Archive for November, 2009

MAGICIANS AND POLITICIANS

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

I’ve heard lots of jokes comparing politicians to magicians.  Some of them are quite funny.  This “magical” article was published in TOWN HALL by John Stossel, former investigative reporter for ABC News:

When you knowingly pay someone to lie to you, we call the deceiver an illusionist or a magician. When you unwittingly pay someone to do the same thing, I call him a politician.

President Obama insists that health care “reform” not “add a dime” to the budget deficit, which daily grows to ever more frightening levels. So the House-passed bill and the one the Senate now deliberates both claim to cost less than $900 billion. Somehow “$900 billion over 10 years” has been decreed to be a magical figure that will not increase the deficit.

It’s amazing how precise government gets when estimating the cost of 10 years of subsidized medical care. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s bill was scored not at $850 billion, but $849 billion. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said her bill would cost $871 billion.

How do they do that?

The key to magic is misdirection, fooling the audience into looking in the wrong direction.

I happily suspend disbelief when a magician says he’ll saw a woman in half. That’s entertainment. But when Harry Reid says he’ll give 30 million additional people health coverage while cutting the deficit, improving health care and reducing its cost, it’s not entertaining. It’s incredible.

The politicians have a hat full of tricks to make their schemes look cheaper than they are. The new revenues will pour in during Year One, but health care spending won’t begin until Year Three or Four. To this the Cato Institute’s Michael Tanner asks, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could count a whole month’s income, but only two weeks’ expenditures in your household budget?”

To be deficit-reducers, the health care bills depend on a $200 billion cut in Medicare. Current law requires cuts in payments to doctors, but let’s get real: Those cuts will never happen. The idea that Congress will “save $200 billion” by reducing payments for groups as influential as doctors and retirees is laughable. Since 2003, Congress has suspended those “required” cuts each year.

Our pandering congressmen rarely cut. They just spend. Even as the deficit grows, they vomit up our money onto new pet “green” projects, bailouts for irresponsible industries, gifts for special interests and guarantees to everyone.

Originally, this year’s suspension, “the doc fix,” was included in the health care bills, but when it clearly pushed the cost of “reform” over Obama’s limit and threatened to hike the deficit, the politicians moved the “doc fix” to a separate bill and pretended it was unrelated to their health care work.

Megan McArdle of The Atlantic reports that Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin asked the Congressional Budget Office what the total price would be if the “doc fix” and House health care overhaul were passed together. “The answer, according to the CBO, is that together they’d increase the deficit by $89 billion over 10 years.” McArdle explains why the “doc fix” should be included: “They’re passing a bill that increases the deficit by $200 billion in order to pass another bill that hopefully reduces it, but by substantially less than $200 billion. That means that passage of this bill is going to increase the deficit.”

From the start, Obama has promised to pay for half the “reform” cost by cutting Medicare by half a trillion over 10 years. But, Tanner asks, “how likely is it that those cuts will take place? After all, this is an administration that will pay seniors $250 to make up for the fact that they didn’t get a Social Security cost-of-living increase this year (because the cost of living didn’t increase). And Congress is in the process of repealing a scheduled increase in Medicare premiums.”

Older people vote in great numbers. AARP is the most powerful lobby on Capitol Hill. Like the cut in doctor’s pay, the other cuts will never happen.

I will chew on razor blades when Congress cuts Medicare to keep the deficit from growing.

Medicare is already $37 trillion in the hole. Yet the Democrats proudly cite Medicare when they demand support for the health care overhaul. If a business pulled the accounting tricks the politicians get away with, the owners would be in prison.

ANOTHER FANTASTIC WEEKEND

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

CENTRAL AUDITORIUM – FINDALY, OH

The weekend actually started on Thursday in Findlay, OH. We arrived on Wednesday night so that I could be in town in time to do a HEALING OF MAGIC workshop at the Birchaven Center. Alan, Ethan, and I had a wonderful time working with some amazing older adults – a fun afternoon for everyone. There was a nice article in THE COURIER the next day talking about the workshop and the show.

After the workshop, Phil took us back to the hotel. We changed clothes and picked up Keith and Cindy. We all jumped into the truck to head to Central Auditorium to begin loading in for Friday’s show. We took advantage of having a full crew on Thursday afternoon to get all the equipment into the venue. After getting in the cases, I worked with Keith for a while on the light plot just to “tweak” it a bit before Friday.

We wrapped at the auditorium and then went to find something to eat. We ended up at a little bar and grille on Main Street – good food and a relaxed atmosphere.

Friday morning, we were on our way back to Central Auditorium. We still had lots of work to do to be ready for a 7pm show. The newspaper article generated a lot of last-minute interest in the show and lead to a big push in ticket sales.

Show time came and a large audience rolled into their seats – people of all ages (my favorite audience). We had some great volunteers, good energy, and a solid ending to a nice stay in Findlay.

A big thanks to Char, Phil, and the Arts Partnership for being such gracious hosts!

FORD CENTER FOR THE ARTS – DEARBORN, MI

We were up early on Saturday morning to begin the drive to Dearborn. Load in was set for 10:30am so we needed to be on the road at 8am – early! The drive was smooth and we arrived at the theatre at 10:15am, greeted by a eager crew ready to start the day.

This is a beautiful theatre in an amazing complex. The crew – Don, Aaron, Eric, Rich, Tim, and Jon – we easy to work with and extremely professional and friendly. We were loaded in, set up, focused, and finished with tech rehearsal by 4:30pm – just in time for dinner!

The meal was catered in by Salsarita’s, a local Mexican restaurant. It was GREAT – chicken, beef, chips, chocolate brownies, and more.

Doors opened at 6:30pm. Another audience of all ages made their way to their seats – children, families, college students, and senior citizens. Afterwards, I had the chance to talk with tons of people in the lobby including some of the local magicians from the area.

We are heading home now for the Thanksgiving holiday. We’ll spend a few days there before heading back out to Dayton and the Victoria Theatre on December 4, 5, and 6!

A BUSY WEEKEND OF AMAZING AUDIENCES!

Monday, November 16th, 2009

We had a very busy weekend with performances from Indiana to North Carolina. After High Point, we drove on to Marion, Indiana for a performance at the Phillippe Performing Arts Center on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University.

Now, I grew up in Indiana and, if you mention pizza, Pizza King is a “tradition since 1956.” You can only find Pizza King in Indiana. It’s inextricably connected to my growing up so, it was only natural that I should seek out a Pizza King in Marion.

PHILLIPPE PERFORMING ARTS CENTER – MARION, IN

After a hearty dinner of pizza, we were off to the hotel to get some rest before the show on Friday. We arrived at the Phillippe Performing Arts Center around 11am to find Greg, Phil, and the crew ready to get us loaded into the theatre. This is a really beautiful stage and we had a Sold Out audience of more than 1100 people coming to the show that night. That kind of energy really carries you through the day!

Once everyone was briefly, badged, and signed in, the tasks of getting several tons of equipment from the truck to the stage began. Ethan was on the truck, Cindy and Alan on the stage to direct, Keith was dealing with technical issues, and me – I was just staying out of the way at this point.

The day moved along at a good pace. Cindy structured the show a little differently for this one because they didn’t want an intermission. “Straight through” performances are a bit of a challenge but she had this all figured out.

When it came time to open the doors, a large enthusiastic crowd found their way to their seats. You can feel and hear the excitement in the theatre. I always get such a rush of adrenaline when that energy hits the room. And from the moment we took the stage, the audience was fantastic!

It was great to finally get to work with Nancy and her guys at the Phillippe Center. We’ve been trying to find a date on the calendar for more than 3 years. This time, it worked – and we had a blast!

Several friends also made the trip to see us perform – I mean some people I’ve know since I was a kid (that was a long time ago). Karl English and his wife Susie were there. It was great to see them. And Joseph Jones and his wife, Julie, made the trip down from the “north” with their two kids to see the show too. Always great to reconnect with people!

Unfortunately, we didn’t have much time to visit afterwards. Once the show was over, we were back on the road to make the 12 hour drive back to North Carolina!

CLAYTON CENTER – CLAYTON, NC

We drove late that night and then were up very early the next morning to continue the “journey” to North Carolina. We arrived in Clayton around 7pm and found our way to the hotel. Morning came very early! Our performance here was a 4pm matinee so we would need to be at the theatre at the crack of dawn.

Heidi, Steven, Cathy, and the gang were all ready to go as we pulled our truck to the loading area. One of the crew guys told me that there was a nice “buzz” in the community about the show and tickets had been selling briskly. As it turns out, we had another SOLD OUT audience in Clayton.

There was some creative backstage management going on for this show. There was a large room behind the stage where we could store illusions and cases but there was limited space on the stage. Cindy figured that, during intermission, the guys would move out the first half and bring on the second half. To do this, they had to move everything to a part of the stage that was a lift, take it down to the next level, change everything, and bring it back to the stage. It worked perfectly!

We had a great time working with Heidi and her team at the Clayton Center – good people, great fun, hard-working crew, and an amazing audience.

Two SOLD OUT shows this weekend…and now we’re home for a day before heading to Ohio and Michigan.

HIGH POINT THEATRE – NC

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

After a great day yesterday working at the High Point Regional Health System Rehabilitation Unit, today was the show at the High Point Theatre.  There was nice feature in the High Point Enterprise today about the visit to the HPRHS.  And the article had a nice plug about the show too.

We started load in mid morning, arriving at the theatre where James and the crew were ready to get started.  I pulled the rig to the dock, signed and badged everyone, and the day began.

There was plenty of space on the stage for all the cases.  Once everything was in, we all went our separate ways to begin the set up. Keith and I worked with the crew to move around curtains, get our backdrops in the air, and our intelligent lighting hung.  Cindy started her day with waredrobe, setting special effects, and stage magic.  Ethan and Alan unpacked and assembled illusions and got the lobby set.

We all took a quick break for lunch around 1:45pm.  Once back, we started into focusing the lights and marking illusion placement on the stage.  Cindy was busy with all the details of the show at this point and our day became a “dance” – working in collaboration with one another while staying out of each other’s way.

Once we wrapped up these details, it was time to have a technical rehearsal with our crew and the team from the High Point Theatre.  These guys – James, Jan, Martin, and Clay – had all been so on top of things all day, we knew this wouldn’t be a problem at all.  Rehearsal went smoothly – time for dinner!

Valerie took great care of us when it came to the food.  She and Karen set up quite a spread for us backstage – chicken, potatoes, squash, fresh salad and fruit.  AND a homemade “death-by-chocolate” cake!

Before we knew it, time had come to open the doors and let the audience find their seats.  There was a great mix of people – families, young adults, and seniors.  And there was a sense of excitement in the crowd that we could hear and feel backstage.

When Cindy and I hit the stage, there was a so much energy in the audience – we knew it was going to be a great night.  Volunteers were fun and added so much to the show.  And the responses to the illusions – especially the Brick Wall and Windshear – were loud and appreciative.  I had a wonderful time meeting so many people in the lobby afterward – including the past president of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Mike Gorman and his wife.

Thank you High Point for a great experience in your community!  I hope we have the chance to do it again sometime.

HIGH POINT, NC – FOX 8

Friday, November 6th, 2009

Ethan and I arrived in High Point last night.  We’re here before our show on Saturday night to do a little PR and work at the High Point Regional Health System rehabilitation unit.

The morning started early – up at 6am – to get ready for an appearance on the MORNING NEWS on FOX 8. Cindy Farmer is one of the morning anchors; she used to be at the NBC station in Roanoke (close to home) and I watched her all the time.  She has so much energy, even at 7am!

The segment went very well.  We talked about the Healing of Magic program, Cindy learned a rubber band trick (very well I might add), and there was a final “plug” for the main performance tomorrow night at the High Point Theatre.

This day is just getting started.  I’ll be spending some time with the Kiwanis Club at their luncheon this afternoon with Louisa (Exec Director of the High Point Theatre).  This afternoon, Ethan and I will be working with several clients at the HPRHS Rehab Unit with the magic therapy program.  And, finally, tonight I’ll be joining Louisa again – this time on stage at the High Point Theatre – to introduce The Little River band.

If you’re in the High Point/Greensboro area, come check out the show on Saturday night at 8pm!!

BRAMPTON TICKET CONTEST

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

It’s official – the Brampton Guardian has launched a ticket-giveaway for our November 23 performance at the Rose Theatre.

Amy Goodfellow, arts & entertainment editor at the Guardian, has all the details on her blog.  You can check it out HERE!