Yes For Scotland

Did you know that in a few days, Scotland will vote on becoming an independent nation?

On the 18th of this month, Scots will be flocking to polling stations to vote either “yes” or “no” on becoming a self-governed country, joining in the movement with many areas of Europe, currently campaigning for self-determination (though barring the Catalonians, Scotland’s probably the closest any have yet gotten).

And may that day yet come…

So is this a good thing? We here at CWR say yes. Continue reading

Mystery Room: A Culture War Report

I’m actually being half-serious when I say that today’s post very well could have been “Re: Re: Do Western Christians Want Martyrs?”. It’s an extremely relevant topic, and I hope that you’ll take the time to read what Kat had to say, as well as Gordon’s response. No, instead what I have for all of you is another one of my rarely shared new life experiences, this time being the hour and a half I spent on Wednesday night trying to escape a series of dark locked rooms.

Now apparently this sort of thing is, and has been, all the rage according to a friend of mine, but the very concept was extremely foreign to me. Wikipedia’s entry for it is titled “Real-life Room Escape”, and describes it as being:

“a type of puzzle simulation games in which you are locked in a room with other participants and have to use elements of the room to solve a series of puzzles, find clues, and escape the room within a set time limit.”

It also mentions the fact that their existence stems directly from online video games, which is honestly the coolest thing. Whereas most video games are based on real life activities [stealing cars, shooting ethnically ambiguous terrorists,
running your own farm, etc.], this is an example of an activity that mimicks a video game. That is, and realize I don’t use this word lightly, neat. It’s super neat.

I should probably get to what my time with it was actually like, though. To help prime your expectations a little bit, the course my friends and I went through was titled “Haunted Hospital”.

Zombie nurses not included.

Continue reading

Re: Do Western Christians Want Martyrs? – Yes, They Do

Yesterday, CWR’s own Kat posted “Do Western Christians Want Martyrs?”, a short post questioning the motivations behind the recent outpouring of Western sympathy for the plight of Iraqi and Syrian Christians, currently being massacred by the forces of the terrorist group formerly known as ISIS. That post prompted the following comment: “[it] seems a bit sick to turn this into a critique of Christians or Christianity… what is it in you that wants to make this a critique of Christian hypocrisy?

Now I don’t think it was Kat’s intention to downplay the genocide in progress in the Levant and it certainly isn’t mine either. So why critique Christians?

Because Christians are guilty.

No, they’re not pulling the triggers or wielding the swords, but the actions of Western Christians have contributed not only to the slaughter of Iraqi and Chaldean believers, but the persecution, suffering, and misery of the church  all across the world. And even as Western Christians switch their profiles to the Arabic letter “nun” for “Nazarene”, the self same people continue to be part of the problem.

Let me show you a picture:

These are the first of the first. The oft-forgotten Christians of Palestine. The descendents of the very first followers of Christ. These people are literally Nazarenes.

Where is their defense? Continue reading

Do Western Christians Want Martyrs?

This isn’t going to be a long post because I’m on the road again, but it is something that I wanted to quickly say.

A couple weeks ago I told you that I was reading up on ISIS, in particular the rumours I had seen circulating on Facebook. You’ve probably read these rumours yourself, or seen people changing their Facebook profile to this picture as an act of solidarity.

Some of these rumours seemed fishy to me. The one I found particularly disturbing was the account that Muslim terrorists were decapitating children. While trying to fact-check this claim I came across some photos of a decapitated child and was so sickened and angry that I gave up trying to find the truth behind these rumours. Luckily someone else has done so for me. Continue reading

Fixing Ghost Movies

A while back, we had a discussion on everything wrong with our attempts to make exorcism movies. Good ones, anyways. That done, I figured we might try to keep the ball rolling and talk today about how to repair our stories of ghosts and haunted houses.

Now as a disclaimer, I’m coming into all this with some bias. While I’ve never had anything particularly against these kinds of movies, ghost and haunting stories have always been my least favorite kind of horror. Heavily reliant on jump scares, rather than psychological horror, they’ve always struck me as being not all that much different than an amusement park ride. That’s all just to say that I’m not what you’d call an expert by any means, but I think  we can all agree on some ground rules here.

Let’s get started.

Drop the Victorian Crap

It’s not every ghost story that’ll include junk from this period in time- just most of ‘em. If you see the ghost, 9 times out of 10, it’s some woman in ragged-but-unmistakable Victorian garb. This is actually one of the arguments skeptics use to discredit most paranormal claims- we’ve had so many people die since the 1800s that the fact that most every “sighting” is of a specter in turn-of-the-century clothing just shows how deeply ingrained this trope is into our psyche.

Of course, that doesn’t stop the film industry from showing nothing but that.


Granted, in the movie’s defense it looks like it actually is set in the 1800s, so the whole Victorian schtick is at least explained- that still doesn’t make any of it less tiresome.

And it’s not just the ghosts- it’s everything.  The settings, the props- old mirrors, dolls, mysterious antique boxes, little red balls that’ll inevitably roll down the stairs seemingly of their own accord. The moment the audience sees ‘em there’s a collective internal groan of “here we go again”.

Right back at ya, Tina…

It’s a question of realism- who even has this kind of stuff anymore? 30 or so years ago, yeah, I could see someone inheriting some old turn-o’-the-century junk, but these days it just feels out of place. Horror can’t be horror unless the threat feels real, and the classic “you’ve inherited a haunted mansion” story is becoming harder and harder to buy.

We don’t exactly have a ton of these things lying around either…

Don’t get me wrong- I understand why people choose these settings. You can’t exactly do a convincing ghost story in a cramped apartment in the middle of the city, and as much as Japan tries to cash in on technology-horror (see One Missed Call or The Ring), it’s still a really tough sell.

There’s gotta be some other options, though. Haunted farm. Ghost town.  Heck, even some new housing development could probably be scary if you added the right twist. I’ve even seen a submarine make for a pretty decent haunting-story. All in we have got to stop relying on these old crutches if we want to make something worth watching. Continue reading

Giving Money [Minus the Ice Bucket]

I’d say there’s no better time than right now to discuss what we do with our money in light of the hundreds upon thousands of Ice Bucket Challenge videos that have been taking up most of the internet the past few days [FYI, Emily Blunt's is the best]. Just yesterday my youngest brother posted one to Facebook, so it’s gotten just about as close to home as it possibly can.

Now there’s been a lot of discussion about how this appears to be just the latest trend, which probably has a lot to do with the sheer number of celebrities who are getting in on this. What can’t be argued with, though, is the fact that this challenge has resulted in over $50 million being donated for ALS, which is roughly 80% the of what the organization raised last year. That’s big, that’s worth applauding. I’m going to end this paragraph on that note.

What else it is, though, is fun. It’s fun watching people like Bill Gates and Nick Offerman get soaked in frigid water and calling out their peers. It’s fun when our peers do it to us, and when we in turn choose to douse ourselves in glacial H2O. That makes it easier to give, I think, there’s this pervasive lightheartedness about it that makes us more inclined to reach into our wallets and give howevermany dollars towards ending Lou Gehrig’s Disease [an ailment I only very recently connected to these shenanigans]. Giving gets infinitely harder when there’s none of that fun involved.

Here’s my favourite scene from a pretty bad 2004 Jackie Chan movie [no offence to Steve Coogan, but we weren't watching it for him]:

Continue reading

Ms. Marvel, #7: A Comic Book Review

msmarvel7If I want to be honest with all of you, which I do, the fact is that comic book characters don’t change all that much. That’s a gross overgeneralization, so let me backtrack a little: comics don’t change quickly. Sure, between 2010-2011 Spider-Man had this whole “no one dies” thing that strongly affected the way he behaved in situations for comics to come, but it took like three issues. We’re just past the half-dozen mark with this comic, and Kamala’s already learning things that are going to stick with her for years [yeah, this title's not going anywhere] to come.

When we last left our plucky New Jerseyite she was facing off against the mother [or father] of all alligators alongside a short, hairy Canadian who also happens to have metal blades sticking out from his hands. Whereas the last issue revolved pretty heavily around her gushing over one of her idols, this one focuses more on the dichotomy between the two [newly-powered Inhuman and world-weary mutant] and what they can learn from one another.

wolverinesnotfatTo be more accurate, what Kamala Khan can learn from James “Logan” Howlett. Though it’s not like she doesn’t help him out at all.

Now I could give you all a blow-by-blow of what they do in these twenty-some pages [fight a giant crocodilian beast, obviously], but I think what’s far more important is the near encyclopedia of knowledge that Wolverine imparts. G. Willow Wilson can write teenage girls, but she tackles the voice of Everyone’s Favourite Hirsute Eviscerator™ just as well. Continue reading