Sunday, January 27, 2008

More Weird Mail

Apparently another Linda Robertson fan wrote me today. I wonder how they are finding my blog, because I can't even find it on the search engines doing normal keyword searches. Hmmm. Take time to read the woman's signature, and also her closing quote, which I find quite amusing.

FROM: Jan - ""
SUBJ: Illiteracy big problem with circus folk

What do you mean, the email wasn't signed? It says right there, "FROM: Priscilla Gargalis". While you wish Linda RoberTson a recovery, let me trust karma to give her what she gives the animals: abuse and suffering. "Animal advocate", my natural-born white liberal ass.

Jan McClellan
Arizona Society for the Abolition of Violent & Exploitive Spectacles
"In remembrance of Jerry Falwell, may his promotion of bigotry, intolerance, and hate die along with his fat, unhealthy body."

Hmmm. And here just this past week I was thinking about writing an article about "Karmic Footprints" for
a local publication. And yes, of course I wrote her back:

Jan -
SUBJ: Illiteracy big problem with circus folk

Well, see there, you signed yours. "Jan McClellan." Ms. Gargalis, if
that is her real name (or maybe it's a he, hard to say) doesn't know how
to write proper correspondence. All correspondence should be signed. A
return email address in the "from" line does not constitute a
signature. Yes, this is probably a matter of semantics but I find that
people who don't sign their emails are being haphazardous with their
words and their intentions. You would never write a letter without
signing your name, and email is a form of correspondence, it deserves a

I've got to did you find my blog in the first place? I'm
curious about that since it has never been advertised and I'm not linked
anywhere that I know of. The numbers of views to the blog have been
rather limited in the year or so I've had it up.

-Susabelle Kelmer

Friday, January 25, 2008

Weird Mail

Today in my inbox for this blog I received the following email:

FROM: Priscilla Gargalis ""
SUBJ: Linda Roberson [sic]

You've got to be kidding!!! You're calling Linda Roberson and animal advocate????
She's nothing more than an animal abuser....just like the rest of the circus freaks!

I love unsigned emails. And emails with misspellings, like misspelling the name of the person she was writing about (it's ROBERTSON, you "freak", with a T). I did write her back:

TO: Priscilla Gargalis ""
SUBJ: Linda Roberson

I don't know who you are. Perhaps you'd like to enlighten me.

-Susabelle Kelmer

At least I know how to sign my name to emails. I wonder if I'll hear back from her.

Spangles, Elephants, Violets, and Me

I've just started reading Victoria Cristiani Rossi's memoir, Spangles, Elephants, Violets, and Me. I've gotten through the acknowledgments, forward, and prologue. This is going to be an interesting book, if I can keep up with how she bops from time to time in her life.

She alludes to the dark side of circus life, and the particular scandals the Cristiani family were accused of over the years. She also alludes to a bitter fight that estranged her from most of the family for many years. All of these things make me very curious. It will be interesting to see how she covers things from her inside point of view, having been raised inside Circus. It might give me a bit more specific information on building the circus of my novel.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Linda Robertson

I received word through Circus Vern that Linda Robertson, probably best known as an elephant trainer/handler and circus and circus animal rights advocate, has had a severe stroke or aneurysm and is in a coma. Her chances for recovery are unknown at this time.

I might not have noticed or even read the notice from Vern, except that I interviewed Linda Robertson last year for my novel. In addition to working with the Rosaire Foundation in Sarasota, where she lives, she also has traveled extensively and keeps an eye on the underground animal freedom movements. She probably knows more about the inner workings of PETA than anyone else on the planet.

In between circus work, she kept herself solvent working as a paralegal. She had offered to give my name to a publication lawyer when I was ready, to help me get Without a Net into publication. She was a resource I was keeping in touch with. So it is sad to know she is so ill.

My prayers are with her for her recovery.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I may have found my direction

As those who have read this blog, even infrequently, have noted, Without a Net is lacking somewhat in direction. I really have had no major "thread" to hold the story together. I have plenty of elements, plenty of activities to take up time and talk about circus, but no one good thread to pull them all together.

I finally think I landed on that thread the other day. My main female character need a passion to follow. She needed more than learning about the circus to make her story interesting enough to read. I find that I may have been focusing on the wrong primary characters for my story. My female lead is fine, but the male lead is weak, and always has been. I won't be replacing him, but he will become more of a sub-character to the more dynamic and strong character I will allow to take the focus.

Of course, this means much of the early novel needs to change to catch up, but that's okay. I now know what I want to do with the story, and that will make it all that much easier to write.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

I want to be in this kind of shape

This guy was filmed performing at age 97. He died late in 2007 and the ripe old age of 98. He had never stopped performing. Wow.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Circus Chimera Won't Tour 2008

Yes, I know, long time no post. I managed to survive NaNoWriMo and my writing blog then the holiday season. Quite literally, it has been two months since I've even thought about Without A Net. It is time to get back to it. As any other writer will tell you, there are plenty of ideas in my head, and plenty of new projects I could start, but I really need to finish this one before I get any further away from it.

So, to get back into the swing, I'm catching up on my Circus Vern emails. Vern emails out all kinds of interesting tidbits about circus and performers and tours. Every email is chock-full of info that I can use both in my novel and in my blog. Since I am also about two months behind on reading Circus Vern, as well, it is taking me a while to catch up. But one particular entry caught my attention, and I read it, even though it was out of the order of what I was reading.

Circus Chimera, based in Hugo, Oklahoma, will not be touring this year. The reason is not gas prices, insurance rates, or lack of sponsors. The reason is that Chimera can no longer legally hire Mexican workmen to travel with the circus. A change in the H2B visa application process and number caps has virtually assured that Chimera, and virtually no other circus, can hire temporary Mexican workers on legal visas. These workers are the ones that set up the tents, feed and care the animals, run the concessions trailers, drive the trucks, and do all manner of physical labor. They are paid a reasonable sum, about $550 a week, for this work. They definitely work hard, and get little sleep at night. They are certainly worth more than they are being paid, but the pay is not terrible, either. Many of these Mexican workers spend 8 months or more of the year traveling with a circus like Chimera, and return to Mexico and their families for the remainder of the year. If they can get work in Mexico, it pays very poorly and is intermittent. Circus work gives them a reasonable income. Chimera hires up to 50 of these types of legal workers every season.

What I find a bit strange is that American men and women don't want to make $550 a week and travel the country for 8 or more months. Yes, the work is hard, but many local laborers don't make $550 a week, and on the circus, your meals and lodging are provided! If you have your own method of travel such as an RV, then you usually also receive mileage payments from the circus for your travel. It's not a bad wage for an honest day's work.

It saddens me that circuses will be some of the "collateral damage" from the immigration crackdown. What is even more sad is that these were legal workers, brought it to work a limited amount of time, at a specific job, under a sponsored employer, and then returned to Mexico when they were done. Many circuses may have no choice but to start employing illegal labor in order to stay in operation, or simply give up and close down entirely. This will potentially put thousands of people out of work, and remove a staple of summer entertainment from our communities.

That is probably the saddest thought of all.