Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008: In Pictures

Well, this blog was originally intended to be a photoblog... so I thought I'd blog some photos today as a recap of my year :)



New Years Eve at the Pier in St. Petersberg, Florida


MGM Studios (now Hollywood Studios) with Dan, Victor and Nicole



Hanging out with Victoria, Charlene & Raphael in NYC :)


Spent the day wandering NYC on my own... walked across the Brooklyn Bridge for the first time!



Decided to road trip to Buffalo / Niagara Falls to hang out with Raphael (and Charlene & Fred for one night) ... little did we know that the worst snowstorm of the year at that point was going to happen on that weekend. It was insane. But beautiful!


Miss Paris' 3rd birthday!


Working on Test The Nation, I met TOMMY CHONG!!



Drove out to Waterloo to hang with Lindsay, and see a Danny Michel concert. Here we are after the show.


On a whim, decided to go to High Park for Earth Day. I got some great shots!



Uncle Frank's surprise birthday party. Here's my Nonna with her brothers.


Miami Beach! (Went to Florida for a week; spent time in Clearwater, Miami & Ft. Lauderdale. It was good times!)



Spent the day baking with my Nonna. My first time making biscotti!


Kels & Kristyn came to visit! Awesome!


One of mine and Errol's famed trips to Honest Ed's


How Do You Solve A Problem Like Maria: Team Awesome :)



Spent Canada Day at the beach, playing "Frizz-Ball" with my friends (yes, we invented it) and watching fireworks.


Maria Producer, David Rosen, speaking to Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber during a commercial break. I know David will read this, and he BETTER be pleased that his picture has finally made it to my blog!! haha.


Maria wrap party! Here is team script in wrap party action. Elvira, Gavin, Pam, David & I.  Why am I the only lush with a wine glass in this pic? 



Pete took me up to his cottage in Peterborough, and chauffeured me around on the boat for a wonderful day. I got great pictures this afternoon, too.


Pete's 30th birthday party! I think we look smashing in this pic. I'm wearing the dress Marisa wore on week 1 of HDYSAPLM. After we wrapped, there was a wardrobe sale, and this dress was amazing, and just my size! Loooove.


Road trip to Michigan! The lovely Rebecca hosted me for the weekend, and we met up with Jenny & then Lori & Kurt took us out for dinner. Awesome weekend.


A lovely date in the park : picnic, photos, paper shops. Boys should take note of this.  This was my favourite shot from that day.  Actually, it's one of my favourites that I've taken all year.


Errol, Krista and I in DISNEYLAND!!! Woohoo, California!!!


Came home just in time for the CNE. I go every year. This time I brought Rae with me... he had no idea what he was getting himself into :) It was definitely good times.



Back to NYC, for the second time this year! This time, with my parents. We gave him the trip for his 65th birthday present, because he'd never been before.



This was a still from the indie short film I worked on, Scratched Out.


Nuit Blanche! An all-night art festival thing that Toronto does every year. This was a shot that Rae took of me. Super cool.


My 26th birthday party! Such a good time, almost all my friends came, and all the food I made tasted amazing :) LOL.


The birth of my new niece, Olivia Violet! :)


Random and spontaneous FUN with Rae in Niagara Falls


Halloween Flapper Girl! The Mari(s)a dress makes a re-appearance, here with Ann-Marie and Amy



Took my first dancing lesson! Unfortunately, I have yet to go back for my SECOND dance lesson. LOL. Hopefully I will have more time in the new year.



I am the Sound Angel for Brainsgiving '08 :)


Amy and I participated in our first craft sale as Kat and Toad! It didn't really go all that great for me, but I'm looking forward to doing more in the future :)


Merry Christmas! This was my favourite holiday picture this year.


The reunion of some of my favourite people in the world. I know, I just posted a blog about this yesterday, but it was necessary to go into my year recap :)

So Long, Farewell, 2008! You turned out to be a pretty good one. But I'm very much looking forward to whatever 2009 has in store. :)

Happy New Year, everyone!  Wishing nothing but the best for all of my blog friends & your families and loved ones.  
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Monday, 15 December 2008

The Weekend: DM Review, party!

Okay, so I skipped out on Ten Tune Fridays last week. I was just too busy. I thought about posting with my top ten Danny Michel songs, since the concert was on Saturday... but I just didn't have time.
Instead... you get my review of the show today.
Saturday ended up being a crazy busy day for me. I got my hair cut for the first time in months (just haven't had time until now!) and then at 5pm, I started heading downtown to meet Susan and her husband Bernard, for dinner and then the Danny Michel show. We decided to eat right at the Rivoli, where the show was taking place. I had an awesome burger, followed by an even more awesome slice of carrot cake. Mmm, indulgences.

We headed into the show fairly early, and got a table right up front. Total change for me, because I'm used to going to shows either right on time, or even sometimes a little late, to avoid lineups. It was super cool though - because they had tables set up, if we had gone late, I totally wouldn't have been able to see anything. So props to Susan and Bernard for that decision! It was rather interesting seeing a completely bare stage... no drums... no guitars set up... I could tell that we would be in for a good night.

The opening act was a girl named Jenn Grant. Super cute girl. I think the comparisons I drew were to Lindi Ortega (for her between-song banter) & Over The Rhine (for the sultry sound of her voice). Susan and Bernard also drew comparisons to Feist, which is about right, I'd say.

Not too long after Jenn's set finished, Danny Michel took the stage. I'm not sure if you've gathered this yet, but I'll say it again - Danny Michel is my absolute favourite musician ever. I think he is so completely talented in every way. He is definitely my musical crush.

He opened up with Bones, a song both Susan and I were hoping, but not really expecting to hear, so that definitely got things started off on the right foot - not that I expected any less.

Through the course of the evening, he played a LOT of older songs, which was a plus, for sure. Going to a lot of the bigger venue, full-band shows, it seems that he tends to concentrate his setlist on the newest release, but this was a tiny venue, and just Danny on stage. He did also play some new songs, including two of my favourites from the latest album - Tell Sally and Feather Fur and Fin.

Danny ended up playing for almost 2 hours, including the two encores that he was brought back for. Funniest moment - a fan towards the back of the room shouting: "PLAY SNOWGLOBE!" "COME ON, IT'S CHRISTMAS!!!" ..... .... "PLEASE!" LOL, it was just such a Canadian thing to do. Another bit in the encore that was also funny - Danny does this thing when he plays solo gigs where he records different instruments on stage to create a backup loop for his guitar. So he was doing this, and he gets to the xylophone, and the very first note he hits is wrong, and he exclaims "shit, there's a wrong note in there" ... but of course, it was still recording. So throughout the song, if you listened closely, in the loop, you could hear "shit, there's a wrong note in there!"

Hilarious :) It was such a great show.

More pics at my flickr (though I didn't take too many, because I was enchanted by the show!)

On Sunday, Amy hosted what will hopefully become the first of many holiday parties! There were lots of treats, lots of retro throwback movies (including He Man and She Ra's Christmas special!), and great friends! It was definitely good times all around. I baked chocolate cupcakes, and used a piping bag for the icing for the first time - definitely a hit! If you're on my facebook friends, you can view some more pictures there.
Here's me, Annie & Amy, at the beginning of the party.
I still have barely even started my Christmas shopping. I'm completely not in the mood this year - all I want is a vacation. LOL. Sadly, it doesn't seem like I'm going to get one. Is it January yet?
Brief Crafty Ramblings:
THIS is absolutely gorgeous, and I wish I had the time, patience and skill to make it.

THIS on the other hand, is still stylish and pretty, and I think I will make it!

Also a very cool project that I intend on doing when I have time and materials!
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Thursday, 11 December 2008

Review: Andy Kim Christmas Show @ the Mod Club

Last night, I went to the 4th annual Andy Kim Christmas Show at the Mod Club in Toronto, which has become a Christmas tradition of mine over the last 4 years, since it started.

Some of you might be wondering, "Who's Andy Kim?" ... I guarantee you know him. You might not recognize the name... but I bet you will as soon as I start humming: "sugar, da-da-da-dah-da-dah, aww, honey honey..." or "rock me gently, rock me slowly... take it easy don't you know...."
Was I right?

Anyway. In previous years, this show had been presented by Mix 99.9 (a contemporary rock-pop station). But since they changed formats (and name) to Virgin Radio, Andy Kim didn't really fit the demographic. This year it was presented by CFRB 1010 (a news-talk format on the AM dial).

The sponsor change may have affected the lineup. In previous years, it seemed like the acts skewed a lot younger. At previous years of the Andy Kim Christmas Show, I’ve seen acts like Danny Michel, Raine Maida from Our Lady Peace, Serena Ryder, Haydain Neale of Jacksoul, and so many more. This years’ lineup was rather different. There were a couple of younger-skewed acts like Emm Gryner (who had also performed previously) and two members of Broken Social Scene, but most of the acts were a lot more… legendary, if you will. Gowan, Alex Lifeson from Rush, and The Kings were among the performers that took the stage last night.

Because of this, I was possibly the youngest person in the audience. And I was definitely the youngest person in the audience who knew all the lyrics to Andy Kim’s songs. Hah. I’m kind of used to it now. When I was a teen, I often was the youngest person the audience at shows that I went to.

There were only two minor annoyances at the show last night, and they both came from audience members. One was the girl that kept talking to us about how much she loved Andy, and celebrities in general, and how she should become a journalist (they would never let her near a journalism school!) The other was the supposed photographer with the awful blonde extensions. I’ve had an official photography pass for concerts, and the unwritten etiquette of photographers is that sure, you can head to front row, center, to get your shot. BUT, you NEVER linger there for more than a song, blocking all the true fans views. This girl plopped herself right in front of me, and broke up two ladies that had gone together, by standing right in between them, and was TOTALLY annoying. If I was those ladies, I would have started cross-talking in front of her, so that she got the message and went away. I think they were probably too polite though.

But I tried not to let either of those two bother me too much. The show itself was absolutely FABULOUS. Andy Kim came out with his band – I’d give you their names, but the only people I knew were my friend, Derek Downham on guitar, Terrence Gowan on bass (Def Leppard’s bass, to be precise), and new addition to the band, Peter Elkas – just after 8pm, fairly close to schedule. They opened with Rainbow Ride, which I don’t think I’d ever heard them play live! Awesome. Another change from years previous was that they played Sugar Sugar in the first set! It was so, so good. Stellar, even.

Up next was an R&B singer named Dru. Not gonna lie, the music generally isn’t my cup of tea. This guy was pretty good though. I could definitely get into it. He played two songs, a Christmas song, and one of his own. For his own song, he brought out four backup dancers, who were absolutely mesmerizing.

Following Dru was one of my favourite female performers, Miss Emm Gryner. Her Christmas song was a cover of The Waitresses “Christmas Wrapping” – which she had blogged about recently. She did a wonderful job remembering all the lyrics! Her next song was a bass duet (duel?) with Terrence Gowan, harkening back to THIS Andy Kim Christmas Show that I attended with my (then) friend who wrote the article. It was indeed, a very sultry version of The Beatles’ Revolution.  I'm definitely glad I was there to witness that song, revisited.  It was amazing the first time, and amazing last night too.  Emm was probably the highlight of all the guest performers for me. I simply adore her.

The Kings followed Emm. I don't really have all that much to say about them. I thought they were kind of cool. They played their song called Switchin' to Glide - which I swear I had never heard before, but I do know the quote "Nothing matters but the weekend from a Tuesday point of view" ... I always wondered where it came from. Now I know.

Gowan was the next act up. I think he sang a Christmas song, and followed it with "Strange Animal" (which, I believe if memory serves me well, he played at last years show too). Very high energy. Super cool to watch. For one of his songs, he brought out a 16-year-old to play drums. I'm not sure if it was his son or his nephew (I couldn't tell if it was Terrence or Lawrence that spoke into the microphone saying "that's my nephew!" when they introduced him). Then Andy came out and they sang a duet together.

Andy did a few songs, and then Ron Sexsmith came out. He played a couple of Christmas songs - one that I think he did last year, and one new one that I can't quite recall. Then Andy joined him on stage, and they sang Baby, How'd We Ever Get This Way. Here's my clip of that song, as performed by Andy Kim & Ron Sexsmith (and the rest of the band) ... the audio is absolutely horrible (my camera is really not meant for video recording, especially at a very loud venue) but it'll give you an idea of just how close I was, and the high energy in the room!

Up next came Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning from Broken Social Scene, supported by a band that they mentioned, but whose name escapes me right now. I know I will be hated by my Canadian indie-hipster friends... but I actually find Broken Social Scene to be kind of pretentious. I didn't really like their set last night (especially when dude was like, "okay keep talking, you need to talk..." to the audience. Umm, hello. You live in Toronto. And this is CLEARLY not your crowd. Just play your song and be nice. No need to be a downer at a Christmas show). I'm not sure who's idea it was to bring them on so late in the show (considering demographics, more than popularity), but I probably would have had them go on closer to Emm's set. The audience was kind of lost at this point.

Alex Lifeson of Rush was brought on next (after the most set change time of any act) . I'm not a Rush fan at all, but I must admit that he is a fabulous guitarist. It was very cool to see him play. One thing that I was disappointed in was that I had NO idea who his band was. They just didn't introduce them at all. I guess they figure it's just an honour to be playing with him - but I really would've liked to have known who they were!

After their set, all the performers that were left at the Mod Club came out on stage for the grand finale - Rock Me Gently.  Andy's most famous song.  He promised it would be unlike any version of it we'd ever heard, and boy was he right!  Awesome performances (there were a couple of missed notes/cues, but overall, that could be forgiven).  They didn't break into Lou Reed's Take A Walk on the Wild Side for the bridge, which they've done every other time I've seen them, so that was kinda neat, to hear a new arrangement.  

Click here to watch the Rock Me Gently finale from last night! Can't believe someone's already got it up on YouTube. I shot video of this, but my audio sucked, so I'm glad someone else got it. It's funny, because I can actually see myself holding up my camera, filming the song. (I was centre, about 2 people back)

I am slowly working on pictures, and will hopefully have them up on Flickr by the end of the night!  (Hah, when I look at the "post options" for this post, it tells me that I started typing it at 8:16am.  I don't think I've ever taken more than 12 hours to write a post before!)

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Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Sound Angel

Good thing NaBloPoMo ended on Sunday, because I totally did not have a second to blog yesterday ;)

Brainsgiving was a huge hit! Everything went off without a hitch (or, without any major hitches) ... I missed one audio cue (forgot to turn on the keyboard for a sound effect during the first sketch, dammit!), but other than that, it went rather well. Everyone told me what a great job I did at the end of the show... and I was credited as the "Sound Angel" which is totally cute. I could get used to that.

I'd forgotten how much I love doing sound. When I was in school, it's the only thing I wanted to do. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that I was going to be an audio engineer. It was what I knew. It was what I loved. In school, I engineered albums, I did on-site audio, I wrote & recorded songs. Then, after I graduated, I interned at a recording studio. And I saw what the audio world was like, OUTSIDE of school. And, though I absolutely LOVED my time at the studio, and I learned a whole lot, one of the things that I learned as a by-product of my time there was that I was probably not cut out for the audio world. I realized that while I completely loved (and was rather good at) the creative aspect of sound... I am really not good at the technical. I'm never quite sure what plugs into where, which frequencies need to be cancelled in order to stop feedback... but I am good at hearing what needs to be raised, lowered, eq'ed, etc, in order to get the right balance of sound.

Last night was good for that, because the two "regular" Gladstone sound people were there, and they mostly set up all the mics and tecchie stuff... and then I got to go in and play at the soundboard during the show! I definitely got the sweet end of that deal. It was also a good break from the everyday, too.

I took a tonne of photos last night, but I haven't gotten around to uploading them yet - it was pretty late when I got home. Look for them on Flickr later tonight at some point :)
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Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Day 12: On the Drive By Truckers & The Hold Steady show!

Last night, Katy and I headed down to the Phoenix after work to see The Hold Steady & the Drive By Truckers in a co-headlining show. I was introduced to The Hold Steady by my friend Joel Stewart, who I worked with on the Canadian Country Music Awards, and have totally loved them ever since. The singer has a way of kind of speak-singing, which some people don't really get, but I definitely love. What I didn't realize, going into the show, is that they've released a new cd, and that the cd I have (Boys and Girls in America) is no longer the current one. So they didn't really play that many songs that I know. I was really hoping to hear Chillout Tent. Freaking love that song. But alas, no dice.

Super awesome set though - they opened with Stuck Between Stations, which I totally love, and was the last song I listened to in my car before the show, so I had it in my head. And it was kinda funny, I'd never seen a picture of The Hold Steady before - the lead singer was completely NOT what I expected him to look like. He's this kinda nerdy looking guy, older than I expected... completely "normal" looking - not like a frontman that would turn heads if you saw him walking down the street. And I guess I was expecting this totally hot, alt-country looking dude (like half the people in the audience last night... holy crap, smokin' crowd!). So that was amusing.

Short break between sets (or at least, it seemed short, because we kept hopping outside, meeting new people, etc), and then the Drive By Truckers came on. I'd never actually heard these guys before, but I remember Errol mentioning them to me ages ago. They are freaking AWESOME. Very cool alt-country sound (which I am very much into right now). I'm not sure how these guys have been off my radar for so long, when they have the exact sound that I love right now.

We ended up leaving sort-of early (around 11:30ish) because we both had to work today, so we missed any encore that might have happened. I wonder what it would've been like, because I'm sure the two bands would've taken the stage together. (I looked up some past show reviews, and saw that they played Keep On Rockin' In The Free World together... that would've been cool to see!)

On a final note - I haven't been to a sold-out concert at a large-ish venue in a long time. And I totally remember why. It was a great show... but it was SO annoying being in a crowd that big. We were near the back, and no matter where we stood, it seemed like people would be constantly walking by, and bumping into us with their beers. Annoying. I didn't take any pictures, because there was no point. But either way, it was super fun, and I would definitely go see both of these bands again!
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Tuesday, 21 October 2008


My brand new niece!

Olivia Violet
Born: October 20, 2008, 12:11pm
7lbs, 9oz
Mom, Dad, baby and big sister Paris are all ecstatic, as are the rest of us!

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Monday, 6 October 2008

New York City!

This is a very late entry about my trip to NYC last month!
I'm not going to say much, because I've already talked about it in a million places... but here are the highlights:
- Top of the Rock: amazing views of the city! And total history in this building... it was very cool.

- B&H Photo & Video: I met my friend Pete (from Toronto, happened to be in NYC at the same time) here... this store was amazing. A technophile's wet dream. So cool.

- Manhattan Mall & Century 21: awesome shopping :)

- Highline Ballroom: went here to see Blue Rodeo on the Saturday night, I think. It was probably the most incredible concert I've ever been to. Such an intimate venue, to see one of my favourite bands. I even got to meet Jim Cuddy after the show!

- Friends! : Got to meet up with Victoria & Raphael, from NYC, randomly ran into a guy named Steve that I know from Toronto at the Blue Rodeo show, and the aforementioned meetup with Pete. It's so awesome hanging out with people you know when you're on vacation.

- Coney Island: my first time visiting! A lot of people were discouraging, saying that it wasn't really worth the trip out there... but I thought it was awesome! I even convinced my mom to ride the ferris wheel with me!

- San Gennaro: This is the yearly festival they put on in Little Italy, and pretty much the reason for the trip. Me and my mom wanted to bring my dad to the festival, because we knew he'd love it... and he did! Awesome.

- rats: Okay, this is not a highlight, but this was super creepy. At around 2am the morning after the Blue Rodeo show, I start hearing this rustling sound. Woke up my mom. Turned on the light. We saw a head, about as big as my fist, sticking out of our bags that were sitting on the desk. Both of us screamed and freaked out. It was kinda awful.

Photos, and there's a lot of them, can be found here:
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