Prince's death has hit us all hard. When we lose a true icon, we lose a part of ourselves as well. As a tribute, we revisit an article first published in 2013, ahead of Prince's two sold out shows at the Vogue:
It is time to revisit a classic: Purple Rain. Considered by most publications and critics to be one of the top albums of all time, the best album of the 1980’s, and the best soundtrack of all time, Purple Rain is a seminal work of art, and it cemented Prince’s status as a true musical icon, and influenced a slew of artists to follow.
Released in the Summer of 1984 as a soundtrack to Prince’s semi-autobiographical film of the same name, Purple Rain was an instant hit. It contained nine songs, a diversity of musical styles, and his trademark flamboyance: Prince burst onto the scene as the love child of Jimi Hendrix, George Clinton and Liberace. Purple Rain was the perfect storm of superior songwriting, musicianship, and production. It changed the game.
Purple Rain took off due in large part to the success of the leadoff single, “When Doves Cry.” I was in junior high in 1984, and I can still remember the first time I heard the squealing guitar and warped-voice intro, and then the hypnotic piano lines which open the song. It remains an almost perfect pop song and contains everything that made Prince such a unique and influential artist: The sexually-charged and mystical lyrics; the effortless fusing of musical styles – funk, R & B, pop, rock, new wave – which came to be known as “the Minneapolis Sound”; the mix of tenderness and swagger; the hypnotic catchiness of it all.
“Let’s Go Crazy” was the next number one hit, and it is in almost direct contrast to “When Doves Cry”. Where the latter is languorous and hypnotic, the former is an all out funk-rock-dance jam, a seemingly simple party anthem, with a complex musical arrangement. You couldn’t help but bob your head, sing along and think about going crazy.
Like a lot of artists, Prince wore his influences on his sleeve, but what made him great, what made him original, was how he was able to channel his influences while staying to true to his own musical aesthetic: he borrowed, not stole. This was never more apparent than in the nine songs that make up Purple Rain. In the haunting and beautiful title track, he channels his inner Jimi Hendrix, showing off his often underrated guitar chops. In the emotional and poignant “The Beautiful Ones,” he channels his inner Marvin Gaye. On “Computer Blue” and “Baby, I’m A Star,” he channels his inner George Clinton. The sexually-charged “Darling Nikki,” which earned the album a Parental Advisory sticker, is a wonderful combination of all three. In the end, you have an album that you can party to, chill to, groove to…do pretty much anything to.
Although Prince would go on to great success, and the release of some classic singles, Purple Rain was his apex. It was original and fresh, slightly ahead of its time. And its influence remains to this day. Artists as diverse as Dr. Dre, Justin Timberlake, Phoenix, and Toro Y Moi all site Prince, and Purple Rain in particular, as a major musical influence.
Having been immersed in punk rock and heavy metal at the time of Purple Rain’s release, it was a true awakening for a white kid from the ‘burbs. I became borderline obsessed with both the movie and the album, and like some sort of reverse osmosis, it was through Purple Rain that I discovered and grew to appreciate the 70’s funk that I still hold dear to this day. It taught me that music could be eclectic, diverse and funky, and still be cool. It taught me that music could be fun and emotional at the same time. It truly opened my mind.
For some, driving is simply a way to get from points A to B; for others it’s a job and way of life. Some have grease permanently embedded under their fingernails; and many claim octane in their veins. Karl Benz’s 1886 Patent-Motorwagen led not only to automobiles as we know them; but would also turn wagon trails to expressways, and make getting there half the fun of going there.
The shortest distance between two points is always a straight line. However, unless you’re drag racing, it isn’t necessarily the most exciting way to get where you’re going. Those seeking the ultimate driving experience talk of the Schwarzwaldhochstraße in the Black Forest or the Autobahn, and seek out picturesque back roads, winding mountain passes and canyons to carve. If you’re last name is Hamilton, Vettel, or Alonso; you can tear up a track like Circuit de la Sarthe, Circuit de Monaco or Laguna Seca. Wish you could be like them? Then try track days at the Nürburgring’s Nordschleife, Silverstone Circuit and Autodromo Nazionale Monza; or race flat out on the salt at Bonneville.
Competitive racing events such as the Pikes Peak Hill Climb and World Championship Rallying look fun, but are among the most difficult of disciplines. The Targa Newfoundland mixes sport and scenery, but the Cabot Trail and Viking Trail also bring plenty of Maritime scenery to enjoy. Can the Icefields Parkway or Crowsnest, Okanagan, Sea-To-Sky and Pacific Rim Highways of the Canadian Rockies compare with Col de la Bonnette, Grossglockner, Klausen Pass, Hahntennjoch or Furka Pass of the Alps?
Clarkson, Hammond & May drove Ruta 40 and rave about Trollstigen, Stelvio & Transfăgărășan or the Amalfi Coast, Col de Turini and Route Napoleon; but it’s N-222 from Peso da Régua to Pinhão in Portugal’s wine region that took the top honor for 2015 – depending on who you ask. Dadès Gorges, Sani Pass and The Atlantic Road amp up the exotic factor and can take your breath away in more ways than one. Drifting was born on the Touge Roads of Mount Fuji, the Guoliang Tunnel Road and Karakoram Highway traverse China; while the Karamea Highway and Arthur’s Pass navigate New Zealand. Can you think of a more succinct name than Australia’s Great Ocean Road?
Speed might not be the point of Quebec Route 132 – Le Tour de Gaspésie, the Road to Hana, Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway or even the Natchez Trace Highway, but you can’t ask for prettier places to putt along… except maybe U.S. Route 101 & California State Route 1, aka the Pacific Coast Highway. Tail of the Dragon, Twisted Sisters, Going-to-the-Sun-Road and White Rim Road win best name awards, while U.S. 212, UT 163 and UT 80 tie for the "overwhelming roads with underwhelming names" title hands down.
Have all the time in the world? Then check out the Pan American Highway – the world's longest, connecting more than 20 countries; it stretches from Buenos Aries to Edmonton! Australia’s Highway 1 is the longest national highway, followed by the Trans-Siberian and of course our very own Trans-Canada Highway, which runs from Victoria to St John’s.
Wherever you decide to go, I just have one question: can I hitch a ride?
– CDJ –
Written by: Tobin Wait
“When a true genius appears in the world,
You may know him by this sign, that the dunces
Are all in confederacy against him.”
Good books are ones that make you feel something, but also make you think; they provide the reader with a visceral and intellectual experience. Through character and plot, they make you think about people, about the world, in a different way. They change you. They become classics.
And then there is the rare book, the destined-to-be-a-classic that just makes you laugh your ass off. A Confederacy of Dunces is indeed a rarity: a work of literature that can accurately be described as a comic masterpiece, joining a very short list of novels, including Cervantes’ Don Quixote and Voltaire’s Candide.
The ironic and tragic story of the book’s history is now a literary legend. John Kennedy Toole was an intelligent and witty native of New Orleans. He was a scholar, a writer and a teacher, who also lived his whole life with his parents (except for a brief stint in the army). He finished the novel in 1964, and sent it to two major publishers, both of whom rejected it. Toole became depressed and dejected, and after a final rejection, committed suicide in 1969 at age 31.
The manuscript lay on top of his desk in his parent’s home. His mother found it two years later, and tried to get it published, believing it would validate her son’s life. It was rejected seven times, before she literally forced the author Walker Percy to read the manuscript in 1976, while he was teaching at Tulane University in New Orleans. He was blown away, and it was finally published in 1980, sixteen years after its completion. It quickly became a cult hit, then a mainstream smash, and then a literary success. In 1981, twelve years after his death, Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction.
At the heart of A Confederacy of Dunces is one of the greatest comic characters of any era of fiction: Ignatius J. Reilly. Quixotic (a modern day Don Quixote, really), idealistic, eccentric, slovenly and delusional, Ignatius is both repulsive and fascinating. Like many great tragic-comic characters, Nabokov’s Pnin and Shakespeare’s Falstaff come to mind, Ignatius believes himself to be morally and intellectually above the rest of the world, and, therefore, able to criticize and object to all that is below him. This despite that fact that he is an obese, unemployed thirty year old man, still living at home with his mom, with very few skills besides eating, masturbation and cynicism.
The novel, then, is one series of misadventures after another, as Ignatius is forced by his mother to find a job and enter into the society that he is so quick to criticize. He eventually lands two menial jobs and both end in disaster. Needless to say, very little goes well for Ignatius, and a smorgasbord of comedy ensues: light and dark, highbrow and lowbrow. The title of the novel refers to the above lines from Jonathon Swift, and one of the novel’s great puzzles is trying to figure out if Ignatius is a genius or a dunce.
If Ignatius is the heart of the novel, then its star is the city of New Orleans, a perfect setting for this picaresque story. The sights, the sounds, the tastes, the smells, the architecture, the characters, the dialects: they are all captured vividly by Toole, a lifelong New Orleans resident. In fact, the novel is considered to be the most accurate portrayal of New Orleans ever written, and there is even a statue of Ignatius Reilly near the Chateau Bourbon Hotel in New Orleans today.
The beauty of A Confederacy of Dunces is that we don’t just laugh at Ignatius; we laugh with him as well. It’s easy to laugh at the misadventures of others, especially the delusional, but we also relate to Ignatius, and his over-bloated rants against the moronic nature of the world and the people who live in it. We may not want to be like Ignatius, but we can admire his unwavering buffoonery and eccentric worldview. In a way, Ignatius personifies the aversion we all have with stupidity and conformity.
The bottom line, however, is that the (mis)adventures of Ignatius J. Reilly, and the oddball characters that surround him, will leave you shaking your head, rolling your eyes and, best of all, laughing till it hurts.
Written by: Tobin Wait.
We proud Vancouverites have an almost unconscious tendency to take many things for granted about our beautiful city: the climate, the mountains, the ocean, Stanley Park, the ubiquity of coffee shops and yoga spaces. I mean, these things are the reason our city is so damn fine (and so damn expensive!) – we should appreciate them, right? But we are a jaded bunch. A new sprinkling of snow on the North Shore Mountains? Ho Hum. Driving over the Lion’s Gate Bridge as the sun sets to the west? Yawn. Going to the beach in mid-October? Been there; done that. It’s a natural reaction: we are so used to the awesomeness that it all becomes a little less awesome.
Case in point: Granville Island. We all know it’s there. We all talk about it. We’ve all been. But over time, it gets ignored and dismissed: too many annoying tourists, too little parking, too boring after a few visits. While this may in some ways be true, take an objective step back, and you can start to appreciate what an urban marvel Granville Island truly is.
On a mere 37 acres of what was once an industrial wasteland, in one of the world’s best cities, sits this quirky, diverse, paradoxical mini-town. It is like a city within a city. Hotel? Community Centre? Marina? Shopping? Prestigious Art College? Theatre? Cement Factory? Buskers? Enormous Public Market? Distillery? Brewery? Check. And that’s just for the adults.
For the kids, Granville Island can be a veritable wonderland. I mean the kids even have their own market! And water park. And playground. And a duck pond. And Arts Umbrella, an award-winning arts school just for the young ‘uns.
Sometimes, however, the true appeal of Granville Island can be found in the treasures that are just slightly off the beaten path.
Let me ask you this: have you ever visited the bookstore or the library at Emily Carr? I had dropped my daughter off at her Arts Umbrella art class, and I had an hour to “waste.” I wandered over to Emily Carr’s library, where I planned to find a comfy chair and read my book. Instead, I spent the entire hour browsing the book and magazine selection. It blew my mind. I could have spent a whole day there. Magazines and periodicals covering every aspect of art your could imagine. Cool books with cool pictures. And, yes, really comfy chairs. Now I look forward to taking my daughter to her art class. And for my money, their first year student exhibit is the best free event the city has the offer.
Do you like to imbibe? The new kid on the Granville Island block is Liberty Distillery, offering Vancouver’s first handcrafted traditional spirits, using 100% BC grain. Sample the Truth Vodka, made from wheat grown in B.C.’s Peace River region. It’s a clear and clean vodka, with hints of vanilla that I can personally attest to. Or try the Railspur #1 White Whiskey, made from organic B.C.-grown barley. Extremely smooth. The space is cool, the staff are knowledgeable, and there are tours and tastings for those wanting a full experience.
Maybe sake is more your thing? Head up to Railspur Alley and check out Artisan SakeMaker, “Canada’s first locally-produced fresh, premium Sake.” Similar to Liberty, Artisan SakeMaker produces fresh, handcrafted, small batch sake. There is the popular Osake Junmai Nama Genshu, which was voted one of the top wines of 2012 in the Vancouver Magazine International Wine Competition. Or if you are feeling adventurous, there is the Mirai Traditional Method Sparkling Sake, “North America’s Champagne of Sake.” A perfect mix of the traditional and the innovative. Artisan SakeMaker also has tours and tastings. It may change the way you view (and appreciate) sake.
Opened by Charllotte Kwon over 20 years ago, as a way of showcasing exceptional artisans, Maiwa Handprints is a Granville Island institution. Maiwa’s primary focus is textiles: cloth, garments and bedding, all of them handwoven and naturally dyed. Maiwa is also about education. They’re annual Symposium Event features workshops, lectures and events, all geared toward educating people about textiles, dyeing, and all things handwoven. Arisan-focused and enviromentally-friendly, Maiwa is always worth a check out.
And, finally, my last treasure: Oyama Sausage Company. Located in the heart of the public market, Oyama offers up fresh sausage and pates, and cured meats for the true connoisseur. There is a certain fun and whimsy in walking up to the counter, grabbing a number and then yelling your order for Rookwurst, or Miso-Pork Sausage or an aged salami. The quality is superior, the ingredients are natural, and the staff is knowledgeable about each product, offering pairing suggestions. With three-quarters of my family being gluten free, Oyama is also a place where we know we are safe ordering any of their sausages
Having lived in Vancouver for 20 years, I too have taken much of our city for granted, including Granville Island. But I think it is important to remember the unique offerings our city, and Granville Island, has to offer. If you take the time, and you have the nose, treasures can truly be found.
Written by Robin Wait.
Sometimes the best places are a little harder to find. And once you find them, you wonder why it took so long. You feel like you have made a kind of personal discovery, and you cherish it. My personal discovery is Lost & Found Cafe. Housed in an inconspicuous space on Hastings St., between Abbott and Carrall, wedged between the old Funky Winkerbeans and Army and Navy, Lost & Found is a true gem. You might miss it from the outside, but once you step inside, you will succumb to its charms, and find it difficult to leave. The simple slogan on the sign outside says it best: “Come for coffee; stay for lunch.”
Aesthetically, Lost and Found is the epitome of cool and funky. Despite its relatively small storefront, the space is immense: 2400 square feet of open space, high ceilings, wood floor, and an assortment of really cool lighting fixtures. It’s an eclectic mix of vintage and modern, the past and the present. There are tables in the front area, where one can eat, drink coffee and gaze out at the various happenings of Hastings Street. There are tables in the back area, where one can view a documentary film being shown on a huge screen on the back wall. In the middle, there are couches and comfier chairs, as well as bookshelves, housing old National Geographic magazines and an assortment of travel literature. The walls are tastefully decorated with some homemade collages, as well as paintings and photographs by local artists. Being a gallery, as well as a cafe, Lost and Found rotates the art on the walls, and all pieces are for sale. It only serves to enhance the community feel of the place.
“I love local art,” owner Kane Ryan tells me,”and it’s nice to have a showcase for different local artists.”
Ryan had spent the previous twelve years travelling the globe, most recently spending four years in a very poor village in India. As a result, Lost & Found is heavily inspired by travel and the experiences of the traveller.
He explains the name: “Whenever I travelled, it was never about what you are supposed to see. Some days you are lost in a back alley and you meet someone, or find an amazing cafe. It’s about the days when you are lost, and you find something.”
This “lost and found” ideology is found throughout the cafe: from its location to its name; from its design to its displays. But while it definitely has a global connection, Lost & Found maintains a local feel as well: the art on the walls, the coffee it serves (Republica, a Vancouver roaster), and its eclectic mix of customers.
From the beginning, Ryan wanted the space to be flexible and multi-purposed.
“We wanted a space that was more than a coffee shop – art shows, music events, fundraisers. We have the opportunity to give back to the community.”
The food at Lost & Found is best described as simple and delicious comfort food, with everything made in-house with fresh ingredients. They serve breakfast and lunch, with a small display case stuffed with house made baked goods The highlight for many is the Breakfast Bun, which tastes as good as it looks. It is basically a round, fluffy bun (made from Ryan’s grandmother’s dough recipe), filled with scrambled eggs, veggies and cheese (and ham if you so desire). It was soft, tasty and filling – a perfect little breakfast.
So whether you are looking for some good old coffee, some tasty treats, a hearty breakfast, a delicious lunch, or a place to chill and find yourself, Lost & Found has it all. The coffee is great, the food is amazing, the people are friendly, the prices are on point, and the space is big, eclectic and comfortable enough to demand a return visit. You don’t need to be lost to find it, but it wouldn’t hurt.
Written by Tobin Wait.
Disclaimer: This is a completely subjective, biased, personal list of favourite albums, culled solely from the music I was able to listen to this year, which was quite a lot. My criteria for good music is pretty simple: it has to make me think, make me move, or make me feel. These 10 albums were able to make me do all three. So, from my ears to yours (in no particular order)…
DARKSIDE – Psychic
A collaboration between electronic music wonderkind/mastermind, Nicolas Jaar, and Brooklyn guitarist Dave Harrington, Darkside is a festival for the ears. It’s electronic music at its highest form: intricate, diverse, layered and challenging. This is not music for the dance floor. It is music for long walks with headphones on or a rainy afternoon at the crib. It demands that you listen. It’s ambient, without being boring; it’s groovy, without being mundane; it’s funky, without being contrived. It’s meant for repeated listening, and like a good book that you have to read again, each listen will bring something new.
Standout Track: “Golden Arrow”
PHOSPHORESCENT – Muchacho
Matthew Houck, the heart & soul of Phosphorescent, has the kind of plaintive, crackling voice that is instantly addictive. Backed by a harmonic mixture of piano, synthesizer, guitar and beautifully lazy rhythms, his voice takes on a life of its own. An added bonus is that Houck is also a sublime songwriter, tackling the big themes – love, loss, betrayal, human nature, mythology – with originality and subtle humour. There is no filler on Muchacho – each song has a life of its own, a world of its own.
This is beautiful, haunting, addictive music…my favourite kind.
Standout Track: “Song for Zula”
BLOOD ORANGE – Cupid Deluxe
Blood Orange is the latest incarnation of New York producer, Dev Hynes, a well-respected and influential musical vagabond. Cupid Deluxe is a genre-defying tour-de-force, mixing together a vast array of musical styles: 80’s synth pop, funk, jazz, R & B, smooth pop, disco, new wave. It is a true musical melting pot, and on top of it all is Hynes’ smooth and sultry vocals. It’s a record you can dance to, chill to, make love to, wash the dishes to. It’s an eclectic mix of the smooth and the funky, and it demands your attention.
Standout Track: “Uncle ACE”
CHANCE THE RAPPER – Acid Rap
Wearing his J Dilla and Native Tongue influences on his sleeve, Chicago native Chance the Rapper has burst out of the rap gates. With quirky, jazz-influenced beats, funny insightful lyrics, and a slew of guest rappers, Acid Rap is never boring. It’s sound and feel evoke such 90’s greats as A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and Wu Tang Clan, but with its updated beats, and guests such as Ab-Soul, Action Bronson and Childish Gambino, Acid Rap is a fresh and welcome sound for 2014.
Standout Track: “Cocoa Butter Kisses”
KURT VILE – Walkin’ On A Pretty Daze
The title of this gem pretty much says it all – listening to this album is pretty much like walking through a daze. But it’s a really cool, pleasant daze. It has favourably been called a “stoner album” by some critics because of its lazy, drifting sounds, but one thing is clear: Kurt Vile is a great guitarist and a sublime songwriter, and his songs are as catchy as hell. He has a knack for constructing seemingly simple song structures, and infusing them with subtle artistry and and a master’s touch to render them somehow less simple but so much more enjoyable. The result is a beautiful album from start to finish.
Standout Track: “Never Run Away”
KANYE WEST – Yeezus
Despite all the hype, despite his polarizing persona, and despite a slew of competition from established heavyweights and talented newcomers, Kanye released the most revolutionary rap album of the year. What I mean by revolutionary is that Kanye not only changed the game, but drove it in a completely new direction. Like Run DMC, Public Enemy, Dr. Dre and A Tribe Called Quest before him, Kanye introduced us to a new sound, a new style, a new future. Thumping techno beats, an unadulterated industrial sound, dark, powerful and angry lyrics, Yeezus was a slap in the face. But it felt so good. Now, if only he could turn the God complex down a bit…
Standout Track: “New Slaves”
JAMES BLAKE – Overgrown
James Blake has the kind of voice that makes all of his songs seem sad and depressing. It’s a plaintive and tender voice, but it is unmistakeable and unique. Overgrown is a hard album to categorize: it is equal parts soul, R & B, pop, electronica. It’s made as much for romantic evenings as it is for lazy afternoons. Musically, it relies on the kind of minimal, yet sophisticated beats that made Frank Ocean’s Orange such an amazing album. The music serves to enhance the words and sounds of Blake’s achingly beautiful voice; it never overpowers. And it is that beautiful voice which demands that you feel the array of emotions he expresses. And to top it all off, Overgrown contains an absolutely haunting RZA guest vocal on the powerful “Take A Fall For Me.”
Standout Track: “Retrograde”
VAMPIRE WEEKEND – Modern Vampires in the City
Vampire Weekend were not supposed to have any lasting relevance. They burst on the scene a few years ago with their African and Paul Simon influenced rhythms, released some really catchy singles, and then seemed destined for obscurity. They were a bunch of East Coast preppies who ripped off the sounds of others – they couldn’t last. Wrong. Vampire Weekend are for real, and Modern Vampires in the City is all the proof you need. It’s haunting, emotional and intellectual. It is lyrically extraordinary. It is musically mature and harmonic. Singer Ezra Koenig confronts life, death and everything in between, showing off his songwriting skills and intellect at the same time. It is definitely the best surprise of the year.
Standout Track: “Hannah Hunt”
EMINEM – The Marshall Mathers LP II
Say what you will about Eminem – he’s washed up, his jokes are old, he’ll never be as good as he was – you cannot ignore a simple, undeniable fact: he is one of the greatest rappers of all time. His wordplay, his delivery, his cadence, his masterful use of the English language, they are unparalleled. And they are all in full effect on The Marshall Mathers LP II. Sure, there are some weaknesses: too much guitar, too many classic rock samples, some pedestrian production. But the strengths more than overshadow the weaknesses: his back-and-forth lyrical bullets with Kendrick Lamar on “Love Game;” the old school, chaotic, Beastie Boys-influenced “Berzerk;” the master’s degree of wordplay he delivers on “Rap God.” This is one of the best ever on top of his game.
Standout Track: “Love Game”
JOHN TALABOT – Fin
Sometimes you just need a good, solid dance record with funky grooves and killer beats. I call it “house cleaning music,” because it’s perfect for cleaning your house. You can bob your head, smile, and maybe even do a little dance with your broom. No lyrics to distract you, just solid waves of groovy house music. And John Talabot is a master. The Spanish DJ is as solid as they come when it comes to beats and grooves. This is not in-your-face techno, meant for a sweaty warehouse. This is silky, airy, artistic house music. Sometimes that’s all you need.
Standout Track: “Destiny”
LORDE – Pure Heroin
NEPH – The Black Box EP
EARL SWEATSHIRT – Doris
GOLD PANDA – Half of Where You Live
DAFT PUNK – Random Access Memories
Written by: Joy Gallant.
Ctrl Alt Delete by: Joel Mitchell.
The business world is changing, and at a pace that is faster than most of us can grasp on a regular basis.
Social media has changed consumer expectations so we all believe that we can connect with brands and companies in a personal way. We expect personal connection back. Consumer expect to connect with useful messages, ideas and tools that they can use in their daily life. Because anyone can comment on products and have their voices heard through social media, it’s not just the companies with the biggest marketing budgets that have the most influence through their push marketing, it’s the voices that have the most resounding value that become influential.
Passive, push media that has dominated the last century and was made infamous in Mad Men has largely lost it’s impact. Consumers are more interested in interacting with marketing online through active media where they can make real connections with real people. Brands that develop tools to make the lives of their audience easier, have more influence.
Amazon, for example, has developed an app called Price Check for mobile devices. Where many of us have become accustomed to checking online price comparisons when we are looking at a product in a store, Price Check can scan a barcode and compare with the Amazon (and their merchant) prices. It’s a useful tool that both drives customers back to Amazon and gives Amazon information about other retailers and their prices. Genius!
Where business has morphed from big static companies pushing their products to personalized connections developing relevant tools, the career world has also changed from 30 year jobs to shorter job timelines and contract work focused on product delivery. The job I have now didn’t exist 3 years ago, and probably won’t exist in it’s current form in three years. Working in Marketing Technology, I’m constantly being presented with new ideas for improving branding online, some ideas that are great and some that really feel like a fad. But it’s hard to tell at the onset what will last. Regardless, I know career driven people must constantly be learning and morphing their work skills to stay relevant.
Even the task of marketing myself, my career and my skills has changed dramatically in the past 5 years. It has become less about my resume and more about my delivered projects, portfolio and client references. Learning to market myself with the idea in mind that I’m doing work now for the job I may want in 3-5 years puts an entirely new spin on how I process my day-to-day work.
The new Web 2.0 world has changed how brands and voices are heard online. Companies that want to stay relevant and in the forefront of their customers attention can’t just share enticing graphics anymore, they have to improve the lives of their clients. At the personal level, professionals who want to develop future forward careers also can’t just survive on a great resume, they have to develop an online personality, voice and network. Keeping up with the pace of digital development means the essentially the same thing for companies and professionals, we all have to focus on staying personally connected and constantly evolving.
By: Tobin Wait.
An interview with Christopher Ryan, New York Times best-selling author, Guinness drinker, Vancouver resident, and a genuinely cool dude.
Q: Chris, in 50 words or fewer, can you sum up the major argument of Sex at Dawn?
A: The major argument is that the primary function of human sexuality is not in fact reproduction. Most human sexual interaction doesn’t, or even can’t, result in conception. And like other highly intelligent species, like chimps, bonobos and dolphins, human sexuality functions primarily as a means of maintaining complex social networks. Reproduction is sort of a happy by-product that occasionally results from that. In fact, we are one of very few species, along with chimps, bonobos and dolphins, where the female can and is willing to have sex when she is not ovulating, and we also have sex in ways that cannot possibly result in conception.
Q: I suppose the standard question must also be asked: Why this book? What drew you to this topic?
A: There are many ways to answer that one. What drew me to the topic…was that I was a horny teenage boy, and I experienced the world through my brain a lot more than my body – I wasn’t an athlete or a dancer or an artist, and I was more intellectually oriented. So I found sex interesting. It was like a puzzle to me. So I guess that originally drew me to the this kind of topic.
Later, when I was in Graduate School in San Fransisco, I was living with my girlfriend, who was a stripper, and trying to decide what to write my dissertation on. I was also working for a non-profit community group, where there were fifty women, and me. So I was surrounded by women. Then I read an amazing book called The Moral Animal by Robert Wright, which traces the history of cultural psychology and the life of Darwin. And I thought “wow,” this explains everything. What we call in Sex at Dawn the “Standard Narrative:” men trade protection and status and meat to women for sexual fidelity as a way to ensure paternity certainty, so they don’t have to invest time raising someone else’s offspring. And this was fascinating to me. But I was surrounded by all these strong women who said, “That may make sense to you, Chris, but that is not how women really experience the world. That’s a very uptight, Victorian, sex-negative view of human sexuality.” And I respect these women, and they are telling me that the Standard Narrative doesn’t make sense on a very deep level. So I went back and started to look at the original research…and I discovered bonobos, and tribes around the world where the men don’t give a damn who the women are sleeping with, and their child care is communal. So I found this thread in the big tapestry and just started pulling the thread, and the whole tapestry fell apart.
Q: Upon publication, the book stirred up quite a bit of controversy. Were you ready for that? Was it something you wanted?
A: Well, you don’t write a book that challenges the basic mainstream view of human sexuality without expecting controversy, and hoping for it, really. I think it was Oscar Wilde who said, “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” I mean, this started as my doctoral dissertation, and I didn’t even expect it to be a book, or even published. So when I was writing it as a book, I didn’t hold back; I just went for it. And then it gets published, and Dan Savage noticed it, and then it became a bestseller and that got other people’s attention. And what started as a little spark became a bit of a brushfire.
Honestly, once I knew it was going to be published, I expected a lot more criticism, and the response has been 95% positive. And the 5% negative is so over-the-top emotional, vehement, craziness that I don’t even respond. These people are offended…because in the book we argue that not only are men attracted to a lot of different people, so are women…by their nature! In fact, women are sexually a lot more voracious then men could possibly be. Why, for example, are women capable of having multiple orgasms? While guys last 15 seconds and then go watch the game? There must be a reason. And this is why people get upset.
Q: The book contains a lot of information, data and research, but is actually quite witty and humourous in tone and style. Was this done to make the book more accessible, or was it perhaps a natural extension of the subject matter?
A: I think maybe it’s more of a reflection of me. My approach to life is that if it’s not fun, I generally don’t do it. I haven’t had a job since the mid 90’s, and before that the previous job was in the mid 80’s. I mean I do things to make money but I’m not a punch-the-clock kinda guy. I tend to see life as an adventure, so if I can’t have fun writing something or researching something, then I don’t have the discipline to follow through. And my dad, who was a writer, told me when I started writing to write like I was talking to my friends. If you treat the reader like an enemy or you talk down to them or treat them like they’re stupid, why would people spend money to be insulted?
Q: Does it concern you that some may use your arguments as a justification for “non-monogamous” behaviour? (eg: Sorry, I slept with your sister, but according to this book, it’s how I am wired!)
A: I think we are very vehement in the book to address that question. I think we quote Schopenhauer when he says, “Man can control what he does, but not what he wants to do.” So in the book we are clear about offering justification for desires. The fact that you love your husband but you are looking at other dudes too, or the smell of your tennis coach drives you crazy…that’s cool, that’s ok. Don’t blame yourself, don’t blame your husband, don’t blame your marriage; there’s nothing wrong with that. Your feelings, your desires, that’s all natural, that’s to be expected. Now, what you do with all that is your business. We don’t give any advice in the book, and we make it clear that what we are calling for here is greater communication, greater sincerity, greater honesty. We ALL need to come out of the closet. I said this at my TED Talk recently: “This book is not an indictment of monogamy any more than saying that human beings are naturally omnivorous is an indictment of vegetarians. But just because you decide to become a vegetarian doesn’t mean that bacon doesn’t smell good anymore.
Q: In the book, you identify the problem, but offer no solutions – a conscience decision on your part. But, really, we are so deeply entrenched in our attitudes and habits, can we change? Can we become more open?
A: I think the evidence is overwhelming that we can, and that we are. I think society is changing in radical ways faster than I would have thought possible a decade ago. Since ten years ago, the United States, one of the most conservative cultures in the world, has gone from overwhelmingly against same sex marriage to overwhelmingly in favour of it. American society, which is a little behind Canada and Europe, is changing so quickly and radically toward a more liberal understanding, and if you look at anyone under 30 who is uptight about same sex marriage, they are considered weird, the minority. And young people today are so well-informed about sexuality, and I give a lot of credit for that to Dan Savage, who I think is a historical figure.
Q: You have lived all over the globe, and still call Barcelona home….what brought you to Vancouver, of all places?
A: Well, I had been here when I was doing a speaking tour for Sex at Dawn. I really liked it, met some great people. Cacilda wasn’t with me – she was still in Barcelona, running a mental hospital. And I was trying to convince her to take a break from her job so we could go live somewhere else for a while, and it made sense for me to be close to LA for media stuff. So I told her we could live wherever she wanted, anywhere in the world, and she said, “what about Vancouver?” She had never lived here, but really liked the sound of it. So we moved here last Summer, and she loved it – in fact, she’s down at Kits Beach right now. We’re here because we could be anywhere and I think this is the most beautiful city on the planet.
Q: So what’s next for Christopher Ryan?
A: A lot of things. I am working on a website: www.kotango.com, which is about to be launched. It’s an online community, a site for people to share information. It’s an International Non-monogamy Website, where you can hook up with people or get information or meet people or mentor. I’ve got a production company in LA that is shopping a TV show which would be me talking about sex around the world, in the same vain as Anthony Bourdain’s culinary travels. I’ve got another book under contract which will be called Civilized to Death. But what’s really taking up my time right now, is my podcast, Tangentially Speaking, which is available on ITunes, or at my website: ChrisRyanPhD.com. It’s really taking off, with about twenty thousand downloads per episode. And I love it; it’s a lot more fun talking to people than writing.
Q: Finally, just to up the intellectual level of our conversation, I would like to end with a little game I play with my daughters called Pick One. I will give you two random choices of things, and you simply pick the one you prefer.
Q: The Beatles or the Stones?
Q: Whiskey or wine?
Q: Hemingway or Joyce?
Q: Chocolate or vanilla?
Q: North America or Europe?
Q: Dogs or cats?
Q: Humility or strength?
A: Humility is strength
A perfect ending to a very enjoyable conversation.
Written by: Joy Gallant.
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D.
What does it take to be successful? I’m always asking myself this question because I am slightly obsessed with personal and professional development. I have a voracious appetite for any kind of learning that will help me be more successful. I randomly picked up this book at the library because of two important words in the title, psychology and success. I believe that what we make of our lives is entirely based on how we see our world, but little did I know how much I needed to change my frame of mind to be more open to how success is really created.
Carol Dweck is a psychology professor at Columbia who has been studying how people create and evaluate success in their lives for the better part of her career. She has distilled her research down to one main idea, your mindset. Either you believe that you can grow through failures to achieve success because you have moldable skills (a growth mindset) or you believe you have a fixed set of skills and intelligence that will make or break your chances for success (a fixed mindset).
I’m a learner, so this way of framing personal development really resonated with me. But I also see in myself the roadblocks that I repeatedly hit and can’t figure my way past. Carol’s explanation of growth and fixed mindsets can apply to different areas of your life and you may be growth oriented in some parts of your life while you still have a fixed mindset in other areas. Her conclusion is that people with a growth oriented mindset are more successful because they believe they can influence their world for change, learn to adapt to new situations and learn from mistakes because they don’t internalize failure as the end of the road, just a blip along the way.
Growth oriented people have also learned that hard work has a stronger influence on success than talent. There are a lot of talented people out there who do not accomplish much because they don’t have self-discipline, a strong work ethic or the tenacity to stick at something when the going gets tough. We will never hear about their talent because they’re not willing to work hard enough to make something of it. Fixed-mindset people achieve less because they think they are limited by the current set of skills and personality traits they have and that they can’t do any better. Because they see their personal resources as fixed and limited, they internalize failure as a comment on their personal worth and let it stop them from progressing. They may also see their innate talent as ‘enough’ and expect the world to bring success to them, but how often does that happen.
What is your mindset? How do you see your skills and your opportunities for changing the world around you? Do you think that your talent is enough or are you going to work to make something of it? Do you think failure reflects badly on you or is part of the path to success? I’ve spent a good portion of my life thinking that my smarts could make everything I wanted happen, but as I’ve grown and worked in a variety of companies, the only common dominators I’ve found in my successes have been how quickly I can dust myself off when I make mistakes and how willing I am to work hard to learn what I need to do next.
Borrowed from: Toonpool.
Written by: Colin Aspinall.
It started a long time ago one year at Christmas. I’d been had. I felt like the butt of some sick joke. I shook my head hoping this vision in front of me, totally uncalled for, would vanish in a puff of glittering tinsel. But the indisputable proof was sitting there in front of me, in a bowl, on the well dressed Christmas dinner table. During this time of giving gifts I had been given a punch to the mid-section. It was like Santa Claus meets Mike Tyson. And not the nice Mike Tyson either. I’m talking Iron Mike when his meal of choice was the top of some guy’s ear. Eventually I caught my breath I asked the obvious question “So. Mom. Where’s the turkey?”
It turned out that there wasn’t going to be a turkey that year because my mom had decided she wasn’t going to cook turkey for Christmas. No, instead she decided that Bouillabaisse, a rustic French fish stew, would do just fine thank you very much. How was she planning on stuffing that?!? Choking back the tears I slumped into my chair. I summoned up enough Christmas cheer to smile at my mother and say thank you. After all it was Christmas and I wasn’t about to Scrooge the dinner. Of course the dinner was excellent, memorably so! I was lucky to have parents who were quietly confident and very adept in the art of cuisine. The rich broth was studded with clams, mussels, and generous chunks of succulent fish. Topping off each fragrant bowl was a thick cut disk of crusty bread lightly toasted in butter and spread with zesty rouille. Heaven! I went back for seconds and thirds. I would even admit to having fourths if questioned under duress. The turkey was totally and completely forgotten and Christmas wasn’t ruined in the process, it was enlivened.
So this year, and inspired by that night, I have decided to buck the turkey trend, wrap myself in a warm blanket of tradition and serve a Christmas goose. What about the mess? I asked myself. How much work is this going to be really? Which Chinese take-out menu should I have on hand “just in case”? With these questions in mind I sought the help of experienced friends and family to guide me. Surly I know enough people that have made enough goose mistakes that I can benefit from their trials and errors. Because in my mind that‘s the key to getting anything right. I hate when I try a recipe for the first time and nail it, bang on, “owned” as my daughter would say. Could I do it again? I probably could, but not for sure. I prefer to make a proper mess of it the first time and with singed fingers and perhaps a surprised expression (what happened to my eyebrows?!?) I’ll have a list of things to avoid next time.
Here are some tips that have been researched and passed along to me:
• A goose is typically 10 – 14 pounds and will feed about 1 person per pound. If you have larger friends a larger goose is an excellent idea.
• The goose will have more fat under the skin than a turkey will. It is important to render out and remove the fat during roasting to prevent a big mess. Prick or score the skin on the breast and legs, be careful not to cut the flesh. Remove any excess fat from the cavity of the bird. Take the goose out of the oven a couple times during roasting, transfer the bird to a baking sheet, and pour the collected jus/fat into a glass vessel of some kind. Put the glass vessel beside your friend’s wine/beer glass and see if they drink it accidentally. Too funny!
• A friend suggested that a traditional bread stuffing will absorb the fat as it renders during the cooking, making it stodgy. That makes sense! A better suggestion was made to stuff the cavity with flavour elements and aromatics instead like lemon wedges, onion, and fresh herbs like sage or thyme. This will add flavour to the roast and help keep it moist.
• Start with a hot, hot oven around 450°F. This will kick start the browning of the skin and gives you a good shot at serving a “golden goose”. Turn down to 350° after about 10 minutes and roast for 2 ½ to 3 ½ hours or until an internal thermometer shows 180 °F.
• Of course you must let the cooked goose rest under a tin foil tent for 30 minutes (enough time to cook the veggies) because you know carving a goose right out of the oven will guarantee a dry finish.
• Make gravy. Everyone likes gravy!
Other than executing a perfect goose recipe there are other challenges that I am facing that you might be confronted with if you choose the road less traveled. Be prepared! I would suggest alerting (a strong word I know but turkey fans can be quite alarmist) friends and family of your plans well ahead of goose day. Feel out your opposition with a few carefully chosen words or phrases. “Did you know goose is higher in alpha-beta-gamma fatty acids than turkey?” might work, even though it’s complete nonsense. Or try this tactic “I just read on Huffington Post that turkeys often develop rashes caused by scabies. Did you know that?!?” Approaching the subject delicately at first, like this, will increase your chance of decreasing objections.
At this point I still don’t have the official “good to go” to make the turkey switch for Christmas this year. This is despite the fact that my research has led me to conclude that with simple ingredients and a modest amount of counter space I stand an excellent chance of serving a memorable Christmas dinner much like I had been served all those years ago. I plan on using constant steady pressure for the next couple months. A likely endgame tactic will be to leave copies of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol around the house.
“There never was such a goose. Bob said he didn't believe there ever was such a goose cooked. Its tenderness and flavour, size and cheapness, were the themes of universal admiration.” If all goes well the goose will be magnificent, a story to be told ‘round the table for years after. I have a dream and plan to execute it. I trust the family will be asking for seconds and thirds (maybe fourths). But I’ll keep that Chinese take-out menu handy, just in case.