Friday, April 30, 2010

April 26-28: Flora, IL, Windsor, IL & Arthur, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Monday we had a 6:00 a.m. call for our 59 mile jump to Flora. Almost everyone on the show blew the arrows and ended up miles outside of town.
Luckily I was able to find the lot on my phone's GPS and arrived there after venturing down a hilly, one lane road.

The route slip warned us that the lot was very muddy; honestly I didn't think it was bad at all (especially after the horror known as Brownsville 2010), but I did get stuck while backing up into my parking spot.
Leslie and Casey helped pull me back a bit so I could jackknife my truck and get at least one of the back doors open. There was no way I was going to unhook to unload the props!

I took Radar and the twins into town so we could do laundry. We found a place that was deserted, and after awhile we found out why that was.
We each must have spent about five or six dollars on the dryers; they were horrible, and most of my stuff I brought home still moist.

In the afternoon Ryan and I rewrote the jukebox gag and the ending of the table act. We couldn't get the changes in today since we didn't have time to rehearse with Vicky and the new music cues.

Despite all the headaches of this morning, it was a good day for circus business. Both shows were full.

On Tuesday we had a 6:00 a.m. call for our 59 mile jump to Windsor. We were playing on a very soft lot; there was no mud, but a few people got stuck...including me.
It was a sunny day, but there was a chill on the air.

Ryan and I watched the movie "Bedknobs & Broomsticks" and then we rehearsed the changes to the jukebox and table gags with Vicky in the tent.

We had a decent sized first crowd, and our changes went well. We completely rewrote the jukebox gag, since it wasn't nearly as funny as we thought it was when we wrote it in WQ. We were tired of blank stares and no laughs from the audience, so we wrote in some of what we do best....beating the snot out of each other!
Also, we are doing the gag as our soda jerk characters, which means we no longer have a quick change from the jukebox gag to the table act. Score!

The change to the table act was a simple one. We just made it so Tatiana wins at the end; we should have done it ages ago.

The 2010 Kelly Miller programs came out today. On the cover is America's favorite comedy team: "Steve &....Cathy Poema"????

I got endless mileage out of this and made sure to give Ryan a hard time whenever I could.
In the second opening, I said my usual line of, "You may have heard of us...we're kind of a big deal."
Ryan replied, "Well, one of us is."

When I notified Casey, he was quick to jump in on the fun of bruising Ryan's ego. With friends like this......

We had another decent sized crowd for the second show. They left the generator on all night after tear down since it was so cold.

On Wednesday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 24 mile jump to Arthur. We were on a grass lot right by the major road in town, and it was a sunny day.

I walked to an Amish coffee shop that the girls told me about, and later in the afternoon I had lunch at an Amish buffet. Delicious!

We had a decent sized crowd at the first show and a full second show. When we were doing the exterminator gag in the second performance, Ryan climbed the ladder to the beehive like usual.
He slipped his hand into the hand loop like usual. I threw the bomb at him, knocking him off the ladder like usual.
Ryan dropped to the ground, and just as he was going to bounce back up via the bungee coming out of the beehive, the bungees snapped.....
That was unusual!

We improvised an ending to the gag and got through it. I'm sure the audience was confused though.
All I could do was kick myself for not ordering back up bungee sooner. At least Ryan was unscathed by the incident.

May 1-Linton, IN
May 2-Spencer, IN
May 3-Clinton, IN
May 4-Cayuga, IN

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 24-25: Mt. Vernon, IL & Carmi, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. & 5:00 p.m.

On Saturday we had a 6:00 a.m. call for our 53 mile jump to Mt. Vernon. We were playing on the town's fairgrounds, and what soft grounds they were!
We were originally supposed to play right in town, but the lot was deemed too small for us to fit.

Dan, our ticket taker, his brother, and his sister in law took Ryan, Tatiana, and me out to breakfast at Ryan's. Ryan and Tatiana brought along their nephew, Argio.

We had an average sized crowd for the first show. It started to rain, but it stopped by Intermission.
The next show had a slightly bigger audience, but boy were they dead!

The second half of the show was cut down due to impending storms (basically all the clown material was cut), so Ryan and I packed up all our props at Intermission.
As soon as I had finished packing the truck and hooking up to my trailer, the storm hit. Rain poured down, the wind blew, and there was thunder and lightning.
The worst part was over by the time the show finished, and tear down took place under calm skies.

Jessi, Radar, the twins, and I went to Steak 'N Shake to have dinner. When we got back to the lot, I visited over at the Cainan's trailer to see Natalie's family.
They were performing just 20 or so miles down the road with Culpepper Merriweather and came to visit after their shows.

On Sunday we had a 6:00 a.m. call for our 48 mile jump to Carmi. We were playing on a grass lot; it was an overcast day with drizzling rain. Luckily the ground was solid.

We had an almost full first show and a decent sized second show. When we were done working Jessi took Carla, Casey, and me to Wal Mart.

Casey, Natalie, and I spent the evening eating pizza and watching the movie, "Anchorman".

Monday, April 26, 2010

April 22-23: Carlyle, IL & Sparta, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Thursday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 41 mile jump to Carlyle. We were playing on a nice, grassy lot.

I had lunch with Jessi and the twins at a bistro in town; I ordered frog legs for the first time. I was very "hoppy" that I liked them.
Ah hahahahahahahahah! Get it!? Hoppy instead of happy! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Because they are FROG LEGS!!!! HHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAAAAA!

We had an almost full first show. When the show girls were running into the ring at the end of the hula hoop act, Jessi tripped and fell, causing a three girl pile up in the ring.
Darned laugh stealing show girls....

Casey helped me with battery issues that I was having. My trailer batteries weren't charging during the day, so when the power would go out, I wouldn't have lights or water.
I cleaned the connections this morning, which solved the problem, I just didn't connect the wires back well enough.

It started to drizzle before the second show, which was 3/4 full. When tear down was underway the rain started to come down harder.

We had a BBQ with our visitor, Vincent, who is a circus fan from Switzerland.

On Friday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 57 mile jump to Sparta. We were showing on a gravel lot and it was an overcast day.

Ryan and I made squibs while watching my 2001 Moosecamp graduation show...the howwah...the howwah....

Since we were near civilization, I walked around town and got a hair cut and then grabbed some lunch at a Chinese buffet.

Ryan and Tatiana bought my ducks a plastic swimming pool so they can have more room to swim around.

We had an average sized crowd at the first show. In the opening, Ryan asked me, "Where are we, Steve?", to which I replied, "THIS IS SPARTA!" (like in the movie "300")
This was met with indifference both shows....a bad omen for the rest of the performance.

I just wasn't "there" for the first show. It was humid, I was tired, and we weren't getting any energy from the crowd.

We had a decent sized crowd for the second show. It started raining and severe storms were predicted, so the second half of the show was cut down.

Casey, Natalie, and I went to a bar right next to the lot to check out the night life of Sparta. We were served our (terrible) drinks in little plastic cups, and when Casey bought my drink for me, the bartender (in his 40s), bumped knuckles with both of us.
The music playing was way too loud for us to carry on a conversation with one another, and the clientele was best summed up by one man wearing a t-shirt that read "Titties And Beer", so we didn't stay for very long.

April 28-Arthur, IL
April 29-Palestine, IL
April 30-Mt. Carmel, IL

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Duck Growth Report: Week 4

April 19-21: Mascoutah, IL, Highland, IL, & Hillsboro, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Monday we had a 5:30 a.m. call for our 75 mile jump to Mascoutah. I left exactly at 5:30 to beat St. Louis rush hour traffic.

Our lot consisted of a mowed down corn field where all the trailers were parked and a grass circle where the tent was set up. It was an overcast day.

There was a mother Killdeer that had her nest between my trailer and Ryan's motorhome. During the day her eggs hatched and she had four baby Killdeers.

Whenever Ryan or Tatiana would exit their house, the mother would start screaming and either attack them or run away and pretend to be hurt so they would go after her instead of the babies.

We set up protection for the family so that no one would step on them during the day.

The first show was 3/4 full and we had a decent sized crowd for the second show. I got an injury before the tiger chase by pulling a stupid stunt.
I put the tiger head on the ground and attempted to do a handstand into it. Unfortunately I misjudged the size of the head's interior and wound up bashing the place above the bridge of my nose. It gave me two nice scrapes that scabbed over.
Thanks to Nikki, who was watching, almost everyone knew about my stupidity before the show was over!

On Tuesday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 24 mile jump to Highland. We were playing on a grass lot and it was a sunny day.

Jessi, the twins, and I went to have breakfast at a local diner, and later in the day I went to Wal Mart with Jessi and Carla.

Both shows were almost full. Lucky was out sick today, so Dan, our ticket taker, was filling in on drums.
Miss Vicky ran the sound effects, and she did a fantastic job for never having done it before.

On Wednesday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 43 mile jump to Hillsboro. The tent was set up on rocks, and all the trailers were parked on grass.

Ryan and I practiced our water spitting this morning and then he helped me improve my 108 (a front flip to the back).

In the tent I tried my hand at aerial skills. First I played on Jessi's hammock rigging, and then I tried climbing web.
Neither attempt went well, and I finished feeling sore and tired. I'll take sliding on a table over aerial work any day!

Both shows were 3/4 full; there were softball games going on at a field right next to us the whole evening.
Luckily no one hit a pop fly into one of the trailer windows!

April 25-Carmi, IL
April 26-Flora, IL
April 27-Windsor, IL

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 17-18: Ste. Genevieve, MO & DeSoto, MO-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. & 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

On Saturday we had a 5:30 a.m. call for our 88 mile jump to St. Genevieve. It seemed to go on forever!
We were on a grassy lot and it was a sunny day. Culpepper Merriweather advance clown, Tina Bausch, came by to visit today.
I had lunch with her in the cookhouse and we hung out before the two shows, which she watched.

Both shows today were almost full. We were short a rola bola act because Fridman's trailer lost an axle on the road. They spent all day getting it fixed and arrived at the lot after the second show had already started.

There was a huge BBQ in the evening for Georgia and Genevieve's birthdays. A lot of people were in attendance (including Radar's family), a lot of food was consumed, and a lot of presents were opened by the birthday girls.
It made me want to be a little girl again....
wait a minute....

On Sunday we had a 6:00 a.m. call for our 43 mile jump to DeSoto. We were playing a cement lot that was very tight. On the plus side, it was another sunny day.

Both shows were full. A lady on the way to the first show had a stroke out by the road. We could see her from the back door as her family and emergency workers were huddled around to help.

After the first show I was watering the ducks (they grow faster that way), when a family walked by. The mother misidentified my babies as chickens (she must have been the mayor of the fine city of DeSoto), and then her little girl asked me if I pee the bed.
At least that is what I think she said, my Missourian is not what it used to be.
After repeating her question, I answered, "Occasionally. It happens to the best of us!"
Then I wet myself.

April 22-Carlyle, IL
April 23-Sparta, IL
April 24-Mt. Vernon, IL

Monday, April 19, 2010

April 15-16: East Prairie, MO & Anna, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Thursday we had a 6:00 a.m. call for the 43 mile jump to East Prairie. The route slip told us to arrive as soon as possible since there was only one entrance to the lot.
I thought it was ironic that on a jump such as this, with a need for urgency, there was a Flying J on the route.
I left a little early so I would have time to dump my tank and fuel up. I am glad I arrived at the truck stop when I did, because when I was leaving the place became a mad house of trailers trying to use the solitary dump station.

We were playing on a baseball field surrounded by a chain link fence, and it indeed did have one tight entrance. It was another sunny day; score!

After school was out Jessi, Nikki, Carla, Radar, and I drove to Sikeston, MO to go to Lambert's, a restaurant with huge portions and dinner rolls thrown at you by the wait staff.

I ate a ton and wasn't hungry for the rest of the day! I also went into a food induced coma when I got back to my trailer.

We had an average sized crowd for the first show and a good sized audience for the second show; nothing else to report.

On Friday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 55 mile jump to Anna, IL. The lot was on a slope, which made us dread the fancy footwork we were going to have to use in the ring.

Ryan and I made squibs today while watching that perennial favorite, "Willow", and imitating our favorite scenes.

The weather started out sunny, but it started raining lightly closer to show time.

The first show was full; during it the sun came out, but by the end of the performance it was sprinkling again.
The second show was full as well. The only thing to damper our enjoyment of the big crowds was the sloped ring. There's something to be said for the ground consistency that a building show offers!

Once the shows were done it started raining a little harder, but it didn't do any damage to the ground.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


Be sure to check under the duck photos. My newest post wound up under there for some reason.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Duck Growth Report: Week 3

April 13-14: Corning, AR & Dexter, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Tuesday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 24 mile jump to Corning. On the way I stopped because I heard a thumping noise and thought one of my tires was flat.
It turns out it was just the road making the noise; all of my tires were fine.

We were on a grass lot and it was a sunny day. Ryan and I took advantage of the nice locale and weather to make a short film with the help of Tatiana and Buckner.
When we were done filming we walked to Wal Mart and then Ryan and I began editing the short. Tatiana made some food for us all while we worked.

There was a small crowd at the first show. It was very hot in the tent, but as I told John Moss, I would rather have it be hot than deal with the cold, rainy weather we had last year.

Casey and Radar had to drive far away to pick up Casey's repaired truck. Because of that we were without tigers for both shows.

There was an average sized crowd for the second show. One family in the front row was having a really good time, and their energy kept me going for the table act.

Casey and Radar arrived at the lot right at the end of the second show; hopefully they are done with transmission problems for the season.

Ryan and I premiered our movie for everyone tonight. It will be coming soon to a blog near you!

On Wednesday we had a 6:00 a.m. call for our 57 mile jump into Missouri. We were playing on a grassy lot and it was a sunny day (I will never get tired of reporting weather like this).

Ryan and I watched the movie, "Sherlock Holmes' Smarter Brother", today. Frankly, I was disappointed.
Despite having such a talented, comedic cast and being written and directed by Gene Wilder, the movie just wasn't funny.

We had a decent sized first crowd and an almost full second show.

That's all I've got in my notes....what an exciting day!

April 19-Mascoutah, IL
April 20-Highland, IL
April 21-Hillsboro, IL

April 12-13: Ash Flat, AR and Pocahontas, AR-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. & 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Sunday we had a 6:00 a.m. call for our 55 mile jump to Ash Flat. When I arrived at the lot, I realized that in my haste to hook up and leave this morning, I left my blocks at the last lot. Luckily Jessi had some extra boards that I was able to use to unhook.

Cathy Poema's 14th birthday party was this morning. It was a beautiful day for a party; we had snacks and kid's champagne.

We had a good sized first crowd and an average sized second crowd. The name of the town, Ash Flat, is a bit of a misnomer as far as the lot was concerned. Tatiana hit an uneven spot of the ground in the second table act and hurt her leg.

After the shows Jessi, the twins, and I went to Wal Mart to go shopping. While there I picked up the Eddie Murphy stand up special, "Delirious", for $5, so we watched that at the Cainans trailer after our evening BBQ.

On Monday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 49 mile jump to Pocahontas. There were three marked downgrades on the route, so I took it easy, especially after the warning talk Casey gave me and Ryan about how brakes can catch on fire if you ride them too much on steep hills.
The final steep, curvy stretch of road through town was a real pain; I almost side swiped a wall at one point with my trailer.

We were playing on the town's fairgrounds, and it was a sunny day. I spent some time cleaning house with Jessi.

Casey had more transmission trouble this morning and had to go on a 300 mile round trip before the shows to drop his truck off in the town where they "fixed" his transmission last time.

We had an almost full first show, and they were a great crowd. Tatiana took it easy in the table act, and everything went fine.

We had a full second show. During Intermission I discovered a new way to play Guitar Hero...

At the end of the second show, Ryan and I were called to the front row by a man holding his daughter. He said he had found our videos on Youtube and really enjoyed our work. He then told us that he was a rodeo clown and had lost an eye in the line of duty.
I'll take stoic people in the seats with crossed arms over a crazy bull any day of the week!

April 16-Anna, IL
April 17-Ste. Genevieve, MO
April 18-DeSoto, MO

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April 10-11: Mountain Home, AR-5:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m. and 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m., and 5:30 p.m.

On Friday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 49 mile jump to Mountain Home. The roads were very hilly and curvy, so it was slow going.

It was a beautiful day, so I decided to walk into town to find a coffee shop that my phone located. It was a three mile round trip, and it turned out that it was a restaurant instead of a coffee shop, but I decided to go in anyway since I had walked so far.

Back at the lot Casey fixed the exterminator cart for us by welding one of the wheels back on.

We had a good sized crowd for the first show. There was one obnoxious father in the front row that at first was an annoyance, but then became a source of amusement.
We thought he was just expressing his enjoyment of the show by making loud, strange noises and shouting out his thoughts, but by our third appearance we realized he was just being a jack ass.
Naturally we mocked everything he yelled out to ourselves amidst much school girl giggling.

There were less people at the second show....that's all I've got for today....sorry I don't have a more exciting ending....

On Saturday we had an 11:00 a.m. show to start things rolling. Luckily there was a good sized crowd attending.

Casey had to get up early this morning and go pick up his truck (with a new transmission), so the tigers opened the second half of the first show.

The second and third shows were full; during the afternoon Casey welded my trailer step back on for me.
I guess Brian LaPalme is feeding me too well!

In the third slide table gag Ryan gave me a fat lip when he dove off the table into my arms. When we landed on the crash pad, my mouth came down on his elbow, bashing my lip and prompting me to mutter a mushy sounding oath.
I didn't have any ice in my freezer, so I ended up using one of Jessi's organic breakfast burritos to keep the swelling down.

After the shows Ryan, Tatiana, Radar, and I borrowed Jessi's car to go to Wal Mart and the movies.
We caught an evening showing of "Clash of the Titans". I have never seen the original, so I wasn't able to make a comparison.
This version was decent; the highlight of the movie for me and Ryan was the character who hissed at everybody.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

April 8-9: Heber Springs, AR and Mountain View, AR-4:30 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.

On Wednesday morning my ducks woke me up early crying for food. Ah, the joys of parenthood!

Ryan and I unloaded our props and then watched a couple of episodes of The State. Later I took advantage of my parking location and left the lot to get fuel and do laundry.

The lot in Heber Springs had a difficult set up: all the trailers were separated from the tent by a barbed wire fence. On top of that, the tent layout was strange because of the back curtain's placement in relation to the ring.

We had a small crowd for the first show; they didn't make it easy for us either. There was a group of pre teens that heckled us during all the quiet parts of opening.
We had an even smaller crowd for the second show, and both audiences were pretty dead.
All in all, not a good circus day.

I have it pretty easy for the next couple of days, because Jessi is in LA at a Cirque Du Soliel audition. That meant that after the table act, I had time to catch my breath until Intermission instead doing web.

On Thursday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our hilly, curvy, 41 mile jump to Mountain View.
We were playing on the town fairgrounds and it was a beautiful day, albeit with a chilly breeze blowing.

Last night one of the wheels came off the exterminator gag cart; Ryan did a quick fix on it today by keeping the wheel on with a hose clamp. That of course meant that we had to carry the cart into the ring for the shows.

Ryan and I spent most of the day repairing the beehive. Two of the tiers were separating from each other due to the way the weight is distributed when the beehive hangs in the air. We made the bond between the two sections stronger with fabric and lots of latex.
The rest of our time before the shows was spent making squibs.

We had a full first show, and they were a good crowd as well. We cut our opening down today; I really like the changes. It now has a lot more energy and is less "alienating" and "depressing" (Ryan's words).

I thought we had put our beehive repairs behind us for the day, but I was wrong! As I took it into the tent during Intermission, one of the points where it hangs came out!
Ryan and I quickly fixed the problem and got the gag rigged.

We had another full house for the second show. It was great to have a good night after yesterday's let down.

April 13- Corning, AR
April 14- Dexter, MO
April 15- East Prairie, MO

Saturday, April 10, 2010

April 5-7: Ozark, AR and Heber Springs, AR-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. & Day Off

I woke up at 7:30 a.m. when I heard engines starting around me. I didn't set my alarm last night because no one seemed to know when we were moving to the lot this morning.

The lot was only half a mile away; we waited until today to pull on so the ground could dry out. Unfortunately it was overcast most of yesterday, and that weather continued today. Luckily it wasn't too muddy on the lot.

I borrowed Jessi's car to go into town to get a hair cut. This proved to be a bust, because all the barbers were closed on account of it being Monday, and even beauty shops that WERE open wouldn't give me a haircut.
(Note to all readers: Plan your haircuts accordingly in Ozark, AR. I ended up having Jessi cut mine when I got back to the lot)
I did find a post office and a book shop though. The book shop had some amazing finds, but it was so cluttered and unorganized that it was difficult to find anything. Plus there were stacks of boxes that kept you from accessing certain isles.
At least that kept me from spending all my money!

We had a decent sized crowd for the first show, and an average sized crowd for the second show.
John Moss wasn't here today so he could take his wife, Reyna, to get her citizenship (congratulations!). Ringmastering in his place was Aaron, from the elephant department, who was a ringmaster on Carson & Barnes.

It was Radar's birthday today. We all got him funny cards and little gag gifts; Ryan and Tatiana got him a huge Q-Tip to clean his big ears, and Jessi gave him a picture of all of us giving him the middle finger. This of course was inside a big box to make him think he was getting something substantial.

On Tuesday we had a 6:00 a.m. call for our 125 mile jump to Heber Springs, AR. It was an "eventful" drive. Casey blew his transmission not far from the town we were leaving, and Ryan blew a tire just a mile or so from our new lot.

We had the day off today because they couldn't find a town to fill this open date. It was a nice day, so I made the most of it.
I let the ducks swim in a tub that the Poemas gave me. Ralph had no trepidation about the water; he took off like a little yellow torpedo (the original discarded title for the Beatle's smash hit, "Yellow Submarine"). Norton was a lot more subdued; she casually bathed while Ralph showed off.


Other than taking time to fix a tear in the latex of my snake walkaround, I took it easy all day: reading, watching Family Guy, and playing video games.

April 8- Mountain View, AR
April 9 & 10- Mountain Home, AR
April 11- Ash Flat, AR
April 12- Pocahontas, AR

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 3-4: Greenwood, AR and Ozark, AR-2:00 p.m. & 5:30 p.m. and Day Off

On Saturday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 33 mile jump to Greenwood. It was an overcast, foggy morning, but the radio promised sunny weather. We got it later in the morning.

We were playing on a grass lot that was soft. Casey's trailer got stuck going in one of the gates and ended up just staying there.

Ryan and I cleaned off our props, but we weren't too thorough; we knew they were just going to get dirty again today.

Becky Raborn came to visit with her son today. I was happy to see her again, but I was disappointed that she didn't see me doing my best.
Neither crowd was very lively, although we had decent sized houses. The ring mat was wet again, which got our costumes and props filthy, and the gags were just off.
With all of these combined factors, my heart just wasn't in it today.

We had a BBQ after the shows, which Becky visited for a short while before heading home.

On Sunday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 55 mile jump to Ozark. The fairgrounds that we were going to show on tomorrow had soft, wet ground, so everyone was located on a parking lot just down the road. The plan was to let everything dry out today before we pull on.

We had the day off today because of Easter Sunday, and everyone was excited about the Kelly Miller Easter Bonnet competition.
My bonnet was a modified idea of Ryan's. I made a little cardboard platform with Easter grass and half a chocolate bunny on top. I held the other half of the chocolate bunny in my hand with a big chunk bitten out of the ears.
As a final touch I smeared chocolate all over my mouth. Whenever people saw me, I simply explained, "I got hungry."

During the judging, the sun proved too much for the contents of my bonnet, and all the chocolate was reduced to a gooey mess.
To make matters worse, my "hat" tilted down into my face, dumping melted chocolate everywhere, including into my hair and on my digital camera.

I went back to my trailer to clean up; on my way back I grabbed an impromptu second bonnet: a cardboard box with eye holes and a hastily scribbled "Easter Rules" message.

Luckily my chicanery paid off and I was awarded second place in the "Funniest" category. First place went to Johnny Moss for his "Sniper Bunny" hat.
Vickie won first place in the "Most Beautiful" category for her flower bonnet, and Mariana Poema won first place in the "Most Creative" category for her Easter themed replica of the Kelly Miller Circus in bonnet form.

(photos courtesy of Vickie Straeffer)

Right after the bonnet contest was the Easter Egg hunt for the children, and at 2:00 p.m. everyone was treated to a buffet lunch.

Before I forget, here is your weekly duck growth report:

Saturday, April 3, 2010

March 31-April 2: Glenwood, AR, Mena, AR, and Waldron, AR-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Wednesday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 56 mile jump to Glenwood. It seemed like a long drive with all of the winding back roads we were taking.

We were playing on a dirt lot right by one of the main roads in town, and it was a sunny day.

Ryan and I made squibs this morning while watching one of the worst movies I have ever seen, "The Ape".
Here is the synopsis: Determined to write the next great American novel, family man Harry Walker (James Franco, also directing his feature film debut) leaves his job as a corporate scrub, moves out of his house and rents an apartment to help him focus. But when he unexpectedly discovers he has a roommate -- a trash-talking gorilla with an affinity for Hawaiian shirts -- Harry's plans go down the drain. Brian Lally portrays the scatological simian.

I first saw this film at a mall in Texas; the back of the DVD case said everything above INCLUDING the promise of gorilla wet willies.
I knew that I must see this movie.
Since I knew I would only watch it once, I rented it on Netflix. I was expecting a Pauly Shore-esque comedy, but it turned out to be a horrible independent film.
Don't waste your time; the trash talking, the poo flinging, the Hawaiian shirts, nay, NOT EVEN the gorilla wet willies aren worth putting up with the horrible acting and incoherent plot.

We had a full first show; it was hot in the tent, but the audience was very an Arkansas kind of way.
I kept cracking Ryan up with my comments during the table act. During our two kissing bits (one where he kisses up my arm and stops face to face with me, and one where he kisses me on the nose), I made shot gun cocking noises.
Then, at the end of the act, when Tatiana comes out of her dress with the laundry line of clothes, I quipped, "Now I recognize her! She's my cousin!"

We had another full house for the second show, and we topped off the evening with a hilarious BBQ, sharing lots of stories from our pasts.

On Thursday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for a 52 mile jump to Mena. When I got to the lot, a very bumpy, grass lot, Tavo told me that there was a dump station that I could use.
I had just dumped my tank before Hugo, but I figured why not keep ahead of the game.
I turned my rig around to head to the station, when all of a sudden I heard a horrible metallic grinding.
Tavana was standing nearby and shouted to me that my wheel was coming off. Sure enough, one of the wheels on the driver side of the trailer was sticking out at a diagonal angle.

After professional analyses from Casey, Danny, Castro, and Leslie, the prognosis was this: my bearings broke open, which allowed the drum to slide off. All my lug nuts stayed on the hub, and miraculously there was no damage done to my spindle. Also, thank God it waited to do this now instead of on the road.

Danny took me to a trailer place in town where I picked up a new hub and some shackles for my spring hangers. I'm glad he was with me, because I was clueless as to what all I needed.

Back at the lot, Fridman and Castro went to work on putting the new hub on the tire and fixing the spring hanger shackles.
When it was time to put the tire back on, it was discovered that it was incredibly worn. I brought out my spare trailer tire, only to discover that there was a nail in it!

Danny, Fridman, John Moss, and I had a little "Boys Day Out", all jammed in the flat bed truck, to get parts that we needed.
We stopped by a tire place where they luckily had a used tire the size that I was looking for. They also went to work patching the hole where the nail had been in the spare.

We then revisited the trailer place; unfortunately the guys who worked there were at lunch, so we ended up waiting around for an hour until they returned to get us all what we needed.

Once I came back with the better tires, Castro got everything fixed for me. Many thanks to everyone that helped make this potentially disastrous day go surprisingly smooth.

Both shows today were almost full; the only obstacle we had to overcome was the strong wind blowing into the back door.

After the shows Jessi and I did a Wal Mart run for supplies. While I was there I ran into one of the guys from the trailer shop. He and his family had just been at the show and they told me how much they enjoyed it.

On Friday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 38 mile jump to Waldron. I got up early so I could dump my septic tank on the lot in Mena (since the last attempt didn't go so well).

We were on a tight dirt and rock lot today and it was overcast with the promise of bad storms tonight.

I declared it "Zombie Day" in my trailer. I watched "Zombieland" and played "Left 4 Dead 2" for awhile this afternoon.

It started to rain just in time for the first show. It wasn't raining too hard, but all the precipitation was all blowing into the back door.

Adrian Poema was nursing an injury today, so there was no risley act for both shows. This meant that we didn't do walkarounds to give us enough time to get ready for the exterminator gag.

We had an average sized crowd for the first show. By the time the table gag rolled around, the ring mat was covered in muddy water. Falling in it repeatedly did not put me in a very good mood.

We had a decent sized crowd for the second show, but they had a ton of energy. The slide table and exterminator gags were basically reduced to mud wrestling. Every time we fell it was into a puddle, and we were splashing up water and slipping all over the ring mat.
The audience loved it though; I think they realized the ridiculousness of it all and were very appreciative.

All of the webs had big knots on the bottoms to keep the ropes out of the mud. This made setting web very difficult (for me at least. I AM about the worst web setter in the history of the American circus).
When I was getting Jessi into the fast spin, the end of the rope came up and slapped me in the face.
If I had the ability to "Hulk out", that would have been the perfect opportunity.

We need to start writing gags where we don't fall down.

April 5- Ozark, AR
April 6- Day Off
April 7- Heber Springs, AR

Thursday, April 1, 2010

March 29-30: Ashdown, AR & DeQueen, AR-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

On Monday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 59 mile jump to Ashdown. We were on a flat, grassy lot and the weather was beautiful; a perfect circus day!

Ryan and Tatiana had to go to Dallas for an appointment this morning about Tatiana's visa, so they started their journey last night.
We were worried he might not make it back in time for the show, but he got to Ashdown with plenty of time to spare.

We had a decent sized crowd for the first show, and even more people for the second show.

The lot had one fault to it, a funky stench coming from a nearby plant or mill. We could really smell it before and during the exterminator gag. I guess you could say the gag smelled....funny....

I wasn't feeling very well tonight. I had a headache, plus I was congested, fatigued, and a little queasy too.
I took a night off from the BBQ and took some medicine that Natalie gave me.

On Tuesday we had a 6:30 a.m. call for our 33 mile jump to DeQueen. We were on a bumpy, grassy lot, but it was a sunny day.

I was feeling much better today; Ryan and I even squeezed in a little trumpet practice for the first time in awhile.

We had a good sized crowd for the first show; Ryan kept me entertained during the exterminator gag by doing his Dan Rooney impression (those of you that worked with Dan on Ringling or are a clown geek like me will appreciate that).

Today I started teaching Ralph and Norton to follow me and to come when they are called. So far so good!

We had a strong finish to the night: a full second show and a delicious BBQ at Casey's. We actually called it an early night so Casey could move away from the soft spot of ground that he was parked on.