Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Monday, June 23-Sunday, June 29: Houston, TX

6/23/14- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon I joined Ryan and his family for a Ringling clown luncheon at our friend, Alex's apartment.
Also in attendance were Alex's girlfriend, Colleen, Rob and his fiancé, Jane, Craig, one of Alex's co-workers, and Chase, a current clown on Ringling's Red Unit. Chase just happens to be at home in Houston as the show goes from Mexico to New Orleans.

Rob and Jane prepared the meal: borscht, sausage, and two different salads. The food was delicious and plentiful. We provided dessert, a tres leches cake and a cheesecake.

After eating, and then waiting the appropriate half hour, several of us headed down to the pool in the apartment complex.
Nico, Ryan, and I had a good time swimming and splashing around. Funny enough, today was very overcast and cool compared to most of the days we would have stepped over our own mothers just to swim in a pool.

Alex and Colleen came to the show tonight, as did Chase and his father.
After an absence of three days, the trapeze act was back in the show tonight. I certainly did miss all the space we had when the crew wasn't setting up the net in the ring during the vacuum gag.
I'm especially going to miss the focus we had when there weren't flyers climbing up to their platforms on either side of the ring while we perform.

For an awesome photo gallery from Monday night's show, please visit this link:

After the show we visited with Chase and his father. It was fun to talk shop with Chase; he made me and Ryan laugh a lot when we saw him perform three years ago on Smirkus.

6/24/14- Day Off!

This morning Rob dropped his fiancé, Jane, off at the lot. Rob had to do several shows promoting Ringling's upcoming Houston engagement, but he wanted Jane to join in the fun activities that Ryan, Tatiana, Nico, and I had planned.

We started off our day with a visit to Wet & Wild Splashtown, a water park not too far from our lot.
Many thanks to our friends, Stephen and Alex, for hooking us up with free passes.

We had a blast at the park. Nico enjoyed playing in the kids area, but his favorite attraction was the lazy river; he and Ryan must have made about six laps.

Jane and I went on several slides. Our two favorites were "The Toilet" (not its actual name), which earned its name from us because you went down a tube and into a giant bowl where you circled a couple of times before being "flushed" out the "drain".

Our other favorite was "The Tornado". On that slide, Ryan, Jane, and I were in a four person raft with a random little girl that her grandmother trusted to three complete strangers. (Don't worry, we didn't take all of her milk money)
Our raft went down a short tunnel before we were suddenly washed down a very steep drop (which was particularly frightening because I was backwards at the time and didn't see it coming), and then we were inside the funnel, speeding up and down the sides, back and forth, until we came out into the pool at the bottom.

There was also a huge slide with an incredibly steep drop that Jane and I were both dumb enough to go on.

It didn't look nearly as scary from the ground, but as we got close to the top, we saw how severe the angle of the drop was; it was practically a straight shot down to the ground!
By that point there was no backing out. I went down the slide, eyes squeezed shut, screaming like a little girl the whole way, and adding even more water to the slide's current.
It was fun, and I'm glad I was brave enough to do it (especially since kids not much bigger than Nico were riding it multiple times in a row), but I was walking on rubber legs for awhile afterwards until I had calmed down.

After tempting death, the next logical step was taking it easy in the wave pool with Nico. Of course, some of the waves were pretty strong and knocked me over. Nico, who was holding my hand, heroically pulled me further back so I wouldn't drown.

Not too long after being in the wave pool, the lifeguards told everyone to get out for incoming bad weather, and sure enough, just a minute or so later a thunderstorm hit full force.
Since we had been at the park for several hours (not to mention since lighting was striking all around us and the thunder was right on top of the park), we decided to call it a day and head back to the lot.

We all went home and cleaned up, and then in the evening we drove downtown to the Hobby Center for the Arts where we saw the Broadway tour of Disney's "The Little Mermaid".

The show was alright; they had some nice swimming and flying effects (which they unfortunately overused), but Ryan and I were both upset that one of our favorite songs from the Broadway production had been changed into a completely different, much less entertaining song.
Still, I enjoyed being able to see a musical; it really made me excited for when we get to NYC.

Rob joined us for the second half of the show, and then we all went to dinner afterwards.
What a great day off!

6/25/14- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I joined Ryan and his family on an expedition to the Houston Space Center. Many thanks to Craig for hooking us up with tickets.

Ryan and I were laughing when we got to the information desk to pick up our passes because there were two guys working the counter named Steve and Ryan.
Just like one of our gags, Steve was having a hard time locating our tickets on the computer, and he had to call Ryan over to solve the problem.
Thank God they didn't have access to any hammers!

I enjoyed looking at all of the exhibits and displays at the Space Center. Perhaps the most interesting information to me was how the astronauts conducted their day to day life on the spaceships. For instance, did you know that their urine is recycled into drinking water?
Really makes you want to blast off for the stars, doesn't it?

Before leaving, we went on the tram tour of the Johnson Space Center. As part of the tour we got to see the Mission Control room (where the famous call of "Houston, we have a problem" came in), and also the Saturn V, which was the spaceship for many of the Apollo missions.

Our friend, Kelly Van Cleave, who we got to see in Austin, came out to see the show again tonight with her sister, Polly, and Polly's children.
I went out to the parking lot to visit with them all before the show. They brought a fantastic free roll of brisket, sweets, and fruit.

I'm happy our friends got to see us in front of a great audience. Polly got some fantastic photos of the show. You can check them out here:

Klaus, our horse trainer, has been in Germany for the past four weeks, surprised us by returning tonight.  Since I hadn't seen him in so long, he was able to easily go about his old tricks of scaring the life out of us whenever he enters the dressing room.
He was the last person I expected to see over my shoulder shouting, "Boo!", while I was getting changed for the carpenter gag.
Welcome back, Klaus!

6/26/14- 7:30 p.m.

Last night after the show I was feeling very lazy, and I couldn't muster up the energy to take off my make up.
First I wanted to finish a movie I had started, then I needed to eat dinner, then I needed to finish my blog, then I got caught up reading blog posts from last year, and then I was taking a trip down memory lane looking at old photos and videos.
Before I knew it it was 2:30 a.m. and I was still in clown make up.
Sad, isn't it?

After my shower it was after 3:00 a.m. before I finally got in bed and fell asleep. Needless to say, I was not too bright eyed and bushy tailed when I woke up this morning.

Ryan and I had a radio PR with El Vaquero (The Cowboy), the same gentleman we worked with last week.
We were only around for an hour, and during that time we only did two short interviews. It was a very easy publicity.

This afternoon Mario and Martin were nice enough to lend me their tools and know how so I could attach saddles to the front of my trailer so I can finally use my sway bars for our upcoming jump.

David Hennessy, aka "Henny", who was a clown on Ringling's Blue Unit, came to watch the show tonight.
Unfortunately we didn't have much time to visit after the show, but we are planning to have breakfast on Sunday.

After the show I was in a hurry to get cleaned up so that David, Maria, and I could go see the movie, "22 Jump Street".
Even though I felt they overplayed a couple of joke premises way too much, I thought the film was very funny, and I laughed a lot.

Bill Hunt, who took the awesome photos on Monday night, came back to the show tonight to take even more fantastic pictures:

6/27/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This afternoon I met up with my clown friends, Stephen and Sarah Smith. I hadn't seen them since maybe our second week in town, and I wanted to catch up one more time before we all left town. Stephen and Sarah will be moving to Phoenix on Monday while our show is headed up to Chicago.
We had lunch at a delicious sushi restaurant not too far from their apartment complex.

While we were eating I told them how my truck was long overdue for an oil change, and I also mentioned how difficult it was to find a garage that had high enough doors for my truck's shell.
On the way back to their place, Stephen and Sarah showed me a carwash that also did oil changes and had huge doors to the garage.

After saying goodbye to the Smiths I went to get my oil changed; the guys working on my truck had me in and out in a matter of minutes.
I was greatly relieved to get that task marked off my "To Do" list before our big jump north.

About an hour before the show Ryan and I had a television PR with Carmelo and the dancers. We only had to do a quick tease where we passed six juggling clubs around the reporter, and then we goofed around with the dancers in the background while Carmelo was interviewed.
Poor Carmelo was feeling under the weather, and he was lying down on the ring curb when we arrived to the publicity.
You wouldn't have known that he was sick by the level of his performance once the camera was rolling, though. You've gotta love the resilience of circus people!

The performance was back to normal this evening after the past couple of days without Alex'a hula hoop act or Memo and Jan as ringmasters.
The three of them had been down visiting the Mexico unit of Vazquez.

We had good audiences for the two shows, but I was having an off night, which was very frustrating.
Ryan felt the brunt of my off performance when I actually nailed him in the family jewels with a wooden broom handle instead of pretending to do so.
What can I say, I'm a method clown.

6/28/14- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I went to an auto shop to replace the trailer tire that I blew on the jump to Houston. Unfortunately the place I visited had ridiculous prices, and the staff was more interested in watching the World Cup soccer game in the waiting room than actually working on the projects for the three customers they had.
When I was telling Ryan about my bad experience, he asked if I complained to them. I told him what I had done....written a nasty online review for Google Maps.
That'll show 'em!!!!!!

I went to see the movie, "Jersey Boys", this afternoon, which is a film version of the musical of the same name. It tells the story of the singing group, "The Four Seasons".
I thought the movie was great, and now I really want to see the Broadway show.

During the film I could hear a thunderstorm going on outside. When I arrived back at the lot I was dismayed to see that all the muddy spots that were finally drying out were once again underwater.
I sure hope we can all get out of here on Monday.

Unfortunately, along with the mud and standing water, the rain also brought incredible humidity. Backstage was miserable tonight, especially during the 6:00 p.m. show.
Ryan and I were both sweating so much; we were laughing when we imaged the pictures we took with people during our post show photo concession. We could just imagine seeing the looks of disgust on people's faces as they recoiled from the two dripping, stinky payasos.

Luckily the audiences tonight were great, especially for the 9:00 p.m. performance.
I was especially happy that I found a new way to play a problematic bit in the carpenter gag. Just shifting the focus of where I was looking got a nice laugh from the audience.
I'm sure now that we seemed to have figured out these Houston audiences it will be back to the drawing board once we get to Chicago!

6/29/14- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning I planned to have a big breakfast and run some errands, but when I went to get in my truck I saw that my path was blocked by the show semi trucks, which were being shuffled around for tear down.

I aborted all my morning plans, which really started my day off on the wrong foot. From there one thing after another started going wrong for me.
I felt like I was in one of those cartoons where the main character is subjected to incredibly bad luck as the things that happen to him become more and more ridiculous.

In addition to my rough start this morning, it was very hot and humid, which zapped me of all my energy. It was tough to get through the three shows, and I was in a really bad mood all day.

Probably the most frustrating thing that happened today was that I wasn't able to give the pre third show motivational speech that I had spent so much time preparing.
I had a great idea that I was excited to share, but by the time everyone had congregated around me the opening announcements had begun and there was not enough time to give the speech I had written.

I tried to come up with a completely different pep talk on the spot, but it crashed and burned. I got so down on myself over the whole thing, putting way more importance on it than was warranted. I think it wouldn't have seemed like such a big deal to me if I wasn't already tired and cranky.

Luckily Rob and Jane came to say goodbye to us before the third show, and they brought a free roll of Chinese baked goods, including my new favorites, red bean buns!
On top of that, the third audience was fantastic, which helped me finish the day on a strong note.

It was incredibly gratifying to finish Houston with a bang after the first couple of weeks worth of audiences filled me with self doubt.

For load out we changed around what props go into whose houses. Since my trailer was closer to the back door we put the biggest props there. That saved us from having to push everything over the gravel path leading to where Ryan's trailer was parked.

I'm going to miss my friends, both old and new, in Houston, but I am excited about our upcoming 5 week stand in Chicago!

Tally ho!

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