FULLY BOOKED | Anteater Consortium
By Harapan Ong - Friday, November 22, 2019
So far, I have been focusing on books that are pretty well known, or have pretty big names behind them. If you notice, they also tend to be pretty large books, compiling quite a lot of tricks from the author. This is because in order to save some money, I’ve always found these compilation books to be the best value for my money.
However, that’s not to say that I am ignoring the smaller books in publication. In fact, I kind of have a soft spot for hunting down these small manuscripts, booklets and lecture notes, because part of the joy I derive from magic books come from the mentality of being a “treasure hunter” - I always feel like by cracking open the pages of a new book, there is a chance that I will find some hidden gem of magic that will change my views on card magic forever.
And from my experience, while compilation books are great, they often contain the best routines from the author - routines that have been polished to perfection over years of experience and performance. While this is invaluable knowledge, I have found that it is the weirder, untested ideas that inspire me the most. And these sort of esoteric ideas are often found in these lesser-known lecture notes and booklets!
Hence, today I would like to feature a small booklet by my friend Ben Train, titled (confusingly) Anteater Consortium. It contains a small selection of five card effects from Ben, and they are pretty varied: from impossible card locations to red-black separations to a flourishy Ace production.
It is one of the most fun books I’ve read, mainly because of Ben’s writing style and penchant for peppering his descriptions with jokes and humorous one-liners.
Some of my favourite tricks from this booklet are:
Segue: A great red-black routine with a stunning finale. It is similar in effect to Darwin Ortiz’s Blockbuster routine. A card is chosen (e.g. Ace of Hearts) and lost in the deck. The magician then shuffles the deck face up and face down, showing clearly the mix of cards. With a snap of the fingers, the deck is spread on the table again, showing that all the face up cards are now black, except for the selected red Ace. The handling is very nice and fooling!
The Trinity Concept: A simple, direct impossible location of three selected cards that were freely cut to by the spectator. The setup can be done at a moment’s notice, but it has the impact of a memorised deck location of three cards.
Three Card Monte Burns: A simple, well-constructed sandwich routine where the sandwich cards themselves change in the end, producing a four of a kind. To be fair, this routine is not incredibly original (admitted by Ben himself in the trick description, with proper crediting), but the presentation is unique as a three card monte routine and not a sandwich effect. If you have not seen this type of sandwich effect before, you’ll appreciate the simple construction of the handling.
I have not much else to say about this booklet because it is a pretty short manuscript, so perhaps I’d like to end off with a personal story of my first (and only) encounter with Ben himself. It has something to do with the idea of going “treasure hunting”, so I think it is a befitting story to tell at the end of this review, in order to end the way I started.
I met Ben Train in London a number of years ago, and we were walking around London, hopping from pub to pub. In London, there are quite a few pubs with bookshelves and books on them, designed for the quieter patrons to sit down, have a pint of beer and read if they wish to. Now, Ben is a huge book geek as well, so he was constantly going into each pub, rushing over to the bookshelves and looking at the titles every single book before joining the group of us back at our table.
Curious, we asked what he was doing. We teased him for his book searching antics, to which he replied:
“Haha… you may be laughing at me now, but one day, I’m going to walk into a pub here and find an original copy of Erdnase on the shelf.”
This went on for the rest of the evening until one pub, where he came back to the table beaming with pride.
He hadn’t found Erdnase, but he had actually managed to find a couple of books by Ricky Jay, one of which was a pretty rare one.
He bought it off the pub owner at a decently low price.
That lucky sod.
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