Ok, here’s a breakdown of some of the effects in Second Storm. Let me start off by saying, however, that I think this is money well spent. It’s not as good as the Brainstorm DVD’s, but then again that’s a pretty high standard to set. First the production of the lecture notes is very professional. It’s spiral bound and printed on high quality paper. The 57 color pictures that accompany the text are exceptionally clear and helpful; they really add a lot to helping the reader understand exactly what the magic should look like. The only problem I have with the notes is that the binding should have been done a little differently; it’s a little difficult to flip past pages as they get caught up in the binding. At times this is a little frustrating. Of course this is a minor detail that doesn’t distract from the outstanding material enclosed. (UPDATE: This is now available as an e-book at John’s website)
Teeter Totter Aces- The presentation to this effect is good, but I don’t care for the effect all that much. In my opinion, this is the weakest effect in the notes, but some may find a use for it. I like the fact the spectator does the magic, but I just think there are better ways of producing four of a kind.
Fair Trade- This is a nice impromptu quickie that would probably be better suited to be an addition to an already existing routine rather than standing on it’s own. Some may like it because the fact that it only uses the four aces and four jacks (or queens or whatever.) This makes it a perfect mate for Paul Harris’s Reset or John’s own Intuition from the Brainstorm DVD’s. I personally don’t like it as well as the similar effects on the Brainstorm series.
Jokers To Go- In this effect, two jokers change places with a selected card. Darwin Ortiz has a similar effect in Cardshark where four cards change places with a single card. In my opinion John’s version in better. In short, you place two jokers in a the card case. The selected card is then placed in the center of the deck. Upon spreading the deck, the two jokers are discovered face up in the middle and the selected card is found in the box.
The Stress Test- This is a commercial card revelation that many performers will definitely find a use for. I probably won’t use this is paid performance (although it’s strong enough to be used), but I will definitely carry this around in my wallet for impromptu settings.
Here, There, & Everywhere- I’ve seen very similar effects like this in other books. Basically a selected card is found in different parts of the deck. Each time it is found, it is deposited on the table. At the end, the cards on the table undergo a magical transformation and the selected card ends up in the only place it couldn’t be. This is something I’ll perform often. I’ve already tried it out on a few lay people over the last couple of days and recieved great responses. It’s not entirely impromptu, but the setup is easy to arrange in front of your audience.
Turning The Tables- This is absolutely great. This is probably my favorite effect from the notes. Basically you give the deck to a spectator and walk them through performing a magic trick. They hold the cards as you place the four jacks into different spots in the deck. They square the cards and snap their fingers. Immediately the four jacks rise to the top. This is the kind of killer magic that your assistant will not forget. You give them the credit for the magic, and the presentation leaves room for a lot of audience interaction. It’s pure entertainment for everyone involved. The fact that this is easy to do makes this it an instant addition to my performing arsenal. Don’t understimate this gem.
The Box Illusion- This is a great idea. It’s something I’ll definitely be playing around with for awhile. I don’t think it’s reached its full potential yet. Basically you show a deck of cards in the case. You pull out a card, show it’s face, and announce that you’ll attempt to make it fly into your pocket. You place the card back inside the case and reach into your pocket. To your surprise the whole deck traveled to your pocket except for the original card which is found inside the otherwise empty card box. This is something you’d expect to find in a Paul Harris book.
Googly Eyes- This is a spelling effect with a clever presentation. In fact, I like the presentation much more than the effect itself. I’ve tried it out on a few spectators and recieved good reactions. For some reason though I suspect this will be an effect that I like more than my spectators do. I love it, they like it. Don’t you just hate that.
Ultimate Fate- You saw what Jaybs thought of this effect in the post above. It’s definitely very strong magic. It’s similar to Aldo Columbini’s Contact Colors. I remember the first time I saw Aldo’s effect I thought to myself, “Wow, that’s impressive, but I wish there was something that would make the ending more magical.” John did just that. It does require a setup, but a simple deck switch would set you up for a killer closer for your act.
Time Will Tell- This is a simple mentalism effect that will surely be well recieved by lay audiences, but it’s not something I see myself performing too often as it doesn’t fit my style. In the words of John: “The handling is very simple and the reactions you’ll get will far exceed the work you put into it.” He’s right.
Double Trouble- This is a card effect that I predict will be used by many performers. The cards change from all backs to blank, to a regular deck. The only problem for me is that I have never been able to master a reverse fan. Unfortunately that means I won’t be able to perform this no doubt outstanding effect that would make a great opener.
Tricycle Cards- This is a cute packet effect that has it’s roots in Darwin Ortiz’s Jumping Gemini effect. It’s logical, easy, and features just four cards going through a series of magical transformations. I like it a lot.
Constellation- “Dots made by a spectator on your business card visually move and rearrange themselves to spell a message.” This is a simple handling for a very commercial effect. I’ll try this out at my restaurant tonight. Seems to be a very nice way to hand out your business card that will increase the likelihood that your spectator will actually keep it.
Bonus effect: Silkworm- This is a silk/sponge ball routine. The routine is well structured: you seem to start with nothing and end with nothing. Here’s the effect as the audience sees it: “Beginning with your hands empty, you produce a silk; change it into a sponge ball; split it into two; and cause them to travel invisibly. You then cause the sponge balls to change into one, then into a silk, then back to nothing.” It’s a nice routine that can be done completely in the hands. Most likely you already have a sponge ball routine in your arsenal. If you don’t, this is a great way to start. If you do, you may still find some useful items in this routine. Of particular interest is the clever holdout for a spongeball he explains.
You can tell that the material was not created for the lecture notes, but rather for John’s use in the real world. This means the material is commercial, relatively easy to do, creative, well structured, and magical. The notes are a pleasure to read. The instructions are clear, and the photographs are exceptional. Although the price may be more than other lecture notes, the material is definitely a step above and the notes aren’t just thrown together. John is a true professional. He is careful to explain each effect clearly and credit other inventors for their contributions to his effects. I recommend this set of lecture notes without reservation.
-Available from John’s website