Chaos Attraction

Dickens Faire 2019

2019-12-15, 8:16 a.m.

Note: this covers the events of 12/14/19.

I went to Dickens Faire today, by myself because I’m tired of asking people and they indicate interest and then they decide they don’t want to go after all. Bugger this. I didn’t even technically ask Dawn or Loretta this year other than saying I was planning on going today, and they were all “next year!” and I was thinking, “well, the reasons why you haven’t gone for the last few years will still probably exist next year, so....” but whatever.

Notable things I did today:

* I bought a gift for Dawn, a book ornament with a map of Oakland on it (she loves maps). I think I got her something from this booth last year too, but it wasn’t an ornament, so she can hang it wherever all year.

* I also got myself a fair pin that you can spin between the options of “Happy Christmas,” “Cheers,” “Bugger off” and “Bah humbug!” That’s classic.

* And a key made of hearts for a dollar. I considered buying a book on the history of Renaissance faires and then figured that (a) it’s $25 and (b) how likely am I to actually read through the whole thing instead of just chucking it in the tsundoku pile.

* I saw the play “Sherlock Holmes and the Giant Rat of Sumatra” (with sign language interpretation! I think she was the interpreter from the last Renfaire I went to), which is goofy fun in which Sherlock “plays himself” (and another character while in disguise) as he invites a bunch of guests to the Sumatra Hotel to find out who stole a diamond. The diamond turns up IN the giant rat on the mantle piece, which amused me. Other moments: (a) one guy wearing a conspicuous black wig rolls off the fainting couch, loses the wig, sticks it back on, and gets tons of applause, and then he looked all smug about it, (b) The lines: “He smells dead.” “That’s how servants smell!” (c) a moment where two characters are basically doing Weekend At Bernie’s with the dead guy, (d) the Holmes reveal mentioned above, and (e) Moriarty and his sword being all, “Why am I the only one without a pistol?” and someone else saying, “Poor planning?”

* I watched the Steam Man perambulate slowly about. I also overheard one guy in Professor Flockmocker’s saying “This is Nemo’s laboratory run amuck” and the professor himself waving around a bottle of laudanum and calling it “genius juice.”

* I saw a group of carolers singing about nothing but branches, to the tune of “12 Days of Christmas.” As in, “On the tenth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, ten branches, nine branches....” Why? Who knows?

* At some point I walked by a bar fight that I’m told was recreating something from Nicholas Nickelby, which I have not read.

* For a second time, I attended Lady Franklin’s Fashion Show at the Adventurers Club, in which she and Mrs. Beeton have rounded up various fairgoers for a contest. Memorable moments: (a) one lady working in the club saying, “We’ll get started in a minute, Mrs. Beeton is fixing pudding in the kitchen, or something.” (b) The Sheriff of Nottingham’s daughter being one of the contestants and being asked about Robin Hood, if he’s around, (c) a bribery attempt, (d) drowning a guy in fabric, (e) Meg March being in attendance looking for a publisher, (f) the winners getting handkerchiefs proclaiming them “London’s Most Fashionable,” and the runners up getting ones that say “Lady of Fashion.”

* After that I sat through an interview with Acton, Anne Bronte, in which she said things like “I would only describe our publisher as a humbuggery,” claims that Charlotte stole her idea about writing about being a governess, and that her brother caused her to lose her job as a governess. Bill Sikes walked through at some point and Anne gave him the stinkeye and said he was worse than Fagin (who he was mistaken for).

* I went to the Christmas Salon at the Adventurers Club as well, in which they read aloud from a play. I never got the name of the play, but it involved a rich countess who was once given the names of three lucky cards to win back her lost fortune, except she had to never play again and she wasn’t supposed to reveal the cards. Some guy who wants to woo the countess’s niece harasses her to get the information and she drops dead when asked, then haunts him to give him the answer, and then it’s the wrong answer... REVENGE FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE! At one point the bad guy muses, “Who was the victim, she or I?” and I muttered, “Her, definitely her, since she’s dead.”

* Ads I saw at the fair: “Rat Tart Soappe,” “Healing Cigarettes Guaranteed to Cure Asthma, Hay Fever, Sore Throat, Colds, Bronchitis, Ear Aches, Coughing, Sneezing, Hiccups. Ingredients: Camel Dung, Potato Skins, Prize Winning Horse Manure, Saw Dust and Shredded Asbestos.” and “Healing Cigarettes For Children” with a requisite photo of guess what, a sign explaining why hand spun yarn is so expensive (note: $60/labor at $15/hour), “Ambition Suppressant” because “A woman who wishes soon to wed Should not attempt to earn her own bread,” a sign saying “My cough should be getting better: I’ve been practicing for three weeks!” and “Cigars For Joy” that cure the same stuff.

* Things I saw at Professor Flockmocker’s: “Days Without An Accident Not Consecutive” is 1, a box of “Live Scorpians” (that really should have been wiggling), a sign with a guy who can’t figure out how to sit on a chair saying “You aren’t doing it wrong if no one knows what you are doing.”

* Other weirdness: (a) a basket full of broken violins, marked “Basket Cases As Marked.” One very busted one was $10, with “Assembly Required” written on it. I guess I should have bought one and turned it into a mosaic or something? (b) a shirt for the Honorary Member of the Old Boys Moaning and Groaning Society (if Dad was alive....) (c) Dickens Fair Character Cards that are drawings of who you see around (like the professor and the metal man).

It was all good fun. It rained off and on on the way home but I managed to not get my costume wet, and I went by Joann’s on the way home to get Baby Yoda making supplies and Christmas wrapping, so there’s that.

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