Monday, December 31, 2012

Vanish Magic Magazine

Vanish Magic Magazine if it some how managed to pass you by is a completely free magic e-magazine. If you wondering how they can to afford to be free, it's exactly how you think with Ads. A whole lot of ads. Reading you may feel if there is as much as there is content. If it saves me five bucks who am I to complain. It's a good sized e-magazine around 80 pages. I won't review each one as it's free just download them all and see for your self.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Mystic Menagerie

The Mystic Menagerie is a quarterly e-magazine for the Bizarre Performer. They have done nothing but consistently improve since issue one. They offer the first issue free, and the other issues are reasonably priced. While the first issues are a little on the short side the later issues are around fifty pages. The contents are top-notch, and come from knowable names in the bizarre community. So far each issue manages to remain relatively ad free.

I don't have every issue but I do plan to do a review of the ones I do have because a good review of each can be hard to find and much needed when trying to decided which issue will best serve your limited funds. So there's that to look forward to in 2013.

Links to individual reviews:
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #1
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #2
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #3
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #4
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #5
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #6
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #7
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #8
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #9
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #10
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #11
The Mystic Menagerie Issue #12

Monday, December 24, 2012

They don't want you to learn

So I found this article in my feed today. Basically the article claims that magic shops don't want you to learn sleight of hand because it makes them less profit. Besides being such a very cynical view point, I think it shows a lack of knowledge of supply and demand and human nature. There is not some retailer Illuminati trying to keep people dependent on gimmicks. The simple fact is that people want instant results, the author of the article self admits that when he started he had no desire to spend hours practicing sleight of hand. There's that old saying that an amateur does 100 tricks for a dozen people and the professional does a dozen tricks for hundreds of people. When your goal is to impress your family and friends with your magic prowess you need a new trick every week that you can master in no time. So wheres the market at for the local shops, it's in the easy to master self working gimmick, so that's what they stock. They stock what they think people want to buy, what there's a demand for.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Free magic DVD from Penguin Magic

So as stated before like most people I have a weakness for things I'm told are free and the free beginner DVD from Penguin Magic was no exception. I may do a review later but there are two things that annoyed me right off the bat about this free "DVD". First is that it's a gigabyte direct download. That's the kind of bull that will mess up a lower end computer and poor connection. It took my computer the better part of an hour and slowed everything down to download it, luckily it made it all the way through with no issues, haveing to restart would mean I would've quit trying to get it. But I feel that if your file is over 250 megabytes it shouldn't be a direct download. That is what torrents are for, that's why every version Linux out there has a torrent option. Maybe they figure people are stupid and that if they let them torrent one thing legally they'll torrent everything else illegally. My second issue is calling it a DVD, this is one big arsed movie file, it lacks the features of a DVD like a menu or easy navigation. It's almost 3 hours long and there's no list of effects mentioned anywhere. If you're looking for a specific effect you just have to to click around the time bar looking for the right bit. It's a right pain and nothing I've seen so far seems all that great.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Have to have a blog

I have this blog as way to chronicle my efforts in the magics, and that's about all it does, though my reviews do see a good bit of traffic. Anyway I never thought of having a blog connected to my professional website (when I do finally get one). But whenever I visit to a magicians personal site, it seems all of them have a blog. With various levels of success in execution. A good few of them feel more like after thoughts than anything. I can't help but wonder if there's some unwritten rule or if some rumor went around before I joined the magic fraternity that says you have to have a blog. While I'm sure that done right a blog can help with the sales, a blog takes commitment. As I've seen with my own blog when I stop posting for long periods my view count goes right down the drain, and generally speaking most of the traffic happens in spike on the day where a post goes live. For the most part I think that the info in most magicians blogs would better serve them in other areas and they should ditch the blog otherwise.

Edit: A few days after typing this post a I found a link to this article in my Facebook feed. I have not read the whole thing but the basis of it is that if you want your site to appear in Google searches in 2013 a well executed blog will be essential.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Simple Christmas Effect.

OK real simple using basic magic skills, write a prediction on the back of an ornament hang it on the tree. Force a card on someone, then magicians choice the ornament onto another spectator. It doesn't have be the whole tree, be all "Hmm what to do? Oh I know..." walk to the tree snatch off two ornaments and let some one else pick two more and then have another person eliminate ornaments until he has the prediction. Depending on your skills there are ways to ramp it up or down.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Find ways to practice

I live in the middle of nowhere. I tell people I live at 40th and Plum, 40 miles from anywhere and plum out it in the middle of the boonies. It's a 20-30 minute car ride to town and another 10-15 to anything like a mall. With the lack of a job and the cost of gas this makes performing for people a bit of a pain to accomplish. And the friends and family are a little tire of my magic crap. So when I wanted to learn to read the tarot I had to figure out a way to do readings without people. What I came up with a blog doing reading for the various Zodiac signs. And it worked, I now know the cards decently well and how to relate them and present them in a way for other people to make sense of them. I also learned that I don't really know jack about the zodiac signs that aren't my own. I still need to get out and do effects for people but keeping an eye out for a ways to build skills will never hurt.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Swami By P. Craig Browning

A free book on the use of the Swami, how could I say no. Let me start by saying that I don't like Mr. Browning at all. Seriously everything that I have say that's nice about this work wounds my soul. I've never found anything to disagree with him about the actual working of effects but just about any other matter we disagree on. You won't find me buying any of his works but I have a hard time saying no to something that's free. I've not read all his free works but I have read his free books on bizarre and seance work. This book on the swami is so much better than those two in execution. And it has actual effects in it which I don't recall those other two having. Some of the effects are from other performers other than Mr. Browning, a great boon to the tome. The effects all seem like they are good, can't say till I actually try them. And there is a going over of Acidus Novus, (this is the second place I've seen it taught and I wonder at the >$100 price tag of it if so many places have permission to teach for far less money) My biggest complaint so far is that the gimmick that he teaches how to construct unless you already own the tools would cost you more than just buying several pre-mades. And according to him the gimmick will last forever if taken care of so it's not like you'll have a lot of uses for the tool after you make your gimmick. My second biggest complaint is the same as for his other works in that there are some poorly edited points.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Solitary Seance by Raymond Buckland

Unlike the other books I've reviewed this one is not for magicians it's for the general public. It is a book aimed at people who want to contact the spirits alone at home. I would like to do a seance show and host a legitimate seance and following the advice to read everything one can on the subject both for the performer and for the layman I decided to get this book. When I asked the clerk in the store about this book he told me he had not read but when comes to spirit communication and people saying "he wrote the book on it" that Raymond Buckland is who they are talking about. He may have wrote the book but all I got was the introduction. Now I've not read any of his other works but at times this book feels padded, especially when he says thing like 'A is correct but that's not to say that B lacks merit'. One example of padding is the section titled "Religion or Practice" after he answer the question, he spends three pages going over the history of the spiritualism based religion, including the fascinating but pointless tidbit about how one building was built by repeatedly lifting the whole structure and building a new bottom floor. While interesting the information provides no real value, at best it is vague historical context and has a tenuous justification for being under that heading.

The book itself is rather on the small side the text portions are easily obscured by my hand, and it may just be the cynic in me but I feel the reason for the diminutive size is two fold first if it were a larger book most of the entries would shrink from several pages to barely one to one and a half and the book would only be a third of it's thickness and thickness matters more to the subconscious of the shopper. In the section on spirit boards there is a not so subtle suggestion to purchase his own board over the Ouija board (a quick google reveals that his board is less than aesthetically pleasing). He could have at least split up the derision of the Ouija and the suggestion for his own. One thing I don't care for is the huge amount of divination systems touched on in the book, the author does explains his justifications of how they can be considered a form of spirit communication, but I kind of feel that is out of place. Although I suppose the aim for a solitary ability may have necessitated the need. I did a lot of skipping when it came to the the actual how and meaning of things the few time I checked in I found nothing there I wasn't already familiar with. Like I said it was touched on, all the info that was given is what could be best described as the bare minimum information needed to attempt the divination.

I'm having trouble feeling like this book earned my $15 I don't really know anything leaving that I didn't going in beyond historical factoids. My main issue lies with the shortness of the chapters, simply because for every subject in the book to which only a few scant pages are dedicated there are whole books to be found. I'm rather sure I've wrote longer Skype messages on some of the subjects. It's more an introduction to various spiritualistic and divinatory techniques than a book on how to perform a seance alone. You could buy it, find the ones you prefer, and then get the longer tomes on the subjects. I feel I would have been better served had he narrowed it to a few techniques and gone in depth on them than the brief runs downs provided.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Making Magic look Bad.

There are a lot of magicians that think its the bad magicians that make magic look bad. They blame the Tyro that has not perfected his routine before taking to the the street. The say things like most people only every see a live magician once in their life. Of course the same people that say that are also the same ones that say the reason no one wants to see them perform is that their target spectator has previously seen someone that was bad at magic which seems unlikely if the most people only ever see magic live once rule is true.

If you want to blame someone for making magic look bad how about network TV, the week that I placed this post in draft there were two TV shows that poked fun at those with a magic hobby. Not even snide little jabs these were full blown if you have a magic hobby you are a dork episodes. But I've rarely (read never) seen a post on a forum about how the portrayal of those with this hobby on television are bad for our image. It's all the clumsy amateurs fault.

The image of magicians is where it is today not from the bumbling of the amateur but from the popularity of the professional. I recently saw footage of Harry Blackstone Sr performing  he was doing effects like they were bullet in a machine gun pow, pow, pow, pow. And the bouquet from nowhere may be mystical the first time but it's just a silly trick when you do over ten times in rapid succession. And think of how many magicians perform like that trick after trick after trick. Even the stage magician with the super illusions it's just one impossible thing after another and at this point there's very little mystery to a lot of it. It's visually appealing but it's not like the audience doesn't have a idea where the half naked lady was hiding. It's what Robert Neal would call distractive magic, it does little more than offer a distraction from the everyday humdrum. I'm not trying to put down that sort of entertainment, people enjoy it they wouldn't keep buying tickets. I'm just saying it doesn't really help the image of magic.