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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Dvd, Video tape, Audio tape & Compact discs. » » True Astonishments Disks 1 & 2: Full Review (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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Steve Hook
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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.
Like Bonnie Raitt said, "I miss Little Feat more than I miss being 8 years old." Thanks for the concerts + recordings, Lowell, Richie, and Paul!
kissdadookie
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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.
*Bro*
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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
A.G.
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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
synth_infusion
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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

Absolutely, the shake at the end is amazing because no one is excepting their signature to change into yours.
VcosNJ
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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.
lumberjohn
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Dookie,

PM'd you.
organicmagician
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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.
PatrickGregoire
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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?
kissdadookie
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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).
kissdadookie
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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 Smile

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.
slyhand
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Good review Kissadookie. Smile
I am getting so tired of slitting the throats of people who say that I am a violent psychopath.

Alec
organicmagician
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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!
evolve629
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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...
One hundred percent of the shots you don't take don't go in - Wayne Gretzky
My favorite part is putting the gaffs in the spectators hands...it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling inside! - Bob Kohler
emyers99
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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.
hdragonetta
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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.
PatrickGregoire
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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.
swiss_magician
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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 Smile
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 Smile

Cheers,

M.
PatrickGregoire
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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.
*Bro*
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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
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