Friday, October 30, 2015

The magic cafe hates you almost as much as they like money.

So there was a thread on the Magic Cafe where a creator was being called out for not honoring his sales. And it filled up with multiple people complaining of the loss of several hundreds of dollars. And  if you've been around long enough you know what happened, the thread was deleted. While I don't know what happened before it was deleted I think the thing that bothers me the most is that the person being called made no post to defend himself. It may be a bit cynical but it I feel it looks like he was just waiting it out knowing that as an advertiser the offending thread would be removed.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Kardar Playing Cards

Chris Gould is a creative genius. One of his many marvelous creations is a reading system known as Kardar. An extension of that is his Kadar Playing cards. He did this by teaming up with another person on kickstarter. If you Google Kadar playing cards you're bound to find some complaints about a lack of communication after funding. None of that had anything to do with Chris and if you find that you would like the Kadar playing cards I urge you to go through him on Alchemy Moon for them.

The Kadar Playing Cards are his efforts to bring his kadar system to full poker deck printed by the US playing card company. I got three decks, the leather case, the coin, and both books. Worth ever penny. It's an interesting system and even if I bought the full reading book I like the system in the little booklet aimed at the average card user (read shut eye if you must) Each card has two short sentence on them bit like a fortune cookie. One sentence is usually more upbeat that the other. The art is superb and there are many secrets. Also there is a private forum with oh so much info. Chris is much more focused on building a community than on cranking out ideas.

Devils Library Vol 1

I really like the idea behind the Devil's Library of a bizarre effect that more affordable. So for the buy in price you get a leather card case that look like a book and a deck of old style cards. And an aged photograph. You also get a paper book and a pdf explaining things.

One of the down sides is that you have to age the deck yourself. The method if fully explained in the pdf. It's not hard but it is a skill and I think I'd need to do more decks to really get a good consistent look but I doubt my efforts as is would ruffle many feathers in performing.

The booklet and PDF leave no stone unturned in explaining the effect Chris Gould devised and it is so very clever. The effect is one of spirit writing and but with the include props and tale it could be so much more. I'm very happy with my purchase even if the effect is not in wheelhouse.

Why would you want a Tshirt with another performers name.

I'm sure that Danial Madison is a stellar performer but I fail to see the point in owning decks with his logo and name. And now Ellusionist released a shirt with an awesome picture and the slogan "I am Danial Madison." I just don't see the appeal in wearing a shirt with some other persons name. And as a professional performer it would be unconscionable to wear an advertisement for another performer.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bizarre magic not really it's own form of magic.

Theres an old post on here somewhere about what bizarre magic is but I've changes since then. The thing about bizarre magic is that I think it's more a theme now then a style. There are no bizarre magic effects. To me I've notice that most bizarre effects are just some other styles effect with a odd presentation. Take a look at one of the review I did recent for 3 wishes. It's a nice prop with a great story but it's just a copper silver trick dressed up nice.

I'd like to say that it as a style requires more out of a performer than other methods but I think that really most magicians are crud. Like Sturgeon's Law says 90% of everything is bad. Fact of the matter is you don't have to be good performer to do good magic. I remember at one party I was at this guy I don't know comes up to me and takes out a playing card out of his wallet and tells he's kept it there ever since I did the magic. I guarantee whatever effect it was I did was crap. But it was still amazing enough for this guy to carry a reminder and bring it up. I can do way better stuff now. So like all other forms of magic the better a performer creates more magic. That said on the whole most of the people I know that focus on the bizarre side are little more focused on acting ability than on a perfect vanish.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Props do I need them.

There is a saying that anyone one can perform Hamlet with a skull but it takes a true actor to move people with a canon ball. And while I know that I can use all the help I can get setting the mood I just love props as they are I'd own them even if I didn't want to perform. I like to set up little wunderkabinett style display around my living area.
Most of the props in that picture all except that planchette were made by me. None of them have an outright magical use, they're just for ambiance.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Lebanon Circle's 3 Wishes / Lycanthrope Moon

3 Wishes 3 coins 3 effects. Turn around from ordering to receiving was not too bad seeing as it had to cross an ocean. And the coins, images fail to capture their beauty. I was one of the early orders that got extra practice coins which look like ones that were rejects from the plating process. I kind of want to plate one of the extras in copper.

As for the effects they are very clever and run the gamut from pure story telling to a bit knuckly. The first effect is appropriately called 3 Wishes, in it you tell the story of child that wanders into the woods and ends up face to face with a fairy who give her a choice of one out of three wishes which corresponds to a colored moons. The effect is based on Docc Hilford's Nightmare Coins which in turn is based on the ubiquitous uncle pulling coins from behind your ear as a child. I think the tale they give you to tell could stand on it's own without the effect. Though I feel it does have a down side, there is a chance that if you perform for a single person and they pick the wrong wish there is no good ending for the magic side. Lycanthrope moon is basically a bit of wolf lore that turns out to prove the participant is possibly a werewolf. It's interesting and straightforward but lacks the level of story telling in the first one. The last effect is listed in the pdf as a bonus. It's called Clair de Lune and it's move heavy by comparison, not difficult moves but they were initially awkward for me. It's about moon light and it's effects, you start with two silver moons that change one at a time into two gold moons and then end with one of each.

In addition to the coins there is a nice wooden box, I did have spot of trouble with the box it's held close by two sets of magnets one of the magnets pulled it's partner out of it seating but it was relatively easy fix. The PDF also cover some extra slights and instruction for a hold out. Under certain lighting conditions the silver and gold can be hard to tell apart, the PDF say this is intentional but I'm not a fan.

Definitely not cheap but it is important to remember it is actual silver and gold involved, it is also important to keep in mind you are purchasing a utility item, and that with some imagination you could have way more routines for it than just those provided. That said I am happy with my purchase,

Monday, August 10, 2015

Sunless Sea's and a lesson it teaches

Sunless Seas is a 2D top down ocean exploration survival game with a focus on story telling. It's a rouge like, for those unfamiliar with this term a rouge like game is one where your characters death is the end of the play-through. With each death you start over and the world changes from what it was last time.

How is this relevant to magic blog, well as I said Sunless Seas has a focus on story telling and when you die you're faced with running stories you're been through before and you die a lot. Obviously you can make different choices each time and get a slightly different story but either way by your fourth or fifth time you find your self clicking through with the words barely registering. And this can happen in performance by the time you actually get out and perform you've probably said your lines a over a hundred times, told the tale to your mirror  over and over again. Time after time, and now you gotta do it again it's so easy to be meh.

This is doubly true if you're tired or upset, I know I just gone through the motions a time or two when I really want to not and I know my performance has suffered for it. Theres no easy solution it is up to you to find what you need to revitalize a flagging performance.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Inspire Friday

I did a tree reading over the internet and this an excerpt of what the recipient had to say. Seeing as I'm not anywhere near a master of tree reading, I find it inspiring in that it shows that getting out there and doing it is important as practice.

"The reading was very accurate. Somewhat creepy in a way like he's reading through my facade." - S. Silver in response to her tree reading.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Bill Montana Penguin Live Lecture

I knew of Bill Montana from the bizarre forums I frequent, I knew him to be a stand up guy, he's just given away so much good information there. His Dark History and Pitch Book Posts are must reads. And he gave me a copy of his spirit bell book for free just because I was curious. So I was surprised to see all the negative reviews on his lecture. I checked on the cafe for reviews and found it to be a bit more balanced, definitely seems a polarizing lecture, people either loved it or hated it. So with that in mind plus my personal knowledge of the man I decided to get this lecture.

After viewing I can see why so many people hated it, but in my opinion those people are idiots. I think the biggest problem for penguin's audience is the lack of a line of standard easy to reproduce effects. Not everything he does works perfectly but seeing as he aims to be real, that's the sort of thing you have to expect from real life. A lot of what he teaches lacks the ta-da moment of the sort of stuff we normally see from penguin. What it does have is the potential for a deeper connection and impact. Take his Pulse effect, where two or more peoples heartbeats synchronize. What's more personal than your heartbeat. Take the effect away from traditional performance venue and over into say a private reading. You do enough readings on readings and you'll see the idea of doing a little something before the reading to help get on the same mental page as the sitter and in less esoteric books it's often some simple mentalism trick. Instead use pulse and at the start tell them that you need to get lined up with them then after say "Two hearts beating in unison and where the body goes the mind follows."

The lecture also came with two PDF's, The Lotus Flower and Psychokinetic Plastic. Both are wonderful ideas that we get to see in use in the video.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Demons in this day and age

This takes place back when I worked in a call center. So if you told me that there are still people that believe in possession by artifact I would think you were speaking of some back water second or third world locale. I would not think that person would be working for Apple in a state capital. But as it turns out one of the people on my team believes her niece and nephew are under the influence of a book of spells that belonged to her half sister's great*?-grandmother, who was apparently a witch (not surprisingly that an automatic bad thing ). To be fair the book is supposed to sufficiently spooky looking and the kid are doing some weird sleep walking stuff.

And two other people on the team have personally witnessed an exorcism.

And for those curious about the 2 cents I contributed, when I found her looking up what to do online, I suggested sage smudging and offered to take any witch touched items off her hands.

Friday, July 31, 2015

$100 deck of cards.

Now I've paid a lot to get a deck but never more than $20. And I know that some limited decks can sell for a $60+ online but usually those are decks that you can't buy anymore. But Ellusionist has a deck that is listed for $100 reading the page maybe you can get for $25 but that seems like alot considering you have to have their $150 membership.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Thoth's 27 Messengers by Craig Browning

Thoth's 27 messengers

So full disclosure, while I find no fault with the author from a technical stand point I do feel strongly about him as a person. So my review may be harsher than it needs to be. If not for the supplier I trust, the booklet, and the mention of Philmon Vanderbeck being the inspiration I would not have purchased this item.

So lets get right down to it, this is a reading method jazzed up with 21 card trick. And it is good. But it was good the first time I read it in the supplemental OORT. More on that in a second. There is also some fascinating history about the 21 card trick, from the introduction of 7*7*7. In fact pages 6 - 18 (more than half the actual content) seems to be entirely from other works. The details of the actual method matches my supplemental OORT word for word. The difference is one of formatting. The issue I have is I was promised a work based on an idea of Philmons not an exact copy of his work.

As for the actual works of the effect, theres a small fib on the ad copy for that as well. It says it uses just the major arcana but in actuality you also need 4 aces and a blank card. (I've never had a tarot deck that came with a blank card so their existence was news to me) So its a 27 card trick. One of the things I'd liked to have seen included is a way to scale it down. Its a math trick and should be work able with any multiples of three.

As for the bits of this tome not penned by others we have most of that space filled with a sample reading. Which I found to be well worth the page space. There's also a bit on what to do if the wrong card comes up or if a dark card is the one picked.

There is also one page devoted to the booklet. The booklet is a great idea in theory, but what you're given needs a lot of work before it looks professional enough to hand out to people paying for your services.

I'm not unhappy with my purchase, I've paid more for less. In the end I feel that you're better off spending a few bucks more on The supplemental OORT which has the exact method plus so much more.

If you found this review helpful or thought it sucked let me know in the comments.

Edit to add, I've been informed that the reason it has to be 27 and not something smaller like 12 or 9 is because that is the amount that will let you spell out any name.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Slate Killers by Bob Cassidy

I'll come right out and say that I don't think this was worth $20. I think you can tell Penguin thinks so too otherwise why tie on some unrelated info to the end, more on that later.

It opens with a performance, pretty strait forward. Bob opens on the history of the items as legit tools. Then he has a participant hold the slates while another person picks a word out of the dictionary. That takes the first 10 minutes out of 50.

Then cut to Bob alone at a table. He start by explaining how to justify the use of slates. Then he shows several ways to prove the slates blank and a few sample routines including how to to properly Hindu force. Here and there he sort of mentions other idea and methods without to much detail. Then he says his good byes and the screen goes black. This is at about thirty minutes. The last twenty minutes are about a threaded dictionary and a peek wallet.

It's good info but it could have been more rather easily. I think penguin realized that it was a little on the light side info wise for the price point or why add the threaded dictionary and wallet part. The threaded dictionary is a dictionary that lets you open it to the same place a participant did. Which in this context is kind of useless. Slates are not really a find out what the participant picked and mark it up that way kind of tool. It can be done and how to do it is sort of mentioned offhandedly but they definitely couldn't say they taught how to mark the slates after you know what spectator chose.

I think I would have appreciated him showing us how to make the slates, he just says to cut them out of DVD cases about playing card size. So making nice slates takes trial and error. His look really nice, the one's I've made so far are no where near as nice or as uniform. And so far I've ruined three cases. Just finding case that I could use was a pain. Most had that recycle symbol punched into them. I also would have like more info on handlings I thought of a few obvious options watching it that could have been added. I would also have like to see some info on presenting them as spirit contact tool seance style. You know actually delivering a message. The video really just shows them a reveal for standard mentalism.

If you found this review helpful or thought it sucked let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

French Postcards by Chris Philpott Highbrow or Sleazy

I logged into the The Magic Cafe to find some spam hawking French Postcards by Chris Philpott, first I want to say any Out of this World without playing cards is already better than the original but that's not what I want to talk about. And this seems like an effect I wouldn't object to myself. This effect uses post cards that contain "tasteful" nudity and is basically can you predict which ones are dirty. Now a while ago a set of effects called Tricks against humanity came out. And I recall that a lot of people thought it was the worst thing ever. I remember reading how decent magicians would never have a use for it and the audience wouldn't accept it. But with this post card thing few seem to have that complaint in fact most of the complaining I saw was more to do with the sexism of the cards being all but one female. I can definitely see that last complaint as valid especially if the one male card is played in a homophobic manner.

It's just I fail to see why this effect should be ok while tricks against was not, to me all that is different is the boldness of the crassness. I'll be honest and say that the black pool prediction is one of my favorite effects and has never been ill received mostly cause I can tell when not to do it. I has a friend that knows I can do way more impressive things but he requests I show that one more than anything. I usually just pass him the cards and let him cause he enjoys doing it 100% more than I ever will.

A post I wrote about character on some forum

If you are a performer especially if you are paid to perform then it is of the utmost importance that you know all about your character. Notice how I say 'know your character' instead of 'have a character'. If you are a performer then you have a character and it's important to know who it is even if the character is just yourself.

Knowing your character is important because you need to be able to answer the five w's in relation to your character. The five w's being; who, what, when, where, why, and sometimes how. I suppose if you twisted my arm I would say that three of those are more important for the spinner than the others. At the very least take a look at your act and say "Who am I, What am I doing, Why am I doing it?"

Knowing the answer to these helps you know what sort of story you're telling. Human's are a story telling creature it's part of who we are. If you think that you're not telling a story that you are just doing an exhibition of moves then you are telling a story proclaiming to the world "Hey look how great I am". Knowing the answers to these question can help you with everything from choreographing your set down to the outfit you wear.

I'm going to answer some of these questions for my self to better illustrate my point.

  • Who am I? I am Magnus, a wizard with my stave(s) at my side.
  • What am I doing? Engaging in battle against my foes.
  • Why am I do it? For Glory

These are the things I think about when I spin. I use the w's even deeper in relation to those answers. For example spinning a single stave in a buzzsaw I think what does this move do? My answer in context is that it provides a magical barrier as long as I'm spinning it. So the why am I doing it becomes because the enemy has launched an attack. The next question becomes what is the result of that attack? Did I successfully resist or did it have an effect? What does that look like?

The answers to these questions might change dramatically act to act or not. But a serious performer can't afford to ignore them.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Keyword Searches and huge downloads.

One of the stats blogger tracks is what words were googled that brings people to the site. The only one I can see for the last month is "penguin magic torrent" I can't help but wonder if the person who google that and came to my site was dissapointed. If you don't want to read the relevant post, I was basically complaining about the download options for files larger than a quarter of a gigabyte that there needs to be alternate download methods.

I live in a rural location that means I'm lucky to not have dial-up. I have the slowest DSL possible with no options other than costly satellite based internet. I've called my ISP cause I needed just a few extra megs upload to qualify for a job and they told me that I was at the limit of the technology in my area. I called their competitor to find out they don't have the lines ran in my area to provide service and told me that there were not enough people in my area to justify running lines. If I don't use my internet at all a gigabyte download takes over an hour, it'll take even more if I try to use the net and that's if it doesn't drop the connect. I can not imagine that I in the minority net wise. I feel that penguin should code alternative sizes of their videos something I often have to do anyway so I can put them on my phone without wasting space and/or provide a torrent link to the larger files. Though I can understand their reasoning for not doing so.

Brian Brushwood on Penn and Teller Fool us.

I think he's taught several different parts of this on his scam school either way awesome act.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Blood every where.

I was doing an effect at some bar and as I was getting my cards out of my steel card clip I cut open the knuckle of my thumb. And it was a bleeder, luckily it didn't ruin the effect but it did get on a few cards. Had to wrap my thumb in a napkin after though.

Daemon Tarot Review

So I was in the Bsarnes and Noble and I saw the Daemon Tarot, which is an excessively misleading name. For while it and tarot are both decks of cards there the similarity ends. So instead of being the tarot with demon pictures and symbololgy added it is instead a deck of cards depicting daemons from a very old book called The Infernal Dictionary. It comes with a book that is sparse on info but does offer some interesting information on all things depicted and offers an interesting spread. The real question is how were the cards, well keep in mind that this is just my opinion of one deck, but they sucked. Forgetting the fact that you can expect playing card quality from a tarot deck. The cards I revived seem to be from different production run. Half the cards are shorter than the other half. Which can has it uses. But still not happy about it also I don't think they match in tone like I think half of them are subtly lighter. Also my biggest issue is the printing on each card what is basically the text you would find in the book on that card. To be honest if the cards did not have the text under the images I think they still would have had potential. And it still probably good from a reading stand point, the few reading I did with it went well. But it just going to be gathering dust now.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Inspire Friday

“The anthropologists got it wrong when they named our species Homo sapiens (‘wise man’). In any case it’s an arrogant and bigheaded thing to say, wisdom being one of our least evident features. In reality, we are Pan narrans, the storytelling chimpanzee.” Terry Pratchett

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Switchcraft Version 34

It's been over two years since I bought Switchcraft but I got an email today about an updated version and I guess a few emails must of went to spam because this is 4 versions past the last update I got. I've not read it yet but I know it'll be good. I just feel like mentioning this cause nothing else I've bought in all my magic time gets free upgrades like this. It's approaching 800 pages and it would have been all too easy for Elliott J. Bresler to release all this work as 4 separate books at $25 a piece. This work is way past being a good value for the price and would hurt no ones collection.