Bread and Circuses

August 4 has been pretty busy through the centuries, so I am leaving this blog post pretty open for the weekend for Baboons to comment on three pretty fun things.

In 1693, Dom Perignon is said to have invented Champagne.

In 1777,  Retired British cavalry officer Philip Astley established his riding school with performances in London,  a precursor of the circus.

in 1919,  The Rodin Museum opens in Paris in The Hôtel Biron containing works left to the state by the sculptor Auguste Rodin.

Say what you will about Champagne, circuses, and sculpture.

52 thoughts on “Bread and Circuses”

  1. On this day in 1956, our own verily sherrilee first saw the light of day. Happy birthday verily sherrilee. Hope you have a joyous celebration even if you don’t pop a bottle of Dom Perignon. Knowing you, I trust there will be cake. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Happy birthday.
    Monday will be our 53rd anniversary. Pretty good for the way we got married.
    Champagne makes Sandy sick. Tastes to me and my Cretin tastes like over-fizzed, too sweet, unflavored cheap pop.
    Circuses. Not much of a fan of the classic Barnum & Bailey thing. School went to circus when I was in fifth grade in tacky old curling club in Duluth, only place available back then. I am not such an animal rights sort of person, but even then I felt sorry for the poor animals. Shriners circus.
    Sculpture. Bingo! Love it. Love gardens. My non-art-motivated daughter and family love the Mpls. Garden. I adore sculpture gardens. Mankato has in the last three years installed about 30 sculptures around downtown. Along the street is not a garden and they took out young trees to do it, but still . . . If I could walk it I would do a post.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Been sitting on the patio with rain falling around me, straight down, not hitting me. Sipping coffee. Contemplating nothing. Not even my psoriasis-blooming navel.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. HB, VS!

    Will try and remember the highlights of each of these –
    – champagne – would have to be on our trip to France at one of banquets… the trouble with champagne is – if you drink enough of it you don’t then remember much.
    – I think the closest I’ve been to a circus was reading Water for Elephants. Maybe we took Joel to one at the old Met Stadium, but I remember hardly anything.
    – I love esp. outdoor sculpture… got to see the Rodin garden when in Paris, which was memorable. There are some lovely, offbeat sculpture gardens in Wisconsin; the one I’ve been to is Riana’s Sculpture Garden in rural Beldenville, Wisc.


  4. Dom Perignon was the bubbly of choice when new partners were announced every year at the law firm where I worked. Set an impossibly high standard for our own News Years Eve celebrations, so we settled for champagne more within out financial reach. Still enjoy a glass or two to mark special occasions.

    I loved the circus as a kid. These were small traveling circuses that stopped in mostly small towns. No wild animals were involved. The circus always set up in large empty lot close to where we lived, and us kids loved hanging around watching all the preparations of hoisting the Big Top. They’d usually stay a few days and then move on to the next small town. Then us kids would scour the ground where the Big Top had been for any change that might have fallen out of people’s pockets as they climbed the bleachers inside the tent.

    I’ve seen two different Cirque du Soleil performances. They are amazing and magical.

    The Minneapolis Sculpture Garden by the Walker Art Center is one of my favorite places to take out of town visitors. Deborah Butterfield’s cast bronze “Woodrow” is a sculpture that I love, and perhaps my favorite work of art there.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I forgot we went to a tent circus like that too. Odd my family spent the money. Remember very little. I was young. But such an institution. Glad I saw one.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Renee, the two I saw were both fantastic. It’s really like no other show I’ve ever seen. Choreographed from start to finish with absolutely amazing performers and music. Truly awe-inspiring. I’d recommend it.

          Liked by 2 people

  5. Happy Birthday VS!

    champagne: I’m pretty sure I’ve told this story before. It’s my only champagne story so here it is again.
    I was part of the winning cast for drinking more champagne / person than any other cast. 2+ bottles / person that night. And I haven’t liked champagne since. Totally worth it for that story.

    I think I saw a circus when I was a kid. I built a set for the show ‘Barnum’. Does that count? Built a unit to have a man shot out of a cannon using counter weights and aircraft cable. It was really hokey. And it’s not something I put on my resume.
    I am not into rodeos, but I saw a video recently of a small town in AZ having a celebration with a rodeo and there was many plain events for people of all ages. Plus the bull riding and horse bucking events.
    And I couldn’t help but think some people would sure object to the little kids riding sheep and the ‘Sick ’em on a chicken’ event: 200 kids running through the arena trying to catch one of 65 chickens.
    I’m sure it wasn’t much fun for the chickens. But the kids had a good time. And other than I’m sure a few chickens were tripped over or stepped on, none were really hurt.

    Sculptures are fun. I built a lot of “art” sculptures for 4H. A week before the fair and I don’t have a project yet. Go to the shop and weld something together from scrap iron and paint it fluorescent orange. Done. (and Mom rolls her eyes and sighs…)

    Liked by 3 people

  6. We have attended the Circus Juventas summer show
    ( ) for years, including last Sunday for 2018. It just gets better every year! I’d peg it at about 80% as good as a Cirque du Soleil show at about 20% of the price. My sister and I were planning to take my 8-year-old granddaughter, but she had an unavoidable family event come up, so we recruited an adult substitute and enjoyed it thoroughly. I’d recommend you go, but I know there are very few tickets left. I know Anna’s daughter has gone to their circus summer camps. I would love it if my granddaughter would give it a try, but it’s not a priority for her now. The thing that boggles my mind every time I see these young performers, is that they have all the same body parts that I do. To watch them, you’d think were were of entirely different species!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I’ve attended a couple performances by Circus Juventas as well, and I agree, it’s marvelous. This was quite a few years ago when Elea, my friend’s adopted Chinese daughter, was into acrobatics. Elea will be 18 in November, and no longer does acrobatics.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. Wine: almost the only wine we could afford as grad students was Lancer’s sparkling rose. It is still inexpensive and pleasant. Poor man’s champagne.

    Circus: I saw a tent circus when I was four or five. It was sensory overload. I felt sorry for the lions that were harassed by a pushy guy who kept cracking his whip at them. While circuses run the gamut from crude freak shows to the sophisticated athleticism of Cirque de Soleil, the genre seems outdated now.

    Statue: the cliche of heroic sculpture is some guy on a horse waving a sword (and, usually, with pigeons crapping on his hat). Minnesota is one of the few states that doesn’t have a single equestrian battle statue. We have statues of Civil War heroes, like William Colville who was incredibly brave at Gettysburg, but they stand (as Minnesota heroes should) on solid ground.

    Happy birthday vs!

    Liked by 3 people

      1. That was another really popular wine in the late 1960s and early 1970s. We did our best to encourage dealers to stock it. I’ve heard this rose is now less sweet and more sparkly. It’s still cheap.


    1. Now that you mention, it Steve, the sensory overload was true. I always got a headache when I went to the circus as a child. The Danish circuses, however, were just one ring. I never did understand the American three ring circus concept, I went to one only once. Too many things going on all at once; I found it disorienting to figure out what I should be watching. And I’m sure I missed something.

      About forty years ago, I took two little neighbor boys to Ringling Brothers. They were thrilled, so I was surprised when half-way through the show they wanted to go home. Turns out they couldn’t wait to get home so they could tell their friends all about it. One of the things that they had found most exciting was the fact that wild sparrows were flying in the ring while the elephants were performing, occasionally alighting on the big beasts. The high-wire and trapeze artist they weren’t very impressed by, but they liked the clowns. Hadn’t thought about that in years. Wonder where those kids are now?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. That little tent circus we attended was my first experience of sensory overload. Small as it was, I’m sure they had two rings and maybe three. And everything was happening at once: music playing, acrobats working, clowns popping out of an old car, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. You can also complain to a customer liaison, the MN Attorney General’s Office (go online for complaint form), and the MN Dept of Health (more online forms). As a provider I had to do this once and it was effective.


      1. I was more joking. Every time I have a back appointment they send me the same form to sign saying it was not from some accident so some other insurance would pay for it.


  8. It is so hard to identify the right moment to share something with a little kid, something you enjoyed long ago. I took my daughter to see a circus. It was a botch. A man was strutting around in a Hardware Hank suit that was maybe 14 feet tall. That terrified my little girl. I looked toward her and she had disappeared. I found her cowering under her seat. She explained, “I don’t want the big guy to see me.”


    1. When Child was about four, we went to the birthday party of a friend’s little boy. The little boy was a huge Star Wars fan so his father (Al) made a surprise appearance as Darth Vader. It was a funnily put together costume – only the helmet was actual Star Wars paraphernalia. Black sweat clothes, a black blanket and some big black oven mitts were the rest. But even though it wasn’t very authentic, Child was terrified. Even after Al took off the helmet, Child wouldn’t have anything do to with him the rest of the night.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. i got drunk on champagne at age 19 for the first time. cheap champagne, at a friends wedding and then off to the first hardware show i would ever attend on a red eye. a belly full of bad wine at midnight flight was not a good idea.
    years since i fell for the stuff
    chateau st michelle has the best 10 dollar champagne on the market and there is a perseco at trader joes for 7 that wonderful
    we used to take two or three bottles to disney with the kids int e stroller and a couple bottles of oj and mimosa our way through the mornings. we didnt realize how much the wine made us tired until after they started inspecting the strollers after 911 and we had to stop bringing it in.
    circus…. saw the pre cirque de sole at the guthrie aback in about 70′ a small european traveling circus that cirque de soleil stole the concept from. they were remarkable and they came around a second time 2 or 3 years later and then i hear all that were involved in that craft were hired away by cirque de soleil and paid a handsome amount and moved to usa for performances here.
    barnun and baily not so much.

    sculpture garden used to be my favorite. i couldnt imagine the trees growing up enough to be right when it opened and when they finally got there the new director decided to tear them out and put in sculpture instead of the good stuff they shuffled or to elsewhere.
    i am a huge henry moore fan and they have a couple of those. i love calder and picasso. lipshitz and the fish sculpture in the building is a favorite as is the horse the cherry and the overall feel of the garden. i relly hope i learn to love the new one too. i need to be positive about the effort. on the other hand seeing my old favorites pop up elsewhere is a treat. next to the guthrie are a couple i loved at the old garden when it was next to the guthrie and i have seen other stuff around town too. it thought it was temporary while they were re landscaping but i see thats not he case
    august 4th is my parents anniversary and also my daughters anniversary.
    happy birthday vs. youre getting better not older

    Liked by 3 people

  10. Doesn’t it seem that champagne bottles have less wine in them than other, nonfizzy wine? Is the glass thicker?


  11. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    I don’t ever care much for champagne or circuses. I am allergic to fermentation, so when I have a bit of wine or beer, it has to be an elixir I really love to make the resulting headache worth the pain. Maybe I will attend Cirque d’Soleil, but I have not been very motivated to do so after experiencing circuses as a child.

    Meanwhile, when I was a kid we attended the circus which held both a fascination and a revulsion for me. The Shrine Circus was always hosted at an arena in Sioux City, Iowa where we attended FOR FREE (very important). My dad was disabled and in a wheelchair. Therefore, someone in our town always provided him with free tickets for the family.

    The circus really was a circus with 3 rings. There were animals—smelly and scarred; side shows—freaky; aerial artists, who up close, seemed flawed and old and incompetent—one of them often fell to the net below; clowns—outrageous; and a ringmaster—brassy. The cotton candy for 25 cents stuck in my teeth. Getting my dad’s wheelchair over the packed dirt floor was nearly impossible.

    Then one summer before the county fair in August, some small circus was at the local fair grounds. That outfit made the Shrine Circus look like the Cadillac of all circuses. It was even smellier and freakier than the Shrine, and the poor animals appeared to be so shabby. I never wanted to think about what that meant for their lives, but I just could not help coming to the obvious conclusion.

    Sculpture—I have been working on a series of small sculptures that I love. This winter I repaired some mistakes of the one I did in Ireland. Now I want to do a Spring, Fall Winter version of Summer. I am taking a class in October, so I will work on it then, or maybe I will start it sooner if the tomatoes and canning let up. What a crop this year. Tomato soup is on the canning agend tomorrow. Raspberry/chili jam today.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. it was humid thick air not to warm at 7 this morning and as the day has warmed up the humidity has become less a part of the equation. it is warm but not repressingly so. i just got back form las vegas and driove through while spending time in pheonix and northern arizona before proceeding to buzz through the remaining fistful of states. vegas was 110 degrees and 10% humidity. it realy wasnt too bad
      phoenix was 96 at 9 am and it warmed up to 106 but wasnt too warm with low humidity. northern arizona was wonderful in scenery and attitude. it felt like alaska with old hippies and pickup trucks. i spent longer there than intended and found it to be a wonderful community.
      buzzing through new mexico texas oklahoma in short order and then whatever the corner form there was i think it was kansas mo and then iowa and in.
      i really like the morning and the feeling around the middle of the country has a bunch of cool variations. nevada and arizona are freak shows with the desert and the cactus as the priomary residents . we dont belong there and the golf courses and showy waterfalls should be made to pay especially during the drought in california, up in the mountains in northern az the world of mountaind and trees and streams makes it heaven. the wide open spaces are nice and they are out there in spades.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. yep kansas is similar
          i must have run through a bunch of that witchita topeka before kc

          nebraska and dakota are kind of boring except where they’re not


  12. Every year we have a July 4th celebration in town, and the carnival comes. It seems every year we temporarily lose a teenage girl who finds the love of her life and runs away with the carnival. We usually retrieve them by the time they get to Sydney or Billings. I think people used to do the same with tbe circus. Remembet Toby Tyler Joins the Circus?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I’ve never liked circuses. When I was young, I remember being taken to the Shrine Circus at the old Minneapolis Auditorium. I found the clowns loud and disturbing. Even as an adult, the circus seems uncomfortably dark to me. The undertone is the possibility that something bad will happen.

    I agree with Tim about the Walker Sculpture Garden. I haven’t actually walked in the new layout but I think it was a mistake to take out the trees. The trees provided a screen that divided the garden into discrete rooms. I think the sculpture benefited from that. I have also never been a fan of the spoon cherry. Gehry’s glass fish was more impressive and wittier. I think the best open air sculpture garden I’ve visited was at the Burrell Collection near Glascow. The sculptures were Henry Moores.

    I’ve never tasted a champagne that made an impression. Meh.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A favorite circus song. WordPress is giving me trouble about posting this link. The song is Murray McLauchlan’s “Sweeping the Spotlight Away”, in case I am unsuccessful.

    Liked by 1 person

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