OK, big smile, please

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

Sometimes I wonder what goes on in readers’ minds—such as when they see a giant clown face leering from the cover of the RN&R. The idea brings a smile to my face. I imagine coulrophobiacs running around from restaurant to bar to library uncertain of what’s bothering them, just a kind of nebulous fear (existential dread) irritating them inside their own skins.

It’s funny (“Funny how? Funny like a clown? I amuse you? I make you laugh?”), Flutterby got on the cover for the simple reason that things—the world, the newspaper, the drive to work—have seemed too serious as of late.

Take a look at our last few cover topics: drugs, sex, racism, taxes. Jeez, no wonder the glare from the digital alarm clock wakes me at 3:30 a.m.

Even so, it’s cliché that clown comedy is serious business (almost as cliché as the idea that clowns can be scary). Smokey Robinson wasn’t the first to comment on the clown’s underlying sadness. But for my money, a painted-on smile and plastic hair goes a long way toward alleviating the blues.

In other news, maybe, Fred Jameson came by the office promoting masks he’d invented, which were designed to save the wearer from smoke, gas, biological or chemical inhalation. When he laid a piece of black fabric across my palm and brought out the blowtorch, I have to admit, he had my attention. He put the pressurized flame on on my hand, and all I felt was a tiny warmth. I have no idea whether the mask would prevent an anthrax infection, but I do believe it would prevent sunburned lips.

I wonder if, when I was kid laughing at Bozo and Ronald, I ever thought I’d make comparisons between clowns and biological warfare. Funny.

And for those who’d take other lessons to heart this week, emergency mask information can be found at www.fmjchembio.com.