Bently by Chris Hanowell

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Tom Frame
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Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Tom Frame » February 25th, 2014, 6:12 pm

Bently (DVD & Paper Clips) by Chris Hanowell $19.95
Running time: 19 minutes
Available at: http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/4002


I’m a book man. I rarely buy individual effects. But after repeatedly watching and being bamboozled by the promotional video for Chris Hanowell’s Bently, I succumbed and bought it. Click on the link above to see what led me to that purchasing decision.

For those of you who are averse to watching promotional videos, here is what happens. The performer holds the end of a large paper clip with his fingertips. The clip slowly bends 180 degrees until it is straight. The performer can even place the clip in a glass or on the table and it will bend without him touching it.

Mr. Hanowell has discovered an intriguing property of a certain type of paper clip. His magical application of that property is unique. The resultant effect is scrumptious magical eye candy!

The production values of the DVD are very good.

At the beginning of the DVD, we see several clips of Mr. Hanowell performing the effect on the street. But for some odd reason, he doesn’t teach his method.

Instead, the instructor is a pleasant, big-haired lad named Nick Locapo. He does a good job of teaching the material.

Before the performance, you must gently and carefully prepare the paper clip. The preparation takes about 10 seconds.

I don’t like the recommendation of carrying the prepared clip by affixing it to the top of your pants pocket. The action of removing it looks unnatural. I simply stick the clip in the bottom of my pocket.

After the clip bends, you’ll need to decide whether or not you want to offer it for examination. If you immediately hand it to a participant, she will discover the clip’s secret property.

If you choose to switch the clip, don’t use the switches taught by Mr. Locapo. They’re laugh out loud lousy. In the first switch, he holds the straightened clip vertically in his right hand. He brings his hands together and executes the switch. After the switch, the clip is still held in his right hand. He offers the clip for examination.

If the clip ostensibly remains in the performer’s right hand, why did he bother to bring both of his hands together? What role did his left hand serve? The switch is suspicious and makes no sense.

The other suggested switch is used when the clip is lying on the table, between the performer and the participant. The performer uses his right hand (with fingers pressed together, pointing to his left, with the back of his hand toward the participant) to sweep the clip toward himself, pick it up and hand it to the participant.

With the participant sitting on the opposite side of the clip, why would the performer draw the clip toward himself first, instead of simply pushing it away from himself toward the participant? In terms of economy of motion, the action is illogical.

So, if you decide to switch the clip, please oh please, employ a technique that is logical, motivated and deceptive.

Mr. Locapo also teaches a switchless method that puts the clip in the participant’s hands. After the clip has bent to a straightened condition, the performer grips the middle of the clip between his index finger and thumb. He holds it horizontally above the participant’s palm. The clip continues to bend and droop until it breaks in half and falls onto the participant’s palm. The participant can immediately examine the broken clip. I prefer this method.

When I first practiced the effect, I couldn’t produce the dramatic 180 degree bend seen in the promotional video. I could only get the clip to bend about 45 degrees. I discovered that other purchasers were encountering the same problem. There was some concern that the paper clips provided with the DVD (and available as refills from Penguin) were not the proper type.

In addition to that complaint, purchasers wanted to know the manufacturer and product number of the appropriate paper clips, and from what office supply stores they could be purchased. They brought these issues to the attention of Acar Altinsel, the owner of Penguin Magic.

Mr. Altinsel quickly provided purchasers with a PDF that includes a link to the manufacturer and a list of stores that carry the proper clips. He also shot a new video in which Mr. Locapo displays the proper clips and instructs the viewer on how to inspect them before buying them, to ensure that they are appropriate. Mr. Locapo also provides important details on how to slowly, carefully prepare the clips and several methods of ensuring a 180 degree bend.

Thanks to these supplemental materials, I can now achieve the desired bend.

While I applaud Mr. Altinsel’s prompt, impressive customer service after the fact, this unfortunate situation could have been avoided. Prior to releasing this product, more extensive beta testing would have revealed these problems and corrective measures could have been taken. In short, the invaluable, supplemental materials should have been included in the original DVD.

Chris Hanowell’s Bently is visually stunning magic of a high order. Unfortunately, his effect is superior to the product that teaches it.


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"There is more to consciousness than meets the mind's eye." - Frame

Waterman
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Waterman » March 5th, 2014, 11:13 pm

To propose to have the power to bend metal objects and thereby prove such power by bending...a paperclip? Sounds like the type of stunt one would perform after making an egg stand upright on a pile of salt. To each his own.

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Richard Kaufman
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Richard Kaufman » March 5th, 2014, 11:17 pm

There once was an egg named Mable,
Who tried to stand but was not able.
But her problem, you see,
Could be solved 1, 2, 3
By first sprinkling salt on the table.

Jeff Sheridan, Limtricks.
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Brad Henderson
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Brad Henderson » March 6th, 2014, 12:12 pm

visual magic is weak. It does not require the participation of the audiences imagination. They either accept it or not.

the trick would be better if the clip were under a cloth and the audience saw the cloth moved.

The difference between seeing jaws' fin and alien's teeth and not the whole body. It's the different between Blair witch and a technical document.

besides, isn't the method the effect - the paper clip unbends itself?

once again a case of magic's misplaced priorities - creating magic that appeals to those who know how it's done, creating magic that sells easily via video.

magic can only exist when experienced live.

the gellar style bend though visual was not the entirety of that which he did. plus, his addition of having objects bend at the audiences home was a critical component to its lasting power. That and the fact that metal table ware should not be bendable,in theory, easily.

Ted M
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Ted M » March 6th, 2014, 2:04 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:visual magic is weak. It does not require the participation of the audiences imagination. They either accept it or not.

the trick would be better if the clip were under a cloth and the audience saw the cloth moved.


Really? Is Zombie improved by the cloth in front of it? I didn't realize that made it look more magical or more convincing.

I prefer Teller's Red Ball. But maybe that's weak because it's too visual.

Maybe the Miser's Dream would be improved by producing coins from under a handkerchief?

Brad Henderson
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Brad Henderson » March 6th, 2014, 2:47 pm

you paint with a very wide brush there.

First, different effects have different qualities about them. In another thread people have discussed the nature of levitation specifically. Many would argue that without the cloth, the 'how else' factor (ie thread) over powers the visual quality of the effect.

I don't know that the zombie solves this problem because of the cloth. Levitation is such a different sort of effect because it is usually the performers lack of conviction and acting which betrays the methods. it is also an effect where the moment of the magic and the proof that magic has occurred do happen at the same moment. Not an unimportant albeit subtle difference.

having said that, the impact of the misers dream (as done traditionally) is not the production of a coin, but the production of many and even then usually it's more about the antics with the audience then even that.

If the magi spread a cloth on a table, had the spectator place their hand on top, and they a coin materialized under neath - that is far more impactful than a magi plucking a silver piece from the air.

In the former, the moment of magic occurs in the audiences mind. They must imagine the production. They become committed to the process, and the process becomes intertwined with them - making back tracking more difficult. Their imagination will produce something far more interesting than anything we will replicate. This was the secret to the Blair witch.

In the visual production there isn't even a moment of magic. pop. it's there?

where is the engagement?

where is the imagination?

what was the best/most amazing part of flosso's routine, the visual productions or when the the kid finds the coins in his pocket? or even when the kid tosses the coin into the bucket and there is no coin!

the teller example is interesting. he doesn't make the ball float. He also is working for an audience who has been told the method.

More importantly, he has intentionally employed larger tools - acting, the characterization and personification of the 'other' ie ball, and carefully crafted choreography that builds from odd rolls to strange bounces.

the 'more visual is more better' theory would have the ball floating all over the stage.

we've seen that before.

but that's not the one we remember.

Ted M
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Ted M » March 6th, 2014, 3:39 pm

Er, I don't think there's a wider brush than your extremely broad claim that "visual magic is weak."

Again using Teller, would the goldfish climax to his Miser's Dream be stronger if the tank were covered with a cloth?

I'm glad you refined your claim. That's mostly what I was after, since a blanket declaration that "visual magic is weak" is far too sweeping to let pass.

Brad Henderson
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Brad Henderson » March 6th, 2014, 4:20 pm

visual magic is inherently weaker than non visual magic because the audiece's engagement and imagination is required less than in non visual magic.

and it is telling that the only examples you can find are by single performer who actually understands the weakness and strength in a idea, one who takes advantage of the strengths while bolstering or eliminating their weakness.

lets go to a magic club and pick our examples from the heart of the bell curve, shall we?

Ted M
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Ted M » March 6th, 2014, 5:35 pm

Sorry, I don't care for your style of argument.

Characterizing the examples I offered as "the only examples you can find" is overstated.

Leaping to a position that I would advocate the ball flying all over the stage because "more visual is more better" is both grammatically insulting and a straw man argument. I advocated the example that I actually gave, not the one you distorted.

I'm not interested in continuing. Thanks.

Brad Henderson
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Brad Henderson » March 6th, 2014, 5:46 pm

and this is why magic will never be considered a serious art. no stomach for ideas and strong disagreement.

nothing to stand for.

nothing to say.

oh look ma, how did the magician switch that card so fast?

Ted M
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Ted M » March 6th, 2014, 6:33 pm

Your rhetorical tactics might be appropriate in a debate club, where the goal is simply to win.

If you'd like to engage with others to analyze, sift and winnow in an effort to find truth, you might consider an alternate mode of discourse, lest those others walk away.

I've watched others here walk away from you, and I'm following them.

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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 6th, 2014, 9:23 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:...
the trick would be better if the clip were under a cloth and the audience saw the cloth moved...


I'd like to see the item presented as covered (and perhaps tabled) and get a comparison in performance.

How many here have done the card trick triumph where before the reveal the pack is covered with a glorpy and something seems to be happening under the hank ... ? Care to compare audience reactions? I used to do a Tabled Palm change to make a moment that seems to account for the magic.

There was an interesting reference to paperclips in one of the Charlie Stross Laundry stories where two clips were sympathetically linked and...

Not sure about the reference to Rhetoric, as that's the art of being persuasive.

Compelled by the power of cheese... :geek:

JonT

Also have some experience with the coins across trick done classic closed hand style versus without apparent action or cover but let's not digress too far.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Brad Henderson
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Brad Henderson » March 7th, 2014, 12:36 pm

been thinking about the teller piece with goldfish.

so smart. look at the productions. none of them are visual except a single one at the end of the first sequence. in each he grabs water and from a closed hand dumps coins. the transformation occurs non visibly.

the change at the end would work with a cloth thrown over the tank, however when presented live it appears as if he swirls the tank and the change is revealed.

the 'more visible more better' theory, as I call it would suggest that to literally see the coin morph into a fish would be amazing. Impressive. perplexing. but less magical as the audiece's mind is not required for engagement. there is still mystery in the moment when presented on stage. you can't tell what is happening and when. on TV it is less magical as you can see the fish 'appear'.

this is not to say that visual moments do not have their place in magic. but that they are seasoning not main ingredients.

re debate. I deal in facts and ideas which are based on facts. if that is too aggressive for others then perhaps it is their arguments that are lacking, not my conclusions or defenses thereof. I have not made any discussion on this thread personal. I only wish other magicians had the capability of keeping the same separation.

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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 7th, 2014, 1:12 pm

Brad, it reads as if you've moved a discussion about magic into a parallel to what some folks call belief - that which is unseen yet accepted as real.

Open eye - you see it happen and accept the phenomenon at face value.

Shut eye - you see the before and after and fill in the rest with your imagination.

Taking the paperclip example - what if:
You take out a box with two paperclips inside.
You take out two paperclips.
You give one to a volunteer.
You ask them to unbend their paperclip
As they are unbending theirs - yours opens up.

PS the Charlie Stross paperclip story is not about bending clips.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Tom Frame
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Tom Frame » March 7th, 2014, 1:41 pm

Given this discussion, there is another handling on the DVD that is worth mentioning. The performer places the paper clip on the table. A participant places her flat palm on top of the clip, pinning it to the table. She slowly raises her hand. As she does, the paper clip slowly straightens.

I enhance the effect by choosing a participant who is wearing a ring. I use a tiny square of soft fabric to polish the underside of the ring on her finger, while uttering some gibberish about creating a static charge in her ring. I instruct her to place her flat palm on top of the paper clip. I grasp her wrist and slowly raise her hand and move it laterally, which seemingly causes the paper clip to straighten.

I’ve performed this version several times and the participants enjoyed it.
"There is more to consciousness than meets the mind's eye." - Frame

Brad Henderson
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Brad Henderson » March 7th, 2014, 2:39 pm

jt- I am talking about engagement and gestalt.

re visible. there are magicians who laud the paper clip being able to bend in a Baggie or out of the magicians hands. This exemplifies most clearly the flaw with 'more visible more better'. Seeing the paper clip unbend on its own is far less magician - it's just a bendy paper clip.

it's what WE add to the process that makes it magical. The bending is NOT the magic. The bending is proof the magic is occurring. The bend is the proof the magic occurred.

the audiences imagination will create that 'magic' more intensely than what we can show.

to deny them that is to remain a trickster

Brad Henderson
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Brad Henderson » March 7th, 2014, 2:45 pm

consideration: in visual magic the magic is not visual. only the proof of the magic is visual.

we are held back because of the confusion between method and effect. The 'magic' comes from the magician. it is the power at work. It is not what happens or is happening to the object. That is the result of the magic

most magicians never realize they never actually present magic, only a series of beginning and ending conditions.

this also explains why so many magic shows and even tricks are internally inconsistent. The magician focus on conditions and not that which produces those conditions.

the 'magic' is just as much of a character as the magician. Yet many are unaware he is standing beside them onstage.

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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Jonathan Townsend » March 7th, 2014, 2:55 pm

Brad Henderson wrote:jt- I am talking about engagement and gestalt.

...

the audiences imagination will create that 'magic' more intensely than what we can show.

to deny them that is to remain a trickster


Or if one gives them tambourines and a phrase to chant maybe it goes the way of the charlatan.

I prefer to use mystery as an elephant in the room, under the carpet and explanation for the vanishing peanuts trick. :?
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Brad Henderson
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Re: Bently by Chris Hanowell

Postby Brad Henderson » March 7th, 2014, 3:28 pm

but good theater requires the audience know it is an elephant and not an aardvark or a vacuum cleaner.

otherwise, they ask 'how did you do that?'

that's not always a cue to explain the method. Sometimes that's what people say when they just don't understand what happened or why


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