ring 99

Michael Weber's Zombie Workshop

A free bonus chapter that didn't make it in to Ninety-Nine Fabrications Volume 2. (So if you haven't read it - here's a taste of what you're missing. Special thanks to Canada's Magic for leaking this for us. Now you can have the unabridged version with photographic illustrations.

A Report from the P. Howard Lyons Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians, Ring 99, Toronto

While we may occasionally pretend to be men (and even women) of our word, our illustrious membership has less collective willpower than Augustus Gloop in a room full of Wonka Bars.

Earlier this year, as a result of a rather vague controversy, we vowed to send our beloved Ring to the grave and ne'er speak of it again. We thought we had succeeded. But when Michael Weber sent word that he would be in town (for reasons we are unable to relate here as they are so secret we have yet to determine them) and was interested in doing a workshop, we rose like zombies and gathered to feast on the contents of his magnificent and delicious brain.

Michael Weber

This was no small order as the weekend he has selected was not only the long weekend celebrating our country's founding (uncreatively named Canada Day - Max Maven and Allan Slaight could have done better), but also the glorious orgasmic climax to Pride Week, which is always enjoyed most enthusiastically in Toronto. Nevertheless, we forewent the excessive indulgence in alcohol, fireworks and public nudity and assembled at the usual place. We were not disappointed for our efforts.

The ex-president (James Alan) accompanied by another James (James Harrison), and Keith Brown (recently named Toronto's Best Magician in a silly little contest held outside of Toronto to save on parking and avoid both traffic and credibility) rushed over from their fabulous performance at the gay pride installment of Abracadabaret (Canada's only variety show dedicated to magic, mystery and to-die-for shoes) on the other side of town to not miss any of the mind-blowingness. Two underaged attendees even managed to secure fake IDs to gain entry to our secret speakeasy-cum-clubhouse for the event.

The Irritatingly Photogenic Keith Brown

Mr. Weber did not disappoint. He offered a marvelous assortment of practical, commercial and diabolically clever card magic, money magic, mentalism, and personal grooming accessories. We cannot divulge the contents of this super-secret workshop as we have all been sworn to secrecy. The penalty for violating this solemn oath is being forced to watch certain unnamed members of the city's other ring perform all of Ben Train's unpublished material. Twice. They would also be made to judge next year's Chasing Dovetails Bingo tournament. We are not permitted to  explain that he shared the stories  behind two of the long uncredited Vernon and Miller items from Kaplan and Expert Card Technique. We can say he taught his own mischievous and devious twists on three items hidden in the pages of the recent Graham-Diaconis book on math and magic. Weber closed out the night by demonstrating a small non-card treasure he unearthed in a letter written by Charles Jordan. Suffice it to say that we were all thoroughly delighted and will be keeping our yaps shut.

Michael Weber & Amit Neufeld

The special meeting room also features a VIP viewing gallery at the back to which the ex-president, Chicago's David Solomon and Aspen's Eric Mead were banished to prevent them from causing too much trouble. To keep the peanut gallery quiet, a second, younger more vertically-challenged Mr. Weber held court. Due to a strategically timed nap (and apparently a better fake ID than any of us had ever seen), young Master Weber was able to share the real work on several captivating iPad apps well past the point any sensible person would consider bedtime. The legumes on the periphery did manage to poke their heads up occasionally as Weber the senior got around to what we might call "the good bits" which happened what we may call "often".

Eric Mead hiding in the corner

Following the official programming there were additional things which cannot be explained and an informal session with Eric Mead which deteriorated rapidly into philosophical discussions of gastronomy, techniques for setting things on fire and looking at baby pictures.

So having had our fix, we put yet another silver bullet in the chamber and return the illustrious Ring 99 to oblivion... until the next guy comes through town.

To read more about the adventures of Ring 99, see Ninety Nine Fabrications Volume 1 and Volume 2.

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

Ninety-Nine Fabrications

I'm pleased to announce a special publication written in conjunction with Dr. Sammy Jakubowicz and the P. Howard Lyons Ring of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. The P. Howard Lyons Ring meets at a regular location on an irregular basis in Toronto. The membership comprises a motley crew of magicians, mentalists, comedians, psychics, university students, philosophers and general dilettantes. Topics of discussion include advancing the art of magic and techniques for the vanishment and disappearance of liquids.

Reports of the activities of the Ring are chronicled in The Linking Ring, the official organ of the IBM. These reports are based on facts only in the loosest way possible.

I became involved with Ring 99 as its secretary in 2008 and was elected to the Presidency in 2010. In the spirit of the late P. Howard Lyons, we have assembled some of our Ring Reports in a special eBook now available for purchase on Kobo, Kindle and iTunes for the appropriate sum of ninety nine cents.

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