Friday, June 30, 2006
Newspapers, Holidays, & Robert Baxt!
Happy Fourth of July weekend everyone!
I just spent two and a half hours with reporter Rick Bentley from the Fresno Bee, which is the major newspaper in this area. They're doing a full page spread feature article on us in an upcoming edition next week, and were mighty impressed by our new location and facilities. Newspaper photographers are coming here next Thursday, so we'll include a link to the article when it reaches print in a future blog.
For my Fourth of July holiday, my wife Betty and I and the kids are going to the quaint little town of Fowler, California about 15 miles south of Fresno. It's close, but seems a million miles away because it's a place like Mayberry from the old "Andy Griffith" TV show. It's only got about 1,500 people and I and my family love going there every July as it's where Betty grew up and went to high school. Very peaceful and relaxing.
But there's been excitement here! Last week after publishing in the blog that I would let people come in if they called first, we got a frantic phone call from long time customer Chris Bent. He said he was on his way to San Francisco for a big show and desperately needed a bunch of items. He asked if we could stay open a few minutes past our normal closing time and I said "Sure" to help him out. Well a huge, black, professionally painted 18 wheeler truck pulls into our lot and it's part of the fleet that travels with the famous Ozzy Osbourne "Ozzfest". Turns out Chris' show was part of the San Francisco stop on the tour and we made a lot of music fans very happy helping out a customer.
So now I want to talk about my friend Robert Baxt. I've mentioned him a bunch of times before and someone asked me why I liked him so much. Well not only is Robert a funny guy, he's also a smart and intelligent one. And he's a nice guy, and you often don't find that combination all together in one person.
For instance, check out his website www.robertbaxt.com
I look at websites all day and all night long here at Hocus-Pocus and I must say that his is one of the best I've ever seen, not just for a performer, but for anybody! We love his tricks that we sell here, and on his site you can also see some videos of him doing shortened versions of those tricks that you won't find anywhere else. The videos for his Vanishiing iPod, Newspaper Tear, and Computer Cutie tricks are especially nice.
And for the hard core magic fans out there, I gotta' remind you that Robert is more than just a comedian. You know that the I.B.M. is having it's annual national convention and competition this week in Miami for best stage act, but few people remember that Robert won the stage competition when he was just out of his teens. He had a manip act that was out of this world! Lot's of unique and original magic to show off his chops and at the same time hysterically funny. He went on to win a FISM trophy for Comedy after that, but the thing to remember is that there is no comedy division in I.B.M. contests. Robert beat all the other magicians with his act, the first time that any comedy act had won over the "real" magicians. I have bought the rights to this contest act and with Robert's cooperation, I hope to put it out to the magic fraternity as a performance DVD with instructions for doing it. Robert doesn't perform it often anymore, but when he does it's a showstopper.
You shoould also know that Robert doesn't know that I'm writing this. If he did, he definitely wouldn't want you to see the second photograph of him below.
You see, on top of every other great thing I can say about Robert, and all the many and varied accomplishments in his life (Did you know he spoke Japanese? I didn't, until we needed help with a customer in Tokyo!) Robert has done what many would consider the greatest vanishing act of all time. Over the course of about five years, he took off through diet and exercise alone a ton of weight. That's definitely Robert in the black and white picture above. Look carefully and you'll see the same eyes, nose, and chin; just a much slimmer face. And he's been keeping the weight off for the past three years. I know because every time he visits Fresno, he disappears for two hours every night to go jogging. I have to give him credit where credit is due. Now I do not believe there is anything wrong with having weight loss surgery. Celebrities like Al Roker and Star Jones and the lead singer of the band "Blues Traveller" and lots of others do it all the time. It's helpful to us regular folks too, but Robert did it the tough way. I think Robert just felt that it was his job to take it off since he was the one who had put it on. That takes lots of courage and dedication and persistence. In every dealing I've ever had with Robert he's always said what he meant and meant what he said. He follows up and takes care of business the way few do. I like him and thought you would enjoy knowing a little more about him too.
That's all for this time, enjoy your holiday and I'll check in again next week.