Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Sunday, April 26 & Monday, April 27: Phoenix, AZ


4/26/15- 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Today was a most unusual and most enjoyable phenomenon: a two show Sunday!
For some reason, we will only have two shows on Sundays while we are in Phoenix. I think that is a fad that should catch on for the rest of the tour. Just sayin'....

I found an excellent spot to have breakfast through the Yelp app. The restaurant was called Snooze: An A.M. Eatery, and I could tell it was going to be good, because there was a huge crowd outside waiting to get in.
The host told me that it was over an hour wait for a table, so he suggested I find a seat at the bar since I was dining alone.
It only took several minutes before a seat opened up and I jumped on it.

Snooze's menu featured a variety of Benedicts; I had the Chilaquiles Benedict, which had barbacoa beef over a stack of ranchero sauced tortillas and melted cheese, with poached cage free eggs, roasted poblano hollandaise, pico de gallo and cotija cheese. Delish!

Right across the street from Snooze was a Half Price Books, so after a great meal and some book shopping, the only thing that could have made this Sunday better would have been only having to do one show!

Even though we didn't have three shows, we still had a motivational speech before the 8:00 p.m. performance.
The dancers gave out "The Brit Awards", and everyone who received an award won it for a funny reason completely opposite of their personality (i.e. Mira, who is very quiet and shy won an award for "Most Likely To Kill Someone" [although I figured I was in the running after my incident with Piolin]). I won "Most Lacking In Motivation", since I am the person who stared doing the Inspirational Speeches last year.

Our clown friend, Lance Brown, came to the second show tonight with a couple of his friends. I was sad that the audience was so quiet and reserved, since I like for our friends to see us really rock the crowd.
Lance did get to see this bit of impromptu comedy though....


video

After the show when Lance and his friends came up to get a picture with us, a couple of audience members went up to Lance and asked for his autograph.
After a minute we figured out that it was because they thought that he was Viśan from the Espana family.
I had to laugh, because I had thought the same thing when I saw Lance in the audience at one point.

Although I've never seen Viśan make that face.



4/27/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today Ryan and I went to a costume shop in downtown Phoenix to try and find some make up that Ryan is running low on.
The shop didn't have any in stock, but Ryan did pick up something to tide him over until our next make up order arrives in the mail.

I had a relaxing day at home, watching movies, reading, and playing video games. It was much needed.

After the show tonight Ryan and his family had me over for a Chinese dinner. They had visited a huge Asian market in the area, and Tatiana prepared many of the dim sum items that they had bought.

After eating, Ryan, Nico, and I perused an online catalog for an upcoming auction. Rick Baker, who is an amazing movie make up artist, is selling a lot of his old props and prothesises (I'm not sure if that is the correct plural).
I was most excited about pages 42-69, which feature items from my favorite movie, "Gremlins 2".
So......if anyone with thousands of dollars to spare would like to buy a nice gift for me sometime.....

http://www.propstore.com/content/rickbaker/InteractiveCatalog/index.html

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Friday, April 24 & Saturday, April 25: Phoenix, AZ


4/24/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

When it came time to unload our props this morning, I had to call Nestor, who parks all of us, and have him bring someone with a forklift to move my trailer forward.
The back of my house was too close to the perimeter fence that goes around the lot, and I was unable to get the ramp down so we could get the props out of my cargo area.
After we were finished unloading, my trailer was moved back into position. The fences won't be an issue for load out since they are always taken down on the final day of an engagement.

For some reason our show will not have animal acts here in Phoenix, or in the next town, Mesa.
A flying trapeze act performed by the Cavalini family was brought in to help fill the gap in the program, and a couple of acts were moved around.

Since there was no dog act in the first half, Ryan and I had to hurry up a bit after opening to get ready for the water gag.
The trapeze act was put at the start of the second half, which moved the Russian swing to the end of the first half.

Eddie asked Ryan and I if we could come up with something to cover the set up of the Russian swing; what bugged us was that he asked us two nights before we opened, instead of weeks ago when this presumably was all decided.

We planned to go a simple route, especially since we would be performing this filler material immediately following our carpenter gag.
We went to Walmart and bought a couple of large beach balls which we could toss around the audience while the swing rigging was erected.

Ryan and I had a quick rehearsal to map out the beach ball cover this afternoon, and then the cast rehearsed opening and finale to plug the Cavalini family into those numbers.

It was hard work going into the beach ball cover right after the carpenter gag. There weren't a lot of people in the audience, so it was tough keeping my beach ball constantly in motion. I had to keep running around and retrieving the ball from where it had stopped in a section of empty seats.
By the time I got backstage I had a painful stitch in my side, yet I had to rush to get ready for our Intermission tableau with the dancers.

We were all worried about our show being way too short with two acts missing, but the DJ who was appearing tonight as our special guest took it upon himself to take care of that.
He hosted a dance contest during both shows that went on For. Ev. Er.
The first show the DJ went on after Carmelo, and he roped the poor guy into helping him out, right after Carmelo had finished his 10 minute act.

In the second show there was no hula hoop act, which meant we had to rush even more to get ready for the water gag.
Once we got to our spot to start the gag, we discovered that the DJ was going to be doing his dance party right before our act.

This frustrated us because he brought the show's energy to a dead stop; we knew that we'd now have to work extra hard to get any reactions from the already small and quiet crowd.
After the DJ finally finished, Ryan I bypassed any of our schtick in the seats since the crew had used the copious time they had during the dance party to remove all of the aerial motorcycle rigging.
We went directly to the ring curb to do our warm up bits, and I about lost my mind when I saw that the DJ was standing right in front of us, at our knee level, in our light, signing autographs and taking pictures with a group of people.

I stopped what I was doing, put my hands on my hips, and tapped my foot as I stared down at the back of his head.
After a few seconds I realized that he had no situational awareness (or common courtesy, apparently), so I said, "It's ok. We'll wait."
He turned around and said, "Oh, um.....sorry."
Right then our publicist, Lidia rushed up and escorted everyone away from the front of the ring, but by then I was absolutely furious at the lack of respect we had been shown.

I tried to take that anger and convert it into performance energy, which worked very well, but I still let everyone in the men's dressing room know my thoughts on the situation after the act. I think I made my point rather.....passionately.

Even though the rest of the show went fine after the water gag, I was completely over the day, and I was happy to be in my trailer after work.


4/25/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Today was the birthday of our ringmaster, Marcos Valdes. Ryan and I bought Marcos a gift back in San Antonio, a DVD featuring his father, famous comedian "Loco" Valdes.
I was worried that Marcos would have already picked up the DVD while we were in town, but he hadn't, and he loved the gift.

The dancers had cake prepared, so before the first show we all gathered in the backstage to sing, "Happy Birthday", and get all sugared up before work.

My brother, Trent, came to watch the second show tonight. He lives in Tucson, but he drove up to visit and watch me work. I was really excited, because he hasn't seen me perform since my final year with Ringling, eight years ago!


Luckily he saw us with a good audience; the one drawback was the bald guy I picked for the vacuum gag was a real pain in the butt, and he didn't want to play along at all.

After the shows there was a birthday party for Marcos in the backstage tent. I was hoping Trent could stick around, but he had to drive a couple of hours back to Tucson and then go to work early in the morning.

The circus band provided live music for the party, and Marcos even entertained his guests for his own celebration.

video

The music was hot, and pretty soon everyone was dancing. 


I played the part of a wall flower, but I did take Abrianna in my arms for a bit so Ryan and Tatiana could dance.
While I was swaying back and forth to the music with the baby girl in my arms, she let out a big yawn. I guess that sums up my dancing abilities rather well!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Wednesday, April 22 & Thursday, April 23: Phoenix, AZ


4/22/15- Day Off!

Crossing over two time zones into Phoenix really threw my sleep schedule for a loop. I kept waking up ungodly early, and then forcing myself to go back to sleep until a more reasonable hour.

I was able to do my laundry today close to the lot, and I also got a truck problem fixed at the O'Reilley's next door.
The casing for my air filter was coming loose, but it only took the O'Reilley's employee two seconds to fix it.

As I was out and about running errands, a lesson that I've learned during this tour was reinforced to me: people do not know how to drive in a mall parking lot.
Some genius almost crashed right into me because he didn't understand the concept of a four way stop. In fact, he completely ignored the stop sign as I was turning left in front of him; it is a wonder we didn't collide.

This afternoon Ryan and I were able to finish up work on our budget for next year, and then we walked around the Desert Sky Mall, which is where the circus is set up for the next week and a half.

I decided to have dinner at Cooperstown, a restaurant owned by rock legend Alice Cooper. It is right across the street from the arena that I used to play with Ringling, so we clowns would frequent it during our time in Phoenix.

I wasn't too impressed this time around. The one thing I remembered from Cooperstown were the Wings of Mass Destruction, which were some insanely hot wings that we paid one of the clowns a lot of money to eat.
That caused me to remember the restaurant as a wing joint, which really put me in the mood for wings, but they were just one of the items on the appetizer menu.
My food was ok, but nothing to write home about. I suppose if I was an Alice Cooper fan I would have at least enjoyed all the decor.




4/23/15- Day Off!

Ryan and I were supposed to have a UNIVISION publicity this afternoon, but it was canceled, which was excellent news for us.

I had lunch at an excellent cafe called the Wildflower Bread Co; I had an amazing roast beef and gorgonzola sandwich. 

Before heading back to the lot I stocked up on groceries at Trader Joe's (sorry JeffSchott).

Back at the lot Ryan and I finally completed the first draft of one of our new gags, and then I went to dinner with one of my clown friends, Lance Brown.

Lance is the youngest graduate of the Ringling Clown College (he went in the school's final year), and he was one of my favorite road clowns when I was a teenager.
It was nice to be able to spend some time with him, since we had only talked briefly before during his second stint with Ringling in the past several years.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Monday, April 20 & Tuesday, April 21: Phoenix, AZ


4/20/15- Travel Day to Phoenix, AZ

Ryan and I began the 1,000 mile jump to Phoenix, AZ around 9:00 a.m.
Around 120 miles in I popped one of my trailer tires. I was able to get it changed with the help of Ryan's jack; the one difficulty we had was getting my tires up on enough blocks so my axle would be high enough in the air to get the jack underneath.

Later in the trip we stopped at a rest area. Carmelo was already there, and he noticed an unnatural grinding noise coming from my wheels as I drove.
After some investigation and testing, we discovered that one of my trailer brakes had broken apart inside of the wheel.
Carmelo took the wheel completely apart and we discarded the chunks of broken metal. He also discovered that none of the rest of my trailer brakes were even attached; the wires were cut!
Looks like I'll be spending a lot of money on trailer brakes very soon.
I was so grateful for Carmelo's help, and for him noticing a problem before it became much worse.

Our drive through west Texas was fairly boring; there were just miles and miles of desert. There were a few neat sights (mountains and rock formations) that were different from the usual terrain we see on our jumps.


I was excited to drive through New Mexico, which is one of the few states that I had not visited before.
We stopped at a Walmart in Las Cruces, NM to spend the night; we drove about 100 miles past the half way point of our journey in one day. We might have made it even farther if I hadn't had my mechanical issues.

Martin and his family stopped at the same Walmart as us, and when I was telling him about how many tires I have popped so far this season, he suggested I get my trailer axles checked to see if they are properly aligned.
I will have to schedule an appointment with an RV repair shop during our next jump.


4/21/15- Travel Day to Phoenix, AZ

About 60 miles into our jump Ryan's truck's check engine light came on. We pulled over in Deming, NM (hometown of one of my former Ringling Alley mates, Nathan Holguin) to see what the problem was.

At first we noticed that the truck was low on engine coolant, but even after filling the reservoir, the light was still on.
We moved to a Walmart parking lot in Deming, where Ryan unhooked his truck so we could go to an O'Reilley's to see what the problem was.

The O'Reilley's employee could not get a proper reading on why the check engine light came on, so he suggested we go to a Dodge dealership just down the road.
The man at the Dodge dealership diagnosed the problem as an electrical snafu. He simply reset the check engine light and said it was most likely nothing to worry about. He suggested Ryan take the truck for a full check up in Tucson if the light came on again, but thankfully it did not.

Luckily the rest of our drive was uneventful, and we made it to the Desert Sky Mall in Phoenix around 8 p.m.

Nestor was in the process of parking trailers when we arrived, but he was dealing with a very small space to fit the whole circus, so he told us we had time to go get dinner before we would be parked.

I joined Ryan and his family at an Olive Garden in the parking lot of the mall, where the staff was nice enough to not rush our meal, even though we arrived close to closing time.

When we got back to the circus, Nestor was ready to park us. He had one of the crew guys park my trailer for me, for which I was extremely grateful.
He had to back my trailer up between the tent's stake line and the already parked trailers, and he squeezed my house in between two other trailers, with only inches to spare at some moments.

I was happy to be done with parking my trailer since that meant I could fully enjoy my day off tomorrow.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Saturday, April 18 & Sunday, April 19: San Antonio, TX


4/18/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

There was a lot of traffic today because of Fiesta, an annual spring festival in San Antonio. I didn't learn about the event until later in the day, but I had been wondering why the streets were so crowded.

While I was running errands I got some blueprints printed out for a new prop we are designing. I told the girl working at Office Max's copy center that I wanted the print outs to be 2 ft x 3 ft.
I was floored when she asked me if I knew what that was in inches.
I'm guessing she wasn't valedictorian of her class...
I wish I would have been able to answer her without consulting my calculator.....

Also while I was out I picked up an adaptor that I can use in my truck to charge my laptop while I drive. I'm looking forward to the ability to listen to TV shows and movies on my computer during our upcoming long jump to Phoenix, AZ.

Last night I started getting a sore throat, so during tonight's shows I took it easy with my yelling and girly screams so as to not further strain my voice.

Since the lot in San Antonio is muddy, the stage crew has been laying down sawdust flakes backstage before the horses enter the tent.
Now when Ryan and I clean our water mat, the sawdust is sticking to the wet mat. Because of that we have to sweep off the mat as we fold it so that the flakes don't get on the ring carpet during the show.
I'm looking forward to being on cement next town!


4/19/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

Today my cold had become even worse, so I tried to keep medicated and well rested during our long day.

It was hot and sunny out, which wasn't much fun in the tent, but at least it dried all the mud in the back yard.

The second show was an especially difficult hurdle to overcome today. The audience was just not into me and Ryan at all, and it really made performing while sick even more of a drag.

Mecho from Duo Exxtrem gave today's third show motivational speech. His topic was how three show days are not so bad, even if it is hot or we are tired. He said that it is all in our minds, and if we can overcome that, Sundays are a piece of cake.

I tried to apply that theory to the third performance, and it worked rather well. I think the fact that it had cooled down considerably in the tent since the second show helped considerably.

Load out wasn't as bad as I was expecting it to be. Ryan and I took our props the shorter way around the tent because the mud on that side had dried out. We were also able to get everything onto a side street by the lot, which made wheeling the props over to our trailers much easier.

After loading up our props and getting our houses ready for travel, Ryan and I only had to wait a short time for the school trailer to be moved from in front of my house.
We were able to leave San Antonio shortly after midnight.

Our plan was to simply get out of downtown to avoid rush hour traffic in the morning. We stopped for the night at a Walmart about thirty miles outside of San Antonio.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Thursday, April 16 & Friday, April 17: San Antonio, TX


4/16/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I joined Ryan and his family on a trip to Sea World. Emma got discounted tickets for us through Groupon, and so we met her and Amy at the park when it opened at 10:00 a.m.
Between then and when we left around 4:30 p.m., we were able to see the whole park.

We saw almost all of the shows. There were two killer whale shows, a Cirque style beluga whale and dolphin show, and a pet show (I missed that one because I was buying a souvenir, and the staff wouldn't let me in the theater after the performance had begun).

Also, we rode the two major roller coasters, and Nico was able to play in the small waterpark in the kids area.
My favorite coaster was the Great White, which was a hang down coaster with lots of loops and corkscrews.


The other coster, The Steel Eel, was a sit down coaster with a lot of hills. The constant up and down motion left me weightless for the majority of the ride, and my stomach was done with thrill rides by the end of it.

My favorite part of the park was the flamingo pond where you could feed the ducks (Judging by my two favorite parts of San Antonio attractions, maybe it is time I buy some more ducks).
There were so many beautiful varieties of waterfowl that I had never seen before. These were my favorites:






(Number 2 and 6 were very close to being snuck out of the park under my shirt)

The weather was perfect for a day at the theme park. All week I was worried that it would rain all day, but as we got closer to our trip, the chance of rain kept decreasing.
It was overcast the whole day, which was wonderful. Usually at theme parks I get so drained from being in the sun the whole time, so I really welcomed the cloudy, cool weather.

Another plus was that the threat of rain must have scared most people off, because the park was not crowded at all. We walked onto both roller coasters, which was fantastic.

We all had such a fun day at Sea World, but by show time I was worn out. I kept cracking Ryan up during our performance because I was so loopy.


4/17/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Our friend, Steve Hogue, came to visit us this afternoon. He treated me and Ryan's family to lunch at the Sea Island Shrimp House, which had fantastic food.
I had been wanting to check out the restaurant since we arrived because I read about it on the new Zagat app I downloaded on my phone.
I noticed a trend that a lot of the delicious, unique restaurants I enjoy visiting are all Zagat rated. Now with the app I can find all of the highest rated restaurants in my area.

Soon after we returned from lunch it began to storm. The rain made the circus' back yard soupy once more.

Raul Brindis, who is the host of an immensely popular radio show in the Houston area, was our special guest at the circus tonight, along with his hydrocephalic child mascot sidekick, Pepito.


Last year when the duo visited our show, Ryan and I made up a ridiculous backstory about how Pepito is my arch nemesis, so of course tonight I continued the faux rivalry, squinting my eyes in distrust and hatred every time I saw him onstage. 

Pepito wasn't the only child I had to worry about tonight. After each show almost every kid we dealt with was being a real brat. One was trying to spit on us every time we talked to her, one was giving me major lip and hit me when I turned my back on her, and one kept rolling his eyes every time we said anything to him.

Why am I a clown? For the respect!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Tuesday, April 14 & Wednesday, April 15: San Antonio, TX


4/14/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I was able to run some errands, most important of which was taking care of my trailer tire that was punctured by a nail.
Of course, the nail just had to go into the rubber too close to the side of the tire, so the shop was not able to repair it.
I ended up buying a new tire as well as a new rim, because the mechanic mounting the tire noticed that my old rim was bent.

The Hogue family, our friends who graciously invited us into their home last week, came to see the show tonight.


Sandra made some of her heavenly chocolate chip pumpkin muffins for us. I first had them when they saw us on Kelly Miller three years ago, and I've been dying to have them again since then.

Also in the audience tonight were cast members from Circo Hermanos Vazquez's East Unit. They just finished up a run in nearby Austin, and they are on their way to Dallas for a month.
Between the Hogues and the Vazquez gang, the audience was incredibly enthusiastic.

After the show there was a barbecue to celebrate the two Units coming together, but I only made a brief appearance before heading home and scaring myself silly with "The Babadook", a horror movie I rented.


4/15/16- 7:30 p.m.

Today I joined Ryan and his family for a trip to the Riverwalk in downtown San Antonio.
During my previous three visits to San Antonio with Ringling, I always enjoyed walking, dining, and shopping along the San Antonio River, especially since the Riverwalk was right next to the Alamodome, the arena we played.


Probably my favorite part of the Riverwalk this time around was all of the different ducks I saw! (Is anyone surprised?)

Our sound guy, Luis, and his wife met us for lunch at The County Line, a barbecue restaurant.
After eating, we all went on a boat ride along the river. It was nice to rest my feet while taking in the sights, but our boat driver either had a terrible sound system, or he was trying to eat the microphone.

video

We were disappointed because we were genuinely interested in knowing more about the area.
At the conclusion of the ride, Ryan went to tell the guy at the ticket office about the sound problem, and the man became instantly defensive and was a real jerk about the whole thing.
I guess he thought Ryan was trying to get a refund, but Ryan just wanted to let the guy know that they could make an easy fix to improve the quality of their ride.

Regardless of garbled information, we all had a grand ol' time on the San Antonio Riverwalk today.


Tonight our performer friends, Rik Gern and Peter Hinrichs, came down from Austin to see our show. 
Rik is a former Ringling clown, and Peter is a magician better known to the Austin area as Peter the Adequate. 
After work they treated me to dinner, and we had a great time catching up until almost 2:00 a.m.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Sunday, April 12 & Monday, April 13: San Antonio, TX


4/12/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning I went to Panera Bread to have a little breakfast-y goodness before our three shows.
While I was sitting sipping my coffee, I overheard a little girl at the next table tell her mom, "No one knows I'm crying except for God."

For some reason the family left the restaurant soon after I turned to them and said, "I know too....."
Whatever, people are weird!

Today was a humid, hot, sweaty day. It was pretty miserable inside the tent for the first two shows. During the first water gag an old lady in the audience looked like she wanted to stab me when I tried to take away the piece of cardboard she was using to fan herself.
I was simply going to take it and fan her myself, but she didn't take kindly to my spur of the moment stroke of comedic genius.

Between the final two shows I stepped over next door to Freddy's Steakburgers to get a cup of custard so I could cool down and sugar up before our final performance.

Ryan gave the third show motivational speech. That plus my treat, the fact that the tent had cooled down considerably, and a fantastic third audience made the last performance a breeze.

To be honest, the first two audiences weren't bad at all considering it was Sunday afternoon and extremely humid, but I had a tough time getting through the shows. Thank goodness I got my second wind by the end of the day.


4/13/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I took my punctured tire over to the Sears Auto Center right next to the trailers. They took all day to tell me they couldn't patch the hole made by the nail I drove over. They didn't even call me, despite the fact that I gave them my number.
I finally went over after four hours since it was getting close to their closing time and I wanted to know what was going on.
Note to self: Never go to Sears Auto Center again.

Our friends, Pam and Alberto Ramirez, came to visit tonight with their children. Pam and Alberto were both clowns on Ringling at different times, and they also worked together in an Alley after they were married.
They brought a dozen donuts from Shipley's, and said that they were chock full of all the good stuff that clowns need!

The circus band played all of our music for the water gag tonight, and it went very well. We had a rehearsal before the show, but all of the cues and transitions for that act are very easy, so it was brief.

Now hopefully we can get them playing the music for the carpenter and vacuum gags soon!

Ryan and I had a wacky vacuum gag in the show tonight. We managed to "break" two chairs; they came completely off the bleachers when we bumped into them.
I picked up one seat and addressed the crowd (who I'm sure didn't understand a word of what I was saying), "They just don't make circuses like they used to!"

Ryan and I also worked in an impromptu running gag where we made it seem like an usherette that we had to squeeze by in the audience was grabbing our butts every time we passed.

After the show Ryan, his family, and I joined the Ramirez family for dinner at Mama Margie's, the 24 hour Mexican restaurant across the street from the lot.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Wednesday, April 8- Saturday, April 11: San Antonio, TX


4/8/15- Day Off!

Nestor started parking all of the trailers this morning, and Ryan and I were parked around noon. He waited until the end to park us so we could go in front. Since we are always some of the first people to leave on travel days, he didn't want us blocked in like we were in Arlington.
I was fine with the idea, especially since we have a big jump to Phoenix, our next city, coming up.

After setting up my house, I went to Spec's, a liquor and fine food store, to pick up a couple of birthday presents for tonight's party.
At this lot we are fairly far from most things, so it took me awhile to go there and come back. San Antonio's confusing Interstate system didn't help matters either.

Back at the lot I saw that the electrical boxes had been set up so we could plug into power, but all of the 50 amp outlets were already taken.
I went to Nestor with my problem, and he told the head electrician, who was nice enough to get me an adaptor so I could plug into a 30 amp outlet.

Starting this afternoon there was a birthday barbecue for Martin, patriarch of the Espana family, and Bernadett, who is the wife of Mecho from Duo Exxtrem.


Martin made his excellent guacamole and also manned the grill. It was nice to sit outside, relax, and enjoy the food and company.
I also liked the fact that the party was right outside my door, so I didn't have far to go when I was ready to call it a night.




4/9/15- "Day Off"

Ryan and I were up early this morning for a 8 a.m. television interview with TV Azteca. We were originally slated to have a 10 a.m. publicity with UNIVISION, but Eddie told us about this new one last night at the party. Lucky us!

The station showed up late, of course, but when they did arrive they were very nice. The tent was not fully set up yet, so we filmed the two segments outside in front of the ticket office.


Once we were finished Ryan and I headed back to our trailers to take a short break before our next interview, which Alexa and Lidia told us was at 11:00 a.m., not 10:00, like we had originally thought.

Ryan and I went back to the ticket office at 10:45 a.m., and then we proceeded to sit for two hours in the sun, waiting for the UNIVISION station to arrive.

While we waited, Lidia was nice enough to go over to the Freddy's Steakburgers establishment right next to the trailers to get us some lunch.

I also found ways to amuse myself....


 
3 Boobs

Alexa kept calling the station, and at first they didn't answer, but then they kept saying they were caught in traffic.
You'd think they'd know enough to account for traffic if they work in a major city. Also, they started sending those messages long after they should have left to begin filming at 11:00 a.m.

Finally Alexa and Lidia told us to go get cleaned up, and by then, half of our day was gone.
Apparently just after we left to take off our make up, the station showed up, so Alexa did the interview by herself.

After my shower I went to the HEB supermarket near the lot. While I was shopping I came across a DVD kiosk with TVs that were showing a clip from the horror movie, "IT", on a loop.
They were constantly running the scene where the monster, at this point in the form of a clown, kills a little boy from a sewer drain.
Little kids going by in strollers were yelling out to their parents, "Stop! Stop! We want to watch the clown!"

I really am not sure why the movie "IT" was being shown in a supermarket since: 
A) It came out 25 years ago 
B) It isn't remotely close to Halloween
3) It's a terrible movie that was never scary to begin with. (And to all you chuckleheads that claim "IT" is what made you afraid of clowns, don't forget that the monster also turns into a werewolf, a skeleton, an old lady, and a giant spider. And at the end you find out his true form is a giant beam of light. Why aren't more people afraid of giant beams of light?!)

In the evening I joined Ryan and his family on a trip to Cibolo, TX to visit the house of our friends, the Hogue family.
Steve and Sandra, who were both clowns with Ringling's Red Unit back in the late 90s, and their five children welcomed us into their beautiful home to have dinner and a nice evening away from the circus.

We had a cookout, and Steve and Sandra were also nice enough to let me use their laundry machines, saving me a boring trip tomorrow.

Steve pulled out his photo albums from Clown College and his year on the road, which I absolutely loved looking through.

Thank you so much to the Hogue family for a lovely evening. I'm so glad we got to spend more time getting to know them and their wonderful family.


4/10/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

It was a royal pain in the butt moving the props from our trailers to backstage in this town. The trailers are parked across the road from the tent, and we are also on the front side of the big top.
We chose not to take the props around the side of the tent closer to us because the path to backstage was incredibly muddy, especially since it was drizzling rain all morning.
Instead we opted on taking the props the long way around the tent, which was much drier, but to go that way we had to wheel everything over a rock path, which was not easy.

Mecho did help us out with a good tactic to get our heaviest prop across the stones. He took one of our ratchet straps that we use to keep hand props inside the carpenter box, and he looped it under the wheels so that he and Ryan could lift up on the box as they pulled it along.
God bless that resourceful Ukranian!

Ryan and I didn't bother to clean the dust off of most of our props (only the car), because as soon as we got everything situated backstage, the stage crew swept up the dried mud and sent dust flying everywhere.
That will be happening every show for the next 10 days.
I can't wait until we get on a cement lot again!

After our long, grueling task of getting our props loaded into the tent, Ryan was nice enough to make lunch for me and his family. He cooked okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese pancake made of flour, shredded cabbage, shrimp, and fish flakes topped with otafuku sauce.
Ryan learned how to make them when he lived and worked in Japan, and I thought mine was delicious!

We had a fantastic audience for our first show in San Antonio. Unfortunately the second crowd was not as with us; I place most of the blame on us. Ryan and I had a very off show, which was frustrating.
I was sad that we had a bad end to what had started out as a great night.


4/11/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Today was another rainy, dreary day, but luckily the weather cleared up by showtime.

We had a big crowd for the first show, and they were another fantastic audience.

To get to my trailer after the show, I have to walk through some of the public that is leaving the tent. One family stopped me to take a picture, but a little girl being held by her father was unsure of me.
The father tried consoling the girl by saying, "It's ok, don't be scared."
I added, "Yeah, I'm just a sweaty man in make up. Ok......maybe you should be a little scared."

The dryer that the show provided to Mecho and Mira so they can dry off their costumes after their strap/water tank act has been screeching like a thousand banshees lately.
Mecho and several of the other guys have all looked to see what the problem is, but no solution can be found.
Because of that, it is a bit maddening being in the men's dressing room while the dryer is running.

Tonight during the second show, Jose Alberto had had enough, and he let out a yell of frustration over the constant, piercing whine of the dryer.
I waited a second and then yelled out, "What?!"

What's the secret of comedy?
TIMING!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Monday, April 6 & Tuesday, April 7


4/6/15- Arlington, TX- 7:30 p.m.

For lunch today I visited a Twisted Root Burger Company location much closer to the lot than the one I visited last week.
This time I tried the Sexy Hawaiian burger, which was topped with jalapeño jack cheese, teriyaki sauce, pineapple salsa, and prosciutto.
That made me a sexy South Carolinian eating a Sexy Hawaiian. Oooh yeah!

Nico came over to visit and play video games for a little bit this afternoon, and besides that I just prepared for load out.

We had a great crowd for our final show in Arlington. I wish they could have let Sunday's audiences borrow a little of their enthusiasm.
Toty and Andy, our local clown friends, watched the show with their family. Also visiting was Rodger, a former Ringling clown, who brought a couple of his friends as well.

Load out was a little nuts this town, because in addition to getting our props out of backstage, and our costumes out of the dressing room semi in a timely fashion, I was also trying to spend a little time with all of our friends who visited.

After getting our props packed away, I started getting my trailer ready for travel. One of the bunkhouses was in front of me, preventing me from leaving, but it was moved before too long, and I was able to get my trailer further out into the mall parking lot.
Ryan planned to do the same, but by 3 a.m. the bunkhouse in front of him was still blocking his exit, so he finally went to bed.


4/7/15- Travel Day to San Antonio, TX

Ryan and I had hoped to leave for San Antonio around 9 a.m., but he was still blocked by a bunk house.
Finally it was moved, and we were able to depart about an hour and a half behind our planned schedule.

Luckily it was an easy 288 mile drive to San Antonio. It was overcast and not too hot, which was great for our tires.
We only stopped one time at a Flying J to get fuel and take advantage of their trailer services.

I had my laptop in the passenger seat so I could listen to episodes of The Simpsons and Family Guy as I drove; it really helped to keep me entertained as we rolled down the road.
I'm going to buy a power adaptor for my truck so I can keep my laptop's battery charged on the longer trips coming up.

We got to the South Park Mall south of downtown San Antonio around 4:30 p.m. We were thrilled that the mall in San Antonio is far superior to the one we spent two weeks beside in Arlington. This one actually has stores and restaurants inside, and there is plenty of stuff around the lot as well.

When I exited my truck and walked over to my trailer's door, I heard a loud hissing noise. After quickly establishing that an angry snake wasn't at my feet, I checked my trailer tires.
Much to my dismay, I discovered a nail sticking out of my rear passenger side trailer tire.

I borrowed Ryan's jack, and I was able to get a spare on my house in no time. Luckily we are right between two businesses that should have no problem plugging the hole in my tire.

I spent my evening relaxing at home and catching up on my rental movies from Netflix.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Saturday, April 4 & Sunday, April 5: Arlington, TX


4/4/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I met our friend, Kelly, in the parking lot of a Walmart for a good ol' fashioned movie swap. I was giving back a few home movie VHS tapes that he gave me last week to convert to DVD, and he was giving me a Pierre Etaix DVD collection that I ordered and had shipped to his house.
The whole package trade off probably looked kinda shady to anyone paying enough attention; I was wondering why the police were tailing me for a few miles afterwards.....

I was glad I got to see Kelly one more time before we leave the area. He and his wife were going to come see our show this past Wednesday, but he has been laid low the whole week with kidney stones. Some people have all the fun!

I went to Irving, TX to meet Kelly, and near our rendezvous point was an Argentinean bakery that I have been to before with Ryan and Tatiana. I called them up to take their orders, and then I picked up some baked goods to take back with me.

We had great audiences for the shows tonight. There were even two circus performers, Fletcher Runyon and Shane Johnson, in the crowd for the first show.

After work I went over to Ryan's house to dye Easter eggs. Nico invited me and Julius Espana, who performs with his family in the Russian Swing act, to join in the fun.


We colored the traditional chicken eggs, as well as quail eggs that Ryan and Tatiana picked up from the local Asian market. Those looked awesome by the time we were finished with them!


After successfully dyeing the Easter eggs, we ate Chinese food. It was an East meets West kind of thing!


4/5/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma, Hannah, Sammie, and Amy picked me up in the Dancer-mobile, aka Moulin Rouge, and we went to have breakfast at the French cafe, La Madeleine.
I was worried the place would be packed because of Easter Sunday, but there were not many customers at all.
It was really nice to have some company for my Sunday pre-show ritual.


Back at the lot I took over my Easter gifts for Nico and Abrianna. Nico essentially got a basket full of sugar (which Ryan and Tatiana were thrilled about, I'm sure), and Abrianna got a stuffed duck (I wanted to start her love of feathered fowl at a very early age).



Abrianna's first instinct when she felt the duck was to stick it in her mouth. As she tried to chow down on it, Ryan exclaimed, "She IS a Chinese baby!"

The shows today were a bit rough for us, especially the 2:00 p.m. performance. The biggest laugh we got in the water gag was when a man in the front row jumped up from his seat and ran when he thought Ryan was going to throw a bucket of water on him and his family.

I gave the motivational speech before the third show. For my Easter themed presentation, I made an appearance as that wascally wabbit, Stevie Cottontail.



I hopped around backstage and gave Easter candy goody bags to everyone who assembled for the speech.
I was a little worried because right before I changed into my clever disguise to dispense sweets, the dancers were all saying how sick they were from eating candy all day.
Luckily, as you can tell from all the happy faces, you can never have too much chocolate on Easter.


During the third show I was chatting with an usher while we was waiting to perform the water gag. She had seen me scouting the audience and asked what I was doing.
Me: "I'm looking for a bald guy whose head we can clean in the vacuum gag."
Usher: "Why are you looking? Don't the other clowns do that act?"
Me: "What other clowns?"
Usher: "You know, the guys with the wigs."
Me: "That's us......"
Usher: "Really? I thought there were two sets of clowns."

This really made me wonder how many audience members don't realize that Ryan and I are the same clown duo appearing in the first and second halves.

I was pretty down about the whole thing until a little boy walked by us before the vacuum gag (when we're wearing our wigs). He commented on how much he liked when we spit water on ourselves.
How funny that a five year old who has seen the show once can tell that we are the same clowns in all our acts, while an usher who has seen every show for two weeks cannot.


After work there was a taco party in the tent for the whole company. The delicious food was provided by our Arlington sponsor, Taqueria Saltillo. 


Muchas gracias, amigos!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Thursday, April 2 & Friday, April 3: Arlington, TX


4/2/15- 7:30 p.m.

I had a low key day at home except for a trip to pick up Easter goodies for Nico, Abrianna, and the cast.

We had a bigger, more enthusiastic crowd for tonight's show than we have had for the past few days, which made our job a heck of a lot easier.

By the end of the show, Ryan was worried because of an incident that happened during the beginning of the vacuum gag. While we are in the seats playing tag, Ryan was looking for me and picked up a bucket of popcorn to check if I was underneath it.
When he put it back down on the seat, it slipped out of his hands and spilled the majority of the popcorn onto the floor.
Ryan then tried to make a bit out of it, which made the people around him laugh, but it was tough to gauge the reaction of the couple that had bought the popcorn.

It turned out that Ryan had nothing to worry about because that same couple were the first two people in line to get a picture with us after the show.
And they didn't even try to vindictively stab us or anything!
I think that it is safe to say that they weren't too miffed about the accident.


4/3/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

During our days off in Arlington, Ryan and I found out about a new compound that we can coat our foam props with.
A shop that supplies the product is in Farmer's Branch, which is about 21 miles from Arlington. Today I set out to pick up a trial size sample of the compound before we shell out the big bucks for gallons of it.

I drove all the way to the shop only to find out that they were closed for Good Friday. I had completely forgotten about what day it was, and it never occurred to me to call ahead before wasting my time and fuel on a pointless trip.

The one positive from the trip was that I found an awesome restaurant nearby called the Twisted Root Burger Co.
Their menu promised a wide variety of game meats you could select instead of boring ol' beef.


The location I visited only had buffalo and buffison (buffalo and venison), so I ordered a buffison burger with chipotle sauce, goat cheese, and bacon. It was amazing! (But probably could have been even more amazing with beaver or kangaroo meat!)

We had small crowds for the two shows, but there was one highlight for me. Ryan's uncle, Mike, and cousin, Brandon, came to watch the first performance, and they brought two Xbox 360 video games for me to borrow.
Whoo hoo!

After work I got all gussied up and went to a belated birthday party for Laura, who just returned to the States this afternoon after being in England for the past week and a half sorting out her visa. 
Her boyfriend, Visan, arranged for the party to be in a event room at Redneck Heaven, a country themed bar and restaurant where the waitresses are all scantily clad. 
Marcos, our ringmaster, was commenting to me about the name of the restaurant, and I told him that the owners changed it to Redneck Heaven because its original name, Redneck Hell, drove away all of their potential clients.
I don't think he believed me.

When I wasn't making stupid jokes to Marcos, I spent the majority of the evening talking to Albia, who has been Laura's replacement in the swing act while we've been in Arlington.
In addition to performing several different aerial and acrobatic acts, she also loves clowning. I guess she wanted to have at least one job in the circus where she would be well respected.....

I had a great time at the party; I'm really glad Visan was able to get the event room for us since it was secluded from the loud craziness in the actual restaurant.


Thursday, April 2, 2015

Tuesday, March 31 & Wednesday, April 1: Arlington, TX


3/31/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I went to the fancy mall a few miles away from the lot to get a gift for Laura. Her birthday was last week, but she has been in England sorting out her visa and wasn't able to celebrate it with all of us.
Visan is throwing a party for her when she gets back on Friday, so I picked up a Teavana gift card to give her from me and Ryan. (Is it racist to assume that Laura loves tea simply because she is from England?)

While I was at the mall I ran into Chagy, who is a clown in the area. We hung out together last year when we were in Fort Worth, and I was very surprised to bump into him at the mall since he is always traveling around the world.
He told me that he is in fact leaving on Thursday for his next trip.

I had such a great day meandering around Arlington with no particular purpose in mind.
Besides my vacant minded wanderings, I also accomplished a couple of useful tasks. I went to Hobby Lobby to pick up velcro for the new blueprints we are making for the carpenter gag, and I also took my truck to get an overdue oil change.

Jim Royal, one of the owners of Kelly Miller, came to see our performance tonight. I was so happy that Jim got to see us work as he wasn't able to catch the show last year.
Now I just hope Mr. North can come see us once again, as the only time he saw us was our very first performance with Vazquez.
We've come a loooooooooong way since then!

Diego, an old friend of Fusco family who is on the crew of the Shrine Circus, also came to tonight's show with his girlfriend.


After work Ryan and I picked up pizzas and all of us visited in Ryan's house.


4/1/15- 7:30 p.m.

I got up this morning at 7:00 a.m. to get ready for our television publicity. Ryan, Alexa, Lidia, and I left the circus at 8:00, and because of rush hour traffic, it took almost an hour to get to the UNIVISION station located in downtown Dallas.

We got to the lobby of the station and waited for our contact person; she arrived only to tell us that we weren't scheduled to be on the air today.
Apparently Vazquez went through an outside PR company to set up this television appearance, and the company totally dropped the ball and didn't get the proper information to the station.
Either that or Alexa totally pulled off an excellent April Fool's Day prank against us.

Ryan and I were upset about the waste of our time and make up, but we weren't mad at Alexa and Lidia.
We simply told them that if they took us to a Panera Bread for breakfast, all would be forgiven and we wouldn't cause bodily harm to anyone.

A little later in the morning I received some bad news about my tax return which didn't help to improve my mood.

Finally in the evening there was a silver lining to the dark cloud that was my April Fool's Day.
I was happy that Ryan and I had friends visiting coming to see the show: Kyle Clay, who is a firefighter/clown in the Fort Worth area, came with his wife, Anna. Kyle did us a huge favor and brought us 18 slabs of styrofoam that we can use for making props.
Also visiting this evening was Mark Renfro, former Ringling clown and Clown College make up instructor, and Brenda Marshall, another clown in the Fort Worth area.

After the show I joined our friends for a bite to eat, and they were nice enough to buy my meal.
After my frustrating morning it was so great to unwind and laugh with clown friends.

Ryan and his family wanted to join us, but Abrianna was fussy after her recent vaccinations. On Ryan's behalf, I told Mark that just this past winter we discovered that it was him that taught Ryan to carve foam props.
Back in 1998 the Discovery Channel did a fantastic documentary on Ringling's Winter Quarters in which Mark talked about carving clown props out of foam and then coating them in liquid latex.

Ryan saw the special as an impressionable youth, and he owes his knowledge of prop making to Mark.
It's pretty cool that in our business we get to become friends with people that inspired us as kids.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sunday, March 29 & Monday, March 30: Arlington, TX


3/29/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning I went to La Madeleine, a French cafe, for breakfast. Our friend, Mark Renfro, introduced us to the restaurant while we were in town last year, and I've been looking forward to eating there again for awhile now.
Before heading back to the circus to begin the three show day, I visited a Half Price Books as well.

It was a beautiful day; I enjoyed the sun and warm weather whenever I wasn't inside the tent.
The circus did great business today, especially for the last two shows.

Manny Casalino, a former Cole Bros. clown who performs with his family in the DFW area, came to watch our second performance.
He brought keychains for me and Ryan that look like little clown shoes. When Ryan saw his gift, he said, "Oh good! Now I can kick little people's butts!"



Jose Alberto Vazquez gave today's motivational speech before the third show. He was really worried about giving his first speech, but he did a great job.
He started off by telling everyone that he didn't want to be known as the guy who gave the worst motivational speech ever, so he said that he was going to give everyone a $100 bill just for listening. He then pulled a wad of hundreds out of his pocket to show to us.
Later on, he could tell from our laughs and cheers that we were enjoying the speech, so he concluded by saying, "Since you enjoyed my speech so much, I guess I don't need to give everyone the money."
Well played, sir!


3/30/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I went to a really ghetto laundromat. When I was loading my clothes into the washers, I noticed a thin, completely soaked, rubber glove on the edge of one of the machines.
That was disgusting enough, but I about burst a blood vessel in my brain when I discovered that someone had put it in with my whites during the washing cycle.


Our friend, Rob Lok, grew up in Arlington, and his parents still live here. Last year when we were visiting with Rob in NY, we asked if he had any old props or wardrobe he was looking to unload.
He told us that when we got to Arlington we were welcome to have his Clown College and Ringling agent suits, which we were very excited about.

In the early afternoon we visited Mr. and Mrs. Lok and picked up Rob's two costumes, as well as a short, beginner pair of peg stilts for Nico.
Thank you, Rob!

The Loks pointed us in the direction of an Asian shopping center where I joined Ryan and his family for lunch at a Chinese BBQ restaurant.
We then went next door to an Asian supermarket. An Asian woman wearing one of the conical paddy hats was standing outside with her groceries.
Nico pointed and yelled at the top of his lungs (as only a four year old can), "Look! Just like a Chinese guy!"

The Vazquez band began working on our new music today. I enjoyed listening to them practice, and I can't wait to use the music in the show.

Many of our friends from the Shrine Circus came to watch our show tonight. We had a small crowd, so I was happy that our friends were such a supportive audience.

After work we visited with everyone in Ryan's house, and then Ryan, his family, and I joined our clown friends, Larry, Henry, and Orlando for dinner.