Sunday, January 31, 2010

Project 365 (31/365): Russian Roulette

.:31/365: The Russian Roulette:.

Hi, Angela. It’s been a while.

One of the most dangerous routines of all time is the Russian Roulette. It’s a mentalism act that forces one to rely on his ability to determine if a person is lying or not. I strongly suggest that any mentalist who is just starting out steer clear of this routine until they are both very good at doing the lie detector test, and insured. Even the best professionals get this routine wrong, with often disastrous results.

Like any other mentalism act, the script is rather simple: there are several discs on a table. One of them will have a sharp knife attached to its end. Then, all discs are covered with cups or a cylinder to conceal the location of the knife, and the performer will crush each cylinder by hand one at a time, all with the hopes that none of them actually contains the knife. At each point, the mentalist will be asking the person who mixed up the discs if the spike is there, and the person is indeed required to lie.

I don’t always use this routine simply because it’s a very dangerous one, and will often require me to sign a waiver if I have intentions of performing it. Any organizer who books me would naturally be terrified of the prospect of having their main event impale himself on (in my case) a sharp spike, and knowing my work ethic, finish the show while bleeding like a stuck pig. It conjures very visceral images in the minds of the audience, and you can sense the sheer terror in the air.

I think that out of all the routines I perform, this one gets the strongest reactions because of the tension it creates for everyone. Most magic and mentalism routines produce a certain amount of drama, but the danger often found in acts can seem quite distant to the audience, since many have seen people escape from straightjackets and the like before, or disappear and reappear from one place to another. However, the stakes are insanely high in this act, and anyone can clearly see how terrifying it would be if one got it wrong. Some people think that it might be a case of accomplices, but I can assure you that it’s not. I even offer to pay the guy who manages to fool me into impaling myself. That way, they are motivated to lie better, what with the promise of not only getting me possibly lethally injured, but even compensated for it.

This is one of the best routines in a mentalist’s arsenal, ever. However, I would almost never want to end the show with such a performance because let’s face it, it does create a lot of tension and ends the show on a very agitating note.

Anyone else uses this routine? Let me know how you like it!

The Unsent Series, Volume 3...

.:Feelin' That Feelin' Again: The Unsent Series, Volume 3, Part I:.

Dear Rapunzel,

I saw it coming a mile away. Every twist, every turn, every single thing never once escaped my perception and my intuition.

But I let it happen. All of it. Because I was in love with you, however stupid that was.

I never felt more used and gypped in my entire life, to be honest...

Dear Rapunzel, you’ll only be beautiful for fifteen more years, at the most. But you’re going to be a blooming idiot forever. I take solace in that fact.

Bringing Down The House!

Bringing Down The House (Of Runes):.

Friday night was the start of a new era, hot off the heels after our swan song in Ditzy Diner the previous week. After having risked life and limb in doing Russian Roulette last Friday (and finding myself the receiving end of Dramagician jokes because of it), we took our act to unchartered territories courtesy of fellow mentalist Nomer Lasala: The House Of Runes in West Avenue.

It was quite a challenge, to say the least. We were in a crowd that didn’t seem like our target market, and we didn’t know if we were going to get through them with our comedy style. Despite that, we went ahead and gave them our best shot, and we quickly found out that we could really get them to laugh if we just gave them enough time to warm up to us.

For once, I headlined the night, and I did two of my favourite magic and comedy acts to much success from the audience. At the same time, I tried out some new material and my classic jokes about my misadventures as a magician on TV. All in all, we really caught the attention of everyone there that night, and it’s something to look forward to for next week, to be sure.

We’re gonna be there again next Friday, guys! Catch some magic and standup comedy only at The House Of Runes, Westlife, West Avenue, QC. It’s very near EDSA, so you can’t miss it.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Project 365 (30/365): Bank Night

.:30/365: Bank Night:.

So this is how we’re gonna rob the bank...

The Bank Night routine is one of the nicest ways to open a show, and establishes rapport with your audience as a mentalist from the get-go.

Imagine the mechanics: you have five or more envelopes. One of them contains a thousand-peso bill. The others, not so much. You give a few members of the audience the chance to pick any of the envelopes, and after everything’s said and done, they all end up with the not-so-great envelopes, and they leave you with the envelope containing a lot of money. You get your applause. You have just proven your abilities as a psychological manipulator.

It’s a very simple script, but one that’s both engaging and upbeat at the same time. You get the crowd excited with what you are about to do, and as if that’s not enough, you even tell them the serial number of the bill from memory, just to further prove your abilities as a mentalist.

Richard Osterlind is very well-known for this routine, and it’s one of his favourite show openers, with good reason. As a mentalist, you need to show to your audience that you can excite them, and it’s not going to be just a boring showcase of “I can read your mind, now watch.” You want to engage them in your performance, you want them to feel invested in it. This is why I’m especially fond of this routine, as it really establishes some rapport with your audience right from the start. It also helps the performer ease the butterflies from his stomach before going onstage because he has to commit the serial number of the bill to memory.

It packs small, what with you only using a few pay envelopes, but it plays big, because you can engage a lot of audience members at the same time. It’s a really good way to start off the night, and I highly recommend this routine for any mentalist who still hasn’t found a perfect opener for their show.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Project 365 (29/365), And Another Random Grab-Bag

.:29/365: In League With The Devil?!?:.

I decided to do one of these every now and then, just because Demotivational Posters rule. I’d probably come up with two to four a month in between regular posts... heh.

.:House Of Druids!:.

In the wake of the end of Ditzy Diner, I'm headed to the House Of Druids to do standup there tonight. Let's hope that works out.

.:Microsoft And Bonding:.

Haven't seen Doc and Jester in a long time, so it was a good chance to hang out with them after getting excited about MS Office 2010. For once, I'm really stoked about a Microsoft product!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Personal Milestone...

.:My First Ever “Pro” Set:.

So there I was, attending Spicy Fingers for the first time in about three months. Ever since I found myself busy with showing up on the Disenchanted Kingdom on a regular basis, going to Spicy Fingers on a Monday night seemed to be problematic for me, as it would get in the way of being in the DK the very next day.

Still, as I planned to attend a wake with my open mic friends after the show, I decided to drop in and check things out. Next thing I knew, Pat approached me and asked if I was ready to do a set. I stood there, dumbstruck, but I did manage to utter a very flabbergasted “yes.”

There were seven comedians that night: myself, Nace Cruz (it was also his first set, although he knew in advance that it would be), Derf Hebrado, Victor Anastacio, Raffy Taruc, Marlon Olivan, and Alex Calleja. Yep, not only was it my first ever set in Spicy Fingers, I also opened the bloody thing. You have to understand, opening for a standup comedy night is arguably the most thankless part of the lineup. You had to condition them to laugh by the time the next comedians came up, and most first-timers usually don’t go to the venue prepared to laugh. They usually go there practically daring the comedians to make them laugh.

As a side note, Raffy was unbelievably pointed with his jokes last night. There was a moment there where I just froze, looked at him, and said, “Too soon! Too soon!” And I don’t offend easily. Heh.

So I went up there, and did my abbreviated but meaty three-minute set. I didn’t get a feel for the audience whether or not they were ready for university jokes, so I stuck to magic (but no actual magic tricks), radio, the Weakest Link, and censorship. I actually got to record the first minute of my set, but unfortunately, my video didn’t hold out. It’s fine, though. Not bad for my fourth set of the year, despite an extra-challenging crowd to work with.

Thanks to the Comedy Cartel for the opportunity. You guys are made of win, as always!

A Pat On The Back...


Slept for thirteen hours yesterday. Couldn’t believe it, really. I just went out at 6PM, and woke up at 7AM the next day. Wow.

It’s the perfect way to reward myself for having (finally) submitted my thesis hard copies yesterday. Yeah!

.:Sunday’s Surprise Party:.

I hosted the latter half of Bubba’s (Jane’s beau.) surprise birthday party, and it was quite an awesome night. From Rockeoke (Yes, I sang “What’s Up”!) to Jane and Bubba having a duet live, to seeing Stanley Chi perform again after a long time of being delinquent from Spicy Fingers, it was all good, really.

Carlos, Hannah, and Vince were awesome company. We had a grand time, especially when Carlos and I decided to start doing some magic for Vince, who was just floored by the both of us. Ultimately, the night went really well, from the food to the company, and I’m glad Bubba liked the surprise Jane put together for him. With a girlfriend like Jane, I guess you might say Bubba is one helluva lucky guy. I don’t think I’d ever have someone pull something as big as that for me, after all.

.:Instant Homecoming:.

Last Saturday, I found myself with nowhere to go after a successful show in Woodrose. I was about to just head to Megamall to play some Street Fighter IV when I discovered that the annual alumni homecoming was happening on the same night. It wasn’t too hard to figure out that the appeal of going to my high school alma mater, Don Bosco Technical College, proved to be too much for me to resist.

So I went there and discovered there were only about five of my batch who bothered to go to the homecoming. Despite that, it was fun. Catching up with Luis Geronimo had to be one of the most surprising moments of my life, not because we were pseudo –rivals in high school, but because apparently, we both happened to personally know Manolo Quezon. I have to admit, I couldn’t help but say “small world” when I found out.

The alumni homecoming was definitely fun, although I didn’t feel too compelled to stick around for long. Pauleen Luna was hosting it, the theme was all about wrestling, and some people I haven’t seen in ages, namely Mrs. Etta Benessa, Mr. Narciso Mefragata, and Mr. Sixto Antiga were in attendance. I must say, I felt a lump in my throat as I saw them.

I think I should make this a personal annual tradition for me. In fact, against my better judgment, I started seeking out my classmates from Zone 40. Maybe a decade away from it all has given us rose-colored visions of how things used to be, but I genuinely am proud of having been a Bosconian. That much cannot be denied.

Project 365 (28/365): Mentalism And Ethics

.:28/365: Mentalism And Ethics:.

Meet John Edwards. He’s a douchebag.

I was saving touching on “talking to the dead” for another day, but I think today’s a good time to discuss the great divide in ethics and mentalism. In all honesty, it’s a very touchy subject, because a lot of great mentalist believe that you either never address the question, or you milk it for what it’s worth, simply because the classic adage is: “Nobody likes a fake mentalist.”

To the knowledgeable performer who sees a mentalist, there is nothing amazing about the feats a mentalist can do. A magician can duplicate most of the results a mentalist can pull off with sleight of hand, misdirection, and a host of other methods, and worse, a mentalist, if he relies on educated guesswork, always has a small chance of getting things wrong.

In the end, it’s not really a big issue how a mentalist can achieve what he achieves. To me, a mentalist is simply an entertainer, and if the crowd is entertained, what does it matter how he did his stuff? To me, the problem arises the minute they use their abilities as a mentalist the way John Edwards does above.

As a performer, you make an implicit contract with your audience. You are putting on an act. You are performing. You may be lying to them, but that’s implied to be a part of the deal. This is an implicit contract, and everyone is aware of that.

The minute you decide to claim that you can talk to the dead though, you’re just asking for trouble. It’s just in poor taste to go out there and try to give other people some “messages” despite the fact that you really would have no idea how to talk to the dead if a necrophone were to ever exist. John Edwards is using cold reading, which is a very popular method for most mentalists who rely on psychology. He doesn’t have any powers to speak to the dead. I’ve seen perhaps inexplicable instances where someone could apparently see or sense the dead, but to speak to them? Why are these dead people speaking so vaguely, then?

In the realm of hypnosis and mind control, I’ve been very careful about just teaching my methods, even declining a chance to teach a course on it in Ateneo because of the worry of how people might end up utilizing these techniques. It doesn’t matter if the techniques are not 100% proven. All it takes is one unscrupulous person to use these techniques for the wrong reasons, and that’s quite a terrifying prospect to me. I can’t claim a reliable success rate doing hypnosis, but the fact that I sometimes get a hit only means at some point, I could teach someone who could do it reliably.

There are even a few people who claim that they use mentalism techniques to pick up girls. I don’t know how true these claims are, or how effective these methods are in that regard, but with a vocal minority of magicians in the Philippines deriding mentalists for it, you do have to worry sometimes.

There are a million and one ethical issues about mentalism. It treads on very sensitive grounds, and could very well be used for the wrong things. As a guy who has been specializing in ethics for my Masters degree in Philosophy, I can’t help but want to look at the ethics of deception and be warier of unscrupulous individuals who do more harm than good for the reputation of the art form. Personally, my belief is if you’re ever in doubt, just stick to the main purpose of mentalism: entertainment, entertainment, entertainment.

On a personal note, even if I were a genuine psychic and could literally read minds or talk to the dead, I’d still probably want to limit myself to entertaining people. I don’t want the responsibility of having to dictate to people how to think or live their lives. If I could genuinely predict the lottery, I’d still not want to use that to win on the spot. I’m all for earning my keep, which I’ve been doing all my life. And I don’t need to have a ton of relatives materialize from thin air, either.

And all I could really say right now is: go to hell, John Edwards.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Serenity. Strength. Wisdom.

.:Today’s LSS...:.

You’re In Love
by Wilson Phillips

Open the door and come in
I'm so glad to see you my friend
Don't know how long it has been
Having those feelings again.

And now I see that you're so happy
And ooh, it just sets me free
And I'd like to see
Us as good of friends
As we used to be

Aah, my love, Aah
You're in love
That's the way
It should be
'Cause I want you to be happy
You're in love
And I know
That you're not in love with me
Ooh it's enough
For me to know
That you're in love
Now I'll let you go
'Cause I know
That you're in love

Sometimes it's hard to believe
That you're never coming back to me
I've had this dream that you'd always be by my side
Oh I could have died.

But now I see that you're so happy
And ooh, it just sets me free.
And I'd like to see
Us as good of friends
As we used to be


I tried to find you but you were so far away
I was praying that fate would bring you back to me
Someday, someday, someday... Ooh, you're in love

Ooh it's enough
For me to know
That you're in love
Now I'll let you go
'Cause I know
That you're in love

.:The Ten Rules For Dating Her...:.

I was rewatching “My Sassy Girl” recently, and I just remembered my favourite scene in the movie. I was really a sucker for the part where Cha Tae-Hyun’s character gave this guy who was dating Jeon Ji-Hyun’s character ten rules for dating her. It was really a tear-jerker moment, and it got me to thinking, would I be doing the same thing if the opportunity presented itself?

Since I’m a hopeless romantic, and at some point in my life, I’ve already done the infamous “Love Actually” scene in the past, I guess this is what I would say if I were in Cha Tae-Hyun’s shoes...

1. Don’t ask her to dress femininely. She will dress as she pleases, and you will just have to respect that.

2. Learn to drink and to hold your alcohol. Nobody, not even a straight edge, is spared.

3. Yogurt. Like it. Love it. Always make room for it.

4. If she hits you, act like it hurts. If it really does, act like it doesn’t.

5. A pink rose will do more wonders than a red rose.

6. You don’t need to know how to sing. You just have to be capable of doing it for seven straight hours in a videoke room with her.

7. Be prepared to be severely put on blast on the air sometimes.

8. If she says she’ll kill you, don’t take it lightly. If she puts you down, let her. No matter how much she’s asking for it, never put her down right back. You never hit a princess back. Never.

9. If her feet hurt from walking around and shopping for hours, buy her a pair of Havaianas. Unless you want to exchange shoes with her, that is.

10. She has many dreams and goals. At some point, your very presence may get in the way. It doesn’t matter. Encourage her to reach for them. She’s worth it.

Project 365 (27/365): Drawing Duplication

.:27/365: Drawing Duplication:.

Hello, boys. Meet Angela Funovits. Yes, she counts as a mentalist.

One of the most common demonstrations of mind-reading for the mentalist has got to be the drawing duplication routine. An act often performed by the irrepressible Uri Geller, this crowd favourite has two people, a volunteer and the mentalist, standing back to back, and while the volunteer is drawing something on the canvas, the mentalist is apparently drawing a very similar thing.

It’s considered remote viewing, to a large extent, but it’s still one of the coolest applications of this particular skill. Given the mechanics, the simplicity of the script when it comes to performing this routine cannot be denied, and is precisely what makes it appealing to the working performer. I mean, how much simpler can it be, right? You draw something, the mentalist duplicates it. Sometimes, knowing that the mentalist is using intuition to get things right makes near misses even more amazing than having the mentalist get it 100% dead on.

That being said, the Drawing Duplication routine is certainly one of the most powerful routines out there, and there are a million and one ways to do it. I sometimes include it in my show when I have a string of mind-reading feats I wish to demonstrate, and overall, it’s a definite crowd-pleaser, especially if your volunteer decides to be a bit naughty with his or her drawing.

Just about every mentalist of note has their own take on it. From Guy Bavli to Osterlind to Banachek to Maven to Derren Brown, these mentalists have made it clear that this act is a keeper and it’s a classic for a reason. You’d be insane to not include it in your act if you’re a full-time mentalist. It’s short, sweet, direct to the point, and makes for a nice memento after your performance.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

If Life Is So Short...

.:Life Could Be So Short Sometimes:.

Though I knew you briefly, I cherished your friendship dearly…

Last Monday, I attended a wake for a friend after going to Spicy Fingers. The somber mood in the air sort of affected things, but the show must go on, and I’m sure our friend would’ve expected nothing less of us.

So we got to Heritage, and the comedians just caught up with each other, albeit we were all together just last Friday. It was quite a shift in tone, considering how people were grieving, but they were trying to not let it overwhelm the entire evening.

My friend lived a short but meaningful life. I know I’m not perfectly qualified to judge her, but in the few months I have known her, she was nothing but a wonderful person who reminded me and everyone around her that we were all great people. She was the one who was always perceptive, always intuitive, and knew just what to say at the right time, with just the amount of sass and class so as not to come off as preachy or overbearing.

Out of respect to my fellow comedian, I’m holding off on mentioning her name. It seems a little too soon for me to speak of her in this manner, not because I have anything offensive to say about her, but because for me, she died too young, and I wish my fellow comedian didn’t have to go through what I know he’s going through right now.

.:Farewell, Ma'am Edna:.

Everything I do today, I can’t imagine having done them all without you. You were my mentor, you were my friend, you were like a mother to me. I know I never failed to thank you, and to let you know I loved you, but I still wish I could’ve done more…

Last Saturday, in the middle of the alumni homecoming, I was dumbstruck when Luis told me the news: my English teacher in first and second year, Ms. Edna Rivero, passed away at the height of Ondoy. Apparently, complications took its toll on her, and she didn’t make it through.

Like Teacher Glo, Ma’am Edna was one of the teachers in my life who really made an indelible impression on me. She never failed to encourage me in everything I did, and always made me feel that I was doing something worthwhile as a student. She was the one who taught me how to take over a class and made me an unofficial student teacher of sorts. In fact, in freshman high, I won in the student teacher contest they launched for that year. She also fought for me, practically crawling over a bed of hot coals, when it turned out I wasn’t going to get the Communications Award during graduation. She refused to allow me to not be recognized for my efforts in high school, and lobbied to have a Special Award for Journalism made specifically for me to win.

Some might deride that as a “consolation prize” of sorts, but to me, that was the most special award I received, arguably even more than the Cum Laude I received in college. To me, that was not just a recognition of my work: it was a testament of Ma’am Edna’s love for me. As a student, I never felt more loved, more special, than when Ma’am Edna fought to have that award created and given to me. In succeeding years, the award ceased to exist. Effectively, unless someone decides to revive it, I was the first and last recipient of that award.

Ma’am Edna was always full of life and very passionate about what she did. I remember how much she loved preparing for Intramural openings, always steering her house’s presentation towards a tribal theme, no matter what the theme was. We even joked that even if we had a future-themed intrams, she’d probably premise her presentation as tribal because a nuclear holocaust has sent everyone back into a primitive lifestyle.

She also picked me to be the editor-in-chief of my batch’s yearbook. To my recollection, my batch was arguably the fastest batch to receive its yearbook, as we worked very hard on it and had the whole thing ready shortly after the next schoolyear began. We graduated in 2000, so unless I’m mistaken, we got our yearbook in 2000. The batch before us had to wait another year before they got theirs. =P

She was my mentor and I’ll never forget her. It didn’t matter if she never corrected my enunciation to the point that I’m realizing on a daily basis how many common words I actually mispronounce. It didn’t matter if I didn’t win the spelling bee she relentlessly drilled me in (I got one mistake in the difficult round. The winner got one mistake in the easy round. Crazy, huh?). All that mattered is I’d like to think I turned out an okay person, and someone who has managed to impart that kind of passion Ma’am Edna had in the time I was teaching. Maybe I’m not yet done teaching, right? Who knows? All I know is if I could only be half the kind of teacher Ma’am Edna was, I’d have been nothing short of a great teacher.

Thank you, Ma’am Edna. I know I wasn’t there to pay my last respects to you (I wish I knew. I certainly would’ve had I known.), but I hope that somehow, this message, with all my love and gratitude, could go out to you.

Project 365 (26/365): Phenomenon

.:26/365: Phenomenon:.

Scripted or real? Too bad I don’t care about Criss or Jim. At all.

You could simply believe that mentalism has hit either an all-time high or an all-time low the minute television comes up with an American Idol-style reality show for them, all the while skirting the uncomfortable question: how is any of this stuff done, and do these people genuinely have powers? Despite that very awkward question that the show never makes an attempt to answer, it was still worth a lot of entertainment value, albeit for me, the whole program made no sense.

Essentially, you had eight mentalists come together to show everyone who’s the best, you put together Uri Geller and Criss Angel to judge the program, then after you crown your “Phenomenon”, what’s supposed to happen to him or her? This is akin to a really bad season of American Idol, where you don’t even know or care who ended up winning. I do know who won because I had a vested interest in the competition as a mentalist, but what about the general public? Did this program’s production team even bother to make it a point to market the winner of the competition. After five episodes, Mike Super came out as the winner of the whole thing, and nobody knows or cares about him, no matter how good he actually was.

Personally, I liked Mike Super’s performances. I think he carried himself in a way that made mentalism very fun and exciting and strayed from the traditional approach of contemporary performers. He was part mentalist, part game show host, and it really worked. I personally feel he deserved to win based on the strength of his performance style, although I’m a bit tired of seeing a million and one variations on the PK touch, and let’s face it: he was one of those guilty of that.

Overall, I believe that this show didn’t really achieve its objective of getting mentalism out there and having it more recognized in the mainstream. That’s too bad, although thankfully, the TV show “The Mentalist” managed to help ease that failure somewhat.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Project 365 (25/365): The Mentalist TV Show

.:25/365: The Mentalist:.

As mentalism becomes more and more known by the mainstream, it was just a matter of time before a TV show about one had to be made.

This is a show that follows Patrick Jane (Simon Baker), an independent consultant for the California Bureau of Investigation based in Sacramento, California. He has an impressive track record for solving heinous crimes by utilizing his skills, including mentalism. As a semi-celebrity in the past by being a fake psychic medium, he is attempting to redeem himself for the death of his wife and daughter, who were murdered by a serial killer attracted by his previous attention-seeking behaviour.

I have to admit that the premise of the show is incredibly interesting, and at the same time, very relatable to a lot of mentalists, especially those who are not fond of believing in any paranormal abilities. While there are opposing schools in the realm of mentalism, it appears to always be the case that there’s this one particular fortune teller who frequently gets things right that we’ve never encountered before. Skepticism does have a long road ahead of it when it comes to debunking hacks and swindlers, and this quest is far from over.

The Mentalist is a very well-executed show, and the appeal to CSI fanatics out there can be quite strong. I suggest you give this show a watch if you ever find it available. Outside of that, I don’t really have much to say about the show, since it’s not really performance mentalism that we witness when watching the program, but mostly real-world application of one’s powers of deduction and mentalist skills at work.

Apparently, there is some measure of usefulness for mentalism in the real world...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Project 365 (24/365): Keith Barry

.:24/365: Keith Barry:.

This is Keith Barry’s take on the blindfold act.

Okay, I’ll be honest with you: I like him, but I personally feel he’s lacking a little something as a performer. His biggest advantage is mainly the rub he gets by performing for celebrities in his shows, but outside of that, he hasn’t really done anything yet to strike me as a cut above the rest. His scripting for his routines aren’t refreshingly different, his effects aren’t terribly original, and he’s not particularly funny, either.

What you cannot fault him for, though, is his ability to capture an audience. He may not be the best performer I have ever witnessed doing mentalism, but he knows how to get his name out there, and perhaps finds his popularity almost comparable to most of his other contemporary TV magicians. As a marketing man, Keith Barry certainly knows how to attract the right kinds of people.

Keith is of Irish descent and you can tell as much by hearing him speak with that unmistakable accent of his. He has a lot of things going for him as a performer, as he has crossover appeal, which even some of our best mentalists still find difficult to achieve. Nonetheless, he is often one of the first mentalists a good number of casual fans tend to know, so he does deserve a place of recognition in this month’s focus on mentalism.

Look for his TV special “Extraordinary” or bits and pieces of it on YouTube (The above video came from that TV special.). Even if you’re an advanced mentalist, you would appreciate the way he dresses up his routines to appeal to the average viewer.

Project 365 (23/365), And A Random Grab-Bag

.:23/365: The Blindfold Act Or Remote Viewing:.

This is my demonstration of the blindfolded rubik’s solve.

Remote viewing seems to be the one branch of mentalism that has had the most practical use over the years, assuming that it works perfectly. There was a time when the FBI actually used remote viewing to aid them in solving crimes, such that they’d have supposed psychics focus on finding kidnap victims or analyzing crime scenes.

Unfortunately, as my demonstration has shown, I don’t quite have that kind of range just yet, and am restricted to remote viewing in my proximity and in real time. The blindfolded Rubik’s solve is something I learned from Richard Osterlind, and is one of the key highlights of my act. Now, in my case, it could be called a blindfold act, but if I were to attempt to dictate to a person how to solve a cube while I stood in another room, that would not be a blindfold act, but it would still be remote viewing.

I love this routine, because it’s such a hard worker. It never fails to please the audience, and any skeptics you might run into are quickly flabbergasted when you start solving the cube behind your back, deliberately holding the cube in front of you both for orientation and drama purposes.

Remote viewing is something that has been utilized by pretty much every single mentalist of note out there, although there are a million and one variations. We’ve mentioned in the past that Uri Geller has also performed his own version of remote viewing, specifically doing the blindfolded drive. Osterlind has done it, I’m almost certain Banachek could’ve done it, as it’s right up his alley, and of course, the great Glenn Faulkenstein has done a signature blindfold act with his wife for decades.

The possibilities are limitless when it comes to sightless vision. As an entertainer, I certainly love the things I can pull off with it. But imagine this... if everyone could only do remote viewing even just by proximity, barring worries of peeping Tom’s, wouldn’t that be a good thing?

.:Spare Us!:.

Manny Villar's jingle is now in Japanese.

.:The Countdown To Stepdown!:.

It's 158 days before GMA says goodbye to the presidency!

.:The Final Showdown:.

Ditzy Diner's last ever open mic was amazing. That is all I can say about it for now, although I must warn that I was completely out of character that night, like anything. Needless to say, we're gonna miss that place after everything's been said and done.

I really went and left it all on the stage that night. I was extremely harried, what with the double whammy I got hit with earlier that afternoon. Still, my third set for the year went over very well.

.:Impromptu Homecoming:.

After a very successful show in Woodrose where I was asked to do an encore by the audience, I found out through Eky that tonight was Don Bosco Technical College's homecoming, so I promptly dropped by. There were only five of us there: Patrick Cruz, Nilo, Jeff Ching, and Luis Geronimo. Mrs. Benessa also showed up, so did Mr. Antiga and Mr. Mefragata. Wow.

I was a bit saddened that I found out only tonight that my mentor in English, Edna Rivero, passed away last September, at the height of Ondoy. I owe it to her to write more about my memories and experiences of her once I gather my thoughts...

Friday, January 22, 2010

Randomicity On A Friday...

.:The Crown Jules Of Congress!:.

My article for the POC got published today. I hope you check it out! :D

.:Disenchanted Kingdom And Political Correctness Don’t Get Along:.

Marf, Logan, Cleo, Kel, and David from France. No, I wasn’t feeling any unusual amount of “pleasure” that morning.

Wow. That was just crazy. From lampooning French accents to making gay jokes to an endless stream of fat jokes, today’s DK was just packed with political incorrectness all the way! I don’t think we could’ve gotten any more vicious than we did this morning.

Couple this with some really hilariously bad jokes, Marf spouting John C. Maxwell as if he were possessed by the Sto. Nino, and funny moments as we “Countdown To Stepdown” for our beloved president, and you know that the show was just something else.

It was pretty cool running into a Frenchman by the name of David during the show this morning, really. I always wanted to ask how to properly pronounce Blaise Pascal’s “Le coeur a ses raisons que la raisons ne’ connait pas,” and I was told I was actually spot-on with my pronunciation. I like to keep a few good quotes in various language, and Blaise Pascal’s immortal quote is one of them.

There was even mention of maybe going to Camarines Sur and then biking to this other island, and how a non-biker like Cleo could either be carried piggyback or ride on the handlebars, ala most Korean movies out there.

Not a bad show to end the week, I guess

.:This Is Why Crissey Rocks!:.


Thanks, Crissey! You’re the absolute best!

Paano Na Kaya?

.:Paano Na Kaya, And Thoughts On Friends And Lovers:.

I have a sheepish confession... I have never missed a Kimerald film. From “First Day High” to “I’ve Fallen For You”, I sat through all of them. Yes, no matter how contrived the plot may have been, or how unbelievable it can get.

Knowing that, can you expect me to do anything else but to catch their fourth official outing together (Although I’m reluctant to count SR&R X, to be honest.)? I’ve always been a big fan of Kimerald, and I actually watched “Sana Maulit Muli,” despite the terrible ending.

“Paano Na Kaya” follows the story of two best friends, and how one is in love with the other, but discovers that the feeling isn’t mutual. To make matters more complicated, while they do become an item at some point in the film, it appears that it is merely a rebound relationship, and things get progressively worse for the two of them, as not only are they torn apart as lovers, but also as friends.

I used to believe that the best kinds of lovers are those who develop from being very close friends, albeit I have yet to experience anything like that.

As the years went by, though, I felt less and less inclined to believe that great friends could make great lovers. Or maybe it’s just me. I wouldn’t know, really.

When I consider the people I’m closest to, I find it difficult to imagine myself becoming anything more than friends with them. It seems that the whole concept of a “friend zone” is simply an insurmountable hurdle that comes with the territory. Years of having known each other in and out, of having seen the worst that we all have to offer, seems to be a kiss of death to any hopes for a relationship, and it cuts both ways, more often than not.

But whatever. I'm still watching the movie fo sho.

Project 365 (22/365): Card Mentalism

.:22/365: Card Mentalism:.

Meet Cyril Takayama. You will hear about him a lot more in future posts.

One facet of the art that is always associated with the traditional magician would certainly have to be card magic. The flashy moves of a McBride, or the quiet but smooth execution of a Blaine often conjures images of magicians, rather than mentalists.

While we have to admit that magic and mentalism do overlap in a lot of ways, there are certain things that simply fall under outright mentalism. Some mentalists such as myself are not big fans of using cards because they are so commonplace and so associated with cardicians that we sometimes worry that anything we do, no matter how legitimate as a demonstration of mind-reading, could be handwaved as merely a feat of sleight of hand. That’s a bit of a tough call for mentalists, because a good deal of the time, we go into mentalism precisely because we can’t really do much in the way of sleights. Of course, there are many exceptions, but in general, some of the best mentalism card effects simply don’t involve any sleights, to begin with.

A good friend of mine, Cakit, is a big fan of card mentalism. I don’t begrudge him: he has really worked hard at honing his craft, and really, it’s quite enticing for a performer to have an arsenal at his disposal that can last him hours on end right in his pocket. Ask any good cardician: they swear by their cards because with their abilities, they can entertain for quite a long time with just one deck. A card mentalist worth his salt shouldn’t be too different, either. It’s simply a brilliant move if you are dedicated enough to it, the way other mentalists dedicate themselves to metal bending or remote viewing or some other specialization.

We couldn’t really say that there is a lack of effects or treatments for card mentalism, but there is certainly a lack of prominence for it. Despite a plethora of effects to play with, it is certainly underrepresented in the industry, relative to the available routines out there. Here’s hoping more people do carry the torch, as I personally don’t think I’ll be one of them anytime soon.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hot And Cold

.:Disenchanted Kingdom, Featuring Elbert Or And Jonas Diego!:.

Elbert and Jonas really caught the attention of a lot of people today when they guested on this morning’s edition of the Disenchanted Kingdom. The episode itself went really well, considering how we had a lot of political comedy and a whole bunch of quips about Jason Ivler among other topics, as well as a tease of another on-air tiff when we talked about insomnia.

I recently made a new friend, Mich Co, and she was listening this morning. Considering how she put a silly grin on my face and caused me to stay up late last night just getting to know her, I guess it was really good to know that I chose my time wisely and really met an awesome person who tuned in to the show.

Having said that, Jonas and Elbert were their usual humorous selves, and we were having a fun time talking about comics and how they both got their start. It was really good to see them in their element and talking about how well they did in the line of work that they chose for themselves, and the fact that the references to the fringe benefits of being a comic book artist really got highlighted was just an awesome part of the show. I think they interacted very well with the whole usual gang of idiots thanks to the comedy and offbeat commentary.

Ultimately, it was a great show and a fun guesting with Elbert and Jonas. Here’s hoping that the listeners who consider comic books really get inspired to pursue their dreams.

.:Blood Is Truly Thicker Than Water:.

Truly, fewer things are more unconditional in this world than a mother’s love. Despite Jason Ivler’s rather heinous crimes, his mother, Marlene Aguilar, still stands by him all the way.

It doesn’t matter if he’s innocent or guilty. Marlene will pull out all the stops just to make sure that he is saved from a harsh life in jail. I mean, considering what kind of a pretty boy he is, you can be sure he’s not going to like the life waiting for him in jail once he gets there. Or he might. There’s that wee possibility, after all. Not to mention that there must be a million “Anak” lyric jokes about Ivler by now, but I digress.

I don’t begrudge Mrs. Aguilar’s behaviour. Ultimately, a mother would do what she can to protect her son, and no matter what Jason Ivler may have done, Marlene Aguilar will still be his mom. I don’t have to like it or agree with it, but I certainly understand where she’s coming from. She may or may not believe in her son’s innocence, but she will do whatever it takes to keep her out of harm’s way. That’s how genuine a mother’s love can be, and you have to respect that aspect of it.

It’s a tragedy how such a promising young man has come to this. We could try to analyze his values and his upbringing all we want, but in the end, he will have to face the music for his actions. He has already killed two people because of his actions, and he certainly needs help.

Seeing all this, I guess I can’t help but feel disturbed that in contrast , another mother, driven by poverty, drowns her kids. At first glance, this seemed like a heartless thing to do. I mean, by no means am I glorifying Mrs. Aguilar, but compared to this mom, Marlene seemed like a saint.

Then again, when you think about it, as twisted as the logic is, she killed her kids to spare them the misery of poverty. She didn’t do it because she despised her kids, but because she, in her limited capacity to think in the heat of the moment, felt it was best for them to not live this life anymore because she couldn’t give them the kind of life she believes they deserved. That’s still love. And it’s hard to comprehend and to imagine, but I could see that going through her head as she tried to put her children out of their misery.

It’s rather sobering to think that our country has gotten to such a point where it would seem almost excusable, almost understandable to kill your own children just to spare them from the harsh realities of life. I think about this sad development, and I can’t help but ask myself why this has happened. Apparently, we have reached that point.

And yet we still want to elect plunderers, brazen liars, lapdogs, pompous jackasses, and swindlers? Do we need to actually appreciate the merits of mercy killing just to get by in this country? I’d lead a battlecry to wake up the nation, but unfortunately, I know this post will fall on deaf ears and heard hearts.

Truly, a mother’s love knows no bounds. One could only wish a Filipino’s love for her own country could be more of the same.

Project 365 (21/365): Muscle Reading

.:21/365: Muscle Reading:.

Banachek does it, too.

While most people who know Kreskin nowadays would recognize him mainly for his annual predictions, there was something he was far more popular for.

Muscle reading is that often-discarded facet of mentalism that requires an immense amount of trial and error, coupled with practice and recognition of subtleties. Essentially, the mentalist, in being in proximity of a person, can determine something like where that person hid something simply through “reading” the person’s muscles, which allows him to discover the location of the hidden object.

It’s a very powerful way to impress your audience, and something that Kreskin has mastered. He always made it the highlight of his show. In his long career, he often challenged the person who booked him to hide the check somewhere in the building, and through muscle reading, he has managed to find it with a great deal of consistency.

In fact, he missed finding the check less than ten times throughout his career. That says quite a lot about his prowess when it comes to muscle reading, although plenty of naysayers still believe he used a different method to find the checks rather than muscle reading.

Banachek also earned a reputation for doing muscle reading, and in his video series, the PSI series, one entire volume was devoted to the workings of muscle reading, teaching the budding mentalist the rudiments and the necessary steps to properly pull it off.

The allure of muscle reading should be obvious to anyone who is reading right now: if close contact with a person allows you to discover something they hid using subtle physiological cues they cannot suppress, then this becomes an amazing form of accurate mind-reading. Imagine interviewing someone and being able to know unequivocally if they’re bluffing or speaking the truth. Imagine feeling if Manny Villar or Noynoy Aquino or Dick Gordon were sincere with their intentions for the government. The possibilities are endless, and the best muscle readers are practically walking polygraph tests, with even less odds of being beaten than the real ones.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Not Original Content Here At All...

Yegads. Today's show shocked me...

Anyways, here are a couple of things I'd love to share. I think both topics hit home with me today...

.:Ode To The Nice Guys:.
Author Unknown, taken from this site

This is a tribute to the nice guys. The nice guys that finish last, that never become more than friends, that endure hours of whining and bitching about what assholes guys are, while disproving the very point. This is dedicated to those guys who always provide a shoulder to lean on but restrain themselves to tentative hugs, those guys who hold open doors and give reassuring pats on the back and sit patiently outside the changing room at department stores. This is in honor of the guys that obligingly reiterate how cute/beautiful/smart/funny/sexy their female friends are at the appropriate moment, because they know most girls need that litany of support. This is in honor of the guys with open minds, with laid-back attitudes, with honest concern. This is in honor of the guys who respect a girl’s every facet, from her privacy to her theology to her clothing style.

This is for the guys who escort their drunk, bewildered female friends back from parties and never take advantage once they’re at her door, for the guys who accompany girls to bars as buffers against the rest of the creepy male population, for the guys who know a girl is fishing for compliments but give them out anyway, for the guys who always play by the rules in a game where the rules favor cheaters, for the guys who are accredited as boyfriend material but somehow don’t end up being boyfriends, for all the nice guys who are overlooked, underestimated, and unappreciated, for all the nice guys who are manipulated, misled, and unjustly abandoned, this is for you.

This is for that time she left 40 urgent messages on your cell phone, and when you called her back, she spent three hours painstakingly dissecting two sentences her boyfriend said to her over dinner. And even though you thought her boyfriend was a chump and a jerk, you assured her that it was all ok and she shouldn’t worry about it. This is for that time she interrupted the best killing spree you’d ever orchestrated in GTA3 to rant about a rumor that romantically linked her and the guy she thinks is the most repulsive person in the world. And even though you thought it was immature and you had nothing against the guy, you paused the game for two hours and helped her concoct a counter-rumor to spread around the floor. This is also for that time she didn’t have a date, so after numerous vows that there was nothing “serious” between the two of you, she dragged you to a party where you knew nobody, the beer was awful, and she flirted shamelessly with you, justifying each fit of reckless teasing by announcing to everyone: “oh, but we’re just friends!” And even though you were invited purely as a symbolic warm body for her ego, you went anyways. Because you’re nice like that.

The nice guys don’t often get credit where credit is due. And perhaps more disturbing, the nice guys don’t seem to get laid as often as they should. And I wish I could logically explain this trend, but I can’t. From what I have observed on campus and what I have learned from talking to friends at other schools and in the workplace, the only conclusion I can form is that many girls are just illogical, manipulative bitches. Many of them claim they just want to date a nice guy, but when presented with such a specimen, they say irrational, confusing things such as “oh, he’s too nice to date” or “he would be a good boyfriend but he’s not for me” or “he already puts up with so much from me, I couldn’t possibly ask him out!” or the most frustrating of all: “no, it would ruin our friendship.” Yet, they continue to lament the lack of datable men in the world, and they expect their too-nice-to-date male friends to sympathize and apologize for the men that are jerks. Sorry, guys, girls like that are beyond my ability to fathom. I can’t figure out why the connection breaks down between what they say (I want a nice guy!) and what they do (I’m going to sleep with this complete ass now!). But one thing I can do, is say that the nice-guy-finishes-last phenomenon doesn’t last forever. There are definitely many girls who grow out of that train of thought and realize they should be dating the nice guys, not taking them for granted. The tricky part is finding those girls, and even trickier, finding the ones that are single.

So, until those girls are found, I propose a toast to all the nice guys. You know who you are, and I know you’re sick of hearing yourself described as ubiquitously nice. But the truth of the matter is, the world needs your patience in the department store, your holding open of doors, your party escorting services, your propensity to be a sucker for a pretty smile. For all the crazy, inane, absurd things you tolerate, for all the situations where you are the faceless, nameless hero, my accolades, my acknowledgment, and my gratitude goes out to you. You do have credibility in this society, and your well deserved vindication is coming.

.:Today's LSS:.

I really love this song. It's my cold comfort.

Yeah, Whatever
by Splender

And you're primitive
And you're cynical to me
And I chewed down on the bit
And almost swallowed it

You sit all alone with your color TV
Your hair starts to glisten
In spite of the fleas
We don't have to stay friends
Let's pretend to be enemies

Yeah, whatever makes you happy
Yeah, whatever makes it beautiful
Yeah, whatever leaves you satisfied
Cause I'm out of time
For now

And you're paranoid
As you look me up and down
And I'm soaked in gasoline
Mud and ice cream

You sit by the phone with your tongue hanging out
You cradle the flies in the back of your mouth
We don't have to stay friend
Let's pretend to be enemies

Damned if you do
F***** if you don't
Damned if you do
What if you won't

You must be aware what you're doing to me
We sunk like a stone on a rock in the sea
We don't have to stay friends
(Not for very long)
We don't have to stay friends
(Just because you're gone)

You get what you want cause you won't let it die

Yeah, whatever makes you happy
Yeah, whatever leaves you insecure
Yeah, whatever seems to break you down

Cause I'm out of time
But I'm feeling fine

Just A Brief Reminder...

Jonas and Elbert will be guesting on 99.5 RT tomorrow for the Disenchanted Kingdom. They're talking about comics.

7-9AM, on the station that plays the best music on the planet! :D

Project 365 (20/365): The Book Test

.:20/365: The Book Test:.

While yeah, the example of Black Ops Hypnosis I showed last time was also a book test, I do believe that the whole scheme of finding out what word a person is thinking from among thousands of possible words has got to be one of the most astounding feats in mentalism.

There are a million and one types of ways to pull it off, albeit the most obvious solution still stands as the most difficult and impressive of them all: outright memorizing the entirety of a book in order to know which words can be found on which pages. It’s quite an impressive thing to do, but that’s not quite the mentalism feat that we hope to observe, since it’s not particularly involved in “reading” somebody’s mind, as it were, but a case of showing off that one’s faculties are continually sharp and at the ready for anything.

What I believe is the best book test out there would have to be Marc Paul’s “AAA Book Test.” What sets it apart from other performances is that it is absolutely impromptu and never fails to leave your audience aghast over how you could’ve possibly achieved such an impossible feat. Marc Paul is one of the most underrated mentalists out there in the industry, so it would certainly do well to take a gander at his works, because he is quite a hidden goldmine of powerful advice and material for the working mentalist, such as myself.

There are many other versions out there, such as the Flashback principle by Larry Becker, or the Dracula principle, or the Sherlock Holmes principle, but ultimately, any mentalist worth his salt would have a book test or two up his arsenal, as that is one of the simplest ways to demonstrate mind-reading without putting yourself entirely at the mercy of a skeptical and ruthless audience who might try throwing you off if other forms of mind-reading were employed.

Learn it, love it, use it. The book test is fun, impressive, and if you could ever possibly use the “obvious” method, then you don’t even need to do anything else. Just impress people with your monster memory, and take your brain to the bank (P.S. It also helps to play card games. Heh.).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Tonight I Can Write. Oh, Yes, I Can.

Something in me was set off last night when I read Neruda. I guess it’s just appropriate, really.

.:Tonight, I Can Write...:.

Tonight I Can Write The Saddest Lines
By Pablo Neruda

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write for example, ‘The night is shattered
and the blue stars shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.
I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.
How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.
To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear immense night, still more immense without her.
And the verse falls to the soul like dew to a pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.
The night is shattered and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.
My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight searches for her as though to go to her.
My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.
We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.
My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. Like my kisses before.
Her voice. Her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.
Love is short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms
my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer
and these the last verses that I write for her.

By Kel

I had a dream – this love affair has turned sour
The sweetness of you and I has faded away
A terrible omen heralding the darkest hour
A good night’s sleep gone completely astray

I trembled and shivered in cold and fear
As you and I touched, I could numbly feel
This was our last kiss, and all we held dear
All turned into lies, nothing stays real

You whispered softly then kissed me goodbye
In my dream you left in the dead of night
My whole world revolved around you and I
Without you by my side, nothing seemed right

My slumber disturbed, my cares laid bare anew
The creeping dread grew far too strong
In the darkness I turned, and then I knew...
“You and I” was but a dream – I never had you all along

Project 365 (19/365), And A Brief Obituary...

.:19/365: Corinda:.

Ah, yes. The author of what is frequently considered as the bible for mentalists: the 13 Steps To Mentalism. Tony Corinda is a man shrouded in mystery, and has been living in retirement for decades already, yet very little is known about him.

What we do know is this, though: as the author of the 13 Steps, Corinda has given rise to modern mentalism, and has influenced a whole generation of mentalists. The performers I look up to, from Osterlind to Maven to Derren, all owe quite a lot to Corinda, and it can’t be denied how huge an influence he has been on the entire industry to this very day. Anyone who has seen 13 Steps could attest that despite the age of the text, it’s anything but outdated. It has excellent tips about billets, the Swami, making predictions, blind sight, and a host of other effects that mentalists utilize in their arsenal.

I may not know much about him other than the contents of his seminal work, but I’d be remiss not to mention the man I consider as the father of modern mentalism, and this short but sweet post is in honor of the man.

.:Farewell, Cerge:.

I shall not spit on your grave albeit I have no tears to shed, but perhaps, a moment of silence will suffice for one such as you.

You always had a way with words.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Project 365 (18/365), And A New DK Week!

.:18/365: Predictions:.

A Larry Becker killer effect to show off what predictions are all about.

There are so many variations for predictions, I decided to just include them all here in one discussion.

The thing with predictions is, it’s a very strong allure for most people to be able to determine the future, and to find someone capable of doing so. It boils back down to the Oracle phenomenon and how the regular question and answer segment mentalists do can often be the highlight of their one or two-hour show.

Whether it’s about mentalists who attempt to predict the lottery, or the fabled notarized headline predictions by Devin Knight, mentalism has managed to achieve a point where almost anything can be predicted, albeit one is led to wonder why none of these accurate predictions has ever resulted in a mentalist actually winning the lottery. Would the ethics involved truly be too much of a dilemma for them?

I’ve had my share of prediction routines in the past, and I must say, these routines are among the hardest-hitting of the lot. When you make a prediction, and it’s accurate, and people are racking their brains trying to figure out how it’s possible, well you manage to establish yourself in a way nobody can possibly hope to.

Prediction routines, when hyped properly and when done correctly, can get you the most mileage in terms of publicity and recognition. I’ve done simple predictions in the past where months later, a former client would approach me from out of the blue just to tell me that I did something right. It’s quite a great feeling, really.

I’d love to show you one of my prediction routines, but wouldn’t you know it, I actually haven’t really allowed myself to be filmed yet doing one of them...

I predict you’re disappointed, but just look at it this way: out of all the mentalism effects out there, this is arguably the one that needs the least amount of explanation or buildup. Everyone understands what’s at stake when you make a prediction, and manage to nail it.

.:Today’s DK...:.

... the Por-No, Por-Yes record has been broken by K-24/7! Wow!

Also, we’ve had tons of really funny jokes in our joketime segment this morning, not to mention a lot of other interesting conversations, including Jason Ivler, Kris Aquino, and so forth.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s episode, as well as the episode featuring Jonas Diego and Elbert Or on Thursday, as they talk about comics.

Catch the Disenchanted Kingdom on 99.5 RT, Mondays to Fridays, 6-9 AM. This was an awesome start to the week. =D

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Project 365 (17/365): Max Maven

.:17/365: Max Maven:.

Also known as Phil Goldstein, the incorrigible Max Maven has been a luminary in the world of mentalism for decades, replete with the look and demeanor of a performer that simply looks intimidating and downright Satanic at times. Whether or not you agree with his image consultant, though, Mr. Maven is undoubtedly one of the most prolific and highly respected mentalists of our contemporary times, and with good reason.

He is joined by Banachek and Osterlind as the three contemporary pillars of mentalism, albeit mainly for the video-watching public. In my opinion, other luminaries like Devin Knight deserve their props for the ideas they continue to provide, albeit through books rather than DVD’s. As a performer, Maven establishes a persona that departs quite drastically from Osterlind’s “uncle next-door” or Banachek’s “everyday joe” or Derren Brown’s “smooth operator” persona. Max Maven, with his eyeliner, slicked back hair, and thin and well-groomed beard, appears every bit of an occultist rather than a mentalist.

Yet his body of work establishes him as one of the best thinkers in contemporary mentalism. His colored books of mentalism, his “Videomind” series and his “Nothing” special, as well as numerous young mentalists (Such as one Nomer Lasala.) who have been influenced by his undoubtedly striking onstage persona, are all testament to how big Maven’s contributions to mentalism happen to be.

It’s amazing how scary he can be, yet still possess impeccable comic timing and a very unique speech pattern that at times makes you think he is speaking English as if he memorized it phonetically, ala Bela Lugosi. The fine line he treads between coming off as an occult master and a very deadpan comedian can be quite difficult to approximate, and most mentalists who try to imitate him often fall hard to one side or the other. What sets Max apart is he manages to strike the balance in a way only he could, neither aspect of his performing style ever truly dominating the other.

Any mentalist worth his salt should get ideas from books and not exclusively videos. While videos are excellent sources of actual performances, the books give ideas to mentalists that even the writers themselves may have never considered. The possibilities are indeed endless when it comes down to it, and Maven’s books are always a good place to start for the intermediate practitioner. Personally, I continue to maintain that Corinda’s 13 Steps, while a tad dated, still serves as the best building block for the beginner mentalist, and afterwards, going over some of the Maven/Goldstein books should prove to be mighty helpful.

There are rumors, by the way, that like Derren Brown, Max Maven is actually gay. Whether or not this is true, I wouldn’t know. Nor would I care, as what he does in bed with men or women in no way changes the amazing things his mind is capable of.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Project 365 (16/365), And Ditzy Night!

.:16/365: A Reminder To Mentalists Like Myself...:.

I know, I know. I’m cheating. But isn’t it so true?

.:Ditzy Friday!:.

With amazing comics, a good performance of Liquid Metal for a lady named Monica from MYX (My second standup set for the year.), and tons of videoke afterwards, Ditzy Diner is really making good on its last month.

I’m gonna miss that place...

Friday, January 15, 2010

Project 365 (15/365): Project Alpha

.:15/365: Project Alpha:.

One of the most pivotal moment in the “war” between skeptics and parapsychologists was Project Alpha. From 1979 to 1981, the McDonnell Laboratory for Psychical Research, with $500,000 worth of funding, attempted to test two individuals, one Steve Shaw and one Michael Edwards. Supposedly, these two men exhibited psychic abilities that caught the attention of the lab. With that much funding behind them, the tests they conducted initially seemed to conclude that Shaw and Edwards are the real deal, and have psychic abilities.

They ran through the gauntlet of psychokinesis, fuse-burning, remote viewing, and at all points, it seemed as if these two individuals did genuinely have powers. The researchers were definitely amazed, and it looked like they had a success in their hands.

Except we know who Steve Shaw really is, and we know that he was actually planted along with Edwards in this whole mess by none other than James Randi himself, who obviously has a bone to pick with parapsychologists. After having leaked rumors that he was behind the whole ruse, it was rather mind-numbing to see the researchers brush off all those rumors and insist that they found two potential psychics worth looking into.

When news broke out that the whole thing was a hoax, things went haywire for the parapsychology researchers. James Randi’s warnings proved to be true, and Shaw and Edwards all too gleefully exposed the shoddy research practices that were conducted during the initial testing, essentially giving the two of them the easiest time in the world to manipulate the conditions to their liking and produce apparently convincing results because of it. While a second stage of testing proved to be too difficult for these two to overcome, it was clear that the research was a sham if such concessions were allowed despite recommendations to the contrary.

As part of the rules of Project Alpha, note that if at any time, the researchers bothered to ask Shaw or Edwards if they were just using trickery, they would have quickly admitted that they would. The researchers never bothered to pose such a question.

It’s at this point where we see how deep the grudge runs, and how Project Alpha really caused an upheaval when two self-professed hoaxes ended up fooling scientists to the point that they were making up excuses for the two already.

Some people have believed that it’s high time to conduct another one of these, perhaps in the Philippine setting. The question is, who would dare do such a thing, and what would the repercussions be? In the end, few people who were convinced of their legitimacy in the past were dissuaded by them coming out and exposing themselves as tricksters, and those who didn’t believe them in the first place already knew better than to. So where does that leave us in the Philippines, what with psychic surgeons running around in Baguio?

Project 365 (14/365), And An Awesome DK Episode!

.:15/365: Banachek:.

Steve Shaw, better known as Banachek, is one of the three pillars for beginner mentalists who wish to study videos, along with Osterlind and Maven. He’s generally regarded as one of the most brilliant performers out there, having collaborated with the likes of Criss Angel, Penn and Teller, and the Amazing Randi over his illustrious career.

As a performing mentalist, Banachek jumped into the industry hot on the heels of his pivotal role in the infamous “Project Alpha” that saw him pretend to be a psychic for scientists to test. The ruse lasted for five years and its ramifications on parapsychology are felt to this very day.

What boggles the mind is after outright claiming to be a fraud, many believers still insisted that Banachek was the real thing. Truly, a believer will refuse all evidence to the contrary, even if it’s already the supposed psychic debunking himself. It sounds crazy and all, but it shouldn’t be too surprising to find that Banachek has rabid believers, as the video above already indicates.

Banachek is also very well-known for bending silverware, and is the father of the bends that defy physical explanations. While Mr. Geller is known for straight bends, a spoon in Banachek’s hands actually twist, thereby putting him at a level that few people at the time thought impossible for psychokinesis.

Among the three pillars of contemporary mentalism, I must admit that Banachek is my least favourite. Despite that, it’s rather clear that he’s the most influential in the bigger scheme of things.

.:Oh, It’s On!:.

Harkening back to the days of 93.9 DWKC, Logan waxed poetic about the “Joke Time” segment of the classic radio station this morning on the Disenchanted Kingdom. What followed was something we didn’t expect to ever hear from 99.5 RT. Ever. Discussions about my unexpected magic show last weekend also surfaced...

Suddenly, all four people in the booth started telling the corniest, and I mean the corniest jokes you will ever hear. Whether it was the real definition of “hassle,” or what you call a knife fight between two ugly people is, we were rolling in the aisles, laughing like mad.

Oh, the jokes we used will never make it to Comedy Cartel shows, but for some odd reason, everyone was just laughing their @$$ off this morning, and that wasn’t going to be the end of it.

With some of my kids from Reedley tuning in, a good friend all the way in Scarburough, Canada tuned in, and a host of other good vibes going in, our Pinoy Na Pinoy topic for the morning was all about “Dramatic Lines”. Marf got in some good lines from JLC, Cleo really sounded like she was turning the waterworks on, Logan’s dramatic voice sends shivers up my spine.

Meanwhile, I quoted “Stupid Love”, I did a time-tested skit about a guy who brings pancit home for his mom only to find her sprawled on the floor, and two dramatic shout –outs to two of my exes. That moment just shocked everyone in the booth... heh.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Political Quick Bites, And APO Hiking Society Calling It Quits... :(

.:Political Thoughts...:.

I’ve been avoiding writing political stuff here because I write for The POC, but I just needed to make a few quick notes here...

- Villar’s jingle is so annoyingly catchy, even if it makes no sense. It is also my current ringtone, but this is not an endorsement of the man.
- Noynoy’s promise is pretty bold: hindi ako magnanakaw. People seem to poke fun at him with the whole “Sipag at Tiyaga” vs “Galing At Talino” vs “Mama and Papa” joke.
- Eddie Villanueva wore out his welcome in my book, Gloc 9’s endorsement be damned.
- I like Gordon. I don’t like Bayani.
- I detest Loren.
- Gibo’s woes with his own theme song are a bit amusing, to say the least.
- I didn’t like Erap in 1998. In 2010, I still don’t like him.
- Gloria just doesn’t know when to call it quits, huh?
- Among senatoriables, I support Susan Ople, Ruffy Biazon, and TG Guingona.
- Jamby’s running? Who’s she running with? LOOOOL.
- Not political, but... Angel Locsin’s overreacting. Yuch.


According to sir Jim Paredes himself, APO Hiking Society is calling it quits.

One of the pillars of OPM will be singing their swan song this May, and I can’t help but feel very sad and affected by it.

Say it ain’t so, sir Jim!!! =(

The Weekend Insanity, Plus Some DK Craziness...

.:An Insane Weekend:.

This weekend has been the craziest one I’ve ever had, in my opinion.

It all started with Ditzy Diner. I did a silent comedy show, met some new people, then sung my lungs out, despite having a sore throat.

Saturday started off normally enough, as I hung out with Sacha and the rest of the JGL, and we had a lot of great times talking to each other and all. It’s always good to hang out with them and catch up, especially since Mario was the butt of our jokes, poking fun at the fact that he was still into Sacha, for the most part.

Afterwards, things started getting really crazy...

I decided to pass on going to the Ne-Yo concert in favour of meeting up with Cleo and going to Marf’s birthday celebration. This was normal, as was getting lost on our way to the place and doing some magic for Marf’s party, including doing my infamous rope routine on Cleo, much to her shock, as neither her nor Marf have ever seen me doing my act that way.

After I enjoyed Avatar a second time, Cleo and I had to go to Adfarm as I tried helping out with doing plugs for the Disenchanted Kingdom. With no sleep to my name and me feeling a bit idiotic as I let Cleo use my laptop to chat with her suitor prior to the film, I was so sleepy during the morning show that my sleepy time pictures ended up on Facebook. Not even a good topic for “Pinoy Na Pinoy”, one about call center agents, could keep the whole KDL-less crew from just succumbing to fatigue and sleepiness.

Ah, well. Crazy weekend? Crazy weekend, for sure.

.:Tuesday Morning’s Disenchanted Kingdom...:.

... considering how yesterday’s show was one that saw me completely exhausted because of a relentless weekend, I must be grateful for this morning’s show, as it was one that featured just myself and the ever-lovely Cleo Caliente. Marf and Logan were indisposed, and JJ Cool and Inka didn’t drop in on us, either.

Anyways, the show proved to be a pretty good one as the two of us tried to give advice to this guy who supposedly fell in love with his best friend, although his best friend simply doesn’t feel that way about him. It was rather amusing to think about it because we were talking about “Paano Na Kaya”, which was a film that apparently has the exact same storyline as our poor guy in need of advice.

Ultimately, this wasn’t the first time Cleo and I did a radio show on our own, and as two people with similar styles during our graveyard days (And even the same show title! Insomaniacs vs. Insomania!), we gelled extra well this morning, as she threw barbs at me while I took all of them in stride, and found a lot of people who supported me and actually implored Cleo to be nicer to me. Heh.

We also ended up talking about Angel Locsin, the suspension of “Showtime”, Piolo Pascual, and Simon Cowell’s intention to leave “American Idol” after this season. Cleo quipped that I was the Paula Abdul to her Simon Cowell, akin to the way that I was the Boy Abunda to her Kris Aquino. It didn’t take long before we started doing impressions of the latter two.

All in all, a pretty good episode, and a good one to anticipate the return of the King tomorrow.

Project 365 (13/365), And Standup Fail...

.:13/365: James Randi:.

Bored and jaded? Think again.

If we talked about Uri yesterday, I figured it was a good idea to talk about his arch-nemesis today, in contrast.

James Randi is a pretty crazy guy, to say the least. He’s gained a lot of enemies over the years, as one of the leading skeptics and as a stage magician willing to expose some key secrets of the art if he feels it necessary in his quest to uncover hackery and deception beyond the realms of entertainment.

Randi is also famous (or infamous, if you’re so inclined) for the “1 Million Dollar Challenge” that he offered, pretty much telling any psychics out there that if, under test conditions, an individual can demonstrate psychic abilities, then they will be awarded a million dollars for proving what has only been theorized and perhaps fantasized about for centuries.

Randi’s notoriety is his doggedness at exposing deception no matter the cost. Purists in the magic industry certainly don’t like what he does, but he feels that it’s a necessary thing to do in the face of the likes of Uri Geller and Sylvia Brown. At the same time, he has plenty of enemies in the parapsychological community, particularly when he masterminded what has come to be known as “Project Alpha”, which we’ll discuss sometime this week.

This week seems to have taken a turn into the controversial side of mentalism, and I guess that’s a good angle to investigate. As what is considered to be the last and truest bastion of magic, mentalism’s results have often been put under scrutiny because the feats mentalists can achieve often seem beyond the scope of what is possible to the human mind.

For the skeptic, perhaps the best option is to see for themselves. For the believer, well, I guess they would want to keep seeing more of these demonstrations. Either way, the world of mentalism is far from being fully explored, and Uri and Randi are but two people from opposing schools of thought in the industry, and both men’s contributions to mentalism cannot be denied.

By the way, did you know that he had a cameo appearance in the classic “Penn And Teller Get Killed” film? He was one of the guys holding the ropes during Teller’s supposed failed escape from the buzzsaw.

.:Standup Comedy Fail Last Night...:.

Due to the party going on in Alchemy (A Christmas Party on January 12. Crazy.), I ended up not doing a comedy set tonight.

That’s okay. If I keep count, this year, I’ve done only one set so far...

Monday, January 11, 2010

Project 365 (12/365), And Some DK Backblogging...

.:12/365: Uri Geller:.


Fewer people in the mentalism world has caused as much controversy as Uri Geller. Claiming extraordinary powers bestowed upon him by extraterrestrials, Uri started his career in the 1970’s by doing demonstrations of drawing duplication, spoon bending, and even blindfold driving. He’s been one of the most influential figures in mentalism, but also one of the most polarizing. You either believe that the man is what he claims to be, or a complete hack who preys on people who don’t know any better.

Uri craves the spotlight. He’s a man who has built a name by making claims that have gotten increasingly more outlandish over the years, until his eventual fall from grace thanks to his arch-nemesis, James Randi. Randi, a very renowned skeptic, was the man behind Uri’s apparent failure during the Tonight show with Johnny Carson, as he asked Carson to make sure that Uri doesn’t use his own materials when demonstrating his spoon bending.

It doesn’t really matter where you stand on the divide between Uri believers and naysayers. For those who believe him, no explanation is necessary. For those who don’t, none will ever prove sufficient. Personally, I’d rather celebrate the man’s contributions to mentalism, because without him, people wouldn’t be standing and taking notice of the things we can now accomplish. He opened the doors, so love him or hate him, I still respect him for that.

And truth be told, how many mentalists would say “no” to an opportunity to be heralded as “the next Uri Geller?” From “Phenomenon” to several other productions held all over the globe, the desire to find a successor to the controversial Uri Geller has taken on a life of its own already. Who knows, right? Perhaps the next Uri Geller would be able to prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that he is indeed the real deal.

.:DK Insanity:.

Wow. Last week’s Tuesday episode of the Disenchanted Kingdom was on a higher octane level than usual.

It started off with us talking about how ABS-CBN managed to sensationalize the whole Efren-Angel affair, not to mention the big fuss they made about Kuya getting hospitalized due to over-fatigue. Sometimes, when it’s a really slow day, I guess they can’t help but try to stir up stuff just to keep things spicy, eh?

After that, we had a laugh trip as we talked about my ex. Cleo was berating me about how quickly the whole thing lasted, while Logan was theorizing that I pulled the whole thing just so I could get Cleo jealous. We also ended up talking about Cleo theorizing about us having kids, and how I’ve progressed from someone Cleo would never consider to someone she’d consider having test-tube babies with. All in good fun, really, as I established that my Lovey-Dovey wasn’t really a Snuffleuppagus, so to speak.

Afterwards, we had very interesting discussions, along with rapid-fire comebacks left and right. From doing voices and pretending to be hoodlums set to do a mafia drive-by, to on-the-button insult comedy we managed to hit each other with, it was all good and all fun. I guess that’s great, considering how I lost my voice shortly afterwards, and the soonest I could come back to RT would be on Monday already.

Anyways, it’s been really good, and the fact that my rapport with the hosts of the Disenchanted Kingdom has been steadily improving has definitely resulted in a lot of good times to be had on and off the air with them.

Project 365 (11/365): Telepathy

.:11/365: A Treatise On Telepathy:.

I can read your mind.

True telepathy, the kind that involves reading someone’s mind from out of nowhere, is something that I personally feel doesn’t happen instantaneously. The kinds of thoughts people have are often so jumbled and incoherent that it simply doesn’t make any sense to sift through.

People who are so connected to each other that they can finish each other’s sentences tend to believe that their connection to each other is practically telepathic. More often than not, most telepaths ascribe their abilities to strong empathy, and understand that it is not necessarily a special power that they and they alone possess. To be honest, it appears that telepathy is a lot more common than we think it is, if we consider deep forms of empathy as manifestations of telepathy.

Mind-reading has often been an object of attraction for both mentalists and fans of mentalism alike. Whenever I tell someone that I’m a mentalist, more often than not, the first thing they ask me is if I can tell them what they’re thinking of right now. It’s challenging, really, especially since when bereft of a genuine empathic connection, I have to rely on psychoanalyzing the person in hopes of getting what they’re thinking.

Thankfully, it does work, and that’s one of the biggest non-secrets of the mentalism world: a lot of it is educated guesswork and the ability to investigate the tendencies of the human condition in any given situation. Reading a person’s mind is a matter of either manipulating them to think a certain way, making an educated guess what they are thinking of, or having a unique connection with a person that allows you a special insight into how they think.

Mind-reading is one of the most challenging things a mentalist could learn. It’s something I constantly work on, and the easiest way to do it is to forge empathic relationships with the people around you. Not only does this make your mind-reading act much more interesting, but it allows you to have relationships certainly worth keeping, after all.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Project 365 (9/365): The Oracle Act

.:9/365: The Oracle:.

Derren Brown yet again!

Can’t believe I’ve done nine straight days of this without missing a beat. This is Derren Brown’s performance of the infamous “Oracle Act.” Essentially, he demonstrates the ability to read people’s questions mentally, and even answer them. The way he does this is rather delightful, and proves to be quite a showstopper.

Oftentimes, mentalists are confused with fortune tellers, because of their apparent ability to foretell what has yet to happen. In reality, mentalists don’t really posses any powers to divine the future. What they have are honed skills and educated guesses that tend to be right on the button because of their mastery of the human condition and its tendencies.

For instance, the way a person moves, the way a person fidgets, even the way their eyes flit from side to side all tell a story no words can convey. The mentalist worth his salt notes all these minute details and employs them to his advantage. He reads a person like an open book, and in doing so, can easily anticipate what they are most likely to do in the future, barring drastic changes in their personality or lifestyle.

The Oracle act is one such demonstration, and is further buffered by the empathy that a mentalist learns to develop over time. In being able to divine a question about the future that a person is asking, the mentalist finds it almost child’s play to answer the unspoken question simply because he has already read the person so well, having discovered what they wish to ask, in the first place. The answers are often shocking because they reflect an intimate knowledge of a person: a kind of knowledge they find difficult to imagine from someone who ought to be little more than a complete stranger to them.

Many people tend to ask the mentalist about career, lovelife, or travel. It’s always been enticing to the audience for them to know things pertaining to themselves at some point. Well, what would you wish to ask of a mentalist, after all, right? And really... given how mentalists only glean their answers from what they perceive to be your true personality, do you really want to know those answers?

Project 365 (10/365): Kreskin

.:10/365: The Amazing Kreskin:.

His prediction for 2010: the Philippine elections will be messy. Accurate? Y/Y?

There’s something about every new year that seems so enticing for psychics. Every year, we have crackpot psychics making the same predictions again and again: a celebrity will have a tragic death and many people will mourn; a natural calamity will claim many lives; a long-time celebrity couple will call it quits after a long time.

The Amazing Kreskin is very famous for making these yearly predictions, and is one of the longest-performing mentalists of our time. He’s not very fond of being referred to as a psychic, and makes no claims of having clairvoyant abilities or paranormal powers. Like most of the contemporary mentalists we know, he relies on psychological cues and the like in order to read people.