Category Archives: Musings

Jokers and Vets

This definitely falls into the ‘I have amazing friends who do magical things’ category.

My friend Donna loves to skydive. She’s a disabled vet who gets her kicks from flying … and teaching others how to fly.  More about this in a second.

When she dives, she carries a playing card with her; a joker with a sticker on the back with instructions on how to contact her. This is the sticker: 19894365_10154714318117113_1161213817_n.png

She releases it during the drop and waits to see if and where they are found. Her team mate drops Aces of Spades. The one time he didn’t he had a malfunction and had to go to his reserve, so now he doesn’t forget.

Donna loves and lives her passion, but there’s more: she reaches out to other disabled vets and teaches them skydiving, too. This naturally poses challenges to some. Double and triple amputees have trained with Donna in order to learn flying. The balance, the alterations to the equipment, everything has to be taken into serious consideration. Worth it? Donna says, “Flying like that is like driving down the road with a trailer that has busted up wheels and you can’t control it. But his face when he first flew stable…

Yeah, absolutely worth it. Donna brings her passion and infuses her students with the joy she gets from diving. Just chatting with her about this gave me chills. What a gift to share with someone. Literally lifting hearts and overcoming adversity.

To be honest, I have written and re-written this blog several times now, and i cannot adequately express how this story makes me feel. With all the separation, pain, and diversity infecting the world right now, here’s a woman who gives great gifts, both seen and unseen, someone who sacrifices time in order to help bridge the gap for veterans. I’m humbled. The best i can offer is to direct your attention to this amazing woman and her team.

And she drops Jokers. I’ve saved up a bunch to send to her, since full decks of jokers can be expensive, and I’d like to call on my fellow magicians and cardmonkeys to do likewise. Save up your jokers and send them directly to: BD Factory Team, 15211 Preston Pass Dr, San Antonio TX 78247

Let’s overwhelm her with gratitude and Jokers.

In her own words, which are far better than mine, here is her more complete story:
Donna Bachler.

Amazing friends, heroes. Doing their part to better the outlook of Veterans, and making the world better daily.

What can you do? Show me …

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A Few Words for a Hero.

He wasn’t famous, not really. Most of the magic community knew who he was, and the wise ones fed on his words like manna.EBSB The vast majority of the public never heard of him, though he shaped and influenced the ‘names’ they do know. He was a legend, a giant, an icon … yet unassuming, introverted, quiet, and deeply observational.

He was the author of the very first book I purchased on my craft, “The Performance of Close-Up Magic”, and I still refer to it today, twenty-five years later. We first met in Vancouver, working at a magic convention together. He was warm, gentle, and kind. His method of teaching, of guiding, was unique and powerful. Every time I was in his presence, or opened the pages of one of his books, I learned something new. About magic, about kindness, about myself.

The last time we spoke face to face was in St. Louis, three years ago. He approached me after my act at the North American FISM contest and complimented me. I was thunderstruck. We exchanged information and he called me later to discuss my process for creating … the man I gleaned so much knowledge from was interested in how I created my act, and (in effect) was learning from me. He was uplifting. He was honest. He was a master at making people feel.

He wasn’t famous in the conventional sense, but he left his mark, and the world was made better because he was in it. My heart hurts from this loss, but I’m joyful that he was a part of my life.

Eugene Burger

June 1, 1939 – August 8, 2017

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Summer Camp

I do one 'kids show' a year, and I wish I could do many more, as long as they were as gratifying, as heartwarming, as the Charlotte MDA Summer Camp. Every summer for the past 11 years, I've been invited to entertain the campers and the counselors one evening, and every time I leave, I'm struck by how lucky I am to have been there.

The children and youth that attend have various forms of muscular dystrophy, but their enthusiasm is unmatched in any audience I've had the privilege to work for. Yes, it's your typical summer camp. There are multiple activities and campfires and sing alongs and home sickness and stomach bugs and everything that makes camp a silver memory that many of us treasure for our lifetime. It's so much more than that, though. As you might imagine, working with the individual challenges of each camper is a daunting endeavor, yet it's done with humor, energy, and style. So much grace …

And there's love. Man, the love in that place is so thick you could spread it on toast. The staff and the counselors bring their best for the campers and everyone looks out for everyone else. Maybe I'm gushing a little, but I'm sincere.

The past three years I arrived wrapped up in my own troubles, and they vanish within the first few minutes. I leave invigorated, happy, and hopeful. And moved. Lifted so high, emotionally.

I'm not …. writing about this to brag, or promote my image. I want to impress on you the value of giving of your ability. Taking your talent, your time, your vitality and using it to enrich the lives of those who need it and see so little in their world. It could be anything, any cause, listen to your heart. Believe this: it's been worth any 'sacrifice' I've had to make in order to be there.

The love you need is where you plant it.

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The Road of the Fool

The Fool is untested potential, neither positive nor negative yet containing the possibility of both. The Fool is the unconditioned soul about to come into manifestation for the first time to start learning the lessons of the world. Though mocked and derided, attention is not paid, and the Fool simply walks on. Perhaps what they say can be justified, since this ignorance of the world can lead the fool to do things that more experienced people would never imagine. But in these things can be found knowledge and enlightenment. The fool does not care what others think or say, because of a galvanized faith that the path followed is absolutely the correct one.

This approach to life is a strange, unconventional one, because the Fool does not always do what is comfortable. This is a viewpoint not often supported in our modern world, in which “do as I say” is the commandment most followed, and the easy path is the road most traveled. To those who have lived their life under this philosophy, the approach of the Fool may be extravagant, shocking, even frightening. But this approach is all that the Fool knows, and because the only approval they require is their own, they will continue to live this way, despite what all others think. There is simply faith in Self.

The Fool does not hide from the light, because the Fool is the light – the wonderful light that shines out of every child before they see the world and are forced to build so many walls and barriers to protect themselves. The innocence of a child, sadly, is something rarely found outside of children, even though a lot of people could use it these days. With this innocence comes perfect trust, fearlessness, and total self-reliance. It allows one to see the world with new eyes and learn new things every day of one’s life.  It’s a shame that only children, and the Fool, see this light.

New beginnings, new experiences and new choices; the first steps along a new road and the first words written onto a blank page.  Where the road and the story lead are not your concern, because when a journey begins no one can know (or should know) what will happen on the way to the destination. Never let another person control your life. Live in the present and trust in your own abilities – this is the road of the Fool.

(Featured image by Rhienna Renée Guedry)

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Raw Opinion

I get (mostly) naked onstage in a certain act that I do occasionally. It galvanizes, opens discussion, and empowers people in many different ways. I’m told that it is inspirational.

On the most recent cover of Vanish magazine (a periodical for entertainers in my craft) a magician appears (mostly) naked. It galvanizes, opens discussion, and empowers people in many different ways. It has also had the effect of polarizing members of my community.

She earned the cover because of her talent, creativity, and contribution to Magic as an art form. She had a very large role in choosing what the cover would be. It was her idea.

It is beautiful, it is artistic, and I fully endorse her. Not that my endorsement matters one bit, but …

Fellow Magi and fans of magic: Let us lift her up in her bravery and vision, and let us learn from her.

Bravo, Carisa.

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June 25, 2017

Tampa, Florida

Masters of Magic show at the Magic Emporium

Afterward, as I’m chatting with people and packing up, a lady approached. She took my hand and shook it, then pulled me close for a hug. As she did so, she said nothing, but she held my gaze and the expression in her eyes was so meaningful that I felt tears welling up in my own. You could feel it through the room, and all around us, for a moment, everyone was quiet.

My words have reached deep inside some people, and sometimes they just want to let me know. Some people can say more with their eyes than their mouths. And I can listen with my eyes –often better than with my ears.

I hope she felt my mutual gratitude.

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She, Concluded. (In which I invent a new word or two)

Our little romance lasted about a month, but in the end we were simply from two different worlds and two different times in our lives. We enjoyed a Kerouacian Roman Candle affair, and we parted amiably and with respect.

My heart is intact, and I learned a few things about myself. I still feel beautiful. I do have love, all kinds of love, to offer a myriad of different people. Even romance, in the future, should it come my way again. It’s not a threat or a deviation from my path.

This affair raised some questions in my mind, and I’d like to pose them to You. There’s an answer (sort of) at the end of this, but it’s my answer. I know that everyone will have different experiences and therefore different reactions to this.

A singular question. If you had the power of foresight, how would it change the way you live your life? Would you initiate a romance, knowing that it would disintegrate?  If, before you even became pregnant, you knew your daughter would die in her teens, would you still give birth? If you knew the one you loved was going to betray you twenty years from now, or die prematurely, would you go forward with becoming partners?

Luckily, we are spared the curse and horror of foresight. We have the ability to grasp the now.

For me, the answer is a resounding yes. Give me the moments, give me the now, give me all the feelings I can collect. Let me hoard my memories. Memories: the power of living your life in any order you want. You can revisit the moments you had with people you love. So in this context, death isn’t the end, because you aren’t changing ANYTHING, just recontextualizing the experience of it all.

The experience with Monique taught me a few things, but what I’m holding onto from this time is simply this: Life is a beautiful thing. Experience all kinds of love, and though you may lose it, it adds value to who you are and how you shape your life, even if you have to face some fears to do so.

You may lose … no, that’s not correct. You are going to lose, because that’s part of the road. There really isn’t a damned thing you can do about it: you are informed by the journey itself and given different perspective or information, any step you make might be different. Collect the moments with all you are worth.

All of this to say: it was wonderful, and now it’s over, and I have no regrets.

I’m still beautiful, and my road stretches ahead. There is love, out there.

 

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