Magic in BoingBoing

Discussions of new films, books, television shows, and media indirectly related to magic and magicians. For example, there may be a book on mnemonics or theatrical technique we should know or at least know about.
P.T.Widdle
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Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » June 20th, 2015, 8:38 pm

I would like to take a moment to praise (and thank) Mark Frauenfelder and BoingBoing for all the cool magic tricks posts on that venerable and popular web site.

http://boingboing.net/tag/magic-tricks

Frauenfelder's interest in magic is not new, but it seems like he is posting pretty regularly now (almost weekly?) about little magic tricks that he's discovered (including this week's Imp Bottle). Other recent notable posts include "How I Store and Organize My Magic Tricks," and the David Ben Cups and Balls timeline.

If I'm not mistaken, I believe Frauenfelder's posts constitute the most regular and widest exposure of magic on the internet at this time, and what a wonderful thing that is. Speaking of exposure (the magic kind), I wrote an earlier post here about my uncomfortableness of a magic exposure post in BoingBoing, but I have changed my tune on that. In the context of all his posts about magic, especially the recent ones, that one was nothing.

Maybe these posts don't add up to much as far as turning people on to magic, but I'd like to think some of them actually are, and maybe also re-awakening the interest in others (dads for example).

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Bill Mullins » June 20th, 2015, 9:34 pm

Mostly, Mark Frauenfelder and his co-bloggers come across as enthusiastic about magic, and wanting to share that enthusiasm with readers. But he has occasionally gone farther than that into the bad kind of "exposure", such as when he revealed the method to Steinmeyer's Nine Card Problem. That was a little gratuitous, I think.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Gordon Meyer » June 22nd, 2015, 10:14 am

I recognize that Mark is a fellow enthusiast, but I find much of his exposure to be gratuitous. For example he recently wrote about a new deck design that he really liked. Then he continued on about the principle of a one-way deck and linked to YouTube videos about it. Granted the videos already existed, but in this case there was no need to make the association for people who had no interest in card magic or in seeking the information out for themselves.


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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 22nd, 2015, 10:22 am

P.T.Widdle wrote:I would like to take a moment to praise (and thank) Mark Frauenfelder and BoingBoing for all the cool magic tricks posts on that venerable and popular web site.
...


How was his reply to your thoughtful note?
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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » June 22nd, 2015, 4:16 pm

Gordon, I take another viewpoint on the one-way deck post. I think it's perfectly reasonable to mention that the deck is one-way, and then to assume that most, if not all, of his audience has no idea what that means, but they would be interested, so link to what is essentially an introductory video of what a one-way deck is.
It's instructional for those wanting to find out (they have to click a link). That's not gratuitous exposure. Rather, it could be argued, it is beginning instruction. Maybe he could have linked to a book about one-way decks without tipping it, but then the viewer would not see the additional value in the deck. Chances are, if they do buy the deck based on the post, they will seek out other tricks using one-way decks.

I've seen demonstrators in magic shops spill about one-way decks for customers before they bought.

Again, at first I also had a knee-jerk reaction to exposure on BoingBoing, but I realized he is providing a nice mix of material for people new to magic and those possibly re-discovering it.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Jonathan Townsend » June 22nd, 2015, 9:56 pm

what's with the need to expose or discuss method when describing clever or fun?

anyone trying a pretend magnet openly put under the table with a metal imp bottle?
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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » June 22nd, 2015, 10:10 pm

Jonathan Townsend wrote:what's with the need to expose or discuss method when describing clever or fun?


Most of the time I think you're right; There is no need. However, in this case, you want to convey that this deck has an added "special" something about it that lets you do clever magic tricks not possible with most decks, but that the deck is also not gaffed. I believe Frauenfelder would not tip an Invisible deck, for example. But since one-way decks are really normal decks, I don't see it as a problem. This particular tip will probably entice more people to buy the deck and explore the method to do tricks.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Bill Mullins » June 22nd, 2015, 11:55 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote: I believe Frauenfelder would not tip an Invisible deck,


I wouldn't be so sure. He "curates" an subscription surprise box service (kinda like Real Secrets) where he makes a selection of things he finds interesting, and sends them to people who've signed up.

One of them included an Invisible Deck, and it was sent to people who hadn't shown any particular interest for magic.

And he wrote a http://www.trickdecks.org/book where he describes how to make an Invisible Deck, but this seems much closer to "teaching" than "exposure".

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Gordon Meyer » June 23rd, 2015, 6:42 pm

If someone shows an interest in magic, I'm all for leading them to water so they can drink. I disagree that's what he did with the post about one-way decks. I think our differing perspectives are that I believe one should express an interest in magic before being taught, whereas I think your perspective is that by revealing a secret, one can entice people to study magic. My apologies in advance if I've put words in your mouth.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » June 23rd, 2015, 8:39 pm

No, I don't think revealing secrets is the way to entice people to study magic. I see that with the after school magic class I teach to kids. However, sometimes you have to throw them a bone, so to speak. This one-way deck bone is different (and better) than simply revealing a secret to just one trick. You are showing them a simple, easy-to-learn method that can be used for many tricks, thereby encouraging further exploration and gaining confidence. Sort of like the key-card method; it's a tool they suddenly have to discover and/or create tricks. I've seen this with some magic students. They come up with crazy silly routines based on one, easy-to-do versatile principle.
You can demonstrate trick after trick, but at some point, you have to show the student how to do something, and better that something be a method that they can explore and fool around with.

Like I mentioned before, perhaps he could have also linked to a book about one-way tricks (is there one?).

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Bill Mullins » June 23rd, 2015, 9:39 pm

On the other hand, you tell a layman about one-way decks, and you may have given them an explanation (right or wrong) for any card location effect he ever sees from there on.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » June 23rd, 2015, 10:09 pm

That may be true, Bill, but in the context of how the one-way is presented in the BoingBoing post (and among the other magic posts), I think the person who clicks on the link and watches the video is more likely to be a curious budding magician (young or old), than a layman just looking to see how a trick is done, especially since there is no effect shown or described using a one-way deck, even in the video.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Bill Mullins » June 23rd, 2015, 11:28 pm

It could go either way. But since it could go bad, that's why I think it's best to wait until someone expresses an interest of some sort before you start giving them the secrets. If you pass out the secrets indiscriminately, you can be sure that some of those who receive them won't go on to develop as a magician. So is the trade off worth it?

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » June 25th, 2015, 8:11 pm

Well, I'm guessing some people won't be too thrilled with this latest post:

http://boingboing.net/2015/06/25/a-5-ma ... gicia.html

Now, whenever laymen see a close-up trick involving an animated object, and the magician is wearing a ring, they will conclude (right or wrong) that the ring is responsible, right?


For what it's worth, on the same day they also posted this (Moritz Mueller's new YouTube video):

http://boingboing.net/2015/06/25/teenag ... blowi.html

Also on front page HufPost
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/06/2 ... 67308.html

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » July 13th, 2015, 5:58 pm


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WrongWrong?

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 7th, 2015, 8:17 am

Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: WrongWrong?

Postby Bill Mullins » August 7th, 2015, 11:35 am

Jonathan Townsend wrote:http://boingboing.net/2015/08/06/invisible-deck-one-of-the-gr.html

What's with teaching tricks here?


Key line:
"I have written a book about making trick card decks (available soon!)"

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » August 10th, 2015, 11:18 am

There is no exposure in the Invisible Deck post. And what's wrong with promoting a magic book you've written?
BoingBoing is getting people (probably mostly dads) interested in magic - a good thing. My only gripe is that the links to the magic tricks go to Amazon instead of a magic shop.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Bill Mullins » August 10th, 2015, 2:05 pm

P.T.Widdle wrote:There My only gripe is that the links to the magic tricks go to Amazon instead of a magic shop.

The Amazon link goes to Magic Geek, who apparently is a pass-through to Martinka.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby performer » August 11th, 2015, 9:16 am

I am afraid I am terribly old fashioned about this sort of thing. Sure, a beginner in magic has to start somewhere and in years past I never became terribly bothered by exposure provided it was within reasonable limits. However, nowadays with the internet I consider it a curse. There is too much information too freely available and with too little effort expended on the getting of it. Quite frankly it makes me shudder. It cheapens and trivialises magic beyond measure and I find it quite horrific that a layman can see a trick, be astonished by it and in fact so impressed that he types up a description into google (he doesn't even have to know the name of the trick) and the wonder and mystery is deflated. This is very bad for magic.

Orson Welles saw it coming in 1947. He would turn in his grave if he could see what is going on nowadays. This is what he said in the foreword of Magic As a Hobby by Bruce Elliot.
>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


It is entirely possible that this excellent book should never have been published - not like this; anyway, not for general sale.
There are two kinds of magic books, you know. The kind they give away with the box top off a breakfast cereal, and this kind of book, which tells explicitly and with pictures - so the reader can really get the hang of them - valuable secrets of professional magic. In brief, I'm sorry that this one is so very good but I'd be honestly sorrier if it were bad.

At the outset it should be explained that the author of these prefatory sentiments is one of that dwindling and gloomy body of cranks who wish magic could have been kept a mystery. In his view magic's worst enemies are that spreading section in any audience who know how the trick is done. It should be granted that a puzzle solved before it's shown is just about as publicly attractive as an unmade bed. A real magician's task, it seems clear, is to abolish the solution, the possibility of any solution in the minds of those he seeks to amuse.

And this is certain: He'll fail to amuse if he doesn't amaze.
Removing from magic the element of wonder is no less disastrous than music without the element of pitch.

There are some fine entertainers who use magic props in the sole service of comedy, but they are no more magicians than the clown with the breakaway fiddle is a violinist.

In magic's golden age magicians offered laughter as a part of the show but never permitted disenchantment. For a marvellous hour or two they elevated their most adult audiences to the status of delighted children.
This art has fallen into decadence.

Wizards, deposed from the appropriate gilt and glamour of the playhouse, work their wonders these evenings in the frowzy hubbub of the cabaret, competing with bad whiskey for control of their beholders' minds. The children are all home asleep, and of course the children are magic's source and meaning, magic itself being, after all, no more than a formal and serious approach to the important business of playing with toys.

Comic papers and even magazine advertisements assail the young with diagrams and legends laying bare the most cherished secrets of the wizard's trade. A child is so completely informed today or so completely bored with the whole subject that he finds a magic show no more entrancing than a stale joke.
Unless of course, he wants to do the magic himself.

For in this, the least interesting and least secretive of all the ages of magic, the most interesting and most secretive magician is the amateur. This is a fairly new and immensely important development.

Our world is crowded with eager gentlemen busily begging somebody, anybody, "please take a card," and this is only sad because so small a part of the remaing population has any wish to take a card, or indeed, wants ever again to see another card trick.

Yet each year hundreds of "new" tricks fatten the magic catalogues. Subtleties and sleights beyond possible count or practical usefulness are printed monthly. We are told that never before has there been such an interest in magic; but this, I'm afraid, is simply interest in magic by other magicians - and would-be magicians at that. Not that the would-be's aren't often skillful enough to be the real thing. But you don't get to be a magician by joining a magic club or living in a magic store. You can only be a magician by putting on a magic show, you can only put on a magic show by getting an audience to come to see it. The bad news is that the dealers are selling more tricks while the theatres are selling less and less tickets.

Now, I can't persuade myself that wholesale dissemination of magic's backstage lore hasn't contributed heavily to this present plight. The profession - and with it the art of magic - is most surely done for unless secrets like the ones to be found in this book are more carefully kept from the attention of the merely curious. That's where you come in - you, the serious reader. There is enough in these pages to equip a thoughtful student with half a career of real performances. An idle hour or two with this remarkable work, however, will also fully equip mutton-heads and hecklers to spoil much of the best magical entertainments. The purpose of this foreward is to suggest that this should happen just as seldom as you can possibly help.

For I come not to bury magic but rather to point out that a very high respect is due these following effects; that the reader proceeds at magic's risk. If all he wants to know is how the magician does his stuff, let him shop elsewhere. But the reader's intentions are honorable, we're sure; and here, if he pleases - in spite of years of syndicated exposes - are miracles. Let him learn them carefully and perform them to their credit. Well executed they are sure to astonish and delight.

Magic is starving for a new audience. If astonishment and delight won't bring an audience into a playhouse any more, then of course something is rotten in the state of the Union, and it isn't only magic that is doomed.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Marty Jacobs » August 11th, 2015, 10:34 am

Although we should worry about negative exposure, I think these posts are fairly positive and will lead to a greater interest in magic by some of the regular readers of BoingBoing.

The Alexa ranking for BoingBoing is currently 11, 014, 223. Compare this to YouTube, which is at number 3. So, I'd be more worried about the bad exposure videos on YT rather than these articles on BoingBoing, which do, at least, communicate Mark Frauenfelder's genuine passion for magic.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby mr_goat » August 11th, 2015, 10:57 am

Marty Jacobs wrote:Although we should worry about negative exposure, I think these posts are fairly positive and will lead to a greater interest in magic by some of the regular readers of BoingBoing.

The Alexa ranking for BoingBoing is currently 11, 014, 223. Compare this to YouTube, which is at number 3. So, I'd be more worried about the bad exposure videos on YT rather than these articles on BoingBoing, which do, at least, communicate Mark Frauenfelder's genuine passion for magic.


I'm far from surprised BoingBoing's Alexa is so low. Alexa is worked out by people stupid enough to install stupid toolbars on their browsers. Boingboing is generally read by intelligent people who know that installing stupid toolbars is stupid.

And who gives a toss about exposure videos on youtube anyway? My only concern about them is that it is a very bad way for someone to learn an effect. So my issue is with the low quality of the teaching rather than the *shudder* EXPOSURE! Mainly because I think now, after all this time, we can deduce that "exposure" doesn't actually impact anyone in any way.
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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby mr_goat » August 11th, 2015, 10:59 am

P.T.Widdle wrote: My only gripe is that the links to the magic tricks go to Amazon instead of a magic shop.


a) He probably has an affiliate referral fee from amazon
b) Thinking about it, someone that is not a magician is probably more likely to buy from a trusted source like amazon than any of the VERY shady looking magic sites they've not heard of. Imagine if a magic dealer took off with everyone's credit card information...oh...hang on...
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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Marty Jacobs » August 11th, 2015, 11:54 am

Alexa is worked out by people stupid enough to install stupid toolbars on their browsers.


This is true, but it is still one of the most accurate ratings we can easily get of a website's popularity, albeit a very approx. one (like Nielsen TV ratings). My point was that, although a lot of people will read these articles on BoingBoing, in relation to the amount of people stumbling across magic on a site like YT, the impact is minimal.

My only concern about them is that it is a very bad way for someone to learn an effect.


This is my exact concern with them too. You cannot (entirely) blame the people who learn from them, as they don't know any better. This is a wicked problem and there is no single, simple solution to it. But I do think we should be trying to do something about it.

I agree that exposure isn't as damaging as most magicians make it out to be. Most people really aren't that interested in how magic tricks work, and even if they find out how a trick is done, they usually fail to retain the information due to said lack of interest.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby performer » August 11th, 2015, 12:11 pm

What Marty has said in his last paragraph was true in the days of television exposure but I don't think it is true now. I come across laymen all the time, especially children, who know and retain secrets that they shouldn't know about. They even know the names of the tricks.

If they see a trick exposed on television they will forget the secret very quickly. That is because there was no effort expended in getting the secret. However, if someone looks up the secret of a trick because they were so stunned by it (and they DO do this very frequently) it takes them some effort to find out what they want to know. That effort will result in the knowledge being retained and probably imparted to someone else who shouldn't know the secret.

Orson Welles was right. Magic is supposed to be a secret art. Nowadays it is no longer secret. It is just a giant hobby and trivialised beyond redemption.

I won't say the writing is on the wall but it may not be far off.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Marty Jacobs » August 11th, 2015, 12:24 pm

However, if someone looks up the secret of a trick because they were so stunned by it (and they DO do this very frequently) it takes them some effort to find out what they want to know. That effort will result in the knowledge being retained and probably imparted to someone else who shouldn't know the secret.


Yes, if you go to the effort of seeking out the information, then your interest level is automatically higher, so you are more likely to remember the details. Can't argue with that logic.

However, I still think this represents the minority of laymen, they just happen to be the ones that shout the loudest. I also encounter people like this on a regular basis, but I just use gentle peer pressure to make it clear that they're spoiling the magic for everyone else. These people tend to dislike the power dynamic when in the company of another person who is getting a lot of attention. Handled correctly, I find they often become your biggest fan.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby performer » August 11th, 2015, 12:35 pm

They may well become your biggest fan and in fact I have preached for a long time that any heckler can be turned into a fan instead of a foe. I am talking about close up magic here since the stage has different rules. And this is the case whether the heckler knows how the trick is done or not.

However, my point is that he or she shouldn't know how the trick is done in the first place. It does give them an extra tool to heckle with. Even a polite person who knows the secret is not going to appreciate the trick in the same way. You won't get the gasps of wonder and astonishment. I prefer laymen to remain laymen. And magicians to remain magicians. Two distinct categories.

The lines are getting a little blurred nowadays.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » August 11th, 2015, 12:37 pm

This conversation is beginning to take on the assumption that all the magic posts in BoingBoing represent exposure. They don't. The YouTube issue is another question entirely.

And I don't equate the magic posts in BojngBoing to being the same as Wells' cereal box tricks. This website is just off-center, culturally speaking, with a genuine magic enthusiast promoting magic in a cool, respectable way - a great place for some dads to (re)discover magic.

Every magician was once a layman.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Marty Jacobs » August 11th, 2015, 12:48 pm

@P.T. Widdle, that's how I feel too. The BoingBoing articles are not exposure, unlike some of the content on YT. Also, the readers of the blog tend to be alternative/geeky/techy types. The sort of people that are attracted to magic as a hobby.

I don't think the YT issue is separate. The real issue here is how much magicians and laymen value the secrets of magic.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby performer » August 11th, 2015, 5:39 pm

I am obviously not a fan of Adolf Hitler but I think he did one thing right. It is not generally known that he was a fan of conjuring and as a result made it illegal for newspapers in Germany to publish the secrets of magic tricks.

Oddly enough I once knew a magician who performed for Hitler. He told me that Hitler and Goering had come back stage to see him later.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Bill Mullins » August 13th, 2015, 8:07 pm

This Boingboing exposure isn't so benign.

And Mark, as much as I dislike exposure, the idea of a fascist putting you in jail (or worse) for describing a trick in the newspaper is far worse than any than any masked magician or youtube video or blog exposure.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » August 13th, 2015, 8:30 pm

Yep, this post isn't very classy. I would have at least liked to have seen a performance of the trick with a link to how you can make one.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby performer » August 14th, 2015, 12:20 am

Bill Mullins wrote:This Boingboing exposure isn't so benign.

And Mark, as much as I dislike exposure, the idea of a fascist putting you in jail (or worse) for describing a trick in the newspaper is far worse than any than any masked magician or youtube video or blog exposure.


I don't think he put anyone in jail for it. I believe the newspapers were fined. Quite right too. Now I can't say for sure but I vaguely remember that Kalanag had something to do with this and influenced Hitler in this regard.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Marty Jacobs » August 14th, 2015, 5:03 am

Yep, this post isn't very classy. I would have at least liked to have seen a performance of the trick with a link to how you can make one.


Yes, I agree. Looking through all of his posts, he's treading a thin line between sharing his passion for magic and exposure.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 14th, 2015, 1:07 pm

I doubt that in this day and age there are many people in any audience watching a performance of the Dancing Cane who don't realize that there is a thread connecting the performer and the cane!
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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby P.T.Widdle » August 14th, 2015, 1:53 pm

It's true. A Dancing Cane exposure doesn't really rile me, but I imagine some would say it's the principle of the thing.

It's interesting, though, that this up-front exposure comes packaged really as a Maker project first and foremost, intended for that fairly large and enthusiastic crowd.
"Gee, I can make something cool with just a dowel and some string!"

So, maybe not so random.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Gordon Meyer » August 15th, 2015, 3:19 pm

Unless your a magic dealer (or publisher), why is it a goal to attract new people to magic as a hobby? I don't understand this sentiment, outside of the obvious commercial interests. I have no desire to convince or extol the merits of the hobby/pursuit. You're either called to it, or you're not. I don't meant this to sound confrontational, I just find that rationalization very puzzling.

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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 15th, 2015, 4:59 pm

Gordon, I absolutely disagree with you. You are not "called to it" as if it's the priesthood.

People, mostly kids, become interested in magic by being exposed to it in some way.

Someone sends you a trick, book, or magic set as a gift; you see magic on TV; and now the exposure to magic will likely come through the internet as is the case here.
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Q. Kumber
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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby Q. Kumber » August 15th, 2015, 6:26 pm

I never heard of anyone being "called" to the priesthood who hadn't been "exposed" to religion.

People are always being exposed to different disciplines and interests. Some develop a sustained interest, some make a living from it and for others (generally a small percentage) it is a vocation. If the latter, I think referring to it as a "calling" is fair comment.

performer
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Re: Magic in BoingBoing

Postby performer » August 16th, 2015, 10:15 am

Who did the calling?


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