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Book Review: Are You Sleeping by Kathleen Barber

Are you sleepingAfter reading several non-fiction books, I was more than ready for a good work of fiction. My selection from Simon and Schuster, Are you sleeping by Kathleen Barber had arrived a couple weeks earlier and was sitting atop of my must-reads

Are you sleeping is the story of Jo Borden, who has successfully kept a secret from her circle of friends including her boyfriend. Successfully that is until an Internet blogger starts to investigate her past, more specifically the death of her father who was shot years before by the son of the neighbour. Claims are made that the young man convicted 12 years previously was incorrectly jailed for a crime he did not commit. It is an explosive accusation that attracts attention through social media and chat rooms until the mainstream media picks up on story.

While the mystery of the murder of Jo’s father is creating waves, Jo makes waves herself with the unravelling of her made up life story for the past 10 years. The unravelling includes a name change, a family that had not been talked about and the death of a mother, a death that is complicated by a lie of a death that took place a decade earlier.

Jo, really Josie Buhrman, is confronted with her reality, a reality that contradicts her new comfortable life in New York. Back into her life is a twin sister, Lanie, a former boyfriend and her now dead, for real, mother Erin Buhrman. Add the family history of neighbours, students and the intrusion of Poppy Parnell and podcasts that bring the murder of Chuck Buhrman and the drama surrounding the Buhrman family in that tragic time more than a decade ago is back in the local spotlight.

Are you sleeping, Barber’s debut suspense novel, published August 2017, has combined different mediums in the story to tell the tale of the Buhrman’s, the murder of Josie and Lanie’s father and the sudden death of their mother Erin Buhrman. Barber’s use of social media, and a transcripted podcast in the novel allows the reader to learn the background of the Buhrman family without the family drama getting in the way – until that drama is needed to bring a resolution about a mothers disappearance and a father’s death.

Are you sleeping grabbed me from the start, and held onto me until the near end when truths are discovered and by that point there was no turning back. In the end, Barber smartly allows Poppy Parnell to provide the epilogue to Are you sleeping.

Are you sleeping is a smartly written suspense with well-composed twists in the plot. For suspense lovers this is a must read! For others I offer a strong recommendation to pick up this novel from Kathleen Barber, not only for you but your book loving family and friends.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I post about the little things in life I see and do. I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net

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The Colour Of A Song

Though #RedHeartBlueSign is mostly a blog with original content, from time to time I repost interesting content from other writers. Today’s repost is one of those blogs I wish to share with you.

Great blog on the colour of music. It is one of the first where the colour aura of a song in discussed. I am not familiar with every song mentioned but I understand where the writer is going with it.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

YOU SHOULD HEAR

You probably questioned that title the second you read it. Honestly when it came into my head a few weeks ago in the middle of a university studio class, so did I. My studio teacher was droning on about how as an audio engineer, he is faced with a stream of interesting musicians, who convey the way they want their songs to sound, in interesting ways.

“I had this one guy right, he told me he wanted his song to sound green. What does a green song sound like?”

And while the rest of the class chuckled along, a ‘green’ song popped into my head straight away. So I jotted it down in my iPhone Notes, and now I’m here trying to formulate that thought into an entire post about the colour of a song.

Colour and music have been combined before, especially through art. One specific case I found…

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…on Mother’s Day

 

For a person that spent a great of his life in communications talking to others, I suck at communicating to members of my own family. Don’t read anything into this – there was no huge family squabble, no family fight at Thanksgiving or disgruntled Christmas dinner. When we get together everything is fine in fact the year I spent in Toronto meant that I was able to see my Mom and Dad. My brothers and sister talk to my parents more often than I do. I could use the distance between Ottawa and Toronto, but won’t.

It’s just me.

IMG_20170513_0105125You see though I have no reason, a lot of what I do and who I am is because of my mother. I learned to cook because my mom went to work when I was sixteen years old. It was nothing fancy, but it was the basics of cooking potatoes, vegetables and meatballs. Sometimes the meat was switched, but it was always a good Dutch meat and potatoes delicacy. Besides the cooking I also have to thank my mother for my unmatchable skills at loading a dishwasher, no one can load as much in to a dishwasher as I can with every dish getting spotless. I also learned how to iron a shirt by watching my mother iron my father’s shirts for work. I can proudly say that I can iron a shirt in less than nine minutes. The thing that changed my life the most after learning to iron is buying non-iron shirts – those 9 minutes each morning are precious.

I also learned from my mother and my father, because as a team they are unstoppable, is that devotion to your spouse tops everything; they have 60+ years of experience together to show for it. As my father gets set to turn 90 this year, I know it is rare to have both parents alive an in their 9th decade of their lives. I can see why it works; it is the love for each other, having a purpose to get out everyday and their church family.

On Mothers Day, as a son I have to perform well. I even ‘expressposted’ a card to make sure it reached my mother (it did – I checked the tracking number) and of course yes I will call on Mothers Day. While I don’t call as much as I should, there is not a day I do not think of them, pray for their continued good health and am so thankful that they a happy life together. Calling? I just need to do it more often after Mothers Day.

Happy Mothers Day

 

*The ceramic pot is from my mother’s mother, my Oma, and now sits in my kitchen as it did in my mom’s kitchen.

Book Review: “The Jersey Brothers” – A Compelling Page Turner

Jersey Brothers

If I were to draw a Venn diagram describing “The Jersey Brothers” there would be four circles intersecting with a larger circle that would be the war in the Pacific. While the war is in the forefront of the Mott-Cross family, it is merely the backdrop for all that takes place as three brothers and a mother fight for country and survival.   Do not get fooled thinking that The Jersey Brothers is the navy version of “Saving Private Ryan”. The Jersey Brothers reads like a well-crafted novel, but is a fact-based account of brothers Benny, Bill and Barton along with their mother Helen and their struggles that was 70 years in the making.

Sally Mott Freeman, daughter of brother Bill, researched and wrote The Jersey Brothers over ten years. She wisely leaves out observations of family relationships until the end in her epilogue. Using the information from Navy records, letters, diaries, accounts from fellow Navy Prisoners of War and until 10 years ago an unopened box of documents, letters and photos belonging to her Uncle, Barton Cross, The Jersey Brothers is a very compelling read. The facts surrounding the battles in the Pacific and the behind the battlefront activity is a history buff’s dream. From Pearl Harbour to Hiroshima and the end of World War II in Japan, Mott Freeman tells a brave story that leaves you pulling for an ending that everyone has fought for, but this is a war story.

The loyalty of the three men is tested by not being not only being able to know where the others are, but also by a loyalty to their mother who is suffering under the cloud of Navy protocol, privacy and the Navy’s number one priority of winning the War in the Pacific. While there are the personal accounts of suffering, depression and injury, the war goes on and The Jersey Brothers provides an account of actions by leaders in the White House, the Army and the Navy. Readers are given the backroom deliberations and arguments at sea and on land, the destruction of American battleships and the loss of tens of thousands of American soldiers. Reading of the Pacific War was a new experience for me – my knowledge was very limited, I started reading The Jersey Brothers as the 100th Anniversary of Battle of Vimy Ridge of The Great War was being commemorated in Canada and France.

Through many pages, I found myself hoping for that happy ending, only to be emotionally dragged through setbacks and disappointments. While in real life these events may need us to sit back and rest before moving forward, Mott Freeman drives us forward onto the next pages. Whether it’s Helen and her correspondence to government officials, her comfort in her garden or how her sons endure the ups and downs of the war, The Jersey Brothers is about the bond of family and the efforts each take to keep the ties alive through distance and desperation.

The Jersey Brothers takes us back, as a reminder that if at all possible a war on that scale, or any scale should never be fought again.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Where are you now: The return of Michelle Branch

Hopeless Romantic

There are not many artists that I keep watching for, for the release of new music. From the 60’s I always have an interest in what Paul McCartney is putting out or if there is something new coming from the vaults of Abbey Road and EMI Studios with the Beatles, the face of the 70’s will always be Elton John and I’ll always have an eye and ear out for anything new he produces.

At the turn of the century there was a burst of new female singer-songwriters. Of the new breed hitting the charts, names like Vanessa Carleton, Avril Lavinge, Ashley Simpson all had opportunity to have long rewarding careers. In that mix is the new singers was Michelle Branch who release The Spirit Room spawned hits like “Everywhere”, “All You Wanted” and “Goodbye to You” The Spirit Room also had very strong inventory of album cuts. The Spirit Room was followed two years later in 2003 with Paper Hotel with hits like “Breathe” and “Are You Happy Now”. Like The Spirit Room, Hotel Paper was also stacked with great album tracks like “Where are you now” and “Find Your Way Back”.

And then that was pretty well it.

There was a collaboration that became The Wreckers’ Stand Still and Look Pretty in 2005 and an EP Everything Comes and Goes (2010) that got my hopes up for something new. New music almost came with the single “Loud Music” that was released before a full set called West Coast Music was due to be released but was ultimately shelved. I recall listening the webcast of a Q & A with Michelle that preceded the audio premiere playing of “Loud Music”. If not for online music services, that song would be buried along with the other 10-12 tracks that might have been part of that album.

The escapade that she went through with her record label has been recalled many times leading up to the new tapes coming out.

My excitement has peaked since a new collection of songs; Hopeless Romantic is set to come out April 7th.  Three songs have been pre-released; “The Best You Ever”, “Fault Line” and the title track. There is no chance now that we’ll have what happened to West Coast Music will take place with Hopeless Romantic and I could not be happier. This weekend I shuffled the three new tracks with her previous music. Not only did they stand up to The Spirit Room and Hotel Paper, they stood miles apart.

I do not think any musician would recommend waiting 14 years to release a full set of new music. In the case of Michelle Branch, working on new music for those years, a divorce and raising a daughter has given a whole new world for her capture in song. I don’t want to wait another 14 years for more from her, I might look silly as a 70 year old standing in line at the record shop to purchase it.

All I know is that April 7th, will be a great day! I will be sure to post a review Hopeless Romantic for #RedHeartBlueSign once I pry myself away from listening to the disc on repeat.

I am Happy Now

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.

Chuck Berry RIP : Hail, Hail, Rock ‘n’ Roll!

The Rock ‘n Roll world lost its pioneer this weekend, Chuck Berry died at the age of 90. The Immortal Jukebox does a good look back of Rock ‘ n Roll’s original .

The Immortal Jukebox

Chuck Berry has died. May he rest in peace.

I will write an extensive tribute later.

He was a Founding Father of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

He was a Rock ‘n’ Roll Prophet and The Rock ‘n’ Roll Poet.

He was a writer with the immediate understanding of a top class journalist, the widescreen vision of an historian and the timing of a comedian on the stage.

He is one of the greatest chroniclers of American Life.

Hail, Hail, Hail Chuck Berry!

Here he is with a special favourite of mine, ‘School Days’

‘Up in the mornin’ and out to school
The teacher is teachin’ the Golden Rule
American history and practical math
You study’ em hard and hopin’ to pass
Workin’ your fingers right down to the bone
And the guy behind you won’t leave you alone

Ring ring goes the bell
The cook in the lunchroom’s ready to sell

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Canadians in a Digital World

Canadian Heritage recently released a report “Canadian Culture in a Digital World” (http://www.canadiancontentconsultations.ca/home) following consultations on how to strengthen the creation, discovery and export of Canadian content in the digital world. That report and a second report published by the Public Policy Forum’s “Shattered Mirror Report – News, Democracy and Trust in the Digital Age” hope to shape what Canadian digital content will look like and how it can be sustainable and come out from the shadows on Facebook, Google and other existing and emerging digital platforms.

Broken Link

Who is a Canadian digital creator? What Canadians are driving online content?

Most who venture onto YouTube will know of Casey Neistat, with over 6.6 million subscribers, he is the world’s most famous “YouTuber”. There are Canadian YouTubers producing interesting digital content to be watched and the annual YouTube festival “BufferFest” was created by a Canadian and is held in Toronto. Bufferfest brings hundreds of digital creators from across Canada and around the world to premiere creative digital content AND thousands of fans from around North America. Bufferfest is the #Oscars of the YouTube/Digital world.

BlogTO, a Toronto based blog listed the 10 most popular personalities in Toronto – http://www.blogto.com/arts/2014/10/the_top_10_youtube_personalities_from_toronto/. I am not huge fans of the crazy YouTube creators, but enjoy good creative content that I can’t find on regular platforms. One of my favourite Canadian digital content creators is Bradley Friesen who takes his viewers over the BC Mountains via his helicopter. His uploads of winter camping in a snow cave and ice hockey on a remote frozen lake has incredible views of Canadian mountain landscapes and he brings this every week to your handheld of desktop screen. He has seen success on the YouTube platform as his subscriber base has grown to over 200,000. For every one YouTube creator that has the success of a Bradley Friesen there are thousands of creators who have very few subscribers, and who revel in the ‘hundreds of views’ that their videos may attract. In Canada they create content with dreams of attaining a small portion of the subscriber success that only a few reach.

Both reports talk about money that is leaving Canada for platforms like YouTube, Facebook, Google and Netflix. Coming out of the flow of money leaving Canada has been the notion that one government or another would institute a “Netflix Tax”, a tax not limited to Netflix but aimed by the Canadian government to recapture a portion of the money in advertising and subscriber fees that leave Canada and land in the US in places like Facebook or Google.

The missing link in the conversation for those that advocate strongly for the Netflix or Internet Tax is that the Canada Media Fund, which provides creators with money for projects, is out millions of dollars through this money that does not pass through Canadian hands. I am not pushing for the Netflix tax, but the same creators the decry who decry the tax must have to wonder, ‘where will creators expect to be funded if there if the pot is empty?’

You Tube

We can discuss monetization, the method in which YouTube video creators are paid, but to make a substantial amount this way almost every video posted would have to be a viral success – a success that requires months and years of building a subscriber base. There are not many that can build a base through one endorsement from a Casey Neistat, not everyone can become a Sara Dietschy or diSCIpling Recovery who after an endorsement from Casey will see subscriptions skyrocket. Let me add that those endorsements do not come easily – you better be damned good and have interesting content to get the Neistat seal of approval.

The problem remains how does Canada fund new digital creators? How will Canada grab a portion of the money leaving Canada that could lead to a thriving digital community of creators? Is the answer a Canadian platform version of YouTube, think of a CanTube, a place for Canadian digital creators won’t get suffocated in the millions of creators from around the world and a place where Canadian media/Producers can discover new imaginative and challenging digital content creators for larger platforms?

The Canadian government will be presenting legislation or a direction this spring for a new digital creative centric system based out of the #DigiCanCon consultation report. Many will say it falls short, many will say it is too restrictive and there will many that object to any sort of funding model that resembles the CBC.

It seems like it might be a lose-lose outcome when it should be a win-win.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress. You can also see me on www.redheartbluelife.wordpress.com where I am celebrating #Canada150 with a daily post of an event celebrating our sesquicentennial in Canada.

I can be found Twitter @robertdekker, @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97. I can be reached at rdmedia@bell.net.