Monday, September 28, 2009

Once a Year, I...

...go to this remote cabin in Wakefield, Quebec.

It wasn't always remote. Once upon a time it was constructed around forty years ago in a nice clearing, along with a storage shed. It was a working cabin, with a one-room living area, kitchen (with wood-burning stove), dining room and bedroom. There was also a back room and a side porch, as well as a bathroom.

Nowadays it's pretty much the same, except it's dirty, messy, and dilapidated.

The land area as well as the cabin was bought by my grandfather in 1980. My father and his brothers and friends would go up there now and then in pickup trucks and hang out, raise the flag (of which country I forget) and play guitar. They'd sit at the picknik table, play horseshoe, start a fire and cook hotdogs. 

Then came the nineties and the children. We'd go up there all the time as kids, my dad, my uncles and my cousins, and we'd run around and eat chips and paint in the porch. I remember the painting I did, it's in my room somewhere. Dated about 1994 or 5, I'd have to go up and look. I even spent the night there with my dad once. I was young. The original photos of the first-born male cousins/dads was taken by my aunt up there. 

Winter trip, 2004. The fisheye/cartoon effect was created with the software that came with my dad's new digital camera at the time..
L-R: Myself, Nelson, Malaika.

We'd do this mostly in the late summer and fall, sometimes winter. Each time we'd bring up gas-powered lawn mowers and cut down the weeds and long grass and make it easy to walk around. We'd spend whole days up there. It was fun. I learnt how to jump off this burnt tree trunk and to a roll once I hit the ground. Snakes lived in that trunk.

One time in the winter we even had a snowmobile. I didn't ride on it much though. I was too afraid of the noise.

Nowadays, our trips to the cabin have been routinely once a year, usually in the fall or early winter. No one else comes, just my father, half-siblings and myself. We don't stay longer than about an hour. And usually we go there, drop things off, then go on a walk up to the pond nearby. We come back and leave, nothing else to it.

Winter trip in 2008. Note that the table was brought out because the picnic table is...virtually rotted away into the ground (can you find it in this photo?)

The shed, I didn't even mention the shed. It was left to abandonment a long time ago and now sits on a slant. When I was young it was a shed that leaned to one side and had a large portion of wall burnt off. It was full of garbage and old stuff. Now it's in even worse condition, and the roof as been removed - by my father and I - for his backyard shed. So it's really just four half-destroyed walls. Most of the window frames have been broken out. I'm surprised it's still standing.

The shed, 2008
Today marked the day that we came up for this year. It was only me and my father this time, no one else. Last year it was myself, my dad, his friend Ian, and my half-brother Nelson. I've got some photos on Flickr of the cabin back then. But it shows that how many people come to this place and how often is in steady decline. We don't do anything anymore. It just sits and rots. The last maintainence that was done on it was maybe five years ago, and that was just a window. We don't come up there to do anything other than maybe start a fire and have hotdogs, leave things and go on a walk. We don't stay long, and we certainly didn't today, because it was raining and wet and our shoes and pants got soaked walking through the weeds and stuff. It wasn't super fun.

The Cabin Today
I should note that in recent years many loggers have been by and around, cutting trees and making logging trails to drive their big machines through. I wouldn't be surprised if they'd been around and inside the cabin in our absence. Today we found two raised platforms with chairs ontop, which is what hunters use to watch for prey. They go up about three metres and are usually supported by a tree trunk and poles. There was one off to the side of the clearing the cabin was in and another further into the trees.

As long as the land is in the family, I know I'll keep coming up, just to take a look around at least. No more maintainence is in order, that's for sure. The building will slowly rot away like the shed. It's been there since the sixties and ours since the eighties. There's no resources. No will power. And I'm actually interested in watching the wilderness and land recycle what humans have built on it. That's why I take photos each time, each year, to compare them and see the rate of decomposition. We had a picnick table in front of the cabin. The wood has since rotted to the point of the table drooping and keening, eventually disappearing in the woods. I don't know where the snowmobile has gone. We used to store it under a wooden box next to the cabin. I think it's slowly sunk away, buried under the marsh and weeds and stuff. Plants have grown over it. 

Even the burnt tree trunk has actually produced a new tree out of it. Recycle. That's what the whole thing is about. The Earth is a resiliant place. What humans have done, it will heal from. If we let it.

New photos on Flickr.

(Note: I would have inserted many photos I've seen over the years of the place, but I don't have them in my possesion or scanned, which is too bad because there's some pretty cool ones).

-Justin C.    

Friday, September 25, 2009

Mass Publishing VS Local Family Publishing

When I first moved to Barrhaven, three community papers were delivered to me at the end of each week. They weren't subscriptions, just community papers. One was called Nepean This Week, another was The Barrhaven Independent, and a third was called The Barrhaven Weekender.

They were good papers - but they were also all better than each other. One was a local paper that was family-owned, solely published under that small family-owned business. Another was published by a medium-sized newspaper printing group. And the third was published by a very large printing corporation that published a wide-range of newspapers across southeastern Ontario.

The thing is, it's substance. I got the most news and interest out of The Barrhaven Independent because it was a very local paper and it published good material. It was mostly the same with the Nepean This Week, though a little broader and just a little bit less interesting, not exactly as much substance. Then there was the Weekender, of which I virtually got nothing out of.

The difference here is the paper that is mass-published from a chain of similar papers from a large newspaper printing corporation, and the newspaper owned by a small business in Manotick.

When you have a large chain of newspapers, the look is all the same. The news tends to sound similar between every different paper. We had the Barrhaven Weekender. Five kilometres away, I'll bet a different community had a similar paper, something like the Nepean Weekender, distributed. The news and look between the two papers would be completely similar.
The news itself wasn't very interesting. Like I said, it had very little substance because the news was about something very mundane, like a local neighborhood daycare running and doing well. Plus, with the bland, monotonous news style that ranged throughout each paper, you got barely any difference between them. Sometimes I read about something that happened elsewhere and had little to do with Barrhaven.

That's the problem with big newspaper corporations, because they market their newspapers all in the same style. It's branded. Each community paper has the same look and style, the same design and banner, the same font and headline style. And the same news sources. So the result is a continuous, uniform style that's not interesting or unique. No substance.

I enjoyed the Nepean This Week, but in 2006 it was bought up by Runge Newspaper Group - the huge corporation that distributed the Barrhaven Weekender and countless other community 'weekenders.' From then on the paper became boring, mundane, and lost its substance because it now deflected to the uniform style of all the other branded papers alongside it. The banner was replaced and rewritten as Nepean This Week Weekender. It looked like it was full of interesting news and stuff, but it really wasn't and the style wasn't appealing. There were some sections in there that I thought had no use for the paper at all and just took up pages because they had nothing to say.
There was even a page that featured four or five local people with their comments - a reporter would ask them a question at a location somewhere prominent (or not prominent), record their opinion, take their headshot, and impliment it into the page. I don't think it had too much merit other than exciting those people for getting their faces in newsprint.
We stopped getting the Nepean This Week Weekender soon after it changed ownership between companies.

In contrast, The Barrhaven Independent is a small, family-owned publication that has a head office in Manotick. The family who owns it, The Morris Newspaper Group, produces this as well as The Manotick Messenger and the Prescott Journal, I believe. Just three papers. Not fifty-three.

Each paper is branded in someway, but each paper is also quite unique. I haven't actually read the other papers but the news is very substantial in the one I get. It looks appealing and the writing is pretty good. The journalism works. And I like the publisher, who's columns are sometimes quite funny.

I was very priviledged to actually work for that newspaper for a co-op placement in my second semester of grade 12. I got to meet the guy behind the funny columns and the journalism. You know he wrote several articles at once for that paper most of the time? I don't want to brag about the publisher of the paper but it was pretty cool for me. I contributed to the paper I'd read since I was fourteen and had gotten the most out of. When I wrote earlier that I'd read the editor from the Nepean This Week had quit from the paper at the end of 2005, he'd actually gone from that paper to the Independent, which made it five times better because I now read two people that I liked working for a paper I liked the most out of the others.

I think I also contributed to the paper's uniqueness by always being credited with "Justin S. Campbell," not just "Justin Campbell." No other reporter, writer or editor inserted their second initial in their name. I was surprised they'd publish it as that.

All in all, I think community newspapers that are owned by a smaller business, that are more concentrated on the community, are the better papers because it's unique and full of substance and material oriented for the place it's distributed in.  I don't want to unintentionally be biased because I like the paper myself, worked for it and like the personnel - it's just my opinion and argument that these kinds of papers are better for their uniqueness, their community concentration, and their reliance on only one news source that's entirely their own.

These days, we just get The Barrhaven Independent, The Barrhaven This Week Weekender, and The News EMC Barrhaven/Nepean Edition, which is basically another form of mass paper published like the Weekender (hence the "community edition" at the end). I only read the Independent. For obvious reasons.

-Justin C.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Returning to one's Roots

I took a sort of 'walk down memory lane' this evening.

Musically, that is. No, don't worry, I won't mention Madness here; this is actually about what my life was musically before I'd even heard the chorus of "Our House" the first time and was hooked.

Note: This post might be long due to the videos and details.

It started out with my mother's videotapes. My mother would record music videos onto video tapes, from MuchMusic. I think her tapes go back to 1987. Anyway I'd watch them with her as a young child in the 1990s and I'd grow up listening to those music videos. I don't remember every song on them (there were practically hundreds) but there were some I liked. One of them I can remember is "D'you Know what I Mean?" by Oasis. I remember the video had a lot of ruined buildings, helicopters, and colored smoke.

Another was this weird song called "Damn I wish I was your Lover" by Sophie B. Hawkins. Not a bad song but the weirdest music video I'd seen.

One I did like quite a bit was "At the Hundredth Meridian," by the Tragically Hip, which is actually a Canadian band. The video was in monochrome, filmed in 1991 I believe, with hanging trees, people, and ladders, etc. while the band played on rocky ground. I'd put the video here but the original video's embedding is disabled on YouTube.

These video clips my mother had (as well as MuchMusic interviews, I remember fastforwarding an old one of Madonna when I was nine or so), and the music I heard at my father's was what I grew up with. When I stayed at my dad's as a kid, he would always play international music from places like Africa as well as reggae and Jamaican music. He'd stayed in Africa throughout the 1990s and he'd brought back some pretty good music. I never listened to the lyrics; they were in a different language. But the music itself was good. That, Jamaican reggae, and the pop music my mother recorded I credit for my current taste in the music I talk about all the time - ska, reggae, and pop, or a blended fusion of those perpetrated by my favorite band, Madness.

Coming back to the roots here, the first song I ever went crazy for was by British Artist Robbie Williams. I remember the morning I heard the song "Millenium." The channel YTV was on and they used to have a music show called the Hit List. It's not on anymore (none of the shows I watched as a child are on YTV anymore). I couldn't believe the string section or Williams' backup voice. The music video had a lot of golden curtains in it, that's what I remember. As well as Robbie Williams attempting to use a jetpack in a feild:

Nowadays it just looks quite silly to me. Apparently it's attempting to mimick the James Bond series.

When I say I took a walk down memory lane this evening, I mean that I decided to revisit these old music videos. YouTube is an awesome source for all this old stuff. After Millenium, my mother recorded this song by Hanson called "Where's the Love." Again, I loved the song. I watched out for it on the radio. It was huge in 1997. I was six. At that age I didn't understand nor comprehend the lyrics (they had high-pitched, inarticulated voices back then). I still enjoyed the song itself, even though I thought it was sung by girls. That and "MMMbop."

Comparing the songs from when I listened to them as a small boy to now as a young adult, the effect is very different. For instance, like I said, "Millenium" is a great song, very polished, but the video seems just very silly, even corny. There are some funny moments with Williams trying to launch himself out of a field with a jetpack, but otherwise the interested stares at the camera and the chuckles and winks make me go "tcha!" On Wikipedia is says that it was based on the James Bond movie franchises. Oh yeah.

For Hanson, again, the songs are great. Musically they're awesome. But like I said, the voices of the three brothers, especially the drummer, are really quite high-pitched. I really used to think they were girls, with their long hair and soft features. Of course they were only 12, 14, and 17 years old at the time. Sometimes though, the drummer in particular can sound almost daunting.

The videos themselves were well-done, though. I used to get extremely excited at the scene when the three of them were on the moon in the video for "MMMbop," with the Earth in the background. Hence my current obsession with aerial photos and heights and the like. In the late nineties I got a clock-radio for Christmas. Every night when I went to sleep, in the days before I turned my bedroom light off, I'd turn the radio on while going to sleep. I'd listen to the music while I dreft off.

Eventually I'd come across two interesting choruses, and I'd hear both of them in due time, becoming a huge fan of the people behind one of the choruses and an interested listener in the people behind the other chorus - "Our House," and "Rio," respectively. I think after that I also gained and interest in 80s music, and I'd fall in love with the decade, with the nineties coming second and the 70s coming third.

So yeah, it was interesting going onto YouTube and looking up old songs I originally heard for the first time when I was six or seven on a videotape my mother had of countless music videos. That's where it all originated - as well as the fun dance beat of the colorful reggae music my father and I would dance to in his apartment on Frank street downtown, in the olden days of childhood innocence.

-Justin C.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"General Bus"

The following is a short story I wrote. It may be based on me, and it may not. The only certain thing is that what transpired in this story did happen. Whether it's about me or not is for you to decide.


Riding on the bus that day, coming home from college, the young man sat near the back of the bus, crowded in on all sides with people. He couldn’t wait to get to Fallowfield, where he wouldn’t be getting off, but most people would be.

She waited at the station that day long after school had finished. She’d been out with other friends and was just coming home, though she needed to make a stop at the mall first, requiring her to take the other bus that took that route. The station was a bit crowded, though she wouldn’t be there long.

The bus pulled into Fallowfield station, and just like he expected, most of the riders disembarked. This gave him a chance to move into a better seat closer to the back, though there was only one on the right side free, instead of on the left side, where he preferred. He sat down as other people from Fallowfield got on.
Glimpsing the boarders, he got a huge surprise. A girl he’d known in high school, one level below him, was getting on. He looked at her for a split second before quickly staring forward. He felt quite happy at that moment, as he’d started to like her towards the end of the last school year.

She got on the bus at the rear, where it was less crowded, and looking straight ahead she got a huge surprise; a guy she’d known in high school last year, a guy she actually liked, was sitting there. She’d watched him from afar, wishing he’d notice her, though she had the idea that he liked her friend instead. He didn’t look at her, just stared ahead, though she was quite happy all of a sudden. She passed him and sat on the parallel seats against the windows, keeping an eye on him. He didn’t look around at her or, or around at all.

He kept forward, not daring to look around at the back of the bus. What if she saw him looking at her? It was a silly thought, because he got the impression that she was watching him. He could barely see her in his peripheral vision, though he could tell her face was turned in his direction.
He’d noticed that she seemed to like him back when they were both in school. He knew she would watch him while he was interested in her friend. She had an intensity that he’d noticed whenever she was near.
Eventually he realized that she was actually quite nice. She had a fair face in his opinion, with a softness that he admired. She also had a thing with dressing in very bright, flamboyant colors that also got him. She was just a nice, fair person to him.
Smiling to himself, he kept his eyes up on the front.

For a second she thought he was getting off when he got up after someone stood at the doors, ready to depart. Her sense of brightness suddenly took a drop.
But he’d simply crossed the aisle to sit in the seat that was vacated by the person after he’d gotten off, sitting directly south of her, in the left seat. He still hadn’t given any indication that he knew she was there, which worried her because she really hoped he knew. She was sure he knew who she was.

When the bus pulled into Strandherd Station, he half-expected for her to get off there. He was surprised that she’d stayed on this long. If she got off, he was going to get off as well. The station wasn’t far from where he lived, and if it meant he could spend half a second longer in her presence, he would do it. He had worried at first, when she’d gotten on, that she wouldn’t have noticed him, but he pleasantly knew the she did know he was there. He could feel her gaze on him.
The bus pulled out of the station without her getting off. He felt better. He was only getting off at Greenbank and Strandherd for the short walk home, and he felt better getting off first.

She could tell that he was getting ready to get off the bus when they drove down Strandherd out of the station. She wondered if she could get off there as well. It was only just outside the mall, not that much farther a walk.
The bus slowed down and sat in the left turning lane. He stood up and waited behind someone at the door. Thinking quickly, she got up.

He looked toward the front again, then straight ahead at the doors he stood in front of. Noticing a hand, he slightly glanced to his right and saw that her hand was just a few inches above his on the pole, and that she was standing virtually right over him. She looked intense, almost, and - was he mistaken, or did she also kind of look hungry and even longing? He felt a rush of what made his eyebrows rise. There was a sort of energy going on between them, with their closeness to each other. Again, he did not look at her.
After what seemed to be an eternity and several sudden stops, the bus made the left turn and came to a stop.

She was right on him, practically. She felt a need for closeness, for this never usually happened. It was a big coincidence for that guy to be on the same bus as her, especially when they came from different schools. This was a very rare thing to happen and she didn’t expect it to happen again anytime soon, so this was it. She noticed his eyebrows shoot up when he seemed to notice her proximity to him, though she wondered if that was a good thing or a bad thing. He hadn’t seemed to notice her the entire time, which made her question if he actually liked her or not. So she took his expression as a bad thing and sat down again, in the same seat he’d gotten out of. She really didn’t think he’d seemed interested. It wasn’t a nice thought and she slowly felt darker and less happy.

He got off and walked toward the intersection. When he was far enough away he glanced back. She wasn’t there. He wondered if she actually got off at all. Maybe she was but then decided against it. Maybe she wanted to be close to him one last time before he got off.
One thing was for certain, though. He never took any notice of her during the entire ride. It was as if she didn’t exist. He felt a bit pathetic. If he was so worried that she didn’t notice him, wasn’t she worried likewise? She took notice of him; he didn’t. And if she had the same anxiety, then it was made true with his failure to even glance at her. He felt bad. His happiness faded away. He would not have such a coincidence as this happen again. He wondered if he would ever see her again. Would she think that he didn’t care about her being on the bus now? Would she think he didn’t like her at all, and realize she was wasting her time and back off? It looked that way. Which just made him feel less happy.
The sky was grey with rain coming. As he walked away down the path toward his backyard, he thought of how she must have felt what it was like to be ignored as if she didn’t exist.


-Justin C.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

March of the Gherkins!

I've waited a long while for this - now it's on.

For any of you who are tired of my Madness ravings, this post isn't the remedy.

There's a guy on YouTube - amazing - who just uploads Madness recording after Madness recording. Thanks to him I've heard stuff I've never heard before. From studio recordings to demo tapes, to sessions, to extra instrumentals or demoes that I've never even heard of before - he's uploaded it.

When I got the vinyl album Keep Moving - a gift from the head of English at my old high school before he moved - I'd heard this awesome song called 'March of the Gherkins.' Since it was on a vinyl disk I couldn't exactly have it on my computer, where I could hear it better and stuff. Tonight, by coincidence, that guy I mentioned uploaded it.

So here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to review the song, because I haven't got many reviews out there except the new album review and the "If you think there's something" review (which was kind of weird).

The song is about getting on in life, with age. It's kind of a reminescence of one's younger times, when they had fun with friends and went through some unforgettable experiences, like having fun at "Tammoland" and holding hands with a girl from around the way. I actually thought of using the song to make a video for my uncle's 50th birthday, because it suited the age group so well. But like I said, the song was only on my vinyl album and not on the computer.

The music has a nice beat to it, and every instrument fits the tone and goes in the right direction. What makes the song good is the harmony with the instruments and the proper tone they set for the lyrics. It sounds like it is told from the point-of-view of a world-wise adult who was once told to "grow up soon, face his consequences." The trumpet/sax combination helps to energize the song and the bass keeps it going. This was perhaps the album's most sunny, cheerful, reflective songs. It is probably the song on the album that also has the oddest name - a gherkin is like a cucumber, and is often served with fish and chips in England.

Overall the song is upbeat, cheery and nice to listen to. Maybe it was written as someone who had a mid-life crises, but all in all, like I said, it works. I'm surprised it wasn't a single - the two singles off that album were "Keep Moving," a jazz-like number about moving along, and "One Better Day," about two homeless tramps finding each other and falling in love - which isn't so bad, but it kind of has a sad premise. And "The Sun and the Rain," which is also quite good though I think the bass drum kind of sounds a little silly during the verses (unless it's attempting to emulate the pitter-patter of rain drops).

The song recieves an A- from me. Now I think I'll go and listen to it again. It actually makes me remember good memories I had with my cousins when we were all younger, going crazy at my grandparents.

-Justin C.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Commercials and Go-Go Basslines

Several years ago, there was a shampoo commercial on TV that used this song. Usually I don't pay much attention to commercials, but some get me. There was one by Burger King that I went crazy for because it used time-lapse video effects (Remember Shaq O'Neal walking through the restaurant while people zoomed past him as his clothes kept updating with the times? It was broadcast about 2002).

This hair commercial got me because of the song used. I didn't know which one it was, just that it had a piano, rock element, backing singers, and a bassline that stood out enough for me to want to watch the commercials for it.

Years later, that sound still comes to me now and then. So today I decided to see if I could replicate the bassline, completely from memory. The bass had a solo during the commercial while the commentator described the way the hair reacted to the formula, blah blah blah, and that's what I used to help me. Again, drawing on the very pleasant scenes, colors, and forms that took shape in my head whenever I thought about it, I laid it down.

After getting what I thought it was down pat, I utilized YouTube to see if anyone had a video of the commercial. Of what I could remember, it was one that used the saying 'Head over Heels,' so I tried 'head over heels hair shampoo commercial.'

I found it. YouTube is awesome for that:

The solo I'm talking about is at 0:14 seconds in.

I was nearly right. What I had done wrong wasn't the notes but the technique. I'd played the notes fully, yet in the song there are some slides and quick fret changes that I didn't make - but all in all I'd just about gotten all the notes right, maybe one or two wrong. All from memory, and by ear.

By the way, "Head over Heels" turned out to be an actual song, from 1984 (I'd guessed it was from the 80s already, as I liked it) by an all-girl band called The Go-Go's. They were the band that did the hit "Vacation," whose music video I'd seen on Bob TV once.
They also, early on in their career, supported the British ska/pop band Madness when they toured America in 1980.

It's amazing how things intertwine and overlap, because when I heard that commercial I'd never have thought of any connection whatsoever to the producers of the music and my favorite band. Huge difference in sound, and it just seemed so different and miles away from having anything to do with Madness (the whole thing overall, not the song itself). I love it when things intertwine like that...

I thought of posting a video of me learning that bassline, then searching for the commercial, finding it and seeing the results of how well or awful I'd done. But it's too late now, everything's done with. The video would have been a good example of synesthesia because I was setting a challenge for myself using that thought system and then testing to see if it worked - which it did, at least 95% overall.

And this also proves that while I go on about Madness all the time, I see the beauties in other music too. Most of my one-off song favorites come from the decades of the 1970s, 80s (very much of the 80s) and 90s. And the reason is almost always because of the music, not the lyrics, with the bass playing a large part of it.

-Justin C.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Sunny and the Rainy thoughts (Mostly sunny)

I thought I'd put something of interest here: I've been writing a list of what I think about (what solid, actual things I think about and see) in my mind when I listen to particular songs. I've put here what I see when I listen to the 12 inch version of the song The Sun and the Rain, Madness's last top 10 single before pianist Mike Barson left the band and all went downhill.

The Sun and the Rain, Madness (12”)

Orientation: North, North east.

General color: light blue, whitish, some green. Watery.

Opening "dodedodedo’s" with sax: J. B., piano – soap subs in a bathtub, water.
(The "J.B." was actually my friend's girlfriend, though her manifesting in my thoughts had nothing to do with interest and all to do with the way the sax sounded enthusiastic and young and happy, like she seemed (to me)).

Violin during second verse: Gary C. (my grandpa Campbell), Joe B. (my other grandpa Bissett)

String section during second chorus, 1:56-1:59 – sitting at a picnic table in mid morning with a girlfriend, enjoying the time and the wind (it’s windy). Some trees in the background, scene facing an eastern direction, with a wide river or ocean behind the trees and it’s sunny – 2:01-2:04 – falling in love, having a sudden crush on someone (from a girl’s point of view).

Piano chords after the guitar part: Someone with a grudge, unforgiving, standing with their arms crossed.

Second piano chords: That same person letting that grudge go and forgiving. Coming down to breakfast.

String instrumental after first part of last chorus: Becoming interested, having a crush on someone, falling in love, and being thankful (near the end of this instrumental).

String section in the final verse: Climbing a mountain, seeing the days go by, living the days and life to the fullest, seeing many things in a lifetime.

Here is the actual song. I finally managed to get the stuped embed thing to work:

The Sun and the Rain, 12"

I think it's kind of interesting, because overall the personalities and scenes I attribute to the song tend to be optimistic, fun, sweet, and nice. The lyrics themselves are quite optimistic, for instance, during the chorus when being out in the rain seems to feel refreshing, nourishing, and beneficial: "I hear the rain falling in my ears/washing away the weariness like tears/I can feel my troubles wearing down/disappearing to the silent sound."
Or: "I feel the rain falling on my face/I can say there is no better place/standing up in the falling down/it's so much rain I could almost drown."

So really, it's a bright song to begin with, from which I draw from the instruments and music as well as the lyrics (but I don't really pay much attention to them).
Of course, I first draw and comprehend most of this stuff from the texture and abstracts, colors that I see first. Some images, like the picnic with the girlfriend or significant other, are actual scenes that I draw in my mind from the music, and they're nice scenes. The wind was really blowing in that one (I noticed the girl's hair blowing merrily in the scene).

I've got many songs so far on that list. Many people come to mind throughout. "Please Don't Go" makes me think of someone who moved away whom I liked - but not the title or the nature of the song. The way the word "Really" is sung in the line "Please don't go 'cos I really know that I love you." Just that one word. And in only one of the times it's sung. That and the pool at the Nepean Sportsplex. It's interesting. Places from the Black Rock Desert appear in the song "I Ran (So far away)" to a moonlit sidewalk in the middle of the night under a tree during the song "Walking on the Moon" by The Police. (The former was by A Flock of Seagulls).

Some of this imagery as well as the colors/abstracts/textures in music even tell me how my life has been and is going, how I'm living it, the kind of person I am. (The piano during the drum solo in Madness's song Sunday Morning). (And only two of the notes of that piano, near the end before the snare is hit six times consistently, at 2:12 to 2:15 in the song). It doesn't "tell me to do anything," of course. Just who I am, kind of. My nature.

But that's the kind of thing I get from music, sounds. The darn bass drum during the chorus of the song "Rainbows" (again by Madness) makes me think of that same girl I see when the word 'really' is sung in that other song. People come up in more than one song, always.

By the way college is going alright, the people there are a lot more mature which really suits me because I knew a lot of immature people in high school. We're all treated like adults.

I like that.

-Justin C.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Well, I'm In.

In contrast to the post "I'm Out," now I'm in. Post secondary education.

Today was an early beginning. I got up at 7a.m., got to the college and had to finish some unfinished business.

Thing is, their stupid website wouldn't let us go forward with anything like paying the tuition and getting my schedule, because it was just plain unreliable. I don't really like online sites that do everything electronically, because of this. We spent around an hour and a half getting through all the preliminary stuff, paying, getting my schedule. Then I got my books, finally, and it was a lucky day for me because my first class didn't start until noon and we'd finished "clearing all the red tape" around a quarter to eleven.

After a lunch at McDonald's, I went to my first class, which was "Changing Role of a Writer in North American Culture." It was three hours long, according to my schedule. But it wasn't bad, it was actually quite cool and interesting. Mostly the class just did an ice-breaker. I got to know a few people.

We got out early, around ten after two. I got to Baseline Station and waited for a 95 Barrhaven Centre. When I got to Fallowfield, I changed seats and moved to the back. One thing that was unusual for me was that after sitting down, a girl got on behind me, looked at me with interest, and sat down next to me even though there were lots of empty ones. It was unexpected - I'd never had a person do that before, unless they had to.

Getting home I realized that my keys were in my bag, which was inside the house, not the current one I was carrying.

Good thing I have neighbors who were nice enough to lend me a ladder so I could get up onto the porch roof, and in through my bedroom window. Before, whenever I didn't have my keys, I would use a storage container propped on its side, with a plastic patio chair perched ontop to get up to the roof. I've succeeded in using that method multiple times, even though I only broke something once. And it was the plastic chair I was using, not myself.

I borrowed a ladder this time because I'm older, wiser, and physically larger now. The bin proved too wobbly to stand on while on its side, and putting a flimsy patio chair ontop wouldn't be a great combination.

But all in all it was an okay day. According to my schedule my classes tomorrow start in the morning. I have on average one or two classes a day. Tomorrow, for instance, I have "Introduction to Research," twice. One at eight a.m., and the other at 2 p.m.

It's going to be an interesting term. We'll see how it goes. Meanwhile, expect some photos in the near future based around Algonquin College. I used to take tonnes of photos everyday based around Merivale High School. Now that I'm at College, I'm due to become a one-man repository for photos and media and stuff just like I do everywhere I spend time at.

-Justin C.

Monday, September 7, 2009

This is It.

And it is. It. That is.

Today would be the last day of my summer. Today would be the day no one works.

That surprises me (unusually as Labour Day would be that kind of holiday) as I thought it would be last week. Then I was informed that it was the first Monday of the month, not the first day.

But this is bigger. Tomorrow I start that grand ol' writing program at that college...I think it's called Algonquin...and it's kind of another milestone for me.

Milestones are rare in life (hence the name). I consider my first day of high school, turning 16, driving a car for the first time, turning 18, and tomorrow milestones. That's four in 18 years.

I guess I should reflect on how my short summer has been. It wasn't exactly that eventful. The highpoints were camping (with family, not just my father), my bike expeditions, and getting to see people I recognized (while getting some laptop), and the lowpoints were sitting in my basement on my HP Pavilion Personal Computer, staring at the screen while listening to Madness. You know, I'm not just into Madness - I properly listened to Another Day in Paradise by Phil Collins, a wonderful song. Oh, and I got my major movie done.

All in all, the program should be exciting. I'm kind of excited. I got a message from my friend Duncan, who said that he's living at Carleton University now, watching as other young adults pass joints around, immerse themselves in drinking games, and pass out in the hallways.

I'm glad I can easily ride my bike to and from Algonquin.

So this is it. My last complete day. What should I do? Everything's closed. I went swimming yesterday. I haven't done much today. When I opened up my blog today I got a shock when I had two comments to moderate, which is highly highly unusual. That used to happen only when my aunt Roshell had time to comment (a good example of her having no time is her blog appears to not have been updated in a few months) and she was my only follower as well.

I have a funny story about that actually: Back when I first ever started this little web log, I'd originally gotten the idea from my media class. My teacher, Mr. Hughes, had started up a class blog (this is now defunct) for the whole class to write on. Inspired, I started mine, and immediately located the class one and hit 'follow.'

The next day, Mr. Hughes turned on the computer projector. With relish, he said "This is the dashboard..." Then his voice faltered and gained a huge element of surprise in it. "Oh, look, I see someone is following us...oooh....creepy...uh..oh..."

By that time I'd realized that I was the culprit, and I stepped in. "Oh - Mr. Hughes, that's my blog that's following ours here, don't worry..."

"Oh!" He exclaimed, all of a sudden with confidence again. "Okay. I thought I was being kind of stalked there...uh, right..."

The first thing I'm doing today is a continuation of something I started last year: I went outside then, to the RioCan Marketplace, to take daytime panoramas of the empty parking lots. I'm doing that again today, but I've got a different focus. I'll do the panoramas, but I'll also do some monochromes (black and whites).

Other than that, nothing much is planned to go on. One thing I did this summer, near the end, was play a lot of badminton. I also had this constant habit of watching the airplanes fly over, as Barrhaven is directly underneath a flight path and airplanes flying over our yard are common.

One thing I hope, though, is that I finish my story, The Nice Guy. I spent a week working out in the backyard on my laptop, writing it there, but I've not continued since last week or so. I've got to get some more ideas in my head.

Anyway I've got to make my last day of 'freedom' a good one. After all the monkey bussiness with the college (they screwed a lot of things up, what with someone on hospital leave, the online utility, the actual individual who's attending, etc.), it's all done with and I'm accepted and going tomorrow. It'll be a rush because the web utility, ACSIS, which provides my schedule and stuff, won't update with everything so I'll have to go in and do everything hopefully before class begins...I don't even know when it begins, I don't have a darn schedule!!

Now, I've got to go and take those photos. While it would be nice, today won't last forever.

-Justin C.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

My First Day..

Update: I added a couple of old photos, don't know why I didn't do it in the first place...

...Not in school for the first day of school.

Seeing as I have graduated from the OCDSB, I have no school to attend.

Instead I have college to attend, next week.

But I will miss going to school, actually. I knew a lot of people, either by acquaintance or sight or friend, and whether they graduated or not, I won't be seeing them anymore, not since I graduated (unless I leave my property, then there's a small chance I would, like when I got my laptop). I have many memories. And I remember all my first school days. They were all fun and interesting and a relief:

Grade 9: That day was fun. It was a sunny day, and waking up that morning it was the first time I'd seen Barrhaven so early in the morning. Everything was on the move. I took the 176 and it got super crowded. I saw many people I knew from middle school. That day was a good one. I met with Myles and Duncan and the barbeque was nice even though I'd lost my tickets. I went home early that day (grade nines only come for the morning) and set to work dismantling the play structure the previous occupants had left behind that day. We'd only lived in Barrhaven since the beginning of the summer.
L-R: Duncan F., Myself, Myles M. on our first day of grade nine.

Grade 10: Again, it was a beautiful sunny day, and it was nice to sleep in because the higher grades went to school later, after the grade nines had left and the barbeque had finished. It another fun day and interesting.

Grade 11: That day was even more fun because I had a few friends to look forward to seeing. Myles was no longer there, but I'd become friends with these two music students who seemed nice.
Grade 12: By then my first day of school had become kind of usual, with every class following the same routine of giving out the course outlines and stuff, but it was still a great relief to see people again.

L-R: Duncan F., and myself on the last day of school, grade 12.
A few years ago, before I even went to high school, there used to be a grade thirteen. That doesn't exist today (which is good) but still, I will continue to miss all those people I would see, that relief and freedom from isolation on my first day of school. Riding the bus to and from school again and seeing my friends on there.

But hey. I'm going off to college. That's big, isn't it? That should be fun. And I hope to meet many people there as well.

As usual, I hope.

-Justin C.