Alan Sands Entertainment

 

pop tops and pull tabs

04/23/17 Pop Top Blog

I have been collecting pop tops since my daughter was 15. She just turned 25, so my collection so far has taken me nine years or more. My goal is to collect one million pop tops. I tell people, "I do not expect to have 1,000,000 of anything else in my lifetime and I want to leave something for my daughter." The truth is, I want to show people what one million looks like. I estimate my one million pop tops will fill the back of my pick up truck bed including the camping shell. One million multiplied by one million is one trillion. If our national debt is 19 trillion, then it will take 19 million pick up trucks filled with one million pop tops each to equal our national debt in pop tops.

People tell me they collect them for Ronald McDonald house, and this is honorable, but the value of these pop tops is so little, they might realize the effort is not worth the reward.

May I share some basic statistics with you? To collect 1,000,000 pop tops @ 1,000 a month it will take me 83 years to reach my goal. I am doing much better than this thanks to alcoholics and people who drink a lot of soda pop helping me, but after 9 years, I think I am at about 250,000. Pop tops weigh 10.4 oz. per 1,000. Therefore, my 1,000,000 pop tops will weigh 104,000 ozs. or 650 lbs.

Today's price of Aluminum (April 2017) as a commodity is selling for 88¢ a pound. One million pop tops is worth approx. $574.00 if I got the full commodity price for them.

I know, you are saying they help with dialysis. No, not true. It's a myth.

You say, "the aluminum is far purer than the rest of the can and it is used for hypodermic needles." Also a myth. The aluminum in the pop tops is no different than the can it came from.

Do they help buy wheel chairs in Canada? Yes, but again, the value of the pop tops is far less than one might think and you are far better off donating $10 to the cause of your choice and giving me your pop tops to help me meet my 1,000,000 goal. $10 worth of pop tops at 88¢ a lb. is 11.36 lbs. of pop tops. at 10.4 oz per 1,000 pop tops this is 17,483 pop tops or a little more than four - one gallon milk jugs filled with pop tops.

SNOPES says: (http://www.snopes.com/business/redeem/pulltabs.asp)

Pull Tab Redemption Rumor

Do pull tabs from aluminum cans have special redemption value for time on dialysis machines?

CLAIM: Do pull tabs from aluminum cans have special redemption value for time on dialysis machines.

  FALSE

ORIGINS: A legend this good-hearted should be true. But it’s not. And a lot of really nice people end up sadly disappointed when they eventually discover all their hard work pretty much went for naught.

Pulltabs have no special value that makes them redeemable for time on dialysis machines, or indeed which make them worth far in excess of their ordinary scrap metal recycle value. While a handful of charitable concerns, including McDonald’s Ronald McDonald House and Shriners Hospitals for Children accept donations of can tabs, said tabs fetch such groups no more than the items’ ordinary recycle value of about 10¢ per lb..

 The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) says this of the dialysis rumor that has been dogging them for quite a while:

A false rumor that has plagued the National Kidney Foundation (NKF) and the aluminum industry for decades has recently resurfaced, perhaps fueled by the Internet. Individuals and groups believe they can donate the pull tabs on aluminum cans in exchange for time on a kidney dialysis machine.  Such a program has never existed through the NKF, nor have there ever been programs through the foundation allowing people to exchange any type of item (box tops, product points, etc.) for time on dialysis.

I don’t think anyone is ever going to figure out where what have come to be called “redemption rumors” first came from. The notion of something of little value (pull-tabs, empty cigarette packs) being collected by good-hearted people and then turned over to a public-spirited company who would redeem them for an item that would help the less fortunate (time on a dialysis machine, a wheelchair, a seeing eye  ) goes back a long way — ours is far from the first generation to fall for this canard.

A 2002 article described a common experience with the rumor:

Back when 15-year-old Elizabeth Bohli was in the third grade, she had a friend who had a friend who had leukemia. Word was that the sick girl’s doctor told her about a program in which the Coca-Cola Co. would pay for one chemotherapy session for every 1,000 aluminum pop-tops collected.

Elizabeth remembered that program when her 12-year-old sister, Jenny, was diagnosed with melanoma in September, and a massive collection drive began at Pelham High School. For two months, students, teachers and parents brought in thousands of the tiny aluminum objects.  Soon, other schools were calling, asking how they could donate their pop-tops. Word spread to churches, which eagerly jumped in to help. And one friend told another, and another and another. Since then, the pop-tops campaign has gone, well, a little over the top. As of this week, more than 276,000 had been collected.

But none of that metal will translate into free treatments for Jenny. “It was just an old myth,” she said this week.  Jenny’s mother, Jo, called Coca-Cola recently, feeling as though she held a winning lottery ticket in her hands. Then she asked how she could cash in the pop-tops for money to pay for her daughter’s immunotherapy treatments. At first, there was laughter. Then the voice on the other end told her there’s no such program. 

“She actually laughed because she couldn’t believe that the kids had collected so many,” Bohli said. “To me, it was just so outstanding that these kids made such a fantastic effort to help Jenny.” 

Walker Jones, community relations director for Coca-Cola in Birmingham, said that while the company works with some cancer-related charities, it does not redeem pop-tops for medical treatments.  Jones doesn’t know who perpetuates the pop-tops rumor, but it has been fizzing around for some time. “I think the myth has been going on for over 20 years,” she said.

There’s nothing special about pull tabs which makes them exchangeable for time on a dialysis machine. These bits of metal are worth nothing more than the ordinary recycle value of the aluminum they contain. 

Though rumor claims pull tabs are especially valuable because they’re made of “pure aluminum,” they’re actually formed from an aluminum alloy, just like the rest of the can (albeit of a slightly different type). 

A million pull tabs have a recycle value of about $366 U.S. And that’s before you factor in what it costs to collect, store, and transport them to a recycling center which will pay cash for them. When you consider the time and effort it takes to collect a million of anything, it’s a wonder anyone would go to all that trouble for a mere $366. Far better to ask everyone you know for a penny in place of each pull tab they would have given you — at least then when you were done collecting your million, you’d have $10,000 to donate to your charity.

To put this in even clearer perspective, 100 pull tabs have a scrap metal value of about 3½¢.

That old “something for nothing” dream gets people every time. Spring 1997 produced a poignant example of this madness in the form of a news story about a crippled child in a remote Canadian community and that community’s good-hearted belief that if only they could save up eight million pull tabs, they could get her a much-needed wheelchair. The local community health center made a project of collecting these little bits of metal, and it was only after they’d gathered more than a million that they realized not only didn’t they have a buyer for them, they also hadn’t figured out how they were going to transport them from their town (roughly 2500 miles north of Montreal) to any place with a recycling plant:

“We just thought we needed eight million tabs,” said Linda Tucktoo, who helped organize the drive and assumed there was a program to trade tabs for wheelchairs. “I didn’t know it was so much trouble.” 

Charity groups and the aluminum industry say they have been fighting misconceptions about collecting pop can tabs for years. “Unfortunately, it’s one of those urban myths,” said Denise Bekkema, executive director of Storefront for Volunteer Agencies in Yellowknife. “We actually get calls, probably about two a year, from people who have collected oodles and oodles of tabs from pop cans and then wanting to donate them to make wheelchairs. But there’s actually no such program.”

This tale had a happy ending in that the Royal Canadian Legion arranged and paid for the transportation costs of getting all those pull tabs to a recycling centre, someone else donated a used wheelchair, Air Canada shipped the chair for free to the little girl, and a Canadian wheelchair manufacturer also offered to make a brand-new chair for her.

Others whose hearts were in the right place haven’t been as fortunate. The experience of Dave and Beryl Hodge of Houston is typical. They saved pull tabs for two years, enlisting the help of friends, neighbors and relatives in their project. A local service club (who had themselves been taken in by this rumor) had led them to believe these tabs could be redeemed for dialysis treatment for a kidney patient:

“It’s folklore. It’s something that people want to believe, and people are just heartsick when they find out no one will redeem these things.” Mrs. Hodge, 64, said she was indeed heartsick when she recently learned her time, energy and tabs were devoted to a non-existent cause.

 “We had so many people saving these for us that it reached the point where every time we’d see a friend or neighbor, they’d hand over some tabs to us,” she said. “We had family back in Connecticut mailing them to us. We were turning cans without the tabs over to the senior citizens at the YWCA, and they in turn were giving us their tabs.”

Rumor not only dashes the hopes of those trying to do a good deed; it also causes endless headaches for those in the recycling business:

“We don’t even take tabs and we’ve never advertised that we do,” says Phil McEvers of Houston’s American Reclaiming Corp. “But it’s not unusual for us to get 30 or 40 calls a day from people who say they’ve heard these things.” While some Houston recycling companies do buy tabs, dealers say the prices range from about 10 cents to 28 cents per pound — much less than prices purported for gallon quantities.

“People will come up here and just swear to you that these tabs can get an hour for somebody on a (dialysis) machine, and nothing you tell them will convince them that it’s not so,” says O’Neil Short, president of Houston’s Micon Recycling. “Some of them come with the gallon containers wanting $75 a gallon, and when we explain it’s not worth $75, they pull out of the driveway mad.”

“They just flat think we’re lying to them.” Micon no longer will buy the tabs at all, said Short.

One of the many companies victimized by this rumor is Reynolds Aluminum. They’ve come up with an effective reply to the pull-tabs question: a redirection of these lovingly-collected tabs into their normal recycling program, for which they pay standard scrap metal rates. (Obviously, collecting whole cans would be far more effective, but facts have never slowed down anyone running with a good rumor firmly between his teeth.) As one of their 1993 brochures read:

KEEP TABS ON YOUR CANS

This Program Might Have A Familiar Ring

False rumors have plagued the aluminum industry and the National Kidney Foundation for years concerning beverage can pull tabs and kidney dialysis. Across the nation, at various times, word has spread that aluminum can pull tabs could be recycled in exchange for time on a kidney dialysis machine for someone with kidney disease. Many well intentioned yet misinformed groups and individuals collected pull tabs only to find that there was no pull tab/kidney dialysis donation program. It never existed. Anywhere.

In some cases it was even very difficult to collect the tabs because of the fact that many cans now have a device called Stay-On-Tab ™, a design improvement to all-aluminum cans which keep the tab attached to the can after opening. Yet even then people would remove the tabs and bring them to a Reynolds Aluminum recycling center, only to find the sum of their efforts much less than they had hoped . . . no dialysis and much less money than if they had brought the cans that were originally attached to the tab.

There was nothing they could do, and nothing we could do . . .

. . . UNTIL NOW

Reynolds Aluminum Recycling Company (RARCO) and the National Kidney Foundation (NKF)
affiliates and chapters have initiated this “Keep Tabs on Your Cans” turnaround drive. RARCO and NKF are seeking groups and individuals who will recycle aluminum through Reynolds, donating the proceeds to the National Kidney Foundation local chapters and affiliates.

IT’S SIMPLE

The group or individual collects recyclable used aluminum beverage cans, aluminum pie plates, foil, frozen food and dinner trays, as well as many other forms of recyclable aluminum, then brings it to a Reynolds recycling center. The recycler then requests that the money earned from the recycling transaction be donated directly to the National Kidney Foundation. Reynolds provides the recycler/contributor with an itemized receipt for record keeping and tax purposes. Periodically, the donations are totaled, and Reynolds sends a donation to the nearest chapter or affiliate of the National Kidney Foundation. 

HOW WILL THIS DONATION HELP?

Diseases of the kidney and urinary tract are a major cause of illness and death in the United States. The National Kidney Foundation and its 50 affiliates and 200 chapters comprise the primary health organization in the U.S. which fights this disease. Your donation will finance research, treatment, diagnosis, detection, and cure of kidney and urinary tract diseases.

FROM HOAX TO HELP

Bring your aluminum cans and other household aluminum to any Reynolds Aluminum Recycling center and ask to have the proceeds sent to the National Kidney Foundation. For the location and schedule of the (Reynolds Aluminum) recycling center nearest you, simply call (toll-free) [out-of-service number removed], or for more information write the National Kidney Foundation, Inc., 30 East 33rd Street, New York, New York, 10016.

(Reynolds has since sold off its recycling operation to Wise Metals.)

Seeing as how folks were bound and determined to collect pull-tabs for charity, in 1987 McDonald’s found it a good idea to get into the act. Their Pop Tab Collection program is a response to pull tab mania, and 

Pull tab removalit at least provides folks with a place to dump the tabs they’ve been hoarding over the years in the belief they could use them to purchase dialysis time for an ailing child. Tabs dropped off at various McDonald’s are taken to a local recycling company, and the money made from selling them for their scrap value is given to the local Ronald McDonald House to help defray operating costs.

(Ronald McDonald houses are inexpensive family lodgings located near hospitals. Families of sick children stay there so as to be close to their hospitalized child. Typically, it costs the house $40 a night a room to operate and families are asked to make a donation of $10 a night when they stay. The shortfall is made up through various charitable endeavors, of which the pull-tab collection and recycling program is but one.)

It needs be stressed yet again that pull tabs are far from “found money” — even the Shriners Hospitals for Children, another organization that uses money received from the recycling of aluminum tabs for a good cause, noted in April 2007 that the recycling price for aluminum tabs is $0.50 to $0.70 per pound, which means that even at the upper end of that price range, they’re only getting about $427 per million tabs collected. Prospective donors could still do far more good by organizing a local soda can recycling program and donating the proceeds to the Ronald McDonald House (or any other charity).

THE BOTTOM LINE:   No charitable organization will pay out a premium (in cash, goods, or services) for pull tabs from aluminum cans. Some of them will indeed accept donations of pull tabs, but all they pay (or receive) in exchange for those tabs is their marginal value as scrap aluminum. Anyone gathering pull tabs for charity would do far better to collect whole cans; accumulating nothing but pull tabs is like eschewing quarters in order to collect pennies. 

(From time to time, various companies will run programs under which they offer to donate money to charities in exchange for consumers’ collecting and returning some item of product packaging [e.g., pull tabs, boxtops, wrappers], but such companies only accept packaging from their own products, and their object in operating these programs is to promote and advertise their brands.)

Next time someone asks you to donate a few pull-tabs for a good cause, donate a few facts instead. You’ll be doing everyone a favor.

Barbara “donate make your brown eyes blue?” Mikkelson

LAST UPDATED:   24 March 2012

Blog Post 04/23/17

Today Is Paul Reaser’s Birthday. Paul was my closest friend for many, many years. In high school. Paul and I were roommates for a few years and he helped me develop my OlymPicnic Games package (http://alansands.com/olympicnic/) when we were in our late 20’s. He helped me run these games packages for years and years at hundreds of company picnics. Paul lives in Flagstaff, AZ now. I do not see him very often, and he is not on Facebook so we do not chat to often, but he is still one of my closest and best memories of my senior high year at San Mateo HS. Happy Birthday Paul.

 

I had the opportunity to do the fair in Flagstaff this year, but I turned it down because it is the same weekend as Burning Man and I want to go to Burning Man, and the fair wouldn’t meet my price. My only regret was I would have seen Paul and said hello to him and his mom, Helen. One of the reasons I do things like, “go to Burning man” and experience life to its fullest is Paul’s little brother, Frank died recently. He was one of so many friends who I lost or came really close to losing recently and so many of them were so young. Xondra Merrill, Frank Reaser, Dudley, Elysa Hayes having her accident that brought her so close to leaving us, the most recent was Kevin Ridgeway also had a life threatening car accident. I have just learned that Johnny Fox is now fighting liver cancer and he says, "the doctors have thrown in the towel"… So, I no longer chase the mighty dollar. I choose to live life now because one does not know what tomorrow will bring.

 

Unrelated pet peeve: My trailer storage rent is due today, too. I pay $87.50 a month per spaced for two parking spaces so I can park my trailers filled with ‘stuff’ like Mistee, my Model T, and my wood working trailer, and I have one trailer delegated to camping equipment. How ridiculous is it that I spend this much on parking spaces? It gets my goat. Well, it would get my goat if I had a goat, but you get the point. it does bug me to pay for a parking space.

 

Back to the day: I am in Custer, SD. Home of the Crazy Horse Monument. I saw the monument about 5 or 6 years ago, so I don't think I will go again. Instead I will opt to go have a late lunch with Michael DeSchalit in Rapid City where we both fly out of today. Seeing friends is so much more important.

 

I did a great show last night for a bunch of post prom students. I only invite the seniors on stage for these post prom events because they will not have another chance to volunteer next year, if they bring me or another hypnotist back. 11 out of 12 stayed under the whole show. It was a good show. Great, ultra polite kids. Kids in the midwest have amazing manors as a general rule compared to the entitled and gangsta kids on the coasts.

 

The hotel I am in is great. The Comfort Inn in Custer. This hotel closes for 6 months out of the year, for the winter, and just reopened three days ago. The place is in impeccable condition and they donated a room for me to stay in for the night while I am here doing the post prom party. I deal with a small dilemma when I stay in a hotel room that is donated. I am one who takes the shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer, coffee packets I do not use in the room, I have stolen a towel or ten I will admit, and I take the pad and pen. But when the room is donated, I feel like I can’t take anything, and it tears at me being a hotel kleptomaniac.

 

One year when I was touring, instead of writing down all the states I performed in, I bought a coffee cup in each state. I gathered 21 coffee cups that year, which we still use today, and every day at my sister’s house. It was not a wise investment. I probably paid $9-$14 per cut - so it easily cost me $210+ to buy all those cups. Not a good investment, but I do like some of those cups a lot with my morning coffee. What is the value of something you enjoy?

 

So, back to the room and the free merchandise that is all around the room … I guess I will just take the pen. I need some way of recording I was here other than a mark in my check book that shows I deposited a check.

 

 

Happy trails.

April 3rd, 2017

A potential student asked questions about The Sandman's Stage Hypnosis Boot Camp August 13-19 at the Wyoming State Fair. I thought my long reply might be of interest.

Clinical Hypnosis and Stage Hypnosis have as much in common as pasta and bread. Both are made from grain, but that is where the similarity ends.

Clinical hypnosis is intimate - and almost everyone likes participating in intimacy.
Stage hypnosis is exhibitionism - not everyone likes participating in public exhibitionism
 
I am not going to explain more about clinical hypnosis, or hypnotherapy other than to say we use hypnosis in both stage and clinical applications.
 
Stage Hypnosis is a very unique form of entertainment compared to other forms of entertainment. Not only is is based on science and spirituality vs. simply entertaining but it has very different needs and methods of being mastered.

Amplify

 

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December 1, 2016 Taylor Mims

 

The International Association of Fairs and Expositions has one of the most eclectic and vibrant trade show floors of any industry conference. There is nothing like being towered over by a walking tree to get ideas flowing for fair programmers. From ticketers to liger (tiger and lion hybrids) breeders, attendees can discover everything they need to host a successful and entertaining fair. Amplify strolled through the rows of animated dinosaurs, magicians, and celebrity impersonators to bring you some of the convention’s most colorful acts. Check out six of the most unique performers IAFE had to offer below.

 

Alan Sands Lisa KunschickAlan Sands and Lisa Kunschick

 

Alan Sands the Comedy Hypnotist

Bay Area, Calif.

How would you describe your act?

I call it PG12-and-a-half. It’s not naughty. It is nothing I would embarrass a priest of a nun with, but I’m not naughty enough to work in pubs. I’m a family show and it goes over the heads of anyone 12 and under.

Who are some performers that you look up to?

There’s many that I consider my mentors and major influences in my life. Terry Stokes Sr. was without a doubt a major influence in my performance. My father did hypnosis and magic, so he was my mentor in every way that you can imagine when I started out. There are people who have passed away like Ormond McGill who wrote the encyclopedia on stage hypnosis. I purposely went to my clinical training at a school where he was part of the staff.

What does your family think of your job?

My father passed away in 2008, but he was proud of me. He was glad that I could make a better living than he ever did. He was an artist. It takes three thrings to be star quality. One of them is god given talent, one of them is presentation and how you look when you walk on stage, and the third is marketing. If you have one of those things you’re an artist. If you have two of them, you’re a professional. You’ll make a living.

 

POSTED ON  BY 

By Michael Gellatly - MGellatly@CivitasMedia.com

 

LUMBERTON – “It’s the last night of the fair” was the popular refrain from vendors, performers and ride workers Thursday night as Hurricane Matthew forced a premature end to the annual festivities.

The official announcement came via the Robeson Regional Agricultural Fair’s Facebook page, stating that “due to impending hurricane” and citing safety concerns fair organizers closed down for 2016 at 11 p.m. Thursday.

The impact of the storm was being felt already on Thursday evening. Dreary weather and the looming storm kept attendance numbers lower than previous evenings and several vendors’ booths were vacant. However, the wet threat of Matthew didn’t dampen the spirits of those who ventured out, especially those who lost their minds, or watched others losing theirs.

They came to the fair, got on stage, got sleepy, and woke up about an hour later.

They woke up with no knowledge that they’d been twerking, hopping as a bullfrog, admitting secrets, or witnessing their parents wearing wildly inappropriate clothing.

They had no knowledge because it had all been in their heads — hypnotic suggestions from veteran magician and comedy hypnotist Alan “The Sandman” Sands.


 

  • Comedy hypnotist Alan Sands gives Trevor Cox, center, the power to make others fall asleep during his show, Thursday night.

  • Hypnotized participants fall asleep on each other after being told their neighbors were “big, soft teddy bears.”

  • Hypnotized show participants try to lay an egg on stage Thursday.

  • Hypnotized by Alan Sands, show participants hop like bull frogs trying to catch flies.

  • Participants in Alan Sands’ hypnotism show are fast asleep.

  • Hypnotized, show participants huddle together for warmth in the imagined freezing cold.

 

Sands has been performing at the Robeson County Agricultural Fair for 15 years and has been a comedy hypnotist for 29 years. The son of a magician, performing in his blood.

The show pulls willing participants on stage, many keen to feel what it is like to be hypnotized. After they are put under the psychological spell, Sands’ subjects do and feel everything he says, much to the amusement of the audience.

Trevor Cox, 18, was very keen to get on stage for the 9 p.m. show Thursday.

Afterwards, he remembered his eyes rolling back in his head as Sands put him under, but nothing from then on. Strange for the young man who woke up wearing a purple tutu and sporting toenails painted orange.

“Luckily (orange) is my favorite color,” Cox said.

Amanda Cameron has no memory either. Cameron left the stage with a bra full of what she was told were $100 bills she had to hide. In reality, they were tissues.

“I nearly peed my pants,” said Kathleen Wills, who watched from the audience as a friend thinking she was Kermit the Frog ran through the crowd looking for her Miss Piggy.

Gloria Cox of Lumberton was eager to come back and see the show Thursday evening. She’d been a part of it the night before and reveled in a little schadenfreude, as she still had no knowledge of what she’d been subjected to on stage.

“There’s pictures of me on Facebook, but I don’t know what I was doing,” she said. “It’s too funny watching other people being tricked the same way.”

Those hypnotized were put into a deep relaxed state by Sands at the start of the show and brought out of it at the end. All who performed were sent home to “have the best, most relaxing, refreshing night of sleep, ever.”

It’s the second straight year the fair has lost significant days to the weather.

It was to extend through Saturday.

“The weather just isn’t cooperating with us this year, it’s sad,” said Coble Wilson, president emeritus of the fair board.

Reach Mike Gellatly at 910-816-1989 or on Twitter @MikeGellatly

 

Tales from the Trails - August 2nd, 2016

Last night I slept in the back seat of my truck. Yes, at 56 years old (my birthday is in two days), I still sleep in my vehicle on occasion. It is actually one of the criteria I check when buying a vehicle. Can I lay down in the back seat and not be in a fetal position? I don’t have to sleep in my truck, after all - we fair performers are independently wealthy since we make the big bucks (insert sarcastic LOL), but all hotels surrounding Yellowstone NP run about $250 a night for a Super 8 in August and I think everyone but “The Donald” would whine a bit about paying those prices. I am not on vacation and I have no one to impress, I am alone - and truthfully, I found a campsite along a river in the woods where it was just me and the moths. I was in paradise and I slept well. Fortunately, I am 5’7” and my truck is 5’6” wide inside. I have a 2” piece of foam I put inside a $20 sleeping bag as a futon and I have one of those sleeping bags that is thicker than any blanket I have ever owned. It’s difficult to roll up at times. You have to use clips to hold it folded in half before you roll it and it is huge once it is rolled up!  I also bring a firm pillow so I don’t feel the arm rest under my head. I’m a guy - sleeping alone along the road is OK every other night and I feel safe and the world is my urinal. Alan Bruess brings his kitchen with him everywhere. I bring my bedrolls, and I have a kitchen, too but I will leave that for another time.

I have driven through Yellowstone National Park every year at least once for the last 28 years. The first year was the year Yellowstone burned, 1988, but I move ahead for a moment. One year I spent six days in the park. I flew a girlfriend into Jackson Hole. We stayed in a hotel in Jackson Hole when she arrived. I then reserved rooms with the help of someone in the park at one of the reservations desks. If you called on the phone they would have said, “Sold Out” but at the desk, we found rooms throughout the park, spaced out evenly, driving every road, ending up back to Jackson Hole where we stayed again in the same hotel the last night before I flew her home. It was the only time my Tundra got 18 MPG because the speed limit in the park is 45 MPH.

My first year on the road was 1987. Wow, OK - 29 years … I joined RMAF the fall of 1987. It was one of the first associations I joined after joining the IAFE and WFA the previous year. I joined RMAF because my office partner, Fred Anderson said, “I want to see the Teton Mountains,” and so now, half my life has been visiting these national parks and the surrounding states.


 Fred was my office partner. We did our marketing together. We were both San Francisco street performers and we knew that fairs were the logical market to go into from the streets since you were working outdoors, fighting the elements and you had to gather a crowd and do a show. The only difference was on the streets you had to ask the audience for money at the end of the show. At fairs, you had a guarantee. Back in the late 1980’s Fred and I would work together getting work for the summer fair season. Fred would make the phone calls. I would type out cover letters (without a spell check - I am sure my letters were horrible!). We would stuff two VHS videos into an envelope and for $2.00 we could mail them out together - same price, up to two lbs., one or two tapes. 

In 1987, Fred and I were about the only two variety acts working the RMAF Convention along with Gibb Richards the clown. Gib was well established there already. Gib was a math teacher at a University in Albuquerque and he spent his summers working for fairs, charging just enough to break even and vacationing in the region. There was one other act. Triangle Talent was handling a balloon sculptor that did HUGE balloons of a Motorcycle - the acts last name was Hamilton I think. Dave Hamilton rings a bell, but don’t quote me on that. He was good. He wore a white suit with a red shirt and red shoes. He looked sharp! I wonder how many of those suits he had. They certainly did not stay clean, I am sure. The four of us were the entire convention entertainment line-up of variety acts. There were musical acts, of course. Almost as many musical acts then as there are hypnotists now! Things have changed, though. Now there are over 100 variety and grounds acts I believe in the Rockies region, but competition is good I feel, too.

So, what is my point? Why am I sharing all this? Well, this all comes to mind because yesterday, Fred Anderson sent me a text message asking if I could videotape him at a show he was doing locally in the SF Bay Area.  I began thinking about those first tours through the region. Fred was a Juggler and I did magic and balloons. We sold ourselves as a two act package. Fred never drove a car, so he didn’t mind making less to have a personal chauffeur drive him everywhere. Fred had a great showcase but was shy. I’d do the pitch in the room. This is one of the benefits of being a sidewalk balloon clown for so many years.

Back then, the small fairs would help route the acts. They would co-op buy together and run you along Reed William’s carnival route from town to town. We’d get five fairs in a row, two to five days each. We needed to make $2,500 each a week back them to stay on the road and come home with enough money to buy chicken. 

The first two years, Fred and I toured a lot together. One of our “Seymour” Moments was when: we went to the Big Horn Mountains and rented a log cabin for a night between fairs. The place had a small diner on the property and as we sat there eating, we looked out the huge picture window onto a small pond maybe 50-100 feet diameter and in the middle of the pond stood a moose, just standing there, throughout our entire meal. He might still be there now, for all I know.

I have since learned that moose are aquatic animals. They give birth standing in H20 and you do not see them in zoos because they need to roam free. They simply do not make it in any type of captivity. Zero - nil. I love learning animal trivia.

I also remember one year I did the Big Horn County Fair in Basin, WY. I was only doing comedy magic. I was working on a flatbed tractor trailer truck bed doing my shows. I packed up my act into my magic box/table and left it sitting on the stage. I went to the office to collect my allowance so I could go home and buy chicken, I then got in my car and drove 100 miles over the mountain to Sheridan and I went to the movies. When I got out of the movie it was dark. I looked in the back of my minivan and realized something was missing. I forgot to put my act! It was not in the car with me!  I drove back over the mountain and found it sitting in the middle of the flatbed right where I had left it.

I am on my way back to Basin, WY and the Big Horn County Fair right now. I will perform for two days, then I drive to a private party I am producing the entertainment for in Montana.

I was vegetarian back in the 80’s and it was really difficult to find veggies in Montana and Wyoming then. The Rockies were a meat and potatoes world. There were no salads at fast-food places. I found I was eating french fries as my only meal. I had to give up my veggie lifestyle to remain in this business. Things were different back then.

Being on the road as a tailgate entertainer is a lifestyle. I am sure people not in the business would say “You slept in your truck?” and I would have to reply, “What? And give up showbiz?”

Please add comments. I'd love to hear from you.

 

 A Tale from the Trail

 I performed at the Canyon County Fair (and Festival) in Caldwell, ID for seven years. It is a 50K attendance fair about 30 miles from Boise, Idaho. To get to Boise from the San Francisco Bay Area, you take I-80 east, through Reno and turn left in Winnemucca. You drive a few hundred miles through the sagebrush, cross a corner of Oregon and into Idaho. It’s a 12 hour drive, and when I have time, I’ll give myself an extra day, Stay in Winnemucca in the Winners Casino and not shotgun the trip. I like the Winners because it has a motor lodge, you get a free drink (to get you into the smoke filled casino) and the Wells Fargo Bank is across the street. Small reasons, I know - but enough.

On this particular journey, I had recently bought a new Dodge Caravan. My old one lost the transmission at 125K - or perhaps it was the one I back ended another minivan with and did $5,000 worth of damage to mine and almost zero to them because they had an iron tailgate (on a mini van! Who would have thought?). Regardless of the demise of the previous Dodge MiniVan, I was in a new one and before abandoning the old one I removed the full-sized spare from under the trade-in and replaced the toy spare under the new vehicle with the full sized spare.

I had taken this road many times and I always notice the small “attractions” signs as I travel. Like all of us, we love to get out of the vehicle and stretch our legs. Along this particular road, there is not much to admire very long, but I always saw a small sign every time I traveled this road that was in the middle of nowhere. I just tried to find the mane of this attraction to share, and it is so insignificant, I can’t even find a reference to it on the internet after searching for the name for a good half hour. Let me describe it to you: The small sign referenced volcanos, lava formations, fissures - it was a small sign and probably 99.9% of people driving by ignore it, I am sure. On this trip, I decided, “I have an extra day - let’s go look!”

I turned right. One half mile up the dirt road another sign tells me my destination is 23.5 miles ahead. I decide, I am on the adventure, I have the day off and am early - go forth and explore!

At 21 miles into the wilderness, having passed nothing resembling any form of civilization, the road starts to get a bit rough. Not ruts and dirt clods rough, I am talking Lava rocks jutting up 4-6 inches rough. Sure enough, about 1/2 mile from the lava formations and 23-1/2 miles from the highway, I get a flat tire.

No problem, I get out, pull out the full sized spare … and to make a long story short, the lug nut holes on the older model Caravan wheel do not match the later model Caravan. I have no cell service, but I decide to walk to the top of a hill I see and see if I can get service there.

Sure enough, I have one pip of service if I stand on one foot, hold a coat hanger in the air and wear a tin foil hat and after trying five times to reach AAA, I get through without getting disconnected. they connect me with the AAA Service people in the area. This conveniently located service station knows exactly where I am - he is familiar, and he is only 85 miles away, oh … and … his tow truck does not work, the starter needs replacing, so he will come to me, pick me up and my flat, bring me back to the station, change the tire, drive me back to my car and get me on my way!

This gives me time to explore the lava domes, which were fun to look at the little 20’ high funnels. If my memory serves me right there were 20 or more of them of all different sizes and formations, some were the size of a hollow tree, others were bigger, like a fort and others were much smaller.

Two hours later, my AAA representative arrives, we grab my wheel and flat and head back to his shop — 85 miles away – which I will refrain from calling civilization. It’s a metal barn in poor shape, an RV Park that resembles a trailer park you’d not let your kids visit and play in if you had a choice, and they have a diner and small grocery store that has one refrigerator and minimal groceries, but enough to camp and survive if necessary if you are camping there.

We get to the shop, and Bad News; he does not have the correct sized tire to replace on my rim. Good news: his father is at Costco in Boise and will pick up the tire and bring it back. This took another four hours before dd returned, but he did bring the right tire, they changed my flat, did not charge me an exorbitant price, only fair market value - and they drive me back to my handicapped minivan siting in the wilderness raised up on a floor jack. It is now dusk, we replace the tire and when I get back to the highway, it has been a 12 hour adventure.

All is well that ends well, and my tale has no real hicups, it was all a good experience and now I have a story I can share. My next one will be more humorous and a lot shorter. Stay tuned.

Does a Hypnosis Show need a quiet space to do your show?

Not necessarily, but it greatly improves the quality of the show. do you need quite around you when you watch TV, go to the theater or movies? If you want people to give the show their undivided attention without distractions - then yes, you want there to be no conflicting noise or activity going on.

Is it OK if will have several activities going on at the same time as your show?

Only if you are challenging my abilities. If you were teaching a class, would you want these same activities going on at the same time? If you are having a late night party for high school students and you are paying for a premium service, why would you want other activities going on at the same time?

We are serving dinner during this time, also. Will they need to be finished eating before you start?

Unless people are paying for the entertainment, out of their own pocket, food beats entertainment almost every time. People do not want to look up from their food to watch a show. There are types of entertainment that work during a meal. They are the type of entertainment that does not need your undivided attention including background music and belly dancers.

If you hire an act that is a visual act - magicians, hypnotist, jugglers, puppeteers & ventriloquists; then you want to begin the entertainment after people are done eating. Especially if the show requires volunteers. No one wants to get up from their meal and participate on stage while their food is sitting on a table.

Let’s discuss this in more detail:

Do I need quiet because "...there will be other activities going on at the same time."
I agree to this as much as driving on the wrong side of the interstate, against the traffic.

Hypnosis shows are a LOT of FUN! Sometimes you have to make people sit down and watch them for them to discover they like what they are watching and see it for themselves. If one has never seen a hypnosis show, they are naive and won' know what they missed if you don't make them watch the show. My ex-wife forced me to go and see Wayne Newton once. I would never have gone on my own. I am SO VERY GLAD I went!!!

Can I work while other (noisy) things are going on? Yes. I do county fairs with the Tilt-a-whirl screaming and the livestock auction pointing it's speakers at me across the fairgrounds - but for a party when you have 50-500 people (give-or-take) there are some general guidelines that will (1) make the party most successful and (2) give you the most bang for your limited dollar.

I am going to deviate for a moment. Hypnotists like metaphors. Bare with me:
If you are doing a child's 7th birthday party, the standard formula is:
(1) kids arrive at 1:00 or 2:00 PM. If they arrive earlier, they will not have eaten lunch and they will be hungry. If you do not want to feed them lunch, have the Lovelies arrive at 2:00 PM
(2) Have sugary and salty snacks in bowls, over hardwood or stone floors that are easy to clean for them to snack from in case they are hungry. Finger foods are great, and will fill their little tummies with just enough that they can run and play for the first hour from 2-3 PM. Chips, Cheese Doodles and M&M's. If they are girls, give them cupcake foils to carry the snacks. If they are boys, give them baggies. (Keep the vacuum handy)
(3) At 3 PM, you gather the little Delights together. All the late arrivals are there and you play games, or have an amateur or professional show that you hired - magician, ventriloquist, juggler, clown…
(4) 4:00 - it's time to open the presents following the organized entertainment. the kids are all sitting and attentive and will give the birthday child their celebrity attention.
(5) 4:30 - give them cake and ice cream filled with lots of sugary loveliness
(6) Parents come and take sticky, ‘pumped with sugar’ children home where they will be crazed and animated for 30 minutes, then need a nap and probably won't eat dinner.

NOTE: If the party starts earlier, give the adorable hatchlings Pizza, Chicken Nuggets or Hot Dogs, the universal foods of 7 year olds - easy to serve, and the food will not be placed in the trash. Everyone will be happy.

This formula is created from doing hundreds of children's birthday parties for 15 years, at one time in my life. There are exceptions and there are “no rules that can not be broken” because it is a "PARTY" not a prison or school. Exceptions come into play if parents/adults are present, if there are ethnic considerations (serve ethnic food), it's a slumber party, the host child is diabetic... but you get the idea.

Let me share my experiences doing "late night safe & sober, drug-free, bash, grad night & post prom high school" events. I started doing high school lock-in parties in 1993 and I consistently do 30 of these events a year now. I sell another 30+ hypnotists to additional schools that I am not available to perform for.

Late Night parties also have a formula that seem to work for 90+% of the time. the questions this blob provoked (answered above) not only "DO NOT" fit any formula, but they break rules that make me uncomfortable. Rules that are Sort of like asking your contractor to paint a 3-story house without scaffolding. "Use a Ladder" the client said... "Or use two ladders and make a scaffold..." Yeah. OK...

 Your Seniors are Not adults, but in many ways they are. I could give you a few analogies, but will save those for another blog. Let's stay with the party you are holding and your questions for now:

#1 - HUNGRY PEOPLE offered HOT FOOD wins over everything else. If you serve food, nothing else should be going on.
Exceptions include: {a.} music {b.} belly dancers {c.} strippers {d.} raffles {e.} speakers you 'really do not care' if the people listen to.

If you want people to ignore the performer, presenter or activity you are offering and only want them to pay attention with half-a-mind, have hot food present and expect people to eat at the same time.

#2 - FEATURED EVENTS - I am not sure what you were planning on doing at the same time as the hypnosis show, but I will assume it is games. Carnival games, inflatable games, group games, individual games, casino games ...

When your guests leave this party and talk about it for the next few years, do you think they are going to talk about:

(1) The food
(2) The games
(3) The gifts and prizes they did and didn't win ( quality prizes including: iPods, iPads, computers, bicycles, dorm room refrigerators, microwaves, etc. are the exceptions)
(4) The comedy show that made them laugh so hard, they cried.

Let's discuss formulas that work best (exceptions can be had):

#1 - Using the Hypnosis Show as the first thing of the event, used to gather them quickly into one place before they are shipped off to the off-site event.
I have had a number of schools that have had me perform at the school, in the gym or theater as the first thing of the night. All the kids gather and park, go into the show (after being searched - all wallets, money, beverages, purses, etc must be left in car) and they come in, watch the hypnosis show for 90 minutes, then they are put on busses and shipped off to the event at an off-site location. (Arcades with go-carts, H20 Parks or Bay Cruise Ships, usually). This does work, but is not my favorite formula.

#2 -THE MOST POPULAR FORMULA - done at over 90% of the late night events I have ever done - The Comedy Hypnosis Show is the last activity of the night.
Say the event goes from 9 pm - 5 am, do the hypnosis show at 3-4:30 am, and the only thing that follows is the big raffle and then they gather the raffle items and take them home. The only other thing that should follow the hypnosis show is more food - but keep in mind, very little of that food will get eaten. Few people eat at 4:30 AM. If you do serve food, make it elementary school sized finger foods like donuts cut in half, and tiny 6 oz. boxes of orange juice. if you cook a hot breakfast, make servings really tiny. I have seen enormous portions of french toast, pancakes and sausage thrown away at 5 am.

My final share: No one goes home after 4 am and drinks or does drugs. I see these events pushed to 5 am, 6 am, 7 am ... In my opinion, this is not necessary. You can end at 4 AM, and definitely no later than 5 AM and you will have fulfilled your mission of seeing the kids safe, and you will leave them saying "I had an awesome time." 

SUMMARY
>>Will you need a quiet space to do your show?  We will have several activities going on during this time.<<
• I will not compete with other things going on.
• It is not fair to me and it is not fair to the audience.
• It is not fair to the audience that wants to watch the show and not have people running around, making noise, being a distraction.
• It is not fair to the people who want to do everything and you are making them choose whether to watch a featured show or participate with their friends in doing other things.
• It is not the best use of the $$ you will pay me. Let me be a feature, not just 'another thing' happening.

One last metaphor:

I have a daughter. When I do things with her, it does not matter what I want to do. I do what she wants to do because I want to be with her and spend time with her. I miss a lot of live shows at amusement parks because my daughter only wants to ride the rides. I have never seen a live show at Dollywood. I am in the live show business! You have no clue how disappointed I am that this is how it is, but this is how it is....

Don’t make people choose between spending time with friends doing other activities or spending time together watching the show. So many high school students are “followers” not leaders and if they miss the hypnosis show, they will be very disappointed.

You Asked:
>>We are serving dinner during this time also. Will they need to be finished eating before you start?<<

YES

I have Light Pencil, Dark Pencil and Pen & Ink way of recording when people contact me for Gigs.

 A Light Pencil means they inquired, but that is all it was - It was a casual inquiry as to whether I am available, prices and other questions. Sometimes they fill out my form found on line here: http://alansands.com/contact. No one is promising anything to anyone else. It was just a friendly inquiry. 

Dark Pencil is a more serious inquiry. It means you have asked I keep you informed of my availability because you are seriously considering me, or one of my acts for this event. Some call this a “First Right of Refusal” Again, there is no obligation on either parties side, but I have made notes and will talk to you again. I also ask that if you decide to say, “NO” you give me the courtesy of letting me know, just like you’d like me to tell you if I can no longer wait for a reply and am taking another gig that date.

Pen & Ink - Means you have requested a contract. To make me Pen and Ink something, you have to fill out my form on line - http://alansands.com/agreement - and then I will get you an agreement. I will ask for a deposit. We are "Good-to-go" as long as negative energy in the universe does not interfere.

My Cancellation Policy:

Even if you send me a deposit, even if you sign my contract, I know “shit happens.” When shit happens and nothing can be done about it, I do not hold people responsible.

As long as a non-refundable plane ticket or rental car has not been purchased, as long as the performer has not gotten in their car and driven to the event, as long as another event has not been passed on to accommodate your event, I will allow someone to cancel a signed contract and I will refund any refundable / not spent portion of a deposit.

I do not wish to treat people the way airlines, insurance companies and leasing companies treat my daughter and me. Yes, it costs me money - but my disappointment is easier to stomach than your being pissed off at me. Life is short. I do not want people remembering me in negative ways over money. There are so many other creative ways I can piss you off and I am an artist, not a business man :-)

I also expect you will allow me to get you another performer of equal or better value for the same price to perform the same services if I need to get out of the agreement for any reason, whether it be a career opportunity or more money, less travel to make the same money, or any other reason that is reasonable.

I believe in Win/Win relationships.

Thanksgiving hints:

(1) Stuffing - is stupid. If you don't have to have stuffing, don't bother. It's dead bread. Stovetop stuffing is even stupider. It tastes nasty - like cardboard - and it only tastes eatable if you put a lot of gravy on it. Please don't bother.

(2) Squash - when is the last time you had squash? Yes, the Pilgrims ate squash probably, but they didn't like squash. They ate it because it was all they had at the time. Some really skinny, wild turkey and squash. We now have potatoes, lots of different types of potatoes - Thank you South America for your potatoes. For tradition sake, get a squash and use it as a center piece, but do not cook it. If you do cook it and serve it to your guests, be sure you have flushable baby wipes in the bathroom.

(3) Cranberry Sauce - do not make your own homemade cranberry sauce. Cranberry sauce is now available in the can, and it tastes really good. The home made stuff you make tastes nasty and bitter. Let the professionals make the cranberry sauce.

(4) Potatoes - make lots of potatoes. Make Sweet potatoes, make yams - if you make both, put a marshmallow on top of one so you can tell the difference, otherwise you will forget which one is which. Make mashed potatoes, make potatoes with cheese on them or baked potatoes. People like all potatoes, and make lots. Left over potatoes last and taste just as good as the first time around. Powdered potatoes ARE potatoes, and don't let people lie to you and tell you they are not. Make extra gravy for the white potatoes.

(5) Turkey - Turkey is good. Keep that tradition. Make one or buy one or steal one. All turkeys are good and they taste good frozen, fresh, cooked then frozen. Make two turkeys and share the fucking turkey with your guests. Let them take home some turkey goodness.

(6) Pumpkin Pie - If you don't have pumpkin pie, don't bother having Thanksgiving. Some people think Thanksgiving is about family, about being thankful for a good harvest, or about eating turkey. These are all urban myths. Lies told to you by people trying to sell their turkeys and religions and family values to you. Thanksgiving is about Pumpkin Pie. Don't forget the whipped cream. The stuff in the can is the best. The stuff in the tub isn't cream, it's a whipped topping. Probably made from the center of Oreo Cookies or something. Just buy the cans. If you have extra whipped cream, you can do whip cream shots at night when no one sees you put the can in your mouth and shoot it.

(7) Fruit Cake. Give everyone a fruit cake. Make sure it is in a pretty tin that is non-denominational and not holiday specific. They can use it at the naughty Santa Give-away. They may laugh at you now, but they will thank you at X-mas when they need a gift for the company holiday gift exchange.

last of all - I will remind you again: don't forget the flushable baby wipes in the bathroom. You'll thank me on Friday.

 

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