Chaos Attraction

Mouse-Con and Sarah Vowell

2015-12-07, 8:53 p.m.

Okay, there’s still some things I did last month that were cool that I haven’t gotten around to mentioning here.

In mid-November, I attended Mouse-Con, the first NorCal Disney fan convention (apparently). I talked both Mom and Jackie into also driving over for the experience, and happily, they both got along. I’ll admit it was a small starting on, and I warned them of such, but I think they were still all “It’s small, I don’t think I’d go back.” But hey, they’re just beginning!

They had two lecture rooms, a very crowded shopping room (I restrained myself), a mini-museum room, and a book signing room for whatever Disney luminaries/authors they had on hand. I didn’t end up going to too many lectures, but I did attend one on random Disney facts and another on behind the scenes at the Haunted Mansion.

The best part of it all was the costume contest, because people have some freaking awesome costumes. The winner was Ariel, with a giant shell on wheels to hold her up. Also notable was a Buzz Lightyear (one of the judges), three Boba Fetts, a Princess Leia/Snow White mashup costume with Wookiiees sewn to her dress as dwarves, several excellent Belles and a Rapunzel who put my own version of that costume to shame, a lovely Anna and some tiny Elsas, an impressive Aladdin who could belt the tunes as well, a giant Jack Skellington, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, a Lilo (winner in the kids category), a mom and baby dressed as Sully and Mike, a Jessie.... I’m pretty sure they had to have these made already before the convention, because wow, they were well done.

It kind of made me wish I’d worn a costume-- I’ve got a couple that could have qualified and at least one nobody else was doing. Maybe next year?

Also in November, I went to a Q&A/booksigning with Sarah Vowell, who was touring for her new book, “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.” I got mine signed pretty quickly--that was a lot easier than seeing David Sedaris since she is not too chatty. (Kind of a relief actually, given how my conversations with the man have gone.) I took some notes, so here you go. (I went on a Sarah Vowell reading binge around this time, but more on my going nutterpants about history later.)

* She’s a writer, not a historian, and doesn’t pretend otherwise. Her research is contained in narrative. She’s bringing people along for the ride, showing what she discovered.
* Her nephew Owen sometimes stands in for the reader. “There’s something in the subject of whale butchery...” She loves the whole topic, but Owen was really disturbed at visiting the whaling museum.
* Does the humor of this ever hit you over the head? “I am constantly maimed.” Humor is what happens--something happens and she comments on it. “Let’s just be honest about what’s going on here!”
* Someone asked Lafayette to kiss a souvenir glove with his face on it. He didn’t really want to do that.
* Sarah on President Garfield’s wife: “She’s just sitting there rocking herself to death, knitting.”
* Carl Reiner said that writing is keeping people alive in your head. Good one.
* She quotes the president of the Nixon Museum as “trying to make people fall back in love with Nixon. He was pretty good at it.”
* Presidential libraries are supposed to tell stories from the president’s POV--not an objective view of history.
* She mentioned that while visiting Jefferson Davis’s house, the volunteer was just happy to talk about the house decor. (Really, what else would you say, I guess.)
* “I can go home and say whatever the hell I want about it.”
* “Empathy is very educational.”

* She notes that the Hawaiian missionaries were cut off from their sponsors and had to earn a living on the islands, which led to sugar cane farming and white people taking over.
* Idealistic motives tend to ruin the most lives.
* “There’s a bright side to historical amnesia.” --at least in the United States, we’re not killing people for stuff that happened 800 years ago like in Yugoslavia. (What? Also...not yet? I guess?)
* “Now I’m really self-absorbed and I only care about what I care about.”
* Regarding Radio On (the one book of hers I skipped because I already lived through my mom’s Rush Limbaugh phase), she said she never got over hearing all the dittohead crap on the radio. “I never knew how much bile there could be in the world.” And look how long ago that was.... She heard one kid call in to complain about his paper route being stolen and what should he do--whoever he called advised him to shoot the kid that took it!
* “Much of history is gutwrenching.”
* The very first question during the Q&A was about Hamilton! Does she think anyone else in history should get a musical? After Hamilton, “anything’s game.” It’s a musical about the secretary of the treasury, after has its own logic.
* “The horrible thing about being a reporter is you have to talk to strangers.”
* “If you’re ever gonna write a Garfield chapter, you’re gonna have to pump up some flava.” --regarding the Oneida section of Assassination Vacation, which has plenty of it.
* She paraphrased the Al Gore chapter in Partly Cloudy, saying that he pointed out that if you’re not supported and insulated, it leads to violence. She talked a lot about that, actually.
* On a guy asking a question saying he’s not used to microphones: “It’s so natural to have this big stick in your face!”
* In history, when a country does something it looks like everyone in the country was in favor of doing it--maybe someday people will realize that we weren’t all down with invading Iraq.
* Regarding her lack of use of technology to write--”I can do my job in a blackout.”
* Finally, she said this was the 19th night of her book tour and she came here so she could be part of a community that was thinking and writing about history, since her friends don’t do that. Awwww.

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