Archive for November, 2007

THANKSGIVING IN AMERICA

Friday, November 23rd, 2007

Today is Thanksgiving Day, a time in America where we are supposed to reflect on all the things in our lives for which we are thankful – our freedom, our families, our friends, our faith, our fortune (whatever that might be), our future, etc.

We have so much for which we are thankful – all of the above! We enjoy the freedom of being a U.S. Citizen; the freedom to pursue our dreams without limitations; the freedom to become anything we want if we’re willing to work hard at it.

I am especially thankful for my family. Cindy is the most amazing person in the world to me. She loves me unconditionally and she completes me as a person. I love every minute that we are together. My mom and dad are great examples of love and faith. They’ve always been there for me, for all of their children. Their support, encouragement, concerns, and prayers are evidenced in the lives of each one of us. And I am thankful for great brothers and a sister!

And we spent Thanksgiving Day with some wonderful friends – Chris, Pam, Spencer, and Neil – who prepared a great feast for all of us to enjoy!

I hope each one of you will take a moment and remember the good things that are happening in your life during this time of thanksgiving.

IT’S SATURDAY

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

It’s Saturday morning and Cindy and I are getting ready to head out for a little run and relaxation. It’s been a short but busy week. We didn’t really get back into the office full swing until Wednesday. I’ve been really busy trying to move everything from my Toshiba PC over to my Mac. I think the switch is complete – thanks to my friend Chris who helped me with many of the programs. I still need to get a little better organized with the files, but I’ll be working on that this weekend.

My parents drove up this week from Arkansas. Cindy and I had the chance to visit with them on Wednesday and Thursday for a while. My mom and dad are the greatest people I know. They are so full of life and compassion. I am so blessed to be one of their sons.

Nolan, Keith, and I unloaded the equipment into the warehouse. We have several things to work on before heading out again in December. And then we dropped the rig off to Tommy (our mechanic) who is going to put a new engine in it for us. We were thinking about rebuilding the one we have but it’s much more cost effective just to put a new one it – plus it comes with a better warranty, etc. I should be able to get another 500,000 miles out of the new one!

HOME AT LAST

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

We are finally home!! It’s been a very long tour this fall, challenging at times. But we had some great shows, wonderful crews, and exceptional audiences. Now I get to spend some time setting up my MAC so I can get down to business.

It’s good to be home….

HEATHMAN MANOR – MELROSE, MA

Tuesday, November 13th, 2007

We drove up to Melrose, MA on Sunday morning to spend the afternoon with the Yee family. They are the owners of a wonderful Victorian home that once belonged to Anna Eva Fay. She was one of the most famous and successful mediums and mentalists of the twentieth century. She was a celebrity and a close friend of Houdini and Kellar and one of the last century’s greatest mind-readers. …and a relative of Jennifer Yee!

Gene and Jennifer extended this invitation to us several weeks ago and we were immediately excited about the possibilities. With a little planning, everything came together and Sunday was the day for the visit! This is a very warm and gracious family. Their hospitality is genuine and heartfelt. We rarely feel so comfortable with people we’ve never met but everyone – Gene, Jennifer, Joshua, and Kyle – was exceptional.

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We arrived in the early afternoon and were greeted warmly with smiles, hand shakes and hugs. We toured the grounds of the Manor including the amazing log cabin in the backyard! Gene and Jennifer shared stories – past and present – adding their personal flair to the history of the house and its famous owner.

There was a picture taken of Anna Eva Fay and Houdini outside the house, in one of the garden areas, peering over a gazing ball. It’s a great picture and Cindy and I had the chance to “attempt” to recreate the pose! All of us took turns over the gazing ball!

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After the outside tour, we moved inside to see a remarkable collection of antique magic and portfolios of articles on famous magicians and, of course, Anna Eva Fay. This is a very cool and charming old house built in the mid 1800′s and in extraordinary condition. We could tell the Yee Family provided a lot of love and respect for the home and the history.

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After the inside tour, we sat in the charm of the kitchen and shared lunch – wonderful treats that they had prepared for us. It was amazing that they knew so many of our favorite things to eat, from Mexican to Chinese foods! It was delicious!! And for desert, a traditional Chinese cake that was cooked/steamed in a wok. Light cake with a thin layer of icing and slivers of various fruits decorating it.

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After some wonderful conversation, we had to climb back in the car and drive back to Springfield. It was a GREAT and memorable afternoon – one we will not soon forget!

This morning, we were up early and heading for Virginia….12 hours later, we’re home and I’m off to bed.

CITYSTAGE – SPRINGFIELD, MA

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Saturday started very early. Springfield is only a 30 minute drive from West Hartford but we had two shows at CityStage – load is was 8am. We left Hartford at 7:15am, stopped at McDonald’s and then continued on to Springfield. We arrived at 8am to find Chad (TD) standing outside the dock door to direct us into position. The rest of the crew showed up just a few minutes later.

This is a very unusual space – modified thrust stage and the audience almost completely surrounds you. AND there is very steep seating in the balcony too that wraps around you and looks down at the stage. Chad did a nice job of redesigning our light plot to make it work in the space but it was still a bit of a challenging day. GREAT CREW here and they all worked very hard to help us figure it out.

Cindy had been running these shows through her brain for the last few days, trying to figure out how to make it all work because there’s also no main curtain on the stage. Everything would have to be set up IN FRONT OF THE AUDIENCE and that would mean Cindy and Nolan would have a lot of backstage choreography moving our equipment on and off the stage. Keith and I worked on the lighting, changing up some of the focus so that they could work in the dark while I was lit in other areas of the stage, giving them a mask of darkness to get things into position. It worked beautifully! They did an outstanding job. There were a couple of times that I would introduce the next illusion and it was as if it just “appeared” on the stage.

Coming in on Saturday, we knew that both shows were completely sold out. When I had the chance to see the President of CityStage, she told me that they could have sold out five shows! We were almost sold out in September and in the following weeks, tickets went very quickly. They said we’ve been sold out now for more than 3 weeks. But they also did a wonderful job with the marketing here – newspaper coverage and a drive-time radio interview.

Both audiences were really outstanding. We are also a bit fearful of the matinee crowd, generally more children, and the people are not quite as enthusiastic or responsive as an evening crowd. This audience proved us wrong! And I had the chance to meet many of them in the lobby afterwards.

During the break between shows, we ordered some local Chinese food with Susan’s help (the house manager). We ate and had some time to relax before the 8pm show. We opened the doors earlier than usual to allow for the crowd to get into the auditorium. The Saturday evening show was mostly adults – the 18-35 crowd with a few older people. I love this demographic – they’re skeptical volunteers that give great reactions!

After the show, I met with people in the lobby to sign a few programs and pictures. It’s a humbling experience to hear people tell you how much they enjoyed the show. I certainly don’t take any of this for granted. We are living a dream and I hear about it almost every night from someone in the crowd who says, “I would trade places with you guys in a second.”

It’s Sunday morning and we are renting a car to drive up to Melrose, MA to visit with Gene and Jennifer Yee. They own a very famous “magical” house that once belonged to Anna Eva Fay. I’ll write more about it later. It’s going to be a fun and relaxing day!

HOFFMAN AUDITORIUM – WEST HAVEN, CT

Sunday, November 11th, 2007

Hoffman Auditorium is a beautiful theatre located on the campus of Saint Joseph College in West Haven, CT. We are here for a public performance and as soon as we arrived, we were greeted with the news that tickets were selling extremely well. The technical director – Howard – worked a little magic of his own and got us into the venue earlier than we were scheduled. There was a conflict with an event happening earlier in the day that was going to be a bit of a challenge but Howard worked us through it.

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The entire crew was so fun and so professional. We had no issues setting up anything and the show went up quickly. It was 7pm before we knew, doors were open and the audience started arrive. By showtime, the place was very full with an excited crowd that we could hear backstage! We knew this was going to be a fun event tonight!

I really enjoyed this show! As a performer, you get so much energy from your audience. This crowd was so energetic is would have been difficult NOT to be inspired by their responses and reactions. When we finished up the first half with Windshear, they were cheering.

We heard some wonderful comments from the audiences afterwards and the Executive Director told me this was a much younger audience than they generally attract with their performances…and a much larger one too!

After we packed it all down and loaded it into the trailer, we enjoyed a nice time with Howard and the crew. Howard took the time to order some food for all of us and we gathered in the Green Room to eat and get to know one another better. It’s something we don’t have the chance to do very often and we all thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! Definitely a time we will all remember – thanks to everyone for making out day in West Haven memorable!

SOTA – QUINNIPIAC UNIVERSITY, CT

Friday, November 9th, 2007

We traveled from New London, NH to Hamden, CT on Wednesday. They were expecting some snow in the NH mountains but, thankfully, it didn’t arrive! We left out in sunshine and warmer temperatures. It was a beautiful drive but very remote. I accidently passed White River Junction, VT – our only stopping point for food!

We stopped in Springfield, MA to do some shopping at one of our favorite malls – Holyoke Mall. Cindy finished up her Christmas shopping I believe! She had lots of packages anyway.

Tonight, I worked with the Student Occupational Therapy Association (SOTA) from Quinnipiac University in Hamden, CT. They invited me to do a workshop for some of the OT students at the university. We had a good crowd of students who were eager to learn the magic and challenge themselves with their classroom knowledge. It’s always a good exercise to have students put into practice the things that they learn in class. That was the purpose of the workshop tonight – and they were great.

I really enjoyed spending some time with the Board of SOTA afterwards. They are going to be great therapists when they finish school and get into the world of occupational therapy!

SAWYER CENTER – NEW LONDON, NH

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

We were at the Sawyer Center in New London, NH on the campus of Colby-Sawyer College last night. Driving up through Vermont and New Hampshire was beautiful – but I had forgotten how mountainous this region of the country is! Many of the leaves have already fallen from the trees but there is still lots of amazing color up here.

We arrived in New London around 7pm and got checked into our hotel. Then Keith, Nolan, and I walked up the road about 1/2 mile to the Flying Goose Pub and Restaurant to order some food. This is a very rural area and this was the only food available for about 30 miles in any direction.

As we walked up the hill toward the Flying Goose, it was impossible not to notice just how DARK it is out here! And the sky was spectacular – clear with millions and millions of stars filling the darkness. There is no way to put into words just how spectacular and beautiful this is. Breath-taking!

SAWYER CENTER – We arrived at the venue around 11am. We were here several years ago and Mike Lovell, the TD, was prepared for us. Everything went great through the day – just one snag with the monitors, but other than that, things were good.

There was a lot of excitement on campus about the show and they had received numerous phone calls from the public as well. People started showing up early and moved into the theatre to get a good seat. We could tell from the first illusion that they were going to be an excellent audience!! The show moved along with a lot of energy, both on the stage and in the crowd. The finale brought spontaneous gasps and instantaneous applause!

I met some wonderful people after the show – area magicians and those interested in magic. One of the guys – Billy – was also a big fan of Keith and Andrew’s podcast, Go Magic Go.

We had the privilege of working with a great group of people here at CSC’s Sawyer Center. It was a long drive from Georgia to New England but we’re off to a great start.

THOSE THOUGHTS ON “FAITH”

Tuesday, November 6th, 2007

I wrote a few days ago that I’ve been reading some things about faith and that I would be sharing some of those thoughts. While I believe “faith” is individual and personal, I would like to share just a couple of things that I’ve come to believe. These are random but here it goes.

Faith is our handle on what we can’t see. It’s what we believe that makes a difference – and those beliefs are played out in our actions. It is impossible to please God without faith. Why? Because anyone who wants to approach God must believe both that He exists AND that He cares enough to respond to those who seek Him.

God has something better for us, now and in the future. Our faith keeps us focused on that goal in spite of the complications and tragedies, temptations and failures, we experience along the way.

John wrote, “Live deeply in what you were taught. Live deeply in Christ.” Those are really amazing words – “live deeply!”

Our faith helps us get back up and continue to move forward when things are complicated or when we feel knocked down. We are in this “race,” this “adventure” of living life. And there is a purpose and a goal for each of us to reach. Jesus was a part of this same “adventure” but he stayed focused on the end of result. We should study how He did it – how He lived His life. I liked this, something I read in Utmost for His Highest:

“The Lord does not give me rules, but he makes His standard very clear. If my relationship to Him is that of love, I will do what He says without hesitation. If I hesitate, it is because I love someone I have placed in competition with Him – namely, myself. If I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God.”

TRAVELING TO NEW ENGLAND

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

We spent the day yesterday in the truck – all day. We left Newnan mid-morning and drove for about 6 hours to Jonesville, NC (yeah, that’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere). It’s beautiful up here – colder weather and the tree leaves are beautiful. I guess I’m going to have to put the shorts away and get out my jeans the further north we travel.

I’m hoping that we can make Allentown, PA tonight. That’s the goal anyway. It’s Sunday so we shouldn’t hit a lot of traffic.

Articles are beginning to run in area newspaper for our performances this week. This one ran in the CONCORD MONITOR on Friday for our show at the Sawyer Center coming up on Tuesday. And this one ran today in the SPRINGFIELD REPUBLICAN for our performances at CityStage next Saturday.