Mad as Hell and Not Taking It Anymore

Discuss products and their reviews in Genii.

Postby Matthew Field » 03/13/02 09:15 AM

I admit it: This is a rant. A diatribe. Ive had it.

I am a lover of books, and especially books on card magic. Once upon a time, magicians protected the secrecy of their exclusive items. They had to be persuaded to give up the real work, and they had to be cajoled into putting items into print. They used magic magazines for small things they came up with -- tips, variations, nebulous ideas incompletely worked out, and they were rewarded with the notoriety magic magazines provide.

Then came desk-top publishing, and the flood gates were open. Anybody with a computer and scanner could cobble together some ideas and charge $15 for lecture notes.

I admit it: Im a sucker. Ive really enjoyed lecture notes by Jay Sankey, Lee Asher, David Williamson, Paul Cummins, R. Paul Wilson, Allan Ackerman, Guy Hollingworth and others. So when I see something that looks like it might be of interest, I leap at the opportunity.

No more.

Ive had unpleasant experiences over the years, of course, with material that did not seem worth the price. But the thrill of discovering a Paul Wilson or Andrew Wimhurst via startlingly creative lecture notes, or even a bigger book by someone like Kevin Kelly (who was unknown to me at the time) made these letdowns acceptable in the big picture.

But in the last six months or so, the balance has tipped in the other direction. Young magicians, eager to establish their names in the ever more crowded marketplace, have published books or booklets and marketed them, usually over the internet, at prices raging from $15 to $30. For the most part, these consist of a move the magician has worked out, perhaps a trick and a variation or two using that move, and some other material - a fancy false cut or something. No one has begged to see this material in print, and much of it has been audience tested only on the authors immediate circle of family and friends. This is not material anyone has made a reputation out of - quite the opposite. It is material the publication of which, it is hoped, will establish the authors name.

I guess there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, but it irks me none the less. Id rather a young magician amass a body of original material, establish his name by submitting some of this material to magazines or websites, perhaps travel to conventions to compete or present this to get feedback while getting his name better known, and only then sit down at the computer to pound out those notes or books.

Something else: someone with a knowledge of English usage (spelling and grammar) and a talent for writing style should review those notes. I am wearied of paying for illiterate publications, poorly laid out and with usage like pointer finger instead of proper nomenclature. (OK Lee Asher can call his digits anything he damn well wants to. But if you are not as talented as Lee, just say first finger.)

So for the time being, when it comes to new material from guys I never heard of, Im sitting back and waiting for the buzz about it before hitting that ol PayPal button. And the same goes for the plethora of new magazines, some of which seem to fade from view right after my check clears the bank. (I actually contributed something to one of these and have yet to receive more than 3 issues from the promised 6 supposed to come out in the first year, and now I hear they are on volume 2! Whats that story? Talk about a gadfly in the ointment!)

Enough. Ive had it.

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Postby Guest » 03/13/02 09:37 AM

Pretty much anyone with access to a word processor can put out a book.

The problem will get worse as time goes on. Everyone wants their stuff in print, but most of it isn't worth publishing (at least, it isn't worth anything to me).
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 03/13/02 10:03 AM

Matt's rant resonates for me, especially late at night when my mind has been enervated by trying to process the deluge of text that streams through my consciousness on an hourly basis. It's as though the March Hare were my personal town-crier. He's "late" of course and I'm even later, dollars short, and agog by all the content, non-content, information, misinformation, and disinformation. (More cappuccio, please!)

About three years ago I realized that the Information Explosion and Information Glut would result in a major "filtering" problem. I also realized when word-processing took off that everyone and anyone now had their OWN PRINTING PRESS and the real-world forces that normally inhibit and suppress mediocre writing were removed. The dam burst. And when the Internet soared to heights unimagined by Kubrick, Asimov, Clarke, or H.G. Wells, every Tom, Dick, Harry, and Bruce became movie critics, book reviewers, authors, pundits, lecturers, garage-band experts, ass-roots commentators, and whiz-bang Edisons of "takes," "spins," and minor variations of every bloody pedigree. As Jimmy Durante used to lament, "Everbody wants ta get in ta-da act!"

The result is that the stage is now overcrowded. The forums are over-wrought. The circuits are jammed. The lines are busy. The computers are periodically "frozen." The pathways are clogged or blocked. The din is dinny. True Babel is upon us.

Again, the problem is sorting and filtering.
What should we buy?
What should we read?
What should we learn?
Who should we trust?
What's really important, useful, relevant, and valuable?

Everytime I take notes on a little finesse or variation, I ask myself: "What am I doing?"

Admittedly I'm a media junkie and I buy lots and lots of stuff. In fact, I buy more books than I can possibly read or digest. More magazines. More newsletters...and I go to the library and BORROW at least 10 books WEEKLY.

I also grind out lots of text myself...which I fear is mostly EPHEMERA, FLUFF, and FLOTSAM...and perhaps this is why I'm trying (like a mendicant doing penance for my excesses) to provide a surfeit of material on my Website in the hopes that after a year of posting, the users will have filtered through all of it and have found more than they invested in time and money. At least, this is my objective. Whether I reach that goal remains to be seen...

In the meantime, the Glut gets gluttier and the tsunami of TEXT keeps on coming...I hear the late Carl Sagan whispering from the grave..."Billions and billions and billions..."

Soon we will all be muttering, "Gazzillions and gazillions and gazillions..."

It adds up...don't it?

Dare I say at this point, "Onward!"?

My, my...
Two rants in a row.

Time for a coffee break.
Time for a trip to Disney World.

[ March 13, 2002: Message edited by: Jon Racherbaumer ]
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Postby CHRIS » 03/13/02 10:09 AM

Matthew,

I understand your resentment, but would not call this a bad development. Let me explain in more detail.

Writing ones thoughts, ideas, developments down is a very good thing and should not be delayed. It is a part of the development and creation process itself. I would go so far as to encourage anyone to do this.

Once it is written down with todays desktop publishing it can be immediately sold as booklet or ebook. I don't think this is bad either, because it allows early disemination and early feedback on ones ideas, thoughts and developments - if one wishes so.

The part it comes down to is, what are you willing to pay for such a thing? $30, $15, $5, $1, nothing? This will depend heavily on each one. This brings us further to the question, how can one get some gauge on the quality of the material. Well, reviews, word-of-mouth a.s.o.

As you have done yourself, our behavior has to change, since the process of publishing is not anymore a quality filter. In the past, if something was published, it had to have some level of quality for a publisher to invest and take the risk. These days anybody can be his own publisher removing the quality filter.

This just means we need to use other filters of quality.

Chris.... Lybrary.com preserving magic one book at a time
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 03/13/02 10:39 AM

Hey Chris, why does every one of your posts make reference to turning something into e-books?
When I think of "e"-books, I think of "excrutiating to read" books!
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Postby Pete McCabe » 03/13/02 11:43 AM

It sounds like what we need to do is take the same technology that makes it so easy for people to publish their material and use it to help people decide whether to buy it or not.

In other words, instead of using the Light from the Lamp forum only to comment on reviews published in Genii, why don't we use it for people to post their own reviews of the many publications crowding the magic scene. Things that don't make it into the already crowded Light from the lamp sections of the printed Genii.

Then you wouldn't have to take a chance with your money; you could see what other people say, learn something about the publication, and then make a more informed decision.

This would be especially useful in dealing with the enormous volume of material, which overwhelms even the most dilligent reviewer in any monthly periodical.

Matt -- why don't you take the lead on this?


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Postby Matthew Field » 03/13/02 01:40 PM

Originally posted by Pete McCabe:
Matt -- why don't you take the lead on this? Pete


Pete -- I try to write about the things I enjoy, Monday Night Magic for example, and I love writing the Genii video reviews. But I have a mortgage and a regular job (advertising director for a big NY department store's floor covering division).

As you know, sometimes I get passionate enough to let people know about something I've especially enjoyed or even something I didn't think was so good (Lennart Green's "Blinking Eye" for example).

But on a more regular basis . . . I'll stick to my Moderating duties. I'd much rather hear from individuals as they discover what they think is good or bad.

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 03/13/02 02:27 PM

What some Sites now do, including Amazon.com, is to provide an excerpt or sample chapter from the books being sold or advertised. This gives the potential consumer direct access of material for HIM or HER to evaluate. No middle persons. No go-betweens. Also, subjective feedback by a number of select armchair evaluators (notice I did NOT say "critics") would be useful if what they write has some explanatory force-- not exclamations such as "great," "so-so," or "sucks."
So far, for example, the in-depth reviews by the writers for Genii have shown fastidiousness of thought and REASONING to justify their evaluations. If we had more of that sort of commentary on the Net, it would be a good thing. However, lots of the palaver now on BBSs and Forums are largely visceral, impulsive, and not fully formed or articulated by meditation and self-argumentation. This, in the future, may change.

I hope so...

Onward...

[ March 13, 2002: Message edited by: Jon Racherbaumer ]
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Postby Brian Marks » 03/13/02 03:46 PM

Thanks Matt and John. I think your absolutely correct however I'd like to use this thread to announce the release of my new lecture notes called "The Brian Marks Experience, with monkeys" I include three routines.

1 a scotch and soda routine using just the normal gimmicks.

2. a packet of cards you keep in your wallet and cant be passed out magically change colors after several suspicious yet revealing counts. The audience wont suspect a thing!!!

3. several new ways to make a red hankie disappear with a thumb tip.

The notes also include many never before seen sleights unless of course your in the same state. Im usually in a state of dilusions which rhymes with illusions.

Of course let me give my credentials. I post alot on the genii forum. $15 for a set
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Postby Bill Mullins » 03/13/02 04:19 PM

Said Paul Wilson on another thread today:

"I am always nervous that something I publish will turn up in some old manuscript (or worse, in a standard text like Expert Card Technique) but that's the risk you take if you publish anything without the benefit of a complete library and a perfect memory. The secret is to do everything you can to research an idea and then tread carefully when you do publish."

If a magician of the caliber (skills, repertoire, knowledge) of Paul Wilson has trepidations when publishing, then every young Turk with a word processor should take note, take very serious note. They should also purchase and examine the lecture notes of people like Paul, Martin Lewis, Daryl, Danny Archer, Jay Scott Berry, Aldo Colombini, Jay Sankey, Paul Cummins, Mike Close, Steve Bedwell, Dan Garrett. I've seen them all lecture lately, and purchased lecture notes from them all. Every one is a big name in terms of talent, creativity, and ethics. Buy lecture notes from them and you know, sight unseen, that you are getting value for your money.

Just because you've come up with a move and built a couple tricks around it, doesn't mean that you are in the same league as these folks. And they are the competition for the hobbyist's (that's me) magic dollar. Do I spend my $20 on your amateurish video tape, produced in a vacuum of context, without reference to the work that has gone on before, not field tested against real-world audiences? Or do I go with the sure thing?

I'm in the process of moving, which has driven home how my library is much too large. Matt is right -- let's start filtering our purchases. (And let's start ridiculing the 14 year old Genii Forum posters who don't capitalize, don't know how to spell, and don't know grammar. It only takes a little time to proofread that post, and not doing so lables you as someone who doesn't care how his words are perceived.)

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Postby Guest » 03/13/02 06:35 PM

(And let's start ridiculing the 14 year old Genii Forum posters who don't capitalize, don't know how to spell, and don't know grammar. It only takes a little time to proofread that post, and not doing so lables you as someone who doesn't care how his words are perceived.)

Bill Mullins


Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....
And you were on a great roll, Bill.

Randy Campbell

[ March 13, 2002: Message edited by: Randy Campbell ]
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Postby CHRIS » 03/13/02 09:08 PM

Hey Chris, why does every one of your posts make reference to turning something into e-books?

Richard, because it fits the subject. Desktop publishing and ebooks are very close relatives and go hand-in-hand.

When I think of "e"-books, I think of "excrutiating to read" books!

Two suggestions, buy yourself a 21" monitor or try our text-to-speech feature - no 'excrutiating reading' just listening. I even have a free sample for you to download to try it out. Just check my website.

Chris.... Lybrary.com preserving magic one book at a time.
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Postby Pete McCabe » 03/13/02 11:41 PM

Matthew:

I'm not suggesting you do the actual reviewing. But I think you're in a rare position to help redirect the purpose of the Light from the Lamp forum -- or perhaps create a new forum here -- so that other people could do the work.

I know I'd be willing to post a review of anything I buy. I'm sure there would be others.

Not everyone's reviews would be good and useful, but sometimes it only takes one review to tell you what you want to know. It couldn't hurt, that's for sure.
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Postby Jeremy Medows » 03/14/02 08:36 AM

Originally posted by Matthew Field:
And the same goes for the plethora of new magazines, some of which seem to fade from view right after my check clears the bank. (I actually contributed something to one of these and have yet to receive more than 3 issues from the promised 6 supposed to come out in the first year, and now I hear they are on volume 2! Whats that story? Talk about a gadfly in the ointment!)


Speaking of bad magazines, I have not receievd isses of Mr. Gadfly that I subscribed too. According to his website, he's up to Volume 2, Issue 1 (the 5th issue). I paid for a 6 issue subscribtion, and only received one issue so far (Vol.1, Issue 2) and that was after demanding a refund because he was up to issue #3 and didn't receive issue #2.

Aaron smith is a jerk. I'd say worse things, but I don't want to get edited. For the regex geeks out there (and I know there have to be on a magic forum): s/jerk/something_worse

I've dealt with dealers with bad reputations and have made over 200 magic related eBay transactions and have always receievd the promised goods. This is the first time I've been ripped off.

Aaron has ripped me off.

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 03/14/02 09:26 AM

Boy, this "thread" has been feisty and sometimes illuminating!

Compared to the Real World that we love to allude to from our smoke-free bunkers we call MacMagicLand, our pressing, topical issues and rants are relatively trivial...but trivial in ways each of us finds meaningful. Richard K. is dead-on when he says that this Forum permits instantaneous feedback. Of course it's a bit of a free-for-all and sometimes we are carelessly glib, but the undiplomatic candor is as palpable as kicks in the groin or long, wet kisses (extremes, to be sure).

BTW, PDF documents are a mixed blessing. They can be conveniently downloaded, read, and saved. They can ALSO be forwarded to anyone. In short, depending on the generosity or stinginess of the "sender," the distribution-factor exponentially widens or shrinks. Does it lessen the value of the work? Perhaps. Does it reduce the profit margin of the "producer"? Assuredly.

This year I'll put at least 10 PDF documents on my Website. (The next one is BACK TO THE FUTURE CLASSIC) My primary obligations are to subscribers and the works. The ultimate "value" of course is abstract. The nasty "money" aspect, to me, is also somewhat abstract. It is merely a "tool," a way to maintain and perpetuate the "process."

In the Real World there is now a whopping ensuing battle being waged between producers of the entertainment industry with producers of the technology industry. The stakes are incredibly high. The tech people are focused on innovation, progress, and want to sell software, computers, and VCRs. The entertainment industry want to protect their intellectual property and their products (movies, books, CDs) from PIRACY.

Good luck. Unfortunately, there has yet to be a practical copy-protection system invented that cannot be cracked. Bottom line: Piracy sells computers and other technical devices that we consumers love and demand.

The Catch 22 for the entertainment industry is that if you shut down and copy-protect their stuff, they will alienate the very consumers they wish to court, keep, and service. Keep in mind that Hollywood and others back in the 70s wanted VCRs outlawed. They claimed that it would kill the movie business.

Certain rock bands in the past (Grateful Dead) encouraged wholesale copying. Ironically, despite all the freebies, their hard-goods CDs still sold, big-time.

So...

How the big battle between Entertainment and High Tech plays out is anybody's guess. Personally, I think that High Tech holds most of the high cards.

As for me, I'm a lowly content-provider. The feedback I get regarding the supposed value of my "content" has consistently ranged from zero to "okay"...

I recently heard some kid complain (after buying the Dover, cheapo-version of Bobo's MODERN COIN MAGIC) that it was over-priced and of dubious value.

He says: "Not that much new stuff in there...Lots of old-fashioned moves and obsolete routines..."

The wheel turns.
The mill grinds exceeedingly fine.

Meanwhile, keep on commenting and ranting on this Forum.
It stirs the air; it promotes thought.

Onward...
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Postby Matthew Field » 03/14/02 10:12 AM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
[QB]The feedback I get regarding the supposed value of my "content" has consistently ranged from zero to "okay"...
QB]



If that's the feedback you've gotten, Jon, let me raise the high-end marker to "excellent."

Jon's website (www.JonRacherbaumer.com) does exactly what I was referring to in the first part of my "rant": it applies the filter of experience (and taste) to the myriad stuff and provides material which, to the dedicated student of (card) magic, is must-read.

Jon's latest offering is "Clock Work 2.0" which is a somewhat expanded version of "On the Clock Effect," a manuscript I bought and read many years ago. At that time it and an effect in Karl Fulves's "Pallbearers Review" sparked a flurry of interest in this type of effect. I had fun with, for eample, Paul Harris's "Overkill" and John Bannon's imaginative work in this area, but had not really considered the clock effect for several years. Now Jon posts this ebook, almost 40 pages worth, and of course I'm reading it and getting interested again!

It is the depth of understanding of a Jon Racherbaumer, or (I hope) William Goodwin and Gordon Bean in their forthcoming "Parallax," which I value. Paying money and giving your valuable time to gain insight from people like these, and I include my friend Richard Kaufman, means you are in good hands.

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Postby Matthew Field » 03/14/02 10:16 AM

Originally posted by Brian Marks:
I'd like to use this thread to announce the release of my new lecture notes called "The Brian Marks Experience, with monkeys"



Where do I send the money??


Very funny, Brian! :p

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Postby Larry Horowitz » 03/14/02 11:49 AM

The new magazine to be published by William Goodwin and Gordon Bean is "The Penumbra"
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Postby CHRIS » 03/14/02 11:57 AM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
Unfortunately, there has yet to be a practical copy-protection system invented that cannot be cracked.


It can formally be proven that such a thing does not exist. I spare you the proof.
The problem with copy-protection is the more they protect the more they are cumbersome for users.

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Postby Larry Horowitz » 03/14/02 12:09 PM

I am one of those persons that buys far more then I could possibly read. Of course, because of this I find myself the proud owner of JUNK. The talk has been about screening the publications and publishers of written material. The question becomes at what point are we required to reign in our own habit? When is enough, enough?

What shall be a purchase criteria? The review is favorable, I know the author, there is a particular segmant of the book which I am interested in? Notice I don't list that the book is about Cards, as this is to broad a topic. At some point I must narrow down the pile to be read or it will never get read.

No one can make use of all the effects published. No one can memorize all the effects one reads and likes. When are we over saturated? When have we become readers and not doers?

I hope everyone has caught the message in Jon's comment of all the books and magazines he aqcuires thru purchase or the library. He reads everything!! Key word Everything, not just magic. I am also a voracious reader. And I will state now that anyone out there that is so swamped with magic to read that they don't have the time to read other material needs to get a life.

I don't buy a book because it has a trick in it. The trick is to buy the book that has Magic in it. Look at your pile of material, realize that if you don't have the time to give quality material, quality attention, then you have to put the brakes on.

I may have lost my point here, which is simply, set some standards. When we stop buying junk, the junk will stop being published.

Larry

[ March 14, 2002: Message edited by: Larry Horowitz ]
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Postby Matthew Field » 03/14/02 02:02 PM

Originally posted by Larry Horowitz:
The new magazine to be published by William Goodwin and Gordon Bean is "The Penumbra"


Thanks Larry. So it is.

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Postby Pepka » 03/14/02 05:21 PM

I agree whole-heartedly with Matt. Unfortunately, this issue extends far beyond our little world of double-lifts and shuttle passes.
As someone with a background in Graphic Design and Printing, It is heartbreaking to see so much junk being printed today. Page-maker and Quark express did no one a favor when they became widely available for anyone with a computer. People do ridiculous layouts and designs, take them to the printer, and the job looks like hell. But just as the saying goes, garbage in, garbage out.
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Postby Guest » 03/14/02 08:01 PM

I'm coming into this discussion a bit late, but offer the following divergent point of view:

In an art form which places the highest importance on originality, uniqueness, and individualism, perhaps we should consider that the plethora of choices increases the chance that we can find material that is "off the beaten track". Certainly, material from some of the established sources can become a "best-seller" in our small world; but do you really want to read, watch, learn and do the same stuff as thousands of other performers? I think not.

For this reason, I am rather glad that the easy access to self publishing has evened the playing field. With so many choices, it becomes far more likely that you will acquire material that is not being done elsewhere. That is, after all the goal.
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Postby Brian Marks » 03/15/02 07:29 AM

Should aour goal be originality or entertainment?

Most audiences (laymen) dont know or care who invented the trick or if it came from [censored] lecture notes or a classic. I am not saying you should copy, but at this point very few people are focusing on original presentations and most are focusing on the variation of the variation of the variation of the classic trick or move. Magic doesnt need new moves, we need new presentations. Get your pens and start writing presentations, not lecture notes.
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Postby Jeremy Medows » 03/15/02 07:36 AM

Originally posted by Chas Roberts:
...For this reason, I am rather glad that the easy access to self publishing has evened the playing field. With so many choices, it becomes far more likely that you will acquire material that is not being done elsewhere. That is, after all the goal.


Novelty for novelty's sake? Is that your goal? I'm not sure if that is everyone's goal here, as it's definetly not mine. I bet most of us here could construct magic routines that no one else is doing out of classics like the Tarbell Course and an from Royal Road. There's better stuff that no one does in the back of Royal Road than in all of the hot underground so-called lecture notes produced this year.

As for the value of magic books and videos that someone else mentioned. Sure, if you get something that you use all the time out of a set of notes, it's probably worth more than $20 to you, but the problem is that you usually don't know how much it's truly worth until after you purchase the product. You're also forgetting that we all have budget's to work with. If I have $40 to spend this month, am I going to purchase the Dai Vernon book of Magic, or some new punks set of lecture notes? The value lies with the Vernon book, of course (for 99% of us, I hope).

Jeremy

[ March 15, 2002: Message edited by: Jeremy Medows ]
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Postby Lisa Cousins » 03/15/02 01:22 PM

I think Mr. Roberts makes a great point about the information explosion presenting an opportunity for more originality. Were the real-world-filters really separating the gold from the dross, or was it a case of tastemakers deciding what you or I should like?

I would suggest that we're now in the reverse situation from times of yore. In the past, countless gems were hidden away in drawers, overlooked by the filtering process for any number of reasons. Now that everyone's free to offer up their two cents, countless gems are hidden away in the overwhelming gush of information. End result either way: hidden gems.

Finding a productive way to work with the prevailing information climate beats bemoaning the good old days that won't return, howsoever bemoaned. Mr. Roberts has a positive outlook about what we're facing - and I must add that I see nothing in his post that suggests "novelty for novelty's sake." The gush is here, and we're all free to sink or swim in it.

And a P.S. to Jon R. - any thread with you on it somehow manages to become fiesty and illuminating. Hmmm.

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Postby Matt Sedlak » 03/15/02 02:07 PM

While I agree that somebody should not put out a set of lecture notes unless there is solid material that is valuable to the fraternity, I do not think that people putting stuff into print is necessarily a bad thing. If somebody has a good idea they should be able to share it with everyone. Of course, it should be well written and edited. Just because it is available does not mean that you have to buy it. If you do not like the material in it, then don't get it. Of course this is an easy judgement to make, if you attended the lecture. However, if you were not there, it should not be too difficult to find somebody who attended one of the lectures and ask them about the quality of the material. There is nothing wrong with puttins something into print if it is well written, edited, and researched.
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Postby Guest » 03/15/02 02:36 PM

Exactly. My point is that we are in this provide entertainment - our goal should be not "novelty for novelty's sake" but to develop our own performance style and repertoire that sets us apart from the hoi-polloi. Ultimately, the only way we can achieve success is to be different from the crowd.

I also agree that far too much material is released without being fully developed. Historically this has been a problem with much of the literature all along. I am referring of course to that part of the art which relates to performance and presentation. Books like Henning Nelms' "Magic and Showmanship", or the Fitzkee Trilogy are few and far between. Not much is ever put forward to assist the performer in developing this essential part of his or her act. Even what are considered to be the classics are sparse in this area.

Perhaps within the area of Bizarre Magick lies the exception to this unfortunate rule. Here you may find extensive effort applied to presentation, with little emphasis on method. I think we would all be better off if the books, lecture notes, or media we purchased contained more ideas on developing these skills. After all, we are supposed to be "an actor playing the part of a magician", not "a magician playing the part of an actor playing the part of a magician".

To return to my original point, and perhaps clarify what may have sent some off on the wrong tangent - having more choices allows us to find material that may be more in line with what will work for us. Rather than having to make our selection from a limited menu, we can now find things that no one else might be interested in. Such things just might be the key to our success. Economics relating to the cost of production and distribution should not dictate what we are able to find. Nor should the creativity of the "not-yet-famous" be under-rated.
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Postby steve » 03/17/02 07:25 PM

Who cares? It's all relative to YOUR skill level. Yes, someone doing something from Expert Card Technique slightly different might offend you, if you had studied the book. In my opinion, one of the biggest problems with magicians is the fact that they have tunnelvision and think every other magicians is like them.

What's in those "Crappy" (by your standards) lecture notes may be the first set of lecture notes someone else has ever bought, someone who perhaps doesn't have your knowledge base? They could buy the notes, learn something excellent, and have a real gem. But, the fact that they didn't learn it from your source is not important.

It's capitalism at it's best. You don't know the guy, don't buy the notes. I assume when you watch a movie that has the same plot as another movie, you feel ripped off as well and complain to the proper people?

It's no different than buying a trick by a well known magician and finding out it's just like something else you already have or do.

I just don't get why everyone is complaining. How many tricks you bought over the years and didn't think lived up to the expectations you had set in your mind? Plently, I would assume. But, I don't see anyone attacking people for that.

Of course, this is just my opinion. I have a feeling you may disagree! ;)

[ March 17, 2002: Message edited by: Steve S. ]
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Postby Brian Marks » 03/17/02 11:50 PM

I do feel ripped off when I see a movie which is the same movie i just saw with different actors but that isnt the point.

Various magicians rush to publish new material that is either not new or hasn't been tested as to create a name for themselves. Magic is the only hobby I know where someone can learn a couple of tricks, fool their friends than publish the lecture notes due to their "expertise".

There is no formal training for magic, no required reading that unifies a certain knowledge of the craft. What constitues an expert? Its not being a pro because there some crappy pros out there. Simply being a technician? Maybee but being only a technician produces alot of magician friendly effects. Someone who is well read in the classics? They would be fairly knowledgeable even with a lack of ability to perform effects. What ever take you have on this question, someone with a published set of lecture notes, a book, a column in a magazine (genii or otherwise) and especially a video should NOT make that person an expert unless of course their is a consistent high quality in their work(the magic that is, not the stuff the falls under the publisher's responsibility like editing).
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Postby Matt Sedlak » 03/18/02 02:20 AM

Brian brings up a good point as to who is considered an expert. In magic that is hard to define. There is so much in magic that one could be considered an expert in. Let's not even consider cards, general close-up, stage, doves, etc. for the moment. One could be an expert on history and crediting, or one could be considered an expert on performing, and then of course experts on technique. If one would be considered an expert in one field, such as technique, but was sorely lacking in the performance area (as is the case with many magicians) then it would be acceptable for him to publish something pertaining to technique, but he should not publish something pertaining to performance. In other occupations, hobbies, art forms, etc. one must go before a board to attain a status of an expert. When I was going for my black belt in karate, one of the things you had to do was appear before a board of higher black belts and be able to demonstrate knowledge pertaining to the history of the martial arts as well as technique. While I doubt this is something fesible in magic, it would be interesting if something similar was developed. As long as one of the questions isn't "Who fooled Houdini?" :rolleyes:
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Postby CHRIS » 03/18/02 04:04 AM

Matt, I don't know how it is here in the US, but in Vienna, Austria, where I started my magic path, there is a formal exam and test to become a member of the club or inner circle. This test included theoretical questions about history and technique and performance.
As far as I know, there is no formal standard for this test, so it is up to each club or assembly to decide upon what to test and what constitutes failiure.
So membership for the SAM or IBM or other clubs could become such a 'quality or knowledge filter'. Of course, this would go counter to the goal for these organisations to get as many members as possible.

Chris.... Lybrary.com preserving magic one book at a time
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Postby steve » 03/18/02 04:25 AM

It has nothing to do with skill. I have a pile of lecture notes by highly skilled magicians that aren't worth the paper they are written on. I saw someone lecture and they were brilliant. Their moves and timing were perfect, and I sat through 2 lectures (different material) and a workshop. EXCELLENT material. I bought the lecture notes (about 3 different sets of them) and they were junk. You could not reconstruct a single thing he did from the notes.

I'd prefer to have clear notes by a budding new magician than vague notes by a pro.

[ March 18, 2002: Message edited by: Steve S. ]
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Postby Brian Marks » 03/18/02 11:07 PM

a beginner who writes beginning material clearly vs. an experienced, entertaining magician with crappy notes containing the secrets we so crave.

I don't hold it against a lecturer for being a bad writer. Magicians being bad writers is what allows for people like Richard and Harry Lorrayne to rise up to write our favorite books. This is their expertise and it is needed. I am looking for material from experts, people I can learn from. Besides, I am not looking for Shakespere when I purchase lecture notes, they are NOTES.
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Postby Matthew Field » 03/19/02 07:27 AM

Originally posted by Steve S.:
I'd prefer to have clear notes by a budding new magician than vague notes by a pro.


I feel exactly the opposite. Who has more to teach?

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Postby Guest » 03/19/02 07:39 AM

The one who teaches more is the one who presents that teaching in a way that imparts the knowledge. Perhaps more important, is what is being taught; if it is something you will use it is worth a lot, otherwise it is a waste of time, effort and money.

Just because someone is a "professional" doesn't mean they understand how to teach. On the other hand, just because someone knows how to teach does not mean what they teach is worthwhile.

I stick by my previous assertion. Not all best sellers are worthwhile. Not all unknown material is junk. Try to find what works for you, regardless of the source. Be happy that you have more choices, and don't be afraid to be different.
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Postby Brian Marks » 03/19/02 08:34 AM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Chas Roberts:
[QB]Just because someone is a "professional" doesn't mean they understand how to teach. On the other hand, just because someone knows how to teach does not mean what they teach is worthwhile.

When a book is written, the magician is not teaching. He is simply desribing the methods for the tricks in his repoitoire. Its more about being a writer unless you hire the magician for lessons. His teaching abilities would be more apparent on a video as this is the closest to an actual lesson.


Unknown material is not the point. Untested material is. Simply coming up with material is no need to publish a book. I have plenty of variations on common tricks. If you have something legit, perform it for laypeople you dont know and than at a convention contest. Than send the trick to genii. Build your name and reputation before delving into a book.
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Postby Guest » 03/19/02 08:49 AM

Very well said Brian. I think most people publish stuff just to see their names in print. Personally I wouldn't want my name on the majority of it.

Then again, to each his own. I am sure there is a diamond in the rough on occasion but I simply do not have the time, patience or money to squander on everyones magic creations. If I did, I don't think I would buy any more than I do now.
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Postby Guest » 03/19/02 12:20 PM

Brian said:
"When a book is written, the magician is not teaching."

I respectfully disagree, as this is why I purchase these books in the first place. Unless it is a book of anecdotes or history, the primary reason I buy the book is it allows me to learn new material. I'd bet that most others have the same expectation. These are after all expository writing, not novels.

Brian also said:

"Unknown material is not the point. Untested material is."

This I can agree with to an extent. I'd venture to say that most writers already do perform their routines and effects for laypeople they don't know. I certainly do. But to say that the test of legitimacy includes performing "at a convention contest" is totally invalid. Many people do not have the time or interest to perform at convention contests, and there is no cause and effect reationship here. Unfortunately the things performed at convention contests all too often dictate "the next greatest thing" to the masses, and what we get is simply cloned performances without individuality.

Besides, as we are all aware, the worst possible audience for magic is other magicians. Other magicians are far more interested in the subtle nuances and intricate details of methods than are laypeople. Assuming the methods work, it makes no difference to the layperson whether a double lift or top change is employed. Neither one is there as far as they are concerned.

"Sending the trick to Genii" as a first step in gaining some credibility is certainly a good idea, but will not bring much return to the developer. Writing and selling a book may bring greater returns, but only if the material is worthy. This is a small market and carries the chance that things produced may not sell.
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Postby steve » 03/19/02 05:35 PM

Originally posted by Matthew Field:


I feel exactly the opposite. Who has more to teach?

Matt Field


It's not the quantity, it's the quality of what I'm being taught. If John Doe, the budding new face on the magic scene is lecturing and I go, and buy his lecture notes, come home, open them up and he explains the XYZ move in a fashion where I can LEARN it, then I am happy.

However, if I go see John Q. Magician, the famous magician who's performed 1000's of shows, and I buy his lecture notes, come home and can't complete the tricks because he has left critical steps out, then who did I learn more from, the pro or the new face?

I'm not saying this to argue,as it's clear we have different opinions. I believe that it doesn't matter who you learn from as long as you learn it, and everyone learns differently.

[ March 19, 2002: Message edited by: Steve S. ]
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