To my readers who live in the US, I hope your Turkey Day was fun, restful and enjoyable. To my friends in other parts of the world who do not celebrate Thanksgiving, I STILL hope your day was fun, restful and enjoyable.:)
Obviously I am a few days late with this blog. In short, being sick for nearly two months straight and traveling all over the east coast of the US all that time really knocked me on my butt, so I hot the couch and gave myself some R&R. (I spent it watching my new DVDs of "The Greatest American Hero," a 3 season TV series from the early 80's. REALLY fun re-visiting my childhood!)
The new issue of "Cause & Effects" my free monthly ezine, should go out on schedule, on or about December 1st. Those of you who recently signed up have been added. You can sign up by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org. This month I tackle the "too-perfect theory" in mentalism and why, for the most part, I think it's rubbish. It's an opinion piece, sure to spark debate.:)
On to this week's review...The Superior Hydrostatic Glass. It's available for $52.50 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link to the ad: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=4633
EFFECT: You pour water (or any liquid) into a glass. You then cover the glass with a piece of paper and turn the glass upside down. The paper stays in place, so the liquid doesn't fall. Then you slide the paper off and it STILL stays in place! At your command, or an audience member's command, the liquid falls out.
WHAT YOU GET: You get the glass itself (packed in a sturdy cardboard box), the gimmick (packed into an envelope to prevent scratching)and details instructions, as in 4 pages' worth.
QUALITY OF EQUIPMENT: When I bought this, I told the folks at Hocus Pocus I wanted something good, not a 'toy' out of a children's magic set. This is the one they recommended. On the Hocus Pocus site, there are several versions - one for around $12 and even one for several hundred dollars. I feel for the money I spent this is extremely well built. The glass is sturdy and looks like a natural, normal solid glass you'd pick up in any department store. It's also a GOOD glass, not cheap looking. The gimmick is well made and fits the glass very well and is easy to 'load.' Rock-solid.
QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: As I said, there are several pages of instructions, detailing care for the props, how the effect works, performance tips, trouble-shooting tips, alternate performance tips and more. There really is not any advice as far as scripting or presentation, so you're on your own. I however had a script already in place when I bought it.:) Good, basic info that more than covers the handling.
DIFFICULTY: Technically, this is an easy effect - a 1 out of 10. The real key to remember is prop management: where are you going to hide the gimmick until it comes into play? For that matter, where are you going to keep the glass and liquid until it's time for this effect? Most critically, where are you going to 'catch' the liquid? (If you do it at your main performance table, some splashing may dampen or even soak your other props.) What I'm getting at is while the effect may be easy, because it involves liquid, blocking and prop management becomes extremely important as well as your script.
MARKETS: Thus far, I've only performed this in schools, for kids in grades K-5. That being said, not only do the kids like it, but when the liquid is finally 'released,' it always generates spontaneous applause from the adults. My feeling is this will play well to adults as well.
ONE SORE SPOT: Because of the method, there is a small bit of 'talking' as you put the gimmick in place with the glass. For me on stage, this is no big deal because I'm talking the entire time (except when I remove the paper - gotta play that part for drama!) If you are a silent performer, you'll need some music to cover this 'talking' especially if you perform this in close quarters. I always use it on stage, so for me, no big deal.
ANGLES: You really can't do this surrounded because of the nature of the gimmick, but I will say that once the gimmick is in place, all angles are covered, so the enterprising performer may be able to pull off a surrounded performance. The angles are VERY forgiving, and besides, as I've often said, if I'm doing a stage show surrounded, I must be in hell.:)
EFFECT ON AUDIENCE: As mentioned earlier, I know this effect (and this version) has been around forever. In fact, I had a cheesy version in an old magic set that was horrible looking. I never really thought it was much of an effect until I had a critical need for a good water effect in one of my shows in schools. Well, after performing it 8 or so times for crowds of people from 200-400 strong, I can say it KILLS. I now understand why so many pros use a version of this effect in their shows!
MY OVERALL RANKING: Based on the solid workmanship and the great reaction it generates, I have to give this a 10 out of 10. If you work out the issues I mentioned above, this is a winner and a heck of a value.
Until next time...