Friday, December 5, 2014

Tuesday, December 2 & Wednesday, December 3: Queens, NY


12/2/14- Day Off!

This morning Jessi and I took my truck to a Trader Joe's in Queens so we could get groceries for the week. (Sorry, Jeff Schott)
What should have been an easy drive was extremely stressful because my GPS kept trying to take me on the Garden State Parkway, which has overpasses too low for the shell on my truck.

Today was cold and wet; it wasn't very pleasant weather for a day off, but Jessi and I still made the most of it.

We caught a 2:00 p.m. performance of the Radio City Music Hall Christmas Spectacular. I have never been to see the Rockettes in all the times I have visited NYC around the holidays, so I was very excited.
Radio City Music Hall was so beautiful, and I loved the show. The orchestra sounded fantastic, and the Rockettes' routines were amazing.
In particular I enjoyed their famous rendition of "March of the Wooden Soldiers".

After the show we took a train to the West Village to eat at John's, a pizzeria owned by the father of former Ringling clown twin brothers, Danny and David Frank.

Next I took Jessi to Union Square so she could geek out and buy comics at Forbidden Planet, and then we got hot chocolate at Max Brenner's to warm us up as we walked around the holiday market in the square.

We found another holiday market at Bryant Park, where we were just in time for the lighting of the Christmas tree there.
Jessi was excited because as we arrived, one of her favorite singers, Ingrid Michaelson, was on stage performing.

Before leaving Bryant Park we stopped in to play with the folks that gather in one area of the park six days a week to learn and practice juggling.


At 8:00 p.m. we saw the rock musical, "Hedwig And The Angry Inch". I went into the show completely ignorant about what I was going to be seeing, other than the fact that Michael C. Hall, who I loved in the TV series "Dexter" and "Six Feet Under", was in the starring role.
I enjoyed the show, but I think I would have liked it more if I wasn't so exhausted. I really wore myself out today, but luckily there were many loud rock numbers to jolt me awake whenever I was feeling drowsy.

Back at the lot I gave Jessi a surprise present that I have been dying to write about since the day I obtained it.

Jessi is a huge Carol Burnett fan; in fact, she is her main comedic influence.
I knew that Miss Burnett was on Broadway in the show, "Love Letters", so I told Jessi that when she was here, she should go see the show and try and meet her hero afterwards.
Only after a little research did I discover that it was Carol's last week in the show, so I devised a plan.

I went to the Strand bookstore and purchased Carol Burnett's newest book, "This Time Together", and on a cold, rainy Saturday (one of my three chances to catch her at the show) I went to Times Square about two hours before the matinee performance of "Love Letters' to stand outside the stage door and wait for Miss Burnett's arrival.

After only a few minutes of waiting, a very nice young man came out of the door and saw me waiting with my book.
He told me, "She'll be at that door over there", pointing to the other end of the theatre.
I thanked him and asked if he meant before or after the show.
Conspiratorially he leaned closer to me and said, "Before. I'll make sure she signs your book for you."

I thanked him profusely and moved to my new location. After a few more minutes of waiting he came out of the other door and told me to find somewhere warm to wait, because she was still about an hour away from her arrival.
I ducked into a coffee shop to stay dry, and after an hour I headed back to the theatre where there were now two ladies waiting at the door in addition to me.

A few minutes went by before the young man came out and collected everything that we wanted signed, and shortly after that a black vehicle pulled up to the curb, and Carol Burnett stepped out!
She waved to her assembled fans before the young man escorted her into the theater where she autographed our memorabilia.


And that's how I got Jessi an autographed Carol Burnett book!


12/3/14- 7:30 p.m.

This morning Jessi and I went to Astoria to meet our friend, Mark Gindick, for breakfast. We were originally just going to drop off some videos that he had lent me, but we were going to be eating in the area anyway, so we invited him to join us.

After a great visit, Jessi and I visited the Museum of the Moving Image, which covered in depth all facets of making a movie.

Naturally my favorite sections dealt with make up, costumes, and props!

 Ape masks for "2001: A Space Odyssey"
 Chewbacca! What a wookie!
 Prosthetic for John Hurt in "The Elephant Man"
 Maquettes for "The Wiz"
Animatronic Linda Blair for the famous head turning scene in "The Exorcist"

The real reason I wanted to visit the museum was to see the exhibit on the brilliant animator, Chuck Jones, who directed many of the most famous Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck cartoons, and who created such famous characters as the Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote.

The exhibit was on loan from the Smithsonian, and it was amazing. I loved reading Chuck's thoughts on writing and directing cartoons, as well as creating cartoon comedy.
It was amazing how many correlations could be made between his advice on animation and writing and performing clown gags.

One of my favorite quotes of his was on timing: "The difference between a laugh and no laugh is often only one frame."

Back at the lot Jessi and I played the addictive and mind bending card game, "Fluxx". I haven't played the game since I was on Ringling, and I had forgotten how much fun it can be.....as well as how frustrating the rules can make it!
Jessi ordered two speciality versions of the game: "Star Fluxx" and "Monty Python Fluxx", so there was plenty of silly fun to be had.

Early into our show tonight I went back to my trailer to give Jessi my phone to film our gags. Teo will not be on the West Coast unit of Vazquez with us next year, so Ryan and I wanted to get current footage of our gags so Luis, our new sound guy, will be able to learn sound effect cues over the winter.

I talked Jessi through what we needed filmed, and I deleted some old videos on my phone to make storage space before starting to walk Jessi to the front of the tent.
As we were approaching backstage I got a sinking feeling in my gut as I realized I couldn't tell what act was on.
I opened the door to backstage and stuck my head in; quickly I realized that the music to the beginning of the water gag was on!

I jumped into the tent and burst through the curtain separating backstage from the area under the seats. I quickly ran up the stairs and into the crowd, but I was a good fifteen seconds late for making my entrance.
Thank God I had put on my water costume before I went to my trailer; however, I still had my black tennis shoes on, and not my black and white dress shoes.

The whole act was a blur to me as I was burning with shame and disappointment in myself. The only other time I've been late to a gag was on Ringling ten years ago.
As soon as I got backstage I texted our production manager to apologize profusely and take full blame for my mistake. Luckily Eddie was understanding and forgiving. Much more forgiving than I was on myself.

I sat backstage for most of the first half in complete and utter disgust of myself until Ryan told me to lighten up and not be so hard on myself since everyone makes mistakes.

Later on I found out that the motorcycle act had been cut short because Zheni was not feeling well, which explains why I lost track of the time so easily.
Still, it is no excuse for what I let happen. I will learn from my mistake, and hopefully never be late again.....for another ten years.

After the show Ryan and I ran our song and dance number all the way through with all elements. We practiced several times before calling it a night.
I had hoped to spend the evening relaxing with Jessi and playing more games of Fluxx, but we didn't finish our rehearsal until after 11:00 p.m.

We played two short games of Fluxx, but I was worn out from practicing our strenuous new act, and I was also drained from the excitement and self loathing I experienced during the show.

Luckily tomorrow is a new day!

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