.:Just Another Magic Monday: A Recap Of Shoot Ogawa In Manila!!!:.

So is that “L” and “M” for “Liquid Metal”?

As I promised, I will going to cover the fact that international superstar Shoot Ogawa actually went to the Philippines to give a lecture and even a hands-on workshop for all the magicians out there last Wednesday. For the paltry sum of 1,500, you would be given the opportunity to not just witness some of the best magic this side of the globe, but even learn from him, and figure out what makes him tick. Man, you really get your money’s worth for 1,500 pesos.

Pictured: Me, getting my money’s worth. Mmm-hmmm.

I got to the venue with some time to spare that night, and I was surrounded by an array of all sorts of performers, and immediately, I knew this was going to be a pretty awesome time. Flanked by fellow Magic: The Gathering players Morris and Redmond, I sat down and saw a veritable who’s who of Philippine magicians: while a few notable names were absent, you couldn’t possibly throw a sponge ball in that room without hitting a performer who has at least guested on television at least three times already.

That being said, what really amazed me about Shoot wasn’t just his mind-boggling dexterity and his amazing skill at handling coins, thimbles, cards, and linking rings. What really, really made me take notice of him was the fact that he put into words what I’ve been trying to express about the difference between learning some tricks and doing actual magic: it’s the power behind pantomime.

When someone makes a coin disappear, or pulls a card from thin air, someone doing tricks is thinking about the mechanics behind the act: in effect, he is literally just going through the motions, as it were. I loved how Shoot Ogawa put it: you are too busy copying what Jeff McBride does without even knowing why Jeff McBride is doing what he does.

The way a person moves and acts as a magician is marked by his ability to delude himself: that he is indeed making a coin disappear, that he is indeed pulling a card from thin air. In doing this, he can convince those watching him that he’s really doing a magical act, and not just assembling a puzzle people have to break down to figure out. This self-delusion is a necessary ingredient for the vissimilitude one requires in order to maintain the suspension of disbelief in any magical or even mentalist act.

I never quite knew how to put all of that into words until I heard it from Shoot. I’ve been vaguely pointing in that general direction all these years, as I watch wannabe magicians doing technically excellent moves, yet not having an ounce of magic oozing out of their act. It boggled my mind why this was the case, and how I could best address this phenomenon. Shoot summed it up perfectly when he discussed the notion of the pantomime.

Anyways, I won’t bore you with the details too much. Needless to say, it was a really good workshop, and we certainly learned a lot and got our money’s worth. I even picked up a couple of DVD’s from the man, and am aching to use his version of the 3-card monte sometime soon.

As a side note, Shoot’s mentor, Charlie Yanagida, was hilarious in his own right and certainly proved by sheer gravitas why he was Shoot’s teacher in the first place. I made sure he autographed my copy of the Yanagida System, which, while performed by Shoot, was certainly the brainchild of Master Charlie himself.

And now, your moment of Zen…

Proof that not all Japanese do the peace sign on cue…