Tonight we had a fun and interesting evening; My friend Matt wanted to take us out to dinner as thanks for our taking care of his cat Ivan while he was away. In addition, there was an event at the Port Moody Station Museum, where his girlfriend Oana worked: a Murder Mystery dinner. The Port Moody Station Museum is interesting in and of itself — this was the endpoint of the Trans Canada Railroad and there are tons of interesting and evocative artifacts from the station, railway and area itself on display.
You may have attended a Murder Mystery Dinner Party or something like that. They were very much the rage for several years in the 80s; I remember attending one at my friends Rob and Laura where I turned out to be the murderer. This one was a lot more fun, because the dinner and ‘murder’ all took place aboard a restored 1920s railcar, the Venosta, which is now permanently parked in front of the Station/Museum. During our dinner and ‘train journey’, volunteer actors, playing the part of soldiers returning from the war, waitresses, other passengers and conductor, all enacted a whodunit, and we all tried to guess who the murderer was and filled out some papers at the end. My guess was nearly correct (it was the victim’s wife, presumed dead, who had come back to kill him partly for revenge and also because he was now a rich man, having made his fortune in war bonds, and she was still named in the will. Ah yes, the usual.) My only mistake was in who was the person his wife was masquerading as (not the waitress, although she was clearly wearing a platinum blonde wig!) The actors stayed in character for most of the evening, sitting amongst us, as the victim showed up at the beginning, inebriated, and then promptly disappeared, much to the mock horror of all those in attendance. Love letters, telegraphs and other clues were found on the traincar floor and the victim’s jacket (which he left behind when he was pushed out of the train). It made me think of the power one could have to experience history as if one was actually there, somewhat the way the US’s Colonial Williamsburg, or Plimoth Plantation or Canada’s Upper Canada Village create the illusion of transporting you to that era. In those cases, it’s the 1700s or 1800s. To transport someone to the 1940s would be both easier and harder — it’s closer to present day, but the differences between 1947 and 2005 are subtler. Also, there are plenty of people around who were living then, who could easily see when something was inaccurate or even just slightly off. Still, I wonder what it would be like for the Station Museum to one week a year pretend it was back in operation, circa 1947, complete with the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) employees and passengers…
Back in the US Today
Here’s something really amazing, and more than a little chilling:
Secretary of State Colin Powell’s former chief of staff has offered a remarkably blunt criticism of the administration he served, saying that foreign policy had been usurped by a “Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal,” and that President Bush has made the country more vulnerable, not less, to future crises.The comments came in a speech Wednesday by Lawrence Wilkerson, who worked for Mr. Powell at the State Department from 2001 to early 2005. Speaking to the New America Foundation, an independent public-policy institute in Washington, Mr. Wilkerson suggested that secrecy, arrogance and internal feuding had taken a heavy toll in the Bush administration, skewing its policies and undercutting its ability to handle crises.
“I would say that we have courted disaster, in Iraq, in North Korea, in Iran, generally with regard to domestic crises like Katrina, Rita — and I could go on back,” he said. “We haven’t done very well on anything like that in a long time.”
Mr. Wilkerson suggested that the dysfunction within the administration was so grave that “if something comes along that is truly serious, truly serious, something like a nuclear weapon going off in a major American city, or something like a major pandemic, you are going to see the ineptitude of this government in a way that will take you back to the Declaration of Independence.”
For a while at least, you can read the whole article, before the New York Times puts it on it’s pay-per-view ‘TimesSelect’ (which I hate). This latest revelation is nothing I hadn’t suspected all along, but now that people feel they can speak the truth without being vilified (like Richard Clarke) or worse (like Joseph Wilson, the husband of former CIA agent Valerie Plame), the words finally coming across the wires are suggesting to me that the ‘beginning of the end of the US as we knew it’ did in fact take place as Pam and I made our hasty exit. I hope it does not play out as Mr. Wilkerson, who was a retired Army colonel and former director of the Marine Corps War College foresees. Oh, and as for George W. Bush, Wilkerson said he was “not versed in international relations, and not too much interested in them, either.” Again, no surprises. I almost wish I could have stayed back in the 1940s.