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The Art of Pen Spinning

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The Art of Pen Spinning

Diversions

The Art of Pen Spinning

The Art of Pen Spinning

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Kam Kuo, master pen spinner Win Rosenfeld/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Win Rosenfeld/NPR

BPP Producer Dan Pashman attempts the "thumb around." Win Rosenfeld/NPR hide caption

toggle caption Win Rosenfeld/NPR

The "Sonic Reverse." The "Double Charge Combo." The "Thumb Around." What do these terms have in common? Get your mind out of the gutter. They're pen spinning tricks. And they're just a couple of the dozens of moves that are taught and exchanged online throughout the worldwide pen spinning community.

Pen spinning is as self-explanatory as it sounds. You've probably seen people in classes and meetings doing it for years. It involves spinning and/or twirling a pen between and around one's fingers and hands. But when people like world-renowned pen spinner Kam Kuo do it, it becomes less mindless exercise and more artform. One of Kuo's online videos was viewed more than 2 million times, and he recently became the spokesman for a new line of pens designed specifically for spinning. (You can write with them, too.)

The pen spinning community has mixed feelings about these special pens. They wonder whether do-it-yourself pen "modding" — shorthand for modifying — is an integral part of the pastime. No doubt the new pens will be a hot topic at this year's Pen Spinning World Cup 2008.

For Kuo, being an ambassador for pen spinning comes with responsibilities. "I don't have my hand insured. I just try to take good care of it," he says. "I do finger exercises. I also use lotion when it's too dry, and try to keep my hands from going to dangerous activities."

Kuo got into pen spinning at age 13, when he saw a classmate doing it. That was 15 years ago. "I didn't feel like paying much attention to class," he explains. But things seems to have turned out well. "I never imagined I'd actually be getting paid to do this, or even have that much influece in the whole pen spinning community."

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