Tag: Nate Kranzo

Kranzo’s Mene Tekel DVD – Best Buy on Web Today

Image of MeneTekel DVDThis is a review of Nate Kranzo’s newest offering to the magic community, Mene Tekel Miracles DVD.  His work is outstanding — and we’ll get to that in a second.  But we have such a fond place in our chest cavity for the Mene Tekel concept that we need to take a side road first.

Two of the questions we are often asked after our wildly successful lecture, The Old Testament’s Writings’ Influence on Mid-Twentieth Century Gimmicked Card Decks are “Hey, what about the Mene Tekel deck?”  “We came to hear about Mene Tekel and you completely skipped it.”

We explain the need to keep the presentation pithy and succinct and thereby avoiding a maundering stroll through the arcane forest of the Hebrew Scripture’s books of the Ketuvim.   Our lecture audiences are there looking for a light, cheerful summary of the remarkable relationship between biblical writings and the post-Erdnase / pre-TV Magic Cards world.

Our bible scholar fans correctly point to the passage in Daniel wherein the prophet translates mysterious handwriting on a wall in Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar’s unclean dining chamber.  The wise but honest Daniel reads the writing out loud, “Mene, mene, tekel, upharsin.”

Scholars have debated the meaning of these words, their proper translation, and their purpose in the Book of Daniel.  Their presentation in the story sounds like a great idea for a magic trick:

Suddenly, opposite the lampstand, the fingers of a human hand appeared, writing on the plaster of the wall in the king’s palace. When the king saw the wrist and hand that wrote, his face blanched; his thoughts terrified him, his hip joints shook, and his knees knocked.

(Daniel 5:5-6 from New American Bible)

It is from this passage that we derive the expression, “He read the writing on the wall” to mean, a sign of bad things to come.

We provide our gloss on the scholars’ work in a separate article here.

Ironically, we were repairing the paper-mâché head to the King Nebuchadnezzar puppet when we received word of Nathan Kranzo’s newest instructional DVD, Mene Tekel Miracles.

Mr. Kranzo belongs to the population of magicians who believe the Mene Tekel deck has value in today’s world of high-tech, expensive magic.  Try as you might, it is impossible to make a Mene Tekel deck expensive.  Its secret is its simplicity.  Perhaps if it were more sophisticated, technical, or required incredible memory skills, it would be right up there with The Invisible, Svengali, or Stripper decks.

The DVD comes with two high quality decks to teasingly seduce the purchaser into the world of Mene Tekel.

There are many varieties of the Mene Tekel deck; spanning a spectrum from gimmicked to not gimmicked at all.  Mr. Kranzo teaches effects for each type of deck in his usual clear and enthusiastic style.  We are not sure what we expected, but we have such a deep feeling for the Mene Tekel deck.  We would hate to see it given short shrift.  Mr. Kranzo is one of us; he too is a devotee of the deck.  The DVD is a great exploration of an under-appreciated classic of Magic led by a guide who knows the way.

The video quality varies as the DVD includes portions of Mr. Kranzo’s live show, shots from his or someone’s backyard and a studio but each segment is clear and helpful.

Mr. Kranzo provides demonstrates and teaches more than 20 effects using three varieties of the deck.  We had favorite versions from each section but the impromptu Mene Tekel group stood out.  Here is a “gimmicked” deck without gimmicks.

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Magic Sales: Our Favorite Time of Year

Inside Magic Image of Ellusionist Sale BannerEllusionist.com knows we are vulnerable and yet taunts with offers of up to 30 percent off magic we want (need) if we buy in the next three days. 

Yes, we freely admit we have a problem with Magic. 

The deficiency is found not in the craft but in our soul.  Our double-wide (practically, just shy of a true "double wide" as defined by the ISO) is about to burst at its aluminum strip covered seams with magic purchased and never used. 

Our stage routine has not changed significantly since 1972 and our close-up presentation is identical to that which earned us the 1974 Florida State Magicians' Convention First-Place trophy.  So, counting each deck of cards utilized as a separate trick and not counting the Atomic Light as magic but more as a novelty, we use a total of seven "tricks" in both shows combined.  If we learned to do a false shuffle, we'd be down to five tricks total. 

Our insurance inventory sheet, however, details 421 separate pieces of magic equipment and 1,901 magic books in hard or soft cover.  If the Magic Trailer ever went up in a blaze, we could replace both of our shows for just over $35.00; not including a table.  We could collect about six hundred times that figure for the loss of our "magic collection."

Perhaps your collection is our size our larger.  Maybe you are just starting your collection of unused tricks in a spare dresser drawer or trunk.  Each time you attend a convention, watch a lecture or visit a magic shop you likely add to the stockpile of regrets and forgotten promises. 

We're not psychopathic or even amnesiac, but when we are given an opportunity to buy a magic trick (in our very low price range) we usually take full advantage.  We then return home to inventory the new effect, perhaps open it from its wrapping, maybe even read the instructions, and, possibly, try it once or twice.  We don't intentionally put it into the collection and when we purchase it we never think it will be anything but the primary effect of our new act.

If we performed the new act for which we have purchased so many effects over the years, we would be on stage for more than two weeks.  This assumes we did not overly milk the sucker effects like "Fraidy Cat Rabbit," "Run Rabbit Run," "Run Wolf Run," "Run Monster Run," "Hippity Hop Rabbits," "Sucker Sliding Die Box," "Shamrock Sucker Sliding Die Box," "Classic Sucker Sliding Die Box," "Nu-View Sucker Sliding Die Box," and "The McCombical Deck."

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Kranzo Offers The Gig and More

Very Happy PatronThe maxim for authors is “write what you know.”  If you are a hard-boiled detective looking to break into the writing biz, it makes sense to pen great hard-boiled detective novels; tricky dames, fast cars, dark alleys.  Cowboys can write about cowboy things; roping and doggies and six guns.  Brain surgeons should stick with exciting dramas about doing brain surgery; with brain surgery like themes and items — we couldn’t think of any.

This maxim guides us here at Inside Magic.

You will note most of articles contain a combination of certain subjects: magic tricks, magic history, the hey-day of Citizens Band radio, over-the-counter personal itch cream and ointments, emotional instability, inferiority complexes, system effects of poor dental hygiene, the careers of 1970’s female television sitcom stars, federal prisons in the U.S. and Mexico, third and fourth century patristic writings, and holistic approaches to mucous reduction.

Nate Kranzo knows restaurant magic.  He knows how to get the job, how to keep the job, and how to make money from the job.  We know how to eat a restaurant but because we are now without a job, we don’t do that so much any longer.

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