Groupthink: It’s Okay to Hate Clowns!

I almost didn’t post this entry because on Thursday, Willow made a post about her dislike of clowns. I want to say right off the bat that this is not in response to that post. I had decided last week to post this entry about clowns for Halloween. I understand why Willow feels the way she does–she has some bad memoriesso she's not the kind of person I’m addressing, okay?

If you perform a Google search on “scared of clowns”, you will get 813,000 results. “I hate clowns” brings 1,090,000 and “clowns should die” harvests a shocking 6,260,000 results. There's even a site dedicated to the hatred of clowns, an anti-clown online community, and a number of similar forums.

What is it you hate or fear about clowns? I’m not talking about a casual dislike of clowns and clowning, or actual, diagnosed clinical coulrophobia (fear of clowns). I’m talking about those of you who say you hate or fear them because it's part of the groupthink. The truth is, we've been programmed to find fearing and hating clowns totally acceptable. Let’s face it. It’s safe. I mean, if you were to say in a group of people that you hated or feared knees (genuphobia), or paper (papyrophobia), they’d look at you a little strangely, or suggest you get help. But say that you hate clowns, or that they terrify you, and everyone breathes a sigh, starts laughing, and echoes, “Me too!”

I understand not liking clowns, but whole websites and forums dedicated solely to spewing violence and venom against them? That, I don't understand. It tells me more about the hater than it does about the clown. It tells me that in some cases, there's more beneath the surface than an unpleasant childhood experience, or a personal disinterest. We can no longer voice that kind of vitriol against race, gender, age, or sexual identification/orientation, so we have to put that somewhere (I guess). Human nature has always demanded a scapegoat, and the clown seems to be it at this time. But clowns are people trying to bring laughter and happiness to our world. They're not cartoons or concepts, they're people.
Throughout the centuries, most cultures have had clowns. A pygmy clown performed as a jester in the court of Pharaoh Dadkeri-Assi during Egypt's Fifth Dynasty, about 2500 b.c.e. Court jesters have performed in China since 1818 b.c.e., and when Cortez conquered the Aztecs in 1520 b.c.e., he discovered Montezuma's court included jesters similar to those in Europe. Most Native American tribes had some kind of clown characters, who played important roles in the social and religious life of the tribe, and in some cases were believed to be able to cure certain diseases.
The fool, or jester, was intended to show the simplest state of a human being--a person without money, social standing, or intellect. With our modern sensibilities, most of us are uncomfortable with the idea of ranking someone because of the misfortunes of birth or circumstance. We like to de-emphasize the differences that separate us from the less fortunate, rather than emphasize them. Things were different in earlier centuries, however. The fool or simpleton was unabashedly mocked and scorned on the one hand, but on the other hand became a vehicle for many profound ironies. In Shakespeare, for example, it's the fool who speaks the most profound truths. A clown acts as a mirror, showing us the hidden parts of our nature that we prefer not to reveal. So you see, it’s not the clown who is hiding something, it's you.

It has been said that our response to a clown might depend on where it is seen. At a circus or a party, a clown is expected, perhaps funny, but the same clown knocking on your door at midnight is more likely to evoke fear rather than amusement. This effect is summed up in a quote by actor Lon Chaney, Sr.: "There is nothing funny about a clown in the moonlight." This may or may not be true, but I've seen paintings of dogs playing poker, and I'm not afraid of or feel any hate for either poker or dogs.

When people tell me they're terrified of clowns, I ask them if they're also afraid of Carnival maskers. What's the difference?

Why do we find this worthy of loathing and fear...

...but find this pretty, even exotic?
I'm not talking about the esthetics,
I'm talking about the absurdity of fear and hate.

Certainly it's not, as some say, about people hiding themselves, or frozen, expressionless faces, because traditionally, clowns over-emphasize these while Carnival masks are expressionless. Talk about hiding something! Who knows what's going on under those masks? With a clown, it's no secret.

In my surfing around anti-clown forums on the web, I was surprised to read so many comments by people who said they hate clowns because "they're fake", "their make-up is weird", and that "they're creepy". Oddly enough, most of these were people who would have no problem watching a Marilyn Manson video, or complimenting each others' facial piercings. And most of them, young toughs whose every other word was "f***" or "Fa**ot" said they were afraid of clowns. Big men. I'll bet it doesn't keep them out of McDonald's.

The fear and loathing of clowns wasn’t so prominent before the slasher movies of the 70s and 80s. With the circus no longer a town’s annual “big” event, kids have seen more of these scary clowns than actual, trained clowns. Hollywood, being what it is, took something innocent and morphed it into a monster, exploiting both clowns and children.

As a final thought, allow me to add that I'm in no way confusing this issue with other kinds of hate and discrimination; I doubt that most people would actually physically attack a clown, refuse to rent to one, or deny a clown a table in a diner. If I decided to go to clown school, I doubt you'd suddenly turn on me. I know that it's not the people who become clowns that bother so many, it's what clowns represent. And that's my real point. To see a clown in a dream, symbolizes absurdity, light-heartedness, vulnerability, and the childish side of your nature. The countenance of the clown is a reflection of your feelings and emotions. Perhaps you fear or hate clowns because you mistrust these things in yourself.


Ready for Halloween

I put one of those amber 'flame' bulbs
in the porch light, and we cut the pumpkin
from the bottom so that it could
sit in this prominent place.
The pumpkin is carved, the seeds are soaking in the kitchen, and I'm ready for whatever is going to happen between tonight and Saturday night. As you can see, we're not into all the decorations, probably because, raising five kids between us, we're pretty tired of the whole thing! Maybe next year we'll get some stuff. Click to enlargiate.


Halloween in a Bible Banging Town

As if the powers that be couldn't get any more idiotic, the people who run the City of Stillwater have decided that trick-or-treating will be held tomorrow, rather than on Halloween. And why? Football. That's right, there is a game on Saturday night and our City Council doesn't feel that Stillwater parents can sufficiently handle their own children to ensure their safety where traffic is concerned.

Wait. What?...

Those Were the Days, My Friend

See that sweet, innocent l'il thang? That was me 40 years ago. 40! Where does the time go? That was my senior picture. My high school (Adolfo Camarillo in Camarillo, California) is having our 40th reunion this weekend and although I probably wouldn't go if I still lived out there, I'm still waxing nostalgic over the website that one of our classmates put up. I was looking through the senior pictures and I knew only about three people, because we moved to Camarillo from Solvang the summer between my junior and senior years. No time to get to know anyone, really.

Anyway, in those days I stood 5'2" in my bare feet and weighed 95 pounds soaking wet. Sigh... Enough of that. Just thought I'd share; I haven't seen this picture in years!


My First Real Autumn

Last night when I returned with Micah from the airport, we pulled into what used to be a driveway. Both it and the back porch area was a veritable ocean of oak leaves, and the thought of raking them was exhausting. "It would be a monumental task", I told myself. "Screw it. It's Oklahoma. Let the wind take care of it."...


I Need a Weekend

This weekend was one of continual work on Nettl's book, which we hope to release within a couple of weeks. It's crunch time and I'm beat!

We relaxed a lot at Ville's annual Halloween party on Saturday night. We all needed a good party, so we got silly and childish, playing a game we called, "Ceiling Fan Ring Toss". It consisted of one spinning ceiling fan and a bunch of those glow-stick necklaces. You figure out the rest. Joel got the night's best "ringer" as the rest of us tried to top him. As I said, we all really needed to get stupid, and we did not disappoint...


The Intergalactic World Wide Web Somethingorother

Well, now I know without a doubt that I'm experiencing blogger guilt for not posting as much as I'd like to. Last night, or this morning, I should say, I dreamed that Blogger sent out a message that if we didn't respond to a certain confirmation email within the hour, our blogs would get deleted. They were trying to get rid of all the dead blogs and marketing schlogs...


Slow Start

I'm just now starting to feel my day beginning, and here it is, 2:00. Sheesh. I haven't been sleeping lately. Well, I've been sleeping, but in fits and starts, and I can't get down into that good old REM stage...


Just Stuff

It's been a while since I've experienced the kind of fatigue that I did yesterday. Since I got on the new meds last August, I've been feeling pretty much like myself again. I think Nettl and I pinpointed this episode to a bout of fibromyalgia that hit me over the weekend, but last night she massaged the little nodules right out of me and I felt instantly better.

Despite all efforts to avoid it, I've gotten addicted to Sudoku, I'm afraid. Numbers, you know. Numbers, order, problem solving... I admit it, I'm a geek. Since my laptop broke down (I'm expecting it to return home to me any day now), and we don't have cable, I have spent my evenings with crosswords and other word puzzles. In the book I got last weekend there was a page of Sudoku puzzles and I got hooked really fast. Now I want a book with nothing else in it. Hopeless, really.

Wow! It got up to 80° yesterday. It was nice having the windows open, although it was pretty windy. I hope today is nice, too. Speaking of today, I'm finally going to bed.


The State of Things - My Perspective

Hello everyone. I just thought that I'd tell you what's going on around here. I'd tell you my name, but I'm not sure what it is. At first, they called me Sweetie, but that's been changed to Kitty, sometimes Cat (when my people are angry at me for God knows why) or, worse, F**ker-Cat. Sheesh. I don't understand people. I like things to be a certain way, you see. I like my meals on time, doors to stay open, and my litter box to be clean. Is that so much to ask? In fact, what prompted me to write is the subject of food.

Why is it so hard to get a fripping meal around here? I know that my meals are always at 7:00 am and 5:00 pm. That's why I start two hours earlier to remind my people that meal time is coming. If I didn't, they'd probably forget. You don't know what a hassle it is working a four-hour split shift just so these bozos don't forget to feed me. Besides, it works. Sure, they get mad and call me names, especially when I sharpen my claws on the furniture, but I do that stuff on purpose, you see. All this hard work, and do you know how they reward me? They go and give MY FOOD to that old yellow Tom who lives in the dog house in MY BACK YARD! Out of MY Bistro feeder! Just great. He gets an unlimited supply of food that he can have anytime he freaking wants it, and I have to wait for MY food. He doesn't even have to do anything to get it, either! I've never been more insulted! I hate ferals. Get a job, ya lazy-ass!

As if that isn't enough, there's that calico Tom who sits on MY porch and stares at me through the door like I'm a piece of meat or something, the birds that sit in the bush just outside MY window, teasing me, all these damned neighborhood dogs, and worst of all, that ugly-assed cat that walks around on MY roof at night. At our other house I was top cat in our neighborhood! I was a force to be reckoned with! But here? A mere shadow of my former self. And now they're feeding that old fart in the back yard.

Well, that's all I really wanted to say. I feel much better now; I think I'll take a nap. Thanks.


Homecoming Weekend

The Homecoming weekend wasn't as noisy as I'd anticipated. It was actually a lot of fun and, outside of a small group of students staggering home on Friday night, there were no incidents in our neighborhood. Things kicked off on Friday evening with the Fraternity and Sorority Walk-Around on University Avenue...


The Dreaded Weekend

Today begins Homecoming Weekend here in Animal Town Stillwater. Tonight, every soul in town will park their cars in every available space in every back alley and church parking lot to attend the Walk-Around on Fraternity/Sorority Row. The houses there will be lit up and the yards decorated with sets and scenarios, the likes of which I've never seen before. I think I'll pass this time. The street is usually crowded with high school kids on their cell phones and skateboards, and women in polyester pushing strollers while scarfing down street food while their husbands look bored as hell and wanting to get back home to the TV...


C'est Fini - Wish I Had a Beer

This house is much easier to clean than the monstrosity we moved out of last August, but I still want a Merry Maid someday.

Notice how she smiles no matter what chore she's doing? That's because back then women had a specific gene that made them love housework and cleaning up after everyone.


A Rainy Autumn Afternoon

I love rainy Autumn days, but this yawn-inducing greyness is playing havoc with my sleep center. If we were having all-out storms as we did last month it would be different. The electricity in the air rejuvenates me and lifts my spirits, but this drizzly kind of weather is different. It's quiet. Few cars pass by, no one is out walking their dogs or pushing prams. No students ride their bicycles. Lorider remains curled up on her faux fur throw in the bay window...


Claiming the Lake and Other Matters

I don't know if it's this gray, drizzly weather, but I've been sleepy all week, despite how much sleep I get. Last night I went to bed before ten and woke up around 7:30. If that's not enough sleep then I don't know what to think. I have a busy day lined up, so that should keep me from getting the sleepies, at least until after dinner...


Flood Control on Our Street

I don't know about other parts of the country, but I've noticed that here in Stillwater, any kind of road work, regardless of how large or small the job may be, requires at least six people: one to run the big Tonka trunk and five to stand, smoking and spitting, to watch. Every now and then one of them will break from the pack, get into a pickup and drive away only to return 30 minutes later. I can only assume he's going over to the Blue Note for a Budweiser. I want that job! The hard hat would be fun to wear and I would get paid to stand with my hands in my pockets, or my thumbs through my belt loops.

And That's All I Want to Say About That

The American public, and in many ways the world at large, has been the victim of a fear-mongering, abusive right wing for so long, now that they are no longer in power they want to continue the old way of keeping the rest of us in line. Now that the main fists have been removed from Capitol Hill, those that remain are scrambling around in an attempt to continue business as usual, or at least as they have come to know it...


Mish Mash of Pish Posh

I awoke this morning to a particularly boisterous thunder storm and an accompanying deluge. Sometimes the thunder sounds like it's going to crack the roof open! I love mornings like this. In fact, I love full days like this, and this year I've been favored by Thor and his friends. I hope this goes on all damned day. This is a picture I just took of a pickup driving past the cottage. Click to enlarge.



I've pulled a couple of all-nighters this week, which explains, I suppose, my not posting an entry yesterday morning. I used to post every night; I wonder why I don't do that anymore. Anyway, I've been working on two new websites, one to promote an Italian cookbook for a woman who lives in Arizona and another for Nettl's book, which will be coming out before the year is up.

 Nothing much is going on besides that. Night before last I went over to our neighbor, Matt's, house and asked him if he wanted to come over for a glass of wine. I was listening to the Crosby, Stills & Nash LP, Déjà vu, and feeling a little mellow. I ended up staying over there until about 9:30, talking to him. He's a voice professor, photographer, and old hippie. It was cool and I was in the perfect mood for it.


A Perfect Weekend

This weekend could not have been more perfect. Nettl and I did nothing but giggle and talk, and spend time together. She cross-stitched a Celtic knot and I read, and worked crosswords. On Saturday afternoon I laid out an English tea and that evening we had a "picnic without ants" by candlelight, listening to Mozart. On Sunday she grilled while I raked oak leaves and acorns off of the drive.

Two of our neighbors came over on Saturday, Matt (who is a professor in the theater department at the university) to introduce himself and give us a standing invitation to his front porch where he likes to drink wine, and Ray (who is a typical Okie type) to tell me that if I ever need to use any of his yard tools, just let him know. Nettl also talked to the girl across the street, Mayisha, who bought a bicycle from us last week. Good people. It's good to have neighbors who are friendly.

More weekends like this, please!


Happy Birthday Frank

My dear friend and mentor, Maestro Frank Salazar, would have been 82 today had he not died unexpectedly in June of 2000. This is especially peculiar to me when I remember that I am only one year younger than he was when we first met and began working together in 1985.

It's also peculiar how life makes very little sense to me without him in the world. I cannot imagine what I would have been if we'd not met; he was the one dream that came true for me without a relative nightmare. This picture, which was taken in 1992, says all you will ever need to know about how we felt about each other.

"We have something between us that’s all feelings," he said to me one night on the phone after I’d returned home from visiting him. He had just come home from the hospital after undergoing a triple bypass. "It’s not physical or intellectual," he said. "It’s all feelings."

Happy Birthday, Papa.



Years ago, an ex-girlfriend of mine always made ice cubes using warm water. When I asked her about it, she said that her mother told her that hot water makes ice faster than cold water does. At the time, I thought that there must be something to it because the universe often works that way. I didn't test the theory or anything, but now that I'm back to making ice cubes, it comes to mind on a regular basis. Well, the answer is, "under certain conditions". What is called the Mpemba effect seems to make it one of those laws of opposite that drive people like me crazy. What's crazier is that, although the theory was tested by Aristotle, Descartes and Bacon, the effect was named after a Tanzanian high school science student in 1969. Besides that, it isn't really understood why it works, so let's move on...