Ring Meeting August 2011




Ring #320

Of the International Brotherhood of Magicians

President – Eddie Tobey   Vice President – Brian Bence  

Secretary – Dennis Phillips   Treasurer – David Clauss

Sergeant at Arms – Jim Champion


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October Ring meeting at Swannonoa Mansion in the planning phase


August, 2011 meeting

As a lazy August day began to cool for the evening, we gathered for the monthly ring meeting. A dozen members were present and one guest, Josh Meggison. Josh comes to the Valley from Austin, Texas. He will join our ring.  Thanks again to Yvonne Tobey for the refreshments and to Richard Gimbert for church meeting hall.  President Eddie Tobey, “Tobini”, brought the meeting to order. He reminded us of the upcoming Nathan Kranzo lecture. He floated the idea of holding the October meeting at the top of Afton Mountain at the Swannanoa Mansion, a historic and haunted place. He also discussed holding a future teach-in session with Peter Monticup.  The business meeting adjourned and the fun began. 

The first show and tell was Steve Pittella with a dozen Rupert’s Pearls or Devil’s Teardrops. The small glass teardrop shaped glass beads can be beaten with a hammer and not break but when the tail is snapped they turn to powder. This old scientific marvel was a common item in old magic shops but rarely seen today.   Staying the broken glass side-theme, Eddie Tobey broke a light bulb in his hand and then showed us the clever gimmick to do it.  The actual announced theme of the evening was “Transformations” from the classic “Ten Basic Effects of Magic”.  

Richard Gimbert was first up and showed us a clever transformation for a kid’s show. It was called Pop Pop Poof. He wrapped a red Tootsie Roll in a blue handkerchief and a blue Tootsie Roll in a red handkerchief.  They magically changed places.  He then showed us the table he was using. It had been made from a DJ stand and was ideal for a stand-up magic show.   John Leeth took the stage with a transformation.  A one dollar bill changed places with a five dollar bill in a spectator’s hand.  Later in the show, John showed how to make a card disappear from the spectator’s chosen half of the deck and appears in the other half.    Eddie Tobey invited a spectator to select a card. He asked them if they knew what the card was and they said, “No”. When the card was turned over it was the only card in the deck that had a large “No” written on it.  Eddie then transposed an Ace of Hearts and Ace of Spades with two queens while the spectator was holding the cards. He concluded with the mystery of the missing diamonds, an effect he said he learned from a Parade in “The Linking Ring”. A hand with 9 diamond cards has one selected by a spectator. It disappears from the fan of cards and appears back in the card box.

Dennis Phillips showed how to transform three colored silks from a Silk Cabby into a frame with a rod through it.  He then showed that a Crystal Casket could be also used to make the silks reappear. He then showed the classic Die Box and concluded with the effect “Lethal Tender” where a Chinese coin and a Kennedy half dollar instantly change places between a coin on the back of a spectator’s hand and one in a coin purse.

Finally Jim Champion did an excellent version of the Classic Silent Mora effect of small balls changing from one hand to the other.  Mora made his vaudeville reputation with the effect. Two spectators are used and hold a small square net that the balls fall into. Dai Vernon and Johnny Thompson also do versions of this.

With the meeting concluded more cards and coins were manipulated during the fellowship time.  We are now waiting for the public schools to begin and the fall of the year to come to the great Valley of Virginia.

Dennis Phillips 

Dennis’ Deliberations……………    Comment and Editorial

The last major magic illusion series on TV here in the USA was the Masked Creep with his 6 trashy women exposing illusions. (Uhhh… Thank you FOX-TV and the never classy Rupert Murdoch).   We are one messed up culture when it comes to business and the arts!   Maybe that will change for the magic business…

I just got word from one of Copperfield’s insiders that he is planning a touring “comeback” about 2014 and it will include a new TV special.  So far, I was told that it will be flavored as a kind of a nostalgic return to his old fans and the creation of new fans.   He will have a new hairstyle, mellow and lite approach and lots of interactive stuff. He said, one of the Copperfield illusions is to rearrange cars in the parking lot of the show, by magic.(Based on an idea from Luis DeMatos)  Copperfield  will use TV screens to show it on stage and people will recognize their own cars.

Will the Second Golden Age ( 1975-1995) return?

For the past 75 years on a few days around the first of August, a bucolic village in southwest Michigan holds a magic celebration. It is sponsored by the Abbott Magic Company and the town in Colon, Michigan.  Almost all magicians know about Abbotts. Colon was the summer home of Harry Blackstone Sr. and he went into business with Australian immigrant Percy Abbott and created a company to produce magic and illusions. Harry and Percy dissolved their partnership in a low-key personality clash and the business was not enough for Harry to quit touring.

 Recil Bordner bought into Percy’s operation and after Percy died in 1960, the Bordner Family became the sole owners. Recil’s son, Greg, is the owner today. Abbotts always was a small family business that employed a number of people in Colon.  In the early 50s one of their flash pots was improperly used at a dance recital and a young girl was burned. They were almost sued into bankruptcy.  They have had fires and thin times and a few good years. Greg is living with a transplanted heart and may beat the disease that killed his father. Greg’s brother is a Geology Professor at a university in nearby Kalamazoo.    

 This year there were about 300 that attended the event. They have had triple that in the past. But it is always like a family reunion.  My first Get Together was in 1969 and I met up with a yet-to-be famous Doug Henning and talked with Jack Gwynne. I sat next to Jay and Francis Marshall on the Friday Night Show.  I again visited in 1989.I sat next to Paul Daniels and Debbie MacGee and had a long chat with Harry Blackstone Jr. 

 Colon is a town were time almost stands still but changes I saw in the town were a metaphor of the industrial decline of our country and the changing form of show business.   Abbotts is an American Classic and I was happy that Dan Stapleton, my long time Orlando friend, was able to perform in the show and do his fabulous blindfold stunt. I hope that future generations of magicians will have an Abbotts catalog and Get Together.  It always was the stuff of dreams.  

 Larry Thornton and I shared some similar experiences at summer family reunions:   While on a family re-union on my wife’s side, I was asked to do some magic. You know, the relatives believe that as a magician and therefore one of the true “freaks” of the clan, you must feel privileged to become their “performing monkey” whenever you all get together.  I reluctantly packed my cards,ropes, silks and Hippity Hop Rabbits and a few other bits of stuff. The wife insisted! — “Dolly will be SO-O-O disappointed if you don’t do some magic!”  I had the faint hope that they’d eventually forget about asking me to “dance for my supper”, but I was wrong.  The odd thing is, they kept asking me at the re-union if I’d do some magic later “before it gets dark out”, and I agreed to do some, but the host got busy on the appointed evening and forgot to introduce me.  So I thought, gee, I’d better do something, so I went around to the folks and showed them some impromptu table magic. 

 An observation (1 of 3):

 Have you noticed, when you’re busy doing your very best card tricks, stuff you spent half-a-lifetime to collect and to master, that one of the attention-deprived uncles soon decides to show YOU his one-and-only card trick, and he has to use your cards for it!  …He is not a magician, he doesn’t know diddly-squat about magic, and he doesn’t seem to notice in the least that everyone has just been royally flabbergasted by some of your greatest card miracles.

 Metaphorically speaking you know that you’ve just knocked yourself out *curing leprosy, walking on water, and multiplying fishes and loaves for the multitudes *.  BUT NO MATTER!! Mr. Congeniality, voted in his high school Yearbook as the guy most-likely to wear a lampshade at a party — now has your deck in his grubby tight-fisted hands. Having no other deck of cards with you, you feel as if you just handed him your only bouquet of roses that immediately withered and died.  The dude’s “big shining moment” is at hand. He now commands of the stage and is about to “wow” everybody with the “Now-Tell-Me-Which-of-These Three-Rows-It’s In”, the Wonder Card Trick of the Ages.

 Observation (2 of 3):

 While performing surrounded, in order to do some of your stronger effects you elect to “sacrifice” those one or two people behind you (to some small degree) by concentrating mainly on wowing the bulk of the crowd in front of you.  Now you KNOW you’re not going to exposed anything to anybody, no matter where they’re standing. But then the guy behind or off to the side of you (hey, its the same dude as before!) suddenly thinks he’s seen something “fishy” with your jog-shuffle or your double lift, or your oh-so-tiny “finger break”, and he just CAN’T WAIT to blab it out to everyone else!  But he can’t communicate exactly what he THINKS he saw.  Even so, he feels compelled jump-up-and-down excitedly over “what he saw” in the misguided attempt to make a “fool” out of the professional fooler!  You then change direction abruptly, by steering your routine in “mid flight” adroitly over to some other effect intended to KILL the very guy bent on killing YOU.  — Or you can simply offer the cards to the rube and ask him to “finish the trick”; or “show us what you mean.”  But of course, this causes him to back off, to the merriment of all; which then frees you to recover from this interruption.  

 Final observation:

 Then there’s the situation of having repeated some of your tricks earlier for a smaller crowd (like, two or three people). But these folks are with the second larger audience later, and like or not, they’ve now elected themselves as your “cheering section.”  They mean well, in telling everyone how great you are (in so doing, some of the “stardust” falls back on them), but the moment you start a routine that they’ve seen before, they get all excited and reveal the punchline to the trick! Or its, “Hey do that one where all the aces magically appear.”  Ah…. right.  …Will do.  …About five or six tricks from now when everyone’s forgot what was just said!  Or the distant relative who says, “Do the story of Jim the Bellhop where all the cards tell the story!”  Oh don’t you just love it when they have seen what you do for years?   “Can do you that one where I pick a card and sign it and you rip it up and my corner matches it when you have made the rest of it go back to whole?”

 Just then the 7 year old nephew tugs on my arm and says, “Can you make a quarter come out of my ear?”   I say, “What do you think; I can really pull money out of thin air?”   He looks up with a smile and affirms with a strong, “Uh-Huh!    Family reunions! Don’t you just love them?






About blueridgemagiciansring320

Secretary of Ring 320 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians located in the Western Virginia.
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