August 22, 2009

Pictures from TV Commercial

Today I received some pictures from the commercial shoot that I participated in last month in Kansas City. Here are some of them:

Discussing how the shoot will go

Greg, Don, Tina, Terry, Karen, Dave, Toto, & Benny

Terry, on his tiny bike

Don, stuffed into the trunk

Must have been a good take

Catching my suitcase

As the car approaches the parking lot

And my odd favorite:

It was a lot of fun hanging with the clowns, and just as much fun with the filming crew. Some dressed as clowns for the day, others had on weird clown ties, etc. All in a day's work.


Report on the L.O.L. Tour

It is always nice to be home. Back to my family, my motorcycle, my hometown. However, this last tour was one of my favorites.

I travelled with Randy Christensen and Ben Christensen, and we toured for 12 days performing the L.O.L. Tour. Some have asked what L.O.L. stands for, and it is an abbreviation of "Laugh Out Loud" that people use when sending text messages from their cell phones. It was chosen as the title of this particular show because of its simplicity and how well it fit the description of our show.

Randy started planning this tour last year, and we rehearsed a few times, putting the individual elements together that would eventually become the show.

A few months back we "tested" it in Brainerd, MN., and it was met with great response from the audience and the sponsoring group.

On August 10th I drove over to Willmar, Minnesota to do the final run throughs, and then on Tuesday morning we set out driving, headed to our first show at Calvary Temple in Springfield, Illinois.

On our way, we made a short stop in Wisconsin Dells to play 18 holes of miniature golf. The scores fluctuated throughout the game, but Ben & I tied our scores. (to be continued...)
Randy, Ben & Don, after Golf: Round One

The first show in Springfield was on August 12th, primarily to a kid audience. Even with a couple of tiny rough parts in the show, it went really well.

The format of the show is that Ben, Randy & I all do our specialties, and throughout the show we combine our talents into complete routines, such as the ring juggling, diabolo and the finale. The show consisted of various routines involving mime, ball juggling, ring juggling, ventriloquism, slapstick physical humor, stand-up comedy, unicycles, diabolo juggling, magic illusions, plate spinning and really tall chair balancing (still makes me nervous every time). Randy does a Gospel presentation at the 3/4 mark of the show, and then we come back for the big finale. The show runs about 90 minutes, and was very well received by everyone.

For our second show, we drove up to Bloomington-Normal, Illinois, and played to a full house of really excited people at First Assembly, finishing the show with a standing ovation. Before the show, Ben & I borrowed our host's bikes and took a 2 mile trip and picked up a couple of geocaches.
Ben & Don getting exercise

While in Bloomington, Randy & Ben went to visit the historical Lincoln Museum. I was feeling a little antsy that day and was worried about standing around in a museum, so I went and geocached at Washington Park.

We then had a couple of days before the next show, so we made another quick stop in the Dells, played another 18 holes (to break the tie, of course), and once again Ben & I tied each other's scores.

Don, Ben & Randy, after Golf: Round Two

We then went over and visited the House on the Rock Museum. I highly encourage everyone to see this place. It is not only a house, but one of the most eccentric collections of amazing things ever gathered under one roof (actually multiple buildings). The house is amazing, but the museum was filled with incredible one-of-a-kind things.

The third show was at the Assembly of God church in Necedah, Wisconsin, pastored by Randy's brother. Not sure of what the attendance would be at the program, everyone was very happy when the sanctuary packed completely full at showtime. The laughter was especially loud and strong during this show, and the adrenaline was a rush to all of us performers. Maybe too much for Randy, as he threw his back out during a strenuous mime piece, called "Pop Machine".

We stayed in Necedah for two days, living in the Christensen's RV. It was very comfortable, but I felt bad that I kept Ben awake with my snoring.

We made a trip to Circus World in Baraboo, and saw some great shows, and met up with another clown from Minnesota, Neal "Roger" Skoy. He was a funny guy, and we enjoyed our short visit with him while there.

"Roger" and Don, after the Circus Show

While in Necedah, Ben & I borrowed two bikes again to ride around town and explore. We ended up finding a geocache on an army tank in town, but realized it was the only cache in this very scenic town.

So we assembled our own cache, filled it with official L.O.L. merchandise, and hid it right near the church that we performed at. It was found later the next day.

As we left Necedah, we took a detour into the Dells again, but this time so that Randy could have his back looked at/taken care of. Of course, Ben & I had to break our tie in mini golf during Randy's appointment. We played at Adventure Falls, and as you can see by the picture, I came out the victor.

We drove over to Crosspoint Church in Portage, WI., and performed to another full house, and finished once again with a standing ovation.

Our last performance was at Celebration Church in Green Bay, where Randy was once the children's pastor. The current senior pastor is Mark Gungor, with whom I travelled with a few years back during his "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" conferences. This was our largest audience on this tour, with approximately 700 people filling the main sanctuary.

Our Travel-Mobile, now officially a "Cash for Clunkers" recipient

On our way home to Minnesota, Randy's van started having trouble getting into 3rd gear. We stopped to add transmission fluid, but it didn't need it. So we drove the last 2 hours at 40 mph. Getting bored, I resorted to making craft projects out of anything I could find in the van. Hence, this photo of with a clothespin picture frame. (It was a looonnnnggggg 2 hours)

The "L.O.L. Tour" was not meant to be evangelistic, and the message was a clear Gospel presentation by Randy, so I really have no numbers of decisions made during the tour. It was a great time to spend performing with 2 of my best friends, doing what we like best: sharing the joy of being a Christian with those that are willing to spend an evening with us.

It was a great tour. Ben & Randy are both such great performers, and it seems that all three of us think the same about what the program should be. It was a stress-free tour for me, and we all returned home safe and sound.


August 7, 2009

From Unicycles to Motorcycle(s)

When I was 16 years old I took a motorcycle safety course in Minneapolis and took the exam to get my motorcycle permit. I passed, and drove around Minneapolis for about a week. Knowing little about motorcycles I forgot to check the oil level and burned out the engine of my cool little Kawasaki 90:

Well, it's been 28 years and I've always wanted to get another "bike" to travel around home with. After mentioning it off & on for the last few weeks, my wife, Deb, simply said, "You're not getting any younger. Go get one."

So I started looking online for the right cycle. Not too big, but not so small that I would be disappointed in a month that it can't go where I want to go.

I checked eBay, Motorcycle Trader and Craig's List. I knew my parameters: must be able to maintain 55 mph in case I go on a highway, must be able to safely carry one other passenger, must be less than $1000.00 and must be in good/great condition.

After narrowing it down to 2 different cycles, and with feedback from my brother and father-in-law, I decided to purchase a 1982 Yamaha 400 Seca from a young man that was getting ready to ship off to basic training for the Navy.

It is a great cycle, but needs new tires and a basic overall check-up before I totally trust taking it out on the open road.

We made the drive to Rush City, MN, to find new helmets for us. Dennis Kirk is the largest supplier of after market cycle and snowmobile parts in the country. We found two nice helmets at a great price.
While the cycle is in for it's exam, Debbie & I went this morning for our motorcycle permit tests. We both passed with almost perfect scores.

The cycle should be ready for us by Wednesday. Sadly, I will be gone on tour until August 20th, so Deb will get to test it out while I am gone. I'll get my opportunity when I return.

Anyone else have a cycle and want to go riding some afternoon, please call me after the 20th of August. And my goal, if at all possible, is to avoid interstate highways and explore all the back roads of east central Minnesota.

Watch for us, wave and smile as we go by.