Monday, September 28, 2015

Monday, September 7-Sunday, September 13: Aurora, IL

9/7/15- 7:30 p.m.

I was going stir crazy in my trailer today, so close to show time I went for a long walk. That helped immensely.

We had a great crowd for the show tonight, and we absolutely killed with the carpenter gag. That was exactly what I needed since I haven't been happy with the reactions the gag has been getting for the past few days.

9/8/15- 7:30 p.m.

I had an incredibly stressful morning trying to pay my quarterly taxes. I tried to buy money orders from the post office, but the lady refused to sell them to me because it was such a big amount of money, and because my mailing address and the address on my driver's license were different.
I tried to explain to her that I was on tour, but she wouldn't relent.

It really bugged me that a government facility was keeping me from paying my federal taxes.
I ended up getting checks from Bank of America, and I had to pay for each check even though I have an account with the company.

After finally finishing the whole ordeal, I met up for lunch with my friends Gary and Ellyn Podolsky. Gary is a 1985 Clown College graduate, and he brought his photo albums from CC and his time working at Carnival Plaza in Japan; I had a lot of fun perusing the pictures.
His wife, Ellyn, makes amazing home baked goods, and I was thrilled that she brought some of her delicious strawberry jam bars, which are me and Ryan's favorites.

My nice meal and visit with my friends helped alleviate the frustration of my taxing tax paying morning.

It was rainy and humid today, and to make matters worse, the air conditioners were not turned on for our one show.
It felt so disgusting in the tent, and coupled with the fact that not many people showed up to watch us, it wasn't a very fun work night.

9/9/15- Day Off!

It is my understanding that we had today off because the circus wasn't able to procure permits that allowed us to work on our lot for more than five days in a row.
Whatever the reason, I was thrilled to have a night off in the middle of a work week, which is something that never happens on this unit.

For my night off I went to Naperville, IL. I meandered along the River Walk and spent some time watching the ducks swim, bathe, and play in the water. I then checked out some of the shops downtown.
There were little cars scattered around town that all had different themes and paint jobs. My favorite was this classic cartoon character themed car.

Later in the evening I met up with my friend, Brittany, and we had dinner at Ted's Montana Grill, home of bison burgers and steaks.

9/10/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I had lunch with my friend, Don Lansu. We spent most of the afternoon visiting with each other and talking about clowning.
I was happy I got to visit with Don a few times while we were in the Chicago area this year.

Today was another nasty, rainy day, and I got soaked while saying goodbye to Don.
I took a long, hot shower that felt amazing, and then I curled up in bed where it was dry and warm.....until I wet the bed.

We had a great audience for the show tonight, and our friends, Jim, Carol, and Allison Streit were in the crowd.
Jim was a Ringling clown in the early 80's, and I haven't seen him and his family since we were with Kelly Miller.

After the show the Streit family took me to dinner so we could properly catch up. When I got back to the lot I quickly stopped by the birthday party for Jo, one of the dancers.
I missed out on having some of Vincent Von Duke's famous brisket and wings at the party, but I was glad I got the opportunity to spend time with my friends.

9/11/15- 7:30 p.m.

This afternoon Emma, Grace, and I went to the Hollywood Palms Theater, which was one of the coolest movie theaters I've ever visited.

There were movie posters all over the lobby, and to get to the theaters, we had to go through a big set of doors that looked like they were taken out of the movie "King Kong".

Each auditorium had its own theme and decorations; naturally I was thrilled that we were in the cartoon themed theater.

There were long tables throughout the room with rolling office chairs for seating. Before the film started a waiter took our food and drink orders; the menu was filled with funny movie references.

We saw the new horror movie, "The Visit", which was a lot of fun. I was on the edge of my seat many times, and a couple of the scares made me jump.

This week we began a new show schedule. Instead of two shows on Friday and Saturday, we are now doing one show on Friday (yay!) and three shows on Saturday (boo!).

I loved having extra free time today, and we had another great crowd for our one performance.

9/12/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I had brunch at Blueberry Hill, the same restaurant where I met up with my friends Gary and Ellyn the other day.

Today was our first day of having three shows on Saturday. Unfortunately there was a very small crowd at the 2:00 p.m. performance.

One thing I noticed today was that there were a lot of Caucasians in the audiences. Memo did some of the announcements in English as well as in Spanish for their benefit.

For today's third show motivational speech I had the cast play a game of Hangman to figure out the inspirational message.

We had a great crowd for the final show of the day. One thing I enjoy about this new show schedule is that we no longer finish work after 11 p.m. on Friday or Saturday.

9/13/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I had brunch at Panera Bread. I passed on going anywhere more unique because I had a very important errand to run, and I needed our meal to be quick.

After dropping Emma off back at her hotel I made the two hour round trip out to Berwyn to pick up my laptop.
My computer should have been repaired last week, but the motherboard that the repairman ordered ended up being defective.
I let him know that time was a factor since I was leaving for Maryland tonight, and luckily he finished everything in the nick of time.

I was happy to see that my laptop was as good as new, and I didn't lose any of my files due to my negligence.

Speaking of negligence, maybe thirty minutes after getting my computer home, I spilled a cup of water onto my couch, and the liquid landed just a few inches from my computer.
I'm a walking disaster area!!!

The first audience today was so dead; it was tough to get through the 2:00 p.m. show.

In the second performance Ryan and I were doing the carpenter gag when all of a sudden the audience released a huge laugh at an odd moment.
We were confused until we realized that the prop guy striking our car got yanked off his feet because the car got stuck on the edge of a ring curb as he was exiting.
Everybody wants to get in on the act!

Today Mecho gave the third show motivational speech. He talked about how he was a chubby kid that coaches wouldn't give the time of day to, but he worked hard and practiced all the time, and soon he was performing better than all of the other children.

Some of our friends from Kelly Miller were at our last performance in Aurora. I was glad they picked that show to visit, because I was really on.

After we finished loading out, Ryan and I visited with our friends for a bit. We were in no big hurry, because we had to wait for other trailers to move before we could leave the lot.

I was able to get my trailer out after an hour or so, but I had to wait forever before Ryan was able to get out.
We didn't end up leaving Aurora until 2 a.m. By that point I was exhausted, so we only drove about 70 miles before stopping at a Walmart in Indiana for the night.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thursday, September 3-Sunday, September 6: Aurora, IL

9/3/15- Day Off!

After only 4 hours of sleep last night, Ryan and I were not the cheeriest people in the world as we headed off to Baraboo, WI around 6:00 a.m.
We started to perk up after some breakfast at Panera Bread, and as we got closer to town, the prospect of spending time with our friends made us even happier.

We spent the morning at Circus World Museum with our friends Scott O'Donnell and Dave SaLoutos,   and after lunch with them at the Chinese buffet, Ryan and I headed over to the International Clown Hall of Fame to visit with our friends Greg DeSanto and Sandy Weber.

The four of us had dinner down the street from the ICHOF, and Ryan and I reluctantly had to leave Baraboo around 9 p.m., which put us back in Aurora around 1:00 a.m.

The long day and eight hours of driving were all made worthwhile by sharing so many laughs with our friends.

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

After our whirlwind trip to Baraboo yesterday on just a few hours of sleep, my bed and I had a lot of catching up to do.
I slept so much today to rest up and get ready for our opening night shows.

We had fantastic audiences for our first two performances in Aurora. Lenny De La Rosa, an actor appearing in the telenovela "Yo No Creo En Los Hombres", was our special guest tonight, but I'd like to think that the high attendance for the shows was due to the excitement of the people of Aurora over having the circus in town.

9/5/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

I had another lazy day in bed, but I was able to get a couple of business e-mails sent out as well.

We had a fantastic audience for the first show; Ryan and I really rocked the crowd with our gags.

Since we were able to clean our water mat outside during Intermission, I was free at the start of the second half to watch Vincent Von Duke's tiger and lion act.
I found a good position under the bleachers and settled in to watch.
Unfortunately, I was sitting underneath the clumsiest people from Aurora, IL. Every couple of minutes someone would drop a shoe, a light up toy, or a phone under the seats and then see a clown lurking underneath their feet when they would look for their fallen possessions.

No one ever questioned why I was down there; they just kept asking me to retrieve their goods. Even though I was doing nothing wrong, being spotted by the audience while I tried to watch the show made me feel like such a creep.

There is a standard poodle with a pink mohawk that is part of the Pompeyo Family's dog act, and his name is Sugar.
Oftentimes on the way to opening I will pet Sugar, and he will stick out his paw to shake hands.
Tonight we continued with our little ritual, but when Sugar went to shake, he shot his paw out very quickly and nailed me in the groin.

I should have taken that as a sign of things to come.....

In the water gag Ryan was chasing me with a bucket near the end of the act. The soles of my shoes were slick, so when I turned quickly on the ring rubber, I wiped out and landed on my face.

Ryan is unforgiving when it comes to chases in our gags, so I knew that he would be hot on my heels.
I jumped up as fast as I could and grabbed the foam wine bottle off the top of our crate prop.

I spun around, and sure enough Ryan was almost on top of me. I threw the wine bottle at Ryan to slow him down a bit, but instead of sailing past him, the bottle crashed into the bucket Ryan was carrying.
Ryan instinctively fell down, but in doing so, he turned the gimmick that releases the spring snakes inside the bucket.

The blow off of our gag was now ruined, but we had to continue anyway. I felt like such a chump!
Luckily we redeemed ourselves with an excellent carpenter gag.

That's the last time I try to shake hands with a poodle!

9/6/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

This morning Emma and I had brunch at the Pomegranate Cafe, which was near the lot.

Before the first show Ryan and I were visited by our friends Sandy Weber, Greg DeSanto, and his daughter, Emily.

The three of them watched the first performance, and I felt bad for the them because it was ridiculously hot in the tent, even with the air conditioners running.

We had several friends from our Kelly Miller days come to watch the second performance. Rick and Paula Purdue, Charlie Bellatti, and Dave Williams were all front row center showing their support.
Check out some of the excellent photos that Rick took of the show at this link (the ones from Aurora are towards the bottom):

While we were visiting with our friends, Rick introduced me to five year old Julien Zoppé, son of the renowned clown, Giovanni "Nino" Zoppé.
Julien's mom told us about how Julien has been our biggest fan since seeing us on Kelly Miller, and he watches us on Youtube all the time.
I got a Steve & Ryan 8x10 photo from my trailer so that Ryan and I could autograph it and give it to him as a gift.

That whole encounter gave me a great topic for my third show motivational speech. I talked about how at the 2:00 p.m. show Ryan and I got to perform for Greg DeSanto, one of our heroes.
I told the cast how as a little kid I would always look for Greg when I would visit Ringling, and now it is an honor to have him come watch us perform.
I was then able to bring things full circle and talk about how we had just met Julien, who is the age I was when I went to my first circus. Hopefully in twenty years or so I'll be sitting in the audience watching him perform.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Sunday, August 30-Wednesday, September 2: Chicago & Aurora, IL

8/30/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

Emma and I had our Sunday morning brunch at a restaurant called, Stacked. My food was good, and it was super filling. For the first time this year I had leftovers to take home and enjoy during our three shows.

We had a dead, dead, dead, dead audience for our first show of the day. Did I mention they were dead?
The second crowd was much better, and I got in a quick visit after the show with Susan, a local clown and burlesque dancer, and her boyfriend.

I was feeling really down today, but Laura's third show motivational speech really picked up my spirits.
She talked about how grateful the performers should be because every week I motivate them before the third show, so she made a little sign for me to wear around my neck that said, "HUG ME", and everyone came and gave me a hug before we started the show.
I don't know if it necessarily motivated anyone else, but my spirits were picked right up.
Thanks, Laura!

We ended the day on a perfect note because we had a fantastic final audience.

8/31/15- 7:30 p.m.

I had a lazy day at home cleaning, packing things away, and resting up for our night jump.

We had a big crowd for our final show in Chicago. I'm happy that we did such good business this year, considering that we played the same lot with virtually the same show.

Nat Brown, the brother of Ryan's former partner, came to watch the show with his girlfriend, Gunna.
Adam Gerstacov, a graduate of Ringling's Clown College, also was at the performance with his son.

After loading our stuff out of the tent, Ryan and I were able to visit with our friends for a bit before we hit the road.

We would have left sooner than we did, but Ryan got a bit stuck in the mud pit that developed in front of my house during our stay on this lot.
Luckily I didn't have a problem with the muck since my truck has 4 wheel drive.

It was a quick 33 mile jump to Aurora, IL, our next town. We are going to be set up right next to a swanky mall that I visited two years ago when we were with Kelly Miller.

9/1/15- Day Off!

This morning I walked around inside the mall before it opened. I was thrilled to see that there is a Panera Bread with a Cinnabon directly across from it. It is like they designed the mall with me in mind!

Our trailers were parked in the early afternoon, and then I immediately set about on my day off errands: doing laundry and getting a hair cut.

I found a Half Price Books where I picked up a book containing the script to the Broadway musical: "Barnum". Score!

For dinner I went to a sushi restaurant that had expensive food that really wasn't that great.
Oh well, I guess all of my culinary adventures can't be winners!

9/2/15- Day Off!

This afternoon Ryan, his family, and I drove to Hampshire, IL to see our circus family at Kelly Miller Circus.
We spent all afternoon visiting with everyone. It was so good to catch up since we haven't seen our friends since they left Winter Quarters in January.

Our friend, Toto Johnson, drove over from Moline, IL with DJ Weiss, one of the clowns from Ringling's Blue Unit, and Samantha Pitard, one of the show's aerialists.
The three of them joined us in watching the 2015 Edition of The Kelly Miller Circus.

This was the first time I have ever seen a full Kelly Miller show from the audience, and I really enjoyed it.
My favorite act was Abrham Gebre, the bounce juggler; his skill was amazing!

Ryan even made his triumphant return to the Kelly Miller ring as a volunteer in one of Cristian's clown gags.

After the show there was a big barbecue in the backyard where we got to visit with everyone even more.

We got back to the Vazquez lot in Aurora much later than I wanted to considering the early hour we needed to wake up in the morning.
Still, it was refreshing to see all of our friends and enjoy a fun show.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Tuesday, August 25- Saturday, August 29: Chicago, IL

8/25/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today I took Pamela to peruse Horrorbles, one of my favorite shops in the area. Since she is a fan of horror films, the store was an obvious stop on the "Steve Copeland Tour Of The Chicago 'Burbs".

We picked up a couple of fry topped hot dogs at Gene's & Jude's, and then we took them to a park in Oak Park, IL.
While we were sitting and enjoying our lunch, a very forward squirrel started moving closer and closer to us.
I guessed that he just wanted some food, but then I thought I remembered hearing that squirrels would only approach people if they were rabid.

Not wanting to take any chances, we moved benches, and the squirrel followed us. Normally I wouldn't have minded so much, but he was getting really close and his tail was twitching all over the place as he stared us down.

Finally, after we yelled at him, he scampered away and bothered other people in the park. We then deduced that people must feed the squirrels all the time, so they are not afraid to approach humans, looking for a handout.

Pamela and I had a nice time enjoying the beautiful weather as we walked around Oak Park's downtown area.

8/26/15- 7:30 p.m.

I took Pamela to the West Town Bakery for lunch today. She had the Elvis Waffle, which had bacon, caramelized banana puree, banana chips, whipped peanut butter, and brownie crumbs, while I had the Loaded Baked Potato Pancakes which were made from potato batter, bacon, Wisconsin cheddar mornay, green onions, sour cream, and an egg on top.

Even though we felt like taking a nap after eating that meal, we went for a walk around the neighborhood in which the diner is located.

I then took Pamela to Reel Art where I bought her a couple of photos of Shirley Temple, who Pamela adores.

Pamela had to leave tonight before the show, but I was excited that soon we will be heading east, where we'll be within driving distance of where she lives.

We had another great audience for the show tonight. In the vacuum gag I picked a bald man on the stairs to play with.
When I asked him to throw my wig on my head, I missed the catch and my wig fell in the space between steps and went under the bleachers.

Since there was no quick way to retrieve the wig, we skipped a few bits and continued with the gag. Luckily one of the ushers retrieved my wig and I had it for finale.

8/27/15- 7:30 p.m.

Today Ryan and I did more wood work for Pompeyo's dog props, and we also put some foam on some of the props already containing wood.

We had a packed house for the show tonight, which was fantastic.

Jose Alberto was not here tonight, so we did not have the juggling act in the show. Instead, a DJ who has been promoting our Chicago run went into the ring in the place of Jose Alberto's act and began to length.

People began to stir, and families started getting up and leaving en masse during the DJ's presentation, so when we followed with the vacuum gag, there were still many people walking around in the seating area, which disrupted several of our bits.
I was furious.

Tim Tegge and Jim Cole were at the performance tonight. Tim visited with us for a bit after the show and told us all about his fall theatre tour on which he is about to embark.
I was able to say hello to Jim Cole after the show as well. He recently saw the East Unit of Vazquez in Florida (glutton for punishment!), and tonight he took some fantastic shots of our performance.

8/28/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Ryan and I continued our wood and foam work on Pompeyo's dog props today. I had to take a break from construction to take my computer to Berwyn to get it repaired.
Last night I stupidly spilled liquid on the keyboard which shorted out the motherboard. The repair man quoted me a price that made me a cry a bit inside, and he told me I should have my computer back in a week.

I wasn't the only person having computer difficulties today. Roberto, our lighting guy, discovered today that all of the show's lighting cues had been deleted from the light board.
Because of that the lights were pretty wacky for the shows tonight.
Roberto had to stay all night after work and reprogram the whole show.

8/29/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Today was a gross, rainy, humid day. Since the weather didn't allow us to do any more work, Ryan and I packed away the majority of our tools and supplies, and we simply did some wood sanding on the dog seats.

Not too long before the show I heard a commotion outside my house. Lots of people were talking excitedly, and there were sirens that sounded like they were right outside my window.
I stepped outside and saw that one of the Vazquez semi trucks had been decimated by fire!

The truck had just been taken to a shop to get some wiring repaired, and when Martin and Bijou were starting all the trucks to make sure they were ready for the upcoming jump, the truck ignited and burned up in a matter of minutes!

Luckily the fuel didn't ignite and cause the truck to explode, because my house was parked nearby, and knowing my luck, I would have been the recipient of lots of shrapnel.

Ryan lost a contact during the first water gag, so between his lack of depth perception, and my oafishness at kicking my hat, we had a terrible carpenter gag.

The rain and humidity made our evening of shows pretty miserable. We just could not escape being wet.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Saturday, August 22- Monday, August 24: Chicago, IL

8/22/15- 6:00 and 9:00 p.m.

Ryan and I worked on Pompeyo's dog props for awhile before the shows this evening.
Both shows were fairly uneventful.

Natalya Pompeyo was having her birthday party tonight, but I skipped out because I had to wake up super early in the morning.
I was very tempted to go since it was right outside my house and everyone was enjoying Giordano's deep dish pizza, but I knew I needed to get as much sleep as possible.

8/23/15- 2:00, 5:00, and 8:00 p.m.

I woke up this morning at 6:30 a.m. so I could drive to Rosemont to pick up my girlfriend, Pamela, at the airport.

I didn't want to deal with driving into O'Hare, so I parked nearby and took the train to the airport. I met up with Pamela, and we took the train back to my truck.

This was the first time Pamela and I have seen each other in seven years. She saw me perform when I was working in Myrtle Beach.
She has had a crush on me since then, and we just connected online recently. Things sort of took off from there!

I was absolutely worn out for the three shows after getting so little sleep last night.

Before the final performance I gave "Third Show Communion" to the cast using Oreos and milk instead of bread and wine.

A lot of folks from Carson & Barnes Circus, which is set up nearby, came to watch the 8:00 p.m. performance.
It was nice to get to see everyone after the show; I didn't realize how many friends we have working on Carson!

8/24/15- 7:30 p.m.

This morning Pamela and I set out to go enjoy our day, but when I turned the key in my truck's ignition, the battery was dead.
I wasn't sure what had happened, because I didn't leave any lights on, and my doors were fully closed.

Luckily Ryan and Tatiana gave me a jump with their truck when they returned from running errands.

I took Pamela to Giordano's for one of their famous deep dish pizzas. She has been to Chicago before, but had never visited Giordano's.

When we went to leave, my truck wouldn't start again! When I got the jump from Ryan and Tatiana I let my truck run for a long time so the battery could fully charge, but apparently that did nothing to help.

I checked my phone to see if there was an auto parts store nearby, but the closest one was a few miles away.
I tried turning on the truck again, and after a few cranks and a few presses on the gas pedal, I was able to get the engine to start.

I drove to an auto parts store and promptly purchased a new battery. However, I couldn't remove the old battery to get the new one installed.
One of the terminals was so old and rusted that I couldn't loosen it enough to get it off the old battery.

By this point I had had enough with vehicular tomfoolery for the day, so I tried my little trick again to start up the truck, and we headed back to the lot.

There I enlisted the help of Martin, who had the proper tools to get the terminals removed. Once we got the new battery installed, my truck fired up with no problem.
I guess it was just time for that battery to retire; I had been using it since I bought the truck from Nikki in 2011.

I had a great performance tonight. Pamela got to see me perform, and Ryan's former partner, Sam Brown, watched the show with his wife, Andrea.

After the show Ryan and Tatiana had me, Pamela, Sam, and Andrea over to their house for a delicious pasta and meatballs dinner.