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Caffeine Rush Review

Official Review

October 5th, 2003 2:38pm
Rating:
Reviewed by Brad Henderson
I am blessed to posses a magic library numbering in excess of 1,500 volumes. There are, however, 5 books which I keep in a special place apart from all my other tomes. Why? Because they are so bad, so devoid of merit, that I am afraid their suckiness might rub off on my other books.

And so we begin what I hope to be the closing chapter in the Vincent Ravina trilogy of crappy magic, Caffeine Rush. Yes folks, he's at it again. And no, this one isn't any better.

How bad is it? Let's begin.

In my review of Shocking, we detailed Mr. Ravina's use of material that was stolen from other performers and writers (Jim Pace, Mac King and Richard Mark). Now, I would like to explore Mr. Ravina's misrepresentation of the current product at hand.

The cover of Caffeine Rush makes three interesting claims: No Switching, Use Anyone's Cup of Coffee, and Impromptu.

First, let's address the claim of being impromptu:

The 7 page manuscript (I'm not counting the last page as it's mainly an ad and the font throughout the whole text is HUGE) describes in general detail how to make a gimmick which will allow you to transform someone's cup of coffee into coins, bugs etc. While it would be wrong for me to tell you what the gimmick is, allow me to quote from Mr. Ravina's suggested presentation: "I found something weird about this lid..."

Apparently Mr. Ravina believes a script like this won't point directly to the method. But we've already established in Cranial Contortions that he must be pretty darned good at fooling himself. Did I mention you can't remove the lid from the cup when showing the bugs? Nope. You can tilt it and give them a peek inside, but the handling is so cozy only Ravina would be fooled by this.

Anyway, the trick requires a gimmick and this is NOT a gimmick one could make on the fly. So, is the trick impromptu? According to Merriam-Webster impromptu is defined either as "made, done, or formed on or as if on the spur of the moment " or "composed or uttered without previous preparation." Carrying around a gimmicked prop hardly qualifies as impromptu. Interestingly, the ad at Murphy's Magic Supplies has done the ethical thing and edited this claim somewhat.

Next, we are told no switching is required. Well, you have to get the lid into play. Ravina suggests that you place the gimmick on your own cup. Wait. Let's get this straight. The gimmick is not the lid provided by the coffee company. So at some point you have to exchange theirs for yours. Merriam-Webster kindly informs once again that the words exchange and switch are synonymous. So again, we've caught the author in a "misrepresentation". Even then, you place YOUR lid on THEIR cup. Would anyone be fooled by this?

Finally, Mr. Ravina claims the trick will work with ANYONE's cup of coffee. Far be it for me to call this trick a piece of doggy-do just on the reading of the manuscript. I went to Starbuck's (the brand he recommends) and over the course of 3 days purchased each available size of coffee. First I asked them what the most popular sizes were. So I went with the medium first, then the large. Well, if you make up the gimmick EXACTLY according to Mr. Ravina's instructions, the gimmick will not function properly with either of their two most popular sizes. It works better with the small, but you have to make some modifications.

(And believe me, I tried. For one, the instructions are poorly written and the illustrations worthless. If you are going to charge money for the secret of making a gimmick then for God's sake show us clearly how to make the gimmick and make sure the gimmick will work when made as described.)

Admittedly, Ravina mentions that one might need to tweak the gimmick for some cups, but he doesn't give you any specific directions for exactly what to do NOR could you use that "tweaked" gimmick on "ANYONE'S cup of coffee" as it is size dependent.

Now, some may wish to argue that we are buying an idea. Well, I'd buy that, if we received one that was thought out well enough to qualify.

First, this manuscript is largely a reprint of a single trick found in Ravina's Shocking notes. Did he add anything? Not really. The concept is the same, but the directions and illustrations are just as vague. I Think potential customers should be advised of the self cannibalistic nature of this manuscript.

And that brings up the issue of proprietary material. The coffee to coins plot was devised by Bob Fitch for use by David Blaine. Bob has kept his method confidential. The idea is original with Bob and Mr. Ravina did not obtain permission to replicate his effect.

I have personally spoken with Bob about this and he desired that all advertising make clear that he originated the plot and that you are NOT purchasing the secret to Blaine's handling. Mr. Ravina, in keeping with the tradition began in Shocking, neither credits nor even acknowledges Bob in this "work."

Interestingly he does say, "The other versions usually used a gimmicked cup. It was difficult to make and usually leaked coffee or didn't work properly."

What other versions? There is only one and it has never been released to anyone other than a handful of people on a need to know basis, and they have kept it tight. Unless of course Ravina was trying to knock off the Blaine version initially, and didn't have the knowledge or skill required to build the cup properly.

Another example of how poorly thought out this is can be found by examining the following quotes:

"You also need as many DEAD bugs as it takes to cover the surface..." (emphasis mine)

and

"Here are some reasons why I prefer bugs to coins: It freaks people out. People don't like bugs, and they really don't like bugs in their coffee. If you do the trick correctly, people won't drink the rest of their coffee."

Has Mr. Ravina considered the liability issues of putting a dead animal in the vicinity of something which will be ingested by another human being? Notice, he doesn't suggest rubber bugs, or warn against the dangers of using real animals. No, this man is so stupid that he actually believes there is no harm in putting a dead animal in someone's coffee.

And yes, I have made the gimmick, and as described the gimmick does not fit into all cups ("Use anyone's cup") reliably. Further, it sometimes doesn't fall properly in the correct sized cups. Coffee and bug bodies WILL make contact. You are placing your audience at a health risk.

Now compare the Blaine effect, with Ravina's intent. Blaine sees a homeless man and transcends his wishes and offers him a gift. Ravina makes you throw away a $4 cup of coffee or gives you some horrible disease.

Based on comments found throughout Mr. Ravina's writings it is clear that his goals in magic do not include sharing wonder or enabling astonishment. Instead, Mr. Ravina treats magic as a sharp stick to poke and prod at our audience's fears and apprehensions. Mr. Ravina takes joy in other's discomfort. It seems to me that his artistic goal is to become the biggest jerk in magic. Well, Mr. Ravina, if that is your goal, you win. Anyone whose magic strives to force others to throw away food that they spent hard earned money on, or to have them feel as if they lost their dignity (see Shocking notes) cannot be seen as anything other than a jerk. But if I had any real power, I would place you on double secret probation and forbid you to publish anything new until you grow up and learn what it's like to be a real human being.

I will say that the only decent idea in this creative wasteland is a suggestion of Bernard Sim. Good thinking, now if you only had a better method to go with your concept.

And you do, it's just not Mr. Ravina's. (If Mr. Ravina were the least bit familiar with magic outside his own realm of the glorified practical joke, he may have come up with something more interesting than that presented in Caffeine Rush.) There is a history of tricks with coffee, though I still contend that Fitch's plot is novel. Coffee vases were fairly common pieces of magical apparatus in the late 1800's. Does Ravina know this? I doubt it. If he did, he could have updated one of them and created an interesting piece of magic that may have deceived another carbon based life form on this planet other than himself. The coffee vase concept from the 1890's is a better trick today than Ravina's will ever be.

Note to all new and young creators: Buy and read books written B.P.H. (Before Paul Harris). Paul is great, but there is a body of knowledge that extends beyond his amazing output.

Most of the junk you (speaking again to some of the hot, new creators) are putting out these days is merely an inferior version of something that has
been in the literature for a long time. Save us the headache, and save yourself a little dignity. Learn what's out there before you release "the
next revolutionary thing."

Now, back to our regularly scheduled program.

The manuscript concludes with a bent penny routine.

Ok, I was wrong. Young creators of the world, buy and read books written B.D.B. (before David Blaine). Why publish a routine which is clearly inferior to other tricks on the market? Paul's Bent Penny Transfer trounces this "offering." Also, the concealment technique used in this trick has a history, uncredited as usual.

What Ravina offers us is a very average bent penny trick. There are at least a dozen out there which are a gazillion times better.

Blech.

There is one good thing which has come from being allowed to review Ravina's products. I have a new adjective. Now, when I see something that
is really lousy I can tell my friends, "That trick is bad. Not Ravina bad, but I still wouldn't touch it." Or, "Did you see that performance? Yep, that wasn't just bad, that was Ravina bad."

Thanks Vincenzo. I now know just how awful, awful can be.

Product info for Caffeine Rush

Author: Ravina, Vincenzo
Average Rating:  (1)
Retail Price: $14.95
Buy Now
Manufacturer's Description:

A borrowed cup of coffee is covered for an instant by a coffee cup lid. When the lid is taken off again, the cup is filled to the brim with coins or bugs! With another magical pass, the coins or bugs vanish, and the coffee is back!


  • No Switching Cups

  • No Magnets Or Pulls

  • Use Anyone?s Cup Of Coffee

  • Virtually Impromptu



Booklet includes instructions on how to easily construct this clever gimmick.


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