I have to say, I'm truly touched by the number of new signups for my new magic ezine, "Cause & Effects," this week. The next issue is a good one, with an article by yours truly on how Alfred Hitchcock's views on suspense can help your magic! I've also got the next 11 issues planned. The Hitchcock article comes out on or about May 1st, so sign up now - shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I continue to be thankful for the sound Controller by Jim Kleefeld. I've used it about 40 times or so since my review and I still love it. One of the problems with the Virtual Soundman was fading music. With Kleefeld's device, this is not a problem. I love it!
This past week, I had the pleasure of working five gigs in Canada. For each gig, I opened the show with the Mindreading Goose. Since I play my show for laughs, it's perfect for me because it establishes my character right away. It's been a great investment for me.
On to this week's review. I figured this week I would take a (temporary) break from reviewing the higher priced items and take a look at a little booklet that's been on my shelf for a few years.
Docc Hilford's Cellular Mitosis. It's available at Hocus Pocus for $39.95. Check out the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=5985
THE EFFECT: A spectator is asked to think of any thought. It can be a name, a place, a date, a number, a color, any thought at all. A phone number is randomly selected from any phonebook. THERE IS NO FORCE OF THE NAME OR NUMBER FROM THE BOOK! The person is called and asked to guess at what the spectator is thinking. The person NAMES THE THOUGHT!! The spectator speaks to the randomly slected person and he tells the spectator exactly what he's thinking!
WHAT YOU GET: A thin booklet that outlines the effect in detail, along with a couple of nifty bonus effects. The ad copy describes the bonus effects, so I won't get into it here.
ANGLES: Like a lot of mentalism, angles are quite solid here. Docc mentions the need to secretly access information and gives several ways to do so. The angles depend on the method used to get the information. Personally, I use a peek wallet, but there are other choices.
INSTRUCTION: Docc leaves no stone unturned as he lays it all out, especially the psychology on exactly why this is so strong.
AD COPY: Docc is known for bending the truth or at least the reader's perceptions, in his ad copy. The strength of the effect is very good, but it will not satisfy all of the criteria he highly touts in his ad copy. In other words, of all of the wonderful traits of this effect, all are satisfied in actual use, but not all at the same time and not all together. Which traits are satisfied depend on what direction the spectator goes with the effect.
So was I. Docc defends himself by talking about people's perceptions and how everything seems so fair due to the psychology involved and so on. I certainly understand it and as a Certified Stage Hypnotist and Certified Master Practitioner of Neuro-Linguistic Programming, I certainly agree with most if not all of the terrific psychological nuances he uses to acheive his effect.
That being said, I feel the ad copy is considerably less than honest because purchasers of the effect would read his sensationalistic claims and judge them in one way. We're performers, looking for, as Rick Maue so eloquently put it in one of his books, for "the perfect lie."
In wording his ad copy as he did, Docc is purposefully taking advantage of the perceptions of his potential buyers. I feel it's dishonest. "Know thy customer!" is a rule of basic marketing.
Nevertheless, this is STILL a worthy effect.
DIFFICULTY: Here's where things get sticky. From a technical standpoint, this is a very easy effect to accomplish. In my opinion, however, there is NEVER anything easy in performing. There is always a price to be paid - if you're not busting your fingers doing a Faro shuffle, you've got memory work. If you don't have memory work, you've got to present the thing in a compelling manner and on and on.
In this case, the real work comes from acting. You have to sell this effect with every ounce of your ability. If you don't, you're dead.
In some of the cases when you perform this, you'll be performing by using one of your friends on the phone. In those cases, the acting is a bit easier. In other cases, when you truly do call any person from any phone book, your acting must be several levels higher to truly pull this off.
Before you buy this, consider yourself and your actig skills. If you truly have nerves of steel, this may be for you. If not, you may want to think about it.
THE FINAL VERDICT: I've performed this several times and it really does play strong in most of the cases I've used this. I like it, but since much of the effect involves the use of a phone, there are times I can't use it - maybe the reception is bad in the boardroom I'm performing in, or maybe the audience just doesn't feel right...if you've performed professionally for any length of time, you know what I mean by reading an audience like this.
In summation, I'll just say that this is a nice "B" effect for me - I'll pull it out for repeat audiences, but it's never in my 'starting lineup,' so to speak. With that in mind, you may feel differently. If you're the kind of performer who loves to take chances, loves a challenge and truly loves acting, this may be for you.
It has a lot going for it, in that if you've prepared, you can do this virtually anywhere, anytime. The angle considerations are almost non-existent, depending on your stealth method of choice and it does play strong.
With that in mind, and with a full acknowledgement that this type of review is very subjective, I'll give this a 7 out of 10. I cautiously recommend it while stressing the need for guts and acting chops. I took a couple of points off for the less-than-honest ad copy.
Next week, I'll tackle Cellular Mitosis 2, also by Docc Hilford, which address many of the shortcomings of this effect. Stay tuned!
Comments? Questions? Email me at email@example.com.