Podcasting, For the Love of Nerdiness

Do you enjoy podcasts? It’s interesting to see how podcasts are becoming a mainstream phenomenon. I’ve been listening to podcasts for years and years, long before more people knew what they were. And I have always felt like a giant nerd when I mention it. Increasingly, it’s become a main source of news and entertainment for me. I’m sure I consume more audio podcasts in a week than I do TV or movies. I definitely hold to the nerdy tradition of podcasts that started around enthusiast and fanboy communities, for me in the tech news space. Over time I’ve added a healthy dose of CBC, NPR and other public radio podcasts to my repertoire. I listen to a pretty eclectic list of podcasts.

One of the things I really love about podcasts, and again it’s pretty nerdy, is how they retain some of the great hope of openness that we all thought the internet would represent. Slowly but surely the internet has become a marketing mechanism, increasingly controlled by big corporations selling us stuff we don’t need. I’m sure you have heard all the arguments about tracking and privacy. No need to reopen those discussions.If you haven’t let me know and I can get you some information! But podcasts are one of the few remaining sources of accessible, open media left on the web.

No one has succeeded yet in creating a proprietary format that would allow for the kind of tracking web advertisers now have at their disposal. There is no YouTube of podcasts. Podcasts are served by the people who make them, so they have complete control over that distribution. iTunes is just a directory. When you use it to subscribe to a new podcast, Apple is only these as a handshake to the files on the podcasters servers.

As a result, you can find a super specific podcast talking about pretty much any hyper focused community you happen to enjoy. Or you can get big, well produced podcasts like those the CBC and NPR make, think Serial, arguably the podcast that forced this medium into the spotlight. I love that and I don’t want to lose that.

As podcasting becomes more mainstream that openness of content is threatened by large media, marketing and advertising companies, that want a piece of the pie. They screwed up much of the web, and they will screw up podcasts if they get their paws into the medium.

So if you love podcasts as much as I do, please support the people who make them. Some of them have memberships, some of them sell merchandise, some even have apps where for a small fee will give you access to hundreds of hours of back catalogues. To keep things viable as they are, we need to vote with our dollars and support a system that keeps the cost of entry low, to allow the medium to remain open and inclusive.
Here are some of my favourite podcasts, with links to recent episodes. This is a heatlhy mix of things I listen to! Please comment with yours! Hopefully we can help find some new gems!

 

CBC - Someone Knows Something

CBC - Under The Influence

WTF with Marc Maron

Canadaland

Song Exploder

99% Invisible

Here’s the Thing with Alec Baldwin

Reply All

Scriptnotes

Accidental Tech Podcast

Ctrl-Walt-Delete

Suprisingly Awesome

This American Life

NPR Tiny Desk Concerts

Tomorrow With Joshua Topolsky

Child Anxiety

I don’t believe our child was over-scheduled or over-achieving per se but I would say the past time that we initially chose for her grew to be more than what she wanted. My daughter is 9 years old and loves dance. She is an only child so we chose dance as a social outlet for her outside of school. It turned out she was pretty good. She joined a competitive team at a really amazing school but unbeknownst to us dance was causing more harm than good for our little one.

It didn’t happen right away. As a proud Dad I can say she was killing it on the dance floor. She had a certain something, a spark that just burned brightly on stage. She was always excited to get to dance, which was a few times a week, and to compete. She loved the school and we loved the school. We had the best instructors and the best group of parents anyone can ask for.

Then slowly we started to see a change in our little one. She was becoming more introverted than usual, emotional and even sad and quiet when we were bringing her to the one place she loved the most, dance. We would talk her through it thinking it was just a phase. A certain something in the air perhaps that in time would pass because it’s dance! It’s the one thing she loves the most. It didn’t pass, in fact it got worse. Plenty worse. She would constantly tell us that dance wasn’t causing the problem. “I don’t know what’s wrong” was her constant reply when her anxiety would flare up. She started to have extreme anxiety attacks. They wouldn’t happen every time we were heading to dance but every other time which made us think that perhaps this growing issue isn’t dance specific. Then she started having anxiety attacks over spending the night with grandparents which never used to happen. So many trivial daily things were becoming a chore for her.

We made it through her last year of dance and thought that maybe a good summer vacation out of school and dance would be the perfect remedy for her. Some well deserved chill time with plenty of fun activities on the books. It helped only slightly. My wife and I found ourselves having to talk our child through so many aspects of a day. We were worried and concerned but with her having anxiety about so many varied things we started to believe that dance was not the problem. For this we were happy because we know how much she truly loves it. So we worked as hard as we could to pinpoint the problem.

When July came around Charlie came to us and said the words we thought we would never hear “I don’t want to dance this year.” We were shocked. We asked her why and she said she just wasn’t interested. We took what she had to say in stride. We didn’t want to make any knee jerk reactions because she worked really hard to get where she was in dance. We just told her that we would think about it some more over the summer and she was fine with that. We were afraid that she would decide to move on from dance and regret it a month into the season. So the topic came up at varying points throughout the summer and Charlie was still adamant that she was done with dance, but at the same time she would dance around the house, outside etc. It was all very confusing for us as parents and we were sure it was going to be a mistake.

Finally, one day Charlie made a really good argument about putting dance aside. Her pitch; “I want to be a regular kid and do regular kids stuff at night and on weekends”. At this point we decided to listen to her. We put dance aside for the year. We gave the news to our family, the other dance parents and the school and everyone was shocked. We all were but we had to listen to our child.

The result? The anxiety didn’t go away over night but our child has slowly turned into the girl she once was. She talks to people without prodding. She doesn’t hide in our legs in crowds. She enjoys sleep overs and we no longer have to talk her through her day. The only thing that changed in the scenario was that competitive dance was no longer part of her life. Does she regret leaving? Not at all and we still ask her from time to time. Leaving that environment, for whatever reason, was the best thing ever for our child.

And this isn’t a slight against competitive dance because it is an amazing outlet and an amazing discipline, on so many levels for so many kids. This blog is more of a warning to all parents out there who are currently dealing with children whose demeanour has changed dramatically. The problem may not always be something bad that’s happening to them at school or in their dreams or their mind. Sometimes the problem lies in the very thing they love and they don’t even know it. It’s hard to take on so many levels but it’s the truth. We lived it. Analyze everything and seek help for them if you need to. Charlie didn’t even know that dance was causing a problem. It turned out that the very thing she loved was making every day of her life difficult.

 

Project Impact Results

We just wanted to take a quick minute to congratulate all the successful applicants to this year's Project Impact initiative!

You may remember us talking about this a couple of weeks back, but we were honoured to take part in this year's initiative and donated some of our time and resources to help get the word out for the 2016 edition!  Here are some pics from the Celebration Launch Event if you're interested.  

Of all the great projects submitted, the final list of projects being supported are:

Sudbury Cycles Kids Bike Exchange

Flour Mill Community Farm Orchard

Laurentian University School of the Environment Living Wall

Chargers Growth and Re-greening Program

Safe Walking Routes for Community Members

Our Children Our Future Gardens-Minnow Lake Place

Junction Creek Butternut Grove

Operation Fruit Snacks

Microhatchery

NORCAT Community Garden Space

Coniston Community Gardens

Young Naturalist Challenge Display for the Lake Laurentian Conservation Area

We can't wait to see the results of these projects later on this summer!  This is such a great community initiative and we hope it continues on in the years to come!  If this keeps up, Sudbury will be positively bursting with community gardens!  Not to mention the heaps of other great initiatives underway now.

For more information on each of these projects and to maybe offer your help check out the Project Impact website.  I'm sure some of these groups would love the extra hands!

David Ogilvy On Writing

I posted this on our old website years ago. It never gets old and I often revisit this. We're writing a LOT these days, so I thought I'd share this since it's been helping me so much!


ORIGINAL BLOG

I read a LOT of blogs and RSS feeds, and I listen to a LOT of podcasts!  From all of this content I get all kinds of inspiration to share on my personal blog, for business, our future office space, travel, food...the list is endless.  Today I wanted to share two things I saw about writing that I found really intriguing and thought some of you would also find interesting.

On two separate blogs, a few days apart I saw two posts about David Ogilvy and a letter he had written in 1955, a reply to someone who had asked him about writing, and the second was a memo to his staff from 1982.  It’s interesting, not least because Ogilvy is one the original Madison Avenue ad men, responsible for a lot of what we’d consider modern advertising, but because they pretty much espouse the same principals: brevity leads to clarity, edit, edit and then edit some more, and always have another set of eyes read your writing before you officially share it!  That’s not a perfect summary, but it’s what I take away from it.  Perhaps you’ll see something else.

This is cool to me because these have been really important bulwarks in my own writing.  Though I don’t always succeed at brevity everything I write goes through successive edits.

This is super cool to find, especially right now as each of us here at Copperworks is spending an awful lot of time writing.  From proposals to policy, to reports and external communications, it feels like that’s all we’re doing at the moment.  Which is why these two documents are so timely.  I know they’re going to help us, and I hope they will help you too!

I’m attaching both the letter and the memo below as well as the links to the sites where I originally saw these posts.  Enjoy!

Letter Number 1*

April 19, 1955

Dear Mr. Calt:

On March 22nd you wrote to me asking for some notes on my work habits as a copywriter. They are appalling, as you are about to see:

1. I have never written an advertisement in the office. Too many interruptions. I do all my writing at home.

2. I spend a long time studying the precedents. I look at every advertisement which has appeared for competing products during the past 20 years.

3. I am helpless without research material—and the more "motivational" the better.

4. I write out a definition of the problem and a statement of the purpose which I wish the campaign to achieve. Then I go no further until the statement and its principles have been accepted by the client.

5. Before actually writing the copy, I write down every concievable fact and selling idea. Then I get them organized and relate them to research and the copy platform.

6. Then I write the headline. As a matter of fact I try to write 20 alternative headlines for every advertisement. And I never select the final headline without asking the opinion of other people in the agency. In some cases I seek the help of the research department and get them to do a split-run on a battery of headlines.

7. At this point I can no longer postpone the actual copy. So I go home and sit down at my desk. I find myself entirely without ideas. I get bad-tempered. If my wife comes into the room I growl at her. (This has gotten worse since I gave up smoking.)

8. I am terrified of producing a lousy advertisement. This causes me to throw away the first 20 attempts.

9. If all else fails, I drink half a bottle of rum and play a Handel oratorio on the gramophone. This generally produces an uncontrollable gush of copy.

10. The next morning I get up early and edit the gush.

11. Then I take the train to New York and my secretary types a draft. (I cannot type, which is very inconvenient.)

12. I am a lousy copywriter, but I am a good editor. So I go to work editing my own draft. After four or five editings, it looks good enough to show to the client. If the client changes the copy, I get angry—because I took a lot of trouble writing it, and what I wrote I wrote on purpose.

Altogether it is a slow and laborious business. I understand that some copywriters have much greater facility.

Yours sincerely,

D.O.

[via Letters of Note]


The Memo*

The better you write, the higher you go in Ogilvy & Mather. People who think well, write well.

Woolly minded people write woolly memos, woolly letters and woolly speeches.

Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well. Here are 10 hints:

1. Read the Roman-Raphaelson book on writing*. Read it three times.

2. Write the way you talk. Naturally.

3. Use short words, short sentences and short paragraphs.

4. Never use jargon words like reconceptualize, demassification, attitudinally, judgmentally. They are hallmarks of a pretentious ass.

5. Never write more than two pages on any subject.

6. Check your quotations.

7. Never send a letter or a memo on the day you write it. Read it aloud the next morning—and then edit it.

8. If it is something important, get a colleague to improve it.

9. Before you send your letter or your memo, make sure it is crystal clear what you want the recipient to do.

10. If you want ACTION, don't write. Go and tell the guy what you want.

David

[via List of Notes]

*Writing That Works, by Kenneth Roman and Joel Raphaelson

*(Source: The Unpublished David Ogilvy: A Selection of His Writings from the Files of His Partners; Image: David Ogilvy, courtesy of Ads of the World.)

PROJECT IMPACT 2016

 

You might remember us chatting about this a bit last year (maybe because I was one of the lucky project recipients -- ahem, ahem) but this year we've stepped up our game and are helping out a bit more with the planning stages as a way of giving back a bit. 

In case you're not familiar with Project Impact, it's an initiative that puts the emphasis on the community as a whole to pitch ideas to make this city better and then to put their votes behind the projects they support and want to see proceed.  It's truly a representation of what we as citizens think is important and what would help make Sudbury that much more attractive to us all.

Projects are pitched, voted on and then the projects with the most votes are funded and we get to see them come to fruition.  These projects cover everything from shared community gardens, environmental initiatives, wildlife habitat rehab, public murals etc.  Some projects need a few hundred dollars and some only ask for $50 or $75 -- no project is too small!  The emphasis here is what would make the biggest impact for the neighbourhood or community.  Not what costs the most.  

Copperworks is thrilled to be helping out with Project Impact in a more substantial way this year and we really encourage everyone to check out the projects up for funding this year.  You can see the full list of projects here.  

Here's a few of my personal favourite project pitches this year:

  • The Junction Creek Butternut Grove --  we would like to create a Butternut Tree Grove adjacent to Junction Creek in Garson. Our intent is to create a unique arboretum within our neighborhood to be enjoyed by the community and as celebration of our communities concern for the environment and bio-diversity.
  • Operation Fruit Snacks -- We are Fruit for All and we want to turn surplus residential fruit into dried fruit snacks for school breakfast programs. The aim of this pilot project is to produce 1,000 bags of dehydrated rhubarb snacks and/or apple chips, providing local, nutritious snacks to 1,000 school children in Sudbury.
  • Sudbury Cycles Bike Exchange -- We are Sudbury Cycles and we want support for year 5 of our bike exchange where kids can trade in the bike they’ve outgrown for a rehabilitated bike of the right size (or pick up their first bike in exchange for a donation).  We also hope to hold a bike give away for kids in need, as we did last year.
  • Fish Mircohatchery -- We are Algonquin Road Public School and we would like support for our School-Based, Self-Contained, Micro-Hatchery.  The Micro-Hatchery involves students from Kindergarten through to Grade 8 who care for and study Walleye and Brook Trout eggs and fry, which, when grown, stock two local lakes.

Be sure and come out for the big launch event on Saturday March 5th at St.Andrews Place (111 Larch St) from 1pm-3pm and see all the pitches in person, enjoy some refreshments and vote for your favourite projects.  

Small projects -- BIG IMPACTS!

Puppy Sitting and Other Stories

I love dogs. I have a dog, Murray, and he’s been with me for 11years now. Can’t imagine life without him in it, he’s a little guy but a big presence. When my sister and my brother, who both live in Ottawa, asked if I’d consider dog sitting while they respectively travelled south for a winter vacation, I pretty much said yes without hesitation.

So here I sit, just arrived in Ottawa, surrounded by puppies! Murray is here with me, as are Ella and Fitz. Libby will join the pack on Friday evening. I couldn’t be happier.

While I’m not down south myself, as much as I’d love that right now, I am happy to be in Ottawa for an extended visit. When we started Copperworks I envisioned spending much more time here but it hasn’t quite materialized. Perhaps this will be a good trial run!

Right now it’s -19, feels like -28. So we’re going to stay in and cozy until it warms up a bit and then we are going to go for a nice walk! It’s sunny out so we have to take advantage of that. After lunch, I think I’ll wander down to the local Bridgehead and work there for a while and pick up a few supplies on the way back home. It’s still weird to me to see what has blossomed here in Hintonburg! I grew up in this part of Ottawa, and it was a much, much different place 25 plus years ago.

I won’t complain about it though, I’ll take full advantage of it while I’m here. I’m looking forward to walking as much as possible, so I’ll apologize in advance if I seem reluctant to leave this part of town for a visit!

So if you’re in Ottawa and you’d like to visit, you’ll know where to find, and I’m pretty sure you know how!

IMG_0081.JPG

PS. Nerd related side note, I pretty much wasted my first day in Ottawa triaging a problem with my iPhone. Not exaggerating, literally wasted the whole day. Onwards and upwards!

PPS. I feel like a native of Hintonburg, I made a trip to the Giant Tiger Express to get a few supplies on my first day in Ottawa. So I guess it wasn’t all bad. The sun was out in full force yesterday, and it was nice to get out for a walk!

I Sold my Right Arm…

…well not really. I finally sold the old drum kit. The one that basically made me who I am today. It’s not an easy thing getting rid of something that played such a defining role in your life but it was time. It was way too big. We live in an awesome home but it is small. Love grows best in small places ya know J I moved this kit so many times that I just couldn’t do it anymore. Besides, the memories are in my mind, not in the drums themselves.

Charlie, my 8-year-old daughter, took it the hardest but we’re going to buy another kit. Just something smaller and then we can build memories together on that kit and eventually it will become her own. I do have to say though that when I saw that kit stacked and packed in the various corners of my house my reverence for it changed depending on my mood. I had many great memories but I also looked at it with great disappointment. Disappointment in the fact that I didn’t ‘make it’.

From an early age I wanted to be a rock star. I was 9 years old listening to the Kiss Destroyer album and staring at the album cover thinking ‘these guys are the coolest thing ever’. Then I was introduced to Aerosmith and I was hooked. I lived, breathed, walked and talked music. People saw me and they didn’t just see Mike Large, they saw Mike Large the musician. But I didn’t ‘make it’. I feel like I let so many people down. My friends and family rallied around me and my band mates and supported us through thick and thin. They helped us in any way that they could. My parents God Love them who never once questioned my path. They not only supported me they pushed during times of trouble when I felt like the only option was to give up. Maybe I could have done more. Disappointment. I didn’t ‘make it’. My band mates; from my seat behind the kit I saw the greatest rock band that ever lived. The world deserved to be exposed to each of their talents. I wasn’t able to bring them to the next level. I let them down. I let them all down. I didn’t ‘make it’. At least that’s what I often thought.

My wife and I were talking about this very thing one day and what she said changed me forever. I DID make it. I made it and then some. During my lifetime as a musician I MADE so many life long friends. Kindred spirits who all shared the same dream. I made so many amazing memories and experienced things that only few were able to experience because of music. I made it and then some. I made a life out of this music thing. I made a beautiful family and married my best friend whom I met as a result of music. I made it! Damn right! I really did ‘make it.’

So when I received the offer for my drums my heart kinda sunk. I practically gave them away so I started to think “what if this guy doesn’t care for them. What if he just turns around and sells them for more money to someone else who doesn’t care for them. That would really suck. They deserve a good home.” BUT that didn’t happen. When the man who contacted me came to see my kit he brought his 13-year-old son with him. The son was the one who wanted the drums. He brought his own sticks with him no less AND as we were chatting around the kit the Dad said to me “don’t look at me. I’m merely a taxi. He’s been working the last two years to save up for a new kit and the wife and I can’t change his mind.” I was over the moon happy. This kid reminded me of me when I was his age. He lives music. He plays in a band AND they are recording in a local studio a couple of months from now. Studio time that he and his band mates won in a band competition. This kid loved my drums. His excitement was obvious and I knew right then and there that my kit found the perfect home. Instead of being stowed away they will be used. They will be used to play and perform music day in and day out. They will be cared for and that kid will ‘make it’ to. 

The Year in Pages

It's no secret I am a voracious reader.  I read all the time.  I read everything.  I read all genres.  Also no secret is how much I love suggesting good reads to people.  Yes, I'm THAT person.  For the last couple of years I've been posting my Top 10 Favourite Reads of the past year (you can find lists for 2014 here).  Usually I agonize over which books to cut out of the list.  This year, I am seriously struggling to even find 10 worth including.  2015 was NOT my year of the great amazing reading journey.  Every new book I picked up I would hope and pray would be THE ONE (like my "Arcadia" in 2013 or my "Life After Life" of 2014) and it never, ever was.  Not to say that I didn't find a few gems cuz I totally did.  I just didn't find that book to treasure which is difficult for someone like me to accept. 

So all that said, here's a list of 10 books I read in 2015 that I did like and I've also included some books I hoped to love and just didn't (cuz it's also fun to talk about why you DIDN'T love something too right?)

 

The History of Love -- Nicole Krauss

When forced to pick the book of the year this book is the clear and obvious winner.  The title is unfortunate and yet completely fitting and this book is hugely quotable and poetic from start to finish.  The plot is difficult to condense down but it centres around a character named Leo Gursky who quickly becomes one of those literary characters that you don't soon dismiss -- like an Owen Meany or T.S Garp (Yes, Irving has that gift it seems).  He is old and grouchy and once upon a time had a love for the ages and wrote a book about it.  The book takes on a life and path of its own, affecting generations that come after.  My daughter chose this book for me as a Christmas gift because she liked the way the words looked on the cover and I loved it because the way Krauss seemed to make every word matter and makes you wish Gursky was writing about you.

 

 

Yes Please -- Amy Poehler

I know, I know -- Amy was the "It" girl of 2015 (and arguable a couple years before that) with this book and it was everywhere and everyone said she was following up on Tina Fey's success with her "Bossypants" book but hey, you know what? Amy did it better.  Way better.  And there's a reason this book was everywhere -- because it was fantastic.  This was the kind of book you would read on the bus to work and make a spectacle of yourself cuz you'd be laughing so hard.  "Yes Please" is really SO funny, SO charming, SO intelligent.  There are chapters that are also heartbreaking and sad and serious.  As a reader, I identified with this bio in a huge way.  It seemed every feeling she had, I shared.  Pretty much every woman I know read this book last year and despite my attempts, I couldn't get a man to read it and that's a real shame.  There is something in this book for everyone and her take on the world is something worth immersing yourself in.  I want to be Amy Poehler when I grow up.

 

Fragile Things -- Neil Gaiman

Probably safe to assume there will just BE a Neil Gaiman book on this list every year.  (Remember this little bit of perfection from last year's list?).  Dating way back to 2010, the only flaw in this book is that I didn't read it sooner.  It's a collection of short stories (and you know I love those), each one more fantastic and dreamy than the one before.  They're dark, they're scary, and they leave you with the weirdest dreams as a result.  The best part is the accompanying texts from Gaiman himself about the origin of each story -- gives a very cool glimpse into what must be a strange mind to live with on a daily basis.  The fact that he can write for both adults and children with such skill and ease, with both products being so excellently well-crafted leaves me in awe.  I just think everything he writes is magic.

 

Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertant Education of a Reluctant Chef -- Gabrielle Hamilton

Another bio I piled on my nightstand (but a book I actually gifted to my husband for Christmas) that turned out to be not only a really excellent story about a super interesting person BUT also a really delicious book in general.   Mainly it's the story of acclaimed chef Gabrielle Hamilton but turns out to be a really engaging story about marrying into a family with a different ethnicity than your own and what really goes on in kitchens everywhere -- restaurant kitchens, farm kitchens, family kitchens.  And it also makes you hungry while you read it.  If you're not nuts about reading biographies don't worry, this one kinda feels like reading fiction.

 

Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore -- Robin Sloan

This book was a really fun treat to stumble across.  I didn't see it on a list or read a review, it's from back in 2013 and it just kind of fell outta the realm of my Goodreads app newsfeed and into my lap.  It's SO fun!  The Goodreads review I wrote said it's like The DaVinci Code for bibliophiles except well-written and worth reading.  Pick this up if you love dusty old bookstores, secret societies and a bit of the fantastical thrown in for good measure.  Weird stuff happens in this place.

 

Us Conductors -- Sean Michaels

A novel inspired by the life of Russian scientist and inventor of the theremin Lev Termin?  I know, I'm asleep already right?  But you guys -- this guy was wicked cool.  He not only invented the weirdest instrument we have but was also a spy for the KGB who invented listening devices used during the War and went on to be a Professor of Acoustics at the Moscow Conservatory.  For reals, this guy would've been the coolest guy you knew by a longshot.  It bounces between the Soviet Union and New York City and doesn't lose you for a second of the journey.   For a first novel, this one will be hard to top.  

 

Better Living Through Plastic Explosives -- Zsuzsi Gartner

Another collection of stories that, admittedly, won't be for everyone.  Gartner writes no-holds barred satire to the point of  border line ridiculousness.  It's funny -- really, really funny.  And also wicked smart and pretty shameless.  This is a great book to pick up if you find yourself in a moment of all-consuming society shaming misanthropic glory.  Grab this and go down the rabbit hole.  

 

 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer -- Mark Twain

Now this is a bit of a cheat because I have read this before but not since I was a kid so much of its great qualities were lost on me as a young reader.  I picked this up in the middle of a string of disappointing reads and decided (mostly out of necessity) to step away from the snooty book reviews, the book club picks and the latest depressing coming of age tale of the moment.  I needed a "palate cleanser" of sorts and this did just that.  It was incredibly satisfying to step back into this world of adventures and immerse myself into that whirlwind of childhood emotions.   I should try to do this more often.

 

Grace: A Memoir -- Grace Coddington

This one is also a bit of a cheat because it's really not that good of a book.  It's very simply written, it jumps around a lot and not in a way that always makes sense and, as a memoir, you don't really learn much about the subject that you don't already know.  Confession: I have a bit of a weakness for high fashion couture and all the drama and art that goes along with it.  And a guilty pleasure like that doesn't come without a healthy obsession with Grace Coddington, the woman behind the woman at Vogue.  She looks like a crazy gypsy and is the only person who can tell Anna Wintour where to stuff it.  If you've seen the documentary "The September Issue" (and you should cuz it's great) it's hard not to be taken with her.  I devoured this book despite it being a beast and way longer than it needed to be. 

 

Girl in a Band: A Memoir -- Kim Gordon

One last biography to round out the list this year.  I think I read more bios this year than I've read in my whole life.  I thought this book was great, despite what everyone said.  Was it AS good as I hoped it would be?  Probably not.  But considering I think Kim Gordon is probably the coolest woman on the planet, it's hard to say if any bio would've made her seem as cool as she already is in my head.  It's chock full of music nerd fodder and equally full of petty gossip about her fellow music industry friends as well as FULL of gossip about her marriage to Thurston Moore (who famously cheated on her for years with his book editor).  But gossip aside, it's also a killer story about New York City and the music scene that they came up in and then ultimately ruled.  

 

Honourable Mentions

Dorothy Must Die -- Danielle Paige

I try to read at least a couple Young Adult fiction books in a year because I have a pile of young nieces and nephews who read and I love gifting them with books that I think are actually good (like the Wildwood books -- sigh) so I like to cover my bases.  This book is part of a series that tackles the Land of Oz but under the premise that Dorothy took a bit of a nasty turn and turned Oz into a place of bloodshed and fear.  Very fun stuff.  I only read the first book but I would for sure follow this series.  It's a good bit of escapist fun to be sure.

 

Books I Wanted to Love But Didn't

The Paying Guests -- Sarah Waters

I was SO excited to read this and wanted to read it for about a year before I finally got my hands on it.  It was such a disappointment for a lot of reasons but mostly because for some reason I though this book was about something COMPLETELY different and for that reason I spent most of the book trying to shake that disappointment.  And the book just wasn't compelling enough to help shake that off.  *shakes fist at Heather from Chapters*

 

The Girl Who Saved the King of Sweden - Jonas Jonasson

The first half of this book had me.  100%.  I could not put it down.  Then........it all just stopped and languished for a couple of hundred pages.  What a letdown.

 

A God in Ruins -- Kate Atkinson

Considering that "Life After Life" is one of the best books I've ever read, I had VERY high hopes for this companion book.  Granted, this book had huge shoes to fill and loving it as much as LAL was unlikely, I still thought I would love it more than I did.  To be fair, the last few chapters of this book are really, really lovely but they just didn't make up for the rest of the book just being lacklustre.  Also I read so much WWII fiction this past year that it was an uphill battle for this book already.

 

All the Light we Cannot See -- Anthony Doer

EVERYONE loved this book.  I really wanted to love it too.  I liked it a lot, to be fair.  This book has some really magical moments  and the parts with Marie-Laure hiding in her attic are pure genius. But again, it was yet another WWII book at the end of what felt like 15 WWII books and I just couldn't do it.  In hindsight, I should've left this until next year maybe.  

 

So that about sums it up for 2015.  I have high hopes that 2016 will bring me THE ONE that it didn't last year.  Maybe it's the one I'm reading right now??

 

 

 

 

 

2015, My Year In Tunes

It's weird, when mid-December rolled around and I started to think about this year's list, I actually had trouble thinking of any great music that I had listened to in 2015. But once I started going through Apple Music (I switched from Rdio this summer but was still very sad to see it shut down) I was really surprised by just how much good music there was this year! So here is my list, in no particular order, of my favourite music from 2015!

Something More Than Free, Jason Isbell
Jason Isbell has easily become on my favourite songwriters. There is a vividness to the stories he tells that I once found in the Earles (Steve and Justin Townes). I was in love with his 2014 record Southeastern, but Something More Than Free tops it. The songs are no less potent, but it’s brighter in a way. 

Hey Love, Hayden
Hayden. Need I say more? Seriously. Took me a while to warm up to Hayden but every record is better than the last. I haven’t listened to this as much as I should have, but it makes the cut!

Coming Home, Leon Bridges
This record is amazing. It sounds like it was written and recorded in a completely different time than it was, and not in a rip offey kind of way that could have diminished the recording. 

Nathalie Prass, Nathalie Prass
I was intrigued about this artist as she was part of Jenny Lewis’ touring band on her last tour, and I devoured any and all videos I could find of them playing live. It’s a really great album, more so because I guess it sat around for a while as the before it was finally released this year. Can’t wait to hear what she’s got coming next!

Goon, Tobias Jesso Jr.
Seriously, if you haven’t listened to this record, stop what you’re doing and go find it and give it a spin. If you’re in a blue mood, all the better. Like Leon Bridges, this record sounds a bit out of time and place (in a very different way than Bridges’ record) and I love that about it. And in a weird way, to me at least, it plays as a male counterpart to Nathalie Prass’ record. 

Sound & Color, Alabama Shakes
Do I really need to say anything more about this that hasn’t already been said?

California Nights, Best Coast
I’m on the fence about this record. Part of me wants to toss it into the Disappointment section below and part of me loves it. And I have this reaction for one reason: Best Coast is a band that is basically just doing more of the same. The same is good, I loved their last two records. But there was some growth between them. This? Not so much. So I’ll leave it here for now…

10 000, Emilie & Ogden
This is probably the most interesting record to me of 2015. The lead singer and songwriter is a harpist and the harp is central to the recording, but not in an over the top, annoying way. It’s quite a lovely record.

The Spirit Moves, Langhorne Slim & The Law
I kind of knew who Langhorne Slim was, but it wasn’t until I heard him interviewed on WTF, the Marc Maron podcast that I became interested enough to listen to his music (that’s also how I came to know Jason Isbell!). It’s a lovely, folk-roots record.

Crosseyed Heart, Keith Richards
Richards’ solo record, Main Offender, is one of my all time favourite records. I love him solo. The opening blues track has me dreaming of a record FULL of that kind of stuff. Between his chops on the guitar and that ragged voice, I was engaged right from the start.

Honourable mentions: No Life For Me, Wavves & Cloud Nothing, All Across This Land, Blitzen Trapper (another record that sounds out of time), The Edge of the Sun, Calexico, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Florence + The Machine (this probably should be on my list, just haven’t spent enough time with it), Restless One, Heartless Bastards, 3 1/2, The Golden Dogs.

Records I Didn't Love As Much As I Had Hoped I Would: I’ve never listed records that disappointed me before. But this year, there were some much anticipated records that just bored me to tears. These are all artists I’ve enjoyed and loved (My Morning Jacket in particular is a long-time fav, and Steve Earle has at times been my favourite songwriter). In each case I wasn’t interested in the directions these records took, either because I wasn’t interested or it was too much of the same. 

Vieux Loup, The Acorn
The Waterfall, My Morning Jacket
Terraplane, Steve Earle & The Dukes

 

Time for a Slight Change in Regular Programming

Hello friends! I will assumer than any of you that follow the Copperworks team are in the know that we are about to go down the rabbit hole. In other words, we start production on a new television series on Monday! Which means we won't have as much time to dedicate to blogging and communicating here.

The Reading List, our curated list of interesting articles and videos from around the web will definitely continue, and we'll post here as often as we can. We'll also post pics from set and behind the scenes and hopefully introduce you to some of the cool people we'll be working with. And we'll try to post some classic blog posts, in case you didn't see them the first.

Enjoy your fall, we'll see you at Christmas!

My Seasonal Rankings

Summer is winding down and I am one of the few Sudburians who is actually excited about that. I enjoy the changing of the seasons. By far summer is my favourite but winter is definitely a close second. So close in fact that there are times during the winter that I flip flop my choices and winter is the king season for me.

Fall is pretty amazing here in Northern Ontario as well. The changing colour of the leaves, the sudden surprising warm days that just make you fall in love with the outdoors all over again are something to behold in our neck of the woods. Probably the only reason fall ranks third in my seasonal list is that odd space of time in November leaning into the beginning of winter where the weather gets bitter cold as our bodies try to adjust and yet there is no snow on the ground to be able to enjoy it. It’s a season in limbo…so is spring.

Spring is an awakening experience as well but it falls into fourth place for me and it’s also a season that is partly wedged in limbo. The melting of snow is exciting and the sense of rejuvenation is inspiring but the nasty mess and garbage it leaves behind, not to mention the smell of…well…spring can be a headache. It’s also the time of year when I look back at the past winter and get mad at myself for not enjoying the snowy climes enough.

Either way, I’m going to make the most of September and the beauty weather we are experiencing at the moment but I am already digging out skates, tubes and toboggans with wide eyed enthusiasm. The thought of hanging outside on a snowy hill or outdoor rink with my wife and daughter, laughing and experiencing all that the cold months have to offer have me pretty charged up.

It's Fall, And I No Longer Feel Nostalgic

I’ve posted several times over the years about how I nostalgic the first day of school could make me. Even after all these years. But perhaps I’ve finally hit the magic zone because this year: nothing. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so much busier at the moment than I have been in year’s past or if it’s the maniacal parents driving their kids to school. This was something I used to be able to avoid thanks to working from home. But now I drive or walk to work AND I walk my dog in the morning, which puts me directly in the line of fire so to speak, of angry parents dropping their kids off. Anyways….

I’m kind of bummed about the lack of nostalgia this year. I love the fall. It’s my favourite season. I love dewy, wet, misty fall mornings. They take me back to memories of being a kid and even to my first real job in the Byward Market in Ottawa. Heck, I even have a fetish for stationery products and used to love to browse all the back to school sales, even though I was never in need of a duo tang or binder. It was just habit.

I loved seeing all the kids heading to school back to school, following behind their mom’s like little ducklings. And more recently seeing all the first day of school pictures on Facebook. This year? Nothing. In fact, I after a while as I noticed how much this was invading my feed, I avoided Facebook. I don’t have kids, but I sure do love the ones that are in my life. All those shiny, happy little faces brought me no joy in 2015.

All this un-Dennis like behaviour had me asking some tough questions. Am I dead inside? Maybe. Have I lost all sense of joy and fun? I think, probably? Or has enough time finally passed since I was a student that I don’t feel any attachment to the start of school?

I’m hoping that this is a passing phase, thanks to how busy things are at Copperworks HQ. Because it would make me sad if the first day of school, which for me is synonymous with the start of fall, didn’t hold some reminder of my childhood and youth. Here’s to 2016, and thoughts of nostalgia.