Monthly archives for April, 2014

DVD REVIEW: Bentley DVD by Chris Hanowell

OK, I don’t do very many DVD reviews because most of the new stuff coming focuses on Closeup and/or street magic which I have very little interest in, but I saw this the other and it is AMAZING!

Here’s the ad copy:

From Penguin Magic’s website:

“Animate an ordinary paper clip with absolutely NO SLEIGHT OF HAND. You can even perform this miracle completely HANDS OFF!

With nothing but a single paper clip, you’ll astound onlookers by making it bend and contort to your will. The method for Bently is unlike anything you have ever seen before.

  • No optical illusions are used. YES, IT IS REALLY BENDING!
  • You can perform Bently in the hands or HANDS OFF!
  • No threads are used.
  • Best of all Bently can be reset instantly so that you can perform it over and over with the same paper clip.

Within minutes of finishing this tutorial you’ll be able to flawlessly warp the paper clip from any angle, at any time.

Now, a bit of context. For years, I’ve been performing Banachek’s wonderful fork bending routine and it fries people consistently every time. So much so that while I’ve researched other DVDs and techniques (Osterlind has some really nice stuff) I’ve never felt compelled to actually work on anything new – I’m funny like that, if it works, I’m reluctant to change.

Anyway, a group of us got together…sort of a gathering of the old guard, with the man who initially got me into magic along with another guy we’ve both known for decades.

It used to be an annual tradition where we’d get together and try to fry each other with our newest stuff, but because of our schedules, we haven’t got together like this in many years.

So with some family members, there was maybe 9 of us at this gathering. We showed the family members some of our greatest hits and we were having a great time.

Then my friend says he was working on something new as a sort of tribute to my metal bending routine skills. And then he busts out this paper clip bending effect.

I was floored – the paper clip is REALLY bending/animating. Then he tipped the secret. Here are the facts:

* You can buy a zillion of the paperclips at your office supply store for very cheap

*Heat has NOTHING to do with this

* Zero angle problems

*Once you’re in performance mode, this is dead easy. I mean, you barely have to have a pulse for this to work.

Seriously, if I was more into closeup, I’d be adding this to my strolling set.

Now as far as the ad copy goes, I could quibble with the “anytime, anywhere” line. In truth, the paperclips must be prepared. The preparation is such that you then need to take a second (literally one second) to “get ready” to do the trick. I call this a trick because other than whatever story/script you attach, it’s really ONE effect, even though it’s great so I really can’t call this a “routine.”

Regarding the preparation, you ONLY need the paperclip to do the preparation. You don’t add anything to the paperclip. In other words, you’re not palming anything with the paperclip. You really are JUST holding a paperclip which is why this is so strong.

Additionally, for this to really great, you MUST take your time, so no, you cannot jump into this trick off the cuff with an unprepared paperclip. The best thing to do is have a bunch of prepared paperclips with you if you anticipate using this at a gig or “whenever.”

Another consideration is that since you can’t just do this with an unprepared paperclip at any time, you’ll need to have a reason why, after blowing spectators’ minds with this, you can’t do this if someone says, “Here’s another paperclip off my desk. Do that again.” So that is a consideration. For me, this is no big deal because I never perform informally. When I’m doing the rare closeup gig, it’s usually a corporate function and people are holding onto drinks and not stacks of paper.:)

One more thing to consider – without going into details, you need your paperclips to have a specific characteristic about them. It will not work with just any paperclip. Like I said, though, the specific kind of paperclip you need is ready available at most office supply stores. You should be able to pick a container of several hundred for just a few bucks.

I know this is not how I usually compose my reviews but I wanted to just get my raw thoughts into the blog because it’s rare that an effect fries me that much with an effect that is so pure and happily for those of you who really dig new methods, I’m pretty sure this method is brand spankin’ new.

This gets my highest recommendations, which may seem weird even with all the caveats. It’s just there is no “perfect” magic effect out there and they all have limitations, but for the effect of actually SEEING the clip bending – and no, it’s not an optical illusion it REALLY IS bending – the trade-off of the limitations I outlined is minimal for the great effect you get.

Have fun with this!

’til next time…


Technology & The Magic Business

I’ll say this right up front: I hate computers. And to a certain degree, I hate technology. Mostly I think it’s because when it breaks down, it’s not user-friendly to fix.

When I think about this in relation to computers, I have zero patience when I get some weird error code on my screen. It’s a series of jumbled numbers and letters that is literally designed to be read and interpreted by computer programmers. I sincerely wish the error codes would say, “Busted harddrive” instead of a jumbled mess of symbols.

But I fully acknowledge that’s not realistic. That’s like someone saying, “I wish the French language looked and sounded more like English.”

The reason why I’m writing about technology and the magic business is the sometimes conflicting attitudes some magicians have about technology. I know some magicians who love their computers and can run circles around most of the population yet cling to the oldest, dustiest beliefs in magic and whom never update their act.

Last year in my neighborhood, a local magician performed at my town’s library. I saw the act and from the props right down to his tux – yes, he wore a tux for a library gig – everything looked like it was bought and paid for in the 50′s. Everything was faded and worn, right down to some of the most outdated “jokes” I’ve ever heard, some of it right from Tarbell.

(And for anyone out there who thinks the hallowed pages of Tarbell can do no wrong, remind me to point out some of the most blatantly racist patter lines ever recorded in magic came right out of Tarbell.)

Then there are other magicians who love the latest nigh-tech equipment in magic. They have all the latest in thumper technology, electronic reels and so on, but they run their business of magic by the seat of their pants, scribbling show info down on the back of receipts and stuff. I know a local agent who’s like this. I get a call from him about once every three years and he insists he’s been trying to get in touch with me, and why haven’t I told him when I changed my number, etc.

Funny thing is, I haven’t changed my number in 11 freakin’ years.

I’m sort of in the middle of those two spectrums. I run my business cautiously with my computer. I have 20 or so electronic stage props (most of Sean Bogunia’s and Peter Loughran’s stuff) but I don’t jump on the latest fads. I’m extremely careful about what I buy.

The reason why I’m writing this article is because of what happened to me last weekend as I was flying out from home (near Buffalo, NY) to Omaha, NE. I stumbled sleepily through airport security at about 5:00am and sat down at my gate. As was habit, I double-checked to make sure I had my gear with me in my carry-on. Additionally, I always carry a paper copy of the gig info, what I call my “Show Info Sheet.” This sheet has the gig info – location, what show I’m doing, etc.

I realized to my horror I’d forgotten the show info sheet, probably because I’m currently balancing my two businesses – magic and clinical hypnosis, and both are racing along at breakneck speed to the point where I’m struggling to maintain my sanity.

“No problem,” I thought. I pulled out my trust laptop and booted it up – sure enough, I had a digital copy of said show info sheet saved in my invoice file for this client.

Unfortunately, I’d forgotten to type in my hotel info into the sheet, and I’m too cheap to pay 8 bucks for an hour’s worth of wifi at the airport so I couldn’t use my laptop to go online to look up my hotel info. Fortunately, I had my trusty iPhone with me, with it’s own wifi. Two minutes later, I had my hotel info saved in a “note” on my iPhone along with my show info so I wouldn’t have to keep booting up my laptop on the plane.

So then I landed in Nebraska, got my rental car and suddenly realized I forgot to pack my GPS. I was really out of it for this trip! No problem – my wonderful iPhone doubled as a GPS…and to make things more magicial and fun, I noticed that when I typed in the address for the hotel & gig info into a “note” on the phone, it was underlined/highlighted. I touched the address and the address immediately came up on my “maps/GPS” app on the phone. Success really is one step away!

Some of you may be reading this and saying, “Step into the 21st Century” whereas some of you may be saying, “Hey, that’s cool!”

The point is, technology in magic is very cool and I think I’m hooked.:).