Monthly archives for March, 2011

Hypno-Success With My Doctor & REVIEW: Imagine by G.

Hey, everyone!

I’m in New Jersey getting ready for a couple of school assemblies tomorrow as well as one of my highly profitable night time fundraiser shows! (Shoot me an email if you want the INSIDE SCOOP on profitable night time school fundraisers!)

On another, delighted, note…I had the opportunity to have my chiropractor as a recent client for my budding hypnosis clinic. This wonderful lady had a fear of heights or more specifically, roller coasters and water slides. It was something she felt compelled to conquer because her children really want her to join in the ‘fun’ at amusement parks.

Well, this past Saturday, I spent about 30 minutes with her and ran her through a few simple techniques. A few days later, she excitedly told my wife (also one of her chiropractic clients) that she felt NO fear going on those rides. She mentioned writing me a testimonial letter (which I will definitely need as my website will be going up soon.) and wants to see me again.

This is thrilling news for me, because while I like her a great deal, by her own admission she was skeptical of the whole process. This is just the shot in the arm I needed as I embark on this new venture!

On the magic front, I just received a link to a private video of a new product that is coming out very soon by none other than Puck & Scott Alexander. I’m really excited about this and can’t wait to add it to my family shows. I’m being secretive, but as soon as I can I will spill the beans.:)

The latest issue of “Cause & Effects” (my free Ezine) will go out tomorrow, as I will be writing the issue tonight after I finish this blog entry. Sign ups are free by emailing me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Also, a big THANK YOU to those of you who sent in your favorite routine/tricks for the middle school audiences. You can STILL receive a free digital copy of either Cause & Effects books (both sell for $24.95 each) by emailing me your favorite tricks for ages 11-14, or middle school grades 6-8 or so. (I’m building a second middle school show for repeat audiences).

On to this week’s review…it’s Imagine by G. It’s available for $24.95 at Hocus Pocus. Sorry, no link this week as my Internet service totally SUCKS at this hotel and I can’t do much in terms of “searches.”

THE EFFECT: A blank on both sides white card (it really is blank on both sides) is displayed, folded and signed by a spectator. They then hold onto the folded white card. The spectator is then allowed to choose a card from a deck of cards. They are asked to visualize that card…and when they unfold the card they are holding, the blank card is seen to have changed into the card they were merely thinking of! The card back and front is now the same as the thought-of card….and the signature is still there!

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: A nicely produced DVD which explains the workings completely. You’ll need to provide the white blank cards and a deck of cards along with a Sharpie.

INSTRUCTION: This is well-thought out and the instruction is spot-on. What I like the most about the instruction is that you are given several possible sleight of hand options for accomplishing the work for this effect. I’m not the kind of person to invent new handlings of tricks, but I do like to tinker with things to make it fit me. This routine will make my own work much easier because I’ve found different ways to accomplish this.

Another thing I like about this is the fact that the camera moves – we the viewers are given different views, slo-mo shots and much more to make learning this much easier. This particular DVD is the perfect illustration of the fact that those close-minded twits who insist the ONLY way to TRULY learn magic is by reading books are completely wrong. I have no problem learning by reading, but to insist it’s the ONLY way is dead wrong, as we are each individuals and there is scientific proof that people learn better differently depending on the needs of the individual…but I digress.:)

DIFFICULTY: Surprisingly, this is within my reach, which, when I first heard of the effect, was convinced I would forever envy the skill to pull this off. Happily, I see myself doing this in the near future. I’m not your typical card guy, but when the right effect comes along, I lap it up like a starving dog.

I’d say the difficulty of this is maybe a 3 or 4 out of 10. That being said, there are other variations on the DVD that are much more difficult from a sleight of hand view….maybe a 7 out of 10 (from my perspective).

ANGLES: Also surprising is the angles. Even though you can’t do this surrounded, the angles are quite good and serviceable…which, again, means I can see doing this anywhere – close up or even parlor. It’s not intended, I don’t think, for parlor, but the visibility of the change from a totally blank white card to one that has a red or blue back and the black or red card face, well, I can see this playing for groups of 20 or so.

MARKET: I believe this is going to appeal to teens on up to adults. Kids under the teen age don’t care as much about what happens to cards, but I can see the street guys jumping all over this and I can equally see restaurant and/or corporate guys enjoying this too. The signed aspect of the effect is what makes this so strong.

OVERALL THOUGHTS: As with any effect, there are drawbacks. Imagine is no different and here’s one drawback…the reset on this will take a few seconds and the ‘thought of’ card is limited to 10 or so possibilities out of the deck, so if you’re a restaurant table kind of guy, you’re going to need to carry those particular cards with you. For someone like me who doesn’t do a lot of close-up, no big deal…and if I were to do this in a parlor setting, I’d only need to set up once, so for me, this drawback is not a drawback at all.

As far as the get-ready, it’s only a few seconds, but in a trade show or restaurant setting, even those few seconds of privacy might be a tad tricky depending where you are.

Nevertheless, even these minor drawbacks are not enough to make me drop this effect from my “to learn in 2011″ list. I’ll give it a solid 8 out 10. Solid stuff.

NEXT WEEK: Peter Loughran’s Touch of Glass

Best,

Cris Johnson

Ohhh, My Achey-Breaky Back, New CONTEST, and REVIEW: Redonkulous!

Howdy, everyone!

Sorry this review is late….It’s been a back-breaking week as Wifey and I have been installing new flooring in the salon. Rolling around on my knees, side and butt snapping Pergo flooring into place is rough work, but the progress is paying off as the place is going to look gorgeous!

We’ve ordered the first batch of equipment, and are both really nervous but excited. I’ve been doing as much clinical work as I can, including assisting my chiropractor with her fear of heights.

On another note, I’m having another contest! Here’s the skinny…I’ve been doing a lot of repeat middle schools this year. At least in my experience, middle school kids (grades 6-8 in the U.S.) are often the toughest audiences. It’s taken me several years to fine-tune my middle school show to the point where every routine is rock-solid and audience-pleasing.

Everything’s going so well that, as I mentioned earlier, I’m doing more repeat middle schools than ever before. As with most audiences, no one wants to see the same effects, so I need new effects.

Some of the effects from my current middle school show include: Bowl-A-Rama, Taste, PK Touches, Money Morph ($100 Bill Switch), Bobby Motta’s Alive and the Pro Viper. For my second show, I’ve ordered The Moment, The Appearing Ladder and a few others.

So, my contest is simple. If you have any experience performing stage magic for this age level and can recommend some rock-solid commercially available stuff to me, email me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net. If I like your suggestions, I’ll send you a FREE digital copy of either “Cause & Effects Vol. 1″ or “Cause & Effects Vol. 2″ your choice….they each retail for $24.95.

Just a few conditions…when I perform for middle schoolers, I’m usually in front of 200-400 kids, so most close up stuff is out. Also, because of the politically correct nature of performing in schools, geek magic (anything with sharp objects and/or blood is out.)

Also, the latest issue of the free ezine is coming out soon. Again, email me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

On to this week’s review…it’s Redonkulous! It retails for $60.00 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=16381

EFFECT: Before the show begins a spectator is asked to merely think of any word from either side of a large broadsheet from the local daily newspaper. She has a free choice of literally hundreds or possibly thousands of words. After mentally selecting a word the performer seals the newspaper in an envelope and the spectator takes it with her back to her seat.

During the show the performer asks for the envelope from the spectator tears it open and removes the newspaper. The performer explains that the spectator is concentrating on a word from somewhere on the paper and it will be the audience’s job to find that very word. As impossible as it may seem.

Tearing the newspaper into two pieces the performer asks a random audience member to choose either half to discard. The choice is made and the performer tears the remaining piece in half and asks another audience member to select a half to discard. The selection is made and the performer again tears the remaining piece in half asking an audience member to select either half to toss away, yet again.

Left with a piece about four inches square the performer calls on a final helper from the audience to join him on stage. This spectator is asked to close his eyes and raise a finger and to drop it somewhere on the piece of paper. The spectator does this and is asked to open his eyes and without saying a thing to remember the word that he pointed to.

The spectator is then handed a white board and marking pen, and asked to write the word in big bold letters on the board and keep it concealed from the audience’s view.

While he is doing this the performer engages the original spectator thinking of a word and asks her to stand and for the first time call out her mentally thought of word in a loud voice. She states her word is, for example, “Flytrap!” The performer asks the spectator with the white board to turn the board around and show everyone the word he pointed to…it is also “Flytrap!”

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: An incredibly detailed DVD that explains the routine in minute detail. You also receive a detailed script walk-thru on a folded 11 x 17 sheet for easy reference.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: This is insane in that Anthony Lindan gives an incredible amount of detail, including the background of the effect, history of development, credits, the pre-show work and more.

Let me focus briefly on the pre-show aspect of this DVD. First of all, what I REALLY LOVE about this routine is that you don’t hide the fact that you met briefly with someone before the show. This is openly mentioned in the beginning of the stage routine. To me, this is so much better than using ‘double speak’ to conceal that you met with someone because, let’s face it, in a corporate setting, people can and will talk to each other and reveal that yes, he met with you.

Secondly, this DVD has done something I myself have never seen before…Anthony has secretly recorded the pre-show work! This is NOT a recording for an L&L video, but a live gig that Anthony was being paid to perform.

Seeing this REALLY made me have confidence to actually do this routine. Anthony explains and teaches the routine is detail, but there’s just something comforting and ‘real’ feeling by seeing him do his preparations “in the field,” as he describes it.

The rest of the routine is taught in just as much detail. Little details are revealed and explained, revealing that Lindan has done this routine hundreds of times over the years and was NOT created just as a “lecture piece.” As a real-world worker, I appreciate the value in such things!

This gets an easy 10 out of 10 in terms of instructions.

MARKET: I believe this is best for adults. I do plan on testing it in my high school shows, but my instinct tells me adults is the way to go.

DIFFICULTY: In terms of the live stage show performance there is only one real “move” and it’s not difficult to hide or execute. The rest of the routine really comes down to confidence and spectator management. It’s not difficult, so I’ll give it maybe a 3 out of 10.

MY OVERALL RATING: I can’t help but give this a 10 out of 10. It’s a stellar effect, a drastic improvement over prior methods, that gets incredible reactions, as seen in the two live performances filmed at two of Lindan’s live shows.

I had high hopes for this after Anthony’s Incredible Suit Jacket Escape was my favorite new routine for last year. This new release does not disappoint and just the fact that I intend to work this into my shows shows how impressed I am as I do not like routines with pre-how work.

NEXT WEEK: Imagine by G.

Lease to Hypnotize and REVIEW: Retro-Gravity by Devin Knight

Hey everyone,

I’m going to get right into things this week as I’ve been CRAZY busy with school shows and getting our building opened.

As I alluded to last week, my wife and I were working on getting a building for her salon and my hypnosis clinic…well, I’m delighted to report that we have signed a lease and are moving forward!

This is a truly exciting time for us. Most of this was prompted by the fact that I am simply on the road too much and need to scale back. The money’s great, but life on the road is very lonely. I have no desire to stop performing…far from it, as magic has always been very good to me, but with this new venture, I’ll have the freedom to choose the gigs I want to do…which, coincidentally, is the subject of next month’s “Cause & Effects” ezine.:) Sign up for free by emailing me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Anyway, I’ve started seeing clients for issues such as weight loss and smoking cessation and the biggest difference is realizing, programming myself to realize, that I’m not performing for them but working to help them.

The look in their eyes communicates that they trust me to help them. It’s an exciting journey, watching them progress through the session. I’ll keep you updated.:)

This week’s review is Retro-Gravity by Devin Knight. It’s available for $39.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=15075

EFFECTS: Retro-Gravity allows you to levitate 2 to 4 inches in the air. It is a special gimmick you attach to your shoe and once done is completely invisible. Any time you wear your shoes, you are ready to levitate. Anywhere, anytime under any conditions! This means you can walk around in a restaurant, party or out door festival and levitate over and over at will. No special pants, jackets or special clothing are required.

I mention “effects” with an “s” because there are different variations of the basic effect, but I’ll get to that later.

WHAT YOU RECEIVE: You receive a comb bound manuscript that goes into a great deal of detail with photographs, history, variations and much more.

MY THOUGHTS: I’m cutting to the chase with this review because this will be one of the effects I won’t be performing. It’s nothing against this effect, it’s just that it’s a close up effect and the only time I could see myself using this is when people ask, “Can you float like that guy on TV?” and if I say “yes,” people are not going to be as surprised and they’ll be looking for gimmicks. I just don’t do any close up.

Now, the basic effect itself is similar to a lot of other street/close-up self levitations on the market in terms of how it looks….in other words, you go up a couple of inches with your feet together and you back down.

The advantage here is there are no reels or gimmicks to ditch…there is a gimmick, but it’s hidden in plain sight. Literally, before you levitate, people can burn you all they want and they won’t find anything. That is a real strong point.

Once you ‘get into’ the levitation, it’s like many others in that the best angles are straight on, close up. The levitation, when in play, doesn’t seem to have angles much better than other methods. They’re not bad, just not a break through in terms of angles. I’d say the angles are similar to Peter Loughran’s “Elevator,” which has enjoyed tremendous popularity since its release.

The main issue with many of these self levs is the concern of balance. Having read the manuscript, my feeling, having not tried it out, is that the balance will be similar to the “Elevator,” but one huge advantage of Retro-Gravity is that you can build two gimmicks, one in each shoe, which would aid you tremendously.

Again, the biggest advantage here is the fact that the gimmicks are hidden in plain sight and the ‘get ready’ takes only a second or two and does not involve use of your hands at all.

The disadvantage is you’re only going up a couple of inches, depending on your gimmicks. I think what most magicians are looking for is a self lev with a foot or so rise, which is possible with close up self levs such as that Criss Angel one which has truly horrid angles.

To give Devin his true, his method is about the cleanest I’ve encountered in terms of get ready, reset and other considerations. Also, Devin does a superior job of explaining everything. His writing style is easy to read and informative – his words flow, and the addition of photographs makes me believe even I could build it…and I hate building my own props.:)

Oh, that’s another consideration – you’ll need to do a bit of arts and crafts stuff, but as I said, that part is exceedingly easy. I’ll give the basic method a solid 7 out of 10.

Now, onto a few misc things in the manuscript…

ROTATION: I’m sorry, but I have yet to see any of these self levs successfully pull off the rotation-in-mid-air effect. To me, it looks hokey. I will freely admit there may be people out there who get great reactions, but I think it looks horrible and if I myself don’t like an effect, no way can I ‘sell’ it to my audiences. If it works for you, that’s great. I sincerely applaud you.

THE NEWSPAPER: This the levitation where you float in the air over a sheet of newspaper and someone can pull the newspaper away, “proving” there’s nothing supporting you.

This is a cute idea, but I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but this is ONLY appropriate for photo ops and newspaper interviews, TV spots, etc. It’s a neat effect that utilizes an older-than-dirt-but-still-awesome principle. The limitation of this method is that you need absolute control over lighting, spectator positions, etc, etc, etc.

Again, for the right situation, it’s an absolutely terrific idea, but this is NOT something you can just walk up to someone and do.

There are other self levs described so the value of this booklet is good for anyone who wants to experiment with a few of the more off-beat methods presented.

My only quibble is something I mentioned at the start: the idea of someone asking you to float like the guy on TV. Once you say “yes” and get into the effect, people are going to be ‘burning’ you, so spectator management and more specifically, blocking, is going to be an issue. Again, you CAN levitate upon request, but know that like many self levs, you need to really restrict people’s movements, position, etc.

Recommended for experienced magicians. Once again, the overall score for me is a solid 7 out of 10. It’s a rock-solid value, but is not the “holy grail” we’re all searching for in terms of close up self levs. To be fair, Devin never claims it is, either.

NEXT WEEK: Redonkulus by Anthony Lindan. His “Incredible Suit Jacket Escape” was my personal favorite new effect I bought last year, so I’m really excited to get into this!

Best,

Cris Johnson

Hypno-Clinic Update and REVIEW: Russian Roulette by Larry Becker

Hello, kind reader!

Let’s get some housekkeeping tips out of the way…

I’ve had several signups for my Magic School Summit for this July 15-17. I’m REALLY excited as we’re going to cover some great ground. It will THE most in-depth analysis of one of the MOST stable and profitable markets in magic today! For more info, shoot me an email to crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

My “3 Month Series” on NLP and magic in my “Cause & Effects” free monthly ezine was a resounding success judging by all of the positive feedback I received. Next month’s issue is going to be a bit more philosophical and will stimulate you to really think about your magic. Again, email me at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Finally, over half of the ‘goodies’ I’m selling out of my personal magic stash is gone, but there’s still a lot of cool stuff – mentalism (spoon bending), torn & restored card, a no-longer-available version of a Paul Harris classic and more! Email me for the list.

Now, onto my personal life…Last time I wrote about getting my hypno-clinic off the ground. Well, I did my first client the other day – my best friend of 25 years and a smoker for most of those years! He’s been virtually smoke free for several days! Woo-hoo!

My wife has decided t leave her salon due to differences with coworkers, so we are now in the process of securing a building for lease that we’ll both be using for office/wrk space. It’s an exciting time for us, but a little scary. I just keep reminding myself of the struggles we endured 8 years ago when I first moved in with her and had NO clients and NO visibility in a brand new market. Literally 6 months later, I was a full-time magician, making more doing that then I ever had at my ‘day job’ of 8 years. Sounds like one of my products! (Want the info? Shoot me an email!)

But I only bring that up because those days were much more challenging then what we face now. I never want to give up performing magic, but the road is awfully lonely so I’m looking it reduce it a bit.

Hopefully next week my blog will include news on securing the building! Now onto the review…

This week, I review Russian Roulette by Larry Becker. It’s available for $39.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=5407

THE EFFECT: Three revolvers are shown on a lazy-susan type of stand. After showing that two of the guns are indeed “live” with blank rounds and a third is empty, the magician plays a deady game of russian roulette, literally risking his life to avoid the two “live” guns as the final selection is put to his temple by the volunteer and fired.

WHAT YOU GET: A DVD that’s roughly an hour in length.

First, I’m going to say right off the bat that I’m going to be giving this product one of my infamous and infrequent ‘split reviews,’ so the format of this blog will be a little different. First the effect…

ROUTINE THOUGHTS: The first time I saw this routine was on a VHS tape (yes, old!) of Larry Becker’s, which, if memory serves, was called Stunners Live in which Becker presented some of the routines from his highly acclaimed and massive Stunners book.

I was instantly blown away by the power of the effect. How could an audience NOT be captivated by a routine that ends with the trigger being pulled on a gun that has its barrel pressed against the performer’s head?

I really wanted to learn the secret, but since I could not think of a situation where I would perform such a potentially controversial piece, it fell off my radar. A few years later, Becker put the routine out on its own DVD – this week’s review – and eventually I succumbed. This is probably only the second or third purchase of a magic product that I’ve made over the last 5 years JUST so I could learn the secret.

When I first got the DVD and watched the routine again I was just as captivated this time as I was the first, literally on the edge of my seat…even though I knew that Larry came out of it just fine…I mean, it’s not like there was ANY chance he blew his brains out and then his esate decided to put out his death as a magic DVD! That just shows you the power of the effect.

Therefore, in terms of pure effect, this gets an easy 10 out of 10. It’s easily the most captivating danger-type effect that I’ve ever seen! Now, onto the product itself…

QUALITY OF DVD: The manner in which the routine is taught is just fine. Larry Becker is joined by Lee Earle and a third person whose name escapes me at the moment and the three sit at a table and discuss the psychology of the routine and the inner workings in detail.

They cover the method and stress over and over how you MUST double-check everything and they really drove home how important it is. This I liked, as they taught it very well. Big thumbs up there.

They also taped the crucial pre-show work with the guy who was going to pull the trigger. That’s a big plus as it’s the most crucial part of the secret. There’s also some extras, such as outtakes, which I really didn’t much out of.

One thing that I found frustrating was Larry had several stories he wanted to tell, things that happened over the years involving the routine and there were times the two gentlemen would let him continue and there were times Larry would get cut off so as to get back to whatever topic they were on.

This drove me nuts, as hearing real-life ‘road stories’ of magicians fascinates me, as that’s often where the REAL lessons come from! (If you have a Magellan Levitation, shoot me an email and I’ll share a secret tip I learned ‘from the road’ last week!)

The other thing that REALLY drove me nuts about this DVD was the fact that it would not play at all on one of my DVD players (the upstairs one in our house) and it would play in one in our basement…and both players were purchased the same year, so they couldn’t have been too far off from each other in terms of when they were built.

When it did play, the DVD would ‘skip’ ahead several seconds in a very annoying fashion. I was able to get the full gist of everything, but it was really annoying. I haven’t tried the disk on my computer yet, but for me it’s usually the most reliable way to play a DVD.

Because of all this, I’m only going to rate the DVD itself a 6 out of 10. That skipping nonsense is REALLY annoying, and the DVD not playing at all is annoying too.

Now, onto the method…

METOD OVERVIEW: After learning the secret to this routine, I am appalled that Becker put out a DVD on it. Now, I don’t want to come off as harsh because Lee Earle has always treated me very kindly, especially allowing me to use one of his concepts in one of my product releases.

The reason why I’m appalled is because the method to this routine could possibly kill you.

Let me repeat it.

If you do this routine, you could die.

Now, it’s like any type of dangerous trick…if you follow the method exactly, you will succeed and you will be fine. It’s a method that WILL work. I want to stress that, so no one can accuse me of saying later that the method “won’t work.”

I’m not saying that at all. It will work, but there’s a risk.

I’m going to tap dance around the method, but I’ll just say this: at the point of the routine where the spectator puts the gun barrel to your head, you are literally putting your life in his hands, because if he does not follow your instructions exactly, you could die.

Now, let me clarify…the spectator is NOT in on it. You are NOT using a stooge. EVER. There IS pre-show work, but that is only to train the spectator in terms of gun safety and the parameters of the routine. The person is NOT told the secret and to them, they go into the routine believing that you truly are playing russian roulette.

Now, the reason why I hate this method so much is because the successful completion of the routine depends on them following your instructions exactly. If they deviate from it in one crucial way, that’s when danger can happen.

I may sound like a hypocrite for coming down so harshly on this because I do perform some danger routines, but each and every one is dependent on MY maintaining control and making sure I myself do the things I need to do. With this routine, it’s up to someone else.

Now, to be fair, if you’ve worked with the person before the show, everything should go fine. Again, not a stooge…but I’m a firm believer that people can have “brain farts” anytime at all. It’s how the mind works! Pair that up with the fact that the spectator is in front of everyone, the stress is there…

Becker claims that even though you are firing blanks, the muzzle blast and sound being fired against your head is still enough to kill you if the routine goes wrong.

I know SQUAT about guns and have no idea if that’s true or if Larry is merely making the routine more dramatic, but at this point, with this routine, I’m willing to believe it.

People may wonder why Becker does such a dangerous routine in his show at all? He reveals his motivations on the DVD, which are very personal and while I understand the reasons, I still think it’s a needless waste. Magic is about illusion. Once you’ve introduced real danger, you’re taking away a big part of why magic is mAGIC and you’re crossing into the realm of side show geeks.

My suggestion is if you want to add a “gun” routine to your act, get Velocity by Scott Alexander (if they’re still available). It’s a 100% SAFE routine. Completely and totally safe and audiences love it.

I also want to stress that I like the routine…watching safely on TV! Knowing what I know, I could never feel comfortable watching it live. I also respect both Becker and Earle (especially lee!) as two classy guys whose work I love.

I’m not going to give the method an actual score as I can’t decide on one – on one hand it WILL work if followed exactly, but again, there is a risk by using a volunteer.

I also feel if I give it too high of a score it’s like I’m endorsing it and if some magician blows his brains out, I want NO part in the chain of liability…sorry, it’s just that I’ve met too many magicians who don’t properly prepare before putting a new routine into their acts, and no amount of warnings by Larry Becker is going to change how some of these clods conduct themselves.

Not recommended.

NEXT WEEK: I review Retro Gravity, Devin Knight’s new manuscript on the street self lev.

Best,

Cris Johnson

Hypno-Clinic & REVIEW: The Nomad Pad

Heyyyy Everybody!

OK, so the extra “y”‘s at the end weren’t enough to add variety to my standard greeting! Before I get too far, let me point out that it’s only been a few days since my last review, of Paul Romhany’s Dream Prediction Lite. I’m ahead of schedule this week (I usually post later in the week) but because my traveling this week will be horrendus, I’m writing early so I don’t fall behind!

First, the quick news: The latest issue of “Cause & Effects” will be going out TONIGHT! Today is the first day of the month and the ezine is actually going out the same day! My list of magic goodies for sale is still available. Shoot me an email at crisjohnsoninfo@verizon.net.

Okay, on to the bigger news in my life…my fledgling hypno-clinic is gaining steam! I think I’ve got a place to ply my trade. I’ve also lined up a couple of talks to get bodies in the door and I even have my first session lined up: two people who want to quit smoking and two people who want some weight management.

On a personal level, I find this unbelievably exciting because I myself know the benefits of hypnosis and my life has greatly improved because of a direct result of hypnosis.

If I’m starting to sound like a cult leader, forgive me.:)

On to this week’s review: It’s The Nomad Pad by Nikola Pelletier. It’s available for $98.95 from Hocus Pocus. Here’s the link: http://www.hocus-pocus.com/magicshop/product_detail.cfm?item=13965

EFFECT: Limited by your imagination, this is an impression device built into an everyday-looking spiral bound notepad, approximately 3″ x 5″. Great for drawing duplications, pre-show, etc., this is more of a tool and not a fully formed routine, though a few simple bare-boned routines are explained to familiarize purchasers with the handling.

WHAT YOU GET: You get the Nomad Pad itself, along with a book of refill pages, enabling you to use the pro 240 times before you need to buy refills. You also get a the special marker, an attractive instruction booklet and a link to online tutorials.

QUALITY OF PROPS: I feel the Nomad Pad is first-rate. It’s well built and I can tell a lot of care went into this. The packaging and the instruction booklet are both first-rate in terms of attractiveness. The Nomad Marker looks fine, though there is a slight ‘bump’ along one side that runs vertically along the pen. This serves a purpose as it is used to ‘re-set’ the gimmicked pad. I can’t imagine anyone would notice this, but it is there.

DIFFICULTY: I feel like a broken record for saying this all the time, but this, like so much of mentalism, is REALLY easy to use from a technical sense. Easily a 1 out of 10. The prop is a cinch to use, but like anything in performing, a familiarity of the handling will be necessary in order to allow your acting to come off as natural.

QUALITY OF INSTRUCTION: This gets a solid 8 out of 10 from me. The descriptions are bare-boned but more than adequate. I freely admit that because the written instructions were so well-thought out that I haven’t bothered, yet, to check out the online tutorials. If they are half as well-produced as the ad/demo video selling the prop, I’m sure they’re worth it. Still, the written instructions are more than adequate.

MY THOUGHTS ON THE PROP: First, this thing handles like a dream. It functions exactly as it’s supposed to and it looks natural. The actions in the handling all make sense – to me, no unusual or unnecessary movements. The impression itself is a tad blurry, meaning you may not want to use this for very detailed drawings – simple shapes, large-print numbers or letters in a word, etc.

I certainly don’t have a problem with such restrictions. Compared to most impression devices, this is a god-send. The marker’s size helps eliminate the idea of really tiny drawings and details. The impression itself is a nice bright beacon when you look at it…and it’s reliable!

Years ago, I bought James Biss’ Impressionable Mindboard and threw it away after 6 performances because the impression only revealed around 20% of the drawing. It was horrible. At times, I’ve also used the old-school carbon paper in a myriad of different forms and products and found carbon paper to be very unreliable…plus it’s not normally good for real-time stage work!

I think this is what I like most about this product…it’s versatility! You can use it live in a show and have instant access to the information in a way that makes sense, especially if you take a couple of seconds to prepare the pad for a “live” performance.

That being said, it’s also suitable for pre-show work, too. Of course, with a device like this, a big question is…

“Is it examinable?”

My feeling is it is not, but then again, I feel if a performer has confidence and a relaxed attitude and a command of performance, people will not want to examine anything. In close-up, I do a version of Rising Card in which a spectator’s signed card rises out of a deck that they shuffled…It’s amazing and quite honestly, most of the time when I invite the person to shuffle the deck, they neglect to do so. My acting does not raise their suspicions and cause them to want to examine anything!

Same deal with this prop. It’s nothing but a notepad, just like people see by the dozens when they’re in Office Depot.

About the only thing I would change with this is make the pad bigger, so I could do a drawing dupe on stage. The person draws their drawing and takes the paper. I then draw my drawing. We hold up our drawings side by side and they closely match.

The size of the pad prevents this from being used on stage in such a clean manner, but it’s a minor gripe.

I give this a rock-solid 8 out of 10. The impression, though incredibly reliable, is a tad blurry and I wish the prop was bigger, but overall, I REALLY love this.

THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM: Oh, did you really think I was going to review the Nomad Pad and NOT address the controversial ad video?

I’ll give my ‘nutshell’ view and then expand on it.

In a nutshell…I don’t give a crap about the video and neither should you.

To expand…it seems everyone in magic-dom has been screaming bloody murder about what a “stupid” (their words, not mine) idea it was to put that video out, “exposing” the product for everyone to see.

Are you friggin’ kidding me??

First of all, the device is built into an innocent 3″ x 5″ notepad. It’s meant to be invisible. Millions of notepads (normal ones) are in use every day. To hear people screaming about this – to me – means that from now til the end of time, anytime a mentalist takes out a notepad (of any kind) they are apparently in danger of someone, a lay person, having stumbled upon the Nomad Pad video online, and then, during the show, deducing that the little pad the mentalist is using is not in fact one of millions of pads on peoples’ desks all over the world BUT in fact it MUST be one of the insidious Secret Magic Pads EXPOSED online.

What crap.

And the funny thing is, most of those people are not bemoaning the fact that magic dealers and companies sell thumb tips (one of the greatest inventions in all of magic history) in toy stores!

QUICK story…I was doing a middle school show. Teens. After the show, a teen comes up, raves about my show, and tells me he does magic and in fact, uses a thumb tip, but he’s afraid of getting ‘caught.’ I told him to practice thoroughly and not to worry about it…and I used a thumb tip twice in my show.

When I told him that, it floored him because he couldn’t believe I used thumbtips.

Enough on that track….here’s track number two…magicians scream bloody murder over ‘deceptive’ ad copy and ‘vague’ videos…and now someone gives us the inside scoop so we can make an informed decision and what happens?

The same magicians call for the guy’s head.

Unbelievable.

Save me your hate-emails. If you don’t want to use the Nomad Pad because of that video, so be it. I used it the other day for a paid gig and everyone was floored by the effect.

Is there a chance someone could stumble across it and then say to me they saw something online that gave him the inside scoop on one of my tricks?

It’s possible but I’m sure as hell not going to lose sleep over it.

NEXT WEEK: I take on Russian Roulette by Larry Becker.

Until next time,

Best,

Cris