IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

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Q. Kumber
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby Q. Kumber » August 4th, 2008, 3:07 am

There's something terribly unnatural about soup that's served cold. Just like certain brands of biscuits (cookies) that are supposed to be good for you.

opie
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby opie » August 4th, 2008, 9:23 am

Dustin,

Thanks for the comment regarding salsa. It led me to check out Gazpacho. It appears to be a seminal link to our southwestern salsa that we very much enjoy with chips. Here is a wiki on it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gazpacho

And for those who might like to try it, here are dozens of recipes for it:

http://www.cooks.com/rec/search/0,1-0,gaspacho,FF.html

Thanks again....I hope I do not develop an allergy to tomatoes...All the recipes look so good and simple to make...

opie

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 4th, 2008, 9:53 am

Gazpacho soup?
Famous last words

www.youtube.com/watch?v=rLiEn0AjiBw

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

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby Bill Palmer » August 5th, 2008, 3:54 pm

I guess the quality of the banquet depended on which night you attended and where you were sitting in the room. We were sitting on the stage left side of the room, right in the middle of that section. I'm not sure what serving system they were using, but our table was the last one our server provided food to.

I noticed that our food came out from the kitchen on uncovered platters, which may have made a difference in the temperature. I saw that some came out on covered dishes. This will make a difference.

If I hadn't worked in hotels and restaurants for about 20 years, I would have passed this off as an unavoidable problem, but I've worked in some really good hotels, and have seen really efficient serving staff at work. Our servers seemed to be confused as to how things were supposed to be done.
Bill Palmer, MIMC

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby Dustin Stinett » August 5th, 2008, 6:32 pm

I just got called on something thatupon reflectionwas a very poor choice of words on my part.

I referred to the two men who assisted Wayne Dobson as morons. That was out of line (and I have edited the review accordingly). Given the situationan enormous stage, 2,000 people, and trying to keep up with Waynetheir task couldnt have been as easy as I have always perceived it to be (such is the benefit of knowing what comes next).

I sincerely apologize to both of these guys.

Dustin

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby Dustin Stinett » August 5th, 2008, 7:25 pm

I have some other catching up to do on a few posts here, so if I may:

First, my thanks to everyones kind comments. I appreciate them. I alsobelieve it or notappreciate the criticisms.

My thanks go out to John Archer for filling in the missing names from the table the night of the banquet. Rob also PMd me to fill me in but John beat me to the punch on posting.

Paul Q wrote:I wonder if you might give your two cents on what, for you, would be the perfect convention.

(Max Maven was there and he wasn't used for anything?1?!.........a crime!)


Well, if Max Maven is in town, he certainly would be part of my convention. Actually, Max wouldnt just be in town because I would have hired him in the first place, so theres that question answered. I can state with all certainty that there were folks there who truly believed that Max was going to be one of the surprises of the convention. They were surprised to discover that he really was there just to scout talent for the Magic Castle.

I would have also used Mike Caveney (MC) and Michael Ammar (for the missing magic tricks lecture) at this event.

If I want an act to do magic, juggling, and shtick, I hire Charlie Frye. Period.

Michael Close does the music at my convention and I also have the man perform and/or lecture.

The perfect convention

Thats an impossible task (you cannot please everyone), but this one actually had the opportunity to be close to it. If you read through my review, note what I think were the scheduling issues (that could have been handled pretty easily in my viewgranted, I could be really wrong about that), and fix those, I dont have a lot to whine about. Also add a couple more lectures to fill in the really large open blocks and its a very good convention (versus just good). I dont mind a few medium-sized blocksa couple of hoursof free time. Five or more is not good.

However, I do think that six days (seven really, since things were hoping on the Sunday before) is just too long. Like a good show, a great convention leaves you wanting just a little bit more, not being glad its over. For example, the LA History Conference is perfect in this regard: Three days and out. Sometimes theres a little extra perk on the Sunday following (an open house at Owens or other such events).

The Dealers room is open in the morning and the events dont start until the afternoon. Theres an evening break and then the evening events start. Then the dealers open in the late evening.

You leave that event wishing it wasnt over, but absolutely satisfied with what you received for your registration.

So I guess thats my perfect convention: Short, well scheduled, with the best talent that can be mustered.

Dustin

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby Steve Axtell » August 5th, 2008, 9:19 pm

Here are a couple of videos of the amazing Dealer Room....this is the Axtell Expressions booth featuring the Hands-Free Magic Toucan Puppet.. Genii's booth is in the background.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHYkhMHvNR4&NR=1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kSCARVUq4CA

Here is a pic of Mac King, Steve Axtell & Max Maven at the convention.
http://www.axtell.com/remote/axmacmaxsm.jpg

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby MaxNY » August 6th, 2008, 1:27 am

6,7 days...Don't forget the Jay Marshall auction that Sunday...That took up half a day.

I started to compile a list in the last two or three functioning brain cells...(years of abuse, and even they are like "Whoz got that map?")...How many times I have seen this act, or that MC...and came to the hard hitting but obvious conclusion that we have a shortage of magic acts. And my solution, you gotta take chances. I can think of a certain guy in NY that always does a great job as MC. He can come up with a joke about a situation that happened two minutes ago...We all know some guy from the local clubs...The convention runners seem to be stuck in a rut. I saw this happen at the Tannen's convention. Things need to be rattled. How about hiring Joe Delion? Or doing a late evening "raw" show with Pizzi. This combined convention was a break from the ordinary, but from what I understand it came from a Kiwi?!? Where's that illusionist that appeared on TWGM, in a wheel-chair? He had some unique illusions. Bring in some Chinese guy with 50 waterbowls. And where was the juggler that always steals the show? I have stated many times on this forum, I hated that guy...now I want him back. That's what I loved about P&T'ers Sin City Show...that had that freak show guy from Lollapalozza, that the kids all like. These older guys can be hip to "strange". Nothing wrong with getting a show commitee together that have some ink, or a wierd piercing. There is just a little too much Hank Williams, and not enough Williams sisters. Oh, yeah, and speaking about nepotism.....

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby Richard Hatch » August 8th, 2008, 12:24 am

For those who felt there were not enough events scheduled to fill the available time in Louisville, check out the jam packed line up of events at the upcoming IBM Ring Convention:
http://www.britishring.org.uk/About_us/ ... ramme.html
Now that's a full convention schedule!

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby erdnasephile » August 8th, 2008, 10:10 am

Wow! What a convention that will be! For example, check out the two events at midnight on the 26th--that'd be one tough choice to make. All that plus Hollingworth, Kohler, Hobson, Weber, et al.--sounds like it's got the "Convention of the Century" beat hands down.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 18th, 2008, 7:03 pm

I just returned from Toronto and found the September 2008 issue of MUM waiting for me. In the past year, Editor John Moehring has developed a sense of candor in his writings that is to be commended. This issue of MUM contains 26 pages of coverage of the IBM/SAM convention in Louisville. His opinions mirror many of those expressed on this Forum, and his coverage, along with the pieces written by others on his staff is excellent, fair, and balanced. The results of a survey taken by the convention committee after the convention are also revealed and are interesting as well.

The big one is that, when asked if there should be another combined convention, 88% percent of the respondents said "yes." Will the powers that be resond to the overwhelming desires of their members? Time will tell.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Nicholas Carifo » August 19th, 2008, 1:01 am

The article from MUM Richard refers to, is also available for download in full color, pdf format from the SAM site directly at the link below:

DOWNLOAD ARTICLE HERE IN PDF FORM: (ADOBE ACROBAT READER):
http://www.magicsam.com/publicdownloads ... rticle.pdf

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Kohl » August 19th, 2008, 2:26 am

I apologize for this long winded reply to the critical comments made by Dustin Stinett concerning our act. I know the comments could have been much worse, but I still feel the need to give my feelings about this. I wish it was shorter, but here goes.

Regarding my so called outburst involving Dustin Stinett's review of our act, I will admit that I let my reaction get the best of me in the heat of the moment. I certainly have no problem with someone calling us old, and dated.... that's what we are. I know for a fact that there are hundreds of folks out there that have seen us far too many time... hell, I'm a bit tired of seeing us myself. We have never asked to perform at any convention, in fact we have turned down many a convention for fear that people will start putting us down for the overexposure... we never wanted that to happen. The producers
have kept wanting us back and sometimes we would give in.

The remark that I took exception to what that Dustin felt he had to tell everyone that he could not sit through our act and had to leave the theater. Saying that, to me, was just meant to be an insult. It is obvious that he just hates our act and has seen it far too many times. "No offense". but I do find it sad that those who write these reviews can't seem to take into consideration how the majority of the audience is accepting the act. I feel that most of the audience was with us, at least i hope that was the case.

I know this was not one of our better shows. We make no excuses, but we did have several problems before the show even started, but in general we did pretty much everything we wanted to do. I do get the feeling that at 70 years of age I may be slowing down... This is a very physical act and requires all three of us to put out every show. I always feel we do that, but perhaps not that night. To slow the bleeding a bit, we did get incredible compliments from Norm Nielson, Zaney Blaney, Mike Finney, Gene Anderson, and even Yengeniy Voronin who I had never met... he perhaps paid us the biggest compliment in stating we were the inspiration for his act. I truly am not sure if that is good or bad. I mention this not to boast in any way, but to show "you just can't please everyone".

As far as the comment about resting on our laurels (whatever they may be).... that has never happened. We constintly try to come up with new ideas and always beat ourselves up when we feel we did a poor show. Unfortunately the wonderful new ideas haven't formulized in my brain as yet and at this stage they probably never will.

Lastly, I actually told Craig Mitchell that I appreciated his comments... I think they were very fair and weren't printed for everyone to read just to embarrass us without any constructive criticism whatsoever. This is a father, brother, daughter act Dustin is putting down and since I'm the old man I don't take lightly to criticism meant only to belittle my family that puts so much into each performance. Criticism I can take, put-downs are another matter. Our whole purpose in putting this act together and performing for this wonderful magic community has always been about making people laugh. Dustin did indeed take some of the desire out of working magic conventions, but if coming back could possible give him heart burn and cronic acne, then I will definately reconsider.

Kohl and Company

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Dustin Stinett » August 19th, 2008, 12:51 pm

Oh noooooo...not acne!

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby 000 » August 19th, 2008, 12:59 pm

Come on Stinett, you can do better than that..............

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 19th, 2008, 2:29 pm

He doesn't need to do "better than that."

Dustin doesn't need to make any further response. I admire both parties here for stating their honest opinions ... that's what free speech is about.

I respect Dustin's right to say what he said.

I respect Kohl's right to respond.

And that's really the end of the story in this case.

Kohl and Company is a classic act and I've enjoyed it many times.
But it had the disadvantage of coming at the end of a show that was not well-booked. Even though it's not a conventional way to look at things, I would never want to see another comedy act follow Michael Finney. It's just bad planning. Finney KILLED, and anyone doing comedy after that is going to have a tough time. Kohl and Company suffered from that problem in this show.

Kohl and Company don't have to prove anything to anyone: they've been around long enough. "Classic funny" will always be funny. Unless you're booked after someone like Finney, who keys into the room and takes it by the short and curlies. Kohl and Company should never have been put in that position. And much of the criticism of the convention can be traced back to the booking and scheduling.

I look to the next combined IBM/SAM convention to take place in 2010 because of what I think may be low turnouts for their independent conventions in 2009. I expect the convention will be five days rather than six. I expect less prize money will be given away, but that the quality of the contestants will remain at about the same level as the 2008 convention. I expect the attendence to be about 1400 to 1500 rather than the almost 1900 this time.

Someone print that out and save it, so you can tell me what a boob I am in 2010 when we're still going to different cities and there are only 600 people at each convention.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Kohl » August 19th, 2008, 3:45 pm

Thank you Richard... that was very kind and fair of you to respond like you did. Trying to follow Mike Finney who could close any show is indeed difficult, but someone had to do it in this case and we gave (what we had hoped) was our best shot. Again your comments meant a lot to us.

End of story!!

Kohl and Company

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby 000 » August 19th, 2008, 4:09 pm

Regarding the hilarious Michael Finney, different strokes for different folk but I for one share ( the measured) sentiments by Craig Mitchell in his convention reviews. (Day 3)

'Unfortunately no one asked Mike Finney whether he believed it appropiate to grope an 18 year old female volunteer in front of 2000 spectators for the sake of a cheap laugh- as he had done the night before on the Gala Show'

As for our critic Dustin, his words speak for themselves

'And I have also learned that if a few words can keep an act I no longer care to see away from any conventions that I might attend in the future, well then my work here is done.'

(from By the Authority vested in me)

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Terry » August 19th, 2008, 6:15 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:He doesn't need to do "better than that."
I look to the next combined IBM/SAM convention to take place in 2010 because of what I think may be low turnouts for their independent conventions in 2009. I expect the convention will be five days rather than six. I expect less prize money will be given away, but that the quality of the contestants will remain at about the same level as the 2008 convention. I expect the attendence to be about 1400 to 1500 rather than the almost 1900 this time.

Someone print that out and save it, so you can tell me what a boob I am in 2010 when we're still going to different cities and there are only 600 people at each convention.


I noticed the IBM is using the graduated pricing again for 2009. The issue is that they have not posted any information and the lowest rate expired August 16th.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

After being burned with the 2008 combined, there may be less people willing to get trapped in another under valued convention.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Donal Chayce » August 19th, 2008, 6:29 pm

Nicholas Carifo wrote:The article from MUM Richard refers to, is also available for download in full color, pdf format from the SAM site directly at the link below:

DOWNLOAD ARTICLE HERE IN PDF FORM: (ADOBE ACROBAT READER):
http://www.magicsam.com/publicdownloads ... rticle.pdf


Thanks for the link!
The MacGician®

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Dustin Stinett » August 20th, 2008, 2:24 am

000 wrote: As for our critic Dustin, his words speak for themselves

'And I have also learned that if a few words can keep an act I no longer care to see away from any conventions that I might attend in the future, well then my work here is done.'


000,

If you are going to quote someone, you should do so completely or, at the very least, put in ellipses where youve redacted words you feel irrelevant. In this case, the words you chose to leave out are not irrelevant. So, here is the complete passage you chose to misquote:

And I have also learned that if a few wordseven those qualified by no offensecan keep an act I no longer care to see away from any conventions that I might attend in the future, well then my work here is done. Dustin Stinett from By the Authority Vested in Me (August 2, 2008).

Of course the issue may very well be moot. It appears that Mr. Kohlhafer has changed his mindthus delivering to me a decisive loss in this regardand I will probably be bringing Alka-Seltzer and Clearasil to all future magic conventions.

Dustin

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby 000 » August 20th, 2008, 8:17 am

If 'no offence' was intended, it would appear not to have come across that way. To qoute

" Saying that to me, was just meant to be an insult" ( referring to your stated fact that you could not sit through the act and had to leave the theatre.)

You committed the cardinal sin of the critic, namely letting your judgement be clouded by your personal likes and dislikes.

You state further (in By the authority vested in me)

"But I too have my aspirations and inspirations just as, I'm sure, those who I critisize do"

Surely then, if you aspire to be a revered critic, you ought at the very least watch the performance! Or am I missing something here?

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Ken Northridge » August 20th, 2008, 8:35 am

Dustin certainly has the right to his opinion, although he even admits he was a bit harsh in areas. But I must say, many he has criticized, like Kohl and Company, Todd Charles, and Duane Laflin, I have seen in a different venue and they absolutely brought the house down with applause and approval!

On a much smaller scale, it amazes me how often I will do two birthday parties on the same day and get two totally different reactions from the audience. At one I am a god! The children are listening to every word, they applaud and laugh and are respectful. Then Ill go to a different location and the kids could care less, cant wait to get back to the moon bounce or their game boy and are very disrespectful. Its the same exact show! Of course, I try to learn from these experiences and adapt. But after 30 years I am still learning. I suspect, even after their many years of experience, that Kohl and Company are sill learning too.

Mr. Kohl, you have no need to explain yourself. You are an outstanding entertainer that has brought laughter to millions.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 20th, 2008, 12:05 pm

000 wrote, "You committed the cardinal sin of the critic, namely letting your judgement be clouded by your personal likes and dislikes."

One's judgment is NOT clouded by personal likes and dislikes: it is informed by them. Do you think all criticism is something that comes from some part of the writer where his likes and dislikes have been magically banished?

I WANT the educated writer's likes and dislikes to be on full display in his reviews, whether it be here or in Genii.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Dustin Stinett » August 20th, 2008, 4:01 pm

000 wrote:You committed the cardinal sin of the critic, namely letting your judgement [sic] be clouded by your personal likes and dislikes.


I would say that you are a victim of the erroneous notion that critics canand shouldonly be objective.

Thats just plain wrong since it regards a task that is inherently subjective. A critic who claims to be 100 percent objective is either a liar or deluded. In either case, he/she should not be trusted.

Critics express their opinions and opinions must have a foundation. That foundation starts with personal likes and dislikes; biases if you will. The rest of the foundation is made up of knowledge and/or experience. (But that having been said, always remember the old adage that says One does not need to be a chicken to know when an egg is rotten.)

If all reviews were truly objective, I believe they would be quite boring. Everyone would have the same views on every subject and there would be little need for multiple reviewers.

Mike Close could just do everything for us (of course, dare I say, Mike Closethank goodnesshas his biases).

Without bias, reviewers would be objective robots listing only the details of whatever is being reviewed; who cares for that?

But I say, Viv la difference! And that difference can only be as a result of our personal likes and dislikes.

The key is that the critic owns up to those biases and tells his readers what they are. If there is a flaw in my writing, its that I am unable to always do so as subtly as Id like. So, I just come right out and say it. But my biases have always beenand always will bemade known.

For example, anyone who reads my DVD reviews knows by now that I have a bias against those who do not give credit when and where it is due. I have refused recommendation solely on this bias even when the tricks, performances, and production qualities are good. But anyone who does not care about such things as credit will take my bias into consideration when making their decision whether or not to buy: Thats their part in this game. After all, the reader must take an active role, not a passive one: Otherwise, they too will become objective robots and buy whatever they are told to buy. But instead, the smart reader applies his or her own biases to the process.

And the beat goes on.

As for this review of the convention, had it just been an objective one, I would have only written out a list of events and acts. So would have Craig Mitchell and, since his reviews came before mine, there would have been no need for mine.

How many objective lists of events and acts does one need? And just how boring would that be? You can get that from the program (not that the program was boring; there was a lot of good material in that program, if I may say so myself).

000 wrote:If 'no offence' was intended, it would appear not to have come across that way.


I cannot help it if Mr. Kohlhafer is insulted by the fact that I am no longer amused by the act. But I made it glaringly clear that this was my belief. I never implied that the rest of the audience should have followed me out of the theater (nor did I mention how many others also came into the lobby during his performance, but I certainly could have since I was not alone out there). Frankly, if the opinion of one person is so devastating to him, he should grow thicker skin.

000 wrote:you ought at the very least watch the performance! Or am I missing something here?


Yes: youre missing the fact that (as I wrote), over thirty years, I had seen this actwhich remains all but unchanged in that timemany times and I didnt feel the need to see it again. I was assured by several people who did remain in their seat that, in fact, there was nothing new to see. (It was a good time to stretch my legs, which I needed at the time. Had I known I would not be allowed back into the theater, I may not have left.)

000 wrote:Surely then, if you aspire to be a revered critic


You are presuming what my aspirations are regarding Aleck Woollcott. Your presumptions are no more correct than had you assumed I too wished I had been born a woman (according to Anita Loos). Im perfectly contented with my gender and current station. But I must say that the fact that seeing this threadwhich was about the IBM/SAM Combined Conventionbeing turned into one about me would make Woollcott proud.

Dustin

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century (?)

Postby Dale Salwak » August 20th, 2008, 5:35 pm

Three years of planning and anticipation and the IBM-SAM combined convention is now a memory. To judge from the many e-mailed messages I have received, the convention more than met expectations. It was a wonderfully rich six days of magic, competitions, lectures, and relaxed socializing. It's so encouraging to see the health of our craft worldwide. How glad I am that I had a chance to attend and participate. Congratulations to everyone connected with its planning.
During my time there I had a long talk with the great Veronin. We walked about why we love to perform. Other magicians - including many of the contestants - later joined the discussion. Here's what we came up with:
We perform because we have an innate need to perform.
We perform because we want to connect with people's hearts at the deepest levels possible.
We perform because we are passionate about our craft.
We perform because we want to make full use of our allotted time.
We perform because since childhood we have felt most comfortable before an audience.
We perform because we need to take risks.
We perform because we know that to stop performing would be a form of self-destruction.
We perform because it is then that we are most alive.
Finally, we perform because it gives us great joy to do so. One night over supper I asked my mother, now eighty-six, what music means to her. She could well have had magicians in mind when she said: "It means everything to me. It's therapy. It's pleasure. It puts me inside another world. It's the accomplishment. Something you can do by yourself. It works on the imagination. It's a deep feeling. Music reaches so deep that I can't explain it." Magic and performing touches us in just such a way.
My joy that comes from this profession has sustained me through all kinds of challenges. It is a safe haven to which I can retreat and from which I emerge emboldened and clarified and confident - and very thankful.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby John Archer » August 20th, 2008, 5:38 pm

Reviews are always going to cause a ruccus. Surely honesty and accuracy are more important than protecting egos. Personally I love Khol and Co, but I had only seen them once before and it was great to see the act again I think they are great. I met Dustin for the First time in Louisville and shared a banquet table with him, he was a pleasure to be with. I dare say that if I sat and ate the same meal with him for thirty years I may be slightly more inclined to make an excuse and leave the table. Say it as you see it and if enough people say the same thing then maybe we should take a look at ourselves.
A reviewer on this forum reviewed me as 'presented the same schtick as seen at Blackpool ' (or thereabouts) and implied that the show could have been improved by cutting myself and Roxanne. Now that is his opinion, not helpful to people who weren't at Blackpool and deviod of the fact that I was actually asked by Hank Moorehouse to do what I did at Blackpool, since I presume he realised it would be a different audience. Nevertheless it is his opinion and he is entitled to it and I can't complain (too much). Thankfully other reviews, both here and elswhere were slightly more gracious to me.
We can get 30 great reviews and one bad one and it is the bad one that sticks in our memory. Like the one person not laughing in the audience our eyes just get drawn to them...

Some people won't like us, some shows won't be as good as others and sometimes the people who don't like us write about the shows that weren't the best....

Well done Dustin, well done Khol and Company, anyone for coffee?

John

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Dale Salwak » August 20th, 2008, 5:46 pm

Well said, John. My thoughts on criticism in print of new and up and coming acts are generally well-known, but to summarize:
Late in 1965, after my first appearance at a national convention, I wrote to a friend. It had been one of the most exciting days of my career. My act had been well received, reviewers were encouraging, but I sought something more the advice from a performer who was in his career where I dreamed of being someday. He wrote back:
You have never seen my criticism of acts in print. I wont do this for several reasons. In the first place the truth would shatter many. In the second place I wont offer any criticism unless asked for it, and then I charge a lot. However, in your case, its different. I wont charge you, but I hope you will pay attention.
I did pay attention. His full page of criticism was blunt and honest and of great value. It came from someone who had been everywhere, read everything, and seen everyone. He spoke from experience. Most important, I had asked for it, and he had offered it not in the public forum, but in private, and not out of spite, but out of a genuine desire to give direction.
Every one of us needs a mentor or two. Ideally these are tried and trusted friends who will be objective and honest, telling us what we need to hear (and not necessarily what we would like to hear) in a way that will do the most good.
I know from experience how vulnerable a young performer can be as he is first developing, how easily he can be confused by conflicting or intentionally unkind opinions. Fortunately, I think, I spent my first sixteen years in a small town on the East coast away from anyone (with one exception) who had the slightest idea of what it meant to be a magician. Later when I began to attend conventions, with my formative years behind me, I went to learn. I absorbed everything. I didnt talk much in those days because I didnt know much. I was also in awe of everyone I met.
All through the 1960s and into the early 1970s I was so unsure of myself. It took me a solid ten years of performing night after night in front of all kinds of audiences and under all kinds of circumstances before I began to find myself as a performer. Perhaps for that reason alone I am reluctant to criticize others in public. I know how hard it is to take command of the stage.
From summers in a Hollywood burlesque house at $35 a week to many wonderful engagements in the basement of the Magic Castle, from one-nighters at parties, schools, conventions, and barbeques to daylong trade shows and, eventually casino shows and television I never turned down anything on the excuse that I couldnt do it. I found a way to do it because it never occurred to me to do otherwise and because I loved the work. How unfortunate it is in our business when a performer is told he or she cant do something and without trying, he believes that.
Of course, its true that anyone who wants to succeed badly enough as a performer will do so in spite of any odds against him. Norm Nielsen tells of a time in the mid-1950s that he performed on a magicians show in Chicago. He was wearing tails and working with colored cigarettes and colored doves. Johnny Thompson was also on the show and had a friend film Norms act. About thirty years later Norm viewed the film with educated eyes and was stunned, absolutely astounded. It occurred to him that if he could give the performer on the screen any advice at all it would be, Get out of the business and find something you can do.
All of us need to take to heart the words, Every professional was first an amateur. Rarely does the working professional criticize others in public. He doesnt have the time, he doesnt need to. Hes too busy working on his own act. When he does discuss another act (and this is part of the generous spirit in most magicians) its not to tear down, but to understand what worked and what didnt and why.
Those who have a successful career are their severest critics. They know precisely what they are doing. There is in the back of each performers head a voice that acts as a monitor and says from time to time, Watch it! Are you listening? Be honest! This is not arrogance. This is just a quiet confidence that comes to one after years of thinking, reading, experimenting, performing and seeing results. There is no other way.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby John Archer » August 20th, 2008, 5:59 pm

Wise words Dale.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby CraigMitchell » August 21st, 2008, 3:26 am

Hi John

My exact quote was as follows:

"With the show running at 2 1/2 hours - it was way too long. John Archer presented the same schtick as seen at Blackpool - and in the interests of brevity should have been cut - as should have Roxanne who presented a 'new' act featuring impressions based on her different hair styles ( Princess Leia / Madonna etc. )"

Unfortunately my sentiment wasn't correctly phrased. The show that evening was exceptionally long - and if required to, I would have suggested cutting yourself & Roxanne. Not because you had been seen at Blackpool - but because the show went on and on and on.

Somebody else would make an entirely different call - and that's the joy of discussion.

For interest - my take on your act at Blackpool:

"Comedian Jon Archer was the undeniable hit whose act featured an unwitting elderly gentleman - "Eric" - who was totally oblivious to anyone or anything happening on stage. You could not have planned for such a comic event if you tried. "

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby John Archer » August 21st, 2008, 4:09 am

I'm not arguing with you Craig :-) just pointing out, as you are too, that people have opinions, sometimes they seem harsh and sometimes other people have different opinions. As an act it is a challenge to take it on the chin while others may be patting you on the back. Unfortunately that is what we have to do. I'm sure if we ever meet I will still be civil with you. My personal view is that Blackpool was a much better performance, for many reasons. People who have seen me before know that I can do much more than I did at Louisville. Having said that, I feel it was a 'fair' performance and also having said that, you have a right to give your opinion.
I have had bad reviews in the past and I am sure I will have bad ones in the future. When they all start being bad I may give up ;-)

Regards,

John

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby 000 » August 21st, 2008, 8:17 am

To Dustin
Firstly, I enjoyed your review of the convention. I also regard your Genii reviews highly and am not ashamed to admit that based on your reviews have I decided whether to proceed or not with the purchase of a certain Dvd. Are we clear?
Secondly, and with the benefit of hindsight, you will agree we all make mistakes...its whether we learn from our mistakes that is important. I still think you gave family Kohl a raw deal review. When confronted with this consider the following: pause, reflect, say the right thing, and move on. After all getting it right 99% of the time aint bad is it now?

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 21st, 2008, 10:35 am

First, Archer, you were great in Louisville--one of the highlights of the show.

Second, I don't want to hear any more comments about Dustin's remarks re Kohl and Company. The man is entitled to his opinion: PERIOD.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Ken Northridge » August 21st, 2008, 12:20 pm

I don't want to hear any more comments about Dustin's remarks re Kohl and Company. The man is entitled to his opinion: PERIOD.


Mr. Kaufman,

Of course Dustin is entitled to his opinion. But are you saying that only a few are allowed to disagree? Why are you slamming the door on further discussion? What kind of a forum is this?

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 21st, 2008, 12:47 pm

It's my Forum. Plenty of folks have had their say--there has been plenty of discussion. We're done with the part about Kohl and Company. If you want to discuss something else about the convention, be my guest.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Jon Racherbaumer » August 21st, 2008, 6:17 pm

Almost 40 years ago I submitted a short piece in my then controversial (?) magazine, THE HIEROPHANT. This magazine included satire and candid commentary; and, as a result, also generated lots of "hate mail," anonymous screeds, and negative press. The purpose of the "piece" was to generate thoughtful discussion or to give the knee-jerkers time to "pause and perhaps think."

Everybody ultimately is a critic. We evaluate accordingly to what we know and by what criteria we embrace. This should surprise no one.

I was asked to comment on the close-up contests, a challenging task because of the number of words allowed to draft your commentary, which is usually limited to a few sentence--scarcely enough to SUMMARIZE anything or anybody. The form, ultimately, is unsatisfactory.

Here is what I wrote several years ago:

13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT CRITICISM
Jon Racherbaumer

I. Begin with a phenomenon: the Performance. Everyone in the audience is a critic. Criticism itself is a Performance, with its own audience. The best spectators can be the best critics.

II. Northrop Frye: "A public that tries to do without criticism, and asserts that it knows what it wants or likes, brutalizes the arts and loses its cultural memory... The only way to forestall the work of criticism is through censorship, which has the same relation to criticism that lynching has to justice.

III. Performers ignore critics or refute them, as though they were natural enemies. Both are part of the Total Performance, extending beyond the fringe, the falling curtain, picture fade-outs and dissolves, and the printed Finis. The audience is between, their vicarious brothers.

IV. R. Buckminster Fuller has written: "The sum of the relationship of all our experiences is always tetrahedronal." Elsewhere: "What we mean by understanding is: apprehending and comprehending all the interrelationships of experience. Understanding is symmetrically tetrahedronal." Extraordinary statements! Critics, officially appointed and credentialed to be responsible, should be interested in Understanding. They should be aware of relationships existing in the subject being examined. The coordinate system of the Performance is omni-dimensional. His interpretation-presentation should be equal to the event.

V. The Greek krisis has adjective, kritikos, meaning "able to discern - judge - discuss, " hence a critic, hence the Latin criticus, hence the English wordscritic, critical, criticism, and criticize. Denotatively we are stuck with1. A person who judges, evaluates, or criticizes.

VI. Most of the time criticism is wholly emotional and characterized by one-dimensionality, harshness, triviality, and captiousness. The eye-for-an eye school, saying, "Who are you to talk, you sonufabitch?" Criticism in our "field" (a dubious word) is usually instigated, sustained, and subdued by emotion. This energy is modified by degrees of maturity, knowledge, and intelligence. Ergo: "Card tricks stink!

VII. "To say that one does not like something is not to say that one hates it; it is only to say that one is indifferent to it, or wishes it were not there, for it may occupy the space that could be filled with something one positively likes. This is Allen Tate speaking.

VIII. "Criticism is an indefinite set of devices for 'presenting' not 'proving' the merits of works of art. It has none of the stability of logical truth, scientific method, legal and moral law. It varies with time, place, and audience, while not being subject to these limitations. This is Margaret Macdonald speaking.

IX. George Johnstone, half-hip and breezy columnist for The New Tops is very fond of quoting Channing Pollack's: "Critics are legless men who teach running. Johnstone is an entertainer. He is the critic's enemy: the other sideor should we say?another side. To his quote add Cyril Connolly's: "The entertainer suffers from no criticism whateverThe fate of the entertainer is simply to go on till he wakes up one morning to find himself obscure. Critics, too, wake up and find themselves obscure. This is part of the history of Total Performance.

X. Many times, particularly if we feel like we are under attack, criticism is associated with denunciation. A put-down is not subversion. A put-down is polarization. Critic with Performer, not Critic versus Performer. Two performances, two presentations. Values, evaluation. Thoughts, afterthoughts. A marriage and metaphor that can be extended as far as you can imagine.

XI. As critics, we should describe actions rather than report or impute feelings. Taste, however, is not always rational. Is enjoyment analytic? Is applause an equation? These are performer's questions, even though they do not seek their answers. Critics are the unwanted lawyers and philosophical relatives of performers.

XII. Criticism is inescapable and indispensable.

XIII. Criticism is an aspect of loving. It has all the consequences; hence, one sees negativity and aggression, submission and possession. Love is a creative act, transcending aggression, yet transcendence cannot be conceived apart from the expression of it. Et cetera.

*******

Et cetera, indeed.

Onward...

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby CraigMitchell » August 22nd, 2008, 4:38 am

Jon,

Thank you for sharing that piece. You truly are an asset to magic!

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Steve Bryant » August 22nd, 2008, 11:33 am

I believe it was Paul Daniels who said, in effect, "You don't like every show on television. So don't expect everyone to like your show."

I greatly enjoyed this convention, but long ago realized you are in for it if you are honest about what you don't like.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Dustin Stinett » August 22nd, 2008, 8:35 pm

This in from Max Maven (who is on the road and asked that I post for him):

Jon, your item IX warrants clarification:

1. The surname is spelled Pollock.

2. The source of the quote was not the magician, but rather the man for whom he was named, the American writer, playwright and critic (1880 - 1946).

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Dale Salwak » August 23rd, 2008, 2:46 am

I never respond to reviews; everyone is entitled to his or her opinion. But when MaxNY asked of my performance at Louisville, "Isn't that Neil's act?" I knew I couldn't let this go.
With the exception of my cane opening (a 40th birthday gift from Neil who said when he gave it to me, "You need a new opening, kid.") my act isn't even close to Neil's. To try to perform his routines would be to dishonor him and his legacy. All of my material is original with me or represents dramatic variations on routines that I began to learn many years ago. The explosion of silver to end the Zombie routine, for example, I developed in 1966 for my first competition - and I've been using it ever since.
I first met Neil and his wife, Jeanne, in 1963. We became close and confiding friends, sustained by weekly correspondence and daily telephone calls along with visits each year to their home in Colon, Michigan. Every year I attended Abbott's Magic Get-Together - for the privilege of seeing Neil perform his l5 minutes on stage. Those l5 minutes encouraged and sustained me over the next year as I worked at my craft. I remember thinking: This is the way all magic should be presented. On three occasions, Neil visited me in California. He became not only my mentor but also like a second father to me.
Then in 1976, and perhaps sensing (correctly) that I had progressed with my magic as far as I could on my own, Neil wrote to say, "I think I can help you now." Every spring I spent a week in the Fosters home. Although during those sessions we talked over new routines, Neil devoted most of his time to helping me to refine what I already knew. Each year, from 1976 until two years before his passing in 1988, Neil had something fresh to tell me - some nuance, some bit of business, some tiny change in timing or routining. Always he encouraged me to strive to my fullest capacity.
Neils influence changed my whole conception of what it means to be a magician. It wasnt only his effortless artistry. It wasnt only the elegance and perfection with which he did everything, or his loyal fidelity to the smallest detail. To my surprise, during those years as I watched Neil perform and later worked with him, many of my youthful distractions slipped away. I felt assured, and I was filled with a unique feeling of peace, an impression so intense that it seemed to expand into an effable joy that remains with me to this day.
In terms of my respect and love for the art of magic, my attention to detail, and the joy I experience every time I perform yes, onstage you see Neils influence. But in terms of the routines, presentation, music, and bits of business and more, what you saw onstage was me discovered and developed during four decades of honing and working the act. The act continues to take me all over the world and for that, and much more, I am very grateful.
For a fuller treatment of the impact on my life of Neil (as well as Channing Pollock and Marian Chavez) please see the articles I have written in MAGIC (August 2004), LINKING RING (November 2004), THE LINKING RING (June 2006).
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Reason: Misquoted one word


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