Archive for August, 2010

RESTORING HONOR – THE RALLY

Sunday, August 29th, 2010

Cindy and I took the day off Friday to make the drive to Washington, DC.  We had made plans to be a part of the RESTORING HONOR rally that took place on 8/28.  This was not a political or religious rally, in spite of what the media would like for people to believe.  Many of them have reported this would be nothing more than a “modern day KKK rally.”  If that were the truth, why would a civil rights advocate like Dr. Alveda King – the niece of Martin Luther King, Jr – be associated with such a rally?  These kinds of unfounded accusations truly demonstrate the laziness of the media to find answers and explore the truth.  It’s disgusting and inappropriate but, when those on the political left feel threatened by “truth,” they react by throwing around accusations that are lies.  I don’t mind an honest debate but I need more than the desperate attempt by those who can’t discredit this event with an intellectually honest exchange.  That is exactly what happened with this rally.

I made several postings throughout the day on Saturday via my FaceBook page.  I was surprised by a couple of negative comments I received from people who know me fairly well – accusations of bigotry, racism, and intolerance.  This is a clear example of people believing the propaganda rather than discovering the truth for themselves. But I was more disappointed that they would believe that I would be associated with that kind of arrogance.  Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not so naïve as to believe that every organization – left or right, political or religious – doesn’t attract some extremists.

You want to know what I saw, first hand?  Americans of all races, ages, and religious beliefs taking advantage of their constitutional right to assemble for a common cause.  It wasn’t a political demonstration – there were no signs or political chants. It was a memorial and recognition of the men and women of our military, their service and their sacrifice.  A $5 million donation was given to the Wounded Warrior Foundation. It was also a call to a restoration of honor in our government. I don’t think anyone would disagree there is a lack of integrity and ethics found in both major Parties of our government.

As my wife and I entered the National Mall with thousands of other people, no one stopped us to ask our nationality, our religious affiliation, our degree of education, our level of tolerance, our sexual orientation, or our financial standing. I didn’t receive a personal invitation – nor did the hundreds of thousands of others who were there.  This was not an “invitation only” event.  Everyone who believes that Honor is a value that should be a part of our lives and a part of our government was invited – African-Americans, Latinos, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, GLTB…everyone.

Did they show up? Well, here’s what I saw and experienced as I walked the grounds of the National Mall.

I stood on the steps of the Lincoln Monument with a large group of young African American men and listened to Dr. Alveda King (clearly not a racist) talk about her uncle Martin. She spoke of Americans who are hungry to reclaim the symbols of liberty – truth, honor, and respect. She spoke of why it was important for her to be at this rally. She challenged those who have accused her of hijacking “the dream” by reminding them that this gathering of people is exactly what MLK stood for.

I listened to a group of Latina women speak passionately to the local media about their love for America. They spoke of their gratitude for the opportunities they have been afforded, the blessings they have received in the U.S., and their concern for the future of their children.

I watched a large group of young adults – each one dressed in a t-shirt that read “ISRALIES FOR HONOR” – cheer with those around them about the greatness of this country.

I listened to people pray – to whomever their faith is directed – for the continued safety of our soldiers and blessings on our country.

Did I see anyone from the GLTB population? I’m not sure, but I’m guessing they were represented as well.

“Honor” is not a quality that belongs to a particular religious faith, a political party, or a specific sexual orientation.

How can any of this be bad? How can this be interpreted as “hijacking the dream?” I’m surprised and disappointed that anyone would assume that I would associate with something like that.

I am concerned about the direction the country is going – not left/right, Democrat/Republican.  I am more concerned about the lack of character, respect, individual responsibility, and misplaced ethical choices. It didn’t start with this administration but that “hope and change” thing isn’t working out so well.

By the way, I also had the chance to walk by the rally being held by the Reverend Al Sharpton, “Reclaim the Dream.” Large signs had an arrow pointing toward his rally saying “DREAM” while another arrow pointed the other direction toward the Honor rally saying “NIGHTMARE.” Divisive?  Antagonistic?  Maybe a little racist?  I listened to his comments as he spoke of a nation divided by race – black versus white.  He said, “They may have the mall, but we have the message. They may have the platform, but we have the dream!”  One woman shouted, “Yes we DID and get over it!”  Another speaker said the Restoring Honor rally represented “hate mongering and angry white people.”  Really?  That’s not what I witnessed in the hundreds of thousands of people on the National Mall.

One of these rallies was bigoted, racist, and filled with hate-mongering….you be the judge as to which one.

MAGIC CAMP – HAMPTON, VA

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

I know it seems like camp was only two days long if you’ve been reading my blog.  Sorry, we just got so busy I didn’t have a chance to write!  Five days of camp, 38 students, and one final evening production made for a very full week!

The budding magicians did an outstanding job on the stage of the American Theatre on Friday night.  Alan also did an amazing job of keeping track of all the “performers,” handling the backstage lineup, and stage managing with Kim at the light board.  There were a few moments there that I thought he might lose his sanity….but he held it together very well.

We are back in the office this week and working hard.  Much of today was spent at the warehouse rehearsing illusions in preparation for the fall tour  that starts in only a couple of weeks.  We have a lot to get done this week before Alan and I leave for the West Coast on Monday.  Wow, where has the summer gone!

MAGIC CAMP DAY #2

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Ah, the second day of magic camp is behind us…and what a day it was!  It is amazing just how quickly the day can go by when you have a million things to do.  Our first session really goes fast!  After reviewing yesterday’s tricks, each person had the chance to get up and perform their favorite.  After that, we learned some tricks with silks and ropes.

There are 20 kids in this class and they really keep you on your feet.  Honestly, I have a whole new appreciation for teachers in the public schools.  They have twice this many students for a lot longer than 3 hours a day!  These are good kids who are practicing hard, writing great stories, and becoming good performers.

The second class starts after lunch.  This is our older group, mostly teenagers, who already have a significant interest in magic.  Many of them knew how to perform some pretty cool tricks before starting the class.  We’re just adding to their repertoire!

Alan and I are now preparing for Day #3 but, first, we’re heading out to a local Thai restaurant for some dinner!

MAGIC CAMP DAY #1

Tuesday, August 17th, 2010

Alan and I arrived in Hampton on Sunday evening, checked into our hotel, and went exploring for good.  We found this shopping center close to our hotel with several nice restaurants.  Both of us were in the mood for Mexican food and there was a brand new Abuelo’s inside the plaza.  As it turns out, it was so new that it wasn’t even open yet…but people were eating inside.  It was training night and an invitation only event.  We didn’t know that until we were told my the hostess.  As we were about to leave, some nice lady in the line GAVE us an invitation.  Now, here’s the really cool thing – because it was training night, everything on the menu was FREE.  We ended up having a great meal in a nice place that cost about $10 for the tip we left (which was donated to charity).

This morning, we started the first day of Magic Camp at the American Theatre.  We were there about 8am to get things loaded into the space.  Campers started arriving around 8:30am; first class kicked off at 9am.  We had 20 kids registered for the morning class so we got right into playing a few theatre games and learning some magic.  Several of the kids did an outstanding job – caught on quickly and came up with some cool stories to go along with their tricks.

The morning class wrapped up at 12noon and Alan and I were starving!  We walked up the street with Brad, the TD at the theatre, to Paul’s Pub for some BBQ and burgers.  After eating, we needed to get back to the theatre to get ready for the second group of the day – 16 registered for the afternoon session.

Back at the office, Keith had his hands full.  We have several new illusions coming in and a couple going out for repairs.  He managed to take care of those details today as well as several phone calls and emails.  We were able to lock in two television appearances for Indianapolis in mid September…I’ll keep you posted on those.

Okay, off to get things ready for Day 2 of Magic Camp.

TRAGEDY IN AFGHANISTAN

Monday, August 9th, 2010

Over the weekend, Cindy and I received a phone call from some very good friends of ours in Texas.  They told us about the recent murders of 10 people in Afghanistan.  These people were part of a medical team who brought eye and dental care to remote villages all over that country.  They were gunned down in the northern province of Badakhshan on Thursday while on a medical mission.  They were ambushed, robbed, and murdered in a remote area of the country.  When, after 36 hours, they didn’t contact their base, people went looking for them.  The area is so remote that you first take a four-wheel drive vehicle, then horses, then finish on foot.

One of the members of that team was a young man named Brian. He was 25 years old.  His parents are our friends.  Mike is the administrator of a school in Kabul, Afghanistan.  They have been living there for several years and have fallen in love with the Afghan people.  The last few days, they have been in Northern Virginia celebrating with their oldest son the birth of their first grandchild.  And now, they will also mourn the death of Brian.  I can’t image what they must be feeling.

Brian lived his life with passion, dedication, commitment, and with a love for God.  He was someone who believed his life should be a reflection of his beliefs.  The Apostle Paul wrote in Romans, “If the way you live isn’t consistent with what you believe, then it’s wrong…Love from the center of who you are, don’t fake it.  Run for dear life from evil, hold on for dear life to good.  Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle.”

Brian’s passions are evident in his photography – a talent that allowed him to share his life with others.  Please pray for his family, his friends, and those whom he touched….in life and, now, in death.

COMMENTS “OFF”

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

A few months ago, I turned on the ability of readers to comment on my blog posts.  I wanted this to be a more interactive experience for all of us.  Many of you have taken advantage of it and posted comments.  I really appreciate it!

Unfortunately, as is generally the case with good things, spammers have abused this ability attempting to post everything from piano sales to “growth” products on my blog.  I’m getting roughly 50-80 of these spam postings every day.  I’ve tried to increase the sensitivity of key words to filter them to the spam folder but these guys know how to get around the system.  I just don’t have the time to sort through hundreds of comments every day to separate the spam from the real ones.  If I don’t get this under control soon, I’ll be turning off the ability of readers to post.

Suggestions anyone?

SUMMER 2010

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

It’s hard for me to believe that Summer 2010 is almost over.  Commercials are already airing boasting “Back To School Sales” at major clothing stores.  Walmart is stocking their shelves with pencils, paper, notebooks, and other supplies.  And last-minute-vacation deals are being advertised on tv, radio, and in newspapers.  Ugh, where did the time go?

Our office is also in full swing in preparation for the fall tour.  We have a strong tour this year in spite of the economy.  I’m thankful and excited about the venues we’ll be visiting this year, some really amazing stops along the way.  I’ve already started receiving emails from people who have purchased tickets for performances this season.  The office has also begun to gear up to start booking 2012.  We’ve got a few dates on the 2012 calendar and are working on a couple of major international tours.

I’m also concentrating intensely this week on the last few lessons for the Hocus Focus project.  I completed the videotaping last summer in Las Vegas with Greg.  He is working on the DVD now and I should have the final edit in my hands in just a few days.  Starr has completed all the illustrations and is in the final stage of designing the logo artwork.  I should have this project ready to drop into the hands of researcher by the first week in September.  I’m very, very excited.

That’s it for now – busy week ahead of us.