“What do you think of when you hear the word colonial?”
That was the question posed to me and others by a Black interpreter, a title that the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation has chosen to use over the more popular “historical reenactor.” It’s also one I had asked myself in the months leading up to the one-week vacation my spouse and I would be taking in Williamsburg, Virginia. To be perfectly honest, my answer before visiting didn’t amount to very much at all. Leftist internet circles and the odd Key & Peele sketch had helped me arrive at the conclusion that the Founding Fathers were a problematic bunch, but having eschewed American History in high school my familiarity with them was limited to binge-listening to Hamilton.
In spite of, or maybe due to, the level of my ignorance, I was excited to take a trip back to the 18th century in what I would later learn was the first permanent English colony in the Americas. While the City of Williamsburg owns the public streets that the restored Colonial-era buildings can be found on, buying tickets allowed the two of us to enter several of them and join walking tours. (Lifehack: teachers receive a 25% discount, so either marry one or finish a years-long education degree to save a little money!)
The interior of the Governor’s Palace, with portraits of Queen Charlotte and King George III bordering the doorway.
Posted in America, Culture War Report, government, history, morality, race
Tagged America, Colonial Williamsburg, culture war report, freedom, history, interpreter, justice, slavery, that the future may learn from the past, USA, Virginia
The other night my roommate convinced me to join her at our regional library’s “Book Smack” event. At first I was concerned that it would be a tedious affair. After all, why would you want to talk about a book when you could just go ahead and read it? However, the event page promised that the librarians would “let their hair down, take off their glasses and speed review their favourite books” and that it would be “fast, furious and fun” night, so with the image of wild librarians in mind, I decided to go along.
When we arrived at the venue, I wasn’t overly surprised to see that the audience was primarily older women. The featured librarians were also all women, although only two of them sported silver-white hair.
Before the event started the MC set some ground rules. Each librarian would have a certain amount of time to convince the audience to read/watch/listen to a few of their favourite books/movies/audiobooks/CDs. In the first round each librarian was given five minutes, then three, then only one, to review their books. During the intermission audience members would then vote for the librarian who they thought would would win the book smack. Then, for the second round, librarians were only given three minutes, then one minute, then only thirty seconds to defend their choices.
I’m not entirely sure what made this event as fantastic as it was. Maybe it was just the fun of seeing librarians mutter words like “full frontal” and “masturbation warning”. Perhaps it was the appeal of seeing a group of much older women giddy with laugher all around me. Most likely, it was the reminder of just how amazing books are, and how they can bring us together by inviting us into new worlds or allowing us to wrestle with our own struggles. Continue reading
Posted in Culture War Report, lgbt, literature, media
Tagged Aziz Ansari, book review, book smack, Cece Bell, culture war report, David R. Boyd, Dear Zachary, Dumplin, El Deafo, Eric Klinenberg, I.N.J. Culbard, Julie Murphy, Lawrence Hill, librarian, library, Making a Murderer, Modern Romance, R.W. Chambers, Raziel Ried, reading, The Book of Negroes, The Illegal, The King in Yellow, The Optimistic Environmentalist, The Reason You Walk: A Memoir, Wab Kinew, When Everything Feels Like the Movies
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.
Posted in bizarreness, Culture War Report, games, video games
Tagged activity, challenge, clue, culture war report, escape, fun, game, Haunted Hospital, lock, math, Mystery Room, puzzle, real-life room escape, room, thinking, Toronto, unlock, video games
In a pretty dramatic change of scene from my last field report on “Extreme Midget Wrestling”, last night I attended a production of the musical “Wicked.” Now as much as we here at the CWR try to maintain general neutrality in the culture war, the simple fact of the matter is that we do have bias, and as far as yours truly is concerned, the theater is hostile territory.
The musical was being done at the Smith Center- a performance hall in downtown Vegas, which isn’t really “down” anywhere because it’s about dead center in the middle of the city. Incidentally, the “inner city” is actually situated on the outskirts of town- but that’s all beside the point. The lobby of this place is fancy, as you might expect. Marble floors, ornate chandeliers, gigantic plaques with the names of wealthy supporters etched into them. And all packed to the brim with women in painful high-heels and impractical dresses, and men in expensive slacks and lopsided orange tans and flashy white smiles that you can only buy from the dental surgeons that other dental surgeons go to. These are the white people black comedians make fun of. The five-minute-warning bell goes off and panic sets in, as everyone hobbles towards the doors. I move along with the crowd and taking my seat up in the top-tier of the balcony. Clearly someone was a little trigger-happy with the bell, ‘cuz it’s easily half an hour before the theater goes dark. I try to make use of the time to get better acquainted with the rest of the audience.
Down below me is a guy wearing a polo shirt and carrying a pair of binoculars around his neck- he knew what he was in for. To my left are two women- no lie- comparing jewelry to determine whose diamonds are “shinier”. The program isn’t so much of a program as it is a magazine with a few pages on the musical nestled down on page 32. The rest of it is full of ads for such upcoming attractions as Cabaret Jazz (sung by white people), “A State of the Union Conversation: An Evening with Frank Rich and Franz Lebowitz”, and “Dr. John & The Blind Boys of Alabama Performing ‘Spirituals to Funk'” (Dr. John is also white). In fact, the only non-white guy I can find in there is a construction worker in an ad for some building project, tucked away between pictures suggesting your life might not be complete without Lexus cars and MJ diamonds.
The musical does at long last start, and- coming from a guy who hates musicals- this was really good. There’s not a whole else to say about it- if you want a summary, go to Wikipedia- if you want to see it, sneak in- because tickets to these things are ****ing expensive.
This I do have to comment on, though:
- The flying monkeys always have been, and always will be, terrifying. I don’t care who you are or how tough you think you are- the flying monkeys are the stuff nightmares are made of.
- If you can see the musical- go for it- just don’t see it with this crowd. They’re giggling like idiots at every single malapropism.
Glinda: “something something Confusifying.”
They didn’t laugh so hard at “Thrillifying”, so I thought they had gotten it out of their system by the second hour in, but then along comes “Scandalacious” and they’re roaring with laughter, so no- **** these guys.
- Can anyone tell me what’s up with that one munchkin in a dress? He’s not playing a female character or anything- he’s just wearing a dress. I ain’t judging or anything- I just couldn’t figure it out.
- To whoever made all those “wicked good” puns as we were walking out, I will find you and slap you in the mouth. You have been warned.
There’s not a whole lot else to be said. I had a good time, but these people- they were in heaven.
Posted in advertisement, bizarreness, Culture War Report, literature, money
Tagged culture war report, humor, malapropism, money, musical, Smith Center, theater, upper class, white people, Wicked