Thursday, December 24, 2015

When You First Took My Hand On A Cold Christmas Eve, You Promised Me Broadway Was Waiting for Me

It's that time of year, which means I have to post my usual Christmas post - the same one I post pretty much every year, complete with the same song I post every year - because I'm big on traditions.

So there ya go.

Tree's up, presents are wrapped, and I baked enough to make my family gain 200 collective pounds (sorry, and also not sorry). It sometimes surprises people that I love Christmas so much, but I really do - it brings a different feeling for a few days. Hard to verbalize, but maybe you know what I mean by that.

I know it can also be a stressful time. People who have experienced loss over the year, those who don't have the means to give gifts or provide the holiday meals that so many families enjoy... even people who suffer from depression and anxiety, as I do, can have a hard time with a holiday that focuses so much on joy. The world isn't always a joyful place.

But you see a lot of people helping others around this time, and that's something to be glad about. I'm not at all religious (all hail pizza! does that count?), so Christmas has nothing to do with that side of things for me, but it's about family, friends, food and giving - whether it's that awesome gift you got your crazy Aunt Mabel, the time you give those you love, or giving in some way to people in need. It's about that. Simple stuff.

So, to everyone... Merry Christmas. I hope you find some happiness in whatever way you can.

And it wouldn't be a Christmas blog without this song. I think I've posted this each year since 2007 - it's never gonna change, and neither am I.

Merry Christmas, all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Some Speak The Sounds, But Speak In Silent Voices

The beginning of last month marked one year since I moved back to Niagara. Holy crap, does time ever move fast. The older I get, the quicker each year gets - five years ago feels like last week. And weren't the 90's just a year or two ago? Yikes.

But I digress. So I've been  back for just over a year. I can recall all the reasons I made the switch, and they remain relevant. Some even more so now (especially as I continue to get new doctors here. Cross your fingers that they're magical and not evil assholes, please). For the most part, things aren't the way I expected them to be, moving back. It's really not at all how I pictured it. Some plans and goals haven't yet panned out, and it can get frustrating. But I don't regret it. People ask me that often, if I regret leaving Toronto, leaving my beloved neighbourhood and High Park. And while I miss all of that everyday and wish I was able to visit weekly, the answer is still no. I don't really regret it, even when I'm sad about it. It was what I needed to do. I needed a change, and I needed a support system. Hopefully in the new year I'll be able to spend more time in Trawnna, as originally planned.

But enough of the vague paragraphs and sentimentality. Since I don't post my constant minutiae like I used to, what the crap have I been up to all year? Well, me and Netflix have spent a lot of time together (it's my idea of a stable relationship; we're in love!), but there's been more to my year than that. I've attempted to be a tourist in the region I grew up in, go see the sights I never bothered to before. When I lived here before moving to Toronto seven or eight years ago, I could tell you what kind of beer they had at all of the bars, but I couldn't tell you where any conservation areas or scenic parks were. That stuff didn't matter then - it does now. It matters a lot. And I'm sure having a dog made a big difference in that respect (but who the hell remembers life before Daisy?). So I've made an effort to see what this place has to offer beyond the obvious.

Lemme try to break it down, photo-stylez (in no particular order, with no particular rhyme or reason):

Niagara Falls, frozen. Pretty cool to see, other than the fact that I was also frozen.


I mean, uh... Tawse Winery.


...Megalomaniac Winery.

WINE.....related. Grape & Wine Festival. Chicks laughing while dancing to Magic Dance.


Charles Daley Park.

Montebello Park.

Pretty sure I have this exact photo for every season.

Also in Montebello, where Daisy learned to play the flute.

Gotta love a bitch with talent.

Morningside Mill at Decew Falls.

My pictures don't do it justice, but my dad took some good ones.

Um... this... place... (?). I can't remember.

The view from a winery. Would you like an apartment on the escarpment?

Waterfront trail.

I spend a lot of time on this particular one. It's good for clearing the brain while the dog pulls me around and tells me what to do.

Also the waterfront trail. Another time, another part of it.

The Niagara Falls (Canadian Side) from the top of the Skylon Tower.

Extreme fear of heights be damned.

What? Another winery?

Yeah, Angels Gate. It's the Niagara way, guys. I'm not even a true wino.

A waterfront trail (do you sense a theme, other than wine?) at Happy Rolph's.

People who aren't from Niagara must think Happy Rolph's is a nutbar name. Damn right it is.

Can ya guess? Can ya?!

A waterfront trail! Huzzah!

The 9/11 Memorial Walk.

I went to the beach on Thanksgiving. For the weather, I guess you can give thanks to global warming.

Niagara has more beaches than I realized. This one was Municipal Beach, now named Sunset Beach. Personally, I called it Steve.

Mary Malcomson Eco Park.

Craft Beer Fest. 

Somewhat unrelated, but I figured that beer should be better repesented in a heavily-wine'd post.

 I also went to the beach in November. Again, not really related to this post, but it's almost braggable.


Another nature trail.

Oast House.

I mean... that kinda goes without saying.

St. John's Conservation area.

The pond at St. John's Conservation Area. Look at those little buggers. So cute.

So there ya go. Proof that going backwards isn't always going backwards, that having a dog changes a chick, and that posting too many pictures is a good way to lose readers. All good lessons to learn.

What did I miss?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

If You Don't Make A Friend Now, One Might Make You

It's officially December, so that means everything is now getting Christmas-ified - it also means it's giveaway season. So, I'm sure no one is surprised that I have a giveaway for my fellow pet obsessors owners.

Our favourite four-legged jerks deserve presents too, right?

PetSafe is setting up one of you lucky fur parents with a pretty sweet prize pack valued at $125, featuring each one of these items:

· Busy Buddy® Waggle™

· Busy Buddy® Tug-A-Jug™

· Busy Buddy® Bristle Bone®

· FroliCat™ Pounce

· FroliCat™ Dart Duo

· Egg-Cersizer™

Daisy has an extensive collection of PetSafe toys and treats, so you know it's all Piggie Smalls-approved.These toys are for cats and dogs, but I don't know your pet hamster/turtle/pygmy three-toed sloth personally, so who am I to say that you shouldn't enter if you don't have a dog or cat? And maybe you just want the toys for yourself. I don't judge.

Enter to win below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

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.
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