Posts Tagged ‘entertainment.’

We try to go to the Pa Renaissance fair every year or at least every other year.  I won’t get into all the details because you can check them out here.  There are many shows to watch including magicians, jugglers, story tellers, musicians, singers, bawdy and comedy acts.  There are interesting shops to wander through, a few old time rides, for an additional coin of the realm (US Greenbacks) you can even ride an elephant. The human chess match between the Queen of England and the King of Scotland is not to be missed, and of course one does not want to miss the Royal Joust. There are endless food stalls selling everything from Turkey legs to bacon on a stick, Deep fried Oreos to Scotch egg eating competitions.  And then there are the costumes,  some are simply amazing and others, well others are just interesting but I like to see them all from those who are paid to be at the faire and those who fork over the $30.00 for the privilege to attend.

When you remove all the glitter, glamour and glitz it is simply the nerdiest place on earth.  A place where nerds from far and wide come to congregate, to drink and make merry where the Trekkies manage to blend in with the twihearts and the elves mingle with the crusaders.   A magical place where a 40 year old Harry Potter can sit with a 60 year old Robin Hood and both be served by the same tavern wench who wears a flint lock pistol on one hip and a sword on the other.

But just when you didn’t think it could get much nerdier it does.  We were heading off to see the falconer, along the way we noticed three teenage boys sitting at a picnic table playing dungeons and dragons!  Really boys, did your mom kick you out of the basement?

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Okay so I decided to list ten of my favourite entertainment quotes:  Feel free to add some in the comments section.

1 “Ready your breakfast and eat hearty, for tonight we dine in Hell”  From the movie 300

2 “next time someone asks you if you’re a god, you say YES!”  Ghostbusters

3 “Release The Kraken!”  Clash of the Titans

4 “I could have had a pissed on carpet”  The Big Lebowski

5 “Fill your hand you son of a bitch”  True Grit.

6 “Timmy’s in the well”  Lassie

7 “Poop in his hand! Poop in his hand!”  G-Force

8 “I’ve been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.” High Fidelity

9 “Get your stinking paws off me you damned dirty ape”  Planet of the Apes

10 “Nobody puts baby in a corner” Dirty Dancing.

(bonus quote),  “My precious…”  Lord of the Rings.

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This post is basically geared towards the magicians in the crowd, but I think you normal people will enjoy it as well. 

Not long ago I was asked if there were any magicians or effects that manage to impress me.  I’m assuming I was asked because I am quite ‘jaded’ when it comes to magicians.  The answer however, is a big yes. 

I still like finding clips of Doug Henning and Paul Daniels.  Watching Eugene Burger, Jeff McBride and Ricky Jay is always a treat. There are guys like Shawn Farquhar who I’ve discussed in these pages before.  Donovan, Tony Chris, Matthew Johnson, Ray Wong and of course the late Tony Eng and Sid Lorraine are also on my favorites list, all for different reasons, all are extremely entertaining.    Ben Salinas, here in State College is just a hoot to watch, his smile and enthusiasm are infectious.

Montreal is a mecca for magicians.  While there are many reasons for this, I honestly believe the majority or reasons can be attributed to Tom Auburn (Magic Tom).  It always amazed me how many people I have come across that had been on his magic show.  In University so many of my classmates would come up to me with the same, similar story: “…your family is in the magic business?  Do you know Magic Tom?  I loved magic Tom, I was on his show when I was a kid, and I never missed watching that show.”  Nobody showed any shock that my father owned a magic shop.  In BC, I got odd looks when people found out what I did. After Magic Tom passed away people would come to me telling me about the time they were on the show, eventually I would be asked if I could make an introduction, at which time I would have to deliver the sad news.  I always had a hard time telling my friends and acquaintances that Magic Tom had passed away, every time they would get that look in their eyes as if I had just killed off part of their childhood. 

Perhaps my father, or other magi from Quebec will comment on this post giving possible explanations as to why magic is so popular in Quebec.  Because of this popularity Quebec has produced some excellent magicians. There are too many to name but a few examples are

David Acer:  Unfortunately I can only watch him for short periods of time as my stomach and sides quickly begin to hurt from laughing so hard.

Richard Saunders:  Crap man, I hate this guy.  I once sold him an effect.  I saw him perform it a few days later and I had no idea how he did it!

Roger Benoit:  Never failed to amaze and amuse me.  Roger may find it interesting that he is one of my favourite magicians.  

Gary Kurtz:  Gary would stand at the front door to the shop and call over to me.  ‘Brian Pick up that deck of cards you are using and spread them face up on the table and think of one card when you have the card in mind shuffle the deck”  That done he would then name the card I was thinking of.  Doesn’t sound like much but believe me it is nothing short of a miracle

I was in the Montreal shop practicing a small cups and balls routine, (Three balls penetrate three cups) a customer walks in and offers to give me some pointers.  I want to say it was Jean Boucher but can’t swear to it, anyway he has me set the effect up.  We go through the routine together very slowly.  I picked up the first ball made it vanish from my hand only to appear under a cup that is on the table.   The ordeal is repeated with the second ball.   I pick up the third ball and the customer says to me.  ‘We should change this up, pick up the cup first so we can see that there is nothing underneath”  I picked up the third cup and underneath it was my own wrist watch. Son of a Bitch!

Alain Choquette:  I’m not even going to discuss Alain’s magic.  He performed live on a popular french TV show and all the girls loved him.  He made me quite popular by association, Thanks Alain. 

Sorry there are just too many to name such as Romain, Carl Cloutier, Patrick Reymond, Blair Marshall, Ted Outerbridge, Lawrence Larouche and sorry to all those that I have forgotten to name here.

My point being is yes I am jaded when it comes to magic.  Yes sometimes I tend to run the other way when I see a group of magicians, yes I may break out in a rash when I see somebody with a deck of cards.  But in the end I can honestly say that magicians, despite their reputations as being complete nerds are some of the most incredible people around.

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Doug Henning believed that it was his job to create a sense of wonder for his audience.   

I remember the first time I saw an effect that created that sense of wonder.  I don’t remember how old I was, I don’t even remember a lot of detail. I just remember an overwhelming sense of ‘holy shit’ for lack of better words.

The magician in question went by the name of Israel.  If you asked him he would tell you his mother is the earth, and his father is the moon.  He was just that kind of guy.  He came into the magic shop, (our basement at the time) took off his sandals, sat cross legged on a bamboo mat he had set up and proceeded to perform ‘coins across’ where magically, four coins travel one at a time invisibly from one hand to the other.  This is a standard effect that most magicians perform, and to this day it is one of my favorites. Perhaps it was my age, where I was in my life, his presentation or a combination of many things at once.  But for me that performance created a sense of wonder.  I think (possibly blame) that moment for my inability to escape magic.  

Another such moment happened years later, only this time I saw it from the other side.

Once again I was in the magic shop in Montreal.  A good friend and brilliant magician Romain was helping us out behind the counter as he often did.

For you magi out there who don’t know who Romain is, well suffice it to say he was a student of Slydini, He was a demonstrator at Tannen’s magic shop, one (if not, the) oldest magic shops in the USA, He has an effect written up in ‘Million Dollar Secrets’ by non-other than Frank Garcia. Romain is the Monarch of Manipulation.  He is known around the world and he is a magic icon in Canada…And, for those in the know, he is one of Canada’s top ballroom dancers.

A young girl wanders into the magic shop.  She actually belonged to the owner of another retail shop a few doors down.  Romain is sitting behind the counter and decides to show her a magic trick.  The response from the little girl is indescribable But it was easy to see what was going through her mind.  She was just old enough to know that magicians show tricks, that things just don’t vanish or appear intellectually she knew it could not happen, yet it just did!  And she was young enough that she only recently left that wonderful childhood place where everything is possible and most things are magical.  Romain let that girl know that despite what she had learned, there is still magic in the world. I will never forget the look of wonder on that girls face.  After she left Romain turned to me and said, “Brian that is what this is all about” It was one of many valuable lessons Romain has taught me over the years. 

Romain, if you are reading, thanks for the lessons you probably don’t even realize you taught me.  I’ve been watching So You Think You Can Dance, it is nice to see your influence has gone beyond magic.

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For me, one of the difficutlies in writing is putting some of the random thoughts that run through my head onto the page.  The thoughts are significant but they often don’t go anywhere, no real rhyme or reason they are just there and I think about them and I believe they have a place in my blog. I’m just not always sure why.  Lately I’ve been thinking; do I have to explain them?  Does there have to be some sort of point?  Am I free to hop on my soap box and just post random posts for the heck of it?   Darn right I do, it is my blog dammit so I can pretty much do as I wish.   I will continue to try to keep my three simple rules in place.  I will not discuss work, I will try not rant, (or obviously rant).  And I will try to post at least twice a week.

I was watching Bones the other day and one of the characters mentioned that they don’t like magic. I can certainly understand not liking the way certain magicians present magic, but not too like magic?  It is unfortunate that there are a whole lot of magicians who perform simply to fool, to say look what I can do and you can’t.  A really good magician doesn’t try to fool you, a really good magician tries to create that ‘sense of wonder’ for you. I put the blame of somebody not liking magic squarely on the shoulders of those magi who simply go out and perform without really understanding what it is all about.  Those are tricksters not magicians.  Magicians are (for the most part) wonderful, amazingly talented people who live to entertain thier audiences.

It is (to me) odd that people are ready to dismiss magic because of a bad magician yet still like music even after listening to a particularly horrible singer. I suppose that is because a singer never tried to make a fool out of you when a magician has.  Actually I can think of a bunch of reasons and again it is on the shoulders of bad performers or those pesky tricksters who insist on ruining the magic for everyone.

Paul Daniels a famous British magician had a routine where he had two solid steel rings that link and unlink.  He had a little girl come up on the stage and explained how the effect worked, he explained that all you need is a bit of confidence.  He had the little girl try to unlink the linked rings, of course she couldn’t.  Then he gave the little girl an invisible confidence pill and had the girl try again.  This time of course the rings just melted apart.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on the little girls face.  I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when he was finished.  Mr. Daniels created magic. 

David Copperfield performed an effect where he told the story of how when he was a little boy he always wanted to see snow.  Slowly it began to snow as the snow got thicker he started to spin in slow circles .  Pretty soon the whole theatre was in the midst of a small blizzard of snow and through it all David continued to slowly spin.  Somehow in mid spin, in front of our eyes David turned into a young David Copperfield.  Right where he was standing there was a little boy with his arms out looking up slowly spinning trying to catch the flakes on his tongue.  I was watching the audience.  I had to smile, David brought everyone back to their childhood if just for a moment.  I still smile every time I think about that particular effect.  David created magic.  

Can you think of a bigger star than Harry Houdini?  He has been dead 84 years now yet I’m hard pressed to find anybody who doesn’t know who he was.  Can you think of a world wide superstar before Harry Houdini?  I’ll save you some time, no you have not.  There wasn’t one.  Did you know Houdini was one of the first 15 people to fly a plane?  He was the first to fly in Australia.  Because of his passion, because of his fame he helped bring air travel, (for good or bad) to the attention of the masses and made it possible, (again good or bad) in a sense for us to live the lives we enjoy today.

The next time you come to the conclusion that you don’t like magic try to figure out why, then drop me a line I’d be interested to know why.  And the next time you are watching a movie think about the special effects and don’t forget to thank a magician for making it possible.

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