Back to school; Keith Armstrong vs. Alchemy

It‚??s a beautiful morning. The sky is clear and the sun is preparing to beat some serious heat into Prague, though at the moment it is a little chilly. While indulging in a corrosive breakfast of nicotine and caffeine out on the balcony, I watched scores of Czech kids clad in their freshly pressed back-to-school clothes, hauling their sharp and shiny back-to-school gear and virgin notebooks in their crisp and clean back-to-school bags.

Ha-ha, suckers, I thought, dragging contentedly on an L&M blue.

Man, am I ever glad that part of my life is over. School is something I would never do over again. Well, that‚??s not entirely true. I would do university over and would take English lit instead of civil engineering. I‚??m glad I did one year of English after getting my engineering degree; I re-discovered the joys of having hot classmates, and the stuff I learned in English was far more practical, not to mention enjoyable, than the knowledge I acquired (and swiftly jettisoned out of even my subconscious) in engineering. For instance, while I can draw on Faulkner for inspiration and enlightenment, I don‚??t see myself ever needing to put the Fellenius Method of Slope Stability Analysis to use.

I disliked Dr. Fellenius as a person. The man used to (and probably still does) throw chalk at inattentive students ‚?? third-year, i.e. senior, university students. But, to his credit, he never actually hit anybody, and I believe he had excellent aim. In spite of my opinion about his personality, he was (and probably still is) one hell of a teacher. No engineering prof made me work so hard. It certainly wasn‚??t out of love for soil stability, but because the man and his exams were so goddamn intense.

Another thing that sucked about civil engineering were my classmates. Most of them were dicks. There were only three that I got on with ‚?? an alcoholic pothead I had known in elementary school, and a couple of cute petite Lebanese girls. The four of us would get stoned before doing laboratory classes and trip on all the equipment and laugh a lot, jotting down figures in shifts.

Ok, so engineering had its moments. But, I am soooooo glad that is no longer part of my life.

Stepping into the present, I got a wake-up call this morning from Newcastle poet Keith Armstrong. He and fellow Newcastle poet Kevin Cadwallender read at Alchemy last night. I missed out because of work, which is a pity, because I missed out on Keith heckling a time-limit abuser by yelling out, ‚?úThis isn‚??t poetry, it‚??s a fucking speech!‚?Ě (well, that‚??s what Keith told me ‚?? eyewitnesses can feel free to verify or correct this by posting a comment)

Harsh, maybe, but Keith was probably voicing what everybody else in the room (except for the speaker) was thinking. I‚??ve never been able to fathom why people think that other people want to listen to them spew prose in a monotone for more than five minutes. Steven Wright is the only person who should be allowed to do this. I‚??ve seen so many excellent open mics marred by self-indulgent ‚?úartistes‚?Ě who take the spotlight to hurl a bag of words at the audience, and of course we here in Prague are far to polite to tell them their time‚??s up (actually, I‚??ve done this a few times as MC, and have hurt a couple of crybabies‚?? feelings by doing so. When I asked one of them why she stopped coming to Alchemy, she told me, ‚?úI know who my audience is.‚?Ě Whatever that‚??s supposed to mean, good fucking riddance, I thought).

Anyway, Keith and Kevin are reading at the Globe at 6 pm, then at Shakespeare & Sons‚?? Krymska location at 8 (I assume). Seeing as I don‚??t have school tomorrow, I believe I‚??ll join them on their tour (as an audience member ‚?? though I wouldn‚??t say no to dusting off a couple of pieces from the Drift days).

Sep 6, 08:03 (Filed under: Personal, People )

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