Brian Brushwood is not human. At least, this is something I have come to believe. He calls himself a practitioner of bizarre magic, but this is super-clever code talk for “wizard” as near as I can tell. There is no other explanation for how this man is able to accomplish so much.
He tours the United States doing live shows constantly. He hosts five podcasts at last count, one of which requires him to fly cross-country on a weekly basis. He’s appeared twice on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and given a TEDx Talk on social engineering (see video below.) He records a weekly internet TV series, Scam School, for Revision 3. He’s always on the internet, engaging with friends and fans. He plays video games, often sharing the experience with the public online and reviewing them on TWiT’s ‘Game On!’. His Night Attack comedy album with partner Justin R. Young placed on the Billboard charts and became an Amazon best seller. He’s written 3 books. He eats and breathes fire. Oh yeah, and he has a wife and two kids, too.
Clearly he doesn’t operate in the same realm of existence we do. He either has supernatural powers, or he exists in a world with way more than 24 hours in a day.
This review concerns the newest of his 3 books. Scam School Book 1 was published March 14, 2012 on Amazon, B&N, and the Apple iBooks store. It’s a very deliberate attempt to set the standard for what an eBook experience should be. Far more than just written text, Brian and his assistant Jon Tilton have carefully formatted the book and worked in video and audio components to enrich the content.
You’ll be really glad they took the time. As the name suggests, Scam School Book 1 ties in closely with Brushwood’s Scam School web series, taking 70 of the episodes and going over the tricks and scams presented therein. The goal is to provide a mobile reference you can easily have with you at the bar or at a party when you want to start impressing people. Whether you’re after free beer or a certain someone’s phone number, you’ll have the material at hand when you need to suddenly become a human chimney, stump people with the four quarters trick, or (my favorite,) instantly freeze a bottle of beer. Well, that last one probably won’t work at a bar, but it’s great at home.
The videos included show exactly how the trick is done, while the audio commentary tracks give further insight into the tricks, when and how Brian learned them, and sometimes details and stories about the episodes in which they appeared.
Due to current limitations of the Amazon Kindle file format, the embedded audio and video won’t function the same way they would in the iBooks version, but they’ve accounted for that. All of the content is still accessible by selecting a link that’ll take you to an external location where you can watch or listen easily.
This shortcoming will be fixed when Amazon rolls out an upcoming new version of the Kindle format. There’s no word yet on when it’ll be available, but tools to develop for it are already out so the wait shouldn’t be long.
The Scam School book is available on launch day only for $4.99, regular $9.99.
Disclosure: Brian’s a friend of mine, so take my review with whatever grain of salt you require.
(Via Fiction Improbable, which (further disclosure) I also wrote.)