Tuesday, October 21, 2008

An introduction to Japan

So, I totally am sitting in the most awesome room I've ever been in. Well, it used to be the dining room, but they've decorated it with Japanese art and wall hangings. And to top that off, I've got an amazing bed with red silk sheets. I'm so happy with this room, I'm seriously considering decorating my room at home like this. I'll have to upload some pictures when I get some time.

And, as always, I'm getting ahead of myself.

I got to make balloons for an entire group of Japanese high school children and I had a blast! It was great seeing the respect they showed the balloons and myself. I can't tell you how many pictures I had taken with me. I only though of it now, but I really wish I would have taken a picture with all of them before I left the final airport. I want to throw some of their pictures here on my blog. (I'll put up the ones I have when I have time over the next day or two.)

In Japan... So far, so good. I love it here. Granted... There are a few things I miss quite a bit in the states, but it is pretty awesome here as well.

I also ound out that my first official balloon gig is Saturday. So, wish me luck! In the meantime I'll be meeting locals, trying to learn the language, and taking as many pictures as I can.

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's all about the entertainment!

Hey sports fans! It's Keri again!

I just wanted to stop by and mention why entertaining is such a big part of twisting. I'd even go so far as to say it's the biggest part of twisting. Not that the actual twisting isn't important! I don't care if you're Carrot Top - a balloon dog must look like a balloon dog!

But I digress. Slightly.

Tonight I worked at Fuddruckers, in Las Vegas. I work there every Friday and most Saturdays if I don't have other parties or what-not. I was going along, doing my thing, making average money, whatever, when I approached a table. They had been giving me "the eye" but had yet to flag me down. So I snuck over, very James Bond-like, and said in a loud whisper, "Do you guys like balloons? Cause I can totally get you some." Then I looked around like I was being followed and as I looked back at the table gave a great big stage wink. You know, the totally obvious one that involves your whole face.

This is just how I am in a restaurant. I didn't think it was all that great... but they did! I ended up making some fairly simple balloons for the kids. I think it was an monkey and a flower or something... I really don't remember because I have short term memory when it comes to that kind of thing, and I didn't take pictures. But the whole time I was doing what I do, namely, talking to the kids about they're names and relating the names to things or people I know, asking about their ages and showing them how huge their brains must be based on the size of the hat I'm making. All while being very upbeat and interactive. I entertained them. I made sure they were having fun.

And I got a $100 bill as a tip.

I am totally not kidding. I almost passed out. Well ok not really, but my mouth totally dropped open like a fool. I even asked the gentleman (he was the grampa) if he was sure he knew what he gave me. My exact words were, "Um... uh, uh, uh... er... um... I would, uh, just like to, um, verify... uh that you are aware of, uh, what you just gave me..."

According to Gramma (again, NOT kidding): "Actually we were thinking we might have short-changed you."

I *probably* could have handled the situation better, but because I am who I am (and you'd have to meet me to understand!) I could tell that they loved me and everything was great. I'm not full of myself, I'm just trying to explain the situation.

Anyway, the whole point of the story is that the balloons I made weren't woven or complicated or even required any special twists. But because everyone had fun, (including the adults), I received the biggest tip I've ever gotten to date. And it totally made my night.

Well... it kinda made my entire year...

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


First of all, I had the most amazing weekend ever! I went to Disney World and I loved it!

At Epcot, we walked around the food and wine festival and tried some amazing foods. There was Manatee in Istanbul (They mispelled it as Manti though. It's okay, I can't spell that wall either.), there was an AMAZING chedder soup in Canada, and there were some pretty decent pot stickers in China. What can I say? Food is awesome.

While walking around Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Friday night, I was privaledged to run into Billy Damon (www.Damon.com) twisting on the Main Street. He recognized me (even though I was dressed up as Harry Potter) and went out of his way to make a Birthday hat for one of our group. Not only is he a super nice guy, he also is a great balloon artist. It was great getting to see him perform.

And of course, I had to twist a few balloons while I was there too... A Minnie Mouse in honor of the parks, and I made a bracelet for Stephanie who wore it around ALL day long. It made me smile when I realized that walking out of the park.



On Monday, I went to a balloon jam in Tampa, put on by miss Kathryn. So, thanks is definately in order for her. It was a lot of fun and I was able to meet some new balloon artists in the area. So, that's always good.

Actually, I found out I'm suposed to be teaching her Halloween stuff too. So, I'm throwing in a picture of a balloon I made Tuesday night while I was working that got a great reaction from those around me. So, yeah... This is for you Kat.


Speaking of Beefs on Tuesday night... I totally went to the wrong Beef's. So, I just wanted everyone to know that I was late and felt like a complete idiot to say the least. Either way, I threw on my smile and kept on twisting.

The couple of highlights I have for the evening are a nice tip, crazy hats, and a new design.

Not only did I make a $20 tip at a table, but I also got to make a LOT of different crazy hats all night long. As always, those are my favotire and I'm going to post another picture just because I can.


Not only did I create the cat on the pumpkin above, but I also was trying to come up with some more romantic shapes. I started making a giraffe and then tried to turn it into a heart. This is what I came up with.


I liked it. I think it could use some work, but I liked it.

Anyway... That's it for this week. Hope you were all able to get something out of it.

Oh!!!! And I almost forgot. I will be in Japan on Monday. So, after that, I may have to start typing in Japanese.

Okay, maybe not. I still think it would be pretty cool.

While I'm over there, I'm hoping to be able to twist at a number of different types of places and I am looking forward to sharing stories and photos with you all once I'm there. So, keep a look out and keep your fingers crossed that I'll be able to adapt to the culture. I heard it is quite the learning curve. I'll need all the help I can get.

Thanks again!
And until next time...

Monday, October 6, 2008

Twisting the night away

Saturday at Vallartas I had a LOT of fun as I always do. I did two things that I really loved. First, I made a bunch of abstract, conected hats. It was bunches of fun to make and I had a blast goofing off with the children.


The second thing I did was create an entire costume for someone at the restaurant. This guy was an AWESOME sport and totally let me dress him up in all kinds of crazy balloons. I saw his shirt and decided he was going to be a spear fisherman. So, this is what I came up with.


China Buffet was a LOT of fun! This table was great. Everyone was very open to getting a balloon and I was able to have a blast designing and creating a conected hat. If you'll notice the young man on the right, he's in handcuffs. He was slick enough to steal my five dollar bill out of my shirt pocket, so I had to make sure he wouldn't be able to do it again.


I was asked to make a wolf, but I failed drastically and decided to turn this into a Wiley Coyote that I saw Darin Williams make a long time ago. I do not make one anywhere as nice as he does, but I'm going to definately look him up and see if I can't figure out exactly how he does his version. (She liked it anyway and it turns out that her grandpa absolutely LOVES the Road Runner cartoons. So, it went over VERY well.)


So, as you can imagine, I recieved another request at the same table... The Road Runner. Here's the completed pair.


At this table, I had a blast too! I made an octopus bracelet, a giraffe, and I was getting ready to make something else crazy and wild when I was challenged to make a Mickey Mouse. So, this is what I came up with. The heart is something I came up with to create a shortcut for my self so I wouldn't have to try and figure out how to make the body.

This figure actually caused trouble later in the night because I had two other tables ask for it. I told the first one no. (Which I later realized was probably a mistake.) And so, to be fair, I didn't make one for the second table either. (Instead I made them a beautiful row of ducks based on I believe a Ralph Dewey design I saw a long time ago. I did not take a picture of that one. Sorry.)


After working all afternoon at China Buffet, I headed to the Zendah Grotto to swing dance and to celebrate Liz's birthday. Last week she wanted a llama. This week, however, she decided on a turtle hat.


Also at her party, Sam wanted a pig. Mostly because I was lazy and tired from swing dancing and twisting all day, I added giant eyes on it so that I wouldn't have to draw them. Even though it was orriginally just me being lazy, I think it is a GREAT touch and I'll probably start adding it to all my large pig sculptures.


Right before I could leave the Zendah Grotto, I had this lovely young lady come up to me and request a balloon. So, I willingly picked up my apron and was going to give it a go at another balloon before I headed out the door.

She asked for a heart. I didn't want to just make a quick heart, so I decided to add some things to it. I started with a monkey, then two, and then I decided I was going to try something completely new. I added a tree. AND I LOVED IT! So, I added a couple of coconuts and added the cheesy phrase, "I'm cocoNUTS for you!"

She loved it. And I found a new favorite sculpture.


This is from TX Roadhouse and is a logo or a mascot for something. He said to make a monkey in a red cape playing baseball. I liked it. I only wish I could remember what it was for.


This is my new favorite hat. It is a good picture of the people at the table, but not the best picture of the hat. That's my fault. Once I can get a better picture of the hat, I'll add it into another blog.


Again... Another favorite hat and the last hat of the night working at Tx Roadhouse. This is actually a friend from school that I grew up with and I hadn't seen him in a long time. So, when he asked how long it took to put together a hat... I didn't just tell him, I showed him!


Friday, October 3, 2008

The Texas Deja Vu

Before I get into today's blog, I wanna say that I'm really excited to have found a restaurant to replace Bennigans. For the past two days, I've been eating at Tiajuana Flats and I love it. The people there are pretty awesome and $7 goes a long way toward filling me up.

It's totally my new place to go and chill when I'm hungry and bored. (Just thought I'd share for all the people that knew how much I loved going to Bennigans.)

And on to today's blog:

So, as many of you know, I just moved back to Tampa from Houston, TX.

Tonight I totally was able to reminisce about my days in TX. Firstly, I was able to work at one of my favorite restaurants, Texas Roadhouse. And to top that, I also was privileged to work at a Country Line Dancing Bar called The Round Up (http://www.theroundup.com/).

As I walked into Tx Roadhouse, I notices that EVERYTHING was exactly like TX Roadhouse in Houston. So, that was really cool! Also, Alla from Bennigans BBDowns works there. So, I'm totally excited that I know people there! (I forgot to make her a balloon. So, I'm going to try and do that tomorrow when I go in there for dinner. We'll see how that goes.)

Between that, the country music at The Round up, and the side efects of pure exhaustion... I definitely felt a few episodes of deja vu tonight.

While I was there, I didn't just make things for the staff...lol, I also made some pretty interesting things for the customers as well.

For instance:

These two wonderful ladies wanted to surprise their husbands with a visit and decided the absolutely best way to do so would be to show up with the "Loudest" balloons possible. I had a blast making their balloons and hope that I can work with them and their church in the future.

And this lovely family was a lot of fun as well. The boys were very awesome, well behaved, and totally open to whatever it was I was going to make them. (I graduated from high school with the nice blonde in the center and decided it was fair game to try and embarrass her.)

I connected their hats and challenged them to wear it all night in the restaurant and, more importantly, to get out the door with out either of the hats sliding off their heads. It was AMAZING!! I absolutely LOVE watching this type of hat try and leave a restaurant. On a side note, the most I've ever connected like this was about 15 and it was at Crazy Buffet off of Dale Mabry. I don't work there anymore, but really enjoyed the atmosphere.

Yeah, so like I said before, this group was the best. They wore their hats with pride all night long and really helped to make my night.
Connect a kid

When I meet famous people or when I find people that I really enjoy making balloons for, I like to take their pictures so that I can write about them here. Tonight, I was blessed to have a table that not only had "famous" people, but really awesome people.

I had a blast making a rose, octopus bracelet, and princess crown for this group. For those that don't know, the guy on the right is John Cena. I just want to put my two cents in and say that he (and his friends) are very awesome, very nice, and totally have my respect.

John Cena and Friends

I made this at Las Vallartas the other night, but wanted to add it in here because I thought it was the most amazing hat (and cutest kid) ever.

Abstract Hat

Now, as far as the Round up goes...

I loved it. It was a LOT of fun. It was a whole lot easier to get along with everyone than I expected and everyone seemed to totally love the balloons.

I did not think to take too many pictures tonight, but I did get one. Luckily, I also got myself in this picture. So, that's good. I found that is something I don't do as often as I would like.

This is highlighting a necklace that I made for one of the cutest girls there. She was probably slightly intoxicated, but kept telling me how "adorable" I was. So, it went quite the lengths in building my ego. It's always nice, especially when in a new place you're uncomfortable with, to have someone who's sole purpose is to make you feel confident in yourself. She played that role for me. So, it was definitely nice to have her around.

And back to the balloon note...

This is the first time I'd ever made a necklace like this and I LOVE it. I think it is quite amazing. It stayed just the way I wanted it to, it is a decent size, and it wasn't too terribly difficult. (Though, it was slightly time consuming...)
Balloon Necklace

Overall today I worked (including the sorting of my balloons) from 3pm-3am. I worked a full 12 hours. So, needless to say, I can't really feel my legs, my throat is sore from all the talking, and I'm exhausted.

So, I'm off to bed for the night and I look forward to my next post as I hope you will as well.

Until then,
Jonathan Fudge
Your Balloon Man