Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A little magic

Isn't this carpet totally Dr. Seuss?? Oh, the places you will go! This image was taken in the lobby of The Blackstone, a beautiful, restored historic hotel on Michigan Avenue in Chicago. It would be a wonderful place to have a Magic Collectors' Convention, but that's not how life goes. The convention is in Shaumburg, so after we had a fun afternoon, evening, and morning in downtown Chicago, we headed out to the 'burbs for the convention. (The picture is blurry, I suppose, because the carpet wouldn't stay still).

It's hard to describe to people what Magic Collectors' Conventions are like. Well, these are some highlights--

A young woman named Kirsten Voris made a presentation about her writing project, a biograpy of Gene Dennis (1903 - 1948), a woman who was mighty famous in her day as a clairvoyant, or psychic, in vaudeville shows. Ms. Voris certainly made me want to read her book, and has made a smart choice in her topic, since Gene Dennis was not only an interesting character, but also suitably obscure; Kirsten Voris's book, when it comes out, may be sole proprietor in its medium. (groan)

David Ben , a magician from Toronto, showed us his research (lots of old, silent film clips), focusing on Sid Lorraine (1905 - 1989) and other magicians who Lorraine knew at the time. He also interviewed John Thompson, the convention's guest of honor. Thompson performs as The Great Tomsoni, and despite being elderly and a bit scary looking, he's still got it, baby!

Mark the Knife (Faje) made his appearance as the token juggler. There's always a juggler at the convention, since magicians and jugglers have a long tradition of working together. This Mark guy is WEIRD. Be careful when you google him; you could catch a virus. I really should have gotten a picture of him putting that scorpion down his pants, or perhaps when he was wearing that thong-like thing with a knife protruding from the crotch area that he used to catch/spear a potato that was thrown at him by a woman in the audience. Mark did think it was high time someone threw vegetables at him, and called this one a dictator (groan).

One of the most intriguing presentations was about Nicola the Great, (born William Mozart Nicol, 1880-1946), who toured the world from 1910 to 1939. Now, here was a very, very interesting man who I'd just barely heard of, and that is a wonder to me. Harry Houdini certainly knew who Nicola was! Magic connoisseurs thought Nicola the better magician, he certainly had a solid fan base among audiences of that time, and he performed every escape Houdini performed, as well as a plethora of classical tricks, at which he excelled. History does distort things, doesn't it?

Enough about the convention, except to say, that it was sparsely attended this year. In fact, we didn't rate a conference room. They put us in The Sapphire Pavilion. Heh. That's a tent. A very nice tent, but a tent, all the same. And then the rain came down, hard at times, and even thundered. THAT was funny. Our day in Chicago, though, was gorgeous. See? Look, no sleeves.

10 comments:

Doug said...

The Bean is magic, isn't it?

Nicola, huh?

Tom & Icy said...

Fascinating stuff.

Ariel the Thief said...

I'll read teh rest at night but your saying the carpet wouldn't stay still cracked me up. I believe it!

TLP said...

Exactly. The carpet moves when you drink beer. Everyone knows that.

Good post.

Forgetful Librarian said...

That juggler sounds like a hoot! What an interesting convention.

Bone said...

There was a juggler as the opening act when I saw The Jacksons' Victory tour in 1980-something.

I think staring at that carpet too long would make me queasy. Or just did.

Nessa said...

Very interesting. I like watching magicians.

Jocelyn said...

The carpet seems to be a metaphor for the whole weekend!

Ariel the Thief said...

It is crazy. And very interesting.

tsduff said...

The last time I saw that bean it was in a blizzard :) Loverly photo.