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The Magic Cafe Forum Index » » Ever so sleightly » » Dai Vernons Cups and Balls routine (0 Likes) Printer Friendly Version

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KirkG
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Blackshadow,

I think if you got the chance to see a quality Vernon performance you would better appreciate the tip off move. The one on Ammars tape isn't his best work.

That being said, the purpose of the move is a "display quality" move to show the absolute fairness of the moment. His patter was along the lines, I am not going to move quickly in order to fool you. The whole focus should be the balls falling onto your hands and how lightly and openingly you show them. The fact that you touch the cups shouldn't even register in their minds. Most performers do not adaquately motivate this action before they start. So it looks very unusual.

It is not a "normal" way to pick up a ball, but a very "fair" way.

Kirk g.
Laird
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What has worked for me has been to take the mouth down cup with the ball on top and lift it. While holding the cup, with the ball on top, toss the ball up in the air and catch with your other hand. Load your cup while placing it back down.
It looks like your having fun with the cups and balls. And while your ball is in the air the direction is away from your loading the cup. People tend to look at a moving object anyway. There is even more justification to handle your cups if you're throwing the ball with them.
It's never to late to have a happy childhold!
Jonathan Townsend
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Quote:
On 2005-01-03 18:57, BlackShadow wrote:
Actually though, I still don't like the tip off move. I can see it's considered the most heinous blasphemy to criticise Vernon's routine,...



It's okay. Those who have nothing of their own need to cling icons of the past. Dead icons and works beyond their comprehension. Instead of leaning from the man and his works, they cling to the icon.

Dai Vernon had a great eye for good material and collected it, assembled it and put what he felt was the appropriate slant or touch on the material so it would work for him in his setting. Truly laudable accomplishments. For others to blindly presume that what worked for one man in one place long ago, would work as well for all of us in our different places if unfortunately typical in our community.

Onward! Go look at the works of Charles Bertram, J. N. Hofzinser, Tommy Wonder, Fred Kaps.... and assemble what works best for you. Look at the walnut trick and see if that gives you any ideas. Have a look at Curtis Kam's version of the chop cup routine and see if that inspires you in some way. Enjoy!
...to all the coins I've dropped here
chrisrkline
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I think that many of the hard core pro-Vernon posts we have seen in this thread are from magicians who have contributed something of their own. I also immangine that they all have modified Vernon's routine (or now do something completely different) and are familiar with dozens of other top notch C&B routines. I am not sure who, at least the pros posting here, are simply clinging to the icon of Vernon. Someone like me, however, is liable to that charge, I suppose, but even I modify where I can. My problem is that I am still new. I feel that if benefits me to study one or two routines very closely, at least long enough that I begin to understand what Vernon was doing.
Chris
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2005-01-04 07:57, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
Quote:
On 2005-01-03 18:57, BlackShadow wrote:
Actually though, I still don't like the tip off move. I can see it's considered the most heinous blasphemy to criticise Vernon's routine,...



It's okay. Those who have nothing of their own need to cling icons of the past. Dead icons and works beyond their comprehension. Instead of leaning from the man and his works, they cling to the icon.

Dai Vernon had a great eye for good material and collected it, assembled it and put what he felt was the appropriate slant or touch on the material so it would work for him in his setting. Truly laudable accomplishments. For others to blindly presume that what worked for one man in one place long ago, would work as well for all of us in our different places if unfortunately typical in our community.

Onward! Go look at the works of Charles Bertram, J. N. Hofzinser, Tommy Wonder, Fred Kaps.... and assemble what works best for you. Look at the walnut trick and see if that gives you any ideas. Have a look at Curtis Kam's version of the chop cup routine and see if that inspires you in some way. Enjoy!


Thank you, Jonathan, for that very succinct post! That is exactly the point I was aiming at earlier, although I may not agree that the people referred to have nothing to offer. Too often magicians tend to worship the icon at the alter and not their accomplishments, or the idealism for which that icon stands... the same mentality that has half the teenage newbies believing that David Blaine invented street magic!

Dai Vernon was a great magician... I totally believe that. His contributions to magic will, and should be regarded as high water marks, and studied, for a long, long time. But, it would be a far stretch to give validity to any single magician as being the beginning, or end, of a trick such as the cups and balls.

We can surely learn from these magicians of greatness, but we can never progress if the status quo is maintained, just because, "That's the way HE did it." That reason, in and of itself, is too full of holes.
~michael baker
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Whit Haydn
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Still, why crawl between his legs when you can stand on his shoulders?

All I said was that many magicians never take the time to understand Vernon before they begin making changes. Most "jump" the lessons to be found in the old routines, instead of doing the work required to understand and grow from them. There is hubris in that. When I look around the magic scene, I see lots of originality, but often litte depth or quality--too many magicians have not learned the lessons they should have studied before becoming so "original."

The "tip off" move is a very powerful thing, with great economy of motion. Vernon made it seem "natural"--at least no one watching questioned it.

What replaces it, that is stronger?

If you have discovered a better motivation for lifting and loading each cup after vanishing each ball, I for one would be interested.
chrisrkline
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Whit makes a good point. If you are doing the Vernon routine, or something based on it, are there clearly better ways to take the ball off the top while loading the ball?

Gazzo, who does a version of Vernon's routine, which is really what I do, picks up the cup, I believe, drops or tosses the ball to the left, and then puts the cup back down. His motivation is that it shows that there is nothing under the cup. I think this is an acceptable alternative to the tip over. But is it clearly better? I prefer to do the tip over for several reasons. One, my Harries cups have a large bottom, but they do not have a deep indent and the ball sometimes rolls off when I lift the cup. Two, I have always felt more comfortable with the tip over move and feel it is fair looking. Since, in my routine, the specs have held the cups and they put them down at the start, there is no problem with the tip over. I want the spectators to know that I am not doing anything fishy. I tip the cup so that I show that I am clearly staying away from the ball. The ball does fall into my hand, but the hand is wide open and stays wide open as I toss it to my wide open right hand. I think the motivation and the logic of this is sound. The touching of the cup is not sneaky at all. I don't even look like I am going to close my hand until I draw attention to the wand, which is the motivation for the transfer.

I am sure there are excellent routines that eliminate some of these "problems", but I know the Vernon routine. As a newer C&B user, this is a great place to start.

I have always believed that creativity needs fuel. That fuel is experience. But you cannot experience a performance piece, like a magic routine without performing the routine many times. I can't count the number of times I studied a routine, only to make changes that seemed convenient, later to discover that the original method was better. I have wasted time in my own studies, by, ironically, not giving the time to really understand what a magician is trying to communicate with me.
Chris
Whit Haydn
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Quote:
On 2005-01-04 15:20, chrisrkline wrote:
But you cannot experience a performance piece, like a magic routine without performing the routine many times. I can't count the number of times I studied a routine, only to make changes that seemed convenient, later to discover that the original method was better. I have wasted time in my own studies, by, ironically, not giving the time to really understand what a magician is trying to communicate with me.


Exactly the point. There is nothing wrong with changing a classic routine, but one is wise to perform it many times and try to understand it the way it is written first.

I think there are way too many guys that think they know more than they do, because they skipped lessons here and there. They have seen improvements to classic routines by people who have already studied those routines deeply the way they were written, and think that they can do the same without going through the same process. This is just arrogance.

Vernon was a stickler for naturalness. He must have considered whether or not the tip off was "natural"--why did he choose it? What would he have said in this discussion?

He certainly would have welcomed this debate and been glad to see that people were discussing the important stuff.
chrisrkline
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Ammar suggests that it may be awkward to do the tip over move if you are standing. Even so, it is easy to say, "I perform standing, so I will do something else," without adequately understanding what Vernon was up to. Some have argued that the tip over move is unnatural, which is certainly within Vernon's philosophy. But sometimes there are other considerations. I am no expert on Vernon, but I am guessing that he may have wanted to make a bigger point then "I am just picking up a ball." He wanted, I suppose, to say something more in line with, "I am going to do something amazing--watch closely." The tip over move satisfies that desire. It is not natural to roll up your sleeves before you do a magic trick, for example, but in the context of your magic, it may be necessary.

In other words, if you are going to do something with the cup, to put the ball in your left hand, it is important for anyone starting out to keep these types of ideas in mind. "What do I wish my audience to feel, think, and believe, at this moment?" Understanding how Vernon answers these questions is important.

I do, also, believe, that many people do the tip over move with no more understanding of its purpose (I did) than the person who just blindly changes the handling for no reason. Following Vernon is not a guarantee of greatness. But that fact does not lead us to the conclusion that one should just have it their way just to be different. It is not enough to do what Vernon does, but to understand why Vernon did it.
Chris
Michael Baker
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Quote:
On 2005-01-04 13:41, whithaydn wrote:

All I said was that many magicians never take the time to understand Vernon before they begin making changes. Most "jump" the lessons to be found in the old routines, instead of doing the work required to understand and grow from them. There is hubris in that. When I look around the magic scene, I see lots of originality, but often litte depth or quality--too many magicians have not learned the lessons they should have studied before becoming so "original."



While I tend to agree with your point on the quest for originality, "Most", and "many" are keys to your statement. Is it original to use an alternate method for any regarded as very good? Probably not... at least no more so than using shrunken heads for final loads instead of lemons.... and this type of thinking is precisely why I have started selling off most of my "treasured" books that only offer another's dissection and reassemblance of classic routines. To me, they are largely novelties, at best. I can make my own. Good, bad, or indifferent, I can make my own. I am only keeping those that I feel have the soul of magic built in.

Is somewhere out there the next Dai Vernon? Yes... but only in the extreme figurative sense. Somewhere out there IS someone who will make a splash while others are making ripples. It may happen tomorrow, and it may not happen for two hundred years. Some will surely miss this in their mantric pursuits of other icons, being caught up in the whirlpool of rehashing the status quo. Some will fall at this person's feet, and begin the process again. Such is the foundation of celebrity.

All I said was that there is always a good reason to question the status quo, not necessarily that there is , or ever will be a reason to change it. It's called being open-minded.
~michael baker
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Whit Haydn
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Just make sure you've shaken all the raisens out of the box before you toss it to someone else complaining that it's empty.
Bill Palmer
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There is a story that when one of the better known American basso profundi was going to play the part of Mefistofeles in a production of Gounod's Faust, he wondered why, at a certain part of the program, right before an aria, Mefistofeles always walked downstage right and looked into the orchestra pit. He wondered if perhaps it was Mefistofeles taking a look back into Hell.

He asked his teacher, who said, "It is a tradition. Ever since Chaliapin performed the role with the Bolshoi Opera, it has been done that way."

Finally, after much wangling and searching, the fellow was able to as Chaliapin if he could remember his motivation for that seemingly unmotivated act.

He thought for a few moments and finally replied, "Ah, yes. I remember. Chaliapin needed to spit."

So, it's good to understand the motivation behind a move. And it's good to question things. But the story does not explain what bit of stage business the basso profundo substituted for spitting into the orchestra pit.
"The Swatter"

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Whit Haydn
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Great story, Bill.
Pete Biro
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Armando Lucero, Juan Tamariz, John Carney... making more than ripples.
STAY TOONED... @ www.pete-biro.com
rikbrooks
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Bill's story reminds me of another. I can't remember where I heard it first. A mother was teaching her daughter how to bake a ham. First she cut off both ends. When her daughter asked why she couldn't say. It was the way that her mother always did it. So the little girl asked the grandmother and she laughed and said it was because she didn't have a pan big enough for the whole ham.
Magnus Eisengrim
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Brilliant Rik! This one's committed to long-term memory!

John
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.--Yeats
Bill Palmer
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A sharp-eyed reader pointed out to me that "Mefistofeles" is spelled "Mephistopheles." Not in this case -- Gounod's opera is in French, and the name of the character is spelled "Mefistofeles." Nice try, though. I didn't put in the accent's because foreign characters are difficult to input on a standard keyboard.
"The Swatter"

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Ron Giesecke
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I believe that one key to eliminating extraneous movements in a cups and balls routine is saturation. I can perform the Vernon routine without even thinking about it.

When I first started out, I was more concerned with "what phase am I at, where are the balls currently located, e. al." and was content to have actually gotten through the routine in a cogent and entertaining matter.

But then arrived this point where I instinctively knew where the concealed balls were at all times, and my surface thinking went to the actual presentational appearance of it. That--was when the things I personally percieved to be "alliterative" and "redundant" were eliminated by my own tinkering under the hood. Some things about the routine legitimately germaine to Vernon were conversely clubby contrivances for me.

So, in short, when the routine becomes second nature in its current form to you, the next door will open unexpectedly--like a game of Myst.
Bill Palmer
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Let me relate this to an entirely different piece of magic. I have done the Gene Anderson newspaper tear so many times that I can do it in the dark, blindfolded and half asleep. I was in the middle of a performance of it one afternoon and realized just how smooth and natural it had become. And I was completely on autopilot. That's the way any routine should be. It gave me a chance to really project the emotions and the fun of the routine without even thinking for a split second about the trick, itself.
"The Swatter"

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My Chickasaw name is "Throws Money at Cups."

www.cupsandballsmuseum.com
MJ Marrs
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Quote:
On 2005-01-08 20:09, Bill Palmer wrote:
Let me relate this to an entirely different piece of magic. I have done the Gene Anderson newspaper tear so many times that I can do it in the dark, blindfolded and half asleep. I was in the middle of a performance of it one afternoon and realized just how smooth and natural it had become. And I was completely on autopilot. That's the way any routine should be. It gave me a chance to really project the emotions and the fun of the routine without even thinking for a split second about the trick, itself.



It's interesting that almost any art form's highest expression is the ability to perform ones skills pretty much on "autopilot." In the Chinese martial arts a mastery level is one of "wu wei" (no mind) where one flows through the movements skilfully due to the thousands of repititions over the years.
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