Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

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erdnasephile
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Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby erdnasephile » September 23rd, 2018, 3:20 pm

In the context of an article on customer satisfaction, Normal Beck relates an anecdote about a magic lecture that he gave. He had announced at the start of the lecture that he was going to explain all the tricks he performed except one. At the end of the lecture, "a customer came up to me and was upset that I had not taught that one trick. He loved the lecture except for that one thing. I took him in the back and showed him how it worked. It was simple and eliminated friction." (MUM, October 2018, pg 66)

Years ago, I once spoke at an international conference in my field and used part of Meir Yedid's Finger Fantasies routine to illustrate a point in the lecture. In the elevator after the lecture, I was accosted by an attendee demanding to know how that worked. I politely apologized and explained that I couldn't expose the routine because it belonged to a friend, and it wasn't mine to give away. He became incredulous and belligerent. I was really taken aback by his hostile manner, and again apologized. Thankfully, he got off the elevator before he hit me (although I'm pretty sure he wanted to). Even so, it left a bad taste in my mouth that I had to consciously forget over the next 2 days of speaking. I'm very happy I didn't run into him again.

Laying aside the boorish behavior of the customers in both incidents, I wonder if I should have handled it the way Mr. Beck did. Had I just caved, it's highly unlikely the hooligan would have been able to perform the illusion anyway, and I'm sure his evaluation of my lectures would have been higher. OTOH, he was such a threatening jerk, there was no way I wanted to back down. I guess I could have offered to teach him another trick to show his grandkids, and perhaps he would have been happy. I could have also given him the print reference for the routine. However, this wasn't a magic convention where I was teaching magic, and I don't like rewarding crummy behavior.

Has this ever happened to you? What strategies did you use to keep both the customer and you happy? How could I handle this better next time?

(PS: From Mr. Beck's story--I still am dismayed at the lack of courtesy we hobbyists show the creators in our field. Why do we think we should be privy to every secret of every performer (especially when we can't even competently perform 99% of the secrets we already know!) I don't mind being labeled an amateur since I truly love magic, but I am embarrassed by the conduct of some of those that continually give us a bad name.)

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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Leonard Hevia » September 23rd, 2018, 3:54 pm

It makes me think of the opening line of R. Paul Wilson's blog The Real Work: I love secrets. As magicians, perhaps we all do - until we realize that some secrets are kept from us.

Paul said a mouthful, didn't he? It's fun keeping secrets--until the secrets are kept from you.

Beck's lecture story reminded me of the one in Roberto Giobbi's Secret Agenda book:

Jardine Ellis, best know today for the Jardine Ellis Ring, was booked by the Magic Circle of London to give one of his rare lectures. The members had to pay an entry fee, something quite unusual, as it was considered quite an honor to lecture for the Magic Circle (and still is). After Jardine Ellis performed and explained his first trick, everyone was enthusiastic. Whereupon Ellis asked the magicians, "Do you think that trick alone was worth the price of admission?"

When everyone agreed , he packed his things and left, and was never seen again at the Magic Circle.

Told to Giobbi by Max Maven October 1996.

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Q. Kumber
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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Q. Kumber » September 23rd, 2018, 5:40 pm

About twelve years ago I was a guest at a magic club meeting in Florida. The previous meeting Alain Nu had lectured. Before the meeting started one of the members stood up, complaining bitterly that Alain had not explained a particular method of spoon bending, even though Alain had said he would not be explaining it, but was including it as part of a routine.

Enraged, he had gone home and through research and found a video clip explaining the piece which he proceeded to show on a TV. I was tempted to say something, but felt, as a guest it wasn't my place, plus I felt that least said, soonest mended.

He played the explanation and I don't think anyone could follow what was being shown, as they had probably all forgotten the effect anyway. As for me, I hadn't a clue what it was about.

Having purged his annoyance with Alain, he sat down and shut up.

*********************************************************************************

I love Paul Wilson's quote above, which explains why there are 173 pages about Erdnase on this forum.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 23rd, 2018, 6:18 pm

This is nothing new. As far back as I can remember (which is the early 1970s), people at lectures became indignant if the lecturer did not explain a particular thing. Hasn't everyone seen this happen?
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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Leonard Hevia » September 23rd, 2018, 6:28 pm

I've been to lectures given by Bob Sheets, John Bannon, Mike Gallo, John Carney, David Roth, Ray Cosby, and others who explained all of their effects. I think Jeff McBride was the only lecturer who didn't explain every effect. He and his wife did a lot of magic and couldn't possibly explain it all.

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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby erdnasephile » September 23rd, 2018, 9:00 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:This is nothing new. As far back as I can remember (which is the early 1970s), people at lectures became indignant if the lecturer did not explain a particular thing. Hasn't everyone seen this happen?


Fair enough--but with the explosion of magic information today, that indignation seems even more misplaced than ever before. I guess the problem is: the growth of magicians' ethics and maturity hasn't kept pace with the growth of information.

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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Max Maven » September 24th, 2018, 4:48 am

Some years back, Juan Tamariz did a lecture tour and tried a simple experiment. In each lecture, he began by performing five routines. He then taught three of them.

Each time, he performed the same five routines. But, he mixed the selection as to which three he’d explain.

And, in every city, after the lecture people came up to him and said, “The lecture was good, but you didn’t teach the two best items.”

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Richard Kaufman » September 24th, 2018, 12:38 pm

Yes, it's not what you don't teach, but the fact that you don't teach something they've seen.

The amount of information generally available is irrelevant, and misses the point.
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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Jonathan Townsend » September 24th, 2018, 1:22 pm

The format is demonstrate then explain? Or is it okay to show a few novel coin tricks then teach a really good card trick?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Pete McCabe » September 24th, 2018, 2:42 pm

I think Max's Juan Tamariz story shows another important way that magicians can be blind. As soon as we know how a trick is done, we don't think of it as such a good trick. Of course, people are going to think the ones he didn't teach were the best, because they don't know the method.

One time John Lovick was showing an amateur magician a marked deck. First he gave the person a single card and had them look for the marks. They couldn't find any. Then John showed the marks. "Oh, those are too obvious. That wouldn't fool anybody."

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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Ted M » September 24th, 2018, 2:51 pm

I recall much rending of garments and gnashing of teeth when magicians discovered that the first effect on Max's Multiplicity DVD was not explicitly explained.

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Steve Bryant
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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Steve Bryant » September 24th, 2018, 3:05 pm

Back in the nineties, when I started The Little Egypt Gazette, I posted a trick each month, but you had to guess the secret password to access the explanation. It was always the answer to a simple question, just to prove "you knew a little about magic." Google wasn't around yet, nor the Magic Cafe, so the only way to "cheat" was to beg for the solution on alt.magic. Some who were stumped sent me angry messages along the lines of "You HAVE to tell me! I'm the president of my local I.B.M. Ring."

There was never any intention to stump anyone, and it always surprised me how little some things were known.

-- Steve

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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Mark McPhee » December 10th, 2018, 2:58 am

First convention I ever attended I was fortunate to sit and have a drink with Derek Dingle. We talked about everything but magic. Eventually we got around to magic and the kind of magic he did for paying performances rather than conventions/lectures. He showed me his cigarette through quarter just to explain how he did it for layman. When it came to lecturing and conventions he said, "Show them everything, they'll remember nothing." With information overload, especially at lectures and conventions, it's true.

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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby Bob Farmer » December 10th, 2018, 10:20 am

I gave a lecture in Toronto ("Assault With A Friendly Weapon") that purported to be a lecture on how I invent magic tricks. To illustrate, I performed and explained a series of my tricks and linked each one to a different creative strategy that I claimed I'd used. The lecture was very well attended and got great reviews.

However, the whole thing was a sham. Yes, the tricks were real and the explanations were real, but the claim that I used creative strategies was a lie. The organizers had specifically requested that I explain how I create tricks so the audience could follow my approach and invent their own.

Well, that would have been a very short lecture--and not very helpful--because the answer was simple: tricks just pop into my head and have been doing so since I was 5 years old. So, not wishing to disappoint, I went out and bought a book on how to be creative and then attached the various principles in there to various of the tricks I was explaining.

So, I did explain the tricks but didn't explain my "method" but nobody complained because they bought the lie.

If anyone wants a copy of these lecture notes, send me an email to bammomagic@cogeco.ca

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Re: Norman Beck's Oct, 2018 MUM Column

Postby erdnasephile » December 10th, 2018, 12:31 pm

Pete McCabe wrote:I think Max's Juan Tamariz story shows another important way that magicians can be blind. As soon as we know how a trick is done, we don't think of it as such a good trick. Of course, people are going to think the ones he didn't teach were the best, because they don't know the method.

One time John Lovick was showing an amateur magician a marked deck. First he gave the person a single card and had them look for the marks. They couldn't find any. Then John showed the marks. "Oh, those are too obvious. That wouldn't fool anybody."


Michael Weber has a similar story when he explains his "Kindergarten Stack". When he goes through the simple stack, people are incredulous until he reminds them how badly he fooled them with it.


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