Searching for Vernon - Picking Off The Pips

Discuss your favorite close-up tricks and methods.

Postby Zach Taylor » 03/28/11 04:34 PM

I have this theory when it comes to learning things. When you want to be good at something, find people in it that you admire, and learn their approaches to whatever you're trying to learn. Learn their approach, their philosophy, how they viewed and created their art.

Right now I'm making an attempt to understand Dai Vernon's approach to magic by learning his original published versions of classic effects. So far that includes Twisting the Aces and Triumph. I found an effect in Inner Secrets that does something I've been curious to do for a while. Picking Off The Pips.

The description for this effect is rather thin and the photos aren't a huge amount of help either. So, I'm wondering if anyone could offer some insight in to what Vernon might have been thinking here. The palming style he's suggested seems to be left WAY exposed to anyone on the left side of the magician, and loading the card in to palm seems to require holding the deck in a very awkward and closed looking fashion with the right thumb running along the low inner short edge of the deck so that the inner right corner of the bottom card can nestle against the flesh of the thumb.

I don't know if I'm just reading this effect wrong, but it seems like for something that Vernon touched it runs very unnaturally, at least when done as described. What am I missing here?
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 03/28/11 06:13 PM

Zach--
Are you sure it isn't in the Dai Vernon Book of Magic? I could swear Picking Off the Pips is in that volume. I also noticed the "different" way in which he steals the card in his right that leaves the left side looking exposed. It might have been his version of the Deliberate Side Steal, where the card isn't in a complete palm throughout the move/color change.

John Carney has an excellent version of this effect in Carneycopia that you would do well to study.
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Postby Zach Taylor » 03/28/11 06:44 PM

So the sleight is actually designed to be open like that? Do you think that's meant to be compensated for by the performing environment (i.e. a tabled display where the angles can be more adequately controlled)?

Is Carney's approach based on Vernon's at all, or is it just a different way of accomplishing the same effect? I'm not so much interested in learning the effect for performance purposes as I am in understanding Vernon's brain in the way he's constructed and presented the effect.
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Postby Denis Behr » 03/28/11 07:01 PM

Lenoard, Vernon has handlings in both books, see HERE. They are quite different.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 03/29/11 02:09 PM

Well, it's not like he shied away from angley moves. For example, his single card vanish, or "Jumping Jack".

Not every trick is for every condition, but perhaps the handling given is the best handling, for certain circumstances.

BTW, regarding the Carney reference, I believe one of his goals was to improve the angles in that, so he does it with a different change (though he did mention that if the angles are right you could use the Vernon handling).

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Postby El Mystico » 03/29/11 04:34 PM

It's a lovely move.

I think it is also described in the Phoenix, as 'Softy', because the whole action is soft and natural.

The hands are below the waist, and you are bent forward slightly.The opening grip is a natural grip from above the deck.
Once you've got the card 'palmed' you move the hand up, breaking slightly at the wrist. The back of the hand isnt face on to the aaudience, the hand is tilted down, with fingers pointing down and to the left, as they would naturally. So the bad angle to the left is largely naturally covered; but even so, you dont want anyone directly on your left; but, since the best view is from the front, that's where they should be anyway.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 03/29/11 07:43 PM

Zach--
If I understand your last post, you're more interested in the psychology behind Vernon's magic. I don't think you will find it in the older books on Vernon. You're going to have to read between the lines.

Ganson wrote up the descriptions and left out the psychology for the readers to dissect. In his description of the Wand Spin Vanish, for example, Ganson didn't explain that the psychology behind this move was to set the audience up for the vanish of the third ball. After two false transfers, suspicion can build that the magician isn't really transferring the ball to his left hand. The Wand Spin allows the audience to really see that third ball in the left hand before it vanishes, and thus demolishing their theory.

El Mystico wrote a lovely post on this effect. After reading and attempting it in front of a mirror, I can only add that the convex bend on the card between the right pinky and thumb base is designed to allow the left hand to let go of the deck and make a gesture. When the left hand returns, it can regrasp the deck without stumbling because the convex bend allows the gripped card to stay out of the way. Finish exactly as El Mystico wrote.

In the mirror, it looks great from the front as El Mystico noted. Note also that Ganson suggests tilting the deck up a bit from the rear as you perform this.

Jim couldn't have said it better. Vernon's Picking Off the Pips should be done when the angles are optimal. The left side is vulnerable.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 03/29/11 08:09 PM

Also, it might be worth getting the Revelations DVDs, since this is discussed on Volume 6.

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Postby Zach Taylor » 03/29/11 10:01 PM

Jim: Good points. Having the specimen in Book of Magic revealed helped a lot with see the inherent strengths of the effect that help offset the angle issue. I would love to see the information you mentioned from Revelations, but unfortunately something like that is FAR out of reach for me financially at the moment.

Mystico: Thank you very much for your insights. The additional details helped make the approach of the sleight much more accessible.

Leonard: Yes, that's the sort of information I was looking for. Book of Magic seems to be much richer in that sort of information than the Secrets series. This sleight seemed unique and quirky enough to Vernon to be a good candidate for learning. It looks like with a moderate amount of work it could also be a potentially useful and graceful bit of knowledge to have.

From the first chapter or two of BoM though I'm seeing that I might be approaching this wrong. It seems like Vernon's approach might not have been one so much about how he performed his magic, but rather how he developed it. The development process begat the signature performance. Does that sound right?
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Postby El Mystico » 03/30/11 01:31 AM

Vernon was always developing material, it is true (and there are signs of this frustrating Ganson).
However, this move was published in Inner Secrets, and Phoenix; and discussed in Revelations many years later, without substantial alteration.
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Postby Jim Maloney » 03/30/11 09:11 AM

Zach Taylor wrote:I would love to see the information you mentioned from Revelations, but unfortunately something like that is FAR out of reach for me financially at the moment.


You wouldn't need the whole set. Just plop down $35 for the DVD of Volumes 5 & 6.

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Postby Leonard Hevia » 03/31/11 06:39 PM

Zach--The Vernon Touch chapter in the DVBoM is the spot to focus on if you want to squeeze out Vernon's approach and psychology.

The Vernon Chronicles books definitely contain more information on Vernon's thinking. They are well worth your time and money.
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Postby Leonard Hevia » 04/01/11 07:39 PM

Zach--
I just realized that Roberto Giobbi's Homage to Dai Vernon: A Practical Seminar 2nd Edition lecture book contains a substantial amount of information on the psychology of Vernon's approach to magic. You can purchase a copy of this wonderful text from H&R Magic Books in Texas.

I think it wil help clarify some of your inquiries, but keep in mind that the fun lies in the attempt to figure out on your own what Vernon was trying to achieve in his magic.
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