Friday fluff: Step up, step up!

Kate sent along an article this morning about the death of Bruce Snowdon, the last sideshow fat man. Mostly she was boggled by this bit:

Until the mid-1960s, traveling carnivals frequently featured fat acts. But sideshows declined in popularity as waistlines expanded and obesity became less of a laughing matter.

As the years went by, spotting a man who weighed more than half a ton was not that unusual – and that was bad news, if you were in Snowdon’s line of work.

As Kate pointed out, um, isn’t a ton 2,000 pounds? “More than half a ton” is 1,000+ pounds in English, 1,102+ pounds in metric, and people who weigh that much are still actually pretty fucking unusual. Unless we are talking about people who WOULD weigh more than half a ton IF THEY WERE STANDING ON THE SUN, in which case, okay. If that’s not what you mean, I suggest that your fact-checker commence vigorous head-desking.

Anyway, I was ready to spin that off into a rant about how NOBODY KNOWS WHAT WEIGHT LOOKS LIKE, MY GOD, DO PEOPLE REALLY THINK THAT “60% OVERWEIGHT” MEANS THAT FOLKS WHO WEIGH 1,000+ POUNDS ARE SWANNING AROUND ALL OVER THE PLACE, but meh, we’ve done that post, and it’s Friday. Instead, I want to call your attention to the part of the article I really loved, where they reproduced some of the talker’s patter about Snowdon:

“He’s so big and so fat, it takes four girls to hug him and a boxcar to lug him,” Hall would say of Snowdon at shows.

“When he dances you’ll swear he must be full of jelly, ’cause jam don’t shake that way. And you know, girls, he is single and looking for a wife. He’ll make some lucky girl a fine husband. Why, he’s so big and fat, he’ll provide you with a lot of shade in the summertime, keep you nice and warm in the wintertime, and give you lots of good, heavy loving all the time.”

I kinda love that! I am not averse to talking (even in a fluff post) about the sideshow phenomenon and whether it’s okay that parts of it have been reclaimed, but I do think it’s interesting that as far as I know, patter about carnival fat men and fat women was generally othering but positive. People were there to gawk, yes, but not in an unfriendly way — the talker draws attention to Snowdown as a curiosity but not as a grotesquerie. In fact, the rhetoric is about him being attractive, even sexually attractive. Now, in the modern era there’s probably some irony operating there — the audience assumes a fat man is grotesque, and the patter feeds off of that assumption by turning it on its head. But I still find it appealing.

And really, we’re all curiosities in a way — not necessarily because of our bodies (though I will freely admit that I, for instance, am upsettingly double-jointed), but because of everything that makes us singular and unique. So, Shapelings, what would it look like if you wrote your own sideshow patter? Would it focus on your warmth and heaviness, like Snowdon’s, or your skills and talents, or your personal flair, or your tiny superpowers? What’s the script for the guy outside the Shapely Prose ten-in-one?

103 thoughts on “Friday fluff: Step up, step up!

  1. Since we couldn’t drag her out of her bed, we brought the bed to you! See Krishji and her fabulous, fully-functional, only slightly-unsanitary Mattress Office! All she needs within the confines of a queen-sized mattress – a laptop, a printer, a scanner, two stacks of file-folders, the remains of two meals, the clothes that both she and her husband wore for the last three days, two hairbrushes, three rabbits, two ashtrays, six books, a moleskine journal with three pencils, and if that’s not enough, for not one penny more, we’ll show you how her gigantic husband manages to fit himself amongst the clutter and sleep every night! A study in space-saving that will make you wonder why you needed all those rooms in your mansion, come on folks, give it an eyefull, and here’s a bag to breathe into when you’re about the faint from the horror.

  2. She’ll keep you guessing, keep you charmed, and keep you diagnosing! Behind this curtain is a lady who’s funny, smart, and full of empathy… so why is she also full of apologies for existing? Her amazing powers can turn even righteous bravado into a desperate bid for approval. Not since you spilled three trays of warm brownies on the floor and thought “Eh, my floor’s pretty clean, right?” have you seen such a lovable mess. While you’re in here, be sure to play “Guess the Disorder!” Is it depression? General anxiety disorder? OCD? Lingering effects from “The Drama of the Gifted Child”? Or is she just kind of an all-around head case? You name it, she’s considered it. As a bonus, whoever walks in the door right after she’s apologized gets a free cotton candy. This works out to about every fifteenth customer!

    (Wow… Uh, in my mind that was very playful and tongue-in-cheek, but seeing it written out like that makes it look all hotline-worthy. Sorry, everyone. DINGDINGDING FREE COTTON CANDY TO THE NEXT COMMENTER!)

  3. I overheard two of my “tough guy”, at-risk students discussing how they would have been lucky to be born in a time when they could join carnivals–they wouldn’t have to graduate, they could just quit school and “get rich” in “freak shows.” One was adament that you couldn’t get rich that way, and insisted VERY SERIOUSLY when his friend argued, saying, “Dude, you don’t get rich. You only get, like, what. .. two bits a gander?” It made me laugh really hard.

  4. Step right up, step right up and see the absent-minded not-even-a-professor. But don’t step too close, or else she’ll inevitably accidentally spill her coffee on you and your laptop.

  5. Step right up and see the amazing beleaguered grad student! She has more degrees than you have hands, and a to-do list as long as your great-uncle’s old sailing yarns, but she spends most of her day looking at lemurs on the internets! See her astonishing stack of books, tall as a grown man! Watch her outline five essays in her head — WITHOUT WRITING ANYTHING DOWN! This is one bookworm who’ll never wriggle her way out of the library!

  6. @ aliciamaud74 – Bwahahaha! No, but really, I’ve got several “tough guy” teenaged students as well, who are also exceptionally funny and sweet, creative young people. I gotta save that “two bits a gander” for a special time.

  7. I would love to be a Fat Lady. But I am heavily tattooed. That makes me the Tattooed Fat Lady. HOWEVER, 95% of my tattoos are tattoos with fat ladies as the subject (Venus of Willendorf and Frank Frazetta’s “Two Of A Kind” for example). Hmmm…so…

    “Step Right Up Ladies and Gents! Feast your eyes on our Tattoed Fat Lady Tattooed With Fat Ladies! How is it possible?!? The paradox will Blow Your MIND!!”

  8. Not Fluff,

    But Yay! The jury convicted Dr. Tiller’s killer of murder.

    The world’s a safer place with this man behind bars, particularly for abortion providers.

  9. @ fillyjonk

    One of the fat lady tattoos has a tattoo of a heart on her generous (and lovely) rear end. Does that count?

  10. Mine would be “See the Pink Cheeked lady! Simply make her uncomfortable, awkward or give her alcohol and see the cheeks turn the colour of your favourite Aunt’s pink Bloomers”

  11. fillyjonk,

    “YES! Fractal Illustrated Fat Lady!

    You should put tattoos of fat ladies on the tattoos of fat ladies.”

    HEE. You just made my Friday. :)

  12. @ Piffle – Oh, this is such good news. I am so glad.

    @ Pegkitty – I also like “swanning around.” I always associate it with a certain kind of self-presentation (a sort of 18th century court-strut), and it always makes me happy.

  13. FatTatGirl and Fillyjonk, the pitch-maker is going to start calling FTG the Human Vermeer soon. (See the teeny-tiny painting inside the really-quite-small painting!) It will work especially well if the tent is set up to look like someone’s idea of a Dutch domestic interior.

    Also, FTG, I love the sound of those tats. I have a fat-lady tattoo, but there’s only the one. Someday I am going to Xerox her and use the copies for a project.

    Step right up and see the (other) belaguered graduate student abusing the office’s photocopier by making xeroxes of her upper right arm! Marvel and the myriad ways she pursues her procrastinations! Wonder at her willful reading of feminist blogs rather than writing of dissertations. She’s more than a gazing gal gandering at lemurs, pursuing piffle, she’s perfected the perfect coconut chocolate chip cookie. Stop in Saturdays and you might sweet snacks for sale! (Cookies one buck extra).

    Sweet Machine, we may have competing side-shows. I hope your barker is good.

  14. Marvel at her ability to knit complicated Victorian lace while holding a deep and meaningful conversation! Stare in awe as she starts twenty, thirty, forty, fifty new projects without breaking a sweat!

  15. hmmmm…not sure how I’d pitch this, but I have a weird hair on my upper right arm that my sister dubbed, “The Mutant Hair” because it grows so long and so fast it’s kinda freaky. I’m pretty sure there is a “cure” for baldness in that follicle.

  16. Gina, you might be a Miracle for Modern Medicine, the Undiscovered Answer. And also, could be an inverted bald-lady.

    FatTatGirl, I also shouldn’t try to write your script for you. Sorry! I am so delighted by the idea of fractal tats I am going overboard. If I want to pitch own tattoos within tattoos, I should just go get my own.

  17. AnthroK8: I have 10 or so tattoos of beautiful fat ladies everywhere (I need to repost the pictures online. I took my old blog down). I can honestly say that they are the best thing (collectively) I have ever done for myself. When I am having a Bad-Self-Esteem-Evil-Almost-Start-Dieting-Day, I look in the mirror and think, “The tattoos DON’T LIE.” It’s awesome that you have one too. I recommend it to everyone. :)

  18. AnthroK8 – No worries! I was having a hard time finding the right words to describe what I meant. You and Fillyjonk nailed it.!

  19. Surely I am no good at this patter-writing, but I wanted to third the vote of happiness for “swanning around” and add one LOL for aliciamaud74′s story. Hahahahaha!!

  20. I got nothin.

    However, this thread did make me think of Carnivale, and what a fun show it was, and how many awesome, sexy, non fat ladies with racks of doom were featured in it.

  21. “Step right up and see the Amazing Scotch Consuming Machine! Come see the act that has been banned in Scotland after she singlehandedly caused the financial ruin of three distinguished distillieries! And, as a special bonus for all you fine folks out there in Intertubesville, this Friday only, you can also watch in awe as she consumes an entire case of Mars bars – yes, my friends, that *is* 50 chocolate bars! – in under a half an hour!”

  22. @Edan said: “I have, until this very moment, always thought a ton was 1,000 lbs. Erp.”

    No only the metric system is that elegant! That would be too straightforward for the imperial system! Why have multiples of 10 when you can have multiples of 12 (inches to a foot) or 14 (pounds to a stone) or 16 (ounces to a pound)?(Apologies if I got those examples wrong ).

    A tonne (metric ton) is 1000kg but that’s 2,204.6lb.

  23. FTG: For the Vermeer plan to work, you’re going to have to outfit yourself either with a pearl earring or a milk-maid’s jug. And, yup- people have told me my fat naked lady tat is the nicest one they’ve ever seen (thankfully, the ones who think it’s the worst keep their mouths shut). If people love the fat tat, it stands to reason…

    Piffle, that person started and ended the blog with bacon-in-coffee. Where else is there to go? Or maybe I’m so addicted to my coffee with cream, I can’t imagine any other coffee combinations being viable? There’s probably that.

  24. Watch as Unemployed Nerdy EngineerGirl makes complicated spreadsheets for fun and voluntarily completes calculus exercises! Observe her in disbelief as she reorganizes her pantry by ingredient country of origin and tries to teach her dogs to put away their toys in order to stave off boredom. Enjoy the antics and she slips and slides on the snowy road to check the mail for her visa paperwork every day! Make sure to catch a glimpse as she reads textbooks for no reason whatsoever.

    Knitting spreadsheets are my favorite. I have projects detailed by stitch number, time per row, time per inch, and modifications, plus the entire pattern listed one row at a time. Color coded. They actually turned out helpful when a dress I wanted to make wasn’t sized beyond a 34A chest. I still can’t believe that was the XL.

  25. @ Piffle – That stuff nasty. Egg and salmon cream cheese in coffee images just too much for me to handle. I will admit to putting butter in my tea when I was about eight years old because I learned that in Tibet, people drink yak butter tea and REALLY LIKING IT. Then again, butter makes all things better (my old man didn’t call me Krishna for nothing!).

    @Emaloo – Was that a children’s/junior’s pattern?!??!? I, too, love calculus, but do not allow mathematical order to infiltrate any other aspect of my life.

  26. Step right up, step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and see the amazing SPREAD TOO THIN LADY! She’s spread SO thin and SO wide she could cover ten football fields! If she was on bread you WOULDN’T EVEN BE ABLE TO SEE HER, because she’s SPREAD SO THIN! Watch her as she takes neuropsychology classes, works in a lab, writes an astrology blog, applies to graduate school, does make-up for events, and teaches kids how to write college essays all at the same time- AND STILL OCCASIONALLY GOES TO A MOVIE! When does she eat? When does she sleep? How does she do it? WE DON’T KNOW EITHER, LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!

  27. What’s the traditional patter for bearded ladies? And is anyone hiring them? ‘Cause I’m currently job-hunting, and it’d be great to get a job WITHOUT having to go tweeze away what’s sprouted on my chin.

  28. Step right up, don’t be shy. Can’t be a winner unless you try.
    She will name that tune in 7 notes or less.
    If it’s from 70s’ am radio, she won’t even have to guess!

  29. OMG, Meeeeeeeedium Head Boy! Much love for The State reference. Who were the others? The King Twins, and the Snake Man? ROFL!

  30. Come see The Girl Who Saw or Heard Something Interesting Today! She’ll tell you all about it with breathless joy, oblivious to the fact that you don’t care. No factoid is too small, no anecdote too mundane – she’ll share it all! You may also know her as Ooh, Guess What Else I Learned Today Woman or Wanna Know What Annoys Me About the Faulty Science In That Movie Lady* – she’s all these and more!
    Tired of hearing yourself think? Hear her think instead!
    Need a new opinion? Ask her one of hers, she’s givin’ ‘em away!
    Laugh and then cry as she draws a graph to demonstrate a classification scheme she’s just developed for some phenomenon she’s just been thinking about!**
    Come by around 2pm daily, when we will provide her a new book, then watch as she points out Things She Found Interesting to her husband. (Note: no real husbands will be harmed during the show, only a dummy husband will be used).

    * The red-tailed hawk as stand in for eagle call in movies totally makes me gnash my teeth – allow me to explain!
    ** I drew one for Types of ‘Splainers instead of working on my thesis today.

  31. Step right up and see the fat girl who actually exercises on a regular basis!!! That’s right folks, you THOUGHT you knew everything about those fatties? Well get a load of this one!!! She does kick boxing, rock climbing and intensive abdominal workouts!!! And if you catch her just right, she can roller skate to her hearts content!!! Come on folks, see the girl the media tells you NEVER EXISTED!!!!

  32. This little lady will stretch to fit any size– that’s right, the firm flesh of youth is only partially attached–not fat, not flesh, but skin stretching as far as your care to pull it and rebounding into perfect shape!

    Pull her cheeks, ears, back, stomach, nose, and legs–this stretchy-skinned Sally will snap right back into place, a real Rubberband Man–that’s a lady!

  33. @Krishji
    Nope, women’s pattern. Shown on a size 0 model, but definitely intended for adults. I didn’t do math at home when I was employed, but childfree unemployment is really really boring.

    @Sweet Machine
    I’d be happy to build you a couple spreadsheets of patterns. You can find me on ravelry as EmiJ.

  34. Step right up girls and boys!! Ask her a question! Watch her stammer and blush! Ask her what her own name is, and watch her mispronounce it! Watch her shrink from social interaction while parts of her stretch forward in desire to have a conversation (sounds a little phallic, but whatever). Watch as she gets so flustered just interacting that she stops speaking at all and retreats to a world in her own mind where she plans future art pieces. THEN ask her about those pieces, compliment her, watch her blush while her eyes get watery! THEN!!! Piss her off and watch her become suddenly shockingly bitingly articulate.

    THAT’S RIGHT! IT’S THE GIRL WHOSE ONLY SOCIAL SKILL IS THE ABILITY TO ARGUE!

  35. @ Snarkysmachine – I LOVE that song.

    (Just sort of took a big ol’ soggy grief day today in spite of having three stinkin’ math tests to write [9th grade, Math A, SAT], and a paper for my master’s that was due a month ago. Thought about feelings, dabbled in the memoir, watched Deewaar for the 70th time. This song = another thing that captures what I’m looking for.)

  36. I liked the fractal illustrated fat lady idea!

    But seriously, I can’t be the only one singing this song now, can I?

    Really? Just me?

    Here’s the Muppet Show version just in case you don’t have it stuck in your head yet. The song doesn’t actually imply that she’s fat, but I love the Muppet pig they use in the show ’cause she’s got a big belly/hips/backside.

  37. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, we have captured the elusive creature known as Feminist Blog Lurking Boy! Normally seen in brief glimpses, flitting in to give a brief word before disappearing for months on end, this flighty insect has finally been pinned down for your viewing pleasure! But ladies and gentlemen, do not blink, because he could vanish at any given moment! Come witness him yourselves while the opportunity still exists!

    Though I suppose I’ve commented here enough times that I’ve maybe graduated to semi-lurker.

  38. Come one, come all, come see the amazing two-headed monster woman of the internet! Cower in fear at the vicious, sharp-toothed, firebreathing maw of her online head! Laugh awkwardly as her other head attempts and fails to meet your gaze, then mumbles something at her shoes!

  39. @Alexandra Erin, it sounds like you have the same condition me and Zenoodle have. I’d love to discuss it with both of you, but I’d just end up blushing and stuttering with slips of my childhood speech impediment tripping me up. It’d be an exercise in futility really.

    However, maybe we can all get together and fight about something, personally I hate the color blue, if one of you would argue against green and the other against red we could really have something going. We could maybe even get people to pay FOUR bits per gander at us doing it.

  40. I don’t have any exact talents, cause I dabble in a lot of it~ Though I do have a very big brain…

    @Lucy : I too am stretched far too thin XD Though I am still fat as ever C: I have AP/Honors classes, straight As, and a frikkin job, and I’m constantly going from one thing to another!

  41. look at the amazing Mary Alice. She has not one, but two names! She could have a unibrow and liphair if she wanted, but she gets that waxed because the sideshow all ready has a hairy lady. She only has one X Chromosome, not two…how does she swing that you ask…well it’s just the way she was born, she’s never missed it – ask her about taking growth hormone as a kid, and having puberty come from a pack of birth control pills even though she can’t ever get pregnant.

    Let her regale you for hours about her favorite subjects, from immigration reform to the Beatles. And hear her sing…you’ll swear that isn’t the same little five foot tall girl that voice is coming out of. Yes, step right up folks this lass is pure entertainment.

  42. (Emaloo, that’s…wow. I wear a 32A, and the only time I wear anything marked XL is when I buy t-shirts meant for little boys)

    Come one and all, to see the amazing, real-life, Absent-Minded Stereotype! Marvel at her constant inability to find her keys, or remember to allow an extra five minutes to look for her keys! Watch as she gets miles of walking a day just by wandering to the kitchen, forgetting why she’s there, and heading back to her bedroom! Laugh with her as she find a lemon in the ziploc-bag drawer during the hunt for her missing nail clippers! Weep with her as she tries to consolidate her financial documents and do her taxes! Count how many seconds it takes for her to lose track of whatever important object she just put down in plain sight! Congratulate her on the elaborate system of post-it notes + google calendar that keeps her life from falling utterly to pieces!

    I’m getting better about the keys, actually. I’ve done a lot less running for the bus in the past 4-5 months. But the best part of the lemon/nail clippers story (still haven’t found mine, had to borrow a pair) is that I have at least three pairs of nail clippers, and can’t find any of them.

  43. Step right up and see the soon to be unemployed chemistry geek woman use her hitherto untapped mad networking skilz to try to secure her dream job in academics AND a $1 million sale for her soon to be former employer. See her schmooz and work hard when by all rights she should be snarking and sulking.

  44. @Alibelle: You have a speech impediment, too? That’s funny, I’ve recently realized that the more flustered I get the more my eight years of speech therapy fall away from me. I’ve only realized the extent of this now because now that I’m Involved With Someone, I can’t always clam up or run away when I get flustered.

  45. Sara Dee, I really laughed at what you wrote — that could be me!

    Laaaaaaaaadies and Gentlemen, children of all ages, direct your attention to the center ring to see the amazing balancing act of the century! Marvel at how she stands on her right foot atop a tower of dirty dishes several stories high. Notice how she dresses her five year old in a taped-together princess costume with her left foot. What is that in the crook of her neck — a cell phone? That’s gotta hurt folks, that’s right, no whimpy wireless headset for this single mom! In her left arm she carries her laptop and types with her right — can she do it — format the document while emailing the 90-person email list without a single typo or factual error? Who’s that standing on the top of her head, you ask? Why it’s her therapist, giving a session in the midst of it all — and she pulls it off… yes, it’s another epiphany! About her childhood! Now crying about her dead dog! And wiping her tears while turning her cell phone into a talking puppet to entertain the crying 5-year-old — and her dad calls at just the same moment to complain about her mother — his wife of more than 55 years. Can you believe it? Hold yor breath… will she be able to hold it all together or will it all come crashing down?

  46. @Alexandra Erin, god yes! It’s actually small talk that does it for me, part meeting new people, part not being sure what is ok to talk about and what’s not. It always brings it back which then only gets me more flustered and it gets worse. Then I just nod. My drawing professor* asked me what my major was the other day and I wanted to cry because I had trouble saying art and history education and replying in the affirmative that yes I wanted to teach high school. It’s not too extreme though, most other people don’t really notice it at all but to me it is THE BIG FUCKING DEAL. Good times. :)

    *It should be pointed out that part of this comes from the fact that said professor is young cute and russian, so very intimidating.

  47. @ annimal – Hope you quitting, not awaiting a layoff! $1 million, the ungrateful bastards! You deserve some results from that schmoozing, what with your work ethic!

    @ wellroundedtype2 – Keep that balance! You’re doing great. Plus, I’m sorry about the death of your dog, that’s really sad. Sometimes people downplay just how sad losing a pet can be, which makes dealing with your feelings even harder. I lost one of my little bunny rabbits a week ago and I’m pretty darn sad.

    @ Alibelle & Alexandra Erin – My husband has a speech impediment because of vocal folds that do not stay closed. He is constantly being the victim of low expectations because of them, but is, like many people with speech impediments, quite brilliant, and although he was quiet and shy when he was in school, now he is an intensive case manager whose whole job is about effective communication and earning respect. It’s what you say, not how you say it! (And I think he’s awesome, which is another great life’s accomplishment.)

  48. I just realized how weird it must seem that I want to teach high school considering everything else I’ve said in this thread, however I weirdly have no trouble talking in front of people. It’s the one on one personal interaction I suck at. I didn’t want anyone thinking I was doing some wild confront your fears by putting yourself in a horrible situation type thing.

    @Krishji, that’s great, I like hearing stories like that. Due to hearing only about Barbara Walters when anyone talks about success and speech impediments I’ve started to feel like they’ve locked everyone else with one up in a building hidden away or something. We got one representative, and that was Barbara Walters.

  49. @ Alibelle – This is my husband’s uncle, who also has a prominent speech impediment. It hasn’t stopped him from being a super-brilliant success, either!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hartry_Field

    When he won valedictorian at Harvard, his mother (who was a real piece of work) offered to read his speech for him. Let’s just say he rocked that podium alone.

  50. Oh, and Rowan Atkinson! So much of his fantastic comic timing comes from managing disfluencies, and his trademark over-pronunciations of certain consonants (like the B in Blackadder).

    And RFK Jr., who is not only a hard-working environmentalist, but a member of a “talking family,” if you know what I mean (not an easy time fitting in there).

    And Busta Rhymes, who used to be so fast he’d break ya neck.

    And Marilyn Monroe, who was a very talented, creative actress, in spite of all the hardships she had to endure in her life.

    That’s just off the top of my head. I know there’s so many more. And sometimes people are stupid about speech impediments, but remember, YOU’RE not stupid, YOU’RE an artist and a teacher, and that’s what counts!

  51. Loving these so much. Yous are very awesome ladies.

    karak, without trying to be a rude interfering random on the internet, a friend of mine went undiagnosed (or misdiagnosed — CFS, fibromyalgia, etc) with pain and brain fog and crippling fatigue for years, and if she had mentioned to me even once that among her many symptoms was the ability to stretch out her skin, I would have immediately suggested what it turned out she had — a genetic disorder called Ehler-Danlos syndrome. So as a product of that guilt, can I just mention: karak, that could be a symptom of EDS! There. Thanks.

  52. Not since you spilled three trays of warm brownies on the floor and thought “Eh, my floor’s pretty clean, right?” have you seen such a lovable mess.

    Aw, I love that description!

    @Krishji: Having been to Tibet, I can assure you, butter tea is fucking rad, as long as you think of it like soup.

    Step right up and BEHOLD: The Procrastinatrix!

    She can move mountains, clean an entire house top to bottom, write a 115 pg. thesis, and produce cogent pop cultural analysis for her underviewed, yet frequently updated blog…. as long as she’s supposed to be doing something else!

    Any task, no matter how odious can be completed, as long as it’s vital that she finish something else! Come one, come all! See it in person!

  53. See the Random Relevence Memory Woman! She knows three facts about anything you mention, and if she doesn’t, she will by the time she’s finished talking with you! Watch her pull up a detail from something she read twenty years ago!

    Speaking of, I’ve read about the claimed heights of midgets in sideshows being, um, not quite accurate. It wouldn’t surprise me if the same applies to the weights of fat people in sideshows.

    SaraDee (The Girl Who Saw or Heard Something interesting) is my sister.

    Square bacteria make me happy, and I’m even more delighted to discover that flagella have handed-ness.

  54. Interfacings – I put a dozen eggs in the drawer under my stove the other day. I have no idea why. It was not discovered until several days later. Ahem.

    Piffle – I had a dream last night about drinking a cup of coffee with something very nasty floating in it. Yuck.

  55. @krishji: sadly, i didn’t do this a year and a half ago. anyway, i’m unemployed as of monday. my employer is eliminating my whole division. we’ve had some advance notice so i’ve been looking. the potential new dream job and equipment sale go hand in hand, weirdly enough, so that’s why I haven’t told my employer to go shove it even though i wanted to.
    long story short, a professor wants to buy a bunch of equipment from my soon to be former company, and hire someone to run it (me). he won’t buy the equipment unless he has the right person to run it. so if I decide i don’t like it or if I really mess up my interview, the company is out of luck.

  56. Ladies and Gentlemen, step right up and see the Medical Laboratory Lady. She knows what the colors of the blood tube tops mean, and what they’re used for. Watch her as she detects that a citrate tube is underfilled, even if you wrap the label all the way around it in hopes she won’t notice. The Medical Laboratory Lady can streak an agar plate in 25 seconds flat. She can pronounce words that would leave you flummoxed. Nobody quite knows what it is her job entails. Just don’t call her a nurse, this is a vicious creature who will bite your head off for that.

  57. Another one for me could be
    “See the over made-up lady! See how many cosmetics the human face can carry without collapse!! Those arent wrrrithing spiders trying to escape Satan’s wrrriggling wrrrath, they are blinking eyes! Be amazed at the skin that has not exposed itself to fresh air in 15 years! Marvel at the eyeliner that can never truly be removed, it is so ingrained! Be amazed at this young woman’s dedication, why, she even hikes in full make-up! Allow yourself to be shriek at the absurdity!!”

  58. OOops…didnt mean to say “be shriek”….that should just be “shriek”. Must have had an eyelash in the way.

  59. Krishji, philosophy + theoretical math? My brain explodes just thinking about thinking about them. And the idea of mathematic fictionalism is–well, I’m scared. I can’t even go there.

  60. Fattatgirl, oof. :-) I managed to find the lemon within 24 hours, so it was still in good condition. I cannot tell you how many times I find myself opening a cabinet only to realize I’m holding the milk, or that I’m about to put a plate in the fridge instead of the dishwasher. I usually catch myself, but…not always.

  61. STEP RIGHT UP STEP RIGHT UP

    Come see the Magic Driver! Her driving transcends space and time! Watch her circumvent all of Downtown Atlanta in the hopes of finding her friend’s apartment… even when she’s already been there! Watch her find the bad part of town in any city… no matter where she’s trying to go!

  62. OT: just wanted to apologize to Snarkysmachine for posting after she’d closed the thread on Tavi and fashion. It wasn’t intentional, just that her comment appeared while I was posting mine. Normally I would never keep talking after being asked to shut up, and I don’t want to give the impression that I’m deliberately ignoring Snarkys because I somehow don’t respect her.

  63. @ gnatalby – I could do that! Tea = soup, totally cool with me. I would LURVE to travel to Tibet, especially since I studied for two years with ye olde Bob Thurman and his Well Ignored Syllabus. “What? I made you buy twelve of my books and read all of them this week? What’s the topic? Milarepa? Hm. Today let’s talk about China!” Oh, Bob. I can also say “orange” in Tibetan = tsaluma.

    @ annimal – Wow, that’s some high pressure, my friend. May courage infuse your veins, and this professor have the insight to see your innate brilliance and extraordinary stamina!

    @ Starling – Oh, I know. But to me, he’s Uncle Hartry. And he is such a great teacher, that he has taught me so much about mathematical fictionalism while sitting on his sofa that I can genuinely say I understand what he’s working to prove. He is a true thinker and a true teacher. Unfortunately, he tells me, even some of his students lose patience trying to listen to him. They are totally missing out.

  64. @Krishji: Oh, Bob Thurman, you wackly orientalist.

    I don’t know if you’re still in school, but if you are, the University of MI has a study abroad to Tibet, that’s how I went and it was A.Maz.Ing. I highly recommend it. You don’t have to be a UM student to go, almost half our group wasn’t.

  65. I don’t want to derail the thread by going into it here, but travel to Tibet is highly problematic from an ethical standpoint both in practice and on principle. If you google the topic, you can see what’s been written elsewhere on the subject.

  66. Step right up, Ladies and Gents! It’s the amazing Nerd Girl! Here to astound you with useless facts about science fiction shows that haven’t been on the air in years! Watch her as she twirls around in wings, throwing her Nerd Girl glitter! She can write Vogon poetry! She can sing about X-Files! She will become overly excited for no reason, it seems, at all!

  67. @TheOtherCaitlin:

    I really don’t mean to call you out, but what do you mean exactly? I’m not sure how “just googling” is meant to help in this area.

    I traveled there, for example, because my major was World Religions. So like, I hope you don’t think it was “ethically problematic” for me to travel to Tibet to learn about Tibetan Buddhism, and the program I recommended is mean to study exactly that. I mean really, how else was I meant to ethically study that topic?

  68. gnatlby, I googled “tibet travel problematic ethical” and the 2nd and 3rd link told me exactly what The Other Caitlin meant, and where to find further information. So you’re not calling her out, you’re just not bothering. Which is up to you, but let’s call it what it is.

  69. OT: Further reading on Tibet tourism: link one and link two. Also, Tibetan Buddhism and culture can be studied in Dharamsala in northern India, where the Dalai Lama and thousands of Tibetans are based in exile.

    We’ve had a couple of mass derailments recently so I really don’t want to argue about the specifics of this issue as it’s off topic and this is a fluff thread. Hopefully you will find the links interesting. The second link is to my own blog, so you are welcome to discuss it with me further in the comments section there.

  70. A Sarah– Slap my hand now! I thought acting classes might make my demeanor at least less apologetic, since I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to quit it on the inside. My first one was supposed to be today, though, and I was too scared to go. sorry. =(

  71. Okay…

    About Travel to Tibet

    A good starting point, so as a MOD, I’m asking that the education around this issue happen off this thread and fluffing can continue. This does not mean it’s not an important issue. However, it’s also important that we not derail the hell out of another thread.

    Thanks, for your understanding.

  72. Observe the amazing WTF Was She Thinking girl at work. Watch as she gnashes her teeth every time some dude says something blatantly sexist to her, as for some unknown reason she thought working in one of the most misgynsistic fields on earth was a fabulous idea despite having been a feminist since childhood. Hark at her amazing ability to prevent herself from giving lessons in Feminism 101 to the female PR flacks who act as apologists for their clients’ sexist behavior (by biting her tongue, literally, which gets ouchy after a while). Observe as she openly laughs at photgraphers who ask her if she knows how to use her fancy camera, rolls her eyes at entitlement-complex-having musicians who assume that she is a perk of the job, and tries very hard not to snark at stupid fanboys/fangirls who leave idiotic comments* on her interviews.

    *(Seriously, someone once attempted to convince me that a band who write songs about cartoons, sing in Donald Duck voices and make random kitty noises are comparable to the early Beatles or Rolling Stones and guaranteed to go on to do equally great things. I’ve also been told that it’s rude to comment negatively on bands who spit water over their audience because said water-spitting is just like a kiss.)

  73. Sorcha,

    That’s a great link. We had a thread on that topic recently. I read a few of those books listed on your link. My favorite is A Confederacy of Dunces. Maybe the funniest book ever written. Read it, it’s a riot. She’s Come Undone is good too.

  74. I’m already a geek (just not the circus kind), so I’m good to go:
    `
    Ladies and gentlemen, check out Tessie,
    Her brain is as big as her house is messy.
    Although her clothes are really neat,
    Even her Size 11 dancing feet.
    That’s right — she dances, she wiggles and jiggles,
    Tell her a joke and she even giggles.
    I don’t know if you’ve heard the rumor,
    But she has a really great sense of humor.
    She has one whole room that’s full of books,
    And once in awhile she even cooks.
    Her superpowers are vocabulary and spelling,
    And her collection of perfumes keep her nice smelling.
    Her hair is curly, she’s a little bit squirrely,
    And she really hates to get up early.
    She’s the lass with class and a big round ass,
    You’ll love her quick wits and her really great tits.
    The price of admission is just one book,
    So step right up and have a look.

  75. Ladies and gentlemen, keep your children away from the Amazing Profanity Dispenser! Those with weak hearts should not hear her creative invective! Never before have farm animals and the willfully ignorant been described with such colorful language. Only a penny, we promise you will be shocked! Shocked!

    Off topic but:

    My computer is FUBAR after I tried to put in a 5 year old video card and irrevocably changed some important file, and I won’t be back online until I can get a juicy new 1TB hard drive and reinstall XP. Since hard drives don’t grow on trees, it will be a bit and I don’t expect to be online much. (By the way, ATI is on my shitlist now. Making me purchase a new software disk to use a video card I already purchased from them is just crappy.)

    My husband did get a new job, just for anyone who was wondering about us. He’s just finished up his first 30 hour week and has already made himself indispensable. Woo! I’d gotten used to the company, though.

  76. Presenting the amazing RigPixie! She wears candy colored hair whilst playing an engineer on offshore oilrigs, all with a degree in geology! She impresses with her strength to lift chain tongs, but don’t forget her sharp wit! She can take down rigs the minute she gets off the chopper, but don’t worry, she’ll figure out how to fix it!

  77. fuzzyoctopus,

    A bit late in this, but no, you weren’t the only one who thought of that song. :) I even thought specifically of the Muppet Show sketch you included, too.

  78. Completely random comment, but I LOVE that you used the word “patter!” I remember listening to an episode of “This American Life” that was all about patter–specifically its use in magic/side-shows. Patter is integral to that kind of spectacle and processing the experience, its not just copy.

  79. People of Earth, Young and Old, Gather round and prepare your eyes for a most Horrifying Spectacle!!!! OBSERVE NOW as the paint-spattered, zombie-like, ALIEN BEING hunches over ROW AFTER ROW AFTER ROW of household baseboards balanced horizontally across sawhorses, EACH BOARD TEN FEET LONG!!! Watch in pity as the weary creature–rumored to have once been human–lifts its right appendage, AGAIN and AGAIN, dipping the two-inch wide, 100% natural-bristle, angled sash brush down into the bucket, then lifting it out before DRAGGING IT, agonizingly slowly, STROKE AFTER STROKE, across the surface of EVERY SINGLE FUCKING BOARD!!! Shield your eyes, my god, good people, SHIELD them from the blinding glare reflecting off the surface of EACH AND EVERY FUCKING GLOSS WHITE BOARD, each one—YES!—each one already coated TWICE with SUPER WHITE GLOSS FUCKING ENAMEL!!! Oh, this is hideous, folks, hideous indeed! Now WATCH, but only if you DARE, as the tormented beast squints and strains, and holds its neck in a contorted position, trying desperately to figure out WHERE IN GODS NAME does the OLD COAT of Super White Gloss Enamel END and the NEW COAT of Super White Gloss Enamel BEGIN!!!??? Oh, the pathos! Let us leave this poor Sisyphean Thing before it slumps to the floor and begins its long descent into COMPLETE AND UTTER ENNUI brought on by watching paint dry…

  80. The history of freaks and freakshows is very interesting (to me anyway). Most freaks were what they called gaffes – made up freaks – because the real thing was rare. So you’d put cowboy boots and a cowboy hat on a tallish guy and call him the tallest man in the world, or dress a fat guy up in an unflattering fashion and claim he weighed something ridiculous. Many of the tricks used by modern ‘entertainment’ journalists originated in the freak show, where PT Barnum might arrange for the tallest man in the world to marry the shortest woman, then sell photographs of them doing mundane household crap, like eating breakfast.

    The freak show died because freaks became medicalised – rather than being seen as acts of God or proof of the wonders of nature, they began to be seen as sick people who needed treatment and institutionalisation rather than being displayed for entertainment, entertainment also being bad. But for many freaks it was a profitable and even respectable occupation which gave them social status beyond what they could achieve in the straight world, meeting the famous and the powerful and so on.

    While conjoined twins and the like are still relatively common, very few are left in their birth state. If only one twin can be ‘saved’ the other will be sacrificed, the idea being that the chance for one of them to lead a ‘normal’ life is the best choice for all concerned. Parents are advised that if not separated the children will both die, but that’s not always the case. Which brings up questions about what is normal and why it is so important to us, that we will choose to kill children rather than allow them to grow up being different.

  81. I never knew much about freakshows, but this calls to mind an episode of Little House on the Prairie when a freakshow had come to visit the town. One of the people was a professional fat lady, who also happened to be the sister of a main character. Much of that episode went to show that she was happy with herself because she had a good job, coworkers who respected her, and she was able to make people happy. I think the main point of the episode was that her brother should respect her no matter who she is, and shouldn’t be ashamed.

    For as weirdly fail as many episodes of that show were, I have liked the messages shown in that one. Now I’ll have to try and find it again to see if it actually good, or if my naivety in youth made it seem nice.

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