Monday, July 26, 2010

Those cool little boxes

I have a thing for movie posters in which there are more than one photograph of something. Not necessarily mosaics, but somewhere in between. Making them is something of a hobby for me almost, except that I can't find many occasions and subjects to make such posters of.

Sometimes they end up being mosaics, but I that's only part of it I think. Great examples are these movie posters:
Both use many pictures to illustrate either the actors involved or the sun and sky above the city buildings. It ends up looking creative and visually stimulating. I just think it's cool and fun to do these posters.
Both movies are favorites of mine, by the way.

It's not often, but sometimes I'll do my own mosaics or posters that include more than one photograph. If it were a movie poster I like the fact that each main character gets their own image in there, instead of sharing it with other people. It brings out more of their personality, I think. Having other people in the image with them tends to affect how they look in relation to the other person (say it was taken from a scene, and how they really look is masked by the surprise on their face due to something the other person in the image said).

Now and then I'll do my own version of something because the original idea was so good. I ended up doing this recreation of the portraits from the High Fidelity movie because the idea seemed so intriguing. It also meant I finally took a photograph of myself after having the incentive to take nine of them where I look proper in my opinion (the middle one). 

Now and then I'll also have the right photographs or occasion to be able to make a poster. It's rare for me to be able to come up with an idea without an occasion, but sometimes my mind will work:

(Sorry for the stupid formatting trouble I'm having, this editor really becomes useless after posting photos).

I have a set on Flickr with all the posters I've ever done, but not all of them are like the kind with the multiple photographs. What I might do now and then is create posters with a theme - it doesn't have to be a movie poster like the one on the left. I once did one detailing all the friends I'd ever had (best friends) and I did another simply on a visit to my grandparents and their pool.

Most recently I did one where it was an update to that father-son portrait thing my aunt did in 1995. The actual post on it is here.

Who knows what will come up next. I really like the idea of multiple-photo posters. Who knows, but if I do manage to publish that novel I've been writing, if in the future it is optioned and the film rights purchased (this is thinking extremely optimistically and forward here) I'd want the movie poster to have that kind of look to it, and preferably in black and white. I really like monochrome over color these days, it just seems to give the photo or poster more character to me.

Justin C.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Very Awkward-Sounding

When I first heard the song 'That Face,' I was completely dumbfounded by its sound and musical structure. That did not sound like Madness. That sounded kind of odd...just the way it sounded musically.

This is a review of the song I'm doing for anyone who hasn't yet caught on by the way.

It's a song that, for percussion, relies largely on the upper tom tom drum and bass, with a snare hit only after the first few hits, every time. The bass only occurs substantially at the beginning of each measure, alongside the piano, which plays the same notes. Then it's just quick little notes way up the neck, almost like beeps. There are actual beep-like sounds in the song that sound similar to telephone dial buttons.

The real music you hear in the song rather comes from the piano and sax, as well as the guitar now and then, which sometimes slides down. The piano itself comes off as fast and a bit complicated but well-executed. The sax sounds like, to me, it's trying to retain some sort of sense. It's just how I see it.

To me, the music sounds awkward and a bit odd. Like someone is stumbling about trying to accomplish something but at an odd angle or awkwardly. To put this into something more realistic, an example is one of the story arcs of the TV show The Office: The Andy character is interested in the Erin character, and Erin is equally into Andy, but Andy's attempts to ask her out are both awkward and kind of full of odd 'beat around the bush' drama.

The part that really sounds awkward is the 'Reflections of yesterday!' refrain. There's this sort of dodo-de-do created by the 'telephone dial button' beeps, and a ready-sounding, asking-a-girl-out-uncomfortably-really fast-like bass note - then it goes down a semi-tone, as if with shock and embarrassment, if the girl turned him or it down or embarrassed him or it as a result. 
The actual notes are F, pause (for the 'reflections of...') lyric, then simply 'E' (and resounding 'yesterday!' lyric). Accompanying the shock of the bass (and shouted 'yesterday') is a big crash and floor tom hit.

What's funny about that refrain is that the backing voice for the lyric really shouts it, and tends to make me think that Ryan Howard from that same show, The Office, could say the exact same thing in the exact same tone. It would refer to his odd, unusual days at the Scranton branch and his awkward relationship with Michael, the office manager, and he would think about this during season four when he would unexpectedly be working for corporate.

From my point of view, the song is interesting, but only okay. I like the little musical bits where there seems to be a trombone playing (some sort of brass instrument) and the piano/bass sounds quite reflective. The brass makes me think of late winter afternoons, with the sun low but still bright, and someone's spending their free time reading a book by themselves in their empty flat or something in the waning sunshine as cars turn corners on streets and reflect the glare off their windows and shiny chrome parts. The one reading is a bit lonely and tends to reflect as he reads in his bedroom.

But otherwise, the song sounds a bit too overproduced and long. The style of the sound - the way the bass plays and the beat - you wouldn't want to play it for a long time because of the inherent unusual way it sounds and the awkwardness it tends to evoke. For me anyway. I'm sure it would be different for other people.

For the lyrical content, it seems to be about reflection and wondering where everything went - like one's youth or old friends or girlfriends, whatever. They're noticing the lines and wrinkles appearing in their face as they age and realizing their life's really gone by without them noticing. 'That face was fine only yesterday. My problems seemed so far away.'

Coming from their concept album The Rise and Fall, it seems only right that the song has this kind of content. Most of the songs on there, from Sunday Morning to Rise and Fall (the opening song) to Our House all deal with childhood memories and reflection. This song is no different. It was Carl Smyth (Chas Smash) who suggested writing about childhood memories, and so he ended up writing this, and co-writing Our House as well (for which I think he did a much better job than this).

Lyrically, the song is kind of interesting. Not bad. Just stop yelling 'Reflections of yesterday!' so much. It sounds too absolute and kind of sad.

Music: C+
Lyrics: B

Not a bad song but not a great one either. Kind of odd-sounding. Has an awkward tone. Not a bad lyric though. I forgot to mention that one of the bass notes - the G to G Sharp procession - makes me think of the surprise on my old math teacher's face when I laughed at his annoyance of how two girls left the class procession on its way down to a computer lab in grade 11. Synesthesia can really make me think of some interesting things.

Justin C.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Selected Works from my Applied Storytelling Theory Folder

In my second term of college I had a class called 'Applied Storytelling.' It does sound quite similar to the plain Storytelling Theory class I had in first term, but the difference appears to be in that it was practical - applied - and not theory - a lot of talking and thinking.

We did the same exact thing in this class, though. We read short stories, then wrote our own based on criteria determined by our professor, who was the exact same one from the previous class. And it occurred to me that it might be a neat idea to do another entry in which I showcase some of the stories I actually wrote.

So here's part II in the whole matter - my selected works from Applied Storytelling theory.

1. 'Running away' story
Not something I was really interested in writing since a piece on running away is so common these days and I've read enough of them, we all had to write a short story based on this theme.

It was easier to leave while everyone was still asleep. The house was quiet.
I’d had enough. No more. If it meant so little to them, I wasn’t going to bother. Or be a bother, rather. That’s how it seemed.
            My life in this household had never been fair to me. In my eyes people cared more about their own endeavours than about anything else. Whenever I needed anything they’d tell me to stop complaining. My older brother, who was always arrogant, never listened to a word I said without telling me what was wrong with it and me, and always concluded I was an annoying complainer who had nothing better to do but bring people down. Whenever I told my father my brother did something to hurt my feelings, he’d dismiss me with the “stop complaining” bit and then my brother would come down on me and tell me he “didn’t like it when I did that” with a cross voice, as if, just for him, that was a blatant offence against his rule, which didn’t really exist.
            If I was such a stupid negative bother who’s needs accounted for as needless complaining, then they weren’t a family that could provide for me. There was absolutely no nourishment or care at this place. Granted I could get things on my own and provide for myself, but if my feelings were hurt or if something bad happened to me, they’d just dismiss it as usual. I always felt extremely small in a household of people who had no capacity for making someone feel better if they got hurt. And lots of capacity for dismissal and putting one down.
            Anyway, that’s the main reason for my departure. I’m not a stupid little kid anymore, not someone who could be, with an annoyed huff, moved out of the way like I normally was in this family. Because I’m not so helpless and sad that suicide would be entertaining, I’m getting away. If I were of age I’d get myself emancipated. They would probably take delight in the idea. But the circumstances being what they are as I’m 13, this is what I’m forced to do.
            I crept down the hall, as silent as possible. The floor, while carpeted, did creak in some places, but I knew where those were well enough to avoid them or step on them gently. After reaching the stairs, I got onto the banister and went down by inserting my feet in between the poles, because they didn’t loudly protest like the stairs did. I climbed over the railing near the bottom, stepped across the desk on the other side, and let myself quietly onto the floor. My destination was the basement, where there was a door that let to steps outside.
            After unlocking the door but arranging it so the lock would fall into place after it was closed, I stepped outside and closed it. It was a mild spring night. My departure was so far successful – my brother was still likely tangled up in his specially-made comforters in his narcissistically-decorated bedroom, and my parents were still wrapped around each other in their own bed. I remember walking in on them once while they were asleep, and it was practically disgusting. How many adults sleep nude these days? Man.
            My destination was a friend’s house. He and I had been planning this for a week. He knew of my situation, and he hadn’t denounced it as useless words of complaint – he’d seen is as a real situation that wasn’t fair or liveable, so he’d agreed to let me sleep at his house for awhile. His parents didn’t know – though, they were quite nice to me – but I would be very discreet. I would be sleeping in his basement.
            I trekked across the neighbourhood streets, which were mostly empty at this time of night. As it was quarter to one am, it was perfect. It would only take ten minutes to get to Leonard’s house. He would be waiting for me there. I didn’t have my bicycle with me, as his parents would notice its sudden appearance and get suspicious. Maybe once or twice I could pretend I left it there, but the ruse wouldn’t last long. I just had to live without it, or use his bike.
            Getting there, I saw a dimly lit main floor window. He was expecting me. I quietly crossed his lawn and as I approached, a door opened a crack.
            “Yeah, Leonard. It’s me.”
            The door opened more and I let myself in.
            “Welcome,” he whispered. “Guest suite is in the basement, follow me.”
            We quietly walked throughout the living room to the kitchen, where the stairs to the basement were located. Lights were already on down there, and a room with an open doorway was waiting. We entered the basement and crept into the room, where a bed with a night table sat, and I put my things down.
            “Well, there you are,” my friend said with a slightly more audible voice. “I’ll be upstairs in my room. Tomorrow I’ll come down and get you some breakfast, though it might be after our breakfast because of, you know, my parents and all.”
            “Yeah, of course,” I said reassuringly. “Thanks for this Leonard. I’m really happy and excited to get away from there.”
            “No problem. Have a good sleep and I’ll be here in the morning. Night.”
            After he crept back upstairs and I’d closed the door, I got into the bed and made myself comfortable. I couldn’t unpack anything because I didn’t really have much to begin with, but I also didn’t want to make this place home because I couldn’t leave a mark of my presence anywhere. From now on I was the itinerant traveller, and I never stayed anywhere or made anything proper home until I eventually got a job, made money, emancipated myself, and bought my own place. For now this was all there was to do. Maybe this weekend I could arrange a “legitimate” sleepover with another friend? With their parents knowing I was there, all innocent? That’s an idea. Anyway. . .
            I went off to sleep with a feeling of adventure and sense of freedom from that family. It was good.

            I was woken up the next morning by Leanard, who had come down after his family ate breakfast.
            “I had to wait until everyone was out of the kitchen before I could get any food, so I’m sorry for the wait,” he said.
            “That’s perfectly fine,” I relented, knowing he had to be careful. “I’m glad you weren’t caught, really, and that’s what counts.
            We left for school that day. I noticed my older brother in the halls but I didn’t go near him nor give him any reason for my existence. All was well. Even classes went well, when they were usually boring. Maybe the lack of my family was part of my feeling better? Probably.
            After school I spent as much time outside as possible. The problem was getting into Leonard’s house without having to leave. Most of the afternoon was spent with Leonard and I devising a way to have me leave his house, then sneak me back in after. I couldn’t necessarily stay out all night until his parents fell asleep.
            I left his house after they had dinner (I was invited so I ate at the table). Then an hour later, Leonard let me back in through the kitchen door and we crept downstairs while his parents and sister were watching TV in the living room.
            “I’ve convinced my parents that I’m sleeping downstairs from now on,” he told me. I was surprised.
            “Why? Now they have a reason to come downstairs when I’m there.”
            “Sure, but I have a reason for going downstairs all the time – my room’s now down there.”
            “Oh. But, they...this is weird. We’ve got both the pros and cons right in front of us.”
            “And besides, they won’t go into my room when I’m in there unless I invite them.”
            “But what if they see me?”
            “They won’t.”
            “So where are you sleeping then?”
            He sighed. “I’ll have to sleep in your room with you.”
            “Oh, no. Not in bed with me.”
            “No, no. I’ll be on the floor. We’ll take turns.”
            “Are you sure?”
            “Yeah, I’m sure.”
            So it was that night that I slept on the floor beside the bed, away from the door, that we were still successful in our ruse. I don’t know if my parents and family knew of my disappearance yet, and if they did, they’d probably just be annoyed, and strictly annoyed at me. Where have I gotten to now? That kind of thing.
            Five minutes after the light was turned off, I heard someone come downstairs to the basement.
            “Leonard? Where’s that book you took from me?” It sounded like a girl.
            Before I knew it, she’d appeared at the doorway. I froze under the covers next to the bed. Luckily, I was hidden from the doorway.
            “Lisa, you know I wouldn’t have it here. It’s in my room upstairs.” He sounded annoyed.
            “Well then can I search it?”
            “Knock yourself out. And please don’t come down here at night again like that, you startled me.”
            Me as well, no doubt.
            “Okay.” She disappeared and retreated back up the stairs.
            “That was a close call,” Leonard breathed.
            “Sure,” I agreed.
            We spent the next few hours tossing and turning before falling asleep.

2. The Children's Story
Again, not something I'm usually prone to write. I didn't like doing that exercise, and what I did end up writing probably isn't perfectly suitable for a child any younger than nine years old to read. Some words I used (like 'craftsmanship') are likely too big for a young child to read or pronounce, and the Madness/In the City/Michael Caine references I based it on wouldn't be subject for anyone, let alone a child, to notice. But here it is anyway:

In The City

Page 1: In the city was where Nelson lived
In a real house, not an apartment block

Page 2: Often he would play with his friends in the street
Sometimes, they’d go far up into his tree

Page 3: For in his tree he had a marvellous tree-house
It was built with excellent craftsmanship by his older brother.

Page 4: Sometimes his older brother would be around
To cavort, and jump, and run up aground.

Page 5: They would always have fun with his older brother
He’d always find time to make their weekends special.

Page 6: One Saturday, with the sun high in the sky
Nelson and his brother were out playing spies

Page 7: Around the bend they peered through some shrubs
Said Nelson, “We’ve got him, he’s playing with those grubs!”

Page 8: Said the older brother, “Let’s get him!”
And off they captured good neighbour Nick

Page 9: And up to the tree-house they climbed and scaled
The interrogation was to begin before lunch went stale

Page 10: Said Nick with exasperation as they questioned him,
“You’ve got the wrong person, I’m not Michael Caine!”

Page 11: “But Michael Caine isn’t who he is,” claimed Nelson with confidence.
“He’s actually someone named Maurice.”
Added the older brother, “Maurice J. Micklewhite.”
Nick looked at him. “You mean that guy mentioned in that song named for him?”
“Yes,” affirmed Nelson. “In the opening credits.”

Page 12: “But alas,” cried Nick, “you’ve found the hint. The problem is I’m not him.”
“Who is he then,” the two brothers questioned.
“He’s on your record, singing his name” said Nick adamantly, for there was nothing else to question.

Page 13: And so the three, after their game of spying
Went inside to listen to the record.
And to their delight and their success
Michael Caine proclaimed his identity.

Page 14: “Well now, the mystery is solved,” pronounced Nelson
“We know he’s there to listen to again and again!”

Note: 'Nelson' is the name of my younger half-brother, and he does have a neighbor friend named Nick. The whole interrogation was based around the confusion of the real name of Michael Caine, the British actor, who uses his proper name - Maurice J. Micklewhite - when not working in his capabilities as an actor. It also refers to the music video of the Madness single named after this actor (and the record, Keep Moving, on which this song also appears) and the fact that at the beginning of the video, in the opening credits, it says 'A Maurice J. Micklewhite production.' Michael Caine himself also provided vocals (simply saying his name) which is also mentioned in this story.

No normal, everyday kid (or world-wise adult) would be able to see that, unless they loved second-wave ska bands as teenagers in 1980s Britain.

3. 'Love Letter based on a synesthetic lover'
Much more fun and interesting, the task was to write a love letter based on someone with a particular interest or hobby or occupation, and I asked if I could write mine based on synesthesia. I've written on here how synesthesia can affect how I feel toward someone (take all those bloody posts on the song 'In the City' for a glaring example) and this was a great opportunity.

Your warm smile, that wonderful personality, it’s all amazing. It brings to mind thoughts of wonderful blue, white, and hints of green. My feelings and enthusiasm for you are greatly amplified when I hear particular songs and certain instruments within that make these images and abstracts flourish, and you come to mind. Not to say that they are the only sources for my interest. They just help greatly. Amid the personalities that I conjure up with these textures and colors and shapes, yours renders the most and the best, it virtually shines. In a world that tends to be filled with grey and shallowness, this world of bright color and the fact that you are desirable to me as well as deep and wonderfully ebullient alleviates that wonderfully and only helps everything along in life. When I think of you, I see the colors and textures and feel one hundred percent ebullient myself, and everything seems eternally bright and wonderful. I want to love life.

I would include a fourth story, but unfortunately, the subject matter is quite inappropriate. Not in a violent or ignorant or erotic way, the timing is just bad, and even if the timing were good, I think it would be too much to certain people who could read it. I'd written it in the winter and early spring (like all of these) and it concerned someone named Ian who travels to a particular western Canadian city to meet a girl in surprise after she got off school. They're both genuinely happy to see each other and...anyway, however warm or delightful it sounds, it currently isn't appropriate. I don't think so anyway.

Had I ever started or finished any of the other assignments and stories, I would have more, but I'd really gotten sluggish that second term. Hope these are enjoyable nonetheless.

Justin C.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

How the Dinosaurs went extinct, with a bit of Alcoholics Anonymous Thrown in

Every Wednesday or Thursday, my grade seven English class while I was at Sir Winston Churchill had a combined group of students instead of just our class. I always disliked this arrangement.

Desks were overcrowded, it felt like. Too many people. Too many annoying people.

But one class was quite interesting. Very much so. Our English teacher, Ms. Ashton - who was actually English - usually spent the period teaching the aforementioned subject quite expertly. It was her who told me what a house 'in the middle of a street' meant when I was still quite crazy about the song 'Our House' (it was the early 2000s. Madness was fairly new to me at the time). Our English classes were usually quite informative.

Except one particular period when all we talked about where how the dinosaurs were annihilated.

It was one of those combined periods. I was normally zoned out on such an occasion with the annoying people making annoying sounds with their gum chewing all around me. Eventually I noticed the diagrams of the Earth in relation to the meteor in space on the blackboard, the talk of how it happened, and the explanations of all the known knowledge of how the meteor impacted, and I came to my senses and I realized what was going on here.

It turned out to be a much more fun period than usual. I didn't take part very much, but it was cool and interesting and not English-related. Not at all.

The same thing would happen again when I was in grade 11 at this particular high school mentioned too often around here. I had a teacher named MacGregor, and the whole class was present.

I don't know how it happened. I had zoned out again. But about twenty minutes into class, I'd realized we weren't talking at all about Mac Beth or Shakespeare or anything to do with English literature. Instead, to my subtle amusement, the whole class was discussing particular kinds of vehicle collisions they'd heard about, and how it had almost always been influenced by alcohol.

MacGregor was enthusiastically discussing the semantics of how a crash might occur with a group of the students. I attentively (for the first time) listened. Again, it was all interesting. Everyone was buzzing with sophisticated conversation about the matter. I even asked a few questions myself, as question-asking was apparent in the whole thing.

"Ms. MacGregor, what about what would happen to the edge of the door in such a forceful impact? I was wondering about the force and weight plus the momentum ratios all involved."

That really got them going again.

About three minutes before the bell rang, our teacher had remembered what we really had to do (due to us being quite behind in it) and as we began on it, the bell surely rang.

It's all interesting to think about. English class in middle school had always been about forty minutes long, so it wasn't hard to keep up the discussion before reverting to boring old English. In high school, though, you have seventy-five minutes - an hour plus a quarter - to keep going. Remarkably, I remember our teacher would later reflect on the whole class conversation with this mindset: "It was the best talk we had. Everyone was involved. I wish we could have another one so successful."

We never did. We just kept plugging along with the motivations and words and meanings of the works of the Bard. That's not interesting enough to talk about it so enthusiastically.

Not with today's teenagers, I guess. Having simulated AA meetings/driving school seminars really work though.

Justin C.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

No Drops!

This is based on a very small thing, but I find it funny nevertheless. I don't blame you if you read this and wonder what the point of my writing it was - but like I have pointed out before, I do have an odd sense of humor and some things one might find odd, I end up talking about. Like how the door opened.

I cannot stand things touching my eyes. I can't touch them with my fingers, I can't open them underwater. Only my eyelids and socket can touch them, but of course I can't feel my own eyeball within and my eye can't feel the enclosed space of flesh it sits in.

Therefore, I cannot stand eye drops. Getting them is extremely uncomfortable for me and it's extremely hard.

This begins on the first morning of my trip to a family cottage. It was just after breakfast, and my eyes had gotten itchy. My grandfather noticed this and suggested I had eye-allergies, and recommended eye drops.

I have to say that I personally doubt I have any allergies, but of course I can be wrong. I just don't like to think so. And it's only been a few weeks that my eyes have been this way. They get itchy sometimes, or for some reason I feel like rubbing them, making them itchy and like something is stuck in them.

Before I knew it, my grandpa was heading inside the cottage from the screened in porch area to get his eye drops. I ran.

I ended up spending about three minutes under the wraparound deck. Rising again out from underneath, I walked onto the deck near the cottage.

Not a minute later, the front door opened. This is the interesting part: It did not just open. It opened with a force and sound of purpose, expectation, suddenness, and like the one opening it had a strong will to get outside for a big, well-known reason.

I just knew it was my grandpa, come outside to administer his eye drops to me. I quickly walked beyond the corner of the building, but he obviously knew I was there, or nearby.

"Justin. Just the person I was looking for."

How could he have found me? Alright, that's a ludicrous question, to the point of it being pretty unnecessary to point out. The cottage has tall, wide windows along the side of the living room wall looking out onto the deck, one window after the other, spanning the whole west wall of the living room. The 78-year old man could have had no trouble glancing through any one of them while walking through the living room, or even being in the kitchen looking into the adjacent living room towards the windows. He could even be ensconced in the dining room where he could just look up beyond the banister of the stairs to spot me conspicuously standing around on the deck outside the living room beyond. If he were on the second floor, same thing. Up in the third-floor loft - same thing. Just look down into the living room and through the windows. So conspicuous.

But man, the door opening - it was almost like a sort of action film where one is pursued by an evil force, and just as they are retreating down the hallway of the huge edifice the good guys are trapped in, it thrusts open a door nearby with force, purpose, menace, and an evil deed on its mind just as they are about to round a corner out of sight.

Good ol' grandpa and his eye drops.

Not long after, I had managed to get away without having them. I was squirming in the lounge chair on the deck as he tried to keep my eye pried open, before backing off when I told him the sky was too bright to look at wide-eyed. It was eight in the morning. And yes, it was too bright. I won't lie. It wasn't an excuse.

It really wasn't. I was perched backwards on a lounge chair looking up. He missed my eye the first time. He had mercy.

Thank god for that.

Justin C.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Exchange the Fields for the Hills

I think this will have been the last time I spend my Canada Day here in a park in Barrhaven.

It was the third consecutive time I went to Clarke Fields to see what was happening there for Canada Day, since 2008.

The reason I started doing Canada Day there was because at first I wanted to experience something celebrated in Barrhaven for the first time. As it was my third year there, the only community event I'd been to was this public outdoor movie showing with my old, four-years my junior friend Jahdel. We didn't even watch the movie, which was in Rosetta Park in the newer side of the neighborhood - they were showcasing The Incredibles, and my fourteen-year-old palate at the time wasn't really for it (this was 2005).

Another, probably more larger and significant reason was my memories of getting downtown on public transit (my mother and I have never owned our own vehicle before). When we lived on Meadowlands in Parkwood Hills it was easier but the memories are still crazy. I was a young child and we'd be getting on an 86 on Meadowlands in the late afternoon. The quiet ride only lasted five minutes as the bus rapidly filled up with teenagers and young adults, all clearly half-drunk, loud and rambunctious. One great memory was when we were heading north up Fisher Avenue on the 86 once when I was maybe nine or ten. The bus was overcrowded, and everyone, around the ages of 18 and 25, were being loud, impulsive, and they all had a beer bottle in their hands.
The great event in this memory though was this: We were squeezed near the rear of the bus, in the aisle. In the back, the fun adolescents had decided a way to celebrate Canada Day and the bus ride there was the hold one of them down while the other strips them naked. I only saw as one of the crazy-looking guys pulled the other's shoes off. My mother was disgusted as anyone would be, later remarking how the guy danced around everywhere for his clothes, bumping into us at one point.

Being downtown was alright though. It was just the bus ride home again.

Now in Barrhaven, the ride there would be a lot longer. We went to the Hill a few more times, the one I remember was in either 2005 or 2006. We were driven in a car to Baseline Station with that aforementioned friend of mine, Jahdel, then we took a bus the rest of the way. People weren't nearly so ridiculous but they were still loud. We'd gone to Major's Hill Park that year, and managing to get through crowds was almost impossible and took forever, and that was when I'd only just decided to get lemonade, then unwisely take the large crowded way back.

The fireworks and atmosphere was pretty amazing though, and wouldn't have been surprised if the bangs had gone as far as my old neighborhood of Parkwood Hills.

So in 2008 we went to Clarke Fields Park instead.

Up till yesterday, I'd maintained that going here was simply just a lot easier, more low-key, and not as thunderous or crazy or such a big deal as Parliament Hill or Major's Hill Park or anywhere on Wellington Street was. I could ride my bike - down a bike path - almost the whole way.

The problem now though is the fact that it's grown too old and too boring for me in only three years.

The fact remains it's just a little community event sponsored and funded by local businesses, with a little main stage for bands to play on, a fun park for children, and generally large open spaces to relax and watch the entertainment on the stage. The fireworks are the last climax (as they would be) but they aren't nearly as thunderous or huge as the ones downtown. The people that go there are small and growing families of young children who walk around everywhere and bring lawn chairs and seats.
This would have been the place for me as a child, not a bus full of drunken adolescents teetering around pulling each other's clothes off. But this wouldn't be the place for me at the same age as those adolescents. Not that I would spend a bus ride consuming alcohol and doing things I wouldn't normally ever do, but I would find the entertainment and fun and spectacle and big-scale of everything downtown a lot more stimulating and fun for me. It's like I've reversed - going downtown as a kid and experiencing that, then changing to the lower-key family event in a local park, catered to children and families. I'm too old for it.

This year, I went to the park again. I went for a first time just to see what was happening. Some local band were doing soundchecks. I stayed and stared at them for ten minutes then went back home.

Half an hour after dinner, I went again, just to see how it was going. I arrived just as the councilor of this ward, Barrhaven, Jan Harder, was addressing the crowd on the event.
The only problem I found with her speech was her remark after explaining that Barrhaven was the reason people liked living in Ottawa: "That's my neighborhood!"
To me it sounds like a more self-boosting remark. Had she said 'that's our neighborhood,' she would have appropriately included us as a reason for why living here is great, not the fact that she's councilor of it, which is what it implied to me. We don't make up the equation, she does all the work. If Barrhaven had no residents, it wouldn't matter. She runs it.

I left again after standing ramrod straight for another fifteen minutes, looking around, staring, not doing anything but standing there. There really wasn't much else to do. I didn't have a seat or a blanket to lay on. I had a camera around my neck, a tripod in my hand and my bike next to me. Had I had any friends or someone to have known at least, I could have joined them, or even gone downtown with them, which is why I declined going downtown this year: I'd be going with my mother, again, and I only wanted to do it if I'd been invited with a friend, or friends, this time. Because that's impossible, Clarke Fields it was.

I left after the disco band started going. I really wasn't interested. I'd heard all of their songs last year and on the radio or TV.

Finally I came back for the last time of the day - when the fireworks were to go off. My main interest was capturing long exposures of them and the crowd and park. For the first time in my three years of going and trying to take photos, it worked perfectly.
They're here.

I'm going downtown next year. I'll just have to go with my mother I guess. Unless I actually make some friends in the 365 days that pass in between. I can only hope and try my best. Clarke Fields has gotten too boring and small and low-key for me. Besides, I bet I can take some pretty cool long exposures at Parliament Hill or Majors Hill Park. That would be much more interesting.

Justin C.