The Kukowski Chronicle

What's Joe doing now?

Its been a while.

Written By: Joe - Oct• 03•13

I haven’t posted in a while and I have some time so here I am. There is one word to describe Minneapolis, Slow. We started late in the setup. Usually we come in at 8 AM to start setting up the chairs but they delayed us to 1PM. We managed to get all the chairs setup before leaving at 6PM. I headed back to my room and crashed for the night. I spent the rest of the week getting organized and supplied. I spent some time wandering the mall. In fact I have spent a lot of time wandering the mall. Practically every day. That is where I am right now. at the coffee shop in Barns and Nobles in the Mall of America.
Ornamentation was the same as usual. A tour of the site with lots of “You can’t go here”, this time it included the cafeteria. That was a real bummer. It was then followed by “Here is what you have to do”. Not much different there. Corry has introduced to everyone as the Outside usher. That means he gets to wear a radio and do a lot more stuff. The rest of us followers were introduced to the new folk and they were assured that we know what we are doing. I am not so sure about that 🙂 The training ended with the normal fire drill.
After training I headed for the mall. The mall is a very big place. It is decided into 4 sections surrounding an amusement park. Half of it is three stores and the other half is four. Surprisingly, there are only two Starbucks, however there are 5 Caribou Coffee stores. Another surprise I found was the Merrell Shoes store. That is the kind of hiking shoe that I have been wearing for the last several years. My old shoes were getting warn so I stopped by and bough a new pair. It was nice to decided what style I wanted and then get them in the right size instead of finding the right size and then deciding if I liked the type. At about 6 I headed back to the site and got ready for the dress rehearsal that night. Unsurprisingly I was given the position of Door 3 Mast guard. That is arguable the most difficult potion with the possible exception of door seven wheel chair, depending on how many wheel chairs we have. The show went along without a hitch. This city they tried something new and kept everyone in the same potion for opening night as they were in for dress rehearsal. It was nice to have folks with some experience in place. The rest of the weekend went well if a bit slow. I don’t think we have broken 80% attendance yet this run. In fact yesterday was below 50%.
I had gotten a room at the Extended Stay America hotel until the beginning of October. I was able to find a room for rent on Minihaha parkway. It is a basement room in an really nice old duplex, and it came furnished. The house was built early 1900s and is very nice. The only downside is that the bed is a twin. but it is a very nice place and quite comfortable.
I have been spending the time after work hanging out with Cory, Breezy and Becca at bars in the area. There have been some really nice ones. some of the Cirquidors met at a English pub in downtown on Sunday night. That day was the 500 show so the cast and crew had there own party that night without us temps. I am kind of hoping we have a combined one this Sunday. We found a nice Bar/Pool hall/Bowling Alley in the fourth floor of the mall. May end up there Sunday after work. Only opened until midnight though.
Well, it is time to head to work, so more to come later.

And so Minneapolis begins

Written By: Joe - Sep• 19•13

On Tuesday I left home for a trek across two thirds of the country. The days were nice and uneventful. Just the way I like my drives. The first night I stopped at my sister, Annes, house. We met at a local (well, local is a relative term) steak house. After a good steak and eggs, we headed back to Ann and Matts place. They live in a fairly remote location. you have to know where to stand in order to get cell reception and the only internet they get is by dish. After a good nights sleep I got back in the car and headed east. Not much to report over the next two days. Lots of concrete roads and me sitting there. A big thanks to Anne for loaning me those comedy CDs. After I stopped for the night in Dickinson ND, I continued on to Minneapolis, arriving about 6PM local time (That’s 4PM for you folk in Seattle). After unloading the car I headed down the road to the site. It is just a few miles down the road. A stop for dinner and now I sit here typing. Tomorrow I will start work at 1PM.

A very cool day at Cirque, and I wasn’t even working.

Written By: Joe - Aug• 14•13

A week or two ago I was given an opportunity by the head of lighting to shadow the techs for a show. Last night I did it.
I arrived on site and was greeted by “Joe… your not on the list”, so I reminded them why I was there.
My boss took me into the big top and had me sit near one of the doors and reminded me not to sit people. I was OK with that but was twitching when I saw a flash go off. There were a lot of them last night. When Andrew, the tech, got to the booth he set me up with a headset and gave me a brief run down of the equipment.
I had a good time listening in on the comms. There were three things happening at the same time. One comm channel was for the lighting techs (the two follow spots and the booth) and the second was for the stage manager. I was listening to both of them and they sometimes collided with each other. I also noticed a female voice mixed in with all the others. It turned out to be the music director giving ques to the band.
Most of the lighting ques are in time with the music so the tech takes most of his ques from the music director. There are a few that are taken from the stage manager. During the 1000 hands dance the turn table and the Gobo units (lights that swivel and turn) are in sync. This is done the old fashion way of two people hitting a button at the same time when told to.
It was a good night, I was able to watch some talented people doing there job and making the show work. I also didn’t have to keep watching the audience. I had to keep reminding myself that.

Fun, Partys, and theft

Written By: Joe - Aug• 06•13

Yesterday was a fun day. I started the day by going to the Elitch Gardens Theme park. The first thing I did was go to a magic show. It was named “Cirque Conger”. What a coincidence. The show was cheesy but had some good jokes and the tricks were done well. Then I headed for the coasters.
They have some good coasters, including a big wooden one. There was only one coaster that was running and it was the wooden one. That kind of pissed me off. But after a couple of rides on the Twister 2 (the wooden coaster) I was feeling much better. They have some good coasters including several that go backwards. There was also a “suspended looping coaster”, the tracks are over your head and legs are dangling. The safety announcements included the line “keep your hands and legs inside the ride.” How are you supposed to do that?
After spending the day at the park I headed out to dinner and then back to site. The techs were hosting a party and I had been told they held great parties. I was not disappointed. The party had a beach theme so earlier I went out to Goodwill and bought a cheesy Hawaiian shirt. Earlier I had been able to see some of the Cirque site from the Roller Coaster and I had seen a couple of inflatable things like a bouncy house and a slide. They had done much more than that. They had brought in a dump truck load of sand, setup games, including a dunk tank. They had two bars, and a buffet with non alcoholic drinks.
After most people had left the party it was moved over to the 54. That is the name of the tech trailer. I hung out there until about 2:30 when I headed back to my car. That was when I had the bad part of the day happen.
Someone had broken into my car. There was little damage to the car. I think I left the doors unlocked. The only damage was the front of the center dash had been pulled out. I was able to push it right back in. They had also gone through my center console and grabbed the change and the GPS that was in there. The GPS is a pain. I will now have to find out how my cell phone GPS works. I waited about 40 min for the police to show up and then left. I was able to file a police report this morning online. I figure it was a kid grabbing what he could. It could have been much worse.

The first week is done… Whew! Part 2

Written By: Joe - Jul• 23•13

Saturday I was back inside the big top. This time I was placed as Door 3 guard. It was my job to control the flow of people into the big top. For some reason door 3 has been the troublesome door. Every day it has been backed up and we have had to lock people out of the opening of the show. It was no different this time. I did my best to get everyone in an orderly fashion but between new ushers and the shear numbers of people it was tough. The rest of the day was fairly normal.
Sunday I was once again assigned as mast guard at door 4. At the morning briefing the two other people who were tried out as Outside ushers had got the job. In some ways I was disappointed but I was also relieved. That is a lot of responsibility and pressure.Once agian I was assigned mast guard. During the seating I got a load of popcorn dumped on my head by Calie (The lizard who climbs the mast). I looked up at him and he waved. I then looked at the audience and said “Sometimes, I hate that lizard.” It got a good laugh. I am thinking next time I may shake my fist at him.
At intermission the fiancee of the spotlight tech who works that mast came by and told me that he (the tech) really appreciated me being there and at lunch Danial told me the same. He also told the tech “You said the same thing about him in Seattle” apparently he did not realize I was the same guy.
That night was the opening weekend party. We had a section blocked off for us at a local bar called “The view house” apparently it was just recently opened. A part of the bar is on a roof top and has a nice view of the city, thus the name. They have a big area that is fake grass and a volley ball court on it. While I was there the tech came over and told me how appreciative he was of my work. Unfortunately I didn’t get to talk to him much, because one of the other ushers (who was on the prowl) kept pushing me out. The rest of the night was uneventful and I decided to go back to my room about 1:15AM.
there was a little problem though. It turned out that on week nights (and Sunday night is considered a week night) the W-line stops at 1:05. I got on my bike and started riding the trail that parallels the light rail. Denver is wonderful for bike paths and I had come prepared with lights. The ride took about an hour and a half. I did ride through a “rough part of town” yea right. I don’t think Denver has such a thing. I got to the place about 2:45 exhausted. That is a long bike ride. I claimed into bed and did not get out until 2 the next day.
I spent most of Monday lazing around. Ordered Pizza that night for dinner and called Cindy. I let her know how I was doing and we talked for about 1.5 hours. I then went to bed and the next day did laundry (That I am doing now.)
So that catches you up with what has happened so far. Back to the circus tonight and all this week. We have a double dark next week (no show Monday or Tuesday) and I am thinking of going to the mountains.

The first week is done… Whew!

Written By: Joe - Jul• 22•13

The first week of a new town the head ushers try out some of the returning ushers to see if they would would work out as “Outside” usher. That is the usher who is in charge of the ticket takers and other duties outside. I was asked to tryout on Friday.
It started out with being given a radio. Once I had that leash of rank, I was told my other duties. I had to get the OK from all the other departments that they were ready to go and then let them know when I was opening to the doors. I was also responsible for controlling the PA announcements and monitoring the outside ushers.
Once or twice I had to step in to help the other outside ushers when things weren’t working correctly. When the inside house (the main big top) opened I was responsible for opening doors 1 to 4.
Once the show started the outside ushers go on break. When they were all back it was time for intermission.
After intermission I let the other outside ushers go home and took care of the rest of my duties, including filling the wash buckets getting wheel chairs to the right places, and other such things. After the show was over I had to close up the doors and get everything set up for the next day. I finished up just in time to join the other ushers for the end of day debriefing.
I got back to my room after a train and bike ride and fell right into bed and slept the entire night through.

Opening night

Written By: Joe - Jul• 19•13

Last night was the opening of the show in Denver. I don’t know what the numbers were but there were only 5 or 6 sets open in my area, and those are the last ones to be sold. With Corey being places as assistant house manager, I took over his place in seating the handicap folks. Except for a hick-up or two everything went well.
It was at the hoop act that I started to feel like I was back. I felt a big smile on my face and had it there the rest of the night. It took longer to get the sweeping done but we were able to get it done and out of there by 11:15.
It was a great night and I am glad to be back at it. Tonight I am taking the place of Assistant House Manager. Wish me luck.

First full day and Rehersal

Written By: Joe - Jul• 18•13

Yesterday was the first day of work on the show (not counting setup). I started it off by biking to the light rail station. About one mile long and not that bad of a ride. Only one slight “rise”. I got to the site, checked in and locked up my gear. We went through the standard greeting, tour and instructions. There have been a few changes to the show but that is to be expected.
Once the training was over I went over to the nearby service station to get some lunch (I left my lunch in the refrigerator). I got the assignment that I expected, Door 3, mast guard. The place that has to sweep up popcorn after the opening. but before the cell phone warning.
There was only 60% occupancy so it wasn’t too bad on the new folks, but today is the opening and is going to be full. It was really nice to see the show again and I am looking forward to the rest of the run.
After the show I was headed for the station. The trains run only every half hour and I missed the first one. So I waited at the station for about 20 min. When the train showed up it was very full of bikes. I ended up riding in the middle of the train with someone else on a bike.
When I got to my station I started ridding down the street. There were two other people riding down it also. Nether of them had light and were dressed in dark colors. sounds like a death sentence to me. Fortunately, the rode only had a few cars on it. I got to the room about 12:15, watched a bit of TV and went to bed. A good nights sleep and I am ready for opening night.

Well Shoot.

Written By: Joe - Jul• 14•13

Yesterday (July 13) I was planing to travel to Loveland to visit Rita, who was there for an event. Unfortunately when I was getting ready to go I could not find my car keys. I searched all over the suit. I then called the Addeco (the temp agency that hired me) and they could not find it. Unfortunately by the time I got there call back I had already ridden my bike to the train station. Because of maintenance I had to get off the train before my usual stop, so I biked the rest of the way. of course my keys were not there. I biked my way back to the station.
Somewhere I made a wrong turn and ended up riding about 20 blocks south along the river. I then cut back up and rode up the side streets to the station.
About 2 hours later I got back to the room I searched it again and found my keys in the safe place I left them. By that time it was getting late and dark but not because it was sunset.
It started to rain. A lot. It was so bad that there was an emergency flash flood warning.
This morning I went out and did some more shopping. All over the place were signs of the rain. Sand and rocks were all over the roads.
I amazed the stuff that I have to buy to live here.
Tomorrow I get to do laundry.

First day at work

Written By: Joe - Jul• 13•13

Yesterday was my first day at work. It started early. I had set my alarm for 6 but the neighbors got up at 5. After getting ready I headed out and walked the mile to the station. After a nice ride on the light rail I got to the site. It was good to see Amanda, MJ and Danial again.
The day started off by unloading the seats from there transport containers and set them up in the big top. Fortunately we had hired muscle to help. This took about 2 1/2 hours.
After lunch we started attaching the chairs to the bleachers. Although the morning had been a lot of physical work the second half wan a lot of moving, bending and very monotonous.
Once the seats were up, the labor was let go and the rest of us started wiping down the seats.
We were finally let go at 5 PM. I walked to the station and rode the train back. I could feel my back stiffening up. When I got to my station I started the long and slow walk to the hotel. Part way there a thunder storm came along. I hid under a tree.
When I got to the hotel I immodestly crashed on the couch. when I woke up I got some dinner, Raien Brand, I was too tired to do anything more complicated. I spent the rest of the night watching TV and trying not to fall asleep.