January 30, 2009

Back from the Bahamas

First, let me say that I love Minnesota.  I've lived in 4 of the United States, and Minnesota is still my favorite.  No contest.

However, it is REALLY COLD here right now.  It seems even colder due to the fact that I just spent 4 days on the ocean and in the Bahamas, where it averaged 68 degrees each day.

I had the honor of performing on the my 5th cruise with Premier Christian Cruises.  It really is the opportunity to "take a working vacation" that I could never afford to do otherwise.

I worked with Christian artists such as Third Day, Matthew West, Salvador, Nicole C. Mullen, Mandisa, Building 429, Sanctus Real, Brandon Heath, Phil Joel and the Annie Moses Band.  And it was a special reunion of the guys from 4HIM and also DeGarmo & Key.  Both reunion concerts were highlights for me.

I did one show on the cruise, but the highlight for me was doing the strolling entertainment for guests.  If people were waiting in line for autographs, I was there performing for them.  If they were waiting to get into the concert venues, I was there making paper roses for the ladies.  If they were sitting and waiting for concerts to start, I was asking them to "pick a card, any card".  i love the strolling because it gives me the opportunity to really meet the people and talk with them, find out where they are from, if this is their first cruise, etc.

Another thing that I worked harder on this time was the interaction with the wait staff around the ship.  I taught our two waiters some magic tricks they can use to raise better tips.  As I rode the elevator down to the first floor I met a waiter that likes magic, so he stepped off with me.  We stood around for almost 45 minutes talking about magic tricks, Christianity and his own life.

I taught 2 ladies in the Palladium how to make napkin roses for their customers.

One morning, I had planned on meeting our two evening waiters, to teach them a couple of magic tricks.  By the time I was done (about 20 minutes) there were almost 10 waiters around trying out the tricks for themselves.  I would imagine it gets tiring serving people day after day after day, so I only hope that they enjoy being served once in a while.  And I hope they actually use the tricks I taught them to make better tips on their future cruises.

On one of the past cruises, I felt sorry for the lack of business that some of the bartenders had.  I stopped and offered to show then a few magic routines, and by the time I was done 20 minutes later, almost 20 bar staff were standing around laughing and having a good time.

Another great thing about this cruise was that I actually had 9 other people sailing as part of our "group".  My parents came, my uncle was there, 2 great singers from our church, another couple that I've known since I was born, and one other lady friend of ours from Colorado.  The best part: my wife, Debbie, went along too. 

Here is the group photo, that I like to refer to as the DonB! fan club:

And here is the one of my beautiful wife:

Now THAT'S something to celebrate!

I leave you with this comment that one of the guests submitted after the cruise.  I remember this family, if only for the fact that the little girl was hanging a spoon on her nose, and I was jealous.  I've never been able to do it.  Out of sheer determination, I tried it, AND IT WORKED.

Here's the comment in its entirety:

Hello Janet,

My wife, myself and our two daughters most recently sailed on the KLove cruise with much satisfaction.  Thank you for assisting us with our arrangements. We would like to say the music was fantastic and fulfilling.

We also feel compelled to mention that the effort of Don B should not go unnoticed.  The man was constantly at work.  He approached us at our table, in line as we waited entry into the Palladium and we could not help but notice him at work inside the Palladium prior to the evening concerts.  Our daughters really enjoyed his performance in the lounge.

Please pass along this info if you think it may help for future events.


Dr and Mrs Eric Castillo + "The Spoon Girls" Sarah and Brooke

I love my "job".  Blessings to you all.


January 27, 2009

Patron Saint for Magicians?

One of my magician friends here in Minnesota, Geoff Williams, sent out this curious tidbit of information that you may find interesting. (Update note: this information is from Angelo Stagnaro and can be found in his book here).

There actually is a Catholic saint whose sphere of influence includes stage magic. January 31 is the day set aside on the Catholic liturgical calendar to honor ST. JOHN DON BOSCO ("Don" is simply the Italian honorific for a respected person, equivalent to our "Sir"). He was referred to as Don even during his life by both villagers and the
children for whom he cared.

Many people would wonder how it is that the Catholic Church and magic could get mixed up together. During the latter half of the 19th century, as Europe's poor were suffering from the effects of Industrialization, Don Bosco saw how most of the children in his village remained uneducated and unchurched. After Mass on Sundays, he would round up his little friends and relate the Bible stories he learned in church to them. To keep their attention he would use magic
tricks as he retold these stories.

As a young man, Don Bosco became a priest and directed his ministry solely to poor children. He needed a way to get kids interested in coming to church and to accept the aid he was offering. He used puzzles, riddles and juggling but it was the magic that most quickly caught the kids' attention. Stories that have come down to us from his
contemporaries include some specific tricks he used. He was said to be especially good at tying three ropes together to form one seamless rope in order to explain the mystery of the Christian Trinity. He also would pull coins from ears and change pebbles into money, delighting the children who were under his care. Don Bosco started a community of
Catholic priests, nuns and brothers who still to this day help street kids and youth in gangs throughout the world including New York City.

Catholic magicians in Europe still celebrate this day by performing benefit shows for children.

January 19, 2009

Off to the Bahamas

It's difficult to leave this neck-deep snow in Minnesota.

It's difficult to leave when the temperature is a balmy -12.

It's difficult to leave when I'm just getting used to 3 layers of clothing.

But someone has to do it!

I leave on Wednesday for my 7th cruise ship gig.  It is the second time I will have gone to Grand Turk in the Bahamas.

I will be working the same ship as Third Day, Matthew West, Building 429, Sanctus Real, Brandon Heath, mandisa, Rush of Fools, Salvador, Nicole C. Mullen, Denver & the Mile High Orchestra, 4HIM, DeGarmo & Key (reuniting on this cruise), illusionist Brock Gill, the 321 Improv Team, and of course Bob & Larry from the Veggie Tales.

It's a tough life, but someone's got to do it.

I'll send a full report when I return.


January 12, 2009

Postcard Idea

So, tell me what you think of this new postcard idea:

Is the "Homer"/Humor shadow too subtle?  Other ideas?