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Today — January 19, 2019

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

Endangered Entertainment Is Going to Be Unpredictable

by Craig Conley

Comedian Kirk Marsh, of the Vendaros Circus.
 

Kirk Marsh, the unpainted clown in the Venardos Circus, says that in comedic performances, the lack of a fourth wall enables direct audience engagement.  What Marsh hints at but doesn't reveal outright is that a circus (root meaning "ring") does away with the other three walls as well.  As in the ancient puzzle of geometry, one cannot square a circle.  Without walls, traditional definitions of entertainment become hazy.  Preconceived boundaries become dotted, like a string of lanterns.  In light of such nebulous freedom, an audience is plunged into a rather profound sense of wonderment, but so are the performers, night after night.  In fact, a cloud of doubt looms over a circus tent, no matter where it is pegged.  "If you're striving to be excellent," ringmaster and producer Kevin Vendaros notes, "you never get to that place where it's all locked and ready to go.  There's a vulnerability.  The cast opens its hearts to the audience."  Just as the audience can't guess what will happen next, the performers are viscerally kept on their toes, moment to moment.  Unlike Hollywood or Vegas-style entertainment, in which illusion is par for the course, and unlike Broadway shows, which are necessarily rote, a traveling circus is about reality and unpredictability — not the reality of everyday life, granted, but not trickery, either.  The stunts and demonstrations are real and dangerous, celebrations of skill and not deception.

Traditionally associated in the public mind with exotic animals, today traveling circuses mostly feature human performers.  Ironically, it is the circuses themselves — analog entertainment in a digital age — that are now endangered.  Minister of Parliament Peter Luff summarized the situation this way: "When the world is so troubled with natural disasters, international terrorism, threats of flu pandemics, the impact of climate change and with scandalous poverty, malnutrition and disease, the circus may seem a rather trivial matter.  …  But I believe performing arts have a vital contribution to make to the welfare of our nation and that circus is perhaps the most overlooked, undervalued and misunderstood performing art of them all.  Today's touring circus is not just misunderstood — its very existence is under threat."  Luff went on to note that circuses visit some of a nation's smallest communities, and "For many thousands of young people, a touring circus is their very first introduction to live performing art.  The circus is a profoundly democratic art form, and its very nature is multicultural.  The innocent pleasure circuses bring, though, as highly talented professionals even risk their lives on a twice daily basis, is threatened." 

Undaunted by the iffy prospects, Venardos created his circus in 2014, having previously been the youngest ringmaster for Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus (at 22 years old), with additional experience at Big Apple Circus and Circus Vargas.  He set off on his own, desiring to be in control of his career and aspirations. But does Venardos' enterprise perpetuate the age-old dream of running away to join the circus?  "I am absolutely counting on it!" he says.

. . . read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)
Wearing funny mouse or bunny ears is timeless fun, but there's some serious math behind it.  From the University of Nebraska at Omaha's 1970 yearbook.

*For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

. . . read more from Yearbook Weirdness . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Reblog if you've drunk from the punch bowl itself.  From Lustige Blätter, 1901.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Le Journal Amusant, 1892.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Kladderadatsch, 1920.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From The Judge, 1918.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Krokodil, 1952.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Pearson's, 1902.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Fliegende Blätter, 1926.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Kladderadatsch, 1934.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"A little cannibal."  From Harper's Young People, 1888.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Le Rire, 1901.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Jugend, 1918.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Le Journal Amusant, 1904.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Accosted, from Die Muskete, 1910.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Le Journal Amusant, 1922.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Lustige Blätter, 1904.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
A design idea for greeting cards: crisscrossing four quotations with a key word at the center.  From The Gospel Woman, 1881
. . . read more from The Right Word . . .


Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)
Pinball as an illustration of a college's department of religious studies?  According to the Church of the Silver Ball's Pinball Museum (which, sadly, is neither a church nor a museum, according to its own description), pinball can be a religion.
Our photo is from Colorado College's 1975 yearbook.

*For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

. . . read more from Yearbook Weirdness . . .


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Zooming in, we see that the spider has a horned skull face and bony hands.  Easily the best skeleton spider we've seen all week.  From Zritel', 1905.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
. . . read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .

Copyright © 2019 Craig Conley