Author Archive

Book Review: The Birth of Loud

The Birth of Loud tells the story of Fender versus Les Paul, how they each got their starts and how they came to end up creating their now well known guitars.  It was 42 chapters and a lot of drama and very interesting.  I don’t know much about guitars so it was interesting to read about how they were creating them and what materials they were using and what kind of tones they were hoping to achieve out of them.  It was also interesting to read that Gibson had denied the idea that was brought to them for one of the guitars!   Also interesting was how Les Paul was give a Fender to try out – even though the two were kind of competitors and enemies.

Definitely a really interesting musical read.  I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released January 15, 2019 through Scribner.

About the Book

A riveting saga in the history of rock ‘n’ roll: the decades-long rivalry between the two men who innovated the electric guitar’s amplified sound—Leo Fender and Les Paul—and their intense competition to convince rock stars like the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Clapton to play the instruments they built.

In the years after World War II, music was evolving from big-band jazz into the primordial elements of rock ’n’ roll—and these louder styles demanded revolutionary instruments. When Leo Fender’s tiny firm marketed the first solid-body electric guitar, the Esquire, musicians immediately saw its appeal. Not to be out-maneuvered, Gibson, the largest guitar manufacturer, raced to build a competitive product. The company designed an “axe” that would make Fender’s Esquire look cheap and convinced Les Paul—whose endorsement Leo Fender had sought—to put his name on it. Thus was born the guitar world’s most heated rivalry: Gibson versus Fender, Les versus Leo.

While Fender was a quiet, half-blind, self-taught radio repairman from rural Orange County, Paul was a brilliant but egomaniacal pop star and guitarist who spent years toying with new musical technologies. Their contest turned into an arms race as the most inventive musicians of the 1950s and 1960s—including bluesman Muddy Waters, rocker Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton—adopted one maker’s guitar or another. By the time Jimi Hendrix played “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969 on his Fender Stratocaster, it was clear that electric instruments—Fender or Gibson—had launched music into a radical new age, empowering artists with a vibrancy and volume never before attainable.

Book Review: U2

U2 is rock-and-roll royalty. U2: The Definitive Biography is the first unauthorized biography of the band to document their career. The book contains previously unpublished photographs and interviews with the band’s friends and business associates.  It also goes into the bands humanitarian work.

I’m not a huge U2 fan so while there are some myths about the band “debunked”, I really didn’t know there were myths to begin with.  This book goes pretty in depth with the history, from the band just starting out to more present day.

The photos included in the middle of the book are pretty fantastic, beginning with photos of Bono when he was 15 or 16 years old!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review, I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released May 8, 2018 by Thistle Publishing.

About the Book

John Jobling takes readers beyond the myth in this unauthorized biography to present the first comprehensive account of the illustrious Irish rockers in 25 years. Drawing on extensive interviews with insiders including record label scouts, studio presidents, politicians, music critics, and childhood friends, Jobling investigates the U2’s most personal relationships and controversial business practices, delivering a vivid portrait that traces the rock phenomenon from its conception to post-punk champions to political crusaders. Filled with captivating revelations, reader will learn:

– How Bono, the Edge, and Larry Mullen, Jr. worshiped with a Charismatic Christian church that practiced speaking in tongues during the band’s early days

– Insider stories of the genesis and recording of classic albums such as The Joshua Tree and Achtung Baby

– Creative tensions within the band and power struggles among management

– How the disappointments of the Rattle and Hum film and PopMart Tour spurred the band to greater creative heights

– Both the successes and controversies of Bono’s wide-sweeping philanthropic and political ventures

– The disconnect between the band’s personal lives and public personas

Sure to inspire debate with every music lover, U2: The Definitive Biography humanizes the band and paints an honest picture of a band’s rise to the top, plunging into the heart and underlying soul of this iconic rock and roll band.

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Book Review: It’s a Question of Space

It’s a Question of Space is an astronaut, Clayton C. Anderson, who lived in space for 167 days answering questions sent to him via social media about what it’s like to be in space and be an astronaut. Growing up I always wanted to be an astronaut so I was drawn to this book to find out what it would really be like.  There’s also a fun mention of Lance Bass in the book, so that is always a plus.

This was a very interesting read and I liked it as a Q&A moreso than just a book to read through since if I wasn’t particularly interested in a question (though I will admit there weren’t many of those) I could just skip over it to the next question.  I learned a lot and really enjoyed this book!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released July 1, 2018 from University of Nebraska Press.

About the Book

Having spent over 150 days on his first tour of the International Space Station, it’s safe to say that Clayton C. Anderson knows a thing or two about space travel. Now retired and affectionately known as “Astro Clay” by his many admirers on social media and the Internet, Anderson has fielded thousands of questions over the years about spaceflight, living in space, and what it’s like to be an astronaut. Written with honesty and razor-sharp wit, It’s a Question of Space gathers Anderson’s often humorous answers to these questions and more in a book that will beguile young adults and space buffs alike.

Covering topics as intriguing as walking in space, what astronauts are supposed to do when they see UFOs, and what role astronauts play in espionage, Anderson’s book is written in an accessible question-and-answer format that covers nearly all aspects of life in space imaginable. From living in zero gravity to going to the bathroom up there, It’s a Question of Space leaves no stone unturned in this witty firsthand account of life as an astronaut.

Book Review: Mascot Nation

Mascot Nation focuses on the controversy over Native American Representation in Sports.  To be honest I watch a decent amount of sports but have never really thought about how Native Americans are represented especially at the mascot level.  I know that news picks up every now and then about wanting to change some of the mascots to something different, but change never really seems to happen.  This book goes into more detail about that and how there are polls that seem to be skewed to say that Native Americans aren’t offended by it – and if they aren’t, why should anyone else be? But most of these polls taken can’t prove that only those voting were Native Americans.

This book focuses more on the academics of the issue and it definitely opened my eyes a bit and will have me looking at this controversy in a different way now.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released October 8, 2018 through University of Illinois Press.

About the Book

The issue of Native American mascots in sports raises passions but also a raft of often-unasked questions. Which voices get a hearing in an argument? What meanings do we ascribe to mascots? Who do these Indians and warriors really represent?

Andrew C. Billings and Jason Edward Black go beyond the media bluster to reassess the mascot controversy. Their multi-dimensional study delves into the textual, visual, and ritualistic and performative aspects of sports mascots. Their original research, meanwhile, surveys sports fans themselves on their thoughts when a specific mascot faces censure. The result is a book that merges critical-cultural analysis with qualitative data to offer an innovative approach to understanding the camps and fault lines on each side of the issue, the stakes in mascot debates, whether common ground can exist and, if so, how we might find it.


Andrew C. Billings is a professor and Ronald Reagan Chair of Broadcasting in the Department of Journalism and Creative Media at the University of Alabama. He is the coauthor of Olympic Television: Broadcasting the Biggest Show on Earth and Media and the Coming Out of Gay Male Athletes in American Team Sports. Jason Edward Black is chair and a professor of communication studies at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He is a coeditor of Decolonizing Native American Rhetoric: Communicating Self-Determination, the author of American Indians and the Rhetoric of Removal and Allotment, and a coeditor of An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s Speeches and Writings.

Book Review: How To Date Men When You Hate Men

I was really looking forward to reading How to Date Men When You Hate Men.   Except that the book ended up being not at all what I was expecting and it ended up taking me forever to actually finish it.  As someone who is using dating apps and is ‘over it’ and definitely in a state of ‘hating’ men… I thought I would be able to relate more to the book and was looking to laugh a little bit more with someone who is dealing with the same crap that I am.  Except it doesn’t seem like the author is dealing with the same crap at all (yet all my friends using the apps seem to be) and she is actually going out with guys but then kind of seems to write off that it isn’t a date.  *shrugs*  The plus was in the end she didn’t reveal that she had found a guy that she was dating, that would have just been a stab in the heart if it was how it ended.  There were a few things that hit home and made me laugh but for the most part I felt like this book missed the mark.

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated. This book was released January 8, 2019 from Flatiron Books.

About the Book

Book Review: Girls Resist!

Girls Resist! is an activism handbook for girls who want to try and make some change in the world.  One of the ways to fight back mentioned in the book was to see what kind of unconscious bias you have. I took the Career & Family test and was told “Your data suggests a moderate automatic association for Male with Career and Female with Family.”  Some of the others I took did not give me the answers I “expected” to get.  You can see your biases for yourself at!

At the end of each chapter where it discusses an issue that girls might face, there is always a way to “fight back!” listed and ways to do it and be involved within your community to help fix some of these issues.

I think this book is a great read for young girls who might feel like they don’t matter and their voice is not being heard. It gives a lot of ways to help get them to realize that they do matter and they can be heard as well as some ways to get out there and resist!

I received a free e-copy of this book in order to write this review. I was not otherwise compensated.  This book was released on August 7, 2018 from Quirk Books.

About the Book

An activism handbook for teen girls ready to fight for change, social justice, and equality.

Take on the world and make some serious change with this handbook to everything activism, social justice, and resistance. With in-depth guides to everything from picking a cause, planning a protest, and raising money to running dispute-free meetings, promoting awareness on social media, and being an effective ally, Girls Resist! will show you how to go from “mad as heck about the way the world is going” to “effective leader who gets stuff done.” Veteran feminist organizer KaeLyn Rich shares tons of expertise that’ll inspire you as much as it teaches you the ropes. Plus, quotes and tips from fellow teen girl activists show how they stood up for change in their communities. Grab this handbook to crush inequality, start a revolution, and resist!

Product Review: Design Cap

PearlMountain is at is again with another great website.  This time I hav tried out their DesignCap website which is a free poster maker designed to help users create custom posters in minutes – you don’t need to have any graphics skills (and we know I really don’t.)
There are hundreds of professionally designed templates available and within about 10 minutes I had 4 posters created that will probably be printed and make their way into my scrapbook as mini poster embellishments but could also be used to promote local shows and events that you may have coming up. And that was without even looking through all of the content that is available to try and come up with other great poster combinations.
In addition, some features include:
* Thousands of stock photos, clipart images, shapes, fonts, and backgrounds.
* Fully customizable features.
* Completely free to use.
* Localized into 7 languages:English, German, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, French, Chinese.
Here are the posters I tossed together in just minutes! Feel free to check it out for yourself at
I was asked to review this website. The website is free for all to use and I did not receive any compensation. All opinions are 100% my own.

Stephen Kellogg Stage One Fairfield, CT

My last show of the year as I believe it has been for the past couple years, was Stephen Kellogg. For this show he was accompanied by Eric Donnelly on guitar and Taylor Carson opened.  The show was promoting his latest release, “Objects in the Mirror” which I unfortunately didn’t have a chance to fully listen to before the show.  (In an effort to remedy this I have purchased a discman for listening to CDs at work now – so expect more CD reviews in 2019.)

During Song for Daughters I started to tear up a bit and thought to myself… how can he perform these songs that are so emotional and probably mean more to him than me, and make it through without crying?  Well… I got my answer on the next song – he can’t.  By the end of Objects in the Mirror he was crying and talked a little bit about it before playing Prayers on the keyboard.

The second half of the setlist was requests shouted out from the audience and I am not sure how he understood what anyone was saying… and maybe he didn’t and just picked what he wanted to play pretending it was a request. *shrug*

For the last song of the main set, Last Man Standing, 2 of his 4 daughters joined him on stage and for the last song of the encore he did See You Later See You Soon on the “b stage” like Taylor Swift would do (ugh) and kept yelling for us to sing THREE MORE! and was joined by Taylor Carson.  A great show for the last show of 2018 and looking forward to seeing him again in 2019 even though at the moment his tour is not returning to CT.

Anti-Bucket List 2018

Start off the year in a greenhouse plan b stage due to weather.  Finish the year off in a tent that is about to cave in due to weather.  Go to Vegas to see a residency show. Have my first kiss.  See All 5 *NSYNC Members together again.  See pretty much all the 90s/00s boybands in the year (*NSYNC, BSB, Hanson, O-Town, 98 degrees) Say goodbye to my favorite LFO member, Devin. See 8 shows with orchestra accompaniment. (And only 7 were Hanson!) Have a giggle fit mid slow-song in a concert. Visit 2 new states: Georgia and Tennessee.  Visit 2 new major league ballparks: PETCO Field and Coors Field.  Visit 4 new minor league ballparks: Dunkin Donuts Park, ONEOK Field, MCU Park, NYSEG Stadium.  Take a business trip to California and Oklahoma. Visit Disneyland. Not make my GoodReads goal of 100 books for the year (57/100). Start Grad School. Maintain a 4.0 GPA for the first semester of grad school. Be a year+ behind on scrapbooking to finish out the year.  Start to really realize who my true friends are and really cherish those that have been there for me all year when things got a little crazy.  Have 0 motivation to turn this into a fun graphic before heading out for a New Year’s Party.

2017 Anti Bucket List
2016 Anti Bucket List
2015 Anti Bucket List
2014 Anti Bucket List
2013 Anti Bucket List 

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Year In Review 2018

Most expensive show:
Other than BTTI – Backstreet Boys in Vegas

Least (not free) expensive show:
Hanson’s Storytellers show in Tulsa at $30

Free shows:
O-Town, The Last Bandoleros, Ruben Studdard, Hanson, The Hop Jam, 5SOS, Jon McLaughlin

# artists seen: 53
# unique artists seen: 8
# shows seen in CT: 18
# of shows out of state: 20

Show farthest away: BSB in Vegas
Closest show: O-Town and David Archuleta in Fairfield
$$ spent on tickets: $4,666
Miles traveled: 13,872.5

Top 6 shows of the year?


Total number of shows in 2018? 38

First show of the year? Hanson in Jamaica

First show with actual tickets: Walk the Moon

Last show of the year? Stephen Kellogg

Most surprising show? Evanescence and Lindsey Stirling w/ a orchestra

Most disappointing? I didn’t really have any bummers of shows this year

Farthest traveled? Las Vegas for BSB’s residency

States attended shows in? Jamaica, CT, NV, FL, OK, NY, PA, CO, MA, GA, TN, MA, VA

Venue most visited? Probably the Wolf Den at Mohegan Sun

Band seen the most? Hanson at 16 times.

Best new discovery? The Last Bandoleros

Bands seen this year that also broke up this year? I don’t think any.

Friends made at shows? Maybe? I’m a little anti-social lol

Band members met? Hanson, O-Town, The Last Bandoleros, Andy Grammer, Tyler Hilton, David Cook, 98 Degrees, David Archuleta, Jon McLaughlin

Best souvenir from a show? My life after Hanson in VA

Longest time in line? Probably for O-Town VIP in Fairfield. Didn’t wait too much for anything else. Most were seated.

Shows seen from the barricade [front row]– Hanson BTTI, O-Town Fairfield, Hanson in Nashville, Hanson in Denver (kind of)

Most shows in one month?

January – 4
February – 1
March – 5
April – 1
May – 4
June – 1
July – 2
August – 3
September – 3
October – 4
November – 5
December – 5

Looks like a 3 way tie with 5 shows in March, November and December. (No wonder I have been so tired lately)

Most shows in one week? November 10/11/13/16

Biggest crowd? Probably The Hop Jam in Tulsa. Or one of the Arena shows.

Any drunk encounters? None that are standing out to me!

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