Technology & The Magic Business

I’ll say this right up front: I hate computers. And to a certain degree, I hate technology. Mostly I think it’s because when it breaks down, it’s not user-friendly to fix.

When I think about this in relation to computers, I have zero patience when I get some weird error code on my screen. It’s a series of jumbled numbers and letters that is literally designed to be read and interpreted by computer programmers. I sincerely wish the error codes would say, “Busted harddrive” instead of a jumbled mess of symbols.

But I fully acknowledge that’s not realistic. That’s like someone saying, “I wish the French language looked and sounded more like English.”

The reason why I’m writing about technology and the magic business is the sometimes conflicting attitudes some magicians have about technology. I know some magicians who love their computers and can run circles around most of the population yet cling to the oldest, dustiest beliefs in magic and whom never update their act.

Last year in my neighborhood, a local magician performed at my town’s library. I saw the act and from the props right down to his tux – yes, he wore a tux for a library gig – everything looked like it was bought and paid for in the 50′s. Everything was faded and worn, right down to some of the most outdated “jokes” I’ve ever heard, some of it right from Tarbell.

(And for anyone out there who thinks the hallowed pages of Tarbell can do no wrong, remind me to point out some of the most blatantly racist patter lines ever recorded in magic came right out of Tarbell.)

Then there are other magicians who love the latest nigh-tech equipment in magic. They have all the latest in thumper technology, electronic reels and so on, but they run their business of magic by the seat of their pants, scribbling show info down on the back of receipts and stuff. I know a local agent who’s like this. I get a call from him about once every three years and he insists he’s been trying to get in touch with me, and why haven’t I told him when I changed my number, etc.

Funny thing is, I haven’t changed my number in 11 freakin’ years.

I’m sort of in the middle of those two spectrums. I run my business cautiously with my computer. I have 20 or so electronic stage props (most of Sean Bogunia’s and Peter Loughran’s stuff) but I don’t jump on the latest fads. I’m extremely careful about what I buy.

The reason why I’m writing this article is because of what happened to me last weekend as I was flying out from home (near Buffalo, NY) to Omaha, NE. I stumbled sleepily through airport security at about 5:00am and sat down at my gate. As was habit, I double-checked to make sure I had my gear with me in my carry-on. Additionally, I always carry a paper copy of the gig info, what I call my “Show Info Sheet.” This sheet has the gig info – location, what show I’m doing, etc.

I realized to my horror I’d forgotten the show info sheet, probably because I’m currently balancing my two businesses – magic and clinical hypnosis, and both are racing along at breakneck speed to the point where I’m struggling to maintain my sanity.

“No problem,” I thought. I pulled out my trust laptop and booted it up – sure enough, I had a digital copy of said show info sheet saved in my invoice file for this client.

Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to type in my hotel info into the sheet, and I’m too cheap to pay 8 bucks for an hour’s worth of wifi at the airport so I couldn’t use my laptop to go online to look up my hotel info. Fortunately, I had my trusty iPhone with me, with it’s own wifi. Two minutes later, I had my hotel info saved in a “note” on my iPhone along with my show info so I wouldn’t have to keep booting up my laptop on the plane.

So then I landed in Nebraska, got my rental car and suddenly realized I forgot to pack my GPS. I was really out of it for this trip! No problem – my wonderful iPhone doubled as a GPS…and to make things more magicial and fun, I noticed that when I typed in the address for the hotel & gig info into a “note” on the phone, it was underlined/highlighted. I touched the address and the address immediately came up on my “maps/GPS” app on the phone. Success really is one step away!

Some of you may be reading this and saying, “Step into the 21st Century” whereas some of you may be saying, “Hey, that’s cool!”

The point is, technology in magic is very cool and I think I’m hooked.:).

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