Saturday, October 22, 2005

Mail Bag #1.

I was going to post about scripting your magic, but a reply to my post titled “Bad news for magic beginners” (In which I told you that when you begin you will suck) prompted me to write the following.
But first, the reply:
Anonymous said, “You will NOT suck.Card tricks are very easy to learn.Check out to learn free easy magic card tricks using a normal deck of cards. The tricks are not hard to learn, explained with photos and videos.

OK, first of all yes you will suck. In the beginning of magic you will not know anything or be able to do anything well, therefore you will suck. QED.
Apparently our anonymous (if that is his real name) was the rare type of person who, after picking up a deck of cards for the first time and learned his first card trick was able to perform it perfectly right off the top. No worries about mis-direction, sight lines or presentation for him. The rest of us had to sludge through our first tricks and learn these technical aspects through trial and error, but not so Mr. Anonymous.
I imagine he was able to pick up a guitar for the first time and, instead of learning notes and chords and 4/4 time, instantly put Jimmy Hendrix to shame.
I can only imagine the breakthroughs that Mr. Anonymous could have if he took up medicine. No learning beginners science for him, nope, expect a cure for cancer or AIDS right away.
Nope, Anonymous didn’t suck right away. He was a world-class magician right off the top, which doesn’t explain why he didn’t leave his real name. If I were able to be that good that quick I would proclaim it to the world and go out and win me some awards.

Secondly, card tricks are not easy to learn. It doesn’t matter if your first card trick needs a card on the bottom of the pack turned over, or noted, or given a little bend the fact of the matter is that there is so much that goes into even the most beginner tricks.
Misdirection, the ability to make someone look at one hand while the other is doing the tricky work.
Sight lines, making sure you don’t give away the turned over bottom card to that person who is sitting down while entertaining someone who is standing up. (I learned this lesson the hard way.)
Audience management. How do you grab their attention then keep it, and I mean all of your audience, not just the pretty girl you want to impress?
Performance. How do you present the trick? Is it a gambling demonstration? Is it a mind reading demonstration? Well, your first trick will go something like this, “Ok, pick a card, remember it, put it back into the deck. I am going to shuffle the deck. Now watch as I wave my hand and you can see you card is at the top of the deck. Now watch as I put it back into the center of the deck and …..” In other words you will more likely describe what is going on rather than actually have a presentation.
These four subjects, and the many more that I haven’t mentioned, need to be taken into account for even the most basic beginners trick. Of course you are not going to know this right away, but you will learn.
Again, our anonymous friend apparently never had to take this into account. He was Jamy Ian Swiss caliber right off the mark. (Jamy Ian Swiss is one of the world’s best magicians and theoretical thinkers on magic. More on him in another post.)

Lastly, let’s take a look at the web site anonymous recommended. .
I quote “Allways (sic) wanted to amaze your friends with magic card tricks? Here you can learn some of the best tricks: it's EASY and it's totally FREE!”
Ok, first of all, a spelling mistake. Apparently Mr. Anonymous has found something he isn’t so good at. Secondly, the part about it being “EASY and it’s totally FREE!” (Caps and bold his) I have already put that whole “card tricks are easy” bit to rest, but just an example let’s check out the Three Card Monte part. Oh look, a video showing the first phase of a Three Card Monte. Look how fast his hands move. Are you telling me that this is easy? The HELL it is!
The Three Card Monte is one of the most difficult magic tricks to master. Some of the top magicians have studied it for years before daring to present it. But hey, at it’s easy. Man, I bet those other magicians feel the right ass round about now.
As for the "totally FREE" part. Well, he's right, it is free except for the parts that are not. It's not a lie, it's an omission. Hell, we bought it when Former President Clinton said it, so it must be true.
But there is more, I refer you to “Find the chosen card.” Here are a few fun phrases that are used. “People want to be conned anyway”, and “You ask the VICTIM to pick any card out of the deck (emphasis mine)”, in fact the writer uses the word “Victim” SIX times.
So apparently magic is easy, you will instantly be great right off the top, spelling doesn’t count and it’s ok to refer to your volunteer as a victim.
Dear Mr. Anonymous. You are an idiot. Please, for the love of all that is holy, stop doing magic and take up some other “easy” hobby, like brain surgery or nuclear physics.
Meanwhile, I will go back to practising my pass. It’s been about a year and a half and I think I may be close to getting ok with it.


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