I did it. (Please note, however, the absence of an exclamation point.) I was able to get out of the sack in time to get a good seat at the finals of the close-up competition. The things I do for you people...
Before I continue, I want to make it very
clear that all of these guys are very talented. There are just some styles of close-up magic that doesnt appeal to me
. So if these are friends of yours and I seem hard on them, just consider the source. (And again, my apologies for any spelling errors. As I suspected, the close-up finalists were not listed in the Daily Prophet
; but the stage folks were. It was just a reminder to them of where they needed to report, and not a congratulatory announcement. Come on people!)
First up was MC Chow, who performed to music. He manipulates (ostensibly) poker chips (they look more like plastic discs to me) doing various effects usually associated with coins including productions, Matrix effects, size changes, and color changes. He also does some card magic and produces small wine glasses ala JP Valarino. There seems to be a trend in close-up magic where the close-up pad is becoming not only a working surface, but also a tool of methodology. Its okay done sparingly, but some of these acts are way past that point I think. Perhaps its a good thing Im not a judge.
Rod Chow, Mr. Money, performed essentially the same act I saw him perform here two years ago. On top of that, I heard someone say he did the same act at last years competition. Frankly, Ill be quite surprised if the third times the charm. My biggest problem is that hes performing at
the audience (even when hes handing out his million dollar bills). Close-up magic is an intimate art, and theres something about Rods act that doesnt allow him to break the barrier between performer and audience.
Next was Nathan Gibson (who was the Castle Junior of the Year for 2006) who performed with cards and coins. The kid has great chops and works the audience well (Rod Chow take note). Hes a very entertaining young man and is certainly a front-runner in my book.
David Minkin is another young man who had a great report with the audience and is a very skilled sleight of hand artist, performing mostly with coins. He was, however, a little stiff, likely because of nerves. He will get past that as his comfort level grows to the level of the skill he already has. Then, this guy will be a force to recon with.
Hayashi is of Chinese ancestry living in Germany (though originally from Canada) playing a Japanese! He opens with a very funny bit with a translation machine (Japanese to English). After loosening up the crowd with this great hunk, the young man proceeded to destroy the room with his great card magic. If there was a bookie taking bets, my money is on this guy. Hes very entertaining, has great chops and is very high energy.
Raymond, from Macao, performed an act very reminiscent of Boris Wilds. He produces and manipulates many plastic discs: Some of solid colors, others multicolor. After various coin-type effects with the disc, his close-up pad turns into a picture of a young woman which is made up of these various discs that he has produced. Its visual, romantic, and went over well, but I dont believe it was strong enough to capture an award.
The two front runners are, in my mind, Nathan Gibson and Hayashi. The question is, was there an act worthy of the Gold Cups? (Im betting no on that question.) Im sure as I write this, the results are known, but I wasnt at the show tonight and am sequestered up in my room. And since Im already in my footie pajamas (FPJs), Im not going back down to the convention hall. Youll just have to wait. (and its a pretty full schedule tomorrow, so it might be a long wait.)
My next event was a short nap. Email me for details if you really want them.
After a nice snooze, I shared time going back and forth watching the Aldo and Rachel Colombini lecture and the Trevor Lewis lecture (there was something I wanted to double check after seeing it yesterday, so even though I was wearing the wrong color badge, I snuck inthe things I do for you people...). Ive seen Aldo many times, but now hes tag teaming with his wife Rachel. As usual, the magic is direct and fairly easy. The strength of Aldos magic is Aldo (the 21st Centurys answer to Robert Orben). While you can certainly buy his tricks and his comedy books, you cant buy Aldos personality. Of course, that might be a good thing!
I wanted to revisit the Trevor Lewis lecture because I was called on something and danged if the person who called me on it wasnt right: Lewis didnt describe much in his lecture. He performed many things. And since he did describe the things that interested me, and I knew what he was doing on others, the fact that he didnt teach much at all escaped me completely. This, of course, forces one to buy lecture notes. A lecture is supposed to be a learning experience. Buying the notes should be an option, not a requirement.
One of the best attended events thus far was the lecture by Kalin & Jinger. Surprisingly, this was the first time they ever put on a lecture: And it was fantastic. The lecture (and thus the notes) is called Putting the Pieces Together. They take you through their process of putting together a magic show. Of course, this great information is applicable to an act (close-up or stage) or a full show. They share solid, real world advice that anyone who wants to be a magical entertainer should consider, if not heed. Their notes contain all this advice and more. There are also several tricks from Jim Steinmeyer included (the one they performed and explained is worth the cost of the notes). They will be performing and lecturing at the upcoming PCAM convention
, so if you are going, trust me, you have something really special coming your way. Dont miss it!
After the Dealers room closed for the evening, The Chief Genii, Steve V. and I were off to downtown Reno in the Dustin-Mobile. Though it had been two years since Ive been to Reno, I was proud that I didnt need to refer to the map I kept handy (I love this town). We had a great dinner on the Riverwalk (though there was some wind that kept us inside the place) and then walked over to Magic Underground for a regular (read: a lay audience) performance of Real Magic.
Jacques Simard was doing his strolling close-up magic for the folks waiting for the show to begin while others wandered the theater looking at all the different displays, posters, and optical illusions. (They have added many new items since my visit in 2005.)
The house was slightly under half full, but fairly enthusiastic (though I wouldnt go so far to say that they had high energy). The show went very well and virtually everyone stayed for autographs and pictures. There was an enormous familyperhaps twenty folks ranging in age from about 5 to 65and K&J posed with the whole group. After chatting and getting some snapshots for Steve, we headed back to the hotel. Richard went over to the Dealers Room thinking he was late getting there, but it was locked. He went over to the theater and saw that the show was still going on; about two and a half hours after its scheduled start time. He estimated that there was at least a half an hour left in the show.
Oh the humanity.
Like I said, I was already in the FPJs when he returned with that news, so I wasnt about to go back down there and connect with my spy, who agreed to fill me in on the happenings. Im sure it will still be burned in his memory tomorrow.
I also passed on the Ali Bongo late night lecture. I might regret that, but the FPJs are soooo comfy.
As I noted earlier, its a pretty full schedule tomorrow (make that later today), so Im not sure when I will be able to update you on contest results and the body count from the awards show. I know one thing: Im glad tomorrow is the last day.