About Me

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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Book review: "Rune's World" by Rune Klan


The first time I heard of the Danish magician Rune Klan was in Rick Merrill's lecture DVD. Rick Merrill has a hilarious routine with a pen and a coin that he credits Rune Klan for inspiring/coming up with the basic trick. I love Rick Merrill's performance and decided to look up Rune Klan too.

Rune Klan has apparently done a DVD on coin magic quite some time ago, and recently the book "Rune's World". The book was said to contain both coin magic and stage magic mixed with stand up comedy. I am not particularly interested in coins, and wanted mainly the funny stuff, so I bought the book. And it is hysterically funny. A great buy.

The book has two parts. The first part contains close up magic with coins, a pen, and cards. Some of the stuff is quite challenging (difficult). Some of the stuff is really funny, like the "hitting a pen on your knee turns it into a coin" and the hiding a coin in the middle of your face, under your lower lip parts. Everything is explained in detail, with drawings and text. There are "moves" explained that can be used for many different things, and there are full routines using for example three coins to do a series of tricks with an overall story that makes sense. I liked this part of the book, especially the "funny" tricks.

The second part concerns stage magic and gags. It is done in the form of a comic book, with series of pictures showing Rune Klan doing some magic trick on stage. The explanations are mainly a cartoon Rune Klan with speech balloons where he tells you his thoughts on the trick and some details on how it is done. Many things are explained only very loosely ("I hide [something] by holding it behind [something else] from the start, then do ... , and then I pull out [first thing]"). Most people with basic knowledge of magic will know some method to accomplish the details left out or can figure it out without much work. The focus is not on teaching difficult moves or sleights, it is on showing interesting presentation ideas.

Some parts are magical routines (like the stage version of cups & balls with soccer balls and waste baskets, or the signed piece of sliced ham that ended up in bread insta-baked in a shoe despite being returned to the stack of ham), some are general presentation ideas ("I will do this trick to music." Puts on headphones and does trick to music no one else can hear"), some are quick gags (a disappearing pizza comes to mind). I loved this part of the book.

According to the background information in the book Rune Klan is mainly known for coin techniques by magicians but known for stand-up comedy using magic (with comedy being main) among "normal" people in Denmark. The book contains both, and I liked the comedy parts best.

The book says you should be over 18 to read it. It contains tricks with pictures of mostly naked women, disappearing tampons, sex dolls, etc. so I guess that is why. The contents of the book are not that risque though, so in Sweden I would not expect anyone to worry about young people getting their hands on this material.

I bought the book from Vahishing Inc and paid 60 dollars for it. This is a fair price I think. The book quality is not the best I have seen (the printing etc. is fine, but the binding feels cheap), but it is good enough. There is also a DVD included, showing Rune Klan performing some of the tricks in the book.

Language: English
Price: 60 US dollars
Pages: 180
Type of magic: close up magic (mostly coins but also cards) and stage magic (heavy on comedy)
Clarity of explanations: the close up tricks are very clearly explained and easy to follow; the stage magic tricks are not explained in detail (the point often being a funny presentation idea) but the explanations were good enough for me
Difficulty: a lot of the material is very easy, some is really hard
Amount of material: there is quite a lot of material despite being a fairly thin book, and half of it being comics
Overall impression: a great book, very very funny
Recommendation: if you like funny presentation ideas, definately buy this book

初めてデンマーク人のRune Klanさんのことを聞いたのがRick MerrillさんのレクチャーDVDだった。Rick Merrillさんがペンとコインで凄く面白いルーティンをやって、もともとのアイデアはRune Klanさんのアイデアだと言っている。Rick Merrillさんのそのルーティンが大好きなので、Rune Klanさんのことも調べてみた。

だいぶ前にコインのDVDを出したみたい。最近「Rune's World」という本も出した。本にコインマジックもお笑いと混ぜたステージマジックも入っていると書いてあった。僕がコインにそこまで興味ないし、ふざけてて面白いマジックが好きだし、本を買った。超面白い。買って良かった。


後半はステージマジックとお笑い的なギャグネタになる。テキストではなく、漫画になっている。Rune Klanさんの漫画キャラクターが色々なマジックやギャグをしている。説明は横にあるキャラクターの言うことだけ、割と大雑把な感じだ。例えば:「最初から○○を××の後ろで持っている…何かして…そして、○○を出す」。マジックの基本の知識があれば、その説明でもやろうとすれば多分出来ると思うから、いいんだけど。テクニックとかではなく、教えたいことは面白い見せ方のアイデアなんだ。



本のイントロダクションによれば、Rune Klanさんがマジック世界でコインの難しいマジックで有名なんだがデンマークの一般人から見たら、お笑いの人でちょっとマジックも使っているイメージだそうだ。本にコインマジックもお笑い系マジックも入っている。僕はコメディのところが一番好きだ。


僕が「Vahishing Inc」 から本を買った。60ドルでいい値段だと思う。本の質がまあまあだ。イラストとかが良いんだが背表紙のところとかがちょっと安物っぽい。DVDも付いている。Rune Klanさんが本に入っているマジックを見せている映像。


Funny Magic Clips: mechanical dove

Swedish magician Håkan Berg does magic with a mechanical dove on the "Talang 2011" TV show ("America's got talent", the Swedish version). Everyone is speaking Swedish, so for non-Swedes it may be hard to understand what is going on. Basically, the magician is being very confident before the tricks ("Very few people in the world can do this with a deck of cards!") and frustrated afterwards ("Dammit, it's a different color than the one that disappeared..."). The jury members are mainly laughing and saying "That dove is still flapping its wings." and "I can't stop laughing about that stupid dove!".

While actually being a very skilled magician, in the performance he manages to look really funny and natural doing everything (except the last production) wrong in the way a beginner with too much confidence would do things wrong. Very funny. I also love it when the water disappears from the cup and shoots out of his mouth.

スウェーデンのマジシャンのHåkan Berさんが「Talang 2011」というスウェーデンのテレビ番組(America's Got Talent(アメリカズ・ゴット・タレント)のスウェーデン版)でふざけてて面白いパフォーマンスをした。スウェーデン語で喋っているから、分かりづらいかもしれない。基本的にやる前にマジシャンが自信を持って「世界でこれが出来る人は俺以外あまりいないんだよね」とか言ったりして、やってからは困ってて、「うわ~、消えたやつと違う色だし…」とか独り言言ったりする。審査員が笑いながら「あの鳩がまだばたばたしているね!」とか、「あの鳩が超うけるんだけど」とか言っている。

実はマジックが上手なのに、 このパフォーマンスで面白くて、自然に自信のありすぎな初心者マジシャンと同じように全部(最後のプロダクション以外)失敗する。うける。カップから水が消えて、また口から飛び出る時も大好き。

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Magic bar review: Magic Bar Issey, Tokyo, Japan

Magic Bar Issey
I went to Magic Bar Issey on 2011-02-21 with a friend who also does magic as a hobby. Magic Bar Issey is located in Roppongi in Tokyo, Japan. They have a web page: http://www.magicbarissey.com The bar is quite conveniently located, close to the subway station. The price was reasonable, 6000 yen per person for 2 hours of unlimited drinking, or a 4500 yen table charge and a requirement to order something (which ends up being more or less 6000 yen too). Compared to Sapporo where I live, 6000 yen is expensive, but in Tokyo everything is expensive (compared to here) so it was not bad. Most magic bars I have been to in Tokyo cost about 6000 yen.

2011年2月21日に六本木にある「マジックバーIssey」に趣味でマジックをやっている友達と2人で行った。店のウェブページ: http://www.magicbarissey.com 地下鉄駅のすぐ近くにあって、行きやすい。6000円で2時間飲み放題で割とリーズナブルだった。ショットで行けば、4500円チャージもあるから、大した変わらない。僕が住んでいる札幌と比べたら6000円が高いが東京の物価が基本的にが札幌より高いから東京のマジックバーはだいたいそういう感じだ。

Garlic toast
When I was there, we first got to see a stage magic show, which was very nice. Magicians Shun and Seiju did all manner of tricks. They produced doves and other, larger, birds. They stuffed huge amounts of burning cigarettes in their mouths, they did illusions, produced a bowling ball from a sketch pad, dropped the head down to chest level, etc. etc. The tempo of the stage show was high, and it was very enjoyable. We sat at the table closest to the stage, so quite a few times you could actually see things that you were not supposed to see (thin wires, things almost but not quite hidden behind hands, etc.) though.


A signed card that came out of some impossible location, and a bent fork

After the stage show, Shun came to our table and did close up magic for us too. This too was good. A signed 1000 yen bill ended up inside a kiwi, a deformed and empty can of Coca Cola returned to its original shape and filled up with coke, a fork ended up being bent, and more. Later, Seiju did close up magic for a group of 6 people sitting at the table next to us, so we watched that too. Coins disappeared from the hand of one spectator and ended up under the watch of another, cards came to the top of the deck, which turned into a hamburger bento, and the signed card ended up inside an unopened bottle of tea etc. This group was there celebrating the birthday of one of the girls, so the staff came over with an empty metal pan that they poured lighter fluid in and set on fire. When closing the pan with a lid the fire went out and a big birthday cake appeared, which was funny.


Magician Shun, and me looking right into the flash...
The bar is quite small, but the interior is very nice. The staff were very nice. Seiju later came over and talked to us and when my friend said he had bought Seiju's DVD on coin magic we also got a lot of pointers on stuff that is not on the DVD either because it was forgotten at the time or that Seiju discovered later.


Me and magician Seiju
Location: Good (Roppongi, Tokyo, Japan)
Type of magic: Stage magic (including illusions) at fixed times, close up magic at all times.
Quality of magic: High (very skilled, funny magic shown)
Cost: 6000 yen
Interior: Very nice
Staff: Very nice
Food & drinks: food available, seemed OK though nothing special. Drinks, the usual selection.
Overall impression: A very nice experience. Would definately go again.


Funny Magic Clips: handkerchief magic

Here are two versions of the classic trick of taking a small handkerchief, placing it in your hand and making it disappear and reappear.


One of the most original versions I have ever seen is Ursula Martinez "Hanky Panky"... There are videos of it on the Net, but not on Youtube (well, the first half can be found on Youtube too). Youtube does not allow nudity. Here is one version: Ursula Martinez, Hanky Panky The dancing is just so... raw? bizarre? funny? The hand/finger movements are also very funny. The whole "it appeared from this piece of clothing this time, so I will remove this piece of clothing" storyline is a great idea. And the final production is weird/funny.

今まで観た一番衝撃的な見せ方はUrsula Martinezさんのパフォーマンスだ。ネットに動画があるが全裸はユーチューブで駄目なので、ユーチューブには前半しかない。全部観れるところは例えばここ:Ursula Martinez, Hanky Panky 音楽に合わせて踊ったりするのが…酷すぎ?やわい?面白い!指の動きの超うける。「ここから出たからこの服脱ぐね」というストーリーも良い考えだ。最後のオチもおかしいというか面白いというか。

A similar presentation is used by Brynolf & Ljung (who are also from Sweden, like me). This clip is from the "Talang 2009" TV show ("America's got talent", the Swedish version). One guy makes a handkercief vanish and the other says: "I know what you in the audience think! He is hiding it in [next piece of clothing]!" I especially like the part with what to do with the microphone.

次も似たような見せ方なんだ。スウェーデン人のBrynolf & Ljungというマジシャン組が「Talang 2009」というスウェーデンのテレビ番組(America's Got Talent(アメリカズ・ゴット・タレント)のスウェーデン版)でハンカチのマジックをした。1人がハンカチを消す。2人目が「お客さんが今何を考えているか、よ~く分かるよ!○○で隠している!」と言い出して、その言った服を脱いで貰う。全部脱ぐ時に、マイクはどうすればいいかって、そのところが一番好きだ、笑。

My first magic show, caught with my pants down


To get the blog started, here is a short anecdote from my first ever magic show. I was asked to to a 5 to 10 minutes show at a New Year party in a dorm where I lived for 6 months when I first came to Sapporo. At the time of this show, I no longer lived there but I still had quite a few friends that did. One of them was organizing the New Year party for the 30 or so students that were not going home for New Years.

Since I had not been doing magic for very long (about 1 year as a hobby, not yet a very intensive hobby) I did not have much to choose from when it came to interesting tricks to show in front of 30 to 40 people. I did a few tricks and most went over fairly well. I came up with an idea for a trick myself that I had not seen anyone do but is not very difficult, and this was quite popular.

Karate chopping a deck of cards.
The trick is this: a spectator comes up to help me and selects a card. He (in this case) showed it around to everyone except me, and then put it back in the middle of the deck (very fairly in the middle). Since this is Japan, the idea was to use "karate magic" to find the card. In practice, this meant that the spectator had to karate chop the deck of cards, and with some luck the selected card would come to the bottom of the deck when doing this. He chopped, but it was still the wrong card. I said that maybe he had to hit it harder, and that I would brace the deck on my leg (no table available) to help. He hit it again. The bottom card had not changed, but... since he now hit very hard, maybe it was too hard. If he felt my trousers, did he feel something strange? Yes, it felt like something that could be a card was stuck inside my trousers. So, he was too strong so the card had gone not only to the bottom of the deck but through my trousers!

Removing trousers.
So I said, "OK, I guess I will just have to take my pants off then." and most people laughed and thought it was a joke. When I started unbuttoning my belt, they seemed to realize that "this foreigner is crazy, he is actually doing it", and suddenly there were about 25 digital cameras pointed at me, recording movies. I took off my trousers and the spectator could take out the card that was indeed stuck there. It was his selected card.
Spectator removing card that was stuck inside trousers.

The method is obvious to anyone with basic card skills, but I like the presentation. I did the same trick with jumbo cards two months later at the house festival of the same dorm. There were about 100 people watching I think. Then I got a very serious 60 year old woman as my assistant and she seemed flustered when I started taking off my trousers. She laughed when she took out the card and found that it was her selection, though. I was later yelled at by the dorm administration that explained that in Japan you do not take off your pants in front of strangers. Especially children. Though the children of course laughed most of all :-) I have since performed this trick in bars and at children's parties too, and it seems to be quite popular. And it is a good excuse to wear funny underwear too :-)

Showing that it was the selected card!





Wednesday, September 28, 2011



I live in Sapporo, Japan (though I am originally from Sweden), where I have a part time job in "Magic bar Twister" (a magic bar, surprise surprise). I also do magic shows at kids parties, retirement homes, wedding parties, TV, other bars, etc. I also enjoy watching magic being performed by others and have gone to many magic bars in different places.

I plan to write about things related to magic that interest me or that I find funny. Hopefully there will be reviews of magic bars I have been to and other magic shows I have seen, reviews of magic products I own or know of through my friends, links to funny magic clips on the Internet, anecdotes from my magic performances, random musings on magic topics, etc. When I feel like it, I will also write a Japanese version of whatever I wrote. I need the practice, and most magic related friends I have are Japanese and do not know English very well.