The Return from a Long Absence

First off to all of my readers, I apologize for the nearly 5 month absence (one Jays blog in April broke it up, but still).

I thank everyone who has continued to read this blog. I was astounded to login in today to find at least 20 hits a day to my blog, wow! Thank you!

I wrote a blog back in February that received an unexpected reaction that left a remarkably bad taste in my mouth, which snuffed out my fire for writing this blog for a period of time.

As many of you know I won a contest to see my then favourite band and to have the chance to meet them. Things didn’t work out quite as planned due to some miscommunications and a lack of organization. The band was great about it all, however their management left something to be desired. The response of their management to what I considered an honest and relatively positive blog (given the reaction I could have had) was disappointing to me, as a fan and as someone who was trained in the public relations profession. I was asked to remove my blog and offered free swag to do so; a bribe for all intense and purposes, a bribe that never actually came to fruition.

I thought at one point that I might edit that blog and repost it, but that never happened. All that happened was that I was left with anger and disappointment and the inability to enjoy my once favourite band and an uncertainty of what to write next on my blog.

While I can now listen to my former favourite band without gritting my teeth or the desire to turn off or change the radio station, my enjoyment of my once favourite band has been tainted. Alas it is time to move on and bring life back to this blog of mine.

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I’m a little late on this topic, given the mass amount of attention it has gotten over the last couple of weeks, but I wanted to address the name change to the John Labatt Centre.

I am disappointed to see the current branding of the John Labatt Centre end; but it was to be expected.

I have to say, I was not thrilled to hear the proposed name change to Budweiser Gardens. We go from a classy sounding, award-winning venue to a venue that sounds trashy and like nothing more than a place to go get drunk off an average (somewhat redneck) american beer that in my mind I associate most strongly with Nascar. My mind sees the Budweiser Branding plastered across the front of a nascar for some reason.

I talked to various people who said they would no longer feel comfortable taking out of town clients to the JLC, if it was branded the Budweiser gardens, it doesn’t exactly scream professionalism.

I also need to point out the obvious, I sure hope this branding doesn’t come into effect until after the 2012 World Figure Skating Championship or else our city’s global branding is going to take a hit. Also when you think Figure Skating do you think, hmm I want to crack open a bud? Combining the two just doesn’t make for the best combination.

I was really hoping that the JLC would retain community branding. I was told that it is just a business decision. And while I understand that, I can’t say that I agree with it and I don’t know that it is a business decision, I see it more as a money decision, because business in this city has proven to be more community driven than this decision was. Business in the city of London make business decision, but they don’t abandon community in making that decision. While many companies may work on projects that take them out of the community, they still are deeply rooted in this community giving back, supporting community, building community. This decision wasn’t London Business decision (to me at least), this decision was all about the money.

While there are many negatives to this name change, it is just that, a name change and that is all. Sure it isn’t great that the world is going to equate London Ontario with Budweiser, but there isn’t much we can do about it at this point.

Thankfully though the only thing that is changing is the name. While I am disappointed with that, I am happy that everything else, at the moment, appears to be staying the same. The team at the JLC is remarkable. They have worked tirelessly to grow that arena into a world-class facility. Service is impeccable, marketing, promotion, everything about that team is outstanding. They have brought HUGE acts, shows and events to this city. That team has given this city that kind of experiences that were once relegated to the bigger cities like Toronto.  The building is still the same, the team is still the same, it is just the branding that has changed.

The JLC may become Budweiser Garden and it may be what outsiders come to know our entertainment venue as, but to us, the people who have been invested since day one, the JLC will always be the John Labatt Centre and it’s the people inside of it and not the words on the building that make that true.

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Last year I wrote a blog title 27. It was somewhat of a challenge to myself to find a way to get my life on track. Life had been beating me down since I finished University at 21 (almost 22) and college at 23 (almost 24). Staring down 27, I was determined to make some changes, to force life to give me what I wanted, what I deserved.

Well, 28 is 9 day away and I have to say, sometimes a little extra fight and a bit luck is just what you need. I pushed myself to get out there more and forced myself to overcome social discomfort and get more involved. I started attending geek dinner, making some great geek friends. I joined Emerging Leaders and while I haven’t been the greatest at always getting out to their events, I made some other great friends. I lucked out and made a friend on twitter last year, a fellow brock alumni, who just happened to be leaving their job in the communications field here in London. Turned out, it was the perfect opportunity for me. I applied for the job, nailed (in my opinion) my two interviews, had the perfect references and I landed the job. On August 15th ( a day I’m happening to take as vacation) I will celebrate my 1 year anniversary. I like to think I’ve done a pretty good job since I’ve started. I’ve gotten great feedback from some of the people I work with, from some clients that I’ve had the opportunity to help. I’ve gotten to do a lot of cool projects that I am very proud of. I’m getting a lot experience, that is bolstering my confidence, which had been broken down during the 3 year job hunt.

I still don’t quite have the social life I thought I would at this stage in my life, but that is what happens when you and your friends grow up and grow apart and are spread across vast geography. But I got great colleague who also fill the friend role in life. We’ve made a habit of going out approximately once a month to celebrate making it another month in our jobs, as three of us all started within a week to 10 days of each other.

There are still things I’m working towards in my life. Paying off some bills, finding that work/life balance. Evolving life from organized chaos to straight organization (my space at home isn’t exactly cooperating with that all of the time). Establishing me time and space.

I have a good start though and things are going in the right direction. I’m getting better understanding of myself, what I want, what I don’t want and what exactly I want my life to look like.

27 was a pretty good year, I’m looking forward to what 28 has in store.

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Well that’s it folk, my first blog back after a hiatus. To everyone who follow for blue jays info, sorry, I haven’t been on the ball this season. I have lots of thoughts, I just hadn’t had the inspiration to write, here’s hoping for a better second half after the All-Star break, for both the Jays and my writing about the Jays.

Thanks for the continued support!

#JaysOpener – a better hashtag

I was scrolling through my tweets a couple of minutes ago and saw the @bluejays account tweet that if you’re tweeting about the Toronto Blue Jays home opener tonight use the hashtag #HondaHomeOpener and I couldn’t help by roll my eyes.

This is a 15 letter hashtag, 16 if you include the # that is more about making the corporate sponsor happy than actually creating a Jays nation on Twitter.

First if I’m tweeting about the game, I’m probably not going to have 16 characters to spare, that may just be me, but maybe not.

Second most of us add the hashtag #jays #bluejays and will likely add #jaysopener or #jays #homeopener to their tweets tonight, because it conveys the home opener and categorizes the Jays and uses something that has a strong likelihood to already trend in Toronto and even Canada tonight.

I get that making money and making corporate sponsors happy is important, especially in a city like Toronto who probably doesn’t have the marketing, merchandising and ad support that say a club like New York or Boston have, but come on, we’re now taking blatant corporate branding to Twitter that makes it feel like Honda’s part in this game is more important than the actual members of the Jays team, or heck that it is the Honda team that will be taking the field tonight. Did the Jays get renamed and I missed it?

As fans we identify with the Jays and the Jays home opener. Most of us could care less that it’s Honda who is backing this home opener. We are glad someone is backing the home opener, but it’s not a bow down moment to any of us. Yes the branding will be buried in the recesses of our minds, but really, unless we own a dealership, are a sales person for Honda, or MAYBE own a Honda, it could be Toyota, Ford, BMW, Lexus whoever that was backing this opener.

This game is about our JAYS, it is the JAYS home opener. It is for the players on that roster and the nation of fans that rally behind this team year after year. Yes money is important and corporate backings such as Honda’s are invaluable to the team, but, when there is only 140 character available, leave the marketing to the team and Honda, leave the fans out of it. If it’s a big deal to push Honda out into twitter, buy and add, but use a hashtag that works for fans and says something about our team, not the car manufacturer who won the rights to have their name tagged to the opener.

Those are my two cents and there it is folks, my first Jays blog of the season.

I cannot finish though without saying how proud I am of this team so far. They have played incredibly well in the first three games, and could have easily swept the first series. Here’s hoping they can maintain their level of passion and fight to sweep the Red Sox out of Toronto.

And for anyone wondering, this year’s Twitter Jays:

@jparencibia9

@blawrie13

@joeybats19

@2Morrow23

@CaseyJanssen

@SouthpawDO28

@Encadwin

@EThames 14

@Kyle Drabek

@VizquelOmar13

@RickyRo24

@bennyfresh_8

It’s Gonna Be a Good Life

2011 is coming to an end, so I thought I would blog about the year that has come to pass.

For the first time in a number of years I can look back at the past year of my life and smile and I can think about the future and be hopeful for what is ahead.

I cannot think of anything notable that happened in the first six months of 2011, but the second half of the year has proven to drastically alter the life I was leading.

On July 6th, I wrote two blog posts, one of which was 27. I was on the precipice of turning another year older. I was reflecting on the state of my life in comparison to the life I’d imagined I’d be leading in my mid to late 20s. I was nearly 27 and my life was not really my own and was nothing as I had imagined. I was determined to make a change, though fearful that I would make this pledge and still not be able to hold true to it and make changes in my life to find some form of happiness.

My first step towards getting what I wanted was to get out there and make an effort. For several years past, due to circumstances I’d resigned to a life of solitude. I rarely left my house (sad I know), never met new people, rarely talked to friends who were living their lives across the province, country and globe. In short I didn’t get out much and I’d made myself a bit of a social outcast and I did not like that version of myself a whole lot.

For at least a year I’d been saying I’d start going to #gdldn and I’d always managed to come up with excuses of why not to, mostly I didn’t have a car or money to get there, which while true, I probably could have found a way around. So on June 6th, the date of my 27 blog I attended my first geek dinner and stretch my comfort zone and attempted to re-engage with the world around me and (relatively) local community. I decided to put real people to the tweeps I’d been following for months and in some cases years.

I have to say I’m really glad that I ventured out to #gdldn that first time, so glad that I have gone back every month since. I have met great people and started to (I would argue) form decent acquaintances and maybe even friendships. A lot of the people I have met inspire me, intimidate me and challenge me to really strive to be the person I want to be. At the same time while these people inspire, intimidate and challenge me, they also make me realize that we all face our own challenges and that no one’s life is perfect and it is okay to not have everything figured out all of the time. So to all of the #gdldn crowd, thank you for making me feel like a part of something good.

That may not be the turning point of the year, but I think it definitely played a part. The other turning point of the year also happened in July. I had been furiously applying for jobs, determined to find something before or shortly after my 27th birthday. There were probably about 6 jobs that I thought might be a good fit. After two strong (in my mind) interviews, I was offered the position of Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre and before the end of July I was in signing my contract ready to start my new job.

Starting August 15th, I was (and am) the Social Media Specialist at the London Convention Centre. I always said I wanted to find a job that felt right that I could say I love. I’d walked away from a couple of job opportunities because it just hadn’t felt right to me. I wanted a job that I loved, surrounded by good people, because for me that is when I do my best work and am challenged to be my best. After 4 months, I think it is safe to say I have found a job that I love, surrounded by a great team. I remember in previous jobs I’d hit that afternoon wall at about 2pm and be stuck watching the minutes slowly tick by, and that rarely ever happens in this job. I enjoy what I am doing and always have work to be done. I feel like the people I work with value my thoughts and the work that I do and they actually look to me for ideas and answers, which is a great feeling. I look forward to getting up every morning and going to work and that is really all I ever wanted in those three miserable years of job hunting. I wanted a job that I looked forward to going to every day and a job that interested and challenged me. A number of people at work have commented on the fact that I am always smiling or that I always seem to be smiling and I have to say it is easy to smile when you are truly happy in your life and doing something that you love.

I love what am doing at work, but I also love the people who I work with and I say that sincerely. I have made great friendships with a number of people and I would trade my staff for anything. It is easy to do good work when you are having fun and I think we are often having a lot of fun with each other and when we’re not, I think we’re quite good at supporting each other through hard days, or difficult times, which is really nice. I cannot thank my two girls enough for keeping me from being a sobbing mess in the days after I found out someone I’d known years ago had passed away far too young.

I have met a lot of great people this year. My geek crowd, I cannot even begin to name all of you who make me smile each an every month and all the tweets in between. My coworkers, who I would argue in a number of cases are more than just coworkers.

None of these new people though replace the old friends who hold permanent places in my heart, like my best friend. As I write this I’m thinking, was it only this summer he got engaged? I think so! Man seems so long ago. This was great news and I was so happy for him and for his fiancée. Typically I dread weddings (sorry Matt), but the way life has been going, I’m actually kind of looking forward to a wedding (not my own … and oh ya I’m assuming I’m invited!).

The more I write this, the more I realize that it is not going to flow or necessarily make any sense. So I’m getting involved more, attending #gdldn, joined Emerging Leaders (finally only been cyberstalking for three years) and I have found an amazing job with fantastic people!

So what could be better?

Oh ya! Music! First off, I love the John Labatt Centre and Chris Campbell you rock!

Looking back at this year in music I have had the opportunity to attend 7 concerts.

First concert was Soundgarden. JLC gave away a bunch of tickets on Social Media Day and it was fantastic. Took my oldest friend along with me for the ride.

Shortly after that I won tickets for Owl City, but unfortunately could not make it to Toronto Mid-week to attend.

After that I wont tickets to see U2 Live at Rogers Centre on MY BIRTHDAY! Seeing U2 Live was a bucket list item for both me and my sister, so of course I now have the title of best sister ever because I took my big sister with me to see U2 live on my 27th birthday! Can I just say wow?! It was phenomenal. I took a bunch of videos, I believe I posted them on my (under utilized) Google+ account. It was a PHENOMENAL concert.

After that I was selected as a #JLCreviewer for Josh Groban. Unfortunately I came down with a horrible flu bug or something of a similar nature and was unable to attend. Hoping I get another opportunity to be a #JLCreviewer. I was campaigning to be a reviewer for Simple Plan on Feb 20th, but keep reading and you’ll see why I may not need to be rewarded that opportunity and those tickets.

Right after that I found out I’d won front row tickets for the Moody Blues at the JLC. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but as my Dad was/is a huge fan and it was right before his birthday, they made a fantastic present. The concert was in September and while my Mom wasn’t thrilled being front Row my Dad had an Amazing night! So thank you Live Nation Ontario who made that happen!

After winning those tickets and before that concert, the JLC made another dream come true and myself with two friends and my sister with two of her friends … two single gals and four Mom’s went to see NKOTBSB and O.M.G. that was a show to never forget, I mean, I know it is apples and oranges, but the entertainment value of that show rivalled the U2 show that  was just out of this world. I would hazard to say that Donny Wahlberg’s body help to elevate that show to that level. It was music of my childhood and youth and I shared it with my sister and one of my oldest friends and four others. I don’t think I’ve ever screamed so much, though I’m pretty sure that will change in the coming months.

And now here is the BIGGEST Music news for 2011.

That’s right, I entered a contest to see Marianas Trench live on a lark. Figured what did I have to lose and heck if I won that would be pretty freakin amazing. I didn’t think I stood the snowballest of chances. In fact, I’d forgotten that I’d entered the contest and that there was even a contest. Forgotten until my phone started vibrating the night of Dec 21st and it was a message from a rep at 604 records saying I’d won two tickets to see Marianas Trench stage side and hang out with the guys! O.M.G.! Ya right! I’ve watched the above video about 100 times just to make sure that I didn’t dream it. Now I haven’t talked to the rep yet, but I’m pretty sure I will be at the Simple Plan concert on Feb 20th, which is featuring Marianas Trench and I will be stage side for the show hanging out with the guys of Marianas Trench, which will be unreal and I sincerely hope I can keep my crush on Mike Ayley under control. As I was saying before I may not need the #JLCreviewer opportunity for this concert, but please keep my name in the running until I hear for sure that that is the show I will be attending. Oh and I will still be reviewing that concert if I am there, likely from stage side and hopefully they will let me take pictures!

So lets see, social life, heading in the right direction, job, is excellent, my 2011 concert going experiences have rocked and I have Hedley and Matt Nathanson (ok Kelly Clarkson, but he is opening for her) already set in 2012. And maybe (que long ramble of a run on blog sentence), possibly, there may be a guy in my future, maybe, who knows, there is a possibility of one, we will see, that is all I will say.

2011 has gone my way and 27 has certainly started to transform my life into everything I expected it to be by my late 20s. I still have 7 months left of 27 and I am determined to make the most of them. 27 is going to be my year, the started to everything I ever wanted!

So here’s to all that 2011 gave me and here is to everything 2012 has in store, I cannot wait to see it all unfold!

Awesome!

The other day while I was Christmas shopping I bought myself a gift. When I got my new job I’d been told about Neil Pasricha and  The Book of Awesome. I’d bought it and read it cover to cover and quite enjoyed it. So while I was in Chapters the other day and say a 30% off sticker on The Book of (Even More) Awesome, I snagged it up.

I was just reading it now and came across the entry titled Getting a hug from someone you didn’t know you were in a hug relationship with  and this instantly made me smile and it was something I could relate to because I experienced that this past month.

Getting a hug from someone you didn’t know you had a hug relationship with reminds you somebody cares about you. Sometimes it’s good to skip the high fives and hand-shakes. Sometimes it’s just good to hug. 

~ Neil Pasricha, The Book of (Even More) Awesome

I smiled to myself and thought this is so true. On November 23rd (yes I remember dates, I’m kind of weird like that), I was having a rough day. I woke up that morning and my cell phone was buzzing. When my cell phone is buzzing it is one of three things, a missed call from a wrong number (this has been happening often), my sister needing something or a message from my best friend.

Knowing that my best friend was going through a difficult time, my heart sank as I opened my messages. It was a message from the night before that I had missed and it was bad news that broke my heart and instantly had me in tears. My best friend means the world to me and when he’s hurt or sad, I’m hurt and sad for him. I would do pretty anything for him, but geography sometimes makes that difficult. We live 2.5 hours apart, so I can’t always be there for him, like he was for me when I was going through a hard time. When I read the text all I wish I could do was give him a huge hug, like the ones he always gave me to brighten my days in a dark year.

I pulled myself together and got ready for a long day. On the drive in to work I ended up in tears again because the song I identify the most with him and all he did for me through my tough time came on the radio. I managed to hold back enough tears so that I didn’t look like a raccoon when I got to work. I made it to work, worked my butt off and  attended an event we were hosting that night for a group I’m a member of. The day provided distractions for me, but my best friend was still in the back of my mind the entire time. I was worried about him, sad for him and my greatest wish was to be able to give him a hug that could give him that brief moment of comfort and relief, but I couldn’t, which made me feel like I needed a hug.

I’m not really a ‘huggy’ person. Hugs were never a huge part of my life growing up or with friends. My best friend of the last 7 years is pretty much the person who brought hugging into my life (non-grandma hugging that is, grandma hugged me a lot). For my third year at Brock, he hugged me every single time he saw me, it was always one of my favourite things about seeing him.

Anyways, that night, at the end of the night, I was talking with a fairly new friend and walked with them to one of the exits of our building. He is someone I met less than 6 months ago. We’ve talked a fair bit and stuck together at events and become friends. Actually in a number of ways he reminds me of my best friend.  As we were saying goodnight and parting ways, he gave me a hug. It was rather unexpected. He was not someone who I realized I was in a hugging relationship with, this had never happened before. It was a pleasant surprise and something that I really needed that day. It caught me by surprise, but in a good way and I really appreciated that unexpected hug.

As Neil Pasricha would say, AWESOME!

In case the unexpected hugger happens to read this, thank you 🙂

A Lost Wabbit – RIP Kale

Monday night, I got home from work, I was sitting on the couch, watching TV, with my computer on my lap. I was letting go of all of the stresses of my day while scanning through my Facebook news feed, like I do daily. That’s when something caught my eye, and not in a good way.

In 2004-2005, I was a Don at Brock University. I was responsible for overseeing a court of 75 students. I was the Don of the Wetherald Wabbits and I honestly believe I had the best court that year. While I had some wascaly wabbits, I had a lot of amazing people in my court. My students often made me feel like a proud momma, though being the same age or younger than a number of my students.

So on Monday October 17th, when I saw this, my heart sank:

Mark Foster: The world lost a great man. Kale Garner was a guy I will never forget. RIP in the big bunk bed in the sky.”

I read that and all I could say was “What? Oh my God”.

Mark and Kale were two of my students from when I was a Don. They were my 813D boys. My 813 house was probably my favourite house from top to bottom. There wasn’t one guy in that house that I didn’t like and think highly of. 813 A was Adam, B was Rob, C was Steve and D was Mark and Kale.

Mark told me that Kale had died running a Marathon in Toronto the previous day. I found this article, a vague, general article that would have been sad to read flipping through a paper, but was heartbreaking reading knowing that it was someone I knew. It didn’t make sense to me at all. It had been over six years since I met Kale and he was one of my students, but the way I remembered him didn’t computer with what had happened. Kale was an athletic guy. I remembered that he loved Hockey and Golf and that he’d played hockey for years. He was an extremely active and healthy guy. I think I remember catching him on the way to the gym a number of times that year he was in my court. I just didn’t get it. Another story running with this one was that an 100-year-old man had finished the race. It made no sense to me, how could a 100-year-old man complete this race and a healthy 27-year-old drop dead? It happened though.

I only knew Kale for a year and the news had me in tears, I can only imagine how much this hurt his family and his life long friends.

As I’ve said, I only knew Kale for year. We were for a while Facebook friends though and I always tried to wish him a Happy Birthday, because it was easy to remember, it was the same day as my sister’s.

Thinking of birthdays and Kale made me laugh because I remember the year that I was his Don. I was only 20 when I was a Don and I didn’t really share that with my students, because I knew that most of them were my age. I had fast tracked, they had taken a year off and I knew, that if I wanted them to listen to me, having a number of them know that I was younger than them wouldn’t help me.

One night though, I was outside and I was talking to my 813 boys, Kale included and our ages came up, they all assumed that I was in my mid-twenties and I looked at them and said you would be surprised. Kale looked at me skeptical and said how old are you? I knew when all of my students birthday’s were so I looked at him and I said, actually, I am 6 months younger than you are. He was shocked, he never would have guessed that.

Kale was an amazing guy. He wasn’t one of my more visible students, but he was one that I really truly liked and could see be friends with. Kale was charismatic. I don’t think I remember a time when he wasn’t smiling or laughing. His smile was infectious and his sense of humour was amazing. He was also incredibly smart and studious. Kale was also a very good-looking guy, but he was humble, charming, kind and considerate. He is one of my students, who I will always remember. I will remember his name, his smile and his personality, he is not someone that could be forgotten

I had the hardest day of my life that year that I was a don. My grandpa lost his battle with Cancer on October 16th 2004. I was extremely close with him and this news brought my world crashing down around me. I remember that night, knowing I wouldn’t be able to sleep I was out in my court talking to my students and like a number of nights some of those students were my 813 boys. They told me they were sorry and that they were there if I needed help. It is something they probably wouldn’t remember, but I do.

It is hard to think that Oct 16th was the hardest day for me 7 years ago and Oct 16th from this year is probably going to be one of the hardest days for people who loved Kale.

My heart goes out to his family and his long time friends. I only knew Kale for one year and I know how sad this news made me, I can only imagine the sadness others must be feeling. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends. I hope that you remember all of the amazing memories that you have of him and that those memories help you through this difficult time.

27 is far too early to lose someone, especially someone with as much promise as Kale.

If you didn’t know Kale, but would like to know a bit more about him read one of the two following articles that I found tonight.

Garner’s smile brightened room

Kale Garner had everything going for him when he died running a half-marathon

Also his Obituary:

Garner, Kale David – Passed away unexpectedly on Sunday October 16, 2011 at the age of 27. Loving son of David and the late Celine Garner (nee Latulippe). Beloved brother of Jill and Jodi Garner. Kale will be remembered for his smile, loving nature and always finding the humour in life. Kale attended Brock University, achieving his BA in Political Science, later completing his education at George Brown College in Financial Planning. He was in the process of becoming a Certified Financial Planner. Kale leaves behind many friends and colleagues from Cardinal Golf Course and most recently Assante Financial Management. As an avid hockey fan, he played for several years as an East Gwillimbury Eagle and later continued playing pick-up games with his friends. Kale’s stories and memories will remain in the hearts of those that loved him as he will be remembered as a great friend, son and brother. Friends may call at the Roadhouse & Rose Funeral Home on Wednesday October 19th from 7-9 p.m. and Thursday October 20th from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Funeral service at the Cedarview Community Church, 1000 Gorham St., Newmarket on Friday October 21st at 11 a.m. followed by cremation. In lieu of flowers donations on his behalf may be made to the Heart & Stroke Foundation.

If you feel moved by anything that I wrote, or those articles please think about donating to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation.

A couple of pictures that I had from when Kale was one of my wabbits:

I want to be a #JLCReviewer on Feb 20th for Simple Plan (and guests)

1st – I apologize for the lack of blogging as of late, the new job has been keeping me slightly busy and my personal blogging has taken a back seat.

2nd – I know that this is a wee bit early, but I am passionate about being the #JLCreviewer for the Simple Plan concert on Feb 20th, so I thought I would start now. Well actually I started with a tweet last week.

2012 marks the 10th anniversary of Simple Plan and I’ve been a fan for all 12 years.

I remember when “I’m Just a Kid” came out. I fell in love with their sound and their lyrics. I am a HUGE fan of Canadian music, so when I find a Canadian band I love, I cling to them. The majority of the concerts that I have been to have had Canadian Acts headlining or, in the case of Simple Plan in the early years, opening.

Simple Plans’ first album “No Pads, No Helmets … Just Balls” live in my my CD player (yes in 2002 we used CD players and discman’s) and was on constant repeat. Simple Plans’ albums for me are albums that I love every track. I of course was a huge fan of the released tracks “I’m Just a Kid”, “Addicted”, “I’d Do Anything” and of course “Perfect”.

In the summer of 2003, less than a year after the JLC opened, the JLC hosted Labatt’s hometown bash. My sister bought me two tickets for my birthday and I went to the concert with my best friend from high school, along with my sister and her now husband who had also got a pair of tickets. Simple Plan was an opening act for this show. They were still fairly new on the scene and a lot of the crowd was at the show to see Nickleback and Korn. I was up singing along to every single song. My sister, through a texting contest, won wrist bands to go into a VIP backstage area. As I was a HUGE fan of all of the acts at the Hometown bash and the tickets were a birthday present, my sister gave me and my best friend the wrist bands to go backstage. While backstage my best friend and I met Pierre and Chuck, who were gracious enough to talk to us, sign my VIP badge and my best friend’s bra. They were the only members of the bands that we were lucky enough to meet back stage and that memory has stuck with me. I still have the VIP badge with their autographs.

At the end of the end of the show, I started a tradition that I tend to follow when I attend a concert. I buy a piece of memorabilia. From this show I bought a Simple Plan Hat (which I may post a picture of in a later blog, or twitter). That night after the concert my best friend and I went out to a bar with my sister and brother-in-law and we wore our Simple Plan hats proudly into Molly Blooms.

In second year university, I was lucky enough to see Simple Plan for a second time. A friend of mine from school had got a group of us tickets for the Kissmas Bash at the HSBC centre in Buffalo. Simple Plan only played a couple of songs, mostly holiday and a couple of hits, but I was a proud Canadian screaming my head off for the somewhat unknown Canadian act in the American Arena. I had many people looking at my oddly for knowing every word and screaming so loudly for an act that they did not really know.

In my third year at Brock, Simple Plan released “Still Not Getting Any” which became my go to album to get me through the hardest year of my life. In third year I was a Don (RA) in residence, but I was going through a difficult time personally. Shortly before I left for school my grandpa was diagnosed with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. I was incredibly close with my Grandpa, he was one of my biggest supporter. While he was a flawed man, he loved me more than almost anyone else. He would do just about anything for me and believe in me no matter what. On Oct 16th, 2004 my Grandpa lost his battle. Losing him broke my heart. My world fractured and it took time for me to put the pieces back together. “Welcome to My Life” the first release from “Still Not Getting Any” became one of my themes for that year. 10 Days after my Grandpa died Simple Plan released “Still Not Getting Any”. Knowing how much I loved Simple Plan, and how hard of a time I was going through, one of my co-workers picked up the latest album for me when they went to the mall the day of its release. I cannot tell you how many time that CD was played from begging to end that year. Anytime I needed a pick me, an energy boost, to not feel like I was alone, that CD got played.

Over the years the Simple Plan albums have not only been in my main music library, but they have had a playlist all to their own. Some days I just need the energy and the message of those songs to make me feel better and inspire me to attack the world head on.

On February 12 of 2008 Simple Plan released their self-titled album and you better believe it was quickly purchased. Another album from Canadian band that I loved, that I could listen to beginning to end on repeat. When I found out that Simple Plan was coming to the JLC in 2009, I immediately bought tickets. I think I may have even done it during class, using WiFi on my laptop, I could be wrong though. In August of 2009, my roommate from Second Year joined me at the concert. It was a phenomenal show, though I have started to feel a bit out-of-place. I have been a Simple Plan fan since 2002, when I was 18. In 2009 at 25, I found myself sitting in a row in front of 2, I would guess, 8 year olds and their mother. JLC staff kept asking me and my friend to sit down, which I can understand, but still it was kind of annoying. Throughout the show we were up, dancing, screaming and singing along (until we were told to sit). We were going through every song taking note of what hadn’t been played yet. So when it came to the ‘end’ of the performance, we knew there had to be more to come because certain key songs had not yet been played.

From this concert I came away with a T-shirt, that has now seen better days, as I wore it for the better part of a year non-stop and a wrist band, which I will more than likely wear to this concert, should I get to attend.

And now in 2011, they have released their latest album “Get Your Heart On!”. Again I have fallen in love with their album, at first I wasn’t entirely sold based off of the singles, but once I had the album downloaded (the second my pre-order was available) I feel in love with the album. Every time there is a new album, I dream of seeing them live. On the drive in to work one day, I heard they were coming to London. I think I may have heard the radio station give away a pair of tickets and I was sad that I was not the lucky recipient. Anyways …

Now it is 2011 and it will be 2012 when they return to the JLC and I would give anything to be there. I started a new job recently and due to how busy I was (and still am) at work, I missed the opening of ticket sales and by the time I remember tickets were on sale the best I could get was Row S 😦 which is disappointing. I haven’t purchased tickets yet, because I keep hoping I will get lucky and find something better than Row S in the first level.

I am a huge fan of Simple Plan, but not just them! I am also a HUGE Marianas Trench fan! How could I not be? I was raised around Barber Shoppers (just wait this will make sense) so I have a healthy appreciation for four-part harmony, how often will you find a pop-rock-punk act that has the ability to pull off impeccable four-part harmony? I think I missed “Shake Tramp” initially but I was brought it by “Say Anything” and “Decided to Break it”. I remember I taped both songs off the radio (I know so old school, I was a dork) and the videos through the VCR. I absolutely LOVED those songs and the sound of Marianas Trench. Josh Ramsay has an incredibly unique voice. They were a little Canadian band, so I was totally on board to support them. I feared though that they hadn’t survived their debut. There was a long hiatus between “Fix Me” (their debut) and “Master Piece Theatre” (Sophomore album), I think it was about four years, but it was well worth the wait. The entirely album is impeccable. This is still an album that I will play from beginning to end on repeat. I absolutely love it.

When Marianas Trench was announced as an act by Western Fair in 2010, I purchased tickets. Again, I felt slightly out-of-place at 26 surrounded by a bunch of teenagers, but I did not care. I was a fan in my early 20s when they started out and while I may be the elderly end of their fan base now, I’m still ok with it. I sang along to every song, yelled, screamed and fantasized about Mike Ayley, who was smokin’ hot that night (Ok yes, dorky Canadian Celebrity Crush, but hey he’s close to my age, so it is all good).

It was an amazing show! It tried to rain, but it gave up, it was crowded at times and people were a bit pushy, but hearing them perform live was unbelievable. That album was so intricate I was curious how they would pull it off in a live show and they did. It was amazing. They exemplify why I love Canadian music. American acts tend to have the money to manipulate their sound. American acts can be talentless schmucks, but Canadian acts, if they want to succeed and have a shot at an international career, they have to have the supreme talent like the guys of Marianas Trench do. Even my Dad can appreciate these guys. Punk-Pop-Rock might not be his thing, but he appreciates the four-part harmony these four guys can pull off impressively well.

At this end of this concert, I waited in a long crowded line, in front of the Western Fair  ‘sales shack’ (this is something that desperately needs to be improved) and bought a t-shirt (it is in pretty good condition, because well, it is fairly low-cut when I put it on, so not good to wear out in public).

I believe the opening act of this show may have been These Kids Wear Crowns, who are also opening the Simple Plan show, so I’ve seen and know fairly well 3 out of four of the acts performing and I will learn about All Time Low before the show comes.

I have been following two out of four of these acts since their debut. Their music has and continues to play prominently in my playlists.

I would be ecstatic to be a #JLCreviewer for this concert. I think I would make a strong reviewer because I have seen these guys perform before and in the case of Simple Plan I have seen them at various points across their 10 year career and can speak to the evolution of their music and identity.

I will continue to write about this concert and promote my name as a candidate to be a #JLCreviewer for this show because it means a lot to me. Hopefully some of you who know me and know how much I play this music will support my quest to be a reviewer!

Thanks for reading!