Random I-Tunes Song of The Moment: Angel Eyes by Steelheart
One booklet, seven effects, $20 bucks and one Mentallica Review. Is it gem or is it rubble? Stay tuned to find out.
Mentallica Review: Overview
I'm finding that multiple effect products are best dealt with one effect at a time with a brief discussion of effect and method sort of rolled up in one. In this case, below, it's a little trickier to deal with method because most of the effects rely on marketed items, many of which I'm not familiar with the methods, so I'll have to assume that you know the product's method.
I won't really be able to tell you if Ben Harris's routine is worth you purchasing xyz marketed product that it requires since I don't know the quality of most of these marketed products. The best I can do is tell you if Harris's additions are worthy of publication and/or your attention if you already are familiar with the required marketed product.
Mentallica Review: Effect/Method
Mentallica Review: Televised Drawing Duplication - This is one of two items in the book that does not require you to own another marketed product. The method involves some simple pre-show work of having a spectator select (free selection) something to draw. There really is nothing really revolutionary here. This effect felt like Ben Harris was trying to stick it to Uri Geller by duplicating an effect that Geller did.
The whole premise was that Geller did a design duplication effect where he was able to ask the spectator a series of question about his pre-show interaction that proved how fair everything was. Harris wanted to duplicate this. While he did duplicate this fairness, he really hasn't done anything special. Any working mentalist would be able to easily come up with a method for being able to make things appear as fair as Geller did.
Mentallica Review: RINGthing - This effect requires that you own the $99 dollar prop, Shift: Self-Bending Key. I searched online and could not find one for sale. Further, according to Harris, this is an Ellusionist product. The product is nowhere to be found on their site.
However, let's assume that you own the product already. The next question is whether or not Harris's routine is worth your time. Well, all you're getting is him using not-that-strong equivoke to force the gimmicked key on the spectator. He ends the explanation of this by saying, "the effect enhanced by the apparent free choice of key." Not much added here folks.
Mentallica Review: The Eternal Flame - This requires you to purchase Chris Congreave's The Light for about $78 bucks. What you get from Ben Harris is his routine using that prop. It does give some meaning to the use of the lighter wrapped in a pretty decent presentation about music. I would say that this is the first effect in the book where he added something of value that's worthy of publishing.
Mentallica Review: Shopping Centre Impromptu - This might be the most useless thing in the book. It starts off sort of heading down a path that might be worthwhile, but then it just dies. Basically he gives you a method for gleaning information about people by strolling through the grocery store parking lot. It's a lot full of empty cars. You have no idea who the car belongs to.
Further, even if you figure out who it belongs to, what do you with the information? Go in the grocery store and attack some poor mother of 3 by telling her stuff about her family that only a stalker could know? He never tells you what to do with the information or how to associate it with the owner of the car or anything. He simply points out things that you can learn about strangers by looking at their parked cars.
Mentallica Review: X-RAY Mother - This requires you to own a $350 book test, The Mother of All Book Tests. I own it, and I love it. It's a major piece in my (currently retired) stand up show. Regardless of Harris's contribution, MOABT has paid for itself multiple times over. I highly recommend it.
That aside, Harris's contribution is actually pretty clever on this one. You have a spectator circle a word in the book, and then close the book. You claim, then, to have X-Ray vision and look through the book to the word circled. I don't feel too bad telling you what I've told you since Harris admits that he published this idea on the Magic Cafe somewhere. I planned on looking it up on the Cafe, but the site is down . . . again.
In order to do this method, you need a book test that allows the spectator a free choice. So if your book test requires the spectator to look at a specific word on the page rather than just freely choosing (almost) any word on any page, then you won't be able to do this. Also, Harris's idea gives a good reason for using a book. With most book tests, the spectator can easily say, "If you can read my mind, why do I have to look at a word in a book?" Granted, there are plenty of good, logical and reasonable answers to that question.
However, changing the method to X-Ray vision rather than mind reading is, arguably, one of the better solutions.
Mentallica Review: 3 Dimensional - This requires the purchase of Multidimensional by Pro Mystic. It's between $350 and $500 bucks. Multidimensional is a sneaky electronic device that lets you know which side of a cube the spectator has placed face up.
Not knowing the routines taught with the standard effect, I don't know if Harris's addition is new or not. I will say this, however, it changes the effect a bit. It's a remote viewing type of plot, or it could be another X-Ray plot. He is able to sketch a 3 dimensional block showing the way the cube looks underneath a teacup or whatever opaque device is used to conceal the cube.
Mentallica Review: Director's Cut - This is just his effect A Thought Well Stolen which I reviewed on January 16, 2016. However, this version leaves out the second phase of the routine. It's one of the effects that does NOT require you to purchase anything else.
However, all he does is re-explain what's already in A Thought Well Stolen which is a $30 book with only one effect in it. Further, this version (Mentallica) is not even an update. It's just half of what's in A Thought Well Stolen. Also, in the Mentallica version, he mentions that due to the slightly different particular handling taught, you can leave the spectator with the impression that only one deck was used.
That's the stupidest thing you can do with this effect. Here's why. The effect is this: A spectator thinks of a card (true free thought). He then deals through a deck of cards and notes the position that his card is at (let's say 19 and it's the four of clubs).
Next, you apparently read the mind of the spectator and as you search through another deck and position their thought of card at the thought of number in this new, second deck. Then the spectator announces his number and you deal down to that number in your second deck and reveal that it is, indeed, the four of clubs at the 19th position.
Great, but now let's look at it from the perspective of the spectator thinking you only used one deck. In that case, the effect would be remembered like this. I (the spectator) thought of a card and looked in the deck to see what position it was at (it was the four of clubs at 19). Then he took the one and only deck in use and counted down to the 19th card, and my card was there. Well duh! Of course it was there. You just looked and saw it there and then told him.
Again, another one not worthy of additional publication. It added nothing to the original.
Mentallica Review: Ad Copy Integrity
When does the hurting stop? The ad copy is iffy at best. The second paragraph mentions that these are new presentation for props like "The Mother of All Book Tests, Looch's Area Book Test, Glance, Promystic's Multi-Dimensional (and MD Mini), Nitinol keys (like Elusionist's, Shift), and even Chris Congreave's amazing Zippo gimmick: Light."
Well, this is true, but keep in mind that there is only one book test routine, X-Ray Mother. It just so happens that you can use those other book test products instead of MOABT. Next, paragraph 3 states, "Mentallica will give you entirely new presentational concepts making all of these effects appear NEW, FRESH and ORIGINAL." This is just not true. These are not entirely new presentational concepts.
You tell me, what's new about a design dup presentation? What's new about a "selected" key bending? What's new about basically copying an effect from one of his previous books? On top of that, the effect from this previous book is Any Card At Any Number. If ever there was a presentational concept that is NOT new, it's that one. What's new about remote viewing or X-Ray vision as a plot? These have all been done before. I'd say that the addition of the X-Ray plot to a book test may fit the claim about appearing fresh and original, but that's about it.
The grocery store parking lot bit may be a new way to glean information, but again, it's not a new presentational concept (i.e., telling people stuff you "couldn't possibly know"). Further, he continues by saying that "we explore Woodstock." Really? Explore? In one sentence of a presentation, he says that music is powerful and links people to memories which is why Woodstock still inspires people. That's it. It's not mentioned again (other than to refer back to the aforementioned sentence). I wouldn't exactly call that exploring.
The fifth paragraph refers to "refined handling" of A Thought Well Stolen. What? What's refined about it? Nothing. The only thing he adds is that he suggests letting the spectator keep the deck. That's it. No refinements, unless you consider leaving out the second phase a refinement. That's debatable.
The last paragraph is 100% accurate: "Pages: 28 - 8.5" x 5.5" - Saddle Stitched - Photo-illustrated with full color cover."
Mentallica Review: Product Quality
The production value of this is actually really good. The name is awesome. I mean come on. What's better than Mentallica: Heavy Mental Magic? That's a killer title. I wish I'd thought of it. The write ups are good. The teaching is done well with the exception of the grocery store thing. Everything is broken down pretty well and easy to understand. Also, even though I wasn't familiar with some of the marketed effects, I was still able to follow the explanations with no problem.
Mentallica Review: Final Thoughts
My guess is that if you already own either MOABT, 3 Dimensional or The Light, then you may be interested in his thoughts on those effects. But again, I don't know. I don't know you and what you like, so it's hard to say. Generally speaking, he has not really added much to any of the products mentioned in the book. Also, to be clear, Televised Drawing Duplication, Shopping Centre Impromptu and Director's Cut do not require you to purchase any other product.
However, the design duplication is just that. Nothing special is added. The shopping center thing is pretty much useless, and director's cut is phase one of a previously marketed effect of his. The other ones will require you to spend between $75 and $500 bucks to own the needed prop. If those marketed products interest you, I'd say look into them before even thinking about this book.
If it weren't for the one thing that I felt had some merit to it and was an improvement, X-Ray Mother, this book would be total rubble. However, with even one tiny, small gem, I can't completely dismiss this.
Mentallica Review: Final Verdict:
2 Stars with a Stone Status of grubble. A small gem hidden under a HUGE pile of rubble.
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