Saturday, August 15, 2009

One of the More Decent Shows on Earth

Lately, I’ve been winning a lot of small things off of Twitter. Starting from the most minor stuff, I got some custom stickers from a graphic designer I was following, followed by three Rock Band songs from Pepsi, a free KFC meal from Oprah an advance copy of Muramasa: The Demon Blade for Wii from Ignition Entertainment and lastly four free tickets to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus.

While I don’t consider myself an incredibly lucky person, I feel like all the recent Twitter winnings are more a result from corporations not really understanding the “actual” size of social network websites and trying to bank on the so-called popularity based on all the media hype. While it’s true there are 12 million accounts on Twitter, only five percent of them have over 100 messages written while all the rest are just fairly dead. I’m pretty sure I was only among a handful of people who entered the majority of the given contests.

Which leads me in to this blog post, when I won a set of four forty dollar tickets to the Circus at Coney Island. After writing a fairly negative post on Coney Island, I was auto-followed by their respective Twitter account, I followed back figuring it could help me figure out some cheap-ish things to do on one of those many lazy Sundays. One post in particular, directed me to the “ Be a Circus Supermom” contest; it entailed retweeting a post on the account and then sending them an e-mail with your Twitter username. I half sarcastically entered, only to receive notification that I won tickets a couple of days later.

After gathering together a few friends (all of whom have been drawn on this blog at one point or another) who could make it to Coney Island on a few days notice and working around my work schedule (I wouldn’t really want to bring my laptop to the circus) I was ready to go with my expectations set fairly low for the place. The initial e-mail suggested coming in a bit early to get the tickets from the booth, which was an ample excuse to hang out and to check out the cold dead corpse of what used to be the amusement capital of New York City (there’s a billboard for the dumpy Playland amusement part right by Nathan’s now, for god’s sake).

While it’s unfortunate that Astro Land is no longer the centerpiece of Coney Island, a lot of the carnival themed businesses that surrounded the location still remain in tact. Including picking up. Also, I was surprised to see that many of the rides at Astro Land are still running after being rented out by independent vendors, while I know it will inevitably be taken down, its still comforting in a way as if the apocalypse has been delayed by a couple of years or so despite the entire sleazy post-apocalyptic vibe that Coney Island has ALWAYS had.

So I ate a Corn Dog at Nathan’s and got some Banana soft serve Ice Cream over at the neighboring Denny’s Delight and then went over to the ticket booth. Getting the tickets was fairly painless after a quick flash of my Driver’s license. We arrived a couple of minutes late to the actual 7 o’clock showing but they seemed to keep the opening pretty low key, mostly of a clown whistling and amping up the audience.

Granted, most of the circus came off as pretty low-key, this is the second circus I’ve seen, and it could have easily been just the novelty of seeing it the first time when I was six or something but I found the experience just a bit underhwhelming.

Most of the acrobatics while very impressive where spread out pretty thinly among some underwhelming comedy bits and a few shows that were just completely unimpressive; mainly a troupe of trained dachshunds that could jump over six inch bridges, I’ve seen more impressive stunts at dog shows on Animal Planet. Luckily, all the cool stuff is in the YouTube trailer, including some things, such as Zebras that never actually made it into the show.

My other issue with the circus, was that the entire performance seemed biased towards the center while the left and right sides got the bum-end (literally) of the spectacle. Mainly, then they had a group of trained elephants form a congo line of sorts, they did this trick twice and both of the times I had nothing to really look at besides a few elephant asses forming a pose that may look a bit objectionable in an Animal Planet sense of the word.

My entire disappointment could be more a result of a lack of revenue for the circus, greatly crippling the gimmicky thrills of “The Greatest Show on Earth”, the entire tent was less than a quarter full and the ticket booth seemed relatively vacant thirty minutes before the performance. This could be either a sign of a recession or more a sign of the times, where greater spectacle can be viewed on the internet for free at your own convenience.

Don’t get me wrong, I plenty enjoyed some of the more low-grade thrills such as a man on a foot-long bike run it through a flaming hoop, and I thought the bit with the White Tigers was quite novel but I can’t say had I paid the forty dollars that I would have walked out satisfied and considering the fact that the entire circus thing is dying down, its probably a good idea to take a small child to it because I can’t really imagine the type of entertainment lasting that many more years.

Still, I greatly appreciated the free tickets that they hooked me up with and it made for a great night with my friends, just, if given the choice, I’d probably have more fun spending a few nights at the movies with the figurative amount of money.

Also, I’m working on another Facebook friend post, with ten days until I’m back at Pratt, time is starting to run a bit fast now.
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