Circus circus

(Is "Circus circus" the genus and species name of the common Circle?)

It seems to be a circus weekend.

Kam went to Circus World Museum in Baraboo, WI, where the Ringling Bros. circus used to spend the winter. (Kam suggests, and I agree, that a novel or story about a wintering circus might be really cool, and an interesting contrast to the usual sort of circus story. My suggested title: "The Lion-Tamer in Winter.") While there, Kam learned (among other things) a little about flea circuses; she asked me if they were real, and I thought they were, but I went and did some research and found out the truth about flea circuses. That's an interesting column: Cecil starts by saying that yes, flea circuses were real, and explaining what they were like; this is followed by a detailed rebuttal from a stage magician explaining that in fact flea circuses generally had no fleas whatsoever, but were actually stage-magic shows in which the performer would claim that there were little fleas, too small to be seen, performing the various visible effects. Later, dead fleas (and occasional live fleas) were added to the acts. Cecil then comes back for a nasty re-rebuttal, in which he claims that he knew all that and was just being subtle when he said that flea circuses really did exist. ~Yeah, right.~ If so, he was being way too subtle for me; the original answer gave me the strong impression that he was saying there really were little trained fleas pulling carts and such.

Anyway, other circus-related stuff:

Yesterday, I happened across some juggling video clips with some really astonishing moves. I think the coolest-looking ones to me are the "Six ring pancakes" and "Five club backcrosses into overhead throws," but they're all pretty cool. (And I say that even though the juggler in question, Jason Garfield, has a remarkably arrogant set of pages.)

Last night, Susan and I went to see Cirque Éloize (ell-WAH), another Canadian performing troupe along the lines of Cirque du Soleil, in Berkeley. Some really astonishing stuff; also very funny. And we had third-row seats, maybe 20 feet from the front of the stage. Cool nonstop live music; totally stunning juggling sequences (7-person constantly-shifting passing patterns!); amazing acrobatics (people flying through the air in all manner of ways: leaping into somersaults; being thrown; hanging from trapeze and ring and cords and bars; being hurled from one end of a seesaw when two people jumped on the other end); slapstick comedy; some lovely (and remarkably simple) effects, like a gauzy curtain settling into place, and a six-foot-diameter iron ring rolling in slow majestic circles around the stage. I'm not even going to try to describe it in any detail, but if you get a chance to see it, it's well worth it.

And then I came home and watched the second half of Bring It On, which I'd started to watch earlier in the week but was stymied by a scratched DVD. I mention this in connection with the circus stuff because there was a lot of the same sort of human-powered acrobatics in the cheerleading routines—people being thrown into the air, tumbling, and landing in cool poses. Just amazing to watch.

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