Friday, April 11, 2008

favorito!, originally uploaded by ohhhrobotlove.


Sitting in a cave alcove at the Bourgeois Pig. Aaron on his computer to my right, trees and a full moon to my left. It’s cool in here and turning into a hot one outside, gonna hit 85 today and a high of 90 predicted for tomorrow.

It’s been a LONG week for Polly. She worked last Sunday and her schedule hasn’t let up yet. Hell, I think she had 50 hours by Tuesday night at wrap. I visited her on set on Sunday afternoon (Steak & Swordfish) as well as on Wednesday night at 9:30 (Philly Cheese steak) and yes she started that day at 5:40AM. I don’t know how people in the industry keep those kind of crazy hours.

While she’s at work, I do my thing. I’m in charge of household chores like laundry, keeping the kitchen clean and nude sunbathing. I feel like I’m coming out ahead on this deal.

She’s happy it’s Friday and has the weekend to relax. As for me my work week starts tonight. I need to make up for the lousy week I had and Friday, Saturday & Sunday are my days to do it, this time of year. Had a nice spike for spring break, but now were back to off season hours and numbers.

It is what it is. Ebb and flow baby. What do I have to complain about?

Silly with a P

Just finished Steve Martin’s book, “Born Standing Up”. LOVED IT! I can remember buying “Wild & Crazy Guy”, on vinyl in 1978 and thinking that it was the funniest thing I had ever heard. I was 13, but old enough to understand that, this was something new, different and silly right to it’s core.

In the book, he spells out a bit of his process. There is an underlying notion that things don’t really have to make sense, like; opening your set by saying “Hi my name is Steve Martin, and I’ll be out here in just a minute”.

Yesterday while lying naked on the day bed, enjoying the warm valley afternoon air, before work; I was inspired to add some real silliness to my evenings work.

I thought about how I spend too much of my act behind my table. I got the idea to try and make myself disappear. I had everyone close their eyes while I sneaked to the back of the audience, where I spoke to the audience. I announced that I hadn’t really disappeared, but that I was merely invisible and insisted how utterly amazing this was. My amp is situated by my table, so to hear my voice, but not see me. I thought the whole idea was funnier than they did, but was reassured when I spoke to a 5 year old girl after the show. She really thought I was invisible. My work here is done.

It’s been a TOUGH week at work, but I dealt with it. Temperatures are much warmer now and it should be a boffo weekend.

Life is good, walking in the mornings, working for an hour or so at the coffee shop, hanging with Mr. Fisher and chillaxing.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Those Strange Bullgogs - by Mike Rogers

I'm often asked about the peculiar back design on the cards I use in my professional career. They are BULLDOG SQUEEZERS, a deck sold almost exclusively in the Cajun country of Louisiana. Much of what I'm about to relate has been gleaned from various sources, including tid-bits of information from the U.S. Playing Card Company and an extensive 1976 article by Ron and Julie Stark.

The pack is a replica of a deck made in 1877 when two major card companies worked out a neat, but currently illegal, sales agreement. The deck was designed to commemorate the merger of the New York Consolidated Card Company and the A. Dougherty Company, to be known as Consolidated Dougherty. Card magicians will know this name from the Tally-Ho decks popularized by the New York magicians of the 40s, specifically Dai Vernon. With the merger came the nice agreement to split up sales territory with each staying on his own home ground. The design pictures two ferocious bulldogs straining toward each other at the chains that bind them to their dog houses. One dog's collar says "Squeezer" and the other says "Trips" for the companies' respective brands.

New York Consolidated made a brand called Squeezers with numbers in the corners like we use today. If you have ever cupped cards in your hand and sort of squeezed them into a fan to see the corner values you'll quickly understand the name Squeezers. Poker players will almost always squeeze the hand into a fan so only the smallest part of the corners come into view. A. Dougherty had his own system. He reproduced the original card in the corners and called the brand Triplicate or Trips. Triplicates could be read three ways. Twice in the two corners and once by counting the center pips. Thus the name Triplicates, or what has become known as Trips. Hence, the names on the dogs' collars. The dogs are chained to their houses to point up the agreement to remain on home turf for sales territories. Thus, "There is a tie that binds us to our homes." If you think about the names it becomes clear that all cards today are both Triplicates and Squeezers. (European cards and the aces used in some casinos don't qualify as they are often numbered in all four corners.)

The two card companies mentioned were acquired years later by the United States Playing Card Company. It's rather interesting that the Bulldog Squeezer back design has remained unchanged for more than 100 years. The quality and texture of the deck is the same as used in the popular Bicycle playing cards used throughout the country. The Joker is the same as seen in the Tally-Ho decks popular with magicians; however, missing the words "Tally-Ho." The Ace of Spades is unique to the Squeezer design, and also was used in the Angel Back Squeezer decks from Dougherty. My gut feeling is that this joker and ace design are not from the original 1877 deck, though I have no way of really knowing this. Oddly, the USPC Company is not a reliable source for information on the history of their cards. The company has gone through extensive changes over the years, and though they maintain a museum of sorts, much historical information has been lost or forgotten.

Obviously a Bulldog Squeezer deck is a blatant one-way back design, though I never use it as such. Here is a cute bit of business I have used though. When having a selected card returned the spectator will often notice the one-way feature of the top card. Seeing this he will twist his card end for end to align it with the top card of the deck. When this happens I twist the talon to apparently affect the one- way feature. He twists his card again, I twist deck again, saying nothing. After a few twists by each I fan the deck showing the backs to run in both directions. It's a funny little interlude probably understood only by the person returning the selected card.

I have used the Bulldog Squeezers in my career for close to 25 years, simply because I like relating to an interesting bit of history, and I like the picture. (No, I don't raise bulldogs, nor do I even own a dog.) Trade show attendees seeing me use these cards are often fascinated when I tell them the story. Quite often they will ask for one of the decks. If it's near the end of the day I give them the deck I've been using. It's not a problem as I carry several decks for each show. I'm not in the business of giving away decks of cards, but it's nice to be able to send a spectator away with a neat souvenir now and then.

Mind Freak

Monday, April 07, 2008


Walking with Aaron in the mornings is a great way to start the day. I like getting up and out and hiking in the Hollywood Hills each day. Today I started part 2 of my new morning routine. Going to the bourgeois pig (an Internet cafe) with Aaron with the idea of getting some work done.

It’s been so long since I got any work done, that I don’t even know how to get started. Long ago I traded in being productive, for being hedonistic. Traded in my Frankin Planner for a day bed and started some serious work on my tan. . . which. . . if I do say so myself. . . looks marvelous.

I have a lot of time on my hands and while I love doing nothing more than most, I feel like the time might be right to set some goals and make some things happen.

Now the real question, what to do. . . what to do.

I thought I wanted to make a DVD to sell on the street. Half performance footage, half teaching simple beginner tricks. When you have an idea that never gets moved on, it demonstrates a lack of passion, motivation and desire. So, I’ve officially scrapped that idea and now the task is to figure out what video project I would like to do.

I have time, talent and equipment. . . so what’s holding me up!? I used to have many dreams and delusions in the past. Things to do and people to see. Gigs to book and places to go.

What’s holding me up? Apathy, lack of direction, pot? I don’t know, but I’m interesting in finding out what will make me tick in this part of my life.

Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.