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A Wickedly Inventive Witch Recruitment Effort


Hoping to capitalize on Harry Potter fever, witches are trying to recruit new members with a slew of modern perks and gadgets, including 0.9% financing on broomsticks, a line of Teflon-coated caldrons and liability insurance for magic-spell malpractice.

"We're slowly bringing witchcraft into the 21st century," said a spokeswitch for the National Organization of Warlocks. "But there have been problems."

For instance, on Halloween, a government study reported that witches who use cell phones while flying broomsticks are three times more likely to crash. And fashion critics panned an attempt to replace invisibility cloaks with wrinkle-free "invisibility leisure suits."

Another controversy erupted over the use of low-fat bat wings and genetically engineered eyes of newt in magic potions.

Still, most witches favor the modernization efforts.

One of the most dramatic changes is in broom technology. For centuries, witches had to fly around on standard broomsticks, which were notoriously uncomfortable and usually lacked cargo space.

Today's broomsticks come fully loaded with air bags, cup holders, power windows, and heated broom handles for cold weather. This fall, BMW plans to build the world's first sport-utility broomstick, with enough cargo space to carry both Darrins from "Bewitched."

The BMW's larger size will also enable witches to express themselves with broom bumper stickers, such as "My child is an honor student at Hogwarts Elementary" and "Guns don't kill witches, falling houses uprooted by Kansas tornadoes kill witches."

Technology is also changing the way witches cast spells. With hand-held computers, witches no longer have to remember complicated incantations. They can simply use "spell check" software to ensure error-free magic.

In addition, General Electric has introduced a microwave caldron, designed for "today's active witches, who don't have time to spend hours making potions." Of course, potion-mixers still have to deal with environmental regulations, but Republican witches are lobbying Congress to loosen restrictions on the disposal of magic potion ingredients. President Bush said he'll sign such legislation if witches agree to have sky marshals aboard all broom flights.

On the fashion front, witches are opting for more culturally inclusive wardrobes. For example, instead of the traditional black hats, many are wearing black sombreros or pointy black baseball caps.

They're also replacing black cats and flying monkeys as the official witch mascots. Instead, witches will now be accompanied by parrots, llamas or Big Mouth Billy Bass, the singing rubber fish.

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