Required Reading

I loved this Teller story (of Penn & Teller) by Richard Abowitz. I also love magic. Maybe if you don’t love magic you won’t love this story. But read it anyway:

This is going to be a story about a ball and a string — and Teller.

After Penn walks offstage, Teller, hoop in hand, slowly coaxes the ball to life and makes it do his bidding. Over the course of the trick the ball goes from indifferent to awakening to willing playmate. Though the narrative has Teller getting the ball to jump through his hoop, the ball’s most singularly beautiful moment is when it attains a perfect balance on the edge of the hoop. Audience applause achieved, the ball turns mischievous and follows Teller across the stage as if in need of more play. Teller tries to treat the ball with affection as he sits on a bench, gently petting it. But the increasingly aggressive ball finally chases the magician off stage: A little red ball brought to life and then pursuing its creator, a Frankenstein’s monster. It is all very magical, or would be if Penn had not told you there was a thread involved.

This trick, by the way, is called “The Red Ball,” for no more complicated reason than that the ball is red. The string, obviously, you don’t see from the audience. The audience member examining the ball never notices the thread either. The hoop and bench used for the trick go unmentioned in the title. But unlike the string you can see those onstage. And, like the ball, an audience member gets to examine the hoop to see that it is unrigged. Now that I think about it, no one examines the bench.

I am not sure that matters because, after all, we’ve been told about the thread. But there is a caveat: I have to take Penn and Teller’s word that there is a string.

H/T, Gruber.

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