Friday, May 31, 2013

The pain, the pain, it just won't stop!

I'm currently reading a book. "The complete Cups & Balls" by Michael Ammar. The content is good, the layout is good. Arrows indicate what part in the text refers to what image. All really good. But the spelling mistakes. Holy crap!

This is a book. This isn't the advertisement text that Ellusionist puts on a DVD. This is no blog, nor a forum post. A book. They didn't have anybody spell checking the sucker?

English in not my first language. In fact not even my second, yet I see the mistakes.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Improvisation Sucks!

Not true! However true sometimes.

Do you enjoy improv theater? If so I got a newsflash for you. Most of the stuff is not improvisation. It is well rehearsed. How so?

Most of the suggestions from the audience is always the same. You may know this from magic. "Can you make my wife vanish?" So the result of that suggestion is always the same. An act that has been proven to work.

"But I'm part of an improvisation group" - you might say - "and we actually improvise!"

Yeah it's part of it. But you know how to read the subtle language of theater. You know your stage partners, so you know what's coming. You know why? Because you rehearsed that shit over and over. You know what fails and what stuff brings the "pidgin" home.

You may wonder what bringing the "pidgin" home means. Well I improvised and you see that sucked.

Bringing it back to magic. Don't improvise your show. Actually have a structure and a well rehearsed opener and a good, rehearsed closer. These are the two things you audience will remember and remember you for. The rest is just filler. You may improvise there.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sometimes the brain shuts down!

I've been wearing a costume for years. I wear a hat. And I've been producing coins from my elbow like everybody else. It took my years to realise that producing coins from the brim of my hat is much simpler, both in terms of method and visibility.

Somehow the simple shift from elbow to hat made coin magic unique. Nobody else does it (that I know of) ergo nobody has seen it.

I also wear a ring. Never seen that thing as "a hole". Yesterday I saw it. And I immediately saw the potential of the idea. Coin through table becomes more interesting to watch. Simply place the ring on the table. Drop the supposed three coin in your hand on the ring, while you other hand is under the table. Two of the coins will hit the ring and fall next to it, as they slide off the ring. It is an interesting image. And suddenly the ring becomes the focus of the presentation not an imaginary hole in the table.  It made the trick unique. Then the potential struck me. What if there was no table. What if I drop all three coins into the "hole" without a table. Shouldn't they simply come out the other side? Not if they are stuck. After all the ring is much smaller than the coins. So the coins vanished. I pushed my finger through the ring and at the same time the coins would "pop" out of the ring. And there you have a routine that you can do anywhere, anytime.

Sometimes the brain shuts down when it comes to seeing the obvious little things. And discovering the years of dumbness is one of the many moments in magic, that I love. I love it not because I was dumb, but because I see that I get better.

Waitin' for more!

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Great Divide vs. Angle Separation

There is this recent thread in the workers section of the Green Monster. Again arguing about the possible theft of The Great Divide, published by Harry Lorayne in 1972, by Lennart Green who calls the move the Angle Separation.

Starts at 1:49

I'm not gonna argue. Just saying this. Both moves are similar in concept, but different. And a Classic Cull is superior to both of them. So why bother?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Gregory Wilson is getting old!

What's up with all the coffee magic lately. Tricks with straws, office supply and coffee stirrers? I get the natural approach, of doing magic with "real" items. I also understand that glitter boxes should be avoided at all cost.

But why is breaking and restoring a wooden coffee stirrer a trick that is being sold? Whats wrong about a ball of yarn being unrolled, breaking off the thread in several pieces and then restoring it? It plays bigger, it is much more visual and has way more class.

Yeah that's it. Magic needs to have class. Mentally figuring out which coffee creamer has been selected has no class. However knowing which bill has been selected has class. The performer's class needs to be reflected in the props and vice versa. Doing magic with three quarters has some other level of class than doing magic with three silver dollars.

Impromptu magic with seemingly borrowed items by design is cheap magic. Supplying your own classic props breaks the illusion of it being impromptu. I agree with that, however appearing prepared has more class and magic needs that.

Here is an example you are going to hate me for. Card to Wallet is a bad - I repeat a bad - trick in a regular show. However it is an excellent trick as an impromptu trick. Let me explain: In a paid performance the client expects a bit of professionalism. The client will expect that you are clean. The client will expect that you are nice and kind to the guests and the client will expect that the stuff you do is professional and well done. So how the hell does your wallet fit in there? Your wallet is your private thing. Your wallet should be locked away with your private stuff during the show.

After the show is a different thing. Let's assume you packed your stuff already. You wear no more formal wear but you everyday wear. You are asked to do one more trick. Suddenly your wallet makes perfect sense. Suddenly it seems like you can do the magic everywhere, every time, with everything.

So it comes down to the simple fact that in a professional setting tricks with "impromptu" items have no right to be there. Which makes me realize that all the released magic is not for the professional. So please don't sell it as such.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Lol, really? Dan Hauss you're killing me ;)

Dan Hauss came out with Stir Crazy. On the DVD in the bonus section is a trick with a straw, changing color. (well the strip on the straw changes color). Really? Does that belong on any DVD, even as bonus material?

Almost four years ago I gave away that idea for free. Did you steal it? Of course not. I would not call that creative enough to publish it at all.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Can't believe I make this post!

"If you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all."

I'm so glad I never grew up with that saying. I grew up in a family that was honest. Honesty to the max. If there was something nice to say it was said. If there was something bad to say it was said as well. There was no holding back with praise and blame.

Also I learned the difference between mindless criticism and constructive criticism. And I'm happy to actually see a difference, because I noticed that people who did not grow up in an honest family have trouble telling both things apart.

To them any criticism is an act of disrespecting the person. And truth be told it often comes across as such. But constructive criticism rarely is disrespectful to the person, but to the thing that is being criticised. That may be a behavior, a thing they said or did or some other stupid thing that happened to the person. Naturally the person will be mentioned within the context. And so it can very easily be confused with disrespecting the person him-/herself.

I give an example of a similar thing. And it's even magic related. Some people don't like magic. They somehow don't see the magic as an attack of their logic, but as an attack on themselves. The subtext they read into a magic performance goes like this: "I don't understand how the magician does this, ergo I'm stupid."

We magicians know that this is really not what is going on. Yet those spectators see it as such.

Same with criticism. Some simply see any criticism as an attack on themselves, rather then seeing in as an attack on the argument that is being criticised. And that has something to do with having been raised with questionable moral advice.

Advice like: "If you don't have something nice to say, say nothing at all."


Good advice:
"If you have something to say, say it, and back it up with arguments."
"Don't be afraid to be wrong. If you are wrong, admit defeat and question your arguments."
"You don't have to be right all the time."
"Before taking advice, see where the advise is coming from!"

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

So this is taking the Omni Deck to the next level?

Joshua Jay has released the phantom deck. Basically clear cards that assembled will make up a whole deck. So I read the newletter, I followed the link. And then I saw the trailer.

Here is the ad text (part of it)

"So, what is the Phantom Deck? It's an Omni Deck, but every SINGLE CARD is completely clear. Imagine ending your favorite card routine by turning the entire deck CLEAR!"

A milky mess that isn't clear at all.

The beauty of the Andrus' trick is that the you have a clear block. Making a switch even harder to imagine. Ironically the block made the work much easier. Not having loose cards in your pocket.

So now we got this. Loose cards that when put together look like mist that has been caught.

Not recommended.

Next Level? Nope! Different Level? Yeah!

Friday, May 3, 2013

The bad seed within the good!

There is a build in flaw in the construction of a certain magic trick.

Here you see magician Steven Bridges doing "Detach" by Rick Lax. (He does it well btw)

The problem is shown in the comment section of the video:

Jahhshhdhdhdj wrote: "Not an illusion. Simply a gimmick piece concealed by the hands"
sam smolyar wrote: "fake"
kostasdeath1 wrote: "lol After Effects ? :D"

And Steven Bridges defends his point by answering to those comments.

The more you read into the comments the more questions are raised. One actually claims that this could not be done live. Another one demands the method to be exposed.

So here is the problem. The trick itself might be a cool, impromptu little thing. But the mere thought of an extra piece would destroy the illusion. And you cannot really fight the thought. Sure you can have them select a balloon in the beginning. You could have them sign the opening and the balloon itself. But suddenly we are venturing into a realm of necessary overkill in order to accomplish this illusion.

That makes it a bad trick. The same way the linking rings is a bad trick. The thought of "oh probably a gap" would explain ALL. That is why handing out the linked rings is so important.

With this you cannot hand out the balloon in it's magically altered state. And that is the downfall of the trick.

So to be a little more constructive here is the following:

1. Is the prop you are using free of the suspicion of duplicates? (like any borrowed object)
2. Can the altered state be handed out for examination?
3. Is there no "simple" explanation possible?

If just one of these points is true you have something to work with. If two of the points are true you have a gem. And if all of the points are true you have a freaking miracle.