Friday, February 28, 2014

You've Got to be Kidding

            It was too good to be true.  Just when you think we’re getting a handle on endangered species, the New York Daily News announces the horrendous shock that we are now facing a shortage of clowns.
            That’s right, folks—fewer and fewer people are going into the noble field, and one day we could live in a society completely devoid of red noses and big shoes. 
            They quote the president of Clowns of America International (which is it—America or international?  Whatever), Glen Kohlberger saying that older clowns are passing away.
            And the World Clown Association (which claims to be the largest trade group for clowns in the U.S. which makes me ask, again, if it’s for the U.S. why are you calling it “world”?) says their membership has dropped by a thousand clowns since 2004.
            They’re having a hard time getting younger people to go into clowning.  Obviously they haven’t met my children, any one of whom would qualify for this group, gloved hands-down. 
            You do remember my story about St. Bob and his beginning in show biz, right?  As a cartoon clown on TV?  So I shouldn’t be surprised at the acorns falling so close to the tree.
            But these experts say clowning has taken a red nose dive, because it is no longer “cool.”  Let me get this straight.  Are you telling me that clowning was once cool?  When, in the history of history, was it cool to wear white makeup, a giant red mouth, and purple, oversized polka-dot shoes?
            “Hey man,” I can just see some guy in the Sixties, whispering to his buddy, “if you want to impress the chicks, you gotta wear one of these.”  And he pulls out a pink and green fright wig. 
            Ah, yes—The Secrets of Popularity could be a class on tying balloons and throwing pies into people’s faces.  That’ll impress the crowds, alright. 
            Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey (and, and, and—there’s something funny going on in this clown biz) only keeps 26 clowns on its touring roster, and chooses just a handful to attend their training boot camp, so the chances of making it in the big time under the big top are even more miniscule than making the NBA.  That means every other aspiring clown has to work birthday parties, where the pay is, well, peanuts.
            But what about all the people who are clowns by accident (come on, you know you’re thinking of that guy next to you at work)?  I see clowns almost everywhere I go.  They may not be wearing big, wavy collars, but they are sword fighting in the state capitol, rollingcars down hills, sending thank you cards for colonoscopies, wearing ridiculousclothes at WalMart, taking away the planet Pluto, giving mattresses to cows, and trying to turn my TV into a death ray.
            If anything, there’s a surfeit.
            You can easily fill your clown quota by subscribing to this blog and reading all about the unheralded clowns that blanket the landscape.  Evidently it is my mission to cross paths with them and then tell you about it.  You’re welcome.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

If You Don't Beep When You Back Up, You're Fine


            What’s better than having one of your plays produced on stage?  Having it done AGAIN, back by popular demand!  I am so excited that Juli Inskeep, the talented actress who brought my play, “Does This Show Make My Butt Look Fat?” to life at Theatre on the Square in Indianapolis a couple of years ago, is reprising her role from February 28th to March 29th.  She is hilarious and I urge everyone within a thousand miles of Indianapolis to buy tickets and go see it.  It’s always a packed house for this play, so get your tickets immediately!
              “Butt,” as we affectionately call it, has been staged in California and has an upcoming performance in New Jersey this May (published by Art Age)… but this is the time to check it out if you live in the Midwest.  Where else can men learn the correct way to answer the title question?  Where else are you served goodies during the show?  And where else can you come home feeling fantastic about your body, whatever its size?
            Something else really cool—the great folks at Theatre on the Square are giving a ticket price discount if you contribute clothing to Dress For Success, a wonderful charity.  Feel good and do good all at once! Here's all the info you need:

Friday, February 21, 2014

My Door Prize

            The last post was about painting my grandfather clock and this one is about painting my front door.  Only this time I painted the door the same deep red it has always been, just a newer, shinier coat-- something like this door:
            Sounds easy, right?  Here is how to turn a simple project into a total disaster: Add one dog.  Yep, that’s the formula for catastrophe, folks.  And I like dogs.  But they do not belong anywhere near wet paint.
            Here’s what happened, without a shred of exaggeration.  I taped off the hardware, laid down a drop cloth, and then painted the whole door a rich crimson.  Then, so it could dry without sticking to the door jam, I left it propped open about four inches.  It was still wet and gleaming when the plot thickened. 
            Remember my telling you about the Pointer/Lab mix we had, named Quat, because our comedian children thought it would be funny to call him by saying kumquat?   
           That’s the dog who trotted over to investigate my project when he happened to glance through that critical four-inch gap.  And there he spotted a family with a baby in a stroller and two dogs on leashes, having an afternoon stroll.  He bolted past me, squeezed through the door and went flying out to bark at them and scare them out of their wits. 
            I chased him down and found that he was now half maroon, his entire left side covered with paint.  I got it in my hair and all over me dragging him back to the house, screaming at Quat, and shouting my apologies to the neighbors.  
            And then I saw my door.  The bottom half was now covered with white fur, as if I were trying to do some kind of Graceland tribute.  I shoved Quat into the house, where he decided to roll on our white carpet. 
            This, as you might know, constitutes an emergency, so I ran to the kitchen, came back with wet paper towels, and scrubbed the carpet for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, the red paint on the dog and in my hair had completely dried.  As had the fur on the door.  I was beginning to wonder if the people at the animal shelter had made a deal with the devil.
There was no way to wipe off the dried paint and fur on the bottom half of the door, so now I had to sand it.  And still, I couldn’t get all the hair off.  So I repainted and now the door had curious “texture” here and there.  It looked worse than before I had started.
I took Quat out to the back yard to brush him, in hopes of removing at least some of the red paint.  Total fail.  
Then I went to a mirror and saw that I had the very same hairdo.  As if a blind hairdresser had placed a two-fer Groupon ad for red highlights, and I had signed up myself and my dog for this choice experience.
And that’s how I came to have crimson paint, dried and immovable, in my hair for church on Sunday.  Short of showing up with a tattoo, this is possibly the best way to alert members that I am having a midlife crisis and trying to look like a teenager.  On the other hand, no one has asked me to help them with their home improvement project.
Portions of this post appeared in Funeral Potatoes-The Novel.  You can find my books right here on the home page, or at my website,

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

My Timely Project

            I need to go to Projects Anonymous.  I keep taking on impossible projects I am certain will be easier than they actually are.  Especially when it comes to sprucing up the house, inside or out.
            The other day I decided to paint our grandfather clock.  Now, before you gasp in horror, or say, “Won’t that diminish its value?” as one of our sons did, let me just assure you that this was not a priceless antique, nor a valuable heirloom.  It was a blah, brown clock.  Here you see it next to our piano:
            First I washed it down with TSP, something a guy at the hardware store told me would remove the shiny finish.  Nope.  Then I bathed it in a chemical stripping agent.  Hardware guy was wrong again.  I sanded it with steel wool.  Still nothing.  Finally I gave up and just covered it with primer. 
            I had not calculated how many nooks and crannies were in this piece of furniture, so after a few hours I came whining to St. Bob that I think I made a mistake and was sorry I started this.
            “You always say that, with every project,” he said.
            “I do?”  I went back to work and began painting until my muscles were sore.  I was still a very long way from done, so again I went to Bob and said, “I feel like crying.”
            “You always say you feel like crying, with every project,” he said.
            Sigh.  Maybe this is true.  Soon I considered telling him that I’ve learned my lesson and I’m not going to take on any more gargantuan tasks.  But just as I headed toward him I realized he would probably tell me that I also say this every time, so I stopped.  And went back to work.
            Here’s the problem.  Okay, one of the problems.  I love MacKenzie Childs stuff.  Years ago a girlfriend gave me one of their domed cake plates:
            They also make furniture and rugs:


 And glassware:

            And ceramics and enamel goodies:


         All of it is whimsical, merry, and makes my heart sing.  It does not, however, make my wallet sing.  So I’ve tried to duplicate the look myself.  I decorated my entire kitchen around that concept, and even made a kitchen island from an old dresser, to go with the theme:  
 Then I painted a table in our family room in that style:
I even gave the end of one hallway a jazzy nod to MacKenzie Childs: 
And I’ve been dying to redo our grandfather clock this same way, but even more in keeping with the MacKenzie Childs look. They do not sell grandfather clocks, and if they did they would cost more than most cars, so I was on my own-- toiling like a MacKenzie Childs designer wannabe. 
Last week, I finally finished it.  Here’s the result:


It’s wild, it’s daring, and it lifts my spirits every time I walk through the door.  “I love it,” Bob says.  “I knew you could do it.”  And moments like these are why he gets the Saint status. 
Share this on Pinterest, and tell your friends to subscribe—where else can you find a person who lives so far outside the box that she paints the outside of it in wild colors?