Thursday, October 30, 2014
This morning I walked over to Flushing to do some shopping. I had to pick up a couple of supplies at Home Depot for our props, and while I was in the area I also had lunch at the New World Shopping Center. The Asian shopping center has a supermarket, clothing stores, and a food court taking up the entire bottom floor of the plaza.
There were so many different food stands to try that I can tell I will be back several times during our stay in Queens.
I missed a fair amount of excitement at the circus while I was out and about in Flushing. While the crew was pounding the big top's stakes into the cement, they hit an underground power cable that started an electrical fire and melted the stake and the metal plate surrounding it.
Because of that there was no power for most of the afternoon. Luckily by the early evening we were able to reconnect and have electricity again.
It was a nice, sunny, warm afternoon, so I took the opportunity to clean off and repaint our vacuum prop, which was looking pretty shabby.
I also watched a horror film called, "Deadly Friend", for the "Scare-athon". "Deadly Friend" was directed by Wes Craven, best known for the "Nightmare on Elm Street" and "Scream" horror franchises.
After watching this movie, I understand why he's not also known for "Deadly Friend". It was neat to see that a robot in the movie was voiced by Charles Fleischer, who voiced the main character from my favorite film, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit". That's about it....
In the evening I caught the subway up to Harlem to have dinner at the house of my friends, Seth Bloom and Christina Gelsone, better known as the "Acrobuffos".
Eggroll was the other guest on hand (the three of them worked together on Big Apple), and we were treated to Seth's delicious cooking.
I had such a nice evening talking and laughing with my friends; I'm really happy that they invited me over for such a fun night.
Back at the lot I got to visit with our friend, Josh Shack, who just arrived this evening and is visiting NYC for a few days.
Wednesday, October 29, 2014
Last night after taking my left contact out, my eye immediately turned red and became very sensitive. Any bright light would make it automatically squint shut and begin to water, and worst of all, just closing my eyes made my left eye hurt.
As you can imagine, it was not easy getting to sleep since I have not yet mastered sleeping with my eyes open like a snake.
I finally nodded off past 4 a.m., and I reluctantly rolled out of bed at 9. I went outside to roll up my cables and hoses, but since I could see that no one was really up yet, and Ryan and I were both still blocked in by another trailer, I went inside and went back to sleep.
Ryan woke me up about two hours later to let me know that he had moved his house up so I could get my truck hooked up to my trailer.
After some tricky maneuvering between tent cables, boxes of equipment, and other trucks, to get my vehicle back to my trailer, I was able to get my rig ready to go.
Around noon Ryan and I hit the road to Queens. We were a bit worried about midday traffic, but it wasn't bad at all.
About five miles into the drive we stopped to pay the toll to cross the Triborough Bridge. A few seconds after beginning to cross the bridge I got a call from Ryan saying that he thought I had a flat tire.
I pulled over to the side of the bridge to investigate, and although I didn't have a flat, one of my trailer tires had a terrifying, huge bulge in the rubber.
I'm very lucky it didn't explode and send my trailer swaying out of control....well, more out of control than my natural driving sends it, anyway.
Ryan and I got to work changing the tire, but we ran into an unseen obstacle. One of the nuts holding the tire on was stripped and rusted, and we were not able to get it off.
After fighting with it for awhile I was about to resign myself to reattaching the tire and driving really carefully to the next lot; luckily just at that moment two city mechanics showed up to help out.
They had the proper tools to get my bulgy, freak tire off in a matter of seconds, marveling at it all the while. Apparently they had never seen a tire react like that, and they kept commenting on how lucky I was that I caught the problem before it was much worse.
A big thanks to Ryan and Tatiana for being perceptive enough to spot it before it was too late, and to the two mechanics for saving me a hazardous trip.
After the two mechanics got my new tire on my trailer, Ryan and I hit the road once more.
Before leaving the lot, Ryan was told that he couldn't take the directions given to us on the route sheets.
Ryan's trailer was too tall, so he was given directions to follow the same route as the semis.
As we were following the signs for the truck route we were taken on a detour off the highway, and right ahead there was a low bridge.
Since I didn't think Ryan's trailer would make it under, I quickly put on my brakes and gave him a call so he could turn onto another street; I didn't want him to have to back up down a one way street in Queens.
Unfortunately this separated us, and I didn't have anywhere to pull over and wait until Ryan caught up to me.
(It turns out that Ryan was able to go under the low bridge, because that is how he was able to get back on the route. It would have been helpful for us to know exactly how tall his trailer is.)
I made it to the lot safely, but about two miles from the circus, Ryan's trailer was hit by a car. Ryan had to sort out insurance information with the other driver, and then they had to wait for a couple of hours for the police to arrive.
He finally got to the lot around 5 p.m.
Even though this jump was the shortest of the season (around 10 miles), it was the most stressful for both me and Ryan.
I'm just happy we finally made it.
In the evening I decided to go for a walk to explore our surroundings for the next five weeks.
We are right across from CitiField, and only one subway stop from Flushing, which came highly recommended to me as a place to get amazing food.
I walked over to Flushing and had dinner at a little sushi restaurant. One of the rolls I ordered was called the sushi sandwich. The rice was arranged as the bread, and the eel, spicy tuna, and avocado served as the meat of the sandwich. It was both delicious and aesthetically pleasing!
After dinner I took the subway to Long Island City to meet up with my friend, Lisa, for a drink. It's been a few weeks since I have seen her, because she has been flying all over the country for work.
Luckily I should be able to spend more time with her, and her boyfriend, Dan, while we're in Queens.
Tonight for the "Scare-athon" I finally watched a good horror movie! "V/H/S/2" is a great anthology of four short horror films, and I highly recommend it!
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
This morning I met Eggroll at Lincoln Center, and we walked over to the nearby Olympic Flame Diner to have breakfast.
On the way back to Lincoln Center he introduced me to Jimmy Tinsman, who works in the Big Apple Circus office.
I was very excited to meet Jimmy because he was a clown on Ringling back in the 1970s, as well as a performer with Big Apple during the show's early years; I didn't know that he was on the show again, so it was a nice surprise to get to meet him.
Today for the "Scare-athon" I watched another abysmal horror film called "Death Bed: The Bed That Eats".
I figure the title is pretty self explanatory, so I'll save myself the energy of talking about the plot.
I will say that it was a real chore to get through the movie. I sort of knew what I was getting myself into, but how could I not be curious about a movie with a title like that!?
We had big crowds for our three shows today. Unfortunately it was hard to summon the energy to do a good job; my body was feeling very tired.
For our third show inspirational speech I did a comedy striptease to that old standard, "The Stripper".
For the blow off to my routine I removed my shirt to reveal that I had written "5 More Sundays!" across my belly. (So, my math was off and we actually have six more Sundays. Big deal! I was hoping people would be impressed that I wrote so legibly on my own stomach.)
Afterwards the dancers told me how much they enjoyed my striptease, which marks the first time that women have said they liked it when I took off my clothes.
Load out was ridiculously easy tonight for me and Ryan. By the end of the show we had already gotten over half of the props out of the tent, and I had also loaded a few things into my trailer.
Everything seemed especially easy after the pain in the butt load out that we had in Miami.
One more jump, and one more city before the end of the season!
Sunday, October 26, 2014
This afternoon I went down to the Village to have lunch. I took my food to Stuyvesant Square so I could eat in the park.
It was a very relaxing and enjoyable way to dine. The weather was perfect and I loved watching the pigeons and squirrels fighting over food. It was like being in my own little Thunderdome.
The shows tonight were full, and the audiences were great, particularly for the second performance.
Tatiana and Nico came back from their trip to Massachusetts tonight along with Ryan's mother and grandmother.
Ryan was naturally thrilled to have his family with him again.
In the second show the power cut out during the end of the dog act. Eddie, our production manager, came over and told me to wait until the power came back on before starting the water gag.
Even though Ryan was on the other side of the tent and didn't get the message, I knew that he wouldn't start until everything was operational again.
The show stopped for a good thirty to forty-five seconds before our music kicked in. We started our entrance in the seats, and a few seconds later the lights found us.
Luckily the power to get down the motorcycle rigging was working properly; my worst fear was that the bike would be stuck up in the air while Ryan and I had to distract the audience in the seats for an indefinite amount of time.
The whole situation could have been so much worse.
Tonight I watched another horror dud for the "Scare-athon", the 1982 film, "Pieces", about a lunatic that kills people with a chainsaw. The movie actually showed great potential in its opening scene, but it quickly went downhill from there.
The highlight of the movie was this hilariously insensitive and racist scene that was in the movie for absolutely no reason whatsoever:
1982 was a different time....I guess.
Saturday, October 25, 2014
This morning I walked to the laundromat in Harlem to wash my dirty clothes. Usually I wait until a Monday to do that chore, but I wanted to save myself from doing laundry on a day off.
Today for the "Scare-athon", which I have been severely slacking on this season, I watched the stupid horror film "Dr. Giggles".
There actually were some decent moments in the movie, but I gave up on caring about halfway through when the titular doctor did in one of his victims with a giant, comical band aid.
I've been watching my fair share of dumb fright flicks this year, but that is mainly because I want to see some new movies to get me in the mood around Halloween, and I've already seen most of the good ones.
Ryan and I had a radio PR in the tent's concession area an hour before the show. We actually only did one brief interview during that whole hour.
The rest of the time we amused ourselves by playing dominoes and Jenga with boxes of Uncle Ben's rice that the DJs had cases of.....for some reason.
We did get to try our hands at being DJs, but that dream quickly collapsed once the real DJ caught us messing with his equipment.
I wasn't really feeling it for the shows tonight, and the audiences didn't seem to be in a circus mood either.
On the plus side, I may have found a solution to some of the problems we've been pulling our hair out over in the vacuum gag.
I always like it when an improvisation fueled by frustration turns out to be useful!
After the shows there was a surprise birthday barbecue for Yolanda, the wife of Enrique, our lightning tech.
Ryan and I spent the majority of the evening talking to Jose, the father of the Azzario Sisters and a member of the renowned Jose Michel clown troupe.
We enjoyed talking about clowning and circuses in Europe with Jose, and he was very gracious with advice and information.
Friday, October 24, 2014
The rain continued today, but thankfully not as strong as on Wednesday.
Helen joined me on a trip to the Upper West Side to visit the Candle Cafe West, a vegan restaurant.
Our food was good, but not as tasty as the meal I had at the Chicago Diner, a vegetarian restaurant that I visited five years ago.
Next we hopped on the subway and headed down to Union Square so Helen could sell some of her old books at The Strand. I admire her strength; I don't think I could ever part with any of my books.
Before heading back to the lot we stopped in at Max Brenner's, a fancy schmancy chocolate shop/restaurant in the area.
I got a cup of hot chocolate so potent in its sweetness that I thought I may have to amputate a few toes after drinking it.
Man, was it a great antidote to the dreary, cold, wet weather, though!
Speaking of sweets, I was amused to find a new addition to the backstage lounge in the tent today:
A vending machine! Now if we could just get some massage therapists and a blackjack table, we'll be in business!
We had a very lively audience for the show tonight, which was a treat.
There was a group of about six or seven payasos in the crowd wearing full clown make up and costumes.
They came into the ring after the show and immediately went to talk to the Vazquez kids.
Backstage I asked Jan if they were our replacements. Jan, never a slouch, replied with, "I hate for you to find out like this....."
Thursday, October 23, 2014
10/21/14- Day Off!
Today Ryan, Chase and I went down to the East Village to look around and window shop in all the different cool stores.
At 2:00 p.m. we met Ryan's high school friend, Nate Fernald, who writes comedy for television and also performs his own stand up comedy.
We ate lunch at Ben's, the great Jewish deli we visited on the last day off, and talked shop with Nate.
He was also nice enough to give us CDs of him and his partner performing stand up as "Team Submarine".
Ryan, Chase, and I submitted our names for the lottery to win tickets to "Book of Mormon", but once again we did not win.
Chase bought a ticket to "A Gentleman's Guide To Love And Murder", which we saw last week, and I checked the box office for the star studded show, "It's Only A Play", to see if they had any tickets for less than $100. Alas, those seats are sold out for the next few weeks.
Since the other Broadway shows I want to see aren't open yet, or I am waiting to see them with friends, I decided not to attend the theatre tonight.
Ryan, Chase, and I waited outside the theatre for "It's Only A Play" while I wrote down directions for Chase to find his way back to the lot after his show.
While I was writing I heard Chase say something along the lines of, "Oh my God", and then Ryan quickly said, "Steve, turn around."
I looked behind me and was thrilled to see brilliant comedic actor, Nathan Lane, one of the stars of "It's Only A Play", walking down the sidewalk towards us.
He walked by the three of us as we stared at him with our mouths hanging open and our hearts pounding in our chests.
That up close and personal celebrity sighting was definitely the highlight of my day off!
After parting ways with Chase, Ryan and I went back to the Village to pick up some of the items we had been eyeing earlier in the day.
We headed back to the lot afterwards, and I was overcome with exhaustion while we rode on the subway up to the Bronx.
Just the thought of the walk back to the tent was enough to wear me out even further.
Ryan and I didn't clean the water mat Monday night so we could rush out the door to my birthday party, so before we began relaxing for the rest of the evening, we went into the tent to get that task out of the way.
In Ryan's trailer we began watching a new television series that he picked up last week. Halfway through the first episode both of us were out like lights; we woke up as the credits were rolling.
I'm not sure if that was a reflection on the show, or our late night and full day of walking around Manhattan.
Once we had woken up again we listened to the "Team Submarine" CDs which Nate had given us; those provided us with many laughs until Chase returned from seeing his show.
We spent the rest of the evening talking clowning with Chase and eating the ice cream that he brought as a free roll.
10/22/14- 7:30 p.m.
Today was a rainy day, so I didn't stray too far from the lot. I went over to Target in the morning to have a coffee at Starbucks and to use Wifi to download my "stories" (said like an old woman talking about soap operas).
Later in the day Ryan, Chase, and I walked to a pizza joint to grab a few slices to go. We enjoyed them in Ryan's trailer where it was warm and dry; we spent the whole afternoon talking shop and watching clown and comedy videos.
All evening it would just not stop raining. I had to do some creative exits after the water and carpenter gags because the area under the seats where I usually leave was flooded from all the precipitation.
Chase watched the show with two of his friends from the Ringling Red Unit, Brian Wright, a clown, and his wife, Tatiana.
Chase, Brian, and Tatiana visited with us briefly after the show, but then they had to head out since they open in Bridgeport, CT with Ringling tomorrow night.