Monday, April 30, 2012

Building a tip by Don Driver

Well this DVD I have a feeling is worth its price in an under the surface sort of way. Its a strait forward DVD not a lot of menus or fancy camera work. Don Driver shows you his Bally (its like patter) to draw a tip (crowed of people) Then there is some video of him doing it on the street (he draws a huge tip in just a few minutes), and some video of another fellow using it and talking about how to use it was and what insights he's taken away. I will be doing the bally as taught but I think that learning the principles behind it is more important. I feel that once I internalize those I can apply it to something more my style. The actual patter and act don't seem to be the important part to me. I can't help but think that it was just what the original person tried applying the principles to and it worked so why mess with it, then pass it along when the time comes. But its not me and its not my character and I think that slipping from it into my character will be incongruousness in the eyes of the audience. I'll just have to try it out and see how it works. I think this will be worth my $35.
If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Black Fox Master Shells

So for quite some time I have been in a small hell known as cheap props. My set up for the shell game was from MagicMakersInc. These shells had some problems starting with couldn't be used without a mat. The second problem was that unless I hit the sweet spot they failed to work. One performance for a friend they failed 5 times in a row. Its the way they are designed, the design has major flaw. The also were a little rough and would catch the mat sometime. Well today I received my Master Shells by Black Fox. The difference is so huge its actually unfair to compare them to the MagicMakersInc shells. They glide across what ever surface I use them on. No more need to be bound to a mat. The mat is still the best place but that's not always possible. And this freedom to perform where ever is what I've been waiting for. I'm going to do the shell game till people are sick of it. They look like real shells until you pick them up their weight and feel plus the way they look on the bottom lets you know it not real but it looks it. These shells are on the bigger side of the spectrum but they fit my hands really well. They were not cheap. $65, but for that price I got 4 shells, 5 peas, velveteen bag, and basic instructions. I don't really need the instructions and the bags too small for me. Two of the peas are big and tree are smaller. I don't know what the peas are made from but they are harder than a perfect pea and not as easy to use for me. The only downside is finding something the right size for a shot glass ending.

If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Diversions for the Shell and Pea game by Dusty Johnson

So I recently spent $209.50 at the School for scoundrels store. I'm calling it the 'getting me out and performing the shell game purchase.' Shells, Pea can, Scoundrels Touch DVD, Two Books, and Don Driver's DVD on Building a tip. If you're wondering what the next few months worth of posts are going to be about. It's gonna be reviews of this stuff, mostly first impressions type stuff but still. So first up is the "book" Diversions for the Shell and Pea game by Dusty Johnson. I put book in quotes because it is hand-bound affair 19 pages long. As the website claims it contains two routines for the shell game and that's pretty much it. First impression is not a happy one. I was looking forward to adding two routines to my repertoire but... well the first one in the book claims to be magical routine that won't ruffle any feathers. I just can't see my self presenting a routine that ends with a sponge ball climax. So that's one routine down. The other claims to be baffling I haven't given it the hard look yet but nothing jumped out at me as not gonna happen. So I've paid $15 for one routine, it better be good. At least there's nothing in the book limiting my performance rights. I'll probably post again after I've read the whole thing and see what I can take away from it.

On of the good things about writing the posts weeks in advance is that it give me the chance to update them before they go live. I'm here to add I regret spending $15 on this book. It teaches you nothing about working the shells beyond the basic move. The instructions were unclear and confusing, the "real talk" patter was atrocious and unless you perform as children's clown you had better stay the hell away from the first routine in the book or you will have no credibility. For the first routine in addition to the set up for the shells you need a fourth solid shell and a gimmick-ed $5 bill and two green sponge balls. There is switch of one of the shells for the solid one which is unnecessary and suspicions. The whole act requires you to go to your pockets way too much. I can't help but think it at least creates the the door for that as a way to explain the "Magic" If you want a solid shell in the act have it in from the beginning and just never show the bottom until you are ready. No ones gonna think, "Hey, I bet one of the shells are solid". I'd have to see this routine done before a live non-studio audience before I'd believe it could work. I could not finish the the second one it actively confronts and insults the spectator and all the advice the author gives is, keep it up beat so not to upset the spectator.

Here's the only thing you could possibly take away from this book and I've learned it before. If you want the spectator engaged but not actively participating then tell a story. There I just saved you $15.

If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Inspire Friday

I picked this image because its inspiring and its a message the magicians should take to heart. Teller said "Magic is the unwilling suspense of disbelief." As Magicians we reach into peoples minds past reality to a place where anything is possible. Its important that we pay attention to what we leave there.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Eclipse by Eric Jones from Theory11

So I'm tooling around on Theory11 looking to get my magic fix, looking for a download and I watch the preview clip for Eclipse and I has to have it. It just seems so me. So I get it, didn't cost much, 6.95 for a 25 minute video from a respectable artist of an awesome looking utility move. I'll be honest I got it mostly for the color change. It is listed as an intermediate skill level which I felt I could handle. I had a little trouble down loading the almost half gig file. But that was more a fault of my modem.

The first thing I notice is that Eric Jones is left handed. After the explanation starts I see why its rated intermediate skill level, it requires a whole new grip, a sort of modified mechanics grip with two fingers on the top edge. Its very awkward at first and it's one of two problems I have with the move. Now I have to decide how I want to handle this. Do I want to shift into and out of this grip when I want to do this move, do I make this my full time grip, or not use this move? I may give the second option a go. The other thing is this move requires slick cards which means that at a certain point a deck will be too worn out to use this move well, which means I may not be able to use it with borrowed decks. It also means I can't practice with a beat up old deck. Other than those two things I'm a big fan of Eclipse. Eric Jones does a very good job of explaining everything and his tips and the end are invaluable.

I've been playing with this for a few days and I like it, I'm going with the shift into and out as needed route and I think I have a good effect cooked up using it.

If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Smash by Hugo Luccioni

At the above link you will find a free download of Smash by Hugo Luccioni (Hopefully who knows if it will still be there by the time you find this post) Smash is a very visual two phase sandwich-esque effect. Presented in a very smooth musical fashion. I don't know if I will learn this effect or if I do that it will ever make it into repertoire but the reason I am reviewing this effect is because of the explanation. The explanation is done in the same wordless flowing fashion as the performance. Its just so artistic. I don't know that I want to see many explanations like it. But I do like that the art of the performance was carried over to the part not meant for non-magicians to see.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I'd like to see...

Ok whenever I watch a instructional video and the magician is not using rider backs I'd like it if he would just mention what deck he is using.

Update: Stigmata in use.

So I used Stigmata at a party I was at, due to a flub in the card force  method(I just did a different card effect than I intended) I had to go the peek method. I don't care much for the peek routine because the participant could pick a name with a really hard to do initial like a 'C' but their handwriting could be poor and the name could be weird. All of which happened to me but it went OK. I peeked and saw all that and just grabbed the first initial cause that's technically all I needed for the effect and I couldn't make out the rest. One bit of interesting was that the participant saw more than I revealed, apparently the person's last name started with a "B" and she saw that forming too.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Stigmata by Wayne Houchin from Ellusionist

So what did this cost me, nothing it was part of a prize pack from a contest. I think it cost like 30 bucks. What you get is a DVD in a very flimsy case. So the thing I like about this DVD is that the performances are in front of live people on the street. And after going over the how, they go back through the video of the street performances with voice over telling whats happening behind the scene. There is also some extra footage of live performances. And an interview with Banacheck. So what is Stigmata, at its most simple level its a reveal. What you get is three ways to set up for the reveal; one with cards, one with a peek, and one with a psychological force. Beyond this its up to you and your imagination. In addition to the reveal Wayne Houchin goes over the classic force and the Acidus Novus peek (Which is useful for so much more than just Stigmata)

In the video it appears that Wayne just walks up to people and just does Stigmata. I can't see my self doing it that way unless I knew my time was limited and I wanted to blow their minds right away. I'd either use this as a closer or as a transition effect. After doing a few regular effects I could see myself using this to transition to more heavy bizarre material after I'm sure I have them along for the ride. It starts in a familiar pick a card territory and slowly builds to bizarre.

I will say this like a lot of Wayne Houchin effects this one takes presentation. It does not work as a hey look what I can do. However if you think you have the acting skills to sell this effect and the character to support it I could see it being worth the $30. Personally I'm just happy walking away with the Acidus Novus peek but it was a free DVD for me.

If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gold Arcanes from Ellusionist

So I recently won a contest on the Ellusionist forums and the prize was a deck of Gold Arcanes and a DVD. Now I know the deck is very collectible but I'm more magician than collector and I opened them. I'll be honest it took some rationalizing and bargaining on my part but we all knew I was going to open them. I have never handled the regular Arcanes so I can't compare these to them but I like these cards. My first impression was one of surprise, I expected the gold to be more shiny, but instead its a muted matte gold that works really well. Being a brand new deck it handled really smoothly as to be expected. Its hard to say why but the gold really bring something to the cards especially the face cards. It saves them from a two toned hell. The Ace of spades is unique and it looks great, I like how the outline of the spade more hinted at than definite.The joker is some sort of summoning circle summoning a demon of sexiness. The second joker contains a reveal and its so subtle that I spent a minute looking at them side by side trying to find it before it hit me. And it freaking works. When I do a force and then simple reveal with that card people are so shocked that they grab the card from my hand it works so well. The last bit of fancy to them is a double backer which is kind of useless to me but it may come in handy one day.

Now for some of the cons, there's only one really this being a black deck even with the minimal use I've put it through there's a bit of chipping around the edges. I know this can be touched up with a sharpie if I thought of it as a problem.I don't see it that way though so as long as its only a question aesthetics I'll let my black decks chip. But if card manufacturers are going to make black decks they should use black cardstock.

If you found this review to helpful or you thought it sucked let me know in the comments section.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Secret uses for your favorite moves.

Sometimes I think being a card magician is synonymous with move-junkie. Honestly how many false cuts and card controls do you know? I know a few my self and am always on the look out for more. But I recently came to realize that true understanding come from using the same move over and over.

For example the Playboy cut which I learned for the Jacks to Backs DVD from Magic Makers. One of the few things I took away from that DVD. The Playboy cut is a rather flashy false cut. And I liked it for its flashiness, (for all you anti-florishers reading this, be quite, I don't want to hear it my character can handle the odd bit of flashiness) so learned and started using it. I liked it so much it became my go to cut. Any way on the DVD its taught as a simple false cut. But after months of play with it I have found another use. If I stop one move before completion I'm set up for my preferred force. And I was playing around with a control just now and I realized that if I start from a break I can use the playboy cut to bring the card to the top. I don't know if the guy on the DVD even realized these extra uses for the cut, but the point is while it's nice to know a lot of move. Its only through repeated use that they become truly useful.