Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hand Care

Let's create a scenario shall we? You're performing your star quality magic for a few people surrounding you. You`re the center of attention. Things are going well, your magic is strong, your sleights are imperceptible... but your spectators barely take notice. They look beyond the magic, beyond your finger-fliging, and just see this:

Nice visual eh?

It's astonishing how many magicians I see who have the ugliest hands imaginable. This is even more frequent amongst teen magicians, many of which who, let's face it, couldn't care less about hand care. And that's a problem.

As magicians, our hands are our number one asset. They are what the spectator will be staring at 90% of the time you're performing. So, why go out there with Crypt Keeper Claws? Nobody likes to see it. For some of the more OCD spectators you may encounter, it could ruin their experience. We want to create an attractive, pleasing image with our magic... the way we dress, the way we handle our props, the way we speak, the way we carry ourselves. Having hands that are cracked to the point of bleeding isn't helping.

The thing about hand care is that it's so EASY... and it's one thing I happen to know a fair bit about. I'm probably one of the few teenaged guys out there that has bottles of Hand Lotion on his dresser and actually uses them for their intended purpose. Let's go over a few tips.

First of all, wear gloves in cold weather. I know this is a given but many people neglect this simple precaution. Your hands will dry up in no time if you leave them to the mercy of the chilly winter's day. Get a nice, warm, insulated glove. If practicality is an issue for you in terms of gloves, don't get those gigantic puffy ski gloves... they prohibit major finger movement and are next to useless. Get a nice, thin, warm leather glove.

Next, MOISTURIZE. I don't care how feminine it sounds, it's so important. Every night, before you go to bed, just rub half a squirt of hand lotion into your hands and let it soak in over night... not only will this keep your hands looking great but will keep them moist and tacky, which is ideal for sleight of hand close-up magic.

Third, for the love of God, take care of your fingernails... they are so important and the condition of your nails is always noticeable. Get a cuticle push done and get rid of the excess skin that grows above your cuticles... Clean your nails if they are dirty and cut them on a regular basis. Don't even give them a chance to grow the least bit long... trust me, this is SUCH an unattractive look.

Another point... get Manicures on a monthly basis. Again, this may seem feminine, but it's so helpful... they'll get your hands looking their best. Just pop into your local spa or salon and they'll give you a quick manicure to make your hands look and feel amazing. Remember, you can't spell "Manicure" without "Man".

And finally, my own personal secret: Crabtree and Evelyn's "Gardeners Hand Recovery" solution. This stuff is a miracle. It's not cheap (anywhere from $15 to $20 a bottle) but it works wonders... one scrub of the hands with this stuff once or twice a week will keep your hands looking and feeling amazing. It leaves your hands smooth and moist without being oily or sticky. The solution has thick sea salt in it that exfoliates, scrubs deep and removes all of your dead skin. It's a brilliant product and it's my secret weapon. You're welcome.

That's all I have on that! Hopefully you take something away from this and keep your hands looking as great as the rest of your beautiful self.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Someone Who Does Things RIGHT

Fabulous routine, isn't it? David Regal is everything great about magic... he's technically skilled, likeable, and entertaining as hell. He knows how to make us CARE about his magic, as his scripting and presentation is extremely engaging and relateable (No doubt helped by the fact that he is a writer for television shows such as Rugrats and Everybody Loves Raymond). I mean, the man made me invest myself in a five minute Ambitious Card routine... to make a magician care about Ambitious Card is no easy feat, especially a routine that's five freaking minutes long. I could watch Mr. Regal perform for hours. I just did myself a favour and ordered myself his DVD set "Premise, Power, and Participation" (Which, by the way, is on for a ridiculous deal at World Magic Shop... Can't beat a four DVD set for $70!). You know you love a magician when you buy his DVDs just to watch him perform.

Long live Regal. May others follow in his footsteps. The man's got it right.

The End-All Visual Reference For Erdnase

An expert on Erdnase? Finally!

Look at this. The style! The grace! My god, I cannot possibly fathom the sheer amount of minutes put into these techniques.

First of all, kudos to whoever made this spoof trailer... it's freakin' hilarious.

Now, let's get into this... Wesley James, three-time First Place winner of the International John Malkovich Look-a-like Competition, decided he was passable enough at the techniques taught within perhaps the single most important work in the art of card technique to create a visual reference teaching the technique.

Honestly, when I saw this trailer without knowledge that this DVD actually existed, I thought it was a joke. But it does exist. And it still is a joke, but one of the unfunny kind of jokes.

I've never seen someone claim to be the end-all expert on ANYTHING without being able to practice what they preach. Sure, Wesley James can technically do the techniques, in the sense that he can complete a move from start to finish. That is, unfortunately, the extent of what can be said of his work. Isn't that a wonderful Charlier Cut?

The fact that ANYONE should try to enhance or adapt the material within Erdnase is an insult... those of us actually working hard, busting ourselves in an attempt to learn and perfect the work within the book don't appreciate half-assed attempts at making DVDs teaching the technique we're diligently attempting to master. Especially from a man like Wesley James.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Time To Get Tudor-ed

Brian Tudor - Boy Wonder. Let's see what kind of shenanigans he's up to now, shall we?

Wow. Let's begin.

First of all, he reminds me a little of something...

Neat eh?

Mr. Tudor seems like quite the angry fellow... I imagine the only way he is given gigs and lecture bookings is through the fact that he frightens clients into submission. Can he speak a single sentence without swearing?

Silent, still reactions are better than people clapping and cheering for your magic? Yeah, okay. Just because you've never had the latter reaction, it doesn't mean the unimpressed silence that you mistake for awestruck bewilderment is better. "Make no mistake 'bout it."

The Charlier Cut sucks? Really? Okay, whatever you say. I don't want you to fly out here to battle me in card magic and flourishing... because, in the event that you lost, I wouldn't want the Tudor Thunder brought down upon me. I'm sure I'd be Zipped, Snapped, Inversion-Somersaulted and called a Dumb Motherf***er.

Isn't it fun to go on angrily ranting about stuff you have no clue about? At least most people as untalented as you know they're untalented. Brian Tudor, I can't imagine what could possibly possess people to think you're any sort of magician or performer. You're like the school yard bully who frightens the lunch money out of his peers. Well, there's no room for you on our playground.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For The Love of God...

... Who does this guy think he is?

Where do I begin with this?

This man clearly doesn't take magic seriously. From what I gather, to him, magic (Sorry, "Goshpel Illushionshs") is merely a gimmick to "illustrate God's truth"... mediocre effects that he makes sure EVERYBODY knows is "just a trick".

I mean, my God... half of his advice in this little video contradicts his intentions! He makes a point to tell us to "practice practice practice!" and gives us excuses as to why we can't repeat a trick (The one about the batteries running low is going straight into my act, let me tell you). So, we're going to practice our magic to make it deceptive? Why should deceptiveness even matter when you're trying so hard to make your magic NOT look like magic.

This guy is everything wrong with our art. In the video, he advises us to "pray about magic". I think that's the one legitimately sound piece of advice the man has.

Nice shirt, by the way.

(Thanks to Roland's "Weekly Magic Failure" blog for bringing this video to the attention of the world. I just wanted to share my own thoughts on it.)

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Gig Rant #1

We all have our ups and downs when performing in public. Sometimes things go just as planned. Other time, Murphy's Law kicks in. And also, sometimes there's an in-between. Everything goes fine, but one little incident grinds your gears. Such a thing happened this past friday.

I was hired to work a Christmas Open House for a store in a small town in Ontario (No, I don't understand why there was a Christmas Open House on November 5th. Then again I apparently don't understand much of anything).

I'm mingling in a store packed tighter than a sardine can, doing my thing with the pasteboards for all the simple small-town folk wandering about and sampling wine and cheese. Suddenly I approach a group of three ladies and start up my set.

I'm about to begin Ernest Earick's "A Flippant Triumph", one of my favourite Triumph routines, and I'm standing around shuffling and springing my cards. Suddenly, one of the women says to the other two "Christian (her son) is doing all this kind of stuff now!". So I began the effect, and at the climax, two women are in awe, but Mrs. Christian's Mom pipes up and says "Christian can do that too!". I politely reply with "That's really great! How long has he been interested in magic?"... she said "A few weeks... but he's already doing all of the stuff you're doing!"

In my mind I was thinking "@%&$$&*&^&" but I merely smiled politely and nodded. At the end of my set the women walk away, and as they walk, Mrs. Christian's Mom pipes up again... "Yeah, Christian can do all that stuff! He just goes straight on YouTube and learns all kinds of magic tricks!"

Had I possessed a weapon, a murder-suicide would have followed... instead I kept my cool and continued mingling. This woman insulted my intelligence, my craft, and myself. She implied that all magic can be found for free on YouTube and learned easier than making rice. And on top of that, she implied that I must have found these effects on YouTube then, while also implying that everything I was doing required little practice. I hope to God she doesn't take this and push her son to be doing gigs.

Had the woman remained in the store for a little while, I would have given her my email address to give to her son, offering to point him toward some excellent resources for someone starting out in magic. However, she was gone.

My question is, how would YOU have handled the situation?

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Attack of the YouTube Magicians

Okay, before someone else says it, full disclosure here... I myself am a YouTube magician. I have an existing YouTube Channel with nearly 60 videos uploaded of me performing magic, acting, etc. Perhaps this fact will also add credibility to my argument here.

What the HELL is with music in magic videos? I don't particularly appreciate clicking on a magic video only to have heavy metal blasted in my face. To you, the YouTube Magician who films his magic with awful music in the background, I ask a question... What do you do in the real world? Do you carry a stereo or iPod docking station around for when someone asks to see a card trick? My guess is no. And if you do, what the heck is your problem? It would take much less effort to come up with some decently engaging patter as opposed to carrying around a 10 pound sound system when you're "on da streets yo".

To those who DON'T use music during your Biddle Trick for a live audience... what DO you do? Do you perform in complete silence? Please don't tell me you just narrate your actions, stuttering every friggin' word that comes out of your mouth. Even silence would be better than that. How do you ever expect to be considered entertaining. Let's be real here... a lot of magic is only mindly entertaining on it's own. You aren't going to have people clammering to see you do magic in your school halls if you JUST do the trick. PERFORM for God's sake... magic is a performance art. It's so simple. Without it, magic is just a puzzle, and quite frankly, boring in many cases. Nobody is going to CARE that you can make a signed card rise to the top of the deck repeatedly unless you give them reason to care. That, my friends, is what seperates the men from the boys.

Anyways, I suppose I'm digressing a bit. Why post a YouTube video of Twisting The Aces unless you give me reason to? I'm not going to sit and watch a video where a guy makes cards turn over as I get deafened by the Linkin Park soundtrack. Perform it for me. That's what magic is meant to be. It astonishes me how many people are unable to grasp this concept.

YouTube is great. I personally love posting magic videos... they are good for critiquing in terms of my performance, technique, and other finer points. But I really don't see any other purpose for magic than that. If you're just going to use your webcam to shoot a heavy metal music video with a poorly executed Cutting The Aces effect, the fact of the matter is that magic just isn't for you. You clearly have no interest in performing.