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Topic: Reviews -- how I write them
Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Jul 24, 2006 02:21PM)
Some of you who are members of SAM know that I am now a reviewer for MUM. Recently, one of the members of the forum has cast some rather odd aspersions on my qualifications as a reviewer, so I'll explain how I go about reviewing a trick.

First of all, I read the claims of the manufacturer. Next, I examine the props. I check to see if anything stands out as being problematic. Then I read the instructions and see if they are easily understood. I also check for completeness of instructions and proper crediting.

For example, if a particular force is used, I look to see if it is credited by the originator's name (if known) or simply by a catch-all name that is known to the magic community. I also check to see if the originator's name is spelled correctly. If the instructions refer to a "Hofzinger bottom placement," I will point out the error.

Next, I practice the trick and see how well it flows. If the trick works according to the instructions, then I'm satisfied. Finally, I try it under fire. I have a ready and willing group of lay people who are fairly discerning that will watch new material for me. I listen to their reactions without prompting them for opinions.

With larger stage props, such as the ring in the racquetball, I did not go through the performance phase, because it wasn't necessary. The prop functioned precisely as it should, and since I don't do many stage shows any more, I didn't have a place to try it out. However, I could see from Lou Leventhal's DVD that came with it, that it would work well. I've done similar effects, so I knew how this would play onstage.

Now I write the review. Generally, I do not write a bad review of a trick unless it falls short of what I consider to be normal constraints. I bring into consideration the type of performer who will be using it. I don't let friendships or old conflicts get in the way. My friends know this, so they are careful not to submit junk!

However, one fellow whose material I reviewed posted here, "I wish there weren't as many or any reviewers of magic tricks." Well, if you don't want it reviewed, don't send it. That's a no-brainer.

I have never seen a dealer item that the dealer who sold it could not present well. But that does not mean that YOU will be able to present every dealer item well. A dealer may perform a routine 20 to 50 times a day. In a week, he will have gotten in more practice than most people do in several months. And he MUST sell them. If he doesn't he has to eat them.

Think about this.