August 30th, 2007


HALP. I know next to nothing about traveling carnivals!

I got bitten by a horror story that involves a traveling carnival..ish... thing. Unfortunately I know very little about traveling carnivals. If anyone has resources they can point me toward, I would be most obliged - fiction or non-fiction, it doesn't matter.

I'm looking mostly for 19th century stuff and earlier, but I intend to munge together different elements, so 20th century stuff might also be helpful as long as it's still a vintage setting - tilt-a-whirls aren't what I'm looking for. The sideshow aspect is especially important. Also relevant would be resources on traveling medicine shows. And if anyone can point me toward some sort of pictorial guide as to how a traveling carnival and/or medicine show tends to be laid out, I will KISS you. (Unless, of course, that's a bad thing...)

Possibly relevant detail - this story I'm writing involves a very small outfit touring to small towns, not a large one. Resources on large carnivals would still be helpful and appreciated, but small ones would be ideal. ETA: Also possibly relevant is the location, which is, I think, a little bit of American west, and a little bit of European country-side smooshed together..

Stuff I'm already aware of: The movies Freaks and La Strada, and the books Water for Elephants (Sara Gruen) and Sideshow (Sherri S. Teper), and I read Something Wicked This Way Comes way back in the day. ETA: Oh, I left out the HBO series Carnivale, I'm getting that too.

If anyone has anything else, I'd be most grateful!

Amount of force to break a mirror?

Okay, so I have a character (female, about 22, moderate strength, having a bit of a breakdown in this scene) who is starting to hit the mirror over her sink. She is going to hit it repeatedly with her fists. The mirror is likely attached to the wall with some sort of adhesive. The house is at least 30 years old and the story is set in Houston, Texas, meaning the air is usually humid and fairly warm, so the adhesive may have weakened over time, I suppose...

Would she be likely to break it?

I have hit a few mirrors in my time, but never without taking some degree of care to not crack them. So it occurred to me that don't even know if I'd be capable of breaking a mirror, and unfortunately I do not have one to experiment on (or a desire to cut up my hands).

Phrases I Have Googled (usually variations on each of these, as well):
Breaking a mirror
How to break a mirror
force to break a mirror
shatter + mirror
crack + mirror
force to shatter a mirror
hit + mirror
punch + mirror
Harold & Maude - kiss

16 year old runaway who does NOT want to return home; GED testing

Time and place: Summer of 2004, Binghamton NY (later Athens GA).
Already Googled: "Teen runaway" and similar.
Also already looked at: New York State laws,, the National Runaway Switchboard site, and some materials I have access to as a result of my RL job. Also Also New York and Georgia state education dept, and the website for Athens Technical College.

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Catholic parents, the pill, 'living together', etc.

Setting: near future southern CA (maybe ten or fifteen years from now) -- this is an SF story

One of my characters is Catholic, female, eighteen and living with the MC (who's male) in defiance of her parents. My questions: Is it realistic that her parents (who would have been born in the late 70's/early 80's) are angry at her for a) living with a guy, b) being on the Pill, or both? Or something else altogether in this situation?

(I'm hoping that it would be realistic for there to be tension between her and her parents, as this is a basis for her subplot ...)

If so, what would they be likely to do? What arguments would they be throwing up at her to persuade her to end this situation? (obviously they can't put the chastity argument out there as she's no longer a virgin) How harsh or hard-line might their arguments be?

I'm a parent but neither Catholic nor the sort to be angry at my daughter in this situation, so I'm a bit at a loss.

Searched this site, found nothing relevant.
Googled: catholics and the pill, catholic attitude towards cohabitation (did find a bit on the church's view, but don't know if this is what any catholics actually think)

Any help appreciated.

ETA: Great ideas ... I'm thinking her family is well off, she's been sheltered and homeschooled, and college is her first exposure to the world. And she's definitely in adolescent rebellion here. The Pill is for birth control; she's perfectly healthy.

Boyfriend is not religious at all, although he will go with her to Mass occasionally to make her happy.

ETA2: All these comments are fantastic! ... Hmm, about the homeschooling, I'm thinking she was originally in Catholic school but they didn't like that so they pulled her out and homeschooled her. She's at a secular college (which might be another bone of contention). Her boyfriend (the MC) is 23 (a PhD candidate in experimental physics at the same school), and his mom is concerned about the age spread also.

I hadn't thought about who was paying for her schooling (we're of the 'we paid our way so you should too' form of parenting), but I can certainly see how they would be upset if they were paying for her to go.
Batman- the riddler's hat

Paleontology on the East Coast (US)

Okay, so the character is a retired paleontology professor who taught on the East Coast of the US, and I need a good school for him to have taught at. Are there any East Coast schools with well-regarded paleontology departments? Even a half-decent one would be fine, really.

Unfortunately, I can't change the East Coast or paleontology thing, so if you can help me out any I'd be extremely grateful.

Edit: Apologies for my US-centric typing, I did mean the eastern coast of the US. I'd usually clarify that but it was a bit late.