8:37 a.m. Sheree and I arrived about twelve hours ago. The desk clerk at the Palace Station looks at us. "How you doing?" I ask. Since I am about to ask him for an upgrade, I am laying my very best smile on him. However my charm bounces off him and falls corpse-like to the ground, moaning softly. No...I won't belabor this story. Here's the short version: He gave us a key to an already occupied room. We walk in. Beds unmade. Keys sitting on a desk. Unflushed toilet.
"This isn't right," I observe shrewdly.
"Nope," responds Sheree.
We go down to the lobby and explain that to the front desk manager that we strongly suspect a mistake has been made. He sets us up in an upgraded suite. We look out our window (operated by a spiffy remote control) and see the lights of Vegas. This place rocks.
Sheree went off to try to make our fortune at the slot machines (which oddly enough didn't work) and I went to Jack's Pub, the unofficial headquarters. That's where I sat until two this morning with Paul Shirley and a bunch of other guys. There's great buzz about what's coming up: Rick Maue's last lecture ever, the rumor of something new and exciting from Paralabs (completely unconfirmed, by the way) and a new book test. That's all I have for you at the moment.
The event starts today with registration at noon. Here's the projected schedule:
Noon Registration Opens
1:00 Attendee Show
2:30 Lectures Devin Knight/Harvey Berg
4:30 Panel Discussion – Book Tests
6:00 Dinner Break
8:00 Shep Hyken Lecture
9:30 Paul Vigil - One Man Show
Yup. In bed at 2...up at 7 and raring to go.
Sheree wants you to know that the Margaritas in the Mexican restaurant are outstanding.
How can I describe what this first day has been like? It feels like it started about seven years ago. It's a little past one right now and I just got back to the room. This will tell the people who know me something since I am usually only up this late when I've had a show.
I can't possibly write about it all...and it's time for me to go to bed. So, I'll just paint a few vignettes.
* The Attendee Show: is always a treat at events like this. You know it's either going to be really good or really bad. I have to be honest here and tell you that the five acts were both very good and very...not so good. One of the performers was way too nervous...one was spot on and that's all I'll say about that. After all: they were the ones on the stage. Not me.
* Fellow Canadian Tony Chris arrived without his luggage -- which ordinarily wouldn't merit a mention here. But in that luggage were all the props he planned to sell. Poor guy was wandering around the Dealer's Room waiting for a call from the airline. It turns out that he was detained by airport security on a "random check" that stretched into just a few minutes before his plane took off. They took him out to it on a golf cart...but his luggage didn't arrive until well into the afternoon.
* I had every intention of going to the Devin Knight lecture. But on my way, none other than Bob Cassidy introduced himself to me. We know each other from a website called the Magic Cafe. "Let's go to the bar," says he. And so we did.
I've never spent time with him before. He's a bigger than life character. He can lay some deep philosophy on you one minute and then crack a joke about farts the next. I like him. Midway through our visit, Richard Osterlind walked into the bar with his wife Lisa. And there they sat, Bob and Richard, exchanging stories and singing old songs. Richard is excited about his new DVD which was filmed without edits in front of a live comedy club audience. He smokes a pipe and is just about exactly the man you see on the DVDs. Nothing put on...a broad midwest friendliness
So midway through their interaction, Bob starts telling us about the most bizarre woman doing a TT routine.. What he describes is very strange...and we all listen as he describes how this woman produces the silk from more and more improbable places as she removes her clothing...until there is no clothing at all and she produces the silk from...well...never mind. There are two images burned into my mind: Cassidy doing all the motions of this stripper/magician and the look of dawning horror on Osterlind's face as he begins to understand where the last silk is coming from.
It was a surreal, beautiful moment that I think I will remember forever.
* The Dealer's Room isn't big.I think there are only ten of them. But the stuff they've brought is remarkable. The guys from Paralabs have brought a small assortment of stuff with them and I manage to talk them into letting me have a Parapad. I buy an amazing movie effect. Psyche FX...and a remarkable card effect from Mind Voyage. While it's true that I haven't been to a convention in years, it's also true that this one has a completely different tone from other ones. People are more thoughtful. They take time. The dealers take time. There's no one swarming a dealer table and so far there hasn't been one thing EVERYONE wants to buy. Very different from your standard magic dealer room.
I really like Paul Prater's table. Prater makes props so lovely that you give yourself reasons to purchase them. Since he's teaming with Christopher G to create the newest incarnation of Alchemy Moon, his table is a highlight. Amazing props...amazing attention to detail. I am going to be getting some of them.
* I drag myself out of the bar and back to hear the panel discussion on Book Tests. Osterlind is here...so is Ted K and Eugene Burger. It turns out to be more of a Q and A than a discussion. Someone asks Burger what his opinion of book tests is...and he says he thinks it's goofy that people have to choose the word at the top of a random page. Osterlind seems to argue that if it works...don't fix it. Books are interesting, he says. Ted K, who I have never seen before, just bristles with intelligence. He talks about the painful creation process for the first Mother of All Book Tests. It's fascinating.
* The highlight of the day for me is Shep Hyken talking about marketing mentalism. He lays out a plan that combines direct mail, social networking, email and lots of telephone contact as a way to build business. Very intelligent with many wonderful ideas. He's a personable speaker who is passionate about his topic. The Reader's Digest Version Of This Presentation According to David: "Work hard. Take every possible opportunity to market your act to the right people and don't waste time on people who aren't your market."
* The closing show for the day is a one man show from Paul Vigil. He does a regular close up gig at the Mirage. His work is superb and combines cards with mentalism. He reminded me of an intense leprechaun. But his presentation was art...pure visual art.
* Then it was back to the bar. I watched as Eugene Burger did a card trick or three. This was also surreal. He strikes me as having all the joy of a teenager for magic. He's charming...really intelligent...a remarkable man.
I spent a lot of time talking with Tony Chris about business and magic. What a nice guy. Easy to talk with.
Now I'm here...and it's heading up to two. And I am going to bed.
More tomorrow...in fact they are starting everything a full hour earlier because they have a LOT to get through.
I am a happy camper. Hope you folks are enjoying this.
It's about 12:30 in the morning. I am standing in Jack's Irish Pub talking to a cross-dressing medium who is taller than I am . It must be MindVention, huh? Okay...it's really REALLY late and I am an old guy...so more impressions and then I am going to bed.
* Ted K creator of MOABT is a frickin' rock star. He did a lecture that was loaded with common sense amazing routines. When he finished, he had THREE sets of lecture notes and told the people to form a single line to purchase them ($20, $20 and $30)....and they did. The line up went all the way down one of the walls...easily 75% of the people of the convention.
* Rick Maue gave the best lecture of all. Down to earth. Funny...and oddly touching. He's retiring from mentalism because he needs to work on some things in his personal life. (He was left with serious brain injuries after a car accident with a drunk driver.) I got the impression that he's really ready to go...that his mind is made up. But he gave a polished lecture peppered with passion and intelligence. He also got a standing ovation that lasted for well over a minute. That made me smile. The sense of community here is quite remarkable.
* The big news? ProMystic is announcing and doing a demo of something "new and exciting" tomorrow about noon. I actually think Craig was smiling. Rumors are rampant...but the actual rumor is that it's amazing and is gonna run in the five hundred dollar range.
* Ted K did not do the Mother. That's tomorrow at the "Masters of Mentalism" show. I still haven't purchased a copy yet...but Ted thinks he may have one with him. Since this is of great interest to all of you, I will keep you posted.
* I am learning that much of the seriously cool stuff DOES happen in Jack's Irish Pub. Great information...a lot of good company. I've found you can go there pretty much any time of day or night and there's gonna be someone interesting to talk with...or someone doing something interesting. You will usually find Bob C. there...and he will be surrounded by some interesting people.
* This afternoon the Paralab guys were in Jack's Pub. And they showed me one of their private creations: a living dead routine that would have many performers wetting their pants. It's seamless: the spectator has complete freedom to choose which pile to put pictures of ordinary people into. One pile is marked DEAD on the back...the other is ALIVE. But there are two mistakes: one alive card in the dead pile and one dead card in the alive pile. Still a pretty good trick you think...until you find out that the two "mistake" cards are actually identical twins! It blew me away. Paralabs has no intention of releasing these. They've designed an amazing routine....and another one they showed us (which I promised not to talk about) but they are purely for their use. More's the pity.
* Some of the new products Paul Prater is issuing through Alchemy Moon are mine. Sheree and I were in the dealer room and she called me over to his table. She was enthusing like crazy over these props -- which ARE amazing. When I get more time, I'll post some information about them. But we purchased several beautiful things. I mean BEAUTIFUL things. Paul's an outstanding craftsman.
Outstanding day...the final day is tomorrow. Going to bed now.
8:07 a.m. We have a room looking out at the lights in Vegas, so when the sun goes down it's like the sun transforms into this multi-color orb, shining in through our window. And when the sun comes up, the room floods with light. Not exactly the optimal arrangement for someone who went to bed around 2.
The shot to the left is of Rick Maue, doing his final lecture. Rick does VDM (Venus Demilo Mentalism) -- in that it has to be simple. (No arms...get it?) But the mentalism is remarkable. Here's a sample that I think is okay to share.
Maue has Danny Archer go to the BACK of the room and choose one of five ESP cards. No way he can possibly know which one. Maue knows exactly which card was chosen. The room is agog. Maue says he'll teach it at the end of the lecture and pretends to forget all about it. During the Q and A period he is reminded...and urged to share this new technology with the assembled. He's reluctant. He checks his watch...he tells us how complicated it is. He hems and haws. In the end he tells us that he WILL explain it but that he knows very few of us will use it because we won't like the method.
"Tell us!" the crowd urges. I mean it's a miracle, right? How could he possibly know? He didn't handle the envelope...he just...like read Archer's mind.
Finally he shares the method.
Have you figured it out?
"Well...before the show I told Danny to pick the circle," says Maue.
At first there's this shocked silence. People ARE disappointed. Then someone starts to applaud....and so does someone else...and the room erupts with laughter and applause. Maue then urges us to lie like crazy to our audiences and embrace methods that work. He is going to be very missed. This is the first time I've seen him, but he has a capacity to make instant friends...and I am so glad I had the opportunity to get to know him before he leaves.
You've been to conventions, right? The people spill out of the lecture hall and you see cool things happening in hallways. That's certainly the case here. I saw Eugene Burger participating as a spectator in a book test in one of the hallways. But nearly all of the actual action happens in Jack's Irish Pub.
(Sheree has taken all these photos, by the way.) Banachek and Cassidy are to the left. I'm surprised at how well everyone knows each other...and how friendly they are. But then again...a small community, right? There's good, good teaching at the Pub. But it comes in a different format: it's not so much performers showing off. It's more performers sharing with other performers. Having been to umpteen magic conventions, I'm telling you that you can feel the difference here. Trust me...I have a very finely developed bullshit detector...and there is very little of it here.
ProMystic Announces the eWallet
I had almost forgotten that ProMystic's Craig F. was announcing "something big" at the end of the Attendee show.
Here he is holding the precursor to the brand new eWallet. It's a very soft leather wallet with spaces for three cards, business cards, slips of paper etc. The unit will send a s*gnal in the usual way to let you know which one has been removed or returned...the order they were removed in...the order they were returned in. There's also a p**k function.
The wallet is available in Shogun or standard designs...and will ship with a conventional duplicate wallet. The MindVention price is $500. The actual product will go up for sale in January of 2012 for $600.
I was looking at the wallet, my tiny mind spinning with possibilities. Sheree came up and said "So...you want one?"
I am now the proud owner of one. I don't have the re***ver. with me...so I will have to wait to work with it at home. But it's a perfectly looking kit. I am not sure I'm sold on the p**k -- but I haven't really had a chance to look it over, My wallet has been moaning softly in pain all day.
"A Juggler at a Magician's Convention"
This, as you know, is the legendary Eugene Burger, who was lecturing on designing seances. He told me he is going to open his show tonight telling the group that he feels like a juggler at a magician's convention. (Magicians freaking HATE jugglers.)
The presentation was actually more of an interview of Burger...who is an unrepentant magician. Take a few seconds on the Cafe and you'll soon find out what mentalists in general think of magicians. (I've always seen the mentalist as a cat curled up on the top of a book case looking down with just a little disdain at the magician/dog howling and chasing it's tail.)
But the man knows what he's talking about. The interview was frankly just a little disappointing. I had hoped for a more tightly structured lecture about the mechanics of doing a seance from a master. Much of the talk centered around a project Burger is working on for Halloween. There was still a LOT of information.
At the end of his presentation, the passionate Burger closed with a poem. It was delivered with fire. Fabulous. He got a partial standing ovation. Now if he'd been a MENTALIST...
"Be Nice, Richard."
The last lecture was delivered by mentalism legend Richard Osterlind.
I found the thoughts he shared really fascinating. The Reader's Digest version:
Don't use Stooges because the chances of getting busted when the audience starts talking among themselves is too high.
It annoys him when he is asked why he doesn't bother justifying getting the spec to write things down. He just doesn't. It's part of the show. He doesn't justify anything.
He doesn't lie when he presents things on stage. He really believes he is bending spoons etc while in the process. This is not a lie. Am I disagreeing? Nope. He's Osterlind.
There was great information from a no-doubt-about-it master. Good instruction...good routines. There's a reason why the guy is a mentalism rock star.
He said his wife always worries when he's about to give a lecture...because she's concerned about who he might annoy. I felt this lecture was a home run. Great food for thought...usable routines...wonderful ideas. And before anyone starts throwing rocks, I have personally worked with Richard (my PERSONAL FRIEND **ahem**) on a portion of the Magic Pendulum book. He's an outstanding person who cares right down to his toenails about his work.
Off to see the show. It starts in about 20 minutes...but I wanted to update you guys first.
Then MINDVention will be over. **sigh**
It's a Wrap
There are a number of pictures I could file here. A few would offend people. So I thought I would use an image where people are enjoying each other, laughing and having a good time.
No one actually SAID the last party would be in Jacks. No one had to. It just kind of happened. While it was unusual to be at an event where I wasn't entertaining, it was also one of the best events I've ever been to. A bunch of people, all interested in the same thing laughing, drinking and enjoying each other. It's close to two again and I am just back in the room. Really tired...and a little sad that it's over. But I gotta tell you: that if I were here for too many more days I would be in a coma before it was over.
In the end Mindvention was better than I thought it would be. I saw awesome performances and some really crappy ones. I learned from each of them. I met people in the flesh that I have seen online for months. I learned as much in Jack's from people like Bob Cassidy, the Paralabs crew, my newest friend, Walter and my older friend Dan Strange. It was good meeting Black Fox and so many others.
The people in the image above: your right to the left: Bob Cassidy, Black Fox, Paul Shirley and Paul's friend.
I bought more props than I'd intended to....but I am going home with spectacular stuff...including the newest item from ProMystic, a Parapad, some breathtaking props from Alchemy Moon and the always innovative Tony Chris -- and Paul at Mind Voyage. I am happy.
And I am thinking about 2012.
Magic Pendulums: Professional Resources for Professional Performers