Saturday, May 31, 2014

Monday, May 26-Thursday, May 29: Houston, TX


5/26/14- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon Marcos and Julius Espana, Jan, Alexa and Carolina Vazquez, and I caught a ride with Mario to the Houston Convention Center to attend Comicpalooza.

It was a smaller event than the Dallas Comic Con, which was reflected in the ticket price, but it was nice not to feel so crowded like I did at last weekend's convention.

One major difference that I noticed between the two cons was this one had a lot more artists selling prints of their work. In Dallas the artists were in the minority while vendors of other merchandise had the most booths.

I started out my exploration of Comicpalooza over in the autograph area. I saw several celebrities, including Lou Ferrigno, TV's The Incredible Hulk, a few of the Power Rangers and a few of the men who have played Dr. Who throughout the years.
I was most excited by the presence of Jason Mewes, better known as Jay from the team Jay & Silent Bob in such films as "Clerks", "Mallrats", "Chasing Amy", "Dogma", etc.

The line to meet Jason was very short, but I figured it would be too expensive to get an autograph and a photo with him.

I started walking up and down the aisles of vendors, but my brain kept nagging at me to go back and see how much it would cost to meet him.
Finally I relented and went to stand in line at Jason's table. I heard the folks in front of me talking, and I found out that it was only $20 for an autographed picture and a photo with Jason.
Considering I am a fan of his work, that seemed like a heck of a bargain to me!

I only had to wait a few minutes, and then I went up to get my photo and autograph. Jason was very nice, and I didn't feel rushed at all with our meeting.
I didn't want to come off as a babbling fan, so I simply told him that I always enjoy his work.




The only other celebrity in attendance who I would have liked to have met was Cary Elwes, who played Wesley in "The Princess Bride". Unfortunately, the line to meet him was ridiculously long.

While walking around and exploring, I ran into my friend, Ronald McDonald!

Of course I know him! It's a clown thing.

Ronald was even nice enough to let me pose in his awesome shoe car!




Later on I saw a very rare sight: Grimace, Birdie and the Hamburglar all hanging out with Ronald. The three of them almost never make an appearance, so I made sure to get a photo with the McDonald's gang.


There was a whole section of the con devoted to robotics and inventions, and we got to see a 3D printer in action.
The printer lays down plastic layer by layer to create seamless, three dimensional objects. It was amazing!

Here are a few more shots from Comicpalooza:








It started raining during our time at the Convention Center (there was even a tornado warning!), and it continued to pour until showtime.

We spent the show feeling wet, sticky, and generally disgusting. The humidity was killer! The velcro on Ryan's tear away jumpsuit did not want to stay stuck together, so his pants almost came off prematurely in the vacuum gag.

Since it was raining, and outside the tent (and under one side of the bleachers) had become a lake, Ryan and I had to take a long walk under the bleachers on the dry side of the tent to make our entrance through the seats for the vacuum gag.

Despite the headaches, the audience for the show was really good, which was quite surprising considering crowds are usually more reserved during bad weather performances.

After the show I went by Ryan's trailer to have a piece of birthday cake for his mother's belated birthday party. She is leaving in the morning, so I made sure to say goodbye as well.


5/27/14- 7:30 p.m.

Today was another rainy day. I decided to just stay indoors to watch movies and play video games.

The parents of Jermiah, Christian, and Daniel Cook from Kelly Miller came to see the show this evening.


There is a company sponsoring Vazquez's Houston engagement, and every Intermission they hold a raffle. Mr. and Mrs. Cook entered and won $200!
I told Ryan that we should have said we rigged it for them to win, and then we could have asked for a cut.

Our clown friends Luigi, Silvia, and their son also were in the audience for tonight's performance.


I would have liked to have visited with them, but after work David Confal, who performs the diabolo act in the show, his girlfriend, Maria, and I jumped in my truck and raced to the nearest movie theater to catch a showing of "X-Men: Days Of Future Past".
The movie was a lot of fun, but the film started at 10:30 p.m., and it was almost 2 1/2 hours long, so we were all nodding off by the end.

The movie theater was gorgeous, and there were a lot of nice restaurants and shops in the same area, so I will have to visit it again when I am more awake.


5/28/14- 7:30 p.m.

Today started off rainy, but then the sun came out by the afternoon to give us the lovely gift of heat to go with the ever present humidity.
I spent another lazy day at home, praying that my air conditioner would stop popping its breaker.

On to tonight's performance:
Ryan and I spent the first minute and a half of the water gag in the seats while the motorcycle rigging comes down.
Tonight, the motor that lowers the bike popped its breaker (there's a lot of that going around), and Martin had to race outside to reset it.

Due to the delay, the bike wasn't completely down by the time Ryan and I were ready to start our gag.
Luckily there was a man with a tub of popcorn sitting front and center, so we had a prop to play with while we stretched and waited for the motorcycle to be out of the ring.

Luckily we didn't have to improvise for too long, and if I can get indulge in a moment of back patting (when do I not?), I don't think the audience was any the wiser that something had gone awry.

Unfortunately after that things kept happening that bugged me more and more, so I ended the show quite irate.

I was able to cool down and blow off some steam at a birthday party for Govian, who a member of the Espana family, and just recently joined the show.
Not content to simply shove his actual cake in his face, the Espana men also pelted Govian with eggs and flour, two of the ingredients of cake, while he was sitting and talking with folks.



Remind me to not tell the Espana family when my birthday is....


5/29/14- 7:30 p.m.

Today I drove to Webster, a city south of Houston, to check out their Half Price Books.
Other than that, the only thing I did today was watch the film, "The Usual Suspects", with Ryan.

My trailer and the show's bunkhouses are on the same breakers in one of the power boxes, and there was some kind of issue this afternoon that shut our power off about an hour before the show.
Because of that, I wasn't in a very good mood for the start of the show, but a little boy in the audience made me laugh and lifted my spirits.
When I was exiting from the water gag, the boy ran up and gave me a big hug, forgetting that I had just gotten soaking wet. He pulled away after that realization set in, he looked down at himself, and then he let out a long, drawn out, "yuuuuuuuuuuck".
It was very funny!

Our local clown friends, Stephen and Sarah, watched the show tonight, and after it was over they treated me to dinner at Chacho's, a 24 hour Mexican restaurant near the lot.
It was similar to Taco Cabana, but I thought the food was much better.

Us with Sarah

Monday, May 26, 2014

Friday, May 23-Sunday, May 25: Houston, TX


5/23/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning Ryan and I were picked up at 9:00 a.m. for our radio publicity. After a stop by the hotel to pick up the dancers, we were on our way to the event.

If Hector's taking the selfie, WHO'S DRIVING!?!

Raul Brindis, who is a famous radio personality in the Houston area, was hosting an event where locals were going to make a Human Hashtag that would then be captured via aerial photography.


The event was happening outside, and it was very humid. All of us stood around sweating profusely and taking pictures with people.
Memo came by and did an interview on the radio to promote our Houston run while me, Ryan, and the dancers stood in front of the broadcasting area looking colorful and sweating some more.

All of us with Hector, the assistant manager, and Vivian, our PR coordinator

Back at the lot Ryan and I hosed off and then took our props into the tent. This week's load in was a lot easier for us since our trailers are parked in the back yard for the first time since Donna.
My trailer is a few yards from the back door, which I am going to love during the shows.

Ryan's mom is in town for the weekend to visit. Today when I went over to Ryan's trailer I saw that everyone was sporting new hairdos complements of Lee, who makes her living as a stylist.

Since we have made some changes to the vacuum gag since we put it into the show in Brownsville, Ryan and I spent the afternoon adding some new sound effects to our Instant Replay machine to better accent what we are doing.

Ryan and I had to get ready a little earlier than usual for the shows because we had another publicity at 5 p.m. This one was a live television broadcast with Memo talking and us creating mayhem in the background.

Raul Brindis was our special guest for the shows tonight. He brought along his sidekick, a little kid character named Pepito, who was portrayed by a man in a big head costume.


Just for my own (and Ryan's) amusement, I decided that my character's motivation was that Pepito was my sworn enemy, so every time I saw him during the shows my expression would change to one of pure loathing.
Whatever gets me through the nights, right?

We had big crowds for our opening night shows, and the second audience was fantastic!
The new sound effects in the vacuum gag worked great, and Teo, pro that he is, nailed them with no prior rehearsal, just a pre show talk through with me.

After the shows the Espana family had a barbecue for Marcos, who celebrated his 15th birthday yesterday. Martin made a huge bowl of delicious guacamole, and we had sausage sandwiches with chimichurri (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chimichurri). Delicious!


5/24/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

I took it easy today, but unfortunately I couldn't relax very well since my air conditioner kept popping a breaker. Needless to say it was a very sweaty day in La Casa De Copeland.
I was talking to Klaus, the horse trainer, during the shows, and he was saying that the city power that we are plugged into here in Houston (we are plugged into city power because the Vazquez brothers own this lot) is lower than the power we are usually plugged into.
He is having the same problem with his air conditioning; it will run for about 10 minutes and then pop the breaker.
Mine is very hit or miss in this town. It'll either run all day or keep popping the breaker until later in the evening.
Wheeeeee!

We had more great audiences for the shows tonight. Carmelo gave us a nice new bit to use in the water gag, which I implemented into the second show.
We changed the bit just a little to better fit into what we were doing, and it turned out to work perfectly since it goes hand in hand with something we were already doing in the act.
I love it when comedy comes together like that!

While Trio Bellissimo is performing, Ryan and I always walk up the ramp leading from the concessions area into the seats to pick out a guy to harass at the beginning of the vacuum gag.
Tonight Ryan and I both spotted a guy and pointed to him at the exact same moment.
The man just happened to look over at us as we were pointing, and as we were waiting in the concessions area for our gag to start, Ryan and I were laughing about how scary the whole thing must have been from the man's point of view.
Imagine you're watching the circus, and you just happen to glance over and see two clowns, in the dark, wearing orange, prison style jumpsuits pointing at you with blank expressions, and then walking away.
I wouldn't sleep for weeks!

The audience really lost its enthusiasm as the second half of the 9:00 p.m. show went on. It was a shame, because until that point they were really fantastic.


5/25/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

It was a very hot and humid day, and the tent's air conditioner had a hard time keeping up. I saw a lot of folks in the first two audiences fanning themselves.

During the first show I could feel something was wrong with the little car as we circled the ring at the start of the carpenter gag.
Backstage Ryan and I investigated and saw that the back passenger tire was flat. We have a spare tire mounted on the back of the car, so Ryan took the inner tube out of that one and replaced the tube that had a hole in it.

Unfortunately, at the end of the show I noticed that the tire was still flat; the replacement tube also had a leak!
I threw on my jumpsuit, jumped into my truck, and sped over to Walmart, which was luckily just down the road from the lot.
I always hate going places in make up when I'm not performing, and people were certainly giving me funny looks as I raced down the aisles looking for the bike department.

I picked up two new inner tubes and sped back to the circus. Ryan and I got the tire fixed just in time for the second show.
At first I was upset that I lost my rest break in between shows, but I was happy that we got the problem taken care of.

Like I said, the tire was in perfect working condition for the second carpenter gag, but when I threw down the clutch to make our entrance into the ring, the belt slipped off and we didn't move!
I had to jump out and push Ryan and the car around the ring to start the gag.
Luckily the belt and tire gave us no further trouble for the third show.

We did great business today, but the heat and humidity really drained us and made it difficult to give our all in the shows. Every show both of us were about to nod off by the time the vacuum gag came around, which is our most difficult spot in the show anyway.

Thus endeth weeketh 1eth in Houston....eth.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Monday, May 19-Thursday, May 22: Houston, TX


5/19/14- Travel Day To Houston, TX

I was blocked in by a trailer, so I wasn't able to leave Dallas today until it was moved. Once I could get my truck close to my trailer hitch, I was going to have Tatiana help me install my new sway bars to stabilize my trailer as I haul it down the road.
Unfortunately, I found out that I have to drill a few new holes in the bars coming out of the front of my trailer before I can install the saddles that the sway bars attach to.
We were able to get the new hitch attached to my truck; it is almost identical to my old one, but this one has the sleeves the sway bars fit into. Visan and Marcos Espana were nice enough to lend us their tools and know how to help take off my old truck hitch and install the new one.

Ryan and I hit the road around 3 p.m. About halfway through the 250 mile trip to Houston, I heard a loud pop.
I looked in the rearview mirror, but I couldn't see my trailer behaving erratically. Just then Ryan called to let me know I had popped a tire, so I pulled over on the side of the road and investigated.
I had indeed popped a tire, the back one on my trailer's passenger side. I called Good Sam to have someone come change it, and Ryan and Tatiana headed on while I played the waiting game.

I know that you're supposed to stay away from your vehicle while you wait for roadside assistance, but there was no shade where I was waiting, and it was going to be at least an hour before someone could help me, so I threw caution to the wind and got into my truck where at least I could stay cool.

Two local mechanics showed up after about an hour, and they got my tires switched out in no time. Luckily there were no further complications on the jump, and I caught up with Ryan at a Flying J truck stop about 20 miles from the lot.
Even though I didn't have my sway bars for the jump, I had very little difficulty keeping my rig under control. I still had some rough moments, but nothing as white knuckle as the jumps into Fort Worth or Dallas.
Once I get my sway bars completely installed, I should be on easy street!

We arrived at the lot in Houston around 9 p.m., and after a short wait we were both parked. After setting up my house, I walked around the surrounding area awhile to get my bearings.
We are on Vazquez owned property in this town, and we are located right next door to a big Fiesta supermarket, which I'm sure will come in handy during our six week stand.


5/20/14- Day Off!

Houston is well known for having great kolaches (http://www.kolachefactory.com/menu), so this morning I set out to find some.
I didn't feel like driving all the way downtown to visit a Kolache Factory, so I looked for a nearby donut shop.
They didn't have nearly the variety of a K.F, but the kolaches I got were delicious none the less!

I went out with Ryan and his family today, but we didn't really do anything super exiting. We just bummed around the Webster area, which is about 30 minutes south east of our location.

Tonight our friends, Luigi and Silvia, came over with their son for a visit. Luigi and Silvia were both clowns on Ringling's Blue Unit the tour after I left the show, and we got to know them well during our time with Kelly Miller.
They just moved to Houston recently, so we are happy that we will get to see them often during our time here.

We had a barbecue outside Ryan's trailer, and we were joined by Enrique, the show's lighting director, and his family.
The food was amazing (and Argentinean!), and I got to practice my Spanish comprehension since that  was the main language being spoken.




5/21/14- Day Off!

Today was another low key day off. Ryan and I walked next door to the Sherman Williams to buy paint, and then Ryan touched up the dinged corner of the water box and practiced his lettering and sign painting skills.

In the evening we drove up north to meet with Alex Barney, another of our Ringling clown friends who just moved to town.
We went out to eat, and we laughed over the many stories shared, some of which were even true!


5/22/14- Day Off (Kind Of)!

Ryan and I had an early start this morning; we were both up at 4 a.m. to get into make up and costume for a 5:00 a.m. pick up.
We were taken to a UNIVISION  TV station to promote our upcoming shows.

We were joined by our ringmaster, Memo, and as you can see, we were all thrilled to be on television so early in the morning.


Luckily everyone at the station was very professional and friendly, unlike a certain station the show dealt with in the DFW area.

We only did a few teases and an interview, and we were making the people in the studio laugh, so I guess we did alright!


Memo gave us a ride back to the circus in his Porsche, which is my new preferred method of travel to and from publicities!

After cleaning up, I braved rush hour traffic and drove downtown to visit a Kolache Factory; the kolaches were delicious! I can't wait to spend lots of money there during my time in Houston!

Today was another low key day off for me. I visited a little burger shack called The Hubcab Grill, which I spotted on an online list of 38 Places To Eat In Houston.


I partook of the Sticky Monkey Burger, which was a cheeseburger with bacon, bananas, peanut butter, and monkey meat.
Just kidding, it was goat meat.
Just kidding.
Or am I?

I tried to go to a few places downtown this afternoon, but everywhere I wanted to go only had parking space in a garage, which wasn't going to happen with my big, tall, stupid, Snoopy's dog house lookin' truck.

My clown friends, Stephen and Sarah, were in the neighborhood of the circus this evening, so they came by to take me to dinner.
They have been living in Houston for the past two years, but around the time we're heading out of town, they are moving to Arizona.

Stephen and Sarah took me to an awesome sushi restaurant called Blue Fish. The three of us split five different rolls, and they were all delicious.

Even though I didn't do anything touristy on my three days off in Houston, I really enjoyed spending some quality time with friends and eating some amazing food!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Wednesday, May 14-Sunday, May 18: Dallas, TX


5/14/14- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I drove by the show hotel to pick up Helen, Georgie, and Laura for our weekly US/UK assimilation session.
First I introduced them to the wonders of a tasty country breakfast at Cracker Barrel, and then we visited a Half Price Books.
When I walked in, I recognized the store as being the first HPB location I visited 9 years ago on Ringling.
Now that I'm a much more seasoned Half Price connoisseur, I can say that the store we visited is the biggest one I have ever seen.

I found some great books, including two circus titles: "The Ordinary Acrobat" by Duncan Wall and "The American Circus", which is a companion piece to the exhibit that was on display at the Bard Museum in NYC.


We had another good audience for the show tonight. After its conclusion, the band practiced the music for our water gag, which is our theme song written as a tarantella.
Ryan and I stayed after the show for a bit so we could hear them rehearse; it was very exciting to hear our music played live!


5/15/14- 7:30 p.m.

Today I joined Ryan and his family for some time out on the town. We started off by going to a sign painting shop where Ryan picked up three brushes for $40!
After many winter time brain picking sessions with circus sign painter extraordinaire, Bobby Rawls, Ryan learned that half the battle is having good brushes, hence the high price.

We next went to lunch at Cafe Brazil, which has locations all over Dallas. We had food, which was good, but not particularly Brazilian, and I had coffee, which was self serve. The waitress gave me a cup, and then I had seven different coffee blends to choose from with unlimited refills. That part I definitely liked!

After lunch we headed over to the Galleria Mall where we went ice skating. I hadn't skated in 11 years, so I was a little nervous; luckily I took to the ice like a duck takes to water.
It was like I was born to be a figure skater. I was like an ugly Nancy Kerrigan.....or a pretty Tonya Harding.

Until Nico whacked me in the shin with a metal pipe

It was Nico's first time on the ice, and he greatly enjoyed it. He took turns skating with either his mom and dad or his crazy uncle Steve.


Our friends, Rich and Carol, came to watch the show tonight. Carol is the daughter of Dudley, the Kelly Miller WQ caretaker, and Rich is her husband.
They brought us some cookies as a free roll, and I enjoyed catching up with them before I had to go to work.

We had another good crowd tonight, and Ryan and I were especially excited because the band played our music for the water gag for the first time.
We had sheet music written for the original composition (done by the amazing Larry Lee), and we've wanted the band to play for the water gag since we began rehearsals in Donna. The matter always got pushed aside and pushed aside, but Ryan was very persistent and it finally paid off.
The band sounded great, and having them backing us definitely gave the act some balls. (Pardon my non French. Les balls. Is that better?)

After the show I went out to eat with my friend, Crystal. We went to Buzzbrews, where Teo and I had eaten a few nights ago. It was just as good the second time, and I enjoyed hearing Crystal's thoughts on the show.


5/16/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

I was planning to just relax at home today, but Ryan invited me to join him and his family for another day out on the town.
We didn't do anything special; we only went out to eat and to go shopping, but it was nice.

There was a fantastic audience for the second show this evening, but halfway through the second half I could hear a decline in their enthusiasm. By finale the crowd seemed worn out; it must have been past their bedtime.

Teo and his childhood friend, Gabriel, came over to my house tonight to watch a movie. We watched the 1966 Batman film starring Adam West as the caped crusader.
I had forgotten how hilarious the movie is (both intentionally and unintentionally), and it was a good flick to get us in the mood for our plans for Saturday.


5/17/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Teo, Gabriel, Carmelo, and his wife and son all came by the lot this morning in Teo's car to pick me up. Once we were all together, we drove to downtown Dallas to the convention center to attend Comic Con!
Comic Con is a huge convention focusing on comics (naturally), Sci-Fi and Horror film/TV, and all kinds of nerdy goodness.

We found parking without too much of a hassle (which was my main concern), and we walked into the convention center just as it was opening.
There were a ton of people waiting to get in and buy tickets, but as the day went on, the crowd became larger and larger.

All the main action was taking place in one cavernous exhibition hall, which was set up with vendors in the center, as far as the eye could see.
I walked up and down the aisles, perusing the wares, and it was a definite blast of nostalgia. I saw many toys that I either owned or remember seeing from my childhood.
I made one purchase: 10 packs of "Gremlins 2" trading cards at a buck a pack. The nice man selling them even threw in a pack of trading cards from the first "Gremlins" film.

At one end of the hall was an area where many film stars and cartoon voice actors were seated at tables to sign autographs.
There were many celebrities there, including Robert Englund, who played Freddy Krueger in the "Nightmare on Elm Street" series, cast members from the zombie TV show, "The Walking Dead", Alice Cooper, Judge Reinhold from "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", Christopher Lloyd from "Back to the Future", and many more!

I would have loved to have met Robert Englund, Christopher Llyod, and the Walking Dead cast members, but when I found out that it cost $60 bucks to get an autograph from Mr. Llyod, I decided to simply star gaze from a distance.

One of the best parts of Comic Con is seeing all the cosplayers, people who go all out to dress up as their favorite comic/TV/movie character.
I saw some great costumes (no Slave Leias though), but I think the real heavy hitters began to show up later in the day.
Here are some of the ones I photographed:









The whole experience was a bit overwhelming, but now I know how Comic Cons work more or less. The NY Comic Con is going on while we're in the city, so I will be able to make a better plan to maximize my time and see even more, like celebrity panels and Q & A sessions.

We had two full houses tonight at the show, and the audiences were fantastic. All in all, today was a great day!


5/18/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning I began getting everything ready for our jump to Houston. I fueled up my truck and filled my gas can, I checked my truck's oil, filled my trailer's water tank, began organizing my trailer's storage area, etc.

My face was feeling very dry after my pre show shave and shower, so I slathered on some lotion and headed over to the tent to get made up.
After the first show's water gag, Ryan saw me in the dressing room and exclaimed, "Your make up is ruined!"
I looked in the mirror, and sure enough my white mouth was almost completely gone. I looked sort of like Jack Nicholson in "Batman" when he gets water thrown in his face.

Except worse

I quickly touched up my white before the next gag, and I learned a valuable lesson: moisturizer, clown white, and saliva infused water do not mix well on hot and humid days.

Manny Casalino, who was a clown on Cole Bros. in the late 90s, was at the first show with his family, so we visited with them after our photo concession.
Unfortunately we couldn't visit for long because last night the stage crew asked if we could clean our water mat on stage rather than on the pavement backstage. The mat was dragging dirt and rocks into the ring from our backstage cleanings.

It was a pain cleaning the mat by the curtain (we couldn't do it in the ring because the stage crew had to immediately set the ring for the next show), but we made it happen.

The second show put both me and Ryan in a bad mood. Little things just kept happening to tick us off, and even the audience were behaving like jerks towards us.
Due to the large crowd (all three shows today were packed), the second show ran a little longer than usual. That, added with our between show mat cleaning left us with virtually no time between the last two shows, which made our moods even worse.

Luckily Georgie gave a fantastic motivational speech/poem before the third show (I am now trading off with the dancers every week as to who gives the speech) that immediately put us in better spirits. 
On top of that, the third audience was amazing! I was so happy that we had friends in the audience to see the final show.
Dick Monday and Tiffany Riley, who were in charge of Ringling's Clown College, their children Chet and Lilly, and Jay Stewart, who was a Ringling clown in the early 90's and again in the early 2000's, all came to the last show, and we got to visit with them afterwards.
I would have loved to have talked shop with them much longer, but Ryan and I had to get our props out of the tent and into our trailers.

Load out for us took a lot longer than usual, because in addition to our clown friends that visited, we also saw our friend, Jasmin, who we worked with on Ringling 10 years ago. 
She and her mother were by the trailers selling all the show ladies fishnets, rhinestones and other costuming accouterments. 
It was really nice to catch up with her, because we saw her for only a moment during our run in Fort Worth.

Dallas was a lot of fun, and business was fantastic, but I am looking forward to settling in a bit during our six week stay in Houston.
"Allons-y!"

The billboard should help you see in what kind of area we were set up

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday, May 5-Tuesday, May 13: Dallas, TX


5/9/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Today as I was walking to the tent to scout out our route for taking the props over, Julio was nice enough to let me know about an opening in the chain link fence surrounding the tent. The opening was conveniently located right by the back door, which saved me and Ryan the hassle of squeezing our props past the still unloading semis parked on the side of the tent.

We put most of the props in the back of my truck and dove them to the hole in the fence; the only prop we had to push over was the carpenter box.

After getting all our props set up backstage, Ryan and I had our weekly business meeting. This week we focused on redesigning our website.

Later in the day I was walking around the tent when I realized that they had fixed the hole in the fence by the back door. I'm really glad we took our props over when we did!

Today was incredibly hot and humid, and the air conditioning wasn't working until the second show. Needless to say, it was sweat city backstage during the 6:00 p.m. performance.

I was feeling a strange vibe from the audiences tonight, mainly whenever Ryan and I spent time in the audience. I'm hoping it was just a one night thing and the crowds loosen up a bit for the rest of our run.


5/10/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

I woke up early this morning to join Ryan and his family on a trip to Waxahachie, TX (about 45 minutes south of our location) to attend the Scarborough Faire Renaissance Festival.
This was my first Ren Faire, so I was very excited about going.

We arrived about 10 minutes before the gates opened, and there was a huge crowd waiting to get in.
Once we got inside the gates we began exploring the Faire. My first stop was the haunted castle; I was impressed by how big it was on the inside. A lot of times it was so dark that I had to feel along the walls to find my way out.
The premise of the castle was to teach about different ways people were tortured back in the olden days. There were dioramas with mannequins and props showcasing the different techniques in each different room, but my favorite display centered around the electric chair (they had electricity back then?!) and featured two live actors.
When I entered that room, the guy pulling the switch was chatting up the girl strapped to the chair. When they saw me the guy quickly pulled his mask down over his face and then proceeded to start the electric chair.
Well, after an awkward minute of waiting I realized that they couldn't get the electric chair gimmick to work, so I walked out.
A couple of rooms later I heard the electric chair finally go off, and when I turned back in that direction, one of the dummies lurched forward on its mechanism and scared the bejeezus out of me!

Nico had a lot of fun at the Ren Faire. He enjoyed going on all of the rides he was big enough to try; I accompanied him on several. One ride we went on was full of kids, and I was the only "adult". The kids' interactions with each other were cracking me up.


One of my favorite parts of the Faire was the insult guy. He had his head and arms stuck through holes in a big flat, and he would insult people going by until they were angry enough to buy chunks of raw tomato and throw them at his face.


Ryan went first, and the guy had some excellent jokes about how maybe if Ryan kept putting enough product in his hair, people wouldn't realize he was 40. He also said that Ryan had enough oil in his hair to kill four baby seals.
By the time it was my turn, the guy had used up most of his A material (I guess he thought Ryan and I were too similar to use too many new jokes.....that racist!). I couldn't believe how close I came to hitting the guy on two of my throws; the tomato chunks sailed right between the guy's head and the edge of the hole he was sticking it through (a space of a few inches). Still, close never wins you any satisfaction, so Ryan and I limped away from the table nursing our wounded egos and looking to drown our new found insecurities in a couple of steins of mead.

One of my other favorite parts of the Faire was the petting zoo. There were so many cute baby animals, especially the piglets, ducklings, and goslings!



After leaning on the fence to get a closer look, I glanced down at my hand and saw that I had squashed a nasty looking spider with my palm. I guess I petted that one baby animal a little too hard....

Before leaving the Faire we took in a show. We saw several performances in progress as we walked around, but the only one we caught the entirety of was Cirque Du Sewer, featuring a young woman and her trained rats.


I'm so happy we got to visit the Ren Faire today. Even thought we left in the afternoon, we were able to see everything and participate in a lot.

I even got a new title

At work tonight I got another weird vibe from the first crowd, but the second audience was awesome!

After the shows a big group went out to celebrate Zheni's birthday. Zheni is the wife of Martin Espana, and she performs in the motorcycle and Russian swing acts.
We all went to a restaurant called Bombshell's; our group took up almost the entire patio. The staff was scrambling to get enough tables and chairs together to seat all of us.



5/11/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

Today was Mother's Day, so I made sure to call my Mom and get in contact with many of my friends who are mothers to wish them a happy day.

I went out in the morning to get a present for Tatiana. I went shopping at the Argentinean bakery that we visited a few days ago, and I picked up a bag of mate, which is a tea that is greatly enjoyed in Argentina.

I am so happy that the circus' AC was working today, because without it we all would have died backstage. I say that because even with one of the AC tubes pointed directly into the men's dressing rooms, the heat and humidity were so stifling that it was almost difficult to breathe.

We had our typical sleepy audience for the 2 p.m. show (the heat couldn't have helped), but the crowds got progressively better as the day went on, and we had a fantastic third show (with performers from Dick Garden and Jody Jordan's shows in attendance) .

Ryan and I are feeling so much more confidant in our material now, and Carmelo was nice enough to compliment us on how strong the gags are now compared to when we started the tour.


5/12/14- 7:30 p.m.

Ryan and I woke up early this morning and did some spring cleaning in our trailers' storage compartments. We loaded into the back of my truck the props and costumes from the bull gag, plus our production wardrobe that we aren't using, and then we began the 2 1/2 hour drive to Hugo, OK.

Once we arrived in Hugo, we put everything into Ryan's storage unit, and we also grabbed a few things to bring back to Vazquez.

Before heading back to Dallas, Ryan and I stopped by the Kelly Miller Winter Quarters to visit with our friend, Dudley, who is the WQ caretaker.
Dudley was surprised to see us, and we had a nice visit with him before we had to hit the road again.

We made great time getting back to the lot until we hit downtown. Rush hour was just beginning, and it was raining like crazy. It took forever for us to get from one side of downtown to the other, but luckily we came back with plenty of time to spare before our evening performance.

Our clown friend, Kelly, came to visit for a bit before the show. He was joined by Mel, Logan, Shawn, and Shawn's daughter to watch our evening performance.
Mel and Shawn are both clowns who work with Kelly in a local hospital clowning program, and Logan is the son of "Cousin Grumpy", who performs on Vazquez's West Coast unit.

Unfortunately we had a really rough show tonight. I think the rain and thunderstorms scared off a lot of people, and the folks that showed up didn't really seem impressed with our hijinx.
On top of that, everything backstage was wet from the rain running under the sidewalls and across the pavement, and I felt so disgusting from the humidity.
I was happy for the show to be over. Tomorrow is another day!


5/13/14- 7:30 p.m.

Last Friday a lady was over by our trailers handing out business cards for an RV Guy. Since I needed sway bars for my trailer, I called later that day and ordered a set from him.
Today the RV Guy came by the lot after lunch to deliver them to me. I was surprised to see that it was the same guy who used to do repairs on Kelly Miller's trailers whenever we were in the Valley. He even put a new AC unit in my Holiday Rambler several years ago. Small world, huh?

I would like to go ahead and get my sway bars attached (especially since the instructions make the task seem incredibly intimidating and difficult), but I will have to wait until Monday when we make the jump to Houston since there is another trailer parked in front of mine.

Gary Ray, who is a Ringling Clown College graduate and a veteran of Shrine circuses, his wife, Diane, his sister in law and brother in law, as well as his son, daughter in law, and grandson all came to the show this evening.
Cody, Gary's son, is an amazing artist, and when his wife, Abra, told him that I was a huge fan of the movie, "Who Framed Roger Rabbit", Cody gave me this awesome drawing he had done.


Ryan's aunt, uncle, and cousin were also at the show tonight, so I was very happy that our friends and family got to see us in front of a great audience.
We totally redeemed ourselves from our failure last night!

After the show Teo and I went to a 24 hour diner called Buzzbrews. They were having a classical open mic night, so different people were getting onstage to sing, tickle the ivories, or play violin.
The food was delicious; I was very happy with the pepper crusted salmon I ordered.

Russ, a performer with the Circus Freaks group in Dallas, was sitting a few tables away from us. I didn't see him because I have the observational skills of someone who is....unobservant, and Russ thought I was just some lucky devil that looked remarkably like Steve Copeland.
I didn't find out that he had been there until he messaged me on Facebook after Teo and I had left.

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Monday, May 5-Thursday, May 8: Fort Worth & Dallas, TX


5/5/14-7:30 p.m.

This morning I went out to run some errands. On my way back to the lot, I felt my truck lurch, and then it began to vibrate violently.
I glanced in the rearview mirror and saw smoke and rubber flying out from behind my truck.
I quickly pulled over on the highway and got out to investigate; I had completely shredded my rear driver side tire. I guess it was inevitable since those back tires have been on since I bought the truck from Nikki over two years ago.
Luckily it didn't happen while I was making a jump (which would have happened had the Fort Worth run not been extended by another day), or right before a show.

I called Good Sam Roadside Assistance, and they sent someone local to replace my tire. I was scheduled to meet Kyle Clay at 11:30 a.m. for lunch, so I called him to let him know what had happened.
Kyle was nice enough to come visit with me on the side of the highway until the mechanic arrived.

I ended up waiting over an hour and a half for the mechanic to show up, but once he got to me, the tire was switched out in a matter of minutes.
The one hassle was that people were being real jerks and not moving over a lane to give the guy some room to work.
He had to keep checking on traffic and moving out of the way, because a few people would have hit him if he wasn't paying attention.
(Please everyone, if anyone is pulled over on the side of the road, be courteous and move over one lane, or at the very least, slow down)

After getting my spare tire mounted on the truck, I followed Kyle to the restaurant where we were meeting his wife.
Kyle and Anna treated me to lunch at the Chef Point Cafe, which is a gas station turned restaurant.
The story goes that the owner asked the bank for a loan to open a restaurant, but they wouldn't give him one based on the fact that almost all restaurants fail in their first year.
The owner turned right around and asked for a loan to buy a gas station, which was approved.
He turned the working gas station into a restaurant, and the rest is history!

Obviously Chef Point is doing very well for itself, because Kyle and Anna said it had expanded since they had last been in, and there was a patio area being constructed in the restaurant's rear.

The food was amazing. Kyle and I both had the Better Than Sex Fried Chicken (that's the restaurant's claim, by the way), and we all shared some delicious bread pudding for dessert.

After lunch I called a nearby tire place and asked if they had the size tire I needed for my truck. They did, so I drove over and bought two new truck tires (I wanted to replace the other back tire since it was on its last leg as well), and I replaced the trailer tire that I shredded on the jump down to Donna.
It was an expensive day! Thank goodness for my rainy day fund!

Back at the lot I walked over to the tent a couple of hours before the show to set some props, and I discovered that a strong wind had blown in the back door and knocked over the poles and curtains for the men's dressing room!
Everyone's costumes were on the floor, and all of the paraphernalia that Ryan and I keep on our table had also been knocked over. Even my nose glue had spilled. Grrrrrr.

Mike from the band helped me pick everyone's costumes up. I didn't even want to try and set up the curtains again.
Apparently the stage crew kept fixing the dressing room, but it kept blowing over during the day. How frustrating!

Kyle came to watch the show tonight. I had been bragging to him about the air conditioned tent, so we were both surprised when we found out that for some reason it wasn't on for the one show this evening. Yuck.

Despite the lack of cool air, it was so nice only having one show before loading out, as opposed to the usual three shows.
Ryan and I were able to get our props over to our trailers and loaded fairly quickly, which was a definite plus.


5/6/14- Travel Day to Dallas, TX

Today I just hung around the house waiting for the trailer in front of me to leave so I could drive to Dallas.

Ryan and I were finally able to leave the lot around 3 p.m., and then we only had a 36 mile jump to our lot in Dallas.
It would have been a very easy jump if not for all the construction and wind. I couldn't believe how much the wind was blowing; once again I felt like I was driving on ice.
I definitely need to invest in sway bars before we head to our next city.

It didn't take too long for us to get parked in Dallas. We pulled into a big empty area next to the trailer parking area, and as soon as we stopped Ryan was called over to be spotted.
I waited for maybe an hour before I was summoned, and then I was parked right in front of Ryan's house. I was very happy about how quickly they got everything done for this move.

After getting cleaned up, Ryan, his family, and I joined my vet friend, Crystal, for dinner at a sushi restaurant in North Dallas.


5/7/14- Day Off!

This morning I drove up to Frisco, TX to visit the Stonebriar Mall and pick up my brand new Macbook Pro from the Apple Store. Whoo hoo!

I visited a Half Price Books in a shopping center next to the mall, where I found pristine copies of John Towsen's "Clowns" and Emmet Kelly's "Clown", for $20 a piece.
I was very impressed with the amount of circus books that particular location had in stock.

I drove over to Frisco Sqaure, where I had played for a few years with Kelly Miller, but the restaurant I had hoped to lunch in, Go Go Burger, seemed to be closed down for good.
Luckily there was a good sushi restaurant down the street, so I had the pleasure of eating there instead.

I met up with Ryan and his family back at the Stonebriar Center to walk around for a bit. Crystal joined us after awhile, and then she and I went to see "The Amazing Spider Man 2". It was a long movie, but I was never bored. My one complaint was that I wish they hadn't tried to fit so much exposition into one movie. There were some story arcs I would have liked to have seen get more attention, but overall I enjoyed the film.

This evening Ryan and I met up with Russ and Marie, two local performers who saw our show in Fort Worth, for dinner at Afrah, a restaurant serving delicious Lebanese food.
Russ and Marie are part of a troupe called Circus Freaks, so Ryan and I had a great time picking their brains about running a business and gigging in a major city, and we all enjoyed discussing clowning and performing in general.


5/8/14- Day Off!

Today was a rainy day! Thunderstorms occurred on and off until the evening, and the precipitation was constantly coming down. In fact, the rain was coming down so fast and so much that the cement we are parked on was frequently underwater!

Our friend, Kelly, came out to have lunch with us today. Ryan and I worked with Kelly on the Blue Show Ringling Alley, and we always look forward to seeing him whenever we're in Dallas.
We went to Pappa's BBQ to eat. I missed out on eating bbq in Fort Worth, so I was happy I got to have some before we left the DFW area.

There was a tornado warning while we were visiting with Kelly after lunch, so I decided to join Ryan and his family for a night out to get away from the trailers. (Luckily there were no tornados. Just a lot more rain!)

We visited an Argentinean bakery where Ryan and I had coffee; Ryan and Tatiana also picked up some goodies to enjoy at home.
We then visited a Movie Trading Company where I rented a couple of movie classics like "Swamp Thing" and "Silent Night, Deadly Night" (Parts One AND Two!).

Finally we wound up at the house of Ryan's uncle Mike, aunt Michelle, and cousin, Brandon. Michelle made a delicious dinner for us, and then Mike showed us an episode each of the reality TV shows "Face Off" and "Jim Henson's Creature Shop". Reality TV has never interested me, but I could definitely get into each of those programs since they involve people making things with foam, latex, and many other tools Ryan and I use every winter in the creation of our new gags.

Mike is a big fan of comic books and video games, and when he was at a Hastings on Free Comic Book Day, he spotted a replica of the Brain Gremlin from "Gremlins 2" (my favorite character from one of my favorite movies).
It was marked as 30% off, so he sent me a text about it. I quickly checked online and saw that I couldn't find a better price than what Hastings was offering.
I begged him to pick it up for me, which he was nice enough to do. Tonight I paid him back and brought home my very own Gremlin, a dream I have had since I was a little boy.

We're going to stay up late, jump on the beds, have tea parties, and be bestest friends!