Thursday, May 17, 2007

A 'laughter' of clowns

I've searched with Google, pawed through Dogpile and even Ask'ed Jeeves, but the only collective noun I can find for clowns is an 'alley of clowns'.

Well, I can see that alley is a very good word and well used, as most local clown associations are called Alleys it's probably all official and what not. In fact, upon contemplation I expect that it comes from where the circus clowns would prepare for performances. Where are the clowns? They're all down that alley. Maybe?

But after spending a wonderful weekend at a local 21st annual Clown convention I think that a 'laughter of clowns' works much better. If you ever have wondered what it's like to be a clown, or just like them, find yourself a clown convention and go. I can't recommend a hobby/passion convention I've ever attended (and being the obsessive gotta do it to the nth degree type I've been to a few such) any more than I do this one.

To be around people so honest and truly comfortable, and watch them just play. No strings, no agendas, nothing but true sharing and caring. I've seldom been in better company.

I was there in the capacity of chaperone to a group of youth. Some of them had been to the convention the year before but a few of them were as new to it all as I was. Suffice it to say we dived right in. :) Thank fully I mean into classes and not a glass of water or a clown car ;P. In fact the only 'clown car' I saw was one made outta balloons and there were no cream pies anywhere. But there was laughter everywhere you turned.

Clowns have a bad rap thanks to "IT" by Stephen King and various other misuses of the makeup. Really, when you paint your face pure white, exaggerate your features with traditional black and red (did you know, I'm told that it was against tradition (searching for more info on that) to wear blue greasepaint?), then clap on a wig of colours seldom seen together no shit that's scary stuff.

When Bumper and Patches met us at the door, my 5 year old nearly climbed me like a tree to get away from them. Bumper, I'm told, is a traditional whiteface. While Patches is what is called an 'auguste' (pronounced awwgooose) clown. Although he claims to not play in the traditional auguste way :) and I have to tell you after watching him perform a bit I think he just likes to play but that's just my theory.

Bumper was great, when Littlest was so unsure of him. He told her that under the makeup and clothes he was a daddy and a grandpa and did ordinary things. Then he left her be till she was in facepaint herself. Then HE acted afraid of her, and totally got her to run over and give him a hug to prove she wasn't scary. It was important to him, anyone could see and a payoff he was willing to wait patiently for. I think that's why I was extra pleased to have spent a little time getting to know him and to be present when he was awarded clown of the year. Patches' letter of congratulation was enough to put me and many around me to tears at the true bond of friendship, respect and love between them.

There are other traditional types of clowns and each was expected to play in a particular way. The whiteface is usually 'boss clown' He's the one that the auguste is trying to play pranks on and often ends up being the dignified winner in a contest he didn't even know he was entered in. The auguste is often a prankster, thinks he's clever than he is and the whiteface is his target. The tricks he plans for the whiteface's tumble are thwarted by misunderstood or literally enacted instructions by the whiteface whose earnest attempts to complete them often has the audience cheering for him rather than the IMO more appealing mischief maker. Heh, I guess I'm a little leary of the whitefaces too.

Which makes this rather ironic.

Friday, May 04, 2007 the corners of my mind...

Recently I read a post on GutRumbles that made me start thinking about a lot of things. Primarily about how much *country* I really am, but also about how we are so sure we're all unique and we are, each of us, experiencing the world with our own personal opinions, life experiences and yet...

We think we're all so very different but really in a lot of ways we aren't. In fact right there in the job description for a vital part of growing up is 'disassociate yourself from your parents' beliefs, values, and morals...' what a lot of kids miss is the fine print that says 'until you figure out for yourself that those are good beliefs, values and morals and you could have saved everyone a lot of grief if you'd just thought about it for a bit before going off on that roadtrip...'

He spoke about watching a 100 best country songs and crying on the floor at various songs. I was surprised and yet not, to find that the songs he mentioned were ones that have been known to undo me as easily as they did him, although obviously for very different reasons. How so fitting I thought afterwards, the echoes of his posts long ago written, sending forth ripples of my own song associations through my mind. That I do believe is what some people mean when they say blogging is their way of reaching out.

Boobs spoke recently of how her son is becoming someone that delights her and yet surprises her. She recounts a conversation about being 'Goth' and how even though she was she didn't know. Yet again our differences become so much definition and not so much truly differences but variations. My daughters and son surprise me at every turn, even when it's what I expect them to do, they have their own spin on it.

I listen to a station called "Classic Country" in the Dodge. Somehow it seems to fit the car :P. I find myself bellowing out the lyrics along with Johnny and Marty, Waylon, Willie and the rest of the boys, surprising myself at how well I remember the words. The intonations and feelings that accompany these jaunts down memory lane are enlightening to me. Even if they do sometimes leave me wiping my eyes when I get to where I'm going.

People often talk about a song taking them back. I understood that, even though I wasn't someone who lined up speakers like headphones and laid on the floor between them to *experience* the sound. Music is background to me. That doesn't mean it's not important, just not the be all and end all I've imagined it to be to others. I've never spent a lot of money on records, cassettes or cds, content instead to listen to the radio. I admit I taped a few songs here and there and even *gasp* bought more than one collection for a particular song.