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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » The Society of American Magicians! » » SAM 2013 Convention... your thoughts? (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

magringo
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So far so good...the location is great (except parking is expensive -- even on the street, except free after 6 pm). Dealer room is okay -- not too many dealers, and they're complaining that there's not much traffic so far -- maybe because people are still arriving -- yesterday was a work day. In any case -- I'm excited about the lectures for today (July 4) and for the rest of the convention. I just wish parking wouldn't be something to have to deal with.
magringo
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The room for the show is really not great ... and those in the back have complained it's hard to see much of anything. The stage is high enough off the ground, but still when you have 500-600 chairs laid out in rows across a flat floor it's not great. I'd suggest in the future that SAM find a nearby theatre to use.
magringo
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Dealer room for SAM 2013 was eh, at best. And I was surprised to see not too many of them ... not more than 15 or so and most of them were the same guys that make the rounds of other shows.
Peter Cuddihy
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Magringo,

For those of us who cannot attend, please tell us what you really liked: what the highlights of the convention were.

Thanks.

Peter Cuddihy
edhagins
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I have enjoyed the lectures and the shows although nothing in either has made me jump for joy.
The closeup contest was marred by sound problems .
The stage contest made my heart skip a beat as I was transported back to a time when,for me, magic was still magical . That feeling was brought on by the performance of a Korean lad who did things with cards that I found astounding and delightful.
I and my family are disappointed that there are no public shows in a real theater.
The sound system in the main room is dismal with constant pops and echos .
From the feedback I'm getting from the youth, The SYM program seems to be less organized and appealing than it was last year. The "SYM ice cream social" was reduced to a coupon at a mall Ice cream stand with no seating and the SYM Autograph party had only one "star performer" that bothered to show up for the children. Even some of the youth performers didn't think it was worth attending and didn't show.
In defense of the SYM organizers , I was told that the schedule for the Conference proper was continually in flux , making it hard to make plans for the children's activities.
magringo
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I missed yesterday's lectures to take care of things at home. I attended the Magic of Japan show and the juggler was absolutely amazing -- for him along -- it was worth going to the show. I could tell the magicians worked hard at their art -- and I enjoyed very much the Japanese take on style and with culture and music -- that was great. But as edhagins said above -- the organizers should have found a nearby theatre to use instead of a convention style layout where it was hard to see anything past 15 rows. The two side projects were also not very good -- fuzzy at best -- and then again who wants to look at projectors at a live magic show. This was my first SAM convention ... but I'll be hesistant to go again unless they organize better. There's too much down time in between lectures -- when they could have organized the convention in two and a half days instead of nearly four days.
Stanyon
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So basically you got less bang for more bucks!?
Stanyon

aka Steve Taylor

"Every move a move!"

"If you've enjoyed my performance half as much as I've enjoyed performing for you, then you've enjoyed it twice as much as me!"
Peter Cuddihy
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Thanks for posting about some of the highlights.

Did anyone make it to Denny Haney's Egg Bag Lecture?

That would definitely have been worth seeing.
bmmagic24
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I agree with magringo, the ball room is certainly not a good place for a magic show. And its very frustrating that the screen projectors on either side are not crisp or lighted well at all. In addition the camera wouldn't zoom up on the performers so it really wasn't any better than looking at the stage. They've had those projections since at least 2009 and I think its really time they invest in better technology to be able to showcase the close up magic...especially if they're not willing to rent a local theater. The SAM convention in PIttsburgh two years ago was much better IMO. Joshua Jay was great, both his lecture and his tragic magic talk. The evening shows were better and they were held at the Byham theater in downtown Pittsburgh, an infinitely nicer venue. With this convention, I was unimpressed and often bored by the Japan show. I think that trying to have a deaf magic show AND a foreign magic show in one convention is too much.
Steve Friedberg
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Did anyone attend the close-up sessions during late night? If so, how did they go?
Cheers,
Steve

"A trick does not fool the eyes, but fools the brain." -- John Mulholland
magringo
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Saturday evening's show "Denny and Friends" was absolutely great -- funny ...funny ...funny!!!!! just too bad it wasn't in a theater.
MrBob102
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The Saturday night show was the top event of the whole convention. The comedy magicians couldn't have done it better. My stomach still hurts from the belly laughs. The sub-trunk metamorphous may still be going on.
SKILL
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Any coments on the close up contest winers ?
In order to arrive at perfeccion
you must go through the failure
Japanese Thoughts
RichardShure
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The Hotel was expensive but it was great. There was plenty of room to hang out and meet with friends. As you walked around there were many, many places that people were jamming, talking, and hanging out together. The Hotel also was located to many places where you could grab a bite to eat. There were also some small stores very close within the walking tunnels. This was great as it did not make you feel like a prisoner of the Hotel.

The lectures were simply too quick. I think everyone got an hour except for Stephen Bargatze. He had a great lecture but was able to go on for much longer. Although I did enjoy Steve Marshall's lecture very much as he had some very unique things. Denny did not have enough time for his Egg Bag Lecture, but you did get a good lesson. There were no bad lectures...just rushed ones.

The setup for the late night shows was less than optimal. First, The sound was horrible. Constant mic problems, cracking, popping, and sometimes not working at all. I am stunned that we can't get this right. How long do we have to put up with this substandard tech??? I talked with one PNP about it, but he seemed to think everything was rosy so I suspect that nothing will change on that. Back to the layout of the room. That did not bother me as much, I was seated about midway back. But I think that combined with the poor sound is what made people start to complain. I understand that theaters are expensive...but the money you save on not using one should be funneled into better sound and cameras!!!

Interesting talks were Bruce Kalvar's tech talk and the one on ethics. (Although, very few people showed up for the ethics talk).

The shows: I liked the diversity of the shows. However, the Japan show and the Deaf show went on too long. They could have been cut shorter and would have received a better reaction. The juggler in the Japan show was utterly amazing. I was happy with all the shows and and was not disappointed. The final comedy show could not be better. Somewhere in the beginning of the convention, Bargatze made a comment about how long someone could be on without being funny. That bit became a running gag in the convention and just made everything better.

Let me say again . . . the shows were good. The delivered what they said they would. The competition acts were very good this year. Perhaps the best they have been in years. The stars of tomorrow show was excellent as usual. Where do they find this great young talent?

They also had an organized late night jam session that I think was fantastic. Many people enjoyed this including the young magicians. I want to give a shout out to some of the Big Names that I saw hanging out and being personable with the younger magicians, Stephen Bargatze, Eric DeCamps, Jon Armstrong, and Christian & Katalina. I saw all these performers performing close up for the people while hanging out, talking with, and just generally being nice. I heard some younger magicians talking how thrilled they were that they got to hang out with a couple of stars.

All in all a very fun convention.
edhagins
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One "Japanese ?" fellow did some nice card magic that looked like it must have been "black art" involved. it looked good on the projection screens but I made a point of getting up and moving closer to the performing area right after he finished and I'm sure I saw gaffs fully exposed on his close up pad. I wondered if the effects were specially designed for the camera only at the cost of exposure to live viewers.
MrBob102
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Shin Lim's close-up was just for the cameras. If you were one of the few that were close to the table you could see the pockets, gaffs, etc. He had the camera folks dim the projection a little so you couldn't see the gaffs. I think the judges must have realized what was goi8ng on as he did not place in the awards. Congratulations to Alberto Lorenzo in his close-up routine!
cafeinst
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I only got to see the Variety Show. I missed the Japan show and Denny Haney & Friends because I keep the Sabbath. I liked the Variety Show, although I wish there had been more magic and less other stuff. I liked the Charlie Chaplain Metamorphasis act though. Who was the host with the funny blond wig and lisp? He was funny.

The dealer room was great. I bought more than I thought I would buy. I met Wladimir there. He is an incredibly talented and impressive magician. I bought one of his card tricks. It allows me to do a miracle with cards. He also showed me a machine that prints money, which was hilarious. I would love to see him perform in a show.
mindpirate
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I enjoyed all of the lectues and shows. Some of the lectures were rushed, and some were more just hocking of wares, but overall I feel like was able to learn something from each lecture. Being local I was able to deal with the expensive parking. I managed to get free street parking for over half of the convention.

I had an amazing time at the Underground Magic Sessions. I was able to get some great advice on some effects I have been working on, and give some advice on others effects pretty much every night. I made some new friends, and learned a lot from others who attended. The night where a group of laymen came up was shocking because we were not ecpecting anyone but magicians, but I was able to see Eric Jones perform for them, which was really entertaining to watch. I also was able to perform that night as well, and it was great practice. I hope this element of the convention continues in the future. I think it will be a huge resource for lots of people.
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Intrepid
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I'm 6'2" and enjoyed watching the "magic from Japan" and "Denny and friends". My wife who is 5'4" on the other hand could not see anything from our seats and the video projection quality was poor. She was not happy. I doubt she'll ever come to another SAM convention, which makes my future attendance questionable.
Bob
magringo
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Let's be honest, it's not easy to put one of these conventions together...and I hope the organizers will read these notes and take them as suggestions to improve next year and increase attendance. These are the elements to consider:
-- good location (easy to get to)
-- reasonable rates for hotel and airfares; Marriott is a good choice, BUT the higher priced Marriott's charge A LOT for parking ... and don't offer free internet in rooms (the organizers of the convention should be able to negotiate that to zero for convention goers).
-- theater for all shows
-- AV must be crisp, bright and viewable from anywhere (but keep in mind that people who go to live shows want to see it "live" ...not on a screen
-- don't stretch out the days and leave too much room in between lectures, shows, etc... unless you're planning outside group activities
-- make sure there are plenty of nearby (reasonable cost) restaurants
fredreisz
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I agree with much of the above. It is just intolerable to have a flat floor for the evening stage shows.I had my wife and adult daughter with me and they only came to the evening shows. We were in about the 12th row so we could see a bit but further back was very problemmatic.
Even seeing the video projections was difficult, although not so for the lectures.

I emjoyed the convention very much! I thought the lectures were very good. Denny's workshop lecture on the Malini Egg Bag was full of details and motivated me to consider it again primarily because of his presentations and the shot glass blowoff at the end. The late night sessions were terrific because of the bruskers and others there. I am an old guy now and delight in seeing the creativity and skill of the younger guys (still wondering where the girls are!). The Marriott only providing Internet at $13 a day if you paid for it was a downner BUT I could sit outside a Subway a short walk away. There was enough in the delers' room to allow you to find interesting stuff, but not as strong in variety and international representation as some years. Perhaps because so much is on the Internet only the most creative can excite the crowd.

The hotel was reasonable givem the DC area. I agree the parking fee was outrageous but that is true in any large city. Again jugglers sole the show in the Japanese Stage Show and Bruskers' show. (I need to practice a juggling cups and balls!) I enjoy Bruce Kalver's technology session and learned a lot. All in all...good friends. good times. Peace...Fred (Reisz)
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Paul
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Quote:
On 2013-07-06 22:19, Steve Friedberg wrote:
Did anyone attend the close-up sessions during late night? If so, how did they go?


Alright. I think it would have been better as an organised late night close up show allowing the performers to better display their talents immediately followed by them strolling and jamming. OR if they had all been in a formal close up show at an earlier time at the convention.

I know at one event people were asked if they thought the late night close up was good and there was much applause to signify it was, but most of the people clapping had not even attended the event (there wouldn't have been enough room for one thing).

I applaud the idea of trying something new for close uppers but I feel the idea somehow wasn't fully realized. Maybe some of the performers themselves could suggest ways to make it better for next time.

Paul.
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Paul
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Highlights for me were Doc Swan and then the magic of Japan show. The juggler there got a well deserved standing ovation. There were a few lectures I would have liked to have seen but missed, but life goes on. We had more fun in Vegas, but hey, who doesn't? The Copperfield show as part of the event or that other wonderful theater there are hard to follow...
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New e-book OOPS 2 just released, check it out!
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Doug Thornton
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Here are my notes on the annual S.A.M. Convention (the 85th annual conference)held last week in Arlington, Virginia. Billed as “Convention in the Capital”, it was not exactly in Washington, DC, but close enough. Overall I’d call it a resounding success. It was great to see friends and some fine magic.

The Marriott Hotel Crystal Gateway (a rather elaborate title) with an indeterminate number of floors - the elevator went from 9 to 12 instantly - had accommodations that were mostly good. (The elevators were some of the slowest in the world; it was sometimes worthwhile taking them up to go down and vice versa. The rooms were nice, but what designer would put a towel rack eight feet away from the shower and sink? And free Wi-Fi was only available in the lobby.) The bar area was spacious and comfortable for the late-night gatherings. The hotel connects with an underground shopping center with plenty of restaurants and shops and a nearby entrance to the Metro train station to take us directly to the nation’s capital.

Al Cohen, famed for his affable personality and magic shop in Washington, was the guest of honor. I saw him in the dealers’ room and he borrowed my hat, produced two sponge dice and went into a quick routine. Delightful. Richard Kaufman had a relaxed, meandering chat with him onstage on Thursday. Al said he was always thinking about a trick, trying to find a better way to present it or end it. Thanks Al and Richard.

There’s so much to cover and I am still recovering from my Bolt Bus travelling experience to write about everything, but here are some random notes:

Registration for the week was delightful and smooth. We received a program and souvenir pin along with the usual notices and tourist information.

Tuesday, July 2nd brought us a lecture by Stephen Bargatze. I had only seen him on video and was impressed by his humor, humility and well-presented talk. (The night before I tuned into Conan O’Brien’s talk show and it was a repeat and – what a strange universe – Stephen’s son Nate performed standup comedy, mentioning his dad who started his career as a clown. Later in the week, I thanked Stephen and he told me he had texted Nate to let him know the repeat was on. Nate was very funny. Like father, like son.)

Also lecturing were Denny Haney (with lessons on the Egg Bag), Steve Marshall, Bob Sheets, Shoot Ogawa, Rick Merrill, Bruce Kalver, Christian Painter & Katalina and Levent.

My good friend from Japan, Steve Marshall, emceed the opening night Variety Show. He walked out dressed as “Steve Wonderstone” wearing a wig he could have borrowed from Pam Thompson. His Miser’s Dream was very good as always. Others performing were Steve’s buddy from Florida, Billy Scadlock who (pre-show) was Charlie Chaplin, T.J. Tanna, Doc Swan, puppeteer Scott Land and artist John Jansky, who painted a portrait of David Copperfield.

There was a panel discussion on ethics in magic (“Inspiration, Imitation and Infringement”) with Losander, Bob Sheets, Marc DeSouza and Sara Crasson.

The close-up competition featured eight contestants, the stage competition just five. Just five? Has stage magic lost its appeal? There were unfortunate technical difficulties. I have never been involved in that aspect of a show but it’s disheartening when the camera work is not audience-friendly and music cues are missed. And microphones should not crackle in 2013. End of rant.

The Stars of Tomorrow show featured six magicians, three young men and three young women – a nice even ratio – and they all showed confidence onstage while instilling confidence in us that the future of magic is in good hands. The cast: Alex Boyce - 16, of Endicott New York; Chase Hasty - 16, of Holdrege Nebraska; Elizabeth Scalf - 12, of Surfside Beach, South Carolina, Kimberly Zoller - 16, of Seaford, Delaware, Elizabeth Rogan - 16, from Warwickshire, England and emcee Nick Diffatte - 17, of St. Paul, Minnesota. Bravo to them!

Dr. Simon Carmel hosted the Silent Magic show featuring deaf magicians. The performers all performed admirably: Nobu Kamizuru, Matt Morgan (Magic Matt) and his wife Lillana Morgan, plus Greg Koppel and Steve Longacre, a magical comedy duo. Silent applause reigned.

That show was held on the 4th of July. It didn’t make sense to some of us that it was scheduled during the fireworks. However, immediately after, Steve, Billy, Tenka Yuki and I jumped in a cab and headed to a nearby park where we could see the last three minutes of Washington’s fireworks - above the trees. Billy was on stilts as Uncle Sam and he was a hit with scores of youngsters and their families excited to have a photo op with him. It was fun seeing the joy.

The “Welcome to Japan” show was outstanding! We can all learn a lot from our friends of the Land of the Rising Sun. Wow. Here’s the thing. The Japanese students of magic are true students; they have mentors and they study, practice, rehearse and then do it all over again. Dr. Shigeru Tashiro (yes, another doctor) emceed with some clever bits and jokes (written by Steve Marshall). Koichi Takao, perpetually smiling and now one of my favorite magicians and new friend performed a dancing handkerchief and closed the show appropriately with a story about the Japanese cherry blossoms brought to Washington and a production of blossoms from his hands. Dai Kobayashi performed a breathtaking mask-changing set which was fantastic.

Mayuco is a diminutive young lady who is a Manga character brought to life. Dazzling. She did some billiard ball productions and fooled the heck out of me. She had one ball that instantly became four. OK, I thought, that’s a nice gimmick of four balls, reminding me of one of those multiplying candle sets. But I was wrong! She held out her hand and dropped them singly into the box on her table. What?!? Then she did it again, and then once more, impossibly producing four in each hand! And again she dropped them – one-by-one – into the box. Shazam!

Ok, ok, we’ve all seen a juggler that steals the show. This time it was Tempei. He made the audience cheer – and perhaps even weep – with happiness. Shoot Ogawa also had an amusing, magical performance. (He wore a white dinner jacket that would have made Guy Lombardo weep – with envy.) The young Nobu and Yuri added to an excellent show.

The final night – Saturday, July 6 – brought the “Denny Haney and Friends” comedy show. Denny (not a doctor) is the go-to guy for this kind of show and performed the Egg Bag and Multiplying Bottles. The show ran the gamut from subtle to outrageous featuring non-stop gags from Levent, low-key humor from Rick Merrill, wacky yet endearing comedy from Steve Bargatze, the usual insanity from Kohl and Company and the zany over-the-top antics of Chipper Lowell.

There was also a Buskers’ show with Bob Sheets, Bobby Maverick and the performer I saw, Michael Hilby, a very funny juggler from Germany. There were events for the young S.A.M. members plus “Underground Sessions” with Ben Train, Chris Mayhew, Tony Chang, Dan White, Dan Hauss and Eric Jones, and a balloon-twisting session.

Thank you to all involved in putting together this experience. Let’s look forward to the combined IBM/SAM 2014 Combined Convention in St. Louis, Missouri July 1-5. Those of us who attended the combined convention in Louisville in 2008 know it’s the place to be.

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johndraws
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Hello everyone....I was there both as an excited attendee and a performer. Without going into great details about every single moment. Here were my highlights. Doc Swan. Doc completely brought the funny. I was glued to him and was able to meet with him after the show and have a few beverages. He was a class act, funny, professional and everything he did killed. I really enjoyed Doc. I was also privilaged enough to have been able to perform in the Variety Show. I was the performance painter. I "read the mind" of a spectator and recreated his thought (David Copperfield) in less than 7 minutes (upside down) on a canvas and then we auctioned it off for Wounded Warriors. What a great cause and I cannot thank the bidders enough. The performance painting turned out great, and I was almost immediately hired to perform at the Daytona Beach Magic Festival. I was thrilled. I also was given some very welcomed coaching from the professionals that were in attendance.Some of which I will definately add (Thanks Brian). The folks at the S.A.M. were incredibly friendly and helpful. The merchandise they sold for the S.A.M. was attractive and a good price. I loved the black polos and black jackets. I picked up a polo and commemorative 2013 t-shirt. The dealers room for a first time attendee was full but lacking what I was hoping for. Some of the latest gagets were missing, and of course the dealers were there to make money. Some things were priced to sell, some seemed a little high. If you attend any convention, you will find the same no matter what the theme. It was just that I was expecting to see some new before market vendors...like car shows. But it wasn't that at all. For me, it was so cool to see Shoot at his own table. Also Dan Hauss and Lo Sanders. Other High lights for me were Bobby Maverick (great street magician), Juggler and hilarious entertainer Michael Hilby, and Stephen Bargatze. Stephen was comic genius. I loved him, absolutely. He also invited me to his table during dinner with Bob Sheets, Rick Merrill and a few others. I was in awe.Levent was fun and Chipper Lowell isn't called Chipper for nothing. Steve Marshall did a great job hosting the variety show and up and coming stars host Nick Daffatte was charming and hilarious. This kid has mega potential. The close up magicians before each show deserved a big round of applause. I also enjoyed the Underground at night. Tony Chang, Dan White, Dan Hauss, Eric Jones, Chris Mayhew (Hilarious!!) and Ben Train. Mayuco from Japan was beautiful....and Tempei stole the Japan show. There was great things about the convention and anyone can find something to complain about if they looked. Over all I was very happy with my experience as an attendee and a performer. I too had my issues with the sound, and the fact that my prepared music was not used...but I rolled with it. Aside from the entertainment, I met so many great lovers of magic. I hope I have created life long friendships...and this convnetion had really put a fire in me, to come up with an even more impressive mix of art and magic. I loved the connections made, dinners shared and new friends. The shows were a bonus. Hopefully, I will see some of you at the Daytona Magic Fest in November. Thank you to everyone I spoke with there....you know who you are. I will definately be going to next years S.A.M event.
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