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.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Running into famous magicians ・ 有名なマジシャンとの出会いの日

Saturday was a day full of excitement. At lunch, a system I built at my last place of work was presented on national TV. It is a system that creates word play jokes (of a low quality, but still) in Japanese. You tell the system what you want it to joke about, and it outputs some joke vaguely related to that. Sadly, the part were my name was mentioned was cut (it was my previous boss that was showing the system on TV). The system worked so-so when they tried it live (reportedly, it worked even better before they started taping). Well, I guess if the system becomes famous that is good :-) The explanation of how the system works was not correct, though...


In the afternoon I was visiting our local magic shop to talk to the owner, and then the most famous magician in Sapporo (probably) came to the shop (he is called Birdie Koyama). We did not talk though. I left when he came.


Later that night in our magic bar, we had a night of great customers coming in large numbers. Every magician had great reactions over and over again! Then, at around midnight, all the customers left and no new customers seemed to be coming either. After an hour or so, we drew cards to decide who would have to go (me) and I went out to buy hamburgers from our closest McDonald's in the middle of the night.


The bar was really really empty. We ate huge amounts of hamburgers in our bar, cleaned up, and then started watching clips on YouTube etc. Our boss fell asleep on a sofa.


Then, the phone rang and someone who was very impolite and very drunk asked where our bar was located and said they were coming. When I got back from the toilet, two men were sitting at the counter, and one of them was a typical "Oh, no, this is going to be difficult" customer, haha. He was pretty drunk, and kept shouting that "everyone needs to be more fun now!" and talking about how they had come from Tokyo just to have fun in our magic bar (at 3:30 in the morning :-)


We usually do magic one at a time for the customers, and our youngest magician started performing for them first. One of them was quiet and a very nice spectator, the other was fairly loud, kept talking about other things, or saying things like "No, not that trick, I want to see something else." or "Call in the next magician"...


I went to take out some stuff from my bag of tools, and another colleague went to fetch something too. I did not notice anything, but my colleague came back and said in a very quiet voice: "Isn't the closest guy <name of VERY famous magician>?" Taking a closer look, it could very well be him... And when he turned to me and asked if I was American, there was no doubt. One of the Gods of magic had showed up unannounced in our magic bar, haha.


I started thinking furiously to find some tricks I could show that he would be likely to a) enjoy, b) not have seen a million times before, and c) not be able to figure out where they were going even before the trick started... That did not leave so many tricks, since he likely has seen most magic tricks ever invented.


Our young magician performed all his magic without noticing who he was doing magic for. He did things like hand over the most standard coin used by magicians and say: "This is an American half dollar. It is slightly bigger than a Japanese 500 yen coin. Please check it see what it feels like." That guy has been touching coins like that since before you were born! Haha. But not knowing may be the best. Then you do not feel nervous, at least. Even if he felt a little embarrassed afterwards of having explained really basic stuff to a magic legend, haha.


Next up, my other colleague went to perform for them, but they loud guy said he did not want to see his magic, so he came back and I went instead. I first hammered a nail into my nose to use as an antenna when mindreading what card the famous magician might have picked. Then I tried my true and trusted "lighter turns into a box of matches" trick that I did not invent but that I at least built myself from scratch and which is so easy a beginner can do it without fail after a few minutes of practice and which I have used over and over for two years. During those two years, I have only screwed up the trick once, but yesterday of course turned into my second, and largest to date, haha, failure during these two years... nice timing there. Maybe my hands were shaking too much?


The loud guy (who was the producer of the famous magician, and who has invented several very famous and popular tricks) said he was only interested in original tricks. I tried performing an original, but not that hard to understand for magicians, card trick that I think has a funny presentation, but the loud guy just took one card at an inopportune time and said: "This is the kicker, yes? This is how the trick ends?" and was uninterested. He was right, too, of course, but still a very difficult type of customer to perform for...


The two of them were very very funny together though. Whenever the loud guy said something rude, not necessarily to us but about some magician on TV or something like that, the famous magician would slap him or hit him over the head with the menu, etc. They were like a stand up comedy duo, and a funny one at that. After awhile, the loud guy who had seemed like a very very annoying type of customer turned into a very funny customer (still very annoying to try to perform magic for, but still). In the end, I liked him very much. The famous guy was a great customer from start, throughout the whole time, and seemed like a super nice person. Still a bit hard to perform for, because of nerves and the fact that he probably knows so very much about magic. And that they both are rarely fooled by magic so you have zero feedback when performing since they are never surprised or applauding etc.



Anyway, I did another mental type trick where the loud guy picked a card, put it back somewhere in the deck, and I shuffled in a very fair way. I delt cards and one of them said stop, and of course the next card in the deck was the selected card. I also showed a stack of pictures of famous people (Johnny Depp, Tom Cruise, etc.) and had the famous magician say stop and he stopped on a card with a picture of me every time. A trick I made last week. Finally, I also did a card trick with my hiragana practice cards, and I produced a salmon sushi from my t-shirt. The famous magician at least seemed to like it when I hammered a nail into my nose to figure out his card, and when I produced the sushi from my t-shirt showing a salmon eating salmon sushi.


Then my colleague that was first sent back did some magic too. He did mainly tricks that you would expect serious magicians to know, and the loud guy was complaining a lot ("Ah, not a Maya Issey trick, show us something we don't know...") while the famous guy was a very kind spectator.


Finally, our boss did a fairly standard trick in a way presented on a DVD that is recently popular but very difficult. Both of them suddenly seemed very interested, and they were impressed. Our boss is of course very good at what he does, but making people like those two impressed is quite a feat I think. First our boss tried with: "What would you say if I did a trick with the Chinese rings?" but one guy replied: "I would punch you in the face", haha, so he did not do that trick.


We all talked for awhile, which was very nice and a lot of fun. The two of them also wanted to do some magic for us, and borrowed some cards. The loud guy went first, but it was a little unclear what exactly he tried to show (he was by then very very drunk). The famous magician then did a card effect where it turned out that a card mentally selected by one of us was located in the famous magician's pocket.


Then they left, and we sat down to talk a bit and calm our nerves.


A very exciting night! It was very nice to have met him in real life, though thinking back now there are some other tricks I do that would probably be more fun for him to watch, and it was a bit embarrassing to manage to fail with my lighter... But he was a very nice person. The loud guy at first seemed like quite the opposite of a nice person, but turned out to be a lot of fun, and was probably not serious about all of the bad stuff he said, haha. I liked them both.


Their timing was not the greatest. Everyone had been doing lots of magic, and with really high tension, so we were all super tired. Then there was about three hours of nothing to do in the middle of the night, making everything worse. So if they had showed up some other day, we might have been even more fun to watch. But at least they did not show up right when we were eating hamburgers. Considering this magician is famously connected to hamburgers, that would have been weird but really funny :-)


Here is a clip of me doing the lighter trick properly on TV:

Friday, April 27, 2012

Excellent card trick ・ 素晴らしいカードマジック

This card routine by Helder Guimaraes is incredible.

Helder Guimaraesさんのこのカードマジック、凄い不思議だ。感動。

Monday, April 23, 2012

Birthday party magic ・ 誕生日パーティーでマジックショー

Cute cake

On Sunday I did a short magic show at a friend's place. It was a birthday party for a five year old boy, so the audience was made up of kids of around four to five years, and their parents. Everyone seemed to enjoy the magic, and then there was cake, wine, food, etc. so I too had a great time.

Kids and parents

Home made banana bread based cake!

Food from fans ・ ファンからの食べ物

On Saturday, a girl who comes to our magic bar a lot (the same girl who judged our magic contest last week) showed up bringing food for all the staff. She works as a chef in a Chinese restaurant, so she had made gyoza and spring rolls for us. Very nice.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Magic Clip: Offensive magic trick ・ マジック動画:酷いマジック


I laughed at this magic trick.


New Ideas ・ 新しいアイデア

Yesterday I went to talk to one of my friends who is not a magician. His father was a magician, though, so he knows quite a lot about magic, and we often have fruitful discussions on new ideas for magic tricks, or interesting presentation ideas/stories for tricks I come up with.

Yesterday I showed him a trick I made myself. It has four cards that says "Win" in Japanese, and one that says "Lose". You can present it as a gambling trick, where you give the spectator 1000 yen for selecting any "Win" card, and have them pay you 50 yen if by some chance they happen to take the "Lose" card. You can shuffle the cards very cleanly, and then tell them that you will take cards from the top to the bottom, and whenever they want they say stop, and they get whatever card is on top. Really clean, very fair (or at least looks that way :-). Every time, they stop on the "Lose" card, even though the odds are greatly in favor of winning.

My friend, who knows much about magic and thus is rarely completely fooled (he usually has some idea of how you could do most tricks) thought it was very very strange and seemed to have no idea what was going on. We then discussed better presentation ideas than "Win" and "Lose". I will try to make a set of photos of popular actors (Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, etc.) and myself. Using this as "what is your ideal type of man", people will end up with me, every time. I also think "Slap me" vs. "Kiss me" cards could be fun.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Magic Maniac Competition ・ マジックマニアの勝負

Yesterday we once again had one of our pretty much weekly "magic maniac" meetings. The regular members consisting of me (computer science researcher), U (barber), and O (udon chef) were of course there. Since we were in the magic bar I go to during the weekends, two of the magicians there were also available, though one left early. There was also a farmer who I have met once or twice before who does mental magic.


At around 1 a.m. all regular customers had left, except one young girl. She has been in our magic bar several times before, and I guess she likes magic quite a lot. We were having the maniac meeting, but since she was all alone we invited her to our table. Normally, we do some kind of game were you have 10 seconds to make a coin disappear, and then the others guess were it is. The person who fools the least number of people has do perform some high level magic trick for the others.


This time, we decided to instead do competition rounds were everyone did one magic trick for the girl (and the other magicians), and she then decided which performance she liked the best. I had brought some new things aimed at maniacs, and had left all my "works really well on young women" stuff at home... And I had already done most of my normal repertoire for her the two times she had seen me perform in the magic bar before.


The competitors were me, my young magic bar colleague (our boss had to leave before the competition got going, though he was part of the normal maniac stuff we did first), U, O, and the farmer.


The first round had lots of different types of magic. This was true for all the first three rounds. For example, the farmer did various mind reading/prediction effects; U did his one coin routine, a ring and rope routine ending with a huge (fake) diamond appearing on the ring on the spectators finger, a card trick were all cards were white but then turned into normal cards except one card from which a hamburger appeared; my colleague did a card effect with a strange lens, a "do as I do" thing with a sea lion, a "cut off finger in a box" thing, etc.; I did a card effect were all cards except the chosen one turned into the 9 of hearts, switched out a 0 yen fake bill for a 1000 yen bill that the girl had brought herself that she held in her hand, and something else; O did a card trick were lots of udon appeared, made Frisk breathmints turn big in several ways, and much more.


The first round was won by a mental effect by the farmer. The second round I won, with my new 0 yen/1000 yen changing places in the spectator's hand trick. The third round was won by O with his udon produced from a deck of card trick.


For the fourth round, people were running out of new material. O suggested the girl could make a request, and then everyone had to do that trick in their own way. She said she wanted to see something disappear. This was a very fun challenge. The mentalist went first and had her write something down that she dislikes. He then divined what she disliked without looking, and told her that he had psychically made those bad things disappear. My colleague and O both made a whole deck of cards disappear. U made some coins disappear. I first made a rubber band disappear, but that did not go over well, so I took out a handkerchief and made a lighter, a box of cigarettes, and a 2 liter bottle of tea disappear. The tea won some appreciation by it being really big, but the other magicians disputed that that should mean I won, haha. I claimed victory by way of having the sense to pick the best trick to impress with, even if the actual disappearing may or may not have happened elsewhere.


The girl was probably very happy with having several hours of private magic show. I left at around 6:20 a.m. (I have to work during the days) but some people were still left then (more customers showed up around 4 a.m. too).


Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Magic Mania Movie ・ 久し振りのマニア会動画

Today I went to one of our magic bars to talk about The Walking Dead (which just finished its second season here in Japan yesterday) with one of my colleagues there. There were lots of magic maniacs there, though, so we did not have much chance to talk about TV shows. Instead, I managed to get a nice clip showing one of my friends doing a funny routine with flies.


Sunday, April 8, 2012

The night when the sushi I produced from my T-shirt became real! ・ ティシャツから出てきた寿司が本物になった!

My fake salmon sushi, on top of some other magic props, looking more real than usual.
Yesterday I was wearing my "salmon eating salmon sushi" T-shirt and whenever a customer in our magic bar asked me about the shirt, I would produce one or two pieces of sushi from the shirt. These are not real sushi, though. Later, at around 1 A.M. when all customers had left to catch the last subway and the next wave of customers that turn up at around 3 or 4 A.M. (when many other places close) showed up, we were sitting down watching clips on YouTube etc. My boss told me: "Jonas, could you hand me those sushi you use."


I reached over to my bag, on top of which I have some cards, a matchbox that used to be a lighter, some other magic props that I used during the night, and my fake sushi. When I touched the sushi, I noticed that something was off; it felt cold... I was very surprised and pulled back my arm quickly, much to the delight of everyone else... My boss was laughing like crazy. Upon closer inspection, my fake sushi seemed to have turned into real sushi! It was placed exactly where I had left my sushi, and was the same type, size, etc. Except, it was real. I was very surprised.


Apparently, while I was seeing some customers off at the elevator, my boss had pocketed my fake sushi and replaced them with real sushi. During the early hours before the big rush of customers showed up, he had gone to the convenience store to by more cigarettes or whatnot, and there he had seen salmons sushi. He then thought: "This is it! What a great chance!", and bought a 10 piece sushi set just to trick me 5 hours later. It is great to have colleagues like that, haha. Though I did have to wipe off some of my other props that had become sticky from the rice of the real sushi placed on top of them, haha.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Disappearing nose!

My boss in the magic bar can make his nose disappear, which looks weird.