Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Shake'n'Shout

Well, apparently we had this earthquake.


I say 'apparently' because I didn't even know it until I was informed by my other relatives, and read the reactions of people on Twitter and Facebook.


I was in the shower; I didn't feel a thing. I heard what sounded, to me, a very deep thundercloud boom outside. Or perhaps a heavy dump truck carrying gravel for a construction site had passed by. Big trucks often pass by my yard; I do back onto Greenbank Road, after all. And because Barrhaven is in the midst of a construction boom and because we're situated right near the commercial centre, big trucks carrying backhoes, gravel, any other construction material, and huge tractor trailers delivering goods to stores and pre-packaged burgers/fries to McDonald's often pass by. Air horns and the average low roar from the engines of these trucks have been common since we moved here. And the thud and sound of them rolling by on the road, big wheels bouncing off a pothole or rut.


Not to mention that Barrhaven is also situated under a flight path, and airplanes pass over with resounding sonic booms and whining turbines.


So it came as a normal thundering roar to me when I heard it as I passed a bar of soap under my arm. I did not feel any vibration, unless you count sensing the small shuddering of the house, which is also quite normal.


I'd later get a phone call from my maternal grandmother asking if I was alright. And I'd be informed of the fact that it was an earthquake that caused the low roar.


People downtown, it turned out, were evacuated from the buildings. My mother called telling me she was waiting for her floor to be given the go ahead to empty itself. My paternal grandfather called to get my report on the situation, and in turn found out his wine glasses had been knocked off the wall, picture frames had gone cricked, and my grandmother had witnessed the windows bulging. And my other cousins had been scared by the whole effect.


I could not have been more or less unaffected myself. Nothing was out of order when I toured the house, nothing had fallen and no item was broken. The cricked picture on the wall remained cricked like it was before. I don't think an earthquake has ever righted a photo on the wall before.


I could give all the details about the earthquake itself, but I don't feel like re-opening all the web pages I had open when researching the whole thing. I'll just say that it was a magnitude of 5.5, I believe, and originated in Quebec about sixty kilometres north of Ottawa, 19km beneath the surface.


What annoys me is my time and place.


All my life, I've been either asleep, or in a situation, like when I was in the shower, where I would not notice any effect. Had I been in the basement I probably would have heard the sound a lot more deeper and louder, and probably would have felt at least a bit of a shake. When our campsite was harassed by a bear when we went camping two years ago, on each situation, I was just waking up in my tent and listening to my father shouting and throwing rocks. My younger half-brother was the one who woke up and spotted the bear and alerted my father, whereas I would be fast asleep every other time. Same for any previous earthquake, too. I slept through all of them.


But anyway. Nothing happened here. Downtown is pretty congested. 


If anything else happens, where I'm not unconscious or in the shower or otherwise disabled and unaware, I'll make sure to write about it.


Justin C.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Legal in Ontario

I only write that title because last year it was 'Legal in Quebec' when I wrote about my 18th birthday. Otherwise I'm not super interested in the fact that I can buy alcohol. I'm not the drinking type, really.


When other people I knew, mostly online, turned 19, they all went nuts about it and made big plans to party at clubs and bars, fully for the privilege of being old enough to order drinks, and legally get drunk.


Not me.


My dad, when he called to wish me a happy birthday, had this to say: "You can rent a car now!"


Okay.


It was an okay day, though. We did what we always do - we went to the Lonestar Cafe. Myself, my grandpa, and my two cousins.


It's been a tradition since 2007, when I first went with just my grandparents. Then in 2008 both my cousin Jamie and Jeremy came along, and in 2009 we added my uncle Jim and my father to the procession. This year it was just Jamie/Jeremy again.


It was very nice. After I turned the age of 19 at 11:00am, about twenty minutes later my grandpa came, we picked up the other two guys, and off we went.
The place was extremely full, and extremely noisy. My grandpa spent the time telling Jeremy and Jamie, on the other side of the table, stories, of which I couldn't really hear much of, then they exchanged stories of their own. When I was finally able to hear my grandpa again, they were talking about how a bull is slaughtered. This was after lunch had been served.


"What they do," he said at one point, "is they have a hole in the table, and they just raise the monkey's head through it. Then they simply dig in with forks and spoons..."
That was when I asked them to stop talking about the matter.


I took some portraits as well (had my usual camera) and at one point I was shocked to see a familiar girl walk by behind my two cousins - it was a girl I knew in high school, in my grade, who shares the exact same name with a girl I knew who moved away. I told them this, and Jeremy, even though he'd been sitting facing away from her, kept a watch out for her around the corner. Then he turned to me and said, "she'll be coming in just about....now." And she did indeed. He smiled at me and I found the whole thing hilarious. 


I wonder what she thought when she likely saw Jeremy staring at her on her way back to the table.


I don't mean to imply that I like the person secretly, by the way, only to say that I was surprised that I saw someone I knew while with my cousins/grandpa, and that Jeremy thought that I must have liked her.


After everything was served by our enthusiastic, watchful waiter (through him, we knew what school he goes to, where he lives, and his general opinion on all of our schools) it was very tasty and delicious. There was a lot of talk and laughs going on. I watched as our same waiter, after making sure we were perfectly comfortable and served, unwittingly smashed dishes on the floor and ruined the meals of another tables' by accident. Eventually everything was finished (except grandpa, who couldn't finish the three quarters of meal left on his plate) and we were all full. Grandpa finished talking about how awful sea cucumber tastes and feels. When our waiter came and told us in great detail about how embarrassed he had felt, and all that, about smashing up the meals of the other patrons, we asked for the bill, and on we went.


We took the annual photo that we usually take in front of the clock tower, though this time I'd made sure to bring a tripod so that someone wouldn't have to take the photo and actually be in it instead. It took several tries but it worked.
After pulling out, for some reason grandpa felt he needed to back up a bit while in the laneway into Fisher. Of course he didn't notice the horn and ended up tapping the bumper of the car behind us. The woman was angry to the extent that, although there appeared to be no mark whatsoever on the bumper anywhere, she still demanded to go over every detail with my grandfather. We sat in the car wondering about it, and I filmed everything as well.
On the way home, we took an unnecessary route down Deerpark Drive, which went from Fisher Avenue to Meadowlands Drive, right where I used to live. I don't know why we went down there - we simply came to Meadowlands, then drove right back to Fisher. All the way I shouted out familiar landmarks and places I knew as a child and young teenager, having lived there for 13 years. Jeremy and Jamie had no idea where they were or what I was going on about. They'd spent all their time living in Briargreen and Leslie Park and weren't familiar with this unknown part of town - Parkwood Hills.


Eventually we simply drove right back to Fisher again, down to the old Highway 16 (or Prince of Whales).


"Is this Barrhaven?" asked Jamie around this point. No, it wasn't. We were far from Barrhaven yet. We were just passing the Merivale Industrial Park at Colonnade Road. How could that be Barrhaven? While Jamie regularly travels nationally and internationally for diving competitions, he really seems to have a limited knowledge of Ottawa typography.
I guess it's sort of inverted, right? Someone who travels the world and visits different places, someone who knows lots to know about everything elsewhere, lack in knowledge of how their hometown is laid out. Take someone of the opposite where they've never been anyplace far, rarely travels, and doesn't have knowledge of that kind of thing, and he'll know all sorts about where he lives. That would be me.


Then again my cousin had just come out of an eye surgery so maybe he couldn't see too well at the moment and thought otherwise. But whatever. Heading down Fallowfield along the north edge of Barrhaven I pointed out that maybe I'll see someone I know walking on a sidewalk or something. My grandpa completely dismissed this, even though I ended up seeing my friend Catie at a bus stop as we drove down Greenbank Road. What's even more peculiar is that my grandpa himself has met this friend of mine - so in a way we were both seeing someone we knew, and so his quick disbelieving manner had no place in this situation.


All in all it was a good lunch and fun. I didn't expect to see a familiar girl there, or to be talking about slaughter, or for my grandpa to hit someone backing up, but overall it was great. And yeah, I am 19. I don't consider it a huge thing, but it's still cool. All my contemporaries, they're all crazy about it due to that whole alcohol thing, but that's them.


I'll be camping this weekend, for my birthday, with my father, and when I come back I'll make sure to write about that as well. I've got about $250 in cash now as well. Hoping for a miniature tripod too. It's been a good birthday.


And thanks to all who wished me a happy birthday online as well. It means something.


Justin C.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Not Home Today

It's a song I'm going to review, and by Madness, like usual.


It's one of their earlier songs, from their second album, Absolutely (1980). To me, it has a very ska-like sound to it, like a lot of their early songs. It wasn't a single or anything, just one of the songs on the album.

Written by Suggs and Mark Bedford (the bass player) it talks about a wrongly accused man going to jail. The jury is unified and not hesitated in convicting him. He can only wish he could turn back time, 'not guilty' is all he can say. As a result his neighbors and friends all wonder and gossip about why he's not home today during their afternoon tea-time as exemplified in the chorus.


What I really like about the song is (as always) the sound. The piano/keyboard, sax, and bass all really sound great to me. The general sound makes me think of brightness, and an atmosphere and look of a place located somewhere near the Mediterranean Sea. The atmosphere and look and feel of an apartment with an open balcony with beads in the doorways instead of doors, kind of a bit hot and stuffy in a late afternoon with passing rainclouds and sun. The bass and piano plus the keyboard all evoke that for me. The part of the song after the first chorus (but right before the second verse), where it's just piano chords and keyboard make me think of a road heading south, with water on one side and distant bleached apartment towers in the distance, open windows and a sort of late afternoon rain cloud behind them in the sky. I think I get the image largely from a photograph I saw on my grandparent's fridge once of basically the same thing. 


The piano about 1:05 minutes in also makes me think of someone, a girl, and it only did that recently. I won't go into details.


While the bass repeats itself all through the verses, it's still a great sound. And like usual, the bass usually repeats the same tune over in the verses of a song. It's normal. There's one bass melody for the verses and one for the chorus, plus maybe one more for the bridge or other part of the song that's added in after a chorus or elsewhere.


The chorus is also very nice particularly when you listen to - again - the piano. For me it makes me think of everyday life, normal days where people spend them working and doing errands and then coming home to their families in the afternoon. It's perfect for the lyrics of the chorus - it talks about everyday life while the man isn't anywhere to be seen or heard, and people wonder about it. The bass makes me think of myself, predictably. Particularly in how it ascends and descends.


The bridge between the second verse and the second chorus for me evokes a long hazy, hot summer day full of longing and forlornness. Relaxing in a lounge chair on the beach in a worried, unhappy state of missing someone.


The drums actually make me think of myself, to an extent. I just like the constant beat with the two snare hits snug in between them, makes me think of a want to stay adamant and on track. Not exactly my personality, but I like to think that if I were enforcing something I would stand by it and it would be silly to challenge me. Like to my son if I had one, or something like that. My own father is like that, and I can see myself being like that.


The ending is kind of one of those you-know-the-situation-is-really-bad kind of endings, with the sound of the music. After the chorus it goes into a sort of looping descending bass line/piano instrumental, with the sax sounding like it's predicting doom (just like everything else), to me anyway. Finally there's a loud bang, a clang, and the song is diminished to this distant tinny-sounding state which is basically the same instrumental replaying itself until it fades away.


Originally I thought it was a cool kind of creative way to end the song, and that suddenly you were hearing the band playing in the studio, but from the engineer's point of view and hearing, in the mixing room adjacent to the recording room.
Then it became obvious to me that the sound I was really hearing was that of a jail door being closed, the lock being put in place, and the song probably echoing from a radio down the hall of the prison block. Of course it was all a sound effect, but it was a good one.


One more thing I should mention that's on my mind about how I see things is the piano chords during the last bit of instrumental - I don't know, but it makes me think of older people brought up in the 40s and 50s, people who were brought up with stern parents and rules and grew up with dignity and privilege. People who these days are older and are the kind of people who'll tell their grandchildren that they grew up in a much different lifestyle than today with computers and the Internet and YouTube and Facebook, and that they take things for granted much more than they did yet they have so much more. People of wisdom.


Also makes me think that some of those people raced in Porches in their youths, in the old 356 Coupes.


Interesting, yeah? Man.


It's a good song.
Music: A-
Lyrics: B+


Justin C.

Friday, June 11, 2010

New Background

Well, I couldn't resist trying the new template designer thing out, so here's the best of what I could accept for what everything looks like.


I say 'the best' because ultimately I wanted to insert one of my own photos for the background, something that applies to Ottawa - but I wasn't given the choice of uploading my own image and so the one featured now is what only works best.


I think it's not too bad, maybe a bit too dark. I find that each image seems to have its own sense and meaning to it; the one up now seems to make the blog look like it's a blog about nightlife or clubbing or something similar. Not exactly what I was going for.


But it's alright. Keeps things real, or whatever. Adds some variety and stuff.


Justin C.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Oh What Fun I had...When an Uncertain Situation was Inverted...

I don't mean to sound vain, but for some reason my aunt and grandma last night said I had this "sharp" face.


I don't believe them. I find my eyes too penetrative, though of course that's how I see them. They probably aren't very penetrative at all, unlike my mother's eyes, whom my father once described as fatal if she looked at you. It's why I like to wear shades often enough, because then I can practically hide behind them. And it's cool.


When I was in grade ten once, I was helping carry tables into the cafeteria from a different room - this was after school - and I was uncertain about how dangerous I was to my surroundings - I mean, I was carrying a moderately-sized table, held up in front of me, and so the legs stuck out sideways while I couldn't very well see through the solid wood surface held in front of me (my eyes aren't that penetrative). I was worried I'd hit someone with the legs, so I walked sideways across the foyer keeping near the wall.


Of course, I hit someone. And, of course, I hit someone quite big and muscular.


I'm walking sideways, then the table legs ricochets off something. I look around and see a large guy at the fountain - I'd forgotten about the fountain - and he's glaring at me. I know I must have hit him pretty hard, but maybe not. He was big after all.


I mutter 'sorry' very quickly, then retreat to the cafeteria without luckily hitting anything else that wasn't alive. I was pretty lucky the big person didn't do more than glare at me (with eyes even more penetrating, I bet).


Two years later I'm in grade 12 and I'm walking down the hall. I'm slightly taller, I now wear eye glasses for my 20-200 vision, my hair is longer and I'm wearing jeans everyday instead of black sweatpants. I have a beard. Otherwise nothing else is different.


Suddenly, someone's heel rears back, into my leg, in an attempt to kick their locker. The small kid, who looked like a grade nine, looked up at me in shock when he realized he'd inadvertently kicked the side of my leg. He has a freightened look on his face as he breathlessly apologizes. 


I nod, not in the least hurt or angry or deterred, and continue walking away. The guy didn't hit me hard anyway, and it was inadvertent.


Then, looking straight down the hall through the window at the end, I see my friend Tyler with his other friend Cyril walk by it. Feeling like I want a quick chat with them, I spin around and dart straight back down the hall I'd come.


Running fast, I notice that kid and what looks like his posse of friends, all grouped at their lockers. They're all staring at me with haunted looks on their faces - and shrinking back against the lockers as I come closer. Were they scared of me? Were they afraid I'd suddenly changed my mind while walking away, from benign to malevolent? Peaceful to violent? Green to Red? Whatever? Did they think I merely walked away so that I could get a running start at them, make an entrance by bearing down on them at an incredulous fifteen miles an hour?


The whole thought was ridiculous enough to make me laugh about it later. I simply ran past them as they melted together, raising one eyebrow at them as if I were wondering why they seemed so scared. Well, I was wondering that. After all, it's not like I've inherited my mother's fatal "basilisk" eyes, neither are they so penetrating that I could look through their souls. It wasn't like I was physically imposing either, like that muscular guy from two years ago. After all, I'm only 5'6." What were they seeing in me? Geez. I exited the doors and met up with that old friend of mine, Tyler, and I'd go on to watch as Cyril knocked himself to the ground by a broken tree branch, which also tore a pant leg in the process. Mother Nature prevails.


Oh what fun I had...when I was on the other side of the situation. No, I didn't necessarily have fun. I just found it extremely funny that they would find me scary, or that I could intimidate them simply by looking disgruntled or being a senior or something like that. Or running past them.


I guess things always invert as you get older. People intimidate you when you're young, then you do the same. Parents take care of their children, then they grow up and take care of the aging parents. Black hair turns white with age. Situations arise more than once, but backwards the second time. It's all crazy. Maybe one day I'll become a novelist or screenwriter (I can only hope) and Suggs from Madness will come to a book signing or premier and tell me he's a fan, just like I've been a fan of him and Madness.


We can only hope and see.


Justin C.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Listen to your Father

It was a song sung by Feargal Sharkey in 1985, written by Carl Smyth and produced on a label called 'Zarjazz.' I'm going to review the song, and mostly, the music video, in this post.


Now, knowing me, you'd know there was some sort of connection to Madness in all of this, yeah? You'd be perfectly right; Carl Smyth was better known as 'Chas Smash' and was the backing singer/trumpeter of the band, he wrote that aforementioned song I'm talking about, and Zarjazz was created and managed by Madness themselves.


However Feargal Sharkey, of the Undertones, sung it. Madness only wrote it and played all the instruments.


It's your normal song about the lead singer spotting a girl he falls for, and by judging her, makes the assumption that she "never listens to her father." Musically it's interesting and sounds very 80s with the trumpets and keyboards. It's not bad. Feargal's voice sounds really good, much better than if Chas or Suggs sang it. And it wouldn't sound their style if either of those two sung it anyway; with Sharkey it works because it's different.


The music video is very interesting, particularly due to the way I can relate to it due to the events of yesterday.


It's a very long introduction - the members of what I think are the Undertones (not Madness, just Feargal Sharkey and two other guys) walk into a pub/lounge full of pool tables. They walk up to an ordering counter and Sharkey spots a girl with her back to him. She looks around and he seems stricken with the emotion in the song upon seeing her face. Eventually one of the guys sits with an older man at a table, the other one starts playing pool, and Feargal Sharkey (finally) goes to a jukebox and selects the song. The music finally begins.


The rest of the video showcases the three men playing pool, eating and doing double-takes at the girl, who serves the guy at the table with the older man. They all seem entranced by her, especially Sharkey. There's also a scene in which an older woman comes along and drags the older man away from the table for whatever reason, the three guys looking on in encouragement. Two young cooks joyfully have fun cooking and washing dishes in the song's bridge and instrument parts, and it culminates in the three guys hanging around with Sharkey lip-synching the "I believe in love at first sight" bit. It ends with the owner throwing them out after being fed up with their prolonged presence and goofing around.


For me I like the song mostly for the 'I bet you never listen to your father' shout outs at the end and during some of the verses. It's a pretty good tune, if only the video didn't have such a prolonged introduction. I should note also that some of the bits of conversation and talk in the video can also be heard while the song plays.



For the rating, I'll be doing both the song and the video:


Song: B+
Video: B


It's not bad. And even I can sort of relate to it in a way.


Justin C.