24 March 2008

Northern Magic Circle's Spring Parade

Hi folks

Just a quick post to remind you that I am lecuring at this year's Northern Magic Circle Spring Parade Convention which is taking place on Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th April (next weekend) in Scarborough.

Here's a brief run-down of who's scheduled to be performing during the weekend:-

Peter McLanachan (that's me!) on cards - you wouldn't have guessed!
Tricky Ricky (McLeod) on Children's Magic

Alan Maskell
Jim Cuthbert
Michael Jordan

Kaymar Magic (general)
Black Cat Magic (specialist, escapology)
Magic Books by Post (specialist, books)
High Jinx Juggling supplies (specialist, juggling equipment)
Burning Card Magic (street, fire & close up)
Magician's Cave (general magic)

Gala Show featuring
Andrew Green
High Jinx
Su Jayne
Max Marshall
Ricky McLeod

Full details can be obtained at the Northern Magic Circle's website.

This is my first trip to the Northern's Convention and I am really looking forward to it. If any of you are there, do come up and say hello.

I look forward to hopefully seeing you there.

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

18 March 2008

Comedy, Pool and a bit of a surprise visit.

Where to start? It’s been one of those crazy-busy weeks that you get every once in a while where you wonder where all the time went. Let’s start at the beginning, a very good place to start!

As the regular reader of my Blog (hello!) may already know, I was going to see Dwight Slade as part of the Glasgow Comedy Festival on 7th March. I had seen him performing before at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe just over 18 months ago and thought he was funny there. There, he performed for one hour and it was one of the funniest hours I’ve experienced. This year, along with my Sister and her husband, Mhairi and Callum, we were treated to 2 45-minute halves with a wee interval in the middle. He was, as he said at the start of the evening, his own opening act. From an appearance from his "Evil Monkey" to dishing out justice with his trusty pool cue and a whole lot more. And, once again, he was hysterical. I cannot recommend his live shows highly enough. The next time he’s in your neck of the woods, go see him!

That brings us to Saturday morning. It was 11am and I was having my first long lie in I don't know how long when my mobile phone starts ringing (remember that the day before I had been out from 7:30am until around 1am that night - I deserved a lie in!). It was Sonja letting me know that she was going to be arriving the following day! The annoying thing was that I had a pool tournament to play in the following day in Glasgow. "No problem" said Sonja, "I'll come through to Glasgow and meet you at the pool hall." And so she did.

The final tour event of the 2007/08 Scottish American Pool Players Association Tour was held in The Q Club in the St George's Cross area of Glasgow and as I played my first match, against Rex Brady, I kept an eye on the front door of the club. Is it any wonder I was 3-0 down before I realised that I should be concentrating on the table and not on the front door of the club otherwise I'd be leaving the tournament pretty quickly. I got my game brain in gear and started winning a few racks. At 4-4, Sonja arrived and I could relax knowing that she had made it safely. In the end, I beat Rex 8 racks to 6 and moved on to a match with Clark Smith, currently ranked number 3 in Scotland. Clark killed me 9-2!

Most of the rest of the week was spent hanging out with Sonja. I had to work on Monday, but managed to get my last few days holidays changed so that I had the rest of the week off. Tuesday saw us going through to Glasgow to have a wee wander around some shops then off to the movies. We saw "The Accidental Husband" - Sonja's choice! - and it was, to use my Dad's old phrase "an enjoyable load of rubbish." Nothing too hard to understand and something that you could sit back and switch your brain off to for a wee bit. After a cracking dinner at Bombay Blues (I'd never been before but I'll certainly be going back!) we made our tired way home.

Sonja and I in Edinburgh

Wednesday was a day spent in Edinburgh. We met up with Isi, a long-time friend of Sonja's from her time living on the Isle of Wight and so we went walkabout around the town for a day or so. I rarely travel through to Edinburgh outside of August (during the Fringe) but I must confess that I was very disappointed in the shopping (or lack of shopping) in Edinburgh. Don't get me wrong, we had a good time in Edinburgh. We were all just a little disappointed in the shopping.

Sonja (r) and Isi in Edinburgh

Thursday was a fun day as we spent part of it with my Sister and her 2 boys, Lewis and Cameron, at a Soft Play facility in Kilmarnock. My nephews LOVE Soft Play and it is great fun watching them running around, climbing up and sliding down all the different things that are in these places. Sonja even got involved - actually, she didn't have much of a choice as Lewis was unzipping her boots moments after asking "you want to come into Soft Play with me?" The evening was spent relaxing for a wee while - well, if you can call baking a cake relaxing! Some might, but I don't! It must be said, though, that the cake was excellent!

Sonja playing in the Soft Play

Sonja and Lewis on the slide

Cameron's turn on the slide

Then, just as suddenly as the trip started, it was all over as Sonja's taxi arrived to take her to the airport at just before 5:15 on the Friday morning. It was great to see Sonja again for a few days and I hope that it isn't too long before we get to meet up once again - hopefully during the summer.

A crazy, mad, fun-filled week. I may have been really tired at the end of it all, but I loved every moment of it!

Speak soon

The Cardman :-)

06 March 2008

Dwight Slade - Oran Mor, Glasgow, Tomorrow Night

Hi folks

Just a quick one of these to let you all know that one of my favourite Stand Up Comedians, Dwight Slade, is performing in Glasgow TOMORROW NIGHT at Oran Mor. Doors are at 7pm and I believe his show starts at 8pm. Tickets, priced £10, are still available and I would highly, completely and totally recommend that everyone goes and listens to what he has to say.

I found out about him through reading and watching things about some guy Bill Hicks (some of you may have heard me mention Hicks in the past). The 2 of them were best friends at School and, for a while, were comedy partners - until Dwight's parents had to move away because of work, etc. I finally got to see him perform live at the Edinburgh Festival a couple of years ago and he did not disappoint. You can see what I said about that show on my Blog by clicking here.

So, do yourselves a favour and get down to his show tomorrow night. You won't be disappointed!

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)

02 March 2008

2008 Blackpool Convention

It is crazy, busy, rushed and leaves you shattered at the end of it. Yes, another edition of the Blackpool Magicians' Convention is now a memory. It's a chance to meet up with old friends, make new ones. It is a Convention with enough events to easily fill a 4 or 5-day Convention crammed into 2½ days!

For years, I've been travelling down to Blackpool on the Thursday morning so I can go play some American Pool in one of the American Pool Halls in the town and this year was no exception. I arrived at the Riley's American Pool and Snooker club to find that I could practice on the table used by the reigning World 9-Ball Champion, Daryl Peach. Daryl, sadly, wasn't going to be in town that weekend as he was playing a EuroTour event in Paris. Ach well, so much for congratulating him in person for the World Title that he won in November. The table that Daryl practices on is tapped, has the proper cloth and has 4½-inch double shimmed pockets. Now, that won't mean a great deal to you if you don't play American Pool, but to those that do, they are pretty tough conditions. I even got to meet up with Lynette Horsburgh, one of the top all-round cue sports players in Britian, who I hadn't seen since she came to the Scottish 9-Ball Championships in Kirkcaldy back in October. It was good to be able to sit and catch up.

Friday was the start of the Convention. Registration at 10am, then nothing Convention-wise for some 5 hours, so I went back to Riley's and played more pool (again on Daryl's table) until things started. After meeting up with friends and a couple of laps of the Dealers' Hall (which is where we buy all our new tricks, books, DVDs, props, etc.) my first event was to go and see Shawn Farquhar's lecture. I've seen Farquhar perform at the last 2 World Championships and he has always impressed me. He performs with enough energy to power a small town and is not scared to perform some impressive material - both in terms of technique and effect. His lecture was full of very easy material (he likes easy!) and the same energy that he gives when I've seen him perform in the past. Although I, personally, would not use any of the material that he taught in the lecture, it was great fun to watch and I would highly recommend that you go and see him if he's in your local area.

Me with Justin Lee Collins and Alan Carr

Saturday was going to be a busy day for me with 3 lectures pretty much back-to-back. The first was David Solomon from Chicago - a student, friend and confidant of the legendary Edward Marlo. It was, as expected, all cards, some technical stuff including a great thought-of card across from his current book "The Wisdom Of Solomon" that fooled me 3 times in a row. Well worth the book just for that effect alone! Next up was Jean-Jacques Sanvert of Paris who, amongst other things, taught his Bill To Cheese routine that was published in Genii a few years ago. Really, really clever! Finally was the one person I was wanting to see perform, lecture and meet - JC Wagner from San Diego. JC is one of the best Bar Magicians in the world and is the sole reason that I learned to perform the Card Under Glass - so now you know who to blame! He did a whole bunch of old and new routines, including Card Under Glass which made me smile as those around me missed it completely. I had the great pleasure of meeting him afterwards, as well as at the end of the Convention itself and he was the nicest of the nice people. I'm glad I went!

Me with JC Wagner

The Saturday night is, traditionally, the "British Magical Championships". This year, however, was a little different. They still called it a "competition" but there were no judges, no marks, no point(s). The first half consisted of all-UK performers with John Archer being my personal favourite. The interval came 2½ hours after the show started and after the first couple of acts in the second half, I - along with the folk I was sitting with - gave up and headed round to the Ruskin Hotel, the Headquarters Hotel of the Convention, to sit and chat. It turns out, however, that I missed one of the classic MC gaffs of all time. The MC for the show was Stu Francis - he of "Crackerjack" and who would say "ooh, I could crush a grape" or "ooh, I could test-drive a Tonka" (my personal favourite) - and while he seemed to be getting a little over-excited on stage at what was going on, he really didn't seem to have a grasp of things. He was mis-naming performers all over the place. He gave Shawn Farquhar 2 different names - both of them totally incorrect! You can read Shawn's own thoughts on the situation - as well as his thoughts on the Convention itself - at his Blog (you'll need to go to the stuff that he wrote in February to get the Blackpool stories).

Paul Wilson with French card genius Bebel

Sunday was, for me, a quieter day. I went to see some of the Close Up shows that were going on and saw JC Wagner and Shawn Farquhar. Both excellent - I still have no idea how Farquhar manages to get a signed card inside a fully sealed deck of cards! After that, I made a decision to see friends instead of events. Coffee with Paul, Mhairi, Kris and Christina. Shopping with Julie. That sort of stuff. All very enjoyable. After dinner in the American rock diner across the road from the Winter Gardens, it was time for the Gala Show. Nowhere near as long as the night before (thank smeg!) but while it wasn't the best, it wasn't the worst Gala Show I had seen. My favourite had to be Topaz's "Childhood" act based around a playroom. I had seen that act before (I can't remember where, possibly at FISM2003 in The Hague), but I had forgotten just how good that act was.

Me with Florida card expert Kostya Kimlat

Everyone went back round to the Ruskin after the Gala Show and a party of sorts started up that lasted well into the night. I managed to get some time to talk to Emma, a friend that I had initially met for a few seconds in Southport when she dropped her mobile phone, and ended up watching some of the crazy things that tend to happen during these nights - Ian Kendall pushing the inside of a biro pen up his nose, then trying to write with it!!! Pretty gross, but VERY funny! I also got to watch one of the most amazing magic sessions I've seen in a long time between my good friend Paul Wilson, JC Wagner and French card genius Bebel. I had seen Bebel perform before but he was on top form this night and baffling everyone that could see the table top.

How many people can you cram into a hotel lobby?

It was a good weekend. Not the best, but certainly not the worst. Of the stuff that I bought, I've been listening to the audiobook version of Michael Close's book "That Reminds Me: Finding The Funny In A Serious World" almost constantly (The Cardman's quick review: VERY FUNNY! BUY IT!!!) and I've started reading Geoffrey Durham's book "Professional Secrets: A Life In Magic". Of what I've read so far, this is an excellent book and whilst I won't necessarily use any of the performance material within the book, I will certainly be taking note of what he says in his informative essays.

Right, I'd better go and try and get my head back into the real world once again.

Speak soon.

The Cardman :-)