T

hat's all right, you can mail me your socks when you get home"

(If you work this routine a lot you'll find an occasional sock in your mailbox from women who can't think of any other way to meet you.)

From the Paul Harris issue of M.A.J, as described by Michael Ammar.

E-FfELCT - After a fun time around the close-up mat, the performer takes off the kid gloves and gets serious about a test of nerves and skill. The challenge is simple: the spectator thinks of only one card of five. One at a time, the five cards are placed onto the table. The instant her card touches the table, she is to slap her hand onto it, just like the old game. Slapjacks. The performer, using only cunning and uncanny speed, will try to anticipate her actions, and beat her to the table. A contest with only one winner possible. Tension mounts as the stakes are established, and the spectator thinks of a card. Finally, with a rush of adrenaline, the spectator leaps towards a card, beating the performer by fractions of a second. Now it's the performer's turn to be amazed, as

his predicament sinks in. But, as impossible as it seems, the spectator discovers she wasn't as quick as she thought. Lifting her hand, she discovers her selection is not there, but in fact, has been whisked away by the professional pack-whacking performer!

0?MM^NlT6 - Paul has trimmed away all unnecessary procedures and excess technique from this, his presentational masterpiece. As simple as this seems, it contains all the traits of the most successful theater piece. Not only does Paul close his excellent close-up show with this, but I know performers who close comedy club shows of 250 people with it. This presentation has never seen print before, but those people to whom Paul has given permission to perform this have told me they would gladly have paid serious money for the rights to this presentation.

In performance, you should try to convince everyone that in spite of the obvious humor you are generating with the presentation, you are deadly serious about the challenge.

PR.E_6E_NTATI0NI - "I'm going to give you a chance to win a terrific prize. Your very own close-up magician. Me. Try to look happy. It's a very simple game, called WHACK YOUR PACK. The idea of Whack Your Pack is for you to whack one card from the pack before I do. If you win, I'm yours to do with as you may. I do windows, carpets, the works. If I get the winning whack, I get your socks." (Paul always tries to select a girl who doesn't have any socks on, so that he can say, "Oh...you aren't wearing any socks? Oh well, we'll work something out...," for a big laugh.)

"Now, to play Whack Your Pack, you have to think of one of these cards, and remember it. Just THINK of one. You're the only person in this room who knows what that card is. Possibly, you're the only person in the entire WORLD who knows what it is. That's quite a responsibility. Can you handle it? What a woman. What an audience. Vegas, what a great place.

"I'm going to show you these cards one at a time, and then drop them, PLOP, onto the table. When you see the card you are thinking of land onto the table, whack it with your hand as quickly as you can. Wait until it lands, then WHACK IT.

"I'll be watching you, and just as your hand starts to quiver, I'll see it. You won't be able to help yourself. What I'll do at that instant, is sneak my hand - bunny-like quick - underneath your hand, so I can sneak that card away from you before your hand has a chance to whack it. Unless, of course, you're too quick, or I'm too easy. First, for a quick warm up." (Here you whack your hand rapidly around the table several times, much the same way that contestants on FAMILY FEUD slap the buzzer. You do this with almost "super-human speed.") "Hah. Now she's worried."

"So...get your hand ready, get my bags packed, it's time to play. WHACK YOUR PACK. Of course, you folks at home feel free to play right along with us.

"Here we go..."(Paul quietly slides the deck an inch or two further away from his opponent to give himself an edge. An alert spectator will often slide the deck back and then the game starts.) "Eight of Spades. No?" (Paul's hand fidgets back and forth over the card; he's suspicious that the spectator might go for a delayed whack.) The tension mounts. "The Four of Hearts." (Paul alternates between being very tense and very loose, ready to spring at a moments notice, almost like a martial arts thing or a gunslinger.) "Remember, you only get one whack. Okay, Jack of Hearts. Wow, nerves of steel! Ten of Hearts" WHACK! (In our example, the Ten of Hearts is the thought-of card. As soon as it is placed face down onto the table, the spectator slaps her hand onto it. INSTANTLY slap your hand onto hers, holding it there for a long simmering pause to allow the drama of your failure to sink in and to give yourself a chance to think up what appears to be a futile bluff.)

"To the untrained eye, it appears that I, Paul Harris, professional pack-whacker, have been out-whacked by a woman. What was the card you whacked? The Two of Hearts? The Ten of Hearts, that's too bad." (Paul always "misunderstands" the spectator and names a different card. It looks like a last ditch save. But the spectator always corrects him.) "Would you turn it over? Nope, that's the Ace, that's the Jack." (Turn over all of the cards from the whacked pile, then draw attention to your hand which is resting flat on the table.). "Over here, I managed to whack away one card." (Slowly spread your fingers wide to reveal a face-down card, then turn it over.) "You were so-o-o-o close. Well...you didn't get the big prize, but you still get the bonus back rub.." (Paul usually goes for it and starts giving her a neck massage IF and only IF he and the spectator have developed a real rapport. And if not...) "Well, maybe later...when we work out the sock deal."

6TE-P ¿7NlE_ - Hold the face-down deck in left-hand dealing position and spread the top five cards off into your right fingers. As you take off these five cards, spread two more off the top of the deck to obtain a left little-finger break under the top two cards of the deck. Display the face of the five-card fan to your spectator and ask her to think of any one of the cards she can see (make sure she's looking at the cards and not just making one up.) As you emphasize how important it is for her to remember her card, drop the five cards face down on top of the deck (and on top of your two-card break). Square the cards on top of the deck, retaining the break under the top seven cards. Immediately grip the seven cards at the break from above by their ends with your right fingers. (Fingers at the front, thumb at the back.)

6TE-P ~[\JO - Casually reverse the order of the seven cards by using your left thumb to slide the top card of the packet onto the deck and then the next and the next until all seven cards have been slid onto the deck. This puts two indifferent cards on top of the five possible selections. (And at no time have you drawn attention to the number of cards, so the extra two that pop up in the reverse count are never noticed.)

5TE-P TtiR-E-E. - As you relate the game-rules to the audience, turn over the top single card, show it, turn it face down, and deal it onto the table. There is no chance this could be the selected card, since it is one of the two indifferent cards. As the first card is placed on the table, prepare for your first double by pushing over the top two cards with the left thumb and getting a left little finger break beneath them. You'll be showing the first of the possible five on this double. (The easiest double is to simply grasp the two cards from above by the ends, then bow them slightly as you display.) Turn the double face down, and make an extra big point to slowly and fairly deal off the top single card. (If you aren't extra open with the deal you'll be accused of tricky dealing later on.)

6TE.P fO\M. - Continue doing doubles until finally, she whacks her thought-of card. (Paul gets his breaks for the repeat doubles under cover of all the dramatic interplay that's going on. He used to get the break by openly pushing off three cards, dealing the top card, then pulling back the top two for the break...but the three card spread pulled focus from the top card, which is where all of the attention should be.) Tension should build naturally, but be sure to encourage it. One thing Paul tries to do is determine what their card is from non-verbal cues, and then, as the card is placed onto the table, he allows himself to seem momentarily distracted, adding to the realism of his failure.

As soon as she slaps her hand onto her selection, slap your hand down onto hers with the real intent of getting to the card, but you end up on top of her hand, having missed by a hair.

6TE-P FI\/EL - Keep your hand on top of hers and build the situation. Reflect on your loss, let it show in your face. Paul freezes here and just stares at his adversary in a way that lets you know that this has never happened to him before, but he's not going to flinch and admit there's a problem. So when he breaks the silence with: "To the untrained eye...," he gets a big laugh, because it's obvious he's scrambling. It's almost as if the audience can see the wheels turning in his head.

At the appropriate time in the presentation, ask your helper to show you her card, and only now take your hand off hers. As she turns over what she knows is her selection, you have all the misdirection you'll need to palm the real selection from the top of the pack. At this point, you might think of going someplace special with this card, but don't. Since it isn't signed, its no big deal to bring it out of a wallet or a pocket, and that doesn't fit the theme. What's to prevent you from having five wallets, one with each of the five cards?

Paul has tried several ways of ending, but has finally decided the best way is to stay true to the plot, and simply place the right hand flat onto the table with the card under it as his left fingers turn all the other tabled cards face-up one at a time. Finally, bring attention back to your right palm, then slowly spread your fingers to reveal the whacked card for the big ending. "You were so close...(thundering ovation)...we'll talk about your socks later."

pjjootnotl -

Just seconds ago I was informed by master secret keeper Bill Kalush that Brother John Hamman published a similar plot that pre-dated my bit. So there you have it.

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