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.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Frisk that disappeared and the magician that changed

On Monday, my magic maniac friends e-mailed me and said they were meeting at one of our magic bars in the evening again. I went to our other magic bar first, to hand over some souvenirs from Poland, and then went to the magic bar they said they would come to. They were not there, but three girls that said they know one of my friends were.


I e-mailed my friend and said "you are not here, but someone who knows you is". He replied that they were instead in the other magic bar (the one I had just left) and would come in a little bit... It took them about 2.5 hours before they got to the magic bar where I was (walking fast, you can go between these places in 5 minutes, and walking slowly it might take 10 minutes).


Anyway, we still had fun without them. Two of the girls had met my friend, and they had also met our boss of the magic bar. They said they had met someone from our magic bar and that he had showed them a magic trick. Our boss said it was probably him, but they said no. They described the magic trick, and everyone kept thinking "Yes, sounds like our boss". After a few minutes of them adding more information and everyone still saying "Yes, this guy here in front of you!" and them not believing it, they finally said "And his name was something like 'Uchi ... ...'". Yes, our boss, Uchiyama-san. Apparently, he has gained so much weight in these two years that they refused to believe it was him, haha. We (the rest of the staff) laughed a lot at this, though it is not the first time this has happened. People come with a pamphlet with a picture of him doing magic and say to his face: "We want to see this guy!", "Yes, that is me", "Nono, THIS guy" (again pointing at a picture of him), haha.


When my friend showed up from the other magic bar, he also had to do some magic for the girls. It turned out that the person who he gave his "huge Frisk breathmint" magic prop to was one of these girls. He complained a lot about giving that away, since it is a great and funny prop, and since it is no longer sold except in one very expensive shop... for about twice the price he originally paid. I finally got to meet the person who received (and apparently only used a few times) his Frisk. She was interested in learning some magic tricks, though, and even showed us a trick where she made a coin disappear and a card trick. I taught her how to make a business card levitate, kind of, which is what she is doing in the picture above.


After the regular guests left, we had a very entertaining mania meeting too. To decide who had to perform for the others, instead of drawing cards like we often do, everyone had to vanish a coin. Then the people watching had to guess where it went, and the person who fooled the least number of people had to perform magic for everyone. In a similar vein, everyone had to do the three card monte, and the person with the most people correctly guessing where the ace went had to do magic, and the person who fooled the least number of people with where the two sponges went had to perform etc. This was a great way to decide!


Birthday magic

On Sunday, one of our regulars in the magic bar celebrated his birthday, so we had a party at a restaurant with all the Twister staff and some other regular customers. There was a lot of good food, and this time there was also some party magic (normally, no one wants to do magic outside of work, so at our parties there is usually no magic). There was a bingo game were everyone except the birthday guy got bingo at the same time, there was a balloon swallowing contest (it was fun to see the non-magician actually managing to get around 40 cm of balloon into his mouth before gagging), and whatnot. I also did a magic trick where I divined which card the birthday guy had picked by hammering a nail into my nose (to connect this "antenna" to my brain, for telepathy reasons) and having him touch the nail. I also turned a 10,000 yen bill into a memorial bill with his face on it.


Wedding party

A small part of the cake that the groom's friends had secretly made.

On Saturday, one of our regulars in the magic bar got married. They had the "after party" in our magic bar, which meant lots of people and huge amounts of cake.


Our boss, dressed for the occasion in a suit. The suit looks a little bit tight... but I am sure that is because he is hiding so many  magic toys in there too.
They had planned quite a lot of party games for the after party but did not have time to do all of them. This meant that they had a bag full of panty hoses left, which they gave to my colleagues. Two of my colleagues then put these on their heads, and had a kind of tug of war. The first one to have his panty hose pulled off his head loses. Weird game...


Strangely enough, the bride stayed in our bar the whole night, at least until 7 A.M. when I left. The groom also showed up at around 4 A.M., so they at least spent their wedding night together... but why spend it in a magic bar!?


Birthday magic

Me wearing a t-shirt from Taiwan that says 単身 ("I am single" in Chinese) on the back and "I am single" in English on the front.
On Saturday I ended up sitting next to a girl who told me it was her birthday when I was eating. I have met her before, and she then told me that she and her friend (who has almost the same name) love magic, and even used to buy magic props, train a bit, and show random strangers in bars magic tricks! She wanted to see some "birthday magic", which I was not exactly prepared for, but I improvised some birthday magic tricks and she seemed very happy.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Hard to use cards

Last week, a customer came to our magic bar with a deck of cards of his own. He asked me to do some magic with these cards, and they turned out to be really really difficult to use. It is difficult even to tell the suits of the cards! The suit is written in the outer ring of the card, but the same suit can have a ring in different colors, and the same color can be used for different suits... In the end, I did some magic with those cards and he was happy enough.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Magic show

Sunday two weeks ago, I went to Futomi, a place close to Sweden Hills outside Sapporo. Some people I know were organizing an even for kids, and they wanted me to do a magic show at the event. It was around 15 kids, very young, and slightly more grown ups (parents, people organizing other things at the event).


I did around 25 minutes of magic. Producing lots of weird big boxes from and empty paper bag is always popular, as is multiplying Pikachu-sponges. I also did a bingo game magic trick on request. They were supposed to give all the kids a bag of snacks after the event, so they told me to do it in a bingo game. Everyone had a different bingo tray, and despite this all kids got bingo at the same time. Next time I will bring bingo trays for the parents too, and have only the kids get bingo.


After the magic show, I went with my friends to their house since they were scheduled to have a guest from Sweden later during that day. While waiting around, I found a deck of Tally Ho cards (popular with people doing card magic), but in mini size. Why would normal people have that lying around?

マジックショーの後、知り合いの家にも行った。その日の夕方に別のスウェーデン人も来る予定があった。待っていた時に、Tally Hoというメーカーのトランプ(マジシャンの人気ブランド)を見つけた。ミニのサイズだったけど。一般人が持っていると、何で?って思う(笑)

Magic and crabs

A few weeks ago a woman who I have met in several places came to our magic bar. She has come many times before, and we have met in other magic bars etc. too. She had three other guests with her, but all of them had been to for instance the magic snack "Ropossa" several times, so there were quite a lot of tricks I like to do that they had seen so many times that it was not really an option to do them...


They were eating some type of small crabs as snacks. They had too many and gave me a bunch of crabs too. They were quite good, though it felt a bit weird to eat the shells and everything.


Games and tequila

Sometimes our magic bar is open on Sundays. I stopped by a Sunday recently, and while some Sundays are pretty busy, this one was not. The owner and his girlfriend were there playing a card game. I joined the game, and later an actual customer also showed up and he also joined.


In Japan, most games in a bar lead to you drinking alcohol, i.e. if you lose at darts you have to take a shot of tequila. This card game was no exception. The game itself was quite nice. It is a German game, where you have a set of cards with the numbers 1 to 15. All players have one set like that each. There are also scoring cards, numbered from -5 to 10. These are shuffled randomly and one at a time are put on the table. You then select a card from your set of cards to try to get that scoring card with. The basic rule is that the person who uses the highest card will get the card on the table. You can only use each of your own cards once.


So using high cards to get high scoring cards would seem rational, but you have to factor in all other players and some special rules. If the scoring card has a negative value, the player with the lowest card will have to take the scoring card. If there is a draw, all players with the same number are ignored.


This was quite a psychological game, and I did not have to drink tequila more than one time despite over ten rounds.


Then we changed to a more luck based game, and I ended up having 7 shots of tequila in just a few rounds...


Saturday, March 3, 2012

Akira Fujiii cards ・ 藤井あきらトランプ

Apparently some of the chains of convenience stores here in Japan used to sell playing cards in collaboration with the magician Akira Fujii. He is frighteningly good with cards, but in Japan he is mostly famous for producing cards from his mouth (popularized by Bill Malone). The cards came with some explanations of magic tricks too, it says on the package. The jokers, and all the court cards, have Fujii-san's face. The quality of the cards is not great, though. One of our regular customers brought these cards to our magic bar.


Twister ・ ツイスター

Our magic bar is called Twister, as is this chocolate snack.