Tag Archives: magic roadshow

Columnist Mike Weatherford Says Goodby to Las Vegas Review-Journal

Maybe I just don’t like to leave a party that’s still raging. But I’m giving up this column and full-time work for the newspaper. And while the show scene I cover isn’t really one of the reasons for doing this right now, it does seem easier to leave during this lull on the Strip, when concert headliners are replacing investment in original shows.

Does anyone really feel like another “Ka” is in the pipeline? I’ve been battling repetition, though I hope it hasn’t shown up too much in the writing. There’s full-circle pride in having covered Celine Dion’s opening night in 2003, her closing night four years later, and her return in 2011.

But if I’m going to try some creative writing and things I’ve been talking about for years (including a February 2016 podcast of ‘Matt & Mattingly’s Ice Cream Social’)? The little voice is saying, “Run, before she closes again!”

The first column with my face on it, announcing I would follow my friend Michael Paskevich, ran this same month in 2000. Part of it addressed the pending destruction of the old Circus Maximus showroom at CaesarsPalace.

At least I got here in time to close the book on the old Vegas, and even to write a book, “Cult Vegas,” about it. I rolled into town on the same day in October 1987 that Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. last stood on the same Las Vegas stage together.

A flat tire intervened somewhere around Mesquite, I wasn’t actually on the job yet (just apartment hunting), and anyway, I was the young guy hired to cover rock concerts, not the old Vegas cats. So I missed Sinatra’s old pals surprising him.

But the old Vegas reeled me in anyway. I later got to shake Davis’ hand, and to better know Sam Butera, Claude Trenier, Marty Allen and other workaday heroes of the classic-Vegas era. Blackie Hunt and Sonny King came to my book release party, and I’ll never forget Robert Goulet calling my mom to get the answer to a crossword puzzle clue. Neither would she.

Still, “Cult Vegas” was mostly research and interview recollections. My real-time experience was the Cirque du Soleil era and the reinvention of the Strip.

I covered the opening night of The Mirage and would later venture into the tent that sprung up behind it to meet the Cirque du Soleil folk bringing us “Nouvelle Experience.”

 “A lot of people are going to be very surprised that Cirque is going to do so well here,” then-Mirage (now MGM Resorts) executive Alan Feldman said in that 1992 story. To assume Cirque was too artsy for Vegas “suggests that people can’t get enough of the old Vegas stuff. If all those shows were doing turn-away business every night, that might be true.”

I chronicled every Cirque show since. But now, doesn’t it seem like Cirque is the “old stuff” and we’re waiting for some new tent full of fresh imagination to pop up somewhere in town?

Throughout this era, I always tried to write credible show reviews and to delve into the business behind the shows. If a mediocre one endures, perhaps it has more to do with the mechanics of ticket discounting. If a Broadway musical didn’t perform, maybe it wasn’t that a “Vegas audience” didn’t get it, but that it toured too much before landing here.

Everyone’s a critic now when it comes to an internet jammed with consumer opinion. But believe it or not, Paskevich was the first Review-Journal staffer to write objective show reviews. (The town was just too small, and those who say it was better when the mob ran it didn’t labor under the threat of someone digging a hole for them in the desert.)

As the second one, I hope I prodded local producers to push forward and aim higher, even if it was sometimes awkward to do both reviews and news columns about the same people. But I needed material, they needed the ink, and with very few exceptions, we all got along.

The Strip seems to have moved beyond loopy self-parodies such as “Nebulae — The Life Force,” and I kind of miss those days. But my snark level toned down over the years as I got to know the people involved, how hard they worked, and how many ways something can go off the rails.

While Las Vegas was just another stop for concert tours, reviewing the unique-to-Vegas shows “seems to be more appreciated by consumers, who likely respect a little straight talk on these pricey attractions,” I wrote in that first 2000 column.

All these years later, I hope you did.

Entertainment columnist Mike Weatherford says farewell to RJ

TAC-TIC-AL – A Review

The MagicWorld Creative Team has introduced an effect perfect as an opener or an ice breaker. Either a miniature deck of cards -or- a box of Tic Tack mints can be displayed.. and with a toss from one hand to the other, transformed into a full sized deck of cards.

The change is sudden.. and there are no wires, pulls, reels or lapping used to complete the transformation. The item is displayed in one hand, and with a simple toss to the other hand, changes into the Bicycles. The magic happens before the spectator has time to realize you’re about to fool them badly…

I like the idea of using TAC-TIC-AL as an opener because of its sudden action. It’s easy to gage from the response whether you’re in the presence of friends or foes. Lets face it.. not every spectator responds positively to your performance or your offer to perform. TAC-TIC-AL allows you to determine with a glance whether you should continue or politely move on. This in itself makes it a valuable tool in your arsenal.

TAC-TIC-AL uses a gimmick, supplied, that makes the magic possible. Actually, two gimmicks are supplied.. based on whether you want to transform the mints or the miniature deck. You will need to furnish your own deck of red or blue Bicycles, which shouldn’t be a problem. You will also need a small amount of invisible thread, furnished, to make the gimmick functional. The thread is NOT attached to your body, but is only needed in a completely self-working fashion, explained in the video. I’m not a big fan of thread in my performances.. but the use of thread in this performance is both innocuous and innocent.

The teaching method is via video.. and the link and password are supplied. The video runs about 21 minutes and is posted online. There’s nothing to download.. which is a pet peeve of mine when I DO have to download an instructional video. The sound and lighting are both very functional. There are windows behind the team and, as they are recording at night, car lights are an annoyance.. but not to the point where it would affect my ability to learn. There are also two different camera angles, which add a nice variety.

You are taught several different variations of TAC-TIC-AL. There are different ways of ‘tossing’ the deck to complete the transformation. Once the basic initial setup is complete, which should take a couple of minutes, you are good to go. I can see the typical beginner learning all the necessary handling in minutes. Although it’s not actually self-working, it’s very close, with a minimum of effort on your part.

My only problem with TAC-TIC-AL is, like many transformations, it’s angle sensitive. It’s not something you’re going to perform for a room full of people.. although there is an alternative handling that ‘almost’ takes care of this shortcoming. The angle isn’t a big problem because the spectator doesn’t know what’s coming. You can approach a spectator, or three, and ‘tacticalize’ them before they have time to ‘analyze’ you.

If you’re into close up, walk around and table hopping I would recommend TAC-TIC-AL. It’s a great little ice breaker that garners your spectators immediate attention and opens the door for your other effects. Again, it’s one of many tools that working magicians should carry in their toolbox.

Available at all magic retailers that carry the Murphy’s Magic line of products..  $29.95
(Available with Red or Blue Bicycle backs)

www.murphysmagic.com/product.aspx?id=59248

(Review by Rick Carruth)

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