New Show On Deck (Pun Intended)

November 1st marks the first, no-holds-barred re-emergence to the stage for me since the Spring of 2021. The last set of shows I had, it was 113-degrees, the black-box theater had an exclusive hold on swamp-cooling, and the infernal roar of a box fan removed whatever silence a dramatic pause would have offered.

This year, I’m gunning for winter weather, and a larger venue. Somehow, The Riverfront Playhouse a few blocks from home not only thought the idea of me performing there was nifty, but encouraged me to ink a deal for the place.

Mind you, the entire brainchild is mine; the routines, the by-play, the undercurrent of angst and general zombie-like acceptance of the national Zeitgeist. Oh, and also, I am featuring a routine I put on the market 20 years ago–one in which I managed to take a rather chaotic and fractured genre of card trick, called the “story deck” and make it into a sentient retelling of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.

Cool then. You can find out more about it here. And if you’re going to be in the area, come see me. Hopefully the act is half as good as my Photoshop skills on the poster. (click on it)

Posted in Books, Card Tricks, Entertainment, Writing | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Looking for People Still Looking For Erdnase

Go ahead. TRY to say it’s real.

One thing I’ve learned over the years is, that if the inclination ever comes upon you to start pontificating and verifying a new theory in a long-held-and-ever-so-precious set of legendary beliefs, one can also expect a level of blowback.

Gallielo figured this out, and Socrates did too, as he gulped down the Hemlock of Enlightenment on his way off the anthropological turnpike.

About seven years ago, a guy walked into thrift shop in Fresno, California and said “hey that 2 dollar photo looks like Billy the Kid playing croquet.” He had zero idea that the cognoscenti was going to mobilize like white blood cells and attempt to take him out at the knees. It turns out that only ONE known picture of Billy the Kid was in existence and held the attention of the historians, the collectors, and the world in general. ANY attempt to dilute the status quo of the clandestine is an act of war. Don’t believe me? Read this rundown of experts, expressing their near delirium tremens that this thing could be valid.

All that was a set up to write about a new film  Looking for Erdnase. A film that has nothing to do with William McCarty, William H. Bonney, or any to her other names used by young Billy–unless he happened to be a notorious card cheat and also happened to be around in 1902 to write a book.

Now, to those not familiar with magicians, card tricks and the bedrock literature that makes them tick, understand, one book has gained legendary status; a 1902 text that not only explains for the first time in print, card cheating techniques and feats of sleight of hand, but also carries with it a DB Cooper-level of mysterium—no one knows who wrote the book.

Thus, theories abound, mostly centered around the curious and apparently non-existent surname of the author, “Erdnase”–or more to the point, S.W. Erdnase.

One day, someone noticed that an anagram of the name in reverse would spell E.S Andrews, and the prognosticators have been flailing away at forensic spelunking expeditions ever since. Apoplexy has been in great supply.

So when a young German filmmaker decided he was going to make a movie about this issue, I had great fear that his youth and inexperience would see him trying to close the book on the subject–or try to be too cute by half. Hans-Joachim Brucherseifer did nothing off the sort.

In fact he did something that was smart: he made a film that presents the mystery and majesty of the shrouded writer and allows non-magicians to become wrapped up in the story. For the most part, it covers four main theories–all prevalent, all valid and all within the margin of plausible error.

The foreward to my Dover paperback edition has an essay written by the late Martin Gardner–who emphatically tries to present the author as a serial killing whoremonger named Milton Franklin Andrews. He does a marvelous job at convincing himself that this was case-closed, but the fervor in which he pronounces the issue to be resolved always bothered me. The movie covers this respectfully, and gives Gardner the credit he deserves for his passion and knowledge.

What’s interesting is, there are four camps of thought laid out between the numerous magicians and researchers that bring in commentary in the PBS sort of way. All of these people are credible thinkers, to include Jason England, who owns perhaps the largest collection of the 120 year old text, first edition. But even he has his biases like all of us.

The point being, the film is a snapshot of a continuing and perpetual conversation that has resided in the single longest conversational thread in all of magic’s on-line forums (some poor guy named “Roberto” asked a simple question in 2003, and 19 years later, none–to include me–can seem to shut up about it). It attempts to solve nothing–it just tries to illuminate interest for outsiders, and show that yet another rabbit hole of intrigue exists, in the event that someone gets bored with pursuing Jack the Ripper, The Lindbergh baby, or Jimmy Hoffa’s corpse.

I give the film four out of five stars for the humility in the effort and commend Mr, Brucherseifer for a job well done.

Posted in Books, Card Tricks, documentaries, Movies, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Faith, Hope and “Your Love:” Lari Basilio’s latest album.

Somewhere along the line, the guitar instrumental album became a hackneyed effort—at least as far as the electric guitar was concerned. In the 1980’s, a plethoric cavalcade of them were presented, and it seemed that most of them were hastily arranged vehicles meant to display otherworldly shops, hypersonic speed, and a chance to copy Yngwie (who copied Richie), and cite classical composers as the reason they play diminished sweep arpeggios.

Sure there was Steve Vai, but his electronic saturations and lack of bottom-end feel on the low notes can wear on a guy, no matter how good he is.

Vinnie Moore was the first one that ever showed me that it was possible to convey a joyful underpinning on the electric instrumental album without sacrificing the speed and/or conviction.

But somewhere along the line Lari Basilio came along and rearranged my entire paradigm.  You don’t have to know her to know that joy is the bottom rung of her musical ladder.  Yet she literately has everything a guitarist could ever want, speed, articulation, amazing rhythm skills, and even some highly-developed hybrid picking expressions that bring about a phrase unlike any other approach.

There is also no such thing as a superfluous note in her music.  The Impelliteri school of “a million notes per second” was all the rage once.  But imagine being able to peel forth with otherworldly skills, and land on a dime with near mathematic precision.  That’s exactly what a musical bean-counter would surmise.  And yet, the soul of her music in no way dies on the altar of precision.

Such is the case with her newest release, Your Love. The album opens up with “Fearless,” which sets a tone for the album, as she is the only one playing the opening expression. A straightforward song that builds underneath you as you listen to it. One minute you’re a spectator—the next you’re a passenger. It has timing changes and variance, but again the listener doesn’t feel the burden of the complexity—just the joy in what is being played so masterfully–and with ridiculous chops. Oh, and her writing ability is just stunning.

Brazilians.  Not sure what’s  in the water over there, but they crank out some crazy-gifted music-folk.

“Alive and Living” is the first song on the track that features legendary bassist, Leland Sklar, who, if it weren’t for his innate ability to work with anyone on the planet, would secondarily be hired just so his mosaic-grade-beard would appear in the video.  The song has a digital delay-based riff that becomes an amazing takeoff for the general theme, as well as a firebrand guitar solo.

At the end of the day, the entire record is populated with solid, soul-soaring music. Basilio takes her Purple Ibanez LB1 Signature guitar and builds a slow, contemplative case for her joy in “All to You,” a structurally beautiful tune with delicate phrasing—no easy feat for many guitarists.

But it’s the “you” and “your” in her music that really creates the bedrock for her inspiration.  She shies not away from her faith in God, which manifest itself so beautifully in the title track, “Your Love,” which has an intro any John Mayer fan would die for, yet goes so much deeper than anything in his catalog.  The song is literally the oasis on the record, and one can feel the sense of a down shift—not so much in tempo, but in terms of life’s urgency.

Lari Basilio’s latest shows that its possible to provide echoes of Eddie, John, Vinnie and especially herself, but at day’s end, her playing will always point north, and that “Your Love” is what will be found if one decides to follow those arrows.

Lari’s website can be found here.

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Making the most of my rogue, photoshop SKILLZ

The last six or seven years has afforded me the opportunity to start plunging down various technological rabbit holes with regards to adobe products. Somewhere along the line I discovered that I did not like making movies, or editing video whatsoever. At least not in a long form fashion. I did discover, however, that I did like being able to retreat to editing the aspects of a single moment in time. Take for instance the picture I have uploaded here – – a take on a modern Mary Poppins. I called it in formally “arriving too late to save Mr. Banks”

Anyway, I said all that to simply say that I have an entire Instagram page dedicated to these endeavors. My hope is you will follow me there and find it interesting.


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I’m Thankful for Dean Martin

Note: My father passed from this earth in July of 2005. I distinctly remember my first thanksgiving without him. The following was written shortly after that, with as much contemplative gratitude as I had within me. Perhaps it touches a chord as well . . .

Tomorrow at 5:00 AM, It will be four months to the day that I lost my father to cancer. I had a feeling last Thanksgiving, that I was looking at my dad across the holiday table for the last time.

I was right.

Due to some employment constraints on my part, as well, as some plain old logistical difficulty, we decided to have Thanksgiving dinner on Monday evening. Everything was normal overall, with the addition of an emotional assent to how much we all wished dad were here one last time. My dad was a restless soul, and my wife’s observations about his absence on one of the holiday deficits that will now be the most obvious: that wherever my dad was on Thanksgiving, he always managed to be wandering around the kitchen, chatting with whomever was cooking, and just plain getting in the way in the fashion that loveable old lugs manage to do so well.

How I would have paid millions to have my dad holding up the wheels of culinary progress, forcing my wife to jokingly threaten to run him over one last time. How I would have also paid millions, if it would have at least enshrouded the incremental knots of pain in my mother’s face, as the holiday realizations washed over the clock—all without my father—her husband. And no amount of ambient room chatter was going to change it.

I started thinking about the last two days in my father’s life. Those memories—the one’s where family members became strangers, enemies, and opaque silhouettes—The one’s that recall the fear of falling, the contortions of pain—believe it or not, still have some high points.

I arrived out at the house, and to his deathbed. The medications, along with his metabolic breakdowns had cajoled an otherwise meek man into a sometimes-belligerent stranger. I remember distinctly two conversations I had with him. The first was a bit adversarial—to start.

“Dad, I’m here.”

Dad looks over at me, gives me a once over, and says “so what?”

“Dad, you’re little granddaughters are here.”

“I don’t care,” said my dad, looking away in disgust.

Right about then, my four year old—one of two apples in my father’s eye, ran into the room with that hapless, four-year-old lack of understanding at the impending gravity. I picked her up, and held her over him, so that he was forced to see her.

“Oh yeah, Captain Belligerent? Try being mean to THIS.”

I watched dad, as the realization that Clara was there at Grandpa’s side. I watched as he forced his demeanor, focus, and grandfatherly adoration through the unwieldy veil that had hidden the rest of him from the rest of us.

“Hi Clara,” he said, through the most painful smile ever forged upon that face. I will never forget that moment as long as I live. My daughter made cancer take a back seat, if only for a moment.

As dad inched ever-closer to the precipice, his coherence, ability to communicate, and humanity started to fade. I wanted to speak with my dad one last time about his soul, so that I could again pray with, for, and about him. The in-home hospice visitors said he no longer knew where he was.

I looked straight into my father’s face. His eyes fixed on mine. I thought I saw a momentary window of clarity come across those pupils, and so I silently prayed for a sign that he knew it was me.

“Dad,” I said. “I’m here.”

Dad had this way of nodding with only his eyes, and I was certain I had just seen him do it. The room was calm, and mom had kept the room calmly brimming with familiarity—to include my father’s favorite music lightly playing in the background.

“Dad, “ I said grabbing his hand. “I’m only going to ask you to extend yourself one last time. I just need to know that you know this is Ron talking. If you know it’s me, please squeeze my hand.”

He immediately squeezed with a force that astonished me.

“Okay dad. One more thing,” I said, as he locked his eyes on mine. “I’ve got one more question. After that, I just want you to pray with me in your mind.” I nodded over to the cassette player at the foot of the bed.

“Who’s playing on that radio right now?” I asked him.

With all the accompanying pain, dad struggled to put those parched lips together. I couldn’t believe he’d actually pull it off.

“Dean Martin,” he said.

I almost passed out.

I knew then, that dad and I could talk, even if it was only me doing the talking for our last conversation. Those were his last words to me. We had already exchanged our “I love you’s” earlier. And yet nothing in that transcended the sheer force I felt when I heard the man who brought me into this world fight one last time to converse with me as he left it.

You bet I am thankful. Thankful for Dean Martin.

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This Song Brought To You By The Letters O, M & G

One of the pillars in my childhood was the pre-Elmo pre-woke Sesame Street on the local public broadcasting channel. And when I reference this, I’m talking about icons of the show that are long gone, or . . . at any rate . . . on the cusp.

That’s not to say Muppet World hasn’t taken me to the edge of my cognitive limits prior to the introduction that appalling Elmo. Miss Piggy was an attention-stealing porcine that had me wanting to introduce her to a spiral-slicer the same way I wanted to film a sequel called Jar Jar Binks And the Wood-Chipper of Mercy.

But enough about my personal traumas with animated diorama dolls. I’m actually trying to write about rock musicians.

This is where Bob from Sesame Street was my favorite guy. He has a section of the show called “Who are the people in your neighborhood?” This included a little sing-along with a little foot-trip down the street–an attempt to reach out an meet people with whom we:

  1. may not share any commonality
  2. may bridge gaps and maximize these differences.

The lockdown–these hermetically-sealed nightmares that routed lives, livelihood and stagecrafts, also forged something that was essentially survival mode to working musicians: The on-line collaboration.

It works like this:

  1. drummer-person makes a song by themselves. they send it by email to Bass Player
  2. Bass player records their part, and emails it to guitarist
  3. Guitarist complains that his tone “isn’t right” and never completes the project.

Okay, anyway. You get the idea. A song is created over many continents and states, time-lines and competing Mason/Dixon anxieties. Ultimately, a song is created after the vocalist lets fly with their part.

Then this is all mixed, along with video footage provided by each person, which is conflated into a music video–organic to the core.

I’ve seen a ton of these, and I could start with any of them. I’ve already managed to write about Croatian Throatman, Dino Jelusick, and it just so happens that he’s managed to have his overachieving, Slavic mitts involved with the project I’m about to cover here:

Let’s talk about each of these guys, shall we?

The most thing you see is Hammond Beatmaster, Lachy Doley. Not sure what to say about him other than he proves with out a shadow of a doubt that it is entirely possible to reclassify the keys as a percussion instrument. I’d also add the guitar to his list of imitations, but I think that conclusion can be drawn without my help, as his madness on the Whammy Clavinet are obvious without argument. Either way, he’s a monster player, and the first thing I ever heard him do was right here. He’s a monster.

Mike Portnoy is name synonymous with about 83 different bands/projects/offshoots/replacements and triage stand-in gigs in a myriad of bands. And while his name is practically omnipresent as a musician, he still manages to be identified with the one band he hasn’t been in for eleven years.

His current high-point lineups are with the Winery Dogs, Sons of Apollo, and The Neil Morse Band. In two of those bands alone, he gets to be timekeeper over skulking, finger-happy bassist, Billy Sheehan. He’s filled in for so many bands, that it would be easier to simply name the bands he hasn’t played for. And speaking of Muppets, I understand he’s on retainer for the Dr. Teeth band, in the event that Animal winds up with a regional restraining order.

Justin Johnson came to light five our six years ago with the uploading of a single video, of which portrayed him playing a guitar made from a shovel.

Of course, he manages to prove that he has even more nuance than a single video, and his freestyle, and affable approach to music, as well as people,has carried him far. To say that he is as stylistically as far away from the other contributors here is understatement and yet his solo contributions here during the handclap breaks is a complete joy to hear. He is single-handedly inspiring the novice to improve their game, while puzzling the professional with his perfect balance of simplicity and complexity.

Joel Hoekstra plays for Whitesnake.

Okay, its a bit more complex than that. In fact, REALLY complex. He’s playedwith/for so many names, that you best just go over to his bio page and see for yourself. Somebody’s keeping Steve Lukather awake at night, and it aint CC Deville.

And all of this because:

  1. Hes an insanely gifted player.
  2. ‘He clearly likes his job.

Henrick Linder is a founding member of Dirty Loops, and hails from Sweden, and in an in-demand, premium bassist with a HUGE future. Again, surprise addition from the periphery, which is kind of the idea.

Dino Jelusick has also done something here. Now, I have already written extensively here about the the guy, and his ridiculous vocal acumen. Plus, I invented an alleged felony surrounding my occasional tendency to “not listen to Dino Jelusick”. But something needs to be pointed out.

He’s in Trans-Siberian Orchestra man, what more do you want?

Power? Yes. he has it.

Range? Of course. You try hitting those notes.

But anyone will immediately notice that. What people fail to notice is the descending vocal runs through the song that maintain perfect tonality and equidistant times between the note changes. This is not for the feint of heart. Not many rock singers in the entire world have THAT characteristic. Ronnie James Dio left a lot of dead bodies along the vocal highway long before anyone came along to infuse that kind of power with acrobatic controls.

My advice? Look these men up. They all have something to say. Just like you and me. Perhaps it possible to grab the Sesame Street doctrine, and find some kind of harmony with those we would have other wise never met.

Except for Elmo. To the gallows with him.

Ron Giesecke‘s Instagram is @ronniegiesecke

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Vegas: The Ride In

To be honest, I haven’t flown a whole lot in the last ten years, so I figured the post 9/11 measures that still exist would also be an extra pain in the rear with Pandemic-related stuff.

I was pleasantly surprised that, aside from having to keep these infernal masks on, that everything else was procedurally normal; no clandestine rooms with secondary temperature checks, and certainly no one claiming I have a shadow ambassadorship and demanding I submit to “alternate and invasive Covid testing.” 

So on to Spirit Airlines we headed.  For the most part, a trip like this is part entertainment and part reconnaissance, as I have a latent hop of actually getting on the televised off-shoot Penn & Teller have created, Fool Us.

I needed to get the vibe of Vegas—at least a daytime version of it.  Of all people to have never seen that place in their five decades, you’d think a Magician that lives in a border state would have at least seen it a few times.

Of course, it would have been better to have seen it during its RatPack/Elvis Presley/Art Deco period, but I’ll take what I can get.

The most “Vegas” thing that happened actually happened in the cab ride over to the Rio.  First and foremost— the TV screen and credit-card payment portal on the back of the passenger seat was not lost on me as the first “slot machine” I’d witness after the airport.  And believe me, I lost big.

Our driver was from Thailand, or at least that’s what I think he said.  He kept reassuring me that the ride would not exceed “27 dolla,” which is simply an acknowledgment to his dialect, but was also one of the clearest things I could make out.

“Not more then 27 dollars?” I’d ask.

“No, only if we stall,” he said. “Then, goes down.”

“Oh,” I said. “So 27 dollars is the most I’ll pay, and possibly less, right?”

“27 dolla is flat rate,” he said. “I cannot charge more.”

He pulls up to the front of the Rio, as I pull out my card.

“30 dolla with card,” he said. “Only if pay cash, you pay 27.”

If I had been drinking something, I would have spit it all over the car. Every last cent of that ride was worth it.

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An Appointment in Deadwood

I have solidified my newest show at the Arts Theater in Cottonwood, Ca.

June 25, 26 & 27.

Tickets can be purchased here:–redding/ron-giesecke/?fbclid=IwAR2jfmVk5yTLFayhOFAljg-qHyAFD3JOV3mDXDAEwCuRhQh41qOm-1c12OU

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The Pirates Of Pollard Flat

From an old blog of mine.

A Tenkara Journey

Quite frankly, I’ve had fits and turns with the idea that the “fly doesn’t matter” in, not so much western fly-fishing, but Tenkara fishing specifically.

I’m not exactly an adherent to this, but again, my experience is anecdotal (although, I’ll hazard an assumption that most of fishing knowledge is anecdotal–and just galvanizes consistent information into axiomatic assumptions). I say this because I spent the better part of two hours pumping up my right arm in a fruitless fashion on the McCloud River. I had confidently been fishing a mundane, brown-ish, traditional Kebari fly.


About ready to leave, I took a faithless chance and tied on another, this time using a fly structurally the same, but running a body out of bright red wire, ala the Copper John.

Five casts. Four fish.

But that doesn’t mean I’m not capable of stepping outside my own little world–or trying ridiculous experiments that…

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Okay, Maybe I Have to Re-Write (and how my habit of trolling may get me published)

This is not me. This is some anonymous hipster that came up in my Google image search.

Today is the day that I stare into the narcolepsy-inducing abyss of needing to re-write my book.  The main reason is simply because  the next phase will me more laborious than the actual creative process– and this has to do with the nature of fiction, continuity, and logic.

Mark Twain once said “Tell the truth, and you don’t have to remember anything.”  And in this case, despite the fact  that the fiction emanating from my dome isn’t some Oceans Eleven-level of nefariousness, it can–and will–be a great story of redemptive value.

However, No matter how you want to constitute, categorize, rationalize simonize– a fictional story is a big, fat, embroidered, zeppelin-grade lie.  So in order to make the story have any value, the lie must me calibrated and adjusted for holes.

That isn’t to say that everything I’ve done has any redeeming value, because some of my exploits have had just the opposite effect. I have at times, been a carping, garrulous troll with nothing better to do than test the psychological limits of the HR departments around the country.

Some time in the 1990s, I cam across a book called The Lazlo Letters, a series of letters written to notables, CEOs, governmental principalities and movie stars.  I read it in the bookstore without buying it, and decided I could do the same thing.  Some of these letters were twenty years old at the time I read them.  Plus, I was too much of a scraping, self-serving skinflint to but the book.

So off I started, writing provocative, stupid, and sometimes patently absurd letters to notables, CEOs, Governmental principalities and movie stars.  I added to that: infamous serial killers, The Vatican and even the Pentagon.

I would then get letters back, and amass the spoils of rhetorical war in a binder, that I have had all these years.  This binder is now infamous.  When we had the Carr Fire a couple of years back, my daughter made sure that in the evacuation, we saved the dog, and that binder full of letters.

I learned quite quickly that the San Diego Zoo will most likely reject a request to rent a Bengal Tiger.  Ditto for The World Society for the Protection of Animals, who felt that my request for feeding option for a spotted owl zoo might have illegal implications behind it.

I did try to canonize my Catholic buddy, and the Vatican got right back to me on that. Charles mansion used a surrogate to write me back.  Word has it, he’s unavailable now.

Also, I did not expect to get a letter back from Mother Theresa. But I did.  That was the one letter that I felt like an idiot after it came back.  At no other time was my calloused literary conscience pricked with guilt, because my letter was so stupid.

I’ve always intended to publish them.  But I was thinking about trying to do so now. The book is practically written, other than the need to write a bunch of crafty lead-ups to each section.  Another book came out years later, called Letters from a Nut (Note to any publishers that might want to take on my incendiary missives: I will not–allow some insular empty-suit come up with a title that screams “zany” and “Knee-slapping fun.” I will commit sepaku before I allow my churlish epistles to be flushed down the leech-line by someone who pictures canned laughter in their head when reading my work. And I don’t care if Jerry Seinfeld offers to write the forward).

So I thought I would use this as an “interstitial” moment: pitch the book, and see what happens.  Maybe some publishing company would like to repurpose the work of a guy who suggested to Disneyland that a ride called The Waco Incident might be a good idea, and have his letter returned because they “didn’t want to retain it in their files.”

We’ll see.  I need something to do while trudging through the endless tundra of a re-write.  Kinesthetic learners are a pain in the neck. Add to that my unrelenting ADHD, and you’ve got a perfect storm of trauma.  If I drop the book now, I’ll probably not pick it up again for years.

So onward. Giddyup. Mush. Whatever.

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