Jennings

By Richard Kaufman

I called Richard Kaufman in the middle of October to arrange to get the galleys of Jennings '67. At that time Richard told me that Larry Jennings had gone into the hospital and was not doing well. Larry died a few days later, in the early morning hours of October 18. I was aware that for the past few years Larry's health had been precarious at best, but knowledge of his passing still came as a shock. For the past six years Richard Kaufman had been working with Larry, preparing a trilogy of books covering Larry's card techniques and routines. Jennings '67 was at the printers while Larry was in the hospital. Sadly, he did not live to see the finished product.

Larry Jennings moved to California in the early 1960's. Larry had been shown some of Dai Vernon's material by Ron Wilson, and he fell under the spell of the Professor's brilliant thinking. Vernon was at the Magic Castle, and Larry went West to meet him. He never moved back.

The late 60's and early 70's were exciting times at the Castle. Jennings had been joined by Bruce Cervon, and the Vernon-Jennings-Cervon triumvirate was responsible for some astonishingly fine magic. Jennings '67 focuses on this fertile period, and offers not only routines and techniques, but historical information about its creation. As Richard Kaufman explains in his Introduction, this book is an overview, an introduction to the trilogy, and as such, it contains many tricks and a few sleights. The second volume will focus on simpler effects and Jennings' techniques for simple and intermediate level sleights. The third volume will focus on more difficult routines and sleights.

Six of Jennings '67s nine chapters focus on specific card plots or techniques; three of the chapters address more generalized subject matter. The first chapter, "Easy Does It, Mr. Jennings," allows the reader to try out some of the Jennings repertoire without overtaxing their technical abilities. Included here are a couple of amazing card locations, two handlings for Ed Marlo's "Touch Turned," a nice variation of Lin Searles' "Aces Up," and a remarkable "magician makes good" effect titled "Monarchs' Quartet." This trick appeared in Ultimate Secrets of Card Magic, but it lacked illustrations, and Lewis Ganson's explanation was difficult to understand. You'll be able to understand it here.

The second chapter, "Some Tools," includes Jennings' techniques for various sleights, including a Double Pushoff Double Lift, a Multiple Shift, a false riffle shuffle from Dad Stevens, and a Top Palm. I found two items to be of particular interest. The Circle Shift is a "slow pass" based on the Black Pass. I unknowingly reinvented a variation of this shift back in 1978 after a session with Roger Klause. The Circle Shift had been previously published in Richard's Almanac, but it seems to be little known. It is a very useful and deceptive shift. Also of interest was the discussion of the Immediate Bottom Placement, a method of card control better known as Convincing Control. (If you're unfamiliar with this concept, here's what happens: a selected card is secretly brought to the bottom of the deck while it appears as if the card remains in the center of the spread deck. It is a very deceptive sleight.) Kaufman discusses the evolution of this move, and explains two of Jennings' handlings for this technique.

Chapter Three focuses on routines which utilize the Gambler's Cop. I believe that this was one of Larry's favorite card moves, and in his hands it was a beautiful thing. Many magicians fear this move, but if performed adroitly and confidently and with the proper audience management it is completely deceptive. Included are a two card transposition, handlings for "Card to Pocket" and "Cards Across" (both of which use the principle of a children's trick in an ingenious way), and an effect in which a card escapes from a rubberbanded deck. In the two card transposition, Kaufman describes two handlings, one created in 1967 and one created in 1996. In this way we can see how Larry's thinking has evolved over the years. This comparison of old and new methods is repeated several times throughout the book.

You will find separate chapters devoted to the "Princess Trick," (included here is a fascinating attempt to reconstruct Dai Vernon's handling for this effect), Ace Assemblies, and "Twisting the Aces." Among the Ace Assemblies discussed are two handlings for the famous underground classic "Stencel's Aces." The first handling, from 1967, is a simplified version which is well within the abilities of the average card man. The second handling, developed in 1996, will require a bit more work. (Both, however, are easier than the original Stencel handling.) In case you're not aware, "Stencel's Aces" was one of the routines which eased Larry's introduction into the Los Angeles magic community. It was one of the first tricks he performed for Dai Vernon. (And curiously, here's another case where a fabulous trick has been in print for 12 years and I never see anyone doing it.) Of main interest in the "Twisting the Aces" chapter are several handlings of a routine known as "Pineapple Surprise." Jennings' version of this Walt Rollins plot has inspired many variations, but an accurate description of the original Jennings handling has not been published until now. Here's what happens: the Ace, Two, Three, and Four of Hearts go through a series of gyrations, turning face up and face down. The magician admits that he has used an extra card, and indeed, he now holds the four Heart cards plus an extra face down card. The face down card is shown to be the Five of Spades. Instantly, the other four cards turn into the Ace through Four of Spades. I predict that the gentlemen who make custom gaffed cards are going to be delighted that this routine has finally been published.

Finally, there is an entire chapter devoted to the evolution of Larry's most famous trick, the "Invisible Palm Aces" (you may be familiar with this routine under the name "Open Travellers"). This is not only one of Larry's best creations, it is one of the best routines in all of card magic. Kaufman details the history of the routine (including the inspirational sources), fully describes the five routines which led up to the development of the final incarnation, and gives a glimpse into some of the "inner circle" machinations which occurred at the Castle at that time. (In this regard, we are shown a rather Machevellian side to Dai Vernon which has not previously been discussed in print.) There have been many variations of the "Invisible Palm Aces" which have appeared since the original description was published in Alton Sharpe's Expert Card Mysteries, but I believe that Larry's version is the best, and in Jennings '67 you will get all the work on this wonderful trick.

For the intermediate and advanced card magician, this book is a must have and I recommend it very highly. The routines included encompass a wide range of effects and skill levels. And, on the remote chance that none of the effects appeal to you, there are, scattered throughout the book, Larry's handlings and finesses for a variety of sleights. I eagerly look forward to the second and third books of this trilogy. If they are of the quality of this first volume they will stand as a lasting memorial to one of magic's truly creative people - a man who left us much too soon.

Fundamentals of Magick

Fundamentals of Magick

Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.

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