Saturday, September 2, 2006
Garrison Keillor: We're at the Minnesota State Fair, where we come for our annual look at cows. Enormous Holsteins and Swiss cows, lying down, chewing. Fairy-tale animals ----- ducks, chickens, geese, sheep, pigs ---- this is your only look at them all year. Goosy-loosy and Henny Penny and Babe and Lamb Chop, all here. It's the home of the Slingshot ---- you get strapped into a chair (RATCHETING, RIDE GUY WARNING) and then you sit there for the five longest seconds of your life (HEART POUNDING) and then enormous bungee cords shoot you 200 feet into the stratosphere (BWANGGGG, CRY OF TERROR) and your stomach turns inside out. It attempts to simulate the effect of sitting on a loveseat in the living room when your house blows up.
There are all sorts of Octopus type rides, in which you are strapped in (RATCHET) and you are spun (MOTOR REV, CRIES OF TERROR AND CENTRIFUGAL FORCE) and flung laterally and vertically, which simulates the effect of being in a van as it rolls over and over down a rocky slope.
There are other rides that simulate flying over the motorcycle handlebars after you hit a deer (SCREECH, CRY, WHUMP) or give you the experience of being picked up by a tornado (ROAR, WHOOSH) or being in a bus that skids on glare ice and spins a hundred times (SFX) before it goes over the cliff and falls 280 feet into the water (SPLASH). And the classic fair ride, invented and built in Minnesota, the Tilt-A-Whirl, still going strong after all these years.
This is the time of year when we get sick of fresh vegetables. You see a tomato and you want to throw it and hit a telephone pole and see what that sounds like. (SFX)
A watermelon. (SFX)
I was brought up not to waste food because my ancestors came from countries with poor soil so vegetables were sacred to them. My mother used to say, "Starving children in China would be happy to have that tomato." But here's a tomato I don't think the starving children of China would be interested in at all. It's rotten. There are white things swimming in it. Pick it up. It sloshes. There's your sister bending over picking tomatoes. I wonder if you could hit her from here. Go ahead. Try.