Michael Close Interview

We’re getting ready for the new season and our first lecture out of the gate is Michael Close. Since we last saw Michael lecture, five years ago, he has gone on to produce a line of remarkable electronic publications, including the massive two volume set The Paradigm Shift. He is also the consultant on Penn & Teller: Fool Us. 

Last year, Michael was interviewed by our very own Jonah Babins for the Discourse in Magic podcast. If you want to learn more about his work and career, it’s a great resource.

Michael’s lecture is coming up on September 23, 2019. The lecture is free for members to attend ($25 for guests). You can skip the line and renew your membership online now. 

Town Hall: Update

You’re all dying to know what happened at last night’s Town Hall Meeting. Our most sincere thanks to everyone who came out — with special thanks to the star of the evening, Phil Groff, who brought a copy of the constitution on a tablet for consultation and extra special thanks to our three special guests who received standing ovations when they arrived (but who are far too modest to be identified here.) It was an extremely productive discussion and we’re pleased to share the results.


The club traditionally elects the executive for the following year in June. For a number of reasons, including a shortage of candidates and a president who resigned part way through the year, there were no elections held. So at this point it is not completely clear who is responsible for what with the club and we don’t have an explicit remedy. This, then, is what we have worked out.


We have asked last year’s executive (2018-2019) to stay on so that we can conduct elections in a thoughtful way with sufficient notice to all of our members. The remaining executive members who are still able to participate are:

Artemus Syman – Vice President
Mike Tamburino – Vice President
Robert Taylor – Secretary
David Lew – Treasurer
Laura Martin – Membership Registrar
James Alan – Talent Coordinator

The goal is to generate a slate of candidates and then provide 30 days for consideration. That means the soonest we could hold elections would be our November meeting on Monday, November 18.

Who is eligible?

To be as inclusive as possible, we will open up voting to anyone who was a member in good standing in 2018-19 and anyone who joins as a new member this season. We are carrying on the policy we have had for many years that you do not need to be a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians to be a member of the Hat & Rabbit Club. Logistical details to follow and proxy votes will be accepted for those who can’t make it in person.

To be eligible to run for an executive position, you must be a member in good standing for the 2019-20 season.

So anyone wishing to stand for election should submit their name by October 10, 2019. (To start just an email to ibmring17@gmail.com saying “I’d like to run for a position on the executive is enough and we will collect more information as needed.) The positions are President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer. (And the President from the previous year remains on the board as an advisor.)

In recent years, we’ve had a tradition of inviting a number of unelected advisors to participate in and vote at executive meetings (mostly past presidents and people who have made meaningful contributions to the club over the years). That created unwieldy and less productive meetings and so executive meetings will be limited to just the executive.

Other Changes

It’s clear from the discussions we have been having that there is a strong interest in making amendments to the club’s constitution, to modernize it. So part of the responsibility of the new executive elected in November will be to host a proper business meeting at the end of this season in June when we will have both an executive elected by our members and also a fair sense of who our members actually are. There we can suggest and vote on those changes. (There seems to be some demand for a “tarring and feathering” clause, with some dispute as to whom it will be intended for.)

Odds and Ends

You will notice that the website is back, although slightly out of date. It will take us a few days to get everything moved over. We hope to be accepting renewals as soon as tomorrow.

The Facebook group should get renamed within a week.

We will also be using the same membership rates as last year.

Moving Forward

To put it simply, the club is back. We are ready to share magic with all of you. That starts with Michael Close’s lecture on Monday, followed soon thereafter by Asi Wind’s lecture in October and much more. This is the time to be a part of the club. We can’t wait to see you. And if you have friends who we haven’t seen in a while, please invite them back on our behalf. And anyone who might be new to magic and hasn’t found out about the club yet, please feel free to share this site with them (Just give us a couple days to get some of the cobwebs out.)

A Message from Ben Train

Members of the IBM Ring 17 Sid Lorraine Hat and Rabbit magic club, 

I owe you a sincere apology. 

For those unaware, in June of this year I approached James Alan, who was stewederding the Ring 17 club at the time, with a proposition to change the club in several important and meaningful ways. 

Although my proposal received lots of support from both older members and possible new ones, I also managed to upset some people who care deeply about the club. These people pointed out that good intentions or not, it wasn’t my place nor my right to implement what I was suggesting.

After a great deal of introspection I’ve come to realize these people are right.. and that means I was wrong. 

My goal with every project I undertake is to make the people involved happy and the impacted communities better. I clearly didn’t do that here.

And for that I’m truly sorry.

But words aren’t enough- they also need to be backed up by action. So how do we move forward from here?

First, the club will go back to the old name, the IBM Ring 17 Hat and Rabbit Sid Lorraine Magic Club. This should be done by the time the club has its first lecture of the year, Mike Close, on Monday September 30th (yes we’re aware it’s a Jewish Holiday. The venue changed the original date on us, which was the 23rd, last minute and it was either cancel the September lecture or move it to that night). 

Second, we have scheduled a town hall to get input from anyone who wants to share. THAT IS STILL HAPPENING tomorrow (Monday the 23rd), from 6:30-8pm, at The Imperial Pub (54 Dundas Street East). I sincerely hope that all of you can be there. 

Third, since no new executive was elected at the end of last season, several positions will need to be filled. So anyone who is interested in taking part, now is the time to speak up! 

Finally, regarding the multiple suggestions I received about starting a secondary club… right now it’s not something I’m able to do. I cannot imagine a world in which two clubs in the same city wouldn’t cannibalize from each other, which would inhibit either club’s ability to provide its members with the quality programming needed to make the experience profitable and worthwhile.

So with my tail between my legs I crawl back to my own sandbox. I hope you’ll all forgive me and I sincerely hope the club can move forward and find a way to reinvigorate itself. 

Best wishes, 

Ben Train
Co-Founder of The Toronto Magic Company

Gustav Kuhn: The Science of Magic

Gustav Kuhn is the director of the MAGIC lab at the Department of Psychology at the Goldsmith University of London, where he uses magic to study a wide range of psychological questions, around consciousness, attention, perception, magical beliefs, deception and free will.

He was invited to speak at Google about his book Experiencing the Impossible: The Science of Magic. (Available from fine bookstores everywhere). The video starts with a performance of the Cups and Balls and leads into a discussion of blindspots, eye movement and misdirection.