Monday, March 12, 2007

Fulfilling expectations? Bah! Overrated!

Participation, participation, participation. Keys to the kingdom.

I wrote this on Saturday morning, prior to heading to the Expo (it'll make sense in a minute):

I got up at 6:00 this morning to go to the Chicagoland Kid's Expo where I'll be manning a booth with 2 magician acquaintances, pitching our shows to families from all over, well, Chicagoland. Last year there were 10,000 attendees, so there is a lot of potential. I spent all this week before and after work (and sometimes during lunch) working on promotional and marketing materials: a party tips newsletter, a raffle entry form, a coupon, a "book it now" discount form, show descriptions, etc. None of the sexy fun stuff, but all the important business stuff. And I enjoyed this"business" work more than I thought I would.

The thing I'm most excited about is the opportunity to sell my magic to 10,000 people for two days. Regardless of the outcome, this is a great opportunity to practice having conversations about people hiring me to perform. Practice, practice, practice. THEN the key will be to take my share of the leads and market intelligently to them. Hot damn. The game is afoot.

That was written on Saturday morning. So how did it go?

Good. Really good, actually. Would say minorly great, but not fantastic. Got a number of leads (fewer than I thought we would), made a good number of contacts (more than I expected) and just got to practice being in the business frame of mind and taking action correlate to that. I felt very competent, confident and up to the task. All those years of thinking, reading and absorbing the business side of show business paid off. Despite the general lack of practice in the "business."

The biggest lesson, though, was that things are generally not going to go as I expect. Especially early on. We had too much material to hand out (which is better than too little), there was less traffic than I thought, the kids were generally younger than I expected, the presentations didn't go as I imagined, and the people I was working with didn't behave the way I thought they should. Pretty much everything, to some extent, didn't follow the plan I outlined in my head.

However, it still went great. Lots was produced and I'm definitely glad I did it.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Save the Earth my ass

Just got an email from a friend asking me to go the Al Gore’s website and sign a petition that he will present to Congress when he testifies on the climate crisis on March 21st. (The website is:

I went to the website and signed my name, but that’s not my point. The email subject was “The Next Step to Save Our Earth.” While I think we should continue to take action to change the direction we as a society and culture are moving, I think part of the problem with the climate comes from us believing that we can save the Earth.

I don't believe the earth needs us to save it. It'll be fine long after we're gone. Different, but fine. Just as it's always been. However, if we plan to stick around, then something needs to be done. Acting like "stewards" of the Earth rather than guests has gotten us into the problem in the first place.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

No fanfare

Not talking about the long time lapse or making any declarations. Just blogging.

Kicked ass yesterday at the office talent show with this crazy, involved, multi-cast member juggling routine. I may post the video here. I realized after the show that when I have a bad performance, I tend to make it mean I don't have talent, rather than owning my talent and just figuring out what didn't work about the set.

On a related note, last week I worked as a craps dealer at a birthday party for 2 hours. Made some cash, but more importantly, I remembered/relearned that I am in fact entertaining and good at what I do. (Just like what I relearned after the juggling performance yesterday.) Everybody had a great time, learned to play craps and I got a number of compliments. In fact, the hostess liked me so much she tipped me quite well. I sell myself short, but I realized I'm actually not an amateur in the world of entertainment. My skills are actually worth paying for. I just have a hard time remembering that sometimes.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Short and sweet

My new goal is to post more often, but more briefly.

We'll see how that goes.

So the magic contest went well. Though I neither won, nor rocked, I'm glad I went. It was stage time and I got more clarification on my understanding of what it takes to be a successful stage performer of the calibre I wish to be.

Simplicity, clarity, consistency, and size of persona.

On stage is just different than being close-up. You have to slow down and emphasize what's happening. In addition, I want the audience to have an experience of me as a performer, not as a guy who did a bunch of tricks. (That's where consistency and size of persona come in.)

Lesson learned. Now to incorporate it.

On a separate note, I've been resisting and resenting work related to magic lately. But then I think of how busy Lazlo is and think, "How can I complain? Look at how much he has on his plate and is accomplishing."

That's about as far as I get before I zone out and watch King of the Hill.

Any suggestions?

Short and sweet.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

On the upswing

April is definitely kicking March's ass.

So many things are happening magically, it's a little overwhelming. You've probably already heard, but I'm performing this Sunday in a magic contest at Navy Pier! Of the many, many magicians in the Chicago area, only 12 were admitted to the contest, and I'm one of them! As it turns out, much to my surprise, this event is a hotbed of controversy in the magic community based on how last year's show went, etc.

I don't care, though. I'm in it for the experience. And the possibility of winning a $1000 performing contract at the Pier over the summer. And it will be filmed, which I will eventually get a copy of. Wowsers!

Here's a link to a bit more information:

In other news, I'm also going to begin appearing at Cousin's Restaurant on Irving Park as their house magician. It's a raw food restaurant and they asked me if I could work raw food into my act. I figure I'll call it: "Raw Magic" It looks like it's going to involve me doing close-up magic, table to table, once a week, then hosting and MC'ing a stage show with guest magicians once a month. Very exciting.

That's the logistics of the update. Then there's the experience of it.

To be continued...

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

March: Statistically a bad month for magic?

Well, apparently I used all of my "magic" vacation, sick and personal days together to take the month of March off. That's what I'm telling myself, anyway. The reality is I just haven't done much, magically speaking.

Oh, I've thought about it. And worried about it. And did some fine, fine planning about it. Sent some emails out about a website. Had some calls with a professional magician friend of mine. Etc. And while I've gotten some stuff done and worked on some other stuff, it hasn't been particularly satisfying or fulfilling.

Here's what I've learned this month:

1) I have a propensity for doing ANYTHING but that which will further what I'm working on:
Sure, researching websites, working on a business plan, and things of that ilk are well and good, but they don't move me forward IMMEDIATELY. And I suffer about it the whole time. (See next entry)

2) I am one neurotic mo' fo':
This whole 2 year thing continues to freak me out; I get upset, I get resigned, I get excited, I get overwhelmed. Repeat.

3) I haven't been enjoying the project, let alone the rest of my life:
If I'm not working on magic, I'm thinking about it. When I am working on magic, it's not enough/the right kind of work/moving fast enough/etc. (See 2) Jamie is neurotic)

Somedays I've been fine, some days I've just wanted to break down and cry. That's where I have been.

Where am I going?

1) I've reduced my current focus to things that I know will make a difference, right now, today, in real type life. They are:
-get a restaurant gig
-get my contact info to agents/bookers/etc.
-work on my magic (develop, rehearse, perform, repeat)
That's it.

2) I'm refusing to panic any more about the 2 year thing. While I am committed to winning the game I am playing, I'm no longer willing to sacrifice my peace of mind for it. Life is too short, I have too great a wife and too fantastic a group of friends to not enjoy it while I'm here.

Sanity has returned.

For now.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Ripple effect

I have to preface this with the fact that one of the tricks I do in a close-up situation involves a clown nose appearing repeatedly on my face...

I just spoke with someone who came to the show on Saturday. He told me he had a dream last night about a work meeting with a number of people. He said that during the dream several people had clown noses randomly appearing on and vanishing from their faces.

Clearly, my work here is done...