Thursday, February 14, 2013

Switchcraft supplements.

Just finished the supplements. There is some very very good stuff in there.  The quality is just as good as the main book and for the most part my complaints and compliments remain unchanged. Every thing is simple, strait-forward, and well credited. The problem I have remains the same, in order to achieve simplicity something else has to go and I feel that in this work good choreography is what is given up most often. I feel that nowhere is this more clear than in the Annemann for Everyone supplement. In order to do the Annemann switch deceptively he decides to add blocking. Reaching across the body and doing the switch behind the arm. While this works well for card cheats, I think performers should avoid it. It's bad choreography, it looks bad. It requires you to have something to reach for and if you knew you were going to need it why not have it on the side it needs to be on from the start.

I also kind of feel that it not really Annemann's switch anymore, at the very least you can't use it in all the same ways. With the Annemann switch you should be able to pick up a billet and hand it to someone and somewhere between  those two steps the billets has changed. Besides the bad choreography the simplified moves require more justification for your actions than a more difficult switch.

Good choreography does more than improve the look of things, it makes it harder to deconstruct latter. You don't want your spectator saying to their friends latter "Well he did do _______ so I guess he could have done something then."

If I thought of this as more than a beginners tome the bad choreography would be a larger complaint, but when you're first starting out doable deceptive moves are more important than flawless choreography. When I started in magic like most my original sources were a bit on the random side and one of the results is that I learned the push off double before a regular one. I have a pretty good push off which is a strong double but I spent so much more time alone mastering it than I would have had to do for the regular. Looking I'd have rather been doing magic for people than mastering complicated moves alone because performance skills take just as much time if not more to get the hang of. My audience management skills sucks.

Near the end of the the book there a lot of stuff on the Acidicus Novus peek. Which was a bit of a surprise after all that talk about how good switches are. I would have liked to see more complicated switches but no such luck. Now I know one's entertainment value is not based off the complicatedness of one's moves. As you can learn from the works of Paul Voodini you don't need any moves to be entertaining. But to advance one's skills and avoid plateauing one needs to do deliberate practice and that means practicing at a level above where you're at and learning from your mistakes (so some intermediate moves near the end would have been nice). If you love magic and mentalism as an art shouldn't your goal be to progress your skills. Just doing enough to get by is what you do for work, not for your passion.

One last note there is a mentalist I talk to from time to time on Skype and just about every time we even mention billets he has to tell me about this lecture he attended of a switch master who performed a switch for him that completely floored him. How much more powerful a switch can you get, in front of a mentalist at lecture where all you're talking about is switches. Talk about test conditions, do you need a switch that strong, probably not but I feel you should at least aspire to it.


  1. Thank you so much for your review of the Switchcraft supplements, Magnus. I really appreciate the time and effort you put into both writing the review and reading my e-book.

    I definitely see the inclusion of Acidus Novus, plus numerous variations, handlings and routines, plus an amazing new Acidus Novus routine by Millard Longman himself – as a big plus. I look at the envelope stuff and center tear the same way. They’re fantastic and only serve to add tremendous value for my readers.

    But, in all fairness, there are still a lot of switches in the supplements. Not counting some of the minor variants, the work to-date includes about 25 billet switches (not bad for under $20)

    Additionally, the supplements are filled with things you can do with the all those switches. Over the years, a fair number of people emailed me that they already had switches before buying the book, but love all the great billet routines in the book. If you already have a versatile switch you like, then you don’t really need my switches at all to perform the tricks in the book.

    Although easy to perform, they are not “beginner book” routines. Many were really innovative when I published them (although there has been a fair amount of subsequent “independent” reinvention.)

    Regarding my switches and the other switches included so far – I would definitely agree with some of your comments. I am terrible at sleight of hand. I mean really, really bad. So anything that I use has to be really, really easy. People looking for difficult techniques, requiring months or years to master, will probably be disappointed. I tried to be very upfront about that on my web-site and in the book itself.

    It is true that, to make a difficult technique really easy, yet increase the level of deceptiveness, a compromise will sometimes be made. In my work, the compromise sometimes involves requiring the performer to do “something.” Now, if a routine or performing environment make doing that “something” awkward or impractical (and the routine cannot be modified at all,) then it would probably be best to consider a different switch. Fortunately, Switchcraft includes about 25 to choose from.

    And if none of those 25 switches feel right, there are still the billet peeks, billet loads, the center tear and the gimmicked envelope – all in the book. One of those might “do the trick.”

    And if none of those excellent techniques or gimmicks meets a performer’s needs, there is still hope. I happen to be working on several billet related supplements for both Switchcraft and Mind Blasters USA. There’s some really good stuff in them.

    (That being said, it is my official policy to never promise or guarantee delivery of works still in progress. That’s why my web site only discusses what is available now. Disclaimer over.)

    Thank you again for writing detailed reviews of both Switchcraft and supplements 1-20. I very much appreciate it.


  2. I truly am a fan of the book, and I'll be honest I didn't really take the actual routines into consideration, but I don't feel there's anything in there harder or more advanced than anything in Annemann's Practical Mental Magic and the latter is the go to book when some one on a forum asks what they should read to get into mentalism.

    That said I'd be the first to admit that my complaints with this work have more to do with my personal tastes and beliefs. And it's not like I'm not taking nothing away, I will be using the switch with the paper clip and the E.B. Tear, plus so others, I'm also practicing four of the effects.

    I do think you hit the nail on the head in that you don't see many people doing switches, simply because most switches are difficult to do deceptively. And Switchcraft fills a much needed void in the market.

  3. And if you're taking suggestions I'm currently in the market for billet switches with unfolded billets.