Thursday, December 29, 2005
Well, Christmas is over, the tree is gone (it had a very short stay in the den this year), and I promised Max next year that we'll have the biggest tree we've ever had. That gave him something to look forward to. I hope all of you enjoyed your time with your family and got everything you wanted for the holidays. For me, the best gift was having my entire family together, albeit short, it was a great visit and a fun time.
As I sit here and write this, it's hard to believe the year has already come and gone. I can't remember a year passing as quickly as this one has in my entire life! Now it's time to make those resolutions that we all dread. I'll be keeping mine to myself for the most part, but I will share with you that as I grow older, the more important things in life like family stick out and become more of a reality for me. Hence, I'll be taking more time off this year to spend with loved ones and friends.
I want to personally thank each and every one of you for your gifts, well-wishes, cards, and emails during the holiday season. It really means a lot to me to come to work in the morning and see such happy, positive and cheerful messages. I also want to thank all of you for making this year the biggest and most successful in the history of Hocus Pocus! It is your continued support that drives us and keeps us motivated to be the best magic shop we can be. I promise that 2006 will be an even bigger year for us and a more exciting one for you!
May your New Year's Eve be happy, safe, fun-filled, and joyous!
Until next time,
Friday, December 23, 2005
Well, we made it! Tomorrow the festivities begin on Christmas Eve. We'll be going to my mother in-law's for Christmas Eve lunch and then later we'll be going to my cousin's house for our annual Christmas Eve party! After the celebrations, it's off to bed until Christmas day! We'll go to my mother in-law's for breakfast, and everyone will open their gifts there, and then we'll go to my sister's house where we'll all enjoy a nice Christmas dinner. Of course, everyone will be there, and more gifts will be shared and a great time will be had by all... I'm extremely happy that all my kids will be together this year as it is harder to keep them together the older they get.
Meanwhile, the Christmas tree saga has a happy ending. I mentioned that while we are remodeling our house, the tree spent most of its time on the front porch. That is, until last week. Now, it proudly stands in the den. Max, my son, decorated the tree all by himself this year, and I must say that he did an outstanding job! Of course, since the tree went up, Max's first question was, "Where are the gifts?" Have no fear; the next day they began to magically appear... Today, it is covered and surrounded by gifts, and Max couldn't be more excited!
It's been Christmas here at the shop as well as there have been more new products arriving than ever! I'll give you a little hint: there are some great new products that will be announced in January to kick off the New Year, so stay tuned!
Believe it or not, the shipping department is still buzzing today getting out those last-minute packages and orders. It really has been the busiest Christmas season we've experienced here at Hocus Pocus. Again, we have you to thank!
No matter how you celebrate your holidays, remember the most important thing is the time spent with family and loved ones. Don't let the holiday rush and the little things stand in the way of spending valuable time together.
Thank you to everyone who have sent us your holiday cards and gifts! It really added an extra touch of excitement everyday! I want to leave you with a touching email I received from Randy Schostag:
Thank you for the contributions that you have made to our community during 2005. I believe that Hocus Pocus has raised the bar and set a tough standard for others to follow. Here's wishing you a very Merry Holiday and a prosperous and healthy New Year.
Thank you very much, Randy! Your words mean a lot to myself and everyone here at Hocus Pocus.
On behalf of all the Hocus Pocus family, I wish you the very best holiday this year!
Until next time,
Friday, December 16, 2005
It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Everywhere you go. Well, it's just around the corner now; less than 1 week away before Christmas, and we certainly feel it here. The phones are a-ringin' off the hook, the email inbox is full, the answering system's going haywire, and the shipping department is going nuts! In fact, the shipping department has been staying late in order to make sure all orders go out in a timely fashion just in time for the holidays. Moreover, most of us are in the shop earlier to make sure your orders make it to you on time. This guarantees you the best customer service anywhere!
Last week, we promised you updates and pictures from the first annual Hocus Pocus Christmas Party, but we can only deliver the update. Unfortunately, Mike got snowed in at the Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite during a show Saturday and could not attend the party. And, since he also had the camera with him, there are no pictures to share. But I can tell you that everyone had a great time at the Golden Chinese Restaurant. Good company and great cheer were had by all, I'm happy to report. I guess we'll just have to do it again next year...
The beautiful Tenaya Lodge in Yosemite - a great place to get snowed in.
Christmas Tree Update:
You may remember that last week, I spoke about finally picking up a Christmas tree for the Gross household. Well, we finally picked one up on Monday, but our painter had other plans. So, on the front porch it sits to this day, but not for long. It will be up tonight, guaranteed! And you know what that means: my son Max will be circling the tree like a shark looking for presents. He'll be poking, prodding, investigating, and bribing us to tell him what they are. We'll never give in, though.
Well, gotta go. The phone's are ringing and the emails are piling up.
Until next time,
Friday, December 09, 2005
The Post Office says that you should make your final shipments by the 10th this year, which is earlier than it's ever been. But fear not, for if you need, we have overnight and next day air services available for your shopping needs. Thank you all for your overwhelming support this entire year. More holiday goodies are appearing daily on the website, so make sure you check it every day to see what's new and hot!
Where to put the tree? Seems to be the million dollar question this year at the Gross household. If you remember, I mentioned a few weeks back about the major remodeling going on. There's hammering, painting, tile guys, floor guys, electricians -- you name it, and the furniture is everywhere where it isn't supposed to be. Max's room is in the living room, the living room is in the music room, the kitchen is in the dining room! ARRRRRRRRRRGH! Rest assured, however, we WILL be clearing a space this weekend for the very special Christmas tree. Now, the only problem is finding the boxes with all the decorations...
Dean Dill Update
I spoke to Dean yesterday over the phone, and he is now home. He sounded to be in good spirits, considering both his family's and his condition. He has at least another month or so before he is out of his body cast, and then it's physical therapy for awhile. Because of you and your generous efforts and thoughts, Hocus Pocus has raised a large sum of money for Dean and his family. Dean is very touched by the huge outpouring of support through your emails, well wishes, and donations. If you wish to donate, you can do so by clicking here!
This weekend will be the first annual Hocus Pocus holiday dinner. Everyone will be there so watch for the pictures to appear next week on the blog!
Until next time,
Friday, December 02, 2005
This week's letter will be different than most. For those of you who do not already know, Dean Dill, his wife, and son were involved in a massive automobile accident in Las Vegas earlier this week. Although massive injuries were a result of the crash, Dean reported that they are all lucky to be alive. Dean has suffered the worst with multiple broken bones and is expected to stay in the hospital for a time. According to the news I received yesterday, he will be in the hospital for at least another 10 days to 2 weeks before being released. Because of his injuries, it will be many months until Dean is able to get back on his feet. I have to tell you that in all my years in this business, I have never met a nicer, unassuming, and honest person than Dean Dill. We wish nothing but the best of wishes for a speedy recovery for Dean and his family. If you want to write Dean, you can do so by emailing him at:
The holidays are a-happening around here! It's been go, go, go non-stop since the end of the month of November like no other year prior! As fast as your orders are coming in, we are shipping out. In fact, the shipping department has had to come in early for most of the week so far to accommodate the shipping load! Have no fear; all orders will go out in plenty of time.
In other news, we hired another sales representative, Jeremy Avery. He will start here full-time on the 9th of December and be a permanent part of the Hocus Pocus family! We can't wait to have him. Make sure you make him feel welcome by introducing yourself when calling us. Jeremy is a very charismatic person and his specialty is in street magic!
Also, we will begin another tradition here at Hocus Pocus! I've decided that the first annual Hocus Pocus Holiday Dinner will begin this year. Formally, I mean. We used to have an informal little party at the shop, but this year, Betty and I have decided to make it a more eventful evening by taking the entire staff out for dinner and drinks to celebrate what a fantastic year we've had. Of course, plenty of pictures will be taken and shared with you here, so look forward to those...
Please remember that as the holiday season has officially arrived, try to take it easy when possible between all the shopping and performing, and try to email Dean Dill and his family to wish them well.
Thank you to all of you who have sent in your Thanksgiving stories. I had a blast reading them, and they sure brought back some memories for me. Have a safe and fulfilling weekend.
Until next time,
Friday, November 25, 2005
This morning, Betty was up bright and early, taking advantage of the Day After Thanksgiving Sales! I don't know how she does it, fighting all the crowds, but she always comes away a winner!
Speaking of holiday shopping, the phones are ringing off the hook and every couple of seconds, my email notification sounds off! It looks like it's going to be a bright holiday season here at Hocus Pocus! Thank you!
With that said, I'll cut it short, but before I do, I want to say thank you all, for your tremendous support and holiday wishes.
Until next time,
Friday, November 18, 2005
Pass the turkey and don't hog the gravy! Yep -- it's that time of year again! Thanksgiving is just a few days away! What happened to the months of October and November? They went by so quickly, I couldn't believe it. Almost as if I blinked and it was over!
I don't know how you spend your Thanksgiving, but for the Gross household, we'll be going to my mother in-law's as always. There'll be plenty of turkey, dressing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and all sorts of appetizers. And of course, how can I forget her yalanchi and suberage? They're to die for, both these Armenian delicacies! My sons, Max and Cole, will fight over who gets the wishbone. I don't have to tell you, but you probably know that Max wins out every time. There will be so much food, even after we're finished it won't look like the food was even touched! My mother in-law swears she'll never cook so much again, but she always manages to outdo herself every year. Don't forget, as you sit down with your family, friends, and loved ones, to give thanks for all you have.
For me personally, I'm thankful for my loving wife, Betty, who supports my every endeavor 100%. I'm thankful for my four children, who are all healthy and happy. I'm thankful that my needs are met on a daily basis, and I'm thankful for each and every Hocus Pocus supporter, who enables me to make a living doing what I enjoy the most! I thank you!
So don't overeat (yeah, right), and toast to your family, and if you want, email us and let us know how you spend your holidays! I always enjoy hearing from you.
So, on behalf of myself and the Hocus Pocus family, I wish you the very best of Thanksgivings.
Until next time,
Friday, November 11, 2005
Today, as everyone knows, is Veteran's Day. We wish to take a moment and thank all the men and women who have given so much to guarantee our freedom! With great respect and honor, we salute all veterans, past, present, and those who have given the ultimate sacrifice to insure we live safely and securely! Thank you, all!
Busy is the key word here at Hocus Pocus! If you've been keeping tabs on our web site, you'll see exactly what we mean! Mike took a short vacation and was gone for three days, but you wouldn't have known as he took his laptop with him and continued to update the site in his absence! You can check out the photos below and see that it wasn't all work for Mike:
A view from Mike's room.
Mike's Hotel, the Monterey Beach Hotel
Criss Angel Mastermind DVD, Volume 1
Hooray! After many long delays, the Criss Angel Coin in Soda Can finally arrived on Tuesday! The shipping department had to arrive extra early to guarantee shipping a little over 300 pre-orders along with the orders placed that day for the long-anticipated DVD! It was quite a feat, and all packages went out without a hitch! If you haven't yet ordered this DVD, we have plenty in stock for immediate delivery!
If you are looking for holiday effects to add to your shows, make sure you check out the Hocus Pocus Holiday Section located here! You'll find lots of great effects and even some new ones like "Forgetful Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and "Christmas Presents!"
We keep saying it every week, but the holidays are fast approaching! Here are a couple of sneaky ways to give hints to those who are wondering what to get you:
1. If you're a member and have a wish list, why not print off a copy and leave it in a conspicuous place?
2. You could always ask for a gift certificate for Hocus Pocus!
Rest assured, we'll take good care of all who call to make sure they make the best selection possible!
Last week, I told you that we were undertaking a major remodeling of the Gross family household, and this week it began in full force! Ripping up carpet, tearing down walls, and removing kitchen cabinets have insured that Betty and I will be going out for dinner this week! The entire process will last until the end of January/beginning of February, and I just keep telling myself how great it will look when it's all done!
Keep yourself busy but remember to have a lot of fun in the process! Have a safe and happy weekend.
Until next time,
Friday, November 04, 2005
This week has also zipped by extremely fast. Lots of new items hitting the door every day, and as fast as we put them up, more and more come in! Do yourself a favor and check out the Skeleton Mental Energy Transfer pocket watch on the site. Only 12 have been made exclusively for us at Hocus Pocus, and we've already sold 8 of them. The only way to get yours is to pre-order it today, because as soon as we sell out, it will disappear forever from our site!
Also, we just received long-overdue reprints of some of the best magic books ever printed: Strong Magic by Darwin Ortiz, Smoke and Mirrors by John Bannon, and Seance by Scott Moore-Davis! If you've checked out eBay in the past few years, you'll undoubtedly remember copies of Seance going for upwards of $500.00! Wow!
One more thing I'm proud to carry is something called the Old Lady Illusion. When we first viewed the demo video, we couldn't believe our eyes! I am convinced that if you ever wanted to add a quick-change illusion to your show, this would be a great way to start! This effect is perfect for all types of audiences, whether you perform for children or adults, and it is a guaranteed applause-getter! If you don't believe me, click here and watch the online video for yourself! That's what I really like about this business: looking for unique and different magic effects that cannot be found elsewhere.
I enjoyed being on the Mike on the Mic Program on Magic Broadcast this week with Mike Giusti. Thanks to the listeners for the great comments and questions. There was one person in particular who sent me and Mike a very heartfelt letter, and I told Mike the very next day that receiving that letter was worth the entire broadcast! Support the Magic Broadcast and help it continue to grow. Check it out here!
This weekend starts the major remodeling of the Gross household. What once started as wall painting has turned into a major ordeal, and for the next two months, or possibly longer, I will update you as the process continues. There may be some inconveniences, but I know the payoff will be worth it, and I look forward to the beginning of this project!
Until next time,
Friday, October 28, 2005
On Monday, we received distressing news that John and Tammy Calvert were somewhere lost at sea in their yacht, "The Magic Castle II," due to Hurricane Wilma in Florida. We breathed a sigh of relief when we received the below article from the newswire:
Surviving Wilma on the waves
Couple ride out terror as John Calvert, 94, and his wife, Tammy, 63, survive Wilma on a runaway boat
Laurin Sellers Sentinel Staff Writer
Posted October 26, 2005
Retired stunt man John Calvert, 94, and his wife, Tammy, 63, row back to shore Tuesday after being rescued by the U.S. Coast Guard. They spent a rough day Monday on their 67-foot boat after Hurricane Wilma destroyed the dock to which the craft was tied in Merritt Island.
MERRITT ISLAND -- At the height of Hurricane Wilma, John Calvert stood on the bow of his yacht in the Banana River struggling with a frayed anchor line.
If it snapped, the 94-year-old man was certain the fierce winds would send his boat crashing into the Mathers Bridge.
Inside the thrashing 67-foot vessel, Calvert's wife, Tammy, prayed.
"I was scared to death," she said Tuesday. "I thought it was the end of us."
Hours earlier, Tammy Calvert, 63, who can't swim, had urged her husband to leave the yacht they call home and ride out the storm at a friend's house.
But Calvert, a former stuntman, magician and adventurer who has flown blindfolded and once doubled for Clark Gable, was convinced they would be fine.
The yacht he had helped build 25 years ago was tied to a dock and was weighted with seven anchors.
But as the winds howled Monday afternoon, a nearby dock suddenly broke apart and slammed into the dock where the Calverts' boat, the Magic Castle II, was moored.
"I had to cut the moor lines and all but two of the anchor lines loose so I could get away from the dock," Calvert said.
He managed to start the motor and steer toward the middle of the Banana River about 100 yards from shore, where the water is 20 to 25 feet deep.
Despite near-100 mph winds, 5-foot waves and pounding rain, Calvert still was convinced they would be safe.
Then he noticed the fraying line.
"I had to get that part of the rope pulled in so it wouldn't break," he said. "I have to say, I was getting very concerned."
Using a cell phone with a dying battery, Calvert called his friend Bob Green and asked him to get help. Green called 911 and then the U.S. Coast Guard.
But even before Green called him back, Calvert knew nobody would come for them.
The winds were too strong to send a helicopter, and all the boat ramps were flooded, Coast Guard Petty Officer Ben Fleming said.
"I already knew I would have to figure my way out," said Calvert, adding that the Coast Guard kept close tabs on them, calling every hour.
Somehow, Calvert managed to secure the anchor line, and the couple spent the rest of the night huddled inside the stranded yacht.
Early Tuesday, a Coast Guard vessel brought the weary pair to shore.
By late afternoon, a diver from a salvage company was trying to untangle a mass of ropes and lines in the murky water, some of which had gotten caught in the boat's propeller.
"I don't have a bone or a muscle in my body that isn't aching," Calvert conceded. "I've never worked so hard in my life."
Tammy Calvert spent the morning on the phone with her sister.
"We both just cried," she said, the tears suddenly welling.
As for the Magic Castle II, Calvert said he had decided to sell it just days before the hurricane hit.
Tammy Calvert couldn't be happier.
"This was like going through hell," she said.
Other friends who have been hit hard in the Florida area like Guy Bavli, who called the other day to say they won't have power for 3-4 weeks are also doing well, despite the inconvenience. We're also hoping to get in touch with Ulf Morhling and Lawrence Lemon, both of whom live in the hardest-hit area of Florida. Hopefully, they'll read this and get in touch with us; we want to make sure they are doing OK.
Next Tuesday evening, November 1st at 8:15 PM, Mike Giusti has invited me to be his guest on his show for the Magic Broadcast. If you have a chance, please tune in and give us a call during the show with any questions or comments you may have. I look forward to talking with some of you during the broadcast.
Harry Blackstone Jr.
I received a most precious gift from my good friend Ron Allesi this week. Ron knows how much of a fan of Harry Blackstone Jr. I am and when he came across one of Harry's Vanishing Birdcages, he sent it to me as a belated birthday gift, and I couldn't be happier! For those who know me well enough, you know how much of an influence Harry was on my life in magic. Someday, in the near future, I'll tell you the story of Harry Blackstone Jr. and myself. Definitely one to look forward to!
We're staying extremely busy as the Holidays gear up, and each day gets more and more hectic. We couldn't be happier. We're ready for the holiday rush and gearing up to bring you some of the best magic for your holiday shows! Look for the special Hocus Pocus Holiday Page in the next week!
Losander and Luna
A big congratulations go to Luna and Losander on the birth of their son, Adam, yesterday morning. Losander called me today, and I could tell how proud of a father he was as we talked. Luna, the baby, and he are all doing fine, and we wish them all the happiness in the world!
So there you have it -- an extremely eventful week, to say the least! Make sure you have a safe and fun-filled Halloween this weekend and don't eat too much candy!
Until next time,
Friday, October 21, 2005
Exploding Golf Balls
Max putting the finishing touches on his Funny Farm.
A fan looks at all the merchandise!
The customers begin showing up.
It's a madhouse!
All in all, everyone had a good time for a great cause.
Exciting news back here at the shop: we have made arrangements with Borodin to sell his entire act! If you own the book, Sheherazade, you will see many of the effects featured there. These are one-of-a-kind pieces that were custom made by Borodin himself and used in his now famous act for many years! Mike will be creating a special page with photos and descriptions for these items next week, so stay tuned; this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to not only own a unique piece of magic, but a piece of history as well!
Last week, I mentioned how busy it was becoming due to the holidays. This week, we received hundreds of orders, and we're literally running to fill them. Again, thanks to all of you for your continued support that keeps Hocus Pocus going.
Khyber Kobra by Collector's Workshop
We are looking for a Collector's Workshop Khyber Kobra. If you have one you are no longer using and wish to sell it for immediate cash or trade for new magic props, give me a call toll-free 800-407-4040 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sorry to keep it short this week, but there's so much to do. UPS just delivered about 40 boxes of new merchandise. I'm like a kid at Christmas time and can't wait to open those boxes to see what's arrived!
So, have a safe weekend, spend some quality time with your family, and most of all, have fun!
Until next time,
Friday, October 14, 2005
Tony Blanco has graciously volunteered to stop by after work to juggle and perform magic along with balloon animals to draw in more of the crowd. Mike will be stopping by as well to take photos, which we'll be posting here next week for you to see.
Today is our own Mike Giusti's birthday! He's met a very special person, and she, along with his friends, are going out for a night of fun this evening! We all wish Mike a very happy 36th birthday! And we're NOT going to mention the gifts he's received from our staff here at the shop!
Oh yes, welcome to the Hocus Pocus Barber Shop! To prove that I don't allow Tony any time off, our friend Louis (who Mike pointed out eerily resembles Dean Dill) gives Tony a quick clip & dip at his desk. Whoever said Hocus Pocus isn't a full service shop? Watch out, Dean!
Louis has his work cut out for him.
Is this how Dean Dill started out?
Last night, Criss Angel called me at home to tell me the good news: he was named 2005 Magician of the Year by The Academy of Magical Arts (AMA) at a press event at Hollywood’s Magic Castle. Congratulations, Criss, and keep up the good work! Criss is hard at work on some exciting new projects and ventures, which will soon be publicly announced. He said he's up everyday for about 21 hours and hasn't been home to New York in almost a year. I believe it! Congratulations, Criss!
Also, my dear friend Richard Burr sent me the good news that he was inducted into the Guiness Book of World Records for breaking 3 world records with coin rolls, beating out Jeff McBride who held the current record for one of them! Check this out:
Richard Burr, breaker of 3 world records!
Guinness World Record #1
Using the classic “coin roll” technique, Richard Burr (USA) passed a single silver dollar around the fingers of his left hand a total of 40 times in a minute. The record was previously held by Jeff McBride with 31 revolutions in a minute.
Guinness World Record #2
Richard Burr (USA) simultaneously rolled two silver dollar coins (one in each hand) using the classic rolling technique, 68 times (30 in the left and 38 in the right).
Guinness World Record #3
Richard Burr (USA) simultaneously rolled two silver dollars forwards and backwards over the fingers of both his hands (one per hand), each hand completing 40 moves in one minute. For a total of 80.
All three records were set the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California, USA, on February 8, 2005.
It continues to be extremely busy here, and we can feel the momentum begin to build for the holidays every day. If the last two weeks are any indication, this will be the biggest year Hocus Pocus has ever had! And we have you to thank for that.
So while Mike enjoys his birthday, Tony enjoys his new 'do, and I enjoy Max's carnival, make sure your weekend is filled with fun, relaxation, and be safe.
Until next time,
Friday, October 07, 2005
I was extremely excited to see Icarus Effect come through the doors, and I immediately checked it out. All I can say is, "WOW!" Aaron Paterson has really outdone himself on this one. The comprehensive DVD that accompanies the package is phenomenally well put-together and is clear, concise, and captivating. This has to be the best self-levitation to come out since the Balducci! In case you haven't checked it out yet, take a look!
Another product worth your consideration is "I'm Sitting On It" by Greg Gleason, a fantastic Bill or Card on Seat effect that comes to you as a kit to make your own gimmicked and ungimmicked chairs. I watched the DVD and immediately wanted to put one together myself; it's that fun to watch and extremely motivating! The props constructed are extremely well-made, and the method is different from anything ever offered on the market. And the best part is, you don't have to be Bob Villa to put it together; it is extremely easy and will only take one half hour to assemble. There are no special tools required! Check it out here!
And how can I forget our latest Hocus Pocus Exclusive, Cesaral Time Perfect! If you've ever wanted to perform the now-classic mentalist effect, "Time Prediction," but you didn't want the hassles of extra gimmicks, stalling for time, etc., this is the one for you! The method is completely different from any other, and it's super fast and 100% accurate! The performer never needs to even touch the watch as soon as the effect has begun. I'll give you a hint: if you can push a button, you can perform this trick! Check it out here!
The Fresno Fair
In other news, the big Fresno Fair began this week, and Betty and I made sure we were one of the first people through the door! I love the fair, and so does Betty. It's one of the things we look forward to going to each and every year, and we never miss it! The food is terrific, and the entertainment is unmatched for a family atmosphere. My favorite is the corn dog and this year, I indulged in a foot-long corn dog! Betty loves the cinnamon rolls and soft tacos. This weekend, we'll take the kids so my son, Max, can toss ping pong balls to win goldfish! So far, he's undefeated each and every year! Last year, he won a total of 8 fish! You think he's figured out the method?
It's good to see some of my old friends like Tom Jorgenson and Ernie Guderjahn at the fair this year. Both are extremely talented performers both in magic and in the allied arts. Ernie's Travelling Game Show is one of the biggest attractions at the fair, and Tom is a hot commodity to the fair circuit!
Today, I'm doing double duty as Tony Blanco has flown back to Las Vegas to pick up his remaining storage. He'll be behind the wheel of a 26' truck all day tomorrow. How a little guy can have so much stuff is beyond me! He may even have to go back for a second trip!!! You're insane, Tony! Drive safe.
Mike is going on his third date this Saturday, and he's pacing the joint like he's addicted to prescription drugs! Could this be love? Could it be friendship? Could it be...? Tune in next week to find out the answer, friends. But seriously, we've all been giving him a ration since he's entered the dating game after 14 years. To say he's been nervous is an understatement. This girl he's been dating sounds like she's a pretty cool cookie with a good sense of humor (a must if you're going to spend some time with Mike).
Don't forget -- Halloween is coming. Dust off your Halloween costume, get the candy, and don't forget those Halloween effects. As for me, I'm going into physical training to be able to down another corn dog!
Until next time,
Friday, September 30, 2005
On the homefront, we are currently working to get Cole into the beautiful Saint Mary's College in Northern California. It is a rarity of a school and looked highly upon from all over the state of California. Max is still car crazy and comes up with about half a dozen different cars he wants to buy. Everytime I walk by his room, I hear, "Dad, come look at this car!" Thanks to the power of the Internet, my son has probably already started his own car dealership and I know nothing about it!
No rest for the weary as far as Mike and Tony are concerned; they are both booked solid for the weekend with private engagements and restaurants for Mike and birthday parties for Tony. Tony really has settled well here in Fresno, and as he is an attraction from Las Vegas, everyone here is dying to have him at their event.
Special thanks to our friend, Jeff Hobson, who made our day yesterday by sending us some magic and autographed photos. Although the comments are a bit racy to post here, we're still laughing! Thanks, Jeff!
In other news, Criss Angel will be filming his Halloween special beginning Monday at the Magic Castle in Hollywood, California. Criss phoned me to invite Betty and myself for the taping, so we'll probably take a couple of days to go down, if time allows, and watch the special. Thank you, Criss.
Thanks to all of you who sent email greetings wishing Carl Ballantine a Happy Birthday! He appreciated all your kind words and wanted me to be sure I thanked you here on the blog.
Now that Fall is officially here, I'll be pulling in the patio furniture and weatherproofing my yard this weekend. I'm looking for volunteers. Anyone want to help? Anyone?
Until next time,
Monday, September 26, 2005
The 2 hunks of rope go into the basket.
Pete Biro shares the next magic product to come!
The entire gang discusses the latest & greatest in magic!
Richard Burr says hello amongst the riff raff.
Robert Baxt plays with his food.
After our lunch, we went to our hotel and checked in. Then, we all met at the pool on the fifth floor which boasted a marvelous view of Hollywood. Geno Munari and Gerald Kirchner had a card trick playoff to see who could outdo the other. Then it was time to get cleaned up and head to the Magic Castle for an evening of great food and entertainment. I must say, this was one of the best meals we have ever had at the Castle. Our waitress was exceptional with a great personality, which made the dining experience more pleasurable than it was. She even joined in and sang with Geno during the evening.
After dinner, we immediately went to the Parlor of Prestidigitation, where we were entertained by the inimitable Billy McComb! Billy's still going strong and is as funny as ever. After the Parlor show, we went to the Palace of Mystery where John Carney and Tina Lennert put on one of the best shows I've seen in quite a while! John's tribute to Faucett Ross was excellent as was his Mister Mysto, which had us rolling in the aisles! Tina Lennert performed her now classic Cleaning Woman act, which I could watch over and over and never get tired of seeing.
After the shows, we hung out for a while, talked with friends, and headed back to the hotel for a good night's rest. Or so we thought. Around 4:00 AM, the fire alarm in our room began blaring. Calling down to the front desk, we were told not to worry; it was a false alarm and sorry for the interruption. Unfortunately, for the next 2 1/2 hours, every 20 minutes or so, it continued to go off. Needless to say, I was bright-tailed and bushy-eyed when it came time to go to the Swap Meet.
Business was brisk and deals were aplenty that Saturday morning. I enjoyed meeting Jamie Schoolcraft and I'm very happy to announce that we'll be carrying his line of exceptional coin work very soon! I picked up a few things myself, including a vintage set of Harry Stanley Multiplying Cigarette Lighters, which are rarely seen these days! Mike got a smokin' deal on a Kikuchi Fire Purse, which he can't seem to put down! It's a good thing my fire insurance is paid up. I enjoyed meeting some of our customers who came up to talk with me during the Swap Meet. If you've never been, you should really try to go at some point; it's a once-in-a-lifetime event for some people. The next one is in April of next year, and I hope to see you there! In the meantime, check out the photos below to get a feeling of that magical time.
The crowd goes in for the kill at the Magic Castle Swap Meet!
The Palace of Mystery was a buzz!
The creative Dean Dill selling his wares.
Joe Porper demonstrates his line of magic!
Downstairs was just as busy as upstairs!
After a great morning of wheeling and dealing, it was time to go home and be with the family. We arrived back in Fresno at around 3:00 PM, just enough time to take a short nap before going out for my mother's birthday. I can't wait for next year!
Until next time,
Friday, September 16, 2005
Next week brings two exciting ventures: first, the beginning of Fall, which we all welcome here! Ah, the smell of the Autumn leaves, the crisp air, the holiday, the cool weather; it truly is my favorite time of year. The second is the semi-annual Magic Castle Swap Meet trip. Mike & I will be gearing up early Friday morning and driving to Southern California, where we'll take in the day and spend the evening at the Magic Castle. Since we won't be in town, the Friday blog will be moved to Monday where we'll share the experience and photos with you. We'll be having our usual Friday lunch with the entire gang at Musso & Frank's, and we'll be sure to be first in line for the Swap Meet. If you're also planning on attending, make sure you stop us and say hello! Mike will be snapping photos of the trip and making his usual scene. We'll also be celebrating Carl Ballantine's birthday. Carl still actively performs and acts in movies. In fact, recently, he was in a Vaudeville Revival Review with Robert Baxt:
Robert Baxt with Carl Ballantine before the show
The sign says it all!
Of course, Carl will be the guest of honor, as he usually is for our luncheon. However, this time, we'll be surprising him with a few gifts. I'm sure he'll keep us all entertained and in stitches like he always does... If you'd like to send Carl birthday wishes, you can do so by emailing them to me here at email@example.com, and I'll print them out and give them to Carl for you personally.
On the home front, my son Max has now taken a huge interest in cars. Even though he's only 13 years-old, he's already gone online and shown me several different vehicles he wishes to purchase... Of course, each one is a gas-guzzling, insurance person's nightmare! I just nod my head and repeat my stock line, "Sure, Max. No problem."
As for me, I received a clean bill of health from my doctor -- NO KIDNEY STONES! HOORAY! Thanks again to all of you who sent remedies, text, books, etc. who suffer from the same condition. It's much appreciated. The only problem is no more soda for me! For those of you who know me, I eat, sleep, and breathe Diet Pepsi. Well, no more... In the long run, the trade-off is good. I wonder if this is what it's like to quit smoking as my hands and fingers are constantly working and moving and my employees seem to think I'm a little edgy.
Our own Mike Giusti performed at the Atlantis Hotel & Casino last week and received many standing ovations. He has no idea what he's doing differently in his show to garner them, but he's not questioning it! After his last show, he invited the audience to his suite for a farewell after-show party. The party lasted until 6:00 AM, and Mike looked like he'd participated in a triathlon the following Monday. Mike's a very talented performer, and we're very lucky to have him as our web master in the midst of his many other projects!
Mike's show at the Atlantis Hotel & Casino in Reno, NV.
A view from the stage pre-show
The after show party in Mike's suite!
As I sit here and write the blog today, I'm watching the doorway to my office be completely blocked by stacks of packages ready to be received by UPS! I really am lucky to have such a loyal group of Hocus Pocus customers like yourselves that enable me to do what I love best. So, I thank you all so much and will keep you updated as the days go by.
Now, I've got to go find a gift for Carl.
Until next time,
Thursday, September 08, 2005
As we approach another anniversary of the September 11th tragedy, our thoughts and prayers go out to the people of the South dealing with the ramifications of Hurricane Katrina. Sometimes, we take for granted what we have, so imagine how horrible it must be for these people to have to rebuild their entire lives all over again... If there can be any good from this, it is the positive efforts of people coming together during such a tragedy. Hours after Katrina hit, local radio and television stations rallied all over the United States to support the victims by raising money, donating blood, and sending supplies. Everyone makes a difference in a crisis situation like Katrina. As performers and entertainers, we can use our talents to perform fundraising shows and benefits for the victims, or even put a smile on someone's face. So tonight when you go home, give your significant other, your children, your pets a big kiss and remember what you have.
Before I go, I want to say thank you to everyone who sent me cards, emails, and even some pretty funny gifts from my birthday (I'm still trying to comb out the silly string from the grim reaper's visit). One of my highlights was a package I received from Carl Ballantine of a special autographed photo and an antique magic prop of his. I guess turning 50 wasn't as bad as I originally thought...
Until next time,
Wednesday, August 31, 2005
So much has been happening here at Hocus Pocus, even in my absence. I don't even know where to begin. Let's begin with the huge estate collection that came in just a few days ago. Tony, Mike, and I have been pouring through and salivating over the incredible amount and variety in this collection. There are close to 2000 items, all in mint condition. Some have never even been opened and are still in their original packaging! Mike and I will be compiling a list at the beginning of next week and before long, there will be a special page on the web site with pictures devoted to this estate sale. If you are a Hocus Pocus Online Member, fear not; you'll receive the email when all is up and running. If you're not a member, take this opportunity to join now! Remember, it's a free service, your information is kept strictly confidential, and you can opt out at any time.
Also, we here at the Hocus Pocus family welcome our newest customer service rep, Ken Walker, who is replacing Nancy Wisseman, now preparing for new motherhood. If Ken answers the phone when you call Hocus Pocus, make sure you say hello and introduce yourself to him.
It's been extremely hectic here, which is not the norm for the Summer. Generally, it begins to slow down from the middle to the end of Summer with all the back-to-schools, vacations, etc. Not this year! It's been about 3 times busier than in years past! I'm not complaining; we love it when it's busy! And with Summer now coming to an end, it's time to start thinking about the busiest time of year: the holidays. How can it possibly be? It seems like just yesterday that it was January! Well, it's that time again, and before you know it, temperatures will begin to drop and holiday decorations and music will infiltrate our everyday lives.
Tomorrow, September 1st, I will turn 50 years old! I was talking with Mike, telling him that it doesn't seem that it could possibly be. I remember looking at 50 year-old people when I was younger thinking that they looked, well, old. Now I'm 50, and I now have a different take on that opinion! Tomorrow night, my family will get together and have a great dinner and my favorite German Chocolate Birthday cake. I can't wait! So, if you're celebrating a birthday tomorrow or in the month of September, Happy Birthday to you as well! As for me, the first 50 were pretty good, I can't wait to start working on the next 50.
Mike here. I caught some candid shots of Paul receiving an over-the-hill singing telegram and thought you'd all enjoy seeing Paul covered in Silly String receiving old people diapers.
You gotta love it!
Until next time,
Friday, August 26, 2005
In other news, right this very second, we are being inundated with calls and questions regarding our Mega Estate & Collectibles Event going on at:
This has got to be the biggest estate and collectible sale we've ever had. There are literally hundreds and hundreds of products that are appearing and will be appearing within the next week on the above page. I plan to update the page daily (not only taking care of things that have sold but adding new items) at around 3:00 PM PST, so do yourself a favor and check it regularly. As the page states, there's literally something for everyone on this list, whether you perform close-up magic, children's magic, or stand-up magic!
Personally, I am not yet settled in my new place, but I AM moved in, and as for my sold house: "This house is clean." I personally need to thank Tony for being a true friend (I told you last week that a sign of a real friend is one who helps you move), and Tony went way beyond the call of duty, helping me for a total of two full days instead of one.
In the middle of the first day of moving, Tony and I decided to see a live concert of three of the most influential jazz virtuosos today: Stanley Clarke, Jean Luc Ponty, and Bela Fleck. Called "Trio," if you are a jazz fanatic and these three are coming to your town, do not pass go or collect $200.00. GO SEE THEM! It was a night of incredible music, phenomenal improvisation, and lots of humor.
Bela Fleck, Stanley Clarke, and Jean Luc Ponty
With that, as Paul would say, "Until next time,"
Thursday, August 18, 2005
I'm officially hijacking Paul's blog again as he is currently college hunting with his wife, Betty, and their son, Cole in the beautiful San Francisco Bay Area. As of this moment, they are in a meeting with one of the college counselors discussing Cole's future at that particular college. Next, they'll be going to another college for more of the same and hopefully, a little r&r thereafter... Cole is looking to get his degree in business, and I think that's a brilliant decision; this kid's as sharp as a tack, and I remember him when he was just a little kid! It's amazing how much faster time flies the older you get! I can't believe it has been over 13 years since I graduated from college.
As an aside, I know for a fact that Paul has been personally touched by all the emails, letters, and cards he has received from all of you wishing him well. He is almost 100% again, and I know that all your thoughts and well-wishes meant the world to him. And I expect twice as many when I have my next kidney stone!!!
I personally want to take this opportunity to thank Mr. Bill Abbott for appearing as my special guest on the Magic Broadcast's Mike on the Mic show. If you missed last Tuesday night's show, it was informative, entertaining, whimsical, and funny as heck. Bill talked about all the ins and outs of his best-selling products, "The Thing" and "Chico, the Mindreading Chimp," available here exclusively at Hocus Pocus! Look for the show when the Magic Broadcast rebroadcasts it in the future. Although I won't be returning to the Broadcast to go live for a couple of weeks, I can guarantee an entertaining and triumphant return when I finish with my move. For those of you who don't know, I sold my house in less than 24 hours (the housing market here is unbelievable) and am moving to the other side of town in order to start another new chapter in my life -- the life of a bachelor! I am actually very excited about it and have a feeling I am going to love my independence.
Tony is actually helping me move this weekend (bless his heart -- a sign of a true friend is helping one move). Speaking of Tony, he is settling in quite nicely here in Fresno, as I promised he would. He has already gotten a weekly gig at a local casino, and the pay truly merits everything that Tony is and has created for himself over the past 20 plus years! Congratulations, Tony!!! Knock 'em dead!
In other news, if you are a performer and like a little mentalism, audience interaction, and perceived improvisation in your shows, I strongly recommend you take a look at the newest Hocus Pocus/Pro Magic Exclusive, "Time Control." This thing is terrific! The effect is that you begin by displaying a prediction hanging on a stand in full view! Explain that you will now ask a volunteer to stand up whenever he wishes during your show. Anytime! He can even stand in the middle of your performance; whenever he feels the urge. Your show begins, and sSometime in the middle of the show the volunteer decides to stand up. You smile because this is the time you wanted him to stand! You then prove it by handing him the prediction envelope that was hanging in full view throughout the entire show and ask him to take out its contents. Inside, the volunteer finds a large, non-working analog kitchen clock with NO batteries! You ask him to compare the time he decided to stand to the time on the large clock. It is the exact same time! Nice!
Also, for you close-up guys, I just received a sample of a new David Forrest effect entitled, "Encased," a Signed Card in Card Case. Since making it visible on the web site, we've already taken dozens of phone calls and email inquiries about this item. Although it is scheduled to ship next week, I would strongly recommend you take look at it if you are a close-up or walkaround worker. I have taken a look through it and can't wait to sit down and play around with the possibility of adding it to my repertoire (as it takes up virtually no room and doesn't interfere with my existing routines).
Well, that about covers it from this corner of the desk. Thank you for checking in from time to time, and we'll be back to our regularly scheduled programming next week.