Damn! That dude is cool

I see that Big Blind Media is about to produce their second set of videos featuring John Bannon, Bullet Train. It is available now for pre-order according to an ad on the Café. To their credit, I didn’t see a promised delivery date.

The trailer on their site shows John performing an intriguing looking trick. There’s a neat magicians throw off and the use of several different types of preprinted cards. I’ve never seen anything quite like it and it looks as if it would have some commercial usage.

I think Big Blind Media is taking the right approach here to combat piracy. The two disc set is priced at $40, rather than pricing it like it has the secret to immortality as so many seem to be doing now, and it comes with a dozen or so preprinted cards. I’m not so naïve as to believe that this will eliminate copying, but I certainly thinks it makes it less attractive.

The previously mentioned trailer shows John performing in a basement, I guess. It seems that using basements, caves, jail cells, etc. are very much in vogue. I’m not sure why.

A little bit of advice here Fellers. I consider John Bannon to be one of the great creators of magic in the past 20 years, but he will never be cool. I imagine John would be among the first to agree. Just let him present his magic in a straight forward fashion and do away with the attempts at artistic filming and editing. He’s just not the right subject.

Having said that, I am anxious to see the DVDs. I always get something worthwhile out of every thing he publishes.

Until Cardzilla….


(I hope they’re still using Sammie. What a nice diversion during the weaker efforts)

Lecturers I have known

As I mentioned in the prior post, Ye Olde Magick Blogge is doing "favourites" during the month of February. In some respects I hate to play off Andrew's hard work, but I just can't figure out how to comment on his blog. I have tried requesting a name and password, but never seem to get a response. Actually, I probably wouldn't want me commenting on a blog anyway. He has touched on a number of subjects, which I find fascinating and feel somewhat compelled to make comments. One of his recent subjects was best lecturer. Given the substantial difference in ages, it's not surprising that our perspectives are different. I will say that his choice, Chris Capehart, was one lecturer that I missed when he was in Chicago and everyone said he was just terrific. Hopefully, I won't miss seeing the next time he comes through. Just a quick brain dump on some lecturers that I have seen over the past 35 years or so:

Geoffrey Buckingham – this was a lecture I enjoyed tremendously, even though stage manipulation of the nature he practiced was of little interest. Probably the most fascinating part of the lecture was watching him get ready to do his show. He showed us all the loads that he placed on his body in preparation for his award winning act. A true English gentleman in every sense. He added a lot to the convention.

Paul Harris – I had the opportunity to see all when he was at the height of his creativity. You couldn't help but be struck by how shy he actually was. I had the opportunity to attend an extra cost session with him and he couldn't have been more accommodating. The lecture itself, was good but not great. It just wasn't his venue.

A stage illusionist whose name I have forgotten – I've always thought of a stage illusionist as someone who dances around and acts gay while the boxes do the trick. After watching this demonstration, I now define stage illusionist as the guy who dances around and acts gay while the boxes and hard-working assistants do the tricks. Some of the machinations that the girls went through in those boxes astounded me.

Lectures that keep the good stuff – one real gripe I have with DVDs and lecturers are performance only pieces. In several cases, I have sat through mundane lectures only to be excited towards the end of the lecture by a quality piece of magic and then being told that it was performance only. Certainly no lecturer is required to show anything, but keep your performance only pieces for performances. They are not for lectures!

Paul Green – this is a lecture I thoroughly enjoyed. Paul's magic is doable and well structured. It's too bad his reputation was somewhat sullied over that silly Card Warp controversy. If you can't see Paul, I highly recommend his DVD. There are a bunch of lecturers, many of them big names, such as Darwin Ortiz and  David Roth whose lectures have grown into nothing more than a sales pitch with a little bit of entertainment.. Personally, I resist buying anything when I attend one of these lectures. Having said all of this, one lecturer stands out from the crowd to me –

David Williamson! Dave has chops, creativity and insights to offer any audience. He can be absolutely hilarious, but hopefully he will not be in one of those moods where gets just plain goofy. Just hearing him tell the story of his command performance before Siegfried and Roy is worth a long trip. Dave is also one of those guys that puts his whole heart and energy into making sure any convention that has booked him is a success. I understand he is giving more lectures these days as this crappy economy is seriously reducing the number of corporate gigs available. See him if you have the chance. (Now that I think of it, I don't recall Dave having anything to sell in any of the lectures that I have attended.) i/m

Addendum: Some of the better lectures I have seen over the past couple of years have been presented by local no names. Some of these guys really, really work hard to present good magic and good explanations. Maybe it's just a sign of the times.

A Favorite Favourite

I’ve often said that Andrew Musgrave over at Ye Olde Magick Blogge writes the most ambitious and intelligent articles on the web (magicwise). He has committed himself, as have several other bloggers, to producing an article per day during 2011. We’ll talk about that later. Right now I want to concentrate on several of his most recent articles.

He has declared February as favourites (as he spells it) month. So far, the articles have been outstanding. I would think the toughest part of this series is actually defining the categories. He has already written articles such as favorite book on magic theory, favorite L & L performance, and favorite talk show magic performance. As I write this article, I believe I have only agreed with Andrew on one item, which is favorite impromptu card trick. Certainly, much of this is due to our sizable difference in ages (I have underwear older than Andrew) and part of it do to our individual preferences and prejudices e.g. he has already awarded two categories to Jay Sankey, which is something I would never do. Jay has put out so much crap over the years that was unworthy of publication that I have a hard time accepting he has also done some incredibly good development.

CharlieFryeThe article which recently caught my attention was favourite torn and restored card. The easy out would have been J. C. Wagener’s seminal routine and it would have been an excellent choice. Andrew, however, went with Charlie Frye’s Ripped and Fryed. Frankly, this is a trick that I had missed. It is on one of the discs in Paul Harris’ True Astonishment set. In searching out Charlie’s trick, I again realized what a terrible, terrible effort the long awaited Harris set was. Here we have the work of possibly the most influential magician of the past 30 years and he doesn’t show a single trick. Boy, was I disappointed!

Charlie’s trick is well conceived, well executed and doable. I’m a big fan of Charlie Frye – his juggling and magic. This trick is worth looking up. Our thanks to Andrew for bringing this and other items to our attention.


PS Favorite L&L performance? – it’s gotta be that gal in the front row of Tommy Wonder’s DVDs keeping that micro skirt from going that last inch before the vice squad is called in. VERY impressive.