Some people wonder if I'm happy that the Magic Cafe is much less relevant in the magic world. The answer is no. I preferred the time before facebook, instagram, twitter and snapchat where the Cafe was the place people would go to discuss magic. It kept all the morons in one place and it made Steve Brooks feel important. Guys, he had fucking Derren Brown as a special guest on the Cafe back in the day. Now he might as well have the cut-out of the kid in the Forgetful Freddie routine as a special guest. He would have as many interesting things to say and would be more popular than the people he's had in there recently.
No, I'm not happy that everyone has bolted the Cafe for greener pastures. Yes, I saw it coming 12 years ago and tried to warn Steve. And yes, instead of correcting people's grammar or getting his prodigious panties in a bunch about someone using the phrase "ding-dong," he should have been modifying his forum to allow people to more freely exchange ideas, allowing people to upvote content that was helpful, intelligent, or funny and downvote trolls, idiots, and inappropriate content to oblivion. If he had, he would have had a modern message board that could have been useful. Instead he has that pile of shit he has now.
And more importantly, because no one gives a shit about his site anymore, it's much less interesting for me to do fun things like completely take it over as I did in September of 2005 with my Least Interesting Thread contest.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Alright, this contest is the balls. I'm really happy with it.
First, here's what you can win: Any book, DVD, or effect. (Be reasonable and try and pick something under $50.)
How do you win? Simple enough, you just start the least interesting thread on the Magic Café
Here's how it works (Read this part carefully):
1. You start a thread at the Café that you feel will get the fewest views and the fewest replies.
2. You "register" that thread with me by sending me an e-mail with your username and a link to the thread.
-- You must do steps one and two by Wednesday night at midnight, my time (New York City).
3. At some point on Sunday I will calculate the score for each entered thread. The score for each thread is calculated as:
The number of views + (The number of replies squared) = Total score
4. The thread with the lowest score is the least interesting thread and is the winner.
Play Offensively: Post in sections of the Café that not many people visit (You can post in any part of the Café except the sections that require a minimum number of posts to visit). Post really boring thread titles like, "Anybody know any good magic stores in Lidsville, Nebraska?" (Don't actually use that example, or anything too similar though.)
Play Defensively: You can try and sabotage other people's entries. If you see a thread that looks like someone trying to have the least interesting thread, start replying to it, hence raising (worsening) their score. Try to create drama in other people's boring threads which will make them interesting and cause other people to view and post in those threads.
So you may want to post uninteresting threads in unread parts of the Café; but that might draw too much attention to them, so you may want to post average threads in sections of the Café that have some readers and hope to fly under the radar. I don't know what the right strategy will be.
You can start and register as many threads with me as you want. My hope is that we'll flood the Café with really boring and idiotic threads. My suspicion is that this will happen but you won't be able to tell the difference.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Thanks for inspiring me to come up with such an awesome contest. This is the most fun I've had with a contest since this site began. This is even better than the Magic Café fan fiction contest which was pretty sweet.
PS- Okay everyone, you have until Midnight EST tonight to post your thread(s), and you should register them with me by sometime tomorrow at the latest. And as I mentioned yesterday, even if you're not participating I suggest heading to the Cafe and seeing if you can determine which threads are entries in this contest. There's some fun stuff going on there.
Thursday, September 15, 2005
The Time for Creating New Contest Threads Is Over
If you created a thread before midnight last night, you can still register it with me anytime today.
There are literally hundreds of posts related to this contest on the Cafe right now. Some are obvious, some aren't so obvious. Some threads seem like obvious entries in this contest, but they're not. In fact, some threads are getting deleted that had nothing to do with this contest. This is exactly what I hoped to achieve. The Cafe staff can't tell the difference between someone trying to sound uninteresting and one of their normal member's postings. This is great.
Anyway, you have until Sunday to raise other people's scores, I'll announce a winner on Monday.
Monday, September 19, 2005
The Least Interesting Thread Winner
Camcorder Case from Target(or Target.com online)
Hey, I just came back from my local target and wanted to share this with you guys:
[Link to camcorder case.]
If you look it is kinda like other close-up cases offered by magic dealers but this one has some good features like:
-Inside is padded for your props
-There is a divider in main compartment
-Mesh pocket in lid can carry decks, ropes, ect
Also the shoulder strap is nice if you carry other cases with you in your hands.
Good luck with this, and tell me how you like it!
That, friends, was the winner of the Most Boring Thread competition. It had the low score of 120 (or so, I don't have the details with me as I write this post). This post was made by Daegs, who also had the second lowest scoring thread Falling Cup by Robert Campbell(Hocus-Pocus).
There were certainly other posts that were probably technically more boring than this post, but there's a reason why Daegs won. I encouraged participants to sabotage each other's threads by posting responses to threads that they figured were part of the contest. That seemed like a good strategy to me when I mentioned it, but the way it played out is that once people found out you were sabotaging their threads, they found the thread you had posted and started sabotaging it. So Daegs decision to fly under the radar and not attempt to raise other people's scores is what allowed him to go unnoticed.
He did two other things that threw people off his trail too:
1) He encouraged people to comment on his post, "Good luck with this, and tell me how you like it!"
2) He replied to his own post.(A strategy, I believe only one or two other players used.)
Last night, at my direction, Daegs posted the following message on that thread to verify that he was the one I was communicating with via e-mail.
Ok, hot tip -- I just saw an almost identical box at
Walmart and it was 3 dollars cheaper.
[Link to case.]
It is a different color, but they only want $5 for shipping instead of $8 at Target, saving you 10 dollars and also giving you a black box!!!
Thank god for walmart!!!!
Something I forgot to mention, but I also like that it has a key. It's very important to keep magic secrets safe.
And there you have it. The most boring thread at the Café. I'm going to save the rest of the stories for a post-mortem of this contest later in the week. I want to thank the people who have said I could disclose their username and I'm hoping to hear from some more of you as well. If anyone wants to write up a report of their experience with the contest, I'll post it later this week.
Oh, Daegs asked that I donate the $50 prize to the Red Cross Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund, which I have done. I'd like to think that the people who read this site regularly would have faith in me to do this, but I know that the Steve Brooks and Glenn Bishops of the world would claim that I never made the donation, so here is a screenshot of my computer containing part of the online receipt.
[2015: The screenshot has been lost to time.]
One last point (until my final post on this subject), there were 278 threads started on the Cafe between September 12th and the 14th. Just over half of these were entries in this competition. In e-mails to me, more threads were misidentified as being part of this contest than were accurately determined to be participants.
Thursday, September 22, 2005
The Least Interesting Thread Post-Contest Wrap-Up
This isn't as complete as it could be, but I just don't have the time to write up about every thing that went on during the contest so some of my favorite stories and posts are going to be left out. I'll just have to save them for the MCJ book that's coming out which is going to chronicle the life of this site from behind the scenes including full text of all the legal threats and hate-mail that I've received over the last two years. I'm kidding, there is no book. I just said that to freak some people out.
So here then, are some of my own personal highlights of The Least Interesting Thread contest.
The first submission and the first thread to be deleted:
Mattisdx's thread with a title that was something like: Ungimmicked handcuffs for sale, $599.99
It wouldn't have counted anyway because it was in a restricted section.
Words used to describe this contest in e-mails to me (and how many times they were used)
Great (12), pure genius (3), a blast, brilliant (8), glorious, inspired, ingenious(3), awesome, the best, fantastic, sweet, killer, diabolical
A few of the threads people thought were in the contest, but weren't:
Sleepless In Seattle [2015: This one ended up getting deleted.]
Neil Patrick Harris aka Doogie Howser
Things that I liked the best about the contest.
That people who were in on it and people who weren't in on it were interacting in the same threads and the people who weren't in on it didn't seem to notice that anything was awry.
That threads were started and conversations were had about non-existent people and places.
That a community of saboteurs arose.
Some of my favorite posts because they were so dumb:
I've just been thinking, why not have the number of posts to join the banquet room set at 52 instead of 50, like a deck of cards.
Just a thought.
I'm looking for egg bag effects that would be considered magician foolers. I'm new to egg bag effects, so another criterion would be that it not be too difficult - too technical.
Not looking for reputation makers, but magician foolers.
The other day, I was walking around in the park when a family asked me to take their picture. I did, and we got to talking, and they found out I'm a magician. I had a deck of cards on me, and ended up giving them an impromptu show. They liked it so much, they bought me lunch at the concession stand. That was a tasty tip!
(Timmy had a lot of dumb posts. This is my favorite of his.)
The Jordan Malfreed Saga
A guy going by the username JordanMalfreed had a pretty good strategy.
First, he made this post in the "Oldies...but goodies" section of the Cafe which was a favorite section for people in this contest. (You'll notice that this post has the only overt reference to the contest during the contest by Tyler Wilson.)
He then went and posted messages on about 50 other threads in the Oldies…but goodies section which pushed his thread off the first page. Very clever. But the Café doesn't like it when you start posting a lot, they get suspicious. So they deleted a most of his posts, whether they had reason to or not. I don't know if they knew exactly what was going on, but poor Jordan's strategy was blown.
That led to Jordan's next entry in the contest.
You can read the PMs between Jordan and the "Chief of Staff" Dave Scribner here.
(I think) This is the only thread in the contest that seemed so legit that it didn't get any replies.
I read somewhere in an old issue of Genii Magazine that there is an early version of the Zombie Ball done by Howard Thurston, in which the gimmick was constructed so that it could be performed using a partly transparent foulard. I don't care so much for the info on the prop or the maker so much as actually possessing it. If anyone owns the gimmick, I am willing to buy it for a high price. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have such a gimmick as soon as possible. Thank you.
[That thread has been delete too.]
Things people wrote to me in e-mail that made me happy:
I'm a simple man. I'm happy when other people are having a good time so I was very happy to receive a lot of e-mails from people saying how much they were enjoying themselves. Here are some of the things that it pleased me to hear during the course of the contest...
"Love the blog, the laughs I've had looking for entries to the latest contest on the cafe made the hours at work fly by."
"Pete Biro is merrily joining in with spoof threads as if they're genuine ... the sad old fool ... or maybe he's one of your agents ... only you know!!!!"
"Congrats on the funniest contest ever. I am laughing so hard from the posts I'm crying."
"What I found most fascinating of all was that I would browse through and find threads which were obviously and blatantly competition entries yet when I looked they were actually started sometime before the competition began, like one in the "thats funny" forum about pulling a worm out of the ground."
Before the winner actually went ahead and did donate his winnings to the Hurricane Katrina fund, I received this idea in an e-mail…
I thought of a way to win the competition, I was going to write a post `Magic Circle Jerk competition, don't read this and I'll donate the $50 to Katrina fund'.
I thought that was a pretty good idea, but it probably wouldn't have worked.
My personal favorite saboteur
Asper [2015: That link no longer works as Asper, predictably, got the boot.]
There were a lot of people who made me laugh with their follow-up posts to obvious contest entries, but Asper's stuff was really brilliant.
The Most Popular Least Popluar Thread
Of the threads that were registered for the contest, the one that got the highest score (the most popular one) was this idiotic idea by Jon Townsend:
This is to folks who have silver shifters and the copenetro item as well.
I like that trick. A lot. Late last night it hit me that it might be possible to make the thing MORE mysterious if the coins could appear SILENTLY. So before plunking down a hundred dollars just to get started I figured to ask here if someone has gotten the thing to work with their silver shifter? I have no problem doing a switch our AFTER the appearances, and might even go for a mirror glass in the method somewhere, BUT I still NEED the coins to appear in SILENCE.
To those who have the items, do you think the thing would work with silver shifters? I thought about asking for a clear latex glass, but figured that would be a long shot.
Thanks in advance.
An interesting experiment
This is a great experiment because it has a control built into it. Here's the exact same thread posted twice.
First, when the contest wasn't going on.
One reply, not much help.
Then, when the contest was going on.
A whole bunch of replies, still not much help.
Why hasn't Brooks deleted the winning thread?
There are two possibilities here.
1. He's using it as bait to bring out MCJ fans and then ban them all at once.
2. Maybe he realizes that this contest was ultimately harmless and fun and he's not that mad about it. There was a time, when there were only a couple magic blogs, that any reference to a blog on the Cafe would get deleted. I don't know that they can keep up that tactic anymore. So maybe he decided that he's got to pick his battles and not get worked up over every little thing. I hope that's the case. He might think that by not responding to the contest and not banning people or deleting posts that he will be taking ammunition away from me. I don't need ammunition. This site will thrive with or without Brooks acting like a douchebag.