The fun actually started at about twelve-thirty. We had invited Celeste and Sarah (and of course Logan) to the circus with us, and yesterday was the day. We thought it would be nice to treat them to dinner afterward, but then we remembered (at about eleven-thirty the previous night) that Celeste had a barbecue or something to go to. And because we're lazy, we didn't think to call them about going to lunch instead until about eleven-thirty that morning. But we called...and it was Logan's naptime. So we left instructions for them to call when he woke up and see if we still had time to eat before the circus show started at three.
He woke up at twelve-thirty, and off we went to Marie Callender's for lunch and pie. But that's not really the interesting part of the day (except for the fact that little infant Logan seemed very interested in watching the waitress...), so we'll skip ahead to the circus! Woohoo!
We got to the arena where the circus was performing (it wasn't a tent; it was an arena, but that didn't really detract from the show, I think) with about half an hour before showtime, but they had a pre-show, which really meant that kids could run around and watch little clown skits and dress up in circus clothes and take pictures and get autographs. They even had a giant bounce house! They brought out an elephant at one point and had it display its prowess with a paintbrush, but we were watching clowns, and the crowd around the elephant was impenetrable (okay, we probably could have gotten through it if we cared enough, but it would have been really hard, and we didn't care enough), so we didn't see what the elephant painted.
Then it was showtime! This year's show was called Dragons, so we were really eager to see what they were going to do with that theme. They started with clowns coming out to get everybody excited, throwing giant inflatable balls into the crowd and stuff. And then they had a big introduction, where pretty much everybody in the show came out. There was so much to look at, we weren't sure what to do! They didn't bring out all the animals, but they did bring out a bunch of elephants (including a little one who we assume was too young to perform in the elephant act, but too big to be a baby elephant, but still adorable) and horses and llamas and a dog, and there were acrobats and motorcyclists and martial artists, and clowns of course, and dragon shaped floats...
(Wait, they actually started with the national anthem, which was really cool, because while the ringmaster sang, they had one of the elephants come out carrying a woman in an American flag inspired costume that was sooooo pretty and sparkly. And she was holding the flag, of course.)
Anyway, they sang this song about how you need to have the strength, courage, wisdom, and heart of a dragon, and then this dragon tail moved, and the ringmaster's...assistant? Sidekick? Friend? I don't know, but his name was Paulo. Paulo tried to tell the ringmaster there was a real dragon, and the ringmaster was like, "Oh yeah, don't we all wish." And then it was on with the show!
It started with these horses, right? So these guys came out riding horses, and then they did stunts on the horses! It was like...you know how they have the vaulting horse event in men's gymnastics? It was like that, only on an actual horse. One guy actually climbed around the horse's belly while the horse was galloping along. It was amazing!
Then they had the tightrope act, only instead of just having someone walk across and do flips and stuff, they had two wires, and on each wire, there was a guy on a specially designed chopper that had a kind of swing hanging from it, and on each swing, there were two girls doing tricks! At one point, the whole chopper flipped around the wire! !!!!
One of the extra amazing things about the circus was how smoothly everything ran. I mean, with something like a circus, there are so many millions of reasons to make sure everything goes smoothly. First of all, a lot of the tricks take a bunch of setting up, with the various props and apparatuses and stuff. Second, they can't make the audience wait for everything to be set up, so they have to specially manage the show so as to make sure everything went smoothly, and finally, if things aren't set up just right, somebody could die. (Celeste said she had a lot of fun watching the show, but it was really stressful, too, because she kept thinking, "What if this is the one time something goes wrong?")
Anyway, while the audience was distracted watching the people on the tightrope, the circus people were setting up the stage for the lion tamer. I know people tend to condemn lion taming as the ultimate form of animal cruelty, but I have to admit, I would have been very disappointed if I hadn't gotten to see big kitties. And of course in this progressive age, it's not like circuses have stubbornly insisted on torturing animals. They just like to do cool tricks for people, so they've evolved, too. And so the lion tamer was very very nice to his kitties. And he actually had lions and tigers, and they were very very cute. They did look a little grumpy, though, so I'm not entirely sure how well they enjoy the circus life, but...
I want to say it seemed like they were good friends with the lion tamer, but what looked like playful swats to me looked like potentially deadly attacks to other people. There was one point where a lion had the tamer backed up against the netting surrounding the act, and he said, "Don't worry, folks; this is all part of the show." I was like, "You even need to say that?" But I found out later that Celeste was practically having a heart attack. I don't know; maybe it comes from my relationship with Page. She likes to chomp.
Anyway, the cutest part was when the lion tamer had two of the tigers form a little 人 (that's the best way to describe it) over the male lion. The other cutest part was when he was excusing each of the animals, and he told one of the lions to go, and she just lay on the floor, like, "Nope; I'm good." He talked to her to try to get her to leave, and she just relaxed even more. Then he started rubbing her belly. It was so sweet.
At the end of the act, all the animals had gone except for the male lion, and then they lowered a big ball from the ceiling, and the ball had a platform on it. The tamer got the lion to stand on the platform, and then he tore the covering off the ball, and it was a giant disco ball!! Woohoo!! And it spun around, with the lion on top of it (not super fast, of course; you don't want to make your lions dizzy). Then the lion jumped down and we all applauded for the lion tamer.
And then they had a bunch of balls like the one they lowered into the big cat cage thingie, and they raised them all up to the ceiling while the ringmaster started a spiel that I don't remember because I was distracted. Something he said made me think, "Those aren't going to be disco balls--I bet there's people inside!!" And there were people inside! Each one was kind of like...if you've ever seen those "make your own Christmas tree ornament" things at Michael's, where you have two halves of a clear plastic ball that you can paint or fill however you want, it was like that. Only they were hinged, and giant, and there were people inside. And sometimes the people would push the halves open and hang from them and twirl around and...it's just nowhere near as awesome in text as it is to see, but I think it was my favorite act (that didn't have any animals).
They were followed by a pair of girls who did tricks while hanging FROM THEIR HAIR!! Oh my goodness. (According to the program, they use high-protein shampoo.) I mean, one time we were at Disneyland, and we were wondering out loud what kind of a headache the girls who play Rapunzel must have at the end of the day, because their wigs must weigh...a lot. But nowhere near as much as another person would weigh! (I think.) When those girls came out for the curtain call, their hair was very understandably not tied up anymore.
Anyway, there was a bunch of other cool stuff, like the teeterboard and the martial artists, doing Qigong, which is the same martial arts style Hakkai uses! Only they were mostly showing off how they use it to harden their bodies in order to bend rebar and break oak poles over their heads (it was kind of like a frat party, I thought), and Hakkai uses it to fire ki/qi/chi blasts.
Anyway, funny story about the re-bar. They brought it out, and the ringmaster said it was re-bar (they had a guy from the audience test its strength), and Athena was like, "Re-bar!? Re-bar kills construction workers!!" (Incidentally, the, "but that can kill you" high energy reaction was constant throughout, naturally.) And I replied, "But mostly by impaling, I think." We figured they were going to whack somebody with it, like they were doing with the oak poles. But instead, they placed each end at somebody's throat, and they pushed towards each other. In other words, they could have impaled each other!!
But instead the rebar bent, and it was all a happy ending. Whew. It was really fun when they had the guys jump through the ring of swords. They even set it on fire and spun it around, and had the guy blindfolded, but we're really not sure if the blindfold completely impaired his vision. But whether he could see or not, it was pretty impressive that he got the timing right with it spinning around and being on fire and everything.
The clowns had an act where they tried to do all the martial arts stuff, which was not only a circus self-parody, but also a demonstration to the kids of what the ringmaster had warned everyone before the martial arts demonstration: do NOT try this at home.
And at some point there was an intermission. During the intermission, Celeste tracked down one of the snow cone vendors and bought one. It was in a fancy light-up souvenir cup, exactly the same type we were so envious of when we went to Disney on Ice (only this one had a circus elephant instead of Sorcerer's Apprentice Mickey or Disney Princesses), which had us wondering if Ringling Brothers and Disney on Ice were run by the same people. Turns out they are.
Anyway, Celeste got a snow cone. Sarah had taken Logan off to say hi to some friends she spotted in the audience. Speaking of Logan, he was pretty good for the whole show, but he was rather fussy for the last part of the first act because he had lost his pacifier. For the second act, he behaved reasonably better for one very important reason: Celeste had a snow cone. When Sarah brought him back to our seats, he saw the snow cone and immediately looked at Celeste like, "When do I get some?" The kid's under a year old, and he already has an entitlement attitude. XD
So of course Celeste shared, which was really funny (in a tragic sort of way), because the first time she gave him a bite, he got this hurt look on his face, like, "Why would you do that to me?" And then he looked at her like, "So when do I get more?" That went on for a couple more bites, at which point he got used to it, and then was very impatient between spoonfuls. Sometimes, he'd start wailing during the show, and we couldn't tell if he was just hooting and hollering like the rest of us, or if Celeste was taking too long giving him more snow cone. His face was blue by the end of the show (not from cold; the snow cone was blue-flavored).
The second act was fun, too, of course. That was when they had the trapeze, which I was really excited about because of Kaleido Star, and because Mom used to watch Quantum Leap when we were little, and I remember one episode when the guy was a circus performer, so his informant guy was teaching him how to hang upside-down on the trapeze. I remembered that information, then went to the park, rolled the swing up to make it higher (not really a safe thing to do, but when you're a kid, you don't really care so much), and hung upside-down myself! So I have a special affinity for the trapeze.
They also had circus kitties! By which now I mean house cats. They walked on the kitty low-wire, and they were sooooooo cute. Distractingly so! Because they also had circus dogs and circus...hoofed animals? (ponies, a donkey, a goat, some llamas...) that were doing stuff at the same time, and we could only watch one! Although we did see the poodle jumping rope while they were switching kitties. We also saw the goat get up on a high beam to walk across, and then we watched a kitty, and then the goat was on the other side. It was simultaneously one of the most awesome and one of the most frustrating parts of the whole circus, as an audience member.
They had elephants come out and do a big act! They were so cute! And they had more acrobats that I haven't really gone into detail about. There were the ones on the teeterboard, apparently is what it's called, where one of them would stand on one end, while one or two others would climb a ladder and jump on the other end, launching them into the air! And of course they did flips and things. They also had some acrobats on what I think is called the Russian bar (or so it says in the program), which is more easily explained by a trip to Wikipedia. They were super impressive, like everything else, and that was one of the acts that had us like, "But if he's that high, how can they catch him!?"
At some point, the clowns did another routine where they rescued a princess from a tower, and one of them had a unicycle horse, which is totally awesome. They did some silly stunts, all to music that was very old school Disney cartoon short (except for the bits of "Someday My Prince Will Come," which is still old school Disney, but not "Disney short"), with some more modern music tossed in (a bit of "My Heart Will Go On," for example, during which song the princess pulled out a giant heart pendant (representing her heart, I guess) and dropped it on one of the clowns). Eventually, she was rescued by Paulo, who at this point had proven he had all the characteristics necessary to summon a real dragon (strength, courage, wisdom) except for heart.
So they proved Paulo had heart by letting him ride a motorcycle inside the steel dome thingie. Yay! When he was done, they had the big motorcycle act, where they had all the motorcyclists racing around inside this tiny little steel dome. I had to wonder how in the world you rehearse something like that. I mean, if the point is one false move results in serious injury...
But now that Paulo had proven he had the spirit of the dragon, a real dragon was ready to answer his call! And they brought out this really cool-looking animatronic dragon that breathed fire and everything. I don't think its neck moved as well as the Maleficent animatronic in Fantasmic!, but overall I think I like it better. For one thing, it has a more impressive wingspan.
And then the show was over, and we were all happy and we bought the program and the DVD. Tadah! We were pretty happy to find out they were selling a DVD, and it was only $15, which, compared to their other extortionately priced merchandise, was a steal! (For example, the program was the same exact price. Celeste's snow cone was only three dollars less.) The guy selling the DVD said it has the whole show on it, but for $15, we'll be happy for some excerpts. (Of course we haven't watched it yet.) And it has bonus features, including a music video of the show's theme song and behind the scenes at the circus!
And all the while (after the show), Logan continued to have an artificially flavored blue face as he kept a tight grip on Celeste's spoon. He even held on to it as he fell asleep on the long journey outside the parking lot (more like "slow journey" but my way is more dramatic, and we were on the fourth floor).
Overall, we liked it a lot, but since there wasn't a whole lot of dialogue to hold our attention, I would say it's not my favorite form of entertainment. Doesn't make it any less awesome, though.
Today I'm thankful for having a fun day with our sisters and nephew, the super hilarious "tattoo sleeve" that came with our circus program (it's literally a sleeve, and you wear it to make it look like your arm is covered in tattoos; Athena says, "You can be your very own sideshow!" (there was no sideshow; are you kidding me? This is the 21st century; we don't do that anymore. ...I think), getting to see all the animals, getting to have pie after lunch, and all the amazing people who worked together to create a super awesome show for everyone to enjoy.