One of the best things about studying mentalism is how creative people make use of old-hat ideas. When I was a teenager, worshipping at the Marlo/Vernon/Erdanse altar, my magician friends and I used to scoff at stuff like the Svengali Deck. Kids' stuff, we said. Look at that goof on TV selling the stupidest magic deck around. That crap fools no one. Everyone knows the secret. It's only for Grandpa to try to entertain the kids at Thanksgiving. No talent needed here. Waste of money. Real magicians have skills--see, look at my blisters and carpal tunnel syndrome because I have spent five hours a day for the past two years working on the classic pass--and don't use gimmicked decks. Then a few years ago, when I started studying mentalism exclusively--leaving behind childish things like trying to perfect an invisible second deal--I went, hey, what's up with these mentalists? Did I just see Luke Jermay fool the living crap out of a roomful of experts using a Franklin Taylor peek deck from the 1940's? How could that be? I also hear that the Psychomatic Deck is used by some of the top mentalists in the business. What's up with that?
What I'm saying is that what was once passe (or perhaps is still passe) can be used to devastating effect. Witness the much-maligned Svengali principle. Read this book, and you'll be a convert to the religion of the old gods. This material is superb, simply superb. It's not TV-hucksterism-garbage-trick-deck stuff. Nor is it old fashioned. It's great mentalism, old techniques in modern, sophisticated routines. I think that it is scary good because of the unexpected uses of the principle. No one expects a world-class mentalist or someone with the crazy skills of Peter Nardi to be using the principle behind millions of decks sold to laypeople. Yet they do--and they kill with it. This ebook was such an enlightening read that I have developed my own variations on these themes. Another well-published, smart mentalist friend of mine agrees with me too. We both love, love, love the Svengali principle and are always trying to figure out new routines. This is a top purchase for your mentalism library (or lybrary).
There's an old adage that if you buy a book of effects, and you find one useable one, you've gotten your money's worth. 365 by Scott Xavier clears that low bar because I really liked his PK effect using Laffy Taffy. I will incorporate it into a stage act one day. As for the rest, there are some ho-hum card things, a trick that is outdated because cellphones are not manufactured the same as when the book was written, instructions for using a PK ring (how original), and information on how to accomplish the carny thing of holding fire on the palm of your hand. (Go ahead, work on that if you are brave. You will burn the hell out of yourself at least once. I know that I did.) In other words, this ebook was disappointing, though at $22, it was cheaper than the now almost de rigeur price of $30 for a small book of mentalism effects. But hey, your mileage may vary. You might like some of these things more than I did. One more note: While I give Scott a thumbs up for trying something different, the writing style was really off putting to me. He wrote up each effect from the spectator's perspective, for example, "Scott asked a spectator to select a card..." and "After using his mystical powers, Scott recants a mystical phrase..." Oh brother. A whole book where he is referred to in the third-person makes him sound weird, just like former Vice President Bob Dole, who also spoke about himself in the third-person.
Chris Fisanick says, "Meh to 365."
When I got this on a whim, I just chuckled. A marked deck's a marked deck. Once you figure out how to read the markings, what else do you need? This was going to be a nothing read. Then I started reading and immediately realized that that au contraire, any fool mentalist can figure out someone's card with faux-mind reading shenanigans like "I'm seeing a black..no, wait a red card. You are thinking of a red card..." This book has some cool ideas to clothe your naked marked deck routine in. Is it a world beater? No, and unlike Paul Voodini when he was younger, you aren't going to base your entire show on marked deck routines. But this is a solid book with six good routines for a little over a buck each.
Marc Paul is one of the world's finest mentalists. He is in that high pantheon with illustrious colleagues like Derren Brown, Max Maven, Richard Osterlind, and Bob Cassidy. But unfortunately, he doesn't write or put out much in the way of instructional material. (His sole DVD, not counting the brilliant live lecture that he did for Penguin, is long out-of-print. If you find it, don't let it go.) So when you see something by him, it's a no-brainer. You get it. Period. No hesitation. No worries about whether it is going to be good or how much it costs. There is always something in any of his writings that will make you stop, sit up in your chair, and say to yourself, "That's freaking great. I've never seen anything like it." Case in point: In The Fleetwood Notes, he explains his take on an old, but brilliant, Jack London effect called "An Almost Perfect Prediction." Now before looking at Marc's stuff, I had completely ignored mentalism effects that relied on mathematics, "mathemagic" effects, if you will. I thought that they were too tansparent, long-winded, and boring. Not any more. London's effect is brilliant but requires either gimmickry or an ability to not screw up mental math when the pressure is on. Marc eliminates both problems because if there's one thing I've seen from Marc is that he will always figure out the simplest, most foolproof way of doing something. (If I could summarize the Marc Paul philosophy, it would be something like, "Why worry about doing a tricky sleight to control a card, a sleight that will require long hours of practice and a lot of praying that you don't get burned in the moment? Just mark the card." And for a pro, there's nothing wrong with that mentality. It's not lazy. It's effective. In fact, that's one of the reasons why he's fantastic.) And the results are stunning in his updated routine called "Summing Up." I'm using it. It's terrific. But there's also a drawing duplication that's great. And more. For the advanced mentalist looking from new stuff, you can't beat The Fleetwood Notes.
Way too many mentalists--especially those not coming from a straight magic background--overlook the use of sleight of hand in mentalism effects. If you are a good performer, an arsenal of a few good sleights will transform you into a dangerously deceptive performer. Why? Because if you are a proficient mentalist, no one is even thinking that you are using anything close to sleight of hand. That's the stuff of magicians. Bob Cassidy, of course, understands just about everything about mentalism and in this unique work, combining an ebook with some short demonstrative videos, he gives you the tools. And he has selected the small lot of them well. No, you aren't going to be the next Ed Marlo, Ekaterina, or Shin Lim with cards, but you will be able to do some amazing things. For example, I smiled knowingly to myself when I saw that Bob also uses a false shuffle that I learned as a teenager in the 1970's from Henry Hay's obscure but spectacular book, The Amateur Magician's Handbook. (Bob is a huge fan of Hay, which is only fitting; that book boggles my mind every time that I look at it--so very, very good, a lost classic.) With some practice, this is great stuff, particularly for the current generation of mentalists who may not have the grounding in straight magic or learning stuff out of old, classic books. Get $25 together and spend it now. (And while you are at it, buy Hay from here as well for $25.) And, as usual, thank me later.
If you don't have these parlor tricks down cold yet, then download Devin's ebook now! There is another system to learning the alphabet backwards, but this one is better. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that it took me 10 minutes on a rainy Saturday afternoon to learn the recitation part. Writing upside down and backwards took a little longer, but not much, with a little practice. Now both skills are like second nature. When I retire and get around to giving corporate motivational lectures on learning, memory, and intuition, you can rest assured that I'm using Devin's techniques, and they will delight and astonish audiences. This ebook might be the best use of mnemonics that you'll ever see. And it costs a fiver. Come back and thank me later.
Although it is as old as dirt, there isn't a lot of literature on equivoque, an essential, but often poorly handled, mentalism technique. You have Max Maven's seminal work, Docc Hilford's "E'Voque," and this pamphlet, which is not bad, but incomplete. Mark Elsdon, who is more proficient in equivoque than just about anyone around, keeps promising an encyclopedic, definitive work, but so far, it hasn't turned up. If it were me, I'd get UK mentalist Stephen Long's download video "The Art of Equivoque." It's very short, but it's to the point, cheaper than "Mind Control," and Long is a good, humorous lecturer. My equivoque technique is tried-and-true, but he gave me some new subtleties. Check it out.
Here's yet another variant on Max Maven's Positive/Negative, this time by Dave Forrest with an instructional video and bonus effects. What can I say other than if you like the Positive/Negative routine, you'll want to see--for $7, you really can't go wrong--Forrest's variation on the "second part" of the method, the reveal. (Those who are familiar with this effect will know that the first part is the same-old, same-old.) Anyway, it uses a really old-hat technique for the MO. But you get a clear video and a couple of bonus effects (which I don't use). It's good, but the same technique is better used in Chris Rawlins's "Kicker Chirp Top" close-up routine in his book Roulette. That's a three-prediction routine with a reveal using a UV penlight that is different and cool.
Okay, here's another variant on Max Maven's Positive/Negative. It follows the same presentation/techniques as the half-dozen other versions that I have (E + MO, for those in the know), but the reveal is different. And it's not bad. I like Scott Guinn's versions better, but this is an acceptable alternative. Interestingly, Rick Lax uses a similar method for one reveal in his "which hand" routine, Quarterly Report, and Penguin charges a lot more for it. At $5, this is a good purchase if you like Positive/Negative.
This isn't for every mentalist, but in the right hands, with the right presentation and audience management, it can be amazing. Yes, this ebook is on the pricey side--and if you decide after you buy it that the technique isn't for you, you'll feel burned. I'll try to help you in your decision. First, this isn't for novice or beginning mentalists. This is one of these propless concepts that the top UK mentalists are so good at, something that takes practice and care in performance. You have to have some audience management skills; that is, your spectator has to follow your directions explicitly; otherwise, you have big problems. Also, I think some of the extended ideas in the book are basically unworkable--or at the very least, dicey--in practice. Lastly, it's not 100% foolproof, nor is it going to baffle 100% of the folks 100% of the time. A really astute spectator with a good memory could try it later and with some thought reverse engineer it.
Even with all these caveats, the underlying principles are, quite simply, unique and brilliant. I use air writing for exactly two things. I do a "which hand" routine. I end with being able to say whether the spectator has thought of 0, 1, 2, or 3 coins in his hand. I also can divine a chosen ESP symbol. OK, so I'm not using the principles in the book to their fullest extent, but I have developed a strategy is accurate and one that works well for me.
This oldie-but-goodie is absolutely a must have, whether you are a card or coin worker or mentalist. And this annotated edition is wonderful because even though the annotations are concise, they will add to your knowledge of the principles and steer you away from stuff in the original manuscript that was too cryptically described. For half the price of a latte at Four-Bucks, you can download in a flash an essential text. Go for it now!
What is it? I don't know how to describe Sure Stats. It's not a stand-alone routine. It's more of icing on the cake--you thought the effect was done, but here's one last, unexpected climax. I've added it as a finisher to a baffling double prediction routine by Dave Forrest. Maybe three climaxes is too much, but I surely like it. What I also like is the information given on how to modify the fake news articles to suit your own utility purposes. You'll have to tinker a little bit, and no, they won't look perfect, but they'll work well enough. I wasn't sure what I was getting when I purchased this, but I'm glad that I spent the small price. It's an example of some really good, out-of-the-box thinking by a smart French mentalist.
This is a clever, nearly self-working way to force one of three objects (or more, using the material given to extend the principle) under the guise of playing rock-paper-scissors. There are no sleights, equivoque, marked cards, psychological subtleties, or complicated moves involved; you just have to understand the principles, which are a snap and will take about five minutes. It plays quite naturally, and you'll be able to figure out quite a few uses for this utility routine. For example, it is the perfect substitute for the initial equivoque if you are doing a positive/negative routine where you need to force a coin. The author is a real theoritician when it comes to describing mentalism processes so the ebook is well written. For $10, you can't go wrong adding this to an arsenal of equivoque, PATEO, and Quinta.
This is a completely foolproof impromptu effect that is terrific. It's really good because even if as a mentalist you try to reverse engineer it, it will take some time to figure it out. Lay people will just be baffled. The trouble is, the instructional video was done so long ago--back in the 90s--that the effect will not work if you follow Lee's instructions. You have to modify one part of the mathematical process, which if you closely follow how the trick is done, shouldn't be a problem. You'll figure it out. If not, here's a hint: 116.
This is a cheap, easy, and fun routine which, altough not as scary as using a firearm or nail gun, will entertain audiences. It relies on an old goof-off stunt and a misperception held by probably 99.4% of the population. And therein lies why I marked it down a notch. The misperception, which is the fundamental basis of the trick, is glossed over so fast in the instructional video that I had to replay it a couple of times and then try it out to convince myself that what I thought I had heard was right. It was. With that caveat, this will make for a great closing routine.
This always stays in my wallet. This always works. This always astonishes. There are many different ways to do Positive/Negative. This is my favorite, the one I use. Add a couple of rock-paper-scissors and "which hand" routines to it, and you could literally do an entire close-up set with pieces of paper and no prep. Sure, it's great and loads of fun to do Bank Night with clever props, use a brilliant gimmick like Xpert, or buy a slick commercial book test, but this is what mentalism is all about. It's the ability to do absolutely what you claim to do at a moment's notice. It will take a little practice to get the routine down smoothly, but that's also what mentalism is about--using acting skills and being quick on your feet. There's nothing more satisfying than when folks tell me, "I have absolutely no idea how you did that." I've performed this one more than just about anything else, and I always get that reaction. What blows them away is that they think they know how it's done, but when they try to backtrack it, they can't wrap their minds around the combination of two old principles, which if performed well, are disguised. Highest recommendation.
I agree with everything said by the other reviewers. This is apparently an old principle but one that I'd never seen before. It's not entirely 100% foolproof--and there is some audience management involved--but when it works, it will befuddle even trained professionals because of its subtlety.
Excellent instructions for constructing a useful utility prop. Once you get the el cheapo supplies (And you don't need an expensive clipboard. Just get the cheapest, most ordinary looking one at Staples.) Like many of the DIY ebooks here on lybrary, the idea isn't new at all (think Tarbell), but the application to a clipboard is. This will work especially well for Bank Night or a Q&A routine. Recommended.
TC's stuff is always excellent, but I would save my money and get the expanded version of this material called Lunch is Served, co-written with Paul Romhany. It has these routines and so much more. (One contributed by Banachek called "No Stars" is simply amazing, possibly the single most creative use of the OTL principle.) Unfortunately, it's not available as an ebook.
I chuckled out loud when I read what the gimmick was and said to myself, "No way. This won't play at all." Then I made the gimmick (It will cost a couple of bucks in material and the use of a Sharpie), played with it, and thought, "Way! Way cool. It's a keeper." And then I made a backup gimmick. The handling will take a little practice, but this thing can be used as quite the utility device for predictions. In case you are wondering, no, it's not a force. The spectator makes a completely free choice. I use it with a small 40,000-word pocket dictionary. (I have a few of those in my bag, including a gaffed one to do Annemann's 40,000 Words effect.) You can look around to see if you can find the full trick with pre-made gimmicks, but I wouldn't waste time and money. Just download the incredibly reasonable ebook and get going. Work on it, and you'll have a super-nice parlor or stage effect, using a classic routine too. Highly recommended!
For $6, this is a great magazine test that is worth much, much more. Get a couple of different magazines, spend about 20 minutes preparing, and you are ready to go. (I use copies of two Mensa magazines. Seems appropriate. :)) It uses an old book-test principle, but once again, Devin has put together a dynamite effect that will work for close-up, parlor, or stage.
This is a nice completely impromptu effect--within certain limitations. While I knew the "theory" behind it--I think that it's in one of Jon Thompson's Naked Mentalism books--but the working is extremely clever. OK, being able to figure out Mastercard, VISA, American Express, or Diner's Club, by itself, isn't spectacular, but I think that if you do it a couple of times with different folks, it will play well.
Over the past few years, I've looked at a few dozen smartphone effects. None of them really work for me because they all just scream, "The app does the effect." With ebooks now being commonplace, an ebook test seems entirely appropriate. And this one is terrific. It looks suspicion-free. There is no special app involved. Have somebody pick one of seven PDF books (no shenanigans here, it's a free choice) and then punch in random page number (also a free choice). You immediately can predict the first word on any page in any of the seven books. (Well, almost every page...) The method is ancient, but the styling is new. For a modern close-up book test, with just a little bit of audience management, this is fantastic. Heck, you can even keep the ebooks in cloud storage and download the chosen ebook to the spectator's smartphone or tablet and use his PDF reader app. Did I mention that the entire method takes about three sentences to explain? At 15 clams, this is a bargain for the minds you can blow.
I'm always torn about book tests. While I often admire a clever principle behind a test, book tests to me come off as kind of impersonal mentalism. Here's this book. We get this page. I give you the word. That said, there are hundreds of different tests, mostly falling into three categories: those that use a gimmicked book or books, a mathematical force, or just outright bold and brazen deception. (David Hoy's book test and Marc Paul's Triple A book test immediately come to mind and make me chuckle. It's amazing what you can get away with using a good performance. For some performers and performances, either one of those is good enough. They take skill but cost nothing in terms of gimmicks, cribs, and mental challenge.) Anyway, this is a great collection of 20 different book tests using different techniques. You won't use all or most of them. Personally, I'm not a fan of longwinded calculations that get you to a page and word because they always come off as what they really are, that is, using a forcing formula, but you'll definitely find something to like here. (I think that the test using the loaded die is quite clever and something that I'd never thought about before.) And for $10--50 cents per test--the book is a bargain.