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Mind Mysteries - Volume 1 - DVD Review

February 26th, 2004 1:17pm
Reviewed by Spencer Singleton
As there is a large array of information presented on Richard's recent set of DVD's from L&L Publishing, I feel that the only way to do any justice to them is to review each volume separately; thus follows the first in a four part review.

Volume One presents the act that Richard has been using for years, and it is extremely obvious why he uses it. This is an L&L production, so many of the audience members are familiar to those of us who frequently watch their videos. We're used to a highly reactive audience, as these folks love to see magic. However, on these videos, their reactions are a bit different. They are shock, amazement and sheer wonder.

This is a long review, as I believe it must be. You may notice I tend to frequently use adjectives such as "amazing", "wonderful", "awe-inspiring", etc. I do not do this simply to be annoying -- I am just trying to put into words the value of this set.

If the effects read "simple," don't be dissuaded. I believe they are simple on purpose; stripped of extraneous movement or props, distilled to their core purpose and plot, these effects simply fry. A career has been made with this act. My biggest fear is that, due to the immense power of this act, "mini-Richards" will begin cropping up, borrowing the act in its entirety. While that may be tempting, it's not worth it. The value here is in the fact that this is clearly Richard's Act: he has complete control and mastery over the entire thing. Be inspired, use bits and pieces, but be yourself.

Richard's videos, like all the best instructional sources, teach more than is immediately apparent. He teaches extremely strong, practical effects, which is what sells the videos. For those interested in paying attention and reading between the lines, however, here is a master class in constructing an audience-pleasing routine, developing a strong rapport with the audience, managing the emotional flow of a show and creating multiple moments of astonishment.

He opens with a classic effect, capped with an important twist. Bank Night has been in the routines of thousands of mentalists, each with their own minor twists and variations. My major problem with this effect has always been that it sets the performer up as the "winner" and the volunteers as the "losers." To do the standard ploy ("one envelope contains a one hundred dollar bill!") any other way would lead most performers to bankruptcy. Some have done away with the money aspect, opting instead for 3 identical signs and 1 unique sign or 3 matching cards and 1 unique card, but I feel this robs the effect of the inherent drama. Richard's effect manages to maintain the affordability and dramatic tension of the effect and yet make the spectators win as well. This is an excellent opening effect, requiring light spectator involvement and a chance to see the performer's personality. It's light, fun, and impressive without being too deep.

Switching gears immediately, Richard gives the audience a taste of the amazing mental miracles to come. The Perfected Center Tear is a sinfully clean center tear, and its application here is gorgeous in its simplicity. It is requested of an audience member that she write down the name of a person who is important to them, but is not present. Richard takes the paper and, averting his eyes, tears the paper into bits and gives it back to the spectator: the person is then named. No convoluted plot, no hocus pocus props. The best part is, as happens in the performance, the spectator can piece back together their slip and see the name, cleanly torn into pieces. If you've ever been nervous about a center tear, fear no longer. For proof of its effectiveness, see the bonus material on this DVD, where Richard does Center Tear after Center Tear for the same audience after the show to increased amazement.

To slightly lighten the mood again, while maintaining astonishment, Richard next performs the Radar Deck. All mentalists who swear off playing cards should pay particular attention to this routine. Four spectators mentally select cards from a deck spread before them and the Richard names all four cards. No pumping, no "aha, but they're ALL red cards, chuckle, chuckle" type lines. As if this was not amazing enough, he proceeds to correctly divine that two spectators thought of one card and changed their minds -- he then names the cards they almost thought of. Words cannot describe the pure shock seen in the faces of the audience at this point. There are many strong mentalism effects using a deck of cards but, performed properly, this just may be the strongest.

With the audience sufficiently warmed up, the Watch Routine begins Richard's full ascent into the mind-blowing, mystical world of wonder. Two spectators are involved, one to pick a random time and one to control the wristwatch (without looking at it). Richards belief about the chose time is written down and revealed correct, and the watch (which is held by the second spectator) is revealed to match the time. Here, we can clearly see how Richard is able to get two "moments" from the same effect, which he expands on in the explanations. There is no special watch needed, and Richard gives his experienced help on the different types of watches you may come across in the real world.

Thought Scan is worth the price of the entire series, let alone the price of just one DVD. The audience is invited to jot down a few pieces of random personal information on cards, which are then collected and left in envelopes. Richard then launches into a masterful Q&A styled routine, which leaves the audience stupefied. The performance of this routine is worth watching repeatedly, to see not only the prowess Richard displays but also to grin at the amazing coincidence that occurs. I would sell my firstborn child if I could ensure something like that happening during every performance (you'll have to get the DVD to see what I'm talking about). Richard's amazing presence and handling of the situation manage to make this random occurrence part of the act, something I doubt a lesser showman would be able to effectively accomplish. For a moment, one almost feels as if they are watching a taping of Crossing Over, as Richards pulls pieces of information from the thin air and returns them to an increasingly blown away audience.

Magazine Test is like any other magazine/book test -- but on LSD. Again, Richard creates multiple "moments" in one effect, and it turns a psychic curiosity into a purely impossible event. A prediction is made and given to a spectator for safe keeping while a volunteer is brought up. She places a magazine behind her back, and blindly draws a circle on the page. The culmination of this effect is so strong that Richard routinely ended his show it. Due to his careful planning and scripting, which foreshadows the climax in a very natural way, this effect actually results in three separate, and building, moments of amazement. This effect is simply a thing of beauty.

Finally, Richard ends with the Linking Finger Rings. Three wedding bands are borrowed and completely linked. Each ring is verified by its owner to be (a) their ring and (b) truly linked to the other rings. To end the routine, the last two spectators are standing next to Richard when the rings are separated! Following a cups and balls routine, this effect is a cool magic trick -- at the end of a stunning mentalism routine, it is an example of mind-over-matter in a most impossible way.

This DVD includes standard extras (interactive menus, photo gallery) as well as a few other, very important, bonus features. First, he is interviewed by Jim Sisti, who hosts each DVD, just as Tommy Wonder was interviewed by Max Maven on his set. In Volume 1, Richard shares his thoughts on the use of disclaimers by mentalists. These interview segments are important and of immense value. Watch them, listen to what he says and think about it -- that's experience talking.

Finally, there are some shots done post-performance. These are important as well, but in a different way. Richard claims, for instance, that his center-tear can be done surrounded; after the official performance, it is done exactly that way, repeatedly. To see the same basic effect generate amazement again and again among the audience is a testament to its strength.

I cannot recommend this entire series highly enough; I think this should be on the shelf of all those who are serious about performing mentalism for a living (and on many shelves for people who perform other types of magic); the experience and wisdom shared is simply that important. If you cannot buy the whole series, and do not have a sister or brother whom you can sell to get the necessary cash, at the very least get volume one in the series. It is very rare for a working performer to share his actual act, step by step, and explain how and why it was created that way. Don't miss this opportunity. GO. GET IT. NOW.

This DVD should be available via your favorite dealer. If not, it is available at Finally, for a limited time you can purchase the set from Richard himself at his website.

Until next time...
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Product info for Mind Mysteries - Volume 1 - DVD

Author: Richard Osterlind
Publisher: L&L Publishing
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $34.95
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Manufacturer's Description:

Richard Osterlind has long been considered one of mentalism and magic's most creative minds.
In this exciting new video series, he shares with you not only his most famous creations but also many highly guarded secrets, ideas and routines, many of which are right out of his professional act.

These aren't tricks-they're Mind Mysteries!

Richard Osterlind - Mind Mysteries - Volume 1 The Act

It's a rare thing when one of mentalism's leading minds divulges the secrets to his professional act-the material he's been earning a living with for decades. Yet, on this volume of an extraordinary video series, that's exactly what Richard Osterlind does - sharing not only the methods, but the fine details, of the powerhouse effects he's been wowing corporate and trade show audiences all over the world with. Watch him amaze the audience in performance and then go behind the scenes as Osterlind, along with host Jim Sisti, shows you how it's all done.

Bank Night - Osterlind's original, tried and proven version of a classic, complete with a commercial kicker that will endear you to any audience. A great opener for any act!

The Perfected Center Tear - Complete instruction in the ultimate version of Osterlind's legendary center tear, which can be done in slow motion and completely surrounded. You rip up the paper...and return all of the pieces!

Radar Deck - Four spectators just think of a card and the performer names them all! The full workings and never-before-disclosed handling tips are here, including instructions on how to make your own Radar Deck.

Watch Routine - One spectator thinks of a time while another turns the hands of a face-down watch. When the watch is turned over, it's found to display the first spectator's thought-of time. Perform this miracle anywhere, anytime...and with any watch!Thought Scan - Originally marketed for $250.00, Osterlind's version of the classic Q&A routine is an act in itself. If one could actually read minds, it would look like this!

Magazine Test - In this never-before-released miracle, the performer predicts the word a spectator will circle on a freely-selected page in a magazine. This was the finale for Richard Osterlind's act for many years.

Linking Finger Rings - Wedding bands borrowed from three spectators are linked together in the fairest manner possible. This routine has been called the very best version of this classic effect ever conceived and this is the clearest and most-detailed explanation of the real work.

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