The Book of Cool
Having trouble finding a really great gift for someone? Do you know someone who has everything and you can't find something unique to get them? Well I've found the answer in the form of a DVD boxset called The Book of Cool, Part One.
It's a whopping nine hours, three DVD's and one, three hundred and seventeen page refresher book, all designed to give that person who has everything the skill and knowledge to put those things to some use, and to start to look damn cool. You only have to watch the trailer to see some of the things you could be doing within minutes of watching the DVD. I do urge you to watch the trailer, it's a very nice piece of filming and editing, and not at all different from how the segments on the DVD are filmed.
The trailer had me hooked from the moment it started, the stillness of the opening as the various experts prepare themselves for their trick, leading into slow motion as they begin. It captures the intensity, anticipation and the tension in the moments before you have that single chance to perform something you know you can do over your friends, and if you fail it's humiliation or even worse.
It's something that is echoed in the warning both on the DVD and the accompanying book...
The people featured in this product are all experts and highly skilled in their chosen fields.
Some of the activities featured in the 'book of cool' can be hazardous.
Where appropriate you must wear all recommended protective clothing and equipment.
Master the basics before attempting any advance skills.
Always practise the skills featured in a safe environment.
If you have any doubt about your ability to attempt a skill safely, do not attempt it, seek tuition from a professional or recognised expert in the field!
Always consider your safety and the safety of others around you.
...and if that doesn't entice you in, nothing will. It's either a bold warning to be very careful, or a taunting message to come and have a go if you think you're hard enough. I did, and I've tried. Although I did try those safe, non-hurting type skills. Now I boast the ability to shuffle cards casino style, shuffle poker chips, throw a frisbee in some cool ways, spin a pen around my hand (albeit slowly and often with an empty hand and an frustrated grimace), throw cards and perform a few pool tricks...and I'm not stopping there.
It's the feeling of learning something new over your friends that grabbed me straight away. The boxset arrived on my desk the day of a scheduled Poker night with my friends, so as soon as I was home and the first person arrived we were out with the poker chips and cards, frantically trying to learn how to shuffle them before the game. That night we shuffled ourselves up to stacks of five chips and some hacked off friends!
One of the great things about this DVD is that although you will initially sit down and watch telly for a bit, once you've captured the essence of a skill it's all practice. That means DVD and TV off and sit down to actually do something. Okay, admittedly pen spinning is not an outside sport, but it is getting you involved in something, thinking about it and getting physical. Sure pen spinning isn't that strenuous for anything other than the fingers and the brain, but there are so many other tricks in here that are, like the frisbee.
Frisbee, Casino and Cards, Street Soccer, Gun Tricks, Street Ball (as in Basket), Pen Spinning, Football, Ropes & Whips, Skate, Blade, Cards & Magic, Juggling, Flatland Bike (BMX), Rugby Kicks, Golf, Bar Flairing, Pool, Footbag, Street Bike, Break Dancing, Baton, Yo-Yo, ScooterSkills available in The Book of Cool
The other thing is many of these are quite cheap to pick up, and some of them (like the pool and the cards sections) can actually come in really handy in real life. I mean, how else are you going to learn those crucial skills to beat all your friends at poker?
Straight off, before we go into the DVD content itself, I have to say this is a beautifully presented box set. The DVD's are in their own folding out case, all in black, and the black book fits perfectly beside it sliding into the large all black box cover. It just reeks of style, and this sitting on your shelf will certainly catch the eye.
This style is carried through the book which is very sharp, clear and uncluttered. It carries most of the tricks with key scenes pictured along with notations to emphasise what the DVD has already shown you. A handy field guide if you like. It has proven very useful in some of the tricks I've learnt, from taking outside to practice with the frisbee, to flicking through as a quick reference to find why my pen is always spinning off my thumb and flying across the room!
Once you get one of the DVD's on you're presented with the short trailer again, this has the effect of revving you up to learn something cool so that you can feel that moment of anticipation before you perform your mastered trick to your selected audience...however far away that might be!
'MAD' CHAD TAYLOR - World Record Holder, Chainsaw Juggling
BILL DE BOISBLANC - three times World Champion and one of only four Yo-Yo Grand Masters
MIKE MASSEY - eight times World Trick Shot Champion, Pool
CARLOS SPENCER - New Zealand All Black rugby superstar
CHRISTIAN DELPECH - 10 times World Bar Flairing Champion
HOWARD DARBY - six times World Gun Spinning Champion and seven times World Fast Draw Champion
ALADIN - one of only two Golden Turban members of the Magic Academy of Bangalore, India
MARTTI KUOPPA - World Record Holder and World Champion, Flatland Bikes
MR. WOO - World Freestyle Football Champion and World Record Holder
VINCE BRUCE - World Record Holder for Texas Skips and Biggest Lasoo Hoop
THORETSEN HOHMANN - 2003 World Pool Champion
SANDRO DIAS - Skateboard Vert Ramp World Champion
VASEK 'THE GOLDEN ONE' KLOUDA - three times World Footbag Champion
VICENTE BALLESTEROS - brother of Seve and world class golf tricks expertThe Book of Cool Experts
After the trailer you get a slick menu allowing you to choose from the skills available on the disc. Selecting one of these skill areas will show another multiple page menu with screenshots from each of the tricks being taught with the first page giving you the option to view a short video of your teacher showing some of the skills you're hoping to learn. Just at full speed and back to back.
The shorts and the skill segments have just as much style as the rest of the package, although they are rougher with the odd out of focus, or overly bright shots, they are filmed to capture the action in multiple speeds, from different angles, and involving as much style as possible. Editing is sharp, although the camera often lingers on moments just to show the poor cameraman getting dumped on again, there are a few incidents through the DVD's that probably weren't that expected for anyone involved.
When a trick is being explained you'll have the experts undivided attention and some one on one tuition, and afterwards you'll often see the trick in crisp slow motion to catch it in its natural habitat. There's also a very cool choice of soundtrack, boosting the production value and the style, making it more than an instructional video and but also a very enjoyable watch.
The filming of each trick really has been done with the actual trick in mind, and rather than just stand someone and film them, they've understood what the trick is and how to give the viewer the best use of the experts time. It does have the feeling that it has been created by people who would love to learn from this DVD as much as the viewer.
When I review a DVD I go through every piece of content, I really do. I'll even watch those fact bubble versions of the movie (e.g. Chronicles of Riddick). With this one I've watched all of it and tried some of the tricks, but I couldn't get through everything, mainly because I don't do everything in them! However I have friends who do, so as the Book passes round them to try out their specialist subject I'll report back with updates. Yet it's definitely not leaving my hands until I've learnt all the Poker, Card and Pool skills. My friends better watch out at the next poker night!
I highly recommend this DVD, it is as it says, a Book of Cool, and a superb deal considering the amount of content on the three DVDs and the amount of time you can get from some of the worlds leading experts. I think a few people will be opening a cool black DVD boxset from me this Christmas! Seriously good entertainment, and not just from your sofa. You can get a copy over at the official site.