myriad of programs at yer disposal to use. Even programs like Premiere and Final Cut has built in audio mixers for you to toy with. Applications like audition are good too as they are made to handle music files specifically. Mind you most of their clientele are just going to make shitty techno loops with them, but yer better than that... aren't you?

Anywho, a small smattering of autogate to remove the noise gaps between talking mixed with some compressor/expander/limiter action and yer good to go. (More or less) Just mix according to taste. (Headphones help. A LOT. You can pick up more nuances in tonal range using them. Things you probably would miss otherwise.) After that you are going to want to export the audio as a separate file, preferably in Dolby Digital Audio. Mind you this all depends on how far you are going to take your video production. This last thing is merely for the sake of DVD authoring. If it is for the intarwebz, then forget I said that last part. As a matter of fact, if your roommate is banging your girlfriend, then yer prolly too dense to run an audio editing program and you should just delete the last half of this entry from your mind to make room for other thoughts.. like, "mmm cupcakes".

Anywho, tomorrow I might be coerced into talking about cameras and what kind you should keep an eye out for. Until then, you might want to go punch the person you live with in the face, just to be safe.

You never know.


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Video killed the magic star?

Now that you ask, yes I have been slacking a bit on my journal. Sorry kids, I have been working on a top secret project that has been SUCKING MY WILL TO LIIIIIVE!!! (Kidding actually it has been quite amusing) Perhaps I can satiate your lust for vengeance by showing you THIS amusing article I found on one of the forums I frequent.

However, this brings up a good point. The discussion of magic DVD's. Now I have no advice on how not to get picked up by the cops (aside from don't gank their shit) but I can tell you a thing or three that will make your magical videos look better, faster, and stronger than before. Perhaps you too can surpass the quality of crappy rushed-out-the-door how to's that looked like they were filmed by your step-cousin who just happens to have palsey. (Or Michael J. Fox, take yer pick.)

First thing you have to.. nay NEED to ask yourself is, "IS this worth putting out on video and charging gobs of cash for?" Chances are the REAL answer is Hell No!! but in today's world, that point is sadly moot. Since any asshat can pirate good video editing software, we are all pretty much at the veritable mercy of ambitious tools with good minds but terrible eyes.

The two real secrets to creating a professional looking video are sound and lighting. (Ok there is a third and that is a camera that doesn't suck monkey balls, but we'll get to that later. The camera that is... not the monkey balls.) Over the next few days I am going to sling advice your way about these subjects and possibly more.

Some people believe you have to spend a metric fuckton on a light kit so you can look good. Belay that and instead spend 50 bucks on clip lights from Wally World or Home Despot and maybe a couple cheap par-cans from a party store. While yer at it, head to yer grocery store and pick up some wax and/or tissue paper. This stuff works great as a diffuser. It will help prevent you from being washed out or there being hot spots on your props and your maybe even that receding hairline you forgot to put make-up on. For some ambiance, find some lighting gels as well. You can light normal everyday objects in your house and create your own Avant-Garde-Ikea-cheapass backdrop. See?

You might want to look into getting some cheap tripods or mic stands. Something you can clip them lights onto. You need to be lighted evenly on all sides and try not to cast heavy shadows on your backdrop if you can help it. (unless you are trying to be some artsy bonehole) Evenly lighting not only yourself, but your background, will add a lot to your picture. Don't be afraid to experiment either. If you have questions, READ A BOOK!! PErhaps even do some bloody research at the biggest library around: Teh Int4webz!!

One last thing you can nab to help out is black and white posterboard. Ever see some low paid grip standing off to the side holding a big white board during a video shoot? Well he is reflecting light onto the subject. It's a soft ambient light and not direct. Black is used to block out and absorb light (Duh). Grab some foam core board and perhaps some black felt. Attach the felt to the board so you have a black board and leave the white one alone for reflections sake.

All of this alone might cost you an arm or a leg (or someone else's if yer sneaky about it). However, with a little creative African American Engineering, you too can make even yourself look good. The best teacher is experience, so get out there and see what happens when you point this at that and turn this that way. Tomorrow (or sometime close to it) I shall speak of ships and shoes and ceiling wax. Of cabbages and kings!!

Or maybe just how not to sound like an idjit in a wind tunnel. You never really know with me I guess. Until then, just remember:

We're all the same color once the lights go out.


Monday, July 07, 2008

Pure cheese...

Sometimes I look elsewhere for inspiration to write about. After yesterdays silly ass BS post, I decided I should actually write about something. Instead of filling up Theory 11's server space, I instead have decided to force feed Blogger's maw with my verbal food for thought.

Ok so, what is a purist? This is the question at hand. I myself consider myself a bit of one... but only when it comes to certain aspects of my card magic. Sometimes I will devise a gimmick for an effect and try my damnedest to create a way to perform it without said gaffery. Mind you over the past few years I have created a few effects that work best with a tiny little gimmick used such as a double backed card.

I think what I would consider a trait of purism is the ability to do 80-90% of your magic with someone else's props. Their deck of cards, their coins, their swiss cheese, etc. Mind you there is the school of thought that it's not HOW you aaccomplish something, but the effect it has on the audience. If it's better to use 32 1/2 duplicates, then do it.

Magic, much like many other things in life, are personal preference. If you want to do something a certain way that's your yer choice and right. Sometimes other bastards (Read: Magicians) will say you should perform something a certain way using a certain move because that's what THEY would do. I say SHENANIGANS!! It's your thing, do what you wanna do. Be as pure as you want to be and I too shall stand beside you being as pure as I have always been...

like the driven slush.


Officious Seeing Eye Blog

And if you get that... yer nifty keen in my book.

So remember the posts I made a while back about changing up yer website content from time to time? Well somebody on this journal, (I won't say who), got bored enuff to toy with their site's front page a bit... with a videos page overhaul in the works.

This however, is not my point tonight. I just would like to point out that THIS...

is now merely a decoration in my house because it never got the reaction I thought it should.

That is all.


Tuesday, July 01, 2008

It was bound to happen...

Who sez there is too much much exposure on the internet?

Alas. Some people are just jerks.

Regardless, I got a great compliment the other day and I quote, "Bizzaro is the slapstick gothkid of magic". This ranks up there with the time Doug Scheer called me the "Gomez Addams of magic".

This brings to mind a quote I recently heard that was uttered by Ghandi. "Be the change you want to see in the world". I firmly agree with this and it applies to many aspects of life, including the performing arts. You can blend in with the crowd and pull doves out of yer ass the same way everyone else does... or maybe instead, you dress up like a dove and produce magicians!! (Don't laugh, it's been done) If you are sick and tired of seeing the same old tripe, then DO something about it. Sure you run the risk of being pigeonholed as a certain type of act. However, this makes you unique and the only thing worse than being talked about.. is NOT being talked about. - Oscar Wilde

So if you want to see some change, maybe you should get on the ball and make the line start with you. Besides, what's the worst thing that could happen?

Be the ball...


Monday, June 23, 2008

Are you Finnish?

I favor the French personally but that's besides the point. (Also, these people are besides the point, but that too is besides the point.)

So on another forum I tend to hang out on too much, a finger was pointed to This post where some wanker asked a question and it devolved into what it usually does.... jaw flapping drivel. Now I am not without irony because let's face it, I do my fair bit of mandible moving on this journal, but hey, you don't have to read it so Nyah!!

However, that's not the point. The question that was asked was "How do you know your act is finished?" I immediately had an opinion on this. (What a shock I know) So since I won't sully my good name on that board, I shall instead wax poetic here for all to see. (ew!)

A live act such as those that we perform in the magic world can ALWAYS evolve and change. It is NEVER finished. It can be in a state of content completion. It can stay the same for YEARS. However, due to random stimuli we discover new or easier ways to handle and effect. Perhaps we crate a moment or bit of business that works better than something we already have. Old ideas can be re-introduced and cycle in and out for the purposes of experimentation.

ANYONE who thinks they are a master of their craft and their magic don't stink and therefore has no need to change any further or evolve is an uppity dick who has no right to call himself an artist. Everything is in a constant state of flux. Magic, dance, theater, life, business, dogs and cats.. LIVING TOGETHER!! Er..sorry.

Regardless, you may have a routine that has been the same since before Gawd, but there is ALWAYS a chance to tweak it. Even if it is un-perceivable by anyone else but you. You might change the timing to make a bit or line funnier. You might reword the same joke to have a better impact. The only way TO become better is to be open to change an d not be afraid to experiment. If you are afraid to fall, you will never soar high with the other.

I think I made my points don't you?


Saturday, June 21, 2008

I sense a theme...

There are these websites online that have compiled lists of the more commonly agreed on magical effects.They are as follows:
*Penetration (Sounds dirty don't it?)
*Prediction (Think Menatlism, but you knew I was going to say that right?)

So most magical effects can be pigeonholed into one of these categories right? WRONG!! While traveling down one of our highways here in Dallas in a moving truck with Aaron Stone, we got on this topic. I decided to try and fit a few of the effects I have created and use into these here above slots.

I came up empty. Thus I stumbled upon a new category that needs to be added to this list. I like to call it (drumroll) Forced Visuals. What does that mean you ask? Simple. It's a non sequitur that takes what people know and uses it against them. It's a prop that does something they know said object cannot do, but yet does it anyway. It is a forced perspective of the mind using visuals that may or may NOT mesh with their established reality.

Many of my favorite performers use this technique to entertain throngs of crowds all the time. Some people might call this sight gags or throw aways. It goes much deeper, usually on a psychological level that most people could not put into words nor would they want to because only people like me think about this kind of useless crap!

I need to get out more I think.


Friday, June 20, 2008

I don't want to start any blasphemous rumors...

But I think that Itricks has a sick sense of humor. (Just kidding guys. I needed something to tie the song lyric to the post.)

Anywho, if you believe what they say, then next Tuesday you will get to see my grinning visage on a show that I personally can't believe lasted this long. In celebration of this... um.. thing... I have decided to dispense some advice should you ever find yourself in a similar position. (missionary?)

Having been on two TV contest shows (And possibly a third if I'm lucky) I want to throw a few ideas your way. First thing should be a given, but try as I might some poeple need this idea beaten into their damn heads. Be Professional! Seriously. There is nothing worse than a performer who does not conduct himself in a way not becoming of a person who does his art for a living. (hunh?)

In the same vein, don't be a prima donna dick. (or cunt if yer a chick. You are not excused from this article just because you have breasts. Sorry. Also, if that word offends you.. deal with it.) You cannot.. or more accurately, SHOULD not go into a place such as a recording studio and expect to be treated any differently than the rest of the cattle and then throw a fit when they don't bend to yer every beck and call.

Also, be nice to the other performers. (Who return the courtesy of course) This is a PRIME time to network, meet other people who know people, hand out cards, etc. You never know when knowing someone with a similar or differing talent might come in handy. If you treat them like crap, (And vice versa), then you will be known as that arrogant performer who no one wants to work with. This goes for the people running the show. They can edit yer sorry ass out like you never existed.

From a magician standpoint, it is also a good idea to go perform some minor miracles for the other non-magical performers who might be in their 3rd hour of stale donuts and false sincerity. Go cheer them up and be sociable. Free samples are never bad in these situations. Also, from a magician standpoint, don't be discouraged when they don't pick you out to advance or win. Magic takes it from behind in most contests... on or off TV. Remember what you are REALLY there for: Name Recognition. The more people who know who you are, the more pull your name has, the more you can charge down the road. Also doesn't hurt to pad your demo reel with some footage of you on national TV.

So to re-cap: Be professional, DON'T be an asshat, hand out free samples, and make nice with everyone because you just never know.

Experience is ALWAYS the best teacher.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

According to this product, you can conjure up tears in an instant. I say why stop there. Get this:

and have the whole ROOM in tears!!

They'll never forget you.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Another word for Thesaurus?

So I got to thinking about something the other day that may or may NOT help you become more creative. This one definitely ranks high on the list of "theory". (No need for a number behind that. It's too low on the list.) Anywho, on to my point. (yes I have one and not just on the top of my head) Ready for this one? Vocabulary!!

(Dramatic pause)

Crack open a dictionary and look up words you aren't familiar with. Here is a good exercise: Go to your Myspace account and look at the update mood section. Go thru the lost of moods and see what all of the ones you don't know mean. Here is a good place to go -

Ok so now that you have stopped looking at me like the RCA dog, allow me to explain. If you don't know what something is then you can't know what it does. The more ways you can interpret the world around you and recognize the terms, the better you can visualize the mechanics or props you might need. This in turn will help you be more creative as you are armed with the proper knowledge to add two and two together and get... 5.

I told you math was hard.


Friday, June 13, 2008

Chicken Dinner!!

Sorry, flashbacks from watching 21 (Did that movie come and go or what?). Anywho, we have a winner for the BAMF! contest I started last week. It seems Andy has been stalking me on my other sites and figured out that I finally got a license to Kill.. er.. drive. (for those keeping score I am 29, so you do the math cuz' I suck at it. 2+2=fish ok?) You may think it's sad or funny, but you should hear the embarrassing stories.

Enuff of that silliness, he wins a manuscript of how to accomplish this miracle of magical craziness (Assuming he can understand my writing). Speaking of which, I am considering marketing this thru a third party publishing house. I don't expect it to tbe the next big thing BUT I think people can use it as it has gotten HUGE reactions for me. What do you think? Answer the poll to the right!! Be heard in 08'!!

Tomorrow, advice on a way to be more creative. All it takes is a book. Think it over and I'll be back.

Math is hard...


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Card tricks for the close-up impaired...

Some of you might recall a post made a while back about a local bar we have been performing a variety show at. Well tonight was our first time at the new venue, (Protip: When a bar starts screwin' yah, go find a new place close-by... but don't forget to take your crowd with you.) Anywho, tonight I didn't have time to swing by the ol' HOD (House of the Dead for those of you not in the know) and grab the props for what I had planned tonight. I got caught up being an extra in a film being shot here locally. I won't say what it is, but it had Ron Jeremy in it, and if you know who THAT is... you need to spend less time on those sites.

So back to my point (As if these posts EVER have those!): Can you entertain a crowd of people in a stage setting with JUST a deck of cards? Yes you can!! (Not yes YOU can, but it IS possible. Chances are you might be one of those who is the magic equivalent of someone who couldn't get laid in a female prison with a fist-full of pardons.) Now card in hand is NOT stage worthy. Neither is triumph or any of them knuckle busting effects you have worked so long and hard on just to end up with carpel tunnel and an impressive book collection. When it comes to magic on stage with cards, simplicity is your friend.

What effects might play well in that situation you ask? My two go-to tricks in a pinch (Or goose) are mouth card and cards to pocket. Card in Mouth has inherent humor as anything done with the mandible area tends to be funny. (If you are working a bar crowd, the zipper is the same way.) Cards to pocket, (where the whole deck ends up in your empty pocket save for the one they selected), also has built in humor. It builds as the cards just keep coming from the previously shown empty area. With the right drunk audience member and a deck of cards you can create something that no sleight of hand move will ever accomplish... you can actually be... dare I say it.. entertaining!!

These are not the ONLY ones obviously. They are however two simple effects that always tend to please and garner laughs. (I say always, but there is some ass klown out there who I am sure is the exemption to EVERY rule) Mind you, with the right presentation and patter ANY effect can be entertaining. The best thing to do is find a trick that leaves the mechanics on the sidelines for a bit and allow your personality and improv skills to shine thru.

Don't you wish they sold canned off beat and improv on a stick?


Sunday, June 08, 2008

I want you monkeys to see this and learn a lesson once and for all.

Did you see that? It was a Miser's Dream effect... done silent.... done different. Watch where and how he gets the laughs AND how he gets the magic done. Just because you may know the method, does that make it any less effective? No. Just because it's a plot device you are familiar with, does it make it any less entertaining? No. Is it simple and effective? YES!!

How many of you out there think you could do something like this? Magic, entertaining, AND engaging? Put yer damn hand down, it was a rhetorical question. This video is a prime example on how magic can be fun, easy, and most importantly, MAGICAL!!

Now go home and study because I expect a 3 page report on why you suck!! Don't forget to use the Firefox Spell checker. Otherwise you might mispell a word like rhetorical.

I know where you live....


Friday, June 06, 2008

Another contest?

Sure why not? I have a new effect I have been toying with (It is a card effect, but a damn good one) and if you want to be the lucky mofo to know how it works WAY before I tell anyone else about it, then you have to riddle me this Batman: What did I procure today (or whatever day you read this) that anyone who knows me would never believe I would EVER get?

You are not allowed to answer if you already know. The only hint you get is that it's not a magic effect.

Update: Here is footage of the effect I am working on.

It's made of GoesfastTM.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Let's do the time warp again...

Lost in time... and lost in space: Remember one of the days during our guest week when we didn't have a column? Well it turns out someone with a time sphere (Stolen from Rip Hunter, and if you know who that is you need to get out more.) went into the future and stole this post right out of my journal and then altered reality so we just THOUGHT it never existed.

Well after a climactic battle with the Flat Screen Monitor, we have recovered said post brought to you by none other than Justin Robert Young over at The best part is it kind of correlates into a post I made previously. It all makes sense now!!!!


There is a wise saying going around the internet these days: content is king.

Believe me, it’s relevant. It’s incredibly relevant. In fact, it’s tattoo-it-on-your-mouse-hand-so-you-have-to-look-at-it-before-
you-think-about-clicking-the-“publish”-button relevant.

It means that if you’re going to generate a web presence, you need to think long and hard about what your page is for and why it’s there. Who is going to read this and what would be the best experience for them.

When it comes to the web, you are not designing a house, where you can be comfortable. In reality, you’re designing an amusement park with entrances, exits, monorails, food stands and secret subterranean detention facilities all strategically placed to make sure your audience sees what you want them to, which in turn is hopefully what they want to see.

I am not going to tell you what is good content and bad, that is too big a topic. Rather, I am begging you to get out of its way.

So… does this have anything to do with magic?

Yes it does. Thanks for asking.

Too many sites for magicians try to do too much. Here are my press clippings, here is how to book me, here is my blog, here is a photo of my 4 year old punching a fish. And that’s just the home page.

Then there are sites that ask you as you enter: are you a prospective gig or a magician? At which point, both readerships are forced to go through one more step before you even BEGIN to give them content they MIGHT find relevant.

Both of these have one thing in common. They don’t know which way to tell the reader to go. Imagine if you pulled onto the highway looking for a sign to tell you how to get to an exit and when you came across one it read "I don’t know, you pick." Every second a reader doesn’t get what they want is another second they are thinking about going somewhere else to find it.

My suggestion? Compartmentalize. Your booking site should be a slick tour through your accomplishments with contact information readily available to take advantage of as soon as they are convinced and that alone. Your site for magicians should cater to magicians and them alone, look at your own online experience and think about what you like and more importantly what you hate. Build the experience around that but never stop thinking like the reader. This also means you should have separate URLs for each, to eliminate distraction as much as possible.

As for the picture of your fish-punching four year old? That scaly thug had it coming, leave it on the front.