The Magic of Focus

“Concentrate all your thoughts upon the work at hand. The sun’s rays do not burn until brought to a focus.
– Alexander Graham Bell

Dear Friends:

As I write this Jeff and Eugene and most of our faculty are off to host a teen workshop at this year’s combined IBM/SAM national convention in Louisville. I hope many of you reading this will see them there.  Jeff will be leaving the convention early, as he is booked to appear at FantasyCon in Salt Lake City July 3-5. And so it has fallen to me to write you all today.

Tobias Beckwith

Many of you are already aware that I recently released my new book Beyond Deception, Vol. 2: From the Wizard’s Corner. It’s a collection and expansion of my “Wizard’s Corner” segment on our Monday Night Mystery School show (www.mcbridemagic.tv). At this point, the book has been out just under 2 months, and it has been receiving some nice feedback.  But I’m not here to pitch the book.

I’m more interested in talking about focus. That’s what was required to get the book finished and published.  For an hour or two every day for several months, I set aside time just to work on that project. No matter what else happened, I managed to spend at least one hour focusing intently on the book…until it was completed. And that kind of focus is just what you need, too, in order to complete whatever that big project you’ve been dreaming about – whether it’s a new effect, a book of your own, or your own show.

So, I thought I’d share a bit that’s from Beyond Deception, Vol. 2 with you today. As it happens, it’s all about the importance of focus in our work as magicians. I hope you’ll be inspired:

I remember when I first met Eugene Burger over the phone as we were planning the first Mystery School.  I had read one or two of his books, and had begun teaching myself to do magic again, after some 20 years away from it.  I remember telling Eugene, “I’ve got about 20 tricks I can do reasonably well again…of course it’s not like what a real professional could do.”

“Oh?” said Eugene. “I’ve finally got my working repertory down to 15 tricks.  I’ve been thinking of I could get it to just 12, I could be really good!”

That was 20 years ago, and I’ve learned a lot from Eugene and many others since then.  One of the biggest things is that finding one or two things that really inspire you,  and giving them your full focus is a far better strategy for success than trying to pursue a hundred different paths.

As we say in some of our advertising for the Magic & Mystery School:  You probably already have too much magic stuff.  Tricks, gimmicks, etc.  You probably know too many tricks, have too many books and videos – and most of you are still wondering why you haven’t hit the big time in terms of your success.

Why not take just one thing, one short piece, and work on that piece until it is the best version of that piece in the world.  Perhaps it will have a more creative or moving story.  Perhaps it will be more deceptive and magical than anyone else’s presentation of that effect.  Maybe you will just become the best performer of that effect, engaging with your audiences more fully and effectively than anyone else.  But just one such finished, polished, “best in class” piece can make all the difference.

Think for a moment of how it feels to be that person who knows and can perform 100 tricks…all just adequately.  How do friends and audience respond?  How do you feel being barely good enough when performing?  Do you think that is the best way to serve the art form you’ve chosen?

Then think of how it must feel to know you have just performed one thing better than anyone else in the world has ever done.  How will you stand, talk, sleep at night, knowing you are the absolute BEST at that one thing?

There’s only one way to reach that state…and it is through intense, laser-like focus on one thing.

End of excerpt. If you want to read more: http://tinyurl.com/mq8nokn

It’s that time of year: Magic Festival and Convention time! Jeff has just returned from Spain, where his performances received standing ovations at the 33rd Congreso Mágico Nacional in Cáceres. He also spent time hosted by Angel Vicente, exploring the very rich magic scene in Madrid.

Jeff McBride in Spain

Later this month, Jeff will be visiting a different kind of magic festival: first, the Starwood Festival in Ohio, and then Illumination, in Ohio. If you’re amongst the fire circle festival crowd, you’ll already know about these — and if you’re not, but are interested, I’ll just suggest you Google them.

In between festivals, Jeff will be taking his full evening show to The Orleans in a rare Las Vegas booking that’s open to the general public. The booking is sponsored by the Hypnothoughts Live Conference, organized by our friend, Richard Clark. If you live in Vegas, or will be visiting in mid-July, this is your chance to catch Jeff’s full show on a major casino showroom stage. Not to be missed! Click here to buy tickets now. (http://www.orleanscasino.com/entertain/event-calendar).

As part of the Hypnothoughts Conference, Jeff will also be lecturing, and offering a special one-day workshop on Magic & Mentalism for Hypnotists, co-taught by Richard Nongard. Learn more and get registered here: http://www.htlive.net/jeff-mcbride-richard-nongard/

OK… that’s it for now. Now, go and focus on whatever YOU need to do to help you lift your magic to the next level. I’m off to rehearse one of the pieces from my “The Wizard’s Way” talk myself. Jeff will be back for the mid-July Muse.

Till then, enjoy a fantastic and festive summer!

Magically yours,
Tobias Beckwith
tobias@yourmagic.com

The Million Dollar Question?

“I’d like to live as a poor man with lots of money.
– Pablo Picasso

Dear Friends:

One of the rather crass questions magicians are asked most often is:

“If you were a real magician, couldn’t you just pull money from the air?” or, “Can you make a million dollars appear for me?”

Actually money does not always “work like magic,” and solve all of life’s problems.  In fact, money can actually cause the problems! Have you read the stories of lottery winners that have had their lives totally ruined by getting “all the money they ever dreamed of?”

http://coed.com/2012/11/30/5-sad-winning-lottery-stories-to-make-powerball-losers-feel-better/

Joshua Levin is one of the most talented artists I know.  He is a PhD in Anthropology teaching here at The College of Southern Nevada. He is a master musician, painter, poet and a family man. Here is one of his recent paintings, exploring his relationship to the world of money. Here Joshua explores the difference between spiritual gold and that mundane matter that we kill and die for.

Take a few moments to look deeply into the symbolism of this painting.

Joshua’s art will astonish you! http://art.joshualevin.org

Money
It is my pleasure to introduce many of you to Joshua’s work… for more of his art go here:

https://sites.google.com/site/mythfitsart/

Joshua has an amazing ability to “spark” other people’s creativity. He empowers them to find the art inside of them and to coax it out into the world. I love that about him! He is a modern master of art and expression.

If you desire, you can take the course Art In-Cross Cultural Perspective with Joshua online!

https://sites.google.com/site/mythfitsart/home/anth204

Is what you are doing for money, what you love to do for the rest of your life?

“Right livelihood” is the concept of doing what you love to do, in a way that does not harm others. Sometimes it takes courage and persistence to get the “right livelihood” part of the the financial equation right.  Read these amazing stories, they will inspire you to be patient and to follow your bliss.

http://money.cnn.com/gallery/luxury/2014/06/01/self-made-billionaires/index.html

It is not how much you have, but how little you need… that is the key to financial success!

When I see a Lamborghini I don’t think,”Wow! How much money does that person have?” I think, “Wow! how much money does he owe?”
Freedom from financial worry is what I’m after.

Instead of asking “How can I make more money from my art?” Try asking, “How can I make more art with my money?”

Caduceus Installation
Here is a photo of Joshua’s sculptural-painting Arum. This is an inspirational art piece I commissioned from him to adorn our movement theater wing of the Magic & Mystery School.

You can visit our museum and art gallery when you attend our classes. For a detailed look of Joshua’s art go here https://sites.google.com/site/mythfitsart/home/sculpture/aurum

One of the ways I’m working on “right livelihood” is by making house calls!

House calls? Yes! The Show Doctor is making house calls! Each week magicians from all over world tune into our online school. This month our shows are about Wisdom from Wizards.

Get your free trial here:

http://virtual.magicalwisdom.com/members/signup

Are you living your dream?

Or… Have you ever had the desire to just “get away” from the “real world?” Ever consider leaving your present life and starting new again? Some people get stuck in the same old patterns, while others break out of the pack, spread their wings and FLY! Now you can start a new life… just step out onto the street and begin again!

Street Magic – Las Vegas!

Live the drea m- Perform the magic you love, and make a great living doing it! Become a street magician and see the world! We can show you how…

http://www.magicalwisdom.com/events#467

We even help our students by offering scholarships! What more can we do to help — drive to your home and pick you up?!  http://www.magicalwisdom.com/scholarships

Wonderground Rocks Las Vegas

It has been 5 years since Chris Randall has appeared at the Wonderground. Chris is one of the original Wonderground Players… and now he comes home. Chris Randall returns with his full evening show Scandal — The Only Adult Magic Show in Las Vegas.

Scandal
The 10:00 PM show features world class manipulation, edgy comedy, and sizzling hot illusions. Scandal features an amazing cast starring Melanie Kramer, Bizzarro and Award Winning Magician Mondre. Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime show at this month’s Wonderground.

Also appearing: Gypsy music by Jon D’Ark

8PM Early Stage:
Your Host, the elegant Tim Wise
Scott Steelfyre – A Fantasy in Flames
Smoothini- The Ghetto Houdini! – Direct from America’s Got Talent!

9PM Diamond Parlor Room:
Your host- the charming Kurt Freitag
Joe Atmore – Master of Mentalism & Mystery

Art by Areeya and Suzanne, Tarot readings and Psychic Sideshow with Alan Scott, Video by Scott Steelfyre, Photography by Sheryl Garrett ,DJ David Rosario, The New World Rythmatism Dancers and more!

On Tour in Spain!

Yes, I’m packing again, this time for a tour of Spain. I’m taking BEYOND DECEPTION Volume 2, as reading material. Tobias did a fantastic job on this book. “BD2″ is packed with a lifetime of wisdom and magical inspiration. I suggest you read a sample and then get your copy here:

http://www.beyonddeception.com/volume-2.html

I love to perform for Spanish audiences. And the Spanish magicians — especially the close-up artists — are some of the best in the world. If you are in Spain join me here: http://magiacaceres2014.es

So as they say on Star Trek, “Live long and prosper!”

Sincerely,
Jeff McBride
jeff@mcbridemagic.com

The Challenge of Time

Eugene BurgerI would like to begin by congratulating my friend, Michael Carbonaro, for his new show, “The Carbonaro Effect,” which airs on Thursday evenings at 10.00 pm (Pacific time) on TRU TV. Be sure to check it out!

I first met Michael when he attended a Mystery School in 1999. He was a bright and attentive student who was clearly present. This was the first time that Michael performed what has become one of his signature pieces, Shaving Dream. Even this early version, which didn’t have a name, was very impressive. Michael’s performance had great impact on the audience. Everyone was talking about it afterward. And Michael was still a teenager!

Michael and I stayed in contact over the years and our friendship grew. A few years ago, when Jeff decided to bring the Mystery School faculty and students to the Magic Castle in Hollywood to perform for a week, I opted to perform in the Peller Theater. To make things easy, I wanted someone to perform with me. Michael Carbonaro was my first choice. Together, we created a show, “Dark Stories,” which we have now performed several years at the Magic Castle and in other places as well (such as Erika Larsen’s quite fabulous “Beyond Brookledge” event last year).

This coming July, Michael and I will present an extended version of “Dark Stories” at the James Randi TAM (The Amazing Meeting) event in Las Vegas.

Dark Stories:  Eugene Burger and Michael Carbonaro
Photo credit: Roger Fojas

Need I say that Michael is a delight to work with? He is. He is creative and funny and still serious and open to ideas and also ready with many amazing ideas of his own. I love to work with him. And I was thrilled when he used my effect, Shotglass Surprise, on the pilot episode of “The Carbonaro Effect.” You can see Michael’s very clever and entertaining presentation at:

The Carbonaro Effect: Collapsible Whiskey Shot
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8447kS90dk

It is exciting when a friend gets a television show of their own. One feels so happy for them. Having a show of our own is a dream that is shared by so many magicians. Do you have a dream of your own TV show? If you do, I think you might ask yourself one very important question: Are you really ready for your own TV show? If the offer came unexpectedly to you, would you be up for the challenge? Yes, it’s a tough question!

And this brings us to the subject of my essay. It is time. It is the ability to perform for the specific   time that has been allotted to us. Not to go over. Not to do more time than expected.

Over the years, I have been surprised on many, many occasions as I watched professional  magicians fail to meet the time restrictions given to them. Although they sometimes go under their time, most often they go well over the time they were allotted. If scheduled to perform for ten minutes, they might perform for fifteen or twenty. If asked to perform for thirty minutes, they might instead perform for forty-five. I see this at magic conventions and at local magic shows. I see it in many, many countries. At home, I see it at Magic Chicago, the monthly magic show soon in its tenth year. It appears that a large number of magicians, both amateur and professional, have very little sense of performance time. Evidently, it doesn’t seem too important to them. It probably isn’t as important as the magic tricks that dance in their thoughts.

But it is important!  It is important if you want to be — or be seen as — a professional magician. As I have explained many times, my own first international television appearance was on the Paul Daniels Show in England. I had two spots: the first was four-and-a-half minutes, the second was three-and-a-half minutes. This was a live television show. It was not a taped show. My job was to come in on time. If I went over, I would be taking time away from the star of the show. If I went under time, Paul would have to make up my time.

I think that I was successful for two reasons. First, there was a large clock with a second hand next to the camera so I could watch the movement of time. Second, I work with scripts for each of my magical pieces and so, when there were 30 seconds left, I could begin to speed up or slow down — and then finish precisely on the second. I approached it both as a challenge and a game. On the set, I received many compliments. And I was asked to return for Paul’s live show the next year. But the secret was having a real script — and also understanding how to deliver it.

And so when magicians perform for me — either in Chicago or in classes with Jeff in Las Vegas — I listen to what is being said. I want to help these magicians improve what they are saying.

Do you work with a real script?

Do you have the ability to bring your performances in on time?

Time is a great challenge. Yet, if you do get your own television show one day, these are the skills that you might need for your success. If you have them, I suspect that you will be very happy and thankful.

Mayfire Inspirations

Greetings Magic-lovers,

I’m inspired to share some of our plans for May.

“I have always loved the desert. One sits down on a desert sand dune, sees nothing, hears nothing. Yet through the silence something throbs, and gleams…” 
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Jeff & Abigail McBride

I love touring, meeting new friends and seeing new places… but now and then, I just want to get away! It is important to share time with my love, Abbi.  We go deep into the desert and join some of our friends to play music and dance under the moonlight and around the campfire.

“The desert has its holiness of silence, the crowd its holiness of conversation.”
Walter Elliot

Each year, Abbi and I take some time to retreat into the desert for our MayFire celebration. It is a music retreat , and we invite some of our friends to join us. We have been re-creating ourselves each year in the Valley of Fire State park. We love the beauty and vastness of the land, and each night we build a fire and make music with our friends. You can see a bit of what we do here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pfpwPt0a2Tk

Fire Circle

When we end our vacation each year we come back refreshed and renewed, full of ideas to share with our friends and families. This is where we get inspiration that often finds its way into our performances.

A few years ago my time in the desert inspired a new magic routine… The BEKOS effect! See Abbi perform it 1 minute into this video:

http://www.yourmagic.com/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=253

Best Ever Knots Off Silk

If you watch the following clip, you will see that the future of magic is in good hands!  You’ll see the young magician Deanna perform the BEKOS effect at 1 min into the clip:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OXdOi3T5xKg

“People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing.  That’s why we recommend it daily.”
–Zig Ziglar

Every Monday we host a magic class online. Our aim is to inspire your creativity…  you are invited! It’s like a global magic lecture:

Mystery School Monday

This month, we talk about how to structure a proper show. The faculty of our school will take turns each month talking about the best show formats and what we can learn from the masters on how to construct the perfect magic show!

You can become a member of our online school here:

http://virtual.magicalwisdom.com/tv

The Secret Arts Journal

…has a new essay by Brian Watson on Cups and Balls, you may also want to read about Simple Gifts, and John Tudor’s Experiments in Magic Theater. This online zine is free to all of our friends! Be inspired and read more: http://www.secretartjournal.com

Wonderground

Wonderground

…continues to gather the Las Vegas stars of magic. We are the hub of the Las Vegas Magic community and it seems everyone shows up! Last month saw Murray, Jan Rouven, Juliana Chen, and Kevin James in the audience and onstage was Xavier Mortimer from Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson show: One. I even debuted my Magic Castle close-up show in the Diamond Parlor room!

This month Dan Sperry will be onstage with a new creation! I have part 2 of my Magic Castle act to show you!

As I sign off now, I’m packing for the camping trip and will be seeking new inspiration to share with you soon!

See you on tour or around the fire!

Jeff

« Older Entries