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tkahng
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Well, here is the second thread I start.

I'm starting this thread because I am having some trouble coming up with my own stuff. and I would like to know how you guys approach the design of your routines, what you have in mind before you do, and where you get your inspiration from.

Many of the members here at the Café are renowned professionals. Some are semi-pros, and some, are amateurs, like me, who probably get a gig once ever two weeks for squat.

I hope it is safe to assume that the semi pros and amateurs here have a different profession, or are preparing to go pro on something different. In my case, I am an architecture student.

Before all you folks go off about how architecture might have nothing to do with mentalism or magic, let me tell you there are so many similarities.

1. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts. I do not need crazy props to create a compelling demonstration. I might be able to pull off something better with pieces of paper and an envelope than with a $300 book test. (Although I own that particular BT).

2. Our clients determine what we do. In both fields, the final product of our design in client specific. We simply do not bring out skulls and Ouija boards at a party.

3. Presentation is everything. No matter how good anything is in any field, if you can't sell it, you don't get paid for it.

4. A good architectural design may have intricate layering and stacking of programs, just like a good mentalism routine.

And the list goes on.

Since I made this connection with the field of architecture to solve some design problems of my performances, I thought maybe I should look for other places for more info/ideas/inspiration. and here's what I did.

I attend the Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, a university pretty famous for robotics. I really wanted to purchase the duel from Outlaw, but could not afford it. So I visited our robotics center when I visited for a bit (I'm currently taking a break from school) and guess what? Got what I needed. Looks quite shady, but managed to modify a 1898 Barber half shell into a duel-like prop!!! (Although the receiver doesn't work anymore, and it could not tell heads or tails :S ).

I wanted the Luna key box. Could not afford it. Went to our wood-shop at the architecture firm and and built one, and aged it. Also using leftovers from the stuff I took from the robotics center and a few PK rings, I made it into a Haunted Luna Key Box, sort of...

I have had some fun looking for inspiration and solutions from other forms of arts and fields. I guess it is the advantage of having access to so many assets and information, such as being an architecture student.

So... I know Looch was a design student.

Some of you might be doctors.

Some businessmen.

Some psychology students,

and so forth.

I would like to hear your story. Where do you get your inspiration? How does your other passion affect your performance? What are your assets?

Share your story.

Tchunoo
Simon (Ted) Edwards
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I wouldn't spent time making someone else's props. It's much more fun (and ethical) to make your own effects.
IMHO.
T.
tkahng
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Tru that. But again imitation is the greatest form of flattery.
ROBERT BLAKE
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You say that you have something to do with the field of architecture.

why not make postcards of famous buildings or famous bridges. you can do memory / prediction / telepathy with all those cards. create your own show mentalism with buildings / bridges / landmarks etc.
Simon (Ted) Edwards
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Quote:
On 2010-12-07 10:45, tkahng wrote:
imitation is the greatest form of flattery

Not very creative, though, is it?
Frank Douglas
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It's not about flattery... it's about becoming who YOU are as a Mentalist.

To use your architectural analogy... There is only one Frank LLoyd Wright.. and only one "Fallingwater". As an architect, when someone sees a building you design, you want them to think of you... not think, "That looks like one of Wright's designs".

YOU should be remembered for what YOU did... they should not be thinking later, "He did that thing that that Darren What's His Name did on TV".

There is a big difference between inspiration and imitation.


JM2CW

Cheers
Frank
Rebecca_Harris
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As people have already said, it's so important to be yourself. A little while back I started to notice I wasn't getting the reactions to my routines that I used to get and that my enthusiasm for those routines wasn't what it used to be. I couldn't work out why until it dawned on me that instead of performing effects that were me, I was performing what I thought other people wanted to see. So I took a look at what I was doing and started putting me back into it again, as soon as I did that, the enthusiasm was back and so were the audience reactions. Be you, don't copy someone else. Always try to put your own twist onto anything that you perform.

When I try to think up a new routine, the first thing I'll do is to come up with a story or background to what I'm trying to do. I personally love the idea of murder mysteries as a mental plot so I'll think up an idea around that plot before I even start to think about effects and methods. When I know where I'm trying to go and what I want to do, that's when I'll start to fit the effects into the routine.
WDavis
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Even before any of the great analogies and advice given. here is your first step needed.

every architecture firm have a mission statement. every mentalist should also have one. every profitable business has a business plan (which includes marketing research SWOT analysis etc) every mentalist should as well.

not only will these guide you in your development of your character and routining it will also show you what effects/routines will work for you.
if you need defining your character buy Mr Cassidy's fundamentals, dale carnegies howto win friends and influence people, and ken webers maximum entertainment. I will also send you a workbook to go through and help you develop these. it is the first pillar of my 4 pillar series.
~Walter

p.s. ripping of a routine/effect because you cant afford it is like a hungry man stealing bread from the grocery store. in the end it doesn't matter why he stole the bread (he was hungry/doesnt have the money for it) what matters is he did
Tom Jorgenson
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Now that you've been carped out for daring to build your own props...and improving on existing ideas...let me say, good for you! We ALL imitate until we can stand on our own feet. That's why we buy books and effects, to imitate the idea of the creators. And improving on the existing is a necessity in our field.

But to get to the answers to your questions...

My assets? I think it's now experience and Age. I can do things I could not get away with 20 years ago. I can be characters that would not have played then. And, thru experience, I now know how to play them. Even better, I can have a choice of characters to play. I'm also old enough to (mostly) understand what other creators and thinkers are talking about.

My other passion is art...or, rather, Art. I am, at the core, an artist first, and everything I do falls under that umbrella. About the only thing that means in magic is my insistence in doing the instructions artistically and interestingly...and being an artist means that I generally do not have the tight perimeters that seem to sometimes constrict others. To me, a book does not necessarily have to be a series of pages, for instance. I also design, build, paint my own stages and attractions.

My inspiration comes from either my needs or from stumbling across the obvious and being awake enough to recognize the applications. Other inspirations seem to be more fundamental: Working for Norm Nielsen taught me the value of 'excellence as a minimum requirement'. Nothing crappy, ever.

Working the streets of Magic Mountain taught me to choose bold and visual effects, how to get and build a crowd, and stamina. Working fairs taught me to endure thru rainstorms, wind, tornadoes, mud, cold, heat, and horses kicking the walls of your tent, bad schedules, good schedules, *#@holes and sweet people. Fairs also gave me a freedom in my life that would have been unmatched by almost any other profession or venue: 5 months a year with the freedom to do other stuff.

Working strolling during banquets taught me to never work strolling during banquets...(you ever try to do a card trick while some old broad is gumming her greenbeans????? It's hell.)

The most inspirations come from people who are, intrinsically, themselves. But who YOU are usually takes years to unveil, reveal, discover. In this case, the journey itself is as much fun, and is as necessary as the journey's end. And keep this in mind: The fun REALLY starts after you are 50. The first 50 years are only you doing your pushups. Getting strong enough to relax.
We dance an invisible dance to music they cannot hear.
Simon (Ted) Edwards
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Quote:
On 2010-12-07 13:17, Tom Jorgenson wrote:
Now that you've been carped out for daring to build your own props...and improving on existing ideas...let me say, good for you!


Tom, with respect it's not quite as simple as that. If someone wants to improve or adapt an effect they've bought then I agree - more power to you. In this case the OP did not pay for the effects first.

T.
Roth
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Guys I want to clarify that tkahng is a long time Outlaw customer. He ownes (and paid for) the Luna books, and many other outlaw products.

If he thought he could make a keybox (for all intensive purposes an accessory to the Luna books) for his personal use I have no problem with that.

As long as someone is not making and selling them Smile

I don't think there are to many people that can produce a keybox that looks like the one we sell, but I grew up making my own version of Circle/Square and many other tricks for my magic shows when I was 10-12 years old Smile

If someone wants to try their hand at making something for their own personal use (we've all done it) I have no issue with that.
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Tom Jorgenson
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Thanks, Roth. It's how so many of us did...there wasn't an oatmeal box within reach that was safe when I was making my own tricks as a kid.

Back to the post:

I think it is in the building, thinking and pondering that allows us, sometimes, to be the most creative. It seems to be a way the brain can work best, when in the midst of concentration and creativity. Those ideas pop into consciousness. Right brain meditation focus. Or something.

If I wanted to build, say, a Blade Box, I would not buy one first.

I want to build a Sefalaljia cabinet, with a totally different look to it...need I buy a $400 one first? I should, perhaps, but I won't. I'll revamp the presentation and effects so I'm not copping anything proprietary and go for it. It might end up better, maybe not. So it goes, but the creativity may well add something to the field.

Sometimes imitation IS a part of the path. Sometimes you build others' work to add your own idea to learn from both the successes and the failures. To me, failures had the edge on speed of learning. The successes were more like stepping stones. The temptation is to stop thinking at the point of success. We forget there may be more.

BTW, I'm not saying that stealing someone's whole idea/presentation/method is good, or even fits into the above situations. But sometimes we can come up with great new stuff if we re-think or re-build what is already out there. It's all part of the process. However, it is the Failure that settles for a continuing imitation. The successful plow thru imitation to learn, improve and get on with it. That includes your 7th Square Circle design or making that little wire thingy that holds your wowzer silk-to-rose setup. Or building a Haunted Key-box.
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WDavis
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Quote:
On 2010-12-07 16:26, Tom Jorgenson wrote:

I think it is in the building, thinking and pondering that allows us, sometimes, to be the most creative. It seems to be a way the brain can work best, when in the midst of concentration and creativity. Those ideas pop into consciousness. Right brain meditation focus. Or something.

If I wanted to build, say, a Blade Box, I would not buy one first.

I want to build a Sefalaljia cabinet, with a totally different look to it...need I buy a $400 one first? I should, perhaps, but I won't. I'll revamp the presentation and effects so I'm not copping anything proprietary and go for it. It might end up better, maybe not. So it goes, but the creativity may well add something to the field.

Sometimes imitation IS a part of the path. Sometimes you build others' work to add your own idea to learn from both the successes and the failures. To me, failures had the edge on speed of learning. The successes were more like stepping stones. The temptation is to stop thinking at the point of success. We forget there may be more.

BTW, I'm not saying that stealing someone's whole idea/presentation/method is good, or even fits into the above situations. But sometimes we can come up with great new stuff if we re-think or re-build what is already out there. It's all part of the process. However, it is the Failure that settles for a continuing imitation. The successful plow thru imitation to learn, improve and get on with it. That includes your 7th Square Circle design or making that little wire thingy that holds your wowzer silk-to-rose setup. Or building a Haunted Key-box.


I agree with you here Tom 100%, but where did they get the knowledge to imitate. They have to pay to play and that is my point.

In your scenerio of the box. If you bought the plans/books/knowledge to make it then you are in the right to do so. but if you don't have that information and decide you want that item and go and try to backwards engineering it without owning it or the knowledge that is theft. SONY TOSHIBA ETC buy the latest technology of their competition to learn from it, but even they pay to play. what makes a magician any different?

Now back to the topic at hand...

Walter
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I remember making a Pepper's Ghost as a kid with a juicebox, glass from a picture, and a pocket light. I was psyched. Little did I know.... Smile

When it comes to designing an effect, most of the time I end up sitting around thinking and chance upon an interesting principle or idea and think of a way to apply it to mentalism, and then make it work. A less clean, but more novel approach is when I decide that I have a plot idea and that I AM going to do this, then I just sit down and run through methods I use regularly and methods I don't use so often to come up with a way to connect them, and invent something specific if necessary. It's a bit more difficult, because most things I work with involve just words, it's that much more rewarding and useful.
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Tom Jorgenson
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Walter: All very true. Really. You are correct. But that is not real life. I don't know of anyone who bought at retail ALL those books, bought at retail ALL those effects that reside in their brains and libraries.

This type of thing is simply not a hard-and-fast-rule subject, or there'd be hard and fast rules that apply to all aspects and examples. The closer you examine Ethics, the fuzzier its perimeter, and the more exemptions to the rule. I think this is why each individual needs to draw their own line. Kind of like striking a line across a Sine curve. Easy to determine the ethics/rules at the far right and far left...those people are nuts and mostly rabid. It's the drawing of the line near the middle that confuses others who've drawn their line somewhere close. You would search out the original inventors and send them money to use their ideas (Even if from 30 years ago). I would not. I would try to improve their ideas thru my imitations...and I would be very proud to have someone take one of my ideas and run into new territory with it...as long as they added their own thinking. Not if they imitated it to sell it, tho.

In my example, above, about the Blade Box. How could I possibly find out how/where/when that knowledge came to me? I can sketch plans on a napkin you could build from, but have no idea where and when I learned it. Maybe manuscripts, maybe descriptons, might have seen it when I was 8. Who would I pay?

I can think of a dozen premises for a Sef. Cabinet. that could use any given number of effects that were linked to the cabinet only via Mitox...Who to pay? Stuart is dead, and I'll not be sending any money to Busby for awhile yet. When is it mine, and how soon can YOU cop the idea and build on it?

See? Too many variables to have any definite answers. 'Don't steal' seems to be a good base to start from. After that, it's definitions and conditions and personal ethics. We SHOULD pay to play. But who when and how is not always clear.
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Simon (Ted) Edwards
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Quote:
On 2010-12-07 14:46, Roth wrote:
Guys I want to clarify that tkahng is a long time Outlaw customer. He ownes (and paid for) the Luna books, and many other outlaw products.

If he thought he could make a keybox (for all intensive purposes an accessory to the Luna books) for his personal use I have no problem with that.


Fair enough. Apologies for misunderstanding. I thought that the following meant that he did not own those products, at least at the time of making his versions:

Quote:
I really wanted to purchase the duel from outlaw, but could not afford it. So I visited our robotics center when I visited for a bit... and guess what. got what I needed...

I wanted the luna key box. could not afford it. went to our woodshop at the architecture firm and and built one, and aged it...
WDavis
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Tom,

I agree with you again on this statement it is hard to have a hard-fast-rule on the matter, but what does matter is that the boundary is set up. I cannot say what the boundary is for others only myself and my perception of reality is quite different than most. People in general prefer polarities like you said earlier(it is easy for them and humanity by nature is lazy), I don't believe that duality exists. I believe that they(dualities) are both extreme alternate manifistations of the same. People want to say male/female good action/bad action well in the end the answer is we are just humans and they are just actions. Extreme thought is a failed thought. lets take good and evil. order/chaos. well if we were to take a classical concept of good we would say that it is in order or structured. when things are a mess they are evil/wrong/etc and that is chaos. well if things are only ordered then they become stagnant and stagnation will turn in upon itself and cause entropy.(the hero without a villain must create one or will turn in upon himself) chaos/mess without order or structure will never create or last. we need both we are the composition of both and it is this duality of extremes this sliding scale of existence that we are one.
but we must decide what is the fulcrum of our existance and as such strive to be there. This is my belief at least. and hard to do.

If no boundary or limit is set than why would a creator even bother creating and offering to a community. Under actual logic the "golden rule" is flawed-do unto others as you would have them do unto you. well if you believe that they will rob you or cause you harm, now you have justified your action in doing so to them.

it seems we both have well defined concepts that could go for a long time in discussion beyond this thread. and I believe we are both in accord. Smile

my best,
Walter
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Yup. Here's to down the road and sharing a bottle of red.
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DekEl
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@isodore, I think the golden rule reads "Do unto others as you would HAVE others do unto you", not "Do unto others as others DO unto you", or "Do unto others as YOU THINK OTHERS WILL DO unto you."

Thus the golden rule is still applicable in modern society to the letter. It's not saying let's conform to society, but to treat all in the way that we would like to be treated. Whether or not we always remember to do this, and I say this from a personal standpoint, is another issue altogether.
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WDavis
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Dek,
I agree with you that it is applicable today in modern society and there is even recent studies involving this concept and investigations in neuroethics.

one of the major criticisms of the ethics of reciprocity, golden rule. that people don't take into account another person's tastes or situation. that was the main point I was trying to make. for example, the classic argument by Kant is a prisoner claims he is being falsely imprisoned tells the judge this and thus the judge has to think well I wouldn't want to be falsely imprisoned so I should therefore let him go.

wow this thread went down an interesting path.
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