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Topic: True Astonishments Disks 1 & 2: Full Review
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 11, 2009 10:40AM)
I received my nine-disk True Astonishments set on Monday to much rejoicing. I have looked forward to this for some time and was like a kid on Christmas morning as I tore into the packaging and removed the box. My first impression was that this was some beautiful packaging. After an appropriate period of appreciation, I opened the box and popped in the first DVD. I was once again impressed, this time by the outstanding production values. From there, it was on to the effects.

For each effect, there is a performance and explanation segment as well as a short (one to five minutes generally) segment from Paul Harris, entitled “Phootnotes,” with his thoughts. Some of these are more helpful and insightful than others. Paul does not do any of the performances or explanations. They are handled by guest contributors, the most pervasive of which is the Director, Bro Gilbert, a likable if low key guy who handles most of the on-camera heavy lifting. Paul, in his well known heavy coat and stocking cap ensemble, looks the part of a wise drifter wandering through the stunning landscape of British Columbia, imparting occasional nuggets of wisdom and humor, equally interspersed.

At the time I am writing this review, I have watched only the first two of the nine disk set. I will discuss only effects listed on each disk’s packaging. There are four to five “Easter Eggs” on each disk, which consist of a mix of other effects (some older Paul Harris effects, some newer effects by guest contributors) and interviews. Because I don’t want to ruin anyone’s surprise, I won’t be addressing these.

DISK ONE

TWILIGHT ANGELS: This is the exact same effect found in the original Art of Astonishment series. Nothing new has been added. The effect is that as the spectator looks at the back of a card, the performer, P, places a reflective object such as a mirror on the middle of the card so that if the mirror were a window, it would appear that the entire card could be seen. When the mirror is lifted, the angel on the other side has disappeared, the inference being that it was absorbed into the “mirror dimension.” The mirror is then moved to make it appear that the remaining angel is duplicated and the duplicate is moved to another position on the card. When the mirror is lifted, the duplicate angel appears right where it was on the mirror, to the side of the remaining angel. The resulting card back appears very strange, with two of the angels side by side and the other angel simply gone.

Word is that Paul Harris really likes this effect and believes it may have been unjustly overlooked by many in the magic community the first go-round. So he has resurrected it here with the suggestion of possibly using a cell-phone or PDA as a reflector rather than carrying along a mirror to make the presentation more organic. This is not a magician fooler, as the slight(s) are simple and would telegraph the ending, but it does create an interesting retention of vision that may make for a powerful visual punch and it does use the angels, which could provide some of the more creative among us with strong presentational possibilities. It also, however, uses specially gaffed cards which will, if the cards are signed, which is suggested, cause you to restock regularly. For this reason alone, I don’t expect to perform this much.

BACKLASH 2: In this effect, the spectator signs the back of a card, and then signs the face. The performer openly places the card into his pocket. The deck may be immediately spread and the signed back of the spectator’s card appears back in the deck(!) The performer closes the deck, makes a magical gesture, re-spreads, and shows that the spectator’s card is no longer in the deck. The performer reaches into his pocket and removes the spectator’s card, showing the face that the spectator has signed. The performer waves the card in front of the spectator and shows that the signature on the back of the card has morphed into the performer’s signature.

I didn’t really like this one. There are numerous discrepancies throughout and it seemed extremely obvious to me what was going on. Also, at each of the points that I as a spectator would have wanted to see a convincer, none was offered (or possible). While it is possible that you could obtain a fairly visual name transformation at the end, this would only be possible if there is substantial similarity between the performer’s signature and the spectator’s, which would be pretty hit and miss.

Paul addresses these concerns somewhat in the Phootnotes by stating that neither he nor Bro had ever been called out on the discrepancies since beginning to perform this. It was interesting that Paul immediately recognized the more glaring problems with the effect and went on the defensive to assure us they weren’t a problem in the real world. I am always a bit suspect of performers who say anything to the effect of “I know that seemed obvious to you, but in the real world, no one notices it.” I would like the effects I perform to be deceptive enough to fool someone as perceptive as I am. I think this effect depends heavily upon having non-skeptical and non-observant spectators. I’m sure it would fly easily among spectators who are drinking or not paying close attention, but I certainly wouldn’t want to perform this for a group of alpha males who are burning my every move. And since I like my effects to give me a range of performance options, I likely won’t be performing this either. Also, you are left with a dirty deck at the end.

NEW LEAF: This damaged to restored leaf effect is fairly clever, but extremely limited in terms of performance venue. It is best performed while walking a trail in the forest, where the opportunity arises to stop for a second, find suitable leaves, set-up the effect (probably a few minutes) and then go into it while continuing the walk. The positions of the leaves appear a bit contrived, as do the procedures involved, but in the right circumstance, I’m sure it would play well. I just can’t think of a situation I’ve been in within the last ten years that would have been appropriate for performing this effect. So I doubt I’ll be performing this one either. It would be good to know, however, if your second job is as a trail guide.

CHENG’S CHANGE: This is a very visual change of a poor five card poker hand to a royal flush. For those unfamiliar with Zapped!, the gimmicked effect that this simulates, it is fast and flashy, much like a color change except with five cards instead of one. This one is knacky and would require a good bit of practice. Also, it is presented as more of a quick stunt than as part of any routine. This would be great for those into “Street Magic” guerilla style performances, but it’s not clear where you would go from there. You will be left dirty at the end, moreover, so it might not be right for all performance situations.

THE BIG TINY: Anyone familiar with Paul Gertner’s “Unshuffled” will immediately recognize the principle at play here. Essentially, a spectator writes his or her name along the edges of a deck of cards and then, after an apparent mix up of the cards into several piles, and the free selection of one of those piles, it appears that they have through their choices, arranged the cards in their piles so that their name is visible once again along the edges of the cards. This is another example of the popular “order from chaos” plot that is the basis for effects such as “Out of this World,” but presented in a novel way and making use of someone’s name, which is a nice personal touch. The mechanics of this one aren’t difficult, as it makes use of a little understood principle more than moves or slights, though a good false shuffle would come in very handy. It does render the deck unusable for further effects (though not for casual use such as card games) but I liked this effect best of all those on Disk One.

DISK TWO

LVL$: This is a new presentation of Las Vegas Leaper that incorporates an entirely new ending in which a bill appears in the spectator’s back pocket. I must admit my bias on the front end: I love Las Vegas Leaper. It is truly one of my favorite Paul Harris effects, and I never saw anything that I felt needed to be fixed. So I immediately looked on LVL$ with a critical eye. Basically, this adds a phase at the end in which five dollar bills are counted and then, after an appropriate magic gesture, are demonstrated to be only four dollar bills, the last one found in the spectator’s back pocket. This is a nice ending to the effect, by which the performer demonstrates that he can perform the traveling card effect with more than just cards. Money creates a more emotional attachment, and the ability to send money to someone’s back pocket is an effect that your spectators can relate to.

But there are compromises. The first is one of the primary advantages I’ve always found with LVL classic – that it is truly impromptu. This version is not. Furthermore, this version eliminates the vanishing sequences of the cards to make the vanish of the bill seem equivalent. I have always found those vanish sequences to provide many additional layers of magic to the effect, which I believe added substantially to the effect. More importantly, the spectator management and procedures required are more extensive and contrived in the new version than in the original. Some of the procedures required to make the effect work are simply not very well motivated. Substantial spectator management is also necessary to insure a successful outcome. Finally, the bill count at the end is not nearly as deceptive as the spectator count which is the heart of LVL classic, which I think takes away from the entire effect under the weakest link in the chain theory.

Ultimately, I can’t say that LVL$ is any better than LVL classic, but only that it is different. It is more well suited to a formal stand-up presentation. I think I will generally be sticking with LVL classic.

TUBULAR: The performer and the spectator each remove a bill from their wallets. The performer signs the spectator’s bill and vice-versa. Each rolls their bill into a tight tube. The performer takes the spectator’s rolled bill, places it next to his, and hands both to the spectator. When the spectator unrolls the “bills,” he finds only one bill, singed by both the performer and himself. They have fused together!

While this is a fairly simple and non-assuming effect, I really liked it. Everything is well motivated and the necessary misdirection is built right in. Also, it is very near impromptu. This isn’t a closer, but it’s great to know when you need a solid “quickie.”

CHENG’S RISER: Cheng is back with a visually stunning method of showing a card rising up through the deck from near the bottom to the top. Cheng first explains an “easy” method in which the rising card remains face down. But most will be far more interested in the version in which the rising card is face up. Like “Cheng’s Change” from volume one, this is more of a “Street Magic” effect in which an impossible visual feat is performed without reference to any larger routine, but if that’s something you’re interested in, and you’re willing to put in the work required to make this look good (more than Cheng’s Change), you will be rewarded with something that looks very impressive.

SS2: This acronym stands for “Seductive Switch 2.” The effect is presented as a demonstration of mucking at the poker table, in which a desirable card is switched for an undesirable one, only in this demonstration, the switch is to occur in the spectator’s hands. The performer displays three cards, a Jack, an Ace, and a six. The performer apparently takes the Ace and folds it up with the back out, demonstrating how a card must be prepared for palming. He then displays the folded card against the faces of the two remaining cards, showing a Jack and a Six. The performer turns the two cards face down and places them under the spectator’s hand. He then places the folded card into palm and touches his hand to the spectator’s hand, demonstrating the “switching technique.” When the spectator lifts his hand and looks at his cards, he sees that he now holds a Jack and an Ace. The performer unfolds his card, showing it to now be a six.

This is a great effect with an interesting presentation. The set up for the key display is a bit contrived, but it is very deceptive and unlikely to attract much notice. Unfortunately, you will destroy a six with each performance, but that is a small price to pay for a fabulous trick. This was my favorite item on Disk Two.

GROWING CARD: The performer places a face up Ace between two Jokers, slightly up and left jogged so its pip can be seen clearly. As the performer rubs on the three cards, the Ace appears to grow, extending from the lower right side of the card sandwich to the same extent at the upper left side. After the spectator is allowed a few moments to appreciate this oddity, the performer continues rubbing, as the Ace appears to shrink back to its original size. The performer then flips the cards over and displays them.

This is a cool visual effect, but without any real context or routine other than a quick stunt. Also, it uses a specially gaffed card so the cards cannot be examined after the effect. It is more in the nature of a quick one-note packet trick, making it another good candidate for the Street Magic guerilla magician.

Overall, I would have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the first two disks of the True Astonishments series. Yes, there is some good solid magic here, but for my sixty dollars (the pro-rated price for these two disks), there are other DVDs with far more bang for the buck. So far, this has simply not been the revolutionary collection that I was expecting. But I have only just begun, and there are seven more disks to go. So off I go to watch more magic.
Message: Posted by: daghank (Feb 11, 2009 11:27AM)
Im wondering how many more dissapointed people we'll see,youre the first,I didn't get the set,yet. I guess I'm one of those who really expect ALOT from PH and TA so even by seeing one bad review(altough its just about 2 dvds) I get concerned about whether to but it or not.
Message: Posted by: Daren (Feb 11, 2009 11:33AM)
I think this guy is seeing the effects through the magicians eye, perform them all you will be granted with astonishment, try it and see
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Feb 11, 2009 11:47AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 12:33, Daren wrote:
I think this guy is seeing the effects through the magicians eye, perform them all you will be granted with astonishment, try it and see
[/quote]

I tend to agree. With that being said, there are only a few specific problems I have with his review. One example happens to be the New Leaf effect. I can't stress how much I disagree with the "I just can’t think of a situation I’ve been in within the last ten years that would have been appropriate for performing this effect". In essence, I can't remember a day in the last 10 years where I couldn't have performed this had I not been inclined. First off, you don't need trees, you don't need to be walking. You know what, that's his opinion and he's entitled to it. I don't particularly find New Leaf as amazing as some of the other stuff but my opinion is in exact opposite to his. Not that everything is perfect or anything like that.

I have some thoughts on LVL$ that I want to discuss with everybody on the TA forum (well, everybody who ordered from the Astonishment Project at least). I guess I will try to put a general review together myself. I am stating now that I won't bother going into descriptions of the effects since they are all over the place, merely reviewing the effects.
Message: Posted by: korttihai_82 (Feb 11, 2009 12:36PM)
Thanks for the honest review. However I might add that you will get tons of ellusionist, Theory 11 and Paul Harris fanboys after you now :) They simply cant take off their "fanglasses" and watch something put out by their "masters" with any sort or critisism.

I just saw few of the later disc with a friend and I wasnt too impressed either so I believe that you were just honest with your review.

Juha-Matti
Message: Posted by: daghank (Feb 11, 2009 12:47PM)
I guess my biggest criteria is the question about how linked the effects are,I am hoping not to get like 10 openers and tricks that you can do and have to run away when it ends with youre gimmicks in youre hands.
Even for the twilight angels trick from first dvd,its being said that there are four gimmicks involved so it makes me think that to perform a few tricks from the TA set,I might have to wear a jacket with its whole pockets full with gimmicks and extra cards. I hope I'm wrong.
Message: Posted by: Mercury52 (Feb 11, 2009 01:03PM)
Most of TA is gimmick-free. You don't need 4 gimmicks for Twilight Angels, you just need one (a single playing card in your deck). You are supplied with 4 gimmicks if you happen to lose/destroy/give one away. Hope this helps. You can definitely be ready to do many TA effects without pockets full of gimmicks.

Kevin
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Feb 11, 2009 01:18PM)
Lem's Review:

In order for this post to be any help at all, you need to understand my reviewing policy. I’ve discussed my reviewing policy before, but here are the highlights:

Only effects that have been performed for people will be reviewed. I can’t stand reviews based on what magicians “think”. It’s less than worthless, it’s misleading. Maybe (and that is a big MAYBE) somebody knows whether an effect will play well for them, but they can’t make that judgment for anybody else, esp. without any actual performances under their belt. Since I have not performed every effect, I cannot review every effect.

Next, my rating scale is not on a curve and it is hard. People who give average grades out of 9 and 10 (of 10) don’t understand what they are doing and while I am not going to explain it here, it reduces the value of their comments, in my opinion (and in basic math’s opinion as well). As such, an average magic effect gets a 5/10 from me, if it is real, honest to goodness magic, it gets 10/10. If it looks just like “real” magic and is a great effect, it gets a 9.

Finally, everything I say is merely my opinion. I have absolutely no problem if people disagree. Really. However, this is how I, myself, personally, just me, not necessarily you, feel. I will give my reasons why. If you say something I don’t agree with, I will tell you that, why I disagree, etc. That is the true essence of discussion. Ok, enough blah blah blah, moving on.

Disc 1:
Twilight Angels: No review. I think I like it but I haven’t performed it in public.
Backlash 2: No review. I might use some of the ideas in another effect but I haven’t performed it in public.
Cheng’s Change: No review. It’s a nice looking effect but I haven’t even started the practice that would be necessary to put this into effect. I also never owned the commercial, gimmicked version.

New Leaf: I was underwhelmed when viewing this the first time through. I thought the method was obvious. I was wrong about the method being obvious since 1.) I had worked out a harder method prior to watching explanation and 2.) Nobody has even considered/mentioned the method (I would guess 10-12 performances in public).

The limitations of this effect seem to be getting a lot of press, which, for the life of me, I just don’t get. You don’t need a forest, you don’t need a path, you don’t need to be walking, and you don’t need to only do it for a small group/one person. My favorite place to perform this is waiting for the shuttle to work from the MacArthur Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) station in Oakland, CA. For people sitting down on the benches. All you need is something with leaves. Bigger leaves give a better effect but the leaves off the bushes behind the benches worked great. I’m not going to go into any more depth because this should be obvious to people who have the DVDs but I will simply point out that Bro did the effect for somebody sitting down as well, so I don’t get the whole “You have to be walking through a forest thing.”

My rating for this, based on when I watched it would have been maybe a 6 (slightly above average). My rating after performing it is 7-7.5/10. This is good (average tricks get a 5, remember) but I couldn’t appreciate it until I performed it. I recommend everybody ask if reviews are based on performances in front of real people (I think at least 90% of them are not).


PH’s Big Tiny: In the previous millennium, I took magic courses with a great guy named Gerry Griffin. He mentioned the <name withheld> effect that some reviews use to categorize this effect. Ever since he mentioned it, I’ve toyed with the idea, the principle, etc. but never found an approach that couldn’t be explained away by “quick hands” or the like (i.e., the magic takes place in hands of performer). This effect takes the principle and moves it to a different level, taking it completely out of the hands of the performer. I love it. I loved it when I watched it. In fact, I didn’t bother watching the explanation at first as I wanted to play with it they way I would accomplish it prior to being biased by watching the explanations. Turns out there was no difference anyway but it got the mental juices flowing.

I performed at a function on Saturday where I performed this as a quasi-closer after the dessert was served for the guest of honor (his mother participated in the effect). People left the party muttering to themselves (in a good way, just for the record). I performed several effects at the function (obviously) but the three biggest ones were Psyche (coin bend, Andrew Gerard), Neither Blind Nor Silly with OOTW ending (Sonata, Tamariz), and the Big Tiny. Great payoff and giving the deck away as a keepsake of the night is the perfect closer and a way to keep people from thinking it is some sort of “special deck”.

I didn’t use it but the ability to have the whole deck shuffled is a great addition and I’ll use it when the situation is right.. I really want to give this a 9/10 as I love it, but I can really only go 8.0. It goes through a deck at a time and I could see this being presented in a very transparent way by some, due to the ease and impromptu nature of the effect (i.e., there isn’t a whole lot of built in cover for the principle, as opposed to the <name withheld> effect).

Disc 2
The New Las Vegas Leaper: As with many other people, I love the original. It’s one of those things I do anytime, anywhere I really want to get into somebody’s head. This version combines it with one of the most requested “follow-ups” to any “objects across” effect, namely: “Well, can you <specifics withheld>?”

With that being said, there is a trade-off in terms of pure “impromptu”-ness. But that is ok due to the nature of the effect (you need something other than cards anyway). I’ve got a few personal issues with the presentation as given on the DVD but I put that into the category of “personalizing the effect”. Rating this is also pretty hard. If I give the original LVL a solid 8, then there are two rankings for LVL$. If the impromptu nature of LVL is relatively important to you, then LVL$ would drop to maybe 6-6.5 (above average but not spectacular). If impromptu is not critical, this goes to 8.5 (fills every need but maybe one or two things I would like to be different but aren’t or can’t be). I really hope people don’t do this and I am totally serious. This is one of those things that could easily be reduced to a bar bet, which would just be horrific. The one benefit, and something fair to share IMO, is that this version requires a bit more guts as well as a bit more audience management than the original. It should be totally transparent but I hope it keeps the hobbyists away from this. Yeah, I said it.

Tubular: I really like this one, I really want to review it, but I haven’t had the chance to do it in public yet. Darn it! Why can’t I review without doing it like so many others…<sigh>

Cheng’s Riser: No review. Looks cool and I have actually been practicing but this isn’t ready yet, even though I have customized the presentation.

Growing card: No review. Have not even looked at explanation. This goes relatively low on my personal importance scale. Looks nice just doesn’t fit with what I like to do.
Message: Posted by: AlluTallu (Feb 11, 2009 01:23PM)
Thanks for your honest reviews :) Looking forward to seeing your opinion about other discs as well.

-Aleksi
Message: Posted by: daghank (Feb 11, 2009 01:42PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 14:03, Mercury52 wrote:
Most of TA is gimmick-free. You don't need 4 gimmicks for Twilight Angels, you just need one (a single playing card in your deck). You are supplied with 4 gimmicks if you happen to lose/destroy/give one away. Hope this helps. You can definitely be ready to do many TA effects without pockets full of gimmicks.

Kevin
[/quote]


I guess I misread some parts sorry,its just Im just done with reading over 30 pages of TA topics and comments so,a bit of confusion is normal :)
Message: Posted by: danielellis_5 (Feb 11, 2009 01:48PM)
Is there a method for growing card that doesn't use a gimmick because I came up with a method that doesn't use a gimmick after the first time I saw it.

Dan
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Feb 11, 2009 02:15PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 14:42, daghank wrote:

I guess I misread some parts sorry,its just Im just done with reading over 30 pages of TA topics and comments so,a bit of confusion is normal :)
[/quote]

Truer words have not been spoken. This is why the back and forth here is so helpful, we all miss thing.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 11, 2009 02:49PM)
I readily admit that I have not yet performed any of the effects on the True Astonishments DVDs. Feel free to assign whatever weight you deem appropriate to the review.
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 11, 2009 02:58PM)
Lumberjohn, very thorough review but I think, honestly, that you should try each and every effect out on a actual lay audience before you decide on the effect being feasable or not. I'm not a PH fanboy (heck, I've sold my AoA books long ago, but I am a big fan of Deep Astonishment 2 and Lipsmacker) and I've never ordered anything from Ellusionist, I shop at my brick and mortar regularly and have been for years. I just know that there is sooooooooooooooo much good material out there that gets glossed over because one watches the instructions once, has personal issues with the methods, then totally skips the effect. That is NOT the way to approach magic. Yes, there are lots of absolute garbage material out there that is obviously just not going to work all that great in the real world, but there are also LOTS that seems silly in the explanation but in practice are actually very good.

One video in particular that falls into the "saw it, skipped it" category is James Brown's Fancy a Pot of Jam. The material on that video is extremely commercial and strong yet for many magicians, they looked silly and the video became more or less a underground hit instead of a mainstream one. So, all in all, please give all the effects a go in front of actual lay audiences and then come back with your findings.
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Feb 11, 2009 03:27PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 15:49, lumberjohn wrote:
I readily admit that I have not yet performed any of the effects on the True Astonishments DVDs. Feel free to assign whatever weight you deem appropriate to the review.
[/quote]

That read a bit stand-offish, which is interesting since you are basically admitting you have no idea how the effects play out in real life. However, let me be very clear, unless I missed it, you never said you hadn't tried a single thing out in the real world.

As such, my comments were made in general. I stand by them so take them as you want but I never knew you fell into that category and even knowing now, it doesn't change anything except your admission that you, again, have no actual performing experience and still reviewed the tricks.

Your post makes me assume that seems all fine and dandy to you and that tells me a great deal, about your effects and how to treat any of your reviews in the future. This is my opinion, you have yours. Feel free to assign whatever weight you deem appropriate but it seems pretty black and white to me who's review is more relevant.
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 11, 2009 03:37PM)
Harsh words Lemniscate but most of it I agree with as well. This makes me revisit the following point: just because you know a few tricks, it doesn't make you a magician.

This is independent from being a worker or a hobbyist, people need to realize that after they learn this stuff, they need to actually perform it for people, not just friends and family. Doesn't even matter if you fail miserably in your attempts, it just means you need to work harder at it, plus chances are that you'll probably never see that stranger which you've failed miserably in front of ever again.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 11, 2009 03:37PM)
There is no question that experience with a particular effect provides insight into whether it is effective before a lay audience. But I don't think that necessarily means that we cannot have valid opinions about effects from seeing them performed and explained. This can be based upon many things such as our own experiences as a spectator of magic and from performing other effects to lay audiences.

I've seen that what may work for one group may not work for another. I have no doubt that all of the effects contained in the first two TA disks will deceive certain groups of people, but I also believe that some effects will fool a wider array than others.

I can also compare effects and demonstrate where one effect has more complicated or contrived procedures than another. Does that mean that the more complicated effect is necessarily worse? Not necessarily, but I've always found that all other things being equal, simplicity is preferable to the alternative.

There are general rules that apply here. Darwin Ortiz and Ken Weber, among others, identify many factors that make a magic trick more effective, most of which would be immediately apparent simply by watching the trick performed, even without any knowledge of the method. So I do believe that reviews can have value even in the absence of extensive performing experience with that effect. I sincerely doubt that the reviewers for Magic, Geniie, the Linking Ring, and so many other magic publications, have extensively performed every effect in every book or DVD they review. The fact that they are willing to provide reviews anyway indicates the position of those publications, as well as everyone that reads them, on the belief that reviews without extensive personal performing expererience are without merit.
Message: Posted by: daghank (Feb 11, 2009 03:39PM)
Lemniscate,
What you propose probably wont work for most people as in my opinion when people watch a dvd,if they don't like a trick or if they don't find it suitable for real life situations,they do now perform it,im sure that there are only few examples of people who actually give the 'not useful' tricks a shot.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 11, 2009 03:44PM)
Lem,

By the way, I had no intention to sound stand-offish. I simply didn't want to mislead anyone into thinking that I had performed the effects. In light of the criteria you provided, I wanted to provide full disclosure of where I was coming from. I didn't feel there was anything else to say. I certainly didn't mean to offend. Nor did I intend to imply that my review was "more relevant" than yours. In fact, I was simply trying to put things into perspective for the readers. I thought that was clear, but if it wasn't, I hope it is now.
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 11, 2009 03:50PM)
It obviously won't work for most people daghank because most people do not dare tread in unfamiliar territory. That's just a fact of life. Now, back to Lumberjohn's review.

Lumberjohn, just by your review of TWO of the items in TA makes me realize that you don't fully grasp what you are watching and learning. Specifically your comments about Cheng's Change and Riser. You viewed these as individual effects where in fact, THEY ARE NOT. These are just two very brilliant methods to achieve two very strong visuals to augment your existing card workd. The intention was never there for them to be individual effects. TA in a sense is very much like the books. Lots of ideas and bits and pieces that may be added to what you already do. If you don't understand this then you are not fully grasping what you have just dropped a hefty sum of money on.

This leads me to also believe that your opinion on something working in the real world or not to not hold any water since you have not even attempted to try it in the real world. This could be said about all the positive reviews for TA, most of those reviews were written without the reviewer having tried the effects out in the real world. I've only seldom reviewed items on the Café but each and every time I do review something, it's usually quite a bit of time after the item has been released. I usually buy things when they are relatively new but the reason I'm slow on giving my views on things for the Café is because I'm busy working out the kinks if there are any. This is the only valid type of review one can give.

To make things simple: you can't say that the food tastes bad until you've actually put the darn thing in your mouth.
Message: Posted by: michaelmystic2003 (Feb 11, 2009 04:10PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 11:40, lumberjohn wrote:
I received my nine-disk True Astonishments set on Monday to much rejoicing. I have looked forward to this for some time and was like a kid on Christmas morning as I tore into the packaging and removed the box. My first impression was that this was some beautiful packaging. After an appropriate period of appreciation, I opened the box and popped in the first DVD. I was once again impressed, this time by the outstanding production values. From there, it was on to the effects.

For each effect, there is a performance and explanation segment as well as a short (one to five minutes generally) segment from Paul Harris, entitled “Phootnotes,” with his thoughts. Some of these are more helpful and insightful than others. Paul does not do any of the performances or explanations. They are handled by guest contributors, the most pervasive of which is the Director, Bro Gilbert, a likable if low key guy who handles most of the on-camera heavy lifting. Paul, in his well known heavy coat and stocking cap ensemble, looks the part of a wise drifter wandering through the stunning landscape of British Columbia, imparting occasional nuggets of wisdom and humor, equally interspersed.

At the time I am writing this review, I have watched only the first two of the nine disk set. I will discuss only effects listed on each disk’s packaging. There are four to five “Easter Eggs” on each disk, which consist of a mix of other effects (some older Paul Harris effects, some newer effects by guest contributors) and interviews. Because I don’t want to ruin anyone’s surprise, I won’t be addressing these.

DISK ONE

TWILIGHT ANGELS: This is the exact same effect found in the original Art of Astonishment series. Nothing new has been added. The effect is that as the spectator looks at the back of a card, the performer, P, places a reflective object such as a mirror on the middle of the card so that if the mirror were a window, it would appear that the entire card could be seen. When the mirror is lifted, the angel on the other side has disappeared, the inference being that it was absorbed into the “mirror dimension.” The mirror is then moved to make it appear that the remaining angel is duplicated and the duplicate is moved to another position on the card. When the mirror is lifted, the duplicate angel appears right where it was on the mirror, to the side of the remaining angel. The resulting card back appears very strange, with two of the angels side by side and the other angel simply gone.

Word is that Paul Harris really likes this effect and believes it may have been unjustly overlooked by many in the magic community the first go-round. So he has resurrected it here with the suggestion of possibly using a cell-phone or PDA as a reflector rather than carrying along a mirror to make the presentation more organic. This is not a magician fooler, as the slight(s) are simple and would telegraph the ending, but it does create an interesting retention of vision that may make for a powerful visual punch and it does use the angels, which could provide some of the more creative among us with strong presentational possibilities. It also, however, uses specially gaffed cards which will, if the cards are signed, which is suggested, cause you to restock regularly. For this reason alone, I don’t expect to perform this much.

BACKLASH 2: In this effect, the spectator signs the back of a card, and then signs the face. The performer openly places the card into his pocket. The deck may be immediately spread and the signed back of the spectator’s card appears back in the deck(!) The performer closes the deck, makes a magical gesture, re-spreads, and shows that the spectator’s card is no longer in the deck. The performer reaches into his pocket and removes the spectator’s card, showing the face that the spectator has signed. The performer waves the card in front of the spectator and shows that the signature on the back of the card has morphed into the performer’s signature.

I didn’t really like this one. There are numerous discrepancies throughout and it seemed extremely obvious to me what was going on. Also, at each of the points that I as a spectator would have wanted to see a convincer, none was offered (or possible). While it is possible that you could obtain a fairly visual name transformation at the end, this would only be possible if there is substantial similarity between the performer’s signature and the spectator’s, which would be pretty hit and miss.

Paul addresses these concerns somewhat in the Phootnotes by stating that neither he nor Bro had ever been called out on the discrepancies since beginning to perform this. It was interesting that Paul immediately recognized the more glaring problems with the effect and went on the defensive to assure us they weren’t a problem in the real world. I am always a bit suspect of performers who say anything to the effect of “I know that seemed obvious to you, but in the real world, no one notices it.” I would like the effects I perform to be deceptive enough to fool someone as perceptive as I am. I think this effect depends heavily upon having non-skeptical and non-observant spectators. I’m sure it would fly easily among spectators who are drinking or not paying close attention, but I certainly wouldn’t want to perform this for a group of alpha males who are burning my every move. And since I like my effects to give me a range of performance options, I likely won’t be performing this either. Also, you are left with a dirty deck at the end.

NEW LEAF: This damaged to restored leaf effect is fairly clever, but extremely limited in terms of performance venue. It is best performed while walking a trail in the forest, where the opportunity arises to stop for a second, find suitable leaves, set-up the effect (probably a few minutes) and then go into it while continuing the walk. The positions of the leaves appear a bit contrived, as do the procedures involved, but in the right circumstance, I’m sure it would play well. I just can’t think of a situation I’ve been in within the last ten years that would have been appropriate for performing this effect. So I doubt I’ll be performing this one either. It would be good to know, however, if your second job is as a trail guide.

CHENG’S CHANGE: This is a very visual change of a poor five card poker hand to a royal flush. For those unfamiliar with Zapped!, the gimmicked effect that this simulates, it is fast and flashy, much like a color change except with five cards instead of one. This one is knacky and would require a good bit of practice. Also, it is presented as more of a quick stunt than as part of any routine. This would be great for those into “Street Magic” guerilla style performances, but it’s not clear where you would go from there. You will be left dirty at the end, moreover, so it might not be right for all performance situations.

THE BIG TINY: Anyone familiar with Paul Gertner’s “Unshuffled” will immediately recognize the principle at play here. Essentially, a spectator writes his or her name along the edges of a deck of cards and then, after an apparent mix up of the cards into several piles, and the free selection of one of those piles, it appears that they have through their choices, arranged the cards in their piles so that their name is visible once again along the edges of the cards. This is another example of the popular “order from chaos” plot that is the basis for effects such as “Out of this World,” but presented in a novel way and making use of someone’s name, which is a nice personal touch. The mechanics of this one aren’t difficult, as it makes use of a little understood principle more than moves or slights, though a good false shuffle would come in very handy. It does render the deck unusable for further effects (though not for casual use such as card games) but I liked this effect best of all those on Disk One.

DISK TWO

LVL$: This is a new presentation of Las Vegas Leaper that incorporates an entirely new ending in which a bill appears in the spectator’s back pocket. I must admit my bias on the front end: I love Las Vegas Leaper. It is truly one of my favorite Paul Harris effects, and I never saw anything that I felt needed to be fixed. So I immediately looked on LVL$ with a critical eye. Basically, this adds a phase at the end in which five dollar bills are counted and then, after an appropriate magic gesture, are demonstrated to be only four dollar bills, the last one found in the spectator’s back pocket. This is a nice ending to the effect, by which the performer demonstrates that he can perform the traveling card effect with more than just cards. Money creates a more emotional attachment, and the ability to send money to someone’s back pocket is an effect that your spectators can relate to.

But there are compromises. The first is one of the primary advantages I’ve always found with LVL classic – that it is truly impromptu. This version is not. Furthermore, this version eliminates the vanishing sequences of the cards to make the vanish of the bill seem equivalent. I have always found those vanish sequences to provide many additional layers of magic to the effect, which I believe added substantially to the effect. More importantly, the spectator management and procedures required are more extensive and contrived in the new version than in the original. Some of the procedures required to make the effect work are simply not very well motivated. Substantial spectator management is also necessary to insure a successful outcome. Finally, the bill count at the end is not nearly as deceptive as the spectator count which is the heart of LVL classic, which I think takes away from the entire effect under the weakest link in the chain theory.

Ultimately, I can’t say that LVL$ is any better than LVL classic, but only that it is different. It is more well suited to a formal stand-up presentation. I think I will generally be sticking with LVL classic.

TUBULAR: The performer and the spectator each remove a bill from their wallets. The performer signs the spectator’s bill and vice-versa. Each rolls their bill into a tight tube. The performer takes the spectator’s rolled bill, places it next to his, and hands both to the spectator. When the spectator unrolls the “bills,” he finds only one bill, singed by both the performer and himself. They have fused together!

While this is a fairly simple and non-assuming effect, I really liked it. Everything is well motivated and the necessary misdirection is built right in. Also, it is very near impromptu. This isn’t a closer, but it’s great to know when you need a solid “quickie.”

CHENG’S RISER: Cheng is back with a visually stunning method of showing a card rising up through the deck from near the bottom to the top. Cheng first explains an “easy” method in which the rising card remains face down. But most will be far more interested in the version in which the rising card is face up. Like “Cheng’s Change” from volume one, this is more of a “Street Magic” effect in which an impossible visual feat is performed without reference to any larger routine, but if that’s something you’re interested in, and you’re willing to put in the work required to make this look good (more than Cheng’s Change), you will be rewarded with something that looks very impressive.

SS2: This acronym stands for “Seductive Switch 2.” The effect is presented as a demonstration of mucking at the poker table, in which a desirable card is switched for an undesirable one, only in this demonstration, the switch is to occur in the spectator’s hands. The performer displays three cards, a Jack, an Ace, and a six. The performer apparently takes the Ace and folds it up with the back out, demonstrating how a card must be prepared for palming. He then displays the folded card against the faces of the two remaining cards, showing a Jack and a Six. The performer turns the two cards face down and places them under the spectator’s hand. He then places the folded card into palm and touches his hand to the spectator’s hand, demonstrating the “switching technique.” When the spectator lifts his hand and looks at his cards, he sees that he now holds a Jack and an Ace. The performer unfolds his card, showing it to now be a six.

This is a great effect with an interesting presentation. The set up for the key display is a bit contrived, but it is very deceptive and unlikely to attract much notice. Unfortunately, you will destroy a six with each performance, but that is a small price to pay for a fabulous trick. This was my favorite item on Disk Two.

GROWING CARD: The performer places a face up Ace between two Jokers, slightly up and left jogged so its pip can be seen clearly. As the performer rubs on the three cards, the Ace appears to grow, extending from the lower right side of the card sandwich to the same extent at the upper left side. After the spectator is allowed a few moments to appreciate this oddity, the performer continues rubbing, as the Ace appears to shrink back to its original size. The performer then flips the cards over and displays them.

This is a cool visual effect, but without any real context or routine other than a quick stunt. Also, it uses a specially gaffed card so the cards cannot be examined after the effect. It is more in the nature of a quick one-note packet trick, making it another good candidate for the Street Magic guerilla magician.

Overall, I would have to admit that I was a bit disappointed with the first two disks of the True Astonishments series. Yes, there is some good solid magic here, but for my sixty dollars (the pro-rated price for these two disks), there are other DVDs with far more bang for the buck. So far, this has simply not been the revolutionary collection that I was expecting. But I have only just begun, and there are seven more disks to go. So off I go to watch more magic.
[/quote]

I did NOT expect that! Thank you for taking the time to write an HONEST review as opposed to one caught up in all of the hype.
Message: Posted by: bugjack (Feb 11, 2009 04:38PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 17:10, Michaelmystic2003 wrote:

I did NOT expect that! Thank you for taking the time to write an HONEST review as opposed to one caught up in all of the hype.
[/quote]

I think negative reviews are perfectly fine and no one should be bashed for them. But I think the opposite is true too. Just because some people here have watched all the DVDs and posted positive reviews doesn't mean that we need to dismiss them as "hype."
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Feb 11, 2009 04:47PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 16:50, kissdadookie wrote:
Lumberjohn, just by your review of TWO of the items in TA makes me realize that you don't fully grasp what you are watching and learning. Specifically your comments about Cheng's Change and Riser...

This leads me to also believe that your opinion on something working in the real world or not to not hold any water since you have not even attempted to try it in the real world. This could be said about all the positive reviews for TA, most of those reviews were written without the reviewer having tried the effects out in the real world...

To make things simple: you can't say that the food tastes bad until you've actually put the darn thing in your mouth.
[/quote]

Since I feel like I started this, let me clarify my specific position. I never said or meant to imply something that kissdadookie said, namely the "don't fully grasp" point. I wouldn't presume to say it. What I would presume to say is that magician's tend to have poor abilities at understanding what spectators see. I include myself here, thus my stance on audience testing effects prior to putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard) to "review" them. I even hate that people consider them reviews, they are more like "guesses" when you don't have any evidence at all to support your point of view.

My personal opinion is pretty close to kissdadookie's regarding the value of your opinion, to me personally, especially moving forward (since I already have these dvds).

Finally, I think kissdadookie's example is perfect. How can somebody say they hate "X" food without ever trying it? In order to say you hate it, you have to try it. Anything else is just ridiculous.

But that is simply my opinion. One more quick thing, regarding "hype": hey man, if you think it's hyped, please don't get it. Don't read the reviews. Or better, do what you are doing. Ignore the reviews of people who actually perform the effects and instead, give props to the negative review from somebody who hasn't tried a single one.

That's the ticket! Please, just keep doing that. That way I know I never have to worry about you as a competitor.

Lem
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 11, 2009 05:09PM)
I find it interesting that the same pattern tends to emerge again and again. Immediately after a product is released, especially one from a well regarded magician, it is accompanied by a flood of positive reviews. These are accepted by everyone uncritically. If and when a review surfaces with any negative things to say, the reviewer is immediately attacked – typically on the basis that he is somehow unqualified to render a review. Perhaps he is not old enough, or experienced enough, or has not performed the effects being reviewed “in the real world.” If the reviewer answers these objections, then the bar is raised; the goal post moved back. Now, he needs to have PROFESSIONAL experience, or he has not performed the reviewed effects ENOUGH.

I have seen this repeatedly, and so it does not surprise me that we see so few reviewers willing to post anything negative about a product. There is certainly no reward for honesty. Even when I attempted to be honest about my experience with the product I was attacked for that!

I find the position that no reviews are valid unless the reviewer has performed the effect in the “real world” to be simply absurd. As Daghank pointed out, few people are going to work up an effect they believe to be terrible just to see how it plays out in the “real world.” But every month, magic reviewers give poor reviews to dozens of products. Clearly, those who write, read, and publish those reviews believe them to have value, regardless of the fact that they have NEVER performed the effects in question. I would submit that includes the vast majority of the magic community, with the exception of Lem and Kissadookie, who apparently maintain that all these publications are conning us with their worthless reviews.

There are many things I do not need to personally try out before a live audience to know they would play terribly. I’m sure each of you could say the same. How would you feel if someone were to tell you that your opinion meant nothing unless and until you personally performed the effect? And then how many times would you need to perform it before your opinion gained validity? What would the sample size need to be? 10? 100? 1000?

These types of attacks are not valid. They are simply ad hominem smears to attempt to negate any negative comments. Their selective application belies the motivations behind them.

The irony here is that I did not intend my review to be negative, only honest. I found many things to like in these DVDs, but in light of the tremendous hype preceding them, also found they did not meet my heightened expectations. This was simply my opinion, which I don’t claim to be of greater value than anyone else’s. I do maintain, however, that it has some value.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 11, 2009 05:23PM)
Lem and Kissadookie,

To demonstrate that your opinions are based on something other than sheer hypocrisy, please name all the professional reviewers you respect that have never reviewed a book or DVD unless and until they have performed every effect in that book or DVD to a lay audience. As to the ones that don't meet this criteria, aren't they, under your standards, guilty of fraud by, in effect, giving an opinion about food they have never eaten? If so, there are a lot of criminals out there.
Message: Posted by: Count Lustig (Feb 11, 2009 05:26PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 11:40, lumberjohn wrote:
SS2: This acronym stands for “Seductive Switch 2.” The effect is presented as a demonstration of mucking at the poker table, in which a desirable card is switched for an undesirable one, only in this demonstration, the switch is to occur in the spectator’s hands. The performer displays three cards, a Jack, an Ace, and a six. The performer apparently takes the Ace and folds it up with the back out, demonstrating how a card must be prepared for palming. He then displays the folded card against the faces of the two remaining cards, showing a Jack and a Six. The performer turns the two cards face down and places them under the spectator’s hand. He then places the folded card into palm and touches his hand to the spectator’s hand, demonstrating the “switching technique.” When the spectator lifts his hand and looks at his cards, he sees that he now holds a Jack and an Ace. The performer unfolds his card, showing it to now be a six.

This is a great effect with an interesting presentation. The set up for the key display is a bit contrived, but it is very deceptive and unlikely to attract much notice. Unfortunately, you will destroy a six with each performance, but that is a small price to pay for a fabulous trick. This was my favorite item on Disk Two.
[/quote]
How does this differ from the original Seductive Switch? (From the description it sounds identical.)
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Feb 11, 2009 06:23PM)
Lumberjohn,

Look, man, I don't really care about what you do or don't do. Review every effect out there without trying it, I really don't care. However, just to put you at ease, I don't trust any reviews that aren't from people who test effects out. I'm quite sure that comes as a surprise and I really don't care if you believe it or not. Love me or hate me, I always tell the truth.

As for your <ahem> "argument" that negative reviews are automatically attacked, please re-read my first post. Go ahead. You'll notice that positive or negative do not weigh into it. Oh, you didn't notice that? What a shock! Oh wait, it wasn't. IF YOU HAD READ MY POST, you would have found that I don't care if the review is positive or negative, a lack of actually performing the effects was my criteria.

So there goes your whole little <ahem> "argument" about it being that you were negative. It had NOTHING to do with it. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. But hey, don't let the facts get in the way of taking everyting personally.

So, let's review what has happened and you tell me who has the problem:

You put up your review.
I put up mine and tell you my criteria (must perform etc.). I also mention that I don't respect reviews from people who haven't actually tried the stuff.
You get mad because you think I am attacking you when I didn't even know you didn't actually try anything before "guessing" at how they play.
Ok, so then you try to pass it off as your review was negative so it was attacked.
Too bad you forgot I didn't attack your post at all because I DIDN'T KNOW YOU GUESSED WITHOUT TRYING ANYTHING OUT.

The only thing I disagreed with out of the gate was your ill-informed and straight-up incorrect "guess" of New Leaf. An effect, I'd like to point out, that you have never even tried. I even pointed out exactly where and how I perform it. But hey, those facts are getting in the way again, why don't you write a post on how it's because your name starts with an "L"? I mean, as long as you're being obstinate and stand-offish anyway, right?

You know what, forget it. It's not worth it. Let's just say I have absolutely no respect for your reviews OR your reading comprehension.

Now, on to an actually good post from daghank. kissadookie actually answered it pretty well, but I will go a little bit further. If people consistently perform only effects 1, 2, and 4 from a disk with 4 effects, and thus only review 1, 2, and 4, that, in itself should say something. Or let's put it another way: why do you think some tricks were practiced and performed and some weren't?

Enough from me here, I didn't realize that giving my criteria for reviewing something was going to make anybody cry. All my discussion is up at the TA forum from now on, you guys can go make guesses about lots of other stuff now. Nobody will call you on your BS.
Message: Posted by: motown (Feb 11, 2009 06:31PM)
It sounds to me that LumberJohn didn't buy into all the hype and is just giving an honest review.
Message: Posted by: acchessor (Feb 11, 2009 06:56PM)
I've only gone mostly through disc 1 so far, and I personally think it's amazing. I guess that your reaction to this set somewhat depends on past experience, as I really needed something before TA to get me out there performing, and I think this set will give me more than enough motivation. I will be posting my TA diaries for disc 1 in the TA forums in the next few days, so watch out for that!
Message: Posted by: emyers99 (Feb 11, 2009 09:01PM)
I too was underwhelmed by the first two discs. And no, I didn't perform every trick in front of an audience. I don't think that is practical or a necessary requirement before forming an opinion as to whether I like or dislike material. I've been performing for 25 years and by now, I know what I like and I know what type of magic works best for me for my audiences. For others, it may be different. It really just depends on who you are...and that is the beauty of opinions. Take em or leave em, but everyone is entitled to one. For me, the material on 1 and 2 is not bad...it's just not as good as other material I perform. So for me, I didn't see anything that I would add to my show. Others may. I personally liked volumes 7 and 8 the best.
Message: Posted by: Count Lustig (Feb 12, 2009 01:19AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 18:26, Count Lustig wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 11:40, lumberjohn wrote:
SS2: This acronym stands for “Seductive Switch 2.” The effect is presented as a demonstration of mucking at the poker table, in which a desirable card is switched for an undesirable one, only in this demonstration, the switch is to occur in the spectator’s hands. The performer displays three cards, a Jack, an Ace, and a six. The performer apparently takes the Ace and folds it up with the back out, demonstrating how a card must be prepared for palming. He then displays the folded card against the faces of the two remaining cards, showing a Jack and a Six. The performer turns the two cards face down and places them under the spectator’s hand. He then places the folded card into palm and touches his hand to the spectator’s hand, demonstrating the “switching technique.” When the spectator lifts his hand and looks at his cards, he sees that he now holds a Jack and an Ace. The performer unfolds his card, showing it to now be a six.

This is a great effect with an interesting presentation. The set up for the key display is a bit contrived, but it is very deceptive and unlikely to attract much notice. Unfortunately, you will destroy a six with each performance, but that is a small price to pay for a fabulous trick. This was my favorite item on Disk Two.
[/quote]
How does this differ from the original Seductive Switch? (From the description it sounds identical.)
[/quote]
So is there any difference between SS2 and the original Seductive Switch?
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 01:33AM)
I personally do not read reviews actually :D Either on the Café or in magazines. If I think a effect is good, I would purchase it and then work it out in actual performances. More and more I am finding myself trying to move away from convincing magicians to pick up certain products because I truthfully want to use them for myself, like a little personal secret.

Even though my comments may seem harsh, they do make some sort of sense. Magician's in general are way too paranoid these days and refuse to take any sort of risk. This makes them a bit dumb down because they are not as creative in the end. They are also way too paranoid about minute details that really means nothing in the real world while they treasure some effects and methods that are great for fooling magicians but are the equivalent of watching paint dry for the lay audience.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 12, 2009 06:58AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 19:23, Lemniscate wrote:

As for your <ahem> "argument" that negative reviews are automatically attacked, please re-read my first post. Go ahead. You'll notice that positive or negative do not weigh into it. Oh, you didn't notice that? What a shock! Oh wait, it wasn't. IF YOU HAD READ MY POST, you would have found that I don't care if the review is positive or negative, a lack of actually performing the effects was my criteria.

So there goes your whole little <ahem> "argument" about it being that you were negative. It had NOTHING to do with it. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. But hey, don't let the facts get in the way of taking everyting personally.

So, let's review what has happened and you tell me who has the problem:

You put up your review.
I put up mine and tell you my criteria (must perform etc.). I also mention that I don't respect reviews from people who haven't actually tried the stuff.
You get mad because you think I am attacking you when I didn't even know you didn't actually try anything before "guessing" at how they play.
Ok, so then you try to pass it off as your review was negative so it was attacked.
Too bad you forgot I didn't attack your post at all because I DIDN'T KNOW YOU GUESSED WITHOUT TRYING ANYTHING OUT.
[/quote]

I see you didn't answer my question, by which I assume you concede that your ridiculous position is not shared by the vast majority of the magic community, who do actually find value in reviews written by people who did not perform every effect to a live audience and do not consider all such reviewers to be spreading "BS," as you so graciously put it.

As for what actually happened, it should have been entirely clear from my initial review that I had not performed the effects on the disk. I specifically stated that I had received the disks this week and had only just finished watching the first two. You then posted a review containing your "criteria," which contained an introduction stating that any review written by someone who had not actually performed all the effects contained therein was completely worthless and tantamount to fraud. While I certainly did not agree with your position, just in case it was not clear (I don't see how it couldn't have been) that I had not performed the effects, I stated that in a short simple post. In your next post, you registered your mock surprise at my "admission" and went on the direct attack, basically calling me nothing short of dishonest -- for doing what you have basically conceded 99.9% of reviewers do.

As for your "argument" that you apply your standards equally to all reviews, positive and negative, I would like to point something out. Prior to my post, there were upwards of twenty pages of posts regarding the TA series, containing many positive "reviews" by people who clearly had only just finished watching the disks they were reviewing. Yet, the first and only time you decided to go on the attack was after my review. I think that says it all. Game, set, and match my friend.
Message: Posted by: feifei (Feb 12, 2009 07:41AM)
That's a great job well done lumberjohn. I have to say that's a well written Honest review which I agree with.

I do also believe that you have also put into consideration from a spectators point of view of an effect as shown in the performance.

If anyone don't like the review, a new shiny review can always be written based on their own opinion.

:)
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 08:09AM)
I truly do not understand how there can be a review of ANY sort from a person that hasn't tried the effects in front of a lay audience. Just grab a stranger off the street or at a bar or what not and perform the effects, then come back with a review. Senseless to write a review and *** items to hell if you never actually performed any of it. Regardless if you had written a disclaimer about not having actually performed any of the material, there just shouldn't be a review posted in the first place.

From lumberjohn's initial write up for disc 1 and 2, it feels like he has a mental wall that he needs to break since the majority of his views were all theoretical and not actually practical views. Armchair theorist anyone?
Message: Posted by: emyers99 (Feb 12, 2009 08:54AM)
I respect your opinion but have to say that I completely disagree with this logic. Saying you can't review magic until you've actually performed it is like saying you can't say a painting is ugly until you buy it, and hang it on the wall in your living room. If I see a bad trick, why should I have to make an audience suffer through watching it before I can say I think it's a bad trick? For me, a big part of being a professional is being able to identify and perform the strongest magic possible. Picking strong magic involves making judgment calls based on experience. Sometimes you guess right. Sometimes you don't. But I don't think it is fair to experiment on the public with material you don't believe in.

Back to volumes 1 and 2. The magic on them was good. I don't think anyone has said otherwise. But for me personally, while the magic is good, I don't think it's as strong as routines I already perform. Admittedly that is a judgement call based on a mental comparision and 25 years of experience. I may be right. I may be wrong. But that is how I evaluate material. Others may feel the material is incredibly strong and that's great, but that doesn't make my opinion incorrect for me and my performing style. The same goes for John's initial review. He set out his rationale. Others may disagree but that doesn't make John incorrect.
Message: Posted by: Winks (Feb 12, 2009 09:01AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-12 09:09, kissdadookie wrote:
I truly do not understand how there can be a review of ANY sort from a person that hasn't tried the effects in front of a lay audience. Just grab a stranger off the street or at a bar or what not and perform the effects, then come back with a review. Senseless to write a review and *** items to hell if you never actually performed any of it. Regardless if you had written a disclaimer about not having actually performed any of the material, there just shouldn't be a review posted in the first place.

From lumberjohn's initial write up for disc 1 and 2, it feels like he has a mental wall that he needs to break since the majority of his views were all theoretical and not actually practical views. Armchair theorist anyone?
[/quote]

Oh shut up.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 12, 2009 09:16AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-12 02:19, Count Lustig wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 18:26, Count Lustig wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 11:40, lumberjohn wrote:
SS2: This acronym stands for “Seductive Switch 2.” The effect is presented as a demonstration of mucking at the poker table, in which a desirable card is switched for an undesirable one, only in this demonstration, the switch is to occur in the spectator’s hands. The performer displays three cards, a Jack, an Ace, and a six. The performer apparently takes the Ace and folds it up with the back out, demonstrating how a card must be prepared for palming. He then displays the folded card against the faces of the two remaining cards, showing a Jack and a Six. The performer turns the two cards face down and places them under the spectator’s hand. He then places the folded card into palm and touches his hand to the spectator’s hand, demonstrating the “switching technique.” When the spectator lifts his hand and looks at his cards, he sees that he now holds a Jack and an Ace. The performer unfolds his card, showing it to now be a six.

This is a great effect with an interesting presentation. The set up for the key display is a bit contrived, but it is very deceptive and unlikely to attract much notice. Unfortunately, you will destroy a six with each performance, but that is a small price to pay for a fabulous trick. This was my favorite item on Disk Two.
[/quote]
How does this differ from the original Seductive Switch? (From the description it sounds identical.)
[/quote]
So is there any difference between SS2 and the original Seductive Switch?
[/quote]

I went back to my Art of Astonishment books to look up the original Seductive Switch. It is found in Volume 3, p. 167. As best I can tell, the handling is identical. I can't see that any improvements have been made in moving from SS1 to SS2, though I must say that I enjoyed seeing it performed, as you can see how deceptive the display is -- something that is lost a bit when looking at drawings. If I am missing something, please chime in.
Message: Posted by: RevJohn (Feb 12, 2009 09:25AM)
I am confused about the whole "PH-boys" kind of attitude. It seems weird to group Harris in with the others that some have in this thread.

Do people forget that Harris has been around for a LONG time, and been putting items out and creatively thinking for much longer than some have been alive?

That aside, the additions I can see have less to do with handling and more to do with presentation. I believe, while it might be slight, the idea of using a cell phone or some other reflective surface (rather than just a small mirror), is a different presentation angle.

Since I have liked Naked Angels on Bikes, but moved to do it without the gimmicked card case, I really enjoyed seeing this version of the Angel effects.

I appreciate the review, and everyone is entitled to their opinion. I seem to have liked the effects more than others. But the whole Magic and Meaning movement has people on both sides of the fence as well.

RevJohn
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 09:55AM)
Winks, that's adorable, your commenting like a little schoolboy. Yay.

ANYWAYS, emyers, I think you misunderstood the idea. It's not finding out a painting is ugly after you buy it. It's more like the painting is NOT a painting until you paint it. You can have the idea in your head but it's nothing but an idea until you execute it. So going by your logic of feeling a review can be justly made based off of just watching the video and not having tried anything from the video is the equivalent of reviewing a car based off of watching a video for the car instead of driving it. I admit, that's a bit extreme for a comparison but you surely can see the connection being made there.
Message: Posted by: jordanjohnson (Feb 12, 2009 11:32AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-12 10:16, lumberjohn wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-12 02:19, Count Lustig wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 18:26, Count Lustig wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 11:40, lumberjohn wrote:
SS2: This acronym stands for “Seductive Switch 2.” The effect is presented as a demonstration of mucking at the poker table, in which a desirable card is switched for an undesirable one, only in this demonstration, the switch is to occur in the spectator’s hands. The performer displays three cards, a Jack, an Ace, and a six. The performer apparently takes the Ace and folds it up with the back out, demonstrating how a card must be prepared for palming. He then displays the folded card against the faces of the two remaining cards, showing a Jack and a Six. The performer turns the two cards face down and places them under the spectator’s hand. He then places the folded card into palm and touches his hand to the spectator’s hand, demonstrating the “switching technique.” When the spectator lifts his hand and looks at his cards, he sees that he now holds a Jack and an Ace. The performer unfolds his card, showing it to now be a six.

This is a great effect with an interesting presentation. The set up for the key display is a bit contrived, but it is very deceptive and unlikely to attract much notice. Unfortunately, you will destroy a six with each performance, but that is a small price to pay for a fabulous trick. This was my favorite item on Disk Two.
[/quote]
How does this differ from the original Seductive Switch? (From the description it sounds identical.)
[/quote]
So is there any difference between SS2 and the original Seductive Switch?
[/quote]

I went back to my Art of Astonishment books to look up the original Seductive Switch. It is found in Volume 3, p. 167. As best I can tell, the handling is identical. I can't see that any improvements have been made in moving from SS1 to SS2, though I must say that I enjoyed seeing it performed, as you can see how deceptive the display is -- something that is lost a bit when looking at drawings. If I am missing something, please chime in.
[/quote]

The SS2 is done face up in there hands as compared to face down on a table if I remember right. I think either in the explanation or the phottnotes it mentions the difference.

JJ
Message: Posted by: Xcath1 (Feb 12, 2009 12:18PM)
My rant.
I agree that PH can't be lumped in with other more recent vintage celebrities and I am a long time fan. I remember reading Super Magic etc. and thinking wow, the first cool magician, this guy is writing for me. That said, especially where famous folk are concerned, there is a tendency on the boards to support early positive and hyperbolic reviews while being very critical of negative reviews. I have the new set, and like but don't love most of it. I have seen several people note (and I would have to agree) that some of the updated versions of effects don't necessarily seem like a step forward. I buy plenty of magic DVDs to see the performance, for visual nuances of a sleight etc and realize that you are paying a premium for video and have generally come to accept it. There are a handful of fantastic effects that I have seen on other videos (not on these however) that I know I never would have fully appreciated from a written description. I am not sure that the performances and visual teaching on this set qualify as “priceless” but I guess as a whole it’s a fair value considering the market today. The AoA books for 140 bucks is an awesome value however.
Message: Posted by: Count Lustig (Feb 12, 2009 01:15PM)
Thanks for the responses, lumberjohn and JJ.
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 01:23PM)
Negative reviews is not the concern here though Xcath1. The major issue (or mines at least) is that it is very transparent that lumberjohn dismissed the majority of the material immaturaly. Like I said in my earlier posts, lumberjohn viewed the Cheng Change and Riser as individual effects when it is quite obvious these were never meant as effects. His gross generalization by categorizing most of the material as "guerilla street magic" is a bit silly as well. Again, I don't believe I've actually commended any of the existing positive reviews but this first negative review I felt was something that needed a bit of clarification. Then you have the few posters who are supporting lumberjohns review seemingly just so they can feel unique and be apart from the masses. That's just illogical.

I will gladly accept, as would many others, negative reviews on products as long as the reviews are done correctly (aka, you can't just skim the material, you actually need to learn it and perform it, just like so many effects that looks great on demos but when you actually go out to perform it, it's not all that practical). This goes for the positive reviews as well, if they were done in a equally bad way that lumberjohn's review was done, then yes, I would have something against the positive review as well.

This thread should really have been titled: True Astonishments Disks 1 & 2: Initial Impressions because that is what it really is. In no way can it be considered a review.
Message: Posted by: M Sini (Feb 12, 2009 01:45PM)
I too agree this review should be looked at as more of an initial impressions.

LJ I appreciate you taking your time to share your thoughts on the DVDs but this isn't really a full review.
Message: Posted by: ricardo carpenter (Feb 12, 2009 03:08PM)
Personnally, I prefer to read "low-hyped" reviews like the initial impression one we are talking about, than "over-hyped".

hey, after all, he bought the set! he can express his opinion without being harshed.

second, attacking reviews like this one make me skeptical about, what seems to be, not so much real- reviews.

the problem is real reviews at internet time interact very strongly with the business. no delay. hurry! hurry!
it looks like a battle.

but if it's good, it will be known in time. it will be known forever.

personnaly I have the AOA books and I love it. The ideas inside are very richfull, it may be "compared" to the Tommy Wonder'books (hey, don't jump!)

In terms of ideas, originality and about magician have to think on what is to pretend to be a magician. I like the point of view of PH. He makes me think. And magic is intellectual.

I would like the TA set to have this deepness.

If so, may be I will buy it.

But because, of the price I'm glad to read various point of views.

If you want to defend the cause, do it with tact, and finess or it will desserve the TA project.
Message: Posted by: A.G. (Feb 12, 2009 03:19PM)
If you have TA take a moment to watch the Phoote Notes on Extrordinary Ability... you will learn something about Paul Harris,yourself,and dismissing effects...

bes always,
Andrew Gerard
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 03:26PM)
A initial impression and a review are two totally different things Richard. You can't label initial impressions as being a review because it is not. Thus lumberjohns "review" is getting a bit of bad press because it's really a initial impression and NOT a "full review" as he has named it. If you refer to my earlier post, I made a point of personally not writing a review until I've full tested and workshopped whatever it is that I intend to review. This is the only way to have a honest review would you agree?

I'm picking my set up tomorrow but my friends have all had theirs for a while now and they have actually worked on the effects as well as actually performed the effects for people. I value their views with a lot more weight than most of the reviews for TA I have read on the Café. Were their views positive or negative... they were very positive and the material on the TA set is very very good.

There's a few reasons I can see how a negative strike at TA could garner a small following of people going "That was great, that was honest, etc. etc." One reason may be what you've pointed out Richard, a purely monetary way of looking at it. Just like people who have spent lots of money on something wants to justify to themselves that they bought something good and not something that was junk, people who can not buy something expensive often like to justify to themselves for not having what they can't afford. Another reason could be that they just like to be outsiders and have a satisfaction of being apart from the masses (which ironically creates a sub-genre of sorts).

Back to the point of the matter, if you're going to do a review, do a proper one. Lumberjohn's impressions really hold very little weight because he obviously hasn't actually tried most of the effects. From the sounds of it, he's not going to either because he has already expressed being prejudgemental about the effects. Now, how can such a "review" be deemed "honest." It's not even a review to begin with!
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 12, 2009 03:30PM)
I'm afraid I must take issue with kissadookie's proprietary definition of "review." I have challenged both him and Lemiscape to provide me the names of professional "reviewers" - that is, people who get paid to write "reviews" for magic publications and periodicals -- who perform every effect in a reviewed book or DVD before submitting their "review." What I have heard so far is crickets. That is because none of them do.

That is not a requirement for a review and never has been. While I don't disagree that experience performing a particular effect would give one additional insight and might increase the weight of one's opinion, I can't imagine any well known magic publication refusing to accept for publication a review in which all of the effects were not first performed.

Kissadookie, like Lem before him, makes the claim that his attacks are not motivated by any negative comments in my review but simply by the fact that I posted before performing all the effects, and that he would have similarly attacked any positive review if it had been done so "poorly." And as with Lem, I would refer anyone who takes kissadookie at his word to peruse the many positive reviews posted before this one that were clearly based on nothing more than watching the DVDs at issue and note the conspicuous absence of any similar attack by kissadookie, despite his many posts on those same pages praising the TA set. I suspect that what kissadookie found "poor" about my review was that it was not as glowingly positive as all the "reviews" he previously felt no need to comment upon.

As for kissadookie's claim that my review was "immature," I find that a little ironic coming from someone whose screen name is "kissadookie." Need I say more?
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 03:39PM)
You have to be kidding me right? There's nothing wrong with your original post other than the fact that you claim how effects will not work well while you haven't even attempted to try them. That makes your "review" a valid one? You have GOT to be joking. Why do you even take offense to this? Why not just go out and try out the effects? For goodness sakes, you've already spent the money on it, might as well get your money worth right?

By the way, when I said "immature" I meant it in the following way: it's not complete because it's just a impression at this point in time. Not immature as in you're a little schoolboy neener neener neener. It is however a bit immature of you to read our comments as an attack instead of trying to figure out what we are trying to express, don't you think?

How is my definition of a review proprietary? Have you ever seen a movie review where the reviewer didn't even watch the movie but instead does a review based off the trailer? This is magic we are talking about here, magic needs to be performed, if you don't even bother to perform it how are you able to even judge it? Remember all that talk years ago about how suggestion stuff was a lot of hype and BS with most of it coming from people whom have not put any work into using suggestion techniques? You're more or less doing the same thing with your "review." Clear and simple, don't knock it 'till you tried it. You knocked it and not only have NOT tried it but apparently you're not even going to bother with it. There's obviously a mental wall that you need to break through here. From the sound of things, you have probably dismissed a lot of great material in your life with magic so far, you should definitely break that mental wall and discover all the really great things you've missed the first time around.

If you're not even going to work with the material on discs 1 and 2, why not donate it since they are just going to collect dust in your possession.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 12, 2009 04:20PM)
Kissdadookie,

I am first a bit puzzled by your comment above that my review is "getting a bit of bad press," as the only people who seem to have a problem with the content are you and Lemniscate. Lemniscate's substantive issue appears to be focused on my review of "New Leaf" only, which is one out of ten effects covered. You, who have not even watched the disks(!) and thus can't really comment upon whether the substance is accurate or not, have simply taken the position that I was irresponsible in posting anything titled "review" at all because I had not personally tried out all the effects before a live audience. This is despite the fact that this is how reviews of magic books and DVDs have been done for decades, often by the top names in the business, but you have to date been willing to give them all a pass, instead reserving your indignation for me alone.

Your attacks on those who have agreed with my review reveals your own personal bias. Obviously, you can't even fathom the idea that anyone who found value in a review you rejected out of hand could be accounted for by anything other than cognitive dissonance: "justifying to themselves not having what they cannot afford" or "outsiders wanting to be apart from the masses." How patronizing! Can you not even allow for the possibility that these people honestly agreed that the review was accurate and/or helpful? Must you characterize them all as immature sycophants?

Third, it doesn't even appear that you read my review. You make it sound as though I simply dismissed every effect as worthless and stated that I would never perform any of them. As to each of the items reviewed, I took care to explain what I liked or disliked about them. For example, as to the first effect, Twilight Angels, I made it clear that I liked the effect and the impression it would likely have upon laypeople, but that I would probably not perform it often because of the need to regularly restock on gaffs, when I have many strong effects that don't go through gaffs so quickly. I am not sure how ten, one hundred, or one thousand peformances of Twilight Angels would affect this conclusion.

If you'll read my review again, you will see much that I liked. Perhaps you should pay a bit more attention before firing off so many personal attacks.
Message: Posted by: Michael Dustman (Feb 12, 2009 04:25PM)
My dad can beat up your dad......................

So what is the purpose of this thread? Are we reviewing the material or reviewing the usefulness of the effects?

I got my TA set on Monday and have only had time to watch Vol. 1 and Vol. 3. I think there is some usable material on there but I have not been overwhelmed by the set so far. However, I (as is my normal nature) hesitate to review until I have had a chance to digest all of the stuff first.

However, I do take one exception to what Kissdadookie has said.

"I will gladly accept, as would many others, negative reviews on products as long as the reviews are done correctly (aka, you can't just skim the material, you actually need to learn it and perform it, just like so many effects that looks great on demos but when you actually go out to perform it, it's not all that practical). "

How is it then, that positive review are accepted 5 hours after one rips open the set? There is no way that somebody can, in your terms, give a positive review until one has "grabbed a person off the street or in a bar" and tried the material out on them. If you argue a negative review can only be offered based on trying out the material, then it has to be true for a positive review. But yet, tons of positive reviews are accepted without more than 5 minutes of digesting the effect.

Personally speaking, I think anyone who tries to perform stuff and give a positive review when having something less than a day (or heck even a week) is doing a great disservice to the material itself.

I have been a professional entertainer for 20 years. I have to agree with Emyers that based on my experience and knowing my audiences, I can also decide what is worth learning and putting in front of my audiences. In fairness to Paul Harris, I may not say that the stuff is totally unusable, but I am *** well within my right to say it is not usable for my audiences and anybody who tells me any different doesn't know anything about respecting their audiences.

With that being said, I am fine with saying that these could have been first impressions rather than a review. Since these have not even been out 12 days, I don't think anyone can call theirs a review with the excpetion of Jason Messina, Bro Gilbert, Andrew Gerard and Tim Trono.

I am anxiously looking forward to watching the rest of the set. I have high hopes for some good material as I have come to expect nothing less from Paul Harris. I still use one of his Stars of Magic effects that I learned in 1987 to this day. But I do have to say, more people like to argue the negative reviews than the positive ones.
Message: Posted by: Review King (Feb 12, 2009 04:27PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-12 16:19, A.G. wrote:
If you have TA take a moment to watch the Phoote Notes on Extrordinary Ability... you will learn something about Paul Harris,yourself,and dismissing effects...

bes always,
Andrew Gerard
[/quote]

Andrew, thank for pointing out that Phoote Note as it might be one of the most important items on the set. It's on Disk # 5.
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 04:41PM)
You're bit about Backlash 2 alone says a million words about how you think. Here's a quote:

"I would like the effects I perform to be deceptive enough to fool someone as perceptive as I am."

Joy, you want to fool more magicians, yay. You then go on to explain theories which were brought up by the writings of Ortiz. Did you not read Designing Miracles? A magician fooler does not neccessarily fool lay audience nor does it really make entertaining magic. How often do you even perform for strangers? From the sound of it and this huge mental wall you've put up, it doesn't sound like you've performed all that much, but of course I may be wrong about that.

But truly, I'm not bashing your post, I'm just blatantly telling it as it is, it's NOT a review. It's obviously not a review, it's not even this serious for you to be so worked up about it. By the way, yes, I am "attacking" those that jumped on the bandwagon because they are deeming your post as a real review as opposed to it truly being a initial impression.

Also, what the heck is up with the multiple mention of "street magic?" While we're still on the matter, why are you viewing the change and riser as effects? They obviously are not, that alone shows a lack of your understanding what you are watching or learning (or in this case, probably dismissing).

By the way, in regards to the "immature" thing, I actually meant to say "premature," it was a total senior moment.
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 04:43PM)
Michael, you bring up a great point, that is why I tried very hard to emphasize that even the positive reviews are not really reviews unless the material has been, as you said, fully digested.

To add since I mentioned Designing Miracles, it is definitely a book that magicians both professionals as well as hobbyists should read. It really does put into perspective the difference of what a magician feels is a great effect and what really IS a great effect for your AUDIENCE.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 12, 2009 04:50PM)
Michael is right. My post was not intended to spark a multi-page thread about the meaning of "reviews" v. "initial impressions." If anyone wants to continue that discussion, let's do it via PMs and try to keep this thread limited to discussions of the first two TA disks.
Message: Posted by: A.G. (Feb 12, 2009 05:08PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-12 17:27, Christopher Kavanagh wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-12 16:19, A.G. wrote:
If you have TA take a moment to watch the Phoote Notes on Extrordinary Ability... you will learn something about Paul Harris,yourself,and dismissing effects...

bes always,
Andrew Gerard
[/quote]


Thanks Chris, glad someone was watching.

It was great to be a part of Paul and Bro's amazing project...

There was another pure moment if you watch the Phoote notes on Gerards' Warp, Paul's comments are stunning.

best AG






Andrew, thank for pointing out that Phoote Note as it might be one of the most important items on the set. It's on Disk # 5.
[/quote]
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 12, 2009 05:22PM)
Onward. With respect to Backlash 2, I was not saying that my effects must be magician foolers -- only that they must fool skeptical and very perceptive spectators as well as the unskeptical and less perceptive. The comparison to myself was not to myself as a magician, but to myself as a skeptical and perceptive spectator.

My problems with Backlash did not involve issues that were more obvious to magicians than laypeople, such as an Elm***y Count, but with things that would be obvious to skeptical spectators who were observing everything closely. This effect relies upon certain assumptions that some people will make, but others will not. I know this from many other effects that I have performed. I cannot tell you what those exact percentages are, but I do know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is a percentage of laypeople who will not be fooled by Backlash 2, and if your audience contains even one of these, you will be called out.

Why would I want to take that risk unless the effect itself was strong enough to justify it? I have many effects that would play equally well to the skeptical and non-skeptical spectator. I do not feel that the strength of the effect justifies the risk. That is, of course, my opinion. But is is based upon performing many effects for a wide range of spectators over the years, and assessing what they are willing to assume and what they are not.

As for Cheng's two contributions, I merely mentioned that they were not presented as part of a larger routine but instead more like "disembodied slights" as several well known magicians tend to dub them. They are shown as flashy moves, but with little to no context. This does not, of course, prevent someone from adding them to a routine or building one around them. But I can only review what is on the disks as it has been presented. It should be clear that I did not knock the moves themselves on this account, but merely mentioned the limitations of the presentations so that people would know what they would be purchasing.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 12, 2009 05:52PM)
I wanted to comment briefly on Andrew Gerard's post. At his suggestion, I did skip ahead and watch the Presentation, Explanation, and Phootnotes for "Extraordinary Ability," as this provides an excellent example of what we are talking about here.

This is a very straightforward predicted card at any number effect. As I watched the effect performed, I immediately knew the method. But the key point is that I recognized WHY I immediately knew the method. It was because I had seen hundreds of different card effects, many of which used the same or similar principle. At the same time, I was impressed, as always, by Andrew's knowledge of human psychology and how he was able to lead his spectators, through his manner of presentation, away from the method. I actually thought Andrew's presentational ideas were brilliant.

In the Phootnotes, Paul admitted that the first time he saw the effect, he did not think it would fool anyone. But he was sold after seeing Andrew perform it for real people. With the eye of a magician, Paul immediately spotted the method and was not led astray by the psychological principles employed. His knowledge of magic immunized him.

I would be the first to admit that many methods fall into this category -- apparent to any magician but invisible to lay spectators. The transparency of other methods, however, is guaged not by knowledge of magic but by other factors such as how closely someone is paying attention. Such effects rely exclusively upon strong misdirection and psychology to disguise the methods. In some, such as Mr. Gerard's effect, that psychological misdirection is well thought out, well motivated, and strong. In others, it is not.

I can tell, as I'm sure many of you can as well, when a presentation has been well thought out with all the important moves covered as opposed to a presentation at the opposite extreme. I commend Mr. Gerard for a very well thought out presentation and an excellent effect.
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 06:30PM)
John, out of curiosity, who do you usually perform for and how often?
Message: Posted by: Steve Hook (Feb 12, 2009 07:29PM)
Kissadookie and lumberjohn:

Your arguing / p***ing contest is getting really boring to most of the rest of us. Why don't you two start PM-ing each other?

You're obviously never going to agree and you've both already expressed your ideas at least once, if not two or three times.

Dookie, your last question, "John, out of curiosity, who do you usually perform for and how often?" only proves that you basically just want to win the argument. Enough already.
:rolleyes:

Thanks.
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 12, 2009 07:36PM)
Steve, I was really curious about it. I wasn't even planning on commenting on whatever the answer was to have been. Thanks for your 2 cents though Steve. I thought the last two posts by John was very good by the way and I personally felt that the initial differences were more or less settled with Johns last two posts. Anyhoot, I like how you jumped to your conclusion Steve. Joy.
Message: Posted by: *Bro* (Feb 12, 2009 07:58PM)
Hi guys interesting thread. I just want to clear up some things on backlash 2 there seems to be some talk here about getting caught at the end. To clarify there is no way to get caught! The psychological shake change is just to prolong the moment of their name changing into the yours, you are ahead of the game here and the effect technically is already finished. I have also performed this effect were I don't shake the card at all, the card just jumps back to my pocket I take it out get them to put it between their hands and say my name etc. they simply turn the card over to see that their signature has now changed into yours. You still have a great effect and ending here! However I highly recommend performing it as I did on TA, you will see that even the most observant spectators will say they saw their name change into yours, this to my standards is a stronger way to end, and raises the level of astonishment. If and this has not happened to me as of yet, you lets say started to shake the card and they say "Hey that's not my signature" you say "your right it has changed into mine" this is were you end the effect and give them the card with both signatures. My point being either way you are covered one ending is really strong and the other one even stronger. In my opinion should always go for the stronger ending. Hope that clears up some of the confusion. All great things.
B
Message: Posted by: A.G. (Feb 12, 2009 09:29PM)
I think the shake at the end is really an amazing and clever way to hold someones attention, yet not let them conclude anything until its too late.... this is structured out of real psychology.

AG
Message: Posted by: synth_infusion (Feb 12, 2009 11:28PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-12 22:29, A.G. wrote:
I think the shake at the end is really an amazing and clever way to hold someones attention, yet not let them conclude anything until its too late.... this is structured out of real psychology.

AG
[/quote]
Absolutely, the shake at the end is amazing because no one is excepting their signature to change into yours.
Message: Posted by: VcosNJ (Feb 13, 2009 05:51AM)
I agree. You really have to try this in order to appreciate the thinking with Backlash 2. I smiled when I saw Bro perform this.
Message: Posted by: lumberjohn (Feb 13, 2009 07:14AM)
Dookie,

PM'd you.
Message: Posted by: organicmagician (Feb 13, 2009 12:16PM)
I like the concept of more honest reviews, because some products (like this one) have generated hype that probably could far outstrip the resulting collection. I always wonder if such hype is more or less beneficial. Certainly, a large number of people on this site and others were foaming at the mouth and posting dozens of notes in anticipation. That seems like it can easily generate unrealistic expectations though.

Given the huge amount of material released by Paul Harris and his cohorts, I would expect a set like this to be top notch and to compare favorably to the likes of Michael Ammar's Easy to Master Card series in terms of the quality of the effects. I am providing another, independent review (and I haven't read too much of what others have wrote). I think these reviews are quite useful because I have saved a lot of cash by reading opinions on Magic Café. Its easy enough to read multiple reviews and get an opinion of whether a product is worthwhile or not worth for the cash. Demos are too easily made deceptively and sometimes don't offer a true picture of the what the effect looks like in real life.

So, while I like Paul Harris' work and own most of his books, I don't perform his material all that often. I've read all of his early books, but only skimmed the AOA series since a lot of that stuff is reprints. I was hoping this set would inspire me and showcase a few things I've overlooked. I'll rate each trick out of 5 based on the likelihood of my performing this for laymen. I'm omitting the descriptions of the effect for the most part since that info is available in a lot of other places. I'll also point out in advance that I don't mind changes or sequences lacking context. I usually alter tricks, add or subtract phases, change the handling to suit my needs, etc. I love a great full routine, but I also thoroughly enjoy picking up sequences - bits and pieces to combine for myself.

Disc One

TWILIGHT ANGELS - The same effect as published and marketed. I don't like gaff card effects that involve specially printed cards which don't mimic normal cards. That is to say, tricks that end with the 14 of Spades or the 3 1/2 of Diamonds just don't appeal to me. Spectators may like them - I don't know or care - I just think the answer that occurs to many watching is: "specially printed card + fast fingers". That said, I like this about as much as any card effect using a gaffed card of this nature. I have performed it a few times and gotten good reactions (using a silver lighter). There is definitely something elegant about this effect. Rating: 3/5.

BACKLASH 2 - I don't care for this effect. You could call it a poor man's Dream Card (the Ortiz trick). This would be a great trick for gullible spectators (of which - as we all know, there are many). I wouldn't perform it for anyone that has a knack for figuring out tricks or who is burning your hands. I think for it to be magic, you could show both sides of the each card, when called upon. This feels like a good idea, underdeveloped and overextended. Straight to the circular file for me. Rating: 1/5.

NEW LEAF - Solid trick that can be performed anywhere there are leaves. I feel that this does seem like an effect that would appeal to P.H. as a woodsy guy who spends a lot of time outdoors. But, we all know this of Harris. He likes intimate magic and this seems like a natural fit. While you could perform this under a lot of conditions, I like the idea of performing it where it is first demoed. I love hiking and camping - often vacation in the great outdoors. I'll save this for friends in those conditions. The displays and switches seem to lack some motivation, but no more than most magic tricks. I agree that procedures and movements should be motivated, but I think there is a threshold expectation that in magic, some slightly unusual procedures and moves may come into play. If you could really restore a leaf, you would hold it on your open palm and it heal before your eyes. This is a very effective method in the spectator's hands that doesn't require the ability to actually perform miracles. Rating: 3/5.

CHENG'S CHANGE - I love this because I adore ultra-visual magic without gaffs. It is knacky but not difficult and I was able to do it pretty consistently the first night (with a few hours of practice). I've been fiddling with the micromovements and adjustments to reach 100% consistency, which I expect within a week or two. I like the presentation where the cards are pulled down and snapped into a different five-card hand. It is true that there is no presentation here, nor is this built into a routine, but I think given how easy it is to get into, this could be easily be incorporated into a full presentation. The performer Cheng, who is quite gifted, is very low key and doesn't really do a trick, just a change. But, that doesn't mean I couldn't easily build this into a poker routine. This is meant for strolling since there are angle restrictions that generally require standing while performing the effect. Looks like real magic. Rating: 5/5.

THE BIG TINY - I need to think about this more before I ofter a review, so I'll defer. I wasn't wild about it the first go around, but I think it could be a diamond in the rough. I want to think about presentation and other issues. Rating ?/5.

Overall Review for DISC ONE: I was pleased and its nice to have the Phootnotes for each trick with Paul explaining some of the fine points. As a stand alone DVD, this might...probably is...but isn't clearly worth $30 bucks. I am most likely to perform Cheng's Change. A little tad disappointed, but some good material. I'll review all the Easter eggs later (in a different post). I like the Easter Eggs I've found so far!

Disc Two

LVL$ - I thought this was quite strong. I use LVL and enjoy the reactions I get from performing the original effect very much. I find its always a hit with spectators. To be honest, I never really liked the LVL plot personally because I don't understand why 3 cards out of 10 would jump. The numbers always bothered me. But, that said, spectators do love it and so I perform it regularly as an impromptu gem. This is a prepared version of the same trick with more audience management, for sure, and few extra weird procedures. However, I think the procedures are a small tradeoff for the in-the-face punch of the bill in the pocket at the end. I could see why the spectators went nuts in the demo and while I've only performed this twice, the reaction was quite striking. The ending is so powerful that a lot of the procedural stuff will be wiped out of the spectator's mental impression. But, the procedures are a bit on the screwy side and the set-up is a little annoying. Rating: 4/5.

TUBULAR - Great near impromptu/impromptu illusion. I think the effect is strong, simple and direct. Classic Paul Harris. Nice to see it on the DVDs. I'll be performing this for sure. Rating: 4/5.

CHENG'S RISER - I actually didn't like this quite as much as the first trick by Cheng, but I still really enjoyed the effect. Cheng is a great technician! There are a lot of cons with this illusion: it is difficult, it is quite angle-sensitive and it's a bit dirty. But, that said, I think a lot of people will be performing poor versions of this as some phase of an ambitious card routine. Fewer who spend a lot of time and effort will perform this well and really kill. I would again disagree with the sentiment that this lacks context. This could be easily incorporated into many routines, ACR being only the most obvious example. Very tough to do well, I think. It'll be some time before I try this in front of laymen. But, if I have the skill level, I'll be doing it for sure. Rating: 4/5.

SS2 - I think adding a layer of presentation to this would really make it a strong effect. A lot of P.H. effects work well with his low-key, the-magic-speaks-for-itself style. I'd kick this one up a few notches. A little discrepant during the display, but it'll pass with the vast majority of spectators. While I have performed this a few times now and the reactions are strong, I don't really like the trick personally. I think its because it suffers from the "too perfect" paradox, in part and due to the destroyed card you have to pay for the tranpo. But, I still rate this highly because its easy, looks good and its clever. I also think I'll perform it for certain audiences, despite my personal taste. I think someone else pointed out this was published in a few of his books. Rating: 3/5.

GROWING CARD - I think this is a strong, visual gaffed card effect. That said, it is difficult and a bit dirty. It's fun to practice with and it may be a bit before I perform this since I think a good deal of practice is required. I'll use it though - the effect is strong. Rating: 3/5.

Overall Review for DISC TWO: Well, I was much happier after watching the DVD. A consistent set of powerful pieces of magic. I didn't think any of the tricks were life-affirming, hallelujah discoveries (though I'll have to keep presenting LVL$ to see how crazy spectators go for that ending). But, great effects that will go right into my performances - some after a lengthy practice purgatory.

Other general notes: So, two discs in, I feel good about the purchase so far. I might not have said the same after disc 1, but the second volume was quite impressive. I despise the inability to play the entire disc and the necessity of clicking on menus and sub-menus to play all the content. Seems like a weird oversight. But, otherwise the production values are high, the P.H. spirit is well-captured and I like the main performer, Bro. The Box is beautiful, the props look great and I am enjoying watching the set more than the vast majority of magic DVDs I own.
Message: Posted by: PatrickGregoire (Feb 13, 2009 03:19PM)
I`ve performed Backlash 2 ONCE so far, to my dad, and he`s extremely perceptive. He`s seen me perform stuff to him regularly and he didn`t suspect a thing, didn`t ask for any extra proof, didn`t have any issues with the trick at all. In fact, he said it was one of the better card tricks I`d ever done for him. The ending is killer. I`m positive that it`ll work on everyone else I`ll be performing for as well.

Your comment on how it would look if you could really restore a leaf is based on your assumptions. How the he77 would you know what it would look like?! It pi&&es me off each time someone brings up the too perfect theory or the misses in mentalism or how something would look if you really had powers. If you really had mind reading capacities or psychic intuition, you might never be wrong. If you could really restore a leaf, maybe you`d have to have a proceedure like in New Leaf to restore it. WHO KNOWS?
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 13, 2009 11:15PM)
So... not to start another "war" on this thread but I've picked up my TA today and have just finished watching Backlash 2. So here's my question, HOW is this NOT going to fly right by a spectator? The dirtiness of the effect is all well motivated. The clean up is actually pretty brilliant (I've used a similar idea when I use to use the Wow gimmick, my whole routine was to motivate and apply time misdirection for the gimmick, thus my spectators never asked to see the Wow gimmick at the end of the effect). HOWEvER, if you are not confident in your handling for Backlash 2, I can clearly understand how you may very well get caught. Even if you have the slightest bit of magician guilt and it shows in your handling, your specs has a chance of catching you. Very very very good effect, Backlash 2. There's really no flaws I can see for Backlash 2, even if one was to streamline it even more, there's basically no fat left to trim.

I shall try out Backlash 2 tomorrow. What a brilliant effect, much better than the original (the original was not as smooth and motivated).

By the way, Organicmagician, what exactly is there for the specs to burn your hands and see anything sneaky for Backlash 2? If this is going to tip the workings of th effect, I suggest you PM me and we can share some thoughts on this because it's very clean. Yes, you are left with a dirty deck (that can easily be cleaned up covertly) but I don't see how a person who understands how to order their routines would not be able to easily overcome this (if you don't want to perform a clean up, you should really perform this effect after you've performed other effects before hand which strikes out any doubt in the spectator's mind that you are doing anything sneaky).
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 13, 2009 11:56PM)
Ooooooo. After discussing this with another friend of mines, I realized what the part was that may have made a few of you a little stand offish about Backlash 2. I also figured out why those of you who do not like Backlash 2 should not be apprehensive about it :D

Think about the moment in which the really big discrepancy happens. It happens at the exact moment that the spectator is absolutely floored. Heck, at that point, the trick may as well have been over. The moment is so strong that this discrepancy I find VERY hard to believe will be picked up on even by the keenest of spectators. Another way to explain this would be to think about how the spectator would remember the effect. What we know is there (the awkward moment) is basically thrown out mentally by the spectator, they just won't remember that moment, it's like that moment did not even exist. Yes, it's technically there since we did it, but for the experience of the spectator, it never existed. I'm trying not to give away the effect but if you know Backlash 2 and watched it on the TA video, you should be able to understand what I'm saying here.
Message: Posted by: slyhand (Feb 14, 2009 06:47AM)
Good review Kissadookie. :)
Message: Posted by: organicmagician (Feb 14, 2009 08:09AM)
SPOILER ALERT - Review of Easter Eggs On Discs One and Two


DON'T READ IF YOU WANT TO FIND THEM FOR YOURSELF AND STAY SURPRISED!




Quick note: If you don't like my reviews, I'm happy to explain my opinion if it will be helpful to you. But, I'm not here to argue about personal opinion. If you love something I don't - great! Hopefully its a gem that few others really work on. If you can't take an honest opinion - don't read mine!

Also: I loved the bonuses and thought they added a ton of value to the disc. I could only find around half of the bonuses the old-fashioned way, so my list is complete because I cheated and used my computer to find all the extras on the disc (after I tried searching on my DVR). My rating is based on the fun factor and whether I might use it in the future (or if the interview was helpful/informative).






DISC ONE BONUSES

BUTCHERED BUNNY - A really fun demo by Paul Harris of an old Robert Neale origami bar joke thing. You fold/smash a dollar into a single origami piece with a little bunny popping out of a small top hat. Fun and clever, though looks like this would take a pretty nice time investment. Rating: 4/5.

SON OF CELLOPHANE SURPRISE - Daniel Garcia teaches an impromptu harmed/restored cigarette case illusion built for the bars. If only there were indoor places that still permitted smoking in America... Good trick, though since I long ago put down cigarettes, I'll probably forget it and never use it. Rating: 3/5.

BLAINE INTERVIEW #1 - Great interview with one of those magicians everyone loves to hate. A lot of insight into his performance style. Good interview. Rating: 4/5.

JEFF'S JUMP - I love it!!!! This is a flourishy kind of move that's not all that difficult. A lot of fun to play with, though perhaps rather limited in application. But, its fun and I'll probably do it at the card table if I can completely nail it. Rating: 4.5/5.

PAUL Harris INTERVIEW #1 - This was more like a quick-hitting Paul Harris quote, filmed in response to a question at a magic convention. Still fun. Rating: 2/5.


DISC TWO BONUSES

IMMACULATE BREAKTHROUGH - Transferred from VHS and available in a number of printed sources, this is PH performing/teaching one of his classics, where the deck looks to appear outside a closed card box, then sink back inside. This effect is not for me and never has been, though I'm sure some people could do great things with it. An interesting example of PH thinking. Rating: 2/5.

BIZARRE TWIST - I like this simple little trick from a class PH VHS. Its fun to see younger Paul Harris interlaced with his current self. I'll probably try this myself and I like the idea. One card changes color when sandwiched between two others, with repeating phases. There is a little slow-mo instant replay of PH doing his Instant Replay move after the trick. I found this really helpful in polishing my Instant Replay move. You can see exactly what his hands do to effect this tougher move. Rating: 4/5.

CHUCK MARTINEZ INTERVIEW - Solid interview with this early PH publisher and friend. Fun to watch. Rating: 4/5.

CONJUNCTION - A feat of paper engineering by Joshua Quinn that allows you (through a lot of folding/tearing) to create two-interlinked loops of business card. It is quite the paradox looking at one of them and the work behind it is substantial. A fun freebie! Pretty impractical for me, but brilliant. Rating: 3/5.


Final notes on Disc ONE and TWO: After the bonuses are factored in, I think these volumes provide a considerable value, despite my initial skepticism. So far, great. I should have also said earlier that Bro is really likable and a solid performer. Its easy to learn from him and a lot of interesting presentational angles are the result of his efforts.












SPOILER ALERT - REVIEW OF BONUSES/EASTER EGGS FROM TRUE ASTONISHMENTS ABOVE!
Message: Posted by: evolve629 (Feb 14, 2009 09:55AM)
Wow, I can't believe Joshua Quinn's Conjunction is included free in the TA. I had the booklet that explained the working when it first came out. I know Penguin Magic now is selling J. Quinn's Conjunction as a DVD. I'd love to see a video explanation of the working of this beautiful linking cards effect...
Message: Posted by: emyers99 (Feb 14, 2009 03:15PM)
It was nice to see a video explanation of Conjunction. I have the manuscript but it's much easier to follow on dvd. The same goes for Osmosis which was also a great easter egg.
Message: Posted by: hdragonetta (Feb 15, 2009 12:18PM)
I'd also like to recommend Chad Long's Easter Egg of a Shuffling Lesson performed by Wayne Houchin. This is practically a self worker, but very powerful. It has the spectator being fooled without being made a fool.Nice.
Message: Posted by: PatrickGregoire (Feb 15, 2009 05:23PM)
I don't like it due to its length and lack of entertainment value. It's a long and boring trick. I know it depends on the performer but even McBride's presentation wasn't enough to make me like it.
Message: Posted by: swiss_magician (Feb 15, 2009 06:36PM)
Few remarks concerning both first discs:

Some effects like "New Leaf" remind me of some of the 'Lifesavers' from Michael Weber: not the "Anywhere, Anytime, for Anyone, under any weather, with a borrowed deck" (AAAAWBD) kind of effect; More like a real (or should I say surreal?) moment of astonishment to perform when context and situation allows you to.

in general, many of the effects presented in these DVDs are very material consuming: signed cards, torn cards, folded cards,... and the winner of that category is: The Big Tiny :)
yep, you are shattering a whole deck for the effect. That is why I would really keep it for the times when a topic of conversation can lead to the effect in a logical manner. Once again, not the kind of impromptu effect that will leave your deck as good as new at the end, but the one you want to use 'a propos' and that can really make the difference the day you will perform it.

for an almost impromptu effect of the "AAA..AWBD" type, check out Ripped and Fryed :P

Cheers,

M.
Message: Posted by: PatrickGregoire (Feb 15, 2009 09:35PM)
I cannot understand how everyone is claiming that the Big Tiny ruins a deck of cards... It simply puts ink on one edge of the cards... Little tiny dots... You could even do it twice with the same deck and STILL be able to use the deck perfectly well. How is it that it renders the deck useless? Even borrowing the deck and performing it with their deck will leave them with a deck that they can still play with and you lose absolutely nothing. I can't see how it's a big deal to have some ink on the edges of the cards. Technically, you can perform 4 times with one deck, since you can use each edge, although the two smaller ones won't have any space for most names.
Message: Posted by: *Bro* (Feb 16, 2009 12:33AM)
The Big Tiny has been my closer for all formal close up shows for the past year. Its the perfect ending at the end of the eve when your deck is getting a bit beat up and your shy 5-6 cards from other effects were you may have given away or destroyed the cards etc. I really cant talk enough about the enormous reactions this new PH effect generates! Go out and try this a few times, you will be immediately addicted.
B
Message: Posted by: A.G. (Feb 16, 2009 06:55PM)
Bro is THE close up worker in Vancouver, and when he tips this is what he closes his show with, that's important information not to be read lightly...


Bro is a corporate worker!


best AG
Message: Posted by: Algebra2 (Feb 16, 2009 09:41PM)
More full reviews like this one please, thanks.
Message: Posted by: Chris K (Feb 17, 2009 03:15PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-15 18:23, PatrickGregoire wrote:
I don't like it due to its length and lack of entertainment value. It's a long and boring trick. I know it depends on the performer but even McBride's presentation wasn't enough to make me like it.
[/quote]

This is going to border on blasphemy to some of you. Tough luck being you. This is my opinion.

I thought McBride's presentation was a huge step back from the basic effect and was immensely lacking in entertainment value. He decided that a predictable finale beats an unpredictable finale and trys to rationalize it. His rationalization is weak and I think his effect suffers for it. His attempt to bring it all together is contrived and offers the third climax (and weakest of them all). You are supposed to grow your climaxes, not decrease them to the point of being simple puzzles.

The strength of The Shuffling Lesson, for anybody who actually performs it, isn't that you (the performer) ends up with four of a kind. That is expected. Anything less, in fact, and the audience would be disappointed for/in you.

The strength lies in the fact that a spectator does. A spectator who took a random number of cards, shuffled, cut, moved cards around, and dealt them out. This is the point of amazement. The performer showing his cards afterwards, even if they are a "higher" four of a kind, is a let-down. Then to finish it off as McBride did...

Man, I was literally on the edge of my seat when I saw Jeff McBride was going to perform one of my favorite effects of all time. I was disgusted with what I saw. Performances like this make me understand why people don't like this effect. It's not a stretch to say I hated every element McBride added to this effect. I really did.

And I really like and respect Jeff McBride. My only guess is that somebody like him has an issue with letting the spectator be the star of an effect, but who knows, certainly not me.

Terrible, terrible, terrible.

Lem
Message: Posted by: bugjack (Feb 17, 2009 03:46PM)
While it didn't enrage me as much as you, I also don't like the presentation. I am less of a fan, though, so for me the repetition of that line about the spectator controlling the game and all the high-fives were enough to turn me off.
Message: Posted by: Roland78 (Feb 17, 2009 03:58PM)
I have not seen all the DVDs yet, so I still haven't found all the hidden easter eggs... but I don't understand what you are talking about in the posts about Jeff McBride and Shuffling Lessons. Is it an easter egg I still haven't seen, or are you talking about another video?
I have seen the Houchin video and explanation, and I liked it a lot. With the right presentation (like the one made by Wayne) the effect is absolutely wonderful.

Dave
Message: Posted by: bugjack (Feb 17, 2009 04:10PM)
It is an Easter egg. There are two "Shuffling Lesson" presentations and explanations on the set.
Message: Posted by: Roland78 (Feb 17, 2009 05:21PM)
Thanks bugjack. I'll look for it :)
Message: Posted by: nimrod (Feb 17, 2009 06:35PM)
I've started with disc 2 and was very disappointed with all the effects.
LVL$ was the biggest disappointment. It's a step back from the original routine (which is much cleaner, impormptu, and more impressive). I was expecting a third phase and instead I got a different, weaker, second phase.
The Growing Card is none sense. I demand a gimmick card effect to be much stronger and at least to have a plot of some kind.
SS got a nice presentation and is the only ray of light in this disc.
I hope the other discs will be better.
And there is no excuse for putting only 5 effects on one DVD, surely not this kind of effects. I miss the ETMCM days.

Nimrod , Israel

p.s. Paul Harris was my idol during my close up days. I really want the legend to live on. I'm going to see disc 1 now.
Message: Posted by: fridoliina89 (Feb 17, 2009 08:15PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-17 19:35, nimrod wrote:
I've started with disc 2 and was very disappointed with all the effects.
LVL$ was the biggest disappointment. It's a step back from the original routine (which is much cleaner, impormptu, and more impressive). I was expecting a third phase and instead I got a different, weaker, second phase.
The Growing Card is none sense. I demand a gimmick card effect to be much stronger and at least to have a plot of some kind.
SS got a nice presentation and is the only ray of light in this disc.
I hope the other discs will be better.
And there is no excuse for putting only 5 effects on one DVD, surely not this kind of effects. I miss the ETMCM days.

Nimrod , Israel

p.s. Paul Harris was my idol during my close up days. I really want the legend to live on. I'm going to see disc 1 now.
[/quote]

I don't think people should judge the effects so quickly without performing them, I have been trying out the effects and I have got AMAZING reactions from them and people really do like them.

I remember when I was a kid and only performed for friends and family and school etc and only had a few magic books and could only get new books for christmas or at my birthday, so since I had a limited audience so I had to learn new effects when I was going to performe for them and when I ran out of effects that I did like I had to try some effects that I did not really like and I often found that most effects that I did not like aswell as other magicians got the best reactions, so I think its hard for a magician to really tell if its a good effect without performing it.

Even now I often find myself performing a effect that I think is amazing and the respons is just a "Meh.. Cool I guess." and then I might try an effect that I don't think will get good reactions at all and people almost fall of their chairs of amazment when I'm done performing it.

And for the :

"And there is no excuse for putting only 5 effects on one DVD, surely not this kind of effects. I miss the ETMCM days."

Even if Paul wanted he could not put more effects on each dvd, if you put it in your computer it will show you that the dvd´s are almost full, there are some bonus effects and interviews on the dvds aswell, also HD video and music takes allot of space so the dvds are packed.
Message: Posted by: Jay Buchanan (Feb 17, 2009 09:26PM)
I think we should remember that the "spectator" that Jeff was performing for wasn't just any normal spectator, and this wasn't your normal performance setting either.
With that said, it wasn't my favorite effect on the DVD's by a long shot ;) Just saying, we should probably take it in context.

As far as LVL goes, I have been performing it for my audiences sine the 80's. I do it in almost every situation and setting that I perform in. I've done it in restaurants, clubs, banquets, cabaret, stage, living rooms, back yards, etc... it is one of my all time favorite cards across. This new version (LVL$) is killer for me and my audiences, it will replace my old version as often as I can swing it. There will be times where I still perform the old version, but if the opportunity arises then I will seize it and simply stun them with LVL$. This really does take LVL from a great card routine into the miracle status. I've done this now for several groups and none of them can reverse engineer this... try it and you will see. if they ever for a second go for the what they feel must be the logical reasoning for the finale, they immediately cancel it out with their own memory of something that happened during the routine (if you have done it correctly). They are left with zero explanation for what happened.
Message: Posted by: nimrod (Feb 18, 2009 11:02AM)
Watched Disc 2.

TWILIGHT ANGELS: Mediocre gimmicked card effect.

BACKLASH 2: a nice presentation for an effect which in itself is not so good or clean or impromptu.

NEW LEAF: none sense.

CHENG’S CHANGE: not my kind of magic.

THE BIG TINY: Paul Gertner’s “Unshuffled” is 10 times stronger. This is a step backward from the original.

This doesn't look good. Again only 4 effects, and I don't agree with the lame excuse that there is not enough space on the disc. I can show you DVDs with 10 effects on them. This DVD should have at least 6-7 effects on it. Right now the first 2 discs are a rip off for that price. The truth must be said.
Going for disc 3.

Nimrod , Israel

p.s. Wayne Houchin is the surprise of this disc. He knows how to deliver an effect. He is very accurate, clear, and has the ability to create the "magic moment".
Message: Posted by: Daren (Feb 18, 2009 01:28PM)
Nimrod, I get the impression you aint gonna like the rest of the set if you do not like the 1st two, I give you an idea don't bother watching the other 7 it will give us magicians anoter person less performing some of this stuff, what sort of effects do you like??
Message: Posted by: Connman1 (Feb 18, 2009 01:38PM)
I prefer the original leaf over the New Leaf on TA, but to say it's nonsense (which is what you probably tried to write) is really not fair. Have you tried it? Go out and do it for one person and see if they aren't impressed. At the very least they will thank you for showing them a cool trick and brightening their day. Don't put a trick down just because you don't like the methods or whatever you disagree with. Personally I think its a fine little miracle.
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 18, 2009 02:17PM)
I'm shocked that he/she felt that Twilight Angels was mediocre. It is such a killer.
Message: Posted by: PatrickGregoire (Feb 18, 2009 04:28PM)
Well, and I'm just guessing here, it's because he said he watched disk 2. That sounds like he just finished watching disk 2, meaning he didn't perform any of it. That means he could be wrong about the effectiveness of the effects contained on that volume. I think complaining that a 9 dvd set with lots of bonuses doesn't have enough effects on each dvd is boarish. You end up with 40-45 effects. Unless you're complaining about the environment and waste of dvds, I don't understand your issues. The reasons for such a limitation of material on each dvd has already been pointed out and it's a fact that the dvds are pretty much full with what they have on them (like someone mentioned, check them on your computer). You mention you have dvds with at least 10 effects on them. Is the video quality comparable to TA? Do they contain easter eggs? Are there any additional notes to each effect that add an extra 2-5 minutes for each effect? Think of the big picture, you've received many effects. It doesn't matter how many effects are on each dvd. You got them all. It's quantity and quality.
Message: Posted by: Jason Messina (Feb 18, 2009 05:04PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 12:02, nimrod wrote:
Watched Disc 2.

This doesn't look good. Again only 4 effects, and I don't agree with the lame excuse that there is not enough space on the disc. I can show you DVDs with 10 effects on them. This DVD should have at least 6-7 effects on it. Right now the first 2 discs are a rip off for that price. The truth must be said.
Going for disc 3.

[/quote]

Well if you save your money, for $55 you can buy 4 tricks here:
http://www.magicproshop.com/shalosh-stage-work-nimrod-harel-book-p-11001.html

Which, at 62 pages, I'm sure is a much better value.....
Message: Posted by: fridoliina89 (Feb 18, 2009 05:24PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 12:02, nimrod wrote:

TWILIGHT ANGELS: Mediocre gimmicked card effect.


[/quote]


What is so mediocre about it? I cant understand how anyone can think its mediocre.

I think its a beautifull effect and it gets great reactions as you can see on the dvd and people does like it.
Just because a magician is not impressed by it for whatever reason it might be, not a new cool method etc, does not mean that its a mediocre effect.

The beautifull thing with this effect is that it is so simple and all you have to do is to present it.
Message: Posted by: nimrod (Feb 18, 2009 05:41PM)
I've never been wrong about the effectiveness of an effect I'm seeing. I don't need to go and try something just to see if it's for me. If I would do it with every DVD I watch I would do crappy magic 95% of my time.
I stand by my review: the first 2 DVDs are disappointing. I can't help but compare them to each of Harris past videos and frankly I miss the good old days in terms of value for your money.

Nimrod , Israel
Message: Posted by: kissdadookie (Feb 18, 2009 06:53PM)
Ok, good for you nimrod. You can go sell your set, burn it, use them as coasters, use them for arts and craft, whatever. I don't have a issue with negative reviews but apparently they are getting sillier and sillier.
Message: Posted by: fridoliina89 (Feb 18, 2009 07:15PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 18:41, nimrod wrote:
I've never been wrong about the effectiveness of an effect I'm seeing. I don't need to go and try something just to see if it's for me. If I would do it with every DVD I watch I would do crappy magic 95% of my time.
I stand by my review: the first 2 DVDs are disappointing. I can't help but compare them to each of Harris past videos and frankly I miss the good old days in terms of value for your money.

Nimrod , Israel
[/quote]

Since you are saying that it is a mediocre effect and you are never wrong about how effective an effect is by watching it you must be right.

I heard about a guy called Paul Harris or something, this is actually one of his favourite effects and he thinks it amazing, can you belive that? I feel bad for him everytime I go to bed.

I also heard about some guy called David Blaine, he hires paul to work on his show on which airs on national Tv, probably as a personal trainer because hes so incredibly strong and Baline wants to reach the same fitnes level as Paul, not because hes one of the most creative and talanted magicians of our time who really understands magic, because if that was what people were hireing him for it would be mediocre magic all over the place.
Message: Posted by: nimrod (Feb 19, 2009 02:53AM)
Stop being offended like little girls and start writing reviews of your own.

Nimrod

p.s. BLaine, Blaine , Blaine.. come on, I'm still looking for one effect from this set that appeared on Blain's specials. Paul is a genius. I'll be the first to admit it. I'm not reviewing Paul, I'm reviewing the effects in this set. The first 2 discs are nothing special.
Message: Posted by: pepka (Feb 19, 2009 03:30AM)
Everyone is entitled to their opinion. I didn't bother writing a review because so many got to it before I even received my set. I did tell a few friends that there is a pretty wide mix of stuff on here. Stuff I'll use every night, stuff I'll never use, and stuff I'll play with, and maybe use if the right occasion comes up. But I have to say that Twilight Angels is anything but mediocre. If you think it is, my guess is you don't perform for real people in the real world, (for real money.) I'm a guy who likes my half-passes, pinky breaks, Elmsley counts and faro shuffles. When Twilight Angels was released I didn't think it was a big deal. However, considering I got this set a few days before Valentine's day I took that as a sign. I did it for a few tables all weekend, (only had 4 cards) and the reactions were stellar. Every table gave at least a $20 tip. To us it may not be earth shattering, but to a layman, it's very powerful, and in my book, THAT'S who matters.
Message: Posted by: jrl41090 (Feb 19, 2009 03:57AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 18:04, Jason Messina wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 12:02, nimrod wrote:
Watched Disc 2.

This doesn't look good. Again only 4 effects, and I don't agree with the lame excuse that there is not enough space on the disc. I can show you DVDs with 10 effects on them. This DVD should have at least 6-7 effects on it. Right now the first 2 discs are a rip off for that price. The truth must be said.
Going for disc 3.

[/quote]

Well if you save your money, for $55 you can buy 4 tricks here:
http://www.magicproshop.com/shalosh-stage-work-nimrod-harel-book-p-11001.html

Which, at 62 pages, I'm sure is a much better value.....
[/quote]

Wow. Nimrod has officially been shown up. I think it's about time people stop trying to cause controversy, and just accept the situation for what it is. I sure hope Nimrod doesn't show himself to be more of a hypocrite than he already is...
Message: Posted by: jrl41090 (Feb 19, 2009 04:01AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 19:53, kissdadookie wrote:
Ok, good for you nimrod. You can go sell your set, burn it, use them as coasters, use them for arts and craft, whatever. I don't have a issue with negative reviews but apparently they are getting sillier and sillier.
[/quote]

I know it is five AM here in Ohio, but your comment simply made me laugh out loud. Whether or not it is because of a lack of sleep our just your humorous and witty personality, this comment brightened my day. I think I will convert my set into a sturdy and visually appealing storage device for my Gamecube. Thanks Paul!
Message: Posted by: nimrod (Feb 19, 2009 05:04AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-19 04:57, jrl41090 wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 18:04, Jason Messina wrote:
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 12:02, nimrod wrote:
Watched Disc 2.

This doesn't look good. Again only 4 effects, and I don't agree with the lame excuse that there is not enough space on the disc. I can show you DVDs with 10 effects on them. This DVD should have at least 6-7 effects on it. Right now the first 2 discs are a rip off for that price. The truth must be said.
Going for disc 3.

[/quote]

Well if you save your money, for $55 you can buy 4 tricks here:
http://www.magicproshop.com/shalosh-stage-work-nimrod-harel-book-p-11001.html

Which, at 62 pages, I'm sure is a much better value.....
[/quote]

Wow. Nimrod has officially been shown up. I think it's about time people stop trying to cause controversy, and just accept the situation for what it is. I sure hope Nimrod doesn't show himself to be more of a hypocrite than he already is...
[/quote]

I think it's time people will be entitled to say what they think. I'm not trying to cause controversy, on the contrary: I'm a huge fan of Harris, I read AOA several times and know by heart all his previous DVDs/videos. For the fourth time: The first 2 Discs are a step back from what I was used to get from Paul, in amount and quality. This is my honest opinion.
And don't mix mentalism stage pieces with close up magic effects. Apples and Oranges. But lets not get this thread slip to that discussion. Instead of reviewing the reviewer review the effects (as pepka did).


Nimrod , Israel
Message: Posted by: pepka (Feb 19, 2009 05:21AM)
I'm not trying to cause any controversy here Nimrod, but I'm curious. Have you tried any of those effects which you think are weak? Also, I'm curious who you perform for, friends and family or strangers? You will get a much different reaction from your wife who knows you just got a big wooden magic box than a regular layman.
Message: Posted by: nimrod (Feb 19, 2009 07:14AM)
I didn't say you caused controversy. Actually I mentioned you as someone who did a positive thing when you reviewed the effect instead of reviewing me..
And I perform for living.

Nimrod

p.s. As for Twilight Angels, it is way too small for the venues I'm working (even when I'm doing close up). It's a cute little trick. Beside being too small it's flaws are that it's not impromptu and you have to say goodbye to the gimmick every time you perform (it's a must giveaway). 8/10 and I'm feeling generous here (and lets not forget this is not a new effect).
Message: Posted by: M Sini (Feb 19, 2009 08:12AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 12:02, nimrod wrote:
Watched Disc 2.

TWILIGHT ANGELS: Mediocre gimmicked card effect.

BACKLASH 2: a nice presentation for an effect which in itself is not so good or clean or impromptu.

NEW LEAF: none sense.

CHENG’S CHANGE: not my kind of magic.

THE BIG TINY: Paul Gertner’s “Unshuffled” is 10 times stronger. This is a step backward from the original.

This doesn't look good. Again only 4 effects, and I don't agree with the lame excuse that there is not enough space on the disc. I can show you DVDs with 10 effects on them. This DVD should have at least 6-7 effects on it. Right now the first 2 discs are a rip off for that price. The truth must be said.
Going for disc 3.

Nimrod , Israel

p.s. Wayne Houchin is the surprise of this disc. He knows how to deliver an effect. He is very accurate, clear, and has the ability to create the "magic moment".
[/quote]

I'm all for reviews but I'm curious as to how this review is supposed to help anyone make a decision on whether to buy the set.

Twilight Angels: most know this one already

Backlash 2: you say it's a nice presentation but not a good effect; Does it play well or not?

New Leaf: I guess you mean nonsense.

Cheng's Change: Again, saying 'not my kind of magic' isn't too helpful

The Big Tiny: Finally a semi-decent review

As for the number of effects on the disc, there are actually 7 if you include the cookies.

I'm curious as well as to whether you have performed any of these effects or if anyone has. I always like to hear how things play out in actual performance. I personally have only performed the Big Tiny once so far for a crowd of about 6 and it played really well.

PS- Just read your review on disc 5. Nice review.
Message: Posted by: K_B_G (Feb 19, 2009 08:48AM)
Jeez like, some of you people are a bunch of whinny little school boys throwing your toys out cot. Thanks for the honest review and I will keep it in mind. As a working magician for real people I understand where you are coming from in terms of some of your judgments. Many of these effects seem to fall into the new "street magic" type category which constrain you to performing one effect due to certain conditions that require things outside of an actual performing dynamic. So many people get caught up in the whole hype that it blinds their judgement. I'm sure many of your that are "arguing" right now without even having the set in hand or will probably never go on to perform even a single effect. Your just arguing for the sake of it.

People need to stop worshipping people. Its hilarious, and that's anti Paul Harris philosophy. I love Paul, and yes he is a creative cgenius, but lets not all go and give him a blo**jo* now. I mean he is just a man. You people squabble over this nonsense and it makes our community into a joke filled with politicians. Get out from behind your computers, and everyone have a little more self respect and respect for others valid opinions instead of all having to get into one massive argument. Pathetic!
Message: Posted by: Connman1 (Feb 19, 2009 10:25AM)
^
hahahahahahahahahahhahahaha
Message: Posted by: disgruntledpuffin (Feb 21, 2009 03:37PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-18 12:02, nimrod wrote:
Watched Disc 2.

TWILIGHT ANGELS: Mediocre gimmicked card effect.


Nimrod , Israel


[/quote]

Yep, and water to wine was a mediocre liquid effect.

If moving a printed angel (an inherently immovable object) on the back of a playing card is something that you consider mediocre, I stand in total awe of the strength of your repertoire and can only hope that I live long enough to see you perform.

Kind regards,

Jack
Message: Posted by: Nathan Pain (Feb 21, 2009 03:50PM)
Nimrod has a ton of videos online...While I may not agree with his posts, he is certainly a VERY famous performer in his country.

Nathan
Message: Posted by: smith83 (Feb 21, 2009 06:12PM)
The new organic element to Twilight Angels was something I never considered. I will pull out my old effect again
Message: Posted by: swiss_magician (Feb 22, 2009 01:18PM)
Off topic digression:
Looking for Nimrod Harel's performances on youtube I soon found this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3ce6cBz-xs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uagj-BGDTXo
from a magician I do not know.
Funny to see these effects popularized by DB and DB (respectively David Blaine and Derren Brown ) on israelian TV.

Of course he has got some original material as well
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltuIyncP5JU

Still, I haven't managed to find Nimrod videos(I have trouble reading Hebrew)
. If anyone can help...

Cheers,

M.
Message: Posted by: Review King (Feb 22, 2009 02:19PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-19 04:30, pepka wrote:
To us it may not be earth shattering, but to a layman, it's very powerful, and in my book, THAT'S who matters.
[/quote]

VERY well said. It's what it's all about!
Message: Posted by: Nathan Pain (Feb 22, 2009 02:35PM)
M,

There is a topic where Nimrod posted a link to his video page...

The page is all in Hebrew, but just like youtube...click and play.

I do not have the link...try searching.

Nathan
Message: Posted by: smith83 (Feb 22, 2009 07:06PM)
LOL. Israel must have some horrible magicians if Nimrod is the best they can do. Oh wait, they have Uri Geller, too. My bad.
Message: Posted by: burst (Feb 22, 2009 07:36PM)
I don't see the point in bashing people, or even an entire culture.

I really love Twilight Angels, Backlash 2, and the entire set in all honesty. There probably isn't one thing on here that I won't perform at some point. If someone else doesn't like certain effects, or even the entire set, fine with me. Different strokes for different folks, or so I've heard.

Also, it means one less person performing some of the material. I'm comfortable with that.
Message: Posted by: disgruntledpuffin (Feb 24, 2009 04:22PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-21 16:50, Nathan Pain wrote:
Nimrod has a ton of videos online...While I may not agree with his posts, he is certainly a VERY famous performer in his country.

Nathan
[/quote]

I cannot see why that matters.
The masked Magician is a very famous magician in this country. I do not agree with his views either.

Kind regards,

Jack
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Mar 7, 2009 10:55PM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-22 14:18, swiss_magician wrote:
Off topic digression:
Looking for Nimrod Harel's performances on youtube I soon found this:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z3ce6cBz-xs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uagj-BGDTXo
from a magician I do not know.
Funny to see these effects popularized by DB and DB (respectively David Blaine and Derren Brown ) on israelian TV.

Of course he has got some original material as well
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltuIyncP5JU

Still, I haven't managed to find Nimrod videos(I have trouble reading Hebrew)
. If anyone can help...

Cheers,

M.
[/quote]

My best friend and mentor Chet Lowe used to do a version of that last pool table trick many years ago. He died at 77 many years ago. So much for new and original, lol.

ACE
Message: Posted by: Stucky (Mar 8, 2009 05:36AM)
[quote]
On 2009-02-11 11:40, lumberjohn wrote:
BACKLASH 2: I didn’t really like this one. There are numerous discrepancies throughout and it seemed extremely obvious to me what was going on.
[/quote]

I believe this to be one of the better effects on the discs I have seen, however it suffers from trying too hard. I think the effect of a card jumping back and forth is grand. I think the changing signature is a tad too much, however with proper justification it COULD play well in a full routine later.

Instead of the hackneyed reversed card signature "Vanishing" off the card I would simply vanish the card VISUALLY back into my pocket.
Message: Posted by: Acecardician (Mar 8, 2009 03:47PM)
Lumberjohn: Are you the short guy with the beard or the tall guy with the hair?
I always wonder when people post pics with 2 people in them, sometimes it is hard to tell who you are, lol

ACE