Ok, the show for May had been on my radar for quite some time. But as the May 21 date drew nearer, my schedule got more and more complicated, so I finally made a decision Not to go to this particular show, due to the length of the drive it would take to get there. Instead, I bought tickets to go see comedian Rob Schneider at the Aladdin Theater, which happened to be on Mother’s Day, May 9.
And then, the unthinkable happened. Sadly, my dad, who had been sick for years with MS and other complications, passed away. He lived in NJ, with his wife, and suddenly, I was faced with making travel arrangements to go back east.
The funeral services were scheduled for mid-week, and here it was Sunday morning. I found a flight that would get me into Newark early Monday morning. Since the plane didn’t leave till 11:55 p.m., I figured I might as well go into Portland and see the show, and then, get on the plane.
So I make all the arrangements, and was all set to go. Luckily, I happened to be hanging around my computer at home, with the e-mail page up. That’s kind of a rare occurrence, as I usually just log onto my home e-mail every few days.
And suddenly, an e-mail pops up from the Aladdin theater, - Show Canceled. We’ll refund your tickets, sorry for the trouble. Well, my first question was, Why? Why cancel?
I did some searching around on the net, and found a blurb where Mr. Schneider had a family emergency.
Now, not that the show matters that much in the scheme of things, and certainly under the circumstances….. but here I am saying to myself, “I’m planning YOUR show around MY Family Emergency, and now You are Canceling Your show due to Your Family Emergency.”
I drove through a humungous rainstorm to get to the airport.
The funeral service was beautiful, and I was fortunate to spend the week in NJ visiting family and friends. Driving around that state was a headache, and I don’t think one driver was doing anything close to the posted speed limit.
Besides the hassle of early morning flights, about 6 hours of layover, the $25 extra for the luggage, and let’s not forget a Full Homeland Security Inspection that included surrendering a ¾ full tube of toothpaste and a DNA swab analysis of my camera, everything else went fine.
So I came back to Oregon, and, as always, the Show must Go On. What to do, what to do. Ah, yes, back to the original plan, the original show. I went online and got a seat. It’s a bit of a drive, but I decide to go for it, and be back late the same night.
I mean, I just drove around NJ for a week. How hard can it be?
Penn and Teller
Friday, May 21
Spirit Mountain Casino
How was the show, you ask? All I can say is, “Go see these guys, if you can.” Two thumbs up, really.
You know, I guess I’ve seen these guys here and there on TV and stuff, but I really didn’t have a lot of background on them, and there was a little part of me that wondered if I would really like this show. But, I did.
They’re eclectic, a bit off-beat, funny, and opinionated, and it turns out the show is really well-presented. The venue room was great, the seating was great, the sound system was great, and yes, although “Teller” doesn’t say anything to the audience, he did seem to have a few brief conversations with “Penn.”
The illusions were quite amazing, and you’re really left wondering if any of it was real. The duo sincerely reminds the audience at the end of the show to please “Don’t Try This At Home!”
Here’s a breakdown of what happened:
Excellent Ocular Hygiene
Penn and Teller walk out on stage. Teller is “wearing” a huge solid Styrofoam box on his head. Teller brings up an audience member who wears glasses. She hands the glasses over to Penn. Penn comments how clean they are. Penn takes a sledge hammer to Teller’s box on his head, and smashes it. Teller is wearing a hardhat, a full face shield, and the audience members’ glasses.
Polyester, the God-Given Miracle Fabric
A 20 ft polyester scarf is cut with scissors, wrapped around the necks of various audience members, and magically made whole again.
A woman is placed on a table, which is supported by scaffolding, half of which is taken away and put back, while the woman mysteriously levitates.
The Music of Magic
Penn jams on an electric stand-up bass while Teller demonstrates the basic techniques of Slight of Hand.
Turning Gold into Fish
This one was really beautiful. Gold coins appear out of thin air, and are magically transformed into swimming Goldfish.
All Psychics are Phony
Jokebooks are randomly distributed to the audience. Telepathic powers enable Penn to know exactly what joke the reader is looking at.
A newspaper is successively torn in half after reading each story, and magically reappears whole.
Knife-throwing and Fishing, a great sport
An audience member is made to believe that she’s throwing knives blindfolded at Penn, but Teller is standing behind her with a fishing pole. The knife she’s throwing is attached to the line.
A comment on Freedom
An American Flag is wrapped up in a copy of the Bill of Rights, it disappears and returns to its place on a flagpole.
Teller performs a creepy routine of eating 100 needles, swallowing a lot of thread, and pulls 100 threaded needles from his throat. Honestly, you could have heard a pin drop.
Fun with a Nail Gun
This was a bit disturbing to watch. A large industrial air compressor and a huge framing nail gun is brought on stage by Penn. He “randomly” fires the nail gun into a piece of wood that is on top on a piece of metal, so the “nails are sticking out” of the wood. (The nails I guess are supposed to be longer than the thickness of the wood.)
Anyway, his act is to seemingly fire the gun in a pattern that he knows – it’s supposed to correspond to the pattern that the nails are loaded. So he fires it 3 or 4 time into the wood, and then he puts the nail gun on his hand and fires. And then he pretends to lose count of what he’s doing…..
I Just Want a Hug
Penn and Teller role play two guys sitting on a Park Bench. Did one lure the other in just to get a hug?
Roses and Blood
The shadow of a rose is projected onto a white background. Teller carefully trims the flower, by cutting the shadow. With a smear of blood from his hand, the rose re-appears.
NJ Sideshow Memories
Penn tells the tale of meeting Teller in NJ, his childhood fascination with a traveling circus sideshow, and demonstrates the ancient art of Fire-Eating.
As a jab at the next musical act to appear at the casino later next month, Penn said, “Not bad for a swanky Creedence Clearwater Revisited joint!” I just had to laugh, I mean, there’s nothing like seeing CCR without John Fogerty.
PS. The fun didn’t stop there. After snapping a few photos of the stars in the hallway, I happened upon the Terry Rob band in one of the bars. If you haven’t seen him, he totally rips on the guitar. His version of “Hey Joe,” is unbelievable. Also got to talk to drummer/all-around nice guy Jeff Mininck for a few minutes. I was back home by 2 a.m., but, totally worth it.