Now this was clearly a paradigm-popping no-no. This is not how the world operates. And just before I dropped the ball. I remember thinking, "boy, if this baby works, life will never be the same." So I drop the ball into the leatherette tube. I hear this little "ka-chink"...then see the ball plop into the bottle. And just for a moment, my mind's eye saw a flash of the secret twinkie cave. A micro-glimpse of bliss. A moment of astonishment.
Every now and then I'll do a pumped up presentation of this 75 cent wonder to help me remember.
YOU'LL tiQLV - A pen, a washer, a dollar bill and a bottle.
The bottle should have an opening that won't quite allow the washer to pass through. A nickel-size washer should fit a variety of bottles. The pen should have some heft to it and be too large to fit through the hole in the washer. (You can use a steel ball-bearing instead, but I like to use a pen because I already have one.)
.5TE.P ¿?NlEL - Hand everything out for examination. Point out that the pen will not fit through the hole in the washer. When you get the washer back, wet your little finger, rub it around the edge of the hole then blow through the hole. This has nothing to do with the mechanics of the effect, but it positions your audience's mind in a safe place.
I was about seven, living in the San Fernando Valley when I purchased an effect from Burling Hull's previously owned magic list. It was a U.F. Grant item which retailed for $1.50 and sold used for 75 cents. I was expecting a lot for my investment. I was expecting a self-contained piece of strange that would punch a hole through the stucco walls of my cultural consensus bedroom and open up to a secret cave filled with twinkies and hot dogs. For 75 cents I was expecting deep astonishment. On this rare occassion, I actually got what I paid for.
The sacred device consisted of a metal washer, a ball-bearing and a two-inch tall leatherette tube of mystery. Following the secret mimeographed instructions, I set the washer over the mouth of an empty rootbeer bottle (the rootbeer part was my idea) and noted that the steel ball bearing would not fit through the hole in the washer. Not even if you pushed real hard. Then I carefully slid the leatherette tube of mystery over the neck of the bottle to hide the washer. I picked up the ball-bearing, shined it up on my Del Monte's Cling Peaches T-shirt, then held the glowing metallic sphere above the tube. I peeked inside. The washer with the too-small hole was still in place...blocking the bottle's opening. The secret instructions promised that when I dropped the ball it would penetrate through the metal washer and fall into the bottle.
5TLP T\V<? - Blow into the bottle then quickly cover the opening with your thumb "to keep the air inside," then carefully slide the washer flat down over the opening of the bottle as you slide off your thumb as in FIG. 1. (Just another messing-with-the-audience moment.) Hold the edges of the washer so the washer stays flat on top as your other hand bangs the pen HARD against the washer's hole...displaying that the washer is an impenetrable steel barrier to the pen.
6TELP TJ-IR.LL - Now wrap the bill around the neck of the washer-covered bottle so it hides the washer. Note how your left fingers pinch the ends of the bill close to the neck as in FIG. 2.
pen and hold it just above the dollar tube, pointing straight down at the washer (FIG. 2). Let your audience peek inside the bill tube to see the steel barrier is still in place (If you want you can even let someone else hold the ends of the dollar tube.) Now don't let anyone peek into the tube...and let the pen drop straight down.
The pen should now be inside the bottle, the washer still sealing off the top. If nothing happened, reset by holding the pen a bit higher, and try again. Immediately let someone peek into the dollar tube to witness that the bottle's opening is still blocked by the solid steel washer.
What actually happens is that the washer flips over like a revolving door, allowing the pen to drop through into the bottle. If the washer didn't revolve you either need a heavier pen, a smaller washer, or a bottle neck with a larger opening.
For this optional Phase II you use a bottle cap to cover the washer (or a borrowed nickel). You poke the pen under the cap to tap the washer...and instead of the pen going into the bottle the too-big washer is bottle-stuffed instead! You shake the washer back out onto the table. Everything is examined, the washer still won't fit into the bottle.
6E.CR.E_T PR.OP - You need a washer that's a tiny bit smaller than the other one...small enough to fit into the bottle.
\\/4jE_Nl NlO U?0\Utk; - Hide the smaller washer underneath the cap to your left on the table. Everything else is openly displayed.
5TE.P £?NE_ - Put the big washer back on top of the bottle as your left finger slides the bottle cap back off the table edge so your thumb keeps the hidden washer pressed into the cap (FIG. 3).
5TE.P J\JO- Place the cap and hidden washer right on top of the visible washer. Pick up the pen in your right hand. Use your left hand to tip the cap up slightly, just enough to insert the pen tip as in FIG. 4 (the two washers would still be hidden from the audience's view). Use the pen to tap on the back edge of the big washer so it flips up (FIG. 5) allowing the small washer to clink into the bottle. Press the big washer against the pen with your right thumb and lift both away, keeping the washer concealed (FIG. 6). You have heavy misdirection here because all attention is on the bottle-stuffed washer.
6TE.P TJ-lELE-EL - Grasp the neck of the bottle with your left fingers so your thumb is away from you. Shake the bottle, then turn it mouth down keeping both of your hands close together. Your left hand (and bottle) should be slightly above your right. As the small washer comes out, catch it in your curled left fingers as the large washer drops to the table from your right hand (FIG. 7). This is a very effective Han-Ping-Chien illusion. Table the bottle, transfer the pen to your left hand and pocket it along with the hidden washer. If your audience begs for more, toss out some twinkies and hot dogs.
- To bottle-stuff a borrowed nickel load a penny under the cap and use a dark bottle so when the penny clinks around inside it can pass as the nickel.
A person's name is one of the better cheaper sacred objects you can use to unleash the moment of astonishment. This moment takes a person's name and fluffs it up ten times its normal size...which creates an interesting clash of principles. A fluffed-up name is a powerful moment of ego. While the moment of astonishment momentarily unfluffs the ego. I know, you thought this was supposed to be fun.
You spread the face-down deck. It's noteworthy that all of the backs are seen to be normal, without any unusual markings or defects. You sign the fluffee's sacred name across the back of one of the remarkably normal cards. You square the deck...the name vanishes off the card. A minor defeat for the ego. You re-spread the deck, and across the entire length of the spread in huge letters is the fluffed-up sacred name. Her ego whispers just loud enough for everyone to hear, "yes indeedy."
FLUFFING TLlE- P- Secretly find out one of your spectator's names (or use your own name, which can easily be discovered by just asking around), and run off by yourself for a moment. Bring an old deck and a fat magic
marker. (A fat marker tip makes for easier writing.) Ribbon spread the cards out really WIDE...then place a phone book on one side of the ribbon spread. This keeps the cards in position as you write on them. Carefully write the name of the person you're going to do this for as big as you can across the spread as in FIG. 1. This is kind of a pain because the cards tend to slide around. It helps if someone else holds the spread cards down for you. You should leave about five cards on each end of the spread unmarked. Gather up the deck, turn it end-for-end, and re-spread. The big name should be gone...so the backs now appear normal. Put the deck into its case. Grab your marker and you're all set to fluff.
6TE-P ¿?IsIE_ - Ask if anyone remembers your name (or ask the pre-set person what her name is) and bring out the marker and the deck. Uncase the deck and hold it face down in left-hand dealing position. While the spectator uncaps the marker, obtain a left little-finger break beneath the top two cards of the deck.
6TE-P T- Turn the double face up onto the deck and write the name (similar in style to the deck writing but much smaller) on the face of the double card. Hand the marker to your spectator to be capped. While attention's on the marker, blow on the ink a little and get another break under the top two cards.
6TE-P Ti-lE-E-E. - Turn the double face down onto the deck, then push off the top single face-down card into your right fingers. Spread the deck to show normal backs and slide the face-down "signed" card across the back of the spread...snap the card face up to reveal the signed card is gone. Turn this card face down and use it to scoop up the spread.
6TE.P r^UE. - Turn the deck end for end and give it a riffle. Just do it casually as you table the deck face down to your left.
6TE.P flVE. ~ Have your spectator say the magic name, then slowly make a spread across the table with the pack...and reveal the giant fluffed-up name (FIG. 2).
• You could have a duplicate of the signed card so you can vanish the name off the face of the card.
• Don't make this last spread too wide, or you risk breaking up the name. Make an extra wide spread when drawing on the deck, then a "normal" spread when going for the big finish so you'll have plenty of breathing space.
• It looks like the ink covers the entire back of each card, but there's really only about a quarter-inch of ink on any one card. So when you make the first non-name spread you can casually paw through the spread to randomly expose even more of the unmarked backs.
• Sometimes as an encore I'll square the name-spread then give the deck a few false shuffles. Re-spread the deck and the name is gone...square again...say the magic name, and the big boy comes back.
• If you work tables or just don't like marking up a deck every time, you'll want to fluff your own name. A little self-promotion never hurts.
• If you turn the deck around end-for-end and then spread, the name will be upside down from your viewpoint but right-side up for someone else. So be aware of your audience's view before you spread.
• If you believe that anything worth doing is worth overdoing...you can draw a second secret word or image on the face of the deck.
• Mike Maxwell likes this for trade shows: He vanishes the competition's name and upon spreading the deck reveals the client's jumbo name.
Just as the printing press is being fired up, our illustrious illustrator Tony Dunn casually mentioned that this exact same idea had sprung up about four seconds after the first deck was created. He's not sure if it had ever been published because everyone who owned a deck already knew about it and to publish it would have been redundant. The nerve of this guy...next thing you know he's going to go around saying that some else invented the left little-finger break.
You're at McDonald's staring at your thick creamy chocolate McShake. It's trying to tell you something. Or maybe the fries are a ventriloquist, you're not sure. You turn your gaze to your thin, non-creamy finger...a finger and a shake...a shake and a finger. What do they have in common. Should they even be at the same table together. You can shake a finger but can you finger a shake. Enough talk. You plunge your finger into the frothy depths of the shake. Your finger feels cold. Just as you expected. But then you slowly raise your frozen finger off of the table...and the shake clings to your finger! The entire shake hangs in mid-McAir suspended from your one cold creamy finger. How can this be? Does the shake have lips? Does your finger have feet? Enough talk. You crush the shake-filled cup flat, without a splat, because the entire chocolate shake has vanished!
You stare at the fries. One of them asks for the bathroom key. You decide it's a good time to leave.
6C.C12.E.T - Yes, McDonald's has expanded their kingdom of meat into the magic market. Their newest product is a molded plastic device that comes free with every purchase of a medium shake. It's designed to look exactly like a normal snap-on lid.
PI2.E.-6PLATT ~ Order your lunch and get to the table with your friend. Start to eat and then decide that you want something else. Get up and go to the counter. Ask for a large cup and a medium lid (you'll find a way). Put the lid upside down into the mouth of the cup. It should rest down an inch and a half or so. wedge it in pretty tightly (FIG. 1). Then ask the server to fill the space with any flavor shake. Or order an actual shake along with an extra cup and lid. Then bring "two" shakes back to the table.
- Lid-to-cup ratios will vary at different burger palaces. Some lids will have to be pushed deeper into the cup before they wedge. But this is stuff you can figure out yourself.
5TEP OVlEL - Set the shake down and eat for awhile. Sip out of it a couple of times. After a few minutes comment on how thick the shake is.
-5TEP T\V<? - Stick your index finger right down into the shake and through the straw hole in the lid (FIG. 2). Let it sit a moment for effect and then slowly lift it up off the table. You should raise it above eye level. This is quite an event so go slow. If you don't want to do the vanish which follows (it's a little messy) you can end right here and just hang out with a milkshake stuck to your finger.
5TE.P TJ-IE.E-E. - Pick up a couple of napkins with your left hand and transfer them to your right. Your right hand must grip them in the thumb crotch because your index finger is busy (FIG. 3).
6TELP F^UE. - Take hold of the cup with your left hand and give a slight squeeze to make sure the hidden lid is loose. Pull the cup down and away from your right hand, using the napkins to hide the lid which is clinging to your index finger. But don't lower the cup to the point where its interior is visible.
5TELP FIN/EL - Keep the cup above eye level. Under cover of the napkin secretly pull the lid off your finger as you sort of wipe your hand with the napkin. Throw the napkins and the lid away. It's handy to have a bag on the table or be near a waste bin. Wave your slightly sticky hand over the shake, then suddenly crush the cup. Drop it to the table.
T0 QLT R.E.APY - Order two shakes. A medium vanilla and a large chocolate. Cram the medium lid upside down into the large vanilla (just like in the vanishing version) and fill the lid with chocolate. You apparently have two chocolate shakes. Put them both in a bag.
6TELP ¿?NE_ - Announce that no one can really tell chocolate from vanilla without looking. You will be ridiculed. Good. You want that. You've worked hard for this abuse. Enjoy it.
6TE-P TW10 - Have your friend close her eyes and hand her the rigged shake from out of the bag. Let her taste it and guess the flavor. She opens her eyes and is amazed.
¿TE-P TJ-IR.ELE- - Take your shake away from her right away and begin drinking from it...and give her the real chocolate shake.
- For a more profound taste contrast you could fill the inside of the cups with water or coke or soup or any liquid that you wouldn't want to drink on purpose.
• This started with the idea of making a cup of coffee vanish. I was trying to create a black shiny disk that would look like the "top" of a cup of coffee. It didn't look so hot, so I tried pouring real coffee onto the fake. A little better...but then realized I would need a form-fitting plastic gimmick, or maybe mold something out of epoxy resin. Having zero craft skills I became despondent and went to McDonald's to re-evaluate my life's work. I glanced at a shake lid. Gee...too bad it won't fit my coffee cup...and then the shortest of creative leaps...
The suspended shake bit came during a session with Eric and our good buddy Glenn Taylor. We were trying to come up with a neat way to steal the lid. We'd hit the stupid wall...so for no good reason I stuck my finger into the shake-filled gimmick. The suspension effect created itself when I tried pulling out my finger...which then became the perfect position to steal the lid.
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