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Female Magicians December 2, 2010

Posted by mattlee in Ramblings.
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“What really sells, is sex. I witnessed men undergo complete personality makeovers in the presence of female salespeople. The women had the most basic human response on their side; regardless how behind schedule or how crazy the day, a male doctor would snap to attention at a mere whiff of perfume or a glance at a pretty girl, his instinctive desire to reproduce having kicked into gear.”

‘Hard Sell: The Evolution of a Viagra Salesman’ by Jamie Reidy

The same applies to magicians. If you still subscribe to the notion that female magicians are in some way inferior to males, you need a reality check. The fact is that magic happens in the spectators minds, and women are far better than us at screwing with the mind.

I’m of course assuming a certain level of competency here of course. A lousy magician will always be a lousy magician regardless of gender. Although I’d bet good money that the female would still get a decent response.

How to present a magic trick very badly November 9, 2010

Posted by mattlee in Forums, Ramblings.
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Some of the most unqualified, turgid and downright idiotic advice on presentation I have ever seen can be found here: http://forums.ellusionist.com/showthread.php?90123-Your-patter-sucks.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all well and fine with meaning/beauty/art in magic, however I do seriously think sometimes it goes overboard to the point of insulting the audience.

I noticed Derren Brown’s name is thrown around that particular thread in reference to his statements in his fantastic ‘Absolute Magic.’ (In my opinion, the best magic book to this century)

If one actually read the book you’d find a section where the affable Mr. Brown explains why he does not like his ‘Matsu’ presentation of Oil and Water and instead favors the ‘this is a trick’ type patter (which he presents in ‘Devils Picturebook’) Essentially, that’s what I’m trying to say.

Sometimes a trick is JUST A TRICK. Trying to sell it as anything more makes you look like a pretentious douche bag.

Nothing to do with magic May 5, 2010

Posted by mattlee in Ramblings.
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It’s 930 on a Wednesday morning. I’m quietly sipping a cup of coffee at a cafe in town after fetching the missus to her class. She teaches music and movement to preschool kids, and her various assignments take her all over our sunny island.

If I had the time I’d tell the story of how we both became happily self employed, but that’s not the subject of this post. I’m writing this to show I’m exceedingly thankful that I’ve got the chance to earn a living doing things I’m passionate about.

Perhaps you might think me naive, but I choose to believe that the majority of professional magicians do what they do for the same reasons as me. If so then it does help once in a while to stop and thank your lucky stars that you have this opportunity to really do what you love for a living.

I did that this morning, and it’s good for the soul. Really.

Giving up? July 30, 2009

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Gapingvoid the blog’s recent post hits me. Hard. Especially the line in the middle:

To be the best in the world at something- or even REALLY good at it- the sacrifices are utterly, utterly enormous. “Have it all?” Are you insane?

What are you sacrificing today to improve your magic? If you can’t find one thing, I suppose that would explain why you can’t do shit and your magic sucks.

Downhill… July 22, 2009

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Seth Godin’s recent post on his blog has this little nugget of wisdom:

The best time to do great customer service is when a customer is upset. The moment you earn your keep as a public speaker is when the room isn’t just right or the plane is late or the projector doesn’t work or the audience is tired or distracted. The best time to engage with an employee is when everything falls apart, not when you’re hitting every milestone.

Applying the same principle to the performance of magic, the best time to improve is when the audience is not exactly in the mood for magic, and you have to win them over. Probably won’t be the best ever performance you’ll give, but probably will contain lots of lessons to be learnt.

Abracadabra March 7, 2009

Posted by mattlee in Ramblings, Uncategorized.
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From wikipedia:

Abracadabra (sometimes spelled Abrakadabra) is a word used as an incantation.

The term originated from the Aramaic. The original Aramaic phrase was used with a Hebrew prefix Alef rather than the latter version with an Ayin. The difference was that the original meaning was “I will create, as I say,” while the latter was “What was said has been done.”

I suppose that before revealing the final loads in the cups and balls routine, one should say “Abracadabra! Lemon!”

On a more serious note, this has got to be the coolest magic word ever. Indeed, even J.K Rowling agrees, as Harry Potter’s killing curse spell is “Avada Kedavra”, which she openly admits is derived from “Abracadabra”.

Failure inspires. March 7, 2009

Posted by mattlee in Forums, Ramblings.
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A recent thread about failures and success at the SMC forums inspired me to meditate on my own performance experiences.

I have come to realise that I have learnt more from my screwups than from my success.  The adrenaline high from a good show is but a transient feeling that begs the question – How do I do this again? How do I have good shows consistently?

I truly, truly think that this is the hallmark of a good performer.

Audience Reality Check January 13, 2009

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In all honesty, there is nothing like the blank stare of a spectator to humble you and send your inflated ego crashing to the floor.

No matter how good you think you are, no matter what lies you fool yourself with, in that one precious moment, something is certain.

You suck.

Now go try again. Learn from the mistakes you made. The wonderful thing about magic is that it is created anew with every performance. Other artists rarely have this luxury.

Go practice. Shoo.

The Cure December 22, 2008

Posted by mattlee in Card Magic, Ramblings.
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Recently I’ve been wondering why my magic  (magic in general?) seems so inconsistent. Sometimes I can elicit gasps of astonishment, sometimes I look like a clown.

I was trying in the past few weeks to find a consistent way of engaging my audiences, and so far I’ve failed miserably. However I think I might find an answer in the words of Teller.

In most magic, as far as I can see, the plot is, ‘I wish for something. I get it. And its what I want.’

The cause in this case is the magician’s will. He wills it; it comes true.

This is not the drama of a human being, it is the depiction of a god, generally a capricious and trivial one. It contains not a smidgen of genuine conflict, and without this conflict, the magician in a position of god-like power at all times has not a flicker of humanity.

Teller (quoted from ‘Absolute Magic, by Derren Brown)

Death to the Double Undercut August 16, 2008

Posted by mattlee in Card Magic, Flourishing, Forums, Ramblings.
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Finally a new post.  I haven’t updated this blog for almost a month, and I’m told that’s a bad thing. Ah well.

Theory11’s recent 1on1 by Joe Paschall caused a minor furor on the forums.  Entitled ‘Death to the Double Undercut’ it’s basically a double undercut executed under the cover of a flourish – i.e you can transfer a card/cards from the top to the bottom of the deck and vice versa, all while executing what appears to be a pendulum cut.

Understandably,  some of the members took offense to being sold a modified double undersut for $5USD. While I understand the sentiment, I don’t think his move is entirely useless. Let me explain:

About a year and a half ago I came up with a ‘move’ (I use the word pretty loosely here) that combines Oz Pearlman’s Rub-Dub-C cut with a double undercut. It has since replaced my double undercut on some occasions. I never considered my idea to be original, I was 110% sure that it had been done before and published.  Still I took a measure of pride that Joe (a magician I do respect on some level) had the same idea as me, which is that if you’re going to flourish, at least make the flourish do something useful.

Here’s an example of a flashy ace production where the move is perfect. Note that if you are not a magician and are not familiar with magic jargon, the following will probably be unintelligible to you.

Ace Production
1. Remove 4 aces from the pack and display them. Remember to make a big deal of the fact that there are no other aces/duplicates in the deck. This provides motivation.
2. Insert them back, and perform your favorite multiple shift. If you don’t have one yet may I suggest the Arthur Buckley Shift.
3. Get a break under 2 cards and perform DttDUC.
4. Now you’re going to do that old trick where you take the deck in the right hand and apply pressure on the top and bottom cards and throw the deck to the other hand leaving the top and bottom cards behind in the right hand.  I’m not sure what the name of the move is, but I first learnt it from watching Michael Ammar.  Anyway, you will do this twice, once from right to left hand, and once from left hand to table. This should leave you with the 4 Aces. Performed correctly, the audience should have no idea where they came from.

Here, replacing the DttDUC (Death to the Double Undercut) with the standard DUC is possible, but the trick will loose at least half its flashiness, and probably won’t flow as smoothly.

Of course the question now is whether the DttDUC is worth $2.95USD (T11 has since revised their price in response to complaints). I suggest instead taking the idea and figuring out something similar. You get to exercise your brain and you’ll end up a better magician for it.