Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Mind Mysteries Too Vol 6 -- this is too long

"Something different" is what Mr Osterlind says he'll start the first set with, which is three signed cards to impossible locations. (Miracle Flying Cards being its title.) What makes this really effective, is that it becomes more and more impossible as each location is revealed. Here is a principle that we'd do well to absorb - to go from the believeable to the unlikely to the impossible. Thus will the impossible become, at least, believeable in context even while the mind is reeling. (The 4th Superman movie - the first with Chris Reeve - used this principle to get to an outrageous climax.) Unlike typical card magic, the choosing of the cards Once again, Osterlind blurs the line between mentalism and magic; perhaps he'd prefer the term "mysterian"? Though I don't think he's offended when some say he doesn't do "pure mentalism," whatever he's doing seems pure to his audiences -- and I get the same reactions when I perform his material.

Spirit Writing on Card invokes a thought-of shape onto a card - as a matter of fact, the shape is burned into the card. At first, one thinks he might actually be burning that shape with his lighter, but the reveal shows *that* wasn't the case. As a matter of fact, it's only when some of the burn marks are wiped away that the shape becomes clear. Nicely done, easy to do, but pay attention to the presentation - it makes the difference between real mystery and "ho-hum." (You're getting tired of hearing me stress presentation, aren't you?)

As a throwaway, as this is beginning, he abruptly demonstrates a mastery over fire as he's beginning this routine. He *just does it* as if it's something he doesn't even think about. This is how a real magician/mentalist/mysterian (? I need a new word.) would treat the physical world, and it sharply makes him an "other" in the audience's mind, even while they "know" that he's just a normal mortal. Well, they *think* they know this; there have been too many times when even *my* audiences have been unsure.

(From time to time, I abruptly move from "Richard does this" to "What happens when I perform this." My reasoning is that these are *instructional* videos and we are interested in how well they'll teach us to perform these effects.)

Our next effect could be considered a hypnotic effect as well as a PK thing. It's Multiple Key Bending, and it happense in the hands of an audience member who seems to be hypnotised into feeling the keys actually breathing in her hands, and that she's unable to unclasp her fingers. I'm no hypnotist, and I've convinced people that the same thing is happening. Of course, when she opens her hands, several keys are bent and she actually felt them bending at the time. And - oh boy! - he's able to show, during the explanation, how a potential disaster can actually increase the intensity of this effect!

We saw Richard perform the classic Clip Line on the Easy to Master Mental Miracles DVDs, and we go into the next clip wondering if the classic routine has been improved beyond its need. I don't think so. There are now opportunities for the audience to choose between at least two different clippings, and then to choose either side of the chosen clipping. The empowerment of the audience seems to increase the mystery here, and makes the prediction seem even more miraculous. Knowing the original, it still looks incredibly impossible. Richard points out that one should choose this or the original, based on the audience and the situation of the performance. Either will produce audible gasps; this version works with the more attentive and bright audience.

If you didn't buy *Making Real Magic* the book, you didn't read Osterlind's excellent introduction to the explanation of Amazing Memory Demonstration, in which he states that you perform this effect by *really doing it*. The audience shouts out 20 different items, with details. (Not just a car, for instance, but a car of particular make and colour.) He (and you, if you choose to learn this) not only plays back the list, but can remember any individual item (if they ask for #17, you'll tell them #17) and finishes by relating the entire list *backwards* - AND states whether each item has already been called and checked off.

To further stun us during the explanation, he playfully relates that this comes from Corinda and we should have been studying the basics.

And now I mourn, for Richard demonstrates and teaches StenoESP. Well, one version of it, at least. This is SUCH a powerful routine, and has been SO successful when I've performed it, that I truly mourn that it's out in the open now. He published it in one of his books, which is always a perfect way to hide a good routine from magicians and mentalists. It's simple to see and comprehend. The mentalist predicts and/or mindreads thoughts of one, two, three, and/or the entire audience. Though this can be also done with a steno pad, Richard demonstrates the version using spiral-bound index cards. I have performed this with as few as one and as many as 30+ people, and it has never once failed to astound. And I can't think of how often I've been approached afterwards and asked if I were truly psychic. (Curse me for my honesty! I could have answered "How much is it worth to you?")

What's the difference between a card magician throwing away cards and still having those cards, and a mentalist doing the same thing? I don't know. Maybe you'll say a mentalist doesn't even do such a thing. But I don't think Osterlind's audience makes such a distinction (and I'll have to try this) when he performs Out of Hand and describes a terrible predicament he once "had." It's a funny story, and shows the dilemma an actual psychic would have with real life. And he starts out realizing that, during a poker game, he's dealt himself five aces. He gets rid of one. He still has the same five aces. He gets rid of another. He still has the same five aces. This goes on and on and on, and his frustration level grows. Somehow, he ends up with a Royal Flush in spades. This is a nice turn on the Magician in Trouble and a different "throw one away, still have all the cards" routine. This is more of good old regular magic than mentalism, but he still gets away with it. I'll probably try this at some point, because it looks like so much fun!

Richard then chooses to have a little fun with a magician in the audience. Industrial Strength Link is a variation on the spring-on-ring routine, this time using a coat hanger and not being the old spring-on-ring routine. In short, the audience gets much amusement from the magician who knows spring-on-ring and then finds himself befuddled. It could easily become a mentalism routine by claiming to cloud the mind of the helper. You might not have opportunity to pull it on a fellow magician, but oh BOY is it funny when you can!

Now *here's* something which looks like you're controlling your audience member. A couple of what may have once been "betchas" are combined into Coin Snatch, in which you literally grab a coin from their palm before they can close their fingers. (You start out underneath their hand.) And then you grab a coin off a table before they can, even though they're just a couple of inches away, and you're more than several feet away. Don't use these as effects on their own; they make great change-of-pace effects between other routines.

Card Warp gets turned on its ear with Original Inside Out. This deserves a backstory developed for it, because it's a very visual impossibility. You fold a card into quarters. It visibly turns inside out. To stop it from doing that, you put a big ol' paper clip on it. It still turns visibly inside out, without disturbing the clip. The card isn't gimmicked, really; it's even given away at the end. Again, we've stepped solidly into the realm of magic again -- unless the mentalist is clouding our minds again.

Hm...we really are crossing that line so often, that it's a wonder we have any idea where we are at this point. And the point is that your audience will be - not confused - but mystified.

During the explanations, that black curtain is back, triggering my claustrophobia again. Fortunately, Jim Sisti is more on-camera again, and that chemistry between the two professionals is on-camera also. Watching it now, I can see why Richard wanted to stand with no table earlier. He really does use his hands so much in talking that there is a real possibility he'll smash his hands on the table. (I'm also guilty of using my hands; my mother always threatened to tie my hands so I'd be unable to talk.) And he really is more animated when Jim's on stage with him and, once again, Jim asks the questions that we would if we were there. The straight man rarely gets the sort of credit he deserves (just ask Bud Abbott some eon) and I think we owe Jim a round of applause for representing us, the viewers, so well.

Volume Seven to follow, with an overview and possible essay afterwards.



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