Friday, August 23, 2013

PBR and Oats: Our Interview With @Horse1863 (AKA Marty from KU)

As most of you know by now, Lawrence's live-Twitter reenactment of Quantrill's Massacre ( #QR1863 ) made a big social media splash this week, and one of its most unexpected stars turned out not to be an official participant voicing a juicy role like Jim Lane or Reverend Cordley or the Q-Man himself or Frank James or Bloody Bill Anderson (though Ric Averill knocked those latter three villains out of the park) but instead a renegade tweeter known as @Horse1863 . Yes, a tweeting horse.  Initially, some of those involved in the project thought that the horse might have been voiced by a prankster like the LC's own Chip.  But no. Unfortunately, we could not lay claim to this terrific, silly idea.

As it turned out, the mastermind behind the talking horse finally revealed herself during the post-Raid Twitter credits to be...Marty from KU [we're withholding her last name here so you crazy Civil War buffs and talking horse enthusiasts won't bombard her with Facebook friend requests and such].  Upon Marty's revelation, we soon discovered that we had friends in common, so of course we promptly set out to chat with her and get to the bottom of what makes a talking horse tick (and tweet).  Enjoy!

Richard:   As a tweeting horse called Horse1863, you sort of unexpectedly became one of the big stars of #QR1863 and even had some of the essential and official characters interacting with you during the heart of the Twitter-Raid.   How did you come up with the idea of being a sort of renegade tweeter in this event, why did you choose a horse, and why do you think it became so popular?

Marty:  I became a renegade tweeter to avoid writing my fall syllabus. It's been an incredibly effective strategy. Coming up with the idea of Horse1863 was very easy. Do other people not think about talking horses constantly? Is that not normal? Now I'm a little worried. When I first read about the Quantrill's Raid Live-Tweet, I kept wondering how Lawrence residents in 1863 could possibly be using Twitter. Was this a parallel universe where Twitter was invented before the telegraph? And if so, what else was different ? Were there talking/tweeting horses? I thought there was room for one. I was very pleased and surprised at Horse1863's popularity, but I can't account for it, unless I'm right that thinking about talking horses is a universal pastime.

Chip:  Some of those horse-tweets cracked my shit up!  I like the puns especially.  But there’s also some serious tweets along the way as well.  Tell us how you crafted your “character.“  Also, do you have a particular favorite tweet as Horse1863?

Marty:  I based Horse1863 on a brief anecdote in Katie Armitage's book, Survivors of Quantrill's Raid. Local drug store owner Brinton W. Woodward was "saved when one of the raiders became distracted by the escape of a fine horse as he was ready to shoot Woodward" (101). I gleaned a lot of information about Horse1863's character just from that passage. As a "fine" horse, he was probably a little pompous and self-satisfied, but he was also both clever and heroic too for timing his escape just right so he could save Woodward. My favorite Horse tweet is probably when he threatens the children, which is always a good time: "Some nasty little boys just threw stones at me! Sure wish they'd come closer to this gift horse's mouth. #iwillbiteachild #QR1863"

Richard:  Despite playing a mostly comic role, you obviously kept a close eye on the rather serious goings-on of #QR1863.  As a scholar yourself, how do you feel about the #QR1863 project?  What might it have added to an understanding of Lawrence’s darkest day?

Marty:  At first, I was pretty skeptical of the #QR1863 project. I didn't think Twitter, which is so easily hijacked by random pranksters like me, would be an effective medium for a serious discussion of a historical tragedy. But, as I said above, I based Horse1863 on actually historical events. There was a moment when I was doing research and setting up multiple Twitter accounts (I also tweeted as Brinton W. Woodward) when I realized, hey, I've been completely sucked into this and I'm actually learning a ton. I feel that the project encouraged people to research and reenact a lot of the individual stories that get forgotten in broader narratives of history, and that's a project I strongly support.

Chip:  Now that #QR1863 has mostly run its course, do you have any other hilarious local Twitter ideas that might entertain me?  Perhaps you could tweet in the voice of an adorable little pygmy goat, since a petition is currently circulating to make them legal as pets here in LFK?

Marty:  I'm really concerned about the proposed legislation to ban Lawrence's porch couch population. Maybe Twitter could be a way for our poor, sat-upon brethren to tell their own stories.

Richard:   I know that a lot of people in the local Twitter community are practically dying to meet a tweeting horse.   Do you plan a speaking tour or anything?  Or at least having a PBR with some of the illustrious PBR Book Club sometime soon?

Marty:  It's weird to have fans. I'm entirely at their service (provided there's beer).

Chip:  This question is for Horse1863:  What’s your favorite song and what’s your favorite movie? (and you have to incorporate a horse-pun into both of them).

@Horse1863: "I'm glad to finally be asked a question directly, Sir. I enjoy relaxing with romantic comedies, especially Sleepless in Steedattle and You've Got Mare. As far as my musical tastes are concerned, I enjoy the tunes of Stall and Oats."

Richard:  Are you a fan of humorous and parody and fake Twitter accounts in general?  What are some of your favorites?

 Marty:  @horse_ebooks is the perfect Twitter account: mystifying, hilarious, and occasionally profound. Recently I discovered @United Airlanes, which responds to customer complaints from people who don't read very closely. [we think that Twitter feed is now called something different and located here].  My all-time favorite Twitter account though, is probably the bizarre @bignuts4free. You should check him out. He doesn't really update anymore, but the archives are worth a read. 

Twitter profile pic of @Horse1863:

 Horse 1863


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