As refreshing as it was to see Frolixo go forty-eight hours without indulging his obsession with my netherest of nether quarters, I think we can all agree that two solid days of Reid and Zack bitching about whether Tojo or Hitler had a longer wang is more than enough. Besides, everyone knows that Mussolini was the one who was hung like a fascist horse. So I thought it might be a nice change of pace from the last couple days to write an article that actually wasn't incredibly boring. Unfortunately, that plan fell through, so now you're stuck with the story of how I went to a carnival. I'll give you a moment to finish quivering with anticipation.
New England weather is so wacky, the trees don't even know they're supposed to be firewood!
After a long and bitter New England winter, spring is finally in the air. Also in the air are billions of microbes including literally thousands of different viruses and bacterial aggressors that assault our bodies constantly in the hopes that one will break through the barricade of our immune systems and fill us with horrible disease. For the purpose of this article, however, we'll be focusing on spring. The arrival of spring weather has a particularly noticeable effect on people in New England. Those of you from other parts of the nation and indeed the world at large may think that you know what I'm talking about, but you don't. Nowhere else on Earth has weather like New England does. It's our chief export. We manufacture weather and ship it out to the rest of the world in concentrated chunks. When one season passes into another, it means a complete change of all weather patterns and systems. Gone are the days when the weather could range from freezing rain to sleet, hail, slush, and three hundred different kinds of snow, to forty degree days when the sun is out and the reflection off the frozen mounds of snow is so bright that it becomes impossible to even look out a window without the aid of a shoebox with a little pinhole poked in it. Now we have days of glorious sunshine interspersed with periods of torrential rain, thundershowers, and toupee-snatching gusts of wind. Of course, the minute the sun dips below the horizon, it's like the dark side of the moon - lethally cold and impossible to maintain radio contact with Houston.
The robin is the first sign of spring - first person to shoot one gets to say when winter's over!
Now that it's safe to go outside for more than eight minutes without getting freezer burn, people around here are a lot more friendly. We wave to one another on the street, exchange small talk with complete strangers, avoid eye contact with the homeless and laugh about it with one another, and generally treat each other right. We all walk around in a state of shock and delight over the change in weather. "Winter actually ended," we exclaim. "What were the chances that winter would actually end, just like it did last year? It's a miracle!" Despite the fact that winter has turned to spring every single year since the continents split (except for that one time in 1972 when we had winter four times in a row), everyone seems completely surprised that the weather improved. In honor of this momentous and wholly unexpected turn of events, my town had itself a celebration. Unlike most celebrations in Connecticut, where the general rules are "lots of shrimp cocktails, formal dress, and no darkies," this one appealed to people from all walks of life. That's right, I'm talking about an all out carnival. In the interest of journalistic investigation, as well as having nothing better to do, I decided to venture out to witness the event firsthand. First, I rounded up three stout-hearted companions. Their names have not been changed, but they have been put in quotation marks to make them look like they have been changed, and that's good enough for me.
"Thomas" - My friend who lives one floor above me. Strengths: A nearly inexhaustible supply of references to obscure and outdated television shows, movies, and musical artists. Weaknesses: A half-British upbringing reduces his saving throw against the most boorish elements of American culture.
"Alan" - My roommate. Strengths: Willingness to do just about anything, regardless of how dangerous, pointless, or stupid. Weaknesses: His aforementioned willingness often manifests in criminal impulses.
"Sam" - Alan's quasi-girlfriend, which basically makes her my other roommate. Strengths: Ability to manipulate strangers with her girlish innocence. Weaknesses: That ability is useless on anyone who has known her for more than five minutes, as they quickly come to realize that it's complete bullcrap.
The party was assembled, and so our adventure into the world of thrills, odors, and repeated gougings that is the town carnival began.
Alright, a carnival! Then we might get to do whatever the hell this guy's doing!
4:45 - The Discovery. Amount in wallet - $45.00
We first learned of the existence of the "Let's Have a Carnival for No Real Reason" carnival that afternoon when we went to Walgreens to pick up Sam's prescriptions. Why did four people need to go to the pharmacy so one person could get her birth control? Because we're college students, that's why. We go places. That's what we do. While Walgreens is an eye-catching attraction in its own right, it was difficult to overlook the massive ferris wheel looming in the background. One Sam had her pills, we all piled back into our borrowed SUV and decided to get a closer look. The carnival was not operating when we got there, but we were able to successfully coax one if its denizens to approach our vehicle. Carnies are a skittish lot, especially in the daylight, but our friendly smiles and stylish sunglasses seemingly convinced him that we posed no threat. He told us that the carnival opened at six, but the information came at a steep price. We had to promise that we'd stop by his game booth and pop balloons with darts. The quest had an ominous cast over it already.Just fills you with carnival spirit, doesn't it? Yeehaw.
6:40 - The Journey (including the Bottlecap, pt. 1). Amount in wallet - $45.00
After grilling up some burgers, we decided to head out. The light was starting to fade and a chill had already begun to settle. This time, we would have no SUV to speed us to our destination, as its owner was somewhat upset with us for parking it illegally and getting a ticket the last time. We would have to hoof it. I didn't think the walk itself would be too much of a problem - no more than a couple miles - but it would be very dark soon and the term "defensive driving" never made it big around town. Crossing the main roads would trouble. The first leg of the journey was simple enough. Then Alan came up with an idea to cut a few minutes out of the trip - cutting across a massive graveyard. We wouldn't have to walk over the graves, just across the property. I wasn't crazy about the idea to say the least, but we went anyway. We had to climb a massive hill. On the way down the other side, we found out where the town apparently stores all of its mud. It was like walking through a swamp, and there were no lights to guide the way to dry ground. We had no choice but to keep pressing forward and hope we didn't sink any further into the muck. Naturally, once we finally got out of the bog, we had to scale a fence to get back to the street. I'm not a particularly tall individual, but I've still got a few inches on Sam. In the end she didn't so much scale the fence as we shoved her over.
Once we were finally out of the cemetery, it was a short walk to the fairgrounds. Or at least, it should have been a short walk, but on the way Alan noticed a cap from some two liter soda bottle on the ground. He and Sam couldn't resist the urge to kick it all the way to the gate. It wouldn't have been so bad, but they both sucked at it. They couldn't manage to keep it out of the street, so we had to stop every fifty feet until one of them could manage to kick it up onto the curb without getting creamed by a Saab. At last, the cap ended up coming to a stop in front of me when we were near the entrance. I kicked it under a van. You know, so we could find it later. With that distraction out of the way, we approached the admissions counter.We were finally there, a crazy island of wondrous delights in central Connecticut.
7:10 - The First Steps and Greasnin's Awkward Moment. Amount in wallet - $45.00
We were finally there. As we stood in line to buy tickets, the four of us gazed up at the electric orgasm before us. The flashing lights, the cacophonous sounds, the sickly sweet stench of every conceivable substance being fried at once - it was a neon behemoth that clearly heeded no master. Admission to the carnival was only a dollar a person, so I offered to pay for us all. Since this was a very public event and we are a nation at war, our tickets were taken by a member of our National Guard in full uniform. He did not strike me as being particularly filled with the carnival spirit, but he let us past anyway.
Suddenly, a familiar tune hit my ear. As an eager visitor to amusement parks, theme parks, carnivals, and state fairs of all magnitude, I was used to all manners of muzak being piped to all corners of the festival grounds. This was something different. The song was an underground hit of modern reggae by Tanto Metro. It alternated between utterly unintelligible lyrics and a perfectly clear chorus, both of which were graphically sexual. The song was introduced to me by a friend a couple years back, and I had never heard it in another context. Unable to believe my ears, I immediately started singing along. I don't think I even had a choice. I was so caught up in the infectious beat that I didn't even realize that I was not just singing, but belting at the top of my lungs. I've been told since that I was also dancing like an idiot. The realization, or at least the partial realization of what I was doing hit me suddenly as a veritable herd of twelve year old black girls passed right by us dancing, singing even louder than I was and generally having a great time. I was stunned - first by the fact that these girls all knew the song, second by the fact that I was so caught up in it, and third by the fact that I must have looked like I was trying as hard as I could to act like a twelve year old black girl. It took and inordinate amount of time for Thomas to stop laughing.
When we all composed ourselves, it was time to purchase ride tickets. This is where the sensible admission price really came back to bite us in our collective ass. I dropped thirty-five dollars for fifty tickets. Not a bad deal, accept there were four of us, and each ride cost three tickets a person. Clearly, we had to budget ourselves if we were going to make the tickets last all night. With that frugal goal in mind, we set our sights on the first ride of the evening.Spare the woman, aim for the child.
7:25 - The Bumper Cars. Amount in wallet - $5.00 (I have no idea what happened to that extra dollar)
It's common knowledge that the bumper cars are a staple of any ride-based amusement event. It was surprising, then, that they were nearly deserted. When we arrived, four young boys were just finishing up their ride. Once they vacated, the four of us took each grabbed a car for our own glorious few minutes of bumping, shoving, nudging, and all the degrees of collision in between. Before we began, though, two small boys joined us in cars of their own. They couldn't have been more than seven years old. Their parents stood on the other side of the guard rail, glaring at us. We hadn't even moved yet and I already felt like some horrible bully. One of the kids was pretty pudgy, but I still must have weighed more than both kids put together. When our cars powered up, I made my best attempt to avoid ramming into either of the kids, and focused instead on bashing the crap out of my friends. For their part, the kids seemed to be avoiding me as well. I was having a great time slamming into my buddies and not looking like a total jackass for picking on two kids so much younger than me. Then one of the kids called me a "dumb fucker" as he drove past. As a matter of principle, he had to die. I gave him a few seconds of peace to lull him into a false sense of security, then I targeted him for severe and judicious bashination.
When all was said and done, everyone had a great time and came out laughing it up. Each of us took our share of lumps, so fortunately no one noticed that the little pissant whooped me within a inch of my bumper life. I consider it a moral victory. We moved on.No, sadly we didn't get the Pink Floyd hammer. But you try finding a picture of an inflatable pink hammer on Google.
7:35 - The Feat of Strength (including the Saga of the Hammer, pt. 1). Amount in wallet - $5.00
Perhaps the most treacherous part of any carnival experience is navigating the rows upon rows of balking hucksters trying to con anyone within earshot to try their crooked game. I've spent years trying to perfect my technique of ignoring them completely. Sad to say, I've yet to master the art of avoiding eye contact. Once eye contact is established, I have no trouble slinking away awkwardly, but I can't keep my damn eyes from darting in the direction of the closest call. I tried to resist, but before I could break away from one carny, the rest of my party had come to a stop. We were obviously screwed. There was nothing to do now but step up and try the game. I'd be damned if I was going to be the one who did it, though. Sam and Alan bore that burden. It was one of those contraptions where you have to hit a bar with a mallet and try to ring a bell. Sam failed miserably, but the carny couldn't resist her aura of girliness and gave her a consolation prize. It was a three foot tall pink inflatable hammer with the words "Girl Power" written in flowers on its head. Little did we know what fate had in store for that hammer and its bearers.
Alan took a whack at the game next. He did much better, but missed the bell by just a couple of notches. The carny gave him jack shit.
Will Alan remember the bottlecap? Will Ben regain a fraction of his dignity? Will Thomas survive the shocking American acts still to come? Will Sam remember to take her birth control this time? And what of this mysterious and powerful Pink Hammer? There's plenty more action, excitement, and suspense to come in the second and final chapter of "Fair Game" next week! Stay tuned!
Nintendo Power in the Rom Pit.
This is Jedidiah "Jed" Kirchner rocking your computer screen from Greasnin's Barbie Personal Organizer. Using my extensive knowledge of Greco-Roman warfare, I've conquered the mythological world of enchantment that is Athena and recorded my findings in a brand new ROM review that contains the following copied/pasted text:
If SNK had listened to enough Tool cds to become as smart as Athena, they might've realized the irony of a quest for excitement that becomes boring as hell after 2 minutes when the novelty of fighting an endless supply of monsters that look like retarded muppets wears off. Also, if I remember my abridged picture version of the bible correctly, gods are supposed to be powerful and stuff. So what the fuck is the point of stabbing your enemies with a crappy sword the size of a popsicle stick when you can just turn them into pillars of salt and sprinkle them over some giant french fries that get eaten by a fat guy in a toga?
If you only read about one Nintendo game this week, make it the one Zack "Geist Editor" Parsons completely unsarcastically refered to as "about as much fun as try to jerk off to a holocaust documentary".
Are you concerned that you may be a character trapped in a Tom Waits song? Be smart and learn the warning signs before it's too late. Also, it's too late. It has always been too late.
I'm haunted by a recurring vision of a skeleton flipping me off. To avoid seeing this terrifying image in bumper sticker form, I pay someone with a blank bumper to drive in front of me at all times.
The Something Awful front page news tackles anything both off and on the Internet. Mostly "on" though, as we're all incredible nerds.