IBM Reno 2007

Discuss the latest news and rumors in the magic world.

Postby Dustin Stinett » 06/27/07 11:37 AM

Against my better judgment, I am going to try and keep a daily BLOG of the happenings up here in Reno at the IBM convention. (24 hours ago I wasnt going to do this.) As has been the case with such reports, I will be keeping the thread locked until after the convention is over on Saturday. I will then open it up to your comments.

Thanks for reading!

Dustin

Tuesday

Unlike my last trip up here, my nine hour drive was uneventful. But 30 seconds into standing in line to check into the Grand Sierra Resort Hotel and Casino I was being hammered about a review. Not one of my reviews, but one of my esteemed colleagues reviews. It wasnt a problem until five minutes later when someone else was hammering me about the same thing.

This is going to be a long week, I thought to myself.

Also while standing in line, I heard a voice saying, Dustin, do you want to know everything Ive done so far to the minute?

I had to explain to Mike Close that my (failed) experiment had nothing to do with monitoring his bowel movements.

Id been here ten minutes and this was turning into the longest week of my life.

Unlike last time, I had no issue getting a non-smoking room for my roomie and me, and just a few minutes after I was unpacked, said roomiethe Chief Geniishowed up fresh off his flight. Too late for him: I already had the good bed.

We ventured down to convention headquarters were we were told our stuff was already at the Genii booth. Daniel is running a very smooth ship in the Dealers Room.

We missed the opening ceremonies because of a fantastic dinner at the steak house here (though I chose the salmonmmmmmmmmsalmon). Roger Dryer of Fantasma Magic was our host and it was great conversation, food, and entertainment (Roger schmoozing the hot little hostess).

The Dealers Room opened at 8 pm and the flood of early arrivals jammed the room. Someone was tossing out free packs of cards and Mark Masons booth was already garnering applause. The mood of the place was upbeat and very positive. There is some great talent on the bill, and everyone is looking forward to it. Howie Schwarzman was scheduled to give the first late-night lecture at 11 pm. Being dead tired, I, regretfully, had to pass.

Before we knew it, it was 11 oclock and the Dealers Room was closing and it was time to hit the sack.

Time is flying by already.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 06/28/07 10:31 AM

Wednesday

Ever heard the phrase, Bright-eyed and bushy-tailed?

I dont think its in any way cute.

Anything scheduled before 10 am or so will be missed by yours truly, so if you have your heart set on reading about the preliminary contests, all I can say is, HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!

The Dealers Room was already jumping by the time I got down there. Still no buzz yet about anything in particular, but its early yet. (Id say maybe a little more than half the attendees are actually here.)

After lunch with Richard Kaufman and Michael Close, we ran into David Kaye and Simon Lovell who had just arrived. Lunch and subsequent conversation killed any opportunity to see the Henry Evans lecture (the first of the Afternoon Magic Seminar lectures), but I will try to get the skinny on it.

The Schwarzman lecture last night was something of a success after they were able to find another camera since the one for the room was apparently removed prematurely. During the lull before Howie started, it seems someone took the stage and did a stand-up comedy hunk. From what I heard it was a shame Piers Morgan and crew werent there to buzz him off. Fortunately for the folks who stayed up late, Howie killed.

Though not on the printed schedule, Jon Armstrong lectured at 4:00. Besides some very nice tricks, Jon had some excellent advice on audience management thatto be brutally honest and was not a surprise to mereceived little response.

Tricks, tricks, tricks, the boys are marching

Jons lecture did not go off without a hitch. The Dealers Showcase was going on in the room where he was scheduled (with a 3:45 start time). Of course it was the dealers in the wrong room. Tahoe, Reno, hey, it all sounds the same. You know, kinda like Wonder-bar and Wonderful-Bar.

Besides what I believe was the best bit of information Ive seen in a lecture in a while, Jon scored well with several excellent effects.

After dinner with the boss, and a philosophical discussion on the vagaries of age, the Premiere Gala Show started in the Grand Sierra Resort Theater. The name has changed, but the absurdity of the room has not. Its huge. The stage is enormous, and just like the 2005 event, completely inappropriate for the kind of show being staged in it.

Once again, Michael Close provided the music and did his usual stellar job. His overture was a tribute to Jay Marshall, opening with If I Had My Way. At the end, Close stood behind his keyboard for all to see the tie on which was Leftys smiling face. (You know, these multi-talented people just slay me. I just want one talent; one stinkin talent. But nooooo, we have to let some people have more that one. But Im not bitter or anything.)

Prior to the show proper, the stage contest finalists were announced, but DS (stands for [censored]) didnt have his notepad. Ill try to scare those names up later. And after some comments from the outgoing IBM President, the show started.

The MC for the show was the one and only Terry Seabrooke who was in great form, even if he is getting around with, a stick (a cane). And getting around with a cane is no mean feat on that friggin stage. He moved fairly quickly, but it still took him eight seconds to get to the wings after announcing the opening act.

Duane Laflin and Mary were that opening act and they proceeded to produce, knot, transform, and do everything else one can do with silk scarves and handkerchiefs as well as feather flowers.

Arthur Trace followed and scored well with his incredible manipulation act. How this guy didnt win at FISM is beyond me.

A very unusual, but welcomed and very well receive novelty act followed. Antje Pode, a star of German Variety Theater (perhaps best known here for juggling suitcases with her legs) performed her aerial silks act, except instead of one or two columns of cloth, she has many strands of what appears to be very soft rope. High above the stage, she weaves and contorts her body into the strands. Its a beautiful act with beautiful music performed by a beautiful woman: Incredible stuff.

Seabrooke performed a linking ring routine with an eleven year old boy. It was a great hunk and Clarke, the young man who shared the stage with Seabrooke, clearly had a good time. Later I saw young Clark in the elevator and commented that someday, when hes that age, hell tell the story of how he shared the stage with Terry Seabrooke. His parents asked if Seabrooke was famous I assured them he was only a legend. What a wonderful memory for that young man!

The ageless Chuck Jones closed the evening with about a half an hour or so of masterly performed grand illusion.

At 10:00, I joined 200 or so other folks and made the trek via bus to Magic Underground, Kalin & Jingers magic theater in downtown Reno. The couple set up a special late night show for the convention and the smart set took advantage of it. The theater was full, and the group was very enthusiastic about seeing the show. And Kalin & Jinger did not disappoint. Maybe Im biased (see the January 2005 issue of Genii ), but I think its the best magic show on the planet. And Kalin & Jinger proved it once again with this performance. They have added several new pieces and the show feels as fresh as the first time I saw it.

There was a special moment during the show where Mark spoke about the difficult first year they had. He and Jinger traveled to Beverly, Massachusetts and stopped by the Cabot Street Theater. The place was closed, but Mark peeked through the glass to look inside and noted that the door was unlocked. He poked his head inside and saw the Cesareo Pelaez was sitting alone in the lobby. The ensuing conversation between the old showman and the young entrepreneur lifted Marks spirits. Mark spoke how, for over two years hed been trying to properly compose a letter of thanks. Well, this night, Mark was able to thank Pelaez in person. The audience gave the old showman a gracious standing ovation.

After the show, Mark & Jinger sat and chatted and signed autographs. It was a great time for everyone. (And they will be lecturing on Friday, which I am really looking forward to!)

My date for the night was Genii Forum member Steve Vaughn (Steve V.). He has recently moved to the area and this was his first time seeing the show. I think its safe for me to say that the show has a new fan. The bus back to the hotel was still buzzing with comments about the show when it pulled up to the hotel just after 1:00 am. Steve and I chatted for a bit before he headed back to Rancho Stevo and as I wandered in the direction of my room at 1:30, I saw Michael Close holding court in the lobby with everyone around him in hysterics. No doubt its his new Knock Knock joke.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 06/29/07 01:53 AM

Thursday

Ah, slept like a baby last night. Yep, woke up every two hours. I have two choices: Listen to my roommate snore, or wear earplugs and listen to myself snore.

Im not sure what I missed this morning because the schedule is so whacked. There are changes everyday it seems. These are printed in a flyer, the Daily Prophet, that apparently no one knows about. They must not have put them into the schedule at the right time.

Heres a little tip for the folks who run the next (or any) convention: Set up a computer, hooked up to the largest TV monitor you can muster. Run a PowerPoint slideshow with the current schedule, changes, general announcements, contestant finalists and winners, and all other items of interest and need that occur during an event this size. Everyone loves TV; theyll find it. Hell, somebody is bound to ask if its available on DVD. In fact, clear thinking producers might see a possible revenue stream here. (Okay, Ill do your thinking for you: Charge a tad extra for a dealers booth that also gets a slide that runs on the announcements slideshow.)

I definitely saw some new faces in the Dealers Room this morning, so the crowd is getting larger. I hear that the attendance is about 650 to 700.

Most of the dealers Ive chatted with are, so far, pleased. Mark Mason has already sold out of a couple of his items. But still, Im not hearing any buzz. Are magicians keeping things closer to the vest these days?

DS (remember: that means [censored]) missed the Boris Wild lecture. I heard it was great and so I chased him down and was able to purchase his second to last lecture CD (out of the 200+ he said he broughtoh, and doesnt anyone do lecture notes anymore?).

I didnt miss the Trevor Lewis lecture. It was in three parts: Kids, Close-up, and Cabaret. Great stuff for virtually everyone. Another plus was that he didnt sing during the lecture. (Its the little things in life I enjoy.)

The preliminary Close-up contest took place in the afternoon. I chose to man the Genii booth while the boss got some much needed rest. Of course, that thought must have caused him to wake up in a cold sweat because he showed up shortly afterward.

Once again, I wasnt invited to the Magic Circle High Tea. One of these days Im going to find out just what kind of tea it is. Personally, Im a Vanilla Chai fan, but its never made me high.

This evenings big show in the big theater at this big convention was a big stinker. Thank God for Mike Close and his piano. And I liked Ali Bongos entrance onto the gigantic stage: He was wheeled out by bellmen on one of their luggage carts. For the most part, he did well, though he did have a major glitch with one of his bits and he had no out. Stuff happens.

Then the rest of the stuff happened. The first act of the International Gala was Yugi Yasuda, a quick change and magic act from Japan. Some in the audience enjoyed their act very much while othersand I found myself among themdid not.

While I was pleased to say that Trevor Lewis didnt sing at his lecture, he unfortunately chose to sing at the beginning and end of his act. Mr. Lewis should drop the singing. Why, you might ask? Ill put it this way: If theres a live band and they asked him what key to play in, his answer could be whatever. I honestly cannot recall what magic he performed. I do know that he had a young lad on stage with him and the kid was getting better laughs at times (which were acknowledged by Lewis).

The bright spot of the evening was Hikari. This young Japanese woman dances while performing a lovely linking ring routine (the rings appear one at a time). Then she produces large silk streamers with smaller silk hanks that act like confetti. Its very colorful and nicely done.

The variety act of the night was ventriloquist Mark Merchant who works with three dummies and a talking stool. Because of the size of the room, the illusion of ventriloquism does not work in there. The dummies are too small to see clearly, so the movement is lost. But his comedy scored fairly well, especially toward the end.

Duane Laflin and Marywhom you might recall were in the Wednesday night show pulling silk things and feather stuff out of everything imaginablereturned to perform their illusions. Theres one kind word I can use to describe their illusion act: Unrehearsed. There are a bunch of unkind words that I could use to describe it, but I wont go there. It was a fitting closing act, I suppose. When you can see the train wreck coming, it makes sense to watch the crash. Afterward, everyone got up, dusted themselves off, and headed for the Dealers Room.

Joe M. Turner, my Genii DVD reviewer counterpart dropped by the Genii booth having arrived earlier in the evening (but just in time to catch the International Gala debacle: Lucky him). Joe was late in arriving because he chose to do a bunch of shows and make some money. What a nut case! Doesnt he know what magic is all about???

The late night event was a Talk with Milt Larsen. Ive had plenty of those, so stayed in the Dealers Room until it closed, then chased down some folks who could tell me the names of the contest finalists.

Before I do the list, I want to apologize in advance for spelling errors that are going to creep in. After all, printing the names of yesterdays stage finalists in the Daily Prophet must make too much sense, because they didnt do it. So I dont suspect that they will print the close-up finalists in the Friday edition. Why would they? If the press wants the correct spellings, they can go out and get them! Press release? We dont need no stinkin press release!

The stage finalists are:

Sterling Dietz, Shinachiro Ito, Shayna Reed, Chin-Chin, Raymond Long, and Shen Juan.

The close-up finalists are:

Rod Chow, Nathan Gibson, MC Chow, Raymond, David Minkin, and Hayashi.

The close-up finals are in the morning. You know: Antemeridian? The word sends chills up my spine.

A scheduling note for Friday: I will not be seeing the Awards Show tomorrow evening. I have a hot date with Jinger.

Really.

I do.

At 8:00 pm at Magic Underground, the Chief Genii and I will be attending a regular performance of Real Magic starring Kalin & Jinger. In my opinion, you can never see that show too many times.

I will try to pick someones brain about what happened. (Rich Bloch and Michael Close working in the same room, are you kidding me?)

So now, if I am to drag my tuchas out of the sack in time to see the close-up competition, I have to get that tuchas into the sack.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 06/30/07 12:46 AM

Friday

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.

Nighty-night!
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/01/07 02:04 AM

Friday Addendum

My spy came through; sort of. His notes are in a special code that only he and those trained in the pharmaceutical arts can read. However, I will do the best I can to describe the events of the Friday night IBM Awards Show using these notes, other sources, and what was verbally passed to me by my man on the inside. In this particular case, my covert operative shall remain anonymous. For the sake of journalistic integrity, I checked with others (and received many unsolicited comments) that completely corroborate the opinions and statements of fact that will follow.

The short description: The worst stage contest show ever.

Running time: Three and one-half hours (including an intermission).

Ouch.

Rich Bloch was the emcee and did a fantastic job, trying very hard to keep things moving. But the field of stage contestants just was not up to snuff this year.

One was noted as being creepy, while another looked like a flashy bad dwarf on that stage. (This comes to the heart of the problem with that damn stage: Even great acts can come off as weak on it, so a marginal act will come off as terrible.)

Sterling Dietz, one of the junior contestants, won the Junior and Peoples Choice awards as a result of his card manipulations and, I was told, came within a few points of winning the Gold Medal. My spy prefers to think that he was given some kid slack. He would also like to add that black light is not magical and its not wise to spin sticks on visible strings then perform a dancing cane. But hey, whatever works.

Shayna Reed performed dove manipulations and apparently had some problems along the way. I believe she was a junior as well, and taking on a dove act is not as easy as it appears. Then you get tossed onto that enormous stage, in front of all those people: I dont even want to think about it.

Apparently black light is popular, since Chin-Chin also used it in his act. Did I mention that spies hate black light? I think it makes their secret decoder spy rings stand out.

Its not clear to me what eventual first place winner Shen Juan did, except that he filled the stage with lots of stuff. Of course, that is what you have to do on that stage: Have a very visual act that fills it up. Of course, it helps to be good too. Clearly he stood out.

Throughout the performances, audience members were shouting out about the names as printed on the Peoples Choice ballots. Apparently they were wrong, or in the wrong order or a combination of both. They were probably printed under black light.

After the contestant performances was an act that was, well, the Pitts. (And apparently it was.) Its a family that has performed for various community organizations for many years. The magic performed was vintage 1950s style stuff, like a Mis-made Flag using the old change bag (you know, the bag on a stick) and other such dated material. One comment was that it was sweet, but this was not a good time for sweet.

After this slow, energy sapping act, the producers decided an intermission would be a good idea (bringing the show to a complete halt).

After the interval, a tribute to Harry Blackstone, Jr. began. To a person I was told that this was a stand alone presentation that should have been done at another time. But that was the only major complaint: Time (it ran about an hour; this after a two and a half hour show already).

Lengthy video clips and montages added to that running time, while the performances, accompanied by a live band, were better appreciated. The performances included Gay Blackstone performing the Dancing Handkerchief as her late husband did so many times.

After the tribute, the contest winners were announced (accompanied by mind-numbing speeches by people who had little to do with the contests but wanted face time apparently).

As noted above, Shen Juan won for stage, with young Sterling Dietz winning the Junior competition as well as the Peoples Choice award. There was no Gold Medal awarded.

The Close-up winners were Hayashi, taking the Peoples Choice award and David Minkin taking home first place. I was told that he did indeed loosen up, and with his remarkable chops, was the hands down winner. There was no Gold Cups winner.

After three and a half hours, the ordeal was over and everyone left with a story they could tell their grand kids. It just depends on your point of view whether thats good or bad.

My story for that night involves footie pajamas.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/01/07 02:19 AM

Saturday

The last day: Hip-hip-hooray!

Its pretty bad when virtually everyone at a convention is glad its over. But that seems to be the case here. I have been in the Dealers Rooms of many conventions and I can honestly say that I have never seen one pack up so quickly. The only thing I didnt see were guys running screaming from the building.

Of course, we havent seen the final show yet.

The morning lecture was with Duane Laflin.

Two guesses as to whether or not I attended. (You should only need one.)

I have no doubt that Mr. Laflin is a very nice guy, who probably means well. He might even work hard; I cant say for sure. If he does, then hes working on all the wrong things. Malpractice makes Malperfect.

The next morning lecture was Daryl and, as would be expected, the room was packed. Daryl delivers the goods. Yes, he does stuff that he sells, but he also teaches some fine magic that you can walk away with without paying a dime extra.

The close-up performances were on my agenda today. Im a red badge boy, but I saw a lot of green and blue badges in the room, obviously coming in for a second helping of mostly outstanding magic.

Opening in my room was Jon Armstrong. The Magic Castles 2006 Close-up magician of the year wowed the room with nothing but a deck of cards and his wonderful style. As a friend of mine said, A deck of cards and a wallet: And to think I just spent $400 on some coins. Folks, it aint the plane, its the pilot and Jon Armstrong flies like very few can.

The magicians in the room surrendered to Frenchman Boris Wild after he performed his fantastic card magic. And then, as a special treat, he performed his original FISM winning Kiss act. Its a lovely routine, filled with remarkable sleight of hand, romance, and doesnt require a cheering section to tag along to garner thunderous applause.

Henry Evans of Argentina, performed miracles with borrowed decks of playing cards. He is truly remarkable. Later, I overheard one well-posted magicianwho was utterly baffled by his workcall him an SOB as he congratulated him. I pretty much feel the same way.

The one and only (though many have tried) Daryl filled the penultimate spot on the show. As usual his magic was amazing and his style effervescent: The room loved him.

Closing the show was a young man in a difficult spot in our room. Following those four men would be daunting to anyone and unfortunately Patrick Przysiecki was not up to the task. I will say this: Hes a high energy guy, but thats not enough when youre rolling with that crowd.

Soon after the last of the big three events, the Dealers Room opened for one last go around. The room was packed with last minute buyers while many of the dealers were packing their wares.

Going on at the same time was Autographs with the Stars. Many of the performers and lecturers were available at some tables so the attendees could get them to sign their programs and whatnot.

After a nice dinner with Joe M. Turner and Steve V. (our gracious host for the evening), it was time to roll over to the Titanic Theater and pray this nights show didnt hit an iceberg.

Once again, Mike Close was at the piano doing his usual fantastic job (as he did throughout the event). Perhaps one day there will be a convention show where all the acts are equal to the man behind the live music.

Naaaaahhhh.

After the introduction of Phil Wilmarth, the new International President of the IBM, and the presentation of a check to a local charity, the show began.

The Murray Hatfield Company (three boy and two girl dancers) took the stage and danced for quite a while (at least it seemed that way to me). Can anyone tell me if hip hop and break dancing are still hip? Just wondering, because it sure seems tired to me.

Hatfield was produced and what followed was a stream of various illusions and in one fillers performed by Hatfield and Teresa. It seems like everything Hatfield does is done in the slowest possible way, though his energy level is high. Its a strange dichotomy. (A gentleman sitting next to me said, Its no wonder his show lasts two hours.)

Hatfield acted as the emcee of the show and introduced Tony Chapek who performed his popular Television act. He garnered a partial standing ovation, mostly from those close enough to see it. While there is no question at all that Tony created this act independently, it disturbs me when I hear magicians talking about how original it is. Its unique in that no one else has done anything like it for quite some time, but it is not original.

After some more slicing and dicing by Hatfield and Teresa, Antje Pode returned to the stage, this time performing her fantastic suitcase juggle. Laying on her back, she first juggles a single suitcase, then two. Then, just for fun, she introduces three then four oranges which she juggles while also juggling the suitcases. Its a most remarkable variety act.

Hatfield then closed the show with an interesting version of Mark Wilsons Excalibur Illusion. Its a clear sub-trunk which is impaled with swords. Teresa was put into the box first, then a curtain was drawn around it. In the usual three second time, Teresa appeared outside the box. The curtain is pulled away and the crouched figure of Hatfield is seen in the box. The swords are removed and the person inside is one of Hatfields male dancers. Hatfield then appears in the back of the theater.

Hatfield then introduced his dancers for a final bow. He tried to introduce Tony Chapek and Antje Pode for their final bow, but they didnt return to the stage. Perhaps they went screaming from the building. He finally introduced Teresa and the company took their bows and the show was over in less than two hours. After Antje Pode, that was the highlight of the show for me.

The final event of the convention was the Strolling Olympics. No offense to the producers, but I preferred to stroll up to my room, pack for the long haul home tomorrow, and crank this out.

Summary

My overall impression of the convention is that it was really quite poor. Sure, there were some standout acts and lectures and Im not sorry I came. And its always fun to see friends and acquaintances. However, as one person said to me, You can meet with friends at Starbucks. (My smart-assed answer was that Starbucks was more expensive, but thats another story; you get the point.) But the event lacked something that I cant quite put a handle on. Or perhaps it lacked many things that added up to one big something.

The organization seemed poor, with schedule changes, room confusion, and other things. These things happen at large events, but it just seemed this suffered more that its share. (I should say that Daniel, who ran the Dealers Room, did a great job: I heard no complaints on that end at all.)

The talent seemed like it was either really great or really awful. I would rather see a convention that features fewer performers as long as theyre great. Thats value for the money: Quality not quantity.

I think everyone knows what my low-lights were on this trip, so I think I will just list the highlights and some other thoughts and observations. As I do this, some off these things will make sense to you while others only make sense to an individual. Thats the way it has to be; after all, Im writing this.

Getting a lesson on card crimping ten minutes into my arrival.

Getting the good bed.

Two laptops: One comfortable chair (guess who got that).

The best ball holders in town.

The Turkish Bazaar next door and the lady who ran it.

Missing her corset fashion show, dang it.

How much for the Kenny Logins scarf?

The view from the Genii booth.

Knock Knock.

Salmon. Lots of salmon.

Two new recipes, including one for salmon.

Malcolm.

Well, I like Reno.

Dice, dots and Daryl.

Doubling up on Magic Underground, Real Magic, and Kalin & Jinger

Watching K&J score big with their first lecture.

Watching Steve V. soak it all in.

A deck of cards and a wallet.

Apparently, theres no one there.

The Elmsley Count from Hell.

And on your left is Simon Lovell in his natural habitat.

Ellen DeGerneres and the big pause.

The real Kiss.

007.

18.

16.

Its all good, baby.

* * * *

The thread is now open for your comments, corrections, or anything else you want to add, except my credit card number if you are reading this Cat.

I do this for you, so I appreciate you sticking with me. It makes it worth while.

Thanks!

Dustin
(His next entryhe hopeswill be from home, sweet home.)
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Postby Terry » 07/01/07 12:35 PM

Dustin,

Honest bare bones review. Nice change of reporting.
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Postby Guest » 07/01/07 01:27 PM

An honest reporter in magic! And a good writer, too.
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Postby Guest » 07/01/07 01:38 PM

I feel I was a very good influence on him....

Jon Armstrong is God! One thing would make his show better, Jinger dancing around the table while he works...
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Postby Rick Ruhl » 07/01/07 03:47 PM

Im surprised at the comments about Bill and Ruth Pitt's though. Bill was President of the IBM when Biro and the bunch were doing kick ass coventions.

But you didnt mention Ruth's salt pour, which is still great, and the mismade flag is more about the symbol of the flag than magic.
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Postby Guest » 07/01/07 04:07 PM

Hi Dustin,

Thank you very much for a job well done!

Earle
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Postby Guest » 07/01/07 05:06 PM

My favorite picture from the whole event was taken at the end of the day yesterday. I have a photo of the hands of Mike Close and Simon Lovell as they happily tried to out do each others' Diagonal Palm Shift. Mike won.
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Postby Andrew Martin Portala » 07/02/07 07:42 AM

Thanks Dustin for taking the time and giving us the update on the convention.
It look like there was somethings that was ok
But for you what was the top 3
Thanks again
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Postby Guest » 07/02/07 09:12 AM

Thanks, Dustin.
Such up-to-the-minute reportage from the field shows one of the bright spots in what roils in the Blog-oh-sphere where 12 million (and counting) typists crank out text doomed to go unread.

Dustin's reports have personality and, more important, a POV...It also reeked of credibility.

Alas, do I hear a faint "death-rattle" when we hear somebody say, "Big convention!"?

Time for the Powers-That-Be to reconsider, rethink, and rehabilitate.

Thanks, again, Dustin.
We shut-ins "swapped" in the swamp appreciate it.

Onward...
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Postby Guest » 07/02/07 01:17 PM

Hey, you powers that be types:

Why have the dealer room open when big lectures are going on and no one is in the dealer room but when nothing but lil' meetings are going on do you have the dealers room closed? Punks.

Congrats to Richard the K for beating his last year record for subscriptions at the convention! Yeah!
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Postby Terry » 07/02/07 02:33 PM

Jinger dancing around the table while he works...
THAT would make any show better.
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Postby Guest » 07/02/07 03:48 PM

Dustin hit most of the highs and lows for the convention but I thought I'd add a couple of thoughts that might be from a bit different perspective. I sat with Dustin and Joe Turner duing the close-up session Saturday and can second his comments for that venue.

The Lows:

Terry Seabrooke - a good MC 10 years ago but well past his prime. Certain "older" MCs could carry off the act at 80+ like Billy McComb and Jasper but Terry was just not up to the task. Ali Bongo is teetering on the edge of being "over the hill" also. Where are all the good young MCs?

Stage contests: Small acts done on a huge stage. The one larger act had major problems (dove act) and looked very amateur. The judges gave this act second place while I would have rated it second to last. Another act was done in black light that wasn't visible beyond the first few rows.

Closeup contest: All the Asian acts seemed to feature plastic disc manipulations which had no relevance to real world objects. They all featured highly scripted performances done to music, elaborate table setups and the clapping and cheering of a traveling troupe of supporters who entered the room just for that act. I'm glad the judges rewarded the "real world" acts done with cards and coins. (Mike Close was a Judge - maybe that helped)

The Pitts: This must have been a political pay back of some sort for years of service to the IBM. The act likely plays well at the local American Legion or Lions Club meeting in Iowa but not on a big stage show for a magor convention. Secondly, I would question the appropriatness of staging a salute to the American flag tribute at an "International" convention. It was a very "my country is better than yours" speech which again plays well in small town mid-american but was highly unsettling for an international audience.

Dealers room: Where were many of the top dealers? Sure there were a few but the floor was more notable for who wasn't there than who was. No, Joe Stevens, Viking-Collectors Workshop, Hocus Pocus, Elmwood, Tillford, Hank Lee, Magic Magazine, L&L, Murphy's, Caveney, Wolfe, Meir Yedid, El Duco, Kevin James, Dean Dill, Doug Malloy, Jamie Schoolcraft, Todd Lasson, H&R, Norm Nielsen, Richard Hughes, Joe Porper, David Regal, etc. On the good side - I saved a lot of money.

Red, Green, Blue: Everyone just ignored the badge colors since the event times were so screwed up that many of the lectures were missed due to time changes and location confusion.

The Stage Shows: Every night there was at least one act I wanted to see. Unfortunately, too many nights there was ONLY one act I considered worth the trip to see. Weak overall talent pool. Maybe Dale was hampered with a small budget or maybe many of the acts were booked for Magic Live or maybe they were saving talent for the 2008 combined convention. Two shows of talent spread over four shows.

The Highs (a shorter list)

Closeup performances - consistently good

Old friends and new friends - still the best part of any convention

The Hotel - better than most convention hotels in spite of the construction
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/02/07 04:49 PM

The IBM convention was hampered this year because of last year's fiasco in Miami on which they lost a lot of money.

Also, both the IBM and SAM conventions face declining attendance in general. When faced with a summer in which MAGIC Live! takes place in August, that drains off potential attendees. The combined IBM/SAM convention in 2008 has also drawn off attendees because many people have pre-registered.

So, this year there are three potential conventions for people to choose from: next summer there is only one.

In 2009, IBM and SAM will again have separate conventions and FISM will take place in Beijing. FISM will draw people away from IBM and SAM.

I think, in the face of declining attendance, that it is inevitable that the combined IBM/SAM conventions will become the norm. All attendees would get a better convention because the pooled resources could hire better talent and the organizations would come out better in the long run instead of running the risk of losing money every summer.
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Postby Guest » 07/02/07 06:02 PM

I think that both IBM and SAM need to evaluate their losses and failures over the past few years; need to make some definite cuts in tax-exempt program expenses (so that Endownment Funds are not used as operating expenses); and explain to general members any long-range plans for multi-million-dollar fund raisers, for whatever purposes, so that, at the end of the projected combined IBM/SAM fiasco, there will be enough left to continue as viable organizations that should have better fiscal policies....

I love both IBM and SAM.....They are "guilds" which are supposed to be REPRESENTATIVE of ALL members....I hope that ALL members who attend the SAM convention in Dallas this coming week will let the National Council know that the project to build a 20 Million Dollar National SAM Headquarters is INSANE!!

I just had a heart attack a week or so ago, but I will be in Dallas for the SAM convention, and I look forward to a very successful SAM convention, with few palpatations of my heart, other than for the love for the organization....

I am deeply troubled that both IBM and SAM are having difficulties that can be handled ONLY by some fiscal responsibility of the respective directors of each organization and SEPARATE ventures that will feature good-old-better-than-thou programs....

Richard, you pointed out that the combined convention will be risky.....Duh!....One or both of the organizations will probably be destroyed by it....Oh, there might be a year or so of combined conventions, but that will only cause the stronger of the two to prevail over the weaker and lead to the demise of the weaker....Life sucks, doesn't it? But the survival of the stronger is our system; gotta love it and hate it sometimes....

I look forward to tipping a brew with whomever would like to discuss the above comments....I will be the guy at the SAM convention with the nametag that says "Opie"....

For the Love of the Craft.......opie
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Postby Kenardo » 07/02/07 08:22 PM

In my opinion, running a magic convention is a business. If an SAM or IBM convention fulfills their members's needs, is offered at a fair price for the value delivered, and is run efficiently, it should come out financially okay. The problem in recent years from what I have heard, is that these conventions just do not achieve the mark in these areas. And then come the excuses rather than a constructive and well executed plan to resolve the issues. Hopefully the combined 2008 is a successful alternative.

An interesting aside is Magic LIVE!, a premium priced convention, which was sold out months in advance and has from what I have heard a very long waiting list. This convention has delivered a quality event twice, and the magic community knows it.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/02/07 09:52 PM

MAGIC Live! is not an annual convention. It has been held exactly twice before. While it has a superb record, it could very easily devolve should it become a yearly event.

The fact that it is NOT held every year is precisely what has made it so special and attracted sold-out crowds.

It's easy to do something once: it takes professionals to do it repeatedly over a period of years.
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/02/07 11:01 PM

My thanks to those who offered kind comments about the BLOG; I truly appreciate them.

Now that Ive been home a while, theres one thing Id like to add: While the IBM convention was weak, I still enjoyed being there. The worst day conventioning is still better than the best day at my day job!

Regarding the 2009 IBM and SAM conventions: I dont believe that FISM will have that big of a negative affect on them. I think that the cost (and some of that will be assumed cost, but perception often has real implications) and location of FISM is going to have a negative affect on FISM. This is not a political statement, though I do believe that geopoliticsright or wrongwill have a bearing on the event.

Of course, this is all presumption. Well have to wait to see what happens. All we can do is hope for the best of everything.

Dustin

PS: For Andrew Martin

My Top Three:

3. Jon Armstrong
2. Kalin & Jinger
1. Friends (which Im very happy to say includes the folks above.)
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Postby Kenardo » 07/03/07 12:07 PM

Richard, I agree and disagree with you.

I do not believe it is easy to produce one good convention. I do believe it is harder to produce several good ones in a row. I agree that it takes a professional (magic and business) type with the right talent and skills to do the job well either once or consecutively over time.

Yes, the fact that Magic LIVE is not every year does make it a special event. But I think it is the fact that it delivers a great convention that makes it a sold-out event. I agree with you that if the event were held every year that it would not be as special.

However, Magic LIVE! was just an example (and I think a good one) to prove a point. Deliver a great magical experience at the right price, and people will come. If well managed financially, there should be a profit!

This is a point that I sincerely hope SAM and IBM understands one day - hopefully with next year's combined convention! If not, I fear that the conventions will die out because of continued losses.
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Postby Kenardo » 07/03/07 12:08 PM

By the way, thank you Dustin for your convention report. I really enjoyed reading it.
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Postby Guest » 07/03/07 12:35 PM

Thanks for posting Dustin! I was gonna call you today cuz I wanted to make sure you made it home.

I have to agree with Dustin by the way. I enjoyed being around the convention, seeing Dustin and a few other guys would have made it enough reason to go. Jon Armstrong is an amazing entertainer who happens to do it with a deck of cards. Kalin and Jingers show is the best formal show I've ever seen, fun and entertaining and the illusions can't be beat, all in the perfect theater.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/03/07 02:39 PM

MAGIC Live! could not, if it decided to go annual, put on the kind of convention that it has put on the past two (soon to be three) times. The budget wouldn't allow it.
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Postby Guest » 07/03/07 03:29 PM

I agree. MagicLive worked because it was a special event. If they go yearly it is just another convention.
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Postby Guest » 07/03/07 04:12 PM

Magic Live also works because its infrequency allows connected people like Stan Allen to call in favors and enlist talent that doesn't usually attend conventions. There are professionals who make a living off conventions like Aldo but most people working regularly(magic)can't take time off or the loss of income to perform at magic conventions. Pay a dozen trade show workers their standard daily rate and the budget would be gone in a flash.

By only tapping the talent pool very infrequently Stan puts together an exceptional event at a reasonable cost. My lament this year is that in spite of having registered for Magic Live long ago a corporate client is insisting that I be in Sweden that week. Trade show and corporate magic does have its down side.
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Postby Danny Archer » 07/04/07 11:02 AM

Hey Dustin,

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts with the Forum...

As a producer of conventions, I enjoyed hearing everyones thoughts about the business of producing conventions...
Producer of MINDvention
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Postby Guest » 07/04/07 05:24 PM

Hello all,

During IBM this year I signed up for a Genii subscription and thought it important to come and check out the forum.

In response to Dustin's original review of the convention, while I agreed with most everything, I have to take exception to one point that he made. He used very harsh words to describe the Gala Show presented by Murray Hatfield & Teresa. I feel that this was unwarranted.

Murray and his team did a fantastic job in a very difficult situation. That stage had been burnt by three bad shows the preceding nights and everyone walked in expecting another disaster. The show simply wasn't.

It started with a high energy dance number (that, yes, is still "hip"). This served a very important purpose - to show us who was in control that night. For the first time at the convention something was going as planned.

The rest of the show was well structured and flowed nicely. Yes, there were some points that dragged due to minor technical issues, and a little stumbling over the script - but nothing that detracted from overall quality.

Dustin wrote: "(Murray) tried to introduce Tony Chapek and Antje Pode for their final bow, but they didnt return to the stage. Perhaps they went screaming from the building." This statement seems harsh. For what reason should they be sent running from the theater? Their acts were tight and professional and worked well with the show. Neither act (nor Murray and Teresa) should be ashamed of what they presented.

I heard nothing but good things from other attendees including comments such as:

"Best show of the convention."

"I'm glad that they were actually good."

"...happy that they closed the convention."

"Finally! A show worth watching."

Hopefully you can appreciate the different point of view - one that was shared by many at the 2006 IBM.

-Donovan
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/04/07 08:16 PM

Donovan,

I appreciate your point of view and Im sorry you feel I was very harsh to Mr. Hatfield. However, what little criticism I directed at him could hardly be considered harsh let alone very harsh. The fact is that I wrote that he has high energy and, unless someone was in a coma, its impossible to miss the fact that his presentations arefor lack of a better wordexpanded. In other words, they are constructed to maximize time. I made an observation about his style and I think its a correct one.

Regarding the hip-hop/fly dancing, I asked several members of the younger generation about it and they would not agree with your assessment. (However, I would also question their idea of what makes good entertainment these days.) Its more a matter of taste. I probably would have had less of a problem with it had the length of the opening dance number been decreased a bit. But, again, questioning the dancing is hardly harsh. Had I said that the dancers sucked and took away from the magic (which I didnt, because they didnt) that would have been harsh.

Given your statements, Im not at all convinced you reador if you did, recalleverything I wrote over the entire event.

The comment that Pode and Chapek went screaming from the building is a joke that is a callback to another joke used earlier in the BLOG that directly criticized the convention proper. (See the first full paragraph of Saturdays entry.) Callbacks are a very common element used in writing and other narrative forms and I use the technique now and then.

Additionally, all week long I had been very critical of the theaterin particular the size of the stage (as I was for the 2005 event). Couple that with the callback and you might better understand why I would make light of Pode and Chapek wanting to get away from that theater as fast as possible. (Like the dealers, perhaps they couldnt wait to exit the building.) My comment had nothing to do with their acts and, given what I did write about them, it should be impossible to come to that conclusion. After all, I was nothing but complimentary in my assessment of Ms. Podes fantastic act and my only criticism regarding Chapek had to do with people who are unaware of the history of that type of act. Unless, of course, you believe referring to his act as merely popular is being harsh. I hope not, so I urge you to read (or reread) everything I wrote.

Thanks,
Dustin

PS: Another clue that I was not harsh to Hatfield can be found in my candor throughout the BLOG. Given what I wrote about several other acts, including some with legendary status within the art, Hatfield would have been an easy target had I actually set my sights on him.
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Postby Guest » 07/04/07 11:07 PM

I can attest Dustin wasn't being harsh. I heard harsh and it was directed toward your guys.

Side note: I'm proud to announce the birth of five kittens. I am naming one of them Richard Kaufman.
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Postby Richard Kaufman » 07/05/07 08:07 AM

meow
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/05/07 12:37 PM

By Danny Archer:
As a producer of conventions, I enjoyed hearing everyones thoughts about the business of producing conventions...
I have another piece of advice for you Danny: STOP! Lifes too short! Its not worth it! You only end up with idiots on websites telling you how to run a convention!

:D
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Postby Guest » 07/05/07 04:23 PM

I meant 'wasn't directed toward your guys'.
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Postby Bill Wells » 07/06/07 04:50 PM

A few thoughts regarding magic conventions -

One of the greatest problems is that every magician thinks he (or she) knows how to produce a magic convention - unfortunately too many of them try to do so.

The biggest impact on conventions and particularly magic convention is the increasing cost of transportation and lodging - not only for those attending but on the talent budgets that are the core of these conventions.

Kenardo - Yes ... in many respects a magic convention must be run like a business - committee members should not only have convention experience but also be trained in hotel and theatre negotiation and should have expertise in dealing with unions, show production, etc. However in addition there must be certain techniques employed - some of them almost intangible in order to enhance the chances of real success. Such things as putting lay people in the front rows to give better reaction for the stage performers, the configuration of the event rooms, the running order of shows, attempting to "create spontaneity", and so forth.

Jon - There has been a "death rattle" for so long methinks the beast may never die. Trouble is that with the major organizations, the "powers that be" either change too often or are too political to engender any meaningful courses of action. Innovation is feared. The big ones are already too long and too filled with events yet the upcoming combined effort will be longer and have even more going on. I have always felt the best magic convention I ever attended was the late Rick Johnsson's "Super Session South" with only 24 attendees.

Opie - I don't know about the SAM, but the IBM endowment funds cannot be used for operational expenses. The endowment charter prohibits such use of the funds.

Rick - Not really something to be concerned about but Bill Pitts was IBM International President in 1978-79. Pete became a member of the IBM Convention Committee in 1983 and served on the committee until 1994.

Finally, I might offer that one of the primary reasons for the success of Stan's Magic Live! conventions and another great magic convention from the past that hasn't been mentioned - Joe Steven's Desert Magic Seminar - was that in both cases the chief producer surrounded himself with experienced talent and let them do the job - this includes extensive consultation with others and long range planning. Joe never allowed his ego to take over the convention and thus far neither has Stan. They both sought and listened to the ideas and concepts of others and both were not afraid to attempt bold innovation. Being private conventions eliminated organizational politics from rearing it's ugly head. Finally, the Las Vegas location of both these conventions was and is a big advantage.

Bill
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Postby Guest » 07/06/07 07:49 PM

I want to say the IBM guys taking care of the business end in Reno were great. I showed up late and had no idea what was going on and they not only tolerated me but found two suckers willing to sign me in for membership. I appreciate their hard work and kindness. The guy running the dealer room could have tried smiling though....
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Postby Dustin Stinett » 07/06/07 10:06 PM

Daniel probably smiled when everything was over. He worked his butt off all day and then blew off steam into the wee hours: In fact, as late as 4:00 a.m. I can personally attest to that since he had the room next to mine! :rolleyes:
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Postby Guest » 07/11/07 07:11 AM

"Opie - I don't know about the SAM, but the IBM endowment funds cannot be used for operational expenses. The endowment charter prohibits such use of the funds."

Yeah I know....The bills must be being paid out of one of these:

:genii:

I need to get all my kids one of those things...

opie
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Postby chris morrison » 07/15/07 09:57 AM

I was pretty disappointed in this year's IBM convention. I actually had low expectations to begin with and I still managed to walk away disappointed. Now that's pretty sad.

The overall bill was generally very "safe" and middle-of-the-road. That being said, I thought the Close-up show was the absolute highlight of the week. Being a resident of LA and a Castle member, I'm quite familiar with the acts of Daryl, Boris, Henry, Jon, etc., yet I still had a huge smile on my face after watching that collection of talent. Wish I could say the same for the evening stage shows.

Some of my concerns include...

1 - Do we really need to see the same performer on the evening shows more than once during a convention? Unless the artist is truly an original that is held in high esteem by fellow performers, let's limit the B-grade cruise ship acts to a maximum of one performance per convention. Better yet, maybe we should just rethink booking B-grade cruise ship acts for the likes of an international convention. We really don't need to see yet another box act on stage doing unoriginal tricks simply because the performer was able to purchase enough illusions to fill that 15 minute slot. Money does not equal entertainment.

2 - Do we really need a show/event that runs longer than 120 minutes? I was very encouraged after the first evening show when we were in and out of the theatre at the 90 min mark. I actually thought the show was pretty solid and it flowed very well. Unfortunately the stage shows only got worse as the week progressed.

3 - Considering all of the changes in the schedule, etc, communication between the IBM leaders and the attendees was basically awful. They attempted to publish a daily newsletter with updates but it was always a crap-shoot as to what time of day that piece of paper would be released. Some events began as early as 8am and yet the newsletter did not show up until after 10am on some days. It was a good idea but it didn't really help. And to top it off, the final day of the convention, you know - the morning after all of the contest winners were announced - no newsletter was ever published!! No announcement of the winners!! I was unable to sit thru the 3+ hours of show the night before so I was anxious to learn who won what the next morning. I finally approached an IBM official behind the registration desk to inquire as to the winners' names. He couldn't recall so I asked if the names were gonna be posted somewhere (in the newsletter? on the bulletin board next to the reg desk?) he told me that was a very good question and smiled and shrugged. Very helpful. You'd think the IBM would go out of their way to celebrate the newly crowned champs...not so. I felt embarrassed to be an IBM member. We should treat these talented contestants with more respect.

4 - And on a small side note...I was amazed that spectators that were late-comers to the Close-up contest's final round were still handed "peoples choice ballots" upon entering the room and allowed to cast a vote even though they may have missed one, two or even three of the five finalists. I know it's merely a people's choice award but still, we really need to treat these contestants with a bit more respect.

I could go on & on but I won't. Just had to vent a bit since I shelled out the cash for my registration, my hotel room, my gas to get there, etc. I did manage to catch a very good movie during my week in Reno ("Waitress") and I was 4 people away from landing an 8GB iPhone on day one of sales at a nearby AT&T store. So all that and a solid Close-up show and a few new books from the dealers room I guess made the trip worthwhile. Oh and spending a week in Yosemite on the way back to LA truly made life worth living. Mmmm - waterfalls and mountains...

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