(Close Window)
Topic: Somewhat embarrassing question...
Message: Posted by: TeddyBoy (Apr 5, 2019 02:18PM)
I've avoided asking this, but after a couple of beers, what the heck! I'm having a bit of a motivational crisis so here goes- Do you folks actually like practicing tricks/effects?
Message: Posted by: kShepher (Apr 5, 2019 02:26PM)
Absolutely! It's the process of discovery, and hopefully the satisfaction of mastery. It's one of my most enjoyable pastimes. Have one for me...I am at work -)
Message: Posted by: Wravyn (Apr 5, 2019 02:32PM)
Sometimes yes, sometimes no.
Better have another beer for me too please.
Message: Posted by: TeddyBoy (Apr 5, 2019 02:40PM)
Yikes...I'm in trouble.
Message: Posted by: danaruns (Apr 5, 2019 06:40PM)
No. I don't. I do it because that's the only way to get good, but it's not the enjoyable part of it, for me. I'm all about the performance, the interaction with real people, and the high I get from getting great reactions. Most of my magic is collaborative with the audience, so rehearsing routines at home is very difficult because I can't get the rhythm without anyone to play off of, and my spouse tires of being my audience very quickly. I'd much rather be doing it in front of an audience than awkwardly staggering through it in my studio before a mirror or camera.

But rehearsing tricks and routines is different than practicing sleights and moves. Those I do all the time, just kind of fiddling around wherever I am.

So there's at least one person who feels like you do.
Message: Posted by: Dick Oslund (Apr 6, 2019 04:23PM)
Hey Teddy!

Someone asked Pablo Casals, world class celloist, "Why are you practicing at your age (90)? Pablo responded, "I think I'm getting better!"

I started practicing MAGIC in my teens, over 70 years ago. It paid off! I made my living with magic, and, I was never out of work! (almost 50 years!)

Just remember, You practice sleight so you can perform tricks. If you perform them well, with a good presentation that entertains people, you wil have created a magic effect in the minds of your spectator)s). spectator(s). You can't practice effect! The effect is what the aiduence perceives!!!

I never got interested in doing card tricks! I studied Erdnase as a 14 year old. I learned all of the flourishes, but realized there wouldn't me much future for a teen aged gambler!

I know or have known most of the world famous cardicians. One less with the passing of Johnny Thompson last month. I enjoy(ed) watching them work, but I don't do card tricks!

There are gezilions of card tricks that require only basic moves, or no moves at all. Work on good presentations!

Message: Posted by: Ravenspur (Apr 6, 2019 04:38PM)

I think I'm close to your age and stage of magical development, and I can say that I find it hard to practice as well. Part of the problem is, I don't have anything specific to practice for. Last night at our S.A.M. Assembly we were talking about the problems of performing for our wives and families. You can only do that so often. It's not that motivating.

It's important to practice, but it's nice to have a reason to do it. I'm thinking of doing a show for a few kids after school, just to get the practice at presentation, but also give myself a reason to practice.
Message: Posted by: Josh Riel (Apr 6, 2019 09:43PM)
I call it magicsturbating... I like performing magic, but I love magic.
I don't do it for money, so that might be the thing. Practicing magic (magicsturbating) for no reason besides my love of magic makes me happy.

And yeah, I like it a lot.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Apr 7, 2019 02:22AM)
Years go I quit practicing coin sleights because of arthritic hands. Not so much pain as fear of dropping coins unexpectedly to ruin a presentation.
Discussions with Mb and Tim Feher changed my mind. Forced practiced allowed me to find new moves and sleights that I could do with confidence.

So, I suggests the possibility that the more you reach automaticity from practice, the more your mind will be freed for greater things.
The benefits of rehearsal are different. Here you can have you initial awe&wonder of an effect rekindled by the reaction of others.
Message: Posted by: bdungey (Apr 8, 2019 07:54PM)
It's the creative process I enjoy. The 'work', if you will, of the different hobbies I'm involved in.
Message: Posted by: davidpaul$ (Apr 9, 2019 10:25PM)
I perform quite often weekly and get many repeat spectators, so I'm motivated to practice different effects. Like Josh Riel, I too just enjoy it and challenge myself even if it's just for me. It's nice though to have an audience like funsway mentions to experience the reactions.

If you went to the driving range to hit golf balls but never played the game, I'd guess intrest might fade. Then again, for some it might be just plain fun.

I fill lost without a deck of cards within reach no matter where I am.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Apr 10, 2019 04:06AM)
[quote]On Apr 9, 2019, davidpaul$ wrote:
If you went to the driving range to hit golf balls but never played the game, I'd guess interest might fade. Then again, for some it might be just plain fun.

One can delight from using balls fished out of the lake of other people's mistakes and hopes.
With discipline and confidence can come innovation and enhanced spacial awareness useful in many life pursuits.

Many sleights. moves and acquitments come from mistakes or overcoming some difficulty in a unique way.
New routines can be build around a special sleight or handling.

If one views practice as a creative experience rather than a chore magical things can happen. At least the TV is off, right?

I am beginning to think that the greatest value for getting young people into magic at any level is not that it is
"better than" other activities, but "other than" the alternatives. Practice is part of that just because there is no instant gratification and a plan is involved - and is done alone.
Message: Posted by: Nala Nosmoht (Apr 10, 2019 09:11AM)
I do enjoy it!

Message: Posted by: TeddyBoy (Apr 11, 2019 10:22AM)
I really appreciate the responses. Part of the problem is that my "ambition" is really not more than as a hobbyist, therefore I do not have incentives to perfect any tricks or routines as I do not perform. As Ravenspur pointed out, this can be problematic, especially if you superimpose on this scenario a layer of performance anxiety. Therefore, why should I do the Cannibal Cards 20 times in a row...I start to root for the missionaries. Maybe I am just meant to learn how things are done -learning the sleights which I find to be fun and interesting, kind of like Dana stated. Although part of me says "give it up" another part does not want to. If nothing else I have already sunk a couple of thousand bucks into books and DVDS, and some are real classics. I should at least give them a chance to draw me into the idea of performing. Also, I cannot rule out the effects of the age thing - I started this trip down the Royal Road when I entered my 60s. Maybe that's why it is said you cannot teach an old dog new tricks. Wow, it never made sense until now.

Thanks again. :stuckinbag:
Message: Posted by: FlightRisk (Apr 16, 2019 07:49PM)
Practice can be frustrating. More difficult sleights or remembering a complex sequence happens in "plateaus". You want to kick your practice table over and all of a sudden you get it. Then you get cocky and try some more and you aren't getting anywhere (you riding across a plateau) until the next jump in ability. But I find doing "fidget moves" while doing something else relaxing. I can watch TV or read while coin rolling, palming, card lifts, false shuffles... I feel I am never as good as I want to be, but then maybe I don't practice enough! ;)
Message: Posted by: TeddyBoy (Apr 17, 2019 07:24AM)
[quote]On Apr 16, 2019, FlightRisk wrote:
Practice can be frustrating. More difficult sleights or remembering a complex sequence happens in "plateaus". You want to kick your practice table over and all of a sudden you get it. Then you get cocky and try some more and you aren't getting anywhere (you riding across a plateau) until the next jump in ability. But I find doing "fidget moves" while doing something else relaxing. I can watch TV or read while coin rolling, palming, card lifts, false shuffles... I feel I am never as good as I want to be, but then maybe I don't practice enough! ;) [/quote]

Have you been speaking to my wife? :coolspot: Thank you for your thoughts, I feel now that I am not alone. My favorite "fidget move" is practicing my totally visible classic pass in the bathroom mirror where no one can see me. I am currently working through Card College Vol 3, which compared to volumes 1 and 2 is definitely a jump up to graduate school level-very interesting but also extremely challenging. It will probably take me more than one year to get through Vol 3 with a somewhat decent skill level, which in turn leaves me little time to practice (and develop) even a small repertoire of tricks to a level that I dare do to friends, co-workers, etc. I've muffed tricks in front of co-workers and felt like a fool for not being prepared. But the tension between moving ahead in Vol 3 and mastering some tricks/effects makes trying to learn this art incredibly frustrating as I am very eager to complete Card College and move into material I have accumulated by others such as Vernon, LePaul, Marlo, Jennings, Darwin Ortiz, Dingle, Bro. Hamman, Trost and of course, Harry Lorayne.
Message: Posted by: The Gold Coin (Apr 20, 2019 02:34PM)
I really enjoy learning a new routine, especially if there are new slights. Once I can do the routine all the way through, I usually do it another 20-50 times to iron out all the kinks before I actually perform it. That second part is when I definitely have days where I don't even want to look at my Okito box. I've tried getting around this by alternating which routine I'm practicing (e.g. do the coin box routine for a bit, then do the cups and balls for a bit), which seems to help a little bit.
Message: Posted by: magicianbrady (Apr 27, 2019 11:19AM)
I used to love practicing magic. Now I'm more of a mentalist so I mainly keep working on my script and choreography in front of my computer.
Message: Posted by: judeh (Apr 27, 2019 09:26PM)
Thanks for asking this! No! Not at all!

It's like exercising. Does it help? Sure. Does it mean it's enjoyable? Not at all.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Apr 28, 2019 12:43AM)
Hi TeddyBoy,

I think you and I are at about the same stage in life.

While I understand what Dana is saying (Hi Dana!), she's a professional, whereas you've said that you have no aspirations beyond being a hobbyist. That's the case for me too. I'm a professional mathematician, and I went into the field because I couldn't get enough of math -- I absolutely loved it! -- and still do. I soon discovered, though, that I had many duties as a professor that had nothing to do with my reasons for going into math. And that's okay -- I put up with the boring stuff because I know I'm getting paid in large part to do what I love.

Hobbies are another story, I think. I'd be lost without mine -- piano, magic, poetry-writing (and -publishing, which still feels unreal to me). And it's true that I have occasional frustrations in all of them. But -- and here's my point -- why do something as a hobby if you don't love doing it? I'd love to know Chinese, but I know I'd hate every minute of the actual learning process, so I plan not to learn Chinese! If magic is as frustrating as you say, why not give it up and find another hobby? I don't mean that in a dismissive way -- not at all -- I just think that the point of hobbies is to get absorbed in something that gives purpose to life, and that you like so much that you can't imagine giving it up.

One last thing -- you're talking about working on the Pass. That's a notoriously difficult sleight. if you enjoy working on it, go for it! But if not, there are plenty of much easier sleights that can be used in delightful and mystifying tricks.

Wishing you the best,

Message: Posted by: Bob G (Apr 28, 2019 12:55AM)
Oh! One more thing. Someone brought up the analogy of hitting golf balls on a driving range without ever playing a game. Well... if that's what someone likes, why shouldn't they do that? I love shooting baskets and hate playing basketball. Do I have a moral obligation to do something I hate? Of course not: I'll stick to basket-shooting, thank you very much. In the case of magic, I do want to perform, but I have anxiety about it as you do, TeddyBoy. With the help of some people on another thread, some of whom are also on this thread, I found a comfortable way to do a bit of performing. Ask me in July how it went. :)

Ah.... Pardon my vehement tone, folks. We Americans are too intent on working hard, too hard, I'd say, and it's only getting worse. Mind you, all of my hobbies involve hard work, so feel free to ignore me. I just hate to see people feeling guilty about things that should be fun, possibly because I experience that myself. But in theory, if not necessarily in practice, I'm with Spike Lee, who said that work has no value in itself; work is valuable only to the extent that it accomplishes something valuable.

I'd better go to bed now. Good night, all.
Message: Posted by: Magical Moments (Apr 28, 2019 08:55PM)
Depends on the trick. If I enjoy the handling of the props, then yes. Otherwise, not so much.

Some tricks require more practice than others so the level of difficulty can play a role.
Message: Posted by: funsway (Apr 29, 2019 05:38AM)
[quote]On Apr 28, 2019, Bob G wrote:
I'm with Spike Lee, who said that work has no value in itself; work is valuable only to the extent that it accomplishes something valuable.

Ah, but Thomas Merton noted, "Man has a natural communication with the earth. It is called work."

So, I guess it matters what one considers to be valuable. I might agree that Americans work hard if one considers collecting baubles to be of value,
but as a business consultant and contract recruiter, most Americans do not know how to work effectively or efficiently at all -
if they even show up at work on time.

So many things to practice in life: enunciation, accountability, kindness, integrity as examples.
Folks should have had those locked in before driving a car, but it is never too late.

Methinks performance magic has a unique way of allowing one to practice such things in a fun way -- theater, art and mirth,
regardless of the level of technical skill or comfortable audience engagement.

To even imagine a new effect in one's mind is a form of practice when compared to alternatives of mental sloth.
Yes, I support not performing publicly without a degree of mastery, but also know that any interpersonal communication
that inspires awe&wonder is a good activity. Exposure destroys the magic, so at least practice enough to avoid fumbled misery.

With my degree of hand disabilities a couple of ours each day squeezing a rubber ball is good practice.
Who knows, I may someday be able to perform multiplying golf balls again.


But I do agree that many Americans do not balance work periods and relaxation well, if that is what you mean by "too hard."
Somehow, "entertain me" is in opposition to work rather than a complimentary activity, with "hobby" viewed as another form of work.

Practicing magic is real. Performing for another live is a real experience. Learning from either experience can be valuable.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (Apr 29, 2019 02:26PM)
Then again, Ken, remember the words above the gate to the Auschwitz concentration camp: "Work will set you free." Not only do we have to decide what is valuable, but also what we mean by "work." (For one take on that, see Philip Levine's poetry collection, What Work Is. Levine was a factory worker before he became known as a poet and got a job teaching poetry)

In an ideal world people would have jobs that they found fulfilling. (Perhaps out of date, but look at Studs Terkel's book, Working, a collection of interviews with people about their jobs. I came away from the book with the depressing feeling that most people are decidedly unfulfilled in their jobs.)

Lots more thoughts are bubbling up, but I think I've opened a can of worms. If you want to continue privately, feel free to PM or email me.

One last thought: computers, the internet, and "smart" phones together make it possible for us to do things that we would never have thought to do before. There are many advantages to that, but also many drawbacks. Among the latter: We're working harder than ever before (or so it seems to me). Not just in our paid work. It seems to me that we're serving computers, whereas they should be serving us.

Sounds like your arthritis is getting worse. I'm sorry to hear that. I hope you're able to surmount that obstacle, by squeezing a rubber ball, etc.

See you,

Message: Posted by: Bob G (Apr 29, 2019 10:34PM)
My purpose in quoting the chilling words at Auschwitz was to make the point that work needn't be rewarding (to say the least). It depends on many things, including one's working conditions. I could have made that point without going to such an extreme example. My apologies to anyone who found it jarring. The string of recent hateful events has kept such examples at the front of my mind.

Back to the business of the thread: Ted, I hope you feel that people have satisfactorily addressed your concern.

Message: Posted by: TeddyBoy (May 7, 2019 02:34PM)
I have just returned and have found the responses most thought-provoking. Bob, you are a lucky guy to be able to love something, let alone several things, AND, have the energy to pursue them. How I wish I was more like that but for some reason...and I'll admit it...I'm kind of lazy and have poor concentration. I was diagnosed with a borderline attention deficit problem in my mid forties when I was going back to law school.

However, I still think the age issue is quite real. It seems like such an uphill climb when I read the depth of knowledge that people here have about magic. Of course, many of the members here had started when they were in their second trimester. For example, have you ever done or seen Ed Marlo's "quadruple inverted palm"? Yes, but I much prefer Morty Bronstein's original version published between the wars in the French Magic Journal. Yes, it is good, but, in fact he really took it from Mycroft Dillinger when he performed it at the Star Delicatessen at Cranky Oldguy's birthday in 1926....etc, etc. For heaven's sake, I'm still in Card College.

I am only now acknowledging to myself that I can only learn so much of this art given my age. So I might as well stop kvetching and get on with it. But, I still say, if you actually enjoy doing the same trick 20 times in a row, you are not rowing with both oars! :rotf:
Message: Posted by: Bob G (May 7, 2019 04:48PM)
Ha, that's funny, Teddy. I guess I *am* lucky. It's good to be reminded of that, because I, like probably everybody else in the world, have plenty of things I can legitimately complain about.

Am I remembering right that you were a college teacher, as I am? If so, then we can just as easily say that anyone who actually enjoys giving teaching the same course year after year is also rowing with x oars, where here x is less than 2. (Math Prof -- sorry.)

I know what you mean about Mycroft and Cranky :) . The way I see it is this: how many beginning students want to know the history of their subject? In math, at least, my friends and I just wanted to get on with it! Much more recently, as I near retirement, I've found myself wanting the broader perspective that comes from knowing the history. (Mind you, we like to give credit where it's due, but historians of math often prove us wrong. I've often suspected that if a mathematical method has someone's name attached to it, that's nearly rock-solid proof that they didn't invent it.)

I don't think anyone ever leaves Card College, not even Roberto Giobbi. (On a recent DVD he talked about a false cut he taught in Vol. 1, and explained why it wasn't so good after all; here's a better way.) The book is just too big, too rich, ever to leave.

I understand what you're saying -- magic is *work* -- no doubt about it. Well, we all have our own stories. Personally, I have long-delayed interests that are welling up now, to the point where sometimes it's almost unbearable to do my *real* job. But hopefully that's the great thing about retirement, isn't it? As long as you stay healthy, you can do what you truly want to do. And if what you want to do is go to the beach, read, nap, play with grandchildren, hike, or whatever it might be, I hereby give you permission to do it! (Big of me, no?)

Best of luck,

Message: Posted by: funsway (May 8, 2019 12:19PM)
Shifting to allegory ...
I have this farmer friend down the road named Ferkie. He is stoved-up from a tractor accident and I’ve been teaching him a bit of magic – a new hobby.

I gave him a copy of Amateur Handbook and now he has an inkling of Mentalism. Ho-boy!

Well, yesterday he chatted about a problem with his brother-in-law. Seems Andy wants to grow a garden rather than continuously poaching from Ferkie, saying “That way I can get the vegetables I want.” Ferkie’s problem is that he now doesn’t know what Andy likes after years of seeing all kinds of vegetables go over the hill.

Ferkie says to me, “He should start off with what is easy to grow but will argue with anything I suggest. He won’t out and tell me what he wants either.” I was hoping he didn’t want to get me involved in some scheme to find the truth of it. Nope, Ferkie had another plan.

“I’ve been thinking on this “one ahead” approach. He likes Liily’s cooking and she is always taking some new dish over to Andy’s house. So, I’ll have her cook up something with celery in it and tell him it is spinach. The, depending on his appreciation of the dish or not, we will fix one with spinach and tell him it is turnip greens. Then we can use that in a dish and tell him it is Swiss chard.”

I don’t say anything.

“Long about Spring I should know what he likes and doesn’t without his ever having to fess up. If I wanted to be real sneaky I can switch seeds in the packages.”

I have doubts about this working. Andy isn’t that gullible is he?

Then again, maybe he wants Ferkie to know and will play along, even subconsciously.

He expects Ferkie to help him plant the right things, and expectations are essential to mentalism, right? Pine apples are berries and garbonzo beans are peas. Andy thinks Monday is the first day of the week.

Magic everywhere.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (May 8, 2019 01:31PM)
You lost me there, Ken... Care to clarify?

See you,

Message: Posted by: funsway (May 8, 2019 02:30PM)
The OP is about whether people practice, enjoy it, etc within the framework of performing magic.
This got expanded a bit into perceptions of work, and work vs enjoyment or entertainment.

I wished to introduce the notion that everything you do in life can be practice for kindling awe&wonder in another person.
You are in "work mode" when you analyze experiences as to how to improve your future interactions including performances.
But, one can shift to "entertainment mode" by simply enjoying amusing events and possible appraising them later, if at all.

With Ferkie I got to practice restraint, be amused and then later evaluate what my audience perceives of tricks, inexplicable events and hidden agenda.

At least, when I now decide whether to present an effect as conjuring, mentalism or mental magic, I can focus my physical practice on what the audience will perceive.

Practice before a mirror will always be 'work' if not matched with real-life audience engagement. That engagement makes the process fun.

The live performing experience is also practice in a way for dealing with tomorrow's real-life problem with a neighbor.
Message: Posted by: Bob G (May 8, 2019 03:58PM)
Thanks, Ken. I see what you're saying now. That sounds like a healthy attitude toward work. I agree with you that in our society we tend to think of "work" as the stuff that's "no fun" or that we don't really want to have to do. I choose not to analyze :) the factors that underly that phenomenon.

Years ago I read a really interesting book (title and author are long gone from my memory) that defined "play" (for all animals, not just humans) as the activities that animals engaged in, and which used their signature abilities, when they had time left over from the necessities of survival (eating, sleeping, reproducing, etc.). By this definition, solving crossword puzzles, playing ping pong, heck, even whitewashing a fence can be play because they use the same abilities that we need in order to survive (hand-eye coordination, analysis of complicated situations, negotiating our relationships with others...) but aren't necessary for our survival. I always liked that definition; not sure if it fits with your thoughts about work.

I just thought, said Pooh humbly.
Message: Posted by: funsway (May 9, 2019 01:29AM)
Maybe "endeavor" would be better than "work" that is considered a four letter word.

We say things like, "Working towards a goal," that has the right flavor.

I am reminded of the many "games" played by Native American children considered a gambling or silly or even 'fortune telling' by European invaders.
These appear simple with stones, sticks and guessing the outcomes of tosses or hidden hands. (Like some magic/mental effects)
Yet, these kids had excellent math skills and could tell when a white man was lying -- and were very observant of small changes in their surroundings.
They played physical games to develop strength and agility - and mental games to train other skills. They worked several hours each day to practice these skills.

Our more intelligent selves sit a kid at a desk and make learning a dreary task. Young kids never get any chance to learn functionally.

I have always thought of performance magic as a way of making learning fun - to make painful thinking less threatening.
Not that I am truing to teach anything - just open minds to "the other right answer" or that life is not a true false exam.

I laugh a lot and whistle and find awe in many things. I would not call living these days "fun" - but joy comes from within, even when doing unpleasant or painful task.

Thanks for the comments and questions. I am going to review some of my writing as to the use of the word "work."

Methinks."appreciation" can be practiced too. Magic is part of that. I find great pleasure is seeing a strange object and asking, "What magic effect could I use that for?"
or "What sleight or acquitment could make that trick more powerful magic for the observer?" There is not a day where I do not practice my magic skills.
Message: Posted by: TeddyBoy (May 9, 2019 08:17AM)
As the OP, I fiercely object to not knowing what anyone is talking about! :stuckinbag:
Message: Posted by: Deckstacker (May 9, 2019 11:08AM)
Being something of a "retread" magician after beginning as a youngster, subsequently shelving the cards & cups and coins for several decades, and then trying to pick them up again in my senior years, I find that the perspective of advanced age has given me the insight to capitalize on my natural talents while avoiding battles that I can likely never win. I could never do a decent Charlier pass when I was a teen and my fingers were at their most nimble, so I conclude that difficult card sleights would probably be a frustrating avenue for me to explore today. Instead I am now seeking to build upon my language skills (I was a textbook editor for many years) and a lifelong love of puzzles of all types and am looking hard at some branches of Mentalism as areas to focus on. Bottom line: Follow your natural talents and inclinations and watch your enthusiasm grow until practicing ceases to be work turns into play. --Just my 2 cents' worth.
Message: Posted by: TeddyBoy (May 9, 2019 12:49PM)
That's worth far more than two cents. Maybe I just lack the natural talent or the patience to develop whatever I do have.
Message: Posted by: Deckstacker (May 9, 2019 01:56PM)
TeddyBoy: You say, "Maybe I just lack the natural talent or the patience to develop whatever I do have."

Do you have a good memory? Do people constantly praise you for being witty? Can you frequently guess what someone is going to say before he/she says it? Are you brimming with self-confidence? Do you interact well with kids? Do others find you naturally likeable? -- Any of the aforementioned gifts/talents would make you the envy of others in the magic arena who have had to work long and hard to develop them. Take a personal inventory of your strengths and weaknesses, perhaps seeking input from those who know you best. Then look for ways to build on your natural abilities and watch your need for 'patience' melt away and be replaced by a lack of time to polish those tricks you love to do!
Message: Posted by: Bob G (May 9, 2019 02:54PM)
Hi Ted,

Just to echo Deckstacker, I find some of your posts quite funny. A sense of humor is something to prize, and if you want it to, it might lead to something else. Here's another thought along similar lines that might help (or might not -- what do I know?): before you retired what kinds of things did you enjoy doing when you had a chance? Maybe the answer will help direct you toward activities that you'll truly enjoy in retirement.

Deckstacker, I like your emphasis on talents that often aren't recognized as such. An inclination to be kind to people is another one.

And Ted, sorry to hijack your thread! Ken, you thanked me so I'll say "you're welcome," and perhaps we can continue our conversation about work and play privately.