Anthology of Answers II: The Answering


Diane Huang

Columnist Riley Wheaton answers suggestions from the suggestion box for his second installment of “Anthology of Answers”.

You asked, we answered… Then you asked again!

This week we’re taking a break from the regularly scheduled column to do the second of three anthologies answering suggestions left to us in the box outside the Deanery. These questions are, once again, on a wide range of topics from hats to cultural appropriation. All of these topics were suggested by you. Without further ado, enjoy The Anthology of Answers 2: The Answering…


Foreign Language/Use of language etc.

Why does SPA require that students take a foreign language? Is it because most colleges look very unfavorably on students who don’t take foreign language? Is it because we love our foreign language teachers and really don’t want them to leave? Is it because the SPA administration is sadistic and wants to break our spirit so they can control our mindless zombie brains? These may actually all be true but I think there’s at least one more reason we’re required to take a foreign language in our time at SPA.

Learning a foreign language changes the brain. The pursuit increases ability with language overall, so if you want to be a good writer (can’t imagine when that’d ever be a relevant skill) learning a language is a good way to go. Learning another language also increases memory, cognitive ability, and creativity so if you’re looking to do… anything, learning another language is a very good way to go. Language homework can be boring (otherwise it wouldn’t qualify as homework) but it also pays off in the long run.

Here’s the scoop. I will be walking around with a pouch full of cherry lifesavers for the next week. If you want one (or maybe two depending on how creative you are) do the following:”

— Columnist Riley Wheaton


Beautiful red hat. What a hat.

This is clearly a potentially award winning piece of slam poetry. Or perhaps it’s a new six word motto for the United States (a prestigious category). Or perhaps this beautiful suggestion means something else.

Here’s the scoop. I will be walking around with a pouch full of cherry lifesavers for the next week. If you want one (or maybe two depending on how creative you are) do the following:

1. Wear a red hat in my presence.
2. Explain to me why you are wearing a red hat (explanations like but not identical to: “it’s national awareness week for the color red” or “because I’m a rebel and grey hats are for robots”). “Because I want a lifesaver” will not be a valid answer and will not earn you any candy.
3. Take a #RedHat selfie with me to certify for all concerned that there is no candy fraud going on.
4. Accept the red lifesaver of glory.

What a delightful form of torture?!”

— Columnist Riley Wheaton

People museums (with $)

Now a couple thoughts jump into my head when I read this suggestion. It could be a museum full of exhibits on great people (Mahatma Gandhi, Barack Obama, Kanye West (romantically adjacent to the Kim Kardashian exhibit), etc.) but this thought lacks the sweet sweet money that comprises the second part of the suggestion. Alternatively, it could be a museum in which all of the manikins in the dioramas are living breathing people who are chasing after money on fishing poles. What a delightful form of torture?! Finally, it could be a museum with, instead of the aforementioned dioramas, living breathing people telling stories. It would be a model similar to the “human library” program being put in motion around the world as a new way to learn and explore… And you’d have to pay to get in… Or there’d be people who’d talk about money. Or it could just be called “The People Musem (with $)”


Never impose your definition of what it means to be Jewish on Jews.”

— Columnist Riley Wheaton

Appropriation of the High Holy Days (such as Yom Kippur)

I’ve gone to Passover meals from time to time ever since I was little. One of my old friends is jewish and I’ve gone with him to temple and talked with him about what it means to be Jewish. However, I won’t be using that knowledge to host my own seder this year (or ever). Non Jews sometimes host seders in the pursuit of “educating ourselves about Jewish culture” or, for Christians, “learning more about the life of Christ” (many believe that the famous Last Supper was a Passover meal). These goals are noble but hosting your own seders is not the right way to pursue them. When non Jews host seders they take upon themselves the power of definition, they define what it means to be Jewish and spread that definition to others.

The problem here is that Jews should be the ones to define what it means to be Jewish and hosting a seder of your own takes some of that power away. So it’s great to mark the High Holy Days and maybe have some conversations about them, but never impose your definition of what it means to be Jewish on Jews. Leave them that privilege and trust that they’ll be understanding, patient, and empathetic toward curious gentiles.

If you’re interested in further twists and turns within this question that I don’t have time to explore, The Atlantic wrote a fascinating article on this subject.

Jeb! An American Disappointment is a full parody of Hamilton, the Broadway show.
Alex Cohen
Jeb! An American Disappointment is a full musical parody written by 90 people of the Broadway show Hamilton.

Wanna Go?

Name a time and place face to face. (-Aaron Burr)

WHICH REMINDS ME! I stumbled upon (stumble creds to Caroline Montague on facebook) what is perhaps the most remarkable piece of fanfiction ever written. “Jeb! An American Disappointment.” (#PleaseClap) Every song from the musical Hamilton brilliantly and coherently rewritten and recast to reflect the 2016 presidential campaign.

My favorite song? The alternate Sanders Refuted at the end of the script. “This Congress does not speak for me!” (classic Sanders).


We’re adding a new branch of The Observatory this week to address a flaw in the suggestion system. A Google folder entitled “Decryption Vault” has been made available to the public at the link This folder is full of suggestions we couldn’t decipher. If you have an idea what one of these suggestions means (or if you wrote it), email us at [email protected]. If a suggestion lands in the Decryption Vault it’s not a judgement on the suggester, it’s because we’re just not very good at deciphering handwriting.

Heads up, my second to last column will be entitled “Anthology 3: The Mic Drop” in which I will answer every suggestion I’ve not yet gotten to this year, so if you have any thoughts to add, do it. Just DO IT.

Finally, I have lots to say and not very much time left AT SPA BEFORE I GO TO COLLEGE in which to say them, so we’re bumping up to publishing once a week. Look for the Observatory online here, in the bluesheet on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, and on the homepage calendar where we’ve laid out each column topic for the remainder of the year.

Next week: How to ask a girl (or anyone) to a dance, with guest co-author Mary Grant.

Stay tuned…