Although I never gravitated to it for finding cards, I did enjoy sitting at one of the eighteen iMacs provided by Apple's John Signa. Bryce Kuhlman had programmed a number of activities with which you could visit your "past lives" things that happened at previous conventions , test your knowledge of MAGIC Magazine, re-read highlights of eighteen years of MAGIC , write a letter to the editor, and even be matched up with the cover subject you're most like.
I tried the knowledge test and felt pretty good at missing only three questions, crushing the lady next to me who worked for the magazine. Of those I attended, I loved Joanie Spina's on Directions, also popular with everyone else who attended. What a neat, smart magician. John Gaughan introduces Balsamo. Fascinating talks included an erudite opening lecture by Mark Kornhauser on experimentation, Richard McDougall's views on theater and magic, and Richard Garriott's tale of space travel.
Garriott is too cool for magic. Mike Caveney interviewed John Gaughan on his career in magic, and Micheal Weber interviewed Jules Fisher, lighting director for almost every important theatrical event of the past forty years. Weber also performed a funny News Update that skewered some of the big names in magic.
But the funniest talk and one of the best received was that of Bill Schmeelk on magic catalogs, stuff you just can't make up, climaxing with a "catalog trick" I would have been proud to have performed in high school. Michael Weber turned up every so often to explain new uses for our cleverly gaffed room keys. David Williamson, a true nut, kept supplying comic videos of insane stuff happening during the convention, my favorite using a Dai Vernon puppet. Ah, I have footage he didn't show. And Eric Mead presented mini-lectures called "Rhetorical Answers" on such topics as "favorite methods," illegal downloading, camaraderie in magic, and his cool false shuffle.
Eric is such a bright, likeable guy that his stints were eagerly awaited. David Williamson and friend film a new bit. Ginny Aronson divines a serial number on a bill. Occasionally, these guys did real magic. One reported performance that I missed was Tim Conover's close-up show, including his fabulous handling of Goshman's salt shaker routine.
Jeff Haas showed me a great take on Unshuffled. Claude Crowe shared a Jack the Ripper card trick with me.
Much more than documents.
And I was there to see young Matt Richman, who two years ago caught our attention with his work on the Charlie Miller Cascade Control and who has been catching everyone's attention on Youtube with his work on the Diagonal Palm Shift, asking former child prodigy Derek DelGaudio to demonstrate some of his unearthly skill, which he did. What is cool is that these guys have such awesome talent and are still nice. But the best thing that I stumbled upon was Simon and Ginny Aronson performing their two-person mind reading act.
Holy cow. Some magic is just so good it's spooky.
Of that taught, I enjoyed Paul Gertner's advice on the classic force, and I loved everything Rune Klan did, from a card trick with a Mene Tekel deck to the production of a knife and a pool cue from his old socks. Of that performed, it was fun to see Tim and Andre Kole perform together.
Man, it's been over 42 years since I first saw Andre perform, when I was a student at the University of Illinois. I enjoyed Tyler Wilson's Sam the Bellhop parody, Marco Tempest's interactive tv magic, Malin Nilsson looking great with a guy accompanying her on a grand piano, and Chris Hart, even though he suffered through a smoke alarm going off during his act. Ed Alonzo cracks me up, but I wish he had brought Britney along. I last saw this done by Tommy Edwards at an Invocational in Chicago, and I've always considered it a lovely piece. Arthur Trace added relevance to his magic: his Miser's Dream receptacles were the cans that formed a tin can telephone; his floating paper rose buzzed because it seemed to contain a trapped bee.
Greg Kennedy juggled inside an inverted clear plastic cone. But my favorite entertainer on the big shows was emcee Noel Britten, hilarious throughout, and with a joke about the Luxor as brilliant as Bob Read's was about New York New York a few years ago.
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I should schedule a trip to Bath just to see him work. I'll trade you a Noel Britten for a Trixie Bond. Too bad there was no time for swimming. The hotel maids are just too wussy. The South Point's theater for the "big" stage shows was half the size of that of the Orleans, so two seatings were necessary to squeeze us all in.
The theater itself was quite modern, with a combination of table and theater seating and a beautiful overhead lighting system that looked like a starry night sky. The restaurants easily accommodated us with friendly staffs and menus that didn't gouge. Hotel drawbacks: no free wi-fi, the restaurants occasionally closed, and the maids were easily spooked. To wit: I found the message light on my phone blinking, with news that I had a message at the front desk.
The message was that the supervisor wished to speak to me. She did, alas: "Housekeeping is complaining that you are keeping a snake in your room.
As I said, we all experienced a different convention. The maid spoke mostly Spanish, and I regret not knowing the translation for "rubber snake. This year's cover party theme was the "Class of ," an inspired choice. You entered what seemed to be a high school gym done up for a sock hop. Basketball hoops stood at each end of the small wooden court, and crepe paper streamers issued from above a rotating mirror ball. A 50s sound track played in the background. Later, this would transition to soundtracks from the 60s, the 70s, the 80s, and so on; not my favorite musical decades, but I saw younger guys bopping along as the evening progressed.
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