William Matheson (nova_one) wrote,
William Matheson

Sloan Sloan Sloan

So here I am at SMU. Woooo, I’m a SMUdent again for the night. Things have changed. What is this Word 2007? It’s really different. I’m not yet accustomed to Vista (though this is an XP workstation) or its derivative apps with their fancy ribbons and stuff. On my computer I still use Word 2002 and have no plans to upgrade. As Paul Lutus said, no one wants to throw away software that works.

Yeah, good thing I was here in January to refresh my account and stuff, otherwise I’d be locked out.

.docx?? What is this? And $1.50 for a 355ml can of Coke? Heck, outside our apartment buildings in Japan a 500ml can was ¥120, and on campus it was only ¥110. Everything is just so inflationary. There’s this buddy of mine from auld times at SMU that I saw at the Sloan show, and he was extolling the virtues of his Masters program in Library and Information Science. If I were to embark on such a venture, it would just run me back a cool $15,502 (base price, last year's figures).

Fifteen grand?! For *two* years of school?! What the hell is the world coming to?!

As my KM-friend said the other night, “40 is the new 20.” Hear, hear. Speaking of which, tonight I was accused of pushing 30 for the first time. I was sitting at a table in the back corner of the Grawood, kind of hoping I could hold onto the space for S., and possibly M. and his friends as well. But a bunch of froshers from SMU who’d come to see Sloan asked me if they could sit there more than an hour before the formerly mentioned folks arrived. I pretty much had to give it up, though they did maintain for a while the idea that they’d leave when “my friends arrived.” Anyway, they were cool guys. The one who talked to me the most was all of 19. Geez, when I was 19 I couldn’t see past the end of my nose. This guy might be doing OK, but he thought I was ancient. (I guess it’s time to shave my beard.)

I mean, it wouldn’t be bad being old if that came with a job, house, and car, but that just isn’t the case these days. Also working against me is the fact that some part of me still wants to be a polymath. My uncle’s told me, in no uncertain terms, that that won’t work. I think he’s right. In August, when my summer math and science courses are completed, I’ll have to make some tough decisions.

* * *

I don’t know how I got onto that track. Youth angst, I suppose.

I had my voice lesson with C. early, and that was good – it just feels gratifying to have a modicum of talent at something. Of course, talent is only a fraction of the final product, and I only hope to have the self-discipline to stick with this along with the chemistry, physics, and calculus that will populate this spring and summer. I have a song to sing now, and a bunch of things to warm up with too.

One thing that she mentioned sticks in my mind – she was talking about how some people have certain tics that can look ridiculous (at best) or even actually denigrate the performance. You have to be really careful with how you physically prevent yourself, for both aesthetic and technical reasons. I’m glad she’s there to point these things out to me, because I’m sure I would never notice them on my own. It’s kind of like when I was a kid and I would do things like repeating the ends of my sentences under my breath, smacking while I ate, or making weird grunts during the quiet times in math class. I never would have stopped if people hadn’t told / nagged me about them repeatedly over the years. It took me a long time to learn to be properly self-conscious about those sorts of things. Now that I no longer possess the conceit that I am perfect (I blame myself and my skewed view of my former religion for that), I’m much more open than I used to be. I mean, it would still hurt to be told that I’m an inept piece of shit, but at least I would be open to hearing your reasons for such a declaration.

OK, 2:30. Only three and a half hours to go!

So after the lesson I walked across town to Dalhousie. My first stop was the university bookstore, where I bought the textbooks for my April and May classes along with a few other odds and ends. (I wanted to get a binder too, but all they had were huge two-inch+ jobbies when I wanted something smaller.) I saved $25 on my chemistry textbook by picking up a “damaged” copy – it had a slight tear in its cover. Now, really, I don’t know how MR. ROBERT A. NALEPA can justify charging $126 for a book (Changes In Matter) that’s so obviously self-published. It’s like he put a bunch of chemistry notes together and sent them to cafepress.com or something. It isn’t even in color! Give me a break. Am I going to give him the hardest time I possibly can this term? You better believe it. I will not know the meaning of the word “nice.”

I’ve been sitting stunned for ten minutes because I don’t know how to top or further embellish that sentiment. Probably I’ll end up taking the course and deciding that he’s a nice guy after all. But look at this blurb:

He is the author of a number of Chemistry textbooks including the textbook used for the University Prep Chemistry course.

It’s a glorified course pack! Fine then, I’m an “author” of “a number of” essays and short stories, including a story published in Changelings. Frag! Everyone’s a goshdarned “author” these days!

[May 4th Update: I've since changed my opinion on this almost completely - the textbook, while not being extraordinarily fancy, does what it needs to do admirably well. Hardly anything in it is wasted. Moreover, it represents a great deal of personal effort on the part of its author. Considering how much time I've spent with my nose in the darned thing, it's hard to call it overpriced.]

OK, I’ve really got to set this hammer down and move on. Sloan, right?

I went into the Grawood around 8:00. I showed my driver’s license, but the bouncer asked me for my Dal ID as well. Uh…

“Do you go to SMU? Can I see your SMU ID?”

So I pass it to him, and am grateful that he doesn’t turn it over and see the long-expired validation sticker on the back that all but says that I haven’t been enrolled there since 2007. He compares the pictures, I’m allowed a drinking bracelet, and in I go. I had a beard, the SMU ID did, the driver’s license didn’t. That always throws them! </maniacal laughter>

Opening for Sloan (and providing “commercial breaks” when the band took breaks) was their lame “radio station,” MRCH 108.8. Just now I’m realizing that MRCH means “merchandise.” Sorry, Sloan, you lost twenty points. I guess it worked in a sense because I bought a CD. But all they needed to say is, “Sloan CDs, ten bucks!” I was going to get Between the Bridges at some point anyway, and why would I pay record store prices?

This “DJ” also orchestrated a 50-50 draw, which was probably a scam – I wonder if the charity he drummed up even exists. Like, seriously, Sloan, if you want to have an MC, that is fine. But why make him pretend to be something he’s not? My friend S. saw him twirling his microphone clad in his shiny gold shirt and exclaimed that he was a tool. Later he twirled two microphones, which I suppose made him twice as cool, but you know what the rule is about multiplying by zero.

Anyway, for all most of the audience (myself included until now) knew, MRCH was just somebody associated with the Grawood. The only tip-off was when he asked people to text requests to him using a 416 area code. Also, there’s no station in Halifax broadcasting at 108.8 – actually, no station anywhere, as most FM dials only go up to 107.9, and most commercial stations end in odd tenths of a frequency, like .1, .3, .5, .7, or .9. If I hadn’t shared those two pitchers with S. I would have figured it out.

The thing is, though, this guy is being used in lieu of a (second) opening act. Dave Marsh came on at 9:30, but the doors opened at 7:00. Sloan didn’t get on until nearly 11:00. If they’d gone on fifteen minutes earlier, I’d have been able to catch the last bus home, and I wouldn’t be spending the night in this SMU computer lab. Just sayin’. Sloan, find another band, not some guy pretending to be a broadcast DJ.

OK, now let’s talk about Sloan themselves. They opened with “Pen Pals” and “Losing California,” which happened to be S.’ two favourite songs, so she felt they were off to a good start. They played nearly half of Parallel Play, which S. says is normal band behaviour, since it’s their latest album. I’m contrary to this idea – I feel that bands should play some of their best songs, some of their rarities, and only slightly upsample their latest record. They only played two or three songs that I hadn’t heard before, which came as a shock to me, since pre-Never Hear the End of It, all I know are the singles. (By the way, NHTEOI is an awesome album. It’s a rambling 76-minute masterpiece and one of my all-time favourites. That said, it’s not exactly loaded with singles.)

It was a lot of fun to rock out to those old singles. Some of the new ones were cool too, but if S. and the other patrons weren’t feeling them, they weren’t half as much fun. It’s the same with anything, I guess. But seeing how much they seemed to have to push Parallel Play, combined with the general lameness of MRCH, made me feel that they’ve kind of… <cough>sold out</cough>. It was kind of sad.

* * *

Hungry, I set off for Spring Garden Road. As usual, I go into the McDonald’s to use the restroom (and I hear Big Bird singing about the letter V – the fact that it is nearly one in the morning only adds to its charm), but go to the Subway to eat. I inhale a footlong BMT and subsequently set off for SMU.

The nights are getting warmer. The youngsters are milling about outside of their apartment complexes now. But I have no such place to go. But, counting my blessings, I do have someplace warm and internet-connected. I’ll spend the next few hours of my evening with Asian students chatting with their friends back home, late-night crammers, and online poker addicts.

Now it’s just past four and I am alone. Maybe I’ll plug in my headphones and catch up on Lost. Then home, a few precious hours of sleep, and then I’ll be doing this all over again!

5:25am: It didn’t stay quiet for that long. Just a few minutes ago, people started streaming in. Most are wearing pyjamas - they must be coming from the dorms to do some groupwork or something. And now there’s a whole load of people in here!
Tags: books, bookstore, changes in matter, chemistry, concerts, dal, dalhousie, dave marsh, grawood, lost, mrch, nalepa, robert nalepa, sesame street, sloan, smu, textbooks, tv
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