27 December 2007

"Keith Barry: The Escape - Live"

Hi folks. Just a quick post today.

First of all, I hope you all had as good a Christmas as you could and not only that Santa was good to you but also that you were good to Santa.

My main reason for posting is to let you all know (in case you didn’t know already) that a friend of mine from Ireland, Keith Barry, finally has his TV special on this Saturday night (29th December) at 9pm on ITV1. I say “finally” as this was originally supposed to have been broadcast earlier this year. There was one small problem – Keith was the victim of a horrific car crash that smashed both his legs. Well, the bones are healed and the recovery complete and Keith’s special – “Keith Barry: The Escape – Live” – will finally appear on our screens.

“The Escape” that is mentioned is being broadcast live at the end of the special and involves Keith being bound to a chair in 100 feet of rope, locked inside a garden shed which is packed with explosives and then someone will light the fuse. Yes, this guy IS a nutter!

Keith, I don’t know if you’ll get a chance to read this during your preparations for Saturday night, but all the best (I won’t say “break a leg!”) with the show and the escape. I know I’ll be watching – albeit through my fingers!!!

Happy viewing, folks!

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

PS (added 4 January 2007) I've had one person comment on this post so far but I've decided not to publish it. The person commenting was giving away part of the method of one of the pieces Keith performed in his show and I do not like any form of exposure in a public place such as this blog. If it were in private or on a magicians-only forum, fine, but not here.

24 December 2007

Dave Robertson

Yesterday, I received news that hit me really, really hard - that of the passing of my friend Dave Robertson. Most of you won't have heard of Dave, but he was Scotland's very first Professional Close Up Magician. The one who paved the way for the rest to follow.

Dave was one of magic's "good guys" but was not afraid to speak his mind or give his opinion - no matter what people thought of what he had to say. And, unlike most, he wouldn't say things behind people's backs. He would say what he thought to their faces. If he liked or disliked the routine or trick you were doing, you knew. If you flashed a move, you knew. If he liked or didn't like anything, you knew. I was on the receiving end of his acid tongue on a couple of occasions and, although I didn't like it at the time, I was always appreciative that he could be so honest and up-front.

But Dave also had a softer, more caring side, to his character that people didn’t often see. Here’s one personal example – on the way down to the British Ring Convention in Scarborough on the East coast of England back in September 2001, I pulled a muscle in my back that caused me a lot of pain and meant that I was unable to carry the rucksack I had my luggage in. Of course, I had overloaded the rucksack making it amazingly heavy which helped me smeg up my back. Luckily, I was travelling with Dave who was more than good enough to help carry my rucksack onto and off of the trains as we travelled down.

Dave was also an excellent snooker and pool player. That same week, we spent an afternoon playing pool in an amusement arcade. Before I knew where I was, he was 7 games to 1 up. I made my excuse and said that I was going to get my own cue to play with. Dave patiently waited for a wee bit while I ran back to my hotel, got my cue and came back to play some more. We left the table when the score was 8 games each. It was an enjoyable afternoon, then we found out what had happened in America while we had been playing pool – 9/11.

Dave, thank you for everything. Your friendship, your advice, your support. I’m going to miss you auld yin. We’re all going to miss you!

Speak soon

The Cardman :-(

17 December 2007

My birthday weekend

Well, it's nearly Christmas and that means one thing - I've just had yet another birthday. Since when did I have the right to now be 34??? What the...? It's not fair! I've enjoyed my life so far, but there is the odd occasion when I look back and think "if only I had..." Still, I musn't dwell on what I haven't done, but what I can still get up to!

Honestly, Peter and I got dressed in separate houses without
any prior knowledge of what the other was wearing!

The "celebrations" started on the Saturday with a joint birthday day out for me and my good friend Emz - my birthday is on the 16th, his on the 21st. It was a small group of us - myself, Peter, Janice, Carol, Emz and Colin, Janice's brother - but it was a lot of fun. We started off bowling at The Garage in Kilmarnock (10 Pin Bowling - I'm not THAT old!!!) after which we went up to Carol and Emz's house for a bit of a party, some food and a right good laugh - all of which are guaranteed when we're there.

Carol proved to be a bit of a demon on the bowling lane while
Janice sat and laughed at the boys trying to bowl.

Peter tries to ignore Emz's Monty Python tribute

As ever at Carol and Emz's house, the games were out with all of us playing a game called "Cranium" which turned out to be a bit of a head buster but a lot of fun. There were several instances of us giving answers that we thought we knew were 100% correct, only to be told that we were completely wrong. Very funny or very frustrating, depending on which side of the question you were on.

Colin looks on as Janice is stumped trying to pronounce
a word that some poor soul will have to try to spell in a moment!

I can only speak for myself on this one although I'm sure Emz feels the same way. Thank you for a great day out. It was a lot of fun.

Emz at the end of the night

Sunday was spent with the family. I joined the rest of the family at Church - the Laigh Kirk in Paisley - so I could see Lewis being a sheep in this year's Nativity. Cameron was also dressed up as a wee star (how fitting!) but he decided that he didn't want to wear his costume any more and got upset any time anyone tried to put it back on him. It was very, very well done and had been written by the youngsters themselves in the style of a live news bulletin with interviews with Angels (very funny!), Shepherds and the Wise Men. It was obvious a lot of hard work had gone into it as the script was very funny and the costumes looked fantastic.

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

12 December 2007

Whatever happened to...?

We've all done it, we've all been there. Wondered whatever happened to people that were friends a long number of years ago but that, for one reason or another, you've lost contact with. And the annoying thing is that there's no real reason for you losing contact, it's just one of those things that... happens. It's happened to me a few times and I've even scoured the Internet after thinking "I wonder what [enter name here] is doing these days" and all to no avail.

Well, I had another one of those moments today but this time I thought I'd try to do something about it. "Of course" I thought, I've got a blog! What about posting it on there!?! There is, of course, the small fact that there are some 70-odd MILLION blogs in existence on the internet at the moment with another 10,000 new ones being created every single day, so the chances of the particular people seeing these are somewhat small but here goes anyway!

First off are 2 young ladies that I hung out with some 12 years ago or so - Roseanne Armstrong and Kirstie Provan (these were their unmarried names - they're probably married by now) who, at that time, were best friends. I first met Roseanne and Kirstie in what was then Monty's Snooker Club in Paisley - now called Suzy Q's - at the Saturday night Karaoke night that I used to go to EVERY Saturday night when I still lived in Paisley. I was asked by someone to show them a few card tricks and from that a great friendship was formed. Sadly, in the time between losing contact with them and now, I had heard through the immortal "grapevine" that they had had a falling out and gone their own separate ways.

The other person that's been in my thoughts of late is a young man by the name of Duncan Slater. Duncan was someone I met shortly after changing Primary School after we moved from the centre of Paisley to the South End of the town. We then went through Secondary School together and kept in contact as he went on to University and I went on to start, and then drop out of, College. A short while after moving to Stewarton, however, I lost contact with Duncan. I spoke to him all too briefly after he moved to Edinburgh with his girlfriend Kara, but since that one telephone conversation all too many years ago, I've lost all contact details for him. Bit of a bummer.

So, here's the reason why I'm posting this - anyone know these people and know where I can get in touch with them? And no wild goose chases! If I get sent on one, I will get my revenge (if you've seen "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" you'll get the idea of what I'm on about). If you do, leave a comment to this post and I'll get in touch via e-mail. It would be great to be able to meet up with some friends I haven't seen in who knows how long.

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

03 December 2007

Crowded House, SECC, 30 November 2007

I've been a Crowded House fan since I first heard the Woodface album back in 1991 but, for one lame reason or another, I never got or took the chance to see them live. When Neil Finn decided that it was time for the band to split up, I thought "well, there goes my chance to see them." Luckily for millions of Crowded House fans around the world, Finn put the band back together earlier this year with Matt Sherrod (aka Max Shreddor) taking the late and dearly missed Paul Hester's place at the drum kit. Even luckier for me was that they brougt out a stunning album called "Time On Earth" and embarked on a World Tour. Of course I had to get tickets and the Glasgow concert was scheduled for St Andrew's Night.

The night started with a chance meeting with Matt Sherrod outside the SECC's Box Office. I had heard that he was very friendly and very approachable and, I am very happy to report, what I had heard was true. I wished him a good show and he turned with a huge grin on his face, shook my hand and we spoke for a moment. It was only a moment out of his life, but it meant a lot to me and I appreciate that. Matt, thank you.

Support for the concert was provided by Duke Special, a band that I had never heard before but I have heard a friend of mine, Davad Steel, talking about them on his Blog. When they arrived on stage, the arena was no more than 25% full, but they filled the arena with their presence and their music. I think I may be hunting some of their material down in due course.

Then, after a wee wait, it was the turn of Crowded House to do their first concert in Scotland in some 12 or 13 years. And what a concert it was! The wait was worth it and they did not disappoint. Opening with "Private Universe" through a set that included songs old and new - even a semi-obscure album track from "Temple Of Low Men" - the band were amazing. I had always heard stories of the crazy things that can happen at Crowded House gigs and this one was no different. At one point during "Weather With You", Neil decided he wanted to get up close and personal with the crowd so he left the stage and made his way to the tierd seating and ran along the entire front row of the tierd seating high-fiving as many people as he could. I couldn't help but think whether they do that at every concert, but also that it was brilliant to watch. Another brilliant part was the introduction of mobile phones in place of the lit Bic lighters for "Better Be Home Soon" at the end of the gig. What an amazing sight!

I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried for the first half of the set. Hell, I'd waited so long to see these guys live that it was like a massive release for me. I want to see them do it all again! I want to see them again YESTERDAY!!! Thank goodness that one of the biggest cheers of the night was for their comment that they'll probably be back next year. I can't wait!

Set List
Private Universe
World Where You Live
Don't Stop Now
It's Only Natural
Four Seasons In One Day
Heaven That I'm Making
Silent House
Whispers And Moans
A Sigh
Pineapple Head
Don't Dream It's Over
People Are Like Suns
Walked Her Way Down
Mean To Me
Distant Sun

Encore 1
Something So Strong
Glasgow Jam (Improvised)
In The Lowlands
Weather With You

Encore 2
Locked Out
Fall At Your Feet
Better Be Home Soon

Roll on next time!!!

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

29 November 2007

2007 International Magic Convention, London

Last weekend, I was in London for this year’s International Magic Convention run by the MacMillan Family. As ever, on paper, it looked like a cracking weekend and, as ever, it lived up to the hope and hype.

My weekend started when I arrived in London on the Friday lunchtime and after leaving (aka dumping) my luggage in my hotel room, I made my way towards the London Science Museum. I only wanted to visit one part of the building, the Space Travel exhibit, as I have been interested in manned space flight for pretty much all of my life. Two words – utterly amazing! They had mock-ups and replicas of the likes of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, and the Lunar Module as well as models of all the launch vehicles used by both the Americans and Soviets/Russians from the very first up to the Space Shuttle. These were all built by a guy called Matt Irvine, who I remember appearing on “Newsround” and “Blue Peter” during major space-related events when I was much younger – in fact, he still makes the models for “The Sky At Night” which shows you just how young he must have been when he started!

Bill Anders' Spacesuit from the Apollo 8 mission - the first to send men around the moon in December 1968

Models of 2 Space Shuttles - American (left) and Russian

A little further on, in the “Making The Modern World” section, was THE most amazing artefact I have ever seen – the Command Module of the Apollo 10 mission that was the dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 moon landing. The Command Module, codenamed “Charlie Brown” during the mission, was the only part of the spacecraft where the crew lived during the mission and was the only part of the massive Saturn V launch vehicle that came back to Earth. It looked amazing from the front but have a look at the bottom of it, the heat shield is still scorched from protecting the astronauts from the intense heat of re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere.

The Apollo 10 Command Module

The heatshield of Apollo 10 - you can still see the white scorch marks from the re-entry!

A brief glimpse inside the Command Module of Apollo 10 (aka "Charlie Brown")

That evening saw the start of the Convention itself which was taking place once again in The Shaw Theatre, located between Euston and King’s Cross Stations. The Theatre has become home to the Convention over the last few years and everything is performed on the stage. The Close Up is viewed via a large screen that sits on stage above the performer’s head.The first event on the cards, so to speak, was Guy Hollingworth’s one-man show “The Expert At The Card Table” which was loosely based on the classic book of the same name. I had seen an earlier version of this show roughly 9 or 10 years ago at my first Opus Convention in London so I thought I knew what was coming up. How wrong I was! It was totally different and completely re-worked! And it was brilliant! I won’t spoilt anything for you, but Guy did tell me that he intends to perform this at the Edinburgh Fringe next year. If he does, make sure you get a ticket for it. It’s fantastic!

Guy’s show was the only event that I went to see as I wanted to spend some time catching up with friends I haven’t seen in ages as well as get an early night before performing in the Close Up Competition the following morning.The following morning, and I was in my suit ready to perform in the Close Up Competition. I had never performed for 400 people all at once before and the thought was more than a little daunting. However, the actual experience of it was fantastic! My opening line got a big laugh, making me think “I like this!” and wanting to do more. I'll keep working on the act some more - I want it to be better!

As for the rest of the acts, well I didn't see them. I was too busy getting ready to perform to watch the ones before me and wanted to get away from it all after I had performed, so I didn't see any that had come after me. If you'd like to know who did what, I can refer you to both JJ's Opus Blog and Naquada's Blog for their thoughts on the different acts.

Saturday afternoon was mostly spent in Hamley's - bit of a mistake going there 4 weeks before Christmas. It was the closest to a rugby scrum that I've ever been involved with in a shop, only full of kids!!! When I got back to the Shaw Theatre, it was time to do some Close Up before that night's Gala Show performance. Since I was going to see it on the Sunday night, I was going back to the Palace Theatre to go and see Spamalot, this time with my good friend Julie. This year, my seat was up in the Balcony and when I got up there I nearly freaked out it was so steep! Almost vertical. As ever, the show was excellent, this time with Peter Davidson taking on the role of King Arthur. That's right, the 5th incarnation of Dr Who taking on The Knights Who Say "Ni!". He was a completely different King Arthur to the one that Tim Curry portrayed last year (of course he would be!) and it was interesting to see how the 2 compared. Slightly unfair, I know, but it can't be helped.

Sunday was a bit of a busy one with the Close Up Show, lectures and the Gala Show all taking place. There was also the chance to spend our hard-earned cash in the Dealers' Hall, which we did! I saw the Darwin Ortiz and Francis Menotti lectures - both excellent and very educational - and the Close Up and Gala Shows were excellent. In the Gala Show, MC Noel Britten had some brilliant lines and gags worked out showing just how hard he is willing to work when doing this sort of show. He even had some cracking topical gags which I've been telling anyone that will listen! My personal highlight of the show was Veronin's wonderful comedy act which has everyone laughing at the antics of the performer and his props.

From left - Voronin, Georgina McMillan (seated), Noel Britten, Svetlana and Fay Presto

Monday and, thanks to my good friend Julie, I at that night's Magic Circle meeting, which happened to be another lecture by Darwin Ortiz. Luckily for me - and the others that had been at the convention - it was a different lecture. This time, instead of everything coming from his notes, he lectured on material from his book "CardShark", a book of his that I had bought when it was first released in the '90s but that I hadn't read in quite some time. This lead to me and my good friend Ali Cook, who I hadn't seen in ages then ended up sitting next to him at the Circle, muttering "nope, forgot that" and "don't remember that one" through the lecture. The lecture was excellent and I'll be re-reading Cardshark in the very near future!

Meeting Darwin Ortiz

Me with Ali Cook

And so, on Tuesday, it was time to travel home. Another Convention over. What a bummer. I really enjoyed myself at this one and now it's time to try and get my head back to real life - not exactly something I enjoy doing, to be honest! Still at least its only 3 months to Blackpool!

Oh, before I go, I must mention the motley crew in this picture. From the left, Marc, Rodney, Rob and Alan - aka "The Blogettes". The walked up to me and started quoting things from this here Blog, which freaked me out no end! Well lads, I promised I'd give you a mention and here it is! See you in Blackpool!

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

15 November 2007

2007 Philippines World Pool Championships

Last week saw this year's edition of the World Pool Championships taking place in Manilla in The Philippines. What a lot of you may not know is that Pool is HUGE over there. Apparrently it is a close second to Basketball in popularity! As ever Sky Sports were giving live coverage of the event, taking the broadcast feed from ESPN in Asia.

This year, Scotland had 3 players in it - Swiss-based Scot Johnny Fulcher, Glasgow's Stevie Capaldi and Larkhall's Pat Holtz. Sadly, none of our players managed to qualify from their groups into the last 64 knockout phase but that didn't stop the event from being one of the most amazing tournaments I've watched in many years. Although Pat qualify from his group, he did manage to make another good impact in the commentary box working with Texan Jerry Forsyth, Englishman Nick Halling and Filipino Bob Guerrero. As ever, Pat proved that you can take the boy out of Larkhall, but you can't take the Larkhall out of the boy! Last year, while talking very clear English, he slipped up my talking about the "wan-baw" (the one-ball). This year, I could only imagine Forsyth's face when he described an up-coming match as a "hum-dinger".

At the end of the week, the final came down to a Filipino, Roberto "Superman" Gomez, and a British player, Blackpool's Daryl Peach. I've met Daryl on many occasions, mostly when I was in Blackpool for the Convention that takes place there at the end of each February, and he's always been one of life's good guys. It was great to see him progressing so far through such a major tournament.

Let me just interject that there was a second British player involved in the late stages of the World Championships. Karl Boyes, who also lives in Blackpool, managed to reach the Semi Finals of this year's event before being on the wrong side of an 11-4 scoreline to Gomez (Karl was 4-0 up at one point before "Superman" took off). I had met Karl at the Scottish Championships at the end of October when he came up with his partner Lynette Horsburgh. Lynette, like Daryl, is someone I had met on numerous occasions when I was in Blackpool for the Convention. Had Karl won that match and made it an all-British final, I honestly don't know who I would have favoured!!!

As it was, it was easy for me to favour one player over the other and so, at 6:30 on Sunday morning (yes, 6:30AM on a Sunday!!!), I switched on Sky Sports to watch live coverage of the final (it's at times like these that I hate time differences!). The match started around 7am and, with the match being a race to 17 racks, I knew it would be a long one. I never thought it would take nearly 5 hours! But it did and, in the end, and to my joy and total disbelief, there was Daryl pocketing the final 9-ball to become 2007 World Pool Champion. It was, and is, an amazing achievement and one that finally starts to pay off all his hard work and dedication that Daryl has put into the game.

Daryl, a million and one congratulations to you! Yes, I cried as that final 9-ball was pocketed to give you the World Title you so deserve. Do I care? Not a jot!!! I could not have been happier for you. I hope you have a great year.

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

Foo Fighters, SECC, 9 November 2007

I was back at the SECC last Friday to see Foo Fighters in concert for the second time this year. If you are a regular reader of my Blog (and I thank you if you are), you’ll remember that I went to see them at Meadowbank Stadium in Edinburgh during the summer. Now, that was a good gig, but not a great gig. My main bugbear was that the music was too quiet – I could hear myself singing, which isn’t a good thing!

This concert, however, was an exact polar opposite – this was so good it goes straight onto my imaginary “Top 5” list of all-time great gigs that I’ve been to! Heck, it was so good, it may even be fighting for the top spot with the REM gig at T In The Park back in 2003!!!

The concert was all standing and I was initially wondering why this was. That was until I walked into the arena itself and found that there was a 40-foot runway leading from the main stage to a smaller stage in the middle of the crowd. So, I positioned myself at the side of this smaller stage and waited for the support acts to come on. The first was a band called Brady Cole who, it turns out, come from Fife. Very, very impressive. I really enjoyed their set and would have like to have seen more of them. As it was, they had to get off stage to make way for Serj Tankian – formerly of the band “System Of A Down” – to come on and perform his set. He was a little on the wacky side of nuts but it was a good performance, although I much preferred Brady Cole.

A short time later the lights went out, the crowd went crazy and the band that we’d all come to see walked on stage ready to play their hearts out. And play they did! They played a ton of stuff – including their most recent single “The Pretender” and their next one “Long Road To Ruin”, my favourite song off the current album – then moved onto the smaller stage, the main part of which was lowered down from the ceiling of the hall, to play a small acoustic set. Of course, they finished that part with “Everlong”, followed by “Monkey Wrench” and “All My Life” (I love how they finish “Everlong” (which starts with Dave solo with his accoustic guitar and finishes with a full band rocking finish) to go straight into “Monkey Wrency.”

Set List
Let It Die
The Pretender
Times Like These
Long Road To Ruin
Learn To Fly
Cheer Up Boys (Your Make Up Is Running)
No Way Back
Stacked Actors
Skin And Bones (acoustic)
Marigold (acoustic)
My Hero (acoustic)
Cold Day In The Sun (acoustic)
But Honestly (acoustic)
Monkey Wrench
All My Life

In Your Honour
This Is A Call
New Way Home
Best Of You

It was a great concert and a great night out. I'm looking forward to the next time they come to Glasgow.

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

07 November 2007

Lecture at Edinburgh Magic Circle: 12 November 2007

Hi folks

Yes, I know I haven’t posted for a wee bit, but things have been a little busy of late. I’ve got a few things I need to do posts about and hope to do so before too long.

However, I thought I’d quickly mention that I am presenting my “A Force Much Greater Than Luck” lecture at Edinburgh Magic Circle this Monday night – 12 November 2007 – at their new headquarters within The RAF Club, 11 Hillside Crescent, Edinburgh, which is just round the corner from their old meeting place at Edinburgh City Football Club. The room they will be using is on the top floor and the door is straight in front of you as you reach the top of the stairs. There is also a lift for those who wish to use it.

I'll be talking about my card material from my Notes entitled "A Force Much Greater Than Luck". Visiting magicians are welcome and entry to non-members of Edinburgh Magic Circle is £10.

Maybe see you there?

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

03 October 2007

A new way to find me - www.thecardman.co.uk

Hi folks

For ages, I've wanted to have a domain name with The Cardman in it. The perfect one for me would always be thecardman.co.uk but that was being held by someone else. Until recently.

Last week, I discovered that thecardman.co.uk was available and now it is mine and is the new address where you will find this blog. Should be a lot easier than the Blogspot address I was using previously.

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

27 September 2007

Video from FISM 2006

Hi folks

While I was looking through YouTube over the last day or 2, I came across this video from Spanish TV that was filmed at last year's FISM World Championships of Magic in Stockholm. I was part of the audience for this footage that was filmed in the lobby of the Convention Headquarters Hotel (I'm the one in the kilt) and had completely forgotten about it!

Just remember that the footage has been dubbed into Spanish for the TV audience, but you can still hear Lennart performing in English in the background.


Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

20 September 2007

2007 IBM British Ring Convention, Southport

Last week, I was in Southport for this year’s IBM British Ring Convention. The line up of talent on offer over the week was phenomenal with Lennart Green, Bill Malone, David Williamson, Boris Wild and Johnny and Pam Thompson (aka The Great Thomsoni and Co.) being just the tip of a very talented iceberg. I'm not going to give a full day-by-day account of everything that went on last week, just an overview of what some of the stuff that went on.

Me with Johnny and Pam Thompson
(aka The Great Thomsoni and Co.)

Julie helping Johnny Thompson with a card trick

I had decided that I would enter the Close Up Competition, which was taking place on the Thursday afternoon, so I used the Wednesday as a day just for catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in ages. Wednesday evening saw the Stage Competition for the British Ring Shield. I have to admit that I found this year’s competition to be an overdose of mediocrity. This may be due to the fact that entrants into the Stage Competition had to submit a DVD of their act before hand. A real shame. In the end, however, I feel that the correct act won – Hi Jinx won with a great wee act that I’ve seen a few times now and that never fails to entertain. Great stuff. One thing that did keep us going during the Stage Competition were the constant texts from home giving the Scotland v France football result. Suffice to say, every football-loving Scot in the theatre that evening left with large smiles on their faces after word got around about Scotland’s 1-0 win over the French – in Paris! A little more on this in a few minutes.

Me with my favourite Card Magician,
1991 World Champion Lennart Green of Sweeden

Meeting Bill Malone - and I KNOW we look alike!

Thursday, for me, started with rehearsing for the Close Up Competition. I had made a conscious decision that I would miss David Williamson's lecture, scheduled for the Thursday morning, in order to be able to practice a little more. I just wanted to make sure that all was OK. When I finally did venture out of the hotel, it was to head to the Convention Centre for the Competition. I had to perform my act 4 times in total – one in each of 4 performance rooms, allowing spectators as good a view as possible of the acts. The acts all seemed to go OK. There were a couple of minor errors, but nothing that I couldn’t get out of – thank goodness. Even though I came nowhere in the competition (the eventual winner being former Young Magician of the Year, Steve Dela), I was really appreciative of the very kind comments that people made to me about what I had done, especially people who went a little out their way to walk over and give me their thoughts. Thank you all.

One thing that had been arranged for the week were “Late Night Magic” shows in the Southport Arts Centre. These were in place of Fay Presto’s “Fringe” that had become a staple of recent IBM Conventions. This year’s shows were lots of fun with the likes of David Williamson, Bob Sheets, John Fealey and Tim Gabrielson all causing mayhem on a nightly basis. A few highlights included:-

  • Seeing Gaeton Bloom performing his world-famous card manipulations – with boxing gloves on!
  • Lennart Green being ambushed during his act by Williamson and Gabrielson so that it was definite that he couldn’t see what cards were where.
  • A funny skit that I was involved in with French magician Boris Wild in which he asked me to think of “anything” I liked, and him predicting that I was thinking of the France v Scotland football result.
  • Johnny and Pam Thompson’s stories about dog smuggling and Dai Vernon (with Mr Thompson as Vernon)
Lennart Greet attempts to contact the Mothership
after being blindfolded by Williamson and Gabrielson

Friday night saw the 4th running of the IBM Poker Championships, this year sponsored by Redtooth Poker. This year, 16 players took part with Mark Elsdon beating Noel Britten for the title and the trophy at just before 5am.

Mark Elsdon, winner of the 2007 Redtooth Poker
IBM Poker Championships

The Close Up Gala was one of the strongest Close Up shows I’ve ever seen! The conditions were great with good views of all the performers. Since my great friend Julie was a runner, or “Mobile Executive”, making sure the performers were where they should be for their shows, I decided that I would stay in the room that she was based in. This turned out to be the smallest room of the 3 in use and it was the perfect place to watch 6 of the best magicians on the planet – Michael Vincent, Boris Wild, Gaeton Bloom, Lennart Green, Bill Malone and Rocco. All the performers were excellent but there was, for me, a bit of a revelation. Last year, during the FISM World Championships, I had not “connected” with Rocco’s act. I didn’t seem to “get it”. This time, however, I really did enjoy it. I “got it”. It came across a lot better in the live room than it did when I was watching it in the video room last year. Of course, my favourite was Lennart – but then what else would you expect when I’m such a big fan!

The 6 performers in the Close Up Gala - (l to r) Lennart Green, Boris Wild,
Gaeton Bloom, Rocco, Bill Malone and Michael Vincent

Table for lots! Saturday night dinner with (l to r) Noel Britten, Romany,
Paul and Mhairi Nardini, JJ, John Archer and Dave Jones

The Saturday night stage Gala Show was pretty good. Highlights included Paul Zenon's constant one-liners (and taking a few risks with a pint of beer, a snooker triangle and a dog lead - you'll need to see him to know what I'm talking about) and Vik and Fabrini's wonderful act.

Three of my best friends - John Archer and Paul and Mhairi Nardini

Ain't I a lucky guy? Me with Julie and Ali -
friends I wish I could see more often!

It was a fun convention this year with tons of stuff going on and the opportunity to catch up with friends I hadn't seen in too long, as well as making new ones. The line up for next year has already been announce and it is so good that I fully intend being there already!

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

26 August 2007

Foo Fighters at T On The Fringe, 21 August 2007

I'm a bit of a Foo Fighters fan - not as much as I am a fan of REM, but I count myself as someone who will try to get to see them in concert if they're in Central Scotland. Well, last Tuesday saw Foo Fighters performing at Meadowbank Stadium, Edinburgh as part of T On The Fringe - the major gig off-shoot of the Edinburgh Fringe. I travelled through to Edinburgh with my sister Mhairi, who was attending her first Foo Fighters gig, and my friends Kate and Ray. Kate had a ticket for the gig while Ray was going to go walkabout around Edinburgh catching some of the stuff at the Fringe.

Mhairi and I

Kate and I

Our first port of call was the High Street where everyday sees a large number of Street Performers and Buskers performing shows for anybody and everybody. I managed to get really lucky and see Gazzo - one of the best Street Magicians in the world - performing his show from start to finish. The great thing for me was watching Kate and Ray's reactions at the end of Gazzo's Cups and Balls routine. Great stuff and if he's ever in a town near you, try and catch his show.

Mhairi and Kate

We went to the gig in plenty time to see the opening act - Silversun Pickups. I had seen them previously on Later with Jools Holland and liked them there. Well, I liked them here, too and hope to try and find the time to go buy their album in the next day or 3. Next up was Nine Inch Nails - not my cup of tea, to be honest.

Silversun Pickups
One little annoyance about the day was the rain. It wasn't heavy, but it was there. Ach well - one of those wee things.
Kate and Mhairi keeping dry

Mhairi models her Edinburgh Fringe poncho

No, I'm not train spotting!

Kate doing her best to keep dry

As for Foo Fighters themselves, what a gig! Dave Grohl walked onstage alone and played a solo version of Everlong that ended with the whole band on stage for the finish and went into a rocking version of Monkey Wrench - my personal all-time favourite FF song. Suffice to say, my throat was somewhat sore after the first 2 songs! The new single - The Pretender - sounds amazing (can't wait for the album - out on 10 September) and they even repeated their cover of The Arcade Fire's "Keep The Car Running" that they had performed for Radio 1 the previous week.

Dave Grohl opens the show with a solo version of Everlong

For those that are interested, here's the setlist:-

Monkey Wrench
My Hero
Times Like These
Up In Arms
Learn To Fly
The One
Stacked Actors
This Is A Call
Best Of You

The Pretender
Keep The Car Running (The Arcade Fire cover)
All My Life

A great gig and I look forward to seeing them again.

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

23 August 2007

A Day At The Edinburgh Fringe

Those of you who have read my blog for some time will know that I try to get through to Edinburgh for the Fringe at least once during August. This year's trip was in the company of Kelsey who was staying with my Aunt Moira during her visit over from Utah. I thought she'd maybe like to see what the Fringe was all about, get to see some of the Street Performers and some parts of Edinburgh itself. Sadly, it didn't work out that well as it rained from our arrival just before lunchtime until around 6pm.

When we arrived on the mile, there were no buskers to be seen anywhere, which was a real pity. So, we made our way to the various places we had to go to so we could collect the tickets we had ordered for the shows we were going to see. The first one, to be honest, I thought Kelsey would not understand - mostly because it was about 3 of the shows that I watched as a very small child - Camberwick Green, Trumpton and Chigley. The show was entitled "Trumptonshire Tales" and was hosted by Phill Jupitus along with Brian Cant - the voice of the 3 shows and a major part of my early childhood as he was also a presenter on Play School and Playaway. Luckily, Kelsey enjoyed it - but nowhere near as much as I did. The characters, the shows, the songs. Everything. Heck, Brian Cant even lead us in a singalong! An ambition from when I was a child finally fulfilled - in my early-30s!!! I want to do it all again!

After the show, we waited outside just in case I had the opportunity of a photo and an autograph or 2. Well, I was really, really lucky - I got to meet both Phill Jupitus, officially one of the nicest people in all of entertainment, and Brian Cant, which was a real bonus as, apparently, he wasn't feeling too well that day. Gentlemen both and they were both willing to spend some time answering questions, do autographs and have some pictures taken - even if it was raining! Thank you both.

Me meeting Phill Jupitus

I got to meet Brian Cant!!!

After Trumpton, it was time to go and see Gamarjobat from Japan. A mix of mime and physical comedy, I had seen clips of these guys on YouTube and was really impressed with what they did. The show - during which not a single word is spoken - was entitled "Rock 'N' Roll Penguin" and that's what the first half was about - the 2 of them being dressed up as over-sized penguins in a rock band (and these guys can play!). It doesn't sound much, but there was too much in this part of the show for me to remember. Really really funny. The second half saw them come out in their suits and my personal highlight came at the very end this part. Remember the old gag of walking behind a low wall as if there was a flight of stairs behind it? Well, these guys have taken that to a whole new level. I have seen people doing this gag as if there was an escalator behind the wall/screen, but this was on a whole different level. Brilliant! If you ever get the chance to see these guys live - GO!

Meeting Gamajorbat after their show

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

17 July 2007

New eBook available

Hi folks

A new eBook compiled, edited and published by Peter Duffie has been released. "Miraculous Minds: Scotland Goes Mental" is a collection of 34 Mental Magic and Mentalism effects and 2 essays from 22 Scottish magicians. The full list of contributors is:-

George McBride, David Forrest, Jim Cuthbert, Peter Duffie, Jackie McClements, Peter McLanachan, Alan Innes, Scotty Johnston, Ian Kendall, Euan Bingham, David Lees, Roy Walton, Paul Lesso, Drew McAdam, Peter Arcane, David Walsh, Max Gordon, Gary Middleton, Dave Robertson, Alan Rorrison, Gavin Ross, Val Le-Val

This eBook is available from me for the princely sum of £10 by clicking on the picture below. You will then be taken to a webpage with full details of who contributed what as well as how to order.

You can also find details of, and order, the previous Scottish eBook, "Scotland Up Close", and my own Lecture Notes entitled "A Force Much Greater Than Luck", both also costing £10 each, by clicking the images below.

I've also set up a couple of Special Offers if you want to buy either 2 or all 3 of these products at bargain prices.

For security purposes, all payments are made via PayPal.

For full details of everything go to my Lecture Notes and E-Books Pages. I hope to see you there soon.

Best wishes

The Cardman :-)

13 July 2007

The Soundtrack of My Life

I've posted this on my "networking" sites - MySpace and Bebo - and it is a very interesting wee excercise to do. What happens is you put your ipod on shuffle and then answer the questions by writing down the tracks in the order they come up on. Some of these are really spooky!!!!!

Opening credits:
Tombstone by Crowded House

Waking Up:
Billy Davey's Daughter by Stereophonics

Pilgrimage by REM

Fight Song:
The Scientist by Coldplay

Breaking up:
A Day In The Life by The Beatles

Going Out by Supergrass

Everybody Hurts by REM

Mental Breakdown:
Why Go by Pearl Jam

Friend Of A Friend (Skin And Bones version) by Foo Fighters

Only The Good Die Young by Billy Joel

Getting Back Together:
The Rising by Bruce Sprinsteen

Sinner by Neil Finn

Birth of Child:
Live And Let Die by Paul McCartney and Wings

Final Battle:
Low (MTV Unplugged version) by REM

Death Scene:
Stab In The Back by Terrorvision

Funeral Song:
Night Life by Jools Holland And His Rythmn And Blues Orchestra

End Credits:
The One I Love (acoustic version) by REM

My thanks to Jackie for passing this on to me. Now, what about you guys? What do you get?

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

10 July 2007

Derren Brown at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

I wanted to wait until Derren Brown's tour, "Mind Reader - An Evening of Wonders", was over before blogging this, just in case anyone reading this was going to the show. This was my 3rd time seeing Derren live in Glasgow and it was, once again, an excellent show. This time, I went with my friends Kate, Nicola and Bea. It's not every day that I get to go out to dinner and then to a show with 3 beautiful ladies!

Kate, Nicola and Bea after getting their stuff signed by Derren Brown

I must admit that I didn't think it was as good as his last tour, "Something Wicked This Way Comes", but it was an excellent show nevertheless. There was, however, one thing in the show that fooled the hell out of me. Here's what happened...

Derren asked for a member of the audience who knew they could phone a man that would probably be able to answer the phone there and then. Kate had her hand up like a rocket - well, she's always had a soft spot for Mr Brown - knowing she could phone Ray. A few other hands went up around the auditorium and DB threw out 3 frisbees - one of which landed next to our Kate. That was her, she was off like a shot on her way to the stage. When she got there, DB wrote a 3 digit number - 734 - up on a board saying that was what he was going to try to get Ray to say these numbers, in any order, via Kate. If he was wrong, Derren would give Kate £10. Kate dialled Ray's number and was fed a series of questions by DB then asked to give a 3 digit number. Ray, being the adventurous sort, said 123. A groan from the audience. A few more questions and another 3 digit number was given. This time 386. Well, that didn't work. DB spoke to Ray for a moment, then hung up and gave Kate her £10 prize.

But that wasn't the end of it. Near the stairs to the stage, DB called Kate back and under the ever watchful eye of the camera, slowly opened up the £10 note that he had given her a moment ago. There, written in thick black marker pen was "I WILL MAKE HIM SAY THIS NUMBER" with an arrow pointing to the serial number - 123368!!!

The tenner in question!

Now, this fooled me really badly, but it got worse when Kate got back to her seat and I got hold of the tenner. There it was! The 6 numbers that Ray had just called out! This freaked me out so badly it hurt. I couldn't wait for the intermission so I could talk to some others about it. Fortunately, I got some information that allowed me to sleep that night, but that really did nail me badly. Probably more so because it was Kate that was involved in the routine.

As I said, an enjoyable show and this was my personal highlight.

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

05 July 2007

Dad - A year already!

They say (whoever “they” are) that time goes quicker when you’re having fun. Well, it’s not exactly been a great year, not always fun, but it has been amazingly quick. Where the last 12 months have gone is a bit of a mystery to me.

It’s a year to the day since my Dad died. It hardly feels like any time at all since we were making regular trips to and from Crosshouse Hospital to sit with him – and giving him updates on what was going on at the World Cup in Germany. One thing I remember was watching the end of the Italy-Germany World Cup semi final match. I had gone from being with Dad to the family room located outside the Intensive Care Unit and switched on the TV to see that the game was still going on. Then, as some Italian player scored a wondergoal in the last few minutes that knocked Germany out of the World Cup, I forgot where I was for a moment and reacted verbally with a shout of “F***!” as the ball hit the back of the net. I suddenly remembered where I was and had a quick look out in the corridor to see if anyone had heard me. There was nobody about – to this day, I still don’t know if I was heard! I think I got away with it – I hope!

Dad, we miss you everyday as much as we did a year ago. Every time I hear som

eone whistling in the street, I’m still looking around for you! I suppose having heard it for 30-odd years, it becomes an automatic reaction. Whatever you’re up to, Dad, take care.

A family picture from a few years ago - Mum, me, Mhairi and Dad

To everyone else, remember to tell those that you care about EXACTLY how you feel about them before it’s too late.

Take care

The Cardman :-(

24 June 2007

More lecture news

Hi folks

Next Tuesday, 3rd July, I'll be in Watford presenting my lecture to the Watford Association of Magicians. The lecture starts at 8pm and entry for non-members is £5.

This is the first time I've lectured in England and I am both apprehensive and looking forward to it. I hope the members and visitors enjoy and are interested by what I say.

Maybe see you there?

Best wishes

The Cardman :-)

14 June 2007

Terrorvision/Television Memories

Many moons ago - 10 years to be exact! - my sister, Mhairi, and I would have our regular Saturday night TV shows. One of these was Channel 4's "Last Chance Lottery", a gameshow based on that night's National Lottery draw and hosted by Patrick Kielty.

Our favourite memory of this mental show is the week when Tony Wright of Terrorvision appeared on it to sing one of the songs picked "at random" (ahem!) from a large spinning wheel. From a load of Eurovision "classics" (term used very loosely!), he ended up with Bucks Fizz's "Making Your Mind Up."

The great news for Mhairi and I - and now you - is that some genius has posted the video of it on YouTube. So, here for your enjoyment, and for Mhairi and I to singalong with the line "...trust your Terrorvision" once again, is Tony Wright of the mighty Terrorvision singing "Making Your Mind Up." Enjoy!

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

11 June 2007

Velvet Revolver, SECC, 10 June 2007

This all starts last Wednesday when I got an e-mail from the SECC tickets e-mail list saying that the promoters were giving away a limited number of free tickets to the Velvet Revolver concert at the SECC. All I needed to do was e-mail them with my name, e-mail and phone number and I’d be entered into the draw. A couple of days later, I got another e-mail saying that I had won 2 tickets to go and see Velvet Revolver! Nervously, I went to the SECC box office on Saturday morning to see about picking up my tickets – I wasn’t sure if it was for real or not! I showed the e-mails, the girl asked my name and she handed me an envelope with 2 tickets in it!!!

So, last night, Peter and I went to see Velvet Revolver. We were right at the very back of the sloped seating, but who cares – we were at a gig that, to be honest, we didn’t know anything about until a few days before hand. They opened with a track from the upcoming new album Libertad, which comes out at the start of July, then followed it up with some stuff from their first album, Contraband. The new stuff sounds excellent and I’m looking forward to the new album but my personal highlights were a couple of the covers that they did – Talking Head’s “Psycho Killer”, Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here” (which started off with Slash doing a phenomenal guitar solo) and Guns ‘N’ Roses “It’s So Easy” – if you can call that a cover considering 60% of the Velvet Revolver were in GNR!

Excellent gig and I look forward to seeing them in concert again next time they’re in Scotland. For those of you who are interested, here’s the setlist…

Let It Roll
Do It For The Kids
Sucker Train Blues
The Last Fight
She Mine
Big Machine
Get Out The Door
Fall To Pieces
Just Sixteen
She Builds Quick Machines
Set Me Free
Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd cover)
It's So Easy (Guns ‘N’ Roses cover)
Psycho Killer (Talking Heads cover)

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

26 May 2007

Chan Canasta

While brousing through YouTube recently, I came across the following videos. They are of a performer who, in the 1950s, caused a huge sensation on British TV. His name was Chan Canasta and his TV show in the '50s caused a huge sensation. On a magical level, he was prepared to take risks that many, myself included, were not - and are not - willing to take. However, in the early '60s Canasta retired from performing to become a painter. Then, as the story goes, John Fisher, then one of the producers of the "Parkinson" talk show managed to talk Canasta into appearing on TV one more time. What follows, in 3 parts, is the whole performance.

Nothing has been missed. It is apparent that the clips have finished where they do so that they do not interfere with the performance of the effect. In these 3 clips, you will find why Derren Brown names Canasta as one of his main influences.

I hope you enjoy them - I certainly did.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

17 May 2007


In a couple of previous posts, I've mentioned that I had been asked to present my magic lecture at a couple of places - the Scottish Association of Magical Societies Convention in Montrose at the end of April (at 10:15 on the Sunday morning!) and at Glasgow Magic Circle's President's Night at the beginning of May.

I'm happy to report (OK, brag!) that both lectures went really well and were well received by those who saw them. I've even had a couple of calls from other clubs who are interested in having me lecture for them, which is great and I am really humbled by their interest. I'll give you full details when everything is organised as nothing has been fully confirmed.

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

14 May 2007

Catch up - Germany (Long post!)

Well, the trip to Germany is now but a memory. But what a series of memories they are! It was almost like being part of a rock tour – a different day, a different city – so this is going to be a fairly lengthy post as we managed to cram a ton of stuff into a very short space of time.

Monday was simply and arrival day and getting my head around being in, what was for me, a new country. Sonja showed me a little of Oldenburg, the city that, due to her University studies, she’s called home for the last few years. She showed me the “Easter Market” – a giant travelling fairground that even had a 150-foot (50 metre) high Ferris Wheel and beer stands that looked like real pubs but all of it could be broken down in a matter of hours and rebuilt elsewhere when needed.

On Tuesday, we visited Osnabruck, where Sonja will be starting the last 2 years of her Teacher Training in a Grammer School there, teaching English and Religious Education. After a meeting about her new flat, we went walkabout around the city centre. We met up with a friend of Sonja’s for lunch (at Osnabruck University), after which we continued going walkabout around Osnabruck. We then drove out to where Sonja’s new flat is located and then to the school where she’ll be working – 400meters away from her flat!!! That evening, along with Sonja’s friend Dorit (who was supposed to accompany Sonja to Scotland when she came over for my birthday in December 2005 but had to pull out due to illness) we visited a Greek restaurant around the corner from Sonja’s flat. My first visit to a Greek restaurant and very nice it was, too!

Dorit, me and Sonja

Wednesday saw us spend the day in and around Oldenburg. After a few bits and pieces that needed to be done (shopping and such like), we left the car at Sonja’s flat and walked no more than 300meters to the University for lunch. No wonder Sonja took this flat – she could fall out of bed and end up in Uni in moments! After lunch, a short bus ride took us to the town centre for a look around some shops – and me spending some money at H&M. That evening, dinner and a brief a trip to the Easter Market with a couple of Sonja’s friends was followed by a trip to a place called Richter’s – a poolroom (click here for the site in English). How much of a happy bunny was I? Sonja was good enough to ask the bar staff if they’d open the Pro Shop for a few minutes for me (it took a ton of self-control to not go completely mental in there and end up buying a cue or something expensive like that).

Me messing up Katharina's head!

Thursday and we went through to Bremen for the day. Our initial aim was to go to the Science Museum there, where we ended up spending some 4½ hours walking round! The time just flew in for us! When we arrived back in the city centre, there were loads of people walking around in red and white tops and after a little asking about, I managed to find out that they were fans of the AZ Alkmaar football team from Holland who were there to play Werder Bremen in the UEFA Cup Quarter Final second leg match. As we continued walking around, we came across the main square of the city and found it to be a sea or red and white – filled with AZ Alkmaar fans! It made for an amazing site and what a great atmosphere in the place. The police were there, but were able to stand back and allow everyone to enjoy themselves, which they did. We got back to Oldenburg and went to a nearby bar for dinner – an all you can eat pasta buffet for €2. They happened to be showing the Bremen game and giving away free shots every time they scored. We arrived with the score at 1-1 and left at full time with Bremen winning the match 4-1.

Sonja at the Bremen Science Museum

AZ Alkmaar fans in Bremen city centre before the game

Friday, and it was off to Hamburg (via Bremen) for the weekend to attend the 25th Anniversary Convention of Magische Nordlichter (click here for this site in English), which translates at Magical Northern Lights, which is one of 2 magic clubs in Hamburg. Sonja constantly told me not to expect too much from the Convention, but it turned out to be a great weekend with one of the best Gala Shows I've seen in a long time. I went to lectures by Christoph Borer & Lou (Switzerland) and Alan Shaxon (England). Although the first lecture was in German, I was still able to understand parts of it. Luckily, I also had Sonja by my side for those parts that I didn't understand! The Shaxon lecture was presented in English with a simultaneous German translation by Henning Köhlert which I did not find intrusive. I've seen Shaxon lecture a few times and always find it fascinating - great magic, to-the-point effects and brilliant methods.

The Convention itself was being held in a suburb of Hamburg called Wilhelmsburg, so I took some time out from the Convention to go and see parts of Hamburg. On the Friday night, I was taken to the world-famous Reeperbahn, which is a huge street in Hamburg with every form of entertainment that you can imagine - and a fair bunch that you really shouldn't! On one side, a bunch of theatres with shows such as "Mamma Mia", clubs and bars. On the other, more bars, more clubs and... well, dozens of sex shops and shows! And I mean dozens! There must have been one ever other door! We did not go into any of the sex shops or shows. We did, however, go to a few of the bars and clubs on and around the Reeperbahn. Sadly, I cannot remember any of the names of them, but my favourites included one that looked and felt like a student dorm with a main room where the bar and DJ were located and a corridor with bunch of smaller rooms leading off of it. These rooms had everything from accoustic gigs to big discussions to a table football tournament going on.

On the Saturday, I went walkabout around Hamburg City Centre myself looking around a bunch of shops and generally enjoying the sights. On what was the warmest day of the year so far (well into the 80s!) I saw a totally different side to Hamburg to what I had seen the night before.

People enjoying the sunshine at Hamburg's waterfront

Sunday was the final day of the Convention and a boat cruise had been arranged along the River Elbe - the river that runs through Hamburg. With 100 or so magicians on board, it wasn't long before little magic shows were happening here, there and everywhere on board ship and I got involved doing a few shows now and then. It was great fun and, as always, Sonja was there in case I needed her translation skills (she speaks German like a native!). Luckily for me, everyone seemed to enjoy watching what I was doing so I must have been doing something right. Before I knew where we were, 3 hours had passed and we were arriving back at the Hamburg docks and it was time for a spot of lunch then the journey out to the airport for my flights home.

Sonja and I before going on the Sunday morning cruise

I had a great time. It was great to visit Germany for the first time. It was great to go to another Convention. Most of all, however, it was great just to see Sonja for a few days. I will definately be back!

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)