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Author Archives: chris ballinger

  • Card Trick of the Week 2

    Posted on October 8, 2007 by chris ballinger

    Phil Trick
    This week we wanted to showcase a trick that is very easy to do, but has a reputation of fooling magicians. The effect is this: someone mentally selects a card and you explain that you will name their selection. "Its name is Phil." Get it? You named their card. The cheap trick and cheesy joke sets the audience up for a whopper: the card they mentally selected is removed, all the other cards are shown to have different names written on their backs, and the selected card is shown to be the only one labeled Phil.

    There is nothing to memorize, nothing to switch, the deck does everything. The effect itself is so unbeatable that this deck finds its way into professional shows all the time. And the reactions are huge! The audience thinks the trick was just a silly joke, so when you show them that "Phil" is printed on the back of the randomly named card, they flip out. 

    Geek Factoid: The basic premise of "Phil" can be traced back to Fed Lowe's "Christened Reverse." Trevor Duffy reinvented a version that was created by Phil Goldstein in the early 1980s, called "Final Fred," which was introduced in a lecture at the 1985 FISM convention in Madrid. Duffy and Goldstein have discussed the issue of the prior invention and luckily an arrangement has been made allowing Duffy to market the effect with Goldstein's approval. The ironic thing is that Duffy's version was entitled "Phil" before becoming aware of Phil Goldstein's similar effect.

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  • Places of Magic 1

    Posted on October 4, 2007 by chris ballinger

    Maison de la Magie “The House of Magic”
    Location: Blois, France 

    Significance: Former home of Jean Eugène Robert-Houdin and current magic museum/theater. 

    History: Home of watchmaker-turned-magician Robert-Houdin who is considered by most to be the father of the modern style of stage magic. Escape artist Erich Weiss adopted the stage name Harry Houdini in honor of the French magician. His illusions and style of magic were the inspiration for the short story, “Eisenheim the Illusionist,” and subsequently the film, The Illusionist. 

    Stats: The mansion has been converted into a museum dedicated to the magical arts. Known for his automatons, the front of the house has giant, mechanical dragons that come out of the windows periodically and look around. The house consists of three sections: the museum, the theater, and something called a "Hallucinoscope" where you strap on a pair of angled mirror glasses and walk through an "underwater" installation that hangs from the ceiling. 

    Interesting Fact: The mansion was converted and refurbished with $11 million of taxpayers’ money. This town is serious about their magic.

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  • Card Trick of the Week

    Posted on September 26, 2007 by chris ballinger

    Cardiologist Deck 

    We were able to play with this deck right away. A quick read of the instructions is all you need to get started because the technique is simple and direct. Having some sleight of hand experience made getting to know the deck kind of fun, because you could see it was self-working, but was open to a lot of variations.

    Then we checked out the DVD… awesome. It's kind of cheesy at times, but they make up for that with content. Tomas Medina takes you through the basic workings of the effect and then goes through a series of revelations ranging from instantly performable to stunning challenges. There is even a section on “Outs”! Very few instructional DVDs cover what to do if you screw up, leaving you fending for yourself in those heart-stopping moments. But with the Cardiologist Deck, you’re heart is in good hands.

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  • Magic Terms

    Posted on September 26, 2007 by chris ballinger

    We have compiled a list of terms for people interested in magic, so they can get a jump start on the lingo. (We have excluded terms that we think give away the secrets to effects.)

    Busking – To perform in a public area usually for tips. This term is not exclusive to magic, but to any kind of public performing art. Street Magic is considered a form of Busking.
    Close-Up - Performance style that happens right in front of the audience at close-range. It’s more interactive magic that usually includes the use of coins, cards, and other small day-to-day objects.
    Control - Ability move or track a card from one point of the deck to another. Typically from the middle to the top of bottom using one of many shuffling techniques.
    Face - The part of a card that shows its value and suit. Reverse of back.
    Flashing - When someone in the audience see something that they shouldn't. Accidentally exposing a gimmick or method during the performance.
    Flourish - A move that displays dexterity and skill, but does not necessarily achieve a magic effect. Flourishes can include shuffles, fans, rolls, and cuts.
    Gimmick - A secret device used to achieve something out of the ordinary. Usually a gimmick is camouflaged or hidden from the audience’s view.
    Heat - Term used for how closely an audience member is watching you. Intense scrutiny is considered lots of heat. Synonymous with the term 'Burning'.
    Impromptu - A trick that needs no backstage preparation.
    Mentalism – A form of magic where one appears to possess extreme mind control. Mentalists often employ effects involving telekinesis, mind reading, and fortune telling.
    Misdirection - The ability to make your audience look where you want them to while you do something sneaky elsewhere.
    Packet - A group of cards that is smaller than a deck. A “Packet Trick” refers to a routine that uses less than a full deck of cards.
    Parlor Magic- In between Close-Up and Stage Magic. Plays to a larger crowd, and usually uses day-to-day objects.
    Patter - Scripted material said while performing magic.
    Pips - Marks on a card: Clubs, Hearts, Spades, Diamonds.
    Reversed Card - A card that is turned the opposite direction of the other cards in a deck.
    Self-Working - A trick that requires no Sleight of Hand.
    Sleight - A secret technique for achieving an effect. Also called a "move".
    Stage Magic - Large, illusion based magic. Usually done with larder props and done on a stage or platform.
    Stock - A packet of cards that have been prearranged somewhere in the deck.
    Sucker Trick - Routine that sets the audience up to think that the magician has failed, only to be fooled by the unexpected triumph.
    Switch - The secret exchange of props.
    Transposition - Then one object or person switches places with another object or person by impossible means.

    There are a lot of terms missing, so if you can think of any additions, please comment with your suggestions.

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  • Pro Beginner Stuff 1

    Posted on September 26, 2007 by chris ballinger

    This is the first in a series of blogs dedicated to beginner tricks that have killer effects, new handlings, or that you might have simply forgotten about.

    Today's  Pick: The Mental Prediction Board

    We put this effect in the stuff you might have overlooked or should give a second chance category. It's a scaled down version of a classic mentalism effect. Three predictions are made by the performer and three mental selections are made by the spectators. When the predictions are shown, they match. Spot on. Every time. 

    The little plastic Mental Prediction Boards have been available for decades, but very few people use them. Most beginner effects are a little over exposed but for some reason, this secret hasn’t reached the mainstream as much as Svengali Decks or Drawer Boxes have.

    Originally a stage or platform gimmick, this smaller version fits in a pocket or close-up case; making it perfect for Walk Around. The volunteers can think up stuff from any topic: a number, color, shape, etc. This means you can change the material and patter to fit in your routine or gig perfectly. Since three questions are asked there is a lot of back and forth with the audience, offering great opportunities to throw in comedy or play up your style of performance. 

    Overall, we think the Mental Prediction Board is solid magic. It always gets huge reactions from everyone we show it to and it's a lot of fun to perform.

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