Community Post #170 - Just to Spite Crimson, Really

Discussion in 'Community Posts' started by Tyro D. Fox, Dec 21, 2017.

  1. Tyro D. Fox

    Tyro D. Fox Ho, hog, heg! I can does Game Dev thing, yes!
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    Been doing Uni work, dude! Building games and software takes time. I don't see you pen anything either! Anyone can write one of these!

    OK, that sounds far more passive aggressive than cocksure and confident. Anyway...

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    Community Post #170
    The Magician's Broken Rules

    Have you ever seen Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed? Y'see, when I was a cub, it would pop up on telly occasionally. And this is 90's/early 2000's telly so four channels and only Disney VHS tapes for an alternative. When this came on, I sat up and took notice because I never saw anything like it before. A basic, how-to guide on illusions and trickery. How to do x to y so that it looks like you actually did z. When it was on, I watched it because I hadn't a clue where it came from. But it was pretty cool!

    So, around a decade later, in Space Year 2017, I'm watching Netflix and that show turns up on there. In its entirety. Well, of course I watch it! Something that used to be a fleeting rarity is now right in my hands. Perfect! Watch the hell out of that! I'm gonna learn me some magic! Yeah!

    And I watch it. I was honestly pretty engaged, watching tiny tricks to big showstoppers. They'd perform the trick, then they'd show you how it was performed, usually in the simplest possible way. That was the more fascinating part: that so much of this stuff was simple. A person in a place you don't expect, some mirrors, a black cloak or a disguise could help you get away with seemingly anything. I binged it for ages; I love learning about things like this. Although, I could have done without having to hear the horn-dog narrator make it extra clear how pretty the women are. Every. Two. Minutes.

    And then, it gets to this scene.


    Ho'kay! All right, interesting angle. I respect that. I learned quite a bit. Enough to try palming a coin to see if I could do it too. Still, after all these years, I finally found out who he was. Kind of...

    OK. Without Googling, hooves up: who knows who he is? I have the excuse of living in the UK and having a background in Computer Games and Ponies so it makes sense that I haven't a clue who he is but I suspect he might not have had many Americans slapping their heads, wishing they'd thought of him earlier.

    So, I tried finding out what happened, to some degree. Who is Val Valentino, the Masked Magician and, with a bit of Googling, what happened after he pulled the mask off?

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    Pictured: Valentino apparently dressed as Adam Ant.
    Oh wow...Does that scream 'Magician' or what, huh?!

    Born Leonard Montano, Valentino worked in Las Vegas (who other magicians I've been reading up on have not been entirely kind to) until appearing on the show as a Magician. Fox approaches him and he agreed under the proviso that he would only show the inner workings of 'old tricks' only. So, only stuff plenty of people already know like sawing people in half or pulling a rabbit from a hat. They agree and for two years, they make and release the show. The narrator, Mitch Pileggi, keeps going on and on about how many magicians and professionals they're angering though I don't have any record of who or what they were saying in '97-ish other than an L.A Times article from 1998, stating that magicians were in "two camps--those who've actively discredited Montano as a sham artist while campaigning against Fox and urging boycotts of the show's advertisers, and those who've felt ignoring the specials was the quickest way to make the controversy go away."

    Generally, the response from the community is that he's a twit. Likely money grabbing too. The general motive, according to the magicians I've been reading the words of, state that Valentino was a lounge act that probably saw dollar signs when Fox turned up. Fox then sold the thing with a little controversy, stating that the Masked Magician was getting death threats and that Fox was being hounded to stop. Granted, they were being asked to stop and there were reports of magicians urging a boycott but no one's admitted to any death threats.

    However, there was some legal action! Kevin and Cindy Spencer sued for damages after being forced to scrap two tricks that they claimed to cost $100, 000 in total, and they were only one of many after the TV specials aired. An interesting and noteworthy one was Andre Kole, who sued for over $500,000 for tricks he claimed were very special indeed. Apparently, he lost as his lawyer conceded that it's dodgy trying to sue over a magic trick being explained. Turns out that magic tricks don't really fit neatly into copyright law so it turned the case into an insurmountable struggle. Though, and I like this quote, Kole said "Magicians and designers of magic tricks haven't had to take those steps. A handshake has worked for several centuries."

    Interesting to think about, I reckon.

    Still, it shows how many people did, and apparently still do, see this as a betrayal of an entire community. I've flicked through a few forums and some blog posts and they do seem pretty unimpressed with what Valentino did. Curiously, the consensus appears to be that Valentino isn't that great as a magician either. There's plenty talking about how his 'reveal' is rubbish. Heck, Mark Wilson, a guy from a 1960's kids TV show piped up and said that most of his stuff was "dangerous", going on to explain that he seemed eager to put the Masked Magician straight on a few things.

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    This is Mark Wilson, pictured with his assistant and the new star of your nightmares up the top there.

    I did find one positive reflection on Valentino's actions in a post on theory11.com about a time when he was thrown out of a party in Las Vegas by Criss Angel (another Vegas Magician with a reputation as thoroughly unpleasant off-stage, apparently), claiming that he worked "his butt off for close to 20 years battling the political B.S. of the Magic Industry (specifically) all the way." According to Craig Browning, "the trade mags and establishments kept ignoring him and to a huge extent, suppress him." A cursory-glance and Google reveals Craig's been in the Magic biz for over 40 years so I'm a little awed by the response after hearing everyone else squabble over him.

    In fact, the most interesting debate is on what damage Valentino is supposed to have done to the industry. Those that stick up for the Masked Magician say that his shows did stick only to old tricks or obscure methods of pulling them off that no one would care about. Though the opponents point out a hundred and one different magicians that either used the exact same thing at the time of the broadcasts (apparently Sigmund and Roy did turning women into tigers around 1997-ish and the list goes on). The general view was that he'd gone and spoit tricks for an audience that didn't want such a thing ruined. Even worse was when the Masked Magician came back (possibly Valentino but I don't think we know) and did further tricks, some that were only a few years old.

    Though, I got a lovely response from my new hero on this subject, Craig Browning (seriously, he lays into everyone on this forum; it's a joy to read). He explains that he believes that "exposure only matters to Wannabes", telling the forum about how a colleague managed to fool an audience with the original Thurston cabinet used for sawing a woman in half (and he insists it was the 'original' one) despite the fact that you could clearly see where the woman goes. He insists that it's not what you do that's the key to magic, but how you do it. The performance and showmanship do more for magic than just knowing where to stand and where the mirrors are meant to be. He even goes on to remind them all that a lot of basic tricks and illusions have been sold in toy shops for decades.

    Actually, even I had one of those kits once...

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    Oh! The minutes of fun I got out of this before I lost all the pieces and the instructions.

    But the blow of his argument comes when he describes how he used a prop that had been in a newspaper, in it's 'exposed' position (so revealing exactly how it worked and who made the 'coin through the cigarette' props) yet still entertained an audience with it.

    Yes, that's a community being slapped verbally around the chops.

    Finally, another act that kept getting dropped in here was Penn and Teller, specifically for certain tricks where they actually reveal how tricks are done. Again, in the debate over how much damage Valentino actually did doing his show to jobbing magician's livelihoods, they get brought up as a comparison a lot. Interestingly, I did find an article from Teller himself talking a bit about the show in question. The verdict?

    An example he explains is their version of 'The Cup and Ball' trick. It seems he's onboard with the idea Valentino did but probably not the execution, which I'll agree is valid and worth talking about.


    Though he says that "A magician gives you the gift of a stone in your shoe." That argument over how they did it, where the false feet or whatever might be hidden but then just giving up and enjoying being flummoxed is something Teller does appreciate though there's something about getting answers too that can be just as flummoxing.

    Though after all this, what do I think? Well, I'm in a unique position of being a largely unintended audience that didn't even see all of the specials till years and years later. And I'm really happy I got to see this stuff. At the very least, as a wee kit, I know I was happy to watch something very different to anything I'd ever seen. As an adult, I'm happy to have been exposed to the basics of misdirection. While I don't have that much interest in magic, I have found all this fascinating.

    The basics of misdirection and illusion seems pretty useful for someone fascinated with telling stories, especially with an interest in murder mystery and detective shows. I even try to push a little murder mystery into my D&D adventures, on occasion because I think they're fun. And rare. But I'm even more interested in the story around this whole thing. The show's fine: it's not the most riviting thing in the world (some of it's fascinating to see, some of it's a little dull; not everything's a winner) but I like being exposed to something I otherwise may have missed.

    As for ruining performances; I did get approached by a wondering street magician in London once (sorry, can't remember his name). He made a card pass through a solid plastic block and while I might have had some idea of how it was done, with clever misdirection and a little forcing of the cards, I don't entirely care.

    It was still cool.

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    Ready for another of these? Oh, what a cover! Only in showbizness would you dress up what looks like the front cover of a Low Rent Slasher Movie. Hands down, favourite Post so far! Just because of that picture!

    (Links to stuff I read:
    )

    Recommended Reading

    Remember, the show is always going so keep in mind that if you have an opinion that simply must be heard on Season 7, then express it here rather than to me because I've been UNIVERSITYING! I shall have to endeavour to catch up while Universitying is being halted on account of Holidays. Still at the tail end of Season 6...

    Oh! And that movie too! Back to ignorance till I see it myself. LA-LA-LA-LA-LAAA!

    Pretty things for yon eyes, courtesy of @Stuffy McPatch.

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    Oooo...Prettyfulnessness

    Legend of Zelda: A Pain in the Arse continues, from the mind and figure collection of @Rockout E. Stringer. Doubtless is playing Breath of the Wild in order to find something to make fun of.

    I like the idea of this one: just show interesting pictures you've taken. Probably got one or to good ones tucked away somewhere, right? Nice work @Berry Punch. Though, for me, none of Appledash2012's pictures are working.

    Are they too awesome or did you find some choice pictures of error messages to show everypony?

    @Non Sequitor Madness has put out their top and bottom 10 movies of 2017. I understand we had some strong contenders in both lists this year and I'll nod and agree with most of them as I didn't get to the cinema that often this year, sadly. Though, Episode VIII ought to be in there somewhere, right? I loved that movie.

    Further thoughts on things from @Blackened Blue, specifically on that MLP Movie that I must know anything about till I see it, LALALALALALALAALALALALALALALA!

    Poetry on Storms from @Ridley Wolf. Pretty, likely to ruffle feathers when you realise what it's about but pretty.

    Finally finally, a review on Pokemon Sun from me. Yay.

    Right. I'm off to bed after hours of writing and editing...Good night and Happy Holidays! May your coffee cups be red and full of hot chocolate and your set be the right size for what you planned to do with it.

    I don't know! It's nearly 4am here!
     
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  2. Vanagandr

    Vanagandr Destroyer of Worlds
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    Magic shows are like pro wrestling. If the performers are fun to watch, it doesn't matter that it's not real.

    Just enjoy the show.
     
  3. Rockout E. Stringer

    Rockout E. Stringer Rockin A!!!
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    In fact, the same company did a special on wrestling.



    Unfortunately, it stopped being fun to watch around 2004, at least for me. They changed the name to World Wrestling ENTERTAINMENT but it became the opposite.

    As for magic, I remember those specials. I also miss those World's Greatest Magic showcase specials they used to do. Even if Max Maven legitimately scared the crap out of me!!

    Thanx for the plug too!! :D
     
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  4. Crimson Lionheart

    Crimson Lionheart Professional Sh*tposter
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    Hold my beer.....I might have something planned ::S:
     
  5. Tyro D. Fox

    Tyro D. Fox Ho, hog, heg! I can does Game Dev thing, yes!
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    Very much so.

    I did see mention of that. I wonder if wrestlers got angry of this show too? Though, it doesn't have quite the same feel as the previous one. Interesting though.

    Should I be worried? I might be worried.
     
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  6. Poisonous Nightmare

    Poisonous Nightmare ~EP's lovely Changeling Queen~
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    Ooooo. I will have to look into that when I have some time. I do look forward to seeing what you have to say about it. I love the game well enough, though I had a team that pretty much raped everything just about. Though there were a few spots where I had trouble. The elite four was challenging, but not too hard. I was able to almost entirely sweep them. The Professor was piss easy too.
     
  7. Tyro D. Fox

    Tyro D. Fox Ho, hog, heg! I can does Game Dev thing, yes!
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    Short version is that I liked it but it's story isn't calibrated right and some mechanics in the game don't work right.
     

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