octubre 7, 2007

A friend sent me the link to this video yesterday and I thought I’d post it here. A very nice performance — smooth, graceful, and polished. I don’t know who this young lady is, but her skills are surpassed only by the charming quality she projects. Outstanding.

The Obligatory Awkward First Post — Again

octubre 7, 2007

As I’ve said before, I started blogging with Word Press but was too stupid to get the plugins to function correctly. Even though I’ve built a few websites, I’m not really a tech kind of guy – mainly I just keep trying until I get something to work. When I set out this summer to build the Unexpected Wonders site, my first attempt was less than successful

Anyway, when I switched over to this blogging platform, I didn’t know how to get those first posts from there to here. I thought I’d reproduce my first post from the old blog here as I don’t think many people ever saw it, and I don’t really have much else to say at the moment. I don’t believe I’ve come close to producing a sort of online magic magazine, but that’s still the direction in which I’d like to go.

Well, here we are meeting for the first time. I hate introductions, and especially in the sterile environment of cyber space, where human interaction is mostly rendered a parody represented by a lot of arbitrary symbols, but there’s no avoiding this initial posting, no matter how awkward it might be. I guess it’s like my dad used to say during one of our frequent late night talks: “Shut the hell up and grab me another beer.” Which was followed by a lot of indecipherable slurring and cursing… Man, kind of makes me miss the old guy.

Maybe what my dad was trying to say, in his own highly medicated, abstract way, was: “Sometimes a man’s just got to do what a man’s got to do.” Which…kind of sucks. Thanks for the cliché, Dad. What, you think I’m being sarcastic? Now why would you think that? I think you’re the most wonderful father in the world. You touch mom again and I’ll break your arm, dude!

Sorry, flashback. Ah, those warm family memories. Sort of bring a mist to your eyes and a primal scream of rage from the depths of your soul. Sorry again, I’m being silly. And I digress. Let’s get back to this initial post business and square things away, shall we?

Now, I know you’re sitting there thinking that the world needs another magic blog about as much as you need some more of that really cheap flash paper that turned out to be old newsprint soaked in a solution of gasoline and gun powder — on the bright side it was an old suit and, when you get right down to it, who needs eyebrows anyway? Listen, I feel your pain. As a long time reader of magic blogs I know that, with a few notable exceptions, what started as a form of communication with the potential for greatness has too often slumped into a quagmire of mediocrity and imitation. Which kind of sums up the state of magic, all too often.

When you get down to it, magic blogs usually fall into one of two distinct categories. First, you have the lone nut bloggers who are pissed off about something, or just as likely everything. They rant and rave and call people names and usually burn out in a matter of months. A typical post from this kind of blogger might look something like this:

That’s NOT street magic %$@#ing Blaine ruined my art! Criss Angel??? @!$%# &^%$* *&^%$#! Steve Brooks #$%#@ *&^%* Vernon, Vernon, Vernon!

And along in that vein. Good for a bit of distraction, I suppose, but after awhile it’s sort of…uncomfortable. Like when you had that friend when you were a kid who was crazy – we all had that friend, didn’t we — who would do anything. The kid nobody would dare to do something outlandish because he always would. And even when you were hanging with that kid, laughing and having a reasonably normal time, you always found yourself secretly wondering, Is he going to kill me now? Which gets old after awhile. I wonder if they ever let ol’ Greg out of solitary?

Then you have the advertising blogs. These are the blogs run by magic dealers and the like and every single post is about how you can’t live without their latest release. Reading these blogs is like being tied in the basement and forced to watch reruns of Gilligan’s Island with the volume turned down and Carpenters records playing — don’t try that, by the way. It’s a miserable way to spend five minutes. A typical advertising blog post might look like this:

Buy buy buy buy BUY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Or something like that.

So where does your humble writer come in? Well, as you might have noticed this blog is part of site that’s selling magic. So let me give you a sample of what you can expect:

Buy buy buy buy BUY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wait a second, come back. I was kidding. I wouldn’t be cruel enough to subject you to something I can’t stand myself. Besides, when it comes to salesmanship I’m more of the soft sell type. I will tell you about the things I’m selling, yes, but I won’t do so constantly. And I wouldn’t sell anything I didn’t believe in.

Does that mean you’re going to get angry man? Well, maybe from time to time. I do occasionally get passionate about a subject, but I promise not to do too much of that kind of thing. There are things that I dislike, but running through the list relentlessly really isn’t going to do either of us a damn bit of good.

So what can you expect?

I’d like to find the middle ground and bring you something that’s fun and interesting to read and hopefully sometimes informative and helpful. When I first got online I had the bright idea of doing an online magazine – which lasted for all of one glorious doomed issue — and I guess that desire has never entirely died. I suppose that’s the kind of blog I’ll be striving for. And if I fail miserably what the hell. At least I tried. Right, Dad? What, you can’t even acknowledge me? Why can’t you ever just be proud of me!

Anyway, that’s the direction I’ll be trying to take this thing in – more like an online magazine than the typical blog. I hope you’ll give me a chance and bear with me as I’ve never done a blog before. Not that I’m completely without experience addressing an audience via the written word. I used to be employed by one of the bigger magic sites out there and for a good while did a weekly newsletter that was popular. And for a few years I had a site called The Magic Anarchist, and my erratic newsletters there were always well received. Actually they were the part of the site best received. I couldn’t get anybody to post in the forums, but they always wanted to make sure they were on the mailing list — which means you aren’t going to see forums here.

Okay, I’ll do my best to post things of interest. Stay tuned, take care, and thanks for staying with me through this awkward introductory phase. See you again soon.

Opinion Central

octubre 7, 2007

I’m guessing Glenn Bishop took exception to my last post – the fact that he dropped my link from his blog roll is certainly indicative of that. I’d like for him to know that it wasn’t my intention to offend him, and I actually restrained myself in what I was writing.

The things I write here are colored significantly by my beliefs and opinions. I make no apology for that. I’m not trying to crank out newspaper articles and give a dry reporting of the facts. It’s more like I’m just talking about what interests me and hoping it interests someone else as well.

I can be pretty passionate about certain beliefs. You see I think magic is a wonderful thing that’s too often crippled by thoughtless allegiance to what’s come before. Magicians have a habit of justifying what they want to do by saying that so and so did it so it must be good. Well, what worked then isn’t necessarily going to work now. Things are constantly changing, and I think magic has to evolve to maintain, or regain, its stature in the entertainment world.

When I perceive something to be detrimental to magic – like the use of goofy props that make no sense outside a magician’s performance – I can get pretty wound up. But that doesn’t mean I’m right. It’s my perception, my opinion. I try to outline a reasonable argument for why I’m taking a position, but ultimately it’s just the way I see things. I’m old enough to know that thinking you’re right and being right can be vastly different things.

I try to live by the golden rule online and off. It doesn’t matter if you’re David Copperfield or a fourteen year old beginner; I’m going to do my level best to treat you the way I would want to be treated. When people are dismissive of “amateurs” or “hobbyists” it really sticks in my craw. They forget that some of the most legendary names in magic fall into that category. Being a professional doesn’t mean you’re any good. And it’s not a license to tell everybody else to shut up because your opinions are the last word. I’ve done magic for over thirty years as an amateur, professional, and semi-professional, and such labels don’t mean much to me. The only label that does matter is magician.

I guess I took a couple of little digs at Glenn in the last post because I felt he was being condescending about amateurs, and that’s an attitude I hate. Couple that with my dislike of strange magic props and I no doubt was somewhat snarky. I’m sorry he apparently took it to heart as there was no genuine malice intended. I think Glenn’s basically a good guy who has trouble expressing himself in a beneficial way. I wish him the best of luck.