Curtsying to Norby

Late October was homecoming weekend at Ye Olde Alma Mater of Kristy and I. Being outside the state and busy with work/studies, obviously neither of us went.  I can’t speak for Kristy, but I never saw myself as a Homecoming type.  I still don’t.  For the most part, I am in contact with the people from college I want to be in contact (save for 2 or 3 that I haven’t heard from in longer than I’d like).  Some people I wonder about, and if I really wanted to know more I could set aside my Facebook, but…some books are better left on the shelf.

So seeing people isn’t really a draw, but I do miss the place.  I have a fixation with places that is a topic for a whole ‘nothing post.  In this case, the place is campus.  And in particular, I miss Norby.

If you’ve ever visited The College of William and Mary, you’ve probably met Norby.  He’s right out front of the famous Wren Building.  Norby, shorth for Norborne, “Lord Botetourt” Norborne Berkeley, 4th Baron Botetourt*.  He was Governor of Virginia and a member of the Board of Visitors of The College.  These days he’s posing on a pedestal between the Wren Building, The Brafferton and the President’s House.

Very early on in our time at The College, we developed a tradition of curtsying to the statue as we passed (generally on way to our evening walks through Colonial Williamsburg).  I think it was me who suggested the move first  but I can’t swear to that.  All I know is that months after we’d started this activity, I found a book on the history of The College in the local section of the bookstore which validated the habit.  Apparently, many, many moons ago, curtsying to Norby’s statue was required of freshmen co-eds (the guys bowed and doffed their freshmen-required beanies).  It was amusing to find we’d unknowingly revived an old tradition–and a little sad to now that beyond our small knot of friends, the tradition was dead.

The book wasn’t clear about the details of the old version of the curtsy, but ours was simple:  we’d come around Wren, up the sidewalk toward Norby’s back, then loop around to his front, line up (usually there were 4 of us) then execute our best, deepest curtsy, then we’d trot off down the sidewalk straight toward Confusion Corner and down DOG Street.  Then we’d give the same deep curtsy coming back.  I’m really surprised no one ever asked or commented.  Granted, it was usually evening (often after dark, or in the deep twilight), but it’s right in front of the President’s House and the offices in The Brafferton, to say nothing of the Wren Building and the Confusion Corner traffic.  You’d think we’d have gotten a comment at least.

I’ve held to it–even the few times I’ve returned to campus since graduating when passing Norb, I’ve paid the proper respects.  But for me, it’s been more than half a decade since I’ve set foot on campus.  It’s enough to make even the hoopla of Homecoming seem nostalgically attractive.

*Botetourt for the Virginia un-initiated, is pronounced Bah-teh-tot

Coffee with a Fellow Alum

Would we drink coffee with Jon Stewart?

Kristy: I’m really kind of shocked this one hasn’t come up before. I actually did a search before writing this, because although I couldn’t remember doing one, it seemed we must have. But if we have, I can’t find it.

The short answer is: Hell yes. How could I not? He’s that William and Mary alumni that gave all the rest of us hope that we might actually be cool some day. And not cool in the frat boy, business major kind of way, because those of us who weren’t that already had no desire to be. Cool in that smart, funny, people listen to me and love me kind of way. There are a lot of things I love about Mr. Stewart. He brings the funny and knows how to use humor to call attention to things that need it and to elevate the conversation. I love that he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously. These things would be enough to make me buy him a cup of coffee. But I’d also sit down with him for a cup because there are things I’d love to ask him: What’s the truth behind his time at W&M? He’s alluded several times to not being happy during that time, was it the general pressure cooker that is W&M or was there something else? None of my business, but that doesn’t matter at the Spacial Anomaly Coffee Bar and Refueling station. I’d love random gossip about what the people he’s worked with over the years are really like. I’d love to know his actual opinions on current events. And just in case he ever misses the ‘Burg, I’d bring him ginger cakes and maybe even a Cheese Shop sandwich.

Cammy:  Oh, hell yeah!  As Kristy said, how could I not?  We owe him coffee for giving us hope.  And it would be interesting to find out how he feels about being the bench mark for W&M students to aspire to (move over, TJ).  I’d like to get his stories of the most surprisingly funny interview-ees.  He’s nerd enough that he’s interviewed a lot more than just entertainment personalities, so which of those writers, politicians, historians, etc. really caught him off-guard with their ability to banter back?   I also need to apologize for hating his guts for the first 6 months he was doing The Daily Show (I was a fan back in the Craig Kilborn days and was pissed when Kilborn left.  I took it out on the new guy.  Until I realized the new guy was way funnier).

Happy Birthday William and Mary!

Today (okay February 8, it was today when I started this) marks the 318th anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the College of William and Mary.  Since both Cammy and I are alumni of said college, I thought we’d take a moment to talk about how awesome it is.  True, we’ve often joked that the school’s motto should be “Destroying the psyches of America’s best and brightest since 1693,” but we can’t help loving the old gal.  A few of her accomplishments:

–First University chartered in what is now the United States.  Suck it Harvard!  You were nothing but a Puritan seminary operating in a legal gray area.

–Has a life sized statue of Thomas Jefferson who is fun to dress up and pose for pictures with.  Not that we have done either.

–First honor code in the nation.  You can trust us.

–Oldest academic building in continuous use in the nation.

–The United States’ first school of international political economy.  Yeah… we’re totally party people.

–Survived two wars being fought literally on its grounds (though drunken soldiers from Pennsylvania burned parts of it down during the Civil War)

–Founded with pirate money!

–Alumni include Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Glenn Close, Linda Lavin, and Jon Stewart.  Also your bloggers.

–Bill Lawrence, creator of Scrubs is also an alumni.  I am told that whenever they show scenes of Turk and JD in college, said college is supposed to be William and Mary.  I can’t tell, but that’s what I’ve been told.

–How’s this for circularity?:  One of William and Mary’s early beloved Presidents was William Stith.  William Stith was the ancestor of Stith Thompson.  Stith Thompson founded the department in which I currently study.

–How many William and Mary students does it take to screw in a light bulb?  Three.  One to do it, two to crack under the pressure.

Happy birthday William and Mary!  You don’t look a day over 300!

Musings on Mascots

So The College of William and Mary (alma matter of the entire MTVMPB staff) announced it’s new mascot today.  On campus they had all sorts of fanfare.  For the rest of us they had a cheestastic video of the less-charismatic-than-my-third-toe President Taylor Revelry (Damn, I miss Timothy Sullivan).

Now for those of you unfamiliar with this whole thing, William and Mary has been, since I don’t know when, The Tribe.  I’m not sure what kind of tribe we are, though I like to imagine it’s a subtle reference to circuit parties.  More likely it’s a reference to our dubious honor of being one of the first institutions to educate Native Americans.  You know, after we kidnapped them, forced them to adopt European dress and beat them for speaking their own language.  NCAA reviewed the situation a couple years back and decided we could continue calling ourselves The Tribe, but we had to take the feathers off our logo.  (Note:  Feather=offensive.  Florida State Seminoles=tribute.)  Anyway, we haven’t had a visual representation of our mascot, so this mascot search has been to find something to complement, but not replace, the Tribe.

The winner:  The Griffin.

Now I don’t hate it.  (Considering “The Pugs” was one of the finalists, it could have been worse)  But I don’t love it.  Part of it is I don’t really like those giant plush suits they put college mascots in.  A friend who really digs them said they’re “cuddly”.  I don’t feel a mascot should be cuddly.  Also, not generally big on cuddly things.  Or cuddling a griffin–I’m a folklorist and can only think cuddling one of those would end badly.

What was I pulling for?  King and Queen.  Our namesakes:  William and Mary.  (Or Bill and the Bitch, if you prefer)  This would enable us to use real people instead of plush.  And put them in seventeenth century costumes (which we could switch up occasionally for special occasions).  Picture Mascot!Mary busting out some kind of ninja kick in her petticoat.  Awesome!  I liked this idea because it was different.  I played to what William and Mary is:  A college which is really old and full of people who are probably smarter than you.  (Most of them are smarter than me, even though I went there)  Unlike most of the country they know who William and Mary were.  And they’re going to undermine your confidence by reminding you that they are older and smarter than you.  Suck it!  And it’s an idea which is unapologetically different.  Like most William and Mary students (yes, we were that kid you stuffed in a locker, it’s why we’re having so much fun looking down on you now).

The Griffin just seems to me to be too much like all other college mascots.  Though Cammy made me feel better by pointing out it makes us look like a university filled with Harry Potter Mary Sues (we most likely are).  So I’ll live with it.  As mascots go, it could have been worse.  I have nothing but pity for the University of Alabama women’s gymnastics team who have to wear leotards while representing “The Crimson Tide.”  And my high school mascot was “The Clipper Ships.”  We could have saved that one by having someone wear a boat costume, but instead we had a pirate.  Ignoring the fact that the clipper ship came along long after the Golden Age of Piracy ended.  I’m sure there was at least one pirate on a clipper at some point.

My other alma matter, George Mason University used to have George Mason himself as our mascot.  He attended games in eighteenth century dress which no doubt showed off his calves.  Now we have a giant plushy named Gunson after Mason’s home.  Another lost opportunity giving way to lameness.

Regardless, I’ve got nothing but love for ya W&M.

Destroying the psyches of America’s best and brightest since 1693.  Go Tribe!