Archive for May, 2008

MACHU PICCHU

Friday, May 30th, 2008

I’ve always wanted to go to Machu Picchu – experience the Peruvian culture and the Incan ruins. Realizing that I might not have that opportunity in the near future, Cindy and I decided to go to a local Peruvian restaurant called Machu Picchu instead. My mom and dad are visiting and we thought this might be a great place to have lunch! And we were right – awesome food with some unusual sauces to compliment the already unique cuisine! We’ll definitely be going back! And who would have thought – right here in Lynchburg!
mom-and-dad.jpg

AUSTRALIA 2009

Wednesday, May 28th, 2008

I am finally done with our 2008/2009 tour schedule. I don’t think I could squeeze another performance into another month without the entire team killing me! Honestly, our tour next season is the best we’ve ever had but it is going to be busy.

I am working with an agency in Australia to put together our first tour down under scheduled for June/July 2009. Torben reports that he’s had lots of interest but the challenge comes in putting it all together. I’m thankful for email that allows us to communicate quickly – otherwise a tour some 12,000 miles away could be very difficult to organize!

We are back in the office and attempting to get organized as we prepare to start booking our 2009/2010 tour. I’m not sure where to even begin given the uncertainty of fuel costs in the future. Who knows how much we will be paying for diesel fuel in 2010! So, I’ll have to be smart as it all starts to come together.

It’s hard not to be concerned about where things are going. But, then again, that’s been the case throughout history. Even Jesus told his followers not to worry about what they’ll eat or drink or wear (Matthew 6:15 in the Bible). Times were hard and they were concerned about life. Jesus encouraged them not to take the pressure of provision on themselves. If truth is enduring (and I believe it is), then I believe he would encourage us to do the same thing. Don’t take the pressure of your provision upon yourself. According to His teachings, it is not only wrong to worry, it is unbelief. Worrying means we do not believe that God can look after the practical details of our lives…and it is never anything but those details that worry us. In the end, it’s about balancing faith with practicality.

HOME!

Saturday, May 24th, 2008

After 2,962 miles and five days of driving, I am finally home again in Virginia. It’s beautiful and there are no words to adequately describe just how it feels to be “home.”

Nolan and I met up with Ethan in Alma, AR and he followed us the last two days. He’s getting settled into his place and starts work with us right after Memorial Day. He’s going to work out great. The flip side of that is that Nolan packed up his apartment and is heading back to Indiana this morning. His time with us included the tour in Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as coast-to-coast in the states. He said this year he has experienced the coldest temperatures of his life (-22 degrees in Telluride) and the hottest (115 in the Mojave Desert). He worked hard for us and did a great job. We’re going to miss him.

I’ve got more than a million things to do now that I’m home!

DRIVING ACROSS COUNTRY

Thursday, May 22nd, 2008

The last few days have been filled with constantly changing scenery – from the high desert of California to the mountains of Tennessee. Monday – 652 miles to Kingman, AZ; Tuesday – 686 miles to Tucumcari, NM; Wednesday 601 miles to Alma, AR; and today, 640 miles to Crossville, TN. We are almost home!

It’s been an interesting trip. First we lost the air conditioning on the truck before leaving California. Then, in the middle of the Mojave Desert, we lost the air conditioning unit on the roof. Today we lost our Xm Stereo. With only 400 miles to go, I hope we make it in without losing anything else!

This morning as we left the hotel in Alma, I had another “celebrity sighting.” You might remember my last one was last week in Hollywood at the California Pizza place. And I never thought that Alma, AR would be a hot spot for celebrities but there in the breakfast area was Thomas Hayden Church! This is the guy that played the Sandman in Spiderman 3!

tchurch.jpg

We were in the truck by 6:30am and on the road….I can’t wait to get home!

686 Miles

Wednesday, May 21st, 2008

Today was fairly uneventful – miles and miles of Arizona and New Mexico. 686 miles total – and now we’re in Tucumcari, NM for the night.

LIVERMORE, CA

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

We finished the tour strong at the Bankhead Theatre in Livermore, CA! We had a sold out house – wonderful audience, especially for a matinee show! You’ve read it before, but there is a very different feel for an afternoon audience than an evening crowd for many reasons. The audience in Livermore was enthusiastic, excited, cheering, applauding – they could not have made us feel more welcome on their stage!

bankhead-theatre.jpg

This beautiful theatre only opened in October 2007. The staff and technical crew were so organized, prepared for us when we arrived. The early morning load in went well and everyone had such a great attitude for being up so early! A big thank you to Ed Estrada and his entire crew.

This being our LAST show of the tour, Cindy and Keith would be flying home on Monday while Nolan and I would drive the truck across country 2750 miles!

After the show, we started back to the hotel. As we pulled out of the loading dock, we heard a strange noise coming from the truck – but it went away quickly. We decided to stop just up the street and grab a bite to eat. Afterall, it was dinner time since the show started at 2pm! Again, as we pulled over, we heard that noise again but this time, much louder! I shut down the truck and we checked under the hood. The belt on our airconditioning compressor had been completely destroyed – shredded! We were in trouble – 6pm on a Sunday night in Livermore, CA.

We went to Chevy’s Mexican Restaurant for food and picked up a phone book. We were able to connect with Matt’s 24 Hour Diesel Repair. After a few calls, I finally got to talk with Matt and explain the situation. He said he would come over and replace the belt but it would be costly (after hours call on a Sunday started at $220). When Matt arrived and looked under the hood, we had bigger problems than a belt. The airconditioning compressor had come completely loose – bolts were stripped and there was no way to tighten it. And, in the process of being shredded, the belt also ripped away the wiring to the cam sensor. This truck wasn’t going anywhere!!

He wired the cam sensor fairly quickly but gave little hope of being able to repair the compressor on the side of the road. He attempted to tighten the bolts, but it wasn’t going to work. It would have to be removed and that was going to take some time – time that we didn’t have. Nolan and I would have to make the drive without any air conditioning! We could fire up the generator on the truck and run the roof air – that would at least get us through the Mojave Desert.

We were up early and on the road by 6:30am. The morning temperatures were cool, about 50 degrees, and the day started great. By 10am, it was extremely hot with temperatures nearing 100 degrees. And when we hit the desert, temperature we in excess of 110 degrees!

112-degrees.jpg

Somewhere in the middle of the desert, the roof airconditioner on the rig also stopped working! I think it literally fried in the heat! So, there we were – driving through the desert with temperatures now in excess of 115 degrees with absolutely no air conditioning at all! With the windows down, it felt like we were in a convection oven slowing being cooked!

desert.jpg

We made it to Kingman, AZ and pulled over for the night. It was much cooler here – only 97 degrees. Tomorrow, we’re off to Santa Rosa, NM!

DRIVING TO LIVERMORE, CA

Saturday, May 17th, 2008

We left West Covina this morning after relaxing for a couple of days. We knew today was going to be a little slow going because we had to climb (again) Grapevine on Interstate 5 north. This is a large, steep grade that I’ve heard truck drivers talk about for years…now, twice in the last two weeks, I’ve had the chance to experience it for myself. Honestly, after Cabbage Hill (Oregon), Death Valley (California), and the trip up to Big Bear Lake last weekend, this wasn’t that big of a deal!

We are heading to Livermore, CA for our last show of the season – the Bankhead Theatre. The show is on Sunday afternoon but we’ll be arriving on Saturday night to get some rest before the 6am call time. I’m looking forward to the show and feel pretty rested after these last few days off. The time we spent at Big Bear Lake and the last few days in Los Angeles have been refreshing….one more show and the we start heading back to Virginia.

HANGING IN SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Friday, May 16th, 2008

We’ve been relaxing a bit in Southern California – it’s been very nice. We rented a car and drove over to Hollywood and Highlands. This is the “vortex” of the Hollywood tourism scene – Mann’s Chinese Theatre, the Kodak Theatre, restaurants, shops, museums, and more.
hollywoodandhighland.jpg

We did a little shopping and then had lunch at the California Pizza Kitchen. While leaving, I happened to run into Mario Van Peebles. This isn’t necessarily a name that everyone recognizes but he’s probably one of Hollywood’s busier actors – from feature films to soap operas. He and I exchanged a few words and wished each other a great day.

441px-mario_van_peebles_1991.jpg

After our little trip to Hollywood, we headed back to our hotel…but got sidetracked at yet another mall. Let’s just say we did a lot of shopping these last couple of days.

Tomorrow, we start the trip to Livermore in the Bay area for our show on Sunday afternoon. We’ll have to load in early – again – so we’ll get into town on Saturday night.

TREASURES

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

We are enjoying some “time off” between performances in Southern California. Monday was very overcast and cool but things changed dramatically on Tuesday – warmer temperatures and sunny days. We are almost done with our Spring 2008 tour and ready to get back to Virginia. Life on the road can be challenging sometimes and you miss the connection you have with friends at home. But life on the road also has some wonderful benefits – and building relationships with people who don’t live in your backyard is one of those. Yesterday, Cindy and I had the chance to spend the day with two people who make us laugh, think, evaluate, and enjoy life and treasure friendships – Jim Steinmeyer and Frankie Glass.

We had a great time just talking, sharing stories, and relaxing at their place. They gave us some great ideas of places to see and things to do during our upcoming trip to London and Europe. Frankie is from Scotland and knows the territory very well – Cindy picked up a few shopping ideas that I know will make her happy! Jim and I had the chance to explore some of his new illusion ideas for our show and talk magic. But by far the greatest part of the day was just spending time with friends and feeling “normal” in the midst of a somewhat “abnormal” way of life. Perhaps abnormal isn’t the right word – unusual and different. But they get it and that makes all the difference in the world.

They took the time out of their busy schedules to prepare an amazing dinner for all of us! It’s the first “real” food we’ve had in a long time and it was awesome. Conversation continued well into the night and it was later than we thought when we finally checked our watches. Time flies when you’re having fun!

The day reminded me of some words I once read, “Those who live passionately teach us how to love.” I am passionate about many things – my love for my wife, my relationship with my family, doing my best in each performance, building meaningful friendships, and living life to its fullest. As a Christ-follower, I believe it was His passion for people that made Him so unique – and that passion carried over into every aspect of His life. His life exemplified those words – live passionately teach us how to love. I hope my life reveals that same kind of passion – genuine and sincere. Yesterday, spending time with Jim and Frankie, was one of those moments where passionate people teach us how to love….to love life, people, friendships, and special times.

Those of you who know me know that Doug Henning was a huge influence in my career. He was an amazing performer and really transformed the art of magic in the 70′s and 80′s. In so many ways, you can still see his influence in the art. Unfortunately, he passed away several years ago at only 52 – but his legacy lives on. I had the chance to pick up a tiny bit of that legacy yesterday – one of his most famous costumes that embodies who Doug really was.

henningstuff.jpg

BIG BEAR LAKE, CA

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

We left out of Long Beach on Saturday morning, heading to Big Bear Lake, CA. Long Beach is officially at 0 feet sea level (elevation) and Big Bear Lake is at 7,000 fee above sea level – that’s quite a climb!

We arrived at the Performing Arts Center around 7am. This is really early for us but the show was set to start at 2pm and we need those hours to get everything set up.

bblpac.jpg

Sean, Robert, Dave, Brian, Kim, and Katie were all there to meet – wide awake and ready to get to work. We loaded in and the day went fairly well. None of the lighting electrics (pipes) come down here so I had to take all of our intelligent lights up in a lift and hang them from there. Robert was a big help with that while Dave and his guys figured out a way to get one of our backdrops in the air!

We hit a few challenges with the running of the show. There’s no space in front of the main curtain which means I had no place to do some of the smaller stage magic while the guys set up the next illusion backstage. We were able to put some special lighting on a small space stage right where I could do those things and it worked fine – just different for our normal style.

We had a great audience on Mother’s Day – very nice crowd of energetic people! I always ask for the assistance of a young guy from the audience in one of the illusions. Most of the time, everything works out okay. During this show, my young volunteer got just a little bit of “stage fright” and ran off the stage very quickly to the laughs and applause of the audience. People thought I actually told him to do it! Another volunteer quickly took his place and the show went on.

Keith had some friends drive up from Los Angeles to see the show – that’s loyalty because that is also a long drive! As it turns out, we also consider these guys (John, Sil, Tali, and Sam) to be our friends. They are such warm and personable people with very genuine spirit about them that’s rare these days. John is also an amazing magician, though he’s not one to show you a trick without some prodding. After the show, we all went back over to PONGS to indulge ourselves in the awesome Thai cuisine of this restaurant. Once the food hit my stomach, that was it. Getting up at 6am suddenly came crashing down on Cindy and I.

cindyonbench.jpg

We made our way back to the hotel, fixed a hot cup of tea, and walked out to the lake. We sat down on one of the benches and took in our surroundings. It is simply spectacular out here. Cindy and I talked about the amazing places we have the chance to visit because of what we do – many places that we would never go or even have the opportunity to see. We walked out onto one of the docks just as the fish started coming to the surface.

fish.jpg

We watched the fish for a while but, once the sun set, it got very cold! We scurried back to the room to get some rest.

This morning, we made our way down the mountain to West Covina. I picked up a rental car, got Ethan to the airport, and Cindy and I checked out one of the local malls. We are looking forward to a couple of days off!