Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Guest Week 2: Electric Bugaboo

Today's entry comes from a good friend of mine from Texas. He's creative, funny, and skinny as a rail. The best trick he does is turn sideways and vanish. I shit you not!


BY: Aaron Stone

I have started this article five times now, gotten distracted, and tried again. I'm sitting right now in a hospital waiting room... yay...

The last time I wrote for Bizzaro's blog, I was nearly held at gunpoint. Actually, it was more like this: I went to his house, was led to the laptop, and forced to do nothing else unless I filled the gap in his guest spot for the week, fed Michelina's frozen dinners, smacked by a Wii remote, beaten by Tigger Tails, even suffocated with a fedora... okay, not really, but it was completely unexpected.

Yet again I have the honor of being told there is an open invitation! That's almost a request! So, naturally, I've jumped on my girlfriend's laptop (shuddup) and started typing away.

I now get to rant about one thing that really pisses me off! PONIES.

That's right. Ponies.

Not like, “oh, I want a pony for my birthday,” that every girl (and some of you boys) want, but the one-trick ponies that claim to be magicians in our world today. The ones who claim to do “tricks” and feel like that's quality entertainment. That's a problem, and I've found an effective solution: Nerve gas.

The kids (well, grown people too) that learn a trick from YouTube or a drunk guy in a brothel and immediately go show everyone they can (poorly) and claim they are magicians need to be thrown into a room littered with sharp objects and instruments of destruction and force-fed good, high-quality magic footage. Why?

“Anyone can do a magic trick. Only a magician can do magic.” Even if someone knows thousands of tricks, they are not a magician. A magician is more than someone who has too much free-time and zero remaining social life. Much like a mortician, magicians need to know everything. Which is why we can be so cocky sometimes.

Magicians need to be well-versed in theatrical performance, stage lighting, set design, writing/scripting, timing, costuming, make-up, mechanics, construction, psychology, business management, current events and world news, study of competition, marketing, physical therapy, public relations, and various other technical skills. Show me one full-time professional who doesn't fit this, and I'll eat Bizzaro's hat. (Editor's note: The hell he will)

So what really, truly separates the pros from the soon-to-be-nuked populous of 21-cardtrickville? Entertainment. Whether it be funny, serious, dramatic, esoteric, satirical, or insipid... entertainment value is what draws the line. A professional magician can take the simplest trick (one that a metric ton of imbeciles would dismiss as “a lame trick”) and turn it into a masterpiece that will leave a lasting impression on the audience. (NOTE: Lasting impression, as compared to the depression left by a falling anvil, taken to the face).

A trick is just that: a trick. The effect accomplished is in the hands of the performer, and the more tools and subtleties used in proper moderation, the better. The amount of entertainment is dependent on the performer, how much practice he/she puts into it, and the receptiveness of the audience. (Yes, I left a window open for a cop-out later on. There is such a thing as a bad audience).

Where does that leave us? Ponies! Oh yea! Okay, so even if a one-trick pony knows a thousand tricks but treats them all the same and shows them all in the same way (in an unrehearsed, unpracticed and immature fashion... seemingly trying to fit into a music video that would obviously be edited later) it still only knows one trick: ambitious lame.

Let's stamp it into the brains of the one-trick youtube star-wannabe's: Knowing how to do a magic trick doesn't constitute calling yourself a magician. A paycheck for your labors of your craft that covers more than your gas to get there... that does. A kit that says, “Learn all the tricks in here to become a REAL magician” DOES NOT. Surviving, supporting your family, taking it seriously and not perpetuating the crap in the market DOES. Doing every trick you can possibly afford to buy off the shelves of your local magic store does NOT make you a magician. Being creative, original, and working hard to improve yourself and your act DOES.

Basically, take it seriously or don't call yourself a magician. Right now, most “magicians” only know enough to be dangerous.

Which is why I opt for nerve gas.

Aaron Stone is a full-time performer in the DFW area, currently hiding his car from the bank and has just been put on the Ramen Noodle diet. Shaving with a broken spoon and defending himself by watching “Walker: Texas Ranger” re-runs, he can be reached with a rope ladder and a peace offering of York™ Peppermint Patties, or by e-mail aaron@aaronthemagician.com.


Hopefully we'll have more special guest goodness for you tomorrow.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Guest week: The search for Spock

I told you we were gonna have a guest week again. It seems no one was brave enough to want to do this on their own. This is why I have a file folder of blackmail information on many of the people I know. I can get them to write things for me. things like this...


From: Justin Robert Young

I don't get message boards.

Of my main interests that I've spent most of my digital life hunting for information about (i.e. sports, magic, news, movies etc.) all have vibrant message board communities spread amongst many well-run sites. Yet, I've never spent more than a passing few moments needling about various threads and replies.

At this point I'm willing to concede that it's a "me problem." I understand why others find such value in them, however, personally the negatives far outweigh the positives.

- The information is decentralized. Someone might be making the best point on the planet and I won't know it unless I happen to stumble upon it.

- There is a burden for all who participate to contribute something of worth. Knowledge, insight, a silly photoshop. Invariably, many of those who post the most don't come through on their end of the bargain. I tend to resent it and therefore ONLY post when I have something truly original to say, which isn't very often.

And finally, the big kahuna:

- The community is insular to a fault. Every new or prospective poster is guilty until proven innocent by those who call the board home. Meanwhile, close quarters breed resentment, anger, hostility and general angst amongst a group of otherwise like-minded fellows. Sarcastic comments are read as hateful screeds, which leads to a return-fire volley of expletives, which leads to bans, which leads to appeals to bans, which leads to someone(s) being called Hitler(s).

The owner of this blog said on his last appearance on the Magic Week in Review that getting into fights on a message board, it's like racing at the Special Olympics. Even if you win, you're still retarded.

Is the comment mean? Sure.

Funny? Yup.

We even got a rare complaint email about it. Of note, the letter writer was decrying the tone of the statement and although they didn't specify I assume the inclusion of a vulnerable element of society like the mentally handicapped.

They, presumably, had no issue with the accuracy of the statement.

JRY can be found chained to his computer slaving away to bring you the best and most up to date news at itricks.com


There is still time to submit something as I have one or two slots left.


Monday, September 21, 2009

I hate to do this but...

Sometimes, I just have to share how I feel for others to read and possibly disagree with. This effect seems like one of those things magicians will go (radio) ga ga over and will fall flat when performed for real people.

It might be the slow tedious seriousness of the demo video, but it bores the hell out of me. The only way to sell this to real people would be to let them frisk you before and after the effect. How many of us don't have cards and fake limbs and jello in their pockets? Seems impractical to me.

Often I look at stuff like this and ask myself, "Do I have something just as strong, if not stronger in my repertoire already?

The answer is usually yes.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

I have decided in my infinite wisdom, it is again time for another "Guest Week" here on WAISIMH. (Wow that Acronym kinda sucks....)

Anyway, if you want to volunteer to write some pretty words for me for next week, hit me up! I will also be asking some fiends and colleagues as well.

You have been warned!


Saturday, September 19, 2009

Getting swept away...

A few years back I did a lecture at the Dallas, TX magic club. A good chunk of that lecture (and all of the ones I do) talk about creativity and character. Afterwords, a friend of mine (who incidentally was the one who taught me how to shove a nail into my face) came up to me and told me about a bit of theory that he and his wife subscribe to and are always checking themselves against it.

With his permission, I am going to give you that bit of information and expound upon it in my own little way. This one goes out to all my honkies in the sticks. It's called the Broom in the Corner theory and it goes a little something like this...

Suppose you are sweeping your kitchen or some such other surface and then your phone rings or someone knocks on your door. Since you're in the middle of what you are doing, you set the broom into a corner it doesn't go in. Time passes and you mean to get back to sweeping, but other shiny things keep distracting you. Eventually the broom stays in that spot so long, that's where it comes to live. That's not where it originally was stored, but now... it is.

We do that in magic quite a bit. We'll get complacent with a move or patter or theory or... whatever. We give it nary a second thought and just come to believe that's how it's always been. It's because of this we don't question our motivations or use of certain props. As youngins we start out using dove pans gaudy painted boxes and various card sleights. We use these items for so long we don't move away from them and if we do... it's not very far.

Next time you do a show, video tape it. Then watch it... a few times. Take a step back and ask yourself, "Why am I doing that exactly?" You might find you can open your eyes to new possibilities and find a better way to present or perform something and make it your own. You might even find a new place for that broom suspension...

like in the corner.


(Special thanx to Mica and Judy Calfee of Riot Acts Entertainment for letting me use this bit of amusement on my journal.)

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Defining you space...

A lot of magic boards have a thread somewhere that invariably asks, "What makes a good magician?"

This is such a subjective question open to hours and hours of debate. Personally I don't have that kind of time what with all of the other important things I have to do... like playing Lego Indiana Jones. Moving on...

Tonight I was watching an old video of a fellow performer and friend, Chris Randall. His onstage persona has changed a bit from when he first started. In the video he did some stuff that a lot of magicians tend to do. With his newer material the magic just kind of... happens.

This raises my question to the lot of you: Are you a "magician" or can you simply do "magic"?

A magician will blow on something to make the magic happen. Things such as making linking rings separate or having an object vanish. A person who does magic will simply cause it to happen with a look or by just doing it. One reeks of cheese. I'll let you guess which one.

Take a look at your preexisting routines. We get so comfortable with some magical moments in our shows we continue to do them without questioning if they are relevant anymore. If you could really do magic would you have to waggle your fingers or open each finger one at a time to show something has vanished? I think not. Sometimes just causing something to happen is more magical than trying to "force" it to occur.

I know we need magical moments in our shows so those watching will understand what we are trying to convey. However, I think we can reach a higher plane of existence with what we are trying to present and what the audience perceives.

Think about it a bit and I'll get back to you.


Sunday, September 06, 2009

Petered out?

I have had my differences with a few of the Loughran products over the years. Some of them had some deceptive advertising while others I just didn't care for. It happens. I'm a bitter jaded mofo. However, one of his newest products actually has bad-ass possibilities.

I see a LOT of illusions that I don't really care for. Mostly because they are all just variations on a theme or look like a magic prop. I think this new concept (I think it's new anyway. Could be an update to something old) opens up a lot of interesting possibilities for inventive presentation. Science shows, Halloween/ spook shows or hell, just a fun way to ring your magic props into play. It's high praise when I like a box trick.

As much as I like it tho', this is not something I would buy as A: I'm a broke ass nigga and II. I would want it in a smaller size and to look like less of a magic prop. I have no desire to produce a human being from a box. Much like the concept of the Shadow Box illusion, if you make shadows or objects appear at random, producing a person kinda gives away the method if you ask me.

Regardless, I thought this deserved a little look-see so heads up my box lovin' magi. This could be the next big thing you put in your act to replace those horrible cube-zags or knockoff interlude illusions you've been doing...

or gawd forbid, Bowl-a-rama.


Saturday, September 05, 2009

Beware of what he sells...

"Theres a man going around town
Spreading lies
Hes the bad businessman
Does his business while he can
He just does his business bad."

I was talking to so someone the other day about a stunt they created that has since been lifted and used. Mind you the performer who got his stuff ganked found a way to crank it up to 11 well past what this other individual "borrowed". He kinda shrugged it off and said, "He's a businessman".

This oddly enough coincides with a conversation I read about a month ago on the big green monster about knowingly trying to snake a strolling magic job away from another performer. The consensus was that it's ok if you're a "businessman".

So what I have gathered over the last month is, in the entertainment realm, businessman means a cockbite who hides behind professionalism and profit so he can take what isn't his and be ok with it. Don't believe me? Look at companies like Magic Makers and Houdini's. They knowingly knock off products and sell them for cheap so the profits go away from the originator. They don't have to pay wholesale costs so that way the money can go directly into THEIR pockets.

Of course the quality of these products suffer. Magic Makers sponge balls are terrible. They bleed like a baby crawling on broken glass and have a shape resembling that of a retarded tribble. Places like Houdini's (who I am pretty sure didn't have HIS permission to use that name) will take anything that isn't nailed down and make a lackluster version of it. Patrick Page's easy money is just one recent example.

I know that dollar signs are the only thing in some people's eyes, but if that's what being a "businessman" is all about, I'm glad I kinda suck at it. There's nothing wrong with making money doing something you enjoy but where do we draw the line? If making money is SO important to you that you will step on anyone and anything to make that fat cash, perhaps you need to feel the sting of that kinda theft yourself. Maybe have your house robbed or your bank accounts hacked. Take something from you that YOU care about.

Feel the sting baby!!


Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Cake to whiskey: New from Ellusionist!