Monday, November 29, 2010

This Week

A couple of days before Thanksgiving the kids from our Church's youth group volunteered to serve dinner (and dessert) at the local fire-department for the needy. Miles can't resist to do his pose!

The Friday night after T-Giving Carlos Sawyer, a young man I taught magic to over 14 years ago gave a public show at a coffee shop in Chico, CA. Bonus to me was I didn't have to spend that evening in the uncomfortable position of being with my extended family. (If they read this it will make our next get together so much more fun.)
Carlos did a great job and filled the coffee shop up with happy customers.

My friend Bill (on the right...the bald guy) got to be a volunteer at Carlos' show. The other volunteer, the guy on the left was a stoner who sat about three feet from me and right before the show he actually pulled out his stash and rolled a joint. He totally didn't care that everyone saw him do it.

This past season Belle the Wonder Dog traveled the country with us learning how to socialize and get used to the stage and traveling. I worked with her a little bit during our travels but really got to work on her the last few days. In just one day she has gone from being afraid of the hoop to jumping through it. What a smart girl.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November newsletter- Catching you up on everything

After what can only be described as an incredible year with the show breaking every record in every category for ourselves you would think that our slow month, November, would be, well, slow. It has been anything but that. Granted we have only performed one show, Lunch with Santa at the Hemet Mall (our 6th or 7th year....I need to look that up). But there has been all the side things.
The first side thing is what I do every Novemeber, market the heck out of the show. I get to gether via the internet with my graphics guy, Phil Powers, who is responsible for all the wonderful art in the show over the past three years. He and I put our heads together then he puts pencil and paint to paper and we get awesome new posters and banners. Then there is the countless emials, letter, packages, and phone calls to potential and previous clients to book that show! Of course there is all the time needed to draft the letters and emails, and design the packages. There is also the beginnings of cleaning up and restoring props from their miles of knocks, dings, and dents from the road. We also spend a heck of a lot of time developing new stuff. Like the trapeze, our biggest endeavor ever. (I made a rhyme...hehehe.)
On top of those things there is also one very big thing that no other year in a long time that has occured. We are moving. And not just around the corner. We are getting the heck out of California. We have found a house in Kentucky. Our original goal was to move to Bowling Green, KY. But, quite by accident, we found the perfect house in Berea, KY. Over the months we have prayed and thought about it. We have made mental lists of the benefits and minus' of moving and as of today with all the ducks lined up in a row we pulled the trigger and made things official.
While on this point I will share the lists with you:
on the side of staying in California...the weather is the best in the country, I have family here (my parents are just around the corner and are always there to help.), I have two very close fiend here, JC Dunn and Bill Jackson (I will miss them so very much), we have a great church family here (though we are what one would call super close with any of them, they have been helpful in many ways and you can always count on them when you need help), we are familiar with everything here.
On the list of reasons to leave: only 10-12% of our income come from with in 100 miles of our home, 10% of our income come east of Nebraska, Kentucky is really beautiful, southerners are so kind, we know quite a few people from our travels in KY, we will be closers to relatives in Ohio, we will have more space inside and outside of the house for our show and our stuff, general cost of living is cheaper, we will be closer to Cynthia, we will be withing 8 hours of at least 12 major cities, 12 hours drive from NY, etc, we won't have to deal with the crappy politics of California, three are no CHPs doing fundraising in KY, the tax system in KY is business friendly, Rand Paul, You get to keep Boxer, Brown, Pelosi, and Feinstein four of the worst women in politics, the roads in KY are so much better than the roads in California which have cost me two trailer axles-one hub cap, my front end alignment and a lot of money, Oroville has an unusually high number of pancreatic cancer cases (way above the national average), guns aren't thought of as evil in KY, moonshine, bourbon, we will get light snow, we are on the east coast and south during the summer anyways and if it's humid...who get nicer cuticles, southern food, Waffle House, when the it rains the mountains behind our house has mist rise off of it, our new back porch, no Nevada desert or Utah desert to cross just to get to a show, moonshine...oh I mentioned that, Nashville is 4 hours away, Branson is 4 hours away, Our property is 44 and half time larger than what we have, the house is twice as large, there is a big workshop, space fro a trapeze to be set up, did I mention there are no arrogant CHP is KY, etc etc etc. Oh yeah CC found a great church there. In fact there is a Baptist church on almost every corner., there is space to park our fleet.

Onward ho.
The AFA (Arizona Fair Assoc.). Life is ironic. I have only belonged to one fair assoc before, Oregon's fair Assoc. I went to it's Convention about 5 years ago and even bought a trade show booth. I got diddly squat in the form of bookings there and had to race a snow storm on the drive home. The years I didn't belong to the association I was booked in Oregon regularly. The year I joined...not a single booking. As time went on a truth was revealed to me...actually it was more of a re-revelation. Trade show booths are useless. Money makers for the association but usesless. Folks come by and take your freebees and may even chat with you but unless you have established a relationship with them or have some kind of buzz about you then you have just wasted your money. The poor souls who bought booths at the AFA found that out. Almost no one visited the booths and more than one was upset by it. The truth is, and this applies to all aspects of life, it is who you know. So if you go to a convention mix in, make friends, get around and shake hands, chat up everyone. You may hit it off with some and bore others, but now they have a face to go with you relentless phone calls, emails and mailers. Don't expect much your first year either. Showcase if you can. But bring your top game. I saw two magicians kind of flub up their tricks. The music acts were top notch.
Most of the bookings that came out of the convention came from people who the artists had pre-contacted or previously contacted and had some kind of relationship.
The AFA was no different. It was held in Laughlin, NV the old people's Vegas. The hotel room rates were great and the food, both at the event and at the buffet were good. (Except for the Mexican about white-people Mexican food..blah!) In fact, the banquet dinner on the last night was out of this world. The music acts were fantastic. There were the standard meetings and key note speakers and they were interesting. But I got the impression that most people wanted to just get out of the meetings and jump into the various activities; bowling, slot tournaments, golf, and drinking. The large amount of drawings and give-aways were fun too. I saw a couple of old friends and made a couple of new ones. I was acquainted with many of the fair managers I have only spoken on the phone with in the past. I had two fairs express interest but the ironic thing was that on Tuesday before 5pm, the time the convention is kicked off, I had booked the only dates I had available within the AZ fair dates over emails. So the convention had turned into a vacation for me before it even started. Still I had a chance to mix and meet and market for 2012. I am not much of a mixer in spite of the fact I have the gift of gab. I have that ever complex personality that people either like or hate. I did discover that one performer who never really gave me much never mind in the past sure was interested in how well I am doing with bookings and when he found out we have had some success he became a better friend. I don't mind, because in spite of him hiving never given me much care in the past, I've always liked him.
One thing I miss about meetings like this is once upon a time there was an invocation , opening prayer or prayer before the banquets, but that was absent. In fact, I did get to meet a self proclaimed left-wing atheist liberal and I am pretty sure one of the men who led a small round table discussion about volunteerism was likewise an atheist as he poo-pooed my idea of getting more churches involved, though the other members of the talk thought it was a good idea.
The event was very well organized and there didn't seem to be many, if any, problems in the whole affair...though their bar in the main hall had only low-end Jim Beam as their one and only choice for Bourbon, the Philistines!
My hats off to the organizers and a thank you to Susan Rosen who recommended I join.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

AFA Convention Final Day

This morning was the more serious part of the convention. We had round table talks, and the general meeting of the association. Then we had the afternoon off. At 5:30Pm the Banquet started. Eric Dodge, country musician, was the showcase act and they were very good. Awards were given door prizes drawn and food eaten. Steak, a wonderful mix of vegis and a twice baked potato. The cheese cake was good but the slices were way to big. The only bourbon they hand was Jim Beam and so that wasn't cool.
I dined with my new Friends that I hung out with yesterday, the mechanical man, his wife, the marionette lady and her husband and a couple of new friends, John the photographer guy with his son.
I was planning on leaving earlier today but I am glad I added the extra room night so that I will be fresh for tomorrow's 11 hour drive.
All in all it was very interesting. I wish I could say it was fun. And I suppose it wasn't not fun. But Since I was alone and knew only a few people I was outside the clicks and circles so I felt like the extra wheel out. Still I had a pleasant time and I enjoyed meeting folks. I was taken seriously when I gave my ideas during the round table discussions and people have been genuinely nice to me.
Bed time.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

AFA Convention

Bullhead City is on the Arizona side of the Colorado River...on the other side are these mtns. A little further down the road is Laughlin.
Yesturday was a showcase and dinner and bowling. I ran into many folks I knew and made a few new friends.
Today it was a couple of speakers, more showcases, and a ho-down lunch.

Me , Susan Rosen (hypnotist and organizer), Chaz Marquet, and Hypno Joe.

Everyone got a goodie bag with items donated by various folks. The romance novel was the wierdest thing.

Charlie Cook and Junior of Cooks racing pigs at the bowling ally...I gave them a lift over.

My new shoes under the black lights of the blowling ally. The atmosphere was very much like a grad night.

A silly ho down costume

Her husband

Adam the Great...who looks a lot like Howdie Mandel and me. He's a very nice guy.

Old buddy Chaz!

A couple of folks from one of the fairs did a tap dancing horse routine...classic.

I haven't seen this since the 80s...but here he was cool.

Incredible Piano and theatrics.....smoke fromt he piano, hydralics on the was wild...and he was good.

The Mechanical Man...we worked with him in NY this past season.

After the show case I hung out with the mechanical man , his wife and a marionette couple.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Santa Magic and Arizona

This past Saturday we performed our 5th or 6th year at the Hemet Mall in the high deserts of Southern California. This year it was "Lunch with Santa" and it was a blast. The pictures I've included here shows the lucky little boy who volunteered to become Hemet's newest circus star.

The pose after the tightrope walk.

Outside the mall.

We have been driving up and down California for the past five weeks. Two days ago I drove back from Socal to home and today I drove through Socal to get to Laughlin Nevada. Just like the other days I saw many CHP SS pulling people over left and right while totally ignoring the many who were broken down on the side of the road. If you recall I lost a hub cap on the pot holed roads of hwy 99. Today I saw a billboard with an ad for just a couple of miles from where I lost my hubcap. On Saturday there was even one CHP SS sitting on the side of the road just 100 feet from where a couple was broken down on the side of the road. The woman was standing in the road try to wave down cars....the chippy didn't pay a dime of attention to her. I would see that several times on our 9 hour drive.

I did the long drive again to attend the Arizona fair Assoc. convention. It was the first time I drove anywhere by myself. I am not used to traveling alone. I miss my kids and wife.

My the way gas prices are only 2.73 a gallon. Hotel room $18.99/night. and the rooms are nice.

Friday, November 12, 2010

10.5 hours to SoCal

We are in Hemet, California. We drove 10 and a half hours to get here trying a new route to avoid the crazy Friday LA traffic. We drove through the Mojave! On a map it looks a bit longer but when you take the crazy traffic we have experienced over the past 7 years coming down here it saved a bunch of time.
As usual the California Highways were teeming with SS Guards (AKA CHP). Saw nine in all and all had some poor soul pulled over...none will get a way with a warning....The Dems in Sacramento need the cash. I must confess that I have been harboring a lot of anger towards the CHP since they ticketed me for a nonsense infraction last week. That and every single CHP I have met whether in the process of being ticketed or in a social context when they work the CHP booths at fairs, or are used as security at fairs have always been snobbish jerks. Once, at a fair in NorCal, one was even a jerk to my kids when they asked for a CHP badge sticker at a fair. He acted as though they were a bother...and if you know my kids that's one word never used to describe them. I think that was the kernel of my disdain for the SS! (SS here is used to imply the CHP are similar to the Nazi SS...they use the power of the gun to get away with being jerks. By that I mean, if a person is a jerk to you, you might respond with a verbal or physical retort. But since they wear the gun you don't. Basically that gun scares you from responding and they know it. ) I should mention that being afraid of the police when you are a law abiding citizen is not a good thing and is a step toward tyranny.....reason number 2 for leaving Cali.
OK...rant over.
The drive was uneventful. Once we were within range of the KFI radio signal we tuned in to the LA based radio station and enjoyed the John and Ken show and then our all time favorite radio personality, Tim Conway Jr. He is the son of comedian Tim Conway. His show is great. Him being a conservative is nice but not the only reason we enjoy him. His jokes, his outlook, his wit, his interactions, the whole package is fabulous. We laugh our butts off listening to him. He really helps make the now boring drive to SoCal go by so much quicker.
Our suite at the hotel is really pretty nice. The beds are like rocks so I anticipate a stiff morning tomorrow. Oh, yeah, and the showers were built for belly button got a nice shower, though.
Though we had a good sized lunch at Mikey-D's and enjoyed the sandwiches my wife made for dinner we wer a bit hunger and thirsty when we arrived. Fortunately there is a Starbucks across the street...I say fortunately even though I don't like there coffee because we could've been out of luck with nothing across the street. So I went over and stocked up on artsy fizzy fruit like water like drinks, Ethos Water, Organic chocolate milk, scones, coffee cake, and oat bars and brought the libations and snacks back to the hotel. Since we were hungry and thirsty the exotically bland flavors of the artsy foods and drink were well received by our pallets.
With that I come to right now. Technology is great. Not only can I zip off a blog and you can read it the moment I push "post" I also can get emails from clients who want to book. And that's what happened tonight with another December booking. yeah!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Off Tour

We have been off tour for just a week and spent this past weekend not doing shows. it felt...weird! The kids were so happy to go back to our home church. After church Victor went off with a couple of friends who happen to be as caffeinated as he is. So he had a blast. He also learned how to make apple swans. Now he does it at home all the time.
The older boys and I have been prepping the house for the move to KY. Painting, installing new cabinets, landscaping, etc, etc, etc.
The little ones have been studying.
I have been marketing the show and setting up our convention schedule. Oh, yeah, we have also been working on the new stuff for the show. Like the trapeze. We will go back to trap school next month.

My good friend JC visited today and we hit the delicious salad bar at the Depot restaurant here in town. Then we hit the Walmart where JC bought the kids belated Halloween costumes since they were 75% off.

Monday, November 8, 2010

California has gone nuts....lug nuts!

OK....who didn't know that?
In the decision making process people make lists. The often rely on sour grapes and sweet cherries (since I don't know the opposite of sour grapes I will coin this) to fill out their list in spite of the fact that the list is supposed to me a non-emotional thing to help the deciding individual to calmly, coolly, objectively make the right decision.
Since we have decided to move out of California I have been making lists in my head. I must confess that the lists have been filled with emotion more than logic. But there is a logic basic reason behind our decision. Over time our biggest markets are east of Nebraska with 70% of our income coming in there. Also with the political slant of California the state is really not business friendly, family friendly, Christian friendly, and is too damned expensive.
Now that is boring to write about. Sour grapes are much more fun to read.
So just like my list of reasons why Connecticut should be removed from the Union. Here is my list why California should slip off into the Pacific. OK, it's not a full list. I am really only going to mention today's story and will do a full list later on down the line.
As you know, if you read this blog often, I got a ticket from a CHP because I drove in the wrong lane while pulling a trailer. The reason I was in the middle lane and not the far right was because the far right lane was pot holed and cracked, and uneven; a nightmare to drive. In fact, my front end was knocked out of alignment after 3 weeks traveling on the same stretch of highway back and forth for gigs. I also lost a hub cap due to the shake the van got. It is the hub cap my story concerns. I decided to go to my local junk yard to see if they had a hubcap that might work for my van today. Since my Chevy van, CC's Van, was also missing a cap (missing since we picked it up in Iowa after the series of repair stops it had last year), I thought I would pick one up for it too. Well, Imagine my surprise when I arrived and went in and the lady in the shop said I could go out and look on the vehicles for them but it would cost a dollar to get in! Admission to a junk yard. I paid, and like visiting an amusement park, my had was stamped. WOW!
After strolling the whole junk yard I quickly realized there wasn't a single tire on any vehicle! So I went back into the office where I was told the tires and hub caps are put inside the car (with how messy tires can be how disappointing it would be for anyone looking for car interiors). So I went back out. Almost no car, van or truck had a hubcap inside it. I felt like I was being toyed with. So I left shaking my head and smiling in disbelief! But at least I have a story and another reason to leave California.
This story is right up there with the next town over, Chico, having a city law requiring anyone owning a chicken to pay a $1400 or $2100 fee for owning a live chicken! And half of that townis ag!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Trapeze School

Well, the long awited day came and everyone had a blast and performed wonderfully. We went to Trapeze Arts in Oakland, Ca and went to work. The kids spent 2 hours learning the basics of flying and catching.
I was so proud of all of them. Even Olivia and Amelia gave it a try though they gave up when things got tougher...can't say I blame them. But they did fly a bit and they climbed up there!
Even I gave it a try. I climbed up to tape them and the staff suggested I come down via the flying bar. So in shirt sleeves and slacks..I did it. But that is about it.
Enjoy the photos.....