Friday, October 27, 2006

The Avalon Ball


Tomorrow night Polly and I will be attending the Avalon Ball on Catalina Island. I'm very excited about getting out there and doing some dancing with my gal. I haven't gotten all dressed up in a while, should be a swinging good time. I think this is the same band that we saw at the Derby.

I love the feel of the 20's, 30's and 40's, the music, the style, the clothes, the hats, the dancing and of course, the magic. Going to an event like this, in a way, is like going in a time machine (a "clean air act" time machine).


During the summer we went to see a contemporary musical film called Idlewild. The slow motion segments of the lindy hop, dance sequences were breath taking. I wish I could put into words what I feel when I'm dancing with a girl. The first time I took Polly dancing in Seattle she said of my smile, that I looked like a really happy 6 year old.

A couple of cocktails, a slow dance and and then pick it up a notch and let the horn section rip! I like to lead, it's what the man does. Some women like to lead. When that happens, sometimes I just force the lead. I asked a dance instructor about that once, his advice, "Make her feel like she's right". Most women follow beautifully. I hope Polly and I dance with a variety of people. It's going to be so fun. . . I can't wait!


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Asher Twists one up

I had a nice phone chat with Lee Asher this afternoon. It's always fun to talk to him and find out where his adventures are taking him these days. He'll be here in LA on the 9th through the 11th of November (do I smell a session brewing?) He's lecturing on Thursday the 9th at The Magic Apple. For more info on Lee's Lecture Schedule • Click Here.

Pic du Jour • From the archives


Card Man

Searching for words to capture a feeling. . . to tell a story. To flesh out complicated plot lines, twists and characters. I woke from a nightmare even before Polly was up this morning. Evidently I was being arrested for doing something really bad, and I was going to jail forever. That's a bigger problem for me because I'm immortal.

Thinking a lot about my art these days. While there is comfort in having done the same act for sooooooo long, it doesn't necessarily represent who I am today, or my current artistic vision. That seems to imply that I do have an artistic vision. Actually I do and it has something to do with making my magic matter.

My shows were fun last night. Although the traffic was light, I was the only street performer out there from 8-10PM. I liked the lack of distraction for for me and the audience. People were surprising; engaged, laughing and responding with smiles and good vibes. Love working with the music and the mic at the same time.

A new deck of cards
virgin pasteboards

breaking in the deck
a few faro shuffles
then an array of fancy cuts

soft and smooth like the nape of a woman's back
I'm addicted to card magic

It used to be social mechanism where I would shuffle cards when I was uncomfortable, or nervous, happy, or sad. . . . ok I've been shuffling 3 packs a day for 30 years. My name is Tom and I'm a cardaholic. You know it's bad when your friends tell you that you're insufferable.

Act 1 Scene 1

A good looking couple are enjoying a nice intimate dinner at a romantic restaurant. Candle lit, soft music swells as they look lovingly into each other's eyes. With his left hand he takes her hand and gently squeezes it. The perfect evening is in progress until a magician buddy of his walks by from the bar. "Hey honey, that's Bob". Bob sees his pal and immediately takes out his cards and says, "Man, you GOT to see this". It's called Pulp Friction it's a FUCKING SICK Utility sleight that can do anything! The girl is agitated and the guy oblivious. He takes his own pack of cards out of his pocket and tries to walk through the technical slight with Bob. The guys are getting excited and starting to talk about Erdnace. She gently pulls his hand as to say, "Hey. . . what about me? I have boobs." The tug dislodges a silver dollar that he's been palming all night and she isn't happy.

If this sounds like you, there is hope. I know, because through hard work and therapy I am finding a balance in my life. I'm down to one pack of cards a week and I no longer think about split fan productions during sex.

A year ago. . . this week

Time Machine • Click Here

3 hikes in 3 days

Another beautiful day here is sunny California. Picked up Buster after school again and went on another hike. I'm not sure if he's enjoying it as much as me, but I can hope. You never know what your going to find tucked away in the hills. This is the De Bell Golf Course in Burbank. Hmmmmmmm maybe I should dust off my clubs and take in a round after I drop Buster off at school in the morning. Click on the pic to enlarge.

I worked the Promenade last night. Barely anyone there on an off season weekday evening. But somehow I managed to squeeze a couple hundred bucks out of my two hours there. Selling 8 trick decks at $20 a pop didn't hurt. By the way, that's Buster running down a hill on our hike. You can't tell by the pic, but that was a very steep hill! I was so frustrated yesterday afternoon. I had written a great blog post, maybe one of my best on the art of magic and lost it due to blogger going down for an hour as I was trying to post. Oh well. Maybe I'll try and remember what I wrote and give it another shot.

In my "In Box"


I think you should consider a couple of ideas to make money:

Write a book on your Cups and Balls routine.

put out a video on your cups routine.

I think a book would be good because it is easier to produce and more cost effective than filming, and you are currently trying to build your writing skills up. I for one think you have a lot to offer the community with your routine. Actually you could take it in stages and produce a book or booklet for each of your routine complete with patter and it could be like the 13 steps to mentalism for Street Performers. If you included a simple non-instructional DVD (performance only or even just provide a link to an online clip) of you performing the routine in several different settings etc...this would be a good selling point. I know you have the writing, performing and selling skills to easily make this happen. If you keep the book itself simple (not a hardback) you won't incur a lot of cost in producing it. You can get it copied and spiral boud (use wire) at Office Depot for a reasonable price. I know you have a relationship with Chris Kenner and Homer they may give you pointers etc...for this. If I can be of any help let me know.

Anyway that is just a thought.



Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Glossary of Script Writing Terms

Here is a list of script writing terms & phrases one might encounter working with and in the industry as a writer.

action - the movement in a scene which pushes the story forward towards its ultimate conclusion.

adaptation - a script which is based on another medium such as a novel, a short story, a play, an article, a comic book, a video game, etc.

ambiance - the feeling or mood of a particular scene or setting.

angle - the point of view/point of direction the object of attention and or action is observed from.

antagonist - the character or force is main objective is to stop the protagonist (hero) from reaching their goal.

backstory - action and events that took place in a character's life before the present events of the story.

beat - 1) a one count pause in speech or action. 2) a plot point within a story structure.

b.g.- an abbreviation for word background. Refers to action, people or a general area happening behind the main action.

character - 1) the fictitious or real individual in the story. 2) the change and evolution of a character (usually the lead character) in a story. It is in most cases a distinct alteration of the way they think, act, and or view their life and the life around them.

character arc - the line tracing the changes and development of a character through the entire story.

climax - the point in a story or film in which the central character/protagonist faces and deals with their consequence of all their actions.

close on - indicates a focused, tight view on a particular object or character.

complication - an incident which further complicates the plot.

conflict - the interaction and clash of actions, goals, and desires in the story.

crisis - the highest point of tension before the climax in which the issues at hand hang in balance before the protagonist decides to act.

cut to - an abrupt change to a different view, location, time, character, etc. It frequently refers to an immediate change/transition between scenes.

deus ex machina - a resolution or end to a plot problem which is too convenient for the characters and generally seems unbelievable or forced particularly to an audience. It literally means "the god from the machine."

dialogue - the words spoken by the characters in a story.

dilemma - a moment or situation in which a character must chose between two different paths of action which are undesirable.

dissolve to - a slower change in which a one image fades out and another image fades in to. Used to generally show a transition in time from hours to days to even years. It's a less abrupt change between scenes than a cut.

draft - a completed version of screenplay in which then may be rewritten, revised or polished.

establishing shot - an image/shot that indicates the location and setting of a scene or story.

exposition - important background information for the events of a story.

ext. (exterior) - indicates in the scene heading that the action is taking place outdoors.

fade in (fade from black) - when the image slowly appears from black. It generally indicates the beginning of a film, though it is sometimes used to show time between scenes or points in the story

fade out (fade to black) - when the image slowly disappears until only black is scene. It generally indicates the end of a film, though it is sometimes used to show time between scenes or points in the story.

f.g. - used in descriptions to indicate an object or character is predominate in a particular scene or close in the indicated shot.

flashback - when action from the past is intermixed with action in the future; events that took place before events in the story.

genre - the type of story being told which encapsulates particular rules, styles, definitions, etc. of the style of the story.

high concept - a premise or storyline that is easily described in one sentence and seems to be especially unique and even commercial.

hook - the inciting incident that grabs the attention of the reader or audience.

inciting incident or scene - an event at the beginning of story that serves as the catalyst for the main action of the script.

insert - a shot with in a scene in which a certain specific piece of information is indicated such as a watch face, a door bell button, a bomb under a desk, etc.

int. (interior) - used in the scene heading to indicate a scene is taking place indoors.

logline - the storyline of a script described present tense in essentially 25 words or less.

montage - a series of shots which shows moments in various events quickly. Generally used to convey a great deal of information or to condense a long time period into a much shorter version.

motivation - the reason(s) behind a particular character's actions which causes them to react or act in the way they do.

m.o.w. (movie of the week) - a feature length film made for television.

obstacle - a hurdle the protagonist must overcome in order to achieve their goal.

on the nose - dialogue which too clearly indicates what a character is feeling or thinking or wishing; in other words exactly what the author is intending for that moment and scene.

o.s. (off screen) - sounds or dialogue that take place out of view. Most commonly used when a character in another room calls to a character in location the scene is currently unfolding in.

over the top - an expression which describes an action or scene which goes too far in one direction or another and pushes the bounds of believability.

pace - the speed or rhythm with which a story is told.

payoff - the result of certain actions or information that were set up early in the film via planting which then take place or culminate in a way the reader or audience would find most believable or be prepared for.

planting - setting up a particular bit of information that will later payoff in the story.

plot - the events that drive a story forwards towards its conclusion.

plot point - a key turning point in the events of a story.

polish - to change certain elements of a script but not dramatically so. It usually refers to changing dialogue to better suit a director's, producer's, and or actor's needs.

p.o.v. (point of view) - the perspective from a particular character in the story.

premise - the question or problem that is the basic idea of a story.

protagonist - the main character or hero of a story whose actions and goal drive the plot forwards.

rising action - events which build upon one another with increasing momentum.

scene - the basic unit of drama in a script in which an event occurs in one specific location generally during a specific amount of time that moves the story forward.

scene heading - contains the information pertaining to the location and time of the scene.

second act curtain - the point or moment of greatest conflict in a three act structure story.

secondary characters - people in the story with whom the main character(s) is involved or interacts with.

sequence - a group of scenes generally connected by a particular problem or event in the story.

series of shots - a series of images/snippets of action that show condensed passing of time or actions.

set-up - the establishing of the characters and problem(s) in the first act which will be resolved or paid off in a story.

simultaneous dialogue - when two or more characters talk at the same time.

spine - the basic or essential plot of a story.

step outline - the scenes in a story laid out in the order they occur.

subplot - the secondary events in a story that mix with the main storyline in which the key characters and or theme is more fully explored.

super (superimpose) - in screenwriting when titles are superimposed over the scene; generally used to identify the location and time of a scene or story.

synopsis - the brief summary of a story told in present tense prose which is usually two to three paragraphs in length.

theme - the central idea and what the story is about.

three act structure - the sequence of events in a story which are made up of the set-up, the complication, and the resolution.

tone - the quality, feeling or mood of the plot.

too much black - an expression or description given to a script page(s) which has too much description or too much dialogue.

treatment - the detailed summary of story told in present tense which is generally five to twenty pages in length.

twist - an unexpected turning point in the story.

voice over (V.O) - a character's voice over heard during a scene in which generally the character is not shown.

wrylies - parenthetical cues placed before lines of dialogue to indicate emotion, volume, side-action, tone etc.


Life is good. Had a great audition yesterday and met with the Director of Entertainment and Special Events for Universal Studios Hollywood. Although our meeting was brief, my pitch was strong and I'm excited about figuring out to cultivate this contact.

I hadn't been to the City Walk since I was booked to work the International Street Performers Festival back in the early 90's. It looked great. I think I'm going to like working there. Guess we'll see.

After the audition I went grocery shopping. Picked up some steaks for dinner. Then picked up Buster at school. We dropped off the groceries at home and then departed on a 2 hour hike on a trail to the top of the Hollywood Hills. It was beautiful. I was surprised that he opened up to me and we had a real talk. I'd like to work on his negative self defeatist attitude and see a more proactive desire to solve some problems. I'm going to pick him up again, we're gonna walk again. We're going to keep walking and talking till we make some headway. I'm not going away. I love this kid too much to let him become lost in his own head.

In my "Out Box"


It was a pleasure meeting you and Silvana yesterday. (I am the magician that you met). I'm looking forward to getting on the schedule and working the Universal City Walk as soon as possible as well as continue our discussion about doing some custom scripted tie in with some of your corporate clients / events.

Please check out my website and online demo videos. With your needs and my experience, I think you will see a lot of opportunity for us to work together.

Thank you for your time, interest and support. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.


Tom Frank
Industrial Strength Magic

PS could you please give me Silvana's e-mail address. I would appreciate it.


Fast lane on a slick highway, Hydroplaning at 100 miles an hour or maybe a full spin out on ice. The camera gently whips around 360 degrees in slo mo. Out of a blurred focus emerges me getting out of a beat up 1976 Green Nova. Steady cam follows into a cigar store where I enter the walk in humidor. I press a button and the humidor fills up with smoke, then in an instant all of the smoke is sucked out of the humidor revealing that I am gone.

Love After Love, a poem

by Derek Walcott, 1996 Nobel Prize winner for literature

The time will come, when,
with elation,
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door,
in your own mirror.
And each will smile at the others welcome,
and say, Sit here, Eat. Relax.
You will love again this stranger who is your Self.
Give wine. Give bread.
Give back your heart,
to itself,
to this stranger who has loved you
all your life.
whom you ignored for another,
but who knows you by heart.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Persistence Pays Off

Today I have an audition at the Universal City Walk to street perform there. Evidently they are a bit exclusive with who they allow to perform there. Not only do you have to audition, but they give you time slots, telling you where and when to perform. I had called and left 9 voice mail messages over the course of 3 months. After the last message, last week, she actually called me back and set up an audition for today at 2PM. She also told me that they weren't looking to sign up any new acts at the moment but that she would watch me work.

I would really like to be able to work the City Walk in to my busking options. Friday night I worked Hollywood & Highland, Sat & Sunday at the Promenade. With a kid show on Sat for texture. My shows are good and I'm having fun with them.


My eye twitches involuntarily, but how many twitches and ticks are by design. Not sure what's causing it, but if history tells me anything, it has something to do with stress. The first time was over 20 years ago when my kid sister Margie died in a car crash. Again the imperceptible movement in the outer corner of my right eye during my excruciating divorce and again when my mom died less than a year ago. Is it still the "mom stuff " or have we moved into the realm of the "troubled teenage years".

Buster's school is less than a mile away from our house. I like to get up every morning and take him. The idea was so that he wouldn't have to walk and we could have a pleasant chat to start the day off with. My 16 year old son is making his life increasingly difficult. I almost backhanded him in the car this morning. I hate when the memory of the way my father treated me as a kid manifests that anger within my own body. I hear his voice and see the anger in his eyes. I can feel the sting of his hand and what it did to me. I was 10 buster is 16. After my folks split I didn't have to worry about punishment anymore.

I didn't hit him, but I have to say that I liked him flinching, anticipating something that didn't happen. Instead the voice of the beast came up from my belly and yelled at him at the red light just a few short blocks from the school. I don't like taking that tone with him, but when he smugly mocks me, it makes me mad. I'd be surprised if he said ten words to me all weekend.

Thursday, Polly and I went to a parents night at his school. I can't say that I was too happy to find out that he's failing ALL of his classes. To this point, at home, we had pretty much laid back and tried to give him the time and space to adjust to his new surroundings. He's been here for 2 months now and in school for 5 weeks. He can pull his shit out of the academic nose dive he's in, if he busts ass for the second half of the quarter.

There goes the eye twitch again, like a little obnoxious friend saying "Hi! Hi! Hey! I'm Here. . . It's me. . . your friendly little eye twitch"

We have tried to give him the benefit of the doubt when he says that he had completed his work or homework or assignments. Now that's not good enough. Obviously he needs a greater level of parental supervision on all things that happen at school.

Will the boy clean up his act? Will the father go on a violent rampage? What will happen next in North Hollywood? Stay tuned!