About Me

"There are three things the public will always clamor for, sooner or later: namely, novelty, novelty, novelty." - Thomas Hood, 1799-1845

[Photo: Gene Anderson]

This quote embodies my philosophy: if you perform something people haven't seen before, you have a better chance of catching their attention and pleasing them in a memorable way.

My magical epiphany was at age eight when an uncle showed me the "stack of nickels" trick. It was incomprehensible to me; nowhere in my brain was there a place to fathom this new phenomenon. I'd guess I made him show it to me fifty times in the three days he visited. When he left he shook my hand, leaving that trick in it. I now had a trick! I have since learned that boys in particular are very ripe for magic at about age eight. Most of them grow out of it. Fortunately, I never did.

On a family trip the following year dad took me to the Eagle Magic Company in Minneapolis. They sold me a paddle trick with a rabbit in a hat, and took me into the back room to teach me how to do it. Their routine was wonderful, and better than any I have seen since. I practiced and practiced until I could do it very well. Later I discovered that our town library had some magic books, several of them especially good because they taught a wide variety of magical principles. That formidable foundation has been my mainstay ever since: if you know principles, you have the building blocks necessary for creativity.

I grew up on a farm in northern Minnesota. Other than seeing three school show magicians while a youth, I met no other magicians until I was in college. As a result the magic I developed was different. That doesn't mean better, it just means different. And novel. Often novel is good.

Following college I went to graduate school at the University of Texas. Our magic club (I.B.M. Ring 60 in Austin) established a great and tremendously formative approach: every meeting was guest night. We met at a restaurant, invited different guests for each meeting, and after dinner we would each perform a close-up routine. Our routines were essentially the same each time, and after the guests departed we would discuss them, suggest improvements and the next meeting try them again for a new audience. The adage, "Don't change tricks, just change audiences" prevailed, and many of the best tricks in my close-up repertoire are still those I learned to do in that challenging and very rewarding atmosphere.

After a year in Norway doing postdoctoral research (that's another story), I joined the Dow Chemical Company where I had a 32 year career. I moved to corporate headquarters in Midland, Michigan four times (I was a corporate gypsy). Weekends were for the part-time pro and magic, and that's where my stand-up act developed. Global responsibilities for my firm opened performing opportunities as well, and as a result I have performed magic professionally (means got paid for it) in 21 countries on 6 continents.

I'm retired from that Dow job, and instead I'm now doing three jobs of my own: speaking, magic, and running a virtual Roadside Magic Market. I'm having a ball.