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22 entries from July 2006

Day 2 in London

Our missing bag finally appeared this morning! (Apparently it decided to take a later flight…) After a happy re-union we took the tube and visited Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station for the obligatory Harry Potter shot.

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Then it was off to the British Museum where we played 'Ur', the world's oldest board game. We strolled down a veritable Monopoly board of London streets: Oxford St, Bow St, The Strand, and even Leicester Square (but I couldn’t find Electric Company anywhere!) We visited Covent Garden and Piccadilly Circus and then headed across the Thames to Shakespeare's Globe Theatre and the Tate Museum of Modern Art (where we bumped into American magician Jon Armstrong en route to FISM).

Sue-Anne got a very pleasant surprise while we were shopping in Tesco’s. She wandered into the wine section of the store and a young security guard stopped her and asked her how old she was. After she told him she asked why and he pointed to the sign that read 'You must be over 21 to buy alcohol'. She told me it must have been the harsh backlighting in the store that threw him off, but whatever the reason it made her day.

After a quick freshen up in our hotel we journeyed back to the West End area where we saw ‘Mary Poppins’. Two word review. “See it!” It set us back about $150 Aussie dollars a ticket and it’s worth twice that. Amazing performances and absolutely state-of-the-art special effects have been combined with the catchy songs and well-loved story of the movie and it is a truly magical night at the theatre.

If you do decide to head on over to London to see the show, I’ll leave you with our five top travel tips all picked up in the last 48 hours:

1 – Sure, the Heathrow Express is the quickest way from the airport to the city (20 mins) but taking the Tube (30 mins) is a LOT cheaper. ₤26 vs ₤6 for a return ticket.

2 – If you plan on buying an all-day ticket on the Tube, buy it after 9.30am when the price drops from ₤6.20 to ₤3.

3 – If you want internet access, the going rate seems to be 40p for 30-40 mins. Avoid places like Starbucks and their T-Mobile hotspots at ₤5 an hour.

4 – ‘Pret’ is a good place to get great food for breakfast or lunch at a very reasonable price. (Soft drinks 65p a can, sandwiches around ₤2).

5 – Bottled water is essential in the current heatwave in unair-conditioned London. The going rate seems to be between ₤1.10 to ₤2.20 a bottle (that’s $2.75 to $5.50 in Aussie dollars) but if you go to Tesco’s you can get a six-pack for only ₤1.33.

Oh, and bring your own rubber thongs. Look how much they're going for in London shops!!! (Click on the pics to see the prices).

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Live from London!

We made it to the UK and we've already seen our fair share of magic. The Amazing Qantas has made one of our bags disappear without a trace. We await, with great anticipation, the second half of the act when they make it reappear in our hotel...

Other than that, our trip has been pretty darn good so far. We survived the 24 hour flight quite well and arrived here in London at 5am. How did we avoid jetlag? Simple! We still haven't been to sleep!

We've explored Hyde Park (very dry with uncut brown grass to make us feel like we're in the Aussie bush), we had breakfast at Harrod's 102, we explored the Science Museum, the Earth Museum, and the Natural History Museum before visiting the Queen in Buckingham Palace. (She really does have a very nice place!). We took the tube back to our Hyde Park Hotel and made our way to Starbucks where we discovered their 'WiFi Hotspot' wasn't free (five pounds an hour!) so we've adjourned to a nearby internet cafe where 50p gets you 30 minutes.

Tomorrow we hit the West End to see Mary Poppins, (the musical), then we catch up with our South African friends before heading off to FISM.

Time to head back to the hotel though and see if Qantas have pulled anything out of their sleeves  for us yet...


Doesn't this sound like a fun convention

Greetings Everyone!
The Cannon's Great Escapes 4th Annual Escape Artists Convention is coming, September 29, 30 and October 1, 2006!  We're looking forward to seeing everyone again, as well as meeting many new friends!
This year we have a special guest:  Television Superstar CRISS ANGEL will be stopping by to say hello and talk about some of his recent exploits! Criss has performed some very outrageous escapes on his hit series "MindFreak", including two, soon-to-be-aired escapes:  "Strait Jacket Keel Haul", and "Shark Crate Escape".  I had the honor of working with Criss on these dare-devil stunts in the Mexican/Caribbean Riviera, and I can personally tell you that both of these escapes were extremely dangerous.  Here is your chance to ask Criss questions about his escapes and what it takes to produce a weekly TV series!    
This year's line-up is outstanding:  Friday Night Reception will feature the "Escaped Artist", JOE FOX!  You all know what a crazy guy Joe is, and he will show us his act that is presently playing the Los Angeles Nite Club scene.  Then we will all get to watch KRISTEN JOHNSON attempt to escape from her famous FULL VIEW Water Torture Cell!  This escape is fast becoming one of the most talked-about stunts in the world of escapology!  Afterwards, you are invited to watch "The Escapist", starring BILL SHIRK!  Bill is of course legendary for his insanely-dangerous escapes that he has performed over the years.    
On Saturday, the dealer tables will open, and, our "Handcuff Picking, and Lock Picking" contests will take place!  All winners will receive CASH PRIZES!  Lectures will be presented by KEVIN RIDGEWAY and BILL SHIRK!  That evening, we will once again present the coveted "Silver Cuffs Award" to this year's recipient.  This is always a special part of the convention.  Then, our BIG EVENING GALA ESCAPE SHOW begins!  This year's line-up is outstanding:  Our Emcee is back this year by popular demand.  I'm talking about ROBERT BAXT!  Last year he was a tremendous hit, and everyone commented on re-securing him for this year!  Then, the Escapist himself, BILL SHIRK has a very radical escape planned that will turn you upside-down!  This will be very exciting.  Next, straight from the Hollywood Magic Castle, comes MATT MARCY!  His take on a handcuff escape is NUTS!  This guy will have you holding your side in laughter.  MARK & SHEILA CANNON have a unique escape planned just for this show (as long as Mark doesn't get too claustrophobic!).  And then, we are extremely honored to present as this year's Featured Finale', Mr. THOMAS SOLOMON!  Thomas starred in his own television escape special in the UK, and met with very positive critical acclaim in the press!  He is also the recipient of the PAX TV "Escape Artist of the Year" award, and has even received positive reviews form the President of the United States!  This should be a perfect way to cap the show!       
On Sunday the dealer tables will re-open, and the "Harry Cooke/American Wizard" Multi-Media docu/lecture will be presented.  Finally, we will challenge you all for a BIG CASH PRIZE, with the special Surprise Escape Contest!       
This year, 50% of all proceeds from the Saturday evening's Gala Show and Silver Cuffs Awards Ceremony will be donated to the Ronald McDonald House in Loma Linda, California.  The Ronald McDonald House provides a home for families of seriously ill children who live too far away to travel each day.  We are very honored to be helping in some small way.  We will have a larger room this year, and it's a good thing, because registrations are going fast!  Already conventioneers from Europe, as well as North America are confirmed.  You don't want to miss out!  Just click on the link below to register, and obtain hotel information, etc.  Our convention is convenient, in that you only have to fly in to the Ontario International airport (ONT) in Ontario, California, and a free airport shuttle will transport you to the convention at the beautiful Ontario Airport DoubleTree Hotel!  CANNON'S GREAT ESCAPES 4TH ANNUAL ESCAPE ARTIST CONVENTION! dates are September 29 - October 1, 2006 in Ontario, California, USA  http://www.CannonsGreatEscapes.com/Conv2006.htm   Note:  DEALERS, Register NOW to secure a table, as these are very limited.
SPECIAL REQUEST:  We are asking everyone to please bring your strait jacket!  We are hoping to take a photograph of as many performers in a strait jacket as possible all at once!  This should be lots of fun, and we intend to send the photo into various magic magazines, newspapers, etc.  We hope you will join in on the fun!  Of course, if you don't already own a strait jacket, there will be plenty available at various dealer's tables.   
If you haven't registered for the convention yet, don't delay, as there will be something there for each one of you; contests, shows, lectures, cinema night, and much more. You don't want to miss out!  And, be sure to bring plenty of spending money, because there will be dealers there to please everyone with antique cuffs, Houdiniana, books, escapes, general magic, subscriptions, etc.  The dealer's tables are going fast! 

See you in September!
Mark & Sheila
Cannon's Great Escapes
P.O. Box 703
Yucaipa, CA  92399
USA
www.CannonsGreatEscapes.com
MagicDuo@CannonsGreatEscapes.com

P.S.  We've added lots of new, fun products to our website recently.  Check them out at http://www.CannonsGreatEscapes.com/New_items.html
Please come by and say "Hi" to us at the world famous Hollywood Magic Castle this Oct. 23 - 29, 2006 when we present our Tribute to Houdini Escape Show on the 80th Anniversary of his death.  For more details, visit the Magic Castle Website - www.magiccastle.com

Off we go!

We head off to FISM tomorrow. So posts on this blog might be a little sporadic for the next three weeks... however we hope to be able to give you some big updates from Stockholm by Sunday week!

The Magic Unlimited office will still be open, so if you're looking to book some entertainment for an upcoming event, just give us a call on (03) 9486 4445.


Australia's Still Looking For Talent

The producers of the new Channel Seven show 'Australia's Got Talent' have got some updates for those wishing to audition for their new talent search show.

The Adelaide and Perth auditions have finished.

The Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane auditions are on this Saturday (July 29) at the following locations:
SYDNEY - Crystal Palace, Luna Park, Milson's Point.
MELBOURNE - Rendezvous Hotel, 328 Flinders St, Melbourne.
BRISBANE - Mercure Hotel, 85-87 North Quay, Brisbane.

You can register anytime from 9am to 3pm.

However, as a special "shortcut" for those reading this blog, if you email your contact details to kate.finister@crackerjack.com.au with your name, age, contact email and what you'll be performing, then ask for the appropriate casting director in your city (ask for Kate in Sydney, Fiona in Melbourne and Tracey in Brisbane) you won't need to line up nearly as long as everyone else.

Good luck!


Sydney Dreams of Jeannie!

SonySue-Anne spent yesterday in Sydney as 'Jeannie' for the Australian launch of the DVD 'I Dream of Jeannie - Season One'. Sony arranged for her to appear at the JBHiFi Store in The Galeries Victoria in the heart of the city and it was a big success.

Sue-Anne spent most of the afternoon and evening posing for photographs with Jeannie fans, and Sony had arranged for a camera and printer so customers could take their photos home with them.

Jeanniedvd1Sue-Anne said that reactions ranged from excited and delighted to stunned when people suddenly found themselves face to face with 'Jeannie'.

The four-disc set of DVDs is now available Australia-wide in all good DVD stores and the second season (which was released ten days ago in the USA) will be available here in a few months.


Great place for a convention...

We were up in Maroochydore for the Bright Eyes Sunglasses 21st Birthday Conference and it was a lot of fun. Sue-Anne and I did close-up magic before dinner, then a 45 minute show later in the evening. However, the guests seemed to enjoy the magic so much that I kept getting called back to various tables to show them “just one more trick”. I think I was getting as much of a buzz improvising effects as the guests were and before I knew it, it was 1.00am!

The venue was the Novotel Twin Waters Resort and I must give the staff a big thumbs up for the great hospitality and service during our stay. I couldn’t help but think that it would be a great place to hold a close-up magic convention. Imagine it, a convention at a semi-tropical resort, set around a lagoon, where you could bring your whole family. Fly in on the Friday night (with less than 20kgs of luggage *g*) and enjoy an opening night close up show. Have a relaxing morning program the next day followed by lectures and workshops in the afternoon while your family enjoys the resort’s facilities. A dinner and show on Saturday night and some final workshops on the Sunday morning.

The convention could be limited to fifty registrants at $250 each, with two international guests, and your accommodation would be around $150 per night.

I wonder if Barry Govan would consider relocating his next Ballarat convention to a slighter warmer destination….?


Travel tales...

Jet Another tale of travel tramaus today, but not relating to Qantas this time. (Well, not technically, the story involves Jetstar, the no-frills airline created by Qantas).

A few years ago, Qantas stopped flying to certain less profitable holiday destinations such as Maroochydore and replaced their regular services with those of Jetstar. Yesterday we had to do a show in Maroochydore and the client booked us on Jetstar (a first for us).

Jetstar prides itself on “low prices” so the cost for our return tickets was only $180 each (plus GST & credit card fee bringing it up to $202 each). We travel with five pieces of luggage and, as we are Gold Frequent Flyers, this all goes free when we fly Qantas. Not so on Jetstar.

On checking in we we told we only get a 20kg baggage allowance each – for every kg over that Jetstar charges $7 extra. So flying up to Maroochydore on our $202 return tickets each, we had to pay an extra $294 for 42kgs of excess baggage.

Coming back we re-organised our luggage and took as much as we could as carry-on. Excess baggage this time was $140 for 20kgs.

In total we were charged $434 extra. Let’s look at our options for next time:

JETSTAR – We could have bought two extra return tickets for $404 and had two friends travel with us. As long as they took 20kgs of our luggage each we’d not only avoid the excess baggage charge, but we’d save $30!

VIRGIN - If we’d flown Virgin Melbourne to Maroochydore the return tickets are $252 each, they have the same 20kg limit, but their excess baggage is charged on a different scale. For 42kgs of excess luggage they charge $160 while 20kgs extra is only $40. (Plus, if we bought ‘Blue Plus Fare’ tickets at $836 we get 32kgs each instead of 20kgs reducing our excess baggage charge to $20 on the way up and $0 on the way back).

QANTAS – The closest Qantas flies to Maroochydore is Brisbane (an hour or so away by car) and their Melbourne to Brisbane return tickets start at $353. If we flew in to Brisbane and got a hire car or a bus transfer to Maroochydore we'd avoid the excess baggage charges completely. The other advantage is that we can travel when it suits us. There are 18 Qantas flights daily between Melbourne and Brisbane, but only 2 Jetstars and 3 Virgins between Melbourne and Maroochydore.

Live and learn!


Magic Movie

Ben Whimpey of Orsino Images will be making a tongue-in-cheek documentary on the world of magic from August to December this year.

Professional actors will be involved but he is very interested in having real magicians participate in the movie as well. (Note: this is a 'no budget' production so all participation is on a purely voluntary basis).

If you are interested in being a part of this movie project, please drop Ben an email at BWhimpey@orsinoimages.com