Monday, April 11, 2016

You Read The Words & They Sell You Life. They Sell Their Words, But It's All A Lie.

Awhile back, I put together a list of music documentaries that were among my favourites, and many of you chimed in with some of your choices. This time we're tackling the written word, musician-stylez.

I love to read. Always have. I usually have two or three books on the go at once - often one is a heavier, more immersive story, and another is a biography. Music biographies have long been my go-to for learning all the ins and outs of of my favourite musicians (and even some musicians I don't much care for), just to get the real story behind the tunes. Some of these have been eye-opening and amazing. Others have made me dislike the musician (I'm looking at you, Steven Adler).

Because I prefer stories written by the musicians themselves, this particular list is full of autobiographies.They aren't necessarily all my personal favourites, but stories I think are worth a read to music fans.

Without further ado, here are some books I think you should read:

Heart - Kicking and Dreaming: Any fan of Heart needs to dive headfirst into this one. Even if you're not a big fan, it's still a great story. It's written by both of the Wilson sisters, and gives an in-depth account of their lives and how they became what they are today. As I often find with biographies, there was just so much I didn't know. Kicking and Dreaming is a book that I'll read, re-read, and always dig.

Anthony Kiedis - Scar Tissue: Every once one awhile I mention this book to someone, and I tend to get one of two reactions. "I love that book!", or "I'm not a Chilli Peppers fan at all. They're awful.". Fair enough. And while I haven't bothered with RHCP past Californication, I'm still a fan of the older albums. But even if I wasn't, I would still enjoy this book. This guy has been through some stuff; most of the stories in these pages seem so unbelievable they couldn't possibly be true, and yet... they are. This is one that explains backstory to a lot of the songs I listened to growing up, and who they were really about. (Spoiler alert - "I Could Have Lied"? About Sinead O'Connor.)

Nikki Sixx - Heroin Diaries / Motley Crue - The Dirt: I put these two books together because I read them around the same time and some of the details have blurred into each other. Heroin Diaries was written by Nikki Sixx himself, while The Dirt was a firsthand account of their time as a band from each of their perspectives. (And before you ask, no - I haven't yet read Tommyland.) I'm a Nikki fan myself, but the sheer number of... let's call 'em hijinks... is pretty astounding for each band member. Heroin Diaries is a little deeper, while The Dirt is, well, dirtier.

Patti Smith - Just Kids: I'll admit, there was a lot I didn't know about Patti Smith before reading this. Truthfully, I didn't know much of anything. But I figured I could stand to learn a bit, and so I read it. I'm glad I did. It's poetic and harsh, and makes me wish I was a fly on the wall at the Chelsea Hotel in the 70's. (It also makes me wish for a doc or film about the Chelsea Hotel, but that's another story.)

Kim Gordon - Girl in a Band: Kim Gordon was always this cool 90's chick that was somehow counter-culture yet not. Her book shows how she got into music, how Sonic Youth happened, and what being in a band was like during the grunge era especially. And, of course, the entirety of her relationship with Thurston Moore. If anything, this book showed that no matter what you think you know about Kim, or any musician, there's always another side of it.

Scott Weiland - Not Dead & Not For Sale: I've been a Stone Temple Pilots fan for a long time. Purple remains one of my favourite albums, for myriad reasons. I didn't know this book existed until I found it at a book store and grabbed it. It wasn't quite what I expected; it was short, a bit all over the place, and didn't read like your usual bio. But it did offer some insight into Scott's head, and his struggle with addiction. Since that struggle ultimately cost him his life this past December, the book itself becomes sadder, and a way to make sense of what he was going through.

Jann Arden - Falling Backwards: I know, this one seems different from the rest of the list. While her music isn't something I play a lot (though "I Would Die For You" is actually one of my favourite songs), it's more Jann's personality that I'm a fan of. I remember back when I worked at ProudFM, she came in for an interview and was so friendly and hilarious. Afterward, she tried to make me and a co-worker skip work to go for patio beers with her. The book she wrote is no different - it has all of her sass and feistiness, and a great story of her life to go along with it.

Slash - Slash: I technically shouldn't have this one on the list. In all honesty, I started reading it a day or two before it was due back at the library. So I've only read 50-60% of it. That said, I'll re-read and finish it eventually and will have wished it was on this list, so there ya go. By all other accounts I've read, it's one of the good ones.

Now, I don't want anyone commenting and telling me that I stupidly forgot this biography or that one - I'm certain that many great books are absent. Maybe some that I haven't read, am planning to read, or didn't like due to my personal tastes. So tell me what musician biographies you'd recommend. I know there are a few I'm looking forward to, such as the one Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace is putting out.

What others are you looking forward to, or would you recommend to the bookworm music fans like your ol' pal Kris?

Thursday, February 18, 2016

I'd Be Crazy Not To Follow, Follow Where You Lead

This one's for the pet-people.

February is Pet Dental Health Month, and we've teamed up with PetSafe to give away this prize pack for your four-legged buds.

If you're anything like me, brushing your dog's teeth is... difficult. Daisy hates it, and therefore hates me for forcing it on her. But like paying taxes and putting on pants (sometimes), it must be done.

It turns out that dental disease is the most common health issue among pets, and studies show that by the time they're three, 80% of dogs have signs of gum disease. And that's why I try to shove the doggie toothbrush into my pigdog's mouth on a fairly regular basis, no matter how much she fights me.



I'm always glad for certain treats and toys (like the ones below) that clean Daisy's teeth to make up for the terrible job I must do. Everything helps.

So if you're in the same boat as me, you'll want in on this giveaway.


Here's what the PetSafe giveaway includes:
  • Indigo Smokehouse Strips (You want these.)
  • Indigo Triple Chews
  • a Busy Buddy Ultra Woofer
  • a Busy Buddy Ultra Stratos
  • a Busy Buddy Bristle Bone (Daisy spent about 2 hours with this one just yesterday)
Daisy is crazy for the Smokehouse Strips (as is Roxie), so she'll actually let me brush her teeth if it means she gets one of those. I'm a fan of the Triple Chews because they're good for digestion as well (aren't you excited to be reading a blog post about doggie digestion? Of course you are!) And the toys themselves are great for cleaning their teeth and keeping them busy.
To win, you know the drill - use the widget below to enter. Good luck, pet parents!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Singing To An Ocean, I Can Hear An Ocean's Roar

When I was approached by the awesome people at LifeExperiences about a Valentine's Day blog post and giveaway, I contemplated making someone go on a date with me for this post alone - but then I remembered: I hate dating. I don't do random dates.

So I did something much better - grabbed one of my awesome partners-in-crime (in this case, Miss Leah), and headed out for some adventures.


I was given the option of going to restaurants, spas, etc. - the typical Valentine's Day fare. But one item stood out from the rest as something I'd never thought of doing myself. An overnight stay in a suite at Jungle Cat World.

Prepare yourself for an onslaught of photos. (If you make it all the way to the end, you'll be rewarded with a giveaway. Woo hoo, bribes!)

Ready to go to the jungle?

We'll start with the suite. They have three different suites to choose from, and they're amazing - and when you stay over, you get to visit the zoo after hours at any time. We were lucky enough to be upgraded to the Safari Lodge Suite (though while we were there, I called it the Cougar Suite. Because, y'know... we're not as young as we used to be.).

To save you from scrolling, I made a suite GIF.


There was a balcony off the living room that overlooked the whole zoo.

Not too shabby.

But before we hung out in the suite, we took a guided feeding tour to see all the animals. Excuse the quality of photos, the fences make it a bit tough to show you how amazing these animals were.


I loved this guy. His name was Todd.



  

I suppose I should preface the rest of this post with some much-needed info.

I know some people have questions about zoos like this one, and I admit that I had my reservations before deciding to visit. I don't love the idea of animals being out of their natural setting, and places like Marineland really drive home the danger of certain zoos and similar attractions.

But I'm glad to say that Jungle Cat World is different. I looked for as much info as I could beforehand, and did some reading while there. It's a home for some orphaned animals, and some species that are close to becoming extinct, and so the zoo works to re-populate them. They're protecting and conserving. They're even accredited by CAZA, "a non-profit organization established to promote the welfare of animals and encourage the advancement of education, conservation and science."

The people who work here are wonderful - all of the animals are loved and well cared for, with large enclosures to roam.

So, with all that out of the way & the ability to breathe easy about it... on with the tour.



This tiger was really excited for food.

I was reminded of myself.


Such a pretty snow leopard.


So many Lion King references, which obviously meant that I had to keep singing all the songs in my head. This guy was named Ed.

If you recall, Ed was the best hyena. No offense to Whoopie Goldberg, of course.


"Mu-fa-saaaaaa."


Simba.

He just can't wait to be king.


This is Nairobi. Looks like Simba upgraded from Nala to her mom.

(Seriously, do you hate me for my Lion King comments yet? Of course you do.)


 "Scar was such a jerk."

  

 

Looking at monkeys.

Leah's diggin' all of it.


Ah, the lemurs. You'll see a lot more of them shortly.

On our heads.



We caught these lion cubs playing around in a training section of the zoo. They're so happy, and so cute.

More on them shortly as well.


If you look up above the peacocks, you'll see our suite's balcony.


This turkey was out to get me. I swear he was chasing me at one point. Then, later on, he was standing below our balcony, yelling at me.

There may have been expletives, but I don't really speak turkey.


Fowl mouthed. (Terrible pun, my sincerest apologies.)


Views from the balcony.



The night in the suite was fun.

We got way too much junk food, drank some wine, and may or may not have Snapchat-ed some very odd videos, featuring instruments, a climbing wall, stuffed tigers, and a rendition of Rafiki's "Circle of Life" lion cub presentation.


What happens in a zoo stays in a zoo.

Except for what you post on the internet.


The next morning brought the snow.

And the alpacas!


The rest of the morning consisted of some breakfast made in the suite's kitchen (I made omelettes with the zoo's farm eggs), some music, and some animals talking to us.



Then we got to experience a behind-the-scenes add-on, thanks to the awesome people at Jungle Cat World.

We chose three animals to hang out with, starting with the adorable little lion cubs:


Sisters.



"Back off chick, this guy's mine."



This is where she bit me. They're at the bite-y stage, and apparently I was tasty.

Never thought I'd be able to say that I was bit by a lion... and that it was completely adorable.


Come on. Look at the face.


Too small for a tea party.


Then we hung out with the Serval Tiger.


It just wanted to be scratched and petted.

Can't say I blame it.


Then we visited some lemurs.

Two of them were named Daisy & Gatsby, so y'know it was meant to be for me.


We fed them bananas from our hands...


 ... and then on our heads.


My turn.


 They weren't as hungry after Leah fed them.


Of the three of us, I make the dumbest faces.

Daisy and Gatsby are classy.


 It's ok, I don't need that eye.


 All gone. Sorry friends.


Alone again. Sigh.


And then we headed out on the 2.5 hour drive home, thoroughly happy about our trip. I have to say, this faux Valentine's with a non-romantic partner was better than any real one. Thanks again to LifeExperiences and Jungle Cat World (you guys were fantastic!).

And, as promised, a giveaway. Because you were all so patient.


Enter below to win a $100 LifeExperiences gift certificate that you can use toward restaurants, spas, other fun outings and, of course, a trip to Jungle Cat World. This makes a stellar gift for your Valentine (or, for your best friend/cousin/person who shares half your brain).

Good luck, and happy V-day, ya animals!

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