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 Lybrary.com, 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 WildColombini.com 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 Lybrary.com, 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.

Are Elections the Best Form of Term Limits?

State Sen. Frank LaRose, a Republican from Copley, Ohio, who represents the 27th District, recently visited The Daily Record to discuss some issues he has been working on. One of them is redistricting reform, which he wants to see passed. (You can read the story on The Daily Record website here.)

State Sen. Frank LaRose (left) talks with The Daily Record Publisher Andrew S. Dix

State Sen. Frank LaRose (left) talks with The Daily Record Publisher Andrew S. Dix

“The best term limit is a competitive election,” LaRose said. Some suggest term limits take away power from the voter, he added.

LaRose’s answer is to fix redistricting.

When there are term limits, there will be a lack of experience. “It takes awhile to get up to speed,” LaRose said.

With term limits, LaRose said he believes lobbyists, staff and bureaucrats will likely have increased power.

Also, term limits can give more power to the executive branch, LaRose said. Elected officials who have been around for awhile might be a little bolder in standing up to the governor, LaRose said.

Another thing LaRose would like to see is online voter registration.

“There’s no reason we can’t do it online,” he said.

Keep up to date with LaRose on his website, Facebook or Twitter.

Now ‘The Ex Factor,’ Fox cancels show that put @JoshKrajcik on map

To hear Fox has canceled its singing competition show, “The X Factor,” after its third season comes as no surprise. After the first season, the Simon Cowell-led show lost its mojo. Actually, after Season 1 there was no Josh Krajcik.

Josh Krajcik and band in Orrville

Krajcik’s gruff look, his years of struggling to make it and trying to support himself slinging burritos provided a gripping and compelling back story. When he auditioned and Cowell heard him blast out Etta James’ “At Last,” there was this interesting juxtapositioning of this guy who looked like he came from the wrong side of the tracks with an incredible voice.

The same thing happened with Susan Boyle. The exterior just did not seem to match the voice within.

Can you name anyone who performed in seasons 2 or 3? Can you name the winners of seasons 2 and 3?

There were also signs not everything was going as smoothly as it should be for the show. What’s Season 1 winner Melanie Amaro up to? Has she even released a record? What about Chris Rene? See what I mean.

Krajcik was ready to go into the studio soon after finishing as the runner-up on “The X Factor.” However, it took forever for him to sign a deal. Why, who knows. Whenever The Daily Record‘s Lydia Gehring interviewed him, he never wanted to complain about how slow things were going and would only say it was the business side of it.

Further indication things might not be going as well as they could be for the show was when Krajcik’s album was finally released, it was with BMG and not L.A. Reid’s Epic Records.

No use crying over spilled milk. Season 1 introduced Krajcik to the world, and it was his version of “At Last” that captured everyone’s attention. The show served its purpose.

Here is Josh Krajcik, along with Eric French (guitar), Mitch Pinkston (bass) and Corey Gillen (drums), performing “At Last” at the Orrville Rib & Music Fest this past August.

Just How Long Does it Take to Make a 6-Second Vine Video?

Abby Armbruster, a reporter for The Daily Record, had the idea to make a Vine to promote the newspaper’s three-day online subscription. It gives readers full access to the website from a desktop computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone.

Abbyvine

So, she began cutting pieces of paper, writing on others, gathering items from around the newsroom and assembling them on her standing desk.

With her iPhone in hand, she began moving the different elements around, repositioning them to get the shot just right.

Then she did it over and over again.

Finally, she got close.

Finally she was happy.

Vine is a video social networking site that allows users to shoot up to 6–second videos. Abby’s Vine is not just a straight, 6–second shot. She took her time. This is her Vine:


And this is the video of Abby making her Vine. It runs longer than 6 seconds. It actually runs more than 4 minutes, however, Abby spent much more time than that in making a 6–second video letting you know that for $1.50 you can have full access to The Daily Record website.

Also, web developers for Dix Communications (the parent company of the newspaper) have made the mobile site responsive to any device. When you go to the website from a mobile device, it should take you automatically to the responsive site. It will look just like an app for The Daily Record.

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.

JuanAndLeland

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, Magician.org.

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 Magician.org, … especially when I had breakfast with Barrie Richardson.

Oldie But Goodie: @JoshKrajcik Connects with Fan in Deeply Personal Way

Editor’s note: I was reviewing the Top 10 most popular posts on The Z Section, and this one is the No. 1 blog post of all-time here. When I looked at this again, I saw the photo of Josh with Ali and immediately knew I wanted to highlight this one again. Enjoy this blast from the past.

The photo below tells me everything I need to know about Josh Krajcik, a singer-songwriter originally from Wooster, Ohio, who gained national attention with his rendition of Etta James’ “At Last” at an audition for “The X Factor.”

Krajcik

Josh Krajcik speaking with Ali Booth at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton.

I was in Canton on Wednesday, April 3, 2013, to shoot video for Krajcik’s performance and CD signing at the Best Buy on the Strip in Canton. I was part of The Daily Record team there to cover the event. Living Editor Lydia Gehring was there to interview Krajcik and do a story; Dan Starcher was there taking photographs; and I was shooting video.

Krajcik had just finished his acoustic set and stepped outside for a little break before signing autographs for his fans. On his way back in, he stopped to talk to Ali Booth, who works as a cashier at the Best Buy. The two met earlier in the green room.

What impressed me, and why I wanted to take the photograph, was how Krajcik treated Booth with dignity. He got down on her level so the two would be eye-to-eye when they talked. He could have easily just stood there, towering above Booth, and made some idle chatter before excusing himself. But that is not what he did.

Jane Carmichael is a long-time friend of Krajcik’s mom, Lisa Pim. Earlier in the day, we spoke about Krajcik, the album and how he knows what he wants and is working toward that goal.

Despite the success on The X Factor (he was runner-up) and the record contract, Carmichael confidently proclaimed, “He will never change. Josh will never change.” The context was that fame is not going to change the humble Krajcik.

To see something as captured in the photo above, it makes you think Carmichael is onto something.

Updated info:

The videos below are from The Daily Record’s YouTube Channel, check out the 23 Krajcik videos there. You can check out Gehring’s story, along with photos from Starcher, here. To see another post on The Z Section regarding Krajcik, click here.

Here is a slideshow from the Canton event and videos follow.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Enjoy Krajcik performing “Lost at Sea”:

Gehring’s interview with Krajcik, along with him performing his new single, “Back Where We Belong.”

Or, listen to Krajcik’s album on Spotify:

The Good Ol’ Days of Just Walking into Someone’s House

Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael has seen a lot in his life: He spent 30 years with a gas company, rising to management; 10 years as mayor of Shreve, Ohio; 25 years as chairman of the Wayne County (Ohio) Republican Party; eight years as an Ohio state representative; and eight years as a county commissioner.

Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael talking about the good ol' days.

Wayne County Commissioner Jim Carmichael talking about the good ol’ days.

One time, when Carmichael was talking to a group of students about his work in government, one of them said, “You are old, you should write a book.”

Carmichael, along with fellow commissioners Ann Obrecht and Scott Wiggam, recently met with Chief Building Official Ray Zytowiecki about how the Building Department fared in the previous year.

Zytowiecki talked about how the expansion projects at the J.M. Smucker Co. in Orrville have benefited the county (see stories from The Daily Record’s Paul Locher about acquisitions, building projects, new child care facility and more, and new offices in a renovated building).

At that point, Carmichael started reminiscing about his days at the gas company. It was the first day he was reading gas meters on his own, and he was reading them in downtown Orrville, where Smucker’s headquarters are located.

This was in 1961. Back then, the neighborhood was still filled with a lot of streets and houses. When he would go to a house, he would knock and yell, “Gas company!” Most of the time, meter readers would knock and walk into the home.

On the cards the men carried were notes about where the meter was, whether it was through a trap door, on the side of the house and if there were any dogs to worry about it.

It’s always interesting to hear Carmichael talk about the good ol’ days. Maybe when he gets a little older, he might write a book.

 

Gettysburg Address was 272 Words, So are These 2 Sermons

Today, I had the honor and privilege of preaching at Parkview Christian Church, Wooster, Ohio. I wanted to do something totally different, and with the help of my friend, Ron Maxwell, we did.

Sermon

Some time ago, I heard the Gettysburg Address was only 272 words. Some consider it the most important speech in American history (see here). President Abraham Lincoln shared his remarks at the dedication of the Soldier’s National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa. His remarks lasted three minutes, and they still resonate today.

Given what Lincoln accomplished in 272 words, I always wondered what it would be like to write and deliver a 272–word sermon. In my mind, I thought about creating something called The 272 Project. I envisioned it as a preaching festival where all of the preachers would deliver messages of 272 words: No more, no less.

Well, this morning I had the opportunity to preach not only one, but two 272–word sermons. I appreciate Parkview’s senior minister, Brian White, giving me the opportunity to preach. He had no idea what I was going to do, and he wanted to be surprised. So, we surprised him.

After the worship team opened the service, we had communion and we took up the offering. I explained to the congregation this idea I had about The 272 Project, then Ron Maxwell came up to present the Gettysburg Address. Interestingly, a woman came up after the sermon and told me she did not realize how relevant the address was even to this day. The praise team played Awake My Soul, and then I preached. Here is the video:

The Parkview Address

A look at The Daily Record’s foray into video via @Storify

This originally appeared as a piece on Storify. I reproduce it here, adding this photo below of Dan Starcher.

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Dan Starcher, a photographer for The Daily Record, has helped the Wooster, Ohio-based newspaper raise the level of its video production.

The (Wooster) Daily Record’s YouTube channel continues to log thousands of views each month, and it is surprising to this reporter.

Never-before-seen footage of Josh Krajcik from House of Blues

Before Josh Krajcik stepped onto the stage of the House of Blues Cleveland Aug. 1, 2012, he sat down with The Daily Record’s Lydia Gehring to talk about a variety of subjects: The concert, the then-upcoming record, the recording sessions in Los Angeles and his backing band.

Josh Krajcik sits down with The Daily Record's Lydia Gehring.

Josh Krajcik sits down with The Daily Record’s Lydia Gehring.

Much of the video footage shot that night has not seen the light of day. With today being Josh Krajcik’s birthday, what better time to give his fans a glimpse behind-the-scenes.

Most of the video footage has never been seen before. Some of it appeared with a video that accompanied Gehring’s original story, which you can read here. Here is how she opened her story:

CLEVELAND — Before walking onto the stage at the House of Blues on Wednesday, “The X Factor” runner-up, Josh Krajcik, was “feeling good,” staying cool, calm and collected.

Just before playing in front of a packed venue of his fans who came to see him in only his second local performance since the show wrapped up in late December, the Wooster native and Triway graduate was doing some pre-concert relaxing in his dressing room with close friends and family. He had just had some snacks and completed a sound check.

“I’m the same guy, the same performer, I’ve always been,” Krajcik said of his post-“The X Factor” profession. “I just have better opportunities and more open doors. There are so many more things I can do now that I wasn’t able to do before.”

Today might be Josh’s birthday, but his fans are receiving this gift. Listen to the interview and tell me what you think about what the singer had to say nearly a year-and-a-half ago.

Update: This blog post was revised to include the opening paragraphs to Lydia’s story to give you a flavor of that night.

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