Supersoaking the Neighbors

May 18th 2021

.

After 14 months of pandemic social *distancing,* I’m pleased as punch that the kids persuaded me to take them shopping for “Supersoakers” on this first hot day of the year.

.

2021-05-18 Supersoaking the Neighbors [0:29]:

.

Huzzah!

.


Posted in childhood, comedy, Corona Quarantine, fight, forgiveness, Friendship, health, history, love, mental health, nature, parenthood, Vitamin N | Tagged , | 2 Comments

UNMASKED & ENTITLED at NORDSTROM RACK

Friday, May 7th 2021

Simply too fun not to share.

(And too short not to watch!)

.

UNMASKED & ENTITLED at NORDSTROM RACK [0:36]:

.


Posted in activism, art, Black Lives Matter, comedy, Corona Quarantine, fight, history, learning, politics, Religious Hypocrisy, science, social justice, Socialism? | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Gavin’s Animation

May 7th 2021

.

On this day my son sent me an email from school with this link, titled “My Animation!”

.

I don’t know how he did it, but I do love it.

Maybe sometime we can add sound.

In the meantime, enjoy the deliberate timing of the little airplane getting stuck for a moment, and THEN exploding.

He said it was very tedious and took a lot of work to arrange every single pixel in every frame and to get the timing exactly how he wanted it.

Just another gem of delight from the wonderful mind of this beautiful young human.

Motherhood is ridiculous but also rewarding.

Love it, Boy!

Always,

Momb (o;

.


Posted in art, childhood, Clowning, comedy, education, learning, making art, mental health, parenthood, persistence, school, science, travel | Leave a comment

Hospital Clowning: The Epidemic’s Epidemic

Wednesday, April 28th 2021

Locked, loaded and sanitized with Dr. Bucket Buster & Doc Skeeter on board.

.

It’s no wonder I never managed to post about my first day back in person after a pandemic year of performing remotely; it’s the end of my second day back now and I’m pretty wiped.

Today it’s my job to bring the iPad around to patients in the hospital; targeted patients by staff request, one unit at a time. It is a miracle we’re still able to create meaningful connections -and even laughter- over Zoom. Patients’ faces are often behind masks, the view of them is often backlit and hard or even impossible to see, the facilitator (eg: me) is generally there awkwardly holding the iPad in whatever position, and everything is so ubiquitously 2-dimensional and tiny in those little rectangles on the screen. But on the other end of that screen are two trained professional goofballl hospital clowns whose job it is to divine imagination, creation and laughter in that environment; like water in a desert.

Setting foot in Boston Children’s Hospital these days does not have the same magical appeal it used to. It *feels* like a hospital; drab, colorless, downtrodden, ugh. Never in my life have I felt our skills as performers are more needed than now and here.

Add to that the epidemic’s epidemic of kids onboarding because of what is euphamistically called “Behavioral” reasons. That means depression, aggression towards others, self-harm, suicide attempts, victims of domestic abuse and all manner of heartbreak. The Covid-19 has wrecked exponential havoc in the personal lives and healthy development of our KIDS.

.

In come the clowns and we connect with these absolutely gorgeous, vibrant, beautiful young souls in these conditions; it’s already a tightwire act going into any hospital room because there are always precautions and issues to consider and/or avoid in the first place. Add to that the concept that these kids want to harm themselves, or are surviving gross neglect or harm at the hands of others. It’s a mental juggling act. Our job is of course to conjure creativity around and above the fray, find the actual child inside and entice them to play, be silly, be boss, or whatever else the improvisation may unveil.

Today I will share two visits.

.

One is a tweenage child (the exact age of my healthy child…) sitting on the floor between an indifferent parent and a hospital-appointed, professional minder. With few words and no smile, the child climbs up onto the bed to abide our visit. They engage and agree and participate with our clowns as they help assess dumb jokes, imagine what kind of mural they should paint on Doc Skeeter’s shed (a dog peeing on a tree…) and prompt a spontaneous fashion show. Sadly the parent sits idle the whole time staring at their phone, ignoring us and their child as if nothing is happening whatsoever. All I can do is give thanks that for those 12 minutes or so we are able to engage this gorgeous child’s imagination and treat them as the important, wonderful and worthy young human being they are. And hope that some outcome can be found involving no more suicide attempts.

.

On the other hand, here we are later on in the Emergency Department. Yet another young child here for self-harm, depression and “increased aggression.” This time with a bright-eyed mom and a shell-shocked dad. Well, this visit is this kind I almost don’t like to take any credit for because it feels like we hardly did anything but show up. Kiddo is eager for action, ready to PLAY, and deserves all the credit for their successful visit to the point of making OUR day better. Jokes, silliness, hysterical laughter, and also taking control of the iPad in order to “shake” the clowns. Dr. Bucket Buster and Doc Skeeter may have gotten a bigger workout than they intended, flailing around within their Zoom squares as the child manipulates them by turning and shaking the iPad in every direction. I may have left them in that predicament longer than necessary, but when a patient has taken control of the visit, is forgetting everything but abject hilarity… we are absolutely going to lean into the boundaries of how long we can keep that going.

.


Posted in art, Black Lives Matter, childhood, Clowning, comedy, Corona Quarantine, family, grandparenthood, health, history, homeschool, Hospital Clowning, Laughter League, learning, love, making art, mental health, parenthood, parenting, Performing Life, persistence, school, science, spirituality, tragedy, work | Leave a comment

Cambridge Wildlife Arts Episode 1: Cardinals!

Wednesday, April 28th 2021

What’s red and black—but sometimes peachy brown?

On this first episode, meet an animal neighbor that’s easy to spot, and a local biologist, Dr. Scott V. Edwards, who knows all about it. Hosted by Jenny the Juggler!

.

Our Animal Neighbors in Cambridge: Episode 1 [10:23]:

.

Our Animal Neighbors in Cambridge is a 6-part series debuting in Spring 2021. Tune into the Cambridge Wildlife Arts YouTube Channel every Monday and Wednesday at 4:00 p.m. for the premieres, April 29–May 19.

Visit https://www.greencambridge.org/ouranimalneighbors.html​ for arts and activities related to the series.

Cambridge Wildlife Arts, a program of Green Cambridge, produces Our Animal Neighbors in Cambridge with support from Cambridge Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Visit us at greencambridge.org.

.


*

Posted in animals, art, Black Lives Matter, bunnies, camping, cats, climate justice, comedy, Corona Quarantine, education, family, fighting Fascism, food, Friendship, health, history, learning, love, making art, mental health, music, nature, science, spirituality, travel, ukulele, Vitamin N, work, work-life balance | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Cambridge Wildlife Arts Series: Show Trailer Debut

Wednesday, April 20th 2021

.

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

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

.

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!

.

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.

.


*

Posted in activism, animals, art, Black Lives Matter, Corona Quarantine, education, family, fighting Fascism, global inequity, health, history, learning, love, making art, mental health, music, nature, Performing Life, science, spirituality, ukulele | Leave a comment

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]:

.

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

(And tune in April 30th!)

.


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.

.

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.

.

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

.


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

.

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.

.

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.

.

Avner demonstrates a LeCoq Movement.

.

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.

.

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:

.

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

.

To be continued.


(o:

Posted in art, Clowning, comedy, Corona Quarantine, education, faith, famiglia, fighting Fascism, health, history, Hospital Clowning, juggling, learning, love, making art, mental health, patience, Performing Life, persistence, Secret Juggler, work, work-life balance | Leave a comment

Performing Life: Playing the Fool with Global Play Brigade

Tuesday, April 6th 2021

Global Play Brigade workshop with Jeff Smithson and Marian Rich

.

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!

.

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.

.

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!

.

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.

.

.

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.

.

Here we are practicing some face isolation exercises:

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

.

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

.

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!

.

#HospitalClowning


Posted in activism, art, Clowning, comedy, Corona Quarantine, education, faith, famiglia, fighting Fascism, forgiveness, Friendship, health, history, Hospital Clowning, Laughter League, learning, love, making art, mental health, Mindfulness, parenthood, patience, Performing Life, Secret Juggler, what’s “work-life balance?”, work, work-life balance | 2 Comments