Christmas Party Report!

Ring #320

Of the International Brotherhood of Magicians

President – Eddie Tobey   Vice President – George Buckley  

Secretary – Dennis Phillips   Treasurer – David Clauss

Sergeant at Arms – Jim Champion

January 2011

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Hopefully this Spring, when heat is not needed. we will hold a Ring meeting at the Swannanoa mansion.


December, 2011 meeting

The December Ring Meeting was our annual banquet and gift exchange.  President Eddie Tobey, “Tobini” gaveled a quick business meeting and we were off to the buffet line. A special thanks to Richard Gimbert and the Wayne Hills Baptist Church for the use of their kitchen and dining facility. The club gives another thank you to all the Ring members and families who brought the great food, drinks and desert. 

Food included Roast Beef, Dinner Rolls/Lemon Cake ,Bean Casserole/Corn Bread, Mac-‘n-Cheese/Pumpkin Roll, Mexican Chicken Casserole/Pumpkin Cheesecake, Baked Ziti/ and Cake and Baked Salmon/Salad with Walnuts and Apples.

The gift exchange was a riot of laughter. We drew numbers to select in what order gifts were selected from the pile and opened. Each person could either take someone’s opened gift or take an unopened one. That is how the fun got going! Highlights were when Dave Clauss, Treasurer, selected a shopping bag and it had 10 small gifts in it, each wrapped. Wes Iseli showed his skills in one of the gifts he made. It was a deck of cards in its case, painstakingly put inside a glass bottle

Showtime began with Jim Olberg doing a card trick with a number revelation theme.  Brian Bence, outgoing Vice President had a spectator select a card. It disappeared from the deck and appeared inside Brian’s wallet. He followed up with a card trick where the cards have people’s names and he reveals the selected card by its human name. He followed up the effect by letting the spectator do the same! 

Wes and Natalie Iseli did a chair and number prediction. Wes gave a spectator a large envelope. Five Spectators were given five wads of paper, one contained a mark and after much shuffling and exchanging, Wes gave the paper in the envelope to the remaining spectator who had that one paper with the mark.  The paper predicted the spectator.

Dennis Phillips, Secretary, did a comedy newspaper tear and restoration and then explained the history of Neil Foster’s center Tear.   George Buckley, incoming Vice President got into the Christmas theme and did a card trick to find who was naughty or nice. Nathan Clauss had a spectator divide a deck of cards into four piles and he successfully showed that the spectator appeared at any number location.

President Tobey  had spectators call out random numbers and then he borrowed Wes Iseli’s Apple Phone with “Siri” and the electronically added numbers matched his prediction.  Richard Gimbert closed out the show by having a spectator deal 13 cards in two piles and select two cards which appeared revealed in two envelopes.

The Ring looks forward to a new year of more magic fun together!

Dennis Phillips


 Dennis’ Deliberations……………    Comment and Editorial

I have a confession. Marco Tempest leaves me cold. I have no appreciation of what he does. I do not consider it very mysterious or in the category of “stage magic”.  It is electronic gimmicky.

But, I respect what he does and recognize that he is on the cutting edge of what magic will be in the 21st century. So even though Marco does not entertain me, I am going to heap praise on him.

FIRST: He entertains the public.

SECOND: Whether the “old guard” of magic finds him an electronic  “sell-out” or not, he’s GETTING WORK. That is a positive and envious position to be in during this economic mess.

THIRD: I personally find his manner and voice and accent, and even looks, a turn-off, none of which is his fault. Many people like him. He does wear well while performing and is not obnoxious.

FOURTH: Check the history of Marco Tempest. He grew up doing “our” conventional conjuring, entering contests and what not, but then said he got “bored with it all.”  Having a geek’s interest in media technologies, he put on his thinking cap and merged the two.

FIFTH: In the process, he was able to create a novel form of “magic”, with a bit of a rainbows-and-butterflies Doug Henning slant, and it struck a chord with corporate hacks and audiences.  More power to him — considering so many very talented conventional magicians can’t get a decent toe-hold in show business these days.

SIXTH: I and all us old guys  have every right to say, in effect, his shtick of merging video special effects to “our” magic, is not our cup of tea, but we have to admit (through a gnashing of teeth?) that he’s hit on a successful ANGLE and is running with it.  You have to admire that much.

Thinking outside the magic box…. is what it’s all about. The world is full of magic clones all doing essentially the same stock stuff. Now watch a few other guys come out of the woodwork trying to copy him.  I don’t think his technological bent can be FAKED, it has to come naturally. Lucky for him he had two sincere interests and was able to combine them, and (most important!) made them commercial.

The world has always thrived on NOVELTY, but inherent in the very definition of “novelty” (I think) is something that cannot have “legs.” If it lasts it’s not novel, and if it is novel, it can’t last. When it is accepted as mainstream, it is no longer novel! David Copperfield hasn’t a thing to worry about.

Speaking of  Marco Tempest, how can Europe have at least 5 big touring illusion shows and we have almost nothing?  (They have Dani Lary, Peter Marvey, Luis DeMatos  etc. etc.) I helped Paul Osborne on some of his design work and consultation is in Europe. 

How can Dani Lary afford this?

This is very odd because I have been told that Europe is a socialist basket case; I have also been told Europeans are dying because their socialized medicine is failing. I have been told that their tax rates are confiscatory so they have no discretionary money. I have been told that most Europeans are crushed economically and have no freedom. That is what I keep hearing on the most watched news network on cable TV. They say that few people their own cars and homes in Europe much less a Super X in the attic and Temple of Benares in the basement.  I don’t know if the news channel is exaggerating for political purposes.  All I know is that Europeans have access to and they see lots of magic!

I have heard from some that big show business is not “controlled” by big mega media corporations in Europe as it is here. It is a lot more diversified and in some cases government supported.  This may be because each country operates politically separate even though they share a common currency.  I don’t think that money alone assure success otherwise Steve Wyrick would be at the top. Europe has a lot more respect for variety arts… Over here in the United States, variety arts do not have the same respect. It took Canada to create the very artsy Cirque du Soleil.  Does America lack a sufficiently sophisticated population to enjoy magic?   Since I moved here in rural Virginia, I have been forced to drop “magic” from my advertising.  The Religious Fundamentalists here believe all magicians are in league with the devil. When I lived up here in the 1960s, I do not remember such superstition as a magician. What changed?  I would say that we have gone downhill intellectually, religiously and economically since then.

The feeling by some on the International show-business scene is that America is become a 3rd world poverty- stricken place filled with ignorant people. A fair number of magicians have become ex-patriots in order to keep working. Jonathan David Bass relocated to Prague in the Czech Republic. Joe Conrad is in Thailand. Japan has several ex-patriot Americans. Cyril, from San Francisco, is a big star.

Robert Gallup made it big in Australia. Hank Lee was on a tour in China when he died.   How many road tours like that are there here?

I am mentioning this because I care about my country. Yes, I am also a bit jealous of all the touring large magic shows and sophisticated magic in Europe.

I hope this New Year in a good one for you.

Dennis Phillips



About blueridgemagiciansring320

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