Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Back in the day and today. . .

In Kevin Borwnlow's book THE PARADE'S GONE BY
(a book about silent films)

Gloria Swanson recounts how this scene was filmed.
(DeMille is alleged to have arrived on the set sporting two pearl handled revolvers.)
Now that's one heroic woman with nerves of steel, and beautiful too.
Disclaimer: Kids, don't try this at home.

And in exciting elephant news, Riddle's Elephant and Wildlife Sanctuary, aka Scott and Heidi, the hardest working elephant folks in the biz, welcomed a new addition. Bets, in honor of Bets Rasmussen, the chemist that pioneered scent research at their facility. During my time at their course in hands-on elephant handling Bets told the story of having a difficult time selling her used car. Seems she had carted buckets of ele pee to her lab and well, the car had a peculiar odor to it making it hard to sell. Her research has since resulted in scent deterrent used in India to repel elephants and help them co-exist with people.

Bets Rasmussen
One of the most intelligent and inspiring women I've met.

Congratulations Scott and Heidi, your vision and perseverance are a blessing to us all.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Cognitive Pollution & Aetna Health Insurance

Yep, I'm naming names in this case. Once again I found myself unsheathing my sword in the healthcare field. Take that, and that you smarmy fools. How dare I laugh when it seems so absurd. And with that she hung up. Ok, I digress as I so often do.

I was attempting to get a straight answer and firm price I would have to pay for being seen by a specialist "out" of the network. The way it works is the insurance companies tell the doctors what they will pay them and then tell the consumers that it is the "reasonable and customary" amount doctors in the area charge which in reality is a complete lie.
Oh, and then they take 10% off the top, or as they put it "pay 90%" and even then won't quote exact amounts. So I laughed and she got bent out of shape and hung up. So I'm buying something without knowing the cost. Gosh, just like the government. So simple to me.

But it's her I'm worried about. From the second she answered I could tell she was stressed. I gathered up all my happiness and tried hard to get through. Try to take it lightly, I said, when she mentioned how many calls she had to put through. I tried hard to help her see the levity in the entire situation. It's even funny to me that she works for a health care insurance agency and they are subjecting her to life-stealing stress. Seems to me it's all so meaningless, just numbers and lies, no time for the truth. Yeah, I laughed out loud and she'd had enough. Oh, and I called back 2 more times to get more information, mentioned this fact and was told the 4 supervisors were busy and would call me back. An exceedingly sweet southern woman did and I figured out what it all comes down to. Words. The words that they use, are meant to confuse. Gosh, I hope I don't laugh.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Duality, Illusion & Trapdoors

From hell during the day, to heaven at night.
RTC Productions performed as guest artists for the Gainesville Ballet Theater's "Little Match Girl". A period piece, we recreated the subtrunk illusion using a prop box built in the 1920's. (I wonder how many other "box jumping" women have sweated it out in there, hmm) As is the nature of our current culture, it was a 5-minute act performed as a 60-second trick. Whew! I drew inspiration from the film, "The Prestige" and created my own costume. Together, Elise, Kyle and I staged and re-staged the exact sequence of moves repeatedly until it was smooth. Banged knees, heads and toes, we perservered. Fun was had. Jess, Robyn and the Dalai Llama played a role as well. Thank you GBT and Miss Joni for allowing me the creativity to produce something new for you each year.

Update on the quest for world peace.

Good friend and circus empressaria, Jessica Hentoff is making her annual plea for donations to fund groundbreaking work building pyramids of people and bridges between people. Last summer they really did so in the Middle East. Combining circus students from the U.S with the Jewish/Arab youth circus it was social circus in action. As she puts it, "...these young people demonstrated, in a breath-taking way, what can happen when people of different nationalities and backgrounds build something together. They are only children- - but they have a lot to teach the rest of the world." The language of circus knows no nations.

Here's a link, what a wonderful gift.

Peace be to you too. :)

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Week from Hell

I awake in the early a.m.
writing in my head,
want to fall back to sleep
so I can pass through
there again.

That's right, hellish week. I can only be stronger from this.

As I flashed my ID card and beeped myself onto the Adult Psych unit for my weekly attempt at work in the corporate world, I noticed it.

The fluorescent lights bounced off the linoleum floor in the corridor and escaped into blackness. There on my left was a hole punched through the drywall, exactly the size of a human head.

My radar perked up as I warily double checked the hallway leading to the seclusion room, the vibe felt pretty cool, was there something I missed? It was Sunday afternoon and I'd picked up a shift to make the extra weekend dif. I'd forgotten we were at the peak of a full moon.

Overbooked and understaffed I found myself clinging to my own sanity as the whirlwind of human emotions exploded around me. Juggling the unceasing phonecalls, doorbell and doctors' requests, it was all I could do to play the peacekeeper as the nurses went after each other's throats. The hallucinating schizophrenic is screaming at the top of their lungs for meds which sets off the borderline who starts cutting them self. Two pacing manics are carrying on a non-stop conversation covering every topic in the book. The verbally abused techs hold their own and allow patients comments to roll off their backs. "Yo, yo, yo" answering the cell phone is the high tech, redneck, doc. Brief moments of levity are the lifeboats we cling to when the acuity is this intense.

We are sinking in the sea of a system that's horribly broken - at the mercy of lawsuits and audits monitoring our every movement and what is written in charts. Mistakes are made, we are only human. And HIPPA prevents us from reassuring family that their members are there, unless we jump through the paperwork first.

A kind word, conversation and a little hand holding is sometimes the medicine needed more than all the drugs we use. In our world today there is little time for that and the therapists have been reassigned to utilization management in an attempt to wrangle money owed from the government and insurance sources.

Those I work with are angels sent to lift up those less fortunate. My circus strength and courage stands me in good stead while I'm in this place. It's not until I get home that I come unglued myself.

The system is terribly broken and what hurts the most is the human cost.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The Truth About Elephants and Ringling

Here's a link to an eye-opening article about elephants. Maybe their fate isn't sealed after all.
Oh sweet elephant dreams. . . .


This is an interesting take on it.

Photoshop speaks to dreams.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Thank you, thank you, thank you

Those of you that surround me, encourage me and put up with me.
Thanks for all that you do.
Thanks for being you.
May you eat your fill.

Just came across this interesting article about

a new transit system that would convert old airplanes into speedy, eco-friendly trains.

Obviously I think this is important. You can't miss the hyperlink.

Here in Florida we voted "YES!" on a high speed rail system a few years ago. I was overjoyed when it passed. Thoughts of hopping a train to the coast filled my head. Ah, but the powers that be placed it back on the ballot and instigated a fear campaign of rising taxes to cover the cost. Hello?!? It's going to cost us either way. Second time around it was voted down. Fools we are for driving our cars. In my travels I have been spoiled by trains. Nothing like the rocking and rolling through the mountains, the sound of the street gates clanging, the leg room and time to read. I'd love to see monorailplanes in the sky. Or would that be planemonorails?

Oh, and lots of these:

What's the connection here?

A vinyl, blow up elephant in Australia protesting nuclear waste.

Real, live elephants blowing up in India when they come in contact with electricity.

Orphaned elephants in Sri Lanka

Elephant life in India

potential electricity

the end

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Primate Ponderings

Went to two HUGE conventions in Orlando. IAAPA and LDI, and they were literally like night and day.

IAAPA is bright, flashing, noisy, colorful, animatronic, thrilling, gum removing, movie projecting, green screen, Tesla,plush winning, water dancing, moon bouncing, beer swilling, toasted cheesy, dogsy, outdoorsy, mascots and women in costumes.

LDI on the other hand was dark, subdued, technological, indoorsy, smoky, blinking, streaming, foggy, wine drinking, croissant, curtained, rigged, hung, confetti, fog, projection, staging, lighting, gobo, spanset, DMX, LED, sound mixing, electronic, fabric, architectural, shadowy, movement and men in black.

Some highlights were the "Spewer" life size animatronic, moving and spewing recreation of a guy puking into a barrel, alongside the old school electrocution chair models. A flying rig for Joe public without harness or a net, landing on a krush kushion aka modified airbag instead. Video projections on water, fog, and fabric. Electroluminescent fashion fur. And LED everything.

Amazing how far we will go to "entertain" ourselves, or be entertained. Bazillions of dollars were changing hands as men in suits gathered around tables and shook hands. China had the presence Japan once had. All this stuff to create illusions, or re-create the illusion of life and sensory overload fun.

The spark - yeah, it all sparked an idea I had years ago, and now it seems the technology is available. So this idea monkey is getting to work, seeking financing. . .and relieved to be back in the woods listening to nature. I guess I'm simple and easily entertained.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Victimization of Elephants

I have a difficult time with the whole animal rights movement. Seems to me it is a reflection and symptom of deeper societal ills. You see, I’ve been an elephant trainer. I’ve traveled and performed with circus elephants. And when I see protesters and meet people that “believe” in animal rights, I have a difficult time buying into their imagination. They imagine the worst, without knowing the current reality. Elephant trainers are the most courageous, hard-working people I know. They face their own mortality and demise everyday. They know their close contact with elephants could kill them in an instant. Yet they get up everyday and shovel shit. They have been thrust into this position unwittingly. When they started there wasn’t the media magnifying glass, 30-sec edited videos, sound bites and uneducated* public judging their every move. They simply spent all day, everyday, in the service of these amazing beasts and learned to care for them as best they could. Like any learning experience in life, there are always successes and failures. As science has caught up with animal learning and husbandry, methods have changed. As society has grown and cemented over nature, green spaces for elephants and humans have disappeared. What we are left with is a jolting discrepancy between how we imagine elephants should live and what their current reality, caused by our short-sighted imaginations, really is. In smaller towns and rodeo grounds elephants don’t seem so out of place. They’re just exotic livestock doing their thing. Eating, pooping, and exercising in the form of circus tricks. With the companionship and connection of a caring animal person, they thrive in this situation. They have each other for company and a reason to live. We all need this.

I watch as small children are ecstatic the first time they see an elephant. They point and get stiff and twitchy with joy and wonder. They smile back at their parents making sure they see what they see. They see the wonder and beauty that is an elephant. They believe the elephants are as happy to be there as the kids are to see them. They see the purest, unbiased truth.

Sadly, the current “belief” by the animal rights movement would insist that the elephants are miserable. Their children are told that it is bad for humans and elephants to co-exist and work side-by-side. That feeding, caring and shoveling shit for the elephants is not an honorable job. These children respond by holding their noses and screeching that “Ew, elephants stink!” They are children brainwashed by adult’s mistaken beliefs and go on to invest their time in cleaner, sanitized versions of life, such as television, video games and jobs indoors.

I have the hardest time with people that own animals themselves as pets; dogs, cats, horses, etc. but think that “exotic” animals should be maintained at a distance in so-called sanctuaries. So-called because whose sanctuary is it really? They are still captive. Only the rich benefactors and contributors can now view them. They are still on display and don’t have a job to do. They still don’t have natural families and the ability to wander at will. What were once the earths beings are now the fund raising poster children of holier-than-thou non-profit administrators. I realize they mean well. I’m just not so sure it’s really in the elephant’s best interest. Ideally, in my own imagination, it would be wonderful to see elephants everywhere. Able to co-exist in cities because we had left corridors of greenery for them to hang out in, with their handlers of course. I’m not saying they can be left to wander on their own in the midst of humanity as we know it nowadays, just that it would be great to be able to see elephants out for walks as we drove to work. One time we were hired to take an amazing elephant to a football game for a half-time promotion. I remember watching as people rushed past to their seats, not even noticing this huge beast calmly waiting his cue. I was saddened to think of what they were missing. Maybe they were saddened to think we were missing the game. Somehow I don’t think so.

Rather than adversaries, wouldn’t it be in the best interest of elephants to all work together and pool resources for their benefit?

I suppose I have a very unique and unusual perspective and would hope that I can infect others with visions of humans and animals large and small, living and working together, sharing their lives and their smells with each other, so that the small beings among us, children that is, can be exposed to the wonder of what nature has wrought, and know that the earth is a place to be happily shared by us all.

*By uneducated I’m not referring to formal schooling. Rather animal smarts. Farmers, ranchers and others that have been raised around and work with animals live in tune with animal intelligence. Highly-educated, institutionalized, intellectual, book-learning, city-raised people are sorely lacking this.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Running away with the circus, without leaving home.

This weekend Elise and I ran away with Loomis Bros. Circus, in Trenton on Friday and Saturday, and Archer on Sunday. Driving home each night to sleep in our own beds, it was like having our cake, and eating it too!

A classic, clean, colorful family show, run by Justin Loomis, packed them in at the rodeo grounds. We had the great pleasure of working with highly-talented circus families in a top notch 3-ring show. Tigers, juggling, unicycle, hand balancing, trapeze, chiffon, cradle, rola bola, hula hoops, clowns, birds and elephants, there was something for everyone and a great time was had by all.

Ooooh, I savored the scents and sounds of the elephants as they hung out grazing and relaxing until the show. My mouth watered at the smell of the popcorn and my heart skipped a beat when the whistle blew. Oh, yeah, there's no biz like show biz, and with sawdust in my veins my heart bursts with love when I get to play in a circus ring. I'm a salesman for FUN! No worries here, just bespangled people doing amazing things.

Oh and some local humor. . .
"May all your days be CIRCUS days!"

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Puppet Peeps on Parade pt. 2


The cat is out of the bag, or the snake is out of the cat rather. . .well almost.

It took a bit of coaxing, but finally the great rat catcher, aka corn snake slithered out and away into the woods. (At over 4 foot in length, darn, he was doing such a great job in the warehouse keeping the varmints from nesting in the puppets.)

The peeps made it in time for the parade and a good time was had by all. Oh, and we won FIRST PLACE!!! Thanks to the fun-loving puppet peeps and RTC crewe!

Lots more pics from other gigs soon! Stay tuned.

Lovin' life,


p.s. Don't just stalk us. SUBSCRIBE! Simply click on the podcast link below ;)

Puppet Peeps on Parade pt. 1

October has been gig-a-licious!

The puppet peeps are dancin' in the streets and the crowds go wild with giant puppet frenzy. On our way at 8:00 a.m. to the Cedar Key Seafood Festival Parade with the peeps and the puppets in the back of the van, Mr. Chris Miller of ESS fame calmly remarked, "Lynn, there is something in the cat puppet's paw." Here's pics of what ensued:

Monday, October 1, 2007

Heart Broken

Really. Had an EKG and found out I have right bundle branch block. Genetically I am predisposed to heart disease, however the research says, "RBBB also commonly occurs in normal, healthy individuals, and the screening exam therefore often turns up no medical problems. In these cases, the RBBB has no apparent medical significance, and can be written off as a “normal variant,” and safely ignored." I know I'm a variant, but normal? Hehe.

Perhaps that’s why I’ve been feeling half-hearted lately. . .

Nicotine oh how I love you

Nicotine you give great dreams

You’re always there when I need a friend

Your smoke clouds the cares that nag at me

Nicotine you plug into the receptacles

Giving me pleasure

Killing me so



Lifting my woes

Prodding me on

Oh, nicotine how I abhor you

Your powerful pull makes me feel weak

Without you I want to burst at the seams

For now I’ll use replacements

To get your kick, your dreams

Until I can begin to let you go

Leave you behind

Like a long lost lover

Say goodbye to our life-long affair

Nicotine you’ve always been there for me

Nicotine you’re killing me.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Fix a flat under a nearly full moon

Heading home from yoga I got the call. Stuck on the side of the road. A can of Fix-a-Flat and my cheap plastic inflater later, we managed to limp down the road and leave the truck at the local repair. The tire was smokin' when we finally got there. My circus travels have schooled me well.

Funny thing thinking back now, was the guy at the CVS where I bought the Fix-a-Flat. He asked how I was doing and I replied, "I'll give you one guess," as I handed him the can. Didn't phase him as he continued the checkout and stuffed it into a plastic bag. Hmm, I thought, I really don't need this bag as I handed it back, and this guy? He's asleep at the wheel. Like a robot he was. . . eerie.

Earlier in the day this I saw this when I stopped at the local gas station.
This little piggie goes to market?
Wild boar anyone?

Monday, September 24, 2007

Tie Dye *LOVE*

Elise & Lynn went to a flagger tie dye workshop taught by Phillip.

Ooooh, the black light reactive dyes took our breath away. Although it was a drizzly day our bright colors shone. The commaraderie was fun to share.

Phillip's creative spark inspired our own.

Each beautiful finished work a peek at our souls.

Looking forward to finishing our flags and waving them proud.

Thanks Ben for hooking us up!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

UF Taser incident

This incident made my stomach turn and my eyes tear. Obviously the guy was well read and passionate about the questions he was asking, and excited at the opportunity to do so. I work in an adult psych unit and watch as mental health techs and nurses handle far more violent, psychotic people without the use of tasers or physical restraint. Had they simply stepped away from him and allowed him to finish his thoughts it would not have turned into a display of force. John Kerry did acknowledge him and was going to answer. The UF police use of force caused the incident to escalate. What is even more upsetting is that everyone in that room sat and watched as he was brutally tasered at close range. This is unconscionable. It could have been you. UF needs to address this and never allow it to happen again. More power to the passionate among us that dare to ask difficult questions.

Peaceful means are scientifically proven. Take a lesson UF. Perhaps if the school spent more funding on the arts and non-violent intervention rather than the win-lose mentality of sports this type of thing would not happen. Sad, sad, day, in my humble opinion. Let's hope we learn from this.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Face time

"Art is our one true global language. It knows no nation. It favors no race. It acknowledges no class. It speaks to our need to heal, reveal and transform. It transcends our ordinary lives and lets us imagine what is possible. It creates a dialogue between individuals, and communication between communities. It allows us to see and to listen to each other."
Richard Kamler

Came across this blog poking fun at the war protesters because it had the word circus in it. (The word circus hasn't always been used so disparagingly.) Granted, the protesters are not pro musicians in this case, but everyday humans raising their voices in song, letting loose rhythms in time to their heartbeats, dramatizing atrocities lightheartedly, perhaps because the pain of it all is too much to bear if you take it seriously. Maybe if we didn’t spend the trillions of dollars on warfare we could better learn how to sing, play music and perform theater. Hmm, what would the world would be like if instead of bombs and militia we had songs and festive gatherings? Surrounded ourselves with artworks, statues, paintings, beauty?

If we choose to support conflict instead of peace, we get what we buy. Must you respond so negatively? Isn’t there just a tiny space in your brain to begin to think differently? To embrace others voices and hear what’s at the heart of it all? To envision a kinder gentler world as this president’s father once said? There is such anger in the air these days. People respond so heartlessly and spew cruelties upon hearing or seeing another point of view. Anger is a cover for pain. What is this pain we are feeling? Perhaps dialogue is the answer. But instead we bury ourselves in thankless work, the incessant drive for more and more money, leaving loved ones behind and there is no face time left. We peer into our computers and televisions instead of into each others eyes. We change the channel instead of considering a differing point of view. We have 60 second opinions like the newscasters we’ve been listening to. There is no depth. No deeper thought than the 1 minute commercials we’ve been brainwashed by.

Whew, I just had to let that loose.

Melanie and son BeauJarred Schekeryk 2007

On a kinder, gentler note. I also came across this petition to put “Melanie” into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I visited there once and it is a fine testament to the power of music and its influence on our history. I’d like to see her included. Here’s the link, decide for yourself.

Peace out,


p.s. - As I searched online for the author of the first quote I was stunned. It comes from an artist speaking exactly to what I just wrote. Here's a clip and a link. I suddenly feel a little less alone.

I want to introduce you to Seeing Peace.

Former Secretary of Defense of the United States, Robert McNamara, commenting on wars of the 20th century, wrote:

"In retrospect, we can now understand these catastrophes for what they were: essentially the products of a failure of the imagination."

Seeing Peace was born out of an understanding that this failure of the imagination is the missing link in most institutional responses to conflict and hostility in the world. That without the imagination, without the ability to "think outside the box," without a vision from our creative community, our responses to war and aggression will only institute more wars and aggressions.
Seeing Peace intends to rectify this by bringing the artist to the table. We intend to manifest a forum where the imagination is not only present, but is an active participant in the process of envisioning peace.

In traditional societies art was integral to the community. Essential to its survival. The artist was considered an important part of the community. Artists were looked at to shape the community as creative life and for their imaginative input during times of stress or simply when all leaders came to the table to discuss issues of concern.

The artist was invited and came to the table.

Seeing Peace presents a vision. The act of creation marks a victory over destruction and death.
We celebrate the artist at the table.

See Peace.

Richard Kamler

But I do believe in the power of art to change consciousness. And I know that the simple persistence and the will to go on working, declaring oneself visible and accountable is the only sure practice through which we can live and keep alive our goals and visions.

- Arlene Raven

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pangea Day

Echoing peace into the future through the power of film worldwide.

TED is a conference I first learned of through Charles Fleischer. (Be his myspace friend) I met him in LA when I was helping Shelly Ladd raise funds for her retired research primate sanctuary, Mindy’s Memory.

After his standup bit he donated for the cause, we ran into him at a restaurant next door as he was huddled over his papers searching for clues to the mathematical problems called Moleeds he’s been calculating for years. You may know of him as the voice of Roger Rabbit. He’s also a digital artist, musician, actor, poet and stream of consciousness comedian. He told me of his excitement at performing for TED. I’m heartened to know that the brightest minds in our time are working towards a better world cooperatively. One of these people is Jehane Noujaim. Each year TED awards funding for several projects and hers is one that speaks to world peace. You can see her presentation here and learn more about it.
Learn about submitting a film here.
Spread TED.

As I post my videos online I wonder what effect I will have as they sear into others brains. I hope that I can open people’s eyes and minds to thinking and believing in the possibility of world peace. No small feat, but nor is it insurmountable. Not with the power of video in the independent hands of everyone so that we can see for ourselves, once and for all that we really are all one people, on one planet, and our differences are not worth fighting over.

Peace, yes. With the hearts and minds of people like these I truly believe it is on its way.

Don’t you?

Charles' Art

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

All we are saying. . . .

is give Peace a chance.

The Peace Alliance
presented an entertaining and informative production on Monday. It brought me to tears. It seems so simple to me, to choose peace. I went to my legislators websites to encourage them to support HR 808 a bill to establish a United States Department of Peace.

A Department of Peace will work to:
-- Provide much-needed assistance to efforts by city, county, and state governments in coordinating existing programs; as well as develop new programs based on best practices nationally

-- Teach violence prevention and mediation to America's school children

-- Effectively treat and dismantle gang psychology

-- Rehabilitate the prison population

-- Build peace-making efforts among conflicting cultures both here and abroad

-- Support our military with complementary approaches to peace-building.

-- Create and administer a U.S. Peace Academy, acting as a sister organization to the U.S. Military Academy.

-- And more…

When I submitted the form it asked what my request was regarding. There were 45 subjects listed - such as:
Homeland security
Military academies
War in Iraq
War on Terror

but not even the word peace. Hmmm, yeah, I think it's time it was an option. Violence is a learned behavior and can be unlearned given the resources and attention. Would you consider giving it yours?

It only took me about 10 minutes to let my legislators know. Click here to learn more and let yours know too.

"More than an end to war,
we want an end to the beginnings of all war."
Franklin Roosevelt

Heartfelt thanks,