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Topic: The Sponge Balls From Hell
Message: Posted by: Patrick Redford (Aug 10, 2005 12:54PM)
The following is an excerpt from my small booklet, Diapason. Some showed an interest in this routine in another thread and asked me to post. Enjoy.

Patrick Redford

(The Sponge Balls from Hell)
copyright (c) Patrick Redford, 2004

a•nath•e•ma ( -n th -m ) n. pl.
One that is greatly reviled, loathed, or shunned

I loath sponge balls. I loath sponge balls, rabbits, frogs, cubes, sponge whatever! I loathed them when I was performing as a magician and still do to this day. They’re that special devilish little annoyance that festers under my skin until I scratch it away. No matter how great of a card or coin effect one performs, the sponge balls are that one ‘trick’ the audience wants to see over and over again. For the layman it’s a great effect, for me, it's thoughtless magical dribble.

I hate to admit it, but the sponge ball effect can be strong. Think about it. It’s commercial, easy to follow, it happens in their hands, and it looks impossible. So why wouldn’t I like it? The first reason is because every magician on earth does this bloody (pun intended) effect!
I chose not to perform the sponge balls when I made the conscious decision not to perform at children’s birthday parties. There is nothing wrong with this line of work – one can make a decent living performing the $200 birthday party gig. Personally, I feel I’m worth more than this. However, when entertaining at a family restaurant it’s good to have something for the little uber knorphs at the table to drool over.

I’ve always liked taking the things I hate in magic and turning them into something I’ll use. The sponge balls, being my arched enemy, seemed like a rightful target. My friend, Craig Chamberlain, suggested that I present the sponge balls as the one trick that I hate the most. I liked that idea. It seems humorous enough, to me. I sat on that idea for sometime.

The kind of entertainment I perform has a psychological theme to it. Sponge balls don’t really fit into my performance character. Sponge balls have no place in my act. So how did they end up here? Well, before one of my shows, I had stopped by my folk’s place to say hello; the show happened to be a few miles from their house. My father, not knowing any better, told me “Don’t forget your sponge balls – the adults and kids just love those things.” He handed me four red Goshman sponges. I quickly pocketed them, avoiding any debate on their effectiveness, and left for my show.

I was hired to perform during a private Christmas office party. I perform for this group every year. This year they happened to be meeting in the back room of a high class Italian restaurant. I had just finished a wonderful set of psychological magic and mind effects, when I reached into my pocket and found one of the sponge balls lingering in my way. I could feel it laughing at me as the fingers of my right hand began to strangle its soft exterior. I thought to myself, “Why not?”. I brought that fiendish little *** from my pocket into full view at my fingertips while secretly taking a second and concealing it in my right closed fist.

“Do you know what this is?” I asked. “A sponge ball.” Or “a clown nose” was the responses I immediately received. I paused, not knowing where I was going with this, but knowing that I was very disappointed with their answer. I continued in the most serious, deadening tone, “This is a red seed of dried blood.” The room of adults fell silent. Everyone looked at each-other, looked at me, and then at the ball. This is the first time I’ve been impressed by an audience’s response to these pungent spongy physiques.
Thinking quickly on my toes, I leaned forward slightly and went on, “Actually, they start off white. They’re created by lightly pricking the first few layers of skin with a needle and slowly drawing blood upward into the spongy like substance.”

Trust me, the audience was uncomfortable. I should have felt guilty. It was this moment that the evil sponge balls theme came into being. The rest of the routine now continues as follows:

“You're looking at me like I'm serious. Actually, it’s just a red sponge ball. You’re right.”, they all seemed to relax for a moment. I kept going. I couldn’t help myself. Something evil had come over me.
“…However, it is the most annoying and evil substance known to mankind. Okay, alright, but it is the most annoying magical substance known to me.

Oh sure, at first they seem cute, and soft, and adorable. But they strangely look like clown noses - obviously a sign of evil.

And evil spreads quickly”

Placing the sponge onto the palm of my left hand, the second ball is deposited on the palm first as the ball at the finger tips is placed on top. With a sawing motion of the right first finger, the ball seems to separate into two.

“Please hold out your hand. Would you mind taking this away from me? Just squeeze your fist tightly around it. Make sure it doesn’t leave your hand.”
Just before their hand is closed completely around the sponge, I secretly steal the ball out again as I turn their palm down, applying pressure to their fingers and place the sponge into a thumb palm. I immediately follow by picking up the second ball and placing both as one into my left hand and close it.

Raising my black, bushy eyebrows, something I do at every affective moment, I ask, “Tell me…how does it feel to hold evil in your hand?”

Whatever the answer, I simply stay silent. I glance down at their hand and slowly draw my line of vision from their hand across to mine.

“Did you let go? Would you mind checking?” They open their hand to find it empty.
I follow by opening mine to find two seeds of evil popping forth. “I had a feeling that would happen. I can't seem to get them away from me. You may laugh. But how would you feel if…. Would you mind taking this away from me again? Just squeeze your first tightly around it. In fact, place your other hand on top just to be sure it doesn’t leave your hand.”

Playing my actions to words, I false transfer a ball into my left hand, really thumb palming it into my right and placing the two balls as one into their close fist.

Again I stay silent. Letting my eyes draw a line from one hand to the other.
I open my hand to show it empty while saying, “Did you let go? I’m sorry, but would you mind checking?” The subject opens his/her hand to find two evil seeds bursting from their palm.

“Ah, now you know how it feels to have evil follow you! This isn't even the biggest problem with these things. Not only can't I keep them apart. I can't put them away.

See what I mean?”

Taking the two into the left hand to display, the right hand comes over and pockets one of the two sponges. While the right hand places the ball into thumb palm and comes back to take the other ball, the right hand reaches over and leaves the thumb palmed ball behind while taking the second ball from the left hand. The left hand closes. This is repeated over and over again until you get bored. The illusion being that you are continually putting the ball away and it keeps coming back. I sometimes do this with two balls, thumb palming two and taking two from the hand. This sequence becomes quite rapid. Children will laugh at you and the adults will give a strange look. I like to utter the next few lines as if I’ve lost track of what I am saying.

“They are evil little Uber knorphs.
Evil, I tell you.
Okay, okay, okay.
They’re like an evil duck with horns!”

Upon opening the hand a final time the sponge balls have transformed into a red colored devil duck complete with black devil horns. I generally scream as the duck bursts into an “Inviso-Torch” of flames and quickly put it away, ending the nightmare.

I think that’s all that needs to be said, don’t you?
Message: Posted by: pkg (Aug 10, 2005 01:35PM)
Cant stop laughing! stunned! amazed! gonna open my 12 years old magic box n get me sponge out!!!
Message: Posted by: Philemon Vanderbeck (Aug 10, 2005 02:15PM)
Thank you for your wonderfully creative approach to dealing with the evil sponges.

I addressed the problem for myself about two years ago when I started doing strolling magic for a local nightclub. I wanted stuff that packed small, resetted itself, and had the maximum spectator impact.

So I used Spong Bunnies and created a routine called "Lepusphobia."

It's been a staple of my strolling act ever since.
Message: Posted by: The Curator (Aug 10, 2005 04:07PM)
That's VERY funny !!! Congratulations.
Message: Posted by: ptbeast (Aug 10, 2005 04:14PM)
Thank you for posting your routine. I love it.
Not enough that I will be digging the evil sponge balls out of
the back of my dead magic cabinet **shivers** but enjoyable

Message: Posted by: jimgerrish (Aug 10, 2005 06:15PM)
Good post. It proves once again that it's all a matter of presentation. I discovered my dark side of the sponge balls while doing a wrist chopper routine. After slicing through the wrist, I brought out some white sponge balls claiming that they were cotton balls and would absorb any blood that started leaking out of the wrist after its ordeal. Of course the white sponge balls turned blood-red and I did a quick 1-10 count bit with them. The audience didn't know whether to laugh or throw up. It's nice to find out that there are others as wicked as I am.
Message: Posted by: a-spirit (Aug 11, 2005 06:41PM)
Anyone who can put a twisted spin on sponge balls has my respect.
Message: Posted by: Mina (Aug 12, 2005 10:39AM)
Patrick that was wickedly funny! Good work!

Message: Posted by: Hexagon (Aug 12, 2005 01:21PM)
Thanks for sharing that stuff matey, you inspire me.
Message: Posted by: calexa (Aug 12, 2005 04:50PM)
Wow, nice story! You did great!!!

Message: Posted by: ruaturtle (Aug 12, 2005 06:00PM)
Wonderful! Excellent presentation of the same-ol-same-ol...
Message: Posted by: sinnead zenun (Aug 12, 2005 10:22PM)
Nice story... thank you patrick for inspiring us to use the evil sponge ball....
hope to hear more from you...
Message: Posted by: hackmonkey (Aug 12, 2005 10:24PM)
That is genius, seriously! I have been trying to create a cursed chop cup routine. How did you make the duck?

Message: Posted by: Bill Ligon (Aug 12, 2005 11:30PM)
This is creativity at its best. Patrick, keep thinking!
Message: Posted by: Mystician (Aug 13, 2005 01:51PM)
I fully appreciate the challenge to make something more interesting of sponge balls, that's really quite good. I have a set that I bought only because I thought it'd be good practice for improving my dexterity, palming, etc.. but I could never imagine actually using them in front of people, except maybe kids. But everyone knows, my thing is Halloween.

I was inspired by the whole "blood" angle. I think that was the way to go !
So, while far from fleshed out, if you'll pardon the pun, this got me thinking about the possible following routine:

Starting with a set of white spongeballs, do a switch showing that they've now soaked up blood. Perhaps by putting them in your mouth, or even using a hypodermic needle. Perhaps by holding them up to your eyesockets, or following the classic "needle thru arm" effect.

Tell a story about a wildly replicating virus that's infected your blood. You continue to explain how it runs amok, replicating itself the way viruses do at a phenomenal rate, and then start making the sponge balls multiply.
Next, show how they also rapidly die (the vanish !)at the hands of white blood cells (pour some salt over your hand, or introduce another white sponge ball), and how still, others bud, or reproduce in your [i]other hand [/i](production) (rather than do a transfer or teleport type effect, which wouldn't make sense in the context of the routine).
For an ending, kill off the virus and make all the sponge balls vanish. Make sure the victim.. er, spectator, gets a disinfectant wipe just so he/she feels clean at the end !
This would be perfect at a hospital gig ! :bwink:

What'cha all think ?
Message: Posted by: weepinwil (Aug 13, 2005 09:30PM)
Sponge ball tricks is definately somthing I have to choose to do.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Redford (Aug 15, 2005 12:50AM)
I apologize for not getting back here sooner but I've been out of town on business. I'm pleased to read that this has gotten such positive feed back.

As for the ducks, I buy them from a company called Acoutraments. Run an internet search on devil duck and you'll find it.

Mystician, now that's delightful indeed!

And to the rest of you, thank you again for the kind comments.

-Patrick Redford
Message: Posted by: Midnight333 (Aug 15, 2005 01:13PM)
Dude! You owned the sponge ball *** with that one. Good stuff. By the way, when you can creep people out with sponge balls, you have mastered bizarre. In fact that needs to be a prerequisite. Good stuff.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Redford (Aug 15, 2005 06:32PM)
Thanks Midnight, you humble me.
Message: Posted by: Bill Ligon (Aug 15, 2005 08:09PM)
I never cared much for sponge balls, but these ideas are good!
Message: Posted by: spook (Aug 16, 2005 02:35PM)
Not long ago at all I was selected to be the one to hold Redford's sponges through all of this. Why me? Why anyone? Friends, reading this doesn't convey a shred of the cruel weirdness one lives through when forced to witness this. Too, in the description he glosses over the inviso-torch flames at the end...swear to gods I thought he'd dipped the duck in kerosene somehow and was about to dump it in my lap.
Message: Posted by: Patrick Redford (Aug 17, 2005 01:28PM)
The inviso-torch certainly is a wonderful illusion when the flames are wrapped around an object it really looks like that objects instantly combusts. The trick is holding the torch behind the object and pointing it towards the object and away from the body.

Spook, thanks for the kind comments, the lecture group in Columbus turned out to be great fun.

Message: Posted by: Bill Palmer (Sep 26, 2007 01:19PM)
On 2005-08-10 13:54, Patrick Redford wrote:
The following is an excerpt from my small booklet, Diapason. Some showed an interest in this routine in another thread and asked me to post. Enjoy.

, frogs, cubes, sponge whatever! I loathed them when I was performing as a magician and still do to this day. They’re that special devilish little annoyance that festers under my skin until I scratch it away. No matter how great of a card or coin effect one performs, Patrick Redford

(The Sponge Balls from Hell)
copyright (c) Patrick Redford, 2004

a•nath•e•ma ( -n th -m ) n. pl.
One that is greatly reviled, loathed, or shunned



I despise misusing dictionary quotes, especially when they are self-contradictory.

Your definition shows that anathema is a plural noun. That's what pl. means.

Then is says "[i]One[/i] that is greatly reviled, loathed or shunned."

One is not plural.
Message: Posted by: Mark Rough (Sep 26, 2007 02:24PM)

I send this to you with the utmost respect and affection.

having a difficult and contrary disposition; "a cantankerous and venomous-tongued old lady"- Dorothy Sayers [syn: cantankerous]

This is why we all love you so much.

Now, to the evil sponge balls. I looked in my cr@p box and all I have are yellow sponge balls. I'm thinking, "I'll be buggered if I'm going to go out and BUY new red sponge balls just to do this." Okay, easy, we're talking puss instead of blood. Just passing this one to those of us with yellow balls. Now, you ask, what if I've only got blue balls? My advice, you need to get out more often.

Message: Posted by: Mark Rough (Sep 26, 2007 02:26PM)
Okay, I'm so, so, so sorry. It's the cold medicine.

Message: Posted by: Bill Ligon (Sep 26, 2007 08:36PM)
I enjoyed that, Mark! Take some more medicine, or better yet, stop by for a Corey Crush and a pancake.