Friday, September 22, 2017

Aspiring Young Master Chefs, Paced by Ringmaster Ramsay, Stir up a Sizzling Good Show ... I Am Happily Hooked ...

So much so, that I actually denied myself the next episode of the compelling Vietnam War, playing the same two-hours, feeling my greater loyalties to these enthused and dedicated and charming young cooks.  I had to see who would be crowned Master Chef.


I was so late in getting hooked on this show, mainly because I avoid all competition shows, save for the circus parts of America's Got Talent.

I guess it was a matter of surfing past the show one night, and being taken by the competitors toiling over their grills.   I loved their enthusiasm for what they were doing. Real non-digital work!  And not another veiled flesh show.  How about that!

Jason Wang, below, was one of my favorites.  So passionately expressive!  Turns out he is a 34-year-old music teacher.   He was one of the three finalists, and well deserved to be there.






Yachecia Holston. eliminated only one week before finale,  was my favorite.  Loved her embracing spirit.  I just discovered she is a minister from Michigan.  Heck, I'd give her pulpit a try.  I bet it sizzles.


Another of my pets was the cool creative showman, Dino Angelo Luciano, a free spirited dancer from Brooklyn who crossed his heart the Catholic way many times..


Why had I resisted the program for so long?  About head master,Gordon Ransay, seen here, center, I remembered trying to watch his Hell's Kitchens, only to give up on what struck me as scripted, the restaurant operations so bad as to feel facial.  Heck, I could have been a master chef in one of those dumps! I make a great mock red potato garlic fry. My no-frills specialty are frozen  stir-fry vegetables over the frying pan.


Gordon and a guest judge are conferring with Dino.  They were obviously impressed, to such a degree that I wondered how the final decision was actually made ... 

But then, came Eboni Henry, below, with a dish so admired by the judges, I got a feeling she was going to be the winner.  But, oh no!  One of her items in the next entree fell apart upon closer examination.  You can feel her heartbreak.


Dino wins!
They loved his daring creativity. But they also loved Jason's, too.  I guess we can only assume the judging was as fair as it could be.


What not to like about Master Chef? First of all, the one-hour programs are ingeniously staged into sections that each move at a good clip, driven by a spirit of intense urgency (the Ramsay factor) at every frame.  There is very little off the off-set stuff that clutters up the other shows, such as footage of home life.  None of such bloat that would keep me away.  The Master Chef cameras stick to the action down on the grills.   Great fast-moving showmanship!  Give an A to all the judges: Gordon Ramsay, Christina Tosi and Aarón Sánchez, for working so well together.

Most of all, to the can-do spirits of the captivating contestants.

I already miss Master Chef.

I see they are re-running an episode next week.  I liked the aspiring grill masters so much, I may tune just to relive old times with them in the kitchen.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Step Right Up, Book Buyers! More Acclaim for Big Top Typewritter Calls for an Old Fashioned Midway Ballyhoo ... Buy Now for only $10!


Update 9/20: Publisher raised the price to $18.50, but Amazon has retained the sale by offering a nearly 50% discount


Three Days Only!  Sale Ends Sunday Midnight! 

Hear what the leading voice in book reviewing says:

 "CIRCUS FANS WILL BE THRILLED TO HEAR ABOUT CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE RINGLING KIND [AS]  THE AUTHOR CELEBRATES THE INDUSTRY'S ACHIEVEMENTS IN PAGES STUDDED WITH REPRODUCTIONS OF POSTERS AND PICTURES OF FAMOUS CIRCUS ACTS ... HIS REVERENCE FOR THE CIRCUS SHOWS ITSELF IN ECSTATIC, OFTEN NOSTALGIC, DESCRIPTIONS OF MEMORABLE PERFORMANCES, AS WHEN HE LONGS TO 'RELIVE THE GLORIOUS AFTERNOON IN 1961 UNDER THE CLYDE BEATTY-COLE BROS. BIG TOP AT RICHMOND, VIRGINIA, WHEN BOOM BOOM BROWNING LEAD THE BAND WITH A JAZZY TINGLE.'... THE CHAPTERS THAT FULFILL THE PROMISE OF THE SUBTITLE SHINE."

 -- Publishers Weekly


THIS WAY TO THE BIG BOOK


ON THE INSIDE, SEE GREAT MOMENTS IN CIRCUS HISTORY ON OUR LIVING PLATFORMS!
SEE FRANCIS BRUNN TAKE ON THE  GREAT RASTELLI IN A JUGGLING SHOWDOWN!   
BEHOLD THE FLABBIEST TEASE IN THE TENT -- MISS OKLAHOMA BEARING ALL! 
SNIFF THE INFAMOUS ELEPHANT DUNG SAMPLER! ... 
WATCH JOHN RINGLING NORTH MAGICALLY REAPPEAR!
 SID KELLNER BLOW HIS TOP UNDER THE BIG TOP!
THE SHOCKING FALL OF KENNETH FELD'S  GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH! 
A RIVETING RINGLING RETURN --
FIVE BROTHERS RELIVE THEIR FINEST HOUR!

THESE AND MANY MORE AMUSING WONDERS
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SALE ENDS SUNDAY! 
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"COMPELLING ... IMMENSELY PERSONABLE ... A THRILLING ROLLER COASTER RIDE THROUGH HIS CAREER AS A WRITER ... BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT THE WORKINGS OF THE CIRCUS INDUSTRY AND THE AUTHOR'S ENCOUNTERS WITH ITS STARS AND SHOWMEN.  A BREEZY PAGE TURNER."
Blasting News




"ENTICING ... INTRIGUING ... PROVOCATIVE ...  ALL, HOWEVER, SHOULD READ BIG TOP TYPEWRITER --- LIKELY A WINNER AS A CONTRIBUTION TO CONTEMPORARY CIRCUS LITERATURE"  
--Herb Ueckert, The Circus Report


"HERE IS A BOOK THAT HITS ALL MY BUTTONS ... THERE IS A CHARISMA TO HAMMARSTROM'S WRITING THAT KEEPS ME WITH HIM ... A UNIQUE TAKE ON CIRCUS AUTOBIOGRAPHY ... HIGHLY ENJOYABLE"  
—  Katharine Kavanagh, Circus Diaries, UK

 


"EYE OPENING ... AMUSING ... ANYTHING BUT YOUR STAID CIRCUS STORY ...   HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FOR READERS WHO LIKE CIRCUS EXPOSES."
  — Diane Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review


“WORTH A READ FOR THE ENTERTAINMENT VALUE ALONE!”
 Amazon consumer review

This way to the Big Book! ... This Way to the Big Book! ...



"A BOOK WITH GLUE ON THE COVER ... I COULDN’T PUT IT DOWN!”
Douglas McPherson, Circus Mania


"LIKE A GOOD PERFORMANCE, IT ZIPS ALONG AT A GOOD PACE.” 
-- James Royal, American and European circus manager


Hurry!  Hurry!
Price Doubles in Four Days!


Now available on Amazon for $10
Prices may vary with other vendors
249 pages / 95 photographs
Index -- might your name be in it?
(Sorry, peanuts not included) 

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5.18.17 
6.21.17

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ringling Homecoming in Baraboo Gives Circus Alumni an “Electrifying” Show to Remember

 
A couple of months after the official final performance of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey on Long Island, another show that felt to some like the real last show took place in the very town in which the famed circus  was born.  Baraboo.

How I would love to have been there when a tent packed with Ringling alumni, in town for the circus days celebration, were given a private show on the grounds of the Circus World Museum..  

On the eve of the annual Baraboo bash, former Ringling employees shared hugs and tears and cheered ecstatically during the special performance

What a heart warming close to arguably the most famous circus name in the world  – under a small tent not so different in size from the one under which the five Ringling brothers gave their first circus, back in 1884,

Said Circus World executive director Scott O’Donnell to the Baraboo News Republic “So many people who attended said that that show almost meant more to them than the last show of Ringling Brothers ... It was an electrifying night under the big top.”

Ringmaster David SaLoutos and the performers sang and danced between their acts.  As cheers rang through the tent, tears flowed across grateful eyes. At least 16 standing ovations stopped the show during the private performance.

O’Donnell described it, one of the most “raw, emotional” shows he had ever seen.

Can you feel what I feel?

Here is where the Ringling brothers began their legendary ascent to the rise of American circus kings.

And here is where (thank you, circus Gods of the State of Wisconsin), the wonderful  Ringling story and  history will continue to be kept passionately alive for many seasons to come.  There should be a Congressional degree mandating the permanence of Circus World

 “They hooted and hollered — you never felt so much love in your life,” recounted SaLoutos, above, summing up the rapturous reception.  “It was like getting 500 hugs. We were on such a high after that performance I don’t know if anybody slept that night.”

You might say that a circle of history was closed.  The symmetry alone is a beautiful thing.

Au Revoir ...

Baraboo

Ringling

Circus

The Greatest Show on Earth

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Bello Nock Wows America’s Got Talent — Until He Doesn’t ... In the Wider World of Reality TV, a World Acclaimed Circus Star is Just Another Humble Competitor ...


 
The millions who watched Bello perform so winningly on America’s Got Talent would not have known of his world-acclaimed status.. I have a feeling that the show actively recruits circus acts — the better the act, the better to give the programs more variety and thrills.

A few weeks ago during semi-finals, I finally got to catch Bella’s act on the Wheel of Death.  Indeed, to watch the best of Bello (I imagine) for the first time. For, you see, I am now after all these years a  fan of Bello’s unique gifts.  Call it a belated discovery.
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On the big wheel, he ingeniously combined acrobatic dexterity, bravado and comedy to win me over in a big way.  What I liked was how he built his routine, first inside the wheels, and then on the outer rims, cleverly escalating the danger.

The prop itself is one of the best props ever to give the circus an almost guaranteed thrill. One need only ride it and stay aloft to keep any crowd awake and tuned in, cell phones ignored.

And so I had my breakthrough moment with this Bello fellow, whose relatives I remember on Ringling in 1955, atop their tall lean "sway poles," but not really doing much.  Made for great ad copy --- mid air exchanges!  Nothing like what you might be imagining, folks.

I remembered Bello’s early days on Ringling when I could never know where to place him — goofy kid clown?  Lazy daredevil?  I could not find a compelling focus.


On the AGT stage, the judges were wowed. And scared to the pits of their stomachs.  So was the audience. Indeed, what won them over was true danger -- the stark clarity of Bello working with no safety aids. This will only deepen their respect for the genuine and artistic risk-taking performer.  

Alas, the Monte Carlo Gold Clown winner ended up, as eliminations proceeded, being pitted against a roller skating act.  One would stay on. The other would go home.

What an odd pairing.  The judges had expressed possibly more enthusiasm over the skaters. And so I grew anxious.  Could he really lose out to ... the unthinkable ???



I cast my silent vote for Bello.

The judges cast theirs for the skaters   A roller skating act!?!  Bello lost out to a roller skating act!  What a humiliation.  Okay, to its credit, the skaters did more than I usually see in these types of acts.
I have seen so many of the same sort over the years, that I have grown jaded.

I felt such a sadness for Bello, who had to take it, and take it,  graciously he did..

Really, what Bello achieved encompassed many more skills. In my book, there can be no comparison.

What next for this open-minded television show that is  helping to keep alive the ageless lure of ring wizards?  And before not thousands or hundreds – or dozens – but millions.  Doesn't that make you feel good?  It does me. So what next?  Jenny Vidbel's bohemian barnyard?  A young fiery flyer attempting the quad?

Why not? 

Best of all, these judges appear totally free of a tainted bias for the precious Cirque du Soleil school of circus.  It is so satisfying just to watch them react with almost a child like wonder to what passes before their eyes. They are the perfect panel for circus performers of all stripes.  I say, bring more big top on!

The circus has three very good friends in America’s Got Talent. And in this we can take heart.