Friday, October 28, 2011

My First Magic 6: My Magic Books

Other than the books I copied from the library, I wrote down magic books on my own. I also created and adapted magic of my own. Some of them, looking back, was quite nonsensical and some, interestingly, works, including those which I put some thinking into the choreography and blocking of the magician!

I also recorded the secrets of the magic tricks that I have guessed on television, concerts and shows. In other words I had a lot of "Nothing" books! (My mother was a kindergarten teacher until I was about 5 years old so she had a lot of empty books for me to write and paste things on.)

Mad Book of Magic!

An elaborate magic trick on stage with just a coin!

My own script about Flying: 'Name me a thing that flies. Yes, birds aeroplane. Who build the first aeroplane. Wright. (Ok, ok, I didn't have that pun then.) Name me a thing that floats in the air. Yes, a hotair balloon. There's one more thing that float: it's this stick. Now don't blink your eyes, you are about to.... erm, I see two boys did as I told them. They did not blink their eyes, they close them! Now really look closely.'

I experimented and made a stick float in the air when I was twelve years old. (That was some time before David Copperfield floated!)

This entry is after watching Princess Tenko perform on TV or live probably! (Oh, I love magic so much, that I bought a ticket to watch her and gatecrash a 2nd time to watch her again! Tickets are expensive even though she came in my secondary school days!)

The secret of how David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. On the bottom of the page, I made a cheesy joke of why the statue is that of the lady, not man, or else there would be a smell from the armpit that's carrying the torch.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My First Magic 5: My First Magic Kits

My first magic kit was probably bought from a shop in Marina Square. Someone was demonstrating the magic and I think my parents were very surprised with the outcome. So they bought the set which has 2 magic inside it.

I had lots of fun playing with them. (Although as a kid, I find one of them almost impossible to do!) I have sort of graduated from a homemade magic to something... different!

Then later, a pepsi has this promotion which was giving away free magic tricks whenever you buy lots of drinks. My dad managed to get his hand on quite a few and I think I almost collect 70% of what they offered. Suddenly, my repertoire of magic increased! I would play them over and over again.

Finally, probably the most expensive magic kit I had that I finally got in Primary 6 was this $19 set from Gician's Novelty. $19 then was A LOT of money. I didn't buy it myself. My parents would NEVER EVER buy it for me. My aunt and uncle, who brought me to this exhibition at World Trade Centre, bought one for me and one for my cousin. (Ironically, Gician became a very good friend, whom I go magic conventions with and he is performing for our company now!) She went on to give another bigger magic set that year again.

My aunt has always been very supportive of my magic hobby. Even now, she knows that I do not have cable TV so she will record the magic shows on CD and pass them to me.

My cousin never become a magician, I did! Perhaps that $19 was a good investment.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

My First Magic 4: My Library Books

I continued learning magic tricks through whatever means I can. There wasn't any internet then.

I remembered that the National Library Board has a Book Suggestion scheme in which you can suggest a book that you want to borrow and they will try to get it. I did that. In secondary school, I did the same thing.

I was happy that by the time I was in upper primary, Jurong East Library has opened and they stocked a series of magic books, mostly by this author call James W Baker.

Despite not eating during my canteen break and saving up 20 cents pocket money, (I didn't want to spend as my parents has inculcated a habit of saving and I can see that earning money is not easy for them.) I didn't even want to spend the money to buy new magic props. The book was just right for me because it made use of everyday objects. In fact, I didn't even want to spend that money on photocopying the book, which I could have, instead, I copied WORD for WORD onto a book for those magic I like and made my own Magic Book.

I was and will always be grateful to James W Baker. In 2003, I credited him in after I published my original creations on a column call "One Man Parade" in the Linking Ring, a publication of the International Brotherhood of Magicians. And lo and behold, he emailed me.

Can you imagine a childhood hero emailing you? It was an incredible moment. We had a short chat over email and I promised that I will visit him hopefully at the next magic convention. That chance never came. He just passed away early this year.

In Feb 2006, his only and last "One Man Parade" was published. Deep inside, I was hoping that I inspired him to do so. He always is an important part of life.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My First Magic 3: The Magic Shop at Popular

I never had my own magic set until very much later in my life. But whenever my parents, the tutors, went to Popular bookstore at Bras Basah to buy assessment books for their students, I will have a field trip in spending my half day at a magic shop inside the bookshop.

The owner is probably quite a famous magician in Singapore. (He later was a consultant on mediacorp TV for the gambling show.) He would demonstrate his magic whenever he has new customers but probably never to me. I was a regular face there but I never bought anything from him. I never had that much money to pay those expensive props. But I would still hang around to watch him as well as the TV that plays endlessly.

Of course, along the way. I tried to guess and figure out how certain magic was done.

One of them was the Svengali Deck. It is this cool magic where an audience choose a card and every single card will change to that chosen card. I couldn't afford that deck of super magical cards.

When I was a kid, my grandfather works in the cigarette company and had lots of free decks of cards that he will pass to me to do magic. I experimented and I come up with a TOTALLY different way a Svengali Deck might work. I guessed wrongly.

Thinking back, it worked fine, but it wasn't as good though. I recorded it down in one of my magic books here:

But I am happy that I am given a chance to think and fail, rather than served to me on a silver spoon.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My First Magic 2: My first show?

One of the times when I was probably around 7-8 years old, I persuaded my mother to look for magic books for me at the library. Then, a visit to the Bukit Merah Library is like a weekly affair for my mum, sis and I.

My mum managed to find a magic book that is in Chinese! OH boy, I couldn't really read Chinese that well then and had to depend on my mum to read it to me. She chose one using a matchbox and I made it up. Here's how it looks like:

I performed it for my classmates. My classmates got excited and got the attention of my teacher. (If I didn't remember wrongly, her name was Mrs Chua. Mrs Chua was a funnily interesting teacher who believes in learning through repetition. She'd make us repeat a word about 10 times.) Mrs Chua got me in front of the class, and I performed the matchbox trick! She was stumped. She took the matchbox away from me. I couldn't protest. I am a kid, she is an adult and my form teacher. She pushed the matchbox in, push it the other way, wondering why so. Finally, she pulled on it and tada, she revealed the secret to the whole class.

I cannot remember what I was thinking then. But it is probably my first performance in front of such a big crowd.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My First Magic

I didn't come from a well-to-do family, neither was I poor. My dad works in a Japanese company but my parents supplement the household income by teaching tuition at night. (They did this since I was probably a baby until I am in University. I told them to take a break as I was beginning to earn enough to give them some money. I stopped taking pocket money since Junior College, but that's another story!) So technically, I didn't have tuition at all, except from my parents!

So all my magic are pretty much self-taught, read, home-made. I didn't really buy much magic when I was young! Here are some of the items made of toothpaste boxes and matchboxes.

One of my first magic that I learnt, was from a calendar that teaches very simple magic. I can make a pen, wand, etc stick on my hand without glue, tape, etc (Learn it from the video below)!

Another one was how I can make a knot disappear. I tried it using the string of my bolster. I was a kid, I think these were magical!

I would perform my new magic for anyone who wants to see it...

Next: My first show in my class in Primary School

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

How did I start learning magic?

I really started magic when I was a boy. I really started magic because of my father.

I come from a middle income family, in which neither of my parents were even remotely related to magic or any kind of performing arts. I don't have the luxury of having any magic items already provided for me as well.

My father merely used magic to amuse and play with me when he is back from work. One of the magic that I remembered is that he would pretend to throw a handkerchief into the air and I would look in that direction and when I turn back it's gone! When I was a kid then, it's truly real magic.

One of my favourites was how he showed a handkerchief and hands empty and then make an egg appear inside the folded handkerchief. You can tap on it, you can hear it, sounds like an egg. You can see the form under the handkerchief. But just when he pulled it away, it's gone! (See below!)

My dad never told me the secret! It kept me curious for many years. It was only a long while later that my aunt tried to perform it and my young cousin "broke the egg".

I am glad that my dad didn't expose the secret to me. I believed in magic and that made me want to learn magic on my own. My interest grew with the help from SBC (Singapore Broadcasting Corporation) then, which was showing David Copperfield specials on TV. I would tape them and watch them again and again!

I explored magic a lot on my own. I tried to think of ways how David Copperfield could do it. I made magic things out of cardboard. I use ordinary objects that I find around the house I am proud to say that I knew quite a bit of the master magician's secrets before I turned 12. (I even wrote a book on secrets of David Copperfield.)

I think parents nowadays tend to spoon feed children with information and knowledge. But a lot of times, kids are smart enough to explore and learn on their own. Give them questions, not answers. I think they will learn a lot this way.

Next: One of my first magic tricks

Sunday, October 9, 2011

If you think you can, you can!

In my students days, I was very inspired by this tagline: If you think you can, you can!

I think this has led me to do many things that I would think that would be impossible for me, like... becoming a magician!

A lot of people thinks that being a magician means resting at home from Monday to Friday and then suddenly we kick into action whenever there's a show!

Unfortunately, no! There's so much to do! From the rehearsal to practice, preparation to planning of routine, testing to improving them. I am created and invested lots of money (many in excess of thousands) on many routines, only to abandon the idea later because I didn't feel that good about it.

Even for my Birthday Magic Show, I am still improving it; thinking of new methods after doing that show for years,. (The work in progress now is a new visual way to make the sugar appear.) Nevertheless, it gives me great joy to create them even if I were to give it up later.

For example, the current Recycling is Fun act is an idea from year 2000. I bought different types of mini trash bins in America and Hong Kong (because I couldn't find any suitable ones in Singapore) to experiment when I had the idea, but only to make its debut in 2008. (More on the thought process of this routine next time!)
Mr Bottle doing the Recycling is Fun act

Of course, show business is business too! There's administrative work to be done. We have to do sales and marketing. We have to meet clients, just like any other business! The only difference I guess is that I don't really consider this work since I enjoy every part of it!

I just met a person, after I told him that I do magic, telling me, "Oh, so you don't work..." How do I answer that question?! Even my parents were telling me when I graduated from University to find a "real job" first.

Anyway, work or not, I know that my magic and business revolves around me 24/7.

I remember in my students days when I am not a magician yet, when my friends are doing holiday jobs, earning money for their favourite brands, I am at home thinking and practising my magic. I wrote down in my diary that I want to become a magician.

If you think you can, you can.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Nothing is Impossible!

If "Nothing is Impossible", then how do we put to action?

I wanted kids to shows as much creativity as they can. I decided to create the nothing book! This is a project that I am pretty proud of because the whole branding just fits into place! Here's the front cover.

Here's the back cover design! In this case ("nothing is impossible"), pun intended! Some of you may already have it when you receive our goodies box at our parties!

What's in the nothing book? NOTHING!! In other words, children can really express their creativity. Something that even the adult may not be able to think of. But I felt, if I were to leave everything blank, perhaps it's too subtle. So I decided to give kids some help.

Inspired by the opening chapter of the story "The Little Prince" by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, I tried to create a story of my own.

The story changed a many times before it was finalised. The final version was part of a joke that I heard when I was a child: about someone handing in a blank piece of paper. Well, it's funny and meaningful. So why not!

Here's the story:
In the next few pages, I put in few samples like what could be done so kids will not be limited to just drawing on them! (When I was a kids, I drew a lot of comics, wrote a poetry book, story books, magic books, etc. I will show you if you are interested! I threw quite a bit away though.).
Do you know that there's a few "secrets" in the notebook? You can actually use these secrets to perform magic! Look for them if you have a copy!

Whether you are a kid or adult, sometimes, don't we get crazy ideas and dream of outrageous things? Record them in your very own "nothing" book and years down the road, you will enjoy flipping through.

If you need a Nothing Book from me, just follow me on my blog, drop me a comment, and I will send you a copy free of charge*! (I am just too confident that nobody bothers to read my blog in details. hahaha)

*Overseas shipping Applies. Terms and Conditions Apply. Alternatively, you can purchase a copy at US$2.99each.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Story of Mr Bottle

Do you know about Mr Bottle's story? This story actually reflects a lot on the philosophy of our company and Mr Bottle. Here's the story:
Once upon a time, there was a very shy child. So shy that he did not dare to talk to anyone in school.

One day, his father bought a bottle of magic for him. "In it, is a potion that will make you grow brave and strong."

Every morning, he would open the bottle for some magic. Day by day, he begin to make more friends.

One day, he saw his good friend cornered by Billy, the big bully. Believing he chased Billy away.

Many years later, he discovered that the bottle was actually an empty bottle. Believing in the magic has changed his life.

This child is none other than Mr Bottle the Magician, who believes that nothing is impossible.

Throughout the years of performing, I have learnt a lot from kids. I love chatting with kids with boundless imagination. For instance, some think that they can be as powerful as certain superheros!

However, there are of course times, children come up to tell me that "there's no such thing as magic." Now, think, if we believe that there's magic, then we can think beyond what we already know, do things that we ordinarily may not be able to achieve. If we think that "Nothing is Impossible", we can accomplish much more! I don't think Leonardo da Vinci would have invented his flying machine if he thought that humans couldn't possibly fly.

A lot of times, we are limited by what we know. If you think that we cannot fly, then obviously you cannot fly isn't it? David Copperfield didn't think so! He flew! (I am not asking anyone to jump off a cliff and imagining that he can fly!)

When I create my magic, I don't think about what I know first. I think about the effects first, what it will look like, then think of ways to create it. Along the way, I am happy to say I have created new methodologies that have surprised many magicians.

Maybe give your children a chance to try, even if it's impossible. If they fail, what's the worse that can happen? They can learn from their mistakes.

Perhaps it's not so bad to tell your kids that Santa Claus is real and reindeer can fly.

Next: Nothing is Impossible!

Monday, October 3, 2011

It's been a long time!

It's been a long time since we posted anything! We have been really busy. Personally, I have been thinking what will be interesting for our readers?

We are busy with preparing of launches of several projects! I think we are overly ambitious in trying so many things at once, but we are so excited with all the ideas. You will see more of these once we launch them!

Of course, at least one of the projects has to do with kids party! We have been incubating this concept for way too long (more than 1.5 years to be exact) and I guess it's time to execute it!

In the meantime, stay tuned to this website for more information!