On to the Merry-Go-Rounds! 

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Maktaaq: I've made real progress with my novel. Listen to this: instead of November - minor character description - main character introduction - visitors - horrors! I altered the order of the first few chapters to tier two character quirk description - November - visitors - second tier two character quirk description - horrors!

Matt: That sounds good.

Maktaaq: Yes, I am excited! The new order seems more dynamic. I've been researching bearded women, Guevedoche - those Latin American girls who at puberty sprout penises, the auroch - the national animal of Moldova, and merry-go-rounds.

Matt: So, um, why you are you reading about cesarians?

Maktaaq: Oh. They're horrific. Listen to this:
You press a No. 10 blade down through the flesh, along a side-to-side line low on the bulging abdomen. You divide the skin and golden fat with clean, broad strokes. Using a white gauze pad, you stanch the bleeding points, which appear like red blossoms. You slice through the fascia covering the abdominal muscle, a husk-like fibrous sheath, and lift it to reveal the beefy red muscle underneath. The rectus abdominis muscle lies in two vertical belts that you part in the middle like a curtain, metal retractors pulling left and right. You cut through the peritoneum, a thin, almost translucent membrane. Now the uterus — plum-colored, thick, and muscular — gapes into view. You make a small initial opening in the uterus with the scalpel, and then you switch to bandage scissors to open it more swiftly and easily. It’s as if you were cutting open a tough, leathery fruit.
Ha! A plum-coloured uterus! A tough, leathery fruit! It's such an old metaphor for the female reproduction system!

Matt: Huh? Your novel?

Maktaaq: Ok, yes. I've been having very severe writer's block. Here's my research on merry-go-rounds:
  • The earliest merry-go-round, with baskets hanging from a pole, appears in a Byzantine bas-relief from around 500 A.D.

  • The word comes from the Italian garosello and Spanish carosella ("little war").

  • The crusaders first saw Turkish and Arabian horsemen use the contraption as they practiced "attacking" enemies. The object was to successfully catch perfume-filled clay balls: good horsemen would not let the balls burst.

  • In Europe, the carousel was first kept secret within castle walls as a martial training device.

  • The first carousels used by civilians were made for royalty (i.e. Le Place du Carrousel in Paris, between the Tuileries and the Louvre).

  • Louis XIV gave (or inaugurated? received??) the first one in 1662.

  • The first carousels were moved by people, horses or mules.

  • George Alexander Stevens, a poet and all-round theatre dude, first used, in a 1729 poem, the word merry-go-round. He also performed his Lecture on Heads, "a satirical 'lecture' on heads and fashion, which parodied the popularity of physiognomy," in 1764, travelling throughout Britain, Ireland, and to Boston and Philadelphia with the show. Read the lecture here.

  • Carousels flourished in the early nineteenth century.

  • Early merry-go-rounds had no platforms; "the animals would hang on poles or chains and fly out from the centrifugal force of the spinning mechanism, these are called 'flying horses' carousels."

  • The flying horse carousels operated with animals walking in a circle, or someone cranking or pulling ropes.

  • It was only in the mid-1800s that the platform appeared: "sitting on a suspended circular floor which was hanging from the centerpole; these machines were then steam powered."

  • Nineteenth century ads touted the merry-go-round as good for blood circulation.

  • The Columbia double-decker carousel was built in 1976.

  • The most lavish side of the horses is the Romance side and this faces the outside.

  • The outside horse behind the chariot is the Lead (King) Horse.

  • The benches (the chariots or gondolas) are the Lover's Seats.
From Wikipedia, History of Carousels, and the Merry-Go-Round Museum.

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Carousels generally turn clockwise, don't they? But if they were initially used for military exercises, then they must have gone counterclockwise, to allow the riders to feint at exterior objects with lances held in their right hands.

Thanks for the fascinating lesson.
Great info, Bluewyvern! I'll have to make a trip out to the local merry-go-round to observe its revolution!
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