Monthly Archives: April 2013

Greg Kramer: Gone but not Forgotten

The passing of Greg Kramer, actor, magician, writer, musician was a tremendous shock to us because it was sudden. He was young, vibrant and brilliant.

Even when I heard it and knew he was gone, it didn’t sink in.

We had just seen him recently and his friend Peter Snow was in the shop one day and saw a set of linking rings that he knew Greg would love, and told us to  email Greg about them, which I did but he didn’t answer, which was unusual for him. I figured he was out of town and busy. Maybe Stratford, you never knew with him. Later Phil told me he knew he was busy at the Segal Center with his new play that he wrote, Shelock Holmes.

We missed the announcement of his death in the Gazette, which is strange because that’s the first thing Phil looks at every morning. Then Peter called and gave us the tragic news.

The other day we received an invitation to a gathering of Greg’s friends and family and were given an adress in the Plateau. We went, of course, and walking along the street flooded my mind with childhood memories, when we lived in the Plateau, with the winding staircases and three story flats. After the flats there was one small building, a synagogue, with Hebrew writing engraved in cement over the double door, and it had the address we were given. I stood at the door bewildered thinking, I didn’t even know he was Jewish. Then I pictured him with a skull cap and prayer shawl and thought, why not. Its possible. That’s what went through my mind as I stood at the synagogue door. It was locked. . I rang the bell. A man came to the door  and asked, Are you here for Greg? We said yes. He said come in, come in. It was someone’s home,  a beautiful home and it was full of people. I said,  “For a minute I thought Greg was Jewish.” No, he wasn’t Jewish. There were a lot of theatre people there. The host and hostess made us feel very welcome.

The guests were invited to speak if they wanted or show how they felt. It was clear to see how much he meant to so many people. He will be sorely missed.

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Magic Lessons For Kids in English

If you are a regular reader of my blogs, I think you’d agree that I usually do not use the blog to push products.  However, two weeks ago I mentioned that there would be magic lessons for kids in English and got such a tremendous response that I couldn’t believe it. Its a four week program given at the Cote St. Luc Shopping center by The Amazing Todsky.

I realize that many children are interested in magic and also that many parents like the idea that their children are interested in magic, as it develops many traits that are important to have to succeed in life. Its good to be able to talk to an audience, to impress them… it gives the child confidence, and he grows up with it. It also ensures they practice something until they get it right, as they don’t want to look like a fool. It improves their dexterity, gives them a new way to think, encourages creativity and all sorts of side benefits. There are magic kits, but usually there are a few props with many ways to use them and the child loses interest. Many however get started on kits, as we saw in the movie The Incredible Burt Wonderstone ( which we thoroughly enjoyed).

Back to the lessons. Everyone has busy schedules these days, especially with kids;  soccer, skating, ballet, scouts, swimming, and those are just the ones my 2 grand chidren are involved in. Even if you didn’t have any activities, the lessons which were advertised couldn’t handle hundreds of kids. There is an alternative solution. We just happen to have a series of DVD’s MAGIC TRICKS R4 KIDS. The series consist of 4 DVD’s each one costs $16.50, and there are 20 kids on the DVD also learning the magic.  It is geared for age 7 and up. In some if not all, a prop is included and in one, juggling lessons are included. Most of the tricks are done with everyday objects so it seems to me to be something worthwhile trying out. They teach about performing as well as just tricks which is important, most important! If they like the first one, there’s 3 more. If they don’t it’s not that great an investment, and you may learn a thing or two. If you have kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews of that age, it makes a great gift.

Check it out!

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Peter Reveen

It is with great sadness that we received the news Monday, that Peter Reveen had passed away. We knew him well. He and his wife Coral came to my 40th birthday party in the early days of Perfect Magic. We first met him when he was performing in Quebec City. Fantasio and his his wife Monica were in Montreal for Magie Montréal and Reveen phoned from Quebec and asked him come to Quebec to see his show. We told Fantasio we would gladly drive him to Quebec, so we were invited to the show as well and also invited to a gala dinner given by Reveen at a wonderful old restaurant in Quebec  City. There were about 14 to 18 people at that dinner and Reveen picked up the tab. He wouldn’t have it any other way.

From Quebec Peter came to Montreal to do the show. It happened to be my 40th birthday and I had a big party in our home and we invited Reveen and his family. One would think that a celebrity like Reveen, and he was big at the time, wouldn’t think that much of an ordinary party in a duplex on Kent, but he was excited as a kid. He said to me, “This is so fanastic. These are real people. I’ve never been to a party with real people. And he was gushing over, “I met an accountant, a salesman, a dentist, and so many other regular people. I’m used to stars who are so full of themselves.” This is so wonderful.

He happened to mention that his assistant hurt her eye and he tried to get an appointment with a doctor and they told him he would have to wait 6 months.  Steve Fichman was at the party, an opthamologist, and  Steve told him to send her to his office first thing Monday morning. Peter was impressed.

As a birthday gift, Peter gave me three of the long playing  records he was selling at his shows. Study and Concentration, Relax and Gain Self Confidence, and Stop Smoking and Over Eating. These recordings are still available, In CD format now, not Vinyl, as well as other Reveen memorabilia. Click here for all the info.

Unfortunately his show did not  do that well. He had a bad luck in Montreal as there was union strike at the time at the movie theatre next door and  the picket line extended to the front entrance of the St. Denis Theatre, where he was performing. At one show we attended, one of the picketers threw a stink bomb into the theatre and the show had to be stopped and the audience cleared out. Another setback was the fact the the posters advertising the show had the wrong dates printed on them and it was too late to have them re-done. So after one thing and another, he closed the show. He asked us to keep his doves, which we did. That’s a whole story in itself but eventually we gave them to Parc Safari.

When I needed tickets for someone in Las Vegas for Lance Burton, I  called Peter  and told him I didn’t want free tickets but they were all sold out and my son’s friend was on his honeymoon and was so disappointed. He made sure there were two complementary tickets waiting for the couple and a fuss was made on stage over the fact that they were on their honeymoon.

One day about 8 years ago, maybe more, he told me he converted to Judaism. I couldn’t believe it. Why?, I asked. We were born into it and have to bear the slings and arrows…but you weren’t, so why would you put yourself through that?

His answer. Some people need religion. Some don’t. I do. All my life all I heard in church was fire and brimstone and felt no comfort in it. One day I went to synagogue with a Jewish friend of mine and I was at peace. I felt at home. I wanted to be a part of it. I told the rabbi. He invited me to a Friday night dinner at his home. It was wonderful.

Judaism does not seek out converts. Usually someone converts when they fall in love and want to marry a Jew. The Rabbi’s don’t make it easy for you. There are a lot of classes to attend and lots of things to do. Peter made sure to tell me he went the whole nine yards.

Peter was a force. He was a generous person with a quick wit. We knew he wasn’t well and was sorry to hear what he went through. We will miss him. We extend out deepest sympathy to his family.


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Where Magic Is Born

Where does magic come from? Who thinks these things up, anyway? That’s so clever. Why didn’t I think of that? How often have you had some of these thoughts?

There are some people who have magical minds. I remember many years ago sitting in Steve Dusheck’s house in Pennyslvania, and he was showing Phil and I some of his latest inventions. How do you think of these things? I asked. His answer? I go to bed at night and when I wake up in the morning I have so many new ideas, I don’t know which to tackle first. 

We sell magic. We really don’t have time to sit around and think of things, look for materials, put them together, etc. It’s an achievement to come up with something that is good magic.

And yet, a magic trick was born a few weeks ago on my kitchen table. Not by me, not by Phil, but by my seven year old grandson, who was not even doing magic at the time, although he does do magic. He was working on an arts and craft project that involved nails. A particular type of nail. The problem was I had a box full of nails and screws and nuts and bolts all mixed together, even though the box had compartments. I did not want him to turn the box upside down on the table, so I told him to take out all the stuff one compartment at a time. The next problem was that he couldn’t get his fingers into the compartments to empty them. So I gave him a magnet. Mixed in with all the stuff were some black objects made of rubber that looked like short pieces of licorice sticks, about 3/4 ” long with a hole running down the center just like licorice. He emptied the compartments, one at a time, taking the black things out with his hands because the magnet wouldn’t pick them up, of course. And then a strange thing happened and I heard him say,

“But that’s impossible.”

“What’s impossible?” I asked.

“The magnet is picking up the rubber tube.”

And then he looked closer and saw the was a nail running through the hole in little black tube, and was hanging on to the end of it, with the head at the other end..  After fiddling around with it for a while he discovered that the magnet didn’t have to touch the nail at all, but would hold the nail though the rubber.  The he looked for a tiny nail to put right inside the rubber so it was completely hidden. Then he took a tube without a nail, and figured out a way to switch them. He then jumped off his chair and made a dash for the computer room, where Phil was busy working and I heard him shout, “Hey, Grampa, wanna see a magic trick?”

As I said, a magic trick was born on my kitchen table.

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