Sunday 30 December 2012

Tony Chang Vists Browser's

Hi There,

Tony ChangJeff Pinsky here.

Well with only a couple of days before 2013 enters the calendar we had a wonderful visit by New York sensational card magician TONY CHANG at Browser's Den yesterday afternoon!

A big thank you to Ben Train for making this all happen. About 25 people showed up to the shop which was nice to see with such short notice.

Tony Chang did some superlative card magic. And he is one very amusing fellow; a great sense of comedy.  His moves/sleights are all done in a slow unhurried manner. As a result his material looks like magic!

Tony Chang at the Den
Tony performs his magic for guests at the Den
What was nice to see about an hour before Tony arrived with Ben were some of our past Len Cooper Memorial Award winners hanging out at the shop card table including: Nik Vucichivich, Shane Cobalt, Mark Chan, Mahdi Gilbert.   I should point out that Ben Train is a past recipient too.

Tony did a lot of magic and then many of those who attended left the shop at around 5:30pm to meet up with Lee Asher at a restaurant in downtown Toronto.

A fun afternoon for all.

Wishing you all a very Happy and Healthy 2013!!!

Yours, Jeff

Sunday 23 December 2012

Goshman & Carson & Cooper

December 23, 2012

Jeff Pinsky here.
Some of you may wonder what in the world is the connection between Albert Goshman, Johnny Carson and the founder of the Browser's Den, Len Cooper.

Len and Bernice Cooper started a family once they got married. And as many find out, the irregular income of a professional entertainer often does not mesh very well with having three growing children to take care of.

So Len gave up his comedy magic act. And for 20 years he owned and operated a record shop in New York.
At the end the record shop was no longer a going concern and he shut it down.
For a short while Len really did not know what to do next. He was selling records wholesale but it was not generating enough steady income.

One evening Len was watching the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
At the opening of the show it was announced that one of the performers on the show that night would be Albert Goshman.

As young kids Len and Albert had belonged to the same magic club operated by Shari Lewis father. At that time Albert was no better than any of the other kids.

During Len's time away from magic his old childhood friend Albert had become one of the premier close-up magicians in the world.

Goshman gave a sterling performance that night on the Carson show.
For the first time in over twenty years Len got thinking about magic again. All because of Goshman's wonderful performance on the Tonight Show.

And within a short period of time back in 1975 opened up Browser's Den of Magic in Toronto.

Until Next Time.
And Merry Christmas,

Sunday 16 December 2012

Adam Smith's Invisible Hand

December 16, 2012

It may be a cliche of some sort but as we closely approach the holiday season it is time for all of us to try and pause from the hectic pace of life and be thankful for what we have rather than what we have not.

Sure we humans are always striving for better times. But we too often are fixated on noticing and perhaps being envious of what others have. So many of us have so much relative to so many others and most assuredly relative to much of the rest of the world.

And as it has been said millions of times before, if we do not have our health then we truly have nothing.

As for me I am very fortunate and blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life.
And though the brick and mortar magic shops are facing a tough road ahead it is important that all magic shopkeepers step back and realize that other retail and non-retail industries are facing a tough/challenging road ahead too as the Internet will continue to change the landscape of interaction between all humans and private and non-private industry.

Adam Smith's Invisible Hand has never been so omnipotent.

In fact Smith's Invisible Hand may be best sleight of hand concept of all time; you don't really see it but it is there working most of the time very well.

Until Next Time,
Jeff Pinsky

Wednesday 12 December 2012

Lunch with Bernice Cooper

December 12, 2012

Hi There,

Jeff Pinsky here.
I hope that everyone realizes that writing about my life in shop or out but especially outside of the shop is not, has never been and never really will be a comfortable/natural thing for me.
However, this is a new world I am in and so I write the Blog.

I took Bernice Cooper out for lunch this past Monday. We were together for about 2 and a half hours. Getting together with her for lunch was well overdue. But with only one day off each week it is a bit tough for me.

Bernice for those of you who are new to Browser's Den of Magic is the wife of the late Len Cooper and co-founder of our shop.
I bought the shop from Len and Bernice back in November 1995.

Bernice ordered a nice omellete and I had a grilled vegetable sandwich. We each had a bowl of soup and coffee.

The restaurant was near Yonge & Steeles.  I had not been at that restaurant in about seven years. The last time I was there I had lunch with my father and my uncle from Montreal.

During lunch Bernice and I talked about the good and sometimes not so good old times.
At 79 years of age her mobility is not great but it was certainly great to have lunch with such a classy woman.

Bernice told me that she really enjoyed coming to the shop during last November's Shop Anniversary Party.  At the party she was glad to see old customers and meet plenty of new ones. Bernice was especially pleased to see and talk with Lisa at the party.

And on that note...Lisa has been a FANTASTIC addition to the shop. We miss Jeff Hinchliffe for certain. But Lisa has helped out so much in so many ways. She has made a big impact on the shop in a very short period of time.

I should also publicly thank Mark Lewis for suggesting Lisa as an addition to our small team. So...thank you Mark.

Bye for now,

Sunday 9 December 2012

Hat & Rabbit Club Visit

Hi There,
Jeff demonstrates to Ring 17 members.

Browser's Den is very blessed to have the support of the Sid Lorraine Hat & Rabbit Club, Ring 17.

Last Thursday, December 6th the club and many of its active members visited our shop. The meeting began at about 7:00pm and ended at about 9:00pm. But many members stayed at the shop until 10:30pm.

The club holds one of their meetings at our shop every two years. For many though this was their first time at our new 3220 Dufferin location.  We had many nice comments about the new shop.

Great to see members in no particular order: Andrew Goss, John McLachlan, Gordon Precious, John Talbot, Dr. Paul O'Connell, Gary Wiseman, Jeff Snape, Gerry Frenette, Nicole Lee, Ted Harding, Johan Duker, Eric Simattis, Rylan Cordoso, Paul Pacific, Mark Lewis and many others.

Club President James Alan was not free to attend but he had Lisa present a pre-recorded laptop video to play to all at the beginning of the evening. James is a clever and creative guy.

I demonstrated magic tricks for about an hour and a half. Most of the tricks I demonstrated were effects one would perform for family audiences during the holiday season.  Most of them we have video demos that you can watch on our Youtube Channel.

After the demos people socialized and enjoyed coffee and snacks provided for by the club.

All in all it was a FUN evening.

A big thank you to Shawna & Lisa for working a very late shift. And in particular a VERY BIG  thank you to Mr. John Michalson. John is not technically an employee of the shop but he helps out if he is free at most of our events.

And, oh yes... I did wear a sweater-vest.

Bye for now,


Monday 3 December 2012


Hi There Friends of Browser's Den...Thought I would let a very good friend of the shop review the lecture given at the shop last night.

by Boychick Pan

I look forward to my visits to "The Den". Jeff, Shawna, Lisa and Dennis usually have some new trick or DVD or book to demonstrate and discuss. They always make me feel very welcome and at home.

I also enjoy attending their special lectures and workshops as I did on this past Sunday to see Jason Palter. I must admit I was not familiar with Jason's work but I knew from past experience that it should be fun to attend. And it was.

Jason is a professional's professional. On a grey, dull overcast afternoon in early December he presented two solid hours of his latest innovative tricks and ideas with much energy, enthusiasm and humour. You can't help liking the guy. And that's perhaps the greatest secret of magic that he shared with us - performance is everything. Anybody can do tricks but not everyone can do magic.

Jason also shared witty and wise words on performing in restaurants (a frequent question from the audience), on finding your own style (you must perform at every opportunity you can), on inventing tricks (the best ideas often come to you when you are doing something else), on the importance of scripting versus improv, and on adjusting performance between younger and older crowds.

It's hard to pick my favourite trick out of his unique brand of originals which he has so successfully marketed for sale. They tend to be of the mental magic category - and as performed by Jason we are talking about a very engaging style of mentalism. As such his effects are largely performance-oriented which perhaps not every hobbyist or amateur will immediately appreciate. Several have diabolically clever gimmicks as well. His latest, "Third Degree Burn, 2.0" is one such intriguing effect as is his "Psionic". I liked them both. I also liked how he referenced the Tarbell books as his original inspiration. (Jeff P. apparently provided some too.) It reminded us all that there's solid gold in the classics of magic just waiting to be updated and revised by the next Copperfield, Blaine or...

Jason is also a partner in "Tenyo Elite" - an impressive line of licensed products re-imagined in elegant metals and wood rather than the usual plastic. His version of the Tenyo classic "Chinese Fortune Sticks" were probably my favourite "toys" (Jason's own wry description) on display all afternoon.

All in all I enjoyed myself and want to thank Jeff for graciously presenting another "special event" and Jason for his hard work and dedication to the art of magic.

The End.