Word of the Day - Sunday, December 20th

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HASP (hasp)

A Hinged metal plate with a slot that fits over a staple

Common clues: Hinged fastener; Barn door fastener; Diary protector; Door fastener

Crossword puzzle frequency: once a year

Frequency in English language: 80927 / 86800

"Magic happens in the head and not on stage."

This point is illustrated beautifully by Penn & Teller in the opening of their show. The duo famous for "revealing" tricks invites the audience to actually watch the machinations behind the illusion, known simply as "honor system." The gag is set when you walk into the theater and are invited to examine two boxes that are on the stage. Then, during his opening spiel, Penn has Teller climb into one box, which is then put into the second, which is hasp-locked from the outside. As an audience, we are told we have a choice to make: We can close our eyes or keep them open. This seems rather simple, but the rub is that the magicians aren't going to put up any curtains or sight-blocking devices. If we choose to keep our eyes open, we will see exactly how the trick is pulled off. If, however, we choose to close our eyes, Penn explains, the illusion can be anything we wish it to be - from a metaphysical transmogrify to a spiritual soul journey.

It doesn't matter, because if all we see is Teller in the box and then out of it, the entire effect has happened 3 inches behind our eyes and not several feet in front.

Source: 12/1/04