I have always been fascinated by carnival rides. It amazes me that average, ordinary people eagerly trade in the serenity of the ground for the chance to be tossed through the air like vegetables in a food processor. It amazes me that at some time in history someone thought that people would enjoy this, and that person invented what must have been the first of these terrifying machines. For me, it is precisely the thrill and excitement of having survived the ride that keeps me coming back for more.
My first experience with a carnival ride was a Ferris wheel at a local fair. Looking at that looming monstrosity spinning the life out of its sardine-caged occupants, I was dumbstruck. It was huge, smoky, noisy and not a little intimidating. Ever since that initial impression became fossilized in my imagination many years ago, these rides have reminded me of mythical beasts, amazing dinosaurs carrying off their screaming passengers like sacrificial virgins. Even the droning sound of their engines brings to mind the great roar of a fire-breathing dragon with smoke spewing from its exhaust-pipe nostrils.
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