Natalie’s Drink in a Shoe Trick

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Ring Report February 18 Meeting

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March 2014

Ring #320     The Blue Ridge Magicians 

     President             Wes Iseli      

 Vice President      Eddie Tobey “Tobini”

Treasurer           David Clauss

Sgt. at Arms       Jim Champion

Secretary          Dennis Phillips

Breaking News

18th is our regular meeting night and the 25th is Duane Laflin Lecture night

We have TWO meetings this month… 

It was voted on last year if the lecturer fell on a night that was not a regular meeting night and it was on a different week we would have a lecturer and a meeting that month.

Ring Report

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February 18 ,2014  Meeting and Holiday Banquet

Winter storms did ease up and we were able to have a February Ring meeting. Prior to the meeting we did our “Teach In” . President Wes Iseli did a sleeving teach in. He revealed many of the secrets that Rocco taught him. Things just magically appear and disappear. Wes also showed the correct coat to wear and how to gimmick it. Rocco was the FISM award winning act and sleeving was brought to a high art by Rocco’s mentor, Tony Slydini.

Our business meeting had no old business other than our planning for doing a charity public ring show.   Wes went over maintaining and improving our on-line digital library.

It was show time and starting off was Ron Schneider who did a 10 card trick that everyone enjoyed so much he said he would make it a teach in next month or in April.

John Leeth did a really cool to do list prediction.  John showed a simple hand-written list of things that he had to do. He had a spectator pick a number between 1 and 10 and quickly look at the item at that number.  John then slowly revealed that he could read the spectator’s mind.

Dennis Phillips performed the classic UF Grant Temple Screen  and showed how he worked out a way to do the effect surrounded. Dennis then performed The Banner Nest of Boxes where  the center box with a dove in it vanishes and is then found back inside  the nest of boxes . Following the meeting, we hung around  and shared stories and more magic

Dennis Phillips

Comments welcome

Dennis Deliberations….      Editorial and Comment

By Dennis Phillips

March 2014 

Illusionists Perform the Same Dozen Illusions. This is a sad fact.

Spend one hour on YouTube and view videos and you will find this to be true: Same illusions, same choreography, same movements and same presentations

Here are 12 illusions that are too commonly seen in programs of illusionists worldwide:




Packing Crate Sub Trunk

Fire Spiker

Suspended Animation

Fire Cage

Modern Art

Wakeling Sawing

Mini Kub Zag

Chair or Broom Suspension

Snowstorm/ Snow Animator

Floating Table

The last two are not illusions but they are larger stage effects and almost everyone performs them.

So what drives this uniformity?

1) Convenience. It is easier to buy a stock illusion prop rather than to create, prototype and fabricate an original illusion.

2) Illusionists want no risk. They would rather invest in illusions that are proven. Seeing another illusionists success with an illusion makes it easy to feel assured of the same reactions from the audience.

3) Illusionists feel confident with the illusions. Their judgment is compromised because they believe they will succeed with that illusion.

4) More than a handful of illusionists do not care that they are performing the same (and pirated) illusions because they feel their audience reacts well to those illusions

5) Technology has made the world flat and the Internet & YouTube allow media to be shared worldwide at the click of a mouse. Illusions are also more accessible to illusionists from different parts of the world because of the Internet.

Illusionists say: “it is not what you do, but how you do it!” That is true, but only if you do something different. Just because you use a different piece of music or smile instead of act dramatic or add a costume change at the illusion does not warrant enough of a difference. The people who do matter, educated clients, agents, show bookers , the media know the difference.  If you want to make it to the top, you need to not be the “best” but be “the only” and that means a lot of originality.


My wife keeps telling me about “Chicken Soup for the Soul” articles. Reader’s Digest Warm and Fuzzies, I call them.

I think she subscribes to online “Chicken Soup for the Soul” articles.

I always considered them, as good as they may be, stories that appeal mostly to women. In fact, I’d hazard the guess that if there were only men in the world (hah!) that the multi-million-dollar “Chicken Soup” industry would have been dead in the water from the get-go. Yes, we men are sentimental, but not THAT sentimental!  — Not enough to build an “emotional empire” on it, anyway.  Oprah was built on female appeal.  Nothing wrong with that. I am just taking a realistic look at marketing and audience demographics.

Here is a limited market but it would probably be a loyal one:

“CHICKEN SOUP for the STARVING MAGICIAN”     Byline: For the magician who is having trouble putting FOOD on the table — they’ll always have CHICKEN SOUP!”

Note the byline: So I looked for “Chicken Soup for the MAN’S Soul” — it doesn’t exist!

And just how BIG is this industry? It’s astounding:

I had an old friend years ago who had been a music director on Broadway. At one point, Liberace flew him out to Vegas to interview for being Liberace’s Music Director.   My friend said, Liberace told him, “My secret is that I PLAY TO THE WOMEN! They are where the money is!”

All marketers know this… Copperfield’s biggest demographic was late 20s women with a kid or two. There has never been a successful general public magician or illusionist whose main appeal was not to women.  Consider that in your career planning.

Dennis Phillips


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Aldo Columbini passes 2/12/2014

The world of magic lost one of its greatest contributors this Wednesday when Aldo Columbini passed away from the complications of a stroke he suffered last Sunday.
A lot will be said about Aldo from people who were fortunate to call him a close friend.

Even with him working almost everywhere all the time it was always great to see him work as he always had something new and fresh prepared for the audience. He was a great entertainer and at the same time was capable of executing the most difficult sleights seemingly without effort. He was a great scholar in many aspects of magic and his body of published work will be hard to match by anyone.

Equally important, he was a nice man and you wanted to be around him .
His status in our magic community was very much on top but he never let his fame come between him and the audience. He was approachable and made you feel important.

Aldo’s love for life is well documented. Aldo will be remembered as the consumate entertainer and live on thru his body of published work.

Our prayers and thoughts are with his wife Rachel and the family.
Aldo, thanks for making us laugh.

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How I spend my Sunday Mornings

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Aldo Colombini has suffered a catastrophic stroke


Message from Rachel Wild Colombini

Dear friends

I am writing to let you know that the love of my life, my beloved husband, best friend and partner Aldo has suffered a catastrophic stroke. Sunday afternoon paramedics rushed him to Munro Regional Hospital in Ocala. Today they performed another CAT Scan and I am saddened to say that the news is not good. Aldo is completely paralyzed on his right side. He cannot speak and the doctors say there is nothing else that can be done. Aldo loved life and does not want to be on life support. I am heartbroken by the fact that I must now take him off life-support and move him to Hospice Care. Short of a miracle, the doctors say he has less than two weeks. Please pray for him.

Aldo is a Magical Comedian and that is how he would want to be remembered. I get strength from knowing that Aldo and I have made so many loving friends throughout the world. We had a marvelous life together traveling the world performing and lecturing to thousands of people in dozens of countries.

Please correspond with me via my Facebook page, as I am not up to taking phone calls right now. I hope you all understand.

Aldo and I love you all so very much. I will keep you all informed.


Rachel Wild Colombini

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January Snow Jobs

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Our scheduled January 21st Ring Meeting was snowed out and was rescheduled for the following Tuesday and again we had bad roads.  President Wes braved it over as Eddie Tobey and several others… We will repeat the program at the February 18th meeting.  In the meantime, here are the programs for the meetings for the rest of the year:

Feb-  homemade magic

March- educational magic

April- lecture?

May- mentalism

June- ropes & wands

July- impromptu (or seemingly)

Aug- cut, ripped, torn & restored

Sept- “you’ve got mail” effects with envelopes, stamps, boxes, etc.

October –  Swap meet

November – lecture?

December – Christmas dinner and show


Dennis Deliberations….      Editorial and Comment

By Dennis Phillips

February  2014

“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin

Remember: Steve Martin never said, “Be so original they can’t ignore you.” We know the source of the trick this guy does, and it’s done by a lot of magicians. The Beatles did everyone else’s hits when they started out (their first album is full of them) — and still they climbed out of obscurity to become great.

One tiny bump in the road: You’ll notice when the guy accidentally left one card on the table, he had to fan through the cards and cut to the right place to put the tabled card back. A good sleight of hand worker has more balls than a naked guy swimming through a tank full of piranhas….

Don’t you think that any reasonably intelligent KNOWS it is done with a stacked deck?

Yes, this is a clever variation and done well.

I did a close-up gig years ago after Bill Malone had popularized “Sam the Bellhop” and at the gig one of the other magicians was doing “Sam the Bellhop”… He did it well. The ONLY comments I heard was about how “cute” the story was and how “The guy is great at stacking a deck”… They did not know how or anything about false cuts but they intuitively knew it had to be done with a stacked deck.

Years ago, when I was using a stacked deck in a trick for lay men at conventions, , I would just ask the people at the table, “Have you see a guy named Sy Stebbins at the convention?” They would say, “No” and I would say, “I want to give him back this deck that I borrowed from him. This is a borrowed deck.”  Once I did have a magician come up and tell me that he about fell off the chair when I pulled that line.”

Dennis Phillips




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December 2013 Christmas Banquet and Meeting

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January 2014

Ring #320     The Blue Ridge Magicians

     President             Wes Iseli

 Vice President      Eddie Tobey “Tobini”

Treasurer           David Clauss

Sgt. at Arms       Jim Champion

Secretary          Dennis Phillips

 Magic_Top hat

Breaking News

Ring Officer Instillation in January


Plus a Mini-Lecture…

Bring a trick!


Have fun!

 Tobini Poster

Vice President Eddy Tobey (Tobini) was on the radio in Harrisonburg( Q101) and the Mickey the DJ took the video. Check it out!

Yours, for the Fun,
Eddie Tobey aka Tobini

 7" Cake Plate

Ring Report

December 17,2013  Meeting and Holiday Banquet

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December is our traditional holiday banquet. This year again though the kindness of the Wayne Hills Baptists Church  and the arrangements  by member, Richard Gimbert and his wife, we enjoyed an evening of pot-luck food, fellowship and magic talk. Following the dinner, we did a Wacky Gift Exchange where the experience of opening an unknown present is always a lot of fun.  This past year has seen an increase in member attendance and participation, as well as a series of great mini-lectures and outside lectures. We look forward to a new year and the continuation of good things in our ring.

Dennis Phillips


Dennis Deliberations….      Editorial and Comment

Dennis, Secretary Ring #32o

Dennis, Secretary Ring #32o

By Dennis Phillips

January 2014

Two ladies were hanging out together and one was depressed. “What’s wrong?” The depressed one replied, “I’ve been married four times and every one of my husbands has passed away. 

The other lady asked, “What did they used to do?” The depressed lady replied, “Well, my first husband was a millionaire, the second was a magician, the third was an evangelist, and the fourth was a mortician.” And the other said, “Oh, one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four to go.”

I did a close-up gig for a law firm in a distant city hotel. About 300 people, free drinks for the first hour (there’s always a few who try to see how zonked they can get in the first hour). They had a fantastic buffet and I was contracted to do two hours. Got there at 5:30 pm, and the official “start” of my gig was 6:15.  The first hour was out in the lobby. Fortunately there a number of round tables covered with black felt table cloths, the perfect height for doing magic while standing. Then at 7:00 everyone went into the banquet hall, which had a setting of huge round dining tables. I was supposed to entertain the folks in there for my second hour.


It goes without saying (but I’ll say it anyway) that the perfect set-ups that we see at magic clubs, on television, and in many small theatres and rooms designed for intimate table magic — is as rare as rocking-horse droppings.




The close-up performer doesn’t get to work at a table with his own close-up pad or an ideal plush surface that is the full size of the table. You see that all the time in the instructional and performance-only DVD’s we magicians buy.

And he doesn’t get to do close-up magic in smallish, intimate, “Magic Castle style” theaters, where rows of seats are tiered at the perfect height and distance so the patrons can clearly see all of the details of the performance.

And he doesn’t get to do close-up magic with two polite and attentive “volunteers” at either side of him who serve as the perfect (and perfectly reacting!) “representatives” for the rest of the audience.

And he doesn’t usually get to do his magic in television studios where ideal conditions are set-up so that the ‘home audience’ can be treated to the perfect scene — a scene for close-up magic that is not only angle-proofed, but as rigidly controlled as a Facebook conversation in Communist China.

And he doesn’t get to do his magic with a large overhead mirror that reflects the show so everyone can get a “bird’s eye view” of the proceedings.

No…  In the REAL WORD:

The close-up entertainer is the hired GEEK who wanders around looking for opportunities to interrupt guests who are usually busily eating and entertaining each other with their own conversation. The LAST person they’d want to see is some “clown” horning in on them with his goofy sponge balls and silly card tricks.

Or the close-up entertainer in the real world is at a corporate booth, and/or walking the floor of a convention with the strict mandate to attract customers for the products of the company that hired him; and sometimes he even has to sell the products too. This reduces magic from being a pure performance art (arguably!) to a sales pitchman.”

Or the close-up entertainer is hanging out in some seedy bar trying to amuse a miscreant crowd of semi-intoxicated ruffians, while hoping against hope to “survive” on tips. Some YouTube hype-sters call this “scamming the crowd for free drinks.”  — As if all young close-up magicians wanted to do with your lives, is sit around in bars doing magic for free booze.

Or he’s working in a family restaurant doing balloon animals for the kiddies and schlock magic for people who came into that restaurant principally, if not solely, just to EAT!

Or — and this one REALLY gets me — he is out on the grungy mean-streets of some busy city playing “Superman” for pedestrians.  His heroes are David Blaine, Criss Angel, Dynamo, Daniel Garcia, and an assorted group of ragtag “Supermen” (promoted as “gods of the street”, or some such, by a certain hipster magic dealer). These close-up miracle-workers stroke their egos by blowing the minds of otherwise magically oblivious passers-by, through the reality-distortion-field of something they call “guerrilla magic”.

Back to my own gig at the corporate Christmas party:

I had always wondered how best to approach the situation. I had to “wing it” by inventing my own approach. Fortunately, I managed to do just that. I managed the impossible: Overcoming the resistance of a group of professional executives, their secretaries, spouses, and assorted office staff.  My initial approach was to simply and forthrightly “put the blame” on the company itself! I would go up to a table and introduce myself by saying, “Hello, my name is Dennis and I have been hired by your company to entertain you with some magic. Would like to see any?”

Almost everyone was keen on seeing magic — and so I opened with something quick very strong, in an effort to get them into a state of outright amazement — right from the get-go. After that, it was “child’s play”. And if there happened to be a bit of room at their table to lay down the cards or a few small items, so much the better. It turned out that the best tables to work at were those that were only half or two-thirds occupied. That allowed me to sit down when required, and work more intimately with the two, four, or perhaps about eight people who seemed genuinely interested in giving me their attention.

In almost all cases, the responses were excellent, and that’s what one would expect from such magic classics as Twisting the Aces; the block of brass from the matchbox; the Rising Card; the Split Deck (with prediction); “Oscar” (naming a card that was merely though of); and so on.  Still, there was a “problem” to overcome, in that you couldn’t possibly have such a large variety of tricks in your pockets. I elected to carry them all in a classy-looking wooden treasure chest.  Rather than carry around an additional foldable table to set it on (carrying the case around by itself was awkward enough!) I simply found an empty chair near each table, and set the chest on it.

Now it seems to me that no matter what you may think of yourself, your ARE in fact, the “clown”.  You were hired to amuse a group of people who — let’s face it — are at a function that does not lend itself to roving entertainers of any kind!  At one of the tables at the dinner, an inebriated gentleman very condescendingly cracked an insult, getting a cheap laugh at my expense. I recovered as quickly as possible by shooting back an old line I’d heard many years ago. With a hint of a smile and a twinkle in my eye I replied, “Well, I won’t even try to entertain this gentleman, as he’s very busy entertaining himself!”   At another table my introduction elicited a few immediate ice cold stares. As I said above, this was the REAL WORLD, and not that of the millions of out-of-touch hobbyists who frequent magic clubs and hang out at the local magic shop.

As the evening wore on towards the end of my gig, I was approached by my contact person, who asked me if I could stay an extra hour. I said “Sure!” He had been watching me, and obviously he was very pleased with what he saw.  Everyone by this time had had their dinner, and some were standing around laughing and drinking.  This was a MUCH easier crowd to entertain!

And that, friends, is what it’s all about — for me at least — in this crazy business of dealing in the REAL WORLD. I don’t work Close-up often, and — to put it mildly — the conditions in which you are asked to work, are far from ideal.

Dennis Phillips



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