Too many to list! One of them is The April Witch. Would you like to see a few seconds of that time I took my friend T'Pring over to Mr B's to read him that story? It's quite wonderful.
Do you mean you have a video? That would be quite . . . wonderful?
"His fingers closed down . . ."
How did you come to be so intimate, or on such familiar terms, with Mr. B? if you don't mind my asking.
I wrote him and he wrote back - several times. When I moved here from the east coast, I would see him at book-signings and lectures. Then I made a film with his best friend 4E Ackerman, and Mr B agreed to be in it. We became friendly and he started inviting me over to the house, to his plays, to Comic Con, etc. He was a wonderful person.
Envy. I wrote him my tribute note but he did not reply. But i excuse that because he was quite old by that time, and no one has automatic rights to another's time or attention. You may picture me as Cora waiting by the mailbox in 'The Great Wide World Over There.' But I have recovered.
I have mentioned that I liked "Hail and Farewell". It just struck a chord. As a kid I used to experience deja vu a lot but this has faded. I worked for a theme park/carnival company for a few years; there's nothing quite like a slow (or deserted) midway or an empty theme park in the off-season. I also used to hitchhike quite a bit - you can't do this stuff and not run into a lot of characters!
For several decades I lost the author and title information for "Hail and Farewell"... it was just "that story" that I couldn't identify. I finally asked a bookseller on an auction web and he ID'd the story for me.
There are various paeans to RB and the "Littlest Hobo" on my dog's web page. At 16 Sticky doesn't get around much any more but he still barks it up a bit. Once a carny...
Of passing interest: https://www.stickydoggy.com/circus-boy.html and hobo.html
Kind regards, Roman Toronto Canada
Being a carny, I wonder what your response to "Something Wicked . . . " was . . . or Theodore Sturgeon's 'The Dreaming Jewels'. Both featured a masterfully wicked manager/ringmaster. Wait, those were circuses with carnivalesque aspects. I had a nasty experience with a carny once. I was a senior in high school, and I took a girl to the stock show/carnival. We went on a couple of rides. The guy who operated the whirling teacups didn't like my looks, and he sized me up some sort of way, and he saw me with a girl he might have envied. He decided he was going to f*** me up real good. At the controls, he saw to it that my 'teacup' got whirled and whammed unmercifully, using angular momentum to the maximum effect. i realized what he was trying to do. He'd seen it all. He knew the game. He was trying to make me throw up. And shame/humiliate me in front of my date.
Luckily I held on. As we got off, all I could do was stare at him. He knew. I knew. We both knew. His blank, impenetrable stare told it all.
Carnivals and the American Midwest: the travelling sneer and the innocent hometown yokels. Always dreamed of writing another story on that theme.
But no antipathy is intended for our fine guest Romans, only curiosity.
Alas, I may not be familiar with "Something Wicked..." -- not sure how this could be, as I've read quite a few RB books, stories and interviews -- and T.S. was news to me until now. I confess to being a sucker for 1950's pulp and SF covers.
I guess the main thing for me was that the summers were short and tended to be bittersweet, except for the few times here and there when I was able to make 'em last through to December and even January. Bit of a trick, that. And will somebody please tell me how to turn off the recurring dreams!!
I have the "e-version" (!) of Wicked here with RB's 1998 afterword about carnivals.
Wow, a Sturgeon-related cover in Wikipedia links to what had to be a groundbreaking (1982!) computer graphics book! Ergo, both cover art samples here are by the same guy. I would have liked to have known him.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...ile:Sunstonebook.jpgThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Roman_K2,
My weirdest experience at a carnival, which must have been in connection with a fair in the next county over, was when I was 12 or 13 years old. I went up to this trailer purporting to have a wax museum depicting every president of the United States. This sounded interesting but I didn't see how they could have such a thing in so small a space. I went to the only person at the booth, a boy of about 14, and asked, "Is there really a wax museum in there?"
He just stared at me, utterly silent and almost completely still, so that I might have thought he was a waxwork himself except he was too lifelike, breathing, blinking his eyes, and so on. I tried several times to elicit any response but from his glassy stare I was unable to tell if he was so out of it he didn't even know I was there or whether he did know and was acting on purpose to freak me out.
I looked around but saw no adult, this boy was totally alone. He couldn't have been blind, deaf, or autistic as who would leave a poor disabled kid alone at the booth of an attraction? I rather suspected, still do, that some substance he had ingested had kicked in and he was tripping, big time. Perhaps he was left there while his folks got high and they didn't realize how stoned or whatever he was or didn't care. Or he resented being left in charge and decided to just freak me out.
After several attempts, I gave up. I knew they couldn't have 37 life-sized figures in there so they must be miniatures and probably crummy ones at that. If this creepy kid was wanting to freak me out he certainly succeeded. Around 45 years later I am still wondering just what the hell was up there! Closest I can describe him is if you picture young Mr. Cooger from the movie of Something Wicked This Way Comes as a teenager with curly hair.
Those of you who like Something Wicked This Way Comes may enjoy The Night Circus, a 2011 fantasy novel by Erin Morgenstern about a circus with distinct differences from the ordinary.
'73 or '74 . . . just the right time for 'substance use' to have gone almost mainstream . . . I'm glad my youth was set a decade earlier.
While we're on the subject of ghastly carnival experiences, I have one more to share. I was 6 or 7, and my parents took me to the same stock show/fair/carnival described above . . . cotton candy and shooting galleries and cloaked paid attractions. Healthy rich smell of cow dung everywhere. We walked down the midway, past lights and stalls and tents, bustling crowd, all that, while above us, maybe 20 feet high, to our shock and horror and fascination, the carnival had erected a series of billboard-sized paintings of "Eeka", an utterly naked woman with snake-fang teeth, striding through the jungle, battling various wild animals as she went. It was a little extreme for 1950's America. Apart from her fangs and her crazy-fierce eyes, she did not look too bad. The hair was a little wild. My parents had not expected this. They clutched my hand and marched grimly forward.
I had wanted to see the reptile exhibit, since I was a go-out-to-the-woods-and-catch-'em-alive enthusiast, so they indulged me. Inside the tent, roped off, were the glass boxes with rattlesnakes. The four corners of the roped ring were guarded by vaguely freakish alcoholic/sinister looking men, seated on chairs, and as I leaned over the rope one of them struck me in the face. My parents were pissed, but I really didn't care. I'd had my load of incomprehensible weirdness for the day.
When I was 7 (and a few days shy of my 8th birthday if memory serves) my parents let me go to Niagara Falls (close to 100 miles away) kind of by myself. Okay so it was a "school" trip but what actually happened was a different class/different teacher had room on the bus for two more kids so I chirped up and got my name on the manifest. Permission slip? A quick "Here Mom, sign this!"/"Uh... ok" and bingo I had given THEM the slip!
Freaky walking alone down the main drag of a new town with my Brownie (a type of roll film camera) around my neck. It was probably my most "Hail and Farewell" moment.
Some time later a guy at a travelling carny tried to recruit me and a couple of other Toby Tyler wannabe kids... he didn't exactly say "run away" - it didn't get that far but to this day I wonder if he was on the level. So yeah, you used to get... ah, unusual folks on both sides of the turnstile.
As I mentioned I downloaded SWTWC and a bunch of others over the weekend but have yet to really look at them. I noticed that in one of the Forewords to a mixed collection, Harlan Ellison said that as a runaway kid he worked on a travelling carny.
My absolutely best carny/SF/fantasy moment was when Keir Dullea (the main astronaut in the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey; Gary Lockwood was the other one) came on the ride I was working on which was a miniature train... he sat behind me, first seat behind the engine sort of thing and we chatted the length of the trip. And when the ride ended he liked it so much he paid for another spin!
I had my dog Sticky with me and Dullea let the Sticker try his space helmet on for size... ha ha ha, just kidding, but later on I did do a bit of fiberglass and painterly "art department" stuff at the same park. Ho ho ho, all done with special photographic effects and no animals were harmed. <chortle>
dullea-helmet.jpg (82 Kb, 8 downloads) Sticky tries Keir Dullea's helmet on for size
Tales of the carnival . . . I guess I can scrape out one or two more from the dried-up old pots of memory stacked up in the sink . . . soon to be washed clean . . . ha ha just kidding, I hope not. This carnival in Houston had cables strung over the midway, 20 to 40 feet off the ground, treetop-high, and my girlfriend and I took a ride on the dangling benches that had NO PROTECTIVE BARS from the fall. I was taken over -- possessed -- by the desire to slip out and jump, and I had to use all my strength of mind not to do so. This realm of perverse, unexpected suicidal ideation consumed me for several minutes as I gripped the armrests in utter silence. When the ride was over and we touched down I could breathe again. I hopped off in relief. She told me that the same thing had happened to her, so we had both sat there, frozen in fear of what had arisen from our own depths, trying not to yield to it. We swore together never to go on such a ride again. And we never did, but it's a memory that binds us together in an odd way.
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