Subtleties of the Show

I watch a lot of vaudeville/circus acts in a given year–Cirque du Soleil, Vaudevillingham, etc. In most cases, they are new to me, if not in content, at least in arrangement. Traveling with the circus, I get to see more than a few shows. While the content varies some from show to show, there are also a lot of repeated acts.

Don't get me wrong, seeing repeat acts isn't a bad thing. In fact, it lends a new light on the whole performance process. Seeing the subtle difference in timing on jokes, order of tricks, combined with other variables (weather (for outdoor shows), sound set-ups, etc.) make for each show being different enough that it stays interesting.

Yep, I saw the Flying Karamazov perform in at least 7 shows, and from each one I saw something new, understood a joke in a new way, or learned which jokes are improvised, etc. Not only did I not get burned out, I would welcome watching them, or any of our other performers, do their act 10 more times. Knowing that no two performances is quite the same makes me that much more excited to go out and see some more. Who knows, maybe I'll even get out on the stage myself someday.
Monday July 5 2010File under: circus

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Solar Living Institute

Chautauqua is currently camped* at the ever so lovely Solar Living Institute in Hopland, CA. Talk about an amazing piece of property—a pond, carousel, solar panels everywhere, solar ovens, gardens, straw bale structures, outdoor kitchen, and so much more. Besides hosting random bands of roving circus folk, they teach classes and have a store full of alternative products. Not a bad place to spend 5 or 6 nights*

We did a show here a couple nights ago on an outdoor stage (set up on straw bales: totally awesome). The attendance was good and very energetic. Tonight is the Ben Show, a show by Chautauquans for Chautauquans. Much mockery, drunken antics, and lewdness is expected. It won't fit in so well with the gorgeous setting, but luckily it will be after business hours so the public won't be subjected to the ridiculousness.

Have I mentioned that running with the circus is pretty awesome? Because it is.
Wednesday June 30 2010File under: circus

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Crowdsourcing Chautauqua

I've mentioned my blogging catch-22 before: when I'm doing something really worthy of blogging, I barely have time to make good posts, but when I've got time, I often don't have anything exciting going on to blog about. Well, I'm decidedly in the former situation these days—life is exciting but blog posts are few and not so good*. Anyway, since I've been busy (mostly in the "kitchen"), I thought I would point to a few place online where others are publishing their experiences, photos, stories, etc. about this shared adventure that we call Chautauqua.
  • Facebook photos by our tour photographer. I don't think you have to be a member to join.
  • A Collective Blog which is meant to be both a conglomeration of news articles and other outside information related to tour and a place for new content.
  • NOTC*'s website: This isn't updated realtime, but has good general information about our group, etc.

Anyhoo, I hope to get a [good] post or two up in the near future, but in the meantime, explore these other sites if you are interested in getting a fuller picture of this adventure that I'm on.
Tuesday June 29 2010File under: circus

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World Juggling Day 2010

Last Saturday was World Juggling Day, a holiday* to "help spread the fun of juggling and to bring jugglers together all over the world". The idea is to celebrate by, well, juggling.

Outside of a juggling festival, Chautauqua is about the highest concentration of jugglers I've ever been around. Eighty percent of the band juggles, many of the truck drivers juggle, and lord knows the cook juggles. So in a brief moment before we packed up the trucks to head to our big show, I ran around camp announcing a big group juggle. This is what came out. I'd say we did World Juggling Day proud.
Friday June 25 2010File under: juggling, circus

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Redwood Vaudeville Tour

Are you in Northern California? Do you live in a little town that doesn't see a lot of entertainment? If so, the New Old Time Chautauqua might be coming to your town. Come enjoy a vaudeville show filled with energy, juggling, music, acrobatics, comedy, and lots of last minute improvisation. (For example, the power went out due to a truck hitting a power line here in Pt. Reyes Station, CA. Luckily, the Dance Palace here has a little solar backup system so we at least had lights.)

But on the other side of the stage, it is more than shows. There is camping, parades, workshops, swimming*, and all sorts of intangibles. And then there are the stories. After just one year, I've got my fair share. The people that have been here for all 29 years have that many more.

Yep, Chautauqua: the Redwood Tour. Such an experience I can't even put together a cohesive blog post.
Wednesday June 23 2010File under: travel, circus

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Quote For Monday - Volunteerism



"We don't work for free for nothing!"

This is the sign that I've set up in the kitchen. I'm tempted to call it my kitchen, because I have very little time outside of it, but we are a community here. But it isn't just a kitchen sign. It applies all around. To the performers, the [amazing] band, the logistics people—everyone is doing this on a volunteer basis. What we get out of it is an amazing experience and great satisfaction when we see the excitement and joy we bring to our audiences*

What am I talking about? Why the circus, of course. I've run away with the circus again, this time on a tour of northern California. The New Old Time Chautauqua is the same group that I toured some islands with last summer. This year, I'm the goto guy in the kitchen (as opposed to last year where I just did breakfasts (which later evolved into co-managing the kitchen)). But more on that later.

For now, I had better get back to the kitchen. Those beans aren't going to soak themselves, you know.
Monday June 21 2010File under: quote

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Familiar Giant


Familiar giant (remember?) with a familiar goober in front.

Friday June 18 2010File under: travel, USA

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Trivia Town

For the past couple years, I've rarely passed through Portland without stopping in for one or more nights of pub trivia. The options are vast and convenient, the trivia is high caliber (mostly), and it is a great excuse to see friends that I might not other be able to see. When taking stock of where all I've played trivia here in Portland, I was amazed to find that I could name 9 places off the top of my head. Here's a quick review.

39th St Sports Pub: This was one of my fist Portland trivia endeavors and, if I remember correctly, one of my least favorites. Pretty much all I can remember about it was it non-syndicated and pretty unanimously agreed to be low caliber*

Basement Pub: Owner run (i.e. non-syndicated), quick and to the point (30-ish questions rapid fire with no breaks), decent food, kind of a late start time, but it is made up for by its quickness. I've done trivia here a number of times.

Eastburn: A ShanRock trivia venue. A good personal game of trivia. The person reading the trivia is the person that writes it (a big plus), encouraged interaction between teams, and a non-trivia interaction round (the time I went, it was competition Barrel of Monkeys).

Belmont Inn: One of the harder, yet better attended Pub Quiz USA venues. Pub Quiz USA has a format that I love with lots of questions and lots of variety in types of rounds and questions (anagrams, music, etc.). There is a theme each week which is announced via e-mail newsletter. The Belmont costs $3 to play, but the winning team gets the whole pot. I've played here a number of times and enjoy it quite a bit.

Morrison Hotel: A one off trivia (i.e. non-syndicated) that is very topic oriented, which is good and bad. The people are totally fun with lots of interaction. This isn't a trivia I see myself going to a bunch, but was a lot of fun when we did go.

NePo 42: A Last Call trivia syndicated venue. Last Call trivia has a rather common format of one question with the time span of one song to answer it (rather than many questions per round). That means fewer questions, but more chat time. Another added feature of the format is being able to wager based on your confidence of your answer. This makes it a strategy intensive game (which can be good and bad). I had an enjoyable time at this and hope to try it again.

Rose and Thistle: Another Pub Quiz USA venue and my current favorite. The questions aren't too hard, the quiz master is super awesome, it's free to play, but has good prizes. Oh, and we totally got first place there this week.

Sante Fe Taqueria: Last Call Trivia here. The night we went, it was underattended with only 3 teams. We won the $30 gift certificate for first place, but couldn't feel too good about ourselves because of the lack of competition. It is really nice having trivia in a non-bar, though!

Biddy's: Pub Quiz USA again and about in the middle on difficulty and attendance. This it the place I've done trivia the most, but mostly just because of location. But it is a place I would gladly go back to.

Yep, Portland is pretty rich in trivia options. I look forward to exploring more of those options in my [hopefully many] future Portland visits.
Wednesday June 16 2010File under: misc

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Vancouver and Its Mad Skillz


VANCOUVER MAD SKILLZ
JUGGLING/ETC. FESTIVAL

VANCOUVER MAD SKILLZ
JUGGLING/ETC. FESTIVAL

I went to Vacouver this weekend to check out the first annual Mad Skillz juggling/etc.* festival. Let me tell you, it was good times. Copious juggling, a mad hunt for ice cream, a nude beach, a new knot trick, and ever so wonderful company made for a day that's already got me looking forward to next year. Good times!!
Sunday June 13 2010File under: juggling

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FC 108 - Cinematic Remake...With a Twist

Disclaimer: This comic contains a bad word.

If you can't tell what is going on on the movie screen there, it's because drawing a close-up of lips turns out to be really really hard. I tried. I failed. So I overlaid the actual screenshot from Citizen Kane and fiddled with the opacity. I probably should have just used the straight screenshot, but I guess I've become too proud. Back in the day, tracing, cutting, and pasting were the name of the game. Today I just can't bring myself to do it. (Although it is pretty obvious that this hybrid is probably the worst of both worlds.)

Anyhoo, I'm guessing this is going to be my last Friday comic for a couple weeks. Tomorrow I hit the road so will hopefully have some interesting stories to tell and pictures to share. But, as always, Friday Comics will be back as soon as things are back to normal and I have lots of blog space to fill.
Friday June 11 2010File under: comic

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