Archive for June, 2006

Newspapers, Holidays, & Robert Baxt!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 30, 2006 by hocuspoc


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 http://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.
Paul

Not “myspace”, but shop space!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 17, 2006 by hocuspoc


Good day everyone, and welcome to the June 22nd. edition of the hocus-pocus.com blog! In the photo to the right that’s Israel’s Guy Bavli sitting behind my desk with me. He was just here in Fresno when he took a side trip from a big corporate date he was doing in Los Angeles, California. He visited with his very atractive girlfriend, the well known Israeli actress Tali. Guy and I have been good friends for many years, but it’s always great to see him in person. Guy has got two brand new mentalism effects that he will be relasing to us in the next month and while I’m not a mentalist, I do predict that they will blow the magic community away. Keep on top of the “What’s New” section of our website for more info.
And for those who were asking, my son Cole is now happily registered at St. Mary’s College in the Bay Area. It was a cool 67 degrees when I took him up there last weekend, but when I got back to Fresno it was 102 degrees. Lucky Cole!
You know everyone, I have to tell you that a day doesn’t go by that I don’t thank my lucky stars that I bit the bullet and decided to move to our new larger location. It’s just down the street and around the corner from where we were for many years, but while that was a large space it was a store that had been designed for walk in retail traffic. And despite closing the doors to the public in that old location and moving to internet sales, we were still always cramped and jammed in with the huge inventory of stock we keep at all times to have on hand just about anything you ever wanted.
So with this new warehouse sized space we are literally about nine or ten times bigger than we were before. We’re the size of a small supermarket or a commerical drugstore of the Walgreens, Rite-Aid, CVS, or Long’s Drugs type. Despite our new large size, because of the increased flow of business we still do not usually open the doors to the public as retail sales would just slow us down from taking your internet and phone orders and shipping them out to you. Still, I have had so many requests for a peek inside, I thought I would share these photos with you.









As you can see, we have aisles and aisles of stock on the shelves that doesn’t look pretty, but makes it easy for the shipping department to go up and down the rows of merchandise and pick the items you ordered off and send them to you. The office/showroom is a separate space from the warehouse stock area. It’s as much for my personal enjoyment as for anything else. It’s a room large enough to put over a dozen cars in and I’ve had some of my bigger posters hung on the walls and placed some of the antique magic and one of a kind items we have in stock just to make a beautiful display. My friend Robert Baxt was here and he had a great funny line for it. He said it was the way god would have a magic shop if god had the money! He said it compared favorably to David Copperfield’s museum space in Las Vegas and he would know as he’s been David’s guest there many times.
The far corner of the showroom has shelving just for the accumulated estate sale items we have. That’s the photo in the lower left hand corner. I haven’t even bothered to put up any photos of the shipping area not only because it’s not that interesting, but because the gang there, under the supervision of my sister Jan, is always moving so fast to get orders out the pictures came out blurry! LOL! Also, there’s a dead storage space that’s filled with magic stuff that’s not very photogenic, and I’m working on my office which is a separate room that overlooks the showroom with glass windows so I can look out on the beautiful display (but has blinds I can draw when I want some quiet time). I’m putting all my personal favorite pieces and mementoes of magic in there on a showcase left over from Buma’s Magic Shop in San Francisco that I frequented when I was a kid. When I get my office where I want it, I’ll share more photos of it in a future blog.
Okay, so if you’ve looked at all the photos and read this far I suppose you deserve a treat in return. Here it is: Despite what I just wrote that we are not usually open to the public, because we are so proud of our new space and want to show it off you are invited to visit anytime. Tony or myself will give you the guided tour. If you’re in the Fresno area and have some items you really want, call us to make arrangements. You’ll be glad you did! And watch for announcements in future weeks about the magic classes for kids and adults that will be held here.
That’s all for this week, until next time,
Paul

Thursday, June 15th, 2006: Last Saturday’s Graduation Party- The Photos!

Posted in Uncategorized on June 15, 2006 by hocuspoc





I love digital cameras and the internet! Lots of photos this week, so please forgive me if the layout gets funky as the type moves unpredictably to accomodate the many pictures. Everybody, I wish you could have been there for the party I threw for my two grads! I hope you can get some of the flavor of the joy I felt in all the photos I’m posting this week. Starting from right to left at the top we have a view of the band and then the reverse side of the band looking back over the pool in my backyard and to the guest tables. Then there’s a shot of the other side of my yard looking over the pool and towards the band you saw in the first photo. Next to that is the cake for my oldest son Cole who’s now off to college. I’m taking him there this weekend so I’ll report more on that next week.



Above is a memory board we put together for Cole and in the next photo Cole is the tall young man in the red shirt standing by the table that we displayed his and my other son Max’s boards on. Below that are some photos of the guests enjoying themselves.
On the left is my younger son Max and his cake, while below is his highlights board and next to that a photo of one of my two daughters.


Finally, the picture on the right below is of the rock garden, bridge, and koi pond I built myself in the backyard. After a long hard day of finding great magic to sell to my many happy customers around the world on the internet, it really gives me and my wife Betty great pleasure to come out here in the cool of the evening and sit and relax and unwind. (And Betty, please forgive me that there were no pictures of you from the party! God knows that both you and I were working so hard to make sure everyone else had a good time, we barely had a minute to breathe! I couldn’t get a second to get a picture of me either!) The only thing that slightly bothers me about my pond is that I’ve spent thousands of dollars at this point feeding the local birds who snack on my koi, so if anyone has any good suggestions for preserving my fish please let me know! And you know everyone, in the end, the happy memories that we have are so much more important to us than the grind of work. That’s why there’s very little mention of magic in this weeks blog, and also because most of the http://www.hocus-pocus.com staff was at the party having their own great time! That’s a couple of them in the picture on the right, so I’ll say goodbye to them and to you by wishing you all the happiest of memeories in your lives. More memories next week!
Paul

Start the Saber Dance, Part 2

Posted in Uncategorized on June 8, 2006 by hocuspoc

Happy June 8th everyone! I’m a happy guy. Not only are my sons graduating school, but my dear friend Robert Baxt from Hollywood, California came up to visit for a few days this week since I invited him to the big graduation party we’re having at my house this weekend.

The party will be covered in more detail on next week’s blog after the celebration is over and we have the photos to prove it. I have a large landscaped backyard with a pool at my house and we’ve got chairs and tables set up for over 80 guests. It will be quite a blowout!

In other news, the Black Widow Hold Out system and the Sharp-Ring are just two of the newest, hottest items we have this week. Sharp-Ring was a HUGE hit at the recent Blackpool Magic Convention! Please see our web-site for more on it. The Black Widow may be just the thing for those who don’t want to spend any time practicing sleight of hand but want to perform miracles and make people think they are master sleight of hand artists! Pre-order it now and get free shipping anywhere in the continental USA. We will have it here in just 16 more days.

In the meantime, Robert is here working on a new project that will be exclusive to Hocus Pocus when we finish it. We already love his “Bye-Pod” vanishing iPod trick, as they’re flying out the door to everyone that wants a brand new and up-to-date alternative to the vanishing ketchup and beer bottles. Be sure to see our on-line video of Robert performing it!

Robert gets to live the life that I, as “lord and master” of a huge magic emporium, can only dream of. He was flown to San Francisco last month with the legendary Carl Ballantine for a seminar on Comedy they did at the Clown Cnservatory in that city. Robert showed me the photo of him and Carl below. How cool is that?


Carl pulling a Robert out of a hat.

And then, now that we have all this space at our new location (we’re about the size of a small supermarket or large drugstore of the Thrifty, Sav-On, Walgreens, or CVS type), I got Robert to do one of my favorite things in the whole wide world: The Plate Spinning Act! Just like I remember from the old Ed Sullivan TV show when I was a kid, Robert dragged out his plate spinning rig onto our showroom floor and went at it! IT WAS GREAT! He was running back and forth frantically keeping all the plates going while he tried to keep up with the music. I’d love him to do it at my son’s graduation party, and now that I’ve put it in the blog, maybe that will convince him…


The spinning and running Robert Baxt.

That’s all for this week. Enjoy the nice weather everyone, I know I will!

Until next time,

Paul

We Salute the Grads of ’06

Posted in Uncategorized on June 1, 2006 by hocuspoc


Cole’s Graduation Ceremony

Well, it’s the week of Graduation here, and my eldest son, Cole, graduated from Bullard High School, Class of 2006 Tuesday evening. I was so proud of him as he walked and received his diploma. He’ll be here with us until August until he moves away to attend College at St. Mary’s. Tonight, my youngest son, Max, graduates from Junior High, and we’ll be attending his ceremony this evening. Max’s only request was to go to Red Robin to eat afterwards; it’s his favorite restaurant of all time.

So, my oldest daughter, Renee, has graduated college last year, my younger daughter, Aimee, graduates next year, Cole attends his first year of college this year, and Max attends his first year of High School this year as well… Man, has the time gone by quicker than I remember! Before I know it, Max will be graduating from High School, which is just so hard to believe. If you have children who have graduated or are graduating yourself, congratulations to you as well! We’ll be celebrating both boys’ graduations with a big party at our house Saturday, June 10th. There’ll be food, drink, and even a live band! I guarantee a good time to be had by all. We’ll make sure to take photos for all to see.

As many of you read last week, I purchased a Plate Spinning Act, and now I’m almost ready to turn pro. HA! Too bad the Ed Sullivan Show isn’t still on…

I want to thank everyone who sent me emails containing information and links about the care and training of cockatoos. I printed each one off and gave them to Max. He now has pages and pages of resource information and is reading them like a book. He’s anxiously awaiting the Cockatoo Circus, which should be arriving any day. Then, it’s time to buy the bird.

I also want to say a special thanks to everyone who has been sending us your autographed pictures; we are receiving them almost every day. We actually ran out of 8 X 10 frames, so I went to the store last Friday and purchased 50 more. Again, if you haven’t done so already, send us your 8 X 10, and we’ll put it up on the Wall of Fame. Send it to:

Hocus Pocus
1492 N. Clark #104
Fresno, CA. 93703

The weather’s hot here, and business has been as well. The month of May was one of the busiest and biggest months we’ve had. My heartfelt thanks goes to all of you for all your support; you’re what makes Hocus Pocus tick, and we’d me nowhere without you!

I enjoyed my five days off for Memorial Day Weekend last week. Betty and I were able to get many things done and also have time to enjoy one another’s company as well… Even though both of us work in the same place, she’s way on the other side of the building. We rarely get a chance to talk to one another during the day. I hope you all enjoyed your time off as well. Tomorrow (Friday), I’ll be taking off again to work on my Koi pond, which has recently been completely remodeled. One of the things I enjoy most is working outdoors; it’s very relaxing. So while I’m Koi ponding, I hope you all have a well-rested weekend.

Until next time,

Paul