Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Scoundrels Touch from The School for Scoundrels

Two DVDs for the price of one, not really as it costs more than $50 (which I guess in term of magic DVDs there are some out there that cost $50 or more) but its worth every penny if you seriously work the shells. By seriously work the shells I mean that you love the effect not that you are an actual conman. The Scoundrels Touch has so much content it needs two disks. And it really is two DVDs in one because Bob Sheets' DVD 'Absolutely Nuts' is part of disk one. The quality of the video is excellent better than it needs to be in the non teaching sections but I think the quality of School for Scoundrels products is what makes it worth their sometimes high dollar prices.

The menu is very similar to the one from the previous School for Scoundrels Three shell game DVD. Clicking play all takes us into an introduction from Whit Haydn, Bob Sheets, and Chef Anton. One can not help but think that Bob must feel a little under-dressed between Whit and Chef. Next up is Whit introducing us to the system presented in this volume, and he starts with a history lesson. Like a lot of talk of the shells this one starts with Soapy Smith. Soapy's method gave Whit an idea that he couldn't get to work which he shared with Bob, who worked on it for a year and then came back to fry minds with it. Next up is Bob explaining how the system works. After a quick explanation we cut to Bob Sheets performing at the Magic Castle. Like the video from the first volume he is using his variation on the Dr Beaumont patter, his version has extra emphasis on poo in order to tie his patter to scarab shells. Maybe he is too ingrained with that patter because he's using regular looking walnut style shells but still brought out a scarab shell for his patter and that is all that shell is there for, it plays no other part in the routine. This is followed by another performance at wherever the video was shot, he's mostly performing for the camera with the help of an off screen spectator. Now we finally get to learn how to do this routine. After that we get some more information on the system and an updated Sheet's acquitment. I don't know why it needed the update to its handling but as I have not done the move anywhere as near as often as Bob Sheets has I have to assume it's a needed improvement. What I like about this routine is that it works with larger shells. Finding a glass the right size for a shot glass finally was a pain with with my Black Fox Master Shells. After explaining the routine the go into more details on some of the moves. Then they go over ways to ring a pea in and out including the use of the Sheets' Stack. One of the things I like about this series  of DVDs is that even when they are explaining one of the products School for Scoundrels sells I never feel as if they're trying to sell me the product. It's more if you have or want said product this is how it works and never you should get this product. After that is a nice alternative ending that use two shells. Next we cut to Bob Sheet's Absolutely Nuts DVD, not having the original DVD I can't say how it was modified to fit on this DVD. For the most part with the exception of the system that makes up The Scoundrels Touch and a pea in the hand move most of the info in this section is the same as what you would find on volume one of the series. After Absolutely nuts section we have Whit giving us a refresher on the V-grip, the Haydn Turnover, and the Maneuvers  I consider the Hayden turn over essential because no matter how many times you tell them it's off limits someone will make a grab for your equipment, if I see someone go for the shell with the pea I can do the turnover before he can grab it. Once the refresher is over we have Whit teach the kick steal. The drawback to the kick steal is it need a heavier shell to function. Next is what may be my favorite part of disk one "Feints, Hooks, Come Ons, and Ruses" apparently this section is just a teaser for volume three. I CAN'T WAIT. The moves taught here are designed to help the spectator think he has one up on the operator so they will want to play. The are more valuable to people that use the shells more as an actual con than for the magician doing a routine. The final bit of video is Whit going over the various shells available at the Scoundrels store. I must be done talking about disk one, wait, nope, the disk also has files to be opened on a computer. With the exception of the photos these seem to be mostly the same files from volume one.

The menu is no different here than on the other DVD. This video start with Chef Anton doing is routine. I really enjoy this routine and I will be learning it. So it good that next part is Chef teaching this routine. Followed by Chef with an alternate ending. Next is Whit showing an alternative ending for if you have magnetic shells. Then Chef shows how to do the same with a magnetic cigar instead of magnetic shells. Whit up next with a run down of the Sheets Stack, the Sharper Pens, and the Pea Can. After that we find that Chef is a fan of outs, that he loves doing them and he teaches some of the ones he enjoys. Whit then introduces us to psychological outs which vary from the regular ones in that you don't manipulate the shells. These are bits of business that make it OK that the spectator got the right shell and Whit goes into how you can use them to get a read on what kind of player you have on your hands. Then we have what I think could be the most useful section two videos of Whit performing the same routine to different groups at the magic castle. In one it goes perfect and in the other the spectators are trouble. Besides being able to contrast the two performances it help to see how a master like Whit handles the situation. I also find it interesting to see how Whit uses the whole table not just the area in front of him. Next we learn the Escobar move which Whit says is a come on in that it let's you do the shells with one arm behind your back. A surprise character follows, a Giuseppe that teaches us about the modern outfit. It's a little odd watching a man dressed like he belongs on a river boat talking about about sanding bottle caps. Beyond that the information seems solid and is straightforwardly presented. The most useful of the information he presents for someone that is running more of legitimate game than a routine is that of Betting Cycles. Giuseppe is followed by Whit showing how to use a handheld board. After Whit is video of a real operator and his crew working a festival. Next is a lecture with Whit and Chef called "Thinking like a Scoundrel" They go over the difference between a real operator and someone doing an exhibition. They talk about what we can learn as performers from a real operator. The files on the DVD worth mentioning are the pictures of legitimate mobs in action and a transcript of Gamblin' Sams forum posts.

So what do you get for your money well you get two routines from Bob Sheets and one from Chef Anton, a solid system to always win at the shells, new moves and bits of business, a lot of information about the legitimate operations of the con, and good bit of stuff that takes some actual time spent thinking and considering. I know that The School for Scoundrels says that you don't need the first video to benefit from this one but there a good bit of info here that needs the operator to have a thorough understanding of the basics.

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