Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Apparently I'm in the minority here.

...which is a weird thing for a white, straight, English-speaking male to be saying, I fully realize.

I've been to a lot of baseball games. I don't know if it's more or less than the average person attending a professional game -- on the one hand, I'm a big fan; on the other, I spent a good deal of my life nowhere close to a stadium. But what I do know is when we're at important parts of games; it's a full count and the bases are loaded and it's a tie game and the world is ending or something.

Consequently, I don't need the scoreboard to tell me to MAKE SOME NOISE!!!!. Firstly, I'm not the scream-and-yell type, unless something actually deserves it ("You suck, Jeter!"). But, more importantly, I know when to make damn noise. Putting this up on the scoreboard in the fourth inning of a game with a 2-1 count with the bases empty and one out and our team up by three does not make me want to make the aforementioned sounds.

To SkyDome's credit (and yes, I still refuse to refer to it by its corporate name), they've done a hell of a lot less of this lately. It's a much better atmosphere in there these days, in comparison to the days where every. single. foul. ball. was accompanied by the sound of glass breaking, for example. Comerica Park in Detroit, home of my boys the Tigers? Eh, not so much.

So, I wrote to the Tigers telling them as such.

First off: lifelong Tiger fan, attend several games per year, if I ever got a tattoo it'd be an Olde English D.

I live in Toronto these days and attend many games at SkyDome, and in recent years they've really scaled back the scoreboard/PA sound effects, urgings to "Make Some Noise!" and the like. It used to be really obnoxious... but they've done a great job, and fans legitimately know when to cheer.So when I attend games at Comerica and are constantly subjected to these requests, I find it really detracts from my enjoyment of the game. Perhaps some fans enjoy hearing the [Harry Belafonte] "Day-O" clip, but I believe I heard it quite enough, thanks.

That said, I'll still go to Tiger games, don't you worry. It's a bit of a drive from Toronto, but I'll make it.

Go Tigers,

To my mild surprise, they wrote back. To my mild dismay, they ain't changin'.


Thank you for your email and interest in the Detroit Tigers.

We are so happy to hear of your dedication to the team.

We will consider your request for the scoreboard. We do get a lot of compliments that fans like the atmosphere when the scoreboard prompts them to cheer. We understand we can't please every fan, every moment, but we strive to do our best.

Thank you for your suggestions.


Really? People write into the Tigers saying, "Ooooh, we love it when you tell us mindless idiot drones when to cheer! It makes us feel amazing! Wheeeee!" I find that somewhat surprising if it's true, and somewhat dubious overall. But hey, maybe I'm truly in the minority here.

That being said, Tigers/Jays at the Dome next week, four games. You know where to find me.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Tomorrow ain't gonna be a fun one.

I'm the union rep for the teachers in our school -- it's a job with a lot of glory, a lot of prestige, and gives me a hefty pay hike.

(It also allows me to make a lot of shit up, such as the three things listed at the end of the above sentence.)

Tomorrow is a step in the staffing process where people board-wide, if they tentatively don't have a job for September, get to find out if they got placed into a position -- thereby bumping-out the least-senior teacher on staff with similar qualifications. This process, perhaps unsurprisingly (and unglamorously), is called "bumping." (No grinding, though.)

There are a lot of people on my staff that are feeling pretty edgy about Monday. And even though I'm extremetly likely to stay where I am, I'm feeling edgy too -- if someone gets The Letter, I have to be in on that meeting. And that's a very, very shitty room to be in.

I got bumped in my first year of teaching, but things eventually shook through and I got recalled. Which was great, of course -- I've only ever been at the one school, and frankly I don't see any reason to leave. We've got a good thing going.

I can clearly recall being bumped, and sitting in the staff room looking at another teacher who was a bit of a dingbat but who had so much seniority there's no way in hell she would've been bumped. I remember thinking, "I work my ass off, and she's kinda crazy. How come I have to search for a new job, and she doesn't? This is unfair."

It may have felt pretty unfair. But the point is that this entire system, which is based on seniority, is equally unfair to everyone. If it wasn't, you'd have situations where people, who might be doing a great job, get left out to dry because they weren't coaching the principal's favourite sport. Or maybe they spoke up about problems they had with admin a little too much, and got the boot. Perhaps the principal didn't like the way the teacher parted their hair.

But that's why you have unions: to make sure the rules are fair for everyone. And yes, that means that occasionally you'll get a bad teacher protected the same as a good one; it's a standard criticism of unions, and frankly it's one that I share to a point. The problem is, everyone thinks they're an expert in education because they were once a student... but just because you've been a patient in a hospital, that doesn't mean you're an expert on how to run one (or how to perform a liver transplant).

So yeah, Monday's not going to be one of those fun days at the ol' schoolhouse, that's for sure. There may be some tears in these meetings. It's happened before.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Things kids say.

As you well know, kids say some pretty strange stuff from time to time. I mean, take a look at any toddler growing up -- they pick words up from everywhere (so you'd better watch what you say around them). So, naturally, when they're teenagers, not only do they pick up new words, but they have the mental capacity to invent completely new ones -- which they do with alarming frequency.

Being a teacher surrounded by kids from every imaginable background, I get to hear quite a few of these novel words. A good number of them are somewhat vulgar... but hey, take a look at the word vulgar itself: it's the Latin word for common, as in, it was the commonly-spoken language of regular people (as opposed to the hoity-toity language used by the upper classes).

I'd say a good percentage of the new words I hear come from, or are inspired by, all sorts of Patois from all kinds of Caribbean countries, chiefly Jamaica (although Guyana and Trinidad have a pretty rich vocabulary too). When you mix all these kids together, they pick up on each other's slang, and come up with new combinations all the time. Definitions are fluid, spelling is approximate, and (perhaps most importantly) hearing your teacher say them is apparently hilarious.

(Hey, I do what I can.)

So, here are a few examples of what I've heard recently. This is by no means an exhaustive list, and six months from now these words might just disappear. But if you're looking to speak fluent South Scarberian in mid-2013, you'd better take some notes.

gursh (adj.) — gursh
Definition: extremely ugly -- "like roadkill," apparently
Example: "Did you see Alice the other day? Oh my god, she's so gursh."

gwala (n.) — gwa′ la
Definition: money
Example: "A new iPhone? That's a lotta gwala."

wha gwan (interj.) — wha gwan
Definition: an informal greeting upon seeing someone, cf. "What's going on?"
Example: "Hey Bob, wha gwan?"

cyatty (n.) — kya′ tee
Definition: a woman who is probably a little on the large side, wears brightly-coloured or loudly-printed tights or tight pants, and has a weave and/or extensions
Example: "Charlene is such a cyatty."

N.B. a year or two ago, this used to define a woman who might fit some of the physical descriptions listed above, but who would very specifically chase men who they couldn't or shouldn't be chasing, e.g. men who are already in relationships.

Cyatty Tuesday (n.)
Definition: the five-dollar Tuesday movies shown at the theatres in Scarborough Town Centre mall, ostensibly because they attract cyatties
Example: "Dave went to see Ironman 3 on Cyatty Tuesday."

I'm gonna miss these kids over the summer, I really am.*
* Not too much, though.