Each year it feels like I turn around and MindVention is suddenly over. Maybe it's the fact that people here run on somewhere between two and three hours of sleep a night. Maybe it's because of the steady influx of new information. Maybe it's just because it's Vegas...but suddenly we're out of lectures and coming up on the "Masters of Mentalism" show.
Tonight's line-up features Cashetta, Bob Cassidy, Docc Hilford, and John Riggs.
As usual, the front few rows will be salted with laypeople...who will be eyed by every mentalist in the room and may or may not wind up feeling like the last few mounds of hamburger in the middle of a crowd of teenagers with the munchies.
This afternoon had several really good lectures and discussions...and one very looooong lecture. Admittedly, this is a matter of personal taste -- so I will leave it to you to figure out which I see as which.
Cashetta's creator, Scott Weston, spoke first (out of drag costume) very knowledgeably about Q and A. There's real intelligence in what he had to say. There was genuine compassion when he talked about reading fortunes and loving his audience. The character, Cashetta really rides the edge in much of the material. But in hearing the guys talk about it, this was THE performance of the convention.
The highlight of the day, for me, was a panel discussion on Q and A,. Wonderful thoughts being shared by the likes of Bob Cassidy and Michael Weber. There was a feeling that most of the performers doing Q and A really need to either stop performing it or need to rethink their motivations -- to quit thinking "method" and start making it a depiction of the process of reading a mind.
This was followed by John Riggs doing his first lecture ever. Yup. I was as surprised to hear that as you are. He showed some wonderful methods of getting the peek from imp devices...but the bulk of what he taught centered around readings. Here's a sample: the "oracle" was a series of small objects: a rubber ball, a small teddy bear, a small Wizard of Oz book etc. The sitter chooses "even or odd" and those objects are pushed forward.
In this process, a ladybug fell off the table. Riggs said it was an important event, quoting the rhyme "Ladybug ladybug fly away home" -- and said it was an indication that a critical decision was on the way. Remember that this lecture was taking place in a room full of exhausted performers...most of whom don't do readings. There were a number of "huh" glances exchanged. The room was not as full at the end as it had been at the beginning.
So...in wrapping things up...these were the highlights for me this year:
* I'd never seen Michael Weber perform before. I was really impressed with the show he did, the intelligent thought behind the things he shared and his confident manner with the audience. It is my loss that I was not familiar with him until now.
* There's love in this fraternity. Cassiidy is getting his lifetime achievement award (he said it bothers him a little because he's a little concerned that this means he's done now) -- but I find it wonderful that this is a group that respects it's leaders.
* Mentalism takes many forms. Cashetta to Riggs....Cassiidy to Hilford. There's passion in all of them.
* MIndVention remains a small and friendly convention. Again -- I am struck by the intelligence of the people here. There's no mobbing of the dealer tables -- but there is a genuine exchange of information and feelings.
I love this place. MV Eleven happens next year in October. Richard Osterlind is going to be the guest of honor. And you're going to be seeing a lecture on pendulums as well.
So I'm off to the last show and then the pub. I expect to be out very late tonight -- and we're flying home tomorrow. My first show will be on Thursday --and that''s when the real world will be swimming back into focus.
This will be a good thing...because I can use the rest.
Hope you have enjoyed these updates.
(If you're wondering where the pictures are, check here. Sheree's done an awesome job as the official photographer.)
The last day of MindVention always takes me by surprise. Maybe it's the sleep deprivation...maybe it's constant stimulation. It could even be the non-stop barrage of cigarette smoke. But here it is: the last day.
Last night seems like several days ago. Gee...where to start? Cashetta, I guess. She/he has had a psychic show here in Vegas for years. You have to get this picture: over six feet tall (in heels), with a multi-sequined evening gown...along with a black boa. The show starts with a Show-tuney sounding song and roars through three standard effects...but what powers the show is the bigger-than-life personality and the really polished presentational skills he...or she...has.
The surprise? Cashetta is actually a very good psychic. She concluded the show by having various people take one tarot card from her deck. She blew (maybe that's a bad word choice...) through readings.
"You have to let that woman who has authority over you have her way...maybe that change in your life is happening for a good reason...your business is going to turn around. Just ride it out."
The show is peppered with really risque references and concludes with some...long balloon...swallowing...and got a partial standing ovation from the attendees. A powerful character.
The Bob Cassidy Roast was well done. (Get it?) Ken and Mike Weber, Cashetta, Jheff and more took the stage. There were the expected stories about Bob's drinking and anti-focus talking -- but underlying all of it was a real affection for the guy. He got a minute long standing ovation at the end of it.
Through it all, Bob sat onstage, sipping an endless stream of rum and Cokes, laughing, grimacing and occasionally cringing. It was a lot of fun with just enough of an edge to make keep you on your toes.
In the bar afterward, Bob came by and told me that the things they said weren't all true. He's never actually been in prison..."except for that one night."
Today the schedule starts with Docc Hilford at 10:00, and a panel discussion on Q and A. John Riggs closes off the day with a lecture just before the Masters of Mentalism show which will feature Cashetta, Cassidy, Hilford and Riggs.
I don't expect to be back in this room until 2. :)
MindVention...if it was a week long I am pretty sure I'd be in a coma.
...there is still a Cashetta show tonight. In case you've never heard of Cashetta...he is a man dressed up like a woman who does a Q and A act. Or maybe...ummm...she does. Cashetta made a huge impact here last year when they (cause the term 'they' is easier than having to decide whether to say "he" or "she")popped by Jack's.
Cashetta is followed by the Bob Cassidy roast. and then down to the pub.
This afternoon Allison Campbell talked about picking up work on trade show work. She advocated a meat-eating strategy...tracking down clients in every possible place -- even going to trade shows you're not even interested in so you can meet corporate marketing directors. It was a great seminar on the business side of mentalism.
Paul Vigil, a Vegas magician talked about a clipline routine with serious passion. You've heard of a clipline, right? He did the word reveal using an Ouiji board. Very clever.
Bob Cassidy and Jheff took the stage next in a largely unstructured but absolutely fascinating discussion on "stuff." If you're a member of Bob's Master Mindreader Workshop, you've heard their 'chats.' This is what it was -- a rambling discussion on many different topics from cards in mentalism to alternate ways to switch slates or cards.
Man...sleep deprivation is part of MindVention. I'm feeling it. Here's the real issue: I KNOW I should be sleeping early tonight. And I know I won't.
...last night got kind of late.
Michael Weber did a great show last night. He's confident, smooth and very funny. He was easily the highlight of the day. He opened with a drawing dupe: one spectator is told to simply think of a picture to draw,,,and another spectator is told to read the first spectator's mind. Then they turn back to back and make their drawings. When they turn around...you guessed it: both guys have drawn flowers. I was sitting with Vancouver mentalist Eric Samuels and we both looked at each other and shrugged. The solution, as all good solutions tend to be, was simple and forehead slapping good.
He did a nametag routine where he invited six people to write their nicknames down...mixed up the pile and proceeded to give the right name tags to the right people. (I can see you nodding out there. Yeah...it works like you think it does. But, as Weber pointed out -- it's not about the effect. It's about the interaction. He did it well.)
This was followed by a memorized deck routine and a very nifty way of doing it without any memory work required at all. Clever.
Weber went over his allotted time with the full support of the organizers and the audience.
ParaLabs closed out the official presentations with a lecture on Theory and Presentation. They emphasized the importance co connecting emotionally with your audience.
Then it was off to Jack's Pub...where you usually find Bob Cassidy. On this night, Cassidy wasn't there. He told me he had to catch a very early flight. (If you know Bob...you know he''s not an early flight kinda guy.) He went to bed. But Jack's was hopping. I was there till just after 1:00 and when I left there were still guys chatting and drinking. There was talk among some of them about renting a limo and hitting the Strip. If they did that, I don't expect to see them at the morning sessions...which start in about half an hour.
Paolo Cavalli is a no-show. He''s having some passport issues. But there are a number of other presenters filling the spot. We're going see Patrick Redford and Joe Atmore perform and a "Top Secret Surprise Presenter" as well. (Yup...SECRET. I can't tell you who it is (Bill Abbott) because I am sworn to secrecy.
That's going to be followed by a couple of quickies: Allison Campbell and Paul Vigil will be doing 30 minute sessions.
Bob Cassidy and Jheff lecture at 3:00...I understand this is going to be more of a two person panel discussion. After dinner, we'll see Vegas mentalist Cashetta perform...and all of this is followed by the Bob Cassidy Roast.
This is going to be a wonderful day...which starts in about twenty minutes.
The opening day of MindVention is better than half over. Sheree is posting her photos to the MindVention page on Facebook...and this seemed as good a time as any to let you know a little about what's happened today.
The Attendee Show is always interesting to watch. It's rare that I get to watch another mentalist perform, so it's an ongoing fascination to see these guys from all over the planet perform their art. Usually there are some very good acts and some not so good acts taking the stage. This year it was a little more like a dealer show...which isn't necessarily bad.
We saw Cobra Magic demonstrate a mentalism chair that makes PK Touches a remote control proposition. Vancouver mentalist Eric Samuels showed off an interesting routine using "thought slices" long with an intuitive jigsaw puzzle routine. We saw a demonstration of the voodoo dowels from New Orleans mentalist Tim Pratt. It was a show worth watching...and i like to keep up with the latest/greatest props as much as the next guy.
ParaLabs made the first of two lectures scheduled for today. They revealed some of their philosophies about mentalism and told the group about something that is a potential game changer for mentalism.
Want to hear about it? Okay: the volunteer puts on a blindfold. When the blindfold is on, they literally hear a voice in their head. Did you get that? I'm not talking about something whispering in their ear...I'm talking about a voice conducted through the bones in your head. It literally is a voice you hear in a completely new way.
The example given was of a girl on stage in Cologne...hearing the voice of her boyfriend in her head asking her to marry him. In this case, one half of ParaLabs is on-stage...the other half is in Berlin, speaking into a microphone...doing the very voice she hears.
(I asked what it sounded like...and Ranier hooked me up to this blindfold. It's like a voice that is heard vibrating in your mind. Sorta kinda creepy in a way.) These guys are onto something powerful. They were plagued by technical challenges...but ultimately the concepts they are working with are the kind of props that could change the whole face of mentalism.
This was followed by a panel discussion regarding the issue of mixing magic and mentalism. The problem with the construction of the panel was that all three panelists: Paul Draper, Paul Vigil and Joe Atmore -- all felt mixing the two was fine. It surprised me that most of the audience agreed with this. I don't.
Up tonight: Michael Weber at 7:00 and one more lecture from ParaLabs on Theory and Presentation.
Then...well...the pub. Of course.
"It''s not going to be...how do you say it?" Ranier Mees, half of the ParaLab partnership looks to Christophe Ambre (who some may know better as " Parmenion" -- the scourge of newcomers asking newbie questions on a website called The Magic Cafe). Christophe acts as the official translator for concepts-I-only-know-how-to-say-in-German. Ranier says a really long German word. Christophe thinks about it for a minute and then shrugs and says "commericial."
"Exactly!" says Ranier. "It's not going to be...umm...'dealer show' at MiindVention. It's going to be a real lecture.."
Ranier bristles with enthusiasm as he sips alternately between glasses of orange juice and white wine. His gestures are sharp and his eyes are always roving the room. He's an affably intense guy, which makes me smile because he explains his concepts in minute detail and his enthusiasm for mentalism is like a small tornado.
He's a sharp contrast to the other half of ParaLabs -- Thomas Heine. Thomas has a genial warmth about him. He is precise in his choice of words and he smiles as he watches Ranier enthuse about their latest creations.For every fifty words Ranier says, Thomas speaks five. But these are people who are passionate about mentalism. It's a good partnership, I think. I really like these guys.
Anyway -- Ranier is talking about the first of two lectures he and Thomas will be doing as MindVention gets started today.
Last night a number of people went out to see Gerry McCambridge's show "The Mentalist." (Gerry was offering free tickets to MV attendees.) Another group went to see David Coppefield...and still others went out exploring the Strip.
I spent a chunk of last night far more constructively.. I was in the pub reacquainting myself with "I'm no longer jet lagged" Jan Forster and the always interesting Paul Carnazzo.
The convention kicks off today at noon when the registration table opens, although I'm betting that there will be activity there by about 11:00 or so. The day starts with the attendee show at 1:00 and the first of two lectures from the ParaLab guys. At 4:30, there's a panel discussion on mixing magic and mentalism...at 7:00, Michael Weber steps in for Bruce Bernstien (who was unable to attend this year)...and the day concludes with Thomas and Ranier lecturing on Theory and Presentation.
Okay. That's not true. The day will actually conclude with a prolonged visit to Jack's Pub, where Bob Cassidy will be holding court.
I'm looking forward to this whole day. I'll keep you posted.
It's great to be here early. We have been doing the tourist thing for the past few days...but every time I walk through the lobby or past Jack's Pub I still take a quick look to see if anyone's here.
We were in the lobby the other day and there was a guy who looked very much like Dirk Losander. (He had an accent too.)
"He's here for MindVention," said Sheree softly. "You should go and say hello."
"Why?" I asked -- which seemed, to me to be a reasonable question.
She shrugged and said "Because." (Like this explains everything.)
"It doesn't start for three days. No way," I responded. "Besides...if he is here for MindVention I'll see him soon enough."
I'm talking to the air. Sheree is standing in front of the Dirk doppelganger.
"Are you with MindVention?" she asks.
He looks at her for a long second. Then he scowls. "No." He goes back to his conversation.
I savor the moment because this is very likely the only time I am going to be right all weekend.
The first time I read "The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy" -- I have to admit that I didn't understand it. I think I got it in an abstract way...but I didn't really understand it.
Since then, I've read it several times and each time I've grown a little closer to realizing what a gem I'm holding in my hands. There's wisdom here...the kind of stuff that comes from years of performing artful mentalism. What do I like about this book? It's not abstract thinking from someone who spends more time in an armchair than on in front of people. This is the real stuff: Advice on how to start your show....the philosophies behind why we do what we do as mentalists...forehead slapping ideas that are simple to perform and beautiful in their elegance.
It's one of five books that have shaped the way I think about mentalism...ideas that really molded the way I perform today.
Why am I telling you all this?
I spent the whole miserable flight from Edmonton to Vegas with my nose in this book...rereading it again and finding wonderful new things -- like I always do.
The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy 2 makes its debut here at MindVention on Sunday. My copy is already reserved and I very much look forward to opening it and starting to discover new things Bob has to tell me.
We're doing the tourist thing...walking the Strip today. I'm going to enjoy it. And at the back of my mind, I'm settling back in happy anticipation at what's coming this weekend.
The first year we came to MindVention, we checked in and walked into a room with an unmade bed, clothes on the floor and an unflushed toilet. This bothered Sheree (go figure) and I went to the front desk. They agreed that the room probably was occupied and maybe we should get a free upgrade. So we wound up in a great room.
The second year we wound up in a room with a carpet that can best be described as...crusty. So we upgraded our room to a Junior Suite for an additional $20 a day.
This year we endured a REALLY long flight on Air Canada...where passengers are seen as a necessary if regrettable aspect of the travel business...took a marathon walk to our rental vehicle...and stumbled into the lobby, ready to relax in our "luxury tower suite."
It has crusty carpets...two beds....and an undefinable odor. Sheree,again...not happy. I go down to the desk clerk and explain that we booked a Luxury Tower room and are a little confused about where the luxury might be. The desk person seems used to answering this question. She responds with the information that the hotel doesn't actually guarantee the room that has been booked.
I ask questions...but she nods tiredly, tells me that the hotel is sold out as in COMPLETELY FULL, offers me a food comp...and the promise that my wife's world will be set right the next morning.
I am at the front desk early this morning, rehashing the situation with a new clerk and he tells me that there is a room with one large bed...in a room that is a carbon copy of the one we're in. I know I'll never be able to sell this to Sheree so I ask about an upgrade. To make this story shorter, we're now in a little suite. And my wife is happy.
If you are on your way here the magic word is "Upgrade."
Don't say I never gave you anything.
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