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Old 09-05-2008   #31
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"Perhaps if I had not been drinking earlier I would not have been bold enough to take the action I did. I decided to join in one of the upstanding traditions of the winter festival, for it annoyed me to see this morbid imposter of a clown standing up. When I reached the corner I laughingly pushed myself into the creature - 'Whoops!' - who stumbled backward and ended up on the sidewalk. I laughed again and looked around for approval from the festivalers in the vicinity. No one, however, seemed to appreciate or even acknowledge what I had done. They did not laugh with me or point with amusement, but only passed by, perhaps walking a little faster until they were some distance from this streetcorner incident. I realized instantly I had violated some tacit rule of behavior, though I had thought my action well within the common practice. The idea occurred to me that I might even be apprehended and prosecuted for what in any other circumstances was certainly a criminal act. I turned around to help the clown back to his feet, hoping to somehow redeem my offense, but the creature was gone. Solemnly I walked away from the scene of my inadvertent crime and sought other streets away from its witnesses."
Thomas Ligotti - "The Last Feast of Harlequin"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-05-2008   #32
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"When I got back to my room I discovered the door was unlocked. And there was something written on the dresser mirror. The writing was red and greasy, as if done with a clown's make-up pencil - my own, I realized. I read the legend, or rather I should say riddle, several times: 'What buries itself before it is dead?' I looked at it for quite a while, very shaken at how vulnerable my holiday fortifications were. Was this supposed to be a warning of some kind? A threat to the effect that if I persisted in a certain course I would end up prematurely interred? I would have be careful, I told myself."
Thomas Ligotti - "The Last Feast of Harlequin"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-09-2008   #33
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"It was not an experience completely without interest or even pleasure. The clown's shibboleth of 'here we are again' took on a new meaning for me as I felt myself a novitiate of a more rarefied order of harlequinry."
Thomas Ligotti - "The Last Feast of Harlequin"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-10-2008   #34
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"I, the II King's jester, live on alone in the highest Palace attic - my only task to speak his thoughts. As transcriber of moods, taster of titbits, keeper of the royal mind's eye, nurturer of jokes, I will soon descend - so as to remove his frilly body from the window, as he babbles of green stained red and then black.

But I fear I, too, am a splinter of his dreams and memories..."
D. F. Lewis - "The II King"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-10-2008   #35
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"'Despite what you expected, it's turning out very predictable.'

The II King just sat and began to stare me out. There was no answer possible, especially in the context of light and shade. His flat made me feel as if I were in a black and white film. The pierrot make-up caused him to look more a clown in a dream than a ghost in a real memory."
D. F. Lewis - "The II King"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-10-2008   #36
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"The queue straggled lugubriously forward, reinvigorating the hope of eventually reaching the lights of the esplanade and the first view of the Odeon's entrance. This had better be a good film, we vowed.

The buskers came thick and fast now. Harlequins. Pierrots. Punch and Judy men. Clowns with Russian-doll masks they kept taking off. And stripper women who had grown too long in the tooth for the clubs, but who could not quite give up their act as easily as they could their dignity."
D. F. Lewis - "Queuing Behind Crazy People"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-13-2008   #37
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"Jacques Tupulo Jones was at least six feet four inches in height. He was clothed in a checkered suit of loud pattern, a stand-up collar and japanned leather shoes. His trousers were tight-fitting and bulged comically at the knees.

But there was nothing comical about his face. It was the most leeringly and maliciously evil face I had ever seen on a human being. It was somehow spiritually evil. I mean by that, there was soul in it. You could see Jones' black, inconceivably depraved soul glaring out of his large, blood-streaked eyes."
Frank Belknap Long - "Carnival of Crawling Doom"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-21-2008   #38
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

The King intended to rent a jester from his neighbouring king just along the coast.

"What's your name?" roared the King to his potential property as it was dragged into the holy royal presence.

"Langley."

"Langley what ?"

"Just Langley."

"Well, Just, what can you do?"

Langley surveyed the rich trappings of the palace's interview room, the centrepiece of which was a large clock with two moving circles of numbers instead of the more conventional hands.

"I can make you laugh about something you never thought you would laugh about," he boasted.

The King almost smiled.

"Make me laugh about Death, Just."

The interview room took on an awesome hush. The courtiers stopped whispering to each other and stared at Langley as if taunting him to come out with a joke about death, of all things.

"See that clock, Kingy, that'll stop at the precise moment of your own first edge of death."

A breathless courtier hustled forward and hissed something or other into Langley's lug. It may have been a warning about the lack of etiquette in calling His Majesty "Kingy".

Either through speechless rage or an abrupt fit of laughter, the King was glassy-eyed, dazed with death.

For the clock could never stop, nor the King die. The revolving numbers were direct­ly geared to the ineluctable turnings of Time itself and its unavoidable protocol.

The rest of the story is thus lost in the workings-out of an unreachable future. And it is against etiquette to tell lies about Royalty. The punishment for which is tortured death, at least.
D. F. Lewis - "The Humourless King"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-28-2008   #39
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"High above the third level of the city, he crouched on the humming aluminum-frame platform of the air-boat (foof! air-boat, indeed! swizzleskid is what it was, with a tow-rack jerry-rigged) and he stared down at the neat Mondrian arrangement of the buildings.

Somewhere nearby, he could hear the metronomic left-right-left of the 2:47 PM shift, entering the Timkin roller-bearing plant in their sneakers. A minute later, precisely, he heard the softer right-left-right of the 5:00 AM formation, going home.

An elfin grin spread across his tanned features, and his dimples appeared for a moment. Then, scratching at his thatch of auburn hair, he shrugged within his motley, as though girding himself for what came next, and threw the joystick forward, and bent into the wind as the air-boat dropped. He skimmed over a slidewalk, purposely dropping a few feet to crease the tassels of the ladies of fashion, and - inserting thumbs in large ears - he stuck out his tongue, rolled his eyes and went wugga-wugga-wugga. It was a minor diversion. One pedestrian skittered and tumbled, sending parcels everywhichway, another wet herself, a third keeled slantwise and the walk was stopped automatically by the servitors till she could be resuscitated. It was a minor diversion.

Then he swirled away on a vagrant breeze, and was gone. Hi-ho. As he rounded the cornice of the Time-Motion Study Building, he saw the shift, just boarding the slidewalk. With practiced motion and an absolute conservation of movement, they sidestepped up onto the slow-strip and (in a chorus line reminiscent of a Busby Berkely film of the antediluvian 1930s) advanced across the strips ostrich-walking till they were lined up on the expresstrip.

Once more, in anticipation, the elfin grin spread, and there was a tooth missing back there on the left side. He dipped, skimmed, and swooped over them; and then, scrunching about on the air-boat, he released the holding pins that fastened shut the ends of the home-made pouring troughs that kept his cargo from dumping prematurely. And as he pulled the trough-pins, the air-boat slid over the factory workers and one hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth of jelly beans cascaded down on the expresstrip.

Jelly beans! Millions and billions of purples and yellows and greens and licorice and grape and raspberry and mint and round and smooth and crunchy outside and soft-mealy inside and sugary and bouncing, jouncing tumbling clittering clattering skittering fell on the heads and shoulders and hardhats and carapaces of the Timkin workers, tinkling on the slidewalk and bouncing away and rolling about underfoot and filling the sky on their way down with all the colors of joy and childhood and holidays, coming down in a steady rain, a solid wash, a torrent of color and sweetness out of the sky from above, and entering a universe of sanity and metronomic order with quite-mad coocoo newness. Jelly beans!

The shift workers howled and laughed and were pelted, and broke ranks, and the jelly beans managed to work their way into the mechanism of the slidewalks after which there was a hideous scraping as the sound of a million fingernails rasped down a quarter of a million blackboards, followed by a coughing and a sputtering, and then the slidewalks all stopped and everyone was dumped thisawayandthataway in a jackstraw tumble, still laughing and popping little jelly bean eggs of childish color into their mouths. It was a holiday, and a jollity, an absolute insanity, a giggle. But...

The shift was delayed seven minutes.

They did not get home for seven minutes.

The master schedule was thrown off by seven minutes.

Quotas were delayed by inoperative slidewalks for seven minutes.

He had tapped the first domino in the line, and one after another, like chik chik chik, the others had fallen.

The System had been seven minutes' worth of disrupted. It was a tiny matter, one hardly worthy of note, but in a society where the single driving force was order and unity and equality and promptness and clocklike precision and attention to the clock, reverence of the gods of the passage of time, it was a disaster of major importance.

So he was ordered to appear before the Ticktockman. It was broadcast across every channel of the communications web. He was ordered to be there at 7:00 dammit on time. And they waited, but he didn't show up till almost ten-thirty, at which time he merely sang a little song about moonlight in a place no one had ever heard of, called Vermont, and vanished again. But they had all been waiting since seven, and it wrecked hell with their schedules. So the question remained: Who is the Harlequin?

But the unasked question (more important of the two) was: how did we get into this position, where a laughing, irresponsible japer of jabberwocky and jive could disrupt our entire economic and cultural life with a hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth of jelly beans...

Jelly for God's sake beans! This is madness! Where did he get the money to buy a hundred and fifty thousand dollars' worth of jelly beans? (They knew it would have cost that much, because they had a team of Situation Analysts pulled off another assignment, and rushed to the slidewalk scene to sweep up and count the candies, and produce findings, which disrupted their schedules and threw their entire branch at least a day behind.) Jelly beans! Jelly... beans? Now wait a second - a second accounted for - no one has manufactured jelly beans for over a hundred years. Where did he get jelly beans?

That's another good question. More than likely it will never be answered to your complete satisfaction. But then, how many questions ever are?"
Harlan Ellison - "Repent, Harlequin!" Said the Ticktockman

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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Old 09-29-2008   #40
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"The darkness and silence of the great room are compromised only by noisy jets of blue-green light flickering spasmodically along the walls. But for the most part the room lies buried in shadows. Even its exact height is uncertain, since above the convulsive illumination almost nothing can be seen by even the sharpest pair of eyes, never mind Cheev's squinting little slits. Part of the lower cagework of the crisscrossing rafters is visible, but the ceiling is entirely obscured, if in fact Voke's sanctum has been provided with one.

Somewhere above the gritty floor, more than a few life-size dolls hang suspended by wires which gleam and look gummy like wetted strands of a spider web. But none of the dolls is seen in whole: the long-beaked profile of one juts into the light; the shiny satin legs of another find their way out of the upper dimness; a beautifully pale hand glows in the distance; while much closer the better part of a harlequin dangles into view, cut off at the neck by blackness. Much of the inventory of this vast room appears only as parts and pieces of objects which manage to push their way out of the smothering dark. Upon the grainy floor, a long low box thrusts a corner of itself into the scene, showing off reinforced edges of bright metal strips plugged with heavy bolts. Pointed and strangely shaped instruments bloom out of the loam of shadows; they are crusted with... age. A great wheel appears at quarterphase in the room's night. Other sections, appendages, and gear-works of curious machines complicate this immense gallery.

As Cheev progresses through the half-light, he is suddenly halted by a metal arm with a soft black handle. He backs off and continues to shuffle through the chamber, grinding sawdust, sand, perhaps pulverized stars underfoot. The dismembered limbs of dolls and puppets are strewn about the floor, drained of their stuffings. Posters, signs, billboards, and leaflets of various sorts are scattered around like playing cards, their bright words disarranged into nonsense. Countless other objects, devices, and leftover goods stock the room, more than one could possibly take notice of. But they are all, in some way, like those which have been described. One wonders, then, how they could all add up to such an atmosphere of... isn't repose the word? Yes, but a certain kind of repose: the repose of ruin."
Thomas Ligotti - "Dr. Voke and Mr. Veech"

"What does it mean to be alive except to court disaster and suffering at every moment?"

Tibet: Carnivals?
Ligotti: Ceremonies for initiating children into the cult of the sinister.
Tibet: Gas stations?
Ligotti: Nothing to say about gas stations as such, although I've always responded to the smell of gasoline as if it were a kind of perfume.
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