Effect: A pencil is visibly and audibly snapped in two while out of the performer's hands. All of the props are ordinary, and everything may be inspected at the conclusion of the effect.
Method: Required are an ordinary pencil and a plastic cup. The plastic cup must be of the variety that has a bottom that can be pushed out from the inside of the cup and will snap back into place with a loud pop when squeezed. The seven ounce plastic drinking cup manufactured by the Alchem Plastic Company is one brand that works. (These cups have on the package: "Stock No. 7100-12R — Alchem Plastic, La Mirada, Calif. 90638.") Upon inspection, many cups will be found to have this property.
Prior to performance, carefully snap the pencil in the middle. You should be able to press the broken ends back together with no difficulty. Press the bottom of the cup outward. Introduce the cup and pencil and explain that something strange happened the last time you were preparing your tax return. You became angry, and a pencil in your pencil holder snapped in two. Offer an impromptu demonstration with the pencil and the plastic cup. Stand the pencil in the cup and hold the cup in your hand with your arm extended. With some obvious concentration, secretly press the bottom of the cup. The plastic will snap back into place, and the sound replicates the sound of a pencil snapping in two. The movement of the bottom of the cup will knock off the top of the broken pencil which will fall to the floor. The illusion, visually and audibly, is perfect. All properties may now be inspected.
Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas
When doing card tricks for the public, one often hears the question, "Are you barred from Las Vegas?" Martin Nash is far from an exception in this. He has heard it so often over the years he has developed this routine to play off the question. It leaves an intense impression that he can do anything he wishes with a pack of cards. While it will take some work to master, the effect gives the appearance of near super-human skill — much more than is actually required. If your goal is to impress with a pack of cards, this routine will do it for you.
Martin introduces it — usually in response to the question mentioned above — by saying, "Am I barred from Las Vegas? Well, I'll be honest with you. They really don't like me much and I'll show you why. Will you please think of any card you see as I riffle through the deck?" At this point three spectators are each asked to peek at and remember a card. Martin does his Triple Clip-Steal to quickly control the three peeked cards to second, third and fourth positions from the face of the pack. This sleight will be briefly described, but it is recommended that the student refer to the original description on pages 339- 346 of Sleight Unseen for fuller details. In fact, this recommendation for consultation of the original sources holds for all the sleights used in this routine.
The deck is held in the left hand, slightly beveled to the right. The left fingers lie lightly along the right edge of the deck. Starting on your left, hold the deck face toward a spectator and riffle the upper right corners of the cards slowly off the right fingertip. Ask the spectator to stop you at any time. The riffling is done slowly so that he will stop you in the bottom third of the pack. Open the pack enough for him to see his card when he calls for a stop. As the pack is closed the left fourth fingertip catches a break below the peeked card.
The same procedure is repeated with a second spectator in front of you and a third spectator to your right. The second spectator's card should be located near the center of the pack and a break is held below it with the left third fingertip. The third card should be peeked at a position about two-thirds up from the face of the deck, and the left second fingertip holds the break below it. The situation is seen from an exposed view in Figure 1.
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