Saturday, January 07, 2006


Who uses it: Carnival people
What it means: A sideshow attraction who earns money by doing truly disgusting things, most notably biting the heads off chickens
How you can use it: Join me in restoring the power of this great word.

I used the word "geek" in yesterday's post, and then I thought about it for the rest of the day. Robertson Davies describes geeking in his novel World of Wonders, but the best description in all of literature is probably William Lindsay Gresham's, in Nightmare Alley -- a classic of 1940s noir that is inexplicably out of print.

I'm not sure how "geek" made the transition from meaning someone subhuman, who'll do vile things for money, to meaning anyone who's spent too much time on one subject. Maybe it's a question of obsession... but my impression of the original geeks was that they did it to fuel drug habits, not because they developed a taste for chicken blood.

Aren't you glad you stopped by this morning?

Anna and I saw Memoirs of a Geisha last night. Gorgeous, but empty, and the happy ending is that our heroine gets to be a businessman's mistress. Hmm.


Madley said...

I'm always glad to drop by :) And I thought the same thing about Memoirs -- beautiful and way too tidy of a Hollywood ending. As filling as a Krispy Kreme.

Happy New Year, Answer Girl!

Anna said...

In the book he puts her up in a swanky apartment in the Waldorf Astoria, where she lives out her days raising his son, running a tea house and being the toast of Manhattan. That's a better ending, I think!