Friday, December 20, 2013

Saturday December 14-Sunday, December 15

Greetings from I-70 West outside of Columbus. OH!

I know it isn't Throwback Thursday today, but here's a picture from Ryan's past that is proudly on display at his grandparents' house:

That's Ryan as a kid juggling for President Bill Clinton back in the 90s. Before leaving, President Clinton imparted these words of wisdom to the impressionable young Combs, "Don't take your jacket off. It's about to come to rain."
Great man. Great president. Great meteorologist. 

Here's another photo from Ryan's grandparents' house:

Know what that is?
Those are all my blog entries from Kelly Miller, printed out and filed away by Grandpa George.
Seeing it all in one place made me realize that I've written a lot of crap over the past five years!

On Saturday Ryan and I drove to New Bedford, MA for two shows at the Keith Middle School.
I didn't correctly read the tour info sheet, and we ended up circling the High School looking for an entrance before I realized that we were playing a different venue this year.

Our Santa, John Bundy, had conflicting gigs today, so Doc Swan stepped in as the jolly one.
It was great to see Doc again. He was the Santa my first three years on the Christmas tour, and I hadn't seen him since December of Aught Nine.

Eddie, a circus fan from the area, came to watch the two shows with his family. We chatted with him a bit throughout the day.

Amie, who helps Gail with the dogs, brought a portable, one cup coffee maker with her on the tour, which made her my new best friend. From then on she was nice enough to make coffee for me every day to keep me sane and caffeinated. 

The Middle School stage proved to be a difficult venue since it was set up for a concert the next day. Also, the front curtain didn't close (why would it, right?), which made for awkward prop changes. We're all pros and made it work, though.

Ryan had a lot of family at the shows today. His grandparents, his uncle Kevin, and his dad and stepmom all came to the first show, and his mom watched the second performance.

Ryan's dad, Chris, brought a couple of gifts for me, for which I was grateful. He brews his own beer, and he brought me a small jug of a coffee stout. He also brought a light up Bumble for me to use in my Very Merry Bumble Christmas display at home in Walterboro.

Around the time the shows began it started to snow. (Or "came to snow", as President Clinton might say)
By the time we were finished for the evening, there was a good coat of snow on everything.

Ryan and I stopped for dinner with his mom on the way back to Marlboro. Travel in the snow was very stressful for a good ol' Southern boy like me.
I drove the first shift to the restaurant, and Ryan drove the rest of the way. I think it is safe to say that I got the raw end of the deal since the snow was coming down heavily, and I couldn't see any lines on the road. It was slow going, to say the least.

Luckily by the time we had finished dinner the snowfall had subsided, and it was fairly easy going to Ryan's grandparents' house.

We had to shovel snow once we got to the house so we could gain access to the driveway. It was fairly late by the time we got to sleep.

On Sunday morning we slept in to get some much needed rest, and we hit the road close to lunch time.
We were in no particular hurry to leave since we had the day off for travel.

Before we took off I helped Grandpa George with the snow in the driveway.

Well, actually I stood there and posed for a picture. Which helped him….take a picture of me standing by the snowblower….I guess.

Grandpa George said that they had received 10 inches of snow. I was glad that all the wintry weather was finished by the time we got up.

We made great time on our drive once we hit the road, and we were even able to get into our hotel in Norristown, PA at a decent hour.

Since we were playing in the Philadelphia area for the next several days, we decided to base our operations out of one hotel for the whole time.

I'll see you all tomorrow with another update!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Monday, December 9

Greetings from I-40 East outside of Memphis! (Don't worry. Ryan is driving as I type)

This past week was extremely hectic, and unfortunately stressful. I suppose we were paying the price for taking a break last week to indulge our fancies of watching a British Sci-Fi/Comedy, and spending one day being thankful for what we had.

It seemed the fates were against us all this week as far as our prop construction was concerned. Every time we took a step forward, we were then forced to take two big steps back.
It was extremely frustrating and time consuming. 

On Thursday we knew that an ice storm was set to blow through the area, but I severely underestimated the impact it was going to have.
I woke up around 3:00 a.m. Friday morning to find that the power was out. There was freezing rain all night that accumulated on the power lines, trees, and everything in sight until the power was knocked out in different parts of town.

When I woke up in the morning I found out that the trees surrounding our trailers were all either losing limbs at an alarming rate, or simply falling over.
Ryan and I moved our houses out of danger's reach, which was no easy feat since everything was frozen: truck doors, windshields, jacks, etc.
Luckily I had the forethought to keep my water running all night, so I was able to use hot water to thaw a lot of ice. And no, I didn't put hot water on my windshield!

After getting situated, I went to the Circus City Diner to warm up and have some coffee. 
The place was packed not only  with regulars but also with the men taking a break from restoring power to parts of the town.
Apparently Friday was the biggest day of business the diner has experienced in its history, and they didn't open Saturday morning because they had run out of food.

I stayed indoors most of the day until my trailer battery died, which quickly got rid of our lights and heat.
After that we went around town vainly looking for a propane heater or an adaptor so I could use my new generator. Of course every store was sold out long ago since we didn't start looking until the evening.
I also tried to book a hotel room for the night, but again I was a day late and a dollar short. 

Later in the evening, over dinner, we explained our situation to Radar and Elisa, who graciously offered to let us borrow their generator. 
However, on the way to Winter Quarters we found out that our power had been restored. Hallelujah!

Many thanks to the people who worked long, difficult hours to get the power restored. We were very lucky that our outage only lasted about 14 hours; many homes are still without power.

The ice storm threw a big, cold monkey wrench in our plans for the weekend. Ryan and I were put way behind schedule.

On Sunday Ryan and I needed to drive to Dallas anyway to pick up our rental car, as well as to buy some materials and costumes that we are not able to get in Hugo. 

Unfortunately we had another wrench thrown into our plans since a few of the businesses we needed to visit were closed on Sunday.

We still managed to have a fun and safe day in Dallas. Here's an interesting little anecdote from lunch at In 'N Out Burger.
While I was waiting for our order to come up, I heard one irate woman complain to anyone that was listening, "No french fry sauce! I can't wait to get back to Utah where I can get french fry sauce!"
At first I thought "french fry sauce" was Mormon slang for ketchup since she was leaving the ketchup dispenser as she griped, but upon further research, I found this:

Ryan accurately guessed what the secret ingredients of french fry sauce were before I found the article, and he found it amusing that she could have easily made it herself with supplies readily available at the restaurant instead of complaining about it.

While we were shopping in Dallas Ryan picked up a present for Tatiana since they just celebrated their 4th wedding anniversary.....without either of them realizing it until the day after.
Ah, sweet romance.

At the airport Ryan and I were able to pick up our rental car.

The roads going to Dallas were not bad at all, but things got a little dicy around downtown and the airport. All the bridges and overpasses still had sludge and icy residue on them, and on our way back from the airport, Ryan and I encountered a five lane section of Interstate that was completely covered with slush that had frozen again, 
It was a scary scenario since you couldn't see the lines designating the lanes. Everyone just had to carefully make their own way across the treacherous tundra….it was kind of like playing the game, "Oregon Trail"! Only no one in my party died of dysentery. 

Ryan and I got back to Hugo around 10 p.m., and then I went right to work packing and getting my trailer ready for my departure.
Unfortunately I was up way past my bedtime, and I only got about 3 1/3 hours of sleep before I had to roll out of bed at 5:00 a.m.

An hour later Ryan and I were on the road to Williamsport, PA for our first engagement with our winter tour of "'Twas The Gift Show Before Christmas".

I'll be updating the blog sporadically over the next two weeks with updates from the tour. Keep checking in so you don't miss a moment of the madness.

Wait, did I say madness? I meant Christmasy madness!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Post Tomorrow

Hey everybody,

This has been a crazy weekend, what with an ice storm hitting Hugo, as well as our preparations to hit the road for Pennsylvania, so I am behind.
I will write a blog tomorrow during the 12 hour first leg of our drive. See you then!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Sunday, December 1st

Greetings from Relaxing Hugo, OK!

This week was a lot more laid back than the past few have been; Ryan and I spent the majority of the week just relaxing. I started watching the British Sci-Fi/Comedy series, "Dr. Who", which Ryan, John, and Clara are always raving about.
I watched (and enjoyed!) the majority of the first season (from the newest reincarnation) with Ryan....and sometimes Nico.

When he wasn't running around playing with Angry Birds, of course.

On Thanksgiving Thursday I joined John, Clara, Dudley, Natalie, Georgia, Tootie, and Fridman over at Danny and Tavana's house for lunch. 
The food was incredible, and I was thankful that I got to spend the afternoon with good friends.
Later in the evening, John, Clara, and I went to Ryan's trailer to have leftovers from his family meal, and of course, to watch more "Dr. Who"!

In closing, here's a note from Clara:

Since I wasn't able to find a job here in Hugo, I've made my job this: Making bags that incorporate used circus tent vinyl...the first four bags are up and ready to ship! More bags will be showing up soon...if you want a custom bag or a bag made entirely of circus tent vinyl, message me. Thanks!

Those bags make great Christmas gifts! hint hint

See you all next weekend!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday, November 17

Greetings from exhausting Hugo, OK!

All week Ryan, John, and I have been working on clown props; me and Ryan on our props for Vazquez, and John on his props for Kelly Miller. Radar was nice enough to help us out by welding the metal frames for a couple of our larger props.
Monday was our first day really concentrating on all the work we had to do. We went in after the Winter Quarters crew had finished for the day, and once we started, six hours flew by before we knew it.

Ryan began carving foam props, and since he needed to carve a couple of heads, he had John walk down to the storage unit to grab the head from this year's carpenter gag.
As John was walking back to Winter Quarters, holding a realistic looking clown head, a truck drove by and then slammed on the brakes.
The driver stuck his head out of the window to get a better look, his face a mask of terror. John assured the man that it was just a clown prop, and the man continued on his way.
John said the whole situation was so hilarious, but he felt bad because the man was visibly shaken by the whole thing.
I guess that story is a testament to Ryan's talent as a prop maker!

I felt like we really lost our steam Tuesday night; not nearly as much progress was made. While making a base board for one of our box props, I made some bad measurements and therefore faulty cuts.
I was very upset with myself that I wasted our money, plus all the time I had spent on that one piece of wood. The next morning I had to buy a new board and start from scratch.

Wednesday was a much better day. A night of rest cleared my head, and Ryan and I came up with a simple solution to the problem that had seemed so difficult last night.

Ryan had to go to Paris to look at trucks, and while he was gone I put an ad on Craigslist for my old trailer.
I was amazed when my phone started ringing off the hook thirty minutes later! After talking to a few people, one lady said she wanted to commit to buying it, and she would be coming down from Oklahoma City to see the trailer in person.
When she and her husband came by in the evening, she gave me a downpayment. I'll be delivering the trailer to her this week, and then I'll have one big weight off my shoulders!

Ryan, John, and I put in a lot of hours on Wednesday. We didn't leave the shop until 1 a.m. We were beat!

On Thursday and Friday John was out of commission with the flu. Ryan and Tatiana went to Dallas and found the fifth wheel toy hauler trailer that they are going to buy. They also picked up their spiffy, new pick up truck.

This weekend was no time for rest. Since we had the shop to ourselves, Ryan, John, and I were there from morning until night. The good news is that we made some great headway on our props; of course, there is still plenty for us to do.
The time passed more pleasantly since I was able to hook up my iPod to Radar's stereo, which provided us with some prime tuneage.

I'll see you all next weekend with another update....if I haven't collapsed from sheer exhaustion by then!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Saturday, November 2

Greetings from windy Hugo, OK!

It has been quite a busy week! 
Ryan and I began the Insanity Workout program on Monday, and for the first few days the three of us had difficulty walking, standing, and just generally moving around.
Luckily one day the program focused mainly on stretching, which put us back to our normal selves.

I am now the owner of a new (used) trailer! Since returning to Hugo, I have been scouring Craigslist for a new home for next season.
Ryan and I both want toy haulers for next season so that we have plenty of room for our props and equipment. 
This posed a problem for me, because I severely limited my options by narrowing my search criteria. Finally I found a trailer outside of Oklahoma City that looked very promising. The big selling points for this particular trailer were:
a) The storage area in back was separated from the living area by a door.
b) The bedroom was separated from the kitchen area by a door.
c) The biggest advantage: The kitchen area had an extra counter and a dinette. So many of the pull behind toy haulers I looked at were severely lacking in living space to provide more storage space.

Larry, the trailer's owner, met up with us once he could get away from work. We discussed the price, and then we headed into Oklahoma City to finalize paperwork and get my loan established.
Without further ado, here is my new home away from home:

Tomorrow I'm going to pick it up with my truck, and then the moving process will begin!

Ryan and I have had two clowning gigs since we returned to Hugo; the first being on Halloween.
We drove to Broken Bow, OK to provide strolling entertainment for their "Safe & Sane Halloween Party", a festival held downtown with games, candy, and entertainment for the trick or treaters.

Today was the 5th Annual Hugo Circus Festival, which raises money for the construction of the Circus City Museum & Research Center.
There were pony and elephant rides, face painting, circus snacks, and three performances for the people of Hugo.
Representing Kelly Miller in the three shows were Ryan and I, John Sayre, Girard Rosales, and John Moss. Natalie Chandler was there on behalf of Culpepper Merriweather, and her daughter, Georgia, even debuted her contortion act in the final performance.
Closing each show were the children from the Hugo Gymnastics program, who showed off their acrobatic prowess.

Last week when I posted, I promised some big it is.
Ryan and I are pleased to announce that our friend, John Sayre, after completing the year as the Kelly Miller advance clown, will be replacing us as the clown for Kelly Miller's 2014 season!
We are very proud of John, and we look forward to seeing him in the circus ring!

That's a wrap for next week. Tune in next Sunday to hear about the newest session of the Steve & Ryan Circus Clowning Intensive!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday, October 27

Greetings from dreary Hugo, OK!

On Friday the 25th, the show made its 105 mile jump from Ardmore, OK to the Kelly Miller Winter Quarters in Hugo.

The final jump occurred without incident for me, no matter how hard the fates tried to get in one last mishap.
I stopped for a bathroom break around the halfway point, and as I walked back to my trailer, I noticed that the door to my propane tanks was completely off, and it was just leaning against my trailer jack. One big bump, and that bad boy would have gone sailing into the road.
Thank goodness my guardian angel was watching over me for my final Kelly Miller jump.

Once my rig was parked at Winter Quarters, I immediately plugged my trailer into a power source. Hooray for 24 hour power!

Ryan and I have been taking it easy the past few days. We began organizing and cleaning out Ryan's storage unit, which is always a monumental undertaking due to the sheer amount of clown props and paraphernalia, PLUS household items from both of us.
I also began cleaning out and organizing my trailer. I've been scouring the web for a new trailer, and I've found a few exciting leads.

I've been having fun showing John, and Clara the sights around Hugo, and taking them to some of my favorite haunts. Of course we've been to Angie's Circus City Diner, and also to Busy Bee for delicious burgers.

On Saturday it rained, and rained, and rained, and rained! I was so happy that we didn't have to go out in the elements to perform!
It was a perfect day to stay in to play video games and watch movies.
Speaking of which, Ryan and I have continued our "Scare-athon". My pick of the week is the excellent ghost film, "Mama", produced by Guillermo Del Toro.

Things should start to pick up this coming week as we begin to work on props for next season. We also have a couple of gigs coming up, so I'm sure I'll have stories to share.
I also have an exciting announcement.......

Tune in next Sunday for the full scoop!

Friday, October 25, 2013

"I Feel So Sorry For You"- Kid To Ryan

Thursday, October 24: Ardmore, OK-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

It finally arrived, the final day of the 2013 Kelly Miller Circus season, as well as our final day with the show.

Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I spent most of the afternoon running around town. We browsed the books, movies, and games at Hastings, we went by Staples so I could print out a contract for an upcoming Halloween gig, and then we swung by a florist so Tatiana could buy flowers for her parents.

Our final day at Kelly Miller was chock full of visitors. Ryan and I had a nice visit with Tina Bausch, the advance clown for Culpepper Merriweather, who was recently honored with a Lifetime of Laughter award for her 29 years (and counting!) in the circus business.

Natalie and her daughters, Georgia and Genevieve, also came to visit, fresh off their tour with Culpepper. It was good to see them again, and I was able to give them the gifts I picked up for them on Kelleys Island.

Last night at the Halloween party I was able to see Lucky and Vickie, who were the music department our first several years on the show, and also Mike and Pat, who tour with us in TX. Both couples were around today to see the final shows.

Dudley, the Kelly Miller WQ caretaker, his daughter, Carol, and her husband, Rich, also came out today to see the first performance. I look forward to catching up with Dudley this winter over root beer and cashews.

The surprise visitors for the evening were former Cole Bros. clown, Manny Casalino, and his son, and Joel Falk, who was the rope spinner and substitute camel presenter our third year on Kelly Miller.

The last two performances were extremely hectic as usual. It was a shame that the ground in the tent was so terrible for our final stand. I am REALLY looking forward to performing on a solid floor next year.

After the gaucho act in the second performance, John Moss made a presentation to Mr. Fusco in honor of his final performance. John talked about Norberto's career while the whole Fusco family (that is on tour with KM), came into the ring to give him flowers.
I wish I could have seen it, but I was backstage waiting to go on for the mouth gag.

When it was all over, I wasn't feeling sad or nostalgic. I was just relieved that the tour was over.
We will miss our Kelly Miller family, but for right now, it's time for a break!

I capped off the evening by joining a large group of folks from the show for dinner. It was a nice way to end the season, but we didn't get to bed until 1:00 a.m.

Check in Sunday for the next update!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

"Peaches!"- Crazed Little Boy After Examining His Coloring Book

Monday, October 21: Pryor, OK-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 57
Lot: fairgrounds

Just so you all know, the name of this town isn't pronounced, "Pryer"; instead, the locals say, "Prrrryrrrr".
And now you know!

Today for our "Scare-athon" we watched "The Lords Of Salem", a new Rob Zombie film about witches. I liked the movie, but it was a little slow; the ending also left something to be desired. However, there were some great, disturbing moments and visuals.

Jonathon, who is the blow off of our carpenter gag, was sick tonight, so his twin brother, Jonary, filled in for him.
When he was chasing me at the end of the gag, I realized that he runs a lot faster than Jonathon, and I had to actually put some effort into not getting caught!

It was mighty cold tonight, so the show left the generator running all night.

Four more shows to go!

Monday, October 21, 2013

I'm Getting Lazy With My Posting....

"I Came All The Way Over Here On My Bad Ankle To Get A Picture With You!"- Limping Woman
Friday, October 18: Strafford, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 69
Lot: school grounds

This morning I went to a laundromat in Springfield, MO, which wasn't too far away. Pete tagged along because he wanted to check out a used movie and video game store.
Luckily our last laundromat visited on this year's tour was a good one; no flooding washers or faulty dryers!
Before we headed back to the lot, we swung by Gamestop so Pete could buy a few used video games for my birthday.

Back at the lot Ryan, Pete, and I helped John Sayre with his rehearsal in the tent. We had him run his strongman gag a few times with music, sound effects, and props.
John has an audition tomorrow for the clown job for next season. Jim Royal is coming to see it, along with Mr. North.
Ryan and I requested that John do his gag in the first show today so that tomorrow he wouldn't have the pressure of the audition AND doing the gag for the first time in front of an audience.

Around show time it began to rain, which made the cold weather even more nasty.
Ryan and I had a great carpenter gag in the second show, but unfortunately the public was really getting on my nerves during Intermission. I think part of the reason for my short patience was the weather.

Tonight during the shows I watched the classic zombie movie, "Night of the Living Dead". I am a huge zombie fan, and it's always nice to see the film that created the type of zombies that people are so familiar with today.

After the shows we all had to move off the lot because the rain was expected to continue throughout the night.
One of the semis got stuck right in the entrance to the lot, but the rest of us were able to get off the grass in different places.
Unfortunately the lot was surrounded by a ditch, which limited the number of exits, but I followed a few trailers through a spot where the ditch was just a slight dip in the grass.
We all parked down the street in the parking lot of the high school.

"You Want Your Face Painted? I'll Do It With A Roller When We Get Home"- Man To His Child
Saturday, October 19: Wheaton, MO-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Miles: 79
Lot: Body of Christ grounds

Today was my 30th birthday. Where did my 20s go?!?!
John and Clara Sayre treated me to breakfast at a restaurant across the street. I thought it was interesting that the restaurant was an establishment where people can still smoke inside; despite that, the food was delicious!

John Sayre performed his strongman gag for both performances today as an audition for Mr. North and Jim Royal. Ryan and I gave him tips after each performance, and I was happy to see the routine tighten up and John's confidence grow each time.

At the start of the second show Ryan and I were talking and joking around with Jim Royal when Ryan suddenly realized that he had forgotten his microphone for the trombone gag.
Ryan quickly gave me his trombone and rushed to the back door to retrieve the mic. Fortunately he made it to the tent's entrance just in time to start the gag.

After the shows Ryan, Peter, Radar, Elisa, John, Clara, and I had a big cookout to celebrate my birthday.

I think I can safely say this was one of the best birthdays I have had in a long time. Thanks, everyone!

"It's Time For Action!"- Nico
Sunday, October 20: Commerce, OK-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 78
Lot: Beside Commerce Community Church

I don't have much to report from Commerce. At this point in the tour, knowing that we only have 5 days left, my boredom has begun setting in.
To help alleviate my weariness, I changed the color of my bottom lip to black for the first show, and red for the second.
I know, I know....I need to calm down.

Peter gave the cast and crew a good laugh in the second show's production number. He plays a whooshing sound effect when Lamont blows his final, giant fire ball. For several days now Pete has been hinting to Lamont that a different sound effect might get played sometime, but it would have to come as a surprise.
Well, today was that day! Lamont readied himself, blew the fire ball, and the sound of a gigantic burp echoed throughout the big top.
All of us backstage were doubled over with laughter, and Lamont was no exception when he came backstage.

Six shows to go!

Friday, October 18, 2013

"How Much Are Them?"- Grown Man Asking The Price Of Coloring Books

Thursday, October 17: Camdenton, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 95
Lot: Lake of the Ozarks Amphitheater

Last night while we were hanging out with the Red Unit clowns, I was making everybody laugh by describing the overly complicated method one clown used to teach the simple walk into a wall bit.
Well, this morning I rolled out of bed half asleep, put my wallet and phone in my pockets, and turned around, nose first, into a wall.
I prefer the overly complicated method....

This morning's drive seemed to drag on and on, and towards the end my eyes were getting very heavy.
I planned to take a 30 minute nap once I was done setting up my trailer at the new lot, but I ended up sleeping through my alarm and crashing for almost two hours. I guess I needed the rest!

John Sayre had rehearsal time in the ring this morning for the strongman gag he wrote. Ryan and I helped him get used to the ring space, block the bits, and tighten up the gag.

Today's lot was definitely difficult to work on; there were huge rocks all over the place. In fact, the ground was so bad that we didn't use the little clown car for fear all the wheels would just break off the chassis before we made it around the ring. I was grateful that I only do one easy fall in the carpenter gag!

Ryan and I have been slacking the past couple of days with our "Scare-athon". We've been so busy helping John, plus just our daily routine of moving and doing the shows, that we haven't found the time to sit down and watch a film.
I decided that even if we don't get to watch a horror movie together, I'm still going to get my Halloween fix.
Tonight during the shows I watched the Universal classic, "The Mummy". I appreciated the make up effects on Boris Karloff, but I just have a hard time getting into the slow pacing of the classic monster movies.

Just a heads up: I'm taking tomorrow off to celebrate my 30th birthday. I'll see you all again on Sunday with two blog posts!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

"Do It Like A Clown! Boing Boing!"- Lady Instructing Her Daughter How To Jump In The Bounce House

Wednesday, October 16: Auxvasse, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 38
Lot: Lions Club grounds

Today Ryan and I worked with John Sayre on his new strong man gag. We didn't have access to the ring, but we were able to run through it in the area between the bleachers and the ring side seating.

Over half of the current Ringling Red Show Clown Alley came to visit this evening. They open tomorrow night in St. Louis, which is about two hours away, so they made the trip tonight to come see us work.
They brought a free roll comprised of strictly red items: red Gatorade, a red can of Pringles, BigRed chewing gum, etc.
This is an old tradition between the two Ringling units. You always take free roll to the clowns that is strictly red or blue.
Frankly, I don't care what color food is, as long as it's free! Thanks, clownies!

The ring mat was very slick for the second show, so the Alley got to see me slip and fall a few times while I was running around with the power saw (or chainsaw if you live in a wealthy town in Illinois). Hopefully my floundering looked funny; I pictured myself flopping around like a clubbed seal.....however, I stayed committed to making the saw seem like it was out of control the whole time!

After the shows I ordered some pizzas and hosted a hang out in my trailer. We were able to fit seven Ringling clowns, the head of the Red Show's nursery, Ryan, Peter, John and Clara Sayre, and myself into my narrow trailer.

We had such a great time visiting and laughing, but unfortunately all good things must come to an end. The Ringling clowns had to get back to St. Louis, and we all had to get to bed in preparation for our 95 mile jump in the morning.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

"You're A Terrible Driver, Ryan"- Boy After I Told Him The Story Of Ryan Crashing The Clown Car

Tuesday, October 15: Paris, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 94
Lot: fairgrounds

I was still feeling under the weather today, so I tried to rest as much as possible.

This afternoon for our "Scare-athon" we watched "Slither", a really fun, gory movie about slugs from outer space that turn the residents of a small town into zombies to breed even more slugs.
There were so many hilarious lines in the movie, and there were some nice, gooey special effects as well.

Pregnancy, nature's most beautiful miracle!

Our friend, Alex, called us today from Tel Aviv, Israel, where he is living until early next year. It was nice to catch up with him since we haven't really talked since he went over there a few months ago.

There was a guy sitting in the front row during the second show that had a ridiculous flock of seagulls-ish hair style. The girl sitting next to him was having a great time, but he looked absolutely miserable.
After the carpenter gag Ryan mentioned to me his dour expression, and I assured him that I would be pretty upset too if I had that hair cut!

Not his actual hairstyle, but just as ridiculous.

The fairgrounds we were showing had power outlets all over the place, so many of us plugged in our trailers and had power all night.
It's wonderful to occasionally have the creature comforts that you take for granted when you live in a house that doesn't have to move everyday.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fish Eyes!

Monday, October 14: Warrenton, MO-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 37
Lot: Athletic Complex

This morning for our "Scare-athon" we watched the new killer doll movie, "Curse of Chucky". When I was a little kid, I was terrified of the Chucky movies, but at the same time, I always had a morbid curiosity about them.
I was a little disappointed in the newest film. It had some nice moments, but it took way too long to get to the good stuff, i.e. Chucky running around killing people and cracking wise.

The cold that's been going around Kelly Miller finally caught up with me today in the form of a sore throat. I'm hoping that with rest and medicine it won't get too much worse.
The lot certainly didn't help. We were on a rocky lot that was also very dusty; I'm sure all the dirt I inhaled wasn't good for my sinuses.

To save my voice, I wasn't doing my usual high pitched screams in the carpenter gag tonight. The changes caught Ryan off guard and made him laugh a few times.

Roger Estill came to see the second show tonight, and he made sure to stop by our coloring book table to visit. It was good to see you again, Roger.

Monday, October 14, 2013

"Da F**k?"- Man In The Front Row Confused By My Hijinx

Sunday, October 13: Union, MO-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 75
Lot: Jaycee Fairgrounds

This morning, before the little clown car was unloaded, Pete noticed that one of its tires was flat.
Ryan grabbed our bicycle pump and climbed into the back of the truck to re inflate the tire.
After accomplishing that task, he jumped down onto the ground and kept an eye on the tire to make sure it wasn't deflating again.
Suddenly, something caught his eye, causing Ryan to move in closer to get a better look. My curiosity aroused, I joined him, our faces mere inches from the tire.
We could see a small bubble forming in the tire's inner tube that was getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger until BAM!, the tube popped right in our faces.
We were so startled, and yet we stood like deer in the headlights the whole time the bubble was growing, knowing that the outcome wasn't going to be good.

Our advance clown, John, and his wife, Clara, met up with the show today. They finished their work on Friday, and now they are going to travel with us for the remainder of the season.
We had a good time catching up with them today.

Our friend, Claire Wedermyer, who was formerly a clown on Kelly Miller, came to see the first show. I was happy that I got to visit with her between shows to hear about her life and work in St. Louis.

During the second Intermission a woman sitting in the bleachers behind us kept calling out to us until we turned around to acknowledge her. As soon as we did, she pointed to her toddler aged son and said, "He doesn't like you!"
As I turned back around I sarcastically thanked her for sharing.
Sometimes when we're meeting the public at Intermission, Ryan and I feel a lot like Luke Skywalker in the Mos Eisley Cantina.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

"He Wants To Know If You Have A Tail"- Woman Explaining Her Son Looking Behind Me

Saturday, October 12: Troy, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.

Dan Reynolds, who used to work with us on Kelly Miller, came by to visit today. I talked with him a bit before the first show, and then Ryan and I were able to chat with him a little more during the Intermissions.

There was a man in the audience for the first show who wanted to propose to his girlfriend. Right before the end of finale John Moss stopped the number and introduced the man, whose name was Paul. Paul took the microphone, got down on one knee, and proposed. Fortunately his girlfriend said yes, which saved us all from a very awkward finale.

A lady during the second Intermission felt the need to tell us that she didn't like clowns. By this point in the tour, I have begun to just immediately ignore anyone that says something of the like, but that just caused the woman to explain herself further, "A clown chased me one time, and I ran into a pole!"
This made me laugh pretty hard. Ryan put the topper on the situation by adding, "Shouldn't you be afraid of poles, then?"
After she left, Ryan and I began wondering aloud where all these clowns that chase people are coming from. We agreed that we'd both be too lazy to chase anyone.

After the shows Peter and I drove to St. Louis to visit the City Museum, a huge warehouse that's designed like a giant jungle gym. Patrons are invited to climb on and play in almost any architecture in the museum. There are tunnels made of old refrigerating coil suspended high in the air that you can crawl through, there are hidden crawlspaces everywhere, some of which take serious exploration to discover, and there is even a ferris wheel on the roof of the museum!
Jessica Hentoff, the executive director of Circus Harmony (which is based out of the City Museum), hooked us up with free passes, which we were extremely grateful for.

The three of us were like big kids climbing all over and through the different exhibits and mazes. One of my favorite parts is climbing through the refrigeration coil tunnels outside of the museum. Some of the tunnels even arch high into the air, which give you a terrifying view below. You can even crawl through two airplanes suspended between tunnels.

One of the highlights for the three of us was the 10 story slide inside the museum. Around 11:00 we decided it was time to head back to Troy, but we all wanted to go on the slide one more time.
Peter went ahead of me, and then when it was my turn, I noticed lots of money and cards in the slide.
I grabbed as much as I could on my way down, and when I got to the bottom of the slide I found out that it was the contents of my wallet!
Peter was holding onto my wallet since he had pockets that snapped shut (having the contents of your pockets slide out in the City Museum is a constant possibility). Unfortunately his shorts tore on the slide, and my wallet tumbled down the slide after him, dumping all of its contents.
I had grabbed some cash and one of my credit cards on the way down, and luckily the girl behind me grabbed the rest of the loot for me.
It was definitely a memorable way to end the evening!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Bad Decisions

Friday, October 11: Troy, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 27
Lot: Next to RP Lumber

Ryan was still feeling under the weather today, so he skipped the "Scare-athon" in favor of more rest.
I watched "Bram Stoker's Dracula", which I had never seen before. I liked it, but it was a little long towards the end. Still, it was one of the best movies we've seen so far out this year's selections (not that the competition has been very stiff).

Ryan and I met a lot of people during Intermission that were very complimentary. One gentleman said that he enjoys reading the blog, one woman had heard we weren't coming back and told us she would miss seeing us, and a few people told us they come every year to see us perform.
It's nice to know that we have made an impact on audience members during our time on Kelly Miller.

One woman and her grandson came up to us during the second Intermission and said, "We made some bad decisions."
Ryan quickly countered with, "So did we. Just look at us!"
The woman went on to say that she was teaching her grandson a lesson. He wanted a coloring book, but had already chosen to buy a few other novelties as soon as they arrived at the circus.
At first I thought she was going to give us a sob story to try and get free merchandise from us, but I was pleased that she was legitimately teaching the boy a life lesson in delayed gratification....or Reaganomics....I'm not exactly sure what her point was.
Ryan and I gave the kid a high five and told him to enjoy the rest of the show, which he seemed pleased with.

The St. Louis Arches, a group of young performers from the St. Louis based "Circus Harmony", performed at the beginning of the second half.
I didn't get a chance to see them work, but from what I heard they did an outstanding job.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sorry, There Was Lousy Internet Yesterday

"Congratulations On The 75th Anniversary Of Your Circus"- Sincere Young Man At Intermission
Wednesday, October 9: Litchfield, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. 
Miles: 40
Lot: A& D Electric parking lot

This morning for our "Scare-athon" we watched the Italian horror film, "Demons", about a group of people trapped in a movie theater as they are transformed into monsters one by one.
I had seen the movie as a kid, but it had been quite awhile since the last time I saw it; most of the plot was still a surprise to me.

Elisa tipped us off that there was a big Salvation Army across the street from the lot, so I joined her over there after the movie.
I was very lucky and found everything I needed for my Halloween costume. 

After a quick trip to Walmart to pick up supplies, I dyed the jacket and pants that I bought from the Salvation Army.
The jacket came out exactly like I wanted, but the pants still have a long way to go. Looks like I'll be picking up more dye!

Ryan was sick today, so I took over the talking parts in the trombone gag.

There was a lady in the front row during the second show who was on her cell phone for almost the entire performance.
During the carpenter gag I made a big deal about turning off the car alarm so she could deal with her phone call, which was obviously so important that she needed to devote all her attention to it.
My rant got some nice laughs from the audience, and Mr. North came over to tell us how much he enjoyed it, and how he couldn't believe how rude some people are.
The last time we saw her in the seats, the woman was still on her phone. Sigh.

After the show I got a wonderful surprise. Tina Bausch, the Cupepper Merriweather advance clown, gave me a call from Sarasota, FL, where she is attending the 45th Anniversary reunion of the Ringling Clown College.
The reunion begins tomorrow morning, but a group of alumni had already arrived, and they were having a good time around the hotel pool.
Tina passed the phone around so I could talk to some of the folks there; it really meant a lot to me.
I would love to attend the reunion (even though I didn't go to Clown College, road clowns are welcome), but my job as a circus clown comes first.
I'm very grateful to Tina for letting me be a part of the fun for a little while. Have a great time everyone!

"I Cut Off My Daughter's Head"- Man Talking About Taking A Picture….I Hope
Thursday, October 10: Staunton, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 17
Lot: Fireman's Park

This morning for the "Scare-athon" we watched the 1986 horror film, "April Fool's Day".  The movie has a nice twist ending, but it was slow going up until that point. It didn't help matters that the movie's audio track was so low that I could barely hear the dialogue, even with the volume cranked up.

It's hard to believe that our tour with Kelly Miller will be over in just two weeks. During the shows tonight I was reflecting on how quickly five years has gone by.
I will do my best to cherish my remaining time on this show.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"How'd You Guys Like To Scare The S**t Out Of Someone?"- Conniving Man At Intermission

Saturday, October 5: Carthage, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Miles: 43
Lot: saddle club

Elisa, and I went to a laundromat this morning since it had been about two weeks since our last laundry trip.
The inappropriately named "Convenient Coin Laundry" had many machines that were out of order, and I helped the establishment out by finding one more that was faulty.
It continued running after our other washers were finished, and when we opened the lid we saw that the cylinder was steadily filling with water after the final spin.
We had to wring every item out, and then it took a long time to completely dry the sopping wet clothes. At least the laundromat attendant finally made an appearance and gave us our money back for the defective washer.

I went on an improvisational tangent during the second carpenter gag that could have really crashed and burned, as I had no idea where I was going with it or how to end the bit.
Luckily, through quick thinking and a little luck, the bit payed off with a big laugh from the audience.
I was very pleased with the reactions we got for both shows today, because in the past I remember dying a horrible comedic death in Carthage.

One little observation that Ryan, Peter, and I have made about this part of the country is that people call coloring books "color books".
I didn't realize there was regional slang for soft drinks AND circus novelties.

Earlier today I had picked up steak for our barbecue tonight. Radar and Elisa specifically wanted thick steaks, so I got (what I thought was) two huge slabs of meat.
When it came time to cook the steaks, it turned out that it was just one gigantic cut of meat! Radar and Elisa cut it in two, and then it took quite awhile for the steak to cook to their satisfaction.
We kept joking that in the morning we'd all wake up for the jump and the steaks would just about be done cooking.

Sunday, October 6: Mt. Sterling, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 65
Lot: fairgrounds

We were in another town with lousy cell and Internet service today, hence this double blog post.

During the night the weather changed drastically; today was very cold and it was drizzling rain on and off.

We still managed to have a barbecue after the shows, even though the misting rain seemed to get worse as soon as we settled down to cook.
There were some towners on the property next to us who were giving us a hard time for wrapping up our grilling session so quickly.
I much prefered my remainder of the evening snuggling up with my girlfriend in my warm trailer and watching a movie.
But I guess they do things differently in Mt. Sterling....

In conclusion, both Ryan and I are honored that the talented artist, Patty Vicknair, painted fantastic pictures of both of us!

If you're interested in purchasing a print of either painting, click on the link below!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

"I Like Your Sequins. I Used To Wear Them When I Was A Stripper."- Woman Complimenting One Of The Showgirls On Her Makeup

Friday, October 4: Bushnell, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 71
Lot: VFW Park

This morning I didn't have a problem getting off the muddy lot. I turned on my 4 Wheel Drive, and Danny directed me through an area that was fairly solid.

Today for our "Scare-athon" we watched "Ice Cream Man", a movie about a homicidal librarian.
Just kidding....

The movie stars Ron "Opie" Howard's brother, Clint, who is one of those actors with a face made for horror movies.

Yeesh. He and Gary Busey should do a movie together.

This afternoon I crashed and took a long nap. I really needed it after Ryan and I stayed up so late talking and laughing with "Toto" last night.

It was another muggy day. During the first show both my and Ryan's clown noses kept wanting to slide off from the humidity.

Friday, October 4, 2013

"La Cucaracha!"- Man Shouting Out A Request For Us To Play On Our Trombones

Thursday, October 3: Kewanee, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 61
Lot: corner of 3rd & Elm

During the night it began raining, and during our drive this morning there were times when the rain was coming down in buckets. At one point I could barely see five feet in front of my truck from the amount of precipitation.

When I got to the lot, trucks and trailers were lined up along the street waiting to park. As soon as I pulled onto the lot's saturated ground, my truck got stuck. I turned on my 4 Wheel Drive and got to my parking space without further incident.
The lot was a disgusting, muddy mess after all the vehicles had pulled on. It finally stopped raining once everyone had arrived, but it stormed again in the late morning.

Today for our "Scare-athon" we watched the 1982 horror film, "Basket Case", about a man who carries his parasitic twin brother around in a picnic basket.
There's not much I can recommend from this film, but the terrible acting and hideous actors were amusing.
Seriously, he was one of the best looking ones

My friend and mentor, Ron "Toto" Johnson, came to visit today, bringing with him a case of Heineken beer. Thanks, "Toto"!
I had a good time catching up with "Toto"; he and Sam Drummond were the first two former Ringling clowns who mentored me when I was a teenager.

The audiences tonight were great, which made me and Ryan happy. We always like for our friends to see us in front of responsive crowds.
The mud didn't pose too much of a problem to us during the show either, so that was a plus.

There was a profoundly drunk man in the tent during the second show that was drinking malt liquor from a paper bag.
When he was ejected from the tent, he became agitated. His sister let the folks at the front gate know that he was fresh out of jail.
Before finale the man was stumbling around in the backdoor looking to bum a smoke from somebody.

They all come do they find us!?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Let The "Scare-athon" Begin!

Tuesday, October 1: Marseilles, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 31
Lot: 10 Acre Park

When I was getting ready to leave Channahon this morning, I heard a lot of sirens in the distance.
It turns out that there was a big wreck involving multiple semis, one of which was on fire, on the Interstate two miles from the lot.
We got caught in some congestion getting onto the Interstate, but luckily the accident was in the southbound lanes, and we were heading north. Traffic on the other side of the road was backed up for miles.

This morning Ryan, Peter, and I started our 2013 "Scare-athon", where we (ideally) watch one horror movie a day until Halloween.
We kicked things off right this morning by watching not one, not two, but TWO horror movies!
…..wait a minute…..

First we started with Peter Jackson's ultra gory zombie classic, "Dead Alive". Peter Jackson started out making all kinds of bloody, campy movies, and then went on to make mainstream hits like the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. 

None of which featured his biggest star, the Sumatran Rat Monkey

We were feeling pretty good after finishing that film, so next we popped in the Stephen King werewolf movie, "Silver Bullet".
That flick stars the most horrifying monster ever to grace the silver screen…..

Gary Busey!

All in all, our two choices were a great way to kick off our "Scare-athon"!

It was surprisingly humid today for the first day of October. I wouldn't be too sad if the weather stays decent for the final few weeks of the tour.

We met a lot of entertaining people during the second Intermission. One gentleman was wearing a pink shirt that said, "Don't Laugh, This Is Your Girlfriend's Shirt".
After reading that statement, Ryan raised his arms in triumph and exclaimed, "Hooray! I have a girlfriend! And apparently she's topless!"
That made the man laugh, and he responded by saying, "I got this shirt at Walmart. Best eight bucks I ever spent."
I added my two cents to the conversation, "Funny enough, that's where Ryan got his girlfriend too."

Wednesday, October 2: Washburn, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 63
Lot: across from high school

Washburn, IL is one of those out of the way towns that Kelly Miller occasionally plays where there is no cell service. Hence the absence of a blog post yesterday.

This morning Ryan, and I watched the film, "Waxwork", for our "Scare-athon". About the only thing to make it notable (for circus fans anyway), is that Mihaly "Michu" Meszaros, who toured for many years with Ringling as "The Smallest Man In The World", has a small (snicker) part in the film.

That must be from when Michu visited the Red Unit clowns....

Dave Williams, Charlie Bellatti, and Tim Tegge were at both shows this evening. I was ashamed that they saw the first carpenter gag since there was a group of kids in the bleachers that talked loudly throughout the entire act. They were so disruptive; I felt like the audience wasn't following us on anything we were doing, especially the more subtle bits.
Luckily the second performance was much better and everything was back on track.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Grumble Grumble

Sunday, September 29: Darien, IL-2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.
Miles: 25
Lot: Argonne Park

This morning, everyone arrived at the lot in Darien without incident, and we were all parked.
About an hour later, Oscar came around knocking on everyone's door, informing us that the whole show had to move to another part of the lot.
I'm not sure of the exact reason; I heard it was because we were on a gas line, and I also heard it was because we were on private or government property. Whatever the reason, it put a bad taste in our already soured mouths since we knew the town was kicking us off the lot after the shows.

Of course I was frustrated about having to pack up the ducks, ready the house, hook up to my truck, move, unhook again, and get the ducks relocated, but the animal crews and the tent crew suffered the biggest headaches.
All the animals departments were completely set up (we had been at the lot for about an hour, after all), and sections of the tent were already laid out on the ground.

Needless to say, it was not a happy way to start everyone's morning.

Luckily the audiences today were lively, which was a definite improvement over Addison.
With Mr. North's support, Ryan and I decided to make the fake head a regular part of the carpenter gag; it continued to get great reactions today, and we've even made it into a more developed bit.

After the shows we all jumped to Channahon, the next town. We arrived when the evening was still young, so a group of us went out to dinner to get away from our powerless trailers.

In closing, here's a photo from Vernon Hills of us with Gary Podolsky and his nephews, Joey, Will, and Matthew.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

"You Guys Are The Only Clowns I'm Not Afraid Of, And You're The Only Clowns Who Are Funny"- Woman At Intermission

Friday, September 27: Island Lake, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 16
Lot: Water tower park

Ryan lent me a pair of his clown shoes for the shows tonight so the glue holding the heel in place on mine would have plenty of time to dry.

The audience for the second show was a lot of fun in the trombone gag, and Ryan and I were really looking forward to hearing their response to the carpenter gag, in particular for a new bit we just started doing the other night.
What a let down we experienced! The crowds' energy was so unfocused that we got bupkis for the new bit.
Throughout the whole gag you could here a low rumble of white noise in the stands; they just weren't paying enough attention to enjoy all the subtle bits in the gag. What a disappointment after the past few nights.

Friday, September 27, 2013

"He's The Angriest Gamer You've Ever Heard....."

Thursday, September 26: Round Lake Beach, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 15
Lot: Civic Center

The drive this morning was only 15 miles, but it took well over an hour due to morning traffic, construction, stop lights, and trains.

The lot today was rather uneven. My trailer was leaning at a drastic angle towards the door, so going from one end of the house to the other was quite an adventure.
I have blocks for leveling, but not very good ones. Usually when I try to level my trailer with them, the trailer ends up just falling off the blocks. I usually just put up with unevenness for a day.

One definite plus of the lot was that we could pick up Wifi from the Home Depot next door. I spent all afternoon watching Angry Video Game Nerd and Monster Madness videos from one of my favorite websites- Cinemassacre.

Christina, the sister of my friend, Lisa, came to the first show with her family. In appreciation for the pass I got them, Chris brought me a Starbucks gift card. Sweet!

The audiences tonight were fantastic; a trend that I hope continues for the rest of the season.

While I was getting my trailer ready for travel tonight, the heel came off my right clown shoe. I used some Shoe Goo to glue it back in place, and I put on my old Converse sneakers for finale.
I looked like an early 1980s Ringling Red Show clown!

The show jumped to the next town after the 7:30 performance, but a few of us in the backyard had to wait until the tent was down to leave.
Luckily I was first in line, so as soon as the stakes and canvas were out of the way, I hit the road and safely made it to Island Lake around 11:00 p.m.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"Chicago Sucks"- Opinion Of A Man Who Has Lived There His Whole Life

Monday, September 23: Vernon Hills, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon I got dressed up and headed to the tent for a Catholic service led by Father Jerry Hogan, who flew in just for the occasion.
First, Dee-Dee, the schoolteacher, and Alexander, one of the circus kids, were baptized. Next, Johnny Moss, Arwen Brown, and Dee-Dee had their confirmation, and finally Dee-Dee and Nathan Moss took communion.
It's neat to be able to attend a church service under the big top; something not many people get to do!

Ryan and I were both feeling pretty burned out for the shows tonight. It's been a long season, and it seems like it has been more difficult as well; however, that may just be because we know we are not returning.
I remember feeling pretty burned out my fifth season on Ringling. We will try and hold our heads up high, though, as there is only a month left in the tour.

Ryan came out of his RV for the second mouth gag with a faux hump under his lab coat. He did it just as a gag to make me and Peter laugh, but after much coaxing, we convinced him to wear it for the show.
Thus, Dr. Quasimodo D.D.S. made his debut in the Kelly Miller ring.
What killed me, despite the obvious fact that Ryan was a hunchbacked clown, was that he played the character as an aristocrat with an air of dignity, despite his handicap.
I guess burnout makes you a little loopy....

In conclusion, here's a trailer for the film, "Greasepaint", which is a documentary about our friends at Nojoe's Clown Circus.
You might notice two intrepid jerks at one point in the clip....

(Forgive me if I already posted this. I can't remember if I have or not)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

"I'm Happy To Be Here"- Woman We Were Hugging In The Trombone Gag

Tuesday, September 17: Robbins, IL-4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Miles: 18
Lot: 135th & Claire

This morning Ryan got a head start on finishing up work on the new harness for the big mouth. Once I woke up from my nap I helped him get the harness attached to the mouth again; I then tried it on and got everything situated the way I like it.
The mouth gag is back in action!

I went out for a little while this afternoon, but when I came back, I had a hard time getting back to the lot. The city completely blocked off the street that contains the entrance to the lot, because the hose providing water to the show was stretched across the road.

The mouth gag went well after its short hiatus. The new harness is made out of thicker metal, which makes the whole thing heavier. Also, I need to put more gauze on the ends of the shoulder straps, because they are rubbing on my collarbone.

Robbins is not the best area, so there were lots of bullet proof vest clad cops around to maintain order.
One cop told us that the lot we were playing used to be a housing development, and he claimed that the piece of property had the most murders committed on it in the whole state of Illinois.

All things considered, everyone we met tonight was very nice, and the audiences loved us. Maybe Ryan and I need to work Universoul sometime in our future....

There was a little bit of excitement during the second Intermission when a fight broke out between two women, one of whom was holding her child the whole time.
The cops quickly ran in like a S.W.A.T team and broke up the skirmish. It happened right over by us, but we couldn't see because everyone started crowding around to watch and take video on their phones.

As we were leaving the tent we saw Mr. North coming back in. We told him he had missed the excitement, but he assured us that he was there when it started.
Ryan then queried, "Why were you out there starting fights?"

After the shows we had a night jump to Yorkville, which is a town we played a couple of weeks ago. We are playing Lockport on Thursday (in fact, we drove right by the lot on the way to Yorkville), but we're not allowed to stay there for our day off tomorrow.

When I arrived at the lot, I asked Alex, the 24 Hour Man, if he was able to use arrows from a couple of weeks ago to direct us to town, and he agreed that his job getting us to Yorkville was pretty easy.

Wednesday, September 18: Yorkville, IL-Day Off!
Miles: 44
Lot: fairgrounds

Ryan and I hit the road at 6:30 a.m. to begin the three hour drive up to Baraboo, WI.

We spent the day visiting with Greg DeSanto at the International Clown Hall of Fame. Both Ryan and I had a wonderful time talking with Greg and geeking out on all the amazing clown memorabilia and paraphernalia contained in the museum.

In the afternoon we took a break from our clown geek fest to visit our friend, Scott O'Donnell, who is the new executive director of the Circus World Museum.
Scott just began his job two days ago, but he was nice enough to take some time to visit with us and give us a tour of the museum grounds, as well as the amazing research library.

Back at the Clown Hall of Fame, Ryan and I continued poring over clown history until it was time to leave. We were hoping to spend the night in Baraboo, but because of the situation back at the show, we had to get back to make the jump to Lockport in the morning.

I was very tired on the drive back to Yorkville. I was running on only a few hours of sleep, and my brain was on clown overload.
Still we made it back to the lot around 1:30 a.m. and crashed in our beds.

Many thanks to Greg DeSanto, Scott O'Donnell, and everyone at Circus World Museum for a wonderful day off!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mr. Fusco!

Saturday, September 14: Mendota, IL-2:00 p.m and 7:30 p.m.

This morning Fridman did a lot of work on the harness that goes inside the big mouth prop. He bent the metal for us (I should have known we could turn to him for help when we failed in bending it yesterday), he took the old frame out of the mouth (Ryan and I are not looking forward to reattaching it), he cut the weak pieces of metal off the old frame, and then he welded the new metal onto it.
The new and improved harness is beautiful. Ryan and I just need to do a little more work on it before it can be reattached and the mouth gag can go back in the show.

John, our advance clown, came over this morning to run some new gag ideas by us. Ryan worked with John on the gag while I was with Fridman.
John then did a portion of his show for us; we helped him clean up some bits and gave some advice.

We had a very productive morning!

I'd rather not waste any data talking about the first show. The only thing worth mentioning is that when it came time for me and Ryan to pass clubs around somebody in our second half spot, no one in the audience was willing to help.
Ryan finally went over and pulled Mr. North out of the crowd; he was a perfect audience, volunteer!

Since the second show wasn't until 7:30, we had a three and a half hour break. I was in a bad mood from the first show, so for most of the time I was antisocial and sat on my couch watching the TV series, "Oz".
I did go outside to do some work on the skirt attached to the big mouth, though. Some areas at the bottom of the skirt were coming undone, so I sewed them.

Today was Mr. Fusco's 75th birthday (now he's the same age as the Kelly Miller Circus!), so at the conclusion of the gaucho act in the evening show, his grandchildren, Nico and Argio, went into the ring and presented Mr. Fusco with flowers and balloons.

After the shows there was a big party for Mr. Fusco. I went by to wish him a happy birthday, and we also enjoyed some of the delicious Fusco cooking.

Sunday, September 15: Brookfield, IL-Day Off!
Miles: 75
Lot: Ehlert Park

This morning's drive seemed to go on forever, and when we got to the lot it was cold, dreary, and drizzling.
I picked up Peter, as well as John and Clara Sayre for a trip to Panera Bread, which was a much better place to start the morning than in our cold, powerless trailers.

Back at the lot I cleaned up and then drove to Chicago. Our first stop was Hamlin Park north of downtown, which is where the Midnight Circus was performing.
Some of the performers from Midnight came to see us last week, and I was looking forward to catching their show.
Ryan, Tatiana, Peter, and Nico also showed up for the sold out 1:00 p.m. performance under the beautiful, intimate, blue and purple bigtop.
I was blown away by the energy and talent presented by the cast of the Midnight Circus. It definitely recharged my batteries to see such a great show.

After the show we visited with some of our friends in the cast, but then I had to leave abruptly to meet my mom downtown.

My mom and step dad are in Chicago for a few days for a conference, so our day off was a perfect chance to meet up with them.
They are staying at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers right off State Street, and they worked it out with one of the valets for me to leave my car right in front of the hotel for a few hours.
It was literally parked on the curb right outside the doors where all the taxis and limos were picking up and dropping off the hotel's clientele. We couldn't have asked for a better parking space!

I joined Mom and Jeffery in the hotel bar for a drink, and then I dropped some of my stuff off in their room before we headed out.
They were staying on the Club Level, at the very top of the hotel, and the view outside their window was awesome!

We walked around downtown Chicago a bit, but we finally caught a cab since the weather was still yucky.
We caught a ride over to Navy Pier and had dinner at "Bubba Gump Shrimp Co."

I was glad I got a chance to visit with Mom and Jeffery this evening. Hopefully Mom is going to catch our show on Tuesday; she's never seen me perform on Kelly Miller.

The drive out of Chicago was easy (I was surprised how easy the drive in was as well), and I was happy to get home and relax.
I had a long, full, fun day off.