Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Monetize It

I've told you before that the launches of the newsletter, Web site(s) and podcast were labours of love. But after over a decade of working on it, it's time to help it pay back a little. I've been thinking it over for the last few years on finding ways to make what I enjoy so much fiscally solvent.

With the podcast, I started taking in ads a few months ago. At least they are for products that I like and use but we will see if it pays off at the end of the quarter. I'd rather be promoting albums or concert tours.

With the newsletter, you just can't charge people to read news in the information age. Not even worth considering as I've seen others try and disappear. Ad placement could be possible but I'd need to grow the subscriptions a bit more and... I'm just not a 'pat myself on the back' kind of guy.

With the Web site(s), I have a little leeway. But, I don't want to sell sexual enhancement products. (I actually got an email from a company asking me to try and review a certain type of ring. If you see something like that on here in the future, I'll be ready for the white coat with restricted arms.) But, the aim is to promote music and possibly the site(s), podcast or newsletter. This has led me to I've thought about them before... mainly for some funny t-shirt ideas that I had. Now, I'm considering the use of their site to create custom gear to help promote what we have, grow the brands and pay a bill or two.

Now I just need to come up with a few good slogans for the tees. Stuff like "Over a decade celebrating a decade..." on one side and "" on the back. Or "Musical neutered? Get longer lasting pleasure with..." on the front and "Talking 80s Music" on the back. Time to brainstorm and come up with a pic or two. Any good ideas?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Not As Part 'A Me

I specifically remember as a child, my mother breaking open packets of Sweet-N-Low in her iced tea. Of course, I was using sugar because it just tasted better. Then there was the day that I saw her switch to NutraSweet. A lot of advances have come in the realm of artificial sweeteners over the last 20 years. We now have Alitame and Sucralose on top of Saccharine, Acesulfame-K and Aspartame. Going on low-carb diets at different times in my life, the latter and Sucralose have been very helpful in cutting our sugar.

But last week, after a long time of looking at too many weird reports on Aspartame (from side-effects, FDA approval and chemical decomposition), I am seeing how long that I can avoid the stuff. Yes, that means reading more labels. The Diet Coke that I have every morning as my form of caffeine is now the Splenda version (or regular Coke at a drive-thru.) I see that most of my intake was coming from beverages. Do I believe all the stuff that I read online? Not really. I wanted to make a change and try something different and see the effect for myself. I do have to say that I'm not eating as much... which is kinda odd.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Racism & Sexism: 2008 Election

As nutty as that t-shirt is, it was the best visual to allow me to address an issue that's been in my head for the last week. You see, the day after the Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin was announced, I saw something that I never really thought I'd see expressed openly. A black co-worker pulled me aside and said: "They just shot themselves in the foot." I said, "What?" He replied, "Foreign countries would see us as weak with a female VP, let alone a possible female President. Heck, most nations right now won't even show up to meetings with Condoleezza Rice because she's a woman." After having him clarify the Rice statement, I asked him, "You really feel that way." He responded, "There is no way that I want an emotional woman at the button."

As you might expect, this floored me. Not just the line of logic but that he had no reservations in saying it. So I said, "That's funny that you mention it now. What would you have done if Hillary was named as the Democratic vice-presidential nominee." He then said, "Well, our family talked about this and we said we couldn't vote for Obama if Clinton was on the ticket."

My jaw dropped open and I'm still left in awe of the exchange but more so that I thought sexism was a dying stereotype. In 12 years we will be celebrating the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment and the 200th anniversary of the movement advocating women's suffrage. Nationwide, it wasn't until 1965's Voting Rights Act that blacks would see the end of most forms of disenfranchisement.

I had another co-worker ask me if I was voting for Obama. When I told him I was a Libertarian and leaning more towards Bob Barr, the response was "You just won't vote for him because he's black." It's a bit sad really when it is believed that the only reason people have to not vote someone into the highest offices in our government is because of color or genitalia. Do I believe that can happen. Well, from conversation #1, we know that someone will use the latter as an excuse not to vote one way.

With that in context, what shook me was how easy it was to be sexist despite having over half our population being women and their voting rights being affirmed nearly a century ago. I just didn't think that it was this prominent. Yes, you still hear cries of racism here and there. Never would I have thought that a presidential election would become a battleground or a momentary resurgence of gender and racial politics.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

The Bureau - ...and another thing

Formed in late 1980 by when the original line-up of Northern Soul act Dexy's Midnight Runners split-up, The Bureau would release their self-titled debut album in Canada and Australia in 1981. The band went their separate ways despite scoring a #6 hit in Australia with "Only For Sheep." The album was finally released in the U.K. in 2005 with several reunion gigs following. This led to a little recording by a reunited version of the band (sans drummer Stoker Growcott) that has led to the upcoming release of ...and another thing. (Due out in October 6th in the U.K. but is available for order at

The album leads with "Run Rabbit Run" brass-heavy soul/jazz fusion that sounds like they are really enjoying themselves. The opening reminds me too much of Cyndi Lauper's "She Bop" but it works as a hook for the gravely delivery of a dark narrative about a man and his pet. You can't dismiss the fun funk vibe that comes from "Save Me." There is a lot of James Brown to with track written by vocalist Archie Brown (no relation.) "Chance In A Million" is an emotional and pure piece. An interesting lyrical perspective that is hard to put your finger on with "A Fine Mess Rag" but an energetic rollercoaster ride. "Just A Word" is a great break from the Joe Cocker-esque vocal delivery early on the album although it harkens more toward Rod Stewart. It is a very beautiful use of horns and keyboards. You really start enjoying the instrumental layering and mix by the time "Falling" arrives. The album tracklisting (intentional or not) had "Divided In Two" and "Mad" switched. The former is a striking ballad and the latter is a frenzy of horns, organ, rhythm guitar in polka/country/blues. A strong jazz piano drives the meandering "Flying Lessons." "Nothing's Going To Stand In Our Way" may be the gem of the bunch with a strut that yields to lilting jazz and back in this duet between Pete and Archie. Also notable is the addition of bonus track of the haunting "Keaton's Walk" which was recorded before the group split up in 1982.

On ...and another thing, The Bureau have an amalgam of many different but alluring styles that they make their own. This is an enduring collection. The vocals on the early tracks take some getting used to but are acknowledged as character in the songs as much as Mick Talbot's keyboard delivery but both fuse together upon later impressions. This album is a joy to listen to and heralds the return of Northern Soul with a little more experience behind it.

3.5 out of 5