Category Archives: Reviews
Getting my dad the perfect gift isn’t easy. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t want anything from anyone, and doesn’t have many hobbies besides woodworking and watching wrestling and hockey.
With that in mind, when I came across these wooden watches from JORD I instantly knew it was something my dad would admire for the work it would take to create such a unique piece.
The Frankie series Koa and Ash instantly caught my eye. The bronzed wood and simple grey and silver clock have the classic look a watch should have if you’re going to wear one in the day of the smartphone.
Wearing a watch today is a symbol of style, not function, so it should look this good.
I gave my dad the watch for his birthday and he was absolutely in awe of its construction and beauty. He works in a factory so he is afraid to wear it to work and risk damaging it, but otherwise, it’s his favourite thing to wear.
Because it is a watch with a band literally made of wood, ordering the accurate size is important. They offer a measuring system so you can find out what size you need to order. I measured my dad’s wrist but decided to size up just a tiny bit, just in case, and it was unnecessary. The watch arrived too big, but it comes with a tool to help you (or a jeweler) remove a link or two if necessary, so it wasn’t impossible to fix. With that in mind, I do advise ordering the exact size your wrist measures out to instead of sizing up.
Since it’s Christmas, you can also make it extra special by engraving both the watch, and the beautiful box it comes in, for an extra fee. The back of the watch is the perfect spot for a favorite quote or phrase you know that person lives by.
So there, the next time you think “I have no idea what to buy for this person,” now you have your answer.
So, this was the second ever WayHome Festival, and also my second time attending Ontario’s version of Bonnaroo.
If last year was the trial run, this year was smooth sailing all the way through. That said, there were very few kinks last year – the only one I really remember being Passion Pit having to cancel last minute only to be replaced with my faves Broken Social Scene. This was easily the highlight of last year for me, aside from seeing Neil Young play an incredible 3 hour set.
Due to work obligations, we arrived at Oro-Medonte this year on Friday evening, making it inside the festival grounds just in time to catch LCD Soundsystem – the band of the weekend.
We were still setting up our tent when we heard the opening notes to “Us V Them” and decided our tent was functional enough that we would survive the night with it as is. On the walk over, they played the one song my friend knew of theirs, “Daft Punk Is Playing At My House.” I was excited to watch him witness the greatness that is LCD, despite the fact that he honestly had them confused with the horrific band, LMFAO.
Once inside, they played “I Can Change,” and the moment I had been waiting for for six years finally arrived. Finally seeing LCD Soundsystem live was everything I had always expected it would be, and more.
Every time the opening riff for one of my favorite songs came on I looked back at my friend and exclaimed “This is my song!” Eventually, I sounded like a broken record. There is probably something quite annoying about someone explaining songs you’ve never heard before to you while you’re hearing them for the first time, but he was good sport, enduring my unending excitement/soundbites.
Songs 9 through 14 were essentially all my songs. The heartbreaking “Someone Great” was followed by “Losing My Edge,” which I excitedly summarized for him during the opening 10 seconds. It has long been a classic LCD song –and it is easily one of my songs– but to experience it with someone who was so into it at first listen that he demanded we sit and discuss it after the set, was something I’ll always remember.
“New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down” came on soon after, and I reveled in the feelings it always gives me toward my New York, Toronto. “But you’re still the one pool where I’d happily drown,” indeed.
Throughout the entire set, I was waiting for one song, which many would consider the song. When they briefly exited I was terrified for a split second that I wouldn’t get to hear it, but I knew that would be absolutely insane. They returned, and played a stunning version of “Dance Yrself Clean” and then came the moment that validated our rush hour arrival: “All My Friends.”
The opening notes hit the airwaves, and I COULD FINALLY exclaim, “THIS. THIS is my song. For real this time. This is the song.” And I danced, and sang along to every word, and cried, and enjoyed every goddamn second of it. It was glorious.
Day 2 was a little quieter due to hanging out at the tent with new camp friends and getting a little distracted by delicious Smirnoff Electric drinks we happily shared with our neighbours. They have easily become my drink of the summer (try the Electric Berry if you like sweeter drinks, the Electric Citrus if you prefer sour). Smirnoff also had an installation at WayHome, the Smirnoff Sound Collective, where they had live performances from electronic artists throughout the festival.
Once inside, I caught an incredible set by M83. Due to my friend being a huge Arctic Monkeys fan, we left early to catch Alex Turner’s other group – The Last Shadow Puppets. Personally, I was not feeling this set, it was the definition of rock and roll cliche, and beyond their obnoxious stage presence it did nothing for me sonically – but I see how their fans love it. It was certainly high energy.
Arcade Fire’s highly anticipated set was next, and having previously seen them play at Massey Hall and Bonnaroo in their early years, I knew they would be giving one of the most memorable performances of the festival.
A huge highlight was their quick cover of Springsteen’s “Born In the USA” before going into “Keep The Car Running,” a very Bruce-y track from Neon Bible.
Of course they saved all their best work (i.e. Funeral) for the end, with “Haiti” followed by “Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels),” “Neighbourhood #3 (Power Out),” “Rebellion (Lies),” with a quick change to “Here Comes The Nighttime.” They saved their greatest song of all time, “Wake Up,” for the finale – exploding confetti, fireworks and all. Due to the logistics of having no cell service at WayHome and losing my friend in the crowd, this set was not the highlight of WayHome for me that it might have been otherwise, but that is irrelevant to their spectacular performance. They played flawlessly and it was even more of a spectacle than it was back at Bonnaroo–although little blue lights didn’t drop from the sky this time.
After miraculously reuniting with my lost compadre, we overheard some of Savages set before heading to see Patrick Watson, who had a late start but made up for it by playing until 2am. It was the perfect way to reverse what ended up being a bit of a stressful evening, and it finally made me a full blown fan after hearing only good things for many years. He is incredibly funny, a talented performer, and very much worth seeing live any chance you get. The late night set under the stars was one I will compare many musicians to for years to come.
Day 3 arrived and while we were determined to see Stars, sleeping in after a late night and packing up left us missing their early set.
We did manage to make it inside in time for Black Mountain. I’ve seen Stephen McBean perform before, but always as Pink Moutaintops, so it was exciting to finally see the band in this formation, especially since their recently released IV is one of the most beautiful albums of the year so far. They played the secluded, shady forest stage, which was the perfect environment for this hippy Vancouver band to showcase their space aged concept record.
We followed it with The Arcs, (Dan Auerbach’s non-Black Keys outfit) that thankfully, sounds just as great as the Black Keys. It was a blazingly hot day at the WayBold stage which has absolutely no shade, which I think accounted for the less than energetic crowd.
Next up was Haim, the band I was most excited to see on Sunday. I had yet to see these sisters live so my expectations were high, after having fallen in love with Days Are Gone back in 2013. I must admit I wasn’t quite as blown away by them live as I had expected I would be. But it was still excellent to finally hear so many songs I’ve adored over the past few years live.
While I otherwise would have headed to see Ray Lamontagne next, with the festival winding down, I still hadn’t taken a trip on the Ferris wheel–so we overheard Glass Animals set while waiting in the lineup, and signed our life away for a spectacular view of the festival.
While I would have been fine leaving during the Killers set in order to get home to our real beds, we decided to stay for the finale. Again, Brandon redeemed himself from the terrible performance I have burned in my memory from their Hot Fuss tour. They gave a great show and it was fun to have a band we could both sing along to, all cool points aside.
Overall, it was an incredibly well organized, delightful festival, and they managed to build on what they started last year to create an Ontario festival that will certainly stand the test of time.
I love WayHome, and I miss it already. Until next year.
The Queen’s Plate has been a staple event in Toronto for many years. Channeling the glamour of the Calgary Stampede and the Kentucky Derby – it is the one event in Toronto that people go all out for, style wise.
Despite its long running history – this was the 157th Queen’s Plate! – this was my first time attending. While I’ve been to Woodbine once before, years back, and spent some time last summer visiting Mohawk Racetrack – I had been missing out.
That all changed this year, possibly because they changed the event up to include a live music portion after the races. Where there is music, I will go.
With this being my first year attending, I wanted to get there early and attempt to experience everything. This was probably not the smartest idea with it being such a long day, but I’m glad I now know how to plan for it in the future.
Upon arrival I explored the outdoor parties taking place, took in the outfits on display and enjoyed the local live bands that were playing the daytime portion. It can be an overwhelming site if you’ve never been before. The space is huge, and there is a lot going on before you even get inside to the racing portion.
After trying the official Queen’s Plate drink of the day (one of my favourite parts of the event), we went inside to find our seats and watch the races. While the earlier races aren’t as attended as the main event, it was interesting to watch the hardcore betters get excited about their horses.
When the main event – the Queen’s Plate race – approached, the inside of the venue began to be packed, and the seating area filled up quickly. This is what everyone was here for, and it showed. As the race began, the cheering was like nothing I’ve experienced yet in my visits to live racing. It was absolute madness. In a good way. In an exciting way. I immediately understood the appeal.
Sadly, I didn’t end up betting on a horse this time, because, with the event as packed as it was – I didn’t want to be the one person taking an hour at the booth trying to figure out how to place a bet. Yes, I’ve done it before, but not enough to remember how a year later. With so many people lined up behind me waiting to place theirs, I instead decided to just enjoy everyone else getting excited for their winnings.
Food wise, there was a nice variety of food trucks available to change it up from the standard food court inside Woodbine. I ended up trying some “Italian Poutine” that was actually just what I needed.
Now that the races were over, the concert portion officially began. One of my favourites (they almost made it onto my Polaris Short List vote ballot), The Strumbellas, took the stage. Sadly, I mostly missed their set due to the logistics of the horses getting in and out of the venue (you have to wait a while to get from the inside area of the building to the outside every time the horses leave and enter), but what I did hear of it was as excellent as I’ve come to expect from these guys.
At this point, it had been a long 7 hours on our feet running around the huge venue, and we were getting incredibly tired, but I did want to stay for Matt Good. I ended up staying for about half the set (which was excellent) before we called it a day.
Overall it was an exciting event, the kind of event we don’t see in Toronto often. And I think the choice to make it a ticketed event with a solid lineup is a big step in the right direction in terms of bringing out the younger crowd to an event we would otherwise likely miss.
Next year, it would be nice to see the concert and the races overlapping a bit more, if only to make it less of a long day on your feet when you’re that dressed up. But I do hope they keep running with the live music idea.
I hear a new live music venue is actually being built onsite, which is exactly what the city needs.
As you might remember, last year, Intel sent me a small Asus tablet that also worked as a mini laptop on the go – it was the miracle I needed, allowing me to easily work from anywhere without lugging around my heavy 17 inch laptop.
This is easily one of the coolest laptops ever, and of course, it is also a pretty great tablet. In the past I’ve worked from a variety of laptops: Macbook Air, Macbook Pro, an HP Envy, a Samsung laptop and the Asus tablet I mentioned above.
As a Windows user since I first touched a computer, the HP was always my favourite. When its hinge broke, I was very upset.
So when they offered this laptop to me I was ecstatic. My current main laptop – the heavy Samsung – had recently took a fall to the ground and was badly damaged.
The greatest thing about the Spectre is that it’s about as light and thin as a Macbook Air, and as proficient as I found the Pro to be for my (mostly writing) needs. The biggest bonus of course is 360 hinge that lets you use it as a tablet. When I’m reading scripts or eBooks, being able to completely flip the screen around and hold it in my hand like a tablet makes the process so much faster and more convenient.
It’s also as gorgeous as a Mac. Typing on it is a dream, it actually makes me want to write more.
Upon receiving, I quickly downloaded Windows 10, eager to get rid of the awful Windows 8 startup app page that was forced on us years back, and return to the start button we all grew up knowing and loving.
There are some new features I’m loving from Windows 10: Cortana – which is basically Microsoft’s version of Siri – is fun and makes life a little easier when you want to quickly know a sports score, currency conversion, or what the weather forecast is for tomorrow.
I also dig the virtual desktop feature, which, as I’m working more and more on screenwriting, is very helpful when writing my treatment and spec scripts. My blog life very much requires me being online, with a bunch of browsers open to all the social media feeds, but when I want to spend a couple hours on screenwriting, now I can easily switch to desktop 2 to completely escape that world for a while and solely focus on getting my writing work done without the constant distractions. It’s a miracle way of separating the different writing worlds I live in, and it allows me to prioritize just writing when I really need to get the important work done.
One annoying thing about changing computers though, was that this one didn’t come with Microsoft Office, and because I can’t find the paper with my key to Office, I have to pay for it again, which is very, very, uncool. You’d think that since Microsoft and Windows make you sign into your Outlook account to run the computer, you’d be able to sync to programs you purchased that you had on your old laptop – but no such luck.
Intel provided me with this product for review, but all opinions are my own!
As summer 2015 came to an end, the people at Ford decided to create an epic event to showcase their latest development, Ford’s Sync 3.
The new touch screen technology in their Escape allows you to easily navigate the city, call anyone in your contacts, change radio stations (or play your music from Spotify), hear text messages, and so much more – hands free.
The event began with a group of influencers coming together at Rock Lobster for a private, delicious lobster roll lunch, where we were paired up with another blog team to take on #TheHunt – a challenge a la The Amazing Race – where we jumped into the new Ford Escapes and, with a list of tasks in hand to complete in just 2 hours, we raced to complete as many challenges as possible.
Being the introvert that I am, at first I didn’t love the idea of being paired with strangers for the race, but it turned out it was a match made in heaven as they were just as competitive as we were, and they’re also super smart, sweet girls attending Ryerson, with a killer sense of style, so it was a fun day.
Our competitive spirit led to earning 3rd place out of maybe 10 teams (?) which we thought was pretty great, considering we never once cheated by splitting up to complete tasks.
After the challenge was over we drove to the Big Crow for a fabulous BBQ dinner, and then it was time to drink. There’s nothing like an open bar after a day of adrenaline pumping competition.
While the point of the challenges was to get us familiar with Sync and how many great features it has to help out in just about any situation, it was the creativity of this event that really stuck with me. Too often, bloggers get invited to events with the intent to promote a new product and yes there might be food or an open bar, but that’s about it. I applaud the incredible PR team at National for coming up with something this unique, while also giving us a chance to experience the product features in action.
As for the car itself, I chose to let Tiffany do the driving during the race as we figured it would save time if only one person drove (competitive, right?) but I took it home this past Thanksgiving weekend, and I can’t rave about it enough.
I’ll admit I am known for my bad habit of radio channel flipping (ask anyone who’s ever been in a car with me while I’m driving, or sitting passenger). It’s one of the only stupid things I do when driving, because I can’t bear to listen to a bad song when I know there are all those other stations out there that might be playing a better one.
Being able to just say the name of the channel I want to listen to and have it change to that station is the greatest thing that’s ever happened to me, car wise. My eyes stayed on the road at all times, and I got to switch songs as much as I pleased.
Other amazing features include a camera for backing up, a beeping notification if you’re getting too close to an object (talk about avoiding bumps and scratches), heated seats, hands free (!!) parallel parking, and for an SUV – it only cost me $39 to fill up – which means it is incredibly fuel efficient.
If you’re in search of an inspired connected car, this is one worth taking out for a test drive.