Friday, November 30, 2007
First off, I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving last week. We certainly enjoyed the holiday with friends and family. My sons Cole, Max and I strung all the holiday lights and decorations on the outside of the house on Saturday (a yearly tradition) while Betty did all the decorating inside. We were in such a holiday spirit that we went out and purchased the tree that same day. By Saturday evening, it was a winter wonderland, both inside and out at the Gross household. As Cole, Max, and I admired our handiwork outside Saturday evening, we noticed that there were a couple of blank spots in the yard. So, we all got in my car and drove to Lowe's and patched that right up! We bought a life-sized Santa and sleigh, and it waves, turns his head, and sings Christmas carols. But wait; there's more. Next to Santa was a trio of caroling snowmen, whose heads rock back and forth. Oh yeah, we had to have that, too! And needless to say, there are no more blank spots. All the neighbors have come out to take a look and admire all the decorations on the front yard, and have even had cars slow down and stop to take it all in. I'll take pictures of the yard and post them on next week's blog for you.
If you have pictures to share of your home decorated this holiday season, send them to us and the best one will win a $100.00 Hocus Pocus gift certificate. Send your emails with photos attached to email@example.com.
Wow is all I can say about "Black Friday!" We've never been busier the day after Thanksgiving! Check out the photos below of the orders being prepped for shipping to all of our customers' destinations. This is just a portion of the shipping department, and as you can see the outgoing boxes are stacked 3-deep!
Orders, orders, and more orders!
Tony and I both got here at 6:30 AM and the phones were already ringing off the hook! The message machine was full from that morning, and there were tons of online orders ready to be received! Thank you all for a great kickoff to a fantastic holiday season! The inventory levels in the warehouse are well-stocked (as you can see) for immediate shipping to ensure prompt arrival for your holiday gift-giving and shows, so have no fear!
Do any of you remember how you got started in magic? For most of us, it was that first magic set that magically appeared under the tree or for our birthdays. To this day, I still collect them, and as you saw in previous blogs, they sit comfortably on the many shelves in my office. They range from the very old to the best of the new. They bring back a lot of memories as I look through them. Why not share the magic with your son, daughter, niece, nephew, or grandchild by taking a look at our brand new Magic Sets category inside the Hocus Pocus web shop? Who knows, you may kick off the career of the next Houdini, Mark and Nani Wilson, or David Copperfield?
Speaking of gift-giving, if you are trying to hint to your loved ones this holiday season, why not print your wish list and email it to them? Or perhaps a gift certificate would do the job. Whatever your holiday needs and wants are, Hocus Pocus has you covered!
Watch the web site; there are so many products coming in every single day to add to your holiday wish list and also, check out the newest TrickTalk MagiCast by our very own Mike Giusti who takes a turn from the ordinary review podcast and sits down with our good friend and all around creative genius, Bob Kohler!
Oh, and don't forget: the second annual Hocus Pocus Swapmeet and Get-Together is right around the corner. Last year's was such a huge success that this year's promises to blow that one out of the water! Remember to mark your calenders for Saturday, January 19th and Sunday, 20th, 2008 and we hope to see you here. To reserve your spot, call us toll-free 800-407-4040.
Until next time,
Wednesday, November 21, 2007
It's almost here. Thanksgiving, that is. It's a good time to reflect on what you are truly thankful for. I know I've said it many times before, but I'm very thankful for everything I have. I have a beautiful and intelligent wife, four terrific kids, a wonderful home, and a great business!
The great business part is due to all of you who continue to support and nurture Hocus Pocus. Without you, Hocus Pocus could never have grown as it has. So, I am truly thankful for all of you!
This Thanksgiving, my good friend Robert Baxt and his girlfriend Yumi will be spending the holidays with us at our home here in Fresno. We'll begin Thanksgiving by going to my mother in-law's house, as we do each and every year. There'll be a humongous feast of great homemade Armenian food and drink. My eldest son, Cole, will be here for Thanksgiving along with his girlfriend, Amanda, and he's looking forward to a home cooked meal after a couple of months of college food. After my mother in-law's, later in the afternoon, we'll all go back to the homestead and watch "It's a Wonderful Life." My daughters will join us and celebrate by spending time with the rest of the family before they go back to their jobs, which is very busy this time of year (especially AFTER Thanksgiving). All in all, it will be a very full day, in more ways than one!
As you sit at your Thanksgiving table this year, do yourself a favor and take a moment to reflect on all the goodness in your life for which you are thankful.
From all of us here at Hocus Pocus, we wish you a warm and family-filled Thanksgiving!
Until next time,
Friday, November 16, 2007
Just the sound of those words takes me back. A few days ago, a package was delivered with my name on it, and when I saw the return address, it was from Mark and Nani Wilson. Imagine my surprise when I opened the package and found a complete set of the Magic Land of Allakazam DVDs personally autographed by Mark and Nani along with a comic book, Mark Wilson Magic Club Membership Card (a highly treasured treat for kids of all ages in the 1960s), and a very nice note. Talk about the ultimate gift!
I know I've spoken before about Mark and Nani Wilson, and it certainly is no secret that they are my magical favorites. It was like being a kid again as I popped in each DVD and watched those wonderful vintage shows in black and white that started it all for me when I was just 6 years old! There they were: Mark and Nani, Rebo the Clown, Basil, the Baffling Bunny, and even those old Kellog's commercials! They say you can't go home again, but I sure did for those few hours... I would guess that there are millions of you worldwide who, like myself, experienced magic for the very first time because of Mark and Nani Wilson. How would I have reacted as a child if I knew then that they someday would be my friends?! How could that possibly happen? It is still one of the biggest thrills for me when I get a page from the staff that Mark and Nani Wilson are on the phone wishing to speak to me! They are truly magical treasures and two of the nicest, most down-to-Earth people I have ever met.
So inspired by what they've done, we've dedicated a brand new section of our web site devoted to the entire Mark and Nani Wilson line of magic. For those of you who, like me, grew up watching the Magic Land of Allakazam, I cannot stress how cool it was for me to watch these DVDs and relive my childhood again. Now, you can too; these DVDs are available to purchase and keep for your own and to show your children and grandchildren. In these days of flash-in-the-pan, soon-to-be-forgotten performers who rely on camera tricks and editing to achieve the impossible, the routines from the Magic Land of Allakazam were done in real time in front of a live studio audience, without the aid of any camera trickery. What you saw was magic in its purest form, the way it should always be performed. Put more simply, these performances are timeless, suitable for EVERY audience, and more importantly, the entire collection is a historical collective of the birth of magic on television. Think about it -- in 20, 30, even 50 years from now, the names Mark and Nani Wilson will always be synonymous with the very notion of magic. They brought style, elegance, and class to our art form, and the magic community owes them a world of gratitude for their contributions. We can all learn a lesson from what the Wilsons have given us.
I can't imagine what the world of magic would have been like without Mark and Nani. I want to personally thank you for all you have done and continue to do in order to enlighten, enrich, and educate the world of magic.
Now do yourself a favor and check out the brand new Mark Wilson section of our web site, pick up the entire Magic Land of Allakazam in time to share with your friends and family during the holidays. And get ready to relive your childhood and watch the birth of magic unfold.
Thanksgiving is only a few days away and from all of us here at Hocus Pocus to all of you: we wish you the happiest and most wonderful Thanksgiving possible!
Until next time,
Friday, November 09, 2007
As many of you may recall several months ago, I told you about a cockatoo circus that I purchased for my son, Max. He's been actively searching for a cockatoo ever since. Last weekend, there was a bird show held here at the fairgrounds, and Max wanted to add some more finches and button quail to his outdoor aviary. So off we went to check out the bird exhibit. Now, let me tell you: every kind of bird imaginable was there. It was amazing. Max quickly found his white finches and button quail. As we continued to walk the aisles, we came upon a woman selling cockatoos! She must have had at least a couple dozen, and Max went wild with excitement. The cool part was that most of them were not even caged; they were walking around freely. We walked up to her booth and one instantly came up to us as if to say, "Take me home." After a long conversation with the breeder, we hesitantly walked away and continued to look at some of the other birds in the show. Betty looked at both of us and said, "Why don't you two just go back and get the bird?" It didn't take much prodding, and I don't know who was more excited -- Max or me. So, we adopted "Cali," a white female goffin cockatoo.
I'm extremely impressed with how smart these birds are; in just the few days we've had her, we've already trained her to come when we call her name, climb up and down a ladder, and pick up and bring us a ball. All this accomplished by just spending a few hours an evening with her. It's been a great project for both Max and myself, and we can't wait to see what new trick we can train her to do. I'll keep you posted as the weeks progress as far as any new trick Max and I have taught Cali. If you are an experienced bird owner and have hints and tips insofar as cockatoo training goes, feel free to leave your comments for Max and me here on the blog.
A couple of weeks ago, while at the Magic Castle, I had the pleasure to witness David Regal perform his close-up act. One of the effects he performed that evening was his coin effect, "Trans-Locations." After the show, I discussed with him the possibility of Hocus Pocus carrying this item, and I'm happy to say that David has given us the exclusive on this awesome close-up effect. Check out the product details as well as the online video of it HERE!
Speaking of exclusives, check out Brian Geer's Knife Through Coat. Not only is this an exceptional routine, the price is way to nice to pass up! Brian was nice enough to grant Hocus Pocus the exclusive on this item and you can also check out the product details and the online video HERE!
Can you believe it? In less than 2 weeks, it will be Thanksgiving! How can that be? This year has gone by faster than any other year I can remember, and it's not just me; the staff agree as well. 2007 has really flown by in the blink of an eye. And, no sooner will Thanksgiving be here and in a few more weeks, the big day will arrive. WOW! Speaking of which, have you started your holiday shopping yet?
Mike has just put the finishing touches on the 5th installment of Trick Talk MagiCast, which you can download from iTunes or by directing your web browser HERE! This has proven to be a very positive and popular feature of the site, and it's apparent by the number of downloads it has gotten. Both Mike and I are dumbstruck by the number of downloads each installment gets. Just last night, after the fifth episode went up at around 4:00 PM, it received 105 downloads by 11:00 PM. We really appreciate your support and interest in this project, and we invite you to submit your comments and suggestions on the web site or by emailing Mike at firstname.lastname@example.org
This weekend, Mike has both music and magic shows, and it's apparent by his schedule that this year is going to be a doozie! Who knows, with the cockatoo trained, maybe Max, Mike, and I can all go on the road together with magic and music and the cockatoo circus! Oh, wait -- I have to run Hocus Pocus. Scratch that idea for now... Maybe someday. No matter what you are planning to do this weekend, I hope it's a good one!
Until next time,
Friday, November 02, 2007
Criss Angel and paranormalist Jim Callahan had to be separated by host Tim Vincent and Uri Geller on live television during Wednesday’s two-hour episode of Phenomenon. As he was judging his act, Criss objected to Callahan’s claim that he was actually speaking to the dead and said he would offer $1,000,000 of his own money if either Callahan or Geller could name what was in a sealed envelope in his hand. The video can be seen here on Access Hollywood’s site.
Callahan has claimed that he is going to take the James Randi Educational Foundation’s $1,000,000 prize for proof of paranormal abilities under scientific testing.
On the Magic Cafe message boards early Thursday morning, Callahan posted the following…
It was not staged.
And it was not a fight but rather a heated confrontation.
I almost did pitch Tim (The host) into the audience and held him to prevent him from being injured as I saw he would have gone over the edge of the stage.
Sorry I cannot post more right now but thought I should clear this bit up right now.
As for those following the cuts, Jim Karol and Successor contestant Ehud Segev were dismissed in favor of "Russian Roulette" stand out Eran Raven and "Human Phone Number" stand out Gerry McCambridge.Wow. So what did you think about the special that aired on Halloween? Was it an improvement over last week's episode? Was it exciting or did you feel as if the confrontation was staged? We'd love to hear from you!
On a related and brighter note, I felt our good friend Guy Bavli did a fantastic job creeping out the audience and especially Raven Simone with his "heart-stopping" performance. We really want to hear your thoughts on the show and performers, both good and critical right here on the blog. Feel free to post what you like below.
Switching gears, a new product hit the doors this week called Insta-Cube, and wow is it cool! Remember Daryl's version of the Enchanted Cube that came almost ten years ago? You know, the effect where a mixed-up Rubik's Cube is tossed into the air and instantly solves itself when caught? Well, what would you say if you could actually hand it out for examination after the cube has been solved? Well, now you can; Insta-Cube delivers that promise, and the method is extremely clever. When we took a look at it yesterday morning, we all had smiles on our faces when we figured it out. Check it out for yourself and watch the online video of Insta-Cube in action HERE!
Wow! The response to our latest contest has been truly overwhelming since we officially posted the rules on our site on Wednesday. We've received well over 200 entries for the chance to win a $1000.00 gift certificate to spend at Hocus Pocus, and all you have to do is follow the simple rules. It's like getting free money! If you're interested, check it out HERE!
The 2nd Annual Hocus Pocus Swap Meet and Get-Together is coming together quite nicely. In addition to finalizing all the talent to be showcased that weekend, we are also excited to announce that it looks like Johnny Thompson of The Great Tomsoni & Company fame will be joining us as well to lecture and host a workshop on the following Sunday! If you haven't already reserved your space or purchased a table to sell your wares for the swap meet, contact us now at email@example.com or 800-407-4040 or 559-266-5150.
So here we are in the second day of November, and how time has flown this year! Last night they were already showing Christmas commercials, although I shouldn't be surprised; they were already selling decorations and fake Christmas trees in September... Oh well, it's time to get into the holiday spirit and mind set. Don't forget to check out the web site for all your holiday needs for upcoming shows, and there's a good way to make sure you're on top of things: sign up for our daily updates inside the shop. Every new product that is put up daily will get sent to you via email with a direct link to the product's description and image. Pretty cool, eh? All you have to do is enter your email address on the right-hand column underneath the New Feature.
Well that about wraps it up for this week. Have a great weekend.
Until next time,