picture missingThis blog has been set-up to provide daily information about the 2006 IBM National Convention to members of Ring 170.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Final Evening Gala (Day 5)

The final evening gala was again held at the Olympia theater. After the award of the money collected under the "Share the magic" theme, for the Children's Hospital of Miami, Rogger Miller and Fred Casto were introduced (outgoing and incoming International Presidents).
The show proper started with a traditibal manipulation show, that seemed to be a tribute to Fred Kaps. Unfortunately, due to less that perfect audio, I missed the magician's name. The MC role was taken by Orlando's John Ekin, who did a very good job. The first act was Charlie Frye & Company (Sherry), in a crazy, energetic juggling act. The next perform was Lu Chen, with a modern themed manipulation act. Yumi from japan gave us a traditional Asian manipulation act, very poised and very elegant. Then Charlie Frye (& Sherry) returned, in an act where Charlie carried out many different prodcutions, in his usual high energy way. The evening closed with the third performance in four days by Junge, Junge! This was very different to either of the two previous performances. The best way to describe it is perhaps to say that they used large felt disks with a center hole as troublewits. In other words the disks were folded, placed on their heads, on their arms, et., to represnt different things. This was done synchronized to music, a very entertaining show.

After the show we went back to the convention hotel for one last walk hrough the dealer room and to watch the strolling Olympics. However, by 11:30, half an hour after the planned time, nothing seemed to be going on, so that was the end of the 2006 IBM National Convention.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Day 5 - Morning & Afternoon

So the final day has arrived. The morning lecture started a little later than the activities on the other days, thank goodness. For this lecture the IBM had invited Jack Kodell, a magician from the golden age of magic, to sit down and be interviewed (by John Ekin of Orlando). Jack had a number of firsts, some of them were: he was the first magician to work with birds, the first to perform on ice and the first to work in Vegas. In addition to all that he married a lovely english lady, Mary Naylor, who also participated in the discussion with some wise words of wisdom about stagecraft. Jack's stories, backed up with video clips of himself and other key performers from that era, were a fascinating insight into a time when magicians scorned bookings less than six months, and interesting characters owned Las Vegas. John Ekin did a great job of leading the discussion along, and all present agreed that the time allotted was far too short.

In the afternoon I attended the final of the "Big Three" sessions. This was a simulated TV program a la Letterman & Leno, in which a number of magicians were interviewed. Apparently the sessions were also streamed live across the Internet, and can also be downloaded from the IBM website. In this session the first interview was with Andrew Payne and Keith Barber, who run a website where you can download podcasts (audio files) to listen to on your computer or MP3 player (IPod, etc.). These are weekly "broadcasts", and as they are approaching their first anniversary, there are almost 50 out there to listen to. Normally about 30 minutes long, they are just the thing to have in your car on the way to work or a gig.
Next we heard from Fantasio, about how he got started in the cane and candle business. The Texas based magician, Scott Wells, played the late night host role, and the interviews were interspersed with magic related commercials, just like a real show. Other guests were the three Germans from Junge, Junge!, and Michael Ammar, who had arrived at the convention to attend the Order of Merlin breakfast. The final of the day activities was an autograph session with the stars, and the Grand Banquet, at which the official change of IBM leadership is celebrated.

Look for a final posting later tomorrow, with details of the Closing Gala Show.

Day 4 - Stage Show Competition & Results

This evening 6 competitors trod the hallowed planks of the Olympia theater, 5 adults and one junior. The first performance was a unique motorcycle themed act. It started with the sound of a crash, then the curtain was raised to show Latko, from Argentina, sitting amongst a number of motorcycle parts scattered around the stage. He then proceeded to treat them in magical ways, including productions, disappearances and transformations, adding the end result to the skeleton of the motorcycle standing center stage. After production of a helmet, probably the best effect in the act, he "rode" the repaired bike forward about 20 feet.

He was followed by Hikari of Japan, a young lady that performed a stylish traditional Asian themed act. She worked with silks, balls and rings, mixed with dance and elegant movement.

The next act was a comedy act, Dave Kaplan (Columbus, OH) appearing as the Great, and sometimes Above Average, Kaplan. He included a very clever way to do a bowling ball production, which later was cleverly removed by floating up and away (switched for a black balloon). He also produced a lighted candelabra from inside his jacket, and played a tune on a balloon.

Wookie (Seoul, Korea) performed a manipulation act based on a young girl's dreams, producing all sorts of girl realted articles, finishing with a transformation of her clothes to a wedding dress.

Kyoko (Japan) performed a fast paced beauty palor themed show, producing relevant items, such as combs, scissors and hair-dryers. She finished the act by transforming from the black clad hairdresser to the stylishly dressed client, by climbing through the hairdresser's chair..

Finally, we were treated to an excellent junior performance by the ten year old Eli Portala. he did some excellent productions, tap dancing, even a dancing cane, all to a 40's theme. Watch that name, this young name has a huge potential.

While the judges were tabulating the results, Roy Houston came on to entertain us with some classical illusions. In his introduction we were informed that Roy had performed at the Olympia before, in fact it had been 50 years ago. Roy treated us to three classics, the 'Girl (and objects) From Suspended Drum', 'Light Bulbs Through Girl' and 'Sawing a Girl in Half'. For historians, Roy mentioned that the first illusion has been featured for over 40 years in Abbots's catalog, with Roy's picture.

After Roy's show, the results of the competitions were announced. Firstly for the close-up, the award of merit (runner-up), and People's Choice, went to M.C. Chow of Hong Kong, China. The first prize of $500, but not the Gold Cups, went to John Born of New York.

The junior award ($500) went to Eli Portala, who also won an all expenses paid trip to Fantasma Magic in New York, or Las Vegas.

The stage competition runner up was Dave Kaplan, from Columbus, OH, who also won the People's Choice. Winner of the $1000 first prize award, but again not the Golf Medal, was Kyoka of Japan.

The late lecture this evening was given by Aldo Colombini, who was as entertaining as ever, showing some easy to do, but very powerful, effects. He also had a couple of guests, who have contributed to his book "Impromptu Card Magic", Ivan Amodei and Aldo's new partner, Rachel Wild. Coincidentaly, both of them managed to fluff their tricks, adding to the merriment of the late evening.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Another picture from Miami 2006

Michael Close and Steve Hart enjoy a laugh in the dealer room

Day 4 - Morning and Afternoon

The morning started a little later than normal, 8:30 a.m., but probably still too early. The first lecture was by David and Dania, the quick change artists who had headlined the previous evening. Even seeing the changes in a non-performance setting did not detract from the magical effect. We saw how Dania wears 6 or seven layers, weighing a total of 28 to 30 pounds. After the first three changes, where the dresses are actually dropped, the remaining changes occur through the top part of the dress falling and becoming the lower part of the new dress. This means Dania is still carrying quite a lot of weight. David had many tips for those contemplating quick-change as an art, or for those wanting to use it as part of a magic act. David and Dania will shortly be organizing Master Classes for those wanting to develop their quick change routine. For information contact them at costumechange.com.

The Close Up Competition took up the rest of the morning. To enable all attendees to see the finalists, they were required to perform their act four times , each time in a different room. The rooms had been equipped with raised seats, but even with four rooms many had to stand.

In the room where I was watching (standing), the performers came through in the following sequence. Donovan Denscher, of Calgary, Canada, kicked it off for us. He performed a high energy, light comedy routine that included a 'Post-It notes on body' prediction, as well as a 'card to wallet in pants in suitcase' routine that was very clever. Although I do not expect him to win, he was my overall favorite based on his presentation.
Next came the local favorite, Billy Ray the Trailer Trash Magician, of Naples, Florida. Billy Ray takes some classical magic and wraps it in a different 'red-neck' skin, in a very effective way. In his set he basically does a 'card to pocket' and a 'chop cup' routine.
John Born, of New York, performed a 'random card at thought of number', followed by an impressive coin matrix and linking rings, ninja size. His act was straight, i.e. no comedy, with a background of soft music.
The next contestant, Rod Chow from Vancouver, Canada, fully expoited his bubbling personality in a fast paced, money themed act, with bill changes and bill productions; he ended up with a cape of dollars and dollar streamers.
Raymond, from Macau, China, had a more traditional table manipulation act. Coins, glasses appreared, the coins travelled from glass to glass and then he finished by appearing what looked like colored poker chips, but which ended up as a picture of a young lady. His rating may suffer because of his use of lighted cigarettes in the act.
The last performer was MC Chow, and I believe that he is likely to be the winner, based on the audience reaction. He also had a more traditional table manipulation act, starting with a matrix effect using red poker chips. One of these chips was then used to change the faces of a deck of cards from white to red. He then used the cards for some excellent routines, including a 'torn and restored card matrix' and 'Ace assembly', where the Aces magically appeared on the table from apparently empty hands. He finished up with the production of a number of brandy glasses and a brandy bottle.
The winner of the close up competition will be announced tonight at the stage show competition, so look for the result in this blog tomorrow morning.

After the competition, the rotating lecture today was the Chuck Hickock mentalism lecture. Chuck showed us a short version of his show, and then proceeded to dissect it for us. He gave good explanations of what he was doing and why. He starts his act with a magic square, moves into a memory demonstration using postcards from the 50 states and then finishes with a multiple book test type effect, that is very powerful. Mentalists should take a look at his site, http://www.chuckhickok.com, click here for his books and other tools.

The final lecture of the day was a rip-roaring dip in the past from Bev Bergeron. While teaching some useful tricks, he instilled the importance of having a reason for every move in an act. The lecture was livened up with video, from the good old days, and Bev's tales of how he had learnt why not to do what he was telling us to avoid.

Stage show competition description and results of both stage show and close up will be posted tomorrow morning.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Day 3 - International Gala Show & late lecture

The International Gala Show was also held at the Olympia theater, so needed the short bus ride to arrive there. The show started right on time, as as the night before, we were entertained while waiting with live music by Michael Close. Tonoight's MC was, of course for an international show, Aldo Colombini. [Entertainment Tonight note from the red carpet buzz: Aldo has not only become a US citizen recently, he is now also a Floridian. Wild Magic from Tampa has become Wild/Colombini Magic.] Aldo was as good as he always is in this role and provided entertaining filling between the acts. The evening started with Lu Chen from Taiwan, who performed an almost traditional, but energetic, doves and manipulation act.

The Junge, Junge! group from Germany returned to perform their other well known act, an Englishman in New York. While this was quite good, I think their show of the previous evening far superior. A second German act was next, Julius Frack, whose tailor themed act introduces thimbles and floating scissors, with a clever surprise at the end. Fantasio performed a comdey manipulation act that was a lot of fun.

The headliners and closing act for the evening were the quick change artists, David & Dania. A combination of muisc, dance, magic and costume changes that was astounding.
All in all another excellent evening's entertainment, the only small gripe might be that the show was relatively short, but definitely quality rather than quantity.

After bussing back to the convention site, we were treated to Charlie Frye, who writes a column in Magic magazine. He showed a multitude of comedy gags that could be incorporated into an act, assuming it matches the persona of that act. He is also a juggler and showed using a threaded plate a la helicopter card, in the middle of plate juggling. The sight of a plate suddenly floating around his body, before rejoining the juggle, was very good.

Tomorrow's day posting will include reviews of the six Glod Cup Close Up finalist performances.

Day 3 Morning and Afternoon

This morning was primarily reserved for the Gold Cups Close up competition, although the IBM Board business meeting was also conducted. As in the stage competition, there were some very good performances, as well as some very bad ones. It will be interesting to see what the judges decide. In addition, Kevin Spencer held a session encourgaing magicians to participate in his 'Healing of Magic' program, information is also available on the program's website MagicTherapy.com

In the picture at left, Bev Bergeron is catching up with some of his buddies between sessions. Bev is presenting in one of the three concurrent lectures, which will be repeated again tomorrow and Saturday. The participant ID cards have been color coded in three colors, and that determines which of the concurrent lectures you visit each day. My color pointed me towards the "Close Up Sessions" today. We were treated to close up magic from a number of top magicians, who rotated through three close up rooms. The three close up rooms were equipped with amphitheater style raised seating so that everyone had a good view of the front, although the best seats were still in the first couple of rows.

My room's set started off with Joshua Jay, who presented some other material than shown in his lecture yesterday. Best was a thought of card at a thought of number routine. It appears to fail when Joshua cannot find the card at the right point in the deck, but the kicker is that the card is in a book on the table, at the the thought of page.

The next two perfomers both have Ring 170 connections, Terry Ward (upper left) and John Ekin (lower left). Terry appeared as Jack Diamond, and performed a series of clever and funny effects. John continued the comedy, but in a different style and just as successful.

They were followed by Jim Molinari, known as "Jimmy Cards" who showed a series of gambling, and cheating, routines. The final performer was Ivan Amodei, who has won both the IBM and SAM Close-up awards, as well as being Close-up Magician of the Year at the Magic Castle. His performance did meet the expectations set by all those awards, so that I can say all of the performances were well worth watching.

In the afternoon two lectures were held, one by John McLaughlin, a former CIA Director, on the similarities between magic and espionage, as well as how his hobby has helped occasionally in international relations. I would tell you more but then I would have to........

The second part of the afternoon was a presentation by Bill Spooner who collects magic wands, specifically mechanical and trick wands. It is fascinating to see how old some wands are, and all the different effects that have been developed over thye years.

Tonight's International Gala will be covered in a separate posting.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Transport to theater

Busses are arranged as the Olympia theater is not within walking distance of the convention hotel.

Day 2 at Miami 2006

Day 2

Today I spent time, and money, in the dealer room (picture at the left of the Japanese booths). Lots of exciting and commercial effects to tempt you, Mark Mason seemed to be doing great business. I discovered that other Ring 170 members have arrived, Kostya Kimlat, Terry Ward, Bob Trinkle and Bill Scafuzo.

Today saw the preliminary rounds of the stage contest, although I was not able to see all contestants, there were some very good ones, and some very bad ones. Joshua Jay gave his lecture today, basically the one that he gave in Orlando a few weeks ago, but in one hour instead of two. Fantasio was the other featured lecture, and he showed a number of clever ideas which you could make yourself, as well as innovative ways to use his products. Other sessions that were held, but which I did not attend, were for Collectors of Magic, Women in Magic and the IBM Executive Board meeting. At the end of the day most dealers took the opportunity to show off some of their items at the Dealer Demo session. As expected, Daytona Magic's Harry Allen was probably the most entertaining, while the Japanese showed some very interesting gadgets.

The evening saw the first of four Gala performances at the Olympia theater. This is an old vaudeville site, so very suited to magic. Possibly the fact that many great acts had stood on the same stage inspired the nights performers, as the performances were excellent.
These are some pictures taken inside the theater, before the show started. Our own Bev Bergeron performed ably as MC for the evening, linking the acts together with witty banter and magic tricks.

The first act was Farrah Siegal, a young girl who danced and juggled with dancing canes, yoyos and hula-hoop sized linking rings. She was followed by Ardan James, a mime who started with an excellent robot effect and then proceeded to amuse us with a hat and a balloon.

Junge, Junge! are a very innovative and clever act from Germany, involving interaction between the three players with their alter egos on two screens. At times it is difficult to tell what is live and what is on the screens. Tim Wright as Professor Skilldini provided some traditional comedy magic, including a well done zombie effect. The headliner for the evening was the Carmen family from Sarasota, who appeared at one of our Ring banquets a year or two ago. In addition to some traditional magic Yvonne Carmen showed off her unicycling skills, and then Vince and Yvonne performed their signature Spirit Cabinet.

The evening was closed by a balloon session, and of course the dealer room was opened again after the gala.

More news tomorrow

Miami 2006- Dealer Demo

Harry Allen entertaining the crowd
Stefan Bartelski
Sent from my Treo 650

Kostya & Jackie @ Miami 2006

Ring members enjoying the 2006 IBM National Convention
Stefan Bartelski
Sent from my Treo 650

Day 1 Miami 2006

For those of you that could not visit this year's International Brotherhood of Magicians convention in Miami, FL, I will try to send a daily dispatch with a short summary of the proceedings. On the first day I was reminded how lucky we are in Orlando with traffic. I am not staying at the convention htel, so have a 15 -45 minute drive to or from the convention site. Note the large range of time, depending on time of day. On the first day the convetion opening ceremonies started at 5 p.m. Just around rush hour, so of course I sat in traffic. I expected to be going against the flow, as most traffic was leaving Miami, but it seems that rushhour goes both ways in Miami.
I did finally make it to the convention, and went to pick up my registration materials. Unfortunately, it seems that there had been some computer problems so I ended up waiting half an hour while the convention staff re-entered information for a number of attendees in the same situation. Once the paperwork was in place I hurried across to the opening ceremonies. This was not much more that a large mixer. Roger Miller, the outgoing International President, gave a welcoming speech, and then much business was done at the bar.
I was glad to run into a number of fellow Ring 170 members, Jacki Manna, Charlie Pfrogner, Roger Reid, Steve Hart and Zanifa, as well as a couple of people from my previous ring, Ring 9 Atlanta. Other Ring 170 members present are Bev Bergeron, who is one of the headline lecturers, Dan Stapelton, Don Arthur and Luciano.
Following the mixer I participated in a session for convention first-timers, ably led by Steve Hart. Nice thing about this session were the door prizes awarded to almost all attendees. The best prizes were some provided by Yigal Mesika, including the famous Spider Pen. I was lucky to win a set of Genii magazines, very useful as I was not a subscriber. I liked them so much that I went to the Genii booth and signed up for a year's subscription. At the same time I was able to meet the editor, Richard Kaufman and Michael Close.
This convention does of course also have a dealer room, and another Orlando connected magician dealer has a very successful booth here, Mark Mason. Dayton Magic has also set up shop, and Wild Magic from Tampa is here too. In addition to these Florida based dealers, there are dealeres from all over the world, including Japan, Germany and Isreal.
Finally, the late night session focussed on the new web capabilities that the IBM has made available to its members. Firstly we were shown how to set up personal pages at the magician.org site. Highly recommended for all professionals, as it seems the IBM site is held in high regard at Google, so your new site (which can link to your current site) shows up very quickly in a Google search. Creating the pages is easy, even for computer greenhorns, providing very professional looking pagesd with very litttle effort. Those who know a little about HTML, etc, can really makes their pages sing and dance.
For everyone else with a computer, you will probably want to sign up for the Linking Ring Online, no more waiting for the magazine to be delieverd by mail. And of course, you can now search quickly through an issue to find that nugget of information that you know is there. As far as I know, at present there is not a cross-issue search feature, like on the CD-ROM set that was available a while back, but that may come in the future. Actually activating your access does take a few steps, to prevent piracy of TLR, but is well worth it. Also, it may not be as useful if you are just using a dial-up connection, the files are quite large. However, for those without a broadband connection, the web-site has made the issues available in parts, e.g. articles, Ring Parade, etc.
Look out for Wednesday's report in an email