Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Maybe I'm Just The Thing To Break My Own Fall

This past Friday, I was sent on another Niagara adventure from the awesome people at LifeExperiences. This time, I grabbed one of my girlies and we headed for a tour and tasting at Beamsville's Angels Gate Winery.

Our day had already been busy from a meeting with a wedding decorator (no, I'm not getting married - yes, Vicky is), and lunch at the Redstone Winery. So by the time we hit Angels Gate, we were ready for that wine.

The drive/walk in is really pretty, leading up to what looks to have once been a chapel or church, with a pond on one side and a view of the Beamsville Bench on the other. And, of course, a winery named Angels Gate must have gates at the front.

I'd be disappointed if they didn't.

It's nice to be welcomed.
See? Pretty.

Once we stepped in, our awesome guide wasted no time getting us started on the wine. If you've ever had a wine tour or tasting with someone who was a bit boring, you know that can make the experience a little dull. I'm happy to say that was not the case here.

She was lots of fun, very personable and taught us a lot (while plying us with wine).

I caught her mid-laugh, so she's awesome & blurry.

Most of what we tried wasn't on this list, it was some VIP treatment

I made an effort to take lots of pictures, and apparently we didn't even need wine to turn us into photo dorks.

I'm 100% ok with that.

This picture was take before a drop of wine was sampled.

The chick was thirsty, obviously.

And then the tasting started. We grabbed our first glass and went downstairs for a tour of where the magic happens.

 We learned things. We drank things.

Between glasses, Vicky posed me for this photo. I'm thinking about wine, while looking thoughtfully out the front window. That's a thing. People do that.

Prepping ourselves for some reds.

An icewine finisher.
I made the mistake of not writing down everything we tried, which is a rookie error. I told our guide/wine slinger/ awesome teacher that I'd try anything she gave me, and was happy to be a guinea pig. Vicky's a white wine kinda girl, with Riesling being her main go-to (and their Riesling is really good). I'm trying to get more into reds (I like to be well-rounded with my alcohol intake, ok?), so we tried an array of both.

Having never tried anything from Angels Gate before, I'm now a fan.

Afterward, we wandered the patio, planning to come back in the summer for some outdoor wine.

My default photo pose.

The reason I chose this LifeExperience was not only because I had never been to this winery and am trying to explore the best of Niagara (though that's probably the more adult answer), it's also because of ongoing wine. Yes, that's right - ongoing wine. This particular LifeExperience includes the tour and tasting, a bottle of wine to take home at the end of it, and then 2 bottles of wine each month for three months sent to your home or office. Go on, do the math. That's 7 bottles of wine, on top of a fun tour and tasting. It is literally the gift that keeps on giving. So can ya blame me?

To learn more about this and other great LifeExperiences, check out their website. They make kickass gifts, especially since you can send them as e-certificates - they can also be purchased at Shoppers Drug Mart. Thanks for the good times, Angels Gate Winery & LifeExperiences!

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Following Our Will & Wind, We May Just Go Where No One's Been

I'm a sucker for a solid music doc. I'm sure no one is surprised, as the same goes for musician biographies. I like learning the stories behind the tunes. There's so much more than you can glean than from an album alone, and often these stories give the songs much more meaning. 

I dig 'em. And so I thought I'd share a few of my favourites, some notable mentions, and some that are on my radar to watch soon. I like to list great albums, so why not music movies? These lists are only for actual documentaries, not live show films. (Full disclosure - they're mainly rock docs, which should be no surprise.):

Das List

Runnin' Down a Dream - In case you couldn't tell from the title alone, this is a Tom Petty doc. And it is fantastic. I hadn't even known it existed until I saw it a few years back, and I loved every second of it. Great stories, great musical cameos.

Pearl Jam Twenty - Ok, so I watch this every few months. It's a problem I have. For Pearl Jam's 20th anniversary, they created this documentary that chronicled damn near everything. Even if you don't like Pearl Jam but you like Soundgarden, Mother Love Bone, Temple of the Dog, or anyone around that time - it's worth a watch. And if you don't cry when Chris Cornell cries, then you are probably a monster.

It Might Get Loud - Jimmy Page (Zeppelin), Jack White (White Stripes, Dead Weather, Raconteurs) & the Edge (U2) get together to talk music. That's the gist of it. True that I'm not much of a U2 fan (mainly due to Bono), but it's a good one to watch even so. Especially if you're a guitar player/guitar fan/wannabe shredder.

Metal: A Headbanger's Journey - The holy grail of metal documentaries. If you knew me many years ago, I used to talk about it non-stop. So... sorry 'bout that. But this movie, and the series it spawned (Metal Evolution), is so informative, so involved, and made by a major music fan - and it's also where Dio discusses where the devil horns hand gesture originated. \m/ (Spoiler - his grandmother.)

Sound City - I wrote a blog post after watching this years ago, so read that if you want a in-depth view on how much I liked it. It's about Dave Grohl, a recording studio, and the Neve recording console. It features about a bajillion great artists (some of my personal favourites, like Josh Homme, Trent Reznor, Stevie Nicks, Tom Petty, etc.), so that's reason enough to watch.

Dig! - This doc about Brian Jonestown Massacre and the Dandy Warhols is nuts. Rolling Stone nailed it, saying that the film shows that "douchey self-delusion knows no bounds". Doesn't mean it's not entertaining.

My "Soon To Watch" List (aka The "I Only Have So Many Hours in a Day, Stop Judging Me" List):

Searching for Sugarman - A couple of fans search for Detroit folksinger Sixto Rodriguez. Apparently this is a kinda strange yet awesome must-see movie, so there ya go.

The Punk Singer - It's been in my Netflix queue for awhile, and I have no excuses for not seeing this yet. It's a documentary on Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna, and I have a feeling it'll bring up some rawk grrrl-type feelings, and that's fine by me.

Anvil! The Story Of Anvil - It's... um... the story of Anvil. Did I really need to elaborate on that?

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart - This one's about Wilco, and I assume it's mainly about their album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, which is home to one of my favourite tunes, Radio Cure.

American Hardcore:  Based on the punk/ hardcore music scene in the late 70's - mid 80's. Oh hi, Henry Rollins.

Meeting People is Easy- What? A documentary about Radiohead that I haven't seen yet? Look, I already asked you not to judge me. It's on the list. Leave me alone.

Lemmy - Pretty sure if you don't know who Lemmy is by name alone, you likely shouldn't be watching this film. (See also: Motörhead: Live Fast, Die Old).

Don't Look Back - this one's for Bob Dylan fans. So watch it... if you're a bob Dylan fan.

Notable Mentions:

The Song Remains The Same - I said I wasn't counting live performance movies, but this Led Zeppelin flick is technically not a documentary and it's not just live footage. It's also strange fantasy storylines for each member. If I recall correctly, there may have been a unicorn at some point. Unicorns are cool 'n stuff.

Mistaken for Strangers: While it's a documentary about The National, it's mostly about family, and Matt Berninger's brother. I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Blood Into Wine - A movie about Maynard James Keenan (of Tool, A Perfect Circle, Puscifer) and his foray into wine-making. So it isn't a music documentary, but it's still awesome. Mind you, I love Maynard. So there's a bias there. But Maynard and wine are a solid combo.

The Devil And Daniel Johnston - I saw this so long ago that I can't remember most of it. I knew it deserved a mention, but due to my memory blocking out certain periods of my life, I can't say much else about it except that it's a classic to the music-folk.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster - Watching this made me kinda dislike the band members (and I already disliked Lars Ulrich), but I suppose it's worth a watch for any fan, either hardcore or peripheral. I watched it once and will likely not ever watch again, but hey - that's just me.


So there you  have it. Three lists of music documentaries that you just might wanna see. Since the peanut gallery always enjoys telling me what I've missed (and I do know that I have some glaring omissions here), go ahead and let me know what else you'd add. And yes - this likely means I'll be making future lists of non-documentary type music movies, and music biographies. Geek-tastic.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

And Sure As Days Come From Moments, Each Hour Becomes A Life's Time

Since this week is National Dog Week (September 20 - 26), I thought it presented an opportunity to discuss something a lot of animal lovers feel strongly about - rescue organizations. As you likely know, Daisy was rescued from a pretty unfortunate situation nearly 7 years ago. If it wasn't for Jack Russell Terrier Rescue Ontario (JRTRO), I can't say for sure where my little pigdog would be today.

I'd rather not think about it. I saw first-hand how she was living, and it still breaks my heart.

JRTRO, and other rescue organizations like it, are run by people working tirelessly to give dogs a loving home and better lives. It astounds me every day to read stories of animal abuse and neglect, and thanks to some good-hearted people these animals are often given a second chance. If I had it my way, I'd be able to rescue every dog I see up for adoption. But I can't. At least not until I become an old dog-lady, with a farm full of rescues, no human contact, and questionable sanity. Give it time; it'll happen.

But until then, here's the deal: thanks to PetSafe Canada, we have a giveaway for National Dog Week. There are toys, treats, & other great stuff that your dog will dig. In order to win, there usually isn't much to it. A tweet here, a comment there. But I want this one to be different.

To enter the contest to get some gear for your dog (or for someone else's dog, if you're feeling charitable), I want you to think of your favourite rescue organization. Maybe you got a pet from there, or you just know they do good work. I want you to share their info & spread the word. There are 5 ways to enter, using the widget below.

Maybe... just maybe... thanks to you, we can get more pets adopted.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks to PetSafe for the awesome dog swag. Good luck, and happy National Dog Week!

Thursday, September 17, 2015

With Lecture I Puncture The Structure Of Lies

Anyone who posts photos online is potentially setting themselves up for copycats. We all may realize this, but rarely think about it.  A few years back, strangers from all over the place were getting in touch with me and letting me know about people with Facebook accounts, Twitter accounts, and profiles on dating sites using my photos and passing them off as their own. Sometimes even using my blog posts as their personal updates.

At first I was furious. Then, probably even worse, I kinda got used to it. What could I do? Every time I managed to get one of their accounts shut down (which wasn't often, because it's not easily done), another one would inevitably pop up.

Fake Kris' everywhere. What a scary world that is.

In the years that have passed since my first outraged announcement about these false accounts, I haven't blogged any more about them. But they're still around. Maybe less often, possibly since I hardly post anymore, but it still happens quite a bit. Every once in awhile someone, usually male, will message me and let me know that he had been speaking to someone online for an extended amount of time, and they used my photos as their own. Sometimes guys thought they were dating these girls online, only to find that the photos actually belonged to some chick in Canada. Me.

Then, recently, I got this one via direct Instagram message, along with a photo of a painting:

I didn't respond right away, and then when I was going to (to write this post), he had deleted the picture and messages he sent. Fair enough. It's always an awkward conversation when people think they're friends or even in a relationship with someone and then realize it's all been fake, and the photos are of someone else entirely. I get it.

So why bother bringing this up again, since I've already called these people out in old (very old) posts? I figure they're due for another reminder. I may now watermark photos of myself and post fewer pictures with me actually in them, but it doesn't stop this from happening. The only way to truly stop it is to stay offline and go analog, hiding away somewhere like a mole-person. And I'm not doing that, though it almost sounds kinda fun, because that makes it parallel to being bullied. These people aren't worth it.

The truth is, this doesn't piss me off as much as it used to. But I do feel bad for the guys and girls who are being lied to. Without going into too much detail, some of these stories have been sad. People have been hurt, all by someone who didn't really exist.

If you're one of those losers who has the genius idea to steal someone's photos online, pass them off as your own to mess around with another person, please - don't bother. It's a useless endeavor, and one that needlessly harms others. Inevitably, they do some searching and figure it out. They come to me, and sometimes we can do some digging and learn exactly who YOU are. I don't want to hear made up back stories about where I got my dog, where I'm from, or even how you felt when your (my) family member passed away. Use your own stories, your own photos, and stop watching Catfish and thinking it's a good idea.

It isn't.

Yeah, what she said. Do that.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Hold On To Me Tightly I'm A Sliding Scale; Can't Endure Then You Can't Inhale

I'm lazy. This is a fact we all know, judging by how little I post these days. So this week we've got a guest post from my friend Adam - you may remember him from such films as "Dude, Where's My Czar?", and "Debbie Does Dallas (A Favour By Feeding The Homeless)". Or, you may just know him from past posts, like the one about the book he wrote

Yeah. That guy.

A few weeks ago over some beers and conversation that normal folks wouldn't understand, Adam made the poor choice of volunteering to guest post. So here it is. Adam's foray into blogging, featuring made-up stuff. Enjoy (?):


Here we are. You – the intent reader, and me – the often confused and less-than-stable-minded writer. You’re sitting there, reading the words I’ve written, anticipating something intelligent, moving or entertaining to be said and I’m sitting here writing words waiting for something intelligent, moving or entertaining to just show up in the form of the English language.

The sad truth is I volunteered myself to guest-write on this blog without actually thinking of any content. I was told specifically that I could write about anything I wanted.

I combed over a few ideas in my head, but ultimately they were all Trumped by this one piece of clich√© advice I received from a friend: “write what you know.”

Wait, write what I know? I think maybe the only thing I know for sure is that I know nothing at all. My actual job, my 9 to 5, pay-the-bills, pay-the-rent job is a copy writer. What does a copy writer do? Makes shit up. Yes, I’m a professional make-shit-upper.

So write what I know. I know how to make shit up. So…. away we go.

So there’s this chick on the subway and she’s all reading this book and like her dog is there, too right? So like this chick is reading and like she’s kinda hot so these dudes are all eye-ballin’ her like they're caged wolves staring at raw steak.

So chick is all “OMG these dudes are all up in my business and I’m too cool to talk to any of them cuz they’re all losers n’ junk” – but not like…out loud n’ shit – more like in her head n’ shit.

So dudes is all “OMG I want to treat this chick like a pre-booked hotel room – get into it without having to talk to anyone or do anything special.”

So Dude A walks up to her and is all “Yo baby can I get yo numbah?” and chick is all “No bro you used ‘yo’ instead of ‘your’ – and thus said ‘yo’ twice so let me say this twice so you can be sure - NO-NO. Like a yo-yo but no-no.” And Dude A is all disheartened n’ shit and he’s all “Yo whatever yo” and exits the train while chick is all “HE JUST DID IT AGAIN!”

So Dude B walks up to this chick and is all “OMG you are so hot I could melt butter on you” and chick is all “NO HABLAS ANGLAIS” then Dude B is all “but I just heard you talking to Dude A” and she’s all “pardonez moi, si vous plais” which REALLY confuses Dude B cuz he’s pretty sure she does, in fact, speak English but now he’s wondering if the acid he took earlier is just now kicking in…so he leaves the train all like “ARE THE WORDS I’M USING STILL ENGLISH?! AHHHHHH HELP ME!!!”

So Dude C swags up to chick and is all “I’m Dude. I have lots of money cuz I’m a doctor. Friends call me Dr. Dude since I’m such a dude” and chick is all “I have no idea what that means” and Dr. Dude is all “OMG you’re speaking English to me” and chick is all “cuz I feel bad for you” then Dr. Dude’s like “why? I’m rich and fancy and sexy and dude” and chick is all “money can’t buy another chance for you to make a first impression” and he’s all “are you sure?” and pulls out this wad of bills. But chick is unimpressed with his material wealth, hugs her dog and says “I got everything I need right here with my bitch”.

But then Chris Pratt walks in, chick’s eyes meet his, they communicate telepathically and fall in love instantly.

Moral of the story: as long as you have a penis, making a good first impression on a female is next to impossible unless you’re Chris Pratt.


Praise be Pratt.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Hear The Wind Within The Trees, Telling Mother Nature 'Bout You & Me

I want to share my story of a boy I loved.

He hasn't been on this site for awhile, but for many years I posted about him often. Obsessively, even. Jack was my first dog. He belonged to my ex, Craig, and I quickly fell in love with this sweet and crazy little Jack Russell.

By the time we moved in together, Jack and I were already family.

When we did co-habitate, I was freelancing at home a lot. It was just me and Jack (and our cat, Booey), and he was my best buddy. I spent my days with him, and so he was the subject of many blog posts, because every photo was somehow adorable and every video was hilarious (as anyone who recalls his reaction to the word "chihuahua" can attest to).

I loved him.

But Jack was also a pain in the ass - he was a stubborn barker with a penchant for eating clothes, blankets, beds and anything else we didn't want him to eat. He could be so obstinate that you'd want to pull your hair out, then he'd tilt his head and give you those big brown eyes and you'd want to hug him.

That was Jack. You couldn't stay mad at him for too long.

Eventually, we got Daisy from the same rescue organization Jack came from so we'd have two of these dogs to love, and so they'd have each other.

It was a rough start, but they came to love each other as we hoped they would. They were buds. Thick as four-legged thieves.


Though they no longer lived together after Craig and I separated, they remained the very best of pals. They would go on long walks in High Park and play together often.

I'd have Jack stay with me for a few days here and there, and I know Daisy liked having him around (for the most part - at least until he'd inevitably eat her blankets or chew her bed.) She could kick his ass, and he'd kiss her in the middle of it. He'd have seizures, and she would lie beside him.That was dog love.

Sadly, my sweet Jack passed away earlier this week. He was a fighter - his epilepsy and seizures caused near-misses throughout his life, but he kept pushing through. In the end, it was his lungs that became the problem.

The news broke my heart and made me hold Daisy a little tighter.

These few words and old photos can't really explain how much I love and will miss Jack. It's not something I can verbalize. Looking through years of pictures has made me unbelievably sad because of the loss, but also brings a bittersweet happiness due to the memories of my crazy little dog.

Without him, I really would have missed out. I never would have become the dog-loving (ok, dog-obsessed) person I am today, I wouldn't have Daisy, my family wouldn't have Roxie, and I likely would never know the unconditional love of a pet. He brought all of that to me.

So, to Jack... my first dog, and the boy that changed me... thank you. For so much.

Lots of love from me and Daisy. We will never forget you. xo

A video from 2008. Jack the Destroyer.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Brace For The Glory As You Stare Into The Sky

Though I've intended to be in Toronto regularly, it's been awhile since I got back - things get in the way. It happens. But recently I managed to carve out three days to spend in my other home, the city I'll never refer to as "the 6".

My main reason? Deftones. Cue your surprised faces. Fake 'em, if you have to.

Yes, Deftones. The subject of many a blog post on here, due to my big love for them.

They were playing Edgefest (Edgefest 2, to be exact), along with Incubus. I've loved Incubus since I was a wee little brat, and have never seen them live before. So, Deftones + Incubus = a show I must attend. And attend I did.

I hadn't been to Echo Beach before (the song just became your earworm, for those of you old enough to know it), but it's a pretty cool venue.

Weird to be standing on sand during a rock and/or roll show, but I do appreciate being exfoliated while I fangirl.

We all know how terrible my concert photos are, but bear with me as I attack you all with roughly 8.2 trillion pics of Chino singing and dancing in his Morrissey shirt.

Ok, 8.3 trillion.

Look, it's Stef! Not a Chino photo.

I have evolved as a human person.

You never know who you may run into at any given concert - Hi Meli!

And back to Chino. Sorry. (I'm not really sorry.)

This one's different, he's playing guitar!

My photos are vast and varied. Complex, even.

And then this happened.

Anthony, who you may remember as A Book for Wanderers, managed to get invited up on stage to sing Maynard's parts on Passenger. It took me a minute to figure out it was him, and I'll probably have to slightly hate him out of jealousy for the rest of my life.

Lucky bastard.

 Look, a sunset!

Aaaand Incubus.

I may or may not have had a bet going to see how many songs Brandon Boyd could last without taking his shirt off. I guessed three.

As you can see, I was only partially right by the third song.

But eventually he thought, "Waitaminute now, I'm allergic to shirts! Be gone, vile button-up!".

And so the shirt was gone.

I will say, shirt or no shirt, snowsuit or no snowsuit, the man is beautiful.

It's almost painful how pretty he is.

They were amazing. The only tiny, small, miniscule item I take issue with is that they didn't play enough of the older stuff. Not much from "S.C.I.E.N.C.E.", or "Fungus Amongus".

But that's really just my age showing. Kids these days aren't into those tunes, they weren't born when the albums came out. Darn kids, ruining this old broad's night out from the seniors home.

Overall - kickass bands, kickass sets, a kickass night.

Made me want to follow them for the rest of their tour.

Afterwards, it was to the ol' village for a drink with Bob, who some of you may remember from past posts. Y'know, back when I used to post often. Or at all.

(I apologize to everyone else I saw during my visit, I took no photos of you. Only those in my brain.)

And the next day, I did some solo stuff.

I attempted to hang out on this balcony, but it's ten stories up (or technically 20?), and I'm afraid of heights. Hence the face.

I lasted 3 minutes.

Then I streetcar'd across the city to wander around my favourite place in all of Toronto - High Park.

I can't even express how much I miss living across the street from it, and spending time every day here. I love the crap out of it. There's nowhere better.

These guys, the Barbary Sheep, look a lot like Daisy when they're first born. She used to stand there and they'd stare at each other for awhile, confused. Fun to watch.

I can tell you're overwhelmed by the excitement.

I used to take work breaks and sit on this hill for awhile.

It would've been pretty relaxing that day as usual, if not for the couple behind me, making out furiously as though they just found out they were both going to die tomorrow.

I asked if they understood the mechanics involved in conceiving a baby, but they didn't answer. They were busy.

Sitting. Thinkin' 'bout pizza.

And then it was back to Niagara to squish my little pigdog. I missed her.

While I did manage to see a bunch of people during this visit, I hope to see more of you next time. Yes, that means you. (Probably.)

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