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Paul Chosse
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Here is a pretty good trick - Packs small, plays big, few bad angles, good for close-up, parlor, stage, street - clear-cut effect, lots of room for creative presentation - I'd like to propose the following:

Let's flex our muscles on this one and see if we can use it as a vehicle for exploring the creative process...

There is a book by that name ("The Creative Process") by a fellow named Brewster Gheselin. It has been in print continuously for over fifty years and is used as a textbook in many colleges. It is Brewsters' interviews with well known artists, writers, sculptors, scientists, etc. about how they go about "creating" - and that question is as important as the answer to the question - it requires that you analyze what it is that you are striving for, and how you actually go about getting there - In the process, you discover how aware or unaware you are about your goals and the processes you use to achieve them - Some people are amazed at the serendipitous approach they have taken without realizing it - they have no formalized procedure, in fact many develop material "organically", in other words one thing grows from another (sort of like mold!) with no outline, no personal philosophy - others ahdere to strict means and never deviate, no thinking "outside the box" for them!

I was thinking that if we begin some kind of excercise here, trying to define a process,we may all learn a thing or two - it will certainly help me!

And it seems to me that having a trick to work on will help us on the journey so...

The Cards Across - I think there are tons of bad methods in print for the cards across - too much counting, moves in the wrong places, tons of tells, etc. and NO DECENT PRESENTATION! However, there are a few that are really good, too.

Consider the directness of David Devants' method in "Lessons in Conjuring:

The spectator cuts the deck into three piles and selects one. He then counts the cards in the selected pile slowly and accurately by dealing them back to the table singly and from a hieght of about 12 inches above the table. After the deal the spectator puts the cards in his inside pocket and buttons his jacket. The performer gaathers the remaining cards and has a second spectator take any card, and the number of pips on the selection determine the number of cards to go across. So if a three is selected, three cards are passed from the deck in the performers hands to the packet the first spectator is holding. After pantomiming passing the cards the performer asks the spectator to remove the cards from his pocket and count them, one at a time, showing that the requisite number of cards has indeed arrived!

Note the economy of motion - the lack of repetitive counting, the appearance of the spectators doing everything, the performer never touches the cards - it seems as if the performer simply directs the action - this is really a beautiful "Cards Across"! Methodically anyway - but - where's the presentation?

Al Baker has another version in "Magical Ways and Means" that is equally admirable, but for different reasons - definitely worth looking up...

"The Cards Across/Cards Up the Sleeve" (Sometimes known as "The Thirty Card Trick" and the "Twenty Card Trick", respectively, or "The Cards from Pocket to Pocket", etc.) themes are similar - some cards magically migrate one at a time, or in little groups, from one group of cards to another. That being said, why do we restrict ourselves to a "show and tell" presentation of these effects?

At least one presentation I am aware of is predicated on a gambling theme - the idea that needed cards move from the deck or another person's hand to the gamblers hand, and the bad ones go somewhere else, like up his sleeve. This opens up all kinds of presentational possibilities, and is structured for performance at the table, close-up. There are other themes and presentations possible, but we seem not to stray from the traditional presentations - I'm thinking it's time for a change - anyone wanna help?

Best, PSC

P.S. This is cobbled together from another thread and some additional thoughts, quickly typed - I'll clarify and unify as we go along, if there is any interest...
"You can't steal a gift..." Dizzy Gillespie
Danny Hustle
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The cards across is a great premise. I’m a little disappointed that more people haven’t taken a swing at this (HINT! HINT!).

I have always liked a direct handling of the trick myself. As far as presentation goes I always thought the focus should be the method of transport. The trick doesn’t need a huge involved story but I think the performer should give a reason for the cards needing to go from point A to point B.

Mac King uses the cloak of invisibility, Tom Mullica uses a magic wand, I used to use a Flit gun. This is a great street trick as all of the magic happens in the hands or pockets and the cards do not need to be laid out onto a table. Let’s face it, the audience participation points for this trick are HUGE, two spectators, magic happening to both of them if each spectator holds a stack of cards. Not to mention most handlings are dead simple and allow you to really play the blazes out of it.

Say we wanted to come up with a new premise for this trick. What kind of method of transport do you guys think would work on the street? Let’s brainstorm this trick a bit. This could be yet another great thread. Remember the cups and balls thread just started out with just a couple of questions about a classic as well and we all went home with a bag full of booty from that deal.

Think we can do the same here?

Best,

Dan-
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dchung
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I can think of several (not necessarily good) methods of transport:
a black hole, quantum tunneling, an invisible and mischievous imp (maybe I should cut down on the sci-fi). Also depending on the season, you could blame it on the Easter bunny, a leprechaun, or any other holiday-related creature.

I do however believe that the focus can be on something other than the method of transport. I think we should also consider why these cards are being transported?

Pete Biro and Fred Kaps have a "gambling theme" as Mr. Chosse mentionned above. Pete Biro explains the presentation in Secret Sessions if anybody's interested. But what other reasons are there for cards to transport?

Here's an idea:
You have one spectator with 3 of each the royals and the other spectator with everything else, and use a presentation in a line reminiscent of Erdnase's "the Exclusive Coterie) about how royals do not like to mingle with the commoners.

Although, now I'm almost sure this presentation must have been thought of before. Maybe I'll be able to think more clearly after some sleep.

Anybody else?
D. Chung
Danny Hustle
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D.

This is exactly what I was hoping for. I had been approaching the presentation from one angle. You just showed another one. Why would it be important for the cards to jump from pile to pile?

You know this is a huge flaw in my presentation. I never thought about it. In my presentation it was just a demonstration.

“Hey, watch me move these cards from here to there using this new invention.”

I played it funny, the jokes always got laughs, and the magic was magical. But, the trick always felt like it was missing something and I dropped it when I went to the street for punchier stuff. Now I know where the hole was.

Why is it important that the cards go from here to there? I mean I do not need an earth shattering life saving reason but it should have further premise.

I’m going back to the drawing board myself and I’ll share anything I come up with.

If anybody else would like to approach this trick, issue, presentation, from a different angle I’d love to hear it.

I am going to keep posting to this thread until we can get it rolling. This is a great trick and I think once we get a few different view points on this trick it will take on a life of it’s own.

The hardest part of rehashing a classic is having the ability to look at it from a fresh angle. I think once that has been done everybody is going to take a crack at it.

Due to the new changes in the groups here we also no longer have to worry about being mid stream and someone telling us that the invisible deck or the rising card would be a better choice.

Thanks D. and PSC.

Best,

Dan-
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RiffRaff
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Quote:
On 2003-03-30 18:10, pchosse wrote:

I was thinking that if we begin some kind of excercise here, trying to define a process,we may all learn a thing or two - it will certainly help me!



I'm not sure what we can discover about the creative process, but here are a couple of things that I've learned from performing this effect:

I began with the Johnny Paul version, in which the cards travel from one spectator to another.

In terms of technique:
I found that the misdirection for the palming actions worked well when there was an audience of at least 25 people. For close up performance I found Paul Harris' Modus Operandi to be more effective.

In terms of performance:
The original Paul routine required the use of two assistants on stage. This caused some 'drag' in my performance (while spectators got up on stage, were given instructions, etc.) I decided to eliminate one of the volunteers, which increased the pace without sacrificing the essence of the effect.
From the spectator's perspective the effect as I performed it is similar to a pick-pocket act. It's invasive magic. You are able to take things from people without their awareness.

In this case the process is similar to panning for gold. You put the pan in the water & collect material. Then slowly you begin removing everything that is not gold. When you get to the bottom of the pan, put the gold in your pocket, scoop some more material and sift again.
Eventually you should have an act that's solid gold.
debaser
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Im inspired

Im going to start going through material and research methods in hopes of stimulating new presentation ideas.

Heres two off the top of my head that I think would be go well with street magic

Theme 1 - Pickpocketing and the subtelties of pickpockets (obviously ending the routine with a watch steal would be a killer way to end this routine).

Theme 2 - Planting evidence (plenty of stories to go along with this one that could involve the underworld of gamblers and thieves.

Matt
Paul Chosse
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People have often asked, "How did you get interested in magic?" Well, in fact I started out training for a far more sinister career - the family business is pickpocketing, and father insisted I enroll in the super-secret, underground, training school for traveling pocket pinchers. My lifes' work lay ahead of me and I was resigned to the prospect, attended school, and did remarkably well in class, picking the dummies' pockets without setting off alarms, (yep, they really have training devices like this in pickpocket school!), and learning how to "lawyer up" with the best of them (a pinch is inevitable in the "family" business...). Then came the fatal day, the final exam. Students are sent into a situation where they are to amass a predetermined amount of booty, otherwise they fail and, just like in "normal" school, have to repeat thier classes. My destination? A convention of out-of-towners, gathered at one of the larger hotel/convention centers in Boston. The challenge? They were all magicians! Imagine my disgust at the contents of thier pockets - little colored handkerchiefs, foriegn coins, fake appendages (Thumbs, fingers, etc.) and - what's this? Feels like a wad! Oh, no... Cards! And more cards, and more cards, and more, and more and... Well, you get the picture. To make matters worse, I was getting funny looks, and I was loaded with cards that didn't belong to me. Suddenly I was pounced upon by the Dean of American Magicians, the infamous Senor Luis Flamingo. "Hey, are you new to magic? I don't recall seeing you around... What are those cards you have there? Do you do card tricks? let's see something!"

That is just me rambling. It's the way I think about a presentation or story line for a trick. I will cut this up, add subtract, throw away stuff etc. But, the premise is amusing to me right now. I actually have to re-write the whole thing just so it's good enough to throw away at this point!

Hopefully, though, you get the idea. What if there was a school for pickpockets, and to graduate you had to pass a test, and you got stuck at a magicians convention as your final exam? And the magicians caught you stealing thier incredibly valuable stuff (cards)? What would you do?

Thanks for the inspiration, Debaser. I may continue along this line, or not, but already my thinking has changed, so the excercise is worth it, even if I throw everything out. Feel free to jump in at any point, everyone...

Best, PSC
"You can't steal a gift..." Dizzy Gillespie
Jonathan Townsend
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Hi Folks,

I recall a Steven King story where the world is recreated each moment and sometimes things get misplaced. This suggests a fairly straight forward presentation format that might begin like this;

"I sometimes seem to lose my keys and wander around the office/house for a few minutes looking for them. On a good day I remember that things get lost for a moment sometimes and what I need to do is let the moment pass. When the next moment happens I usually find the missing whatever in a place that makes sense."...

In the case of cards to pocket or cards across... perhaps the cards are just back where they started since they were just thought of and not 'really' touched or moved?
Maybe they went for a coffee break? Or whatever cards do when left to their own interests.

Allowing the world to remake itself for a moment, and with some help from 'Lewis Carrol" by way of Andy Rooney... Have you ever noticed that some cards hang out with court cards, and some seem to pair up with like cards? Do you think this might have to do with the neighborhood you bought the deck from? Or perhaps the cards are reacting to the audience?

Maybe they can't tell right from left?

Jonathan
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Lance Pierce
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Hello, all,

What a fascinating topic. The way I read Paul's original post, he was first asking how we go about pursuing the creative process and secondarily asking for specific presentations that might arise for The Cards Across plot, so I'd like to tackle it from the primary angle for a moment…

Of course, different people will do things differently, and that's a pretty good thing, I think. I can only tell you what's currently working for me now. The first thing I do when looking at a routine with little or no presentation is to start with a specific question: What do I want to say?

And by this, I don't mean, what lines should I use, but what do I want to communicate to the audience? Ideal presentations, whether in magic, singing, acting, or whatever, communicate something of the performer to the viewers. In magic, we have all kinds of messages we can give.

Years ago when I started examining the Linking Rings, for example, I played with the moves and tried to decide what sequences and handlings would work best for me, and as the rings felt more and more comfortable in my hands, I began to understand that I wanted the routine to look as artistic and beautiful as I could possibly make them. This is partly because they were starting to feel artistic and beautiful as I practiced the routine. This led to a decision that my presentation should emphasize the art of magic, and I formed the goal of performing the rings and by doing so, leaving the audience with a respect for magic they might not have had before. Once I knew what I wanted to say, then I had to find a way to say it. After looking around for inspirations, I came across Jack Miller's presentation for his five-ring routine. It was good, but he didn't emphasize what I wanted to emphasize. However, I saw that this approach COULD emphasize exactly what I wanted to emphasize -- with some changes. So, I rewrote his presentation to fit the handling of Vernon's "Sympony of the Rings" I was working on. Then came the stage where I had to change the words to fit the handling and change the handling to fit the words so that when certain words were being said, certain things were being done, and vice versa. Word and movement had to move in tandem and become one thing. Finally, to really give the audience an appreciation for magic and its rich history, I added a prologue to the routine where I tell them about Vernon, the influence he had on magic for generations, and how this routine above all others captured the essence of his artistry.

Another example of this same kind of creative process at work is a recent routine: The General Cards. When I started examining the routine, I had to come up with a handling I was comfortable with…one that was relatively clean with few displacements of cards, etc. After I did that, I asked myself, "What does this effect say to me?" Well, I immediately thought of how old this plot is, and I pictured Hofsinzer or someone similar in a Victorian platform situation. I could hear the kind of language they'd use and the manner in which they would present the effect. Out came pen and paper, and several drafts later I had a presentation that was based on the patter style we might find in Erdnase, but was still relatively current, so people wouldn't think they were looking at an anachronism (I could never actually try to BE Victorian; it would never work…but I can emulate the attitude in a modern context). Then came the process of fine tuning it so that the words matched the movements and vice-versa and so that there was an appropriate amount of humor in appropriate places, etc. Sometimes I changed the words, sometimes the method. Now they feel like they fit each other very well.

In both these cases, I started with trying to get a feel for what the routine can say, how it speaks to the viewer (and to be sure, this question will be answered differently by different performers -- the messages we give will be dictated by our character, values, outlooks, etc.). Once you get a handle on that, you now have a framework to use to build your presentation. Another way of saying it is that when you know WHAT you want to say, it becomes much easier to decide HOW to say it.

The Cards Across plot is a great one to put this kind of creative process on (wonderful idea, Paul!), because in and of itself, it's so blank. It can fit any of a thousand completely different presentational styles (indeed, many of the longest-standing effects in magic are just this way, and that may be partly why they've been around for so long).

Danny suggests that we need to address the question of why the cards are traveling. I can certainly see the reason for this, but I have to admit that the question isn't as important to me as asking "What do we want the audience to take away from this?" or "What am I telling them of myself when I perform this effect?" After all, we never try to answer why the rings link or why the cards change. When we attempt to, it usually bogs down the presentation. So, I think I'd be more focused on impressions than justifications, but that's just me.

To my mind, the Cards Across plot has more potential for humor than most. So, I might be tempted to ply it in that direction. On the other hand, it also has a great potential for mystery, so I might lean toward that instead. I think what I'd have to do (and again, this is just me) is search first for what I think is the best method…the cleanest, the most deceptive, the best staged…and then just play with it for a while. As I become used to going through the movements and steps, I will start to develop a sense of what the routine could be all about. Images will come to me, or I'll get a feeling from it. When I get a lock on that "feeling," the essence that the routine seems to hold for me, that will tell me how to present it, and then I'm digging in my drawers for the pen and paper again.

So, the steps are:

1) Find a routine that fascinates you for some reason,
2) Find out why it fascinates you,
3) Build your presentation around that fascination, and
4) Help your audience be fascinated with it, too.

How's that? Smile



Lance
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Jon - I loved the mood of that, I think it might be a little difficult to sustain that mood while having to count cards and give the spectator instructions, but maybe I'm just limiting myself.

Lance I think that Danny was originally talking about "how do the cards get across" which I agree isn't that important to me, but the why kind of is. The linking rings and card changes are extrordinarily visual effects and therefore can be done silently (and might even convey more ideas about the art of magic, most paintings don't talk to you) but the spectator does not have an instinctual connection to the cards across plot so the connection needs to be given life by the performer. Hence the need for the "why."

Maybe Im wrong and I can only hope that someone gets on here and shows me Im wrong with some beautiful idea.

Matt

More floating thoughts.

My pickpocketing routine would go along the lines of talking about what pickpockets do when they know the heat is on them. So they just plant there loot on the cop that is searching them. (execute cards across). Then go into "obviously it doesn't make much of a profitable day when your ditching all your loot on the cops but then again some cops carry nice watches (reveal the watch steal)

HERES THE BEAUTY OF THIS ROUTINE - while your talking about the spectator being the cop frisking you - you have all the motivation to touch there wrists to do the steal.

It might be better to have two spectators as cops. One to hold the cards and the other to frisk you. Two reasons for this - one is that it gets rid of ways you could get the cards across and two it gives great misderection to get the watch off while your pointing at the cop holding the cards and telling the story at the same time.

phew (i was writing that very fast)

ok someone elses turn.

I'll try to refine my idea and maybe get a new one.

this is fun

Matt
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Hi, debaser,

Indeed, no disrespect was meant to Danny at all (in fact, he's one of my preferred participants here)...and yes, my reading of his comments were a little off center. I see what you're saying.

You mention that the "spectator does not have an instinctual connection to the cards across plot so the connection needs to be given life by the performer..." and with this I agree. I wonder, though, is the connection we seek between the audience and the effect or the audience and the performer (and if I'm somehow twisting your words out of context, stop me)? If the latter, and I suspect it is, then how do we magnify that as much as possible through our presentation of Cards Across?

This is where the puzzle gets interesting... Smile

Cheers,


Lance
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Hey folks,

Any chance of the magii taking off his jacket and having the cards jump from pocket to pocket?

not sure how to play this but the image of cards in the spectators pocket jumping to the magicians pocket... folks switching jackets... just seems like fun.

Also, if getting an assistant 'can tell right from left...' might want to get a cute one and do the frisking thing (they frisk you) and then they put on your jacket... and suddenly they know right from left? or do they? Smile

Must be Friday night - Jonathan
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dchung
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Now, John you've got me thinking. Linking Matt's idea of pickpocketing and your idea of switching jackets, here's what I got.

It all starts with the line "The clothes make the man." Exchanging jackets, the spectator now becomes the pickpocket and you the victim. I imagine that this could be played with quite a bit,and if you're closing with the effect, you could end by saying "Now, give me my jacket back before you start getting all my tips too."

Cheers,
Derrick
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Nice work Jon and Derrick

Derrick - that's a great way of retaining the pickpocketing theme without getting too complicated.

At first I was thinking that they might suspect the coat, but that's almost a good thing because then when you do a second cards across on them you could have them hold the cards in hand while they are in the coat. That way it gives you a reason to do it a second time (allways a bit of reduncey when done for no reason, but now theres a reason).

Jon - I like the idea (and obviously it spawned a good elaboration). But I think spectators might get confused a bit and the effect could get lossed with the multiple switching jackets. Just my opinion.

Lance - Yes I agree with the idea that the relationship/dialogue between the performer and the audience is paramount. But that should be a constant in our performing and is really something that is hard to work out on paper. Since it seems like everyone here is also of that understanding (iow we are aware of whats important) I think that this is the place to move into the specifics. (I hope Im making some kind of sense here).

I have worked out some other routines that involve clothing and the idea of clothing.

So a my first thought on this is.

Tell a story about going to a used clothing store and you bought a jacket and on the inside it had a name written on the tag. You recognized the name from the newspaper as a person who had been jailed for numerous convictions of pickpocketing. Blah blah blah you bought the jacket and noticed that you felt different with it on ( you see where Im going)

If you wore a new jacket you could say that you removed the pockets and had them sewn into the new jacket.

The nice part about this is then you could do alot of fun byplay with the spectator once he puts the jacket on. "do you feel different?" "I notice a new greedy look in your eyes" etc....

I know this is crude but im sure some of you could refine it or think of something better.

Matt
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Random additions:

1. If you're going to perform the effect with a pick pocket theme, it may be more consistent to use bills for props as opposed to cards. I've worked out a routine with bills but have never performed it for 'real people'.

2. If you decide to use cards, a potential story presentation may be to narrate a tale about a card game, where one of the players was cheating. He had cards up his sleeve (have volunteer place 10 cards in his sleeve). In order to win the game, you managed to take the three winning cards from the unsuspecting cheat.
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As someone who had many friends who used to play "Magic the Gathering", and given the new Yugi-Oh cards and the like, there is perhaps some presentation there. I'm sure there must be something about stealing powers or something like that. And in this case, they can certainly be considered objects of value. And my friends definitely loved their cards, even more than I like mine. Then again, my pack of cards usually costs about 2 bucks, which is not even 1% of what my friends paid for theirs. Smile

Just another late-night thought,
D. Chung
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Couple of goofy thoughts... You bring out two hats put cards in hats and put hats on two dudes...

Use a laser pointer, or

A watergun

Put cards in shoes and kick socker ball from you to he...

Mike Close has gal sit on cards

shot out of a cannon

Smile
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All I can think of though this is the phrase 'The Cosmic Balance'...

"They say the universe is in a state of constant expansion, with massive celestial bodies flying away from each other at colossal speeds all the time... now before your eyes glaze over completely I want to give you a practical demonstration..."

mpl
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We-wow-ee…

Wha’ happened?

Okay, this thread looks like it is about to blast off. For fear of not getting on board on time PSC’s story has inspirited me to just riff and let rip….

I sat in the Pearl parked behind a coffee at the end of the bar. I watched the tourists stream by endlessly. They were bathed in blue and white neon, carrying go cups, and making far too much noise. My fingers were banging the bar in a blind staccato and next to nothing was running through my mind.

The bartender took the deck of steamboats that were in front of me and slid them under my hand and said, “Why don’t you knock those around for a while and give the mahogany a rest.”

I grinned, “You know, I know a trick with these.”

“Really, care to share it or are you going to keep it to yourself.”

I slipped the deck from the box and counted off a stack of 13. I set the remainder of the deck aside and closed the empty box and laid it out at arms reach.

Louis Prima was making his 50th pass of the night from the jukebox and I looked at the barkeep and said, “You know this was Louie’s favorite trick.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah, steamboats on the river, splash in the night time, Toot-toot, hey bavazova and all that stuff. Hey, I hope you’re not laughing at my voice?”

“No, no, show me the trick”

“Let’s count the cards. How many you got?”

“13”

I fanned out the cards and pulled out two “Ah yes lucky 13. Only one of these cards is Louie. He’s the King of diamonds, and this one is his baby. She’s the queen of hearts.”

I put the cards back in the fan and closed them up and gave them an overhand mix.

“You know Louie hated to be away from his baby. You hear that song on the jukebox? The pale moon shinin’ on the fields below, folks all singing songs soft and low, you don’t have to tell me boy ‘cause I know, It’s sleepy time down South.”

I spread the cards face up on the table and the King and Queen were gone.

“Look at that, Louie blew and left nothing but the ink spots.”

“Where’d he go?”

“Take a look in the card box.”

The bartender opened the box and shook out the King and Queen on the bar top.”

“How’d you do that?”

“I didn’t. Louie did. That’s just sleepy time down south.”

Best,

Dan-
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©1999-2014 Daniel Denney all rights reserved.
Lance Pierce
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And this, my friends, is why Danny is one of my favorite participants here.

Cheers,


Lance
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