Thursday, August 26, 2010

What Vegas Does To My Brain

Before this past week, my wife and I had never stepped foot into the lights and luxury of Las Vegas, and frankly... I am so unbelievably glad to have done so. It really is the magic capital of the world for good reason. We saw 6 full magic shows while we were there. I haven't been exposed to that many different sources of live magic since I was a camper at Tannen's Magic Camp.

But it wasn't just the shows (which I'll get to), but the entire atmosphere. We stayed at the Stratosphere and getting a view of this city 109 stories up is just damned breath-taking.


It really is a testament to Thomas Edison (and I think Nikola Tesla... but that's another story).

The shows were kick ass (which I'll get to), but it's not even the paid shows that amazed me. The Bellagio water show and the Mirage Fire Show were these free and amazing brief pieces of awesomeness, as was the show at Margaritaville (thanks to my friend Scott Hitchcock for showing it to me). I loved the idea of it. "You've made it to Las Vegas. Here's something you don't have to pay a penny for, and it's frickin' amazing." It's ingenious marketing... and really art as well.




So finally onto the shows. We started off by seeing Rick Thomas's show at the Saharah. Big pretty tigers, good illusions, cool personality. Not a bad start to the week.

We went onto seeing Mac King's show at Harrah's. Hilarious and amazing. By Vegas standards... not at all flashy or huge... and it made it all the more fantabulous. Rachel and I agree (along with a lot of insiders in Vegas) that it was the best show we saw.

The next night held Lance Burton's show. Considering it was going to be leaving the Monte Carlo in September, I was absolutely in awe and really overcome by the experience. The epitome of the Vegas show- it was slick, fun, huge, and completely encompassing of his personality.

We then took in Open Sesame, a show that is meant to be experienced by an audience no larger than 40. It's taking a chance by being very against what Vegas appears to be. But the truth is that Vegas is about interaction and being swept up in the environment... and Open Sesame does this very well. Big props to Losander, Luna Shemada, Christian Diamond, and Master Diaz for some great work.

The Rio was our next stop, and after the most disappointing poker room I've been in and the most amazing Seafood Buffet I've EVER experienced, we saw Penn & Teller's show. I saw them live years ago at Foxwoods Casino in CT and their act has only gotten better. There are pieces of their show that truly baffle me. You learn a lot of magic the longer you're part of that universe, even if it is magic you don't perform. Penn & Teller's show is one of the few will multiple effects in it that actually fool me. That and I am in love with their point of view on life (at least, their presentation of their point of view).

Our final show of the week was Nathan Burton's show at the Flamingo. It was funny, very fast, and our overall opinion was that it was a very cute show. Honestly nothing mind-blowing like with the other shows, but still not a disappointment by far.

So our week in Vegas was centered around having a great time, and Magic was obviously a centerpiece of that for me (and my awesometastic wife, Rachel). I'm truly inspired by everything I've seen. Not to make my act bigger or flashier... but to embrace everything that makes my show different from all the rest. There's a lot of guys out there making a really well-off living by being different from everyone else. And in Las Vegas... the only way to make money in magic is to be unique.

I think I have something different from the other magicians out there. A style and a theme no one else is using and a desire to create something big. Do I want to perform in Vegas? Meh. There's so many pretty fish in that pond and the ocean is so huge. But I'll definitely be back.



What's next for me? The Lakewood Lion Renaissance Faire in NJ, Joker's Wild Club in New Haven, CT, and the Bristol Chrysanthemum Festival in Bristol, CT. And then off to Salem, MA for all of October. The craziness is just beginning. www.greenwolfmagic.com/tour

Saturday, May 29, 2010

College Renaissance Faires, Karaoke, and Beating My Head Against the Wall

So I know I've been particularly vacant from my blog the last month or so... and my excuse isn't that I'm overly busy or have a lot on my plate and can't write a blog. I just got lazy. Unfortunately, it is an epidemic in the magic community (and really the entertainment world at large).

There's a lot of magicians who use the following line (and myself included) when seeing a bad magician. "Why is THIS guy getting gigs and I'm NOT?" And from what I've determined, there's 4 main reasons.

1- He/She's actually a good magician and you're just jealous /don't realize you suck (which could be my problem... I may never know).
2- He/She's charging way less than you... which is EXTREMELY likely in so many cases.
3- He/She's got connections you simply don't have. Family friends, people he/she met while working the Fryer at Burger King, etc.
4- He/She's putting way more work into promoting themselves then their actual act. Ahh... now there's something to talk about.

I'm not talking the shameless self-promotion like I do without thinking (GreenWolfMagic.com) but the actual leg work of promoting a show. Making calls, sending out press kits, taking out ads, etc. etc. etc. Which notably, is an art form in itself. But it lies more in the power of numbers than most other things.

And unfortunately sometimes (or more than some times) I'm just too damn lazy to get out of bed and do the work. It's a horrendous downfall that costs me my dream... at least I think it does. Reason number 1 still constantly sticks in my brain, but I'm hoping it's just natural self-doubt.

I performed at the Kutztown University Renaissance Faire in April and it reminded me why I love working colleges. Enthusiasm and passion are two things that accompany so many performance-based students (Not yet completely jaded by the vicious bastard that the world of acting can be). And if not, they're at least a frickin' riot to hang with afterwards. (Thanks to all the awesome folks at Kutztown University!)



Also, the long drive (3 1/2 hours each way) got me hooked on audiobooks... specifically The Dresden Files. I bring it up because I would LOVE to see an act created in the world of The Dresden Files (Properly approved by Jim Butcher, the author, of course). It certainly wouldn't be easy, and I don't think it suits my own personality but the books are giving me so much inspiration in terms of creating a world of fantasy. If you haven't read the series about this modern day Wizard... you really need to do so.



So, as some of you may know, I host karaoke a number of times a week. It's the closest to a "real job" I'll ever have. As a host, you're forced to try a lot of new songs (to keep people from killing you for singing the same stuff all the time), come up with funny (i.e. stupid) things to say on the spot, and really push your own comfort zone. I think singing in front of a crowd really strips people down to their core. And as a host, you have to be willing to fail. There will be times you try a new song and it sucks. you just have to suck it up and make it right or stop singing that song. It really translates into magic for me.

In magic, you have to be able to tell when something you do sucks. It's something a lot of magicians aren't even remotely good at. They don't listen to their audiences at all. They think that "polite applause" counts as "Uproarious CHEERS!" when the truth is they just do it out of a reflex to be nice. After doing enough shows, I'd like to think you learn the difference. But I'm an optimist.

This weekend, I'm heading off to the Midsummer Renaissance Faire in Lehighton, PA for the next two weeks. www.MidsummerProductions.com for all the info.

Monday, April 19, 2010

DIY Curry & Me

I spend quite a bit of my TV time watching Gordon Ramsay's various shows. I love his passion & focus and the brutally honest way he approaches food & business.

On BBCAmerica, I was watching an episode of Kitchen Nightmares where Ramsay was working with The Curry Lounge, an Indian Restaurant in the UK. And during the episode, I was hit with an interesting correlation. The chef of the lounge was an experienced, very skilled chef but the owner was someone who had never run a restaurant before this one. And his big gimmick was a Do-It-Yourself Curry where the customer chose from a list of different options to create a unique curry, no matter how disgusting the combination was. The result is that there was over 100 different dishes that could be made and all of them tasted similar, bland, and generally not good at all.

It pointed out to me something that is greatly amiss in magic (coupled with a conversation I had with a fellow magician). There are magicians out there who have a dozen different "show options". Now, there's nothing wrong with have a close up show, a stage show, an illusion show, etc. You have different sized audiences and different types of venues and you want to be able to accommodate. I'm talking about the guys who have a "Kids show", an "adult show", a "clown show", a "Harry Potter" show, an "Anti-drug" show, a "Reading is Magic" show, a "Wizard of Oz" show (I swear on all that is holy and squishy that all of these exist). And they have a "different character" for each one.

When a magician offers a hundred different shows with a hundred different characters, the result is a variety of mediocre (or worse) shows and a bland magician. And I think it stems from the fact that the magician in question doesn't have a character at all (either professionally or personally). And this normally wouldn't be a problem if it didn't reflect badly on the rest of us. But it does. Because every "Renaissance-style" show some hack does for $150 by wearing a cheap Halloween costume and saying "Ye Olde Hippity-Hop Rabbits" takes a real show from me and possibly ruins that client on Renaissance Style Shows forever.

I have performed for Corporations and Private Parties just as much as Ren Faires and when I do, I don't drastically alter my style to fit the venue. They hired "Daniel GreenWolf" and that's what they get. You'll never see me perform in a tux or with a playing-card covered vest because that is in no way my style. I've turned down several of such offers in my life and never looked back. Not saying I haven't "toned down" my look, but it's still my character doing my show.

Back in October of 2009, I performed a Steampunk-style show for Legends weekend at Washington Irvin's home in Sunnyside, NY. They contacted me with the concept and I, being a lover of the Steampunk Genre took it as a challenge. I spent months creating the show and the look and the plot for my show. I performed a 25 minute show 6 times that weekend and got very good reviews for it. But even after that, it wasn't where I wanted it. So I continue to work on it now, hopefully to be better polished and up to my standards sometime late 2010- early 2011.

My point is that with such a drastic change in my show, I spent a long time on that ONE variation... and it's still not truly the level of my regular shows and I don't offer it for sale because of that reason. And that level of dedication is sorely lacking in many of my fellow "magicians". And I only did it because I truly love the genre, not because "It's a gig".

My character can fit to MANY venues... but not ALL venues. And I'm fine with that. Because those people who want "Daniel GreenWolf" will (hopefully) want my show for years to come because of who I am and what I can do. And people who call me from a random Yellow Pages search (yup... people still use them) who are looking for a "magician" will want my show too... they just don't know it yet.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Long Island Magic Arts Convention- One Geek's Perspective

So I ventured to the town of Hicksville, NY on Long Island for the 2nd Annual Long Island Magic Arts Convention. Before this, I had not attended a "mainstream" magic convention in over a decade (in fact, the only two magic events I attended annually were the Inner Circle of Bizarre Magick Gathering & Tannen's Magic Camp.

After a frighteningly easy commute up, I arrived just in time for the beginning festivities at 10:30am (Yes, I did learn the sun was up that early) which started off with the Junior Parlor Magic Competition. Sitting with fellow ren performer and Stoopid Guy Pete Juris, we were rather impressed with all the contestants, especially since most, if not all, are past or current Tannen's Magic Campers.

One in particular I wish to give a shout out to is Zach Ivins, who did a really solid linking ring routine. Him and I traded ideas back and forth a few years ago and it was nice to see some of those ideas being put to good use.
From there we had little time to rest because we went right into the first lecture of the day- Jon Ferrentino & Joe Silkie. These guys were damned funny, intelligent, and one particular idea concerning the appearing 8ft pole may have saved me the cost of the entrance fee alone.

And the hits kept on coming. We went right from there to the MacGuyver of Magic lecture by Scott Francis. Again, just full of so many ideas I couldn't write them all down fast enough. However, the one that shall be taking up some of my time shortly is how to build really good, compact backdrops for very little money. It helped that it was obvious both him and his wife had such passion for what they did.

A really interesting experience was the close-up show. How they did the show was that there were 3 close-up performers: Mark Mason, Asi Wind, and Daniel Garcia. They split the convention goers into three rooms, and then rotated the performers for each room for 15 minute sets. Which means that every performer had to perform their set 3 times. It worked (at least in our room) and which meant everyone had a good seat. All three performers were top notch, and having never seen Mark Mason or Daniel Garcia live, it was a real treat. The first time I saw Asi Wind at Tannen's years ago was a bit of a disappointment, so seeing him here was nice because he did a great job and smashed my former experience of him.







Then the final lecture of the day was Daniel Garcia. Holy frickin' crap he was good. Funny, engaging, intelligent... it's now clear to me why he's become so popular in the magic world. I've been working on Torn for three days straight and hopefully by June, I'll be adding it to my repertoire. That and many other awesome ideas.


Then Pete and I enjoyed a quick dinner at Panera Bread down the road where we got to throw ideas back and forth about performance, advertising, Gigmasters (Damn you gigmasters! Damn you to hell!) and then went back to enjoy the evening show.

After a very nice tribute to Mama Magic for her lifetime of work with running Tannen's Magic Camp and so much more, the show began.

Scott Francis Emcee'd the show and did a great job. Magic Al opened the show and did the heck of a job like I've always known him to do. Jon Ferrentino was one of the better acts of the night for me. He was frickin' hilarious. The show off show was alright, although I felt it dragged just a bit, along with Francis's segment, but still good stuff. Then we got to the big act of the night, Jay Mattioli. He's got a hip-hop feel to his show and because of that, he was a point down in my book already. It's not his fault, it's just that my hip-hop magician will always be my brutha Elliot Zimet. His act was alright. It had a little bit of original flair to it and I liked that... until we got... to the Snowstorm illusion.

Originality is a really big issue with me. Every effect you put into your show should scream of you. Your style, your experiences, your influences, your character, etc. There are big ways to do this, and little ways to do this. Clothing, story, music, prop design... these things can totally change an out-of-the-box effect into something yours.

Every time I've seen the snowstorm illusion, it has either been a not-as-good copy of David Copperfield's or Kevin James' presentation. Unfortunately, this time was no exception. Even going as far as using the same music as Kevin James used. Which almost seemed tacked on to a pretty original act. And considering it was the closing piece of his act, that's what he left the audience with. That's probably the most bothersome. Now note, this isn't stealing an effect at all. Kevin James sells this illusion and probably even the music accompanied with it... but that doesn't mean I think it's a good artistic choice. I'm stepping off the heavy duty soap box now.









The only other problems I had with LIMAC was that the schedule was so packed, there wasn't much time for the dealers room, and because it was being held in a high school, as soon as the evening show was over, everyone was out and gone. Some of the best conversations happen in hotel lobbies and hospitality suites after the regular events end. But these are minor points for overall a fantastic convention run by great people and I can't wait to return next year.

(A quick shout out to Mike Maione for the pics of LIMAC. I hope you don't mind me using them here)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Wicked Faire 2010 & The Escape That Almost Didn't Happen

In this long overdue post, I'm finally going to describe my experience at Wicked Faire 2010 (www.WickedFaire.com). I spent three fantabulous days in the the bowels of New Jersey with a hotel full of some truly awesome people. Although impossible to completely describe, it comes down to being part Renaissance Faire, part Geek Con, part Fetish Con, all-kickass.

I started my weekend getting fixated behind my table, performing close-up magic and pimping my midnight Friday night and Saturday night shows. During this, the great people at the Con Goer Vid Cast interviewed me and did the best job of getting my spoon bending routine on film that I've ever seen, along with being interviewed by the cutest feline correspondent I've seen. (http://www.vidgle.com/podcast/2010/03/12/con-goer-wicked-faire-2010-features-daniel-greenwolf/comment-page-1/#comment-129)

The Friday Night show was well received, despite going up against a Shadowcast of Repo: The Genetic Opera (which is a pretty big deal at WWRF).

During this show, I realized that headset mics make me feel like I'm doing something important. To this day, I have no idea why. It also makes me want to start talking about bottle-nosed dolphins and calling myself "Greg". Unfortunately, that is a lot easier to explain to myself.

Saturday, however, seemed to be the more interesting day for me. As not only did I have my idiotic escape to face at Midnight, I had the nervousness of the Charity Munchausen Project in the afternoon. For those who don't know, the Munchausen Project is a game that is based in improvisational storytelling and responding to the other players. The other players on the panel were Voltaire (www.Voltaire.net), Donna Lynch of Ego Likeness (www.egolikeness.com), writer Hugh Casey (hughcasey.livejournal.com), our illustrious host Zachary M. (www.thepointyearedartisan.com), and the astounding Jeff Mach (The Man Running The Whole Shindig). The back and forth that ensued was apparently epic for all those who beheld it and, in an almost ironic use of the term... you truly had to be there.

One other highlight of the Saturday for me was being able to see Coyote Run (www.CoyoteRun.com) in concert after many years. I had met David Doersch and an earlier incarnation of the band at Rites of Spring many moons ago, so seeing the places they have gone creatively in that time was quite pleasing to the ears and eyes.

Which brings us to Saturday evening and the escape (that I call "Gasp"). For those who have not heard of this, what I do is have 2 people tie me up in 110 feet of rope. I then have a plastic trash bag placed in a cloth bag so one can't claw at it and have the plastic bag placed over my head and tied to my neck so I have about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes to escape from the ropes before I lose enough air to pass out.

I figured, since I was at Wicked Faire, a place where many of the top bondage experts in the US came to sell their wares, lecture, and generally be a part, I would have 2 bondage experts do the tying. This itself was a challenge as the first two experts I approached said that they didn't feel comfortable doing it. An idea that already set me at ill ease. But after a bit of searching and asking around, two pros by the names of Murphy Blue and Ogre agreed. Step One- Done.

Step two was making sure the EMTs were on site in case something went wrong. I spoke to the head EMT, Scott, who informed me that they would be checking my blood pressure before I did the escape to make sure I didn't stroke out during the attempt. Also, being a big guy like I am, they would have the whole team on site. We all agreed. Step Two- Done... or so I thought.

Step Three was working with the sound man (who did a fantastic job, despite a small hiccup that I'll talk about in a second) and trying to psych myself up while also calming myself down so I could focus on what I had ahead of me. Going over every step with my wife and the experts so we were all on the same page as to when things would happen. Anything goes awry, and I'd have to cancel the escape. So far, so good.

So, it gets to Midnight AND... no EMTs. I ask one of the staff if they could locate them because I can't start without them on site. They call in and at first, it seems like there was an emergency at the other main stage. The hall where I was doing the escape was filling up and I was starting to get very nervous, when it came in that the EMTs were at the other main stage expecting me to be there so they rushed to my stage. A small hiccup, but it got me really spooked.

Then the escape begins. The experts start tying me up and, as I'm talking, I remember that the EMTs hadn't taken my blood pressure. WHILE the bondage experts are tying me up, the EMTs decide to take my BP then, which is of course through the roof at that point. They were not happy. I told them to give me a minute so I could calm down and get my BP down to do this. They give me a minute and take my BP again... still too high. They not only warn me to stop the escape, but when I refused to stop, they threatened to cut me out of the ropes and have me arrested (I know... redundant, right?) to keep me from endangering myself. After a bit of an emotional back and forth, I convince Scott to give me a few minutes to calm down so I can get my BP down to do the escape. So, while being watched by a few hundred people, tied up in a lot of rope, I stood there chanting to myself, eyes closed, controlling my breathing. The EMTs came back in and took my pulse... it was borderline for them, but they allowed it. So it was now or never.

My wife Rachel steps in front of me with the bag in hand, in tears. I tell her it'll be okay, and that I needed her now. She then commented that "She had better get sex after this" which was the exact break in tension everyone in the crowd (especially myself) needed. After a good laugh, the crowd went quiet, Rachel threw the bag over my head and tied it to my neck and the music started. Unfortunately, the sound guy played the wrong song, which wasn't a big deal, but it did throw me off for a second mentally.

At the beginning of the escape, I did the one thing I should never do inside the plastic bag, I sucked in the last air in the bag through my nose... which caused the bag to stick right to my sweat-covered face. That tiny bit of air was meant to be a safety net in case it took longer to escape than I planned. Because of my nervousness, I had used it in the starting 10 seconds in the bag. I was now escaping without a net.

10 seconds, 20 seconds, 30 seconds go by... not making much progress. Then I start to undo the ropes and around the 70 second mark, I have my hands free, but the ropes are still around my body and I refused to take off the bag until the ropes were entirely off my body. Then somewhere around 1 minute 26 seconds, I get the ropes off, take the bag off... thankfully for me, the audience was as excited as myself. I couldn't hear my own scream over the cheers, and I knew I had done something right here.

After it was all done, the EMTs took my BP and it was through the roof, so they sat me down and hooked me up to Oxygen while I did the after-show meet and greet with the audience. I got to keep the oxygen tube as a macabre souvenir. I had Scott, the head EMT, sign a tag and attached it to the tube. It's now hanging in my bedroom.

Sunday morning, I was greeted with various rumors that I had been arrested, had gone to the hospital, and other things by people who weren't at the escape first hand. Rumors that I thought were absolutely glorious. It's just amazing how a story grows in less than 12 hours (makes you think about the Bible, really).

After saying my goodbyes to all of the amazing people at Wicked Faire, Rachel and I made our way home from NJ to CT (where we learned that Popeye's chicken may indeed be more dangerous to a human being than any escape) and we anxiously await Wicked Faire 2011: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong. Ooooh my brain is already a-brewing.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

How Calvin & Hobbes Changed My Life

The title alone will get mixed reactions from some. For more than a few, they will share in my feelings. Others will think I have something more wrong with me than usual. Others will say "Wasn't That a Comic Strip in the 90s?" (Just kidding... almost everyone will know what I'm talking about).



This decade-long monument to thinking outside the box was quite profound to me as a child. I was born the year it premiered in newspapers and I started reading the comic strip at 6 years old. Immediately it took effect. Aside from the amazing visuals that held me captivated with "static pictures" in a way no movie or television show ever could, it also started to change my way of thinking.

If I ever came across a word I didn't understand (quite often in such a verbose work) I would quickly run to my family's dictionary to find out what it meant. So, unwittingly, it helped me improve my reading and comprehension skills. I was always in advanced reading classes in Elementary school and even now I read very quickly and comprehend with the same level of speed... and I owe it to Calvin & Hobbes.

It also opened my eyes to the wonder of Comic Books. Many have stated that comic strips are a gateway drug to comic books and graphic novels and when you have such an unbelievable jumping off point, it's far easier. Having older brothers who were, in the case of my eldest bro, obsessed with comics also helped.... but Calvin & Hobbes allowed me to make that leap.

Even my imagination was helped by this "simple" comic strip. The story about a 6 year old boy who creates entire worlds in his mind showed me that it was okay to let my imagination run wild, but in every story, they showed there is a real world side to Calvin's life as well. And even though I wouldn't always understand some of the theoretical discussions unfolding in front of my eyes until many years later, it did make me want to understand the real world more. So I always had one foot in the fantastic and one foot in the everyday, and I have to thank Calvin & Hobbes for that.

Finally, Calvin & Hobbes affected my sense of humor. At 6 years old, I laughed at the visual jokes and the easily understood humor (The Word "Booger" is still funny to me to this day) and as I reached 12 and 13 (reading the collections in book form after the strip ended its run) I started finding all of the other jokes funny. It showed me that "juvenile" humor can be intelligent and that, if you can walk that fine line, you can create something that connects to everyone. And the show that I perform today is one that I can play for audiences of all ages because I learned that no audience should be treated like idiots. Bill Watterson refused to insult my intelligence at 6, at 16, and even now... so I pass that courtesy on to my audiences (at least, I hope I'm not insulting their intelligence).

The collected, hardcover-bound edition of Calvin & Hobbes graces my shelf (in its weight-belt-required-to-lift glory) which I received as a gift from my brothers the year it came out. And I will often look through it to laugh, to enjoy, and to even be inspired. I recently heard about a movie trying to be made on Bill Watterson's life and the effect his work had on the world called Dear Mr. Watterson and I am greatly looking forward to it.

If you haven't experienced Calvin & Hobbes, you can read strips online here:
http://www.gocomics.com/calvinandhobbes/

Does this seem like a love letter to a comic strip? You bet your ass it is. And it truly is the least I could do.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Creating Magic (Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb)

Amongst the act of banging my head repeatedly against the wall while I try to figure out new ways to sell my show, keep my business afloat, and keep myself in a healthy state of insanity (Not sane enough to come to my senses about my life choices, but not insane enough to walk down the street wearing nothing but a coffee pot on my head singing Folsom Prison Blues), I do spend quite a bit of time trying to figure out new routines to put into my show.

Inspiration comes in so many forms, there isn't any one method that's worked above the others. There's a couple of things I'm currently working on that I hope to have ready for the Summer and they're coming from different places creatively. Maybe by showing how I get my material, maybe someone will find a way to be inspired with whatever they're doing (or maybe it'll just be an interesting read).

One of my effects is growing from a prop I used years ago. The official name of the effect is "20th Century Silks" and the general idea is that two blue silks are tied together, placed in a glass or the pocket of an audience member. Then a red silk is brought across the room, it disappears, and then reappears tied between the two blue silks. It's a pretty cool trick, and I did it in my shows a loooong time ago. But it didn't really have as much of my style and personality as my effects do now, so I'm trying to rework it to make it fit the show? Will it? I have no clue.

Another is coming from a few different poems from The Book of Irish Verse which is put together by John Montague. It's one of those books that you'd find for $6.98 in the Bargain-Priced area of Barnes & Noble (One of my favorite sections) but it's full of great poetry spanning many centuries. I'll often find myself drawn to these books (I have a few on Irish Horror in such a way) in hopes that they will spark something in my brain.

Bobby McFerrin is also sparking some serious creativity lately (Yes the Don't Worry, Be Happy guy. But has also 10 Grammys to his name and is the most amazing vocalist and vocal improvisationalist in the world). I love the idea of mixing music & magic and McFerrin's style really inspires me to find new ways to inject vocal music into magic. I have sung in my live shows in the past, but any time I've attempted to combine vocals and magic, it hasn't turned out the way I wanted. Darren Romeo is a magician who is notably fantastic at doing this (and a past counselor at Tannen's Magic Camp which is where I first met him), but it's certainly not the style I'm going for. Also I'm only looking to highlight this in one piece of magic, as opposed to a whole show.

Finally, an idea that is maybe 1 to 2 years from coming to form is adding a grand illusion to my show. The best way I can describe this is a piece of magic that usually involves another person such as sawing in half, production, suspension, levitation, etc. Unfortunately, due to the cost and the amount of effort it will take to put this into a show, it is quite a bit down the line. Especially since I usually refuse to use an illusion "as is bought" and will have to remake it to fit a theme which means rebuilding, repainting, and hoping I didn't destroy it in the process. This is on top of creating a story for the illusion, choreography, figuring out music, practicing it until perfect... all of the stuff that SHOULD be going into a magician's creation process with ANY routine (Unfortunately, as I have seen time and time again, this is nowhere near the case).

There's a little glimpse into my current creative process. My brain is a squishy place. But it's okay... they know me here.

-Much love,
Daniel
GreenWolfMagic.com

Sunday, January 31, 2010

JK Rowling: The Fringe Benefits of Failure

This is a very comforting speech to hear for me, especially in this cold, unprofitable, & stressful January time. I hope someone else gets something out of it, as well.

JK Rowling: The fringe benefits of failure | Video on TED.com

-Much love,
Daniel GreenWolf
www.GreenWolfMagic.com

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lectures, Car Crashes, and Free Knock-Off Ipods

"It's easy to maintain your integrity when no one is offering to buy it out."

-Marc Maron

So the last couple of weeks have been full of all kinds of Magicfulness (In one way or another). Last Friday, I had the pleasure of lecturing at the Tricky Business Magic Shop in Hicksville, NY. It was a really great group of magicians that seemed to not be annoyed by what I had to say. I've only done a handful of lectures in the past, and hopefully this will be the beginning of many more to come.

Things got even more interesting post-lecture. I went to a local diner with John Reid (the owner of Tricky Business), one of his employees Brian and his lady Amanda. On our way out, we noticed this rather odd prize-vending machine game. I decided I had to give this odd looking creature a try and I ended up winning an Ipod Shuffle. (Okay, it was a Chinese Ripoff of a Shuffle, but a victory is a victory dammit. And it seems to work alright... don't take this moment from me!)

Anywho, on the way back from Hicksville, I noticed John's car on the side of the road next to a heinous crash where the demolished car was sitting without a front end in the farthest left lane. I stopped and realized John was just lending a hand so I also attempted to help. The crash occurred on a major highway just around a bend so needless to say, the demolished car almost got hit 5 more times in the 10 minutes we were there waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Is it impossible for people to slow down when they see a bunch of cars with their hazard lights on? Are people so mentally vacant while driving that they see people waving them to slow down on a highway that they figure "If I go REALLY fast, maybe I'll be invisible" (Although the thought does border on theoretical physics, I doubt the drivers are that deep).

I know it's always going to be a problem, but moronic drivers have been affecting the lives of those around me quite regularly lately. Between my roommate getting hit by a car as he crossed a LIT CROSSWALK, Losander (a phenomenal magician and creator) gets t-boned by a driver who goes right through a red light, my friend's son gets into a vicious accident... sweet fluffy monkeys people! Open yer friggin' eyes when you're driving! Sorry about the outburst. As someone always on the road, it's a personal buggery of mine.

In more pleasant news, with rehearsals for the Renaissance Banquet at the end of February in Stratford, CT (You need to login to Facebook to see the link) in full swing, I'm really getting into the spirit of collaborative play. I have peculiarly high standards when it comes to a performance I'm involved in, which sometimes makes me come across as nit-picky and controlling, but everyone else involved is aware of this and know when to listen to my thoughts and know when to tell me to stuff it. It's going to be a great show.

We are also inching close to Wicked Winter Renaissance Faire in NJ the 3rd weekend of February, I'm both excited and nervous. It's always a wondrous time and I have no doubt of that, but I'm going to be doing an effect I haven't done since last August. It's a rather involved escape which actually has some dangerous elements to it, and this time, I'm going to be using bondage experts to tie me up (It IS that kind of Faire). It's a little nerve-wracking to say the least. I'm spending the remaining weeks retraining my body to deal with the extra stress of holding my breath for longer than my big-ness wishes. I'm not quite back to where I was in August, but hopefully the next 3 weeks will fix that.

As some folks can tell, I'm trying to define where this blog is going to go. Part philosophy, part updates, part stories, part ramblings... are people liking what I'm putting up here? Is there something you want to see me write about? Let me know in the comments, folks.

And a quick shout out to Scooter, Losander, and Galen for a speedy and full recovery!

-Much love,
Daniel GreenWolf
www.GreenWolfMagic.com
On Twitter / On Facebook / On YouTube / On MySpace

Friday, January 15, 2010

Coping with the January Lull

Behold the fool saith, "Put not all thine eggs in the one basket"--which is but a manner of saying, "Scatter your money and your attention;" but the wise man saith, "Put all your eggs in the one basket and--WATCH THAT BASKET."

-Mark Twain

Being a professional magician, you get just as many highs and lows as any other self-owned business. Statistically, January acts as the preparation month for the rest of the year, primarily because you don't have much else to do (And although the whole Conan v. Leno thing is intriguing... there's not too much I can do about it...Go Conan). So I've spent my January doing a few random gigs here and there, redoing the website, sending out press kits, and preparing for a lecture to Magicians in NY.

The untrained eye might consider this "keeping myself busy" or "waiting for something to come up" but the truth is that it's actually keeping myself focused on the job. I think the biggest downfall of magicians trying to make it professionally is that they lose focus. So many take these low points as an unsolvable problem and just "wait by the phone" or worse, take it as a sign they should take a second crap job to "soften the blow"... then they start relying on the second job. They turn down magic gigs because they can't miss work and then BAM... they make the transition from professional magician to hobbyist in denial. Then eventually, after a few years, just a hobbyist.

Now, please know I have nothing against hobbyists. In fact, I know some awesome hobbyists who have created some great and indeed legendary magic... but they're not running a magic business at that point. And to be in show business, you have to embrace both parts; Show AND business.

I have been told by some that to run a business, you have to compromise your art and I certainly believe it's not so. In fact, there is an altogether different art to running a business. But aside from that, I think if you you're focused on the type of art you do, then you will find an audience to buy it. In my case, my show is highly adaptable (I am a Shameless Whore, after all), but I often have to find ways to tell new clients that. It sometimes took a bit to tell corporations that I was what they were looking for and didn't want a suit & tie type performance. Luckily, they usually end up listening.

I'm eternally grateful to have a better half who slaps me back into focus when I fall into the occasional Am I a Failure-type depression that plagues many of my magician cohorts. I also have a great family that helps in this problem. And it's not like I don't do other things to supplement my income aside from performing magic. I've built websites for other magicians, I host karaoke, I've done tarot readings for corporate parties... but I've never let it get in the way of magic. And the fact that all of those side jobs are connected very wholly to performing or the business doesn't hurt either.

What's my point? Keep focused on your goals. Don't let the low points scare you away. If you put a fall-back profession into place... you're more likely to use it. Much more likely. Maybe it sounds pessimistic to some, but the idea of not having a net keeps me much more focused on the high-wire.

To leave you folks with a really cool TED talk that focuses on the subject of success. It's only 3 minutes but it's very interesting.

http://www.ted.com/talks/richard_st_john_s_8_secrets_of_success.html


(If you don't know about TED.com, this is a great time to learn. It's VERY cool.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Welcome Special Hell-Mates!

This shall become the future home of many mindless "frothing-at-the-mouth silly" posts of me, Daniel GreenWolf.

For those who don't know me- I'm a professional Magician of 14 years, I perform at Renaissance Faires, corporate events, and private events all over the USA.

I'm also a shameless ├╝ber-geek who delights in the social awkwardness of my recreational past times.

You'll most likely be seeing various posts on my journeys as a magician, my loves as a geek (that hopefully other geeks will love also), and any other blather I wish to push out into the world. I hope you enjoy reading it.

In any case, Much love.
D.G.

Gods I'm pale. I must be Irish.