Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tuesday, June 30 & Wednesday, July 1: Council Bluffs, IA

6/30/15- Travel Day to Council Bluffs, IA

After just four hours of sleep we got up this morning and continued our drive to Council Bluffs, IA.
Luckily we drove almost half of the 540 miles last night, so the rest was an easy trip. That was a good thing, because the lack of sleep was really affecting me, and I almost fell asleep a couple of times. I had to keep singing along with my music to stay awake.

The Vazquez website lists us as playing Omaha, NE, but we are actually across the river in Council Bluffs, IA.
Our lot is in the parking lot of the Mid-America Center. I found it funny that besides this arena there is also a huge arena just a few miles away in downtown Omaha. I didn't realize this area was big enough to need two coliseums.

There is a movie theater across the street that I remember from when I was here nine years ago with Ringling. Our circus train was parked in Council Bluffs, but we were performing in Omaha.

Ryan, his family and I joined the other early arrivers, Viśan and his brother, Andrei, Carmelo and his family, and the Pompeyos over at Hooters to have dinner and watch the soccer game.

I didn't stay too late because I was wiped out from the drive and from being awake for so long. It felt wonderful to climb into bed and get a good night's sleep.

7/1/15- Council Bluffs, IA- Day Off!

Our trailers were parked in the early afternoon, and as soon as I was able to shower and get my house situated I went into town to run errands.

When I came back from the laundromat and post office I was able to hook both my house and Ryan's house up to power and water.
Ryan took his family to Carson & Barnes, which was playing about 80 miles from us. Tatiana, Nico, and Abrianna will be staying with the Fusco family for the weekend, and they'll be coming back before we leave Iowa on Monday.

Once I got our utilities hooked up properly I drove to downtown Omaha. I explored an area of the city called the Old Market, which had brick paved streets and many different shops and restaurants.
I had dinner at Blue Sushi and Sake, which is my favorite sushi chain that I've been fortunate enough to visit in Fort Worth, Denver, and now here.

After eating I looked around to see what the Old Market had to offer. My best finds were two cavernous antique shops that had so many awesome treasures.
One shop was selling almost every toy from the 1980s that you could think of. It was quite a trip down memory lane for me, especially when I got to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles section.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sunday, June 28 & Monday, June 29: Denver, CO

6/28/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I had breakfast at the Denver Biscuit Company. I had eaten there earlier in the week, and I couldn't wait to go back.
My meal was just as delicious as it was the last time, and even though there was a crowd waiting to get seated, we didn't have to wait too terribly long to get a table.

During the first performance the sky clouded over, which made the temperature in the tent much more bearable.
Sadly, I used a lot of energy in the first show instead of pacing myself, and I was worn out by the 5:00 p.m. performance.

I gave the third show motivational speech today. I read an article from a book that our friend, Mark Renfro, sent us called "The Imagineering Way", which is full of essays about inspiration and creativity written by the Imagineers, the visionaries behind Walt Disney theme park attractions.
The selection I chose dealt with getting out of your ruts, which can be a difficult thing to do when so much of our job depends on doing the same thing day after day, performance after performance.

6/29/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I spent my time either preparing my truck and trailer for travel, or resting up for our jump.

We had a big crowd for our final show in Denver. Business was great for our closing days in this city.
Our juggler friend, Reid, caught our last performance with a couple of his friends.

Ryan and I were able to hit the road about an hour after the show ended. We were able to hook up our trucks to our trailers during the afternoon, which helped us leave the lot faster than we normally would have.

We drove about 200 miles before stopping at a Walmart in Nebraska, but it was too small for us to spend the night in its parking lot.
We drove another 70 miles before finding a Walmart with a humongous parking lot.

Unfortunately we crossed a time zone on the drive, so by the time I got to bed it was already 5:30 a.m.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Friday, June 26 & Saturday, June 27: Denver, CO

6/26/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

I woke up this morning at 6:00 a.m. to get ready for a television publicity. Ryan, Jose Alberto, Alexa, Pompeyo, two of his dogs, and I went to the local NBC station to film an interview for the morning news broadcast.

We couldn't believe our ears when the first thing out of the reporter's mouth was, "Now, you may have noticed that there are two big tops in Denver right now. Cirque Du Soliel, and this one, the Vazquez Brothers Circus."

One thing we learned in media training on Ringling was NEVER mention another circus by name. Always push the name of your circus.
We were upset that not only did she plug Cirque Du Soliel during our news segment, she mentioned them before us!

Back at the lot I caught a few more hours of sleep, and then I went over to Ryan's house to visit with our clown friend from "Kurios", Facundo.
Tatiana made lunch for us, and we also played several games of Mah Jong.

Ken Manosh, who was a floor crew member when Ryan and I were on Ringling, came to watch the first show tonight with his family.
It was quite a nice surprise to see Ken; it's been ten years or so since I last saw him.

Ryan and I had an embarrassing moment during the first vacuum gag. When I pulled the vacuum nozzle off Ryan's face to reveal his elongated features, the piece of wood that Ryan bites onto to keep the mask in place broke!
All of a sudden the mask dropped to the ground and Ryan spit a jagged chunk of wood out of his mouth.
There was absolutely nothing to do since the gag was over and the ending was ruined, so we beat a hasty retreat.

We weren't exactly sure how we were going to fix the problem, but Martin found a piece of wood that was long enough to support the weight of the face and still have room left for Ryan to bite onto.
We spent the entire between show break fixing the mask, so hopefully it won't give us any more trouble in the future.

We were frustrated with the second audience. The first show had a small crowd, but they had lots of energy.
There were considerably more people at the second performance, but they gave us nothing.
I'm not going to miss doing the shows in Denver.

6/27/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I went to the Hammond Candy factory to get a free tour of the facility.
The tours are given every thirty minutes, and it consisted of a video history of the company, and then we got to see where the candy was made. We were able to see employees making ribbon candy and candy canes, which is a very interesting process.

At the conclusion of the tour everyone was given a free lollipop, and then we were ushered into the gift shop, where I purchased many different chocolate bars.
They had so many great flavors, like Red Velvet, S'mores, and Pigs & Taters (bacon bits and potato chips in the chocolate).

After the factory tour Emma and I headed downtown where we had lunch at Central Bistro & Bar. I had an unusual but delicious meal: Chicken fried brie and waffles. The waffles came with the fried cheese on top, along with blackberries and blackberry syrup.

After lunch we grabbed dessert at Little Man Ice Cream. The line was ridiculous, but there was an Express station set up with the most popular flavors, so we were able to get what we wanted without waiting forever.

We had fantastic audiences for the shows tonight. If the crowds responded like that the whole time we were here, Denver would hands down be my favorite stop on the tour so far.

After work I joined Emma, Viśan, Laura, Eddie, and Lilly for dinner and a drink at Will Call, a neat bar not too far from the lot.
I had an arepa, which is a Colombian dish consisting of a corn flatbread stuffed with different ingredients.  Mine had chicken, black bean paste, and plantains.

As I'm sure you can all tell by now, I absolutely love the food scene in Denver!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Wednesday, June 24 & Thursday, June 25: Denver, CO

6/24/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I had breakfast with Aaron Schettler. Aaron is a Clown College graduate, and he toured with Ringling’s Red Unit in the mid 90’s.
We ate at the Denver Biscuit Company, which had amazing food; all of the items on the menu revolved around biscuits.
My biscuit sandwich had an egg, fried chicken, honey, mustard, and pickles. It was delicious!

Ryan and I will be building props for the Pompeyo Family dog act for Vazquez’s 2016 season, so today we went to buy paint and foam coating.
To buy the foam coating we visited a Reynolds Advanced Materials, the same retailer I visited in Dallas.
It was neat to walk around the shop and check out the displays containing examples of props and masks that could be made with the different products.

Shelby had to drive to Fort Collins, CO for a doctor’s appointment this morning, but she came back to have an early dinner with me before she headed home.
We were going to go out to eat, but it was getting close to showtime, I didn’t feel like trying to find parking to dine at any of the nearby restaurants, and the sky was full of ominous looking clouds.

We simply decided to cook a pizza and visit at the lot. Just as we were sitting down to eat Ryan called and said that people were leaving the lot due to a tornado warning in the area.
I went outside to see what was going on, and Sandra, our general manager, was telling everyone to get over to the Denver Coliseum for safety.

I couldn’t believe the drastic change the weather had taken since the early afternoon. Rain was coming down in buckets, and many parts of the lot were flooded. The temperature had dropped considerably, and the wind had really picked up.

All of us from the circus drove over to the Coliseum and parked our trucks under the Interstate overpass; we then went into the office area of the arena to wait out the storm.
Shelby and I were laughing because everyone had brought their pets and children with them to keep them safe; we brought our pizza. I’d say we had our priorities straight!

Several of us were in a board room watching the weather report on a large, flat screen television. 
There was a shot of downtown, and prominently featured in the shot was the Cirque Du Soliel tent. Ryan yelled out, “Man, they get all the best publicity!”

After about ten minutes of hiding in the Coliseum the storm passed and we were able to go back to the lot.
I said goodbye to Shelby, and she headed home to Wyoming.

We had a small audience for the show tonight, but they had loads of energy. The cooler temperature and the buzz from the crowd gave me a lot of energy as well.

Yesterday my nose was ripped apart thanks to a combination of sunburn and surgical cement. I knew that if I just kept coating my nose in the adhesive that the skin would never heal.
Therefore I came up with the brilliant solution of bandaging my nose before applying the glue.

Unfortunately I bandaged too much of my nose, so there was not enough skin in contact with the cement. After the water gag my nose was hanging on by a thread.
There is only one act between the water and carpenter gags, so I didn’t have enough time to apply new bandages and glue on a dry nose.
I simply ran back to my trailer, painted on a red nose, and then used that until Intermission, when I had plenty of time to solve the problem.

6/25/15- 7:30 p.m.

Early this afternoon Ryan and I went to Eagle Rock Supply to pick up styrofoam to carve for the Pompeyo dog props.

Back at the lot my juggler friend, Reid Belstock, came to visit with his performing partner, Warren Hammond.
Ryan, Reid, Warren, and I had a juggling jam in the park right next to the lot. We tried all kinds of different club passing formations, and we had a lot of fun. I can’t remember the last time I tried such intricate multi person passes.

Tonight after the show Emma and I made a run to Voodoo Doughnuts. I was able to find a parking spot right across the street from the shop, which was excellent luck.

I got these delicious doughnuts:

A voodoo doll, a maple bacon bar, and an "Old Dirty B***ard"

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Monday, June 22 & Tuesday, June 23: Denver, CO

6/22/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I went to do laundry. I should have known I was in for some trouble when I saw that 70% of the washers were out of order.
I loaded my clothes into two working machines, but when I started them up, one of them didn't have any water.
I waited a minute to see if the water would start flowing, but my clothes just began tumbling dry, except for the detergent I poured into the top.

Unfortunately it was a front loading washer, which meant that the door locked as soon as I put the last quarter in. What made things even more frustrating was that there was no attendant on duty.
I started calling the laundromat in case there was someone in the office that I couldn't see, but a few minutes later the owner came strolling in.

I alerted him of the problem, and instead of just shutting off the machine so I could swap my clothes over, he stood in front of the washer for a good five minutes and just stared at the window, as if his gaze would will the machine to start working properly.

Finally he realized that he now had 71% of his washers that were out of order, so he cut the power to that machine and gave me quarters to properly wash my clothes.
Luckily there were no further problems.

While I was drying my clothes I walked around to find lunch. After eating I stopped by a business that caught my eye: a doughnut shop called the Fractured Prune.
It was a create your own doughnut shop; the doughnuts are made fresh when you order, and then you choose your glaze and topping.
In addition, they have a menu of popular creations to choose from.

In the afternoon there was a Circo Hermanos Vazquez vs. Cirque Du Soliel soccer game at the park right next to our lot.
I'm happy to say that our circus won 5-1, although it isn't too surprising considering our Latin American roots.
It's a good thing we weren't playing Cirque in an ice hockey game.

Another big group of crew members and performers came to see us from Kurios this evening.

After work we had a fantastic barbecue for our two shows. Cirque even brought over their chef, who was cooking lamb! It's nice to see how the other half lives.
I had such a nice time talking to everyone; I'm so happy that our two shows are able to have such great visits with each other.
I look forward to seeing all of them again when we get to Chicago.

6/23/15- 7:30 p.m.

I was happy today that my friend, Shelby, was able to come visit me.
Shelby only lives about two hours north of Denver in Cheyenne, WY, and it's ironic that my show got so close to her when we aren't dating anymore. 

Shelby and I walked around exploring downtown Denver, and we had lunch at the food trucks set up near the State Capitol building.
We picked a truck serving tacos, and we were not disappointed by our tasty lunch.

Next we walked over to Colfax Avenue, which is downtown Denver's main street. Our principal destination was Voodoo Doughnuts, a shop that is open 24 hours a day and features many unusual forms of fried dough.

My favorite doughnut on their menu is the voodoo doll, which of course is jam filled. The one I tried was called the "Old Dirty B***ard", which was a chocolate glazed doughnut topped with Oreo crumbles and peanut butter. 

Shelby and I must not have realized how much we walked out of the shade this afternoon, because both of us were pretty red by the time we got back to my trailer.

In fact, my nose got a particularly nasty sun burn, and when I removed the surgical cement from my nose after the show, I took a strip of skin with it.
Luckily Tatiana had some Neosporin for me to borrow for my new wound.

Shelby and I went to see the new Pixar movie, "Inside Out" after work tonight. I was disappointed in the short that played before the feature, but I loved the actual film.
It took a little while to get started because there was so much to set up, but once the story started rolling, there were so many clever and creative parts, which is just what I expect from a Pixar movie.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Friday, June 19-Sunday, June 21: Denver, CO

6/19/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This afternoon I had lunch at Blue Sushi and Sake. Yesterday when Laura, Emma, and I were walking around downtown I spotted the sign outside the restaurant, and I had to pop in to see if it was the same place that I had enjoyed so much in Fort Worth last year.
I was overjoyed to discover that it was the same, and I loved being able to get my favorite roll (eel, cream cheese, and pineapple) when I dined there today.

Before heading back to the circus I had dessert at Little Man Ice Cream, which was a shop decorated like an old fashioned milk tank.

I had salted Oreo ice cream, and it was delicious!

Ryan and I will be building new dog props for the Pompeyo family for next year's Vazquez tour, so today we got together to create a budget sheet for the project.

Back in Phoenix a famous radio DJ visited the show and sent me into a white hot fury with his lack of respect towards us.
Much to my dismay, he came back tonight to perform a special presentation before the beginning of each show's Intermission.

I stayed away from him to keep my stress level and gray hair count down, but we did have a minor interaction with him on stage during the first show.
After his introduction he came out and went from one dancer to the next, kissing them on the cheek. When he got to me, he gave a yell of disgust and waved his hand at me dismissively. 
He then went in the other direction and kissed the rest of the dancers on the cheek. As soon as he got to the end of their line, Ryan spun around to "tie his shoe", and the DJ got a clown butt in his face.
It was hilarious, and the audience got a big kick out of it.

After the first show Ryan and I were talking to a little girl dressed up like the character Elsa from Disney's "Frozen".
Ryan said something along the lines of, "My goodness; I didn't know there was a princess in the audience."
The little girl immediately shot back, "I'm not a princess! I'm a queen!"
Well, I didn't vote for her.

The one upside of the DJ being our special guest tonight was that we did great business. The second audience was fantastic; definitely the most responsive crowd we've had since we opened in Denver.

6/20/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning Kevin Harvey, his son, and his daughter-in-law came to pick me up for a fun day out.
Kevin is a graduate of Ringling's Clown College, and he toured with Circus Gatti and Carson & Barnes during the 1980s.

We went to lunch in downtown Denver, and then they took me to Boulder so we could walk around the Pearl Street Mall, which is an outdoor shopping plaza spanning three or four downtown blocks.
Kevin told me we might be able to catch some street performers, and sure enough we were able to see one man do some fire eating and a straight jacket escape.

Kevin and his family came to see the first show. While the cast was in the curtain area at the end of opening I noticed a huge shaft of light on part of the audience.
I asked why that was happening, and Ryan told me that the cupola at the top of the tent was open to let some of the heat out.

We had another great audience for the second show this evening. There were some people sitting at the very back of the ring that were having a great time. Maybe a little bit too much of a good time......
They were screaming almost the entire performance; sometimes at the strangest times. I wanted to ask them what they were on, and if they had any to spare. 
We are in Colorado after all!

6/21/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma picked me up at the circus, and we went to downtown Denver to have breakfast at Sassafras. 

We had forgotten that Denver Pride was going on this weekend, and when we got close to the restaurant we saw that it was located on Colfax Ave, which had people lined up on both sides in anticipation of the Pride parade.
Trying to find parking was a nightmare since so many streets were blocked off, so we decided to go to the other Sassafras location, which was closer to the circus.

Even though we beat the brunch rush, we still were quoted an hour to ninety minute wait for a table. The hostess told me that I would get a text when our table was ready, so Emma and I went for a walk.

It took about forty minutes for a table to open up, and our food was well worth the wait.
I wasn't too impressed with my meal the last time I visited Sassafras, but they had such an excellent menu that I wanted to give them another try.
This time around I had a Cajun Benedict which had shrimp and crab cakes with a crawfish hash topped with poached eggs and smoked cayenne hollandaise sauce. It was excellent!

Emma and I also got an order of beignets to go so we would have something sweet to enjoy during our three shows.

I started our performance day in a wonderful mood and with such great energy, but as the day wore on the heat (the temperature was in the high 90s) and the subsequent lack of energy from the audiences due to said heat robbed me of my good humor. 

Jo, one of the dancers, gave the motivational speech before the third show. She used the Forrest Gump line of "life is like a box of chocolates" as an example of the people on our show. She went through the cast and said which kind of chocolate we were most like. Ryan and I got Snickers because we and the candy bar are both nutty. 
The best part of the speech was that all of us got an actual candy bar based on our assignment. Hooray!

After the shows there was a barbecue to celebrate Carmelo's birthday. I didn't stay for too long because I was falling asleep on my feet after such a draining day.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Wednesday, June 17 & Thursday, June 18: Denver, CO

6/17/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I went to breakfast at the Egg & I with Reid Belstock. Reid is a Clown College graduate, and he has performed all over the world as a comedy juggler.
We had an excellent breakfast, and then we just sat and talked for a couple of hours while we digested.

Back at the lot I was feeling restless, so I took a walk to the RiNo district. It was about a four mile round trip, but aside from the stretches where I didn't have any shade, it wasn't bad at all.

I found a funny shop on the way into town called the Chocolate Crisis Center. They sell crisis kits, which are little medical kits containing pill bottles full of chocolate. The bigger the med kit, the bigger the "crisis" it is meant for.
The lady working behind the counter was very nice and encouraged me to try all the different types of chocolate so I could create the perfect custom kit, but I would have felt bad taking free chocolate since I had no intention of buying anything.

In tonight's show, from the start of the water gag, I got a feeling from the audience that we were doomed to fail.
It was quite a surprise then when we got a big cheer from the crowd in finale. I guess you just never know.

6/18/15- 7:30 p.m.

Ryan, Alexa, and I were picked up at 9:00 a.m. and taken to the local UNIVISION station for a television publicity.

While we waited to film our segment we had an excellent view of downtown and the Cirque Du Soliel tent.

Everyone at the station was so nice, and they thought our schtick on camera was hilarious, which made us like them even more!

After getting cleaned up from the PR I picked Emma up at her hotel and we headed to downtown Denver to explore.
We really didn't have any grand plan for our downtown visit; both of us had sights we wanted to see, and we decided to just go to them and see what else we could find in between.

First we visited the Convention Center, which has a gigantic blue bear peering inside.

Next we headed towards the State Capitol Building. 

On the way we passed by an area that had loads of food trucks set up in a giant oval formation. Apparently every Tuesday and Thursday the trucks are there during the lunch hours. 
There were so many different types of food represented; I will have to come back next week and visit a truck or two!

At the Capitol Building there is a step that is marked as being exactly one mile above sea level.

You all look like ants from up here! Wah ha ha ha ha!

After feeling superior for a few seconds, we started walking towards Union Station, which the television crew suggested we check out.

On the way we met up with Laura, who bicycled over from the circus, and the three of us had lunch at Snooze, which is an excellent breakfast place I visited in the Phoenix area.

Union Station was nice. Besides being a functional train station, it also had a hotel, shops, and restaurants (Snooze being one of them) inside and attached to it.

After leaving Union Station we spotted Tattered Covers, a huge book store. We spent some time browsing the different titles. I found several books that I have been looking for, but they were all full price. 
Being the cheapskate that I am, I'm going to continue to hunt until I can find used copies.

Emma, Laura, and I were all in the mood for something sweet, so on the way back to my truck we found a crepe restaurant.
We just happened to visit during their happy hour, so we were able to get a smaller portion crepe at half the price. 
It actually worked out perfectly, because I feel that eating a full sized crepe would have made me feel miserable.

My clown friend, Bob Kelmer, his two daughters, and his future son-in-law came to see the show tonight.

Bob brought me a book about Krampus, a demon who punishes naughty children at Christmas time. I cannot wait to read it!