Magic Beans - Paul Brooks

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Copyright © Paul Brook June 2017

No portion of this book or illustrations may be reproduced in any manner without written permission of the copyright owner.

Inner Truth Productions Limited St David’s Court | Union Street | Wolverhampton | West Midlands | WV1 3JE

Introduction: Paul Brook

Page 4

The Effect

Page 7


Page 11

Additional Effects

Page 15


Page 29

Final Thoughts

Page 32

Citations and References

Page 33

By Paul Brook

I really enjoy creating pocket mentalism that people will be able to use in the real world. What I enjoy even more, is creating mentalism that hides in plain sight, using a prop that is designed to look exactly like a regular object and never suspected as being anything other than what it purports to be. Last year I released an effect called ‘Loyalty’ that had this very ethos at its core; hiding a number of mentalism effects within three shopping loyalty key cards. Not long after releasing ‘Loyalty’ I was clearing out my car and opened up my glove compartment. To my annoyance out fell all the coffee shop stamp cards that I collect wherever I go. As someone who travels a lot and enjoys coffee, I collect these and keep the not-so-local ones in my car. I just never know when I may be near those coffee shops again. The more local ones I simply keep in my wallet and use in my favourite and more frequented coffee shops. I had a creative moment when I looked at the large stack of cards (what can I say, I really enjoy coffee) and questioned whether these may be used in place of playing cards for a mentalism routine. This set me on a course of experimentation, using the coffee shop cards to perform regular card magic routines. The feedback was a resounding, “WOAH…That’s a lot of coffee shop cards”. Way too many to be utilised as ‘invisible’ and normal items, as the participants had not witnessed this amount of coffee shop stamp cards before. My next step was to whittle down the number of cards I used. I went out and got a duplicate set of coffee shop stamp cards that were blank on the reverse and played around with some sympathetic E.S.P. style effects. Page| 4

Again, the amount of cards seemed to be too numerous and the duplicates seemed a bit odd, from what people told me. Then I started to play around with six different coffee shop stamp cards in a ‘which card have you selected’ style routine. This seemed to work very well and got great reactions for a quick piece of mentalism fun. However, the methods I played with had a number of different problems. For some of the effects I tried pumping for information (remember these cards were not gimmicked) and sometimes the result ended with a great deal of pumping and a less impressed participant. I also tried marking the cards in subtle ways. The problem soon became one of seeing these subtle marks and becoming overly controlling with my participant management in order to see them. I then tried stacking the coffee shop stamp cards and having the participant go through various types of processes. The more I told the participant what to do, the less free it seemed which for a quick mentalism effect felt wrong. It soon became apparent that the participants reacted better when they could select any card they wanted. That is when I knew that I would have to create a coffee shop stamp card set of my own in order to give me the edge, while still allowing the participant a genuinely free selection. Since I was going to create my own cards, I decided to throw in more options for the participant to focus on and more than one way for the performer to be able to tell the participant which card they are thinking of. Using multiple methodologies allows the effect (which is quick) to be performed more than once to the same group or person, and allows the participant to be free in what they focus on; adding to the freedom and fairness of their card selection. What then followed was several weeks of contemplating how to get even more mentalism packed into these ‘Cool Beans’ cards.

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What you have in your hands are six cards (five coffee stamp cards and a hidden crib card) which will fit into your wallet and allow you to perform a whole host of mentalism effects. Since I wanted these to look as authentic as possible, they have each been printed on different card stock, have been designed to look like genuine coffee shop stamp cards and have been painstakingly hand stamped instead of printed. I think taking the time to create authentic looking materials is paramount to making invisible props that perfectly emulate reality. Now, go and grab a coffee and let’s get into the effect overview and explanations.

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The performer removes a small collection of coffee shop stamp cards from his wallet.


“As you can see I like coffee, maybe a bit too much, but it gives me an inspirational mind set, which is where I discovered I could do something a bit strange. Take these cards, I will turn away and I want you to choose any one of them.”

After handing the coffee shop stamp cards to the participant, the performer turns away.


“When you have selected one of the cards, put the others away and focus on the card.”


“Okay, I’ve got one.”


“Perfect. Which do you prefer images or words?”




“I had a feeling that would be the case.

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Look at the logo of the coffee company, including the name of the company, and just try and send that image to me. As much as I wish this was like telepathy in television shows, where you send the image and I pick it up, it isn’t like that. In fact, it is more like trying to tune in a television station; full of static with the occasional blurry flash of an image. Try and send me the information and I will see if I can pick it up, because this will be cool if we can make this work together.”

The performer now seems to be concentrating and attempts to speak a few times before stopping himself, almost in annoyance.


“I thought I had something then, keep trying. Wait. Did I see the letter ‘R’? Is there a letter ‘R’ in the information you are sending me?”


“Yes there is.”

The performer seems visibly pleased.


“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves here, keep focusing on the information and keep sending it.”



Looking excited again, the performer says: Page| 8


“I think I saw the letter ‘O’ too? Is that part of what you are sending to me?”




“Wait, wait, wait! Sorry, you said you were better with images, I forgot. Can you just focus on the company logo, see the image, no words.”


“Sure thing.”

A few seconds pass and the performer’s body language becomes extremely excited.


“No it wasn’t an ‘O’, I see what this is, it is some kind of face, but as a coffee bean. Are you thinking of a screaming bean?”


“Woah, yeah I am, that’s crazy.”

The performer now turns round and the participant can see how excited the performer actually is.

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“We did it, that’s crazy, well done. You were so right when you said you see images better, as soon as you focused on just the image it was as clear as a crystal to me.”

The performer can now repeat the effect with a different card selection and a different method, or can try one of the other ‘Cool Beans’ effects.

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There are a lot of different things going on with ‘Cool Beans’ but I will go through them one at a time to make things clear for you. The main effect that you saw above is achieved using a progressive anagram1. If you are unfamiliar with a progressive anagram it is a process that allows you to tell someone which word they are thinking of from a list, based on their ‘yes’ or ‘no’ responses. I find that the best versions of any progressive anagrams are those that inform you of the selection after just one ‘no’ response. Getting all of the correct letters and then one single ‘no’ response can be hidden effectively in presentational verbiage. Having multiple ‘no’ responses can make it look like you are simply guessing letters. In ‘Cool Beans’ the progressive anagram only requires a single ‘no’ response before you know which coffee shop the participant is thinking of; I created this one using Pangram2. Take a look at the card that is not a coffee shop stamp card. This is a secret James Bond style crib sheet, that on the front looks like a discount card for a book store (See: image 1), but on the back contains all of the information you need to perform ‘Cool Beans’ including the progressive anagram information. (See: image 2) As with all progressive anagrams, if you just ask for letters without giving some form of presentation the method can seem obvious. This is the reasoning behind the presentational framework you read in the ‘The Effect’ chapter (page 8) about receiving images in a fragmented unclear way; this will be your reason for getting one of the letters incorrect. However, as just mentioned, you only require a single negative response to know exactly which coffee shop stamp card the person is thinking of. I also hope you noticed the co-operative way that the effect is introduced as something fun to try, working towards a positive goal together.

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Image 1: Front side of the hidden crib card

When the participant is eager to make the telepathy work as part of a joint goal, the single miss that you must get will often be dismissed and overlooked. Taking a look at image 2, you can see the word ‘ROSE’ on the far left hand side. This word is simple to remember and, after a number of performances, remembering which ‘no’ response correlates to which coffee shop should also be easy. A ‘no’ response to the letter ‘R’ informs you that the participant is thinking of the Spiced Chai Café. A ‘no’ response to the letter ‘O’ informs you that the participant is thinking of the Screamin’ Beans coffee shop. A ‘no’ response to the letter ‘S’ informs you that the participant is thinking of the Aroma Mocha coffee shop. A ‘no’ response to the letter ‘E’ informs you that the participant is thinking of the Boston Barista coffee shop. P a g e | 12

Image 2: Reverse side of the crib card

If you do not get any ‘no’ responses to any of the letters, then the participant is thinking of the Espresso Express coffee shop. When the person is thinking of this coffee shop, then you can continue with the letter revelation or go to the drawing element as you see fit. Of course, the crib card contains more information but we will get on to those elements shortly. At the beginning of the effect, when you introduce all of the coffee shop stamp cards, bring out the book store crib as part of the pile. As you hand them to the participant simply pretend to notice the out of place book store card and remove it from the collection. This can now be held in your hand casually and when you turn away you can look down and all of the crib information is there for you to see (See: image 3). Even if people can see this, they will only be aware of the front side of the card (See: image 4) which seems to be for a book store; and why would a book store card help you in any way?

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Image 3: Crib card as seen from your perspective Well, that is the first effect possible with ‘Cool Beans’. This same effect can be achieved without using a progressive anagram. This allows for extra options if you are performing this just once for a single person, or allows you to mix up the methods to throw-off any wannabe magicians watching you.

Image 4: Crib card as seen from anyone looking at you

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In total there are three ways to identify which coffee shop the person is thinking of when performing with ‘Cool Beans’. But there is also a synchronicity effect that you can perform, a prediction effect, two ‘outs’ for psychological forces, perform number forces for other effects and even a colour reading.

As part of the effect transcript you will have noticed that I offer the participant a choice of images or words to focus on. If the participant said they preferred words to images, they can look at any long word (a word with seven or more letters) from any of the coffee shop cards that are not part of the logo. From there you can ask the participant to focus on any vowel in their word and mentally send it to you. In reality, you simply guess at the vowel. If you get it correct, you will know which coffee shop the person is thinking of. It is more likely that you will guess incorrectly. Now you will appear frustrated and ask the participant to tell you which vowel it was. As soon as you know the vowel you will know the coffee shop the person is thinking of. Once you know the correct vowel you ask the participant to focus on the image and see if an image will be easier for you to ‘receive’. How is it that knowing the vowel of a word can inform you of the coffee shop that the participant is thinking of?

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Well, this is a combination of the ‘Long Word Force3’ and my ‘Vowel Movement4’ methodology. On each card there is only one single word (not including the logo text) that has seven or more letters in it and these words only contain one vowel in them. One card contains a long word where the vowel is the letter ‘A’, another has a long word containing the vowel ‘E’, etc. This is different for each of the cards and the five cards represent the five vowels in the alphabet. (See images five, six, seven, eight and nine that highlight these long single vowel words on the front of each card) Therefore, it is as simple as working out what the vowel is in order to determine the coffee shop card. If you are not comfortable with apparently failing any aspect of the mind reading (which is necessary with the progressive anagram) then this is the option for you, providing you have two or more people present.

Image 5: Close-up of the word ‘Dynasty’ on ‘Spiced Chai Café’

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Image 6: Close-up of the word ‘Strength’ on ‘Screamin’ Beans’

Image 7: Close-up of the word ‘Stylishly’ on ‘Aroma Mocha’ P a g e | 17

Image 8: Close-up of the word ‘Monthly’ on ‘Boston Barista’

Image 9: Close-up of the word ‘Crumbly’ on ‘Espresso Express’ P a g e | 18

You explain that you can demonstrate just how difficult what you are attempting to do is and that it’s not just a case of guesswork. To demonstrate this you ask the participant to focus on the vowel and send it to another person present. This second person then guesses at the vowel and will either be correct or incorrect. If the person correctly guesses the vowel, you will know instantly what coffee shop card is being thought of and can reveal this in any way you see fit. Most likely, the second person will not guess the correct vowel, in which case you ask the participant to name just the vowel they were thinking of in order to see how close the second person was in their guess; at which point you will find out the correct vowel and know the coffee shop card. All of this vowel information is represented in the crib (See: image 2) and the order of the vowels matches the order of progression in the progressive anagram. So the first ‘no’ in the progressive anagram is the ’Spiced Chai Café’ it is also the first vowel in the alphabet, the letter ‘A’. The second progressive anagram item is ’Screamin’ Beans’ and is the second vowel in the alphabet, the letter ‘E’ and so on and so forth.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could know the correct coffee shop stamp card without any questioning whatsoever? This is completely possible and will work for the vast majority of the time, but depends on what your participant does when they make their selection; after the participant has chosen their card and you have asked them to put the other cards away out of sight. When you get a sense that this has been done, you will look around briefly and ask if the unselected cards have been put out of sight. In doing so you will get a

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glimpse of the back of the card that the participant is holding for a split second; it should still be enough to identify which card the participant has chosen. Upon looking at the reverse side of the selected card you will see either a brown card back (See: image 10), a white back with rounded corners (See: image 11), a white card in landscape orientation (See: image 12), or a white card in portrait orientation (See: image 13),

Image 10: Reverse side of ‘Spiced Chai Café’

Those eagle-eyed of you will notice that two of the cards have a matching back ‘Aroma Mocha’ and ‘Espresso Express’. If you mark one of these cards on the back with a coffee cup ring stain (See: image 14) you will be able to tell them apart from each other. If you are not too keen on making the mark so obvious then you can dog-ear one of the corners (See image: 15 and 16), so that you will still be able to tell the cards apart without such a visually obvious mark.

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Image 11: Reverse side of ‘Screamin’ Beans’

Image 12: Reverse side of ‘Boston Barista’ P a g e | 21

Image 13: Reverse side of ‘Aroma Mocha’ and ‘Espresso Express’

Image 14: Reverse side of ‘Aroma Mocha’ with coffee cup stain marking P a g e | 22

Image 15: ‘Aroma Mocha’ with dog-ear corner

Image 16: Reverse side of ‘Aroma Mocha’ with dog-ear corner marking P a g e | 23

I really like that these coffee shop cards have different styles and shapes. It would seem unrealistic if all of the cards were the same, despite coming from different coffee companies. While I enjoy this way of telling the cards apart during the effect, it really is dependent on the person being a bit more open and free when holding the selected card. This is another reason why the presentation for this effect is framed in a cooperative, friendly manner rather than that of challenge mind reading. The participant shouldn’t feel the need to hide the card away behind their hand; however, the participant may naturally have an instinct to do this. If you look around and see that the card is hidden, simply proceed using the progressive anagram or the single vowel long words.

It’s time to let you in on the next hidden aspect of ‘Cool Beans’, the secret of the stamps. Taking a look at all of the cards you will notice that the number of stamps varies from four stamps on a card up to thirteen stamps on a card. It is visually obvious that the amount of stamps on each coffee shop card is different. What isn’t as obvious is that the number of stamp spaces on each card, minus the number of stamps on that card will always equal seven. Let’s look at the ‘Spiced Chai Café’ as an example: there are twelve stamp spaces available, it even says the number of drinks required for a free drink in the text above the stamps (See: image 17). There are twelve spaces for stamps and five stamps actually on the card. If you subtract five from twelve you get seven.

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Image 17: Close-Up of ‘Spiced Chai Café’ stamps and spaces

This process can be done with any of the cards and the answer will always be seven. This allows you to force any multiple of seven on someone for use in another effect. If you want to force the number twenty one (three multiplied by seven) you ask the participant to select any three cards. Then add up all of the possible spaces on the three cards and subtract all of the stamps from this total. Of course, you can turn around and hold the cards in a fan behind your back and ask the participant to take any number of cards they want. You should be able to feel how many are taken and then you will know what number the person will think of after going through this process. However, I think a stronger piece of mind reading is achieved using the processes already mentioned. You could create five ‘multiple outs’ to cover all of the numbers and turn this into a prediction style effect which, done correctly, could be very nice.

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I think the nicest way to use this aspect would be to select a word from a book, as reading in coffee shops makes sense and it would be very simple to create a theatrical presentation linking the use of a book and coffee; especially with the crib card apparently being from a book shop. Grab a book and look at the possible force words on pages seven, fourteen, twenty-one, twenty-eight or thirty-five. You’re looking for a page that could have an obviously chosen word. For example, you may look for a page as described in ‘Short Listed’ from my book test ‘The Brook Test5’. When you find a force page with an appropriate word you are ready to go. If the page is twenty-one, ask the person to select any three coffee shop cards of their choosing and take the participant through the required process. If you wish to force larger numbers, you can ask one participant to select any card and another to select say two cards and then multiple their force totals together to get a larger end total.

I know that a lot of people enjoy using psychological forces so two of the popular outcomes for the ‘number thirty-seven force’ are covered in ‘Cool Beans’. If you are not familiar with the ‘number thirty-seven force’ here it is:

“Think of a two digit number, between one and fifty, make both digits odd and not the same number, so 19 would work but 55 wouldn’t.”

A good proportion of people will think of the number 37, this happens for a variety of reasons. As you have asked for a two digit number between one and fifty the numbers one to nine are ruled out.

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Both digits must be odd, leaving you with the following ten options:

11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 31, 33, 35, 37 and 39

The digits must also not be the same number, which removes eleven and thirty three. Also, notice that number nineteen is mentioned as an example, greatly reducing the odds of it being chosen. Furthermore, fifty-five is mentioned which (while it cannot be selected) moves the participant’s thinking to the higher end of the remaining number selection. This leaves the following numbers for selection:

13, 15, 17, 31, 35, 37 and 39

What started off seemingly as a free choice from fifty numbers is in reality only a choice of seven numbers. When this is presented in the way explained above, the vast majority of the time people will think of the number thirty-seven, with thirty-five being a close second. If you would like to reveal the number thirty-five, then as per the previous segment, add up all of the five coffee shop stamp spaces and subtract the amount of stamps from all five of the cards. When you need to reveal the most commonly selected number of thirty-seven, simply ask the participant to add up all of the stamps. That’s all. Just add up all of the stamps on all five cards. This gives you the option to reveal two of the most selected outcomes for the one of the most frequently used psychological forces within mentalism.

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If you find yourself with two people you can perform a synchronicity routine with them. After introducing and displaying the coffee shop stamp cards and explaining that some of the cards have more stamps than others, you will ask each participant to take two cards. Both participants are asked to add up the amount of possible spaces on each card and then subtract the amount of stamps on both cards from the amount of possible spaces. The participants are asked to do this silently without letting each other know the outcome. The performer can now ask each participant to think of their number and apparently read their mind, noticing they had arrived at the same number. Alternatively you can ask the participants to name their numbers aloud and relish the moment of synchronicity. If you would like yet another option for synchronicity, you can force one of these four numbers 7, 14, 21 or 28 (not using a method from ‘Cool Beans’) on to one participant and then ask the second participant to select the number of coffee shop stamp cards which will result in the numbers matching. For example, using four marked billets numbered 7, 14, 21 and 28 ask the first participant to select one. Let’s assume they select the billet with number 21 written on it. You now turn to the second participant and ask them to select any three of the five cards, of course, after going through the stamp procedure the numbers will match.

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Here are some subtleties that can help you to get even more out of ‘Cool Beans’.

On the main effect instead of just verbally revealing the logo you can draw the logo as it appears on the card. These are a part of the crib card (See: image 2) so you don’t have to remember another set of information it’s right there in your hand. If you really wanted to, you could ask the participant to select a coffee shop card and then return it to the packet of unselected cards, keeping them hidden. Determine which coffee shop card the participant is thinking of using one of the methods described in this book. Now, hand the participant one of your business cards and ask them to draw the logo while your back is turned in order to, “Really fix it into your mind and make it clearer for me to receive”. While your back is turned you also start drawing the corresponding logo for the coffee shop that has been selected and wait for the participant to finish. Simply turn around and reveal that the images match.

Each of the stamp types is a different colour, enabling you to provide a colour reading for the selection that your participant makes. You can also include the number of stamps that are on the card in order to give a reading based on fulfilment or progression on a project they are working on.

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The colours for the stamps are also printed on the right hand side of the crib card and the number of stamps is in the middle section (See: image 2) which allows you to give a reverse style reading based on the colour. As soon as you secretly know the coffee shop that the person is thinking of, you can draw their attention to the colour of the stamps and explain that subconsciously people choose the coffee shop based on the colour/number of stamps. You can now give a cold reading based on what you have experienced from meeting the person and then explain that this type of person usually chooses that colour or number; giving the person a short reading and an apparent reason for how you were able to determine their selection.

Always say the number of stamps, rather than number of stamped spaces when you perform this effect. These cards were hand stamped for authenticity and to add to that authenticity some of the custom stamps were designed larger than the spaces as some coffee shops don’t have bespoke stamps made but buy generic stamps. For this reason some of the stamps may slightly enter into another empty stamp space, which if filled spaces were being counted may cause problems. This is easily resolved by always saying the “number of stamps” as it removes any ambiguity.

If you have a few people present you can ask each of them to select a single coffee shop card while your back is turned. Then you take everyone in the group through your favourite process for determining who has which card.

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The benefit of this is that you are less likely to get misses and any misses you do get can be explained away as ‘cross communication’ or ‘interference’. Ideally if there are five people each selecting a card, you can perform the long word vowel or quick glimpse method and always get positive responses. You can even do a progressive anagram with five people, then explain that some letters are coming through stronger than others and are standing out. Name the first letter (the letter ‘R’) and just see which people are giving your positive body language feedback and one person will not be doing this. This allows you to get your negative response through non-verbal cues rather than getting a spoken negative response. Just something for to play around with.

As the stamps are all stamped by hand there may be ink smears and other ‘imperfections’ caused by the hand stamping process. It is these variations that add to the realism of ‘Cool Beans’ and should be seen as a positive not a negative aspect. The same is true for the alignment of the stamps and the strength of the ink. All of these things change from card to card and between one set to the other, you most likely have the only set of ‘Cool Beans’ that looks the way that it does, completely unique to you. It took a lot more effort to give each card that feeling of realism by using hand stamping rather than integrating it into the artwork. However, I think it was imperative in making your props look authentic.

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I’ve really enjoyed creating ‘Cool Beans’ as it fuses together my love for both mentalism and coffee. My love for invisible props just keeps growing over the years. There is something just so satisfying in having an item that appears to be ‘normal’ and is accepted as such. Especially since that it is only with this acceptance that allows the mentalism performance to happen and be possible. The only way to question the invisible prop it to start questioning the reality of everyday items, and that way madness lies! I adore the ‘hidden in plain sight’ crib too, it can just be held in your hands even when you are surrounded by people, making it perfect for walk around/mix and mingle situations. The crib is equally beneficial as you won’t need to commit large amounts of information to memory, you can just get out there and start performing ‘Cool Beans’ and the more that you perform these routines, the more this information will be remembered. Don’t be tempted to turn this into a showcase of mentalism by performing all of the mentalism that can be done using these cards in one single sitting. Choose the effect that you like the most or the one that is suitable for your setting and do just that one.

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1 – Adams, Bertram. (1937). [The Krazy Kode, The Jinx, Issue 31]

2 – Underground Collective. (2008). [Pangram]

3 – Grant, U.F. (1937). [Tru Test/Modern Magazine Test]

4 – Brook, Paul. (2010). [Vowel Movements, Book of Lies] p.191

5 – Brook, Paul. (2007). [The Brook Test] p.27

Photographs taken and edited by Paul Brook

Additional graphics by Paul Brook

Editing and proofreading by Paul Brook and Jennifer Brook

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