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On The Road: Barcelona 7/28/17

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This month, my travels took me to Barcelona, Spain. The timing was perfect, as I booked a show there the week before one of my best friends married the love of his life in the Algarve region of Portugal. If you haven’t had a chance to visit Barcelona, you’re missing out on one of my favorite cities. From the incredible architecture to the Catalan cuisine and vibrant nightlife, there is something for everybody.

A few recommendations for your stay. The W Barcelona is an incredible hotel situated directly on the beach in Barceloneta, close to the paella shops and a 30-minute scenic walk from Barri Gotic, the Gothic Quarter that houses some of Barcelona’s best restaurants, shops and architecture. If you have a chance, check out Tapeo, a tapas bar that serves great food from land and sea. Or try the Iberco Ham, a treat in this region.

 

The real crown jewel of Barcelona is architect Antoni Gaudi, responsible for Casa Battlo, Park Guell and many other architectural masterpieces. His piece-de-resistance is the Sagrada Familia, a towering Catholic monument unparalleled worldwide. No description can prepare you for the sheer power of Gaudi’s statement, a church that embodies the beauty of nature in stone and glass. Gaudi plays with light, material and space to create a transcendent masterpiece that will create a “religious experience” even for those without a religious bone in their bodies. Regardless of beliefs, this is a building that deserves all the praise it receives.

Houdini – The Master of Self-Promotion

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If someone asked you to name the most famous magician from the past, what’s the first name that comes to mind? If I were to guess what you were thinking (and let’s be honest, that’s my job), my guess would be Harry Houdini. While Houdini was an illusionist and stunt performer, he is best known for his memorable escape acts.

What most people don’t realize, however, is that Houdini was more than just an incredible performer. He was also a master of self-promotion. It’s true that he was able to spark the fascination of his audiences with his near-death performances. But his talents went far beyond what was seen on the surface.

Houdini sought promotional assistance from a variety of traditional outlets such as radio broadcasts and public platforms. He even worked closely with the police by including them in some of his performances. His ultimate goal was to get maximum exposure for his act. By reaching out to media outlets and incorporating the police, Houdini knew that newspapers would have no choice but to write about the “Amazing Houdini.” He encapsulated PT Barnum’s mentality that he needed to get his name out in the world as much as possible.

Houdini was an original viral marketer, which allowed him to promote himself and his art to an extremely large audience. Every Houdini video, photograph and magic prop that we’ve seen is due to his own efforts to ensure he had visual records of his work.

On top of this, Houdini was also an actor, historian, film producer and pilot. It must have seemed like he was everywhere, which only added to his fame, similar to the Beatles during the 1960s.

Like Houdini, many of us have one mission: visibility. No matter what profession we pursue or dream we follow, we all have to go the extra mile and promote ourselves. How badly do you want to succeed, and what can the great Houdini teach you?

ESP / Zener Cards – Are You a Believer?

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We’ve all heard someone say they have a “sixth sense” as an explanation for an unexplainable phenomenon. But have you ever wondered whether a sixth sense, also commonly referred to as ESP, can be proven?

The short answer is that there has never been any proof of actual psychic phenomena, but it still makes for an interesting historical topic.

Zener Card

Zener cards, or ESP cards, were used to answer this challenge by conducting experiments with a deck of 25 cards depicting five different symbols (circle, Greek cross, vertical wavy lines, square, five-pointed star). Perceptual psychologist Karl Zener designed the cards in the early 1930s for experiments conducted with his colleague, a parapsychologist named J. B. Rhine.

To determine the validity of someone’s claim of ESP, Rhine created an experiment that started with shuffling the deck and picking a random card. The experimenter would then ask the person being tested which of the five symbols had been chosen, sight unseen. This would be repeated until the deck was exhausted, and they would see how many times the subject guessed correctly, which should be 20% statistically.

Unfortunately, the potential for cheating, along with sensory cues and other methodological flaws, ultimately discredited Rhine’s experiments. Due to such issues, card-guessing is no longer used in these kinds of studies.

Bill MurrayThe concept of this test has lived on through references in The Prisoner and X-Files TV shows, movies like Ghostbusters and Star Wars: Episode I, and several video games.

Rhine’s pioneering efforts, however, didn’t end there. He is credited with coining the term “parapsychology” and with founding the parapsychology lab at Duke University, the Journal of Parapsychology and the Parapsychology Association.

Today, the Rhine Research Center is an independent, non-profit organization that takes a scientific approach to anomalous phenomena and exceptional human experience, where research about ESP, psychic phenomena and parapsychology continues to be conducted. Its mission is to study unexplainable phenomena that a person may experience and to share its findings and resources with the public through online courses, educational events and meetings.

ESP and mentalism aren’t that far off from one another. Mentalism might seem to imply that a person has a kind of supernatural power, similar to someone having a sixth sense. But it’s through a keen sense of observation, combined with a knowledge of human psychology and behavior, that a professional mentalist like myself seems to pull thoughts from people’s minds, influence their behavior onstage and predict the outcome of future events.

Both imply that the mind is more complex than we fully understand. That’s the truly exciting part for me. And for my audiences. Mentalists and illusionists are now being studied by neuroscientists to help determine exactly why we think and believe the things that we do.

 

So, are you a believer?

Tips For Successful Meeting Entertainment

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As an entertainer, I see events from a slightly different perspective from the rest of the audience. And with an interactive performer, that lens changes even more. Here are a few simple tips that I’ve found make for the best interactive entertainment experience.

Dinners

At many events, your audience will be at tabled rounds. That means about 50% of your group is facing away from the performer. Add to that distractions from servers, glasses clanking and guests busy enjoying their meals, and you’ll have a performance that loses 20% of its steam before it has even begun. So schedule your performance immediately following dinner, after dessert has been plated and coffee has been poured. Then you can halt service until after the show is completed, and everybody will be able to enjoy the program to its fullest.

 Speeches

Does the CEO need to give a speech? Is somebody in the company a stand-up comic on the side and wants to roast the incoming board? These can all be great components of an event, but I always recommend that they come after the main entertainment if they will be longer than 15 minutes. Guests have an energy spike immediately following dinner, followed by a descent into “food coma.” By scheduling entertainment first, you’ll ensure that the energy level of your group stays lifted.

Awards

Like speeches, awards can often take way too long. And as much as we would wish otherwise, most employees and peers don’t care about the awards that they or their friends are not receiving. For award presentations longer than 20 minutes, it’s advisable to end the evening with them rather than putting the entertainment last. More importantly, this will prevent your guests from leaving early and missing the entertainment entirely!

Dancing

My top rule. Under no circumstance should you separate your entertainment from your audience with a dance floor (unless your entertainment is a band). Put the dance floor at the back of the room, or bring chairs in to fill in the dance floor while your guests enjoy the entertainment. Otherwise, you make front row seats the equivalent of mid-row seats, and the people in the back may have issues seeing the show clearly.

Surprise!

Should we surprise our guests by hiding the entertainment from them? Under my advice, no. Think about going to a movie or a concert. If you have some knowledge of what you’re about to see, you’ll be able to enjoy the program more. That’s one of the reasons I enjoy performing close-up illusions and mind reading before taking the stage for the full group. It gives your guests the chance to create a buzz in the room, preparing them to appreciate the performance to its fullest.

On The Road: Washington D.C., June 13, 2017

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From towering monuments celebrating our nation’s heritage to incredible museums and decadent cuisine, Washington, D.C., offers something for everybody in a compact 68-sq.-mi. city. With my travel schedule typically seeing me fly in and out with little time to spare, it was nice to arrive a couple days early after a show in New York. I’ve been to D.C. many times, but haven’t had a chance to explore it for nearly two decades.

 

Hotel Recommendation, The Westin City Center

Located on M Street, you’re within walking distance of the National Mall. I didn’t eat at the hotel, but the restaurants looked like they served good quality food, and 24-hour room service was available. The gym was better than many, and you’re very close to a CVS and coffee shops for a morning pick-me-up!

 

What To Explore

elephantBecause I’m often in a city only briefly, I’ve learned to maximize sightseeing in a tight time span. Fortunately, many of the best things to see in D.C. are within the approximately two square miles of the National Mall. From the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol Building and White House, the nation’s history is vibrantly displayed for free public consumption.

One of the crown jewels of the city is the diverse Smithsonian Institute, also free for everybody. There was no way to explore all 19 museums, but I was able to enjoy the American History Museum, the Natural History Museum, the Air & Space Museum and the Hirshhorn. Collectively, it was an experience as interesting as it is controversial, from Abraham Lincoln’s hat to the Wright Brothers plane, as well as the Fénykövi Elephant that was killed in the 1950s for display in the Natural History Museum’s famous rotunda.

 

Where To Dine

dinnerI had the pleasure of dining at Fiola, one of D.C.’s finest restaurants. And the meal, while expensive, did not disappoint. In fact, it was one of the best restaurants that I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying. From poached halibut in a sea foam to a delicious squab, the meals were sourced from some of the best locations in the nation and brought to life by chef Fabio Trabocchi.

Another restaurant receiving my highest recommendation is Fish by Jose Andres, located in the MGM National Harbor. Like Fiola, Fish sources its ingredients from the best farms and fish markets in the country. The calamari was the best I’ve ever had, and their crab mac n’ cheese is to die for.

 

The Show

As one of the world’s leading cybersecurity firms, iboss has offices in Boston and San Diego. At the annual Gartner Security & Risk Management Summit, I put together a customized program that combines mind reading, illusion and technology. We had a hospitality suite at the Gaylord Hotel & Convention Center, where my job was to entertain with close-up mind reading during the three-hour program, as well as to include two completely different shows for the attendees that would draw in new prospects as well as entertain existing clientele. The show was a huge success. Thank you to iboss for the great opportunity to collaborate and create an immersive experience for your guests!

The 2016 San Diego Fringe Festival

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Want to skip the info, and jump straight to sales? Otherwise, read on!
Ticket Sales: http://sdfringe.ticketleap.com/distorted-reality-and-fuzzy-math/

I’ll be performing my live mentalism show, Distorted Reality (and Fuzzy Math), for 5 PERFORMANCES ONLY at the end of this month! People have been asking when they can come see my show, and now is your chance! The show will be at the 10th Avenue Theater in San Diego, in conjunction with the San Diego Fringe Festival. Tickets are only $10 each (plus a one time festival $5 fee), and the show has a TON of new material that I’ve been working on for the past 3 years.

Once the tickets are gone, there will be no more offered, so grab some extras for your friends and family! Please drop me an email or a text to let me know which performance you will attend. Looking forward to seeing you there.

Show Dates / Times

Friday, June 24: 7:30pm
Sunday, June 26: 1:00pm
Monday, June 27: 4:00pm
Friday, July 1: 6:00pm
Saturday, July 2: 9:00pm

Ticket Sales: http://sdfringe.ticketleap.com/distorted-reality-and-fuzzy-math/

If you want to share with friends and family, please use the hashtag #distortedreality.

Talk to you soon, and let me know if you have any questions!

Interactive Valentine’s Day Mentalism – you do the magic!

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I wanted to try something new for everybody this year, and created an interactive Valentine’s Day experience to share with your friends and family! Enjoy, and please share!