Friday, May 24, 2013

A majide again and again

I stayed in a hotel very close to the magic bar A Majide, so after the first day of the magic show in Osaka I stopped by there too. Despite being a quite small bar, they did a guillotine illusion the night I was there!


On Sunday, the only magic bar that is open in Osaka (as far as I know) is A Majide, so I went there on Sunday too. (I have heard that in Kobe there is another magic bar that is also open on Sundays, but then I would not have been able to make it to airport in time for my plane on Monday morning). On Sunday I met a girl who loves cosplay (dressing up like anime or game characters) and who is a huge fan of the same manga/anime that one of my magician colleagues in Sapporo loves. I also got a magic prop as a present, since they probably think I spend too much time in their bar.


Magic Panic 3 in Osaka

On my way back to Sapporo from my trip to Sweden, I stayed two days in Osaka. This weekend, the magic event "Magic Panic 3" was held there. It is organized by the French Drop magic shop and magic bar. This year, they had invited the "Fat Brothers", three quite large and very good magicians, to give lectures and do a show. There was also several shows by various Japanese magicians, and a close up magic competition.


For some reason there was a mini-skirt police outfit in the lobby

I went to the magic event almost straight from the airport. My plane was 30 minutes early in reaching Osaka, so I had just about the time to go by my hotel and leave my suitcase there.


There were about 100 people or so coming to the event. The location was a former warehouse that has been rebuilt with a stage and chairs in stepped rows. It is in a warehouse district and there was absolutely nothing else around there. The closest convenience store was about a 10 minutes walk away (which is very very far away by Japanese standards)! In a gift bag, you got a paddle and a pen, and an explanation of a small cute trick you can do with these.

The first morning had an opening session where two Japanese magicians did some parlor type magic.



Me and Christian Engblom, the only two people who could speak Swedish at the event.

Then, the first of the Fat Brothers, Christian Engblom from Finland, held his lecture. It was very nice. He showed some interesting effects and explained in very clear and easy to understand ways how to perform them. On effect was a very surprising and clean oil and water effect. Most of the things he showed were very clever uses of gimmicks, and not so much in the ways of super difficult moves.


Later in the corridors during the breaks, I did see Christian do quite a lot of super difficult moves too, though. He is famous for his "anti-Farrow", a way to spring the cards so you can separate every other card into two different piles, which he showed with a borrowed deck. He also showed that you can separate the cards in to pile of 1-2-1-2... etc. too. He also did a very impressive trick where he borrowed a deck, had someone name a number, "8" and used the four 8s. A spectator got to put the 8s back in the deck, either together or apart, face up or face down, or some face up and some face down, some together and some apart. The spectator then put the deck together, and shuffled the deck a bit too. Christian then said that he was going to deal poker hands, and asked how many ("4") and which hand should win ("3"). Then it looked like he did a very fair deal, but all the 8s ended up at person number 3...


Christian also speaks Swedish, which I did not know before. So we spoke Swedish to each other for a little while.


Miguel Angel Gea and me.

Next, it was time for the lecture from Miguel Angel Gea. He showed an taught some very impressive coin effects. The psychology and his thinking about things like that was also very interesting. He showed some fantastic things with coins, and some interesting things with a deck of cards and some rubber bands. Funniest and most impressive coin magic I have ever seen.


Danny DaOrtiz, and me. Photo taken by a guy who was super nervous when meeting this famous magician (probably not me) so all the photos he took are kind of blurry...

The last lecture was held by Dani DaOrtiz. He of course showed lots of crazy card magic. He said that the most important part in his performance is the psychological interaction with the spectators, the techniques with the fingers etc. are not so important and not so difficult. Though he did do some quite impressive things with his fingers too... When he explained some of the effects he had shown, it was quite interesting to realize that he was correct in that he did some fairly simple things but still no one caught on to what was going on because of the psychology. And I imagine it was more difficult than normal for him too, since he was doing everything with a guy translating for him, so the timing of the words was strange, there were long pauses waiting for translation, etc. Super funny, super impressive.


Ponta the Smith

After the lectures there was a dinner break, and then there was a close up magic show with lots of Japanese magicians. The performance I liked most was the first performance: Ponta the Smith (who works at French Drop, the organizers of the event) did some interesting coin magic. There were some other magicians doing other types of magic, and Takemiya from French Drop also showed some crystal ball contact juggling. Finally, there was also a hypnotist called Birdie who did a fairly long hypnotist show, which was pretty funny.


Since everyone there was a magician, there were lots of magic going on during the breaks too. I saw the magician Ars doing some very impressive things with a regular deck of cards.


The even continued the next day, and in the morning there was a close up magic contest. There were 10 contestants. The styles varied wildly. The first contestant, Kit Cut, was a young guy who had a very low key style but did very difficult card moves very well. My favorite was David Chinsuko, who came in and danced around to loud music, put chocolate covered bread sticks up his nostrils and then sucked the chocolate off the sticks with one nostril and blew it back to another stick with the other nostril in time to music... Very funny, and not low key at all. He quite surprisingly ate the bread sticks after the music finished. The winner was "Toriaezu Johnny", who received 200,000 yen.

次の日も色々あった。朝からクローズアップのコンテストがあった。全部で10人が出ていた。見せ方やキャラのスパンが広かった。トップバッターのKit Cutさんが地味な見せ方で凄く難しいトランプの技法と使ってきれいにマジックを見せてくれた。僕の一番好きな人はデイビッド・ちんすこだった。ポッキーとプレツを鼻に入れて、音楽に合わせて鼻でチョコレートをポッキーから吸って、プレツに出した。ワイルドな演技だった。超面白かった。最後にポッキーを食べたし。優勝は「とりあえずジョニー」だった。20万円も貰った。

After lunch it was time for the thing I had looked forward to the most, the Fat Brothers' Show. The three Fat Brothers came out together, did an opening trick together, then did magic one at a time, with one trick done all of them together between each act, and a final closing trick done together too. In total they did about two hours of magic. It was fantastic!


The opening with a sign card going from magician to magician in very mysterious ways was very fast and cool. Christian Engblom had a sign card end up in the chest pocket of his shirt, which he had never touched, and taken out by the spectator. Later it turned out that his shirt actually did not even have a chest pocket, which was very funny. Miguel did a coin matrix with 4 coins of different types and a spectator turning over the cards covering the coins. Dani did a very funny "self working" trick of the "do as I do" that turned more and more complex until no one seemed to be able to keep up and do what he did. He complained that perhaps the translations were incorrect, since the spectators that were supposed to keep up with him did not have the same amount of cards in their hands as he did, haha. They did some funny stuff with the "Wow" gimmick, and for the ending everyone did a different version of the triumph trick. A very very entertaining show.


This woman is a normal grown up Japanese woman (or slightly tall for being Japanese), but compared to the jacket of one of the Fat Brothers, show looks like a dwarf. You could fit four normal Japanese people in that jacket...

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Magic Bar Review: Stage show at Magic Bar Stockholm

I have been to Magic Bar Stockholm several times before (previous review of Magic Bar Stockholm). On Fridays and Saturdays they have a stage show, but I have never managed to catch one of these before. Usually I come to Sweden in July and then the stage show is closed for the summer (though they still show you table magic) and when I came here in the autumn once, the whole place was reserved for some party the only night I was in Sweden... But this time I managed to see the stage show, and it was great!



Normally, there is no table charge at Magic Bar Stockholm, you only pay for the things you order. On nights with the stage show, there is a small charge for watching the show too (though if you come early, eat and leave before the show starts I think you do not have to pay the charge on days with stage shows either). I met a man called Gunnar in the wardrobe, who gave me a sticker showing that I had paid for the show.


Then I went inside and got a table very close to the stage, which was good. There was a special "show night" menu, with three choices of two dish dinners. I picked the one called Houdini, which had marinated salmon with fried bread as a first dish, and meat with ratatouille and french fries for the second. I was there so early so that when I finished my food there was still about an hour until the stage show would start, so I also ordered a dessert. All the food was good (it has always been good when I have been to Magic Bar Stockholm before too).


While I was waiting for my food, the magician Anders Fox came to my table and did some magic for me. He did card tricks for me. When I watched him perform for the people at the table next to mine, he also did some rubber band magic tricks, and the "professor's nightmare" rope trick. He was pretty funny, and had a very energetic performance character. He came back to my table after I had finished all my food and did some more magic. He did a "do as I do" magic trick, with a funny presentation style. At some other tables he did a visitors card trick and some mental style effects.


When I went to the toilet, Gunnar in the wardrobe asked me if I knew a certain song (which I did) and who made it famous (I did not). He told me the name of the singer, and asked me to yell that to him when he asked for it on stage later, in case no one else knew the name of the singer.


Anders Fox
At slightly after nine, it was time for the stage show to start. By then, all the tables in the room with the stage were more or less full, and there were some people standing next to bar too. First, Anders Fox did half an hour of stage magic. He asked a woman to join him on stage and did a rope trick with her. A rope was cut in two, but the ropes never seemed to become equal length no matter how many times they were cut to size. The rope was cut and then restored again, etc. He then asked four men to come up on stage, and I was one of the four selected. We got to sit in a ring, lay our heads down in the knees of the guy behind us, and then the magician pulled away our chairs and we were locked in a weird "floating without balance" position. He finished by filling a glass with water and turning it upside down without the water falling out of the glass.


Gunnar on stage
Next, Gunnar from the wardrobe came on stage and said that it was an intermission now, and that during this break he was going to tell us something. He then started doing very impressive things with his voice, like talking with an echo, talking very very fast, talking as if playing the sound backwards, etc. He sang some songs and "showed" that if you sing a song backwards it becomes a song in Russian. I got to yell out the answer to his question regarding who had made a certain song popular, and what year that was.


Håkan Berg singing

Finally, Håkan Berg and his pianist Micke Svan (who played piano during the show) came on stage and did an extremely funny show. First, Håkan Berg did a fairly long stage magic show in the character of someone who believes he is the world's greatest magician but who makes almost every thing go wrong. Very funny. Then they did some singing, and some stand up comedy. The songs were nice, and the jokes very funny. There was some more magic, more songs, and more comedy. They were called back for an encore after they finished, and they did one more song then. I laughed so much it hurt. Håkan Berg is a genius.


A knot, spit out by Håkan Berg and landing next to my foot.

Me and Håkan Berg

Location: A little bit off but easily accessible by subway (2 minutes walk from the subway station).
Type of magic: stage show on weekends, close up every day (closed on Sundays)
Quality of magic: good, though I guess it may vary since there are different magicians working every week.
Cost: 125 SEK in stage show charge (less than 2000 yen), dinner course from 350 SEK (5000 yen or so).
Interior: Very nice.
Staff: Nice, but pretty slow service.
Overall impression: The close up magic was good but pretty standard. The stage show has two different magicians (or teams of magicians) each weekend, and you get to see two short shows. When I was there, one show was good, one was excellent.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Street magic in Stockholm

I was walking around in Stockholm looking for a new pair of shoes and passed a table that said "Magic Show". Just around the corner from a big cinema complex, a young guy was doing magic for tips. I asked him to show me something and he was happy to do so. While he was showing me some magic tricks, more people stopped to see what was going on, and after a while he had quite a crowd.


The magician who was called Robert Ace first talked about Houdini having a challenge where he believed no one could fool him if Houdini was allowed to watch the same trick three times but the now very famous magician Dai Vernon fooled him with a trick that is called the ambitious card (a card is put into the middle of the deck and comes to the top by magic). Then he showed me his own version of the ambitious card, and the card came to the top, flew to the  magician's mouth, and finally came out of a sealed compartment of his wallet.


He seemed a bit nervous, and sometimes his triple lift or palm would flash a bit, but he was very nice. He then did some coin tricks with a Swedish 5 kr coin, which ended with a jumbo 5 kr. Then he did an egg bag routine where a spectator made an egg appear in a bag that the same spectator had checked and determined to be empty. Finally he had three different spectators each pick a card, and then they held on to their own cards trapped between the palms of both hands. The magician the took away the cards from two spectators by magic and gave them to the last spectator. When the spectators opened their hands, two now had blank cards and one spectator had three cards instead of one, which they were all very surprised by.


After he finished, he gave me his business card and we talked for a minute or two. When I said I live in Japan he said a few phrases in Japanese to me too. It turns out he is going to go to Noda in Japan to train some form of Japanese martial art (that he has been training in Sweden too) and had learned some Japanese for the trip. If I remember correctly, that would be the same Japanese martial art that I once got a black belt in a long time ago. So that was a funny chance meeting with many strange coincidences.


Friday, May 10, 2013

Osaka stopover, French Drop and A Maji De

On my to Sweden to visit my relatives, I had a one night stay in Osaka. I arrived in the evening and took the time to visit the magic bars French Drop and A Majide.


Me and the French Drop magicians

The guys at French Drop remembered me, even thought I have only been there once before and that was about two years ago. There were three magicians there, Loki, Takemiya, and David Chinsuko. They were very funny to talk to, and they did a lot of magic for me. The funniest was David Chinsuko snorting the chocolate off Pocky-sticks when he had them stuck up his nostrils.


The A Majide counter and show table

I also visited the magic bar A Majide, which was very close to my hotel. I have been there several times recently, so they of course remembered me. Last time the master of the place kept talking about how good the sweets from Sapporo are, and how much he would like to eat such Sapporo sweets etc. I got the hint and brought a small pack of the most popular Sapporo gift sweets. As usual when I arrive, they were quite busy and a stage show was about to start. After the show was over, they were not busy at all, so we sat and talked about all kinds of things for a while.


Fork-bending, a new toy

Recently this type of fork bending (which is most often used as a gag) is quite popular in Sapporo. I like joke props too, so I bought myself one. But looking at a movie clip like this it looks more like a real magic trick than a joke. Which is also good, haha.


Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Tenyo 2013 Plus One Campaign: Sushi Mentalism ・ テンヨー2013年プラスワンキャンペーン「不思議な回り寿司」

Since I buy lots of magic props from Tenyo (sponge Pikachu etc.) I get lots of the little marks from their "plus one campaign" and I mailed in three marks last month too. This year the plus one campaign free magic prop is a set of sushi cards. With these sushi cards you can do three different magic tricks. All are mentalism type effects, where you predict something or you determine what type of sushi the spectator picked.


Yesterday I shot a movie of two of the tricks you can do. When we shot this movie, my cameraman also had to be the spectator, so he had to shuffle plates of sushi while holding the camera. This is why the shuffling is a bit slow, and the camera work a bit shaky.


The sushi cards represent conveyor belt sushi, with plates of different sushi. In the first trick the magician is looking away and the spectator simulates the conveyor belt by taking one plate at a time to the bottom. When a sushi he likes appears, he takes that off the conveyor belt. Putting both the selected sushi and the rest of the plates upside down, the magician can determine which sushi was chosen.


In the next trick, the spectator selects a place to start with all plates being upside down. After creating two piles of plates, the spectator can shuffle both piles freely. The magician then asks which sushi type the spectator prefers of the two types that ended up at the bottoms of the packs. After reordering the packs again, the spectator selects one more sushi that goes well with the first one he selected. After that the spectator can shuffle the plates again, and the magician then determines which two sushi plates were selected.


There is one more trick described in the sushi magic set, which is a mathematical trick. You place sushi plates in a ring, make a prediction, and the spectator then names any number from 1 to 9, and your predicted sushi turns out to be correct.


The cards are pretty nice, and the magic tricks are very easy to do. I have only tried them a few times, but the reactions have been fairly positive so far. No one seems to understand the workings of the tricks, and using sushi makes things more interesting that doing the same trick with regular cards.