About Me

My photo

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.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Santa doing magic ・ サンタがマジックをやっている

In Japan, people do not really celebrate Christmas. It is however a day when traditionally couples go to some fancy restaurant, or at least you have to go on a date. I was in our magic bar the whole evening (actually every day from December 22 to 25; 23rd is a holiday (the emperor's birthday) and 25th we were open despite it being a Sunday just because quite a few couples wanted to come) but I do not have anyone to date anyway, so that was OK.


The other two magicians both did their magic dressed as Santas. No pockets meant it was difficult to bring your stuff with you to the tables etc., and the suits were very hot.

We also had another couple where the guy proposed to his girlfriend in our magic bar. This time too, the girl said yes. A very cute couple.



Monday, December 19, 2011

The English native speaker "Dr Hato" ・ 英語のネイティブのドクター鳩

On Sunday I did a volunteer magic show for over 100 kids (and over 40 grownups). The English conversation school ECC had a Christmas party at the Toyohira Kumin Center. There is a huge stage there that was quite nice to use.


I showed up early to the party (my show was the final point in the programme) and played with the kids for two hours before doing the magic show. I was introduced as a native speaker of English (which was a surprise to me, haha) and as "Dr Hato". That is my user ID and mail address for many of my digital accounts, since I am a doctor (Ph.D. in computer science) and since Jonas comes from the Hebrew word for dove (as in the symbol of peace) and that would be "hato" in Japanese. It is not really a name I use when talking to people though, but they asked if they could introduce me like that and I said fine.


I did a 15 minute show for the kids and despite the angles being quite severe (people where mainly in front, but there were people behind, and to both sides as well, and some were looking more or less from underneath...) everything went well. The kids seemed very happy.


After the show, a girl of about five years came up to me and scolded me though. She said, "So you can speak Japanese! If you can speak Japanese, why didn't you talk to me in Japanese from the start?!"... :-) Well, I had been asked to speak English to all the kids since it was an English conversation practice thingy that held the party. Doing magic in English is difficult for me since I am not used to it, and impossible for the kids to follow along with anyway, so the magic show I did all in Japanese. The girl thought that for communication purposes it would be better to chose a language where we both are fluent enough to understand each other :-)


The end of an era ・ 手品卒業

Me in the cold winter Sapporo.
After our big stage magic show with the university magic club, there was a lot of clean up to do, but after that there was also a party. Every year, you have to make a promise ("I will not spill a single drop of juice from the glass of juice that I am going to make disappear") and if you cannot fulfil that promise you have to do something unpleasant ("I will eat the spiciest food they serve at the spiciest Indian restaurant in town").


This year it seemed this tradition had been removed, but I though my performance did not really live up to expectations so I decided to punish myself with my chosen punishment from last year (when everything went fine and I did not have to do anything). Traditionally, all the last year magicians (this is my last year) have to promise that they will be the number one performer of the year (which of course means most last year magicians cannot fulfil their promise...) So I spent the party (well, parties) and time between the parties wearing shorts and a t-shirt. Since Sapporo is fairly cold this time of year (minus 5 degrees Celsius on the night in question) I also put on a muffler.


The place where I spent two hours in shorts and a t-shirt (notice other people wearing jackets and coats since there are no walls, only plastic film...)
When we were waiting at the subway station (I got there by walking, but everyone was to gather at the subway station) for some people who were late, one of the other guys asked me: "What is up with your clothing?!". At the same time, he adjusted his own muffler, which I took as a sign that he wondered why I had a muffler. I answered: "I thought it was is a bit cold today, so I put on a muffler". Another guy standing next to us thought that was hysterically funny, so when other people came up and asked things like "What the hell is wrong with Jonas?" he would jump in and say "Ah, Jonas thinks it is cold outside today so he put on a muffler". One of the few times irony has been appreciated in Japan :-)


I chose a seat next to the gas burner.
Speaking of irony, it turned out that unlike last year when we were in a very hot restaurant, this year our party took place on top of the Norubesa building. On top, and not inside. There were plastic film making something like walls so it was at least no windy, but it was cold. The other people in general kept their coats and jackets on... This came as quite a(n unpleasant) surprise to me :-) I found a chair close to the gas burner keeping the staff vaguely warm, and sat there.


Flowers and a present.
In the magic club of our university you graduate after three years. This was my third year, so I was one of the people getting kicked out. At this final big party, we were all given flowers and a small present. The present turned out to be a small towel that when rolled up in a nice way looks like a piece of strawberry cake.


The 40th Magic Festival ・ 2011年12月17日「第40回Magic Festival」

The magicians that were on stage this year.
On December 17, the magic club of the university (which I am a member of) had its yearly big stage magic show. This year it was the 40th time for this event, which is called the "Magic Festival". We rented the Sapporo Kyouiku Bunka Kaikan, which has a nice stage, with lighting, sound, curtains etc.

2011年12月17日に北大奇術研究会(僕が入っている部活のマジッククラブ)の大きなステージマジックショーがあった。今年第40回目の「Magic Festival」だった。札幌の教育文化会館を借りて、ちゃんとしたステージでやった。

This is what pictures from my camera look like now...
Sadly, my camera decided that this was a good day to die, so I could take approximately 0 pictures back stage... It made a short recovery for two minutes, so I did get a few pictures of things I was not that interested in, but now I am using my super old camera until I have time to go buy a new one. Other people took pictures, though, so I will try to get their pictures later. And the whole thing was recorded with video cameras too, so I will put up a movie of my performance when those guys get finished with processing the videos.


Magicians waiting back stage, when my camera was still working.
The show started at 13:00 and went on for two hours with a short 10 minutes break. We had been working since 8:30 with preparations, though, and I had to do some stuff for my own performance too so I had been up since 6:30.


This year, the whole hall was sold out, so it was packed with people. I am told. When I was on stage, I had a very strong spotlight on me and no light on the audience, so I could not see anything at all.


Me producing lots of balls from a flower pot.
My performance went so-so. Several things could have been performed better, but the audience seemed happy enough. Every year there is a questionnaire where the audience members can vote on which performance they liked best. Last year the juggling group were number 1, the MCs where number 2, and I was number 3. This year I only made it to number 5 (of 18), but that is not bad I guess.


And some more balls.
I performed a routine from Tom Stone's book "Vortex". I like it a lot myself, though there is quite a lot of work for me to do before the performance even starts. People who came up to me later during the night said they liked it too but thought it was too short. They wanted to see more (this year everyone had been told to make their performances short, since there are too many active members, but not so many other people actually did...).

僕がTom Stoneの「Vortex」という本に載っているネタをやった。自分で見た時に大好きなネタだ。準備が結構大変だけど。ショーの後で話してくれた人がだいたい面白いと言ってくれたが「短かったね!」とか「早く終わっちゃったね」と言われた。もっと見たかったそうだ。今年演者が多すぎて、皆自分のパフォーマンスを短くして下さいと言われたからだったけど(他の人があまりしていなかったみたい、笑)。

Apart from me, there were about 30 other magicians that performed all kinds of magic. There were illusions; flowers, CD:s, balls, parasolls, etc. being produced; juggling; rope tricks, and much more.


I will be back with more pictures and a movie clip when I get my hands on them.


Friday, December 16, 2011

A girl from Hong Kong ・ 香港からの女の子

Yesterday it was Thursday, so not a day that I would normally be doing magic in our magic bar. It so happened that one of the other magicians were away doing magic in a restaurant and I helped out while he was away. With excellent timing, the bondswoman for my apartment called me and asked if I was working. I said that I did indeed happen to be working. So she came to our magic bar together with a friend from Hong Kong. They went to college together in the U.S.


So I ended up doing magic in English for them. I rarely do magic in English so it is a bit awkward. My English is much better than my Japanese, but since I always speak Japanese during magic, I do not know what to say when speaking English or even Swedish...


Later, two other friends showed up (separately) and I had a great time. One of them took a strange picture of me.


Another fun part was when another magician picked up a deck of cards and claimed that he could just by touch take a stack of cards with exactly the number of cards anyone else specified, as long as the number was around 10 cards or so. And indeed he can. I said I can do that with any number of cards, perfect every time. And I did do it about 7 or 8 times. My magician colleague kept saying "kitanai!" the whole time though, haha. That is Japanese for "dirty", here in the sense that your personality is dirty. He thought I was cheating.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Funny magic clip: David Williamson

I like David Williamson. He has a kind of bizarre humor that fits me very well. Here is a clip with him doing a card trick together with a Swedish woman. He also manages to be rude to all things Swedish :-)

David Williamsonというマジシャンが大好きだ。いかれたユーモアで、僕の好きな喋りなんだ。この動画ではスウェーデン人の女の人とカードマジックをやっている。スウェーデン人に関しての色々な失礼なことも言っちゃうし、笑。

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An American called Ben? ・ ベンというアメリカ人?

I have managed to book plane tickets to go to Saitama (near Tokyo) for New Years. My brother is coming to Saitama with his girlfriend. I got an e-mail saying that it would be good if I was still in Saitama on January 2, since then some of his girlfriend's friends are coming over and they want to see some magic. It also said, "By the way, she has told them that you are an American magician named Ben." It did not say why she would do such a thing...


Recent stuff ・ 最近の出来事

Recently I am very busy with work, and somewhat busy with rehearsals for our Christmas show (December 17). Apart from the rehearsals, not so much is happening on the magic side so the blog is kind of at a standstill. I bought a new Tenyo "The Third Eye" as a backup for when the one that people keep dropping all the time stops working.

At the rehearsals last week, I managed to fail spectacularly both times. The first time I managed to pretend to put something in my right hand (that would later disappear) but forgot to close the right hand so it was pretty obvious that there was nothing there... At the next rehearsal, which took place at a real stage with curtains, lights, and everything, I managed to not notice that my bag with all the things I was going to use during the trick had disappeared into the table somewhere while the table was being carried out onto the stage, so things did not start out great. Reaching down with the left hand to retrieve something when no one was looking, I suddenly realized that there was nothing there to retrieve... I also managed to forget the order of things that I was supposed to do, and forgot to grab my final load at the appropriate time. All in all, two funny disasters.

In our magic bar, one guy proposed to his girlfriend with support by magic during the weekend. That was a first, I think. It went well.