March 22 – George Graham March Hare Ball.
Where: Fr. Justin Counci Knights of Columbus
2735 Union Rd, Cheektowaga NY
6:00 – Open cocktail 2 Hour
7:00 – Dinner:
Chicken Cordon Bleu
Bread Pork Chops
Parsley Boiled Potatoes
Dessert: Peach Cobbler
8:30 – Program
Ted Burzynski from the Ring
Anthony Lindan from Toronto
$20.00 Children 12 and under.
Contact Bill Darnell (876-8313) for Reservations or to pay.
Need items and baskets for the auction
I would like to thank all of you who attended last months meeting for Karl’s Broken Wand Ceremony. Thank you to all of you who put in so much work in organizing it, preparing food, and participating in it. There are too many of you to mention here but again thank you to all. A special thanks to Rosemary for the wonderful video she put together in Karl’s honor. We miss you Karl !!!
Our lecture for March is by the World Famous I-90 magician, Shaun Robinson. I saw Shaun lecture a few years back and was very impressed with his knowledge, skill, and presentation. You can tell he’s done the work in the trenches, or in his case the restaurants.
I’m sure you will enjoy him and his magic.
Don’t forget to get your tickets for the March Hare Ball. The best evening out that you could ever have. Family, Friends, Great Food, and Mystifying Magic. Don’t miss it!!!!
Also remember we have the greatest one day magic convention in the world coming up in April , MAWNY , if you miss it you’ll be sorry. Get your reservation in now. Don’t miss our very own Rian Lehman perform on stage.
Remember to take advantage of our Book/DVD library. If you have, don’t forget to return what you’ve signed out. Also we are always looking for new members to join our crazy group, so spread the word or better yet bring a guest.
See you all soon,
It’s hard to believe we are already entering the 3 month of 2014. This year is flying by. March is a special month for us here at Ring 12. We are having our annual Hare Ball on Saturday the 22nd, I’m sure many of us are eager for that, especially headliner Anthony Lindan. With Ring 12 there are always exciting events to look forward to.
It was a month late (due to the blizzard in January) but we were finally able to have the broken wand ceremony for our esteemed colleague, teacher and friend, Karl Norman. There were more people in attendance than I would have imagined and I’m sure it was just the tip of the iceberg of which Karl’s heart has touched. There were more people than we had chairs. This has never happened in my memory. Larry Kohorst, Tony Weiland, and Todd Nelson were Able to share their words with everyone in attendance. Rosemary Hoffman, with the help of David Hoffman and Jim Ray were able to put together a life encompassing PowerPoint presentation of aspects of Karl’s life. I do not believe there was a dry eye in the house after the video. It was excellently done. Next was the actual broken wand ceremony, Jim Maloney, Bill Butski and Todd Nelson said a few words and broke the wand in honor the passing away of Karl and
handed the wand to his wife Norine. Next, to many people’s surprise, we learned Karl had been in a barbershop choir. The choir came out and sang a song in tribute to Karl. Then Todd performed an illusion using an empty box that was suddenly filled with tiny magic wands that Karl, himself had made, enough for everyone in attendance. As well, Vic Trabucco made a playing card with Karl as a king and there were enough of these to pass out. And finally, we all toasted Karl with his favourite drink, chocolate milk. It was a very powerful ceremony.
Now we could all breathe a sigh of relief as we had a comic magician as our lecturer. It was a tough act to follow but Chris Mayhew of Toronto was up to the task. Chris did any card tricks. I will just go over a few. The first I will mention is “Casino Royale with Cheese” in this illusion a signed card is lost in the deck and then found between two kings. Next I’ll mention “dairy Queens” here the kings are attracted to a spade, but the spade turns out to be the box and inside are the matching cards. There were many more impressive card tricks. It was a roller coaster night but a night that won’t soon be forgotten
Is Mentalism Boring? (By Scott Wells courtesy of Brian Blake
Is Mentalism Boring? (By Scott Wells courtesy of Brian Blake)
Why don’t see more mentalists performing at magic conventions and in restaurants and strolling at cocktail parties? Maybe there are strolling mentalists but why then are there so few of them? Why is their elite circle so small? Are the few who are working out there actually performing for a living rather than trying to fool magicians for fun? Do they care to be associated with magicians or do they want to distance themselves from magicians? How does mentalism differ from mental magic? Could it be that mentalism is just plain boring?
In today’s fast paced society, audiences wouldn’t patiently sit for 15 minutes while staring at a curtain on stage awaiting the emergence of an escape artist from locks, chains, a straight jacket or a milk can. They want immediate satisfaction. Spending idle time in such a way may have been acceptable 70 years ago, but not today or ever again. Today’s audience have come to expect instant fulfillment after watching TV sitcoms that often deliver more than a dozen laughs per minute. The commercial breaks aren’t fast enough, our cars aren’t fast enough, and even our computers aren’t fast enough. They need more power, more speed, instant gratification. And if they aren’t getting it in time, then, “click”, they surf to another channel.
At the end of a day or a week, most people are ready to relax and watch some mind-numbing
TV show or movie and there are more than enough candidates to fill that void. When we look for live entertainment for diversion, it’s often in the form of music or theatre, and live theatre is where we come in. Magic and mentalism is a performing art form. Magic is something that dulls the senses and entertains the brain, not through the use of puzzles, but through the use of visual stimulation. Magicians employ colorful boxes, tubes, cards, candles, balls, and other sundry props. Relying on such “props” is one reason that magicians are disdained by professional comedians who need nothing more than a microphone and their wits. On the other hand, mentalists utilize a minimum amount of props opting for a pen, paper, some envelopes, a clip board, and perhaps some cards. Most of what a mentalist uses to entertain for a full evening show can be carried in their suit coat and in their mind.
And perhaps that is the real difference between the magician and the mentalist. Whereas the magician can rely on a self-working trick that can be purchased at the magic shop that afternoon and inserted in the show that night (I shudder when I think that this actually takes place), the mentalist must rely on his presentation to sell his effect. Such skill at “selling” his effect takes time to rehearse and time to build up the effect. A magician can go from one unrelated effect to another and the audience is convinced that the “tricks” are accomplished through some surreptitious method whereas they are uncertain how the mentalist is accomplishing his feats (some higher knowledge, unseen forces, clairvoyance, etc.). The mentalist spends much more time refining his presentation and carefully perfecting not only what is said, but how it is delivered. A delicate web is being spun by the mentalist through their weaving of the plot. They follow a carefully prepared script much the same as an actor would build a plot, that has been refined over many performances. Similarly, some magicians prepare and rehearse a scripted performance and hone it through repeated performances, but more often than not, the majority have a general idea of what they want to do then “go with the flow” in whatever direction the audience wants.
In developing the plot, the mentalist must build suspense, intrigue, and interest. They do that through verbal communication and that often takes a considerable amount of time. Mentalism is like story telling. There are those who can read aloud from a book with great monotony and bore everyone within ear shot. Then there are those who inject enthusiasm and inflection in their reading and make the story exciting and alive. An exciting mentalist is one who keeps the pace of their show moving quickly often using wide gestures and pacing around the stage.
It is harder for a mentalist to get to the effect in a crowded, noisy cocktail party environment when attention to every word is important. A magician can make a sponge ball become two in a spectator’s hands and communicate nothing verbally and the volunteer understands the
effect. Magicians can develop interest immediately by merely bringing out their prop, although to some it may have the opposite effect. Based on their previous experience, the audience is immediately satisfied by knowing (?) what is about to take place when they see a prop. The audience is uncertain what is about to happen when a mentalist begins to talk because very often there is little or no base of comparison. Mentalists are basically selling themselves more than their props. Magicians are able to “sell” their shows better because of the props used. The more physical props that you take away, the more exciting, animated and visual you must be personally. Furthermore, as alluded to earlier, today’s audience can’t wait for something to happen and when it does, they don’t want to have to think about it. Again, they can dismiss magic as “trickery” but mentalism is something else entirely.
So what is the difference between mentalism and mental magic? A magician would ask for the name of a card then reveal the reversed card in the deck. A mentalist would hand out a deck of cards, ask the spectator to look at a card then tell them what card they viewed. The difference? One appears to be contrived with a gaffed deck so as to have a magical outcome whereas the other has no outward appearance of contrivance. From the audience’s viewpoint, the magician had control of the “props” and could have used some sleight of hand. The mentalist appears to have used nothing but his mind.
So why are there fewer mentalists? Perhaps it’s because, like juggling, it takes practice. Pat Hazell, a professional comedian/magician/juggler once told me how much more he respects jugglers because of their dedication to perfecting their art. They don’t just pick up three clubs then go out and print their business cards the next day. Their art requires months and years of commitment to reach a level that sets them apart from the common three ball juggling uncle in every family. A successful mentalist cannot purchase an ESP deck of cards and expect to entertain that evening unless he already knows how to “sell” the effect. He has to first create a persona or character role. Many magicians don’t care to put that much commitment into their performances and are satisfied with buying the latest dealer’s prop and entertaining with little pocket tricks, not that there’s anything wrong with that, and my comments are not meant to be a judgment of anyone who does this nor of any dealers who sell them (whew! I hope I covered myself). Another thing is that it takes a certain type of charisma or mystique, if you will, in a persons character to convince an audience that what they are seeing is real. I don’t know if magicians, in general, present their magic as if it were real. Most lack the necessary conviction required to completely “sell” the effect to the audience. Mentalists can’t lack that conviction and it must be carried through to the end of the performance and, many times, beyond into their “real” lives. If they are personally exciting or boring, then their presentation will generally follow suit. As a result of these factors, there are few who venture into the realm of mentalism
and stay there for long.
Mentalists who have appeared in magic convention line-ups have not always been well received (to use a hackneyed phrase). Their acts are often seen by organizers as slowing down the pace of the show. Mentalist’s shows are structured in such a way that they need to build credibility and therefor tend to stay on stage too long while trying to build that credibility. They also tend to work better for non-magicians than they do for magicians. Laymen are nonplused when a mentalist pulls out an Invisible Deck while magicians are non-impressed. Many magicians attend mentalist’s lectures and indeed use some of their effects in their own magic repertoires; however, I suspect that those effects are separated from the rest of their “magic” show and presented with some sort of disclaimer (comical or serious) that the effect is intended “for entertainment purposes only” and that the performer claims to have no supernatural powers.
So, is mentalism boring? Yes, it can be, but remember that commercial art is in the mind of the beholder, not the creator.