Monday, May 31, 2010

Project 365 (164/365): Dai Vernon

.:164/365: Dai Vernon:.

It seemed fitting to end card magic month by giving tribute to arguably the most famous name in card sleights and magic among magicians for decades already: the Professor, Dai Vernon.

According to Wikipedia, the man born David Frederick Wingfield Verner, Dai started magic at seven years of age, even remarking that he “wasted the first six years” of his life by not doing magic. His eventual stage name, Dai Vernon, was the amalgam of two misattributions to his first and last name that became so persistent, they ended up being his name.

Arguably the most influential magician of the last two or even three generations, Dai Vernon’s renown is possibly topped only by the likes of Erdnase and equalled only by Marlo when it comes to the magic industry. Nonetheless, his ability to perform, to impart knowledge, and ultimately, to mentor such luminaries in the magic world such as Ricky Jay and Michael Ammar, both performers that have been discussed earlier on this month.

With his wide body of knowledge, Vernon has managed to capture the imagination of both magicians and card sharks throughout the 20th century. He has invented or discovered sleights and moves that have allowed him to actually fool none other than Harry Houdini himself seven times with the exact same card trick, which has earned him the monicker “The Man Who Fooled Houdini,” and rightfully so.

The things we now take for granted, such as the DL, the Ambitious Card, and other similar moves and principles were all bits and pieces that Dai Vernon has managed to bring into the forefront for our generation. It cannot be stated enough how his devotion to the art of magic throughout his entire life has shaped future magicians who learned from the man not only his skills and his knowledge, but his work ethics as well. With today’s world of get-famous-quick magicians as peddled by certain unscrupulous magic merchants who prey on the craze magic has become in the last decade, Dai Vernon’s influence is one that emphasizes meticulousness, mastery, subtlety, and finesse in performance.

Dai Vernon spent the last three decades of his life in the Magic Castle, as a resident prestidigitationist of sorts in its hallowed halls, which has given him the opportunity to mentor the luminaries we have earlier mentioned. Anyone who could catch the infamous video series called “Dai Vernon: Revelations” would see precisely the kind of perfectionism and pride that Dai Vernon places upon his work and those of his
mentees and contemporaries.

Magic is experiencing a rebirth of sorts, with much thanks to the rise of street magic from Blaine and (Ugh.) Criss Angel. As such, the new generation has bypassed some of the gatekeepers of old, Dai Vernon being one of them. It is with the fervent hope that this reaches a new generation of magicians that I write this Project 365, both as a journey into the kind of magic I’ve exposed myself to, as well as the kind of history that I have dug up, being an avid student of the art, albeit I don’t have the kind of experience under the belt my elders have.

It’s all about respect for the art, and knowing those who came before us. Before we blaze a new trail, we need to know what trail we already walk upon.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Project 365 Bonanza (159-163/365)

Since I'm not going to be in town for a few days starting tomorrow, I figured it would be best if I made my posts in advance rather than made them after the vacation. Hope you like them all!

.:163/365: Rock And Roll Aces:.

Ever wanted to learn a routine that requires nothing but constant repetition of basic card sleights from you? Elmsley? Flustration? DL’s?

Well, Rock and Roll Aces is definitely the routine for you, with a simple script, and very methodic, systematic moves meant less for superb magic and more for acquainting a beginner magician with basic card moves that are necessary for one’s progression in the art form.

Watch how simple the routine really is, and see if you can follow what’s going on. The fact that it’s performed silently helps you piece together the logic of each and every move involved, and it makes for a very entertaining way to train yourself as sleights can only get harder and harder as you progress, yet your job is to constantly make it look like you’re not doing a single one, to begin with.

Rock and Roll Aces may not be the most impressive card routine out there, but mastery of the routine would reap major dividends for a beginner card magician wishing to step into

.:162/365: Closeup Illusion:.

The close up illusion was supposed to be something I’d talk about in Stage Illusions month, but I decided to talk about it right now instead because it’s one of my favourite packet routines of all time. It’s a pretty awesome head-scratcher and really hits the spot, since it achieves the seemingly impossible card penetration with the most minimal tools: a measly three cards, as opposed to an entire deck, in the case of Raise-Rise or Fallen.

That this routine is performed as though it were a true illusion like the ones you see onstage makes it all the better. The script is very simple, but the visuals accompanying the script, out and out penetration occurring right before your very eyes, is undoubtedly a thing of beauty. The card melting through is just so stark and visual that you can’t help but be stunned at it happening so plainly in front of you.

For the most part, I also like the simplicity of performing this routine. I was never fond of excessive sleights, and this has next to none, yet the eye-popping results are simply awesome. Keep on watching this routine as often as you can, because it just never gets old, even for someone like me, who already knows how it’s done.

Anyways, there are many people who have done this, including Copperfield himself, but the first version I learned was by Geoff Williams in his “Miracles For Mortals” video.

.:161/365: Raise-Rise:.

Now, if you really wanted to perform something like Daniel Garcia’s Fallen, I personally believe this is the better routine to do it with.

There are many versions and names for Raise-Rise: Elevator, Lazy Rise, Shifty, all of these are variations of the same principle: take any card, and magically make it rise from near the bottom of the deck all the way to the top of the deck, all the while keeping the card in apparent full view at all times as it magically melts from card to card.

It’s visual, it’s impromptu, and most of all, it’s nowhere near as angle-sensitive as “Fallen”. The magic is clean the minute the card has jumped places, as opposed to the amount of time you’re “dirty” when performing Fallen. There is just no comparison, when it comes down to these two routines, in all honesty.

I have seen multiple versions of this routine while looking around for videos, and I must say that every single video that was properly done has impressed me far more than Daniel Garcia’s performance of his own take on the card melting to the top routine. Half of these performers aren’t even named magicians, so that underscores how strong these routines are as opposed to the other one I’ve been maligning for quite a while already.

.:160/365: Elevation:.

Card transpositions are very tricky, but when done properly, the results can be mind-boggling, to say the least. Elevation is one such routine.

The script is rather simple: you can make a deck of cards act as an elevator, sending four suits of the same card from top to bottom of the deck in rapid-fire fashion, without having to break into a sweat as you put each card in the middle of the deck. The routine has to be fast-paced, because it’s really the best way to present this one, and the performer definitely did well in this regard.

This routine reminds me of that old 3-jack routine everyone seems to know about. It’s one of the first tricks a non-magician would learn to do with cards.

.:159/365: The Haunted Deck:.

I used to have this routine in my arsenal, but it got a little too clunky for my tastes, when I specialized in street magic.

Looking back, though, I realize that I may have not given this routine a fair shake and go back to it at some point. It has the makings of a powerful performance simply because there’s something very surreal about seeing a deck move on its own to reveal a selected card or two or three. I know this would’ve been best for Supernatural month in November, but I guess I’d rather go over it now, to at least remind myself to give this routine in particular a second look. I do believe it has a lot of potential, and with the perfect script, it can definitely take you places.

It’s very impressive the way the deck just moves right in your hands. Watching it just do that slowly and eerily tends to have quite an effect on you, especially since it’s something that would often happen virtually unannounced and silently in order to maximize the impact of the apparent ghostly apparition.

By the way, for the more knowledgeable out there, what nationality is Jay Noblezada exactly? He looks very Filipino to me.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Project 365 (157/365): Stigmata

.:157/365: Stigmata:.

This was a routine I was hoping to save for street magic month, but I think it’s fine enough as is as a card routine, although in reality, it’s a bit of mentalism on the side as well.

Stigmata is a classic that for some weird reason, i forgot to continue using despite the obviously powerful mileage that this routine really gets if you ever bothered to learn how to play it up. The mechanics are very simple, but I must warn you that it’s not very camera-friendly as a routine, so don’t try doing it for the video, unless you have an HD camera that could really show what happened.

Essentially, the mechanics are as follows: they pick a card, and then they can do whatever they want with it, like maybe shuffle it back in or whatnot. Afterwards, they focus on the card and imagine the card imprinted in their hand, and then they reach out to clutch your arm as tightly as possible.

Where the finger marks should be, the blood slowly rushes and forms the figure of the card they selected. If your spectators have a wild imagination, watch how crazy their reactions can get. You’d personally be amused.

I like this routine because it’s very simple and yet it can generate pandemonium given the right circumstances. People go nuts over it, because if you think about the whole routine itself, the layout can be quite creepy if you start attributing anything to something otherworldly or spiritual.

If you know how to do this, and you haven’t for a long time, do yourself a favour and give it a try. It’s refreshing getting those insane reactions all over again.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Taumbayan Last Friday: A Total Blast!

.:Yet Another Successful Taumbayan Variety Night!:.

Last Friday, myself, Stanley Chi, and the great Ony Carcamo took Taumbayan by storm one more time as we performed for a packed house in T. Gener corner K-1st in the Kamuning area. It was a night filled with laughs and gasps, and I was pretty happy about how things went for everyone that night, as I went significantly longer than I normally do, going for a full half-hour of magic and comedy as I established the rhythm for the other performers that night.

I opened with the Coloring Book repeat, followed with some shackles and some rope, then went off to do some good ol’ mentalism by doing some card improv, the shaker, some psychokinesis, and of course, the piece de resistance, levitation.

Stanley was on fire last Friday as he went close to half an hour of old and new (!) material that just had everyone chuckling and then guffawing like mad. The audience was a perfect mix, as half of the audience were laughing because they got the 80’s jokes, and the other half were laughing because they realized they were too young to get the joke.

It was a great run-up, really, because after about an hour’s worth of performances, after packing the house to the point that people were actually watching us by the stairs already since the venue had two floors worth of people watching, sir Ony Carcamo took to the stage and gave everyone more than their money’s worth by doing an hour of amazing ventriloquism. Everyone was in stitches over how funny the jokes were, and he even did his own brand of mentalism while he was at it, as he joked around and “botched” predictions left and right, only to prove to everyone that he knew all along what was going to happen.

All in all, this was a pretty amazing show, and I even managed to sit down and chat with none other than John Lapuz that night, whose movie, “Here Comes The Bride,” I was especially fond of. Hopefully, when we do our show again next month, even more people would come and see it, because at 150 bucks, the show is practically a steal.

Thanks, everyone! You can expect more from us in the days to come.

Project 365 (155/365): Grandfather's Aces

.:155/365 Grandfather’s Aces:.

This routine just screams “elegance” from top to bottom, don’t you think?

David Copperfield proves once again why many consider him the greatest magician of our generation, as he does what is supposed to be a simple card routine, yet he does it with so much flair and win.

The routine, on the surface, is rather simple: produce four aces magically, then lay out three indifferent cards with each ace. Then, make each other ace disappear, and have them reappear as the three cards set aside under the ace of spades.

Now, doing the motions for this effect would be elegant enough as is, but Mr. Copperfield decided to take it one step further by doing the motions in tune with the music that he selected. This synchronicity that he has managed to convey is nothing short of genius, as I am flat-out dumbstruck over how well he pulled off his routines, to say the least.

This is one of those routines that you simply want to do from start to finish in almost the exact same move for move that David Copperfield performed it, with the same musical score backing you up. It almost feels like you’re part of the orchestra that plays in the background as you are performing as you move harmoniously and in time with the music. I cannot convey my admiration for this routine enough.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Project 365 (154/365): Fallen

.:154/365: Fallen:.

Ladies and gentlemen, here lies a ripoff of a routine, especially when you consider that this dreck was sold as a full-priced DVD.

Even the average layman who watches the performance can easily decipher the method for this one, and what’s worse, it’s one of the most angle-sensitive routines I’ve ever seen, completely defeating the purpose of having good, fast-paced, and impromptu magic on the streets. This routine just really makes you wish you could do something else, like, say, just actually learn the mechanics of a real Elevator routine, and reap the benefits of that one instead.

To be honest, this has got to be Daniel Garcia’s worst output, and I found it incredibly disappointing. He’s had a lot of great material, and his Project has been nothing but awesome, but this particular video screams “ripoff” if you ever planned to pay your hard-earned money to learn how to do Fallen.

The script is indeed simple: take a card, make it magically melt from the middle all the way to the top of the deck, visually, and quickly. Unfortunately, this assumes that your spectators are stupid enough to just stare at your hands dead-on as you perform this routine, and I can assure you that no amount of crowd control would let you get away with this one if you ever performed for more than one person.

And really, this is why I featured Fallen today: to warn would-be magicians out there not to fall for the hype of the E or Theory 11 and just go buy everything they churn out without first listening to some honest opinions from working magicians out there if the routine was worth the DVD it’s burned on, or the money you’d part with for it.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Project 365 (153/365): The Stripper Deck

.:153/365: The Stripper Deck:.

Laymen have to appreciate the fact that I am using official terms for some of the stuff I talk about here, even if I still stop short of actually spoiling any actual secrets. In the event a layman ever wants to learn magic, they will find it easy to get into it by referring to this blog simply because I have referred to most routines, gimmicks, and other similar stuff by their proper names, majority of the time.

The stripper deck is no such exception, and is one of my personal favourites in magic simply because it can do so much yet require so little, and stands up to a lot of scrutiny from sceptics, for the most part. The applications are nearly limitless, and considering how clean the deck is, the things you can do with it are unbelievable: you can do routines that require a regular deck, and on top of that, you can do routines that are possible only with a stripper deck. What’s not to like, really?

Well, if even the great Paul Potassy utilizes the Stripper Deck in one of his most powerful effects ever, who am I to argue with success? I just can’t emphasize enough how useful this deck is, because it’s proof eternal that there’s always more than one way to skin a cat. If it’s good enough for a Paul Potassy, it’s good enough for me.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Project 365 (152/365): Indecent

.:152/365: Indecent:.

Oh, you, Ellusionist and your false advertising! ::rolls eyes::

This is a pretty strong routine, but the demo video is misleading in that it’s a lot more powerful than the routine really is, if you’re not a layman. Nonetheless, Indecent is still a very good card-through-something routine, and works well whether as a table to table effect or a street effect. It’s very powerful, and gives you a ready-made souvenir for your spectator at the very end of the performance.

Admittedly, for this month, my focus has mostly been on pick-a-card routines, and I’ll admit that’s a bit of a cop-out, as there are a lot of other routines that don’t necessarily require that kind of script, but as a guy who doesn’t really focus too much on cards, the pick-a-card script tends to be the easiest one to get down, and the one that people really look out for, more often than not.

In any case, I’m a fan of this routine because it’s custom-made for the working magician who likes giving away souvenirs for spectators. Indecent is relatively inexpensive as a souvenir, so long as you don’t mind losing singleton cards for your performances, and ultimately, it’s nothing but sheer bliss to be able to give something like that away to someone and have them remember you for a long time because you know how to really make a lasting impression as a performer.

I just really wish E would stop fooling buyers into thinking things are better than they seem, though. This “demo” version of Indecent is something that is simply unachievable in the real world even after buying the video, which to me smacks of false advertising and deceptive marketing. It’s bad enough that the E has made it seem normal that you can make a killing off of marketing one trick no matter how crappy so long as you have production values to dress it up, but for them to pretty much lie and fool newbie magicians into thinking they’re getting something that’s better than it actually is has to be something I can’t abide by.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Project 365 (151/365): The Ultimate Transpo

.:151/365:The Ultimate Transpo:.

Here’s a routine that I absolutely love and use every chance I get, because there are a million and one ways to establish your magician persona with it, depending on what you want to project that day.

The premise is very simple: they get a card, like, say, the Queen of Hearts. Then, they select a card at random, like, say, the Five of Clubs. Then, while they’re holding the Queen tightly in both hands, you switch the Queen in their hands for the Five in yours.

The result is: the card they’re holding very tightly is the Five Of Clubs. The card in your hands is the Queen Of Hearts. Very baffling, very impressive, and can be done as quickly or as slowly as your persona dictates, which is what makes this routine very useful and flexible at the same time.

I’ve used the routine as a mentalist, emphasizing hypnosis as the method by which I perpetrated the exchange.

I’ve used the routine as a fast-talking hustler, emphasizing the speed by which I do things, that the naked eye can’t catch me swipe their card and trade places with them.

I’ve used the routine as a mystic time traveller, using my abilities to travel in time to go back and swith the cards from the beginning despite what their eyes may tell them.

Doesn’t really matter how you posit the performance, actually. What matters is that the options are all there, and the routine lends itself naturally to any which way you wish to pursue it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

She Can't.... But She Can!

.:She Can hEAR!:.

She is made of win!

I cannot say enough about my admiration and respect for my DBS batchmate Kcat Yarza, but it was definitely an honor for me to host her birthday party and fundraiser last Friday night.

It was a great night, to say the least, especially since a lot of her friends and family were there to celebrate her birthday. Goes to show that she is surrounded by people who love her, and know that no matter what she goes through, Kcat is made of far sterner stuff than whatever the universe can throw at her.

Kcat is simply an inspiration to many. Her will to fight on despite setbacks, her inability to take “no” for an answer, is something that few people possess. When problems beset us, it tends to be easy to throw our hands up and surrender, but Kcat shows that winning is a state of mind as much as it is a state of affairs. When things seem down and when things seem undeniably challenging for us, thinking about people like Kcat reminds us that the slings and arrows of fate are only as strong as we allow them to be. They cannot overpower us if we refuse to allow them to do so.

The night was punctuated by a bit of comedy, and a whole lot of music, and even more food. I’ll say one thing about Kcat: she knows how to throw a party, and it was amazing meeting an old classmate and friend of mine who’s been based abroad for a while already: Sarah Jervoso.

She was the only girl taller than me in Grade 3!

Having said that, with all the challenges we face, and with all the things that we have to deal with, leave it to Kcat to lead the way and to never give up in the face of adversity. As people who believe in her and support her, the least we can do is heed her example.

Kcat, thanks for having me at your celebration. It was an honor and a blast, and I’d be more than happy to have the opportunity to help in any way I can in the future, if you so wish me to. You are truly an amazing person, and your battlecry of “I can” rings true in every ounce of my being. Godpseed to you.

With that, I leave you with the AVP from her celebration...

Project 365 (150/365): Cardtoon

.:150/365: Cardtoon:.

Dan Harlan’s Cardtoon routine is one of the most interesting bits of closeup card magic for its simplicity and its visual impact.

Imagine picking a card, any card (Here we go again!). The magician sets the card aside, then promptly shows you that behind the deck is a drawing of a magician who appears to be pulling a rabbit from a hat, only for it to turn out to be your selected card. Is it mind-reading? Probably not. Is it sleight of hand? Even less so, and that’s the beauty of it.

Cardtoon is one of those routines that you bring out when you plan to do one and only one card routine because you want something that would really take people by surprise and would instantly catch their attention from thereon. It’s not something you want to open a closeup set with, unless you are sure that your next successive routines will be strictly superior to Cardtoon, because despite its simplicity, it’s one of the routines that, as a layman, left a very lasting impression on me, along with the Lightning Box, which I would probably tackle during street magic month.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Not Much Happened Today, But...

.:Where Do They Go From Here?:.

My new article is up here! I hope you like the look I'm taking on our Presidentiables after everything's been said and done. Maybe next week, I'll do one for the Vice Presidentiables.

.:Fabucelles Is Back!:.

More stuff from the inimitable Fabucelles. Showbiz and politics hopefully won't keep mixing for much longer.

.:I Have A New Phone!:.


Leading Up To A New Week...

.:The Week In Brief:.

With a lot of chaos swirling over the horizon, this week was a fairly tumultuous one in my life.

First of all, I’ve seen Iron Man 2 thrice already, and with different people each time. I like the movie, but I was really hoping to watch Marian-Dingdong or Eugene Domingo the last couple of times I ended up watching Iron Man 2 instead.

Sometimes, I’m left wondering why a lot of ladies insist on dating the asshole and then ranting about it to their “nice guy” friends. Particularly when their “friend” has been making it clear that they want to be more than that, don’t you think it hurts him to see you like this and still running back to it again and again?

Actually, you’re both idiots. You’re an idiot because you keep running back to your asshole of a boyfriend. He’s an idiot because he keeps listening to you rant while his heart quietly breaks each and every time.

It’s been challenging to cope with being accused of using someone when you never even had the power to make the choice on her fate, to begin with.

It’s also been challenging to play doctor to friends, only for it to blow up in your face at some point or some other. I haven’t been kind to my heart lately, and I wish I was, because it’s been a roller-coaster for me, from hoping for someone to giving hope to someone to having to deal with the awkwardness of someone who used to love you.

Sometimes, each day feels like a coin flip between struggling one more day and just giving up and ending it all. So far, the flips have been lucky. But then, you never know how long it would take before the luck runs out.

My third set in Votre last Thursday after the customary playtest session in Pasig went pretty well, as I really just experimented with political jokes all night long. Hopefully, this yield some character development for me, although I’m definitely pleased as punch over the people I’ve met throughout the past three nights at Votre. It’s been all great, and I’ve made awesome new friends thanks to that.

Hosting the Conspi show last Saturday night was also pretty amazing. Everyone was just on fire, and I was really happy how things turned out that night. Considering that I’d also be performing in Taumbayan with Stanley Chi and sir Ony Carcamo again this Friday, it’s good to know things are looking up and up. Standup comedy and magic seems to have been my escape from the depressing things that have been happening over the week.

Will this week be a better one for everyone, after all the election hoopla? Will we be moving on past the stupid bitterness over your pet candidate losing and just focusing on how to be part of the solution than be part of the problem? The situation certainly bears watching.

Project 365 (149/365): Masuda's Wow

.:149/365: Masuda’s Wow:.

This routine is a thing of beauty. A card routine so visual and so impactful that it can only be called... “Wow”.

Imagine picking a card, and seeing a magician screw up the simplest of “pick a card” tricks by picking the wrong card. As the magician looks confused, he tries to right this wrong by putting the card in a case that will prevent him from touching the card any further.

With a snap of a finger, the card that he mistakenly picked melts and changes into the chosen card. It’s as if your eyes are playing tricks on you, and you don’t quite know what to do about it.

Surely, one of the best card routines ever concocted. It’s insanely visual and effective. I don't even think I need to describe it any further, as the video speaks for itself.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Project 365 (148/365): 21-Card Trick

.:148/365: 21-Card Trick:.

One of the basics of magic, the 21-card trick is a personal favourite because it represents a whole genre of magic that, when done properly and marvellously, can fry just about anyone. That’s because routines that require zero sleights and 100% presentation yet still produce astounding results are always going to be routines that defy explanation.

There are a myriad versions of the 21-card trick, and ultimately, it follows a very simple guideline: there are 21 cards, and as you mentally select one of them, the magician has a chance to discover what the card in question happens to be with minimal effort.

Is it mentalism? Is it sleight of hand? How does it work? Well, without spoiling anything, the 21-card trick is amazing because it just is. Performing tricks like this one rely heavily on a performer’s ability to dress a matter of fact up in a way that makes eyes widen and jaws drop. Ultimately, it’s one of those routines that anyone can perform, but only the truly great thinkers can make it a routine worth performing. For anybody else, it becomes just a silly little trick that doesn’t impress anyone at all.

Contrast this with other routines that do all the hard work for you: once you know how not to botch it, the presentation value may possibly take a backseat to the actual routine itself. We’ve seen this with many magicians who have amazing tools for their trade, yet have zero entertainment value when they have to hit the stage, and rely on the inherent strength of their routines to carry them through the show.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that, really. There are going to be magicians who rely on their skill, others, on presentation, others, a total package, and yet others, on the strength of their props itself. The 21-card routine can cater to any of those types, but to me, anyone who has no idea how to present a routine like this would simply fail badly.

Don’t let the traditional perception of snooty performers dissuade you from performing a self-working routine. They’re not your audience, after all, but the layman. Sometimes, it’s not all about being a knuckle-buster of a performer. It’s not about being blessed with fingers of lightning-fast dexterity, but honing a razor-sharp mind to do what’s needed to really wow the crowd.

This routine you’re watching on video is one of the most basic presentations of this classic trick. If you want to step up as a magician, and you (probably) know how this routine is done, ask yourself: how could I package this to make it more interesting? What can I change about the methodology to make it uniquely my own? What can I say or do to inject some much-needed flavour and variety into something almost everyone already knows about?

Answer those questions satisfactorily, and you know you’re not just a run-of-the-mill magician: you’re on your way to becoming a more well-rounded and entertaining performer.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Project 365 (147/365): The Bottom Deal

.:147/365: The Bottom Deal:.

Ricky Jay is one of the best card magicians out there, although he’s really known for his card throwing. This demonstration is amazing, considering how smoothly he dealt the bottom card from the cards, without missing a beat. If you didn’t see the cards face-up, there was practically no way for anyone to realize that he wasn’t simply dealing cards normally.

However, what made this particular demonstration deceptive was that while he was openly demonstrating how the bottom deal works, the last hand in a freely chosen number of hands actually sported a royal flush, which just floored everyone around the table. They know how difficult the bottom deal was. The deck was previously shuffled. Yet for some odd reason, he still managed to cough up an apparently impossible hand, and it was simply unbelievable.

The best sleights in card magic happen when nobody realizes anything different is going on. In fact, a particular routine I’ve seen involves doing rapid-fire sleights left and right, without doing anything that could be construed as magic at all. In fact, the point of the exercise is to present to a spectator that everything going on is just plain normal, yet in reality, some very challenging sleights are being performed precisely to make things look just normal.

Truly, a work of art. Watching this video again and again never ceases to amaze me how spot-on Ricky Jay’s execution was. He gave all the chances for the audience to catch what he was doing and what he was really up to, but at no point did he relinquish control over the audience. He was setting them up for something big and impressive, and they had no idea they were in for quite a surprise.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Amuro Namie: J-Pop's Queen Goes Wild!

.:Amuro Namie: J-Pop’s Queen Goes Wild:.

Now, everyone knows I’ve been a sucker for Asian-pop acts for a looong time. As a guy who happens to be a fan of K-Pop and J-Pop, I’ve had more than a few acts that I’ve been keeping an eye (and an ear) on for years, and it does my heart good to know some of these acts have been catching on in the mainstream.

Unfortunately, while K-Pop is extremely popular in the Philippines at the moment, it’s pretty obvious that J-Pop still has a lot of catching up to do. The likes of Utada Hikaru are unfortunately not nearly as popular in this country as their Korean counterparts. Despite that, the rise of J-Pop is upon us, and it’s only a matter of time before the rest of Manila realizes just how awesome J-Pop can really be, with its infectious mixes and beats coming together for a unique experience that is distinctly theirs.

One of the luminaries of J-Pop at the moment and even for the better part of the last decade would have to be the celebrated icon Amuro Namie. With music and performances that put lesser western talents to shame, Amuro Namie’s popularity grew to a point where she was referred to as the “Queen of Japanese Pop Music.” Multi-talented and breathtakingly gorgeous, Amuro Namie isn’t just a Japanese singer, she’s an all-around entertainer, also having had an acting career, to boot.

Now, through the support of the renowned Japanese record label Avex Entertainment Inc., Amuro Namie is going wild in Japan, and soon, in Manila: wild in the charts, and wild at heart. She recently released her single “Wild,” and it is a certified smash hit from the get-go, featuring a very catchy ditty that has to be seen and heard to be believed. Amuro Namie is no bubblegum pop princess: she can more than just carry a tune, she can vocally hit it right out of the ballpark, all the while performing and dancing at a frenetic pace. Needless to say, this song has already hit #1 in Japan, and is, even more astoundingly, her 11th #1 single already.

Doesn’t it seem odd that in a country that is so in love with Japanese culture, the Philippines hasn’t had the chance to appreciate J-Pop in the mainstream yet? There is quite an underground following for J-Pop and even J-Rock acts locally, but most of these are from some select niche acts who are already fans of all things Japanese, often seen covering J-Pop hits in cosplay conventions year in and year out. Amuro Namie’s music is definitely a crowd favourite among convention goers who appreciate J-Pop.

With cosplay and other aspects of Japanese culture slowly making its way into the mainstream, it’s only a matter of time before the rest of the country catches on to the distinct and delectable flavour of J-Pop, and Amuro Namie is bound to win over some fans once she breaks into the mainstream, and you can be sure, it’s bound to come around sooner than later. There’s little not to like about Amuro Namie’s music, even if you don’t necessarily understand Japanese: there’s a lot of power going on in those pipes, and there’s a lot of sheer poetry in motion whenever she hits the stage. I can’t help but be enthralled with the way she moves, and I can’t believe how she hasn’t missed a beat after having been performing at this level for over a decade already.

I’m calling it now: everyone make way for “her Wildness,” Amuro Namie! I’m a fan not only of her music, but of the way she’s managed to capture the imagination not only of the Japanese people, but anyone who has given her more than just a passing glance. It doesn’t hurt, either, that she’s unbelievably gorgeous. Given how she’s been in the industry for well over a decade already, and given how she’s already in her 30’s, it’s unbelievable how fit she still looks, how energetic her performances are, and how powerful her voice is. She is timeless and oozes with charisma, and she definitely leaves it all out there whenever she’s onstage.

Many people are quick to point out that she has had numerous setbacks over the course of her career, but who cares? The proof is in the pudding, and what really matters is that despite all the obstacles and all the adversity, she’s still standing after well over a decade, and achieving consistent success for years. She’s been one of the longest-lasting female acts in Japan, an accomplished stage performer, and well-loved by her fans. Confident, wild, but unforgettable: Amuro Namie is someone Filipinos ought to watch out for.

As I said, when it comes to Amuro Namie, to appreciate her, you have to see her to believe her. Without any further ado, why don’t you catch this video of her performing her hit single, “Wild?” Trust me. It’s worth the few minutes of your time.

Project 365 (145/365): Culligula

.:145/365: Culligula:.

Meet Trycks. He’s really shy, but he’s one of the best magicians you will ever meet.

That routine right there is a routine made possible by Mr. Kostya Kimlat, and it has been affectionately called as the Culligula. It’s one of the best Triumph-style routines out there, simply because it allows you to take any selected card from the spectator, and then promptly mix it in with cards in a haphazard way by shuffling half face-up and half face-down cards, then while showing to you the cards one by one to prove that they are definitely topsy-turvy, you not only find the card, but you demonstrate that the rest of the deck magically fixes itself again.

There is so much skill involved in performing this routine, and I don’t even know where to begin explaining to you just how insane Trycks is for performing this smoothly without so much as breaking into a sweat. As one of my personal magician friends, I couldn’t resist showing this video because it really attests to how good he is. I was hoping to save up all my Filipino magician friends for August, but I guess an exception in this case isn’t such a bad thing.

Anyways, Culligula is really a great routine, and Trycks did this one so well that Mr. Kostya himself congratulated him on having performed it so well.

Personally, I’m a big fan of “one card turned upside down in a pack of right-side up cards.” This version is one of the most technically demanding of them all, and I’m definitely glad to see that one of the best magicians in this country is more than up to the challenge of schooling everyone how it ought to be done.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Project 365 (144/365): The Invisible Deck

.:144/365: The Invisible Deck:.

Many people believe that the Invisible Deck is the ultimate card trick because it’s so powerful, and so instantaneous, and not only works as an amazing prediction, but even as the ultimate out for any botched card routine. Indeed, the Invisible Deck is all this and many more things, and as this video by Cyril illustrates, it is one of the most powerful tools in a card magician’s hand.

I don’t really want to explain the whole mechanics of an Invisible Deck, but I think if you watched the video, you’d gain an idea: it allows you to accurately predict any card named by a spectator by apparently turning one card from the deck over which just so happens to be the card they are thinking of. The mechanics are simple and fast, but the presentation is what validates this whole thing. Cyril came across a way of making the Invisible Deck even more amazing than it already is.

I think I’ve said enough without outright spoiling this whole thing. The video should do most of the talking, really.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Aftermath: After The Ballot Is Done, Now What?

.:I Got It Right!:.

I made a prediction on YouTube who the next president will be. While this wasn’t my personal choice, I made the prediction as a mentalist, and guess what? I guess I’m right.

I should’ve predicted the top 3, though, because nobody expected the results to turn out this way.

Other predictions I got right: the 2010 elections will be messy, and a candidate will claim he was cheated in the elections.

Damn, I'm good.

.:Color Me Amused:.

Apparently, someone took my character seriously. I love it. And I even get to respond in character while I’m at it!

.:Our Job Doesn’t End With The Ballot:.

Okay, nation. Time to get serious.

We just exercised our right to suffrage yesterday, and already, people want Noynoy to resign. Really, guys? You can’t even wait to let him be inaugurated first before you try to take him out of power?

We’ve heard people say stuff that seems embarrassing to play back now, in light of the results. Class acts though most of the losing candidates may be, it’s still embarrassing for Brother Eddie to claim that it’s God’s will to put him into power, when clearly, his God didn’t really put him into power. Again. I’m actually surprised he took defeat more gracefully this time. Maybe he’s getting used to it.

What about Gibo Teodoro’s controversial endorser, Pastor Quiboloy? How do we explain the apparently erroneous vision the pastor got from the Almighty, supposedly saying Gibo and Obama were in his dream, and assuring Gibo of victory?

Pastor Quiboloy, I just needed to ask: where is your Almighty now?

Even Joseph Estrada, despite being second in the polls, seems willing to accept the (apparent) will of the people, even if his lawyer flirted with filing an electoral protest. The automated elections, for all its faults, seemed to do more good than harm. There were far less opportunities to cheat, and far less instances of electoral violence than were to be cited in years, and I was simply surprised at how smoothly things went.

As of this writing, the Vice-Presidential race is still being hotly contested, but I must say that the polls have been, for the most part, a success. If the trend continues, Noynoy’s 41% or so win margin would be the biggest we have ever seen since a multi-party system has been established. He may not be a true majority president, but since Ramos, nobody has been one.

There’s a lot of good and bad going around, but I think if there’s one thing Noynoy Aquino’s campaign was right about, it was that he can’t do this alone. He needs the support of not just his vice president or his senatorial slate, he also needs the support of the people. And believe me when I say I’d be singing the exact same tune whomever the president would be: our president cannot do it alone, and for this country to rise above the adversity, we need to do our share.

Our work does not end at feeding the ballot to the PCOS Machine. In fact, our work has just begun, not just for the next six years, but for the rest of our lives. The hurt, division, and strife that the previous administration and the electoral process has wrought upon us can be healed only if we allow it to be healed.

There is still a problem to solve. And when there is a problem to be solved, like I said yesterday, you can be a part of the solution, or you can be a part of the problem.

Nation, I leave that choice up to you. I know some of you are itching to book the first flight abroad to migrate, or some of you want to drink away because your favourite candidate won/lost/doesn’t matter, as long as there’s no liquor ban. There are so many things that require our collective efforts, and after everything has been said and done, we can’t play the blame game, or lash out at the masses for the choices they have made on May 10. As Marck put it, if we believe this nation needs to learn, then shouldn’t it become our responsibility to bring about this learning?

Nation, we still have a lot to do. Despite everything that the naysayers can harp on, my faith in the Filipino people has not dwindled one bit. We will rise collectively. We will strive as one. We’re not doing this for Noynoy. We’re doing this for our nation, and ultimately, for those whom we love.

Congratulations, Senator Noynoy Aquino. Winning the elections was the easy part. Now, the hard part: making those six years count. Worry not, though: like Cory and Ninoy before you, hindi ka nag-iisa. Mahirap nang hayaan ka diyan, eh. Baka kung ano pa mapala nating lahat.

P.S. By the way, Kris.... kailan despedida?

Project 365 (133/365): Twisting The Aces

.:133/365: Twisting The Aces:.

Twisting the Aces is a classic that apparently has been attributed to the legendary Dai Vernon. The script is very simple, really: just by twisting the aces in place, the aces magically flip over one by one, until all four have flipped over once. It’s a slow and deliberate routine, which only adds to the baffling nature of the performance since no matter how slowly you perform it, there just seems to be no way that the cards would flip themselves over just like that.

It’s a very simple routine, but it’s one of those ones that demand a mastery of the basics for it to be effective. Without explaining what’s going on, without proper pacing as you perform the routine, nobody’s going to care about what you’re doing. Without proper handling, you would flash the secret every single time. This routine requires a modicum of technical skill, and is an excellent building block towards working your way into more routines that involve the famous Elmsley Count.

Truly, there needs to be an appreciation for the building blocks of card magic for anyone to actually merit genuine progress as a performer. This routine really forces one to learn proper handling and proper storytelling, because without one or the other, this routine certainly falls flat on its face.

There are many versions of this routine, so give yourself a chance to catch at least three variations if you’ve never seen this routine before.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Project 365 (132/365): Card Manipulation

.:132/365: Card Manipulation:.

Card manipulation falls under card magic, but not all cardistry experts feel that they should be considered as magicians. In truth, the way they demonstrate exceptional skill at handling cards is more of an exhibition than an outright magic routine, but we still cannot discount the presence of card manipulation in the magic industry.

This video features mentalist and card manipulator Angela Funovits, as she demonstrates her own brand of card manipulation. It’s really great watching her act, as her dress means that the typical “all in the sleeves” excuse cannot be foisted upon her.

There has been an increasing amount of interest in card manipulation, because it’s really flashy and impressive to watch a perform just do things that seem impossible with cards. If you watched the likes of McBride, Devo, or Dan and Dave, you can’t help but marvel at their uncanny skill with cards, and their jaw-dropping precision.

The magic world certainly owes a lot to these very impressive displays of skill. These impressive demonstrations have awed audiences for years, knowing full well the immense amount of skill required to perform at the level these individuals do. It’s a very rich field in card magic, and the possibilities haven’t even been fully explored yet, as more and more, people learn how to make dexterity challenges seem more and more impossible with each passing day.

The learning curve for this particular segment of card magic is undoubtedly high, but there’s no doubt that you will impress a lot of people if you kept at it.

Solutions, Elections, Delusions

.:On Election Day, Be A Part Of The Solution, Not The Problem:.

Whoever made this image, I thank you.

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.

Nation, allow me to remind you exactly what’s at stake at the wee hours of the morning as some of you pore over who you wish to vote for the last minute. I struggled all day to write how I felt about this, but I couldn’t quite find the right words.

One of the few things I still value about my time in Ateneo was the fact that they made me feel it was a stereotype for Ateneans to be apathetic. They drilled it home so well, any person who had the least bit of love in his heart for the country would feel defiant about such a label: I was anything but apathetic. I admit I made some mistakes in my attempts at taking part in voicing out my ideals as a Filipino citizen (After all, I *was* in EDSA 2...). As I moved on into the blogosphere, it felt like armchair activism was cool and hip and edgy, until the wakeup call of the infamous Valley Golf incident made me realize that you need to temper wild opinions with some measure of responsibility.

True, we’re not journalists. But we shouldn’t be rabble-rousing hacks, either.

I believe that the time for apathy is not now. I’ve heard it said and said again by many people: “wala nang pag-asa ang Pilipinas.

Nation, as a patriotic Filipino, this sentence grates on me. For almost a decade, we allowed someone to run roughshod over our country and reduce it to a laughingstock. Every excuse, every technicality, every loophole was used and abused just to keep holding onto power for as long as humanly possible. Today, she seeks to hold onto the power for even longer, as she insists on staying in “public service” by running practically unopposed in her Congressional district today. I’ve been writing about politics for a long time, but in 2009, something in me just clicked. Something in me just fell into place.

In 2009, I found myself writing about politics for The POC, At some point, I found my voice. I discovered the best way to highlight the things I perceive to be wrong in this country, not through rabble-rousing or ambulance-chasing, but in being an uncomfortable parody of an administration sycophant who would spin everything that he sees so that we could all realize “this could only mean good things for GMA.” I became a caricature of every trigger-happy blogger who lived to spread wild lies and accusations. Some were uncomfortable because it reflected a culture online that is so deep-seated and irrevocably prevalent, while most were oblivious to the levels of wrongness I sought to lampoon beyond merely being a GMA sycophant.

I parlayed laughs and sometimes shocks into a robust character that has managed to capture the heart of everything that is wrong about the Philippines as of late: someone who doesn’t care how bad things are going, so long as they don’t feel affected by it. The kind of pathetic excuse for a man who would probably never give Kitty Genovese the time of day. I revel in this character not because it reflects who I am, but because it underscores precisely what it should mean to be that kind of a human being in real life: pathetically laughable.

I still feel indebted to Chip Tsao and Stephen Colbert for this newfound passion to be able to write the way I do about politics, but this isn’t about my origin story, really. It’s about the fact that today is the day where everybody gets a chance to make a difference, the way I sought to do when I started writing the way I did. In all honesty, you don’t even need to write 800-1000 words on your word processor like I do. You actually just need to do one small thing I can’t do: you just need to shade a few circles.

In the interest of disclosure, I am disenfranchised. I won’t be able to vote later, but I refuse to be a part of the problem. This is why i’m making a stand not just in advocating for my candidates (My senatoriable list is very public. My presidential choice? Not so much.), as I stand by the likes of Susan Ople, Ruffy Biazon, TG Guingona, and Rissa Hontiveros, to name four of the most important names I feel, coming into the elections. Or maybe supporting “Ang Ladlad” as my party-list sounds weird since I’m straight, but the more I think about it, the more I believe that these people who fought for their right to be represented actually deserve to be represented, rather than a group of security guards who think that Mikey Arroyo would espouse their ideals.

I don’t know if fighting Hayden Kho is the reason, but it boggles my mind people want Bong Revilla. I don’t know if holding a knife in front of Lito Lapid’s one law would make it two laws, but people complaining that Noynoy has done nothing in the Senate have no right to complain if they’re voting for Lito Lapid in turn. But lest this turns into a slagfest for politicians I don’t particularly care for, let me just emphasize that while I am incapable of voting today, I still insist on doing my part to more than make up for it. You can probably do something I can’t today, and that’s shade some circles. So goddammit, go shade those circles!

Seriously, nation, knowing that you really just need to shade a few circles, would it be too much effort for you to even just think about which circles you’re going to shade? Whether it’s your councilor or your Party-List or your president, you owe it to yourself to make a choice that you believe is the best choice you can make. You owe it to yourself to not sell your vote, or to make a joke out of your ballot by, say, voting for disqualified presidential candidate Vetellano Acosta.

I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it once more: screw the surveys. They are numbers that tell you nothing about the candidates. The only survey that matters is the one happening today. I may not agree with who you want to vote for, but I’ll defend your right to vote for the candidate you want, guns, goons, gold, or call center management shenanigans be damned.

As the continuation of the Marcelle Fabie character hangs in the balance, the real me reflects on the apathy that surrounds him and takes a stand against it. Coming from a country that has been plagued by compromises and a lack of ethics so long as legalities are danced around; coming from a university that looks the other way for plagiarism when they need buildings and then overcompensating when one has none to give; coming from an online culture that shoots first and asks questions later; coming from a sector of society that feels a bit of intellectual masturbation is enough to earn the right to be called an “activist”; yes, the future seems bleak. Yes, evil has a foot in the door and can very well triumph.

Despite all that, I am a patriotic Filipino in that my faith in the country runs far deeper than just watching Manny Pacquiao’s fights: I believe that this country is filled with good people from all walks of life. I believe that we are surrounded by a climate of goodness, no matter how bad things may get. However, I must point out, as a man greater than I once said, that for this evil that permeates us to triumph, good people simply need to do nothing.

The apathy, the willingness to be a part of the problem instead of the solution is all evil needs. The resigned sighs, the hands being thrown up in the air (And waved like they just don’t care.), the cynicism, the jadedness, the culture of compromise, all of these have led us to a crossroads we face on this day. Don’t tout the “I’m gonna migrate anyways” escape button as if it’s truly a solution. Don’t tell me “you don’t care” and then proceed to whine about the government for the next six years, when you did nothing to fix the problem.

It’s time to do something. We want our politicians to do something, yet we go there to the polling precinct, randomly check of our six councilors, then expect things to be better? I guess it makes sense, then, that politicians represent us best, since a huge swath of us don’t do anything, too. Truly, we get the government we deserve.

So today, be a patriotic Filipino. One-up me, despite the numerous people I have convinced to vote for people whom I believe will be good for this nation: go out there and actually vote, and make that vote stand for something. Vote because you’re sick and tired of nine years of the same old crap, and you want the biggest going-away party ever 51 days from now when the Countdown To Stepdown finally hits 0. Vote because you want what’s best for your nation. Vote because you want to have the right to complain about the government some more. Vote because for once, you actually hold the power. Vote because migrating and starting over again really sucks. Vote because you don’t want the status quo to just keep going. Ultimately, vote because it’s your God-given right. If you’re atheist, vote because it’s your fucking right.

Nation, I refuse to be a part of the problem. I have faith in you that whether or not you read this, you will make the same stand on this day as well. Today, we will be a part of the solution. Let us throw away all naivete and wishful thinking: we know our leaders can’t do it alone. Your vote is far bigger than just shading dots on pieces of paper: your vote is a renewal of your covenant to your nation. As Manolo Quezon put it, if yesterday was the day for our mothers, today is the day for our motherland.

Long live the Philippine nation, and long live the Filipino people.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Project 365 (131/365): Jeff McBride

.:131/365: Jeff McBride:.

Jeff McBride is a three-time award winner of the International Grand Prix of Magic in Monte Carlo, and a household name in the industry for so long. His performances exude precision, elegance, flair, and unparalleled skill, playing off of his amazing talent and dexterity.

The video you will see opens with his mask manipulation bit, which many younger kids insist to be taken right from the Jabawockeez. Newsflash, people: this bit was performed in the 90’s. He made masks cool long before the Jabawockeez did.

I remember a colleague and friend of mine, Mr. JB dela Cruz, once joked that magicians are mistaken to be gay because some of them have extremely flamboyant moves, such as those we see McBride performing in this video.

As a performer, McBride is poetry in motion. He’s very famous for being so good at throwing cards that he can actually bounce them off the floors. The man’s panache as one of the most influential performers of our day, however, goes well beyond his onstage performances, as he founded the McBride School of Magic and Mystery in Las Vegas, which has become home to a new generation of magicians who owe everything to McBride.

As one of the foremost minds of the industry, Jeff McBride’s influence on the current generation of magicians cannot be denied. His contributions to the art is simply overwhelming, and one can do far worse than having Jeff McBride as a mentor. There are many good performers out there, but so few of them are every bit as good at performing as they are at teaching it. McBride is one of those amazing and rare exceptions.

If you ever go to Vegas, make it a point to catch this man, if you ever wanted to see sleight of hand and a touch of class all at the same time.

Project 365 (130/365): The Biddle Trick

.:130/365: The Biddle Trick:.

This is one of the best impromptu tricks for beginners, because it teaches you how to properly handle cards and from the foundational moves you will learn to properly do the biddle trick, you’re bound to really get something going.

Having said that, I’ll let the video speak for itself. It’s amazing to me whenever someone does a variation of a card ending up face-down in the middle of a face-up pack, to be honest.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

30 Days Of Music (30/30), And Randomicity

.:Day 30: Your Favorite Song At This Time Last Year:.

Was just really thinking what other song suits me better, but I think this one really encapsulated it. After thirty days of music, I still can’t help but think how great the month of songs really were, as I certainly went on quite a journey, and I hope I’ve influenced enough people to want to do the same thing for themselves.

During this time, unless I’m mistaken, Taylor Swift’s songs were gaining ground, and it wasn’t until September when Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech during the VMA’s. Despite that, I still liked this song, and I liked it even more after September...

And with that, we wrap up quite an epic trip into music. I hope you enjoyed it, and it looks like I know what I’ll be doing for next year’s Project 365, then.

.:DK Shenanigans:.

I swung by the Disenchanted Kingdom this morning, and it was a fairly interesting day, as we talked about crazy stuff over the course of the show, and I even ran into an old friend, Lee, formerly from Campus Aircheck. It was quite an enjoyable show, and Charl even dropped by to talk about the wonderful world of Toblerone chocolates.

It was quite an enjoyable time for everyone, and it was good to know that Lee is with The Farm now, as she will definitely prove to be an amazing asset to the station, if they had any idea what they really have in their hands.

Anyways, it’s all good. With things picking up for the Disenchanted Kingdom and with our plans of really cornering an online market the way only King DJ Logan can, you just know that big things are ahead in the horizon.

.:Laughs And Memories:.

Considering all the standup comedy I’ve been doing lately, it’s been very enjoyable so far, and as I’m approaching my first year as a standup comic, I can’t help but look back at a good year fondly.

I think that when I-Blog 6 rolled along, the celebration after the event sort of capped how happy I really was with my new world of standup comedy, as a few of my blogger friends joined me host Mike Unson’s show that night.

For years, I-Blog was always a highlight for me. This year was no different, but it took on an interesting turn, as I enjoyed the after-festivities even more than I did the actual I-Blog, and mainly because I finally found something I enjoyed doing so much.

I keep joking that with each breakup, I find some new talent I could (hopefully) excel at. I’m slowly finding my smile again, but I want to take things slowly. All I know is that I have loved and given my all, and I want to regain myself to be able to do it all over again without shortchanging that woman I choose to love.

And for heaven’s sake... let her be the last one.

Project 365 (128/365): Daryl's Encyclopedia Of Card Sleights

.:128/365: Daryl’s Encyclopedia Of Card Sleights:.

This very extensive resource for card magicians can be considered a bible of sorts for any magician who wants to get started with cards. I don’t think that any other volume can come close to what this offers, except maybe Ammar’s series. Oz Pearlman’s may have been my first video for learning cards, but that was a severely truncated and gimped version of what this particular set has to offer.

I don’t know what to tell you about this set other than the fact that it’s a mammoth resource that any serious magician interested in cards needs to at the very least look into. Daryl is an excellent performer, and the knowledge he imparts on this set of videos is simply too invaluable to ignore.

I don’t want to talk about this too much. If you want to learn about cards, and you haven’t seen Daryl’s set yet, please do yourself a favour and go get it.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Project 365 (127/365): Three Card Monte

.:127/365: Three Card Monte:.

Ladies and gentlemen, here’s a classic.

This is the hustler’s dream: imagine being on the streets of LA, drawing an audience as you and your shill pretend to have a back and forth game for money and he apparently makes off with you because you seem too slow to fool the man.

An unsuspecting party shows up, thinking he could win some easy money because he saw you at work. You smirk inwardly at the poor mark as you let him bet probably his week’s wages in one go, because he’s absolutely confident that you can’t pull one over him.

Unfortunately, the minute he agreed to wager with you, he already lost.

You tell him the rules: two black cards, and one money card, a red card. All he has to do is keep up as you mix the cards and if he finds the money card, he wins. He eagerly looks on and watches the cards like a hawk, and he guesses what he is sure would be where the red card should be.

Looks like he’s walking home today.

The three card monte is a classic and has been around for longer than most people could remember. Whether in the incarnation of the pea and shell game, or in this slightly more modern version, the three card monte is a hustle worthy of being remembered for all time as one of the best swindles to ever come along. As a great deception, it was only a matter of time before magicians began incorporating this routine into their own shows.

This particular version as performed by Bill Malone is one of the best, and one of the cleanest in terms of sheer execution. I’m very impressed with the way Bill Malone mapped this routine out, and the little jokes he’s thrown in the middle certainly enhances people’s interest in his performance.

What really makes this routine tick though is how it manages to really play tricks with people’s heads. Any average mark could practically swear that they saw the card, and yet it magically changed places with nary a move from the performer. It’s a swindler’s dream, and they’ve been living it for centuries.

As I said, ladies and gentlemen, a classic.

30 Days Of Music (29/30)

.:Day 29: A Song From Your Childhood:.

Here’s a song from Gary Valenciano, who was one of my favourite music artists growing up. He still is to this very day, in all honesty.

Gary V’s songs always hit the spot. He’s one of the best musicians of this country, and I can’t help but love the way he takes to the stage and gives it his all 100% of the time. This is also why I picked one of his faster, more uppity songs instead of something like “Take Me Out Of The Dark”.

Then again, speaking of mass songs, I had very fond memories of singing my lungs out during school masses, thanks to my upbringing as a Bosconian. There wasn’t quite an experience like having a gym mass in Don Bosco, and having a whole assembly of students singing during mass. It was a unique experience, and I hope that letting you hear this song could take you back to those times that I now reminisce about fondly.

If I picked any other song, chances are, you’d have known it even if you weren’t a Bosconian. But this one? Well, let’s just say that this song holds a special place in a Bosconian’s heart, which sort of explains why I still identify with that school far more than I do my college alma mater, because in my heart, Don Bosco set the standard, whereas that other school doubled it, if you know what I mean.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Project 365 (126/365): The Svengali Deck

.:126/365: The Svengali Deck:.

In the hands of a beginner, the Svengali deck can create quite a head-scratcher for the average layman.

In the hands of a veteran, the Svengali deck is a veritable miracle-worker.

Imagine giving your spectator a chance to pick a card, and then repeatedly plucking that card from all over the deck, all the while shuffling, mixing, and cutting the deck to her heart’s desire. The routine can go any which way you wish to take it in, because the Svengali deck’s applications, like any deck of cards, whether gimmicked or ungimmicked, is literally limited by your imagination.

Ambitious card routines done easy? You got it.

Card duplication feats? Check.

Card location divination? Absolutely.

This particular gem is a massive hit among beginner magicians who don’t want to learn the basic sleights of card magic because it allows them to do so much while investing time in developing their own patter and their own routines that go well with the deck. Svengali decks are amazing because they are an excellent gateway into card magic, although personally, I’m more inclined to teaching people how to do magic with a regular deck of cards first, before anything else, as it gets them acquainted with the foundations of good card magic.

To be honest, I find that the Svengali stunted my growth as a magician because I didn’t have anyone to guide me back then. It was a nice gateway, but I never had the resources or the wherewithal to actually pursue more magic, and relied mainly on gimmicks and the like when I should’ve been schooled in the basics back then. I was a late bloomer in card magic, and that explains why I rarely bother using card magic in my routines: I simply feel that it’s nowhere near as developed as the other facets of my performances.

So to anyone who wants to get into magic and wishes to do cards, while the Svengali deck is an awesome jumping point, make sure you continue learning, because without really spoiling anything, if the Svengali deck ends up in the wrong hands, let’s just say that there go your chances.

30 Days Of Music (28/30) : Lyrically Speaking Scribbles, Part XVII

.:Day 28: A Song That Makes You Feel Guilty – Lyrically Speaking Scribbles, Part XVII:.

I dunno... should I feel guilty for really liking this particular song right now? Then again, I can totally relate to the lyrics right now...

Nakita kita, may bagong kasama
Para mong shota nakaholding-hands
pabulong-bulong pa
Parang nung tayo, pero mas sweet pa...

Ever had those times where you wonder “what does he/she have that I don’t?!?” It’s rather interesting to think that all logic flies out the window when it comes to love, and you can’t really rationalize it when you get down to it.

And that’s what’s incensing sometimes, right? They rationalize their way out of your life, and then they pull a 180-degree turn and go back to the same old things, except for one thing: they’ve traded down. Down, down, down.

And you can’t even take cold comfort in the knowledge that everyone thinks they trade down, because the burning question is: why?!? What about you is so wrong that things have to turn out that way, no matter how hard you try, no matter how hard you work at it?

It’s one thing to be left alone in the dark. It’s another to be lied to, and to see all your hopes and dreams shattered outside the realms of logic and common sense. It makes no sense to have to compete against a meantime option when you’re there for all time.

“Ladies, tell me do you understand? Now all my fellers, do you feel my pain? It’s now the way I feel, now it’s too late, I know she ain’t comin’ back.” Preach it, Usher. Preach it.

Ayoko ng gulo
Di ba’t sabi mo friends pa tayo?
So I said “hello”
And you turned to go
Napahiya ako
Nagmukha akong gago...

Friends can be lovers, but it does appear that more often than not, lovers can’t be friends. It’s all a lie: an insult to friendship, in turning it into nothing but a consolation prize for a failed relationship. And I don’t really know why this persists, and how one could deal with it, but it is what it is, painful as it may truly be.

Ano ba ang pinagmamalaki mo?
Ano ba ang pinagmamayabang mo?
Nakahanap ka nga ng iba, pero mare...

Remember when he promised he’d always be there for you? Remember when she promised you that you can still run to her? Remember when you texted him while you were crying your eyes out, and he was drinking out with his friends? Remember when you drunk-called her while she was awkwardly trying to drop your call because she was out on a date?

There’s just no easy way to break somebody’s heart, but seriously, have a heart. Don’t lord it over these poor unfortunate souls that you’ve clearly moved on, that what you had is nothing more than a pathetic little footnote in the book of their lives. After building all of that and striving to be the best they can be for you, how do you think it would feel to have all that come tumbling down?

Mukhang paa, boyfriend mo
Mukhang paa talaga...

Piece of advice to anyone going through a broken heart: don’t go out in a rush to lower your standards. If people are laughing at your choice and telling you that your previous one, despite the fact that you were so ashamed of him or her, was, in reality, light years the better choice. Don’t cherry pick and ignore what your friends say now when you did nothing but listen to them back then. When you know it’s not going to last, and when you know your heart’s on the line yet again, don’t you think it’s high time you simply stopped wasting your time?

Oo nga,
Siya ay macho, siya ay maskulado
Maganda ang porma, parang athlete
Athlete’s foot lang pala!

Another tip: don’t project. If you’re the one who can’t help but cheat, don’t make her life a living hell by insisting she’d do it to you. It’s not fair, and while the world isn’t unfair, it would really be nice if one of the few fair people in your life would be the people who claim they love you.

Otherwise, you’re just deluding yourself, and you’re making a mockery of everything you’ve gone through. When sometimes, a love goes wrong, do the right thing for yourself: be better for it. Don’t turn so wretched that it’s actually the other guy who feels sorry for you.

Siya na ba ang pinagmamalaki mo?
Siya na ba ang pinagmamayabang mo?
Nakahanap ka nga ng iba, pero mare...

One of the most painful things for someone to ever have to go through is seeing that person you love clearly with someone who can’t give them what you believe they truly deserve, when you know that you could’ve given them precisely that.

Is it selfish? Yes and no. It’s selfish in that you want to be with them. It’s unselfish because you know what they really need, and you still won’t stand in the way of their happiness, even if it’s killing you with each passing day. Kahit na mukhang paa pa iyan, eh kung mahal niya, anong magagawa mo?

Mukhang paa, boyfriend mo
Mukhang paa talaga

Indeed, the heart has its reasons which reason cannot know.

Tinapak-tapakan mo
Puso’t damdamin ko
Inalipusta ako
Inalipunga ka na ba?

To all those who are nursing a broken heart right now, believe me, someday, you will all look back on this day that you read this post and laugh when you find yourself in a better place. Perhaps that day isn’t today, but it will come.

And now, I’m projecting. That’s a wrap.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Project 365 (125/365): The Card Stab

.:125/365: The Card Stab:.

Well, here’s a leftover from comedy month: a gem of a card routine from Penn and Teller. There’s practically nothing here they didn’t expose, in all honesty. From explaining a key move in card magic to actually visibly palming a card, the Card Stab routine here was just insanely done and meant to irk a lot of magicians.

But once again, Penn and Teller get away with it. Hard to imagine that they’ve built a career that has spanned about three decades already, and it’s been all about playing mean tricks on each other while interspersing genuinely good magic in between, but there you go.

The routine is very simple: pick a card, and Teller will find it by stabbing a knife across the card, while blindfolded. Except for the fact that Teller ends up stabbing Penn’s hand instead, and the card is actually right under Penn’s hand. Simple, fast, easy, but definitely gets reactions across the board because of the sheer shock value of seeing something that unexpected happen.

I like the Card Stab because it’s funny and it gets the point across of what Penn and Teller as a tandem are all about. It’s hilarious and well-done as a routine, and it’s hard to imagine anyone pulling it off the way these guys do.

Yes, I’m such a Penn and Teller fanboy. How’d you know?

30 Days Of Music (27/30)

.:Day 27: A Song That You Wish You Can Play:.

I really have quite a few songs I’d love to learn how to play, and most of them are actually OPM songs.

A classic by the APO Hiking Society. Who can ever forget this wonderful, wonderful song? Naturally, if I have an old song, then I also have a new song, and it’s this one...

Seeing Lourd perform here as well is just awesome, and if I could ever learn how to play Itchyworms songs, I’d be so happy. Here’s one non-OPM song I always wanted to learn how to play, though, just because nobody else seems to know this song, and I’d love to be able to sing along to it...

Handlebars is an amazing song, and it’s pretty cool to be able to rap along to it.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Project 365 (124/365): Michael Ammar

.:124/365: Michael Ammar:.

When you think of “card magic”, it’s hard to imagine any experienced magician not include this man’s name in their shortlist of people they have studied. Ask ten good cardicians you know if they know Michael Ammar, and I’d be surprised if any of them said they didn’t.

Many believe Ammar to be a “magician’s magician,” and the only other guy I’ve heard call that was Daryl. He has taught magic to arguably more professional magicians today than anyone else ever has (No, Brad Christian teaching you how to do 2CM mediocrely does not count.). His resume as a professional performer is thick, and his renown in the magic industry is top-notch, as he has managed to rise through the ranks as an amazing performer, having been trained by the best, including the late great Dai Vernon himself.

Why I chose Ammar as the first card magician to discuss should be rather obvious. He is the man responsible for one of the biblical resources for cardicians out there, “Easy To Master Card Miracles”. The man is all about simplicity and style, and doesn’t rely on knuckle-busting sleights performed at breakneck speeds. You want that? Look for Dan and Dave. You want elegance, class, and jaw-dropping magic at the same time? Michael Ammar is your man.

Just by watching his video here, you already get an idea why he’s a big deal. His version of the ambitious card routine is definitely basic, but his smooth execution, deliberate timing, and his economy of movements has been nothing but remarkable. Furthermore, his deck vanish at the end is one of the cleanest, most amazing things I have ever seen.

Although he is not exactly a pure cardician, Michael Ammar’s body of work and contribution to card magic is extensive and important. Before you fall all over your Daniel Garcia’s or your Wayne Houchin’s, do yourself a favour and treat yourself to a classy classic. Michael Ammar is bound to astound you and impress you, and is an exercise in contrast to all the flash and pizzazz of the new generation of magicians out there.