Saturday, June 18, 2011

Crappy Phone Practices and REVIEW: Sugar Rush by Scott Alexander

Whew, another week just flew by! This time of year each year sees my business shying away from magic and doing more hypnosis shows as I do a lot of high school events. I also am traveling less this time of year, doing more local stuff, so my stress levels have gone down...except for one thing!

I don't know how things are in other countries, but here in the US, we have a thing called "do not call lists" we can sign up for which keeps most telemarketers from pestering us at home. Well, most callers EXCEPT for political calls!

I am used to these calls and I hate them, but one this week hit a new low. I saw on my caller ID that it was one of those automated companies where they call your house with a message or request to partake in a poll (no live person so I can't even scream, "DON'T CALL ME ANYMORE!")

Anyway, I recognize the number and answer because if I don't they KEEP CALLING. So I pick up and a recorded voice says, "All of our representatives are busy. Please wait."

WTF???? call me unsolicited and then YOU ask me to wait??? Unreal!!!

On a positive note, I am currently working on several new products, one of which I plan on releasing by the end of July. I may even take pre-orders on it. Essentially it's going to be a complete "show in a box" for my corporate work where I routinely book out at $2495.00. This has been a real winner for me because NO ONE else is doing ANYTHING like this as far as I can tell. Details to follow...

Anyway, onto this week's review: Sugar Rush by Scott Alexander. It's available for $349.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link:

EFFECT: The routine starts with Scott displaying a typical sugar packet. The sugar packet is torn open and the contents are poured into his hand. Whoosh...the sugar has vanished. We know, vanishing a small amount of sugar is not a big deal.

The power of the routine is the amount of "sugar" that is produced during the production. From empty hands streams of sugar pour forth! What we're going for is a classic magician in trouble plot. Think of Mickey Mouse in the Disney cartoon "The Sorcerer's Apprentice". Mickey loses control of the brooms and water buckets. Sugar Rush is the same. Scott apparently loses control over the sugar. Once it starts pouring he can't stop it. The pour lasts for exactly 2 minutes. Very funny stuff.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A very detailed instructional DVD which covers some of the history of the salt pour, a live cruise ship performance, Scott's handling, Bob Kohler's handling, music ideas, acting tips and much more.

You also receive a salt pour gimmick based on the Pressley Guitar gimmick with the modifications Bob mentions in the ad copy.

You also receive a generous supply of the mysterious secondary gimmick Bob mentions in the ad.

THE REVIEW: As I've said before, Bob Kohler makes the best instructional DVDs ion magic today, bar none. (L&L is very close, but you still have to put up with the annoying over-acting of their "audiences.")

Scott & Bob talk briefly about the history of the effect. They don't go nearly in depth on the history as Levent does on his salt pour DVD, but that's OK - many of us are workers...we respect history but we do not need the entire history spelled out when learning a new effect.

What's interesting is that this is the first DVD I've got from Kohler in which he himself teaches his handling. Scott also teaches his handling and the two are quite a bit different from each other, allowing users to determine what works best for them. (I myself have been working with the handlings for a week straight and I've combined aspects of both along with a tweak of my own.)

The main salt gimmick itself is wonderfully built out of aluminum and colored black, as Bob feels it's best as flashes of the gimmick will look like a shadow. Since I wear a black jacket when I perform, this makes sense to me.

The one disadvantage is the metal construction makes it impossible to see visually how much salt is left in your gimmick, so you'll need to time it out when routining.

The mysterious second gimmick(s) are what allows you to continually produce streams of salt. It's a gimmick that will deplete over time and need to be replaced - no worries, as it's readily available nearly anywhere for pennies per gimmick.

It's a wonderfully low-tech solution to making the salt pour as long as you want...with this method, you could do a 30-minute salt pour if you wanted, not that I'm recommending it!

The music Scott has selected I feel is good, but more intended for an adult audience in that it references an older song. I don't know if it would work for a family show as the music will not appeal to kids but Scott talks about other options.

The BIGGEST teaching concept on the DVD that I love is Scott's talk on the subject of acting and in particular, a simple acting technique he uses for this effect that you can apply to ANY silent effect...or any effect, for that matter. It's a cliche, but this one tip is worth the price of the package.

Another bonus: Scott tips where to get popcorn salt online very cheaply as the popcorn salt in stores is very expensive. (Popcorn salt flows better and you can use more of it in any gimmick).

HANDLING: Neither handling is very difficult and I was able to competently perform the moves after a few hours of practice...and I'm not a techie guy when it comes to moves (no farrow shuffle for me!). Over the course of this past week, I've gotten more comfortable with it and now need to practice with salt.:)

I'd say the handling difficulty is around a 3 or 4 - within reach of anyone with practice.

FURTHER THOUGHTS: Some readers may wonder why I bought this when I reviewed Levent's salt pour gimmick and DVD a few months ago...the answer is, I'm addicted to Bob Kohler's releases! Everything I've bought from him is gold. Scott Alexander has a great knack for taking a classic of magic and adding a unique spin on it. With Sugar Rush I think the overall effect is greatly enhanced because in the traditional salt pour routines, you vanish some salt out of a shaker and cause the same amount of salt to reappear in a pour. With Sugar Rush, you're vanishing a tiny packet of "sugar" and then causing many times more "sugar" to reappear. To me, that's a stronger effect.

I still like Levent's gimmick and actually plan on incorporating it into my own interpretation of Sugar Rush.

RATING: As with everything I've picked up from Kohler Productions, I love this. Plus, Bob is prompt with any customer service questions, making him a joy to work with. It gets a perfect 10 out of 10 from me.

NEXT WEEK: Growing / Floating Mic Stand


Cris Johnson

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