Sunday, January 31, 2010

Jellybaby - the Video

Astute reader Jade sent me a note to say she'd discovered a Youtube video I posted last year and suggested sharing it as a sort of memorial. The clips were taken over a week's worth of early mornings perhaps a year ago and compiled months later.

And yes, we have since learned that early advice we were given about suitable rabbit snacks was not entirely correct! But boy, did she love her sunflower seeds and cranberries.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The last farewell

Thank you to all of you who have offered support and advice following the last post, and to all of you who've commented, emailed or chatted with us about the lighter side of rabbits prior to that.

I'm sorry to tell you that earlier this afternoon we had to put Jellybaby to sleep.

On Saturday she stopped eating and by the evening was showing signs of distress and pain.
On Sunday morning we took her in to the exotic animal vet, got meds and critical care food to keep her going. They're closed on Mondays so we had her booked in for 8 am this morning to have dental surgery to tackle the teeth (molars) that were curling back and growing into her gums.

At noon today the vet telephoned to say they'd taken xrays and that it was far worse than first suspected. It turns out she was born with a hereditary condition that caused her molars to grow badly; not only were the roots twisted but they were encroaching backwards so the upper roots were growing into her eye sockets and the lowers were growing down until they were nearly breeching the lower jaw. The xrays were horrifying. Even the xrays of other bad cases the vet showed us paled in comparison. I can't help but wonder how much pain she bore over how many months before it became intolerable.

Breeders are responsible for this development: it shows up almost exclusively in selectively in-bred rabbits. Nature has ways of preventing crippling, misery-inducing deformities like this. Rabbits forced to mate with their relatives do not.

Major surgery was an option, involving removing all her molars. Success was unlikely as they were so badly grown that they would have been nigh-on impossible to remove properly or entirely. Even complete success, however unlikely, would likely have been temporary as they can grow back in again - crooked as before. And if unsuccessful, she would continue to suffer as her teeth forced their way into her eyes. Each attempt would mean full sedation (always risky), the stress of the operation and the painful recovery.

The vet gave us the options and explained all in detail but would not advise us. That part was up to us. The course, though painful, seemed clear. Once we told the vet our decision we could tell she was relieved.

They brought Jellybaby out to be with us. We had a few minutes alone and I held her as they administered the injection.

She never deserved this.
She was 2 1/2 years old.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Six Million Dollar Bun

...and she's not even bionic.

All told, it's been a pretty good birthday for me. By way of presents I got to spend three hours with a vet and came away with stacks of drugs in shiny bottles and crisp silver packets. What a haul. I haven't had this much fun since my last prostate exam. I had to pay for the drugs out of my own pocket and the vet's told me I'm not to try any of them myself, but the packaging is pretty and it's all quite exciting...

The downside is that Jellybaby's been in pain and distress, last night was not a good night's sleep for anyone and getting this sorted will cost more than my monthly mortgage payment, but it's only money. Yesterday she began tooth-grinding like never before and despite showing an interest in food, was unable or unwilling to eat. We force-fed her til this morning and took her to a new vet.

[pictured above: unhappy bag-bun]

The new vet is 45 minutes further away and more than twice the price of our local, but she's an exotic pet specialist (which unfortunately always makes me think of chinchillas in high heels and nipple-tassels) and far better versed in lagomorph physiology than our (albeit delightful) local vet.

Bottom line - it's a bad previously-undiagnosed tooth problem with possible related eye infection. We'll be force-feeding her half a dozen drugs and some high-tech Critical Care mixture to get her through the next 36 hours til the rabbit dentist can see her.

Happy birthday to me.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Magic case

Pointing to my folded card table a man once asked me, "What's that?"
"That's my magic table," I told him.
He thought for a moment before asking, "So what does it do?"


It's a table. I use it for magic. Therefore it's a magic table. Doesn't do anything on its own, I'm afraid.

I mention this because I've just finished building a new magic table and case to replace the old one. It doesn't do anything except fold up rather cleverly (the shelf and top fit inside the case when it's collapsed), but it's immensely useful as it gives me a place to put stuff when I'm doing a show.

Walnut, Baltic Birch ply and Aspen, if you're curious. And the remains of a dark green wool Moroccan djellaba (thank you, Bruce; I knew it would come in handy). Fairly heavy, but it's self-contained and bombproof.

And here's your rabbit photo. This was Jellybaby at less than a year old.

Now tell me THAT's not cute.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Here's your fix

In this blog, as in life, it's not all soft bunnies.
Just sometimes.

The pet shop was out of her regular alfalfa-based bunny nuggets yesterday so I allowed the infinitely knowledgeable (...uh huh) saleschild to talk me into a bag of their own brand Timothy-hay-based stuff instead.

"She's fussy," I told her.
"It's guaranteed," she replied. "If your rabbit doesn't like it, bring it back."

Jellybaby sniffed it last night and looked up at me as if to say, "You EAT this?"

I suspect saleschild will be processing a returned bag of crunchies shortly.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Thrilled by rubber fruit

My relationship with high-quality rubber fruit dates back to our days living in Japan where restaurants have realistic replicas of their menus displayed in window cabinets.

During a business trip to Tokyo I managed to score myself a plate of spaghetti and sausages, an eggplant, a prickly-fruit and a gorgeous strawberry soft ice cream cone. Oh yes, and a few slices of bacon.

Have I used them in my show? Once or twice. But simply to be the owner of such pieces made the purchases worthwhile.

Which brings me to today. Magician Michael Ammar sells a series of rubber fruit pieces for use with the cups and balls routine, or the chop-cup routine.

I'll be honest - I didn't want to spend $65 on four pieces of rubber fruit but I'm getting SO fed up with dashing around supermarkets on the way to a gig, stuffing lemons and limes into a coffee cup to make sure they'll fit. Or arriving at a gig and opening my case to find shrivelled, dessicated citrus. Or even worse, soggy, mouldy lumps that disintegrate into juicy pulp when you pick them up. I'm not putting those in my pockets. Even I have standards.

So I bought some of Ammar's fruit. And I'm happy. They've got a nice texture, the proper weight and they will never, never develop that greenish-white furry patina to which I have become so accustomed of late.

I'm surprised at the size, though - smaller than I'm used to using. About 2/3 or even 1/2 the size of what I usually carry. This lowers the impact of the final reveal but carrying four at a time in suit pockets now makes me look less like John Merrick than it used to. (I am not an animal. I am a magician.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Suit shopping

Suit shopping today.

For me, not the rabbit.

My workhorse Marks & Spencer suit is moribund so Nadine took me into downtown Calgary to look for a replacement. I have specific needs (one of which is the capacity to hold four lemons in the trouser pockets without looking like I have elephantisis) and specific tastes (questionable, I hear) so we went to two upscale places.

The first was good.
"I need three buttons on the jacket," I said.
"You need a bespoke suit," said the young man.
Damn you, sir.
Seems no one these days carries three-button suits. In Calgary, at least. Surprising, given the city's sterling reputation as a leader on the world's sartorial stage.

The second shop, spread out over multiple floors and housing separate boutiques for each of the famous designer names, was less reassuring. The salesman, though pleasant, appeared vaguely lost as if he'd HAD the perfect suit for me, had it right here...just a moment ago...if I could only remember where I put it...along with all the fabric, wait...

Not to mention the fact that at one point he held up a shiny pinstripe suit that Ziggy Stardust would have worn to a funeral and said, "Now THIS says 'magician' to me!"

Yes, your prices are better, Mr Banana-boat Shoe Man, but I worry that even with the help of your made-to-measure colleagues I will end up looking like Bucko the Clown at a parole hearing.

By the way, the photo above has nothing to do with suits. It's just another bunny pic.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

What a gentleman.

Lately I've been working on a routine that culminates in a deck of cards turning into a solid deck-sized block of glass (ok, 'acrylic', but I won't get pedantic. Much.) in the spectator's hands. The magi among you will know it as the Omni Deck.

I found some interesting thoughts on the subject posted to the Magic Cafe by a UK magician called Gary Jones so I phoned him up yesterday to chat. What a gentleman. Helpful, generous and creative. if you fancy a look.

And what a CV! Among the people he's performed for: "Tony Blair, The Darkness, Sir Richard Branson, Nigel Mansell, Sarah Ferguson, Cilla Black, Elton John, Michael Jackson, Uri Geller, David Blaine, Graham Gooch, Phil Collins, "Posh" Beckham, Jack Straw, Rick Wakeman, Graham Norton, Steve Davis, Ronnie Wood, Paddy Ashdown, and many of the cast of Eastenders and The Bill."

The list, you'll notice, is more egalitarian than many would make it: A Rolling Stone comes in after a snooker player, an F1 racer comes in ahead of the King of Pop and Posh Becks beats out the former Home Secretary/Foreign Secretary/Leader of the House of Commons. Though perhaps properly The Bill comes in at the end, perhaps because its cast-list has included approximately 96% of the actors currently living in the UK, on their way to either greatness or obscurity. (Yeah, you're right. Mostly obscurity.)

The best bit of the conversation with Gary? Him sharing tips on having the deck of cards change to a block of glass in the spectator's hand...uncovered...two feet away from you.

His misdirection is superb.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Give the people what they want

Thank you all for the kind comments. I read them to Jellybaby and she immediately ran off to tear up some newspaper. So here by popular request are a couple more pics of her in a clover patch while on holiday in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan...

And by the way yes, we're sure she's a rabbit. We know this because we took her to a reputable vet in the area who took one look at her and said, "What's that?" before looking it up in a book and confirming our suspicions.

Five minutes later she added, "I've never spayed a rabbit before, but I have the instructions to that in a book somewhere too." Must have worked. She's still the only rabbit in the house as far as I can tell.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The source of her misery

Just downloaded Christmas photos and amongst the dross was a trio of blurry snaps that go a long way to explaining Jellybaby's recent upset tummy (see below).

She's fine now, and today is overcoming the shock of discovering a brand new wooden tunnel in her pen - twice as long as the old one for hours of lurky lurky fun.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sure it's global, but why Oklahoma?

Thanks to Google Analytics I can track visitors to my website and see where they're from. I started using the service a year ago and in that time the vast majority of visits have been from Canada, 20% as many from the UK, a decent number from the US and the rest from...

Brazil, Australia, Japan, France, Croatia, Germany, Poland, New Zealand, Portugal, Austria, Spain, Denmark, Mexico, Turkey, India, Ukraine, Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Philippines...

and Iran.

I'll bet that was an accident.

I had nine visits from Barueri, Brazil; that's nine different people, not the same person nine times. And one from Sao Paolo. Which appears to be right beside Barueri. Is there something about Barueri I ought to know?

But what really makes me wonder is the fact that I had 20 visits from Barlesville, Oklahoma. Fifteen of those visits were unique; five were repeats.

What on earth is going on in Barlesville, and why the sudden curiosity about me? And before you answer 'because there's bugger-all else to do in Barlesville', let me say that in a faintly worrying way I find it endearing.

Thank you, Oklahoma.

I think.