2009archive icbm

 The Inner Circle Of Bizarre Magic Convention,2009. 

DATE: November, 12th, 13th & 14th.

THIS YEARS NEW VENUE WAS: The Radisson Hotel and Conference Center, Southbury, CT, U.S.A.

The theme this year was 'The Magic of Shadow Land' and the person being honoured was: 


Lecturers included; Losander, Bob Fitch and Pasqual Perrino. 


Go direct to the ICBM website to view photographs by clicking HERE.



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#1. By Chris Walden.  (as reported daily to the Shadow Digest)

I arrived late, but was treated to the utmost in hospitality with cold pizza and hard liquor. I've only been here a few hours and already I've been treated to warm greetings, a discussion on the inevitable discovery of the supernatural and pro-wrestling videos on someone's iPhone.  You can't make this stuff up. Today was a great day. More after tomorrow.

Today was a great day. It started with a rousing lecture by Bob Neale which was different than anything I'd attended before.  Bob presented three pieces that he had developed that had to do with some level of social message.  He performed each piece, told us about his reasoning and purpose for the script and then invited open discussion about what he had done.  All of the comments were enlightening and showed the true depth of thinking and
theatrical skill that accumulates at ICBM.

After Bob was lunch.  It's always a treat to see how a restaurant deals with a sudden influx of three vans full of Bizarrists.  ("Excuse me, young man.  Are you from a bus?"  "Why yes we are.")  Today the special place was Friendly's, with specials that featured the Happy Ending Sundae.  Trips abroad made it harder to order that with a straight face.  It turned out to be two scoops of ice cream (good ice cream).

We returned to Bruce's lecture on comedy.  I'm not just saying this because Bruce can deny my access.  He presented a well thought-out lecture on the mechanics and writing of comedy along with some strong thoughts about character-driven entertainment.  His discussion about how to create characters was not just applicable for comedy.  It was a
thought-provoking guide to how a commercial character works and would be food for thought for any kind of serious presentation.  Way to go, Bruce!

Next was works in progress.  There were many interesting presentations across the board, followed by the sort of constructive discussion that always seems to come from this group of people.  A special treat for me was to take my story-driven approach to the Ambitious Card plot and discuss that with Bob Fitch, who provided some challenging ideas about
how to take it to the next level.  I got things that were not only helpful for that routine but important things to consider about my overall persona and motivations.  Wow!  I also got a demonstration of the classic crystal bell using a wine-glass suspended on a thread.  I had never seen this done, only heard descriptions.  it turned out to be something perfect for my ghost-watching events and I have one now.  I'm very excited.

Next was beer with interesting people, including more stimulating conversation about goals and methods.  I am fascinated at how unlike other magic gatherings this event is.  Every conversation is useful and though-provoking.  I will be a step further on my path after this weekend.

We reassemble for Vlad's lecture on antiquing which had some great practical ideas.  Again, there were many questions and suggestions from the audience.  Vlad's work on his commercial pieces is really pretty... and he made me feel like the results were attainable.  I can't wait to get back and start working on some things.  (Damn!  Now I need to clean
up my workbench in earnest.)

After Vlad we got a special bonus lecture from Losander on various types of thread work and his floating bubbles.  Wow!

Not too much time after the bonus lecture before the Friday evening show.  This was a great example of what creative minds can do when they get together.  I've seen many magic variety shows which all run pretty much the same way.  This program had a plot featuring two comical cleaning guys who are cleaning the Hotel Decatur... or Hotel Decay as it is sometimes known.  (There was a great visual with the sign for that joke that really had to see.  Very funny!)  All of the introductions were handled through an old entertainment log book that called back the ghosts of acts from the past.  Great stuff!

After the show it was up to the hospitality suite.  In this case, hospitality means food!  I don't bother with dinner at ICBM.  The spread in the suite is always more than plenty.  I figure the money I save on food can go to the dealers!

I have to do a couple of things and then hit the hay.  Lots more tomorrow.

Saturday has come and largely gone.  I'm reporting a little early because the official activities are over for the day, but I'm heading up to the hospitality suite-- one of the key benefits of ICBM!  I want to get some of this information out before the fog of celebration clouds my recollections.

I managed to get up in time.   This gets harder as the event goes on.  I am painfully reminded how easily I could adapt to the lifestyle of going to bed at 4:00 in the morning and waking in time for brunch!

This morning was the close-up show.  I regret that I did not take notes for the show and so I can't give you a blow-by-blow recounting.  Vlad and Adrian were MCs (as Rigor and Mortis) and there were many performances by long-time ICBM supporters as well as Bob Fitch and Losander.  It was a laid-back program which was a good start to the day.

The afternoon had Bob Fitch's lecture.  I am pretty theatrically-wired.  I don't have the background or experience that many do, but I have a deep love for what goes into putting on shows and portraying characters effectively.  I missed the beginning of the lecture because of some unfortunate lunch/transportation issues.  However, there was so much
good material in the lecture that I still got plenty to think about.  I can't really describe the lecture.  Bob has a sort of stream-of-consciousness approach which seems to grab and relate topics without being forced to have a rigid structure.  If this sounds like a left-handed compliment, it's not.  He is very effective and I think that everyone left thinking deeply about basic stagecraft and movement, breathing and speaking.  He also provided some context for solving problems in developing your character, usually with parables about magicians he has worked with.

The evening dinner was fine.  Service was polite and I had nothing to complain about my food.  The show was a fun evening.  I won't go blow-by-blow with it either, but I'll mention things that stood out for me:

* I enjoy Doctor Mambo's off-beat character.  Tonight he worked with Juju and El Bizarro with a new talisman he had created to help save El Bizarro from a terrible death.

* Doctor Bruce used pain as a way to induce psychic ability with some fun stuff.  I've been enjoying Bruce in this non-technical role.  Fun stuff.

* Evil Dan and Colleen did a cute side-show bit with some truly beautiful carnival props of those clown faces that you're supposed to knock down with a ball.  I got to help with this one and won a sock, which I will have autographed.

* Bob Fitch did coin magic.  That is not an adequate explanation.  He demonstrated all of the elements that he had talked about to do some beautiful sleight-of-hand with coins.  The magic was not about the coins... it was connected with us.  His timing is just so damned good that everything just happens.

* Leslie Melville performed with his impeccable pleasance.  He told a delightful story about a man who found a box-- that wasn't really a box, just four sides without a top and a loose bottom that had a hole in it-- which contained many five-pound notes.  Other good stuff, but that one really stood out, because in other hands it could have been tedious... but Leslie made it bright and interesting with the repetition being fun.

* Losander made things fly.  It doesn't really matter what.  Things floated and flew under some mysterious power in his presence.  He has such a command of his floating objects that they have a life of their own.  He makes them float perfectly still while he has movement around them.  He has them move with such a slow tempo that it is unearthly.  I have never seen Losander live and now I understand what levitation is supposed to look like.  Truly impressive.

* Normally we are treated to Harley Newman doing sword swallowing, but this year he did something new and attempted to catch a blow dart in mid air.  He missed the catch, but managed to parry it.  That's good enough to make you not dead when being attacked by
South American tribes.

I know that I left some stuff out... but I can't tell everything. 
Suffice that I'm glad that I was here for today and I wish that you
could have been too.

Cheers! Chris Walden.


#2  By Evildan.

Got home from another great Gathering last night. We've been going non-stop all week. We closed on a house on Monday and finished moving out of our apartment on Thursday. We got up Friday, spent two hours finding clothes and props for the Gathering and then hit the road.
We missed Bob Neale's lecture because we got there around lunchtime. I heard from others that it was really good.

We attended Bruce Barnett's lecture on building a comedic character and comedy. Great stuff. Bruce funneled info from many different resources to give a very detailed lecture that I'm sure many, if not all, benefited from.
Losander, who with Luna decided to take their vacation in Connecticut this year so that they could attend the Gathering gave another stellar lecture and various performances on levitation. The man is a master of his art. It definitely pays to pick a major and specialize.

Hotel Decay was a great late night feature. I didn't see much of it since I was a part of it and spent most of the time backstage. But it was entertaining even backstage.
Bob Fitch was at the Gathering this year. Learned a lot from his lecture. Learned even more from his workshop. It's amazing how we can improve our act by having it looked through a director's eyes. Too many times we think we can do it all, because traditionally, we have done it all....or at least the amateurs and semi-pros. But to reach the top level of performance - you have to consult with experts. Bob Fitch was a godsend to the Gathering this year. This was his first time and he expressed more than once how much he enjoyed it because it was different from other magic conventions.
The food this year at dinner was great. A big improvement from years past. Everyone got penne with vodka sauce, a salad with walnuts, mixed greens, julienne green apples and dried cranberries. I had the chicken, which was delicious. And the dinner ended with a decadent black forest cheesecake. And then we had to perform. The evening show was great. I especially enjoyed Leslie Melville and Losander. Two polished pros who are just a treat to watch.

Cathy Mousch was the queen of the hospitality suite again this year providing us with all types of goodies to eat and drink into the wee hours of the night. And the hospitality suite is the one big attraction of the Gathering. It's where you can not only rub elbows with everyone, but sit down and talk to anyone about anything from magic to any subject imaginable. The attendees at the Gathering aren't your typical "trick hungry" lot. They have what they do and they look to do it better. Don't get me wrong, they are always on the lookout to find another piece or an idea that will lead to another piece to put in their show, but they're not finger flickers looking to boost their ego by stumping the best minds in magic. There is no sense of competition here...just the sense of family. And that's why I've made it a point to be at the Gathering every year for the past 14 years since I discovered the ICBM.
Hope to see you there next year.


#3 By Leslie Melville.

Returned home this morning (Tuesday)  " jet lagged from the ICBM Gathering in Connecticut. Jet-lagged but totally content! Others have reported the activities in more detail but I wanted to say 'Congratulations' to Joe Cabral for pulling off yet another truly memorable and successful weekend .

Awesome is a word not usually in my vocabulary, but Bob Fitch was awesome! His lecture was packed with the vital tips on technique that we all need. Not just tips on tricks (hardly any of those!) but advice on breathing and timing; making an entrance, the importance of 'eye-contact' (where have I heard that before?!) in order to obtain maximum impact in our performances  " in order to improve the response to the tricks that we already do!

In my experience, most magicians can't be bothered with this  -  "Show me another trick!" is the cry. "Blow my mind  " then show me that it's so easy to do, that I can 'kill' audiences with it  " tomorrow!" Such tricks don't exist. Those who attended Bob's lecture on Saturday morning understood that. The level of intelligence displayed in the quality of questions asked was proof.

One attendee asked about voice projection  " Bob brought him out and in front of us all, gave him a five minute practical oral exercise to perform. There was an audible gasp from the group as the lowering of the questioner's vocal pitch and increased power of projection became instantly obvious!

This type of lecture is what makes Joe's events stand out! - 'Outstanding', you might say! The people who come are not of the "show me another trick" variety or the,  "Hey, see me!" brigade. They are intelligent magicians who share the same desire; to sit at the feet of people like Bob Neale, Losander  " and Bob Fitch. To learn about the philosophical and
psychological aspects of what we do  " from real experts in their craft. And as a result, elevate their own level of performance. They also come to have a great time socially! The fun and laughter throughout the day and later in the evening in the hospitality suite was non-stop.

Why more people don't attend baffles me! This is without doubt, the most consistently enjoyable weekend of my year and already I am looking forward to doing it all again next year.

Leslie Melville.


#3 By Odes Odhner.

A number of folks have already reported on this year's Gathering, but I'll offer mine just the same:
Great lectures, aimed not at selling the latest this, that, or other thing,  or at extolling the virtues of the latest stack that's somehow better than Si  Stebbins, but rather at improving performance and presentation--Check. But that goes without saying...
Great performances, full of wonder, laughter and other, darker, emotions--Check. But that goes without saying... Getting to listen in and learn as guys who work literally  hundreds of
bizarre shows per season talk shop--Check. But that goes without saying... A hospitality suite that stays open till the darkest hours--Check. But that goes without saying, too...
But then there's all the little things in between...Where else would there  be a bar where you can meditate on things both sacred and profane with  Chris Walden to one side, while Cyril the Sorcerer hand sews a crude, medieval  scabbard for his magick wand to the other?! Or talk voodoo with a fellow witch  doctor over a cold beer? Or get make-up tips from Colleen the Side Show Queen?  Or learn the subtleties of Fortunetelling Fish from someone named
Only at The Gathering, folks...only at The Gathering!
Like I say every year: If you didn't make it, you didn't just miss it; you missed out!
From The Imagitorium,
-- Odes Odhner.


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