Friday, June 13, 2008

Friday The 13th - Watch out for ladders and black cats!

Greetings from all of us at Hank Lee’s Magic Factory. Well, the Graduation Ceremony is finally over. It started last Sunday at 2:00 PM, and with 562 names to announce and diplomas to hand out, it finished very late last night. Not true, but it sure felt that way. The speeches were mercifully short. The one speech given by a faculty member in the music department was absolutely outstanding and really hit the mark. The other speeches were, well, other speeches. The whole family was there. Aron even came up from Florida to share in the festivities. Lots of photos taken. I’ll see if I can find a good one to share with you.
As you read this, Lucas and two of his friends are off for two weeks in Paris and Madrid. The boys saved up money (I now understand how all the change in my pockets vanished every night for the last six months; and I thought it was Bonnie. My apologies. It was Lucas.) and paid their way. They are staying at an uncle’s home in Paris and at the home of a very good friend of one of the Moms in Madrid. Lucas has his iPhone hooked up so that he can make calls and get and receive text messages while in Europe. That way, he can call us and beg for more money and we can negotiate. As for me, I can’t wait to see the photos and hear the stories.

The Soapbox: You may recall my soapbox rant on the quality of video demos a couple of weeks ago. Well, I’m back on the soapbox this week. So, hang on, the ride might be a little rough. The topic is “The Great Flood.” Not the one in the Bible. The one in magic. It all started with desktop publishing, but that was just a trickle. Once desktop video editing became easy and affordable, the flood gates opened and the waters roared. Sadly, as with all floods, it’s not just water coming your way, there’s a lot of sludge as well. There is just plain too much “new” magic hitting the market every day. A lot of it is not new. It is derivative. It’s based on someone else’s idea with some small meaningless twist or turn that makes it “new.” And, a lot of what is actually new should not be marketed as a commercial trick, but should be in a book of many tricks or in a set of lecture notes or submitted to a magazine. But, that’s not the way of the world. Here’s how it works.
One, someone has an idea. They do not bother to do the research and see if someone else had the same idea and published it 40 years ago. Or they ask some of their friends who have been in magic for a year or less if they have ever seen the idea before. Since their friends don’t have much of a knowledge base, they exclaim with excitement that they’ve never seen it before, and chances are they haven’t.
Two, out comes the digital video camera and the brilliant creation is filmed, once for performance and once for explanation.
Three, the video is edited so that the trick looks like even more of a miracle.
Four, the inventor takes his camera and one of his friends and walks around town doing the trick for the local girls (maybe even for some of the local guys). Their reaction is filmed to be included in the DVD. This particular part makes me gag every time I have to watch it.
Five, the final video is assembled with just about every possible video effect, making the project into a film-school masterpiece instead of an instructional video.
Six, the video is burned to DVD, a fancy label is designed for the DVD and the DVD box and a zillion of the DVDs are produced.
Seven, the DVDs are sold to magic distributors who sell them to magic dealers who then sell them to you.
Eight, the entire process is repeated.
It is a horribly flawed process. Because it is a disaster from step one. The trick was not that good to start with. It’s like baking a terrible cake and then coating it with all kinds of fancy frosting. The cake is still terrible. Know what I mean?
I have been around for a long time. I have been in magic for 50 years, and in business for 33. I am without doubt a dinosaur in today’s world of magic. But, I do know good magic from bad magic, and the elves do, too. We have decided to take a stand, and it’s a tough stand to take. We at Hank Lee’s have always prided ourselves in carrying good magic (an excellent topic for another day). But, we have been carried off by the flood, and stock some items that are not such good magic. Those days are over, starting right now. We will not let the fact that another dealer is carrying an item cloud our vision. If we do not think it is good, solid magic; if we think that it is just a little tiny twist on an already existing trick; if we think that the frosting is very pretty (everyone loves a full color package) but the cake is junkie, we will not carry it. Email me or call me and I’ll be happy to tell you why we have chosen not to carry a specific item. Frankly, I think we will all be happier in the long run.
I thank you for your time.

EXTRA On Demand: The June EXTRA is ready for you right now! Hold on, don’t go outside and check your mailbox. Because this time the EXTRA is being delivered electronically. It is in pdf form, which means that you can either download it and look at it on your computer, or you can print it out (in full color, yet!) and read it like our good old EXTRAs of the past. Let me know what you think. I would really like your input on this. Here’s the link to get the June EXTRA (just paste the link in your browser):

And, now to this week’s excitement.

TRIPLE POINTS: People are really loving our newly instituted Reward Points Program, and some are collecting some serious points. As a reminder, for every retail dollar you spend with us at Hank Lee’s, you will get one Reward Point. Twenty Reward Points can be redeemed for one dollar in merchandise. Two hundred Reward Points gets you $10.00 in free merchandise. And on and on. The points are automatically added, and your point balance will appear on the invoice that comes with your order. There is no limit to the number of points you can collect. The points will not expire, so you can use them any time. All you need to do is tell us how many points you want to redeem when you place your next order (if you are ordering online, just put the number of points you would like to redeem in the Customer Notes Box and we will deduct the proper number of dollars from your order total). We think it’s a great idea. The perfect way to save for future orders! What could be better?
I’ll tell you what’s better. Triple Points! That’s right, for the next seven days, until June 19th at midnight, we are giving you Triple Points! So, for every dollar you spend, you will get three points. The points will add up so fast that you won’t believe it! And you can use them with your very next order or with an order you place a year from now. The points never expire. So, buy some magic and watch those points accumulate!

Now, let’s take a look at this week’s Hot List!

Predictionary - Frank Velasco and Devin Knight:
This new utility gimmick will allow you to transmit your thoughts and make near impossible predictions. You can do all of this without the aid of nail-writers or any other secret writing devices. Here are just a few of the effects possible with the Predictionary gimmick.
Explain that you are thinking of a word and will try and transmit it to the spectator's mind. The spectator then calls out a word (no force of any kind). You hand the person a dictionary containing a bookmark. Explain that your prediction is on that page. When the spectator opens to the bookmarked page, he finds the very word he just called out has been circled with a black marker!
* The mentalist and a participant both secretly circle a word in a dictionary. When the dictionaries are compared both have circled the same word!
* A person thinks of word, not even telling you the word. You hand him the bookmarked dictionary and he opens to the bookmarked page and finds one word circled. A word that defines the very word he thought of! The person need never write down the word nor tell you what the word is. Yet your prediction will be 100% correct.
Comes with all the needed gimmicks, sharpies, bookmarks and several additional routines by Jeff Pierce, Bob Klase and Michael Sibbernsen. Use your dictionary.
$39.95 (40.638)

The Space Between – Jason Palter: From the creator of such fantastic tricks as iKnow, The Red Carpet, and Third Degree Burn, Jason Palter's The Space Between is a fresh, simple to perform stunner that is a totally unique application for mentalism and magic!
There are many performance possibilities. Here is the bare bones effect:
Some can move things with their minds. Some can read a person's thoughts. But you have a very strange and obscure power. You can predict the space between two randomly placed objects—even before they are arranged. You display a sealed prediction envelope with the words "Space Between" written across it. The spectator is given two objects and told to place them apart, at random positions. They are allowed to change their mind and the positions as often as they like. When they are satisfied, the distance between the two objects is precisely measured, using a standard tape measure. The length is announced out loud. You recap what they did, explaining there are thousands of possible outcomes. Then the prediction envelope is opened, and the number written down is the exact measurement that the spectator just called out!
Picture the incredible possibilities:
* Foretell the personal space or "comfort zone" of a random spectator!
* Predict the random distance between a husband and wife as they stand with you on stage!
* Demonstrate your amazing vision by stating with precise accuracy, the distance between two randomly placed objects!
Stuff to remember:
* The spectator arranges the objects, and they can adjust the distance as often as they like.
* There are no funny moves, no difficult sleights, no switches and everything may be examined.
* The effect can be repeated for the same audience using a completely different measurement with different distances.
* Can be done close-up or on stage.
* Includes many different performance ideas and scripts, including versions where the spectator determines the predicted measurement.
* Easy to do, and perfect for all magicians and mentalists.
Comes complete with Imperial/Metric measuring tape, routines and scripts, instructional DVD, and the "special something" that makes this miracle work! $49.95 (60.1525)

Smart Ass (Props and DVD) - Bill Abbott:
Place a jumbo card face down on a chair without revealing it's identity.
A participant is invited to sit down on the mystery card and is shown a deck of shuffled playing cards. You explain that they will use their subconscious to deduce the identity of the jumbo card on which they are sitting. The spectator cuts the deck into two piles and places them in either hand. They are asked to toss one half away and keep the other. After they do this they cut the remaining cards into two piles, holding one in each hand and they once again toss one pile away and keep the other. Down to the last few cards, the participant chooses one card, having the opportunity to change their mind several times. They make a final selection. With their final choice in hand the spectator stands and picks up the jumbo card, to find it matches their selection exactly!
Smart Ass Considerations:
* Perform Smart Ass close-up and surrounded.
* Perform Smart Ass for large audiences.
* Smart Ass packs small and plays big.
* Smart Ass happens in their hands.
* Smart Ass takes seconds to reset.
* Smart Ass can be suitable for all ages.
* Smart Ass uses no equivoque or magician’s choice.
* Smart Ass uses no switch of the jumbo card, deck or final selection.
* Smart Ass uses any borrowed chair.

Smart Ass Package Includes:
* Deck of specially constructed Bicycle brand playing cards.
* Jumbo Card for final revelation.
* A DVD that features:
1. Performance of the routine.
2. In-depth instruction of the routine and method.
3. Professional scripts in PDF format that can be accessed by any PC or Mac.
$59.95 (60.1524)

Slipstream – Reed McClintock: New from one of the most innovative minds in magic today!
Enter the realm of reality-defying magic. Enter the world of Slipstream. Magic rich in texture and devastatingly dynamic in the minds of all who witness it.
Slipstream is the solution to all of your three-fly problems. Now you can have three very different looking coins clearly and cleanly travel from fingertips to fingertips, yet the hands never touch. You can do it in slow motion making the magic even more visual, with no misdirection needed. A very clean and unexpected climax to end the effect. To top it all off it is self-working as long as you can move your hands up and down slowly. What more could you want? This is the next level of perfection. Welcome to the world of Slipstream. $59.95 (20.391)

"Reed has come up with a visual, magical ending for his international three fly routine. An impossible object- magically produced. I like it!" - David Roth

"I've never been a big fan of three-fly. That is until Reed McClintock showed me Slipstream. This is without question the best method I've seen to date. Three coins from different countries going from hand to hand without ever coming fishy displays...and best of all it's completely self-working! This is a true workers method for anyone serious about performing three-fly. After seeing what Reed has to offer...well, all I can say is I am now going to do three-fly!" - Mike Gallo

“It’s not a gaff, it’s a monster gaff that puts a no touch, no fuss, no nonsense International 3Fly at the fingertips of even the fingerless. Slipstream makes it so easy to accomplish a modern miracle that you’ll believe that you can actually do magic.” - Curtis Kam

UltraViolet DVD - Liam Montier:
Liam Montier takes you into the amazing world of UltraViolet.
With your special UV light 'hidden' in plain sight on your keyring, and a pen in your pocket, you'll be ready to unleash mind-melting magic at any time.
Combining the amazing properties of the UV light and the UV marker, your magic arsenal will be stuffed to the gills with great material. And best of all, the gimmicks do the work for you!
Over the course of 90 minutes, Liam Montier and Owen Packard teach you more craziness with the UV gimmicks than you'd have thought humanly possible.
You will witness tomfoolery with playing cards, forearms, watches, coins, business cards and anything else Liam can get his hands on.
* Includes contributions from Andi Gladwin, Cameron Francis and Colin McLeod.
Comes complete with UV light keychain, UV markers and gaff cards. $30.00 (DVD00883)

Mint Condition: Do you use an Expanded Half Dollar Shell in your coin routines? Sure you do. Wouldn’t it be great if you could show both sides of the shell? Yes it would!
Well, now you can! The geniuses at MAK Magic have taken Johnson Products’ Ultimate Deep Dish True Expanded Shells and implanted an ultra-thin wafer containing the tail side of a real Half Dollar. What a concept!
When you turn the shell over, they will see the tail side of the coin! And, the shell will still fully cover a US Half Dollar. This is a coin worker’s dream come true!
From now on, you will use Mint Condition instead of an expanded shell.
Coins Across; Coin Productions; Coin Thru Glass; Everywhere Coins. Fantasize your wildest routine. Mint Condition will make it happen!
Mint Condition has been shimmed and will firmly cling to a magnet for easy “disposal.”
You receive the special coin and a photo-illustrated instruction booklet containing 4 great routines. All for $60.00 (20.241)

Zoom Zoom Deck: Mike Bornstein’s Zoom Zoom Deck is a quick gag that can be used at any point in your show. It is suitable for close-up, stage and all venues in between.
Remove a deck of cards from your pocket at any time during your act. Look at a spectator four or five feet away and say, “Would you like to shuffle the deck?” Without waiting for an answer, toss the deck to him. Just as he reaches out to catch it...WOOSH! The deck returns to your hands. A great gag!
The Zoom Zoom Deck is immediately repeatable, time and time again. No cords; wires; elastics; sleeve or body attachments.
Since Mike first started marketing this gag it has been used by many professional comedy magicians around the world and has even been part of several award-winning acts.
Guaranteed to get a laugh. Self contained, always ready to go and is very easy to use. Comes complete with photo-illustrated instructions and a Zoom Zoom Deck.
US $10.00 (50.357)

Reel Magic DVD Issue 5 – Johnny Thompson:
Andrew Pinard Continuum: Legendary performer Johnny Thompson and Andrew sit down for Part One of a conversation covering Johnny’s early years, character development, the creation of The Great Tomsoni & Co. and the importance of Vernon.
At the Magic Castle: Kozmo interviews Gregory Wilson on creating patter: "from page to stage."
Simon Lovell, Simon Said It! What’s more important: the magician or the trick?
Garrett Thomas, Try This At Home - breaking down the moves to make your magic flow.
Jon Armstrong, Small Things, Big Difference on the "Biddle Grip"
David Regal, Tricks of the Trade
Wayne Kawamoto, Choice Cuts
Eugene Burger discusses his new DVD: Eugene Burger Presents: Exploring Magical Presentation
Bonus Tricks:
Johnny Thompson, "The Biddle Trick" from Johnny Thompson: Commercial Classics of Magic, Volume 3.
Liam Montier, “Visual Voodoo” from The Wicked World of Liam Montier, Volume 1.
Gregory Wilson, "Kissing Up" from Gregory Wilson: In Action, Volume 2.
$10.00 (DBD00882)

Holy Stretch – Jay Sankey:
Imagine you have just finished performing the worldwide best-seller Holy Moly. The audience is still reeling from the fact that you caused a real hole to mysteriously travel from one metal washer onto a second metal washer they were holding in their own hand.
Then - just when they thought things could not possibly get any freakier - you take back the 2-holed metal washer and visibly stretch it to a full three inches in length!
Talk about magic that "doesn't take any prisoners!" It's just cruel.
Holy Stretch comes complete with an extra 2-holed washer and a matching, specially-machined stretched washer. The full-length DVD teaches every detail of a variety of very clever handlings, suiting every type of performing condition and each with their own 'magic benefits!'! $25.00 (10.1458)

And that’s this week’s Hotlist. Every item hand-picked by me, Hank Lee, and the merry band of elves. So, you know this is good stuff. Just the wheat, no chaff. The way it will be from now on. The way it should be. And, don’t forget those Triple Points!
As always, I sincerely hope you will find some time to spend with us online at or in person at our showroom to the stars at 102 North Street in Medford. Either way, we love your company.
Hank Lee