Saturday, November 19, 2011

A Bittersweet Standing Ovation and REVIEW: The Impossible Box

Hi all,

Whew, a rough week of performing...three days in Canada, one in Gettysburg, PA (one of the most picturesque towns I've ever visited) and parts near home in addition to my slowly growing clinical hypnosis client base.

A standing ovation is something I normally cherish, but last night's was bittersweet. I called up the WRONG volunteer during a corporate event but did not realize it til I was well into my handcuff escape....I was doing Anthony Lindan's routine with the red curtain and one of the volunteers kept lowering the curtain, saying inappropriate things and just being an ASS. I somehow got through it without blowing my stack.

The rest of the show went fantastic and at the end of the show, I received a standing ovation. The FIRST person in line (there were many) to shake my hand was the ASS I mentioned. "You were f---ing fantastic!" was his comment. I wanted to punch the guy, but simply accepted the compliment.

The show was my Murder By Magic show, available here at Hocus Pocus. Just to remind everyone, the product will be pulled after December 31st. The way the show is designed, it has a built-in emotional hook that will get the audience on your side and keep them there!

A quick shout-out to my buddy Paul Romhany as he's relocating the family back home. Safe travels, my friend.

Keep your eyes out for new Cris Johnson products after the first of the year! I've got several projects in the works. The first will be the long-awaited "Cause & Effects: Volume 3" a third book of real-world routines...coming soon!!

This week's review is The Impossible Box by Ray Roch. It's available for $25.00 from Hocus Pocus. Here's the link:

AD COPY: The PERFECT walk-about and close-up effect.

Never throw away your old playing cards again. Use them for this amazing routine by Ray Roch.

Effect: The performer brings out six cards and quickly makes a box. The box can then animate in the spectators hand or on a table, the lid then taken off and an object, such as a lemon produced.

This 60 minute DVD goes in to detail with step by step instructions of how to do different loads including large die, a lemon, signed card to box, a small bottle of whiskey, and golf balls. He also shares two methods he uses to make the box animate and float, then produce a ball from the box that floats up in to his hand. This DVD is filled with gems from years of performing and perfecting Ray's signature routine.

The perfect routine for the magician who wants to leave his audience with a gift. Not only can they keep the contents but they also get to keep the box itself.

Ideal for trade shows, walk about, restaurant magicians and promotions.

Now you don't have to throw away your old playing cards - use them to perform The IMPOSSIBLE Box.

You will learn:
How to construct a box and how to put one together quickly
Various loading techniques that happen right under the spectator's nose
Signed Card to Box - a card is signed lost in the deck and later found sealed inside the card box.
Various loads from the box - learn how to produce as many as three different items from the box including golf balls, dice, a lemon, a bottle and more.
Two different methods on floating the box - Ray shares two methods, both of which are easy and can be set up at all times ready to go.
Tips and stories - Secrets that make this effect easy to perform and a few stories from Ray that have happened while performing this over the year.
Ray also shares his complete award winning five minute box routine. This includes all four routines taught on the DVD and put together to form a single five minute close-up show. One box with A LOT of magic. This is perfect for

those who perform in restaurants or are looking for something special and very different to present.

WHAT YOU GET: A very well produced DVD. This is released by Paul Romhany and like everything he puts out, it's TOP notch.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: I found Ray's verbal instruction to be a tad too quickly paced for me. He kinda breezes through some of the explanations. I was a little concerned about this, but Paul provides viewers with slo-mo clips from the magician's viewpoint of various things, particularly the construction of the box and some of the loading procedures. Happily, this makes the learning experience very easy.

DIFFICULTY: Since the crux of the effect is putting together the box in front of your spectators and then doing cool things with the box, you'll need to practice putting it together quickly and smoothly. It's not a difficult procedure, but fumbling and struggling with the box construction certainly won't be fun for the audience to watch so put in the practice to get it into your muscle memory.

The loads and animation are all relatively easy, too. On a scale from one to ten I don't think anything would be harder than a 3.

ANGLES: Some of the loads are easier than others and since this is intended for a walk around performance, all of the angles are something you should be able to work with. The animation/floating part of the routine can be done surrounded, providing your lighting is right, if you get my meaning.:)

VARIETY: Ray teaches viewers how to do several different handlings in terms of producing items from the box and in particular several different themes. In particular he has a routine themed with golf, a routine themed with gambling with different sized dice, etc.

There's also a handling involving making the box animate, floating, and then causing a ball to levitate out of the box. All of the handlings involve building the box in front of the audience and eventually producing things from the box.

It should also be noted that in each handling, you are clean at the end and can really give the box away at the end of the routine...though if you're doing a strolling gig where you visit 20 tables or groups of people in one night (as many restaurant/corporate magicians do) you obviously would be hard pressed to give the box away at every table.

THOUGHTS: There's a LOT I LOVE about this release and only a couple of things I did not care for. First, the positives.

There are a couple of productions that are truly magical - that slo-mo shot in the promo video of the lemon coming out of the box is soooo cool looking and with mutiple handling options, within reach of anyone. There's simply something satisfying about putting the box together and then pulling something out of it.

The box itself, being made of bright white cards with splashes of black and red, is very attractive to the eye. Additionally, I'm certain this would play just wonderfully in a parlor situation. I myself plan on using it in school shows. I wear dark colors, so the white box against the background of my dark clothes will look great. Plus, the animation of the box will look great and very visible, too.

I also love the animation of the box itself, as it looks very magical turning up on it's edges. The idea of the ball floating out of the box is also wonderful.

Ray also provides a signed card to box effect which is nice, too. His handling is attainable and the effect looks great too, but as the signed card to impossible location plot doesn't particularly excite me with any handling, I wasn't too taken for this, but if you like card work, this is another great idea.

Finally, the entire idea of the impossible box is open to so many different presentational possibilities that it's staggering. For instance, just to shoot an idea out there - instead of playing cards, I may use alphabet cards and build the box as I talk to school children about the possibilities opened up by reading skills and producing something thematically relevant out of the box.

The BIGGEST thing I love about this entire release is that it's PRACTICAL. This isn't a pipe dream with severe angle problems like some of the torn & restored card releases I've seen over the years. The Impossible Box is intended for the real world.

Now, just a couple of things I did not care for...

1. I did not care for some of the productions. Like I said, MANY of the handlings look wonderful and the spectators can see the production come out of the box. With some of the other productions, I thought, "Hey, it looks like the item is coming from _____." Turns out I was right.

I don;t consider this a huge problem, though, as the psychology of magic and spectator attention is wayyy different to playing for the camera. Nevertheless, I like the earlier referenced productions better.

2. I did not care for the actual floating of the box. The animation/movement of the box looks great and I'll use it, but as far as actually making the box float, I will quote Eugene Burger - "Less is more."

FINAL RATING: I'm going to give this a 9 out of 10. I did not care for a couple of things, but this release is so incredibly open-ended with possibilities and so practical that this release is going on my "best of" list at the end of the year.

This is advertised as a close-up product (and it rocks) but if you work parlor gigs, I really think this will shine for you, too.



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