Saturday, July 30, 2005

Blowing Bubbles in front of Millions of Viewers!

On Wednesday afternoon we headed to Trenton, New Jersey, where we caught an Amtrak train north to New York City. Because of the boiling hot temperatures (which were magnified in the bowels of Manhattan) decided just to hang out at the hotel (the deco styled Waldorf Astoria) until it was time to meet up with our group for dinner. Among our group were the 5 Bubble Blowing finalists who'd defeated numerous competitors at the 3,000+ Wal-Mart stores this past June. Each kid brought along a parent (or for the PC crowd "guardian) which just so happened to be their mothers (what, no love for dear old dad?)

We had dinner at the intergalactic themed restaurant, Mars 2112, nestled in Times Square. It's a fun place, especially the kids, combining a ride along with martian terrain and mascot like creatures who walk among the diners.

From dinner it was back to our hotel, at a reserved meeting room, to meet the constants and to practice for the next day's activities. Since we'd be on live TV, timing was everything. Besides, we "measurers" had to know the correct way to measure the blown bubbles.

Now here I was in the heart of the most exciting city in the world. A city filled with clubs, events and things to do. A city, as they say, never sleeps. But I (and especially the kids) had to sleep. "Morning TV" isn't called "Morning TV" just for the hell of it. While I had the luxury of sleeping in at least until 6 AM, most of the others and the kids had to be at the studio by 5 AM!!! So.... might as well make use of this high priced hotel room and get to sleep early. (course, early for me is around midnight, but still....)

Thursday morning as we headed for our bus, to take us over to the Good Morning America studio, a striking figure walked by. A woman, wearing an unusual garb, much like a shiny red dental floss, guarded by a huge burly figure , proceeded ahead of us to an awaiting cab. On the back of the guy's shirt read "Bunny Ranch" and my first guess was "I bet they're going to the Howard Stern show" (and I was right).

Once at the station (which is also in Times Square) we headed into the Green Room (which of course isn't green) ate some bagels, drank some coffee (to wake us up) and awaited for our cue.

The kids didn't look that nervous, in fact overall they seemed like a good bunch. Along with the five finalists was last years' winner and since all she had to do was stand by and hand over the crown to the new champion, seemed the most relaxed.

Finally though at 8:30 AM, we were called out. Walking past the on air set we were elevated down, outside to the front of the building, where the kids were lead to their risers.

(It was funny, at least I thought so, to note that most everyone who worked their was a walking cliche. The make up artist looked effeminate and had his hair in a pony tail, the director wore a baseball cap, a beard and wore a hawaiian shirt and hell, even the hired photographer wore a beret!!)

The kids filmed a few commercial break shots, "Up next, the Bubble Blowing Finals...." and at 8:45 we five measures were lead out to the risers, took our positions kneeling in front of our assigned kid, bubble calipers in hand, and awaited our big moment.

Diane Sawyer (who was much shorter and "well packed with facial make up") stood by and after returning from the commercial gave the countdown. Just before the 2 minutes began though, one of the kids preparing his well chewed mouth full, inadvertently spit it out onto the sidewalk below! As the countdown reached 30 seconds panic arose, he asked for some new gum, but he obviously couldn't do that, he had no time to get it chewed to the correct flexibility.
(15 seconds...) so what else could he do? One of the measurers grabbed the discarded, soggy glop, handed it to the kid and after he brushed off as much of the Manhattan grime, plopped it back into his mouth and chewed through the grit. Just in time for.......

Now if this was a Hollywood script, the kid with the mouth full of bubble gum grit would win, or since I'm writing this, the girl who's bubble I was measuring would win. Alas though, that's not how it went. Instead a kid from, of all places, Wye, Arkansas (population 289) blew a 12.5" bubble and was crowned the 2005 champion!

So, that was it, we all came out and stood, facing the cameras on the riser, and posed for the goodbye/end credit shot. The event was over. And since all the viewing public saw of me was the back of my head, pretty painless.

I could go on here and give you the rest of the days' events, how we had to wait three hours at Penn Station since all Amtrak trains were delayed because of a bomb threat in New England, but I've already gone on long enough.

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