Cambridge Wildlife Arts Series: Show Trailer Debut

Wednesday, April 20th 2021

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Here it is! A trailer for the wildlife show I have been hosting:

OUR ANIMAL NEIGHBORS IN CAMBRIDGE – TRAILER for SERIES [1:20]:

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Granted, the program is low budget, but dang! I never knew how very many different animal species even live in our Fair City. And I never imagined how much getting to interview a bonafide ornithologist would spark my interest and delight in observing and identifying so many different species of BIRDS that have been all around me this whole time!

Stay tuned here for episodes once they become available, or just subscribe to Cambridge Wildlife Arts on YouTube!

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Cambridge Wildlife Arts. Tune in on YouTube on April 27 for the first episode!

Episodes will be released at 4:00 on Mondays and Wednesdays.

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Mark Rober: The Truth About My Son

Sunday, April 18th 2021

IDK ’bout you, but I love me some Mark Rober videos.

In fact, I’d bet you either;

a) Already love Mark Rober too, or b) Haven’t seen him yet.

(He’s a mechanical engineer with an incredible sense of mischief, curiosity science and humour.)

But today’s video really got me, as he took us inside the world of his son who is on the Autism Spectrum.

Here it is:

Mark Rober: The Truth About My Son [8:23]:

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I hope you enjoy this and lots of other Mark Rober videos.

(And tune in April 30th!)

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Stained Glass Heart by Gavin
Posted in activism, art, childhood, comedy, faith, family, fighting Fascism, health, history, Hospital Clowning, Laughter League, learning, love, making art, mental health, money, nature, parenthood, parenting, patience, Performing Life, persistence, science, spirituality | Leave a comment

Hospital Clowning: Zoom Bingo & More with Dr. Gon Golphin

Wednesday, April 7th 2021

Dr. Gon Golphin and Dr. Be Bopper host CLOWN BINGO virtually through the Ryan Seacrest Studio for patients at Boston Children’s Hospital.

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Today’s rounds were performed courtesy of Dr. Mal in plain clothes serving as “Tour Guide” carrying the iPad with two of us clowns on it, geared up and ready to play. As of yet we’re still mostly remote due to Covid in spite of all being vaccinated and rearing to get back in person. Dr. Mal follows all the hygiene and medical protocol and gets us into the room, then it’s up to us to engage the child.

Today was notable for two different young ones of similar age, each of whom were extremely shy and demure when we entered. Fortunately a little music did the trick and opened them right up. With the first one, after three songs, I finally test the water and overtly invite the patient to engage. “OK, I’ll play this next one, and maybe you can tell me if it’s right.”

It’s the only song I know from “Frozen,” and the patient -who up ’til now hasn’t said anything to us- says, “That was right. That was really right.” And just like that they engage, play with us, and even help Dr. Gon Golphin with a magic trick.

The other similar patient I mentioned who also wasn’t talking to us until the song was over, raised both hands over their head and clapped with one arm in a bright little neon cast. So damn cute.

Another patient we saw was a teenager with a pretty disaffected demeanor, but thanks to the power of fart jokes we got plenty of smiles there and maybe even a couple guffaws.

Finally there’s a patient who is there for their own protection both from Covid-induced “behavioral” issues (aka: depression and worse), and also to protect them from an abusive family member. We are finding lots more kids with this profile than before Covid-19, and sometimes they end up sharing information about their precarious circumstances. We delicately navigate the situation and keep the focus on the child and the play. Then after the visit we collaborate with the Child Life Specialists to make sure they are aware of anything we may have unexpectedly discovered. I never dreamed a life of performing would bring me so close to certain heart breaking circumstances. But these kids deserve validation and laughter more than anyone and I could not be more grateful to try to help deliver it.

Anyway, FWIW here is the only song I know from Frozen.

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2021-04-07 Reindeers Are Better Than People [1:07]:

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Posted in art, childhood, Clowning, comedy, Corona Quarantine, faith, health, Hospital Clowning, juggling, Laughter League, learning, love, making art, mental health, music, Performing Life, persistence, tragedy, ukeoke, ukulele, work | Leave a comment

Hospital Clowning: Eccentric Principles Workshop with Avner

Tuesday, April 6th 2021

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Today begins a six week course over Zoom with Avner. To those of us in variety arts, Avner is a legend. A juggler, variety performer, movie actor, broadway star, magician, mentor, friend, and world renowned plain-clothes clown. More recently he’s mastered the roles of hypnotist, sourdough bread baker, dog owner and grandfather.

Avner’s son and granddaughter crash the workshop.

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My classmates in this workshop hail from Colorado, California, Montreal, Liepzig and Berlin Germany, Australia, and three hospital clowns from Malaysia! Avner conjures us all from his home on Peak’s Island off the coast of Maine.

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Avner demonstrates a LeCoq Movement.

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Some of what we covered today:

  • Clowning is an approach to performing.
  • The body tells the story. Words are just filler.
  • Don’t go outside your comfort zone; EXPAND your Comfort Zone!
  • Performing should be joyous and fun.
  • Every movement is associated with a breath; movement and breath are linked.
  • When you stop breathing, the Audience becomes anxious.
  • We must *allow* the Audience to fall into rapport with us (with breath).
  • The *work* happens on the Stage; the Story happens in the mind of the Audience.
  • We are the brush; the Audience are the canvas and the paint.
  • Our job as performers is to Create and Maintain Rapport.
  • Never try to be interesting. Be INTERESTED!
  • aka: Have the emotional response yourself and then invite Audience to share that with you.
  • The focus of a performance in any setting is to Solve Problems.
  • (Preferably in an interesting way!)

To wit:

Avner demonstrates the instantaneous shoe tying technique.

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And this leads to our first assignment;

  • Find an interesting way to solve an ordinary problem (and submit it by videotape).
  • Also to practice the LeCoq movement (incl. backwards?). Also;
  • Choose one of his little origami projects to learn as well, and perform it for one person.

Okay I’ve got my work cut out for me. Here’s a little taste of Avner for you:

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Avner The Eccentric – Exceptions to Gravity – LIVE at The Reg [2:48]:

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To be continued.


(o:

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Performing Life: Playing the Fool with Global Play Brigade

Tuesday, April 6th 2021

Global Play Brigade workshop with Jeff Smithson and Marian Rich

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Today I get to take a sweet little clown workshop online with performers from around the world. If you look in the Zoom boxes you can see Boston, Atlanta, New York & California in the US alone. Then there is London, Mexico City, The Netherlands, Greece, Stockholm Sweden, Beijing China and Niger West Africa. This all courtesy of The Global Play Brigade; Amazing!

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The workshop is designed to help us access our different “motors”:

HEAD: Intellectual; stickish movement, seeks to control.

HEART: Emotional; veil-like movement, seeks approval.

GUT: Instinctual; ball-like movement, seeks survival.

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And moreover; to practice non-attachment, to let go, and to laugh at ourselves. That is;

P.L.A.Y. = Practice Laughing At Yourself!

First we practice Non-Attachment.

Aka: “Letting Go,” “Allowing,” or “Noticing.

Then, because my breakout room partner did not show up, I get paired with the two workshop teachers for the personalized mocking exercise. I choose the frown-line on my forehead. First they respond just plain empathetically. Secondly they respond by mocking it. With a spirit of love and respect, but actual mocking. Finally they respond by mocking it with ridiculous over the top ridiculousness.

Jeff Smithson & Marian Rich *help* me laugh at myself!

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Although I didn’t get to mock them back, I do grab some compromising screen shots of Jeff, who is also a beloved clown partner and friend.

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We then do basically the opposite exercise, “Reverse Trash Talk,” where you passionately and aggressively compliment your partner. “Oh YEAH!?! Well *I* think your SMILE is TERRIFIC!! I LOVE IT!!!”

Great exercise! I highly recommend it.

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Here we are practicing some face isolation exercises:

Try to smile and frown at the same time, lol.

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And speaking of faces, I get to see one of my very favorite ones of all time in the workshop today. I’m sure a random screen shot cannot convey how wondrously beautiful, intelligent and talented is this person, but all the same I present the other healthcare clown in today’s workshop; from Humorology Atlanta, the incomparable Denise Arrabas!

The incomparable Denise Arrabas

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Another exquisite human being I am going to hug the crap out of once I get the chance again.

Anyway, two thumbs up for the Global Play Brigade!

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#HospitalClowning


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AT RISE: Ten Seconds to Talk

Friday, April 2nd 2021

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AT RISE: It’s Friday night and the amazing Oberhauser Four are deciding what to watch on TV.

MOM: How about Falcon and the Winter Soldier?

CJ & GAV: OOO-OOO-OOOHHH!! [Simultaeneously] JINX!!!

CJ: [Knocks on wooden table where she’s standing.] One-two-three-four-five-six-seven…

GAV Crap! [Dives from couch to hardwood floor. Knocks on wood.] One-two…

CJ: ...eight-nine-ten-YOU’RE JINXED!

MOM: Awww! [Heckling her son.] No chance. Not even close!

CJ: [Squeals in delight.]. OK but don’t.. don’t say his name or anything.

GAV: [Gets up.]

MOM: OK fine but be nice to him!

CJ: OK OK OK! I will. I’ll just… [looks at brother] torture him a little bit.

MOM: Right. ‘Cuz that’s nice.

GAV: [Starts miming frantically.]

CJ: Well well... [Looks at her brother.] Fine. Ten seconds to talk.

GAV: [Speaking up.]. You know what? I’m so nice to you!

CJ: That’s true. [Giggles.]

GAV: What have I… When have I ever… [Looks at parents.]. Name one thing I’ve done that was mean to her!

CJ: Ten seconds are up!

EVERYONE: [Laughs.]

SCENE.

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AT RISE: Sharing is Caring

Friday, April 2nd 2021

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AT RISE: Girl is sitting at Boy’s desk. Boy is standing next to her. They are engrossed in Minecraft on the computer. Kitten is along for the ride.

BOY: [Snags a couple oyster crackers from the bowl on his desk.]

GIRL: [Defending her snack.]. HEY!!

BOY: Hey, listen! I’m letting you use my computer. AND my desk. You can let me have some of your snack!

GIRL: OK, fine.

SCENE.

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Posted in animals, art, childhood, comedy, Corona Quarantine, domestic life, evidence they get along, faith, family, fight, fighting Fascism, food, forgiveness, global inequity, health, learning, Look at that Cat, love, mental health, parenthood, patience, politics, siblings, Social Democracy, social justice, Socialism? | Leave a comment

Signs of Hope: Quackenstein Edition

Wednesday, March 31st 2021

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Professor Quackenstein and the Boston Duck Boats are coming back. Two of our city’s absolute jewels are coming baaaaack!

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Boston Duck Tours Optimistic About 2021 Season [2:36]:

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#DanFoley


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Posted in art, Clowning, comedy, Corona Quarantine, health, history, learning, love, making art, mental health, money, patience, Performing Life, persistence, travel, work | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

AT RISE: Why Me Cold

Monday, March 29th 2021

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AT RISE: It’s morning in the distance learning homeschool. Mom is crossing the room from the kitchen when Boy stands up from his desk.

BOY: Haha, I just figured out why I’m cold. [Heads towards bedroom.] I was wondering then I realized I’m not wearing a jacket or anything. [Crosses in front of mom.]

MOM: [Quickly yanks down his pants.] Or pants!

BOY: What! [Cracks up.] YOU!! [Pulls up pants.]

MOM: Haha! Your mom isn’t boring! [Mocking voice.] Waaah! Poor baby!

BOY: Dammit! You know what? [Pause… thinking of the most insulting thing to say.] Go make me a sandwich!

MOM: Haha, that’s fair. Lemme guess; a toasted open face bagel with cream cheese and capers.

BOY: Yes, actually!

MOM: Fine!

BOY: Fine!

SCENE.



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AT RISE: Peter Parkour is Breathing Funny

Sunday, March 28th 2021

Bed Cat Hat

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AT RISE: It’s late night. Mom and Dad are vegging on the couch. Youngest child slowly appears in the room.

MOM & DAD: [Turn heads to look at her.]

CJ: Um! Uh… well. Um, Peter Parker was curled up on my pillow. You know; being my hat?

MOM & DAD: [Chuckle, nod.]

CJ: And… well, he’s breathing funny. It sounds like… It sounds like he’s got a piece of mucous stuck in his throat or something!

MOM: OK thanks honey [getting up]. I’ll come take a listen. [Follows girl into her bedroom.]

MOM & CJ: [Arrive at girl’s bed to find cat still curled up on pillow, but awake and looking up at them curiously.]

CJ: Well, he’s not doing it now. But he was doing it before when he was asleep!

MOM: Oh! [Stifling laughter.]. Oh honey. [Starting to chortle.]. He… he was just snoring!

CJ and MOM: [Bust out laughing. Keep laughing. Start hugging each other laughing.]

MOM: But that was so sweet of you to be concerned!

MOM & CJ: [Look at cat together. Laugh.]

CAT: [Looks back at them, alarmed.]

MOM & CJ: [Laugh at themselves laughing at cat. Laugh some more…]

SCENE.

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