Archive for April, 2011

Pajamas, Shoes and Spring

Posted in Uncategorized on April 29, 2011 by hocuspoc
The Magic Pajamas

Yes, there is such a thing as Magic Pajamas. Just ask my daughter, Renee, and my two month old grandson, Zachary. Anyone who has ever been around children knows that two month old babies don’t sleep very much and Zachary is good for about two hours sleep at a time…that is until now.  Included in an Easter Basket that Betty and I put together for Zachary was a pair of pajamas. These aren’t just any pajamas, they are Magic Pajamas. What’s the magic you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. Since he started wearing the Magic Pajamas last Sunday, Zachary has slept through the night…eight hours…every night. Renee is now on a mission to buy all sizes and colors of the Magic Pajamas! Hocus Pocus delivers the magic once again (although it would have been nice to deliver this bit of magic when my kids were babies)!

Zachary and his Magic Pajamas

Visitors

Thursday we welcomed our good friend and magician, Norberto Jansenson, to Hocus Pocus. We just ran in to Norberto at the Magic Castle, where he was performing last week, and now he’s here. It is always great to have visitors and this was no exception. We’re working on another great soon-to-be-released effect with Norberto. I guarantee you’re going to want to get in on this right away…stay tuned, it will be released in the next 30 days.

Norberto and Paul working out the details for the new effect

There’s No Business Like Shoe Business

We just received this new item, Shoe Business, it is unbelievable; Scott Alexander and Puck have outdone themselves. I am stating for the record, that if I were still performing magic, Shoe Business would be in my act. You know I don’t make that claim very often, in fact, really never, but this is just that good. We received stock today and it is hysterically funny. Click here to watch the video

Spring is in the Air

We are very lucky because it is springtime in Fresno and I can’t wait to work in the garden this weekend. Although so much is already in bloom, I will be planting flowers like a madman. I love working in the garden, it is so good for the soul, so calming and relaxing; I recommend it as a hobby to everyone. Enjoy your weekend.

Until next time,

Paul

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The Magic Castle

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2011 by hocuspoc
 

We devoted last weekend to the Magic Castle; dinner on Friday night and the Swap Meet Saturday morning.

Betty and Paul at The Magic Castle

 Betty and I arrived Friday and had dinner at the Magic Castle with Mark & Nani Wilson to celebrate their birthdays! Joining us were Mark & Nani’s son, Greg Wilson, along with Tim Mannix and Debbie from here at Hocus Pocus who, lucky girl, just happened to be in L.A. last weekend.

 

Debbie, Paul and Tim at The Magic Castle

Time spent with Mark & Nani is always special for Betty and I, but this was Debbie’s first time at the Magic Castle so we did the “grand tour.” What made this tour special is that Mark & Nani Wilson are founding members of the Magic Castle (47 year membership!) and gave us a guided tour with insight and stories for everything and everyone we saw. We visited Invisible Irma and requested songs; had drinks at the bar with the mysteriously rising and falling bar stool; and toured every performance venue in the Castle all the while Nani regaling us with stories of the past 47 years!

Saturday morning I was the first one in line and through the door when the Magic Castle Swap Meet opened. I think I lost my mind…there was so much to see and buy! There were some great hard-to-find collectibles so with Tim Mannix in tow we started scouring the booths, talking to the sellers and acquiring and acquiring and acquiring more. It’s a good thing my friend Steve Dick had a booth because he let us store our purchases behind it…there is no way we could have carried everything around with us or made countless trips out to the truck. Thank you, Steve!!

                                                                                                                          Sorting through our finds behind Steve Dick’s booth

  Not only did I find many great items for the Hocus Pocus website, but I was able to add to my personal collection. I acquired Billy McComb’s pipe and tobacco pouch which I now have in a display case with his hands; AND, I got Harry Blackstone Jr.’s Spirit Hands which were used in his “Who Wears the Whiskers” routine which was the effect he used to close his shows; AND THEN, there is the Sands of India Mixing Urn, very graciously signed by Gay Blackstone, which was used by Gay and Harry Blackstone Jr. when they performed the classic Sands of the Desert routine; PLUS, I received a wonderful gift from Greg Wilson, a Siegfried & Roy Superstars of Magic Crew jacket from a show that never happened! Apparently, the show was dropped during Siegfried and Roy’s transition from the Frontier to the Mirage in Las Vegas. Now it’s a great piece of magic history.

Billy McComb’s hands, pipe, and tobacco pouch

 

 Harry Blackstone Jr.’s Spirit Hands

 Blackstone Sands of India mixing urn

 

Siegried and Roy Superstars of Magic Jacket

Then the challenge arrived: how were we going to get all this stuff home? Luckily, Debbie was in L.A. so she let us use her car which we packed to the gills; there was only room for her in the driver’s seat and then we packed our Jeep, also! I need a much bigger vehicle for the next Swap Meet.

 

Tim(??), Steve Dick and Paul packing Debbie’s car FULL!

Packing the Jeep 

After packing the cars and having lunch, Betty and I made one more stop before heading home. Mark and Nani Wilson invited us to their warehouse or as we like to call it, the store house of the Magic Land of Allakazam. This warehouse represents fifty years of the magic careers of Mark and Nani. No matter how many times I’ve been there, I get that great thrill and excitement every time. Mark, Nani and Greg selected some of their private collectibles that we will be able to offer you on the Hocus Pocus website so keep watch for them, that is unless I change my mind and keep them for myself. 

Then we enjoyed some of the other incredible effects they have in their warehouse. This is the original Allakazam Train, I begged to have it, but Mark and Nani had different ideas about that request. This is a true piece of Allakazam history. Look at all the ATA cases full of illusions on the warehouse shelves.

Nani, Greg, Paul, and Mark

Mark Wilson designed many different attractions that he and Nani used for fairs and trade shows. This robot hand illusion is one of their most clever creations; a pair of disembodied robot hands were caused to come alive and perform a series of tricks, etc. I was excited to be able to get a close up and personal hands on, no pun intended, demonstration by Mark himself, which he described in detail. Thank you once again, Mark and Nani, for a great afternoon.

I’m off now to enjoy the weekend with my family. I wish you all the best for this holiday week.

Until next time,

Paul

Here and There

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2011 by hocuspoc

Betty and I had a great trip to New York City; Food, Theatre, Shopping, and more Food, Theatre and Shopping. We had such a great time! From the “little toy shop” in Times Square (see the picture below) to the cheesecake at my favorite deli, it was one great thing after another. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves in New York and can’t wait to return.

First night in NYC!

 

Where else can you see Superman holding up a runaway truck!

The Ferris Wheel in the "little toy shop".

 

We have no sooner come home from NYC and we’re heading out again. We’re on our way to Hollywood and the Magic Castle Swap Meet. Tonight we’ll have dinner at the Magic Castle with Mark and Nani Wilson and various other friends and enjoy what I’m sure will be a great show.  We will also be celebrating Mark and Nani’s birthdays, Mark’s was last week and Nani’s is this coming week. Then Saturday I hit the Swap Meet looking for great collectibles and hard to find items. The last couple of Swap Meets have been SOOO very good – I can’t wait to see what I find this time!! I’ll have all the new items on the website this coming week. Stay tuned. Hey, if you see me at the Swap Meet stop and say “hi”; I’d love to meet you! But, beware, I am a “Man on a Mission” when I’m at the Swap Meet so you’ll have to be fast to keep up with me!

I want to share this MAMMOTH 4-Foot JUMBO Card Castle with you. I love this Card Castle because it is SOOO BIG! It’s Max’s first purchase for Hocus Pocus. I’m sure it will be a bestseller!

The Mammoth 4-Foot Jumbo Card Castle with Max's new assistant (left), and the salesman (right).

 

By the way, thanks for all the great comments on Max’s Blog. He did a fine job for us last week when we were in NYC…we’re a little overstaffed after his recruitment efforts, but, overall, they’re a quiet bunch.

Until next time,

Paul

From the Desk of MAX Gross

Posted in Uncategorized on April 8, 2011 by hocuspoc

From the Desk of Paul MAX Gross

Hi, everyone! As you all know Betty and Paul, Mom and Dad to me, are in New York City playing this week.

Since they are gone, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to get to know the family business. In fact, I think I may have some great new ideas incorporating updated management styles, product development, and vendor relations. After all, I took a marketing class last semester.

First, you need to know that I am in college and have to write papers all the time; I am not going to write papers at the office, too.  I consider the Blog to be just another paper with a different name so MY blog is going to be in pictures.

First day on the job and the chair is feeling pretty good. I really like the view from here.

I think it is important to get to know the employees, especially the old-timers, because they have all the knowledge and history of the business

 

I really enjoyed negotiating prices with the salesman that called on me this week. I think I’m a tough negotiator and I really hammered him for a better price just like Dad says he does; I’m still not sure if Dad meant hammering for price in the literal sense, though.

Wow! This was my toy chest when I was a kid. I always wondered where it went.

Welcoming new recruits was awesome. I was really pumped sharing my vision of the Hocus Pocus brand and culture; they were such good listeners. Unlike some of the current employees who seem to be ignoring me and my great ideas!

Disciplining employees was the hardest part of my week. I only had to discipline one employee, but everyone cooled down, productivity improved and no one else lost their head.

I might have been a little tough on the employees this week. I don’t think they like my management style. I had a bit of a mutiny…I’m not sure how to get out of this thing. Where’s a magic wand when you need one?!?

Ahhh, it’s break time. These lounge chairs are all over the place, they’re so comfortable, it’s almost like floating on air.

Finally, it’s Friday. When I’m the boss happy hour starts early!

Until next time,

Paul MAX

Still Crazy After All These Books

Posted in Uncategorized on April 1, 2011 by hocuspoc

We’ve made headway with the Robinson estate books, really. We have. I promise.

We brought in the “big guns” this week and had Bill Goodwin, the Magic Castle Librarian, helping us with the massive amounts of soft cover books, pamphlets, lecture notes, and so on. These books are like multiplying rabbits (or balls); just when we think we’ve made a lot of progress we unearth some more. Bill was a GREAT BIG HELP this week and we loved having him here. Thank you, Bill. We again had our buddy, Tim Mannix, up from L.A. helping us with effects (and books), organization and showroom design. Thank you, Tim!

Me with Tim Mannix and Bill Goodwin --Thanks guys for all the help!

Zig Zag Zigga Zigga Zigga Zig Zag

New Private Estate items, especially stage-size illusions, just keep rolling in…this week we received this mint Bud West Zig Zag. My son Max was on hand to help Tim Mannix and I open up the crate for the grand unveiling…

My son Max, Tim and I unveiling the Bud West ZigZag

 

Viva Las Vegas

THIS JUST IN…We have just confirmed that we will be dealers at Magic Live in August. Come one, come all, because we have got the goods! Can’t wait to see you there! Remember, you heard it here first!

Going to the Chapel

People are talking about the wedding of the decade happening this month, but we’re thinking it will be next year…Our son Cole is engaged to be married! Yes, Cole and his lovely fiancée, Amanda, will be tying the knot in 2012. We couldn’t be more ecstatic and are so happy to welcome Amanda into our family (although we’ve considered Amanda family for years!).

Cole and Amanda

New York, New York

Betty and I are heading off to the Big Apple this week; we’re mixing a little business with a little pleasure in New York City. We love NYC and are happy to be heading back for another visit. We are so looking forward to Broadway Theatre, shopping and, of course, great restaurants. There is so much to do in so little time, but we’ll give it our best shot! NY here we come!

Until next time,

Paul