Of the Thread That Unfortunately Frayed

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 05/03/04 10:09 PM

The thread that almost drove RK to "edges" he prefers to avoid, making him momentarily morph into the Harlan Ellison character "who wants to scream but has no mouth," had possibilities for some serious discussion about the deep nature of "exposure," "secrecy," and other tangential topics. Unfortunately, these are the very topics that quickly press "hot buttons" and arouse the 911-sector of the reptilian brain. Things then speed into emotional overdrive and the piss-hiss-diss mode takes over.

Pity. I saw some vital glimmers.

Perhaps we will be able to recast the salvageable strands of the Thread That Could Have Been?

I hope so.

In the meantime...

Can anyone tell me where Dell O'Dell really ditched the dye-tube?

Onward...
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/03/04 10:41 PM

Poll suggestion. Who was Dell O Dell.
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Postby Jeff Eline » 05/04/04 06:17 AM

I just want to apologize for the disintegration of the thread. I should have known better. I thought there were some interesting things to debate and I tried my best to do so.

But I do realize I was part of the reason it was closed and I apologize. This is a great forum and I visit it each day. I certainly don't want it to become the vapid gripe-fest some magic boards have become.

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Postby sleightly » 05/04/04 07:04 AM

Dell O'Dell was a mighty nice gal,
A fine magicienne, good for morale.

Born Dell Newton, nineteen-hundred-and-two,
She left our stage early, her act not quite through.

She pattered in rhyme, her meter was even.
With magic enchanting, she kept folks from leavin'

At society parties, she developed a rep,
For presenting the classics with wit and with pep.

A popular act with fans and a club,
Constantly sharing, she never would snub.

The curtain dropped, nineteen-sixty-and-two,
She went on a new stage, one she couldn't eschew,

Dell-lightfully - she left us - hungry for more,
The nightclub in heaven was calling encore.

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Postby Lisa Cousins » 05/04/04 08:19 AM

Well that was certainly "in the spirit" Mr. Pinard!

In "The Professional Touch," Monk Watson features one of her routines, and prefaces it with a praise-filled description of seeing Dell perform. "Her running patter, all in rhyme, gave each trick the added touch that made her the star performer that she is. She makes you feel at home the minute she starts to work with a smile that is real - not a prop like so many I've seen."

My favorite Dell item is the booklet "On Both Sides of the Footlights" - the cover shows Dell by day, wearing an apron and cooking a meal, and Dell by night, wearing a glamorous gown and pulling a rabbit from a hat.

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Postby Guest » 05/04/04 08:43 AM

"This is the story of three good friends;
It tells of where their destiny ends...."

Those are the first two lines of Dell O'Dell's "Heaven and Hell" patter to the old paper-tear routine in which you end up with a cross and the word "hell". Her patter makes the trick a real presentation piece. She actually printed up that routine in a flier and used it as a promotional give-away at her shows. I use it occasionally, when I do magic for a religious group.

I believe Dell made the cover of at least one Genii issue (or perhaps another period magazine), which contained some stories about her very cosmopolitan life. She was definitely a lady ahead of her time.

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Postby Pete Biro » 05/04/04 11:55 AM

Whilst a "mere child" I was lucky enough to be invited as a guest to be in the audience of a TV show she did in the L.A. area (I was in town on vacation and met George Boston, who had just opened the Abbott L.A. branch. Boston was great and took me around to meet many magicians and to visit the TV studio where she was working and a visit to the Chavez Studio and Merv Taylor's shop as well. A memorable trip, now if I could just remember any of the details.) :confused: :p :confused:
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Postby NCMarsh » 05/04/04 02:15 PM

RE: The Tangle

I owe a public apology for the tone of the initial post...phrases like "prostituting" and "exploitation" undermined the likelihood that the thread would deal with the fundamental issues in which its promise lay...these sowed the seeds of an emotional response, particularly as the creator of these works is a much-liked personality...

that said...I do think that the thread addressed some important issues that lie at the core of contemporary magical culture and that are ignored...

does magic benefit from large numbers of practitiners? How ought magic to be taught to those begining (which supposes the question of what the fundamental skills are -- which supposes the question of what a performance of magic ought to be)? Does the attitude of a performer towards his material affect a performance? How so? Does it benefit magic for beginners to have a sense of entitlement to strong material -- or should strong material be seen as a precious gift to be valued and loved? Does it benefit magic for those who have been at it for awhile to have a sense of entitlement to strong material, without having to seek it out themselves? Are there significant benefits to the imaginative working through of a routine from a text? Are there benefits to having to show initiative before being showered in strong material?

If teaching tricks is teaching magic, then is doing tricks doing magic? If we have this attitude, do we have the right to resent laypeople who see magic as "just tricks?"

If we don't care that duffers are being handed masterworks, with full knowledge that they are likely to butcher them, are we showing disdain for the performance of magic? If we are disdainful of magic, do we have the right to feel indignant when we see her treated as an irrelevant and childish amusement?

These are honest questions -- obviously, from my views in the "really, really dumb thread," I'm leaning towards one set of answers.

In any case, I'm glad that these questions were raised -- and I'm sorry if they were done in a way that excited animous and discouaged rational conversation.

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 05/04/04 03:43 PM

I agree that the questions Nathan raise are worthy of discussion, the more detailed, the better. In fact, preliminary answers demand essay-length treatment. A book can and will probably be written on these questions. I hope so.

Nathan: "Does magic benefit from large numbers of practitiners?"

Unfortunately, if you ask most lay persons to list the skills necessary to ADEQUATELY perform magic tricks, they would be hard pressed to provide answers with significant explanatory force. Many lay people assume that the most important thing is to know how a trick works and then it's simply a matter of practicing long enough to master its rudiments. To them, magic consists of quick tricks with a few puzzling aspects: (1) "See the ball in the vase?" Look! Now it's gone!" (2) The trickster puts a cube with different colored sides into an opaque box and then names the color uppermost. (3) Look! The coin penetrates the cloth of the handkerchief! Et cetera, et cetera.

This is paint-by-the-numbers, tantamount to playing the ukelele. Although there have been magicians who have been artists, "magic" still ranks low in the hierarchy of Arts. So, does "magic" benefit from having 10,000 practitioners? If 5% of this number become artists, the answer is yes. Otherwise....?


Nathan: "How ought magic to be taught to those beginning (which supposes the question of what the fundamental skills are -- which supposes the question of what a performance of magic ought to be?)"

My first impulse is to cite analogies from literature and acting. How should "writing" or "acting" be taught and is it possible to teach someone to be a great writer and actor? These questions have resulted in many books over the years. Opinion is still divided. In my experience, I think that teachers can help aspirants to be better and can provide guide lines, but the rest depends on many factors, including innate ability, coupled with an unflagging passion to achieve mastery. How many graduates of Chavez became great magicians? How many graduates of the Famous Writers School became great writers. How many graduates of the Actor's Studio became great or even successful actors?


Nathan: "Does the attitude of a performer towards his material affect a performance? How so?"

Although it is banal to say it, "Attitude is everything." Here's another: "Easy come; easy go."

Nathan: "Does it benefit magic for beginners to have a sense of entitlement to strong material -- or should strong material be seen as a precious gift to be valued and loved?"

Knowledge should be considered a precious gift.
There is a different from finding a message in a bottle and listening to "sound bites" on CNN or Fox News. There is a difference from watching pre-digested video instruction and having personal tuteluge and counsel with Dai Vernon.

Why aren't there any How-To-Do-Stand-up-Comedy instruction videos? Although I think that mastery of stand-up comedy is more difficult than mastery of stand-up magic, both are similar in many ways. You cannot deeply learn the form from watching videos, no matter how lucid the instructor, how good the raw materials are, and how superb the production values are.

If teaching tricks is teaching magic, then is doing tricks doing magic?

Nope. You can teach a dog some cool tricks, but I've never seen Fido do "The Trick That Cannot Be Explained."

DeLite is a trick. Mr. Electric is magic.


Nathan: "These are honest questions -- obviously, from my views in the "really, really dumb thread," I'm leaning towards one set of answers."

Yes, these questions are honest and worth addressing. Such a thread COULD BE most useful.

What I've just dashed off do not qualify as ANSWERS, but perhaps the spirit in which they were hastily typed will be contagious and will keep those inspired to reply on track and forecfully inspired.

Onward, brothers and sisters...
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Postby mark » 05/04/04 04:06 PM

Nathan,
Thank you so much for attempting to straighten the mess that inflammatory words can create. It was after reading such words and the attitude behind them, that I deferred, leaving the issue to disintegrate into a monumental p***ing match. You have done the right and honorable thing in rephrasing your concerns, and I believe that we will in the end be richly rewarded with The Thread That Should Have Been. I must play both chauffeur and cheerleader now as I take my sons to their respective baseball games. You have given me much to think about as I watch, and I look forward to both writing and reading about what is sure to be one of the best threads ever. Thanks again,

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Postby Pete Biro » 05/04/04 04:14 PM

Reminds me, oh Jon of words, about a comedy magic lecture I was helping Terry Seabrooke present.

Following the session, a young mage asked Terry "How do I become funny?" Seabrooke responded with, "Are you now at all funny?" The aspirant said, "No."

Seabrooke then said, "Then I doubt if you will ever be funny."
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Postby David Nethery » 05/04/04 04:44 PM

On the "Who Invented Bowling Ball from Briefcase" thread
(which went on way longer than I intended or expected......geez! I just wanted to know the name of who invented it ) Pete Biro said this :

IMHO the method is not the message.

It is the effect.
.......... it is the effect that is the intellectual property.
I tend to agree with that line of thinking . The effect is what matters, not the method , since to the audience there is no method (ideally there is no hint of a "method" , only the effect )

So, if someone comes up with a new method to accomplish an established effect (a method different from the one used by the originator of the effect ) does that count as creating a new trick, one which may be performed or marketed without payment or acknowledgement of the originator of the effect ?

What about an "improvement" or an extension of existing material ? Can it be performed or marketed as long as the exact presentation or patter of an established performer's routine is not used ?
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/04/04 06:10 PM

As Richard said and made clear earlier... The lack of respect for, and even recognition of intellectual property in this group is a factor in our state of affairs.

Should I care that folks are performing some of the gems of the craft poorly and attempting to make a name for themselves in the group by using material they have not been given permission to use? Truly I don't care about those who do such things. It speaks for them. There are all sorts of people in our society. What I do care about are the effects of rewarding such people with time, attention, praise and money.

On the other side of our situation are those who left us without a legacy... other than what some will attempt to salvage from the leftovers of their estates and by attempting to pillage the fond memories of their peers. Peter Kane left us without publishing a large amount of his findings in magic. As did Fred Kaps, and Hofzinser.

Why is there no clear text on how to combine tricks into routines, or how to make a magic moment? Perhaps the answers are above in that statement that our community would not respect the hard work and insight if it were offered?

The price of access to new material may become much larger as we raise generations who have no access to the old books that have gone from print and more of the work of our grandfather's generation fades into vague legends and half memories. The hoardings of a few will not make a difference when the materials they have hoarded become impertinent to the culture they will need to function within.

The price for NOT respecting ideas as property is the stagnation of our culture. This is why our image suffers from fashion lag and why we spend much of our time learning things that do not serve our audiences.

Not a tough choice to make, really. Wouldn't you prefer to trade value for value? Simple idea here. You trade the value of your hard work for the value of someone else's hard work. Times are what they are, and we all work hard for our dollars. What counts is what we trade our dollars for. The dollars are our values in action.
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Postby Guest » 05/04/04 06:58 PM

I'd like to apologize if I offended anyone on the other post, I was simply trying to get to some of the broader issues at hand, and I may have stepped on a few rather large toes, in the process.

One of my points however, is that as magician's, in discussions of magic as a serious art, or discussions of magic's ethics, we follow two basic practices. Either we ignore such discussions completely, or we disengrate within them.

This thread looks to be fixing some of those issues, as people come together to discuss seriously, and I look forward to what may develop.
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Postby Brad Henderson » 05/04/04 09:52 PM

D.T., I see your point, however method AFFECTS effect. If someone were to invent a trick where a die is rolled, numbers added, a card counted down to, remembered, and the magician names the card; we would say the effect is one of mind reading. Is this the same "effect" as telling someone to think of any card in a pack, and then naming the card.

Well, yes and no.

So, effect is a very big word which I think may often be innacurate due to its largeness. In fact, I have written and spoken about a new way to break apart magic which eliminated these fuzzy lines. It is, however, long and fairly tedious so I don;t know if anyone would be interested.

But, back to the original question, but backwards.

If the effect is the thing, then if I were to come up with a revolutionary new way to perform, say, the linking rings, would I have no real right to it as my intellectual property? The effect is ancient. So, is my method open to be taken by any and all? Well, what if someone looks at my handling and they are "more, better fooled" by it, than the classic method. Is the "effect" the same, though in both cases rings are linking?

What if I come up with a new framing for the effect which "puts it in a new light?" For example, Snowstorm is old, but Peter Samelson's thinking made it something it never was before (at least as far as I was aware). It MOVED audiences. But the EFFECT isn't Peter's, or is it?

Sure the "trick" isn't Peter's, but the effect/impact it has on the audience maybe is, this impact produced as a combination of elements.

So, maybe we should break apart the concepts of "trick" i.e. phenomenological happening; "effect" which is that which is perceived to have happened and the manner in which it seems to have happened, and "aesthetics" which is what we feel about what has apparently seemed to have happened. So we have domains for method, presentation, and art. Though seperate, they are all of course interconnected.

(Ok, thats the very basis of my system, which I didn't mean to go into. But regardless of what you think about the break down, I think the exploration of method/effect/impact and its relationship to IP is worthy of consideration.
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Postby Bill Mullins » 05/05/04 10:32 AM

Do master actors fret over their peers giving away their secrets to laymen on "Actor's Studio"?

How do you know if a beginner will turn into Fred Kaps, or some duffer? Should that effect the quality of the material that he is exposed to?

I've seen probably 10 or so lectures a year, for the seven years I've been into "serious" magic. Not once has a lecturer tried to determine in advance the skill/commitment level of an audience, nor even implied that some of the attendees might not should be there.

The new Linking Ring has a review of Michael Finney's new videos, the first of which is a recording of his stand-up act. The reviewer was suprised that this was the case, because it "implicitly gives the buyer the right to use the material" (not an exact quote, but close).

I think most professional comedians would scoff at the idea that simply by buying a copy of a comedian's work, you gain the right to use the material.
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Postby Guest » 05/05/04 12:40 PM

I agree, Bill....Any professional should abhor the thought of using somebody's word-for-word comedy material, even if it is sold to be used as such.

Are you aware that there are many young people who are using Blaine's patter exactly: "Look, watch, uh, .... look, watch, uh....look, watch, uh..."

I have a problem with that too.

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Postby Pete Biro » 05/05/04 01:06 PM

"Look, watch, look, watch... " Straight out of Slydini...!!!
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Postby Guest » 05/05/04 01:16 PM

Silly me! Thanks Pete. And here I thought Blaine was original...

I apologize to all the kids who are using the original Slydini stuff.

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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 05/05/04 01:45 PM

I had an enlightening session (two hours) with four stand-up comedians who have been around awhile. I asked them about the ethics of cribbing material and the extent of stealing material. In some ways, it's worse than what happens in magicdom. There is a difference. Once you look at the behavior at certain, higher levels, a lot is self-policed and agents and bookers eschew rip-off imitators. One of the comics told me about a woman comic that was performing Stephen Wright's act, WORD-FOR-WORD.

Alas, she never got an HBO Special or was booked on Leno.

Most great comics, like great magicians, are INIMITABLE. That is, they cannot be copied.

Onward...
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 05/05/04 02:20 PM

Most comedians are so used to having their material ripped off that many have material about having their material ripped off. It doesnt matter if it was published in any way (print, audio or audio-visual) or if its only been seen in live performances. Its an old story; one that will never, ever, go away (for both performance artscomedy and magic). Thats because there will always be those wholl use anothers material without explicit permission whether they know that they are stealing it or because of a misguided belief that since it has been published it is now public domain.

The problem with magicians is that few of them seem to understand that there is a difference between technique and presentation which, when combined, creates the overall effect. Many magicians freely share their techniques and jealously guard their presentations (as they should). Stop and think about how many performers say/write, You can do the tricks, but please create your own presentations or some such admonition. On video, the presentations are shown so the viewer can see how the effect is supposed to look. In print (in the case when entire presentations are given), its generally done so the reader can understand how a line contributes to the effect from many possible standpoints (justification, attention direction, audience management, etc.)and quite often during the explanation phase of a video, the performer will tell the viewer to refer back to the performance section for reasons such as these. But so many magicians seem to believe that when the entire performance is published, it becomes fair game (technique and presentation) regardless of the oft-ignored request that the readers/viewers workout their own presentations (after all, theres no law against using the materialits been published). Proof of this twisted reality is shown in the Linking Ring reviewers apparent belief that the release Mr. Finneys performance DVD implies that we are free to use his presentations! If this were indeed true then wouldnt we all be free to use all of the material found in the thousands of comedy albums in publication? (Interestingly, just as in magic, comedy has hidden techniques that are freely shared among its artisans, but not the presentations! Those are jealously guardedand continually stolenjust as in magic.)

But Dustin, those books and videos dont always have a request that we not use the presentations!

True enough and, in fact, none of the comedy albums George Carlin has released over the years has a warning to other comedians not to use the material. And the copyright only covers the recordings themselves, doesnt it? So does that make it okay for someone else to use his material? Of course not, so why should magic be any different? It is my personal belief that unless the performer gives explicit permission in the publication (print, audio or audio-visual) or during a live performance/lecture (and some do out of generosity or necessity), no such permission is implied.

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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/05/04 02:24 PM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
... ...great magicians, are INIMITABLE. That is, they cannot be copied.

Onward...
Oh really? Is this why we have a Malini show, a guy touring with some of the Ramsay coin material and a planned tour by another guy teaching the Slydini material?

Onward indeed! Beatlemania was ahead of its time.
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Postby Guest » 05/05/04 02:24 PM

Jon,

I pointed out, in a previous thread, that Will Rogers entertained people for an hour or so with friendly chit chat and a piece of rope. The rope was just a prop.

Stand-up comics do basicly the same thing; they entertain people, with no props (well, most of the time).

Some people think they can buy some magic tricks and become a magician. Not true. But, sometimes the props help those who can't quite make it as "no-prop" stand-up ENTERTAINERS. That is not to say that all of us don't occasionally have our moments of success and "oh hell".

I knew a bunch of rubber-band tricks for five years, but I never did any rubber-band tricks for anybody, until I came up with a really dramatic conclusion for a set of rubber-band routines. You have seen my routine; it concludes with a rubber band to bracelet. I just never believed that I could entertain with simple broken and restored, jumping, and penetration-band effects, until I had that dramatic finish.

Maybe our dealers and book writers need to have a pledge at the beginning of the sales pitch or the beginning of the book that the novice agrees that he/she wants to be an ENTERTAINER and not just somebody who tries to blow somebody's mind.

I know that there are people who think that fooling people is entertainment. I personally believe that my "ENJOYMENT OF MY AUDIENCE" is MY reason for doing magic. If I do not have a good time, I figure I have failed. Why else would I do impromptu magic at every opportunity? And I enjoy my audience a hell of a lot better, if THEY are having a good time (and maybe even being fooled).

And, do you think that Will Rogers cared whether or not the audience members knew how to do his little rope lariet tricks? It just did not matter. So, when it comes right down to the wire, I think that Bill Murry had the right idea in the Movie MEATBALLS: "It just doesn't matter." And that applies to "what" the magician or comedian does. It does not matter, as long as they ENTERTAIN. Anything over and above that is pure kaka....

I sure hope the above does not start a kaka- slinging contest, because that is NOT my intent. I am simply trying to express and perhaps define what I believe this thread is about; but I could be wrong.

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Postby Guest » 05/05/04 03:11 PM

Jonathan:

Copycat lecturers and those who sell "canned" routines do so because they wish to make money. They realize (and please folks; do not keel haul me for saying this) that the young guys today will buy whatever they think will work for them.

The new guys just do not realize that what the "greats" (and sometimes overly-publicized nobodys) have done won't necessarily work for them.

But, do you know what? I kind of like the dramatic presentations of the old timers' routines. Of course, to me, the lectures are entertainment and not something that I should copy.

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Postby Jeff Eline » 05/05/04 06:45 PM

Originally posted by DustinStinett:
If this were indeed true then wouldnt we all be free to use all of the material found in the thousands of comedy albums in publication?
I agree with your premise, not only for the points you've made, but also because someone else's presentation usually won't work for anyone else. You've got to make it your own.

However, I disagree with your example of comedy recordings. We're talking about teaching videos not commercial recordings. I see a difference between those two products.

I think it also gets a bit murky because there are no hard and fast rules.

For example: I posted a questions to Richard Osterlind on the L&L board just after the release of his DVD's. HERE\'S THE LINK to the entire thread. I asked about using a story he told as an intro to an effect.

He said, "It is entirely up to you to use that line and presentation if you want. Since I put out these DVD's, and everyone paid money to get them, you have a right to use anything on them."

Nowhere on the DVD did he give permission, however he feels it's ok.

I agree the safe route is to assume 'no permission', but it is difficult to sort out.

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Postby Dustin Stinett » 05/05/04 08:20 PM

My comparison to comedy recordings goes directly to Michael Finney's performance only DVDs that are being sold as part of his new set (one is comedy with no magic at all). I think only magicians will see these as "teaching videos" with presentational material that can be used when it should only be seen as entertainment or as great examples of how to apply comedy to what are standard pieces of magic.

Here's a question: Some videos have on them a certain piece is "performance only." In my mind, this implies that the secret is not being given for a reason: the performer doesn't want anyone else performing the piece. However, it's being included for entertainment's sake. Am I incorrect in this belief? Or, since it's included on a "teaching video," is the viewer free to try to decipher how it works and then perform the piece?

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Postby Guest » 05/06/04 06:16 AM

Actually, I just thought the "performance only" pieces on a teaching video were filler, thrown in because the performer did NOT have another effect or routine he was willing to part with. If the tape were marketed without the additional performance only material the producer feared bad word of mouth for short-changing the buyers.

That said, I have purchased performance only videos for their entertainment value as well as for study as to how to structure a routine or act. My favorites are the Magic Ranch tapes.

But back to the issue. I think that inclusion of performance only material in what is ostensibly a teaching program understandably creates confusion in the viewer. I think such inclusion is ill-considered and the problems thereby engendered are of the performers' and/or producers' own making.

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Postby Guest » 05/06/04 10:15 AM

On one of the topics (size of the magician pool):

As the population grows, so must the number of entertainers

times

As the economy grows, so must the number of entertainers (more leisure--a real phenomenon, whether we perceive it or not)

However, my experience in Chicago is that the pool of magicians is aging rapidly (no offense here) and therefore likely shrinking as well (and I don't mean physically). At a recent, well-attended lecture, I was the YOUNGEST attendee despite being in my FORTIES.

Is my experience unique? Has this always been the case any way? Or are we in crisis?

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Postby Guest » 05/06/04 10:27 AM

Perhaps our economic dip and the cost of magic is getting to the point that kids just cannot afford all the "new" stuff.

We have a rather large magic camp in the area, run by Kent Cummins. We were getting a steady input of kids from the camp, but things seemed to have slowed down a bit. I suspect money plays a big part in the slow down.

Our local clubs are working hard to encourage kids to join our new SYM club. We have some wonderful kids, and they are avid buyers of magic. There is a financial limit to how much they can buy, however.

I can also say honestly that our young club members are very serious students of magic and work hard to learn and grow.

Do not worry about magic; it has a built-in attraction, and some economic down turns are not going to kill the art.

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Postby Pete Biro » 05/06/04 10:47 AM

We had a H U G E turnout of Teens at the last WMS in Las Vegas, including a group from South Afarica... it looks good from here. :D
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Postby Jon Racherbaumer » 05/06/04 02:54 PM

Empirical evidence is uneven and spotty; however, from where I sit (New Orleans) the average age of club members here(Both SAM and IBM...we have about 65 members, total) is probably 68-70. There are two members under 25. Recruitment is sluggish. It seems like youngsters these days are more attracted to video gaming, virtual-reality stuff, and other things revolving around digitized media.

I started a branch of the Knights of Sleights 18 years ago and the average age of participants in this sodality (who regularly come and go) is about 23-28. There are no dues, officers, by-laws, and so on, and we meet once a week from 6 PM to 1 AM. There is robust interaction each week. This fuels interest. However, few of these participants ever join the national magic organizations.

Brother Lee runs several high-school magic clubs in our area and they are active. A small percentage eventually stay in magic, but none join the local clubs.

Nationwide there are enough young magicians to form a big convention, but I think interest in learning magic (to perform) is less and less.
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Postby Guest » 05/06/04 03:29 PM

In the magic club I belong to I have the feeling that some members feel let down if they have not had a lecture from some visiting magician.

But some of the best meetings we have are where members have the opportunity to perform for the group.

We live in a Playstation world where the search is always on for the next new thing, attention spans are that of a goldfish.

The glut of 'new'(?) magic effects just feeds this quest for something new - lets face it we all are searching for that one trick or effect!

As we get older I suppose we begin to realise there really is 'nothing new under the sun' and if we only re read some of the magic books we own we would find more than enough material. (Says me having just made up a great Paul Curry effect The Case of the Missing Hat from 1965)

Really we need to encourage our young magical friends to read, I suppose.
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/06/04 06:30 PM

Originally posted by Jon Racherbaumer:
...Nationwide there are enough young magicians to form a big convention, but I think interest in learning magic (to perform) is less and less.
Some of us spend time on the magic caf citing the elders and their works so the next generation has a chance to know the names, the works and see some decent examples of how we can get along.

While the language used has to be a bit more 'G' rated there, the discussions progress.

It would be helpful if the classic tomes were reprinted or made more readily available. What is the use in citing DeKolta to those who have no access to the works and writeups? What is the use in citing the books by Conus and Decremps when they are yet unavailable in English?

What needs to happen to make the history more available?
Mundus vult decipi
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Postby Pete Biro » 05/06/04 06:46 PM

Interest. And a willingness to dig, to research, to discover. But as mentioned the attention spans and the INSTANT gratification generation is in deep doo doo.

Just like the Dr. Spock-bred "Anything goes" has led to the problems with the Iraqu prison scandal.
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Postby NCMarsh » 05/06/04 07:57 PM

Much of interest that I want to reply to but I don't have the time (end of the semester is a wench and my new formal close-up show premiers saturday night)...

Pete,

I substantially agree with the particular problems of my generation -- one which has had the means to appease instant desires and, human nature being what it is, has embraced that ability thoughtlessly and in doing so enchained ourselves to passively receiving learning from others...

that said, the tendency of those with power to take perverse pleasure in its abuse, particularly when they have been under the stress of combat and are in a remote outpost where the feel they can act with impunity, is far more ancient than Dr. Spock. (cf. the desecration of Hektor's corpse in Illiad and, while combat is not an aggrevating condition in this case, the description of the causes of the depravity of Tiberius in Tacitus' Annals)

magic comments -- particularly a response to M. Mullins' post above, to follow (hopefully) in a few days.

Yours,

Nathan Marsh
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Postby Guest » 05/06/04 08:27 PM

I am af-frayed that we are once again getting off topic here, but since we did, I would like to say that our young people are not that bad.

I suspect part of the Iraq-prison problem was caused by some sordid comments by the Iraq prisoners toward some combat-weary and short-tempered young lady guards. Female military troops catch enough flak from their own comrads, and a war zone is not a place where "enemy" comments are respected too highly, especially taunts.

I recall a story from Afghanistan several months ago about one of the religious guys who carry cane sticks around the streets to beat people who do something wrong. One of those guys struck a young Airborne female soldier for being a woman and lighting up a cigarette on the street. I'll bet he does not do that again.

Although the prison thing was unexcusable, this tiny incident by a tiny few should not be allowed to blemish our honorable fighting troops (KIDS!!!) who are displaying more courage and restraint than most adults will ever have to expend.

Just my two cents on an isolated event that hightlights even more why we, who are not there, should honor those young fighting troops. So, do you want to get some young people in your clubs?

Put an ad in your papers and ask your radio DJs to invite some vets, who might have an interest in magic, to a meeting. It might help your membership and might also help the kids get over some nightmares...

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Postby Erik Hemming » 05/06/04 08:52 PM

I almost posted a reply to this earlier when I saw Racherbaumer's post. But I hesitated because the thread was not clearly progressing in manner where I thought I could contribute something germaine. I'm still not certain this is germaine...but it's closer.

In the 1980's a guy by the name of Joshua Meyrowitz (sp?)wrote a book called No Sense of Place. (It wouldn't shock me if Racherbaumer has read this, too. He seems to have read most of the truly interesting stuff out there.) It postulated that we were in a time of increasing social change because there was an increasing blurring of distinct social catagories. Meyrowitz blamed TV. He said it gave children access to traditionally "adult" spheres of knowledge. Thus children had a deeper grasp of "adult" activities than previous generations. They knew more about careers, sex, illness, disease, crime...you name it...than would have been possible without access to TV.

Meyrowitz thought this was bad because it lead to a breakdown of social roles. There was no "secret stuff" that would happen only when one became an adult. This lead to a general confusion about what was appropriate, leading to the slippery slope of "almost anything goes." (Pete's post.) There's more to the argument. I'm just scratching the barest surface here.

The point is, there's more than a little bit of his argument going on here. Some of us feel the disjunct...that there was progression at one time that has virtually ceased to exist. Access and social roles have changed--because of how we acquire information. We sometimes point at the easiest target--which is an individual performer--and fail to see the larger picture. How we learn has changed. Access to information has changed. We are in the process of negotiating a playing field where there are a panopoly of operators, each functioning with a unique set of rules, based on almost infinite range of information and governed only by what each of us has chosen to attend to.

I think this speaks to the the general clammor we endure as a society enamoured of easy answers both as magicians and Americans...a guru, a fad, a way to enlightment. We need a narrrowing of the way, but are constantly distracted by the din of OTHER ways calling.

The confusion we see spattered across this board is to be expected. We are negotiating on a playing field that is virtually level, but infintiely wide. The result is much shouting to be heard and subsequent mis-apprehension.

So, are videos bad? No. They are different: They yield differences in those who choose them, as opposed to other mediums. But the same may be said of all those other mediums....

What's the answer, then?

There is one, but it doesn't help:

Choose wisely.

And in the interim, strive for civility.

(All of this may be found in the third installment of the Indiana Jones Trilogy. It is every bit as didactic, but made much more pallatable by the medium. ;) )

Okay...I've bored you all. Now I'm going to bed.

Gordo
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Postby Jonathan Townsend » 05/06/04 09:27 PM

The values we demonstrate are the values we ask others to hold when they deal with us.

Keeping this on the magic side... we have a literature which fades in and out of access. If only folks like Ammar would resurrect oldies from out of print books we would have a better time of it. Too bad the Dekolta expanding die is not in use. What an amazing trick! How about a Harbin tribute? Has anyone tried to do an act using just material that can be found in Scot's Discoverie?

What kind of example do you set?
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Postby NCMarsh » 05/06/04 10:05 PM

Gordon,

Greatly enjoyed your post...fodder for thought

It seems to me that we live in a world in which education is increasingly treated as a commodity...a thing to be traded for and upon in the open market and hence a thing that must be reduced to the measurable...largely absent is the notion of liberal learning as a means of freedom and a pre-requisite for participation in a free republic...

I see certain offerings in magic which, in addition to undercutting the possibility of a real rite of passage and undermining a sense of secrecy and hierarchy within magical culture (analogous to the claims about the collapse of social roles in the culture at large) also seem governed by the unfortunate postulate that "information is education" and, by educating in ways which inculcate a dependence upon the teacher, by allowing for passive learning, risk binding the student in the chains of his own indolence and squander an oppurtunity for real growth.

best,

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Postby Guest » 05/07/04 08:00 AM

[QUOTE]Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
[QB] "If only folks. . .would resurrect oldies from out of print books we would have a better time of it."

I believe you have provided a good direction for this thread to proceed. Based upon your quote above, let us list some specific tricks and routines from the ancient and modern past that we would like to see in new publications. I hope this does not turn in to a "My Favorite Trick" list. I would prefer to address a serious academic look at real magic "tricks", from the beginning, despite any arguments which might be posed against it, because "it's already been printed."

To begin, what trick or tricks do you suppose the first caveman or witchdoctor did, and how were they different then and now? (And we do not need to get into a pee pee contest about which Abdul was the first to apply sleight of hand to Hindu Cups and Balls routines.)

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