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Topic: Slam Poetry Magic Square
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 22, 2009 10:04PM)
Hey guys I would like to share my performance of the magic square with everyone here on the Café. It's a combination of slam poetry (aka spoken word) and the magic square.

At the start of the show I had everyone think of a two digit number and singled out one person. Then I moved onto other routines like The Relic (which is a great product at Outlaw Effects) and a stage Invisible Deck routine. And I finished up with the magic square...enjoy!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=epZuZpZmZWI
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Apr 22, 2009 10:19PM)
VERY COOL !!!!!!
I hate the magic Square but this I can deal with :)
Many future possibilities.
Nice .....
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 22, 2009 10:26PM)
Thanks. I've hated the magic square for a LONG time as well lol.
Message: Posted by: pearljamjeff (Apr 22, 2009 11:37PM)
That was simply brilliant. It gave me chills.
Message: Posted by: Natural Mystic (Apr 23, 2009 01:17AM)
Benji,

My brother that was TIGHT.

Take it deeper.

Pick up some of Jerome Finley's material.

I'll PM you later.

Peace.
Message: Posted by: tbone81 (Apr 23, 2009 06:41AM)
A great example that a "simple effect" can be brought to new levels and standards using great showmanship. Thanks for sharing, this gave me lots of new ideas.
Message: Posted by: animation (Apr 23, 2009 06:46AM)
One of the best presentations of the magic square I have seen, very inspiring! I have seen your other clips on youtube, keep up the good work
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 23, 2009 08:20AM)
Thanks guys. And any ways to improve it are welcomed so I'll be expecting that PM Natural Mystic.
Message: Posted by: tboehnlein (Apr 23, 2009 10:33AM)
"Take it deeper." I understand the thinking but do not know if I agree with it, the presentation is light & entertaining & seems to strike home with the audience, if anything I would look at pacing & tag lines.
Message: Posted by: Domino Magic (Apr 23, 2009 10:58AM)
That was excellent! Absolutely an original presentation that you can almost be guaranteed no one will try to copy. Good job.
Message: Posted by: Davit Sicseek (Apr 23, 2009 11:55AM)
Dope.

Was this filmed at a slam? Or another event?
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 23, 2009 12:01PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-23 12:55, Davit Sicseek wrote:
Dope.

Was this filmed at a slam? Or another event?
[/quote]


It was filmed at an awards banquet that I was hired to perform at.
Message: Posted by: Silvertongue (Apr 23, 2009 12:09PM)
Gotta say this is the best performance I've ever seen of this effect...

Very well done.
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Apr 23, 2009 01:59PM)
A lot of people throw up crap on YouTube with the excuse that it's just for fun, or it doesn't play in front of a camera or whatever.

This is the exact opposite of stuff like that.

It's original (as far as I know), it's professional, it's memorable, it's truly art.

I scoped out your other stuff too.

Whatever charisma, stage presence, whatever is, you've got it. Very impressive.

Two problems in my opinion:
1.) Your youtube page has a website of http://www.bbmagicworld.com and this website doesn't have a DNS entry (unless there are upgrades going on). Having such a spectacular youtube video is somewhat lost if people go to a non-existing (or non-working) website.
2.) http://BenjiBruce.com seems to have a flash (or other active run) front door. I would recommend having an html front door as well. Many workplaces have blocks on flash or other issues and cannot access your website because of this. I am one of those people.

You'll notice that the problems only exist because you did a great job. I was actually going to see where you were located and recommend you to some people (at least to look at your vids and webpage) but can't do that now.

Thanks for sharing.

Lem
Message: Posted by: Davit Sicseek (Apr 23, 2009 02:15PM)
Since Lem is talking practicalities, and since I'd be happy to offer constructive criticism to Usain Bolt - I'll add that purely for promotional purposes, it would be worth filming yourself properly at another event, perhaps with a direct mic feed.
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Apr 23, 2009 03:16PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-23 15:15, Davit Sicseek wrote:
Since Lem is talking practicalities...
[/quote]

LOL

It is show business after all. Business is a big part of it.
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 23, 2009 04:43PM)
Lem thanks for letting me know. I forgot my youtube page has the wrong address. That was my old website and I will definitely consider html for my new site.

Davit, you're right. I will eventually hire professionals to film it but right now it was just something for me to record and take notes on. Thanks for the input.
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Apr 23, 2009 05:32PM)
Just one thing, I didn't mean HTML instead of flash or whatever, but maybe something like a default flash with a link for HTML if desired/required. I know it's not insiginificant in terms of time and effort and thanks for listening either way.

Good luck!

Lem
Message: Posted by: braunmagic (Apr 23, 2009 06:44PM)
Benji,

That was great. My only recommendation would be to have the board facing away from the audeince during the writing of the numbers.

This does several things.

It allows you to face the audience when you deliver a lot of your lines. A major rule to follow is NEVER turn you back to the audeince especially if you are trying to deliver a thought, idea or emotion. Think poetry jam were everyone performs with the back to the crowd ???.

It also allows you to get a laugh when you ask what number they are thinking of and you turn the pad to show that you have written 16 numbers.

Depending on what method you are using for the Magic square it may also allow you to have some of the numbers pre written therefore speeding up that process.

and it removes some of the confusion when you are writing the numbers and replaces it with suspense.

I understand that you talking about dividing the mind and then you draw the lines. I still think people will know that you are dividing the paper even though they do not see the lines being drawn.

I personally just connect with you so much more when you are facing the crowd.

I know in our craft we are always turning our back. Lets just think about how to avoid this or at least how it effects our performances and the way people connect with us.

Just my thoughts,

Brent Braun
Message: Posted by: siepielski (Apr 23, 2009 06:48PM)
Benji find some way not to turn your back to the audience as you fill in the square. The loss of eye contact makes the presentation less effective.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Apr 23, 2009 06:50PM)
Benji,
I have got to say man I love your fresh style, you kick it and the audiance loved it, awesome job.

-Floyd
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 23, 2009 08:08PM)
I've definitely thought about my back being towards the audience and I probably will end up changing it so I face the audience. Thanks.
Message: Posted by: Gianni (Apr 23, 2009 09:13PM)
I applaud Benji's creativity. But the effect did not do anything for me. I confess that I could not make out the words very well. After 1 min., 30 seconds I gave up.

You may wonder why I posted this. It certainly was not to be insulting in any way. I admire Benji for being in the arena. But I did want to say that there may be others like me who did not "get" the routine. I worry that this board too often wants to encourage one another over a critical assessment. I simply could not make out what was happening here and what was being said, and can't undrstand how everyone else did.

Gianni
Message: Posted by: lunatik (Apr 23, 2009 09:33PM)
Benji, that was the bomb! The video was very easy to understand imo. Gianni, please look up Slam Poetry as it might help you understand what you've just witnessed.

The Magic Square will never be the same after this. The bar has been raised!
Message: Posted by: barneyfife (Apr 23, 2009 09:57PM)
Benji,

What was the group you were performing for?

Barney
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 23, 2009 10:00PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-23 22:57, barneyfife wrote:
Benji,

What was the group you were performing for?

Barney
[/quote]

99% of the audience was black and understood slam poetry. It was a Black Student Services Awards Banquet which is the reason why I didn't explain what they already know.
Message: Posted by: Aaron Little (Apr 23, 2009 10:02PM)
That was excellent. I have never been interested in working with the magic square until now. You have truly inspired me. Thank You.
Message: Posted by: Davit Sicseek (Apr 23, 2009 11:34PM)
[quote]99% of the audience was black and understood slam poetry. It was a Black Student Services Awards Banquet which is the reason why I didn't explain what they already know.[/quote]

I'm glad you mentioned this. It's worth pointing out to anyone that is considering this type of approach that white people find slam poetry VERY hard to understand.
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Apr 23, 2009 11:37PM)
I'm white.
Message: Posted by: Davit Sicseek (Apr 23, 2009 11:38PM)
Slim, may I be so bold as to suggest that you are black on the inside?
Message: Posted by: Slim King (Apr 23, 2009 11:39PM)
Maybe :)
Message: Posted by: Aaron Little (Apr 23, 2009 11:44PM)
It made perfect sense to me.
Message: Posted by: LLL (Apr 24, 2009 02:40AM)
Man, that was nice!! Kudos.
Message: Posted by: Floyd Collins (Apr 24, 2009 04:34AM)
I am white as you can tell in my avatar, heck I am full blooded Irish red if you want to get down to it hehe. What I found was so fresh was the blending of the two art forms. I understood every word, maybe it has to do with your location in this vast world we live in because I have heard slam poetry for some time now; he delivered the meanings and message very well.

-Floyd
Message: Posted by: Gianni (Apr 24, 2009 10:00AM)
OK, fair enough. Not only did I not understand the words, I have never even heard of slam poetry. So I guess that the routine was great for people who can speak this language, but unintelligible to those who can't.

Gianni
Message: Posted by: Davit Sicseek (Apr 24, 2009 10:59AM)
Technically a "slam" is the name given to a type of competition where poets and spoken word artists compete against each other. Having not heard of a "slam" is not surprising, as at least in the UK, it's not in mainstream use. What happens at a 'slam' however is as old as the hills. Poetry and spoken word performance is nothing new, and if you have a good understanding of English there is no reason you can't understand it. I've never heard a slam performance that was harder to understand than Shakespeare.

Incidentally, for those in the UK, there's a weekly spoken word show broadcast on BBC Radio 4 every week:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00cms41
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 24, 2009 11:23AM)
I don't think you need to be black to understand the routine. I've performed it for white and black audiences and both loved it.

And Davit is right when he says a "slam" is a competition.

Thanks for the feedback guys.
Message: Posted by: Gianni (Apr 24, 2009 11:36AM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-24 11:59, Davit Sicseek wrote:
... if you have a good understanding of English there is no reason you can't understand it. I've never heard a slam performance that was harder to understand than Shakespeare.
[/quote]

So you are saying that if Benji had performed the magic square before that same audience in Elizabethan English, that audience would have understood and enjoyed it. Interesting.

Gianni
Message: Posted by: Davit Sicseek (Apr 24, 2009 01:01PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-24 12:36, Gianni wrote:
So you are saying that if Benji had performed the magic square before that same audience in Elizabethan English, that audience would have understood and enjoyed it. Interesting.
[/quote]

No.

I'm saying that every performance I've ever heard that's typical of poetry slams has been easier to understand than Shakespeare. I said nothing about enjoyment.

I was making the point that most people with a near native understanding of English have no difficulty getting the gist of Shakespeare's plays on first reading, the implication being that your lack of understanding of this 'easier' content was down to your limited English rather than some sort of impenetrable dialect.

Having said that, your English is far better than any foreign language I can speak, so respects.

Benji - do you have other pieces that you perform with poetry? It would be a great concept for an entire show I think.
Message: Posted by: Sealegs (Apr 24, 2009 01:25PM)
I applaud anyone who brings a new presentation to an effect. Even more so when that effect is an old chestnut that's had ample opportunity to have all manner of differing approaches attatched to it.

That said, no one pleases all the people all of the time.

I'd never heard of the term 'Poetry Slam' but my understanding from the previous posts in this thread is that the 'Slam' refers to a competition and not to the style or content of the poetry. For me this was a style I really didn't have an affinity for. Additionally the way the sentiments and meaning of the poetry were expressed, at least what I could make out, also left me cold.

I've seen and heard John Cooper Clark in performance on many an occassion over the last 20 years and worked in many a comedy club with John Hegley, as well as hearing him on various Rado 4 programs. Both these performers were mentioned in the references I've looked up regarding 'Poetry Slam' and both these performers I've found to be engaging, understandable, entertaining and unpretentious.

These are the qualities that I found missing from this performance.

But I'm just one person with one point of view, so it's no biggie and I sincerely hope he/you has/have success with it.

At least Gianni knows he's not a lone voice.

Neal.
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 24, 2009 01:25PM)
Davit I don't have other pieces that are performed with spoken word but I was really considering it. I was mainly considering starting my show with spoken word so by the time I end the show with the square, it will come full circle.
Message: Posted by: Davit Sicseek (Apr 24, 2009 02:40PM)
I think it's a strong distinctive approach.

Although Sealegs gave a pretty scathing reviews, I agree that spoken word stuff isn't for everyone. Even within the spoken world field there's plenty I don't care for - but plenty I love.

A little idea... I know a lot of spoken word poets have experience in freestyle rap battles. I'm not sure if that's the case with you, but if you are quick with your rhymes (in fact thinking about it, there's plenty of scope for not having to freestyle), there could be a lovely piece where the spectators complete your lines... crude example:

- Conduct the whole presentation in rhyme.
- Have multiple participants
- Get each to think of something different using whatever method you like to get the info.
- Conduct the revelation in rhyme in such a way that you ask them to name whatever they were thinking of, and the word they reveal complete the rhyming couplet proving that you had foresight of their word.

"If we can move on to the next person please, what body part were you thinking of" "Knees"
Message: Posted by: Gianni (Apr 24, 2009 04:11PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-24 14:01, Davit Sicseek wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-04-24 12:36, Gianni wrote:
So you are saying that if Benji had performed the magic square before that same audience in Elizabethan English, that audience would have understood and enjoyed it. Interesting.
[/quote]

No.

I'm saying that every performance I've ever heard that's typical of poetry slams has been easier to understand than Shakespeare. I said nothing about enjoyment.

I was making the point that most people with a near native understanding of English have no difficulty getting the gist of Shakespeare's plays on first reading, the implication being that your lack of understanding of this 'easier' content was down to your limited English rather than some sort of impenetrable dialect.
[/quote]

I think I have been insulted for saying that I could not hear much of what was being said in Benji's performance (you yourself suggested that he have a microphone), and could not understand what I did hear. As a result, I offered a review to Benji on this basis for his consideration. Of course, I later found that Benji's performance was stylized to appeal to a certain rather specific audience.

I will also say to you that I have rather firm credentials surrounding my ability to understand, speak and write the English language, at least the Americanized version of English. I do not warrant your insult about my "limited English" skills. I'd wager a great deal that they meet or exceed yours.

All that being said, I am finished with this thread.

Gianni
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Apr 24, 2009 04:24PM)
Whoa!

I happen to like it so I look at like follows:
If you like it, you are correct
If you don't, you are wrong


Now, since I didn't use sarcasm tags, that is sarcasm. Nobody can tell you what you should like or not like. I think a large part of understanding is the desire to understand and if you don't have it, you don't have it.

Everybody's opinion is equal. Except mine, it's superior. Notice the lack of sarcasm tags on that last one... ;-)
Message: Posted by: Davit Sicseek (Apr 24, 2009 04:29PM)
You said:

[quote]OK, fair enough. Not only did I not understand the words, I have never even heard of slam poetry. So I guess that the routine was great for people who can speak this language, but unintelligible to those who can't.[/quote]

What do you mean by this?

Which of the words couldn't you understand? Have you heard of poetry?

My statement was supposed to convey a little insult, I'm glad you picked up on it. You seem to be suggesting that the performance was unintelligible, yet are a self proclaimed expert. The fact is that the performance wasn't very hard to understand when compared with other forms of performance e.g. Shakespeare. You seem to be stuck in an awkward quandary where you can't understand it, but are also an expert in English.

I hope you get it sorted out.
Message: Posted by: Benji Bruce (Apr 24, 2009 04:35PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-24 15:40, Davit Sicseek wrote:

A little idea... I know a lot of spoken word poets have experience in freestyle rap battles. I'm not sure if that's the case with you, but if you are quick with your rhymes (in fact thinking about it, there's plenty of scope for not having to freestyle), there could be a lovely piece where the spectators complete your lines... crude example:

- Conduct the whole presentation in rhyme.
- Have multiple participants
- Get each to think of something different using whatever method you like to get the info.
- Conduct the revelation in rhyme in such a way that you ask them to name whatever they were thinking of, and the word they reveal complete the rhyming couplet proving that you had foresight of their word.

"If we can move on to the next person please, what body part were you thinking of" "Knees"
[/quote]

That's an interesting idea. I may try it out but first I have to learn how to freestyle :)
Message: Posted by: John C (Apr 24, 2009 05:00PM)
Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

It's a good performance.

It's Benji's GIG with the magic square.

Way to go!

J
Message: Posted by: Ron Vergilio (Apr 24, 2009 05:25PM)
Very nice Benji...

You might try and turn the board so that it is almost perpendicular to the audience but slightly turned more to facing the them. This way you are standing sideways to the audience. They can still see your face and see what you are writing... (somewhat).

Then rotate the board to fully face the audience and complete the routine.

Great routine you have. made me rethink the magic square.

Ron
Message: Posted by: IAIN (Apr 24, 2009 05:31PM)
I enjoyed a great deal...

mentioning rap/hip hop battles reminded me of the very first rap (alledgedly)album, if you can find it - try "the hustler's convention", its part of Iceberg Slim's book(s) set to some heavy, deep funk (supplied by kool and the gang when they were good) - not always rhyming couplets, but done in a kinda beat poet "hep" style...

its interesting just tracing the meaning of words, what rapping meant originally, and even the word "funk"!

anyway - I would say an entire show done in this style may be a bit too over the top, but I could see an excellent thesaurus based book test working out very well...
Message: Posted by: Natural Mystic (Apr 24, 2009 07:49PM)
IAIN
“mentioning rap/hip hop battles reminded me of the very first rap (alledgedly)album, if you can find it - try "the hustler's convention"

I have to big up you British cats. Brits seem to have an appreciation and deeply knowledgeable of all genres of music comprising black music. You brought back a lot memoires with the mention of Iceberg Slim and The Hustler Convention. The Hustler’s Convention was an album by Jalaluddin Mansur Nuriddin , one founding members of The Last Poets.

The Hustler's Convention
http://www.blaxploitationpride.org/2008/01/lightnin-rod-hustlers-convention-1973.html?zx=b3c89186301d516f

Jalal Mansur Nuriddin
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jalal_Mansur_Nuriddin

Malik Al Nasir
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Malik_Al_Nasir

Peace.
Message: Posted by: Reuben Dunn (Apr 25, 2009 02:53PM)
[quote]
On 2009-04-23 14:59, Lemniscate wrote: I would recommend having an html front door as well. Many workplaces have blocks on flash or other issues and cannot access your website because of this. I am one of those people.[/quote]

The true test of a man's character is what he does when no one is watching. -John Wooden

Like surfing the internet while at work? [b] {;-) [/b]
Message: Posted by: Davit Sicseek (Apr 25, 2009 09:56PM)
Reuben, I would never dare speak for the mighty Lem...

But it's worth pointing out that "professionals" can largely do whatever they want when they are at work. The don't clock in and out either.
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Apr 27, 2009 02:59PM)
LOL

Sadly, I don't rank a private office, so EVERYBODY sees what I do at work. Luckily, most of the time it is either during lunch (like now), after hours, or during incubations (I work in biotech, so I have a less than standard work schedule, which includes weekends, early mornings, and/or late nights).

I would also like to note that internet surfing at work does not fall into the "no one is watching" category because they see exactly what I do, for how long, each time I log into my computer.

But you skipped the real question:
Can I perform a magic square routine at work using a laboratory based theme?

Why, yes I can. Have I? Why, yes I have. Do I wish I could do it Slam Poetry style? Why, yes I do but I also know it would never work for me.