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scott b.
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Quote:
On 2004-12-29 11:45, Bennettjc wrote:
Scott B:
True but I'm curious if he's ever been really harsh with a real big name, perhaps outside of mentalism. Has he ever really blasted an Ammar for example. I will definately be checking the few back issues I have.


Bennetjc,

I cannot confirm whether or not he has went that far, but it would be something nice to know Smile.
Thanks! Scott B.

"I don't know the key to success . . . but the key to failure is trying to please everybody." - Bill Cosby
templemagic
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I always read MAGIC magazine but I rarely read the review section. Which issue of Magic was the Spellmann review in?

Thanks,
TM
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The Reverend
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The first post in this thread says:
"I haven't read Close's review in its entirety but he basically says the DVDs are not worthwhile"

I'm suprised at the reaction to comments on a review that was not read "in it's entirety" and states that the reviewer basically says the DVD's are not "worthwhile".

It may be stating the obvious, however, Michael Close is a professional magician who is paid by Magic magazine to review specific products. His likes and requirements could be miles away from the likes and requirements of the person who "may" be interested in purchasing Marc's DVD set.
It is Michaels opinion only, whether it is "harsh" or "favourable".

Years ago, I remember reading a harsh review (I think it was in NME) about David Bowies album Ziggy Stardust - it didn't stop me buying it and it still remains one of my favourites and most influential albums.

Cheers, Stephen
Bennettjc
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StevieB:

You are correct. I should have read it completely before posting. Alas I have read it completely and he makes a compelling case, with particulars, supporting his opinion.

Everything you say about professional critics is true. But, for me, I have enjoyed the things Close enjoyed. Hence I give some weight to his likes and dislikes when making purchasing decisions.

Bennett
John LeBlanc
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Quote:
On 2004-12-29 08:43, Bennettjc wrote:
Has Close ever given a really harsh review to a product by a well-known active performer? If my recall is correct he once was really critical of a Karrell Fox vid but Fox had passed away by the time the review was written.


I consider a "harsh review" and a "critical review" to be two different things. Harsh is a matter of opinion; critical is mostly a matter of fact.

May 1995 was the first issue of MAGIC Magazine in which Michael Close was brought on board (with Mac King) to handle the review column on a regular basis. If memory serves, Mac King bowed out within a year or so.

It was in this, his first column, where and when he accurately described Karrell's new book. It wasn't harsh by any definition I know, but it was accurate. He and Karrell were friends but Karrell didn't take the review well. Close describes it as "the first casualty of my life as a reviewer." A shame, really.

By the way, it was one month later that Michael reviewed Ammar's "Easy to Master Money Miracles" -- he was complimentary of the tapes to the point of noting that David Roth's new videos (reviewed in the same column) would better appeal to beginners, and Ammar's would appeal better to those with some experience in coin work.

Regarding the entire reviewer thing, T.A. Waters once explained it in a way that's stayed with me for many, many years. You can find most any consistent reviewer's opinions of value if you first take the time to calibrate his opinions with your own. Then you can gauge if and when and by how much you can take a particular reviewer's opinion on something.

I've rarely found my opinion and Close's all that far apart.

John LeBlanc
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"One thought fills immensity." -- William Blake
mystic1
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Ironic to hear that one of the most expensive DVD sets has been panned.

Curious what Marc Spelmann has to say about the review and the comments posted in this thread. I thought I had seen his posts on the Café until this review began being discussed intensively.
Jon Beetham
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Marc put his opinions across in another topic 'Reactions to the Spelman DVDs' in The Good The Bad & The Garbage.

It would seem as though from his last posting he has left the Café about a month ago after some pretty patronising posts about him and the set?... Only my take on the situation?..

Jon
oxygen
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I understood he left the Café like Luke Jermay did.

Talking without any respect (like some members here did) to someone like Marc who is really sincere and willing to share and help, is really sad and the way it seems to end is also really sad.
joeyjojo
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Mike Close was not negative of all of Jermay's material - he liked the dvd but not Building Blocks. He is frequently critical of Ammar-type magicians, including Ammar himself (and his recent ETMCM 7-9). The reason Close's review is particularly worthwhile is that unlike Becker, Banachek, Osterlind and the rest of them, Close does not move in 'mentalist' circles (as he is a magician) and is more likely to be brutally honest in his opinions of a mentalist's work. The well known mentalists mentioned above run the risk of having their own products (from which they make an awful lot of money) slated should they be overly critical of someone else. So there's this generic back-patting.
But Mike Close is not impervious to these things when it comes to magic - he is incapable of criticising a list of performers and their products, especially when Bob Kohler's financial interests are at stake. But most people know this and interpret his reviews accordingly.

You're all convinced that Spelmann (and Jermay) have left the Café, but I can assure you that Marc has seen this thread.
Tom Lauten
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I don't really know what could be added to this thread that could really be all that constructive. I think I am correct in stating that Marc (as with MANY other working performers) is pretty busy this time of year with various gigs leading up to New Year's Eve and beyond. If he is not on the forum, it is as likely for this reason as any other. He has always been open, approachable and very friendly here despite some of the rough ride he has been given by some people.

I do know that people are often "run through the wringer" on themagiccafe as in many other forums...often rudely and on a personal basis. It would not come as a surprise if some people who release products with genuine good intentions decide the "verbal" they get is not worth it. I'm not saying this has happened to Marc on this or any other occasion, but for those who do stand up to these often aggressive attacks, it must take a great deal of personal strength to "take it on the chin" so very often. It says a lot for their professionalism. No inventor or performer becomes rich on the basis of a single product (certainly not on any regular basis!), it just doesn't happen that way despite what marketing and word of mouth may make it seem like. They are often treated as if they have to "pay that price" if they want to "live the high life". It just isn't like that. Like all of us performers and inventors must earn a living and work hard to do so...that comes with both ups and downs, better times and worse times. That isn't to say they deserve to be treated with suspicion, aggression or a lack of respect because they try. Most of these people put in genuine effort, only to be faced with what often seems to be a 'witch hunt' or face some peoples irrational desire to "take them down a peg" after some degree of notoriety.

Critisism of a given body of work is to be expected...fair enough. Personal taste, cultural differences, expectations, and reasons for watching a performance DVD or video must be taken into account. I think we all know and accept this.

Personally I like Marcs DVDs. He is not me, I am not him. There are things in his performances I would not, could not and don't feel like doing. There are lessons for me to learn in there though...many of them. I take what I want and leave the rest.

Like with so many DVDs his is like an encyclopedia of works, ideas, presentation techniques, mixtures of methods and misdirections etc. Personally I hate DVDs with hooting audience members who become overexcited because the attention is on them, ones who shout "Oh MY GOD! That's amazing! That's wild man! Woo HOO HOO HOO!" like they were in an infomercial...but that's just me. The content and the work in many of these types of products is still worth knowing about.

Critisism is fine and I'm sure any working performer can take it if it is fair and without malice. But do remember, inventors, performers etc. are all Humans like the rest of us... NONE OF US deserve to be abused, prodded and generally picked on just because one has stuck their heads up a bit and contributed. That kind of treatment simply isn't fair...it is ugly and cheap behaviour.

I'll get off my soap box now....sorry for the rant.
Living at and loving Loch Ness!
joeyjojo
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Tom Lauten,

You seem passionate in your defense of Marc, so your 'rant' deserves a response.

Different people have different standards as to what they expect from a product. I've seen negative reviews of most of the Alakazam products that you've highly recommended - in none of these cases do I really think the negative review was malicious in intent, while I'm certain that you stand by your positive review. It's just a matter of taste. I know that you understand this; I also believe that Mr. Spelmann does too.

A number of members of the Café registered their displeasure with aspects of this DVD set. I don't believe these people to be evil or that there is a sustained and regular trial-by-fire aimed by them at those who release products. The problem is that dealers (in this case, Alakazam - again) hype something up so enthusiastically that those who DIDN'T like the product feel that they have something 'new' to add (those who love it aren't really contributing anything to the debate by echoing the hype). The issue isn't simply about a magic-catalog describing their wares with high praise; it's the months of pre-order discussion that is generated and encouraged by the dealer that means that the product is born into an environment of glowing reviews, to which those who were disappointed (for whatever reason) feel they have to react.

It is important for you and Marc to realise that a critical review of a product is not a critical review of the person who released it (although occasionally the boundaries are crossed). But take the Iraq war: Bush and Blair released this 'product'. It received bad reviews. Did people say "we dislike the idea of war but do not mean to criticise those who have sold us the idea"? Not at all. It was considered quite acceptable to personally criticise Bush and Blair for their idea and its execution. Of course, it can be argued that the idea is bad because the people behind it are bad, but this just goes to show how easy it is to confuse a product with its creator. (I look forward to your responses to THIS line of argument...)

But there is no doubt that sometimes the criticism of the creator is too harsh (by reasonable standards). My own view is that excessive reviews come in all flavours - wild hyperbole on the part of the dealer and the creator's friends is not met with objection by you or Marc or anyone else. The hyperbole just evens out. It is painful to 'take it on the chin', just as it is enjoyable to read exagerrated descriptions of oneself. You take the good with the bad and pay most attention to the balanced middle-of-the-road.

This is something that comes with the territory and it comes with a certain maturity (not age-based, but acquired through years of releasing products and observing the reactions. This is where Marc may have sold himself short by jumping straight in with a 4 volume DVD set. He may have been better prepared for these reactions had he taken things more slowly).

Oh well. At least you got us all thinking about such issues.

adios,
joey

p.s. - apologies if there are spelling mistakes; English is not my first langauge.
Ken Dyne
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In terms of the DVD set I have to say that the production quality was quite nice. When compared to Alakazam's past releases such as Jermay's DVD which was poorly shot and the audio was poor also. However I keep reminding myself that it is not the production quality I am buying these things for, it is the quality of the ideas contained within. I think Marc and his team deserve a pat on the back for the DVD set as I find many of the ideas usable, or at very least they make good springboards for other ideas and applications.

I think the major problem with the set is that there are very few people performign stage and cabaret, therefore few will actually employ the ideas, for me they are great.

Also, the massive build up and then delayed release didn't help as there was lots of speculation and build up. After soemthign is build up to this degree it would really have to eb soemthign ground breaking and out of this world to live up to it, or even go far beyond it.

Just my thoughts,

K
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Winnes
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I havent yet watched the whole set, so can only comment on the volume I have (number 2). I found the routines overall to be "so-so" - some good, some bad. I wont comment on his performance or him as a performer, as these are Instructional DVD's and most likely not a true reflection. I think the only problem was the hype before release - from what I have seen, although I didn't necessarily like some of the routines "as is", I did like some of them - and the others gave me more than enough to think about, and that warranted a purchase. Overall, not worth the hype - but certainly worth buying.
Tom Lauten
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Joeyjojo...

In my comments I think I clearly recognized and acknowledged that people will criticise products for valid (if not personal) reasons...perhaps an opinion of likes or dislikes, technical matters or a considered professional view.

I did not take issue with that.

My comments were centering upon the more personal attacks made upon many different people who offer products. These comments and threads often become akin to an aggressive feeding frenzy quite apart from the topic of the product. Often it deteriorates into a "I think you'll find...or a ...this is what I know" contest on the part of the contributors.

I also want to make it clear that I do not speak for Marc Spelmann or Alakazam. I do often purchase their products and tell them both what I think, good or bad. My experience of both of them both personally and professionally has been nothing but positive and based upon Human contact and honest communication.

Generally, my reviews and comments reflect my enthusiasm for products based upon having them and working with them. True, there are many products I do not comment on, positive or negative. There are also many products I comment upon that belong to other inventors or companies. I generally try and give a constructive breakdown of my understanding of an effect (I'll gush about it later LOL).

My comments upon Marc Spelmanns dvds were indeed my opinion, as I stated...

"...Personally I like Marcs DVDs. ...There are things in his performances I would not, could not and don't feel like doing. There are lessons for me to learn in there though...many of them. I take what I want and leave the rest."

The whole war analogy is too...ummm...well, suffice it to say that it is too far off the beaten track to comment upon...let's move on from THAT one shall we?

Again, I appreciate genuine critical reviews but that was NOT the thing I was talking about, I made that VERY clear...we have ALL seen the sort of thing I was commenting upon and AGAIN...AS I SAID...not necessarily to do with this thread or with Marc Spelmann exclusively...I did say that the problems I have with this issue seems to rear it's ugly head all too often in many places.

I agree with your comment upon the use of "wild hyperbole". It can become heavy handed, perhaps this is the red rag to the bullish person who feels compelled to "have a go" or who attempts to "make his or her candle burn brighter, by blowing somebody else’s out". This is the thing I have problems with. Dealer hype is often cited as an excuse for some people to "have a go". Not always...but it seems to be conveniently used when needed.

I'm not going to go on about this. I really appreciate you considered response to my posting and I bet we agree upon more points than it might seem at first glance. Your English is VERY good, have no fear. Let's not discuss my knowledge of Spanish!!!! (for shame!)
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Bennettjc
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My New Year's Resolution: To stop obsessing about Mike Close's and Jamy Swiss' thoughts on mentalists....

But before the ball drops one last gasp.

One plausible theory raised about Close's unusually severe review of Spelmann was the following:

"I had the feeling with this review that had Spelmann been a known performer, the review would have been less invective. I had the feeling that due to Spelmann's age, his distance, and his relative obscurity Mike Close went for the throat."

So I reviewed Close's reviews from 1995-2001 included in his excellent "In Review."
Based on this I can't draw any firm conclusions about the above theory. But there are hints in both directions. The Spelmann review was uniquely harsh both for the mentalism and non-mentalism magic he's reviewed. So there are no other examples of this sort of ravaging of other less known artists to support the theory. On the other hand it is hard to find examples of Close being very negative on well-known magicians, writers, inside-trackers etc. He has been negative on Karrel Fox and Tom Mullica but these critiques were more gentle, shall we say. He was quite hard on Jon Racherbaumer(Don Alan) but being hard on Jon R is a trait shared by Swiss.

It should be noted that Close has given very favorable reviews to relatively unknown, sometimes distant, mentalists. Satori (1998), Nyman (many occasions), Marc Paul, Jakutsch (Kurtz), Bavli (1997). And he was a big booster of Kenton Knepper's Wonder Words early on but as time went on he noted "Kenton is beginning to take himself way too seriously." He also was very positive on the big names (Maven, B Richardson, Banachek, D Brown). For what it is worth he was negative in 1999 on Bavli's "Bending..." vids but there were a few positive comments and the overall tone was less harsh.

To conclude:
-I should get back to work.
-Given the plethora of magic/mentalism product combined with internet hype and log rolling it is important to read as many opinions as possible before deciding where to drop your money. The prescence of professional reviewers Close and Swiss, who happen to be top magicians who love mentalism, should be welcomed. They may have their biases and blindspots (I definately will be inquiring about the Close/Kohler thing) but so what.

Peace Out

Joeyjojo:
Please tell us more about the Close/Kohler connection. For the record my review of the reviews did in fact reveal that Close was unwavering in his enthusiam for anything Kohler. Of course correlation doesn't imply causality so please share your theory.
Bennett
joeyjojo
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Quote:
On 2004-12-30 10:44, Bennettjc wrote:
Joeyjojo:
Please tell us more about the Close/Kohler connection. For the record my review of the reviews did in fact reveal that Close was unwavering in his enthusiam for anything Kohler. Of course correlation doesn't imply causality so please share your theory.
Bennett


There is no scientific proof for any of this, of course, it is just a feeling that whenever a product is offered by Kohler (be it Kohler's own routine, as in U3F, or someone else's material that Kohler has the rights to, as in Scott Alexander stuff, Close seems to be exceptionally generous with his praise and very gentle with criticism - if he offers any). Also, don't forget that magicians are people; people have friends and neighbours, and enemies, and owe favours to each other. The Las Vegas connection may be important in this regard (eg., if one of them was throwing a party, I would not be surprised to find the other one there). Close only visits these boards in disguise so although he may be furious by this (justifyably or not) he won't pipe up and say so.
For the record, I enjoy his reviews immensely and take them seriously, it's just that I have a nuanced reading of them when it comes to some people (R. Paul Wilson is another favourite, I think).
Jon Stetson
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Quote:
On 2004-12-29 11:45, Bennettjc wrote:
Scott B:
True but I'm curious if he's ever been really harsh with a real big name, perhaps outside of mentalism. Has he ever really blasted an Ammar for example. I will definately be checking the few back issues I have.


My goodness, don't we have better things to do with our time?
Bennettjc
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I do Jon. I'm looking foward to spending some of my time seeing you perform here in Brooklyn Jan 28th!

Happy New Year
Jon Stetson
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On 2004-12-30 13:29, joeyjojo wrote:
Quote:
On 2004-12-30 10:44, Bennettjc wrote:
Joeyjojo:
Please tell us more about the Close/Kohler connection. For the record my review of the reviews did in fact reveal that Close was unwavering in his enthusiam for anything Kohler. Of course correlation doesn't imply causality so please share your theory.
Bennett


Share your theory? It sounds like you are trying to find out who killed Kennedy (not the English Mentalist).

There is no scientific proof for any of this, of course, it is just a feeling that whenever a product is offered by Kohler (be it Kohler's own routine, as in U3F, or someone else's material that Kohler has the rights to, as in Scott Alexander stuff, Close seems to be exceptionally generous with his praise and very gentle with criticism - if he offers any). Also, don't forget that magicians are people; people have friends and neighbours, and enemies, and owe favours to each other. The Las Vegas connection may be important in this regard (eg., if one of them was throwing a party, I would not be surprised to find the other one there). Close only visits these boards in disguise so although he may be furious by this (justifyably or not) he won't pipe up and say so.
For the record, I enjoy his reviews immensely and take them seriously, it's just that I have a nuanced reading of them when it comes to some people (R. Paul Wilson is another favourite, I think).

[/quote]

I'll answer your question regarding the "connection" between Bob and Mike. They are good friends, who enjoy each other’s company. They socialize. No big deal.

Mike and Bob do have a lot in common including interests other than magic (some people have them).

Unlike so many others, Bob has very high standards when it comes to products he will put on the market. Bob and his brain trust will spend months (in some cases years), to develop a product for the market.

Do I love every product he has put out? No.

Mike has great integrity. He gives honest opinions. Do I agree with all of them? No. Are we friends? Yes.

The job of writing reviews for a magic magazine is a tough one. Though some get paid, I'll tell you it is not a lot. It also takes a lot of time, much more than you may think. There is also a lot of research involved. Often time these guys are on the phone calling both their friends and people they sometimes don't know, to answer questions about the history, practicality, ect. of items for review.

Side notes. Mac king told me that agreeing to review products for "Magic" was a big mistake for him. That’s why he dropped out so quickly. It becomes a political hotbed.

For those who think that they should go for the endorsement of pro mentalists, please take this into consideration, these raves are sometimes given over the phone or e-mailed before said product has been seen. This is a fact.

Does anyone else remember in Genii how Ed Mishell would give Pat Mollo (Mollo Magic) 4 stars for everything he put out? (Dating myself, again).

What a lot of people don't remember is that having pros (or at least names) in magic review products is a relatively new thing. Prior to that it was for the most part, done by a staff reviewer, who was not none for anything other than writing reviews.

Bottom line, it is one mans opinion. Mike works hard to enhance and advance the art of magic. Lets all try to do the same.
joeyjojo
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Quote:
On 2004-12-30 14:24, Jon Stetson wrote:

I'll answer your question regarding the "connection" between Bob and Mike. They are good friends, who enjoy each other’s company. They socialize. No big deal.



I liked the pun on 'no big deal', though I suspect it was unintentional. Actually, to those who buy magic and trust Close's opinion, it IS a 'big deal'. I have met neither Close nor Kohler but was able, through the tone and content of the reviews, to surmise that they were 'good friends' (as you put it). Others who randomly pick up an issue of MAGIC and read about a Kohler release may NOT have had the opportunity to deduce that the two are friends. So at least we may label our 'theories' 'facts'. Thanks.
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