Thursday, June 26, 2014

Why Clowns Aren't Scary!

Ugh … that Pennywise! Thanks to great writers like @Stephen King, an entire generation of readers and movie watchers remain petrified of clowns. Admittedly, coulrophobia or fear of clowns did not originate because of the prolific Mr. King. A surprising number of people seem put off, even freaked out by painted people or someone with a “hidden identity.” I get it … I do. I was creeped out by the clown doll in “Amityville Horror” too. It's powerful when something that is supposed to be innocent turns sinister. Look how often children and even babies (painted too pale or with disturbing posture) are used to scare the stuffing out of us.

The stereotype for clowns has shifted. The beloved bumbling jester in too-large shoes and too-small car is too often portrayed as a talon-toothed distortion peeping thru windows or stalking folks thru the woods. Those distorted creatures do not possess the pure nature of the kind of clowns which seek only to bring joy not fear. As with angels and demons, they are the same type of being but with two very different motivations.

In my guise as Miss Pickles, I am clown-esque in minimized make-up with attire that offers a different silhouette from the baggy, big-buttoned onesie. But I have the heart of the fun-loving, goofball clown whose sole purpose is to make a child smile. Sappy sweet? Perhaps. But in a time when children are often injured or mistreated, couldn't the world use a little more of that sentiment?

I still love you, Stephen King. On Writing is life-changing … or, at least, craft-changing. Will somebody please hug a clown today?
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Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Balloon Secret

People often ask me what's my favorite balloon. On any given day, my favorite may be the ram, the ray gun, the swan, the frog, or the monkey in a tree. But on a fairly consistent basis, it is the bow & arrow. Simple and easy to make, it requires only two balloons and a short piece of yarn (to tie on each end of the bow). The arrow is not fully inflated; I leave about three inches at the tip, which helps steer the balloon during flight. That's right, you can actually shoot the arrow! See why it's my favorite?

The other best part is it's secret. I begin my dramatic spiel by asking, “Do you know the secret of the bow & arrow?” Wide-eyed, the child inevitably shakes his or her head, so I continue my demonstration. “You take the finger that you point with … which finger is that?” I wait 'til they stick it out, and then push my pointer into the arrow to prepare it for takeoff. “I poke into the balloon as far as I can go and hold my finger and thumb together,” I do so, lift the arrow beside the bow, choose a target, and take a stance like ol' girl in The Hunger Games. Then I turn to the child and say in a whisper loud enough for parents to hear, “Now, you don't really use the bow, but nobody needs to know that. And when I open my fingers ...” I never finish this sentence because I've opened my fingers and, amidst gasps from the crowd, the arrow has already grazed some tall passerby in the back or boinked harmlessly off the noggin of an infant. My arrows really love babies.

Well, that's it … my fav with secret revealed. But words are flat; they cannot fully convey the mystery and wonder of this experience in real life. So, if you ever get the opportunity to request a bow & arrow from Miss Pickles, perhaps at my next public event, take a few steps back; I'll aim for you. Probably won't hit you, but I'll still aim. Those who pay attention might even catch the arrow. Just don't stand by a baby.
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