Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Maybe I Know Better Than To Read More Than What's Written

For those of you who go to a lot of live shows like I do, you're likely taking a few photos for posterity's sake (and hell, for Instagram too. Let's not kid ourselves.). And so, if you're like me, you're taking said photos on your cell phone, often creating what I now refer to as TBCS - Terrible Blurry Concert Shots.

Do you suffer from TBCS?

To be fair, save for the peace sign, I still do all of these.

TBCS is affecting many of us show-goers, and it is a problem. Yet we just can't seem to let go. We take these shots while being jostled by the crowd, while slightly-dancing-in-a-hopefully-non-embarrassing-way, and while throwing our hand up in the air & shooting blindly, hoping for that one great shot. But do we get it?


Allow me to use my TBCS from Saturday's Local Natives show as a reference point.

This concert was fantastic. Amazing. Friggin' awesome. Other related adjectives expressing how great it was. I was in a fairly good spot at the Kool Haus, my sight lines weren't bad. And yet.... my photos...

Well, let's discuss:

This right here is typical TBCS. You know it. You've done it.

The show starts, it's awesome, and you want to take a photo before you get way too into the whole thing. Capture a moment. Except, in most cases, the moment captured is blurry and dizzying.

Surely a moment not to forget.

Usually there's one or two in the bunch that serve their purpose. Look, you can see band members. Instruments! Lights! People's heads!

So it's not completely terrible. And that's why we take the photos. We're not hoping for greatness, merely sub-par okay-ness. Here, that was achieved.

...but then we promptly return to this crap.

If I had a proper camera, was standing still, and took the time to really take care with this shot, I'd bet it would've been a great one. But I didn't. Because I was at a concert, enjoying a show, and absentmindedly took a photo on the off-chance that one may turn out kinda awesome. It's a gamble, folks. TBCS strikes again.

I dig this photo. And that's likely because I'm weird and like things that aren't overly likeable.

But again - the random photos you really like are the point of taking any at all. Right?

I can't really explain this one. Let's chalk it up to bad timing, or over-excitement about a particular song. Or, perhaps I was just looking to capture what looks to be a very large dog paw on the left side of the picture. Woof?

So, since Terrible Blurry Concert Shots are obviously an issue among us, why still take the photos? Why not keep the phone put away and not bother with any damn pictures?

For me, I like looking back and seeing what bands I've checked out in the past while. They're memories. And since I'm personally not the type to have my phone out through the entire show (a shot here and there, tops.), it's not a big deal. I leave the truly amazing shots to the pro concert photographers.

My name is Kris. I suffer from TBCS. And I'm ok with that.

Friday, September 20, 2013

I've Kept The Movie Rolling, But The Story's Getting Old Now

It's no secret that I've spent my summer with doctors and hospitals. And while people keep asking what's up, I haven't exactly been wanting to share that whole laundry list on here. But today I'm going to delve into one of the issues, and there's a reason for it - after some Googling (which is always a terrible idea when you're diagnosed with something. Don't ever do it.), I saw that people were looking for blogs about this very subject, and that they found it helpful.

So dammit, I wanna be helpful!

I recently found out that I have hyperthyroidism and Graves' Disease. What the hell is that, you ask?:

Graves' disease is an autoimmune disorder where misplaced attacks from the immune system cause the thyroid gland to become overactive. The result, known as hyperthyroidism, causes the thyroid to produce an excessive amount of the thyroid hormone, thyroxine. Too much thyroxine can affect metabolism, which can then go on to affect brain development, heart and nervous system functions, body temperature, muscle strength, weight and cholesterol levels.

That's the internet's way to explain it, and I don't know if it's correct. From my point of view - This bugger is responsible for my entire body functioning improperly. My current symptoms are heart palpitations, hot flashes, constant nutbar heart rate, insomnia, mood swings, random rage (rawr!), difficulty breathing, muscle issues, inexplicable weight fluctuations, extra anxiety, etc, etc... unfortunately, Graves' Disease can also affect the eyes, from minor pain and discomfort to major bulging. And nothing can be done about that. It's a waiting game, and patience is a virtue that I lack.

Soon I'll be on medication that may or may not work. There's a pretty big chance that I'll have the thyroid removed and take further meds to make up for what the the thyroid can no longer do.

It's kinda like Bill Nye is doing an awesome science experiment on me, but without the awesomeness. Ok, minor awesomeness because medical science is still pretty impressive. I'll admit that.

My point? Most people don't ever think about the thyroid. Especially not girls my age. Because of genetics, I knew I might have some thyroid trouble down the road, but I didn't understand it and didn't think about it much. I used to have a horrible doctor who wouldn't check anything, never mind sending me for simple bloodwork.  Because of that doctor who constantly misdiagnosed me without tests, there were a lot of things I missed. Until this summer, I had no idea that I have scoliosis, restricted lungs, or a tumor on my kidney (angiomyolipoma). I didn't know that I had symptoms of Graves' Disease or hyperthyroidism because it's not something I knew to think about.

My doctor sucked. She truly did. But it was also my fault for not finding a new one and getting the proper care. So please, do that. See your doctors, get all the tests (even the uncomfortable ones. "You wanna put that WHERE?!"), and be healthy. And ask your doc about checking for thyroid issues - especially if you're a woman over 20.

I apologize for these BS self-help posts, but we'll soon return to our regularly scheduled programming. Your Shambled & Rambled Public Service Announcement has concluded.

Go about your day, my children.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

If You Love Me You Will Find, There's Nothing Left Between The Lines

Since the days have gotten colder, the nights start earlier, and everyone is freaking the hell out over Pumpkin Spiced Lattes (I've never had one), you'd think that festival season was over, right? Out with a bang after Riot Fest?

Well, you'd be wrong. Festival season still has some glorious life in it.

Last weekend saw what appeared to be a really successful Supercrawl in Hamilton (did you go?), and this upcoming weekend brings two more festivals to our west end Toronto 'hoods: The Junction Music Festival and the Bloor Ossington Folk Fesitval.

Rejoice, music fans. Re-friggin'-joice.

The Junction Music Festival takes place on September 21st in (where else) The Junction area of Toronto.

The awesome lineup includes Dinosaur Bones, Zeus, Cuff The Duke, Friday Night Trend, Elos Arma, Chris Staig (who I recommend you go see - had he not taught me, I may have never learned the Gadd9 chord. Ha!), and many other great acts. Not to mention the vendors and the food.

Every time I visit the Junction, I love it even more. I have no doubt this festival will be a damn good time.
The Bloor Ossington Folk Festival is in its third year, and it runs from September 20-22. I'm pretty sure you can guess what part of the city it takes place in, one I prefer to call the Bl-Ossington area. Rolls off the tongue.

Locations include some local venues (Saving Gigi, Baltic Avenue, Studio 835, etc.) with the main focus at Christie Pits park - two stages will be set up, along with vendors, a beer garden and buskers.

There is a lot of talent showcased at the folk festival - some that stick out for me are Taylor Knox, By Divine Right, Bidiniband and CATL. But the entire lineup is fantastic. And just like the Junction Music Fest - it's all free!

I'll be doing my best to visit both, but I'll also be at the Local Natives show on Saturday. Which acts will you be going to see?

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Don't You Lock Up Something That You Wanted To See Fly

It's always interesting when people say they start to notice positive changes in you. I've spoken before about how I think everyone is capable of change, and that I had been working to re-wire my brain & improve my generally bitchy outlook. But I don't think I've ever gone into depth about it here, so maybe it's time - maybe some of you need that push too.

For a very long time, I had let good ol' life circumstances turn me into an exceptionally negative person. While I've always suffered from depression and an anxiety disorder, yes, this went beyond that. A few bad years took away my faith that things improve, and that I could really turn it all around. I would still say the words "Things are gonna get awesome!", but I don't know if I ever truly felt it. And so they didn't.

Then 2012 came along and for the most part, compared to previous years, it was a good one. I took more control, eventually let go of things holding me back, learned to allow good things to happen, and I was pretty darn happy. And happy was a word I had no longer understood the meaning of, until that year made me see things a little different - a little more rose-coloured. So I decided to finally try and change how I looked at things completely. A task and a half, to be sure.

This year didn't start off on a good foot for me at all, but I was determined to become different. I started making an effort to think positively, and truly believe those thoughts. I made lists of the things I was grateful for each day, I started writing for myself again, exercising, eating well, cooking, baking, and tried meditation. I left notes for myself, reminders. I put the work in. I had to.

It all sounds like silly hippie bullshit, I know. But it honestly isn't, not when you feel you're mentally at rock bottom.

I'd love to tell you that because of all that, 2013 has been an amazingly happy year - but that would be a lie. It's been a very difficult one for various reasons. There are days that just I can't handle it. But when I lose sight of what I'm trying to achieve and how I'm now trying to live, it's ok - I just need to be reminded that no matter how much shit is thrown at me, and no matter how awful I may feel, there's a silver lining. I just need to find it in every situation. There's always some good mixed in massive amounts of bad. (Like the "little wins" I mentioned before.)

I've been regressing again a bit lately, but then an email from an old friend who I'm not often in contact with reminded me that I've made positive changes:

"I have read your blog lately, quite a bit. The same wit, the same cynicism and devilish wordsmanship is there, but gone is the lack of depth and maturity.  Gone is the negativity and the feeling that all these bad things happen to you and you deserve better.  Please know this is not an insult as I think we all have those tendencies, we just don’t write it down.  But now, wow, now your writing has so much strength. You take ownership of your life in a way and responsibility for your misfortunes.  You are a great writer at times, sometimes just good, and other times just downright Tom Robbins-like hilarious." 

A few people have noticed these changes in me, and I'm glad for it. It reinforces what I'm attempting to achieve.

I'm different than I used to be. I can honestly say that. Maybe not in the most obvious ways, and most people won't ever notice - I'm still a sarcastic, potty-mouthed, nutbar son-of-a-bitch. My personality is the same. And one of my medical conditions is responsible for some of my crazy feelings and actions, which will soon hopefully be fixed. But I'd like to think that I view situations a bit differently, and therefore react more positively to them. It's not all doom and gloom. Things are sometimes awful, sure... but it's important to find the happy moments in between.

With each baby step, I just hope to keep improving & taking my own advice from this post. That's all I can do.

Monday, September 9, 2013

All My Clouds Have A Silver Lining, From Which I'll Melt The Metal Down

As a music fan who hails from St. Catharines, I've had the pleasure of seeing a few local bands grow larger than life and become international household names. Bands that I used to see on the small stages, with members I went to school with or whose sisters were on my baseball team. You get the idea.

Moving to Toronto didn't change that. I still love seeing local musicians (whether from my hometown, or from Toronto and even Hamilton) putting out fantastic work, and maybe getting some recognition. I fully support local talent - always will. If you think it doesn't take a hell of a lot of work and dedication to be in a band, you're very wrong.

So in the spirit of supporting real talent, I present to you The Mandevilles.

As you may recall, I've posted about them before and more than a few of you let me know that you dig their sound. Well, if you're a fan, they need your help.

They recently recorded their latest album with GGGarth Richardson (who produced Rage Against The Machine, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Mötley Crüe, etc), and they're working with PledgeMusic to make this album happen.

When you pledge them here, 10% of the money raised will go to the Light of Day Foundation - and you also get all sorts of fun stuff. But if they don't make it to 100% of their goal, they don't get any of it (and neither does the charity).

So at 75% with 7 days left, you guys can help amazing local talent bring us some more great tunes.

Supporting local music is a big reason that I work with bands and musicians via The MediaHaus - bringing a band to new audiences or giving them the tools to reach further is hugely rewarding, especially for a music fan like myself. One of the joys of self-employment right there.

So what about you, who is your favourite local band ("local" being relative, of course)?

Thursday, September 5, 2013

You Could Have It All, My Empire Of Dirt

The other day, the lovely Michelle brought something to my attention - and oh internet, you crazy.

It was a piece on Associated Press that read:

""NIN closed the night with a slow and smoky cover of Johnny Cash's 'Hurt,' which earned nonstop cheers from the crowd."


My new favourite - stolen from Stark.
So that got me thinking about covers, and I figured it was time to write another post about 'em. Mind you, my last cover song-related post was more about the terrible ones. This time I took to Facebook and Twitter to get your thoughts on the best covers that managed to stay as good, or better, than the originals.

Here are a few of your favourites (and some of mine, too):

Given my love for all things Chris Cornell, we'll start with this one - Chris Cornell covering Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean":

Jimi Hendrix covering Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower", arguably (not that anyone can actually argue this) the better known version of the song:

One of my all-time favourite covers, Deftones' version of Sade's "No Ordinary Love". If you know me, you know this tune. I force it upon everyone:

This is Failure's cover of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy The Silence".

(And speaking of Failure, A Perfect Circle covers Failure's "The Nurse Who Loved Me" on one of my favourite albums, Thirteen Step. 6 degrees of music I like.):

Wayne Cochran's "Last Kiss" has been covered by a number of bands. Here's Pearl Jam's version:

I've always had a soft spot for Cat Power covering Phil Phillips' "Sea of Love". (And Tom Waits' version of the song as well, respectively.):

Of course, the one that started the whole discussion, Johnny Cash covering Nine Inch Nails' "Hurt".

And no, it's not the other way around.

If I had hours upon hours and page upon page to fill with my favourite covers, this list would be fairly lengthy. I'd be remiss if I forgot some of the ones I grew up with from Motley Crue, Metallica, Ugly Kid Joe, and so on. But we haven't got all day. Not this time.

Which cover tunes would be on your list?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Close My Eyes Just To Look At You, Taken By The Seamless Vision

Went home to St. Catharines last week for a bit of a break from the city, the doctor's offices, and the never-ending apartment hunt. My parents' house is where I go to take a breather - it always helps.

But aside from spending time with family, friends, and my two favourite bitches (see photo below before assuming I consider my friends bitches), I also finally visited a few places in Niagara that have been receiving a lot of attention lately. Places I've been meaning to get to, but hadn't been able to yet.

See? Bitches.

Everyone knows that Niagara is wine country - and yeah, that remains true.

But this trip wasn't about wine. Instead, we visited the other alcohol-related spots that have become popular. To start, Silversmith Brewing:

Here, we tried a few different beers, including their best-known German-style Black Lager (Schwarzbier). With some local eats (and more Black Lager), it was a great place to sit for a pint.

They're located in an old church, and the stained-glass windows still remain.

Next time, I'll be taking some Black Lager to go.

Second stop - Oast House Brewers.

Awesome spot, in a big red barn on Niagara Stone Rd. Before this, I had only tried the Saison during a concert at a winery, but this time I got to sample a few more and see what the fuss was about.  (And yes, everyone who recommended Barn Raiser is right - it's a good time.)

Last, but not at all least, was Dillon's Distillers.

Sampled some gins, white rye, vodka, and bitters. They use local ingredients, including Niagara wine grapes that would otherwise be discarded. Kinda awesome.

Yeah, you can sense the excitement.

So if you're in Niagara anytime soon (or you live there, since I still have readers who do), go check them out. And then bring some to me!

Til next time, Niagara. Keep the beer cold.

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