Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

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Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Suresh » December 19th, 2014, 10:39 am

In ads for Tom Stone's products, I came across the following quote attributed to Tommy Wonder:

"Tom is one of the most creative magicians here in Europe. His work is always stimulating and worthy of attention." -Tommy Wonder


Question: When, where and in what context did Tommy Wonder say the above?

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Brad Henderson » December 19th, 2014, 11:25 am

I'm glad I read the post and not just the thread title - I thought maybe we were going to have a magic sex tape leak!

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Tom Stone » December 19th, 2014, 1:47 pm

Suresh wrote:Question: When, where and in what context did Tommy Wonder say the above?

On Bruce Barnett's Electronic Grymoire in 2002 (or 2003). He was talking about the release of my ebook "Tracking Mr. Fogg".

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby erdnasephile » December 20th, 2014, 12:05 am

It's a wonderful compliment and well deserved!

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 20th, 2014, 10:21 am

Why was the question asked in the first place?
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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Suresh » December 20th, 2014, 10:52 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:Why was the question asked in the first place?


Tommy Wonder is my favorite magician; I have read his books and he is valued by me. I purchased two of Tom Stone's products just because of that endorsement -- and found value in Tom Stone's teaching of misdirection in his Penguin Live lecture. The reason I asked the question here was for wanting to read Tommy Wonder's full statement; I have requested permission from Bruce Barnett to access the archives of his Electronic Grymoire.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 20th, 2014, 12:15 pm

Why do you want to read Tommy's "full statement"?
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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Brad Henderson » December 20th, 2014, 3:26 pm

Tommy had some great posts on the EG. I found his post on thread work especially (no pun intended) enlightening.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Suresh » December 20th, 2014, 4:22 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:Why do you want to read Tommy's "full statement"?


My interest is in Tommy Wonder. At one extreme, I might find that Tommy Wonder did not say much more than the quote; at the other extreme, I might find an essay from Tommy Wonder on creativity in general, and, in particular, in magic, examples of creativity and pseudo-creativity from across the ages, specific examples of Tom Stone's work that exemplify Tommy Wonder's view of creativity etc. Who knows what I will find? But my opinion of Tommy Wonder is that he is not a superficial person and that any estimate he provided would be backed up with some interesting arguments.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 20th, 2014, 4:38 pm

There was nothing superficial about Tommy or any of his work. He went deeper than most.
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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Joe Mckay » December 20th, 2014, 5:06 pm

I am a big fan of Tommy Wonder.

But I always felt his goal in magic was quite shallow.

What was he trying to communicate with his magic?

It ultimately seemed to be nothing more than pretty magic tricks that created a feeling of wonder. Along with some silly plots to help justify the tricks (like his Wild Card routine based around collecting cards at a particular time of day - or something dumb like that?).

Or his dumb way of getting into an impromptu performing situation - which consisted of waiting to be asked to light a cigarette - and then turning your empty lighter into a matchbox, before pulling out a rope to go into other magic tricks.

I always felt it was a shame that such a great thinker never delved deeper into how to use magic to help communicate a bigger idea.

Which is something that Derren Brown, Ricky Jay and P&T have managed to do.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 20th, 2014, 6:15 pm

This should make for a lively discussion!
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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Tom Stone » December 20th, 2014, 6:56 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:I am a big fan of Tommy Wonder.

But I always felt his goal in magic was quite shallow.

Joe, you are an idiot!
For some reason, you don't want magic to be an art in itself, but rather to be subordinate some other art.
Well, it isn't.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Brad Henderson » December 20th, 2014, 6:57 pm

making someone feel is the essence of a magical performance. not worthy of easy dismissal. It seems a basic step, but one few magicians manage.

feeling beauty and wonder is no less valuable than any other feeling.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Leonard Hevia » December 20th, 2014, 7:16 pm

Waiting for the right moment to spring an effect is not a dumb or a bad thing. Malini showed us that setting up your magic and waiting for the right moment can make it appear uncontrived and miraculous. Obviously, this doesn't apply to all of your magic effects, it's something you keep in reserve for...the right moment.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Joe Mckay » December 20th, 2014, 9:07 pm

Making somebody experience wonder or magic is fine.

I have no problem with that.

I just expect a bit more from an "artist" who thought so deeply about magic.

Since aiming to fool somebody - without anything else at stake - isn't much more evolved than what most other magicians do.

Personally - I don't look at magic as an art. So I don't choose to present it as such.

But I expect better from those who do choose to try and push magic down the road marked 'Art'.

And what was the idea that was being sold in most of Tommy Wonder's magic? Nothing - but some inane patter to help justify whatever trick he was performing.

The true greats - like the ones mentioned above - achieved something better than that.

I am a little disappointed he didn't aim higher.

And I speak as a fan of his creativity.

tl;dr - the average layperson would struggle to tell Tommy Wonder apart from the average magician.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Richard Kaufman » December 20th, 2014, 11:38 pm

Joe, everyone is entitled to their opinion. Yours just doesn't much sense to me.

I would say that generally, magic is not an art. But great magicians are artists. Tommy was an artist. I think most people who saw him perform live feel that way.

Did you see him work live, or are you basing your opinion solely on watching videos of him?
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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Suresh » December 21st, 2014, 12:36 am

As an aside: I found out about Tommy Wonder only after he had died (and so have never seen his live performances). However, I can watch videos of his routines again and again and again ... and continue to enjoy his ability. As one example: when I first came across him, one of the videos I saw was his cups and balls on YouTube. After seeing it once, I told myself to keep watching the load on the table to see how he gets it into the cup -- but for the second to the fifth viewing, I could not maintain my intent to watch the load and kept finding myself watching whatever it was that he wanted the audience to watch. It was only in the sixth viewing that I managed to get a very brief glimpse of the movement of the load, but the majority of my attention was still where he wanted it to be.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Brad Henderson » December 21st, 2014, 12:42 am

Joe, your posts in the other thread revealed you know almost nothing about art, artists or the theories of art. For example You condemned the artist Duchamp (though not by name) for making the case you yourself were making with a piece held up by you as the opposite of what it was. So may I suggest you learn a little more about the thing you say doesn't exist before commenting on it as if you had the least bit of a foundation on which to do so.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Q. Kumber » December 21st, 2014, 4:47 am

Tommy Wonder's plots were the hooks that engaged his audiences. Once engaged in a story, the audience is more interested in the unfolding drama than they are in focusing on method.

The first step in misdirection - engage the audience. A good opening line is one way to do that. Once engaged, it is much easier to control the focus of their attention.

Much comment has been made about the L&L audiences and yes, frequently they are hyped up. However watch the Wonder DVD set and you will see multiple audience reactions that stem from genuine magical astonishment.

While we are on the subject of creative Dutch and Swedish magicians, perhaps someone can tell us what Fred Kaps communicated about himself and his world view?

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Joe Mckay » December 21st, 2014, 11:33 am

It could be a European thing.

Since in America and the UK - making pure wonder the goal of your magic is something that has being out of style since Doug Henning. It has become lazy and cliched to make that the worldview you are trying to communicate.

As magicians - we may appreciate that goal. But the public switches off to it. It is like a comedian coming on stage and starting their set with 'Mother-in-law' gags.

Maybe we are just too cynical in our culture? But nevertheless it is a cynicism which needs to be addressed in some way and cannot be ignored.

If you want to be truly relevant, that is.

I love magic in all its forms. But in terms of connecting with the public (and not just other magicians) - I feel you have to make a decision as to whether or not you are going to challenge the public's preconceived ideas of magic. Or just pander to them.

But hey - I'm an idiot. So - this is just my dumb opinion. Not trying to upset anyone.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Brad Henderson » December 21st, 2014, 11:54 am

conveying wonder has never gone out of style. how many links do you get in Facebook of posts attempting to do just that?

the problem isn't the message intended, it's the message conveyed. Magicians say wonder astonishment blah blah blah and then do a wonky trick that accomplishes little more than puzzle, delivered in a style that fails to engage.

don't blame wonder or Wonder. Blame those who promise and fail to deliver.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Joe Mckay » December 21st, 2014, 12:20 pm

I don't think modern audiences truly feel wonder anymore.

Unless you can bring their dead grandma back to life - any magic trick is never going to be as amazing as the wonders of modern technology. And even those

This is why doing magic with an iPhone is always a bad idea. Since the tool for the trick is inherently more amazing than the trick itself.

So much of magic is rooted in the ideas and thinking of the past. That over time we lose sight of the fact that our audiences have moved on.

Magic reminds me a little of painting - at the moment that photography started to be adopted by the masses. Indeed - this was one of the reasons why art developed into Modern Art - as artists wondered what else could be done with painting than simply offer an accurate representation of reality. Since that this could be done easier and better with mere photography.

For a start - as soon as any card trick takes place in the magician's hands. You implicitly know that sleight of hand or gimmicks will be responsible for the trick. And the problem with doing magic purely in the spectator's hands is that you are reduced to rubbish tricks that revolved around mathematical principles.

Most people watching a magic trick are not interested in wonder. They are interested in figuring it out. And this applies to the greatest magicians in history as well. Unless they are too busy laughing - as is the case with a brilliant performer like David Williamson.

So - I feel magicians are misguided if trying to get the audience to experience wonder is enough. Since - it is cliched, most spectators are too busy trying to figure out the trick to engage in such games - and even then it is a minor goal in any case. Since the wonder of magic has long ago being eclipsed by the modern technology.

Making balls jump from cup to cup may have played well before we had cinema and TV. But in this day and age of computer ages and 3D television, it is no longer enough to truly amaze somebody.

For me - this is the real reason why a thoughtful magician should try and figure out a way to offer something more than just 'magic'. Since magic alone is no longer enough.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Gordon Meyer » December 21st, 2014, 1:10 pm

Joe, you sound like you'd be interested in Robert E. Neale's book, "The Sense of Wonder," which was recently published by The Theory & Art of Magic Press. Just a head's up in case you're not aware of it. About 400 pages exploring this very topic.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Aaron Sterling » December 21st, 2014, 1:54 pm

Welp, this thread got me to stop lurking and make an account.

What Tommy Wonder gave the audience -- something that many performers do not -- was a reaffirmation of their own power and capability. For example, recall his words at the end of the ACR to ringbox routing: "What I don't understand is how you managed to get into the box, your card." He was revealing the magic, participating in the magic, but the audience was responsible for the magic. A metaphor he used in his book was that he was slapping the water at the edge of a bathtub, and if he timed the slaps correctly, the waves in the tub would grow larger and larger. The performer does the slapping, but the water (the audience) is the medium for the waves, which have the real power.

Also, it is utterly false that modern audiences lack a sense of wonder. For example, consider the performances of Rob Zabrecky. Superficially, his style is completely different from that of Tommy Wonder. But both performers share a common theme: a profound interest in the audience. They both convey that the performer finds *you* even more interesting than you find the performer. And it leaves people with the awareness: "I am interesting, I am special, and things that look impossible can sometimes be done after all."

That's something that modern audiences *crave* to feel. But only performers who genuinely care about the people in the audience can provide it.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Fredrick » December 21st, 2014, 2:03 pm

Gordon Meyer wrote:Joe, you sound like you'd be interested in Robert E. Neale's book, "The Sense of Wonder," which was recently published by The Theory & Art of Magic Press. Just a head's up in case you're not aware of it. About 400 pages exploring this very topic.


Excellent recommendation. However based on comments on the forum, i would say he is more of a Nihilist than Nealist.
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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Joe Mckay » December 21st, 2014, 2:13 pm

Do people really come out of a magic show inspired by the idea that 'the impossible can be done', and this might help them with the challenges in their own life?

That is wishful thinking.

"Don't worry, Grandma. You can beat your cancer. I once saw David Copperfield make the Statue of Liberty disappear."

"Camera tricks? Shut up, Grandma. Just believe in the power of magic..."

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Aaron Sterling » December 21st, 2014, 2:20 pm

There's a big difference between things that are impossible, and things that feel impossible. Finally cleaning the attic you've been avoiding for months, getting serious about applying for a better job, things like that. It's a bit like the butterflies you get when you're in a new relationship: "This person really likes me. I must be super neat!"

If you have to go directly to Grandma's cancer, you have a weak argument.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Joe Mckay » December 21st, 2014, 2:23 pm

So - magic is aiming for the same goals as a 'self-help motivational speaker'?

I am not trying to be snarky - I am just trying to get a picture on how magic can be used to inspire somebody or provide meaning to their lives?

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Aaron Sterling » December 21st, 2014, 2:38 pm

This will be my last post on the thread, as I am new here, and I think I am talking too much, but I did want to answer your question.

Your question attempts to place me/magic in a reductionistic box, and I think it reveals why you are thinking about this incorrectly. Motivational speaking is almost always structured to move people to accomplish specific material objectives, such as improving quarterly sales numbers. The bodies that fund motivational speakers are looking for concrete improvements to the bottom line, and motivational speakers focus their presentations to help achieve those improvements.

People who attend artistic performances expect, and receive, something more general, whether in music, stage, movies, or variety arts. A sense of transcendence, of "there's more out there than just me," of spectacle -- or, in the context of this thread, "there's more out there than just me, and I am more than I previously realized."

I see no reason to consider that experience as less important, or less magical, than the experience of, "That guy's really smart, and he can do things I could never do."

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Joe Mckay » December 21st, 2014, 2:41 pm

That is a reasonable response.

And I thank you for it.

Also - feel free to jump in and post as much as you want.

You are a smart guy.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Tom Stone » December 21st, 2014, 2:53 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:So - magic is aiming for the same goals as a 'self-help motivational speaker'?

I am not trying to be snarky - I am just trying to get a picture on how magic can be used to inspire somebody or provide meaning to their lives?

None of your arguments make any sense, Joe.
You are comparing things from one field using criterias taken from other unrelated fields, and you do it only in one direction - causing you to find only one side lacking, when such a comparison really would make both sides seem inadequate. If a trick is a bad theatre play (or painting, song, sculpture...), then the theatre play is a bad magic trick to an equal degree.

If you were served the finest Beluga caviar, you would go "This is not a good vehicle, even a bicycle is more servicable transportation than this caviar." Don't you see how silly these cross-genre comparisons are?

If you want great theater and drama, then you should turn to the field of theatre. And once there, you should judge the theatre on the merits of theatre and not watch a great play and then be disappointed because "This play was a crap trick, there's beginners at the magic club that performs tricks with far more depth and skill."

And to answer your question.
Open any page in The Books of Wonder and glance at it for a few seconds. Do you then really want to argue that magic didn't inspire Tommy and gave meaning to his life?

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Joe Mckay » December 21st, 2014, 3:09 pm

Is wonder and surprise enough?

I bet if the magician offered to explain how the tricks worked at the end of a show - most of the audience would happily agree to listen.

We offer wonder and magic. But to the audience - they still mostly see magic as a puzzle to be solved.

And the only way to switch that part of their brain off is to offer them something more than just magic. As can be seen in the likes of Derren Brown, P&T, Ricky Jay and David Williamson.

That is my take on things - and why I feel the use of ideas outside of magic is a valid suggestion (and not simply me confusing two different fields), since it helps lead the audience away from their desire to see a trick as a puzzle to be solved.

Tommy Wonder knew this as well. And in my opinion - the choices he made were quite shallow in terms of trying to offer an audience a truly satisfying experience.

Too often he took the boring route of assuming that patter that justifies your actions is the same as engaging your audience on a level beyond simply watching a trick.

It is like the difference between poetry and doggerel.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Brad Henderson » December 21st, 2014, 3:37 pm

Joe, when you perform magic what feelings to you intend to elicit from your audiences?

I can't speak for you, but I just spent two hours performing today and presented an impromptu show as a guest at a party last night. Everyone had iphones. they had them out all night.

When people open an app and use it to call a cab, as amazing as that is if you think about it, at no time was anyone moved emotionally from that experience.

Yet when one opens one's hand, and the audience sees that the coin the KNEW was there is gone, they scream. Their eye widen. They gold their breath. Some jump up and down and scream, "no way, no way."

They do not scream when they uber.

I think your problem is two fold, Joe. First, you lack accurate understanding of art, art history, and its ideals. You use pieces and artists as examples of things you dislike, yet these pieces and artists were intended to support the arguments you make. You claim that modern art resulted because of photography, but abstract art was being explored before photography was anything more than a novelty, and photography ended up dealing with the same issues of limitations of representation which you claim suggest affected painting. In short, your knowledge of art is leading you to draw conclusions about what it is, what it does, and how it works that simple are baseless.

Second, and I think this is the big issue, is it seems you are someone who refuses to participate in the artistic experience and assume everyone acts the same as you.

I assure you, many if not most people who have experienced a successful magic performance would prefer NOT to know how the tricks are done - assuming the magician has given them something more to value than just "how did it work."

You could go to a production of Les Mis and spend all of your time studying the set, contemplating how the turn table stage works, and examining the acting a vocal techniques used by the performers. You might leave impressed, but not moved.

However millions of people have sat in that same room and been captivated, moved to tears. And the feelings they feel are just as real, just as deep, in spite of (and perhaps may be more deep BECAUSE of) the fact that these feelings are the product of an illusion.

You are confusing, Joe, the means with the ends.

If you are not willing to ride the ride, you cannot expect to experience the thrills.

I assure you, people crave riding the ride - more and more as technology becomes greater and greater. Humans thrive on the feeling that there is more to the world than its nuts and bolts. It is the essence of religion, mythology, patriotism, and love.

Technology gives us interesting things - but these are not transcendent. I don't know how my microwave works, and when it doesn't I am fooled. But this fails to fulfill.

The feeling one feels when something they know to be completely impossible occurs undeniably in their presence - that is foundation magic. Technology and puzzles have explanations. Mysteries do not.

Now, many magicians may fail to convince people that they experienced something, let alone something impossible - but many magicians can.

And that FEELING that creeps up on someone when it does happen - there is no greater rush.

When we as a magician give that rush a positive context and not a negative demeaning one, they will chose to protect that experience. YOUR audiences may seem magic only as puzzles. That's the fault of the magicians they have seen not with magic itself.

You are not interested in participating. You have closed your mind to anything more. It is not surprising then that you cannot see anything more. It is not surprising your audiences cannot either. You cannot give something you do not have. If you don't believe, they audience never will either.

But watch a real magician work sometime. Don't watch his or her hands. Watch the eyes of those who are in their midst. When that hand opens, and that coin is gone, you will see wonder.

Part of the art is maintaining that sense, shading it so it can be experienced as other emotions, giving it context so it has relevance. A bigger part is getting the audience to the position where they are willing and ready to have that experience.

But to say people don't crave wonder - - - -you have no idea what you are talking about

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Brad Jeffers » December 21st, 2014, 4:09 pm

Image

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Tom Stone » December 21st, 2014, 4:12 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:We offer wonder and magic. But to the audience - they still mostly see magic as a puzzle to be solved.

Who cares how the audience views it?
They are not participating in the creation of the pieces.

It seems your viewpoint is that magic is intended to be some kind of ingratiating, sycophantic and servile activity, akin to the "services" offered by a hooker. Well, that's not what it is about. That kind of fast-food view on the arts is quite insulting.

I do not offer wonder. Or poetry, doggerel, meaning, transcendence, motivation, inspiration, belief or anything else than my work... and my work is allowed speak for itself without being hidden away. Yes, sometimes some people find "meaning" and other things in it, but that's a side effect. Yes, thankfully, most see magic as a puzzle to be solved, rather than an alternative reality (try to do mental effects for hardcore New Age believers who think mindreading is real - it is the most unrewarding experience ever).

My goal is not to present a show that the audience would want to see - why on earth would I want to set my goals that low? My goal is to present a show that I would want to see... and hopefully I will reach that goal some time in the future.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Aaron Sterling » December 21st, 2014, 4:13 pm

I know I said I was done with the thread, but I just put two and two together, so I'm back for one moment.

Tom Stone, if you're still reading, I mentioned Rob Zabrecky in an earlier post. Some of his best material is his handling of stuff in Maelstrom. So it's a pleasure to "meet" you.

Now I'm really done typing.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby Tom Stone » December 21st, 2014, 4:26 pm

Aaron Sterling wrote:Tom Stone, if you're still reading, I mentioned Rob Zabrecky in an earlier post. Some of his best material is his handling of stuff in Maelstrom. So it's a pleasure to "meet" you.

Yes, I was present at the lunch at the Magic Castle in 2012, when Jon Armstrong turned to Rob Zabrecky and said "Rob, there are a couple of Tom's pieces that would really suit you!" Quite happy to see how well it works for him! The piece itself was inspired by a relationship I had with a woman who turned out to have borderline personality disorder.

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Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby GlennWest » December 21st, 2014, 6:04 pm

I continue to marvel at Joe's ability to plunge Tom Stone and Brad Henderson into existential crisis mode.

Spectacular, Joe!

And I'm with you with regard to Tommy Wonder's presentations - they are childish at best.

JHostler
Posts: 433
Joined: September 27th, 2008, 8:34 pm

Re: Tommy Wonder on Tom Stone

Postby JHostler » December 21st, 2014, 6:22 pm

Tom Stone wrote:
Joe Mckay wrote:We offer wonder and magic. But to the audience - they still mostly see magic as a puzzle to be solved.

Who cares how the audience views it?
They are not participating in the creation of the pieces.


Well, that might be true if there was no audience - in which case you'd be performing entirely for yourself. Otherwise, it is precisely their perceptions and feelings that make the magic. A complete disregard for the audience's "view" is absurd. Of course, you already know that.


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