Steve’s Media Blog

Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Image from The Capri Lounge

Recently, I read the book The Late Shift by Bill Carter.  This is the book that chronicles the shift from Johnny Carson to Jay Leno (over David Letterman).  This is the book that was also turned into a poorly-casted made-for-TV movie (that I really want to watch now).

I wanted to make a point to start watching the late night talk shows again – even if it meant recording them the night before and watching the next day.  I gained a renewed interest in them, and probably a new-found appreciation for them that I never had when I was a kid watching them with my older brother when all that drama was going on.  Man do I wish I either A) watched the shows the book talked about or B) had them on tape.

I never got around to following the late night shows, which is a shame, because we will soon be seeing another shift – Conan O’Brien is set to take over the Tonight Show, while reliable ol’ Jay Leno gets his own weeknight 10pm show.  All this news kind of baffles me, to be honest.

First of all, after reading the book, I’m surprised that it was announced so early on that Conan was replacing Leno.  There were so many backroom deals in place back when Carson retired, that it just doesn’t seem to make sense.  There are mentions that they came up with some kind of deal to keep Leno off ABC, but I can’t find any solid info to back that up. 

Second of all, this is pretty much what NBC offerred Letterman in a half-assed attempt to get him to stay.   For Letterman it was the Tonight Show or bust, so he went to CBS.  The thought was that the 10pm hour just really outright sucks because of deals with affiliates and so forth.  For NBC it makes sense – they save a boatload of money not having to air an hour-long drama.  For Leno, I guess he doesn’t care about competing against Letterman/O’Brien.

Third, how the hell can the Conan camp be happy about this?  The idea of moving to 11:35 for the Tonight Show is that they’re the big fish, they’re done following up on Leno.  But now that’s not the case at all – they’ve still got to follow Leno.  Granted, Leno’s new show is most likely going to be a Tonight Show Lite and will be terrible, but as far as the ego goes, this has got to be a big hit.

I honestly hope that Bill Carter does a follow-up to the Late Shift and talks about the backroom stuff for this latest shift, because I really want to know now.  I am missing out on a lot of information, and I have the feeling it won’t be easily found in media archives.

I had to get this one off my chest – I was only thinking about it because I’m in a writing mood, and I am thinking about finances.  Moving along, the reason I borrowed this book from the library (good thing I only borrowed it) is because I have been on a kick about reading personal finance books in an effort to improve my money situation.  This one came along because it was flashy and sounded like it had promise – or at least not a dry read.

A Million Bucks by 30: How to Overcome a Crap Job, Stingy Parents, and a Useless Degree to Become a Millionare Before (or after) Turning Thrity by Alan Corey is the book.  See?  I told you it was flashy.  I probably should have realized from the title that it was going to be a lot of sensationalism there and there wouldn’t be much substance to the book.  Good news for Mr. Corey: his title worked and I picked up the book.  Unfortunately for him, I didn’t buy it.  1-0 for me, I believe (though when you realize I linked to both his book and his website, I guess that makes it 1-1).

The write-up at the back of the book should have also given away what kind of read it was going to be.  See here:

At twenty-two, Alan Corey left his mom’s basement in Atlanta and moved to New York City with one goal in mind: to become a millionaire by the time he was thirty. His parents and friends laughed, but six years later they were all celebrating his prosperous accomplishment–at a bar Corey owned in one of Brooklyn’s hippest neighborhoods.

No, Corey didn’t climb the corporate ladder to build his fortune. In fact, he worked the same entry-level 9-to-5 job for six years straight. But by pinching his pennies and making sound investments, he watched a pittance blossom into a seven-digit bank account. In A Million Bucks by 30, Corey recounts his rags-to-riches journey and shares his secrets to success.

I won’t deny that his is an interesting and quasi-well told story, but I maintain that beyond the story telling there is no substance to this book.  Beyond having a stated goal in mind (become a millionare by 30) and proving that determination trumps all, Corey has nothing to offer in this book beyond faint hope.

His tips in the book are generic ones – and he himself admits that living on ramen noodles for three months isn’t the best solution for everyone.  Seriously, that’s how he saved money: he lived on ramen noodles for all his meals.  I will admit that some of the tips are OK – but only OK.  He bought a playstation so that he could avoid going out once or twice a week.  Big investment up front for saving money (though honestly, I would probably go for something used and older because otherwise the money he saved from going out every week would probably equal what he spent on the playstation).

In general I feel that the book is more of an autobiography than a helpful finance book.  Particularly because most of the reasons for his success rely on pure luck: a big real estate agent liked the property that he and his partners renovated.  He got himself on TV a bunch of times (the subsequent appearances weren’t luck so much as a result of the first few times).  He lucked into finding a bar with a sour owner looking to sell.  He lucked into a book deal.

I find that he also glossed over several things – he didn’t take the time to explain all of his methods.  I grant that would make the book a little drier to read, but I think it is a bit silly for him to suggest that other people can make millions if he can – except that he doesn’t want you to know exactly how he did it.

Like I said, I won’t doubt that his determination definitely help drive his finances into the million mark; but his lifestyle is not for everyone and his methods aren’t for everyone.  How comfortable are you about flipping real estate?  I know I’m not.  He has good ideas for things that worked for HIM, but maybe not for everyone else.

Listen, I would avoid this as a helpful guide to your finances.  If you enjoy reading success stories, it’s not bad though.

image from TheBlackTechReport

image from TheBlackTechReport

I had two websites to link to today that really didn’t fit together: a password generator and a web-based writing utility.

First up is a very useful website utility, “Perfect Passwords”.  It’s maintained by the Gibson Research Corporation (which I have never heard of, to be honest), and generates exactly that: a perfect password.  Everything is completely randomized and is, according to the website, very secure.  You can read about how the passwords are secure and notes about the application.  Check out Perfect Passwords if you need a new password (recommended for protecting your wi-fi connection).

Then there is a really great application that will be very handy for anybody who is taking part in that famous November novel writing month.  I found this through Lifehacker; it’s called Write or Die.  It’s a neat little application, designed to help you write something for which you may be on a deadline (like a novel-writing competition that ends November 30).  I haven’t tried it out yet – but apparently if you put it in Kamikaze Mode, if you stop writing for a little bit the application starts deleting your text.  I guess that would motivate you to keep writing!  You can check out Write or Die here.

Hope you all enjoyed the free song on Friday – I’ve decided I’m going to see what I can dig up this Friday.

Image from book/daddy

Image from book/daddy

I received a nice comment from yesterday’s post from JRoller; I checked out his website (a book review blog) and found some nice listings there so it inspired me to do a post about books.  I talk about all the other media out there so I thought I’d give one of my old favourites a go.

Just a quick note though about JRoller’s Online Book Reviews though.  I took a closer look at the site and I like the concept.  Write a review, submit it, and it gets posted online.  If you have a website or a blog, you might get some extra traffic from it.  I think I might just write one myself!

Well first up is a book I found on JRoller’s blog: The Facebook Book.  I like it because it’s a book about a new media (social networking – not brand new I know, but I’m talking in the last 5 years new), and I always find it fun when there’s a new book about something that’s supposed to replace books.  I don’t mean social networking is supposed to replace books, but the Internet was supposed to.  I think publishing is still a very lucrative industry (I can’t find exact numbers but a 2006 Statistics Canada report pegs it at $235 million for Canada alone).

A book I finished reading not too long ago was The Game: Penetrating The Secret Society of Pickup Artists, by Neil Strauss.  I know, I know – what am I reading this for?  I’ve got a girlfriend I don’t need to pick up girls.  I actually picked this up because I enjoy a TV show called “Keys to the VIP” on the Comedy Network; it’s based on this book, and it is funny to watch.  What I enjoy about this book though is that it looks like a guide at first (it’s designed to look like the bible), but it is actually a compelling story about Strauss’ adventures learning this “trade”.

Other books pointed in my direction that I want to check out are A Random Walk Down Wall Street by Burton G. Malkiel, and The Wealthy Barber by David Chilton.  Both are recommended if you’re looking into investing for the first time – I look forward to finding them at the library.

At the moment I’m trying to finish reading Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  I’ve also got all the Harry Potter books to finish (I’m in the middle of Goblet of Fire – though I don’t know where my copy of it is).  I also got a free copy of Ted Rogers’ autobiography (you may have heard he was admitted to hospital; reports say he is doing better now), so I have that on my list as well.  I also want to check out the unauthorized biography, just as a second opinion.  That one is called Hire Wire Act: Ted Rogers and the Empire that Debt Built by Caroline Van Hasselt.

Some notes of interest, non-book related:

Teenager Changes His Name to Captain Fantastic Faster Than Superman Spiderman Batman Wolverine Hulk And The Flash Combined

Robert Johnson’s soul was up on ebay and sold for $60

This is just a quick post because I’m experiencing a slow day.  However, until midnight tonight, here is a source for free music.

In other news, popular author Michael Chrichton died of cancer at age 66.

I meant to write this up Friday or Saturday, while the movie was still very much fresh in my mind.  However, it doesn’t matter, since it was good enough for me to still remember it (and subsequently re-enjoy it if you will) a few days later.  It’s a perfect movie to review on this blog since it deals with music.

I will admit, I really didn’t recognize 90% of the music in Nick and Norah (spoiler warning in link!  It goes to Wikipedia).  In fact, while the movie was about a group of kids trying to find a Where’s Fluffy? concert in New York, and that Michael Cera’s character was in a band, and he was really good at making playlists, music wasn’t really the true heart of the story.

It provides a vehicle to move it forward, but it’s really a great story about a couple of kids who realize they like each other, and not their respective previous lovers.  Which, when you think about it, makes sense.  The movie is based on a book of the same name written by David Levithan (co-written by Rachel Cahn).  It should follow that character is the heart of the movie.

I found it very enjoyable and would watch it again, no question.  Don’t be fooled by the trailers (which make the movie seem like it is a standard teen comedy a la Superbad) – it is good quality stuff.  One thing though – I definitely get the vibe that the movie is trying to pick off the success of Juno – the title font is a dead giveaway of that.