Friday, February 16, 2007

Quote du Jour

“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race”

- Calvin Coolidge

Collage du Jour • A work in progress

Here's the latest collage I've been working on. Click the pics to enlarge.

Thoughts from the end of a week

The sun shines through the the thick palm trees, as a classic American muscle car rumbles by. I talked to my father yesterday for an hour. It was a good talk. We talked about Polly, Buster, business, life and leisure. It's been so nice lately, today it's supposed to hit 84 degrees!

Work has been good, the City Walk is picking up a bit. The other night there was a concert in the Gibson Amphitheater and that brought an extra 6000 people. Chad said his event will bring 3-4000 people for the WWE, today and tomorrow.

My shows have been good, as I continue to strive to improve the connection between me and my audience. I've been paying special attention to timing, humor, character and technique. I feel that there's been a lot of growth in the last six months as I've had to overcome the challenges of getting used to LA Audiences. It hasn't been easy. I've often maintained that you don't meet too many conceited street performers. The reason is. . . we're used to getting our teeth kicked in every night. On the street, if someone doesn't like your act, they leave. . . with their whole family, leaving a big gap in the circle. There is no audience but the one that I build. They're only as good as I am and, I am committed to sharing with them a few minutes of mystery, fun and a celebration of life. When it clicks, it's magic. I'm such a junkie for that look on someone's face when their mouth drops. Last night, a 9 year old kid shocked the audience by saying "What the fuck!"

It's such a great thing that we do. To go out night after night and make people happy with our magic. . . . what a gift. Making the world a better place, one smile at a time. That's my mission statement.

I had an interesting discussion with a dynamic performer named Flat Top. The few times I had walked by, while he was performing, I had to stop, I was drawn in by his energy. He was dancing and singing and doing mime and entertaining. I asked him later what he calls that sort of act. He said, "Interactive Entertainment". The couple of times we've chatted he had very trippy dippy advice, but I really dug what he was saying.

He talked about the flow of energy from the performer to the crowd and flows of energy from the crowd to the performer and around the circle. He plays loud bizarre music and really knows how to work a crowd.

Another time he told me that he wanted to be so good, that even ignorant people got it. That's heavy. He talked about the varying levels good you have to be. If the audience isn't very good, the performer has to be that much better. If the audience is great, there will also be an, on the fly, shift in performing energy.

This isn't something that is learned in a book. This is where the rubber meets the road no matter where you perform. It's what it's all about. Get my drift?

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Thursday, February 15, 2007

Dumb Ass du Jour

In my "In Box"

Hello Tom,

I am glad to see that things have worked out for you in California, You have always been a cornerstone to the magic community and been a well respected performer among all of us who uphold the art of Ledgerdemain. I had a good time performing as a street performer at the Pike Place Market but I want to do so much more. I do not only want to improve on a better magic show and perform in other places but also have opportunities to Perform the Sonny and Cher Tribute Show. I do have a Cher who will do the gigs with me. I am thinking of coming to Los Angeles to visit and see what possibilities there are to perform. My friend thank you for the influence that you have been to me and the encouragement you have given to me. May the Perfoming Arts continue to be good to you.

Your friend in Magic

Gary Olinger

Venice Beach Reflections

Venice Beach Reflections, originally uploaded by J.H.C..


Another Day. . . Another Dollar

What a week so far. . . . for Polly. She's been getting up every morning this week between 3 and 4 AM. Her call times have been between 4:30 - 5:30AM. They've been shooting on location this week, so that means an even longer commute than normal. Then she works a 12-16 hour day, comes home, has a glass of wine, then goes to sleep and does it again the next day. I don't know how she does it, and keep a smile on her face.

I, on the other hand, take Monday and Tuesdays off and for the rest of the week I work the City Walk either 6-10PM or 12-5PM on the weekends. I enjoy taking long walks on the beach or in the mountains. For the last 2 weeks we've been taking care of Polly's best friend Kirsten's, dog. He's a 4 year old Australian Shepherd named Ace.

Yesterday I took him for another hike in the Burbank foothills of the Vurdugo Mountains. It's a 20 minute drive from the house, but a real nice hike for man or beast.

On these walks, I smoke my cigar and listen to my brainwashing podcasts. Things like the Accidential Creative, Zig Ziglar, or Creative Screen Writing. I fill my mind with inspiring thoughts and information as I take in the beautiful sunny views in mid February and mid 70's temperatures.

Ace really enjoyed the opportunity to run loose for a couple of hours. Our house has a nice backyard with a gated front yard so, he can have the run of the joint at home. But he was really digg'en long sprints up and down hills. Kirsten who also works in the industry as a film loader and camera second, is shooting a pilot in Albuquerque. She'll be back in a week to pick up her dog.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day!, originally uploaded by peggy..


Yesterday started with two teeth being ripped out of my face. It took me an hour and a half to go 18 miles down the 405. I jumped off the freeway at Sepulveda and took that to Wilshire Blvd. Left on Westwood, Right on Le Conte and there I was at the UCLA School of Dentistry, where Gilda, a young post graduate dental student with an eye on orthodontia was ready with dangerous looking tools in hand, to remove the teeth in question, an upper and lower back.

I went home for a while, got a call from Chad Rees (a buddy from Seattle) who is in town working an event at the City Walk this weekend for the WWE. I picked him up in Hollywood at his hotel and we decided to go to the beach. Off to Santa Monica on a windy but sunny day. We walked to the end of the pier, then to the Promenade where I showed him Magicopolis. After that we dined at Hooters and stared at large breasts as we ate Buffalo wings and curly fries.

With cards in hand we discussed the art of magic and potentially shooting some video today and tomorrow. Chad has four, three chip cameras at his disposal and we might set up a makeshift studio in my living room. Who knows what will come of it. . . something. . . maybe nothing.

When Bob Sheets was in town we discussed the process of producing DVD's and marketing them to the magic community. My feelings are changing on the subject and the time might be right to release something to the public. Who knows? Stranger things have happened.

In my "In Box"

Hi Tom, my name is Brandon Beauchesne I've been doing magic for a little over three years. You sold me one of my first few effects back in Seattle. I was just wondering why the shop closed and what you are up to these days. Now that I am more serious about magic I really wish I would have came to the shop to see all the magicians and jam with you guys. I keep seeing your videos pop up on the forums and just realized that I really missed out. will there ever be another real magic shop?

-Brandon Beauchesne

P.S. Pike Place Magic is terrible

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

STORY SEMINAR AGENDA • Sounds Interesting


The writer and the art of story
The decline of story in contemporary film, television, theatre and literature
Story design: the meaning of story, the substance of story, the limitations and inspirations of story structure and genre, the debate between character versus story design.
Premise Idea, Counter Idea, Controlling Idea
Story Structure: beat, scene, sequence, act, story
Mapping the Story universe: Archplot, Miniplot, Antiplot
Shaping the source of story energy and creation


Act design: the great sweep and body of story
The first major story event (the inciting incident)
Scene design in Story: turning points, emotional dynamics, setup/payoff, the nature of choice
Ordering and linking scenes
Exposition: dramatizing your characters, the story setting, creating back story
The principles of antagonism
Crisis, climax and resolution


Putting the elements of story together
The principles of character dimension and design
The text: description, dialogue, and poetics
The spectrum of story genres
Story adaptations
Scene analysis: text and sub-text; design through dialogue versus design through action
The writer's method: working from the inside out; the creative process from inspiration to final draft.
How it all works: the principles of the previous 2-1/2 days applied in a 6-hour, scene-by-scene screening and analysis of Casablanca

Monday, February 12, 2007


Fridays adventure over cocktails and cards

I arrived at Aaron Fisher's place around 2PM, his buddy Alex had just driven down from northern California to go with us to the Rat Dog concert in San Diego. All we had to do was pick Billy Goodwin up at the Magic Castle and hit the road. It was a nice drive south and traffic wasn't too fucked on the 5 on this particular Friday afternoon. Okay, so maybe it was. . . but I certainly didn't notice it as I was stuck in a car with top flight card men.

As it happened, Mr. Goodwin was the only one of us smart enough to purchase his ticket in advance. The rest of us thought we would be able to pick up a ticket at the show. We pull into downtown San Diego and parked in a treacherous garage across the street from the House of Blues.

We were there a couple of hours early so we thought cocktails would be a good place to start. A packed bar with a Dead Cover Band duo lured us in. Drinks all around and lucky enough to find a sidewalk table outside. Aaron and Alex went in search of tickets while Billy and I took out our deck of cards. I don't know Billy all that well. I think it was at little get together in Buffalo called "52" where I met him, saw his lecture and realized that he is a gifted card man. It's not just his skill in executing, but his talent in constructing is right up there with Vernon, Dingle or Jennings. I don't think I'm overstating things when I say that. Also, he's a funny guy. He's funnier that he knows and that's a good characteristic as well.

We had a real good talk about card magic and he fried me with an old incomplete faro control. Ahh this was starting out to be one hell of a night I could just tell.

The evening got weird. Mr. Goodwin entered the establishment leaving the rest of us to get in as much trouble as we pleased. It could have been worse I guess. . . . a lot worse. . . as Tuijauna was on the table for discussion at one point. But calmer heads prevailed.

I got to say this, I don't have enough nice things to say about San Diego. What a fuck'en town that is! We were at the heart of the pulse of a Friday Night Downtown in San Diego. . . baby.

The nightlife, the restaurants, the pussy. . . all off the hook, I guess you might say.

We ended up in this cool Mexican Restaurant with classic live music. A festive place for shots of tequila over some grub. I then witnessed a profound performance. After some introductory chit chat with the outrageously good looking little bimbo's at the next table Aaron goes in for the kill. He pulls out his money clip and pages through some one dollar bills. He has the girls look at the bills and touch them. In an instant without a flash they're all now hundred dollar bills! The chicks flipped, as I did. Hell there must be 4,5,6 hundred dollars. He then had the girls look at the bills and see if they were real. And in another magical moment they were all ones again. His acting and nonchalance through the whole thing was great. For a moment in time, there was a lot excitement because we decided to give some pieces of paper value at all, now, because there were hundreds of dollars involved, somehow things had changed. The way men and women alike looked at Aaron at that moment was based on some zeros on the end of a bill in his hands. As he returned to his seat there was a strange sense that we had all been had, by our worst fears of greed in our selves. It was a strong display of magic, wonder and resentment.