Tuesday, October 27, 2009

monocycle wonderland

It's that time of year again! Salt Lake got its first snow this morning. About two inches of it. It was a nice surprise to wake up to. Got me to thinking about how I coped with the snow last year. Well, at first I was discouraged. "How the heck are you supposed to unicycle when it's snowing?!?" Hmmm, I thought. "Maybe I'm crazy, but I could unicycle on the snow". So I rallied up my buddy Irwin, and headed for Brighton, one of Utah's many massive ski resorts. We walked up to the ski lift as casually as possible, unicycles in tow, and attempted to board. No passes, and no boards or skis. A shot in the dark at best. We were hoping to get by on amusement factor alone. Yeah, fat chance. We got shot down without a blink of the eye. That sucks, you're thinking. Well yes, but not really. Only one resort in the area actually owns the mountain their lifts are on, and that's Snowbird. The lift attendant actually told us we could hike the mountain if we wanted, since BLM actually owned the land, and Brighton just leased it. They just own the lifts and lodges.
So, off we went. Trudging up a relentless, unforgiving mountain. Of course, I'm in sneakers, since they're better to unicycle in. I cringed like a cat every time my feet broke through the groomed trail, and snow poured into the sides of my shoes. So we hiked, and hiked, and hiked some more. finally we made it to the bottom of the board park which is about the 3/4 point of the mountain. Good enough.
We had experimented at the bottom of the hill a bit, so we knew we could stay up on the most frequently skied parts of the groomed trails. But, we hadn't accounted for one important factor. The grade of the slope. I can ride down a pretty steep hill, probably steeper than you think. But there is one essential factor in that endeavor. Braking power, or pedal resistance. A unicycle can only go so fast. When riding a dirt hill, once going fast enough the pedals will just throw your feet right off unless you can give resistance, and slow to a manageable pace. On a snow hill there's no grip, and consequently no braking. On the steepest hills we attempted, we'd hit max speed in about 10 feet, and the unicycle would just slide right out from underneath, and there'd be me, dumped on my ass.
It wasn't all bad though. On medium grade hills, we'd hit max pedal velocity, and the slant of the hillside combined with the lack of grip would give another few mph to the equation. Basically, from the spectators point of view, it would appear that we were riding geared unicycles since we were going faster than we were pedaling. Pretty much skiing on a rotating wheel. Lots of fun. Since modern trail and trick unicycles come with a heavily treaded squared out tire, carving was completely attainable. Just lean into the turn and the tire edge digs in. Neat!
Eventually, we acquired larger diameter tires, and went back to really conquer the mountain. We did too! A 24" tire is very effective on the snow hill. It made for less walking, and more enjoyment. If you want to see some footage of the snow riding, just check out my unicycle video on youtube. The last clip of the video is some epic air off of a snow burm. You'll like it.
Well, thanks for checking in on Danger's Circus Adventures. Don't be a stranger!
video

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fire Fire and more Fire...

Danger's the name, and fire's my game. As of late anyway. Over the past few months I've fazed myself out of Cirkus Pandemonium, and been more active with Incendiary Circus. To be honest, it's a little bit scary being out on my own in the realm of traditional circus. Incendiary is presenting a diverse spread of fire related gigs, but I'm pretty much on my own with everything else.
I've got a lot of credit to give to Pandemonium. Two and a half years of job security is the most I've ever had at any job. So fire it is for now... I guess I don't mind though. Fire is very popular and progressive these days. There's definitely business to be had.
The last couple of Fridays I've been fire spinning for tips along with my friend Ryan at a haunted house known as Castle of Chaos. It's tough work considering that it's just the two of us spinning back to back for hours at a time. Not only that, but in order to actually make money, you have to talk the crowd up to get them into the tipping mood. I could do circus tricks all day with no problem, but getting the crowd to openly appreciate you is truly the biggest challenge. It gives me great amounts of respect for professional street performers.
Over the years I've been witness to some really excellent street shows, and one thing I've learned is that it doesn't even matter what you do, so long as you can talk the crowd into the palm of your hand. This is an art in itself. Sounds kind of like business, doesn't it? Make your approach, create a point of relation, toss your pitch, and cross your fingers.
So I'm growing up in the way of refining the art I love so much. Business I'll make it, and success, I'll take it. Cheers to chasing your dreams. Tune in next time!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Autumn Lull...

Well, that time of year has come again. That's right, it's fall time. If you're a circus performer, this could mean one of two things for you. Either you're auditioning and training with a new show, or you're experiencing the lull that happens amongst the physical arts every fall. Seeing how I work mostly no contract shows, I stand with the latter.
This is not all bad though. In my current scenario, opportunity is presented by said lull. Early in the summer, I found out that my son, and his mother were planning to move out to California. She wanted to be outside of Utah and close to her brother. Seeing how I've not been a full-time dad at any point in Hazes life, I did what I usually do. I let her know that I support her decision. Well, when I asked myself whether or not I was truly ok with this, I came up conflicted. Although I'm still learning how to do it, I do desire to be a dad. It took a long time to come to terms with this, but I do. So I put out my manifestation to the universe... "please please enable me to be a part of my sons life...". They left town, and I waited for an answer.
Whether or not I played influence, I don't know. But, they came back. Oh, and grateful I was! So came the time for me to step into Daddy's shoes. and I am. Every Saturday(and any other day I desire, or am needed) I take Haze for the day. Last week we went to Millcreek Canyon to go hiking. What a blast! He was romping up grades I thought I'd need to help on, and keeping me on the catch-up! It's incredibly amazing watching this boy grow and develop. What a blessing!
His Mom and Grandma deserve sooooo much credit. They've put forth more focused dedication than I've ever applied to anything in my life. I am eternally indebted... They are truly my angels. Now it's my turn to step up to the plate and serve someone other than myself. Gladly I say, Gladly...
This is the circus that is my life! Stay tuned! -Michael David O'Connor

Monday, September 14, 2009

paying bills while hanging 40 feet high with no net

So, a question that seems to follow me around is "does it pay the rent?". Well, sometimes it does sometimes it doesn't. I would say that during the hot spots throughout the year, my bills are easily covered by circus performance alone. Holidays, community events, corporate parties... these are the things that I thrive on. Lately my bookings have brought me aerial gigs for the most part. everyone wants their own little 'cirque' party, and what better to set the scene than a mysterious man in flowing fabric above your head. It's kind of an easy 'in' when it comes to making the performers cut, and has been for almost two years.
I first got my start with aerial climbing in late spring of 2007. My first teacher was Autumn Augustus, who is also the creator and life blood behind Cirkus Pandemonium. Autumn saw my potential before anyone else, and jumped on the opportunity to lead me on the path to proficiency. Just like 95% of the populace, i was very reluctant to climb into the air, knot myself up and let go, falling into the hands of a brilliantly red poly-fiber ribbon. Those first moments, sitting in a cradle of silk trying to let go, were simply frightening. To be honest, I learned very little in the privacy of practice. It took the pressure of putting myself out there in front of an audience for me to really progress.
I look back on those days, and wonder how I made it through without killing myself. I was simply driven by the essence of my nick-name, Danger. Even now, I occasionally look down from above, in the midst of some high profile gig, and wonder if I have the guts to perform from my heart. Trusting that my training has provided me with the safety precautions necessary to keep me aloft, and in good health. It's like a lover, reeling me in, caressing me, whispering assurances... I trust thee, my love.
The question I ask you today, reader, is 'have you given yourself to passion? to trust?'. For the love of it is the only true reason to do anything, but it sure is nice when it pays the bills too...
Tune in next time, as I lead you on an elephant ride through the circus world. Ciao!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

One wheeled days, and one wheeled nights...

At this point in my life, I'm realizing that we are all dominated by something to some degree or other. Whether we realize this or not, we all make the internal choices that define whether our fixations follow a positive or negative path. It's our choice. Well, I choose the unicycle as my fixation(one of them anyway).
Since I discovered it, unicycling has broken down many personal barriers within me. It literally altered my synapse patterns to enable furthered progress. Everything we do affects us in this way, but unicycling inspired love in me. One wheel on a frame, with a seat and pedals. It broke the barrier between motor skills and emotion in a most eloquent way. Centering me...
A large part of the appeal for me is simplicity enhanced by imagination. The possibilities are endless. Ride down the street, or ride down a mountain. twirl in circles, or hop up onto a ledge, balancing precariously, yet strangely at ease... I think I'm hooked.
till next time...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Enter the Blog...

Oh where to start. oh, i know... thank you so much for your generosity David Nojaim. for all the rest of you, the story behind that goes like this... After 5 years away from home, my sister called me up threatening to strangle me if i didn't come home for her wedding(ok maybe i exaggerated that a little bit). So i did. my mom and dad ever so graciously payed for my flight and tux. throughout the bar fueled madness i experienced with my siblings i ran into my freshman spanish teacher, mr. nojaim(i think i'm supposed to call him david now...) out at the bar. he was dancing with a beautiful latin woman with no worries in the world(must be the surplus of spanish pick-up lines in his repetouire). my mom still keeps regular contact with david and invited him to dinner at my grandma's place. we talked about travels and the circus experience, and it was brought up that he had an offer to present me with. i said shoot... so he tells me that if i am willing to keep a regular blog on my circus adventures, that he would give me a laptop to enable such. did i accept? well duh you're reading my first blog entitled danger's circus adventures... so there it is. thanks to the generous nature of and old friend and mentor, i have now fully entered the ranks of the technological generation. that's right... i can go on down to the local coffee joint and plug my brain into the intra-net and work on blogging while i drink coffee to the point of jitters. wee-hoo! roll out the red carpet baby!
so, keep yourselves tuned in to my life as a performer right here on this blog(man, that sounds weird... bloooooogggg... :)) till next time, -Mike Danger