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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ropossa and onomatopoeia

Apart from sword swallowing, mama also swallows huge balloons.

In Sapporo we have a "snack bar" called Ropossa ("Sapporo" read backwards in the Japanese alphabet). The "mama" there does magic every night, but she claims that her bar is not a magic bar and she also says she is not a magician. She is good at magic, though.

I went there on Thursday and had a good time. I ended up sitting next to a very old man who picked up magic as a hobby after retiring and who wanted to show me some magic. He had a very impressive cigarette trick. I showed him some magic too, and he seemed very happy.

Tsubasa showing magic to the Ropossa people in our magic bar.

On Friday, the Ropossa mama showed up in our magic bar at 2 a.m., together with one of her regulars who I showed some magic to a while back. They seemed happy with my magic and the magic of the other magicians in our magic bar. I did some tricks that mama also does, and she was excited to see them from the spectator's position, she said.

On Saturday, my magician colleague Tsubasa went to Ropossa after his shift in our magic bar finished. He messaged me and said I should come too. Right then, we got a set of new customers in the magic bar, so I performed for them and had to stay a while longer, but at 3 a.m. I left and dropped by Ropossa on my way home. Mama likes surprising people, in any way possible. She for instance burns large amounts of "flash cotton" (this burns very quickly, like a small and not dangerous explosion) close to your face from behind. Tsubasa reacts very strongly and in funny ways to such things, so it was a lot of fun seeing these two interact.

Mama also finds it funny that the owner of our magic bar has a project where he tries to get me to "learn" Japanese expressions with the wrong meaning, so I will use them in inappropriate situations and people will laugh at me. I once told him that it is difficult to me to pick up or understand Japanese onomatopoeia, since they are often not listed in dictionaries. When they are listed, the explanations are not very detailed either, so "sakusaku" (used to describe the crunchiness of things like cookies) and "paripari" (the crunchiness of things like potato chips) would both be translated as "crunchy" (if listed at all). I said that I usually pick such expressions up from how people seem to use them, or by people telling me "paripari is for example potato chips".

A good way to learn Japanese onomatopoeia!

He now goes out of his way to use the wrong expressions when I am around, in the hope that I will think that is how you use these expressions. The Ropossa mama gave me a children's game where you have to grab a card with a drawing representing an onomatopoeic expression when that expression is read by the game leader. Whoever grabs the most (correct) cards quickest wins the game. It came with an answer key, so I can use this to learn the correct way to use such Japanese expresion.

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