A Thought Well Stolen combines two of magic’s great card effects — Any Card At Any Number, and a matching deck routine — into a wicked hybrid; morphing them into a mind-blowing frenzy. Can you even imagine what this resultant offspring would look like?
As in Any Card At Any Number, the performer reveals the identity of a freely though-of card — and its position in a deck — without asking a single question. Seriously, this is solid and gripping mentalism; there is no force, the card is a free MENTAL SELECTION and NO questions are asked. Having read his spectator’s mind, discerning his card and its position in the deck, the performer follows with a visual display rivalling the wonderful separation of colors in Out Of This World. Your audience is left reeling by:
1. Your amazing ability to read minds.
2. Your insane skill with a deck of cards.
The combination of effects is mind-boggling and capable of closing any show — be it one-on-one, at a party, on T.V., or in a theatre of hundreds. U.K. card expert Michael Vincent has chosen to perform A Thought Well Stolen during his “Champions Of Magic” season at the Jersey Opera House. That’s how strong A Thought Well Stolen is. Here’s what Michael has to say:
“As someone who has built a reputation on hard core sleight of hand, I am always ready to welcome an effect into my program at the opposite end of the technical spectrum. A Thought Well Stolen is that sort of effect, it fits perfectly into my modus operandi of mixing up my methods — an effect like this can steal your show.”
In the book’s introduction, the author sets out his goal clearly:
“A quest of mine — lasting decades — has been the search for a perfectly rendered illusion of mind-reading with a deck of cards. As a close-up performer — who loves cards and mentalism — this effect would be something where the performer identifies a freely thought-of card without any questions; without the spectator uttering a single word. Achieving this, or even getting close to it, creates a profound effect on the spectator. It’s also one that ripples through your entire audience, no matter what its size.
“A Thought Well Stolen is 100% pure as regards its intention: the identification of any freely thought-of card without any questions; without any prodding, probing, dual reality or ambiguity. And, without any limiting procedures. None at all. The result is a selection process about as fair as it can get:
‘Do you have a favourite playing card?’ the performer asks.
‘Yes, yes I do,’ the spectator replies.
‘Okay, that’s great,’ the performer confirms. ‘Don’t tell me. Keep the identity of your card secret, okay?’”
Is there an approach any more fair? I don’t think so.
The author fully explores the effect(s) in a detailed and friendly manner. Even a beginner can master A Thought Well Stolen because it requires nothing more than “basic card skills.” Advanced versions are discussed in the various appendices, but if you can do a single False Cut, or a False Shuffle, then you are in business; ready to astound audiences of any size.
A Thought Well Stolen requires the use of no gaffs or gimmicks of any kind, just regular playing cards. The book runs 40 pages of detailed text covering the simple and beautiful series of almost self-working procedures that bring about the amazing results.
“An effect like this can steal your show.” Michael Vincent
“Self-working routines rarely pack as much punch as this. The way you describe it is so captivating!” Andi Gladwin
“This is written in such a way that you can almost feel the effect performed as you read…” Jeff Sanders.
While this is an ebook (or book - choose on checkout), it will not be available until August 20th 2015.
Interview with Vanishing Inc. Magic and Ben Harris
VI: Ben, I just finished reading A Thought Well Stolen. It's great! So simple, fooling, and a great ending. How long have you been working on this effect?
BH: Well, that's an interesting question. I've been working on this all my magical life, hunting down a simple and fair procedure to identify and reveal a "thought-of card" without any questions or probing. I think you can see a little trail of bread crumbs leading all the way up to A Thought Well Stolen. CrossRoads, Silent Running, and even X-RAY (with Steve Shufton) are signposts passed on the way. However, A Thought Well Stolen ELIMINATES any obvious limiting or card selection procedures leaving us with the most elegant and fair selection process:
"Do you have a favourite playing card?" the performer asks.
"Yes, yes I do," the spectator replies.
"Okay, that’s great," the performer confirms. "Don’t tell me. Keep the identity of your card secret, okay?"
That's how I want a "Think-of-a-card effect" to begin. If we were real mind-readers, (somehow finding ourselves performing card magic instead of saving the world), that's how it WOULD begin.
VI: What made you come up with A Thought Well Stolen? Was there something you didn't like about other Any Card At Any Number effects?
BH: Well, my favorite card at any number effect involves 52 Svengali decks. Not exactly practical, but it does allow a totally free choice of card and number! I create magic in two different ways. Firstly, there is the concerted and conscious effort where one sets out to achieve a certain effect or outcome, and then you find the best and most efficient path to do so. You draw on your existing knowledge, new ideas, and the giants of creativity that have walked before you. It can be frustrating, and always feels a little forced. This is because you are always juggling compromises. On the other hand, the best ideas, I find, just fall out of the sky fully formed. It'a a matter of being "open" creatively, to receive the material. Obviously, I don't think these things are gifts from any deity or the like, they are simply solutions thrown out by the mind which has been mulling the intricacies over deep within the subconscious. It's much the way author Stephen King likes to write his novels: place the characters in a situation and let THEM sort it out -- DON'T start with the plot, let it play out.
VI: What makes yours stand out among the countless other versions of this effect?
BH: I think what really makes A Thought Well Stolen stand out is that you can perform it EITHER as mentalism, or card artistry. You can be serious or dextrous. What's more, it can be performed by beginners, just as OOTW can be performed by beginners. I've always love Chan Canasta and have always liked big and powerful card effects that can be presented to an audience of any size, and that are strong enough to close a show. Real presentation pieces, so to speak. This is what I wanted to create and A Thought Well Stolen is such a piece. It's a performer's piece. One of the reasons for this is the EASE of performance. It's almost, not quite, self-working. So much effect for so little work gives the performer room to PERFORM. I remember, as a young magician, the power I felt surge through my skinny frame as the climax of Paul Curry's Out Of This World was revealed to my audiences. The visual flurry, so easily achieved, was way disproportionate to the effort I'd put in. I liked that, and think that most magicians do. By combining ACAAN with an OOTW-type of finale is a powerful approach. The ACAAN phase is strong. You can STOP right there. And, if you are presenting this is mentalism, that's a good idea. That's how the charming and talented mentalist Luca Volpe is performing it. If, on the other hand, you are presenting the effect as a demonstration of SKILL, then the OOTW-type finale is your end game -- as Mike Vincent, card expert, performs it.
VI: Without giving away too much detail, can you tell us about the setup? Easy to do? Instant re-set? Borrowed decks?
BH: Amazingly enough, there are no gimmicks of any sort. Anywhere you have deck of cards (for the single deck version) or two decks (for the feature version) you are ready to perform. They don't even have to be your cards! No sleights, other than a simple false cut are required. Of course, advanced handlings, additional sleights, and approaches are covered in the appendices, but any BEGINNER can come to grips with this, easily. This, as a creator, I find satisfying; it indicates good and solid methodology, which should always be as simple as it can be.
VI: Finally, What's next for Ben Harris?
BH: Well, I'm a full-time writer now, only occasionally dipping back into magic for the LOVE of it (and that's the right reason, so far as I can tell). So, for now, it's doing the publicity for my new gardening book (Sept release in the U.S.) and getting my first novel done. Magically, I'm finishing a large-ish tome on mentalism effects drawn from my one-man show, "Hellucinations."