carnival fool


I’m running off to join the carnival. More than one carnival, actually.

First stop: The 3rd Carnival of Colors thought my blue people would make an attractive side show.

Second stop: Ms. Mismanners has been dragged off to the 73rd Carnival of Satire to demonstrate clause contortionism, comma-juggling, epithet-throwing and her latest note-writing tips.

Third stop: I was going to put together a fun and exciting carnival list, but instead I’ll share with you some tidbits of Carnival Jargon that I snagged from the Wikipedia Carny page.

  • Mark

    A target for swindling, especially one whose gullibility has been demonstrated. Derived from the covert use of chalk to mark the backs of especially ripe targets. The term has entered the popular lexicon, usually as “easy mark.”

    So that’s why I kept getting chalk on my shirt. (Don’t worry, though. A nice young man said he’d go buy me a new shirt. I’m sure he’ll be back any minute now with my new shirt and the change from that large bill.)

  • Sharpie

    The opposite of a mark: an experienced player who is wise to traditional carny scams and is skilled at the games themselves.

    Is that what the marker folks had in mind?

  • Some money terms:

    Scratch – the revenue from a concession.

    Oats – stolen money from a concession.

    “The Nut” – The sum total (in cash) of a performance, or group of performances

    “The Kitty” – Budgeted amount of finance, regulated by the management of a carnival for purchasing food and supplies for its workers. (“We wanted a new tent, but there’s no more scratch in the kitty”)

    I had no idea kitty was a carny term…Though I’ve found possible other origins. (Wait, you mean Wikipedia might have inaccurate information? But it must be true. I read it on the internet.)

  • Then there’s “Sugar Shack”:

    a concession or food-stand that doubles as a front for drug commerce & trafficking.

    Wow. This makes me really suspicious of all those places that claim to sell things like maple syrup, candles and most suspiciously “quilt kits.” (Oh, fine, so the term has a legitimate maple-syrupy meaning, too. Or at least that’s what they want us to think. I bet their fingers are just sticky with illicit activities.)

  • Burn the lot

    To cheat players with little or no attempt to conceal the subterfuge, in the carny’s expectation that the same town will not be visited again.

    I try to take this attitude when visiting relatives. I mean, really, do I want to be invited back?

  • And ooooh. An infix:

    -iz- – inserted between the syllables of words to serve as a cipher or cryptolect.

    (This -iz- may or may not have a relationshizip to the –izz– infix.)

  • Here are some more assorted bits:

    Bally – A free performance intended to attract both tips and visitors to the nearby sideshow.

    Slough – Tear down your “joint”. Get it ready for the road.

    Spring – Open the carnival.

    “Rousty” or “Roustabout” – A temporary or full-time laborer who helps pitch concessions and assemble rides. In the 1930s, American Rousty’s would work for a meal and perhaps a tent to share with other workers.

    “Donniker” – Bathroom

    “Alibi” – A technique used where the player has apparently won the game, but is denied a prize when the jointee invents a further, unforeseeable, condition of the game. For example, a player may be disqualified on the grounds of having leaned over a previously undisclosed “foul line.”

  • Okay. There will be a quiz later. For your homework, please use one or more of these words in a sentence.

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