Wednesday, September 30, 2009
If you are familiar with the basic stage illusion principles you can do the following trick:
You produce a small hand-knotted carpet. But it is not finished yet, as you unroll the carpet. And from behind the carpet you produce a small Indian child. You hand the carpet to the kid with a disgusted face: "Finish that! And don't ruin my show ever again!"
Monday, September 28, 2009
Sometimes a decision has to be made with a heavy heart. Alexander de Cova, an extraordinary performer, a true shining light in the German magic scene. But a lot of light casts a lot of shadow. Therefore I start with the good things. Alexander is a distinguished technician. His sleight of hand is unbelievably good. Magic looks effortless when he does it. Undoubtedly a result of talent and hard work.
He is creative, handy and interested in the effect and not the method. When ever he does magic, it looks like magic. His performing character is complex, interesting and has a philosophical touch.
So, why the hell is he not all of this in real life? How did he manage to get a doubtful reputation as an unpunctual, drunk flake? Obviously by being unpunctual, (sometimes not showing up at all) unreliable and consuming too much Alcohol.
Over the years he has become a joke in the magic scene. A tragic joke, so, one would choke on the laugh.
A few years ago he wanted to sell his "Misdirection Kit" to a few people. The project was delayed a few times and when it was done, it was incomplete. Promised early bird deductibles where not given.
So why for heaven's sake is there such a contrast between his true and his performing character? This says nothing good about his inner conflicts.
And as much as I cherish the one half of him, I contemn the other. Alexander! With a heavy heart you finally have become Weekly Magic Failure.
Sunday, September 27, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Just for fun, a cute little prank for all you mentalists out there. You need a victim. How about Bob. You go for a walk with Bob. During that you perform a few mental experiments. Phone number, name of Bob's cat, number of sexual intercourse per year. The usual. Then, suddenly, you drop on your knees and mention with a weak voice, that something terrible will happen. Bob will ask what. The answer: "Your mother will die today."
Bob will probably be a bit angry for this very, very inappropriate joke. But a few minutes later, Bob gets a call on his cell phone. His brother is calling to tell him, that their mother has been rushed to hospital.
Directly after the call you drop on your knees again with a tight chest, puling: "Bob, your mother is dead now."
Dramatically convenient Bob's cell phone rings in this moment of awkward silence. His mother is calling: "Greetings... from the Grave!"
At that point in time you should resolve the prank, by running away as fast as possible, thanking Bob's brother and mother for participating.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Why is it, that whenever a newspaper, an online journal or a TV station does a report on magic it is either completely tearing down magic or hyping it into mystic heaven? Why is there no balanced reporting going on?
I am not talking about the "magic news" (like The Magic Newswire or iTricks), which is done by people who have a background in magic, (Dodd Vickers and Justin R. Young) but by people who have no magic history.
And I feel I need to say often this is the fault of the magician that is interviewed. He either leaves a bad impression which causes the reporter to truthfully report on the bad things, or the magician is such a great character that the reporter loses all of his journalistic ethics and does advertisement for the magician.
While the later might be a good thing for that specific magician it creates a wrong picture of magicians. And is that what we really want? A warped image of the magic community? That we all love each other and help each other, and still everyone is better that everyone else and that none is replaceable and that everyone does unique and create stuff? Unfortunately I can answer my own question. Most want that image. Sad that only a few care for the truth.
Extra: A shocking developement. Justin R. Young of iTricks is not really a magician. How can you trust such a fiddler, such a con man? All of iTricks news might be lies. Lies I tell ya!
Monday, September 21, 2009
Johannes Franciscus Catharinus Klok a Dutch magician. Also known as the "fastest magician ever" at least according to his website. He is Weekly Magic Failure for just one reason. For being the "fastest magician ever".
I certainly understand why he wants to be unique among the illusionist out there, but speed certainly is not a criteria to make magic more powerful. Hans seems not to have grasped the concept of magic. Magic is about mystery not speed. However I agree that most illusion shows are too slow and most shows are too slow, because of all the fruity dancing and the posing. Both horrible things, but even Hans did not get rid of those. He is the king of posing.
Why is this 40-year-old man successful with this approach? My educated guess here is that his good looks play a great part. Because it cannot be his magic, which is similar to dozens of other illusionist. Aside from his blond "German" looks he has nothing to offer. So I guess falling back to the "fastest magician ever"-gimmick is sort of evolutionary. But evolution sorts crap out if it fails.
Hans has no personality, almost no creativity but a huge collection of poses. David Copperfield would be jealous.
Sunday, September 20, 2009
In a play, a book or film the hero of the story changes throughout the events. He may be a jerk in the beginning and a kind and loving person in the end.
In magic this doesn't happen. Usually, the performer stays the same. Or in other words... a magic show has no plot. And to have a plot you need an antagonist. Magic could be a perfect antagonist. So here is my idea for a "different" magic show:
The show begins with the performer being a total dick. He is good though. He does the cups and balls. Everything works perfectly. (no final loads) Magic is his slave. Then he does the next trick, but somehow something goes wrong just a tiny detail, nothing to worry. (With going wrong I am not saying screwing up, but I am talking about perverted magic/unasked magic)
And this gets worse with every trick he does. In fact the audience even likes it, because the unpleasant performer gets what he deserves. This could go absolutely crazy, until the point that the performer gives up. He sits down on a chair (might even knocked off the props which were sitting on there) And suddenly starts crying and monologuing.
And during the crying a thimble appears on the finger. The performer in angry disgust tosses the thimble away, but a second one appears... the magic strikes back for good.
Only reconciliation with magic suddenly makes the thimble go away. And after that the magician is a reformed man. He is happy, and "nice" to his props and audience. Hesitant in the beginning, but inspirited with more and more courage. He actually does the cups and balls again, but this time a lot of more stuff is happening, again some unwanted magic happens, but it is not a bad thing anymore. And in the end there are the lemons.
So just like in a play, book or film the person changes. Unfortunately this would require acting... which I cannot do. Damn!
Friday, September 18, 2009
That funny Peter Loughran, he is so funny. Haha. A while ago he released a card trick called SEEP. I wrote a whole blog post about it. Somehow the demo video vanished shortly after that. For a while it said on Peter's website that a live video will be coming soon. It never came. But the original video came back. Sort of.
I complained that the secret could be seen in the video. Now the crucial moment is edited. From 0:33 to 0:35 you see a distinct speed up of the video. A few frames have been removed. Wow, instead of shooting the video again, they edited the video. That is lazy.
I just realised something. Most magicians are afraid to look ugly. They wear nice suits, comb their hair and try to be as pleasant as possible. While this would be desirable for nice looking men it is kind of awkward for the not so fair looking guys of our guild.
If you cannot dazzle them with beauty, baffle them with character. A good example would be Juan Tamariz. He doesn't look good. But instead of trying to look good, which would be more than a pitiful attempt, he deliberately makes himself look more ugly. And he definitely has character.
Nobody wants to be a loser, but if the role of a loser suit you better than the role of a hero, you better go with this route.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
I got asked a few times where to get the fake fetus. Well, there you go. This whole website is a pretty interesting read through, especially for psychologists.
Just order 3 and do a bit of juggling with it. If one falls down it is a stillborn baby.
Seriously though, the website is a nice source for bizarr magic.
Justin Robert Young asked for it, he wanted to be on the blog roll... ok. Justin here you go. I just didn't because I thought you might not want to get affiliated with me. But iTricks is now on the blogroll, to your right.
Buddy, I am watching you... c a r e f u l l y...
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
Here a funny little trick that you can build whole religions on. First, get a little plastic fetus. (You can get them from anti-abortionist and pro-lifers) and a blood capsule. Furthermore you need a pregnant lady, about the end of the first trimester, who is unaware of you knowing that she is pregnant.
In your fist, press the blood capsule against the plastic fetus. It's a mess but it is worth it. Now reach for the belly and "extract" the fruit of the womb, show it briefly and say something suitable like "Cute little fellow". Afterwards you false transfer the fetus into the other hand and "rub" it back into the belly.
If you do not like the effect, here is an alternative: Before you put back the fetus, transform it into a little rat using standard Spell Bound moves. Not only would that be an additional phase in the routine, but it would also strengthen the effect dramatically.
Bonus: Here is another phase you can add to the routine. A kicker ending. Of course after such a routine you will be looked upon with admiration, which kind of forces you to continue. Basically you would take a napkin and from it, you produce a coat hanger. Hand both out as a gift, as she might need both in a little while.
Oh boy I am so gonna burn in hell for this.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
More and more I am lead to believe that handing out props before the actual performance of the trick is crucial. It usually is a huge part of most cups and balls routines. And undoubtedly the cups and balls are a pretty old trick, therefore the part of the handing out of the cups is pretty old too. And it is important, because if you do not do it, people will assume during the cause of the routine, that the cups are the modus operandi. That thought must be avoided at all cost, because it is the performer who wants to get the credit for his effort. Not the cups.
The same should be true for other tricks as well. Card tricks for example. Most performers do not hand out the cards, before they start the card tricks. They should. Not only that. They should also let the spectators shuffle the cards. How often do I hear a layperson asking the performer if he/she can shuffle the cards. If he/she would have been allowed that from the very beginning, the question would not arise. Also, the performer will get all the credit and none would go to the cards.
Should it be done with every single prop... Honestly, yes, but most often it cannot be done with all props, for they might find something. So the key is to find the right balance between handing stuff out and not doing it.
And here are a few pointers to decide whether it is needed or not.
1. Is the prop above suspicion? (pencil, scissors)
2. Is the pacing obviously more important than the examination?
3. Is the drama more important than the examination?
4. Would an examination be a task that is hard to do?
1. If a prop is above suspicion it must not be handed out, or it will draw suspicion.
2. A show has a certain pacing, and if that pacing would be interrupted by a close examination of the props, and if that interruption would be obvious by the spectators that there is no need for the examination, as the spectators would understand that it would "kill" the flow of the routine.
3. Sometimes if it is important that a prop is not handed out, for you might want a certain "false thinking" to distract from the real method. Most sucker tricks work on that premise.
4. Working on a stage handing out props is not really an easy task. Illusions cannot be given out to the spectators, and asking a spectator on stage might be a difficult task too, if there is no staircase leading to the stage. If those "handicaps" are understood by the audience, they will understand the reasons why they are not allowed to examine the props in use. Those reasons, might not be the real reasons, but they will suffice in the spectators mind.
Monday, September 14, 2009
BOB RIP. He has long been on my WMF Radar. For selling and producing rip off magic articles. Without shame.
It is hard to copyright anything in magic. Because a slight change in the method would allow for a legal rip off. Knowing that helps to know why BOB RIP and the many others of his kind are permitted to continue with their "abuse" of magic.
And this is generally rant worthy. If someone has a genuine idea it is taken by others which in itself isn't that bad, but then it is marketed which opens the lid to this magic variation of the Pandora's box.
And of course this is not a problem unique to magic. So I guess the causes for those actions are not the usual reasons common in magic. So it is not inferiority complexes nor need for admiration. Just pure and plain avarice. So I assume that Mr. RIP will not even care for his award. Kind of sad.
EDIT 3rd of October 2012: Boy was I wrong. The legal department contacted me. Wrong email address of course.
Sunday, September 13, 2009
This is wrong on so many levels.
I try to be fair, but this sucks.
First the music... Does anyone really like Czech Polka? The Beer Barrel Polka is one of the worst songs I know. But I guess there is a small minority that actually can stand the song for more than 10 seconds. Those are either brave or dumb.
Second... A DVD about Flourishes with Poker Chips and Cards. There are tons of free tutorials on Youtube. So why would anyone pay for that?
Third... those Flourishes in the video are not good. We got a coin roll, a riffle shuffle with poker chips and other very basic sleights. The only challenging series of sleights that is taught is the four coin roll out.
The DVD has a running time of 33 minutes, which is a bit short for 19.95 dollars. (Shipping not included)
Again, there are free tutorials on Youtube, just search for "poker chip tricks"
So, don't buy the Poker Chip DVD by Tom Golabek unless you like Polka, have too much money, or wanna have a prank gift for people you do not like.
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Ahh, the linking rings, a timeless classic. Or a classic that fits in no time.
Pretty confusing routine, what is going on with the rope at 1:35? I do not get the effect. And the Titanic Soundtrack, really? Nice practice routine with all the tossing, but it is boring to watch. A bedroom magicians that is very Jeff McBride like.
The Ninja Rings, too fast? Maybe! But at least easier to follow than the last one. But could it more efficient? The handling require lots of weird extra moves. And another bed in the background. And nice J-Pop... don't know what Manga though.
What the hell is that? My grandpa used to dress like that. But only in private. If Jean Michel Jarre knew that his music was abused to such purpose I guess he would sue. Is this guy funny with all the "helicopter" moves and the "hitting on the thumb"? Am I really that much of an uncooperative, antisocial cohort if I do not like that? At 3:15 it gets really gay.
Again the Ninja rings. At least some talking... but the proportions are way off. A fat dude with tiny rings... only when it is funny. But this was no comedy. I use the small rings and I am a fat dude, but at least I make it a point that the rings are so small, not because I am so fat, but because I could not afford bigger rings.
Again, too long, at least does this aged Hippie know how to spin the rings in his hands. The choice of music is weird, as if he had taken too many drugs. (or the musician) Jeff McBride goes through the same moves in less than 3 minutes.
Flying linking rings. Reminds me of Victor Voitko. The music from a Copperfield special, making the performer a fading memory with no character or charisma. But no bed- or living room in the background. That sure gives him plus points which are taken away right away because of all the other self working props in the background.
You might think it is hard to follow a regular linking rings performance. Naturally three routines at the same time are even harder to follow. Someone should tell the girls, who thought it was a good idea. But maybe the point of this performance is not the stupid ring trick. This would be even better when drunk.
With all the broad moves this is clear as water.... WRONG this is most confusing. And the choice of music really doesn't fit the rhythm of the routine. Bad performance.
What the heck is this? He clearly just bought the rings, but it is a bit lovely how he just tosses away the used rings, except one of them. Kind of a spoiler if you ask me.
So why does he post this on Youtube...? I don't know.
Another McBride clown... err, clone that leaves no impression. At least he goes through the moves fast. That way I forget way faster.
Here is a tip, from fatso to fatso. If you are fat, wear black and wear layers. I can see the man boobs, which made it very hard to follow the routine. Is he wearing sun glasses or is it just a blindfold? Hard to tell. Again way too long, but at least he patters, making it seem a lot shorter. Gotta give him that.
Singing, according to the action. Not bad actually, but a 2 ring routine...? Really? Naturally this is not magical, the rings are just a gimmick to illustrate the lyrics.
It is kind of sad, that so far this is the best performance.
Wow, this is old school, but a step in the right direction, as it is hinted that the rings are actually handed out for examination. But as usual, way too long and way too much repeat. Typical case of: I practiced all the moves, ergo I must show them all.
Why doesn't he hand out the rings? Handing them out is the strength of the routine. And holding up three rings, looking thought the center ring, saying Mickey Mouse takes away any dignity that one has.
How old is this kid? Should he be practicing the linking rings... Sadly I was about the same age when I started to practice this. And if you endured this blog post so far, here is a little reward by telling you a true story. When I was 14 years old I was practicing the linking rings. At night. At three in the morning. My mother open the door, with a really tired face. "Roland, I am tired, those rings are just too noisy. Boys your age should do something at night that is a lot more quite. Masturbate or something, but let's have some quiet!"
A nerd in the making, no body tension and again the McBride routine. Rehearsing the routine more often would not only make him good, but also be a physical workout.
Here is a tip for the future. If you are a magician in a comedy club, be funny! You got the magic gimmick, that helps a lot. But still, you gotta be funny. People go to a comedy club to laugh, to forget the worries of the day and to relax. A half-assed serious performance, that is not fluid really doesn't help.
Boooooooooooooooooooooooooring! You might say, yeah for a magician maybe, but a layperson will be baffled and mystified... You are kidding right?
This clearly is not a performance, but a practice video, so what the heck is it doing on Youtube? But I like the choice of music. It has something. I cannot tell what, but something.
I like the box. It has advertisement, as well as functionality. It serves as a holder and as a servante. You can hide rather large loads behind the box and yet nobody will question it, as the box seems to have a funtionality, therefore it is above suspicion. The table seems to be like one of those you can fold together. Maybe you can do the same with the box too, making it a "packs flat, plays big" item. Oh yeah, there is a linking ring routine in the video too. Damn I like that box. I wish my name was Mike Daniels.
Could this young man look more bored? I think not.
This probably is the most noisy routine I have ever heard. And talk about a weird structure. Eight rings: Three of them are linked in a chain. That chain is hung around the neck and nothing is done with it anymore. Three more a linked, Again hung around the neck, but not the same way as the other three, having no consistency at all. The remaining two rings are linked, then unlinked ending the video on a dumb expression at 1:28.
If you make a video, at least remove the dirty laundry from the background.
As professionals we often have to do some shows, where we are not in the mood. It might be the location, the audience or oneself. This man is a clear case of "I do not want to be here, but I get paid" He goes through the routine, like a robot trying to get it over with. Again no handing out of the rings. So what is the point?
Ok, this young fellow loves video effects. Even down to slow motion... slow motion in a linking ring routine. Wow, as if it was not boring enough. Watch at 2:15 as he starts spinning the ring, with all of his might, I swear I see his fat jiggling along the way.
I see a pattern! No handing out of the rings. Mostly music. I get it, working with the linking rings must give one physical pleasure. Not the kind my mother referred to in the statement I gave earlier, but some sort of pleasure. So I guess there is some merit in the linking rings. None that would be good for magic though.
AND, TO END THE TRAVESTY, the world famous Shaolin Magician. Actually giving the linking rings a motivation. I am in awe at this cinematic master piece..
I am not finished yet. If you had the endurance to read up to this point you deserve my humble opinion on the correct handling of the linking rings routine.
1. Just a few rings. Four rings seems optimal, because it is really not confusing.(yes I dare to disagree with the God of magic, Mr. Dai Vernon)
2. Hand out the rings during the performance!
3. Patter, as it makes the routine more clear!
4. HAND OUT THE RING BEFORE THE PERFORMANCE... I should have told you that right away right? I think this is crucial, that ALL the rings are handed out for examination BEFORE you start. Only then people will not think of a gap on at least one of the rings. Of course most sets do not allow for that ruse. Well switching rings in and out not only is possible, but mandatory.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
A while ago I told you about "professional mode and impromptu mode" here are two more.
When performing, people assume your are performing (naturally). Same is true for explaining. When explaining, people assume you are explaining. So if you make a fake explanation part of your performance, people will stop thinking you are performing, but instead explaining.
This helps to get away with certain stuff.
Here is an example: Bottom Deal. If you have the four aces or whatever on top, and a duplicate set on the bottom, you can do this. Explain what a bottom deal is, and show the four aces on the bottom. Say, there will be five players. Then deal the four aces from the top and the fifth card comes from the bottom. Since you are "explaining" it you have the liberty to be really bad about it.
Deal four more cards and then a bottom deal. Do this until everyone has five cards. Turn over your packet revealing the four aces. This is no surprise.
Now take the four remaining packets and put them on the deck without changing the order. That sets up the duplicate aces for real dealing.
The visible four aces go back to the bottom of the deck. You explain that now you will do it at full speed.
And all you do is dealing regularly. But fast. And because you are in "Explanation Mode" and not "Performance Mode" it will be believable.
Tuesday, September 8, 2009
My favourite magic dealer "Hypocrisy 13" has released a new product. Tailored specifically to the "Youtube-magician" I ordered it and was not disappointed. In fact, you get even more goodies not mentioned in the advertisement. For example: you'll learn how to invert the colours in the picture, so your Black Tiger cards looks just like regular cards.
It is such an awesome product. I knew there was this underground technique out there. But now it is taught in detail by the fine magicians of "Hypocrisy 13"
Monday, September 7, 2009
Doug Malloy. He really is not a bad magician. In fact all I have seen has been pretty entertaining. But he also is a magic dealer. Basically a family business with Doug being the head of it.
And in that role as a magic dealer he ain't too bad either. Nice products, all pretty expensive. But there is one item that he sells, for 50 dollars, that is worth about 4 bucks. But since you already own all the props it is free.
The item in question: The Arlington's Silk Flight Take a look at that. (There is a video too, watch it to see how amazingly great he handles the TT. The steal, the application and the ditch.)
The magician begins by showing a crystal box containing three silks. A small white silk is removed from the box and a spectator is asked to sign his name across it. Next a large blue silk is removed from the box and a large red silk remains inside the box. The box is closed and locked and given to an audience member to hold in plain view. The white silk with the signature is placed inside the blue silk and vanished. The spectator holding the crystal box is asked to remove the red silk. The magician takes the red silk and asks the spectator who signed the white silk to reach inside the red silk. Amazingly their signed silk reappears inside the red silk!
So a TT and three pieces of silk. Two large ones and one white one. All you need is a none permanent marker so you can wash the white piece of silk. Unless of course you want to give out the piece of silk as a souvenir, which I would highly recommend.
So what justifies the 50 dollars that Doug Malloy asks for? The box? Well you don't need the box at all. The gimmick? You probably own it already. The idea? Tarbell.
So I do not get it. But why make Doug a Weekly Magic Failure for just one product? Well here is my thought process. If a dealer sells you BS, even once that means he clearly has some agenda. Most often that agenda is to make money. Having the biggest profit margin. In his case more than a 1000 percent.
You might say, you do not have to buy it. Right! I don't. I own such a box ("The Thing" by Bill Abbott) I have the gimmick and I have the pieces of silk. I am just saying, that Doug is well aware of that "Rip off". And ripping off makes him WMF.
In closing: Is the routine any good? Well, it can be. I am sure with proper audience management and likable character this can be a killer routine. A routine you can do without spending 50 bucks.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Think about both man what you will, but this is not the first time this happened. Dirk Losander and Dean Dill come to mind. The magic cafe being used to beg for money. Well I think it is a clever idea to ask the community directly, but is this the right way to go? Begging... ok, they do not call it begging, you are simply asked to purchase lecture notes. And the description of Steven Youell's illness could not be more vague. Is it cancer or just a simple cold? I do not know. So I don't even know whether it will be worth it to spend money. It could be wasted as it might just prolong an already doomed life.
Sometimes I am happy to life in Germany, where we have a health care system which actually ensures that people stay healthy.
But what do I know? I rather help a few more lifes here in Nigeria. See you next week.