So, what could possibly be next from Ben Harris. Crossroads was an absolute show stopper and would be very hard to follow up. So with silent running were promised that the spectator thinks of a number which they never say out loud. True. They then think of a suit which they never say out loud. True. They then marry the number and suit up to make a card which they still don’t say out loud. True. Nothing is written down. True. Despite all this, you can instantly reveal their card to them seconds after they have thought of their card. True. 100% true. Practical. True. Commercial. True. Something you will use often. Most defiantly True..... Can you see what happening here? What sounds like false advertising is 100% true.
You can tell this is going to be one of the most talked about methods in mentalism this year purely by the list of names commenting on it. Banachek, Marc Paul, Nathan Kranzo, Peter Duffie, Marc Spelman, Devin Knight, Dee Christopher and the list continues! So, the review.
It’s easy to see how this effect has progressed from the legend of an effect that is crossroads. Again, the usual Ben Harris quality. Instantly thrusted into the Foreword by Looch. He takes us through his stories of using Silent Running and gets you motivated to keep on reading. Onto Ben’s introduction. Introduce “Duffies Dodge”. What on earth? Ben really gets you thinking. Apparently silent running, born from crossroads and utilizing a hidden tool from Peter Duffie. Lets move on quickly and get to whatever this Dodgy Duffie Dodge could be!
Much like the support act at a heavy metal gig hypes up the audience, Ben still holds back the secret as he explains why where and when the trick came around. Explaining the extent to which this trick will fry an audience. Then finally, after i’ve been thrown about in the mosh pit of Ben Harris’ mind, we delve into the method. Might I say, Wow, What a method it is. I’ve used countless methods for a deck-less method for learning a spectators card. One that was practical and looked like real mind reading. I must admit, some methods came close but non came close to Silent Running. Ben goes into stunning in depth explanations of the processes you need to go through to get to the stage in which your ready to reveal the card. The best part about Ben’s method is, it looks and feels like real mind reading. Mad, I know but unbelievably true. To know that what I had to ask the spectator to do was think of a number from 1-10 then think of a suit and lastly keep that card in their mind.. and STILL have a 100% hit rate was an indescribable feeling. For those who think there is something missing for what i’m saying or am trying to cover an extra little part of the process, i’m not. The selection process might throw up one slight issue for some magicians but, when thought about logically, here are VERY simple ways to abolish the subtlety that Ben has placed in. After performing the effect, I LOVE Ben’s subtlety and think it means that everything will go perfectly every time but realize, in all honesty, some may wish to walter it slightly.
Ben get’s us to the stage in which we are ready to reveal the selected card. Enter: The Routines. Ben begins with a version of his much loved Crossroads effect. So now, those of you with Crossroads will already have the deck ready to go. Those without, Ben still explains what you need. Imagine, having a card THOUGHT of. The deck is opened and without them saying a word, it is the ONLY card in the deck missing. Then it’s produced form wherever you so wish. Sounds to crazy to be true right? Well yeas it does sound to crazy to be true, but it is. I loved Crossroads so much and it’s become a stable part of my card act, now, ill use it even more often. Every deck I won will be a crossroads deck so that i’m always ready set go for Silent Running if I need it!
Second we have Ben’s direct mind reading approach. His brilliant system for revealing the card without any props. This is a fanatically thought out piece of script. Seriously cool. Everything seems fair and you have a 100% hit rate every time. Alternatively, Ben shows you a fantastic way to adapt it to a pad. Giving you another way to reveal everything in a fair and clean way.
Ben’s last routine is a brilliant take on the cards on table stab. This allows you to spread a genuinely normal deck on the table. Place some news paper on the spread cards and then plunge a knife into the paper, thus impaling a card on the knife on the other side of the paper. The paper is removed, the card is shown to be the thought of card. Again, Clean. Ben’s method is sublime and incredibly practical. I’ve never performed this kind of effect before, but with Silent Running, I have no reason not to perform it. Everything is brilliantly explained in depth and with clear photos.
End Routines. Enter Appendix. This section of the book teaches you how to make a Crossroads deck that works with Silent Running. As well as this, all templates and diagrams that are mentioned in the book are added here. Again, brilliant detail and the original Duffie Dodge is explained here in depth!
Last section of the book are the contributions from other magicians. Good times indeed.
The highlights of this section are Bob Cassidy’ suggestion of performing it for two spectators. This makes it even simpler and even more direct. Not to mention, more magical. It’s a small thing that makes a huge impact.
Paolo Cavalli’ Court Card illusion is another simple but brilliant idea that will make everything seem just that bit more amazing.
Devin Knight offers some brilliant work on a popular method in mentalism. It is genuinely priceless information that will put those people who are uncomfortable with it completely at ease. Another invaluable piece of advice that can be used for so much more then the original Silent Running effect.
Steve Shufftons work with Silent Running and a deck is also gold. A brilliant way to end the book.
The reason i’ve not gone into depth with the Bonus section is I believe that this method is so versatile that so many magicians will be coming up with their own interpretations with it. I myself have already come up with countless ideas with it and I know Ben has hundreds more. This method will soon transcend that of just cards and move onto other forms of mentalism. This really is one of the best methods for a thought of card that will have nearly any mentalists buzzing with joy. It’s a practical, workable and truly remarkable method. The products quality is amazing and those who complain that the book or PDF is of a high value for just one effect, it’s not necessarily about the singular effect but the sheers amount of idea’s and effects you can add it to. If you use this trick more then 5 times, the book has paid for itself. The book is quality and I’m more then proud to have it in my collection. Ben has excelled himself with Silent Running and i’m certain we’ll be hearing lots more about it.
“Ben Harris’ Silent Running is by far some of his best work and a new method that the mentalism world will cherish for many years to come. Ben has excelled himself with this project and the evidence is there in printed and digital format. I love it and i’m certain you will too!”
********** 10 Star Rating
Released 30th March 2010
Ebook Price: $39.95 (£26.67) Printed Price: $39.95 (£26.67)
Reviewed by Jamie Daws.
So, Ben Harris gets into rubber band magic. Surely it’s all been done before. Of course there’s Bands going through each other, rings on bands and all the other cliché rubber band classics. But what’s that? Ben likes cards FAR too much? Of course! Ban Harris’s Bands of Gold utilise a deck of cards as well as an elastic band (or bands) in some very cool ways. Never before in elastic band magic have I seen effects that use bands and cards simultaneously in this way. The opening trick in this gorgeous book is just cool. A mini bet in which 2 bands are shown around the card case width ways. One will win the spectator $100 and the other one will win the magician $100. One is selected by the spectator without equivoque. Of course it’s just a normal band. The other is removed and there is a $100 bill attached. Such a mini trick but so hard hitting. The best thing? It’s brilliantly clever. Very simple and uses some very old methods in band magic but in a completely new way.
A couple of effects follow suit and indeed use the same sort of principle. Sleight of Band. Another stunning effect and really can be imagined as a one trick download on one of these new polished sites. It’s just wicked. A band that’s wrapped around the deck lengthways rises up and down them deck. It begins wrapped around the whole deck. With a wave, it’s seen to jump up through the deck and now be wrapped around just half of the deck. It continues to jump up and down the deck in an incredible way. It really is an awesome trick. Rising card plots have been on the increase in recent years. But what better way to do it then with the elastic band. It’s fast growing to take over my normal rising card trick.
The final is one of he best in the book. A card visually slices through a rubber band and restores. It looks mad. Another one for the download generation. A great stand alone effect or in a routine. Of course every single one of the effects can be used as part of a routine and Ben gives credits and additional thoughts all the way through his book. As with every Ben Harris eBook of wonder, it’s beautifully laid out with lots of photos to help you along. This is one of his better “non cardy/ Card” books. Highly recommended!
“Ben’s Band Book is some of the best band and card magic ever. Some could be plucked out and used as single trick downloads. I was just sad that the book ended so soon. Highly recommended.”
***** 5/5 Stars
Welcome to Ben Harris’s home learning lecture notes. Now, I’ll be the first to admit that lecture notes are relatively boring. They are usually a collection of effect that is usually just throwing away ideas. You perhaps find one or two interesting ideas but the rest is discarded. It’s hard to find a set of lecture notes that makes that little buzzy light in your head shine brightly. But, thank goodness, Singapore Lecture notes is a collection of truly insightful and workable effects.
Obviously, not every trick in this book is for everyone. But what I love about Singapore Lecture notes is that there is something to play with (something you do for your own amusement), Something workable( an effect I would use in my performances) and lastly something to develop (an effect in it’s starting phases that you can expand upon).
Firstly, after, again the user agreements and the many introductory pages, we are launched into the first effect. Now this is the one that’s just too much fun to keep playing with. It’s not terribly workable and not necessarily something you will use often, but it is just so cool to do and watch. It is a card revelation in which a very clever set up with an elastic band see’s four piles forming a pyramid and revealing a selected card. Again, not fantastically usable, I don’t think it’s supposed to be taken to seriously, but god, it really is fun to keep doing over and over again.
Swiftly floating onto a routine effect. Now, this is one that I have used and, occasionally, will use in the right situation. It’s an absolutely brilliant effect. It’s very simple to perform, but very clever in method. Unfortunately, it does require a set up of cards before the effect which isn’t overly easy to remember, but it really is worth it for the effect. There is so much going on and it is an absolute knock out to spectators. Now, Oil and Water Deluxe! I have written a complete review just on this effect and I cannot rate it enough. This is one of the tricks in the book that I will use forever and ever. It is by far the best and cleanest method for the oil and water plot. VERY clever and absolutely clean to the bone. Disinfectant couldn’t even make this cleaner. It’s a trick that uses no gimmicks, minimal sleight of hand and still makes you look like an absolute sleight of hand guru. There will never be a cleaner method to this plot and non better then Ben’s take on this gorgeous plot. This is worth the price of the whole book.
For you coin fanatics, there is a cool coin palm. However, not being a brilliant coin worker, it wasn’t for me. However, I’m confident many of you will enjoy this addition to your coin sleights.
Angel Aces is an effect (production) that I’ve come across before. Not knowing the original author, Ben Harris pops up again. This is a brilliant four ace production. Can be done from a mixed deck with some sleight tinkering along the way. Lots of flares and flashes to make the flashiest of card appearances. What I love about this is nothing is repetitive. Everything comes as an absolute surprise and looks truly magical. With the time and effort, you can get this looking really pretty and graceful. He even gives us a scan copy of the original literature in which he published this.
Next we are graced with a take on yet another classic plot of magic. The cannibal card plot. This is a really cute, quick and simple version of the plot using the four aces. This is another of the card effects in the book it’s really useful knowing. No set up required and just a seriously cute and compelling piece of magic. The three Card Game is a brilliant brilliant effect. So brilliant I’ve used the work brilliant four times! It uses a move by Paul Harris which is reasonably well known but briefly covered in the effect for those who don’t. The three card plot is another plot in magic that’s been covered a lot over the years. But although Ben’s version not being anything groundbreaking, is a really novel and slick handling.
The last effect in the book is probably one of the main ones for me. I absolutely loved it. A practical impromptu ending to a often gimmicked finally to the ambitious card plot. The deck is wrapped in rope. The selection is fairly placed in the centre. Without undoing the rope, the top card is pulled from under the rope and is the signed selection. This is absolutely wicked. Well, as long as you have a length of rope lying around. Of course, that can be alternated somewhat. There are many fairly expensive gimmicks for achieving the same effect and although you must destroy one card in your deck, it takes less than 10 seconds to create the gimmick and minutes to learn giving your time to perfect the handling and presentation. This is another that I will defiantly use often.
“Ben’s lecture notes are defiantly a collection of workable and usable effects. It’ bursting with fun ideas and bursting with brilliant takes of some of magic’s most well known magic plots. Defiantly one of the best set of lectures note’s I have.”
Rating:: ***** 5/5 stars
Reviewed by Jamie Daws
So we see the return of another updated Ben Harris Miracle. I must say, I was genuinely excited about receiving this one. The classic plots of magic such as 'oil and water' have always intrigued me. Finding ways to update the originals of each effect, bring it up to date and make it the best possible handling for both spectator and magician. Oil and water is no exception. Over the years readying hundreds of books, lectures notes and watching just as many DVD’s and old video’s to find The BEST handling of the classic plot. Settling on Cameron Francis and Derren Brown’s versions as the one I used now.
So how does Ben Harris’ Deluxe Oil and Water compare?
It’s an absolute knock out! Before I continue with this review, I have to say, that this one is without a doubt my favourite “single trick” pdf from Ben so far. It really does everything an Oil and Water routine needs. For me, one of the most important things in an Oil and Water is that it looks simple and easy for the spectator to follow. This it does perfectly! What if I were to say that the spectator will begin by mixing the cards should you so wish... Then, by picking the stack up, displaying (with no funny moves) that they are STILL mixed and then still with no funny moves, show that they were separated, you’d think me mad? Well I’m not! This version of the classic really does live up to all the expectations I had hoped from an Oil and Water routine. What I also love about this routine is that the spectator can begin the trick by mixing them and then at the end, she can turn the mixed pile over to discover it’s unmixed state. There is only really one complex ‘Sleight’ in the routine. That being said, nearly any magician with basic knowledge of card magic can do this easily. Ben has also placed a conditioning open routine. Which is your basic ambitious card BUT, really settles your audience into what’s going to happen. Sometimes the smallest details are the most important. You do have to drag yourself though the opening pages of tittles and agreements but it is well worth it to get onto the actual trick. The effect is brilliantly well described and is deafly simple to perform. Everything about the routine screams ‘clean’. Most other routines use weird false count or card displacements. Sometime they even use extra cards or complicated set ups. This can be done from a shuffled deck. No set up. Spectator mixes them. No iffy or complicated counts or displacements.
The opening stage of the trick really caught me of guard. Do you remember when you were younger; getting a trick that was self working, like the Dynamic coins. When you slapped that brass cap on the table and that stack of coins appeared, it was not only magical but it was bloody confusing. Although you were following the instructions, you still couldn’t believe it worked. The same with this effect. I was following Ben’s instructions to a point which told me that the cards were separated and not mixed. I turned over the cards and sure enough, they were actually separated. Although, I was completely and utterly confused as to how that had happened.
In my honest opinion, This could be the ultimate in oil and water handlings. No complicated sleights or moves. Nothing looks suspicious. Simple and easy for the spectator to watch. Not long and drawn out. The spectator can begin the trick by mixing them AND can turn over the final pile to show they are separated. Clean, Clean, Clean.
Rating:: ***** 5/5 stars!
“A truly brilliant handling of one of magic’s most classic plots. Simple and easy to perform and possibly one of the cleanest versions you’re every likely to find! From a shuffled deck and a definite must for any card magician.”
Reviewed by Jamie Daws
Hoodwink, yet another Torn and Restored handling. With the amount of Torn and Restored effects on the market, it would have to bring something very new or different to the community. Being a card magician, I was looking forward to checking out Ben’s approach to the classic plot. But, after exploring every Torn and Restored plot that I have come across, admittedly, it would be hard to impress me.
Again, as with all of my reviews of Ben’s eBooks, the first thing that really does stand out is the quality of the books. They're just brilliantly put together. The time put into the project is apparent from the second you open the book. With his “Authentication” mark on top of the book so you know you’re getting a quality product.
We slide past the 4-5 pages of copyright declarations once again and finally get to the introduction. The history behind this is yet again very interesting. This is a revisited version of another of Ben’s earlier works “Prime Hole Card”. The development of an effect is, in my opinion very important to get everything just right. Ben has hit the nail right on the head. We move on to the effect.
Now unlike the conventional Torn and Resorted plot, the card is not torn into quarters and restored quarter by quarter. This version see’s the magician tear the card completely in half, display both pieces and in the blink of an eye restore the card. This is the first time we are introduced to the “Flash” restoration which I believe brings a very slick finale to the ending, almost as if the pieces jump together. After viewing a video of this effect online, I must admit to you that I was fooled. Unlike most torn and restored effects, this had such a simple handling and looked so clean. I saw the card being genuinely torn, displayed separately to each other and then in less than a second, it was restored all without anything else being in his hands. Now, that to me seems like a cool handling of Torn and Restored.
The book is well laid out and is incredibly simple. There are Circular photos with lines and nuggets of text to help you along. The handling is incredibly simple and brilliantly clever. I enjoyed how the long drawn out process of 1) tear up the card into quarters 2) display them 3) take 15 minutes just to restore it quarter by quarter. This is replaced by a tear up and one second visual restore. If I were to perform a torn and restored card effect, it would have to be something drastically different or a quick simple presentation much like this. I genuinely enjoyed Ben’s handling of torn and restored and will defiantly use it once or twice. The added value that it is completely impromptu, can use a signed card and has an incredibly deceptive and simplistic handling really helps sell the effect.
Although this is not the most groundbreaking of torn and restored cards, I think it is a brilliant approach to a quick “in and out” handling of the effect that can be performed anytime, anywhere and with any deck of cards with no prior set up. That to me sounds like a winner.
Rating **** 4/5 Stars “A valuable approach to the classic torn and restored plot. A no nonsense, in and out handling that is defiantly to be considered by all serious card magicians.”
This is the first of the books sent to me. I’m not a fantastic fan of thread work. Only dabbling in the world of “Loops” and other thread pulls. To this day, I perform very little thread work. So venturing into a book full of thread effects and tips was very underwhelming for me. Firstly, you are greeted with a finely put together eBook. I have many digital books and this is way up with the best in terms of the way it is put together. They have clearly had a lot of time put into them. Unfortunately you have to go through 6 pages of copyright agreements and blank pages to get to the introduction but I suppose it is easy to skip over it and we shall forgive Ben for this.
He has a lengthy introduction which I believe has been re-written from its original publication. Introductions are usually one thing I also skip over but in this case I’m very pleasantly surprised that it really roped me in. Ben’s research into elastic thread magic is brilliant and he brought new facts to the reader as to where some of today’s most commonly performed thread effect really came from. Much to my surprise, it was far from who and where I had thought it had appeared from. It really sets the mood and really makes you appreciate how everything we currently know was rooted in very different circumstances then first thought.
So, to the effects in the book. We are taken firstly to the very beginning. A little bit of thread management. He gives some very helpful tips on how to camouflage your thread and help you feel more confident in using the thread. Although these small details are, well, small; they are essential to thread work as Ben mentions. These small details may be common knowledge to the common thread worker, but these are very helpful to those of us who may be experimenting in the thread world for the first time. Ben again, fully credits the origins of everything he mentions and all the ideas he has listed. He even takes you through how to create a certain type of invisible elastic loop.
Slider :: This is a cute little effect. I can’t help but think it is a little pointless and would have to be used within a routine. However, Ben does suggest this be used as a “gag” effect within the “Strange Travellers” plot. Again, many versions of this exist in current thread DVD’s and books but usually in different ways. One thing I’m beginning to love about Ben’s books is the hand drawn illustrations. To the modern day magician, photos may be more appropriate but I can’t help but feel the organic and genuine approach to these books. The hand drawn illustrations really do make you feel like you are reading a classic. Plus, let’s face it, there just cool!
The Enchanted Butterfly :: Now were getting to it. This is a brilliant little effect using only two playing cards and a cigarette paper (and of course, you’re little something else). Instantly I can think of effect born from this idea. The effect being, creating a butterfly from a cigarette paper, and allowing it to float in between the two cards. I can imagine this perfectly and think it could be presented as a really beautiful piece of magic. The handling is incredibly clever and I have not come across this style of handling with thread work before. His thinking behind how the thread is being anchored is very clever and incredibly detailed. The effect is simple in method and beautiful in execution. The set up is minimal and allows everything to lay dormant in your deck until you need it. Possibly one of my favourite effects in the book.
Floating Smoke Ring :: This is another very cool effect that i hadn’t seen before. The handling is very simple but again, incredibly well put together. Allowing a ring made from a cigarette paper to float from under a glass, up between your hands and land on the upside-down glass base. Not much to say about this one. There are many images to help you along and a very clever handling of a cool effect.
The Flexing Pip :: This being another of my firm favourites in the book. Again, many version of the “moving pips” have been and gone. Usually the effect is created with a complex gimmick that has been made in a factory or hours by hand and cost a fortune. Ben teaches you how to make a very simple version of this effect. Just by shaking a two of diamonds, you can visually cause it to change to a three of diamonds. I will defiantly making one of these gimmicks up. I can make as many of these as I wish, inexpensively and still get the same effect as some of the expensive versions of the market. This is defiantly worth checking out and one that should be worked into a close up act. This takes those of us who are scared to use thread as a floatation device and allows us to utilise the thread in a solid, no hassle, no worry, fully camouflaged effect.
The Floating Card :: The effect is in the name. Again, many versions of this on the market and it appears in many other literatures. Ben’s handling is simple, effective and clever. Again, another effect that is slightly pointless and is a throwaway effect but I have no doubt that in the right routine, it can work wonders.
Coins on the move :: A coin effect with thread in which the coins visually assemble in the centre of the table. Again, very pointless and I’m not sure if it would work in a routine but it’s one of those effects that you could watch in the mirror time and time again, just for the fun of it. However, the simple handling allows you to slot in there with your favourite assembly trick.
Everything in these books is brilliantly put together. The images make it feel like a classic. The effects are real trend setters. What I love about this book is the effects really bring together many different types of magicians and allow everyone to get in on the act. For close up magicians you have traditional thread plots and floatation’s. For card magicians, a way to make pips visually spear on cards and make cards move. Stage and parlour magicians can make paper butterflies come to life. Every effect has an introduction into its creation and everything in the book is very well credited. I’m not sure if the book will convert me back into thread magic but I will defiantly be trying one or two of these effects in future.
Rating :: **** 4/5 Stars
“A brilliant insight to thread magic with something for even the most sceptical ‘threadaphobes’.”
Cosmosis is one of the effects that I have previously owned before the Digital version was released. This is an effect that I believe we can all relate to. This is one of the best selling effects around the world with companies everywhere ripping it off. It’s literally everywhere. Even one of the best selling commercial magic companies Marvin’s Magic reproduces this classic effect. But, learning the effect from the original source is bar none, the best way to learn an effect and now that this eBook is more available to magicians, I really hope people pick it up and get the original inventors insight into this wonderful creation. Admittedly, the first version of this that I owned was in some kind of children’s magic set and it was not until I purchased Ben’s Cosmosis about 3 years ago that I realised how historic this creation really is.
To those who do not know this classic, all you have to do is go into YouTube and type in Floating match to see just how popular this effect is, boasting thousands of videos from children and adults alike. From the professionals to the hobbyists, it seems to cover such a vast market of people from all over the world. The effect in its simplest form: Two cards are selected from the deck. A wooden match is introduced and is set on the back of one of the playing cards. The match then hovers over the card and the second card is passed beneath it to prove nothing is holding it up. The match hovers back down and it is handed out for inspection.
So firstly, we sift through the 5 or so pages of copyright agreements. However, this time we have a couple of images to keep us amused on our way to the introduction. Again, the introduction has been rewritten for the release of the digital book. The quality of this eBook is fantastic. Sleek, simple and easy to navigate through. The introduction really brings home just how much this effect has gone through and how much Ben has been forgotten through the various pirated copies that have been made through the years. Ben goes over the various thoughts behind the trick and also informs us of an authorised version of the effect that uses a small broomstick. Very fun indeed.
What I find most interesting about this effect compared to the marketed card versions is that we can pay up to £15 for two premade cards. In Ben’s original Cosmosis, not only does he teach you in depth how to make the cards at home, but also how to acquire the right props and things to use. Meaning you can make hundreds of the gimmicks for about £2.50. This really shows how much these rip off versions really do rip us off. Ben’s thoughts throughout the book are worth every penny and almost make me feel guilty at ever looking at another version of the floating match. The whole book is fantastically well written with many clear, artistic photos which help greatly when making the gimmicks. Everything is taught in depth and so careful is Ben to make the book last throughout time, he seems to have re written some of and re edited some of this book exclusively for the digital download.
I feel as if I must thank Ben personally for this effect. An effect that I believe we have all played with at some point and one that most of us will never forget. I’m glad I have had the chance to learn it from the original creator of the effect. This really does rival any of the premade versions on the market. What would you honestly prefer? To learn how to make the gimmicks for a lifetime and for next to nothing as well as gaining priceless information on the effects origins and learn from the creator, the inn’s and out’s of the effect from start to end or to buy pre made cards for triple the price and without the original critical workings that make the effect so strong. I know which I would prefer.
Rating :: ***** 5/5 Stars
“This is a priceless piece of magic literature and something every magician should have in their collection. Possibly one of Ben Harris’s greatest achievements.”