At first glance, you might assume that the title of this month's column refers to the biblical passage which reads, "So went Satan forth from the presence of the Lord, and smote Job with sore boils from the sole of his foot unto his crown." But that's not the case. This month's title refers to the fact that (at the time of this writing) I have been at the MAGIC magazine reviewer's job for 2 years and 7 months. The scripture passage is just an odd coincidence, as is the fact that Satan is an anagram for both Santa and Stan A. Actually, I think if Satan really wanted to smite Job, he would have made him a product reviewer. But then again, I'm not so sure that Job would have had the patience.

In the past 31 months, I have written 155,00 words discussing 400 books, videos, tricks, compact discs, and audiotapes. That's about 13 items each month, with the average item receiving about 400 words of text. Of course, some products got longer write-ups, some shorter, and some words were wasted on dumb introductions, such as the one you're reading now.

I'm wasting words (and your time) because I need to reply to some points made in a letter by Jonathan Lomma (Letters, October 1997). Mr. Lomma writes, "The first thing learned by those who wish to critique the work of others for a living..." I do not critique for a living. I'm a professional musician and magician. If I depended on my reviewer salary for my livelihood, I would be living in a cardboard box under I-65. Mr. Lomma writes, ".a recap is not a review." This is certainly true, but I do not believe that the 600 words I wrote concerning the videos in question (the Max Maven Video Mind series) were a recap. I highlighted the routines which appealed to me, commented on the excellence of the performances, the explanations, and the productions values, and told you the reader that I felt that these tapes were an excellent value for the money. In my book, this was a review. I tried to tell you what you needed to know in order to make an intelligent buying decision. And in that same issue of MAGIC I reviewed 15 other items. Not every product can be given enormous, in-depth coverage. I do not have the time, the energy, or the magazine space. But regardless of the amount of words I use to discuss an item, my goal is always the same: to let you know whether I think the product is worth the money.

Mr. Lomma writes, ".we realize Max is your friend (you've taken the opportunity to remind us several times), but how would you feel if the last words of, say, a New York Times book review were: 'Well done, my friend.'?" Let's take the last part first. What you are holding in your hands now is not the New York Times. The reviews in the New York Times tend to be formal and impersonal. My reviews are informal, anecdotal, and (I hope) entertaining and (sometimes) funny. My writing style reflects my personality. If my style doesn't appeal to you, fine. There are other reviewers out there who write in different styles. Read their reviews.

MAGIC magazine is a trade publication for a small group of people who share a common interest. Within that group is a tiny subset of creators who produce the books, tricks and videos the others purchase. Because I am a member of that subset, I know many of magic's creators. Most of those creators are my friends. I'm happy to say that quite a few are very good friends. Be aware that at least 75% of the time I am reviewing the product of someone with whom I am personally acquainted. This situation produces the most difficult part of being a reviewer: I have to critique the work of my friends. And I must bear the consequences of what this criticism may do to our friendship. In a few cases it has ended friendships. So, if the elimination of the words "my friend" will increase the perceived objectivity of this column I am willing to do so. However, the omission does not change the actual situation. And in spite of the situation (and the consequences) I will continue to give you my honest opinion of the products presented here.

One last thing. If Mr. Lomma, or any of you, believe that the purpose of this column is to con you into purchasing my friends' products, you are not without recourse. Each of the monthly magazines has product reviews. Subscribe to them. Get a second or third opinion. Get on the Internet. Ask around. You have the resources to make an intelligent buying decision. (By the way, speaking of second opinions, I have yet to read a review which contradicts my opinion of Max's videos.)

Sorry to have to take the time to discuss all this. Now back to our normally scheduled program.

Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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