Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cause I'm Already Gone, If You Bet On Me You've Won

Ten years ago, I quit my office job and started freelancing

I was 23, and had no idea what the hell I was doing with my life. I knew I didn't want to stay in an office forever; I always truly believed I'd write novels for a living. Never questioned it. Otherwise, something in broadcast media. So at that point, I figured if I didn't make the change from cubicle to home office right then, I'd never do it. And I'd regret it.

I was probably right.

Done with those TPS reports.
That said, I do wonder where I'd be if I didn't make the switch. Because, of course, it's never easy. Back then, I wrote anything and everything I could get paid for. I mean everything, even if it was awful and soul-sucking. That seems to be a rite of passage for freelancers, after all. But it was never enough. I took on side jobs at different times, and then when I moved to Toronto, freelance writing just wasn't gonna hack it on its own. There was an infinite number of writers, and only so many jobs to go around.

Though writing stayed a side gig, it wasn't until 2011 that I started The MediaHaus, working for myself full-time and living what is essentially still a version of the freelance life. Less writing, more online marketing - but it's all related.

2007. Ten years. It seems crazy to me now. How did all that time pass? Oddly enough, this blog that you're reading (which I rarely post to anymore, though I have every intention to) is also now officially ten years old. A decade of ramblings. A decade of freelancing. A decade of doing things a bit differently.

I was at my classiest in 2007.
I don't think I'd recognize 23 year old Kris now. She was a whole different animal, and a lot has happened in the ten years since she was around. The funny thing is, I still have no answers for her big life questions. Plans and circumstances change. In a lot of cases, I don't think there are right or wrong decisions, necessarily - just very different paths with their own outcomes. Who knows which other ones I may have taken, if I had the guts.

It doesn't matter. I had the guts for this one

But I admit... I do still think in terms of the career I want "when I grow up". Because 33 (verging on 34, since my birthday is next week) is somehow waaaay too grown up, yet not enough to completely give up on old goals. I still think I'll write a few books "when I grow up". Still think I'll be more involved in media and music "when I grow up".

They say it's never too late. For anything. And ten years of attempting to do things on my own terms has, at the very least, taught me that you need to take a few risks, even if they won't pan out. Otherwise, can you live with the "what ifs"? Maybe it's time to take some new risks. 34 seems like a good age for it.

So there. It's decided.

I'm going to clown college.

Friday, May 19, 2017

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

It feels like, over the past couple of years, I've written too many of these posts. Posts about musicians dying. Posts about the voices I grew up with, suddenly gone.

I'm tired of it.

But here I am again. This time, mourning the loss of Chris Cornell.


Yesterday morning, I woke up to so many notifications that my phone could hardly function. I managed to open texts from a friend that were just expletives - obviously, he was upset about something - and my immediate thought was "shit... someone else has died".

Chris Cornell was probably the last person I expected it to be. From an outside perspective, everything seemed fine in his world. He was touring with Soundgarden. He was heavily involved with charitable organizations. He was a devoted father and husband. His social media posts were all in typical good humour. But now he's gone? It didn't seem real. We can never really know what's going on with a person beyond their outward appearance and what they show the public - depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses can grip so forcefully, yet be hidden so well. I know this firsthand, as many of you do. I'm sorry to hear that he may have been suffering.

He appeared in 'Singles', one of my favourite movies
The shock of his death took a few hours to truly sink in, and when it did... it wasn't pretty. I grew up with Chris' voice, and I mean that literally. I've gone through so many different phases with his music throughout my life, he was just that constant, ever-present sound. As I wrote on Facebook yesterday, he was like the "Grunge Dad" to me. He was supposed to live to a ripe old age, telling his stories from the early 90's, re-visiting Temple of the Dog, early Soundgarden, and the days of the long hair (and longer shorts), while continuing to make new music.

That's how it was supposed to go.



I only had the chance to see him live once, when Soundgarden played with Nine Inch Nails in Toronto a few years back. I had badly wanted to see him during his acoustic solo tour around the same time, but couldn't find anyone to come along before the show sold out. I regret not going even more now, I should have gone alone.

Fairly often, I talk (or blog) about his scenes in the Pearl Jam Twenty documentary; they always had an impact on me. When he breaks down and cries while discussing Andy Wood's death, I'm rarely ever able to keep it together. Now, watching that will be even tougher to get through.

Chris getting choked up over Andrew Wood's death in PJ20
To me, there was always something seemingly mature and steady about Chris. Like he was the conscience and voice of reason among his peers. I know he had his issues with drugs in the past, but has apparently been sober for quite awhile now. In many of the musician biographies I've read (and we all know I read a lot of them), Chris is often mentioned, and always favourably. He was loved and highly respected by artists across all genres of music.

Anyone I know who has met him, or who knew him, has had only great things to say about him.


One thing is for sure, no one has a voice like his. The unique sound, the crazy four-octave vocal range, is so very unmistakable. Whether singing for Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden, Audioslave, his solo work, or even Alice Mudgarden (for the fans who know), Chris Cornell was arguably one of the greatest rock vocalists.
This is a loss.

Rest in peace, Chris. Say hi to Andrew.


Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Silent In Error & Vocal In Spotlights

I've blogged a number of times about the many mixtapes my sister made for me when I was young. The ones that more or less shaped the musical  tastes in my young Shambled brain.

While it's been a long time since I've gotten one of those tapes (what the hell, Steph?!), my mixtapes of the 80s and 90s evolved into my own mix cds - which I can still remember the tracklists to - and those evolved into something that is now a daily fixture for me.

These days it's all about the playlist.

 

Listen, I get it. Most people don't do playlists. They throw on entire albums, or shuffle their whole music collection. Fair enough. I do that too. But more often than not I'm deep into a carefully curated, perfectly picked playlist that suits a specific need.  

I'll give you some examples, whether you want 'em or not (you likely don't).

Whenever songs are stuck in my head, new albums come out, or I have certain tunes/bands I'm obsessing about, those songs are all thrown into a "Right Now" playlist that I listen to pretty much every day. I add and delete as needed, but it's on rotation the most. A constant shuffle of the tracks I want to hear until I get completely sick of them.

My most-loved songs? There's a playlist for those. I'm forever adding my all time favourites, and it's a never-ending process. For anyone wondering, it's currently over 9 hours long. (And this is why I can never answer that "5 favourite albums" question. It ain't possible, folks.)

If I want sad songs, I've got the "Stab Me In The Heart With A Ballpoint Pen" playlist. If I want to dance in my chair while working, I've got the aptly-titled "Chair Dancin' " playlist. I have playlists specifically for singalongs, yoga, the nineties, the cottage, road trips, road rage, etc. I also have one called "Kris-Tested, Chino-Approved", in case you were wondering where Deftones-related things stood.

I have long believed that there is an art to the perfect playlist. For the ones with a specific mood or theme, I take slightly obsessive care to ensure that every song fits; they're all pieces of one big musical puzzle. Each song choice is calculated. Just like with a great mixtape back in the day, it's personal. And so a playlist, in itself, becomes a great album. A favourite album, in fact.

So yeah. I love a good playlist. I am a lifelong advocate of the playlist. We're in a relationship & it's gettin' pretty serious.


What's on your favourite playlists?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

As My World Comes Crashing Down I'll Be Dancing, Freaking Out.

Most days I take Daisy for a long walk by the lake. The other day I was doing just that, when I saw two women speed walking toward me. So I say hello as I usually do (we're typically a friendly bunch around here), and smile at them as they walk by.

But the closest woman shoots me a disgusted look as though I just screamed profanities and threatened to steal her firstborn child. As they passed, she loudly whispered bitchily to her friend, "She should really keep that covered in public."

Wait... what?


At first I thought she was referring to my tattoo, for some odd reason. Though it's on my shoulder/back, one of the roses peeks through the top of my shirt sometimes. But no. There's no way she could see that, plus they're flowers. Hardly offensive.

So what else could she be talking about?

I checked out my clothes. I wasn't wearing any of my band tshirts, so no zombies or questionable graphics and words to worry about. Jeans and a plain grey shirt were hardly offensive. All of my body parts were covered. Nothing on display.

I just couldn't figure out what had made her react that way; what offended her so badly that she would make her disgust public.

Then I realized... she was talking about my scar.

Yup. A freakin' thyroidectomy scar.

In December I had surgery to get my thyroid removed, so I now have a small red scar across my throat. Before and right after the surgery, I was already extremely self-conscious about it. So much so, I didn't even want the bandages to come off because I was scared of having to look at it in the mirror everyday. And also because of reactions like this lady's - I didn't want people to be disgusted when they saw me. I knew it would look like my throat had been slit open, because... well, it had been.

Be prepared, ok?

But in the end, the scar isn't nearly as bad as I anticipated. It's pretty small. Once it's actually healed, I doubt it will be all that noticeable.

A lot of the time I forget it's even there, aside from the residual pain as it heals. When I go out, I'll still often cover it up with a choker or scarf (even though that causes further soreness). But lately I've been covering it less, because I care less. Friends have told me to display the scar, like it's a point of pride. I've gotten a few weird looks here and there, but never this reaction. Never this open disgust.

You may be wondering why I bothered blogging about this. I suppose it's because I want to be reassured that this woman was the exception, and not the rule. That the average person wouldn't be so judgemental over something insignificant. This was her response to a small thyroid surgery scar - not a hugely visible blight, in the grand scheme of things. So would she be nastier to those who have been through really serious procedures? To those with scars that can't be easily hidden?

It bothered me most because it came from another female. It felt they way it does when women openly judge other women for their clothes, their bodies, and their personal choices. Hey chick, lighten up! I had surgery, I didn't do this to myself as a fashion statement. I fully support your bright speed walking outfit, can you not support my choice to surgically remove something related to my illness?

Then again, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe she wasn't reacting to my scar at all.

It might've just been my face that upset her. Sorry 'bout that, Judgy Speedwalker Lady. We're cool.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

If You Sting Me, I Won't Mind

All over Facebook last week, everyone was posting their top ten albums from when they were a teenager. Not only has it been a bit of a nostalgia trip, but it's got me thinking - what did I listen to then, compared to what I listen to now? Have my tastes changed that much?

Nope. Not really.

I listened to a lot of Deftones. Alice in Chains. Tool. Rage Against the Machine. All the grunge. Plus classic rock. More Incubus, Stone Temple Pilots, Weezer, and Sevendust than now, but the general idea is the same. I like what I like, and generally like it for a long time. We all know how much I dig my 90's music still.

All of my photos are in storage, so this is the only teen photo I could find - a grad pic after I darkened my hair. Ugh.

Of course, there was also the Korn, Limp Bizkit, and Slipknot phase since that was smack dab in the middle of the "Nu Metal" era. Anything remotely heavy was thrown into that category, it seems. It's pretty amusing to look back on as a 33 year old. But it wasn't all bad. Really, it wasn't.

I may be forgetting a lot of what I listened to then, as I've probably blocked out a lot of my teenage years. That was long before I owned my awkwardness and anxiety, and I truthfully don't look back fondly on a lot of that time. But I do remember the music that stuck.

What I'm noticing a lot when people are posting their teenage lists is some embarrassment over what they used to listen to. I think the main difference between my teenage list and my current list is that I had a major Backstreet Boys phase, and I loved the Spice Girls. I'm not embarrassed by this in the slightest. First of all, I will still sing and dance my ass off to those first two Spice Girls albums, and Scary Spice is still a cool chick. While I don't care about the Backstreet Boys anymore other than for sheer nostalgia, I stand by my former love for AJ McLean. Yes, I have a type.

One of the many posters that had been on my teenage walls. Met the Deftones at 16.

When I was a teenager (1996 - 2002), there was a lot of bad music. Not to say there isn't now, but as an adult I'm lucky enough to not have to be exposed to much of it. As a teenager, it was unavoidable. High school meant enduring the pop music I detested (save for Backstreet Boys when I was in Grade 9, and the Spice Girls). To give an example, "I'm Blue" by Eiffel 65 came out while I was in high school. Yikes. Still can't wrap my head around that particular gem.

So, what's my top ten? No idea. I don't think I could whittle it down to the ten I listened to most during those particular years. But there are many that came out while I was a teenager that hold up & are still in constant rotation today.

As for the ones that I previously loved and wouldn't listen to now if you paid me, I feel absolutely no shame about liking them when I was young. I may have never been a Britney fan in my life, but you can bet that if "Crazy" comes on I will gladly do a gawky dance to it. Hair flips and all. Because it reminds me of being young, even if that wasn't all sunshine and lollipops. (Or bleached teeth and back-up dancers, as it were.)

No one should ever make apologies for what they like. Especially what we liked as a teenager. Hormones are a bitch, and whatever we listened to helped us get over that awkward bridge from childhood to adulthood. So congratulations. We survived it, and lived to tell the tale.

We've got the soundtracks to prove it.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

I've Got A Knife To Cut Out The Memories

This post may seem all over the place or confusing to some, but bear with me. There is a point.

Well, sort of.

When I was little, I read a lot. Still do, obviously. But before all the novels I adored, there were the usual children's books. People my age should remember these: Robert Munsch. Clifford the Big Red Dog. Little Critters. And a series of children's books about a family of bears, one that I always knew as Berenstein Bears.
Looks right to me.
In recent years, it has come to light that anyone who clearly remembers The Berenstein Bears was incorrect - they did not exist. Instead, the books were actually about The BerenSTAIN Bears. For everyone who, like myself, remembers for a fact that they owned BerenSTEIN Bears books with that specific spelling, there is no proof of it. No books can be found with that spelling, the publishers swear they never happened... But isn't it strange that a huge number of people (and I do mean a lot) are so sure that they owned these books? In fact, I was so sure of it because I pronounced it Beren-steen. Still do. And as a bookworm spelling freak little girl/adult, I've never been one to mis-remember words.

This debate - believe it or not - has caused an uproar all over the ol' internet, being referred to as part of something called The Mandela Effect. It's when a large number of people have incredibly specific memories of something that never actually occurred, like how many all over the world are adamant that they remember Nelson Mandela dying while in prison in the 80's. But he didn't. He died in 2013, long after he was in prison.

Another more recently discovered example of this is about a 90's movie. Does anyone recall the film called Shazaam, where Sinbad played a genie? A lot of people remember it. But it didn't exist. There was a movie called Kazaam with Shaq as the genie, but people somehow clearly recall a different movie with Sinbad. They remember it so well that when Shaq's movie came out, they thought it was a rip-off of Sinbad's.

There are a few theories as to how The Mandela Effect happens. One is that everyone who clearly remembers these non-existent things were actually in a parallel universe or alternate reality (which would mean I'm a dork in all realities). Another theory is that it's all just the power of suggestion - someone says they remember it a specific way, so others start to believe they did too.

Since The Mandela Effect was coined by a paranormal expert (I guess that's a thing), it's probably worth mentioning that psychologists actually call this confabulation. In this case, that means mis-remembering and creating a false narrative without conscious effort.

Go crazy? Don't mind if I do.
Why am I writing about this? I mean, the Sinbad thing doesn't affect me, and I'm aware that Nelson Mandela did not die in prison. But for me, the Berenstein / Berenstain thing was a mind trip. I'm so sure that my books were Berenstein. And while I could likely shrug it off eventually and think maybe I'm just wrong, there's someone else who is rarely wrong. My mom.

While in a book store a couple of months ago, I asked if she remembered the Berenstein Bears. She did. So I told her that they never existed, and that it was actually Berenstain Bears. My mom, who remembers everything and can usually be relied upon to be correct (yes, I just admitted that) was almost as adamant as I am.

I owned Berenstein Bears books. Not Berenstain Bears books. Didn't I?

Researching all of this can lead you into a deep, dark rabbit hole until you're fairly certain you've gone nuts. So here's where you come in. What do you remember? Did you ever own a Berenstein Bears book? Do you recall Nelson Mandela dying in prison? And when you think of genie movies from the 90's, are you picturing Sinbad?

It amazes me that thousands upon thousands of strangers can incorrectly recall the exact same insignificant thing. So go ahead, amaze me more. I'll be over here, crying & rocking in a corner with my non-existent Berenstein Bears books, certain I've gone insane.

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?



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