Saturday, February 28, 2009

February 27: An Addendum

Hey everybody, 
Seems I forgot a couple of details of my day yesterday. That's what happens when you post at 4:30 a.m. I suppose.
Right before the first show started Casey had a "wardrobe malfunction" when his boots split wide open. Oh Casey and his cankles! 
Luckily John Moss saved the day by having an extra pair of boots that were big enough for Casey to wear. Johnny Moss Jr. heroically ran the gauntlet from the backstage to his home to retrieve his dad's boots, with moments to spare. We all heaved a collective sigh of relief when "America's Own" was ready to take command in the steel arena! (Boy am I going to get it for that)
A reader of my blog was at the second show last night. Hello! Please e-mail me the picture you took of us ( and I'll put it up. That goes for any fans (or enemies) who come to see the show!
Finally, the faucet to the sink kept falling off during the second show last night. I was kind of a smart ass about it, but the truth is I should have fixed the problem when I first noticed it. 
I took some time before finale and after the show to right that wrong.
Thank you! Now back to your normally scheduled programming!

"Ya Sidewinding Cracker Crooker!"

Friday, February 27: Palmview, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
I was woken up this morning by the sweltering heat in my room. For some reason my AC doesn't want to cool down my room properly.
Once I was up and showered, I went on another of my walks. This time I explored a different area of Palmview and found the main thing I was looking for, a mail drop box.
I grabbed some lunch from a Mexican restaurant by the lot, and while I was there I was joined by Rae and one of the Fusco brothers.
After a stop at the Dollar Store I went back to the lot to get props ready for the show. I attempted to take a little nap later in the afternoon, but at some point during my slumber the generator blew and my room became an oven with the AC not functioning. For once I was glad that my hot water wasn't working in my shower, a nice hose off with the icy water felt great!
We had another small crowd for the first show, but we had a nice sized crowd for the second show.
I had fun at both performances. I was in a really good mood since I am over my cold. In the first sink gag Ryan and I played "Canadian plumbers" and added an oo sound to everything we said to each other.
I improvised a new bit for the sink gag opening that got a great laugh; that felt really good. Ryan and I also tried out another new bit in the second sink gag, it went alright. I think with time and practice it will be good.
Playing with the audience at Intermission was also a lot of fun in the second show; they were a lively bunch.
John Moss cracked us up at the end of the second show. We always throw around lines from Blazing Saddles in the shovel gag (and backstage to make Natalie laugh). While John was making his final announcement after the show he added, "ya cracker crooker", which floored Ryan and me.
After the shows we got cleaned up and several of us from the show went to club Tao again. The Fusco brothers, Rae, Courtney, Ryan, and I all went with Alex and Margaret. It was a lot of fun, especially with Rae, who was the life of the party and was making us laugh the whole night.

Friday, February 27, 2009

A Palm With A View

Thursday, February 26: Palmview, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
I got up at 5:30 a.m. and walked over to the cookhouse to meet Jan, the cook. Yesterday I made a deal with her that I would drive her little RV for her from town to town. In return she is paying me a little extra money every week. She also said that I could eat in the cookhouse for free! Wait a minute...
I had to wait a little while before we could take off because Jan has to give out coffee and fruit to the drivers before they take off. We finally hit the road around 6:30 a.m.
It was a very easy drive, a straight shot in fact, so I didn't have to worry about blowing the arrows too much.
Jan has worked on a ton of circuses and was even with Ringling in 1960 and 1961; I know I will be picking her brain for stories on our many rides together.
Once we got to the lot I went for a little walk while I waited on my house to arrive. The lot is actually pretty nice, grassy and no sand spurs!
Once the generator truck showed up I crawled back into my lair and went back to sleep.
When I got up I washed my sink gag overalls. They got filthy in the last town from rolling around on the muddy tarp.
Speaking of the tarp, when Ryan was up we washed it off. It looks so much better now. I am glad we are not on a dusty lot this town.
I went for my customary walk around town this afternoon; there is really not that much to report. I was disappointed.
Back at the lot I got some sewing done before supper, and then it was show time.
The first show had a tiny audience, but surprisingly they were into the show and having a good time.
The second show had a bigger audience, but they were a lot more reserved. The people here have been so hit or miss; it is strange.
At least I was having a good time; I kept throwing out little one liners to try and crack Ryan up during the gags.
We used our small back up tarp for the sink gags tonight. It is so much easier to manage, I don't think we'll go back to the big tarp.
One last note on the sink gag, tonight during the second one, the lighting guy must have been having a stroke, because the lights were going crazy. And here I was under the impression that we were at a circus, not a disco!
After the shows it was time for more good food and good times at "America's Own Bar & Grill". I am going to miss these nights most of all when we start the one day stands next week.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

So Long Roma, Hello Palmview/Mission, TX!

Wednesday, February 25: Roma, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Thank God I was feeling much better this morning than I did yesterday. After I got up I went for a walk to get some lunch and see some more of Roma.
The city is pretty run down and desolate in the area I walked around. I did walk right by the bridge that you can cross to go into Mexico though.
Back at the lot Ryan and I watched Howard the Duck on What a terrible movie!
I tried to take a little nap before the shows, but it was so hot that I couldn't fall asleep. It was a real scorcher today, and for some reason my AC wasn't putting out enough air to cool my room down.
Finally I gave up and lounged outside the Alley in a chair situated in the shade; it was much more comfortable.
After getting all the props set for the show and eating supper, I got made up. 
Maybe part of it was the heat, maybe part of it was the audience, I'm sure a lot of it was the cold I have developed, but I was so drained for these two shows.
The first had our smallest crowd yet, but funny enough we won them over and they ended up having a good time.
The second show had a pretty big audience, but they just weren't into the show. I was almost late for one cue because either the riding act was cut short without me knowing, or I wasn't paying attention (Being human, I'd like to think that it was the reason that wasn't my fault). I pulled on my wig right before busting through the curtain; it was a close call.
By the end of the show I was really dragging; I need to take some more of the Emergen-C that Nat gave me. Hopefully it will kick this cold's butt before our six pack this weekend.
Tear down was easy; John Moss helped us load up the box truck, which was nice since I was a little lacking in the strength department this evening.
I made sure to go to bed as early as I could tonight so I could get my rest before I drive in the morning.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Can We Leave Roma Already?

Tuesday, February 24: Roma, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
I woke up at 9:00 a.m. this morning and felt miserable. It was way too hot in my top bunk and my head was killing me. 
I only had two beers last night, but the way I was feeling this morning led me to believe that I got dehydrated. There is no other way that little amount of alcohol could have packed that much punch.
I quickly drank two bottles of water and then tried to go back to sleep with my head pounding and my stomach feeling like a water bed.
Finally I got up to move around a bit and I visited with Casey and Natalie. Casey got much enjoyment out of how much of a light weight I am.
I went to the cookhouse to eat something (just two pieces of white bread) and then I drank some more water. 
My stomach had finally calmed down, but my head was still killing me. I spent most of the afternoon sleeping, and when I woke up I felt like a million bucks comparatively.
I walked over to the grocery store to get more water, and then I busied myself getting ready for the shows. I was ravenous by supper time, so I wolfed down all that cookhouse had to offer.
Attendance was better today than yesterday, but the crowd had no interest in the show. At first I was worried that it was just us, but parts of the show that usually get huge reactions got nothing.
Although I was relieved, it still doesn't make our job any easier. Ryan and I were getting pretty frustrated about the whole thing, but I did feel our gags went well. Sink gag in particular felt a lot better than it did yesterday.
When we ran out for our warm up in the second show, we went to the center to do our little dance and then we styled. Nobody clapped, which is normal. We try one more time. Usually the audience gets it by that point and will cheer for us. This audience just gave us the silent treatment again.
Ryan broke down laughing and I tried to leave the tent. Ryan called me back over and we cut right to the meat of the routine, doing a two man high.
Well, this was an un wise decision because Casey and Natalie weren't ready with the tigers yet, a fact we became aware of when we were done. Ryan improvised something to fill some more time, and all was well. It was a less than auspicious way to start the show though.
A little switching around had to be done in the show. Friedman, who does the rola bola act, has been gone since yesterday to pick up a show truck. Naturally his act has not been in. Patsy, one of the production women who has been taking over the Cainan's dog act, left suddenly today. Then, before the shows tonight, Josie's baby boy, Max, fell while playing and broke two of his teeth. Josie and her husband, Marcileno, had to rush Max to the emergency room, so for the first show Josie wasn't in the horse act and Marcileno wasn't there to help the ring crew set and strike props.
Luckily Max is doing fine, even though he broke two of his teeth. We almost had another casualty to broken teeth in the second show though.
We were doing the shovel gag, and Ryan accidentally slapped the ever loving snot out of me. He hit me so hard on the left side of my face, that my jaw and teeth on the right side of my face were sore! I was more than a little angry, but managed to keep my cool in the ring. Backstage I asked him to be more careful unless he wants a toothless partner.
I was afraid some serious damage had been done, because my jaw and teeth hurt like hell. After some time and assessment, it seemed like all was well. We'll see how it feels in the morning.
On top of everything else, I am coming down with a sore throat and a stuffy nose. I just wanted this day to be over with.
After the shows Natalie was nice enough to give me some Emergen-C for my budding cold, and then Ryan and I joined John Moss and his family over at Casey and Natalie's for another cookout.
Ryan and I wound up staying over and talking with the Cainans until the power was shut off around 2:00 a.m.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Call The Big One Chocki

Monday, February 23: Roma, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Waking up at 5:30 a.m. wasn't as bad as I had expected, even though I had gone to bed only four hours earlier.
It was only about an hour drive to Roma, TX. The lot is a dump; lots of dust and nasty grass. The good thing is sand spurs seem to be absent. On the outskirts of the lot are a bunch of rusting semis and buses, apparently we are also right on the Mexico border. Border patrol is everywhere!
The generator truck that is also our home wasn't parked yet when we arrived, so we walked to the market right next to the lot.
I'm assuming it was the 4 hours of sleep, but we were pretty punch drunk. Everything made us laugh. It all started with the cookies that I bought named, Chokis.

Next we were laughing at the pinatas that you could buy. All were cheap bastardizations of popular characters: Superman, Tigger, a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, etc. The one that made us laugh the most was "Elmo". His face was turned upwards while he seemed to be screaming his misfortunes to the Heavens. The visual of a bunch of little Mexican children beating this screaming red monster with bats naturally gave us quite a giggle. 

Finally our house was parked and I went back to sleep for awhile. When we were both up, we unloaded the Alley and I went for a walk for three reasons: 1) to get some lunch 2) to see what I could find around the lot and 3) to get some me time.
There is not too much around the lot, but the grocery store is definitely a plus. Back at the lot we both had a lot to keep us occupied. Getting the sand spurs from last town out of my rug was a big concern. I also cleaned and shined my shoes, fleshed my skull caps, and washed my sink gag coveralls.
Ryan went to work de and re constructing the rifle we use in the shovel gag and the finale. He finally got it working again (or so we thought).
We also laid out the tarp for the sink gag to dry. It got filthy in the last town due to all the dust. When we would take it outside the tent to shake it off, it would get all muddy. The final show in McAllen, there were big mud puddles on the tarp that I was falling in.
We let all the mud dry on it so we could sweep off the dust.
Next we ventured back to the grocery store to pick up some meat for a BBQ tonight. We passed on the boiled Skeksis head and settled on steaks.

Back at the lot I rushed around trying to get a lot of things accomplished before the shows. Once again I was ready for the show just minutes before our warm up started.
Both shows today were sparsely attended. The audience was not into us at all either. Maybe they would have thought we were funny had we blown whistles and worn powder fart rigs, but tonight they wanted nothing to do with our slapstick chicanery. 
I felt the gags went very well too; we made very minor changes to the shovel gag to compensate for the rough ground, but those went smoothly.
People were pretty rude while we were meeting and greeting during the Intermissions as well. I am not digging these Roma audiences so far. They have two more days to prove me wrong!
I tried to be as wacky as possible in the second show to keep my spirits up. I had fun even though the audience didn't seem to.
The gun continued to not work today. Ryan concocted a new theory as to why the squibs are not going off. Perhaps we need a new bottle of flash powder. I hope his theory is correct, because it is fixable, unlike my theory: God hates us.
After the show Ryan and I went across the street to pick up some drinks and then we met Casey and Natalie at "America's Own Bar & Grill" for some good times and good food.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Six Pack Number Two, Down The Tubes!

Sunday, February 22: McAllen, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.
After getting paid this morning, eating breakfast, and cleaning up I went for a little walk. I went to Barnes & Noble and ran into Mr. North's wife, Shirley. We chatted for a bit and then I pressed on to Ben & Jerry's where I ran into Jeff. We chatted over ice cream and then I meandered over to the gas station to buy some bottles of water. It was a long walk back to the lot to be carrying a 24 pack of water, but it was a necessary trek.
Back at the lot Shirley let Ryan and I watch the video she took of our gags. It was nice to see them so we could see what plays and what doesn't.
I was so behind in getting ready for the shows today; I took some time to shine my shoes before making up, and as a result, I was ready just minutes before we had to open the show.
On top of that, my shoe polishing was proven futile when I got a dust coating on them almost as soon as I stepped out of the Alley.
The first two shows today were packed, the third show was about 3/4 full. The audiences didn't seem as energized today. I guess the 11th Commandment was "Thou Shalt Not Be Loud At The Circus On Thy Sabbath".
The shovel gag has been getting great reactions, but it feels like we are slipping on the sink gag. Perhaps we have become a little too comfortable with it; will definitely be worth examining. 
At one of the shows today John Moss's wife, Reyna, was missing for opening, so when all the ladies take their positions for John's opening announcement, I jumped up and took her spot, trying my best to be pretty. I think I succeeded.
The gun once again failed to go off in the finale of the first two shows. Oddly enough it worked fine for the shovel gag. In between the second and third shows Ryan tried to fix the problem, but now the gun's squib mechanism doesn't work at all. Also the toolbox handle broke between those two shows. D'OH!
I was in a wacky mood for the third show. It all started in the warm up when I was getting the crowd to yell, "YEAH!" to get Ryan to let me stand on his shoulders.
On one side of the tent no one made a noise, except for a solitary, "No."
I yelled out, "Who said no!?", which got a laugh.
I then proceeded to tell the audience that we were going to do the trick whether they liked it or not. Fortunately, they did.
I was very zany for the third Intermission. One whole section was laughing every time I made a face for a picture. It just egged me on to make stupider faces with every picture I took.
I then had fun messing with the girls behind a table by the entrance who were handing out pamphlets for Lasik Eye Surgery; I made a house of cards out of the pamphlets and generally reduced the table and the surrounding area to utter chaos.
After the show we took down the curtain and got the box truck loaded up. It got pretty darn chilly over the past couple of nights, and I discovered that leaving my bucket of water out all day until I took my make up off was not a good idea. The water was freezing! Likewise, we were not having a good time post sink gag in the chilly wind. Whose bright idea was it to do a water gag on a mud show anyway!?
After we were all packed up Ryan and I walked over to the gas station to get some food, and then we called it a night.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Reach For The Sky, Pilgrim"

Saturday, February 21: McAllen, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.
All I have to say is that three show days are a blessing when they start at 3:00 p.m. for two reasons: 1) The Ringling 3 show day would start at 10:30 a.m. and b) I got to sleep around 5:00 a.m.
I kept waking up a lot earlier than I wanted to because I was afraid of over sleeping after the debacle with my phone alarm clock the other morning. At one point I woke up to see it raining out my window. Great.
 I finally got up around noon and walked over to the gas station for lunch since I slept through cookhouse. The day turned out to be nice, albeit a tad humid after this morning's rain. 
I was pretty much a zombie all the way up until show time. It took me so long to put on my make up.
The heat in the tent for the first show didn't help my energy level, but once we got into our gags, I was good to go.
We had a little excitement that got my adrenaline going before the first show. We somehow managed to misplace almost all of the props for the sink gag. We were running around frantically trying to find them all until we realized a good samaritan had put them in an overhead compartment of the band wagon for safe keeping. What a relief; I wasn't really in the mental state for a complete gag re write.
All three shows today were crowded, which was nice. Third show in particular was packed; they had to bring in extra bleachers.
The gags went well today; big laughs in the shovel gag, which is a nice change of pace, and the sink gag was consistently funny as well. 
In between shows there were two ladies in the backyard snapping candid photos of circus life. Keep your eyes peeled for any shots of me hamming it up in my clown boxers.
A new element was added into the finale today, a giant drop down poster of John Wayne. This is prompted to drop by Ryan and I firing at it with guns; in the first show it went off without a hitch. The squib on the rifle went off nicely and the banner dropped revealing the Duke in all his glory.
In the second and third shows, the squib for the rifle didn't go off, which made the whole banner drop a little underwhelming. It also prompted plenty of "shooting blanks" jokes from me directed at Ryan.
Third show was just not our show. In the warm up I lost my balance doing the two man high and sat down abruptly on Ryan's head. We made a bit out of it, and even people with the show asked if we meant to do it, since we played off it so well.
Next in the shovel gag Ryan almost wiped out trying to jump over the net that keeps the audience from the curtain area. I also couldn't catch a flying shovel to save my life.
Finally in the sink gag I totally flubbed the pulling off the countertop with the plunger bit. Oh, and did I mention Ryan was shooting blanks in the finale? (tee hee)
After the last show Ryan and I went over to Casey's trailer for some ribs; we had a good time doing what we do best: eating and talking!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

"I Have A Good Mind To Go To A Club So I Can Beat You Over The Head With It!"

Friday, February 20: McAllen, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
This morning Ryan and I defiantly gave the finger to "the man" by skipping the 10:00 a.m. cast meeting!
Ok...actually my phone malfunctioned and my alarm didn't make any noise to wake me up. I just wanted to write something that made us sound cool, instead of like the couple of jack asses we are.
As soon as I woke up, I called Jim Royal and John Moss to apologize; luckily all was well.
John gave Ryan a lift to Home Depot to buy some supplies, and on the way they dropped me off at the laundromat to do a load of laundry.
We timed it well, they came back shortly before I was all done, so I got a ride back to the lot with the clean laundry.
I was going to walk over to the Verizon Store to see about my phone's alarm problem, but I figured it out myself. Instead I set some props for our show tonight.  
I was not in a good mood before the first show, luckily we had great crowds at both performances that picked up my spirits. Second show in particular was packed. 
We made some small changes to the shovel gag that really made a difference. We got big laughs in the gag for the first time since Brownsville. Sink gag also went well for both shows; I definitely needed the boost that all the laughs gave me.
After the shows Ryan and I got cleaned up and went over to Casey and Natalie's trailer for a BBQ. We only stayed for a short time though, because Alex and her friend, Margaret, came by to pick Ryan and I up.
We went to a club named Tao; usually I am not a big club fan, but even I had a good time tonight. It was a lot of fun dancing with the girls, even if I was partly deaf by the time we left.

Friday, February 20, 2009

24 Hour Mexican Restaurants Are Awesome!

Thursday, February 19: McAllen, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
This morning when I came out of my room I saw that there was an ambulance by the tent. I was immediately concerned and went to find out what happened.
Rae, one of the flyers, was up on the trapeze platform, while his brother, Eric, was adjusting the rigging. Through some miscommunication, something snapped and the platform just dropped, sending Rae crashing to the ground.
Luckily he was only bruised and shaken up. They tried to take him to the hospital, but he refused. Whew.
A bunch of us from the show went to the home of Pat Davison. He and his wife, Marites, and his daughter, Mabelle, were performing with us for the first two towns of the tour. They invited us over to their beautiful house for lunch. The food was plentiful and delicious, and we had a great time just relaxing outside of the show environment. We even got to sing some karaoke. I rocked the joint with two standards, New York and Rainbow Connection.
Back at the lot we set up our props for the shows tonight and then I went on a little excursion. I went to Barnes & Noble to peruse for a little while, and I also just walked a bit.
I didn't feel that any of the gags in tonight's shows went particularly well. It was just an off day all around. Props were coming apart or not working, costuming needed fixing, and I just didn't find my funny groove.
Despite that, I had so many people in the Intermissions telling me how funny we were and that they really enjoyed our work.
Ryan and I had some funny improv going on in the second Intermission; I really like the time that we get to connect with the audience. Intermission is a much better time for meet and greet than before the show, because the audience has gotten to know us a little bit and they know what we can do.
Ryan knocked the snot (literally) out of me with the basin at the end of the sink gag. It sent both my clown nose and my wig sailing. 
After the shows I had thirty minutes until Barnes & Noble closed. I raced to get out of make up so I could go over there again. This was a problem since our water was not working for some reason.
Since I had forgotten to fill up my bucket earlier, I stole some of Ryan's water. I raced over to the store with twenty minutes to spare. I just wanted to enjoy the simple pleasures that a mud show doesn't always afford: a clean bathroom, a sink, a nice cafe to sit in and eat know, all the finer things in life!
Back at the lot I found Ryan and Casey hanging out with Alex Osorio, who had been watching the show. She is part of a circus family, and she took Ryan and I out to a 24 hour Mexican restaurant. Since she was nice enough to drive, we paid for the meal. We had a good time talking and joking around with her.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Hope We Aren't Playing Crystal Lake, NJ This Tour

Wednesday, February 18th: McAllen, TX-7:00 p.m.
When I went to get breakfast this morning, I barely avoided a HUGE inverted ant bed in the dead center of the cookhouse tent. A bunch of big red ants were busy at work hauling food.
This lot is pretty rough; it is a random mix of grass and dirt, and there are burrs all over the place.
To make up for it, we are in a nice location. Across the street is a little strip mall. Ryan and I walked around it for a bit this afternoon. I got a jump rope and some knee braces at Sports Authority, some blank DVDs at Best Buy, and we got some lunch at a sushi restaurant.
Back on the lot we noticed an abundance of jack rabbits in the parking area of the lot. Ryan and I devised a cunning plan to catch one of the critters.

Sadly the jack rabbits are a very wise breed and saw right through our clever ruse. Perhaps some bait would have helped.
Ryan and I watched another episode of Trailer Park Boys before getting our props ready for the show.
Tonight was a buy out show, and there was only one of them! The tent was about half full, at least the seats were all paid for. What they lacked in size, they made up for in enthusiasm.
I didn't feel the shovel gag went very well. We are still working without the ring mat for this gag, and I got a handful of burrs on one of my front falls. Also, I wiped out trying to grab my pith helmet on the way out of the gag.
A lot of people during Intermission told me they really liked the gag though, so I guess that just goes to show you...well, I'm not really sure what. Insert your own wise saying there.
The Fuscos, a family comprising of jugglers and gauchos, showed up tonight. They are with us for the next 3 weeks. I worked with them in December of 2007 with the Bill Hall Christmas Tour.
After the show Ryan and I got cleaned up and walked about two miles to a movie theater to see Friday the 13th. I was impressed; it was scary and there were lots of great death scenes for horror fans like us!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What Does Elvis Have To Do With Los Fresnos?!

Tuesday, February 17: Los Fresnos, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
After lunch today, Ryan and I went on a little expedition. We walked about a couple miles and found some essentials, a Dairy Queen, a market, a Dollar General...all the finer things in life.
We also found a place called Little Graceland. I'm not really sure what it was, but I assume it was a fan's collection of Elvis memorabilia. There was even a little toy house replica of Elvis's birthplace in the yard. According to a sign out front, it was in the Top 5 visited private houses, right up there with the White House and the real Graceland.
Unfortunately, time did not permit us to view this national treasure.

Ryan and I watched some Trailer Park Boys before supper. Trailer Park Boys is a Canadian sit com set up as a reality show. Ryan was introduced to it in Japan and he got me into it last year in Myrtle Beach.
When Ryan and I were going to start getting in to make up, we got into conversation with two sideshow/circus performers that were visiting. 
I noticed that time was running short, so I excused myself and started getting ready. I checked my clock and saw that I had 20 minutes. When I was almost finished I checked again, and we had 5 minutes!
I looked into the Alley and Ryan was only half way done with his make up. I told him to slap it on, and the mad rush began. 
I threw on my costume and finished my make up, the black under my eyes. While Ryan was powdering John started his pre show announcements. I ran over and told him to give Ryan a minute. 
Right after I said that I saw Ryan fly by pulling on his costume as he went. I told John we were ready and we went out to start our warm up.
I have no idea where the time went. I think we hit a time warp at some point and lost about ten minutes.
Obviously the audience hit a time warp too, because the first show crowd was pretty sparse.
Nothing we did got much of a reaction until we hit the sink gag; they were totally behind us for that.
Between shows I found out that we are moving to McAllen, TX tonight. Jim Royal told me this morning, but I thought he was joking!
Between shows I started packing up the Alley and my room for the jump. 
Christy McDonald, a former Blue Show clown, her boyfriend, and a couple of her friends came to the second show.
The audience was much better for that show, and our gags got great reactions. I always like to look good, but I especially like to look good when I have friends in the audience.
Shovel gag was much better this show; maybe we tightened it up or maybe our timing was better this show, but it got good laughs.
When we start the sink gag, John Moss is in the ring saying, "Folks, this is very embarrassing, but there is a sink in the employee cafeteria that needs fixing. Is there a plumber in the tent?"
Ryan and I then yell, "We're plumbers!" and run in from the main entrance onto the track.
Second show we let out our battle cry. Ryan was in front of me yelling something as he ran until all of a sudden his shoe caught on something and he ATE IT!
Ryan fell flat on his face and literally skidded on his stomach a foot or two. I just kept running and when I stopped I made a bit out of having lost Ryan.
The fall got a huge laugh and started us out on the right foot. Oh, Ryan was ok win!
After the show we packed up the Alley and took down the curtain. Once we were all packed and ready for the jump, Ryan and I went to put our huge sheet of plywood in the generator trailer. We fought with it, trying to get the big awkward sheet into a small space. We finally got it in after a few minutes, and as soon as we did, we heard a huge cheer from behind us. We turned and looked, the entire tent crew had stopped what they were doing and had been watching us act like a couple of monkeys trying to put a square peg in a round hole. 
While we waited for Josie we walked around the fairgrounds a bit. It was getting a little similar to some sets out of Texas Chainsaw Massacre, so we turned around and headed back to the lot.
When Josie was all packed up, we loaded into the van with her and took off to McAllen, TX.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

(Title Missing)

Monday, February 16: Los Fresnos, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
I woke up this morning at 6:00 a.m. after 2 1/2 hours of sleep; I was less than thrilled to be up. Ryan and I hopped in the van with Josie and we drove the 9 miles to Los Fresnos, TX.
My house pulled into the lot shortly after we had arrived, and as soon as it was parked I went into the room and went back to sleep!
I woke up and went to lunch and then Ryan and I unloaded our props. The flyers left their trampoline in the Alley and the box fans are also in there, so space is very tight.
We are on a nice lot, fairgrounds, and the grass is nice and short, unlike in Brownsville. 
Ryan and I did some bucket laundry today; we washed our sink gag shirts and some of our undershirts. We rigged up a make shift laundry line between the tent and the Alley.

We are back to our regular show line up for this town. This meant that the shovel gag is back in and we aren't covering the net strike.
Both shows tonight were about 2/3 full. The audiences were a lot more reserved than in Brownsville, which I thought was interesting. Strange how 9 miles can make so much of a difference.
We really had to start from scratch to get them going for the warm up. The prospector gag received luke warm reactions; I guess those two days off from the gag didn't help.
It also didn't help that the crotch on both of our prospector pants ripped wide open the first show!
The only other snafu was that squib on our rifle didn't go off in the second shovel gag.
Sink gag continued to be our strong point and got our biggest reactions both shows; maybe by that point we had really warmed the audience up to us. Or maybe Los Fresnos just likes to watch two Gringos destroy a sink!
We were in a zany mood for the second show and we kept cracking each other up; hopefully some of the fun flowed into the audience.
Intermission was very laid back after the hectic pace in Brownsville. I was able to connect with people a little more and do some bits rather than being poked and prodded every few seconds for a picture or autograph.
After the shows Casey and Natalie Cainan had Danny, Tavana, the Davison Family, Ryan, and I over for a cook out. It was a good time with good food and lots of good stories.
I thought it was funny that we were all sitting in a circle, eating and talking, flanked on either side by sleeping tigers just three feet away. I love the circus!

Monday, February 16, 2009

So Long Brownsville!

Sunday, February 15th: Brownsville, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.
This morning I stumbled out of bed to get paid. Having accomplished that, Ryan and I went to get some lunch and then some necessary supplies from the grocery store. Word is that there are only two things in Los Fresnos, Jack and Squat...and Jack just left town.
Lance Brown, a very funny and talented clown on the Red Unit, posted a video on YouTube where he and someone else are dressed as yamma clowns teaching the viewers about the finer points of Birthday Party Clowning.
All day Ryan was quoting the video. "Is your birfday?" "Too slow!"
I was about at my wit's end, thanks a lot Lance!
I did not have much get up and go today. It was a dreary, overcast day, which just sucked the energy out of me. Once we got started performing though, I felt great.
While we were making up I gave Ryan quite a laugh. Jim Royal, one of our fearless leaders, has not been with the show since we left Winter Quarters on the 5th. He remained there taking care of business, and he didn't make it to Brownsville until today. We were in Clown Alley getting ready, and the first thing he did was come up, out of the blue, and tell us a joke. No greeting, just a funny joke. 
We both laughed, and when he left, I turned to Ryan and said, "Who the heck was that guy?"
Ryan could barely finish his make up he was laughing so hard.
All three shows were packed today; Brownsville loves the circus. I will have to hold onto the memory of these crowds for those days when no one shows up.
From the end of the first show all the way up until the third show, it was misting rain. Luckily it wasn't substantial  enough to get the ground muddy.
I guess the sink figured we had enough water from the rain, because in the second show the foot pedal that we step on to shoot water out of the "faucet" disconnected from the extinguisher. 
At least we got some water out of it before it broke, as opposed to the other night when it malfunctioned and the water AND the comedy both dried up!
I was a little punch drunk the third show. Ryan and I were in a zany mood; during the entrance to the sink gag, Ryan called John Moss, "Mossy", and when I racked my crotch on the low wall surrounding the box seats, I lost my balance and toppled the whole wall.
Luckily there were no small children or elderly people under the wall at that time!
Tonight was hopefully our last night of covering the net strike for awhile. If it isn't, I want to come up with something a little more innovative and funny than club passing.
Fortunately, our zaniness in the third show carried over into routine and we had a lot of fun just improvising and playing with and off of the people walking by while we worked. It got some great reactions from the audience.
All during the shows today we worked to pack up the Alley. When the third show was over we closed up our trunks, I threw on my jumpsuit, and we went to help John Moss take down the curtain.
It was incredibly easy and quick, unlike the fiery doom and destruction that would occur with the alternative, us hauling seat wagons.
We loaded up the truck that is our Alley, and then we walked over to the gas station across the street, the only place that was still open at that hour.
We got some food, some drinks, and we ran into John Moss, and his older son, Johnny; they invited us over to their trailer for a visit.
We had some chips and dip with John, Johnny, and Reyna, and John showed u two documentaries on Culpepper Merriweather Circus.
After that we stayed up talking and jack potting until it was past 3:00 a.m.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Route Through March 1st

Thanks to Ben Trumble for passing this along.

"Bring On The Girls!"

Saturday, February 14: Brownsville, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., 8:30 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.
I got up this morning, opened up Clown Alley, made a phone call, and got some lunch.
When Ryan was up we set the props for our gags; at noon there was a cast meeting in the tent.
Last night there was much speculation about what the meeting was going to be about. Any time someone asked me I tried to convince them that the meeting was about some German investors who were going to buy the show.
Today we found out that the meeting was about what most people had speculated. Due to the large amounts of people that had to be turned away last night, we were going to have a fourth show tonight at 10:30 p.m.
Because of the amount of shows and the small turn around time, the show was scaled back a bit.
Ryan and I were slated to do the sink gag in the first half, and a Chili Peppers walkaround in the second half to help cover the trapeze net coming down.
While we were blocking out the walkaround, I was carrying a prop and talking to John Moss. I ran right into a tie down and bounced off, tripped over the ring curb, bounced off of John, and fell to the ground. I felt like a big stupid pin ball.
It was pretty darned hot today, so they took the 4 box fans out of Clown Alley and strategically placed them around the tent. This freed up a ton of space for us, so we took advantage of it! Still, we decided to make up outside since the breeze was a lot nicer than the stuffy Alley.
Another full house for our first show of the day. I was a little worried about the crowd when we did our warm up, they were a lot more reserved than the other audiences had been.
My fears were abated when we did the sink gag, they loved it!
We did end on a weak note though; the Chili Pepper walkaround was a dud: partly because of a faulty powder rig, partly because we were working around a trapeze net that was being taken down, and partly because we sucked!
We were a little disappointed that our good impression on the audience from the first half was tarnished by that travesty against comedy, but oh well. You can't win them all.
The door to the sink came off its hinges during the first show. Luckily John Moss had some extra nuts and bolts that Ryan used to fix it. He also finally "fixed" the head rig (hopefully).
They were the only props that broke today; let's hope they was the last that we have to fix for a long time!
The second show was once again packed; it had cooled down considerably since the first show, which was nice.
Sink gag was another hit; it is definitely the high point of the show for me. We tried a little hat tossing routine to cover the trapeze net strike. It went a lot better than the Chili Pepper walkaround, but it still felt a little off.
Finally we found a cover that worked in the third show; club passing. Even though we really didn't want to juggle on this tour, a short club passing routine around an audience member really fit the bill. We just used a truncated version of the routine we did in our show last summer.
Once again, third show, PACKED! When they scheduled the fourth show for tonight, they put it at 10:00 p.m. This was a problem since the third show started at 8:30 p.m.! We finished almost exactly at 10:00 p.m.
I couldn't believe the amount of people (with kids too) that showed up for a 10:00 p.m. circus! The only section that wasn't full was one of the areas by the curtain.
I kept joking that since it was a late night performance, Ryan and I were going to do the show topless.
Sink gag was consistently great today, which made us very happy. We will have to work to get the shovel gag up to the same caliber; it didn't help that we had a day off from it. John Moss told us that a family told him at the conclusion of the show that the sink gag was their favorite part of the show; that was very rewarding to hear.
I really wasn't that tired during the day. I had good energy for all the shows and I never felt like I was dragging. Once we were done though, I could feel it hitting me; the fourth show DID let out about ten minutes before midnight!
Before closing up the Alley for the night, I washed my agent suit shirt since I have been sweating in it so much.
It took three buckets of water to wash and rinse it properly. Yeah, it was a pain doing it that way, but there was something satisfying about it as well.
Ryan and I walked over to the gas station across the street since it was the only thing open at 12:30 a.m., and we got some drinks and food.
When we came back we hung out with Casey and Natalie a little bit before calling it a night. Casey was telling us that every show today he could hear someone from the audience yelling "Bring on the girls!" as he was letting the tigers into the cage during Opening.
He said he was getting angry that some schmuck was a) more concerned about girls than his tigers and b) showing up at every show to yell this. 
Finally by the fourth show he realized that the jack ass yelling was me!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Today's Episode: Pride Comes Before The Fall

Friday, February 13: Brownsville, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
After we were up and about this morning Ryan and I caught a cab to Miguel's Washeteria to get our laundry done.
We had two big bags FULL of dirty clothes that needed washing. It took us about three hours to get it all clean and dry.
When we got back to the lot we set about getting our gags ready for the shows tonight.
Again I was rushing to eat supper, brush my teeth, and get into make up for the show tonight. I think I enjoy doing it though. I like to be the guy who waits until the last minute just so I can exclaim, "Oh crap! I better slap it on!" As long as I still look good for the show, it's alright!
The first show was packed. When we were selling coloring books and meeting and greeting during Intermission, I got swamped!
The gags for the first show weren't our best. Our timing was a little off in the shovel gag and the light on my pith helmet came off. 
The sink gag entrance was a bit of a disaster. The juggler and his daughter who does hula hoops, were not in the shows today due to a conflicting booking. Because of that the sink gag came right after the flying act, which meant we had to buy some extra time coming in through the audience for our entrance. It was a train wreck. Then once we got into the gag our timing was all over the place. We still got big laughs, but both of us are such perfectionists that if something minute goes wrong we feel like it has ruined the whole gag for the audience.
We must have done something right though, because both gags got great reactions.
Before the first show was even over, people were lined up from the tent all the way to the road in two seperate lines waiting to get into the 8:30 p.m. show! 300 people were turned away!
The energy when we ran out into the tent for our warm up was great; a guy could really get used to that feeling.
We were on fire for the shovel gag in the second show. We pulled it together and knocked one out of the park!
When John Moss came in to stop us near the end of the gag, he had a mental note to try out a new line about our gun. Since this was on his brain, the first thing he said was, "There isn't any gun here" instead of "There isn't any gold here".
Ryan, in his warped little mind, heard, "There isn't any God here", which cracked him up.
Back in the Alley we had a lot of fun coming up with variations on that theme. Apparently the Almighty didn't take too kindly to that and decided to smite us good in the sink gag.
All was going well up until the end. First I sat on the pipe through the head rig and broke it. This gave me a nail in the finger while trying to hold it together.
Next when we went for the blow off of the gag (water shooting out of the sink), the connection to the extinguisher broke and there was no water!
Ryan and I looked at each other in disbelief for a moment, and then covered by going right to the final bit.
The audience was none the wiser and loved the gag, but boy did it throw us for a loop!
As a final twisted punch line, my suspender button popped off during finale.
Either God was angry at us, or Friday the 13th struck us hard! 
Once we were done with the shows, we cleaned up and then started repairing. I sewed the button back on my overalls, Ryan fixed the pipe through the head rig, and we fixed the fire extinguisher rig in the sink.
Josie, one of the production women, is making food every night that we can buy after the shows. Ryan and I ordered a couple of quesadillas before heading to bed.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Opening Night!

Thursday, February 12: Brownsville, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
I woke up pretty early today. I'm sure the opening night excitement was part of it. I went and got some coffee and some fruit from the cook house to get me started off right.
I had Ryan cash a check for me so I could have some green in my wallet. I really didn't need for him to do that though, because Tavana was finally able to reimburse me for the travel receipts we had. When it rains it pours! 
I went to the H.E.B to peruse their selection of Mexican snack foods; I still can't find the cookies I went wild for in Mexico City six years ago. 
After lunch I attempted to do a few things: I read, I started to watch a movie, I tried to nap...the bottom line was I was too anxious to get started with opening night that I couldn't concentrate on any of those things for too long.
I did talk to my credit card company and fix a major problem. I guess they were having a lot of card numbers getting stolen, so they sent a lot of people new cards and shut off the old ones. I was unaware of this, because even though I changed my address over a month ago, it never went through.
This resulted in me going over my credit limit quite a lot. Luckily I explained my case calmly to the guy I was talking to and we got everything sorted out. He is also going to waive the fee that I would normally have to pay for going over the limit.
Ryan and I spent a lot of time in the Alley just waiting; we were itching to perform. We made some squibs to pass the time.
We got caught up talking with the Cainans around supper time and we ended up having to rush to eat and then get into make-up for our shows.
I really noticed the smell of the greasepaint while making up. Maybe it is because I haven't worn it since December, but regardless it got my adrenaline going even more.
Right as I was getting dressed about 15 minutes before the start of the first show, one of the buttons that I hook my suspenders into fell off. I quickly tore apart my room to find our sewing kit, and Ryan fixed the problem.
I wasn't too nervous to start the show, I was just ready to do it. When it was time for us to start our warm up, our music started up, and when we busted into the tent, the lights came up, and we were greeted with a cheering full house. We had them from that moment on; they loved us!
The shovel gag went very well in the first show. We got laughs in all the right places, but Ryan said he could sense it was a little too long. We opted to cut out the subtle bits and go for the big laughs in the second show.
During the Intermission we had a great time meeting and greeting in the tent. Even though we were essentially doing the same thing we did on Ringling in the Pre Show, it somehow seemed more meaningful. It felt like the audience was a lot more connected to us since they had gotten to know us during the first half and had seen what we could do.
Sink gag was phenomenal in the first show. The audience clapped for us when we ran out for our entrance; we didn't even have to do anything! We tore the place down; some people actually gave us a standing ovation at the end of the gag when we took our final style.
It was so rewarding to hear the big laughs we were getting during the gag. It has come a long way since we started doing it on Ringling in 2004, and it is exciting to think that it is only going to get better as time goes by.
The whole show went extremely well, especially considering we were all a little nervous after yesterday's run through. I guess the saying is true.
What I suspected was true, we go non stop the entire show. I can't wait for Raul to get here and relieve us of some of the pitches we are filling in for. Although the extra money is nice, the time to catch a breath is wonderful too.
The shows were scheduled two and half hours apart, but we still ended just in time for the second audience to come in as the first exited. We actually held the start of the second show just a little bit.
We had another full house for the second show; they were a little more reserved than the first crowd, but they were still great.
The shovel gag was nearly flawless the second show. The changes we made were dead on and helped the gag flow so much better.
The sink gag was a little wonky the second show; our timing was a little off. We still got fantastic reactions though.
The one down side to the second show was that in the shovel gag when I fire off the squib on the rifle, the squib pot flew clean off and was lost. We didn't realize it was missing until we got back to the Alley.
We tried looking for it during Intermission and after the show, but to no avail. D'oh!
Tonight showed me what my friend Scott O'Donnell told me about how clowning on a mud show was so great. I couldn't have wished for a better inauguration into the world of the tented circus. 
Ryan and I were on Cloud 9 after the shows. To celebrate we went to the market, and back outside the Alley we made a drink and toasted our successful opening night.
Kelly Miller 2009 season, onward and upward!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Don't Forget The Balcony!

There was a small fiasco this morning due to confusion over water hook ups. I guess the water guy forgot to plug the generator wagon's hose back in after he removed it this morning. It really wasn't a big deal, but it got blown a little out of proportion by outside parties. Luckily things were talked over and worked out and there were no hard feelings.
I finally met Casey and Natalie Cainan this morning. Casey's first question to me was, "Are you funny?"
A nice surprise was that our friend, Dudley, drove all the way from Hugo down to Brownsville to visit and see opening night tomorrow. It was great to see him again and chat a bit. 
After lunch Ryan and I set all our props and then at 1:00 p.m. we had a rehearsal for opening.  
It was a lot of time spent for something simple, but the important thing is that it is done.
At 2:00 p.m. we started our full show run through. It was a little difficult because a couple of acts won't be here until tomorrow, but we muddled through.
Ryan and I got frustrated early on due to some malfunctions in the prospector gag, but we kept on chugging and things got better. 
We noticed towards the end of the run through that we are going almost the entire show. It is costume change, appearance, costume change, appearance, and so on. We are going to be in much better shape by the end of the tour!
In the first half we do a short warm up to get the crowd going at the start of the show, and then we are out there through the overture and short opening.
Next we are part of the peanut pitch, which I am not thrilled about, but it is just a replacement until the tiger pants chase is up and running (no pun intended). After that we do the prospector gag, a coloring book pitch (more $$$ for us, but is only until April), and then an appearance in the web number. 
During Intermission we will be signing autographs on the midway, and then shortly into the second half we do the sink gag. After that we clean our props and do finale.
Finale is fun because they gave us prop guns to use (they don't know us very well do they). I had fun coming up with all kind of stupid shtick to do with the two six shooters they armed me with.
The good thing about the rehearsal was that we were made aware of problem areas in the show and now everyone knows what to look out for. I'm sure new problems will arise, but that's live entertainment for you.
Anyways, as the old saying goes, "A bad dress rehearsal means a great opening night!" 
We were pretty wiped after the run through. We had dinner and then just decompressed for awhile.
When we had taken time to step back a bit, we watched the video of our gags that Jeff had filmed. It gave us a lot of good ideas for tightening up areas and making some bits read better.
We also got a nice pep talk from John Moss and cleared up some concerns that will make tomorrow run so much smoother for us.

I Should Have Stretched

Tuesday, February 10: Brownsville, TX
I stayed in bed for a couple hours after I woke up since it was raining this morning. Luckily the area is so dry that the ground soaked it all up.
Last night I washed my wig and Ryan and I Scotch Guarded our costumes, so we left them in the Alley all night to dry. The underside of my wig was still pretty damp, and I had to brush the heck out of my wig to get it right again.
We made some more squibs until it was time for lunch.
After lunch we made sure all our props were set and then we had a rehearsal for an hour in the ring.
First we mapped out the pants chase. Mr. North requested that we do the chase where a tiger is chasing an explorer, who is chasing his pants. John Moss' younger son, Nathan, will be playing the part of the pants. 
In just three runs we got it down pat. It is going to be very wacky!
Next we ran both the mining and sink gags. Both went very well despite small technical problems; the progress from yesterday was better by leaps and bounds.
I definitely should have stretched better, I am starting to feel it in my neck and legs. Our gags are very high energy and I haven't been this active in awhile.
I laid low until supper time, reading and surfing the web. While we were eating in the cookhouse a tent stake came up due to the unruly wind. Ryan and I showed our worth by pounding it back in. Swinging those hammers isn't as easy as it looks (well, hitting your target at least)!
After supper Ryan and I walked down to the mall, our new hang out, to just relax and stroll. Back home I ordered some costume pieces for the pants chase and then Ryan and I watched Superbad, one of my favorite movies.
A little later I went over to Courtney's room to help her edit music for the show. If I have to hear Lovely Luawana Lady any more tonight I am going to kill someone.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Boy I'm Out Of Shape

Monday, February 09: Brownsville, TX
When I went outside to go to the bathroom today, I stepped right into the swamp that had developed in front of my door.
Seems the water guy had not securely fastened a hose in the generator trailer and it had come loose during the night causing the space in front of my "porch" to flood.
What made matters even worse was that the hill of fire ants that were already in front of my door evacuated and were now spread all over the place.
I was standing several feet away from my house and looked down to see ants on my shoes. Some even managed to crawl up in my jeans and bite my legs.
I was not amused.
The flyers finally moved their trampoline out of the box truck, so Ryan and I set up our Clown Alley.

After we were done we grabbed some lunch and then we started setting our props. 
From noon to 2:00 p.m. Ryan and I had rehearsal time in the ring. John Moss and our circus band, Lucky and Vicky, were in attendance as well. We went over entrances and exits as well as sound cues and sound effects. It was rough going the first run through, but once we had run the gags twice, things were really coming together.
A group of people watched our gags and we got a nice hand after the sink gag. Mr. North and his wife Shirley were watching; luckily everyone liked our gags.
I didn't realize how out of shape I was until we ran the gags back to back twice. That will definitely change at the end of this season though.
After we finally got our water hooked back up, I took a shower and then took a walk to decompress.
The rehearsal really wiped me out and I found myself dozing off in my room before supper.
Supper was great tonight; I wish I had been hungrier to enjoy more of it.
John Moss and his wife gave Ryan and I a ride to Party City, where we bought some accessories for my drag costume in the web number. I am going to look hot in my coconut bra!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

And I Thought Chicago Was The Windy City...

Sunday, February 08: Brownsville, TX
This morning I finally got water to the room. I just had to have someone show me how to turn it on. The shower was very cold however, because although I located the hot water heater, I failed to turn it on correctly!
Feeling refreshed, I went to breakfast and then Ryan and I got our employee packages from the show office. We filled out the paperwork and returned it promptly.
We worked for a bit outside walking through the gags sans props and working on our audience warm up to start the show. The warm up involves a little eccentric dance, so we choreographed that as well.
There were a lot of people on the lot today looking at the animals and the tent. Ryan and I were sitting outside of the generator and were approached very often about show times and ticket information. I joked with Ryan that we should put a poster up by where we sit that has all the answers to the frequently asked questions we got. It will definitely save us on a lot of hot air (which we have plenty of).

We were finally able to get into our box truck/Clown Alley today. We moved the sink prop to the back door and organized some of our other props.
The tent was finally put up this morning. They were going to raise it yesterday, but the wind was crazy! They thought it would have died down today, but it was still going strong.
We had a long talk about the show with John Moss today. We marked out some stuff inside the tent such as entrances and exits, and we talked about when our spots fell in the show's running order. We got a lot of say and input into this whole process, which was great. One thing we have been looking forward to about this show is the chance to do the clowning we want to do the way we want to do it. This is totally different from how Ringling handles the clowning now a days.
Talking with John about the show and being in the tent got me very excited about performing again.
A little later on Ryan and I spent some time making squibs for the rifle in the mining gag. We are also going to be using a squib in the Finale, so it looks like the show is going to be paying for all of those materials from now on.
After dinner Ryan and I walked down to the mall again just to get off the lot for awhile. We went to K Mart and bought some room supplies and then we walked back schlepping everything.
It rained a bit while we were in the mall. Luckily our first rain of the season was very light and did nothing more than get the ground wet.

The Return of Coconut Head

Saturday, February 07: Brownsville, TX
The first thing I did this morning was walk across the street and get a hair cut at Super Cuts.
I asked the lady to leave just a little on the top...and she did JUST THAT.
I haven't had hair this short since my "Coconut Head" days my first year on Ringling.
We were without power for a good while today. Because of that, lunch from the cook house was underwhelming; just cold sandwiches and chips.
Ryan and I met some new people today: Chris, the 24 Hour Man, who goes ahead of the show and lays out the directional arrows in addition to making sure the lot is ready for us. We also met Lucky and Vicky who are the Kelly Miller band. Lucky is the drummer and his wife Vicky runs the computer that has everyone's music on it.
Lucky is old college buddies with Mr. North who owns the show.
He and his wife gave Ryan and I a lift to Guitar Center to see if they could help Ryan figure out the new sampler we recently bought.
It was somewhat of a bust, they had no idea what to do about it, but they did print out the manual for us.
Back at the show we finally had power, so I charged my phone and laptop.
Ryan and I put sound effects on the sampler, and then we had supper (which was definitely a step up from lunch).
We also talked with John Moss about our gags in the show and set up some rehearsal time for the next two days so we can have time in the ring.
Speaking of the tent, it was supposed to go up today, but since it is so windy, they decided to put it up tomorrow when the wind is supposed to be a lot calmer.
We are in this lot for a long time. We actually are performing from Thursday to Sunday for a total of 10 shows.
This is a long run for Kelly Miller, typically we are going to be doing one day stands.
I was a little shocked to see that we will be doing a six pack this coming weekend (three shows Saturday and three shows Sunday). I thought those days were far behind me after Ringling!
A little backstory on the beginning of the tour. Normally Kelly Miller doesn't start until mid March, but the owner of Circus Chimera (a mud show that folded last year) sold these February tour dates to Jim Royal.
Apparently they are looking to do great business this month. The Latino audiences down in south Texas seem to love the circus.
We have been getting a lot of attention from families that drive up to look at the elephants. We are right in the middle of town so we couldn't have asked for a better spot.
I am amazed at how close people can come to the elephants and horse after Ringling having such strict policies about the animals.
Ryan and I went for a walk this evening and we wound up at a mall where we checked out the price for a small gas powered generator.
After hearing the price we decided to just deal with not having power at night for awhile.
I visited with Courtney for a bit this evening while she sewed some wardrobe and then I called it a night.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Brownsville, TX...Finally!

Friday, February 06: Jump To Brownsville, TX
Ryan and I got up at 5:30 a.m. to walk to the lot where the show trucks were parked.
We were supposed to depart at 7:00 a.m. from Cleveland, TX, but no one was up. Around 7:30 a.m. people started to wake up and leave. We were slightly delayed in leaving because the trailer we were dragging had a flat tire; that problem was shortly fixed by our mechanic and we were on our way.
The drive was uneventful except for a brush fire in the median of the Interstate that stopped traffic for almost an hour.
We did stop at a store that had Ryan in stock...

After what seemed like an eternity of driving, we finally arrived in Brownsville, TX around 7:30 p.m.
The lot is right in the middle of a shopping complex, so there are plenty of places to get food, groceries, and various services done while we are here for the next week.
We were just in time to get some dinner from the cookhouse (actually the back of a truck for tonight. The new cook, Jan, got lost in Houston and is not expected to arrive until tomorrow. In her place is the cook from last year).
Jan wasn't the only one to experience problems on the way here. The truck that carries the tent had its transmission drop out and several trucks and trailers had blow outs; it was definitely an eventful jump.
Ryan and I caught a ride with Josie and her family to Wal Mart; we did a lot of shopping and then caught a cab back to the lot so we could put our new purchases to use. Mainly we constructed shelves and organized all our stuff.
My friend, Courtney, arrived today; she is going to be one of the production women this year.
John Moss and his family picked her up on the way down here. I visited with her before she returned to cleaning her room.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

So Long WQ

Thursday, February 05: Jump to Brownsville, TX
Jim Royal picked up Ryan and I up at our hotel at 7:00 a.m. I don't ever recall Kenneth Feld or Tim Holst picking me up while I was on Ringling!
Also in tow was our new front door manager (or ticket taker) Jeff. We spent the morning talking with him about clowns and circus.
We were supposed to depart WQ at 8:00 a.m., but no one really seemed ready to go. People started rolling out around 10:00 a.m. 

Ryan and I were relieved from driving duties this jump due to our lack of training in hauling long objects. Instead we were riding in the show van driven by Josie, one of the production women. 

We didn't leave until after 1:00 p.m. This gave us time to get lunch and say good bye to Dudley.
The show is heading down to Brownsville for five days of rehearsal before we open on the 12th. Today we headed to the halfway point of our journey, Cleveland, TX.
On the drive we found out that Josie has many relatives in the circus business, many that we know.
It was slow going. The van has terrible brakes plus it pulls the heavy snake wagon; Josie was sure not to press her luck.
When it got dark we missed some arrows too, which put us behind. (Mud shows use paper arrows posted on poles to direct the show vehicles to the next lot)
We finally got into Cleveland, TX around 10:00 p.m. The show was putting Ryan and I up in a hotel since our "home" is getting to Brownsville before us.
We decided to have a little adventure and walk to find a hotel. First we decided to get some supper though. 
It was a mile and a half walk before we found both. I talked with Jim Royal tonight and he told me the show had a few problems getting out of WQ. Apparently the horse truck had something wrong with it and didn't leave Hugo until 7:00 p.m. 

Seeing Red

Wednesday, February 4th: Hugo, OK-Winter Quarters
Ryan and I got an early start today so we could get as much done as possible before the show hits the road tomorrow.
I started out by painting my living quarters "Drama Red". Just what I need...drama!
It took about three coats to make it look presentable.
I had to run to Wal Mart to pick up a little ceramic heater because the room was much too cold to a) be in and b) have the paint dry. It was a wise investment; it warmed the space up in no time.
After several hours of painting Ryan and I grabbed some lunch and ran to the hardware store and the lumber yard.
We cut some lumber to use as the bases for our beds and then we finally unloaded our U Haul truck and loaded our props into the box truck that will be our Clown Alley when it is unloaded every town.

While Ryan was finishing loading the box truck, I returned our U Haul rental and Dudley gave me a ride back to WQ.
Next on the chopping block was cleaning the filthy shower and painting up by my top bunk.
This job was made a little more difficult when all of a sudden power was shut off and I lost my light and heat.
After getting everything situated Ryan and I went out to eat with Dudley to The Busy Bee Diner, a little place with a bar and a few stools that served some excellent cheeseburgers!
We then retired to Dudley's house for some Laurel & Hardy shorts.

Out, Out, Damn Spot!

Tuesday, February 3rd: Hugo, OK-Winter Quarters
This morning Dudley pulled up to our hotel just as Ryan was getting out and about. I got cleaned up and then he took us on a tour of Hugo, OK.
First off we stopped at Angie's Circus City Diner for some coffee. The diner has lots of circus posters, pictures, and other assorted memorabilia adorning the walls, counters, and even the table tops.

Next we drove out to Showman's Rest, an area of the local cemetery where circus people are buried. Everyone from circus owners to performers down to workingmen are buried there. It was neat to see some of the beautiful headstones. One had a great quote that the three of us agreed with: "Give life the best that's in you for it's only a one night stand. There are no repeat performances brought back by popular demand".

Next we quickly drove through the Carson & Barnes WQ and elephant center and we drove by the Culpepper Merriweather WQ. Both shows' Winter Quarters are just down the road from ours. 
Dudley was saying that in its hey day, Hugo housed over twenty different circus Winter Quarters.
After we were dropped off at our hotel, we picked up our U Haul and drove over to WQ. John Moss gave us a ride to pick up some lunch, and then we talked about the loading of the box truck that is also going to contain our Clown Alley.
We also got to see the Kelly Miller "wardrobe department" that is housed in the main office, an old roller rink.
We were finally shown to our living quarters. The good thing was they were bigger than I expected. The bad thing was...well, to put it nicely, they were a handyman's dream.
We spent the next seven hours making our living quarters livable. We stripped wall paper and boards, we tore down ceiling panels and hastily constructed shelves. Basically we went back to square one.
After the demolition came a thorough cleaning, apparently something that had never been done before.
When we were satisfied with our efforts, we grabbed some supper, bought paint and other room supplies at Wal Mart, and then we went to visit Dudley.
He gave us a crash course in mud show living on everything from following arrows to helping out with a blow down.
We then watched some circus videos, including some home movies of Carson & Barnes setting up in a muddy hell hole.
I can't wait!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

We Made It!

We arrived later than we hoped to Hugo, OK because of a trip to a Guitar Center in Memphis, TN for a new sampler.
Finally at 6:00 p.m. we pulled into the Kelly Miller Winter Quarters.

Since it was almost dark, not much was going on. We met John Moss, the Ringmaster and Performance Director; his two sons; Jim Royal, the owner of the show; and a few of the new workingmen, who had just arrived today fresh over the border.
Jim and John gave us a quick tour of the Winter Quarters. We saw the trailers and wagons (including the seat wagons we will be hauling [they are really long; I lost a lot more driving confidence just looking at them]) and also the repair shops.
Ryan and I then spent some time hanging out with Dudley, an 80 year old man who used to be a booking agent for circuses. Lately he has been the caretaker of the Kelly Miller Winter Quarters. He has a great collection of circus books and videos (not to mention Laurel & Hardy videos), so we watched some footage and talked.
Ryan and I did not get to see our accommodations, and since they are not hooked up to power yet we were given hotel rooms for the next two nights.
I borrowed Taschen's book The Circus from Jim so that I could look through its beautiful pictures tonight.
Unfortunately the book is HUGE and proved a little too much for me to handle...

Sunday, February 1, 2009

On The Road Again

Ryan and I left Myrtle Beach this morning and drove with very few stops to the halfway point of our trip, Birmingham, AL.
We were going to stop in and say hello to the Red Unit clowns, since the show was in Birmingham, but due to some miscommunication and bad timing, we didn't get to see anyone. We showed up while their load out show was going on and we didn't want to get in anyone's way.
We walked around downtown Birmingham searching in vain for Reed's, an awesome used bookstore.
Coming up shorthanded we decided to just press on. We could have waited for the clowns to finish their load out jobs, but we were itching to put a few more hours of our trip under our belts.
We got all the way to Holly Springs, MS before deciding to call it an early night.
Only 6 more hours of driving before we arrive at Kelly Miller Winter Quarters. 
Soon the world will behold epic comedy, the likes of which has never been seen!
Here's a preview! 

T Minus 7 Hours To Departure

After a very busy day full of packing and cleaning Ryan's house, we are ready to be on the road to Hugo, OK for Kelly Miller Circus's Winter Quarters.
Luckily Ryan's grandparents were in town and they helped with the house cleaning. They also treated us to a great steak dinner afterwards.
We have a 10' U Haul truck to get all our props, costumes, and personal items to Hugo. Halfway through the packing I thought we were going to have too much space, but once Ryan crammed all of his junk in the truck, the entire floor was covered.

I lost a little confidence in my driving abilities when I ran up on the curb TWICE in almost rapid succession while parking later in the evening. 
And Kelly Miller wants me to haul a trailer!?
We had a nice visit with Dan & Peggy O'Neill Hull in their beautiful new home and they gave us a wonderful parting gift PERFECT for those cold muddy nights that are sure to come.
It was a nice final evening of normalcy before the craziness of touring begins.