63 entries categorized "Weblogs"

'The Art of the Spin' at it's finest!

On November 15 I posted this fascinating article about how magicians can write themselves a glowing press release.

On November 17 another blogger seems to have taken this advice literally HERE.

Now before anyone accuses me of bagging a fellow Aussie's attempt at putting on a big show let me make it clear - I did not see'Las Vegas Confidential' and I don't know whether it was good or bad but I give James Karp the greatest respect for putting his money where his mouth is and putting on a big show.

The whole point of this post is this blogger's superb example of taking less than stellar reviews and making them shine.

Here's how he quoted the press reviews:


John Shand, 13 Nov, The Sydney Morning Herald

THE new century is still young, but here is its funniest show so far. Nothing else has doubled me up like this, a mirth vociferously shared by those around me.
…a couple of cute magic tricks, and sparsely clad females cavorted leggily in all scenes...

Jason Blake. 16 Nov, Sun Herald

when it comes to describing Las Vegas (Confidential)… fascinating or educational …
James Taylor's choreography is… showgirl shape-throwing, Eurovision twizz and… bump 'n' grind…

Angela Saurine, 13 Nov, Daily Telegraph

The show boasts… impressive moments, such as a fun scene where Alex breaks into an energetic performance of The Gambler with other male cast members. It's a very different slant on the Kenny Rogers classic, complete with bare-chested cowboys.

As Katrina Retallick was ill with laryngitis, understudy Diana Holt stepped in as Francesca, the lead female role. Her strong voice was a highlight. Underbelly's Tony Nikolakopoulos is a standout as mobster Tony ``The Tool''.


And here are the full reviews with the quotes (in red) and in context:


John Shand, 13 Nov, The Sydney Morning Herald

THE new century is still young, but here is its funniest show so far. Nothing else has doubled me up like this, a mirth vociferously shared by those around me.

The problem, confidentially, is that Las Vegas - The Musical is not intended as a comedy.

We all have ideas that, on sober reflection, we promptly dismiss. This show was such an idea, minus the dismissal. It was dreamed up by James Karp, who wrote the script - if that's the word for dialogue devoid of wit, plot or characterisation. Mr Karp is usually a magician, and this may be his ultimate trick.

Caught in the illusion is Alexander "The Great" Dean (Tamlyn Henderson), a gambling-addicted magician employed by a mobster (Tony Nikolakopoulos) in a Las Vegas casino. He's advised to clear out by Tyche, the Goddess of Fortune (Simone Karp) - no, seriously - and by the Latino barman (a rollicking Garry Scale). Meanwhile an FBI man (Alistair Toogood), hot on the scent of the Mob, is more or less raped by the predatory Tiffani (Tiffani Wood). Performance quality is an irrelevance.

Alexander falls for chanteuse Francesca, which brings us to the night's only winner. That role was to have been played by Katrina Retallick, but Lady Luck stole her voice, so Diana Holt bravely faced the music.

Ah, yes, the music. This was a jukebox mishmash, containing some of the worst songs ever penned - Las Vegas and, for variety, Dov'e L'Amore - and some others that had no business being so abused.

To distract us from the dialogue and music there were a couple of cute magic tricks, and sparsely clad females cavorted leggily in all scenes, whether they had reason to be there or not. Christopher Hurrell had the job of directing, James Taylor of choreographing and Peter Casey and Michael Bartolomei of looking after the music. Mark Thompson and James Karp designed the set - basically a digital projection screen - which Nigel Levings lit, while James Ionnides and Karp came up with the flocks of feathers, other skimpy costume bits and more feathers.

If you need a laugh . . . no, on second thoughts, read Hunter S. Thompson's Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas. The Vegas he saw with a head full of LSD was, confidentially, infinitely less frightful.

 
Jason Blake. 16 Nov, Sun Herald

2 out of 10

THE expression "train wreck" is barely adequate when it comes to describing Las Vegas (Confidential). After all, there's always something grimly fascinating or educational to see in a train wreck. No, this is a fiasco, an embarrassment to all involved in its making and an insult to its audience.

Based on "previously untold true events", the plot revolves around Alexander "The Great" Dean (Tamlyn Henderson), a stage illusionist and headline act at a Vegas casino managed by Mob figure Tony "The Tool" Spitori (Tony Nikolakopoulos), to whom Dean owes a million bucks or more.

With encouragement from his personal Goddess of Fortune (a ludicrous role written for producer-writer James Karp's wife, Simone), a love affair blossoms between the feckless Dean and the understandably wary Francesca, a singer. In order for it to survive, however, Dean must work out an exit strategy from the dangerous situation he finds himself in.

Responsibility for this mind-bendingly inept jukebox musical lies with Karp - a stage illusionist himself - and it bears all the hallmarks of a vanity project gone mad.

Without exception, the scenes are sketchy, the dialogue dull-witted and the characters hopelessly cliched. Humour only arises because Karp is unable to distinguish the funny from the laughable. Some episodes exist only as framing devices for magic tricks, all of which look silly in this context.

Design-wise, there's nothing to arrest the eye other than the migraine-inducing glare of the stadium-style jumbotron screen dominating the stage. Karp's choice of songs - ranging from Que Sera, Sera to an excruciating version of Robbie Williams's Me And My Monkey - is as strange as it is unappetising.

Director Christopher Hurrell struggles to make the basics - entrances, exits, scene changes - work and James Taylor's choreography is a mess of showgirl shape-throwing, Eurovision twizz and tawdry bump 'n' grind, much of it inexpertly realised.

Rhythm and sass are what's needed and both are utterly absent. Henderson shows some determination in the lead role yet not for an instant do we care about Dean or anything he does. Leading lady Katrina Retallick was indisposed on opening night and would do well to stay that way.

Our sympathies go to understudy Diana Holt, who gamely played the thankless role of Francesca. Tiffani Wood, of the late and unlamented pop act Bardot, is rather too obviously there as an audience drawcard but her role - a hooker-singer named Tiffany - is restricted to a couple of Shania Twain-style workouts in the second act. Garry Scale certainly earns his fee playing an elderly Mexican barman in what appears to be a tribute to Tattoo from Fantasy Island.

Tosh from top to tail, Las Vegas (Confidential) is rubbish and a rip-off.

 
 
 
 
Angela Saurine, 13 Nov, Daily Telegraph

YOU'D expect a show about Las Vegas to be kitsch and offbeat but this musical borders on the bizarre. Written and created by illusionist James Karp, it is a tale of showgirls, gamblers and henchmen in the 1960s and '70s.

With a flimsy narrative, the love story between the main characters, illusionist Alexander ``The Great'' Dean (Tamlyn Henderson) and beautiful chanteuse Francesca, develops too quickly to be believable.

Former Bardot member Tiffani Wood's role as burlesque starlet Tiffany Hills is much-hyped, but her character doesn't appear until the second half. Some people in the first-night crowd had already left by that time.

The show boasts a few impressive moments, such as a fun scene where Alex breaks into an energetic performance of The Gambler with other male cast members. It's a very different slant on the Kenny Rogers classic, complete with bare-chested cowboys.

As Katrina Retallick was ill with laryngitis, understudy Diana Holt stepped in as Francesca, the lead female role. Her strong voice was a highlight. Underbelly's Tony Nikolakopoulos is a standout as mobster Tony ``The Tool''.

But overall, many in the audience were left wishing what happened in Vegas had stayed there.


Searching to say something

Since I installed the new Lijit Search box (see the top right hand corner of this blog) people seem to have been taking advantage of it in many ways.

It displays a "cloud" of terms that people have been searching and puts the most frequently searched terms first.

Now, thanks to the ISP feature of this blog, I know who is visiting the site and we do have quite a few regulars.

What the Lijit Search cloud has revealed is very interesting, and in some ways a little sad.

One key player in the quest to keep Sue-Anne and I out of the ASM has gone out of his way to make it clear to others he can't stand me. He's spread rumours, made presentations, sent legal letters and even made physical threats of violence - telling others what he'd do to me if I ever showed up at an ASM meeting.

One would think that now we've been rejected from the ASM he would be happy.

No.

He's now spending his days in front of the computer visiting this blog.

Take a look at the current Lijit search cloud.

Search 

Do you know how many times you have to search to get a particular term to the top of the cloud? Can you imagine the time it would take to manage three separate terms? Here's a clue.

Backend 

That's 445 search hits... today!

Now what I can't understand is, if this person simply cannot stand the sight of us, then why is he spending so much time on our blog? Surely he's not attempting to provoke or harrass in some way, that would be poor form.

As much as I appreciate the increase in the hit count he's giving our blog, and I'm not going to ban him or anyone else from it, I feel sorry for the fact that he can't find a more productive way to spend his time.

Like I said, it's a little sad really.


Congratulations Cary

Cary, you are the lucky winner of our 2000th comment prize!

Just drop me an email with your mailing address and your selection of any one of our DVDs and I'll pop it in the post as a bonus Christmas present for you!

To all our commenters thanks for keeping this blog going. Blogs really die off quickly when nobody joins in the discussion. Plus, in all the excitement about the 2000th comment (well, it's exciting for me, and Cary, at least!) we passed over 205,000 views!

All I can do is to thank those who enjoy checking us out every day, and encourage you "lurkers" to post a few comments now and then too.

You may have noticed the new Lijit Search tool on the top right hand column. Not only is it an effective search engine, but it also lists the most popular search words and that helps me to know what you're interested in reading about.

So once again, thanks, and Cary... email me.. we have a DVD waiting for you!


Bizzaro on magic competitions

Brendan Croft put me on to this recent post by Bizzaro.

He does make some good points and, mostly, I agree with him. But I would add that the reason I compete is to force myself to create. By setting a goal I have to come up with an act of some kind.

Unfortunately, some do people go in with the attitude Bizzaro has, but without the ability, and they waste everyone's time. They just want to be on stage and the centre of attention, despite the fact they MUST know they are way below standard.
 
At the other extreme some do take it way too seriously. You should not enter aiming to win, because there are way too many variables against you that you simply cannot control. One judge may have an intensely personal dislike to your style of costume and (unfairly) mark you low. One judge might be getting paid off by another act. You might walk out on stage and the idiot tech might miss every one of your cues and leave you on stage unlit and in silence.
 
I understand there is a certain degree of prestige and many publicity opportunities that come with winning a competition too. If you put in the hard work, go through all the stress, and then are lucky enough to win a prize - definitely exploit that. Let everyone know you are the 'Best Close Up Magician at the AJM Convention 2008' or whatever it is.
 
Alternatively, you could simply follow the popular course of making up awards and calling yourself 'Gold Award Winner of Magician of the Year' or some such title. Of course, you'll lose the respect of all your fellow magicians and look like an idiot if anyone bothers to check if you really did win a prize or not... at least then your fate is well and truly in your own hands.
 

We've been blogged!

We got an email out of the blue this morning from Amy Liu from BLOGGED. Apparently this company is constantly scouring the internet to "find better blogs". Somehow they came across us and Amy had this to say:

"Our editors recently reviewed your blog and have given it an 8.1 score out of (10) in the Entertainment category of Blogged.com.

This is quite an achievement!

 We evaluated your blog based on the following criteria: Frequency of Updates, Relevance of Content, Site Design, and Writing Style.

After carefully reviewing each of these criteria, your site was given its 8.1 score.

We’ve also created Blogged.com score badges with your score prominently displayed.  Simply visit your website’s summary page on Blogged.com:

Please accept my congratulations on a blog well-done!!"

 

They listed us here and we're proud to add their widget to our site!


One down, fifty thousand and nine to go...

Good news today that one exposure website has been forced to close it's doors, thanks to legal action by James Clark of Black's magic. The exposers were also "sharing" magic videos they purchased with all the members of their site. James was able to track them down and hit them with legal action. Strangely enough, they still don't think they were doing anything wrong.

I purchased a DVD called "Holy Grail" from Black's Magic Group. Once I purchased this DVD I made a post on the forum in the VIP saying "I got this today, will upload when arrives". Well, it appeared that the owner of Black's Magic Group (James L. Clark) was registered here and was VIP. He saw my post and cross-examined his orders. I then received a call from James Clark 1 week later. He contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and threatened to contact my college.

I tried to play buddy-buddy with him, however his downloads kept showing up, and his demands soon became irrational. I didn't want him to continuously to have the upper hand. After being visited by an FBI agent at my home, I really sat down and thought about the situation. After some thinking I realized I did nothing wrong and I was protected by laws. I contacted two lawyers, (one in Chicago IL and one in Miami FL). Both lawyers guaranteed me getting off without anything on my record and the site could remain ONLINE. Now comes the hard part, I asked the lawyer how much it would cost me. They both ranged from 500-900 USD per hour. I myself do not have this kind of money, and am already backed up in server payments. On the other hand James Clark has plenty of it.

So as many of you can see, this is my situation. I will keep the FORUM and the WEBSITE open, but the downloads will be removed from the server. It may take time to convert a few things, but hopefully within the first week of removing the downloads the site will be running smoothly again.

What will I do for you?
- I will be more then happy to archive and compile all links for you and post it for download. Therefor anything previously posted in the past can be obtained.
- Refund any donations of users who feel that I "stole" their money.
-Leave the majority of the site open for users to converse about magic related material.
-Convert the site to a "Learn Magic Tricks" style, so users are still able to expose methods and learn, just no copyrighted material.
-Try to get all members a place over at Art of Misdirection.

They also mentioned they were upset by the comments of another magic exposure website, and because of that, they're going to dob the owners of the other website into the FBI (it's great, like dominos knocking each other over!)

Someone has brought to my attention that NeoMagician has posted about this, thats cool, however after reading the posts by NeoMagicians users I was extremely displeased! Just about every member of NeoMagician was happy! They where cheering and praising ExoMagic for being shut down!

I am baffled at this, I know that if NeoMagician was shut down NONE of our members would do anything of that sort, or at least I would hope not.

I noticed one of their users posted, "must have been karma". Well, here is where karma comes in and bites WagetheWar in the ass. I never did anything to NeoMagician nor WagetheWar, therefor no karma for me. However WagetheWar did take my money from my donation and ban me from the site, want to know what karma is a bitch? I have all of WagetheWar's personal information.

I have been in close contact with the same Federal Agent that contacted me, James L. Clark, and his college in Tennessee (Middle Tennessee State University). Wage, or shall I say Nic, you will be hearing from me in the near future.

Readinging the post gives some insight to the warped perspective these guys have. Their world is a very different place.