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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Scott's Thoughts - by Scott Wells » » Thoughts Churned Up by Hurricane Rita (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

Scott Wells
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Houston, TX
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As I sit here at noon on Thursday September 22nd with hurricane Rita bearing down on the Texas coast, I consider my priorities. First of all, I am not located in a low-lying coastal shoreline which has already been evacuated; however, Houston is only about 50 miles north of Galveston. Mandatory evacuation has been in effect for several of those coastal areas so traffic has been like a steady stream of army ants for the past 48 hours. That’s one horrible lesson learned from Katrina…when officials say to get out, then get out.

I have watched the storm track from Galveston to Port Lavaca (about 100 miles or so southwest of Galveston) then back again. My plans were that as long as the storm was going to stay on a southwesterly track, then we would ride it out here and deal with the “dirty” side of the hurricane suffering potential flooding and high winds in excess of 100 miles per hour. We awoke this morning and saw the fresh track now bearing directly on Galveston. So, we put our plan into action…secure our “stuff,” pack the car and “get the heck out of Dodge.”

All morning we have been taking things off of shelves and moving our furniture and valuables to inner rooms. I have several dozen framed magic posters hanging throughout our home which I have moved into an inner closet. As to my magic library, ahhh…that’s the point of this story.

First I had to determine which books I would want to take with me. In other words, if we do have a natural disaster and I do lose everything but I have time to plan for it (unlike a fire), which books would I want to save. Many posts have been made on the “Ten Foot Library” (ten feet of books that are essential in any magicians library) and on “Books to Take to a Deserted Island.” Well, my day of reckoning is upon me and it is no longer a rhetorical question to ponder. There will only be a limited amount of room in my car with my wife, Kathy, and our cat, Shadow, and our clothing and other stuff we might need to live on for several weeks if need be.

Let me say there is no doubt that my first consideration is to take our family Bible and our family photos. I am backing up my important documents on a 1GB flash drive but unplugging my PC tower and taking that whole thing with me, too. But as to magic books, that didn’t take much thought when I came to removing them from the shelves and placing them in one of two categories: 1) boxes to go or 2) plastic storage containers to stay.

First of all, there are books which are important to me because of what I have learned from them or because they have been inscribed to me by the author. Second of all, I may have paid a lot for the books or they may have increased in price such that they may be irreplaceable. I may not have that much of a collection at 600+ books and lecture notes, but it is a good, working library for me.

That being said, here is my list of books that I have boxed to take with me (in no particular order):

First of all, all of Caveney’s Magic Words Books
Walter Jeans: Illusioneer
The Great Leon: Vaudeville Headliner
P.T. Selbit: Magical Innovator
Bautier de Kolta: Genius of Illusion
Carter the Great
Levante: His Life, No Illusion
Servais Le Roy: Monarch of Mystery
The Houdini Code Mystery
St. George’s Hall
Kellar’s Wonders
Alexander – The Man Who Knows
A few of Caveney’s Magical Pro-Files (some I left behind)
Devant’s Delightful Delusions
Mr. Electric Unplugged
Harry Anderson: Wiseguy
The Magic of Robert Houdin (two volume set)
The Life and Times of Alexander – Beckman
The World’s Greatest Magic (signed by nearly everyone)
Casino Game Protection – Steve Forte
The Magic Way – Tamariz
The Five Points of Magic – Tamariz
Variations
John Carney’s Carneycopia
The Book of Secrets – John Carney
The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy
Life with a Magic Company – Le Grand David
Carteles de Magia – Le Grand David
Variedades – Le Grand David
Houdini – Silverman
Notes to Houdini – Silverman
John Calvert – Rauscher
A few (but not all) of Todd Carr’s “Miracle Factory” Series:
House of Mystery (two volume set)
The Secret Ways of Al Baker
The Annals of Conjuring
The Silence of Chung Ling Soo
Germain the Wizard
The Mind and Magic of David Berglas
The Vernon Chronicles (four volume set)
Dai Vernon’s Secrets of Card Magic
The Dai Vernon Book of Magic (personally signed to me)
Dai Vernon’s Cups and Balls (again signed to me)
Dai Vernon’s Symphony of the Rings
Revelations (signed)
J.B. Bobo’s Modern Coin Magic (first edition signed to me by author and publisher)

Of course you might see an obvious oversight of any of my partner, Banachek's, books. I am in the enviable position that I have them in my computer (since I published and edited them) plus I have access to getting additional copies when and if necessary.

There are so many other books I would have loved to have taken if I had the room. I feel bad about overlooking anyone’s book by leaving them behind. I have so many friends in magic who have written wonderful books, I hate to leave any of them. But my thought is that some of them are still in print and I can get them from the publisher or author later if necessary (sorry, Simon, you lemming you and also apologies to “Uncle” Terence Seabrooke but I know you’ll never read this missive anyway).

In the meantime this morning I have been fielding calls and Instant Messages from such wonderful, caring friends who have inquired as to our safety and all offered shelter in their homes should we need it. So I want to personally and publicly thank Don and Joyce Wiberg, Jerry Schnepp, Steve Dela, Rhett Bryson and Doc Eason for your cares, concerns, offerings and prayers.

I want to also thank you, dear readers, for caring enough and reading my little monographs. I hope to post more as the next 24-48 hours unfolds. We shall see if I stay or load up the car and go.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
Scott Wells
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Friday Sep. 23 - H minus 24 hrs: as I sit here with the eye of the hurricane 24 hours away and the high winds expected in less than 12 hours, I think I'm about as prepared as we could be. As mentioned, I put my framed posters in an inner closet and the rest I have in poly bags under the bed (thanks to Nick Ruggerio for that tip). I first took pictures (and video) of the walls to know where to hang them back if given the chance. I also took pictures of each shelf of books so I know what I had where. The books were removed and put in large plastic storage boxes then put in and tied off in garbage bags. The boxes from my "A" list are going in the inner room with me while we ride out the storm late tonight. Right now it is expected still to land less than 100 miles northeast of us which still means 100+ mile per hour winds.

But as I was ruminating about my library and posters, I want to give these few words of caution and advice.

First of all, I am glad that I have been keeping a list of books in my library. I set it up on an Excel spreadsheet many years ago. It is very simple and has the following categories: title, author, publisher, publisher's location, year, edition, printing, pages, type of cover, price, signed, subject of book. It doesn't take much time to input this little information, but it helps in the long run for many reasons.

First, you know what you have so you won't necessarily and intentionally be buying duplicates (though I must admit that I have accidentally bought duplicates at auctions when I didn't have access to my database.)

Second, you know how much the book(s) cost you in the event you need to replace or sell any of them. This is also helpful in the event of your demise for your family to know how much to value the property.

Third, you can easily cross reference or do a search if you are looking for a book by a certain author or a subject.

Some magicians go to additional trouble of briefly listing the contents of their books. Perhaps even listing particular tricks in the books that mean something to them or that they might use later. And that is listed by page number. I don't necessarily add that extra measure, but I do leave bookmarks in pages of books so I can quickly and easily find those things that I refer to from time to time.

Bookmarks are easy to make on your computer and you can be as creative as you wish. It can be a fun craft thing to do to wile away the time while you're waiting for the hurricane to hit Smile

It may take a lot of time at first to file all of your books in a database, but you will always be thankful once you do it. It is an easy task to add to the database later after each addition. And you don't need to go to your computer and add the book right after you bought it. I usually stack them up as I buy and read them and put them in the computer when I have time. I may have four or six books stacked before I file them in my database.

And as to how I know whether or not they have been listed in my database...I put a book plate on the inside cover to let me know that I have filed it. It may still lay on my desk or floor or chair and not in the bookcase, but if it has a book plate, then I know I have filed it in the database. Conversely, if there is no book plate, then it's a sure bet that I haven't filed it. That just happened last month. I was reading one of my books and noticed it didn't have my book plate. I went to my computer and saw that I hadn't filed it. So I remedied that on the spot.

For a look at my database or to use mine as a template, you can take a look at it by clicking here

Another thing to think about is cataloging your poster collection. I got a great idea from Ken Klosterman who has a massive collection of...well, everything. He has so many posters that he can't display them all. So he took photos of them and put them in a picture book. That makes it easy to see what you have in one small, easy place. You can put as much information as you want on a note card attached to or below each photo that can tell the size, type of paper, your purchase price, etc. A great way to categorize your oversized posters.

Well, it is starting to cloud up a little outside. I think I’ll grab a bite to eat while the electricity is working. More later as I can post it.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
Scott Wells
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Friday September 23 - H minus 12 hours: so what have we been doing to wile away the time while awaiting the storm? Well what would you do? You would probably get pretty tired of watching the news and hearing pretty much the same thing over and over. So I have decided to make the best of it.

I have been working on a One Man Parade for The Linking Ring. I have written an article on emcee bits but I have been putting off drawing the pictures far too long. Well, that part is now complete so I should be able to send it off to Phil Wilmarth (editor) soon. After that, my wife and I felt like we needed to get out of the house for a little bit.

So we drove around the neighborhood. Very eerie with hardly anyone on the road. Reminds us Christmas day with no businesses open; however, we did find a coffee place open so we dropped in for a latte. They were also serving seafood and chicken gumbo and beer. Both were really good. The place was really jumping with locals. So we sat a while then noticed a convenience store open across the street. We strolled over and found they had a few items on the shelves. We bought a couple bags of chips then headed back for home.

I finished drawing the illustrations so we are now getting ready for the high winds and rain to arrive. It is expected within the next few hours with winds to hit us here in downtown Houston at about 75-90 MPH. In the meantime, I received a call from my friend, David Elliott in Dallas who has been reading these little writings here. He offered his thoughts and prayers and his home if need be. What a guy and what a medium. The Magic Café is full of friends helping friends in so many ways.

One thing that has been humbling in all this has been the outpouring of love and friendship before anything has happened...if anything does. But as I write this, I hear the roof starting to rustle a little from the winds. No rain here yet, but it's expected any time.

I'll post something later as I can. Best to all and I'll see you on the other side.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
Scott Wells
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Houston, TX
993 Posts

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Friday Sept. 23 - H minus eight hours: Well it appears that our gain is another's tragedy. We are not out of the storm yet, but it appears that the eye of Rita will miss Houston but hit our brothers to our east near Beaumont. We are still getting some rain and wind, but nothing like expected. Now we are supposed to get about 20-30 MPH winds and up to eight inches of rain. We can live with that. But I feel sorry for those who will be getting the brunt of the storm as well as those in New Orleans who are getting more problems on top of their current problems.

So, before I retire for the evening (or at least try to), what have I learned and what have I accomplished? Well, I have gotten my "One Man Parade" done which I am rather proud of and I hope some day you will enjoy. And those of you who have been reading this will know more about the "behind the scenes" of what went into it when you see it in print.

I have also had a chance to put my thoughts down in writing. It has been cathartic if nothing else. I have been able to put my feelings and emotions down on the keyboard...and that has helped.

But mainly I have found friends like you who have been reading these messages in a bottle and many have contacted me in one way or another over the past 48 hours or so. And for that, your friendship and your prayers, I thank you and good night.

More tomorrow. It looks like the power should hold.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
Scott Wells
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Houston, TX
993 Posts

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Saturday Sept. 24 - H plus 15 hours: Well, we made it through the storm with absolutely no damage whatsoever to our home or in our neighborhood. I can't say the same for our brothers to the east of us. Our blessing is another’s curse. I would have reported earlier to let everyone know that we are all okay, but our power has been out since midnight last night. Since early this morning we have been putting our house back in order and it wasn’t until late this evening that we finally got our power (and air conditioning) back on line. We were invited to have dinner with some friends earlier this evening so we enjoyed their company while our power was being restored. During that time, over 700,000 citizens across Houston were without power. I just returned home and have not watched the news so I don’t know how many are back in service.

But The Magic Café is about magic and not about individual issues or problems so I have kept on point throughout my dissertations. As to my topic for this post, I learned another lesson today regarding magic which I want to pass on to you.

I mentioned the importance of having a library database of your books and a pictorial reference of your poster collection. Now I want to give you another tip on taking digital pictures.

Before I removed my books from my shelves and took down 30+ pictures off the walls, I took photos of where they all were. That is I took photos of the walls and pictures of each shelf of my library. I found that very helpful when returning everything today to their original positions. It wasn’t quite a jigsaw puzzle putting the pictures back in their proper places with a pictorial record. The pictures were more important that they were returned exactly in the same place because of where the picture hooks were located and how they all hung in relation to one another. The books were another matter.

When I first sorted my books on the shelves, I had a method to my organization. I personally sort them by category and partially by publisher and by topic then by size and then by binding (hard, spiral, paper, etc.) As I was returning the books to their shelves and looking at the digital images in my camera, I was trying to decide if I wanted to keep them in the same place. Certainly they have been there in the same place for several years and by now I know where everything is. It is now easy for me to go and put my finger on a book when I need to find it.

But today as I was replacing the books to the shelves, I made more of a concerted effort to determine if each book might better be placed somewhere else rather than in their original location. As I placed them on the shelves, I also opened a few and found myself sitting down (in the heat of my un-air conditioned room) and reading a few bookmarked passages. I’m glad I did because there were some gems I had forgotten, even among some of the paperback, beginner books that lent themselves to some excellent presentations that could become miracles.

I also decided which book belonged on which shelf. For example, I found that some books belonged on other areas like Mike Caveney’s “Magic Pro-Files” needed to be grouped together. I had Ravel’s book on pick pocketing in another area with other books on pick pocketing. But now I decided to put it with the rest of the publisher’s books yet keep the other related books nearby. Likewise, Harry Anderson’s Wise Guy book (another Caveney Pro-File) was moved from my comedy shelf to my Caveney shelf. I had fun like this all afternoon as I moved one book from its “comfortable” location to another. What an afternoon of enlightenment and being re-introduced to my library. Some books I have not pulled off the shelves for years.

Now, if I can just remember in the future where I re-filed these books, it will be swell!

And again, thanks to all of you for reading these posts during this particularly difficult and emotional time. I have learned a lot and it is my wish that perhaps you too may have gotten something out of this thread as well.
"A magician who isn't working is only fooling himself." - Scott Wells, M.I.M.C. with Gold Star

The Magic Word podcast: http://themagicwordpodcast.com Listen to convention coverage, interviews with magicians, pictures, videos and more.

Magic Inspirations website for all things Banachek: www.magicinspirations.net
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