Archive for June, 2009

MORE LAS VEGAS ADVENTURE

Monday, June 29th, 2009

After wrapping up all the videotaping, Greg and I had a chance to catch a few more shows.  We saw Penn & Teller that first night so Friday we decided to see a new performer in town named Luke Jermay.  He’s from Essex, England and is a mindreader/mentalist.  He’s performing at O’Sheas Casino in a small theatre that just perfect for this kind of show – intimate and comfortable.

While Greg and I were waiting in the lobby, I recognized Steve Valentine going into the show with some friends.  He was one of the stars of Crossing Jordan several years ago.  As he passed me, he was nice enough to speak.  I introduced myself and we clicked a quick picture.

Once the show started and Luke hit the stage, he made a few introductions and started in with the audience participation.  Guess who was the first person to make it to the stage?  Yup, he invited me onstage to join him as he “read my mind.”  It was great fun and I had the chance to meet Luke afterwards – typical Londoner…just couldn’t get him to break a smile.

After the show, Greg and I drove over to the Mirage to partake of what is described as the “best buffet in Vegas.”  I was starving and hadn’t really eaten anything for much of the day.  A buffet sounded perfect to me!

I spent Saturday morning enjoying some time by the hotel pool but 102 degrees is hot by anyone’s standards.  I didn’t last too long before running back to my room.  I had the chance to drive over to Greg’s house and meet his family – Sean, Leo, and Chrissy.  We had lunch and then Greg and I drove back down to the Strip to see The Comedy Magic of Nathan Burton.  I’ve known Nathan for about 18 years – a long time – but haven’t seen him perform in many years.  He has a great, fast-paced 60-minute show at the Flamingo Casino that’s perfect for the family.  He hasn’t changed much over the years (unlike me).  We had a chance to hang out and catch up on old times after the show.  It’s was great fun.

I spent Saturday night at the local Town Square Mall with an appointment at the Genius Bar at the Apple Store.  My new iPhone isn’t keeping a charge well these days, especially in 3G.  As it turns out, the guys at the Apple Store found nothing wrong with the phone.  Disappointed, they told me that the average battery life for an 3G iPhone is only 5 hours of use – and I use that a lot!  I’ve been charging my phone 2 or 3 times a day while in Vegas.  I finally changed the network setting back to Edge so my battery would last longer.  I did pick up a new case with a built in battery for extra life – Power Slider Case.  Its’ pretty cool!

This morning, I was up early and at the Vegas airport to catch my flight to Burbank.  I was able to get on an earlier flight.  I picked up my car and drove on up to Ventura.  I’m going to check on a new illusion in the morning before driving back to Burbank and flying home.  It’s been a long weekend!!

LAS VEGAS

Friday, June 26th, 2009

I landed in Vegas on Wednesday afternoon.  My flight was delayed a few times and then I got to sit next to four loud, obnoxious adults who were competing in volume with the screaming baby in front of them.  The last two hours of my flight were miserable…and the Vegas strip was a welcomed sight.

I grab my luggage, picked up my rental car, and drove over to Magic Ventures to see Bill Smith about a new project we’re working on.  Once Bill and I wrapped up, I drove over to get checked into my hotel before meeting Greg for dinner.  I dropped off my luggage, washed my face, and drove over to the Rio to find Greg, ate dinner, and then we caught the 9pm performance of Penn & Teller.

It was a great show, very different than what I had expected in both style and content.  I also wanted to see the show because of the articles I’ve been reading about the neuroscience of magic.  Teller has been collaborating on a research project that is exploring the gaps in human perception that might give us insight into how people learn. I  had the chance to talk with Teller briefly after the show….and Penn as well (he’s a BIG guy).

After the show, I finally got back to my hotel around midnight – that’s 3am my time!  After being up for almost 24 hours, I crashed in the bed.

Thursday morning came early.  Greg and I were scheduled to be in the Penguin Magic studio to start shooting the DVD lessons for the Hocus Focus curriculum.  We worked all day and well into the evening taping trick and trick.  And a full day of taping, it was nice to relax around the table with Max and Greg and just talk.  I made it to bed around 1am – two late nights in a row.

Today – I’ll finish up some of the details on the project, or at least this portion of it.  I still have the Teacher’s Guide to complete and some things for the student manual as well.  But the day won’t be nearly as long as yesterday.  I think I might go see David Copperfield’s show tonight.  He’s at the MGM Grand Hollywood Theatre and it’s always a great show.

THE SCIENCE OF MAGIC

Friday, June 19th, 2009

I have spent the last 2 days preparing for a trip to Vegas next week.  Once there, I’ll meet up with Greg to videotape the lessons for my HOCUS FOCUS project.  I’m excited about this DVD and curriculum but it has been exhausting work – more mental than physical.

Today, I’ve had my head wrapped around an article published last July (2008) on the neuroscience of magic. Neuroscientists collaborated with several magicians to explore the techniques used by performers to manipulate attention and awareness of their audiences.  Some of these magic principles were discussed at the Magic of Consciousness symposium held during the 11th Annual Meeting of the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness.

I’m most interested in the cognitive “illusions” in magic.  I believe that research in this area can provide significant and meaningful methods that can be of use in teaching those with learning disabilities and learning challenges. There are “devices” that magicians use that neuroscientists believe deserve exploration because they may shed light on the neural “underpinnings” of cognition, memory, sensation, social attachment, causal inference, and awareness.

Okay, enough of that already…HOCUS FOCUS is going to be a blast!

MAGIC CAMP & MORE – FAYETTEVILLE, AR

Sunday, June 14th, 2009

I’m sorry I haven’t written in a few days.  We’ve been incredibly busy with the magic camp, interviews, and the performances.  Let me attempt to recap the last few days – they were awesome!

First let me say thanks to Jason, Jenni, Jennifer, Laura, Jesse, and all the magic students for an amazing week in Fayetteville.  Each of these guys played a huge part in making this such a great experience.

Ethan, Jason, and I continued to work with our morning group to get them ready for their Friday debut performance.  Our afternoon group was bigger and older.  They all worked very hard – in their own way – to get ready for their show.

I had a great to working with these students and the made us proud on Friday when they performed for their families and friends.  Both the morning team and the afternoon team were outstanding!  I have it on video and might post something on YouTube in the next couple of weeks.

On Thursday morning, I was up early to make an appearance on the local FOX morning show.  After that, Ethan and I were escorted by Jolana to MAGIC 107.9 for a drive time radio interview.

After the interview, we were back at the Starr Theatre to wrap up my last day in magic camp.  Jason would be coordinating the day on Friday while we load in and get ready for our evening performance.

Friday morning, we pulled the rig into the Walton Arts Center loading dock and were greeted by the crew ready to make the day a good one.  Everything moved along so smoothly – thanks to all the work these guys did before we arrived.  Every member of this crew was so professional and friendly.  They were as committed to making the show as successful as each of us.  That made for great team work.

We were ready to go, with the exception of a few details, by 5pm.  Amy had a delicious dinner waiting for us in the Green Room so we made our way that direction.

Doors opened at 6:30pm and the crowd started to roll in.  This was a fantastic audience!  The show moved along very well and, in the end, the audience gave us a standing ovation.  I had the privilege of meeting so many people in the audience after the show (one of my favorite parts of the day) and getting to know the people of Fayetteville a little better.

We were back at the theatre around 10:30am on Saturday morning to get reset for the 2pm show.  My family (mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law, brother, nieces, nephews, etc) were all coming in from different parts of Arkansas to spend the afternoon.  While we were resetting for our show, the magic camp students were doing their own show in Bentonville.  Jason was with them to make sure it all came off well.

We had another great crowd for the 2pm show – great volunteers and great responses.  What more can I say?  It was GREAT!

I met a couple of young magicians before heading out to the lobby to visit with audience members.  After that, I was off to the Green Room to see my family and friends.  I did get to say good bye to Jason and his wife, Sarah, who were at the afternoon show.  And then I was off to the Starr Theatre for a master class with some of the area magicians.  It was a busy day, but a fun one!

Our time in Fayetteville will certainly remain one of our most positive and enjoyable memories.  I had a wonderful week!

MORNING TELEVISION

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Ah, 5:30am came very early this morning!  I met Jolana from the Arts Center promptly at 6:15am to head over to KNWA for an appearance on THE MORNING SHOW.  You can check out the interview on the station’s website, just click on the video link.  Kelly, the morning anchor, did a fantastic job of learning a magic trick on the air.

Okay, I’m off to breakfast and then to the Walton Arts Center for magic theatre camp!

MAGIC THEATRE CAMP – DAYS ONE & TWO

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

My Monday morning started early with a “pick up” from Enterprise Rental Car in Fayetteville.  Because Ethan and I will be driving back and forth from the Walton Arts Center, we really didn’t want to make the trip in the semi.  On the way to the rental facility, our driver decided to give us a tour of Fayetteville that lasted about 40 minutes.  Wow, we just wanted a ride to pick up our car.

Once we had the car, we were on our way to the Arts Center.  We met Jason Suel who works with the Trike Theatre Company in Bentonville.

Our first day was fantastic!  Jason is a great teacher and really connects with the kids.  We have a small group in the morning and our larger group in the afternoon.  Day One we concentrated mostly on some simple magic tricks using rubber bands, paper clips, and cards.  Everyone managed to grasp the concepts of the tricks very quickly which means we have much more time to work with them on their presentation skills.  The group is supposed to perform this weekend in Bentonville at one of the arts festival – they gotta be good!

This is a picture of our morning group.  Ethan’s not in the picture because he’s the one taking it!

I’ll post a picture of our afternoon group tomorrow.  We had a couple of students leave early today so I didn’t want to get a picture without the full group being there.

Today, we worked on rope tricks but first everyone had the chance to perform their favorite trick from Monday’s class.  I have to admit, there are a few hams in the bunch who are going to make really great performers. And everyone is doing a really brilliant job.

I’m excited to see the students remaining excited about learning some cool magic stuff!  Tomorrow, new adventures are ahead!!  Do I have the best job in the world or what?

STILL DRIVING TO FAYETTEVILLE, AR

Sunday, June 7th, 2009

We made it to East Knoxville on Friday, about 5 hours down the road.  It was a good start considering we didn’t get out of Lynchburg until 1pm.

This morning, we left Knoxville and drove about 10 hours to Conway, AR.  We even managed to get some “cleaning” done in the truck.  Ethan straightened up the living areas, we filled up the propane tank, cleaned out the fridge, and even had some time to get the truck washed.

Tomorrow should be an easy day – only 2.5 hours to go!

HEADING TO FAYETTEVILLE, AR

Friday, June 5th, 2009

Today, Ethan and I will start the journey to Fayetteville, AR..and it’s pouring rain outside!  I’m not a big fan of driving in the rain.

Starting Monday, I’ll be teaching for four days (with Ethan’s assistance) in the theatre camp sponsored by the Walton Arts Center.  I am really excited about this opportunity and have been working hard to pull together a selection of tricks and history that will be interesting to these 12-16 year old students.

On Friday (7pm) and Saturday (1:30pm), we will be presenting two public performances of Theatre of Illusion.  Cindy and Keith will be flying in on Thursday ready to go to work.  And after Saturday’s show, I’ll be conducting a Master’s Class for area magicians.  This seminar will cover lots of information from life on the road, working with the media, putting together a show, etc.

I have a couple of interviews this morning before we leave.  One of them is with the LINKING RING, the official magazine of the International Brotherhood of Magicians.  The other is for a feature article in the Northwest Arkansas Times.