Archive for Magic

Remembering Barrie Richardson: ‘We had fun’ (audio)

I wish I could tell you I was good friends with Barrie Richardson, but I was not. I did, however, spend about an hour with him one day eating breakfast in a hotel restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, and that was good enough.

IBM President Joe Turner and Barrie Richardson

IBM President Joe Turner and Barrie Richardson

Barrie Richardson died Nov. 18, 2015, at home, surrounded by family, after a brief illness. His obituary can be read here.

I will always cherish the hour I spent with him at breakfast during MagiFest. We were both wandering around the hotel lobby, he introduced himself (I was so embarrassed that I failed to recognize him, he is a legend in the world of magic and mentalism) and asked if I wanted to join him for breakfast.

I want to share a little bit of the conversation we had. The background noise gets to be a problem at times because we were in a restaurant with waitresses delivering food and clearing tables.

Please enjoy:


Aldo Colombini, Magic’s Funny Man, Faces Serious Situation, Can You Do These 3 Things?

My friend, Leland Pennington, introduced me to the magic of Aldo Colombini decades ago, and a couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to introduce myself to Aldo and his lovely wife, Rachel.

Rachel and Aldo

The occasion was the “farewell” lecture tour for Aldo and Rachel, and it was organized by the Akron Magical Arts Society, Ring 161 of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. I lived about an hour away, and I so desperately wanted to make the trip.

I had written about Rachel’s health issues, in which she was dealing with major heart issues, and I had the opportunity to speak with both of them. Rachel, who faced an uncertain future back in 2010, was very matter-of-fact about her diagnosis, prognosis … and mortality.

So, it came as a complete shock Monday morning when word spread quickly about Aldo’s health. On Sunday, he had suffered a severe stroke. Maria Ibanez emailed the magic community with the news she had received from Simone Marron.

Rachel would later write:

I am writing to let you know that the love of my life, my beloved husband, best friend and partner Aldo has suffered a catastrophic stroke. Sunday afternoon paramedics rushed him to Munro Regional Hospital in Ocala. Today they performed another CAT Scan and I am saddened to say that the news is not good. Aldo is completely paralyzed on his right side. He cannot speak and the doctors say there is nothing else that can be done. Aldo loved life and does not want to be on life support. I am heartbroken by the fact that I must now take him off life-support and move him to Hospice Care. Short of a miracle, the doctors say he has less than two weeks. Please pray for him.

What was so surreal was how life for the Colombinis practically stopped because of Rachel’s health, and now more than three years later, life is on hold for them again, this time due to Aldo’s stroke.

When Rachel was dealing with her heart troubles, money was an issue. If she went out of state for the surgery, her insurance would pay out less. Many reached out to help the couple back then, through a website set up for Rachel, through the generosity of other magicians donating money and through the sale of ebooks in a number of countries. In 2010, then-13–year-old Kyle MacNeill organized a bunch of magicians through The Magic Cafe and put together an ebook, “Wild at Heart.” The magicians donated effects to the book, which sells for $20 on, and all of the proceeds went to the Colombinis.

So, as Rachel tries to figure out what’s in Aldo’s best interests, I think there are a few things we can do:

  1. Pray. Rachel said it will take a miracle. If you are not the praying kind, then think the most positive thoughts you can muster that Aldo will receive a miracle.
  2. Go shopping. That’s right, go shopping on and buy whatever ebook, digital download, DVD, packet trick or magic effect by Aldo that you have been putting off. Also, please consider everything Rachel is going through right now, so be patient about when you will receive your purchase. There’s no telling when she will be able to fulfill the order, but your purchase will help them out. Also, you can buy the “Wild at Heart” ebook at, which will help them, too.
  3. Spread the word about how people can help the Colombinis. They have provided us with much joy, laughter and magic over the years, so let’s see how we can help repay them in some small way. So, please share this post with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, via email or any other way you connect with them.
  4. Oh, there’s a fourth thing: Did I mention pray? Please do so. (Should add, I have not talked with Rachel, she has enough to worry about, but please do what you can to help. Thanks, again.)

Update: Sadly, Rachel has informed us her best friend and the love of her life, Aldo, died on Monday.

Here are a couple of videos shot when Aldo and Rachel lectured in the Akron area. The first is them talking about their “farewell” lecture tour, and in the second one, Aldo reminisces about he late Ken de Courcy.

900 Magicians Appear in Columbus for Magi-Fest

Thanks to the generosity of my friend and magical mentor, Leland Pennington, I had the chance to join 900 magicians from around the world at Magi-Fest in Columbus, Ohio.


Juan Tamariz (seated) signs a poster for Leland Pennington (right) after Tamariz’s lecture at Magi-Fest in Columbus, Ohio.

My regular job is working as a reporter for The Daily Record newspaper in Wooster, Ohio. While I was immersed into magic for the convention, which ran from Jan. 30–Feb. 2, 2014, I did not totally get away from my job as a journalist. However, my stories would not be for the newspaper, rather for the International Brotherhood of Magicians, either its monthly magazine, “The Linking Ring” or its website,

It was an incredible weekend. Magic abounded.

I tried to connect with organizer Joshua Jay, however, he was busy. There were lectures to open, performers to introduce, technical issues to resolves, fires to put out, people to register and people to meet.

I had the chance to see a lot of wonderful magic, especially Juan Tamariz (he is in the yellow sweater in the photo above), and learn about so many aspects of magic. Eric Mead had a touching talk about his friend, the late Tim Conover. Is it possible to become a better magician just by listening to one magician talk about another one? I feel I am better for having been a part of Mead’s lecture.

Michael Weber is well known within the magic and mentalism community, but he is not a common name among the public. Years ago, when Harry Blackstone Jr. and his wife, Gay Blackstone, brought their show to Daytona Beach, I was working at Daytona Magic and, thanks to Harry Allen and Irv Cook, I had the opportunity to meet them. I believe it was Gay Blackstone who said at any given time, the public is only aware of a handful of magicians. At the time, it was Doug Henning, David Copperfield and Harry Blackstone Jr. Weber might not be well-known, but many people know of his work. He was the one who came up with the solution of “taking the legs off” Lt. Dan (played by Gary Sinise) in the movie “Forrest Gump.” The principles he taught will find a spot in my repertoire.

I had the pleasure of spending some time with John Bannon, an incredible card man out of Chicago. One of his fans saw us talking and came up to introduce himself to Bannon and to get some advice on performing a particular move. Bannon spent about 30 minutes working with him and another magician.

Francis Menotti, whose one-man show opened the convention Thursday night, is a creative force. After I introduced myself, he agreed to spend some time with me to talk for a story. It never worked out until after Juan Tamariz’s show and lecture Saturday night, which actually ended 12:45 a.m. early Sunday. By then, everyone is tired. My eyes are showing my fatigue, as was Menotti’s. I asked if he was ready to talk for a couple of minutes, and he said sure. A couple of minutes turned into 15, and I had a great time hearing about how his career unfolded.

Leland told me, “There are a lot of stories here.”

Indeed, and I am grateful I will have the opportunity to share some of those stories here on The Z Section, as well as in “The Linking Ring” and on, … especially when I had breakfast with Barrie Richardson.

What do Magic and Christianity Have in Common?

There are some Christians and some churches that want nothing to do with magic, we’re talking the David Copperfield, Criss Angel, David Blaine kind not the black magic kind. I am a Christian who performs magic, so I sometimes find myself caught up in this debate.

Newspaper Magic

Bobby Warren performing a Torn and Restored Newspaper effect at Wooster Jam 2013. Photo by Dick Beery / 3 Oaks Enhancements.

I do not have a problem with it, because I am performing entertainment. When we go to the movies, we are actually watching a series of still photographs shown in rapid succession that gives the appearance of movement. It is magic. Any way, …

This past week provided ample opportunity to perform magic. I had four performances over a three-day span with three of them coming on the same day.

The first show was for an event for the Northeast Ohio Division of the Salvation Army, and it was in Ashland on Thursday. The other three performances were Saturday: Two were in conjunction with the Wooster Jam and the final one as a private show.

Needless to say, I was kept busy … very busy.

Each show provided interesting opportunities.

  • The Salvation Army show allowed me the opportunity to weave a Christian message into the effects I was performing.
  • The Wooster Jam performances were done to music, and they allowed me to create a sense of awe and wonder without saying a word.
  • The private show was for a group of girls ages 8–16, and a few adults, so I had to put together a show that would connect for young kids, teenagers and adults.

Each show, also had its challenges, but the goal was always to provide the best show I am capable of performing for each different situation and each different audience. In other words, I had to set aside my interests and focus on the interests of my clients.

When I perform, I do not always perform my favorite effects, and I don’t always perform my most stunning and amazing effects. Why? Because my audiences dictate my shows. If I were to perform my favorite effects, it would be a combination of rope magic and mindreading.

  • In creating the Salvation Army show, the challenge was to find effects that would provide a variety of different things, yet, I could still share a Christian message with it.
  • The Wooster Jam performances required me to put together effects that would be visually stunning and stand on their own. This required me to perform classics of magic, like the Linking Rings, something I have performed, but do not perform regularly.
  • The challenge of the private show was to find effects that little kids and adults would enjoy. I performed everything from a coloring book trick to a mindreading trick at the end.

So, what do magic and Christianity have in common? Well, it is all about serving others.

Leland Pennington, my magic mentor, taught me a long time ago that when performing shows, the goal is not to design a show that will fool other magicians or create a series of effects in which they would approve. No, you perform effects the audience likes. Your shows are about your audiences, not you.

Leland is an amazing magician who has studied so many areas of magic. So much so, that he is perhaps best known for his silk magic and metal bending, perhaps two aspects of magic people would not normally link together.

What Leland and I do might not suit other magicians, but that is OK, because it suits our audiences. (Do I need to mention we both get repeat bookings?)

MMA coming to Wooster Jam 2013 (Sorry, not that MMA)

It’s not Mixed Martial Arts, rather a blend of Music, Magic and Art coming to the Wayne County Fairgrounds in Wooster on April 13, and I will be providing the magic.

Wooster Jam Poster 2013-540

This is the third year for the Wooster Jam, an ambitious effort to blend music and the arts. This will be my third year performing magic at the event, and I was quite surprised to see my name on the official poster.

For the second year in a row, the event will be held in conjunction with the Wooster Ethnic Fair.

Here is a little about the event from the Wooster Jam website:

The Wooster Jam is an end-of-semester celebration of music and the arts, consisting of an array of individual artists and ensembles from a myriad of art forms and media.  The gathering will take place at the historic Wayne County Fairgrounds on April 13, using several distinct and non-traditional venues. One may hear an A Capella ensemble, the Ohio Light Opera, the Cedar Valley Cloggers and the best rock music on campus – all at different venues simultaneously.  The Jam is a unique fusion of language art sound motion music and interactivity.

We are looking for participation by Visual Artists, Installation Artists, Musicians, Media Artists, Light and Sound Artists, Theatre Artists, Poets, Sculptors, Performance Artists, Laser Artists, Magicians, Electronic Artists, Drummers, Video Makers, Filmmakers, Dancers, Floral Artists, Street Performers, Culinary Artists, Ceramicists, Sculptors, Fire Artists and more to participate in our art event!

We welcome your imagination and ideas.

The Wooster Jam is organized by the Wooster Jam Inc. Board of Director under the guidance of James Levin (founding director of Cleveland Public Theatre and Cleveland’s IngenuityFest). Further information about the Jam’s staff and history can be found on our website, listed below. “The Wooster Jam Festival is currently sponsored by the Ohio Arts Council and the J.M. Smucker Company.”

Official partners for Wooster Jam 2013 are WE Fair 2013, Wayne Center for the Arts &  120 Artist Co-op.

The Wooster Jam will take place from noon to 10 p.m. on April 13 (in collaboration with the Wooster Ethnic Fair during the afternoon).

The Wooster Jam will also have food and beverages on site from local vendors.

Hope to see you there!

Spend a Day in My Shoes, Sort Of

Lately, when people have asked how I have been doing, instead of falling into a familiar rut and answering mindlessly, “OK” or “fine,” I have been finding myself pausing, reflecting for a moment and telling them, “I am doing great. I have a blessed life.”

Bobby Warren Wendi Warren Mary Taylor Josh Krajcik

Some of the components that make up Bobby Warren’s life, from the top, left: Being a member of Parkview Christian Church; getting to interview people like Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor as a reporter at The Daily Record; shooting video for newspaper website; being the husband of Wendi Warren; enjoying wonderful pets like Madison; playing in Parkview’s praise band with people like Steve Hanna; and hanging out with Josh Krajcik before a concert with The Daily Record’s Lydia Gehring.

And, I do have a wonderful life. If you look at the collage above, you will see just a small sample of the things that make up my life, like church, getting to interview people like Ohio Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor or shoot video for a Josh Krajcik interview; spend my life with my wonderful wife, Wendi Warren; enjoy our pets like Madison; and play in Parkview’s praise band with the likes of Steve Hanna.

Here is a typical day for me:

  1. Wake up and ease into my day. I might check to see who’s beating me on Words with Friends; log into Google+, Facebook, Twitter; check out my previous day’s stats on this blog; look to see if me or my wife, Wendi, sold any more books (see here and here); and see if there have been any sales through my Amazon affiliate links.
  2. Once awake, talk with Wendi before she leaves for work. This, of course, happens if I actually get out of bed before she heads to work.
  3. Read the Bible and pray. I have been reading Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Haggai and Zechariah because I teach a Sunday School class, and we have been focusing on this period in Israel’s history.
  4. Get ready and head to work. My full-time job is working as a reporter for The Daily Record in Wooster, Ohio. I get to meet a lot of interesting people, and I really enjoy what I do.
  5. Come home and eat. Self-explanatory.
  6. Engage in various activities. Depending upon the day of the week or month, I might be covering a night event or meeting for the newspaper; I might be in a men’s ministry meeting; I might be watching TV, performing magic somewhere or practicing with the praise team (I play bass); I might be writing, editing or laying out a book; checking and rechecking my social networks and Words with Friends; hanging out with Wendi; reading a book; working on a Sunday School lesson; or writing a blog.

My life is hectic, but not really stressful. I hope you have enjoyed a day in my shoes, sort of. I have a great wife who makes me better and supports my endeavors. I am truly blessed. What about you?

Some things Need to be Shared, Like This Amazing Video

There is no critical message to share with this post, just an amazing video of a torn card that is reproduced.

I saw this video on Google+, it was shared by Interesting Engineering. What attracted me to it is seeing the torn card. I am a magician, and one of the classic effects is the torn and restored card. So, I had to look and see what the torn and reproduced card was all about.

Are You Sure You Want to Do This Full-Time? You Better Think Hard

Boris WildAs a magician, I appreciate wonderful magic, like the kind performed by Boris Wild, pictured above. Wild, who is a French magician who performs all around the globe, worked in marketing for a toy company in France before embarking on a full-time career in magic.

I had the opportunity to interview Boris for a cover story for The Linking Ring, the official publication of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. As I generally do when I interview successful magicians, I asked him what advice he had for someone who was contemplating whether or not to become a full-time magician.

The advice Boris gave is relevant to all hobbyists who are doing something they love, but not on a full-time basis. For you, maybe it is blogging or painting or performing in a band.

His advice was basically put off going full-time as long as you can. Why? The day you become a full-time magician is the day it is no longer fun and games. Magic becomes a business. So, every day you have to be concerned about marketing yourself, booking shows, working on magic tricks you can sell to other performers and searching for opportunities to lecture to other magicians about the craft.

I think many of us would like to make money doing what we love. We would love for nothing more than for our passions to turn into profits. But, are you willing to say good-bye to your hobby and hello to a business?

Add Magic to the Lives of Those Around You

I have been fascinated with magic ever since I was about 10 years old. My friend’s father showed me a couple of tricks. Today, I look back at those two effects and think about how simple and silly they are. Yet, back then, it was the most incredible thing I ever saw.

I bet my friend’s father had no idea those two simple tricks (think of a number between 1 and 10 … you are thinking of seven; and think of a number between 1 and 4 … you are thinking of three) would lead me on a lifelong quest to learn, practice and perform magic, as well as write about the art and some of the top performers.

After high school, I got away from magic until I met Leland Pennington, who rekindled the passion and took me under his wing. He made sure I had books to study, DVDs and VHS tapes to watch and people to meet as I began reestablishing myself as a magician and mindreader.

I cannot thank Leland enough for what he has done for me and what he has meant to my life. He opened up an incredible world of mystery, delight, amazement and entertainment. He taught me to keep things simple and to never get a laugh at a helper’s expense.

Leland’s advice has served me well. I get incredible feedback from my shows, and I garner a lot of repeat bookings and word-of-mouth referrals. How does this happen?

I believe it goes back to how I handle my audience and those who volunteer to help me. I treat them all with respect, and I never belittle them. In the end, everyone has some laughs, has a good time and gets to see some amazing magic.

As others come into your life, be careful how you treat them. You might be sending them off on the adventure of their lives. What you say and do might just add magic into someone’s life.

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