The Elmsley Cups And Balls Routine

Effect: The time-honored set of three metal cups is set on the table, along with a small ball. The bail quickly vanishes from the performer's hand and appears under one of the cups. This feat is repeated. The ball is now caused to penetrate through the solid bottom of a cup, then to multiply into three balls.

One ball is placed into each cup, but the three balls magically congregate in the center cup. The cups are then stacked together and inverted. From them issues a stream of salt—enough salt to fill all three cups to overflowing.

Method: The major novelty in Mr. Elmsley's version of this classic trick is the copious production of salt at the finish. What is more remarkable about this production is that it is not introduced into the cups during the routine—it is there from the beginning!

You will need a standard set of three cups. Also required are three half or three-quarter inch balls (cork or crocheted), a sheet of newspaper and a quantity of salt. A metal tray large enough to perform the routine on is another item you might consider. The tray is used to contain the overflow of salt at the finish and to make the clearing of the performing surface fast and neat.

To prepare, set the three cups mouths up and drop a ball into two of them. Fill the third with salt. Performing conditions will dictate how high the cup is filled. You must judge the height and proximity of your audience, and the distance the spectators can peer down into the cups on the table. Under most circumstances the cup can be safely filled to at least three-quarters height without the salt being seen.

With the cups still mouths up, nest them together with the salt-filled one uppermost. Next, open out the sheet of newspaper onto the working surface (table or tray) and pour a quantity of salt onto the quadrant that will rest directly on the table when the paper is refolded. The amount of salt should be enough to more than fill all three cups when added to that already in the one cup. Smooth the salt into an even layer on the paper, keeping the outer edges free of it (Figure 220). Then fold the paper back into quarters over the saltladen portion. This paper will be your working surface.

Lay the remaining ball onto the center of the newspaper and set the cups, mouths up, in a line behind it, with the salt-filled cup on your right.

For ease of learning, the routine will be taught in five phases.

First Phase

Draw attention to the ball and pick it up in the right hand. At the same time, with your left hand nest the cups together, picking them up from right to left.

Set the ball down again in its spot. With your right hand, take the bottom cup of the stack and set it mouth down on the table, just to the right of the ball. Do not, of course, let the ball inside this cup be seen as the cup is inverted. Set the remaining two cups, mouth up and nested, to the left of the ball. The positions of the cups and visible ball are shown in Figure 221.

With the right hand, pick up the ball and pretend to place it into the left hand. Actually execute a false transfer and palm it in the right hand. (It is assumed that the reader of this book has a foundation in the basics of conjuring and will be conversant with the classic methods employed in the Cups and Balls, such as false transfers and palming, If such sleights are unknown to you, they can be found in many general texts. Therefore, a redescription of these techniques is not supplied.)

Make a magical gesture over the closed left hand and open it to show the ball has vanished. Then, with the right hand, lift the right-hand cup and show the ball under it. Set the cup, mouth up, behind the ball. Pause a moment to let the effect register. Then, with the left hand, pick up the two nested cups and, with the right hand, the third, single cup. Carry the right hand's cup to the stack, secretly drop the palmed ball into the cup, and slip it back onto the bottom of the stack. Thus you have returned to the opening position of the routine. When loading a ball, at this point and hence forward, never look at the cup.

Second Phase

With the right hand, pick up the ball and display it. Then set it at the center of the table. Remove the bottom cup of the stack and set it mouth down to the right of the ball and a bit behind it. A second ball lies under this cup. With the right hand, remove the top cup of the nested pair (the salt-filled cup) and place it, mouth up, behind the exposed ball. Then, with the left hand, invert the remaining cup—with ball inside— setting it to the left of the first two. The situation is depicted in Figure 222.

Pick up the exposed ball and pretend to place it into the left hand. Really palm it in the right. Open the left hand and show the ball gone. Then, with the left hand, pick up the cup on your left, revealing the ball underneath. Set the cup mouth up behind the ball.

With the right hand, pick up the center cup and drop it neatly into the left-hand cup, simultaneously loading the palmed bail into the lower cup. Slide the two stacked cups farther to the left and leave them there. Now pick up the visible ball and perform the Charlie Miller cup and ball move:

Close the right hand into a list and rest it on top of the right-hand cup, thumb uppermost. Set the ball into the curl of the right forefinger and thumb, and grasp the cup with your left hand (Figure 223), Now you do two things in close succession: you open the right fingers just enough to permit the ball to sink swiftly into the fist; and you raise the left and right hands as a unit with the cup, exposing the ball beneath (Figure 224). As you lift the cup, try to nudge the ball, giving it a slight movement on the table. If done correctly, these actions create an

illusion of the ball almost visibly penetrating the cup. The small movement of the ball as it comes into view is important to the illusion.

Timing is essential to the success of this move. The pause between the dropping of the ball into the hand and the raising of the cup is approximately that of the time it would take for the ball to fall from the top of the fist to the table. (For more information on this sleight, see Lewis Ganson's description in The Dai Vernon Book of Magic, pp. 188-189.)

You now have one ball finger-palmed in the right hand and a cup in the left. Allow the cup to swivel mouth up in the left hand and pass it to the right hand. Secretly drop the palmed ball into the cup as you transfer it. Then, with the left hand, pick up the two stacked cups and nest the third cup under them. You are once more in opening position.

Third Phase

With your right hand, remove the bottom cup of the stack and set it mouth up to the right. This cup contains a ball. Grasp the next cup of the stack, again with the right hand, and invert it behind the visible ball. Unknown to the audience, this cup has another ball under it. With the left hand, set the remaining cup (salt-filled) well to the left (Figure 225).

Pick up the exposed ball and set it onto the center cup. With the right hand, invert the right-hand cup over the center cup. This adds a second ball between the nested cups.

Cups And Ball

Tap the stacked cups and, with the left hand, lift them to expose the ball underneath. Transfer the two cups, still nested, to the right hand, turning them mouth up. Then, with the left hand, invert the lower cup of the pair over the visible ball. This secretly adds the other two balls to it.

To demonstrate further how strangely permeable the cups are, pick up the salt-filled cup in your left hand. Briefly show the cup in your right hand empty. Then toss the loaded left hand's cup straight down into right hand's cup. Let the impact knock the right hand's cup from the right fingers and catch this cup in the left hand as the hand sweeps downward. The loaded cup is retained in the right hand. This ancient maneuver, when done casually and unfalteringly, creates a perfect illusion of one cup passing through the other, (Since the publication of Robert-Houdin's Les Secrets de la I^restidigitation et de la Magie in 1868 [p. 334], this incidental effect with the cups has become a standard interlude in Cups and Balls routines.) Here, Mr. Elmsley makes the flourish serve a triple purpose: while creating a surprising illusion of penetration, the actions also secretly exchange the cups while implying their emptiness.

Set the salt-filled cup mouth up to the right. Give the audience another quick glimpse of the empty interior of the left hand's cup and set it mouth up to the left.

Make a magical gesture over the center cup and lift it, disclosing the three balls.

Fourth Phase

Set the raised cup mouth up just behind the three balls. With the right hand, pick up one of the balls and perform a false transfer. With the left hand, pretend to place the ball into the mouth-up right-hand cup. Actually, retain it in the right hand and maneuver the ball into thumb palm. Then, as you reach over the center cup for another ball, secretly drop the palmed ball into the cup.

Execute another false transfer, apparently taking the second ball into the left hand. Pretend to drop the ball into the left-hand cup. As you reach with the right hand for the third ball, drop the thumb-palmed ball into the center cup. Display the third ball at the right fingertips while, with the left hand, you pick up the center cup, Set the ball onto the table and cover it with the cup, secretly adding the other two balls to it.

Gesture as if invisibly passing the balls in the end cups to the center cup. Then simultaneously pick up the end cups and drop the right hand's cup into the left's. Hold the nested pair in the right hand as, with the left hand, you lift the center cup to disclose the three balls under it. Place the nested pair of cups into the third and pause for the audience's reaction.

Fifth Phase

Adjust the right hand's grip on the three cups as follows: Move the fourth finger to the near side of the bottom cup, catching it between the fourth and third fingers. Also stretch the thumb across the mouth of the top cup in such a way as to leave a narrow channel between the thumb and the inner rim of the cup {Figure 226).

Hp the stack of cups over and let the salt cascade from them onto the newspaper. By shifting the thumb you can control the speed of the pour. This surprising production will generate applause as the pour occurs. When all the salt has been poured from the cup, arrange the three cups, mouths up, in a close row on the table (or, if you are using one, the tray), just in front of the newspaper. Then, with both hands, pick up the newspaper and, working from left to right, pour the salt back into the cups. Of course, the salt hidden in the folds of the paper joins that on top, and the combined amount fills the three cups to overflowing—a most impressive finish for the routine.

Of course, other substances can replace the salt as a final load. Even liquid or livestock loads are conceivable. A paper coil is another possibility.

Study the structure of this routine. The actions are cleverly blocked to give an impression that all three cups are used throughout the trick, though the one is secretly filled with salt. It is an exceedingly well thought out sequence that makes possible an astonishing final production without recourse to the pockets or the lap. Indeed, it should be performed while standing.

September 21, 1957

Chapter Five:

Twisted Classics

Knife Throwing Techniques of the Ninja

Knife Throwing Techniques of the Ninja

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