Thursday, February 28, 2013

"?Que?"- The Roma Audiences During The Trombone Gag

Wednesday, February 27: Roma, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

This morning Danny, Fridman, and Christian worked hard and got the new engine in the little car.
With the old engine, Christian would have to push us until we'd built up enough momentum to get the car started. It was not always reliable.
This new engine has a pull cord on it and starts up on the first try. It also runs a lot quieter and makes the car easier to control (i.e. we're not hurtling around the ring breaking the speed barrier).

In Roma our trombone gag has not been going over very well. I'd like to believe that it is largely due to the fact that most people in the audience are not native English speakers.
After one witty joke bombed this evening, I quipped, "I knew I should have paid attention in high school Spanish!"

After the shows Ryan and I went over to visit with Rick Purdue. He showed us some of the shots he has taken of the show; beautiful stuff.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

"I Died In Thirty Days!"-William Henry Harrison

Tuesday, February 26: Roma, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Today Danny fixed the little car's on/off switch. It had come loose yesterday.
In addition, a brand new engine came in today, so when it is installed tomorrow we should be seeing the last of the majority of problems we've been experiencing with the car.

While we are out signing coloring books at Intermission, we make it a point to say hello to everyone passing by.
The second show, most people were just walking by without acknowledging us in the slightest.
Since they seemed to lack the common human decency to even return a greeting, Ryan and I devised a game to see if we could get people to pay attention to us, each of us using different (and ridiculous) methods.

Ryan adopted a tactic used by a former Kelly Miller clown, "Popcorn". As people would walk by, Ryan would point at the ground and say, "Look out for the snake".
I adopted a more unorthodox method of gaining attention. As people walked by I would blurt out names of US Presidents, the more obscure the better. "James Garfield", "William Henry Harrison", and so on.

Ryan got one lady to jump pretty high with the snake line, and when she came back into the tent, she was still actively searching the ground.
Pete laughed and observed, "She's still looking for snakes."
"Or presidents", I suggested.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

"He's Not Afraid Of Clowns. He's Afraid Of Getting His Picture Taken"- Lady At Intermission Talking About Her Crying Child

Monday, February 25: Roma, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Miles: 44
Lot: Riverview Shopping Plaza

The fog on this morning's drive was terrible. There were spots where I couldn't see farther than 5 feet in front of me.
After I stopped to fill up my tank, the fog lifted and it was smooth sailing for the final 20 miles of the jump.

When we drove through the mist this morning, we must have hit a time warp and been transported to the 1930s Dust Bowl.
The lot in Roma is completely dirt. To make matters worse, there were high winds blowing from 35-55 miles per hour from the moment we arrived until the first show was half over.

Every time I opened my door, dirt and dust would blow in. It even came in the vents and got my bedroom and bathroom dirty!
Walking outside was a sure way to get your eyes, nose, and mouth full of flying dirt. There was just no escape from it.
I felt so bad for the crew guys putting up the tent. It must have been miserable!

By the afternoon, everything was covered in about an inch of filth. Here's a picture of the little clown car:


Christian used a leaf blower to clean it off before the act; very smart thinking!

Ryan and I wore our carpenter gag outfits for everything we did in the show. I didn't even attempt to wear my contacts, because I knew as soon as I went outside I would get dirt in my eyes.

At the first show we met a couple of families that said they come to the show every year to see us.
Here we are with Isabel:


She told us that her son, Carlos, always looks forward to seeing us. Unfortunately we didn't get a picture with him because Isabel's camera died right as we were posing.
Infernal technology!

In the second carpenter gag, I poked Ryan in the eye with my finger. I'm supposed to fake it, but my finger went right into his eye.
Ryan told me that the look on my face afterwards was priceless. I'm surprised he could tell with only one good eye.

The moral of the lesson is either:
a) I'm a very dangerous person to work with this year 
or
b) I should NEVER work without my contacts.

The second show was much more tolerable without the high winds. Hopefully our next two days will be better.

Monday, February 25, 2013

"Where Are The Other Two Clowns? The Ones That Were Performing Earlier."- Teenage Girl At Intermission

Sunday, February 24: Palmview, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

This morning I went over to visit with Rick Purdue and his wife. Rick is taking the pictures for the show's souvenir program; I saw some of the shots he has taken so far, and they are beautiful!
While we visited, we talked about the circuses we each saw during the winter.

While I was online getting pictures (seen in yesterday's blog post) from Mabelle Davison, she mentioned that she had to go make chocolate covered strawberries for company that was coming over.
I joked that she should send some to me, and then I got offline and went on with my day.

A little while later there was a knock on my door. I opened it, and John Moss was standing there with a plate of chocolate covered strawberries from Mabelle.
John had gone to the Davisons' house to pick up something, so Mabelle had sent the strawberries with him.
Hooray for begging and mooching!

Right before the first carpenter gag Christian was going to check the tire on the little car that had been flat yesterday.
He noticed that the rim, which is made of plastic, was broken. Since the act before us was finishing, Ryan and I quickly came up with an entrance without the car, as well as a way to get around the car bit we use in the middle of the gag.

It figures that we would have car trouble at the first show, when members of the Luna Bros. Circus were in the audience.
My friend, Ali, has been working with the show since January; it was good to see her again.
I met one of their clowns, 8 year old "Spaghetti". I tried to give him some encouraging words of inspiration; he said he's been clowning since he was 4.

Between shows Danny pulled a MacGyver and fixed the wheel of the little car. It was back in commission for the final two shows of the day.

Something was in my right eye today, and I finally had to take that contact out before the third show.
As if being blind in one eye wasn't bad enough, right before we started playing our trombones my slide fell off.
I had to quickly fix the problem with my bad depth perception before the song's introduction ended.
I made it just in time to play!

I have found that the second half of the tear down show is very hectic for me. Once it begins I don't stop until after finale.
I am looking forward to finding a better routine that will afford me a few moments to catch my breath on tear down night.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

"He Doesn't Sign The Coloring Books Does He? Who The Hell Is He?"- Man Talking About Pete, Who Sells The Books

Saturday, February 23: Palmview, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

Today I went over to visit with Nico, who was playing clown. He even had a mustache like Ryan is wearing currently.



We had a couple of technical difficulties during the first show. One of the tires on the clown car had a little leak, and so did the spray gimmick we use for the mouth.
Danny and Christian tackled the tire problem and had it resolved by the second show. Ryan and I did a quick fix on our mouth problem until we can get some Plumber's Goop.

During the last Intermission of the evening a family came up to get a picture with us. I saw that the father was wearing a Carolina Gamecocks shirt.
Back in South Carolina the big college football rivalry is between the Gamecocks and the Clemson Tigers.
I am a Clemson fan through and through, so after explaining that to the father, I apologized that I didn't think I could take a picture with his family.

Of course I was kidding, and after taking the picture I explained to them how the Carolina mascot, The Gamecock, tackled me one time and almost broke my wrist.
Anyone interested in hearing that story?

Speaking of Intermission, here are a few pictures from Friday night in Palmview. First, pictures of us with Pat and Mabelle Davison, who is once again modeling her great Steve & Ryan fan t-shirt:



And finally, here's a picture taken by Julio Rosales of me performing my new coloring book selling technique, the Pity Method, which has become very popular on the show, especially with Mr. North.



Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Cake Is A Lie

(Today's title is from a great video game I am playing called "Portal")

Friday, February 22: Palmview, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

This morning I went out to run a few errands. Namely I had to pick up duck food for Emmie, and there were a few essentials I needed from Walmart as well.

When I got back Ryan, Pete, and I unloaded the props from my truck, and then Ryan set about making the saw safe.
He cut off the piece of rubber tubing that busted his lip last week, so hopefully there will be no further hospital visits!

At noon we had practice time in the ring to run the carpenter gag. Mainly Ryan wanted to practice the part where he gets hit with the saw, but Pete also wanted us to run the gag so he could refresh his memory on the sound effects.
Mike and Marshall were there as well, and we ran the act once perfectly. It was like we never stopped doing it!

Ryan still has a bit of a scar from where his wound was, and he figured the clown white wouldn't cover it very well. Instead he painted a black mustache on his top lip.
I'll have a picture of this temporary look soon.

It was nice having Ryan back in the show with me, although doing the trombone gag with him took a little getting used to after doing it alone for a week.

The Davison family came back to see the show again tonight. I was glad they finally got to see the carpenter gag since the last two times they visited Ryan was out.

Friday, February 22, 2013

"Steve, Be Sure And Do A Good Job"- Little Boy As The Second Half Was Starting

Thursday, February 21: Palmview, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Miles: 32
Lot: LaHoma Rd & Veterans Blvd

Ramon came by this morning with a package for me and Ryan. We had it sent to his house since it would be much faster than waiting on mail from Hugo. Thanks for the special delivery, Ramon!

The package contained two new Steve & Ryan jumpsuits, one for Tatiana and one for Pete. Thank you to Katie Harmke for getting the jumpsuits embroidered, and many thanks as well to the members of the John Ringling North II/Steve & Ryan tent for footing the bill.
That was very generous and you didn't have to do it. Thank you guys and gals for everything you do for us!



In addition to the jumpsuits, Katie sent along a Valentine for Nico and a bag of salty oatmeal raisin cookies that are popular in Washington DC.
Ryan's not normally a cookie person, but he was having a love affair with these. I had to make him promise to share them with the rest of his family.

In the second show I spotted Rick Purdue and his wife in the audience. Rick is going to be with us for awhile taking photos for the program.
I can't wait to see his work. He always does an incredible job!

Ryan goes back into the show completely tomorrow, so tonight was my last time doing the chair gag.
I have had a lot of fun with the act, and the audiences seem to really enjoy it. Still, my body is rejoicing that it will get a break from sliding out of a metal folding chair for awhile.

Nico seems to be doing well. Naturally he hates taking his nasty tasting medicine, but in several days he should as good as new!
Thank you everyone for your well wishes!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"I Didn't Know Clowns Knew How To Write In Cursive! I Thought They Were Stupid!" -Little Girl At Intermission

Wednesday, February 20: Progreso, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

The wind was ridiculous today! It was blowing directly into the back door, so it was a chore keeping the curtains in place during show time.
Besides that, my trailer was rocking from the gusts all day.

Ryan called me this afternoon to let me know that Nico was being released from the hospital. The doctor told Ryan and Tatiana to keep him in the house for the next 5 days and to keep administering the antibiotics he needs.

Ryan also warned me to keep washing and disinfecting my hands since a stomach bug is now making its way around the show.
Could we please catch a break?
Huh?!

During the first Intermission a gentleman came by and told me that he reads the blog every day. I'm sorry I didn't think to get your name, sir; it was nice to see you.

During the second Intermission, a man maybe a few years younger than me came up to take a picture with me. Before he left, he leaned over and said, "Hey, I just wanted to tell you, you're a lot funnier than the Vasquez clowns."

Nothing like having your ego fed to end the evening on a high note!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Hang In There, Nico

Tuesday, February 19: Progreso, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Miles: 25
Lot: Next to performing arts center

The diagnosis for Nico is that he has a clostridium difficile infection as well as some kind of abnormal pneumonia.
Pete told me that he seemed to be feeling better and was in pretty good spirits, all things considered. Ryan later told me that he's understandably bored and doesn't want to be in the hospital, but he will have to stay there for a few days at least. Poor little guy.

I spent an hour this afternoon organizing my receipts from last year. I want to try and get my taxes done before the end of the month.

I was pleasantly surprised by the crowds tonight. After the first show I was about ready to give up on the filler material I am doing in the second half, but it went really well in the second performance, which restored my faith in the bit.

After the show there was a great BBQ with "Cousin Grumpy", and his son, Logan, visiting from Circus Vasquez.
I had a great time visiting with everyone, and the food was delicious and plentiful.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

One Thing After Another....

Monday, February 18: McAllen, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Today I treated myself to sushi for lunch. My eyes were way bigger than my stomach, so I ended up taking half of my order home with me to eat for dinner.

I ran by the post office to send some money home, but I forgot that they were closed for President's Day.
I had more luck at the RV store a few miles from the lot. I picked up a few things for my trailer, and then I swung by H.E.B for groceries.

This morning Ryan went to the doctor to have his stitches removed. After the wound scabs over in a couple more days, Ryan will be able to shave and put make up on again.

Since the wound on my nose is making me look like I'm suffering from leprosy, Ryan helped me convert one of my old clown noses into a string nose.
Hopefully the wound will be able to heal now that glue won't be irritating it.

Ryan called me shortly before the first show to tell me that he and Tatiana were at the hospital with Nico.
Since last night Nico had been very sick and couldn't keep anything down.
We just cannot catch a break this season.

The Davison family came back to the first show, but unfortunately I didn't get much of a chance to talk to them.

Throughout the evening I kept checking with Ryan, Pete, or Delena for updates on Nico. The doctors were testing him for appendicitis, but thankfully that was not what he had.
By the time I went to bed at midnight it was still not clear what was making Nico sick.

Monday, February 18, 2013

"PAYASO! NARIZ ROJO!" (CLOWN! RED NOSE!) -Little Girl At Intermission (Yelled Angrily For Some Reason)

Sunday, February 17: McAllen, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

I got my first full paycheck today (our first paycheck is always prorated since we start work late in the week). It felt wonderful to have money again!

My nose was looking pretty rough today. Yesterday I tried to be careful and not get glue on the wound when putting on my clown nose, but it was next to impossible since the raw spot is right in the middle of my nose.
Taking the glue off after the show really irritated the injury, so today I put some make up over it to keep people from barfing when they saw me.
Well, more than usual, anyway....

The wind was blowing like crazy today; despite that, the temperature was perfect. It wasn't too hot, and it wasn't as chilly as it was last night.

The standout show for me was the second one; the audience was fantastic!

After showering and taking my make up off this evening, my nose was still a gruesome sight, even though I was careful not to get too much glue on the wound.
Tomorrow I am going to make a string clown nose so I can let my real nose properly heal.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

"Can I Honk Your Horn?" -Little Boy At Intermission

Saturday, February 16: McAllen, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

I had good energy for today's three shows.

"Cousin Grumpy" and his son, Logan, were at the first show today. They are currently working with Circus Vasquez, which is just down the road from us.

At the second show David Dunn and his family came to see me. The Dunn family has been coming to Kelly Miller every year since we started playing the Rio Grande Valley, and every year I take a picture with his children.
Here I am with Jonathan and Joanna:


During the overture of the third show, a circuit breaker must have popped because there was a little power outage; however, only the sound was effected. 
The music stopped partway through the overture and there was a silence until the problem was solved.
Christian, Radar's groom, started clapping rhythmically until the whole tent was clapping along. He then started an impromptu Mexican hat dance between the ring and the back door which got the audience cheering.

Christian told me the story towards the end of the show, and he could barely contain his excitement and happiness. 
I think he'll be telling that story to his grandkids!

I experienced the whole ordeal with much different emotions. About five minutes before show time I went over to the back door to get my microphone.
Since I have about 10 minutes from the start of the show until the trombone gag, I decided that I had enough time to go back to my trailer and run to the bathroom.

After getting dressed I walked to the tent entrance. I suddenly noticed that there was no sound coming from the tent. I panicked because I thought I had missed the entire tiger act and I was late for my cue.

I jumped into the marquee entrance to see what was going on, and just then John Moss made his opening announcement.
I heaved a great sigh of relief and waited for my number to start.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

"I Love You, Steve" -Nicole

Friday, February 15: McAllen, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

My friend, Ramon, took me to Poncho's, a Mexican restaurant, for lunch today. Last year two of the DJs from the radio station, 107.9 MixFM, took me and Ryan there and I was blown away by the food.
This year was no exception; the fajita plate that we shared was amazing.
Thanks for the lunch, Ramon!

After I was dropped off back at the lot, I drove over to the laundromat. Today must have been the popular day to wash clothes as I saw several people from the circus over there.

Ryan was feeling better today, so in the afternoon we rehearsed the mouth chase with him playing the mouth and me playing the dentist.

Our friends, the Davison family, were at the first show. Pat, Marites, and Mabelle performed with us for awhile in the Valley in 2009 while we waited on a couple of acts to arrive.
Mabelle made a fan shirt for me and Ryan:
Dean & Jerry + Clown Makeup = Steve & Ryan



Mighty high praise; thank you Mabelle!

Thanks to my stupidity, Kelly Miller was almost down two clowns tonight. While I was waiting outside to do the chair gag, I decided to try a new bit.
The bit is that you grab the back of the chair with one hand, and when you pick it up quickly you hit the seat with your other hand close to your face. The resulting noise and recoil of your head gives the illusion that you just got popped in the face.
Well, when I tried it backstage, the seat folded up instead of staying flat, giving me little to no suraface area to hit with my hand.
The edge of the seat bashed me right into my clown nose, causing me to REALLY jerk my head back as tears welled up in my eyes.

As soon as I recovered I quickly felt my nose to see if it was broken. I lucked out because the bridge was just a little sore and I wasn't bleeding. Thank God for clown noses!

Still, I felt like this:


A little girl named Nicole came up with her parents to see me at Intermission of the first show. Her mom informed me that I had taken a picture with Nicole when she was 2 years old, and that photo was hanging in their living room. They come to see the show every year.
Nicole and I took another photo to go in the collection, and after the show she gave me a hug and a kiss on the cheek.
It was so darned cute!

Ryan and I did the mouth chase for both shows, and it went very well. It was fun getting to play the dentist role. Maybe later in the tour we'll switch back and forth just to break up the monotony a bit.

I rocked the second audience with the chair gag. It was such a great feeling; everything felt so natural and spot on.

During the second Intermission I noticed that Delena, who was painting faces across from me, kept looking over while she worked.
The reason was that a little boy wanted his face painted like me. After that his dad jumped on the Steve bandwagon too. What a honor!


"I'm seeing double. Eight Steves!"

Still, that's WAY more of me than the world should have to endure....

While we're on the subject of dopplegangers, here is Ryan and his double in Brownsville.


After the shows I took off my clown nose and noticed a shiny spot on the bridge of my real nose. When I whacked myself with the chair, I took a layer of skin off my nose!
That raw spot is going to feel great when I put glue on it tomorrow for our three show day!

Friday, February 15, 2013

"You Know You're Creepy When You Creep The Clown Out" -Woman At Intermission

Thursday, February 14: McAllen, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Miles: 71
Lot: 83rd and 29th St.

This morning I went over to see how Ryan was feeling. The doctor told him not to put make up over his stitches, and since they are right above his mouth, he will be out for four or five days until they are removed.
Clowns get a bad enough rap for being scary; "Stitches" the Clown wouldn't exactly be helping our image.

While the tent was going up I got together with John Moss, Mike, and Marshall about my solo spots in the show, and what I would need from them musically and announcement wise.
Luckily I didn't have to give the band any new music. The stuff we have on the computer fit my needs perfectly; I just needed a couple of new cues.

My friend, Ramon, came over this morning with some pan dulce from a local bakery. I reluctantly shared it with Radar and Ryan.

I walked over to the Barnes & Noble next to the lot to browse for awhile, and then when I returned I rehearsed my solo acts for the shows.

Ramon brought his wife and a few friends to the first performance. My solo material went well; I was able to do our normal trombone routine by myself, and then I did a chair gag in place of the carpenter gag. For the mouth chase I did some quick cigar box juggling.
Ryan said he will play the mouth tomorrow when he is feeling better.

Naturally, I was overly critical of my work, but people leaving the tent after the show were very complimentary and seemed happy.

During the second show I tweaked the chair gag some more, but it still needs work. The pacing is a little disjointed....nothing a weekend of six shows won't fix!

After the last show there was a rehearsal for finale and the production number. Mr. North wanted a few changes in finale, so we implemented those and ran the number a few times.
While we were waiting around, Ryan explained to me that he tried to stay away from people today because it hurt to smile and laugh.
Being the good friend that I am, I started cracking jokes to make him laugh and bust his stitches.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Keepin' 'Em In Stitches

Wednesday, February 13: Port Isabel, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

I was organizing a group of people from the show to go on a pirate cruise today, but high winds prevented us from going.
I was pretty bummed, but we'll have a chance to go again in a couple of weeks.

Fridman went to an RV shop today and picked up a new switch for my water pump. He installed it and everything works beautifully.
Thanks Fridman!

Ryan did some sewing on the big mouth today. Last night we noticed a couple of stitches that had come undone, so Ryan fixed them before they became big problems.

Our friend, Christy, came to the first show with her husband, Darren, and her in laws. Christy was a clown on Ringling back in the late 90s, and she is currently entertainment director of the pirate cruise we were going to take.
Unfortunately she saw a rough show for me and Ryan; we just couldn't seem to catch a break. especially in the carpenter gag.

On the plus side, I changed the battery in the spark gimmick we use for the power saw prop, and it made such a difference!

Christy and Darren came back for the second show to visit with us backstage. It turned out to be very fortuitous that they were there.

During the second carpenter gag Ryan and I were performing the final few bits of the act. I threw the power saw in the air, it bungeed into him, and he fell into the box.
The problem was that the saw was going to miss Ryan, so he tugged on the bungee attached to it. This caused the saw to change directions, and it hit him full force directly in the face.

Normally that wouldn't be much of a problem, because 99% of the prop is soft foam rubber. However, there is a tiny piece of rubber tubing sticking out of the back of the saw to allow bungee to go through it. The rubber tubing smashed into Ryan's mouth, cutting his upper lip.

I noticed something was wrong when I saw how Ryan fell into the box. It looked like he fell a lot harder than usual. I ran over and looked inside the box like normal, and I asked if he was ok.
He replied, "I can't come out of the box".

My first thought was that he was stuck because of the force behind his fall. I offered my hand to help him up, but he repeated, "I can't come out of the box."
That was when I noticed the blood coming from his upper lip and running down his chin.
I quickly grabbed the handkerchief from my back pocket and threw it to him (since Ryan coming out of the box is instrumental to the gag's blow off).
Ryan came out with the rag covering his mouth, and we muddled through the ending.

After finishing the gag I went over to Ryan's trailer to see how he was doing. He had a C shaped cut above his upper lip, and a flap of skin hanging open. (I hope none of you were eating)
Ryan said he was feeling faint, so Tatiana helped him over to the couch.

Luckily Christy and Darren were on hand to take Ryan to the hospital. Unfortunately they had to go back to Brownsville since it had the nearest medical facility.

As soon as I made sure Ryan was ok, I ran over to the back door and informed John Moss of the situation.
In place of the mouth chase I went out with my cigar boxes and covered for a couple of minutes while the prop change occurred.
I'm glad I brought them along this year!

The second half was especially hectic tonight between doing the show, getting everything packed up with Pete's help, and trying to get Ryan's antibiotic information to the doctor in Brownsville.

The good news is that Ryan is ok. He had to have stitches put in his lip, so he will be out of commission for a few days until they are taken out.
Thank goodness the rubber tubing didn't hit him an inch higher in the nose, or an inch lower in the teeth.
Many thanks to Christy and Darren for taking him to the hospital. Never a dull moment on the Kelly Miller Circus!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

BEEFCAKE!

Tuesday, February 12: Port Isabel, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Miles: 21
Lot: Laguna Madre Park

We hit some construction on this morning's jump, so traffic slowed to a crawl as we approached a road that had been narrowed down to one lane.
I couldn't believe how many people cut me off at the last second, swerving right in front of me (seemingly without a second thought), missing the front of my truck by a few scant inches.
Needless to say, my blood pressure was up by the time we got to the lot.

After I was parked, everything seemed to be going my way. I got my generator running, nothing had fallen over during my drive....everything was coming up Steven.
That all changed when I went to turn my water pump on. The switch was stuck in the off position, and I couldn't move it to save my life.

I called Fridman to tell him that I was once again without running water, and to nicely ask him to come take a look at it when he had the time.
When I went back into the bathroom to try the switch again, I noticed ants crawling out of the wall socket in my bathroom.
It was like something out of a horror movie!

After dealing with that problem, I went outside to stop my generator and hook up to show power. Some of the Rosales kids were hanging out between trailers, so I squeezed by them on my side.
Unfortunately one of my windows was open and I bashed the top of my head on it as I passed by.

I tell you, when it rains, it pours!

Luckily Fridman came over and diagnosed my problem. A plug for my water pump had worn out (as they are wont to do), so he rigged it up with little jumper cables so I could have running water until he can get a new plug from an RV place.
Thanks Fridman!

I walked into town to find a post office, and on the way I made a few phone calls and caught up with people.

Back at the lot, I ran into Elaine, who is writing a paper on Kelly Miller. Two years ago she interviewed a lot of folks from the show, but she said she didn't get a chance to talk to the clowns.
I gave her a short interview about how I got to this point in my life, and then I went about my daily routine.

Ryan went back to the doctor this afternoon because he was still feeling a little sick. He found out that the antibiotics he was given in Brownsville did nothing for him, and he still had a nasty ear and sinus infection.
He was put on stronger antibiotics and steroids.
That's right, steroids.
I hope this doesn't happen....


My friend, Amber, who works on the Black Dragon Pirate Cruise, came to the first show tonight with her son, mom, and another pirate from the ship.
It was nice to see her again, and her family had a good time.


The audiences tonight were fantastic, especially the second crowd. I was feeling crummy from all my mishaps this morning, but the shows really picked up my spirits. 
I love it when that happens!

There is a Walmart basically right next to the lot in Port Isabel. We have played here for three years, and tonight I JUST discovered that you can take a little path from the lot that puts you right in Wal Mart's parking lot.

I walked over after the shows to pick up a few necessities. While I was standing in line, there were some couples behind me that had been at the show. They were talking about how they had spent the night at the "carnival".




Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Wow, Thanks Mean Joe

Monday, February 11: Brownsville, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

This morning Ryan and I reworked the big mouth gag a little bit. Ryan wasn't happy with the blocking or the way it ended, so we put our heads together and came up with something better.
Ryan edited some new music, I gave the CD to Mike, and I talked Marshall through the new music cue.

There was a company meeting at noon to cover rules and regulations. Most everybody has been on the show before, but it's still important information.

The new blocking and ending for the big mouth worked out great. I was so proud of everyone involved for getting it perfect on the first try without any rehearsal.
Go team!

While we were signing coloring books at Intermission, a young lady came up to us with her nephew and asked if there was an ATM on the show.
We said the office might be able to help her out, but she said she'd just run across the street to the Walgreens.
As they were headed out of the tent, Ryan called after her jokingly, "Pick me up a Coke!"

Several minutes later, the woman returned and her nephew put two bottles of Coca Cola on our table. "He heard that you wanted a Coke", his aunt explained.
We were so pleased with the little boy's generosity that we bought a coloring book for him and wrote a nice message along with our signatures.
Yay, random acts of kindness!

Loading our props during the second show took a lot longer than it should have. We're going to have to figure out a better system.
I'm sure once we get a couple more tear downs under our belt we'll be much faster.

I celebrated the end of our run in Brownsville by having dinner at Buffalo Wild Wings one more time.
One town down, 200 and something towns to go!

Monday, February 11, 2013

"Hey Dude, You're Freaking Awesome!" - Little Boy

Sunday, February 10: Brownsville, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

Even though it was the second day of our first six pack (three shows Saturday and Sunday), I wasn't feeling too bad. I had a lot more energy than I did yesterday.

In the morning Ryan, Pete, and I went into the tent to work on the levels of our music and sound effects with Mike.
Unfortunately we didn't take into account how things would change with an audience in the tent, so we made a few more adjustments between the first two shows.

Ryan and I have taken to calling the little car "Christine", after the titular blood thirsty vehicle in Stephen King's novel.
Christine's hatred seems to be particularly geared (get it, cause it's a car!) towards Johnny Moss, who opens the curtain for us.
Ryan and I crack up every show because Christine's engine revs up noisily (and angrily) whenever Johnny walks into the backstage area.

The second show was a little weird, but I was happy that we closed the evening with a fantastic third show.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

"My Cousin Had Her Baby!" - Little Boy

Saturday, February 9: Brownsville, TX-3:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., and 8:30 p.m.

This morning after I got out of the shower, I saw a line of ants on my floor. I quickly got dressed and found their point of origin, which I doused with ant poison.
Here in the Valley is where a few trailers (including mine) were badly infested by ants last year, so I was determined to nip the problem in the bud before it got any worse.
I went around outside my trailer and sprayed poison where anything had contact with the ground.

This morning it showered a bit on and off, but the sky was clear by the evening.

In the second carpenter gag the little car wouldn't turn off once I had parked it. I checked all the switches before I got out, and when I had a free minute in the act I futzed with it some more.
Still the car just sat there idling.
Finally Christian ran into the ring to solve the problem. The switch that kills the motor came loose during one of our bumpy drives, so Christian had to pull some wires to stop it.
He later told me that he got the heck shocked out of him when he pulled the wires. I thanked him for not letting out a bloodcurdling scream or flopping around on the ground getting electrocuted.
That kind of thing could really be distracting!

The music and sound effect levels were a little wonky today, but Mike told us we'd test them tomorrow morning.

While we were signing coloring books during the three Intermissions we had several children tell us that they were our biggest fans.
It's a good thing they didn't all come up at once. That would have been kinda awkward. We would have had to pit them against each other in a game of wits to see who indeed was the biggest fan.

Many thanks to Thalia from Brownsville for sending in this picture of us with her daughter, who wanted her face painted like us.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Los Dientes

Friday, February 8: Brownsville, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

Last night while we were autographing coloring books, Ryan and I noticed that we were basically in the dark during Intermission.
Today we went out to Lowe's and picked up some work lights on tripods to solve that problem.

When we got back to the lot, Pete and I went to work assembling the lights. The only problem was finding an outlet to receive power. Luckily Armando came through and let us plug into the elephant semi.

We've been very lucky that the weather has been so nice for our shows. I'm not even talking about the lack of rain. It has been fantastic that it has been fairly cool every night; I just hope that continues for our six pack this weekend!

Both shows today went great, especially the second show.
I am getting a lot more comfortable working our big mouth prop.


The mouth chase is one of the longest running chases in Ringling history, and it has been done on many other circuses as well. Becky told me last night that it was even done on an ice show.
I saw the mouth chase done at my very first circus (Ringling's Blue Unit in 1989), and when I was on the Big Show I was lucky enough to play the mouth for two years (2004 and 2005).


Our mouth was a royal pain to make, but it gets a great reaction from the audience, and it is rewarding to carry on a classic of American clowning (even though our version is more of a stop gag than a chase).

Tatiana filmed the second carpenter gag for us so we could see how everything looked. I'm glad she got that show, because the gag went really well and the audience was great for it.

When she filmed the gag on her iPhone, she held the phone vertically, so the resulting movie was a lot taller than it was wide.
When I put the movie on a DVD and we played it on Ryan's TV, the results were hilarious!
The image had stretched out horizontally to fit the screen, so Ryan and I both looked like we were two feet tall.
In addition, any time one of us stuck our arms or legs out to the side, they would stretch an additional few feet.
Ryan, Pete, and I were laughing so hard that we were crying. We would be a lot funnier if our bodies could defy the laws of physics!

Friday, February 8, 2013

"You Smell Like A Cupcake!" - Little Boy

(A quick note: Any time an audience member says something funny or memorable while we're signing coloring books at Intermission, it is going to be the title of that day's blog post. I hope that clears up any confusion!)

Thursday, February 7: Brownsville, TX-6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.

An addendum to my last post:

During the show walk through on Wednesday, Tavo came over and told me that two people on the midway were looking for the clowns.
It turned out to be a married couple that had wedding photos taken in Brownsville last year. They came by with a beautiful book full of the photos, and they wanted me and Ryan to sign it since we were in many of the pictures.
I told them that they would have to come see the show to get Ryan's signature since he was sick in bed, but I was happy to sign the book for the them.

Also, that night Radar, Elisa, and I went to have sushi for dinner to celebrate our last free evening before the tour officially began.
On our walk back to the lot we noticed that a flock of birds was perched on the power lines where we would have to wait to cross the busy street.
In fact, it was almost exactly the same scenario as when we returned from sushi last year. As we were waiting then, a deluge of bird poop fell upon us.
I didn't feel like taking my chances this year (I was wearing a nice outfit), so I took us far out of the way to get back to the lot.
Take that you avian jerks!

Now, on to opening day.....

I was restless all day. I didn't want to sit down and relax, I just wanted to start our first two shows.
I cleaned off our props (Brownsville is a very dusty lot, so if anything stands still for more than a second, it instantly becomes filthy), and I made sure they were all set and ready for showtime.

I saw Ryan in the morning, and he informed me that he was feeling much better thanks to the antibiotics he received at the hospital.

After a day of waiting and fidgeting, I was relieved when 6:00 p.m. finally rolled around and the 75th Anniversary edition of the Kelly Miller Circus kicked off its 9 month tour.

Here is the show running order: (skip this part if you want to be surprised when you visit)

Tigers- Ryan (Holder) Easley
Trombones- Steve & Ryan
Chair Balancing- Fridman Torales
Zebras- Mike Rice
Peanut Pitch
Juggling- Raul Olivares
Carpenter Gag- Steve & Ryan
Tropical Fantasy Production:
     Fire Dance-Lamount
     Single Trapeze w/ Webs- Rebecca Ostroff and North Starlets
     Dance and Volcano- Lamount and Cast

Intermission

Hula Hoops- Patsy Rosales
Gauchos- Fusco Family
Big Mouth- Steve & Ryan
Llamas, Goats, and Dogs- Carolyn Rice
Head Balancing Trapeze- Gerard Rosales
Elephants- Armando Loyal and the North Starlets
Pinky- Raul Olivares
Perch Pole- The Rosales Family
Finale- Cast

Both shows ran almost exactly two hours including Intermission, but I believe it will tighten up and be a bit shorter as our Brownsville run continues.
There was no fire in the show because the lot here is too dry. You have no idea how nice it is to write that!

The tiger cage took quite awhile to take down, so Ryan and I really had to stretch our trombone gag. Between new people on the prop crew, a lack of a take down system, and a bigger arena and net, there were a few problems.
Once again, hopefully as our run here continues, things will smooth out.


The little clown car that the show bought for us is gas powered, and Christian, Radar's groom, helps us out by taking care of it and making sure it runs well.
The first show, he got it running more than an act before our cue. All I had to do was throw the clutch down and enter the tent.
As Raul was performing and Ryan and I were sitting in the car, I said to Ryan, "Watch, it's going to die at the last minute."
As soon as those words were out of my mouth, the car did just that. D'oh!

Just then, Johnny Moss threw open the curtain. We were on! We started yelling for Christian, so he ran over and gave us a push to get the car started again.
He pushed us to the curtain, and I threw the clutch down: nothing. We were just sitting there halfway into the tent looking like a couple of stupid deer in the headlights.
Christian pushed us the rest of the way into ring, so Ryan and I made the best of the situation and directed him as we sat in the car.
It actually got a nice laugh from the audience. I wish that I had had a carrot or some other treat to give him once he had pushed us into position.
After that rough start, the rest of the gag went fine, although I was feeling a little off my game.
To be honest, I felt off for the entire first performance. Oh well, I suppose there is nowhere to go but up!

The good news is that the second show went much better. The crowd seemed to have a lot more energy as well, which I'm sure helped things.

Between shows Christian diagnosed the problem with the car....it ran out of gas! Whooops!
At least we know we have a funny saver if the car doesn't run in the future. We just need a horse hitch on the front for Christian!


As we were waiting to go on for the second carpenter gag, Ryan asked, "What are we going to do if they ever don't open the ring up for us?"
Sure enough, when we entered the tent this time (without being pushed), the ringcurb was mostly closed, with just a tiny gap to fit through.
WE NEED TO STOP JOKING ABOUT WORST CASE SCENARIOS! 

One of the crew guys ran over and pulled the ring curb out of the way at the very last second, but I still clipped the edge of the curb with the front bumper.
I turned around and shook my fist at him, which got a big laugh from the audience. From then on the gag went smoothly and we got a lot of laughs.

After the show I joined a group for a celebratory dinner over at Buffalo Wild Wings. Unfortunately the service we received was terribly slow, even though there was next to no one in the restaurant.

In closing, here's the interview that Ryan and I did on Tuesday morning at the Fox station in McAllen. Thank you very much to our friend Rick in Michigan for finding this for me!

(I'm terrible at knowing which camera to look into)

Here's to a prosperous and fun circus season!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Final Day Of Rehearsals

There was a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms this morning, but they were a no show. It was just partly cloudy all day, which felt pretty darn good when the breeze was blowing.

Ryan and I had one rehearsal in the early afternoon. We just quickly ran through our main gag and our spot to cover the tiger cage take down.
I started driving the little car yesterday, and things have gone very smoothly. What I'm basically saying is that there haven't been any wrecks or near death experiences since I got behind the wheel.
Sorry, race fans.

After the rehearsal Ryan went to the doctor to see why he has been feeling so miserable for the past few days.
At first they thought he might have the flu, but it turned out to be congestion, strep throat, and an ear infection. Oh good, that's so much better!!!!

There was a show walk through at 5 p.m., and it lasted over three hours. It was very slow at times, occasionally grinding to a stand still, but it was a necessary evil to ensure that transitions go smoothly tomorrow for our first two shows.

I was happy and proud to say that all of our entrances, prop settings, and exits were no fuss, no muss. We knocked them out very quickly.
Ryan sat out the walk through to rest up for tomorrow, so I handled everything in his absence.

Well, tomorrow is the big day: the opening of the 2013 75th Anniversary season. You will see and hear very little from me in the next 24 hours.....
I will resume blogging on Friday, and then I will (hopefully) be posting every day from then on.
You all have been around long enough to know the drill! :o)

Good night, everybody. Onward and upward!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Second Day Of Rehearsals

Tuesday, February 5: Brownsville, TX

This morning I woke up at 6 a.m. to get into make up for our Univision TV PR. Even though our filming wasn't scheduled to begin until 9, we had to take into account the 55 mile drive to the station in McAllen, plus rush hour traffic.
We were advised to give ourselves an hour and a half for travel time.

Even though we were running about fifteen minutes late (Ryan's alarm didn't go off), we didn't encounter any heavy traffic, and we arrived about twenty minutes early.

In addition to ourselves, the Rosales family was on hand to promote the show.
Ryan and I filmed a quick lead in spot, and then we did a lengthy interview with Adriana, the weather woman. We finished up by filming an interview featuring all of us with Jessica, who we've seen for the past two years we've been in the Valley.
The last spot was totally in Spanish, so I just did a lot of smiling and nodding.

Here we are with Jessica, one of the hosts of the morning show "Alegre Despertar"....


and Adriana, the weather gal....


You know something? Sometimes it's good to be a clown.

If you live in the Rio Grande Valley, keep watching Univision 48 and Fox Rio 2 while we're in the area (about six weeks), since I believe the interviews will be aired on and off during that time. 
I'm going to keep a close eye on the web to see if I can't share them on here.

Before we left the studio, Jessica took me and Ryan over to the radio station 107.9 Mix FM to say hello to our friends, Alex and Meridee, who host the morning show.
Last year they did an amazing job of promoting the Kelly Miller Circus, and Ryan and I were even able to go to lunch with Alex.
Unfortunately he was in a meeting, but we did get to see Meridee, who promised we'd see both of them when the show gets to McAllen next weekend.

Ryan has been sick since we got down to Brownsville, so his first order of business when we got back to the lot was to take medicine and get some rest.

We had our first rehearsal scheduled for after lunch, and it went very well. 
We were off until after dinner, when the cast had a finale rehearsal. It went much better than yesterday.
We finished up by running our first and second half gags, which Elisa was nice enough to film for us.

Ryan and I are both very happy with our material this year. It was nice to be able to watch the acts afterwards to see what bits read well, what needed to be played bigger, and what needed to be fixed blocking wise.

After the rehearsal I joined Radar, Elisa, and Pete over at Buffalo Wild Wings to unwind. I wasn't going to go since I am trying to save money this year, but Radar said he'd buy me a beer if I went.
What a guy!

Monday, February 4, 2013

First Day Of Rehearsals

February, 4: Brownsville, TX

Rehearsals for the 75th Anniversary edition of the Kelly Miller Circus are underway!
The animal acts went into the tent early in the morning, and different acts were practicing on and off until after 9:00 p.m.

Nick Weber, a former Kelly Miller clown as well as owner of the Royal Lichtenstein Circus, is around in Brownsville as a creative consultant (please forgive me if I got that title wrong).

Ryan and I were able to get a head start on our first rehearsal period since the elephants finished early. We used the time to set the props for our main act in the ring so we could better figure out our blocking.

At 11:00 a.m. Marshall and Mike came in to help us with our music. This year we will have Marshall running our music, Mike drumming, and Pete running our sound effects.
It was neat hearing the drums during our acts; we've rarely had drum accompaniment because the drummer is usually running our sound effects.

During our two hour practice slot we ran all three of our numbers in the show, and we even finished fifteen minutes early.
It was a very productive rehearsal; we're the furthest along that we've been on the first day in the five years we've been with the show. Yay team!

After cleaning up (it was nice and hot in the tent, leaving us nice and sweaty) I went for a walk down to the mall to unwind and get out of the rehearsal mind frame.

Later in the afternoon we had a cast rehearsal for finale. There were a few rough spots and some confusion to start off with, but after running the number a few times, those problem areas were sorted out and/or re-chereographed.

After a brief break Ryan and I went back in for one more hour long practice session. We ran our gag that will happen while the tiger cage is being taken down, and we ran our main gag.

The circus bought a miniature car for us, and we are using it for the gag's entrance.
Here we are testing it out when it arrived late last season.

Since then Danny, Christian, and Radar have done a TON of work on it, and it looks beautiful.

The car has a gas engine, and it is fast. Very fast. You can't control the speed once you get going; you just have to hold on for dear life and steer.

The only place Ryan and I had driven it before tonight was around the winter quarters in Hugo. Let me tell you, a circus ring is a lot smaller than that.....

When we came hurtling into the ring for the first time, Ryan nearly crashed into the ring curb. He had to keep turning sharply to avoid a collision, and then when it came time to stop, he couldn't pull the proper lever because my leg was in the way (as you can see in the above picture, the fit in the truck is snug).
Since he had so little time to react due to the speed we were going, Ryan didn't think to tell me to move my leg. He just tried to move the lever anyway.
Meanwhile we were out of the ring and heading straight for the bandstand. Ryan jerked the wheel so that we were then on a collision course with the end of a seat wagon. One more turn of the wheel and we were headed towards a side pole at the back of the tent.
Both of us went into panic mode, and all rational thought left our brains. I stuck one leg out the side of the truck and tried to stop it a la the Flintstones. Unfortunately that only works in the cartoons, because we rammed right into the pole.

Luckily about that time Christian had grabbed the bed on the back of the truck and was able to keep us in one place. Ryan also suddenly remembered that there was a hand brake on his side of the car.
Man oh man, I wish someone had gotten that on video!

We tried our grand entrance two more times, and each time was progressively less terrifying.
Once we had a handle on it, we ran the gag all the way through with all the elements, including the Rosales child we are using in the blow off (who did perfectly by the way).

I was very happy with our first day of rehearsals....and with us cheating death and dismemberment. (For all concerned, the truck is fine. It has a nice sturdy bumper on it!)

Me, Ryan, and the Rosales family have to get up early early for a UNIVISION television PR in McAllen, so I suppose I better get some sleep.
See you tomorrow night!

Sunday, February 3, 2013

January 27-February 3: The Road To Brownsville

The final week in Hugo seemed to just fly by. For once Ryan and I were ahead of schedule, so we were able to rest on our laurels a bit.
The same could not be said for everyone else. The crew arrived from Mexico during the weekend, and starting on Monday the two winter quarters shops were bustling with activity from the morning until late at night.

Ryan and I snuck in to the paint shop a couple of times at night to rehearse the gags while Pete, Ryan's brother, practiced running our sound effects.

The majority of my time was spent getting my rig ready to hit the road. Two of the tires on my trailer (both on the rear axle), had slow leaks, so Castro switched them out with new tires while I took the old ones to be patched.
For the last half of the previous season, I would borrow John Moss's air compressor about once a week to fill the two tires back up. I'm sure we'll both enjoy me not having to do that this year.

I took my truck to Paris, TX to get the alignment that Castro suggested I get last summer. Hey, better late than never, right?
While I was there, I got two new tires put on the front of the vehicle.
(While writing this, I just realized that I spent about the same amount of money [over $400] on both my trip to the mechanic, and my trip to optometrist in Walterboro for contacts and new glasses. Damn my vanity! Wanting to ride in style AND look good while doing so!)

Aside from that I kept busy with little tasks like getting clothes and sheets washed, filling my propane tanks, and watching movies (that last one wasn't REALLY necessary, but I enjoyed it).

Finally the big day arrived, Friday the 1st of February. I was up bright and early, and I was the first to leave Winter Quarters around 7:20 a.m.

I drove straight through to our "halfway" point in Sheperd, TX, about 290 miles; I only stopped once to fill up my gas tank.
I was lucky enough to score a primo parking space right by the lot's entrance. I was also lucky enough to plug my trailer into city power. Yahoo!

We usually stop in Cleveland, TX on the way to Brownsville, but this year a rodeo was going on in the fairgrounds where we would normally park. (Last year that same rodeo came in and kicked us out around 4 a.m.)

While relaxing in my trailer, I thought I should go ahead and fill up a bucket of water for Emmie so he'd have something to drink and swim and poop in when we got to Brownsville.
I flipped on the switch for the pump, turned on my shower, and nothing but a trickle of water and some air came out.

I turned the pump off and then on again and tried once more. Nothing.
I then decided to step outside and investigate the pump. As I rounded the back of my trailer, I heard water splashing down on the ground. I looked and saw that it was pouring from under my trailer!

I quickly ran back inside and shut off the pump. The first thing I did was call Fridman, but he was still 100 miles away from Shepherd.
Fridman wondered if my pipes had frozen and burst (it was a balmy 27 degrees Fahrenheit when I left Hugo), but I told him that I had showered, done dishes, and filled up my tank before I left.

Regardless, I had to resign myself to no running water until Sunday morning at the earliest.

On Saturday morning I got up and left the lot in Shepherd by 6:00 a.m. Once again I made great time, only stopping for fuel, and I finished my 412 mile drive to Brownsville shortly after 1:00 p.m.

Apparently the weather has been beautiful in the Valley, so the lot was nice and dry.
Now there is a small chance for showers this weekend, but we'll burn that bridge when we get to it.

What?

Oh, cross! We'll cross that bridge when we get to it!

I was feeling pretty nasty after going over a day without a shower, so as soon as water was hooked up at the lot, I took a good ol' bucket bath.
It took me right back to my first year on the show when Ryan and I were living in the generator truck.



Now, where's my barf bag?

Luckily, everyone that departed from Hugo made it to Brownsville safely.


On Sunday Ryan, Pete, and I unloaded the props and put them in the tent once it was raised. The rest of the day and into the evening, the inside of the tent was used for setting up the new LED lights. Fancy!

Fridman came over in the afternoon to look at my water situation. Good thing too; I was tired of washing dishes with a bucket of water!

He quickly diagnosed the problem as a loose connection to the water heater. After a couple of trips to Lowe's and Home Depot, he was able to take the water heater out, make sure there was no damage to it, fix the connection, re-install it, and voila! I was living like a first world citizen again!
Muchas gracias, Fridman!

Tomorrow we begin rehearsals for the 2013 show (and I begin blogging regularly again). See you tomorrow night!