taz_39: (footprint)







We drove to Auburn Hills. On the way we went through Detroit. Both of us were prepared for graffiti, damaged roadways, burnt out cars and condemned houses, because this is what we'd seen two years ago when driving through. Instead we were pleasantly surprised...things aren't perfect, but there is obvious change. Keep it up Detroit, it ain't over until the fat lady sings.

To kill time after reaching Auburn Hills we walked around a mall. Jameson found a new backpack for the laptop he'll be getting soon. And I unexpectedly found a new laptop when we visited the Microsoft store! I have this weird history of owning Dell Inspiron laptops. At this point I've had four of them, each of which has lasted a minimum of five years (and even then they're still fully functional, just outdated). My poor Inspiron N5110 had its battery fried last year, and ever since I upgraded it to Windows 10 it's been a little laggy, having not been designed for that OS. Long story short, it's six years old and the time has come to replace it. The new one is an Inspiron 15, a combo of software/hardware sold exclusively by Microsoft (one great thing about this is no bloatware). Got it at a great price and so far I'm enjoying it!

Tuesday was a dark day. Didn't really do much...Jameson went to a movie while I stayed at home to set up the new computer and do chores. That night everyone was watching democracy at work. I think I went to bed around 2am when it became clear Trump would win.

Wednesday also a dark day, I borrowed Jameson's car to return the nice backpack I'd bought last week in Pittsburgh, turns out it was too small for the new laptop. Go figure!

Thursday was opening day. Not much was said about the election results...this is the circus, probably 2/3rds of the employees here can't vote. I just looked around, looked at my coworkers of all different colors and religions and nationalities, and at the circus kids who can't even speak the same language playing together without a care, and I did take a moment to appreciate the unbounded diversity here. What matters here is not where you're from, or what color you are. It matters that you do your work well, and stay true to yourself, and take pride in both your work and yourself. To be honest I wish everyone could experience this. I'm not sure what it will mean to have Mr. Trump as president...all I can say is, I hope the fears circulating across the web right now are unfounded.

Anyway, opening day came and went. We had a long rehearsal to work in some new changes for next year. Our new ringmaster sang part of the rehearsal with us, she sounded great! Can't wait to hear her in the show :)

Friday we had the first split we've had in a while. I was super tired so went to the train for a nap during the break. While waiting for the bus to leave the arena I happened to catch the camels headed inside for a midday rehearsal (just an FYI, if they weren't rehearsing they'd need to be exercised anyway, this is not extra camel labor :P)



Both shows were good. We got to play the National Anthem for Veteran's Day.

Saturday, three shows. I brought a lot of things to the arena to sell, mostly clothing and books, just trying to clear up some space in my room. End-of-tour cleanup, so to speak. Others had the same idea, Victor (tiger crew) was able to sell quite a few things and Lindsey (clown) sold some her artworks. It feels like the end of the tour, like we should be having our final show countdown, like we should be preparing for Winter Quarters. Just looking at the Palace of Auburn Hills brings back memories of "see you down the road" hugs and dressing room toasts. But this year is different. We will continue into the new year with the same show. It's strange. But things change, and hopefully this is a positive change.


(photo courtesy Detroit Free Press)

Sunday was a two show day. I wish I had exciting, fun things to share with you this week, but it was just a slow week. The arena is isolated next to a highway, and we had a full week of shows, and there just wasn't much happening. Next week is going to be downright weird: we have a solid THREE dark days in a row, followed by a SIX PACK in Youngstown OH, followed by a two week break for Thanksgiving. My goodness!


Other stuff:

Medusa the snake getting some hang time on an aerial orb.


(photo courtesy Jon M.)

Horse and camel trainer Robert Štipka working with Colonel during preshow.


Checking out the slomo setting during the cannon shot (one of few times I'm not playing).
taz_39: (footprint)







Our last two days in Chitown went quickly. On Monday after our workout we went to Glenn's Diner. This place is known for its seafood, and also for having a seasonal selection of cereal, of all things! Pretty neat place. Mrs. Boyce and I both got this amazing seafood salad, full of lobster and smoked trout and shrimp. I couldn't even finish mine and had to ask the boys to help polish it off!

From there we went to the Lincoln Park Zoo. It's a small one but very good! They have several big cats, primates, reptiles, farm animals, and more. Plus the weather was fantastic, sunny but with a chill in the air, fall is definitely here!




Jameson and I feeding some cows :)


That evening after a wonderful dinner made by Mrs. Boyce, Mr. Boyce invited me along to his choir rehearsal! He sings with the Apollo Chorus of Chicago, an amazing group that's been performing since 1872!! They were rehearsing for a concert and also a wedding, at a local community arts building. I picked out a seat in the back and settled in to listen. To my surprise, the first song they rehearsed was Eric Whitacre's "Alleluia"! This piece is very familiar to me, I played it in college wind ensemble with my graduating class, but that arrangement is known as "October". But it's the same piece, and a very nostalgic and wonderful memory for me. I was very happy to hear it again.


The rehearsal went for about three hours with some breaks in-between. I got to hear a reduced section of the chorus (including Mr. Boyce) rehearsing for the wedding...I took footage of this but as the wedding was that week, decided against posting it. They sounded great :) I love sitting in on rehearsals and seeing the process of refining music. It's a lot of work for everyone involved, but the results are absolutely worth it!

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)







Jameson and I stayed a night at a hotel in Youngstown, and after brunch drove another four hours to Auburn Hills. As it turns out, the hotel Jameson booked is also the company hotel this week! (i.e. advance and overland employees stay here and anyone from Ringling gets a discount at this hotel)

We found dinner at a nearby mall, and Jameson got himself some treats. His birthday is on Friday :)



We then hit the hotel (the train wasn't in yet) and enjoyed some QT. We watched most of Fully Charged and had a nostalgic moment hearing the music again and seeing the acts. And now we're in that same place with Built to Amaze. Wow....

This week went both quickly and slowly. I was excited for the end of the tour and so took care of packing and whatnot during the one-show days, before we even hit the weekend. Got my hair trimmed, got the last of my groceries, made sure I'd have a hotel near the airport, packed a bag. Not having internet sure made me productive this week :P

On Friday those performers and crew who will not be joining us in 2015 were moved to a hotel near the arena.
The train was strangely silent and lonely. Or maybe the weather just made it seem that way.



Andrew (our trumpet player) will be leaving as well. It was great to meet him and play alongside him.
He gave me one of his potted plants.



Next year we will have someone new. It's been interesting and fun meeting so many trumpet players this past year and a half while Slick was out getting treatment. We have had SIXTEEN trumpet subs. That's almost one every month! But to be honest, It'll be great if we can get someone who is able to stay on long-term. That's asking a lot on this gig. We'll see!

Read more... )
taz_39: (Default)







The train run was standard :) It was a bit rainy and dreary on Monday so I mostly stayed inside, cooking and watching Game of Thrones. Finally finished the last Harry Potter movie and was completely fascinated with Snape's story, and disappointed that it only got five minutes of attention. Maybe the books are different but guess I'll never know :P

Tuesday was a little sunnier. I went outside to get some fresh air and ran into the camera crew. They say they're getting decent footage, "slowly but surely". Awesome :)
I got some pretty nice photos that day too.





On this train run, I'm reminded of how the best moments can't be shared with photos. My camera is not quick enough to capture the fox I saw dashing across a field this morning in pursuit of some small rodent. The train moves too fast for me to catch all the beautiful wildflowers we see along the tracks...Queen Anne's Lace, cornflowers, thistles, touch-me-nots. Peering through the trees I sometimes see deer picking their way through the foliage. The sun shines on leaves, and on the water, in a way that can't be captured in a photograph. What I'm saying is, I feel fortunate to enjoy this :)

We arrived pretty much on time. After finishing some chores, I took a bus to the arena and from there walked to a bunch of antique shops that I'd visited last time. On the way I noticed some street art, as well as an early contender for ArtPrize 2014 (scheduled for next week, darn).




Read more... )
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This post comes a little late, as I had no internet in either the yard or at the arena this city.

We arrived in Auburn Hills EARLY...can you believe it??
On Tuesday I walked to the nearest grocery (a Meijer about 2 miles away) and picked up a few things for the week, and a few things that will come in handy for winter quarters.
It was a little difficult to guess how much food I'd need for the week, since I'm trying not to leave anything in the fridge while I'm gone. Anyway I think I did ok.

On Wednesday we had our last Fully Charged rehearsal, and the people who are leaving the circus prepared to move into hotels for the week. There are so many people leaving...the Chinese acrobats, the Big Bike acrobats, at least four clowns, half of the Brazilian dancers, the four performers mentioned in my last post, and more. The porters will be super busy cleaning rooms on the train run down to Florida; I hear they're offering $50 per room to anyone willing to help clean.
I wonder if there will be any left for me to clean by December!

On Thursday we only had one nighttime show. There's little to do around the venue or the yard.
I ran some errands with Brett (bandmaster), then went for a walk on the 'closed' side of the train.



When the train crew only opens one set of vestibule doors, it usually means
a) there's a live track on one side of us, or
b) they are opening the doors only on the side where cars park and the bus comes through.
I hadn't heard any trains go by during the day or night, so I crossed to the other side and went exploring.

After a short walk, I found a path!
Couldn't resist! Had to follow it!

The path was made up of large white rocks that were really difficult to walk over. Eventually it merged with a smaller path that was very obviously a walking/bike trail as there were lots of footprints and tracks on it. This path took me to a major road, which I crossed, finding a community park on the other side. I walked through the park and was surprised to find a group of castle-like buildings in the classic German architectural style.



This was Canterbury Village. I'd been seeing signs for it on the highway near our yard.
Canterbury Village is a 'Christmas Town'. Since it's not Christmas yet, the place was pretty abandoned-looking. A stereo system blasted Christmas tunes that echoed down empty streets. Automaton elves and snowmen that would no doubt be moving later in the year stared, motionless and glassy, from storefront windows. Creepy much?




Despite the impression of emptiness, almost all the shops were open.
I hadn't brought much cash with me as I hadn't been expecting to shop,
but I did have a few dollars and one stand had hot cider.
I bought a cup and enjoyed it very much, along with an Ice Cube (have you ever had these? They're amazing!)
I wandered around a bit more, but the sun was going down so didn't linger for too long.
It was a nice walk.

Friday was a 'split' day...that's an early show and a late show...so during the break I did some laundry and packed some stuff to take home.

Saturday was nothing special...just your typical 3-show day.
Because we were all looking forward to Sunday, the day might have seemed longer than usual.
People are putting programs, t-shirts, flags, and other items in the hallway to be signed.
I signed a few things but not everything (I'm only in the band after all!).
Everywhere you look there are cameras. Once during High Wire I saw something move in my peripheral vision, and turned to see someone snapping from between the band curtains.
It's the end of the tour all right!

After returning to the train after the shows,
I took my fish to Cindy (teacher) who is fishsitting for me while I'm away.
We chatted for a bit, then I returned to my room, repacked for the umpteenth time, and slept.

I'm typing this now from a hotel near the Detroit airport.
We had our last two shows today. It was bittersweet and exciting. As you'd expect with any closing production, there were a few shenanigans, the most notable being one of the acrobats basically cosplaying as another acrobat, and even participating in the guy's act. That was pretty funny. Otherwise the last show was pretty straightforward. At intermission we had a little 'mimosa' toast in the band's dressing room with some of the people who are leaving the circus:



After the show, Brian Crawford Scott (ringmaster) announced that this was the last performance of Fully Charged, recognized the staff, crew, and supporting members (thanks for the band shout-out, Brian!), and gave our stats:

783 shows.
90 cities.
2 countries.
4 MILLION PEOPLE.

That's right, we performed in front of a total of four million people this year. That's incredible!!!!!
I feel so fortunate to be a part of this.
The circus is awesome!!!

I have more to post about, but have to get to sleep. Early flight tomorrow.
These last few days have flown by. I can't wait to get started on next year's production!!
taz_39: (elephant)







We had a nice one-day train run out here. The weather was fall-like and rainy.
That didn't keep me from going out on the vestibule and taking one or two quick pics!

(cool swamp. stupid power lines.)



During this run I also watched All About Eve (courtesy Tom, thanks Tom!). What a great movie! Great acting!
We got in around 6pm, but I chose to stay in so I could get up early and explore the next day.

I found a trio of antique malls about a mile from the train and spent probably two hours looking at all the stuff I can't have. These malls had less WWI-II stuff and fewer dead animals than the southwest malls I've been to ;D The first one had the most 'bric-a-brac'; dish- and glassware from England mostly, and lots of 'country' themed items such as quilts, jugs, mason jars, cross-stitched things, farming equipment and signs, etc. The second shop was pretty empty by comparisson, but they had a flugelhorn near the door for $80. I took a picture and sent it to Brett (bandmaster) who drove over and scooped it up sometime after I'd left.
The third building had lots of stuff too, but I didn't stay too long because I'd already blown most of the afternoon in the first shop haha.


By this time I was starving, so wandered downtown to a Mediterranean place called Parsley (once again gravitating toward stuff that reminds me of Winston-Salem). Had an awesome beef kofta wrap. Those pickled turnips are the best! This was also my first experience with Turkish coffee. Wooooo! Had a coffee buzz for the next 6 hours.

Good thing too, because there was a lot to see.

At first glance, Grand Rapids seemed to be a pretty normal city.
I saw a bunch of people taking pictures of some glass flowers outside an office building.
Figured it must be part of their landscaping, or something.
Turned the corner, and found this under my feet:



I heard someone say, "OHMYGOD!!" and looked up to see THIS:


(That's a dummy, fyi. PHEW.)

My phone beeped. I had a text from Jerome (bass).

"There is a big arts festival thing with free exhibits and such going on all over downtown for the next couple of weeks. Just a heads up."

It's ArtPrize 2012!!!!


Apparently, modest little Grand Rapids hosts the WORLD'S LARGEST ART CONTEST.
Anyone over the age of 18 may participate.
The prize is $200,000, awarded by PUBLIC VOTE.

The venues are restaurants, businesses, public parks...pretty much the whole city.
Meaning that there was art EVERYWHERE. Hanging off buildings, in the middle of the street, and definitely on ALL the walls :D
Looking at the website, there are currently 1,517 entries(!!!)
I only got to see a fraction of it, but what I saw was completely amazing.

Read more. TONS of photos. )

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