I finally found/developed a card trick that will work as an opener. It's my version of Sam the Bellhop.
Growing up in San Francisco
For the stray non-magician that runs across this, "Sam the Bellhop" is the most popular story told as one pages through a deck. A great magician named; Bill Malone does a bang-up job of this trick.
With this long-winded effect, running at just over 5 minutes leaves me 12 minutes to fill up. I will close with the effect I call Pawnbrokers Syndrome that is just a precursor to the Cups and Balls. That gives me an opening and a strong closer. The three effects listed last for an aggregate eleven minutes. I've no idea what to put in between them.
For today I'm just happy to have half an act.
I spoke to Howard Hamburg who is a long-time denizen of the Magic Castle, via the phone. He gave me some great ideas on wrapping the show up in a theme. This weekend, (just before Valentine's day 2011), I've got another magic pal who's coming down to confer on all things magical.
You two who actually read this thing; go practice.