Devin Knight has focused his lens on an absolutely important and yet sorrily neglected issue that will make a huge difference to all those who aspire to be considered as performers for children. This will definitely determine whether a given performer receives a contract to do a gig. He gives good advice on this, and it could help all child performers who heed his advice. If you want to perform for kids, put down that magic wand right now, and take the time to read Devin's brief and helpful book.
First up, this is far far easier to remember, a piece of cake. All the earlier branching anagram methods were long and complicated. I always had to use a crib. A cute new idea makes this so refreshingly simple now. The Powergram principle is a super practical approach to divinations. Extra reveal is a good bonus. Like I can nail this down in 20-30 secs flat. And nothing complicated to remember. Loving this. Will be using this a lot, I guess.
I like using the ELEMENTAL card backs for this with the Zodiac signs and dates on it also.
Then I can reveal a lot of memorized information starting from this point.
I also print the cards out full size on card stock and laminate them. I call these my ELEMENTAL CARD PLAQUES instead of cards.
I like using SIGNATURE at the spur of the moment when meeting someone and like using ELEMENTAL to give a lot more detailed information to the spectator when time permits.
There is another effect on the market that you can reveal a zodiac sign and birth date on the market with just one card, but this is nice because even though you use 5 cards instead of one, ELEMENTAL is roughly half the price and you can print up more cards if you need them. David W. Burmeister
This is a GREAT ROUTINE and also a very unusual presentation.
Actually, I think sooner or later I'm going to the printers and get these made wallet sized and have them laminated.
I would HIGHLY recommend this.
David W. Burmeister
Coin'cidence is a great trick. I like to use it with 5 imaginary coins as the original routine. This effect didn't impress me that much in the beginning BUT, the effect it has on spectators is astounding!
I think that sometimes we focus too much on the methodology that we are going to use as performers when we should be trying out the effect and see the impact on the audience.
I can wait till a couple of weeks from now when I buy the 2 ebook bundle for this routine.
Again, another great job Unknown Mentalist.
David W. Burmeister
Recipe for mentalism ebook success: take one forgotten tool out of mothballs, explain its uses comprehensively well, add some nice routines, and add a few variations on those nice routines. Voila! Great ebook, an essential primer really for this gimmick. The unswami or stylus writer--no, I'm not giving things away here since it's already been mentioned in one of the headliner reviews--was completely forgotten by most...until now. (It's mentioned in Corinda, but then again, so many people don't want to read Corinda because "it's outdated." Right. Keep up that thinking. The Unknown Mentalist and I will run rings around your mentalism with all the "out-dated" stuff that we read in Corinda.) I can't hype this book enough. If you use a swami gimmick--and even if you have Corinda memorized and are familiar with how this all works--you'll need this package set. Your swami may be weapon #1 and the unswami #2 or vice versa. Both have their pros and cons but can be equally effective. Now not everyone uses or even likes swamis. They take practice and a large amount of absolute confidence in presentation. If you are a swami-addict, however, then take the plunge and go in--or "un"--on the unswami.
Here's a new trick from the prolific Ben Harris, where you, the mentalist, successfully predict the type of pizza and accompanying beverage the spectator will choose. You get simple instructions and some nice graphics to create your own full-color "menu" using your own color printer. The effect is nearly self-working. You merely have to remember one easy principle; the menu then does all the work for you.
This is a cute trick. As a theme, everyone likes pizza, and the thought of "Wouldn't it be great if you could just think of the kind of pizza and drink that you wanted?" will make you smile. As for the working, there's nothing new here: It's Phill Smith's Quinta-like "counting" plus Bill Goldman's Mental Yarn "principle," the latter making the trick clever after the much weaker initial process.
As I'm fond of saying, "This is no world-beater." It's one of those in-betweener routines for the middle of a show, bordering on an effect you toss-off for your friends. But I use the thought of pizza in a much different routine, so this could work as a nice follow-up to that one. For $8, you can't go wrong with the instant download, though it would be nice for the money if you got the pre-made, laminated menu. Overall, it's a polite "golf clap" to Julio's Psychic Pizza Menu, rather than a full-blown standing ovation.
This is a useful book because Devin Knight explores ways to create publicity that other books do not go into, making these areas "novel" by comparison. In addition, these ideas have all been tested by Devin, except for the White House Easter Egg Roll. Devin names the magicians who have used this avenue, and magicians who have benefited by using the other "novel" publicity ideas. I knew little about some of these methods and knew nothing about the others. Devin has educated me, and in his easy and careful teaching style, there are, no doubt, many other magicians who can benefit from this well written book.
This is a GREAT approach to Diving a spectators zodiac sign and giving away your business card.
It took me just a little while to come up with my particular twist on this but done in the right way, especially in a close up environment, you will be credited for having very unusual and perhaps paranormal powers.
Basically, I go with the original effect and then add my interpretation (Which I credit to Larry Becker out of Larry Becker's STUNNERS PLUS Ebook. It is a Graphology routine in the post decade years of the book.) of the spectators zodiac sign if they selected their own sign.
Again, I recommend this effect very highly. Why night have another zodiac sign divination.
David W. Burmeister
Flip and Tell uses a 50-year-old Martin Gardner principle dressed up in a new routine. If you watch the video, you'll see exactly how it plays out, and if impromptu effects are to your liking, you'll like this. It reminds me of something that you'd see in one of Mark Elsdon's Conversations as Mentalism books (He's up to four now. Get them all because they're great.) in that you can do it anywhere on the spur of the moment with just a bunch of coins, a wallet, and a flat surface. By itself, it's not an effect that will get you your own BBC mentalism series, but as a supplement to a "which hand" or positive/negative routine, it's nice and quite baffling. I followed the instructions, turned coins over, and BAM! It works great. There is one small move, and if you watch the video a few times, you probably can figure out the essence of what it is, but when you do it once for a spectator, it will fly by without much thought. And the price is around you'd pay for a single trick out of one of Elsdon's "CAM" books. In other words, here you have a slick, inexpensive impromptu effect. It's one of many different propless or nearly propless things that I can do. Recommended.
For a while there, it seemed that every magician that you saw on TV did the death defying Russian Roulette feat with the nailguns or the spike under the paper bags. Dee Christopher, among others, has downsized the effect for close-up performance using Bic lighters. It's a pretty good trick, and perhaps slightly more dangerous looking than Cobra Kiss, which uses the mini-staplers, but I have to ask, to what end? The big-brother stage versions have been so overused that they have lost their novelty so the miniturized versions, which are much less dangerous, are even more muted in effect.
The instructions here are good, and you'll need a bunch of a specific type of disposable lighter that you will need to modify. The fabrication of the effect is fairly easy. Pulling it off effectively is somewhat harder because there is a move involved that you have to execute multiple times, which I personally think is fishy. (The best way to do it is probably misdirect your spectator to examine another lighter in a kind of "one-behind" way.) For what this effect is, it's clever, and it does work as promised. For me, I prefer a completely non-dangerous version by Titanas using shaken-up soda cans. The worst that the audience thinks could happen is that a can explodes, and I get soaked (just like in the old SCTV Doug & Bob McKenzie bit called "The Beer Hunter"). While that routine removes the danger element, it's much more devious and easier to do. I'm not really sold on Rush with the lighters, but you may prefer it.
Kennedy is one of the best up-and-coming UK mentalists. This book, his first, is loaded with sage wisdom about using off-the-cuff performances to build your reputation and get jobs. Ken speaks from experience, and his essays are spot-on. He then outlines his impromptu routine, which--if memory serves me--has five effects. They are all at least good, a couple are excellent, and one, his Window of Opportunity peek, I think is fantastic. I always keep a few of the specially folded business cards with me to do it and have, in fact, expanded his original presentation. While it's a tad more complicated than Acidus Novus, the Corinda peek, or that cool billet opening thing that Richard Osterlind has demonstrated on a couple of his DVDs, a few days of practice idly doing the move with my left hand was more than enough time to get pretty good at it. It's a worker.
I'm fairly sure that the title The Impromtu Mystifier is a tip of the hat to the great Bob Cassidy and his The Impromptu Psychic. While that work may have more routines, I think that this book is the better value for its outstanding advice on mentalism in general--and that great peek.
Anyone who has seen a few episodes of the classic TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 is probably familiar with the tag "...at first." It's a brilliant way of commenting on something that initially appears to be good or encouraging but on reflection is not, as in "Charles Manson looked like a quiet, unassuming guy...at first." That's kind of how I feel about Messing with NCR Paper. I'd heard about the book, tracked it down, read it, and was excited...at first. It even begins with a thrilling fax between experts that sounded like Fermat's Last Equation had finally been solved. But alas, reading the book, I learned something that I and many others already knew, that NCR paper could substitute for carbon paper, and one more thing that I didn't know, the properties of using a fluorescent highlighter with NCR paper. That latter principle, while interesting, has limited utility. The author entreats folks to do further research in this area, but nothing came of it that I am aware of. It's interesting but a dead end. But messing with NCR Paper did have my attention...at first.
Here's another ebook from the amazingly prolific Mr. Creasey. It shows you some non-knuckle-busting sleights that you can apply to mentalism. I like books like this because they allow you to expand your horizons and, as I've mentioned about Scott before, "think outside the box." He has put together a useful collection of sleights and gaffs and routines using them. While this book doesn't fall into the category of "essential," I would rate it as "nice to have." For example, a peek explained here is similar to a one that I learned as a teenager back in 1974 when I first read it in The Amateur Magician's Handbook by Henry Hay. (Here's another review of mine with a familiar refrain: Buy that book, Bob Cassidy's favorite too. Nuff said!) I've lost track of how many times that I've used it, and I've always gotten away with it. Never been burned. Not once. And it's not that I'm an A-student sleight-of-hand worker. Trust me, I'm not. It's just one of those sleights that on paper looks like absolute garbage--fishy deck handling with lots of heat when the peek is taken--until you try it. And to be honest, as a kid, I didn't really pay much attention to nuances like doing things on the offbeat. But it didn't matter. It worked. It always worked so I just stuck with it. I realize that everybody's different and things are all subjective. What works for you might not work for me. What works for me might make you think that I'm an idiot. That's OK too. But more mentalists need to realize that something that sounds stupid--like using a weird card peek--or looks bad on paper might just be what you need. Or as the Rolling Stones said, "You can't always get what you want. But if you try sometimes, well, you might find you get what you need." You need to experiment and find your own path. Scott's good little book is a first step.
Scott Creasey, while perhaps not as well known as some of the other UK mentalists, is a real hero of mine. To put it simply, he rocks. He has so many good DIY projects, books, tricks, and routines that I have no hesitation in using overused words like "brilliant" and "genius" because he really is. Here's a prime example: a multi-part routine of nice duration using, of all things, Uno cards. I love it. Everyone has seen Uno cards. They have numbers and pretty colors. For folks who want to engage in the silly, pointless discussion about whether mentalists should use cards, how about using Uno cards? They are common the world over and don't shout, "Not mentalism, card trick!" This is great outside-the-box thinking by Scott.
Scott gives you a three-part routine and some bonuses. I am not a fan of doing multi-part routines copied chapter-and-verse from another mentalist--I want to be my own performer--but the parts here are easily divisible and independent, and you can mix and match. There isn't anything new in the methodology, but these are excellent effects. Some books are so sparsely written that it's hard to grasp what kind of presentation the effect needs, while others are so overwritten--with every supposedly hilarious one-liner and snide remark--that you have to separate the good from the bad. In all of Scott's routining, he strikes a nice balance: enough on presentation and nothing overdone. He's a fine writer.
One more thing for educational purposes--and I'm not giving away trade secrets because without the context of Uno-It, this will be cryptic, but I want to encourage you to check it out. As I said, there's nothing new in the methodology here. Perhaps, more correctly, I should say that in one aspect, the methodology relies on something so old and obscure that even some card guys may not be fully aware of it, the corner short. Richard Osterlind is a big proponent, and the Uno-It routine uses it effectively too. Until you play around with it and see that it can also save you in an emergency, you may not realize that it's something good to know about if you handle card decks. Get out your copy of Hugard and Braue in addition to purchasing Uno-It and check it out. You won't be disappointed. You might even be enlightened.
Throughout mentalism history, there have been a lot of different gimmicked envelopes--slit, window, Shaxon, impression, etc.--all designed to secretly learn what the spectator has written. Obviously, this comes in handy in not only direct mind reading routines, but also design duplications, Q&A's, and more elaborate routines such as Cassidy's 4th Dimensional Telepathy and Name and Place. Imagine if you will, an envelope that allows you to learn the information while the envelope, which is normal looking (in the interest of full disclosure, "looking" is the operative word here, friends), remains in the spectator's hand. With his writing inside. Sealed. And you can get your peek of the information in the next room. And unless the spectator knows exactly what to look for, he's going to be able to look at the envelope and see nothing. How is that possible, you ask. Well, I'm dying to tell you about the Mati Envelope, but Jiminy Cricket says let your conscience be your guide so I can't. And even if I did, this review would get edited. So this secret--and oh my, it's a good one--comes at a price, a really reasonable one, I think.
So what can I say about this thing? Well, it combines an underground technique from about 40 years ago that has recently resurfaced with a classic bit of envelope handling. That handling, unless you have cloven hooves for hands, is pretty easy. So if you can use a stack of Shaxon flapless envelopes, you can do this. [Note: Part of the working uses the same principle as the commercially manufactured effect, Steam 2.0. But while that method is brilliant, I think that the Steam effect has a flaw that spoils its effectiveness, at least in the standard handling. If you go on Penguin Magic's website and watch the trailer, that part of the trick is edited out--which should tell you something. With the Mati Envelope, this flaw is completely eliminated.]
How hard is it to make? It's not complicated at all, but you'll need to get some supplies at your office supply store and most likely order one essential item from Amazon. Don't fret. It's not something weird that's going to scream "gimmick." It's an ordinary object on the outside with a different composition than usual on the inside. It will pass completely undetected as ordinary. The comprehensive ebook gives good instructions, and it doesn't take long, but truth be told, I had to stop and reorient my thinking to get back on the right track. But once I did that, I quickly made up a stack of about a dozen envelopes.
When all is done, you will have a utility envelope that is far beyond anything that you've seen. Looking over comments on the various magic websites, I'm struck by how little commentary there is about the Mati Envelope. This thing is revolutionary actually, and I would have thought that more people would be raving about it. But they aren't (maybe it's the fear of the unknown or the DIY aspect)--which is good for those of us who get it and use it. I see a lot of things, many of which are excellent and useful, but this is at the highest echelon of the gimmicked envelope field. Now some are going to say that they use a slit/window/Shaxon/impression envelope, and it works just fine. My response is "great," whatever works for you. Maybe you don't need an envelope that--unless someone scrutinizes it super closely before it is finally torn open--allows you to end totally clean, something that you can't do with the others. But this innovation is so devious and seductive, it would be hard to turn away from it once you read about it. It's that good.
As a mentalist and not a card guy anymore, I'm always amused by the way some current world-class mentalist will take a hoary gimmicked deck out of mothballs and use it to great effect. The card guys just roll their eyes and think things like, "Tut. Tut. Look at the mentalist, such a simple soul, he's using a gimmicked deck from the 1940s to force a card. Awww, that's so cute. We cardicians know 50 different ways to force a card using Marlo/Vernon sleights that only took steady daily practice over a decade to master." Perhaps I exaggerate, but while sleights are great and pure, I love the way you can take something simple and easy and be just as effective. Luke Jermay uses a Franklin Taylor peek deck. Richard Osterland, much earlier in his career, came up with the Radar and Dynamo decks, variations on the Bagshawe/Koran deck, before abandoning them in favor of his Breakthrough Card System. And if I recall correctly, Derren Brown wowed a TV producer with a Mind Power deck. There's no shame in using a gimmicked deck if you are a professional and know what you are doing. If you are an amateur, there's nothing to see here. Go back to working on your classical force until it's perfect.
When I first looked at Knight's Exacalibur Forcing Deck, I wasn't impressed because it seemed so...so...unnecessary. But then I read more, smiled, and thought, "Hey, if it works (and it does) why the heck not?" Do I personally need an Exaclibur Forcing Deck? Naw, my Psychomatic Deck or Phil Deck does the same thing. But just like there are Chevys, Fords, Toyotas, and dozens of other kinds of cars, variety is a good thing. Check this deck out. You may not need it, but it relies on a good, interesting theoretical concept. If you are an aficionado of trick decks like I am, you'll get it. (Maybe some day when I'm bored, I'll trot it out and fool 'em with it.) And if you want to really tick your card-sleight buddies off, show them how well it works on civilians.
I knew when I saw the peformance of this in the video that not only was I going to buy it, but I also knew that it was going right into my do-at-any-time set and that I could kill with it. There's not much for me to add here except to say that Devin has improved on the original version. The use of the cellphone icons is genius. In fact, to do it impromptu, all you need is to download the JPG with the icons to your phone and get something to write on to keep track of the choices. (I'm really lazy. I carry a piece of paper that not only fulfills that purpose but has the crib pre-written on it so that I don't have to rely on my memory.) The principle used here is one that I've seen in Leo Boudreau's writings, which I refer to as "observational mentalism." (Boudreau's three ebooks, all available on lybrary, while not for beginners or the faint of heart, are absolute musts for the advanced/professional mentalist. His jaw-dropping routines will stop even the most knowledgable, savvy spectator--or mentalist--dead in his tracks because they look like honest-to-goodness real mind reading. Boudreau's processes are unknown to laypeople and just overall bewildering. But Four Told 2, fortunately, uses one of his easier to apply principles.) You will need a good performance, audience management, and the more spectators the better. And I would never do this with less than four spectators because you risk exposing the transparency of the process. But that said, this is not just water-cooler or Friday-night-at-the-bar mentalism. This is real deal stuff to make a reputation.
Enrico teaches you 3 different effects that you can perform together (as an act), or by its own. His attention to detail and patter are well woven into each effect. Which is hard to find nowadays. He makes the Magic look seamless and has a good flow from start to end - as he literally adds a "punch" at the end of this 3 piece worker. Definitely a must have whether you are just starting out in Magic or a seasoned pro! Highly recommended!
Of all the similar methods so far on star sign reveals, I like this the best. It can be done impromptu face to face or over the phone. The 'work' is greatly reduced. There is an extra reveal, which is a nice extra benefit. Essentially a short-cut using a clever idea. Theme and scripting provided are excellent. Tried a few times. Works like a charm and elicits amazement. A useful addition to your star sign toolbox.
Sight Unseen Revelations is a well thought out, well written, and helpfully illustrated book of instructions for doing a stepwise series of four card revelations that build to a climactic fourth revelation. All four need not be done at the same performance. What is amazing is that they are all meant to be done while the performer's eyes are securely covered from behind by a spectator, so that the performer cannot see! It is if the performer does the card revelations while being blind!
These card revelations are interesting enough that they would be entertaining even if the performer could see. Devin has choreographed them into an astounding blindfold card routine, that has a young woman standing behind him covering his eyes at every step, (which is a more secure method of rendering the performer sightless than any blindfold.)