Update 5 - A Gift For Us All

Pledge week is coming to an end. Here is the schedule for the upcoming days.

Tuesday, Oct. 20th - 11:59 PM ET - This will mark the end of the initial donation period. This means the last chance to get the book with the bonuses. 

Wednesday, Oct. 21st - I will be reaching out to everyone who donated individually via email to say thanks and verify the contact info I have, as well as to give them some info about the bonuses to come. If you don't hear from me at some point that day, and you're pretty sure you donated, double check your paypal, and then send me an email

Thursday, Oct. 22nd - I'm going to gather the information I have and come up with a plan for this site. For example, as of now, about 3% of the regular visitors to the site have donated for the book. Since the book is going to be filled with mainly routines and some essays, then that would suggest that those things aren't a big draw for most of the people who visit this site. And that's a good thing, because those are the things that take me many, many hours to create, test-out, and write up. Trying to include stuff like that with some regularity was a huge chunk of my time. So if I can re-prioritize and write-up those sorts of things just for the book and for that percentage of the readership that is particularly interested in them, that will free me up to do so on my own schedule. And not only that but it gives more value to the people who do connect with my style of routines because it gives them some measure of exclusivity.

Friday, Oct. 23rd - I'll update you with what's going to happen with the site going forward. 

And now, a gift for us all.

You know what this site has been missing? (Compared to the old Magic Circle Jerk blog, that is.)

It's been missing some weirdo yelling at me over email. 

Well people, the wait is over. Below you can read what is essentially the only overwhelmingly negative response I've had since this site started. It's not a stone-cold classic like the ones from MCJ, but it has its moments. I included my responses as well so you could follow the conversation.

It all started when I got this email from a "Max Wexler." "Max Wexler?" you ask. "That has a phony ring to it." Yeah, I don't know. Maybe. To me it sounds like a 1980s action-drama on NBC: Max Wexler, PI or Max Wexler, Basketball Doctor or something.

Wait... Max Wexler is the guy from Mars, right? No, that's not it. That's...

Let me tell you about our email interaction. I'm going to copy and paste them here so grammar and whatnot are going to be a little f'd up.

The first email I got from him simply said:

What's the total amount needed to make your goal?

I wrote back: 

The bare minimum to keep the site going in a (reduced) form is to sell 80 copies of the book. That's what's required to break even.

To which he replied:

And how much are the individual copies again??

Why wouldn't he get this information from the site rather than than write an email and wait for a response? Well, because he wanted to engage, of course. I told him it was $260 and he wrote back to say.

So you need a minimum of $20,000 to keep yor website going? For what, an eternity? 

I'm asking these questions because I'm considering purchasing a block of books (ten or more), so I'm wondering if there is a breakdown in costs to used to justify that budget? 

I replied:

Sadly the book elves aren't going to come and leave the books for me while I sleep. A third of the 20 would go to taxes. Another third will go towards the publication of the book. And the last third will be split among 5 people who have given their time to the site in various regards since it launched. Anything above that would be considered profit and would determine how much time I'd be able to work on the site in the future.

Now that we'd gotten past his pretend interest in the book, we could get to what he really wanted to do, which was lecture me about my bad attitude.

Fair enough. 

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with your site. 

You are a clearly a bright guy who knows how to write (and that alone separates your work from most, if not all of the magic blogs on planet earth), on the other hand I disagree with a good half of what you say, especially the stuff about mentalists and the performance of mentalism, in general. 

The trouble (for lack of a better term) is, your snarky, pull-no-punches style is what makes your writing so vibrant and worthwhile, but it also walks a thin line where you can come up sounding arrogant and holier-than-thou. 

I make my living as performer, and it's a very good living (if my previous offer to purchase several copies wasn't an indication of that). And I don't say this to jerk myself off, I say this because you are perhaps a bit too confident in your opinions given that you aren't a professional (as far as I know), and don't have the expereince of working routines into the ground for years until they are ground into a workable pulp. And sometimes I think your too quick on the draw making some rather large assumptions about what works and the many things that don't work when it comes to creating professional presentations, and this serves to undermine your work a bit. 

Having said that, you clearly have your wits about you and your ideas and solutions are often quite clever and that leads me to wonder why you're not a performer. 

So let me ask you this: what is that you actually do for a living? Are you a designer or engineer or a consultant of some sort? I'm not asking you reveal your identity yet, but I'm quite curious as to how you make your living in the world because I admire your thinking quite a bit. 

(On a side note, I don't often add pieces to my set until they've been worked over like an exotic dancer at "red cup" free-for-all frat convention. But just for the fun of it, I threw your Rubiks cube stooge solution onto the end of a larger routine anout finding solutions to "life's puzzles"...and it killed. So, I must give credit where credit is due. 

Now, to be fair, I don't necessarily disagree with anything he wrote there. Except... wait... is he saying that fraternities gang-rape exotic dancers? I don't know that I can fully get behind that. 

I wrote:

Well, the good thing about me is I don't really write like I know something unless I know about. When I talk about things that don't work in magic and mentalism, it's not because I don't like them. It's because I've tested the concepts on people in a formal setting and seen that they don't fool people. As far as I know I'm the only person doing this regularly and actively seeking out real people's thoughts on magic effects and magician's performance.

I'm not a full-time performer because I have no desire to "work routines into the ground." I like coming up with new ideas and moving forward.

Writing is my day-job.

Now, I don't know what tone you take this in, but I can honestly say, there is no tone.

Regarding me passing judgment on things, the only time I say, "This doesn't work," or "This doesn't fool people," is when I've shown people the effect -- ideally performed by the creator -- in a focus group setting. Otherwise, I have no idea if something works. And I'm excited when the testing of a concept proves my initial instinct wrong. Take Miraskill, for instance. I never thought that could fool people. How could it? If you have an equal number of two types of objects and you pair up some of the objects, then obviously the unpaired objects will be equal. How does this fool people!? Well, it does. I've tested it a bunch of times and it's rare that anyone sees the "obvious" logical flaw in it.

You might say, "Well, Andy, you say [some trick or concept] doesn't fool people, but I know it does because I use it in my show." Well, I will happily show a clip of your show to a group of 10 random people and offer them $3 if they can guess, generally, how what you did was accomplished. I'll record the whole thing for you. It won't be pretty. I don't doubt that you've performed certain things and not been called out on them, or even received a nice round of applause for them. Your mistake is in thinking a paying audience will be the most critical when really they're the least.

Moving on. My answer about why I'm not a professional performer is the same answer I give anyone who asks. I'm not interested in doing the same effects over and over. I like thinking up new ideas or working on new tricks or testing new concepts. That attitude is great for an amateur who might perform dozens of times for the same people, but it's not really conducive to performing professionally. As "Max" says, you need to work those things into the ground to be a pro. 

Anyway, I answered his questions as plainly as I could. But that's not what he wanted. I think what he wanted was for me to be like, "Well, gee, Mr. Wexler, you have a good point. Aw shucks, I've been such a little stinker on my site. I'm sorry. You know what I lack? Respect. That's right. Good old fashioned respect for the pros like you. Please forgive me, Mr. Wexler, please? Now about those 10 books you said you were thinking of buying. Whatcha got? A whole lacrosse team you're buying copies for? Well, you'll still buy them, right? Now that I'm on the straight and narrow?"

But, that's not what he got, and this apparently that set him off because he fucking flipped his shiiiiiiiiiiiiiitttttttt.

I regret trying to give you the benefit of the doubt and offering up what was sincere proposal to support your site.

Working routines into the ground via rehearsal so they can be presented  as professional presentations for PAYING audiences--you know, just like Penn & Teller, Copperfield, Tamariz (and on and on and on) is what is called being a professional, you ignoramus. And nice of you to try and misinterpret that statement and then use as a defense of your own rather laughably obvious shortcomings.  

You think that is a legitimate argument as to why you're not paid performer? A 12 year old fledging debate team member could come up with a less absurdly ridiculous defense than that. 

Testing concepts to some woman you picked up in the bar or your friends and family simply in order to approve and/or disprove methodologies that you find to be suspect is what amateurs do. 

You're not a professionally paid performer because you lack the wherewithal, dedication, perserverance, twork ethic and talent to make a living at it. 

You may be a good writer, but you are also a professional dilettante who stands in judgment of actual professionals, while criticizing others from the sidelines and arrogantly suggesting to those who are actual professionals that you know better while hiding behind a soon-to-be-revealed pseudonym...because that's what cowards do. 

My message to you was both complimentary and respectful and contained an offer to purchase several of your books in order to help keep your  site going. And what do you do in response? Act like a cowardly, arrogant, narcissistic blowhard. In other words, you're a real class act. And I think it's time for the professionals in this community to be informed as to your true identity. 

You may try and and hide behind your shitty domain registrar, but that won't last very long, child. 

Thanks for the IP address. It's time for the troll to be smoked out of his little cowardly hiding place. This is going to be so much fun. 

Wowee Zowee!! Did Max have a stroke? Gee, he seems like a delight to spend time with. Completely level-headed.

If you have your old Magic Circle Jerk Bingo cards, make sure to mark off "cowardly," "troll," and, "hiding place."

Max, and others, here are some tips for writing me an email and not having me think you're fucking brain-dead. (Seriously, Max, Terry Schiavo's got nothing on you.)

1. Don't let your opinion of me change based on jack-shit. It makes you seem like a nutcase. You're like a guy who comes up to a woman in a bar and says, "Want to dance?" And when she says no you say, "Well fuck you, you're ugly anyway." In fact, I guarantee you've done that in your life. I realize you didn't think this whole thing through well enough at the start, so for you there was no issue with saying, "Ten books, please," one moment. And, "You're an untalented blowhard," the next. But it completely comes across as someone who is chock full o' shit.

2. When someone quotes you and uses your statement in an identical context and doesn't "interpret" what you've said in anyway, try not to complain they've "misinterpreted" you. The only way to misinterpret your own quote is if you yourself read it differently the second time.

3. Don't you ever, EVER, question my twerk ethic. 

4. Try not to write under a pseudonym and then come back later and suggest that writing under a pseudonym is "cowardly." You, unfortunately, painted yourself into a bit of a corner with this one. "I'm Max Wexler!" Okay. "I'm a successful performer!" Well, at least one of these things has to not be true (I'm guessing both) because there is no record of anyone named Max Wexler who is a successful magician or mentalist. Not a lot of foresight with that ruse, Max.

5. Don't threaten me with shit I don't care about. Track my IP address. Knock yourself out. You'll end up in NYC or LA. You can track anything I've done online back to the source and you will be brought to one of a few people who will be more than happy to take credit as the writer behind this site.  

Although I am curious what your end-game is. Let's say you get to one of my friends, torture them, and find out who I am. What's the plan after that? You're going to out me? Oh gee... please don't. Whatever will I do if a bunch of people find out I write the site that they like. How will I handle all the hi-fives? This idea that there's some cadre of "professionals" who don't like me that I'm hiding from is your own cornball narrative. Mabye that's why you chose a pseudonym, because you're a chickenshit through and through. But I'm not hiding my name from anyone who reads this site. I'm hiding it for them. This way I can be more open about my friends and experiences related to magic because the stories or the secrets won't get back to them. If my name ever became commonly associated with this site it would just mean I wouldn't write about personal stuff. That's all. 

Now, I didn't actually write all this to "Max" because none of his shit really got me worked up. I just do it for your reading pleasure. What I actually wrote Max is below. But I haven't heard back and it's been days. I thought he would write back to apologize for losing his mind, or to lose it some more. I'm worried about him. I hope he didn't need those ten books for ballast on a wayward ship or something. I mean, that seems like a wildly inefficient way of solving that problem, but it makes as much sense as anything he suggested in his emails about why he'd want all those copies.

My actual last response:

What a bizarre way to misinterpret my email.

Yes, I'm not a professional magician because I don't have the desire to work on routines to the extent I would need to in order to perform them for a paying audience. We seem to be in agreement on that. So I don't know how that could be considered a "ridiculous defense." It would seem, "I'm not a professional X because I don't have any interest in putting in the work to be a professional X" is the only defense that matters. 

If you'd read my site, you would know that I test routines and methodologies and performers in front of focus groups of strangers, covering every age range, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. You thought I meant performing for friends and family? How on earth would I be the "only person" doing that.

Now, go back and re-read my email. Tell me where it's "cowardly," "arrogant," "narcissistic," or "blowhard-y." You won't find it. There was no emotion in the email at all. 

If you're trying to argue against my supposition that most people in the mentalism community are delicate personalities with dreadfully low self-esteem who see what they want to see in things rather than what's actually there, you're doing a spectacularly bad job at it. 

You seem mad because I didn't lick your balls because you offered to buy books. You have my motivation backwards. I'm not doing this to push a book on people who don't like me or like the site. I'm doing it to make a book available for the people who do. 

I wish you continued success with your performing career.