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

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 23rd, 2008, 11:23 am

Thank you, Dale, I thought MaxNY's remark was uncalled for and I'm glad you took the time to clarify things. What you've written adds to the history of magic.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby MaxNY » August 23rd, 2008, 4:53 pm

It's about time my name came up, poor Dustin and Craig were taking all the heat when I thought I was most abrasive...

Where, Oh where do I begin? First, I'm tired of old judges, I was tired of old judges way back in 1977 when I competed against Lance, Mac and Hobson. Yeah my act sucked, but I was hoping the judges would look into the creative part of what I was doing. I had an appearing beer can two years before the collapsable Coke can. Diminishing coasters, and a nesting set of airline whiskey bottles...My execution sucked, Lance was... well, Lance. I think, the older the judges get, the more they want to see the classics done well, and are not receptive to newer stuff.

Back during that convention (1977 or 1978) Neil's farewell tour (1st of many) didn't move me. I did like his appearing, disappearing cane...(Isn't that in your act now Dale?) And, I wasn't much into Dale's act either. The stuff I liked was Ger Copper manipulating golden cubes. I liked this bit so much that I spent twenty years handcrafting geodesic domes, appearing spinning in my fingers, spinning, floating like a top, atop a hankerchief. The shape of my desires, a Dodecahedron, appearing... spinning underneath cups ala cups and balls. Nobody has ever had animated objects under the cups, except for chicks. There has always been a problem judging new art. But to let four or five older guys sit in judgement of the art claimed to be the 2nd oldest profession? We are just gonna keep setting things way back.

Will someone tell me where the magic is interacting with a television set? All three guys dropped something from the top of the set, and I guess the "magic" was having the object appear in the set. With music as my timing device I bet I could make it look real the first time I try.

Man, I'm all over the floor with this rant, sorry.
I had 9 minutes of truly new innovative magic that got nixed by the IBM SAM pre-lim judges...Boy, I wonder who they were, anyone care to step forth? Old judges that didn't know what I was doing, because they have never seen this stuff before. For years I tried to think up magic that doesn't follow the seven rules. Old tarts thinking stuff was done by strings. No, much deeper than that, three years of my life just figuring out how to get a spinning ball popping out of a corked container, onto my finger, floating and still spinning around a hankerchief. Do you know how many older guys I have shown this stuff to, just to have them say "it's like a Zombie"...I would just walk away. But, there were others, real heros of mine, that have since passed, that saw something "new in magic". Isn't that we all want? Something new in magic. Why then, let old farts sit in judgement? Because they know more secrets? I think we are guarding an empty box, let some of the younger guys guard the box, trust me...they won't falter.

Old judges. But, here was the biggest problem with the contest... Videos could not be edited. They wanted a 1 camera shoot. So, now let us try and look at my act where geodesic balls are sometimes spinning... the camera doesn't like objests in motion from fifteen feet away. If a ball is spinning at say, 60 times a second, and NTSC Television is 30 frames per second, the object either looks to be standing still, or even reverse spinning. We have all seen the hubcaps turning backwards on the car next to us on the highway.How cool of an illusion is that? How was a 1 camera shoot a good idea? And then to threaten that all edited videos will fail, and the IBM SAM will keep your $50 entrance fee. That reminds me, I better check to see if they cashed in on my check. Too afraid that one of you older fossils would be fooled by editing? A close-up could have helped my problems. Nooooo, 1 camera I was told. Bullschtick. I think we all know when editing tricks have been used on television. I have tried to be the leader of stomping out editing tricks by the street gangs. But, there is no reason to have submissions of 1 camera only. About Half of my balls during my IBM SAM application, couldn't be seen rotating. So, it appeared to be a simple billard ball routine, instead of appearing spinning balls from nowhere. Having stupid rules like 1 camera, shoots me out of the water. Trust me, everyone in that theatre would have known my balls were spinning. Eye to object, much stronger than 20,000 pixels. So, with tail between my legs I go back to my basement and start all over. Little voices asking, "What do they want to see, another Lance?" Birds, canes, candels, cards.....Tired, very tired.

Will some decorated idiot tell me why Pete wasn't even asked his opionion on how to run a magic competition. He has twenty years experience!

Just how f**cking high can MAN flick a G-D-M playing card? And where is the magic in that? Split fans are cool, but after a while, the cards flicking into the air get as Michael Finney would say "Boring".

Dale, believe it or not I have your act, and Neil's from 1977 or 1978 on DVD. It was shot via a Super 8, by someone I know, and probably without your permission. Someday after all this, I will like to shake your hand and say Thanks for representing a time in magic history, and forward you a copy.
I guess I should applaud your views on criticism in Public Forums. I think otherwise. This crazy art of ours is getting too stale, and also the street thugs are setting new guidelines unreachable to the next guy who wants to land on TV, and since we are not regulated by any kind of Union...I feel criticism on this, and other forums very important to our craft.
And, if I may, once again ask the question...What were you guys thinking of, not letting Tim Trust's act into the Final 6. The act had drama, suspense, revenge, secrets that have been only known to three or four, and was probably the easiest to sell, music to die for, to the beat, and was probably the shortest, but sold as the biggest...This wasnt Eugene's "Cut a lady in half, and why are they doing it to the Cha Cha" sword stab, this act was clearly the best act at the whole convention...not even top six?
I want to apologize to Dale about being stale. Your act represents a certain era of magic. The Golden Day's, where the music was from the 30's, the Tux clean, the magic strong and trusted. However, from what I can remember of Mr. Foster's act, your act was a very close second.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 23rd, 2008, 9:17 pm

Max, contests are a mystery to me. Why there were two finalists whose acts were videobased was a mystery to me.

The judges were all experienced in other competitions, but having been a judge at two SAM stage competitions, I can tell that it's a weird experience.

I can see the worst sack of [censored] get on the stage and other judges are telling me how wonderful that act was. I felt like I was on Mars.

In this case it was especially strange because the judges merely selected the finalists in each category. What was the point of that? If the end result is going to be people's choice anyway, why not have the whole thing be people's choice, with every session ending in a ballot? If you're going to let people chose, who needs official judges?

Beats me, but Max: I'd like to see your act! Sounds very interesting. But originality (and even perfect execution) will only get you so far.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby hugmagic » August 23rd, 2008, 9:55 pm

Having seen both Neil Foster's and Dale Salwak's acts numerous times, I can emphatically say they are not the same. Are there influences of Neil? You betcha.

I like to see new magic also but the classics done well to the paying public will often sell better than the new stuff. Even Doug Henning used classics (such as the Linking Rings) in his "new age" magic. He also knew the value of learning from the older more experienced magicians; like Dai Vernon.

Commercial magic acts are what every performer should strive for. Not winning contests unto themselves. Neil Foster and Dale Salwak both had and have very commercial acts that are similar yet different.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby MaxNY » August 23rd, 2008, 11:12 pm

Does any of the brass know why there wasn't any prizes in catagories? Invention, Mentalism, Illusion etc? How did that decision get passed? Do you know how many guys couldn't believe that there were just two prizes? Lots! Guys need to step down. There were parts to this contest/convention that were lost to logic. How many guys competed 35 or so, the website said they were going to take like 60. Is'nt that false advertisement?

Credit where credit is due, Thank God the winner was chosen by "people's choice".
Will anyone else stand-up in this forum and tell us who they voted for and why? Or am I the only guy who has enough balls to say what I think? Wouldn't it be cool to hear the final numbers? Why would they keep that from us?

There needs to be one competition where a guy is handed a shuffled deck of cards...He can do anything he wants to that deck, it is his...and the winner is...

One of my pet peeves with the old Abbott's contest was you "Had to have sheet music, no tape recorders were allowed" So, out of spite I found the toughest piano music with all sorts of chord changes, and scales...just to piss off the Pianist.
1930's crap to win over the old judges...I gave her the music the night before, she couldn't take it, and in the middle reverted back to Aquarius or something easier and modern, I just stared at her like "what are you doing?"

And, I ask Richard Hughes, why should someone not strive to win a magic contest? I too have a comedy act that sells throughout the tri-state NY region (80 gigs a year average for twenty-five years), but would never compete with it. "Commercial" means to make money, not all of us are so gelt-driven that we have to strive for cash. This is a performance art, if you can get paid to work your art, cool. I can't agree with , "Commercial magic acts are what every performer should strive for"...I have been stiving for an act that would fool magicians most of my life. I can fool layman, pretty easy with the right tools. I want to fool magicians, and then laymen, and if someday I can get around to it, Wall Street Cons. I have performed for the top 25 performers of Goldman Sachs, the top 25 Pepsi heads, those SOB's are TOUGH! Best rule I ever learned, never try to con, a con-man.

And, lastly..please someone tell me the difference between the acts. Neil worked the Zombie to a fan, and something with pipes. The Zombie moves, both straight from the Carson book, the card flourishes with round the clock productions, very, very similar. And I swear it was the same music, but if not, my apologies.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 24th, 2008, 12:13 am

I didn't see any of the close-up competition, so I did not vote there, but I certainly voted for the Korean An Ha Lim for the stage final. The guy kicked everyone in the head!
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby John Signa » August 24th, 2008, 1:20 am

Richard Kaufman wrote:In this case it was especially strange because the judges merely selected the finalists in each category. What was the point of that? If the end result is going to be people's choice anyway, why not have the whole thing be people's choice, with every session ending in a ballot? If you're going to let people chose, who needs official judges?


I have little patience for magic competitions; I usually OD at about 2 hours of competition acts. In Louisville, I viewed the role of the judges as one opportunity to separate the wheat from the chaff, allowing me to vote on best of the best. After sitting through the first day's stage acts, I decided I had better uses of my time such as visiting the dealer's room when it wasn't packed, taking a nap, walking around downtown Louisville, etc.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Terry » August 24th, 2008, 8:05 am

John Signa wrote:walking around downtown Louisville, etc.


John,

Did you walk a couple of blocks to the Louisville Slugger museum? Let's see someone produce the bat they have leaning outside.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Tim Ellis » August 24th, 2008, 10:35 am

MaxNY.

How old is an "old judge".

I was 43 when I was on the FISM Jury in Stockholm... just want to know if I should get out before it's too late.... ;)

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Doug Thornton » August 24th, 2008, 11:17 am

Some might say that the Louisville Slugger Museum was as boring as some of the competition. But thats unfair. Its a fine museum if you like to see pieces of wood being rotated, sanded and stamped. Actually, we enjoyed it - it's more for true baseball fans. The Muhammad Ali Center was terrific - lots of things to see - inspiring. And Im not a horse racing fan, but having seen the Kentucky Derby on TV it was a thrill to visit Churchill Downs. If it werent for the convention I would possibly never have visited Louisville. And it was an added treat to catch Don Mclean ("American Pie", "Vincent") with the Louisville Symphony Orchestra Saturday night. I hope many other conventioneers got to sightsee.
Back to the magic. I voted for An Ha Lim. He was the first stage competitor Tuesday at noon and got a deserved standing ovation. Weve all seen endless card productions, but his act was vibrant and had the added touch of colorful cards to break the monotony. (I did laugh when Dustin wrote that at the finals he asked people in the lobby if that guy was still producing cards.) For me, what sealed the deal was Lims music. It was exuberant and built to an explosive climax.
Speaking of music, the gentlemen who made it to the close-up finals Mssrs. Tallon and Gorman who did the synchronized cups and balls - would not have made it through without their music choice. It was the music David Copperfield used for Flying. Its a great piece, but there are about a million six other choices. The performance was not earth-shattering okay, it was a different take on the classic and when the final loads spelled IBM and SAM, the crowd went nuts (and stood up). I smiled, it was a nice piece, but not finalist-worthy.
In close-up, I chose Shawn Farquhar. The winner, Mark Oberon, was fine he had some nice surprises but he hardly smiled he even seemed to grimace, even when he received his prize. Sure, some might say that Shawn's energy is over the top, but he was more likeable and his magic still amazed.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Ralph Mackintosh » August 24th, 2008, 10:51 pm

"I didn't see any of the close-up competition, so I did not vote there, but I certainly voted for the Korean An Ha Lim for the stage final. The guy kicked everyone in the head!"

Here is why judges must see things from such totally different viewpoints. An Ha Lim was for me one of the most boring acts in the contest. I'll produce cards between my fingers, now the same trick from the left side, the same trick from the right side, the same trick with my back turned, now in red, now in pink, now in blue .... OK, OK I get the point - you can produce cards are day - WHO CARES!

That was the same to me as if someone did 10 minutes of linking rings figures or the same two or three billard ball moves over and over with different colored balls each time. It was a JUGGLING act not a MAGIC act. Yes, it was hard - yes, it was complex to perform - yes, I was impressed he could go on so long - but I was also impressed David Blaine could stay in a box for days. To use an Olympics metaphor: Degree of difficulty = 10; Magic entertainment value = two.

Just so you can have something to shoot my opinions down. I voted for David Kaplan. Now there is an ENTERTAINMENT act. Maybe the magical content was a little weak for a magic contest but look who got the most bookings. The convention producers recognized a good act with high entertainment value over an act which was trying to set the world record for stage littering.

Did I mention I don't like most manipulation (juggling) magic acts. Anyone who did more than 60 seconds of back palming card productions and vanishes would get "GONGed" on my judges score sheet.

OK, so I have strong opinions. An Ha Lim was brillant at what he does - maybe the best I've ever seen. I just don't find what he does very magically entertaining.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Nicholas Carifo » August 25th, 2008, 12:47 am

Ralph Mackintosh wrote:OK, OK I get the point - you can produce cards are day - WHO CARES!... ...An Ha Lim was brillant at what he does - maybe the best I've ever seen. I just don't find what he does very magically entertaining.

Ralph Mackintosh



And there is the rub...

Magician competitions, most all magician competitions, as they exist today cannot be about choosing a winner who is the most entertaining, or the most marketable, or even the best at technical sleight-of-hand. It's not possible to choose a "best" comparing apples to oranges.

It's simply about who the "magician judges" -- whether a panal of 5 or an audience of 2000 -- are most impressed with in that theatre, on that stage, in that moment of time, according to each judge's own personal criteria.

Magic, afterall, is not measurable like a game or sport, with the highest incremental score showing a clear winner. Magic is a craft and a performance art. Quality is subjective to the viewer.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Ralph Mackintosh » August 25th, 2008, 1:41 am

Wasn't there a magic contest in Japan where the results were judged on measurable values? Who could "muscle pass" the highest and do the most passes in a minute, etc. I seem to remember Shoot Ogawa winning some such award.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Nicholas Carifo » August 25th, 2008, 3:16 am

Interesting if that exists. I'm not aware of it. If so, that would indeed be measurable, however not necessarily magic or entertainment.

It would fit your previous description of a sheer "juggling" competition.

A measurable contest with no real value to a real world performer.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Tim Ellis » August 25th, 2008, 3:56 am

We used to run competitions like that here at our monthly magic gatherings in Melbourne.

Who could put a shuffled deck in NDO the fastest (in the hands).
Who could do 8 Hot Shot Cuts fastest.
Who could take a new deck and faro it back into NDO the fastest.

Lots of silly comps that put all the emphasis on skill, and actually encouraged magicians to learn what they might otherwise never have bothered to learn. Most now use the skills they acquired in there regular performance work.

I definitely think there's a place in magic for 'technique only' competitions, but I do agree that magic competitions are totally subjective.

They are great to use as a goal to help motivate you to be creative, but anyone who entires and has their heart set on winning is bound to be disappointed as there are too many factors at work outside of their control.

Certainly try to do your best, and consider yourself a winner if you honestly feel you performed at 100% of your ability.

If you do happen to get a prize, that's just icing on the cake.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 25th, 2008, 11:07 am

Ralph, I thought David Kaplan's act was extremely funny and original. And it was interesting to note that he received the most contracts and bookings from the other prize presenters at the event.

But I think you underestimate An Ha Lim's ability and his charisma--he didn't just jerk off with his hands, he entertained, projected personality, and charmisma in the process.

But, to each his own. :) Kaplan was definitely great.
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Ralph Mackintosh » August 25th, 2008, 4:11 pm

Richard, I'm sure you're right. I often let my disinterest in manipulators overshadow their considerable accomplishments. The contest would have been much more equitable if there had been more categories (illusion, manipulation, comedy, etc.)

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Nicholas Carifo » August 25th, 2008, 8:36 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:...An Ha Lim's ability and his charisma--he didn't just jerk off with his hands, he entertained, projected personality, and charmisma in the process.


I should point out, after my comments above, that although I too, USUALLY fall into the category of enjoying presentation and the theatre levels of an act above another display of card production after another... this was not the case for me in Louisville. I too LOVED David Kaplan's performance, and have seen him appear at many conventions in the past, however in this contest, for me, it was a dead-heat toss up between him and An Ha Lim, for entirely different reasons. When it came time to vote, David was a very, very close second for my ballot.

In the end, I voted for An Ha Lim. I spontaneously jumped to my feet TWICE, at the completion of his performances both in the preliminaries and during the finals. And everyone that knows me was stunned I would love an act composed entirely of card productions:)

Richard is correct. An Ha Lim kicked ass. All of the incredible technical ability aside... he routined his act as close to theatrically perfect as could be. Beautifully timed to a soundtrack, starting slowly both in music and productions. Gradually building in speed & performance as the music crescendos to the finale. Even the card productions changed from arbitrary card appearances to very particular color combinations that would have been out of sync with one misstep.

The act was amazing.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Danny Archer » August 25th, 2008, 11:30 pm

Judging any performance art is difficult... I have been a judge at various competitions including the IBM national and its never easy

In addition to competing, I watched every act in both close-up and stage and I agreed with the final verdict An Ha Lim was the first of the stage competitors and after his act, I turned to my buddy and said, Thats the winning act.

In close-up I think it was a little closer, but I still think Marcs act was the winner

The problem to me is how do you compare acts that are so different in nature. The Olympics just ended, and as always, there was controversy over the acts that used judging rather than the clock. In the Oscar race, how do you compare No Country for Old Men and Juno (both up for Best Picture Award). The answer is you cant.

Maybe the answer is to just do Peoples Choice and let the audience decide but not every person sees every act so that wont work either it seems that its human nature to compete. Maybe the answer is to not compete but to share out performances with the brotherhood in a non-competitive environment.

There were only 24 close-up acts and many were from non-pros even $10,000 was not enough to entice some of our best performers to compete. Why was that?

Ill leave that open for discussion
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Brad Henderson » August 26th, 2008, 3:12 am

There was a franchise of music festivals that pitted high school bands not against each other, but against a standard. You went to the festival and you played the best that you could. While gold, silver and bronze medals were achievable, it was not uncommon for many festivals to go without a gold being awarded. It mattered not who you were "up against." It was an adjudication that allowed for subjective as well as objective measurement.

MAXNY,

There was a man here in Texas who used to offer this advice to contest judges:

"Think of the perfect magic act. If the contestant does anything that deviates form that - deduct."

I found/find this attitude reprehensible. It encourages stale and predictable and (by definition) punishes originality.

Sadly, I think it is a far more common mind set than one might hope for.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Ralph Mackintosh » August 26th, 2008, 8:09 pm

One of the areas where the fundamental differences may arise is one's personal definition of "magic". I see "magic" as the seeming accomplishment of the most effect with the least effort. Therefore, displays of physical skill and manual dexterity should be minimized or hidden and the emphasis put on the end effect or result. Juggling is the art of displaying one's superior manual dexterity - magic is the art of creating the illusion of wonderous events effortlessly produced.

Certainly, there are exceptions to this view but that "world view" of magic colors my perception of the manipulator as a magician. I've seen manipulators who could create that effect of seemly effortless magic at their fingertips (Norm Neilson, Channing Pollack, Richard Ross, etc.) but the list is relatively short and doesn't include people who constantly turn sideways and fumble in their coat tails.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby 000 » October 19th, 2008, 2:08 am

I saw a pic of Duane "Elvis Presley" Laflin performing the Head Twister at the Convention. Tell me he wasn't singing ' Are you lonesome tonight' whilst performing this head spinning illusion.

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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby Richard Kaufman » October 19th, 2008, 9:01 am

He was singing something!
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Re: IBM/SAM: The Convention of the Century

Postby 000 » October 19th, 2008, 11:10 am

Are you lonesome tonight
Is your head feeling tight
Does your head
Need some twisting tonight

With the Lord by my side
We can do it tonight
There's no need
For heads feeling tight

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

Postby CHRIS » October 31st, 2008, 9:45 pm


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

Postby Ken Northridge » November 4th, 2008, 8:01 am

A star is born!


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