Archive for June, 2006

IN THE AIR

Friday, June 30th, 2006

As I was on my way to the airport for my 6am flight to Miami, my cell phone rang. It was ORBITZ informing me that my flight had been delayed until 10am. I was scheduled to do a presentation that afternoon at 4pm at the International Brotherhood of Magicians convention. I realized I should have left one day earlier to assure that I would be there but I didn’t want to leave that early with everything else we had to do in the office.

As I started to write this, I was sitting in the Lynchburg airport. Delta had graciously rescheduled my flight to US Airways to depart at 7:40am to Charlotte…where I would connect with an American flight into Miami scheduled to arrive at 1:48pm. I would still be in Miami in time to do the presentation, just a bit frazzled by the flight experience.

As it turns out, I arrived in Charlotte and they put me on an earlier US Air flight to Miami. I made it BUT my luggage didn’t. I waited almost 24 hours for it to arrive at the hotel and got the runaround from US Air…then it was finally “located” at an American Airlines terminal. After almost $150 in taxi fares to and from the airport/hotel, I picked up my luggage and had some clothes!!

It just goes to prove, once again, that nothing in our lives is as “sure” as we think or hope it is. Sunday morning, our pastor taught from the book of Joshua. His main point was that life is an adventure. All the uncertainties and difficulties we experience are just a part of living. But that is where faith comes in – trusting that there is a greater purpose found in the seemingly insignificant details of life. There are always lessons to be learned. Patience is a good one!

PREPARING TO LEAVE

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

We finished up a very good week of rehearsals on the new illusions. After many hours of staging, we’ve seen some improvement. Putting together a new illusion for the show isn’t as simple as it might seem. It takes hours and hours – weeks, sometimes months – to get it down well enough to put into the show. We plan to debut these two illusions in the tour this fall.

Walking Through A Brick Wall is going to be really amazing! Now that it’s coming together – the words, music and action – it is going to be a much more dynamic effect than I thought it would be!

I’m preparing now to head to Miami for the International Brotherhood of Magicians convention that starts on Tuesday. I’ll be speaking to the Youth about “life on the road” and then doing a presentation for the attendees on the Healing of Magic.

I’ve heard that attendance is very good this year and there are a number of magicians attending from South America – truly an international convention.

I start packing today. I’ve already shipped out my books and dvds, now I just have to get my clothes together! That’s a bigger challenge than you might think!!

A LONG DAY

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

The last two days have been very interesting. We’re working on a new illusion. Not just a new illusion in our show, but a brand new illusion in magic. No one has ever done this effect before so we’re dealing with new challenges, working out staging and dialogue. We have two of the best consultants in the business working with us on this effect. What an amazing opportunity and adventure. The illusion is Walking Through A Brick Wall. Not since 1914 when Houdini performed it has it been attempted on any stage, at least not like this.

As the rehearsals have gone on, it’s hard not to get excited as I watch the words that have been written come to life on the stage. It’s going to be a great addition to the production and one that we’ll be proud to present on stages around the world.

REHEARSALS BEGIN

Monday, June 19th, 2006

Our choreographer is arriving today to start working with us on a couple of new illusions for next year. She was supposed to be in last night but rain in Chicago (and the fact that O’Hare is never on time) caused a delay. She had to spend the night in Charlotte and will catch the morning flight into Lynchburg.

I am excited though. It’s been a while since we’ve worked on something new that is a major illusion in the show. This week we’ll be working on Walking Through a Wall; a really fun illusion called No Feet; and a mind reading effect, Final Destination. There’s a lot to do in a short amount of time!

IT’S ALL ABOUT ATTITUDE

Saturday, June 17th, 2006

Attitude. It is the thing that separates us from our circumstances. Life throws challenges our direction all the time. Being on the road is a huge challenge these days with rising fuel and hotel prices, insurance, wages, taxes, etc., the cost of doing business gets more expensive every year. And life on the road also brings with it a great deal of personal challenges – building and maintaining relationships, establishing some sort of consistency in your life, separating business from personal (that’s a tough one when you ARE your business).

I could complain about all the circumstances in my life that I don’t like. And I might feel justified in those complaints. But I’d be wrong. My circumstances never cause me as much discontent as the attitude I chose in response to them.

One of my favorite speakers and authors, Chuck Swindoll, wrote, “Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. We cannot change our past. Nor can we change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We also cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.”

Happy people don’t have a certain set of circumstances, they have a certain set of attitudes.

WALKING ON WATER

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

We’ve been having some serious internet problems so I haven’t been able to post lately. I finally connected via a phone line – wow, that’s slow!

Last week, magician Criss Angel “walked on water” on his A&E television program. I’m not sure I’d call what Criss does “illusion” as much as they are “stunts” but I digress. I have lots of opinions about what he does on television and how he portrays his “talents,” but that’s not important.

The point of this blog, though, is the “walking on water” bit. I have had the privilege of working with Andre Kole, the man who created this illusion (and one of the world’s greatest magicians). He’s been performing this effect for almost 20 years and taped it for a Discovery Channel special which aired in December called The Miracles of Jesus. I was there during the rehearsals, watching him walk across the swimming pool in the backyard. And, then, millions watched him on the Discovery Channel as he walked across a lake.

Now, for those of you who don’t know it, the first person to walk on water was Jesus as recorded in the gospel of Matthew 14:25-32. There are so many lessons to be learned from these 7 verses that can change your life. I’ve read this story perhaps hundreds of times but never observed the truths until I read a book called If You Want To Walk On Water, You Have To Get Out Of The Boat by John Ortberg. It’s one of the most profound books I’ve read, challenging me to take a risk – move beyond my comfort zone.

Those of you who read my blog regularly know that my faith is a very important and a significant part of my life. For those who don’t want to read about it, you can skip this entry but I think there are lessons in this story for everyone. Even those whose faith rests in someone other than Jesus.

If you’re not familiar with the story, it’s pretty simple. Peter and his friends (the disciples) got into a little boat one afternoon to cross the Sea of Galilee. Jesus wanted to be alone, so they were boating without him. That’s not a problem. Peter (and most of these guys) had been on boats his entire life. But on this trip, a storm blew in – a big storm. It slowed them down considerably and, at 3am, they were still in the middle of the Sea. According to the Bible, it was at this point that one of them spotted a shadow moving toward them, across the water. As it got closer, it was evident that this was a person – walking on water. And that person was Jesus. When He came to them on the water, he was doing more than a great magic trick. He was revealing his divine presence and power to this group of men.

Peter decided that, if this were truly Jesus, he would ask him, “If it is you, command me to come to you on the water.” Peter wasn’t interested in extreme sports. He was taking a risk and this is mainly a story about his obedience.

There are lots of great life lessons to be found in this passage but John Ortberg wrote words that really hit home with me. I’d like to just quote him because he said it so well:

“Courage alone is not enough; it must be accompanied by wisdom and discernment. He’s (Jesus) inviting you to go on the adventure of your life. But at the same time, you’re scared to death. What would you choose – the water or the boat? The boat is safe, secure and comfortable. On the other hand, the water is rough. There’s a storm out there. And if you get out of the boat – whatever your boat might happen to be – there’s a good chance you might sink. But if you don’t get out of the boat, there’s a guaranteed certainty that you will never walk on water. I believe there is something – Someone – inside us who tells us there is more to life than sitting in the boat. You were made for something more than merely avoiding failure. There is something inside you that wants to walk on water – to leave the comfort of routine existence and abandon yourself to the high adventure of following God. Your boat is whatever pulls you away from the high adventure of extreme discipleship.”

I have learned that being a Christ-follower is a life of excitement and adventure. Challenges are a part of living. How we deal with the storms is up to us and “walking on water” isn’t necessarily easy. But I love the idea of living on the edge with a mindset that God has an incredible purpose for me – for each of us.

MAGIC THERAPY PROGRAMS

Friday, June 9th, 2006

I’ve been working on my lecture presentation that I’m supposed to give at the upcoming International Brotherhood of Magicians convention in Miami at the end of the month. In preparing for it, I’ve been reading a lot of reports from volunteers who coordinate programs around the world for us. I’m impressed with their commitment to people and their confidence in the programs effectiveness. I’m not sure who gets more out of this – the volunteer or the patient.

One guys report really touched me. His name is Jason and he has been volunteering at the National Institute of Health in Washington, DC for three years. Jason wrote,

I’ve seen an elderly patient’s chronic pain wane from time learning jumping rubber band and talking about her grandchildren; a man being treated for behavioral disorders go home to start his own magic career; a patient with a muscle disorder performing a rendition of a rope trick to rival any professional I’ve seen, even with his shaking hands; and the smiles of so many other patients when they know I’ve come in again to see what they’re working on, share the latest routine and just chat. To say that I find the work rewarding is an understatement.

If you want more information on the Healing of Magic, check out the website, www.MagicTherapy.com

666 – JUNE 6, 2006

Wednesday, June 7th, 2006

There was a lot of talk and reports on the news about people who thought the world would end on June 6, 2006 – 6/6/6. But we made it through the day just fine; the world is still here, just as it was.

In Hell, MI, they had a 666 party – Party in Hell they called it. They joked about never saying “when hell freezes over” because that happens all the time in Michigan.

Tuesday was just another day…and life goes on.

LIFE AT HOME

Sunday, June 4th, 2006

We are really enjoying our time at home – cooking on the grill, sitting on the deck, enjoying the house. All the things that we don’t get to do that often during the touring season.

My parents are on their way up from Arkansas for a visit for a few days. It’s always great to see my mom and dad!

We have a lot of projects coming at us this month – both in and out of the office. I’ve started working on the Healing of Magic presentation that I’ll be giving at the International Brotherhood of Magicians convention later this month in Miami. I’ve also been asked to talk at the opening Youth Event at the convention. This is a great group of young people who are really serious about the art of magic and illusion – should be very challenging and exciting for me.

Cindy, David and I sat down on Friday morning and made a TO DO list – things that we have to get done this summer. It’s a two page list! We’ve got to try and work in some “fun stuff” along the way as well.

It’s beautiful here today so I’m going outside to enjoy the weather!