Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

We would like to wish all of you a very safe and happy New Year. May you be blessed and may you come to know a peace and joy that is Jesus.
If you need anything in 09 call us or email us.
We love you all.
Victor and the Family

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Sultan and "Come What May"

The Sultan getting ready for New Years...he's got his hat, nail polish and Sparking Apple Cider!

The above link is for a film a beautiful young lady we have worked with before is starring in.
Victoria and her sisters play Christian Bluegrass and are wonderful!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

End of the year Newsletter

Greetings. We pray you had a good year and likewise pray your coming 2009 will find your prosperous, healthy and happy!

On all levels 2008 was a very interesting year; with many ups, a few downs, a trial or two, a record or two broken, challenges met, goals realized, laughs and tears and that was 2008.

Wow, where to start?

In 2008 we had three great sadnesses. One of my close childhood friends lost his fight with an aggressive tongue cancer and died. He left behind three young kids and a devoted wife. Shortly before that my very good friend lost his mother after years of various problems plaguing her with discomfort, pain, and limiting mobility. The devotion of that man to give-up everything to take care of both his parents in their diminishing capacities has been an inspiration and perfect example to all who call themselves Christian. And I should add that though both of these fine people who passed this year are missed they both embraced Christ Jesus as their Savior so their passing is ultimately an occasion of rejoicing, for they are in Glory with Him now.

What started off as a blessing turned out to be a great sadness and somewhat a tribulation. As you know we announced Mami was pregnant with baby number 8. At the twelfth week however, after an ultrasound, we discovered the sack where the baby was supposed to be was empty. Mami would very shortly afterwards begin the process of expelling the contents of her uterus. This would lead to massive bleeding and her actually stopping breathing momentarily until I could get her to the floor where the little blood left in her could get to he major organs and get her going again. Two days in the hospital, one minor operation and a ton of bed rest and she is much better. The staff at Oroville hospital was wonderful. So baby number 8 wasn’t to be…. yet.

From the show perspective we had three record income months and the year as a whole was a record year; we had 4% growth over last year in spite of loosing two major clients in December due to the economy. That calculates to 301 performances (sometimes several performances on one day at a single gig.) Good news, we picked up several new clients and many have rebooked for 2009. I just received an email from a 2007 client who decided not to use us in 08 but wants us back in 09. We have a 90+% rebook rate at this time. We performed in Oregon, Nevada, Kentucky, Minnesota, New York and California in 08. All the out of state clients have rebooked us for 09 or have requested us back (but we can’t do because of the date already being booked). So far we will be in Kentucky, Nevada, New York, and Connecticut for sure in 09. And highly possibly Ohio and Maine. We are working for bookings in other states but I am not confident (no contract in yet) to call then as solid bookings. Another point of good news for 09 is that the Silver Dollar Fair in Chico (which has a strict rule in rotating acts 3 years on and three years off) have rebooked us for 09 in an unprecedented 4th year on. (This will be our 7th year over the past 10 years.) Of course we will be back our regular digs in Calico Ghost Town, in Nevada, and up and down Cali! For more on the show happening and the on the road antics see our blog at our website. There are a ton of pictures and stories from our 2008 season. (The blog link is on the left side of the page in the red bar area.) Traveling is a blast. In fat, if I am home for too long I find myself craving the road. Too long on the road and I want to get back home. But not for too long.. Home is a nice place to visit but I wouldn't want to live there. I am so thankful the kids like to travel and i hope someday we can figure a way to bring Titus so mami can come too.

Now on to the family: James started college up at Simpson University, a Christian University in Redding, CA. He majored in Youth Pastoring but discovered no classes for start until his junior year. So he focused on his second love, music. He also joined the cross-country team (they gave a $1000 scholarship if you joined); he loved it. He loaded himself with 23 credits, a couple of no-credit but required classes including music practice time. He also joined the Jazz band and the Pep band and the Chamber Winds and Brass Ensemble. If you are saying, “wow”, well, he’s not superman and he discovered that…a bit late though. He flunked his GE classes and the piano lab and got himself on academic warning. He will be coming home to go to a local community college until that is fixed and then returning to Simpson, hopefully, more in control. On a positive note Jim’s popularity in the show overflowed this year with our 09 Connecticut client requiring in our contract that Jugglin’ Jim be a part of the show. He was reported while performing at our New York show as being “Brilliant”.

Cynthia the jock! 07-08 was her sophomore year and after discovering she wasn’t the start basketball player she hoped to be she put her energies into track. In her freshman year she was moved to the varsity track team and ran at the faster level. It prepared her well because she would end up going to State in June. The irony is she ended up going in an event she we didn’t expect her to go in. It was a clinch in everyone’s mind that the Las Plumas High School varsity girl’s 4X100 relay team would take regionals and move on to State. Fate had other ideas, Leg one dropped the baton as she handed it to Leg 2 (CC is leg 3). And even though they had the fasted time for the region during the season (almost 5 seconds faster than the team that would end up going to state) it’s the regionals that count and CC and the young lady at the anchor position were devastated. But a similar situation would play out in the 100 hurdles. The girl expected to win had a bad day and clipped a couple of hurdles. CC had a perfect run and ran her best time. As a result Cynthia moved on to state; she was seeded 29 out of 29. She was the only non-African American runner in the event and she ended the day seeded 28th beating only one girl….still she moved up and is considered the 28t fasted HS girl’s 100 meter hurdler in California. For Christmas she got her letterman jacket. She pulled a 4.2 GPA for the 07-08. During the summer she had a ton of pre-class homework as part of Honors History. So at many of the venues we performed at this summer she would be found studying when not performing.

Miles (14) started high school and is loving it. He went through a growth spurt and shot past CC in height and he also lost his baby fat and is now sporting some impressive abs. He has added the fire-whip and bullwhipping while on a 24” walking globe to his act. He’s pulling a 4.0 at school and is an active member of the JROTC where he is the academic and athletic captain. He likes to run and is trying to average 50 miles a week. He is going to join the track team and run the mile and two-mile races. Like his brother and sister before him he is hoping to go to Mexico missions with our church this coming spring. For Christmas he got a new nylon Australian style whip and a leather stock whip…the nylon whip is exactly like his Kangaroo hide 8 footer but it’s made of nylon so in venues (like Kentucky last year and east Texas two years ago) where it rains a lot he can perform his act with damage to the leather whips. The stock whip is kangaroo leather and attached to a long stick…it makes a powerful cracking sound and great for certain tricks. He celebrated his birthday on the road for the umpteenth time (as did Victor). We always try to make it special going out to dinner, getting them special things and often dragging it out over a couple of days. Mami also sends them presents through the mail so that the gift is waiting for them at the hotel when we arrive. Pictures of both Miles’ and Victor’s birthdays and the stories with them are on our July Blog.

Titus (11) is still going to Mesa Vista School and loves his teacher Tim and his classmates. He has improved in communication and has a very strong opinion on things he likes and dislikes. He can answer yes or no question by touching either our left or right hand. He has gotten more mobile and likes to hop around the house. He also likes to get into standing poison using chairs, couches, or anything else. Sometimes this is dangerous and he will tumble un-able to catch himself so we have to stay diligent keeping an eye on him. My good friend Bill (we call him Uncle Bill around the house) comes over to do respite with him quite often. He loves Uncle Bill. Titus also loves going for walks (really he is in his chair and we will push him). Depending on who is walking him he gets a jog, a run or a gentle walk…. he loves the faster trips!

Victor (7) started 2nd grade at a new school. OCS just wasn’t doing it for him. He had slipped in his reading skills and we were unaware how far he was behind. OCS, being a Christian School, seen to be leaning more on the business of being a school than the business the church set it up to be and that was a ministry unto the Lord. That and the fact that they kept increasing fees and cutting programs and other things, we would’ve ended paying more, getting less and having him in a split grade class. Sadly after sending James, CC and Miles (and two years for Victor) through OCS we had to make the hard decision (really it was easy after watching the school decline so much) to take him out. Fortunately, we ran into a few parents who felt the same about OCS over at his new school so he had a couple of friends he knew there. The reading program at Ophir school for 2nd graders is phenomenal and Victor has caught up and beginning to exceed. Now we are working on Math (a curse of all Kinnamonts). In the show he has shifted from working with the rabbits and doves (We discovered he is allergic to them) and he is doing escapes. He is eager to do even more. He has also cut dairy out of his diet because of his allergies and his physiological problem of large adenoids, and small holes between his sinus’. He has done well to remind us that one food or another has dairy in it and he can’t eat/drink it. Fortunately he loves soy milk and Mami is always trying to make him special non-dairy version of foods and deserts. I should also like to mention he has a knack for art. He is an incredible drawer and a very creative writer. His teacher tells us the other kids a re riveted to their seats when Victor tells stories from the road during sharing and his creatively in writing stories is beyond his years. You can see his Shark story and picture on our blog.

Amelia (5) lost a tooth and has started home-schooling Kindergarten. She one of those quick study kids and is eager to learn everything. Because of her good memory and ability to learn quickly she performs mentalism in our show. She as you know is the girly girl and loves to dress up and will always put on lipstick when at grandma’s house. She like her brothers and sisters really travel well. Can you believe they sat through several 12-19 hour drives this summer and stayed in good spirits? And there are no DVD players, I-pods, or the like in our van. It’s draw, write, read, converse or look out the window. At the fair we performed at in New York she gave us a scare running off with a couple of little girl friends (daughters of vendors) and disappearing for about an hour. All us parents went into worry mode and Cynthia eventually found them after a vendor thought they saw them in the commercial tent near our stage…they took the long way back from the sheep pens. Whew. She drew first blood at many of the venues quite often (we use the term here to mean they were the first to get a free something from a vendor…often vendors will give fellow workers at an event a free drink, snack, toy, etc if they like you). Apparently a lot of vendors liked Amy and she drew first blood even more than Jim the stilt walker (who held the record for a long time. )

Olivia-baby (3) Olivia turned 3 and has already performed over 300 shows! She is a natural on stage can turn it on and off at will and will pose or dance at the drop of a hat. The awwwws from the audience were constant. She also loves to dance and would occasionally do it for the crowd. In fact her and Amy sat through every show they could of the magical dance group at the Park we performed at in KY. Olivia to this day remembers many of their moves and the lyrics. She wants to dance in the show.

Mami has completely recovered from the miscarriage and is constantly overwhelmed with keeping a home with nine people in it. Having a disabled son doesn’t help. Still she is mostly cheery and handles the tasks swimmingly. She has many Japanese friends living in Chico and Oroville that she will get together with, especially when the rest of us are on the road. Occasionally we even get to go out on a date to a movie, dinner or lunch, or something similar. Someday we might even get to have that honeymoon we never had. Her heart’s passion is to witness to Japanese living here and in her own country about Christ. She has even located a source for bilingual bibles for them. She is an incredible baking and has piecrusts second to none and the same can be said about her biscuits. When on trips the kids crave their moms cooking and look forward to getting home just to eat in spite of our opportunities to eat local cuisine on the road (I should mention here we also take a microwave oven, a foreman grill, a hot plate, etc and often cook our own meals to avoid the whole restaurant thing….it gets old fast.) My parents live nearby and are a constant God-send to Mami while we travel (and when we are at home). My dad is always on call for a leaky pipe, broken this or that, to install a window air conditioner, or what ever. Mom loves to take the little ones for a morning or afternoon and do fun things with them. She is a former preschool teacher so Amelia studies with her from time to time. It is good to have the grand parents near by.

Me…hmmm…me. When not on the road I am at home trying to get bookings. I spend a lot of time in the office marketing, marketing, marketing. I maintain our website and the other bits of technology for the show. I rebuild and repair props, build new ones, and the experiment. Once a week or so I hang out with my good buddy Magic JC (known to the kids as Uncle JC). We either eat here or we give Mami a break and eat at local eateries. Uncle JC loves to perform his pocket magic everywhere we go to everybody we meet. Trust me if you meet him he will be squeaking his nose and making red hankies vanish and reappear then turn into a cane. Everybody we meet love him. Being a few years older than me he and I will occasionally mess with people by having him pretend he’s a mindless old guy and we loudly talk about how we have to get him back to the home early because they are going to be serving rice pudding tonight. He plays the part hilariously well. As you know I grew muttonchops this year for a new look and because I like them. On the health front I still battle a bad back (had that tethered spine tumor thing inside my spinal cord taken care 2 years ago but there is still a pain that exists….may have to go under the knife again). I should add that falling on my bottom three months after the operation didn’t help I am sure. I have added Cubital tunnel syndrome (like carpel tunnel but on the inside of the arm) to my list of “body falling apart things”. Eventually I may even go see a doctor about it. But to be 100% candid, I feel pretty good and look forward to a very busy 2009!

The animals:
Bobbi the Cockatoo performed a few shows this year and was a hit.
The Sultan (Sulcata Tortoise) turned three and is nearly 12’ across on his way to 36”.
(Both will outlive me so I will never have to say good bye or bury them…..I was the animal mortician as a child-youth for the family and as a result have grownup not wanting to get too close to animals. Try burying a score of them, taking the family pet down to be put down a few times, and scrape a loved cat off the street a couple of times and you will understand.)
Prince (dog) had an eye-infection after getting out and fighting with the neighbor dog but is doing well for a 10 year old.
Red the cat is sad she can’t come in the house (Victor’s allergies) but she is content and fat!
The 9 doves and several bunnies for the show are all content and fat too. We did loose one bunny this year.

Well, that’s a lot said and I am sure I said too much here and there and not enough in other places. I am sure I left out a lot! That makes a good reason for you to stay in touch and give us a ring now and again. Or better yet stop on by. We won’t bite……hard!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas fromt he Sultan

Merry Christmas from the Kent's and the Sultan, our 3 year old tortoise. Princess Cynthia made the hat and his mouth is full of his Christmas Eve treat of grass and Chickweed!

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Merry Christmas

Our 2008 Christmas Card-
Merry Christmas from the Gang!
Miles-Victor Jr-Victor-Princess Cynthia-Titus-Princess Olivia-Mami-Princess Amelia-Jugglin' Jim
We made this card because for the umpteenth year we received a perfect family picture from my sister and my brother. We could never pull it off so this year we said, "to heck with it". And did the least "perfect family" picture we could think of...the play with "gang" was also on my mind. The photo is a composite of six separate picture.
Those of you who wondered what the non-performing members look like you can see Titus and Mami in this pix.
Merry Christmas....
Remember, Santa is like the clown you hire to entertain the kids at a birthday party. The Party is for the birthday boy...Jesus. Grant it, so many come just for the entertainment. They could care less about the birthday boy...sad. Christmas is not about snow, not about trees, not about food, or drink, or family, or carols, or warm hearted stories. It's about the baby that was sent here to grow up, experience life, and die on a cross only to be resurrected by God in payment for our sins. He said, that whenever you do this (feed, clothe, help) the least of your brethren, thus you do unto to this Christmas do something for the birthday boy.
God Bless!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A followup

I was feeling a little down that last night's show's audience was less than my favorite (always striving for perfection, I guess...and the AUDIENCE-FACTOR IS MOSTLY OUT OF MY HANDS). When this morning I received a email from the HR director of the company for which we performed. Here is the email (minus the personal info of the person):
Last night we put on our annual holiday celebration for our employees children, an event in which you and your children have also attended for the past 2 years. I wanted to take just a few minutes to thank you so much for the entertainment that your family provides us with. It does not happen very often but my children ages 5 and 11 actually sat still for more than 3 minutes. Although I was a little grossed out by the “Nail In The Nose” trick the rest of the show was great. Your children are all beautiful (tell Jugglin’ Jim that is not a bad thing) and they all seemed to enjoy what they were doing. Again thank you for helping us celebrate, and I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season
Warmed my heart and made me feel much better. It was a good start to a great day...booked another show for this month and confirmed a gig for January with a potential booking in May calling in.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Highs and Lows

The Private Show ...great stage....lousy audience (they arrived later).
Santa and the kids.

Santa at the Chico Christmas Craft Faire.

Blistery, foggy start of the day at the Chico stayed this way all day Sunday...and people actually came and watched our show.

It's amazing how the same show performed identically a thousand times to a thousand audiences gets different reactions. The only real variable in our show is the audience. A great audience can make the show seem more incredible than ever. A bad audience can make it seem a lot less good than it really is. By bad audience I am referring to a group of people who are not in the mood, too busy with their obnoxious kids, obnoxious kids, a couple of people too busy visiting with each other and their talking disrupts others, bad weather causing discomfort, a bad smell or distracting sounds disrupting people, a drunk or a heckler trying to be disruptive, etc etc etc.

Last week in spite of very cold weather small crowds formed to watch our show at the Chico Christmas Faire....parent and kids alike were courteous and kind. Kids obeyed their parents.

Contrast that with tonight. We performed a private event for a large company that has it's own showroom. The setting was awesome. And we thought the crowd would be similar to last year when we had a great audience. Turns out the crowd was twice as large as last year and they brought more kids this year. (It was a company family party). These kids had to be the worst behaved kids outside of Minnesota. They were filthy, noisy (in a bad way), disruptive, they blocked people's views by standing on chairs, they grabbed, ugh!

Then there was the loud noises from the bounce house blowers. The folks in the back visiting with each other and a couple of smaller problems with their sound system and we had the making for a lousy show. I mean we performed our show spot on the same way we always do. the same show that gets us booked over and over again by clients. The show that take us around the country and sometimes abroad.

Highs and lows.

Still I am thankful for the booking and thankful for the kind people who did enjoy the program and the invite back next year (I guess it wasn't as bad as I thought...but my standards are very high). And I suppose this experience helps me to appreciate the good audiences we have been time and again blessed with.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Chico Christmas Craft Faire

What a wonderful two days. Freezing cold...but wonderful.
We were invited to perform at Chico's Christmas Craft Faire held at the Silver Dollar Fairgrounds in Chico, Ca. The wonderful thing about this craft faire is that the artisans were local and all the products were made by repackaged Chinese Junk.
Though the traffic was light compared to other years (so we were told) the quality of the guests were high (good purchasers)...the fair had to compete with about 6 other same size events in the area.
Our shows were held on the Garden Court Stage in the "U" part of a U shaped building. The weather was freezing and it was a tough venue in that fact only. Between shows we spent much time in the buildings. Our frozen hands, feet, and bodies manned it up for each show and in spite of the mid-high 40s, fog, and occasional frosty breeze crowds gathered and watched our 45 minute programs with enthusiasm. Braver souls than I....I was there but I was paid to be there.
We introduced out newest illusion, "Modern Art meets Circus meets Samurai meets Disco". It was a chance to develop a presentation and the crowd loved it.
All the stunts went over swimmingly and the kids were real troupers.

At the event was a wolf adoption group with a beautiful giant wolf named Eros. There was a Santa that had not a bowl full of jelly and borrowed whiskers. Still he was a kind man. Singers, musicians and the like made out the entertainment bill.

Our boss (the promoter) broke his ribs a couple of days prior to the event but managed to make it out to the show...his family took over the duties to pull of a very nice show. His family was very kind but a very interesting group of individuals. I think his wife can be said to be the Normal one....not that abnormal is bad. Abnormal can be the spice that makes things special.