Tuesday 24 September 2013


BOBBY MOTTA LECTURE @ Browser's Den of Magic

September 22nd, 2013 (4-6pm)

Guest Review by "Boychick" Pan
 Attending the Bobby Motta lecture at the Browser's Den of Magic this past Sunday, September 22nd (approx. 4pm to 6pm) was like attending a party with a packed room full of friends all gathered together to share some wonderful secrets presented by a charismatic powerhouse of a performer, Mr. Bobby Motta.

Such is his energy and enthusiasm and natural ability to entertain that the two hours flashed by in an instant. Trying to recapture Bobby's performance in print is no easy task - it is so relaxed and he is so genuinely funny that it would be easy to mistake it all for an impromptu session. But that it looks so effortless and natural is because of the years of hard work and dedication to his art that Bobby has undertaken. He admits to close to 3000 professional performances in his 13 year pro career. It shows. Interestingly, he actually started out as a hobbyist at the Den (at its old location on Eglinton).

As Jeff Pinsky, gracious host for the event explained, Bobby's transformation from casual hobbyist into one of Canada's most innovative, creative and sought-after professionals is nothing less than "an amazing journey". Fortunate were we who caught his lecture - unbelievably his very first ever - which included such luminaries in the crowded room as Jay Sankey.

Bobby is what they call a performer's performer. Even if things are going wrong you would never know, or even care because he has the audience eating out of the palm of his hand. For not only is he genuinely funny but he is immensely likable. If an audience likes you, then my friend, you have discovered the true secret of a successful career whether it be in  magic or anything else. If Bobby could sell that secret he could retire a rich, young, and still likable guy!

The Lecture
The lecture consisted of a performance and explanation of (I counted) nine effects out of his attractively packaged lecture notes. (Other mentalism goodies were also on sale at discounted rates.) Everybody came away with something really good. Fans of magic got a fantastic show. Mentalists came away with some killer effects. Card guys and gals got some innovative routines. Comedy aficionados got a lot of laughs. At $10 for admission it was a bargain for everyone.

Bobby began with a demonstration of the variations possible with his commercially available effect, "Blackmail" (a fiendishly clever update of an old principle discussed in Corinda). To discuss it at length would be to reveal its secret, so I won't. I will just say if you want to read minds, get "Blackmail". You won't be disappointed. Jeff stocks it at The Den.

Along with the comedy and the awesome mentalism, Bobby shared some of his philosophy of performance. (And personally I would've liked to have heard even more.) He made a point of explaining that every move he makes has a purpose and that it is important to plot and reason out all your moves. Quite rightly, he concludes, audiences will catch you out on any funny or unmotivated moves.

His next effect was a mind reading number utilizing business cards. Again, to say much more than that would fall into exposure but I will say I think this one effect alone was worth the cost of the lecture and/or the cost of the lecture notes. With it, you can mind-read anywhere without any preplanning or elaborate props.

There followed a number of well done effects that had most folk scratching their heads in amazement. My notes are a bit hard to read at this point as I was probably laughing so much at Bobby's stage antics. I will briefly note his astonishing "Zoom" illusion - which he sells commercially - during which his head seemed to expand like an inflated balloon. No kidding! Very bizarre and very visually effective indeed.

Bobby also had a number of pet card routines which I know the card fans in the room really appreciated. If you buy his lecture notes whenever you get the chance all will be revealed.

Concluding Thoughts
The combination of comedy and believable straight-on mentalism is a rare one (at least IMHO). I often feel one doesn't quite go with the other with most performers. With Bobby the two mesh perfectly. He is totally believable as an intense practitioner of the psychic arts. But he is also so  funny that even when you know exactly what he's doing or how, you just don't care. You just get carried along with his onstage joy of living in the moment.

I especially liked it when he pointed out that "most people never actually see magic in real life" and so you may well be their first live magic performance. You want to make sure, emphasized Bobby, that when you do any effect, even if you are only a hobbyist, that you have practiced it to perfection. "Do them really well, do them beautifully, blow people away with whatever magic you do." A man of his word, Bobby's first lecture blew everyone away and created a memorable afternoon that excited and inspired all who attended.

Thank you Bobby Motta for such an enjoyable, enlightening afternoon.

And thank you Jeff Pinsky for hosting yet another excellent special event at the Den.

Monday 16 September 2013

Cups & Balls & The Journey

September 16, 2013

Cups & Balls and The Journey?

A customer of ours who is a professional magician and quite a wonderful performer for layman has had an ongoing (friendly) debate from time to time over the past 25 years with me.

He believes that with an effect such as the Cups & Balls that what the magician does leading up to the final Large Climax of Balls/Lemons/etc is not important.

I completely disagree with his opinion on this point. I do agree with him that a Cups & Balls routine may be too long. But it is only too long if the magician does not perform it in an entertaining and engaging fashion.

To be clear, I do agree that the week or two after the performance or perhaps even the next day the only thing that the audience may remember is the ending of the large objects from the cups. But that does not mean that the journey is not important.

There is a lot of magic that takes place on the journey to the ending of the Cups & Balls. And that magic is and should be very powerful to the audience even if perhaps the climax is even more powerful but that does not negate its significance.

For me it is analogous to a movie or a novel a play.  That is, if the movie or novel or play is boring then one is likely not to sit through to the end or finish.
Many times people do not finish the novel they are reading. Or they walk out of a play at the intermission not to return because part one of the play was not interesting to them.
Well, the same is for the Cups & Balls or for that matter almost all multi-phase magic tricks.

In fact I argue that all parts of a magic trick are important though the ending is of vital importance.

Until Next Time,
Jeff Pinsky
Browser's Den of Magic Shop
Toronto, Canada
Telephone 416-783-7022
Serving Magicians Since 1975

Monday 26 August 2013

Justin Flom Lecture &...

August 26, 2013

Dear Browser's Den of Magic Friends,

I hope that all is well.

Yesterday at Browser's Den we had a good lecture given by Justin Flom of the United States.
Those in attendance were treated to quite a varying selection of effects. Magic that you could perform for any age audience and some more intended for adults.

Justin also talked quite a bit about his experiences performing on television.
It may seem odd for those who did not take in the lecture but my favorite effect that he performed was a playing card version of Jacob's Ladder.

I was very pleased to see so many younger people (12 and under) in attendance. 
And I was pleased too to see regulars such as: John Talbot, Bobby Motta, Gary Wiseman, John McLachlan, Gordon Precious, Cam Dix, Mark Chan, James Alan, John Boisseaneault.

As an added bonus some of the magicians who will be taking part at Mike & Jen Segals 'Sorcerer Safari' were in attendance including FISM Champion Shawn Farquhar.

All in all a fun afternoon.

And now for a short commercial message. Coming in September at 'Browser's Den'"

BOBBY MOTTA, MENTALISM LECTURE: Sunday, September 22 (See Homepage of Site for Details)
JAY SCOTT BERRY MAGIC LECTURE: Sunday, September 29 (See Homepage of Site for Details)

Magical Hugs,
Jeff Pinsky
Browser's Den of Magic
Serving Magicians Since 1975
Toronto, Canada
Tel 416-783-7022

Monday 29 July 2013

At the Shop This Weekend

July 29, 2013

Hi There,

I hope that you are all well.

This was an interesting weekend at Browser's Den in that usually Saturdays are busier than Sundays. But not this past weekend.

It was also nice to see some guys hanging out at the Table for the afternoon such as: Jay Davis, Louie, Mark Chan, Lawrence, Christian, Jahah & Heather.

Boy Louie sure showed some great card work. He does excellent seconds and centres! I have been told that my second deal is pretty good. But I cannot do centres and I have never liked my bottom deals.

Also great to see on Sunday my former co-worker John Cardella at the shop. He looked great and picked-up from us some new magic goodies.

Also this past week we had visits at Browser's Den from: Magic Mike Segal, Greg Frewin, Lee Asher, Dr. Mark Horowitz (Lee's dad), Laurent.

By the way we are open this long weekend coming up.
Saturday, Aug 3rd, 10am until 6pm (Magic Club is on this day too 2:30 to 5:00pm)
Sunday, Aug. 4th,  12 noon until 5pm
Monday, Aug 5th, 11am until 5pm

Until Next Time,

Monday 22 July 2013

Kids at Browser's Den

July 22, 2013

My goodness we were swamped with kids this past Saturday at Browser's Den!

From 12:30 to about 4:30 I never stopped demonstrating. At one point there must have been about four or five families and a total of about twenty kids in the shop at the same time. It felt like old times. I guess now the only thing that is older is me...I was very tired when I got home Saturday.

But that's okay as I was glad to see so many kids. My favorite people to demonstrate magic has always been ages 7 to 14 and then from 25 and up.
Some teenagers are a bit different to demonstrate to and sometimes takes me a couple of visits before I feel I have connected.
Anyway, I will not bore you any more with my random thoughts on demonstrating. I could write a book on the subject to be honest...but I will never do that.

Mohammad worked his first day behind the counter on  Saturday.
He did an excellent job!
And should he decided to stick with it he will only get better over the next year or two.

Hope you are all enjoying the nice weather.

Thank you Jeff
Browser's Den of Magic
3220 Dufferin St. Unit 19A
Toronto, Ontario M6A 2T3

Serving magicians since 1975

Monday 15 July 2013

Deborah Almost Zig-Zagged Forever!

July 15, 2013

Dear Magic Friends,

Have you ever heard the old cliche curiosity killed the cat?
Well on this past Saturday at the shop the curiosity of  John Pellatt almost zig-zagged Deborah into the world of all past and departed magic assistants. Okay, she was never in any real harm or danger. But please read on...
This all happened because I decided to ask the wonderful Lisa Close to help me out behind the counter for a Saturday.
Here are the details so that you will see how Deborah was almost Zig-Zagged forever...
Hanging out at the shop with some other customers were Deborah and her boyfriend Dr. Sammy.
One of our customers had left a Zig Zag illusion on consignment at our shop for us to try and sell.

During the afternoon of what had been a very pleasant and uneventful day at Browser's Den walks in the very curious, professional writer and lifetime magic enthusiast a one John Pellatt.

On past occasions John had dined with both Deborah, Sammy, Paul and some others. On this day he proceeded to wish Lisa and I and Dr. Sammy a pleasant hello. Then he gave Deborah what appeared to be a most innocent kiss on the cheek . Little did we know at the time that it was The Kiss of the Zig Zag Curse.

John then turned his attention to the Zig Zag Illusion. He was most curious about its inner workings...its secret. He told us that he did not know how it worked.
John walked about the illusion. Looking the illusion up and down and up down. Then he looked at Deborah up and down...What was he thinking?
John opened up the top door of the Zig Zag Illusion and peered inside...to the inside of darkness.

Lisa came to his rescue!
She stated that she knew all about the illusion and would be most happy to demonstrate this to all.
Deborah being a kind soul was happy to assist. Deborah took off her shoes and Lisa positioned her inside of the Zig Zag.

And then...once all was in place...Lisa zig and zagged poor Deborah's middle to the left! It looked great. There was Deborah in obviously three pieces yet no pain; still a most pleasant smile on her face. I may add that there was a pleasant smile on all of our faces.

The pleasant smiles quickly disappeared into Robert Harbin history for when Lisa decided to Un-Zig Zag Deborah...well, Deborah's middle would not well..would not go back to the centre.
DEBORAH was in fact in permanent Zig Zag Lymbo!!!

Now the person who really lost his smile was yours truly...me!
Lisa pulled and pushed and pushed again...but poor Deborah was still in three pieces.  John Pellatt who was the one fascinated with the illusion started to ask Dr. Sammy if he Dr. Sammy would still be interested in being the boyfriend of Deborah should she permanently be in three pieces. Dr. Sammy replied that he needed time to think about.

Fifteen minutes later and with my face covered in sweat from anxiety Deborah was released from the mind and inventiveness of Robert Harbin the inventor of the Zig Zag Illusion.
Of course it was the sweater-vested fellow, me, who saved Deborah as he realized that by opening the bottom door she could wiggle out to safety.

We all noticed that Dr. Sammy stayed calm and cool during the entire event. I suppose a doctor should stay calm under pressure...mind you he holds a PHD in Philosophy not Medicine.

At the end of the day John Pellatt who started all this got another kiss, Dr. Sammy took home Deborah in one piece, Lisa waved a goodbye with a big grin on her face and me...well, I breathed a sigh of relief and realized that I had something new to write about in this most silly world of Blogs.

Until Next Time-Jeff.
Browser's Den of Magic
Serving & Keeping Alive Magicians Since 1975

Monday 24 June 2013

Chris Westfall Lecture

June 24, 2013

Hi There,

Great time we had yesterday at Browser's Den of Magic.
Chris Westfall performed and lectured for a packed store of attendees. 

Chris covered a bunch of fine points on doing magic in restaurants; the dos and donts so to speak.

Great to see so many wonderful customers. He also had lots of support from his magic friends in attendance such as: Jeff Hinchliffe, Chris Mayhew, Ben Train, Lee Asher.
Before I forget I would like to thank so very much on behalf of all us here at the shop CAM DIX for bringing in such delicious snacks. Mind you, I think I have to go the gym now after consuming a couple of them.

Chris showed why he has been able to hold onto 3 different restaurant jobs for the past 10 years or so.

Nice to see too that Chris went the extra mile and with the help of James Alan had available a well produced and thought out book, dvd set for attendees.

Our next planned big lecture at Browser's Den is Justin Flom. His lecture takes place at our store on Sunday, August 25 at 2pm. We should have the full details on our site sometime later this week.

Until next time,
Jeff Pinsky
Browser's Den of Magic Shop
Toronto, Canada

Monday 17 June 2013

Lectures & More

June 17, 2013

Hi to all of our dear magic friends.
Finally some nice weather in Toronto. It certainly took long enough to get here.

I was very pleased that thirty people or so attended the Gerry Frenette lecture that we had two weeks ago at Browser's Den of Magic. Thanks to all of you who supported the lecture.

Gerry performed and taught a wide variety of effects. What was cool is that the effects he taught covered a pretty wide spectrum and none of them required any heavy-duty sleights.

My favorite part of the lecture was the section that Gerry devoted to explaining how illusions are made to appear thinner than they really are. His focus was on the base where usually a girl or two or more are hidden. He brought with him visual cutouts to drive home his points.
And though illusions have never been my thing in magic, I must say that I thought that it was very interesting...sort of the science part of our beloved magic world.

During the time (1995)  that I have been operating Browser's Den we have had hundreds of lectures/special events. And I know many of our customers enjoy the lectures because turnouts are generally strong.
But in all of the years and all of the events I cannot remember receiving from anyone such a nice albeit short note about a lecture of ours.
About two days after the Gerry Frenette lecture I received by email:

Hey Jeff,

Just wanted to thank you again for the great day. I used to think Browser's Den was a store - but it feels more like an education centre - inspirational education. I feel truly grateful for having met you and for all you do-Jenny.
We have two more lectures coming up very shortly at Browser's Den. One is Chris Westfall (June 23 at 4pm). And the other is James Alan (July 7 at 4pm).  
I am really looking forward to both of these fine magicians.
Okay...Just thought I would type something out on my Monday off from the shop.
Bye for now-Jeff Pinsky
Browser's Den of Magic
Serving Magicians Since 1975

Thursday 16 May 2013

Middle-Aged Shopkeeper

Welcome back to the blog of Toronto's oldest magic shop. And in theme with getting old...I must say that I am looking forward and find it interesting getting older.

You read that right.

I, Jeff Pinsky am 47 years old. I took over Browser's Den when I was 29 years old.

Len Cooper the first owner and founder of Browser's Den started the business when he was 48.

I first visited the shop when I was 8 years old. Naturally when visiting someone 40 years your senior you look upon them as an older person.

Now it is my turn to be looked upon that way.

What I find very amusing is that for the past few years there are moms and dads coming in to the shop with their children. And I am in many cases about 20 years older than the parents. 

As I grow older it changes the dynamic in how I demonstrate/help/sell to the new group of parents and children.

And if handled correctly it in many ways is easier. Generally as one gets older people presume that you are in some ways at least wiser. As such newer customers with kids accept advice more willingly.

I could go on but I will not take up any more of your time as I am sure you have other blogs to visit.

I will add though that as I get older my sweater vests are even more comfortable.

Magical Hugs,
Jeff Pinsky
Browser's Den of Magic
Toronto, Canada
Serving Magicians Since 1975
Tel 416-783-7022

Monday 6 May 2013


May 7, 2013

Jeff Pinsky here from Browser's Den of Magic.

The BILL ABBOTT LECTURE this past Sunday, May 5 was EXCELLENT! And well attended!

Bill always delivers the goods. He performed and taught magic/mentalism effects that are based on subtlety in handling and patter rather than on knuckle-busting technique. Permitting the performer to well...perform!

And Bill for those of you who have had the pleasure of watching him perform in the past will know that it is this area(performance) at which he excels.

That is, it is just wonderful to watch a performer or on this past Sunday as it was, a lecturer at ease with his material. As a result, we the audience are relaxed as we know we are in good hands.

Bill showed us why so many of his creations that he has invented and marketed have been big hits with the magic community because he can take a classic premise and add some twists and turns to breath fresh 'magic' life into the effect.

There was only one card effect during the lecture...which was his opener. A superb and subtle handling of the key card principle which could throw even the most well versed card man for a loop.

Bill Abbott also showed a fantastic effect wherein he predicted the serial number of a borrowed bill. Actually about 7 or 8 bills were borrowed and one was FREELY chosen by the spectator.

Bill took an old move from a Bill Severn book on impromptu magic and made it into a showpiece!

For many in the audience the highlight was his new presentation for the already successful Powerball 60 that he and Richard Sanders put on the market a couple of years ago.
No longer do you need to have the spectator add up any numbers. Instead they find the lucky number that you the magician/mentalist is thinking of! Great idea!
There were two more phases to the effect.

The lecture was about two hours in length with no break. Those in attendance certainly got their $15.00 of value to say the least.

Plus Anthony Lindan, a past lecturer at our shop, stepped in to perform a cool mental effect with a key fob.

Some of those in attendance to take in Bill's lecture were (This is by memory of a 47 year old shopkeeper at home today)...James Harrison, James Alan, Mark Chan, Anthony Lindan, Bobby Motta, Nik, Owen, Gordon Precious, John Talbot, Linde Weedman, Jahal, Heather, Scott Hood, Mike McErlain, Haim Goldenberg, Terry Streaker, Kristie & Jada, Doug Cuff (from Ottawa!), C Charlie Kennedy, David Fairweather, Vic, Howard, Vicky, Dennis, John Michalson, John Pellatt, Assad, Jeff K, Paul Pacific, Gino, Cam Dix. Okay, I give up. My apologies to the others.

Thanks to all!

Until next time,

Monday 22 April 2013

Fun Auction at Browser's Den!

Hi Everyone!

Yesterday at Browser's Den we had an auction.  We have been doing two full day auctions at Browser's for over 35 years!
It is a day that is filled with unique items, great deals and fun for sure.

Shawna, Lisa and I (Jeff) are so glad that so many of you decided to attend even though Sunday was a very sunny day.

Great to see many regular attendees of the auction plus some new faces!

There were posters, books, and DVD's too that were auctioned off.

I was the auctioneer throughout. Michael Close was trying to get back in time from the United States to auction off some items too but the auction ended a bit earlier than normal and Michael got in a bit late. But it was nice that he along with Lee Asher, Ben Train and Glenn West dropped by the shop to say hello.

Ava Close, the daughter of Lisa and Michael, came for the day. She is a very beautiful and bright young 6 year old.

I was a bit worried that Ava would get bored the whole day at the shop listening to some sweater-vested guy auction off items...But she was very quiet and well behaved. She kept busy at our office desk answering some emails and doing some accounting for me. Okay, not...she was doing something on an iPad.

I have hired Ava the 6 year old to give me lessons on how to use an iPad.

Until next time,

Monday 15 April 2013

Magic Camp Open House & Best Magician Contest

April 15, 2013

Hi There,

What a great time we had at the shop yesterday afternoon.

It was the Open House for Mike & Jen Segal's Sorcerer Safari Magic Camp.
Very pleased that the turnout was the best in about three years. Lots of kids and teenagers with their parents finding out about the camp.

Plus others showed up who have participated at the camp for many years including: Lee and Christina Asher, Ben Train, Chris Mayhew, Chris Westfall, Brad Allen, Rosemary Reid, Amy and more.

The night before I was honored to be asked to be one of the judges for the Best Magician Contest 2013 at the Market Village in Markham.

Other judges were Mr. Jim Tam and Mr. Lee Asher plus four Asian Cover Girl models.

It was nice to see some of our customers in the crowd. Primarily it was a large crowd filled with laymen.

Some of those you many know who competed were: James Alan, Keith Brown, Rosemary Reid, Alex Kazam, Jenny Parsons, Mohammed, Solomon. There were nine all together. My apologies but I forget the names of the other fine contestants.

The final performance was given by last year's winner Ryan Brown. Ryan did a wonderful performance of the rings and card manipulation.

Keith Brown was the winner with James Alan coming in a very close second.
All participants should be congratulated for trying their best. It takes guts to enter any sort of contest so they should all be commended for a fine effort.

Thanks to goes to Anson, Jim, Arthur, Willson, Wesley and their helpers.

Until Next Time,

Friday 29 March 2013

Scott McClelland Lecture

On Sunday March 24 SCOTT McCLELLAND gave a lecture at our shop. He seldom gives lectures. In fact this may have been his first though he has been a performer for about 30 years.

And what a wonderful treat it was for the 37 or so in attendance.

Scott McClelland is easily one of the best performers in his field.

As soon as people walked into Browser's Den they knew that this was going to be something different...something special. Scott had truly transformed the whole look of the shop by setting up a magnificent backdrop.

The backdrop filled the entire width of the shop and was about 10 feet high. Rather than me describe the backdrop you can see the photos that accompany this piece.

Ironic is that the Earth tone colours of his backdrop perfectly matched the colours of the shop. Just amazing how this can change the entire look and feel of the shop. For the two plus hours of his lecture it created a different tone...and resulting in a unique experience.

Mr. McClelland discussed his theory on performing Bizarre Magic. Most of the principles and techniques he explained could be most easily adapted to most performing styles.
Without a doubt I think that most of those in attendance went home thinking about how they can improve their show. Scott raises the bar for the rest of us by his unbelievable attention to detail. In particular he spends a lot of time doing research to give his pieces a backbone upon which to build a connection with his audience.

He also brought with him many different types of unique props including a mermaid that is about 130 years old...By the way...No, she does not have a sister.

Joking aside I am so glad we were fortunate to spend such a wonderful evening. We were all truly inspired to reach new heights.

There was tons and tons of wonderful information...So glad many of you were able to participate.

Until Next Time,

Jeff Pinsky

Monday 11 March 2013


March 11, 2013

Dear Magic Friends,

Yesterday our good friend, Mr. Roy Kueppers made a formal visit to our shop.  Mr. Kueppers for those of you who may not know makes all of the Canadian trick coins that we sell. He also makes non-Canadian trick coins; plus magic wands, Okito Boxes,etc.

It was a really fun day!
So many of our fine customers came to the shop to meet Roy.   Roy answered lots of questions about the maintenance of the coins as well as how much time and effort and thought he puts into the manufacture of them.
We are so luck to have someone manufacturing trick Canadian coins. When I (Jeff Pinsky) was growing up it was practically unheard of to find trick Canadian coins. Only U.S. and British trick coins were available! 

Cookies and coffee was served throughout the day.  At 4pm we had Guinness World Record Holder of Coin Rolls, MICHAEL FRANCIS, show some of his skill and then answer questions about what it takes to prepare to beat a world record.
Afterwards our good friend JAMES HARRISSON performed about 30 minutes of superb coin magic. James' coin and pen routine was a standout! Mr. Harrisson has been a professional for many years now and though he performs different types of magic he is one of the performers in Canada who does a pickpocket act.
To close the show JAMES ALAN performed an excellent multi-phase coin routine which ended with the production of a huge bottle of wine!

I would personally like to thank all who participated in making the afternoon such a success!
And of course I would like to publicly thank all of our wonderful customers who came and supported both Roy and Browser's Den!!!

Magical Hugs,
Jeff Pinsky.

Saturday 2 March 2013

Thanks to Lisa & Michael Close & John Pellatt

March 2, 2013

Dear Magic Friends,

Jeff Pinsky here.  I hope that you are all good and happy.

One of our wonderful customers and a talented writer wrote a short piece about our shop.
His name is John Pellatt. He is a regular of our shop and  visits us weekly.

John is a lifetime magic hobbyist. He is a professional writer with a focus on comedy.

Lisa who is the Art Director and Michael Close who is the Editor of the Society of American Magician's magazine, MUM, liked the piece and decided to publish it in the most current edition of the magazine.

Lisa and Michael added some photos of the shop to give John's piece some texture for those who are not in Toronto.

I would just like to publicly thank all three of them for their hard work and support.
In some ways I am a bit of a nutty fellow and really had no desire to have anything written about our shop. I thought that a piece about our shop may be included should they decide to write about all brick and mortar magic shops in Canada but I lost the 'argument'.

Also, I would like to publicly thank Lisa for her tremendous support and hard work since joining our little team here at Browser's Den.

Though Lisa is behind the counter and overseeing the shop only once per week she does a lot more that many of you do not see.

So...A...BIG, BIG...MAGICAL THANK YOU from me to Lisa Close; a most magical and wonderful human being.

Until Next Time,

Tuesday 19 February 2013


Sunday, February 17th, 2013 (4-6pm)

A Review by "Boychick" Pan

Shane Cobalt is a dedicated "student" of magic in the very best, truest sense of the word.

During his two hours-plus lecture given to a full room at The Browser's Den he demonstrated it repeatedly through his passion for magic, his commitment to advancing the Art and his encouragement of those less experienced than himself.

Shane promised that "everyone will be able to walk away with something you can do" and that his lecture would contain "no crap". He fulfilled those promises admirably while presenting a mixture of his favourite easy and more demanding card effects as well as a couple outstanding coin moves for good measure.

To assist in all of this, The Den went "high-tech" during Shane's lecture. Shane brought along a high definition wide screen TV and camera. The room was thus able to watch his moves in detail on the big screen - a simple but incredibly useful innovation for close up lectures that can so easily become unwatchable beyond the first few rows.

His positive attitude towards learning difficult tricks should be applied outside of magic too! "No one told me LePaul was hard so I just worked through it". ("The Card Magic of LePaul" is his top recommendation for value and quality of instruction. It's available in paperback at The Den.) I liked his dive-in and go-for-it approach. Too many of us put barriers up before we even begin. "It's too hard" we say to ourselves. Shane would argue that such thoughts are irrational as well as self-defeating and usually based upon poorly worded explanations. Result: an unclear understanding of what we really need to do. For example, on palming: "Everyone thinks their hands are too small; it's nothing to do with your hand size". He reminded us that - assuming you are prepared to put in the practice - there is always more than one way to achieve an effect and to use whatever method works best for you.

I also liked his philosophy that magic should look good as well as impossible. Shane talked a lot about "finesse" - making magic look beautiful. When he gracefully passes his hands over a face up deck of cards changing the identity of the visible card over and over again you realize he not only talks the talk but walks the walk. It's one of the most visually elegant card effects I have ever seen.

A memorable portion of the lecture for me was his introduction of a professionally-made rarely-seen secret piece of high precision apparatus. These are used to make specific modifications to help facilitate certain card effects. Shane owns such a device, worth many thousands of dollars, and gave each of us a specially-made gaff using it with which he proceeded to perform a small miracle. Now everyone who attended can also perform that miracle, described by Shane as "one of those secrets that are meant to stay a secret". As a result we all came away with an unexpected gift worth many times the price of admission about which I can say no more.

Personally I would have liked to see more of his coin work but time raced by too quickly and the afternoon was soon over. Shane then had a number of items for sale including lecture notes that moved briskly among his growing number of followers.

This brief review does not do justice to the quality of information that Shane shared so articulately. For more of his thoughtful insights, I would suggest bookmarking his blog, www.chasingdovetails.com. There is much to learn from this outstanding "student" of magic.

Thank you Shane Cobalt for an exceptionally fine lecture and thank you Jeff Pinsky for hosting another highly enjoyable Browser's Den special event.

Monday 4 February 2013

Bobby Motta Dealer Show

February 4, 2013

Jeff Pinsky here.

Hope you are all well!

Yesterday at the shop we have magician/mentalist Bobby Motta perform a Dealer Demo Show/Performance. It was a lot of fun!!! So glad that so many of you were able to attend; even on a day when many North American's are focused on Superbowl festivities.

Bobby Motta has been coming to Browser's Den for about 15 or so years. And I have seen someone grow from a pure hobbyist into a busy professional magician.

What is particularly unique in Bobby's case is that he has created some truly wonderful effects; many of which he performed and explained yesterday for those in attendance.

Creating any sort of magical/mental effect is not easy. It is because Bobby has worked so hard studying the classics of magic and then added this creative juices/forces that he has come up with such miracles.

I will not take up space here describing the effects. You should check him out on Youtube. For me, my personal favorite is his ' Taste ' effect! Great for adults, kids, academics...my goodness I can see all sorts of applications to those who perform in the real word.

It makes me feel good that such a nice guy like Bobby Motta is doing well in a profession which is very tough! He is doing well because he is smart, works hard, good guy and most importantly...he shops at Browser's Den...just kiddin!

On another note it was truly wonderful to see so many new faces at the shop. It actually caught me off guard that people that I do not really know came for the first time to Bobby show and to my new free lessons on Saturday mornings.

Great that some of our very dedicated customers came such as: Professor Tom Ransom, Dr. Abells, John Pellatt, Vic, Chris, Dan Goldberg, Mohammed, Bernie, Stephen K. Chris Mayhew, Chris Westfall, Ahmed, Adnan, Fred, Rick Ross and many others. Great that Lisa Close came to help out behind the counter too!

Our next big event is the Shane Cobalt lecture on February 17.

Okee Dokee...Until next time-Jeff.

Tuesday 22 January 2013

Review of the Anthony Lindan Lecture

SUNDAY, JANUARY 20th, 2013.

A Review
by "Boychick" Pan

Successful corporate events magician Anthony Lindan was once on the road preparing for a client's show when he found that he was missing a key effect in his act. He immediately put in an emergency call to The Browser's Den of Magic and Jeff Pinsky got the trick out to him pronto. "That's why it's important to support brick and mortar magic shops like The Browser's Den" said Anthony during the opening of his recent well-received lecture.

I'd also say it's important to support brick and mortars like The Browser's Den of Magic because of great lectures like Anthony's. Where else can you get tons of creative inspiration in person from seasoned professionals like Lindan with extensive real world performing experience?

If I had to sum up the key to Anthony's very pragmatic advice, or at least what I got out of it, it would be to find out what works best for you and to strive to perfect it. Certainly not to fool fellow magicians, not even to necessarily mystify an audience (although that's good too) but primarily to entertain an audience and have fun with them. To quote Lindan, "Tricks are a canvas upon which you can do whatever you want". In other words, what distinguishes the truly extraordinary magician from the merely technically competent is what they bring to their performance - the added value of their personality, their style, their patter.

Anthony's years as a well-known corporate performer reflect in his own "added value". His style combines an affable, easy going manner with superb audience management skills. He has an undeniable authority on stage, liberally mixed with humour, which make his presentation smooth and seemingly effortless. (I say "seemingly" because such confidence on stage is obviously the result of years of hard work and invention.)

Lindan opened big. His presentation of "Redonkulous" blew away the packed room. This is Lindan's very own version of a classic - the "psychic" determination of a single word chosen at random from a newspaper by an audience member with the help of another audience member. Coincidence or prediction? It's all in how you play it. I can say without a doubt that this killed and would work well in anybody's stage act. It's available commercially at The Browser's Den as produced and packaged by Bill Abbott.

He then carried on with a very effective presentation/explanation of maybe a dozen or so effects, all covered in his CD-R lecture notes. Highlights for me included: a brilliantly deceptive yet easy way to get the audience to "choose" what theme the show should take (actually decided by the performer ahead of time, of course); a clever prediction effect using a Himber wallet (something I had never thought about using in such an innovative manner); a very very funny bill-in-balloon routine (instead of the more conventional bill-in-lemon); his take on the classic "magician's insurance policy" involving a very cute twist which is perfect for corporate gigs - proving that a good trick can become an outstanding routine if original thought and innovation is applied; an updated "add a number" routine (using a pocket calculator) and an entertaining book test.

Throughout the lecture Anthony imparted much invaluable advice based on his years on the road. On the need to simplify methods: "If things can go wrong on stage, they will go wrong!" On audience management: "Most people have not experienced a live performance. You want to create shared magical moments wherein the spectator has also done something amazing". In this regard, Anthony sees the performer as a facilitator of the audience's own magical experiences rather than as somebody trying to draw attention to their own purported powers. His audience management was subtle but powerful, described humorously in his own words: "Look here, look there, get this done." It was
an invaluable lesson in itself.

But I have to draw attention to two more particular effects. One was his original close-up effect (also good on stage) entitled "Free Fall". Like all of Lindan's routines, it had a funny, compelling story and additionally brought success out of seeming failure. It is a trick with a very strong visual component in which a special postcard helps reveal the identity of a secretly chosen card. Why did it particularly appeal to me? The crowd's reaction - twice. First, upon its performance. It got one of those "Ahhhs" and a big round of applause. Then upon its explanation - the same two reactions again - but out of appreciation for the ingeniousness and simplicity of method. It is another example of Anthony's philosophy behind his effects - keep it simple so you can concentrate on the presentation having first found a method that suits your own mannerisms and approach. "Free Fall" is also available commercially.

But the highlight of the afternoon in terms of pure unadulterated entertainment was without a doubt his closer. It was an hysterical tribute to Houdini entitled "The Incredible Suit-jacket Escape". Again, it killed, both as a legitimate escape act but much more importantly as a funny, energetic parody of a traditional escape act - tailor-made (pun intended!) for a big closing. In Anthony's own words, "You need to end on a fun note". This is a routine that plays big but packs small. Given Lindan posits that there's much more money in performing stage magic than in close up, his commercially available escape routine must be considered money in the bank for anyone who buys it.

Anthony stresses that it is important for a working, successful act to be fun as well as mystifying. He is a man of his word because if I had to describe the essential attribute of the afternoon I would say that it was definitely FUN. Lindan showed that there are many direct methods to achieve that goal and that even standard classic effects can be made uniquely your own by applying his key premise. "Whenever we create a trick we are basically solving our own idiocyncratic issues" says Lindan. In summary, again, it's all about finding out what works best for you. And the real secret to doing that is to first determine who you actually are (or want to be) on stage.

Many thanks to Anthony Lindan (who drove into Toronto on a nasty midwinter's day) for such an entertaining and informative lecture and as always to Jeff Pinsky (owner and chief bottle-washer at The Browser's Den of Magic) for presenting yet another great special event.