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Brass tacks, whale-the-synonym, midway

Brass tacks
I learned a new idiom! "getting down to brass tacks" Never having heard it before, I naturally assumed it was an English Englishism, but this page tells me that it was first attested in Texas in 1863.

"getting down to brass tacks"

I use it myself
27(22.7%)
I know it well.
61(51.3%)
I have heard it before.
29(24.4%)
It's unfamiliar.
1(0.8%)
Brass tacks?
1(0.8%)


Whale-the-synonym
It suddenly struck me last week that "whale" as a synonym for human fatness, along with "blubber", seemed distinctly American to me (as opposed to British). True?

Midway
At dinner last week after her BSFA interview, Jo Fletcher wondered what a midway ride was. We settled on a "fair ride" as the closest easy translation.

Then this week, I read Drop Dead, Gorgeous (thanks to impulse library browsing), a large swathe of which takes place at an Iowa State Fair fairground which really does not resemble the original. For example: what main building? And if you had a large fairground designed to host tens, if not hundreds of thousands of people, would you keep it closed 50 weeks a year if you could possibly use it a fair number of other weeks of the year for other events? By the time our main characters have done an incoherent tour of various farflung bits of the grounds, they could have been out of an exit many times over; but they were waiting for "the" exit.

Also, and more relevantly, the well-known really-tall slide is no indication at all that they are on the midway. Because it isn't.

Comments

desperance
Oct. 4th, 2011 01:30 pm (UTC)
Should I be scared?
owlfish
Oct. 4th, 2011 01:34 pm (UTC)
It involves tasty food! (Although much of it is deep-fried.)
desperance
Oct. 4th, 2011 01:35 pm (UTC)
S'okay, I'm not scared of yummy crunchy greasy stuffs.

Rides, though...
owlfish
Oct. 4th, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC)
I never do the rides. Except sometimes the big slide.

State fairs differ in exact distribution of what they contain, but they tend to have lots and lots of agriculture-related competitions. And food competitions. And (optionally) art and music competitions. It's a big showcase for random local talent, whether its horseshoe throwing or jame-making or playing the ukelele or who has the largest hog or biggest pumpkin or most accurate cow dog.
momist
Oct. 4th, 2011 04:25 pm (UTC)
State fairs
Would be the equivalent of our "County Show" where (frequently agricultural) local enterprise is displayed. However, our shows rarely include what I would term fairground rides. Maybe motorbike rides, go-carts and steam vehicles, but not dedicated pleasure rides.
klwilliams
Oct. 4th, 2011 01:46 pm (UTC)
They're a lot of fun. And the people watching is superb. Think of it as a cultural experience, especially at the Eastern Idaho State Fair.