Archive for August, 2006

THE LAST WEEK HOME

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006

This is out last week home. For all practical purposes, the fall comes rushing at us on Labor Day, Monday, September 4.

We leave that day for our first show of the fall tour in North Carolina. We drive back home immediately after that show so I can catch a 6am flight to California for a week of meetings. So, we’re trying to get ready.

The new marketing DVD is almost complete. David is working on the menus and I’m trying to finish up the final editing. And we’re waiting on Tim to get us the new television commercials – which look very cool!

Still, lots of stuff to do. I’ve been reading in 2 Thessalonians in The Message. This book talks about lazy people who had infiltrated the church there. Some of them weren’t even real believers – they were just taking advantage of the kindness of the people there. Paul ended up writing, “Don’t permit them to free load on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us…And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately – no excuses, no arguments – and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty.”

Sounds like Paul had a real work ethic! But the verses that really got my attention came from Chapter 1 (verses 11-12): “Pray that our God will make you fit for what He’s called you to be, pray that He’ll fill your good ideas and acts of faith with His own energy so that it all amounts to something. If your life honors the name of Jesus, He will honor you.”

These are great words and instantly became my prayer. I want my life – my ideas and actions – to have a greater purpose.

END OF THE WEEK

Saturday, August 26th, 2006

We finished up the week feeling good about what we had accomplished. There’s still alot to do but we’re chipping away at it. We did finish some of the segments for the new US Tour DVD.

Some of you may remember my blog entry of April 12, 2006 – DEATH VALLEY. We finished the edit for that segment – or at least a trial edit – and have posted Part One for your enjoyment.

I’m going to try and enjoy what remains of my weekend. I don’t even want to think about all that has to be done starting Monday.

WORKING FAST AND FURIOUS

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

It never seems there are enough hours in the day to get done all that needs to happen. Maybe I just keep too much stuff going at the same time? Hmmmmm, possible!

We are in the office this week working fast and furious to complete several projects before the Labor Day holiday. David and I are both editing video; Cindy is working on pulling together show stuff for the road; Kylie is working on media and marketing. No one ever thinks about all the works that’s done “behind the scenes” to keep a show on the road.

Well, off to work!

LAST SHOW AT THE AMERICAN THEATRE

Monday, August 21st, 2006

This was a great run for us at the American Theatre – another sold out performance for the matinee on Sunday. Matinee audiences are always a bit different from an evening crowd. I’m not sure if it’s the psychology for going to a show during the day versus the evening that puts one in a different frame of mind or what, but audiences are always a bit more reserved. It’s not that they are less enthusiastic or that they don’t enjoy the show. It’s just that they choose to respond differently. And it could be that matinee audiences always include more children than the evening show.

Regardless, the audience on Sunday was great fun. They responded well to the show and many took the time to stay afterwards and talk with me in the lobby.

After we packed all the illusions and loaded the trailer, we went out with some friends of ours who were at the show – Andrew Payne and the gang. We had a great meal at a local restaurant and then drove over to the oceanfront. Andrew has a show on the Oceanfront called PAYNE: MAGICK FOR THE DARING. It’s a great combination of storytelling, mentalism and magic that weaves an experience for the audience that can be unnerving and a little creepy! The show was awesome and we all had a great time.

Today is a crazy day. I still have so many things to do in the office and, tonight, I’ll be back in the studio taping some additional footage for our new promotional video.

SHOW #2 AT THE AMERICAN

Sunday, August 20th, 2006

WOW – what a great audience tonight!!! Everything just seemed to click with this crowd! We had some fun volunteers on the stage – including the Secretary of the Treasury for the Commonwealth of Virginia. She was great and a wonderful assistant.

The house was sold out, something we always like to see. And the comments in the lobby at the merch table afterward were very gratifying. We love it when people have a good time. That’s our job!

Tonight was a good night. Tomorrow is our last show here – a 2:30pm performance that is almost sold out. With any walk up buyers at all, it should sell out quickly.

FIRST SHOW AT THE AMERICAN THEATRE

Saturday, August 19th, 2006

Today was the first show of three in our weekend stay at the American Theatre in Hampton, Virginia. We enjoy working with Michael, the executive director, and Mary, the technical director. Her crew is great! We were loaded in and set up fast…giving us some time to continue to tweak the intelligent lighting that we’ve designed for this year’s production.

The audience was wonderful! I was fearful, as you might have read in yesterday’s posting, that the audience might be a bit slim competing with all the summer events of the beach. However, I was wrong! The audience tonight was exceptional – fun, enthusiastic and very responsive. And almost a full house! The entire staff at the American Theatre does a great job of marketing and advertising.

The DAILY PRESS printed a wonderful article today about the show. You can find the article entitled, “It’s a Totally Magical Experience,” at www.dailypress.com. It included some of our photographs and I think that generated some last minute ticket sales. The phone in the box office was really off the hook today…selling tickets for all shows. The really exciting thing is that the next two shows already have had good ticket sales with the Sunday matinee almost sold out even before the article ran!

Tonight was fun and I’m looking forward to the next two shows here!

AT THE BEACH

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

We arrived in Hampton, Virginia tonight for a series of three shows – Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon. The weather is much cooler that we had expected, about 75 degrees! If that holds, we might get really good crowds! We always enjoy performing here – this is our fourth visit to the American Theatre – but we’re competing with all the other events of “summer at the beach.” Crowds can sometimes be a little slim. When we are here during the year, shows sell out much quicker.

Regardless, this should be a fun adventure this weekend! And we’re looking forward to visiting with all our friends from the American Theatre!

NEVER FORGET…

Monday, August 14th, 2006

That morning, almost 60,000 people woke up, got dressed and went to work in the largest office building in the world. 2,749 of them didn’t survive the day. On September 11, 2001 at 8:48am, the United States of America changed forever. What we thought could never happen here, did. And our sense of security was shattered.

Cindy and I went to see WORLD TRADE CENTER, the new movie by Oliver Stone. It doesn’t make a political statement. You never see the face of a terrorist. What you do see are the heroes, hundreds of them. And you look more intently into the lives of two men who were trapped inside the rubble of the fallen towers.

Thanks to the courage and perseverance of hundreds of rescue workers, 20 people were pulled out of that rubble. John McLoughlin and Will Jimeno were numbers 18 and 19. And this movie tells their stories in a deeply emotional and realistic way. But their survival was only the beginning of an entirely new story filled not just with gratitude and hope but also with pain, anger, and guilt.

This movie shows us a happy ending, two men rescued and reunited with their families. We must remind ourselves that theirs is only a smaller story within a much larger one. We have yet to see the happy ending to the events of that day. We have yet to see the story of the evil men who did this – our enemy – exposing their beliefs, their motives and the emptiness of their souls. We continue to avoid confronting this truth because of some new thought of sensitivity and political correctness.

Regardless of what you think about the war in Iraq, the politics of George W. Bush, or the military leadership of Rumsfeld, none of us should ever forget the events that changed our world on September 11, 2001.

WHO’S IN CONTROL?

Saturday, August 12th, 2006

Joanie left for Vegas early Thursday morning. We woke up to the news that another international terrorist attack had been thwarted by the British Secret Service. The details are still sketchy but it looks like the plan was for several radical Islamic fascists to take down as many as 10 aircraft flying from the UK to the US, killing thousands of innocent people, all in the name of Allah. What’s with that? I’m having a very difficult time understanding the rationale behind a faith or system of belief in which hiding behind innocent woman and children like a coward, strapping bombs to your body, or killing just to be killing the “infidels” is a “god” worthy of one’s allegiance.

I don’t believe that every Muslim is a terrorist. But, at this point, most every terrorist since the destruction in New York City on September 11 has been a Muslim. Does that mean we condemn all Muslims as terrorists? I don’t think so. We need to be as understanding of their religious beliefs as we want others to be of Christianity. Understanding doesn’t mean that we agree with their beliefs or follow their faith. But when the media portrayed all Christians as extremists when some misguided “Christians” were bombing abortion clinics, those who follow the faith were outraged at being lumped into such a group. Many felt that Christians were being unfairly labeled based on the actions of a small, extreme group.

Some people think that Christianity is an intolerate system of belief. And I know the history of Christianity can certainly point to horrible episodes of injustice and intolerance through the centuries. But the Leader of Christianity, Jesus Christ, was very tolerant and reached out to all people. He was often condemned because he chose not to hang out with the social or religious elite of his day. One of the reasons I choose to call myself a Christ-follower rather than a Christian is that I don’t want to carry the baggage of the wrongs that have been done in the name of “Christianity” and God. I follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. I am a Christ-follower. Those teachings affect the way I chose to live; how I conduct my business; how I relate to others; how I view the world. They have a positive impact on my life and my relationships.

We have to understand that for most Muslims, Islam is about peace and tolerance. But there are those Islamic clerics around the world who insist that the rules are fixed, written centuries ago and must never be questioned or adapted to changing cirumstances – whether the issue is ill-treatment of women, the persecution of minorities, barbaric punishments or just general intolerance.

Much the way Christians believe the Bible to be the revealed truth of God, Muslims believe the Qur’an to be the revealed truth of Allah through Muhammad, providing guidance and the rules to govern social life. But what about those passages of the Qur’an that seem to promote needless violence? One of the verses most often quoted (Qur’an 2:191) seems to command Muslims to “slay them wherever you find them.” But who are “they?” Is it any non-Muslim or “infidel?” One merely needs to read the preceding verse to find the answer: “Fight in the cause of Allah those who fight you, but do not transgress limits; for Allah loves not the transgressors” (2:190). In subsequent verses, Muslims are called upon to stop fighting when the opposing party ceases its aggression.

Al-Hajj Talib ‘Abdur-Rashid, imam of the Mosque of Islamic Brotherhood in Harlem, says Muslims are “commanded by Allah to lead peaceful lives and not transgress against anyone, but also to defend ourselves against oppression by ‘fighting against those who fight against us.’ This ‘jihad with the hand’ is the aspect of jihad that has been so profoundly misunderstood in today’s world.”

Misunderstood? Many of these Islamic fascists who are using terrorist tactics to kill innocent people believe they are martyrs for their faith. Qur’an Chapter 3, verse 172: “Of those who answered the call of Allah and the Messenger, even after being wounded, those who do right and refrain from wrong have a great reward.” So to claim martyr status, all terrorists have to do is convince themselves that they are fighting for “justice,” which is, of course, highly subjective. Imam Hendi says that the terrorists think if they hurt Americans, then they serve the cause of justice.

Lots of people are fearful and confused about the events happening in the world. Personally, I believe that God is aware and interested in how these events affect us as individuals. And individual responsibility is all that God requires of us. In Romans 12 of the Bible, the writers says:

“Love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down. Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody. Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody. Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. ‘I’ll do the judging’, says God. ‘I’ll take care of it.’ Don’t let evil get the best of you; get the best of evil by doing good.”

BRICK WALL REHEARSALS

Tuesday, August 8th, 2006

We’ve been working for several days on polishing and finalizing the WALKING THROUGH A BRICK WALL effect. Joanie Spina – the best director and movement coach in magic – arrived on Saturday night. We’ve been working steadily ever since…and we’re making some wonderful progress!

It’s not all work though; we do get to have some fun along the way…