Category Archives: clowns

Could Trump Actually Be Good For Liberals?

 

Yes, I did wash my mouth out with soap after saying that title out loud.  But I can’t help thinking such strange thoughts.  It is probably because Trump’s healthcare plans already have me off my meds.

I hear you screaming at your WordPress Reader saying, “How can you possibly be thinking such un-Democratic and really dumb thoughts?”

Well, if you think about it… I mean, hit your head three times near the reasoning center of the brain with a really hard rock… some of the greatest things that have happened to mankind have come from the very worst things that ever happened.

Because of World War Two and Hitler, we ended up inventing computers, and we ended up with a space program because beating Hitler gave us Werner Von Braun and some of the best rocket science minds in Germany.  Because LBJ felt guilty about helping the CIA murder Kennedy he enacted the Great Society and Civil Rights reforms that make up the best of Kennedy’s legacy.  (What?   You say that’s crazy conspiracy theory?  Well, I have been hitting my own head with a rock.)  In fact, the combination of Hitler and Kennedy’s assassination put men on the moon.

Yes, humanity needs really bad times to happen to force them to make changes for the better.  And Trump is really bad times.  He takes food away from school children and old home-bound people so he can play more golf at Mar-a-Lago on the taxpayers’ dime.  (Well, actually, it costs significantly more than a dime.)  He puts coal plant waste into rivers and the drinking water of millions.  He cuts regulations so corporate polluters are free to pour more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and keep us all so toasty warm with global warming that our faces will eventually melt.  (And can you imagine what beauty pageants will be like when the contestants no longer have faces?  Mr. Trump will no longer even be anxious to make those un-announced tours of the dressing rooms.)

The only choice we will have for survival if we are not Walmart heirs or Koch brothers is to fight back and correct the situation.  It is possible that enough people will wake up to the whole Trump trauma to take back the House of Representatives in 2018.  Then the investigations can really begin.  Trump is waking up a sleeping giant.  The public is ready to start fighting back.  Bill Nye the Science Guy is ready to throw some punches for science.

giphy

Things that are necessary are never easy.  It is by making too many easy choices that we got ourselves into this mess.  There is a lot of stupidity and incompetence and badness out there to overcome now.  And we must face it or it will kill us.

And it may be a good thing that Trump won the election.  Hillary would’ve been a competent president and nothing would really have changed about the status quo.  We would’ve continued to complacently allow Republicans to run the House and Senate and oppose even the most mild and wishy-washy things that President Hillary would’ve tried to get done.  Now, the Trump backlash may propel us onward towards actual solutions to very real problems like climate change, excessive money in politics, ignorance among the voting public, and income inequality that is tipping us toward a new dark ages and a feudal-technological society.

So the big splash that Trump is sure to make might be a very good thing for liberals who hope to change things for the betterment of a majority of the people.

C360_2017-04-25-13-53-37-894

10 Comments

Filed under angry rant, clowns, commentary, conspiracy theory, humor, Paffooney, pen and ink, politics

Classroom Clownery (Not to be confused with Sean Clownery… He’s James Blond)

16473244_1449448801783847_8086681324837506057_n

See Dick?

See Jane?

See Sally?

See Dick run?

See Jane run?

See Sally…?   Wait a minute!  Why don’t I remember Sally?

Did Dick forget to feed Spot and Spot was forced to kill and eat Sally?

No…  I had Dick and Jane books in Kiddy-garter and they did have Sally in them.  And Spot never killed anyone.  But with all the running she did, Sally did not do anything memorable.  If my teacher, Miss Ketchum, had told the Spot eats Sally story, I’m sure I would’ve remembered Sally better and learned to read faster.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

But I actually did learn to read faster because there was a Cat in the Hat, and a Yertle the Turtle, and because Horton the elephant heard a Who, and a Grinch stole Christmas.  Yes, humor is what always did it for me in the classroom.  Dr. Seuss taught me to read.  Miss Mennenga taught me to read out loud.  And in seventh grade, Mr. Hickman taught me to appreciate really really terrible jokes.    And those are the people who twisted my arm… er, actually my brain… enough to make me be a teacher who taught by making things funny.  There were kids who really loved me, and principals who really hated me.  But I had students come back to me years later and say… “I don’t remember anything at all from my classes in junior high except when you read The Outsiders out loud and did all those voices, and played the Greek myth game where we had to kill the giants with magic arrows, and the stupid jokes you told.”  High praise indeed!

funny-pinoy-jokes-grammar-nazi-natzi-hitler-alert-2013

I think that teaching kids to laugh in the classroom was a big part of teaching them how to use the language and how to think critically.    You find what’s funny in what you learn, and you have accidentally examined it carefully… and probably etched it on the stone part of your brain more memorably than any other way you could do it.  And once it’s etched in stone, you’re not getting that out again any time soon.

dr_cat.jpg

12140070_10153033719407821_7711720876061693795_o

Humor makes you look at things from another point of view, if for no other reason, then simply because you are trying to make somebody laugh.  For instance, do you wonder like I do why the Cat in the Hat is trying to pluck the wig off of Yelling Yolanda who is perched on the back of yellow yawning yak?  I bet you can’t look at those two pictures positioned like that and not see what I am talking about.  Of course, I am not betting money on it.  I am simply talking Iowegian… a totally different post.

But the point is, humor and learning go hand in hand.  It takes intelligence to get the joke.  Joking makes you smarter.  And that is why the class clowns in the past… the good and funny ones… not the stupid and clueless ones… were always my favorite students.

Leave a comment

Filed under clowns, goofiness, high school, humor, irony, kids, philosophy, teaching, word games

Love Stories With Clowns and Elephants

book_WFE

Yes, this essay is supposed to be a book review of Sara Gruen’s lovely, enthralling circus story Water for Elephants.  But you know me.  My writing gets overwhelmed and filigreed by my obsessive urge to dive into the ocean of things that excite me to purple paisley prose.

It is a fascinating love story involving a depression-era travelling train circus, a young man who suddenly finds himself a penniless orphan days before he can complete his degree in veterinary medicine, an elephant, a beautiful horse-riding show girl and circus star, and her cruel but charming ring master husband.

I don’t think I am spoiling anything by telling you that Jacob Jankowski, the main character of the tale falls in love with both the beautiful Marlena and an apparently untrainable elephant named Rosie.  And I also shouldn’t actually be ruining the ending by telling you that the murderer who ends the story is revealed in the opening pages, but is still a surprise when masterful story-teller Sara Gruen re-reveals the murder at the end.  This is a plot-driven novel that completely catches you up in a doomed relationship, a complicated romance, and an artfully re-created world of depression-era train circuses that ranks right up there with Cecil B. DeMille’s movie spectacular The Greatest Show on Earth.

Yes, I had to equate this book with an old 1950’s movie that I love because of the similarities of plot and spectacle.  Both the movie and the book have a faithful clown friend who lives a tragic life.  Both Buttons the clown, played by Jimmy Stewart in the movie, and Kinko the clown, the dwarf Walter in the book whose only friend is Queenie the dog before he gets involved in the main character’s problems, play a crucial role as a supporting character.  There is a romantic triangle in each.  Jacob, Marlena, and Marlena’s husband August in the book mirror the complex relationship between the circus runner Brad Braden, his girlfriend the trapeze star, Holly, and the circus’s newest trapeze star, the Great Sebastian in the movie.  And in each story there is a huge disaster that threatens the existence of the circus.  But I am in no way suggesting that one is merely a copy of the other.  Each story is unique and enthralling in a thousand different ways.  They are two entirely different stories told by two different master story-tellers that happen to be built on the same basic framework.  And both of those things teach you a great wealth of carefully researched details about the magical world of real travelling circuses.

Oh, yes… And I forgot to mention, the book Water for Elephants was made into a movie in 2011.

Water_for_Elephants_Poster

Leave a comment

Filed under book review, clowns, commentary, finding love, humor, movie review

The Curse of Being Creative

“Oh, I just hate you, you can draw so well!  I always wished I could draw like that.”

Yes, the perfect thing to hear when you are a twelve year old boy in the sixth grade, and you are hearing it from the girl in your class whom you most want to have a chance to see naked when you grow up.  Being smart, creative, and according to Alicia when we were twelve, “You’re so funny,” is not really as fun and wonderful as you might imagine.  There’s a downside to being highly creative.

creativity

First of all, there’s that.  Yes, the naked part of the illustration above.  An artist, especially one who also writes and knows how to write from the heart, makes himself or herself naked all the time.  The secret parts on the inside come out constantly.  You can’t have a private, embarrassing, or secret thought without it being obviously discernible somewhere in the artworks you create.  Even the perverted ones like the one about wanting to see Alicia naked when I was twelve.  If nakedness is one of things that is on your creative little mind even though it is the one thing that you wish really wasn’t there at all, guess which of the many things on your creative little mind is going to come out first.   Artists walk around naked in front of the world all the time, no matter how many clothes they put on.

10676187_666527206786670_8657747675349295247_23n

Secondly, you don’t seem to be able to think like normal people do.  Normal people are not divergent thinkers.  They are not constantly trying to stand on their head before looking at the world, connecting bizarre things together and seeing the world in constantly shifting and highly exotic colors.  I imagine normal people probably walk around all the time with Elton John tunes playing in their head, thinking only about what they ate for lunch and then posted pictures of on Facebook.  The lights are not always on in their attic, and they certainly don’t have ghost dogs and booger-men named Douglas playing noisy games of full contact tackle Parcheesi in there during the middle of the night.  They don’t have wake-up-sweating nightmares about being attacked by ducks with gigantic white dentures.

Kops aa

There are no Clowntown Kops throwing pies at them in their daydreams about rescuing naked Alicias from sinister bald villains with trained seals for evil minions.  Their minds go round and round on a single railroad track on an ordinary oval path.  Unlike my mind that is a multi-tracked switch yard where you have to approach going at least ninety miles and hour, losing a single car at every switch, nearly careening sideways off the track at least three times, and having to come together as a train on the other side, collecting all the cars again at high speed and chugging down the tracks to destinations unknown.

And it is all too easy to see the future when you are both creative and at least mildly perceptive.  I knew the Cubs were going to win the World Series.  I knew Trump would become our leader.  I still pray that I am wrong about the whole world-ending thing.

Being creative is not easy.  Sometimes it hurts more than it makes you laugh.  It leaves you naked and vulnerable.  It makes you think in abnormal ways that are studied by abnormal psychiatrists.  And it makes you see and understand things that you really wish you were still ignorant of.  But would I trade it for anything else?  Hmm… let me think about that one for a few more years.20161112_205317

 

Leave a comment

Filed under artwork, autobiography, clowns, dreams, feeling sorry for myself, goofy thoughts, humor, Paffooney, strange and wonderful ideas about life

Facebooking and Birdwalking

rooster riding

This is my bird-walking illustration.  I know that it is totally the wrong picture for the job, but it is a bird walking, isn’t it.  

It is not a stretch to suggest that most of what you find on Facebook is not real.  Especially when it comes to the endless posting and sharing of topical political memes.  I had thought when Facebook came out with their reaction-emoji thingies, that there was at least one I would never find a use for.  15622475_1183729518385094_5552623989556758950_n

Boy!  Was I ever wrong about that.  Now that the gold-plated pumpkinhead that got himself elected somehow is busy with his markers and crayons making executive orders, it is about the only one that really fits anywhere.

We made a big mistake allowing Trump to play Prexy and be the one in charge of making the rules of the game.  You all knew he was gonna cheat before the game even started, didn’t you?  And it won’t last long.  He is making allies like Australia into offended enemies.  He is banning burn victims, heroic Iraqi translators, doctors, and researchers from coming into the country with their entry visas and green cards and other proof that they have a right to be here.  He is burning up any goodwill and patience and level-headedness  that we have tried to afford him.  He will be impeached, or worse, sooner rather than later.  And then we will have to live with the irreparable damage he has done. 15871838_1523005324380940_7699241610958871006_n

And we probably deserve it.  We have made mistakes before, and if we live long enough, we will make more in the future.  But this was a big one.  And I don’t have to feel happy about it.  No matter what my conservative friends on Facebook tell me… or what names they call me.

So that’s where the bird-walking comes in.  The mind has to wander away down paths of lesser resistance.  We need to go where the sandpiper would go, walking down the beach to look for new and interesting-looking seeds to eat.

1622167_419958761470889_848653528_n

You really should add this to your Bob Ross Bible if you haven’t already.

All of my illustrations in this article, except for the walking bird, which I drew myself, are clipped directly from Facebook.    Facebook is sometimes the soul source of wisdom for Village Idiots, and I should probably make an effort to be one less of the time.  But it is also an excellent source of bird-walking topics that get my mind off the terrible things and onto free-floating tangents that take me to places my mind would really rather be.

15727045_1367235986668863_883949246384139288_n

 

I would’ve liked to have attended Pillsbury’s funeral, but the meme only gave the time and length of the service, not the date.  I fear that by now I have missed it.  But I am sure the service was well done.15747477_1364363353622793_9185361677508015682_n

Nostalgia memes on Facebook are great.  They make me feel all squishy and sad again about the times long gone and how terrifyingly horrible they were compared to how terrible they are now.

Remember John Wayne Gacy?  Or reports on television about the Viet Nam War?  With pictures?  Full color pictures of the My Lai Massacre in living color on NBC, with all the blood in bright red.  Yeah, that stuff on TV kept us outdoors quite a lot.

16388278_10210269720613318_4707688879619752500_n

But Facebook bird-walking is a dangerous sport.  If you let it, it will eat up your whole life, minute by minute, hour by hour.  And I’m not sure it makes you smarter in any way.  I know some pretty stupid people who are on Facebook quite a lot.

15822841_10154008704191891_2897296190757686136_n

Bird-walking at its best, though, is to coddiwomple.  And though you don’t know where you are going, you will get there sooner or later, so you might as well look at the scenery and appreciate the irony along the way.  Life should be a leisurely stroll, not a rush to get away from gold-plated pumpinheads with executive orders in their tiny, tiny hands.

4 Comments

Filed under angry rant, battling depression, clowns, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, foolishness, humor, irony, memes, Paffooney

Shakespeare Knows Fools

quote-i-don-t-make-much-distinction-between-being-a-stand-up-comic-and-acting-shakespeare-in-fact-ian-mckellen-124331

The fact that Shakespeare was a master of the art of creating and mocking fools does not really help decide the question of who Shakespeare really was.  A stage actor who owned a theater in Elizabethan times and apparently focused on being the bit player, the butler, the second man on the castle wall in the great plays, would certainly know enough of flim-flam, being a con man, or artfully throwing turds at kings and queens in ways that get rewarded rather than beheaded.  But a nobleman who has unpopular and unwelcome-but-probably-wise insights into the back-stabbing-goings-on of the royal court of England would equally be capable of putting the most memorable of critiques of humanity into the mouth of the fool or the clown in the great stage-play of life.  Even the most depressing and violent of the Shakespearean tragedies is enhanced and made pointed by the presence of the fool and the comic relief.  In some ways everything that Shakespeare wrote was a comedy.

sticker375x360-u2

Whoever Shakespeare was, he shared Mark Twain’s overall assessment of “That damned human race” and often declared all men fools in the eyes of the playwright.  Puck’s observation on humanity is delivered about not only Bottom and the other poor players who carry on their vain attempts at performing Pyramus and Thisbe while Bottom magically wears the head of an ass, but also the easily fooled lovers who mistake their true loves for one another, and even the clueless mortal King Theseus of Athens.

0716-go-midsummer-dream_

In the play within a play, Nick Bottom wants to be not only his own role, Pyramus the romantic lead, but argues that he should be Thisbe, the lion, and Pyramus all at once, making a satire of human nature and its overreaching ways that we could only pray Donald Trump will one day watch and magically understand.  In fact, Shakespeare’s entire body of work is an extended investigation of foolishness versus wisdom, and with Shakespeare, the verdict always goes to the fool.

a-fool-thinks-himself-to-be-wise-but-a-wise-man-know-himself-to-be-a-fool-william-shakespeare

The plays of William Shakespeare are filled with fools doing foolish things… and fools being accidentally wise. (Think Jacques in As You Like It giving his famous “All the world’s a stage” soliloquy in which he elucidates the seven ages of man.)  There are fools too who prove to be wise.  (Think of the ironic advice given by the jester Touchstone in As You Like It, or the pithy commentary of King Lear’s fool).  The fools in Shakespeare’s work are not merely the comedy relief, but the main point that Shakespeare makes about humanity.

207a65d14f2a61bd4a4ef178e88609bb

Whoever the man was who wrote the plays of Shakespeare, he was someone who had a deep understanding of the basic irony underlying all of human life.  And someone with that vital sense of the bittersweet, a philosophy of life that encompasses the highest heights and lowest depths that a soul can reach, is someone who has suffered as well as known great joy, someone who has experienced loss as often as profit, and has known real love as well as real hatred.  It is the fool that Shakespeare shakes us by the neck with to make us recognize the fool in all of us which makes the plays resonate so deeply within us.  It is watching the path of the fool unfolding that makes us shake our head and say to ourselves, “Yes, that is what life is really like.”

when-we-are-born-we-cry-that-we-are-come-to-this-great-stage-of-fools-william-shakespeare

Leave a comment

Filed under clowns, comedians, conspiracy theory, foolishness, goofy thoughts, inspiration, philosophy, strange and wonderful ideas about life, William Shakespeare

When You Can’t Laugh at the Clowns

16002825_1219137254843952_3398329288412064654_n

It is sad that Ringling Brothers, Barnum, & Bailey will be closing for good this coming May.  I have personally gone to the circus and enjoyed the spectacle under the big top (though actually in arenas) about fifteen times, first with my parents and then with my own kids.  I loved the elephants, the wire-walkers, the lion tamers, and I laughed at the clowns.  And now that will no longer be possible.  I have gradually lost more and more of the most important things in my life as I have gotten older.  I lost mobility with arthritis.  I have lost financial security through health problems.  I have lost the ability to do the job I devoted my life to and so deeply loved.  And now I can no longer laugh at the clowns.

422296_491357450892360_1982410226_n

The problem is not that there are no clowns left, even though most of the greatest ones, Emmett Kelly, Bob Keeshan, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, and the man who played Bozo, have all passed on.  The problem is not that my kids are afraid of clowns, scared to death of people who aggressively get right up in your face while theirs is covered with grease paint (especially since my kids are now grown and can sock the clown in his painted mush if he gets too close).  The problem isn’t even that the clowns are not funny any more.

15823403_409121349442128_3961166006838640939_n

The problem is that the Clown in Chief has killed the laughter.  He has become an agent of instability and chaos.  When he is mocked brilliantly by Alec Baldwin on Saturday Night Live, he has to mount a tweet storm on Twitter and uses his limited twit-wit to angrily denounce and threaten and belittle instead of laughing at the jokes as other politicians like the current President and Vice President have graciously done, even sometimes using self-deprecating humor to get in on the jokes themselves.  Even notoriously humorless political clowns like Ted Cruz and Sarah Palin have more grace in ignoring mockery and smiling at insults than this Great Orange Face that we put in charge of the country’s most serious business.

The ability to laugh at oneself is a very serious thing.  When the whole “golden showers” business made it into the national debate, this manic moron did not make it seem mere political hum-buggery by laughing it off.  No, he got deeply offended and defensive, the same way a person who is actually guilty of the accusation would react.  So, if it is not true, the Crybaby in Chief has only bolstered our belief that it is most probably true.  As ridiculous as the accusation sounds, you have to admit that Trump’s behavior in the past makes you at least entertain the possibility that it is a true thing that he has done.

And now, he has over-reacted again, this time to the very real concerns raised by Congressman John Lewis, an honest-to-God civil rights hero, with cruel and crusty criticism that lowers my respect for Trump as well as lowering all future expectations.  The man isn’t even sworn in yet, and he has already shown such bilious badness in his character that I truly dread living in this country under his rule.

I am a man who lives to laugh, and laughs to live.  That is how I overcome the things that bother me as well as the things that hurt me.  I use laughter as medicine, not as a weapon.  And I hate to see the viruses in our society that I have always been able to inoculate myself against with humor become totally drug-resistant in that way.

6 Comments

Filed under angry rant, clowns, commentary, feeling sorry for myself, humor, politics, satire