Ring Report – September 2013

Our September Ring meeting was attended by President Bill Watson, Frank Gayda, Rick Lansdale, Ron Carnell and, sitting in for his first meeting, John Sterlini. Most arrived early for sandwiches and pizza at our new digs at Five Star Pizza. Our magicians are surprisingly good at making food disappear!

Bill called the meeting to order and we spent most of an hour discussing business. That’s a lot for our club, but with a Benefit Stage Show coming up in October and plans for Michigan Magic Day next year there was no shortage of issues to discuss. Ron passed out a detailed outline of the first few things that would need to be resolved for MMD and everyone present added their thoughts. Rick Lansdale agreed to investigate the possibility of hosting the event at a nearby casino.

With only five members present, the magic portion of the meeting went from our usual presentation style to more of a sessioning style. At the request of Rick Lansdale, Bill spent most of thirty minutes teaching everyone a trick he had originally learned from his father, the famous Monk Watson. Bill showed and counted four blue-backed Kings. Then, one at a time, the four Kings turned into four Aces. After which the blue-backed cards turned into red-backed cards. It’s a delightful effect, with a surprisingly simple handling.

Frank showed us a few tricks he’d been working on, including one with Astra gimmicks that led to a discussion on a number of different ways they could be used. Rick showed us a trick where the aces and court cards are shipwrecked on four islands, coming together in a number of different and interesting ways.

It was not a typical meeting but, ultimately, it turned out to be a good one. Our next meeting, in October, will be just a few days before our big benefit show at the high school, so we’ll be concentrating our magic on the stage effects we’ll be performing for the residents of Colon. When one works the Magic Capital of the World, expectations are always high.

Ring Report – August 2013

In August the Abbott/Watson club of Colon met for the first time in their new digs, a “secret room” in the newly remodeled Five Star Pizza. The only entrance to the room is through a swinging bookcase. And no, I don’t think I’m giving anything away; it’s about the worst kept secret in Michigan. Many thanks to Carl Thornton for inviting us.

There was a lot of business to attend to in August, unusual for our club but unavoidable this time around.

For the past 44 years, Michigan Magic Day has been held each Spring and is typically hosted by one of the many magic clubs in our state. For example this year, 2013, the regional convention was hosted by Ring 36 in Flint, the year before by Ring 54 in Lansing. MMD is a very successful event every year, one that most magicians in our state look forward to attending. In 2014 our own Ring 386 and Ring 89 will host MMD as a co-venture.

Eric Sullivan, acting President of Ring 89, and Todd McAuliffe both drove up from Marshall to join us for the business portion of the meeting. Ron Carnell agreed to form a Convention Committee and was asked to Chair the Convention. The first step in a very long process, everyone agreed, would be to find a suitable venue. Eric was asked to check out a few possibilities in Marshall.

While MMD was the big topic of conversation during our business meeting, it wasn’t the only one. Last year, Ring 386 put on a 90 minute benefit show, Sharing the Magic, at the Colon High School to help raise money for the local food bank. We wanted to get an early start on our second annual benefit and it was decided to move the date from November to late October to avoid conflicts with the holiday season. Rick Fisher agreed to make arrangements with the school for our preferred dates.

Finally, with all business issues discussed, dissected, and dispatched, it was time to move on the Magic.

Jayden Engster opened the show with an interesting dollar bill penetration. He folded the borrowed dollar, covered part of it with a napkin, then proceeded to apparently puncture both with a pencil. Upon unfolding the bill, however, it was shown that no holes were to be seen.

Bill Watson rolled up a couple of napkins and entertained us for several minutes with an impromptu sponge ball routine. That prompted Rick Fisher to show us how to roll up a napkin until it was apparently compressed to about the size of a pea. A very small pea.

Frank Gayda opened with a lovely finger ring on stick routine with the help of Rick’s young granddaughter, Lilly. He would later get back up again and do a wonderful trick with four jumbo Queens and then close with a Mental Epic he claimed he’d had for several decades (and it still looked as good, and definitely worked as well, as when it was new.)

Ron Carnell performed his take on the vanishing Coke bottle and then showed the group some changes he’d made in a previously shown standup packet trick where four jokers are changed into four fives.

It was a long meeting for us, but a productive one and ultimately a very fun one.

Ring Report – October 2012

Ring 386’s suggested theme for our October meeting was (of course) Halloween. It’s a good thing our themes are just suggestions because it’s arguable whether anyone came up with an effect that was even a little bit scary.

Before we could get to the magic, however, we first had to clear the business agenda and, for the first time since our charter was issued earlier this year, our business issues took more than the usual three to five minutes. Even more unusual, no one seemed to mind.

Colon’s Food Pantry provides food, clothing and Christmas toys for the less fortunate of our community and, over the course of the past year, has seen their rolls double as more and more people struggle in an economy still growing all too slowly. In an effort to help, Members of Ring 386 agreed to put on a Benefit show on November 17. The Colon Community School system is donating time at our local high school (the same stage where Blackstone, Lance Burton, Mac King and a hundred more great magicians have performed during the Abbott’s Get-Together). Admission to the Benefit Show, expected to run ninety minutes, will be donations to the Food Pantry in the form of cash, food, clothing or toys. Most of the details for the event were hashed out among Ring Members during the October meeting.

On to the magic!

Mike Moorian was the first to perform, with his handling of “The Human Pincushion,” ala Harry Anderson. The blood running down Mike’s arm (fake, of course) was about the scariest moment of the evening.

Frank Gayda followed with two card tricks, including Haunted Card, using jumbo Bicycles, and Haunted Aces. Frank performed both effects perfectly, to admirable applause, but I don’t think he scared a single soul.

Rick Fisher demonstrated a Light/Heavy box for the Ring Members, which I think might have frightened Preston Eakins just a tad when he found himself unable to move the box, let alone lift it, after Rick deposited a silk in it. Preston seemed relieved when Rick finally tipped how the box worked.

Krag Ryal performed a Prediction effect using what appeared to be a standard deck of Zener cards, consisting of 25 cards using five repeating designs (circle, cross, waves, square and star). He was able to successfully predict a volunteer’s selection of the wavy lines. Turned out the deck wasn’t quite as standard as it appeared. Krag also showed us a trick using a bag of pennies and centered around the story of Edwin Boothe, brother to the infamous John Wilkes Boothe. Using an old glove supposedly belonging to Boothe, Krag was able to reach into the bag of pennies and pull out the one coin that had been signed by a volunteer.

Ron Carnell finished out the night’s entertainment with a Coins Across routine where four silver dollars jumped NOT from his left to his right hand, but rather from Bill Watson’s outstretched hand into Frank Gayda’s hand three feet away. It was an example of putting the magic into the spectator’s hands. Ron also performed Garrett Thomas’s effect, Stand Up Monte, a card trick that again happens to a large extent in the spectator’s hands.

It was another great evening of magic. Our suggested theme for November is going to include a dry run for the upcoming Benefit Show as each participating Member performs their show routine for the rest of the club.

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Ring Report – August 2012

After another big Abbott’s Get-together (the 75th!), you’d think everyone in and around the tiny village of Colon would be getting a little tired of magic. Apparently not, though, because Ring 386’s August meeting (third Thursday) was another banner month for the fledgling club, with nearly twenty people in attendance.

Bill Watson called the meeting to order and spent a few minutes discussing business issues. There weren’t a lot. Bill reported on the meet-and-greet at the Masonic Lodge the Ring had sponsored during magic week, offering visiting magi coffee, pastries, and a chance to get to know our local club a little better. Plans were also made for Rick Fisher to open a bank account for the club. That way he’d have something to report every month when Bill calls for the Treasurer’s Report. We concluded the business portion of the meeting by singing Happy Birthday to Kristen Engster.

There were a lot of new faces at the meeting, so introductions were made all around. Karen Carnell Stevenson was attending her first ever Ring meeting with her daughter, Chelsea, who had been bitten by the magic bug just a few weeks earlier during the Get-together. Jayden Engster had brought a buddy with him, Austin Bunker, and Mark Parks from the Lansing area was making his first visit to the club. Jim (Mr. Jim) and Vicky Merrills happened to be visiting the Magic Capital and stuck around town long enough to attend our monthly meeting. Finally, Frank Gayda won the award for Longest Drive, coming all the way from the Chicago area specifically to be a part of the Abbott/Watson Ring.

With business concluded, it was time for the magic. The suggested theme for the month was Color Change.

Bill Watson browbeat me (Ron Carnell) into going first. When I offered the club a choice between two tricks, one a Color Change and one not, they very quickly said they wanted to see both. The first was a Wild Card effect where three jokers changed into blue-backed duplicates of a selected red-backed card — after which the backs also changed colors to make them true duplicates. My second trick was an original matrix variation called Love Matrix. A role playing game, three of our male spectators (Jayden, Austin and Frank) were given envelopes containing their lines, while one female (Kristen) was also given a role to play. The three males, represented by Kennedy half dollars, moved magically across the nightclub floor to congregate at the table of the Lovely Maria, who was represented by a Mexican centavo. As each coin moved, the spectators opened their envelopes and read their lines. (Note to self: Don’t ask a fourteen-year-old to read a pickup line to his own mother.) Finally, all four coins were covered with a card so Maria could decide which of the three gentlemen had most impressed her. Her decision was something of a surprise to everyone.

Bill Watson performed a card trick taught to him many, many decades ago by his father, the legendary Monk Watson. One at a time, Bill showed us four blue-backed Kings and then, again one at a time, the Kings changed into four blue-backed Aces. The blue-backed Bicycles then changed into red-backed cards. It was a very visual effect and one clearly enjoyed by the entire club. Bill would later show a few interested members how to do the trick.

It turned into a night for multiple effects for most of the performers, each taking separate turns to amaze the audience. Jayden Engster started his flurry of card tricks by having a card freely selected and then changing the color of the card from blue to red. He also demonstrated an Erdnase Color Change to the delight of everyone, and then actually did another card trick his mother, Kristen, claims she never saw him do. Jayden has clearly been spending a LOT of time with his cards and has made some truly dramatic improvements in just a few months time.

Rick Fisher showed two silks, one green and one white, that he said represented the school colors for Michigan State University. Trouble was, he said, he was something of a University of Michigan fan — so he dramatically changed the silks to blue and gold, the UofM’s school colors. A little later in the evening, Rick would do a delightful hat tear routine for Kristen’s birthday, using a very limp spring wand that would reduce Kristen to giggling fits.

Rick Lansdale did a visually dramatic rope to scarf effect, and would later perform a very involved and mystifying card trick based on the story of a ship wreck. Groups of cards that started as Ace, King, Queen and Jack of each suit would strangely morph into groups of four of a kind as they found their way to a fictional desert island. Then, when rescued and returned to civilization, the cards would inexplicably morph right back again.

Krag Ryal changed a silk from one color to another several times, an effect he typically uses to open his 30 minute shows. He later followed that with a color changing card trick.

Jim Merrills asked Karen Carnell Stevenson to select a card from a borrowed deck and then found the card — with the help of a little flea he had been carrying in his pocket. The flea had a little ham in him, however, and instead of directly finding Karen’s card, the flea led Jim to an “indicator” card that signified the selected card would be found four cards from the top of the deck. Why did he do that, Jim asked? So he could be sure he got a good hand, Jim explained, displaying the top four cards to all be Aces.

With the stage closed for the evening, the group broke into smaller groups as magicians did what magicians always do. Krag showed Jayden and Austin a few moves, with Kristen watching over their shoulders, I showed Bill and Frank a series of color changes using a Bicycle deck, while Ron Davis spent a good half hour or more amazing Karen and Chelsea with a little toy set of cups and balls. People would move from group to group over the next few hours, teaching, learning, enjoying the magic. It was a really good meeting.

The suggested Theme for our September meeting is (drum roll, please) Cards. It’s hard to believe we haven’t hit this one yet, but there it is. I suspect our Members might be able to come up with a few applicable effects?

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Ring Report – July 2012

President Bill Watson opened our July meeting with a short discussion of Ring business. We had to determine what to do with our $20 treasury (bank or credit union, savings or checking) and it was also decided to sponsor a morning meet-and-greet, featuring coffee and donuts, during the upcoming Abbott’s Get-Together. It would provide an introduction of the new Abbott/Watson Ring to the greater magic community.

With business quickly concluded, we moved on to the important stuff: Magic.

The suggested theme for the evening was sponge balls, and Preston Eakins started us off with a short (and experimental) color changing sponge ball move. It was delightful and showed a lot of promise.

Rick Fisher used the classic Square Sponge Ball to good effect on Todd McAuliffe, and then Randy Morris performed his handling of a Forgetful Freddie routine using props that had literally been in his closet for over twenty years. The audience enjoyed Randy’s set and decided it should be called, “Forgetful Freddie Comes Out of the Closet.”

Bill Watson demonstrated some sponge ball false transfers for layperson, Kristen Engster. Kristen’s son, Jayden, the Ring’s official Youth Coordinator, then performed a fascinating card trick he called “Four Good Men,” involving several King transpositions. Jayden also did a little sponge ball magic after the card trick.

Doug Gancer also graced us with a card trick, one where he found the 9 of hearts in a most unusual way. Brett Flikkema amazed everyone with a story-telling deck in the tradition of Sam The Bellhop using the Shadow Stack by Tom Crosbie. Brett has those false shuffles and cuts pretty well wired.

Ron Carnell performed a Cards Across routine, moving two thought-of cards from a card packet Kristen was sitting on to a similar packet hidden beneath the ponderous posterior of Bill Watson. Surprisingly, no one was harmed in the process.

Visiting Ring 89er Todd McAuliffe showed us a quick and quite amazing card trick that resulted in the entire deck reversing itself right before our eyes. Krag Ryal concluded the evening’s entertainment with his original handling of a sponge bunny routine.

The stage was closed, but the magic continued for well over an hour as smaller groups broke off for discussion and sessioning. July was another banner turnout for the Ring 386 monthly meeting. We’re really happy to see more youth finding time in their busy summer schedules to attend the meetings and strut their stuff for us old timers. It’s also great when the parents join us — so we have some laypeople to fool. Unlike our fellow magicians, they actually applaud the effect, instead of the method.

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Ring Report – June 2012

Ring 386 assembled on June 21 for our regularly scheduled meeting (third Thursday of the month), although it was, in fact, anything but a regular meeting.

Randy Vander Wal, the I.B.M. Territorial Vice President (TVP) for Michigan, presided over a ten minute ceremonial presentation of our club’s new I.B.M. charter and letter from International President, Vanni Pule.

With more than forty people present, the ceremony and meeting were unusually well attended. Many local Colonites, non-magicians all, came to show their support and a large handful of our friends from Ring 211 drove nearly a hundred miles to help us celebrate the momentous occasion. I thing they heard there was going to be free food.

After Randy’s charter presentation, Bill Watson immediately started the evening’s entertainment with a few finger flicking sleights of dubious (but extremely humorous) origin, followed by a delightful serenade on his ukulele.

Randy Vander Wal moved from a very proper, almost somber, Charter presentation to a raucous trick that was anything BUT somber. Calling Ring President Bill Watson and Vice President Preston Eakins to the stage, Randy proceeded to dress them in one outlandish costume item after another, turning them into “medicine men” so they could ring their bells, beat their cymbals, and dance around Raja the cobra in hopes of coaxing him out of his magical snake basket. It took a few attempts (and a lot of laughter), but finally Raja emerged with a previously selected card.

Much to Bill’s and Preston’s exhausted relief.

Jack Vander Wal performed a card trick, matching numbers printed on the back of every card with his and spectator’s predictions.

Ron Carnell did a three-coin production, following by a 3 Fly routine, and concluded by turning all the silver dollars into enough chocolate coins for everyone in the audience.

Young magician Brett Flikkema amazed everyone with a card routine he called Jeopardy, patterned after the answer-followed-by-question TV game of the same name.

Jayden Engster, the Ring’s official Youth Coordinator, performed “Are You Lying?” to enthused applause.

Even after the organized entertainment concluded, and for nearly two hours afterwards, there was magic being performed in nearly every corner of the room, for two people here, for five people over there, be it a quick session on Asher’s Aces or a new handling for Out of this World. Woofle Dust floated like dust motes throughout the room.

Ring 386 extends our sincere thanks to Randy Vander Wal for going out of his way to make the presentation a very special occasion, to Bill Watson for footing the grocery bill, to Carole Ryal for her meticulous attention to detail coordinating all of the festivities, and of course to all our muggle and magical friends for their much appreciated support.

If you haven’t already done so, be sure to join us on Facebook!

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Ring Event: Ring 386 Receives Charter

The following Ring Event was submitted to the Linking Ring magazine today. I should have the full Ring Report (not the same as an Event) ready in another day or two and will, of course, post it here.

On June 21, 2012, Randy Vander Wal, Territorial Vice President, presented the Monk Watson / Percy Abbott Magic Club of Colon, Michigan, with their official I.B.M. Charter.

The newly christened Ring 386 turned the event into an evening of high celebration, serving food, drink, and LOTS of great magic to attending village muggles and visiting magi from as far away as Lansing and Grand Rapids. The result was four hours of really great fun in the historic Magic Capital of the World.

Picture 1: Bill Watson, son of legendary Monk Watson, displays the Welcome Cake declaring the magic club henceforth known as Ring 386.

Picture 2: TVP Randy Vander Wal presents the official charter to the club. From left to right: Ron Carnell, Krag Ryal, Preston Eakins, Randy Vander Wal, Bill Watson, Jayden Engster, Rick Fisher, Ron Davis.

These two pictures were also sent to the Linking Ring. The following nine-minute video, of course, was NOT submitted to the magazine, but I wanted to include it here.

Ring Report – May 2012

The newly chartered Ring 386 assembled on May 17 for their regularly scheduled meeting (third Thursday of the month). We spent a few minutes discussing business issues, including the election of officers per I.B.M. prompting. Congratulations to Bill Watson, son of legendary Monk Watson and now the first elected President of the club that bears his name.

Having dispensed with necessary business, we quickly moved on to the Magic. The suggested theme for the night was rope.

Preston Eakins, a.k.a. Scoop, opened the evening’s entertainment by tying a knot in a length of rope and then removing it. Not untying it, mind you; he simply removed it and tossed it into the audience. Ron Davis followed with a finger ring on rope routine that culminated with the discovery of the seemingly disappeared ring appearing on Ron’s magic wand.

Hugh Frisbie, a Colon alumni visiting us from faraway San Diego, demonstrated the importance of character by stunning everyone with a relatively simple Stiff Rope routine that relied on Hugh’s character-driven patter for its impact. As a longtime clown performer, including three decades playing Ronald McDonald, Hugh knows how to entertain. We thoroughly enjoyed his contributions to the evening and hope to see him again in The Magic Capital of the World sometime soon.

Ron Carnell (that’s me) took the opportunity to perform a full twelve minute rope routine, asking Ring Members for suggestions on how to cut it back to eight minutes for an upcoming competition. Rick Lansdale showed us a very different cut and restored rope routine, and Bill Watson used a long, thick length of rope to demonstrate a series of sailor’s knots and how to tie them. Bill finished with a Dragon Knot and everyone had a good laugh as the volunteer found herself “dragon” the knot across the floor. Rick Fisher performed a routine using what once was called the 1-2-1 Rope Trick, a gimmicked rope once produced and sold by nearby Abbott’s.

Fourteen-year-old Jayden Engster deviated from the suggested theme (our themes are always just suggestions) and performed a series of very nice sponge ball moves. Jayden has only been practicing magic a few short months, but is taking to it like the proverbial duck to water. (Jayden was earlier elected to the position of Youth Coordinator for the Ring.) Krag Ryal also went off-theme to share an original card trick he recently put together based on a Marlo twist Krag discovered in a decades-old magazine. Krag handed a small box to an audience volunteer, then removed the four twos from the deck, only to insert them back into the deck upside down. The deck was ribbon spread, the upside down cards separated, and then the volunteer was asked to open the box. Inside the box, inside a small packet, the four removed twos were discovered. The upside down cards were turned over to reveal the four Aces — and the deck was immediately passed around for examination.

It was another great night of magic. The Abbott/Watson Club would also like to extend a special thank you to Kristen Engster, Jayden’s mom, both for bringing her son to each meeting and for her participation as our official layperson volunteer. Any Ring who doesn’t already have a volunteer whose face can still light up with surprise and amazement should immediately go out and hire one for their meetings. It’s people like Kristen who really put the fun into the magic.