Friday, May 22, 2015

The Last Booth Memorial Post

Earlier this week Heather Barrett, who is a producer with CBC in Newfoundland, did a story about how she was a proud alumni of Booth Memorial. The school is closing and this was her way of saying goodbye. I swear to God, it feels like virtually every family member and friend I have either tagged the story to me, retweeted it or did something to make sure I noticed the story was out there.

Now why would they do that? Well, I may have, from time to time to time, written about my....dislike of my time at Booth Memorial. It is possible, while at the Duke having a beverage that I may have regaled a story or two about why I disliked the school and what I might do to the building should I possess the means, opportunity and a plane ticket to a non-extradition treaty country.

So yes, this was poking me, waving a red cape or whatever else to try and get a reaction out of me.

Funny thing though. I found I couldn't get myself to care overly much. The rant wasn't coming forth. I mean, I had something half-assed brewing where I could have listed something good about my time there, like how I fell in love for the first time at Booth (true), but that much of our initial bonding was over how much we hated the place and couldn't wait to leave (also true).

Now, I thought it might have to do with me not being in a very creative mood on the writing front these last few months. But then my friend Andrew posted something up on Facebook and I had an Eureka moment.

Booth is not the only high school in St. John's closing shortly. Booth's "sister" high school, Bishops, is also closing. Andrew is a Bishops alumni and posted this question: "So. People are all in about Bishops closing. I'm not affected. Is that bad of me?"

Most people said "nope". I added "You graduated 27 years ago. If you were affected I'd be worried."

Boom. There you go.

I graduated Booth 27 years ago. It was a miserable three years, make no mistake. But it was 27-years-ago. I've discovered that as I've gotten older I try and save my hate for truly worthy causes. When I was a younger man, I was indiscriminate in unleashing my hatred around to any number of targets (friends from my time at the muse are nodding their heads reading this and going "Oh hell yes"). But I pick and choose these days. I fine-tune my hate. And really, you have to be pretty spectacularly wretch for me to sustained a three decade level of loathing. Booth just doesn't do it anymore.

I honestly had forgotten that Booth was closing this year. I probably won't think about the place again until I drive by it when transiting from downtown to the Avalon Mall the next time I'm in St. John's. Hell, it's been 10 years, at least, since I gave it my customary middle finger as I drove by.

I'd say good riddance, but I think the more honest answer is, who cares.

I will end on this note. When I was rereading some of my old posts as prep for this post, I hit the section where the principal of Booth back around 2003-2004, tried to get me fired because I wrote a particularly strongly worded column for The Express saying the sooner the school closed the better off humanity would be. I thought it was a bit edgy at the time because of the language I used but really, I was a dude writing a column that said I hated high school. I was soooooo edgy.

At the time I laughed off his attempts to get me fired. It was hysterical that someone tried to get a columnist fired for saying he really hated high school. Also, when you're a columnist you want to be loved or hated, but not ignored. And the efforts that Booth's principal, staff, and students went though to try and make my life difficult after that column ran was mostly pretty amusing.

Ten years or so have given me a slightly different perspective. Imagine, for a moment, that my editor and publisher were more....wussy. Imagine if they had actually listened to this principal and fired me. Over a column saying I hated high school. What kind of dick tries to get someone fired and really, deeply screw up someone's life - because it's not as if newspaper jobs were easy to find even then - over a column? It would have caused me significant economic havoc. Getting another reporter job after getting fired would have been very hard.

That's actually annoying me more right now than my misery from decades ago. Maybe I was a bit of an arsehole for writing it, but it takes an extra special kind of arsehole to try and get someone fired for writing it. Maybe there really is something about that building...

Last Five
1. Magic (live) - Coldplay
2. Arthur's Theme - Rumer*
3. I blame you - Melissa McClelland
4. Under the influence - Elle King
5. All our tomorrows - Ron Sexsmith

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Geek OD

I think I might, possibly, finally have overdosed on geek culture last Wednesday.

It's kind of shocking it never happened before, to be honest. I've been a geek since I was seven; I'm now 45. You would have thought it would have happened at some point sooner. Maybe Tim Burton's first Batman back in the 80s, or when the Avengers came out in 2012. But nope, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. I had a moment at the end of the day, when I was jittery, feeling really weird and had the thought "you know, maybe I ought to take a break. Or at least cut back a bit."

It probably was building for awhile. This has been a pretty geeky year already. TV-wise I'm watching Agents of SHIELD, Agent Carter, The Flash, iZombie, Daredevil and Constantine. I was watching Gotham, but gave up on that hot mess of a show. There was the months of build up leading to Avengers: Age of Ultron. When the gushing reviews of Mad Max: Fury Road starting coming in, that got me happy too (If I could see only three movies this year, it would be Avengers, Mad Max and Star Wars).

I nearly broke earlier the year when Amazon cut off shipping to most remote locations, but magically exempted Iqaluit. Cutting off Iqaluit would have been bad. Others depend on it for food or diapers. I depend on it for graphic novels. So that was stressful. Then there's my escalating Lego habit, which peaked at buying the SHIELD helicarrier....
She is very pretty.

So yeah, this was building for awhile. And there was certainly geek news on Wednesday...the trailer for the new Supergirl TV show, the news of a New Mutants movie...what ultimately broke me was New York Comic Con (NYCC).

NYCC broke a lot of people on Wednesday, and if you need to know why, well, here are a couple of stories. Tickets for the October comic con went on sale on Wednesday. I'd decided months ago that I wanted to go. I've been there twice before - once in 2008, the other time in 2012. They were both fantastic experiences.

But during those years, it was relatively easy to get a pass. In 2008 I actually won a VIP pass through an online contest. In 2012, I bought a four day pass, then a few weeks later they put VIP passes on sale, and you could upgrade. So I called, and was able to get an upgrade from a very polite lady. It still took another 24 hours or so after they went on sale to sell out.

In the last three years, NYCC has gone batshit crazy. For those of you lucky enough to catch Mad Max: Fury Road this weekend, imagine one of those road races  and vehicular carnage taking place online, on a website to get tickets. Death, murder and mayhem were happening on that website.

I knew it was going to be ugly. I was further crippled by living in Nunavut. To call out internet up here third world is frankly insulting to some third world countries. To make matters worse, our internet service provider, Xplornet, has had its collective head up its ass since February. They're switching satellites and services. Which is fine, but they've done it in such a horrific way that I've actually had to complain to the CRTC (Try download speeds that often top out at 0.40 Mps). I've been waiting since the end of March to get a new dish installed and switch to their new service. I doubt it will happen until sometime in June.

So yes, not the best way to try and attack a website to get tickets, especially when half the geeks in the world would be trying at the same time. It's why I enlisted one of my best friends, and my mother-in-law, to try and register as well, from Kingston and Mount Pearl.

I warned them it was going to be bad. They thought I was being melodramatic. If anything, I was underestimating how bad it was going to get. NYCC's servers melted down before tickets went on sale and it got worse from there. I was following on Twitter and chatting with my accomplices on Facebook. I don't think I've read so much concentrated profanity in a short period of time.

My friend Dups, who has a bit of experience with the internet, what with him being CEO of his own web-based company for several years, called it one of the stupidest, worst designed things he'd ever seen. On Twitter, people were losing their minds, as they would get the chance to buy a ticket, only for the site to time-out. Or crash. Or get error messages (a story about it here).

It was geek carnage, my friends. Geeks are friendly folks, unless you do something to fuck up the thing they want. Then there are few things more savage and vicious on the planet. NYCC's twitter stream and Facebook page featured some of the most condensed hate I've seen in a good, long time. And maybe that's silly to many people. And perhaps it should be. But I've been to these cons. They are a blast. It's worth fighting for. And I understand people's disappointment. And in geek fashion, they lash out. Also not helping was scalpers putting tickets on eBay and Stubhub while the NYCC registration carnage was still happening.

So what happened? After 40 minutes of stress, several crash outs Dups managed to land the big fish for me...a 4-day pass at NYCC. I nearly landed a 4-day VIP pass, but the system timed out on me before the purchase could go through, and then the passes sold out.

But I'm going, which is the important thing. A lot aren't. So I'm not complaining. Well, I am. NYCC needs to get their act together. That's two years in a row they were unprepared for the onslaught (here's their response to the mess. And then they had idiot things like demanding you fill out a survey before you could buy the tickets. I was in a such a hurry to try and fill it out before it crashed again I'm pretty sure I'm a 14-year-old girl who likes anime. I'm not the only one. So it was an annoying survey that collected information that was completely useless.

Anyway, I think maybe over the next few months I might want to step back from the geekery a bit. I'm still excited to be going back to New York, and in the weeks leading up to it I'm sure I'll be annoyingly geeky. But maybe between now and Labour Day weekend a short break is in order. A geek cleanse.

It'll be good for the sanity. And probably my long-term health prospects. Cathy's been a saint through my recent geek binge, but I'm sure saints have their limits...

Last Five
1. Love at the end of the world - Sam Roberts
2. The Irish Rover - The Pogues
3. Givin 'em what they love - Janelle Monae*
4. Soul of a man - Beck
5. Velvet snow - Kings of Leon