Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wisdom----I married into it.

A friend once told me that knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
I have a wise wife. A few months ago when I told here that our markets for our company are 70% outside of California she said we are like fishermen who live on a mountain and commute down to the ocean to work. That wisdom is the main reason we decided to move the family and company to Kentucky. It puts us in the middle of the ocean for where we fish.

But further wisdom came today when after I went over our plans and goals for this year she realized we would be on the road for most of the year and that less than a month after moving to KY we would be commuting back for a month of shows in California. She once again bestowed me with her wisdom. It would be a waste of money to go out there then come back so quickly leaving the house there empty but paying for it and the house here empty and paying for it. Not to mention the gas and travel expenses going back and forth. So in a quick yet wise move we have decided to postpone our move until May. From then we will live on the road until October when we will start to re-look for a house. I say re-look because we have to give up the house we have been planning on moving into. However, it may still be on the market in October if you take a look at the economy.

Imagine the thousands of dollars we will save. Still we will have to live in this state which is near bankruptcy, is morally dead, and crime is on the rise. Not to mention the hwy patrol act as tax collectors for the state and gasoline prices are off the charts. Makes May look nice.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Jim's trip to GA

GA day 1.Not too eventful at all actually. I spent very little relaxation time while in the airports. It was rus from one to the other with one stop at a pizza hut express for a buffalo chicken pizza (which was delish by the way).Now I sit in the plane awaiting my fate at Atlanta. Arrival at te hotel meant taking a rather decent trip by shuttle to the hotel Marriot. Here through the automatic revolving doors I stayed on the fourth floor and I crashed there for the night after some inspection of the hotel and two pieces of Ika Sushi. (delish by the way, the man making the sushi was from Japan but living within the United States for the past 25 years.)
GA day 2Vaughn and I wake up at some time after about 9 or so and we go check out the hotel together. When we realized that there was literally no one ther from the fair association and that there would not be any registration until 2pm, we decided to grab some lunch at a McDonalds. The walk from the hotel to the food was apporx 2 miles and filled with nothing worthwhile to remark about other than a Coca Cola Bottling plant. We returned to the hotel at about 1:30 in the afternnon and went to the registration desk and grabbed out papers. Charles Inman was the secratary at the reg. Desk. Oh! I did learn something new about Georgia that I had heard about before. Georgia is famous for peanuts. The dinner auction was tonight and this was the first major event in which I would have to meet a whole slew of people. The task was simple enough, all I had to do was balance junk on my face,, dance and shuffle baout cutely, and make some people laugh. Here in Georgia, unlike any other state I have been to, there was an absolutely homely feel to the people here. I could look people in the eye and have conversations with them unlike anything I could have in a place like california with a stranger. Undoubtedly, you get into a conversation with someone down there, you are bound to hear portions of thier life story. I was at a table with a group of amusement groups and one group that gave camel rides at fairs. But rarely was I ever at the table long enough to sustain any type of proper conversation. [one important thing to note about how I talk to people and get thier attention: I comment profusely on the clothing and hairstyles of the people. I look for originality in clothing and hair that is commendable and then remark up on it, and with that I have struck up a conversation and eventually this conversation spreads around entire tables until I have met everyone in the building. if this originality does not exist at a table, then I resort to balancing somethign in their vicinity until I get some eye contact and BAM it's done. It's a good thing I love to talk to people, but after a convention I get to a point where I need a moment of silence in a blue moon. So that auction, I was able to sit and walk around balancing chairs and tables on my face while also joking around wirth some people in such ways. For instance, one man and I were joking about me actaully being clark kent and superman. With every time I used the restroom and came back, this very same mane would come by and joke about the auction and how they have called out and JIm Kent has won something and all I would have to do is lift my hand to get it. (an absolutely terrible idea at an auction) My only difficulty at these events is getting all the names and faces straight with thier fair association and groups. Honestly, I do not recall all the fiars I have tlaked to, but I can tell you most of the names of everyone I talked to that night at the dinner. Richard, richard, rick, ray, kevin , kevin, bobby, bobby, jim, jim, jim, clara, etc.. When the dinner was done, everyone scattered like cockraoches in the light, not a soul was to be seen of these fairs after the dinner. Vaughn and I retired later that night after making a couple of sweeps of the hotel for other fairs around.
GA Day 3Breakfast buffet, nothing is quite as sweet as hearing those words fall out of the sky. I was the "california noob" to the southern traditions. Here at our table, the georgia state fair people, vaughn and I chit chatted a bit about everything. I balanced a chair and a spoon and fork on my face. Well, it came to a point where the ga state fair rep that was at our table asked me if I had tried any grit, and I have not. So I was sent to try the succulent grits that were made that morning. This was not instant grits, this was straight up legit grits home made and prepared at the hotel. I grabbed a medium sized bowl of it not realizing that it would hit me like a ton of bricks in about 2 minutes after eating it. The sudden fullness of my stomach and my comment upon it made everyone giggle, apparently I was the only one there that really didn't know about grits. I ran into the man who was severely joking with me the night before and there were more commetns strews about each other and the whole table was up in arms with happiness. Immediately following the breakfast, the assiciates went to their meetings and we went to the trade shwo room to complete the setting up of our booth until lunch time came around. During the set up, I managed to put a table up onto my face and impress the heck out of everyone there. But ultimately, I really only balance things on my face because of the exileration it brings and the joy it brings others. Lunch was a simply delightful event. There is a breed of people that I can get along with rather immediately, there is a group dynamic that exists where I can flourish. It typically has one charming but hilarious man who says the most random things ever, there is the one who gets made fun of, but has prestige about him, and then there is the others who comments without saying a word and lastly, there is the comfotable "normal" people around the table as well. This combination is perfect for me. And at lunch, I managed to grab a table with a fair group that I would eventually talk to in a business sense. I eventually places a plate, cup, fork, knife, chair, and tray on my face for these people. Ant to top it all off, I did the traditional floating spoon trick with my napkin and spoon. When we had all eaten, charles inman decided to let all the entertainment give a bit of a word about thier act. I was the 3rd from last to go up there, and for good reason. I searched the hallways when I heard about the talk I had to give, and I grabbed the medium sized bench that was in the hallway. Upon coming up to the stage, charles inman gave a quick witted remark about me and then I grabbed rthe mike and sat on my bench. Befoer I was able to say a word, the table I was sitting at all stood up and clapped and laughed loudly, to which I responded with an I love you too, a brush of the hair and a wink. I gave a quick synopsis of our show and then closed out with a big shocker, I lifted the large bench up to my chin and impressed the pants off of the crowd. After that, I was known as the guy who balanced stuff on his face and wore the red scarf. [if I ever decide to write a biography, i just might have to name it "The man with the red scarf who never shut up]With lunch done and the humorist undertaker finishing his routine for the convention, I headed out to the trade show and began "Struttin my stuff." For the first two hours of the tradeshow, it has been busy. Vaugh and I talked about everthing to everyone. Every once in a while I would go outside of the tradesow hall and balanced stuff on my face while vaughn remained inside for the groups that might possibly come thorrough there and want to talk. According to the announcement at lunch, the trade show ran from 2 to 4 instead of the 2 to 6 that the signs outside said. apparently there was a typo in the program and the trade show really only lasts until 4pm. IN all honesty, there was nothin goin when 4 o'clock came around, I would flutter about at that time and try to get everything from anybody there, but it was no use, most of the fairs had already headed out and went to dinner. None of them would come back until later that evening where there were supposedly parties. But even then, I saw more fairs head to their private rooms to sleep than anything else. I walked the halls of the hotel, all of them to find a party somewhere but my search was in vain. There was ABSOLUTELY NOTHING going on in the way of fairs going to rooms. I am going to assume that those parties are relly only held on saturday night after a couple of drinks. Then again, this place had not scheduled a president's party at all, which begs the question, are these people really partiers at all anyway. But after fuitless search and conversation, I did manage to find one room, entirely on accident, that was on the top floor with a glorious view of the entire city below. It was gorgeous beyond all measure and means. AH!, I am a sucker for midnight landscapes and music in the background. But it would be there I would stay for a little bit and have a bit of meditation time, some time to think about life and what I was doing with it. Needless to say the moment was picturesque.I got to the room weary after talking with one more fair board member on the way through the elevators.
GA day 4Exaustion can be a terrible thing, as Helen Inman pointed out to me at the convention "Do you ever stop moving" and my response was "no" I would beg to say that I walk at least 15 miles through the corridors, pacing about, looking for people and such. needless to say I got up and with much frustration tried to acquire my tickets from the little terminals in the front office area with no success repeatedly. Other than this wondrous mishap, I got to the airport after some chit chatting with some fair board members at the hotel and made my weary way back to california waiting on news from the committees.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Daily Practice ---- Jim in Atlanta

Winter is a time of preparation. The kids today, and everyday, practice their new routines in prepartion for the 2011 season.
Jim is in Atlanta Marketing the show at the Geaorgia fair Convention.

I have been on the computer and phones marketing and booking the shows.
Fun day!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Magic Castle Trip Details

Magic Castle A week ago my good Friend JC Dunn, a fabulously fun magician and a great friend, and I went on our yearly pilgrimage to the Magic Castle. The Magic Castle is technically a private magician's club. The club is open to the public by invitation from a member then you pay a cover charge and a dinner purchase requirement. It started back in the sixties when it was strictly and only a magician's nightclub. The unique thing about the club is that they have several rooms where various types of magic are performed. For example, there is the close-up gallery, the parlour room where stand-up magic is performed and the Palace of Mystery where stage shows are performed. My busy schedule makes going to the Castle difficult. So for the past three years JC and I have been making a trip there in late January or on the first weekend in February. This year it was mid-January because of our busy preparations for our move to Kentucky. Every year we've seemed to go through a difficulty or two in the process of getting there. For example, the first year we went I had suffered a major back spasm the day before we left. Though walking was nearly impossible I would not cancel the trip. I drive every year and I must admit I am blessed with a very comfortable seat in my van. So the 500 mile drive with a bad back wasn't that bad. Still, after arriving I had a Dickens of a time moving around. I was out of pain pills and as anyone knows who have had major back spasms the pain only increases until the third day then it wanes. We arrived that first year in the late afternoon and after settling into the hotel we walked over to the castle. It was a tough walk but the excitement of my first trip to the Magic Mecca the adrenalin alone was enough to get me there, though slowly. I knew the seats in the little theaters and showrooms were going to be rough on me, not to mention the stairs that are all over the place at the castle: it is an old Victorian. I wasn't a drinker but it was suggested to me that a drink an hour might relax the muscles and kill the pain. So I had a Martini. It was a very smooth martini and it did relax the muscles and kill the pain. The next hour I had another martini. But it was made by a different bartender and it was horrible. Enough to make me cringe. I drank it for the medicinal effects though. When the next hour came I decided to try a different drink. So I ordered”Kentucky bourbon". The Bartender revealed my ignorance as a drinker by telling me, "all bourbon is from Kentucky". I admitted to him I knew nothing of drinks. Then I asked him which was the best bourbon. He told me it was Maker's Mark. It smelled really tasty; it has a spicy oaky rich smell. I let JC smell it and he agreed it smelled really good for an alcoholic drink (neither one of us were drinkers). We were chatting with a number of people around us and in turn they all sniffed my drink. OK, maybe that was weird. From that point on Bourbon would be my medication. Oh, one point I should make. If you start off with a high-end bourbon, you can never have the low end stuff (sorry Jim Beam). The next year, last year, my back was in great shape but poor JC was suffering a pretty nasty cold and suffered arterial fibrillation. But his medication saved his life. No one likes to travel with a head full of mucus but there was no way he was going to miss our trip. I think short of being strapped to a bed in a hospital I think it would be pretty difficult to keep us from our yearly pilgrimage. In spite of the cold, we managed three days down there and even got the Griffith Observatory and a trip to JC's old neighborhood as well as a drive around Beverly Hills. This year was our easiest. Neither one of us had any ailments or infirmities. The drive was very smooth and uneventful. The visit to the Castle was likewise generally uneventful. We met some old friends and made some new ones. We saw some good shows and a couple of not so good shows but all in all it was nice. Each year we meet people either one or both of us had never met. Last year, among others, we met Tippy Hedron (from "The Birds") and Tony Curtis. I met for the first time Milt Larsen, the man who turned the old Victorian into the Castle, and Ron Wilson, an old Scottish gent and a founding member of the Castle. I am of Scottish descent and because of that Ron and I hit it off right away. In fact, we had a jolly time making jest with Milt and JC since they are both from Irish descent. He taught me a saying, "A wee droch an doris." It basically means "One for the road." Sadly I promptly forgot it...that's my memory for you. I also re-acquainted with Jack Goldfinger who had become the entertainment director of the castle since I met him last over 18 years ago in Japan. He was performing at a convention in Tokyo back in 92. Sadly we would loose Ron Wilson and Tony Curtis in 2010. R.I.P. This year the only new people I met was Fielding West, a comedy magician out of Vegas. I did get a chance to chat with Goldfinger and with Milt Larsen a bit. In fact, Milt would sing the whole song, "A Wee Droech and Doris" for me in memory of my fellow Scot, Ron. Milt is a producer of stage shows and was once a writer for television. He also made a cameo in "Bed Knobs and Broomsticks" long time ago. The performances at the castle this time, though good, weren't as great as they were the past years. Maybe the fact that I was not buzzed with "medicine" while there might have affected my views. Still the general population (non magicians) seemed really entertained. I must also confess that recently I have been spending a lot of time worrying about out big move to Kentucky. (I seem to fret about things a lot. The week before we leave on a big tour I am a worrywart mess.... I worry about the possibility of things going wrong, about the preparations, about the clients, about the weather, about the money...especially the money, and anything else you can think of.) I really shouldn't worry. After all I am a Christian and I belief with all my heart the we are in God's hands so when I worry I think I am taking things into my own hands instead of trusting in God! While in SoCal for our Magic Castle experience we try to mix in other activities to make the trip a little more interesting. For example the first year we hit Hollywood Blvd, Hollywood Magic, and one of JC's favorite lunch places. Last year it was Griffith Observatory as I mentioned above and visitations to his old haunts. This year we hit the LA Zoo. I had just visited the SF zoo with my girls and was disappointed with how much the SF zoo has changed over the years. No elephants, no hippos, and a shrinking population of other animals. I was told by a zoo employee that the animal rights activists have really hurt the zoo. It's amazing. I was told that because of the activists pressures they had to move the elephants to a special sanctuary. On the way there they all died. Thank you PETA! But the LA Zoo was so much better. Bigger, better, more animals. What a great place for kids to come and learn about the animals and learn to respect the animals. How many zoologists will come about because of these zoos? We did have dinner at the castle on Sunday night. It was spectacular. The prime rib was tender and very tasty. Their au juice was a bit sweet; seems they had nutmeg and cinnamon in it. But outside that the meal was great. In fact, there was too much for me to eat. On Monday we went to Shintaro Sushi. You would think a sushi shop in a small strip mall off Hollywood bid would be a bit raunchy. But once you enter the doors you step into a very classy place and forget what was on the other side of the doors. It was nice to introduce new things to JC. He's had sushi before but I did introduce him to uni (Sea Urchin). Most people have a hard time eating it. It has a strong flavor and it has a very slippery texture. But JC loved it. Anyone that can get past the texture will enjoy a sweet light sea flavor. We also had something neither one of us had before. Live scallop sushi. Grant it, it was dead by the time it was served to us, but just dead. The whole presentation was outstanding and pretty. The meat of the scallop was fabulous. Oh, I almost forgot an incident at the Castle. Near the end of the night, just before we went into the close-up room to see the very entertaining David Minkin, I had my first drink of the night. In honor of the late Ron Wilson, I ordered a Droech and a Dra (a draught and a dram...a beer and whisky). I had a Guniess Ale and a Maker's Mark. My food had well since moved down the digestion track and the alcohol went directly into my blood stream. While in line for the close-up room, as the alcohol, started to kick in , I performed a few magic tricks and the human block head stunt for the audience. By the time we entered the room everyone in the audience new who I was. I am not sure what set me off but I started to have a giggle attack. As we all took our seats in the close-up room various people in the audience found it great fun to keep me in that giggle state. JC was getting embarrassed by me so he ordered another bourbon for me. Bad idea! I was struggling to get composure when the drink came and just as I took a sip someone made a crack and I sprayed the sip on the people sitting in front of me. (It was only a sip). That sobered me fast. The people weren't angry (they were participating in keeping me giggling anyways.) Still will power one over the moment and beat the booze. I was fully sober in spite of the additional bourbon. Crazy. I managed to not drink all night. It was in that last hour in a tribute toast that got

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Magic Castle - LA Trip 2011

Once a year my very good friend, JC Dunn, and I head down to southland, L.A., more specifically Hollywood, to visit the Magic Castle. It's a private magician's club that the public may attend if they get a pass from a magician. They have to pay a cover charge and have dinner there to be able to come in. Members and their escorted guests don't have a cover charge nor do they have to buy dinner. However, the food there is incredible. We ate there on Sunday night. The prime rib was fantastic. The truffle dusted french fries were "wow"! Monday we dined at Shintaro Sushi near our hotel. We sushi-ed out! It too was pretty darn good.

Our drive started at 5:20 AM from northern California. We dropped my daughter and her friend at the airport (they were returning to college). It was along the way so it took no time off our travel to SoCal. We made it in near record time without once speeding...not even a little.

We were exhausted and took a cat nap then dressed and headed for the Castle. Sadly the entertainment wasn't the greatest the first night. It wasn't terrible. Most of the audience seem to really enjoy the shows. So I am thinking that the exhaustion of the day and the recent stress of preparing for our big move and the heavy duty marketing we are doing right now, might have played a role in making the entertainment seem not as fun as it had been in the past for me. But I did have a good time and the last act we caught was fantastic.

Since the castle is a night spot we spent Monday afternoon at the LA Zoo. If you recall, I took my girls to the SF Zoo a month or so ago. I have to say, the LA Zoo outshines the SF Zoo in every way. For one thing they had elephants and hippos at the LA Zoo and none at SF.

The layout and larger number of animals was better too. In spite of it being winter and a Monday the zoo was pretty busy.
JC does magic for some kids at the zoo.

Monkey Kiss.

This Gorilla came down and put his face right up to the plex right in front of me. I went nose to nose with the big guy. The reflection in the picture kills the awesomeness of it all.

Monday at the Castle was much better than Sunday. The acts were much better.

I was invited on stage to assist Les Arnold, the guest illusionist at the Castle. In the big trick I got to pick a card. His assistant, Dazzle, would then try to find the card by shooting it. First with a hand gun, then with a bazooka, then with a tank. The tank then vanished. I got the t-shirt int he picture. When he gave it to me it was the three of hearts....but my card was the 2 of hearts. Magically one heart vanished and that makes the saying on the front of the shirt meaningful.
It was a good night.