Daniel Madison has released what looks like an incredibly tedious project where he goes through and explains shit from Erdnase. It's called Madison x Erdnase and you can get it on Ellusionist. You know, if you're, like, in one of those Brewster's Millions situations where you need to get rid of a bunch of money and you're completely undiscriminating about what you buy.
But what has everyone's nuts in a coin-purse is that he says this:
"I'm better than Erdnase, and I can prove it."
OOOhhhh... why!? Why, Daniel? Why must you insult our beloved Erdnase?
Now, here's the thing... is Daniel Madison better than Erdnase? I would hope so. Erdnase blows. The book certainly has some value as a historical document, but the tricks in that book are a dreary mess and the writing is completely lifeless.
Yeah, but is he better as a gambler/card cheat than Erdnase was?
Well, I wouldn't be surprised. Watch anyone else's project on Erdnase, or watch them teach a move that's taught in EATCT and they'll often say, "This is how it's taught in Erdnase, but here is how I do it." The implication being that they're better than Erdnase. Or at least know better than Erdnase.
The evolution of the art and science of magic/sleight-of-hand should suggest a lot of us are better than people practicing it 100+ years ago. We have the benefit of their experience to build on. That's not a dismissal of their contributions, it's an acknowledgement of them.
If you love Erdnase, then you should love Daniel Madison too. They're pretty much the same thing: monotonous, pretend gamblers. I doubt either of them played a hand of cards with anyone other than their grandma in their entire lives. The only difference between the two is Daniel dresses like he's an extra in a period-piece drama that takes place in Williamsburg, Brooklyn circa 2007.
If you're turned off by the advertising for this set, just remember you're probably not their target audience. Look at his goofy fake apology he posted on youtube. It's like he's Ric Flair cutting a promo. He's doing a pre-pubescent's idea of a tough guy. Which goes along with the ad copy for the book which is directed at 14-year-olds with self-esteem/confidence issues. It's a bunch of words that are supposed to sound meaningful but read like gibberish to anyone who graduated 8th grade. It's very reminiscent of the ad-copy for this edition of Erdnase that I commented on back in 2015.
There's almost nothing compelling that you can say about Erdnase as a product (as opposed to as a piece of history) so you just have to kind of spout nonsense. I feel bad for whoever had to try and come up with this garbage.
I think I'll study the 8 hours over the course of "decades." Two seconds a day for 40 years is about my speed with this sort of thing.
Does no one at Ellusionist own a red pen? "This challenges the norm we've chosen to accept." Is the first thing you cross out with a note saying, "This means absolutely nothing. I get that we're trying to imply there's something new or revolutionary here, and we can't just say 'Daniel Madison is out of ideas so he's hitting the public domain magic books to see if there's anything he can scrounge up there,' but certainly we can find something more meaningful than this shit, right?"
"Disguised in the Erdnase palette"? I don't think that means what you think it means. And I'm pretty confident saying that because it doesn't mean anything, so if you think it means something you're mistaken. Those words aren't intended to go together.
"[T]his smooth green collector's box invites the fingertips." Finally! My fingertips have been longing for the welcoming feel of "smooth" for far too long.
This is how little there is to say about the contents of this set. They're all like... "Uhhhh... well... don't forget to mention how smooth the box is!"
"Surprise is in the opening, value is in the owning." And "copywriter" is not in the job description of whoever wrote this. I'm available, Ellusionist. Thejerx@gmail.com.
Oh, and it should be "its predecessor."
Resting "weightlessly"? The fuck are you talking about? Ah, yes, finally the incorporeal version of Expert at the Card Table you've always wanted.
And a custom foreword? Ooh-la-la, you mean a foreword written specifically for that book? Those are my favorite types of forewords! So much better than those generic forewords you sometimes get. You know, like the one at the start of Moby Dick
This is a book. There are pages and a cover. Read the pages one-by-one until there are no more pages.
You can put this on a bookshelf or in a bookcase. You can also donate it to the library when you are done.
Enjoy this book.
According to the ad copy, you get Daniel's annotations to the book. And judging by this image, the annotations consist of drawing shapes around the illustrations. This is helpful for knowing where the illustrations are.
The project also comes with two hideous decks of cards.
My favorite part of the video on the product page is when Daniel says the design on these cards is the same one "used by Erdnase himself." Uhm... bitch knows it's a book, right? Those are illustrations. I'm pretty sure they put a little scribble there to indicate the back of the card, not because that's what the cards actually looked like. He must know that, right? Although I hope he doesn't. It's funnier if he doesn't. By that logic Erdnase himself is just a pair of disembodied hands that float in the air because that's all they show in the illustrations.
I'm on no one's side in this debate. I think the fetishizing of EATCT is corny as shit. Therefore I think getting worked up about whatever Daniel Madison has to say about it is stupid. And I think the project itself is completely unnecessary. The truth is, the only way he was likely to get anyone talking about another snooze-inducing tour through EATCT was to make a statement to rile up a bunch of goofball magicians.
Actually, I changed my mind. I'm on Daniel's side. I think behind the faux gambler, tortured artist persona, he's probably a decent dude. (Although feel free to write to me and tell me otherwise. I love some good magic gossip.) And he's really good with a deck of cards. Certainly much better than I. He also gets a pass from me because he came up with Angle Z which is an incredibly useful, simple idea that should be in everyone's toolbox. I wish he'd spend more time coming up with new stuff rather than re-hashing old shit. Or, if you're going to rehash old shit, go put out a treatise on Mark Wilson's Complete Course In Magic. You won't get cool points, but it's something that might actually be used to show people a good time. There's no need to master EATCT unless your goal is to only perform for other magicians, which is a rather useless, insular, magician-centric, masturbatory exercise.
I'm better than Stan Allen and I can prove it.
The second issue of The JAMM comes out later today.
Magic has long been about creating a fake persona—the magician, the mind-reader, the gambling expert—and then trying to fool people with supposed manifestations of these fake personas.
The style I prefer is where you present magic as a normal human (yourself) and everyone involved knows it's fake, but it's fun, entertaining, and surprising so that makes it worthwhile. That's the type of magic The JAMM features.
Hey Andy, I didn't get into magic because I had a great personality that people liked being around! My style is to perform as the "Gentleman Conjuror." I read EATCT and pretend to like whiskey.
Okay, whatever dude! To each his own.
Issue #2 is 30 pages. 30 pages! (Don't get used to it.)
By the way, I encourage you to read the reviews in The JAMM even if they're for a product you already have or one you're not interested in. I go on the occasional tangent you might find interesting.
In this month's review of P.A.T.H.S by Matt Mello, I offer a way of presenting a certain type of progressive anagram style effect without guessing letters. Without any yes or no responses. Without asking questions. Without the spectator saying anything. And it works 100% of the time and it's really strong.
If you subscribe before 12:01 AM, New York time on Tuesday the 7th, your subscription will begin with this issue, #2. Anything after that will start with the April issue which comes out April 6th.