Monday, February 22, 2010

Criss Angels Mindfreak: Secret Revelations and other rambling



One of the things I did during my three weeks plus of shingles related problems was to spend more time praying. After all I still had work to do and "prayer is work related". Interestingly, I think I got a lot more done! Of course I know this in theory - I have even preached on this ... :-) but it was nice to experience it practically. I think being unwell forced me to be more focused? Hmmm...

Anyway it was also a time where I decided to put the FOTF Pastor to Pastor CDs in my car. I bought a stack of them (sale for USD 1 each). The first one I put listened to (now on the 2nd CD) was on the theme "Pastors Unplugged". Reminded me that I needed to relax more and spend more time with my hobbies.

Since gardening was currently too painful, I realized that I have not enjoyed a good book unrelated to ministry for a long time so I surfed trademe and found, bid and bought for NZ$10 each - Criss Angel's Mindfreak season 2 and his book, Secret Revelations. (Yeah Trademe!!)

So here's a quick review ... and before that the other picture is one of my salad plants with a nice slug in it (two actually) which is nice as it is a reminder that my vegetables from my little garden is pesticide free. Tasty too :-) Oh and back to gardening the last couple of days! :-)

Ok, on Criss Angel's book ...

A very interesting easy to read book where Criss shares about his life - from his childhood to the present, about his family (very important to him), his philosophy of life and magic, why he does what he does, how he thinks, his inspirations etc. The book closes with 40 mindfreaks. Oh, if you have no idea who he is, go here and here.

A lot of interesting nuggets that helps me understand why he is "that good" (in magic) as well as give me food for thought on how limited my thinking about magic is. I was left very impressed by his incredible determination and how he overcame tremendous setbacks to get where he is today.

It also helped me understand why he seems unfazed by the bad press he is getting for his current "Believe" show. I don't agree with parts of his philosophy of life and even after understanding why he does the kind of magic he does, I still personally am uncomfortable with a lot of what he does but I do admire his work ethic and integrity... On his relationship with his manager Dave Baram....

I grew up believing that a man is as good as his word. If I tell you something, it gets done ... We are blood brothers. We literally cut our hands, let the blood seep through, and shook on the deal. We have no paper contract. We have no need for one. Our commitment is mutual. Our goals are shared.

I don't personally "approve" of such blood brother rituals but I can certainly agree with his thinking - a man indeed ought to be as good as his word. And after reading about all the broken promises made to him in his career, I can't help but admire how he still sticks to his principle and belief and risk his whole career and livelihood (yet again) on a handshake.

I think some more quotes from the book would best illustrate why I enjoyed the book. There are many so here's a wide selection

My philosophy on magic is simple: Think of something completely impossible and then figure a way to do it. It's not easy but he sure makes for great headlines.

I do think of many "impossible" magical ideas but hahaha can never get passed the first stage of finding a solution :-(

You name it , I was willing to do anything and everything. I was the man under the baseball cap and dark sunglasses passing out flyers promoting MINDFREAK, ... No job was too small or daunting to distract my attention from the big picture, even the odd jobs .... sweeping the stage ...

Ah .. if only more people in ministry and leadership had such "tunnel vision" and the willingness and do even the "menial tasks" so that God's kingdom is made known!

The real question isn't, 'Is it a trick?' but. 'Was it done well?'

Perspective!!

I kept all the rejection letters I received over the years as my personal inspiration to prove all those doubters they were wrong.

Here's someone who really believes in who he is and what he can do. Sounds a bit arrogant though :-)

It's so important to develop a personality that people will identify with your magic. You never want your audience to get bored with you.

This actually encouraged me as I am not technically very competent in my magic skills not do I have the natural agility or fancy props etc but at least I know that no one has complained about me being boring. :-) Whew!

You can take a mediocre performer, put him in the most amazing Cirque du Soleil show and he will still be mediocre, because its just not in his soul. He's lacking passion. When people try to re-create my demonstrations, they don't know what my intention was when I created it. They approach it from a superficial perspective without knowing my motivation.

Passion!!

There are lots of people working who are far more skilled in using a deck of cards or coins that I am, but I guarantee you'll fall asleep watching them because they don't understand how to make a connection with their audience and the relevance of engaging them on an emotional level.

Good book. However, the most disappointing part of the book was his 40 mindfreaks which are simply basic magic tricks that you would pick up from introductory magic books or videos. Not to say that these 40 tricks are poor magic tricks as I think some of the simplest effects can play very big when done well. But simply because these tricks cannot be considered mindfrreaks (by his own definition) which is 1. "A Modern -day mystifier who uses skills beyond the category of magic."
2. The result of something incomprehensible. 3. Criss Angel (a pretty bold claim but I do think he deserves his own self accolades)

Ok, off to take a nap, gardening was pretty tiring :-) and maybe later watch a couple more Mindfreak episodes

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