Friday, July 22, 2005

Reviews Coming Soon...

Well, I just place an order for some new mentalism material and hopefully I will be recieving them shortly. I plan on paging through them and posting some comments and first impressions once I receive them. Here is what is coming:
  1. The Artful Mentalism of Bob Cassidy
  2. Act Two by Barry Richardson
  3. Some booklet on Equivoque by Jack Dean (I hear it is very good)
  4. Mainly Mental - claims to have some of the classics in here, we'll see...
  5. Psychi Sight by Jack Dean - a treatist on blindfold work

I'll keep you posted.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Simple Design Duplication

So, here is a very simple design duplication effect that I have been using lately. I am sure it is in print somewhere because it is one of those things that is so simple someone else must have thought of it. That being said, this is something I came up with independantly so I apologize for not citing a proper source.

What you will need:
  • Index cards - about 15-20
  • One regular envelope
  • two notebooks or sheets of paper to draw on
  • two pens

Here is the very simple set-up: Take the index cards and write down simple objects (e.g. bicycle, house, car, etc...) or you can do what I do and use the ODDS cards sold by Richard Osterlind from his design duplication effect.

Now pick one of the cardsthat you want to force on the spectator and keep that card away from the rest of them.

Have the stack of cards in one pocket and the envelope with the force card underneath it in another pocket. Pull out the stack of cards and show them to the spectator. Hand them to the spectator and have them shuffle the cards up. As they are shuffling, take out the envelope and place it on the table with the force card underneath it - so that the spectators do not see the card.

Now have the spectator table the cards and start dealing the cards into a second pile. Tell them to stop whenever they would like. When they stop ask them to check the time on their watch. As they are disctracted by looking at their watch place the envelope and card on top of the cards the spectator just dealt. When they are done looking at the watch, tell them to take the envelope and write the date and time on that envelope and then have them sign the envelope.

Now have them take the last card they dealt in the second pile (which is really the force card you just placed onto the pile with the envelope unbeknownst to the specator.). Tell them to remember whatever is written on that card and to seal it in the envelope. Then have them give the envelope to someone else to hold. Remember - so far, you have not touched anything except to give the envelope to the specator. This seems incredibly fair.

Now give a notebook and pen to the specator and take one for yourself. Tell him that on the count of three you will both begin to draw a picture. Tell the specator he is to draw whatever it was that he sealed in the envelope and you will draw whatever comes to your mind. Count to three and start drawing. Compare drawings to see that they are the same thing!

Well, that is just a little something I've been working on. It is still a bit rough but so far it is working well. If you try this, let me know how it works for you!

Sunday, June 26, 2005

A Bold and Impromptu Approach to Fourth Dimensional Telepathy

Here is a quick idea:

Hand out slips of paper to you specators to write ANYTHING they want - no forces here. Have them fold the paper as to obscure the wrting inside. Now, casually take the first person's slip of paper and then say, "wait a second. Lets do this another way. Here place your paper inside these envelopes." as you grab the envelops off the table you switch the first person's paper for a dummy. You hand person one the envelope and then the dummy to place in the envelope. This is all done casually as to not raise suspicions. Now hand the other two people the envelopes and tell them to follow suit.

What you have now is two sealed words and one sealed dummy billet. The real billet can be peaked at anytime now to see the word and you are set up for your one-ahead without having forced anything! If you are worried that it may look suspicious tell the spectators to hold onto the envelopes until later. Move onto something else and come back to this for the closer. The time misdirection will make them forget about any funny business plus you get a longer opportunity to peak the stolen billet.

This is particularly useful in impromptu situations when someone asks you to do something amazing and you don't have anything prepared. All you need is three people, a pen, paper, and some envelopes (most people have envelops laying around the house).

This can play strong because they can think of anything they want. Tell them to make it difficult for you by coming up with all kinds of insane things.

With a little bit of thought and planning you can hand the slips out again at the end too!

...and now back to our regularly scheduled program

Howdy folks,

Well, if you hadn't noticed it has been a while since I have last updated this thing I call my mentalism blog. I apologize for not updating things in a timely manner. Apparantly, I am not psychic enough to update an online blog with only my mind. My day job has been consuming most of my time lately. I've been putting in close to 70 hours per week - a lot of which is traveling time - so I haven't had much free time.

I hope I didn't lose too many readers due to my absence - mostly because I don't think I had that many readers anyway!

If you have stuck around and continue to check this page you will soon see more posts and some new ideas.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Sankey Teaching Creativity?

So, I am reading a blog put out by Magician X and I see that his current post (as of May 4, 2005) is regarding a new DVD by Sankey. The DVD is called "Create Your Own Magic" Or, as Penguin has cleverly dubbed it, CYOM.

Basically, this DVD is supposed to teach people how to be creative. What a bunch of bullshit. If you need someone to teach you how to be creative then chances are you are NOT a creative person. You cannot teach someone to be creative. The fact is that some people are great thinkers and are very creative by nature. These people are born this way and don't need to watch a DVD to learn how to be creative. Trying to teach someone to be creative is about as effective as Dale Ernhart's seatbelt. Creativity cannot be turned on like a light switch. It cannot be magically bestowed upon you by a $30 DVD put out by Sankey. You are either creative or you are not.

Suppose, for a moment, that you could learn to be creative. It would only be logical that the person teaching this creativity should be a creative person himself. If that is the case, then what in the Hell is Sankey doing releasing this DVD? Albeit, Sankey has created the shit out of a simple color change, a bad shuttlepass, and annoying voices. Perhaps one of Sankey's lessons on being creative is about digging up obscure effects from the past, marketing them to newbies, and "forgetting" to credit the original creators. That seems to be some of the "creativity" we've seen from Sankey in the past.

So, how do you know if you are a creative person or not? Well, take my simple quiz:
  1. Have you ever created anything new or interesting at anytime during the course of your life?
  2. If you answered "Yes" to number 1 go to number 4. If you answered "No" to number 1 go to number 3.
  3. You are NOT creative and probably never will be.
  4. Has anyone other than yourself thought your idea was creative or useful?
  5. If you answered "Yes" to number 4 than you are a creative person - Keep up the good work. If you answered "No" to number 4 go to number 3.

In the meantime, here is an effect I am currently trying to create: A spectator picks any card at "random". The spectator keeps the card. The performer takes out a handgun, places the barrel of the gun in his mouth and pulls the trigger. As the performer's lifeless body falls into a pool of his own blood, the audience notices, splattered in brains and blood on the wall behind the now dead performer, the name of the selected card! I don't recommend using this effect as an opener. Oh, and remember to always wear safety goggles.

Unsolicited Endorsment

Grettings folks,

I am pretty slow on the uptake so this information may not be new to any of you but it was new to me yesterday so I thought I would share. I want to point people in the direction of Lybrary.com. This website is fantastic! They have hundreds of magic titles for instant download at very cheap prices.

Of particular interest to mentalists, Lybrary.com has a pretty good selection of Anneman materials. These are rather old works but the information in them is very interesting and inspiring. The best thing about it is that the prices range from $1.50 to $10.oo! At those prices you can't afford NOT to buy them. Last night I spent a total of $15.00 and received 5 new booklets on mentalism - that is a hell of a deal if you ask me.

Of course, there is more than just mentalism available at the website. Whether its cards, coins, money, paper, ventriliquism, or presentation & patter that interests you, you will find something you like over there. Check it out!

By the way, I am not affiliated with Lybrary.com in any way, shape, or form.

Soon to be Released: "Backdoor Sankey"

As a followup to one of Sankey's recent releases, Front Row Sankey, Jay is poised to release a new DVD titled "Backdoor Sankey". This new release will teach us all revolutionary techniques to cause magic buyers to bend over and take it up the tail pipe while we recycle and resell our three good ideas over and over and over again on no fewer than ten different DVDs! Then, for inspirational purposes, we will be treated to special bonus footage of Sankey performing live for Real Audiences in an attempt to show that even the creator of the effects cannot get a good reaction when performing!

Sounds to good to be true? Well, wait until you hear the price. How much would you spend for a DVD with the same effects on it as the DVD you bought last month? One hundred dollars? No. Fifty dollars? Not even close. You get all this for only $29.95! As a special bonus you get a second DVD absolutely free!!! That's right, you get a second DVD where you will learn 4,500 boring, uninspired tricks using only a fake accent and the Erdnase Color Change (accent not included).

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Final Thoughts on "Bank Night"

I wanted to talk a little bit about what to place into the "loser" envelopes during the Bank Night effect. It seems that most modern versions of this effect use lottory tickets. This is a fantastic idea and I use it in my performances. The lotto tickets are cheap and there is a chance that someone could win something off of the ticket. I hope people do win so that they will remember me forever. Lee Earle shows his class by pre-signing the back of each of the lottery tickets so that if the spectator does win big he will need Earle's assistance to cash in the ticket - very classy indeed.

Other things can be used intstead of lottory tickets. In tradeshow performances why not fill the "loser" envelopes with coupons, discounts, or vouchers for the company you are working for? Instead of winning actual money the spectator wins discounts for the company. Working a night club? Why not fill the "losers" with free drink coupons? In a restaurant use coupons for free meals or appetizers insuring that the spectators will return to the restaurant in the future. In other words, fill the "losers" with something appropriate for the venue you are working.

Also, I think the Bank Night Effect gives the performer a perfect opportunity to give out his business card. Take Osterlind's handling for example. In his handling, the last spectator envelope contains four lotto tickets that are handed out to all of the players. The other three spectators only received a blank slip of paper inside their envelopes. Instead of using blank paper, why not throw a business card in there? This way, three of the spectators will walk away with your contact information after just one effect. To me, this is a great way to give out your card. It works well because the spectator still gets a prize, but he also gets your card.

Well, that is enough on Bank Night for a while. There are so many other things to discuss....

A Small Addition to Osterlind's Bank Night Presentation

I have added a small new addition to Osterlind's handling of "Bank Night". As usual, this description will be vague in order to avoid exposing the method behind Osterlind's effect. However, those of you who own the effect should not have a problem following along. If, for some reason, you need clarification or don't understand my ramblings you can email me and I will be happy to elaborate.

My additional handling comes before the effect truely begins. I like to walk in front of the spectators holding a crisp $100 bill very openly for all to see. I then take out an envelope and clearly and cleanly place the bill inside the envelope and seal it up. Then I take out four other envelopes that have been pre-sealed and I mix them all together so that nobody knows which envelope contains the money. Then I number the envelopes in front of everyone and proceed with the effect as described on Osterlind's "Mind Mysteries" DVD.

At first glance this addition doesn't seem like much, but I think that it adds greatly to the effect. First, I walk in front of the audience holding money. This ALWAYS quiets the crowds and gets everyone's attention. People are drawn to money because deep down we are all greedy sons-of-bitches. Second, the audience sees the money go into the envelope so they know it is a real game. They know they could win real money and they take the game seriously (those greedy bastards). I think that one of the weakness of other Bank Night plots is that the audeince really isn't sure what is at stake. Even if they are told it is money they only half believe it because they have not seen the money. Finally, it builds a great deal of suspense. After all, it was Pavlov who taught us that the dogs don't salavate unless you ring the bell. In this case, the audience won't fully appreciate the stakes or the "real" chance they have at winning the money unless they actually see the cash being placed in an envelope. You cannot get more drama than having the entire audience know that there is real money in one of those envelopes and they will have a free choice to try and win that money.

So how do you accomplish such a feat? Well, Osterlind gives us the method in his DVD by showing us how to reveal the money in the last envelope. In other words, watch the DVD and see how Osterlind removes the 100 dollar bill from his envelope. Now, take that method and reverse it so that instead of removing the bill you are placing it inside the envelope (If that isn't clear email me I will be more specific). This method is simple and clean and VERY convincing - you place the money in the envelope and then show your hand completely empty (implying the bill must be in the envelope) then the envelope is sealed and the game begins.

This little addition has really increased the reactions I have gotten from the effect. Many times I even hand out the money for inspection prior to placing it in the envelope to prove it is real money. Give it a try and see if it makes a difference in your performances.

Monday, April 25, 2005

Bank Night Plots

Over the years there have been many different varieties of the "Bank Night" theme. There are some really dumb ones (e.g. Dan Harlan's from his "Packs Small, Plays Big Mentalism Show") and there are some great ones. My particular favorite, which I am sure will be a huge suprise to anyone who reads this blog, is from Richard Osterlind.

For those who don't know Osterlind's version, I will briefly describe the effect. The mentalist comes on stage holding five manilla envelopes clearly marked one through five. He tells the audience that in one of the envelopes there is a 100 dollar bill and that four people in the audience will have an opportunity to win the money. Four spectators are asked to choose one envelope each. The choice is an absolutely free choice - any envelope may be chosen. At the end the menalist is left with one envelope and four spectators each have one envelope. The envelope that contains the money is always the one left in the mentalist's hands at the end of the effect (even after giving an audience member the opportunity to switch envelopes with him). The four audience members are not left empty handed. Instead, they each walk away with a scratch-off lotto ticket for a chance to win even more than the 100 dollars offered by Osterlind. I like this version for 3 main reasons.

First, the audience members that participate are left with something after the effect (the lotto tickets), thus removing the "Sucker" feeling to the routine. I am pretty sure that it is a universal feeling amongst mentalists that we shouldn't present effects as a challenge or that diminish our spectators. This is good advice because without spectators we would have no reason to perform at all. Osterlind does a good job of NOT making his effect a challenge to the audience.

Second, even though the spectators get something, they don't know this fact until the very end of the routine. To me, this adds suspense and excitement to the effect. In other versions, the performer goes out of his way to say that the spectators will all be winners. This hurts the effect. After all, if they are all going to get a prize why have them pick envelopes? Instead, you would just hand them the stuff and be on your way. However, with Osterlind's handling, the spectators only know about the prize money and not the lottery tickets so their thoughts are on picking the envelope with the money rather than just picking an envelope for some door prize. What is more suspenseful and entertaining: Wondering if one of the spectators will win a substantial amount of money by freely choosing any one of five envelopes OR Watching four people select envelopes that they already know are loaded with a prize?

Finally, I like Osterlind's overall handling of the effect. The method is simple and easy, which makes it one of those effects that you can concentrate on your performance rather than moves. You can have a lot of fun with this routine and there is a lot of room for comedy during the presentation.

In comparison, I have just recently watched a version of this effect called "Manilla Miracle" on the "Desert Brainstorm Series Vol. 2" DVD by Lee Earle and it was weak. Earle goes out of his way to tell the spectators that "All of the envelopes have something in them for you but one envelope contains something I don't want you to have" What the hell? Why say that? If you don't want them to have it then don't put it in the damn envelope to begin with. Not to mention the spectators have no idea what it is he has placed in the envelope. That doesn't build suspense, it builds confusion. In the end, all the envelopes are opened to reveal a scratch-off lotto ticket and the envelope not selected contains a lotto ticket and a $50 bill. The revelation is so magical and inspirational that you can almost hear the audience think, "oh, so thats what he didn't want us to have. Why'd he put it in the envelope to begin with then?" On a side note, Earles technical handling and method is pretty good and very interesting. The method and handling alone make the effect worth a look.

Another example of a Bank Night Plot that doesn't make sense to me is Dan Harlan's "Lotto Luck." In this version, four envelopes are used and handed out to four specatators. Then Harlan picks one spectator to be his partner and reassures the new found partner, "Its good that you are my partner because it is a sure thing. I never lose." At the end of this effect, Harlan's aforementioned words make no sense whatsoever. The other three spectators find Lotto Tickets in their envelopes and get to keep the tickets. Meanwhile, the one spectator who is partnered with Harlan opens her envelope to discover....Wait for it....let the suspense build... A one dollar bill! The exact amount it would cost to be buy a lotto ticket. Here is the kicker though, Harlan doesn't let the women keep the buck. So basically, everyone except the winner actually wins something while the actual winner gets nothing - Brilliant! I want to point out that Harlan's method is interesting and can be applied to many different things. It was just the presentation that I really didn't like.

I don't mean to pick on either Earle or Harlan. I like a lot of both of their works. However, I don't think they really put a lot of thought or effort into their Bank Night Routines. Both routines could be made to be much more entertaining with minimal effort.

Saturday, April 23, 2005

Recipe: Magic Advocate's Nacho Dip

Here is the recipe for my soon-to-be-world-famous nacho dip. A few hefty servings of this delightful dish is gauranteed to add unwanted flab to your midsection and narrow your arteries by roughly 75%! It also tastes damn good too.

Ingredients that you'll need:
  • Two cans of "Cambell's Cheddar Cheese" soup
  • 1 Pound Ground Beef
  • 1 Packet of Taco Seasoning (I prefer the "Ortega Spicey Fajita Seasoning"
  • 1 Small can (sorry I don't remember the exact size, but it is the smallest can available) of diced Jalapeno Peppers
  • 1 bag of your favorite Torilla Chips for dipping

Preparation:

  1. Brown ground beef on stove - drain fat
  2. Add Packet of Taco Seasoning to beef and follow instructions on the seasoning packet
  3. Mix beef, Cheddar Cheese soup, and Jalapeno Peppers together in a crock pot
  4. Cook on low until warm, stirring occasionally (Alternatively, you can mixe everything in a microwave-safe bowl and heat in Microwave until hot, stirring occasionally)
  5. Serve with Tortilla Chips
  6. Enjoy!

It is a very simple recipe and doesn't take long to make. It is quite tasty too. Enjoy!