In my early 20s, my father and I traveled from Michigan to the west for a combo train/bus ride. We landed in Spokane, WA, and rode a train to Bozeman, Montana. Along the way, we made a stop in Missoula and took a spin on the merry-go-round with both of us being on horses on the outside of the ride.
As we spun around, he would occasionally reach up and grab a white, plastic ring from a dispenser shaped like a dragon's mouth. That was fairly entertaining and I tried it a couple of times; the dispenser was just high enough and offset from the ride to require a good sense of timing and a good stretch to get the ring.
At some point, my father sensed that the ride was coming to an end and said "go for the brass ring!" I was a bit confused; the brass ring? What did he mean?
After one or two more turns, I could see him going for the dispenser again but this time, there wasn't a white ring in the dragon's mouth but rather something darker. As I watched from behind, he reached up and snagged the darker, brownish ring and let out a laugh. He shook it all about and sported a big, Cheshire grin on his face.
"Go for the brass ring!" has become my mantra as a result; I thought it when I moved to Vienna after grad school instead of moving to California, when I eventually moved to California after living and working in Vienna, when I took a job with Yahoo, and when I moved to SOMA.