To comment further on the other shows and scenes of the week, it was a real treat for me to see Joel Hodgson in the Parlor. Mystery Science Theater 3000 wasn't just a funny show, it was a coping strategy. It was about answering all things tedious, perplexing, and annoying with a playful, friendly spirit. It was so nice to experience the playful, friendly spirit there in its own right, without having to trigger it through tedium, perplexity, and annoyance.
Joel's Genii cover is actually my favorite one ever. It captures the image of that same coping strategy. He's holding his serenity and directing your attention upward while the usual band of magic imps ineffectively pester him. In the interview within the magazine (conducted by John Carney), Joel states his goal to someday become "Pure Picture." At the time he made that statement, he probably hadn't seen the picture yet and realized that he had done it.
The art director for that "Pure Picture" was Michael Albright, who did get to see the David Roth show. I know this because I helped him while away some of his wait time with various chat. It's possible that some of the people who had been waiting in the line for hours were wondering if I was going to try to chat my way into the show, but I did not do this, and justice and fairness prevailed all around.
I also met Mark Collier, who cut a very Oscar Wildean figure, and indeed we did exchange witty banter about the hilarious things our sons had crashed their cars into. What laughs!
Another real coup of the week was getting Handsome Jack into the parlor. I heard that John Lovick had to pressure him for months before he agreed to do it. Here's to persistence! He presented an effect with slates that featured a wonderfully plausible explanation for why a magician would have any such items: they were props from an episode of "Little House on the Prairie" where they thought the schoolhouse was haunted. Everything that followed was well-integrated with that premise - and yes, those slates still had plenty of haunt in 'em.
Derek DelGaudio in the Close-Up Gallery did a demonstration of The Piano Card Trick/Apples & Oranges principle using socks, and I have to hand it to him for solving the most difficult part of that trick: keeping the many iterations of pairing interesting. His enthusiasm never flagged! This sock sorting is vitally important, people, he indicated. I shall try to learn.
Returning to the topic of wits, I had a really interesting conversation with Terry Ellet comparing and contrasting three of that school: the perfectly cynical Ambrose Bierce; the somewhat cynical yet very light and tender-hearted Mark Twain; and the true believer Will Rogers. Obviously, being pissed off can make people really funny, but it's good to know, too, that you don't have to be.
I also had a conversation with John Carney, who had some very touching things to say about his early experiences at the Magic Castle. His nostalgia had been fueled by reading "The Vernon Touch" and remembering how those columns felt and sounded the first time he had read them, when they had originally appeared. It was easy to sympathize with his perspective, as there are many of us going around now who have attained to mid-life and who are watching the world we knew fall down around us. But this only means that it's our turn to step into the shoes. So I say to John and to any who find themselves mourning the glorious past of giants and geniuses: