Thursday, December 22, 2016

Sinatra Was Swinging, All The Drunks They Were Singing

Well, it's that time again.

The time of year that I post pretty much the same exact thing every single Christmas without fail. A brief holiday message. A picture, likely of the dog or a tree (or the dog by the tree, when I want to get really crazy and blow your minds). And then, as always, a video - Fairytale of New York by the Pogues. Every. Single. Year.

I'm predictable. Or reliable. Or maybe boring. But really, just big on traditions when it comes to Christmas.

Log Lady and her festive yule log. A semi-annual tradition.

I love Christmas. And while last week's surgery has kept me from really getting Christmas crazy, I've been doing my best. I managed some baking, wrapped presents horribly, and have attempted to schedule my pain pills to hopefully allow for holiday imbibing.

What's more Christmas-y than that?

I'm not a fan of winter. I don't care about snow. I love to hibernate and avoid human contact. And yet, when the holidays roll around that all changes. I can handle the cold briefly, I love a white Christmas, and I want to get out and see all of my favourite people. That's not just the codeine talking (though painkillers are making this Christmas merrier, surely), but the season turns your favourite surly rambler into a cheerful little weirdo.

So whatever you celebrate (or don't celebrate), I hope it's a good one. From me and the pigdog Santa - happy holidays, everyone!

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

When She Left, I Had Only Begun This Lullaby

Years ago, when I was first diagnosed with Graves' disease (and all the other fun health problems the docs found), I had every intention of blogging more about it. Because the one time I did, I received messages from women who also had Graves' and were looking for places online to read about experiences with it. I wanted to give them that.

But, for one reason or another, I never did.

Thelma enjoys live comedy at JFL. She has a great sense of humour.
Well, years have passed and after switching to a new endocrinologist, the decision has been made to cut out the ol' jerk thyroid. As far as I know, this doesn't actually get rid of the Graves' disease, but it should lessen the symptoms. And the symptoms are no fun. Hair loss, crazy weight fluctuations, temperature sensitivity (Too hot! Too cold!), extra anxiety on top of my anxiety disorder, stomach problems on top of my actual stomach problems, RAOR (Random Acts of Rage), insomnia, eye pain... the list goes on.

It pretty much turns you into an angry pile of confusing painful garbage.

The idea of feeling better, even if only slightly, sounds good to me. But since I've never had surgery before, I'm not entirely looking forward to it. Sharp tools at my throat? Ugh. But it's gotta be done. And so I thought that maybe my thyroid - who I've named Thelma, because I must name all things - deserved a proper goodbye. She was kind of an asshole, but now I'm killing her. A small tribute seems only right.

So, to say adios, I've added a few photos of some moments Thelma and I have shared together through the years.

Like this one.

Somewhere under the infinite fat rolls of my baby chin(s), Thelma lives in fear of suffocation. Sorry, Thelma. Now I understand why you turned evil.

And here we are with Thelma in the late 80's.

See how my sister is laughing at her? Funny girl, that Thelma.

Thelma was embarrassed, and does not endorse anything happening in this picture.

Neither does anyone else.

Thelma with Leah eight years ago at my sister's wedding.

Thelma loves weddings. She cries.

Here's Thelma a few months ago, meeting my little buddy when he was brand new.

So there ya go. That's Thelma through the years.

Tomorrow, Thelma will be put to rest. And though I never thought twice about her until a few years ago, apparently thyroids are "important" and "regulate stuff or whatever". If you haven't yet, be sure to get yours examined by your doctor. A simple blood test can let them know if your thyroid is functioning properly, or if you've got a psycho Thelma to contend with. Sometimes thyroids have just got to go.

Check ya later, T. It's been a slice.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

If You Should Die Before Me, Ask If You Could Bring A Friend

As it's been nearly a year since Scott Weiland passed away, it seems only fitting to post about a Stone Temple Pilots album that has stayed with me for decades. On December 3rd last year, Scott died of a drug overdose after many years of battling his addictions.  My response to the news was to re-read his memoir, and listen to one of my favourite albums.

Stone Temple Pilots' Purple became an obsession of  mine when I was 11 or 12. I had become a fan of the band (and Scott) after my sister had put a few songs from Core, their first album, on some of her infamous mix tapes. And don't get me wrong, I'm a huge fan of Core - it's a favourite. But Purple was an immediate stand-out for a young pre-teen Kris.

It was a game changer.

That summer, I remember listening to it over and over and over again, until I knew all the songs inside and out. At the time, I had an electronic keyboard that I had no idea how to play. Even so, I somehow figured out how to play the songs from Purple on it. Especially "Pretty Penny" for some reason. I can't recall now, but let's assume it sounded absolutely terrible - we should all have sympathy for my poor parents who undoubtedly had to listen to that noise.

I won't bore you with a description of every song, which were my favourites, and how each one made me feel. Really, it's about the effect of the album as a whole. It's rare that I listen to a single song from it without needing to play the entire album front to back. Yes, even the hidden song. (What, you don't like parodied lounge-y tunes?) Way back then it just made me happy to listen. And now, as soon as the first notes of "Meatplow" are coming through my speakers, I'm taken back to that summer with the keyboard.

Sadly, I only got to see Stone Temple Pilots once in concert. I was 16, and they played with Red Hot Chili Peppers and Fishbone at the Molson Amphitheatre. They were fantastic. Scott especially did not disappoint. I remember expecting a less-than-stellar performance due to the drugs and rumours of him being off the wagon, but he did not miss a beat. I'm glad I at least got to see him once in his prime. For my 11-year old album-obsessed self, and for my adult self who would one day have to mourn yet another musician she loved.

Rest in peace, Scott. A year later, I'll yet again be listening to Purple in your honour.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

It's Only Me Who Wants To Wrap Around Your Dreams

When you think back to your childhood, was music ever a big part of it? Do the songs that your parents played become attached to your memories, and when you hear those songs now are you hit with nostalgia?

I have a lot of that. It happens anytime I hear the Doors. Moody Blues. Van Morrison. A little Clapton. Some Zeppelin. And more than most, it happens when I listen to Fleetwood Mac's Rumours.

A long time ago, I wrote about how childhood trips up north helped to shape my musical tastes. Even now, I can't think back to those summers without automatically hearing Fleetwood Mac's most influential album. It was one that both parents could agree on, and so it became an album that my sister and I grew to love. Listening to it right now as I type this, "Second Hand News" is transporting me to memories of bonfires, chilly lakes, and my little blue fishing rod with the left-handed reel.

I think almost everyone, from hardcore music lovers to casual listeners, has some type of association with Rumours. Through my life I've often been surprised at the different array of people who love the album, or who know the songs better than I'd expect.

Fleetwood Mac's Rumours = the great cultural unifier. Who knew?

But really, what's not to like? You've got a song like "The Chain", probably one of my favourites on the album, which was literally spliced together from other rejected songs to create something catchy and genre-spanning. "Songbird" and "Oh Daddy" are the beautiful ballads, with lead vocals by Christine McVee. "Gold Dust Woman" is another favourite (yes, I do also love Hole's version of the song. And no, I don't care about your personal opinion on Courtney Love. Melissa Auf Der Maur is a big reason their version is good. 'Nuff said.) Stevie Nicks will forever be that witchy woman with the amazingly distinctive voice, and this is one of the songs that suits that image best.

And, of course, you can't dissect Rumours without talking about "Dreams". Probably the general public's most-loved Fleetwood Mac song, and it's been one of mine for as long as I can recall. To a negative effect even, since I've karaoke'd it at times when I possibly shouldn't have. Like my 30th birthday. Whoops. Sorry, Stevie. Sorry Mick.

But karaoke blunders aside, most would agree that this is an iconic album. It's one of the best selling albums of all time, in fact. And as it's been an important one for me, that gives it a spot in the Favourite Albums list.

So what about you - where does Rumours take you back to?

Thursday, November 10, 2016

We Are A Fever, We Ain't Born Typical

It's been awhile since I posted a proper rant on here. You guys have all missed them, right?

Ah, probably not.

Either way, this one needs to be done. First, let's start with a general statement that everyone should agree on before reading any further. Ready?

We need to stop telling women what they should be doing with their bodies. 

That's number one. Are we all on the same page here? Good.

Don't you tell me what to do. You're not my parole officer.

Because here's the real point of this post, and it's a personal one for me due to age and, well... gender. I have a big problem with people telling women that they need to be having babies. Especially the way it's thrown upon women in their thirties. Comments like: "When are you going to have kids? Time's running out!" and "Clock is ticking! You're not getting any younger." or "Everyone else is having babies, you should have one before it's too late."

Uh... really? Wow. As adult women we had NO IDEA that we have a time limit. Thank you so much for this unsolicited information, we will surely go find the first man available and get procreating for the good of all humanity!

Nope. Sorry.

We know. We know that pregnancy gets harder as we get older, and we know that fertility decreases as we age. We get it. How could we not know, when every possible media outlet aimed at women is quick to tell us so?

It may be a surprise to some, but not every woman wants babies. I know many amazing women who have zero plans to spawn, and they're quite happy about it. And that's fantastic. Just as it's wonderful that many others have babies (or will have them) and make kickass moms. Yay women. Yay personal decisions.

Even when a woman does plan to have children one day, literally no one has the right to make her feel pressured to do so, or to ask when it will happen. Not your body - not your business. We all have our own internal conversations that you don't need to be privy to, unless we decide to share with you.

Sarah Silverman makes her own damn choices.
For me personally, I had always wanted two kids. It was all planned out - I thought I'd be married and have at least one kid by 28. Well, now I'm 33. It didn't happen. And that's good because if it had, it means I would've had a child with the wrong person. As it stands now, I do still think I want to have one kid. I decided last year that if I was still single at 35, I'd have one on my own. The beauty of it being my decision is that it can change if needed. If 35 comes and I'm not at all ready, no one can tell me it has to happen. And if I get serious with someone and we decide to have one at some point, that's cool too.

It's up to me. Plain and simple.

Part of me wishes I had started younger, because I'd love to give my parents some grandkids. They'd be amazing grandparents, and I always wanted that for them. I still do. But that isn't a good enough reason to bring another human into the world right now. If it's a conscious decision it has to be for the right reasons. My reasons. Because I'm ready and it's what I want, not because my biological clock is scaring the shit out of me, or because the pressure from those around me was too much to bear.

Some people make babies. Some people steal them.
And that goes for every woman out there. When you tell them they're "running out of time", or ask when they're going to start popping out babies, you're putting unnecessary guilt and pressure on them. Your opinions and views shouldn't matter for a decision this important, and yet they can hold weight. When someone asks me why I don't have children yet, I feel like a failure. I feel like I let everyone down. I get physically uncomfortable and a bit emotional. Not a great reaction.

Let's also consider for a moment that not everyone is able to have children. The sheer insensitivity of society's constant pressure to procreate is staggering - and unnecessary. You can't know a woman's situation unless you are that woman. As a general rule, we all need to think long and hard about that before saying a word.

Speaking for myself, there are things I need to do before little carbon copy Kristens are running around in Deftones onesies, babbling along to Zeppelin songs. And while I realize that time is not on my side (thanks to everyone constantly reminding me), things have changed. Women are safely having babies later than they used to. If the day comes that I really want a kid and I'm not physically able to, there's always adoption. There are different avenues, different possibilities, and my choice can't depend on pressure from outside sources. No woman needs that, no matter her age.

So to end this lengthy rant, allow me to re-iterate what I opened with: We need to stop telling women what they should be doing with their bodies. Instead, let's try asking a question and having a conversation. "Do you think about having kids someday?" is perfectly fine under the right circumstances, but please - accept the answer. No opinions. No judgement. No pressure.

So simple, my currently non-existent child could understand it. (He's really smart, though.)

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Drag Me Far Enough To Know I'm Blind Every Mile That You Burn

For all the endless posts on here about bands, albums, music docs, and musician biographies, it's a bit surprising that I've never ventured into soundtrack territory. Soundtracks tend to fall a bit under the radar for me - I have a solid few that are favourites, and don't pay too much attention to any others. So, for the sake of sharing (because apparently it's caring, or so the rumour goes), I thought I'd finally throw my brief list out there.

Y'know I love a good list.

Here are a few notable soundtracks that have long been favourites of mine.


Surely no one is surprised that I love this movie and soundtrack. There's just so much to love about both. First of all, the movie has Alice in Chains, Pearl Jam, and Soundgarden actually in it. And Matt Dillon's character has a band called Citizen Dick that includes Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard, and Jeff Ament.

The whole movie is like a prime grunge-era Melrose Place, except awesome and with better people involved. And bands. Gotta include the bands.

From the movie set. This was my Facebook cover photo for a long time, unsurprisingly.
Now, the soundtrack. A movie that is this focused on specific music is going to have a great soundtrack. And it remains one that I listen to regularly. Where to start? First, you've got "Nearly Lost You" by Screaming Trees which is a song I often obsess over. Next, you have Pearl Jam's "State of Love and Trust" which, in my opinion, is of one of their best ever. Add to that some Alice in Chains, Soundgarden/Chris Cornell, Mother Love Bone, and Hendrix?

Yeah. You've got a winner.


Into the Wild

This one is a little different, yet connected to the first - this entire album consists of songs by Eddie Vedder, made strictly for the movie.  It's pretty folky, very mellow, and yet... I can't quite describe it, but it's always been an emotional album for me.

The songs are all short but impactful, and I can't listen to it without going through a wide range of emotions. It may not be for everyone, but I recommend giving it a few listens before coming to any conclusions. It can sneak up on you.

Dazed & Confused

I haven't watched it in a long time, but this used to be one of my favourite movies. I'm sure it still would be, in some ways. There are technically two soundtracks to this movie, but I'm strictly speaking about the first one.

I always thought I should've been a teenager in the 70's, and the music is the main reason for that. This soundtrack is all 70's rock, so it goes without saying that it's always been a favourite. A few key tunes for me: ZZ Top's "Tush", Deep Purple's "Highway Star", The Runaways' "Cherry Bomb", and Sweet's "Fox on the Run". Unfortunately Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion", from the movie's opening sequence, did not make the cut on the soundtrack. Too bad.


I've never seen this movie. So I can't say much about it. But I do own the soundtrack, and it's a good one. Each song is a different collaboration by two different artists, whether a remix of a current song or an entirely new one.  Here's a short list of some of them:

"One Man Army" - Prodigy and Tom Morello
"No Remorse (I Wanna Die) - Slayer and Atari Teenaage Riot
"(Can't You) Trip Like I Do" - Filter and The Crystal Method
"For Whom the Bell Tolls (The Irony of it All)" - Metallica and DJ Spooky

But for me, the most important song on this soundtrack is "Familiar" by Incubus with DJ Greyboy. I've loved this song since I first heard it, and it remains one of my favourite Incubus songs.

The Crow

Ah, Brandon Lee. I loved this movie. I'm due for a re-watch.

As it's a dark movie, the soundtrack is just what you'd expect. Right up this Shambled Rambler's alley. Nine Inch Nails, Pantera, Stone Temple Pilots, Rage Against the Machine, The Jesus & Mary Chain, Rollins Band, etc. And a song I dig a lot, The Cure's "Burn."

In the interest of not posting a drawn-out endless list, I've left a few soundtracks out.  And for the record, it's not lost on me that most of these movies are from the 90's. Yeah, I'm a predictable chick.

So what's on your list?

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Words Are Blunt Instruments, Words Are A Sawed-Off Shotgun

Every once in awhile I get deep into this conversation. Most people disagree with my particular views on the subject, but it's a topic that has continuously popped up over the years - so that must mean I feel pretty strongly about it. And that I'm stubborn.

The conversation - or debate, as is usually the case - is about whether or not it's important to have the same music tastes as the person you're dating.

Is it a big deal? Do you care?

Ha. Nope.

My stance is always that it's pretty important, it's a trait I look for, and something that makes a huge difference to me. It's rare that someone agrees with me on the subject, though. So even though I've briefly blogged about this topic before, here's where I get more in-depth and state my case (aka: get a bit defensive).

My friend Geoff and I have had a few conversations recently about dating in general and what we look for in significant others. We're very different people - we have pretty different tastes in most things. So whenever I mention that a love of music is important in the person I'm dating, he thinks it's kinda nuts. Fair enough. That's why I felt it was time for another discussion, but this time with you wonderful weirdos.

Here's the main point: you want to have things in common with the person you're dating, right? You want to share experiences with them. If you're sports obsessed, you likely wouldn't be with a person who hates all things athletic. If you live for travelling, you wouldn't get serious with a person who never wants to leave the house.

Well, it's the same thing.

This is a concert. Concerts are fun. Tell your friends. (10 points if you can guess the band.)

If music is important to me, why is it bad that I'd want to share that interest? There is nothing better than sharing new music with someone, or listening to a band that we both really dig. Music creates a bonding experience. I'd love nothing more than to have someone to go to all the shows with - that one has proven tough, but I remain optimistic.

Music is a big part of me. A big part of who I am, what I'm into, and how I operate. And when I'm dating someone with completely different tastes (or worse, who doesn't like music at all. Yikes.), it's like a communication gap - we're speaking different languages. No comprende. Je ne comprende pas.

Trust me, I've tried it.

Even murderous sociopaths liked Undertow

I'm not unreasonable, though. I'm well aware that I won't ever find someone as Deftones-obsessed as me. Or who loves all things Maynard, Thom, Josh, & Brody like I do. Most of my long-term serious relationships were not with guys who liked every band I did; often just a key few.

Tastes don't have to be exact, but some crossover and an open mind go a long way in this case. Introducing each other to new tunes is part of the overall benefit to dating a fellow music dork.

I'd never expect a person to like all the other things I like, either. I don't need a guy who loves to read like I do. I don't need someone who wants to make friends with every single dog he passes on the street, like I do. I don't require someone who will understand all of my random Simpsons references (though we'll work on that one). But music? Yeah. I need some common ground there. I need them to "get" it, in order to "get" me. It's an intangible connection, one that often goes hand-in-hand with the right chemistry.

So there. I've said my piece. Now you're all invited to tell me how wrong and delusional I am - I welcome your input, I know not everyone is the same. But I won't be swayed. This chick knows what she needs.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

I'd Like To Fly But My Wings Have Been So Denied

I've been on a steady streak as per my promise to one podcaster - blogging weekly and including a Favourite Album post bi-weekly. That's progress after months of radio silence on this site. But this post will be a bit different. Because while I'm writing it under the guise of the favourite album series, it's more about my general long-term love for a band than about any particular album itself.

It's the age-old tale of a little girl named Kristen and her major affection for Alice in Chains.

When I was young, my older sister would make me mix tapes that I would obsess over. Yes, young folks, that says tapes. These tapes were a big part of what shaped my music tastes, and this particular mix was no exception. It would have been about '92, maybe early '93. And on this tape (which I'm pretty sure I still have somewhere), Steph had included the song "Would?". That was when this 9 year old future rambler fell ass-backwards for a band from Seattle called Alice in Chains.

So for the sake of pretending that this is a Favourite Albums post, let's call it an ode to Dirt (1992) and Jar of Flies (1994). Those albums have been with me the longest, and made the most impact. But really, this post is about the band itself. And I'd be remiss if I didn't include a note or two about Layne Staley.

Layne was the original singer, the only one I really count, who struggled with a major drug addiction and died in 2002 at the age of 34. For me, Layne is Alice in Chains. Without him, it's never been the same. Whether it's with this band or the album he did with Mad Season, he has one of the most distinctive and unique voices I've heard. And when it came to the songs he wrote (such as "Nutshell"), they give me what the young kids call "the feels". Every time.

So while the current Alice in Chains singer (William DuVall) is crazy talented and awesome, I consider it to be a different band even though Jerry Cantrell is and always has been an integral part of their specific sound. I remember when I saw their concert with the Deftones in 2010, it was strange to hear/see them play with such an upbeat person as the frontman. I actually left during "Nutshell", because it somehow came off as happy. It's not happy.

It's a Layne song, through and through.

I've been reading an Alice in Chains biography (even though I prefer to stick to autobiographies, but one does not exist. Jerry had better get on it!). I just read the part where Layne dies and, stupid as it is to admit, it brought me to tears.

It's like reading a story you already know the ending to, but it still kicks you in the chest when you get to it. Such a waste.

But the rest of their story is entertaining - it's always amused me endlessly that they technically started as a glam rock band and the rest was almost accidental, due to band-swapping, member switches, and name changes. In the end, they formed a band that has long been one of my favourites, and created songs that can dictate my moods and stir up my memories.

For some, they're just a grunge band from the 90's. For me, they're important. 

My old favourite band tshirt. It's now in a frame.
From a 9 year old kid singing along in her backyard each day to a 33 year old woman singing along while she runs her business, these albums are part of an entire life's soundtrack.

And Layne's voice is at the forefront of that soundtrack.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Thump Of The Red-Blooded Heart Is Trumped By The Art Of War

I'm in a pretty odd relationship. Don't get excited - it's not a dude (sorry mom). But it's been serious for a long time, so I'm goin' public even though it's boring, repetitive, and people like to make fun of it.

Me & routine? We're tight.

Dog walk, earphones in, messy stupid hair. Very routine.

Everyone loves to extol the virtues of being impulsive. I get it. Being open to new things, ready to say "yes"  to whatever life throws at you without a second thought - sounds great. A lot of the time I wish I was like that. I'll often give it the ol' college try, and work at being generally impulsive for awhile. 

But it's not me. Not for the most part.

I need routine. I need plans. So this is my attempt at defending those of us who require schedules and structure.
As you likely know, I'm self-employed (*cue shameless self-promotion* haaaave you met The MediaHaus?) and I work mostly from home. For others who work for themselves, that can mean waking up really late, doing work whenever they feel like it, keeping an open schedule, and allowing for general freedom. Those people are friggin' crazy.

These faces. This lady. It's our routine.
There are plenty of days I don't want to work. That's called "being normal". But even more so, because of depression and an anxiety disorder I really don't want to get out of bed. Being out in the world can be frightening and awful. But I, like you, have to get my ass up and be a responsible adult (or a reasonable facsimile. Let's not kid ourselves.). So I have a routine that I stick to pretty much every day. I wake up around the same time, start working around the same time, walk the dog around the same time, eat around the same time, and so on... every day. I even eat almost the exact same thing day after day. That has a lot to do with other health issues, but it's also become a part of the routine.

Here's why: without routine I can sometimes shut down. My brain doesn't focus and my body won't do what I ask it to. I become a walking panic attack, more than I am on a regular day. And that's exactly it - having anxiety requires routine, it needs the comfort of familiarity and expectation in order to be somewhat manageable. Because my daily schedule is almost always the same, I can go on autopilot during the days that anxiety has me wanting to crawl in a hole. My brain and body know exactly what to do, where to be, etc.

So no, I don't actually love routine. It's more like I tend to need it for work. Routine makes me functional, keeps me from overthinking every move I make, and allows me to fall back on my familiar patterns so I can be productive. While it may not be the right choice for everyone, it definitely has benefits for me. And if you find anxiety running your life and keeping you from doing what you need to, adding some structure may be worth a shot.

Beer before smiles. Routine.
And yet... currently, my routine has been shelved as I'm apartment-hunting and a few things are out of whack and up in the air. I'm trying to see it as a good thing, to get me unstuck from old patterns and allow more spontaneity into my over-routined ways.  Surely that's a positive, right? Making room for new things, chilling out a bit with the structure, and doing some re-wiring. I guess we'll see.

As serious as routine and I are, it might be time to see other people for a little while.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Fifteen Stitches & A Soft Parody

Moving along with the Favourite Albums theme while I've actually been posting regularly, it seems only right to add a Deftones album sooner than later. I know, I know - I have enough Deftones-related posts that it shouldn't be necessary.

Well, I disagree. So there.

But which one to start with? I could literally put each of their albums on this list (and in time I likely will), but I've decided to go with one that has been on my radar a lot lately. Their second album, Around the Fur.

I'd love to say that I remember the first time I heard this record, that the first listen made such an impact and changed my life, blah blah blah. But I can't remember the initial listen. What I do remember is being young (this was 1997, for reference.), and having already been hooked on Adrenaline, their first album.

So I constantly listened to Around the Fur from front to back until I couldn't hear the end of one song without automatically starting to sing the next one. I recall sitting out in my backyard for hours each day, retaining it all like a sponge.

The entire album became branded onto my brain.

Through the years, through their many albums, it's inevitable that I regularly end up on a prolonged Around the Fur kick, re-visiting some of my favourite songs. Peripheral fans likely know this album better than they think, due to the singles: "My Own Summer (Shove It)", and "Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away)".

But honestly, if you even like those songs in a minimal way, give the rest of the album a shot. "Mascara" is one of my favourites, along with the title track itself (Around the Fur, if you're not paying attention). And don't even get me started on "Dai the Flu" and "Damone", the hidden song. If you're a Max Cavalera fan (or a fan of Sepultura or Soulfly), "Headup" is one you'll dig, as he co-wrote and sang on the track.

Since I recently became dangerously re-obsessed with the Crosses album yet again, I decided to switch things up and dive right back into Around the Fur. These album obsessions are cyclical. They come about for a reason.

In this case, to counteract my anxious and low mood lately, I think I needed something that brought a certain positive nostalgia and the feeling I used to get when hearing these songs. It still works. I still get lost in this album.

Not everyone can relate to my Deftones obsession, and I wouldn't expect them to. But if you can listen to this album and get even a piece of that intangible and somehow indescribable pull, then you have a marginal idea why I feel the way I do about this band.  

Around the Fur is, and always has been, a big part of that.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

I Wanna Pull Out Your Crazy, & Pour It Over Me

Those who have been long-time visitors of this site (why?!) may recall a few different posts that I lovingly refer to as the Grammar PSAs from an Asshole. This is where we break down some of the over-used grammar and/or spelling mistakes that are rampant on the ol' internet, and smack folks in the face with some knowledge.

Well, it's been awhile. Too long, maybe. And the incidents are piling up.

So with the help of some friends (shout out to Bill Wellman for his solid list of offenses), it's time for a brand new post. Because only you can prevent forest fires.

I mean... bad grammar on the internet. Right.

1. Disorientated

Example of Misuse :

"Man, drinking 5 pints then getting on that roller coaster left me really disorientated."

Yes, well... allow me to explain-ate the error of your ways.


The word you're looking for is "disoriented". I can't ever figure out why everyone wants to add an "-ated" to so many words where they don't exist. Save yourself some syllables, you need the energy.

2. Irregardless

Examples of Misuse:

"I'm super smart, irregardless of my incorrect word usage."

 Yes. "Smart".


It's not a word. It just isn't. I've said it before, I'm sayin' it again.The word you're probably looking for is "regardless" and yet, once again, people have decided to incorrectly add syllables to create a word that doesn't exist.

Yes, I make up words constantly (and awesomely), but I don't claim that they're real in anyone else's vocabulary. Just mine. But "irregardless" isn't even a made-up word in my weirdo wonked-up world, so let's just make it go away.

Watching, judging, crying. Ordering a pizza.

3. Alot

Example of Misuse: 

"I like pie alot!"

I like pie too, but I like it a lot.


In keeping with what seems to be a theme, we have another word that isn't technically a word (though this comic wonderfully explains what you're doing wrong). It's two words, folks. That's right - two. A lot. A. Lot. Repeat it back to me. There you go. Proud of ya.

I dig that Alot, a lot.

4. On Accident

Example of Misuse:

"I ran over my ex-boyfriend on accident." 

Sure, ok. If Accident was the name of the street where you "accidentally" ran over the guy. Maybe.


First of all, that wasn't an accident. And secondly, nothing is on accident. Unless "accident" is an actual thing that you can place other items upon, like the aforementioned fictional Accident Street, you really mean by accident. If it was accidental, it happened by accident. Except in the case of running over your ex-boyfriend, that's just because you're bitter and have a license. S'ok. I get it.

(Sidenote: I realize that "on accident" has become an accepted conversational version among young people. But I'll never be cool with it. Can't. Won't.)

5. Colon

Example of Misuse:

See graphic above. It's real, people. These girls actually posted that.


This one might be my favourite, and I truly must thank the internet for bringing it to my attention. Where to begin here? Since the offenders appear to be younger women, I'll try to be nice. Ladies... the word you're looking for is cologne. I know, the spelling is confusing. But I promise, it's correct. A dude's colon, on the other hand, is not what you want your pillows to smell like.

I mean, I'm not trying to judge. Maybe you really are just that into your boyfriend's colon. If that's the case, I take it back. Go on with your colon-loving ways, chick.

6. Who's / Whose and Then/Than

Example of Misuse:

"Whose coming to my house to drink wine until we cry?"

Whose what?

"I'd rather eat a burger then a person."

Your appetite is admirable. Right after a burger, I'd think a person would be too filling. That's just me, though.


I put these together because I know they can be tricky, and in a similar way.

So. Who's = who is, or who has. Whose = possessive. Here's the correct way to do it: "Whose baby is this? Who's going to take it away from me?" See?

Then normally indicates time, or a series of events. Than is used with comparisons. "I'd rather punch myself in the face then throw myself off a bridge than ever have to hear that song again." 

Get it? No? I tried.

Well.. ok. Good to have a game plan, I guess. Sorry that you're dying tomorrow.

As usual, continue to send me your Grammar Asshole judgements. They amuse me, and you know I'll eventually have to do another one of these as the internet continues to make us dumber, lazier, and way more disorientated, irregardless of what we do on accident.

(Yeah. That hurt.)

Monday, September 19, 2016

I Sell Souls At The Side Of The Road, Would You Like To Take A Number?

Remember when I used to do a weekly post about new music, my favourite albums, or concert reviews? Remember?! Nah, you don't remember.

Well I did. And it's about time I brought it back, for the good of the children.

Today girls and boys, we're adding to the Favourite Albums list. And to this very specific list we're adding an album from a band that includes a badass chick that I'm kinda sorta maybe a little in love with. The woman? Brody Dalle. The band? The Distillers. And that album, my dear friends, is Coral Fang.

While there are other Distillers albums that I could list here, there's always been something about Coral Fang. From the first note on the first song ("Drain the Blood"), I'm immediately put into a 201.45% better mood, ready to get things done. Your boss is a jerk? Put on this album. Your boyfriend called you fat? Put on this album. You have that ever-so-slight urge to go batshit crazy and slap everyone in the face? Put. On. This. Album. I mean it.

I was late to the game when it came to this band. Coral Fang was my introduction, and though it came out in 2003 it wasn't on my radar until somewhere around 2005. A couple of their singles - "City of Angels" and "The Hunger", respectively - were songs that I adored, but for some reason I hadn't done the normal-person thing and gone out to buy this album. But when I finally did, I was hooked. Brody kicked my ass.

I remember driving around in my old Protege (Marcellus Wallace, RIP), falling hard for every song on this album. Anyone I drove had to put up with Coral Fang on loop or get out. I had found my new idol. My rock chick goddess who exemplified so much of what I wish I was.

While there's a lot of punk drive and fast riffs throughout this record, they threw in just enough slower melodic elements to make it interesting. And no one sounds quite like Brody. You can literally hear her scowl as she's singing, with a voice that is her own blend of gritty and raw, yet feminine. Many of these songs are about her relationship / break-up with ex-husband Tim Armstrong of Rancid (before she married Josh Homme and became one half of my favourite couple ever), with a lot of the lyrics giving a massive middle finger to the general public - but then you've got a song like "For Tonight You're Only Here To Know", and suddenly your cold black heart just might feel some feelings. A good example of how this album can switch tactics on a dime would be "The Hunger"; from slow tempoed verses to a sudden heavier turn and that typical Brody scream, it becomes a completely different song. An ex once heard it and said, "That was such a nice song, why did she start screaming and ruin it?"

My reply: "Because she's goddamn Brody Dalle."

So many years later, I've never tired of Coral Fang. I still listen to songs from this album almost daily, and still get as amped by it as I did when I was 22. It's been a staple for over a decade, one part of the soundtrack to my adult years, my breakups, make ups, good weeks, and crappy days.

I'll be screaming these tunes along with Brody until I'm 85 and forget the words. And even then, I'll still want to be her.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Time To Time The Skies Come Down To Help Me Lose My Way

Back in May, I recorded a podcast for the incomparable Dave Allen and his Takeover Tuesday Podcast. During our chat, I may or may not have promised to start blogging again, beginning with an update post to fill in the blanks from the past little while (and bring back everyone's favourite perv with a heart of gold, Masuka).

Well, the podcast has now been posted - so I guess it's time to keep my promise, whether anyone likes it or not. To start, if you'd like to check out the podcast and hear my wonky voice for an hour, have a listen right here:

As for an update, what can I say? I haven't posted in a few months. I've been keeping busy with work and life in general. I'm still in Niagara, still attempting to fix some health problems, still awkward as ever, and still flanked by my four-legged partner in crime (I mean Daisy, not some guy I'm dating with too many legs and a penchant for criminal activity. That means you, Hank.).
A chick and her bitch. You decide who's who.
So, onto the aforementioned updates.

I recently turned 33.

I'm about to move out of my current apartment, so mid-move I'm living in disorganized chaos which makes me crazy.

If you don't know what these are, you're too young to be reading this.

Some of my friends are getting married, some of my friends are having babies, some of your Kristens are giving serious thought to getting a new coffee maker. Hey, these are all real commitments.

That's about it. You're all caught up, without having to be too bored by the minutiae of the past little while. Woo hoo!

This lovely lady is getting hitched REAL soon.

In the months since I last blogged, I've half-written a few posts only to promptly forget about them and let them rot in my drafts folder - but maybe it's time to revive the site a bit. And speaking of reviving, I guess it's also time to further keep my promise and check in with my dear buddy Masuka.

Hey, Masuka! Tell the people (ok, the one reader I potentially still have...) what you've been up to. Attempt to keep it NC 17, por favor:

"Dearest Kristen,

I've been getting old. My balls hang so low I can sit on them.

I have another baby on the way, the bonus is that my wife's breasts have increased from their already substantial size to the size of Chicago balls. If you're not familiar with that ball, a Chicago ball is a 16" softball that was first played in Chicago in the 1880's. A lesser man would have broken his wrist on those things, but I am a professional.

I'm in my 18th year of broadcasting and am considering calling it a career and doing something different. I feel that my talents in breast appreciation are going to waste in a medium where I can't talk about them without losing my job. As a result, I'm thinking of moving someplace warmer, where jackets can't hide womanly awesomeness. Less your readers think I'm a cheating ass, I assure you I am not. 

I'm simply a pig.

Lots of love,


Who had bets on a breast mention in Masuka's update? Surely everyone did. We're all winners here.

IMPORTANT NEWS - Beer is still my friend.

So, there ya go. Vague updates from your shambled friends, and a promise for more posts. Ok, let's not call it a promise... how about an intention? I fully intend to post more, but I don't want anyone saying "but Kris, you promised!" You can't bitch about intent. Not that anyone would care enough to, but y'know. I cover my bases.

Or steal 'em headfirst like Pete Rose.

Til next time. Keep fit & have fun. (A reference that only fellow Canadians will recognize, but a reference nonetheless. Google is your friend, use it wisely.)

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.



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:


"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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