Saturday, October 3, 2009

Caught Up

Alright folks, as of now, I am caught up on my blog.
For the last 3 weeks, I will do my darnedest to keep up to date. However, I will be one day behind, because most nights the last thing I want to do is write a blog. Settle in, this is a looooooooooooooooong read.

Friday, September 18: Rolling Meadows, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
This morning's route slip said that everyone had to be on the lot before 7 a.m. We were only driving 23 miles, but it still seemed odd that we had a 6:00 a.m. call, considering the deadline.
It turns out that more than half the show trucks and trailers (including me and Jan), showed up on the lot after 7; luckily it wasn't that big of a deal, we just had to contend with heavy high school traffic right by the lot.

Ryan and I found an excellent place to have breakfast, and then we went (with a good portion of the show) to attend mass held in the cookhouse. Danny and Tavana renewed their vows at the end of the service, and Father Jerry flew in all the way from Massachusetts to perform the ceremony for them. 
It was nice to see Father Jerry again. I tried to catch one of his services whenever I could on Ringling.

I do know that we had full shows...that is about all I remember!

Saturday, September 19: Rolling Meadows, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
I went to have breakfast this morning at the place that Ryan and I discovered yesterday.

Unfortunately today day just dragged on!

The good news is that we had full shows; the second show was jam packed. That helped me get my second wind.

Casey spent a lot of time fixing things today. First, the cable that attaches the fire extinguisher to the foot pedal of the sink broke in the first show. In between shows he helped me attach a new cable.
Then, after the tiger act in the second show, the tigers were getting loaded into their trailer when the jack holding the trailer up broke. The front of the trailer dropped to the ground, causing the back end to jut up in the air.
After the assistance of the shows Bobcat, the trailer was level again. Unfortunately, when the trailer was opened back up, one of the tiger rolling cages fell out and landed at a diagonal angle, with one end on the ground and one end still in the trailer. The axle and wheels of one end also broke off. 
This happened when Ryan and I exited the tent after Intermission. We helped some of the guys get the cage back into the trailer, where Casey, Radar, Fridman, and Castro did a quick fix on the axle until they could fully address the problem tomorrow.

The only other incidence worth mentioning was my triumph over a smart ass kid.
There were so many people in the tent for the second show that Ryan and I stood on chairs during Intermission to be somewhat above all the pandemonium.
Some kid kept tapping us on the shoulders and then hiding. We ignored it the first few times, and then I waited for my opportunity to strike.
The third time he did it, he didn't even try and hide, secure in his knowledge that we wouldn't do anything.
I saw him out of the corner of my eye just as he turned around, so I reached out and flipped the baseball cap right off of his head.
That learned him! There were no further interruptions.

Sunday, September 20: Vernon Hills, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
We had a 16 mile jump this morning. We were by a beautiful mall; sweet!

I had lunch at a Mexican restaurant before the first show, which was jam packed with people.

We had a good amount of visitors for the first show: Claire Wedermyer, a former Ringling and Kelly Miller clown, Paul Holley, a circus fan and blog reader, and Jim Koretz, a clown fan/photographer.

In the shovel gag, when we ran into the tent, Ryan bypassed the easiest way to get into the ring and ran into the preferred seating area. We then had to climb over people and the bally cloth to get into the ring.
I don't know what he was thinking, and I don't know who was more stupid, him for running the wrong way, or me for following him!

The Fernandez weren't doing the trapeze today, so Becky Ostroff did her single trap act.

The second show was almost full, and it started raining during the performance. Since we were on concrete, there was standing water everywhere and my shoes and socks got completely drenched.

Monday, September 21: Vernon Hills, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
I had lunch at an Indian buffet today; I haven't had Indian food in about 4 years, and I was not disappointed.

I looked around a nearby Halloween store and then checked out the mall.

We had a decent sized crowd at the first show. Claire came back with Brad Weston, a Clown College graduate and local juggler, and his family.

At the second show, which had more people than the first, Gary Podolsky and his wife and nephew came to visit; they were bearing goodies. Gary is the one who recommended the Chicago Diner to me. 

The brownies and cookies that the Podolskys brought were thoroughly enjoyed at the BBQ tonight.

Tuesday, September 22: Addison, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
On this morning's drive I missed the exit we were supposed to take on the Interstate. Luckily I was able to get where we were going via the next exit, and I just missed going through a toll.

My first agenda this morning was to get my rest after such a full, busy weekend. Next I walked across the street to get laundry done.

There was a Halloween store by the laundromat, so I checked that out while my clothes were drying.
I saw a poster in the store advertising a haunted house that was just up the road from us.
I was planning on going tonight until I found out that their grand opening isn't until this weekend. D'oh! 

Today's lot was a bummer. There was a big mud trench between Clown Alley and the back door, which made getting my shoes dirty inevitable. 
Also, there was broken glass all over the place. Yay Addison!

We had a good sized crowd at the first show. During Intermission a bunch of little ghetto kids were trying to hit me, so I took an early leave.
As I was going an old woman in preferred seating stopped me.
"I paid more money to sit here, but these people behind me didn't pay extra and they are sitting here", she complained.
"Look lady," I replied, "I'm a need to tell this to someone in charge. I just hit people with shovels. Do you want me to hit them with a shovel?"
She obviously didn't have a sense of humor since she just repeated her complaint. I gave her my most condescending look (a smile and a nod), and left to set the sink.

The second show was almost full, and the crowd had a lot of energy. Sadly they lost their momentum for the second half.

Some more ghetto kids were pestering me in the second Intermission. One girl tried to pull off my wig and knocked over the bally cloth, falling on top of it in the process.
I proceeded to embarrass her by getting the crowd to point and laugh at her stupidity. 

Wednesday, September 23: Downers Grove, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Today was another dreary day, but we were playing a cool little town.
I had lunch at Giordanno's, the famous Chicago deep dish pizza restaurant.

Casey and Natalie took Dixie, one of their dogs, to the vet today because she has been very sick.
They found out that she was riddled with cancer, and the doctor advised that they put her down.
Natalie was understandably upset today and didn't perform in the shows.

We had full shows tonight, and long Intermissions. Elephant rides did bang up business.

I was totally over it all tonight after having a bunch of stupid teenage girls "being afraid of me" and then a sink gag met with no laughs.
I've said it before and I'll say it again, it is time for a break!

Thursday, September 24: Darien, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
We had a whopping 6 mile jump this morning.
When we got to the lot I went over to Kate's trailer to hang out. We really haven't caught up with each other since she joined the show.

We had a packed first show. Tim Tegge, a long time clown, ringmaster, and circus/clown historian, surprised me at Intermission; I didn't know that he would be visiting.

We had an almost full second show, and for a change we had a mellow Intermission. It was so nice!

Friday, September 25: Elk Grove Village, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
We had a 5:30 a.m. call for a 23 mile jump because we were going to be driving through Chicago this morning.

We were by a little shopping area; I got everyone Starbucks after we arrived at the lot, and then I walked around some of the shops later in the day.

It rained all during the first show; we had a small crowd.
Kyle Barker surprised me by stopping by. He was on his way to a gym in the area and decided to drop in and say "Hi".

We had a good crowd for the second show. Kyle came to watch the show since he didn't have any luck finding the gym.

The grass in the tent was very slick, and I did quite a maneuver in our warm up. When Ryan and I run by each other to high five, my foot slipped and I slid on one knee in the grass under Ryan's extended arm, only to pop up on my feet on the other side of the ring.
I'm sure it didn't look as cool as I envisioned it.

When we ran in for the sink gag a little kid right in the front row started crying loudly during a quiet point in the gag. Ryan got a big laugh when he said over the microphone, "Why are you crying? We haven't even started yet!"

Kyle came to the BBQ tonight with the gift of a bottle of Jameson Irish Whisky for Casey.
Casey determines how funny a clown is by whatever free roll they bring us. So far Kevin Brown is Casey's "funniest clown in the world" thanks to the delicious triple chocolate cake he brought.
Kyle is coming close to overthrow him though...I'll die before I see a (soon to be) Red Show clown called "funniest in the world"! 

Saturday, September 26: Elk Grove Village, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
The sun finally came out today. We had a decent sized crowd for the first show.

Between shows I watched the movie, Adventureland. It was ok; I think I was expecting it to be the next Superbad.

We had an almost full second show. We got the first good sink gag reaction in what seems like forever.

Casey ordered a ton of pizza for dinner tonight. We all chowed down on that while enjoying a WC Fields film.

Sunday, September 27: Lisle, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
We had a 20 mile drive to a concrete lot today. The day started out foggy and overcast, but the sun finally decided to come out.

We had an almost full first show. There was an extremely long raffle put on by the sponsors that took place right before the sink gag for both shows. It brought the show's momentum to a dead halt and then we suffered afterwards when we tried to get the crowd up and laughing again. I really wish they would have done it during Intermission.

John Stokvis and his family visited for the second show. John was part of a trio of clowns that Ryan worked with during his Circus Smirkus days.

We had a good sized crowd for the second show. The only drawback was the kid in the front row that cried loudly every time we came out. You would think his mother would have taken a hint and taken the kid outside.

We had a BBQ tonight with John and his family. We saw a big storm rolling in, so we packed everything up early.
As soon as I got in my room and got comfortable, it started pouring like nobody's business.
The storm, although strong, only lasted a short while. The wind howled the entire night though.

Monday, September 28: Marseilles, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Our Chicago dates our over. We drove 53 miles away from the city this morning.

The strong winds from last night continued all through today; on top of that it was overcast too.

Town was a mile away, but that didn't stop me from exploring. I was going to find a costume shop listed on my phone's GPS until I found out that it was an adult costume shop. Rowrr!

We had good sized crowds today. It has started to get cold lately, not fun for the water in the sink gag.
The strong winds did dry my costume out in no time though!

I haven't had Internet since last night, so I spent most of the day trying to resolve that problem.

Tuesday, September 29: Burlington, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
We had a 68 mile drive this morning. We were playing in a small town with not much to it. I did find a good Italian place for lunch and a post office though.

We had small crowds for both shows; they definitely weren't worth the 68 mile drive.

Since it was so cold, they left the generator on all night. I unwound and watched the movie The Hills Have Eyes. Brutal...

Wednesday, September 30: Oregon, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
We were several miles away from town today, so I caught a ride with Natalie to do laundry.
While that was going on, I went to a Verizon store to try and get my Internet card fixed.
They did diagnose the problem (it was the card), but they didn't have any cards in stock. The best they could do was offer to send me one. I told them it would be quicker for me to try and find one in an upcoming down.

Today was a beautiful day, which was a wonderful change from the beginning of this week.

We had a small crowd for the first show, but more people showed up by Intermission, and it ended up being an average sized audience.

The second show had a very small crowd. During Intermission there was a kid throwing peanuts at us. His friends were loudly egging him on the whole time, "Go on, hit him in the balls! Look, there is the other one, hit him in the balls."
After I went backstage looking for something to throw at them (and coming up short), Ryan and I had a brief conference on how to handle the situation.
A few minutes later, both of us were on the receiving end of another peanut. We threw down what we were doing, ran up into the stands, and attacked.
Ryan took the kid's hat off and chucked it into the ring, and I tickled him while prying the peanut bag out of his hand. Ryan then poured the remainder of the peanuts down the kid's shirt.
People have got to learn that we are two clowns that you do NOT mess with!

The sink gag was very cold. At the end of the gag, when we were soaked (and freezing), we went into the middle of the ring to shake hands.
As the audience golf clapped for our antics, I said to Ryan, "The audience's laughter is all the warmth I need."
Ryan looked right back at me and said, "F**k you."

Thursday, October 1: Amboy, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
We had a 23 mile jump this morning to a beautiful fairgrounds out in the middle of nowhere.
If I was to direct someone to the show I would have said, "It is the 80th cornfield on the right."
We literally drove 20 miles this morning without a single sign of civilization.

It was so cold this morning. To warm ourselves, and get out of the Twilight Zone set of a lot we were on, we drove to Dixon, IL to go to the Verizon store.
When we walked out Casey, Natalie, and I all had new phones. I also had a new Internet card. Score!

We went to have lunch at a Chinese restaurant, and the whole time we were waiting for our food, we were all playing with our new toys and making Ryan jealous.

It was so nice to have Internet again today. After 3 days without it, I was starting to have "withdrowels". 

It rained all day, and we had very small crowds at both shows: maybe 40 people or less.

In the second show Ryan and I switched roles for the tiger chase. Ryan definitely got the better half of the deal; he was warm and snug in the tiger suit while I was freezing in a ripped up shirt and boxers.

Even though the second show had a miserably small crowd (not to mention the weather), I still managed to have fun.

The instant that the second show finished, it started pouring down rain. Cold rain. Yay!

We had our evening meal in the Casa De Cainan while watching SNL: The Best of Will Ferrel on DVD.

Friday, October 2: Kewanee, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
We were on a very soft lot today. By the time all the trucks had been spotted and the tent was up, the ground was completely torn up.

A friend of my friend, Toto Johnson, came to visit today. His name is Wayne Weems; he is a wrestler, he was on the show The Ultimate Fighter, and he has been a clown for a year now.
He took us to lunch and to Wal Mart, and the whole time we talked shop and he asked for advice and opinions on different things.

It was a miserable day today. On top of the mud everywhere, it was raining and freezing.
Despite all this, both shows were packed. We also got great reactions for our gags, which was refreshing after the past three days.

By the end of the evening, the midway was a sea of mud, as was the area between the bleachers and the preferred seating area. The worst part was that it was slick mud.
Ryan and I were slipping and sliding all over the place every time we had to enter the tent.

We had to move off the lot tonight, but we just moved to the edges of the field. After I moved Jan, I went back to my room to relax.
When the generator truck started moving, I realized that the big door outside the room was still open.
We were only going a few yards, but I wanted to make sure that Pato's kennel didn't fall out. I went into the "foyer" and stood in an empty spot next to the gypsy boxes so I could keep a hand on Pato.
When the truck stopped, I was jerked into a sitting position on the stairs behind me and one of the gypsy boxes fell on my legs.
It hurt like hell and scraped me up a bit, but I am lucky that nothing was broken.
Usually, during travel, there are coils of rope and hose piled up where I was standing. They do a lot better job of keeping the boxes in place than my scrawny body did!

Wow, I need a drink after writing and proof reading all that...I'm sure you guys feel the same...


JMW said...

Thanks big time for the lengthy update.
This Sunday morning here in sunny Kissimmee,Florida, (90+ today and for the week also) with a cup of Kona Coffee and a giant warm Blueberry Muffin with real butter, I am enjoying your update on the lanai by the pool :-).
As a longtime circus fan of many many a year back, I can fully appreciate your daily weather changes and unrelenting wind and rains. I am a retired 50 year member of AEA who has done tent shows (not circus) in the past and I remember them well.
I have followed your chit-chats and Rader/Caseys and Valaries and feel as if I were right there with you and a part of your family. So please forgive my long-distance intrusions. Keep up the "art" and never forget that it is an art. (And, No, I am not afraid of clowns!)

Jon M Walker, Kissimmee Florida.
Whose home is always open if either of you or others are ever in the area.

Tejano said...

You proof read this???


Paul H. said...

Steve and Ryan: It was real pleasure to meet you and hang out for awhile. Thoroughly enjoyed the show.
Take care and see you down the road!