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

Ring 320 banner

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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Wes Iseli’s 24 hour show Radio Interview 2013

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Wes Iseli’s Sideshow Memories

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Wes Iseli’s Obsessed with Magic

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Ring Report September Meeting

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October 2013

Ring Report-Ring #320

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

November 19th  is the Peter Pitchford Lecture.


 Jason Palter

Lecture coming on April 14th 2014

   Here are the themes for the Ring Meetings for the rest of the 2013.

October – Swap Meet

November – First trick / favorite trick….. or both

December – Christmas Dinner & Show 

Ring Report    

September 17th Meeting 

Our meeting began with a teach-in by Vice-President, Eddie Tobey. Eddie took us step by step through his nail-baiting Russian Roulette effect. A disc with 3 sharp nails was hidden under one of 4 Styrofoam cups. One by one Eddie smashes the cups and eliminates the 3 empty ones.  This was an enjoyable and great routine.

Our business meeting discussed a special opportunity to perform , as a group, at a veteran’s medical center.  Under new business, we discussed upcoming lectures and membership access to our digital magic library.

Our monthly ring show began with John Leeth. He demonstrated a mental effect where a person goes to a travel picture site on their smart-phone and John is able to tell what their choice of photographs are. There are many great magical “apps” available for phone magic.  Wes Iseli showed a themed Square Circle as well as a packet card effect with Halloween pictures.

Richard Gimbert showed the fine art of eating green glass. He had created the effect for the recent “Carnival of Wonders” sideshow performance in Charlottesville.

George Buckley did a John Fedko inspired card trick called “Naughty and Nice” where a card with a bunny mysteriously appears in a Card Monte packet.  Dennis Phillips showed an effect where a sleeve of paper is randomly cut and the cut matches the place where a predicted ESP symbol is located. Dennis also showed the classic Glorpy trick and finally he demonstrated the signature Blackstone Floating Handkerchief which has been used by many illusionists over the years.

Finally, Mr. Vic, Pastor Vic Bright, did an enjoyable Linking Ring routine.


Dennis Deliberations….      Editorial and Comment

By Dennis Phillips

October 2013 

“When Houdini was a teenager, he had a slogan: “You can lock me in any jail cell but you can’t keep my face from breaking out!”

                                                                                                                                                   Comedy line from -Paul Harris- 

Machpelah Cemetery- Place of Houdini’s Grave

Houdini's Grave

We are coming up on the Anniversary of Houdini’s death on Halloween  in 1926.

I thought that you might want to know this…. 

Houdini’s Gravesite had fallen into neglect and disrepair and overgrown with weeds. His bust had been stolen and replaced several times.

A haunting You-Tube video can been seen which showed this:

George Schindler, the dean of the Society of American Magicians, said his group had stopped contributing money toward the maintenance of the site in recent years.  “David Jacobson” sends us a bill for upkeep every year but we never pay it”  The Society of American Magicians never paid the cemetery for any restoration of the Houdini family plot in my tenure since 1988, Mr. Jacobson said. The money came from the dwindling funds of the Machpelah Cemetery, he said. The Houdini grave site is no longer cared for by the Society of American Magicians, but by The Houdini Museum in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Reportedly , SAM and the caretaker of the Cemetery have a long running feud over how fund were being used for the grave upkeep, leading SAM to no longer contribute funds.  

On September 27, 2011 a group Dorothy Dietrich formed, that came to be known in the media as The Houdini Commandos, secretly replaced the statuary bust at Houdini’s grave site that has been missing due to vandalism for 36 years. They also did some gravesite fix-ups.  This was reported in a half-page story worldwide in the New York Times on October 24, 2011.

Her world famous attraction Scranton’s Houdini Museum that she runs with mystery entertainer Dick Brooks, has been asked by both the family of Houdini and the management of the cemetery to take over the upkeep of the grave that has been in disarray for many years due to neglect.

Burial records littered the floor of the abandoned Machpelah cemetery Office

Any semblance of grandeur breaks down on the inside.  The striking arched windows visible in the facade are installed in rectangular frames, and their diamond panes are all artifice.  The skeleton of a drop ceiling hangs askew, with most panels collapsed and reduced to a yellow paste that covers the ground.  The office has apparently fallen victim to vandals over the years, furniture and safe deposit boxes have been ransacked, old burial records lie scattered in the grime.  Anything of value has been removed, but a coin bank souvenir from the 1939 New York World’s Fair remains, its most recent deposits dating back to 1988.

“Stuffy” doesn’t begin to describe its suffocating ether. Reception rooms are boxed in with cheap wood paneling, which combines with the dizzying funk of mildew to evoke the interior of a coffin.   Secluded in a cockeyed armoire, Nosferatu could feel right at home here. Well, no more.   UPDATE: The office was just demolished on August 21st, 2013.

Today, Queens’ five million “permanent residents” almost triple its living population, but their numbers are at a standstill.  Most of these cemeteries reached capacity long ago, leaving many cemeteries without a source of income from the sale of new sites.  As a result, some have fallen into disrepair, with officials failing to provide the “perpetual care” their patrons are rightfully owed.

Every Halloween, hundreds of devotees make the yearly pilgrimage to Houdini’s final resting place to pay their respects, party, and make an offering—around the anniversary of his death, pumpkins, broomsticks, and playing cards mount like a cairn on his headstone. His cemetery ,long abandoned, Houdini’s gravesite continues on as long as his memory and devoted fans remain.  At Machpelah Cemetery, the gate is always open, and every day is Halloween.

Dennis Phillips

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