My Distracting Thought To Start The Year


An alternate history where the big change is that “Entrance of the Gladiators” never gets arranged to play at circuses as the “Here Come The Clowns” music, because “Pomp and Circumstance” got that treatment first.

In Which I Evaluate Some Phobias


As this is a time of year to celebrate what scares us, let’s review some phobias.

The Fear that You Will Not Find Any Of These Greeting Cards Has The Right Tone to Send. The most common fear of all, outranking fears of death, falling to death, public speaking while dead, and dentistry while dead (receiving or performing). Take comfort. The last greeting card with the right tone was a Father’s Day card last sold in 1992. Just write something nice and apologize for the card being too flippant or too gushing and, I don’t know. Include some stickers or a ten-dollar bill or whatever. You’re fine.

The Fear that You Will Need To Handle The Toilet Paper While Your Hands Are Still Wet. It happens to us all, we’re in the shower, we need to something unsuitable for the shower, we have to face the consequences. Very good phobia, combining as it does a plausibly common scenario and an inconvenience we somehow take to be embarrassing. I’m not rating these, but seriously? Four out of five, unless you have that extra-soft toilet paper in which case five out of five.

The Fear of A Hole. Not the fear of any hole, mind, or the fear of particular patterns of holes like you see in morels or something. Just the fear of that one Hole. You know the one. But the world is huge, like, almost Earth-size. What are the odds you’ll ever be near that one Hole?

The Fear that You Know Something Almost Everybody Is Wrong About But Can’t Find The Blog Entry That Would Prove It. Endemic to know-it-alls, and terrible because then you feel this thing like shyness or reticence about correcting people. For me, this manifests with where I heard raindrops actually fall with the pointy-end down, round-end top, the opposite of the way we draw them. SEND HELP or at least good citations. Wikipedia doesn’t count.

The Fear that We are Running Out of Halloween Puns. Common and understandable. But we don’t need that many Halloween puns, and since there’s normally a fifty-week gap between times we need to use them, they’re not likely to be overused. If you do need some more, you can listen to some old-time-radio horror show like Inner Sanctum Mysteries and restock. They’ll be as good as new.

The Fear of Clowns. I am told this one is common and if that’s your thing, fine. I’m not feeling it, though. People will argue the point and say, like, isn’t the Pennywise the Clown from It scary? And, like, I guess so. But the scary thing is Pennywise is an immortal unstoppable supernatural monster out to rend the flesh of his victims. Would that be less scary if it were manifest in the form of Bob Newhart? And now that I’ve said that I’d like to see it. I figure it would have to go something like this:

“Hey — hi? Hi, up there? I — no, look down. No, not — over here, in the drain. … Yeah, the sewer. Hi. Uh, you look like a nice kid, what’s your name? … Joey? … Geordie, sorry, I thought you said … oh. Joey. … Not Joey. Could you say it slowly? … Yeah, maybe if you spell — look, Geordie, Joey, whatever … hey, would you — well, I’m in the drain for good reasons. … All right, I’m in the sewer for good reasons. … … What are they? … … Well, uh … they … hey, have you ever tried going in the drain? I don’t mean that kind of going! I mean entering, visiting in the drain. Have it your way, the sewer. Yeah. It’s better than you’d think. … No, I said think, not stink … okay, yes, have … have your little giggle. Yes, it’s very funny … I mean, it’s not that fun … Look, would you like to come down here and I can … give you a toy boat and, uh, rip your arm off and maybe give you a balloon. What? Repeat that? Give you a balloon. See? … Oh, before that … ah, there was a toy boat … Between those? Between the toy boat and the balloon … … … Look, it’s really neat down here, I promise. … Like, we all float down here. Jo … Geor … Sport-o, you’re a kid. Kids like to float, right? … … Well, yeah, it is mostly a lot of water here in the drain. … Yes, in the sewer. … Yeah, pretty much everybody floats in any water. Well, you got one over on ol’ PennyBob there … uh … hey, Georbie(?) … Are there any other kids up there? Could you put one of them on, please? … … … … He — Hello?”

All right, yeah, that is less scary. The clown thing must count for something.

I do not recommend any of these be put on a Phobia Improvement Plan.

Meanwhile in music


We had just left the satellite-radio music channel running, and then looked up at each other when we heard it playing Entry of the Gladiators, you know, the Clown March. As if one person we demanded to know what prog rock band was pulling these shenanigans. “Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, you sit down and think about what you’ve done,” I was starting to say. Anyway it was Three Dog Night, The Show Must Go On, but I think our vague and pointless indignation stands.

Air Bud, Naturally Enough


Adapting Wikipedia’s description of the plot to Air Bud, which needed my attention, naturally enough.


The film opens with an alcoholic abusive clown, Norm Snively, and his Golden Retriever Old Blue, doing a show at a child’s birthday party, naturally enough. Due to Old Blue causing trouble at the birthday party and both being tossed out of the house, Norm angrily takes him in a kennel to a dog pound, until the kennel falls out of his truck, naturally enough. Old Blue is homeless until he meets 12-year-old Josh Framm, naturally enough. After the death of his father, who died in a plane crash during a test flight, Josh relocates with his mom Jackie and 2-year-old sister Andrea from Virginia to Fernfield, Washington, naturally enough. Due to heartbreak over his father’s death, he is too shy to try out for his middle school’s basketball team and to make any friends, naturally enough. He instead becomes the basketball team’s manager, an awkward offer by Coach Barker which he accepts, naturally enough. He practices basketball by himself in a makeshift court that he sets up in an abandoned allotment, where he first meets Old Blue and renames him Buddy, naturally enough. Josh soon discovers that Buddy has the uncanny ability to play basketball, and decides to let Buddy come home with him, naturally enough.

Jackie agrees to let him keep Buddy until Christmas and she plans to send him to the pound if his rightful owner is not located; however, she sees how much Josh loves Buddy and how loyal he is, naturally enough. When Josh wakes up on Christmas and Buddy is not in his room, he goes downstairs and finds Buddy with a bow secured on his head, naturally enough. She gives Buddy to Josh as a present, naturally enough.

Following Christmas, Josh finds a tryout invitation in his locker, although he does not know how it got there, naturally enough. Puzzled on what to do, he further discovers Buddy’s talent when he discovers that he can actually shoot a hoop, naturally enough. These facts together prompt Josh to follow through and try out and he gets a place on the team, naturally enough. At his first game, he befriends teammate Tom Stewart but earns the disdain of star player and team bully Larry Willingham, naturally enough. Meanwhile, Buddy leaves the backyard, goes to the school and shows up while the game is underway, naturally enough. He runs into the court, disrupts the game, and causes mayhem, but the audience loves him after he scores a basket, naturally enough.

After the game and once Buddy is caught by Josh, the former sees Coach Barker abusing Tom by violently pelting him with basketballs in an attempt to make him catch better, naturally enough. He leads Josh, Jackie, and the school principal Ms. Pepper to the scene, naturally enough. As a result, Coach Barker is fired and replaced by the school’s kind-hearted engineer, Arthur Chaney, at Josh’s suggestion, naturally enough. Buddy becomes the mascot of Josh’s school’s basketball team and begins appearing in their halftime shows, naturally enough. After the Timberwolves lose one game, the team has subsequent success and qualifies for the State Final, naturally enough.

Just before the championship game, Norm appears after seeing Buddy on television, naturally enough. Hoping to profit off Buddy’s newfound fame, he forces Jackie to hand over Buddy as he has papers proving that he is Buddy’s legal owner, naturally enough. Knowing they do not have a choice, Jackie forces Josh to do the right thing and give Buddy back to Norm, naturally enough. After a period of feeling withdrawn and depressed, Josh then decides to rescue Buddy, naturally enough. He sneaks into Norm’s backyard, which is muddy and where he finds Buddy chained up, naturally enough. Norm, who is on the phone scheduling performances, initially does not notice Josh in the yard due to a stack of empty beer cans on his windowsill until it falls and Josh is caught in the act, naturally enough. Josh gets the chain from Buddy and they escape, naturally enough. Norm gets into his dilapidated clown truck and pursues Josh and Buddy through a park where Norm scatters a small swing set, a couple’s picnic, the sign of Fernfield, and hits a parked car, naturally enough. The pursuit rages on to a parking lot near a lake, during which Norm’s truck falls apart and crashes into the water, with the latter surviving and swearing vengeance, naturally enough. A few minutes after the pursuit, Josh then decides to set Buddy free in the forest to find a new home, naturally enough. Initially, his team is losing at the next championship to the opposing team until Buddy shows up, naturally enough. When it is discovered that there is no rule that a dog cannot play basketball, Buddy joins the roster to lead the team to a come from behind championship victory, naturally enough.

Norm reappears and attempts to sue the Framm family for custody of Buddy despite lack of ownership papers, naturally enough. Upon seeing Buddy, Judge Cranfield is disgusted and initially reluctant on a case over a dog, but only agrees only under a strict condition of the case being executed seriously, naturally enough. After numerous protests, Arthur arrives and suggests that Buddy chooses his owner, naturally enough. As a fan of Arthur himself, Judge Cranfield accepts his proposal, and moves the court outside to the lawn, naturally enough. The rule is for both parties to call Buddy while staying put on their spots, and one single step towards the dog would result in a loss, naturally enough. During the calling, Norm takes out his roll of newspaper, which he often used as a punishment to hit Buddy, and yells at him, naturally enough. Buddy angrily rushes at Norm, bites him, rips up the newspaper, and runs towards Josh, naturally enough. Judge Cranfield grants legal custody of Buddy to Josh’s family while an angry Norm rushes toward Buddy and Josh in a last ditched effort to try to get Buddy to himself, but is leed away by the police and arrested for animal cruelty, while Josh and the rest of the citizens rejoice and gather around Buddy to welcome him home, naturally enough.


Because a movie about a dog that plays basketball needs a subplot about a custody battle on behalf of an alcoholic abusive clown, naturally enough?

My Well-Scheduled City Plan


OK, so my brilliant plan. I’m going to find one of those cities where people will invite me to events but not really care whether I show up or not, so that I don’t have to show up. However, when I do go to events I’m going to show up with a confederate. We’ll be ready with a stock conversation that we can make vamp as long as necessary, so that during a lull in the room chatter I can say as loudly as I can manage, “19th Century superclown Dan Rice”. Then my voice fades back into the background, letting people wonder what possibly preceded or followed that. All this will take some effort, because I’m a soft-spoken person. There’s people who’ve known me in real life for years and couldn’t pick out my voice from a collection of random voices or ambient sound effects. Two of them are my siblings. But I’ll rally my voice and find some way to do it at no less than one even per week. Done.

Statistics Saturday on Labor Day: Humor Blogging In August 2014


So on to my monthly examination of whether anyone actually read my little humor blog here anytime recently. The good news is people seem to have: WordPress’s statistics in fact say I had my greatest number yet of unique visitors this past month, 369 of them, up from July’s then-record of 332. The total number of page views declined very slightly, to 682 from July’s record 704, and this suggests the number of views per visitor collapsed very modestly from 2.12 down to 1.85, but I’m comfortable with that. I reached viewer number 7,864 by the end of the month, and 7,865 just after the start of the next.

I had a nice, broad-based popularity this past month, with a remarkable-to-me 27 posts getting ten or more views, so it isn’t like people just find the one, probably Turbo-based, page and ignore the rest of what I have to write. That’s comforting. August 2014’s most popular posts around here were apparently:

From all the nations of the world the United States sent me the most readers in August (514). The United Kingdom nearly doubled its readership (57, up from 32), and Australia came in at 30 which is again some kind of increase though I admit I don’t know how many. And Spain popped in with ten readers which I didn’t see coming. A single reader each came from Germany, Moldova, Qatar, Sweden, and Uruguay. Germany was the only single-reader country last month. India, which went from one reader in May and June, to three in July, was up to six in August. This is a pretty good trend, though I’m still doing rather better per-capita in Singapore (three).

And, so, what search terms bring people around here? It hasn’t been the kind of month to inspire much poetry but among the search terms have een:

  • robert benchley
  • koko clown end of world
  • turbo the film facts kids (also) what was an interesting fact about turbo the movie
  • 2038 dave barry
  • joan randall barefoot captain future

I don’t understand that last one either.

What You Notice In Old Videos


So, do you ever go back and look at episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation for reasons other than that you’re hanging out in a Star Trek forum and there’s nothing to do but go over each and every episode and review them all one more time in case someone forgot to mention something? It’s interesting because sometimes you do notice something you never saw before. For example, look at this scene, in a screen capture from the episode “Future Imperfect” where Future Riker looks at his old home movies.

While Riker watches his past self be attacked by a clown I can't help noticing he has a shiny ball on a glass table.

How many times might you have kind of caught this episode while you were doing something else before, like me, you noticed how much Future Riker was looking longingly at the time far in the past when he had a Giant Shiny Ball sitting on his glass table? “Those were good times,” you can imagine Riker thinking. “And it was just moments before the Space Clown attacked.”

Good times, really, good times.

Clown Arrested After Hitting Man In Face With Pi


I’m not precisely sure whether this belongs more as a reblog on my mathematics or my humor blog but, what the heck. Austin Hodgens, the Modern Philosopher, brings to general attention news of Calculo, the Math-Loving Clown. It turns out that Maine is kind of a strange place when you get right down to it.

(I have to admit, I really can’t get into the fear of clowns that so many people report having, but I do have what I think a reasonable and proportionate fear of being smashed in the face with hard, sharp objects, which I think is really important to the goings-on here.)

Hodgens, I should point out, is an indefatigable writer with a long series of “news reports from Maine” which make the place out to sound like a strange, wondrous land of curious events, which is correct.

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

clownCalculo, The Math Loving Clown, was arrested and charged with assault after hitting a Milford man in the face with Pi.

The incident occurred at a child’s birthday party, and the victim, who asked to remain anonymous, was the father of a guest.

According to witnesses, Calculo had been entertaining the guests by making irrational numbers out of balloons, solving humorous math equations, and quizzing kids on the decimal values of fractions.

“Then it kinda went to hell in a hand basket wicked quick,” Tom Beecher, a parent of one of the guests, told this Modern Philosopher.  “The Math Clown asked everyone who loved Pi.  Of course, all the kids raised their hands.  Some of the parents did, too.”

What happened next will be a part of birthday party lore for centuries, and further fuel the world’s fear of both clowns and math.

“He reached into his bag of tricks…

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Pondering Blackbeard


Stipulating that there is an afterlife in which all persons who ever lived are able to meet one another and speak as they like, then, and let’s not consider the sorts of scheduling problems that presents one you really think about it (sure, there are probably only dozens of people today who’d like to talk to 19th century superclown Dan Rice, but when you multiply a dozen people by the over thirty years left until the end of time, that’s a lot of demands on his time, plus he was more popular back in the day), I’d kind of like to be there when someone tracks down Blackbeard and tells him that by the early 21st century, his name is plastered all over stuff like kiddie roller coasters at Great Adventure or some pretty fun miniature golf courses that include randomly selected facts about pirates alongside that agonizing one where the hole is in the middle of this little hill and you just can not possibly get it in without overshooting. I think the confused and awkward silence to follow could be among the greatest confused and awkward silences of all time.