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SPINNING, BUT NEVER FALLING

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Sights & Sounds | Comments Off on SPINNING, BUT NEVER FALLING

colum-mccann

Photo courtesy of jpbohannon.com

Written by Tobin Wait

On a clear morning in the Summer of 1974, Frenchman Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the two World Trade Center towers. It was a brazen act that captivated the millions of New Yorkers who watched from below for almost an hour, as he made eight passes along the wire.

In his beautiful and moving novel, Let the Great World Spin, Irishman Colum Mcann uses Petit’s famous walk as a backdrop to a heartbreaking and heartwarming story of New York City and its people. McCann brilliantly weaves together the stories of a variety of New Yorkers, walking their own tightrope hundreds of feet below Petit:

First there is Corrigan, an Irish “monk,” who leaves his home country to settle among the prostitutes and pimps of a decrepit Bronx neighbourhood. Later joined by his brother, Ciaran, Corrigan struggles with his religious and personal conflicts, as he acts as a kind of saint to the working girls of the neighbourhood.

We also meet two of the prostitutes living under Corrigan’s benevolent wings: the wise and worldly Tille, and her teenage daughter, Jazzlyn. Tillie struggles with not only the fact that she has been a prostitute for nearly half her life, but also that her daughter has followed in her footsteps, even with two small babies at home. Through it all, Tillie and Jazzlyn retain their sense of humour and their pride.

Claire and Gloria are as different as two people can be. Claire lives on Park Avenue, married to an esteemed judge. Gloria lives in the Bronx, in a run down house. But the two ladies become friends, after they first meet at a support group for the mothers of sons killed in the Vietnam War. Each is dealing with their own personal struggles, but are able to find solace in one another.

A young artist and her boyfriend find themselves in a hit-and-run, affecting not only their lives, but the lives of many others. The artist struggles with guilt and truth, and the fragility of live, and death.

These characters, and a small host of others, struggle through the joy and the pain, the laughter and the tears, as Petit serves as their metaphor far above the city streets. And the stories of these everyday New Yorkers are woven seamlessly together by McCann into a tapestry representative of the great city itself.

Let the Great World Spin is a novel of tenderness and brutality, of family and separation, of conflict and resolution, of struggle and and achievement. McCann’s brilliance lies in the fact that not only do you grow to care for these characters, but their struggles become yours. We all struggle, we all walk the tightrope, but this gorgeous and gutsy novel reminds us that we never fall, because it is the world that spins around us.

RAINY SUNDAY SOUNDTRACK

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in Sights & Sounds | 1 comment

 

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It’s Sunday afternoon.  It’s raining and you are feeling lazy. It’s gloomy, but you are feeling good.  Your brunch sits happily in your tummy.  All sports has been watched on TV.  There is no work to be done.  It’s time to chill…maybe read a magazine or a book; maybe relax on the couch with a loved one; maybe start prepping some dinner.  It’s a perfect time to turn the right brain off, turn the left brain up, and listen, really listen, to some perfect rainy Sunday afternoon music.  Rainy Sundays are perfect, because there are no distractions.  Your mind is in the right place, and when you look out the window, there is no sunset, no sun, no birds…just rain.  It forces you to focus on the music: the mood, the feel, the sound, the words.  It is how music is meant to be listened – with the mind, body and soul.

So whether you have yourself a cup of coffee, a glass of red, or something…um…greener, this is your soundtrack:

1. MOBY – “Whispering Wind”

Simple, melodic, and slightly haunting. Tailor made for gazing out the window.

 

2. BILLIE HOLIDAY – “God Bless the Child”

That voice, those lyrics: so comforting.

 

3. MORRISSEY – “Everyday Is Like Sunday”

Morrissey at his plaintive best.  Gloom never sounded so beautiful.

 

4. BON IVER – “Holocene”

This song has never, ever failed to give me goosebumps. (Bonus: the video is as beautiful as the song).

 

5. DONNY HATHAWAY – “Little Ghetto Boy”

Classic 70’s storytelling.  (Bonus: listen to it back-to-back with the Dr. Dre version)

 

6. PHOSPHORESCENT – “Song for Zula”

Beautiful and haunting, right up to the shocking last line.

 

7. BEETHOVEN – “Symphony #9”

There is a reason why it is so popular.

 

8. PRINCE – “Purple Rain”

This song drips with emotion and intensity. Don’t be afraid to sing along.

 

9. FRED WOODS – “The Pond”

Just listen to the lyrics.  Period.

 

10. NIGHTMARES ON WAX – “Groove Str.”

Trippy, hypnotic and a groovy bass line – the album is called “Smoker’s Delight.” You do the math.

 

11. MILES DAVIS – “Autumn Leaves”

Classic jazz from a legend.

 

12. PORTISHEAD – “Sour Times”

The ultimate homage to loneliness…and sadness…and melancholy.

 

13. FOXYGEN – “Shiggie”

Musically, it contains elements of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s.  Lyrically, it is weird and whimsical. Perfect.

 

14. NANCY SINATRA & LEE HAZLEWOOD – “Some Velvet Morning”

One of the coolest duets of all time, with some subtly sexy lyrics.

 

15. PINK FLOYD – “Comfortable Numb”

No explanation necessary.

 

A New Perspective on Introverts

Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 in Sights & Sounds | 1 comment

An Introvert's Bag of Books
jurvetson / Foter / CC BY

 

Written by: Joy Gallant

I’ve known for most of my conscious life that I was an introvert. I’ve never looked at it as a bad thing because I like who I am, but I’ve definitely heard enough of the stereotypical comments like “Oh, she’s just shy” and “She’s not very social” to know most people don’t seem to understand what it is about.

I’ve always seen introversion and extroversion as descriptions of how we charge our batteries. I plug in at home; extroverts plug in to people. I’m actually very social and love spending time with my friends and family, but I am most creative and rested when I’m chilling on my own.

Susan Cain has brought a new perspective to the introversion/extroversion conversation in her recent book, Quiet.  She educates her readers on the many psychological studies that have been conducted in the past 100 years evaluating how different animals and people respond to stimulus, environments and social situations. As it turns out, introversion or extroversion is not a description of someone’s social preferences; they actually describe how people absorb any form of stimulus, be it visual, auditory or social.

In one study, 4 month old babies were shown videos with colourful pictures and played tapes with lots of voices. Their responses were strong predictors in who would eventually become an introvert and an extrovert. The babies who responded dramatically to the stimulation became introverts, as they were very sensitive to any type of stimulation. The extroverted babies didn’t show as much of a reaction to the videos and sounds because they can absorb more stimulation before they demonstrate a reaction.

With the social stigmas attached to introversion and extroversion, studies have also been conducted to understand how the two groups differ in their understanding of social interaction. Through coordinated and video taped conversations, it was determined that while extroverts may be more aware of social cues being given to them in a conversation, introverts are more aware of social cues being given to people around them. Essentially extroverts experience their own social stimuli more accurately and introverts observe people dynamics more accurately.

While our society has developed an ideal that we should all be outgoing and social, introverts bring balance and observation to the table because as a group of people, they are less likely to take uncalculated risks. Some experts have said that if more introverts worked on Wall Street, the stock market crash of 2008 may not have happened, as introverts are less likely to take risks for the sake of gratification. So we all have important traits to bring to the decisions made in our communities.

Next time you are at a party and notice someone who is a bit more reserved in their participation, don’t assume they are a shy introvert; assume the may be an observational introvert who is soaking in all of the interactions, art, conversations and music in the room. They may have interesting insights to share with you.

Check out Susan Cain’s TED Talk.

TELEGRAPH AVENUE

Posted by on Feb 27, 2014 in Highlighted Features, Sights & Sounds | Comments Off on TELEGRAPH AVENUE

Berkeley Early Evening, #2

 

Written By: Tobin Wait.

Oakland, California. 2004. Used vinyl record store. Jazz. Midwives. Lost sons and fathers. Parenting and marriage. Black and white. Nostalgia and redemption. These are the places and themes which form the backbone of Michael Chabon’s latest masterpiece: Telegraph Avenue.

Michael Chabon is a rare breed: a popular best-selling author with serious literary credo, and a Pulitzer Prize under his belt. Chabon wrote his debut novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, in his early twenties, while still completing his MFA program. His second novel, The Wonder Boys, was not only a best-selling novel, but was also made into a successful film with Michael Douglas and Tobey McGuire. His third novel, The Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, for which he won his Pulitzer Prize, was a literary sensation. In a nutshell, Chabon is one of the best and most-respected American writers alive. So it comes as no surprise that Telegraph Avenue is a beautifully written, epic, witty, moving, gritty novel, full of wonderful characters and sublime language.

The novel centres around Archy Stallings and Nat Jaffe, proprietors of Brokeland Records, a used vinyl store located on Telegraph Avenue, a past-its-prime street that forms the border between Oakland and Berkeley. However, Brokeland is more than just a used record store – it is also the meeting place for an assortment of neighbourhood regulars, who come in to talk jazz and gossip. For fifteen years it has been a neighbourhood institution.

But it is 2004, and with compact discs and new technology, the used vinyl at Brokeland is becoming obselete. On top of that, former football player (and fifth richest black man in America), Gibson Goode, is set to build a music megastore (complete with vinyl) a few blocks away, threatening to put Brokeland out of business. Archy and Nat must make a decision whether or not to fight for their business. Meanwhile, their wives, Gwen and Aviva, are semi-legendary midwives in the Berkeley area. When a home birth goes wrong, they too must struggle for the existence of their business.

Added to this mix are a variety of colourful characters: Julius Jaffe, Nat’s teenage son, a self-proclaimed nerd, who is struggling with his sexuality and his place in the world; Titus Joyner, Archy’s unacknowledged teenage son from a previous relationship, and the object of Julius Jaffe’s affections; Luther Stalling, Archy’s estranged father, and the lead actor in two cult 1970’s kung fu movies.

With a mixture of nostalgia and anticipation, forgiveness and redemption, success and failure, Chabon weaves a magical story from these disparate characters and seemingly random events. And the result is book that is able to tackle the big themes of race, money, family, and power, with humour and tenderness. It is a book that gives you flawed and endearing characters that you genuinely care about. Like jazz itself, it is a book with rhythms and intonations all its own, and you just want to keep listening.

It is a page-turner because, despite all their flaws, you are cheering for these characters; because you need to know what happens next; because you want to experience Chabon’s wonderful prose for just one more page.

 

IN MY EAR LAST YEAR

Posted by on Jan 16, 2014 in Contributors, Highlighted Features, Sights & Sounds | Comments Off on IN MY EAR LAST YEAR

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Foter.com / CC BY-SA

 

 

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)…

 

DARKSIDEPsychic
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”

 

PHOSPHORESCENTMuchacho
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 ORANGECupid 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 VILEWalkin’ 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 WESTYeezus
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 BLAKEOvergrown
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”

 

EMINEMThe 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 TALABOTFin

 
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”

 

 
HONOURABLE MENTIONS:

 

LORDE – Pure Heroin
NEPH – The Black Box EP
EARL SWEATSHIRT – Doris
GOLD PANDA – Half of Where You Live
DAFT PUNK – Random Access Memories

EAR TO THE GROUND

Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in Ear to the Ground, from the editor, Highlighted Features, Sights & Sounds | Comments Off on EAR TO THE GROUND

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Who: Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden

What: A million twinkling lights to celebrate the Holiday season, and fun for the whole family.

Where: 5251 Oak St (37th and Oak). Admission $7.75 to $14.25

When: 4:30pm to 9:00pm (until January 4th)

Why: Who doesn’t like Christmas lights? But, it’s So much more than just pretty lights. Santa is there, choirs, gnomes, trains… It’s a winter wonderland!

EAR TO THE GROUND

Posted by on Dec 20, 2013 in Ear to the Ground, from the editor, Highlighted Features, Sights & Sounds | Comments Off on EAR TO THE GROUND

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Who: Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden

What: A million twinkling lights to celebrate the Holiday season, and fun for the whole family.

Where: 5251 Oak St (37th and Oak). Admission $7.75 to $14.25

When: 4:30pm to 9:00pm (until January 4th)

Why: Who doesn't like Christmas lights? But, it's So much more than just pretty lights. Santa is there, choirs, gnomes, trains… It's a winter wonderland!

RE-PROGARM THE PRE-PROGRAM

Posted by on Dec 19, 2013 in Contributors, Health & Wealth, Highlighted Features, Sights & Sounds | Comments Off on RE-PROGARM THE PRE-PROGRAM

 

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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.

Q&A WITH CHRISTOPHER RYAN – AUTHOR OF SEX AT DAWN

Posted by on Dec 18, 2013 in Contributors, Health & Wealth, Highlighted Features, Sights & Sounds | Comments Off on Q&A WITH CHRISTOPHER RYAN – AUTHOR OF SEX AT DAWN

 

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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?

A: Beatles       

 

Q: Whiskey or wine?

A: Wine

 

Q: Hemingway or Joyce?

A: Hemingway

 

Q: Chocolate or vanilla?

A: Chocolate

 

Q: North America or Europe?

A: Europe

 

Q: Dogs or cats?

A: Cats

 

Q: Humility or strength?

A: Humility is strength

 

A perfect ending to a very enjoyable conversation.

CHANGING YOUR MINDSET

Posted by on Dec 17, 2013 in Contributors, Health & Wealth, Highlighted Features, Sights & Sounds | 1 comment

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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.