Friday, September 30, 2005

Twice in One Week

We posted earlier on Monday, and now one final post to end the week. And what a week it's been! It seems like this week has gone by so quickly with all the new things happening and all the irons in the fire. In fact, we had to rearrange and expand the warehouse area yet again to make for more product space. Yesterday, we put up more shelving units to prepare for what will surely be one of the busiest holiday seasons to date! In fact, it's already started. We've gotten dozens of orders for Christmas and Halloween effects. The smallest investment in a few of these holiday effects guarantees more income for a performer and puts him ahead of his competition.

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.

Jeff Hobson

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

A Weekend of Magic!

Remember when you were a kid and you saw your first magic trick? You remember that feeling? That encompasses this entire weekend Betty, Mike and I had! We started out early Friday morning, filled ourselves with coffee and headed south! We arrived in Hollywood at around 11:45 AM where we met the entire gang at Musso & Frank's on Hollywood boulevard. Our good friends Gerald and Chuck Kirchner from Magic City, Lou Hirshorn from the Walt Disney Studios, Joe Porper, Pete Biro, Doug Malloy of Malloy Modern Magic, illusionist Richard Burr, Geno Munari of Houdini Magic Shops of Vegas, and Robert Baxt with special guest of honor, Carl Ballantine! The lunch began with us presenting gift for Carl's birthday, which he greatly enjoyed and in return, kept us in stitches the rest of the afternoon.

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

The Excitement Never Ends!

The title says it all! The response to the first and second Estate lists has been overwhelming, and we can't thank you enough! The shipping department hit an all-time record by shipping just over 700 packages alone in just 5 days! The other exciting thing is all the new and hot items hitting the storefront as we gear ourselves up for the holidays. Be sure you continually monitor the web site as Mike updates as fast as his fingers will allow!

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, 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

Magic As Far As the Eye Can See!

I'm coming to you a day early this week because tonight I'll be releasing the first private estate list of items for sale. Mike and I have been squirreled away in my office for the last 2 weeks creating this list, and I'll be willing to bet that we're only one quarter finished! For me, it's been like a trip back in time! Everything is here from standard items to rare collectibles. Things I used to see advertised in catalogues as a kid are now within my grasp! As you can tell, I'm very excited to able to offer these items for sale as I'm sure many of you will be able to find things that you've been looking for. For a sneak peek before anyone else gets the official email, click below:

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,