The Edmonton Fringe Festival starts in two days, and for the second year in a row I’m not involved. After nearly a decade of volunteering, and my Augusts revolving around volunteer coordination, performances, street acts, greasy food, long August evenings on site, and thousands upon thousands of photographs I bowed out to pursue other things at the end of the 2012 show. That was two years ago. A little piece of me misses it, but not enough yet to yearn to jump back in or fight for a spot back on the team. In the years since I realize that when I volunteer I’d rather be a grunt than a manager: leave that coordination and “leadership” to the young-uppers who need the experience for their resumes. But hopefully I’ll at least get to a show or two while it’s on.
A reloaded post is a short-and-sweet collection of the (sometimes-interlinked) randomness from my recent life, universe and everything else in between. They would be more detailed but they tend to be events lacking in either (a) details or (b) depth… or in the time to more fully record them. Enjoy.
…moments are lost, days go on, and while old things end, new things begin…
It’s odd. Summer creeps a little bit closer to over-ness and things just sort of… well… wrap up. It’s been a weekend of lost things and last things, things gone sideways and things gone to a state of being over. I’m feeling a little bit sad, but a little bit lighter too.
At work we’ve had a couple of young guys working with us through the co-op program for the last four months. The interesting thing (neither bad nor particularly good, either) about co-op students is that — for me… now, at least — they continually remind me that I’m getting older. Two guys in their early twenties, late-teens, whatever studying, traveling the world in search of an education, and stepping into a job for a few months: I used to do that, didn’t I? They finished up on Friday, we all went for lunch, and while the rest of us wander back to work on this particular Monday, trudging back into the grind after just another weekend, I can’t help but be reminded by two empty cubicles that they are off to other interesting adventures. I doubt they are reading this, but… er, good luck, guys!
We dragged my folks to the Fringe on Saturday to use up a few more of the comp tickets that I earn each year for volunteering. For the first round, the girls went to a kids puppet show of some sort while dad and I had tickets to a… well, let’s call it a kind of modern clown show. The clown show started out al-right but then built to an abrupt and (literally) “crappy” conclusion — as one review put it. Dad and I stopped at the beer tent to cleanse our brains from the memory of that show and met back up with the girls. Later, my parents went off to another ‘grown-up’ show while Claire and I went to watch some young improvisor comedy — which went mostly over her head — and Karin off to yet a different one. Those were less eventful, and after re-grouping we went off-site for supper.
I was back again on-site on Sunday to volunteer, while Karin and Claire went to one last show… a show they stated was one of their favorites from the whole festival, so all-in-all: win! I spent much of my shift frantically catching up on the tagging, export, and uploads that needed to be done before we lost access to the computer and the sixty-six hundred photos the team captured over the course of the week. There was some clean up of our ‘office’ and some inventory and packing to do, then we folded it all down, stored it neatly against one wall, and wandered back to the cars. And that was… well, that was that. Done. Over. Last fringe, last shift… and onto other things.
Who would have thought running would be so political?
I ran about twelve klicks with my group on Sunday morning and while this is notable for a few reasons, the most interesting reason in the context of this post is the stupid-drama-politics evolving within said group. See, the clinic is over. The instuctors have gone back to the other store where they normally train. And the de-facto social organizers who “run” our group have stepped back in to fill the vacuum… and those folks — well, most of us actually, but that’s a different story — don’t get along with the store manager (in a very serious way.) So, at least as of yesterday, it would seem that our little group — a dozen or so runners — has gone slightly renegade, defiantly inching away and forming our own little running collective near the store, but (or so we were told) not with it. Whatever, I guess? More details are sure to follow here as this silliness develops. Who would have thought running would be so political?
A (Short) Ode to Daycare
Earlier this morning I did the regular, usual and routine drop off of Claire at her daycare. I should say it was almost regular, usual and routine. It was almost regular, usual and routine because today is — was — will be — her very last day at daycare… or, at least going to that particular daycare. She is moving into the out-of-school care program at her new kindergarten next week (after an upcoming week of vacation at home with her mom!) The new care program is in the same building with her kindergarten, which means we drop her off in one spot, pick her up in the same spot… but over the course of the day they take her where she needs to be, feed her, teach her, and all that fun stuff. Still, the point of this particular note is that at about four o’clock today another phase in her life, that going-to-daycare phase, is over. *sniff*
And thus… moments are lost, days go on, and while old things end, new things… hopefully… begin anew.
…and I’m sitting here, quasi-trapped inside the volunteer headquarters which is largely due to the rain, but also due to other minor factors such as my responsibility to stay nearby for my volunteers, the unwillingness to have my camera soaked and (most acutely) my lack of a jacket. It also doesn’t hurt that there is an abundant quantity of free food nearby.
Half done THIS shift, which is half-way through shift of my commitment: the third of five.
I had been here all of an hour — checked in, strolled through the grounds, primed my camera and chatted with some random folks — before I made my way over to the team leader meeting a few dozen steps out the door of VHQ.
It would have been hard to miss the fact that the sky was green.
Five minutes later, trapped in the basement of Orange Hall in a meeting the skies opened. Another team leader came rushing down the stairs with a handful of hailstones the size and look of restaurant ice-cubes.
The result, a soaked evening at the fringe: Enjoy some (of my) photos of the rain-soaked site, posted because I’m a little bored, here at my volunteer workstation… sorting… uploading… tagging…
But now, I suppose I should do some more work…
This year’s Fringe is currently rolling into its sixth day, but for whatever odd circumstance of scheduling my first volunteer shift was not until today. It starts sometime later this afternoon; after I finish my lunch break, after I find my way back to my car, and after I make my way to the grounds.
I haven’t told many people this (with the small exception of those people who actually need to know) but after this, my eighth year of volunteering for the multimedia team, I’m hanging up my photographer’s pass and moving on. What starts later today (for me) and ends sometime on Sunday evening is my last year volunteering with this organization… at least for a while.
As with all these types of transitions, I’ll try my best to be politik and avoid some of the specifics, frustrations and temptations to fling mud that always — invariably, inevitabally, unwaveringly — follows eight years of entrenchment in any position. Instead, I’ll suggest that as I always have tried and succeeded at coping with this kind of drama in years past, and I would have again this year… next year… and the years after that as well, there were some other more positive reasons to bow out gracefully at the end of this season.
As we were reminded while attending Claire’s kindergarten orientation last night, my daughter starts school in two weeks from today. Summer and childhood, it would seem, are in transition, and subsequently Augusts — this, next, and for the next twelve years — just got a lot more precious. Giving up August and rare chunks of holiday time up to various meetings and shifts and… well, it just got old real quickly.
Karin and I were married in August of 2003. Next August is our tenth anniversary. Next August, as tradition might suggest, something special is in order. Begging the night off once again to wander around Whyte Avenue in anticipation of a fancy dinner is great for anniversaries three through nine… but ten? Ten might require some more planning.
And so on.
In a couple hours I’ll be on site once again, revving up for the first (of my last) shift(s) and gleefully snapping photos, chatting with dozens of familiar peoples, and basking in the standard Fringe fare that’s become so routine for so many years. Then in a few more days… and then it will be done. And I will be on to something else, peppered with scattered regrets, pluck full of memories, and most certainly back to watch some shows as the years press on.
A reloaded post is a quick-clipped summary of a bunch of small things from the past few days. I want to write them down, but I am either lacking in (a) details or (b) time. That’s just how it goes sometimes. Enjoy.
Thursday was Karin and my ninth anniversary. The annual deal with that seems to be (a) finding someplace for our daughter to be, this year it’s at a weekend retreat with Grandma, (b) making our way to the vicinity of Whyte Avenue, the Fringe, and (c) spending waaaay too much money on a nice dinner. This year we made reservations at Culina in Old Strathcona, ordered a massive appetizer, massive meals, and a decedant dessert… then rolled home and fell asleep on the couch. See what nine years of marriage does to you?
I took the train to the North end of the city after work last night, immediately after work in an effort to not only avoid the crowds starting to loom large for the Metallica concert, but to (more importantly) pick up my race package — you know: shirt, bib number, pace band, maps, and the other various swag they throw in — at the Northlands pavillions. I was there five minutes before they opened, but not even close to first in line, and had a nice little chat with a guy running his first marathon tomorrow… by which I mean he has never run a marathon, ever, not even in training. I wished him well, grabbed my gear, talked to some other guy at a booth long enough to get a free soccer ball (?) and was back on the train home and off to…
Daughter-Less & Fringing
One of the advantages of volunteering with the Fringe is the free tickets. I get free tickets. And, seeing as Claire is off at grandmas (see above) for a weekend of waking HER up at five-thirty in the morning, we got a pile of those aforementioned free tickets and started some Fringing before the bulk of my shifts actually kick in. We saw a nifty little play out of New York last night, and have a couple more on standby for this afternoon. Of course, you can’t go to the Fringe and not hit Whyte for dinner again, so we hit up O’Byrne’s for some pub food and beers before heading home and… falling asleep on the couch again. *sigh*
Of course, all this running about and such has left me pretty much in low-priority mode for photography. Pretty much this means I’ve been finding myself late into the evening the last couple nights thinking “oh, crap… I haven’t done my daily photo” and pondering the options of (a) wait until I get home and take another boring shot of the dog alseep on the couch, or (b) use my the camera on my phone and see what comes out. I’ve been opting for choice “b” and the results have been mixed. But, hey… at least you’re getting a photo.
Claire loved it. (That should be review enough, no?)
Thanks to volunteering with the Edmonton Fringe each summer I occasionally get offered comp tickets to their regular season shows. This is probably my favorite perk, if only because the few comp tickets I manage to make use of over the summer festival sort of all blur together with the photography and the buskers and the people and… yeah. Let’s just say that an evening out with my wife and daughter is a nice late-October treat.
As usual, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The Fringe offers a real-to-honest mixed bag of performance, and rightly so: that’s their role in the theatre community. In this way the Fringe tends to do theatre that is a little less polished than what we might see with our Citadel seasons tickets, and definitely less polished than those three-hour-long, hundred-and-fifty-dollar-a-seat traveling musicals that Karin loves and occasionally gobbles up. But polish doesn’t always equate to a better play. It could just mean there was more money behind it.
Pinocchio was more polished than I was expecting. That’s a good thing.
Pinocchio, tied into the Fringe Theatre group somehow (perhaps only as venue, I don’t know how that works) was put on by the Alberta Opera. So, you knew there was going to be some singing, and presumably good singing. The play, something of a musical cross-adaptation of some various other Pinocchio stories I’ve seen via the various chidren’s storybooks that appear at our house from the library and — of course — a dabbling of that Disney story with which we’re all familiar, was very much a musical. The hour seemed to contain a lot of singing — good singing — of songs with recurring melodies and themes, and bits of the story tossed in. The music wasn’t just an afterthought, how about that?
The costumes too brought a splash of colour to the dark stage and familiar story. And since I barely notice fashion on a good day, that’s all I’m going to trouble you with regarding discussion stage fashions — other than perhaps to say that the various characters — humans, animals and puppets — are quite delightful, and one of the things we talked about a lot on the way home.
One tweak that I might suggest — and maybe I’m just sensitive because I took a squirmy four-year old to the performance — is the dialogue. Maybe this wasn’t intended as a young-young kid’s play, but between a big vocabulary, the singing, and the (well-performed and humourous) accents, the story got a little tricky to follow for Claire, and I found myself answering her whispering questions more than once during the show. But then, maybe she’s not the taget audience, because that eight(ish) year old girl in front of us loved the show too and laughed wildly at the acrobatic dialog.
I’m not a theatre critic. I’m not trying to be. Over the course of any given year we go to a lot of theatre it seems. And I’ve got a fairly strong sense of what I like and what I don’t. A good indication is — sitting in a warm, dark theatre chair after a long week — how hard I need to struggle to stay awake to see the end. (Jeez, I’m getting old or something!) I liked Pinocchio. And I had no trouble staying awake. It was worth our time and something I would have, had I paid for the tix, walked away from satisfied… not least of all because I could barely contain the bubbling joy of my daughter at having LOVED the play. (See, I told you that was review enough, didn’t I?)
Pinocchio is at the Westbury Theatre, TransAlta Arts Barns, October 27 – November 4, 2011 and is also available as a traveling production for schools.
…because I’m gonna be here ALL DAY…
If you’re just stumbling on this post, you might want to start at the bottom. It was my meager attempt at a live blog for my last day at this year’s Edmonton Fringe Festival… and it is in reverse chronological order. Enjoy.
Another awesome performance of DieNasty over, and we’re back in the car on our way home. Another Fringe done… for me at least. Sigh… and now back to reality.
In. A pile of licorice on Karin’s lap. Settlers game still unresolved. Lady Gaga blaring from the speakers. This is likely my last update until after the show. A full house tonight tho.
Line is getting lots longer. Some guy just stood up on a light post and begged someone to sell him their tickets to the show… something about being in town for only one night, aspiring actor, son never having see it before… I think someone gave up their tix. Couldn’t see from where we’re sitting on the ground here.
Less than an hour — but almost an hour — until show number two starts and were sitting on the ground, in line, playing pass-and-play Settlers of Catan on Karin’s iPhone. Now who’s hardcore? Still don’t know who’s winning the game yet, tho…
Less than fifteen minutes later we’re tucked away in the back corner of the beer garden. Karin is guzzling a Big Rock Honey Brown. I’ve got myself a grasshopper. Some of the actors for our upcoming show are sitting nearby. Funny, that.
Back on site and Karin is standing in line for a chocolate coconut bliss cupcake from the cupcake stand. People are already in line for DieNasty a few feet away from me. That’s hardcore.
Stopped for sushi at Maki Maki Japanese Restaurant and Lounge, ordering three tasty rolls to share: a rainbow roll, a maki-maki roll, and a spicy tuna roll. Yum. After we pay the bill it will be back to the Fringe site to kill a couple hours until show number two: DieNasty.
Play one done, and we file out of the theatre.
It was dark and fun, the kind of fourth-wall-breaking, determinism versus free will kinda drama that I have a soft spot for… generally speaking.
Now off for dinner somewhere.
Fourth row. Woot! But turn up the A/C! Arg. It’s a little on the warm side already, and we’ve not even started yet. Warm and sitting always makes me sleepy. And dozing off during a play is so old-man-ish. I don’t want to be old-man-ish. But, here we go… (lights dimz)
Line up is only fifty or so people long so far. Lots of people in white shirts with the show logo on front. I must have missed the memo, me in my five year old volunteer shirt. How retro.
We get to be the two nerds playing on our cellphones while sitting in the grass waiting for the doors to open. Neither of us can remember what this play is even about, and I forgot my program at home.
On my way to meet Karin for show number one. Someone is going to punch me, walking and blogging from my phone. What a jerk I am, almost tripped over a little kid just now… stopping now.
Officially I’m done for the day — and for the Festival. Weird. It’s over (for me) once again. But we have show tix for tonight, and I’m still waiting in VHQ for Dave to relieve me. I did download and upload my Fringe Dads Theme into my Gallery while I’m waiting. Thirteen pictures in total (or at least 13 I want to share) so overall a successful photo expedition.
After the team leader meeting I did slip off to Starbucks for a second round. Don’t know how I’ll survive the evening otherwise.
Meeting over. Time for another few minutes of wandering before more volunteers show up. Sure is warm out today. Shoulda wore shorts, I think.
Waiting in the basement of Orange Hall for the daily team leader meeting. How do I always wind up volunteering to attend meetings?
Ran out and scored some kettle corn to much whilst sorting more photos. Wondering why there isn’t a true medium sized bag. The choice were (my interpretation) teeny-tiny, big-ass bag, or really-big-ass bag. I just got the big-ass bag, but it’s still too much. Guess I’ll be eating popcorn all day long.
I think I’ve managed to sort out our top twenty-five pics from yesterday. The marketing folks should be by any time to pick them up. CD… burning.
Found my way out for a wander AND managed to score some lunch. The spicy italian sausage booth gave me a buck off a spicy italian sausage for being a volunteer — which was very cool and very yummers.
Also managed to find a few more pics for my theme: Fringe Dads, celebrating the hard-working dads who spend the day at the Fringe with their kids, toting them around on their shoulders to experience some local culture. Very cool. If you’re wondering what I mean by my “theme” you need to read back a few posts and know that (a) I’ve been doing a ‘photo-a-day’ for all of August, each day on a theme and (b) as a team leader here for the multimedia team I don’t have a specific photo assignment, and am mostly here to manage other photographers, organize photos, and fill in the gaps. I pick a theme for each shift and try and find some photos to fill that. That’s all.
Two more volunteers have just checked in! And one of those was early. So it looks like I’m on a temporary reprieve and go grab some lunch and more pics — probably in that order.
On a quasi-interesting note, some random girl I’d never met just stopped by to drop off her friend’s pics. The girl was NOT a volunteer, but the friend is… one of our photographers The girl had just come from having her hair done up because — apparently — she’s getting married today. Nice friend, sending the bride to drop off your pictures to your volunteer gig! *smirk*
1) I decided on my theme for the day. I’m going to go for “Fringe Dads” which will largely encompass fathers carting their toddlers around on their shoulders, or hoisting their kids into the air to see performers. I have lots of fodder today: warm weather, mid-day on Saturday, lots of people. Ready… set…
2) I realized I forgot my spare battery plugged into the wall recharging at home. $#*%! And the only reason that is a problem is that the indicator on my camera started blinking low battery. That means I have about a hundred pics left… but that also means I ONLY have about a hundred pics left. Crap.
Duty calls. Just spent the last half hour locating a piece of OSX freeware to pull an accidentally deleted file from a volunteer’s 8 GB memory card. (It’s still scanning!) Don’t know if the photo is worth it yet. He says it is. I guess that’s the consequence of asking folks to cull their own photos before they check in — occasionally they delete something they shouldn’t. Sigh. All part of the job, I guess.
Loaned him my spare and sent him out again.
Ok, NOW I’m going out. Really. I need some lunch.
Technically I’m not supposed to have an opinion on such matters. As a volunteer I must caveat this quasi-endorsement by telling you that “all shows at the Fringe are worth watching” …to someone. But I gotta say, we caught performances of “Giant Invisible Robot” and “Boygroove” last night, and both were worth it. Awesome, both. Perfectly Fringey (is that a word yet?)
“Giant Invisible Robot” is held-over, by the way, for those who didn’t get their tix already. I think both are sold out for their current Fringe runs, tho.
Distracted by free donuts. Sigh. May as well wait, now.
By the way, if you do comment, reference the time-stamp you are replying to. It’s going to get confusing otherwise. Do something like @1146AM… it might help me keep track.
Photgrapher Numero Uno is out the door. I guess that gives me a few minutes to check out the weather before the second one shows up. Kerri staggered the scheduling this year so there isn’t a wave of people coming and or going at the same time, but it sure does make for a hectic day for me, running back and forth to check people in and out, download their pics, etc. Ah well.
I also wanted to say that I opted for the LARGE coffee this morning — woohoo Second Cup “Colombian Dark Roast” — but something tells me it might not be enough. It’s been a long week.
Sitting here at the Fringe in the VHQ waiting for my volunteers to arrive, and trying to think of something to write. I had the idea of maybe a live blog for today… especially since I’m going to be here for the next twelve hours, have access to a couple ways of updating, and I’m running low on photographic inspiration. So… WORDS!
Expect sporadic updates over the day. I’ll try for at least one per hour (to this post specifically) but that’s just a guess… not a promise. Comment to play along. Or come visit.
Another bunch of days shooting photos and another set of images to explain: the photo-per-day (un)project continues… and it’s getting really hard coming up with something new everyday to shoot.
If you paid any attention to the theme of this blog (as it currently looks, here, now in August 2011) you might have noticed that I have a think for silhouette these days. Yes, you can create them in PhotoShop, but occasionally I get an opportunity like this, the crisp clear shaddow of something recognizable against the backdrop of the setting sun. Pushing my image settings way up to maximum contrast and down to minimum saturation, my pics on the 11th popped right out of the camera just as you see them. These are unedited.
And now I just need to figure out some more ideas for the same. The problem is that you really do need a strong light source in the background — like the sun — and something absolutely recognizable by it’s silhouetted shape. I’m going to get bored of trees really fast, if you know what I mean.
a few days later, after spending my first couple days tramping around the Fringe, Claire was showing a particular curiosity about me taking so many photos — and wondering why I wasn’t taking her along with me to the Festival. She, after all, does have a camera, right? So, instead we went out for a walk with our cameras in our park. She stopped every few feet to take a picture of something silly — usually her feet. And overall, though she was incredibly awesome at playing along at being just like dad she unfortunately seems to delete most of her pics before I can ever look at them.
Luckily I saved a few of my own pics (of course) that, I think, adequately demonstrate her cuteness.
I was feeling like there wasn’t much hope for our standard bunch of shots, so — feeling all experimental — I tossed on my Cokin twinkle filter, the one I usually reserve for twinkly-belighted holiday photos, and wandered around in the raining, misty evening light. Something tells me that most of this is unusable for the Fringe itself (though one can never tell where their whims take them) but I thought the effort was worth the effort in the end, and out of about three hundred pics (mostly blurry because of the combination of low light and slow glass) a dozen or so I thought captured a bit of something.
I’ll leave it to personal taste to decide if the twinkle adds or detracts from the overall quality, but I kind of like them.
The dirty side of taking so many photos for a whole month is that those files need some TLC. But looking at the hard drive last night it was more of a WTF. There were fourteen gigabytes of images from August alone. Yes, 1-4: fourteen.
Guess what I spent three hours doing? One, backing up those thousands of photos across the wireless network onto my media server. Two, redundantly backing up my media server to my photo drive. And three, sitting in front of my computer babysitting the process, camera in hand, and snapping pics of my monitor, keyboard, et cetera.
It could be argued that I didn’t NEED to sit in front of the computer babaysitting a fourteen gigabyte network transfer, and that arguement would have a strong case in it’s favour. But then, I’d never really done computer screen or hardware macros before — or it’s beena while, anyhow — and I got kinda into it for about an hour. You can see the results for yourself.
With about ten or a dozen days left to go in August, it’s looking to be a busy couple of weeks. It’s my Friday off and I’m off to the Fringe again in less than an hour, maybe as soon as I hit publish on this post. And then same thing tomorrow. But then the subject matter dries up again — or at least falls back to the limits of my tiring imagination.
Let me know if there is something you want to see in images — either at the Fringe the next couple days, or in the coming weeks. I do like a challenge… or (un)challenge, as it were.
It’s that time again. Woot!
For the seventh year in a row — fourth as a team leader — the Edmonton Fringe Festival is once more in full swing and I’m primed with camera in hand to help with the whole multimedia-slash-photography thing. My first shift is on the morrow.
Given my role as a team leader I’m in the interesting position of not actually having a formal photography assignment like our other hard working volunteers — I don’t need to go out and capture one specific theme or set of images, as we enforce (however loosely) upon our crew. And that’s good. It really leaves me free to do two things: (a) fill gaps in our content and (b) wander the grounds and experiment with my camera. The latter has even more impact this year, not only because my shifts are weekend and evening shifts (unlike the dire collection of daytime stuff I did last year whilst quasi-employed) but I’m in the middle of my photography (un)project and prompted to do a little more experimenting than I otherwise might. Which is awesome. Cool. Excellent. FTW! I can hardly wait.
(It does mean I need to turn over those pics to the Fringe for use in something, whatever, who knows. But alas… I can still share a few with readers in my gallery. ‘Tis a hard bargain to be sure: photos for volunteer swag and free shows.)
So there it is: the challenge within a challenge. Thousands of urban festival-goers. Dozens of performers. The brisk evening air. Lights. Sounds. Colours. Art. Food. Stages. Streets. People everywhere. And I with my camera and lenses and hours worth of images to capture. I’ll need some focus, both literally and creatively.
Tell me then: what’s your idea? What should I capture? I have five shifts, so five themes — five challenges — are possible. Comment below. And, remember, if you happen to be going there yourself, too, snap along. I’ll post or link to your results and mine.