All in Good Fun

When groups of magicians gather together, strange things happen. I imagine the same thing must happen if you assemble any group of likeminded individuals like artists, musicians or politicians. But this is especially true with the P. Howard Lyons Ring.

Where to begin?

The P. Howard Lyons Ring, sometimes known as Ring 99, is a chapter of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, the world's largest fraternal organization of magicians. The club meets at a secret location known only as "The Usual Place and Time." The membership is a motley crew of magicians, mentalists, psychics, comedians, university students, philosophers and general dilettantes. The ring's objectives lie vaguely between "advancing the art of magic" and "perfecting esoteric techniques for the vanishment and disappearance of pub foods."

This is a group that doesn't take themselves too seriously and certainly knows how to have a good time. They also had the misfortune of having me as their president.

Awards season takes on a whole new meaning

At the close of the 2012-13 season, the club decided to give out two special awards, one of which was:

The Mark Lewis Memorial Award for Imagination, Integrity, Curmudgeonhood or Best Two Out Of Three

While I should point out that the award itself is completely facetious (see photos below), the individual it is named after does deserve some recognition.

Mark Lewis is a staple of the Toronto magic community. He performs as the elderly curmudgeon, and when watching others perform, he is as harsh a critic as one can imagine. He is also never one to shy away from offering an opinion, on any subject. He is decidedly "old school" and constantly pushing others to raise the quality of the magic they perform and to bring respect and honour to the art of magic. If something can earn a slight nod of approval from "The Great Mark Lewis" then you must be on to something. (Or perhaps, it is one of the seven signs of the coming apocalypse, who knows.) In addition to being a superlative children's entertainer, he is also one of the main characters in Ninety-Nine Fabrications Volumes 1 & 2.

Special mention is also due to Lisa Close who presented this "prestigious" award.Lisa crafted a speech which is probably the single greatest piece of magic verbiage since Bob Farmer's treatise on Wombats and Wildebeests (don't ask). She was somehow able to transition an award for James Alan into a roast of for James Alan so seamlessly we didn't even notice. Well done Lisa!

Lisa's speech, along with several other Ring secrets will be included in the forthcoming volume of Ninety-Nine Fabrications, because we clearly have too much time on our hands.

I'm honoured that the club would choose to present me with this prestigious (and infinitely practical) award. I will display it proudly in my home next to my other made up award.

Mark Lewis Award

Magic @ Luminato

For the past three years, one of the major highlights of my hear has been the magic series at Luminato. Now they are making it four years. In the past, they've brought in performers from the US, Spain, France, Chile & Canada. They have done shows in multiple languages, shows for families, shows for children & families and even magic shows for the blind! This year's festival runs June 14-23 with a new magic series spread throughout the festival. The new series, co-organized with Magicana, features three new shows which are Canadian Premieres:

Steve Cohen Chamber Magic

Miguel Puga Concerto for Piano & Pasteboards

Rafael Benatar Compositions

I met Rafael a few years ago and know him to be incredibly charming and talented. Compositions and Concerto are magic-music fusions held at the Telus Centre (next to Varsity Stadium). I'm excited to see the new combination and to see magic introduced into a venue where you wouldn't normally see it.

I only met Steve Cohen briefly (at an airport in San Diego of all places) and I'm excited to see his show. He's normally performing Chamber Magic in a suite at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York and seems like they've arranged a suitable space here in Toronto.

If you are in Toronto in June and have the opportunity, I would strongly recommend you make an effort to attend.