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RandyWakeman
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1) What is the difference between magic and tricks? Why is this important?

2) Are magic clubs and conventions "good" for magic? Why or why not?

3) Magic and the Internet- what is good and bad?

4) What components make for a "GOOD" magic book?

5) What components make for a "GOOD" magic video? What do you expect out of one?

6) Books versus video as teaching tools. Which is better, and why?

7) What makes a move, routine, or a presentation "original"?

8) Is originality important to you, and why? Should it be?

9) What is "talent" anyway, and what do magicians need to understand about it?

10) What were your best "magical memories"? What person, book, or show motivated you the most? Why?

11) Performance scripting vs. improv or semi-improv: what is best suited to what conditions, and what performing styles?

12) Define successful magical performances in your own terms?
Mike Robbins
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6. I've seen this one discussed ad nauseum in many places and there's one answer I've never seen:

It depends on the person. Some people are visual learners and learn better from a visual media. Some are auditory and learn better from that type of media. Some are kinesthetic (feeling) and learn better from that type of media.

There's no "one size fits all." Each has its place.

Mike
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RandyWakeman
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True enough- that's the question that has been discussed at great length. It seems to be an acquired taste. Those who avoid books, or never get started are not likely to change their personal preferences. Those who built their fundamentals with books, tend not to lose track of their value.

If the development of magic through the years, and the historical progression of it is important to you- there is little choice but to draw from the printed page.

For most of the above, there is no universal answer. There will be some commonalities, I would imagine.
Scott F. Guinn
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Quote:
On 2002-08-18 04:05, Mike Robbins wrote:
6. I've seen this one discussed ad nauseum in many places and there's one answer I've never seen:

It depends on the person. Some people are visual learners and learn better from a visual media. Some are auditory and learn better from that type of media. Some are kinesthetic (feeling) and learn better from that type of media.

There's no "one size fits all." Each has its place.

Mike
Actually, I've seen that answer quite a lot, even on this very board!
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RandyWakeman
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One area that is seldom universally defined is "originality." Most would say that it is "good," but not go much farther with it.

While normally restricted to method and plot, the originality of expression and presentation is far more important than is normally observed.
Stephen Long
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There is so much here that I'd like to comment on.
I may get back to some of the other questions later, but for now I'll stick with 10 and 12.

10) The essay that inspired me (and continues to do so) more than any other essay or book I have read on magic is Paul Harris' "Astonishment Is Our Natural State Of Mind" essay at the very beginning of the Art of Astonishment, volume one.
To those of you who have either not read this essay, (even for those of you who have), I would say this:
Read it.

Read it and then read it again; soak in its every word.
For me, it is worth the price of the book and defines every thing magic could (and should) be.

I am not experienced or skilled enough yet to put all of Paul's philosophy into practice.
But I continue to try, little by little.
A good friend of mine has a two word philosophy that he has lived by throughout his youth. I will quote him now:
"One day..."

12) A successful magical performance in my own terms would be defined as follows:

Personally speaking, in terms of my magic and the way it is progressing with experience, the most successful performances are the ones I look back on and scowl at.

The ones in which I got burned, caught, shunned, and spurned by my audience.
Although I despise those occasional performances, I need them to improve and take another step forward.
If every performance we did was perfect we would never learn.
This I stand by.
This I have to force myself to believe after a negative magical experience.
Because, through all that negativity, I took something positive away.
That can only be a good thing.

Of course, it would be all too easy to call a successful performance one in which the spectators laughed and cheered and fainted and... so on.
A performance in which you astonished their socks off, so to speak.

While those are certainly the types of performances that I enjoy more than any other, I rarely learn anything from them which does not make them successful for me personally (or selfishly, if you will).

I hope my ramblings here made enough sense to be just about understood.

Stephen
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RandyWakeman
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Quote:

12) A successful magical performance in my own terms would be defined as follows:

Personally speaking, in terms of my magic and the way it is progressing with experience, the most successful performances are the ones I look back on and scowl at.


I'm with you, Stephen - - if I recast the question to suit your answer, it would read more like "which magical performances of your own were the most productive and helpful in improving your future efforts, and why?"
Magnus Maccormack
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Quote:
On 2002-08-18 02:12, RandyWakeman wrote:
1) What is the difference between magic and tricks? Why is this important?

6) Books versus video as teaching tools. Which is better, and why?

8) Is originality important to you, and why? Should it be?

12) Define successful magical performances in your own terms?


#1 Magic is performance art that entertains, tells a story, transports (figuratively unless your are Copperfield) the audience etc. Tricks are...Uncle Bob.

#6 As an educator who does magic my opinion is that each have their benefits (excuse me while I make myself comfortable on this fence...) The important thing is what works for which kind of learner. Some people respond better to visual learning than literal learning. For them videos and lectures are great. Some respond better to literal learning. For them, books are the best way to go. The important thing to remember is that one should avoid concentrating on one at the expense of the other. A balance that takes into account your personal learning style, what is available at your magic dealer and, of course, how much you can afford to buy.

#8 Originality of performance is the most important thing. Some of the best music is performed by people who did not compose it themselves. Does this mean that a musician should not perform a piece by Mozart? No, of course not. Rather, every effort should be made by the performer to maintain the original spirit of the piece. If changes are made every effort should be made to credit the composer. The same can be said for magic. Many effects are performed every day. All magicians put their own touches on them depending on their own personality and the situation in which they are performing. When significant changes are applied an effect can become original, influenced by composer xyz.

Very thought prevoking questions Randy.
Good work.
Kard16
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5). It should offer you something more then just effects and methods, it should go beyond that. It should be about style, and presentation, and something I really liked was those little segments in the malone series giving his insights on different topics like what to do when they're are kids etc. I have never got a chance to watch your video randy but in the near future I will.
6)Video offer a more visual learning aid which is usefull with sleights, but pushing that rewind button gets a little annoying. Though videos are nice, books offer more for the money, so I would go with books.
7)Style. not everyone can be a blain wanna be, it should be about you, not what you wanna be. Your personality should be incorporated in your routine to truly make it yours.
12)If you get a good reaction, then you got a succesful performence. With my experience, if you get someone to curse, i think you did preety good
RandyWakeman
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Quote:
Some of the best music is performed by people who did not compose it themselves. Does this mean that a musician should not perform a piece by Mozart? <snip>
Rather, every effort should be made by the performer to maintain the original spirit of the piece.


Now, we are getting somewhere. Some of the best magic is performed by magicians who did not develop it from scratch. Paul Gertner did not invent cup and balls, yet his routine is uniquely his . . . and terrific. Don Alan in no way invented Harry Devano's deck-- yet, his performance of it has Don Alan's stamp on it quite distinctly. Derek Dingle in no way invented coins across- yet, he performs it as well as I have ever seen it done.

Regarding the original "spirit of the piece," that is a far more slippery slope. Do you really mean that? Hofzinser created some elegant presentations, but do we really want to retain his "spirit," or add our own? The latter is what Don Alan, Paul Gertner, and Derek Dingle have done so well with "classic pieces."
PatUmphrey
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6) While I am in agreement with the "Everyone has different learning styles", I have something else to add:

I think that often times, magic students will claim " I learn better from videos ", and while I cannot justly say that this is true for the majority, it certainly appears that way. Moreover, it appears as though this is often times used as an excuse to avoid books, and purchase videos. The problem?

Books contain more information, and most importantly they contain more theory. I believe that learning from a book is a skill that needs to be practiced. If everyone would challenge themselves to learn how to make the most of a magic book, I think the magic community (especially the newbies) would benefit and grow more.

Aside: I think that videos contribute to the problem of routine duplication. When seeing someone do a routine on video, it is much easier to copy it verbatim. This is bad in that we end up having no originality.

This is not the fault of the video itself, but it is something that doesn't (moreover, cannot) occur as often with books because of their inherent lack of visual detail.

Videos have a great value in that it is much easier to learn proper timing from a video vs. a book. And lastly, there are certain techniques that would take a long time to explain in a book. The classic pass is a great example. I don't know how many times I have seen someone ask me about a pass, and then they do it like they learned in the book (remember all those pictures of the "tee-pee" formation?). Anyways, a video serves the great purpose in that you can see how a sleight is supposed to look (this is also assuming that the person you are watching on video has competent technique, which IMHO is not always the case).

My conclusion is that you obviously should have both.


8) Originality?

Originality is very important. In fact, there are routines that I will simply not perform because they are so common. Am I being anal? Yes, but that's my choice. I do not wan't to go to a table, perform something, and have someone say "I saw (insert name here) do that before". Especially if so-and-so wasn't very good and happened to expose it to them.

It is unfortunate, to me, that we live in a magic-society where we are EXPECTED to reveal the workings of our act to our fellow magicians. In fact, it seems to me that politely saying "I'm sorry, but I would like to keep this to myself. I will gladly help you with (whatever) though" is generally regarded as rude.

I am all for sharing and learning, but when we all start doing the same thing, and saying the same lines-- it gets really ..........

umm... dumb?

Okay, I lack the right words here. Anyways, I think that when you ask someone to share something with you, (a routine, not a sleight, etc), you should not EXPECT a yes, and you should RESPECT either answer you get.


In fact, on the bright side, I guess we are all lucky if someone actually ASKS, instead of just taking. I do not feel that someone elses routine is public domain unless A) It is published, or B) you have permission.

And in regards to A) above, if I know someone who is locally performing a published routine, and they show it to me, I STILL ask them if they mind. (In fact, I recall asking Geoff Williams about something he does that is not his, that I wanted to use).

Am I taking it too far? Perhaps, but originality is important to me.




10) I had a wonderful ego-stroking and motivating experience, but I have said enough. Feel free to PM me if you care to hear.


Thanks, and good questions Randy-

Pat

P.S. While this reads as though I am bitter on this subject, it is not my intent. As usual, I am very opinionated.
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RandyWakeman
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The video / book thing has been discussed heavily. It is fair to say that if you haven't tried both, you really wouldn't know.

The originality area has had some amusing exchanges. I've seen magicians argue about who "had the right to perform xxx" in their area- because one bought it a few days earlier from the magic shop than the other did!
Steven Steele
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No. 8 Originality...

In terms of the performing arts, or fine arts for that matter, originality can be found in various places. Specific to magic, the method may be original, the effect original, the presentation original, as well as many other aspects. Originality is important to me because I want the audience to remember me not somebody else. But I can be original with somebody else's creation (as much as I can be...).

I remember an old saying..."Vanities of vanities...there is nothing new under the sun."
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Magnus Maccormack
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Quote:
On 2002-08-19 02:20, RandyWakeman wrote:

Regarding the original "spirit of the piece," that is a far more slippery slope. Do you really mean that? Hofzinser created some elegant presentations, but do we really want to retain his "spirit," or add our own? The latter is what Don Alan, Paul Gertner, and Derek Dingle have done so well with "classic pieces."


What I alluding to was magic that is only slightly (sleightly?) chagned and then claimed to be original. This is more of a give credit where credit is due. By spirit I was probably taking more of a musical approach.

Later in my post I said that all magicians add their own touches to suit their personalities and performance environments. When doing so we are not really changing the routine, therefore an originial performance is not created. A personalized effect, however, is created.
RandyWakeman
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Later in my post I said that all magicians add their own touches to suit their personalities and performance environments. When doing so we are not really changing the routine, therefore an originial performance is not created. A personalized effect, however, is created.


Others may disagree, but I certainly would call Paul Gertner's "Cups and Balls" original.

If you inject yourself into your performance, you have an original performance . . . whether the basic effects have been done before or not. Patter, presentation, method, style, routining . . . all are elements of originality.
JimMaloney
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Quote:
On 2002-08-19 02:20, RandyWakeman wrote:
Hofzinser created some elegant presentations, but do we really want to retain his "spirit," or add our own? The latter is what Don Alan, Paul Gertner, and Derek Dingle have done so well with "classic pieces."


Can't we do both? Eugene Burger talks about this on Vol. 2 of his "Magical Voyages" video set. He performs Matt Schulien's "Corner in the Glass" and while talking with Jeff McBride he says that he wants the "spirit" of those who influenced him to come across in his magic, but he also wants to put the "Eugene Burger" stamp on it as well. In the case of the "Corner in the Glass," the first half of the routine is his homage to Matt Schulien, in a sense. It's fun and upbeat and everyone is enjoying themselves. However, just before the revelation of the corner, he makes it distinctly Burger-ish. He gets very mysterious and things start to feel a bit weird. So I think it can go both ways...we can retain the spirit of those before us while incorporating our own personalities into the magic.

-Jim
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RandyWakeman
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Can't we do both?


No Jim, I don't believe we can. I would hope that to our audiences, our performances becomes as uniquely ours as possible.

The notion of a "homage" to Schulien is peculiar. Would Schulien think of it as such?
While Eugene is fond of using Schulien, Baker, and Allerton effects . . . their personalities and performing styles are as divergent as one could imagine.
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