Monday April 7, 2014
6:30 PM –Doors
7:00 PM–Teaching Table and Meeting
Screening Room Cinema and Café
3131 Sheridan Drive
Amherst, New York 14226
Teaching Table: Todd “The Great” Nelson
Jay Scott Berry
Monday April 28, 2014
6:30 PM –Doors
7:00 PM –Teaching Table and Meeting
Location unknown as of writing the Hocus Pocus
Teaching Table: Gary Rog, Hamburg’s best
Hello to all,
As I look out the window it’s hard to believe that it is spring, considering the 6″ of wet snow I’m looking at. The only thing keeping me positive is we all know it has to happen soon!!
I’d like to thank all of you who attended the Hare Ball. I had a great evening with my family and friends. I hope all of you did as well. A huge thank you to all of you who helped make it a success. There are to many to name but from those who helped set-tear down , donated baskets for the auction, the auction ticket sellers, Shirley for making the centerpieces, Rosemary for the awesome tribute videos, Tony as MC and Jake running the sound and many many more of you. Thank you.
Ted Burzynski’s act was fabulous. I think he has a keeper there. Andrew McLaughlin did a great job and had the crowd amazed with his effect and stage presence at such a young age. Anthony Linden also did a great job entertaining all of us. Congratulations to Victor Trabucco on winning The Karl Norman Award and David Wiedemer on winning The Julian Snyder Cornerstone Award.
April is a great month of magic for our ring with two lectures and the worlds greatest one day convention MAWNY. Hope to see you at them all. Think Spring.
Provisional Members Announcement #1
Dan Block and Andrew McLaughlin are new provisional members. Per Ring 12 bylaws, their names must be published in the Hocus Pocus for two issues. If no one objects after the second publication, they will become full members in good standing.
It’s April, a month for all us fools to shine, we get to be a little more zany than usual. On a completely separate note; I recently bought an illusion called “Joshua Jay’s “Vegas Visit””. Some of you may be familiar with it because he showed it when he lectured here at ring 12. This lecture was before my time and I would love to have an opportunity to see him lecture again. But how do I know he lectured? On the accompanying DVD that came with the prop he Joshua Jay was showing the illusion to ring 12. I recognized many people as well as the fact that it was in the screening room. There were fewer movie posters but still enough posters to make it recognizable. I found the explanation on youtube, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uqhgl8JA-Tw&hd=1 .
Before I go I need to make a correction based on last month’s Hocus Pocus. I mentioned that Jim Ray worked on the PowerPoint presentation for Karl at the broken wand ceremony, I meant Jim Maloney. Sorry for the confusion.
Well, have a happy and Zany April
It’s that time of year again for elections:
During the June meeting, elections for Ring 12′s Board of Directors will be held. If you are a member in good standing and wish to run for the Board, please ask a Ring member to nominate you during the April or May meeting. The following Board incumbents are seeking reelection – Ed Barszcz, Mike Kugel, Todd Nelson, Jake Weiland. If there are no additional nominees, our Ring 12 secretary will cast one vote for the entire incumbent slate.
March’s teaching table was taught by Bill Price. This should be a familiar name because he has written many articles in the Hocus Pocus on memorization including how to memorize a deck. He talked and taught using his memorized deck. His first lesson was that someone randomly picked up a stack of cards and Bill was able to tell exactly how many cards were taken. The next lesson used a spinner and 8 different memorized decks. Someone randomly chose a deck while someone else would spin a spinner numbered 1 to 20 and Bill was able to tell you what card was at that spot in the deck. His final lesson taught how to find a card at the right spot after the cards were cut several times. It made me want to go and memorize a deck.
Next, after the business part of our meeting we watched the first of many clips from the late great Karl Norman. This month we watched “The Whole Hole Card”. We will watch an additional clip from Karl every month. Now, it was finally time for our lecturer, Shaun Robison. In addition to all the illusions he showed throughout the night, he also talked about some do’s and don’t’s. He emphasized developing a rapport and taking your time before beginning and other helpful tips.
The first set of illusions was using a nail writer, he was able to predict tic tac toe results and other ways to seem to be a step ahead of the patrons. The next illusion was called B.O.B. revisited. It used four half dollar coins that were under a shot glass and disappeared. The last coin to disappear was in the spectator’s hand. The next illusion was called “Cinch”. Here a regular sheet of paper turned into a $20 bill extremely quickly. Shaun also showed “Money Card” which is a version of 3 Card Monte where the money card actually turns into money. He concluded with “Eternal String” where a string is cut up and somehow is whole again. There were many more but for now that’s all the space I have for the I-90 magician.
That’s Enchantment! (By Scott Wells courtesy of Brian Blake)
Where were we when we lost it? It was a beautiful time. A time when magic was real. A time of enchantment. We spend our lives gathering life experiences so that we can have worldly knowledge, be responsible, reach maturity, and get a job. I’m talking about a time when we stop questioning certain things and accept half-truths as facts. We see things and assume that because we have seen something like it before or had a similar experience, then it must be the same so our brain accepts it and we rapidly dismiss it as mundane and move on to the next subject. Nothing new to learn there. We don’t seek out the proper answers because we think that we already have the answers based on similar experiences. Our minds give closure to things that may not really be fully closed. Illusions are based on the audience accepting to be nothing less than what we purport as real. They may not believe us at first, but they believe their eyes. And what the eye sees, the mind must believe. It’s like carrying on a conversation. Many times, unbeknownst to our conscious mind, we lead the conversation in the direction that we feel most comfortable based on similar experiences. When we reach this familiar ground in our subconscious, we go on auto pilot. We begin to tune out the other parties’ responses to our conversation and it becomes more one sided. We are looking for an opportunity to espouse our beliefs without regard to what the other party has to say. If we are carrying on a conversation with another who has dissimilar thoughts, then we both have our own agendas and no communication takes place. We both take off on our familiar tangent hoping to lead the other party to agreeing with us. When we get affirmation of our thoughts from the other party, then we have confirmation that our opinion(s) must be correct. Accordingly, our minds get more set and our opinions grow stronger and we learn to do this process again because “it works!”
As a result, we fail to communicate. We fail to listen to others. Not just to what they say but to what they mean. More often than not, we are forming our response before they have communicated to us. Indeed, if we have long held strong beliefs, then we are less apt to be open to any opinion other than our own. As a result of not being open to other opinions, we don’t converse.
As we form these opinions, we grow less able to converse. That is to say, we cannot communicate but instead we are lecturing. We are spewing rhetoric that has been chewed many times over. We are restating and reaffirming our opinions each time we enter into a conversation. And the more narrow our interests, then the more limited our field of opinions and the stronger they are. As a result, we begin to get cynical. We lose our ability to learn and our ability to be enchanted with new ideas.
It’s a sad thing, but perhaps strong opinions are a side effect of growing old. Now, strong opinions are certainly not bad. In fact our society must live by them otherwise we would live in a lawless, uncivilized world. It’s just that we should not be so quick to judge nor quick to draw opinions as to what we believe that someone is about to say. We should wait to hear what the other person is trying to say, what new idea that they are trying to share with us. We should be more tolerant, open, and understanding and willing to hear what others are really trying to say rather than what we think that they are about to say.
I draw an analogy to a group of magicians sitting around a table at a typical magic convention showing each other their version of “Twisting The Aces.” It’s inconceivable that someone would stop and say “That’s the best version that I’ve ever seen. There can be no further improvements on that effect. That is the pen-ultimate. Magic has reached it’s zenith. I’m never going to perform that effect any other way again.” A more likely scenario is just like joke telling. One joke (trick) spawns another person (magician) to tell (show) a joke (trick). It reminds the joke teller (magician) of a similar joke (trick) that they know. So they tune out anyone else’s funnier joke (improved trick) and tell (show) their similar joke (trick) that they know so very well. They ease into a zone of comfort.
If we remember what it was like when our brains were empty and thirsting for knowledge, then we should try to recreate that time. Just because what someone says, and some believe, is true, does not make it so regardless of how credible or “big” of a “name” the person has. Opinions bear pondering and testing regardless of who says it before believing and accepting them.
It’s been the accepted credo of magicians of late that we should entertain, not necessarily fool, our audiences. If that’s the case then we should be focusing on, and studying, more drama and truly becoming actors. Then we can play the part of a magician or any other character for that matter. Dai Vernon said that magic is inherently funny because of its element of surprise. That does not transcribe to “magic is inherently entertaining” but, done properly, it can be entertaining; however, it may not be enchanting. Therein lies the real secret.
I was most fortunate to spend some time with Marco the Magi (Cesareo Pelez), SAM Past President and creator of Le Grand David Magic Company and a most charismatic gentleman. Their show is truly a thing of beauty. It is a testament to their love for the art, for each other, and for those who also love magic. They have accomplished something that few magicians have even tried to create. Millions of words have been written about their show (now approaching their 2,000th performance) over the past 20 years. If words have not already described the beauty, the elegance, and the grace of Le Grand David, then nothing I say here will be eloquent enough to adequately convey its essence. Their show creates that feeling of enchantment. It makes you feel that magic can really happen. And it’s not just the “tricks” that make the show enchanting. Its the feel of the “Company”. Their love and respect for the art and, perhaps more importantly, for each other, is unparalleled. The company depends upon each other to such an extent that they almost know each other’s mere thoughts. They are all part of one body and if one part needs assistance, then the other parts rush to help. This makes their show flow exceptionally smooth. Props appear and disappear with such ease and expediency that, if one were to focus his attention on the choreography of the back stage management, it too would seem like magic. But the overall effect of the show, the elaborately decorated props, the graceful dancers, the perfect choreography, the efficiency of movement, the sound, lighting and costumes is not just one of magic nor does it result in just being entertainment but one of wonder or, as Cesareo says it (dramatically and slowly) . . . en-chant-ment!
We want our audience to be entertained but they can just as easily be entertained by other means such as theatre or movies or television. Magic must compete for the entertainment dollar today and there is one thing that separates our performing art from any other. Magic is something that enchants. It brings back that child-like wonder when we still believed that clapping our hands raised Tinker Bell from the dead. Just as Robin Williams learned in the movie “Hook” that he was THE Peter Pan, he was able to recapture that enchantment that life had taken from him. We must spin a web not of deceit and trickery, but of beauty and honesty so that the impossible is accepted as possible. That’s not just entertainment. That’s en-chant-ment!