Despite planning all year for this, it was still a rush at the end. I'd been thinking of building props for this year's Parker Doodlebug Show at Calaway Park, on the outskirts of Calgary. I'd been writing routines, practicing a few new magic tricks and making all the odds and sods that would make this show better than last year's.
Anyway, Parker Doodlebug's Patented Aether Flatulator was going well right up until a couple of days before the show. The problem was trying to get a good resonant fart sound out of the thing. My air tank (not the compressor, mind you) has no limiter so the air was coming out full-force and, well, whoopee cushions are not designed to withstand the rigors of building-site compressed air.
Or more 'pop', actually.
I glued, cut, siliconed and strapped things into place again but the bottom line is that when you want a good rude noise it's surprisingly difficult to manufacture at will.
Anyone have any ideas of a solution? Must be air-powered. I was thinking of making my own large-scale whoopee cushion but can't work out what to use for it.
So on Wednesday I took a car full of ridiculous gadgets to Calaway and unveiled it all, including the bladder cannon.
And what fun that was. The bladder cannon was even more successful than I'd hoped for. The balloon kept growing and growing far beyond what I'd anticipated, and when it blew...whew! Shards of latex at my feet. Boom. Not pop.
So it's back to the drawing board for the flatulator, but the bladder cannon is working fine.
Finally! I can't tell you how long I've been mulling this idea over. The magic routine that goes along with this gadget has been in the works since last summer and here I am only days away from doing the routine on stage for the first time, and I've finally finished the prop.
This of course is a Bladder Cannon, not to be confused with Parker Doodlebug's Patented Aether Flatulator which (in spite of a few technical difficulties) has been up and running for a couple of weeks now.
What does it do? Depends on how technical you want to get. As far as the routine is concerned, it gathers particulated aether in a latex bladder until it reaches critical mass and is released towards its intended target, disintegrating an item even hidden between two protective layers. In layman's terms, it inflates a balloon until it pops, and in the process blows a hole through the middle of a selected playing card.
My main concern at the moment is the Flatulator - whoopee cushions are apparently not designed to withstand compressed air flow for any significant length of time. Too much fart power in a tank of compressed 'aether', it would appear. Repairs are in progress.
All of this comes to a head on Wednesday at Calaway Park when Parker Doodlebug takes the stage for the first time this season. It's a brand new show and frankly I'm a little concerned about the bugs that will inevitably appear during the first few shows.
But hey...I have a bladder cannon to help me handle criticisms.
So last night I put the finishing touches on a prop for Parker Doodlebug's upcoming stage shows. Please put your hands together for...Parker Doodlebug's Patented Aether Flatulator. This is Mark I and a second (larger) version is half finished. Air-powered (hooks up to a compressed air tank. Sorry - 'aether tank'), you point it at a suitable target, pull the trigger and...it farts. That's about it.
Of course during the show it will not 'fart'. That would be unrefined. Instead it will emit staccato bursts of globulated aether or something like that, the point being that it renders objects invisible or, after a particularly fruity burst, disintegrates them.
Frankly it doesn't have to make sense. It's a comedy show.
With today's shows at Calaway Park rained out, I'll be spending a little time trying to get Mark II up and running - a bigger, badder version that will blow up a balloon instead.
Yes, it's belated but then so are most of my blog posts lately. But Happy Canada Day! It was interesting to note that on July 1st there were plenty of Canada Day greetings and posts from Facebook friends - in fact far more than Americans posting about July 4th. Then again... perhaps that's because on Facebook my Canadian friends outnumber the Americans 10:1.
So Canada Day. All the clouds that lower'd upon our house were in the deep bosom of the ocean buried and the previous weeks of rain, rain, rain gave way to glorious sunshine. I spent the morning as Parker Doodlebug entertaining the lineups to get into Heritage Park but they must have had extra ticket staff on duty as the line moved so quickly I practically had to perform walking backwards.
And then an afternoon show at Prince's Island Park which is always the single biggest party in Calgary on that day. Practically shore-to-shore with people, a massive mainstage (hello to Steve Pineo - missed his set but I'm sure it was great) and a smaller family stage in another area where yours truly got to rub elbows and other publicly-acceptable parts with the likes of Dan the One Man Band and Flyin' Bob. Flyin' Bob has a wonderful new opening to his show involving an enormous deep-sea fishing rod and a 15-foot ribbon. I won't spoil it but...it's good.
And then Earl's in the evening doing table magic. Always fun when people are in a festive mood.