What makes you think, John, that we didn't. I put a lot of thought into it while waiting for the new version to arrive. I can up with several variants and at least one of them is, IMHO, superior to what I received. So now that Deep Astonishment has arrived, allow me to react to what I got.
What's interesting to me is that Mavens of Variant Ways didn't pick up on the potential and possibilities after reading the entry in THE ART OF ASTONISHMENT? The rudiments were there; the "carcass was ripe for the picking."
My major gripe is the "wallet." What I got was a plastic check book cover. And that would have been okay if they had said that in the ad, but what bothers me is that it simply doesn't work! If I do the routine exactly as described in the instructions, when I open the "wallet" it automatically exposes the gaff! This is a result of the "give" of the plastic material. I think it may be easilly solved by opening the wallet out flat and putting some heavy books on it for a while, but the fact of the matter is that no matter how clever the thinking, what they sold me doesn't work.
There is a "handling" which solves this problem which I found out with one of my Mullica Wallets. But this is not mentioned in the instructions, and it starts to take the trick away from the "self-working" premise that the ads tout and Cliff and Manny have been extolling on this and other internet sites.
The fact is that the process of pulling the stack of cards out of the wallet isn't at all easy to do properly. As the instructions point out, if you do not keep the question mark card in alignment with the rest of the stack you expose something that is a big hint as to how it's done. And achieving this is far from automatic and easy. It will take practice to do it properly every time. So much for their claims that "anyone" can do it. Those not willing to practice will risk exposing it if they perform it.
I had hopes that Paul and company would have addressed two issues that bothered me about the Anything Deck. First, why in the world is the prediction made on the backs of playing cards, one letter at a time? For me this is highly illogical and a very big clue as to how it works. The suggested patter is: "Late last night I made a note to myself on some spare cards. I've been carrying them around with me all day, waiting for this very moment."
Sorry guys, but this is just straight descriptive patter and does nothing to address my concern. I do hope that some genius will think of something you can say that excuses this rather ridiculous format for a written prediction.
The second problem I have with the Anything Deck: what is your reason for pulling those cards, seemingly at random, out before getting to your "soul mate" card? Paul gave some sample patter lines in the Anything deck write up, along the lines of... this black seven tells me your card is not a seven, and so on. The problem is that with each new word you will be pulling out different cards and while you're concentrating on getting the right cards, you also have to think of these pseudo-logical things to say to justify the cards you're pulling. In the new Deep Astonishment instructions, he's opted for saying some pretty vague things like: "This card is definitely trying to tell me something!" or "I know I need this card!" One of the versions I had doped out made it possible to say the same exact four things every time. At least if you are dealing with four letter words. The patter can be consistent, thus memorized, and you don't need to think on your feet. Unfortunately, my guess as to how the new version was configured was wrong and that solution cannot work unless you'll willing to remake the entire deck.
One of the improvements I was hoping for was that the new version might be one that you could do surrounded. (For restaurant workers and strolling performers, this is pretty important.) Interestingly the new Deep Astonishment set up allows you to remove the necessary cards in a manner that can be done surrounded. But, alas, at the same time you're holding a fan of cards in your left hand in a necessary way, and anyone that sees the back of this fan will have a big part of the trick exposed to them. So, I can't see that the new method of taking the cards out is any improvement at all. If you're willing to do some memory work, there is a solution to this problem on their Web site. But, you'll have to remake the entire deck to take advantage of it.
In short, there are some brilliant concepts here, but I think they fell short of the mark in some ways... especially with the "Wallet" they supply.