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  • A Star from Magic Geek

    Posted on November 3, 2008 by chris ballinger

    One of the assistants in the video demos is performing at Disney's California Adventure. If you happen to be at the Resort, you might catch Colleen singing and dancing in the High School Musical 3: Right Here, Right Now show!

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    My family and I took a trip down there to see her first performance and it was a lot of fun. The show is very entertaining and it was great to see her up there doing what she does best (aside from watching magic tricks.) Hopefully we'll still be able to get her into the shop to film some new demos from time to time.

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    Also, while we were in the park I noticed one of the photographers springing a deck of cards. I asked him if he did any tricks and he proceeded to show me a really good trick. So great job California-Adventure-photo-taker-card-springy guy!

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  • Featured on Youtube!!!

    Posted on October 30, 2008 by chris ballinger

    I post little videos on this blog from time to time. Today I was checking the comments and noticed that one of the videos was getting a lot more traffic than I was used to. Lo and behold, youtube had featured it on their homepage!

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    It's really exciting! I feel like I'm going to be spending the next week moderating the comments and responses on it. Thanks for all your views everybody!


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  • What's the Difference - Part 6

    Posted on October 30, 2008 by chris ballinger

    Changing Cards

    "Color Changes" are hugely popular in the modern card magic. A lot of changes require sleight of hand, and if you're down with learning them, I suggest you check out Card College - Volume 1, Card College - Volume 3, and The Art of Card Manipulation DVDs by Jeff McBride. But if you're looking for something a little easier, I thought I'd go through these clever gimmicks.

    Blink by JB Magic:
    This is the quickest change that we will look at. It happens in plain view and... well... in the blink of an eye.

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    Strengths: Super visual and no sleight of hand.
    Weaknesses: It's a delicate little prop and the card isn't examinable at the end. In fact, you need to hide parts of the card from view.

    Alpha Cards by Jesse Feinberg:
    A slow transition from hearts to spades... or the other way around. The reactions you get from this one are crazy.

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    Strengths: A slow change from one card to another which can happen in the spectator's hand.
    Weaknesses: The hearts are configured the wrong way around, so a card enthusiast might call you out on that. I don't want to give anything away, but you might have to get creative with how you set up or perform the effect so that the change is drastic enough.

    Moving Point by SEO Magic:
    Two of the pips slowly travel across the card until it becomes a completely different card. Cyril Takayama performed this on Japanese television--and for good reason.

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    Strengths: The slowly moving pips can make audiences scream. It's so different from what most people expect from a card trick.
    Weaknesses: It's another one of those delicate gimmicks and it can't be performed super close-up unless you move the card around a lot while your performing.

    WOW!! by Masuda:
    This is the easiest change featured here and it looks like trick photography. You put an indifferent card into the sleeve and it changes. It's up to you if it changes slowly or in the blink of an eye.

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    Strengths: No sleight of hand required and it can be done with a signed card (which is my favorite part.)
    Weaknesses: You have to carry around that little sleeve. This may not be a big deal to most of you, but some people don't like carrying around a bunch of extra stuff.

    Well, there you have it. Before I wrap this post up I do want to say that there is a lot to be said for learning some color changes that can be done with a regular deck. I strongly recommend checking out the Card College Series and the Art of Card Manipulation DVDs. But each of the gimmicks in this blog allow for something that just isn't possible with sleight of hand.


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  • Comedy in Magic

    Posted on October 28, 2008 by chris ballinger

    On our post "What's the Difference - Part 6" someone with the alias of "???" wrote this comment:

    i am a comedy magician but with so many great tricks on this website it is hard to find ones that are funny. it would be great if a blog about the funniest tricks.

    A very good suggestion and a topic that I am very happy to be writing about. Any trick can be turned into a comedy routine. Your persona usually determines whether a trick is funny, creepy, cheesy, exciting, classy, etc. That being said, there are certain tricks that were invented with comedy in mind. In each section of Magic Geek, there is a "Jump Categories" Drop-Down Menu in the top right areaof the page. Click on "Comedy" to see what we deem as having humor potential.

    What follows are my top five picks for comedy magic tricks.

    #5 Rocky the Raccoon:
    Some of you out there are going "Why? Why in the name of all that is magical have you chosen Rocky the not-a-magic-trick Raccoon for your top five funniest magic tricks list?" And to you I say, I know. I've been there. In fact, when the owner of Magic Geek insisted I do a magic demo for the little spring critter I cringed. But I have done a 180! Rocky's not for everyone, but if he fits into your routine, he kills at live performances.

    #4 Hoppin Spots:
    This is kind of like a "Sucker Trick" for the platform performer. I can't think of an easier trick that gets this kind of reaction. The beauty is that the audience thinks that they are in on the trick and then you smack them across the face with eight felt dots.

    #3 Vanishing Coke Bottle:
    If you do children's shows you need this trick. Kids love to yell at you when they think they've figured your tricks out. A skilled performer can get the entire audience to yell until the bag is crumpled up (and that's when the yells turn to laughs.) This trick might be awesome for kid shows, but everyone loves the end of the trick. It's a real surprise to a lay-audience.

    #2 Cue Card:
    This is a great way to get a laugh at the end of a trick. It can turn a trick that got a lone cricket chirp into a set-up for a thunderous gag. Four distinct punch lines are built in to this effect. First off you admit that the trick you just did isn't getting the reaction that you want. Then you have the audacity to ask for more. Then you change the first part of the sign, which usually gets another laugh. And then you give them a final applause cue. Just watch the video, it's pretty self explanatory.

    #1 Multiplying Bottles:
    This one's great because you can do it silent like I did in the video demo or with some humorous patter like Lance Burton. It's one of those trick where--just like with the Vanishing Coke Bottle--the initial effect is not actually the trick. The routine starts off with there being one bottle and one glass that switches places, but a second bottle "accidentally" gets revealed. Oops! This keeps happening until your table is filled with "extra" bottles and the trick takes on a completely different form. The comedy is dependent on the magician's reaction to the multiplying bottles. But there is a motherload of comedy gold to be found in this wonderful stage routine.

    As I said before these are the tricks that I have found to produce the most laughs. But depending on your performance style, maybe the Knife Thru Arm gets a bigger chuckle or the Straight Jacket Escape. So here's a list of close runner-ups that almost made the top 5. McCombical Prediction, Pea Can, Magic Insurance Policy, MagiCard, 'Fraid Knot, Color Monte, Phil and the Latex Dove.

    What have YOU found to be the funniest magic tricks? Now's your chance to let everyone know.


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  • What's the Difference - Part 5

    Posted on October 25, 2008 by chris ballinger

    Rope Routines:

    Okay, so what's the difference between all of those rope tricks? In this post we are going to focus primarily on Professor's Nightmare style routines. These routines usually involve three ropes that stretch, shrink, have moveable or removable ends and the like.

    Professor's Nightmare Pro by Bob Carver:
    This is a nice set of ropes which includes the basic Professor's Nightmare instructions. Three ropes of different lengths stretch and shrink until they are all the same length.

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    Strengths: The ropes are taped at the ends to avoid fraying, the ropes are examinable, and they can be used for the Fiber Optics and 'Fraid Knot routines.
    Weaknesses: The text instructions are very limited. There is a lot of room to expand on this set of ropes and it only goes over the very basic routine.

    Optical Ropes by Mark Mason:
    This is a fun routine with a lot of transformations and multiplying ends. The thing I like the most about it is that it uses a technique I've never seen before.

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    Strengths: Very well-made gimmicks. Includes instructional DVD which is good because text instructions can be really hard to follow with rope magic.
    Weaknesses: The ropes are not examinable and can only be used for the effects demonstrated in the video demo.

    Fiber Optics by Richard Sanders:
    This instructional DVD does not come with ropes, but it does come with tons of super-visual moves that can be used in any rope routine.

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    Strengths: A lot of work went into this DVD and it shows. This is some of the most visual rope magic I've ever seen.
    Weaknesses: As I said before, it doesn't come with ropes and it jumps right into pretty advanced stuff. I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.

    'Fraid Knot by Christopher Ballinger:
    I shouldn't be reviewing my own routine, but it was requested, so I'll try to be objective... This is the rope routine that I have been working on since I was ten years old and I use it all the time on the streets and at paying gigs.

    Strengths: It's a full routine, which means that you can perform it as-is or take the moves from it and use them in a different order. It gets the spectators involved which is always a plus in my book.
    Weaknesses: It's an instant download so you aren't getting any physical product and the routine takes some practice to get it down.

    Hopefully that helps you decide which rope routine will work best for you. I would like to thank one of our customers for requesting this comparison in one of our past entries. If you have any routines that you want compared please contact us and let us know. (It makes my job of guessing what you want to read much easier.)


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  • What's the Difference - Part 4

    Posted on October 23, 2008 by chris ballinger

    Levitation Devices:

    We carry quite a few utility items and routines involving the defiance of gravity. Here's a quick review on a couple to help you choose what's right for you.

    Floating Match on Card or Cosmosis by Ben Harris:
    If you've never played around with floating or levitation effects, this is a great place to start. Floating Match on Card comes with two gimmicks in case on breaks. Cosmosis is the "magician's" floating match on card routine. It comes with the gimmick, supplies to make more gimmicks, and an excellent instruction booklet.

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    Strengths: Easy to carry around visual, unexpected magic. One of the few levitation tricks with no "hook-up".
    Weaknesses: It's delicate. Very delicate.

    Floating Dollar Bill by Jon Jensen:
    The first routine with an "IT Hook-up" that I would recommend. It's eerie, visual and simple. Ball up the bill and watch it go.

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    Strengths: It's done with a borrowed object which is examinable before and after the trick.
    Weaknesses: After setting up the trick you are limited with where you can perform it. Anytime you want to make something float, you have to be standing in the same spot.

    Hummingbird Card by Magic Makers:
    This is a floating card effect similar to the UFO Card or the Hummer Card trick. This is another great introduction to IT effects.

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    Strengths:It looks really cool and can be done anywhere.
    Weaknesses: I've never felt safe with this hook-up in place. Maybe I just haven't gotten used to it, but if I'm doing walk around, I've got a lot more to worry about than a very invisible delicate thing running across my body.

    I.T.R.s i.e. Thread Genie by Magic Makers and Spider Pen by Yigal Mesika:
    Reels are great for walk-around because you can set it up and take it down anywhere you go. The effect usually looks just like the Floating Dollar bill, although there are other hook-up variations possible for tricks like floating ring, floating match, and haunted deck.

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    Strengths: They both are very portable. The Spider Pen uses an electric reel and has more flexibility in control and distance between performer and floating object.
    Weaknesses: Both are delicate and require practice. Repairing a break can be frustrating at best with the Thread Genie, it's easier with the Spider Pen.

    Enlightenment by Ben Harris:
    This one doesn't really fit in with the rest of the tricks in this segment, but I've had a lot of questions about it, so here it goes... A selected (could be signed) card rises off the pack and then floats back down for full inspection.

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    Strengths: No thread is used and the card can be examined before and after the effect. The bold performer can even perform this trick while the spectator is holding the cards.
    Weaknesses: The angles are great, but the trick is certainly not angle-proof. Unless you get the Development Kit, Custom Deck, and/or the Paradigm Shifter, you've got some construction and hunting-down-of-materials to do.

    If you made it through the whole post, congratulations. This one was a doozy!


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  • Fans of the Geeks

    Posted on October 22, 2008 by chris ballinger

    If you like magic or geeks or both, now is your chance to let the world know! We just created the Magic Geek Fan Page on Facebook. The fan page is a place where we can post awesome videos, exciting notes and get in-touch with our Facebook homies!

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    Show your Geek Pride and become a fan of Magic Geek. We promise not to clog up your feed.


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  • What's the Difference Part 3

    Posted on October 17, 2008 by chris ballinger

    Today I want to take a look at tricks where the entire deck turns blank except for a selected card. We are going to focus on tricks that use full decks today and save the similar packet effects (Tricks using on a small number of cards) for another time.

    Point Blank by Jordan Cotler:
    A card is selected and the entire deck changes into blank cards leaving the selection as the only printed card.

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    Strengths: This is the easiest of the three tricks in this article. Simple, to the point and resets instantly.
    Weaknesses: The cards are not examinable at the end of the effect. This might not bother some people, but if you've ever had an unruly spectator grab your props, this is a scary drawback.

    Erazer by Adrian Gower:
    This is more of a Brainwave effect than the other two. A card is named and it is shown to be face-up and to have a different colored back, and to be the only card with printing on the face.

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    Strengths: Well, it's got that different color back thing that the other two effects don't have and it's got a fun routine.
    Weaknesses: This is a good trick, but some people consider it to be overkill. The thought-of-self-flipping-color-changing-only-unblank-card effect scares away a couple of magicians, but audiences seem to like it. The biggest weakness on my opinion is that there is some verbal forcing involved. They can kind of name any card in the deck. That's why I recommend this trick to people that have a bit of experience in mentalism.

    Blizzard by Dean Dill:
    This is probably my favorite gimmicked card trick. Someone literally names any card (no force) and this card is removed from the deck. You do some stuff with the card and then show that it is the only card in the whole deck with printing on it.

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    Strengths: The Spectator can name ANY card. The beautiful ending to the trick is matched only by the fact that everything can be examined.
    Weaknesses: This one takes some nerve to pull off. The first time I read the instructions I was like, "I'm going to get caught every time I do this." But, the very bold (yet easy) sleight fools them every time.


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  • What's the Difference Part 2

    Posted on October 10, 2008 by chris ballinger

    We carry a few different versions of the Pen/Pencil through Bill effect. So it's time to tear things up and ask "What's the difference?"

    Perfect PENetration by Magic Makers:
    This is a fantastic gimmick. You push a pen through a borrowed dollar bill. When you pull it to the side the hole seems to melt through the dollar and eventually slides completely off the dollar bill.

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    Strengths: The gimmick is very well made and allows for several different handlings. It's pretty easy to use and looks great.
    Weaknesses: The pen looks like a regular pen and so it's easy to loose. There is some sneaky stuff that has to happen in order to make the pen examinable and you have to be careful around anything that's not made of wood, glass or plastic... if you know what I mean.

    Just Passin' Thru by Russ Niedzwiecki
    This is a pencil through bill effect. The actual penetration is not so much a stab as it is a sideways melting through action. This gimmick also allows for a lightning-fast penetration through the side of the bill.

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    Strengths: For some reason a wooden pencil is a lot more convincing than a plastic pen. The melting through effect looks amazing.
    Weaknesses: The pencil used in this is thicker than a standard pencil which kind of looks strange. There is a switch involved in this trick that is kind of awkward.

    Misled by Timothy Wenk
    There is a reason that this trick was performed by David Copperfield on national television... it's really good. The first phase is a puncture, tear and restore effect and the second phase is a slow melting like Just Passin' Thru.

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    Strengths: Uses a very normal/examinable pencil. There is a very dramatic tearing sound that happens when you rip the pencil out the side of the bill.
    Weaknesses: You have to steal the gimmick away at the end of the trick but it's small and easy to hide. You have to be careful with your angles.


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  • Discount Update

    Posted on October 3, 2008 by chris ballinger

    If you haven't started carving your pumpkin yet, now's the time to do it! If you send us a picture of your magic themed pumpkin, we will give you 10% off all of your purchases in the month of October. This is where you can keep up-to-date with all the goings-on of the give-away.

    Keep checking back on this thread as we post pictures and comments on the incoming jack-o-lanterns. And please feel free to leave your comments and thoughts on the pumpkins.

    ------------------- 10/09/08 -------------------

    David sent us a pumpkin "carving" that needs to be mentioned. Since he wasn't allowed to use a knife he got a little creative and came up with this prize-winning pumpkin.

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    Congratulations David, we give you points for creativity and effort. We love the hat and magic wand. Thanks for participating in our festive giveaway.

    ------------------- 10/03/08 -------------------

    Oh boy! The entries are already starting to pour in! Just check out this pumpkin sent to us by Jordan:

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    That is definitely a prize winner. I like the inverse moon/hand thing going on, on the right. Good work Jordan, you've set very high standards for the rest of us.


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