Monday, August 18, 2014

Free ECT CAC



The Conjuring Arts Center is running their sumner reading program again.

I mentioned this series last year & was gonna leave it at that, but their latest release is a MUST have.

if you're late to the party, better late than never ...

Week 7 of this summer's series features the classic (epic) "Expert Card Technique" 

... Nuff Said

https://shop.conjuringarts.org/store/m/viewprd.asp

Go, unplug that DVD player & give your brain some candy.

Open note of THANKS to all the fine folks at the CAC. 
THANK YA GENTS!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Page by Page

Stephen Page ( former front man for the  "Barenaked Ladies")  has long been one of my favorite male vocalists. If you're not sure who I'm talking about, do yourself a favor and youtube a tune or two: I suggest "Break Your Heart" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiNyPn2OZzg  (there's LOTS more where that came from)

So anyway:...
His appearance at Toronto TedX delivers a wonderful look at creating and performing.

I think anyone who presents an art on stage for a live audience will find something to benefit from hie thoughts... if nothing else you get to hear Mr. Page sing a wonderful song

** the casual reader  might want to skip to minute 8:00 to get to the meat of the talk (but BNL fans will want to listen to the whole thing)



Enjoy


Tuesday, August 5, 2014

WTF


I learned about Marc Maron's wonderful WTF podcast a couple years ago and I've been a fan ever since (thanks Rich!) Maron  is a grizzled veteran of the comedy scene. His  insight to the entertainment industry  provides no holds barred interviews with random celebrities (and magicians)

Todays link du jour is the recent WTF  with the Amazing Johnathon. This NSFW interview  is: a no-holds barred look at AJ's career (and beyond.) Johnathon is going through some tough stuff and you might find this interview a bit dark, but looking beyond the words, you might find inspiration to persevere through your own tough times. If nothing else, once you start listening I can pretty much guarantee you won't be able to stop.
http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episodes/episode_514_-_the_amazing_johnathan


Below is the Nate Bargatze interview that got me hooked on the show. Nate is Stephen Bargatze' son & a prossional comedian who, among other things gives a hillarious look at what it was like growing up with a magician as a father.
http://www.wtfpod.com/podcast/episodes/episode_312_-_nate_bargatze

I don't expect everyone will like Maron's style as much as I do, but those who do will find a must-have bookmark for their pod-player of choice.

http://www.wtfpod.com/

Friday, July 25, 2014

Crewistry

I've had a soft spot in my heart for card flourishes since childhood... perhaps learning things like the "Hot Shot Cut" (and a decade later: Chris Kenners "Sybll" ) from the printed page installed a respect for the craft at an early age... or perhaps my brain is just hardwired for the odd and unusual?
(the latter is more likely to be closer to the truth.)

If you're on the fence about flourishes, I suggest a look at  Daryl's thoughts in his "In Praise of the Lowly Flourish" essay. This can be found in "For Your Entertainment Pleasure" (Stephen Minch)

While I'm here: Open note to Daryl & or Stephen: In my opinion For Your Entertainment Pleasure & "Secrets of a Puerto Rican Gambler" are as important now as they were back in the 80's...  PLEASE REPRINT THEM!

but I digress...

Sub note 2.0" Alex Elmsley also published some interesting thoughts on the subject (these can be found in his "Collected Works"... again Minch ;) ... those who know me , know I put allot of value on just about EVERY thing Mr. Elmsley has published.

Anyhoo
If you don't want to do the right thing and find/read/contemplate the thoughts of these giants, I think I can sum it up in a sentence:

"An audience should expect a professional to handle their props expertly"

(at the very least, they shouldn't be surprised if/when you do so.)

IMO: it makes total since that a performer who handles cards (or coins or balls or whatever) should be able to manipulate the objects extraordinarily. Sure, you must be careful not to overshadow the magic/effect with such displays, but as an interlude or when used to diffuse a hot moment, flourishes can be a wonderful tool (and as in the "Hot Shot Cut" & the "Snow Shoe Sandwich") used correctly flourished CAN also be used within a magical routine...

You cay no?
I say rules are meant to be broken
 Of course, this isn't the right approach for everyone,
but there is a place and a time for some of it, some of the time.

NOte, No, I still haven't seen a full / live performance of "Cardistry" that I think a paying  / viewing public would be interested in.... but I've seen LOTS of interesting web demos that interest me.

Here's one of them below (in fact, it was the inspiration for this post)
These young men perform with a smooth grace that brings a certain elegance to the flourishes


... the editing is sweet too.

Thanks Zach & Crew (Chase Duncan, Tobias Levin)

Good stuff

Monday, July 14, 2014

TELLer

Book Mark Du Jour

"It's only the unwilling suspension of disbelief that is fascinating"
Say what?
Think about that... and then watch the interview below to enter the minds of Penn & Teller.

"Magic can be an intellectual art form because it has built-in irony" (Teller)

While watching some YouTube today, I ran across an amazing interview with P&T... a great discussion that gets real juicy at the 9:30 mark. Some of the best theory crafting I've given my time to contemplate.

 I'll be re-reviewing this for sure.

I could listen to Penn speak his mind ad-nausem on just about any subject
(and he has some interesting views on MANY topics) better than that... TELLER speaks!

This is a very interesting discussion from TAM 2012


Sunday, July 13, 2014

Reviewing the State of Magicrap

This appears to be a non-biased magic-video review site.
https://www.youtube.com/user/AkiraFist/videos?sort=dd&shelf_id=0&view=0
No crazy gimmicks and not related to the distribution / prostitution of our art.

I started to bookmark the site for my (never-ending) favorites list and as I contemplated that, I contemplated the lack of good magic I've seen reviewed lately. **I have seen magic get good reviews... but that doesn't mean it's good. It only means it's selling.

There's little I enjoy more in life than researching magic. From the first day I cracked a magic book (30+ years ago) to watching the latest Wizard Product review (last Wed.) I have enjoyed many many long days and late nights in pursuit of the elusive miracle.

I can confidently state: If you're looking for a new  effect or routine, I'm confident in stating the best bang for your buck will usually come from a book. Not only will book study provide the most value, it will inspire you to interpret the magic on your own. Unlike a DVD (or watching someone else perform an effect in a lecture or show) YOU get to choose what the magic will convey.

I digress...
I'm not preaching the perfect way to learn magic. That's not the purpose of this post.
So, why are we here today?
Well....

After watching the recent episodes of the aforementioned  Wizard Product Review , I reflected on the insane amount of magiCRAP that is being released these days. I thought it was getting bad 10 years ago when I owned a shop and the flood gates were wide open. For the most part, the last few decades have provided an amazing selection of valuable products for the magi-community. But now that all the great performers have released their material, we're left with teenagers and non-professionals pumping out products as fast as paypal can launder the money. I've heard rumors of the amount of new magic that major distributors carry. No less than 5-7 NEW products added EVERY week. Its unfathomable that any company can deal with this output (much less profit from it.) But... they do... and someone is supporting them (and by someone, I mean 1000's of magi-marks.) I understand what its like when the magibug bites: it's grip is fast and wide. It seems the desire to learn anything and everything is satiated only by the size of your wallet.

I'm guilty as anyone. Rarely does a week go by that I don't wish for the latest trick or doohickey. But I recently realized that was no longer the case. I don't think it has anything to do with my interest in our art, I think it's just a lack of good products. Sure, There's a gazillion things I'd like to have: I never did get a (Pure) smoke device & I'd still like to test drive "Soundz Amazing" (both from my wishlist last year) but nope: nothing lately.
Oh, btw, speaking of Soundz Amazing, here's the in depth review from Akirafist:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67_801SsbkE
I'll be spending a good portion of my day, reviewing his reviews.

That's the bright-side of the current magic-meta. There are PLENTY of opinions to be heard. Turn on YouTube, check the Magi-cafe, ask Facebook, etc. Do yourself a favor: Weed out the chaff.

Alright, this post needs to end somewhere. I guess we'll wrap up here
#1: Buy More Books
#2: Buy Carefully
#3: Review the Reviews

and remember one of the golden rules:
The amateur magician does 100 tricks poorly. The professional does 10 tricks well.
*& the best magi do 5 tricks perfectly (my addendum) 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Wonder(stone)ing

Last night I re-watched “The Incredible Burt Wonderstone” (on HBO...)
With all due respect to any alumni involved in his forgettable movie, it is only (sleightly) saved by 
acceptable performances from Steve Carell and Jim Carrey. 
There are some fun cameos and the occasional reference will keep fast company attentive (“your Zarrow shuffle is sloppy”) IMO: Overall, this flick was a disappointment. 

So, why am I mentioning it? 
Well, it provided the incentive to reflect on a reflection that has stayed fast in my theory closet (say what?)  
These thoughts deserve more than the brief mention I’ll be delivering here. Perhaps some day I’ll spend the time to record a full mental dump, but for now a few sentences will have to suffice.

To make a long story short: 
One of the ‘Wonderful’ things about our craft is that there are so many ways to do things right. 
Whether its a full fledged sensory attack (Ala David Copperfield) or a few mumbled words (Ala David Blaine) at the end of the day, time has proven there is no ‘right’ answer when it comes to presenting the conjuring arts.

You can be fun-funny or stern-serious, amazing or skillful, suave or sloppy, it all works. 
From Mac King to Max Maven, Darwin Ortiz to Lennart Green, ( or even obtain cult icon status with unique approaches of Criss Angel or David Blaine)

One need only briefly consider the differences of these performers & then wonder how they all have reached a pinnacle of their chosen perspective. I could make a dozen different references to make my point, but a look at your personal favorite magi should provide all the mindset you need. 

While many magi are constantly in search of the right way to approach performing, they really need look no further than in front of their eyes.. 

Who really decides what is the correct approach to performing magic? 
I’ll tell you who: your audience.
& its an endgame that begins with a vision of what you want to share.

Yes, everything and more has a home in our Wonderful artform, all you really need are two things:  
#1 A Point of View 
 #2 The desire and drive to deliver #1

Or you can be an inferior imitation of someone else...
hmm

First step: the important thing is to think about it at all.

finis (or the beginning for many.)

------------------------------------------------------------------
Oh, if you haven't seen it


(if you'd like to see a great magic movie: I recommend the Prestige (a wonderul Chis Nolan flick) or The Illusionist (starring Edward Nortan in a fantastic role.... in fact, I think I'll watch that later today ;)

Prestige

The Illusionist


wow, the full movie is here;


As far as Magi-Comedies go, if you're a magician, you're likely to enjoy the english comedy "The Magicians" (availble on Netflix at the time of this post) you'll find much more real magic , cameos and the like... I'm not really recommending it, but if you're choosing between this and the average sitcom, 'the magicians' is nearly equal in entertainment value (also currently on Netflix is the outstanding Ricky Jay Documentary: Deceptive Practices.)

Last but not least (and only last because I'm sick of typing)
Now You See Me is another Magi-Flick worth a look