Sorry this blog is late - been a CRAZY week! I only work in the U.S. and Canada. People who work all over the world, well, I can't imagine how they keep their sanity!!
A few housekeeping notes...
First of all, to those of you who have helped make my new book, "Cause & Effects; Volume 1" a huge success, THANK YOU! I just sent the second order out to Paul & Ken today, so if any of you are waiting on it, it will be in your hands shortly. Secondly, I'll be on the road for the next two weeks straight, so if you're considering ordering this, I recommend doing it now as they are going fast and if you delay, you may be faced with a backorder situation til I get back into the office at the end of this month.
If you want to check it out, here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=12964
Thirdly, my ezine, "Cause & Effects," (A FREE ezine of magic philosophy & road stories) is getting more signups each week. To that I say thank you! Signing up is free - just shoot me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, June's edition of the ezine will focus on what I learned while watching David Copperfield live last night. I was heavily influenced by Copperfield...to my teen and twentysomething readers, Copperfield was my generation's Criss Angel...only better.:)
David still performs 500 sellout shows a year all over the world. I saw the show two months ago and wound up seeing it again last night. Long story short, at one of my recent shows, I met a guy who is friends with Copperfield. He loved my show and offered to arrange a quick backstage meeting with Copperfield. I got my picture taken with him and as soon as I can figure out how to upload photos to this blog, I'll post it.
Unfortunately, it was only a brief 60second meeting, but hey, when you're internationally famous on a level of most A-level movie stars, you've got people pulling at you from all directions.:)
I introduced myself, we shook hands and David asked me, "So, where are you from?"
"Niagara Falls," was my answer.
Copperfield wryly said, "Oh, I went there once."
To those of you who have followed Copperfield's career, THAT was FUNNY, because he understated it.
The next ezine is going to full of observations of Copperfield's operations and the things ANY magician can adapt to his own business. I am NOT, repeat, NOT talking about tricks or even specific scripts, but things that can be used to influence all of us. I had another topic planned, but I just can't let this go. Plus, you'll get to read about the VERY funny story I told to Penn Jillet (Penn & Teller fame) that caused him to bust out laughing when I had the opportunity to meet him after a show. Good stuff!
On to this week's review...
This week, I tackle Magic Gremlins in a Box, by Peter Loughran. It retails for $499.95 and is available from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/inc/product_detail.cfm?item=9410
THE EFFECT: The performer begins by inviting a spectator on stage to share something very unique with them. The performer introduces a small brown cardboard box to the spectator with a label on it that says Magic GREMLINS in a Box. The label resembles that of the old vintage comic book ads for such things as X-Ray Specs or Sea Monkeys to name a couple.
The performer begins to tell his audience that he acquired his Magic GREMLINS by ordering them from an old comic book he had lying around in the attic... and low and behold this is what he received and for only $2.98 plus shipping and handling of course.
He tells the spectator that the box is indeed full of Magic GREMLINS, however they are so small that they cannot be seen with the naked eye but they are so powerful that they can lift and move objects 1 million times their own body weight.
Now the magic begins! The performer asks the spectator to stand back and hands them a pair of sunglasses to wear, the performer also wears his own pair, and carefully opens the lid to the box and a green radioactive glow emits from within, gaining hilarious reactions. The performer now places the box on a near by table and steps away as he says the Magic GREMLINS can be very unpredictable if handled incorrectly. He calls over to the GREMLINS to see if they are awake and ready to play.
The box then begins to shake and rock from side to side and moves all by itself on the table top proving that the box is indeed full of real live Magic Glowing GREMLINS. The performer states that unlike Sea Monkeys, these small and adorable creatures can actually be taught how to perform real tricks. They are so intelligent that the performer tells his spectator that he has actually taught the GREMLINS how to perform not just a trick but an amazing MAGIC trick. A deck of cards is introduced and a card is selected.
The chosen card is replaced, lost inside the deck and shuffled by the spectator. The entire deck is now placed inside the glowing box full of Magic GREMLINS. After some comical by-play, the performer now asks the GREMLINS to also shuffle the deck, and the box begins to shake and rock sided to side etc, as if the cards are actually being shuffled. He then asks the GREMLINS to search for the spectator’s chosen card.
The box begins to move once again and then amazingly the box leans forward slightly toward the audience by itself and a card pops up out of the top of the glowing box. The performer takes the card and shows it to the spectator and the audience, and incredibly it is indeed the chosen card! AMAZING! But the routine isn’t over just yet.
The magician puts the card back into the box and brings out a Sharpie and says “The amazing Magic GREMLINS will now sign the card for you as a souvenir”. The Sharpie is placed inside the box, and after some more comical by-play the Sharpie begins to move. The end of the Sharpie is seen sticking out of the top of the box as it wiggles around inside the box apparently as if the GREMLINS are really signing the chosen card! The Sharpie then stops, and the performer asks the GREMLINS if the card is signed, and then tries to take the Sharpie out of the box but each time the GREMLINS move it just out of the reach of the magician, creating a hilarious interaction. “It’s so hard to find good GREMLINS these days,” the performer says.
He asks the GREMLINS to play nice, and they abide by letting the performer finally remove the Sharpie. The Sharpie is removed and the box tilts slightly forward as the card pops back out, but this time it has a signature across the face that says: THE MAGIC GREMLINS
The card is then given to the spectator to keep as a souvenir. The performer now asks for a big round of applause and the GREMLINS tilt the box forward once again for a final bow!
WHAT YOU GET: The specially constructed box with all of the electronic goodness you can expect from Loughran and especially Sean Bogunia (Sean built the electronics). You also receive a CD-ROM that plays a nearly 60-minute instructional video in which Peter walks you through the routine, the workings, programming, and much more.
You also receive a remote control, meaning you can activate the Gremlins while standing waaayyyyy far away. Great!
Additionally, you receive a Sharpie, some duplicate cards (Bicycles) and a couple of other goodies.
INSTRUCTION: The video is not the best when it comes to lighting. It's dim and the sound quality is somewhat on the low side. That being said,Peter takes a very thorough approach to the instruction and the sound/lighting issues do not hurt your learning of the effect. Peter's a good teacher and comes off as very friendly.
Oh, and his last name is pronounced "Lock-ran." I'd been saying it wrong for years.:)
The most intersting part of the instructional video was the way Peter helps viewers get used to coordinated programming along with scripting. This is very cool, and much appreciated from my end.
DURABILITY: The electronics are housed separately in a sort of brick-shaped unit that can if necesary be removed. This is extremely durable and adds to the protection. The box itself is extremely well built for a cardboard box. You won't want to spill coffee on it or throw it in the tub, but with care it will last years.
Peter explains that each box is specially built due to the gimmicked nature of the box and especially the required measurements to house the electronics, allow the movements of the box, allow room for the card work and more. Frankly, the box looks great and looks like a pain in the ass to build.:) Great stuff. Despite being cardboard in construction, it's SOLID cardboard and not shoebox stuff. This is built to last.
Side note: I immediately ran out and bought a thick, foam-lined case for storing microphones just the right size for this effect. It has pockets for cards, batteries, etc. Protect your investment!
The electronics themselves are almost identical to another effect by Peter, one I've owned for years. With that in mind, it should last a LOOONNNGGG time.
ANGLES: You could do this surrounded and it would play fine. The only issue to keep in mind is being careful to have this prop on a table higher than your audience's eye level, as when the box bows, someone may be able to see inside. This really is only an issue, by the way, for parlor-type performances, like a birthday party, for example. For stage, you should be OK.
VISIBILITY: It's true that the box is small, but I know guys who do spongeballs on stage. hundreds of people can see the box moving and when the marker starts moving or the selected card is held up by the gremlins, it's easy to see. Additionally, one might consider using a red or blue sharpie, because the brightly colored cap may be more visible from a distance. Just a thought.:)
MY OVERALL THOUGHTS: This is a delight. It's got a grat backstory, it's charming, it's nearly angle proof, and you can program the movements for your own personality. What more could you want?
Another monster benefit is that this gives users the ability to have conflict onstage - someone or something with whom you can have interaction with. Additionally, for guys like me who use little to no live animals in my show, a routine like this helps tremendously.
Finally, adults would appreciate the backstory of such a prop and the kids enjoy the silliness, so this plays on two levels. This is a great creation.
I quibbled a bit about the quality of the sound & lighting on the CD, but in the end, is this a good product and most importantly, does it play?
Both answers are a huge "YES." When I performed this for the first time, it was in front of 200 kids in a school. The moment the box started to move, the kids went crazy. The unit performs perfectly and is a totaly original way to do a card trick.
What's nice about an effect like this is I can fly anywhere and I can do an "animal trick" without the hassle of animal.
FINAL WORD: A perfect 10 for me. I love it.
Questions? Comments: send an email to email@example.com.
Until next week...