Posted on

Clowns, mimes, magicians, Manilow – rate your creepiest

Even before serial killer John Wayne Gacy dressed up as Pogo and stuffed the corpses of young men and boys beneath his porch, many of us have been terrified of clowns.

Some won’t even attend the circus because of them, while others harbor their fear in secret, quietly trembling at the sight of bright red afros and oversize shoes.

MarcyMom up close and personal with a clown/Photo Ryn Gargulinski
MarcyMom up close and personal with a clown/Photo Ryn Gargulinski

Clowns may not be the only creepy performer – they share the stage with mimes, magicians and Barry Manilow – but, at least for me, they are at the top of the heap.

Why do we find these things creepy?

Clowns – The main reason folks fear clowns has to be their makeup. Unless it’s their billowing costumes, seemingly unwashed hair, boat-size shoes or bulbous red noses.

Clowns are hiding behind a hideous façade where, dressed like that, they can only be planning hideous actions. They are also quite invasive and may not go away even when a kid – or adult – bursts into tears.

We must wonder how McDonald’s overcame such a barrier, or why it made a clown its spokesman in the first place. Not that a giant purple thing or cheeseburger thief are much better choices.

A Nursing Standard magazine survey found 250 kids, ages 4 to 16, said clowns were “universally scary.”

So let’s send them to children’s hospitals.

While not many of us run across clown in our daily lives, except when we’re stuck in Tucson traffic, coulrophobia is not a fear that can be rationalized or made to disappear. It is so widespread that entire websites, blogs and T-shirt lines are devoted to the fear and loathing of these creepy things.

Mimes – Mimes can be seen as clowns with more form-fitting clothing and no voices. The lack of speech is a good thing, for you can block them out by simply turning around.

But mimes still may follow you around unless they are confined to their invisible boxes.

Dance of Illusion's Susan Eyed/Ryn Gargulinski
Dance of Illusion's Susan Eyed/Ryn Gargulinski

Magicians/Illustionists – Why some folks loathe magicians is an easy one – magicians mess with our reality. They make us see things that are not there, pull stuff from our ears and rearrange New York City landmarks.

I’ve not had a problem with magicians or illusionists, except when they move the Statue of Liberty.

One Tucson duo, Dance of Illusion’s Roland Sarlot and Susan Eyed, is a major exception to the magician creepiness rule. They rule. Their Club Congress New Year’s Eve bash included Eyed levitating several feet in the air.

The two spend their summers performing their recreated parlour shows in Coney Island, but also tour internationally. They were just in town this weekend and I meant to plug their show but I was too busy fearing clowns to remember in time.

Barry Manilow – The main reason some may have an aversion to this Brooklyn boy is because, with that nose and hair he could, perhaps, resemble a clown.

Others just think his music is lame. I’ve not really had a problem with him, other than the fact “Copacabana” tends to run endlessly through your head.

One of my friends adores Manilow so much she only stops short of having a full-length poster of him above her bed. Another so despises the chap that he threw a brand new Barry Manilow CD out of a speeding car window.


Eek!/Ryn Gargulinski
Eek!/MarcyMom photo

Which performer do you find the creepiest? Why?

Are you one of the few who actually likes clowns?

Posted on

Ryn: Beware the giddy gun owner

Right beneath Arizona’s unofficial nickname of the Grand Canyon State, there should be another moniker, perhaps in festive italics: the Land of the Gun.

The latest movement in the gun orgy is a bill Gov. Jan Brewer signed into law Monday that allows concealed weapons in bars and restaurants that serve liquor.

Say cheese!/Ryn Gargulinski
Say cheese!/Ryn Gargulinski

We’re not sure how many lives will be saved by such a move, but we have a feeling the wait staff and bartenders may become a tad more attentive to their customers.

Anyone who has stared down the barrel of a gun knows how quickly you learn to move.

My stare-down-a-barrel moment was when a crackhead robbed the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream shop where I worked in Manhattan.

He had the weapon hidden in a folded newspaper he laid on the counter when he ordered a vanilla cone with chocolate sprinkles.

I turned around to get the sprinkles and turned back to the unfolded paper and the barrel of a handgun.

The man never got his ice cream, since I promptly dropped it when I noted the gun pointed at my face, but he did get all the money out of the register. He also got all the money under the register, as the airhead with whom I worked called him back into the store with, “Wait, don’t you want the big bills under here?”

There’s no doubt guns can do a good job of getting what you want by intimidating bartenders, bank tellers and poor little ice cream girls.

On the flip side, guns can also protect the law-abiding folks.

Many of us give a nod of “he-got-his” approval when we hear of the homeowner who shot the home invader, thereby saving the dwelling’s occupants as well as the giant TV and stereo system.

Yes, guns can protect you, but they can also be mishandled, abused or fall into the hands of kids who end up shooting each other “just to see how it works.”

While permits are required to carry handguns, folks don’t need a permit or any training to buy one. Gun shows and private sales don’t even require background checks.

Instead of making some regulations more stringent, the laws seem to keep getting less restrictive.

I’m not sure if that should make us feel safe, or very afraid.

I’m also definitely undecided when it comes to owning a gun. I’m jaded by too many horror stories about guns being turned on their owners or folks accidentally shooting their faces off.

Wonder if they own a gun?/Ryn Gargulinski
Wonder if they own a gun?/Ryn Gargulinski

In addition to being banned from watching “The Love Boat” and “Three’s Company,” my brother and I weren’t allowed to play with toy guns as kids. We were taught fear and loathing of these deadly weapons and had to sneak around with our bright pink water pistols.

The only time I shot a gun was at the Tucson Police Department’s Citizen’s Police Academy, under the supervision of a highly trained officer, so I felt pretty safe.

It was also fully exhilarating. Especially since I managed to clock the target square in the forehead with every single shot. Well, I think the last one hit him in the chest.

Shooting the thing made me giddy, which is where the real danger of guns comes in.

How many others, like the father and son duo I saw shooting off a rifle in the Rillito riverbed on New Year’s Day, get the same kind of thrill and want to go shooting for the heck of it?

Never mind the crackheads, bank thieves or restaurant robbers, it is guns in the hands of the giddy that should concern us.

No law can conquer that. For that we should be afraid.

Ryn Gargulinski is a poet, artist, performer and Ryngmaster who doesn’t have a gun but has two big dogs, a meat hook, a machete and a medieval mace. Listen to a preview of her column at 8:10 a.m. Thursdays on KLPX 96.1 FM. Listen to her webcast at 4 p.m. Fridays at Her column appears every Friday on Rynski’s Blogski. E-mail

logosubjpegDo you own a gun – why or why not?

Have you ever had a gun pointed at you?

Did you ever point one at someone else? What happened?

Did you rob a Ben and Jerry’s?

Posted on

From dismal drunk to Daddy Rocker

Many of us are suckers for a success story, and we can find one in a flash with Tom Moran.

This Brooklyn boy went from suicidal drunk to Daddy Rocker who just released his second album “Ain’t Gonna Give Up.”

Tom in front of Coney Island's Wonder Wheel/Daddy Rocker photo
Tom in front of Coney Island's Wonder Wheel/Daddy Rocker photo

Success didn’t come easy. The 44-year-old first had to ride the express train to hell and hit a bottom so low he needed to be scraped off it. And he’s not ashamed to admit some of the tough stuff he’s been through.

“I am so proud of my life and my past, ” he said. “I can now help others through my music and by being an example to them.”

Although booze badgered him, bludgeoned him and eventually ruled his life, Moran didn’t even dig the taste of his first drink.

That drink came as a teen and he slowly slid into a life of beer and pining after girls who didn’t pine back. It got worse right after high school.

“That’s when I really got hooked on the juice,” he said.

Other than smashing a beer bottle outside his frequent hole-in-the-wall hangout called the Truck Stop, Moran didn’t get into much trouble drinking – at least on the outside.

Inside, he was dying.

Still in his early 20s, the Canarsie chap moved to upstate New York to live with his sister. But his “good buddy Weiser” came with him.

“I was lost for some time upstate and in my mind,” he said. Thoughts of suicide constantly trampled through his head. “My life was really nowhere. I really did not want to go on anymore with my useless life.”

Waking up was turmoil, pulling himself out of bed a major chore.

“Getting up the next morning was hard to do. After a night out, I remember getting up the next day and wishing I would die and the hangover had my head spinning.”

Moran finally sought help when his sister decided to quit her own drinking.

“I went where she went and got some help,” he said. “That was the best decision I ever made: getting help for my drinking.”

Falteringly at first, Moran finally embraced a life without alcohol – even when that life continued to fall apart.

Married and living in Gerritsen Beach, Moran was working as a teacher, which he still does, with 90 percent of his cash going to fixing up the couple’s refinanced house.

He decided to use the meager 10 percent to record his first album, “Starting Over.”

That may not be the main reason behind the divorce that followed – “She did complain a lot!” – but the result still left him as a single parent raising his son Jonathan.

Tom with son John/Daddy Rocker photo
Tom with son John/Daddy Rocker photo

Move over Budweiser, as his son, now 10, took over as the most important thing in his life.

“When he first called me dad, I lit up,” Daddy Rocker said. “When your kid calls you dad for the first time, it’s amazing and wonderful.”

Working with former drug and alcohol addicts in recovery programs, teaching physical education to special needs children and, of course, spreading his message through his music are near the top of his list, too.

Moran’s first album sold 12,000 copies – not bad for “an unusual bad boy turned good,” as he jokes.

His second album has just hit the market, and I’ve already picked out my three favorite tracks:

1. Kisses & Hugs – An oozy, bluesy tune that soothes, grooves and mentions Santa Claus a la Leonard Cohen.

2. No Big Deal – Rocking number that devotes a whole stanza to the joy of Jonathan, especially watching the Yankees-loving boy play baseball.

3. This Poor Boy – Sweet, soulful song asking for help being put back together.

Even with through the turmoil of depression, alcohol addiction, divorce and working as a teacher in NYC public schools, Moran’s music is uplifting and filled with hope.

It is also infused with a simple innocence that makes you smile, not to mention tap the steering wheel while driving.

Even though Moran no longer longs for death, he easily answered the question I asked about what he would want on his headstone as his final words:

To my son Jonathan: I love you.
Go Out and Enjoy Your Life
Love, Daddy
P.S. Daddy will always be with you.

Full disclosure: I’ve known Tom for about 10 years and he’s one of those sweet, supportive friends that can’t make you mad even if they try. (Tom – that doesn’t mean you should try.)

Check out his album, video and more on his website

Tom gives special thanks to his publicist, DeAlan Wilson.

I’ll be playing some Daddy Rocker songs on my weekly webcast Friday at 4 p.m. (7 p.m. EST) at


My favorite promo shot - love the vest!/Daddy Rocker photo
My favorite promo shot - love the vest!/Daddy Rocker photo

Do you know someone who is a success story?

Maybe you are success story yourself?

Who inspires you?

Posted on

Odd Pueblo: Snappy or crappy?

This fun Odd Pueblo feature asks the audience to rate a trend, topic or sighting of something around town: is it snappy or crappy? The last snappy or crappy, the cutest kid with a Mohawk, was voted one of the snappiest yet.

The jury is mixed on the latest snappy or crappy: multicolored architecture.

It could easily go either way, depending on how it’s executed.

Multi-colored stone wall/Ryn Gargulinski
Multi-colored stone wall/Ryn Gargulinski

The first example is snappy.

This midtown stone border is sweetly kitschy and hopefully was painted using masonry primer or the paint will flake off and make it incredibly crappy. It’s an older home that deserves some funky touches.

The second example is crappy.

Multi-colored squares/Ryn Gargulinski
Multi-colored squares/Ryn Gargulinski

This newer building, on North Alvernon Way just north of Fort Lowell Road, should have at least left out the purple. The effect is a multicolored mismatching mishmash.

It’s a prime example of art trying too hard to be cool when it really isn’t, not unlike those paintings of a single dot in the middle of the canvas at which you are supposed to oooh and aaah even though all you are looking at is a dot.

What do you think?
Please respond:
a. I agree the stone wall is snappy and the newer building looks like a pile of poop.
b. I think the stone wall is crappy and the newer building is gorgeously sleek and attractive.
c. All multicolored architecture is crappy. The whole world should be one big beige blob.
d. I don’t care because I’m stuck in a red brick house and all other architecture makes me angry.


Posted on

Guns in bars OKed by AZ governor

While minors and drunks may not be allowed to enter a bar, folks toting concealed handguns will soon have the green light to patronize the place.

Street shot up by angry drunk?/Ryn Gargulinski
Street shot up by angry drunk?/Ryn Gargulinski

Ariz. governor signs bill allowing guns in bars, Associated Press report

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizonans with concealed weapons permits will be allowed to take a handgun into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol under a bill signed Monday by Gov. Jan Brewer.

The measure, backed by the National Rifle Association, will require bar and restaurant owners who want to ban weapons on the premises to post a no-guns sign next to their liquor license. It becomes effective Sept. 30.

Drinking while carrying a weapon would be illegal.

Overall, this could be a very good thing.

Since drinking while carrying a weapon would be illegal, we know anyone who did end up getting drunk while carrying their gun would do the right thing and go put it away, right?

Better service might arise because of it, with fewer customers being ignored when they need their water glasses refilled for fear they may haul off and shoot the wait staff.

And you don’t know how many times I was about to sit down to my five-course meal in a restaurant that serves liquor only to have to defend my breadsticks against a hungry, adjacent customer. Now I can use my concealed weapon instead of my butter knife to keep them at bay.

Bartenders and kitchen help, too, can benefit with an extra layer of protection for the top-shelf liquors, pricey caviar stocked in the back and the stockpiles of little umbrellas that go in the drinks.

A positive scenario may even result even if folks do get drunk, stupid and “forget” to put their guns away. An angry gaggle of gun-toting drunks may be able to quiet each other down without our intervention whatsoever – provided their aim is not too far gone.

What do you think?

Do folks need to carry their guns into bars and restaurants?

When’s the last time you felt threatened while eating out or getting drunk in a bar? Would a gun have helped you?

Have you ever had to defend your drink’s little umbrella or your breadsticks?