Magic Castle difficulties

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houdini's ghost
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby houdini's ghost » May 27th, 2011, 7:29 pm

D0N'T HIJACK THIS THREAD.
This thread began as an honest attempt by a Magic Castle dog-in the-manger to anonymously pretend to be a whistle-blower, and I will not see it stolen away and replaced by this--this--levity!
P.S. I can prove, and with geometric logic, that Houdini's Ghost is not Patrick Culliton

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Jonathan Townsend » May 27th, 2011, 10:10 pm

Sorry, you messed up by putting a PS in there.

On topic - what do folks feel is a good time period to await some meaningful signs of change? Six months perhaps? Till the end of year report?

I'd like to visit The Magic Castle sometime. And till then I'd like to believe it's going to be around till I get a chance to visit.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Schrödinger'sCat
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Schrödinger'sCat » May 28th, 2011, 3:54 am

Not to worry, Jon, it will be around for a long time to come.

One thing I will say is that at least Dale Hindman came right out and told the membership...
Paws, claws and curiosity will lead you to interesting places ...

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Rich Cowley
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Rich Cowley » May 28th, 2011, 10:00 am

Chris Aguilar wrote:The fact that people persist in posting these "castle dirty laundry" threads here and not on the official Castle forums tells us that Mr. Crowley and those in charge are failing miserably in making said forums more conducive to that type of discourse.


Chris, I would (slightly) disagree with you there. I think there are two reasons why Genii forums are used to discuss internals at the Castle:

1) Some folks love the anonymity of the Internet, and will always prefer to speak from behind masks. The Castle forums are member-based, and as such require that a person use his real name when posting. Speaking as one who always likes to know who I'm talking to, I hope that never changes; if people want to gripe and hide behind fake names, nothing the AMA does is ever going to stop them. (I respond to you and not others here, because you're using your real name - I hope. {wink!} )

2) As I said before: The AMA had a problem with (for lack of a better term) "exuberant" censorship in the past but, when we revised our Standing Rules last year, we put forum oversight solely back in the hands of our (volunteer) Internet Committee thread moderators, similar to Genii's approach. Genii forums are still being used to discuss Castle topics, but not because anyone "failed miserably", as much as I think it's simply going to take time for members to realize (once again) that they can speak openly on our forums.

Does that make sense?

And, for the record: It's "Cowley". Thanks!

Roger M.
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Roger M. » May 28th, 2011, 10:48 am

You spin a nice post Rich, and you seem to be a really nice guy......but you also seem blind to the fact that apparently most of your members who are still posting here are positive that their posts (if they posted on the AMA forum) would be deleted........so why bother?

Like the leaders falling like flies in the current "Arab Spring", standing up and saying "we're not like that anymore" rings as hollow, and as fake as smart folks know it is.

Your obsession with anonymity is also misplaced. Refusing to engage on the internet with anybody not using their actual names is the lamest excuse for not answering questions there is.
There are some very intelligent people posting anonymously here on the Genii forum, people with ideas and questions that are as valid as anybody's ideas or questions.........refusing to engage seriously with them is a cop-out, plain and simple.

And if you cop-out here, you'll cop out faster over on the AMA forum.......thus folks stay away from the AMA forum, and enjoy the open and frank exchange taking place at the Genii forum.

Based on your last few posts Rich, you (and the Board) would appear to have a lot more ahead of you than you apparently think you do.

Your members don't trust you, and until that's fixed.......well, you'll just be blowing smoke.

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Terrence » May 28th, 2011, 11:06 am

Roger M. wrote:..., and as fake as smart folks know it is.
...
Your obsession with anonymity is also misplaced.
...
There are some very intelligent people posting anonymously here on the Genii forum,
...
, and enjoy the open and frank exchange taking place at the Genii forum.
...


Well Roger, while you're classifying yourself as one of the smart people, identifying someone else's obsession, and rating the intelligence of anonymous posters, perhaps you should take a glance at the frank and open edit of Alan Burksy's post here on page 6 of this thread.

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Rich Cowley
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Rich Cowley » May 28th, 2011, 11:14 am

Sorry you feel that way, Roger.

But, if you're suggesting that, because I'm an officer in the AMA, I'm also obligated to respond to anyone who a) isn't a member or b) is a member, but isn't interested in using his own name to prove same, then I would disagree with you, strongly.

But, hey, I could be wrong. If enough members agree with you then, hey, that's what elections are for; whatever the members decide is fine with me, believe me.

I've always measured people by their ability to "walk their talk", and to stand up and be counted when the debate gets heated. Call it "lame" if you like; that's your right, of course. But, it's also my right to respond only to people who I volunteered to serve.

As far as members not returning to our forums in fear of censorship that no longer exists, it sounds to me like a self-fulfilling prophesy. Again, all respect to Genii, but - I'm thinking that many find it easier to use these forums (where they can snipe and be hurtful anonymously) over being a member of a club - in every sense of the word.

PS: All due respect, but - When you suggest I would "cop out" faster on the AMA forums than I would here, I had to laugh out loud. I just compared my post count in the AMA forums to my post count here; I'm not sure you'd get many Castle members to agree with you on that one.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 28th, 2011, 11:36 am

Just like wearing a mask or heavy makeup gives an actor a feeling of liberation, so the ability to post anonymously on the internet gives some people the ability to say things they would not or could not say if required to use their real names.

We actually have a pretty good balance here on the Forum, and since it's my joint I'll keep it that way. The only promise I can make to all of you is that I NEVER post on any internet forum under a pseudonym.

The Magic Castle runs its own forum as they please, but they are missing an important point by requiring the use of members' real names when they post. Think back to the simplest form of asking customers or members for their thoughts: a wooden box with a slot on top into which people can drop a slip of paper on which they've written their comments ... and do not have to write their names.
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Rich Cowley
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Rich Cowley » May 28th, 2011, 11:48 am

Your points are well taken, Richard. And, please realize, I compare the two forums with all possible respect to both.

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby erdnasephile » May 28th, 2011, 11:54 am

I'm sorry if my post in this thread was seen as negative. I, in no way, was attempting to "snipe", "be hurtful", or to offend anyone. While I certainly didn't feel Mr. Cowley was obligated to respond, I just figured I'd ask since he was apparently monitoring this thread. Mea culpa and lesson learned.

(My thanks to JimW who kindly answered my question--I appreciate NPH's message--it does sound like we've got a good plan and I'm optimistic.)

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SquareCircle
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby SquareCircle » May 28th, 2011, 12:17 pm

If I had to stand on the corner in my underwear and sell copies of Genii one at a time to generate enough money, I would do it to keep my business alive.


When you get around to that marketing program, I'll take a couple off your hands

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 28th, 2011, 12:39 pm

... a couple of pairs of my underwear?
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Edward Pungot
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Edward Pungot » May 28th, 2011, 12:53 pm

[added for dramatic effect] The problem with you Mr. Cowley is you are totally transparent, which makes your contribution to this thread equally enlightening and comical. I can see now why a gag restraint has been implemented in the past. The overall, initial impression I get from Mr. Cowleys posts is his voluntary need to serve himself and to further puff-up his ego. We are all here on our own time and interests. What interests do you serve Mr. Cowley, by choosing to keep private and selective a non-profits business practices? [added for dramatic effect]

I think the problem with the vast majority of would-be magicians and managers who attempt to lead a group of magicians/managers is the clash of egos (refer to the above statement). Albeit we all need a bit of an ego and levity to stand up on stage and perform a good magic show, but when it comes to good business practice and a healthy non-profit organization, I think ego needs to be checked at the door. Also, the secrets of a non-profit needs exposure not further deceptions, secrecy, and selective responses based on self-serving agendas. Any attempt to avoid and justify non-transparency in a non-profit organization needs to be addressed. Leave it to magicians to practice their craft in the business side of the matter. Occupational hazard I guess. As for the anonymity and masks, I suppose it is all simply just a parody to the circus stunts and spending that BoDs need to be accountable for.

The whole point of anonymity and why so many in the past (magical and non-magical) chose to use such a stratagem is to focus on the pressing issues and to again leave ego at the door so there will be a frankness to the concerns presented. So far Mr. Cowley has showed concern for maintaining his seat on the board. You were after all, present in all the prior board meetings with the old guard, taking good notes I suppose. Lets hope those notes will be used for good intentions.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 28th, 2011, 1:15 pm

You're really missing the point. It's all about MONEY.
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undercut
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby undercut » May 28th, 2011, 2:46 pm

Richard K, you hit the nail on the head. Money.

It was nice to see the piece by NPH, the FIRST mention, in any way, of the problems with *money* at the MC.

Somewhat troubling, was the "marketing" sound of the thing. However, this is Hollywood, and he is an actor, so why should we expect differently, eh?

It IS easy to snipe, and to only focus on negatives. It is easy to focus on Richard C, although many forget the huge multiyear effort that it took for him to get on the Board, and the many slights that he has endured over the years.

Richard C, in fact, has been the hardest working member for a long time.
He brings a whacky, irreverant approach to management at the MC,
which approaches stupidity because people won't ask questions.
Richard will. He has been marginalized at time, because of that. Richard, you might want to consider that people have learned from your experience what happens when one aggressively asks questions at the MC.....

That all said, Richard, this issue of censorship at the MC forums,
that you say was resolved, was not. Who was controlling the posting?
Who was the censor? Who posted in the name of management?
Where were the announcements about control of the forums?
None of that was addressed.
So, the man behind the curtain, was still behind the curtain, for members.

Someone posted about the Confidentiality Agreement.
When is someone going to move for that to terminate?
You will note that there are more questions that get asked HERE, than
in the MC forums......and you should be concerned about that, Richard C!

Transparency is a good thing. The hiding of the first quarter financials is
a bad thing. I've not seen them, but I hear that they show things getting
much worse, compared to last year. What is the trend? Are you guys looking
at the financials EACH MONTH----like any business in trouble would be?

With the exception of ONE PERSON, the same managment team is in place,
the same oversight Board is in place. This is the same management team that
reportedly hid the financials from the Board for the last year, as the MC was sinking
in red ink. Inasmuch as this is the source of information NOW, why would it be any
better?? The Board, which apparently didn't have the sense that God gave a rock,
never looked at a balance sheet or a profit-loss statement. FOR THE ENTIRE YEAR!
Why are these titans of industry going to do better now? NPH mentions only one item,
the newsletter, which is a laughably small amount of money in the big picture.

What will be a turnaround, will be when members see financial reports,often. Why
on earth is there any reason to hide them?

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Brandon Hall » May 28th, 2011, 3:05 pm

Hey Rich, Why are most suggestion boxes anonymous?
"Hope I Die Before I Get Old"
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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 28th, 2011, 3:45 pm

There is an important difference in the makeup of the board that amounts to much more than just one individual being different.

The then-president, who I've been told managed to have somehow conceal the true financial situation of the AMA from its own board, is now gone. Is it a coincidence that he resigned just before the financial report was released?

A new president is in place.

The ex-treasurer, though still a board member, is no longer the treasurer. One wonders how she is able to remain on the board and have the confidence of any other board member or club member when she alone on the board, aside from the president, supposedly knew the financial condition of the organization and did not report to the board, but only to the president. Or perhaps she was the treasurer and didn't know what was really going on with the finances falling through the floor.

A new treasurer is in place.

The new board member, also a pretty smart attorney, is also the new treasurer.

The voting bloc on the board has passed from one group to the other.

We've only had one meeting with the new board, yet a vital change took place: the removal of the treasurer from her position and replacement by the new board member.

NOW ALLOW THE NEW BOARD TO DO ITS JOB.

We all know what has to be done, which is to get rid of certain absurdly overpaid people in staff and management and slim down the number of employees to people who will do their jobs efficiently for a reasonable salary.

This is Business Management Class 1A.

The fact that this hadn't been done under the previous president suggests that he was a very poor businessman when it came to running the Academy of Magical Arts. He was elected president by the board for ONE reason: to oversee the transition from ownership of the land and building by the Glover family to a new landlord. He failed in that task, and in the process bloated the organization with staff to run the place because he really didn't want to be involved in the day-to-day operation. The result is that his staff has had a picnic that has caused the near ruin of the organization. The people on the board who wanted to stop this didn't have enough votes. Now they do.

So, I'll repeat: ALLOW THE BOARD TO DO ITS JOB.

If any part of this post disappears, it will be because we've received an email from the $400,000-a-year AMA attorney George Juarez threatening us with a libel suit. This has already happened directly once, and indirectly once.

The fact that this conversation cannot take place on the Magic Castle Forums is pathetic and indicative of the chaos within the organization.
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Terrence » May 28th, 2011, 5:14 pm

Wow RK!

Truly sorry that you were threatened.

Question: Did Mr. Juarez do so as a private citizen, or as counsel for the AMA?

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby hscheie » May 28th, 2011, 6:16 pm

Richard:
I think that you should always post all letters from the AMA attorney (or any others) demanding take downs or threatening libel.

Hal
Hal Scheie

undercut
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby undercut » May 28th, 2011, 6:48 pm

Richard K, I love your analytic thinking. Would that it was the mark of the management of the MC. A couple of issues extending your thoughts:

There is an important difference in the makeup of the board that amounts to much more than just one individual being different.

The then-president, who I've been told managed to have somehow conceal the true financial situation of the AMA from its own board, is now gone. Is it a coincidence that he resigned just before the financial report was released?

A new president is in place.


The new president is part of the now minority faction, that included the old president. As part of that faction, he is in a unique position to support the approaches that were used in the past. He is not a "clean break". He was part of the faction that supported the approach of keeping the Board in the dark, as much as possible. Why would he change the approach that he had supported?

NOW ALLOW THE NEW BOARD TO DO ITS JOB.

We all know what has to be done, which is to get rid of certain absurdly overpaid people in staff and management and slim down the number of employees to people who will do their jobs efficiently for a reasonable salary.


I certainly agree with you about what has to be done, and the obviousness of it. However, apparently this is a "bridge too far" for the new Board to quickly grasp. Perhaps this is because this Board was not following what was going on, like sheep, and now have to do a lot of catching up. A month and eighty thousand dollars have passed without doing what "we all know what has to be done". As often happens in a volunteer organization, the PTB act like the money is not theirs, so what's the rush. I mean, if there is a big increase in membership dues, it won't affect them....they are all life members!

One last comment: I could post 10,000 posts a day, in no way does it interfere with the NEW BOARD DOING IT'S JOB. I'd just like to see them get on with it. You and I know what to do, lets see them show that they know what to do.

Edward Pungot
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Edward Pungot » May 28th, 2011, 10:04 pm

If its all about raising money, why not follow what non-profits do and put something special together. With NPH as the new President why not pull all the Castle Talent and put on a TV magic special like the good old days, only presented by the Magic Castle at the Magic Castle for the Magic Castle, and pitch it to the networks (perhaps the network NPH is currently on). Or something less ambitious perhaps an Its Magic fundraiser like they do for red-cross natural disasters concerts. With so much great talent at the Castle it would be a win/win opportunity for everyonethe performers, the Castle, public relations outreach. Or maybe do an open house where tours can be had for a donation to the Magic Castle preservation fund. Theres so many ways to raise money and have it be fun and profitable. These are just some ideas off the top of my head, but Im sure the think tank can come up with similar ideas if we focus on solutions instead of childish name-calling and other playground nonsense (of which I am guilty of doing myself).

Sincere Apologies,

Edward Pungot

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 28th, 2011, 10:45 pm

Networks don't want magic TV specials. Only a personality can sell a show, not a roster of different people.

You can't compare giving money to people suffering from a natural disaster to giving money to a mismanaged business where some people are--in fact--pocketing all the money. People don't want to see good money go after bad.
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Edward Pungot » May 28th, 2011, 10:59 pm

How about NPH & His 52 Assistants (with the 53rd assistant pocketing all the proceeds) What ever happened to David Roth anyway? Is it true that Roth worked the magic counter at FAO Shwarz?
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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Richard Kaufman » May 29th, 2011, 12:46 am

That's a non-sensical post and don't cast aspersions on NPH--he's done nothing but a lot of good for magic.

As for Roth, he worked as a magic demonstrator at FAO Schwarz in New York City for a decade or more. But what the heck does this thread have to do with David Roth?
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undercut
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby undercut » May 29th, 2011, 1:11 am

I've often wondered why no post Academy Awards party was held at the MC, only a block away. Instead of a sit down, have a house full of stolling magicians, and great finger food. If, as reported, NPH will be the host of the AA's this year, the stars could align. NPH could start a party in his name that could survive his career.

So many ideas, so little time. You are so right about TV shows, Richard, I've tried pitching those, and there is NO interest.

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Alan Bursky » May 29th, 2011, 6:31 am

George Juarez threatened Richard with a lawsuit because of a joke I made about the Magic Castle lawyer. I find this funny because when Channing Pollack's widow sued George, he didn't even bother to show up in court. You can look this up in the Nevada state court records. George Jaurez is in default in this lawsuit with Mrs. Pollack. To me this IS FUNNY. The lawyer of the Magic Castle is sued by the widow of one of the world's most beloved magicians, and he doesn't even bother to show up in court??????? Is this post libel? It is the truth. Look it up in the court records of the state of Nevada. Check out the California State Bar records. Have I libeled anyone with this post?

M. Undercut,
A few years ago MFB threw a post party. Also a few years ago the Award Show, and party was held at the Castle. With the MFB post party people were just to tired to go from one venue to another. The show at the Castle just seemed like a regular night at the Castle. But, back the we weren't losing anywhere the kind of money we have been losing in the last 2 years. Now back to the thread. Even though the relationship with MFB was rocky, the AMA was making money. We had almost a million dollars in the bank. Since the AMA took over with the management we have now. We have about about a high $200,000.00. Combined with the incredible losses. MY OPINION, this is why the treasurer was replaced. The BOD wasn't running the Castle, management was. For the last couple of weeks it is the BOD running the Castle. I am looking forward to the sequel.

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby houdini's ghost » May 29th, 2011, 12:32 pm

Alan,
I believe Undercut suggested that the Castle--Neil--might host a post Academy Awards party at the Castle.
I hated the way MFB ran the Castle!
Those were not the good old days.
Patrick

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Edward Pungot » May 29th, 2011, 2:14 pm

undercut wrote:So many ideas, so little time. You are so right about TV shows, Richard, I've tried pitching those, and there is NO interest.


F**k the networks, take the show to PBS and make a documentary out of it or have Huel Howser do a segment on the history of the Castle or have David Ben's people do a nice documentary like they did for Vernon. That would be nice to watch.
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby John Lovick » May 29th, 2011, 2:27 pm

If, as reported, NPH will be the host of the AA's this year,


The Academy Awards have already happened this year. If you mean host for next year, it has NOT been reported that NPH will host. No host has yet been announced.

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Chris Aguilar » May 29th, 2011, 3:03 pm

Has there ever been a thorough documentary about the history of the Castle/AMA? I'm talking about something at least 30 minutes to an hour long.

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Steve Bryant » May 29th, 2011, 3:39 pm

One of the most recent, 20 minutes long, is a tour given by Milt to John Lovick on the December 2010 edition of reelmagicmagazine. There are also two excellent books on the Castle, Hollywood Illusion: Magic Castle (219 pages) and Milt Larsen's Magic Castle Tour (295 pages). And Genii did a great piece on the Castle's 40th anniversary (January 2003, 34 pages).

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Scotto » May 31st, 2011, 3:49 pm

undercut wrote: If, as reported, NPH will be the host of the AA's this year, the stars could align.


NPH is hosting the Tonys this year. They are in New York, it's a long commute.
Magically

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Dustin Stinett » May 31st, 2011, 4:00 pm

Chris Aguilar wrote:Has there ever been a thorough documentary about the history of the Castle/AMA? I'm talking about something at least 30 minutes to an hour long.

My son, who is a film student, had quite a bit in the can for a feature length documentary before funding was unfortunately pulled by his school (budget cuts, nothing to do with the merits of the project). We are still looking for funding to get it finished (about $7,000 is needed). Anyone SERIOUSLY interested should contact me and I'll send a copy of the proposal, which includes a DVD of the short that was completed. Keep in mind that this is a not-for-profit project!

Dustin

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Joe Pecore » May 31st, 2011, 4:50 pm

Dustin, have you looked into something like Kickstarter as a way to fund the project?

Here is an example of someone using it to fund the making of some collectable playing cards: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/101 ... -card-deck
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Bob Farmer » May 31st, 2011, 5:34 pm

My son is starting a production course in the fall. The Canadian government has all kinds of money for projects like this. Maybe we could make it a co-production--the Canadian content would be all the stuff about Dai Vernon, Doug Henning, etc. (we need that "Canadian content").

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Dustin Stinett » May 31st, 2011, 6:14 pm

Joe, Chris (my son) is very aware of Kickstarter. We have considered it, but there are ownership issues (the school owns the film).

Bob, there is an huge section on Vernon already complete (in fact, the short is mostly about Vernon's presence there). But again, his school owns the film. Even if someone hands over the money, it would be a "grant" to the school and the best the donor can expect is an "Executive Producer" credit. BTW: The $7K number is production costs without equipment (school equipment would be used to complete the film).

Thanks,
Dustin

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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Joe Pecore » May 31st, 2011, 6:40 pm

Bummer, I figured if someone could get almost 600 backers to put up almost $15,000 to produce a deck of cards then $7,000 for a magic DVD would be a piece of cake!

How about just offering a reward, with a pledge of $20 or more, of being listed on the film under "This film was made possible by the generous donations of: XXXXX, YYYY, ZZZZZ, ..... " (could be a name or company)?
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Bob Farmer
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Bob Farmer » May 31st, 2011, 6:46 pm

Dustin:

Would the school license the footage?

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Dustin Stinett
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Dustin Stinett » May 31st, 2011, 11:00 pm

Possibly, but you would first have to get past my son, who really wants to finish this film.

Chris Aguilar
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Re: Magic Castle difficulties

Postby Chris Aguilar » June 1st, 2011, 11:09 am

Dustin's son's project seems very interesting.

I've always thought the Castle/AMA deserved a full length documentary, so here's hoping this one currently unfinished one eventually sees the light of day.


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