Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Sigma Derby: The Beloved Mechanical Horse-Race Game That’s Running Out Of Time

2013 Sigma Derby Tournament

One of Sarah’s favourite things in not only Las Vegas, but perhaps the whole world, is a busted old mechanical horse racing gambling game called Sigma Derby.

Unfortunately, over the years these games have slowly broken down and disappeared until the point where there’s only one known working one left situated at The D Las Vegas casino.

Sarah wrote about the game and the culture that’s developed around it in a piece for Atlas Obscura.

To read it go here.

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Filed under Culture, Shameless Promotion, Travel

The Official 2014 Risky Fuel Holiday Gift Guide

The 2014 Risky Fuel gift guide

The 2014 Risky Fuel gift guide

Something changed deep inside of me when Blake Lively launched her lifestyle brand, Preserve, this past summer.

Instead of ignoring – or, perhaps, idly mocking – the whole experiment as I’d done with Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP and other out of touch brands run by hopelessly beautiful and privileged blonde stars, I became oddly jealous. It wasn’t fair that Blake Lively, star of Gossip Girl and the Traveling Pants movies, could have a lifestyle brand when I, writer of some articles that some people maybe read sometimes, did not.

Since then, I’ve occasionally threatened to turn Risky Fuel into a lifestyle blog, telling Aaron that I was going to start rhapsodically writing about the importance of owning Rod Stewart hot pants and Cancer Bats t-shirts with the sleeves cut off (and the brilliance of wearing both items at once).

With the holiday gift guide season upon us, and with Aaron arguably already dipping Team Risky Fuel’s toe into the lifestyle blogging world with a post about furniture, now seems as good a time as any to do this.

Here is Risky Fuel’s first (maybe) annual Gift Guide, full of stuff that you should buy for your loved ones/me.

For Stinky People (And People Who Like To Engage In Activities That Cause Stink)

Apera Duffel Pack


Apera duffel bag

I discovered Apera Bags at the Las Vegas Rock n Roll Marathon’s expo this year and was immediately impressed with the amount of thought and detail that had gone into the design and construction of their various gym bags. Each one is outfitted with a logically-placed series of compartments that will allow you to actually find your shit when you’re looking for it, and contains a number of ventilated areas and wipeable surfaces that will keep your shit from smelling like it’s been languishing in the festering hell hole that is your average gym bag. As someone who’s spent a fair amount of time working in fitness and training in martial arts, I can assure you that anyone who tries to make fitness accessories smell less is doing the lord’s work.

Las Vegas Rock n Roll Half Marathon Entrance Fee

No, really! This is fun. I swear.

No, really! This is fun. I swear.

If a loved one expresses some interest in this race and/or a trip to Las Vegas, paying for their entrance fee is a great way to say “I love you and I would love for you to experience all of the magic of standing in the middle of a totally shut off Las Vegas Blvd, watching Doors tribute acts, and getting free chocolate milk… and running 13.1 miles.”

Or maybe it’s the best way for your subconscious to say “I enjoy your company and want to guilt you into coming with me even though you’re ambivalent at best about this running thing.”

Either way, I did this for my dear friend Rachel last year and I’m sure she’ll forgive me eventually.

The Entire Knixwear Line



Knixwear is a Canadian female-run company that actually bothers to think about things like periods, crotch sweat, and wonky pelvic floors and makes comfortable, attractive underwear that addresses these issues. Their athletic line, which is moisture-wicking, anti-odor, absorbent, and leak resistant, is particularly brilliant. As a former Spinning instructor who has heard (and experienced) a number of athletic undergarment-related horror stories, I cannot overestimate the importance of these things.

All of the Things From The Perth Soap Co.

Perth Soap Company

Perth Soap Company

I was predisposed to liking The Perth Soap Co. because it’s manufactured in a plant in Perth, Ontario that’s been making soap for over a hundred years and, as someone who comes from a post-industrial wasteland of a hometown, I loved the idea of a plant of any kind adapting to the times and continuing to thrive in a changing marketplace. Then I was given a couple of “Cleansing Bars,” in the parlance of Perth, to sample and I turned into a full-blown fanatic. The bars smell wonderful. They make my whole bathroom smell wonderful after I’ve used one. And they make me stink less. This is quite an accomplishment.

At $10 a pop, the bars aren’t cheap, but they’re fairly large (170g) and, in my personal experience, last forever. As far as I can tell, the cost per wash isn’t significantly higher than what you’d pay for an OK-smelling glycerin soap. And a Perth bar, particularly a Moroccan Spice one, will de-stinkify you for so much longer.

For Jewelry Fans Whose Interest In Tiffany’s Does Not Extend Beyond Truman Capote Novellas

Toronto Custom Order Bracelet

Toronto bracelet

Toronto bracelet

 Aaron gave me one of L.A. Jones’s whimsical Toronto-themed charm bracelets for Christmas two years ago and it’s easily one of the best gifts I’ve ever received. You can customize your bracelet from a selection of Toronto-centric beads that include the CBC, Sam The Record Man, Maple Leafs, Blue Jays, Eaton’s, The Bay, Porter, and more. My piece has Fran’s and Mars Diner beads next to each other, because those two institutions are at least 78 per cent of what I love about the city.

Missy Industry Einstein Necklace


Einstein necklace

Montreal’s Missy Industry has been making gothic and industrial influenced jewelry since 2003 and it’s all uniformly brilliant, from the Snake Bite ring to the Spine earrings to the Serpent necklace. My personal favourite, as a giant nerd who once boasted the nomme de guerre Sarah Bellum, though, is the Einstein, a handmade sterling silver brain on an 18-inch chain. Rachel gave this to me for Christmas last year and it’s easily earned more compliments than any other thing I’ve ever worn.

I, of course, reciprocated by making her run 13.1 miles. Which is probably further proof that I’m the type of person who should have a brain necklace as opposed to, say, a heart one.

Winky Slap Band Watches

UnknownWinky Slap Band watches

Winky Slap Band watches

Las Vegas casinos are designed to rob you of your senses and rational thought and do dumb things that you’ll probably regret later. I came out of my gambling experience on my last Vegas trip with a fairly intact bank roll, but I do have one regret: I was so sleep deprived by the time I made it to the Winky store at downtown’s Container Park that I could not put the following thought together: “I need a new watch. I really like this stuff. It’s aesthetically pleasing and functional. The slap band watch strap appeals to my ’90s nostalgia without being a garish and uninspired recreation of the old trend. Winky seems like a lovely human. I should buy a watch.” So I walked out of the store without a watch, ate a bunch of $3 meatballs at Pizza Rock and bought multiple pairs of Las Vegas-themed leggings. I don’t regret the meatballs or leggings, but I do wish that I’d added a watch to my bounty that day. There’s even a digital version, which is great for those of us who can’t read an analog clock to save their lives.

Luckily, shipping to Canada is only $7.95, so I can rectify this mistake long before I return to Vegas for the 2015 half marathon. Which Rachel won’t be running.

A Dimitri Gagnon Morris Commission

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 7.45.23 PM

My friend and occasional MMA t-shirt art expert won’t be officially kicking off his jewelry line until 2015, but you can contact him to commission one of his stunning designs in the mean time.

For People Who Like Good Art, Activism, And Being On The Right Side of History

Seal Cuffs

Tagaq approved seal cuffs

Tagaq approved seal cuffs

If you want to look as cool as the Polaris Music Prize-winning throat singer and dream interview subject Tanya Tagaq, well… you can’t. No one’s as cool as Tanya Tagaq. But you can be as cool as any non-Tagaq person can be in a pair of seal fur cuffs just like the ones she wore during her mesmerizing performance at the Polaris Music Prize Gala. As Exclaim pointed out in their gift guide, you can buy the cuffs, made by Cheryl Fennell, in grey, black, cranberry, or arctic blue at SnowFly.

If you know anyone who still doesn’t have her epic Animism album, you should definitely give them a copy of that as well.

A Tribe Called Red Nation II Nation Hoodie

A Tribe Called Red hoodie

A Tribe Called Red hoodie

There are few things that the Risky Fuel household love more than the music of A Tribe Called Red and hoodies (or at least few things I love more – Aaron once tried to impose a hoodie moratorium on the household and I will never let him forget it). Here you can mix these two brilliant things in one perfect made-in-Mexico and printed-in-Canada hoodie.

I suggest accessorizing with a copy of Nation II Nation and a Caucasians t-shirt, as seen on DJ NDN.

Rhymes For Young Ghouls Poster

Rhymes For Young Ghouls

Rhymes For Young Ghouls

Jeff Barnaby’s debut feature length film Rhymes For Young Ghouls was one of the best offerings at TIFF in 2013 and is one of the most exciting and important films that Canada has ever produced. Aaron and I are both a little obsessed with it. This beautiful poster is worthy of film it promotes, and would make a great film for anyone with any taste.

Handmade Louis Riel Cowichan Sweater

Louis Riel sweater

Louis Riel sweater

The various “Keep It Riel” t-shirts and whatnots that I’ve seen floating around the internet and various independent stores in Toronto are cute, but if you really want to sartorially celebrate Métis pride, you’ve got to go with this incredible handmade sweater by Laura Kapp.

For Metalheads

Screaming For Vengeance Leggings

Screaming For Vengeance leggings

Screaming For Vengeance leggings

Looking at handmade metal-themed products on Etsy is one of my most beloved methods of procrastination, and Hell Couture consistently impresses me/sings a siren song to my wallet their mix of metal leggings and repurposed t-shirts. I believe that this pair would look particularly good upon my person.

DIO > OZZY Letterpress Print

Dio forever

Dio forever

And this is the second greatest metal related thing that I’ve ever seen on Etsy. If you know someone who doesn’t want this beautifully designed heap of indisputable truth on their wall, you should probably stop talking to them. If you know someone who doesn’t agree, you should burn them as the heretics they are.

Screaming For Vengeance Tapestry Blanket

Screaming For Vengeance blanket

Screaming For Vengeance blanket

Up until I visited Judas Priest’s North American online store a couple of months ago, it had never occurred to me that one of the greatest metal bands of all time would produce any linen-related merchandise whatsoever. But now that I’ve sent this beautifully woven throw, I realize that I’ve never wanted anything more in life. I imagine that other Priest obsessives will feel the same.

Metalhead DVD



Metalhead was another TIFF 2013 highlight for me. The Icelandic film about a young woman who turns to metal for solace after the brutal death of her brother is remarkable because it manages to understand both heavy metal culture and the workings of the human mind and heart with perfect clarity and enthusiasm. The film’s director and producer are currently raising funds for the film’s DVD and BluRay release. For a pledge of €20 (currently about $29 Canadian), you can get yourself a DVD copy of this brilliant movie. For €75 ($107), you can also get a poster and a personalized message from the director, Ragnar Bragason, and the lead actress, Thora Bjorg Helga. I had the pleasure of interviewing both of them at TIFF, and I can guarantee a message from the pair is worth at least twice that much.


Filed under Art, Culture, Films

What Happens When You Take A Boxing Lesson During A Vegas Blowout

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

If you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to take a boxing lesson in the middle of a Las Vegas blowout, wonder no more.

That’s because Sarah (unwisely?) decided to do just that during a recent vacation in sin city.

To find out how it went head over to Fightland by going here.


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Filed under Jock Stuff, Shameless Promotion, Travel

Delta Let Someone Steal My Luggage And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines

Just over a week ago, someone waltzed into the baggage claim area of McCarran International Airport, yanked my suitcase from the carousel and disappeared into the night with my well-cultivated collection of dresses, cardigans, Judas Priest merchandise, and size four shoes.

Because I lack vision, I thought that this was a bad thing.

The staff at Delta Airlines, with their tough love approach to customer service, were more than willing to help me see the error of my ways. While other airlines might mollycoddle customers with profuse – and maybe even genuine – apologies for permanently losing an entire suitcase full of their worldly possessions and cash vouchers to cover any undue expenses, Delta prefers to address the very heart of the issue and offer you Important Life Lessons about materialism and the impermanence of life.

“It happens,” the woman behind the counter callously told me when I asked her if it was really possible that someone had stolen my baggage right off the carousel. And then she handed me The Bag.

At the time, I thought that the woman at the counter was being disinterested and rude because she was unprofessional. Now that I have come to understand the true power and potential of The Bag, I realize that she was probably just unable to contain her violent jealousy. And I forgive her.

The Bag is many things, you see.


It is, to the naked eye, just an unassuming vinyl bag packed with basic amenities like a travel-sized antiperspirant, two whole cotton balls, a t-shirt, a toothbrush, and the world’s tiniest tube of toothpaste. But it’s also so much more. It is a lesson in resilience, and proof that you don’t need a whole suitcase full of ostentatious consumer goods and grown-up sized products from apothecaries to enjoy a week-long vacation or look like a decently groomed human being. It is an inspiring exercise in creativity, forcing you to Think Outside Of The Box in regards to your styling choices. Most importantly, though, it is the vessel through which I was exposed to The T-Shirt.

The T-Shirt, you see, is the most important fashion tool of all time. Whether you’re clubbing at Lavo, attending a fancy dinner at one of Vegas’s many fine dining establishments, or lounging poolside at the Wynn, it is the perfect choice. It is, in fact, the only piece of clothing that you will ever need.

Here are just a few of the looks I rocked in Las Vegas once Delta and some random ne’er-do-well freed me from the chains of my material goods.

(Apologies for my face in most of these shots. Having your luggage stolen tends to mess with your sleeping habits and it’s impossible to cover up the subsequent puffiness and mess when your makeup was in said luggage.)

The Basics

The T-Shirt can, of course, be worn as a basic, every day t-shirt.

I am tired and weary because I have not yet discovered the extent of The T-Shirt's magic.

I am tired and weary because I have not yet discovered the extent of The T-Shirt’s magic.

You can also dress it up with one of your miniature amenities. I was partial to the toothbrush.

The toothbrush alone was probably worth a good fifteen cents. Score!

The toothbrush alone was probably worth a good fifteen cents. Score!

The Basic Variations

The easiest way to sex up The T-Shirt is to let its enormous, gaping neck drift to one side and show a little clavicle. It’s Flashdance with a sleek, post-millennial twist!

What a feeling, indeed.

What a feeling, indeed.

Once you’re comfortable with that first step into the brave new world of T-Shirt fashion, you can experiment with the sleeves. Try rolling them up for a fun and flirty look!

This one's great for showing off your "I'm drowning my baggage sorrows in unlimited white whine sangria at brunch" bloat.

This one’s great for showing off your “I’m drowning my baggage sorrows in unlimited white whine sangria at brunch” bloat.

Formal Wear

 Want something a little more fancy? Whip off your pants, slap on a belt and you’ve got yourself a pretty party dress!
You can class this up even more with a pair of Walgreen's kids socks.

You can class this up even more with a pair of Walgreen’s kids socks.

Or you can slide both of your arms through the gigantic neck (this won’t even stretch it!) and tie the sleeves behind you. Suddenly, you have an adorable strapless number on your hands!

My photographer/mom made me put my pants back on after that last shot.

My photographer/mom made me put my pants back on after that last shot.

Find the sleeve bow too cutesy for your tastes? Untie it and slip the sleeves inside out for the super popular formal dress with pockets look!

Just don't put anything in them, or you'll lose your pocket contents like they're baggage on a Delta carousel!

Just don’t put anything in them, or you’ll lose your pocket contents like they’re baggage on a Delta carousel!

Or, if you prefer the whole asymmetrical thing, you can mix and match. This was a personal favourite of mine.

From the front.

From the front.

Hot pocket action.

Hot pocket action.

Retro Chic

Think you need pricey plaid or a Hypercolor shirt to be a part of the hot new ’90s revival that’s sweeping the fashion world? Think again.

Grab one end of The T-Shirt’s undulating folds and tie it to one side for a classic pre-millennial vibe.

Doesn't it make you want to throw on Dance Mix '92 and do The Running Man?

Doesn’t it make you want to throw on Dance Mix ’92 and do The Running Man?

Or you can grab the bottom edge, thread it through the neck and pull for a more obscure blast from the past. I call this one The Sophie B Hawkins, because it reminds me of that summer I spent listening to “Damn, I Wish I Was Your Lover,” watching 90210, and ruining the collar of my precious Vuarnet shirt trying to perfect the style.

"Damn, I Wish Delta Was My Airline (So That They Would Lose My Luggage And Give Me A T-Shirt, Too"

“Damn, I Wish Delta Was My Airline (So That They Would Lose My Luggage And Give Me A T-Shirt, Too”


 The T-Shirt can also be used to dress up any clothing that didn’t get stolen because you were wearing it on the plane.

Now, I didn’t actually use the Wynn’s famous golf course while I was staying there but, if I had, I would have been prepared with this playful take on the old sweater-around-the-neck standard.

"The Country Club"

“The Country Club”

As I’m a little younger and more free-spirited than the usual golf crowd, I preferred this variation. Pull both sleeves and the neck over your head for a stable and stylish cape!

I'll just let this one speak for itself.

I’ll just let this one speak for itself.

Or scoot the whole concoction around to the front for one of those stupid t-shirt scarves that the hipster kids love so much these days!

Well, they can't all be gems.

Well, they can’t all be gems.

You can also roll The T-Shirt and fashion it into an angelic headband.

Isn't this darling?

Isn’t this darling?

Or squish it into a random mess and do whatever it is I’ve got going on here.

I think I've got one of the sleeves wrapped around my head here. I really can't explain or justify the rest.

I think I’ve got one of the sleeves wrapped around my head here. I really can’t explain or justify the rest.

While The T-Shirt is the ultimate fashion tool, you shouldn’t stop that from expanding your vision to other parts of The Bag. Or even The Bag itself. Here, I’ve fashioned The Bag into a delightful pillbox hat for a classic flight attendant homage.

As a tribute to the Delta staff, I've wearing my best "I really don't care about your stolen luggage" expression.

As a tribute to the Delta staff, I’ve wearing my best “I really don’t care about your stolen luggage” expression.



If you were silly and frivolous enough to pack a bathing suit in your carry on, or to buy one for $15 at the nearby outlet mall, The T-Shirt also makes an excellent coverup.

Many of the dress options translate very well here. I turned The T-Shirt inside out for a slightly avant-garde touch.

If I wear a bikini, my photographer/mother no longer cares if I have pants, apparently.

If I wear a bikini, my photographer/mother no longer cares if I have pants, apparently.

You can tie one side up into various positions for a crazy touch!

Here's whatever the hell this is.

Here’s whatever the hell this is.

And then there's this. They looked different and awesome in the bathroom mirror! I swear!

And then there’s this. They looked different and awesome in the bathroom mirror! I swear!

Or you can pull the whole thing down around your waist and make yourself a skirt.

It didn't look so much like a diaper in person.

It didn’t look so much like a diaper in person.


Did you pack yourself something sexy for your significant other/one night playmate/girl you found on a card some guy in a hoodie gave you on the strip? Don’t despair! The T-Shirt is here to put more spice back into your life than any piece of lace, leather or mesh could ever manage.

Sexiness is mostly mental, anyway. So just put on The T-Shirt in whatever naughty permutation you prefer, hop in a giant bathtub and flash your significant other/one night playmate/girl you found on a card some guy in a hoodie gave you your best come hither look.

Or whatever the hell it is I'm doing here.

Or you can do whatever the hell it is I’m doing here.

The Next Level

 If you’re really, really cool and boundary-pushing, this is the only way to wear The T-Shirt:

Slide one leg into each sleeve, pull the bottom edge around your waist and secure. What do you have?






You, too, can get your very own T-Shirt and embark on this stylish and rewarding journey. All you have to do is pack all of your favourite clothes and accessories into a suitcase and fly somewhere shady. Las Vegas is always a good option, seeing as how it now ranks fifth in TSA firings for theft.

And make sure that you fly Delta, because those other namby pamby airlines might try to cheat you with bogus offerings like money to compensate for your so-called inconvenience.

You’ll have to act fast if you want to stay on the cutting edge of fashion with me, though. On my last day in Vegas, I noticed that my hot new look was already catching on.

T-Shirt Mania is running wild!

T-Shirt Mania is running wild!



Filed under Recollections, Travel

Hard Rockin’ At The Hard Rock In Vegas

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

Awhile back Sarah went on an epic whirlwind trip to Las Vegas, Nevada, investigating the weird afternoon pool party nightclubs and the fancy eatin’ places and such.

She loved it and for weeks was all “Vegas! Vegas! Vegas!” non-stop. This, from a gal who doesn’t gamble.

Anyway, her first profile story for AOL Travel about the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino is now live. The place is exactly what you’d expect a high-gloss rock ‘n’ roll-themed Vegas hotel would be like. To read her review, click here.

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Filed under Culture, Food, Shameless Promotion, The Misadventures Of, Travel