Monday, May 31, 2010

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Just A Sunday Post #47

Legal issues: Have you read the fine print of Scott Alexander's blade routine?

To quote a friend of mine:

Are you aware that you have LIMITED PERFORMANCE RIGHTS to even do this routine if you buy it. Those who purchase this routine must sign a contract before the routine is actually shipped to you. The contract states that:

1. You CANNOT perform this routine on TV...EVER!
2. You CANNOT film yourself performing this routine and put it up for public display on yours or any website.
3. You CANNOT film yourself performing this routine and put it up on You Tube (kinda the same as #2).
4. You CANNOT perform this in a venue where they sell tickets for people to watch the show. (see below)

#4 basically means if you're performing in a theater where people are purchasing tickets to watch, then you're not allowed to perform this routine.

The ONLY place you can perform the routine is if you're hired to perform for an event (Corporate Function, Private Party, etc.)


Think about it, you'll get a Blade routine for 800 bucks, with script and jokes and whatnot and you can only perform this at limited venues. That's what I call an oppressive contract!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

WMF Bob Kohler



This weeks failure is Bob Kohler Magic. Bob Kohler is a good magician and a good magic dealer. But when I read the "pitch" of Scott Alexander's "The Blades" I could not help but laugh out loud, or as the new terminology suggests: I lol'ed.

Briefly: 795.95$, that is 800$, in words: EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLARS for the good old razor blade routine. Shipping not included.

And here is how Bob Kohler justifies the price:
In our opinion "The Blades" is not expensive. It's an investment for "the few".

Okay, if "the few" are idiots who are unable to track down cheaper version of the trick.

But this version is special, you know:
What makes it unique is Scott's ability to get to the heart of the effect, designing the best method, weaving the presentation into a brilliant performance piece that gets big laughs and brings audiences to their feet night after night.

Let's see if I understood this correctly: 800 dollars for a unique presentation and a direct method. Ok, But do I want to perform it just like Scott Alexander? Wouldn't that be the road to not being unique? So if I am about to do my own presentation, doesn't that argument of getting a unique presentation fall apart? Just saying.

But there is a video to let me see the effect first, right? Can I see "The Blades"?
Short answer…you can't. Most magic products today are represented by video trailers that show the routine to both the prospective buyers and the public. We live in an era where magic is often sold through deceptive video editing and dishonest advertising. "The Blades" will not have a video trailer. In fact, none of our Pro Line releases have ever had a trailer. Our tradition and reputation insure that "The Blades" is what we present it to be. In fact as you read on you'll discover that it's our intention that no footage of "The Blades" will ever be seen.

True we live in an age were everything can be seen. We also live in an age of sales pitch bullshitting. Here is my theory: If we were to see the routine, we would instantly know the method and the presentation and would be able to copy it on the fly, turning the price asked for the routine (again 800 bucks) into a farce.

While I understand that this is a major problem in magic, I'd also say that hiding the routine is the wrong way too. In fact you would not buy a pig in a poke, would you?

Alright, but why is this a failure?

Well if you have a product that you wanna sell and you want a certain ammount of money for it, just ask for the money. Do not make a long statement, why the price is justfied. Because if you really take apart the arguments given, they all turn out to be bullshit.

Bob Kohler did so hard to write up a text to let people think they get a bargain, when they really don't. Which is true for pretty much all of his routines. You'll get quality, but it is way over priced.

So here is my little suggestion. Read the whole thing, then take a look somewhere else. And if you want to perform this classic effect, buy the routine somewhere else for about 25 bucks and start performing. You don't need the presentation of someone else. You don't need a unique method, as long as the one you would use is deceptive.

Scott Alexander's routine may be great, it maybe crap, we will never know. And since we will never know we should not care.

Bob Kohler writes:
These products are produced by professional magicians for professional magicians. Our target market is not amateurs or hobbyists but professional magicians who make their living performing magic.

I am a professional magician. I don't feel drawn to buy this thing. A professional strives to do his own thing. So a professional would read a book (the cheapest way to get the routine) and figure out how to adopt this to the own style, character and personality. He would also alter the method and use his own little way of doing it. In other words he would make the routine his own.

Basically, exactly the way Scott Alexander did.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

In Best Ellis Blogging Fashion


Here is something about me... It's my birthday. Yeah.

Am I wiser? Nope.
Am I calmer? I hope not.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

If You Gonna Pretend Anyway



If you are one of those goofy mentalists, here is an idea: How about making reading a spectator's mind visible. By reaching for their forehead, visibly extracting the thought (D'light) and putting on the own forehead, revealing the information in question.

Again just for those goofy mentalists. If you are serious about mentalism... well... your problem!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

WMF Juan Fernando de Jesús Pena Sánchez



Wow, what a name Juan Fernando de Jesús Pena Sánchez...

Just lovely how he tries to make himself special by stating:

Born in 1977 in México country. With a Chinese grandfather Juan Fernando is 75% Hispanic and 25% Chinese.

I am aware that in America the Hispanic community is looked down at by others, (At least that what I learned by watching "South Park") but this statement seems shoe-horned to give the appearance of being more than there is. I might be wrong though.

Anyway, Juan Fernando does mostly card magic. And he is pretty decent at it I might add. But as so many others he feels the need to do more than just performing the tricks. He crosses the realm into exposure. He is one of many, many other guys. What makes him different? First his age. He is a year older than me. Most kids on YouTube exposing magic are... well... kids.

Second, his skill ain't bad. For a while I thought that only the lesser skilled, lazy kids who can't succeed with just performing start exposing the secrets of our craft. But it is not true in todays case.

Here you can see him explaining the "Hofzinser Spread Cull":



The video production is quite high, which is also different from the average exposers, making it almost joyful to watch. (almost is key here) If you take a look at his other videos you will see that he goes quite into detail with rewinds, slow motion and even arrows to make clear what he is doing.

A friend of mine wrote him an email asking Juan Fernando why he is exposing material, that is not his to begin with. His answer was that he is "just helping".
I would like to call it stealing. But that's just me.

Personally I grow tired of making people who willingly expose magic Weekly Magic Failure, but I guess someone needs to call out those people who DO NOT help, who just spoil the magic and live on the creativity of others like a parasite.

So here is a nice little tip for others out there. If you are a magician and you have decided to spoil some magic then you better stop calling yourself a magician and state that you hate magic and that the secret needs to be exposed, so people can see that magicians are just stupid people. Or something like this.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Just A Sunday Post #45

We're kicking it old school.



Oddly enough, a lot of todays magic looks like this. But not nearly as well done.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Weird, Just Weird



The inability to think outside the box is a common thing among people. Also among magicians. Boxes are nice. Boxes are secure. That is why an ambitious card always rises to the top. Never to the bottom.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

In Search For A Method



How does a magician choose the best method for any magic effect?

I got a few hints:

1. Choose the method which looks the most like you don't do anything.
2. Choose the method which is hidden within a natural gesture or action.
3. If the best method to achieve the desired magic effect is the hardest one of the few you got, too bad, then you gotta practise that method.
4. If there are two ways to achieve the magic effect, and one needs a gimmick while the other one just relies on sleight of hand, but both look the same, then by all means choose the ungimmicked method. (Because that way you don't have to rely on a gimmick that might fail or break)
5. If the gaffed method looks better (see #1) than the sleight of hand method then choose the gimmick.

Magicians tend to be lazy like any other person and most often go for the most direct method to achieve the magic effect. That can be a downfall. Because when a lay person tries to figure out how a magic effect was accomplished he will also go for the most direct method, ending up in a "too perfect"-like scenario.

That means in terms of searching for the most deceptive method we need to think different.

Here is an example: If you have seven keys and a pad lock and you want the magic effect to be that any key is chosen and it will unlock the pad lock while the remaining keys won't fit, then it might feel right to find a good method of switching the chosen key for the "right" key.

But this is a bad construction, as a switch of the keys will be the most direct method. And therefore the audience will think of the same thing, ergo will look for it. And if you really switch out the key it means you would have to choose a method to do it. And every method has advantages and also disadvantages. This could result in having to pick up the key once the spectator has chosen the key. It might result in you having to open the lock instead of the spectator doing it. Or you could force the key, which undercuts the "free choice" aspect that is desired with a magic effect like this.

So thinking different is "key" here. Instead of switching the key, switching the pad lock might be a solution. it is not the most direct path of thought, ergo will not be immediately a spectator's assumption of how it is done. Switching the pad lock allows for a free choice of the keys and it also gets rid of the need to switch the key (all keys are the same) after the choice is made.

Now all we need to find is a good method of switching the pad lock. But since there is much less heat on the lock even a bolder method will work.


I really hope my tips actually help you a tiny bit, choosing the best method to achieve a desired magic effect.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Damn, Persistence Does The Trick!





After having mixed reaction with that act in almost every single contest, casting or talent show in Europe Hayashi goes for the "Monkey Island" making sure to ridicule volunteers with the fashionable "cucumber wear"!

I bow my head to admit that persistence really does the trick and to avoid the freaking sword.

And because I swore to myself not to mention that one time that a kid got too close to the stage and almost got injured by the sword because Hayashi did not make sure that he had a proper stand, so he tripped causing the action described above. And because I swore not to mention it... I won't.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Did you know? I sure didn't!



Hardly any WMF writes back to me, Wayne Phelps did and this led to this statement, which I am posting right here with Wayne Phelps permission. I urge you to read the whole thing, as it puts matters into a much needed perspective.

The entire expert village video nightmare began probably close to four years ago. Maybe closer to five by now. I'm sure you can understand when I say it's something that I try to not think about very much. I was fairly new to the professional scene of magic. Sure I've done gigs for pay, but I had just moved to California with the intent to make a name for myself. I was also in my mid twenties at that time too. So young and stupid, make a horrible combination. I had just received my membership to the AMA/ Magic Castle around the time those videos were filmed, so I was on a bit of an ego rush.

I was approached by a film maker and producer for a project that would "put my name out there on the internet." They said they saw me perform out on the street of Hollywood and Highland (a famous area for street performers and costumed characters in Hollywood) and thought I'd be perfect for the job. I went to their office for a production meeting. I had never done anything like this before, and I was generally very excited to have the opportunity. When I got there they explained to me that the video project was for a new website called "expert village" and they wanted me to teach people how to do magic, and then presented me with the video shoot dates that would include three days of production and involve up to 30 videos each being about 3 minutes in length individually. They presented me with the contract, I signed. I would report to the studio for filming the following Monday. I knew that exposing magic was wrong. But this wasn't exposure. This was educational. To me, at that time, that made all the difference.

I knew that I could easily fill 15 video's worth of card tutorials blind folded. I was after-all at that time a card guy. Coins though was going to be a problem. I wasn't a coin worker. Sure I owned Bobo's, but the closest thing to coin magic that I ever did was a French drop for my niece. I had 15 videos to fill on that subject too. I knew I couldn't teach other magicians private domain effects like Leathal Tender or Strange Travelers, so I opted to teach very general things such as shuffle control, a double lift, and popular coin gaffs that made coin magic "easy" for a beginner. This was where I made my second mistake. The first being agreeing to do the video in the first place.

The production days came and they went. The video's went up online, and were getting a lot of hits. Then about two years ago, the nightmare started. A member of the Magic Castle whose name I won't give, outed me on the Magic Castle forums. He linked the expert village videos and called together what would become a modern day equivalent of a witch hunt. In the following months from that point in time I would lose several friends, be harassed by email, I received one death threat, my name (Wayne Phelps) become synonymous with "that video guy", and if I ever renew my membership at the Magic Castle they'll pull it and ban me for life.

I tried to fix the mistake. I didn't realize at the time that I made the video's just how much shit I was going to get myself into. I wasn't thinking. I called the production company that made the video to see if they would remove it. As it turns out they were middle men. They were contracted by Expert Village to produce my video series along with a couple of others. Expert Village paid them for the property, so they in turn own it. I tried to contact Expert Village by email but I didn't get a response. After a month of emails and no replies, I did research on the company. Found that they are based out of Texas and owned by a different media group. Through a little digging and a few phone calls I got the contact information for their CEO. I called thrice, and left voice mails, and emailed him directly. I explained my problem. I told him I was being black balled by the magic community, that it's cost me my job (basically), my friends, it's damaged my career, and I would like the video's pulled down. I even offered to pay him to buy the videos and rights back from him. He didn't respond to me, but he DID respond. He marketed those specific videos harder. Within a short time they were up on Youtube, and multiple other websites. Now if you Google me, they're one of the first things that pop up. I took that to be the cyber equivalent of "Fuck You."

Ruined, the only thing I could do was start over. Feeling jaded, I looked to the darker side of my emotions and found a character in there that I could perform as. I started to learn side show, built up a Goth wardrobe, and created the character William Draven. I knew I'd destroyed my shot at using my own name, Draven was the next best thing. So there you have it. I can't say I'm proud of myself. If I ever get the chance to meet the younger version of me, I'd be first in line to strangle him. I've learned several lessons about the professional world of magic that I didn't take seriously when I was younger. I've also learned a few hard lessons about contract negotiations, and understanding what people plan to do with your image, and likeness once they've got you on film. I've learned how damaging exposure can be on the internet, and the difference between what is exposure and what is education. Never, even when I filmed these videos, had I wanted to expose magic. IF I would have realized that it was exposure I wouldn't have done it from the start. I was looking at it from the educational side. I had good intentions, but then again good intentions pave the way to Hell too. It was wrong of me to expose those coin gaffs, and card tricks. Despite the card material being available in the public library, it was wrong to put it out there in a form that is viewable for free. (Another aspect I didn't know about going into the project. It wasn't explained to me how the distribution was going to work. I knew it was for a website, but I didn't know the video's were going to be free. I assumed a membership to the site or something would be required.) I've issued several written and verbal apologies to the magic community by now, and I've been trying to move on with my life this past year and change. I've taken up a strong anti-exposure position, and currently work within the online magic communities that I belong to such as theory11.com, ellusionist.com, exomagic.com, and penguinmagic.com to combat internet exposure and encourage better video production from younger magicians trying to make their names known. If anything, to prevent them from making the costly mistakes I did. I'm not proud about what I did. It sucks horribly. The only thing I can say is I'm sorry (a statement that I can't seem to stress enough), and let my actions from here out show that my lesson has been learned. I am grateful for those lessons though. I needed to learn them.

Thanks for hearing my side.
Wayne Phelps


Let this be an example what could happen to you overly eager magicians who's rise to fame cannot be quick enough.

We all make mistakes, some grow upon them, some don't. I feel Wayne Phelps not only learned his lesson, but needs our help too. Does anybody know how to get rid of those videos?

I sure made a mistake by not fully researching the matter and letting my anger out too much. I am sorry for Wayne Phelps and wish my words could be unmade. I could delete them, but in the end I think it is better to have them there, so people can compare and see what kind of asshole I am.

I am sorry, and I guess I learned my lesson too. I revoke Wayne Phelps titel. He is no longer a Weekly Magic Failure.

About Last Night!

Please take into consideration that I wrote the article below this one in anger. That means I wasn't really trying to be neutral about it. Ususally, I would take it with a much more light hearted attitude. So I guess later this day, a much more objective view upon this matter will follow. Stay tuned!

Monday, May 10, 2010

WMF Wayne Phelps



Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck you. Really, Fuck you Wayne Phelps, aka William Draven. Fuck you and your greasy hairdo.

Wayny Phelps is yet another professional magician out to spoil the secret in magic. But he goes for the killer material. Expended shell? Really? This is knowledge that should not pass into the realm of lay people. This is too strong of a weapon in our magic armory.



Other things he spoils: The Flipper Coin, several Coin Vanishes (all executed poorly), the Slip Cut Force (thereby explaining the concept of a force), how to control a card to top and bottom, the key card principles and a few card tricks.

on the "ehow.com" the following is written about Wayne Phelps

Close-up magician and comic Wayne Phelps has been entertaining audiences around the United States for more than seven years. He is a member of both the Academy of Magic Arts and the Society of American Magicians.dkdk


Seven years? Seven Years? Seven Years! Damn I cannot tell you how angry I am. Seven years is not nearly enough time to be considered a professional magician. Yet seven years is enough to learn that teaching magic (which is not a bad thing) on a public forum is considered exposure.

In this video he claims be into magic for 23 years and that he is explaining some of HIS secrets. To make it clear. NONE of the stuff he explains is HIS material. Unless of course you say the moronic structure of HIS effects (take a look at the expanded shell video above) are indeed HIS.

Of course Wayne Phelps doesn't give credit. It actually sounds like he made up all this stuff. That is an impression that is easy to get. Also, it sound like that in order to be a coin magician you need to have gaffed coins. The exact opposite is the truth. (I will elaborate on this a little later this week)

Also... Wayne Phelps' skill sucks.



Isn't it lovely how unnatural and cramped his hand looks when he say that it is important to hold the hand natural? And he teaches it the wrong way. The coin is not held between the muscle of the thumb and the muscle of the ring finger and the pinkie finger. It is held between the muscle of the thumb and the hypothenar muscle which is the muscle on the outside of your hand. (The "outside" of your hand is the side that faces outwards when holding the palms to the floor. The side with the thumb is called "inside")

Why does he doe it. I can only speculate. Jerking off comes to mind. But I just hope he doesn't go that low.

Wayne Phelps, you are Weekly Magic Failure. And damn, you deserve it.

Comic Time #38



For more comics that will not appear on this blog visit: Dead Marlo

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Just A Sunday Post #44



Today is Mother's day. That means you go back to your roots and thank your mother for all the trouble she endured turning you into a human being, or a magician. Same for this blog. Let's go back to the roots of WMF. Let's go back to Steven Youell:

If you remember, Steven Youell was the very first magic failure and he was the sole reason for this blog's existence. Things have changed a bit, but Steven Youell still proclaims himself as a magic authority.

Reader "Ultimagic" said:
Be sure to take a look at "The twist palm" demo. This has got to be one of the most obvious, terrible looking palms I've ever seen. The only thing I can't figure out is how he manages to palm a card at all with that claw like stiff as a board grip.


Here it is: The Twist Palm This is Steven Youell demonstrating what the Twist Palm looks like. This is horrible.
His hand palming the card is stiff and shouts "Look at me I got something hidden there!"

I talked to Steven Youell before and I assume he would argue and say that this video shows the sleight out of context, therefore it is no possible to judge it. Well, I beg to differ. If you put out samples and I don't even like the samples, how can I still assume that the whole thing might be good.

And in true Mother's Day spirit: Thank you Steven Youell for sucking and still claiming the opposite. You are entertaining.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

WMF Jörg Friedrich



It is good to be back. Here this weeks magic failure. His name is Jörg Friedrich and he is from Bromskirchen, Germany. Why is he a magic failure? Not because he is really bad performer who does mostly self working tricks. Like this:



The kids loose interest very fast. A kid walks across the area in front of the stage not watching, this kid called to the stage looks bored. Those are signs of a bad performer. Take a look at all this junk around the stage.

All of that might add up to a magic failure. But no, Jörg Friedrich is a magic failure for a different reason. In the Magic Cafe, Jimmy Fingers, creator of the Magellan Levitation wrote:
Hello everyone,

Be warned that disabled, unauthorized versions of the Magellan Levitation are being sold on certain eBay sites internationally, without my consent, endorsement or participation.

If you choose to purchase these, they will NOT have all features, such as the 3-point stabilization system and the cheat block feature.

Also, there is a very difficult to engineer balance threshold that is very difficult to implement in the construction of the current unit. I don't just use a welder to do these. They are machined by a machine shop, with a precision that is required to assure a consistent performance.

Buyer beware.

Any further information on the fraudulent seller, Ludwig Friedrich, will be appreciated.

Thanks,

Jimmy Fingers

This is what Jimmy Fingers - creator of the awesome "Choppo" - is talking about:



Yes Jörg Friedrich dared to copy this illusion. And that is not all. If you dig through his "online shop" you will find all sorts of knock-offs. This one for example: Chain Broker, a blatant rip-off of Dirk Losander's Chain Breaker. Jörg Friedrich even dared to take the original Losander picture. (you can easily spot this by the metal bangle)

Almost all of the stuff he sells is way over priced. I own this exact box and it cost me less than five Euro and not the thirty Euro Jörg Friedrich asks for.

Here is a convenient link to his private website. And this one leads to fine examples of his close up magic.

So here is my fine opinion about this man:

He is raping my beloved magic.
He tears down the magic image by bad performance.
His business morality is unethical.
He wear an ugly glitter vest.
He charges way too much money compared to his skill.
(I prank called him asking for his fee. He told me my "guests won't forget the show". You know what I believe him)
He is unable to captivate his audience.
By doing self working tricks he shows me that he is unskilled.
His website is so 1998, which suggests he doesn't give a fuck.
He is the Weekly Magic Failure.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Losander Explaining Stuff

Explain this!



Dirk Losander explaining the paddle move. Granted it is not the ultimative secret in magic, but that doesn't make it a throw away item.

After that he goes into explaining that jumping rubber band trick. Nothing spectacular either, but again, worth exposing? (Watch him mess up at 6:25)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Just A Sunday Post #43

Something for you cigarette mainpulators. Practise makes cool!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Flower Power



This is not how real flowers look like:




So why are we magicians producing these horrible monstrosities? Just a thought to get things started again.

Seriously... I ranted about magic props before. But I guess there is a demand for weird looking abominations.

I recently met a fellow, a young man who is starting out in magic. And one of the first things he buys are feather flowers. Really? I asked him why. He told me, that he thinks those look good. I am wrong? Could it be that I am alone in hating those ugly hunks of abnormalities? If so.... help me!