Book Review: True North

True North : A Life Inside the Music Business is by Bernie Finkelstein, a name in the Canadian Music Industry.  As I don’t keep up too much on the Canadian music industry, I can’t say that I had every heard of him, but that didn’t make his story any less interesting!

In the beginning of the book, Bernie talks a bit about how this story is about him moreso than the musicians and if he didn’t mention an artist that you were looking to be mentioned, it probably just meant he never worked with them.  Although the list of bands and artists that he did work with is pretty long.

I always enjoy getting the “behind the scenes” look at what goes on in the music industry. Bernie helped in a way establish what now is the Canadian industry so he obviously has a lot of great stories to tell.  The book starts off each chapter with a lyric or quote and then goes in to the chapter.  Since it is an autobiography, you know you are getting all the details firsthand.

The book is really well written, it is a quick read and very interesting.  I definitely recommend it to anyone interested in the music industry!

I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in order to write this review.

About the Book

One of the all-time greats in Canadian music recounts his life and times in the business from the 1960s to the present. Whether acting as a producer, record label owner, or manager of great singer/songwriters and bands, Bernie Finkelstein, recipient of the 2006 Juno Special Achievement Award, has played a pivotal role in bringing great Canadian music to the rest of the world.
Bernie Finkelstein has been a prominent figure in the Canadian music industry for nearly five decades. Now, a couple years after selling his beloved True North label and only recently stepping down from his role at MuchFACT, which has given out more than $63 million in grants to Grammy-winning acts like Sarah McLachlan, Nelly Furtado and Arcade Fire, Bernie is finally ready to talk. In this wildly entertaining and outspoken memoir, the producer, label owner, and artist manager opens up about his childhood, breaking into the Greenwich Village scene with The Paupers at age 19, discovering Bruce Cockburn, producing the “loudest band in the world,” Kensington Market, managing and producing Murray McLauchlan, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, and Rough Trade, winning 40 Junos, and much more.


BERNIE FINKELSTEIN has been a prominent figure in the Canadian music industry for over 40 years. In 1969, Bernie founded True North Records (now Canada’s oldest and longest running indie record label) and The Finkelstein Management Company. Since its inception, the label has sold more than 40 gold and platinum records and received more than 40 Junos. Throughout his career, Bernie has been known for nurturing and managing career artists including Murray McLauchlan, Barney Bentall, Dan Hill, and Blackie & the Rodeo Kings. Bernie is also still active as the manager of legendary Canadian artist Bruce Cockburn. In 1984, Bernie co-founded MuchFACT, a fund backed by MuchMusic and MuchMore that provides grants to Canadian artists like Arcade Fire, Sarah McLachlan, Nelly Furtado and k-os. He is a member of the Order of Canada, and an inductee of the Canadian Music Industry Hall of Fame.

Book Review: The Catch

The Catch by Rick Jasper is a fictional young adult novel.  When the story starts, Danny has already made “The Catch”, it has gone viral online and he is rising in popularity.  Ocelot sports gear offers Danny a contract to use their gear during his games and appear in their advertising.  He talks it over with his father and decides to go for it, as long as the company back home currently advertising is ok with it.  Ocelot says they will sue the company back home if they don’t allow it. (This should have been Danny’s first tip off that perhaps this wasn’t the best idea.)

Danny begins to be featured in ads and believes to be making money off the deal (his dad is in charge of all that though).  The guy from Ocelot tells him to show off the gear when he makes plays, giving him a doorag to wear under his hat and some spotted Ocelot shoes.  His coaches aren’t too in to this and ban him from playing unless he wears black shoes.  This of course all works out in Ocelots favor, but are Danny’s teammates getting fed up with his special treatment?

When trying to show off on a play, the ball ends up hitting Danny in the head knocking him out.  Is this what he needed to get some sense knocked into him?

This was a great quick read and would be a great summer book for your child who is a baseball player or fan.  It definitely teaches some great lessons and was fun to read.

I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in order to write this review.

About the Book

When Danny makes “the catch,” everyone seems interested in him. Girls text him, kids ask for autographs, and his highlight play even makes it on SportsCenter’s Top Plays. A sports-gear executive tempts Danny with a big-money offer, and he decides to take advantage of his newfound fame. Danny agrees to wear their gear when he plays. But as his bank account gets bigger, so does his ego. Will Danny be able to keep his head in the game?

AMF “Summer Unplugged”

Growing up, my mom always had a hard time trying to figure out what to do with me and my brothers in the summers when we were off from school.  One thing we would do a couple of times per summer would be to go bowling.  We would be inside where it is air conditioned, but still had the chance to be competitive and play a sport.  My youngest brother was probably the most fun to watch bowling – if he needed the ball to lean to the left, he’d lean his whole body to the left in hopes that the ball would follow his lead.  It usually didn’t.  My other brother was usually the best at bowling, with my younger brother and I competing for who would come in last.

This summer AMF is hosting Summer Unplugged, free bowling for kids and Summer Pass which is bowling for 16 and older.  The Summer Unplugged program offers vouchers for kids to bowl 2 free games per day in the summer.  All you need to do is register your email on their website I linked and you’ll get a weekly voucher for 2 games per child.  Shoe rental is not included. This promotion runs until September 3rd.  Summer Pass is just $29.95 and allows you and 3 other family members 16 and older to bowl 2 games per day all summer long!  That is less than $7.50 per person! Bowling is available until 8pm 7 days a week. Shoe rental is not included with the Summer Pass.  This is a great deal and I am tempted to get my brothers and go down a day or two this summer for old times sake and see if we’ve gotten any better with age!

I participated in this campaign as a member of One2One Network and am eligible for a prize drawing.  All opinions stated in the post are my own

Book Review: Vision Box Ideas

I am always looking for fun and creative ways to display my “stuff”, and Vision Box Ideas has definitely given me MANY ideas. (Now if only I had all the time in the world to do crafts!)  The book is by Mark Montano.  If his name sounds familiar to you (like it did to me!) it is because he was one of the designers on the TLC Show “While You Were Out” (which for a while was hosted by 2gether member Evan Farmer so I made sure to never miss an episode!)

Vision Boxes are 3-D mixed media projects.  The book shows you ways to make your own boxes or you can buy a deep frame at the craft store and work from that. (I think shadow boxes would probably also work.)  There are a lot of cute ideas in the books with a list of supplies in order to duplicate them, but I think if I get around to making one of them I will modify it so it is more “me”.

The book is full color and shows images throughout the steps of creating the boxes so you can be sure not to “mess up” (however, a lot of times in crafts such as these it is often the things that are done as a mistake that really give the items a life and look of their own!)

Find out more about Mark at his website:

and blog:

About the Book

Vision boxes and shrine containers connect the spirit of creativity with life. Each of Mark’s charming projects will help you discover the inner self, acquire a sense of wonder, and provide inspiration. Be inspired as you assemble your personal mojo into a personal display of your life. Bring your mind, hands and spirit into focus through these simple steps. Vision Boxes are very personal and require no artistic training. Expand personal messages in your projects as you discover your hidden potential. Appreciate the uniqueness of your experience in the world as you create unique art and discover the infinite possibilities that spring from creativity.

About the Author:
Mark Montano is the author of Big Ass Book of Crafts, Big Ass Book of Crafts #2, Big
Ass Book of Home Decor, Pulp Fiction and others. He has been a contributing editor to
CosmoGIRL! magazine and his weekly column, Make Your Mark appeared in more than
70 news papers across the country. His television credits include being a designer on
While You Were Out (TLC), and She’s Moving In (WE TV) as well as hosting 10 Years
Younger (TLC) and My Celebrity Home (Style Network). He holds a Masters Degree
from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City where he also runs a
successful boutique.

Book Review: What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?

What Do You Want To Do Before You Die is the new book from the guys of the Buried Life – Ben, Duncan, Jonnie and Dave.  I first heard about the Buried Life from their TV show that was on MTV a few years back.  The show had me hooked – it was about 4 guys who are looking to complete their list of #100 things before they die.  They call themselves The Buried Life.  But in addition to reaching their goal – for every item they are able to cross of their list, they help a stranger cross an item off of their list.  Pretty neat.

Recently they wrote a book and are now trying to cross off another item on their list: Write a New York Times Bestseller.  Through various promotions and book signings they have been trying to boost sales – and I love the guys and am a sucker for “perks”, so when they posted that books bought on a certain day from Barnes & Noble would come signed – I was in.

The book is a weird size, and I thought it was going to end up taking me forever to read! It has a lot of pages.  What I didn’t realize though is that a majority of those pages are filled with drawings from people answering the question “What Do You Want To Do Before You Die?”  This is the question the guys ask everyone and it really makes you think.

Last year I saw Ben and Dave talk at Southern Connecticut State University.  I am not sure what they said but I left completely motivated.  Then… eventually I lost all motivation.  They said that in order to start crossing things off your list, you have to first write them down.  And I was all ready to write things down but then life got in the way.  I really need to take some time to myself and start a list.  Maybe not come up with 100 things right off the bat, but start small and work my way up.  And no one says my list HAS to be 100 things.

In addition to these pages with their question being answered – there are the stories about how The Buried Life started and some of the first things they did to get items crossed off the list (some of this was very similar to what they said at the school – but even if you saw them on one of their tours there is a LOT more content than just that in the book) but it also has stories from other people.

There was one story that stood out to me the most (not that they all weren’t wonderful). It was written by Bing Gordon.  I’m not sure I can summarize the story and do it justice – but I’ll try.  He was in class and asked about what he’d like to do.  He said he wanted to create something so that you could make your own characters and control them through a computer.  The whole class was silent, probably because they thought his idea was ridiculous.  After class the teacher pulled him aside and said that another student had answered similarly in another class.  He told him to meet with the other student.  The two ended up creating EA Games.  You probably are familiar with The Sims – which is made by EA, as well as many, many other games.

I think the moral of the story is – no matter how ridiculous other people might think your dreams are – if it is YOUR dream and you think that you can achieve it then you should absolutely go for it.  The Buried Life guys added “play basketball with President Obama” on their list and thought it was never going to happen (especially considering they are Canadians) but wouldn’t you know there is a photo of the 4 guys with Obama after having played some hoops with him?  They said that Obama liked them because they help others too.

I think the message is great – achieve your dreams and goals and help others too with what resources you might have that they don’t.

I purchased The Buried Life book for myself and decided to write a review for my readers. I was not compensated.

Tombow Adhesive

Lately it has seemed that my “to do” list for scrapbooking keeps getting longer and longer and I keep putting off creating any pages.  It turns out that the boost I needed to get back to working on layouts was Tombow Adhesive!  A new toy!  These glues have a number of uses, but I used mine exclusively for scrapbooking.

The glue is acid-free, photo-safe and non-toxic, which are definitely things that you want to hear when you are creating scrapbooks that you want to last a lifetime (or two or three.)  The adhesive bonds instantly, cleanly and wrinkle-free which is definitely a plus.  I’ve had other glues that bubble up under the photo and it ends up looking silly once the page is all put together because the picture is all bumpy.  With the tombow adhesive, I didn’t have that problem at all! All my photos laid nice and flat and didn’t fall off either when I picked them up to move them once I finished a layout!

When it says bonds instantly, they aren’t joking.  I had one picture go down not quite where I wanted it to, and it tore the paper when I peeled it back up.  Fortunately I just had to move it over a smidge so there were no blemishes on the page, but in the future I might want to try going for the removable bond, just so I have that wiggle room if I’m not 100% sold on my layout after sticking things down.

The tape is 1/3″ by 472″, I’ve done 3  12×12 layouts and it is still going strong.  I expect it to last me through the rest of my scrapping to do list  (5 more events) and then some.

A 2012 scrapbook layout post should be coming sometime in the next few months, so be sure to pay extra attention to the SK6ers, Matt Nathanson, Concert for Kids, Hanson in NJ and Big Time Rush layouts because those are the ones that I used the Tombow adhesives for!

I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

Book Review: Bill Veeck

Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick is by Paul Dickson. Having grown up with his father working for the Cubs, Bill said that one day he would own a baseball team.  He got his start working with the Cubs and Mr. Wrigley and is responsible for early renovations done to the ball park – including the ivy in the outfield.  After running his course with the Cubs, he moved on to work for the Milwaukee Brewers, who in a way were teamed up with the Cubs – he got players from the Cubs for the Brewers, guys that were benched but might do better with another ball club. At the time, the Brewers were a minor league team.

He had said he was going to buy the Phillies and have an entire roster of negros filling the field, but ultimately went to war to serve his country instead.  He was honorably discharged after receiving an injury that ended up with him losing his leg.

He moved on to the Cleveland Indians and tried to come up with many ways to get the fans to the ballpark.  He even listened to their pleading when there was talk about possibly trading a player that was beloved to the fans.  Over the years he owned an worked with several other teams, trying to come up with ways to get fans in the seats as well as giveaways.  Some of his ideas were so outlandish he has even been called “The Barnum of Baseball” (though his son Mike does not like this nickname for his father.)

Bill was a fascinating man and I think that is very well documented in this biography.  Dickson did a great job capturing Bill’s life and although the book is 300+ pages, it definitely kept my interest the whole time.  Before reading this book I was not aware of who Bill was, but now I know all there is to know about him and can still see the mark he left on baseball evident even today, 20something years after his death.

I received a free e-copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley in order to write this review.

About the Book

The first major biography of one of the greatest figures in baseball history.

William Louis “Bill” Veeck, Jr. (1914-1986) is legendary in many ways-baseball impresario and innovator, independent spirit, champion of civil rights in a time of great change. Paul Dickson has written the first full biography of this towering figure, in the process rewriting many aspects of his life and bringing alive the history of America’s pastime. In his late 20s, Veeck bought into his first team, the American Association Milwaukee Brewers. After serving and losing a leg in WWII, he bought the Cleveland Indians in 1946, and a year later broke the color barrier in the American League by signing Larry Doby, a few months after Jackie Robinson-showing the deep commitment he held to integration and equal rights. Cleveland won the World Series in 1948, but Veeck sold the team for financial reasons the next year. He bought a majority of the St. Louis Browns in 1951, sold it three years later, then returned in 1959 to buy the other Chicago team, the White Sox, winning the American League pennant his first year. Ill health led him to sell two years later, only to gain ownership again, 1975-1981. Veeck’s promotional spirit-the likes of clown prince Max Patkin and midget Eddie Gaedel are inextricably connected with him-and passion endeared him to fans, while his feel for the game led him to propose innovations way ahead of their time, and his deep sense of morality not only integrated the sport but helped usher in the free agency that broke the stranglehold owners had on players. (Veeck was the only owner to testify in support of Curt Flood during his landmark free agency case). Bill Veeck: Baseball’s Greatest Maverick is a deeply insightful, powerful biography of a fascinating figure. It will take its place beside the recent bestselling biographies of Satchel Paige and Mickey Mantle, and will be the baseball book of the season in Spring 2012.

Paul Dickson is the author of several classic baseball books, including The Dickson Baseball Dictionary, The Unwritten Rules of Baseball, The Hidden Language of Baseball, and The Joy of Keeping Score. He is also the author of the classic narrative history Sputnik: The Shock of the Century, and the co-author of the acclaimed The Bonus Army: An American Epic. He lives in Garrett Park, Maryland.

Lifting the Wheel of Karma – FREE

Earlier this year, I reviewed the book Lifting the Wheel of Karma .  This weekend (May 25th thru May 27th) the book is available for FREE to Kindle readers. If you’d like to check it out – this is the final free promotion so you’ll want to act fast.  You can check it out on Amazon at the following link:


Also, the author, Paul Magid has a brand new website which you can check out at


One Direction at Mohegan Sun

After many failed attempts at trying to get tickets to see One Direction on any of their tours, they added a Connecticut show and I somehow managed to get a ticket for it.  It was not the best seat in the world, but it was in the upper level in the section closest to the stage – so I suppose it could have been worse.  And it turned out that it ended up being their first headlining show in the USA as well.

When we arrived, I had to laugh at the parents who were trying to bring their kids through the casino.  You can not walk through it unless you are 21+ and there are signs all over the parking garage with details on what entrance to use if you have people under 21 with you.  This was just the beginning of dumb parents (more on that later)

There was a mob for the doors so I decided to go and gamble for a bit before heading inside.  I ended up losing $5 on a Lobster Mania machine and then I found the handicapped accessible line (this is awesome, because I never would have survived standing in that mob of girls who were all way too excited to get inside and therefore could not stand still or control themselves) waited a few minutes for the woman checking bags to fight with a mother over a poster that would not be allowed in and then take toothbrushes from some young girls.  My section was directly across from the doors to get in, which was nice because the floors in the arena have a design on them and I trip over the design EVERY. TIME.

I was concerned I might be the last row in the whole arena, but fortunately there were 3 rows behind me. (For future reference I think the section ends with row M.)  The tickets said possibly obstruction and there really wasn’t one, except that the screen behind the guys on stage couldn’t really be seen at the angle we were at. This could have easily been remedied if the videos in between sets were shown on the screens on the side as well, but for whatever reason they decided not to pipe the video in on them.

The first opening act was a 12 year old named Camryn.  She didn’t really seem to get the crowd pumped up at all, although she tried to get everyone to jump and fist pump along with her.  I had my earplugs in and had a hard time hearing her singing over her backing track. You can find out more about her at her website:

The second opening act was an 18 year old named Manika.  Her singing was at least louder than the music, but I wasn’t in to her at all.  You can check out her at her website:

When the lights came back on after Manika’s set there was an “awwww” from my section because they thought that One Direction would be on next.  I guess I have to try and remember back to my first concert – before a lot of the girls who were at this show was born – to see if I felt the same way. (I don’t really remember)   The music in between Manika and One Direction’s set had the crowd more pumped than both openers combined. Everyone was jumping around and dancing to songs from Grease, Kriss Kross and “I like to move it move it”.

At the Mohegan Sun Arena, they have a band of screens that go around the arena that show ads for upcoming shows and alcohol. (I never realized the amount of ads for alcohol that they showed until last night. There were at least 3!) Some of these ads are bright and some are dark.  Every time a dark ad came up everyone would scream thinking that the lights were going out for One Direction to take the stage. (I can’t fault the girls too much – this tends to confuse me at times too!)

Before the show started, I was able to see the guys walk up the back of the stage and get ready for the show to begin.  They had the same stage clothes as their set during their tour with Big Time Rush.   Each of the guys had their chance to talk to the crowd during the set, though pretty much everything they said I could not hear because the screams were insane!  At one point they took questions from twitter – which resulted in them doing American Accents and singing the theme song to the Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

From what I could tell from the videos – it seemed like each set was supposed to represent one of the seasons. For the final set it was winter and Liam was wearing a scarf!  There was even snow falling in the arena and the guys were throwing snow balls at the crowd and each other.

I certainly missed the choreographed dancing of the boybands of “my day”, but the guys had high energy and were running, jumping and spinning all around the stage and seemed to genuinely be having a great time.  I took an insane amount of photos, so choosing what to post here was difficult.  I am hoping to get the Concert Katie gallery updated soon and whenever that happens I’ll post a link so you can check out more of my photos from this concert and others as well.

After the show, leaving the arena was very difficult. Parents were waiting for their kids to come out and some of them gave NO ROOM for people to exit. It was ridiculous going through this wall of parents. (My parents went with me too, mainly to gamble and so I wouldn’t have to ride there alone – but we made a deal to meet at a restaurant so they could order me some food before the place got mobbed. It was a genius idea, even though I thought I was never going to make it to where they were because I had to navigate through the sea of parents!)

Na na na
Stand up
I wish
I gotta feeling
Stereo hearts
Gotta be you
More than this
Up all night
Tell me a lie
Everything about you
Dj zayn
Use somebody
One thing
Save you tonight
What makes you beautiful

I want

Idol – Finale!

Finale time – finally. Phillip vs Jessica. Will it be another WGWG (white guy with a guitar?) or will we have a female winner for the first time in 5 years?  My money is on Phillip – but let’s see how it goes!   I’ve honestly been “over” both of these contestants for several weeks now and I don’t know that I’ve ever been so unenthusiastic for a finale… Skylar/Joshua was my pick for the finale and I think they’d have made things a bit more exciting.

Jessica – I Have Nothing  – I feel like a broken record, but she just doesn’t make me FEEL anything with her singing! She can sing but if you can’t get people to have an emotional response then what is the point?

Phillip – Stand By Me – This performance didn’t move me either. Maybe it’s because it is 12:30am and I just got back from a concert but I’m BORED.

Jessica – The Prayer – See above comment.

Phillip – Movin’ Out – Phillip wins round 2. (I didnt really think there was a winner for Round 1.)

Jessica – Not all that impressed with the song.

Phillip – Really liked this song, not sure I totally was digging on the performance though. But Id give Round 3 to Phillip…

Well, I’m sticking with Phillip winning, I think.  Honestly if Jessica wins it just means they will never get rid of the freaking judges save and I. HATE. THAT.

Finale thoughts:

-Why are they singing Runaway Baby, a song Josh did already solo?
-Joshua should leave the dancing and tricks to the pros lol
-My mom thought it was “cool” for Phillip’s duet to be with John from CCR.
-Glad Joshua got to sing w/ Fantasia – but WHAT was she wearing!?
-The Jessica/Jennifer thing with Jimmy just proves what a dumbdumb he is.
-Do they have a stylist on this show? Chaka’s outfit was awful too
-Jessica and Phillip invited someone to the finale top 3 week – did Joshua too? Did that person still get to come?
-If Rihanna isn’t singing w/ a contestant, she shouldn’t take up time on the finale.
-Skylar and Reba was great!
-Steven Tyler is nuts
-Beautiful performance from Jessica – but is she going to get to perform with someone?
-Colton and Heejun starting a song. EW.
-This guy performance made me realize how much stronger the girls were this season
-The phone book gag was pretty funny
-Thought I liked JLo… until she came out to perform in a Yankees hat. EW. (But at least its not a cat suit?)
-Ace and Diana are ENGAGED!? whaaaaat.
-I think this Bee Gees medley is going to make my ears bleed.
-WOW Jennifer Holiday got into that performance

And Phillip won!

And I loved how he was crying and couldn’t sing – but kept playing the guitar.

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