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Author Topic: EP391: Making My Entrance Again With My Usual Flair  (Read 1892 times)
eytanz
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« on: April 12, 2013, 03:52:03 AM »

EP391: Making My Entrance Again With My Usual Flair

By Ken Scholes

Read by Bill Bowman

--

No one ever asks a clown at the end of his life what he really wanted to be when he grew up. It’s fairly obvious. No one gets hijacked into the circus. We race to it, the smell of hotdogs leading us in, our fingers aching for the sticky pull of taffy, the electric shock of pink cotton on our tongue. Ask a lawyer and he’ll say when he was a kid he wanted to be an astronaut. Ask an accountant; he’ll say he wanted to be fireman.

I am a clown. I have always wanted to be a clown. And I will die a clown if I have my way.

My name is Merton D. Kamal.

The Kamal comes from my father. I never met the man so I have no idea how he came by it. Mom got the Merton bit from some monk she used to read who wrote something like this: We learn humility by being humiliated often. Given how easily (and how frequently) Kamal is pronounced Camel, and given how the D just stands for D, you can see that she wanted her only child to be absolutely filled to the brim with humility.

My Mom is a deeply spiritual woman.

But enough about her. This is my story.

“Merton,” the ringmaster and owner Rufus P. Stowell said, “it’s just not working out.”

I was pushing forty. I’d lost some weight and everyone knows kids love a chubby clown. I’d also taken up drinking which didn’t go over well right before a show. So suddenly, I found myself without prospects and I turned myself towards home, riding into Seattle by bus on a cold November night.

Mom met me at the bus stop. She had no business driving but she came out anyway. She was standing on the sidewalk next to the station wagon when she saw me. We hugged.

“I’m glad you’re home,” she said.

I lifted my bag into the back. “Thanks.”

“Are you hungry?”

“Not really.”

We went to Denny’s anyway. Whenever my Mom wanted to talk, we went to Denny’s. It’s where she took me to tell me about boys and girls, it’s where she took me to tell me that my dog had been hit by a car.

“So what are you going to do now?” She cut and speared a chunk of meatloaf, then dipped it into her mashed potatoes and gravy before raising it to her mouth.

“I don’t know,” I said. “I guess I’ll fatten up, quit drinking, get back into the business.” I watched her left eyebrow twitch—a sure sign of disapproval. I hefted my double bacon cheeseburger, then paused. “Why? What do you think I should do?”

She leaned forward. She brought her wrinkled hand up and cupped my cheek with it. Then she smiled. “I think you’ve already tried the clown thing, Merton. Why don’t you try something different?”


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!
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chemistryguy
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« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2013, 06:00:16 AM »

Humor is truly a personal thing.  I liked the set up for this one, and Bill Bowman was a great match for the story's tone.  

It's just...when we got to the dialogue with the space monkey...I just didn't find it funny at all.  I wanted to enjoy it, but I couldn't.  Using tired, old tropes only weakened everything.  The story should have either made more sense or absolutely no sense at all.

What were Merton's responsibilities after he delivered his package to Area 51?  Were there a whole bunch of defected space aliens disguised in such a way that it would be less conspicuous for a clown to transport them?  This one didn't work for me.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2013, 06:05:12 AM by chemistryguy » Logged

Listener
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« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2013, 07:05:48 AM »

I found the reading good and the story humorous in places, but the story itself didn't stick with me like some others have. I liked listening to it, but I probably wouldn't read it again.
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Thunderscreech
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« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2013, 09:16:14 AM »

I loved it.  That detailed thank you letter at the end, oh boy.  Cracked me up.
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timprov
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« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2013, 01:02:20 PM »

This is the best story I've heard here since the Punk Rock aliens one.  After last weeks story I'm glad to see something light and fun, wish we had more like this one. 
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lyda
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« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2013, 04:57:43 PM »

I loved it.  That detailed thank you letter at the end, oh boy.  Cracked me up.

Yes! Will he ever learn?

You have to wonder what job she'll have for him after that if he ever returns.
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InfiniteMonkey
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« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2013, 07:30:05 PM »

I loved the hell out of this story. Yeah, sure, it was only mildly substantial, but so what? (I mean, really, how often does a talking monkey go wrong?).

I loved it for personal reasons. I had a college roommate who ran away from clown college to come back to actual college.

It got a lot of the Seattle detail right (there are two large insurance companies, Safeco and Pemco. Well, there were, but that's another story). Sadly, there's no drunk Rubik's Cube, but the EMP/Science Fiction Museum looks like the architect was drunk.

I loved the Ian Sholes -esque narration (there's an old reference for the young'uns).
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Brynn
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« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2013, 09:49:35 PM »

This is like a tamer version of Robbie Williams' song, Me and My Monkey. I love bizarre stories like this. I enjoyed it!
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JDoug
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« Reply #8 on: April 13, 2013, 05:30:41 PM »

I loved it.  That detailed thank you letter at the end, oh boy.  Cracked me up.

This was my favorite part of a very enjoyable story.
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MCWagner
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« Reply #9 on: April 15, 2013, 12:55:27 PM »

Had great fun with this story, though I'm afraid the ending was a bit spoiled for me:  I thought I'd already listened to this one and skimmed the text version to remind myself about the story's content.  Read the final punchline first (whoops).

I especially like the easygoing nature of the story and the way that was matched by both the speaker and the talking "monkey."  (Only missing joke I would've liked to see would have been a little faux-pedantic bit about him not being a talking monkey... chimps are apes since they ain't got tails.)  I think this gave it an airier, lighter feel which made it stand out despite being a rather well-worn trope (befriending a captured alien and then freeing him has certainly been done before).  Liked the narration, liked the pacing.
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12obin
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« Reply #10 on: April 15, 2013, 02:24:19 PM »

After last weeks story I'm glad to see something light and fun, wish we had more like this one. 

Same here. I liked the humor even if it didn't make me actually laugh. I liked the pace of it, the sort of pulp feel, and I feel like it started and ended at exactly the right moments, which is a trick. And yeah, the reader and story were a good match. Nice.
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Lambear
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« Reply #11 on: April 16, 2013, 07:32:47 PM »

I found this one enjoyable. Felt like it was similar to the movie Paul, but better (I really didn't like Paul). I certainly wouldn't call it amazing, but I think it accomplished its goal of being light and fun. And it's nice to see clowns in a good light now and then, they seem to always get a bad rap.
The casual adultery at the end wasn't my favorite, but I see how it played into the relationship between the two of them and the setup for the running gag of his little note. It also revealed a bit more of his character in that his true pleasure was found in the circus life.
I also agree that the narration was spot-on for this, really good match.
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Windup
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« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2013, 08:49:36 PM »

Yeah, that was fun.  I liked the detail of the third eye disappearing, and the near perfect match between narrator and content.
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TheArchivist
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« Reply #13 on: April 17, 2013, 08:39:55 AM »

I loved it.  That detailed thank you letter at the end, oh boy.  Cracked me up.

Yes! Will he ever learn?
I don't know that he intends to! I loved the circularity of him making that same idiot mistake again under such similar circumstances, but couldn't help thinking he knew full well what he was doing this time. After all, I reckon he'd pretty much decided she was a baddy by that point and the space-alien-not-a-monkey was the good guy (hey, he loves the circus, he must be!). Merton isn't a particularly good man, and he doesn't get any better, but I sided with him, believed in him, rooted for him. The story starts with a problem for him and he's resolved it entirely to his own satisfaction by the end, so it was satisfying. Plus the little details others have mentioned - all good.

Narration was good too and suited the story great.
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matweller
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« Reply #14 on: April 17, 2013, 01:02:42 PM »

I loved it.  That detailed thank you letter at the end, oh boy.  Cracked me up.

Yes! Will he ever learn?
I don't know that he intends to! I loved the circularity of him making that same idiot mistake again under such similar circumstances, but couldn't help thinking he knew full well what he was doing this time.

I don't think he would have considered anything he did as a mistake. He was perfectly content and unapologetic with everything he did. If anything, it's a cool full play of the old line, "If I had it to do all over again, I absolutely would in a heartbeat."
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smithmikeg
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« Reply #15 on: April 17, 2013, 02:02:41 PM »

Lighthearted, enjoyable monkey business.

What?  Cheesy
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quia ego sic dico
Devoted135
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« Reply #16 on: April 18, 2013, 12:00:57 PM »

Poor, misunderstood clown. All he wanted to do was make people happy... Cheesy

Seriously though, I was definitely feeling frustrated for him as things seemed to be going from bad to worse. (Though honestly, who "accidentally" loses weight? And why can't clowns be skinny?) I'm glad that the alien monkey tracked him down and I hope that they have many adventures in their future. Smiley
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flintknapper
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« Reply #17 on: April 19, 2013, 01:36:36 PM »

Every story should have a monkey in it.... err... alien.

The story was fun and made me smile. Narration was also good. No complaints. 
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Lionman
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« Reply #18 on: April 23, 2013, 09:25:13 AM »

I loved the hell out of this story. Yeah, sure, it was only mildly substantial, but so what? (I mean, really, how often does a talking monkey go wrong?).

I loved it for personal reasons. I had a college roommate who ran away from clown college to come back to actual college.

It got a lot of the Seattle detail right (there are two large insurance companies, Safeco and Pemco. Well, there were, but that's another story). Sadly, there's no drunk Rubik's Cube, but the EMP/Science Fiction Museum looks like the architect was drunk.

I loved the Ian Sholes -esque narration (there's an old reference for the young'uns).

And here I thought you'd liked it because to had your cousin as a secondary character and main plot point! ;-)

More seriously, I have to agree that it was a fun story, not taking itself terribly seriously.  And I imagine that only a lifelong clown could have done quite so "well" with a talking monkey-alien than anyone else.  The sanity-questioning was brief, to the point, then he moved right along, as any other self-respecting clown would do!
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CryptoMe
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« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2013, 01:30:11 AM »

I loved it.  That detailed thank you letter at the end, oh boy.  Cracked me up.

I scared a couple of senior citizens who were out strolling in the park when I laughed out loud at that line during my run. It made the line even funnier.
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