Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Thanksgiving Playlist (Sort of)

There are a number of Thanksgiving songs, but few that I enjoy that much or that are universally recognized.

Hankering for some distinct Thanksgiving rock/pop music, I made my own playlist of songs that express "thanks" or "thank you" in the title or lyrics. It's a start, but I would love to add to the list. So please suggest other songs in the comments.

"Kind and Generous" - Natalie Merchant
"Thank God for the Bomb" - Ozzy Osbourne
"Thank God I'm a Country Boy" - John Denver
"Thanks That Was Fun" - Barenaked Ladies
"Thank U" - Alanis Morissette
"Thank You" - Dido
"Thank You" - Led Zeppelin
"The Thanksgiving Song" - Adam Sandler 
"Thnks fr th Mmrs" - Fall Out Boy

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Loving Dead by Amelia Beamer (Book Review)

Zombies are nothing new, of course. From the seminal Night of the Living Dead and its many imitators to more recent reincarnations, in film, books, and video games, including Shaun of the Dead, the Resident Evil video game and movie series, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, and Zombieland, zombies resonate strongly with readers, gamers, and movie-goers today, as much as any other horror figure, even the vampire.

To this tradition, you can add Amelia Beamer's entertaining and hip The Loving Dead. The novel achieves that all too rare measured treatment of subject matter that too often ends up over the top. A modern retelling of the zombie apocalypse, The Loving Dead starts off as an ordinary, plausible story about young people in San Francisco and then shifts when one of the characters gets sick and turns into a zombie. As the infection spreads and more and more people become zombies, Beamer keeps the focus on a small group of characters, who head to Alcatraz in a desperate effort to get away from the zombies that are multiplying throughout Northern California.

I would recommend The Loving Dead for anyone interested in an original horror novel. In some ways, it reminded me of Peeps by Scott Westerfeld, although I'm not sure if that's a well thought-out comparison. If you're thinking that you don't read books about zombies, well, neither did I, until I read this. Give it a try.

One other note about how I discovered the author and the book as this was a true social media success story. I first heard of Amelia Beamer when I read a piece about the book on John Scalzi's blog. My interest picqued, I subscribed to Amelia Beamer's own blog and followed her on Twitter. For a time, she was posting whole sections of the novel on her website for sampling and still has the first four chapters online. After I read a bit, I knew I would enjoy the book, and I did.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Dear Random House

Dear Random House,

My daughter absolutely loves your Step into Reading toddler book Super Friends: Flying High.

Unfortunately, as of this writing, there are no other Level 1 Step into Reading superhero books in the series and few books overall featuring strong female heroines. I think it would be really great and empowering if you followed up the first book with a Level 1 Super Friends book featuring Wonder Woman. I know, there are Barbie and Disney Princess titles, but I believe Wonder Woman is galvanizing in ways those characters aren't. And Wonder Woman has a new look and costume that is well-suited for a new generation of girls.

I tried to send you feedback about this using your Feedback link but the form did not submit correctly.

Then I considered pitching the idea to you, but you made it quite clear on your FAQs that you only deal with agents.
"Like most big publishers, Random House only accepts manuscripts submitted by an agent--the volume of materials we receive is just too large to accept unsolicited submissions or ideas."
Running out of ideas, I decided to write this post in the hope that someone in your organization monitors posts that include the keywords "Random House". If you're reading this, please consider a Level 1 Step into Reading Wonder Woman book.

Note: I'd be happy to make a more detailed business case for this and author the text.

Thank you.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Hacking Work by Bill Jensen and Josh Klein (Book Review)

Have you ever had to work around a company rule or policy that prevented you from doing your job effectively? Ever used non-company software and tools to get things done? Or reached out to a co-worker to skirt a dumb work process? If so, than Hacking Work is your kind of book.

Hacking Work is all about the rising tide of benevolent hacking at work and the people who bypass corporate-centered systems in favor of efficient, user-centered approaches. The text is not anti-work or anti-business. On the contrary, it's about saving business from itself and reintroducing effeciency and human innovation back into the workplace. Because, ultimately, if your organization is not as effective and flexible as it can be, a competitor down the street or across the world will be.

Fortunately, the maturation of available software today, including loads of free, open-source options and the proliferation of social media, make it easier than ever to introduce hacks that create efficiencies and benefit the person doing the work as well as the organization. In this sense, hacking includes everything from the emergence of Gen Y as the major demographic in the workforce, to the return of a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) work sensibility, and "a growing openness about challenging the tools and procedures we're handed."

To give you a sense of what you'll find in the book, below are 10 Hacking Work starting commandments:
  1. Be cool
  2. Try non-hacking first
  3. Do no harm
  4. Never compromise other people's information
  5. Play well with others
  6. Pay it forward
  7. The law of attraction works
  8. Be true to yourself
  9. Talent is overrated
  10. Hacking can be a journey of self-discovery
Definitely, definitely read this book. And while you're at it, tell your boss and your boss's boss to read it too.

You can learn more about Hacking Work at