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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Continuing Chronicles of the Return

I've now been back in the United States of America for over a month. Once I arrived, I started right out.

I pretty much dove into the things I missed: using the library, egg nog, sugar cookies from the local chain grocery store, watching cable . . . .

I was able to spend a decent amount of time in Chicago and Springfield, IL. One of these times, I shall have to focus solely on Chicago and during a time that includes a weekend so I can spend more than just a couple of days with my brother and my sister-in-law.

My appearance in Springfield caused a huge commotion. I drove up to my sister's house, but instead of walking up to the front door, I walked up to the side door. After I knocked on the window, my elder nephew Parker walked over to get the door because he thought it was my brother-in-law coming home for lunch. Panic ensued.

His face grew three sizes and he ran away yelling, "MOM! MOM! IT'S UNCLE GREGORY! UNCLE GREGORY IS HERE! UNCLE GREGORY!" Then my younger nephew Jeffrey trotted over to the doorway to look and he started yelling, too. I could hear my sister burst into laughter at the chaos I caused.

That was thoroughly entertaining and it's something that will stick with me for a long time.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Wrangler Uncle

For Thanksgiving, I'm in Springfield, IL where almost all of my immediate family is converging today. My nephews are four and two and I've had the opportunity/duty to do some work as an adult around two small children.

While this involved the sometimes frustrating duty of being disciplinarian, it also involved having to distract and entertain. Furthermore, it means that as long as I am here, I get to hear or hear about the awesome things that come out of the mouths of youngsters, like:


• "I'll never be a black man!" (they're light skinned, mixed ethnicity kids)
• "Yeah, I've got skills, huh?" (after climbing over a child gate)
• "RARRRR! I WANT A HUG!" (the younger one pretending to be monster and menacing the older one)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Long Goodbye

Wow.

I was around people for eleven months and I was a little slow to open up and be more free about being myself. I was so unsure of what to expect and of what was expected of me by others. Eventually I opened up and even smoothed out a couple of misunderstandings. In the course of those months, I became understood and gained understanding. I relearned the virtue of being yourself and continued my ongoing refining of being able to do so without terribly violating their being of self.

People were genuinely sad as I was leaving. The weight started a month ago as the word seemed to finally start spreading. Then the last week came. Then the last day. People had been saying goodbye to me all day. Then when I was doing some cleaning and we were doing what little load-out work we have, there were more goodbyes.

The morning of: more goodbyes. Minami, one of the people from lighting, kept smiling even though she was sad, as had been proven to be true-to-form for her. Musashi held on to both of my hands as he did his best to give parting wishes in English (he only speaks a little) and the rims of his eyes grew red. A group of the ladies surrounded me and gave me well-wishes for my mom. Then they asked me if I was going to come back. The hardest one was Yuki, the guy who had just been catching in the show for the last two weeks. Yuki loves to dance and tries to learn all he can. He is strongly disposed toward hip-hop and house. These last few months he and I would meet in the vomitory before my second gag each show and we would dance a little routine he choreographed. I would also teach him some other basic building block moves that he could incorporate into other moves or use to enhance some ones he already had: just to tweak a little.

Taka, the guy with whom I built a bridge and sorted out a misunderstanding, said one last goodbye of many. There was also the bonus of learning what it means when you cross your fingers in Japan. In the USA we cross our fingers for luck. In Japan, it's apparently a warding gesture. Technically, I think it's likely that is the origin of it here, but the connotation is different.

Yuki cried when he heard I was going to leave. He cried again as my taxi was approaching. I gave him a CD of some hip-hop and techno tracks that are the perfect BPM (beats per minute) range for what he likes to do.

Lunch break was over, but a bunch of the staff dropped work for a bit just to give me a final farewell. It was a lot of love and appreciation and it kept me from being completely dejected. It's nice to have people want you to come back before you leave.

On the way to the train station, the taxi driver recognized me as one of the clowns. He was delighted and I happily stood for a picture before leaving the cab.

I'm going back to Japan again some day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Working In

Jessi Wonderfool has now done everything in the show. As usual, she's doing it awesomely. She's getting used to show order and such, but she's rocking it as only she can. As far as learning the gags, that's been a breeze. There's nothing complicated at all; the hardest part is just getting around the timing of working around the rigging changes and traffic patterns.

It's great seeing people work on something and then work into the show. One girl here had been working on foot juggling for months and months – probably years – and now has had the number in the show for a few months now. Yuki, the guy I dance with, has been learning to catch on trapeze and now he's been working in the act for a couple of weeks now.

It's really good to see work pay off.

On a T-shirt

The last installment of this voyage:

• Become like angel
• Country nostalgic
• Phillips cowboy
• Mickey Mouse. He greeted me with a smile. He is always friendly and gentle to everyone he meets.
• I [heart] rule
• My proud car
• Dig deep into the music

Ending Weirdness

One of my best friends and favorite clowning partners is here in Japan. She's taking the spot that I am leaving. It's absolutely great to have her here, but it stinks that our time around each other is so short.

Things feel weird: some individuals are acting strangely manic (yet not atypically so), people are disappointed that I'm leaving, and I'm bumming. My feelings are mixed, actually. I'm glad to be getting closer geographically to my family, but leaving this place is a bummer. It's a bit worse because I feel like I'm leaving Jessi behind. In a sense I am, but I'm also moving forward and in a matter of months, I expect to have enough new material to make me feel productive.

Change is necessary for growth, and man, have I been growing! Onward and upward!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Departing Thoughts

I have one week left here in Japan, one week left on my contract. With another change in life pending, I am of course pensive and a bit down. Life not generally being lack and white, I'm also happy to be leaving.

Kinoshita Circus is a good place. I like the company, I like the people, I like being in Japan. I have learned quite a bit here and I have grown in mind and body. One of the most important things I learned was about observation. Only through living each day in a state of actively noticing things was I able to actually experience the advantages of letting observation be a teacher, where before I knew it cognitively and and had forgotten the previous instances of putting it in action.

The most important things I've learned here the last eleven months have been through observation. The majority were in regard to performing and some were about conduct as a person. I will not express some of those things here, but I am leaving with a renewed interest in ongoing evolution. With stagnation, there is death whether it be figurative or otherwise. Because of coming here and being open, I now believe I ave come closer to becoming the person I wish to be.

This departure is a very good thing for me. I will be closer to my family and be able to respond more immediately to any need for help. My parents are getting older and my mom's health is steadily deteriorating. My younger sister has her own family and problems she's sorting out. Living in the Twin Cities again will make me the closest responder with the least amount of daily life business that will stand in the way of family need.

Joining that is the fact that I will be in a place extremely conducive to the nurturing of my evolution as a performer. I left the Winnie The Pooh show two and a half years ago because nothing was going to change for me significantly enough. I began feeling like I was in a space that had grown too small. I had ideas brewing in my head that I couldn't execute or develop there. That feeling of being in a chrysalis has not changed since then. Lest I would have become stagnant and blinded by the great paycheck, solid gig, and awesomeness of living in Japan, the trials of this past spring helped me remain focused on the things that count. I never planned to spend the rest of my life here and if I can't get done here what I would like to get done, there's always some place else.

Somewhere down the road there is always another gig. There is always some place else to go. Life moves forward and I hope that I will never be too afraid to move with it and surf its waves.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Funny! Funny? Funny . . . .

I think it was circus clown Lou Jacobs, when asked something like "What's funny?", said something along the lines of "If the audience laughs, it's funny."

If I'm in the moment, doing that thing that the audience is laughing at, and I know what it is that I'm doing that's inspiring them - allowing them - to laugh, why can I sometimes not understand? When someone says with self-assurance that something is funny or they're doing it because it's funny, I take that with a healthy dose of salt, depending on the source.

If I didn't think so much, it wouldn't matter, but I also think that it wouldn't matter without the thought. I like to entertain people. I like to make space for people to laugh. Honestly, any time someone asks if I'm funny or asserts that I'm funny, my initial reaction is: "Well, I'm not so sure."

Just because the audience laughs does that make something intrinsically funny? Actually, reflecting on things, I think the question I'm thinking at the root of it all is: just because something works and makes the audience laugh, does that make it quality work?

I don't want to be one of those people who wastes his time or the audience's time being what he thinks is funny. I've seen people hold a room with simple, simple things that are the most awesome. I've seen people work who make it painfully obvious that their main goal is simply to be loved by the audience and to be the favorite part of the show for them. I've seen people work on something new or attend workshops to expand their education and abilities. I've seen people do nothing to expand their performing knowledge/ability base or who go to a show and have nothing but notes on it as if it were their job to be the director.

That's why going home in a number of days is such a good thing. Sure, I won't be making nearly as much and I won't be living in Japan, but aside from being closer to my family, there is that one thing. I will be in a place where I can expand myself and create, not growing stagnant or too comfortable.

And I can work on being funny.

On a T-shirt

• Bowl Game Champ, Pasadena
• enjoy oneself
• Pop-up pirate, the dark - Black beard
• The world guaranteed perfect
• Give all to her for [heart heart heart]
• Good news message
• pretty sweet & cute lovely girl
• Washington Univercity St. Louis
• Wisconcin
• friends are the sunshine

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Japanese Recycling

I have a greater appreciation for recycling in the United States. More specifically, the programs of my hometowns: West Des Moines and Minneapolis. WDM has single stream recycling, which means if it's recyclable, you just dump it in the recycling bin. There is no more need to separate. Minneapolis, still does the basic glass/plastic/metal/paper, which is still easy and nice.

In Japan you cannot crush your empty cartons. You have to cut them open a certain way. Then , of course, there's the frustrating recyclable plastic/non-recyclable plastic deal, which continues to frustrate me no matter which country I'm in.

I suppose I should be happy there's recycling at all. That reminds me of the Winnie the Pooh tour. It was weird for three years living in hotels and just throwing everything and anything away in one trash bin with no recycling whatsoever. And that towel and sheet thing? Total BS. They'd still change the towels and sheets every day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Sights Seen, Events Experienced

Here's a small list of things that have made me sigh or chuckle in appreciation over the last week:

• A little girl in a witch hat at one of the shows last week
• End-of-the-night discount grocery store deli gyoza
• End-of-the-night discount grocery store deli sushi
• said sushi being good and not making me sick
• hearing Japanese muzak in the store with lyrics being sung in English. The song in question at the time: "Saturday in the Park"

Thursday, October 21, 2010

On a T-shirt

• Earth Laundry
• Victory goes to the most persevering
• You control your own life
• manual control you are a good driver
• Aphorism proverb interesting words
• Motor City Mad Van
• Share your favorite things
• Let it frock [and there was a picture of a frog with a guitar, so I guess it was an attempt at mixing words or making a pun]
• lump of nature
• Everybody has unlimited chances to make their life better
• I love him
• You make me laugh
• Too much swelling
• Rabble rousing
• Do it acoustic dude ranch style
• Who got a props?
• SK8R BOY what's up?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Yatta!

I didn't want to jinx a situation – not that I'm superstitious, but I suppose in that way I am – but now I can freely squawk about my achievement.

I successfully worked all of the shows in a week without dropping in juggling! Oh, sure there were some sticky spots and sketchy throws, but I did it. It's not the be-all and end-all to things, but it's a goal I had and I always seemed to drop at least once each week. We even had an extra show this week.

On a T-shirt

• Punch Drunkard – the Yellow Monkey
• eat the rich/ get stoked
• smile for peace
• peaceful enticement
• Fort McPherson Mechanical Fireman
• beach always
• mermaid's sweet melody
• I [heart] beans
• pleasure decently
• It is gentle like a hippo
• secret limitation rad
• growth is easy
• I [heart] nice
• Ghost! Boo! Ghosts threaten you!
• Dear God, why aren't you on tv?
• It is very fine today
• cute rock girl
• you make progress with lots of luck
• sweet girls love rock
• don't forget your original intent
• happily clappy
• In 305 mistake
• the peaceful world
• to all girls
• thirty years of successful living
• Chick Fight Night Club London Rock
• Happy in my future
• since we wants to see the face at which you laugh
• Give me plug!
• Envy is the ulcer of the soul/ Hate the justice
• Crowd one's luck, breathe a prayer.
• I wish you joy/ my only love you

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Return to Form

YES!

Today is the first day back at working out after the slight injury. I just wanted to make sure I was in decent enough form so that I wouldn't aggravate anything. Holy crap, it was great to be back and –

I did more of this grouping of exercises than I was doing two weeks ago when I last worked out. Was it the rest period? I have no idea, but it felt so good! I'm really thankful for my health and am determined to take care of it.

Even though I admit I do drink alcohol at times and eat junk food. I'm not perfect, you know. I don't have worse vices, so I guess I have to have something.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Whatchu Laffin At?

There are spots in one of our gags where I do some small scale goofiness that came out of the moment earlier on in my time here. One of the joys of what I do is when I'm doing one of these goofy things just because something has to be done in that empty space. When I look at my "dirty" hands in disgust and then wipe them on the railing in between me and some of the audience, that usually gets a small laugh. There's another part where I take the torn paper and fold it back up neatly, only to throw it on the ground. When that gets a laugh, I think that feels the best.

Those unexpected laughs let me know that people are paying attention. It's the same with this Music Box gag we do, which is a classic gag that can be done well, or it can be trite, emotionally manipulative treacle. Some people might not like it when the audience is laughing when I'm getting angry and ultimately destroy the music box. When that happens, the point to me is that the audience members laughing are identifying with the fact that the person with the music box is obviously interrupting the other person. Eventually, the interrupted person gets so frustrated that they destroy the music box. When the audience laughs, I feel that they are recognizing the times that they've felt like that in their lives and have wanted to do such a thing. To get all psychological, I'm acting on an impulse they've had and the laugh comes from the recognition. The audience is laughing and we struck something personal. I'm not a touchy, feely clown person, but I think that's one for the win column!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Staring Role

I remember when I was on tour with Disney Live! Winnie the Pooh, some members of the cast and crew were losing their minds when we were in China. They had never been stared at so much in their lives. Anywhere we went, Chinese people would stare at the foreigners. These people had spent their lives in places where they looked like everyone else, and had spent time in countries where they could at least pass for a local if they kept their mouths shut. For me it was a field day watching the locals fall over themselves, running into each other and stationary objects to get a good gander at the six-foot tall black guy. I admit that I was also chuckling at the white guys just losing their minds, getting slightly paranoid and aggressive about people staring at them. I wanted to tell them that they'll get used to it like I did years and years ago, but I decided to keep my mouth shut so I could keep getting a free show. Kids were often the best.

I get stares everywhere I go in Japan, although it's a bit more rude in Japanese society than in Chinese society. It's pretty entertaining to see teens and college students get all smiley and "Look! Look!" when they see me. It's pretty easy to smile back at them since I find it so entertaining. When I'm working, I have an even bigger effect as a clown, since they might have seen clowns before, but never a black clown, let alone one with dreadlocks. It's a pleasant surprise for them when they learn that this is my hair and not a wig.

This past week gave me two new gems of entertainment, courtesy of younger kids. I had just finished checking out at the grocery store and was bagging my groceries. I noticed a little girl and her father walking past me and her eyes were riveted on me. Her head swiveled to stay locked on me as I smiled at her. Her father saw what was going on and then he swiftly gave her a disciplinary tap on the head, presumably for staring, for not watching where she was going, or both. I was sorry she got in trouble for her curiosity, but it was endearing all the same.

The second was also in the grocery store as I was waiting to check out. I tend to survey my surroundings instead of zoning out, seeing what I can notice and as a former girlfriend always caught me doing: practicing reading my kana. I spotted some movement out of the corner of my eye as one of the kids in line behind me was dancing. I turned my head more and he stopped and froze his face in a mockingly innocent look as if he was doing nothing. I wasn't sure, but I'm sure he returned my smile as we both recognized the game he was up to. As I turned my head back, he started dancing again, but moved out of my field of vision.

Holy cow, those were great moments.

Friday, September 17, 2010

On a T-shirt

• subterfuge not art
• Love is without reason find that mean to you
• For asking joker nothing is lost
• enjoying popularity
• catch girl's heart
• the leading role of the construction

Monday, September 13, 2010

Okayama Done

38 two-show days
21 three-show days
2 four-show days

grand total: 141 shows

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Officially Coming Clean

I guess it's all right now, seeing as how the agent has known, my work partner has known, and the boss officially knows: I am not extending my contract for Kinoshita Circus.

Rehearsal day today is the beginning of the end of this leg of the journey for me. After Kobe, I'm heading back to the United States. I'll be closer to my parents, who are going through some tough times with my mom's declining health. I'll also be able to restart work on other creative endeavors and ideas that have been milling about in my head. I can continue growing and developing as a clown and performer. I can be better, stronger, funnier, and have more material at my disposal. I can continue to learn, improve, create, and collaborate. I can be closer to help my family when the need inevitably arises.

It was a difficult choice to pass on the continuation of a very good gig and I've been fortunate to have this opportunity. It makes a lot of financial sense to stay and to keep saving money. Maybe one day I could return. I don't make a practice of burning bridges. Right now, this is the right decision to make. This makes heart sense and soul sense. If I didn't make myself more available for my family, I'd have a big regret on my shoulders. I know that much.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Funny Shape

I'm in the middle of watching Funny People (before the Futurama marathon) and early on, one of the characters made a quip about Seth Rogen losing weight. He was told essentially that there's nothing funny about being fit.

It struck me more than it probably should have. I can be really sensitive. For example, someone can say anything they want about my mother, but if someone ranks on the midwest – especially Iowa – I get defensive, offensive, and a bit livid.

Anyway, I'm really against that idea that comedians, clowns, etc. have to be in crap physical shape to be funny. That's been one of the things that has really been a bit of a sore spot with me, a matter of very strong opinion. Why does someone have to be pale or skinny or fat or half ugly just to be funny? I was really happy when I saw that Hank Azaria is pumped. And I saw a clip of a local Mpls awesome improv guy with his shirt off for his Fringe show: man's been working out. Awesome! My friend Kirk is a great clown and he has a body that gives women heart attacks at first sight. Another friend of mine has been continuing her drive to be healthier and has lost a bunch of weight in the last couple of years.

Theories:
• Being "other" is a way to identify with some members of your audience
• Being "other" is a way to play on the sympathies of your audience
• Being "other" is a way to appear unthreatening to your audience

Ideally, your ability should be the determinant, but I guess everyone has to have a shtick. I think I'm shtick resistant. I have to figure out if that's a good thing or a bad thing.

I wonder what my edge is. I'm still trying to figure out what my deal is in clowning. After this year, I'm more clear on what I'm not that what I am. What I don't know is the answer to what I am. All I know is that I'll be in shape and that I have ideas. And I love eccentric dance.

Seth Rogen is great in this movie. Jason Schwartzman is doing a great job of being loathsome.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

On a T-shirt

• majestic Jolly Roger
• Crocodile! Big Bite! Huge! Chin!
• performance – clowns get into the act
• cheer up – jumping around
• be infatuated with the ocean
• beats are matched
• The flame is erased
• I don't want realism. I want magic
• This is not a photo opportunity
• make globe to all outskirts
• spend the money
• Aim at success/danger zone/at the right time for eating
• always you got me rockin'

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Overheard Gem

I heard this gem from the woman one row ahead of me while waiting to disembark from the plane in Des Moines:

"I'm sorry, excuse me: I just have to stand up. I'm being a horse's patoot!"

So marvelous!

Mixed Trip

I'm in Osaka Kansai Airport (KIX) waiting for my flight back to the US. The circus is tearing down and moving to Kobe, so I'm not missing any shows. I'm missing one PR, but that's better than missing a show. I'm heading home to visit my folks. The short version is that my mom is very sick and this spring has been very bad for her – worse than normal. Now she has been diagnosed with extensive fatty liver disease and a very cirrhotic liver. This could be the last chance I have to see her alive, even though a few weeks ago I'd already told her pretty much anything I had to tell her.

I will be driving up to the Twin Cities for a day and two nights to take care of some quick stuff and will not really be able to see much of anybody. I will be able to have dinner with some friends on Thursday, but other than that, there are things that need to get done. This is not exactly a social trip.

Last night I ordered a pizza almost all by myself: about 85% of the way by myself. All in Japanese, no less! It was slow and rough, but it was done! I ordered a half and half pizza and one of the halves was available with either a tomato sauce or curry. I ordered the curry, of course, and it was delicious!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Best Medicine

This is a cross post. So what of it?

You know what made me laugh today? Watching Kung Pow! Enter the Fist. No matter how many times I see or listen to that movie, it makes me laugh a lot, and usually at the same places. I am amazed that my enjoyment of that movie has not been deadened.

You know what made me laugh yesterday? When I was jumping rope, I decided to throw in a few crossovers just to try, since I hadn't tried in a while. It was about a 75% success rate, but that's better than it ever has been in my life, I think. I had even given up trying them any time I was jumping rope. I laughed every time I succeeded and then messed up afterward. I was so excited that I succeeded and it seemed so effortless. It was that really deep, from-the-soul laughter that genuinely makes everything in your life perfect for a little while. I felt so renewed and I wanted to share the joy with everyone I knew.

I really needed that and I received it. I didn't know how much I needed it until it happened.

Still Climbing

It was just over a month ago that I hiked up Mount Fuji and came down with one large metaphor to apply to my life. And as things so happen, I've been applying it non-stop since my return. There are things going on in my personal life and my work life that involve some slippage, but mostly tenacity.

I know where I would like to go and I know how to get there: just keep moving, don't rush, and take the breathers I need to take. Drink water. Eat food. Don't give up.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On a T-shirt

T-shirts from this past week:

• everlasting immortal
• find someone you can love like crazy
• escape from you
• crocodile: live with the ground
• risk makes life funny
• tension of climax
• stylish whining
• good bye old timid me
• un ciel bleu magnifique
• last shout with beauty & happiness
• pirate of daddy
• home made elephant

Monday, August 23, 2010

A Class All Its Own

This t-shirt deserves to have its own post.

I ran out to the ring like normal and while I was milling about, tending to the balloon and greeting people, I saw the most wonderful shirt on this Japanese man:

"Not only am I PERFECT, but I'm POLISH too!"

It was a gift of humor that has continued the momentum of a good start to the day!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Walkabout

Today was the second of two days off. It's special when we get those.

Yesterday I went to Hiroshima so I could check out the floating torii gate at Miyajima. It was hot, of course, but it's much better when I'm out and about than doing shows all day, so it was very bearable. However, my camera decided it would take its behavior to another stage of annoying. Now it seems to think that the connections on my tele/macro lens are faulty and need cleaning. when I get home, I'm going to screw the Best Buy warranty because I don't have two week to send my camera out and wait for it to come back. I'm going to a camera shop and ask them to clean and check everything.

I decided to try grilled oysters (yakigaki) because – hey – when am I going to have the chance to have grille oyster street food in Japan again? Might as well take advantage of the opportunity.

They were nice enough, but I still maintain that oysters are overblown as a seafood. Then again, I prefer shrimp and crab and I think lobster is nothing special, either.

Today after I wrote out some postcards and washed my hair, I went out to hit up some errands and decided that I would walk around a bit and go places i haven't gone yet on foot. When I'm in another city or country, I really like to just take off and walk and see what I can find. Or if I've gotten an idea of where a specific thing is, I go to look for that and see what's around there.

I just walked and reached the Book Off, which is a used and new media store. Holy cow. Let's get this out of the way: they had a used Lightning Final Fantasy XIII edition PS3 in stock. I scored a couple of things (Jamiroquai's Return of the Space Cowboy and Fullmetal Alchemist Complete Best, both for ¥250 or $3) and successfully kept myself from buying a couple of others. I win! It helped that I had found a Boom Boom Satellites CD used, but for $15 (most new CDs in Japan cost about $40) and Ghostbusters on laser disc for an associate.

It was a hot day, but since I wasn't working, it was manageable. I just walked around, rolled up my sleeves and passed by Japanese women with their sun sleeves, umbrellas, and face visors on, scared of getting sun and *gasp! shock! horror!* a tan! The heat's not so bad when you can simply enjoy it and just be.

Today was a good day.

On a T-shirt

And now this past week's finds:

• be full of pleasant things
• There is only truth
• Keep your mind spicy
• Patronize your hometown merchant. He's your neighbor.
• Come into flower
• Time evolves and time and space
• Cheerful tomboy
• bubble for space
• Rock-n-rollergirl
• curiosity is expanding
• sweet juice strawberry flavor
• national garden
• great band/ he just wants to defend himself
• rough play allowed
• The hick from
• Pink gives me sweet dreams
• Big Boom Touchdown
• Water – it will fall out
• love shower
• just trust in our love
• cheer me
• exhilirating blue
• go in blind
• hysterical glamour
• shiny girls
• principle remove
• Most happy in the world
• happens to somebody else

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

On a T-shirt

Late, of course, here's last week's haul:

• love & lust mischievous kiss forever
• irie daddy
• natural funky
• Love & the home
• money doesn't change you
• special experience
• sleeping camp
• you got to be kind to rememberings
• gain a victory
• home boy unbreakable smile
• keep running railway
• opulent splendor
• arrive, raise hell, leave
• jump rock festival
• too busy to work, too far to touch
• I love my loser
• Take a little happy
• Not because I think it's funny, but because I can't think of anything to say

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Typhoon = Typhailure

Well, it wasn't a failure, but rather it blew a little farther north of us so we didn't get hit by much. We did get some light rain that began shortly before midnight and ended at some point during my slumber. That's a relief. That just means that we truly had a day off and there was no panicked tear down and set up of the tent.

Hooray for that action!

Monday, August 9, 2010

Pending Meteorological Excitement

There is a typhoon headed this way and there's a slight chance we may get some of the action. It's possible, but not necessarily highly likely, as Okayama is out of even the predicted area of influence of the predicted path across the country.

We shall see.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

All is Full of Love

I really love hearing the lions and ligers roar in the evenings. I love hearing the cicadas chirping away in the trees.

And I really, really love it when the highlight of audience interaction in a show is making faces back and forth with a kid. That always makes an entire show. There is nothing that compares to that.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Sounds That Surround

Every day I take note of the sounds that surround me in my current life.

I hear laughter and morning chatter in Japanese. I hear chain smokers coughing as they head in to work. The revving of motorbike engines tell me I have about twenty minutes until the time I set for myself to head to work. I hear the fan that blows on the miniature horses and I hear the zebras tromping around their pen. I hear the big cats roaring. I hear the dumpsters being cleared and replaced or maybe they're just emptied.

Footsteps on gravel; morning trumpet practice; people saying "ohayou gozaimasu" to each other – it's normal, it's regular, but it manages not to be mundane.

On a T-shirt

• Are you shining?
• The past is stupid/around midnight
• friendly Indy/Indianapolis
• reflect back
• legend of kingdom
• Yote: flip the script
• herltage of pride
• Mother Nature's Sons & Daughters
• camp music register now
• This is my power
• Drug store/happy . . . and happy
• fight with pride/zealous
• enjoy drive

Monday, August 2, 2010

Screw God's Creatures!

I'm trying to figure out where the heck all of the gnats and fruits flies are coming from that like to hang out around my sink and my window. I'm guessing that since I'm not slovenly and since my room isn't air tight and the door is slightly damaged from some overland mishaps before I came here, they're sliding in through the small crack and through the ventilation fans.

I'd really like to find some way to repel mosquitoes that doesn't involve an indoor mister that may or may not have DDT or slathering mosquito repellent on my skin before going to bed. It's not bad, but I am getting bitten and more often than not, disturbed by mosquito buzzing in my ear in the night or as I'm just getting to sleep.

Bugs are one reason I'm not so fond of summer anymore. It doesn't help that we're by a drainage aqueduct and that our dumpsters are pretty much right in the middle of the backlot.

I petition for the death of these bugs and I endeavor to be the hand of their doom whenever possible. I'd rather they not be around in the first place.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Arise, Daywalker!

I'm on my way back. I see the fuller, more complete Gregory Parks on the horizon, returning from walkabout.

I've been spending the last seven-to-eight months doing a lot of thinking, a lot of reflection and a lot of analyzing. I've been working a lot on keeping my mouth more shut and my eyes, ears, and mind more open. There is frustration, heartbreak, and a whole mess of inner struggle going on. Four months ago I got back into doing a self-guided yoga practice with some meditation sprinkled in. I like yoga and will continue to work to get better at it. I hope to begin instructor certification in the next year.

However, I still have felt like I've been letting myself go. I haven't been exercising like I used to two or three years ago. Yoga is exercise, but it does different things for muscle tone and not a whole lot for muscle mass. I like to look a certain way and my muscle mass has been reducing a little bit, thanks to my metabolism. So I started exercising again.

I've not been in poor shape, but what I consider to be poor or less than satisfactory compared to my last physical peak of three years ago. My body is already responding, coasting off of an adrenaline high after 20 - 30 minutes of jumping rope and sprinkling in other things to break it all up.

I already feel like I am once again worthy of the title "Daywalker". My friend Ginger first called me that a couple of years ago. I have the powers and traits of a dork/geek/nerd, but none of the weaknesses. Just because you like to spend a few hours gaming or discussing the virtues of Starfleet captains doesn't mean you shouldn't be able to do some push-ups and then cook a meal that doesn't involve Mountain Dew and calling for Chinese or pizza.

Exercise is a mood booster and I don't do drugs. I hate being in the doldrums, so there you go. If I get and stay in good shape because I'm trying to work out frustrations, then so be it.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Photo Posting test

mon beau passport


Let's see if this works correctly.

Fuji Report

If you just want to see the Flickr set, go here.

The rest is a bit of talky-talky with picture links inserted. I think I found a way to get around the recently crappified iPhoto lock-down of not being able to physically manage one's own photos via the desktop.

I find myself second guessing what people are expecting to hear about my trip. I have the idea that people are expecting a super cool tale full of adventure and entertaining anecdotes. I don't know how people will feel after reading this. Then again, this was about having my own experience and I did have my own experience. If someone wants cool stories, then maybe they should make the trip for themselves.

This is not about a daring adventure. This is about emotion and insight; about being quiet, keeping the eyes open to observe, and the mind open to examine. This is a story about wanting to see something big, loud, and beautiful – not to change my life, but to add to it.

________________________________________________________

I first had the idea of making the trip to Fuji just over two years ago. I was going to be turning 35, I would have recently ended a three-year run working on a touring stage show for Feld Entertainment and I thought it would be cool to use some of my money from touring to have a cool experience. I had caught the bug for international travel back in 2000 when I went to Germany on my first trip outside of the country. Now I had been blessed enough to have had two different touring jobs: one that that had taken me back and forth across the United States of America by train, and another that had taken me to countries around the world I had only dreamt about visiting.

A few weeks before the proposed trip, I canceled it. I was in the worst emotional slump that I had ever been in my life after a breakup with not much for resolution or closure. I needed stability. I needed dependability. I needed something that could be understood. I needed familiarity and I needed friends who weren't going to bail when things got rough and Greg showed weakness. And man, did I feel weak and vulnerable. I felt that it was better to stay home and dive into exercise more, be with my family, dive into a regular yoga practice, and work on getting myself back up to the Twin Cities to continue my life in performing.

I didn't think Fuji was the place to go to heal while I was embarrassing myself on a massive scale and being erased from someone's history. The ability to be vulnerable and hurt was more of an inconvenience than the virtue people assured me that it was.

June 2010 found me returning to Japan to start my second contract as a clown with Kinoshita Circus. Once I received the schedule for Okayama, I noted that each month had one period each of two days off. I thought it might be a good opportunity to make the trip to visit Mount Fuji. Better yet, the period of two days off in a row for July were the two days immediately before my birthday. What luck!

A couple of weeks out, I was planning and researching and getting a lot of help from a pair of people on the show who had made the climb before. The morning of July 21 came and I left the circus lot with my backpack and camera, ready to take the train up north.

Personal Rail Car

Once I arrived at the Shin-Fuji shinkansen (bullet train) station, I headed to the information desk and learned that I had some time to kill. I bought some postcards of Mount Fuji and made a mad dash to the nearby post office to buy some stamps for the postcards, as I heard that there was a post box at the top of the mountain. That was good enough for me! I made it back to Shin-Fuji with five minutes to spare to catch the bus that would take me up Mount Fuji to the 5th station, where my trek on foot would begin.

It was a big soggy that afternoon on Mount Fuji, but that wasn't anything unexpected. The weather report mentioned light showers in the afternoon and that's exactly what we had. I bought my wooden stick to get stamped at the stations along the trail and began my hike up the Fujinomiya Trail: the shortest of the trails up Mount Fuji.

6th Station Sign

After only 15 minutes I reached my resting spot for the evening: a rest house at the 6th Station called Unkaisou Hut. They were excited to see me and to have my business, but they were also very genuinely nice people. Two of the employees spoke enough English that with their English and my Japanese, we pretty much bridged any gap. They showed me my room for the time I would be staying.

Digs for the Moment

Afterward, I took a few pictures, chatted some, and then began to write out and address 20 postcards, fueled by a hot bowl of curry udon. The other guy there at the hut was a guy who – if I understood correctly – has mountain biked up and down Fuji along one of the other trails.

Curry Udon

I wound up writing a little longer than I had hoped and didn't head upstairs to get some sleep until about 7:30pm. It was nice, quiet, and dark in my room and it was easy to lie there and just rest and breathe. I don't think I got to sleep until about 9 or 9:30. Next thing I knew one of the proprietors was waking me up. I was up at 10:45pm and had changed clothes and headed up the mountain at about 11:30pm.

Away I went. From the first step, it was worlds different from my trip to Machu Picchu. When I was there, I tackled the peak of Huaynapicchu and chugged along, trying to make it up and down in a time that blew away the average. I worked hard, I pushed, I scoffed at the out-of-shape people. I thumbed my nose at the average time. I never, ever wanted live my life in a way where I would be satisfied being average.

Fuji was different. My only goal was to get to the top and to get there in time to see the sunrise. Without thinking, it automatically became a matter of one foot in front of the other. Fuji was huge and I was alone. I just wanted to make sure I got to the top. Then I'd worry about getting to the bottom.

The first two legs (6th - new 7th station, new 7th to old 7th station) were the longest. They were also the least steep. On these legs I established my pattern and rules: I would always stop for water and a little bit of food at every station. I would stop at least once along each trail to rest, in addition to resting at each station. My goal was not to break a record, it wasn't to beat anyone to the top. My goal was to live the experience and have something to take home with me, and eventually to the grave.

At each station along the way, I kept encountering this guy and his dog who was making the climb with him.

Gong and His Dog

I spoke with him later, near the 6th station on the way down. He's a Chinese guy named Gong. This was his second time climbing up Fuji, the first time with his dog. He's a translator for the Yokohama Baystars, a Japanese major league baseball team. Each time he stopped, he would make sure his dog drank some water.

The 9.5th Station was the last before the summit. I could see the first pink light starting to spread across the east and as I looked behind me down the mountain, I could see the headlamps of many people behind me. The photograph doesn't really capture the number of lights or how impressive it looked.

Line of Lights 2

As I walked closer to the top, the pathway began to back up with people. Most of the holdup was due to people stopping to take a picture of the torii gate at the top where you officially "enter" the summit of Fuji. Once I reached the top, I took a moment to look around. Most of the people were heading to the eastern side of the crater to my right. However, I didn't come just to watch the sun rise, I came to watch the sun rise and stand at the highest point on Fuji. Off to my left was the very top of the summit and the weather observation station that stood atop it. It meant another 200 meter climb up very loose pumice and dirt, but I thought I would be rewarded. I didn't come to do this halfway.

I got there and had a few minutes to relax, to take some more pictures of the crater, and to look across to the east side. Soon, the tops of the clouds sprouted orange highlights and people were already jumping the gun, yelling "Banzai!"

My Post


Northern Crater Clouds


Waiting at the Summt


Pre-Rise


As the sun started rising, I alternated between squeezing off as many shots as I could and just watching with my own eyes. In the rush to switch lenses, my 18 - 55mm lens was damaged as it fell from a position in my bag that I thought was secure. Thankfully, I still was able to score some shots with that lens before the debacle and my other lens was working just fine.

George Harrison Song (Doot'n doo doo . . . )


Close Burn


Orange Mountain Majesty


Summit Standing


You may have heard the saying "A wise man climbs Fuji once, a fool climbs Fuji twice." I crossed paths with more than one fool. It was amazing and each was happy to be making this journey. This trip wasn't about bragging rights for me. It was only about getting there and getting back. I wasn't proving anything.

The greatest part of the venture was that it was one big metaphor. It didn't matter how quickly I was going to make it to the top, it only mattered that I did. And in order to do so, I had to make sure to take rests along the way and to move forward steadily and safely. I slipped some times, and other times I slowed down. But I kept going until the next resting point, then took my time to regroup, then started off again. On the way up, I was passed by some people and I also did some passing of my own. Each person or group worked at their own pace because the wonder of the experience was simply being on the mountain.

There would have been no advantage to getting to the top any sooner. I arrived there at just the right time, allowing me to have the exact experience that I had hoped to have and that some might say I was meant to have. Many people reached the top before I did, but that was okay. I didn't have to be the first or the tenth or the hundredth. I just had to get there and be there. For the duration of my trek up and down that mountain I was able to do something that I usually struggle with in my daily life: I was able to be fully present.

Leaving the Summit

Thursday, July 29, 2010

On a T-shirt

Of course I still haven't been doing this weekly, so here's a two-to-three week list again!

• Ice blue abide/ my dream is satisfied
• jeaning wear
• milk rich
• strong american
• highest laugh
• tough robust health
• cutie love earth
• enjoy angel style
• honey candy
• I like cake and candy
• guerilla gardening
• we are new British anthem
• earth saver
• fear is always worse than danger
• listen to the voice of the soul
• niceness
• do you get breath?
• what is believed is saved
• Dinosaur supreme ruler
• speaky
• make a perfect plan
• Say yes if you believe the love I feel in my heart
• King of street clothing/ Too cool to life
• dearly feeling music dance
• candy magic girl
• keep smile & stream
• Cowboy heaven breaking/The story of a deadman in an old western
• Love is free
• Love is life
• More than enough you shall die
• heavy feeder
• pride driving damege
• necessity/ all that counts in life is intention/remotion
• grandly real minority
• trip to hell montage
• BBQ chickens/Pizza of Death Records

Fuji

A week ago I took my trip to Mount Fuji. The goal was to hike up to the top so I could watch the sunrise. I haven't written my blog entry about it yet. I've just now had the time between work and stuff back home to satisfactorily mull it over in my head.

Watch this space.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Today's Slice of Japanery

I just realized that the song that was being played on a continuous loop in the produce department of the grocery store I use is a song about and promoting bananas. In almost every store I've visited in Japan, there is some type of promotional song being played somewhere in the store. They tend to make for really persistent earworms.

Secondly, I just ate a bag of fried chicken flavored potato chips.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lot Sweet Lot

This town (Okayama) we're right by a train station and a bunch of switch-over tracks. That means throughout the day and night I get to hear the sound of moving trains, which I absolutely LOVE.

I also get to hear the chirping of nearby frogs. I have nice sounds around my house.

On a T-shirt

Another two weeks'-plus worth of t-shirt quotes:

• F--- fashion, let's smoke menthols
• Challenge your looser never give up!
• I'm propelled by cheer
• Nevada born side winder
• Only enjoying living is worth of alive
• nice day expected to begin
• Hushush kind champion
• to scramble to the popcorn
• I love my homework?!? That's why I'm saving it for tomorrow!
• old fruit keeps long
• the pictures came out well
• Let's dance, rock your soul as you go
• I [heart] first girls
• over raps
• trouble for skinheads
• I [beetle instead of a heart] big beetle
• achieve thrill of creativity
• I don't know – your love please
• The soul breaks! Give God my regards, tell him thanks!!
• MAKEUP/like the god of death
• real ization/seeking dream go along
• Yosemite/Pink/pink is more than just a color
• heap on our Okayama
• Actually they always say that time changes things, but you really have to change them yourself

Snippets From My Life

I was just shaking out some laundry, looked up, and saw that one of the zebras had stopped and was looking at me. Is that cool and goofy or what?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

On a T-shirt

I forgot to list the last week's worth of t-shirt text spotted in the audience!

• cupcake delicious/sweet&reward
• memories this small coin holds
• BEAMS What is to be worthy?/expression persona
• Awesome performer pierrot
• super fisherman
• Goodhack Life (on back: Lemon ride)

Things I Forgot to Do Before I Left

Nagoya is over with.

66 show days, 165 shows

Four of those were four-show days, 25 of those were three-show days.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Signs of Life

• While bagging groceries outside the store, a woman asked her husband about something when he returned to her side. The clearest (non-mumbled) part of his reply was when he began by blowing his nose.

• A young woman passed me on a bicycle with a half-Winehousey hairdo, a plaid button-down shirt, black pants with unshouldered suspenders, and white patent leather high heels.

• Masai, the show's giraffe, really likes people. Today started chewing on one of our visitor's hair.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Shirtery

Here's the overdue list of shirt text that I was able to remember and copy down for the last two weeks. Or is it two-and-a-half?

• grow out
• Shout to ourselves/ourselves perfect
• Silly Rock World
• Recovery/Trip/Save/Dance
• I ♥ Baby Shopping
• F--- yen
• Heart Attack/Hype Fresh
• The world exists perfect
• Make an advance, enhance peace
• luffy pirates
• at every moment/ be brabe/step forward/never backward
• saucy cool
• let's rock again
• born to love/born to save/born to dead
• freedom smile beam peaceful
• my saucy love
• highest laugh
• hotbiscuits
• Philosophy: evolve my vision
• cut dirt
• BASH take the drop or take the pain
• nawty girls fiesta animal
• Share in wonder/I have a surprise for you

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Lag

It's been just over a week, but that doesn't mean that nothing happened. I was just very procrastinatory and did nothing bloggish. Slacker!

Another welcome to Japan is happening right now. It's been raining for nearly two days straight now. The back lot is understandably muddy and the tent is understandably muggy inside. It's exactly like taking a shower in my clothes from the inside out, but minus any clean, refreshing feeling that come from having showered. Oook.

I'm flying home in a week for the break. I have a few things to take care of, one of which is getting to the doctor and dentist for checkups. I'm not feeling sick, but I always like to have regular checkups to make sure things are going south. This will be the first time doing either without insurance, so I'll find out how much it'll cost for a routine visit. This could be entertaining.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Housing Association

The neighbors down the way are being noisy, but I can't and won't do anything about it. They're lions, tigers, and ligers. Ligers are huge.

I've just been letting them do their thing.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Can It Be?

As of this weekend, we had our last four-show day of Nagoya. Whew! From here on out, it's all downhill, with three more weeks to go before I fly home for two weeks.

From where I stand, I could use the break. Juggling really has me frustrated. I'm still not a fan of the clubs we use, which are fat-bulbed, single pieces of molded plastic. They're a bit hard on the hands, which makes extended practice time – my preferred mode of practice – a little bit rough. My passing isn't as accurate as I'd like or as it has been. Still, my dislike for the clubs drives me to practice more. As much as the type of club is a valid excuse, I also don't like to be the sort of person who blames his difficulties solely on the instruments in hand. So to keep things on an upward trajectory, I practice as much as I can with my partner and then practice more on my own as I can. As far as I'm concerned, it all boils down to flight time. Since I don't have my Renegades here with me and there is obviously no mutual desire to switch the type of clubs being used, the more time I spend with my plastic nemeses, the better off I'll be.

Forget survive: I shall succeed!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

On a T-shirt

Why didn't I start doing this earlier?!

I am going to make a weekly rundown of the English I see on t-shirts in Japan and especially in the audiences at shows. As I just had this brainstorm, I can only remember two from the past week, making for a very humble beginning:

• Echo is Garlic
• Large Boned skull rock

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Done Done Done!

Days Four and Five brought me a bit of fatigue. I hit the wall and my knees have been hurting all week. I believe that the reason is my shoes are ready to be repaired. I need new insoles (which are on the way) and the heels are in need of replacement. I guess I'm taking my shoes home on break, seeing as how I think they're ready for a resoling as well.

The weather is definitely kicking into the warmer days of spring. I made the executive decision to dump the orange long sleeved shirts and don the short sleeved white shirt and the tie. I prefer that not only because it's cooler, but also because it looks a little cleaner. That should work for a while while I put together some other ideas and get something made. Pretty much every other clown before has gone with basic big pants, long sleeved short and vest, if not shirt and tie. I just need to figure out something that works with my body, looks good and is a fit.

But now? I'M DONE with the Golden Week marathon! ArooooOOOOOOO!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

In Deep: Day 3 of Golden Week shows

I am writing from almost the middle of the seven-day, 21-show Golden Week run. The ninth show is under way as I compose this entry.

"What is Golden Week?" you may be asking. Golden Week is a week of holidays in Japan that encompasses three other holidays, two of which – according to a description given me by one of the Japanese – I can liken to President's Day. One of the holidays commemorates something imperial. To flesh in my limited understanding, I consulted the internet's foremost encyclopedic, completely error-free source (and I say that with sarcasm because one never truly knows if it's error-free, except on trust): Wikipedia. Here's what Wikipedia has to say about Golden Week. It's much more informative than my breakdown.

In the last couple of days, the audience has brought me a man who, after his attempts to speak to me in Japanese that exceeds my level, I determined was asking if I was Maori. Then there were two young ladies who were obvious proponents of the skin darkening/fake baking fad in Japan, yet not entirely of the blackface variety. They were more of a possibly unintended orange hue.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Holidays? For The Public, Maybe!

Two days ago I went to the movies to see Alice in Wonderland in 3D. First of all, I finally got to see the Tron 2 trailer in 3D. That had me excited to little end. Seeing that Recognizer land, the light bikes – it all touched my geekiness right at the very heart. Regardless how cool it is, I think it's funny how 3D movies still look like nothing more than moving Viewmaster slides. My entertainment on this adventure began when the time came to put on the 3D glasses and the Disney logo appeared on the screen and all of these Japanese people emitted this collective sound of wonder and amazement.

Yesterday (Thursday) began a solid week of shows. I'm looking down the barrel of 21 shows in seven days Actually, I'm already in the barrel, locked, and loaded: yesterday began with four shows. We have a brief respite today with only two shows, but the next five days feature three shows each day. I'm pretty sure I'll make it through unscathed and none the worse for wear. And if I can't, my ego will propel (or drag) me the rest of the way. I'm going into it feeling like a million bucks (minus a few thousand) because I've been back into the swing of yoga for about a month. It's been rare that I've done any 60 minute sessions, but I'm at least able to start each day with a specially targeted 15 minutes and end with 30-60 minutes of yin yoga for the joints and soft tissues. Trouble spots that have appeared in recent months are slowly and surely smoothing out.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Expansion Vow – And Away We Go!

Why have I been limiting this blog just to work related stuff? That's so stupid and obvious! None of the seven of you who read this ever pointed that out to me! How can I trust you anymore as friends? Honestly!

So from hereon out, I'm expanding to include little daily adventures if I have them and other goofy, possibly boring stuff that may actually wind up being charming instead of boring. In fact, I may be typing multiple posts over the next couple of days to make up for lost time.

One of the things that I have been doing while in Japan is breaking a rule. It's not a written rule, but it's a rule that apparently I wasn't aware of when I came over here, and plan to continue breaking. As far as I can understand, foreigners passing each other in public aren't supposed to acknowledge each other in a friendly manner. Should you actually cross paths and/or share space with a foreigner, one should either be diverting their eyes, or meet the gaze with a soft glare that masks any hint of identifying with being a fellow foreigner.

I'm not sure what it is. Maybe the other people are worn down from being here. Maybe they're embarrassed by other foreigners – heck I've had an encounter or two that were quite embarrassing. Maybe they figure that I'm another anime freak tourist with yellow fever, come to Japan only for toys, crazy game shows, ninja stuff, and that elusive cute Japanese girlfriend. Whatever. Screw you sourpusses – I'm still going to nod and smile. I'm going to be that friendly face that you passed by in a sea of indifference. You'll take it and you'll like it!

However, I would like to report that the black guy nod still works over here.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

What Have I Got To Show?

Yesterday, I was posed the question of how long I've been a clown. I've been a working, professional clown for ten years.

That got me thinking. Then again, it doesn't take much to get me thinking.

I have some good stuff on my resume, but really – after ten years, I'd think I'd be better. I'd think I'd have more confidence in my ability. One might think I'd have a closet full of props and costumes, enough material in my head to choke a horse, and a litany of skills that could make anyone's head spin. Instead, I only have scraps of ideas, a few things that I can do reasonably well as a generalist and not a specialist, and some good jobs on a resume.

I can be better.

Geeky Pleasures

I have no bones in making it abundantly clear that I am not a fan of audience volunteer work in gags. I mean that in the sense that I'm okay watching them, but I don't like to do them. I don't like so much of what I do hinging on someone being able to understand what I want them to do or on trusting that the person won't screw me over in the process. If something seems simple to me and someone doesn't understand what I want them to do, I get frustrated. I don't understand what is so hard about "Please do this, now."

We do two audience volunteer gags in the show, one of which, I do half of the "heavy lifting" as far as audience volunteers go. Most of the time it's successful, but not without sticky points.

That said, having outed myself as a control freak Grinch of questionable clowning ability, one of the audience volunteers I picked was wearing a most geektacular knit shirt. It was green and simple. In black letters across the front it said "HADOUKEN".

That's a video game thing from Street Fighter, in case you didn't get it.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Big in Japan

On Tuesday night I finally was able to see some friends of mine perform! Three Japanese clowns I know have their street troupe known as Ple-Mix and they performed two nights this week. It was an incredibly enjoyable show that mixed street and stage performance, dance, mime, and just plain goofiness. A couple of routines seemed very Mummenschanz inspired. I knew that Chang, Lonto, and Toppo had a group, but I'd never had the opportunity to see them perform before. I can check this one off of my list now!

The best part was showing up at their place and watching the rest of the Japanese clowns freak out when they saw me. I continued to blow minds by remembering the names of a lot of the people from the company, albeit their stage names and not their given names. I'm still dealing with that part of the equation. When I remembered a name, there was amazement. When I asked, there was eager answering and no one seemed to blame me for not having remembered.

There are a couple of more shows at Pleasure-B while I'm here in Nagoya and I plan to make it to see them.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

13 Month Old Baby

Four years ago in Nagoya there were apparently quite a few events of concern with the show. It was a belief held to some degree that it had to do with angry spirits. This time, there were apparently monks blessing the tent and the grounds to settle any spirits that might be hovering around.

In the past couple of weeks, a few minor injuries have occurred – nothing serious. To some, they might be the cumulative result of incorrect technique/body maintenance or inattentiveness. The motorbikes always seem to have intermittent mechanical trouble every couple of months, so that's par for the course. As another measure to alleviate further incident, there have been bags of garlic hung at the entrances to the grounds and the entrance from the curtains to the ring. There are also two bowls of salt at the rear entrance to the tent that are supposedly always there, but this week was the first time I'd noticed them.

At the basic level, I'm glad that no one has been hurt in the show.

I'm just reporting a cultural curiosity, not judging. There are all sorts of circus and theater superstitions. I personally don't say "good luck," but at this point, it's more because that phrase indicates doubt than it is for tradition. I prefer to say "Go gettem!"

Friday, April 9, 2010

Return to "Normalcy"

I just had a friend from Ringling days visit me and she moved on to Tokyo a couple of days ago. I must say that with all of the people proclaiming that they wanted to come visit me because they'd love to visit Japan, I never honestly expected anyone to make the trip. She proved me wrong. However, I did learn a couple of things.

First off, I learned that sleeping on my floor is a very livable state of affairs. When the nights turned chilly again, I didn't have to worry because my carpet is an electric carpet: easy warmth! It also had me on the floor in the morning as I awoke, further prompting me to dive back into my regular yoga practice. Second, I learned that it's still kind of a bit difficult to fit a second person in my room, especially when that person has three bags with them. Third, when that person showers, it makes the room a little less comfortable. Being the one getting out of the shower and exiting the bathroom is no problem, but when someone else is steaming up the room, I definitely have to open the windows. Fortunately, she knew someone else on the show and wanted desperately to catch up, so we weren't really afforded the opportunity to get sick enough of each other that we were at each others' throats. I did have to deal with eating out multiple nights in a row, when I don't even usually eat out more than twice a month.

Now I'm back into the swing of things, not having to play host or tour guide or escort. Today we have four shows again, which makes everyone cranky. I manage not to get cranky – more "focused" – as I try to be efficient and take care of my body and take special advantage of rest periods. I have no complaints because the rest of the staff are working out in the house when they're not on stage. I have far less reason to gripe.

However, May promises a bit of delicate work and deft steps as I work around people being frustrated and surly during Golden Week. We start after a day off with four shows, then two shows, then five days of three shows. People will likely be tired and some in bad sorts more than others. I plan on not being one of those people, yet not being annoying cheerful guy. I'll just keep my nose to the grindstone and go.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Wheeeeaster!

Do you know what's awesome about having a cold with a clown nose glued on? Nothing, which is why I'm glad that I have a string nose as well. I used to be against using a string nose, but after a few colds and four years on Ringling, I got over that.

Juggling is going well. It's going much better than it had been to date and our practice is finally paying off. I feel more confident, which frees me up to rock the character and context side of the routine even more and throw in some little goofy moments that I hear the audience enjoying.

Unfortunately, this morning's crowds were a little lackluster. Had they not brought their pet crickets with them, we'd have heard even less from them!

Kelly and I began consuming our Easter candy that our respective parents had sent. I'm doing my best not to consume enough to degrade my teeth.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Something in the Way

Today we had a third show added. Not that I can't handle three shows, or even the ten shows this will make over the last three days. It just stunk because I was planning to head to the fabric store after the second show. Now that we have the third show, it will be closed before I even leave the lot. Grr and harumph. Still, if that's the only reason I have to complain, then the day is a good one.

I am still a bit mystified. In the US I don't think any production could just decide to add a show on the same day based on turnaway and expect people to return. I don't know, but I've not heard of it done. Apparently on this show, it happens occasionally and there are indeed people in the seats, and enough to have made an extra show worthwhile. This astounds me. On a bottom-line basis, extra demand and an extra show are good things. They're good for the company and they're good in that they provide another opportunity for me to figure things out audience-wise.

Among the many things this gig is cementing for me, it's the idea of words being only secondary to what I'm doing. If I rely on the words, then changing cultures and changing countries will put a cramp in my clowning work. If I have something that exists independent of the language, then what I do can truly be performed internationally.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Four On the Floor

Today marks the second or maybe the third four-show day that we've had since my arrival and there are a couple more before we leave Nagoya.

There was no such thing as four-show days for us on Ringling: the shows were too long to do that. My first experience with a four=show day was on the Pooh tour. We had some in Malaysia and China and the troops were not happy. It made for a long day. It wasn't exactly pleasant with the humidity and those days were made more difficult by certain members of our cast who weren't practiced at taking care of themselves or simply didn't have the constitution (because they weren't practiced at taking care of themselves). It wasn't fun – we were still doing four shows instead of three – but at the very least, my best friend Leo and I could look at each other and take some solace in the fact that any four-show day was still shorter than a three-show day on Ringling.

The strange thing about the four-show day here on Kinoshita is that it feels very different. I was just noticing during opening of the third show that, hey – it's the third show, but it doesn't feel like it. We still have one more to go and I'm sure it'll move as quickly as the others have today. The shows have even kind of felt like they weren't all there for the most part.

Or maybe I wasn't all there. That's a distinct possibility.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Turning Circle

This past week, my old touring show rolled into Nagoya, four years after the last visit. This time, instead of being the last city in Japan, it's the first city. As with four years ago, Kinoshita Circus is in town at the same time. This time, instead of being on Pooh visiting a friend on Kinoshita, I'm on Kinoshita visiting friends on Pooh.

There are a few people on the show who I knew were still on the show and a few others who I didn't know if they were or not. I was able to meet up with my friends Sallie, Kevin, and Rich and the day after with those three and our old company manager Mitch. Hanging out in the lobby to say goodbye, some performers were returning from a day out and some of the crew was returning from load-in, so I was able to see more people and greet them.

It also was a nice boost to be told so many times how I'm missed. I'd be lying if I said that didn't boost my ego. It's nice to hear because you wonder, you know. At least I do.

As a bonus, the local crew bosses were able to make sure – in conjunction with the manager – that I was able to make it into the building to see the dress rehearsal. I was pretty ecstatic because otherwise their show schedule was parallel to mine. I was able to see even more people that were still around who appeared to be happy to see me. Best of all, I was able to see the show run with the changes that had been put into place since I left.

It all looked great. One of the things that makes me happy is when I'm able to see friends perform. There's a lot less pressure in enjoying than in performing!

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Death of a Duck

I was going to start playing catch-up about the last couple of days. However, my friend Steve's duck Señor Pato died unexpectedly this morning.

So yeah. In brief honor of Señor Pato, I'll put off updating until a bit later.

Señor Pato Takes a Bath

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Whether You Deserve It or Not

Here we are, going into a nice two days off. These are always great. I even had a good day today going into it. Juggling went great. I dropped, but it played out in a way that it looked like it was planned. To top it off, did I feel like crap for dropping? Did I beat myself up? Nope. For once it didn't matter and I felt good about how everything came out in the end. That was a great feeling to have stacked on top of a gag that went well.

Then, as if to prove a point (or to test my resolve), it happened again the second show. No sweat.

Later, I found that I had once again managed to step into tiger crap somewhere on the floor at some point during Whipcracker, which I didn't understand. I saw no tiger crap, the guys had swept the ring, and still I managed to produce a small piece of tiger crap from the ether and then to step in it. At least it wasn't like yesterday when one of the tigers - or ligers, maybe – had a bowel explosion and I stepped in some at the same point in each show. As a bonus, I even got some on the hem of my pants. It was a treasure, I tell you!

Cleaning off my shoe outside the alley container, one of the performers told me that in Japan, crap on your shoe is good luck. Well then, I had two lucky days in a row.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Noted Improvement

Today was a much better day of shows. Most notably, I didn't futz up juggling and drop. I almost messed up the finish, but Kelly was able to manage to make the between-leg catch despite my having thrown it high and outside.

I also signed my contract extension, so I'm here on Kinoshita until the end of the year. That means more time in Japan, more time working, more time working on clowning, and more time to get a couple of more gags put together and worked in the show.

In our third show today, there was a group of foreigners who I immediately presumed were Americans. During the show they were very vocal with their enjoyment of the show to the point of being obnoxious. After the show, when I was almost completely out of costume, one of the performers came back and said there was a guest who was asking for us. He was trying to get backstage to see us and he smelled of alcohol. Sure enough, it was one of the Americans.

The guy and his fellow Americans abroad had seen fliers for the circus and decided that they would get completely wrecked and come to the circus. That they did. Mission accomplished. He lied and told the employee that he met us at a pub last night and we told them to come see the show. Great. Thanks, guy.

This guy was talking up a storm and cursing and generally acting like a guy at a frat party trying to talk to a girl or the band that just played. The staff had to clean the tent and get it set for the morning and we had to escort the guy to the guy, talking him and walking him. It was just like working back at First Avenue. He understood, though, as we explained that we had to get him out of there, otherwise he'd be yelled at, since it's been done before.

That was great. That was my first ugly American moment in this stint abroad. Drunk American. Why'd it have to be Drunk American?

Saturday, March 13, 2010

And We're Off (Of Our Game)

Yesterday at long last we opened in Nagoya. It took very little time for the Nagoya crowd to outperform the Kyoto crowds in quality of response. It's nice to be performing for crowds that give you a feeling that they will react when something clicks. That dynamic is a boon and it helps a lot when trying to get a sense of what's working and what's working better.

However, it was not without its hitches and I would say that it is the worst opening day I've ever had in my years of performing. That said, I am very unforgiving toward myself when I make mistakes and it makes it even worse when it involves dropping during a juggling routine. Then I beat myself up and feel like a complete failure because I made a mistake and then couldn't bounce back from it. And then I feel awful for feeling that way and for not being more patient with myself and just shrugging it all off. I do not have a very positive view of mistakes or failure, and I feel that any/every flaw detracts from the quality of person I am.

Well, I dropped in the first show. The second show was an even worse travesty, courtesy of me. The third show went smoothly and then I made a stupid brain-fart mistake during a gag in the third show. So as far as I was concerned, I ruined the show, perhaps the entire day. The performers were at each others' throats because the show was so bad! The elephants were eating the ponies! The zebras had the giraffe pinned down and were giving him hertz donuts! The audience fled the tent, intent on razing the city. Mr. Kinoshita actually, physically exploded on site! It was a travesty! All because I dropped during juggling!

As my friend Matt was fond of saying: "Did the show explode? Then it wasn't that bad."

So yeah, in the grand scheme of things it all wasn't that awful. It was only three gags out of how many I've done so far in my life and those that I yet will perform (hopefully)? The audience still liked me/us and still responded very positively, so at least they were forgiving. And if an audience is still with you through all of that, you must be doing something right, right?

On interpersonal fronts, I believe I'm starting to realize a couple of things and will continue to keep my eyes up, my back straight, and ears open. It's nice when patience actually pays off, especially in insight.

Friday, March 12, 2010

BACK TO WORK!

Today we returned to show mode with two rehearsals. The first rehearsal of the day is usually running through each and every one of the acts. This doesn't sound weird, except that there are a couple of blocks in the show where numerous acts rotate. As a result, things tend to be drawn out. To stretch things out a little longer, some transitions are being tweaked and a couple of new acts are being worked in, AND someone is going back into the show after having been injured.

The morning got off to a spotty start when we two clowns were told that the rehearsal had been pushed up a half hour to 9:30. When were we told? 9:35. Needless to say – and yet I say it – communication was a bit lacking.

Grand total running time of the first rehearsal with stops, starts, and do-overs:

Six hours.

I was able to run two loads of laundry, do some cleaning, and then prepare food in three separate stages and finish a magazine in that span of time. During the second run, I ate the food and cleaned the dishes. One of the food components was beef cooked with oregano and shoyu sauce. You cannot imagine how delicious it is. Simplicity and taste are directly proportional.

No.

The taste is exponential!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

American Rock Classics

The tent setup takes a few days, which means that foreign performers have all of that time off. I haven't done a show since March 1. We have rehearsals on Friday and had a PR on Sunday.

The walls of the tent are up and the sound and lights are set up and they're running sound checks.

I just heard "The Final Countdown" piping from the tent and it made me smile a lot.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Another Small Victory!

After days of walking around and searching, I finally found a grocery store! Not a convenience store, not a dry and frozen goods store, but an actual grocery store!

I have meat! I have avocados! I have tuna! I have yogurt!

It's right by a coin laundry, but I don't need one of those.

It took a lot of exploring and a lot of walking, but I did it. And as a result, I have a better sense of the area and orientation. Best of all, I did a lot of walking at my own pace, able to explore at my own whim. That counts as mental AND physical exercise, chums!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Early Greenery

I found that while I was walking around a couple of days ago (since I seem to put off writing the blog on anything resembling a daily basis) I was marveling at how many people were out and about. What's the deal? Don't kids have school?

It was Saturday. My life of being occasionally oblivious to the rhythms of the rest of the working world continues apace.

Walking along my favorite arcade I was also instantly reminded that the St. Patrick's Day parade was going to be today. As I walked up toward Osu Kannon temple, I spotted people wearing green and orange and green. Seeing this in Japan was a bit odd. Imagine my surprise when I reached the courtyard of the temple to see a big glass of Guinness playing with children and taking pics with energetic adults. One woman (American or Canadian) was teaching Irish dancing to a group of people and there was a group of Japanese playing trad music. It was a tad surreal.

It's been raining a lot so far this week, so there should be plenty of greenery in coming weeks.

I even bought a few more CDs and a really juicy gorgonzola cheeseburger. I may have to do something about this CD habit. Or I can just buy anime soundtracks for cheap and then sell them on eBay. That'd be a way to make some of the money back!

Kyoto City Report

19 December 2009 - 1 March 2010
147 shows performed

Friday, March 5, 2010

From March 4, a Day Without Internet

The Day of March 4, 2010

I wonder what the deal is with me. Is it with me or other people? One of the things my ex-girlfriend found difficult to deal with was the fact that on vacation, I didn’t really loaf. However, she preferred to sit and do nothing on a vacation, sleep in until whenever, and then maybe do something. When we were in Amsterdam and London, I was in full-on accomplishment mode. Waking at ten was wasted daylight, especially when many places closed at 4 or 5. She didn’t like it and she couldn’t hack it.

The same thing went for the last couple of days.

Kel was part sick and part foot-hurty from lugging around her backpack, so she couldn’t really stick to her normal pace. I think I must be some unheard of lanky lowland plains sherpa because I strap on a heavy pack and I slog. I trudge. I plow forward through sickness and thirst and hunger and fatigue. I think I’m a mutant. I’m definitely stubborn once I get the notion to get moving. And I find it extremely difficult to slow down.

“Foot-hurty” makes it seem like either Joss Whedon or a Joss Whedon wannabe is writing my life dialogue. I could do a lot worse than having Whedon write my dialogue.

Our lot is in an area of Nagoya I’ve passed through before. We’re in Shirakawa Park just a stone’s throw from Osu Kannon temple. Nearby is also a system of arcades that creates a constant whoosh of the sound of money being sucked from my pockets. Some days I’ll win, some days the arcade will win. I have no illusions about that.

Next to the park is the Nagoya Science Museum, so because of my most recent “normal” job – which I hope someday to be able to reclaim upon my return to the Twin Cities – and because of a dinosaur exhibit, I shall be heading over there to check it out. I’m taking bets about whether or not they have anything like our public programs department.

When walking about or exploring, my transport of choice is subway and then I prefer to bridge the rest of the distances in between with walking. I like walking and it feels good. I maintain a medium brisk pace, so I feel like I’m accomplishing at least a little bit of exercise. I like to think that if some day I find myself unable to walk, I’ll not have the regret of not having walked more.

I prefer not to take taxis. It means I spend less money, which means I have more to put to bills or to save.

Or to spend like I did today. I dropped an unexpected amount of money in a few places. I admit up front that – CDs included – it was spent on dorkitude. Mind you, some of it was presents for other people. Everything I picked up was a find that is difficult-to-nigh-impossible to get in the US for a smart price, and each and everyone of them was fulfilling a specific request. In the long run, I feel I came out ahead. In the process I found other gift items for other people, each one a surefire winner!

OH MY LORD, one of the pieces I found was something I’ve been looking for each and every trip to Japan. I always came up empty-handed. Today I stumbled into this shop in Nagoya and I found three of what I’ve been seeking. Each was a bit different than the others, so I made an executive decision based on my personal experience and years of experience in dealing with this particular person for whom the gift is intended. I think I made the killer choice. I would say what the gift is, but I’m sure this person may likely look at this blog, so I’d not want to spoil the surprise. I wish I could be there to see this person’s face. It is a treasure that fulfills and hearkens back to a childhood dream. That’s how special this find is.

As I was returning home, I saw one group of adults preparing to practice some type of martial arts activity. On the other side of the fence, there were groups of younger people engaged in some other type of martial arts activity. However, it looked like they were practicing choreography. I liked to think they were working stunt fight choreography. No matter what was going on, it was cool.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Time to Bounce

I'm bouncing back and forth between lodging right now and have internet overnight.

Left the lot yesterday after having packed my room up and scrawling on much-too-late postcards. Wound up taking the shinkansen (bullet-train) to Nagoya instead o a bus and got there in 45 minutes.

We found the hotel and then I went walking out and about for 45 minutes, checking out movie schedules, finding some new Kit Kat flavors, and taking pictures.

I ate a lot of yakitori for dinner. Delicious!

I treated myself to a cherry chu-hai as I settled into my room to find a couple of numbers and addresses.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Aftermath, Beforemath

The fourth show went well and I didn't feel like I was going to die afterward. In fact, there was an almost unreal aspect to doing it. The day ended on an up note, even with me having been tremendously dissatisfied with something during each show. Per normal operating procedure, I beat myself up about it then brooded and stewed. Actually, the self flagellation didn't last as long as it normally would have. I might be improving.

Today is the last day of shows and the beginning of load-out. We're going to be around another entire day before heading to the hotel in Nagoya for a night. Unfortunately, the internet is going some time in the middle of the day today. It's a bit premature and that means I'll have to find something else to do with my time tonight and tomorrow.

MY GOD! WHAT SHALL I DO?

I don't know – read, arrange, go to Nara (again) and see if I can be successful fitting through Buddha's Nose, make a last sweep for shoes for a couple of friends, go find the marker for the Rashomon gate, go see a movie, play Playstation. Ah! There we go: Playstation. The day is already set.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Surprise, Y'All!

In the middle of the first show today, the word went around: because of ticket sales, we would be adding a fourth show at 6:20. For me it's just weird, but we'll see how I feel at the end of the day. I do less work than I did as a Hunny Helper on Pooh, so I'm not expecting anything more than two or two-and-a-half hours fewer in which to do laundry tonight. I'll probably even finish reading another magazine!

We're putting the second of our new gags in today so we can get it in front of an audience a couple of times before Nagoya. We'll see how it goes. I don't even think that "cautious optimism" describes my approach. I think my audience expectations are at an all-time low right now. There's a certain fatalism that I'm combating and what it takes is more of a simple dumping of it on the ground and cleaning it up when I return after having done something completely unrelated. I don't usually approach things like that, so I suppose that means I'm making progress.

Today in the first show, I was witness to an unfortunate affair: the balloon was being knocked around in the audience and as it was drifting downward, an audience member smacked it. The balloon went careening right into the face and french fries of an unwitting audience member on the stairs. The audience emitted a collective groan of sympathy as the box of fries tumbled right onto the ground at the guy's feet.

That sucked.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Camera Doesn't Lie

Dennis has left. It was earlier than planned because unfortunately, there was some family business that came up and he had to go. Fortunately, we were able to do some videotaping and watching.

I have not exactly had the best personal history with videotaping. Like some people, I didn't like watching myself on videotape. I didn't like the way my body looked and I was always disturbed that how I felt like I looked and like I was moving was nothing like what I saw on the screen. I felt controlled, precise, and graceful; I looked uncoordinated, gangly, and unrefined. That was always my opinion, anyway.

I know videotaping is a valuable tool and although I'm for it, I was dreading it to some degree. I didn't feel like making the emotional effort against the usual cascade of lowered self esteem.

It didn't happen, though. I was able to focus on the thing that mattered about what I was seeing instead of thinking of how unattractive my bowlegs are or how my posture looked uncharacteristically poor.

Lord, it felt good to not have the normal b.s. reaction. Because of that, I was able to note the things that needed a tweak.

Now for working on the rest of the elements of confidence!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

No, Seriously: Why A Blog?

I often think about this blog and why I'm keeping it. Sure, I like to write, and it's a great tool for me to practice something that I consider to be a craft and one that I've enjoyed for practically all of my life. I even think I'm pretty good at it.

Then I look at other blogs – blogs friends or associates have – and I wonder: why do I bother? I'm not chock full of historic tidbits, interesting media snippets, or entertaining parody. I am not the weaver of tales, full of anecdotes and jackpots or daily misadventures.

I have people suggest to me often to write a book about my experiences and I always have the same question: why? I don't have that much exciting going on in my life to fill a book, let alone one that people who don't know me would want to read. Nobody's going to pay to read about my life so far.

Some people are genuinely interested; I get that. The life I lead is not conventional and it's a symbol to some people of truly following your dreams and making them happen. It's also a way for some to live vicariously. I am indeed extremely, insanely fortunate and blessed to have the life I have had from birth to now. A good life? Yes. Unique? Mostly. Worthy of legend for others to pore over with bated eye-breath? Not so much, in my ongoing estimation. Not when there are other, better pieces of work being put out by other people; tales with more adventure and hijinks; tales from other clowns in other circuses – some veterans, some with star-sprinkled whimsy still encrusted in their young eyes.

The truth is, my life has its own routine. Much of the time it's free of entertaining anecdotes or wacky misadventures. When I weigh it against the blogs I read, some of which are written by friends, I think "This is what people want to read. They don't want to hear that my life can be just as day-to-day as theirs. They don't want to hear about frustrations or ruminations or processes."

I've never been the anecdote guy. Even with the encouragement of friends and peers, I consider myself to be last among [not quite] equals. I've never been the prank guy. I've never been the "he's so crazy!" guy. I am not the story of the indomitable spirit that remains cheerful and unwavering in the face of life's various adversities. There are plenty of other blogs to find to read that discuss the quirky, annoying, and frustrating aspects of Japan, Japanese, and life here.

I walk to the store three or four times a week down a big hill and back up. I like it because it's a way to always have exercise even when I don't do my modest regimen on a day. I've been eating a lot more junk food because I've been losing weight. Boo-hoo: skinny boy's stuffing his face like a dumpster because he can't gain weight, let alone keep what little he has. Some of my co-workers are dicks – whose aren't? I can look outside the door and see "the neighbor's dog", which is an attention hound of a giraffe.

Okay, so that last one is really, really interesting and a never-ending source of enjoyment.

So seriously: why a blog?

I still have to figure out the picture thing with the annoying new iPhoto. Drag-and-drop functionality is overrated. I want to be able to open file folders and find the photos I want to find.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sunshine and Jellybeans

Kelly and I made a mistake today. We didn't check the show order and we went out to do one of our gags in the spot we'd normally do it on the first show of the day . . .

except the order changed. We didn't know until we saw what they were setting up and then that sinking feeling set in. It was a simple mistake that could have been remedied. It wasn't the sort of thing that destroyed the show or got anyone hurt. The audience knew no differently. At worst it inconvenienced a couple of the cranky lifers, which of course, is enough to make it a horrible disaster and a failure in our characters and immutable proof that all foreigners are idiots.

I'd like to change those guys' minds with an object to the head, but I can't. Well, I could, but I won't. It's not worth it. I'm pretty sure that there's nothing I can do shake those people out of their complacency and cynicism and blanket dislike for anyone on the show who's not Japanese. That is a very frustrating and powerless feeling. If I were an incompetent idiot with no talent or skill, I could understand their feelings, but I'm not. Whatever people did before me, whatever it is that's stuck up these guys' butts, I have nothing to do with outside my virtue of being who I am and what they assume me to be. There are times when I want to grab people by the lapel and scream "I didn't drop a bomb on your fricking parents! I'm here to do good work! Pull your head out and drop the 'tude!"

That would be honest, yet impolite. People are people and sometimes people suck.

Yesterday, something happened in the show where a cue was different. Being clowns, our reflex was to get ready to go out and cover something. There was no one to let us know what was up or if we were needed or not. Anyone that could is not "on talking terms" with Kelly and definitely not with me since I'm the new foreign meat, a clown, and even less worth their effort knowing. Oh well. We just went back in the alley, once again assured that having a backstage manager type is a good thing. For our part, we made an effort.

On the upside, there are people on the show who are not negative or cliquish. We have one performer who recently returned from maternity leave who seems to be happy enough just to be back in the show.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: cranky lifers suck. That woman is a bright spot.

I wish I could end my curiosity about the psychology involved behind people's actions. It would make things so much easier if I were content with not understanding and just believing that these things don't matter.