Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 10th, 2019, 11:06 pm

I think they were a disappointment because Vernon, Cervon and Jennings are kinda' overrated.

A book of unpublished ideas from the likes of Alex Elmsley, Jerry Sadowitz or Roy Walton would be far more exciting.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 10th, 2019, 11:23 pm

Anyway - the above is irrelvent in any case. The young kids of today are streets ahead of anything the old dudes came up with. The internet has bought an exponential increase in creativity over the past 20 years. As such it is hard to get excited about dusty old notebooks from 50 years ago. Although I am one of those saddos who does get excited about stuff like that.

Here is an example of the type of stuff you see these days that is a quantum leap ahead of anything you will find in the Castle Notebooks.

https://www.mjmmagic.com/store/the-vault-nova-by-avi-yap-video-download-p-29580.html

I wish none of this was true. But it is. And it is a little depressing since I am one of those magic nerds who loves nothing more than finding a hidden gem in some buried away and forgotten old book.

But these days all a kid needs is his Mum's credit card to get access to material that is ten times better than anything the magicians above came up with. The kids these days are insane. And don't forget that Jerry Andrus (who - like me - was commited to telling the truth) used to say the same thing. He felt every magic generation surpassed the one that came before. And he died before he had a chance to see the revolutionary impact of the internet on magic.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 11th, 2019, 12:56 am

Joe Mckay wrote:I think they were a disappointment because Vernon, Cervon and Jennings are kinda' overrated.

A book of unpublished ideas from the likes of Alex Elmsley, Jerry Sadowitz or Roy Walton would be far more exciting.


That's a preposterous thing to say and it says more about you than the people on which you are commenting.
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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Christopher1979 » August 11th, 2019, 1:18 am

Joe Mckay wrote:I think they were a disappointment because Vernon, Cervon and Jennings are kinda' overrated.

A book of unpublished ideas from the likes of Alex Elmsley, Jerry Sadowitz or Roy Walton would be far more exciting.


Wow!.... I have heard some outlandish comments made in my time but that has to top them all!

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Christopher1979 » August 11th, 2019, 1:41 am

Also, the remark you made that "getting Mum's credit card to get access to material that is ten times better than anything the magicians above came up with" is ridiculous. Firstly, you can throw as much money from "mum's credit card" as you want. That does not add up to a better magician and if you can also make a remark that the material is ten times better than Vernon, Jennings or Cervon then you seriously need to go back and do some studying.

Sure!, magic has evolved and changed and it will carry on doing so. Are their guy's pushing the boundaries and doing some amazing stuff?...... Yes!! very much so. If the so-called "overrated" magicians of yesteryear did not exist then the wonderful advancements we see today probably wouldn't either. Most of the foundations were put in place by the greats of the past.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Brad Henderson » August 11th, 2019, 9:02 am

Joe,

You’re an idiot.

I’ve always suspected you had no concept of what it means to perform magic in the real world - especially on a professional basis, based on your adoration of Andy and his creative though small minded approach to magic; but you’ve now made that clear in your comparison.

Vernon’s material has been playing strong in the real world for several decades now, nearly a century in some cases. The trick you linked to was released quite a while ago, and I don’t know of a single case of it being performed in the real world for real people ever. In fact, I bet in 30 years no one will have any recollection it was ever released, yet (assuming cards still exist) magicians will still be performing triumph.

Why?

Because it’s a better trick that makes sense to anyone who has ever played cards - and the method works in the real world.

These people whose creativity you laud ARE creative - the problem is their venue for creativity is the internet where superficial visual magic reigns supreme and the human connection is virtual and not real. Plus, methods are available that cannot work effectively in real life performance spaces.

If this kid’s trick were so great, we would all know his name and (magicians being copy cats) we would all have been doing it since it’s original release.

But we aren’t - we are still doing triumph.

And that’s not for a lack of craving for the new.

The reality is most magic created today (which gets to the marketplace) is created I be sold to other magicians and therefor appeals to their values - is it Novel, does it involve skill, did it fool ME. The opinions of real audiences don’t matter. (Which to his credit is something Andy understands, it’s just his approach is myopic.).

To suggest that the men who laid the groundwork for nearly every card magic principle and concept to come were ‘over rated’ suggests an arrogance and ignorance that cannot be described in words.

But i’ll Try.

You’re an idiot.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 11th, 2019, 11:30 am

Magicians go mad when I make this point. I made the same point on the Conjure Nation back in 2015.

Here is what I wrote back then. I started a thread called 'Magic books = weaker magic?"

Here are the main posts I made in that thread.

Here was my opening post:

Like all you guys, I love magic books.

Heck - I love books in general. And nothing gives me more pleasure than spending quality time with a magic book.

Equally - I find it a chore trying to keep up with the latest released effects that are continually hitting the marketplace. And this is a common attitude among many of the older generation in magic.

But - I think there is a problem here. In my, unfashionable, opinion - I think the marketed tricks being released now are far stronger than the tricks you find in magic books. A kid with a 100 bucks in his pocket could walk into a magic shop and come away with stronger tricks than Dai Vernon managed to perform in his entire career.

In economics there is something called 'The Agency Problem'. The idea is that the incentives of those running a business might not be in alignment with the shareholders who own the business. And this is a problem that is often analyzed and addressed by economists (this is the reason stock options are so common now).

Well - I wonder if magic suffers from a similar problem?

We all enjoy digging out old magic books. And working through the latest books. And from those sources, we slowly put together a repertoire. But in doing so are we not robbing our audiences of the chance to see the strongest magic possible?

Since so much of the very best magic is - for better or worse - now only available as marketed tricks. It is kinda' ironic that older magicians look down on the younger kids who are not interested in reading and are only interested in buying easy-to-do tricks. Since that is actually where most of the strongest tricks in magic are to be found.

When people ask me for my opinion on a magic book or magazine (and I have read thousands of them) - I can list the best tricks. But the sad thing is that very few of those tricks are objectively stronger than a lot of the tricks that are flooding into the marketplace.

Sometimes it pays to be dumb and take the easy option. And that is where magic has gone. And there is no point saying you want to show your audiences tricks they have never seen before. Since laypeople will got an entire life without ever seeing any of these marketed tricks in person. Added to which there are so many great tricks being released that you can still put together a repertoire which is pretty unique.

I am curious if others feel the same way? I love being a book snob as much as the next guy. Since books are so relaxing and so much fun. But the amount of great magic that is being released as a 30 buck trick available from all dealers is very high. And is often of a caliber that you just do not see in magic books.

I am just being honest here. Don't shoot the messenger. :-)
Last edited by Joe Mckay on August 11th, 2019, 11:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 11th, 2019, 11:31 am

Here are a couple of other posts I made to help make this argument:

I do keep up to date with the latest tricks.

I never really buy any of them. But since so few magic books are released these days (although things are starting to pick up), I like to keep an eye on what creators are bringing to the marketplace. Just to get a feel for where the creative thinking is happening these days.

I could spend about 5 mins on the magic cafe and find a bunch of tricks that have been released in the past year. And literally all of them are stronger than any trick I have seen in a magic book. This is due to the competitiveness of the marketplace, cutting edge ideas and the fact that the producer will often supply a gimmick which would rarely be detailed in a magic book.

The reason I started this thread is because of the following trick. I don't think the following trick in a masterpiece (although it is good). But it really bought this idea home to me.

I am a big fan of Bob Hummer and one of his best ideas is a card on ribbon effect. The construction is elegant and it makes sneaky use of thumb tip. Bob Hummer was a genius of magic, this is one of his better ideas and I bet 99% of magicians are unaware of it.

But you know what? It doesn't matter since the following trick is actually superior to what Bob Hummer came up with and achieves a very similar sort of effect. Except it is a better effect all round (for instance the card can be signed).

http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/3677

This is true for a lot of great tricks buried in magic books. Somewhere in a magic shop is a marketed effect that does the same thing except in a stronger and more fooling manner. I honestly think that being a lumpen consumer of magic tricks will introduce you to stronger magic than working through books.

It may not make you a better magician. But in terms of the strength of the tricks - the effects marketed to magicians are often far superior to what can be found in a magic book. I mean I adore the giant Stewart James books. But you would struggle to find a single trick in there that is strong enough to charge even 10 bucks for as a magic download. When compared to the visual miracles that are regularly hitting the market.

Again - it is best not to think like magicians here. If you give me a 100 bucks to spend on the latest magic tricks - and you spend the same money on magic books - any layperson watching would always say the marketed tricks were more powerful (and often more visual) than the tricks you managed to dig out of a magic book.

And I say all this despite being a huge magic reader myself. I am just calling it as I see it.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 11th, 2019, 11:35 am

Final post:

If you are only interested in ungaffed card magic - then books are the way to go.

But looking at magic as a whole, I think a lot of book snobs (and I am one of them) are missing out on some real miracles that are being released into the magic marketplace. Sure there is a lot of rubbish. And even the best effects are rarely done justice by those who are only interested in the 'latest and greatest'. But there is a seam of quality and innovation that far exceeds what I have seen in any magic book.

I am gonna' have a quick look at the first page of the 'Latest and Greatest' section of the magic cafe. And I am going to ignore the books and DVDs mentioned there.

Here is what stands out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FcwLV4_7aHA

You have a dollar bill that transforms into a different banknote - in the spectator's hands. An argument could be made that this is the strongest trick that magic has ever seen.

Then you have TAG effect that I spoke about earlier. Which kicks one of Bob Hummer's best effects into a whole new dimension.

There is this trick in which a folded up card does a visual colour change whilst trapped inside a tic-tac box. The box can be used for other types of effects as well:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KeH1IUiAKXM

You have this trick here in which a singed card ends up in a block of ice. I know that Michael Ammar invented this effect - but everyone says this version is even better(although pricey) .

https://www.themagiccafe.com/forums/vie ... &forum=218

There is this trick as well which looks like a camera trick. But apparently looks this good in real life:

http://www.penguinmagic.com/p/S19277

Like I say - I find keeping up with the latest magic a bit boring and a chore. Since I really am a book guy. As such - when discussing this area I can only give a casual overview since I do not follow the latest releases as religiously as some do.

Still - as much as I hate to say it - the magic available in marketed effects are far superior to what you see in magic books. Look at the guys performing on TV. They have access to talented magic advisers who are very well read. And what effects do they perform? The same stuff that is hyped up and for sale in most magic shops.

There is a reason for that. And that is the tricks being marketed are just damn better than what we see in books. Take any layperson in the world and they would agree that the best of the marketed effects far exceed the best of the tricks found in print.

I am not saying this is a good or a bad thing. I am just pointing it out since we have a strange situation in magic now where the people who are the most knowledgeable and the most well read - are often the ones (strangely) performing the weakest and most unimpressive magic.

Why?

Because they have an aversion to magic dealers and the tricks they promote. And in doing so they are cutting themselves off from some of the strongest magic ever made available to magicians. It is hilarious that the "idiots" on The Magic Cafe actually have stronger tricks in their repertoire than most experts.

Again - I would put any of the tricks mentioned above against any trick invented or performed by Dai Vernon. And the tricks above were just the ones that stood out after a casual look at the first page of the 'latest and greatest' section of the magic cafe.

There is a whole world of amazing magic out there. And many knowledgeable guys (myself included) tend to ignore it and just stick to their books.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Leo Garet » August 11th, 2019, 11:44 am

JM:

You're not just the messenger, you're the writer and the sender.

More if and when I can be bothered, but in the meanwhile, Elmsley and Roy Walton might qualify for the “old dude” epithet. And Sadowitz is hardly a kid these days.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 11th, 2019, 11:46 am

haha - yes - well of the old dudes I do prefer those lot.

I think Jerry Sadowitz is the best card magician America has ever produced.

Elmsley is the best card magician Scotland has ever produced.

And Walton is the best card magician England has ever produced.

So - I do have one American in my list. So this is not just about me sticking up for the British!

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 11th, 2019, 11:52 am

I am prepared to be wrong in this argument. In fact I would be delighted to be wrong.

So line up and take your best shots.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Leo Garet » August 11th, 2019, 12:16 pm

I'm always prepared to be wrong in any argument. I was once.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby JustinM » August 11th, 2019, 12:19 pm

Alex Elmsley - Loved Vernon
Jerry Sadowitz - Loves Walton.......... And Vernon!
Roy Walton - Loves Vernon, Jennings And probably Cervon!


Vernon, Jennings and Cervon are overrated............................. Joe Blow!

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 11th, 2019, 12:25 pm

Joe, Brad is right. Your statement is idiotic. It's also indefensible.
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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 11th, 2019, 12:28 pm

I don't like The Beatles either. I find it really hard comparing stuff from the past with the best of today.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Leo Garet » August 11th, 2019, 1:06 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:I don't like The Beatles either. I find it really hard comparing stuff from the past with the best of today.


Now you are in dangerous waters.

That said, what's to compare? If you don' t like this and you don't like that, fine. But feeling the need to compare is risking missing out on something that might just have some appeal.

Meanwhile, back at HQ, no argument is indefensible, but the evidence offered here is not proof and no jury will accept this one.

From where I'm standing, you're talking nonsense. And that includes the Vernon, Jennings, Cervon comments.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Brad Henderson » August 11th, 2019, 4:10 pm

Joe,

Everything you have written relies on the assumption that you have good taste in magic.

I have no doubt that the magic being produced today has far greater appeal to those buying it - it was created to be bought by people who share a certain system of values.

Those values all concern self pleasure.

I am driving back from a summer of performing for real people. I have never once heard any of the thousands of people I speak to ever once mention having seen any of the tricks you listed (I only glanced through it). Heck, I’ve never seen any magician perform any of the tricks listed except on the videos where they attempt to sell these tricks to other magicians.

I’ve never seen or heard of anyone performing those tricks once bought.

Why?

Because most people who buy this stuff never perform - they buy it because doing so pleases them. It’s the second act in a magic show where they get to feel cool because they paid to look behind the curtain. It’s a fantasy booth where you get to imagine what it would be like to perform these tricks - though most audiences aren’t as carefully selected and well rehearsed as those fueling the fantasies.

If you lack real world performing experience, especially in professional situations (only because it gives one far more varied experiences than just working for the same people) then I can understand how you would think these are better tricks. Problem is you lack the experience to know that the magic doesn’t come from the tricks. Sure, some illusions are more deceptive than others, but the magic comes from elsewhere. The tricks are just something to look at.

You don’t know better.

Come back when you do.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 11th, 2019, 6:54 pm

How come the most famous magicians in the world - the ones regularly on TV - are performing the visual one-trick download type material that I praise in the posts above?

I never see them dig out something by Jennings, Cervon or Vernon.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 11th, 2019, 7:40 pm

Joe, you are just wrong. I would go read the books about and by Vernon if I were you.
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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby erdnasephile » August 11th, 2019, 8:00 pm

Joe Mckay wrote:How come the most famous magicians in the world - the ones regularly on TV - are performing the visual one-trick download type material that I praise in the posts above?

I never see them dig out something by Jennings, Cervon or Vernon.


With respect, Penn and Teller recently featured a wonderful sequence where they performed an egg bag routine made famous by Charlie Miller and Johnny Thompson.

Lance Burton featured his version of Vernon's Cups and Balls on one of his specials.

An entire sequence of David Blaine's first TV special was of him doing an Eddie Fetcher routine. He also made his reputation doing Ed Baldacci's self-levitation. He has used his versions of several classic close-up routines in subsequent specials.

David Copperfield (the most successful magician in history) has featured his versions of tricks from books during his television specials (Air Tight, Marlo's Real Gone Ace Assembly, Takagi's rope routine, etc.)

I could go on.

I'm not saying there isn't great contemporary material out there--I have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of many modern offerings. However, much of the best stuff stands on the shoulders of giants. In addition, the claim that classic magicians and their material is "overrated" seems a big stretch to me. Pretty much every thinker in magic I respect has written at one time or another something to the effect of: "If you are looking for great material that no one else is performing, seek out the older publications." (I have certainly found this to be true in my limited performing life. I recently dug out and updated 2 routines published decades ago, and they killed 2 very smart audiences.)

As Denny used to love to say (scream): "It's all in Tarbell!" ;)

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Steve Bryant » August 11th, 2019, 8:11 pm

Add Ricky Jay to the list of performers of classics.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby JustinM » August 11th, 2019, 8:54 pm

"Ricky Jay?..... He's overrated" - Joe Blow

"I thought the David Blaine trick was called 2 card monte and was his.... Who's eddie Fechter? Doesn't matter because he's overrated too!" - Joe Blow

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 11th, 2019, 9:21 pm

That Eddie Fetcher trick is very good.

So is the Fred Braue (although I think I saw it credited to Vernon once?) bent card finish for the Ambitious Card.

I remember Blaine doing that finish for the Ambitious Card on a talk show once. I had been studying magic for about 5 years and had never actually seen that ending for the Ambitious Card before. It really impressed me how good it looked. Even when you knew the method.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Richard Kaufman » August 11th, 2019, 9:33 pm

It's not all in Tarbell. That's nonsense, too.
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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Leonard Hevia » August 11th, 2019, 10:18 pm

Denny' s actual quote on his tombstone in Colon:

"I told you...IT'S IN TARBELL!"

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby erdnasephile » August 11th, 2019, 10:31 pm

Richard Kaufman wrote:It's not all in Tarbell. That's nonsense, too.


Yes, of course--that was just my small tribute to Denny (really miss that man).

PS: apologies as well for misspelling, Fechter---I should never have trusted that Windows spell-checker!

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Joe Mckay » August 11th, 2019, 10:46 pm

I went through the Tarbell books recently.

Not a lot jumped out at me. But there is so much in there it really depends what you are looking for. That said - the basis of a lot of things can be traced back to there. So it depends from what perspective you view the material.

I am probably too jaded to appreciate a lot of the stuff in there. I guess laypeople wouldn't know the difference. This is a point Jim Steinmeyer used to repeatedly bang on about in his wonderful Conjuring column.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Ian Kendall » August 12th, 2019, 3:28 am

A lot of the good stuff can be traced back to Discoverie, if you want to go down that route...

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby El Mystico » August 15th, 2019, 1:52 pm

I suspect Joe is, in part, trying to stir things up.
And answers along the lines of 'if you think that then you are a jackass' are unproductive.
For me - most current magical creators are not standing on the backs of giants, which I think is the heart of Joe's argument - they are ignorant of the giants.
Of course there are developments; an intelligent reading of the Daley Notebooks leads the reader to shout 'The Elmsley Count!!!'
But it seems to me a whole genre of magic has developed which looks great with a fixed angle youtube video, to sell a DVD. But genuine steps forward for real-life performance are rare - but to be welcomed.
Hopefully Richard's new Greater Magic will separate the wheat from the chaff.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Leo Garet » August 16th, 2019, 11:30 am

El Mystico wrote:And answers along the lines of 'if you think that then you are a jackass' are unproductive.

Agreed.

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Re: Bruce Cervon's Castle Notebooks Volume 1

Postby Leo Garet » August 16th, 2019, 11:35 am

El Mystico wrote:For me - most current magical creators are not standing on the backs of giants, which I think is the heart of Joe's argument - they are ignorant of the giants.

That's the thing.

They are standing on the shoulders, in the shadows, etcetera. We all are. But we're not ignorant of the fact.


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