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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Keep it fun: Advice from a pre-Renaissance man

    Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat

UAs Society for Creative Anachronism faculty adviser Curt Booth, also known as the Honorable Lord Fergus DeBotha, attends his day job as an administrative secretary in the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering on Monday, Sept 13. Booths latest project for SCA is a moving archery target mechanism driven by a windshield wiper motor, for which the schematics are displayed on his computer screen.
    Gordon Bates
    Gordon Bates / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA’s Society for Creative Anachronism faculty adviser Curt Booth, also known as the Honorable Lord Fergus DeBotha, attends his day job as an administrative secretary in the College of Electrical and Computer Engineering on Monday, Sept 13. Booth’s latest project for SCA is a moving archery target mechanism driven by a windshield wiper motor, for which the schematics are displayed on his computer screen.

    Curt Booth is a man of the Middle Ages. Booth has been a member and an archer of the Society for Creative Anachronism for over 20 years and has been advising the UA club, the College of St. Felix, for the past decade. Society members revive aspects of the Middle Ages for the modern era. As an adviser and member, Booth introduces UA students to the society, its principles and member responsibilities, in addition to coordinating club events on and off campus. When he isn’t involved in society and club activities, Booth performs emcee duties for Pima County Parks and Recreation events and works as an administrative secretary in the Electrical and Computer Engineering department.

    The following comes from two interviews I conducted with Booth. The first was during one of the club’s fighter practices last month. When I met Booth for the second time this week, he showed me his schematic for his “”Whack-a-Knave”” machine, which is similar to a Whack-a-Mole machine but with knaves instead of moles. Then he pulled up the YouTube video of a similar machine in action. Once finished, the Whack-a-Knave will allow Booth and his fellow archers to practice their skills more effectively.

     

    On how he joined the Society for Creative Anachronism:

    I was kidnapped. (Laughs.) A buddy of mine wanted me to go to an event with him. He said we’re going to a camping event with a bunch of people. OK. I get my camping gear and head over to his house. And he says, “”OK, now we’re going to the fabric store,”” and I say, “”What?”” (Laughs.) “”Yeah, we’re going to the fabric store. We’re going to buy all this fabric and then you’re going to go over to my house and you’re going to spend the night at my house while all these people help me sew this material.””

    They made me three or four outfits, told me to bring some sweatpants. Next thing you know, I’m driving all night long. We’re supposed to get to Phoenix in two hours, but it ended up being like eight hours because he had a crappy truck. One thing led to another, and I got there about 2:30 in the morning. I woke up the next morning and there was fog everywhere. I looked around and I saw period-looking pavilions that are straight out of “”Robin Hood.”” Whoa. That’s basically when I fell in love.

     

     

    How Booth got hired to the UA:

    I was a student worker working in the grad college. Somebody came up to me and said “”We’ve got a guy who’s retiring and we need to play a practical joke on him.”” The guy’s name was Raffi Gruener (former director of the UA’s Technology Initiatives). … Basically he was a birdwatcher, so for his retirement they got him high-end bird watching glasses.

    So what they had me do was dress up as a giant chicken. When he was up there and he was looking through them, I come walking in the back of the room, going, “”Buuuaawwwk, buawk, buawk, buawk, buawk.”” … I’ve got blue jeans on, a Tweety Bird yellow shirt. I’ve got these yellow socks that are pulled up over my pant legs and walking around. I’ve got these wings that I made out of cardboard and this big chicken mask on my face. “”Buawck, buawck.”” Then I get over and I flap my arms and I went, “”Ra-ah-ah-aahh-fffiii!”” And the whole place fell apart. And I did the favor for the dean to do that right there. I had been married before, and I was getting a divorce, and I needed to get a job. That’s when I went to the dean’s office and said I need a job. They said, “”Well you did that for us, and we’ll do this for you.”” And that’s how I got hired at the U A. The ends justify the means. Do I worry about having any kind of pride or anything like that? No, shame is for the weak. … Yeah, I went in, interviewed and did all that stuff there, but I like the fact that I dressed up in a chicken outfit, and they knew what I would do for the job.

     

     

    Booth’s personal philosophy:

    You’ve got to keep it fun. I lost my mom when I was 13 and a couple other (family) members at the same time in the same accident. That’s when I realized that life is short, and you never know when you’re going to go. So if you don’t take advantage of where you’re at while you’re there, you’ve got no one to blame but yourself. I have very few regrets in life, and I like that. That’s one thing I’m very, very proud of.

    I think my aunt said it best. Well, she said two things to me that I’ll always remember: “”If you can’t say anything nice, come on over and sit next to me.”” And the second thing, and I think she was paraphrasing a comedian, I can’t remember who: “”I intend to go out of this life like I’m sliding into home plate and there’s the open grave. Got a beer bong hat on or something like that, a padded finger, and I’m just sliding in, and that’s how I want to go out.””

     

     

    His advice to club members:

    I sound like a bitter old man when I tell them this: Look, this is the time of your life. When you graduated high school, how many memories, how many things did you think of while you were walking around in that silly-looking gown with all these people and it was starting to sink in that you’ll never be around these people again? You’ll never see them again, all the laughs, all the joys, all the tears, everything that you had with these people — it’s going to be gone the next day. Did you, just a little bit, want to go back and relive it?

    What I put to the kids is, don’t end up in that situation. Live it then, so you get plenty of memories, enough to hold you over, so that when you do change in your life — and you will — you’ve got something to take with you, that’ll keep you going and something you can smile about.

    Not bad for an old redneck, is it? (Laughs.)

     

     

    On where Booth is from:

    The great and mighty Republic of Texas. Texas used to be a country unto itself; Texans have never forgotten this. It’s a 13-step program to get away from there. The first step is removing one’s own head from one’s own ass. I accomplished that and then came out here.

    I had speech therapy as a kid because I had (Booth changes his voice) the ol’ twang and everything like that right there. My speech therapist was from Chicago so I’ve got a Midwestern accent. … Let me put it to you this way. Do you recognize this voice right here?

    “”Bobby, don’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been. Now I’ve told you before, and I’ll tell you again, don’t do that inside my house.”” Do you recognize the voice?

     

    DW: Hank Hill.

    No. That’s my father. First time I heard “”King of the Hill”” I was in my condo and I was cooking dinner and everything. Then I heard that (Booth switches accent again) “”Bobby, don’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been.”” I ran around the corner and was like, “”Dad?””

    I’m not imitating Hank Hill, I’m imitating my father when I do that. That’s how he talks, inflection, everything. In fact, he even looks like him. It’s scary, except he usually has a mustache. Truth is stranger than fiction and a lot more fun.

     

    If you are involved or know someone involved in a creative endeavor, contact Steven Kwan at arts@wildcat.arizona.edu

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