Thursday, December 07, 2017

Cradle to the grave...

For those who have been reading this for the last couple years you have seen me post up videos by a channel called "Every Frame a Painting".

Well that channel has finally reached it's crescendo and I wanted to mark it's passing with a post here. I feel it's related because of the reasons it started, the way they approached it and why they quit. It speaks to other branches of entertainment and how some of us might feel at any given time.

For those who are TL;DR people, let me just put a line from the essay here:

"For days and days, he keeps trying to draw this plane, but nothing meets his satisfaction. Eventually, he realizes that he’s spent too much time on it. So he hands the plane off to another animator, and he moves on to something else.

For me and for Tony, this clip is extremely reassuring. If Miyazaki — the world’s greatest living animator — can admit defeat after trying his best, then it’s okay for everyone else. If he can let go, then so can we."

Monday, December 04, 2017

To boldly not go away...

 Face it everyone. Internet magic is not going away.

It's time to stop bitching and embrace it. Instead of placing no value on it or talking down about it, let's help try to make it more palatable. Magic companies are still trying to sell this kind of magic like it's workable and practical. At some point they are going to have to create a new category. Right next to "Stage" and "Close-up" there needs to be a section titled "For Camera Only". You might think that sucks but it's more honest and at least you know what you are getting now. I'm looking at you Penguin and Murphy's.

It's not just the companies, it's the people releasing the magic as well. Be honest and upfront. If it only looks good from one angle at a particular time of day or only indoors in a dimly lit bar, let people know. Embrace your new genre and be a pioneer. Be the Steve Jobs of internet magic releases!

This will innovate magic... but only from this one angle.
There is a reason youth does not listen to age. If everyone "respected their elders" and didn't rebel against their "teachings" then we'd all still be churning butter and doing double undercuts. (one of those might be an extreme example)

So who will step up first? Will it be the magic companies or will it be the producers? A few have already dabbled in it and embraced this new concept. Sansminds released an effect and in the trailer specified it was best for their internet or promo video magic. If you are still one of the people clinging to the old ways you need to change with he times or hurry up and die. You're either in or in the way.

This in no way means I am endorsing NOT  releasing good practical real-world magic. We still need that for those who are brave enough to leave their house and want to make a living BUT it's time to acknowledge this is where we all stand and we must stand together.

Next time I will talk about people who expose magic on Youtube and the best places in the Las Vegas desert to bury their bodies.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Listen here fancypants...

We live in a weird climate currently. People are getting more "sensitive" each year and it's getting harder for an adult entertainer to do their job. I understand you need to change with the times but the problem I have is when this sensitivity bleeds over from places it has no business even being part of the discussion.

If you are a gospel/birthday party/family entertainer that ONLY does that style of magic then you need to stay the fuck out of the business of others who work comedy clubs/adult parties/nightclubs/bars/strip clubs/etc. Don't go around saying "I think this trick or style of joke is crass and over the line and blah blah blah". Many of these things you dislike are for an ADULT audience. Such as comedy clubs where the people who go expect a little different level of humor than your shitty hippity hop rabbits routine.

Those guys whose material you bash don't walk around telling you how to not get caught touching kids with your "wand" so don't go around being all high and mighty about what you don't like. The magic world doesn't revolve around you. If it comes up in conversation, then you can talk about and say you don't like it. Until then, keep your yap shut and stop filling the internet up with your "the entertainment world revolves around me" bullshit.

Happy Holidays.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

They pull me back in again...

Yesterday I did something I try not to engage in often but since it pertained to the last post I decided to dip my toe in and...

On one of the FB magic groups This got posted. For those of you too lazy to watch it, it shows one of the previously mentioned individuals coaching his audience to over-react. To say it was met with dismay would be like saying Marlow and Vernon didn't "get along".

What really rips my sponge balls is the fact that there are magicians DEFENDING THIS! The problem is every single metaphor and example they give doesn't align because THERE HAS NEVER BEEN ANYTHING LIKE THIS IN MAGIC. Any example you throw at me I will gladly find fault with and explain why it doesn't work as a comparison.

The reason there is no precedent for this is because, as I have stated before, the internet is a new frontier. No one knows exactly what will work until it does and then once that ground has been raped for money and fame people move on to find the next thing that will get them noticed. It's because of this I have come to the conclusion that internet magic is it's own animal separate from stage, close-up and even TV.

What's worse is when seasoned pros say things like this, "He's doing well for himself AND he is getting people interested in Magic." Yah great. he is getting more kids who think it's ok to do this shit interested in magic who won't work or contribute to the art. Greeeeeat. Just what our world needs, more crappy magicians. Yaaaaaaay.

"Oh but they're young. leave em alone." you say? In any other job is this an excuse? Oh he keeps fucking up your fast food order? It's ok he's young. She got your Starbucks coffee incorrect? She's just young. Please. When that happens, you people go apeshit and rip those "kids" a new asshole. You don't get to pick and choose your excuses (even tho' we all do).

I had a conversation with a magician friend who has done a lot of TV and he takes issue with all of this because if it becomes the norm, then TV producers will expect these reactions and when it's explained all of it's fake they will respond with "Well why don't we just do that then?". If this becomes a thing it could affect all of us in front of AND behind the camera who actually work for a living.

But hey, in this world what could possibly go wrong?

Friday, August 04, 2017

State of the union...

First listen to this Bad Religion song to get you in the right mindset...

I don't know how many of you keep up with what is current in the magic world. Not necessarily tricks, but who is up and coming and what they are doing. If not you are likely blissful in your ignorance. If you are like me and pay WAY too much attention to our little community then you too might be perturbed by the growing trends you see.

A few days ago I posted this on my twitter:
(Aren't I #@$*ing clever?)

The reason for that post is that I see far too many magicians who are making magic videos with no substance or effort in an attempt to sell a product or gain "followers". It's usually the younger guys too because the older crowd is too busy working and was brought up believing magic is an art and a job you work at. The issue is becoming these kids want to be famous for nothing like many other "celebrities" the general populace glorify. It bothers me because I don't want to see my magic watered down and exploited for purely personal gain.

I am sure if you ask anyone I am speaking of they will justify it to others (and themselves) that they are still "entertaining" people and isn't that the goal? I know people who agree with this and their methods. At the end of the day it's a taste preference but what they are doing leaves a bad taste in my mouth and here is why: it seemingly spits in the face of those who work hard to develop a skill and treat magic as an "art".

Let me show you an example:

"But that's just one guy" I hear you cry. Ok then how about this one?

Ooooor this one?

(It's like they are making these videos in a factory or something? They are all the same!)

For those of you in the know, you might already be furious watching this. 90% of the reactions in these video are clearly fake and stooged. Does the average Duck Dynasty watching Facebook user know this? Hell no. However we have inside knowledge and, as many of you know, we judge others HARSHLY for stuff like this. There are those of us who spend months, maybe even YEARS, to perfect something so it can be done in similar ways under live fire and get genuine reactions. This kind of stuff tells others it's ok to ignore all of that and just "fake it til' you make it".

Where did this kind of silliness start you ask? Hard to tell but let's point the finger at David Blaine for now shall we? Let me preface this with the fact that, yes ol' DC used camera trickery and set up stuff BUT he did it on such a grand scale no one thought they could just run out and do it without a ton of money and production. Then along came Blaine in a T-shirt and faked a levitation and thus set a precedent. Flash forward and you got guys like Criss Fishing Rod who use After Effects and green screen to create "magic".

I am sure these guys' hearts are in the right place however their brains are clearly focused on fame. I understand people have different goals in life but I sure as shit am allowed not to like their methods for achieving them. The lay public doesn't know the difference either and by the time a booking agent finds out they can't deliver what they show, it's too late.

I know it's not smart to point fingers and yell about things you don't care for because then people will look at it and some will get the wrong idea but in this case examples need to be seen to be understood. So if you are watching these videos and thinking, "That's a great idea! I'm going to start doing that!", then I hope you die in a fire think twice about it. When you crash and burn and have to get a real job, you will get no sympathy from the rest of the magic community. However, if you could give a fuck less about the magic community, then you are probably halfway there as it is.

Here's to homogenization.

Monday, July 24, 2017

If you won't listen to me...

At least listen to Alice Cooper.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Repeat after me...

Hey magicians, please stop using the phrase, "Just keep repeating over and over in your head (insert card or whatever here)" It's a shitty and lazy way to reveal something, it has no magic moment, no panache, and I have seen it have less impact than an entire season of Criss Angel specials.

I don't know who started this idea, but it needs to STOP! I have seen spectators just stare blankly at a magician who revealed a card this way.

"I'm sorry did you say something? I stopped paying attention 10 minutes ago."

The worst part is, it shows a lack of creativity or originality on your part. If you think it's cute or magical you are wrong. I have seen far too many shitty performers use this as their quick go-to thing. I have never seen ANYONE freak out about it. They usually just sit there confused as if nothing happened. (I am sure someone out there has a story about someone losing their shit and running into traffic over it but I bet you those are some rare ol' times)

So if you engage in this kind of fuckery, stop it and flex your brain a bit to try something else.

Something like This perhaps?

Friday, April 07, 2017

Sincerely yours...

Dear magicians,

Stop making up stories about your relatives that aren't true. Unless they actually happened, it's an insincere lie you are telling your audience and you REEK of it. It's also hacky as shit. It's like saying you are going to beat Houdini's "record" for escaping a strait jacket. You're better than that and if you're not... just stop.

The Mngmnt

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Bridge and tunnel magicians...

"The creation of content is not a hobby. It is a profession." - Jean-Claude Junker

I found this quote while reading an article about the creators of Spinal Tap seeking remuneration for their work in the extremely shady industry of film and music.

For those of us who take it very seriously, creating magic is indeed a profession that borders on the obsessive. There are a number of things that take away what some of us spend a lot of time on.

  • FAKE! - A lot of the younger and unlearned magi apparently just assume something is camera edits when it's "too good" and they can't figure it out. When you do this you belittle the hard work many of us do to make it look that good. 
  • Actual Fakes - They have good reason to yell fake tho'. There are people like Zack King who (obviously) use video editing tricks to make magical things happen. However there are also people who more subtly use After Effects to create seemingly impossible tricks and don't own up to it. Those people are jag offs who will never escape their instagram account.
  • Weekend Warriors - Then there's THESE assholes. People who create magic for the sake of magic... and a paycheck. They are not making magic for the art. Oh I am sure they THINK they are but what they really are doing is looking for a way to get paid because A: they are terrible with money and 2: don't actually perform for real people and couldn't entertain a thought let alone a group of people.
It's these last ones that make me the most mad. They want money and notoriety and think releasing magic tricks will accomplish that because a few other slugs managed to do it. Every time they put out some piece of  lackluster crap tied together with elastic and magnets, they cover up the good stuff other real creators and performers have released.

Obviously the ones who dig through the mire to find the gold are the ones who will likely triumph but it's getting harder and harder every day because of these "creators" foisting their hobbies on the actual professionals. It also discourages better stuff from being produced as it's not monetarily worth the effort because a gem will soon be obscured by shit.

Fuckin' tourists...

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Watch your head...

But first, watch this video.

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

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

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

Or would you rather be... Space Jam?

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Sound Philes

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

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

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

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

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

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

Like Scar said, "Be prepared!"

Friday, February 17, 2017

And we wonder why...

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

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

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

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

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

"Has anybody NOT figured this out immediately?"

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

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

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

Another "expert" decided to chime in with this:

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

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

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

To which he gets THIS reply:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, February 02, 2017

Plan Ahea...

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Flip it over...

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

"Nobody posts their B-sides"

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

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

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

Monday, January 16, 2017

Leading the blind...

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

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

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

Like the leper said to the prostitute...

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

Artists rendering of an upcoming magic convention in 2017

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

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