IMPROV
I capped off the end of this year with a fun and busy season.  Many say that things are slow and business is down, but I think that I have merely chosen not to participate in any recession.  I performed about 30 shows over this 2 month period which is about one every other day.  Perhaps I am just lucky.  But I’ve always believed that we make our own luck.

One of the highlights this season was making my debut at the Addison IMPROV Comedy Club.  About 50 of my friends, family, clients and colleagues came out to see me that night.  It was nice to have many of them see me for the first time doing stand-up versus my strolling magic.  I received many compliments and I look forward to performing there again sometime. 

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Another highlight was performing at the Meyerson Symphony Hall in Dallas for Daryl Flood Mobility’s Christmas function.  The company was very generous in giving me a ticket to attend the Stories of Christmas production that was held that night.  It was very moving and well produced.  And I don’t think that the angels in Heaven could have performed more sweetly.

My new book BAMBOOZLERS was advertised in the November issue of MAGIC magazine and the December issue of the LINKING RING.  The book received a wonderful review in the December issue of MUM.  My friend Brian Brushwood gave the book a shout out by performing one of the effects for his video series called Scam School; watch the trick below called Penny Prediction.

This season is definitely my favorite time of year.  I always notice that strangers seem more outgoing and nice and there seems to be an air of generosity.  I wish everyone could be in that spirit all year long!  It’s always so nice to visit with family and friends and to catch up with folks.  I think I had about 10 get-togethers with loved ones, which means lots of gift giving and over-eating.  I’m sure that one of my New Year’s resolutions will be to lose some weight.

I am busy now scheduling shows, creating new routines, planning lecture tours for the coming year and 2010, and writing the sequels to my first two books.  I wish all of my readers a prosperous year ahead.  Plan on making things divine in 2009!

holding-python I returned from my tour of the west coast in early October (read more about it in my September blog below).  Upon my return I was surprised to find in the mailbox a nice hand-written letter from Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas from my performance for him almost one year ago. 

My sister Jodi, my nephew Lane and I attended the Hangman’s House of Horrors which is adjacent to the wonderful Fort Worth Costume & Magic Etc. owned by Derek Kennedy.  It was great to get some hang time with my sister and my nephew.  If you want to see an amazing selection of costume rentals, make-up, theatrical supplies, and magic effects then you’ve got to see this gi-normous shop!

I also had a big book release party for BAMBOOZLERS at the house with catered food, an amazing guitarist/singer Jimmy Barcus, Daryl from Snake Encounters, plus about fifty or more attendees.  We all had a blast but I always regret not being able to spend more time with each of the party-goers.  As a host you have to spread yourself thin.

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I’ve also performed lots of shows for clients this month like Dads in the Hood, Ferarri’s Restaurant in Grapevine, Carnival Cruise Lines, Combined Group, plus many other private parties.

I took out an ad for my new book in this month’s issue of MUM magazine which goes to all of the members of the Society of American Magicians.  Not only did they graciously put me on page one, but they also did a two-page spread on the book that features six of the routines from BAMBOOZLERS.  I’d like to thank John Moehring (the editor) for the nice surprise!!

I’m looking forward to the holidays and my busy schedule that lies ahead!

 


me-n-petetownshendFirst off, my new book BAMBOOZLERS is doing great.  I’ve sold over one-third of the first printing in one month’s time.  A full page ad for my book appeared in this month’s issue of GENII magazine.  I began the month by doing a private party at the City Club in downtown Dallas and to my surprise was lucky to meet and entertain Pete Townshend of The Who (seen on the left).  I did another show for Texas Instruments and performed my stage show once again for the McKinney Jaycees at the historic McKinney Performing Arts Center.  Then on the 19th I performed for the DSNews company and warmed up the crowd before REO Speedwagon took the stage. 

The next day I flew to LA and stayed with my good friend Brian Gillis.  That night I drove to Long Beach and gave a lecture.  That same night I went to the 705 Club in Redondo Beach and witnessed the blissful music of Andy Hill and Renee Safier. That night was a blur.  The next day I went to the Lobster Fest in San Pedro and truly got into the spirit of things and got burnt like a lobster.  The highlight there was seeing Pop Hadyn and my friends Brian & Sue work their magic, and partake once again of the incredible music of Andy Hill, Renee Safier and their band Hard Rain.  Andy & Renee are a feast for the ears and I recommend that you buy all of their CD’s immediately!

I couldn’t miss a chance to visit the Magic Castle in Hollywood while being so close so my friends and I attended one night and took in the shows of Shimshi, Chipper Lowell and Asi Wind who were all incredible.  I was pleasantly surprised by my chance encounter with Eric Amazing who’s magic blew me away and left my head spinning.  I’m hoping our paths cross again to witness more of Eric A.’s enigmatic personality.

My two week tour of the west coast then took me to Fresno, CA. where I performed at the headquarters of the largest magic online retailer Hocus Pocus.  Paul Gross, the owner, was super friendly and made me feel at home there.  Paul has one of the most impressive collections of horror and oddity memorabilia that I’ve ever seen.  I hope to return there one day to peruse his impressive warehouse of magic.

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From there I went onto San Jose and stayed with my friends John & Rosella Pantalis. They are a super sweet couple who enjoyed showing me the sites.  While in San Jose we dined in a very nice French restaurant and while in Santa Cruz, after touring the boardwalk, we dined at the popular Crow’s Nest.  

One of the highlights for me was finally touring the Winchester Mystery House.  Mrs. Winchester was a crazy rich old bat who hired a team of men to keep building onto the same house (seen on the left) 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for a total of 38 years so that the ghosts who were haunting her would relent.  

From there I went on to Las Vegas to lecture at the Denny & Lee studio and stayed with my good friend Chris Smith.  Chris Smith, a.k.a. MagicSmith puts out some of the best magic products on the market today.  Chris Smith showed me the awe inspiring Red Rock Park which is a beautiful site hidden only 10 minutes from the Vegas strip.  While in Vegas I returned to the Orleans casino and played a little blackjack and gave them back some of their money that I took from them on my last visit there.  From there I returned to California and lectured in Irvine, stayed a couple of days back in Redondo Beach to hang with my friends, and then moved on to lecture in Phoenix, Arizona and then again in Tucson. 

While in Tucgunfighter-diamondjim1son I was only one hour away from the historic town of Tombstone.  I couldn’t resist visiting the site and seeing where the gunfight at the O.K. Corral took place.  Although the town of Tombstone has burnt down 5 times, it has been rebuilt to look as it did in 1881 when Wyatt Earp was sheriff.  It was great to see the saloons, horse-drawn carriages, actors in period western wear, etc.  To the left you can see what I might have looked like had I lived in those times!  When in Rome!!

Not counting the miles I flew, I drove 2400 miles on my tour, made lots of money, made some great new friends, saw lots of interesting sites and experienced lots of firsts on this trip that I will not soon forget.

Where do I begin?  I’ve done many private shows, a family reunion, been to the IMPROV, saw lots of movies, had overnight guests in my home- like my cousins and the famous Mike Powers.  One gig was very unique when Robbins Bros., the engagement ring store, employed me to use my magic to help a couple get engaged; ask me about it sometime.  Another gig had me entertaining some of the student body at Texas Wesleyan University.  I worked the always fun Bailey butterfly release party and had a blast visiting with friends before and after.  I worked a trade show booth at the Gaylord Texan resort for E Solutions.  My new book BAMBOOZLERS arrived and has been selling like hotcakes!  See the promo video I made for the book below. 

I attended, worked and lectured at the Texas Association of Magicians convention in Fort Worth where I had a blast watching shows, learning new effects, hanging out with friends and taking people’s money!  My friends Steve Bryant, Andy Hickman and Dave Magee kept me in stitches most of the TAOM convention.  And the new movie MIRRORS released and someone finally uploaded the promo video created by JamesTown Productions that is being used all over the world.  Watch the video below to see me, Kiefer Sutherland, the director Alex Aja and learn more about the Mythology of Mirrors.

castle-lineup-2008I started off June by working several private parties, working for the Rough Riders Baseball Team and for a very swanky golf outting at the Rivercrest Country Club in Fort Worth. 

Then as I prepared for my out of town trip to California at the end of month I got a phone call from a production company in Hollywood who needed an expert in “mirror mythology” for a major motion picture.  The film is called MIRRORS and is a thriller starring Kiefer Sutherland and directed by the wonderful Alexandre Aja.  The movie is due out August 15th.  Look for my video interview online soon and on the bonus feature section of the DVD when it is released.  The shoot went well and the movie sounds to be very good.  I was glad to be a small part of it.

Once in California I hooked up with my good friends Brian Gillis and Sisuepahn.  Brian and Sue are amazing and I stayed at their fabulous Redondo Beach CastleIt was a pleasure to see them work their magic at the Trump National Golf Club.

This was my fourth time working the Castle, but my first time to lecture there.  The turn-out was good and the feedback was great.  See some footage from one show that week below.

While in California I toured Universal’s CityWalk and Universal Studios for a couple of days, walked up and down Hollywood Blvd. once again, and hung out with some friends/clients who flew out from Texas to see me.  They were treated to the wonderful restaurant inside the Magic Castle, the spectacular shows, and on the 4th of July we had dinner atop the hill above the Castle at the famous Yamashiro’s Restaurant.  The food was great and the view was just as good.  We counted over 10 fireworks shows from our vantage point on the hill overlooking all of Hollywood.

Plus, I got to hang out with my best friend in magic Jeff Davis.  When I was a teen-ager Jeff was the magician everyone was talking about.  Jeff was one of the first to send gigs my way and I’m glad we’ve kept in touch all these years.  It was great to visit with him, his wife Susan and their adorable daughter Molly.

castle2008While working the Castle this time I was excited to perform some new routines in the Parlour.  The feedback was great and the experience was wonderful.  I got to hang out with some of the biggest names in magic like The Pendragons, Sylvester the Jester, Goldfinger & Dove, Max Maven, Amos Levkovitch, etc.

To the left is a picture of (from left to right): John Carney, Tina Lenert, Myself, Mike Caveney, David Williamson and (below) David’s funny and talented friend Dan Satchoff.

   jim-as-sherlockI started off the month with a few private parties and then attended the Austin Magic Auction. I love going to Austin because it allows me to visit with my cousins Rodger & Alex.  I celebrated my 38th birthday in April and my magic was featured in MAGIC magazine and an interview in the UK’s ABRA magazine (click here).  While in town I did a few shows for the Rough Rider baseball team in Frisco, and I was all over the state of Texas performing in San Antonio, Longview and Sulphur Springs for various clients like State Farm Insurance.  But most of my time was spent preparing for my month long tour of Europe.london

The end of April I flew to the UK with my mother, aunt and grandfather.  We met up with family (The Woodleys) in Leeds and were treated to many British customs and venues.  From there I began my 15 city lecture tour.  My cousin Russell and I drove to Glasgow, Scotland for my lecture which I considered a success.  While there we also toured the town of Edinburgh and it’s infamous military Castle.  From there it was back Leeds and then onto Rhyl in North Wales (which was beautiful).  Then I went ontoScarborough, which I loved, and then onto Newcastle Upon Tyne.  I returned to Leeds to hang with family a little more and then drove onto Blackpool (home of the world’s largest magic convention) and home of the famous pick-pocket magician Mark Raffles. 

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Then I went onto Manchester where there was an influx of 40,000 travelers who were there to see the soccer match between Russia and Scotland.  Luckily I left the day before the Scots lost and vandalized the town of Manchester.  Then I went onto Liverpool (home of the Beatles), to Nottingham (home of Robin Hood), to Derby (pronounced DARBEE), to Bath (where I took the Magic Walking Tour- starring thefunny and talented Noel Brittan), to Cornwall (home of King Arthur), to Salisbury (where I stopped to see Stonehenge), to London (where I lectured at International Magic and the prestigious Magic Circle), to Surrey and onto Essex where I stayed with my cousin Adrian and his fiance Laura- and met her parents- The Anstees.

While in London I took a bus tour of the wonderful city, where the average speed limit is 10 miles per hour because 7 million people live there and 8 million people visit it every day.  I also toured the National Gallery, the British Museum (where I took in lots of Egyptian artifacts like the Rosetta Stone), the Sherlock Holmes Museum, and had dinner in Sherlock’s Pub and took the Jack The Ripper Tour.

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Then once my tour was over my wife Kathy joined me in Paris, France where we celebrated 20 years of being together and 16 married.  We stayed at the quaint Hotel Arcadie in Montparnasse which was conveniently located between three Metro stations.  We started off by spending the first day at the Louvre museum where we were overwhelmed by the buildings and corridors of hundreds of pieces of artwork and statues (like the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo).  The next day we took a bus tour of the city and stopped at Notre Damecathedral, the Champs Elysees, the Arc de Triomphe and (our favorite) the Musee D’Orsay where we stood in awe before the works of Monet, Manet, Van Gogh, Renoir, Rousseau, etc.  The next day we visited the beautiful Sacre Coeur and then went to the top of the Eiffel Tower.  That night we took a romantic champagne dinner cruise down the Seine and were treated to wonderful scenery, some culinary delights and a great live band.

Our heads were spinning the next day as we prepared to leave just thinking about all that we had taken in, especially myself who had been in Europe for 30 days and lived out of a suitcase since I stayed in 20 different cities.  The trip back was long and tiresome.  It was a very stressful day barely catching our train, our flight, and then the airlines lost our bags once we were home.  I was so tired I didn’t even care.  I was just glad to be home.  Luckily, our bags were later delivered to our doorstep.

I did the math and figured out that with my plane rides, train rides, bus rides, car rides and rental car drives that I traveled about 15,000 miles.  To see the path I drove across the UK click on my Google Map.  I’m sure the white or gray hairs will begin popping up anytime now.  Regardless, I cannot wait to return to Europe to take in more of it and to see all of my family there (that I now miss dearly).  Sometimes I have to pinch myself when I think how lucky I am that my job takes me to so many interesting places and how I am so fortunate to make a living doing what I love!!

gwlodgeTalk about March madness… this month my job took me to many interesting places around town.  A few of the highlights were an anniversary party at the new Great Wolf Lodge in Grapevine with an indoor water-park (seen to the left), the Dallas Arboretum, a wedding reception at Reflections in Plano, the UTD college campus, Jackson Pottery in Dallas, Bent Tree Bible in Carrollton, and the Hockaday School in Dallas where I warmed up the crowd before Dana Carvey went on stage.

In my spare time I’ve been hammering out the details for my European tour and helping my graphic artist to put the finishing touches on my new book due out this summer.  To preorder or learn more about my upcoming book BAMBOOZLERS click here.

2008z4Well I did 15 shows this month.  That’s one every other day.  I consider that to be a slow month and yet I feel super busy all of the time.  I guess because in my off time I create product, write, give lessons, work on new routines, book future shows, and work on my book project. 

Some of the highlights this month were my visit with Martin Gardner, attending Nathan Kranzo’s lecture and performing at the Texas Motor Speedway.  And I’ve been setting up a European lecture tour for the month of May. 

To reward myself I upgraded my car to the new 2008 Z4 Roadster.  I mention my car not to brag, but to show others that you can make a good living by doing what you love!  Follow your passion and the money will follow!

bamboozlerADLook for my second column in this month’s issue of Street Magic Magazine

I’ve done a few shows this month, but most of my time has been spent on finalizing things for my new book.  This project has been a labor of love for about 7 years.  The artist I hired recently took several pictures of my hands and is fast at work to make illustrations for all of the effects. This will be the most stylistic book of its kind when it is finished. 

The book will feature a collection of classic bar betchas, brain teasers, jokes, puzzles and magic tricks.  Most of the material has been collected from my 20 plus years of performing my magic in restaurants.  I forsee this to be volume one of a five book set.

The focus of the book is to show the reader how to do funny and amazing things with common everyday objects found in your home or in a restaurant.  The book will fit in your shirt pocket, have a black faux leather binding, have silver gilded edges, have a black ribbon marker, will be printed on a nice glossy paper stock and about 150 woodcut style drawings.  All in all there will be 75 effects and I expect it to run about 130 pages.  Plus, Martin Gardner was kind enough to write the foreword of the book.

Self-publishing is expensive but the only way to go in my mind.  Many clients and colleagues have suggested that I sell the books now to help override some of my upfront expenses.  The book will retail for $20.00.  I am offering the books for presale.  I expect the book to be out before the end of August 2008.  If you don’t want one for yourself then it might make an excellent gift for someone you know.