Monday, May 28, 2007

Nino Interview, Part I

I dragged my hubby, The Klown, with me to the Circus Flora grounds for my Nino interview. When we got there Nino immediately introduced himself to me although we'd never formally met. But he knew my name so that was cool. Things were crazy, though, one of the trailers he'd brought up was having a major leaking problem that needed to be fixed, and his sister needed to rehearse and he is part of their act. So we did get to talk, for like five minutes, then we watched them rehearse for a bit. It was after 8, we needed to get home, so I scheduled to come back on Wednesday while he was between rehearsals. We'll see what I get. It will be neat to see the rehearsals, though, as I've never gotten to experience anything like that before.

Nino apologized over and over about not really being able to spend much time with me, but I reassured him...the truth is I NEED to see everything. Even if it's just down time or waiting time or initial rehearsals or seeing how they all live. It's all stuff I can use.

And let me tell you, he shook my hand about three or four times, and it's like getting squeezed in a vice! I'm going to remember not to wear rings on my right hand. OW!

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Well, so much for THAT.

Stupid me. I left the flash drive with my novel on it on my desk at work when I left Friday. And the office is closed the entire weekend. No chance in hell to go get it so I can work on my novel.

I would use the backup copy but it's about a week old and 5,000 words less and I don't want to have two versions going at once. I even saw it there and told myself not to forget it. Honestly, I couldn't wait to get out of there, so of course I left it behind.

It's not that I don't have other things to do. I do. I just didn't want to do them. Now I have no excuse. At least I have my interview with Nino to look forward to on Monday night.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My new logo

This should be my new logo.

This ball of net was rolled up near a trailer that presumably housed the flying trapeze equipment and rigging. Since it was outside, and the trap was being set up under the tent...then the trap act was Without A Net.

Okay, I thought it was funny.

Circus Flora

I spent two hours at lunchtime today at the Circus Flora grounds. The roof of the tent was up and day laborers were putting in the floorboards of the bleachers. The Fabick tractor people were setting up the giant external air conditioners. There were miles and miles of electrical cables stacked up on a pallet, and miles and miles of coiled vent hoses flattened out like old Chinese lanterns, waiting for placement.

I got the chance to talk with the General Manager, Holly Harris. She was in and out and back and forth and around and not around for the two hours I was there. I probably got ten minutes with her all-told. But what I got from her was good, and I'm going to go back and get more from her at some point. I spent a lot of time just watching and looking around and especially looking for small details. I found spray-painted marks on the ground marking where trailers were to be put up, and who those trailers belong to.

I think this paint was from last year, because I watched Nino pull in his Airstream, and he parked it nowhere near these markings. But still, it was cool, and I walked around looking at all the trailer marks.

Inside the tent, while the day laborers worked on the bleachers, Willy Page of the Flying Pages was setting up the rigging for the flying trapeze act. Willy is the catcher, probably the most important role in trapeze work. I introduced myself to him and asked a few questions. Yes, I said something dumb, too, but it wouldn't be me if I hadn't said something dumb. There was a giant outdoor thermometer at the top of the tent, and it read somewhere around 90 degrees.

Outside it as gusty windy, about 83 degrees, with a hazy sun. I asked Willy if it was hot working up there but he said the air conditioned tent was easy to work in. He also said he liked working in the warmth, that all performers did, it kept their muscles loose and warm. I mentioned sweaty palms and he said "plenty of chalk."

I know I'd sweat to death at the top of the tent, with the lighting and all the heat rising, and the sun having beat down all day long on the dark-colored tent.

I hope to go back tomorrow and watch some more. The bleachers will probably be done tomorrow, and more rigging will go into place. Most of the performers will be arriving in the next two days so that rehearsals can start. Watching the rehearsals would be incredible, if I can get to do it. We'll see.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Circus Flora Tent going up!

Circus Flora opens in about three weeks. Today I checked with one of my contacts and found out the tent was going up TODAY. Dang it. Not a day I could just take off and go down there to watch it go up. Fooey. I did call the general manager, whose name and number I got from my contact, and she said to come on down tomorrow or the next day, that things would be progressing slowly. The tent is up but the ring needs to be built and the floor boards put in and the bleachers erected. She also agreed to an interview. whoo!

Of course, work is pretty bothersome right now, we've had problems with our emergency cell phone that is our on-call phone. The bright minds at our main office decided to change our cell phone service from one company to another, without taking time to check if the new provider had service on our campus. They don't. The only place the damned phone works is in MY office, so therefore I've been on call for 9 days straight while the main office gets our service switched back to the old provider. I've been promised the phone will arrive via overnight and I will get it tomorrow. I am hoping it comes in the morning so I can bug out for the afternoon and spend some time on the grounds with my camera watching the goings on. Might even be able to catch a rehearsal, that would be really cool.

And my long-awaited interview with Nino the Clown is happening on Monday night at 6 p.m. My stomach is already in knots. What do I wear? What questions do I ask? Ohmygosh what if I make a fool of myself? LOL

It'll all be fine, I know it. I've spoken in front of thousands of people at once, surely I can interview one little ole clown at a time. Right?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Long Weekends

We're coming up on a nice long weekend here in the U.S. Any time I look at a weekend I hope against hope that I'll be able to get some writing done. It's spring, and I'm in one of my insomniac cycles, and all I can think about at night when I might have time to write is that I want to go to bed. I can sleep in the dark, but I can't sleep in the light, which means that at 4:00 a.m. when the birds start getting restless outside and the first pale light of dawn shows over the hill outside my bedroom window, I'm awake.

Not dozy awake.

Wide awake. I try to go back to sleep, but suddenly my body is restless, aches and pains roll through my joints, and I just have to get up. But my brain is exhausted, and I can sit in front of my computer and try to write for two hours but it's mostly incoherent gibberish, or simply no words at all, I just sit and stare at my screen.

And I really do want to sit and write. But if I can't get an hour all at once, without distractions, when I'm awake and don't have other things hanging over my head, it is just hard to get anything truly worthy done. I guess I'm in a bit of a funk.

So, this is a long weekend. We have plans for Sunday, going to the RenFaire, which is always fun. But Saturday is just laundry day, and Monday I have no plans. My husband is working, so maybe I will get a few words tapped out.

Monday, May 14, 2007

More Female Characters

I've been stuck on a scene in my book lately, actually two scenes. The first is the Fiesta scene, where I have to get my female main character onto the dance floor dancing a group dance with the other women, and an earlier scene where she accompanies some of the circus people to a bar on payday.

I realized that as I was writing the Fiesta scene, I had no women friends attached to my FMC who could drag her onto the dance floor at the appropriate time. All of the connections she's made at this point, about a week into her Circus journey, have been men. The majority of women on circuses are in performance art; my FMC is not a performer and therefore wouldn't be interacting too directly with most of the performers, especially at this early stage of the story.

So I created a female character to fill this role, and my FMC meets her at the bar night. I am so happy with the dynamic I've set up between the FMC, the wardrobe guy, and the public relations guy, that inserting this fourth character still feels odd. Square peg in round hole. I'm sure I'll grow to like it later.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Writing Frenzy

I am getting a considerable amount of writing done these last few days. I could have done more, it's been really slow at work, but I have a hard time writing anything consistently at work. Too many distractions between the phone ringing and email coming in and the students chattering away. It probably didn't help that it is finals week, as well, which means the overall energy on campus is testy.

I had a day off today but I'm just now sitting down to write, and it's going on 3 p.m.! I've gotten distracted going shopping, then making capuccino, then eating some lunch, then doing a load of wash... I can find all kinds of reasons not to write.

But now I can't put it off any more. Time to get down to busness.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Good Writing Time

My weekend went way too fast with me not really finishing everything I wanted to finish. But on the plus side, I did get to put in some great hours writing. I got a couple good hours at a Breadco on Sunday while my kid was doing some LARP stuff. And last night I got a good couple hours in after supper when the house was relatively quiet.

I have just found out that I will be at work tonight until 10, and that means I will have time to write tonight, too. Of course, it means I get nothing done at home tonight, and that part bugs me. But, what can you do. Work is work, right?

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Animal Trainer Interview

I had the pleasure of interviewing another animal trainer this morning. Linda Roberson is currently working at Kay Rosair's animal preserve near Sarasota, Florida. She came to animal training late in her life, at age 40. She worked with animals in various circuses and expositions over the last 15 or so years. Linda is an animal activist of the positive kind; she believes strongly that if the United States, the richest country in the world, doesn't work hard to breed and replenish the elephant population, that our grandchildren may not ever even see a real elephant.

I think there is some value in what she says. Currently, the U.S. allows no importing of elephants for any purpose, and the gene pool of elephants being bred in the U.S. is quite limited at this point. We can continue to breed the ones we have, but that gene pool is going to become tainted at some point with so few to share around.

In addition to talking about animals, Linda was also forthcoming with other information. She strongly recommended my interviewing Alberto Zoppe, who is living currently in Arkansas. I know Alberto was inducted into the International Ring of Fame just this last month in Sarasota, Florida.

Linda spends time working as a paralegal when she isn't working with animals. It was her profession before she started working with elephants. She offered to hook me up with a lawyer she has worked for that works with writers and might be able to get me a publisher when my book is done. That is a very promising lead!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Exotic Animals

Over the last few months, I've been made aware of several instances across the country where a city, town, county, or even a state has tried to ban exotic animals. In some cases they are banning the owning of exotic animals. In others, they are banning the performance of/by exotic animals. Almost all of these actions focus on elephants, although some are broad enough to cover other exotic animals like cats and primates.

Many times, local SPCA or PETA groups are behind this action. Currently there is state legislative action in Connecticut (the home to many a circus winter quarters) and California, as well as Kaufman County, Texas, and Prince George City in British Columbia, Canada. There are, I'm sure, many others, but these are the biggies on radar at the moment.

I am so saddened by these actions on the part of our governments. I have met elephants, and there is no smarter, kinder, or gentler creature on the planet than them. A well-cared-for elephant in captivity lives generally twice as long as his or her wild counterpart, in a safe environment where there are no predators and there is good veterinary care and excellent food. In circuses, elephants (and other exotic animals) are fed better than the human performers. They receive regular medical care, have comfortable living quarters, and their trainers are like mother hens to them. Anyone who's been truly close to circus has seen this. I know I have, and I cannot imagine any trainer abusing an animal that has the strength to strike him or her dead in a heartbeat. It makes no sense at all for a trainer to abuse an animal; that animal is their livelihood.

I have to wonder about these groups who want to ban the exotic animals. It is as if they don't see the other animals in the circus, who are performing and who are kept in captivity and cages. What about all those horses? The Percherons and Belgian Mares and Shetland Ponies? What about the llamas and camels? And let's not forget the trained performing dogs, cats, and birds, too. There are a lot of animals performing in circus, not just elephants. Why are we not concerned with them?

If you're going to try to keep animals off the circus, then you'd better spend time getting all of them banned. It isn't fair to the elephants if we don't make the doggies go too.

I just wish a bit of reason would enter into these people's heads when it comes to how animals are treated in circuses. In truth, the animals are usually treated better than the humans!!