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My Crush On Author Sarah Vowell

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Recently I was listening to Sarah Vowell’s brilliant new non-fiction book, Assassination Vacation, while driving. She said so many things that are funny and insightful, but I particularly perked up when I heard her say this: “I can never decide if Maryland is off-beat or off-putting.”

She went on to explain that the Maryland state song “Maryland, My Maryland!”contains references critical of Lincoln and the union and favorable to confederates. Oh, and she says the “despot” it refers to is Lincoln. And yet the song wasn’t adopted until the 1930s.

Perhaps it’s time to get rid of the song.

You can listen to an excerpt from the book where she talks about this issue here.

Meanwhile,here’s Vowell’s bio and some samples of her writing. Reading those, it won’t be hard to understand my crush on this woman. She’s funny, she’s eloquent, she’s fascinating, etc.

Oh and she played Violet in The Incredibles as well as doing amazing radio essays for This American Life.


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About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been doing special education work for about five years He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.
  • Scott,

    Sounds like Sarah Vowell is just a consonant pleasure. Thanks, man.

  • Baronius

    She’s also occasionally a guest on Conan O’Brien. And while I don’t agree with her politics, yeah, I understand the crush.

  • Victor, that was very funny.

    B., yeah, she rocks.

  • I was born a little too early to get guys having crushes on independent, talented, unusual women as they seem to do now. Grrrr.

  • So I shouldn’t tell you that I would have had a crush on Dorothy Parker had I been alive when she was alive?

  • Scott, I used to fancy Francine Prose, though in the end I wanted things to be more Poe-tic.

    Now I get my Wordsworth no matter what.

  • That doesn’t bother me somehow, Scott. Also now guys are getting serious crushes on independent actresses like women have gotten their male colleagues for years. Women have been getting serious crushes on all sorts of talented, unusual, independent-minded men while their female counterparts were just wierd and unlovable. I guess things have really changed.

  • Scott Butki

    I give Vowell a Christmas present with my latest media

  • I find Sarah Vowell creepy and off-putting.

    But you have to understand about Maryland and Lincoln. During the Civil War Lincoln instituted martial law in the state, arrested the state legislature without due process and held them prisoner for several weeks, stationed huge numbers of soldiers on their soil to keep them in line and generally abused their civil rights in pretty horrible ways all so that he could make sure that DC was protected. Some justified resentment lingers.


  • Scott Butki

    Can you elaborate on what you find creepy and off putting about her? Have you read her latest book? She goes into that info about Lincoln somewhat

  • Sarah Vowell’s creepiness comes from her fascination with graveyards and assassinations – among other things if you’ve listened to her previous book “The Partly Cloudy Patriot.”

    Her off-puttingness (I know it’s not a word, Mr. copy editor!) probably comes from her voice, which – like that of David Sedaris, her NPR alter-ego – is an acquired taste.

    Not that there’s anything wrong with that, I enjoy both vowell and sedaris.

  • Is David Sedaris related to Amy Sedaris?


  • Scott Butki

    Amy is David’s voice.

    Yeah, Sarah’s voice is an acquired taste but it ddid help her get the part of Violet on the Incredibles.

    I prefer her to Sedaris in that she seems to have genuine feelings and passions that I – for the most part – can relate to such as understanding history.
    Too much of Sedaris humor is just plain mean-spirited, which has its place but I don’t have to like it.

  • Scott Butki

    Let me try that again – that day quil is working wonders.

    IDavid Sedaris is Amy Sedaris’ brother.

  • Josephine

    Please verify. I once heard a female narrator on American Life, relate a story about their childhood and it included a rendition of the Oscar Mayer Weiner Song, sung in a perfect imitation of the bluesy Billie Holliday voice.
    Was this Sarah Vowell?
    If so, what was the date and title of that segment? It’s drivng me crazy locating this.

  • dvsjr

    I know its late to comment and all, but a few things. First, it was indeed tragic that Lincoln enacted extreme measures on Maryland. Sure, Maryland had a large slave holding population at that time. And its true a large part of the population were pro confederate. But is it fair to put the state that so closely borders Washington DC on martial law? Its not like there were spies roaming about with plots to assassina… oh wait. Never mind.

    Second, the voice Josephine is referring to is David Sedaris himself. He has a high pitched voice, very feminine with a lisp. I was sort of startled when I heard it, after having read and enjoyed his books thoroughly, but I quickly got used to it. Finding and purchasing or downloading the story is simple now, check out the itunes music store, or search for “This american life” from PBS which is where the original story aired on the radio. The audible website sells this american life episodes. (you can access audible through itunes in the itunes music store.) David Sedaris does sing just like Billy Holiday, he has included this talent in several of his audiobooks. Its a little weird, but must be killer at parties.

    Oh and I totally agree with Vowell’s politics. The partly cloudy patriot had parts that made me shout out loud. (driving in my car alone, of course, which makes for fun stares from strangers.)

  • Scott Butki

    Thanks for the comments!

  • I too have a big ol’ crush on Sarah Vowell. Have had it for years! In fact we got the documentary called Gigantic, about the band “They Might Be Giants” when my son was 3 (he’s 5 now and still totally obsessed with TMBG), and he still says: There’s mom’s girlfriend! when we see her being interviewed.

    I think there are some similarities between Sarah Vowell and David Sedaris, but mostly they both have a connection to “This American Life” and they both have distinctive voices. But I see Sarah as a truely studious nerd, someone who is a reader and a thinker, who has a set of beliefs and isn’t ashamed to share them. David seems as if he’s more just hilariously funny because he his outlook is very different from most people. She just seems more ‘bookish’ and he seems more ‘tv-ish’ to me. Either way, enjoy your crush!

  • Scott Butki

    It took almost five years but i finally got an interview with Vowell, which I just published.