SAD (Simple And Direct) Mentalism by Looch
Reviewed by Jamy Ian Swiss (originally published in Genii October, 2007)
There's a moral in the title of this book: Do not arm your critics such that they can simply inform readers that the title of the book is all they need to know.
SAD ...Mentalism is a perfect example of what is wrong with so much of what passes for the current publishing and commercial trick output of the magic and mentalism retail business. On the surface, the book is pleasantly produced and nicely designed. Open its pages and before one can even reach the material one is faced with a set of writing skills that would not get a passing grade in a 10-year-old's English class. In short, the production values amount to a textbook case of perfume on a pig.
The depth of the author's illiteracy rattles one's head between hilarious and tragic. He is apparently completely unaware of the existence or purpose of an apostrophe, and his glancing familiarity with commas seems to go only so far as to recommend their constant random insertion, along with a guiding principle that where a period might work, a comma is always preferable. This charming habit produces run-on sentences that require the reader to pause midway simply to inhale for breath sufficient to carry one to the end. For those poor souls who say, Who cares about the grammar as long as the content is good?, I say. Raise your standards. Try and live a life that expects more from the world than crap.
But, okay then, let's mention the material. Here's one outstanding example that comes to mind. The spectator, makes a drawing on half of an index card and folds it up The performer switches the billet and drops the dummy into an empty beer bottle. (Insert your joke here.) The performer reaches into his pocket to retrieve an apparently blank and folded up card on which to draw what, you don't you carry your index cards already folded into quarters? The performer instead brings out the previously palmed billet and opens it, concealing from the audience that there is something already drawn on it what, you don't you always conceal the surface of your blank folders up index cards? The performer now pretends to draw something, then seems to change his mind, and crosses out the actual drawing and crosses it out so thoroughly that it will not be recognizable later as the spectator's original drawing. The performer turns the card over, and now draws his duplicate on this blank side of the card.
The real mentalists in the crowd can now be identified by their lengthy and raucous laughter.
Call me crazy, but I find this ingenious method slightly inferior to simply glimpsing a drawing via a Center Tear or a Peek Case. And this from an author who apparently thinks that the silly and overpriced toy known as the Stealth Assassin wallet is a great thing.
In other news, the author seems to think that doing a Book Test by using two copies of the same book but changing the cover of one of them is a new idea.
Remember the "Pulse Trick" from Bobo's Modern Coin Magic? It's in this book, in inferior form, re-titled as "Lost in the Shadow." The author claims he was once "some-thing of a coin worker" in his youth; I guess he wasn't much of a coin reader.
In a routine entitled "The Glitch," a coin bends in the performer's hand, then unbends, then a spectator's sig-nature disappears from a Tarot card. You'd never know this qualified as mentalism except for the fact that the trick requires a stooge. I think the title must have been a typo, since it seems more appropriate as a description of the method.
In a section of "works in progress" and "idea bubbles" read: useless trash that likely came to mind in a fever dream the author suggests actually explaining to your audience the workings of a three-way equivoque, which then, he assures us, will be "quickly forgotten." Like this book.