Sunday, October 01, 2023

Sym-Pathetic Magic....

 Thievery in magic is nothing new. Hell, in the world it's pretty commonplace no matter what practice you engage in. I have encountered my fair share of sticky fingered fuckery and it's always amusing to hear the justification for such behavior. 

Sometimes it's a legit case of independent creation. However, in the this digital age, it's pretty easy to debunk certain claims or at least cast a dubious light upon their statements. 

When someone who has created something with or without the inspiration of someone else's hard work you tend to encounter two reactions to being told they have re-invented the wheel:

  1. "I am so sorry. I had no idea. I will remove it/take it down/etc. How can I make this right?"


  2. "Wellllllllll......"

Obviously, the first response is the favored one but it seems to be the more rare of the two. Have you ever heard someone joke about a magician saying "You use a red deck while I use a blue so they are totally different". Well, that is more than a jape my friends. The moment someone gets defensive, they move from "independent creator" to thief and should be treated as such.

If you are a creator who has been taken from does this little ditty sound familiar?

    "I have had things stolen too so I know how you feel"

 It's almost as if they think this gives them license to steal from others because of some sort of "dicked over club" you are all part of now. In a sane world, that statement would mean they know how much it sucks and don't want to do it to someone else, but when used as a battle tactic their deception becomes transparent.

What's worse is companies like Murphy's Magic have made it easy for a knock off effect to spread like wildfire before anything can be done about it.

Did you know most of the online magic shops have their stores tied directly to Murphy's database and when something new gets uploaded to the site it gets pushed out to ALL of these online shops instantly? Most of those online shops have NO idea what is listed on their site. You have to go to the source to get the infection removed and by the time they decide to contact you back (Anubis forbid it's a weekend) 100s of people have probably bought the stolen effect and is well on it's way to being exposed on youtube.

You see, you always give up something for convenience, and in this case it seems to be a bit of artistic integrity.  

So what do you do when someone shows you their ass? That's kind of up to you. Naming and shaming is time and soul sucking. Ignoring it to prevent the "Streisand Effect" can work but that means the offending idea is in the wild. You can threaten bodily harm or litigation but that can come back to bite you in the ass. I sadly don't have an answer. Sometimes you can shut it down before too much is done, provided you have the right amount of evidence in your favor but even then the damage could already be done.

At the end of the day, it sucks no matter which way you slice it. Hopefully these words of "wisdom" have prepared you to be a little less taken aback if someone 5 finger discounts your work.It helps to know the warning signs and know you are not alone.

And if you have to punch someone in the face to feel better so be it.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

The Departed...

 The last year or so has been rough for magic to say the least. The world is eating our workers and I want to talk about one of them.

An Amazing Guy

 I met Young Fred Gwynne Thom Peterson early on after moving to Vegas. He and his awesome wife Annabel was visiting and we chatted a bit at McBride's Wonderground. He was from MN and had moved to the UK so it was a rare sighting.

Right before the plague ship rolled into the USA, they had decided to move back to the states (good timing right?) and I got to see them a lot more, but looking back now, not nearly enough for my tastes. 

Now you might be asking yourself, "Who the $%^#& is this guy?" and you'd be right to do so. Aside from being in another country, he was a worker. That means sometimes no one knows who you are because you are so busy doing private gigs and corporate work you don't get to show off publicly too much. He was underground in plain sight. His lecture was full of original ideas and presentations, great magic, and clever comedy. (He created a topit that allowed you to access your pockets and have it reset again for Anubis' sake and no one knows about it!)

Thom and Annabel moved to LA for a change but when you ask the universe for that, you need to be VERY specific or it might change your world for the worse. Back in March, Thom succumbed to something wicked that came his way leaving behind a grieving widow and a legacy of unknown and amazing magic (as well as the memories of a great funny smart guy).

I'd been meaning to write a post since the day he shook off his mortal coil but never found the right mood. I mourn not only the loss of his physical form, but the ideas that will never be, the laughs never to be had, or the late nights discussing the unforeseeable future.

A future that is a lot less amazing for those that knew him.

Tuesday, December 06, 2022

Not stirred...

Today I bring you a pseudo-guest post.This was a previous post elsewhere by Lee Presson of "Lee Presson and the Nails" that I have obtained permission to re-post here. (Also don't forget to check out their music over here if you like bad ass swing music.)


"This is a tough one to try and describe, but I'll do my best.  I've often compared research for any theatrical endeavor to the vermouth in a martini.  You pour it in, you swish it around, you dump it out.  Then you put in something completely different, be it gin or vodka, but the hint of that vermouth still remains. So with that metaphor in mind, let's take LPN as an example: I immersed myself in Jazz history, I learned as much about it as I could, I listened to as much of it as I could... and then I dumped it all out and tried to develop an original stage presentation.  But the hint of all that history is still there, see? (also the 70 year-old songs help)

Or say, Edgar Allan Poe at Dickens Fair.  I obviously can't play him as he actually was because this is supposed to be a Christmas fair... a CHEERY occasion!  So, same thing... do the research, learn as much as I can, then toss it all and ask myself the following question: given what I know about this man, how would he behave at a party if he were given the chance to forget about his inner demons for just a few hours?  I think he'd be grateful for the opportunity, and that's how I play him. 

There are two ways to play a character.  One is to pretend you're the character, and the other is to pretend the character is you.  I choose the 2nd approach.  Take the role and make it yours.  Just don't forget the vermouth!"

A little bit of everything...

This is a great way to think about taking something and making it your own after learning about what has come before. The history of an art is import if for no other reason than to know you are not wasting your time re-creating someone else's wheel. It's also good to know the "Rules" of something so you can then bend, break, and discard the ones that don't apply to you or what you are doing. 

The problems lies in those who don't think they don't need this knowledge and they end up being a pale comparison of something that came before them because they never bothered to research in a time when it's easier than it ever was. 

It's never too late to take a look behind you... 

Wednesday, November 16, 2022

The incredible journey...

 The internet giveth and the internet taketh away. It has enabled some amazing things in our world but it has also created so many voids. For a few years now I have been lamenting the loss of journey and discovery and what it might be doing to future generations.

I am the last generation to not have internet and then have it. That means I have experienced wacky things like video rental locations, records stores, and and brick and mortar magic shops. You see, there was a time that when, if you wanted something, you had to leave your house to go procure it. If you didn't have a car you had to bug friends or family to get you there before they closed (or take public transit) and Anubis forbid they didn't have it and you had to go to another (and another, and another) store.

Never again will you discover new music while searching through piles of CDs for that ONE song you recorded onto a cassette tape from the radio. You will never know the JOY of standing in a Blockbuster Video for hours while your siblings fight with your parents over what movies to get. Long gone are the days of going into a badly lit treasure trove of magical offerings while some grumpy mage slings advice you don't want to hear but one day will be thankful they did.

We have lost something amazing without the act of the journey and discovery. 

Everything is at our fingertips now and because of that so few things have any real value. You cherished that record or CD because you had to travel the realm and interact with the locals to get it. You had to slay that dragon called "the outside world" to find your treasures. Now so much is disposable and that includes magic. 

The social media generation doesn't have to work hard to learn or obtain the secrets of our art so they treat it like everything else... disposable distractions. Without the experience of the journey and discovery they no longer put stock into it's importance hence it becomes another trivial and fleeting toy to be abandoned as quickly as they purchased it from their phone.

Sure, there are those who know the intrinsic value of certain things, magic or otherwise. However, they are currently outnumbered by those who vie for imaginary internet points and that quick hit of sweet, sweet dopamine. The joy of those thumbs up and views fade fast and they have to chew through material to get that high over and over. Who has time to sort through bins and shelves when you can tap a few buttons and be done with it?

So my advice to you is make more of an effort to go on adventures. Call up a friend, leave your house, and go on a journey to discover something new.

You might just find more than you bargained for.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

A flat minor...

Truer words...

 Today I am recovering from MAGIC Live here in Las Vegas. I only got about 20 minutes in the dealer's room to look around but I have seen some videos of random effects popping up. One such video got my usual reaction to the glut of the magic released nowadays... "So what?".

 There are so many "minor miracles" released into the magic marketplace disguised as this HUGE thing. Sure in the right hands, almost anything can be a show stopper but how often does that happen? I'm getting kind of sick of seeing mediocre wizardry touted as amazing magic when the effect is basically only good as disposable video fodder. 

Long gone are the days of performers putting in many, many hours to make sure an effect was as solid as it can be. This is not new of course, but it slowly seems to be now be the norm. Far too much is being released far too quick for a quick buck. I'm not saying everything I have ever released has been gold, but I at least gave it more than a week of gestation before putting it in people's hands.

I don't want magic that can't drink dammit!

Sunday, May 01, 2022

No respect I tell yah...

 Some of you might be too young to know, or remember, that there was a time in America where variety acts were well respected. There were TV shows that showcased their talent and didn't treat them like some second class citizen waiting to be exploited for clicks, views, or ratings.

Culture tends to be influenced by it's media. Clothing, hairstyles, and other trends come from what we consume. If the media doesn't respect the variety arts, then the general public doesn't tend to either.

Let's harken back to the days when programs like "The Ed Sullivan Show" would bring on people who spent YEARS perfecting a skill set and not for being "famous for nothing". 


This is George Carl. One of the great Vaudeville clowns. Did I say clowns? Yes... yes I did. We equate clowns to those who sport facepaint and bright costumes, but there is a whole other kind of clown that doesn't need all that "finery". The physical comedian, the slapstick connoisseur, the... well... clown.

George Carl was a master of many things (as one had to be back then) and created a lot of gags and bits of business that have since passed on into the acts of others, whether they know it or not. As performers we should know what came before to appreciate what we have (or don't have) now and carry on the traditions of entertaining an audience with whatever we have on hand, be it our coats, our arms, or just ourselves.

True comedy is timeless.

Thursday, April 07, 2022

First Timers...

 I often wonder what it would have been like the first time someone saw a Nielsen bottle or Fantasio candle used. Things we take for granted but would have BLOWN OUR DAMN MINDS the first time they appeared on a stage. 

Now imagine people seeing a trampoline for the first time.

Larry Griswold co-created the trampoline as we know it today and used it in his act. Can you imagine people going nuts for a trampoline or thinking "WTF is that thing?!". 

Innovation and creation has to start somewhere. The mother of invention and all that. Who knows, maybe one day you will create something that will blow people minds.

It could happen.