No longer the greatest show on earth

Let’s go to the circus!

Actually, we went last week, but what with all these computer issues I’ve been having, I haven’t been able to post it until today. Ah well.

First let me preface this post with the fact that I love free stuff. So free tickets at work? I’m all about it. (I remember all the free glasses – both the margarita and regular tall cup kind – that I had to lug from the AAJA convention to Maui, then back to Oahu, then to the mainland because Trinity is the same way.) So last week, I decided to ask my friend Iliki, her husband Mel (I was maid of honor in their wedding) and their son Xander to go to the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey show at Staples Center. Dude, not only were the tickets free, they were for the company box!

Dude! The company suite is – well, sweet! We reclined on comfy leather seats (that Xander climbed all over), separated by glass from other suite occupants. In the inner sanctum, there was a variety of cups, fresh plastic utensils, ice (in a freezer) and napkins for our exclusive use. Plus a coach and some comfy chairs to lounge in during intermission. Sweet!

There were some cool aspects to the show. The trapeze artists were cool, and so was the lady who trained her birds to ride on the backs of her cats, and the cats who climbed tall sticks and then jumped!

Watching Xander enjoy the show was pretty cool too. He seemed to have a blast during the flashy portions of the show, but during the more obscure parts – like the trained cats and birds portion – he lost interest.

My favorite portion of the show were the elephants. I love animals in general, but smart, trained animals take the cake. I really don’t believe these animals are badly treated, as some believe – if they were, wouldn’t they attack these humans like other elephants do?

And actually, the elephants are the only redeeming quality of the show. I don’t know what it is anymore – the show has lost some of the magic and fantasy that I fondly remembered when I first saw the show in the parking lot of the Puente Hills Mall. There are no longer anymore lions, tigers or bears – oh my! – no bearded ladies, not even a ring! I think an LAT special correspondent, Jay Fernandez, caught the changed vibe perfectly:

Ringling Bros.’ appeal was its stubbornly old-fashioned charm, its delightful invitation to bask in the simple wonder evoked by exotic animals and even stranger human beings performing odd feats. But in an effort to compete with both its young audience members’ ludicrously high expectations (and short attention spans) and competing shows in the Vegas/Cirque du Soleil mold, the beloved circus has lost part of its soul.The well-trained performers remain committed, but the show is now so over-produced it makes the Oscar telecast seem like an Arctic Monkeys gig. They’ve also grafted a narrative onto the proceedings ‚Äî about a family of four who are given the opportunity to realize their circus dreams ‚Äî that feels forced and undercuts the more naturalistic controlled chaos that seemed to define previous incarnations of the show.

Yep. That’s how I felt.