Archive for February 3rd, 2009


Book Review: Roots

February 3, 2009

I have mixed emotions about Alex Haley’s Roots. It was a pivotal book for me, the first adult novel I read. And I related to its story in a lot of ways. My later disappointment was crushing, but I’ve bounced back a bit.

As a kid, I was very aware of my African heritage, but out of touch with that side of my family. The closest I ever got to experiencing modern African-American life was probably Diff’rent Strokes and Good Times, which tells you something about my worldview.

Roots changed all that. And it continues to affect me. I read it every couple of years, and I always find something new, some interesting corner of history to explore further.

My podcast review is here, at Simply Syndicated’s Books You Should Read.

I’d like to hear your thoughts on Roots and my take on it.


Music Review: Buddy Holly

February 3, 2009

Today, on the 50th anniversary of the Day the Music Died, I’ve been listening to a lot of Buddy Holly.

Buddy Holly changed the world of music in a huge way, but it’s something that tends to be forgotten in the wake of his tragic death.

His career was surprisingly short; Charles Hardin Holley of Lubbock, Texas, recorded a handful of hits over an 18-month period before he died in the plane crash that also killed Richie Valens and the Big Bopper. (His last name was misspelled on his first contract, so he kept it, along with his childhood nickname). He and his band, the Crickets, cracked the racial divide in an unusual way; rather than making black-oriented music for white audiences (The Elvis concept), the Crickets played Harlem’s Apollo Theatre and won over that audience with their music.

But crossing the colour barrier wasn’t Holly’s biggest impact on popular music. He did something else, something new and, at the time, unheard of: he wrote and sang his own songs. The Crickets bypassed the hit-writing factories that were the established system at the time, and rocketed up the charts with songs Holly wrote and pushed on label executives. So songs like That’ll Be The Day, Peggy Sue, Every Day and Rave On went to listeners the way their writer intended.

Holly paved the way for the singer-songwriters of the 1960s and established a model of modern music that’s prevalent to this day. And, 50 years later, we’re still snapping our fingers to his perfect, perfect music.


Podcamp Toronto

February 3, 2009

I’m heading down the 401 later this month to attend Podcamp Toronto. This will be my first industry event since I inadvertantly became a professional full-time blogger and podcaster, so I’m looking forward to it.

I guess it was meant to be. Consider the facts:

  • It’s taking place Feb. 21 and 22, the one weekend this month that my kids will not be with me.
  • It’s taking place 90 minutes down the road.
  • It’s free.

So, basically, I was destined to attend. And I’m looking forward to it. I like the idea of mingling and mixing with fellow netheads, making new contacts and learning new tricks of the trade.

I’ll let you all know how it goes when I get back.