The Virtual State Fair Opens Today

The folks congregating at the Galumphing Booth at the Virtual State Fair are having a great time teasing each other and remembering the days when they sweated over a paragraph describing a burning candle.  They are meeting for a non-real-time reunion held to honor of the days when they all dipped a tentative toe in an imagined spot in cyberspace where words like bricolage, lousy first drafts, goofing around, anti-cliché and even keep going! were thrown around with great abandon.  Luckily the Galumphing Booth is right at the entrance of the Big Top where every famous writer from all time is gathering to honor the survivors of the dreaded short creative piece.

I’m guessing that besides talking to each other (we’d love to hear those lively conversations, I’m sure!), you will also want to have a probing dialogue with one of your favorite writers inside the tent.

“Right this way!” hollers Ann, wearing a top hat, tails, and waving them in with white gloves.

39 responses to “The Virtual State Fair Opens Today

  1. I told my date, Ernie, that I detested fairs of any kind, but he was so pouty and persistent, I finally caved in and agreed to go with him.

    “We are almost there, I can’t wait.”

    “Remember, Ernie, I do not go on rides. I mean it. I hate rides.”

    “Peanut, if you agree to go on just one ride, we can spend the rest of the day doing anything you want.”

    “It must be a calm, safe ride, and only one. I mean it Ernie. I really mean it.”

    “Sure thing, only one calm ride, I promise.”

    Ernie parked the car and we began our mile trek across the dusty, farrowed corn field to the main entrance. After buying our tickets, we started down the gauntlet of Midway Game Booths.

    The first game we passed was a shooting gallery that had birds instead of ducks. It was called “To Kill A Mockingbird.” Hit six out of ten birds and win a Red Badge of Courage.

    The second booth was “The old Man and The Sea” tank fishing game.

    Directly across from the fish tank was the “Moby Dick” fish and chips eatery.

    There was a large line forming outside of the “Little Women” tent, which featured a troupe of midget, poll dancing dames dressed like Disney characters. I was pretty sure that Snow White…was on the verge of melting down into a puddle, due to the 90 degree temperature and the rigors of her routine.

    We ran past the “Slaughterhouse Five” butchering tent and the “Grapes of Wrath” wine tasting booth.

    “Look Peanut, there is a calm and safe ride. It is the “Sense and Sensibility” roll-a-coaster.”

    “That does sound like a reasonable ride,” I replied.

    The coaster tender, helped us take our seats and secured the safety bar down across our laps. The sign on the dashboard of our seat read, CAUTION: “Keep your hands under the safety bar at all times, or you may be saying “A Farewell to Arms.”

    I survived the ride, but just barely. Once our car stopped, I sprinted for the ladies room and a much needed galumphing. In the meantime, Ernie bought us each a frozen Bricolage Bar and a Smoothie.

    Ernest, I swear, if you ever take me on a ride like that again, I’ll kick your butt from here to “East of Eden.”

    We made our way to The Big Top and the biggest shock of my life. The Carnival Barker was none other than our refined Lady of Letters, Ann Linquist. She was decked out in top hat and tails and beckoning one and all to enter the Hall of Famous Authors.

    I approached Ann with my hand extended.

    “Hi Ann, we have never met in person, but we are very good friends. I am Peanut.”

    “Oh my goodness Peanut. You look so much younger in person. Where is your puppy?”

    “I left her at home, I brought my other dog, Ernest with me today.”

    Ann shook our hands and invited us to enter the tent.

    “Take all the time you want to Peanut. I’m quite sure you will meet some very interesting folks under this canvas.”

    With that, we walked inside to explore.

    There were Authors everywhere. Signs hung from the top of the tent that indicated the genre of the writers in attendance; autobiography, Si-Fi, Romance, YA fiction, historical….

    At the farthest side of the arena, I saw a sign that read, “Old Authors…New Ideas.” that peaked my interest, so I headed in that direction. I didn’t even bother telling Ernie where I was going because he was much too preoccupied with the “Drinking, Womanizing, War, and Bull Fighting” genre table.

    The first team of Old Authors with New Ideas that I came to was J.D. Salinger and Julia Child who were working on their offering, “The Catcher in the Rye Bread.”

    Next was Margaret Mitchell and Al Roker with their book, “ My Career Has Gone With The Wind” a work of historical fiction about a Yankee Meteorologist in the Civil War.

    Seated at the next table were Dr. Seusse and Tennessee Williams; “The Cat in the Hat on a Hot Tin Roof.”

    The last team that I encountered was Harriet Beecher Stowe and Mark Twain who ask me to help them with their project, “Uncle Tom Sawyer’s Cabin.” What a Hoot that pair was. My kind of people for sure. Suffice to say, I had too much fun with them and ended up staying way too long at the fair.

  2. Far side of the Big Top…Follow the scent of a fine cigar. Thanks Gale.

  3. galelikethewind

    With some minor trepidation, I approached the attractive female barker at the west entrance to the massive canvas tent.
    “Are you Ann?” I asked.
    “Yes, thanks for coming. And you are?”
    “GaleLikeTheWind,” I said, “I took your wonderful online course some time ago. And I have been faithfully contributing to your Blog for over a year.”
    “Oh, yes,” she smiled, “I recognize your handle. You are older than I had imagined. Not that you look too old, or anything,” she quickly added,” but I thought you were in your forties, based on your submissions.”
    “It’s OK, “ I said, “I don’t really feel like I have taken 73 trips around the sun myself. My mind puts me in my late fifties, but the body betrays me every time. So Ann, would you please be so kind as to direct me to Mark Twain?”
    “Just follow this aisle through to the far side of the tent, and after you pass Gary Larson’s table, you will see Mr. Twain’s small stage. He is usually seated in a large leather rocking chair up on the platform, so he can look out over the crowd.”

    “Thanks, and again, it is nice to finally meet you in person.” I headed down the crowded aisle and followed it about sixty yards until I finally spotted Twain. There were several people of all ages gathered around the base of his platform, waiting to speak to the old master. I got in the informal line and struck up a conversation with the person in front of me.
    “I just saw Val Kilmer playing Citizen Kane at the Pasadena Playhouse last week.” I ventured as a conversation starter.
    “Hi, my name is Jeff, and I was lucky enough to see Hal Holbrook doing Twain in Hartford ten years ago. Really brought the writer to life.”
    “Jeff? You don’t by any chance follow Ann Linquist’s Blog do you?”
    “Sure do.” he replied. I stuck out my hand.
    “GaleLikeTheWind.” I said, “A pleasure to meet you.”
    “Small world,”said Jeff,”who would have believed this?” I told Jeff of my love of Twain’s works, and that I had been reading his stories and novels since I was seven years old. My maternal grandmother had a small library of his works in her den. And when I would stay overnight at her home, I would pull down one of the books and read for hours. I looked up and saw that Jeff was up next to speak with Mr. Clemens/Twain. I took a few steps back to provide him with a small degree of privacy. He talked for about ten minutes, sitting on the small footstool across from the large leather chair that sort of engulfed the author in it massive seat. They were laughing. I hoped I wouldn’t say something too stupid. When Jeff finally stood, and moved to the steps that led down from the stage, he looked quite pleased, and gave me a friendly wink.
    “Very gracious,” said Jeff, “just be natural.”

    “Thanks.” I said. I climbed up the four small steps and found myself face to face with one of my childhood idols, and absolutely one of my favorite authors. After I introduced myself, I told him of something we had in common. I had lived in the Carson Valley of Nevada in the 1990’s, and I reminded him of one of my favorite passages from “Roughing It.”
    “They have a Zephyr Wind that hits that valley every afternoon around two.” he had written of his stay there in the 1860’s. “And it is so powerful that it turns the houses in that valley about a quarter-turn by the time it dies down. So every four days, your house returns to its original position.”
    “Ha ha, I remember that wind like it was yesterday.” said Twain, “So is it still out there a blowin?” he asked.
    “Oh yes,” I replied, “ but now it spins the Costco and Wall-mart stores on their very foundations. It is quite a sight. Thank you for all your insight into the human condition,” I said, as I stood to leave,”and believe it or not, I follow you on Facebook now.” The great man smiled under his bushy white mustache and those perry-winkle blue eyes twinkled as he took my hand and said:
    “Been nice chatting with you Gale,” keep on writin, you hear?”
    I was in heaven.

    • “Perry-Winkle Blue eyes,” enchanting stuff Gale. You are one lucky fella to get some one-on-one with such a great wit. He must be impressed that you learned some of your style from him.

    • Nicely done Gale. I think I would be a little afraid to meet Mr. Clemens. It was said that he had quite the barbed tongue. He might give me a tongue lashing I would never forget. 🙂 Sounds like you had a wonderful chat. Great job.

    • Gale, loved this one. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are among my favorites. Your writing has put me in the mood to get to rereading them both. Twain’s writing always puts me in a good mood and now so have you. Thanks.

  4. to talk to Mr. Clemens must have been fun glad you got to do it. good read and great thoughts.

  5. 3 cheers for Peanut and Gale for their creativity in their writing. I cant wrap my head around this one, but look forward to those who can.

  6. Jeff, Gullible, I know you guys can come up with something. Somehow you always do.

  7. OK, not to the letter of the assignment, but maybe in the spirit of it?
    Holly Demera cups her hand to her mouth, exhales through her lips, and breathes in through her nose, testing if her breath is as foul as the air held in stagnation in the early morning hour following last call. Feeling the discomfort of her weight as she sits, she shifts from one cheek to another, trying to find a comfortable spot on the padded red vinyl booth seat, one she has occupied for the past three hours.

    She reaches for her pack of Pall Malls stuck tightly to the laminate table top by a ring of condensation from her last beer. She peels it up, and wipes its wetness on the sleeve of her dress. The moisture has saturated the ends of the last three cigs. She pulls one from the pack, pinches off the soggy end, places the cut end between her lips and fires it up with her Zippo. The rough tobacco flares, and red embers drop to her puffy ebony breasts, flesh which men once found exciting. She extinguishes them, patting with her free hand and cursing herself. Her fingertips linger at the pink scar which runs diagonally across her left breast and down her belly, an aged and stretched souvenir from a woman unable to reconcile Holly’s flirtations with her man.

    The bar nearly empty wallows in its own silence, the jukebox mute for the past half-hour. Two drinkers sit at the bar with their backs turned to her, previously showing no interest in her come-hither smiles cast like bait on a cane pole to bottom-feeding catfish in the channel which runs too close to the shanties which define the residents who long ago cast themselves from society.

    A lone white man wearing a strap T-shirt tucked into pleated pants worn high on his waist and a straw fedora tips his glass to his lips and downs its amber contents. He has sat in the same spot for two hours, staring at nothing but absorbing everything, making notes in a small spiral notebook which he returns to his pants pocket. He nods to the barkeeper and pushes a ten-spot across the oak bar top. He turns from his stool and punctuates his exit with a final nod toward Holly.

    Holly shuffles her way to the bar and asks, “What’s that white man doing in here, Rafe?”

    Rafe replies, “Said he was passin’ through, Miss Holly. Name was Williams I think. From Tennessee.

    • Galelikethewind

      You certainly captured the spirit, Jeff. I can stll feel the stifling humidity in that scene.

    • Loved the whole thing, but especially the bait on a cane pole…bottom feeders. Very nice. Stumbled over ” the bar nearly empty wallows.” Maybe “the nearly empty bar wallows…” Or “the bar, nearly empty, wallows…”? Either would make the sentence flow. Just a kindly suggestion.

    • Dang, Jeff, you are so good at setting a scene. Well done.

  8. I fully expect to see Stella, Stanley and Blanche sitting in the corner booth. Excellent scene setting. I felt the stifling, smelly heat and could easily see T. Williams frequenting such a dive in search of his next pathetic star. Well done my friend. Now wasn’t that fun ?

  9. Ann, photo of my latest scaffolding trick at my blog. I know you told me no more scaffolding, but ya gotta do what ya gotta do. Look for post titles where there’s smoke, etc.

    • #X%+!%$!!!!! Stop doing that!!! Next thing we know you’re going to be crawling around on the roof, telling us you just had to replace a few shingles!

      I feel like the cop in some movie. “Put down the sandpaper, Ma’am. Back away from the step ladder. Now slowly climb down the scaffolding. Easy now. All right. Now don’t move!”

      I’m calling for backup.

      • Ew, ew, ew, look at all those exclamation points. I know an online writing instructor who would frown on that.

    • Is there a photo I cant seem to find?

      • Near the bottom of the post is a photo of two decks of scaffolding with an 8 ft stepladder on top of that.

  10. Actually, the roof thing is not far off. I have to reprint the facia. Lying on the roof and hanging over the edge seems the best way to accomplish that. Then there’s the stack for the wood stove that needs cleaning… I will admit that I have been feeling my age the last couple days after numerous trips up and down ladders. Darn it. Seems like walking almost a hundred miles picking up litter would have gotten me in some kind of shape after being a lazy slug all winter.

  11. IPad thinks it knows what I really meant to type. It’s “paint” the fascia, not “print.”

  12. Great line on Longmire tonight: This old boy’s a few iambs short of a pentameter.

  13. He had sneaked his way into the last three shows. Getting around the door keepers and barkers for a quick show was a nice challenge for Walterburgle. This guy was quick, like the brown fox. He either charmed the ticket taker or set a nice rouse to get their attention redirected. He had heard that the best show in this big tent wonderland was the Galumphing Booth. Well, there wasn’t a show that he hadn’t seen this year of such repute. And, by golly, why should he pay for it. He tried to crawl under the tent unnoticed. But to his chagrin the edges were screwed down tight. No go there. A group of obviously close friends drew is attention as they were gathered at the entrance chatting among each other. He stepped into their crowd. He intended to blend into their group and just waltz right on in. However, the barker was quicker than he was today. No lazy dog was she.
    Peering directly at Walterburgle, the barker let out a throaty “Ahem.”
    Being noticed wasn’t good for the duck-and-enter strategy. Looking behind himself and back he mouthed the words, “who me?”
    “Yes, you. Were you trying to sneak into this show with Martha, John and the rest of their friends?”
    Even though Walterburgle liked to sneak into a show every now and again, if he was caught, he always fessed up to it. He lowered his head. “Yes, mam. I heard that this was the best booth of the whole fair.” He screwed his left foot into the ground a little. The dirt plumed slightly around his shoe. “I haven’t been to a nice show yet this year. They all say that they are the greatest show, blah, blah, blah. But when you get in, it is always the same thing, an old guy with bad teeth telling horrendous jokes. Or, there is a really pretty girl with a particular gift at swallowing things. They are good shows. I guess. But, I do so want to see the best show. The best show on Earth.”
    Ann dropped her gaze to him and smiled. “My dear boy, this show-” she cleared her throat and continued, “This show is not the greatest show on Earth. It is something entirely different. What awaits the willing to step in beyond that tent flap is a new understanding, an awakening, something that will enlighten those willing to partake.”
    “Are you saying that if I pay to go into this tent, I will have some new age guy telling me about his road for enlightenment or spiritual gift? Because, I have been to a few shows in my limited time here and I am not buying that bag of popcorn.”
    She giggled, “No, this isn’t a religious festival. Nobody is trying to convert or recruit anyone.”
    “Good. Well, it looks like – What did you say here name was?”
    “Yeah, Martha. It looks like Martha and gang were ready to enjoy it. I guess I should give it a try. How much?” He reached into his pockets and rummaged for the change he had hidden away.
    “Well, that is the beauty of it.” She leaned down close to him. Next to his ear she whispered, “It only costs you what you are willing to spend. Mostly time, some money. But mostly, it’s your time.”
    “Go on. Run in. But, take heed. There can be monsters, royalty, paupers and even a few old guys with bad teeth in there.”

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