Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Week In Review(s)

It has been an interesting week to say the least. I did two interviews on Friday, one was with Oliver Wakeman, thats Rick Wakeman's son. Rick is, or was. the maestro of the keyboards for the band Yes. I have watching both Rick and Oliver for forever.

I interviewed Rick last year, so it was with great pleasure that I interviewed the next generation of Wakeman musical geniuses. I really like Oliver, he has no pretensions, what you see is what you get.

Somehow I got caught into reviewing an alarm clock. Well it is not your regular deal, this thing does everything but make the coffee, oh and it has the best speaker system I have ever heard. It is outrageously expensive at $350, but it sounds so good you will want one.

I also got a couple of galleys this week. They are hitting the bookstores in September. They are both great books, and they both deserve to be on the NYT best seller list. Actualy I am willing to bet that one of them will make that coveted slot. Homeland Insecurity is the most damning work I have ever read about the US government. Author Terry Turchie takes no prisoners, from Nixon to the Bush administration, they all get a good beating.

I really have not read enough of the other galley to make any judgments. But it certainly looks like a great read.

There were two or three other books that passed over my eyes. Two were great, one was not quite up to par. First time authors come in all shapes and forms. Some though skip the vital step of having an editor carve and hack. Now I am the first to admit that I hate my stuff being dissected by anyone. But the past two years of being a reviewer have changed my mind.

Without a good editor, you are screwed.

Have a great day!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Adventures In The Asanine

One of the huge mistakes we have made in 'moving forward' is the almost inevitable consequence of 'moving backward'.

Jan and I had been discussing opening a joint savings account with the assholes that I bank with. Oh, and I'll name them CIBC. Anyway, I went to their website, and it was pretty easy opening an account, just for grins I even put some money in it. I opened the account at the same branch that I have been banking with for 6 years.

My next plan was to add Jan to the account. The bank beat me to the punchline. A couple of days after opening it, they called me. Not to thank me for opening the account, but telling me I had to get to the branch PDQ to sign a signature card. Huh? I already have an account, they already have a damn signature card.

The (not from around here) guy on the other end of the line was relieved when I explained that I was planning on visiting the branch the following day, and that I wanted to add my wife to the account. "what do we need?" I asked, "She needs two pieces of ID and it will be no problem".

So, we enter the bank at 10am, right on time, Mr. Not-From-Around-Here invites us to sit down.

Out of left field he askes me for two pieces of ID. Well this is my damn account, I opened it, and I had already spoken to Osama Bin Teller on the phone. I hand him two pieces of ID plus my bank card, and cannot resist a minor dig about how much easier banking is now the internet is here.

'None of that tedious dealing with people', the humor missed Osama Bin Teller by several hundred miles.

"So you want to open an account" he asks, "no, I already have, all I want to do is add my wife to it".

It went downhill from that point. Osama Bin Teller could not grasp the idea that when Jan was born her name was Jan x, and that is the name on her birth certificate (one of the pieces of ID that Osama had told me was OK to use). Next Jan became Jan Y, she got married, and then divorced, her current passport is in the name of Jan Y (Oh, Osama told me passports were OK).
Then Jan and I got married, so now she is Jan Z.

I had smelled a rat early on so I told Jan to bring out marriage certificate as well. We have the original, but we also have a copy, so I told her to just bring the copy.

Yes, you guessed it, Osama and his boss (some other banking terrorist) refused to put Jan on the account. Needless to say I gave Osama Bin Teller a good earful, but I suspect he didn't understand it all because English was obviously not his primary language.

The way I look at it is, if I want to give someone the run of my house, I go to the local Wally World and get a key cut, and I give them the key. It is that simple.

Banks though are a whole different universe. It's OK though, I have a plan 'B', I am going to open an account with a different bank, and CIBC can weep. I'll take my $5 and put it somewhere where they like me.

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Week In Review(s)

Well it has been a pretty interesting week. Lots of strange things happened. Maybe the strangest thing was the arrival of the Sonoro Cubo. What is it? I hear you ask. Well believe it or not I was asked to review an alarm clock radio. But it's not your regular WalMart $20 deal. This is a designer deal out of Germany that is being sold exclusively through Saks 5th Avenue at the low low price of $350!

I haven't written the review yet, but this is a pretty awesome object d'art. It not only is a Clock Radio but also a CD player, or you can dock other devices to it. The quality of the audio is amazing. It is reminiscent of the Bose Wave Radio. In fact right now I am using it as my primary speaker system, it is way better than the speakers I was using!

Everyone should have one of these!

In the book world it was a slow week, I actually ran out of books! This is something that happens about once a year. But I did get to read James Heaphey's new book. Jim is a great guy, and a superb storyteller. This book How To Survive In An Organization is a business book, not a genre I usually dabble in. But Jim puts his own unique spin on it. I can honestly say that I enjoyed reading it.

My vacation from books ended yesterday with the arrival of four of them in the mail. I also have two galleys heading my way. These books are slated for a fall release, and I am really looking forward to getting a sneak peek. I can not tell you anything about them, I am sworn to secrecy. But one of them is almost certainly bound for the best seller list. Oh the joys of having friends in the publishing world!

The music world was a blur this week. But what was notable was a new DVD by Rick Wakeman. I am a big fan of Rick's, Grumpy Old Picture Show is essentially a one man gig, but very cleverly done. I also got an early look at his son Oliver's new DVD which is being released in July. Oliver is following in his fathers footsteps, prog rock! I hope to be interviewing Oliver next week.

I am so far behind with music reviews that I have enlisted Jans help. She has done a stellar job. But she doesn't have the staying power of a seasoned pro hahahaha As you can see with this story.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Life In The Trenches

It has been hell on Earth at the Barrett ranch for the past couple of weeks.

One of the problems with being a reviewer is having to deal with the Canadian version of Homeland Security, and even worse the damn idiots that run the customs and excise department. Here is the deal, I am asked if I would do a review of an alarm clock radio. It sounded good to me, plus my lovely wife Jan has trashed the existing one. Of course there was a hitch, it isn't your regular $20 Wal Mart one, it is a $350 designer one from Germany. The bozos that supposedly are protecting our borders (tho I can not for the life of me figure out from who) decided that they needed to tax me. So if I want this 'free' clock radio I have to pay them $90!

Needless to say, no one is happy. I was so pissed off about it, I just ignored it. The latest development is that the PR company is picking up the tab and I should see it Monday.

The other classic screw up that occurred was a TV preview. TV is pretty easy, you get a DVD and you post the review two days before it airs. It could not be easier. OK here is the deal, I get a preview DVD from HBO, and I am absolutely convinced that it airs on June/2, so I bust my butt to get the review running. HBO tells me "wow that was quick". It was days later that I discover the show didn't air till June/9. Oh well, thats life in the trenches.

The other low spot of the week involves an interview with a leading Cancer researcher. I asked the simple question "Can you tell us a little about yourself (short bio)', his response was to send me a 35 page CV! (CV is resume for the ludites that might be reading this) About the only piece of information that is not in this guys CV is the name of his pet Goldfish.

I was supposed to be quoted on the back of a book. You know the deal, a one liner, almost every book has them. I got the book, and I am not mentioned! I was pissed. But I have the last laugh. The type setters have screwed up, and the book has to be reprinted.

There were some good bits to the week, but I am too lazy to write about them.

Oh, well except that Jan and I met 5 years ago. Happy anniversary honey.