Archive for November, 2006

BUSY, BUSY DAYS!

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

We have been working – almost non-stop – to get the freight ready to go for our Asia tour. The TSA changes the regulations almost every hour and that affects what we are doing. We finished the Carnet Manifest only to find out that it was incorrect (due to regulation changes) and we had to do it all again. As David was putting it all on his computer, his computer CRASHED and we lost it! He had to do it all again but now it’s done. And the best news of all – the freight company said it’s “perfect.”

Freight was initially scheduled to be picked up on December 11; then it was changed to December 8 so they would have enough time to “examine” it before putting it on the flight to Hong Kong. Today, the date was moved again to December 1 – that’s this Friday!

Tomorrow – Thursday – we’ll be at the warehouse all day doing the final inventories, removing items that the TSA says we can no longer ship, and getting it all ready for a Friday morning pick up. The good thing is WE’LL BE DONE! We’ll be able to relax for a few days before hopping on the plan for the 20 hour flight to Hong Kong.

We are really looking forward to this tour. It’s going to be fun and the shows in Hong Kong (all four of them) are almost completely sold out at this point. There are only a few tickets remaining. Tickets in Taipei just went on sale and we are move than half sold out for the three performances there. I’m including the poster that they are using for their marketing – beautiful!

Okay – bed time!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING

Saturday, November 25th, 2006

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day. We spent it with some of our best friends. They were kind enough to invite us over to their house to celebrate and eat with them. It was excellent!

We braved “Black Friday” yesterday and went out to some of the stores here in town. Best Buy was nuts so I didn’t even try to get in there until the afternoon. The Fire Marshall showed up and started limiting how many people could go into the store – it was packed! Kohl’s was the same way – lines from the registers to the back of the store and that was at 1pm! Cindy and I just walked around several places and enjoyed looking and spending time together. It was fun.

The weather has been amazing these last few days – temperatures in the mid 60′s, people walking around in shorts and t-shirts. I’m sure winter will come soon enough but this is great.

There is so much to be thankful for in my life – my incredible wife and family; friends who understand what it means to be a “friend”; a great job with lots of opportunity; and an awesome God who, in spite of my failures in life, loves me beyond my wildest expectations.

BRAKE PADS AND DRUMS

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

Cindy and I made the drive back to Shady Springs, WV to pick up the truck. We left on Monday afternoon and arrived around 6pm. Along the way, the mechanic (Glen) who towed our rig back to the top of Sandstone Mountain (see last two posts), called to say that the rear brakes were really bad. In 27 years as a mechanic, he had never seen anything like this before. He commented to me, “I don’t know how you stopped this truck on that mountain. When I looked at your brakes, I got chills. You had no brakes left at all.”

Turns out there was nothing left on the brake pads and when I stomped on the brake pedal, I dug the metal shoes into the metal drums leaving deep grooves in the drums. Truly, it is a miracle that we were able to stop without being killed.

We picked up the truck/trailer around 11:30am on Tuesday and made the trip back to Virginia. It’s amazing how easy it is to go down steep grades when you actually have brakes! Wow, I was amazed! We made it home safely and it’s good to be here.

LYNCHBURG, VA

Monday, November 20th, 2006

We finally made it home to Lynchburg. We rented a car yesterday from the Airport around Beckley, WV and drove the 3 hours home. It was nice to be in our bed! Today, we’ve got a lot to do including moving our equipment into a new storage place. If the truck is done this afternoon, we’ll make the 3 hour drive back to Beckley and pick it up…and then come back again.

I’m ready to be home for Thanksgiving.

THE JOURNEY HOME

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Well, just when I thought the truck drama was over, it’s not! We were making great time heading home for Thanksgiving after an amazing performance last night at the Renaissance Theatre. We were moving along, stopped for some Starbucks at Tamarak (big travel plaza on the West Virginia Turnpike) in Beckley, WV, topped off the diesel fuel so we could cruise on home without any problems. Then we started down Sandstone Mountain – also referred to in this part of the country as “Seven Miles to Hell.” It’s a 7% grade for about 7 miles with very few turns. Turns can be good on long descent grades because they help slow you down. When you have these long, straight grades, it’s very difficult to keep your RPMs down, even in a lower gear. That means you have to use your brakes but you want to use them carefully.

We were 5.5 miles down the descent when I sensed that the brakes weren’t holding/slowing all that well. I was trying to maintain a 35 mph speed but, just before the “runaway truck ramp,” I realized that we were in serious trouble and the truck was not slowing down! I pushed on the brake pedal but nothing happened. I put all my weight – both feet – on the pedal and we still were not stopping. It’s a good thing we were already moving around 30mph but that’s still fast going down this steep grade. I pulled the emergency brake while keeping my full weight on the brake pedal and just yelled, “Everybody starting pray – we NEED to stop NOW.” The truck slowed and we were off the road without crashing into the truck ramp – all four wheels smoking like a chimney! David and Kylie got the chocks under the trailer wheels and the emergency triangles on the road quickly.

We were off the road for only a few minutes when the WV Courtesy Patrol pulled over to check on us. We let the brakes cool down for about 45 minutes, then started the truck to let the air pressure build back up again. I put the truck in reverse and pulled the brake so we could pull the chocks. But, when I put the brake back on, we started to roll forward. They weren’t holding!

Johnny, the WV Courtesy Patrol dude, called a mechanic for us. I talked with the guy – Glenn – and he came with a service truck. After checking the brakes and making a few adjustments, he tried it out – and the brakes STILL didn’t hold! He looked at me and said, “It’s a miracle you got this thing stopped.” Yes, it was a miracle indeed! He called his tow truck and we were looking for a hotel for the night.

So, as I write this, we have checked into a Sleep Inn in Beaver, WV only a couple of hours from home. The truck is sitting at a repair shop and they won’t start working on it until Monday morning. I’m going to rent a car in the morning and we’ll all take off for home. I’ll check on the truck on Monday afternoon and drive back here to pick it up.

Oh well, so much for sleeping in our bed tonight. I love the glamorous life on the road!

RENAISSANCE THEATRE

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

The show tonight at the Renaissance Theatre was so much fun! The audience was awesome! It was almost a full house of enthusiastic people ready to have a good time. And we did have a good time!

We did the show that we’ll be taking to Asia next month – 80% new material! I was so pleased with the way the audience responded to all the new stuff…oohs and aahs from the crowd; applause in all the right places. We through in a new mind reading effect tonight that also generated quite a buzz in the crowd. The comments in the lobby afterwards were so encouraging.

Everyone did a spectacular job – Cindy, David and Kylie. It’s been a busy two days preparing for Asia and then a performance tonight. Everyone is exhausted but we are so far ahead in our readiness to go out of the country. We should be finished with all the inventory and manifest before Thanksgiving – at least, that’s the plan.

The crew (see picture above) at the Renaissance Theatre was great to work with. These guys are so professional and yet so much fun. It was a pleasure working with all of them and I hope we have the chance to do it again. There’s no way you can beat the hospitality of this place or these people!

It’s late – 1:17am – and we’re leaving early in the morning to head back to Virginia. It will be good to be home for Thanksgiving.

TODAY IN MANSFIELD, OH

Friday, November 17th, 2006

The weather has started to change – again. Yesterday it actually got warm in Ohio in November…this morning, it’s much colder. I guess it’s that time of the year but I wish the temperatures would stay warm just a little bit longer. I’m not a big fan of the “cold.”

I’m looking forward to a great day today. Nolan (from Thomas James Productions – the awesome company that takes such good care of us on the road with our stage supplies) is with us for the day. He’ll be going to Asia with us in December so he’s familiarizing himself with all that’s involved.

We’ll also be rehearsing and polishing the new illusions. You can only do so much in the studio and then you have to get it in front of a live audience. We’ll be doing that tonight! Our show tonight is the show that we’ll be performing in Hong Kong and Taipei next month. And we’ll, hopefully, be finishing up the paperwork today as well for the Asia tour.

It’s all the little things – the details – that can be so time consuming in preparation for a tour like this. But, then again, it’s paying attention to the little things in general that make life much more satisfying.

In my reading the other day, I came across these words:

“We can all see God in exceptional things, but it requires the growth of spiritual discipline to see God in every detail. Never believe that the so-called random events of life are anything less than God’s appointed order. Be ready to discover His divine designs anywhere and everywhere.”

Excellent words to think about and remember! We don’t always understand the way things happen or why they happen (like ALL the trouble we’ve had with our truck this fall), but each event serves a greater purpose and nothing is ever random in the life of a Christ-follower. There is a plan. Our part is to maintain a right relationship with God so that His plan for us can impact the lives of others – even in the smallest detail.

GOOD DAY IN THE THEATRE

Friday, November 17th, 2006

We had a great day in the theatre today. Our show isn’t until Friday night but we spent today loading in, setting up and preparing everything for Asia. We got a lot of work done and feel pretty good about things. There’s still some paperwork to finish up – manifests, inventories, etc – but the majority of the work is done.

My interview went very well this morning here in Mansfield. And ticket sales have been moving along as well. There was a great article in last week’s paper and a reminder today in the local entertainment guide. In spite of the fact that we’re competing with some of the pre-game parties (Ohio State versus Michigan State), it looks like we’re going to have a great crowd.

Ticket sales in Hong Kong are also going quite well! Many of the venues there have only a few ticket remaining and the bulk of the marketing hasn’t even begun yet. I think all the shows will sell out in the next couple of weeks.

DRIVING TO MANSFIELD, OH

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

It turned into a much longer day than I thought it was going to be. It all started when we had to load up a couple of cases into the trailer, including another new illusion that we’ll be debuting at the Renaissance Theatre on Friday night. We’ve been working hard to revamp the production to include several never-before-seen illusions that are are exclusive to us.

We drove all day – about 9 hours – in constant rain through Virginia, West Virginia and Ohio. And now they are saying it may change over to snow showers tonight. I HATE snow!

Tomorrow, we load in. The theatre has graciously allowed us to load in early so that we can stage and prep for the Asia tour.

I have a radio interview at 7:30am and I still have email to answer – gotta run!

TWO DAYS

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

As always when we come home for a short time, the last two days have been slammed! We’ve had so much to do in a brief amount of time that we’ve hardly stopped to eat. The entire team has been preparing for the upcoming tour in Hong Kong (see the Tour Schedule) – inventory, manifest, airline tickets, freight/cargo prep, show scripts for translation, press interviews (via email), etc. It can be very time consuming…but we see light at the end of the tunnel.

Ticket sales are going very well in Hong Kong. I don’t believe they are on sale yet in Taipei but will be very soon if not already. We are working on some advertising ideas with the Brick Wall for them. Which reminds me, I have to get an email out to them tonight!

In the morning we head out for our last performance in the U.S. for the fall – Mansfield, OH at the Renaissance Theatre.