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August 2006
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October 2006

32 entries from September 2006

Don't blame me, I didn't send it!

The email spammers are playing a new game now. They are sending spam messages out to people but using made up MagicUnlimited addresses as the sender. Addresses like mobpen and lol at magicunlimited.com. I only found out about it because a lot of the emails are starting to bounce back because the people they are sent to don't exist either.

I really don't understand what the spammers hope to achieve. I know all about phishing where they send out emails to any address they can maske up, then if a person replies that confirms the email exists and they add it on to a database that they can sell later. But what's the point in sending out crazy spam (like the one below) if the target's reply ends up getting sent to me?

"Slow-carb" dieters were told to eat carbohydrates. I give a thumbs-up to General.
Some consumers are reluctant to.
According to Warrior Diet author Ori Hofmekler, we're living in an era which may go down in history.
A lot of companies that had counted on the fad staying around for a while are now desperately searching for ways to compete.
The interest is spurred on by the Whole Grains Council's stamp, which shows which foods have whole grains.
I have been asked to support this action, and have ignored all requests. The conversation turned to the various aches and pains they had and what they were doing about it.
Comme si cela leur procurait un certain plaisir. More photos coming soon! The conversation turned to the various aches and pains they had and what they were doing about it.
Studies show that alloxan, the chemical that makes white flour look "clean" and "beautiful," destroys the beta cells of the pancreas. "Slow-carb" dieters were told to eat carbohydrates.
Related articles on this topic. He played in pain through.
He played in pain through.
Got another month of PT ahead, but there are a lot of things I can do again.
Weight Watchers trumped more trendy low-carb diets like the Atkins diet in catagories such as pounds lost, nutrition, ease of following the diet,. "Slow-carb" dieters were told to eat carbohydrates. Arthur Agatston, has recently created an alternative low-carb diet for vegetarians that includes a large percentage of protein.
Despite the allegations the diet promotes high cholesterol and kidney damage, the diet continues to gain momentum.
Though the scientists called the popular Atkins diet a "fad," their findings supported the nutritional basics of the Atkins diet.

The Royal Show - Wednesday

Cimg3710_1Yesterday was our last day at The Royal Show. We arrived early to check the hoist for the much promoted aerial straitjacket escape and, once the crew started to arrive, it was discovered that there was no power to the winch motor. A few calls to the onsite electricians and, only a few hours later, an extension cord was sorted out and we were able to test the winch. The height was only 8m, but I was hoisted directly above an immovable piece of metal barricade. This served two purposes: It made it look like I wasn't really as high as I was, and if I fell it would ensure I wouldn't land on the soft grass but get snapped in two instead...

Regardless, we had a quick rehearsal and prepared our show. We had two 30 minute performances so we added two "warm up" escapes to fill the time. Unfortunately, at the last minute we were told we couldn't do our first show on the stage because a band would be setting up so they could begin immediately after we finished... the showbiz pecking order is clear! We were relocated to a temporary platform in front of the stage for our 12.30pm show, while we did our 3.00pm show back on the big stage.

However, being on the smaller stage had it's pros and cons. It was much quicker to get volunteers up, and it enable Lee Cohen to get some good pics with Sue-Anne's camera. (Take a look in the mini gallery here.)

For the rope escape, I replaced the rope I normally use with the abseiling rope I used to use to be hoisted up for the straitjacket. It's much thicker and heavier than my old rope and presented all manner of new challenges. I made the escape under a cloth held over me by the volunteers.

In the chain escape I was handcuffed, then tied and padlocked in any way the volunteers chose (and they always seem to begin by padlocking the chain around my neck!) The keyholes on the padlocks were also taped over to prevent me from picking them.

Finally, the straitjacket was put on quite brutally each time, with the spectator really getting into pulling on the straps very roughly! Once I was hoisted upside down by my ankles with the blood rushing to my head, I couldn't wait to get out of that thing!

My challenge for each escape was to get out of my restraints in less time than it took for the volunteers to put me in. If they tied me up in 1 minute, that was my time limit. The faster they tied, the less time I had. Of course, the longer they spent on the tying process, the more difficult it became for me to free myself... so it was quite a risky venture, but thankfully it all went off very successfully and the large crowds who came to see the escapes certainly seemed to enjoy it.


The Royal Show - Saturday

Saturday was 'Super Saturday' at The Royal Show. 'Windy Saturday' was more accurate. It had been so windy the day before they removed the backdrop from the stage fearing that it might act as a sail and cause the stage to blow over!

Sue-Anne and I met Mat at the Main Stage about 7.50am and the entire area was locked. I called our contact and was told that, even though we had to unload and get our car out by 8.30am, there would be no staff to let us in to the backstage enclosure until 9.00am.

We figured out a way to get all our gear in through the fence and bumped in regardless.

Of course now there was no backdrop on the stage and even more band gear and PA roadcases up there than ever before. Most of our time before the first show was spent blocking where our props were going to be positioned, though often we had no say in that. Mat put the 'Squash' illusion at the back of the stage and within ten minutes the wind had blown it to an entirely new location.

The hardest thing about this show was all of our costume changes. Because we wanted to give a lot of variety in the show, but Sue-Anne and I had four of five changes each, and there was no way we could get down off the stage, into the dressing room and back on stage in time, so we commandeered the tent on stage left (the one used to store roadcases) and shuffled things around until we had enough space to do quick changes.

God certainly answered our prayers because it didn't rain and though it was windy, it was nowhere near what it was the next day (with 100kmh winds and heavy rain). We had very big crowds for both shows, though the second crowd was chockablock, and they really seemed to enjoy what we had to offer.

Our program was:

  • Miser's Dream and Levitation  of Sue-Anne.
  • Breakaway Wand and Ball to Square Routine.
  • Sword Box (a la The Perdentes)
  • What's Next?
  • Sue-Anne's Linking Rings
  • Squash
  • Sue-Anne's 'Think' Rope Routine
  • Toast - featuring Soda Resurrection
  • The Great Whamo
  • Chainsawing Tim in Two

We had similar difficulties to Thursday with bringing volunteers up onto the stage, though we resorted at one point to Mat and I hoisting them up the front of the stage by their arms. My Dad came along to see the first show and his comment was that a lot of the time we were just silhouettes. (They couldn't use the stage lighting on the day time performers and, without the backdrop, the huge white Grand Pavilion became our new backdrop and we turned into shadows.) We were also a little wary of doing our sawing for family audiences even though we dropped the blood... but when Sue-Anne pulled the chainsaw out I heard dozens of tiny voices screaming "Kill him! Kill him!!"

It was great to see a few familiar faces in the audiences too, and we're very grateful to those people for coming along. Overall, it seemed to go exceptionally well considering the extremely challenging circumstances.

One more day to go now, 'Wild Wednesday' when I do the aerial Straitjacket Escape. Pray for good weather and poor gravity.


The Royal Show - First Day

Yesterday was our first day at The Royal Melbourne Show. We got up very early so we could drive in and unload our van between 8.00-8.30am. The stage itself was not much different from what you saw in the 'Site Check' photo. It did have a roof (and lots of big speakers), and it had a back wall... but the back wall was see through and the roadies were cutting holes in it so the wind could flow freely though. There were no side walls on the stage, but there were little tents on either side of the stage which we thought would make great wings... but one was for the foldback sound operator and the other was for storing the roadcases the speakers came in...

There were no stairs at the front of the stage, which meant that any volunteers we chose (by pointing them out) had to be brought around the back of the stage through the security fence and up the back stairs.

It was quite a challenging situation.

As the stage was created specifically for the bands that play at night it was a perfect band stage. Not so hot for magic during the day. (Add to this the fact that a drum riser was placed in the centre of the stage giving us quite a lot less depth than we anticipated).

We had been pressing for diagrams of the set up so we'd be prepared, but so had the people who booked us. I think they were just as surprised at the lack of walls etc as we were.

So... for the first hour or so we erected the smoke chamber by unpacking it on the grass behind the stage and taking it up the narrow backstage stairs piece by piece and assembling it on stage. The PA guys were kind enough to move the drum riser back about four foot which helped too.

The wind was the biggest problem. If you've seen the first ten minutes of Sue-Anne's Jeannie act you'll know it features a floating table and dancing handkerchief. In the end we had to decide to simply drop that routine.

Getting volunteers up was going to really slow the act down too, so we started the show with me bringing the volunteers up, having them examine the smoke chamber, then Jeannie appearing while they sat next to the chamber, and having her go straight into a comic routine where she teaches them how to do a rope trick. From there we did some quick banter featuring the vanishing pot plant and the magnet phone before I called up another volunteer and we did the classic funnel routine. After that (believe it or not 22 minutes already!) I told Jeannie she had to go so she performed her sand pour then got back into the smoke chamber and disappeared.

Overall, it went down very well. It was worth the huge effort of bringing the smoke chamber (and having to wait until 10.30pm before we could get the van in to bump it out again). Our main concern was the weather. Thankfully our prayers were answered and there was no rain, especially as we had to take all of our gear out of the dressing rooms at 6pm and leave it on the grass behind the stage until we could bring the van in to get it! The wind did cause a few problems, so I'm really glad we didn't try to do the opening routine. Jeannie's sand pour was more like a sand-storm in the second show, and the funnel trick became funnier than usual when the wind caused the stream of milk pouring out of the funnel to go horizontally towards the volunteer rather than straight down and into the bucket!

Overall though, it was a good day. There were some big crowds (especially for Dorothy the Dinosaur!) and they got me to act as MC for the day, reving up the audience and letting them know what was coming up next between all the acts. It's REALLY windy today, so let's pray for great weather on Saturday when we go in with four illusions and a one hour show!


The Royal Show - Site Check

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We do our first performance at The Royal Show on Thursday (Sue-Anne's Jeannie Stage Show) so we went over there to check out the stage today. The entire Showgrounds have been revamped and they really look good, our stage was still under construction and it just looked big. 1.5 metres off the ground and about 8 metres tall. It's yet to have a backdrop, sides and a roof put on it... and lights and sound added too, so all we'll say at this stage is... it's big!

This is the first time in years we've done outdoor shows and the first time in maybe 13 years I've worked at The Royal Show. Today has been exceptionally windy, and hot. Hopefully the weather will be on our side on Thursday, (we don't want the Floating Table floating away over the horizon). We'll keep you informed!


E-Spam

Has anyone else noticed an increase in Spam over the last few days? Maybe it's because I'm getting at least four copies of every Spam email that it looks worse than ever... but the ratio is now about 3 legit emails to every 24 Spam emails (and that's with TPG filtering them first and Outlook filtering a few more straight to my junk email box).

They're still the usual rubbish; people like 'Ethel Ervin', 'Second MacLean' and 'Rambo K. Sze' writing to me concerned about my "erectoin" problems, self confessed "hot girls" wanting to get together for some casual fun, Banks I've never even heard of wanting me to re-enter my password details for accounts I've never held, and the latest one where customercare at PayPal tells me that money has been transferred out of my account (which it hasn't).

I just wish I could have as much fun with Spammers as I do with Telemarketers...