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How To Escape From Any Handcuffs

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars! [2 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Friday 25 August, 2017)

How To Escape From Any HandcuffsI generally love Knight's stuff, and while the effect of getting out of handcuffs is strong, this ebook is way overpriced. I could summarize his methods in three words: Get a *******. Yes, he does give a you a source for what you need, but you probably could have found that with an Internet search. Anyway, not to get technical here, but while I agree that if you are using double-locking handcuffs his way is the quickest and easiest, I just single lock them and use an even cheaper method. (Or get yourself a set of regulation thumbcuffs, and you don' t need anything. That's amazing too.)


The Man Who Knows How to Amuse and Mystify

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Tuesday 11 July, 2017)

The Man Who Knows How to Amuse and MystifyA quick look of the contents will reveal a plethora (as Dee Christopher says) of routines, forces, subtleties, peeks, imp pads, anagrams, theoretical concepts... I started reading, and just about every time I went to the next page I thought, \"Wow! That\'s terrific. I\'m adding it to my repertoire.\" When I got to the end, I discovered that I had a whole lot of things to add to my repertoire--and I wanted to go through the book again. This collection is clearly a labor of love from years of doing practical mentalism. And unlike a lot of propless \"maybe it\'ll work; maybe it won\'t\" stuff, this material is straightforward and direct. For example, Jose takes a classic psychological force and makes it virtually miss-proof using a principle that you will probably be familiar with but hadn\'t thought of using in this context. Later in the book he details how to reveal things effectively. Now I am a big fan of the way Luke Jermay thinks about this topic from his DVD Making Mind Reading Look Real so I wasn\'t expecting much new. I was wrong. The revelation stuff is great. And you get bonus effects from Dee Christopher (one of my close-up favorites of his, Falling Coins) and Peter Turner. You will spend a lot of time studying this ebook. Guaranteed.

Don\'t be put off by the price tag. Prager\'s Magnum Opus is worth every penny. Highest recommendation here for the best mentalism book of the year so far.


The Dr's Billet Tear

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Saturday 27 May, 2017)

The Dr's Billet TearHere is another instant peak center tear technique for business cards. Whether you need another one of these in your arsenal is up to you, but this one is fairly straightforward and easy to learn. There's one caveat: The spectator has to write or draw with the card in profile rather than landscape orientation. This seems weird to me as the natural inclination is to allow someone to use the larger landscape area on the card. But if this doesn't bother you, give this a whirl. Compared to a couple of other techniques that I use--the Osterlind Perfected Center Tear and Ran Pink's Think Pink--this one is probably easier and will take less practice. But in my opinion, the UBT (Underground Bottom Tear) is still the easiest, most reliable center tear for business cards, with Think Pink being the best one for index cards, and the PCT for random scraps of thin paper.


Ode to Ekman: A Seamless Psychological Illusion

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars! [4 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Monday 08 May, 2017)

Ode to Ekman: A Seamless Psychological IllusionThis is a pro routine in several phases. As previously mentioned, there are no new methods, but I like the reading-body-language aspect of the performance a lot, though the last phase requiring some pre-show is not really for me. The ebook is extremely well written with performance patter, side-bar tips, and variations. It's everything you'd ever want about performing this effectively. (Other authors could use this ebook as a style model.) I realize that the price is to scare away amateurs, but on an objective basis comparing it to similar routines, this is overpriced.


Happy Birthday Stranger

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Tuesday 18 April, 2017)

Happy Birthday StrangerYou have a spectator focus on a laminated card and without having anything written down or any questions asked, you divine the spectator's Zodiac sign and date of birth. It sounds that simple--and it really is. (Not a progressive anagram in sight!) The method is diabolically clever and is a tip o' the hat to concepts from two of my favorite mentalists, the "nothing book" of Leo Boudreau and Paul Carnazzo's Dream Weaver card. When you buy Happy Birthday Stranger, you will not only get the ebook download but also two plastic cards--one for stage, the other for close-up--and a crib sheet. The cards are absolutely beautiful, very colorful and eye-catching. My only regret here is that because of the detail on the card necessary to pull off this miracle, the close-up card is bigger than wallet size. But when you see how this works, you won't mind that small trade-off.

The Unknown Mentalist puts out a tremendous amount of quality material, but this is one of his best items. I am almost certain that with a little thought and practice--and it won't take much of either--you'll love this too. I just wish he'd have kept it for himself, Marc Paul, Richard Osterlind, and me. Get it while it's on sale. It's exceptional. Highest recommendation.


Odd Conceptions

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 1 of 5 Stars! [1 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Wednesday 29 March, 2017)

Odd ConceptionsThe author gives you six, as he calls them "odd," performance tips over 20 pages, such as getting a spectator to smile or empowering them with a game of RPS. So for $12 or $2 per tip currently, you get tips, most of which wouldn't be worth it if they were free. Maybe these things have some effect in the author's home country, but here they mostly come off as childish, stupid, ridiculous, or all of the above. I have purchased many ebooks from lybrary over the years. Most have been spectacularly great--I've given very few reviews lower than 4/5--but buying this one made me really angry. It's easily, by a wide margin, the worst purchase that I've made here. It was like taking my $12 and setting it on fire. (Actually, that would have been more fun to watch than reading this ebook.) I was tempted to purchase the author's two Pure Mentalism books, but this one was such a colossal waste of time, I think that I'll pass. And to think that the price is going up to $18 soon. Ridiculous.


Three Cheers for the Underrated

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars! [4 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Friday 10 March, 2017)

Three Cheers for the UnderratedThree routines for $95! I understand Jermay's thinking about price: If it's high, then it will keep curious amateurs away. I like all three routines. Are they worth $95 together? Probably not. But I didn't feel burned or buyer's remorse from my purchase.

Taking a look at the routines, the first one, Three Questions, is my favorite because it puts three insanely clever propless mentalism gambits together so that you can name somebody's Zodiac sign in three questions, without using a progressive anagram. Actually, it's better than that. The three questions are basically just phony cover. As an added bonus to this effect, Jermay gives you a cool principle to apply to a progressive anagram for phobias. (OK, so it's an unadvertised four routines for $95.)

Next up is the Ultimate Add-a-Number. I love the classic Add-a-Number effects because they play big to crowds, and you can do them either with gimmicks or with basically nothing. (In other words, you can use a leather-bound Basil Horowitz locking pad, a gimmicked calculator, Dan Harlan's small pad of PostIt Notes, or Banachek's two 3x5 cards glued together. It's up to you.) Jermay leaves it to you to choose your favorite way of doing the add-a-number method itself, but he adds a DR element and an obscure Ed Hess principle (which reminds me of, which I'd never seen before. This one is very cool. Batting average so far: two for two.

Finally, there is Strength, a light-heavy effect, using playing cards and a card box. It, too, is good and a worker, but of the three, probably the one routine that would ordinarily be a $9.95 download at Penguin magic.

If you are a pro, you will definitely add one or more of these routines to your show if you spend the money. If you are an amateur, ask Santa to put the ebook in your stocking for Christmas.


Diagonal Peek Wallet

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Friday 10 March, 2017)

Diagonal Peek WalletI have an addiction to tricked-out wallets because I am fascinated by the ingenuity that goes into the various features. (I have a drawer filled with them.) The most fundamental thing that a wallet can do is give you a peek. There are several different ways to do that, but generally you either get the peek by placing the billet into the wallet and opening it a second time (making sure that you have a good justification to do so) like the Stealth Assassin or Infinity wallets, or you glimpse it immediately after closing it, as in the many iterations of Mark Strivings SUC. For a small amount of money, you can build your own no-reopen peek wallet. The plans here cost a fiver--and you will have to look around for a particular style of wallet and one other special item--but this is a great DIY wallet, one that you can use for mentalism and carry around as your everyday wallet. (If you are familiar with Acidus Novus, then you'll immediately recognize how it works.)

If you like easy DIY projects and want the pride of making your own cool peek wallet for about $20 total, this one's for you. For further research, Pablo Amira's Free Wallet works on a different principle--and the ebook is a bit more expensive--but you also get your own DIY peek wallet. And if you can find the long out-of-print Mind2Mind DVD by Marc Paul, he shows you how to make a peek wallet using the Diagonal Peek Wallet principle for absolutely nothing but your existing wallet and one item that you'll already have. I recommend these in addition to the cheap, but highly useful, Diagonal Peek Wallet.


Mind Index

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Thursday 09 March, 2017)

Mind IndexYou might think to yourself after reading the description of Mental Index by Dr. Bill that it is overpriced by about $10--eight effects for $40. But I'm here to tell you that it's not. In addition to those eight clever routines using only index or business cards, you get a reprint of the original instructions for Acidus Novus written by Millard Longman as well as a very short video of Longman himself showing you the move. Now any mentalist should know how to do Acidus Novus because it allows for some good impromptu routines. I know and use the move, but Longman's instructions taught me a few small nuances. In addition, there is a fairly clever one-ahead Mental Epic routine as well as a one-behind one too. Overall, this is a well written little manual on a universally applicable utility technique. I liked it a lot.


Word Sight

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Wednesday 01 March, 2017)

Word SightDevin has another winner here with a dictionary book test. Once I saw how it worked, I slapped my head, and said, "Of course. Leo Boudreau would just chuckle and get a big kick out of this." (Bourdreau is one of my idols. His legendary stuff is so original and baffling that it looks exactly like real mindreading. No shit...ake mushrooms!") Anyway, while it is technically a restricted range book test--you'll be able to divine two out of a couple of hundred different words--it's totally baffling. You simply have one or two spectators choose a couple of words off of a "word enrichment" list, look them up in the dictionary, and concentrate on them. The spectators say absolutely nothing. You then can immediately tell them the two words. That's it. There is no force, no peek, no progressive anagram, no impression pad, no MOABT gimmicked book, no need to know the page number... You just need to get a dictionary and type up some word lists. in other words, while this is an Al Mann concept, it is exactly the kind of thing Boudreau has in his lybrary ebooks like Psimatrika. If you love book tests--and who doesn't?--try this one. For $18 and the price of a cheap paperback dictionary, you have a mentalism miracle in your pocket. Highest recommendation.


Far Sight

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Wednesday 01 March, 2017)

Far SightDon't get me wrong. This is an ingenious method to suss out a card from 15 to 20 feet away. (Devin claims that his outer limit is 30 feet. Wow!) That's amazing. If you pay close attention to the working of the trick--and I'm not going to give you that and spoil it--you'll figure out how it's done. And for $5, this is a real corker of an effect. (You can go down the hall and predict what card the spectator has selected. Just awesome!) The downside is that you are going to have to spend some money to make this one work. If you don't have everything that you need lying around--and I didn't--be prepared to spend up to $40-$50. But once you've done that, you are set for life with this showstopper. Two other points aren't necessarily negatives, but you should be aware of them: (1) this really can be the only mentalism-with-cards routine in your show; and (2) you need some audience management--the spectator has to follow your directions exactly--because the cards cannot be inspected. If you are still interested, your fiver plus will be well spent. Recommended.


PYO Book Test

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Friday 24 February, 2017)

PYO Book TestI love mentalism book tests. They are classic, crowd-pleasing, and just plain fun to do. I also love the many different methodologies and routines--from Marc Paul's hilariously bold AAA Book Test to Ted Karmilovich's MOABT to Rick Roth's spooky Outlaw Effects stuff. I have dozens of them. Some are relatively inexpensive (Paul Romhany's travel book, for example, is a bargain) while others like the aforementioned MOABT are quite pricey. Out of the pack comes crazy--and I mean that in a good way--Dee Christopher who gives you his book test which you can customize and print anyway you want. For cheap. Really cheap. Someone spilled coffee on your "Print Your Own" book? No sweat, replacement is about $5. Want to do something different and add Larry Becker's Flashback feature to the book? It's easy to edit the file and do so. Don't like the cover options? Make one of your own. The possibilities are unlimited--and you have an endless supply of replacement books.

As others have said, this is a bargain, a great bargain. Dee obviously spent many hours putting together the files that you need to print your own books, including giving you a choice of five different color covers. And if you follow his instructions and zip on over to www.lulu.com, you can put together a book and have it in the mail to yourself in no time for a pittance. (I live in a far flung place off the grid. The U.S. postage for shipping cost more than printing the book, but the total was still about $7.) With a little more work, you don't even have to get it printed you can make an ebook. You can't beat that deal.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention, the book test itself is pretty awesome. It's not just about divining the first or last word on a page. By just knowing the page number, you can tell your spectators pretty much what is on the page in a lot of detail. (Dee candidly admits that he took a "page" from Outlaw Effects stunningly brilliant methodologies.)

So to sum up, here's a DIY book test that is fast, cheap, and terrific. What else do you need to be convinced? Highest recommendation.


Crisis

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 4 of 5 Stars! [4 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Tuesday 14 February, 2017)

CrisisCrisis is a set of four routines using currency, Post-it notes, and a Sharpie. That's it. Minimalism at its best. Let's get right to the point, as the author candidly admits, that there's really nothing new here. And there isn't.

Game is a prediction of what the result of three rounds of "which hand" will be. Lots of people do this--and Marc Paul taught it on his classic, but now out-of-print, Mind2Mind DVD. Bothra does make fairly cool use of two Post-it notes for his MOs prediction. The technique, though, reminded me a lot of Gerard Zitta's somewhat similar "Janus."

Location is another effect done by a lot of mentalists. It kind of resembles the commercial effect Espionage in predicting the location of objects using a variation of the Free Will Principle by Deddy Corbuzier,,

O Dear is a Post-it note version of Dead or Alive. I've seen a similar routine on a Dan Harlan video, as well as in Julian Moore's epic masterpiece on all the things you can do with Post-it notes, Post-Justify.

4 Thoughts is a straight OA Mental Epic with four folded slips of paper. The only thing that I hadn't seen before was the force that he suggests for the fourth choice. It's different, but it's not necessarily better than what folks usually use.

Overall, this is not a bad little ebook. I do variations of all four of these routines because they are classics and pretty effective. Richard Osterlind's working of the OA principle used in 4 Thoughts is much superior, and the only way that I do that routine. The book comes with a short, somewhat error-ridden, but overall helpful MP4 file.


Through The Drinking Glass

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Tuesday 31 January, 2017)

Through The Drinking GlassI like pseudo-hypnotic effects using the spectator's senses and do a routine with scratch-and-sniff stickers, so it was only natural that I'd enjoy Matt Mello's take on the sense of taste. This is a cool little effect and easy to accomplish. You just need a couple of red Solo cups, a lemon, and a little prep, and you are on your way. It requires a little bit of spectator management and some good showmanship, but it works pretty well. If this type of routine interests you, this is a good one.


Pins and Needles

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Tuesday 31 January, 2017)

Pins and NeedlesMatt Mello's take on the classic smash-and-stab roulette game is safe and a whole lot of fun. It uses two sponge (Nerf balls) and some needles or other sharp skewers. Until I read the method, I had no idea how this worked. Now that I have, it's mighty clever--and something that I should've thought of myself. In any event, this is well worth the low price and a whole lot cheaper to do compared to spikes or nail guns. A winner!


The Grey Area

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Tuesday 31 January, 2017)

The Grey AreaWe are through the first month of 2017, and here is an out-of-the-gate candidate for mentalism book of the year, Matt Mello's The Grey Area. Anyone who knows me, knows that I think Mello is terrific--and terrifically underrated. He comes up with insanely creative stuff, and this ebook of three essays and eight routines is possibly his best material yet. His spin on the liar-truthteller/which hand routines is brilliant because it relies on no gimmicks or logic tables, just a modicum of performance skills. If you are familiar with Patrick Redford's Prevaricator, then you'll know what I am implying. And the best news is that it's easier to apply and has a much better chance of success. He references Devin Knight in passing in the credits, and let me tell you, Mello's principle will make Knight's Four Told effect, which I really like, even better and almost reverse-engineering-proof. I'm adapting and using this material immediately.

The other routines are excellent too and deal with psychological forces and pseudo-hypnosis. I especially like Profit 2.0 where a spectator freely counts seven $1 bills but upon passing them to another, learns that the stack really contains nine $1 bills and one $100 bill. It's bold but extremely baffling.

Now this ebook is not for rank beginners or those who don't like propless or nearly propless mentalism. But if you have halfway decent language and people skills and want to walk on the wild side, this is for you. Some of this stuff looks exactly like real mind reading--and very nearly is. Let's just call it spectator engineering. Highest recommendation for Matt Mello's The Grey Area.


Emoticon: An Emotional Design Duplication

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Wednesday 14 December, 2016)

Emoticon: An Emotional Design DuplicationFirst, let's get this out of the way: Emoticon uses an old, old method. TC says that it is from Annemann, and without pulling out my copies of Practical Mental Magic or The Jinx to check, I don't doubt that. The method also forms the basis of Richard Osterlind's ODD, Osterlind's Design Duplication System. And essentially this same method is used in Feel by Peter Nardi and Marc Spelmann on their Unpexpected DVD set. Not to mention, you could do a design dupe like this using Anton James's Mentalism Symbol Pack. So if you are familiar with any one of these, you'll know immediately how Emoticon works. Now here's what's different: TC has adapted the routine for two spectator duplications. He also shows you how to use a clever crib in plain sight. (There's no doubt that you can get away with this. If you don't like the idea, you can always use memorization or a more discrete crib like the one Mark Elsdon demonstrated in his first Penguin Live lecture, where you fiddle with the greyscale settings of the font in Microsoft Word.) But most significantly--and definitely pretty darned cool--is that TC uses emoticons for the design items, and the pdf gives them to you in two different sizes for ease of duplication in manufacturing your own cards. This is a great idea since just about everyone today who has a cell phone is familiar with them. And since they represent facial emotions, what better way to lead into a cold reading.

So while the method is nothing new, for your ten spot, you get reproducible cards; a crib idea; and a neat, new routine. I'd say that Emoticon is well worth the download even if you are already doing a similar routine.


The Guide

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Monday 05 December, 2016)

The GuideThe Guide contains an extremely intriguing principle to determine which of a binary choice a spectator has made. (It doesn't use MOs or a force either, which is what I had originally suspected.) Apparently, this is something that Zitta came up with years ago that he originally named "Janus," after the two-faced Roman god. I like that this short ebook gives a lot potential uses of the principle under different scenarios using a variety of objects such as business cards, pens, cigarettes, coins, straws, etc. and even includes color photos illustrating the method. While some of the possible routines seem contrived and artificial, there is one with the spectator's picking up a lighter to imagine lighting his way in the dark and turning left or right that I am definitely going to try. It seems well motivated and organic.

There is a lot of food for thought here so if you like this almost-propless concept, you should give this a go.


Thought Control

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Saturday 03 December, 2016)

Thought ControlFirst off, I use and love a lot of Matt's stuff. While he may not be as well known as some of the big boys, I really like him because he consistently gives you stuff that's not only outside the box but down the road to the bar on the next block. He's very creative. And if you use or see his stuff like Invisible Ball, Imaginary Object, or Energy Coins, you'll know what I mean. He also loves DR. Here he combines that with one of the oldest mentalism concepts around to have one spectator transmit two thoughts to another spectator. It's completely propless, and it's basically an old routine but with nothing written down. When I first read it, I went, "Huh? That's weird. Will that actually work?" Then I read it again, and I thought that if you were careful with your script and used a time disconnect well, there's no doubt that you could pull this off. And people won't go, "Huh?" They will say "That was amazing." Mentalists will ask, "How did you do that? Does it use electronics, pre-show, or stooges?" Actually, it doesn't use anything except a good performance. If there's one small negative to Thought Control, Matt gives you a force to use that I didn't particularly like it. This might be that rare context for this type of routine where a simple card force would be perfect. (Where's my Psychomatic Deck?)


The Elimination Principle

reviewed by Christian Fisanick (confirmed purchase)
Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!] (Date Added: Saturday 03 December, 2016)

The Elimination PrincipleAh, TC Tahoe, the working magician\'s magician. He has some of the best, most practical, and usable stuff around, and once again, he hits a homer for the low price of a ten spot. The Elimination Principle is TC\'s way of doing a completely ungimmicked version of Bank Night. Now contrary to some, I like Bank Night and can execute it nicely about a half-dozen different ways. TC\'s version uses a simplification of a ruse developed by Max Maven. When I saw how he used it, I thought, \"Absolutely. It will work in a half-dozen different settings. Why didn\'t I think of it?\" Anyway, the ungimmicked version of Bank Night is 100% examinable. One move--and it\'s easy and not dodgy at all--and you end absolutely clean. If that weren\'t enough, TC gives you a bunch of those different settings. They are all wonderful ideas.

Alakazam has been selling out of late on Steve Cook\'s brand new Volition, a commercial version of an ungimmicked Bank Night. Folks are going nuts over it, and I have to admit, it\'s either the slickest or stupidest thing that I\'ve ever seen. Maybe both simultaneously. But now that I\'ve seen TC\'s Elimination Principle, I\'m not sure you need to buy the much more expensive Volition, which, while clever, uses a knacky procedure. Summary: TC keeps his batting average high. Highly recommended.

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09/21/2017
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