Monday, January 24, 2011

Bill Abbott's Ass & REVIEW: Diary of Decision by Doc Dixon

Hey everyone,

A very exhausted Cris Johnson here...I'm in Illinoise for a week's worth of schools and wouldn't you know it - I'm sick! I chalk it up to the horrific winter in the Northeast.

Before I get to this week's review, I gotta tell ya, I continue to be delighted by the feedback my "Clear View Airborne" receives. Here's what a recent client said in an email to Hocus Pocus:

"I am extremely pleased with not only the product itself, and the time that went into it and producing the instructional material, but also with your shop and your customer service. I will highly recommend you to others that I talk with regarding magic!"

- Doug Follett

Check out Clear View Airborne here:

I also want to share a funny story...this past Friday, my friend Bill Abbott performed a public show in Toronto, On, about 2 hours from where I live. I've never seen Bill perform, and he doesn't do public shows very often at all, so I was really excited.

Well, the venue was very TIGHT in terms of space, but my wife and I had seats right in front of Bill's performing area. I said hi to Bill and let him prepare. I went back to my table where I was surprised to see Anthony Lindan (of Incredible Suit Jacket fame) sitting. We chatted for a while and really got along.

Bill starts his show and it's going great - Bill's one of the funniest ad-libbers I've ever seen and his handling of the tough venue is a master class in how to handle less than ideal conditions.

During his third piece, Bill calls up 5 guys and has them line up. He wanted to do a 'reading' of each and to do so, he had to turn his back to the audience and back up. Seeing as how his butt would be in my view, Bill asks me, "Do you mind?" I chirped, "No, great!" which got a funny response from Bill.

Seeing as how things were so tight, I decided to give Bill an 'out,' so under my breath, I said, "Don't you want to sit on Santa's lap?" I don't know if Bill heard me or not, but he grabbed another guy's jacket and draped it over my lap and said, loudly so the audience could hear, "I just don't know where you've been," and sure enough he sat on my lap for the duration of his 'reading' of the 5 guys.

As I said, he may have been planning it all along, but boy, was that ever funny! The rest of the show was just sensational, with strong magic and even stronger comedy.

THIS WEEK'S REVIEW: I'm reviewing Doc Dixon's Diary of Decision. It's available for $39.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link:

EFFECT: For centuries we've said playing cards - even a single playing card - could reveal a person's innermost thoughts. Now you can prove it! You explain to your participant that playing cards can actually reveal how a person feels about life's biggest metaphysical questions. You offer to prove it.

She removes a card from a deck and places it aside. You ask her five questions of a metaphysical/afterlife nature, including, "Do you believe in destiny? Do you believe in ghosts?" etc. And a fifth question entirely of her choosing and creation. She picks up the Diary of Decision, an artistically crafted hard bound book with a gold foil embossed cover. The book has a personal thought profile for each card of the deck, including answers to the five questions. She turns to the profile for her card. The profile matches her first answer. The profile matches her second answer. The profile matches her third answer. The profile matches her fourth answer. And it even matches the answer of the question she created herself!

WHAT YOU GET: You receive the diary itself and quite honestly, the picture in the ad does not do this justice. I know that props do not 'make' an act, but a beautiful prop certainly cannot hurt. This book is gorgeous! The biggest question I have for Doc is how in the world he is able to release this for such a reasonable price?

You also receive an instructional DVD where Doc outlines the routine, the workings, alternate routines, sleight-free options and much more. You also get a glimpse of Doc's wonderful sense of humor as he corrects a very minor mistake in the DVD in a very amusing fashion.

Additionally, you also receive one gimmicked card necessary for the traditional handling.

VENUES: I think this would play well for stage, parlor and closeup for adults only. I don't see this as a kids' effect at all, but that's just me. The closeup performance, in my opinion, would work best in a casual setting. Most of the closeup performances I do are corporate holiday parties and there is drinking, noise, food, etc. Also, the client expects me to hit as many groups or tables as fast as possible and the Diary routine is longer from a duration standpoint.

That being said, if you've got a closeup gig and the client promised 100 people would get there and instead, 40 people are there....and you're expected to fill 90 minutes going from table to table, this would work well.:)

In terms of parlor or stage, Doc outlines a few differences to make the routine ;play' depending on venue.

ANGLES: There's a bit of sleight of hand involved, so you wouldn't want anyone directly under you, but other than that, this is pretty tight in terms of angles. The diary itself can be freely handled.

DIFFICULTY: There's a very, very minor bit of sleight of hand involved, including a basic, foundational sleight found in many beginning magic books...nevertheless, I find myself completely inept at doing it.:) There's also a sleight-free version, so you're covered. the sleight version I'd rate at a 2 or 3 out of 10 in terms of difficulty and the sleight-free version is a 1 out of 10 in terms of difficulty.

With the 'sleight' discussion out of the way, I do have to mention that there is a tiny, iddy-biddy bit of math involved. DON'T let that dissuade you from this, as initially I was horrified by the idea of math in the routine but the math is SO easy that I was able to do it right along with Doc before he even finished walking through it. EASY stuff.

MY THOUGHTS: This is a beautiful routine that allows you to really connect with your volunteer. Additionally, because you're asking questions about ghosts, destiny and so forth, you're instantly going to captivate your audience. I can't imagine any adult audience not being drawn into this plot.

Doc has created a winner here and I can't recommend it highly enough....and I'm not even a card guy! That brings me to another strong point - Doc does not play this as a card effect, instead playing it as a fortune telling type of routine, which only adds to the power.

A perfect 10 out of 10.

Next week start my Paul Romhany Month of reviews! I know that this week was supposed to be a review of a Peter Loughran product, but that will have to wait.


Cris Johnson

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