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.

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

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