This week's blog will be shorter than most...I'm in the middle of the busiest part of my year, the beginning of school here in the U.S.! Add to that that I'm in the middle of getting certified for a specialized form of clinical hypnosis and I am just crushed!
Well, my new blog, Professional Magic Tips, is gone already. Long story short, I got into a dispute with Google and anytime anyone gets into a dispute with Google...they lose.:) Grrrrr, Hulk frustrated! (Okay, my nerd-ness is showing!!)
I do want to take this opportunity to clear something up, too - I will be continuing my "Cause & Effects" monthly free ezine. My regular readers love it as each month I write one long form article on performing philosophy, the business side of magic and other topics. I also reveal true 'road stories' to give readers a glimpse of my life as a full time pro. Sign up for free at email@example.com.
On to this week's review: Winning Numbers by Paul Romhany. It's available for just $20.00 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the ad copy: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=18310
EFFECT: The idea of predicting raffle ticket numbers, chosen at random by audience members, can be found in 13 Steps to Mentalism. However, the original method required an offstage assistant. For the past twenty years, Paul has been developing, and performing his version of this amazing effect, without the need for an offstage assistant.
This one person routine is easy to perform, and like all of Paul's work, is taken from real-world working situations. The method is highly practical, and so easy to perform, you can put this to your act straight away.
Paul explains THREE different versions of this routine that he has been performing on cruise ships, private functions and trade shows. Additional tips are included by Wayne Rogers and TC Tahoe, both of whom have now added Winning Numbers to their own repertoire.
Effect One: A prediction is handed out to an audience member at the beginning of the show. At anytime during the performance, a bowl of two hundred tickets are handed out, with three spectators each choosing their own ticket. The prediction is then read out, and the winning numbers match the ticket numbers chosen by the spectators.
Effect Two: A prediction with three raffle tickets inside is given to an audience member to hold. A bowl of raffle tickets is handed out and three different audience members each take one ticket. The three prediction tickets match the numbers of the three random tickets chosen by the spectators.
Effect Three: A large envelope is hanging on stage. A bowl or raffle tickets is passed through the audience with five people each taking one out, and looking at the numbers on their tickets. The envelope is opened by an audience member, and a large piece of paper with raffle ticket numbers is read out, they match the ticket numbers chosen by the five spectators.
WHAT YOU RECEIVE: One Softcover, Perfect bound book with Black and White photos
INSTRUCTION: As usual with Paul, he teaches the effects in the book very well. One of the reasons I sometimes give the effect I'm reviewing a less than perfect score is because of the way the effect is or is not properly taught. Let's face it, not everyone is a great writer. Paul explains his effects very clearly.
DIFFICULTY: None of the effects are difficult from a sleight of hand perspective. That's often the case with mentalism, which often relies on psychology and subtly rather than physical technique. The handling here is well within everyone's reach.
The second version of the basic effect requires a bit more set up than the first version, so when I perform this, I'll be using the first version. You may feel differently.
ANGLES: Like many mentalism effects, the angles are good. The second version probably has more angle challenges than the other two, but again, this is a stage effect and as long as no one is behind you for version one and two, you will be able to hide what you need to hide. Version three is something you can do surrounded.
MY THOUGHTS: I have been criticized on that magic forum about handing out too many 10 scores. Just off the top of my head, here are products that did not receive a 10:
CM2 by Docc Hilford
Russian Roulette by Larry Becker
Mad Scientist by Peter Loughran
Multiplying Bottles DVD
Stretching the TruthDead Rap
Spirit Bell by Tim Wisseman
Bewildering Blocks by Jay leslie
There's many more but that's just off the top of my head. I'm being defensive about this because I'm giving this product a 10. Here's why...
1. The product's ad description is accurate. No hyperbole. I believe that the idea of using raffle tickets in the show as motivation is a nice hook because we all like to win prizes. So the theme is strong.
2. Methodology is strong. Paul gives credit where due, as the methods are not 100% original with him. The methods are sound and the third version in particular is drastically different from the first two in terms of how it's done.
3. Theatrical - The way the prediction itself is introduced and finally revealed is not only fun but attention-getting for versions one and two. I'm not going to get into specifics, but this is something i WILL use, which is a big deal as it takes a GREAT routine to crack my own starting lineup in any set list I have.
If you're looking for something amazingly original, this may not be for you. So many of us, myself included, fall prey to the allure of the next cool thing. I'm not one of those guys who feels everything old is all you need - I think alot of the old stuff in Tarbell and Corrinda (for example) is great BUT it needs to be drastically updated. Many working pros don't have the time or desire - that's me. I'll buy the method and work out the scripting myself.
If you want three versions of a highly entertaining prediction routine that are theatrical and practical, this book is for you. 10 out of 10.
Questions? Comments? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org