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Feb. 2nd, 2010

Hawaii Five-O, and Blazing Saddles.

A strange title, I know--faithful readers--but I implore you...Please trust me.

I had two shows today. The first was for Maple Ridge Elementary School. This program was a reward show to coincide with the Reading is Fundamental (RIF) program. It was for grades K-2.

I was introduced by their principal Mr. Lord:



He's no relation to this Lord:



I know this, because I asked. ( Note: One-half of the title of this entry is now explained)

There were two hundred kids in the crowd, and we had a big party. The teachers, as is typical, got into the music, and the kids were adorable.

My favorite moment was during the Linking Ring routine. At one point, I hold-up the rings and state, "You've heard of a man eating shark, you've heard of a man eating tiger. Well, lock your windows and bolt your doors...because terror strikes. It's...the MAN EATING RINGS."

During this silliness the theme from Jaws is playing, and I creep toward the audience, and the kids always act scared. Today, a few little girls really put on a show:



My favorite is the third from the left, with here eyes close. These four were really going for the Oscar.

Then, I packed up and bolted off to Greentown. Do you have any idea how many towns in Indiana begin with Green? Well, there's Green Acres, Green Center, Greenbrier, Greencastle, Greendale, Greene, Greenfield, Greenfield Mills, Greenhill, Greenoak, Greens Fork, Greensboro, Greensburg, Greentown, Greenville, and Greenwood. This sounds like a Hank Snow song.

Anyway, there was a Family Fun Night, and I performed for a couple hundred people of all ages. What a great time. This was a FUN night.

The librarian who contracted me (Mindy) and her daughter (Lacy) helped me after the show to carry my equipment back to the car. As some point I said, "Thanks for the extra help."

Lacy said, "I'm sure you'll have the good sense not to mention this to the other folks.." And, inside my brain, I heard a distinctive DING!

"Did you know that you just quoted Blazing Saddles?", I asked.

"That's our favorite movie", the two said in unison. So we all three broke into a montage of lines from:


(Note: There's the other)

And from Young Frankenstein too:



I just LOVE it when I meet people with the same sick, twisted sense of humor that I have.

Now, faithful reader, Go Do, that VooDoo, that You Do....so WELL!

Jan. 31st, 2010

University of Maryland, Baltimore County.

This, faithful reader, was a fun, yet GO, GO, GO, kind of weekend.

I was invited to perform for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on Friday night. The show was held in their commons, in a room called The Sports Zone. We'll get to that in a few...

I arrived in the greater Baltimore area Friday afternoon, and--since the show wasn't until 9 PM--I decided to do a little sight-seeing.

I knew that Georgetown was about an hour away, so I committed myself to visiting a location that has fascinated me since childhood. When I was twelve or so I first saw a movie that, to this day, remains the most terrifying film yet made. This is not a matter of opinion, by the way, but objective fact.

The film in question was released in 1973, and based on the novel of the same name, written by William Peter Blatty. Blatty got the idea for his story while studying at Georgetown, and is based--albeit loosely--on actual events. The movie adaptation was directed by William Friedkin, who's background was in making documentaries. As a result, his experience brought a very real feel to the film.

This movie has haunted me since I first saw it on Showtime around 1979. So, what is this horror masterpiece...?



This movie FREAKED ME OUT. Maybe--probably--being Catholic helped to make me more sensitive to the subject matter, but it's still very disturbing. Anyway, in the climatic scene, the hero--Father Karras--leaps from the window of the possessed Regan's bedroom, and tumbles down a long, steep flight of steps. So, with the help of Margret, my trusty GPS, I navigated right to the base of the steps on M St. Sometimes when you see a filming location in person, it's hard to tell if you're in the right place. But, there are a few places, for which, there is no question. When I saw The Bat Cave, I knew it was it:



When I found the Brady House...I also knew:



And, like wise, as I turned into the parking lot, there was no mistaking...THIS:



I pulled into a gas station near the bottom, and was so excited. This was my view as I walked toward them:



It was so freekin' cool. I climbed to the top, which took me to Prospect St. And there, right at the top, was the building used to film the exteriors of Regan's house:



Here's the door where Father Merrin (The Exorcist) came knocking...



I then walked back to the steps. It's very scary from the top too. Here's the walkway leading to the top:



Then, you get to the steps, and are treated to this view down toward M St.


(I love the Arch over the steps there.)

The walk down was very eerie. The steps are quite steep, and you have the sensation that you're going to fall forward. Halfway down I took this photo:



Once at the bottom, I had to pose for a few myself. I couldn't find anyone to take my picture for me, so I sat the camera on a ledge, and used the timer...



And, being a huge nerd, I just HAD to get one of me as Father Karras...


(I wonder how many people take THIS shot?)

I then drove to my hotel (Motel 6), checked in, and got ready for my show that evening.

The campus of UMBC is emaculate. This school, my contact Brandon told me, specializes in biology, physics, and chemistry. They also have the number one chess team in the nation. Smart kids.

My stage was in the Sports Zone area of their Commons. It was like a small nightclub. Very cool.



The crowd began showing up around 8:45. What a good looking group.



Visiting with the students before the show, I was surprised to learn that many were Indianapolis Colts fans. Kind of ironic, because of the rocky past I thought.

The show went very well, and the ones who helped me on stage were very funny.

After the show one young lady (Amber, the biggest Colts fan in the room) asked me if she could have her picture taken with me. "Why would you want that?", I teased her.

"Because," she said, "I think you're beautiful."

Well! We took a picture, then I gave her my credit cards and my automobile.



Katie, the girlfriend of my good buddy Tom Savini, lives in the area, and she came out to see the show, even though she was feeling ill:



I visited with some students for a while, and then a group of four friends...



...helped me take my magic junk back to the car.

When I got back to my hotel...things were a little interesting. There is a gas station across the street from the Motel 6. As I got off the exit I was not less than eight police cars in the parking lot of the filling station. I turned into the motel, and tried not to think about what had happened. As I moved things from my car to my room, I saw a police helicopter circling the area, aiming an ultra-bright spot light on the ground, as though they were looking for someone.

That helped me to sleep.

The next day I received several messages from students who were at my show. My favorite comment was:

"I liked that it wasn't just a magic show, it was funny and entertaining as well. You do an awesome job of getting the crowd into what you're doing. And it seems like you enjoy it as well."

As a matter of fact, I do enjoy it as well.

Dec. 28th, 2009

Holiday Fun.

Greeting, faithful reader. I hope your Christmas & Pre-New Year has been relaxing and uneventful. Here's a quick catch-up with me...

I finished my Psychology, and Anatomy & Physiology for the semester. No classes now 'til January 11. I did well this semester. 116% in Psych., and 99.5% in A&P. Yeah, I was a slacker there, huh? Next, only A&P II. Let's see if I can keep the mental power flowing.

In the midst I did bunches of shows. Some for schools as a treat just before break, and more than a few Christmas parties for businesses. Adult crowds are always fun. You can guess why.

I've seen a few movies over the break. The first was Avatar.



James Cameron knows how to tell a story...and he did here. Visually, it was speculator. I was almost impossible to tell the difference between live action, and CGI. The story was compelling, too. That being said, it seemed--to me--to be an elaborate love letter to the Earth. It was no question as to what the metaphorical representations were in the film. 1) Humans are horrible, and we love to destroy the environment. 2) Humans are horrible, and we love to destroy indigenous life.

I think that South Park summed it up best, when they described Avatar as "Dances with Smurfs."




Other than that, I loved it.

I also saw Sherlock Holmes.




I liked it. However, it was a bit convoluted. The plot was more than a little hard to follow, and the extreme British accents and colloquialisms didn't make the viewing experience any more pleasant. The acting was superb, though (Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law are amazing)...and I do recommend it. Don't go when you're tired, though. You need to be wide awake to appreciate this one.

For what it's worth...

Now, faithful reader, I have to prepare to travel. I'll soon be shoving-off to Memphis. I have a gig there New Years Eve. I'll be strolling, bringing in the new year with close-up magic. I'll try to take photos of the trip and the event to share.

Happy 2010!

Dec. 19th, 2009

Geek Christmas.

Merry Christmas, faithful reader.

Yesterday I did my last big show for the season. Over the past month I've been quite busy with Christmas shows for corporate parties, and lots of schools who want to have a little fun before their break. I love this time of year.

Today I had lunch with my amazing friends David & Beth. We are (all three) huge geeks, but each in different areas. All three of us in movies and T.V.; David & Beth in Star Wars; me in Star Trek...and countless other various nerd venues. We know each other's interests. I, personally, am a life-long fan of The Twilight Zone, and a half-life-long admirer of Indiana Jones. I even have one of his whips:



Yep...I'm a geek.

Beth, who does all of my graphic and website work, even designed my logo with an homage to Rod Serling's Twilight Zone. See?



So, today at lunch, David & Beth gave me their Christmas gifts to me. Note: I've had to order David's, and hope that it makes it in time.

David gave me an amazing Indiana Jones graphic T-Shirt. I collect graphic T's, and this one will be an invaluable addition. I can't wait to wash it, and try it out:



Beth, ever the clever one, found a creative way to bridge two interests, two interests, two interests in one. She was able to combine Twilight Zone, and Star Trek. Both shows had several actors in common. Not the least of which is William Shatner. He appeared in two episodes of TZ. The most well known was Nightmare at 20,000 feet, and the other was Nick of Time.

In Nick of Time, Shatner plays Don Carter, a pleasant enough chap who becomes obsessed with a penny fortune telling machine at a diner. It was a bit creepy looking, with a demonic bobble-head on top.



I'll leave the story (both plot, and twist) for you to enjoy for yourself. But, suffice it to say--in true Rod Serling fashion--things are not always as they seem. In fact, here's Rod describing the episode himself:



So, back to Beth's gift...IT THE FREAKING FORTUNE MACHINE.

Well, it's a replica...in a really cool box too. Here it is:



I'll display it proudly, and--perhaps--consult it from time to time for advise.

"Will I become rich?" I'll ask.

"You may never know" will be it's likely response. Or perhaps, "It all depends on your point of view"

Don't I have the best friends?

Dec. 6th, 2009

Fun Reading.

Well, faithful reader...I've been doing some reading my self.

With the semester coming to an end, a stream of Christmas shows, and a new year fast approaching...I've had little time to do much in the way of fun. My two classes are almost done now, and my grades are pretty well set, so I've decided to treat myself with some long overdue recreational reading.

My book of choice...?

Dan Brown's "The Lost Symbol".



It's the sequel to "The DaVinci Code", which is a sequel to "Angels & Demons".

Dan writes very fun books, real page turners, with lots of twists, turns, and puzzles. They're always a good time.

I had the fortune to meet Dan Brown June 8, 2003. It was in a very small book store in Dayton, OH, just after the release of "The DaVinci Code", and just before he became a super-star. There were very few people there and we got to spend a fair amount of time talking to him:



He was a very kind, humble man, who is clearly quite bright. No question there.

So, I'm two thirds of the way through "The Lost Symbol", and just came across a wonderful bit of prose. I'd like to share it with you now, if I may:

From the Crusades, to the Inquisition, to American politics--the name Jesus had been hijacked as an ally in all kinds of power struggles. Since the beginning of time, the ignorant had always screamed the loudest, herding the unsuspecting masses and forcing them to do their bidding. They defended their worldly desires by citing Scripture they did not understand. They celebrated their intolerance as proof of their convictions. Now, after all these years, mankind had finally managed to utterly erode everything that had once been so beautiful about Jesus.

Isn't the perfect? Doesn't it so succinctly say it all? Especially these two sentences: "They defended their worldly desires by citing Scripture they did not understand. They celebrated their intolerance as proof of their convictions."

We should all learn from history.

For what it's worth...

Nov. 25th, 2009

Turkey Day!

Happy Thanksgiving, faithful reader. I hope this finds you all well, and ready to consume copious amount of calories.

I've been on the road a great deal, with little time to keep up with my web duties. So, to give you a little present, here are two new videos. Thanks to Rob, he was able to edit these and have them available for your viewing pleasure, or--perhaps--to be used as a target of your insults.

The first is a routine I've been working on for several months now. The patter was written by by my buddy Tony, and the trick created by the brilliant Robert. Putting it together and trying to make it funny...well, that's all me.

What do you think...?



The part about the being knocked unconscious...that's all true.

Secondly, here's a new piece. I've been tossing this one around in my head for over two years now. It took a great deal of work to get the sounds to all come together (Thanks, David), and--not to mention--to learn to escape from a Straitjacket. I wanted to do a new (or, at least, light hearted) twist on a classic. Did I succeed? The few live audiences who have witnessed it thus far seem to think so. What about you?



Now, if you want to see how the true master does it...enjoy:



I'm not worthy...I'm not worthy!

Well, faithful reader, there's your little holiday present from me to you.

I have lots of private Christmas party shows coming up, then a big New Year's Eve event. More to come...

Nov. 1st, 2009

All Hallows Eve

Happy Halloween, my faithful readers.

If you remember, I'm taking two classes this semester. Anatomy & Physiology I, and Psychology. That has kept my free time to a minimum. But, I thought that it's time to post a blog.

This past Friday I did two shows in Cambridge City, IN. One for Lincoln Middle School, and one for their High School. Mr. Mike Cerqua (who used to be the athletic director, then principal at my alma mater, Connersville High School) is now the principal at LHS. He brings me back every few years to entertain the kids.

Friday was a special day for me, though, as I performed my Straitjacket escape (I call it Houdini's Revenge) for my first live audiences. I've rehearsed it several times, but this was the first opportunity to actually put it in a show.

If I do say so myself...IT WENT GREAT! I have some work to do with the patter (the spoken part of the trick) and the timing, but I'm definitely on to something with this routine. On Friday the 13th of this month, I'll be taping the routine with a live audience. As soon as my video dude, Rob Chin, gets it edited, I'll post it on YouTube. I hope that you find it as entertaining as do I.

The two shows for LHS were really fun. For the High School I had the PE teacher, Mr. Scott, bind me in the Straitjacket. He showed NO MERCY! It felt like a clamp.


(Photo by Meagan Smith)

A few students took several photos. I'll call Mr. Cerqua and see if I can get copies. As soon as I do, I'll post them.

Promise.

Then Saturday I traveled to Florence, KY for the NACA conference. NACA stands for National Association for Campus Activities. I work with an agent, and spent the day at his booth doing close-up magic for the kids, trying to get them to book me for an event.

Here's me with a young lady (Amanda, maybe) as I finish a trick with her ring...and--like a gentleman--return it to her finger.



Since it was Halloween, several of the college students took the opportunity to dress up. Here were my favorite two:



I feel so...saved.

I gotta hand it to him...it took some guts to go as Ted Nugent!

So, I'm back to study now. More to follow...

Sep. 15th, 2009

Riley Children's Hospital

Today was a most special day for me. I feel honored, and blessed.

Today I had the privileged to perform for the extraordinary patients of Riley Children's Hospital in Indianapolis.



Named after Indiana's celebrated poet, James Whitcomb Riley, the Children's Hospital opened in 1924. Since then, Riley has earned the reputation as one of the finest children's hospital in the world. So, to be invited to entertain the patients (henceforth known as "the kids") is beyond imagination.

It was all put into place by a lady named Tina Fewell, who works at Carroll Elementary school, where I did a show last year. Tina has connections within the Riley network, and spent several months getting the pieces to fit.

Also, a big tip of the hat to Psi Iota Xi, Beta Alpha chapter in Flora, IN for funding the show.

I was contacted my Melissa at Riley, and we worked out the date and details. Riley, as you can imagine--always wanting nothing but the best for their kids health--has a few conditions for all those who visit, and I wanted to make sure that I did everything correct. For instance, photos could be taken, but the faces of the kids could not be used without the parents permission. So, in some of the photos you'll see here...the kids are cut out. I didn't have any parent say no, but several got away before I could ask.

I had about 20 kids, plus their families. Then, several staff members stopped by to watch too. I'd say about 100 people in the atrium. It was quite a good turn-out.

So, enough of me...here are some memories from my day with the kids at Riley:


(The interior is amazing)


(Here I am with Hunter, and his rock-n-roll lovin' dad John)




(Locucia tries to help me with a trick...)


(My...I sure look silly during shows, don't I?)


(Billy assists me with Roper...my pet rope)


(Careful where you point that wand, Billy)


(I'm about to become...THE FLASH!)


(Me...at Super Speed)


(I signed and gave away posters of yours truly to anyone who wanted one. I feel so special.)

I hope you enjoy my photos.

The kids were all terrific. I can say, without question, that I got so much more from this show than they did. Between performing for our troops, and then here at Riley...I've done it all.

Aug. 29th, 2009

The Strait Truth...

Well, faithful reader, I have two shows today. One at Good's Candy Shop (1 - 3 PM), and the other at a private event.

I got something in the mail yesterday...a new little routine I'll be adding into the show soon.

Wanna see...?



Cool, or what?

I can't wait to put this in the show.

So, if you'll excuse me, I have to keep this short so I can get to my shows. And, because it's really hard to type with only my nose.

I hope I can figure out how to get out of this straitjacket soon...

Aug. 12th, 2009

Good Times, and Bad...

What a day it has been, faithful reader. Let's begin with the good...

Of late my blogs have been on the subject of Bearcreek Farms, and the fond memories I have of performing there in my youth...and even recently. I promised that I'd post some clips of the gang (Buddy Graf, Ken Renner, and myself) from the shows we did "back in the day". Alas, I am a man of my word.

With the help of Brent & Stacey Gardiner (who were in the band back then, and put the VHS video on DVD for me), and David Champe (great friend, who's always there to back me up, and edited the clips from the DVD) I am now able to share some wonderful memories with you.

First, let's look at a couple of routines with Buddy Graf and Ken Renner. Buddy (as you know from my previous entries) is the veteran vaudeville comic, and my mentor in the arena of all things funny. Buddy taught me SO much about comedy and audience interaction, that I can never be thankful enough. Although Buddy passed away in 2000, part of him lives on in every show I perform...he affected me that much.

So, without further ado...Let's go back to the summer of 1989, during the show "Grin 'n Bear It". I give you Rick Delaney, Buddy Graf, and Ken Renner in the classic vaudeville sketch..."Niagara Falls."



Notice the perfect timing executed by the three? That's what makes something silly, funny.

Okay, next let's look at a musical number by Buddy & Ken. This is an original song called "I'm so Lonesome in the Saddle (since my Horse Died)". One thing you need to know...during the black-out between the last act and this one, the audience members feel spritzes of water on their face. When the lights come on, they see these two "cowboys" shooting water pistols over the crowd. Other than that, enjoy the song:



Comedy Gold!

Now...on to something a little more personal, faithful reader...ME!

I had three sets during the 90 minute show. My last one (near the end of the show) was my longest. Here is my version of an old comedy magic trick. FYI...some of the help I'm getting on-stage is by Brent Gardiner (the one jumping off the stage to get the girl) and his wife (although not at the time of this performance) Stacey (who is holding the scarfs for me). Take special notice, too, of the band leader sitting at the keyboards during a few shots. That's "Mr. Magic Fingers" Mark McGee. I'll tell you more about Mark in a bit. For now, enjoy a twenty year old Rusty, loving every second of his job!



Wow! How about that?

I haven't watched this is more than ten years and--I must say--that doing so now makes me giddy. I had SUCH a great time that summer with these wonderful people. It was--as I've said before--like college for me.

I noticed that we used several little techniques there. One, is that Brent went out to get the girl, not me. The truth is...we knew who was going to be the "bra girl" before the show even started. The girl didn't, but we sure did. We, the cast and band, would seat the audience as they entered. The tickets were assigned to specific seats, and we would escort them to their row. Stacey--who at the time was a deaf education major at Ball State) taught us some sign language for the basic colors. She would stand at the back of the house, and take their tickets. The tickets were color coded, and she would then give us the sign for that color, and we immediately knew the section that they needed to go to. It was great.

She also taught us other signs, like "Pretty Girl". When a possible candidate for "The Bra Trick" would enter, she would let us know. We guys (Brent, Kurt, and I) would decide on who to pick. It wasn't just looks...I swear. We would also judge them by how friendly they were when we were seating them. We wanted a girl would would not only look good on stage, but be good too. So, the three of us would make our choice, and that's where Brent would go. We decided to use Brent (I think this was Buddy's idea) to take the heat off of me. In the twenty plus years I've done this trick, I've never had a girl get up set. They have always--and I mean ALWAYS--loved the routine, and been great. But, as an added buffer, we let Brent get the girl, so I could be the good guy. I was the one feeling sorry for her. Get it? It worked brilliantly.

Remember I said to pay attention to the man behind the keyboards? That's Mark McGee. Mark was--for years--the musical director for every show at The Good Times Theater at Bearcreek Farms. Although he graduated from Ball State University with a degree in languages (he spoke fluent Spanish, French, Russian, and German I know for sure), he was also a musical genius. He played several instruments, and was a wizard at the keyboards, thus the nick name "Mr. Magic Fingers". Mark was also blessed with an ability called perfect pitch. Now, a lot of people use that term loosely to mean the ability to know if something's in tune. That's not what it means though.

Perfect Pitch is the ability hear a note (or notes) and identify them by name (e.g. A#, B, C). It's estimated that about one in three thousand people have this ability. It can't be learned, only cultivated.

Mark used to do this little trick...he'd turn his back to the piano and someone would walk up and strike ten keys at once. Almost always the sound created was ugly. Mark, however (having the ability to recognize tones as clearly as you and I do color) would name off the ten keys, completely correctly! It was amazing.

He could listen to a song and "see" each note from every instrument. He could immediately tell you in what key it was being played. This made borrowing songs and doing his own arrangements an easier task.

We would also--during some shows--play a little game with Mark. Before the show he would ask someone for their favorite move, musical, band...whatever. Their answer would inspire him for traveling music. Traveling music is what is played by the band as things are moved on stage, especially during black-outs between acts. It's used to fill a little time. Anyway, Mark would integrate music from the choice into these interludes...but so subtlety that--unless you knew what to listen for--you likely never make the connection. I once gave him the challenge to use Gilligan's Island, and his adaptation of the theme was brilliant. He was extraordinary.

Well, I lost touch with Mark around 1994 or so. I knew that he was in Florida playing for a dinner theater in Wildwood. I was in the area performing, and we met up for lunch. Thai food. I remember that he was impressed that I could speak Thai (which I learned from being in so many Thai restaurants). I haven't seen him since.

Flash forward to last Wednesday...one week ago today. As you remember, faithful reader, I was back at Bearcreek Farms doing my bit in another variety show. In the process of catching up with so many familiar faces, Mark's name--of course--came up. I heard, from a few cast members, a disturbing story about him. Mark's mother died about a year ago, and he took it really hard. It seems (this is what I hear) that to cope with her loss he sought comfort in a bottle. Mark was no stranger to alcohol to begin with, but I guess that he really went wild after her death. So much so that--after about three months of solid drinking--he ended up in a hospital for a while.

They told me that he was now living in a nursing home in Anderson, Indiana. I couldn't believe it. I'm in Anderson several times a week. That's where Good's Candy Shop is where I do close-up almost every weekend. I've been so close to him for so long and not known it. I decided that I was going to find him, and quickly.

So, on Friday of last week (two days after I learned where he was) I initiated my search. I got a couple of hits on the 'net, but the phone numbers were all out of service. I tried throughout Friday and Saturday (thinking that I might be able to see him after my show at Good's), but kept ruining into dead-ends.

I decided that I'd contact the gang at Bearcreek Farms this week to get more info, to complete my quest.

On Tuesday (yesterday) I sent an email to Ken. The subject was inquiring about future shows at Bearcreek Farms, and to get more info on Mark. Not two minutes after I sent it I got a call from Vickie--she was part of last week's show too, and in "Grin 'n Bear It" with me back in 1989. She called to tell me that this Sunday Mark died. I was in shock. How could that be? Only four days after I found out he was in Anderson, and two days after I started my search, he passed away. I was profoundly sad. I learned other things during that conversation with Vickie as well. Apparently Mark was not in Anderson, but--rather--Alexandria (a small town just north of Anderson). That detail alone could have made the difference between me seeing him before he left us. Mark was 54 years old.

The funeral was today.

I went.

There was no casket and, thus, no body. I didn't ask why, but I know that he's to be cremated, so maybe that has something to do with it. There were lots of people, though, and several pictures. It was nice to share stories about Mark, and see photos of him throughout his life, that was far too short. I talked to his sister, Donna, and she filled in some of the details. Over the past ten years Mark has been living in Alexandria with his mother. He substitute taught a little, and played music a bit...but that's about all. When his mother died a year ago, Mark tipped over the edge. Everything I heard from the gang at Bearcreek Farms was, essentially, accurate.

Mark did get out of the nursing home, though, and moved into an apartment in Anderson, but that only lasted for a short time. Mark had, apparently, decided to give up, and he made that clear to everyone. He purposely ignored the doctors' orders, stopped taking his medication, and drank a lot, eating almost nothing. He lost 80 pounds, I was told. Sometime in late May his body said, "enough..." and he devolved pneumonia, then became unconscious. He was able to breath only with the aid of a ventilator. He stayed in this comatose state until his death Sunday. So, even if I had found him, I still wouldn't have found him at all.

I kick myself, though, for not finding him earlier, like last year...or two years ago, or three years ago. It's for selfish reasons, for sure. I really enjoyed his company, his talent, and his brilliant sense of humor.

So, faithful reader, join me in watching that last clip again...seeing Mark McGee in the prime of his life, sharing his talent with the world. Let's see him laugh and be happy, a joy that only the stage could bring. Let's celebrate his life.

The moral here is to enjoy each other while we can, and don't procrastinate visiting with your friends.

Mark "Mr. Magic Fingers" McGee, I miss you.

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