The Family Business

Publicity shot from the flea circus.

I’m performing my show The Acme Flea Circus 5 times this summer as part of the Chicago Park District Night Out In The Parks Program. (see here for all the details. )
The shows are all free, so it would be great if you came out! I’ve got 4 more!

My first show was today. (Not open to the public– it was part of a camp program.)


 My son came along because of the following:

A) my wife was working, and had an appointment, so I couldn’t leave him with her.
B) we’re trying to save money, so he’s not going to camp every day.
C) I wanted him to see what I do.

If you guessed D) ALL OF THE ABOVE you would be correct.

On the drive to the show, I realized that this is the first time that he was going to be helping me do a show. Yes, he’s seen my show multiple times but he hasn’t been in the business (backstage, setting up, striking, etc.)

Shows in the Chicago parks this summer.

He’s never really expressed an interest in performing, other than glibly. He loves acrobatics, and he loves to do tricks, just not in front of people. If we were waiting in line, and I said, “Let’s do a trick for these people in line.” he would demur.

 I’ve never wanted to push him into performing if that’s not what he wants to do.  I have a friend who is also a performer, has a son born around the same time as AA, and that kid was born wanting to perform. (he has been on a soap opera, in an opera at BAM, just booked a national commercial, and is currently in an HBO series with James Franco!)

I think he’d be good, as he loves to pretend, he’s very cute and photogenic, and he can be quite funny.  But he has to want it.

Anyway, he agreed to help out today.  His big job was to be the house manager.  He had to go open the door to the room, kick down the doorstop and say “Ladies and Gentleman, the house is now open.”  He confided to me that he was a little nervous about it. We went over the ground rules (watch the show quietly, he has to do what is expected of him, he can’t ruin the show for other kids by saying what comes next, etc.)

Trying on the hat for size.  It could work!

He did well, opening the door perfectly, sitting quietly.  I explained to him that one of the hardest things a performer has to do is wait.  We arrived at 8:45am for an 11 am show.  (an hour to set up typically, and an hour to troubleshoot anything that might go wrong.) He was a little restless but mostly held it together.  He also asked me a bunch of questions about training the fleas. I told him that I don’t tell anybody how I train them, but if he ended up wanting to perform the show after I retired, I would teach him.  He seemed pretty excited about that.

 Before I had my son, I was performing on a pretty regular basis, making an okay and occasionally decent living from it.  I was touring a lot, going to festivals a lot, driving a lot. But that all changed after the baby was born. It made sense for me to be the stay at home parent, and my wife to become the bread winner. I still perform occasionally, but not as often. And that is an itch I would like to scratch.

I have a weird fantasy of us putting together a show and going on tour together. Maybe do the Summer Fringe Festival Circuit? We’d make a good team I think; I’m so big, he’s so little, he can be very bossy.   (I am not sure what my wife would do in this summer touring fantasy.  Run the box office?)

Anyway, that probably won’t happen, but today was a nice start. And who knows? If I can teach him to run the sound system and do all the sound cues it could still work out!

The Year in Review: Downs and Ups

So I thought I’d take a little minute of self-reflection of the blog and of the year.

This has been a good year, but a hard year.  There have been more downs than ups.

I do a lot of things in the year.  I am the main caregiver to my son, I write this blog and two others, I do the finances for my wife’s business and our home, and I am still trying to work as a performer when I can.  I didn’t attain all of my goals this year, but I did get some of them.



While I’ve mostly kept politics off of my blog, I’ve made no secret on social media of my disdain for Herr Drumpf, and my sorrow/depression/anger over his election.  I won’t get into it here, but suffice to say that he is unqualified, unprepared, and unctuous, and my personal feeling about the direction of our country under his “leadership” is dark.  Perhaps this is how the other side felt about Obama’s election 8 years ago, but of course my angst is worth more!  At least then we had a guy with some experience and some political savvy and not a guy who is clearly dishonest and intent on raiding the US for his own personal gain.  Not to mention the uncomfortably close comparisons that one can make to Hitler.  This has colored ALL  of the last 6 months or so for me and my family, and I really have felt depressed.  But I digress.


In addition to the celebrity deaths of some of my artistic heroes (David Bowie, Prince, Carrie Fisher, to name a few) I had some personal friends and relatives die.  My Aunt Irma, who lived a long good life, and my friends Pat Cashin and David Greene, who basically died suddenly and quickly and far far too soon.  In particular, Pat, who was a blogger, a father, and a clown.  There but for the grace of God go I.

This has made me feel my mortality in ways that I have been working up to.  I’m 52.  My son is 8.  I’ve got another 25 years if I’m statistically average, but I’m overweight, I have high blood pressure and both of my parents died  young.  (Although I did have one grandmother who lived until 103, and a grandfather who lived to 88.  And my mother died of cancer from Hepatitis that she had gotten 25 years ago from a blood transfusion. And my father was killed in a car crash.  So there is hope for a long life.


I’ve had some health issues, including gum surgery, skin cancer on my nose that required surgery, my first ever colonoscopy the day before the election, and other assorted issues.  Just adds to my feelings of mortality.



Despite my weight and the aforementioned issues, I’m still alive!  I’ve maintained/lost a little weight, and I’ve accomplished several challenges on a fitness level, including using my recumbent bicycle everyday for a month, biking over 300 miles on the recumbent bike in an 8 week period, and doing a pushup challenge and getting up to 50 pushups a day.  (Of course, I then injured myself, and have lost most of that strength)  Still I feel good about it, and hope to continue that into the New Year.


I did a few very well-received performances of my flea circus, and took a clown workshop that made me remember how much I like attending workshops. Hope to do more performing during the upcoming year.  I have an idea for a new show, and I’d like to get that out the door, if I can.

I’ve written over 70 posts this year on my blog, and looking back, most of them have been reviews of theatre and music. (And I didn’t even write about every play or show I saw!) I’ve really upped my game on critical writing, and would like to continue to do that while writing more posts about parenting.  Most of my draft posts this year were about parenting issues and conundrums, and I never finished those posts.  My work this year is to finish these posts and continue my work as a critic and reviewer.

My social media has also expanded– I’ve gained something like 500 twitter followers in the last year.  I hope to keep expanding that as well.

Wishing all of my readers a Happy and Healthy New Year!