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Old 10-01-2008   #41
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"The two characters paused at the hugely arched entrance to the last, and most intimate, of the masquerade's many rooms. Pulling at the knight's golden sleeve, the jester angled his pointed, sneering muzzle toward a costumed pair in the far corner. These distant figures were impersonating two monarchs of the old days, a king and queen in ancient robes and stoles and many-horned crowns.

'How can you be sure that they are the ones?' whispered the knight to the buffoon at his side.

'Boldly approach and take her hand. You will be sure, but say nothing until you have led yourselves back through these rooms and to freedom.'

'But the sorcerer,' objected the knight. ' He could have us both executed.'

'All is safe. While I engage him as the king's jester, you will make off with the queen. Trust that what I tell is true.'

'I do trust you,' said the knight, as he surreptitiously stuffed a jeweled pouch twice the size of the first into the belt of the jester.

The two characters separated and merged with the murmuring crowd. A few moments later, the jester arrived first at their destination. From a distance he seemed to speak a few words into the king's ear and then suddenly leaped back to play the fool before him, hopping about wildly. The knight bowed before the queen and then without ostentation led her away to other rooms. Although her masked face smothered all expression, the manner in which she placed her hand upon his appeared to reveal her knowledge of the knight's identity. After they had gone, the jester ceased his antics and approached the stern and statue-like king.

'I shall watch the duke's men around us, who may have been watching you, wise man.'

'And I shall see that our two little babes find their way through the forest,' replied the mock-monarch, who abruptly strode off.

But that was not part of your design, thought Faliol. And neither was the pseudo-king's playful voice that of the solemn mage. The dark eyes of the jester's mask followed the movements of the imposter, until he passed through the hugely arched entrance and became lost in the dreamlike throng of the next room. Faliol had just started in pursuit when a strange commotion in another part of the palace swiftly conveyed its anxieties and rumors through all the rooms of the masquerade.

But now that something unheard of had finally occurred, it seemed neither to delight nor relieve any of those same souls who had wished for a unique happening on that carnival night."
Thomas Ligotti - "Masquerade of a Dead Sword"

"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 10-02-2008   #42
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"They slid slowly toward me in a worm-like mass. Their eyes seemed empty and unfocused, and I wondered a moment if they were even aware of my presence. Nevertheless, I was the center upon which their lethargic shuffling converged, their shoes scuffing softly along the bare floor. I began to deliver a number of hasty inanities as they continued to press toward me, their weak and unexpectedly odorless bodies nudging against mine. (I understood now why the people along the sidewalks seemed to instinctively avoid Thoss.) Unseen legs became entangled with my own; I staggered and then regained my balance. This sudden movement aroused me from a kind of mesmeric daze into which I must have fallen without being aware of it. I had intended to leave that dreary place long before events had reached such a juncture, but for some reason I could not focus my intentions strongly enough to cause myself to act. My mind had been drifting farther away as these slavish things approached. In a sudden surge of panic I pushed through their soft ranks and was outside.

The open air revived me to my former alertness, and I immediately started pacing swiftly up the hill. I was no longer sure that I had not simply imagined what had seemed, and at the same time did not seem, like a perilous moment. Had their movements been directed toward a harmful assault, or were they trying merely to intimidate me? As I reached the green-glazed main street of Mirocaw I really could not determine what had just happened.

The sidewalks were still jammed with a multitude of pedestrians, who now seemed more lively than they had been only a short time before. There was a kind of vitality that could only be attributed to the imminent festivities. A group of young men had begun celebrating prematurely and strode noisily across the street at midpoint, obviously intoxicated. From the laughter and joking among the still sober citizens I gathered that, mardi-gras style, public drunkenness was within the traditions of this winter festival. I looked for anything to indicate the beginnings of the Street Masquerade, but saw nothing: no brightly garbed harlequins or snow-white pierrots. Were the ceremonies even now in preparation for the coronation of the Winter Queen?"
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 10-04-2008   #43
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"Shouting, commotion, carousing. Sleepily I went to the window and looked out over the town. It seemed all the lights of Mirocaw were shining, save in that section down the hill which became part of the black void of winter. And now the town's greenish tinge was even more pronounced, spreading everywhere like a great green rainbow that had melted from the sky and endured, phosphorescent, into the night. In the streets was the brightness of an artificial spring. The byways of Mirocaw vibrated with activity: on a nearby corner a brass band blared; marauding cars blew their horns and were sometimes mounted by laughing pedestrians; a man emerged from the Red Rooster Bar, threw up his arms, and crowed. I looked closely at the individual celebrants, searching for the vestments of clowns. Soon, delightedly, I saw them. The costume was red and white, with matching cap, and the face painted a noble alabaster. It almost seemed to be a clownish incarnation of that white-bearded and black-booted Christmas fool.

This particular fool, however, was not receiving the affection and respect usually accorded to a Santa Claus. My poor fellow-clown was in the middle of a circle of revelers who were pushing him back and forth from one to the other. The object of this abuse seemed to accept it somewhat willingly, but this little game nevertheless appeared to have humiliation as its purpose. 'Only clowns here are the ones that're picked out,' echoed Beadle's voice in my memory. 'Picked on' seemed closer to the truth.

Packing myself in some heavy clothes, I went out into the green gleaming streets. Not far from the hotel I was stumbled into by a character with a wide blue and red grin and bright baggy clothes. Actually he had been shoved into me by some youths outside a drugstore.

'See the freak,' said an obese and drunken fellow. 'See the freak fall.'

My first response was anger, and then fear as I saw two others flanking the fat drunk. They walked toward me and I tensed myself for a confrontation.

'This is a disgrace,' one said, the neck of a wine bottle held loosely in his left hand.

But it was not to me they were speaking; it was to the clown, who had been pushed to the sidewalk. His three persecutors helped him up with a sudden jerk and then splashed wine in his face. They ignored me altogether.

'Let him loose,' the fat one said. 'Crawl away, freak. Oh, he flies!'

The clown trotted off, becoming lost in the throng.

'Wait a minute,' I said to the rowdy trio, who had started lumbering away. I quickly decided that it would probably be futile to ask them to explain what I had just witnessed, especially amid the noise and confusion of the festivities. In my best jovial fashion I proposed we all go someplace where I could buy them each a drink. They had no objection and in a short while we were all squeezed around a table in the Red Rooster.

Over several drinks I explained to them that I was from out of town, which pleased them no end for some reason. I told them there were things I did not understand about their festival.

'I don't think there's anything to understand,' the fat one said. 'It's just what you see.'

I asked him about the people dressed as clowns.

'Them? They're the freaks. It's their turn this year. Everyone takes their turn. Next year it might be mine. Or yours,' he said, pointing at one of his friends across the table. 'And when we find out which one you are - '

'You're not smart enough,' said the defiant potential freak.

This was an important point: the fact that individuals who played the clowns remain, or at least attempted to remain, anonymous. This arrangement would help remove inhibitions a resident of Mirocaw might have about abusing his own neighbor or even a family relation. From what I later observed, the extent of this abuse did not go beyond a kind of playful roughhousing. And even so, it was only the occasional group of rowdies who actually took advantage of this aspect of the festival, the majority of the citizens very much content to stay on the sidelines."
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.

Last edited by G. S. Carnivals; 10-09-2008 at 12:53 PM.. Reason: I was an idiot and did not format this properly.
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Old 10-05-2008   #44
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"For now was the transformation scene, the culmination of every harlequinade.

It began slowly. There was increasing movement among those on the far side of the chamber from where I stood. Someone had fallen to the floor and the others in the area backed away. The voice at the altar continued its chanting. I tried to gain a better view but there were too many of them around me. Through the mass of obstructing bodies I caught only glimpses of what was taking place.

The one who had swooned to the floor of the chamber seemed to be losing all former shape and proportion. I thought it was a clown's trick. They were clowns, were they not? I myself could make four white balls transform into four black balls as I juggled them. And this was not my most astonishing feat of clownish magic. And is there not always a sleight-of-hand inherent in all ceremonies, often dependent on the transported delusions of the celebrants? This was a good show, I thought, and giggled to myself. The transformation scene of Harlequin throwing off his fool's facade. O God, Harlequin, do not move like that! Harlequin, where are your arms? And your legs have melted together and begun squirming upon the floor. What horrible, mouthing umbilicus is that where your face should be?"
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 10-07-2008   #45
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"'Show me the worst,' I said, eyeing the undersized door before us.

The situation here was as transparent as the others. Only this time it wasn't pet leopards, pathetic clowns, or paranoid shadows. It was, in fact, two new characters: a wicked witch and her assistant in the form of an enchanted puppet. The clumsy little creature, due to an incorrigibly mischievous temperament, had behaved badly. Now the witch was in the process, which she had down to perfection, of putting him back in line. She swept across the room, her dark dress swirling like a maelstrom, her hideous face sunken into an abundant hood. Behind her a stained-glass window shone with all the excommunicated tints of corruption. By the light of this infernal rainbow of wrinkled cellophane, she collared her naughty assistant and chained him hands and feet to a formidable-looking stone wall, which buckled aluminum-like when he collapsed against it. She angled down her hooded face and whispered into his wooden ear.

'Do you know what I do with little puppets who've been bad?' she inquired. 'Do you?'

The puppet trembled a bit and would have beamed bright with perspiration had he been made of flesh and not wood.

'I'll tell you what I do,' the witch continued half-sweetly. 'I make them touch the fire. I burn them from the legs up.'

Then, surprisingly, the puppet smiled.

'And what will you do,' the puppet asked, 'with all those old dresses, gloves, veils, and capes when I'm gone? What will you do in your low-rent castle with no one to stare, his brow of glittering silver, into the windows of your dreams?'

Perhaps the puppet was perspiring after all, for his brow was now glistening with tiny flecks of starlight."
Thomas Ligotti - "Eye of the Lynx"

"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.

Last edited by G. S. Carnivals; 10-08-2008 at 09:46 AM..
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Old 10-08-2008   #46
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

Well, it's all up from Florida at the start of the spring,
The trucks and the trailers will be winding
Like a bullet we'll shoot for the carnival route.
We're following them dusty old fairgrounds a-calling.

From the Michigan mud past the Wisconsin sun
'Cross that Minnesota border, keep 'em scrambling
Through the clear county lakes and the lumberjack lands,
We're following them dusty old fairgrounds a-calling.

Hit Fargo on the jump and down to Aberdeen
'Cross them old Black Hills, keep 'em rolling
Through the cow country towns and the sands of old Montana.
We're following them fairgrounds a-calling.

As the white line on the highway sails under your wheels,
I've gazed from the trailer window laughing.
Oh, our clothes they was torn but the colors they was bright.
Following them dusty old fairgrounds a-calling.

It's a-many a friend that follows the bend,
The jugglers, the hustlers, the gamblers.
Well, I've spent my time with the fortune-telling kind
Following them fairgrounds a-calling.

Oh, it's pound down the rails and it's tie down the tents,
Get that canvas flag a-flying.
Well, let the caterpillars spin, let the ferris wheel wind
Following them fairgrounds a-calling.

Well, it's roll into town straight to the fairgrounds
Just behind the posters that are hanging
And it's fill up every space with a different kind of face
Following them fairgrounds a-calling.

Get the dancing girls in front, get the gambling show behind,
Hear that old music box a-banging.
Hear them kids, faces, smiles, up and down the midway aisles
We're following them fairgrounds a-calling.

It's a-drag it on down by the deadline in the town,
Hit the old highway by the morning
And it's ride yourself blind for the next town on time
Following them fairgrounds a-calling.

As the harmonicas whined in the lonesome nighttime
Drinking red wine as we're rolling,
Many a turnin' I turn, many a lesson I learn
From following them fairgrounds a-calling.

And it's roll back down to St. Petersburg
Tie down the trailers and camp 'em
And the money that we made will pay for the space
From following them dusty old fairgrounds a-calling.
Bob Dylan - "Dusty Old Fairgrounds"

"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 10-08-2008   #47
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

1. I will keep my acts, performance and behavior in good taste while I am in costume and makeup. I will remember at all times that I have been accepted as a member of the clown club only to provide others, principally children, with clean clown comedy entertainment. I will remember that a good clown entertains others by making fun of himself or herself and not at the expense or embarrassment of others.

2. I will learn to apply my makeup in a professional manner. I will provide my own costume. I will carry out my appearance and assignment for the entertainment of others and not for personal gain or personal publicity when performing for either the International Club or alley events. I will always try to remain anonymous while in makeup and costume as a clown, though there may be circumstances when it is not reasonably possible to do so.

3. I will neither drink alcoholic beverages nor smoke while in makeup or clown costume. Also, I will not drink alcoholic beverages prior to any clown appearances. I will conduct myself as a gentleman/lady, never interfering with other acts, events, spectators, or individuals. I will not become involved in or tolerate sexual harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or any protected status.

4. I will remove my makeup and change into my street clothes as soon as possible following my appearance, so that I cannot be associated with any incident that may be detrimental to the good name of clowning. I will conduct myself as a gentleman/lady at all times.

5. While on appearance in makeup and costume, I will carry out the directives of the producer or his designated deputies. I will abide by all performance rules without complaint in public.

6. I will do my very best to maintain the best clown standards of makeup, costuming, properties, and comedy.

7. I will appear in as many clown shows as I possibly can.

8. I will be committed to providing an atmosphere free of discrimination and harassment for clowns of all ages to share ideas and learn about the art of clowning.
"Clown Code of Ethics - The Eight Clown Commandments"

"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 10-09-2008   #48
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"Clowns work as well as aspirin, but twice as fast."
--Groucho Marx

"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 10-10-2008   #49
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

Dear Mr. Whizzo,
I saw your advert in the Chronicle and I was wondering whether you can bring your show to my son’s birthday party on 24 July. You will be required at 3 p.m. at the above address. Please let me know if you require any additional equipment. When confirming your availability for the date, please quote your fee and I will, by return, finalise the arrangement.
Yours sincerely, Mrs. Tidy
P.S. It is a young teenage party, so any dubious props will not be required. Conjuring, balloon-bending and juggling all would be fine. I don’t suppose you’re into jiggery-pokery, anyway.

*
Dear Mrs. Tidy,
I am grateful for your letter which I only received today. The postman is not so lightning quick with his prestidigitation as I! Anyway, I shall be delighted to attend your son’s party at the appointed time. The fee will be at your discretion according to satisfaction.
Yours dutifully “Whizzo”.
P.S. My speciality is sawing a lady in half. I hope you do not consider THIS trick to be dubious.

*
Dear Mr. Whizzo,
With reference to your letter of 21 July, I am pleased to confirm the arrangement. Do you know this part of the town? Our address is not in some of the street maps, believe it or not. To assist you, I attach a little hand-written sketch that takes you from the Broadway. We are at the end of the cul-de-sac that you can see I have called Brown Street because that is on the nameplate up on the end terrace, but the correct postal address is as you see it at the head of my letter. Any problems, please ring the telephone number shown which is my neighbour’s (we don’t have one ourselves). With regard to your P.S. I have only just had the carpet cleaned, so I would prefer you to give that particular trick a miss. I look forward to meeting you on the day. My son is over the moon.
Yours sincerely, Mrs. Tidy.

*
Dear Mrs. Tidy,
I am sorry I did not attend the party. It was not for the want of trying. But my sense of direction is as bad as my rabbit-pulling is good, no doubt. Brown Street turned out to be a long, endless road of semis where some of the houses were unnumbered and others randomly so it seemed. As for the telephone number you gave me, it got hold of someone who said they couldn’t hear me because of a lot of noise from their neighbours. I hope your son was not too disappointed by my non-appearance. I expect he has grown out of my old tricks, anyway.
Regards, “Whizzo”.
P.S. Call me again when your grandchildren arrive!


*
Dear Mr. Whizzo,
Thank you for your letter. I am extremely mystified by what you write. If it was not you who gave such a splendid performance at my son’s party, who was it? When you stepped into our broom cupboard under the stairs saying that when we opened it again you would be gone - and you were right, nothing but the gas meter chatting numbers through. And not one false bottom to be seen, of course, as lesser magicians so often use at the Variety House. I think it’s marvellous indeed you using my house as a prop. You ought to go on the stage! We did get a lot of complaints, however, from parents whose kids never came back from that game of Hide and Seek you organised. No complaints from me, though! I hope that small token of my appreciation I gave you was sufficient recompense. I was so head over heels with excitement, I didn’t know my fingers from my thumbs. Anyway, I assure you that I shall recommend you highly to my friends at the Ladies Group. By the way, your trick of making the house next door completely disappear along with everybody in it was really a coup-de-theatre.
Yours, Agnes Tidy.
P.S. I liked your cheeky costume. Very snazzy! Who sewed on all the sequins?
D. F. Lewis - "Dear Mr. Whizzo"

"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 10-11-2008   #50
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Re: Clown Passage of the Day

"Clowns and elephants are the pegs on which the circus is hung."
--P. T. Barnum

"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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