Dynamite Book Test -- Dennis Loomis

Instead of mentally projecting your mentalism thoughts, type them here.

Postby Bill Palmer » 10/18/05 01:35 PM

I just received my copy of this new book test from Dennis Loomis. It should be of interest to the professional performer.

Here's what the package includes: four books -- the three that are used in the test and the instruction booklet.

The book test works exactly as described on several different web sites. The spectator -- completely unprepared in any way -- comes up to the stage. The spectator freely selects any one of the three books. One is a computer manual, the second is a detective story, and the third, a travel guide. The magician may be blindfolded. And the blindfold is a genuine one.

There is one statement in the description that I have seen on various sites that isn't completely accurate. This is the statement that the spectator is asked to think of a page number. He doesn't have to do this at all. He can simply turn to any page. He is asked to look at the first word on the page. The magician divines this word.

He is then asked to look at the last word on the page. Again, the magician divines the word. Finally, he is asked to look at any other word on the page, and the magician reveals that word as well.

I would find this item best suited to the stage, but suitable for a large gathering as well.

It will require a certain amount of spectator management and prop management. All you need to know is detailed in the instructions.

There is also some very important information on how to work with book tests.

I collect book tests. I own most of those that have been marketed in recent years, and have had the opportunity to examine most of the others while staying at Ted Lesley's place.

This one does everything that has been described in the ads.

If you are the kind of magician who leaves his props lying around his house or his stage, or you are the kind of fellow who is like the magician Al Baker described in Magical Ways and Means, who nearly killed the hero of the playlet the troupe did between acts, because he used the real dagger instead of the rubber dagger, because the rubber dagger could not be passed for examination, then this book test is not for you.

But you really can't do that with most of the book tests on the market, anyway. These are specially printed books. As such, they make very dull reading. But as tools to use in a book test, they are sure-fire.

I could easily see using this in a stage act.

Is it worth the money?

It is, if you are a working performer.

I also have to say that Dennis has done a yeoman job of crediting and polishing. He traces the history of the principle used in this test as far back as it goes. It worked well then -- and it will work even better now.
Bill Palmer, MIMC
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Postby Harvey » 10/26/05 08:08 PM

Bill,
In your opinion which book test ranks as the finest example in this category?
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Postby Bill Palmer » 10/27/05 05:24 PM

Originally posted by Harvey:
Bill,
In your opinion which book test ranks as the finest example in this category?
I'm not sure what you mean by "this category." Do you mean a book test for stage?

Much of the idea of a "best" book test is in the presentation and not in the method.
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Postby Spinnato » 10/27/05 08:14 PM

For a brutally honest and, in my opinion, an accurate review of this item I would suggest you read the review offered here: ]

http://www.magicbackstage.blogspot.com/
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Postby Guest » 10/28/05 06:52 AM

Originally posted by Spinnato:
For a brutally honest and, in my opinion, an accurate review of this item I would suggest you read the review offered here: ]
http://www.magicbackstage.blogspot.com/
Very interesting review and right to the point. An honest review like that is appreciated.
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Postby Chris Aguilar » 10/28/05 07:31 AM

Originally posted by Spinnato:
For a brutally honest and, in my opinion, an accurate review of this item I would suggest you read the review offered here: ]
http://www.magicbackstage.blogspot.com/
This "review" is simply the word "crap" repeated about a hundred times.

Someone is trying to drive traffic to their blog perhaps?
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Postby Anthony Blake » 10/28/05 07:45 AM

Here is a more "fair and balanced" review:

http://www.jheff.com/Dynamite_Booktest.html

Success!!!

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Postby Richard Hatch » 10/28/05 08:15 AM

Originally posted by Chris Aguilar:
This "review" is simply the word "crap" repeated about a hundred times.
Actually, there are two words that sandwich the hundred or so words you mention, that may provide some insight as to the underlying technique employed (just a guess as I don't have the item).
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Postby Spinnato » 10/28/05 09:47 AM

Originally posted by Chris Aguilar:

This "review" is simply the word "crap" repeated about a hundred times.


EXACTLY ! ! ! That's my point.
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Postby David Alexander » 10/28/05 10:30 AM

I have a problem with anonymous "reviews." Who is doing the reviewing? A 15-year-old kid, a working pro, or some amateur who thinks his opinion is on the same level as an experienced professional? With a pseudonym, who knows? For me, the review becomes worthless unless I have an idea of the reviewer's background and experience, and even then, I take it with a grain of salt.

In this case, after I read Bills review, I called Dennis Loomis whom Ive known for a number of years. I spoke with him about this item and he explained its workings to me in detail. I bought it on the spot as I know how to use such a device without problem.

The fantasy that props should be examinable is just that. Ive used a Martin Jumbo Card Rise in nearly every non-mentalism show Ive done for the past 35 years and not once has anyone ever asked to examine the big deck. I was fortunate in acquiring this prop, one of the last made by the legendary Martin, because the previous disappointed amateur owner described it as a block of wood with clockworks in it. His foolishness benefitted me.

I have a number of specially printed books used in my mentalism presentations. Most wont stand examination, whatever that means. Using them, theyre just books, handled and used in exactly that way. No one thinks that a book can be gimmicked which makes them all the more potent as useful devices.

In the hands of an experienced performer, Denny's book test will score strongly with an audience. In the hands of an amateur it would be wasted since its presentation involves spectator management, something the inexperienced amateur knows little to nothing about. That should be taken into account when reading "reviews."
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Postby brownbeauty » 10/28/05 10:59 AM

Hi David,
What about the argument that if the spectator is made an instant stooge that they may blab after the show and ruin the performers credibility?

Just playing devil's advocate here ;)

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Postby David Alexander » 10/28/05 11:20 AM

There are ways of taking people into your confidence where there is a high degree of certainty that they won't talk. Then there is the idea that they won't necessarily be believed if they do talk. I have had stooges keep silent for years.

Maybe I'll write a book on spectator management.
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Postby Brian Marks » 10/28/05 11:22 AM

If your doing a show for 100 people and you use 1 person as a "stooge" than, he'll speak to 1 or 2 other people , however many people are in his party. He won't speak to the 90 or so other people there who will remain stunned. Of course this is provided that your doing a public show, or a private event where most people vaguely know each other.
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Postby David Alexander » 10/28/05 11:29 AM

Further, the usual response of an inexperienced amateur when you tell them that something involves telling a spectator to do something is, "What if they don't do it?"

If you have experience giving orders or directions, you understand that if you give the order or direction with the expectation that it will be followed, it will be followed. Few amateurs seem to be aware of this sort of "command presence" when performing. They simply lay out a performance and hope people like what they do. That isn't how professionals work. They go out and take over the audience, leading them where they want them to go. I saw this every time I watched Frakson work....or Dr. Giovanni....or Vic Perry, or a host of other strong, experienced performers.

One of the leading exponents was John Calvert with his "Dr. Q" audience-participation "hypnosis" routine....done with nothing more than stage cues, delivered by a master who was in total control. Rarely did anyone fail to obey John's orders.

Kirkham did it....Johnny Aladdin did it....it just takes a strong personality and the stones to do it. As best I can tell, criticisms of Denny's book test come from people who do not know how to manage specators, control them on stage. Few have the requisite components.
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Postby Brian Marks » 10/28/05 01:45 PM

Experience with spectators will teach you how to give instructions that they will follow.
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Postby David Alexander » 10/28/05 04:09 PM

Yes and no, Brian. The giving of instructions requires that they be given with the right attitude, the right inflection of the voice, the right pitch and volume and with the expectation that the instructions will be followed. Communication between humans happens on many levels.

This is a skill that can be learned by some, over time, with practice, but just experience alone will not do it. Thoughtful analysis and study also are required as are directions from people with more experience.

The old adage that "experience is the best teacher," fails when people don't pay attention to their experience. Working with several spectators on stage, getting them to do what you want and NOT losing the sympathy of the audience, is not easy. Most never learn all the ins and outs because the learning curve is too steep.
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Postby Brian Marks » 10/28/05 10:06 PM

The people who don't pay attention to their performance are not learning from experience. This who analyze their performace will improve, even if only small amounts at a time.
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Postby Harvey » 10/29/05 07:59 PM

How does this book test compare to Final Flashback?
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Postby David Alexander » 10/30/05 11:50 AM

Harvey,

Can't answer as I don't have any of Larry's items.
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Postby Spellbinder » 10/31/05 08:13 AM

I have always been leary about book tests in which the book is sold as a required prop. To me, Spellbinder's "Better Book Test" is better because we (The Wiz Kids) can go into a library to perform and pull five or six books off their shelves to use for his Better Book Test (Wizards' Journal #6). If the books we use (Harry Potter Books 1 - 6) are visible from the performing area, we just ask a spectator to get the books from the stacks and bring the books up to the stage. Please note, you don't have to use the Harry Potter books... it's just that it fits our Wiz Kid library show theme. Any bunch of books will do.
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Postby Guest » 11/03/05 07:31 PM

Originally posted by Harvey:
How does this book test compare to Final Flashback?
To Harvey,
They're both book tests. ;-) Pardon me... couldn't resist. But, what, exactly are you asking? Why this particular comparison when there are/were so many book tests out there. Here's a partial list:


The Necromantic Grimoire of Augustus Rupp
Mother of All Book Tests
Docc Hilford Brother of all book tests
Final Exam
Hoy
Himber Dictionery
Himber Mag of Fantasy and Science Fiction
Himber Ellery Queen Magazine Test
Autome
Marc Paul's AAA Booktest
Master Key Terri Rogers
Larry Becker's Flashback series. These are Flashback, Ultimate Flashback, and Final Flashback.
Double Vision
Greg Arce's Freestyle Book Test.
W.O.W. booktest
Luke Jermay's book test from Building Blocks
Poe Book Test
Richard Busch's Paperback Thought Projection (from Peek performances)
Koran's A Word In Thousands
Richard Mark's By The Book
Mind Warp by Richard Mark
Malcolm Davidson booktest
A+B (B-100+) BOOK TEST
Dyna by U. F. Grant and John Murray
Doc Hillford Book Test in his Wizards Manual
Word in a Million
Hidden Agenda Lee Earle
By Choice & By Chance' by Paul Richards.
Wizardz Wordz Harry Potter Book Test
Val Andrews unfaked book test
Keith Fields' INSIGHT
Dream Test (Earle)
Nicholas Einhorn's book test from his lecture notes
Vraagaard Yellow Pages" book test
Chan Canasta book test
Lexicon Phenomenon by Al Mann
Lee Earle's "Silver Bullet" (or "SB Lite")
The B.I.P. Book by Scott Creasey
Bip Book 2.0
Eye Candy by Becker and Earle
Great For 2 Book Test by Richard Webster
Mastermind II by Magic Dream
The Satanic Book Test by Brad Henderson
SeaFire by Richard Osterlind
Wordless Book Test by Lee Earle
Magico's Three different Sherlock Holmes Book Tests
Al Mann's Book Test
Dan Harlan's My Word

These are mostly marked Dealer's items, there are many more Book Tests in the literature which can be done with ungimmicked books, or by doing the gimmicking yourself.

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Postby Spellbinder » 11/03/05 08:01 PM

I understand Harvey's search for the "Holy Grail" of Book tests more than I understand Dennis Loomis' listing of a whole bunch of past book tests and his attitude of "What does it matter which is best? It's just another book test... wink,wink,nudge,nudge." The Monty Python winks and nudges are mine.

I don't like the original copper/silver trick. It's basically flawed. I learned from J.B. Bobo that there is a much better solution to get the same effect and it's the only one I use. It's the best.

I don't like the original newspaper ad predictions. They were all basically flawed. Bob Cassidy showed me a solution that is so deceptively simple that it is without a doubt the best. It's the only one I use.

That's the way I am with all magic. I want ONLY the best there is, and I can tell immediately when a trick has an inherent flaw in it. Like all those book tests in Dennis' List. My own Better Book Test is NOT the best. I know it. But it is better than any on the Loomis List (as it will forever come to be called). When I or someone else invents THE BEST book test, Harvey and I will jump to it as if magnetized. We keep looking and keep thinking about it, but so far it hasn't turned up.
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Postby Harvey » 11/04/05 08:36 AM

Many thanks to Dennis for taking the time to provide such a comprehensive list of book test. I understand there are pros and cons to the various test. Since I do not possess the time, finances or energy to purchase and review the alternatives I thought it reasonable to open up the question of "best of class" to the general membership.The setting for the book test would be in front of a large group.
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Postby Doug Dyment » 11/04/05 09:43 AM

The "best" book test:
- can be performed with any book
- does not require advance access to the book
- allows the participant to select any page
- allows the participant to select any word on the page
- can be performed in real time (no pre-show, etc.)
- can be performed in any venue
- does not require stooges (instant or otherwise) or confederates
- does not require unreliable technologies

There are a number of excellent tests available that come close to meeting these criteria, but none that satisfies all, to my knowledge. And as personal preferences dictate which of these criteria the entertainer finds it acceptable to relax, it's difficult to find common ground for comparisons. This is why there are so many book tests, and why people disagree on their relative merits.

... Doug
... Doug :: Proprietor of The Deceptionary
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Postby Harvey » 11/04/05 12:05 PM

Doug,
Which book test meets the majority of your listed criteria including can be used with any text.
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Postby Doug Dyment » 11/04/05 02:55 PM

Harvey asked:
Which book test meets the majority of [Doug's] listed criteria including can be used with any text.
There are lots that meet a large number of the criteria; the hard one, of course, is "any word on the page". If you're willing to allow for options like "the first word on the page" or "a long word in this corner", then particular favourites of mine that come to mind are those by David Hoy, Alain Nu, Ted Karmilovich, and Michael Sibbernsen. Val Andrews' test is also pretty good, though more sensitive to presentation skills than most. There are certainly excellent alternatives; these are just the ones that appeal to me.

... Doug
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Postby Spellbinder » 11/04/05 09:11 PM

Originally posted by Doug Dyment:
The "best" book test:
- can be performed with any book
- does not require advance access to the book
- allows the participant to select any page
- allows the participant to select any word on the page
- can be performed in real time (no pre-show, etc.)
- can be performed in any venue
- does not require stooges (instant or otherwise) or confederates
- does not require unreliable technologies
True, but for magic/mentalist purposes, we can make a few realistic changes. For example we can simply agree on the last 4 items as givens.

Now we need to magically modify the first four to a magician's view "reality check":

- can SEEMINGLY be performed with any book
- does not SEEM TO require advance access to the book
- allows the participant to SEEMINGLY select any page
- allows the participant to SEEMINGLY select any word on the page

As long as the audience views the first four conditions as having been met, you have a successful book test, and I might add (ahem!) a Better Book Test . The last four items are of interest and possibly concern to magicians, but most laymen would not concern themselves with whether there was advance preparation, what type of venue is appropriate for the effect, whether or not stooges were used (unless it is very obvious and then the whole test bombs out), or whether the technology you are using is reliable. Happily, the Better Book Test also matches those criteria as well.
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Postby kenguru » 11/05/05 02:35 AM

Originally posted by Doug Dyment:
The "best" book test:
- can be performed with any book
- does not require advance access to the book
- allows the participant to select any page
- allows the participant to select any word on the page
- can be performed in real time (no pre-show, etc.)
- can be performed in any venue
- does not require stooges (instant or otherwise) or confederates
- does not require unreliable technologies

There are a number of excellent tests available that come close to meeting these criteria, but none that satisfies all, to my knowledge. And as personal preferences dictate which of these criteria the entertainer finds it acceptable to relax, it's difficult to find common ground for comparisons. This is why there are so many book tests, and why people disagree on their relative merits.

... Doug
The book test done by Chan Canasta seems to satisfy all of your requirements. Not easy to do though.

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Postby Doug Dyment » 11/05/05 09:45 AM

Spellbinder wrote:
Now we need to magically modify the first four to a magician's view "reality check":

- can SEEMINGLY be performed with any book
- does not SEEM TO require advance access to the book
- allows the participant to SEEMINGLY select any page
- allows the participant to SEEMINGLY select any word on the page
I disagree. I do not see why we "need" to do this at all. In fact, none of the tests I mentioned as examples finessed any but the last of these criteria.

All of this merely emphasizes my point: different practitioners have widely diverging opinions concerning what are and what are not important criteria for a book test, thus making it impossible to agree on a "best".

The MOABT is widely considered the "best" book test available, and is almost certainly used by more professional mentalists than any other. It uses a specially-printed book, though, and that makes it anathema to others, for a variety of reasons:

- if the book is lost/misplaced/stolen/damaged, your act can't be performed as planned

- you can't use a current, recognizable book, or one that is meaningful to the client

- you can't do the test in venues other than formal ones, unless you (suspiciously) carry the special book along with you

- you can't leave the book in the hands of the audience

- you run the risk of antagonistic magicians in your audience grabbing the book and exposing your methodology

- you can't carry your act in your pocket

Now some may find many or all of these concerns nonexistent, irrelevant, or of little consequence. Others, however, do not. Which, once again, is my point.

... Doug
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Postby Terry_Holley » 11/05/05 09:51 AM

Spellbinder keeps referring to the Better Book Test. I have read the ad copy, but are there any reviews out there? At only $3, someone must have it!

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Postby Harvey » 11/05/05 10:47 AM

I am not familiar with Alain Nu's book test. Where has this been published?
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Postby Richard Hatch » 11/05/05 05:54 PM

I believe it was published in his one man issue of Stephen Hobbs fine LABYRINTH magazine, limited to 100 numbered copies, though Alain did get permission to reprint some copies for use as lecture notes, at one point, I believe.
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Postby Guest » 11/05/05 06:51 PM

...So many book tests...so little time...

"...a spectator opens a book to a page and concentrates on a word. The mentalist, standing some distance away, reveals the word the spectator is thinking of."....

...from Karl Fulves' Self-Working Mental Magic, 67 Foolproof Mind-Reading Tricks (Dover)...

...Above book contains seven book/magazine tests, and I paid two bucks for mine at a used book store...

I have no problem with two dollars for my book, and I really do think that we should encourage the young people coming into magic to at least look over the "classic" stuff, before we encourage them to blow hundreds of dollars or even more than a few bucks for a BOOK TEST...

...just my two cents worth, regarding a cost-effective hobby/profession....

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Postby Steve Bryant » 11/05/05 08:14 PM

Richard Robinson's "The Poe Book Test" on his online magazine Magic Show (allmagic.com) is excellent. And free.
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Postby Guest » 11/07/05 07:02 PM

Originally posted by Spellbinder:
I understand Harvey's search for the "Holy Grail" of Book tests more than I understand Dennis Loomis' listing of a whole bunch of past book tests and his attitude of "What does it matter which is best? It's just another book test... wink,wink,nudge,nudge." The Monty Python winks and nudges are mine.
I did not mean to suggest that it doesn't matter which is better. If you can establish some criteria, it may be possible to make that kind of judgement, but it has to be subjective. I don't believe that there is a "best" book test any more than there's a best card trick or rope trick or coin trick.

My reason for the list (and I certainly hope that it doesn't become known as the "Loomis List") was simply to point out that it was rather silly to simply compare my book test to Larry Becker's Final Flashback, when there are so very many different books tests out there. Did you think that I should jump in and make that comparison? I'm clearly not an objective observer? Final Flashback is a great piece of work. And so are many of the others on the list.

Mentalism and magic have some routines/effects which can be done with ungimmicked props and yet sometimes a gimmicked prop is the best solution to a problem or the best approach given the venue and the spectator(s). Dai Vernon was a great sleight of hand artist, but when he undertook to fool Houdini, he wisely chose a gaff which he was pretty sure that Houdini was unaware of. And, he also knew that his reputation as a sleight of hand artist would be a throw off. Vernon chose his effect well, and the fact that he did fool Houdini is evidence that sometimes a gimmick is just the thing.

Mentalism like Magic is a performing Art. There are venues and audiences where The Dynamite Book Test is particularly appropriate. In other situations, even I will choose another one. When going into a private home, library, or bookstore I'm always ready to do Max's Autome. Because the book you need might just be there and if you're not ready to take advantage of that, you're going to miss a Golden Opportunity. When the new Harry Potter Book was released I was hired to perform at a bookstore in Oakland. I wanted to do a book test that fit the theme, and chose one I like that could use any book. Of course, we had a spectator pull a Harry Potter Book off the shelf.

Since Final Flashback was mentioned, I'll just say that I sometimes use Ultimate Flashback. Also by Becker, I prefer it to Final. I used the original Dyna, of course, Annemann's Magazine Test, Tony Raven's (R.I.P.) Necromantic Grimoire, and three different Himber book/magazine tests over the years.

Having said all that, I'm currently finishing up a new book test which will go to the printers soon. Does the world need another? Probably not. But I've collected some good ideas, added my own thoughts and I'm running with it. It will even have a "tie-in" with the Dynamite Test which will allow some interesting possibilities.

When it's available will I use it? Of course. Will I stop using other book tests? Absolutely not. I hope it will be what many of the others on that list are: a valuable tool for working performers to use. The other tools in the tool kit will retain their value.

Denny Loomis
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Postby Bill Palmer » 11/25/05 12:53 PM

I regularly try new book tests out on our local magic club. Granted, they are magicians and are very unlikely to blab anything.

A couple of months ago, I did a mini-lecture on book tests, in which I tipped my own personal favorite, which is one I have been doing for more than 30 years. It is a variation on David Hoy's book test. I published a version of it privately in 1982, and had it in my first German lecture 10 years later.

So last month, I did the Dynamite book test for essentially the same audience. All of the comments were about how clean it looked.

The results you get from a book test will depend entirely upon how much YOU can personally make it look like real mindreading. And if all you do is reveal the word, and nothing else, then maybe you should go back to doing the two card monte with a couple of gaffed cards, because you really don't "get" mentalism.
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Postby David Alexander » 11/26/05 10:53 AM

Bill speaks Truth, as does Denny. In Magic in general and Mentalism in particular, the "means whereby" is less important that the performer's personality and the presentation of Effect.

Mentalism consists of highly-disguised simplicity. Magicians are often disappointed in how mental effects are done because they are, often, painfully simply and direct in method....a billet switch....a glimpse of written information...Dual Reality and verbal deception.

Mentalism is the creation of the illusion of mindreading (or other supposed paranormal ability), abetted by a simply but well-disguised method, via a thoughtful presentation put forward by a strong personality.

Methods are almost irrelevant. It is the Effect and the presentation that are most important. I bought Denny's Book Test because it allows me to do a certain Effect. That's worth $75 to me. Should I want a different Effect, I'd use something else, as I have both Terri Rogers Book Tests, James Randi's two custom-made force books, all the Himber magazine tests, etc.

My choice of Effect depends on a variety of factors: placement in show, venue type, audience, etc.
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Postby Guest » 11/26/05 03:13 PM

It is one of the booktests included in this auction:
http://cgi.ebay.ca/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?Vie ... :LCA:CA:31

PSIncerely Yours,
Paul Alberstat
AB Stagecraft
http://www.mindguy.com/store
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Postby Harvey » 12/08/05 04:40 PM

Doug,
Can you provide more information about Alain Nu and David Hoys book test. I am familiar with MOABT. What is compelling about these particular book tests? Where can they be found ? Alain Nu's book test seems to be particularly evasive.
Harvey
 
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Postby Richard Stokes » 12/08/05 08:32 PM

Pre-packaged book tests often look phoney to me.
Book cover designs change so rapidly.
And these developments tend to expose the fake nature of the props.
Moral of this tale: Always judge a book by its cover...
Richard Stokes
 
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