Michael Paul's Freak Prediction: At First Glance I am a sincere fan of Michael Paul's work. I've been using material from Simply Devestating and Show No Mercy ever since they were first released years ago. I believe he's a very practical thinker who knows the importance of structure in a professional repertoire. His magic is easy to accomplish and very direct in its impact. It's real-world applicable. So with that, I held some high expectations for his new gem called Freak Prediction. The Effect In effect, the mentalist lays a playing card facedown on the table before anything happens at all. It's of a different back design than the cards already in play. A spectator is asked to freely cut to any card she wants and lock it in her memory. In fact, she can even change her mind as many times as she'd like until she's satisfied with a selection. It should be noted she merely cuts to a card, replaces the cut, and squares the deck. Nothing more. She closes her eyes to concentrate on her mental selection. The open prediction is then flipped face-up for all to see. For the first time-- at this point alone-- the spectator finally says her mental selection out loud. Naturally, it matches the prediction. The Method While the effect does play out like the advert describes, it does leave out some crucial facts. First and foremost, there's slightly more to turning over of the face-down card. A (very simple) sleight is required to do so. While it really isn't suspicious by any means, I believe it deserves to be noted. The way Michael Paul incorporates the move is very convincing and will surely be rendered invisible by laymen audiences. In fact, some magicians may even be fooled by it as well. It looks that innocent and is very simple to execute. Also, Michael Paul strongly recommends doing the effect with two decks. I admittedly disagree with his line of thinking, although his argument raises some valid, interesting points. The effect can be accomplished using just one deck but isn't meant to be. Speaking of the deck, it will likely require a lot of mental effort for inexperienced workers to handle. It's not an impromptu piece. This alone will turn off a lot of potential buyers. In order for the effect to be "easy to do," the performer still needs to be familiar (and have adequate experience) with one of the more challenging concepts in card magic and mentalism. And with that, the deck in play cannot be borrowed at all and must be of a very particular variety. This alone can limit the performer pretty drastically. To be honest, with this many limitations, the deck might as well have been a standard one-way forcing deck. But it's not... and it admittedly has some added benefits because of that. Also, a minor gaff is used to accomplish the effect. It is one that is more than readily available through your favorite magic dealer. Chances are most magicians have it in their magic drawers and cases anyway. If not, the gaff is easily constructed and is one of the most common, versatile gaffs in existence. In my opinion, it's what makes the single sleight in the effect so disarming. The advert says there's no reset. This is true IF it's the only card effect you plan on doing in a set. Otherwise, a deck switch or a few minutes to rearrange things in private will most likely be required. ----- With that said, I do still think this is a quality effect. While I don't believe it's ideally suited for walkaround venues, I still find it a very practical piece for other casual performances. I can see myself using this on an important television appearance. It's that good. When handled properly and performed nonchalantly, this effect will kill. I am a fan of its structure also-- Paul evidently did work hard to take the heat off important key moments in the effect. Its structure makes the memory of the effect seamless. No one will be able to backtrack its method because it's well concealed both in technique and psychology. As far as mechanics go, the method is easier than a double lift. I believe that has something to say for itself. So much mileage comes out of a very simple move that all card magicians should already know. And with that, I find the move underrated and underused. Michael Paul's common-sense motivation for it makes it refreshing to see again. To laymen, it will undoubtedly be invisible. And because it's combined with a gaff and offbeat in timing, I wouldn't be surprised if it flies by fellow magicians either. Production The instant downloadable PDF is very rudimentary in appearance. It's nothing spectacular in terms of design. There are a few minor typos and grammar errors. With that, the ideas are still clearly conveyed and nothing is taken away from the learning experience in my opinion. I do like how (similar to his other releases), Michael highlights key paragraphs to emphasize important lines of thought or ideas to make the effect more powerful. I believe this is something that should be done in future PDFs and perhaps other printed publications. It does add to and facilitate the learning. I would have liked to see the effect performed in action with an attached video. Other than that-- I've no gripes. At First Glance: The Opinion This effect isn't for everyone. I would argue it should be primarily aimed toward intermediate and experienced workers in card magic and mentalism. This particular effect is pretty similar to ideas already published by Juan Tamirez, Simon Aronson, and Barrie Richardson. And with that, I honestly don't believe working mentalists will be thoroughly impressed with the overall effect, but the reworking of its structure and streamlined mechanics are pretty noteworthy. I see a lot of great potential in this effect. It is simple. It is direct. It is typical of Michael Paul's unorthodox thinking. But I feel it could be further streamlined to suit more diverse performing environments. I'm honestly looking forward to taking this out for a test run. I'm already very familiar with the mechanics and principles to do it confidently. I'll do my share of rehearsals and try it out on real people throughout the month. I'll follow up on my initial thoughts with my opinions after I performed it. With Michael Paul's permission, perhaps I'll get some video footage up as well. On a scale from 1-10, I believe I'd initially rate the effect a 6.5 or 7. That may seem a bit low, but I'm sure the effect plays very, very well. For what the effect is, I believe there are too many things needed to pull it off. It's arguably not worth the hassle given the hindrances listed above. I feel it belonged in a compilation of notes or book rather than highlighted as a single effect. I'm open-minded enough to give the effect a solid shot. I will play with it and get familiar with managing it in working environments. Once I do, I'll come back and post any changes of opinion. As of right now, I find it a pretty decent piece. I can't say its nearly as groundbreaking or genius as others have proclaimed though. My opinion. RS.