Monday, June 28, 2010


My locus
My focus
My wand of hocus-pocus.
—Dennis Miller, The Rant Zone (2001)

The word locus means “place,” so locus-pocus conjures a place where magic happens.

This phrase is a variation of the magic phrase hocus pocus.

In Literature:

  • Julia Oliver, Music of Falling Water (2001)
  • Friday, June 25, 2010

    The Power, the Magic, and the Mystery of the Word

    "Opening it entirely at random -- to any page, any paragraph, any sentence -- I feel at once in the presence of the miraculous, awakened once again to the power, the magic and the mystery of the word." —Jonathan Yardley, describing Vladimir Nabokov's Speak, Memory.

    Tuesday, June 22, 2010


    This is a magic word of transformation spoken by the character Apache Chief in the television series The All-New Super Friends Hour (1977).

    Sunday, June 20, 2010

    Good Questions

    Jonathan Jones wonders if being greedy for meaning kills the life of language. "Whereas to go with the sounds and crystallizations of the language is to be alive to the magic and revelatory moments?"

    Saturday, June 19, 2010


    Origins:  The magic word ha-ya-ba-ra-la is of Indian origin.

    Facts:  This word is the equivalent to abracadabra.  It was popularized by children’s writer Sukumar Roy (d. 1923).

    In Literature:

  • Sukumar Roy, Ha-Ya-Ba-Ra-La (1928)
  • Wednesday, June 16, 2010


    “Bagus. This magic word, meaning ‘very good’ or ‘wonderful,’ depending on the inflection, served him in every situation.” —Stewart Wavell, The Naga King’s Daughter (1965)

    Bagus is of Malay origin.

    Sunday, June 13, 2010


    “I met Jundugio in my first tour of the interior provinces of Panama. He was not a great magician but he had a couple of effects he could sell very well. One of these was the stunt of eating a drinking glass which he did to the accompaniment of a weird dance while he shouted ‘Abdubia!’ his own magic word which he used in all his effects instead of the more common ‘Abracadabra’ or ‘Hocus Pocus.’” —Marko, “Jundugio and the Runaway Girl,” The Learned Pig Magic eZine (2000)

    Friday, June 11, 2010

    Gamble Grumble Groumble

    "Gamble Grumble Groumble" is a magic phrase (in conjunction with clapping three times) for activating a crystal ball in Oral Storytelling and Teaching Mathematics by Michael Schiro (2004).

    Wednesday, June 9, 2010

    Beethoven, Chopin, Vivaldi, Bach

    This magic phrase conjures the names of four great musical geniuses, as in Lisa Fiedler's Know-It-All (2002).

    Monday, June 7, 2010


    "The mirror was blank. ‘Kraalax-Heeroz,’ she chanted quickly. The image returned.” —Douglas Niles, Black Wizards (2004)

    Sunday, June 6, 2010

    Magic Geography

    Fukuoka Takaoka Omsk
    Fukuyama Nagayama Tomsk
    Okazaki Miyazaki Pinsk
    Pennsylvania Transylvania Minsk

    I repeated this rhyme like a magic incantation and was transported far away without ever leaving our room. -- Uri Shulevitz, How I Learned Geography (2008)

    Saturday, June 5, 2010

    "Houdini" as a Noun-Verb

    "The name of Houdini [is] still . . . important in every type of literature as noun-verb." —Theo Annemann, The Jinx #87 (1940)

    Annemann calls Houdini "the world's best recognized mysticist since Moses threw down his staff and caused it to appear as a snake."

    Thursday, June 3, 2010

    Oh Mighty Isis

    In the television series Isis (1977), the heroine is a high school teacher who discovered an ancient Egyptian amulet during an archaeological dig. By intoning the magic phrase “Oh mighty Isis!” she transforms into a superhero with the strengths and abilities of her Egyptian goddess patroness.

    Tuesday, June 1, 2010

    Shazza Bowzer Googly Nowzer

    “What words would make the dog reappear? ‘Shazza Bowzer Googly Nowzer!’” —Susan Meddaugh, Lulu’s Hat (2002)