Monday, October 31, 2011

How to speak South Scarberian.

I often tell my students, "Y'know, if I'd stayed back in my hometown to teach, I'd have missed out on so much good stuff." (Mind you, I probably would've missed out on hearing that a student of mine got led out of the school in cuffs for bringing a six-inch knife in the building — and, as far as I can deduce, to my classroom — but hey, life's funny sometimes.)

So, I bring you a bit of South Scarberian, circa Fall 2011. Please note that this may vary from area to area, and may only be particular to the part of southern Scarborough in which I work. No guarantees are made that this won't get you stabbed and/or shivved anywhere else, or even within the neighbourhood.*

extra (ĕk' strə)
adj. outrageous or out-of-the-ordinary, often somewhat derisively
Example: "Alice is being so extra today. She's even more annoying than usual."

snake (snāk)
adj. sneaky or underhanded
Example: "Teacher gave us a pop quiz yesterday; that was snake, yo."

greezy (grē' zē)
adj. sly or slick, in a potentially admirable way; cf. "greasy"
Example: "Did you see that move Bob pulled today in the basketball match? That was greezy, dawg."

Lexicographer's note:
Regrettably, my favourite piece of South Scarberian, "arms" (as to describe something which is seen as a slight, but not disrespectfully so) has no meaning anymore. Such is the fluidity of this particular dialect.
* The school at which I teach is actually pretty great. That's not to say it's devoid of, well, let's call them "characters."

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

On Populism.

pop·u·list (n.) \ˈpä-pyə-list\

1. a member of a political party claiming to represent the common people
2. a believer in the rights, wisdom, or virtues of the common people

Since the mid-1990s, so-called "populist" moments in North American politics have had one particular flavour: reactionary conservatism. The Reform Party in Canada, the Tea Party in the US and the Common Sense Revolution in Ontario were all, to some degree, populist — or, at the very least, a very vocal minority had their enthusiasm capitalized-upon by a political party willing to expand the sentiment to the wider electorate, for political gain. (See: Manning, Preston; Palin, Sarah; Harris, Douchefuck.)

Well, these days, there's a populist fog a-brewin', and it's the Occupy X movement. It's vague, but as Matt Taibbi suggests, that may not be such a bad thing at this juncture. To catch populist lightning in a bottle lately, you've had to be organized, fast and relentless... which pretty neatly describes today's neoconservative machines.

But this thing... it defies easy explanation, and that might serve it well, so long as they keep playing the media's game. The way to engender support is not to smash windows — I hope the protest movement has learned this by now, Black Bloc-types included — but to boil your key ideas down to a concise message which you can use as a lever to pry open the broader discourse. Remember "Yes We Can"? It was a little echo-y, but it got a black dude elected in the US of A, so maybe there's something to that tactic.

At any rate, it's going to be interesting to see how this all goes forward. I think the idea of 99%/1% is a great, short, punchy way to get the basic point across. The question is, can this rabble coalesce around some basic, tangible changes they want to see? I sure hope so.

Sunday, October 16, 2011


I'm disgusted that I'm writing this.

I really am.


I'm strongly considering ditching my land line and going with a cell phone.

(pause for gasps of shock and horror)

Look... these things don't seem to be going away, much as I would like them to. And, my landline bill is $32 a month, even if I don't make a single long-distance call — which I usually don't, because I use a phone card which gives me a way better rate anyway.

Plus, there's the text-messaging thing. A lot of people seem to be into it, and it's kinda like portable email, which would be pretty useful.


If you know me, and chances are you do, you know that the non-cell-phone thing is a big part of how I define myself. Perhaps it's misplaced angst, perhaps it's stubborn for stubbornness's sake. Maybe it's just idiotic. I'm not sure. I've always said that, "Oh, it's just a matter of time before I get one." Well, we may be rapidly approaching that time.

But... if I'm shelling out $32 a month for a landline, or $25 a month for an unlimited-local, unlimited-text, unlimited-data plan from Mobilicity, and I can get a free cell phone from a friend who found a fairly-recent Blackberry on the street and can (apparently) get it "broken" for five bucks at Pacific Mall so it'll work on any cell network... then what the hell am I doing giving Ma Bell all this extra money?

So... that's where I'm at.

And I hate it.

But, that's life sometimes.

Monday, October 03, 2011

OK, here's the plan.

Tuesday, 1:55pm
Finish teaching a room full of grade 9s. Hopefully the walls are still intact.

Someone else starts my grade 12s off on research for their project.

I'm in my car, hitting the road... specifically the 401 westbound, hopefully before the majority of the afternoon rush.

Crossing the Bluewater Bridge from Sarnia to Port Huron, and hoping the afternoon rush hour doesn't really affect the lineup too much.

Dropping my stuff off at a hotel on the outskirts of Detroit.

Sipping a beer at the Beer Hall in Comerica Park.

First pitch of Tigers-Yankees, ALDS Game 4... section 218, Mezzanine level.

The game ends, hopefully with a win for the good guys.

Wednesday, 12:30am-ish
Get all tucked into bed in the aforementioned hotel.

Wake up, shower, grab coffee and pastry.

Hit the road.

Arrive back in Toronto, fresh as a daisy.

Teach my period 2 grade 9s; my prep period is first that day.

This is gonna be NUTS.