Circus Camp

This year, as a sort of New Year's resolution, I set forth to try to make it the year of "Yes!", accepting opportunity more readily than I have in the past. That was especially pertinent to my burgeoning circus career. If there's an opportunity, I'm on it. And it led down some interesting paths. Some turned out to be thankless gigs that paid very little. Some were gigs that pushed our limits and made us better performers. Some were hidden gems. And some were, well, just plain new.

It was through this yessing that Della and I found ourselves teaching circus camp to kids on San Juan Island, Lummi Island, and in Bellingham. Teaching circus is something that we've done quite a bit of in the past, both through Chautauqua and as part of festival, parties, etc. But these are always shorter sessions that let kids (and adults!) come and go as their interest waned or was diverted. The circus day camp where the kids get dropped off and picked up many hours later is a whole different ball game, one which we weren't entirely prepared for.

For the most part, it was awesome. There were some amazing kids who were super into learning, being helpful, and being fun! And from the feedback from students and parents, I'd say that the camps were a success, with the kids having a good time and nobody getting hurt*. But kids are kids, and there was definitely more "don't hit her with that", "pick up your trash", and "take that sharp stick out of your nose" than we expected, esp. with the younger kids. I can hardly blame them for not wanting to juggle for 3 hours straight, but it was still a bit of a learning curve.



One thing about the year of "Yes!", you learn a lot. And that has been wonderful. For next year, however, if circus camp opportunities roll around, we'll have more knowledge about what variable best suit our talents and interests. What does that mean, I don't know. But I know that at least for now, I'm happy to going back to just performing for a while.
Wednesday August 9 2017File under: circus, juggling

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MTVs Promposal

For the last year or so, I've been spending some energy pursuing one of my life goals of being an extra in a movie. I made my first significant progress a couple of months ago with a fleeting appearance on SyFy's Z-nation (covered here). Well, I'm happy to report that I'm moving on up towards that goal with my recent appearance on MTV's reality show called Promposal.

The filming of the show was super fun. We were brought in to be the background circus folks for the filming of a high school music video. Mostly, we just juggled and looked circus-y whenever they pointed the camera at us. Otherwise, we just sat back and watched the magic happen. It was fun seeing both the professional side of things (the MTV crew with the fancy equipment, lights, etc.) and the high school side of things (disorganized but having a ton of fun). We were there for 4 hours with a lot of waiting around (as is par for pretty much anything in TV/film or so I'm learning). At the end, we had no idea how much screen time we'd get if any.

Fast forward 2 months to air date. I was super excited to see myself and my circus buddies on such a popular network. We actually got a fair amount of screen time too! While a lot of it was background shots, there were a few featured-ish moments. And by golly, I even got a few solo clips, one with a line!! To top it all off, we even got our names in the credits! Overall, I'm super stoked on the whole thing—the filming, the screen time, the excitement!

If you have access, I encourage you to check it on MTV. I think it's even carried On Demand on various carriers. Otherwise, check for reruns, as I think it might happen every now and again. If you don't have access, shoot me an e-mail and we can try to work out getting you hooked up.

Yes, I consider this a big step towards my movie extra life goal Just like NYT crossword and some of the others, it doesn't happen overnight. But with persistence, hopefully it will become a reality. And whatever the case, as long the road to movie extradom is as fun as this Promposal experience was, I'm excited for the ride!
Tuesday May 30 2017File under: extra, juggling

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www.WrenAndDella.com


May I proudly present, for you viewing and beta-testing pleasure, the brand new www.WrenAndDella.com! Over the past 3 or 4 years, Della and I have been ramping up our performance presence beyond an act here or there in various shows. We have created our own stand alone show and really started booking lots of events (parties, festivals, fairs, etc.). It only seems fitting, now, that we have ourselves a professional looking website. And here it is.

We're both pretty stoked on how it turned out. It's great to have some wonderful photos and videos of our acts in the same place. We'll continue to tweak some of the text over time, and hopefully replace the grainy video with some professionally shot stuff after we amass it, but for now, we're hoping that it serves the dual purpose of letting people know who we are and what we're about when they see we are performing near them and increase our booking!

Every time I post about my juggling "career", I laugh a little about how far I've come—from never wanting to perform to being a professional juggler. But, as in so many elements of life, things change, and that can be a good thing. In this case it is: I get to do a job I love with a person I love making people smile. If I've gotta have a job, I can't think of a better one!

Anyway, feel free to check out the website and let me know if you see anything awry. Please include the browser/operating system/device you're using if you find a layout/technical issue. (A screen shot of how it should look can be found here). And if you know anyone looking to hire some dynamic, fun, genuine entertainment, point them our way!!
Wednesday April 19 2017File under: juggling

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ACPT 2017-Tournament and Talent Show

In what has become a lovely yearly habit for me, I recently attended the 2017 American Crossword Puzzle Tournament out in Stamford, CT. With it being my 4th year, I now know my way around the tournament and hotel, have met some great people that I always look forward to seeing year after year, and have some helpful data to see the progress my solving skills are making. But overall, I just have a lot of fun.

First, the progress: This year, I finished 336th out of 619, putting me in the 54th percentile, my second best showing. Besides one stupid error (which cost me about 20 places in the rankings), I don't feel bad. The puzzles were decidedly harder this year. As usual, puzzle 5 destroyed me with a super complicated double theme. Puzzle 3, supposedly an easier one, left me somewhat flummoxed with names of elements I've never heard of. Puzzles 1, 4, and 6 I aced and had just 1 square wrong on each of 2 and 7. So, overall, I'm not displeased—room to improve but still a strong enough showing.

But the real fun of the tournament, for me at least, was the talent show. Since my first trip to the ACPT, I've been brewing this act combining my love of juggling and love of crosswords. This year, after poking at it here and there over the years, it all came together and I had a chance to present it. It was a hit, with people really appreciating the nerdiness as much as the talent. I'm excited to work out the kinks and get a few more run throughs to really solidify it. Then the hope is to add it to our upcoming summer shows. I'm sure the reception won't be nearly as great as it was with a room full of hardcore crossworders, but hopefully it will stand on its own. See for yourself!


Thanks to all who made the ACPT such a fun and successful event! Hope to see you all again next year!
Thursday March 30 2017File under: crosswords, video, juggling

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2017 Valentines Day Act

This year, Della and I had the pleasure of once again being in the Bellingham Circus Guild's My Circus Valentine show. The show turned out super great, with 5 sold out, standing room only shows. The cast was amazing, the acts were fun, and the total vibe of the space and show were just magical. Every year, the producer does such an amazing job all around and we feel lucky to be a part.

If you missed the fun, I've included a video of me and Della's act. It was conceived of on a long bus ride in Costa Rica and hashed out in many long hard hours of rehearsal. During the process of creation, Della and I swear we'll never do it again, being that it puts too much strain on our relationship. But in the end, after we share it with the audience and feel their positive reaction, we forget about the struggle and are happy with what we've created. Anyway, we hope you enjoy it too!



Every year, there is also a photo booth at the show. Della and I find time between shows to sneak in and get a few shots. So, in the interest of posterity, I include them here. Try not to throw up on yourself due to our cuteness.

   


Thursday February 23 2017File under: juggling, holidays

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Summer Performing 2016

This past summer has been a whirlwind of performing for Della and me. This weekend is the first in months we haven't had a gig*. And looking forward, there's at least one per weekend for the next month. So much for me "not being a performer." :-)

Although it's been busy, it's been super fun. Going to festivals and parties ain't a bad way to make a buck or two. And Della and I have been honing in our acts and are getting ready to debut our first show this weekend at the Sh'Bang at the Lookout Arts Quarry. It should be a blast.

The photos below hardly do justice to all the running around we've been doing. We're usually just so busy we forget about taking photos. Luckily, folks are kind enough to share theirs with us (which are way better than ours would be anyway).

So here are a few photos from Summer 2016. I hope you enjoy having a look as much as I enjoyed putting them together! (Photo captions give some context.)

Give'er
by the
River
Anacortes
Busker
Fest
 
Weddings
 
New Old
Time
Chautauqua
Skagit
County
Fair
 
Birthday
Parties
 
Lots of
Other
Fun Stuff

Sunday September 4 2016File under: pics, juggling

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Something Wonderful

Arrrrrggg! I'm a pirate— or at least I play one in the Bellingham Circus Guild's new production, Something Wonderful. The show tells of a boy taken through a magical world of sea creatures, ship wrecks, dreams, and more. The show is more highly produced than any I've been a part of so far which makes it really exciting. The costumes are top notch and the professionalism regarding timelines, rehearsals, and contracts has been very refreshing.

Last week, we had our first showing, on the big stage at Western Washington University. The huge stage with all the necessary contraptions, lights, staff, and more made it feel all the more big deal. The show went great, except for a couple drops by the pirates (opening night jitters, I guess). This upcoming weekend, we have a 3 show run at the Cirque Lab in Bellingham. There are tickets still available. The shows are going to be so fun!

The pirates do a juggling bit that involves 2-highs, complicated moving patterns, and a neat little passing the bottle routine. I also got roped into doing a little black suit puppetry as well, a new one for my resume.



While the amount of time spent on this, between rehearsals, teching, etc. has been more than I've been used to in the past (and makes the hourly wage far lower than minimum wage), the experience has been helpful and even fun. I'm proud of the show and I'm excited that it might get staged again in the future, maybe even at bigger venues! In the meantime, I look forward to the run this weekend. I hope to see you there!
Tuesday May 17 2016File under: circus, juggling

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Minor Media Mentions - Bellingham Herald and Bellingham Alive



One of the great purposes of this blog has been to serve as a digital scrapbook for my future self. I know that 90-year old me will love sitting in my hover bean bag chair looking through the fun exploits of his former self. It is with that thought that I started my Minor Media Mentions series, snippets of when I've made newspapers, etc. Two such snippets recently showed up. The first is from the Sunday Bellingham Herald dated 1/31/16 about the Talent Show at Mount Baker Theater we were in (blurb and video here). The other is from the super fancy Bellingham Alive magazine from December 2015. The article has nothing to do with us, but it's a pretty fun picture of the street show we did at the Bellingham Night Market.
Tuesday February 2 2016File under: juggling, circus

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Juggling at the Mount Baker Theater

Della and I recently had the privilege of performing on stage at the Mount Baker Theater in Bellinghm as part of the Be In The Show community Talent Show. It was a neat event put on by the Dance Studio and served as a fund raiser for Blue Skies for Children, a great charity. Super big props to the folks that put it together. It was well attended, super tight (27 acts in less than 2 hours), and better organized than any event I've ever seen.

For those who don't know the Mount Baker Theater, it is the venue in Bellingham, hosting the biggest names that come through town. To have my 5 minutes in the spotlight on stage there might easily be the highlight of my performing career. Seeing backstage, the green room setups, and looking out at the beautiful hall was quite a treat. And the way it was so well organized made me feel like this is how it must be for a real rockstar. They even put us as the closing act, which only added to the rockstar feel. We had a few drops, but overall, not a bad showing.

Della convinced her intern to get some video for us. Enjoy!


Saturday January 30 2016File under: juggling, circus

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Homemade EL Wire Glow Juggling Clubs

I was recently hired to do ambient juggling at an event at a Porsche dealership*. The theme of the event was "electric" so they were looking for glow props. In talking it through, we decided that the majority of the reasonably priced glow clubs on the market wouldn't be glow-y enough so I thought I'd take a crack at making my own using EL wire. For those interested in the making of the clubs, I've chronicled that at the end of the post.

In the end, while the clubs turned out pretty good, it was all for naught. The gig wasn't dark enough for the glow to show. I would have been better off just juggling my long-suffering renegades or really pushing for fire*. But whatevs. The party goers didn't notice the lack of glow and were duely impressed by the juggling in general, so it was all good. They were also treated to some super-dope poi-ing by Nick with way better glow props than myself. So glow was incorporated after all.

And although the glow clubs weren't a hit for their intended purpose, glow juggling props are perfect for long exposure photography. With Rod as the organizer and Thaddeus as photographer, we did an after-juggling club photo sesh that turned out some super fun shots.

Now, after all the eye candy, I bet you want to see my clubs in action! Well, never let it be said that I disappoint. Behold!*

For a base, I used Dubé airflite glow in the dark clubs*. I cut about 2cm off the top to allow access to the inner cavity to store the battery pack (2 AAs). Then I wrapped a 3m piece of white EL wire (starting at the center so as to have it lay out evenly), hot gluing the wire in place every 1/2 wrap or so. After the wire was glued in place, I took a 1-inch wide roll of saran wrap and wrapped it tightly to help secure the wire. I used a narrower piece so it could go on more wrinkly free.

Once the wire was secured to the club, I put the battery pack in the cavity sandwiched between 2 pieces of foam. Another piece of foam was put in to essentially cap the cavity, to keep the battery pack from flying out.

All this weight made the clubs quite end heavy. To combat that, I wrapped some lead wire at the knob end of the club and secured it with black athletic tape. I continued the black tape wrap all the way up the handle for looks. In retrospect, having black handles on juggling clubs you plan to juggle in the dark was a bit of an oversight, but it does make the clubs look cool.

In the end, the weight and counterweighting made for some dang heavy clubs. And the 1 of the 2 brands of battery packs I used flickers off if dropped (or caught abruptly). But all that said, they look pretty freaking awesome. It was a great experiment.

Oh, and here's the requisite self-portrait. Good times.
Thursday October 15 2015File under: juggling, work

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Recent Content:
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*2017 Valentines Day Act
*My Crossword in the Orange County Register
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*My TV Extra Debut
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