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truthteller
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As many know, I am very concerned that our reviews serve the readership, and have had several discussions with members when they have expressed concern. While I am thrilled that I am usually told that they appreciate the depth of our reviews, I am always looking for more feedback. (In truth, all we ever really hear are positive comments, the occasional gripe from someone whose product we didn't care for, and the rare loon who hasn't even read the reviews!)

I want to be clear, though I use the word 'we' above, this is being done on my own initiative. It is not being sanctioned by magic magazine (though I am confident stan would not mind - he's busy getting ready for Live!).

So, what do you like about reviews in Magic, what do you no(? What would you like to see more of? Less of? Thanks for taking the time.

Brad
Gordon
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The "re-views" (aside from the cutesy title) are great. Lots of overlooked gems are still available. I'd rather read about one of them then some new, crappy one-trick DVD. While there is some value in learning what to avoid--and everyone loves to see a train wreck--it's more useful for me to learn what's good.
Steven Steele
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Brad,

I went back a few months and re-read your reviews. Some of the effects, I had already owned and others I don't. All in all I appreciate your comments and for those items I own you have been 'spot on'. As to what would improve your reviews I simply add the following. As a performer, I would like some information as to the practicality of the routine. For example, reset times, whether or not it can be done in full view, angle issues, size, pocket management. There's a whole host of issues that could be addressed. I'm interested in the effects, but often I'm disappointed in the 'practicality' of the effect for what I do. A recent example are the Dr. Sawa DVD's. They look really interesting and got good reviews, but I had to dig beyond the reviews to find out if a table was required or if there were any stand up routines and were they mostly close-up, etc. I think you can see where I am going with this. Anyway, I don't know if you can devise something simple to offer that information, but for me it would be very helpful. Just food for thought.
pduffie
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Hi Steven;

I am glad you are reading our reviews and very much appreciate your constructive advice.

As the reviewer of the Sawa DVDs, I would like to comment briefly on that aspect of your post:

You said: " I'm interested in the effects, but often I'm disappointed in the 'practicality' of the effect for what I do. A recent example are the Dr. Sawa DVD's. They look really interesting and got good reviews, but I had to dig beyond the reviews to find out if a table was required or if there were any stand up routines and were they mostly close-up, etc."

In my review I stated:

"...and here is the major downside for those of you looking for new effects to perform. Most of the routines, especially the big multi-climax killer effects, require an inordinate amount of preparation, including custom made gaffs and/or hard to find props. Also, most require you to be seated behind a table."

This was a massive DVD set and the above generalisation was the best I could offer within the space permitted. But I think it does go some way in answering your questions re: practicality, use of a table and whether the effects are close-up or stand-up.

Thanks again, and

Best Wishes

Peter
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Steven Steele
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Peter, thanks for reminding me of your review. When I stated I re-read the reviews I was specifically referring to Brad's as he was specifically asking about himself, from the way I read his post. I actually, remember reading your review now. It appeared after I had read other reviews and ads for the DVD's. Your review, is the one that changed my mind, due to my performing style and conditions and had nothing to do with the quality of the DVDs or Dr. Sawa. And I certainly didn't intend any disrespect for your review. I should have reread that review to refresh my memory before I blurted out my perception. I apologize for that.

That being said, I really appreciate the work you guys do. In fact, I'm not sure how you have time to read, view, and/or try-out the stuff sent to you. I remember the days when we all anxiously awaited the one or two books that were going to be released that year. It was like Christmas when those books arrived. Today, buying magic is like running down to the local 7-11 and buying a soft drink, except on rare occasion, but I digress.

Steven
truthteller
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Thanks for all the comments. Will report to Gabe your thoughts on the re-views and will keep practicality issues in mind on future reviews. The thing is - honestly - I don't believe the majority of the material being released today was ever intended to be performed. Most of them are ideas that have been developed only far enough so one can cobble together a viable video demo. There are of course exceptions, but for every Paul Gertner there are two Dan Army's and three Kevin Parker's. But I agree, there is value in being more explicit about where/if this trick is intended to actually be performed and what one should consider to that point.

Great.

Thanks
wolfmaster
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I think that most of reviews are written in a very sarcastic way. I never liked that. When I read reviews about a movie, a book, magic etca, I expect to read something well written and not just some personal opinion from the reviewer.
I think that removes some credibility to the review and gives the magazine a less professional look. I have tried a couple of products that were bashed by the magazines, and worked great for me. That made me trust less on what some reviewers write. Reviews should be objective, honest and made not only from a personal opinion but also from hearing the opinions of other professionals.
Finally, I have to congratulate Brad and the Magic Magazine for hearing the subscribers. You should ask us these questions not only for reviews but also how to improve the whole magazine.
Corbett
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MAGIC Reviewers:

I'm in my 3rd subscription to MAGIC, and I consider the reviews to be extremely valuable. I'm not sure I have further feedback or suggestions, but just wanted to offer thanks for great reviews. I have frequently held off on making purchases when I see that it is being reviewed in MAGIC. I want to read the review before making my decisions. I've both purchased and NOT purchased based on your comments, and they are much appreciated.

I'm sure this has been suggested before, but an additional annual issue with a reprint of all the years reviews would be wonderful. Has this been discussed before?

Corbett
truthteller
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Wolf, thanks for writing. Just to clarify, yiu state

Quote:
On 2009-08-19 17:30, wolfmaster wrote:
When I read reviews about a movie, a book, magic etca, I expect to read something well written and not just some personal opinion from the reviewer...Reviews should be objective, honest and made not only from a personal opinion but also from hearing the opinions of other professionals.


First, a review is in its nature subjective and an opinion. That can never change. While I personally try to support my opinions with data that will allow the reader to evalute the validity of my position, any review can - by it's nature - only be opinion.

The only thing one could do 'objectively' is provide a laundry list of detail (how long, how many pages, etc) and that is not a review.

So, perhaps, I am simply misunderstanding what you are trying to say - if so. I apologize and hope we can continue discussion.

As to other professional opinions, that would require to get them to write a review themselves and trust me - it's not a job a lot of guys want. Having said that, I often discuss reviews with respected collegues especially if I fear I just might not be 'getting something.' I think I have always mentioned when I have done so those times that I have.

Finally, yes, all reviews should be well written. I looked at one in last months mag and thought 'did I write this? When did I become an illiterate?' So yes, we can always improve there.

Corbett,

I think compliations ideas have been considered before. I will mention this to Stan. I think, though, it would need to be subscriber only in order for it to really benefit the magazine, but that's just a knee jerk conjecture on my part.

Brad
dsalley13
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I love your reviews, but there is a problem.....By the time you report on some turkey I just bought, it's too late!! :o)

Seriously, you guys are doing a wonderful job.


dsalley13
jonnyboy
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Actually, I think dsalley13 makes a good point. I'd much prefer to see reviews of products that have been very recently released. Sometimes, in Magic and in other magazines, some of the reviews are of products that are at least 6 months old. By that time, for these products that are only sorta new, you've already made your choice and you only read the review to see whether someone agrees with your opinion after you bought it. Also, by that time, they have often been reviewed in MUM, Linking Ring or Genii. This isn't confined to Magic, of course. All the other magazines have that same concern, in my opinion. A great example of timely review was when Paul Harris's True Astonishments DVD came out. Reviews were in the next month's issue. In any event, I only say this because I very much enjoy the reviews and turn to this section first every month.

John
cairo
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I always prefer and find most valuable reviews from working performers. Brad does a good job and I used to admire Mike Close's work. When I read reviews from dealers, collectors, or those whose work I'm not familiar with, I don't have a measure to judge if I might have a similar opinion. And that certainly limits the value of those reviews.
truthteller
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Thanks for the posts.

As to timliness - yes, that is a problem and one that we can't fix ourselves.

To give you a little insight, we could print the TA review concurrent with its release as we were sent advance copies and agreed (to Stan) that we would have reviews written by deadline. The ONLY way this was possible was by dividing the tasks between two people. Even then, my life was restricted to that project for several day.

I would love to have more reviews ready for when the product hits the shelves - but that requires creators sending their stuff to us at least two months in advance. Since the paint is wet on so many items as they are rushed out the door into the poor, patient, preorder customer's hands - I think you can see the problem.

Stephen Minch and Todd Karr both do a good job of sending galleys so we can get a head start on their books, but I don't know if I have ever been sent a 'trick' before it was already on the market. (I take that back, CSI may have been sent right before it's release. It was reviewed this month-not more than a few weeks after its release - I believe. This is because Lebanon Magic thought it important to have a review at the time of release. They deserve credit for being proactive and facillitating this.)

So - that is the challenge we face. Most items are submitted to us at the same time they go on sale - even with the best of timing - it will be at least a month before the review can be in your hands - and in truth, I won't rush a review. I think the creator deserves the time it takes for me to get to know their product. To not give them that, is to cheat them. Having said that, I can review a trick with two pages of well written instructions a lot faster than I can a trick with two pages of instructions spread out over 75 minutes of DVD babble. But I digress.

Finally, the only thing I think I can say to help is - what's the rush? Unless the item is limited to 50 units (which means we probably won't review it anyway), what's wrong with spending a couple months working on the material you bought last week and give the new stuff the time to find it's level? I know - I spent many an afternoon as a kid looking out the window waiting for the UPS man to deliver my latest shipment from LaRock's Fun and Magic Outlet. But being a reviewer has taught me that 1) there is SOOO much stuff out there right now that no one can study it all 2) the only thing more frustrating that having waisted time studying an awful product is having to rush through the experience of savoring a great one and 3) if you have a great product to study, you will NOT miss the chance for another one when it come available. Enjoy what you have. When something truly great comes out again, we will make sure you hear about it.

Brad
Markymark
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Thank you. Sometimes if a book,a dvd or a trick is too good no one wants anyone else to know about it,especially online.In fact I'm a bit like that myself!
''In memory of a once fluid man,crammed and distorted by the classical mess'' -Bruce Lee
The great Gumbini
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Brad,

You know you can't please all the people all the time. But you can always be honest in your reviews. that's what I look for. You and I have talked before on different topics and I like your honesty. That is all that can be expected. The beauty of The Magic Café is there are so many different men and women that do our very best to entertain---yet we have very different tastes. So I just want to see an honest review on effects. There is a huge difference between a "review" and an "ad" for an effect. As long as a reviewer is able, and willing, to keep the two separated I believe a great service is being provided. I'd also like to see a "scale of difficulty" measurement somehow implemented to assist potential buyers in assessing the effect from a stand point of "can I actually perform this?" I think that would be helpful especially for magicians and mentalists who are new to our Art.

Those are my thoughts on the matter. But I would also like to thank you for the work you've done so far. I do enjoy reading your thoughts on effects.


Good magic to all,


Eric
bugjack
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To reiterate something I wrote on the other thread about timeliness, yes, it'd be great if the reviews could be as timely as possible, but I understand why that sometimes can't be the case. But, I do think that the reviewers should know that in many cases a vigorous online discussion has taken place about the effects, and many of the magazine's readers have followed these threads. What we want is a different take, a deeper one, a more analytical one, or maybe just a blunter, hype-free, more honest one. The reviews I'm most disappointed in are ones that don't dig a little deeper with regards to effects that have miles of threads here on the Café.
truthteller
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Gumbystock, great idea. Here's the question though: what is our baseline for difficult? I see 12 year old kids today doing raise rise!

But that brings up the issue of usefulness too. I know I tend to view things from the eye of someone who makes his living as a performer, but I try not forget that some people will be performing for kids, grandkids and the magic club. There are tricks out there perfect for them and (from a practical perspective) wothless for me. So, I try to keep the scope of potential end users in mind but I know I sometimes still skew.

So, to your point - if we had a difficulty scale from 1-10, what would you feel is the criteria for 5?

Bugjack,

I agree! Now just give me more words!!! I am personally more interested in the big picture, but a LOT of readers want to know about the 'tricks'. It's a balancing act and I am happy to know others share my personal interest.

As to online discussions: My approach is to avoid reading online reviews until after I have spent time with the product. I WILL look at hype posts and creator comments if something about the product (or its ad) seems off. After I spend time with the product I will skim the review pages if I feel I might have a point which is too obvious to be worth making or something that may have been overlooked that might need more explanation - but ultimately I never want the internet to become my basis for reviews - too many people of too many backgrounds with too many agendas with too many diverse needs and wants.

And that I think is the main benefit of magazine reviews - over time you learn our value system and can give context to our words. Just because I hate something doesn't mean you should - it depends on why I hate it.

Thanks for the great comments.

Brad
Steven Steele
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Brad,

Regarding the time line, how about an announcement in each issue of what is coming down the pipeline? Maybe the suppliers can let you know when you'll be getting a submission, factor in your schedule, and printing schedule and then you'll have an idea when a review would be available. I think the suppliers working closely with the reviewers would help all involved. Back to you.

Steven
michaelmystic2003
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It frustrates me that some reviews focus on one specific factor of the product throughout the whole review and barely even touch the stuff I as the consumer REALLY want to know. For instance, Jason England's recent review of Michael Vincent's DVD set focused ONLY on the fact that Vincent's act was similar to Ricky Jay's... he barely covered material, teaching, etc.
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truthteller
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Steven, that's an interesting idea. Not sure of producers would follow through - we all know how preorders and the like get delayed - but it is worth exploring. Will bring it up with Stan.
Michael, what specifically are the issues you are personally interested in? I don't know if anyone has ever actually stated them to us - we all just kind of presumed we were all on nearly the same page.
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