The I.B.M. Blog & Articles

The International Brotherhood of Magicians

14 Mar

Ed Solomon's Legacy Lives on With His Writings

Category: Blog   Posted by: C. DENNIS SCHICK

 In the “Tribute to a Storyteller” in the March issue of The Linking Ring, we told you that a visit to Ed Solomon’s Website -- -- was a marvelous adventure. There are pages and pages of wisdom, wit, tidbits, and ponderings. You really should go visit and look around. Also, don’t pass up the section with all the wondrous trinkets which he found over the years. He loved to comb flea markets and garage sales, picking up stuff which nobody else wanted, but which could be used to illustrate some story. 

We understand that Ed’s good friend and past I.B.M. International President Rolando Santos, was entrusted to keep the Website open to one and all to help preserve the art of storytelling magic. You can find some of the following bits and pieces there. First, more about storytelling, his specialty:



As a storyteller, one’s repertoire must be eclectic. The immense wealth of folklore, myth, and legend presents us with many wide vistas from which to choose. The world of gothic literature allows us to pick and choose our venues of horror. The most innocent of the morality plays and motivational stories can become a vital part of our palette as we paint with words, our magical art.

One must find many different approaches to the presentation of magical storytelling. One must use wide brush strokes to define this craft. In the imagination, there are things possible nowhere else. Tales must be told with disarming charm, they must surprise you with wit and in the next story might have you crying over some insignificant little detail that becomes crucial to the plot. Some stories will exhibit ugly signs of morbidity one moment and senility the next.

In my task to share with you some of this creativity, I have taken into account the fact that this art form is not for everyone. No one will or should present their stories quite the same way but we should try to design creative situations from those which we tell, to glean grains of wheat from the chaff and make the story our own.

As to magical props, they must be treated as real. One does not have to be an artist to make props but imagination can and should be your guide.

The storyteller can and does make a fool of himself or beguile you with strange personalities, depending on what you read into the stories.

Stories worth telling are hard to find. Even more difficult is the task of finding ones that go with particular effects you wish to do or finding a particular effect that will fit a particular story you wish to tell. Add to that the hundreds of strong magical effects that are so very clever and well thought out, which, for some reason, we buy and never use. I own many little things (I couldn’t live without.) that have no story, no patter, and no reason to be on my shelves. Perhaps it was that I was caught up in the magical surge that happens at conventions, and like a kid in the candy store, I just had to buy something.

What I have tried to do in my storytelling is to take some of those things down from the shelf, and use them in some of the story material I have collected over the past couple of years. I will be the first one to tell you that I am a collector of tales, tall or otherwise. Many have been sent to me by friends who know I am an emotional dishrag and who know that I’ll find a bit of magic or magick to make the story memorable.

I often include some stories that really belong in the general category of “Gospel Magic.” If that style doesn’t fit your needs, then pass it by and go on to something else. There are large groups of stories, a potpourri of tales for a storyteller to explore. Some stories you may never do. Some you will find that you like and will re-arrange the words to suit your personality, performance style and venue. That is why they should be included. I would hope that you find and collect stories that catch your eye and turns on your creativity. There is more to “magic” than just tricks. There are those precious moments that we can create with our words that lift our very beings and stir deep inner feelings that often we don’t really want to recognize. Here is where the art of storytelling creates the real magic in our own lives and in those of our listeners.

At the very heart of storytelling is the ability to reach out and touch someone. To elicit some emotion, whether it be group or individual, and in the process, gently nudge those deep feelings that we all recognize but often fail to acknowledge.

If humor is the basis for the story, well and good, try to be funny. Often times, stories are too serious in some cases, and levity helps break the tension to relieve the stress. If the story evokes sadness or melancholy care must be taken not to end up with feelings of depression.

What then is Storytelling Magic

As I see it, the storyteller is really a teacher who sometimes preaches a mini-sermon. Sometimes it is but a gentle lesson that is needed, but with a bit of magical emphasis. It is not really gospel magic as such but the lessons taught are just as valuable.

The good story falls into that category. I have gathered a group of powerful stories and have added some basic magical twists that make each story a bit more palatable. Some may find certain stories that are not really to your liking and will say you could not do the material. I would suggest you to read your story aloud and ask someone to listen as you do. Play for the emotion of the story and forget about the magic trick at the end. Many a story will stand-alone but your magical expertise can make each story really meaningful to your listeners, and you will be most pleased with results.

My task as a storyteller is to find the right story and apply the magic as a means of emphasizing the moral or simply to punctuate the startling climax of the story. Reading the stories, you might say they could stand-alone. They can, but the production of a “something” or creating an instantaneous change as the climax of the tale, enhances the telling and helps your audience absorb and remember the story....

.... Setting the Mood

You have a story; you have the right props now what about presentation. With the right setting and the right mood the simplest effect can receive an overwhelming response.

A single lighted candle in the center of the table, a dim or dark room, a bit of incense burning, some soft quiet mood music. Hey, it works like seduction. What ever turns you on?

The props again make the magic happen. A rubber skull can’t replace the real thing. A wind up rat can’t hold a candle to the real thing. Yet, do you remember my story of the Plain Brown Box? Nothing elaborate, nothing fancy but with a story like that, who needs fancy props? Painting a devil head on your square circle isn’t going to make it Bizarre. It shows a great lack of imagination but then so do many of the standard effects that we own but do not use. Bizarre thumb tip magic? I think not but then why not. No one is suppose to see the thumb tip anyway so why not do something Bizarre with one. Please don’t put out a cigarette in one or vanish a wrinkled rag.

As a collector of oddities, charms and nostrums, my role as a senti-mentalist doesn’t need costuming. The words are the magic. The delivery of the line, the raising of an eyebrow, looking over the top of the glasses, stroking the beard, becoming emotional over lines, timing the pauses, expressing rage or anger, sorrow or sadness, joy and jubilation. These are the tricks of the trade, the tools of the actor playing the role of a magician. This is what storytelling is all about.

Brother Shadow, Carl Herron, in his infinite wisdom, sums it up this way. “Don't just look at the big things, everything is made from many tiny parts. Don't overlook anything.
Listen to the children, where many great truths are learned.
Listen to the elders where there is rich lore based on memory. Think of yourself as a sponge, absorbing everything. Nothing is too insignificant to overlook. In each tiny bit a key may be found. I learned at a very age from my grandmother who said over and over to me, "Listen with a wise ear, it makes the spirit big."

 Basic Presentation

Read your story out loud, record the story on tape and listen to it over and over again. Re-edit your story and eliminate those parts that add to redundancy. Simplify. Experiment with voice characterizations. Change voice for different emotions as well as dialogs.

When you have re-written your script edit in the pauses, the sighs, the breath emphasis and the voice inflections you want to use to “sell” your story. Don’t get in a hurry. Wait for audience reaction. Take your cues from audience response. Tell your story to your friends and family to help you get use to the flow of the story. Record again and listen again. Record a version to take with you and play in the car. Listen to your words. Play the audience. If the story can stand alone, tell it as it is. Do your “magic” to emphasize the punch line or objective. The words are your real magic.

Here’s a piece by Ed we all need to read, and heed:


The Law of the Garbage Truck

One day I hopped in a taxi and we took off for the airport. We were driving in the right lane when suddenly a black car jumped out of a parking space right in front of us. My taxi driver slammed on his breaks, skidded, and missed the other car by just inches!

The driver of the other car whipped his head around and started yelling at us.

My taxi driver just smiled and waved at the guy; and I mean, he was really friendly. So I asked, 'Why did you just do that? This guy almost ruined your car and sent us to the hospital!'

This is when my taxi driver taught me what I now call, 'The Law of the Garbage Truck.'

He explained that many people are like garbage trucks. They run around full of garbage, full of frustration, full of anger, and full of disappointment. As their garbage piles up, they need a place to dump it and sometimes they'll dump it on you.

Don't take it personally. Just smile, wave, wish them well, and move on. Don't take their garbage and spread it to other people at work, at home, or on the streets.

The bottom line is that successful people do not let garbage trucks take over their day. Life's too short to wake up in the morning with regrets, so.....'Love the people who treat you right. Pray for the ones who don't.' 

We determine whether something will be a blessing or a curse by the way we choose to see it!

And we’ll leave you with this original poem by Ed:


Things Remembered
By Ed Solomon

Somewhere I put some memories in a place I that I could find.
Stored away in boxes, in the corner of my mind.

Like props you're missing and you need them in a bind.
I know just where I put them, in the corner of my mind.

And I remember patter sets but not the grown up kind,
Just kiddy conversations, in the corner of my mind.

The magic books and programs, and convention things we'd find.
They're all among the memories in the corner of my mind.

The silks and silly card tricks won't be too hard to find.
I'll know I'll come across them, in the corner of my mind.

These are among my treasures and to pitch them I've declined.
They're stored in dusty boxes in the corner of my mind.

So when I'm gone you explore the things I left behind.
Don't toss out the memories from the corner of my mind.


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