Sunday, November 23, 2008

New Adventures

It's been almost three months since I've had the chance to add an update so while I have a few moments, I thought I'd fill you in on what's been going on since the last time we spoke.

The most exciting thing is that I've signed on to perform close-up magic every Sunday night at Ginza, a beautiful restaurant in Bloomfield specializing in Japanese cuisine. They have a number of Hibachi stations and wonderful sushi selections - and now there's magic every Sunday evening from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM. Ginza is truly a destination restaurant worth the trip from just about anywhere and I've been having a great time there. Make sure to stop by and say hello.

In September, Sandy and I wrapped up our season at Quassy Amusement Park and started off October with two days at the Harwinton Fair. We've been there for 15 years now and always have a lot of fun. Later on in the month, I performed on two comedy club bills and did some walk-around magic at the Waterbury branch of the University of Connecticut. Speaking of schools, I was also the guest speaker for two psychology classes at Masuk High School in Monroe. We discussed the science of deception and why magic works. I also had the opportunity to bust out a couple of tricks for the appreciative students.

Another show of note, mostly because of the unusual venue, was doing some walk-around magic for the Rockbestos-Surprenant Cable Corporation as part of their awards dinner. The event was held at the New England Air Museum and it was very exciting to be performing while literally surrounded by history. Military planes and helicopters are all beautifully preserved and on display and the affair was held right in the middle of it all. It was quite a memorable event.

Despite the economic downturn, holiday shows are still coming in. The stock market might go up and down but the holidays still arrive despite it all. There are still some open dates, however, so if you're in the market for some entertainment for your holiday get-together, get in touch soon!

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Summer Wrap-Up

It's been a short but eventful summer.

In early July, Sandy and I wrapped up the first leg of our run at Quassy Amusement Park with a familiar face in the crowd during one of the last shows. Not being able to place this person right off, I chatted briefly with him after the show and soon discovered that it was actor Anthony Edwards of Top Gun and ER fame. You just never know who you're going to run into!

In July, Sandy and I took the big show to Ocean Beach Park in New London where we participated in their "Magic on the Boardwalk" series. We've been part of this ongoing event for the last six years now - there are magic performances every Wednesday throughout the summer - and on a pleasant summer evening, such as this one was, there's no better place to do a show. Plus, the crowds who attend are great. They're there to see magic and they're always enthusiastic and gracious.

Later on in the month, I was scheduled to do an in-store promotion at an educational toy store in a shopping mall but the show was moved out of the store to the common area of the mall, creating one of the more unusual performing environments I've ever worked in. It was a good crowd, though, and Sandy and I had fun with the admittedly strange situation.

Also in July, I had the opportunity to work for Merrill Lynch, performing strolling magic for two huge employee functions in the Waldorf-Astoria ballroom in New York. It was a wonderful time and great fun to meet people from all over the country who were invited to these elaborate affairs.

In August, we were invited to perform once again at the Wolcott Country Fair where Sandy and I did two family shows under a big tent before returning to Quassy the following week to finish up this year's run (we'll still be there weekends through the end of September).

There wasn't much down-time to speak of this summer, though Sandy and I did get a chance to see Journey, Heart and Cheap Trick on one bill as they came through Connecticut. Also, we took a day trip to see the new museum that was built close by the site of the original 1969 Woodstock festival in upstate New York. Unfortunately, a power outage in the town of Bethel closed the museum for the day but we did stop by the festival site which has been preserved and marked with a sculpture. Unfortunately, the plaque on the sculpture had John Sebastian's name spelled incorrectly but the place still had an amazing vibe. You could almost still hear Jimi Hendrix's Star-Spangled Banner echoing off the surrounding hillsides. We're hoping to get back there and maybe even see the museum this time!

Holiday shows are starting to trickle in and once Labor Day is over, December will be filling up fast. We're also looking forward to our annual performances at the Harwinton Fair on October 4th and 5th this year.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Another Quick Update

I know...I know! It's been almost three months since I've posted but things have been busy, busy, busy. In fact, I have just enough time for a brief post (a show tonight and three shows tomorrow!) but I do hope to have more time for blogging as things settle down for the summer.

Since we last spoke, our season at Quassy Amusement Park got underway. Sandy and I added several new pieces to the show this year, including one where an unfortunate thing happens to a kid's sneaker while we're trying to clean it with a new gadget. It's very funny as I think you can gather from the picture - particularly from the expression on the face of the loanee as smoke starts to pour out of the contraption. Of course, everything is put right at the end and the volunteer's footwear is restored to good-as-new condition (or at least as good as when we first borrowed it.)

It was also graduation season which means lots of post-prom and post-grad parties. These are always a lot of fun but it also means staying up until all hours of the night. For example, I got home at four in the morning one day last week after doing two high schools in one overnight period. (As of this writing, I have one more to do before I can get back to sleeping during relatively normal hours.) In the middle of all the usual June craziness, my youngest daughter, Heather, graduated from high school after receiving a number of academic awards and scholarships. She'll be on her way to the University of Connecticut in the fall and we're very proud of her.

That's it for now. More developments as they occur...

Monday, March 31, 2008

In Like a Lion, Out Like a Klutz

March certainly began normally enough. Corporate clients this month included Pfizer and Northeast Utilities. I also had the chance to do a fund-raising show for a local high school which turned out to be a lot of fun.

Later in the month, however, during a performance for a regional convention of the Future Business Leaders of America, I lost my balance on stage (the back wall immediately behind the stage that I went to lean on to pick something up wasn't a wall at all but a projection screen) and took a bit of a tumble. I managed to return to my normally vertical orientation and finished the show, thinking at the time that my only injury was a bruised ego. As it turned out, however, two days later every muscle in my lower back decided to play freeze tag, which totally incapacitated me for the better part of four days. Needless to say, not fun at all.

I managed to block off an evening to take my daughter, Rebecca, to see Bernadette Peters in concert with the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra. Rebecca has very eclectic musical tastes for a 21-year old and while Broadway show tunes are not my favorite form, the concert was very enjoyable and it was good to have some Dad-daughter time. (She's pictured here just before showtime in front of the beautiful Providence Performing Arts Center.) Rebecca is a big fan of Ms. Peters and it was fun just to see her face when the star of the show took the stage. I believe she had a similar look when I took her to see the Backstreet Boys some years ago but, as the mind tends to erase horrible memories of the kind that only ten thousand screaming teens and tweens can create, I can't be totally sure.

A big highlight this month for me was the release of a long-forgotten recording of Simon & Garfunkel on their 1969 tour. This tour was significant for a couple of reasons. First, it was the only time they had ever taken a full band on the road with them and second, it was their last tour before they would split up the following year.

This tour was undertaken after they recorded the Bridge Over Troubled Water album. However, its release was still months away so no one in the audience was familiar with the new material, including the title song. In fact, Art Garfunkel introduces the song as a new one as the now-familiar piano chords begin. Now, I've seen Simon & Garfunkel together and separately a number of times and every time the intro to Bridge begins, the audience goes wild. However, on this recording, the song is met with silence; nobody had ever heard it. Art Garfunkel then proceeds to deliver a rendition that rivals the studio version and when he brings the song to its conclusion, it's total pandemonium. The audience's approbation literally roars out of the speakers and you realize that the audience at that time and place knew they had just witnessed the birth of a timeless song. It's an amazing moment and we're fortunate that someone dug this tape out of the vault and made it available.

The new CD is called simply Live 1969 and is only available at Starbucks right now (which makes me want to go into a music store and order a latte...) but it'll be in regular stores (i.e. ones that don't serve coffee) sometime in the fall.

See you soon...

Friday, February 29, 2008

Toy Story

February is usually a quiet month and this one was no exception save for the three tumultuous days I performed at Toy Fair '08, the Toy Industry Association's annual trade show at the cavernous Javits Center in New York City.

I was representing Melissa & Doug, whose quality products grace the shelves of high-end toy stores all over the globe. In recent years, the company has been moving into the magic set market. This year, it's introducing four new sets aimed at kids 8 and older that are more sophisticated and evolved than perhaps any magic sets since the legendary Mysto Magic Sets last seen in the 1930s and '40s.

My job was to demonstrate items from these four new kits to some of the more than 35,000 attendees from all over the globe. Of more than 1500 exhibitors, Melissa & Doug had the largest booth so, needless to say, things were busy, busy, busy for nine hours a day. Buyers who watched the demonstrations ranged from small buyers such as a lovely couple I met who owned a toy shop in a suburb of Dallas to heavy hitters from such companies as, Hewlett-Packard and others.

It was truly a great experience, I was treated exceptionally well, and I hope to be working on some future projects with the company.

Earlier in the month, I did a show for a school in North Haven that was celebrating its 50th birthday. However, due to some kind of miscommunication between the agent who booked the show and the client, they were expecting a clown to show up.

After I arrived and set up the show, the contact at the school asked me if I was going to change. Thinking she was kidding, I asked, "Into what?" Not to be deterred by something as banal as a joke, she said, "You're a clown, right?" Still thinking she was kidding, I replied, "It depends who you ask..." Her continued lack of amusement at my witty banter told me that she wasn't kidding in the least. I told her that there probably had been a mixup of some kind and that I was not, nor have I ever been, a clown. This news bulletin caused the contact to enter a mild freakout state. By the way, this is about ten minutes before showtime and children had alreadly begun to file into the auditorium. Since she had no choice but to let me go on, I decided the best revenge was to do a great show. You can read about the results here and here.

We'll talk again next month.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Nothing To See Here. Please Move Along...

January has always been a relatively slow month, show-wise, and this year's edition has done nothing to dispel that notion. On the plus side, it always provides much-needed time to recharge, work on some new material, and even spend time with a favorite new Christmas gift. (I heartily recommend Tiger Woods PGA Tour 08 and Assassin's Creed, by the way...)

I did get the opportunity to do a show for a corporate group in New York City last week that was quite fun, despite the fact that it was 8 o'clock in the morning. The audience was far more receptive and enthusiastic than anyone has any business being on the left side of noon so it was a gratifying experience for everyone involved. I'll be returning to the city in February to represent a major toy manufacturer at Toy Fair '08 and I'll fill you in on that next month.

Sandy and I got the chance to see Cloverfield on its opening day. I'm a sucker for huge-monster-comes-out-of-the sea-and-destroys-a-large-city movies (and there's a surprising number in that genre, even if you take the Japanese monsters out of the equation) so this was a must-see. We enjoyed it immensely though the erratic camera work (the premise of the film is that it was supposedly shot with a handheld video camera) reportedly is making some audience members queasy. However, in my opinion, it was everything that the cheesy remake of Godzilla in 1998 should have been...and more.

In case you're one of the two or three that hasen't seen any of the viral marketing for the film, check out the trailer:

See you in February...