Archive for October, 2006

THE ARTS CENTER, IA

Monday, October 30th, 2006

This was an excellent day for us! Keith Christie, the TD, was on top of his game and had everything ready when we arrived. Things that did need to be adjusted were managed quickly and with a great attitude from everyone on the crew. As a result, we were in and up in record time! We even had time to sit down and eat before the show – that’s rare! A big thanks to everyone on the crew and to the great staff at the Arts Center!!

Keith Barber and Michael Hammersborg drove down from the Twin Cities to hang with us for a couple of days. Michael is being interviewed to assume David’s responsibilities as Illusion Manager so it was good that we could meet and get to know him better. For those of you who have our ASIA DVD, you’ll remember Keith as one of the show technicians (sound).

The show went very well. The audience was so responsive AND verbal! I could hear them from the stage – which is always nice – gasps, laughs, groans, mumblings. It made for a really fun show because they were so ready to have fun. The local magic club – Omaha Magicians Society – had several of its members in attendance. David arranged for me to do a quick “meet and greet” with them privately. There were about 20-25 of them and they seemed to enjoy the show.

Now, we’re driving and driving. We made it from Council Bluffs, IA to Danville, IL yesterday. That’s about 569.2 miles! We’re up early this morning and heading home. I’d like to make it all the way there because I have so much work to do in the office and we’re only going to be home for a couple of days before we’re off to Rhode Island.

Time to get coffee and hit the road!

COUNCIL BLUFFS, IA

Friday, October 27th, 2006

We have arrived in Council Bluffs, IA for our show here on Saturday night at the new theatre, The Arts Center.

We spent a couple of days in Kansas City to relax and finally saw THE PRESTIGE. It was a good movie, but not what I had expected given the reviews. One thumb up and one thumb down from me.

We are in full speed preparations for Asia, trying to get cases in order and manifest lists compiled. Our supply guy, Tom Pitts of Thomas James Productions, is working hard to get us everything we need to make the trip a technical success. We’ve been working with Tom for several years now and don’t know what we would do without him. He keeps us stocked with everything we need to keep our show on the road. His company is based in Terre Haute, IN but he provides technical support, special effects, and any number of quality stage items to people all over the world. We’re fortunate to be one of those clients!

We’re going to enjoy our evening and the beautiful weather – no rain and in the 70′s!

FARMINGTON & BRANSON, MO

Wednesday, October 25th, 2006

We had a GREAT time in Farmington, MO at the Centene Center for the Arts. The local presenter here, Betty, had worked very hard to make this event happen. “Cardinal Fever” had overtaken the area since the St. Louis Cardinals were playing in the World Series. Our show was a 3pm Sunday matinee but the game didn’t start until around 5:30pm. We were hoping that was going to pull people in – and it did. We had one of their biggest crowds and the audience was wonderful. The crew of the Center was organized and the show came together well. I love performing in these smaller communities where most people know one another. The audience interaction takes on a whole different feeling. We were mostly impressed with the number of young adults (18-25) who were at the show! We’ve already received several emails from people commenting that they had a wonderful time.

The next morning we took off to spend a day or two in Branson, MO – the “Vegas” of the Ozark Mountains. We pulled in around dinner time and I had the chance to get together with an old friend and great magician – Kirby VanBurch. Kirby brought his production to Branson in the early 90’s from Vegas – big cats and all. While several other magicians have since set up their shows here, I still think he’s the best magician in Branson – “The Prince of Magic” as his advertising says.

Yesterday in Branson was really full. We headed out for a quick lunch and then went over to the Branson Mall to watch Taylor Reed perform in THE MAGIC OF TAYLOR REED. The show moved very quickly with lots of energy and some good illusions. He was very gracious to us and we had the opportunity to get together after the show and talk while enjoying a soda.

After our time with Taylor, I gave Kirby a call and all of us – me, Cindy, David, and Kylie – met him over at his theatre. He’s in the middle of setting up his Christmas show that opens November 2. He gave us the “behind the scenes” backstage tour of the building, including the area where he keeps his tigers, panthers and lion. Kirby’s a really great guy and we appreciated his time very much.

Last night we checked out another magic show here in town, Justin Flom. Justin is the youngest magician performing in Branson and still has some things to learn, but the show was fun and his energy was great – especially in such an imitimate show room (only holds about 100 people). One of the greatest moments of the evening was connecting with another friend, Gary Bartlett, who was also at the show. We’ve known Gary for a long time and have talked/emailed several times over the last few years but it’s been more than 10 years since we’ve actually seen each other. It was a nice surprise!

As I write this, it’s early and I’m going to get together for breakfast with Kirby before we head toward Council Bluffs, IA. The weather is turning colder and the seasons are changing quickly. We’ll be driving most of the day today.

WATER PUMPS AND REPAIR MEN

Saturday, October 21st, 2006

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am very meticulous when it comes to the maintenance of our truck. I never want to have any problems on the road that might jeopardize our ability to get to the next show. Before we left on this trip, I had the truck in for a “complete once over.” I had the transmission and rear end serviced, the oil changed, the chassis lubed, the radiator and thermostat replaced (thanks to Death Valley), the belts checked, gages replaced, etc.

With the exception of a tire or two (you can read about those in my blog from a few days ago), everything with the engine has been great. Last night we pulled into Festus, MO just a few miles from our next show. I noticed a drip under the engine and, upon closer examination, realized this was coolant and it was leaking at a steady pace. I called my mechanic at home to see what it could be. Conclusions? Either a leak in a hose OR a “weep hole” as he called it. Basically I either had a hole in a hose or a hole in the water pump. Obviously, one is more serious than the other. I called a local repair service – Interstate Rescue – and talked to the guys there. Within an hour, they had a repair man at my hotel to check it out. Bad news – it was the water pump!

He spent about an hour checking things out and getting the old pump off..and, yes, it’s all on video. Then he had to drive up to St. Louis and pick up a new water pump from the International service center. He was back in an hour, had the new pump on, and the truck was running smoothly once again.

I’ll keep my eyes on the coolant reservoir through the day today as we drive but all should be well!

On another note, the weather has begun to change in the Midwest. While it’s still kind of warm at home, the cold front is moving through and temps are dropping fast. We head to up to Council Bluffs next weekend and it’s starting to snow there. I hate snow.

WELCOME TO MY LIFE

Friday, October 20th, 2006

A friend of ours, Greg, emailed us a song called “Welcome to My Life” by a group called SIMPLE PLAN. It’s a great song with very appropriate words that describe the way many of us live our lives. You should check out the group. The CD is called STILL NOT GETTING’ ANY.

Greg, incidently, is the creative mind behind this website and many of our video edits. He’s working on another project for us right now that should be completed by the end of the month. Greg has a lot of great ideas but the one thing that brings me back to him project after project is his integrity and commitment to doing the best job he can within the budget constraints I give him.

The other thing that I admire about Greg is that his faith is reflected in his work. What I mean by that is simple. Most of us don’t find ourselves in jobs that are “spiritual.” Sometimes the work we do seems to be nothing more than a means to an end – how to pay the bills and provide our lifestyle. There are some words in the book of Hebrews (the Bible) that say:

Through Jesus then, let us continually offer a sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips that give thanks to His name. And do not neglect doing good and sharing with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased.

Great words but what do they really mean. The first thing that strikes me is “fruit of our lips.” Anytime you have fruit, there has to be some kind of growth or root. So, whatever comes out of my mouth actually comes from something (a root) that has taken hold deep inside me. I think that’s why the Bible often says that what comes out of the mouth is actually coming from the heart.

The beautiful thing about “continual praise” is that our attitude can turn anything – any task, any job, any mundane thing – into an offering to God. Sometimes our sacrifice is our work. The way we do our work can reflect something good about the character of God.

One writer wrapped it up like this:

Everything on earth (except the wrong things we do – sin) can be done as an act of worship to God. Everything we do is worship when we do it for Him, displaying His face as we go. The question is not what you do, but who you do it for. Your calling is to turn your place in life into a place of true worship. To do whatever you do in a way that will reflect God’s heart to those around you. It’s to worship…as you life your life.

That’s very cool! And that’s what I believe Greg does in the work he does for us. And, hopefully, that’s what we do every time we take to the stage and perform.

BETHLEHEM, PA

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

We arrived in Bethlehem, PA on Monday afternoon around 3pm. Just as we were pulling into the hotel, we saw that Andre Kole and his team were arriving as well. Once we all got loaded into our respective rooms, we made plans to visit a very unusual destination. With the help of one of the local magicians, we spent the evening with Joe Long (a collector of magic – both new and old). His place was absolutely incredible and filled with great pieces of magic equipment. It was a great night!

Wednesday morning started with breakfast with Andre. Then I had a radio interview and a newspaper interview to do. Once those were completed, Andre, Cindy and I met for the rest of the day working on a couple of projects. And when I say we met all day, we talked ALL day without leaving the hotel room – brainstorming new ideas, discussing scripts and dialogue for an important DVD project, and much more. It was a very busy but very productive day.

It was kind of weird too. I didn’t see David or Kylie at all until about 9:30pm! I’m so used to seeing them, especially when we’re on the road. Yesterday just felt odd.

Today, we all jump back into the rig and head for Farmington, MO!

LOWELL, MA

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Friday the 13th didn’t bring us any bad luck, but Saturday the 14th wasn’t a great day. We were going to make a leisurely trip to Lowell, take our time and visit a great mall in Nyack, NY. We pulled into the Palisades Center and had a relaxing day. As we were leaving, I had to make a very tight turn. Into the turn, I (once again) heard the unmistakable sound of escaping air – NOT AGAIN! I could see in the side mirror that I had blown out the very same tire that I flattened last weekend in Frostburg.

Now, it’s Saturday afternoon and the chances of finding a place that will change a truck tire are pretty slim. We decided to get back on the interstate and head toward Massachusetts. While I drove, the rest of the gang searched through repair books and made phone calls until they found someone who could fix it – in East Haven, CT!

We made it to East Haven around 5pm and George, the repair guy, met us there shortly afterwards. He fixed the spare – and, yes, we got it all on video for our next DVD – and had us on the road again by 6:30pm. Just in case, I bought another tire since we used our spare!

We pulled into Lowell around 8:30pm and tried to get some rest. Our hotel was also being occupied by a large wedding party, many of whom were staying around us. We had a very early morning load in at Durgin Hall and had to be up at 6am. At 4am, the guests around us were still up and very much awake. It was a nightmare for us and we didn’t get much sleep at all. Morning came way too fast!!

We were up and out of the hotel by 7am on our way to the Center for the Arts in Durgin Hall on the campus of UMASS in Lowell. Our first time here was in 1999, then again in 2002 and now. It’s a bit of a crazy day for us because we do two shows here, both in the afternoon. We only have about 30 minutes to turn the show around before doors open for the next performance. But we had a great day, made all the better by a wonderful technical crew and good audiences.

Now we’re tired – it was a long day and a short night! Tomorrow, we head to Bethlehem, PA to meet up with Andre Kole and his team.

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ

Friday, October 13th, 2006

We arrived in New Brunswick, NJ last night around 6pm. We needed to get in early because the truck has to be at the loading dock of The State Theatre before 8am. The dock is located at the back of a public parking lot which get slammed after 8am.

The drive to New Brunswick was fairly easy though traffic around Balitmore was backed up due to a huge, ugly accident. Once we took the exit for New Brunswick, we saw signs everywhere – CONSTRUCTION. The State Theatre is located in the middle of downtown – narrow streets and tons of traffic. After a few harrowing experiences on one way streets, low hanging stop lights and millions of cars, we just took the rig to the hotel and parked.

Finally, around 10pm, we decided to try and get into the loading dock. The parking lot still had quite a few cars in it but, with some maneuvering, we backed in. We load in the show this morning for an 8pm performnace tonight. IT’S FRIDAY THE 13TH!

CRAZY DAYS!

Wednesday, October 11th, 2006

I’ve said it before but…when we come home for a few days, it’s always so crazy! We’re trying to get ready to leave for about 3 weeks so that means (1) packing plenty of clothes, (2) making sure the office is ready to “take on the road, ” (3) sending out all the information that people need before we get out of here, (4) general advance and media work for upcoming performances, (5) and way too much other stuff to list!

I did an interview with our local newspaper, The News & Advance (http://newsadvance.com/), for an article that will appear on Sunday. It deals with magic in pop culture and should be interesting. You can check it out online this Sunday, October 15.

So, it’s been a bit crazy the last couple of days. I think we’re on top of things and ready to pull out of Lynchburg first thing Thursday morning. The State Theatre in New Brunswick, NJ is our next stop!

DAY OF INTERVIEWS

Tuesday, October 10th, 2006

My job isn’t only about performing. It also involves doing a lot of interviews and publicity for upcoming performances. Kylie, who works in our office and on the road, does an excellent job of arranging all of those interviews for me – newspaper, radio and television.

Today is a day of interviews. Actually my first one was yesterday morning at 8:30am. Today they started even earlier – 8am with the SUNRISE program on WUML for the show on Sunday in Lowell, MA. They continue throughout the day today. At 1pm I have a newspaper interview for a story the reporter is working on about the role magic fills in our popular culture with a tie in to two current film projects, The Illusionist and The Prestige. The day continues with another interview at 3pm with a newspaper in Missouri for our scheduled performance at the Sentenne Center on October 22.

In between the interviews, I’m going to try and get some work done!