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Stevie Ray Christian

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I attended Penguin's Orange County Magic Expo yesterday. The event featured only a half dozen exhibitors but they were cream-of-the-crop creators. 

Brent Braun demonstrated the best of the Penguin effects he "could fit in his suitcase."

Mark Mason presented original routines steeped in genius and bolstered by the unmatched British wit and charm that we colonists can only envy.

Paul Richards performed his pet effects with eye-popping skill... sensational stuff from a very cool cat.

My great friend Chris Smith was constantly surrounded by attendees. No wonder the best in the business incorporate MagicSmith miracles into their acts. NOTE: I am nearly convinced Chris is a pyromaniac! I've never seen such a collection of stunning fire effects. I was fearful that his blazing demos might set off the fire sprinklers at the Irvine Hilton. As a matter of caution, I was prepared to direct an orderly single file exit from the building... boy, girl, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, girl, boy, boy, boy... etc. (All I'm saying is, it's a miracle that Chris still has his eyebrows and that a Penguin Expo is not the best place to meet women.)

And yes... the legendary Michael Weber was in the house. He slayed! Within a few minutes of introducing myself, Mr. Weber was re-arranging my synapses with two brilliant 10-card poker routines. Head-to-head with Michael Weber; I've never been so delighted to lose at poker. Every syllable, every pause, every nuance was a masterstroke of psychology and presentation.

Did I purchase his treasure trove of 10-Card Poker (Jonah-free) routines?... You better believe I did.

Later in the day, Mr. Weber gave a brief lecture focused on spectator management... a deft display of magical jujitsu that leaves even the most difficult "volunteer" with the satisfaction that their interaction could not have been more fair. NOTE: There was nothing fair about it!

One last observation, at the end of a long day, after mesmerizing each and every patron... with the job of packing up, loading out and with a pressing family commitment ahead, Mr. Weber sat, patiently focused on an elderly character performing the Professor's Nightmare at the trade table. Mr. Weber was gracious and kind. He made that white-whiskered gentleman feel as though he was the only wizard in the room. It was plainly evident to me that Michael Weber's magnetic presentational style is well more than an act. He is a first-class gentleman through and through.
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Bomber

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Congrats for crossing an item off your list! Did Michael have his small book Complete Mentalism Act for sale?
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Stevie Ray Christian

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He did not have it on display.

He had only four items on display. I chose TEN. TEN consists of ten 10-card poker routines. Here is the index from Dennis Behr's Conjuring Archive There is quite a bit of A+ material here.

I've always liked the head to head aspect of the routine. The Weber approach uses no Jonah Card.
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Bomber

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Reply with quote  #4 
I'm not familiar with that book but going by the index it looks like some good content - at the rate I keep adding books to my list I'm never gonna get caught up!  [eek]
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Harry Lorayne

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    What's wrong with using a Jonah card? Check out my Ten-Card Poker Deal (which I originally published in 1967, and used for years before that).

    Then, no Jonah card? Okay. Check out my A Much Better Chance. (Nothing against any of Michael's stuff; he's excellent.) You might also want to check out Bob Farmer's Bammo Ten Card Deal Dossier.
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Stevie Ray Christian

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Ha! Harry, the only thing wrong with a Jonah card is if you have it in your poker hand!

I love performing a variation of your own 'A Much Better Chance' and 'Deal & Duck'. I use Gregory Wilson's 'Face-to-Face Poker' from BEST OF FRIENDS, Vol III.

I thought I had a lot of friends Harry, but your Volume III is jam-packed with 500+ pages of material featuring numerous routines from over 40 of the best minds in magic.

BEST OF FRIENDS III is where I "discovered" Bob Farmer. His 'Passtitution' is something I use often, a valuable utility well worth the price of the entire book! It wasn't Bob Farmer's moves that first caught my eye, It was this passage from his introductory bio:

 "When I asked Bob why he’s still a magic buff his answer, in part, was “I know the usual rationale for magic interest is related to ego, but there’s an additional very valid reason. One person may perceive a chain of events as ordinary, while another, by applying a slightly different emphasis, may cause the same events to be perceived as something magical. I get as much satisfaction from understanding the thought behind an effect as I do performing it.”

This spoke to me and accurately described the magic monkey on my my back. I will check out Mr. Farmer's BAMMO. Thank you for the suggestion.

Why is is that several of the conjurers, who's work I study and admire, practice law? Weber, Hollingworth, Jered Kopf, Mr. Farmer... what sort of magical jiggery-pokery is really being taught in law school?

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Johnnymagic

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Reply with quote  #7 
Frederick, was Michael still selling his coin trick "Lincoln was Wrong"? I have been trying to get in touch with him about one of the moves, but as most of you know he keeps a very low profile.
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Stevie Ray Christian

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Johhny,

Mr. Weber presented a routine with a handful of borrowed change titled Left at Lincoln. It was highly entertaining and it fooled me badly. Later, when I re-traced the phases, I understood that there really were no moves. It was the building momentum of a call-and-response interaction with the spectators which formed the belief that a miracle was occurring before our eyes.

Michael Weber's mastery of syntax and psychology is what truly sets his creations apart. I say that not to take away from his ingenious plots and methods, but simply to drive home the fact that he has raised the "presentation bar" to the stratosphere.

In addition to his production as an author and creator, he is a family man, an attorney, a busy entertainer and an upper echelon collaborator. I can understand why he keeps a low profile. Time management is, perhaps, the prime reason, but I believe he values his creations beyond their potential for revenue.

If I'm not mistaken, he specializes in patent law and protecting intellectual property. This is both coincidental and ironic given the fact his form of artistry is so vulnerable to piracy. I feel strongly that, while he will occasionally share and sell his masterpieces, the rarity and limited availability of Weber effects is calculated--not so much to raise the stock but more so to create a true fraternity of secrecy among his patrons.

Unlike most of his creative competitors, he has no website, Facebook or YouTube channel... but he is on Twitter and his postings are hilarious, cerebral and occasionally sophomoric. Check it out: https://twitter.com/mwisme

 




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Magic-Aly

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Reply with quote  #9 
Frederick Ray Wondered:  "Why is is that several of the conjurers, who's work I study and admire, practice law? Weber, Hollingworth, Jered Kopf, Mr. Farmer... what sort of magical jiggery-pokery is really being taught in law school?"

Perhaps sleight of mouth?


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Stevie Ray Christian

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Magic-Aly, When I posed the very same question to Michael Weber, his answer was nearly identical to yours.

I gave this a little more thought.

Naturally, a law student's curriculum is designed to strengthen presentational skills, with an emphasis on the power of suggestion, clear communication and rapport building. Budding trial attorneys are taught, "Never ask a question in court to which you do not already know the answer."

Consider the emphasis on calculated interrogation. To paraphrase Fitzkee: Stating a fact is inferior to asking a 
rhetorical question.

Magicians and attorneys share a level of public mistrust. For both, language is a weapon. The frequent and proper use of premeditated questions is essential to a successful deposition... and a good card routine. 

A smart attorney, salesperson or conjurer will use yes/no questions to build a "yes momentum." This can create rapport, relaxation and agreement. Open ended questions--rhetorical, loaded and otherwise--are well-suited to misdirection. A lot of dirty work gets done when the attention is turned toward the spectator--just as a litigator may want the jury to focus on the expression of a squirming witness.

Questions. There is the short answer. The magician/attorney is a trained question expert. Just like Clarence Darrow, Esq., we magicians can use questions to relax or build tension, to direct attention, construct proof and strengthen agreement. Questions are as essential to thrilling a crowd as they are to gaining the confidence of a jury. Additionally, the right question can offer that extra second needed for an improvised response. Some of my best laughs and lines come from improvised remarks and jabs from playful spectators. When the night is done, I commit those moments to paper. Be like a lawyer... Put it in writing. 

There is an important point where the coincidence between the practice of magic and law separates. 

"I'm not here to win..."

Mr. Weber took a noticeable pause after he said that. He wanted it to sink in. He was lecturing on the finer points of engaging a volunteer. He said it again.

"I'm not here to win... I'm here to entertain by creating mystery."

The creation of reasonable doubt notwithstanding, that statement--antithetical to the practice of law--is a valuable observation from a counselor who spends plenty of time and energy focused on the win.

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Magic-Aly

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Frederick Ray
Magic-Aly, When I posed the very same question to Michael Weber, his answer was nearly identical to yours.

I gave this a little more thought.

Naturally, a law student's curriculum is designed to strengthen presentational skills, with an emphasis on the power of suggestion, clear communication and rapport building. Budding trial attorneys are taught, "Never ask a question in court to which you do not already know the answer."

Consider the emphasis on calculated interrogation. To paraphrase Fitzkee: Stating a fact is inferior to asking a 
rhetorical question.

Magicians and attorneys share a level of public mistrust. For both, language is a weapon. The frequent and proper use of premeditated questions is essential to a successful deposition... and a good card routine. 

A smart attorney, salesperson or conjurer will use yes/no questions to build a "yes momentum." This can create rapport, relaxation and agreement. Open ended questions--rhetorical, loaded and otherwise--are well-suited to misdirection. A lot of dirty work gets done when the attention is turned toward the spectator--just as a litigator may want the jury to focus on the expression of a squirming witness.

Questions. There is the short answer. The magician/attorney is a trained question expert. Just like Clarence Darrow, Esq., we magicians can use questions to relax or build tension, to direct attention, construct proof and strengthen agreement. Questions are as essential to thrilling a crowd as they are to gaining the confidence of a jury. Additionally, the right question can offer that extra second needed for an improvised response. Some of my best laughs and lines come from improvised remarks and jabs from playful spectators. When the night is done, I commit those moments to paper. Be like a lawyer... Put it in writing. 

There is an important point where the coincidence between the practice of magic and law separates. 

"I'm not here to win..."

Mr. Weber took a noticeable pause after he said that. He wanted it to sink in. He was lecturing on the finer points of engaging a volunteer. He said it again.

"I'm not here to win... I'm here to entertain by creating mystery."

The creation of reasonable doubt notwithstanding, that statement--antithetical to the practice of law--is a valuable observation from a counselor who spends plenty of time and energy focused on the win.



Frederick, that is a wonderful little essay.  Great analogies between the practices of law and magic, and then of course, where the division line is (or should be) drawn.  Thank you for those very thought-provoking words and useful information that you have shared.

Your point (among others) about welcoming the spectators' comments and participation, and how they come up with funny improvised lines in the moment really rings true. It has been my experience that this greatly enhances the entertainment value and impact of the magician's performance and is an integral significant component of my performing philosophy, or it could be called applied psychology.  

I have found that when there is an atmosphere of "we-ness" or "us" created, as opposed to a separation between the ("almighty") magician and the spectators, the level of fun, excitement, and enjoyment rises meteorically, and the inmate defensiveness of the spectators to being fooled, or the antipathy of some of the more egotistical spectators toward having someone else be the center of attention, tends to dissipate.  People are interested - fascinated - by other people.  Why not take advantage of that fact?  That is why the overwhelming majority of my routines are geared toward audience audience inclusiveness and participation.  As I am sure many members of this Forum are well aware, well chosen audience "volunteers" and how you interact with them can heighten the presentation and entertainment value exponentially.  

Not unlike the rapport a great trial lawyer is able to build with the jury I would imagine...


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