I’m sure you’ve seen those “Magic Secrets Revealed” shows where they show the audience how to do some stage illusion out there, and I suppose you’ve always wondered if that means that everyone will know how your tricks are done and no one will be amazed, etc. Well I’m here to dispel that whole myth.
Archive for the 'Thoughts' Category
I can’t recall the first trick or magician I had seen, but I do have vague memories of being a volunteer for a magic show performed by…the Burger King. Yup, the Burger King. I must have been about 11 or so and I had to pop balloons with my pointed fingers (in the shape of a gun), and then a dove appeared. Ooo.
For those of you not in the know, I went to college for film production. I wanted to make movies, but while in the Hollywood environment, and while I started to (re)learn magic, I discovered what I really wanted to do was entertain people. But that’s not the purpose of this post, I wanted to note that I really love movies so there’s a point of reference. The thing is, lately I’ve found a certain level of dislike which stems from something akin to an inability to work with my willing suspension of disbelief, or something similar to that.
A willing suspension of disbelief is where you go into watching a movie, or reading a book or playing a video game, and you know that what you see isn’t real, but you’re willing to suspend the disbelief and “go with it”. So, bottom line is that I am completely able to do that – I get into Sci-Fi, and Horror, and Fantasy. But lately while watching all this movie magic, I start seeing things that don’t make logical sense and that starts to ruin it for me. Of course, as I type this, no good example comes to mind. But say it’s something like someone goes left, when they have no reason to, and logically it would have made more sense to go right. To me, it shows a lack of attention from the writers and/or director.
Anyway, sometimes I might be really picky (Oh, what about when people from foreign countries speak to each other in English with horrible accents – can’t they just speak their native tongue?), but it seems that all these little logical “errors” slowly erode my like for any particular movie. But the truth of the matter is that the less problems a movie (or TV show, or whatever) has, the more it is likable. At least if you notice all these “errors”.
But how does this relate to magic, you might ask? Well I’ve been trying to be active in seeking out new tricks to learn and I realized that logical progression of a trick is something that makes me like or dislike it. It relates to those extra kicker endings that I complained about in a previous post. I remember reading a magician ask essentially “why do we go through the deck to find the Aces [not in a magical manner], then go through the process of losing them again, only to find them in a magical way”. What’s the point of “finding” them to begin with? It makes no sense. I saw a trick the other day where a guy showed a trick with 4 aces and 4 kings, and displayed the cards I think 3 times before going into the trick (the aces and kings were each of one suit, which I thought degraded the effect slightly, but that’s another issue), essentially over-proving, which is illogical in a performance.
I also like it when a trick, performed with sleights, mimics what might happen if a “normal” person were handling the cards, and things were to actually happen magically (for real, yo). If a move doesn’t seem natural (or, logical) to me, then either I have to find a way to make it become natural, or find a different way to do it, or just chuck the whole thing. Admittedly, I will learn a trick if I find that it progresses smoothly and logically, and uses an interesting move. But only if it “makes sense”.
So overall, I find I like less and less movies (but then, with the Hollywood drivel, it’s understandable), and I’m more and more picky about the magic I like.
I like 2 kinds of card decks: Bicycle and Aviator. Occasionally, I might use a Hoyle deck. Everything else looks odd to me. Now, I’ll work with a borrowed deck that isn’t these brands, but these brands are common and no one ever suspects there’s anything wrong with them should I choose to use a gaffed card (rare). More often than not, gaffs are made using Bicycle cards (if it’s a quality trick, otherwise, it’s some generic deck). Actually, nobody ever suspects the deck when I don’t use gaffed cards, either.
Anyway, when searching the web for tricks, you may have seen a strange looking black deck with a tiger on it sold by a popular online magic site. I don’t know about you, but the deck just screams “there’s something wrong with me”. If you really think spectators look at the deck, and see you see something that seems impossible, don’t suspect the deck, you’re way off the mark. Maybe I just don’t understand the purpose of using cards like that (can someone enlighten me), but I’m in this business to show that I can create amazing bits of magic and not here so I can show off a really cool deck of cards that has special magical properties.
On the flip side, when I was younger I sold Svengali decks to kids and adults all day long, and they were some generic deck, which was even bridge size! (Real magic dudes use poker size decks, because they’re man sized – bridge is for the ladies). No one ever claimed the wouldn’t buy a deck because it didn’t match their Bicycle deck at home. No, I’m not going to tell you what a Svengali deck is or how it works…
So if you can shed some light on this as either a performer or a lay person, please do so, I’d love to hear from you.
I was out with a singles group through meetup.com recently and a guy I was talking to asked me if it was my first meetup, and I said no, but it was my first with that group and that I ran my own group. He asked what group, and I told him the boardgame group and his response was something akin to recognition (“Oh, right”). Now, I know I have the only real & successful boardgame group in the area, but he doesn’t belong to it, and I doubt he was truly familiar with it (because the name of the group isn’t boardgames). But I found it interested that he seems to feign recognition, probably to help with our male bonding or something.
A few nights ago, I was out with some friends and one of them was describing some place she used to go to to another friend who apparently lived close to there. Anyway, the description got to a point where the friend receiving the description agreed she knew where something being described was. Yet, I don’t think she did know. But I believe that in doing so, she “moved the story along”. Otherwise, there would have been this continued “you know where that X is, you know, behind X shop” [on a side note, if you lived in Rhode Island, you tend to give directions based on where something used to be].
Anyway, just found it interesting how people simple want to admit being in the know on something, even if their not. I’ll have to pay attention the next time someone asks me something similar and I don’t really know what they’re talking about.
I started this blog about 6 months ago with an intent to post regularly, but time got short and I found other things to do. But with recent circumstances I’ve found that I need to write my thoughts down in a central location.
My younger cat, Ollie is close to dying. He has cancer is the current theory. Basically he’s losing weight and is becoming weaker. It’s likely he won’t last the week. It’s a very sad thing to see him whither away like that.
But death makes you think of life. Where you are and where you want to be. And as I don’t believe in an afterlife, it also has now made me think about the mark I’m leaving on the world
And that’s where the writing comes in. I want to tell my story. Maybe not all of it, but the parts that need remembering. And in that mix, I want to talk about magic.
And to show my commitment, I did this first “re-entry” back into the blog.
Thanks Ollie for being a cat whose only thought was to give love, I will miss you. This post is for you.
The other night, I went out to the Waterfires in Providence (Rhode Island). My brother was visiting from CA, and I was meeting some friends. Anyway, as we were standing around, this guy came up and asked us if we wanted to see a magic trick, it was “kind of like practice” was the claim.
Of course, I say “sure” and he asks if I’d like to help. What reason would I have to deny the magician a volunteer. So he did a basic card switch (swapped the card in my hand with the card in his). Someone mentioned I was a magician, and he asked if I would do a trick so I did Daley’s Last trick, but flubbed the beginning. It turned out OK, i just hate when I do that. From there, the “pro” did another trick which was actually very interesting (gaffed cards and he repeated the “effect” a couple more times than he should have, but it still was a nifty idea).
So whenever someone shows me a trick, I do tend to look at how they present it, how they do or hide their moves, sometimes even what they say (although I tend to watch more than listen, as it’s not important what a magician says). And I always tend to see if they’re performance is better or worse than mine. Now, admittedly, I’m good. When I practice, anyway. But it’s not just because I do the moves well or something, it’s because I try to understand how a move looks. If it looks too “magicky” (that’s not a real word, FYI), then I try to “dumb it down”. Unfortunately, most other magicians don’t. They look at a move as a move.
So after someone has done a trick in front of me, I do sometimes get the question “was he good, can you do better”, etc. In most cases, it’s yes. But to a normal spectator’s view, the trick may look very much the same (assuming they didn’t see both me and the other person perform the exact same trick). But, I’d like to think, that had someone watched me without prior knowledge of another magician doing the same trick, my performance seems a bit more impossible, but that feeling would be un-explainable as to why it exists.
For me, it’s not just practicing a trick, but understanding how it fits together, understanding what people see, and understanding what they’re expected to see. Without those 3 elements, then you’re just learning a trick.
EDIT: I remember he also did another “classic” called the Ambitious Card where the card continually jumps from the middle of the deck to the top. Interestingly, he did the 1st version of this routine I was taught. I’ve tried to manipulate and tweak the version I use, but I don’t always use it because I do find it gets repetitive. One good purpose of the routine is to give away the signed card to the spectator, who will then always remember you from that card (and, yes, the magician gave his business card to one of the guys there who had kids, because he does shows professionally for money).
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Just a quick not to say that I have now leveled off at 204 pounds, so four more to hit my initial target. Actually, 4.1 more pounds, because my initial target is to get below 200 pounds. I think if I can hit that milestone, it will help me feel a little better about myself, and push me in the right direction to get on that excersise bike. I know, it’s counter-intuitive, but it’s me. A box full of contradictions.
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I’m 205.2 pounds (plus or minus .2). There, I said it. And to keep it in perspective, I’m 5’8″-ish. I won’t tell you how off that is from where I likely should be, you can do the math. Overall, it’s really not terrible, but I want to lose about 20 pounds. Not all in a week, or anything, but in a few months. My initial goal is just to get below 200, which I haven’t been in several years.
At the end of some tricks, there is something called a “Kicker” ended. Essentially what that means is that the trick has a basic ending (magician finds the card in some amazing way), but then the “kicker” is that the car has a different color back than the rest of the deck. The problem is that sometimes, either the kicker completely overshadows the basic ending (which is great in its own right), or the kicker is timed poorly and doesn’t get noticed after doing the basic ending, when some people think the trick is done.
As another thing I do when choosing tricks I like and want to perform, I tend to stay away from “kicker” endings, unless it actually makes sense in the trick, and even then, it’s not necessarily an extra part of the trick, but is integrated as part of the trick and so flows much better. Maybe I just like tricks that have a decent flow to them. As of this writing, I don’t have any specific examples, but check out some of the videos I’ve posted to see how well the flow works for me.
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