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1 ★★★★★ reviews
1 ★★★★★ reviews
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The Magic Pendulum

Overall customer rating: ★★★★

reviewed by Chris Somerville (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Thursday 12 March, 2015)

The Magic PendulumThere are a surprising number of books purporting to show how to use a dowsing pendulum for magic and mindreading effects. As an enthusiast over 50 years I think I have read them all and this is the best. It is also the cheapest, an absolute bargain. In fact most of the others are very highly priced, yet they contain less meat and a great deal more padding. Anderson's book is very well written, which isn't surprising since he was a journalist, and contains a great number of straightforward, well routined and professional quality effects, which is surprising since George was an Armchair Mentalist as opposed to the professional performer status of many of the authors dealing offering similar material.

This is a complete package for anyone interested in presenting an act based upon the Pendulum. There is an introductory spiel and each of the tricks offered will blend smoothly into the next. In addition to the modus operandi George gives presentation and patter ideas for each effect. The book also contains variations and additional material from other magicians. If I have any criticism it is that the act as outlined does not move to a proper climax. Nevertheless, with this book alone I am sure that many people will be able to create a very workable sequence to great effect. This is a very interesting angle from which to tackle mentalism which can be made very plausible to the layman.

I suggest that any mentalist is search of a novel approach should consider the Pendulum, and to any so inclined I strongly recommend this book.

Black Art: a DIY version

Overall customer rating: ★★★★★

reviewed by Chris Somerville (confirmed purchase)
Rating: ★★★★★ (Date Added: Wednesday 11 March, 2015)

Black Art: a DIY versionThis book is a great disappointment. It is called Black Art: a DIY version. It certainly isn't going to help anyone to do it themselves. Actually the authors have a very superficial knowledge of the subject. Also what little information is included is badly out of date. For example while the Black Theatre of Prague are mentioned in the blurb the Black Art technique they employed is never mentioned in the book. Probably the authors never knew about it and so can be excused. But surely the publisher should, if claiming this a DIY booklet, should have made some attempt to bring it up to date. Black Art originally used a totally black stage with all white props and a performer dressed in white. He was assisted in his magic by secret assistants dressed in black velvet costumes, and with black velvet coverings for white props which were to appear. The invisibility of the black on black principle was ensured by the whole proscenium being covered with light bulbs facing the audience, in other words the picture was framed with bright light. These lights were known as "blinders".

A later development by the Black Theatre of Prague and other puppet companies was to do away with the "blinders" or illuminated proscenium. They too used black clad assistants and black covers for vanishes and appearances, but the technique was subtly different. Very narrow beamed spotlights were shone across the stage from the wings, creating a side-to-side curtain of light. The black clad assistants stood behind this curtain and pushed anything to become visible into the light from behind. This method of lighting became possible due to the improvement in stage lighting equipment and lenses to control the beam shape and profile. It had the great advantage of allowing coloured props and costumes rather than the all white necessity of the earlier system.

Another technique used, sometimes on its own and sometimes additionally, was Black Light. This used Ultra Violet lamps which gave out virtually no visible light, but which made objects or costumes treated with uv paints or dyes glow vividly on an all black stage.

All this information is non existent in this book. But even judging it on the technique it does purport to cover, Black Art using "blinders", it is sadly lacking in any D.I.Y. information. For example there is no mention of the type of the lamps to use, of how many or how bright - essential information if you want the effect to work. Nor is there any discussion of the use of black velvet which, because it has a slight pile or nap, has to be hung one particular way when it looks dead black. Hang it the wrong way and the black art effect just doesn't work. (Many magicians making a square circle production box, or constructing a black art well in a table, have discovered this the hard way.)

Personally I doubt whether the authors had any personal experience of presenting a Black Art act. I think their ideas are pipe dreams. That is not to say that they are without value ... but the value is slight in that they can only be used if you already have the knowledge that the book fails to deliver.

Displaying 1 to 2 (of 2 reviews)