Friday, July 31, 2015

Monday, July 27-Thursday, July 30: Melrose Park, IL


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

This morning I went to see the movie, "Pixels", with Luis and his wife. I'd already read nothing but bad reviews about the film, yet I still knowingly bought a ticket (at least it was really cheap because we caught a matinee showing). I will say it wasn't as awful as people have made it out to be, but it was painful every time there was a scene that was supposed to be funny. At least I enjoyed all of the mindless video game action sequences.

After the movie I had to go by Lowe's to pick up some more supplies for Martin to use as he continues to weld the metal for Pompeyo's dog props. I also went by the grocery store to get the supplies I needed to cook for the show party tonight.

During the show this evening, Ryan and I were running around in the audience playing tag at the beginning of the vacuum gag.
As Ryan was chasing me I ran up a set of stairs just as a woman was coming down. I quickly darted behind her to hide from Ryan, but I was unaware until it was too late that she was leading her toddler down the stairs behind her.
The little boy saw me charging towards him, and he let out a bloodcurdling scream of terror. I quickly turned around just as Ryan was catching up to me. There was nowhere to go, because I had Ryan blocking me in one direction, and the woman and screaming child blocking me the other way on the narrow staircase.
I hugged Ryan in a death grip and began screaming in fear, trying to get us as close to the seats as possible so the woman could get her kid out of there.

I don't know what planet the lady was on, but it didn't seem to be ours. She just stood there for what seemed like forever, as her child continued to scream, completely paralyzed with fear.
Finally Memo started talking over the microphone, saying things like, "Poor clowns. Ma'am please take that little boy away, he's scaring the clowns."
Finally the lady began to slowly go away with the kid, who I am sure will now never be able to be around a clown again.

I fully expected the audience to hate us after that episode, but the whole situation made the crowd change their reception from the lukewarm response we got in the first half to absolutely peeing themselves over us in the second half.
Buncha sickos....

After work there was an International Night party outside of the tent.


Everyone was encouraged to bring a dish representing a different country, and since I am American, I decided to make something symbolic of our great nation. I chose macaroni and cheese! 'Merica!

I made the macaroni and cheese casserole that my Nana has made for me ever since I was a little kid. It took an hour to cook the dish, so everyone had already started eating by the time I made it over.
I'm proud to say my contribution was a smashing success, and it was gone in a matter of minutes.

I enjoyed sampling all of the delicious food that people prepared, and Ryan and I had a great conversation with Mecho about religion and circuses in Europe.


7/28/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I went out to do laundry, and then I had to go by Home Depot to buy even more supplies for Pompeyo's dog props.

Later in the day Ryan and I went out to scan some banner designs at a FedEx for our friend Kevin Venardos' show, and then we went to a different Home Depot to pick up some more supplies.

We had a small crowd for the show tonight, so performing was really a chore. This coming week was added to the schedule at the last minute, so obviously the word is not out yet that we are staying until August 3rd. I really hope business picks up, or this will be a long week.


7/29/15- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon I drove over to Berwyn, IL to check out two of my favorite stores in the area, Horrorbles and Reel Art.
Horrorbles contains all kinds of horror movie memorabilia: movies, books and magazines, posters, art, toys, and models.
I had a great time going through boxes of old Fangoria magazines. I picked out several issues from the late 1980s and early 1990s contained articles that tickled my fancy.

Reel Art is right next door to Horrorbles, and it has the same kind of merchandise as its neighbor, but pertaining to all genres of film and television.
I didn't find anything I wanted at Reel Art (the prices were considerably higher), but I did enjoy browsing through all of the shelves.

My clown friend, Beth Grimes, came to visit this evening. Before the show she told me about the Baraboo Circus Parade and the first day of Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp, both events that she had recently participated in.

Tonight was not my night as far as the show was concerned. We had another small, unenthusiastic crowd, and to make matters worse, I could not stop hurting myself!
First, in the blackout after the water gag I was running pell mell into the curtain when I crashed right into our box prop.
During Intermission, I was carrying our water mat outside to dry it off when I slammed my shin into the edge of the metal cart containing the mat for Duo Exxtrem's act.
Most embarrassing of all, as I was returning to the men's dressing room after one of our acts, my big, stupid clown shoe caught under the edge of one of the pieces of carpet, and I fell flat on my face in front of everybody. (That was at least the biggest laugh I got this evening)

On the bright side, after the show Beth was nice enough to treat me to dinner, where we talked about clowns and silent film comedians.


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

While I was out running errands this morning I noticed that whenever I would flip the switch for my left turn signal, the clicker was going at a much faster rate than usual.
At one of my stops I got out to investigate and saw that the rear light for the turn signal was out.

I drove to a nearby auto parts store and bought a replacement light. I was able to change out the lights right there in the parking lot, without assistance!
That's a pretty impressive feat for a mechanical bonehead like me!
I gotta tell you, doing an automotive repair all by myself made me feel so manly that I promptly tore a phone book in half, crushed a beer can on my head, and punched a shark in the nose!

Since I've been in Melrose Park my friend, Lisa, has recommended that I try Johnnie's Beef, one of her favorite food stands from her high school days.
It is only a mile and a half from the lot, but I was always afraid to drive over there because it seemed parking would be tricky for my truck.

Today I just decided to go for it, perhaps encouraged by my sudden rush of testosterone. I was happy to discover that parking was plentiful, and I had nothing to worry about.

I got an Italian beef sandwich with hot and sweet peppers that was absolutely amazing. (I'm craving one in the worst way as I write this entry).
I finished it off with a cool, refreshing lemon Italian ice. What a great meal!

We had a much better audience for the show tonight, thank God. And they were having fun!

After the show a family came up to us, and the patriarch told us, "You guys are f***ing hilarious!"
Ryan and I were touched, and backstage we were discussing how much we love it when people find it necessary to use expletives to properly describe how funny they think we are.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Friday, July 24-Sunday, July 26: Melrose Park, IL


7/24/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I ran out to do errands, and while I was out I stopped by Portillo's to get a couple of hots dogs with all the fixin's (pickle, tomato, onions, relish, peppers, and mustard) and a cake shake, a milkshake with a slice of chocolate cake mixed into it. Yeah, baby!

Martin began welding the steel to make Pompeyo's dog props today. I picked up a few supplies he needed as part of my errand running.

As I was coming back to the lot I noticed that there is a cool new banner hanging on a fence in front of the lot:

Now our pictures are displayed on both units of Vazquez. Wah ha ha ha ha!!!

After the first show's carpenter gag I was in the dressing room cooling off before I had to go back into the tent for the Intermission announcement.
I noticed that the music for the horse act was going on for a long time, so I went into the backstage tent to see if I could hear what was going on.

All of a sudden I heard Memo saying something over the microphone during a part where he normally doesn't talk.
I figured something was up, so I went into the curtain area to see what had happened. Just as I was going to the curtain, all of the horses were being led out.
It wasn't until I was out in the ring that I was able to see why the act was cut short. Apparently a couple of the horses were fighting and knocked over one of the front sections of ring curb.
Luckily no horses or audience members were hurt, and the section of curb was repaired by the start of the second half.

During the second Intermission announcement we had two guest ringmasters, a couple of local radio DJs that talked, and talked, and talked......and then for variety, they talked some more!
I was not afraid to display my annoyance and boredom during their presentation, and the audience members sitting close to me were cracking up.
It was such an awesome feeling to get so many laughs from performing such subtle, impromptu comedy. I needed that fix.


7/25/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I had to run to Lowe's to pick up some more supplies for making Pompeyo's new dog props, and I also got my two propane tanks filled while I was out.

On Monday night our show is having an International Night party where everyone is asked to bring a dish from a different country.
I decided that I am going to represent America by making my Nana's macaroni and cheese recipe. 

I made a test batch of it today to share with Ryan and his family. The finished product needed a little more salt, but other than that it was mighty tasty. Not as good as when my Nana makes it, of course, but not too far off.

One unfortunate side effect of cooking in my trailer is that when I use my convectional oven I have to turn off my air conditioning. The mac and cheese casserole took an hour to cook, and it was a mighty hot day to be sitting in my trailer with no AC for such an extended period of time.

I was afraid that heat would zap my energy for the two shows tonight, but I ended up being fine.


7/26/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I went to breakfast at the Egg'clectic Cafe, which is a restaurant I used to love to visit on Kelly Miller.
I was happy to discover that there are three locations in the Chicago suburbs, because the one I used to visit wasn't exactly parking friendly for my truck.

After dropping Emma back off at the hotel, I went back to the lot and crawled straight back into bed. I had a tough time waking up to go to breakfast, so I felt I needed a little extra shut eye before our three shows.

Unfortunately, during my hour nap I had two extremely realistic and terrifying dreams. In the first I woke up and was taking my time getting ready, having a cup of coffee and puttering around. All of a sudden I glanced at the clock and saw that it was one minute until show time. Just then I could hear the show's theme song coming from the tent.
I immediately started slamming on my make up, thinking "Well, I'll miss opening, but at least I can make the water gag."
Just then I "woke up" from that dream, to realize that I was blind. I couldn't see anything besides a bright white light.
I stepped outside of my trailer, but all I could hear were my ducks (that should have been my first clue that I was dreaming, since I haven't had ducks in a year and a half), and the sounds of traffic going by. I started yelling for help, but nobody came to my aid.
Finally I stumbled back inside my trailer and groped around on my bed until I found my phone. Using the voice technology, I told my phone to call Ryan. When Ryan answered I began screaming, "I CAN'T SEE! I CAN'T SEE!"
At first Ryan couldn't hear me, but when he realized what was going on, he nonchalantly told me that he was off the lot, so maybe I could find someone else to help me.
Just as I was yelling, "I CAN'T SEE!" one last time, my alarm went off and I jerked awake, for real this time.

Luckily the three shows today weren't nearly as scary as my nightmares!

Before the third show I gave the motivational speech. It was all about how our perspective on life can make a huge difference:


Everyone was so complimentary of how clever my speech was. It was a shame I had to tell them the truth that I had just stolen it from Facebook.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Monday, July 20-Thursday, July 23: Melrose Park, IL


7/20/15- 7:30 p.m.

Around lunchtime I attempted to walk to Johnnie's Beef, a hot dog spot that came highly recommended to me by my friend, Lisa.
It was only about a two mile walk from the lot, but I was unable to get there by foot because of road construction that closed the sidewalks and narrowed the road's shoulders fairly early in the journey.
I would have just driven there in the first place, but parking would have been very tricky with my big, awkward truck.

I'm not sure why, but I was absolutely worn out when it came time to do our show tonight; I just was not feeling it.
Naturally, as soon as the show was over I was wired, and I couldn't get to sleep. I hate when that happens!


7/21/15- 7:30 p.m.

I woke up around 4 a.m. with a splitting headache. I don't know if I slept on my neck wrong, or if I was dehydrated, but the pain kept me from getting back to sleep.
I took about 3 ibuprofen tablets, and then I put my head under the shower until the hot water ran out. That soothed my headache enough to get me back to sleep, and I felt much better when I woke up.

This afternoon I joined Ryan and his family, and Luis and his wife to go see the "Minions" movie at the theater across the street.
Nico is a huge Minion fan, and he was enthralled by the movie. I was happy about how funny the film was; I expected to laugh, but not as much as I did.

We had a great, enthusiastic audience for the show tonight, which made work a breeze.


7/22/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I was picked up at the lot by my friend, Don Lansu. In addition to bringing frozen Lou Malnati's pizzas and a stack of "Circus Reports" for me and Ryan, Don also took me to lunch at Russell's, a great barbecue place.

Don and I ate some yummy ribs, and then we sat and caught up for a few hours. Don and I first met at Moosecamp, a clown camp in Minnesota, back in 2001, and he has kept in touch with me through the years and visited me on every circus I've been with.
It was so great to have a nice, long visit with him today.

We had another great audience for the show tonight. In fact, business has been so good that our run here in Melrose Park has been extended by another week.
That is great news for me, because I love this location so much more than the ghetto lot we'll be playing in our next town.


7/23/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning I drove to the hotel where some of the performers are staying. I met up with the dancers, and they gave me lift to downtown Chicago.
Emma has been using an app called SpotHero to find good, cheap parking in the city. She found a valet service in the northern part of downtown that only cost $14 (as opposed to the garage right next door that charged $20....for the first half hour!) I was so grateful that the girls let me tag along in their car, because finding parking for my truck would not have been so easy or cheap.

Grace, Hannah, and Sammie headed straight to the beach, but Emma and I set off to walk around and enjoy the city a bit.

We walked down the Magnificant Mile, and we also looked around River North, which had one of the biggest McDonald's restaurants I'd ever seen.


Emma and I had lunch at Pizano's Pizza and Pasta, which had fine food, but was a bit too touristy for my tastes.
Our deep dish pizza did satisfactorily feed us, though. We split a small one and it was just enough to fill us up without making us feel stuffed.

We were right next door to Millennium Park, and Emma had never been, so we quickly walked around as I pointed out the highlights to her.
Her favorite part was The Bean, which is a landmark I always love to see when I'm in Chicago.


On the way back to the car we attempted to stop at The Doughnut Vault, which I found out about on a  "50 Things You Need To Eat In Chicago" list.
Unfortunately, we visited late in the day, and the shop is only open until they sell out of the doughnuts they make in the morning. One way to make people really want your product is to deny them having it. Now I NEED one of those doughnuts!!!

Emma and I ended up walking around 8 miles today, and once I got back to my trailer and actually had a chance to sit down, I discovered I was absolutely exhausted!

Luckily I got my second wind in time for the show, which had almost a full house. The audience was fantastic, which also helped give me energy.

I was perturbed in the vacuum gag when my leg fell between stairs in the bleachers. I'm upset that that is an issue, because it is one thing if it happens to me, but an entirely different one if it happens to a sue happy audience member.

I limped my way through the rest of the gag, which I'm sure was noticeable to the crowd. Luckily the damage wasn't lasting; after I shook off the pain I just had a small scraped up area on my left leg.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Friday, July 17-Sunday, July 19: Melrose Park, IL


7/17/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

The crew was mostly finished setting up the big top last night (mostly), so Ryan and I were able to get our props loaded into backstage fairly early today.

It was a hot and humid day, but I didn't care, because they finally got air conditioners installed in our tent!
It really made a difference for the shows. I could feel the change in temperature as soon as I went from the big top into the backstage tent. More importantly it made the audiences happier, and it made doing the gags so much easier. I actually had energy to be funny!

Memo Vazquez is on our unit now (I think for the rest of the tour), and he took over ringmastering duties from Jose Alberto.
It was amazing to me that he jumped right into the show and hit all the announcements without rehearsal. I don't know how he can remember everything from last year while he's been doing the other unit's show all season.


7/18/15- 9:00 p.m.

This morning I got a photo of the tent texted to me from my friend, Dan. He was right next door at Target, so I walked over to visit with him for a bit.
Dan was a clown on Ringling with me and Ryan, and he is currently in town with his girlfriend, Lisa, looking for apartments.

In the afternoon I walked to the grocery store next to the lot to pick up a few things. When I left the trailer I noticed ominous storm clouds in the sky, and I prayed that the oncoming rain would hold out until I got back to my trailer.
Luckily, it was only sprinkling when I was walking back to the lot, but as soon as I closed my trailer door it began to pour.

There was a lot of rain, some thunder and lightning, and a little bit of wind, but nothing too extreme. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, there was a HUGE gust of wind. I got scared and ran to my windows to see what was going on.
I was shocked when I saw that there was an enormous rip in the big top, and the rain just continued to come down in buckets, now soaking everything inside the tent.


When everything calmed down I went over to the big top to survey the damage. What happened was the wind caused the tent to bounce, and the canvas caught on the jagged edges of two of the towers comprising the curtain set. There was a small tear on one side of the set, but the rip on the other side is the one that really opened up.


Starting around 3:30 p.m. every crew member and performer on the lot was in the tent working together to repair the damage.
The first order of business was getting all of the lighting and sound equipment down, as well as the set.
As we were doing that, some of the crew members were preparing new strips of canvas to patch the holes.

The cupola of the tent had to be lowered enough so that the ripped section of the big top could be removed.



The torn section was then taken laid out on the ground, and people began to use a heat gun to heat weld the new strips over the tears.
It began to sprinkle again while this was happening, so several men held up a tarp to keep the work area dry.


It was clear that we were not going to have anything ready in time for the first performance at 6:00 p.m., but our goal was to still have the 9:00 p.m. show.
As the evening wore on, it became apparent that the patch was not going to repaired in time for the late show, so the cupola was raised back up, and we all helped put back the set as well as the lighting and sound equipment.

I always work in black and white. It makes everything more nostalgic.

We performed our 9:00 p.m. show with a missing section of canvas, but luckily the weather cooperated and it was a lovely night.


And as an added bonus, the aerial acts looked really cool from outside.


We performed to a big, enthusiastic audience, and at the end of the show Memo asked the audience to stay for a moment longer while he told them what had happened in the afternoon. He asked them to give us all a big hand for working so hard to make the show happen.

I really was proud of how everybody pulled together as a team today to overcome adversity.


7/19/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning my friends, Dan and Lisa, picked me and Emma up at the lot to take us to brunch. We went to a restaurant called Maya Del Sol in Oak Park that had excellent food.
Dan, Lisa, and I all worked together on Ringling, and I always enjoy staying with them when I visit New York City.
They will be moving to Chicago (Lisa's hometown) soon, as they found an apartment they want while they were in town visiting Lisa's family.

Back at the lot I went into the tent to see if the crew needed help with anything, but they were done and ready for the three shows. (I have excellent timing like that!)
The crew stayed up late last night and got up early this morning to get the rips completely fixed and get the missing piece of canvas back onto the big top.
When they were done, everything looked as good as new!


During the first show I couldn't find the rip cord to start the little car that we use to enter for the carpenter gag.
I always start the engine about 30 seconds before our entrance, but the cord was stuck under something, and we are in the dark while we wait in the curtain, so I couldn't find it.

Ryan pushed the car into the ring as I sat behind the wheel and steered. When he got the car into position, Ryan collapsed onto the floor from exhaustion.
He stood up just in time to get clocked by the anchor that I throw out from the back of the car.
Big time comedy, baby!

I gave the third show motivational speech today. It is an idea I had a couple of months ago, and it has taken me that long to properly prepare it.
I wrote a parody of the song "We're Doing A Sequel" from the film, "Muppets: Most Wanted". My version was called "We're Doing A Third Show".

I wish I had had the forethought to have someone record the whole thing, but Lily pulled out her phone about halfway through and recorded some of it.
Most of my jokes were at the beginning of the song, but at least you'll get the general idea.

video

I was happy that people enjoyed my presentation; I got many compliments afterwards, which felt great.
Unfortunately I am giving the speech again next week, and I know there is no way I can top this one.

One of my lyrics in the song was, "We're doing a third show. I'd rather have kidney stones; 'cause everybody in the crowd will be on their phones."
Sure enough, there was a woman sitting towards the back of the ring that was on her phone during the carpenter gag.
As we exited the tent we passed right by her. I stopped and said, "Lady, unless you're liking us on Facebook, you should get off your phone."
I got a big laugh from her, her friends, and Memo, who was standing nearby.

After the shows there was a small barbecue over by Jose Alberto's trailer. I went over for awhile to have some amazing food and chat with folks for a bit.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Tuesday, July 14-Thursday, July 16: Melrose Park, IL


7/14/15- Travel Day to Melrose Park, IL

This morning we continued the 520 mile jump to Melrose Park. Since we drove almost 230 miles last night, we didn't have too terribly far to go today.

The state of Iowa won a few points in my book because we discovered that many of their rest areas on the Interstate have RV dump stations. For free!
In your face, Flying Js in this area that don't have dump stations for some stupid reason!

Once we started getting closer to the Chicago area we began running into toll booths. We pulled into the first one and paid the toll, and about 20 miles down the road we pulled into the second one.
I had a very disorienting sense of deja vue, because not only was I asked to pay the same price, but the toll booth attendant looked incredibly similar to the one we had previously dealt with.
For a minute I was very confused, and I wondered if I had just completed a huge circle.
I called Ryan after we left the toll booth, and he told me he had experienced the exact same feeling. Maybe the two women were sisters....or the first woman is really fast and enjoys playing pranks on unsuspecting motorists.

My GPS changed its mind on which route we should take when we were only a few miles from the lot, and we ended up going through a residential area, which made for some tight turns and white knuckle driving.

We got to the lot, right next to the Maywood Race Park, around 5:30 p.m. I remembered playing this same location five years ago with Kelly Miller.


7/15/15- Melrose Park, IL- Day Off!

Our trailers were parked around 11:00 a.m., and as soon as I got my house set up I went out to do laundry.
I drove west of Melrose Park to Bloomingdale, another area I remembered from our Kelly Miller days. There I visited a Half Price Books and an Oberweis, where I had ice cream and picked up some fresh milk.

In the evening I took a two mile walk from the lot to visit Gene & Jude's, which has been voted one of the top hot dog spots in the Chicago area.
In addition to all the usual toppings: mustard, relish, onions, and peppers, Gene & Jude's also tops their dogs with french fries.

On the way to Gene & Jude's I passed by Triton College, which is the home to a circus program and the Triton Trouper Circus.
As I got closer to my destination, I heard 1950's rock and roll music coming from across the river, so after my meal I walked over to investigate.
There were three musicians set up on a stage in a little park having a concert. Townspeople had brought lawn chairs and blankets so they could sit and enjoy the music.

When I crossed over the river I also noticed signs for a Duck Race happening on the Des Plains River on Saturday. Unfortunately I won't be able to attend since the race is happening too close to our first showtime.


7/16/15- Melrose Park, IL- Day Off!

This morning I joined Ryan and his family on a trip up to Baraboo, WI, the boyhood home of the Ringling brothers.

We arrived around lunchtime, and we dined with Corissa, Tatiana's sister-in-law, and her son, Eli.
After lunch Tatiana, Corissa, and the kids headed back to Corissa's house, and Ryan and I headed over to the International Clown Hall of Fame & Research Center.

Unfortunately Greg DeSanto, the Executive Director of the ICHOF, is in MA for the World Circus Summit, but our friend, Neal Skoy, took time out of his schedule as the clown at Circus World Museum to give a tour in the afternoon.
Ryan and I really enjoyed seeing all of the new exhibits that Greg has installed since last year, as well as going through different files and photos.

Ryan, Neal, and I headed back to Circus World Museum where we met up with Ryan's family. We all headed over to the big top to see the afternoon circus performance.
It was good to see our friend, Larry Stout, who is the musician for the show. We work with Larry every December on the Christmas tour.
Circus World has a fun show this summer, and Neal's clowning was as hilarious as ever.

After the show we were able to see our friend, Scott O'Donnell, who is the Executive Director of the museum.
He took us around the park before it closed for the day, and he showed us some of the new exhibits.
We also got to visit with Dave SaLoutos, who is the Performance Director and ringmaster of the big top show.

Ryan, his family, and I joined Scott, Neal, Adrianna and Bobby Parker, and Irina Poema on a trip to the Wisconsin Dells to have dinner at Famous Dave's BBQ.
The food was great, and it was so much fun getting to hang out with Neal and Scott again. It's been 9 years since the four of us were in a Clown Alley together.

After dinner we said goodbye to everyone, but we hope to visit again on one of our other days off in Chicago.

We got back to the lot around midnight, and I was worn out from such a fun, full day.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Friday, July 10-Monday, July 13: Kansas City, MO


7/10/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I walked the two miles from the lot to downtown Kansas City. I checked out an area called the Power & Light District, which is across the street from the Sprint Center, where Ringling now plays.
I had an amazing lunch at the Brgr Kitchen & Bar. I tried the "Fast Cow" ("Apparently it wasn't fast enough!"-Ryan), which had an espresso encrusted beef patty topped with Wisconsin bleu cheese, bacon, arugula, and rosemary aioli.

When I left the restaurant I discovered that it had begun to rain, but luckily I had come prepared with my umbrella.
Still, the change in weather cut short my exploration of downtown, and I headed back to the circus.

Ryan and I finally got our props loaded into backstage late in the afternoon. The tent set up was running behind since we closed on a Tuesday instead of a Monday, and the crew had one less day to get everything prepared.

The rain made an already nasty, humid day even nastier. The dirt lot became a mud pit, and nothing was drying because of the mugginess.
Mecho summed up how disgusting everything felt when he said, "I want to throw my trailer away and get a new one."
By the end of the night I felt the same way about my sweat drenched costume and skull cap.

After work I watched the episode of the television show, "Zoo", that featured a segment filmed at the Kelly Miller Circus.
The television program seemed awful, so I just fast forwarded to the good parts, i.e. the parts with my friends.


7/11/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I went to a Party City store to buy a few props for my motivational speech on Sunday.
While I was out I wanted to try a famous BBQ restaurant in town, but when I got there I saw that the line for food was out the door.

Instead I headed over to a trendy little area that my friend, Rex, showed me the other day. I dined at the Blue Bird Cafe, where I spent a lot of money on a small portion of decent food.

I had much better luck down the block at a French creperie and coffee house.
In addition to a yummy Nutella and banana crepe, I got to meet that sugary superstar, Strawberry Shortcake!


I saw several women walking around the area dressed as Strawberry Shortcake, Little Bo Peep, or some variation thereof.
I'm not sure what the occasion was....maybe that's just how you have a good time on a Saturday afternoon in Missouri!

It was another hot, humid day, and to make matters worse there was a semi trailer full of air conditioners sitting right outside the circus' perimeter fences.
The air conditioners just arrived in this town, but no one thought to bring the cables or accessories we need to actually work them.
D'OH!

I knew that it must be obvious how much the humidity was affecting us when a little girl came up to us after the first show and said, "You guys are really sweaty, aren't you?"
I'm not sure if it was the puddles underneath us, or the smell that gave us away.

My friend, Rex Nolen, came to the second show. I was very excited to perform for him, since he hasn't seen me work since I was sixteen and he was one of my instructors at Mooseburger Clown Arts Camp. I'd like to think there has been some improvement in that time.
Viśan told me that comedic daredevil Bello Nock was also in the audience, and sure enough, I spotted tall, orange hair sticking up in the VIP seating section when we went out to do opening.

Bello came backstage at Intermission to visit everyone; it turns out that he happened to be in town working an event at the ballpark in Kansas City, and so he was able to come see our show afterwards.

I was happy that Bello and Rex got to see us put on a great performance, much better than last night's 9:00 p.m. show, when the rain seemed to scare away any prospective audience members.


7/12/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I had breakfast at the Genessee Royale Bistro, which was just two blocks away from the lot.
We both had their fried chicken and bacon cheddar waffles, which were just as delicious as they sound!

Today was one of the hottest days of the week (which strangely seems to happen every Sunday, which is when we have three shows); in fact, right before the second show I checked my phone and found out that it felt like 107 degrees Fahrenheit.
Whoo hoo!

I gave the third show motivational speech today as "Captain Enthusiasm", and I gave inspirational advice in an extremely dry, monotone drone. I also used a party blower and confetti to contrast with my deadpan delivery.
Maybe it wasn't the best way to get everyone pumped up for our final show, but I made people laugh, and the character reflected how I felt about the day perfectly.

After the show I was taken out to dinner by Miseal, a local performer better known as Choo Choo the Clown.
He took me to a 24-hour diner downtown called Chubby's On Broadway.


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

This morning I met former Ringling clown, Terry Davolt, at First Watch, an excellent brunch restaurant.
Terry currently performs as "T. Texas Terry" at fairs with his comedy rope spinning cowboy show.
I had a great three hour visit with Terry, swapping tall tales and laughing the whole time.

Today was even hotter than yesterday. At one point it felt like it was 110 degrees.

I had many friends in the audience for our final performance in Kansas City. Terry and Rex both came with friends in tow, and Miseal came with homemade molé for me and Ryan to share.

Even with saying goodbye to everyone added onto my load out ritual, I was still able to leave the lot around an hour after the show's conclusion.

Ryan and I drove 230 miles before stopping at a Walmart in Newton, IA for the night.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Wednesday, July 8 & Thursday, July 9: Kansas City, MO


7/8/15- Day Off!

Ryan and I were able to get our trailers parked shortly after we woke up this morning. As soon as I got my house settled I called my friend, Rex Nolen, and he came to pick me up and take me to lunch at a nearby barbecue restaurant.
Rex was one of my instructors at Moosecamp, the clown school I attended in the summers of 2000 and 2001. We realized we hadn't seen each other in 14 years, so we had plenty of catching up to do.

After Rex dropped me back off at the lot I headed out to run errands. I did laundry and got my hair cut; in the same plaza as the salon I visited there was a Half Price Books, so of course I had to stop in there!
I had dinner before heading back to the lot. It was a good thing I spent all day out on the town, because when I got back around 9:00 p.m. there was still no power or water for us to hook up to.



7/9/15- Day Off!

This morning Ryan and I had a quick and easy television publicity with Alexa. We simply filmed an interview with the local UNIVISION station in front of the ticket wagon, and then we passed clubs around the reporter for one quick hit.
The time it took us to get ready was far longer than the amount of time we spent on camera.

There were two more Half Price Books in the area that I hadn't visited yet, so I made that my first priority after getting out of make up.

I then drove north of Kansas City to visit Zona Rosa, an outdoor shopping plaza that Casey took me to for my 27th birthday.
I was hoping to eat at an amazing Irish pub that we visited back then, but unfortunately it had since closed down.

While I was walking around Zona Rosa I got a call from Rex Nolen, and he told me that the Irish Pub, called O'Dowd's Little Dublin, was now located in a different part of Kansas City.

Rex picked me up in the evening, and we went to have dinner at O'Dowd's. I was able to have boxty, an Irish potato pancake stuffed with meat, which is the main reason I wanted to visit this particular restaurant.
It is near impossible to find boxty at the Irish pubs I run across on tour, so I am always thrilled when it is on the menu.

After dinner Rex drove me around downtown to point out different points of interest, and to give me some history on different areas of the city.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Sunday, July 5-Tuesday, July 7: Council Bluffs, IA


7/5/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I had breakfast at Le Peep, which was voted as Omaha, Nebraska's top breakfast spot for 2015.
Meh.
It was alright......I think I was spoiled by all of the amazing food I had in Denver.

It was incredibly humid today, and as the shows progressed I felt more and more sweaty and disgusting.

I was surprised that the audiences for the first two shows were so responsive considering how sweaty they must have been sitting in that hot tent.
Unfortunately the last audience was not enthusiastic at all about being at the circus, and so we ended the day on a down note.

Hannah gave the third show inspirational speech this week. She had all of us get into a big circle, and we all gave a shoulder rub to the person in front of us for a minute.
I told Claudie, who was giving me a massage, that she should feel lucky that it was before the show, rather than after, because I was considerably less moist right then.

After the shows there was a birthday party for Mecho, who is half of Duo Exxtrem. The festivities had to be moved inside the backstage tent because of the sudden onset of rain, but at least the change in weather brought about some relief from the humidity.



7/6/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I made a run to State Steel to pick up twenty eight twelve foot bars of steel square tubing that Ryan and I are going to use to make the dog props.

Pompeyo lent me his truck to pick up the order. The bars were placed in the back of the truck, but they were so long that they stuck out one corner of the truck bed by a few feet.
It was so stressful driving all the steel the 18 miles back to the circus. The whole drive I was afraid the steel would topple out of the truck, or that I would hit a passing vehicle with the sticks sticking out.

When I was just about a mile from the lot I glanced in the side mirror and about had a heart attack when I couldn't see the steel.
What had happened was I took a turn too sharp and all of the steel shifted from one part of the truck's bed to the other.
Boy was I relieved when I figured that out!

This afternoon we were told that we were adding one more day in Council Bluffs; I'm assuming since it is a short jump to Kansas City, MO, the next town.
I was happy because that meant that I had one more day to visit downtown Omaha, but I was sad that it meant we'd miss out on one night off this week.



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

Ryan, Nico, and I took a trip to downtown Omaha this morning. The first thing we did was check out the Heartland of America Park, which had a nice walking trail around a lake. The lake had a water fountain that shot water high into the air every few minutes.


There was also a big slide in the park that Nico wanted to go down. There were a lot of unruly kids going down the slide, and the little boy in front of us not only cut us in line, he was taking his sweet time to go down the slide.
He had a piece of cardboard to help him shoot down the metal slide even faster, but just as he was about to go he let go of the cardboard, which slid to the bottom without him.
The kid stood at the top of the slide yelling for someone to bring him his cardboard, which completely held up the line.
Just as I was about to suggest that he go down and get it himself, he recklessly ran down the slide and retrieved it.

Nico and I sat down and got ready to slide, but again the kid was taking his sweet time picking up the cardboard and moving off the slide. Apparently that is his talent: taking up space and getting in the way.

I mumbled to myself, "Any day now, kid", and then Nico yelled down, "Move it, please!"
I laughed the whole way down the slide.
The kid was angry at us, but at least Nico did say please!

We had lunch at a pizza parlor. Our slices were mediocre, and it took forever to get them.
Luckily the Omaha food scene was redeemed by a visit to Ted and Wally's for ice cream. I had a scoop of the Tecate and Lime flavor, which tasted just like the Mexican beer, and was just as refreshing on a sunny, summer day.

We had a small crowd for the show tonight (not surprising since this performance was added at the last minute), but surprisingly the crowd was really into us.
I was performing like I was completely out of my mind (must have been the Tecate in the ice cream), and the people were just eating it up.
I wish I had the energy to be that manic every show.

After the show I was able to get my trailer moved fairly quickly. I just then had to wait for Ryan since he had a trailer in front of his house.

We finally left the lot around midnight, and we drove the 181 miles to Kansas City, MO without stopping.
We were the first people to arrive at the lot around 4 a.m. Seconds after we parked, the Pompeyos and Carmelo arrived as well.
I was happy to crawl into bed and get some sleep after a long day.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Thursday, July 2-Saturday, July 4: Council Bluffs, IA


7/2/15- Day Off!

Last night Eddie texted me and Ryan to tell us about a last minute television publicity that had sprung up for Thursday afternoon at 1 p.m.

Ryan and I began getting ready, even though we were uncertain whether the event would happen due to the heavy rainfall and the fact that the big top was nowhere near being finished.

Sure enough, I had finished my make up, and I was just about to put my clown nose on when Alexa texted to tell me the television station had canceled the interview due to the weather.

Ryan and I were both upset that they waited until the last minute to cancel, which caused us to waste our make up and time on a day off, but there was nothing we could do.
Our only option was to get away from the circus and enjoy the rest of our free time.

Our first stop was a Half Price Books, which is usually a sure cure to keep me from going on an anger induced rampage.
I didn't find any books I wanted, but I did find an awesome Gremlins coffee mug.

We had lunch at a dim sum restaurant. It wasn't the best dim sum we've ever had, but then again I don't remember there being a city called Omaha in China.

I took Ryan to the Old Market area of downtown Omaha that I had explored a bit last night. We revisited the antique stores I had been to; in addition to all of the great treasures inside, Ryan enjoyed seeing all of the hand lettered signs in the different shops.

We checked out a great used book store that I had wanted to visit last night, but couldn't because it was closed.
The shop had such an amazing selection of titles that I could have easily spent a week thoroughly browsing through them.
I picked up the biography of Jim Henson that came out last year, as well as a book on Minsky's burlesque.

We worked up quite an appetite from all our walking and perusing, so we had ice cream at Ted & Wally's, and a cup of coffee from Scooter's.
Both were highly recommended establishments, but Ted & Wally's was especially superb. I had an ice cream flavor called "Float Like A Butterfly, Sting Like A Bee" that was orange ice cream with bee pollen, orange peel, and pound cake. Mmm mmm good!

While we were downtown I happened to spot a free paper that had "Weird Al" Yankovic written across the top.
"Weird Al" is the king of parodying popular music, and I've been a big fan since I was eleven.

I rushed over to read the paper and discovered that "Weird Al" was performing in Council Bluffs tonight, only two miles from the lot. What luck!
He was performing at Stir Cove, which is an outdoor concert venue at the Harrah's Casino consisting of a big grassy hill leading down to the main stage.

The venue was packed, and everyone who wasn't standing in front of the stage had brought lawn chairs or blankets to sit on.


We didn't realize it was an outdoor concert until we got there, so we just had to deal with having wet pants for the concert's duration. (The grass was wet from this morning's rain. We didn't wet ourselves. Well, I did.)

I was so happy I got to see "Weird Al" perform live. He puts on one hell of a show; he made a costume change after almost every number, and while he changed we were all entertained by hilarious television, music video, and movie clips starring or referring to Al.

This tour is promoting his newest album "Mandatory Fun", and although he performed several songs from it, he also pulled out many of his classics and fan favorites, such as "Fat", "Dare to Be Stupid", "Amish Paradise", and many more.


After the concert Ryan and I decided to check out the casino while we waited for the crowd leaving the venue to dissipate.
We each played a dollar on slot machines, and we both lost 80 cents of those dollars. I felt so alive!!!!!

As we were sitting in my truck waiting to leave the parking lot, we were treated to a nearby fireworks show.
That helped pass the time as we sat and waited for an opening in the line of cars leaving the casino.

It took forever to get off the casino grounds; I couldn't believe how many people were still leaving an hour after the concert. There was a steady line of cars that whole time.

Ryan and I had dinner at the Hooters near the lot to celebrate the end of an awesome day off.



7/3/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning I woke up at 6:30 a.m. for our radio publicity. Ryan and I were interviewed a couple of times between 7 and 8 a.m.
It was a very easy PR; even though the station was in Spanish, the DJ let me speak English, and he translated everything for the listeners.

After we finished our interviews Ryan and I went to an art store to buy more supplies for the dog props we are building.
Once that was finished I crawled back in bed and caught up on the sleep I missed out on thanks to this morning's publicity.

Later in the afternoon we loaded our props into backstage, and then we were ready for opening night.

I was pleasantly surprised at the turn out for the shows tonight. I honestly wasn't expecting many people because this is the first time Vazquez has played this market, and when you hear the names Omaha, NE and Council Bluffs, IA, your first thought usually isn't a large Latin American population.



7/4/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

This morning Ryan and I began celebrating America's independence the best way we knew how: by shopping at an Asian supermarket and then watching "3 Amigos", a movie about Mexico....

Again I was pleasantly surprised by the turnout for the first performance. July 4th is usually a terrible business day for the circus, and yet we always have multiple shows on that day, no matter what circus we're with.

The second performance was much more in line with what I was expecting: an incredibly small crowd (even using the word crowd is a stretch), and it seemed by their lack of enthusiasm that they would have much rather been barbecuing and watching fireworks than watching a circus.

Speaking of which, I was able to sit outside the lot's perimeter fence and watch fireworks during my downtime in the 9:00 p.m. show's second half, and after work Jose Alberto invited me and Ryan over to his trailer for a small 4th of July cookout that he was holding.



Saturday, July 4, 2015

Tuesday, June 30 & Wednesday, July 1: Council Bluffs, IA


6/30/15- Travel Day to Council Bluffs, IA

After just four hours of sleep we got up this morning and continued our drive to Council Bluffs, IA.
Luckily we drove almost half of the 540 miles last night, so the rest was an easy trip. That was a good thing, because the lack of sleep was really affecting me, and I almost fell asleep a couple of times. I had to keep singing along with my music to stay awake.

The Vazquez website lists us as playing Omaha, NE, but we are actually across the river in Council Bluffs, IA.
Our lot is in the parking lot of the Mid-America Center. I found it funny that besides this arena there is also a huge arena just a few miles away in downtown Omaha. I didn't realize this area was big enough to need two coliseums.

There is a movie theater across the street that I remember from when I was here nine years ago with Ringling. Our circus train was parked in Council Bluffs, but we were performing in Omaha.

Ryan, his family and I joined the other early arrivers, Viśan and his brother, Andrei, Carmelo and his family, and the Pompeyos over at Hooters to have dinner and watch the soccer game.

I didn't stay too late because I was wiped out from the drive and from being awake for so long. It felt wonderful to climb into bed and get a good night's sleep.


7/1/15- Council Bluffs, IA- Day Off!

Our trailers were parked in the early afternoon, and as soon as I was able to shower and get my house situated I went into town to run errands.

When I came back from the laundromat and post office I was able to hook both my house and Ryan's house up to power and water.
Ryan took his family to Carson & Barnes, which was playing about 80 miles from us. Tatiana, Nico, and Abrianna will be staying with the Fusco family for the weekend, and they'll be coming back before we leave Iowa on Monday.

Once I got our utilities hooked up properly I drove to downtown Omaha. I explored an area of the city called the Old Market, which had brick paved streets and many different shops and restaurants.
I had dinner at Blue Sushi and Sake, which is my favorite sushi chain that I've been fortunate enough to visit in Fort Worth, Denver, and now here.

After eating I looked around to see what the Old Market had to offer. My best finds were two cavernous antique shops that had so many awesome treasures.
One shop was selling almost every toy from the 1980s that you could think of. It was quite a trip down memory lane for me, especially when I got to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles section.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Sunday, June 28 & Monday, June 29: Denver, CO


6/28/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I had breakfast at the Denver Biscuit Company. I had eaten there earlier in the week, and I couldn't wait to go back.
My meal was just as delicious as it was the last time, and even though there was a crowd waiting to get seated, we didn't have to wait too terribly long to get a table.

During the first performance the sky clouded over, which made the temperature in the tent much more bearable.
Sadly, I used a lot of energy in the first show instead of pacing myself, and I was worn out by the 5:00 p.m. performance.

I gave the third show motivational speech today. I read an article from a book that our friend, Mark Renfro, sent us called "The Imagineering Way", which is full of essays about inspiration and creativity written by the Imagineers, the visionaries behind Walt Disney theme park attractions.
The selection I chose dealt with getting out of your ruts, which can be a difficult thing to do when so much of our job depends on doing the same thing day after day, performance after performance.



6/29/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I spent my time either preparing my truck and trailer for travel, or resting up for our jump.

We had a big crowd for our final show in Denver. Business was great for our closing days in this city.
Our juggler friend, Reid, caught our last performance with a couple of his friends.

Ryan and I were able to hit the road about an hour after the show ended. We were able to hook up our trucks to our trailers during the afternoon, which helped us leave the lot faster than we normally would have.

We drove about 200 miles before stopping at a Walmart in Nebraska, but it was too small for us to spend the night in its parking lot.
We drove another 70 miles before finding a Walmart with a humongous parking lot.

Unfortunately we crossed a time zone on the drive, so by the time I got to bed it was already 5:30 a.m.