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Review of THE STEALTH ASSASSIN V1.1 by Peter Nardi

14 Apr

stealthassassinv1-fullReviewed by John Teo

THE STEALTH ASSASSIN V1.1 by Peter Nardi

The Stealth Assassin V1.1 is a special wallet that provides many applications for mental magic.

It was originated by Peter Nardi based on his Mind Spy and Stealth wallets – both of which are originally peek wallets.  Peter then incorporated Mark Strivings’ Sight Unseen peek capability.  The Stealth Assassin V1.1 is therefore a 2-way peek wallet plus more.  It also provides the following capabilities: billet index, crib holder, hold-out, and an out-to-lunch gimmick.  As mentioned by Peter Nardi and Marc Spelmann in the instructional set of 2 DVDs that come with this professionally manufactured leather wallet, you can perform a full 15 to 20 minutes mental routine using this device. 

As with any peek device, the most important thing is the timing, the misdirection (that should be built into the routine) and the rationale why you need to go back to the device, so that your peeking is invisible to the audience.  This strategy is discussed at length in the 10 routines that are included in the 2 DVDs.

Here are the 10 effects grouped under the various capabilities provided by the wallet:

  • Billet index – Short List
  • Crib – Quizmaster
  • Sight unseen – Card at any Number, Cash Cabaret
  • Stealth peek – Hollywood or Bust, First Love, One Ahead, Drawing Dupe, Drink on Me.
  • Out-To-Lunch – Add a Number

The Stealth Assassin V1.1 is truly a killer (pun intended), and a wonderful investment for mentalist.  (5/5 star rating.)

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Review of INTIMATE MYSTERIES by Chris Philpott

14 Apr

intimate mysteriesReviewed by John Teo

INTIMATE MYSTERIES by Chris Philpott

We know that a performance will have more impact if the magic happens in the spectator’s hands.  For example, a magician can do a marvelous colour change with the face card of a deck held in his hands.  This effect will generate more “wow” if the card change takes place in a spectator’s own hand.  The methods employed can be different: a common double-lift versus a sophisticated card change – yet the former gets more reaction from the spectator.  What author Chris Philpott is now saying, in this wonderful book, is that if a reason, which should be linked to the spectator personally, can also be given as to why the card changes, this will create an even greater impact to the spectator.  For example, the spectator chooses the 10 of hearts, the performer finds the 4 of spades, but causes it to change to 10 of hearts in the spectator’s hand.  It turns out that for the past 15 years, the spectator had been running her business out of a shop front with the address No 4.  She was recently able to move to a much better location with the address No 10.  The magic appears to involve her personal life, and this makes it a powerful “intimate mystery”!    

The book is divided into 3 sections.  The first section is called Double Kokos.  This is like a psychological test of a spectator’s personality.  The spectator is taken on a visual journey in which different scenarios are presented to her.  Her choice of subsequent events not only reveals her personality, but also indicates what card she has chosen.  In “The Open Door” effect, the spectator walks past a huge house where she notices that the front door is ajar.  4 different scenarios are given as to why the door is ajar.  Her choice reveals the way she thinks, and therefore part of her personality.  She also decides how many steps she takes towards this door before someone inside the house notices her.  Again, her choice indicates another part of her personality.  As an unusual climax, all her decisions reveal clearly the identity of a card she chose right at the beginning.  Other routines are discussed, such as a ride in a roller coaster, finding a jewel in a mountain, and including surviving in a city inhabited by zombies!

The second section is called “Confessional Confabulations”.  This is akin to the mental epic effect where the spectator is asked to make several choices and the performer gets them all correct.  Usually they comprise 3 questions and they can be all related to a main theme, such as your dream vacation or a dream car, or the choices may not be related at all.  Chris simply ties in the spectator’s personality to the choices she made, and elevates this classic mentalism effect several notches higher where it touches the spectator’s emotions.

The last section is a clever presentation of equivoque which tends to cover up the rather obvious interpretation of the spectator’s choices in the force.  It is called “Visualisation Tango” where the spectator “tangos” through a series of dual choices.  There is a script for forcing a playing card onto a spectator and reading her personality at the same time.  Finally, Chris gives an ultimate application of this technique – F.A.A.A. – or how to “Force Anything, Anywhere, Anytime!”  In one routine, the performer causes a spectator to read the mind of another spectator!

If you want to know the importance of a magical presentation, or the power of a carefully scripted patter, and the effectiveness of a properly performed mental effect, read this wonderful book.  If you never had, but wanted, someone to proclaim you as a dangerous magician, you ought to try any one of the 21 effects explored in this powerful book of mentalism.  (5l5 stars rating.)

Review of 100TH MONKEY by Chris Philpott

14 Apr

100 monkey

Reviewed by John Teo

100TH MONKEY by Chris Philpott

For those of you who are wondering what monkeys have to do with magic and especially mentalism, the name “The 100th Monkey” is taken from a research purportedly done on monkeys on the Japanese island of Koshima.  The study claimed that if enough number of monkeys are taught to carry out a new activity, this new behavior can be mysteriously observed to be spread over to other groups of monkeys.  It was called the 100th monkey effect.   

In “The Monkey” effect, the performer shows a word, say, Canada, on a poster board to the entire audience.  This word is kept hidden to a spectator who is invited up onto the stage.  The entire audience now concentrates on this word, and tries to send it to the spectator on the stage.  This spectator is asked to think of a country.  When the same poster board is shown to her, she agrees she is thinking of the very word on the card!  Chris Philpott discusses other variations of this, such as the “Subtle Monkey”.

The possible methodologies for this effect seem to be by stooge, pre-show, and some switching of cards.  Yet, none of these is necessary.  Chris Philpott has hit on a new principle and he applies it to magic – in this case, to mentalism. 

In “The Sixth Sense”, a clever adaptation of the “The Monkey” effect, 3 spectators are asked to think of a time, a place and an emotion.  Not only does the performer correctly tell which spectator is thinking of which item, he can also provide the specific details of the individual’s thought!

Perhaps, the most popular effect is “Speechless”.  A spectator temporarily loses her ability to pronounce a word, although the rest of the audience can easily do so!  In fact, several words are shown to the spectator and she has difficulty in pronouncing all of them.  This becomes amusing to the audience who finds that all of the words are common place words that people use everyday!

The discovery of this new principle is so important to the future of mentalism that it overshadows the slight disadvantage of ensuring that correct lighting as well as the proper vision of the spectator are necessary in order for the principle to work successfully.  Chris has also come out with several designs of the cards that cater for different environmental lighting.

A lot of work had been done by Chris Philpott to find ingenious applications for this principle, and especially in designing the many cards.   

You receive 2 DVDs and a dozen samples of the word cards so that you can use right away.  One DVD contains write-up of the 100th Monkey as well as a library of the design of the word cards.  The other DVD shows Chris giving a verbal rundown of his written manuscript.  This DVD should include more live performances of the various effects.

All these downsides are quite insignificant when compared to the new tool he has given mentalists.  Creative magicians will surely come out with other applications for the 100th monkey.  Chris himself says in both the DVDs that new routines and effects will be available soon from him.  (5/5 stars rating.) 

Review of MENTAL SHARPIE by Steve Bender

14 Apr

mentalsharpie-fullReviewed by  John Teo

MENTAL SHARPIE by Steve Bender 

This is a beautifully crafted wooden stand that holds 4 different colour Sharpie pens.  The prop allows you to know the order of 3 colour Sharpie secretly taken out by 3 different spectators.

You are supplied with the well-made wooden Sharpie stand, 4 gimmicked black, red, blue and green Sharpies and a printed sheet of instructions.  Each of the pens can be freely handled by the spectator without finding out the gimmick.

The construction of the stand provides 2 difficulties.

You can tell the order the colour pens up to the 3rd pen.  This may not be a serious problem because the printed instructions give an idea what to do with the 4th or left-over pen.  The performer simply uses the 4th pen to sign his name on the piece of paper written upon by each of the 3 spectators.  However, there is a method, not in the instructions, in which you can use the stand to tell the order of all the 4 pens being taken out.  If you purchase this product, Jeremy Pei or myself will be able to adivise you on this matter.

If the lighting is not so good or you do not have good eyesight, it may not be easy to quickly see the order of the pens taken out.  After the pens are taken out of the stand, casually move the empty stand out of the performing area.  This gives you ample time to study the order of the pens being taken out.

Despite these 2 slight flaws, this is a mechanical method of determining the order of 4 Sharpies.  The electronic method not only makes this expensive, there is also a greater possibility of it malfunctioning in a performance.  Properly thought-out routines using the knowledge of the order of 4 (or 3, in this case) colour Sharpies can be quite powerful.  (4/5 stars rating.)

Review of Insider (Gimmicks and DVD) by Jay Sankey – DVD

7 Jan

Reviewed by Bernard Sim

I think everyone is just like me, always wondering where Jay Sankey gets his ideas from. We have gotten great items in the past before and also not too good items. Insider would probably be in between.

The envelopes included are not standard size envelopes which are customized to fit the Insider routines. I have always been a fan of impossible location effects.  Insider is visual and also seems impossible and unexplainable due to the use of a sealed envelope. At the end of the routines, the envelopes can be given away, that is should you choose to, otherwise, you can reuse the envelope until the envelopes wears out. You can always buy refills should you choose to tear or give away the envelopes. There are plenty of ideas and routines included in the DVD, there’ll bound to be one that suits you.

Rating 3/5

 

Review of Stain-Shiv by Andrew Mayne

4 Jan

Reviewed by Bernard Sim

If you have seen Andrew Mayne’s work before, you’d know that his DVD contains DIY magic. Same goes for this 2 tricks DVD.

For Stain, you get to reveal a spectator’s thought of word/picture in a scary way (more like a messy way for me). To perform this effect, you’d need to prepare the solution, a gimmicked piece of paper (with/without prints) to reveal the word/ picture. Depending on which routine you do, you may also need to construct a gimmicked envelope as well.  You need to put the solution into a zip-lock bag, this solution is reusable. I think this effect is neither good nor bad, but it is definitely too messy for my taste. I wouldn’t go so far as to prepare all these stuffs just to reveal a thought  as there are many other interesting ways to reveal a thought.

As for Shiv, it’s a Russian roulette theme game using a pencil hidden in an envelope to stab one’s abdomen. Every time you perform Shiv, you’ll use up 5 envelops. So if you intend to perform this regularly, you may want to consider the cost. This version is totally safe and you would never go wrong as you get to control the location of the pencil at all time. I am never a fan of such effects. It is not magical, plus, your spectator may even think that this is just based on guts and luck.

Rating2/5

Review of Sanitized (With Gimmicks) by Kelvin Ngcredible and SM Productionz

7 Dec

Reviewed by Bernard Sim

Sanitized is a pretty straight forward effect. A selected card is revealed with the aid of a sanitizer. The DVD comes with a set of labels to be pasted on the bottle of a hand sanitizer. It is a novel way of revealing a card but do people really carry hand sanitizers these days? I think most people have already forgotten about the days of the SARS period, I used to carry a sanitizer but not anymore.

Though the label reveals the selected card, it is actually more than that. Apart from revealing the card, the labels can also be used to reveal the color of the card as well as a “Free Will” type of effect. When I first look at the DVD cover, I was not really impressed. After looking at the labels that came with it, I actually think that this effect may have some potential. The hand sanitizer is a very common and innocent item and most people would probably not notice about the special labels. This will make performance easier as the spectator will not be suspicious of the bottle. If you have the habit of carrying hand sanitizers, this item is a must for you.

Rating 3.5/5.