Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Project 365 (90/365): The Crate Escape

.:90/365: The Crate Escape:.



Let’s cap off Escapology month with a doozy of an escape, known as the Crate Escape, and show a version performed by Cyril Takayama.

Why is this particular escape very appealing? Well, it’s rather simple, really, because escaping from a packing crate after it has been shut down is quite a challenging situation. Now, if you wanted to demonstrate your skill at lockpicking from the inside, it would be interesting if they used some padlocks to slam you inside the box. On the other hand, if you just really wanted to show off how good you are, you can have the whole thing actually nailed shut.

The challenge level is further enhanced the minute you have to escape either while suspended from a burning rope in mid-air, or while you’re tossed into the water. There are many different options when it comes to that, but ultimately, whether you choose to put yourself at risk in this manner, or merely shut yourself behind a curtain and attempt to escape from behind the curtain, this is a particularly powerful and popular escape act that – believe it or not – wouldn’t cost you that much.

It’s rather economical to have a packing crate constructed for your needs, or to simply ask for one from a shipping yard, if needed be. Ultimately, you’re not really restricted from doing such a thing, and that’s definitely going to work to your advantage, to be performing something that plays to a really big crowd for the fraction of the cost of a brand-new full-scale illusion. A simple packing crate that will more likely than not support your full weight is sufficient as a finale, especially when it’s coupled with other challenging items to escape from, such as ropes, handcuffs, or a straightjacket, if needed be.

As the month of April will be welcomed by none other than Penn and Teller, it would probably be good to note this early that they have a particularly humorous albeit sadistic take on the crate escape, and you’ll like that version if I ever manage to find the video online.

March is over and done with, and April Fool’s will be coming tomorrow, but rest assured that the art of escapology will continue to be acknowledged as simply one of the most challenging, at times dangerous, and downright stupefying aspects of magic. That it requires a lot of skill and less of trickery is a great thing, and that there is no need to deal with sceptics and the likes when it comes to the rudiments of escapology is also a plus for the sensitive performer.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Project 365 (89/365), And Random Thoughts...

.:Mafia Wars, Adventure Quest, MMA Pro...:.

I must admit, being occupied with all those games online has managed to kill my social life after work. But whaddaheck? I love it. :P

So if you happen to be on my Facebook, and you play Mafia Wars, do add me up. If you’re not playing that game, try playing MMA Pro as well. It’s awesome, and I need all the friends I could get to play the game. Heh. Just use the search bar on Facebook, and you’re bound to get it.

.:Getting Back Into The Groove Of Things:.

Had an interesting weekend filled with Magic: The Gathering tournaments. I played out a Legacy and Vintage tourney, and made a decent showing out of it, as I came in 16th in a field of 63 in Legacy, then made it into the top 4 in the Vintage tournament, bowing out to Lance, the eventual champion of the day, who was using Tezzeret.

All in all, it was a pretty good outing, and I hope to write a detailed tournament report if and when I find the time. I may forget some names and which deck I fought on which round, but it should be a pretty insightful look into how my thought processes generally work when playing.

In all honesty, I still feel very rusty and my play level isn’t at the same high level it used to be. Despite that, I’ve been re-learning my way around the tournament circles, and I’m hoping to find opportunities to really make a splash in the local meta once again.

.:89/365: The Bamboo Torture Device:.

As you can tell, a lot of Dixie Dooley’s escapes are mostly classic escape acts he has borrowed mainly from Harry Houdini, although I’m not fully certain that is the case with the Bamboo Torture Device.

The mechanics of the Bamboo Torture Device are a bit more complicated than average, which results in my displeasure with the routine: essentially, the escapologist is restrained via ropes looped through a piece of bamboo, and is held in place by two volunteers who will try to hold onto the ropes with all their might so as to prevent the escapologist from slipping out of the whole apparatus. Then, after a bit of a struggle, he manages to break free from the restraints, and the volunteers have no idea how he managed to get past the ropes and the bamboo.

I still don’t get why it’s called a bamboo “torture” device, in all honesty. There’s no semblance of torture involved even when you describe how the whole thing works, and it just seems patently silly to have to call it so if there is no amount of torture involved in the whole routine whatsoever. Furthermore, even by watching the routine, there seems to be very little room for drama or excitement, and it’s not something I would want to use without making some elaborately funny script about it meant to downplay the fact that out of all the escape acts we’ve shown or described so far this month, this one happens to be the least intimidating or at the very least interesting of them all.

I can’t tell you enough how underwhelming I find the bamboo torture device to be as an escape, although I do recognize that it has its uses, especially in the hands of a good performer, but on its own, the routine cannot get by without a lot of gravy from the escapologist, which I have seen from the likes of Herman Aquino in the past. If he just decided to do it without any flair, it becomes a very rote performance that could be replaced by something far more exciting, but then, this only goes to prove that while effects are important, it’s the performer who can ultimately determine how powerful the impact of a routine really is.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Project 365 (88/365): Gravity Boots

.:88/376: Gravity Boots:.


Useful...

Gravity boots are among my favourite items in escapology for suspended challenges because they tend to do a good job of supporting your weight when you’re hoisted upside down to about indoor level or two floors high. Anything higher than that, and I’d strongly recommend you use something else to keep you from falling.

In any case, gravity boots are a very essential tool for escapologists who like suspending themselves upside-down, and an excellent item for exercises and endurance tests that the dedicated escapologist would have to be prepared to undergo. We’ve seen it used by Penn and Teller, Christian Bale in “Batman Begins”, and quite a few other famous people, and it was all the rage in the early 90’s as a fitness fad, the way running happens to be nowadays.

Gravity boots are relatively inexpensive, well-padded, and assure you that you won’t injure your legs when you suspend yourself upside-down. It’s also very cool-looking, and relatively inexpensive for what it does for you. If you’re more comfortable with this than the woven nylon loops, then by all means, go for the gravity boots instead.

Personally, I’m a fan of the item. It’s just unfortunate that they’re not too readily available locally and you’d need to order it online. Nonetheless, it’s a very worthwhile investment, and doubles both as part of an escapologist’s arsenal and as a fitness item.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

On A Hopeful Note...

.:Fabucelles Is Back?:.

Well, looks like another article from the irrepressible Fabucelles has been published. This is really turning into quite an interesting season of writing, to say the least.

.:A Matter Of Coincidence:.

That’s the title of the new article I wrote for the POC. Essentially, I was trying to prove how the current power crisis has nothing to do with benefitting our beloved president. It’s all a matter of coincidence, you see. Pure chance.

The links within the article seem to be missing at the moment, though. That might prove to be a bit of a problem.

.:Prelude To A Brand-New Day:.

One of my best friends is celebrating her birthday on Monday, and that would be Abby. We met up at the Fort, and she treated me to a lunch that involved roast duck, so I was a very happy camper. :D

Talking to her, it seems that our lives have been running parallel to each other a lot lately. Considering that she’s one of the friends I’ve known the longest, it’s not exactly easy to find new things about each other that we haven’t known before, yet it seems to be happening as of late with frequency. All things considered, that’s something to be majorly grateful for. Abby has always been the friend I could turn to no matter how bad things get, and I’m very happy that we managed to find some time to catch up with each other.

I think about how many years it’s been, and I realize that we’ve got it good. It’s very rare to have that one person who has been a permanent fixture in your life year in and year out, and I can’t thank Abby enough for being precisely that person. As we go through a lot of things in the hurly burly of daily life and understanding what life holds for us, I look forward to many more opportunities to see her, to thank her, and to be there for her like she’s always been there for me.

If eight years ago, the person who I am today came back in time and told the past me that I would be this way with Abby after all those years, I probably wouldn’t believe my future self. We’ve gone through so much over the years, and neither of us could possibly conceive how much we’ve learned and grown with each other.

Things are wide open for Abby and myself right now, albeit it’s fairly safe to say that the future holds the both of us still remaining very good friends as the years go by. As I close a particular chapter in my life thanks to certain circumstances that have beset me lately, I look forward to the journey, knowing one of the most wonderful human beings in my life is going to be just around when I would need her. As I think about my kids from Reedley who are graduating later, and my friends in ADMU who graduated yesterday, I see that while it would’ve been a wonderful moment to be onstage with all of them, it’s not really something that represents me, much less defines me, to begin with.

It appears that ship has set sail, and it took a realization that I’m not the only one who’s letting some ships set sail when it comes down to it. There’s so much more I have to do, there’s so much more I have to think about, and focusing on that is a lot more important than certain other things that shall remain unnamed.

Happy birthday to you, Abby. You know that there are better things lying in wait for the both of us, and our time will come as we keep working for it.

Project 365 (87/365): The Houdini Rope Tie

.:87/376: The Houdini Rope Tie:.

Similar to the Siberian Chain Escape, the Houdini Rope Tie is one of those escape routines that’s generally one-shot, although half of this procedure is used in the Gypsy Mystery.

In essence, the thing that makes the Houdini Rope Tie really work and convince people is that you actually ask two volunteers to tie the rope around your wrists as tightly as they conceivably can. After all that effort to secure you into the ropes, with just a simple turn, you demonstrate that you are almost immediately liberated from the ropes with little to no effort.

I doubt you’d want to pair this with the Siberian Chain Escape or the Spirit Rope Tie, but this is a nice opener before you get into the Shanghai Shackles, as it certainly establishes how easy it may be to escape from rope, but prove how “difficult” it is to escape from padlocks instead. The contrast and the absurdity of the actual performance makes for a very synergistic pair of routines, to say the least. It’s pretty entertaining to do a lot of escapes and work your way up in terms of difficulty, while at the same time keeping the laughs going by using various methods, whether sarcasm or genuine frustration while attempting various escapes.

If it weren’t for the fact that I do cut and restored rope routines, I’d have gladly included the Houdini Rope Tie in my performances. But then, since I’m fairly well-known for the cut and restored routines, I figured it makes more sense for me to use ropes for only one purpose than do a whole bunch of things with them. Still, I guess a differently-formatted show could feature a rope escape of epic proportions, and this routine is a nice lead-up to that.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Project 365 (86/365): The Siberian Chain Escape

.:86/365: The Siberian Chain Escape:.



One of the classics in escapology, the Siberian Chain Escape is like the poor man’s version of the Shanghai Shackles in terms of how menacing and intimidating it looks as an implement of restraint, but functions in much the same way, and lends itself to a whole different variety of gags one can use in performance.

The main difference for the Siberian Chain is that there is a distinct lack of in and out moves one can pull off while performing it simply because of the mechanics involved in this particular escape. I think this is fair enough because this results in a nice variation and break from all the comedy moves that are heavily featured when performing most of the other Spirit escape acts, which of course includes the Shackles as well.

Whether you demonstrate your ability to strike a lock into submission or instantly liberate yourself in full view of the audience, the Siberian Chain has a very exceptional advantage in that it’s very compact to lug along with you, and allows the audience to tighten the chain around you as much as they want, and yet you’d still figure your way out of it in record time.

It’s also a lot cheaper to have made, as just watching the performance, you can almost just take a regular chain leash for a dog, modify it a bit, buy a suitable padlock, and perform it right away, if that’s what you’re so inclined to do.

Ultimately, there are only so many ways to get out of chains and ropes and locks, and it pays to have a wide variety of these items even if the basic mechanics may all be the same in essence. Give this routine another watch, and see if there are any presentation touches you can add that are uniquely your own to make the routine more appropriate for you. As a very inexpensive and fast-paced but one-shot routine, the Siberian chain escape does have its uses, and is perfect in a street setting as well.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The End Is The Beginning Is The End

.:The Moment Of Truth Is Upon Me:.

I honestly don’t know how to feel right now, as I hold the summons in my hands.

It has been a long hard road, and I now stare at nothingness.

Either which way, this is the end of the road.

.:Nuffies Attack!:.

The founders of Nuffnang, Tim and Ming, have finally dropped by the Philippines to check out how things are going. It was awesome!



The whole gang was at Mag: Net High street last Monday for a dose of Rockeoke! Just check out the video, and you’ll see how much fun we had throughout that night. Good food, good conversations, and memories all around. I almost regret having missed out on this much fun when the team went to the Regional Blog Awards in Singapore last October, if it weren’t for the fact that I had a successful night in PETA for “Bound And Gagged” happening at the same time.

It was quite an experience for me to encounter the founders of Nuffnang so far. They are funny, they are witty, but as it turns out, they’re also wise beyond their years. Getting some time out to look closely at them and understand what makes them tick has certainly helped us get a better handle of how we should be approaching what we do in this company and how it would be best for us to really meet our full potential here.

I, for one, am glad I found myself at a prime time where things are really on the cusp of a boom.

Monday would be the first of two nights straight where I sang “Beer” by the Itchyworms, currently my favourite song to sing to myself, even if, ironically, I don’t even drink.

Wednesday night was pretty interesting, too. We ended up having an awesome night at sir Jay’s humble abode as we were treated to a stellar night of food, drinks, and great company. Our friends from takbo.ph, flaircandy.com, Between Bites, and quite a few more certainly had a memorable night with Tim and Ming and the entire Nuffnang team.

It was really special because Chef Heny Sison was actually there that night as a special favour to Carlos, and we were treated to an awesome heaping of food so good, I don’t even know how to spell ‘em! Needless to say, this meant I had five straight days of crunchy pork, and this one night involved Cochinillo.

Bonding with the various bloggers, getting to pick Tim and Ming’s brain, enjoying the company of my co-Nuffies, what more could a guy ask for from a night of revelry, right? For a more enticing coverage of this night, well, check out Tim’s post!

.:A Special Alchemy Night!:.

Tuesday night was marked by the fact that we raised a staggering 19,000 for a cause just with the power of some laughs, music, and magic. As I had to open the night for the Cartel people who were there, I decided to try out a few of my new one-liners, then follow it up with my tried and tested magic routines just to get the crowd up and at ‘em, ready for more comedy for the night.

I think it was one of the best nights we had, considering how many people just poured on in to support our cause. It’s pretty much the same way it has been for me during L&G in 2008 and B&G in 2009, and hopefully something either in 2010 or definitely in 2011, otherwise. Doing things for a cause has been something that has been very fulfilling and has allowed me to contribute myself to people in the best way I knew how.

More power to everyone that night, especially GB, who really made the whole night possible. It was awesome, and I was definitely happy to have been a part of it.

Project 365 (84/365): The Steel Straightjacket

.:84/365: The Steel Straightjacket:.



While not particularly as dangerous as skydiving and escaping from a straightjacket at the same time, the steel straightjacket visually ups the ante by making it look more and more impossible to break away from. Just looking at the contraption, the normal dexterity skill people can exhibit during regular jacket escapes is thrown away and replaced by a lot of lockpicking skill that is normally never used in such close quarters.

Dixie Dooley’s version of this is particularly engaging because the steel contraption certainly looks very restrictive and intimidating all at the same time. It’s very impressive how he demonstrates his apparent skill in lockpicking, and I like how his eyes tell an intense story without him having to do much else as he goes through his performance. Dixie’s really gifted when it comes to making people take notice of him, and this particular stunt is something that steps up from the standard straightjacket act without having to add any great amount of danger, but certainly adding to the challenge of the escape itself rather safely.

My only gripe with this device is that it needs a lot of custom fitting because it’d be terribly unremarkable if you ordered a steel straightjacket that was simply too big for you. It’d be as clear as day from the get-go if you tried to pass yourself off with that, and if you did the opposite, you might not even be able to fit yourself into the steel straightjacket, to begin with.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Hardest Pill To Swallow...

.:After The Love Has Gone...:.

Tuyo Na’ng Damdamin
By The APO Hiking Society

Minsan kahit na pilitin mong uminit ang damdamin
‘Di siya susunod at di maglalambing
Minsan ‘di mo na mapigil mapansin
Na talagang wala nang naiiwan na pagmamahal

At kahit na anong gawin
Di mo na mapilit at madaya
Aminin sa sarili mo
Na wala ka nang mabubuga

Parang ’sang kandila na nagdadala
Ng ilaw at liwanag
Nauubos rin sa magdamag
Minsan di mo na mapigil mapansin
Na talagang wala nang naiiwan na pagmamahal

At kahit na anong gawin
Di mo na mapilit at madaya
Aminin sa sarili mo
Na wala ka nang mabubuga

Di na madaig o mabalik
Ang dating matamis na kahapon
Pilitin ma’y tuyo na’ng damdamin
Tuyo na’ng damdamin

Tuyo na’ng damdamin...


It’s been said before, but love isn’t like a video game, where you can just go back to your last savepoint after you screw something up. You don’t get too many second chances at love, and once you blow your chance, more likely than not, you’ve blown your chance. There’s no “restart from checkpoint”, there’s no “extra lives”. What you get is what you get, if that.

It’s been said before, but love isn’t like a movie, where things always end up for the best no matter how bad the outlook may be. If you’re the underdog, chances are, the universe won’t magically conspire to give you your happy ending. That’s all for the best, I guess. It’s harder to truly appreciate something if it’s not something you earned.

It’s been said before, that love isn’t just a feeling. But it’s still part and parcel of it.

I have learned a lot in the past year of this personal Hades I’ve been going through. I have learned what it means to truly love and to feel loss. It’s not something I haven’t gone through before, but the lesson has been more intense than it ever has, if only because I still share these lessons with her as I learn and re-learn them.

I wish her nothing but the best. I wish her nothing but happiness. It would’ve been an easier pill to swallow if I knew in my heart that where she is right now would be the best place she could be, but I know all too well that isn’t true.

And it may have been a year since I’ve called her mine, but I’d still hate to see her cry, and I still can’t bring it in me to tell her “I told you so” after everything has been said and done.

You can fight for love. You can shout from every rooftop in the world how much you want her for the rest of your life. But if it’s just you, then... it’s just you. You can’t force love to bloom again from whence it has faded away.

I still haven’t found my smile. But I know that it cannot lie in someone else. It can only lie within myself. Within my ability to forgive myself for everything I’ve fallen short of that has led me to where I am now. Within my ability to be a better person for the one, if there is that one for me to look forward to.

Either way, life goes on. Happiness is not an option. Not for me, at least.

Project 365 (83/365): The Danger Creep Factor

.:83/365: The Danger Creep Factor:.



You know, escapology is already dangerous enough on its own in a good number of cases. Despite that, when someone manages to do something successfully, there seems to be this insatiable desire to top the previous act, whether by making it more amazing, more fast-paced, or... more dangerous.

First, we had the straightjacket escape. That wasn’t terribly dangerous, but it was certainly a challenging escape, and we’ve seen how someone like Harry Houdini, in order to really escape faster than normal, would actually dislocate his shoulder and the like just to gain enough slack to wriggle his way out of it. Even without any other factors, the straightjacket is already a revered and powerful tool in the escapologist’s arsenal.

Then, they decided to up the ante by making it an upside down escape. It’s still a straightjacket escape, but it’s more dangerous because you can legitimately pass out if it takes you too long to get out of the contraption. There’s also the added danger of the jacket, buckles and all, landing on someone’s face as it plummets down from where you’re hoisted up, not to mention the off-chance that whatever is holding you up malfunctions and you fall to your death.

But no, that wasn’t enough. They decided to put you in a box, submerge you into the cold river, and let you break out of that after you’ve gotten out of your straightjacket. Now, you have to deal with hypothermia or drowning, and plain finding yourself too far out from the shore or the dock by the time you liberate yourself.

And with this particular performance, you now have to escape from a straightjacket, then catch your parachute, then hope to make it to the ground safely, and pray that the jacket doesn’t hit anything valuable, let alone anyone, on its way down at terminal velocity.

Escapology is dangerous. We can’t stress that enough. Unfortunately, the more people see it all, the more performers feel the need to up the ante and make it more and more dangerous than it ever has been. Personally, I find this trend very alarming. Why are we invalidating our insurance policies for a few thousand bucks again?

Lost Gems Of Philippine History: Ang Talaarawan Ni Diosdado Macapagal, Part II

Part 1 is here.

.: Lost Gems Of Philippine History: Ang Tala-Arawan Ni Diosdado Macapagal, Part 2:.

It took me a while to decipher these bits and pieces, but here’s the second half of the very telltale parts I found in the late Diosdado Macapagal’s diary. I hope you appreciate the great public service I have rendered in showing you these entries.

25 January, 1963,

I was introduced to Gloria’s first boyfriend today. He seems very nice. Magaling at matalino siyang bata. I’m glad she decided to date this young man instead of that other boy who kept on visiting Gloria. He reeks. Parang naligo sa dagat ng basura, eh.

Then again, whenever I see that other boy with Gloria, there’s a twinkle in her eyes I can’t quite explain. Maybe there’s more to this than meets the eye.

15 August, 1964,

Out of concern for her well-being, I asked Gloria if she’s been getting any exercise. “Plenty,” she said. I’m glad.

Apparently, Gloria had recently taken up a new hobby for her health. She’s running. She keeps running and running everywhere. I have this feeling she’ll keep on running for a long time, even when she’s not supposed to run anymore.

10 May, 1965,

It looks like I’m not getting elected for a second term, given the exit polls. It disheartens me, but I suppose this will be the end of my political career. Gloria is furious. She swears she will avenge me someday. I don’t quite know what that means, but I don’t like the sound of it.

After ten years, Gloria is *still* 4’11.

10 July, 1966,

This young man named “Jose Pidal” is asking my daughter’s hand in marriage. Who is this guy?

11 July, 1966,

I stand corrected. His name is Mike Arroyo.

02 August, 1968,

Today, I give Gloria away. I know Mike will be a good provider and will do whatever it takes to give my daughter nothing but the best. He is a great businessman, and he has the broadest band of resources available to make it happen.

26 March, 1969,

Today, Mikey is born. He will be a great man someday. Perhaps even greater once he gets married.

But if my count is correct, it’s only been less than nine months since Gloria got married. How is this, I can’t even... premature, maybe?

28 July, 1984,

Is it just me, or did she just get implants? Why?!?

22 February, 1986,

People are gathering to demonstrate against President Marcos today. Will he step down against all this pressure? Gloria called me on the phone to tell me that she’s taking notes on this as we speak. I wonder why.

10 October, 1987,

What a chip off the old block. Gloria was asked by President Aquino to become assistant secretary in the Department of Trade and Industry. Could this be the start of bigger and better things for my little princess?

Also, Gloria is *still* 4’11.

02 May, 1990,

I am very alarmed by the state of our country. Although democracy has been restored, the stench of bureaucracy and corruption has emanated far worse than it ever has in a time of democracy. I am very disturbed by it, and I would rather that my cherub wash her hands of this grime.

03 May, 1990,

As difficult as it was for her to acquiesce to my wishes, Gloria has decided not to seek public office in 1992. Whew. Crisis averted.

10 November, 1991,

Gloria has reneged on her promise to me, and decided to run for Senator next year. As betrayed as I felt, I understood when she explained that she is running because God has called her to.

30 June, 1992,

I’m proud of Gloria. Apparently, God has indeed called her to the Senate, as she topped the polls and has garnered a lot of good will all over the country. Surely, she will not repeat her old man’s mistakes and know that the Senate is a great place for her to ply her trade in, where she can do the most good for the country as a fiscalizing legislator who will know how to continue to raise the country’s economic standing.

15 April, 1997,

This will perhaps be my last entry, as it’s been increasingly difficult writing while here in the hospital. As my last dying request from my daughter, I asked Gloria to not seek higher office come 1998. She has done so well in the Senate, and I know that she will do the best work that she can while she is there. I fear that if she ran for higher office in 1998, it would irreversibly corrupt the sweet, innocent child she has always been to me.

She promised me this morning that she will honor my wishes and my name. Surely, she will not go back on her word to her dying father.

I always thought she’d at least be 5’ by now, but I was sadly mistaken.

21 April, 1997,

I’m surprised at how well I’ve been recovering. I might actually just make it past all of this, and... wait... who cut the wires to my oxygen tank? Y-you – how could you? Oh, no...


And with that, his diary entries came to an abrupt end. Most interesting, don’t you think?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Oh-Some!

.:Oh-Some! Orange Chicken Night!:.

Thanks to Alodia, I found myself smack dab in the middle of one of the most interesting blogger events I’ve come across in a while, which was the launch for Chowking’s Orange Chicken, which promised everyone an exciting night, and they definitely didn’t disappoint.

We got to Chowking in The Fort around 6:30 or so, and the whole place was just all glammed up, and I, being completely disconnected from the world of television for the past few months, have been completely unaware of who was the endorser for the new product Chowking was launching that night.

I knew that the Orange Chicken was going to be a part of their menu. I just didn’t know that Mr. Jericho Rosales, the very same guy Sarah and I saw during the Gary V tribute night last year, was the endorser.

Neither did I even know that he was actually going to be there that night.

In any case, the party started off fine, as I met some of my good blogger friends like Ryan and Arpee, and even ran into Tita Ginggay and Diane, two people I’ve worked with in the past when they booked me as a magician. It was pretty fun just catching up with them, and then next thing I knew, we were served by good food from Chowking, as tons of orange confetti showered all over us.

I was half-expecting Manny Villar or Joseph Estrada to show up at this point, but I was happily disappointed when they didn’t.

Soon enough, the lovely Chef Rosebud showed up and introduced us to the latest from Chowking, as the venerable franchise celebrated its 25 years in existence, and we went up for what would be a very big surprise for all of us. Chef Rosebud is already a celebrity, but we were in for yet another surprise as Jericho Rosales showed up in the flesh.

I could’ve squealed in delight that night (In the manliest possible way, of course.), but I restrained myself. Then again, maybe I didn’t. Soon enough, we were introduced to how to do the chicken dance, and next thing I knew, all of us were doing various versions of it.

It was sheer hilarity, to say the least, but with cosplayers taking part in the whole thing, and eleven of them eligible to win 25,000 in a YouTube contest courtesy of Chowking, everything was just crazy that night. Prizes were given away to daring souls who danced like they’ve never danced before, and I found myself just laughing along as I danced like a fool that night.

Sarah even had a picture taken with Echo, which is a far cry from the last time we ran into the guy, as I was the one who was more keen on having a picture taken with him than she was. :P

Nonetheless, aside from Jericho Rosales, the highlight of the night was easily none other than our chance encounter with Mr. Robbie Carmona, whom we mistook for Vice-Presidential candidate Edu Manzano. As I was in green, I tried passing myself off as his running mate that night, which provided for a lot of amusement.


Your moment of Zen.

More Articles On The POC...

.:Oh, Look! A Couple Of New Articles!:.

I’m sort of on a roll lately writing for The POC, and here are a couple of articles I wrote on the political side of the spectrum...

“Made Of Win” covers my thoughts on mayoral candidate Erwin Genuino, who seems to be going strong heading into the new elections. On a personal level, I do like what he stands for and how he thinks, but it’s all moot as I’m not a Makati voter.

On the other hand, nobody is spared as I talk about each presidential candidate in my other article, and comment how they are one-trick ponies. It’s really a bit sad that they revolve around only one thing, and even in light of the fact that the one thing they hinge their candidacy upon isn’t really working, they prove that they are anything but multi-dimensional. It’s a very harsh rundown of all the candidates, and I’d like to keep it that way rather than salivate over one presidentiable or another.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Project 365 (81/365): Criss Angel's "Daring" Building Escape

.:81/365: Criss Angel’s “Daring” Building Escape:.



This much-hyped performance by Criss Angel has got to be one of the most maligned acts in recent memory, to my recollection. I don’t really know if it’s because the escape seemed so contrived, or so needlessly dangerous, or so unbearably reeking of fakeness, or full of logical gaps that appear to be gamed in favour of Angel, but ultimately, this stunt has polarized more people when it comes to Angel, more than any of his other acts.

It’s a simple premise, really. Trap Criss Angel in a condemned building set to be imploded, and see if he can get out in time. Have cameras track as much of this whole stunt as possible, but *conveniently* disappear from covering his escape the moment the building is blown up so as to maintain the suspense.

Yes, you can tell I’m not too big a fan of Criss Angel. Bear with me, though.

Criss Angel manages to safely get away from the whole thing, and lives to fight another day. He takes his applause, and people start talking about how he did it, or if it was even a legitimate escape to begin with. Either way, he has gotten people talking and he has demonstrated a deep appreciation for Harry Houdini in the multiple times he has done escapes or performed magic that Houdini has done during his career, such as making an elephant vanish.

If you watched the video, in reality, there should be no need for Angel to use any trickery, to begin with. Escaping from a building and lockpicking his way out shouldn’t be that difficult for someone supposedly as skilled as he is, because he’s been doing it for years, right? Nonetheless, the choice of shots, the pandering drama, all of it just results in a polarizing outcome where you have half of the people watching genuinely concerned for Angel’s well-being, and the other half morbidly wishing he doesn’t make it out of the building in time because he’s such an insufferable ham.

Still, he has performed a pretty nifty escape act, and for that, I must acknowledge him, whether or not I do like his style. I just wish he’d stop doing these made-for-TV stunts, because it sets back the integrity of TV magic by decades. In an age where special effects are the norm, we’d at least like to prove that what magicians do on TV, they can actually really do live.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Project 365 (80/365): Thumbcuffs

.:80/365: Thumbcuffs:.



Handcuffs are cute but overexposed. They’re very useful to show off escapes, but when it comes to portability, it’s hard to beat getting plain old thumbcuffs, which aren’t too difficult to acquire at all in this day and age, and packs very small but plays off perfectly well with a close-up audience.

Thumbcuffs work on the very same principle as their larger counterparts, except for the fact that in locking your thumbs up, it becomes much more difficult to lockpick your way out of them due to the limitations in mobility imposed by the cuffs.

However, any escape artist worth their salt could tell you that there is a nice little feature thumbcuffs naturally possess that handcuffs don’t. And this one little feature makes all the difference and enhances escapes for those who utilize thumbcuffs when it comes to the speed of execution required to pull off a decent escape. It’s funny, it’s amusing, and it certainly has the qualities of a regular in-and-out happy routine.

If a street performer ever felt uncomfortable carrying out full-sized handcuffs, or, heaven forbid, a set of Shanghai shackles at any given time, I do believe that utilizing these very cool thumbcuffs could be a happy medium, as it certainly does the job very well for establishing yourself in less than three minutes as a good escape artist with a dapper sense of humor, to boot. The fact that you can easily subject the average spectator to these cuffs and demonstrate to them how difficult it is to escape from the contraption is just icing on the cake, really.

Project 365 Backlog (79/365): The Rubberband Escape

.:79/365: The Rubberband Escape:.

If you ever bought Dixie Dooley’s video series, you’d have heard of this one, and it’s one of the nicest escape acts you can do to encourage a bit of audience participation.

Essentially, you hand out a box of rubber bands to go around your entire audience, and you ask them to put the rubber band around their pinky and their thumb, the band running behind of their other fingers. The challenge to them is that without using their other hand or holding the rubber bands against a surface, they should be able to liberate themselves from the rubber band using only one hand.

As they struggle to do that, you demonstrate to them how easy it is, and then move promptly on to the rest of your show.

It’s simple, it’s fast, and because you extended the challenge to everybody else, you’ve made it very clear that you’re a very skilled performer and not everyone can just go out there and do what you do. As an opener or as a breather after a particularly scary act, I think this suits your needs very well, and could take you places, to say the least.

Considering a box of rubber bands isn’t terribly expensive at all, this is a pretty good routine to add to your show if you need a bit of a time-filler that requires some audience participation. It’s also one of the easiest ways to get people interested in escapology, as it’s a basic building block for the skillset they will eventually need if they got very serious with this particular aspect of the art: dexterity and a cool head under pressure. If you did this experiment on an audience, you will notice for sure that a lot of them get frustrated over the fact that they can’t seem to escape from the loop no matter how hard they try.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Normalizing, Finally...

.:Hitches Abound, But I Soldier On...:.

Lots of things I need to fix en route to ending this week, but I guess it'd be best if I just held off on doing a lot of stuff in the meantime. Ultimately, I'm swamped with standup comedy and work and magic shows and all that, but I've been managing to balance things lately.

Still need to write about meeting up with Herbert Bautista, though. And the Orange Chicken launch at Chowking last night, which was quite a fun event, to say the least.

In any case, things should be fine, heading into the weekend.

Project 365 (77/365): Robbie Williams's Escapology

And finally, the backlog has been cleared out! Whew.

.:77/365: Robbie Williams’s “Escapology”:.


Yes. I meant the album.

I wanted to go and talk about this particular album, if only for its title. I like Robbie Williams as a musician, and ultimately, he’s one of the better performers of our generation.

This album was sort of a coming of age for Robbie. It was his fifth studio album, and it actually marked his noticeable increase in creative control over his album. He parted ways with his songwriter, Guy Chambers, and started writing more songs in the album himself, as well as redoubling efforts to actually break into the United States, which he last achieved with his debut solo album, The Ego Has Landed.

Anyways, I think the title of the album really suits Robbie and the way his life really is, because he’s a very misunderstood genius, in my opinion. He has had numerous songs, and his talent is definitely immeasurable, but he’s always had the problem of not quite finding out how to break free from his demons and given the Take That reunion, his past.

Escapology as a magical art is aspirational and symbolic to most people who watch it. The excitement of seeing a man in mortal danger for our entertainment cannot be denied, but neither can we ignore the sheer joy that comes with seeing the escapologist succeed, and us living vicariously through his very success. It speaks to us of the escape that we seek and crave from the mundane, from the dreary, and from the mediocrity we beset ourselves with in daily life.

With every chain, every rope, every lock we liberate ourselves from, in the audience’s minds, they are reminded that they can break free from their own bonds as well. The bonds of bad governance. The bonds of apathy. The bonds of underachievement. There are so many things wrong with this world, but escapology, as opposed to mere escapism, shows us that those who wish to make a stand can and will find ways to break free. It’s not merely about getting away from something. It’s about ending the cycle and breaking past it.

We all need a little escapology in our lives, I guess. Whether we need to escape from the problems we’re dealing with, or we need to escape frivolous accusations against our reputation, or escaping Being itself (Thanks for nothing, Levinas!). Give the album a listen, and take note of the song entitled “Come Undone”. I’m pretty fond of that song.

Project 365 Backlog (76/365): Assistant's Revenge

.:76/365: The Assistant’s Revenge:.



One of the best escapology routines ever that involves no mortal danger to the performers, the assistant’s revenge is an escape act that really catches the attention of people because of the apparent sheer speed it is executed.

Invented by one of the best minds in the world of magic, Robert Harbin, this act features a magician restraining his assistant by an assortment of locks and straps to a large apparatus, then as he closes the curtain around the whole thing, by the time he comes out on the other side, it’s no longer the magician, but the assistant. In one continuous motion, he reopens the curtains, showing that the magician is now in those same restraints, effectively proving that he has gained his “revenge”.

What else can I say about this routine that I haven’t covered in the description? Well, for starters, it’s a very strong favourite among escapologists and illusionists alike, and is certainly capable of ending a show if they wanted it to be the highlight of the night. What makes this routine very amazing is the simplicity of the whole script, and the delayed reaction before people realize that a very inexplicably fast switch just happened right before their eyes.

Even if I know the mechanics behind this particular routine, I still can’t help but be amazed everytime I watch it. It’s like “Metamorphosis” done horizontally, if that makes any sense at all.

With that in mind, this is a fairly expensive routine to set up, what with the curtains and the apparatus and all that. There are plenty of variations on the routine, although I’d be incredibly happy if I could come up with my own presentation for it, since this routine has a lot of legs and can have a ton of options one can work with. Just don’t do a joke where you switch again and again and again and again because after the first or second switch, any further iterations just really turns the routine into a joke, which is the last thing you’d want to do with something that normally costs the average performer $4,000 to have made and shipped to their doorstep.

Project 365 Backlog (75/365): Buried Alive

.:75/365: Buried Alive:.



Can we ever run out of things to say about escapology that doesn’t point back to Houdini, really?

Ladies and gentlemen, what I personally believe to be the most terrifying of all escape acts without having to utilize any additional implements to increase tension: the buried alive act. One of the stunts forever attributed to Houdini, and apocryphally linked to his untimely death (If you read my bit on him in a previous post, you would know this isn’t true.).

I don’t think I even need to describe how dangerous and traumatic an experience it is to have one’s self buried alive. In my estimate, the above video is actually a much more sanitized version of the escape because if something goes wrong, it’s easier to crack the apparatus open than it would be to dig out a guy buried six feet under the ground. Many magicians have attempted to do the buried alive stunt, and some unfortunate souls, such as this guy, have paid the ultimate price.

It’s no secret that being buried alive is a terrifying prospect, but some of the most bullheaded performers just insist on doing something so shocking, so terrifying, that they just might end up regretting it. This routine is something I’m personally very afraid of doing, as I’d sooner have myself hoisted up three hundred feet in the air to do a straightjacket escape upside down than get myself six feet under by choice.

And this is considering I’m deathly afraid of heights. Ultimately, my chances of survival are a lot better at escaping a straightjacket than having nine tons of dirt poured all over me and a plexiglass coffin that may not even sustain the sheer weight of the dirt pouring all over it. The minute that coffin cracks, so do you. There’s simply no two ways about it, and I can’t emphasize enough how dangerous this stunt really is. When you have a skilled and popular performer like Banachek willing to teach his secrets for free to people who wish to attempt this stunt in hopes of keeping them from getting themselves killed, you just know how many people fear and respect the buried alive act for the dangerous performance that it truly is.

Project 365 Backlog (74/365): Bondage

.:74/365: Bondage:.


Kinkeh, ain’t it?


Project 365 Backlog (73/365): The Silk And Rope Escape

.:73/365: The Silk And Rope Escape:.

This is an effect made famous yet again by Harry Houdini, except he actually makes a point of teaching his audience how to do this routine afterwards.

Essentially, you bind your hands with a silk handkerchief, and then run a length of rope in between your hands, effectively held in place by the silk. Without the audience even realizing what happened, you just magically break free from the ropes, with next to no effort whatsoever.

This is a very impressive escape because if you explain the mechanics carefully, it will boggle the mind how you can get away from the loop of rope without even so much as breaking into a sweat. It’s very quick and easy to do, and any magician with a modicum of skill at misdirection wouldn’t find it difficult at all to pull this off.

I even perform a variation of this utilizing handcuffs instead of a silk handkerchief. It works in pretty much the same way, which is a very good thing, since handcuffs are a lot more menacing than a silk handkerchief, to begin with. It doesn’t hurt that I can also lockpick my way out of the cuffs, allowing me a one-two punch when I perform this routine, although I wish it took me significantly less time to lockpick. I still take well over fifteen seconds, and the best pickers take only five seconds.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Project 365 Backlog (72/365): The Crazy Man's Handcuffs

.:72/365: The Crazy Man’s Handcuffs:.



The Crazy Man’s Handcuffs is a classic routine that falls under escapology, and can astound and amaze a lot of people for the small price of two rubber bands.

Essentially, you interlock two rubber bands and hold them with your fingers in such a way that unless you let go of the rubber bands, you can’t free yourself. The magician demonstrates that this isn’t entirely true by rubbing the rubber bands together and magically letting one pass through the other, all the while with the audience looking on very closely and completely clueless as to what just happened.

I must say, this routine is one of the most impromptu demonstrations of escapology available, and if you ever bother picking up the Dixie Dooley Escapology series, you’d even find another neat little escape act there with rubber bands.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Project 365 Backlog (71/365): Don't Try This At Home!

.:71/365: Don’t Try This At Home!:.

With two guestings on "The Sweet Life" under my belt recently (I believe the second one will be on April 5. No word when the first one will be.), I figured I'd take it easy on this one...


We trained long and hard for this. Don’t think it’s all fun and games.


Monday, March 15, 2010

Project 365 Backlog (70/365): The Spirit Rope Tie

.:70/365: The Spirit Rope Tie:.

No pictures for this one, but this is definitely a very popular routine among escapologists.

The spirit rope escape is one of those classic beginner escape acts that gets a lot of humorous byplay working in its favour. Essentially, the appeal comes from the fact that more often than not, most people will be genuinely surprised at how a man visibly tied and restrained can continually show himself free one moment and then still restrained the very next, yet again borrowing from the classic principles utilized by mysticists who do the infamous Spirit Cabinet.

It’s hard to say who popularized this in modern magic, away from the stigma of soothsayers and mysticists who used this particular principle for far more nefarious applications. In this particular case, the spirit rope tie utilizes the same in and out principle of the Shanghai Shackles, albeit it leaves you in a seated position, as opposed to the Shackles, which can be performed from any position you are more comfortable with.

That you only need to borrow a chair, a good length of rope, and a large piece of cloth or jacket to pull this routine off is a big reason to want to learn this. It plays pretty big for something you can perform with all-borrowed materials, albeit I’d personally suggest you bring the rope yourself as that’s something you can’t reasonably expect at any given venue. Nonetheless, with all the different options available to you when performing this particular routine, it shouldn’t be too difficult to understand why it’s very appealing and enticing for any escapologist out there to want to learn it.

Project 365 Backlog (69/365): The Milk Can Escape

As you guys know, I was out for a few days, and this resulted in me having to fill out the days that I missed on my Project 365. However, in reality, I didn't miss a day. I pre-wrote the posts, but just couldn't find a net connection to cooperate with me while I was doing my show in Boracay. Heh.

.:69/365: The Milk Can Escape



This is one of those routines any escapologist would want to do at some point in their lives. This is also a routine that I, Mr. I-Can-Only-Hold-My-Breath-For-Thirty-Seconds, probably won’t be capable of doing. Ever.

Made popular by Houdini, this routine is very popular because it is one that certainly tickles the fancy of the average human being: a spectacle for the morbidly inclined, it’s not very difficult to see the macabre appeal of potentially watching a person drown for your entertainment.

Ultimately, the milk can escape is a safe routine for those who know the mechanics – assuming you can hold your breath for at least ninety seconds. Failing that, this routine can kill you and can endanger your life because you are genuinely submerged in a milk can and it will certainly take time before you can work your way out of it. The working your way out part isn’t that difficult, but it is certainly time-consuming, and is precisely where the danger of the routine lies.

Houdini’s performance of it was deliberately tension-laden. As we all known, Houdini is normally out of the milk can within three minutes, but chooses to prolong the agony of the wait by staying behind the curtain until someone screams to save the drowning man. The wait for his reappearance can go for as long as over half an hour, thereby ensuring that people are on the edge of their seat throughout the routine.

Not something for the faint of heart or the claustrophobic, to be sure. There’s something very eerie about being locked into a milk can that could barely hold a full-grown man with all that water menacingly asking to take you with them forever. If anything, the fact that you have to hold your breath as they lock you in place could be the very thing that would do the performer in.

Project 365 Backlog (68/365), And Today's DK

.:Back On DK After A Whole Week!:.

It was fun being back, although sobering talks about animal cruelty offset with explanations about gay lingo made for a very interesting morning, to say the least. It's good to know that the show went very well, and everyone was on the same page to start the week off right.

.:68/365: The Shanghai Shackles:.


It’s one of my signature routines.

The Shanghai Shackles would be one of the most popular routines I’ve been using for years, and with good reason. If there are two things I’m known for, one is mentalism, and the other is comedy magic.

This routine is technically an escapology routine, but it plays so well for comedy, simply because there’s nothing more amusing than to see rapid-fire in and out moves playing off with rapid-fire patter. There are so many different ways to present this, but for me, the comedic approach works best simply because it allows you to make people laugh but make them still think and wonder how in heaven’s name you pulled off the entire routine.

The (fictional) history of the Shanghai shackles is very colourful. Hailing from Shanghai (duh), the shackles were created to restrain the most maniacal of criminals and prevent them from utilizing chopsticks properly to eat. This forced them to eat with their hands, thereby impugning themselves and resulting in a loss of self-respect. Most prisoners ended up killing themselves in shame.

Others learned to like eating their hands, migrate to the Philippines, and become Capampangans.

Not-so-accurate history aside, this bit of escapology is one of the best routines in my book because it really gets people’s attention. I like performing it on a close-up setting, contrary to popular notion, simply because if you know how to manage the crowd, the fact that it’s that up close and personal can only amaze them even more.

Sir Lou Hilario made it a point to mention that I do the shackles close-up. It seems to me that I was one of the few people who did that, and I’m glad I did, because whether I did it in the middle of the street completely surrounded by onlookers or I did it at a restaurant table, the Shanghai Shackles is one of the best bits of escapology I have ever had. I’ve known several people who have actually asked me for dimensions for my shackles, or tried to duplicate my routine, but they can learn the mechanics of the escape, but there’s no way they could just pick up the subtleties, the panache, and the flair I have injected into the routine that is uniquely me. Ultimately, isn’t that what separates the true performers from those who just know how to do magic?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back From The Atmosphere...

.:Bora Was Tiring Fun:.

Didn't really frolick while I was there. I actually worked as we had a show in Fairways And Blue Water that weekend, and truth be told, it was a pretty good show, to say the least.

With everything going on in my life right now, I pray for more work to keep me busy. I simply have more important things to do than to bother myself with accusations of an irritating nature.

Nonetheless, my Project 365 is going to stay delayed for quite a while... need to regroup.

Boracay was fun. But it could be better if we had more time.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Published Yet Again!

.:Oh, Mikey, You're So Fine!:.

In line with the upcoming elections, here's another article for the POC. This time, it's me throwing my support behind Mikey Arroyo. Hope you like it.

.:The Day Of Reckoning:.

Can't believe it's come to this, but in the end, some things are just not meant to be.

.:This Is By A Good Friend...:.

Fabucelles is also a pretty good writer. Maybe she should write more.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Project 365 And Blogging Hiatus Until Sunday...

Yeah, you read that right. In line with my thesis defense, the last thing I'd tell you is I'm opening for the Itchyworms on Tuesday night in 70's Bistro.

See you after my thesis is signed, sealed and delivered!

Monday, March 08, 2010

Reiterating My Shameless Self-Promotion...

I'm opening for Tim Tayag and the rest of the Comedy Cartel around 8:00PM tonight at Spicy Fingers in Greenbelt 2, and then I'll be opening for the Itchyworms tomorrow night around 10:30 PM in 70's Bistro in Anonas.

Hope to catch you guys there!

Project 365 (67/365): Casey At The Bat

.:67/365: Casey At The Bat:.


A skinny Penn! This is so rare!

The “Casey At The Bat” routine is, admittedly, also an escape act involving a straightjacket. Despite that, it’s the presentation Penn and Teller use that makes it worthy of discussion.

A few days ago, you saw a fairly simple escape from a straightjacket. It wasn’t particularly amazing, but there was nice by-play in the scene that was shown. What Penn and Teller have managed to do here was to take the upside-down escape, already quite a spectacle on its own, and then go and turn it into something even more frenetic and exciting than it already is, to begin with.

The poem “Casey at the Bat” was perfect because it was just long enough for Penn and Teller to play around with the poem to deliver the poem at an increasingly speedy pace at key points in the act. This humorous take and apparent sadism on Penn’s part certainly catches the audience’s attention as Teller helplessly struggles to get out of his restraints, knowing that he could break his neck if he failed to finish the escape before Penn could finish reading the poem.

Penn and Teller are very well-known for this kind of shock value that they employ in order to really leave an indelible mark on their audiences. The impact they have, and the genius of being able to employ even the simplest of magic routines and turning them into a grand and comedic spectacle is something I idolize about Penn and Teller so much. This pretty much explains why I’ve always been a huge fan of the duo, and it makes all the sense in the world why I would be so.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Project 365 (66/365): The Gypsy Mystery

.:66/365: The Gypsy Mystery:.


This is rather awkward...

The Gypsy Mystery is a very popular routine with its roots in mysticists and paranormalists who have demonstrated what has come to be known as the Spirit Cabinet.

Having said that, this routine to me is more of an escapology act than a paranormal one, given the way my partner, Jay, and I have packaged it.

Traditionally, the routine is done this way: ask a volunteer to come up on stage, and make sure he is wearing a jacket. Have him step up beside your assistant as you bind your assistant with ropes very tightly. Then, you have both of them stand in a hoop, you raise the hoop and let the curtain cover them, and once you bring the hoop down, lo and behold, your assistant is still tied up, but she’s wearing the volunteer’s jacket, and it’s very clear that the ropes go over the jacket.

It’s visually stunning and really causes not a small amount of shock from the people in the audience when this routine is done. It’s a very powerful routine that goes well in opening or closing any given show, although it logically assumes a few things, most important of them, the fact that there have to be two performers onstage.

Most magicians such as the great Lou Hilario frown at having two men perform this routine, precisely because of the unfortunate implications of having another man tie up another man live onstage, but it’s precisely this kind of awkwardness and raw impact Jay and I actually thrive on. It helps the dynamic, because as a tandem, Jay and I couldn’t be any more different with how we approach our performance style, and that contrast makes for an entertaining show.

With Jay and I working on a third show hopefully this year (If not, early next year.), you can really expect some new tricks up our sleeves, as well as a few old favourites people have been asking for.

Gypsy Mystery is a routine I first saw from the great Glen Faulkenstein, and locally, sir Lou Hilario has also used this routine to great effect. Personally, I’m a big fan of it because it’s very visual, but it doesn’t require much in the way of props.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Monday, I Open For The Comedy Cartel. Tuesday, I Open For The Itchyworms!!

.:Shameless Plugs:.

On Monday, I open for Tim Tayag and the rest of the Comedy Cartel at Spicy Fingers, 8:00 PM onwards in Greenbelt 2. I’ll be doing standup comedy to get the party started, then you’ll be treated to laugh after laugh after laugh from the best standup comedians in the country today.

On Tuesday, I will be opening for the Itchyworms in 70’s Bistro! Yes. You got that right. I’ll be doing my unique brand of comedy magic, and you can catch me there around 10:00 PM. 70’s Bistro is in Anonas, and the Worms are among my personal idols in Philippine music.

Plus, after all this, I have a TV guesting to do for The Sweet Life soon. This is hot on the heels of Jay Mata’s guesting this Monday on the said show. :D

.:Dumbstruck:.

Ran into Michelle, Grysh, and J again the other day. I was a bit taken aback to be invited at first, but when she told me she had something to offer me, I knew what this was all about right off the bat.

Nonetheless, I went and listened to what they have to say, then promptly ended things by bending metal right before their eyes. Nice way to end a discussion, so it seems.

.:Why GMA?:.

With pride, I share with you my latest article, and it details why I support GMA. Wholeheartedly.

Project 365 (65/365): Dixie Dooley

.:65/365: Dixie Dooley:.



One of the biggest fans of Harry Houdini and himself an accomplished escapologist, Dixie Dooley is one of my personal favourite performers when it comes to the art of escapology.

As an escapologist, Dixie’s repertoire is either a great homage to Houdini, or a blatant ripoff, depending on your mileage. His appeal though is that he has successfully managed to mix good humor and comedic timing with his routines to make the inevitable moment where everyone is gasping in fear over his death-defying escape acts become all the more impactful after keeping the audience laughing and at ease for the better part of the show.

One thing you might notice if you catch Dixie’s video is that he has an extensive collection of Houdini memorabilia. The man is a big fan, and it shows. It’s also good to note that he has his own personal touches on a few classic routines, especially his take on the milk can escape that only he seems to be utilizing at the moment.

Sometimes, I wonder, though. How many in and out moves can one guy do throughout a show before people get the joke? He seems to have a lot of similar routines that all happen to utilize that very principle, and it’s just odd.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Project 365 (64/365): The Straightjacket Escape

.:64/365: The Straightjacket Escape:.


Insanity!

This is always a crowd-pleaser, and it’s amazing how enduring this particular escape has been for decades.

The straightjacket escape is one of the most revered forms of escapology, simply because the association that comes with the straightjacket has always been notorious. As a method of restraining the clinically insane, this device, despite being simple and merely made of cloth tougher than usual, has forever been associated with insanity and the fruits of it. For you to have to be restrained by a straightjacket and for you to have to go through the constricting, even claustrophobia-inducing psychological pu
nishment of one, is a nerve-wracking experience, given proper circumstances.

An escape performance that has been popularized by Houdini himself, the straightjacket escape is insanely popular precisely because it is used to contain those who are insane. That a person can, right before your eyes, wriggle his way out, often through dislocating his own shoulder, a regulation straightjacket, is often a cause for amazement. This really is what escapology is all about: skill at its finest, with no frills being shown to the audience. Just the sheer ruggedness and grittiness of having to get out of one of the most feared forms of restraint of all time.

There are many variations to escaping from this nefarious device, including some that attempt to make it even more dangerous, such as doing it suspended in mid-air, or while balancing atop an unstable platform, or even while sinking underwater in a packing crate nailed shut and set on fire. Ultimately, despite all of these, the appeal and allure of the escape from the jacket itself really is what piques people’s curiosity, and you’d be surprised how many people would want to experience being contained in a straightjacket, even just once. Let them find out for themselves how it feels, and let them understand just how insane you really are to willingly put yourself in one of those things. Not to mention the whole crotch strap part, for that matter.

There are plenty of magicians who have a variation of this very revered routine, and it only goes to show that if these people ever do go insane, the last thing you’d want to do is to put them in a straightjacket. You’d simply be asking for a world of trouble.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Random Thoughts On A Busy Day...

.:The Mike Defensor Meet And Greet, Straight Up:.

Decided to write a bit of a note about the whole thing out of character, and just say that for the most part, I can see where Mr. Defensor is coming from. It’s really difficult to overlook his ties to the president at the moment, but he does make a compelling case to not just accept Herbert Bautista’s candidacy without so much as giving him a closer look.

Also, the roast beef was awesome. I should’ve mentioned that in the article and devoted an entire paragraph to it, because it really was wonderful. Now I’m craving for it again. Mmmm...

.:DK’s Dynamic:.

There seems to be a big change happening with one of the hosts of the Disenchanted Kingdom. Not that there’ll be a changing of the guard, but the host himself/herself will be undergoing quite a change, to say the least.

This situation bears watching.

In the meantime, today’s DK, even without Logan, was incredibly showbiz. We were throwing a whole bunch of blind items at the listeners, and I loved how we kept on making guess after guess in between every single commercial. Marf handling the board today just resulted in a very fast-paced show once the showbiz segments started happening. It was just good, insane fun.

Project 365 (63/365): Roller Coaster

.:63/365: Roller Coaster:.


That was close! Whew!

This iconic escape by one of the (obviously) most iconic magicians of our time, Lance Burton, has got to be one of the most gripping performances I’ve ever witnessed in my life.

Think about the mechanics involved in this escape: first of all, Lance is tied down to the tracks of a roller coaster, and meets grave harm and probably even death if he were hit by the roller coaster rushing headlong to greet him. Secondly, he has to struggle and get out in time before he does get hit by the train or anything of the sort. Lastly, he has to time all of this just right so that he won’t kill any suspense in the act by getting out of the ropes too easily and jumping out of the way too soon.

There are so many things that could go wrong in a performance like this. It doesn’t matter how well-trained Mr. Burton was, he had to choreograph this thing to the last second, or else it wouldn’t be nearly as gripping as the performance you saw. If he was too quick at escaping the ropes, then the whole act made no sense. If he was too slow, on the other hand, he would’ve gotten rammed by the roller coaster.

This escape act is one of my favourites because it not only requires a lot of skill, but a very brass pair from the performer. It’s easy to perform dangerous escapes when underwater or behind a curtain because nobody can see you escape and you don’t have to pace yourself to make things anymore exciting. Here, you have no choice but to pace yourself because everyone watching can see your progress as you attempt to make your way out of those restraints.

Personally, if I could do escapes like these on a regular basis and be compensated well for it, I’d love to. I know I could potentially risk life and limb by doing it, but hey, you only live once, and if they make it worth your while, why not? This is one of those routines that you save for a very special occasion and you don’t just bust it out on a regular basis as it loses its value as a special attraction.

You know what amuses me about the comments on the video though? People who insist that the video is fake. Why? Since when did lockpicking, escapology, and plain balls ever become “fake”? One of these days, I’ll be having a few very harsh words with people who like killing faeries in magic, and I can assure you, I’m not going to be very charitable with it.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Lost Gems Of Philippine History: Ang Talaarawan Ni Diosdado Macapagal, Part I

.:Lost Gems Of Philippine History: Ang Tala-Arawan Ni Diosdado Macapagal, Part 1:.

After much digging, I actually found the authentic copies of the lost diaries of former president Diosdado Macapagal. I know this sounds too good to be true, but it’s very much true. I wanted to scan them for you to see the actual words in his writing, but I was afraid of damaging the pages from the diaries.

The former president wrote extensively in his diary, but I wanted to pore over the segments where he wrote details about his daughter, Gloria. He appears to like writing in a mix of English and Filipino, which is weird, since I was expecting him to write predominantly in Capampangan, but who am I to judge him, right?

Anyways, a few select excerpts from his diaries...

05 April, 1947,

I still recall Purita sometimes, but I’m grateful Evangelina is still by my side. Today, I welcome to this world a bundle of joy, Gloria. I named her for the glory that I feel befits our country, and the poise, grace, stature, and integrity I know I and Eva will instill in her. I hope she turns out tall, just like me.

08 May, 1947,

Today is Gloria’s baptism. It was so difficult to take her to the church. She was crying so hard. Poor child. She must be afraid of such big places.

22 January, 1948,

What a milestone! Gloria said her first word! She said “no!” Come to think of it, I don’t know if she said “no”, or “noh”. Hard to tell.

30 March, 1948,

This is odd, but it appears Gloria learned to run before she could walk. I guess that makes her very special. Such a special child.

12 April, 1952,

Last week was Gloria’s fifth birthday. In a bizarre turn of events, her nanny cheerfully hung herself in the middle of Gloria’s party. It was such a disaster. I’m glad we managed to get a new nanny on such short notice, though. Although she’s an expat, Mrs. Baylock seems to get along just marvellously with Gloria. I just wish they didn’t keep that fierce-looking dog they found, though. He’s downright menacing.

05 April, 1955,

Having turned 8, it’s unbelievable that Gloria is already 4’11! Such a tall child for her age.

04 September, 1956,

Nahuli ko si Gloriang nangungupit sa pantalon ko. Ulit. I’m glad she apologized, though. She told me she was sorry for her lapse in judgment. How can I stay angry with a sweet girl like that?

30 June, 1961,

It’s odd making the transition now, having won the presidency. Gloria has been exceptionally happy about moving into Malacanang. She says she wishes she could stay here forever.

19 July, 1962,

After her classmate mysteriously got expelled from school, Gloria, who was originally their vice president, ended up becoming class president today. I’m so proud of her. I’m sure she’s on her way to greater things.

Unfortunately, she's *still* at 4'11.

Project 365 (62/365): The 100-Foot Rope Escape

.:62/365: The 100-Foot Rope Escape:.



The amazing thing about this escape is that the bigger and more menacing-looking the rope you use for the escape is, the better your odds of actually getting away in record time from the whole mess.

The 100-Foot Rope Escape is one of the most entertaining forms of escapology out there simply because it challenges the audience to attempt to restrain you by using their own creative thinking and ability to form knots and the like. The implicit challenge is that you must be able to escape from the rope in a shorter amount of time than it took for the challengers to tie you up.

The rules should be obvious: they can tie you up, but they’re not supposed to rough you up. Essentially, they can’t tie your neck to a chair, or make sure that you chafe on the rope, or anything of the sort. Outside of that, they are free to execute any way they feel like it, and it’s up to you to liberate yourself in a timely fashion.

This is one of the most impressive demonstrations of escapology available just about anywhere, even on the street. Some of the most daring escapes require a different setting altogether, but the 100-foot rope escape gets by on just a length of rope, a chair, and two very enthusiastic volunteers. You can’t go wrong with a routine that is a definite crowd-pleaser for minimal investment on your part.

The most amazing part of the escapology series is that more often than not, there are no secrets to speak of when it comes to escapology. All one really has to do is to figure out how to do it. It’s a skill, not a trick.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Project 365 (61/365): Lockpicking

.:61/365: Lockpicking:.



Any escapologist worth his salt should know even just one form of lockpicking, as it is an invaluable skill that will allow you to pull off pretty much any kind of escape involving locks so long as you are properly armed to pick the locks.

The art of lockpicking is often a misunderstood one, as most people assume only people who are up to no good would bother to learn it. In reality, they couldn’t be more mistaken. Lockpicking is prevalent as a way of testing the limits of security of any particular lock, and just like there are “good” hackers in the world of computers, there are similarly “good” lockpickers who use their skills to better evaluate the quality of a lock facing them.

Furthermore, if you are stuck in an emergency situation that involves locks, a lockpick would certainly be a better option than outright destroying a lock, or anything worse, for that matter.

I’m not going to teach you how to pick locks, but needless to say, there are a lot of books out there that will. Consider the video above as merely a teaser, because in all honesty, even if you did know how to lockpick a pair of handcuffs, that’s only the first step of the escape, as you will certainly need to liberate yourself from a lot more afterwards.

This may be a short feature, but there’s so much more that can be done with knowledge on lockpicking. From handcuffs to shackles to cages to jail cells, the possibilities are limitless, and it makes for a more gritty and immersive performance for the escapologist if he would have to utilize genuine lockpicking in his act, as it’s always quite an adventure to match wits with these restraints.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Project 365 (60/365): Harry Houdini

.:60/365: Harry Houdini:.


Welcome to escapology month.

Harry Houdini, born Erik Weisz in 1874, is best known as the greatest escape artist of our time. From the milk can escape to the straitjacket to metamorphosis, he has done it all, and he has gained legendary status in the magic industry. To this day, his sudden and tragic death mystifies people and makes them wonder what greater things could’ve been in store had he not passed on at the height of his fame.

In the realm of magic, Houdini isn’t very popular despite the fact that he has performed feats such as making an elephant vanish in the middle of a carnival tent. Owing to his small frame, most people were much more entertained by the prospect of seeing him put himself in mortal danger as he tried to escape from locks, shackles, handcuffs, and other implements, using a wide variety of methods he was familiar with. He is very well-known for his ability to dislocate his shoulders when he tries to escape from certain devices, so that he’d be able to gain some slack.

The truth is, Houdini has done a lot over his entire career. Calling himself “Harry Houdini” in honor of both Robert Houdin and (supposedly) Harry Kellar, he was a cross-country runner and trapeze artist even before he got into magic. He started in magic as a cardician, even dubbing himself as the “King of Cards” at some point, but at 5’5 and with a stocky frame, he wasn’t terribly entertaining to watch. He then got into escapology, and the rest is history.

Aside from magic, Houdini was also into aviation, and was a very big skeptic who has attempted to debunk many mystic performers of his time. In fact, one of the most infamous instances of his scepticism was when this resulted in a rift between him and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle of Sherlock Holmes fame, who believed in the Cottingley Fairy hoax, which at the time, seemed completely impossible for them to disprove.

Houdini’s contribution to magic and escapology in particular would be insurmountable. From the Chinese Water Torture chamber to the milk can escape to simple handcuff escapes, he brought to the mainstream a kind of exciting act that offered magicians an avenue that goes beyond “tricks” or “powers”. The best escapologists, as most laymen would tell you, are outright skilled people. They know how to escape, they know how to liberate themselves from the most difficult of implements, and there is no reason for them to rely on trickery or supernatural powers. They are simply that talented.

Without Houdini, it would be hard to imagine escapology as it is today. It’s still dangerous, it’s still high-profile, but ultimately, there’s little to do that Houdini hasn’t already done in his time.

It was rather unfortunate, then, that his death was most likely linked to an incident where he was punched multiple times in the stomach before he was ready to take such a blow. This supposedly ruptured his appendix, and it led to his untimely demise. Ever the skeptic, he gave a secret message to his wife prior to his death that would be his means of disproving from even beyond the grave any psychic or medium who would claim to be able to communicate with the dead. All Houdini’s wife had to do was ask for the specific message his husband gave her before his death, and if the soothsayer couldn’t give it, then he fails the challenge.

Houdini kicks off this month of escapology, and is certainly worth a moment of recognition and honor, no matter what controversies may hound him in life and in death.