Archive for March, 2008

SCHENECTADY, NY

Saturday, March 29th, 2008

We arrived in Schenectady, NY tonight for our show here on Sunday afternoon. It’s a very early load in – 7:30am – so it’s best to spend the night so we’re not driving here from somewhere else!

This theatre is beautiful! They’ve been through several renovations over the years and now, it’s amazing! It’s located right in the middle of downtown and connected to a very cool arcade-like mall – lots of specialty shops and window displays advertising upcoming shows. And the Daily Gazette article written by Jeff Wilkin was excellent!
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Tomorrow will be a great day. The TD here – Keith – has communicated so well with our Production Manager (Keith) that it should be a very smooth day. I’m so excited to get our show on this stage…and we’ve got a great crowd tomorrow! I’ll be writing about it tomorrow night…and if you live in Schenectady, come check out the show!

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And don’t forget to check out the new images just posted on our FlickR page of the show at the Merryman Performing Arts Center in Kearney, NE!

JUST COULDN’T RESIST

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Keith passed this link along to me a few weeks ago. For those of you who are Criss Angel fans, you’re going to love this “blast from his past.” Check it out and have some fun.

CRISS ANGEL ROCKS – SEE HIM SING, DANCE AND PLAY HIS GUITAR!

NOT QUITE SPRING….YET

Friday, March 28th, 2008

After spending time at home in warm temperatures, blooming flowers, and budding trees, I thought winter might be over and spring here to stay. I was wrong. We experienced cold temperatures in Missouri and Nebraska and then started the drive to Upstate New York. We pulled over last night in Elmira, NY just as it began to SNOW! We woke up this morning to several inches and wind chills of 19 degrees. This is the view from my hotel room window.
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The good news is we are very close to Schenectady where we will be performing this weekend. We had a nice article in yesterday’s newspaper, The Daily Gazette. The reporter not only covered the upcoming show, he did a nice piece on his blog on the magic therapy program called Magician Heal Thyself.

If you live in the Schenectady area, I hope you’ll come out and see the show! After New York, we head to Green Bay, WI – where I know it’s going to be cold! Before the show, I’m scheduled to appear on two local morning shows next Thursday – CBS 5 and FOX 11.

I HAVE A THEORY

Tuesday, March 25th, 2008

We’ve all watched gas prices soar over the last few months reaching levels none of us thought we’d ever pay. But what is even more surprising to me is the way that diesel fuel has increased disproportionately to all other fuels! I have a theory about that – and it goes directly to making the public “feel good” about paying over $3 a gallon for gas.

First I believe all gas prices are too high – not because of the record prices we are paying per barrel for oil BUT because fuel companies are making huge billon dollar profits on the sale of their product to the public. They would say that are doing what is right for the shareholders. I say they are taking advantage of a bad situation and abusing the general populace by “defrauding” us all with prices that are higher than necessary.

Diesel is a less refined product than gasoline, significantly less expense is involved in manufacturing it. Yet diesel fuel is almost $1 higher per gallon than gas. Why? Well, if oil companies are going to make these kinds of profits, they won’t make them on the backs of already financially-strapped individuals and families. I believe gasoline would be much higher if these companies charged the proportionate amount to manufacture them. I believe they are passing along the costs associated with refining gasoline to those of us who buy diesel fuel. This helps people feel better about the fact that they are only paying $3.40 a gallon for gas instead of $5 gallon. I’m betting that diesel fuel would cost about $2.50 gallon right now even with the rising prices of oil per barrel. Oil companies realize they can get those extra dollars from “corporate America” because everything in America moves by truck!

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What is clearly hurting our economy (besides banks who took advantage of people who didn’t think about how they were going to pay for their house before buying it – sending the housing market into a tailspin), would be that companies are now passing along the higher costs of diesel fuel THE CONSUMER!

In the end, you might not be paying $5 a gallon for gas BUT you are paying twice as much for essentials like milk, bread, produce, etc.

So while big oil companies make billions of dollars in profits (that is free enterprise), the rest of us are paying more for everything we need.

MERRYMAN PERFORMING ARTS CENTER – NE

Sunday, March 23rd, 2008

HAPPY EASTER! We’ve spent the last three years on the road during this time of the year – twice on the West coast and this year in the Midwest. Easter Sunday is the holiest of holidays for Christian faiths – the day that is celebrated as the resurrection of Christ after his crucifixion. I hope each of you have the chance to spend this time with those you love and celebrate life.

Last night was our performance at the Merryman Performing Arts Center in Kearney, NE. It was an enjoyable day for me – and I think for the rest of the team as well. We arrived at the venue right on time. It’s a beautiful space, recently built, and only in their second season of performances. Gail and her team are still in the stage of “audience development” – finding their niche in a community where these types of events were not been previously available. They are doing a great job and we had a very enthusiastic audience for the show.

The day moved at an easy pace. One of the things I enjoy the most about working in the Midwest is the easy-going nature of the people. Dave, Kerri, Wendy, C.J., Angie, and Scott were all there to meet us as the truck rolled into the loading dock. After shifting a few things on the stage, the equipment was in place and set up had begun. We did hit a couple of snags. As we started to hang the drops, Kerry and Dave wondered if their fly tower was going to be high enough for them to clear audience view when taken out. As it turns out, it wasn’t! So, we had to stop hanging everything and revert to plan two – up goes the cloud drop only! It’s a good thing they said something early!!

The intelligent lights were up and patched quickly; hazers were in place; and we were ready to begin focus. On stage lighting focus was easy – front of house was “creative.” The great thing about working with a crew who knows the challenges of their space is that they also know the solutions to overcoming those challenges! For those few lighting instruments in front of the stage, they had a plan – out came the ladder and the box and focus was complete.

We all had some time to take a dinner break before it was time to open the doors. The audience made their way into the theatre starting at 7pm and by show time, there was a great crowd. Keith and Dave had to deal with a backstage monitor issue to get rid of some distortion issues (bad ones) just before we opened the curtain for the light show.

Cindy and I thought it might be a quiet crowd because we couldn’t hear them backstage during the pre-show music and light show. We generally get some sort of initial impression in those few minutes of the “pre-show experience.” Not this time. BUT when we hit the stage for the first illusion, WOW were we wrong! This audience had so much energy throughout the entire show – applause, audible gasps, and murmurs of amazement really gave us the enthusiasm to do the best we could for this crowd. As a performer, you get so much from your audience and this one was outstanding!

After the show, I had the chance to take some time and visit with many of those who attended the show. This is one of my favorite times of the day. I love to hear about their favorite illusion or listen to them share a magical memory.

Tear down went quickly – and we were loaded up in record time! A big thanks to everyone who made our experience in Kearney a great one.

Today, we start the drive to the Northeast.

WARRENSBURG, MO – DAY 2

Friday, March 21st, 2008

Yesterday started early. We were at the theatre at 10am because we knew load in was going to take much longer. Hendricks Auditorium is on the second floor of a 1922 building on the campus of the University of Central Missouri. The only way to get many of our large cases to the freight elevator is through two sets of double doors, down a long hallway, and into the elevator. Knowing that we wouldn’t be loading directly to the stage, we had to make some adjustments to the schedule.

There was a large group of crew guys there to help us out. The light and sound company was already there, having arrived at 8am so they would be set before our equipment hit the stage. We had to shift a few of their cases but, once it was all done, the crew quickly moved the equipment through the maze and on to the stage. The backstage area was also smaller than what we are accustomed to making it especially tight for Cindy and Nolan. But, as is always the case, they figured things out and made it work. Intermission was fast and furious for Nolan and his guys – packing down the stage and resetting for the second half took on a whole new meaning! He literally had to pack the first half and transfer the illusions in the second half to the stage from an elevated area behind the stage. That doesn’t sound like much BUT moving illusions that weigh hundreds of pounds up and down stairs is challenging!

We had some great volunteers on the stage. But there was this one guy who was a bit more enthusiastic than necessary. He was up on the Brick Wall illusion. I asked him to examine the blocks and framework thoroughly – as I do every night – and he took it just a little too far putting his entire weight on the metal struts that align and secure the blocks. You could hear it CRACK in the back of the auditorium! Fortunately for us – and the audience – he didn’t destroy the illusion before it could be performed. I’m not sure why these guys volunteer and then lose their ability to be reasonable when they’re on the stage. That’s never happened before and, trust me, it’ll never happen again.

It was a near capacity crowd – only a handful of seats remained in the theatre – and they were ready to have a good time. This audience gave us so much energy on the stage – applause, shouts, gasps, whistles, etc. I had the opportunity to spend a few minutes after the show with some of the sponsors…and then Keith whisked me off to the lobby for the general meet-and-gree. There was a huge crowd of people waiting to talk and share their thoughts with me about the show. I met a few of the local magicians – some from the International Brotherhood of Magicians and a couple from the Society of American Magicians.

Today, we’re off to Kearney, NE for a Saturday show at the new Merryman Performing Arts Center. It should be fun!

WARRENSBURG, MO – DAY 1

Thursday, March 20th, 2008

We flew into Kansas City yesterday (Tuesday) leaving behind beautiful spring weather in Virginia. After loading all the luggage back into the truck, we were off to Warrensburg. It was an easy trip and we made it into the hotel in lots of time to get dinner at Nathan’s Grill and get some rest.

My day today started early. I had several phone calls to return this morning, some reading to do, and some email that needed my attention. Nolan and I were picked up at the hotel by our local host and drove over to KOKO radio where I did a morning interview in advance of tomorrow’s show. We had a great spread in last Thursday’s local newspaper and ticket sales have been very strong. The interview today went well. They seem to go so quickly and 20 minutes was over before we knew it.

After the interview, we were off to Western Missouri Medical Center for a workshop with the therapists. We were greeted by the director of the department waiting for us in the lobby. We made our way to one of the conference rooms just as the therapists were starting to arrive. We jumped into the workshop quickly, learned a few tricks, and talked about the effectiveness of using magic tricks in therapy.

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After a brief break, the therapists had selected a few of their clients for me to work with so they could see the program in action. I worked with some great kids who were so excited to be learning magic! After the kids, we moved over to the therapy gym and worked with some adult clients. They mastered one or two tricks and then they were given more difficult ones to work on over the next few days. The therapists will be sure to follow up!

Tomorrow, it’s showtime in Warrensburg. The venue holds about 1200 and we’ve sold over 1000 tickets already. We should have a full house – or at least close to being sold out!

I JUST DON’T GET IT

Sunday, March 16th, 2008

I’m often left confused and speechless by the boldness of some people. But, quite honestly, magicians seem to have a flair for audacity that’s hard to beat. I can write thousands of words of personal experiences I’ve had with magicians who have demonstrated behavior that I just don’t understand. But, in the sake of time and space, I offer only one example because it happened this morning.

I received an email from a magician in New Jersey. I don’t know this magician. To my knowledge, we’ve never met. But, as I understand it, he provides magical entertainment in psychiatric hospitals in his area. He was writing to me about our magic therapy program, Healing of Magic.

His email stated,

“I checked out your website and to be honest I feel that you are trying to make money from others who may be interested in working in hospitals. I don’t agree with that. I don’t know you but what you are doing offends me. I don’t ‘teach’ tricks in hospitals, I’m a professional speaker and don’t volunteer. I get paid for my scheduled programs. I have a very successful program and am highly sought after. My calendar is full and frankly unless you are interested in booking me to speak or present my program, I don’t need to spend $55.00 on your ‘materials.’”

I have never asked this individual to buy anything. I have never asked anyone to buy these materials. I don’t run ads in magazines marketing the program. And I don’t solicit magicians to spend money to get involved. He looked briefly at our website and decided that I was “trying to make money from others who may be interested in working in hospitals.”

I responded to his email politely with a brief overview of what the Healing of Magic program is all about. I explained that the program is for magicians interested in volunteering some time to a local hospital to teach patients tricks as a part of their therapy program. We offer the materials for sale to those who can afford them because we’re not in the financial position to just give them away to anyone who asks. That doesn’t mean we don’t also donate these materials where needed – like in India, Malaysia, Africa, South America, throughout Europe and, yes, several times here in the U.S. I believe in this program and believe in the impact it can have on someone’s life. That’s why we print books, brochures, booklets, and produce a DVD. But it’s costly and time consuming. The point is I didn’t ask him to buy anything nor did I ask him to volunteer any of his time to this program.

I’m not exactly sure how much time he spent on the website to come to the conclusion that I’m taking advantage of people. But rather than ask me directly about the program, he condemned me because I somehow “offended” him.

He provides – for a fee – entertainment to patients. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. I applaud him for bringing joy, fun, laughter, and amazement to people who greatly appreciate it. I’m not asking him to stop!

But I do find it just a bit ironic that when he was asked by someone else about writing a book of his experiences because they might be beneficial, he replied, “If you know of someone who could help me write, I would really be thankfull. I have a ton of stories that I think would help others thinking about working in hospitals.”

So, is he just going to give that book away? Or is he going to “try to make money from others who may be interested in working in hospitals?” I don’t know. But do you see a double standard? Would it be okay if he sells his book of experiences while being offended that I provide an organized, systematic approach to using magic in a therapeutic setting?

Like I said, I just don’t get it.

OFF THE ROAD BUT NOT OUT OF WORK

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

We’ve been home for a few days now and while we are not on the road, it doesn’t mean we’re not working. I hear that from people a lot. “It must be nice not to be working and enjoying some time on the road,” they say. I wish it was like that. During this time of the year, there are so many things that need to be done that being off the road only gives us an opportunity to “catch up.”

Nolan has been very busy arranging interviews for me in advance of upcoming performances. This week I’ve had five – Kearney, NE (March 22), Green Bay, WI (April 4), Longview, WA (April 18), Artesia, NM (April 10), and Blackfoot, ID (April 26). He’s working hard on finalizing all the others.

Keith has been attempting to connect with technical directors to review all the information with them about our production. Unfortunately, this is a busy time for everyone so it’s not been an easy task for him.

And Cindy has been working on finding new music for the show. She is very good at this and I think she enjoys it! Today, she and Keith will be doing some music editing to get it all ready.

And me, well I am working diligently to wrap up next season. I only have about 15 contracts remaining to confirm and then I’m done – I think! We have a really great tour set up for next year and I’m excited about some of the venues where we will perform. I’m also working hard on completing two other projects that I should have done long ago.

This weekend, I hope to enjoy a little time at home.

KANSAS CITY INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Sunday, March 9th, 2008

We lost an hour of sleep last night as we “sprung” forward into Daylight Savings Time. I can already tell I’m going to miss it today. Nolan and I were up around 4am so we could get to the airport for our 6am flight to Detroit continuing on to Roanoke. We were at the airport by 4:45am and immediately noticed that our flight was not on the departure board. After some investigation, we found that the flight is starting off it’s day 45 minutes late. I hope we make our connection in Detroit!

I am looking forward to going home this week. This will be our last official break for the remainder of this tour. The next two months we will be on the road from coast to coast – New York to Washington, and all places in between. I am excited because shows have been going very well. We’ve had a run of 20 sold out performances and the momentum seems to be carrying from show to show. Now, I’m realistic enough to know that, just around the corner, things can change. And that’s okay. We are enjoying the ride while it lasts.

I’ll be very busy this week finalizing the 08/09 tour schedule and working on a project I’ve been trying to complete now for a couple of months. It seems I always have too many things going on at the same time! For those of you who are asking about the Special Education curriculum, I should have it written and printed by the middle of summer. We hope to field test it starting in the fall in several selected school systems around the country. And I hope to have the curriculum complete for the psychiatric program as well.

Okay, boarding the flight!