IBM Reno

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Dustin Stinett
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IBM Reno

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 28th, 2005, 2:10 am

Monday 6/27/05

As promised (?) Im going to try (?) to keep a nightly (?) BLOG of the events at the IBM Convention here at the Reno Hilton (?). Why the (?) for the Reno Hilton? Because I have learned from a local friend that the property has been sold and will be going through some major changes soon. I dont know if that has anything to do with the correctional facility or the mental institutionboth within very close proximityor not. But in the mean time, theyre going to bleed me dry with $1 local phone calls and an $11 a day Internet connection fee (the things I do for you folks).

Theres very little magic-wise to report. So skip this entry and wait until Tuesday night/Wednesday morning; unless you want to be regaled by my adventures thus far. If you are a hardy soul (or just bloomin crazy), then by all means read on.

Im here a day early because its a nine hour drive and I didnt want to feel rushed tomorrow. The drive up was still not without incident, and it was a test, even in my un-rushed mode. Besides the fun and frivolity that is driving through Los Angeles during the day, the trip up included a good-sized fire that had my northbound I-5 lanes slowed well down from the moment smoke could be seen and the southbound lanes (the side on which the fire was, though off the road) dead-solid stopped for miles. It was south of Stockton and all I could think of was; Nick, Heath, Jarrod! The barn is burning! (Well see just how old some of you out there are with that one. And no comments that it was just a smokin hot Audra up in the hayloft.)

Lunch was a hoot as well. I did the dreaded drive-thru thing; I ordered my semi-healthy chicken breast sandwichno cheese or spreadand of course I didnt check the bag and was on the road before I found out that my $3.50 chicken sandwich was a buck-ninety-nine burger with the works. Yum; just what I needed. Leo Getz is correct: They screw you at the drive-thru!

And then there was Nana (NANA was part of this womans vanity plate). I encountered Nana heading over the Donner Passyeah, that Donner Passon the eastbound I-80. Nana drove like a bat out of hell in her green mini-van; as long as she was going downhill. Whenever there was an uphill stretch, her vanloaded with grandkids and luggage inside and out (well, there was luggage inside and out; the grandkids were all inside)Nanas van slowed way down. My trusty Taurus was loaded down with me and my steamer-trunk (I always over-pack) but the cruise control kept us going along at a consistent 75 MPH clip. Then another downhill stretch would come and Nana would go bygive me a dirty lookand then cut me off; Im talking NASCAR close. This happened no less than four times; and maybe five. And it never mattered what lane I was in: she wanted it. I tell you, I think Im lucky that the only thing Nana was packin were those kids and all their gear. Going up to the summit, I left Nana in the dust; I lost sight of her completely. Until, that is, the downhill side. She flew by me like I was standing still. Go granny, go granny, go granny, go! I didnt see her again until I got into Reno properthe flat landswhere Nanas downhill-only van chugged along at about 50in the fast lane of course. Ah, theres nothing like a relaxing drive over the beautiful Donner Pass. I tell you, that place still has some bad Karma.

After my last misadventure in Las Vegas with the smoking room, when I made these reservations I made it abundantly clear that I HAD to have a non-smoking room (I told them for health reasons, which is not untrue; merely exaggerated), and that I would be checking in later in the evening. I was assured that I would have a non-smoking room with two double beds. So of course, upon my arrival, there were no non-smoking rooms. They are, of course, first come; first served. Perfectanother night, sleeping in my car, using a pair of fruit-of-the-looms for a pillowjust what I needed.

I overheard another agent say that there were a couple of unoccupied NS rooms. Okay, so whats the deal? Those are for people arriving tomorrow or Wednesday. (No kidding; thats what he said.) Well bummer for them. (Thats what I said.) You just said that it was first come; first served.

But they arrive tomorrow, and they are leaving on the first or second.

I swear to God I thought I was talking to Yogi Berra.

But Im here now. I check out the third; I was assured that Id get a non-smoking room. I made this reservation two months ago at least!

Yes; but that would be like trying to put a size nine into a size seven.

Thanks for clearing that up, Yogi. Hes damn lucky that he referenced shoe and not shirt size. Im the first guy to do fat jokesbut I was not in good humor at this point. Fire-related traffic jams, $3.50 grease-burgers and Nana had used it all up.

Were not allowed to change reservations; Ill have to have a manager look into this.

Fortunately the manager figured out that someone staying from Monday to Sunday was spending substantially more than someone staying from Tuesday to Friday (not to mention a bird in the hand and taking care of a customer, yata-yata-yata).

So here I am. Tomorrow I pick up my roommate at the airport. The upside of arriving the day before a roomie is that you get to choose the bed you want: closest to the bathroom, of course. Nothing is worse than having the bed furthest away from the can, and in the middle of the night, while in a half-asleep state, not really sure where you are, crawl into the first bed you come to and snuggle up to the person occupying it (thinking, of course, that its your spousenot that Ive ever done thatas far as you all know). I sure hope my roommate isnt reading this.

I spent some time down at the coffee shop and saw Dean Dill and Norm and Lupe Nielsen. There were other recognizable faces but I couldnt put names to them. The table behind me had someone doing magic, based on the applause I heard. Im at a magic convention. Its been quite a while for me (I dont count the Collectors Weekend or the History Conference as magic conventions). The last one was the last A-1 convention in Sacramento. I cannot even recall what year that was. This is my first ever IBM (I pretty much stuck to the regional and local events when I was a regular convention attendee back in the 80s). Im looking forward to this week. Tomorrow evening (Tuesdayso later tonight) is the official kickoff. Ill talk to you then.

Thanks for reading!
Dustin

PS: As with the last time I did this, I am going to keep this thread locked until this event ends, then I will open it up for questions, comments and harangues.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 29th, 2005, 3:57 am

Tuesday 6/28/05

Can any of you linguists out there tell me what language Please Do Not Disturb translates into Housekeeping: Please knock louder and then try opening said door so it slams into the latch with a nice loud thud!? Never mind: God bless their overworked-underpaid little hearts.

So, here I am at (use your best TV-News Captain Big-Voice tone) IBM: DAY ONE! Fraternity or Freak-show?

Of course, we all know what it is, but at least its not a Star Trek convention.

A quick word about the Reno Hilton (?): As gigantic as this place is, the architect had a clue: The convention facilities are fairly close to the room elevators, so you dont have to navigate through a maze of slot machines, blackjack tables and craps pits to get where you need to go. So, two thumbs up on that bit of good news: That almost makes up for the $1 local calls. Also, this place has a bunch of restaurants (you tell which is the cheapest by counting the number of magicians in it) and their little store carries Hostess Chocolate Donettes. These are not for me, mind you. However, this is certainly a major plus for my roommate: Happy as clam is he.

The convention registration opened without me as I was busy playing chauffer, but it apparently went off without a hitch given the large number of folks wandering about with their red, green or blue convention badges upon my return. The badge colors designate on which day that color group will visit Kalin and Jingers Magic Underground. I am in the red group, so I get to see (and subsequently report on) them on Friday. (If you cannot wait until then to learn more about Kalin and Jinger and Magic Underground, please see the January 2005 issue of Genii for an in depth article written by yours truly and great photos taken by Pete Biro.)

The first official event (open to all) was the Presidents Welcoming Evening. International President Tony Wilson greeted the registrants as they walked into a ballroom, accompanied by the dulcet tones of Michael Close on the electric piano. Later, Mr. Wilson introduced everyone in the roomoh wait, no, just a lot of dignitaries and officers of the IBM; it just felt like everyone in the room was introduced. Soon though, Michael Close was playing again and convincing me that I was going to purchase his CD, Im By Myself. Its the first time Id ever heard the man play. If you like jazz piano, I suspect that he sells his CD on his site. I will certainly be checking into it.

When the clock struck eight oclock p.m. there was a mad rush foryou guessed itthe dealers room and its official opening. As I am helping the Chief Genii a little bit, I got to get a neeto little ribbon to attach to my badge. That ribbon has powers (as do many other phallic symbols): it gets me into the dealers room before everyone else. I have no idea how significant that really is, but by jumps, I asked for it, so I got it!

The dealers room is quite large, and sports several tables where weary shoppers can catch their breath, rest their feet, and play with their new found treasures. I dont know how many sellers there are, but its a bunch. And even this early on, there was some good stuff happening. Marvyn Roy could be found at Mike Caveneys booth signing his new book, Mr. Electric - Unplugged. MagicBroadcast.com is broadcasting live from the roomthough Im not yet sure just what it is theyre broadcasting (Dealer Room Play-by-Play?), but they let me get off a heartfelt message to my pal Steve V. (who they swear was listening at the time). After I wandered the room and identified my personal destinations (high drool factor booths), I manned the Genii booth with Richard and I even made a sale! The mind boggles: is there no end to this mans talents?

Heres a shot of about one-quarter of the dealers room from just inside the entrance. I was in a bit of a hurry since I was on my way outnothing stands between me and a steak burrito from Chevysbut Ill try to get more tomorrow. So what do you suppose was this guys hurry? First person to email me a good caption wins a DVD to be named later.

The late-night lecture on this opening night (starting at 11 p.m.) was Michael Close. He gave the lecture that I attended a couple of months ago, but I still went tonight because when a great teacher speaks, you listen. And you listen again: And again if necessary, until his message sinks in. Reaffirmation is a wonderful thing. I also got me a CD of piano music: now I have something new for the ride home!

Here are some snaps of the lecture:

Here, Mr. Close demonstrates how he got to Reno.

No covert skill here and damn proud of it.

The Brains of the outfit: Lisa Close commits a flagrant act of capitalism.

Tomorrow the contests begin. Depending how well I sleep will determine whether or not I attend. But there is a full schedule tomorrow starting at (horrors) 8 a.m.

Are these people out of their minds?

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dustin Stinett » June 30th, 2005, 4:11 am

Wednesday 6/29/05

The first full day of the convention and I miss a third of it; I guess thats what I get for expecting housekeeping to wake me up. One day and they know my sleep habits better than several life-long friends.

When I finally ambled down to the dealers room, I had missed the stage contests. These actually started not at 8 a.m. as I thought, but at 7:30 A.M. in the morning!!! Thats just plain nuts. I heard some good reports, and the few names I heard were indeed announced as finalists later in the evening.

I missed the Collectors Meeting, which I did want to attend, and though I could have seen the last 15 minutes or so, I figured that even my charm and influence would not have been enough to get them to start over.

So the first thing I attended today was the Magic Seminar which wasnt really a completely appropriate title, but it was a great event nonetheless. First up was Lee Grabel who shared reminiscences and showed several clips from a DVD that chronicles his career. It was a terrific talk by a past master.

Next up was everyones second favorite electrician (everyones first favorite is Ben Franklin), Mr. Electric; Marvyn Roy. In a talk with Mike Caveney, Mr. Electric shared many comments about the state of magic, originality, and getting work as well as anecdotes from his storied career. Of course, the subject of his new book, Mr. Electric Unplugged, published by Caveneys Magic Words, came up a few times. I am looking forward to reading it; its a beautiful book. (Speaking of plugs, I think Ill toss one in here for Marvyn and Mike: The book is available now and can be found by visiting the Magic Words web site which is http://www.mcmagicwords.com/ )

Here are a couple of snaps from this great event:

The Great Lee Grabel next to some of his original posters, which are available for purchase. (I will look into and post the details on this for you.)

When Mr. Electric speaks, Mike Caveney, and everyone else, listens.

Can Grabel and Roy still pack em in? You bet they can!

After a visit to the dealers room, a meal, that included a great chat with Richard Kaufman, Joe M. Turner and Rick Merrill, it was time to go to the Premier Gala Show which was held (as are all the Galas) in the Hilton Theater which boasts one of the largest stages in the world. Now, I had heard about this stage from several people, butwell, mere words just do not convey the enormity of it (but of course I will try). When I first took my seat, which was about two-thirds of the way back from the stage (the theater holds about 2,000 people), I looked down on the stage and thought, It aint that big. I could see Mike Close, who was again playing piano, off to the side of the stage. Then they introduced the President of the IBM, Tony Wilson, and he took the stage: He looked like a GI Joe coming through the curtain (the old, big kind). That friggin stage isnt just big, its huge! Too huge, in my opinion, for a magic show of this type (at least for those of us in section D and back: everyone has assigned seats, and the theater is set up like a typical casino showroom). Those sitting in the first couple of sections might fair better, but thats it. And, since there is not 2,000 people at this convention, it appeared to me that they sprinkled the attendees throughout the theater to make it appear full. I think that it is ridiculous that they did not concentrate everyone up to the front sections. I had many empty seats around me and I heard from more than one person, including Richard Kaufman, that there were many empty seats in those front sections. Couple this with the gigantic stage and you have a double-whammy: The acts lose a lot of impact and the reactive sound from the dispersed audience isnt as powerful as it could be. This was evidenced by the fact that the announcer felt compelled to say, Cmon, lets hear it for Too bad, because it was a potentially very good show was just good. I feel sorry for those contestants come Friday night.

First to take the stage was Marvyn Roy, who was the very first act to take the stage at the opening of it (when the property was the MGM Grand). He waved to the appreciative crowd and slowly sunk into the stage. Goldfinger and Dove opened the show, and did their non-bird act. These two are still as smooth as ever.

Hank Moorehouse took to the stage and acted as emcee for the rest of the evening. After a finger ring (I guess) to stack of boxes, he introduced Les Arnold and Dazzle. These two are a hoot to watch, but even their fantastic act, which is Les doing classic magic while Dazzle gyrates around in hysterical fashion, had stage issues; their timing was clearly thrown off by how long it takes to get from center stage to the wings. Poor Dazzle must have been exhausted.

The next act was Dana Daniels and Luigi (the psychic parrot) and he was the hit of the night. At first he was given a dead microphone, so then they brought him a handheld, with no stand. Throughout his turn, the sound folks kept missing music cues and yet, through all of it, he was completely professional and very funny: a true pro. His second volunteer turned out to be an Asian man who spoke no English and even did a trick of his own once he made it to center stage. Daniels, seasoned by years of five-a-days at the Golden Horseshoe Review in Disneyland was in absolute top form and made this one of those I hope someone was taping that moments.

The beautiful Juliana Chen closed the show. Under normal circumstances, her very beautiful mask and card manipulation act would have proven a strong closer, but again, the enormity of the stage sapped the power out of the act. From where I was, the masks were difficult to see and the only reason I knew she was manipulating cards is because I know thats what she does. They could have been business cards for all I could see. Again, this is too bad, because hers is a superb act (as evidenced by many awards including FISM). So a strong lineup turned into an okay show only because of the venue. The length of the show was perfect, and I think most had a pretty good time; though some better (those up front) than others (those of us relegated to the back).

The final event of the evening was a chat with Milt Larsen who shared anecdotes about the roots, early history, and behind the scenes looks at some of the attractions at the Magic Castle. I did not stay for the entire chat, and as far as I know, hes still down there since he said he would stay as long as anyone had any questions.

I know what some of you are thinking. Theres another thread for that, so lets not go there, shall we? Thanks.

So thats it for the second day of the IBM National Convention. Thanks for hanging with me this far. The close-up competitions are tomorrow; this time at eight oclock. I really am going to try and be there for those at eight oclock in the morning.


HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Right! Like thats going to happen!

Talk to you later.

Dustin

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 1st, 2005, 1:56 am

Thursday 6/30/05

As I suspected, I couldnt drag my butt out of bed in time to see the preliminary close-up contest. So Im going to make no promises about the finals tomorrow morning, although they are at a more humane hour: 9 a.m. Theres a small chance that my eyes will have adjusted to the light by then. Because of my need for sleep after staying up all night typing this for you, I also missed the Steve Dacri lecture. (Of course, since you were not there, you missed these events too, but at least I told you what was happening, right?)

Today was the beginning of the Big Three events. The attendees (as noted above) have been divided into three groups and each will enjoy one of the Big Three (Kalin and Jingers Magic Underground; Feature Lectures; Close-up Performances) over the next three days. Today, my group was scheduled to see the Aldo Colombini and David Ginn lectures. I stayed for Aldos lecture; always a good idea as his stuff is always solid and he usually shares quite a few of his ideas on entertainment. Something Aldo is very good at.

The reason I didnt stay for the Ginn lecture is that I hate children. Well, no, thats not accurate. I hate performing for children. Thats because I cant perform for the little darlings. It simply is not among my skill-sets. I have tremendous respect for you folks out there who can entertain those adorable creatures. Better you than me. (But Ginn did have a heck of a deal on rubber chickensI bought two.)

The only thing scheduled for the afternoon was the Magic Circle High Tea. It sounded like a rave, but I wasnt really sure if I was invited, so I didnt even try.

The next scheduled event was the International Gala Show. Same theater, same issues. Tonights show opened with a wonderful (particularly after the tech crew got it in focus) slide montage of Jay Marshals life and career, accompanied by Mike Close on the piano; It was terrific. The montage was followed by Aye Jaye, who performed a card trick as explained by Jay on audiotape. It was another lovelyand humoroustribute to Jasper.

The opening act of this show was Valerie, who is from Sweden. She performed a quick-change act with magic interspersed throughout. Its a very unique act indeed; it would have been nice to see it.

The emcee for the night was introduced next and that was the very funny Steve Walker, a Brit who now resides in Australia. He did a stupendous job throughout the night; he was one of the highlights of the night, in my opinion.

FISM award winner Cyril Harvey was the next act and, while I suppose its possible this act plays well in a smaller venue, I thought it was just plain awful in this one. I didnt even realize that he was producing childrens tops until he was almost through. Now clearly this is not his fault, but there were aspects of this act that were his fault. I hope it was just an off night for this award winner. One of the people at my table walked out, saying he had seen enough. He left too soon.

Stan Allen (representing the U.S.) was next. He reintroduced himself to Michael Close, and then went into his act, the opening of which (the Gene Anderson Paper Tear) he had a little trouble with. Fortunately Mr. Anderson was on hand to come on stage and set him right. It was a terrific touch. It had been a long time since I had seen Stan do his act, so long in fact, that his bunny was named Stuart. Stuart is now called Killer, but he is still the adorable little bunny I always loved to see. I think its some of the best hand puppetry there is. The lascivious little guy comes to life, and even on that gigantic stage, his personality came all the way up to section D.

The ageless Johnny Lonn (Sweden) came out and did his outstanding comedy turn. It was a great act 30 years ago, and its a great act today. He proves that there is little funnier than dropping your pantseven if its not all the wayon stage.

Closing the show were Fukai and Kimka of Japan who did their spectacular parasol act. So far, this is the only straight magic act that has worked well in this room. Thats because their props are big and very visual. Being damn good helps too.

Once again, it was a well paced show. There were fewer technical issues, though the issue of the blurred pictures early in the tribute to Jay Marshall was a big shame. It was a touching piece, with lovely music that was initially obscured by cries of FOCUS! Too bad. Its also too bad that Ive had to say too bad two nights in a row.

The final event of the evening was a lecture by the aforementioned Cyril Harvey. I did not attend it: The jokes from Mike Close in the dealers room were much more interesting to me.

But now Im homesick.

Talk to you tomorrow.

Dustin

PS: Sorry, there will be no photos today as I am tired of walking around looking like a bigger dork than I already am.

PPS: I also appreciate all the kind comments that have found their way to me:; many thanks.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 2nd, 2005, 4:49 am

Friday 7/1/05

Well, I still do not know what the area off the elevators looks like early in the morning; everything was still a blur as I passed through. Thank God there was someone else in the elevator to push the Casino Floor button. The brisk walk to make it to the rooms where the Close-Up contest finals were being held (I had to get there before they locked me out) helped (sorta) clear things up. So yeah, I made it to the contest just for you. This was a BIG day, so lets just get on with it, shall we?

There were six finalist (from a pool of around thirty) competing. Lou Abbattielo, whose persona was a stereotypical Chicago hood, told us about how his Uncle Guido won $5,000 on a shell-like game using small steel cups. It was a nice turn, though it needs a little polish and some work on the pacing. (Oh, and Lou, lower the music a bit: I believe it should be much more subtle.) Lou has a clear understanding of how to use his personal attributes to his advantage, particularly when he created this character.

Ivan Amodei performed a wonderful set that was set around a billiards theme. Balls, a couple of cues (one large, produced for his opening and the other small) and a very nice thimble hunk, though the thimbles were cue tips. My favorite thing about this act was the fact the quite a bit of it is suitable for the real world.

Michael Bairefoot did a coin and card set that showed quite a bit of skill and everything was shaped into a themed routine revolving around classic plots. He seemed a little offperhaps a bit rushed(in my room, anyway), though it didnt cost him technically, it may have hurt him in the judging. He was one of the few performers who broke through the fourth wall and interacted with the people even when they werent part of the trick. I think thats an essential part of good close-up magic.

Rod Chow is Mr. Money (paper bills). He produced money, changed money, produced more money, some gold bars, and he produced more money including a cape of money. The only place I can imagine this act playing is at a contest. Unfortunately I cannot imagine it winning. Hes a personable performervery upbeat and happy to be thereI can imagine an audience enjoying this young man if he were doing straight magic.

Chow Man Chung performed to music a la Jean-Pierre Vallarino. In fact, Im pretty darn sure he did quite a bit of Vallarinos act. (It is published, so thats okay; but in a contest?) The good news is that he performed it very well, and he did have some of his own touches that were quite nice.

Perhaps the guy who shattered the fourth wall the most was Jason Michaels whose Renaissance Street Busker character was really wonderful. He performed a very nice cups and balls routine that just needs some sharpening. His character is solid and quite enjoyable to watch.

And the winners are:

The Obie (Peoples Choice Award) went to Chow Man Chung.

The Silver Medal went to Jason Michaels.

The Gold Medal went to Ivan Amodei.

(There was no Gold Cups winner this year.)

Congratulations to all of the winners.

I spent the rest of the morning and early afternoon in the Dealers Room hawking Genii until it was time to go to one of my favorite magic places on the planet: Kalin and Jingers Magic Underground. Three buses took the red-group downtown to the Pioneer Center where it is located. There have been a few changes since I was last there. The Close-Up room has been changed to a museum (Jaques Simard performs strolling magic now), and Bob Coups bar has really come into shape. The whole place is just terrific. And of course the show is spectacular. I must say I was a bit disappointed in some of the magicians in the room who seemed to be sitting on their hands throughout the show, but they apparently were saving it up for the end, as the Kalins and their small troupe received a well deserved standing ovation. (If you want to learn more about the show itself, see the January 2005 issue of Genii. If you dont have that issue, click here and buy one!) I asked several people what they thought, and everyone liked it; many loved it; and a few, like me, thinks it might be the best magic show they have ever seen.

A short rest before a great dinner (at the Steak House here at the Hilton; marvelous food and service) with the Chief Genii and then we were back to the Dealers room lassoing new subscribers. I think Im getting the hang of it: It helps when you ask nicely; Ill remember that.

Before we knew it, it was time to zip off to the Theater From Hell (have I mentioned that this stage is too freakin big for a magic show yet?) to see the Gold Medal Competition & Show. Rich Bloch acted as emcee and did a fine job indeed. The first half of the show was the moment weve all (?) been waiting for; the stage competition.

The first act was Farrah Siegal. A very young lady with a very polished variety act that is mostly juggling (though not in the classic sense, as she has yo-yos and, well, all kinds of cool stuff), but that cost her in this competition I think. However, this bright young star might consider doing something I got from two very talented performers in regard to her act: remove a little bit of the magic (keep the dancing batons and the linking hula-hoops, but thats it) and stick with her strengths which dazzled the audience. This is a great variety turn, and this youngster is only 16!

Im sorry, but Kelvin Chun needs a lot of work. His production act (spring bouquets and parasols) is very uneven and his quick-costume changes arent. I kept wondering, if this guy was the sixth best act, just how awful were the other twenty-something acts? The only good thing I can say is that this young man had the guts to step out onto that enormous stage, in front of that big audience, and just do it. I hope he learned a great deal from his experience.

John Big Daddy Cool Pyka (BDC) was the victim of one of the tech-gremlins that inevitably sneak into these types of things. His microphone damn near left everyone with bleeding ears. To his credit, he handled it like a pro and kept going (John has a theater background, so he was speaking to the back of the room) while the backstage crew got him a new mic. BDC is another act with potential. He has a very well developed character who sings swing tunes as he does his magic. Its all themed together well. I think he needs to have a professional stage director help tighten it up a bit, but hes on the right track.

Wan Pei-Jan mixed card manipulations in with a ladies man character piece that could really use the help of pair of qualified eyes to help clarify just what it is he is trying to say with this act. There is a bit too much dead timeand on that stage it is magnifiedwhich leads to audience confusion. He has some raw skill, and again, the courage of some of these young people like him is something to behold.

Wow: Arthur Trace has an act that is ready to hit the road (or high seas) right now. His is a billiard ball and card manipulation act and that is all Im going to say since I think you will have many opportunities to see this young man in the future.

If spiked hair could win a magic contest, Dan Sperry wins hands down. From where I sat, his costume and makeup was reminiscent of Edward Scissorhands while his dove act was a little reminiscent of Steve Frewins. Again, its an act that needs to have the rough edges smoothed out, but a lot of folks in the audience enjoyed this young man, and I think it might be because he seemed to be having a lot of fun up there, regardless of the few glitches he experinced. Im sure it was a tremendous learning experience for him.

The show went to intermission so the judges could go off and deliberate. Upon our return, Rich Bloch opened the second half of the show with one of the greatest mentalism pieces I have ever seen. Boy, I would have liked to have been a fly on the wall when he was working out this one.

Before the winners of the competitions were announced (the close-up contest winners were also announced during this show), Bloch introduced The MUMs (Mind Under Matter). This trio is a bizarre mix of the Flying Karamasov Brothers, Cirque du Soliel, The Blue Man Group and A Clockwork Orange. They juggled, produced birds, juggled, produced more birds, banged drums (while juggling), and juggled some more. I love a really great juggling act; it would have been really great had one been booked for this show.

The announcement of the winners closed the show. I could shoot myself for not writing down the Junior Close-Up winners: I promise to hunt those down tomorrow (as well as the Second Place Junior Stage winner; the First Place winner was on the bill tonighthint-hint).

The First Place winner for Junior Stage was Miss Farrah Siegal. Roger Dreyer and his company, Fantasma Magic, will be sponsoring a trip for her to either (her choice) Las Vegas or New York to perform and I believe compete in another contest.

Second Place for the stage competition went to Dan Sperry.

First Place and the Peoples Choice award went to Arthur Trace, as did the coveted Gold Medal (which, like the Gold Cups, is not always awarded). He is a most deserving winner: His act is astounding.

A few hundred of the 1,000 or so attendees (there is simply no way to tell how many there really are given the way the organizers spread the audience out in the showroom to make it appear full; though the IBM is saying that there are about 1,200) dashed off to the Dealers Room while some, I assume, went to see the late lecture by Hank Moorehouse. Business in the room has been a mixed bag. Some of the dealers are saying that they are doing well while others are saying its so-so. There has been zero buzz about any trick in particular, at least not audibly. Perhaps everyone is trying to keep the particular mini-wallet trick that Paul Green is already sold out of to themselves: I dont know. Pauls a regular here on the Forum, seek him out and ask whats so great about this great little routine (or, Paul, go ahead and drop a post into the Marketplace).

Ill post some snaps I have of the Close-Up contestants later today. (I almost said tomorrow; it is tomorrow. In fact, it feels like the day after tomorrow.) But right now, you can put a fork in me: Im done; bushed; tired; whipped; wiped; all in; plum wore out; finis.

Talk to you later.

Dustin

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 2nd, 2005, 5:21 pm

Pictures, pictures, more pictures.

Just a quick update with links to the snaps of the Close-Up contestants and the Dealers Room.

I tried to get portraits of all the contestants, but was unable to get them all. The in Action snaps arent the best, but thats because we couldnt use the flash and I have a PhD in photography: Push Here Dummy.

Enjoy:

Chow Man Chung in action

Ivan Amodei in action

Ivan Amodei (Gold Medalist for Close-Up!)

Jason Michaels in action (Silver Medalist)

Lou Abbattielo in action

Lou My Uncle Guido Abbattielo

Michael Bairefoot in action

Michael I Love Judges Bairefoot

Rod Chow in action

Rod Mr. Money Chow

Dealers Room Views (These were taken a few days ago):

The Rest/Session Area

Looking back toward the entrance (in the corner). This is about a quarter of the Dealers Room.

Norm Nielsen

Paul Green wearing a blue shirt. Whoda thought.

MagicBroadcast.com on the air. Hello? Is this thing on? Hello?

The Chief Genii receiving a gift from Doty. You havent lived until you have received a gift from Doty!

The Chief Genii again. The first person to name the two other gentlemen with Richard will win a DVD (title to be determined).

Speaking of contests: Theres still time to enter into the Caption this photo contest. Where is THIS guy going (or why is he in such a hurry)??? The prize is a DVD (title to be determined).

Ill be back later.................

PS: I couldnt get the names of the Junior winners (except for Farrah), so hopefully someone else who was here can fill in those gaps for me. Thanks!

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 3rd, 2005, 4:06 am

Saturday 7/2/05

Thats a wrap!

The Genii booth has been struck. The Chief Genii is packed and ready for the SAM convention in Boston (I am not going, so no BLOG from me). Its over: Thank God.

My day started with a chat with Carl Ballantine, moderated by Steve Dacri. After a viewing of some of Ballantines soon to be released DVD, Dacri and the old vaudevillian began their question and answer piece, which was funny and informative. Then Ballantine took questions from the audience, and then wrapped up the day (I have a plane to catch) by signing autographs and allowing photos.

Carl Ballantine taking questions from Steve Dacri

Ballantine signs and signs and signs

The one and only Carl Ballantine: Id smile for ya, but I forgot my teeth.

The Close-up show (my last Big Three Event) was next. Bar magician Frank Zak opened, performing very solid magic. Like all good bar magicians, his stuff is direct and easy to follow: my favorite kind.

Isnt there some kind of law against bartenders serving water?

Rick Merrill brought down the house with his award-winning act (which can be done for layman, but for magic conventions, he uses a magicians only presentation). This act using coins and Sharpie pens must be seen to be believed. Everyone leapt from their seats to give him a well-deserved standing ovation. Look out FISM; here he comes.

Not only is Rick Merrill a superb magician and a very funny guy, but he also graduated high school at the top of his class!

Paul Green followed, and had several magicians who have not seen him lecture in the past scratching their heads after his Jeopardy piece and his remarkable classic force.

Ill take He Did it Again for $1,000 Alex. And the answer is: Paul Green. Who has the best classic force on the planet?

Young Nathan Gibson (another award winner) came in and fried his share of minds with his skillful card and coin work. Just what my ego needs: another kid younger than my socks who can perform circles around guys like me.

Talented, skilled, entertaining, rotten little brat. Doesnt he have school or something? I gotta go practice.

Stave Dacri closed the show, but not before he brought the star of the show for half his set, 9-year old Kyra, up to the table. Dacri had a wonderful time with this precocious little gal who had some great lines, including a moment when, after Dacri commented that something he did was not very magical, she replied, Well; nnnoooooo. (You had to be there.) And remember folks; milk is very valuable! Frankly, I think I would have left her there for the whole set. But hey, Dacri wouldnt have been able to use the line Well talk later, after receiving an affirmative answer from another (adult) young lady, to the question, Would you like $100? Im sorry, and maybe its just me, but I dont think implying that a young lady is a whore is a great way to garner a laugh.

Can the mighty Steve Dacri be bested by a 9-year old?

Because I knew most of the Dealers would be packing up, I made one last rummage through the Dealers Room and made a couple of sellers (and me) very happy. About this time there was supposed to be an Autographs with the Stars session in the Dealers Room. They had the tables set up, and the fans showed up. Too bad no one told the stars to show up. Carl Ballantine filled in for all of them. For me, it was off to dinner with a very fine group of folks at a very fine restaurant. (The Steak House again: Actually, we keep going back there because its just so horrible.)

We made it to the theater in time for the Closing Gala Show. Too bad no one who attended the Gala Banquet did. Because that event ran long, the show had to be delayed about fifteen minutes. I think it was more like a half-hour, but that just meant that we got to listen to Michael Close on the keyboard a little longer. (I have been very remiss in not mentioning this fact, but Close entertained the room each night with exceptional pre-show music. Hes pretty good, you know.) After one last tune from Close (who, as it turned out, could take a request, even if for a few notes), the show opened with a video presentation of moments when Milt Larsen performed a real tablecloth yank on television, in the movies, or even at the Castle. Then the curtain parted and there stood Milt, table loaded with glassware and utensils, ready for a live demonstration. Though meant to be a joke, his resultant disaster was an omen of a few things to come. Milt acted as the emcee for the rest of the evening.

Opening the show was Jorgos Katsoros who performed and interesting act that features magnifying glasses. Unfortunately there were moments when I had absolutely no idea what it was he was doing; he was just too far away. I have little doubt that whatever it was, it was great. Ive heard a lot of good things about this act. Its finishwhich I will not tipis wonderful.

Milt introduced himself and his Carpenter Act. With all due respect to Milt, with the show starting as late as it did, he could haveand frankly should havebowed out on this one. Given the length of his act, and the amount of time it takes to strike the resultant mess, skipping this act would have brought the show back on schedule and I doubt anybody would have felt cheated.

The lovely and petite Tina Lenert performed her latest act next, which features a white scarf with a life of its own, a fine two-ring linking ring routine and a bunny. Fortunately hers is a very visual act (a large white scarf and large rings with a black set), so it played well.

Mike Caveney followed his lovely wife with his terrific act. The talking acts in this room tended to score the best, and Mike didnt miss his opportunity. Of the many lines tossed out by performers this week regarding the venue, Caveney had the best. He asked if Mike Close was at his keyboard, to which Close answered in the affirmative. Oh: I just cant see you over there because of the curvature of the Earth. He then scored well with his Hoop/Coffee Mug juggle; the William Tell card revelation; and his famous scissors through coat.

After an intermission, The Pendragons closed the show, and the convention, with a good size chunk of their full show (about 45 minutes or so). For me, it was an opportunity to see pieces I had never seen and others I have seen many times, but never tire of seeing.

Too bad they couldnt get started.

Scene: The curtain rises, revealing Jonathan Pendragon, holding a flaming torch, kneeling in front of a small cage.

And he stayed there; looking down at the flaming torch.

And he stayed there.

And he stayed there: Until he finally said, Theres a music cue there.

Curtain down.

Do over!!!

Then the show got underway; again. Charlotte was produced from the cage and they were off and running. They did the Clear Sawing and a few other pieces, including his fine four-ring linking ring routine, and they were only interrupted once by Milt talking backstage with his mic on. Yep; theres nothin like pro-fessional show-biz; you betcha. But, Jonathan and Char persevered. The highlight for me was his Cyrano de Bergerac card routine (Thrust home!) and, of course, their always incredible Metamorphosis, which closed the show; a mere three hours after it was supposed to have started. Through no fault of any of the performers, by the time Milt got to the stage to say goodnight, a large chunk of the audience had already fled the room. Not that they had anywhere to go.

By the time we made it back to the Dealers room, I would say at least half of the sellers were already gone, and most of the rest were packing up. They did reorganize the Autographs with the Stars and some even showed up. There was also a Strolling Olympics type of event that was held in the area where the tables were, but I was too busy helping Richard close up shop. Besides, I had to get up here where I could set to banging out this report. What can I say? Its a labor of love (really).

So, was the 2005 IBM Greatest Annual Magic Convention on Earth great? No. Was it bad? No. It was fun, frustrating, tiring, trying, and best of all, we got to see Jinger! (Oh, and that Kalin guy as well.)

Thanks for sticking with me through all this. You folks are great. The thread is now unlocked for your questions and comments.

Dustin

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Jerry Harrell » July 3rd, 2005, 5:06 am

Many many thanks Dustin. A lot of time and energy went into your reports. For those of us who couldn't attend, your blogs were the next best thing, and your efforts are really appreciated.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Tabman » July 3rd, 2005, 10:25 am

I looked forward to your reports daily, Dustin. Thanks for taking the time to do all that, very enjoyable.

Could you sum up your impressions of the convention overall when you get a chance in a few days???

-=tabman

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby mrgoat » July 3rd, 2005, 10:52 am

It was great Mr S. Thank you very much.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Steve V » July 3rd, 2005, 10:54 am

Thanks and well done Dustin....you be..da man!
Steve V <---Dustins fan
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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Jeremy Greystoke » July 3rd, 2005, 11:27 am

Many thanks for the reports and the photos, Dustin. They're much appreciated!

I'm always amazed at the people who can file such wonderfully detailed reports from the front lines. I'm barely able to scribble a few lines on postcards during conventions or vacations, so to be able to read such involved reporting is a delight.

Once again, many thanks!

Jeremy

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Earle Oakes » July 3rd, 2005, 3:55 pm

Dustin,
Many, many thanks for the coverage and photos of IBM Reno.

The two gentlemen in the photo with Richard are
Howie Schwartzman and Gordon Bean?

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Earle Oakes » July 3rd, 2005, 4:06 pm

Sorry for the double posting.

The gentleman rushing out of the dealers room
caption. "If I hurry I should be able to just make SAM in Boston."

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Guest » July 3rd, 2005, 7:41 pm

Great updates!!! Enjoyed them very much..

Ken Scott

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby John Lovick » July 3rd, 2005, 8:08 pm

The two guys in the photo: Howie Schwarzman and Steve Ehlers?

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 4th, 2005, 12:20 am

Howie Schwarzman is one of the men. (He's the easy one.)

So far the other guesses are incorrect (and yes, the second magician in the picture is well-known.

Keep guessing! (But NO calling Howie!)

Dustin

PS: Yes, Tabman, I will try to do a summary, but ight now I have to decompress. It was a long drive home.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Richard Hatch » July 4th, 2005, 12:38 am

Howie and John McLaughlin?
Really enjoyed the posts, Dustin, regardless of whether the guess is correct! Thanks!

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dustin Stinett » July 4th, 2005, 1:05 am

We have a winner!!!

Yes, that's John McLaughlin; former Deputy Director of the CIA. (And I'll hazard a guess, Dick, that he's a customer, yes?)

We'll have to discuss your prize, but not tonight--I'm bushed.

Dustin

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Guest » July 4th, 2005, 4:47 am

Originally posted by DustinStinett:
and best of all, we got to see [b]Jinger! [/b]
Worth the trip alone :)

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Richard Hatch » July 4th, 2005, 8:33 am

Originally posted by DustinStinett:
Yes, that's John McLaughlin; former Deputy Director of the CIA. (And I'll hazard a guess, Dick, that he's a customer, yes?)
Sorry, Dustin, that's confidential! I could tell you but then I'd have to...

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Richard Hatch » July 4th, 2005, 9:26 am

Not as topical a caption as Earle's, but how about:

"According to [insert favorite dealer name here], if I vibrate at the resonant frequency I should be able to walk right through that wall..."

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Guest » July 4th, 2005, 1:21 pm

Here's my suggested caption:
"I've got my Raven, my Bite Coin, Balducci Levitation video, and Frozen Fly! Now, if I can just find someone to do the Fly for before it defrosts..." --Asrah

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Ryan Matney » July 4th, 2005, 6:36 pm

Caption:

"Learning that the Skeptics convention was next week, this unknown goes elsewhere to try out his new impression of Bigfoot."

"Dustin Captures rare photographic evidence that proves the exsistence of "The Blurred Wonder", magic's most secret underground card man."

"Hey, Erdnase!! Wait!"
Get the Dirty Work - Available now at http://www.ryanmatneymagic.com

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby themaestro » July 4th, 2005, 11:05 pm

Caption: "I sure hope I'm not late for the closing Gala Show."

Nowlin

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Rene Clement » July 5th, 2005, 4:26 am

Caption for the blur guy passing the booth with the magic tees..
"Damn, I've been in the dealer room an hour now and haven't yet taken a shirt!"

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby MaxNY » July 5th, 2005, 4:56 am

Dead Mics,card tricks for 2000, sounds like a magic convention to me! OK everybody, time to pack it up and head east, see you in Boston!

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Joe M. Turner » July 5th, 2005, 8:19 am

Contest report clarification...

In the IBM close-up contest, there are no medals awarded. Acts are awarded first place, second place, people's choice, and if the judges decide to award it, one act may receive the Gold Cups. This year, the Gold Cups were not awarded.

In the IBM stage contest, the same structure holds true. First and second places are named, a people's choice is named, and if the judges decide to award it, then a Gold Medal is named. This year, Arthur Trace received the Gold Medal.

In the standard "Olympic" paradigm, first place equals gold, second equals silver, etc. Most people would interpret placing second with a "silver medal," for example. Since the IBM has a special Gold Medal, however, I thought it prudent to note that no medals are awarded to close-up contestants.

I understand the SAM has several additional medals and awards that are occasionally presented in addition to the honor of placing first or second.

JMT

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby KirkG » July 5th, 2005, 9:08 am

Hey how about we all chip in and buy Dustin a pair of opera glasses as a thank you for writing this all up for us?

Kikr

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Christopher Starr » July 5th, 2005, 9:58 am

Enjoyed the blog. Thanks Dustin!

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dan Magyari » July 5th, 2005, 10:32 am

Dustin, thank you for summarizing so well your convention experiences. After reading your "blog" on the convention, a friend and I decided to come up for the last day on Saturday (as we both had to work during the bulk of the convention). We thought we would hang out for the "hallway sessioning" and spend some money in the Dealer Room.

Unfortunately, there was no sessioning to be seen, perhaps this is a reflection of the IBM - I'd never been to a convention before where sessioning isn't going on all the time (and especially not at all). And, bewildering to us both, we were not allowed to spend our money in the Dealers' Room (query whether the dealers were aware of folks being turned away at the door). I did check with the registration desk to see if we could get in to the Dealers' Room only - and, they answered NO. We both would have paid a reasonable entrance fee to the Dealers' Room, but no, the answer was NO.

So, my apologies to all of the Dealers that lost out on purchases from us both - we did travel all the way to Reno to spend our money with you. I guess, maybe, I should thank the IBM intelligentsia for saving me $400-500 in purchases I might have made - so, yes, thank you to the IBM.

And, as you may have guessed, I may have considered for a brief moment joining the IBM (for the magazine) - I would not do so now as their actions probably reflect the way they do everything. I know, I know - my loss. Maybe, maybe not.

One thing saved our brief jaunt to Reno - Kalin and Jinger at the Magic Underground - awesome show - highly recommended.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Steve Hook » July 5th, 2005, 10:50 am

Originally posted by Dan Magyari:
We thought we would ... spend some money in the Dealer Room...And, bewildering to us both, we were not allowed to spend our money in the Dealers' Room (query whether the dealers were aware of folks being turned away at the door). I did check with the registration desk to see if we could get in to the Dealers' Room only - and, they answered NO. We both would have paid a reasonable entrance fee to the Dealers' Room, but no, the answer was NO.
Isn't admission to the Dealer Room traditionally a perk / feature of having paid the admission fee to the convention?

Do most / any conventions traditionally have a "entrance fee to the Dealers' Room"?

Maybe it's not fair to single out the IBM as being unreasonable and unfair.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Pete Biro » July 5th, 2005, 11:00 am

I, personally, think anyone should be allowed in the dealer room. If the dealers were in charge I'm sure they would agree. After all, in their magic shops at home, customers are what keep the doors open.
Stay tooned.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Tom Dobrowolski » July 5th, 2005, 11:08 am

Originally posted by Steve Hook:
Originally posted by Dan Magyari:
[b] We thought we would ... spend some money in the Dealer Room...And, bewildering to us both, we were not allowed to spend our money in the Dealers' Room (query whether the dealers were aware of folks being turned away at the door). I did check with the registration desk to see if we could get in to the Dealers' Room only - and, they answered NO. We both would have paid a reasonable entrance fee to the Dealers' Room, but no, the answer was NO.
Isn't admission to the Dealer Room traditionally a perk / feature of having paid the admission fee to the convention?

Do most / any conventions traditionally have a "entrance fee to the Dealers' Room"?

Maybe it's not fair to single out the IBM as being unreasonable and unfair. [/b]
A couple of years ago a friend and I drove up to the SAM convention in Milwaukee for a day and were able to pay a fee just to get in the dealers room. Also Abbott's Get- Together has a fee for just getting into the dealers room.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Richard Hatch » July 5th, 2005, 11:09 am

Danny Archer and Robert Allen's excellent LVMI and MINDvention events have an "open door" dealer room policy: non-registrants are welcome as well as registrants. I think most dealers welcome the additional potential revenue and perhaps some of those who intend to go only to the dealer room reconsider and end up registering for the registrant only events. But this is the exception, rather than the rule. For most magic conventions, you must register and show your badge to gain entrance to the dealer room. This policy should not discourage anyone from joining the IBM, a great organization with an excellent monthly magazine.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Rene Clement » July 5th, 2005, 12:20 pm

How can we forget the SAM convention in New York in 2000. David Blaine showed up with Darryl Hannah to walk around the dealer room. As many attendees grabbed cameras and pens to collect autographs and have their picture taken with the stars, David and Hannah were turned away at the dealer room door.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Dan Magyari » July 5th, 2005, 12:27 pm

My friend and I would have gladly paid an entrance fee just for the Dealers Room. However, the IBM was very clear that we were not going to get in. Personally, I feel that it is very short-sighted on the part of IBM to have such a policy, and as a dealer I would be bit miffed by such a policy. We're talking about a "magic dealers' room" here folks - I would bet money that most of the dealers present at the IBM would welcome all customers, whether they had paid a registration fee for the whole convention or not (and it was the last two hours the Dealers' Room was open for the convention). As my friend and I contemplated what to do with the rest of our afternoon until Kalin and Jinger's show, we saw many forlorn faces leaving the Dealers' Room and empty handed no less (very few bags leaving the Dealers' Room at this point in the convention).

Oh well, instead of creating goodwill for a couple of magicians unable to make it to the Convention, the IBM just left a sour taste in my mouth.

I am looking forward to attending other conventions in the future, but not any IBM-sponsored events. I know, who cares, well I did.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Steve Bryant » July 5th, 2005, 12:46 pm

The SAM refused to let David Blaine and Daryl Hannah into their Dealer's Room a few years back. You might not want to join that club either. It's hard for me to think of anything I would deny Daryl Hannah.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Bob Farmer » July 5th, 2005, 1:56 pm

David Blaine was barred because only magicians are allowed in the dealers room.

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Re: IBM Reno

Postby Tom Dobrowolski » July 5th, 2005, 2:12 pm

Arthur Tracz is not only a great stage performer but also a talented close up worker and a nice guy. It's great to see him doing so well.

Congratulations Arthur.


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