Saturday, December 18, 2010

5 Questions with Dr. Minirth, author of Boost Your Brainpower


How'd this book come about?

I've long realized the brain could be accentuated Reading in psychiatry has correlated to that degree. Neuroplacticity is very important.
What is a good exercise people can do instantly for boosting their brainpower?

Word memorization.

What's the most inspiring story about someone boosting their brainpower you've heard?

I see people all the time that improve their cognitive thinking through word memorization.

Are there any foods you'd recommend for brain power boosting?

Caffeine as appropriate for each individual increases dopamine which increases the ability to think.

What's next for you?

I have several books being viewed by publishers that deal with cognition.


Monday, December 13, 2010

5 Questions with Norman Phillips, author of Professional Posing Techniques


What makes a good pose?
A pose that flatters the subject, has leading lines, does not forshorten
limbs and if legs are included they are posed so as to create a tapered from
the top to the feet and when hands are included they are shown running
across the camera, not angled directly at the casmera and works with the
lighting plan.

What's a tip you'd give a newcomer to the modelling word in terms of
Unless the photographer directs you to face on to camera, always present
yourself at an angle to the camera.  Relax.  Don't force a pose that may
make you look uncomfortable.  Place hands so that they are presented without
either the back or palm of the hand to the camera.  Cross your ankles to
create a tapered line from hips to feet.  Enjoy what you are doing.  Dn't
make it look like a chore.

What's the best way to think of a camera to develop the best relationship
with it for posing?

Ignore the camera and focus on the photographer and his/her directions.
Project yourself in a way to express yourself and elicit excitement.  Don't
look disinterested, interact with the photographer, it makes the images look

Which model out there right now strikes you as being the most camera
 friendly model?

 This is a tough one.Locally, the best model I worked with is Jennifer
Williams, she is delightful to work with and responsive to directions and
smiles at every prompting. But Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Hawkins and Jennifer
Lopez are truly camera friendly.


Praise for The Book of Skin 'Richly conceived and elaborately thought out. No flicker of meaning has escaped Connor's ferocious, all seeing eye.' - The Guardian Praise for Fly 'In Fly, Steven Connor undertakes the monumental task of acquainting a prejudiced public with the spectacular diversity of Diptera. The book is a tour de force of all manner of flies through both scientific and cultural lenses ... The illustrations are an unremitting delight ... Fly is a joy to read' - Science

5 Questions with Brad Warner, author of Sex, Sin & Zen

What is the traditional Buddhist viewpoint on sex?

In ancient Buddhist tradition monks, both male and female, were celibate. For lay people there were only 4 rules. No sex that is unlawful, no sex with anyone still under the protection of their parents, no sex with criminals and no sex with those who are married or engaged to someone else. After a while a large list of sexual regulations for monks was developed. But later on this was abandoned and there was only one rule, do not misuse sexuality. This applied to both monks and lay people. 

Since the Meiji Restoration of the 1860s, Japanese Buddhist monks, again male and female, are no longer required to observe the rule of celibacy. But generally speaking, they remain celibate during their training period, which may be a few months or a few years. 

There are no restrictions on sex other than this. For example there is no idea that pre-marital sex is forbidden. There are no ideas that homosexuality is wrong. And so on. It is up to each individual to decide for herself or himself what constitutes the misuse of sex. 
Has the book caused any controversy in the Buddhist circles?

Not really. Most Buddhists have been very supportive of the book. On the other hand, I've noticed that a lot of the Buddhist magazines in the West are not reviewing the book. I suspect this may be because they are uncomfortable about taking any specific position on the ideas I bring up in it. They're aware that the rules about sexual behavior for Buddhists allow for a great deal of openness. But I think that the cultural background the editors and their readers are steeped in makes it difficult to acknowledge the implications of this idea. So they don't want to say anything either positive or negative about it. It will take time before this can change. 
Which chapter was the most fun to write?

I had a lot of fun interviewing Nina Hartley. She is a porn star who was raised by two Buddhist monks — one male, one female. So Buddhism has very much influenced her life. I asked her to talk about how she can do what she does for a living and still feel she is not violating the rule against misusing sex. I think her answers are really interesting. 
What can Buddhism teach people about sex?

I think Buddhism can help us get over some of the hang-ups that Christian-based culture has about sex. It's not necessary to indulge in wild sexuality and so forth. But it's good to be a bit less concerned about the morality of sex. Yes, sex can sometimes be immoral, depending on the specific circumstances and who is involved and so forth. But the very act of sex itself is neither moral nor immoral. We've been living with the idea that sex itself is wrong for far too long. It's good to see another way. And it's good to have some kind of spiritual support for the idea that sex isn't such a big deal. 
What new things do you have on the horizon?

I'm trying to write a book about God and one about Godzilla. I'm not sure which one will win out. Who is stronger? God or Godzilla? I'm also constantly on tour doing lectures and running retreats all over the world. My blog,, has all the information.


5 Questions with 5 Questions with Stephen Fender, author of Love Sex Death & Words


What's the book about?

Love Sex Death Words is about the wide applicability of literature to all life experiences, hence an attempt to show how many different occasions at different times
may yield literary treatments.

How it came about:

At the suggestion of our publisher, Icon Books, John Sutherland and I drew upon over 40 years of literary conversations based on our careers, backgrounds, training, and specialisms dedicated to learning and teaching about literature. The aim was to share our mutual enjoyment of literature with anyone interested in books.

Why did you choose "Love Sex Death and Words" as the title?

It suggests the comprehensive cover of our literary selections and references, as well as to echo the title of Foster Hirsch's book on the films of Woody Allen, Love, Sex, Death and the Meaning of Life.

What's the best sex tale in the book?

Probably the entry on Fanny Hill  (15 December). Here is a book without a single dirty word, judged pornographic when published and still considered so after the Lady Chatterley trial. 

Which literary figure in the book was the most interesting to write about?
There really is no choosing, as all of the entries became interesting the more we delved into them. After all fixing a literary event to every day of the year shows the many ways in which writing has been used to express the human condition, across centuries, continents and cultures. We aimed to create not just a chronicle of literary dates or people, but fascinating and individual essays on all aspects of literature – from the social, economic and political context of its production and reception, to its inner workings, the subtle ways in which it weaves together images and formal patterns to suggest meanings below the surface. 



In HOW WE FIGHT, author and scholar Dominic Tierney investigates the way in which American society views war, identifying specific traditions that take hold of the nation at different moments in conflicts. By looking closely at American warfare from the founding to the present, Tierney shows how consensus ways of thinking about armed struggle emerged over two centuries to become accepted wisdoms. He reveals how the crusader and quagmire traditions have shaped American foreign policy time and again, encouraging military campaigns for far-reaching goals, and cultivating a national allergy toward nation-building. As we fight two wars right now and possibly prepare for a third, Americans are trying to understand this new era of terrorism and counter-insurgency. HOW WE FIGHT then, is a remarkable, necessary book that reveals how American culture and power steer popular attitudes toward conflict. And it tells us how, when that next fight comes, Americans will respond, what they will demand from their commander-in-chief--and whether they'll rally behind the cause--or ultimately come to view the war as a disastrous mistake.

5 Questions with Henry Lord, author of The Ryder Cup


Why do you feel this match is so important?

In an age when the world's top sports stars are increasingly seen as billion-dollar brands rather than people, it’s wonderful that an event like the Ryder Cup is still being played (mostly) in the spirit Samuel Ryder intended – with team grit, humble aspiration and solidarity; where professional golfers at the highest level come together to play not for prize money but for pride and a love of the game. Of course, it would be naïve to think there have never been branding and merchandising opportunities underpinning the event, there have. But as Bruce Critchley says in his foreword, 'winning requires huge personal commitment and exposure of nerve ... there is no such thing as a good show and a top ten finish; it is win or lose, glory or public scorn, and no fat cheque at the end to soften the blow of not quite finishing top.'

What's the most memorable Ryder Cup moment?

Everyone has their favourite. Personally, I remember as a boy going to the 1993 Ryder Cup at The Belfry and watching Seve Ballesteros and José María Olazábal charging around the course in one of their games. They played with such energy and passion, it felt like the two fiery Spaniards could take on the entire USA team by themselves!

What's a fact about the Ryder Cup a lot of people don't know?

Before every Ryder Cup, each team captain places the name of one of their players in a sealed envelope. This player will stand down from the singles matches if a member of the opposition is unable to play with just cause. Each side would then be awarded half a point in such a situation.

What's your favourite image from the book?

The iconic image of Jack Nicklaus shaking hands with Tony Jacklin in their famous 1969 match at Royal Birkdale. Nicklaus had just conceded a two-an-a-half foot putt to Jacklin on the final green, halving their game and the entire Ryder Cup match for the first time in its history. Nicklaus spoke the famous words: 'I don't think you would have missed that putt, Tony, but under the circumstances I wasn't going to give you the opportunity.' A number of the American team questioned that decision at the time, but it was and remains one of the great acts of sportsmanship.

What's next for you?

There are one or two projects in the pipeline that I'm working on with my friend and colleague, the extremely gifted golf photographer Kevin Murray. After the successful launch of our book St Andrews: The Home of Golf during The Open this summer, we felt inspired to showcase more great courses in parts of the world, such as China, that are not necessarily on most golfers’ radar. Yet.



5 Questions with Stephen K. DeSilva, Author of Money & The Prosperous Soul


1. What's the key message of this book?

This book is unlike any financial message you’ve ever read.
Rather than proscribe a list of rules and mandates, it views
money as a handle for the deeper issues of a person’s soul.
The truth is that money is power, and power exaggerates
whatever is in your heart.

Many Christians are perplexed by money itself, how the
Bible instructs its use, and what their role is in the landscape
of riches or the lack thereof. Largely, the Church has seen
abuse on both sides of the debate. However, this book
clearly explains and prescribes the path to freedom from a
poverty spirit, the spirit of Mammon, and the development a
prosperous soul.

This book is a step-by-step financial deliverance for
Christians who have struggled with destructive patterns
that wreak havoc in their financial lives. Some recognize
generational cycles that are destructive, while others admit
outright self-sabotage. Money and the Prosperous Soul
leads the reader out of the dark and into the light of Biblical

2. Do a lot of people relate being poor to being spiritual?

Being poor is not spiritual; it is just living in lack. Christians
know from scripture and experience that poverty and
Mammon are both evil. But a problem arises when we
perceive ourselves as standing between these two extremes,
rather than moving beyond them and into a prosperous soul.

We learn to hate the two evils unequally. We perceive the
first to be especially evil over the second, causing us to
back away from the former directly into the latter. The devil
likes to send evil in pairs, keeping us busy measuring our
placement between the two, rather than navigating free.

Take Mammon for example. Because of Luke 16, most
Christians understand Christ’s warning and back away as
far as possible from riches and wealth. Misunderstanding
Mammon as riches or money, they back directly into realm
of poverty. The closer they get to poverty, the farther they
move away from Mammon. They spend their lives as close
to poverty as possible, living just outside its snapping jaws
of crisis and weakness because they hate the two evils

But we are called to navigate away from both poverty and
Mammon, into the abundant life Christ spoke of in John 10.

3. What's a good way to be more prosperous and feel more
prosperous instantly?

Prosperity is an inside job…but it doesn’t stop there.
Prosperity, as Jesus would describe, would constitute true
riches. Examples would be peace of mind, living with
purpose and helping others. Becoming a person of influence
and strength will often require money, but money is merely a
tool of prosperity.

I’ve seen prosperous people in Africa who own nothing my
American standards; likewise, I’ve seen impoverished people
in America with six-digit incomes. At the same time, I’ve
seen wealthy Americans overjoyed with their ability to live
generously. This is because prosperity is not about money.

First, if you want to feel more prosperous instantly, I would
recommend a heavy dose of the Cross of Christ. Meditate
on the fact that the Cross restored you to significance. Many
Christians have no trouble understanding who God is; their
problem comes in misunderstanding who they are. If you
want to feel more prosperous, get a long glimpse of yourself
in Christ.

Second, return to your dream. Many Christians have allowed
their dreams to be shut down, either because they are afraid
of the dream or because they have been worn down by
troubles. Your dream enables you to see further than your
circumstances. We are designed to carry hope and to believe
that God is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

4. What's the most exciting part of the process of putting a book
like this together?

For me, the most exciting part of this process has been living
out the message first hand. The writing of this book has put
to words a deep and personal process in God. I describe it
to friends as the difference between being awake and being
upright. When I gave my heart to Christ, I came awake. But
when my soul began to prosper, I stood from my bed and
began to run.

Learning to hear the voice of God, to lead and co-labor with
Christ in strength, is our portion as Christians. Becoming a
bond-servant of Christ was my salvation; becoming an heir to
His kingdom made me a significant son.

5. What's next for you?

My next project is to write a follow up to this book
entitled “An Exaggerated Heart. This develops the original

thesis that money is power and power exaggerates whatever
is in your heart. I believe God designed money to be so
powerful, and when our hearts are filled with Him and our
souls prosper, we will allow money to exaggerate…Him!

The world is again facing Pharaoh’s nightmare. And though
the soothsayers and magicians are madly interpreting the
dream, the king awaits the voice of God through Joseph. This
time, however, God will speak through thousands, perhaps
millions, of Josephs as the Body of Christ steps into its
role as prosperous souls. Our ability to lead as supernatural
stewards will rescue cities, states and nations in the name of
the Christ.

I am also working on two other manuals, one dealing with
practical home financial tools, and the other designed for
entrepreneurs and the market place. I hope to do some
domestic and international travel where I hope to teach on
my favorite subject: money and the prosperous soul.



5 Questions with Dr Kevin Leman, author of "Have a New You by Friday"


1. What's the main message of the book?

It doesn’t take forever to change, stuck people can get un-stuck

2. What's a good start to changing your life in 5 days? Something you can do right now?

Pinpoint one area of your life you want to change. Don’t be overwhelmed by many things you think you need to change, start with one.

3. What's a big lie that people tell themselves which undermines their confidence?

That other people are more successful than they are.

4. Why is accepting the truth about yourself key?

If you don’t tell yourself truth, you’ll never have any degree of happiness. All of us have positive and negative parts to who we are. Accepting the bad with the good is important.

5. What's the best reason why people should get the book?

The best reason is that you really can become the person you want to be in a very short time.



5 Questions with Cynthia Gold, author of Culinary Tea


Do you think your book has opened up some eyes on how much
you can do with tea?

I certainly hope so. That is without question my goal, only I tend
to think of it as “ how much TEA can do, not how much I can do.”

What was the best part of writing the book?

That really connects back to your first question. I am
passionate about the concepts of Culinary Tea. There is so much
incredible culinary potential to fine teas that has yet to be fully
acknowledged, let alone explored and embraced. I get a real high
out of guiding people towards this end, and particularly enjoy
when after teaching a class, demo or seminar people express to me
how they look at tea in a new way and are eager to start to taste
and play on their own. I’ d say the best part of writing the book
was that as I worked on the book, I kept thinking about how many
more people might soon have the opportunity to learn about how
fascinating, flexible and fun a botanical tea is. Tea, true tea,
Camellia Sinensis is deserving of so much more respect and use,
and I hope this book is helping people take a step in that direction.

Which recipe is the one you've used the most?

That’ s hard to say, but there are definitely a short list of
pivotal recipes. The Jasmine cured salmon has shown up as
Afternoon Tea finger sandwiches, in variations on Eggs Benedict,
within canapés, served as part of salad or starter courses and more.
It is incredibly easy to make, flexible and if I say so myself, quite
tasty! I often include it in demos or with my culinary students.
I’ ve had people tell me that they normally don’ t like salmon, but
they love it in this recipe.

Besides the salmon, the tea and spice rubbed pork tenderloin

shows up time and again on various menus, demos and the like. It
too is very popular, easy and incredibly flexible.

The slow cooked Masala Chai base is another incredibly
flexible item that is the base for the Park Plaza Holiday TeaNog,
and a Chai Martini but has also been used to replace some of the
dairy in ice cream, crème brulee, French toast, crème anglaise and
a variety of other items, besides of course making a fabulous Chai!

The last staple that comes to mind is some variation of a ground
tea shortbread. They are again, really easy to make and always
very popular. My favorite is probably the Matcha Tea Leaves
perhaps because the leaves are fun and surprisingly easy to cut
by hand and then make a lovely presentation, but in all of its
variations the tea shortbreads seem to be crowd pleasers.

What is your go-to tea when you need a boost of energy?

I’ m very fickle. I probably turn to a good oolong when I
have the time to savor its’ beautiful complex layered flavors and
spectacular aromatics. If I need more of a lift though, a good,
earthy full bodied Keemun, low grown Sri Lankan tea or Nilgiri
are probably the ‘ most common go-to’ for me.

What's next for you?

I’ m hoping to continue to promote the concepts of Culinary
Tea and it’ s always a pleasure and a privilege to be given the
opportunity to share these concepts with varied audiences. On
a more specific nature however, the next book I’ m working on
is focused more directly on Tea Cocktails. There will be food
involved as well, but more in a support role to pair up with the
cocktails. I’ ve been reaching out to talented bartenders around the
world and couldn’ t be more thrilled with the response. Not that it
takes an award winning bartender to create a great Tea Cocktail,
tea is an easy to use and quite natural botanical behind the bar.

Having star studded additions to the book however, not only will
help give credibility to the concepts which may cause people to
start experimenting who otherwise might not have, but also give
more diversity of style to the recipes. I’ m a chef, and as much as
I enjoy creating Tea Cocktails, and hope that everyone will enjoy
them as well, these bartenders bring their experience into play in
exciting ways that I would never have thought of. In fact, Culinary
Tea is about 85% my recipes and 15% guest chef and bartender
recipes, but I’ m hoping that the new book will be predominantly
guest bartenders and chefs to really put tea through its’ paces!

Monday, December 6, 2010

5 Questions with Gay Hendricks, author of Five Wishes


What's the best piece of advice from this book?

The best piece of advice from Five Wishes is to ask yourself the big question
that's detailed in the book. Briefly summarized, the question takes you in your
imagination to the end of your life looking back. If your life was a success, what
is the ONE BIG THING that made it so? By asking the question over and over, I
compiled my Five Wishes for my life. If you know what your biggest wishes are,
you can go about making them come true. The book shows you how.

You have a chapter "savoring life", is this a lost skill for many?

"Savoring" is indeed a lost art, and one that can be revived easily with the right intention. I once rushed through life so much that I missed a lot of the good stuff. Be sure to read the story in Five Wishes of my daughter's Halloween costume. When I made my Five Wishes, one of them was to savor life. The 'minestrone story' in the book is a good example; since the book was published I've had people wherever I go to speak come up to me and talk to me about minestrone! Apparently a lot of people are catching on to the power of 'savoring.'

How do you define success?

I define success as 'having everything you most deeply want, and savoring everything that you have.' I've met lots of people who had immense material wealth but didn't enjoy a minute of it. Indeed, I've counseled multimillionaire couples who fought over the cost of peanut butter and toilet paper. Use Five Wishes to create both kinds of wealth: having everything you want and enjoying everything you have.

What has the response to the book been like?

Five Wishes has gotten the biggest response from readers of any book of mind since Conscious Loving. I get email almost every day with stories from people who have used the tools and techniques to make big changes in their lives. It's very satisfying from an author's perspective. There's hardly anything better than hearing from people you've helped to create more love and abundance in their lives.

What's next for you

One big project I'm working on this year is a trilogy of mystery novels featuring a character I've created named Tenzing Norbu (nickname 'Ten'.) He's L.A.'s first and only Tibetan Buddhist private detective.I've finished two of the novels and am plotting out the third.  Be on the lookout for those about a year from now. I'm also working on a new relationship project with my wife, Kathlyn. She and I have co-authored ten books together over the thirty years we've been together. We just launched the first phase of the project, a new online course called The Relationship Catalyst. Learn more at

5 Questions with Peter Baxter, author of Best Views from the Boundary


What’s the book about?

Cricket has always attracted celebrity fans and indeed participants.    Thirty years ago, as the producer of the BBC’s radio cricket commentaries, ‘Test Match Special’, I started a lunch interval feature to plunder this treasure trove, by finding interesting celebrities to talk to about their love of the game – and other things.     This book is a mixed collection of some of the best of those.

What’s the most interesting interview?

Well, I’m going to cheat by claiming two.  
In cricketing terms, I think the playwright, Ben Travers, was fascinating.    He was well into his nineties when he came to us in 1980 and remembered with great clarity seeing W.G. Grace play.
From a human interest point of view the story of Ian Richter takes some beating.  He was incarcerated by Saddam Hussain in Iraq just before the first Gulf War started, sustaining himself in the total isolation of a dark cell with making up fantasy cricket teams.

What’s the most special thing about cricket?

Its ability to exercise and entertain the mind of someone like Ian Richter would have to be an element.   It is a game which highlights character and several different skills.   Its aesthetic qualities have inspired possibly more art and literature than any other game and I cannot think of another which can rival it for the drawn out drama of a Test Match.

Will the game ever catch on in North America?

The first international cricket match in history was between America and Canada, but I agree it is not huge in the States.    If it does take off it will probably be inspired by the ex-pat Indian community, which has already sparked a vigorous club cricket league in Southern California.    If anything is to inspire its popularity, it will probably be Twenty/20 cricket, because I fear Americans may not have the patience for a five day Test Match that might end in a draw.    It’s their loss.

What’s next for you?

I spent over a quarter of a century touring the cricketing world for the BBC, including, for instance, eight tours of India.   I always kept a diary on those tours and so I’ve started to compile the many traveller’s tales and the sometimes desperate measures to get ‘Test Match Special’ on the air in adversity.
Meanwhile I’m doing regular podcasts from Australia on, blogging on and doing a bit of after dinner speaking.

5 Questions with Lerzan Aksoy and Timothy Keiningham, authors of Why Loyalty Matters


1. Why does loyalty matter so much?

Loyalty matters in all aspects of our lives because everything we hope to accomplish,
our dreams, our goals, whether personal and professional is going to be with and through
other people. We need each other! To get what we want in life and to be happy…
Loyalty is the glue that binds these relationships. Without loyalty our relationships
become mere acquaintances and lack the sort of depth that we need as humans to
fulfill us. This is not to say that all our relationships have to be based on loyalty but we
definitely need some!

2. What's the best example of how loyalty matters in the book?

The best example of loyalty in the book is one in the chapter is about the friendship
between Frank Sinatra and his fellow rat packer Sammy Davis Jr. When Sinatra could
no longer bear Davis’s drug use, he acted out of true loyalty and love by confronting
Sammy. “Look,’ Sinatra said, ‘God put you here for a lot of reasons that you and I don’t
even know about. He gave you a talent, and you’re abusing it. And I’m watching my
friends go down the tubes. I loved you when you were nothing. I’ll love you when you
go back to being nothing. But you’re cheating yourself. You’re cheating your public and
as long as you’re going to do that then I don’t want to be around you.’ Sammy heard
Frank’s message and he kept his word to quit drugs. Loyalty to a friend sometimes
means letting go. It means being loyal to their highest and best self as well.

3. What's a good way to instantly build loyalty with someone?

We all wish this could happen instantly. But unfortunately this rarely happens. Just
as trust takes time to build, so does loyalty! The important point here is that you have
to keep working at it and dedicating time and effort to your relationships. Ironically,
our research shows that most people do not spend the time and effort to build these

4. How has loyalty improved your work life?

Loyalty in the workplace is just as important as loyalty in our personal lives. By building
loyal relationships in the workplace we become surrounded by a group of engaged
colleagues who are productive, who dedicate themselves to the job, who are ready to do
work above and beyond what is necessary and who feel a strong connection to the team
that they work with. This provides for a workplace with happier and more fulfilled people
at their jobs who don’t merely see it as a way to make money and are ready to give 110%.

5. What's next for yourself?

Loyalty is our passion and we would like to continue on this path for future work. We
truly enjoy being in the loyalty space because we get to show how it’s good business to
be good to one another!

5 Questions with Lou Jacobs, author of The Art of Posing


How can one master the art of posing?

Posing skill grows with experience. Your own personality reaches out to subjects. During a portrait session a subject tends to move frequently between shots, and successful images depend on friendly rapport and your ability to say “stop right there,”to get great poses. Being able to recognize poses the client will like includes shooting some that you will discard before you show the full take. Success also depends on enjoying portraiture and having empathy with the man, woman or child you see in the camera finder.

How did this book come about?

I have written a number of books for Amherst Media for more than a decade, and sometimes I suggest a topic, and other times my publisher, Craig Alesse, comes up with a subject he feels would fit into the many titles the company lists on its website. The Art of Posing was Craig’s idea, and I learned a lot more about posing as I worked with the 10 talented photographers whose pictures are featured.

What’s the man theme in this book?

It’s that you can’t take posing for granted. The subject of a portrait may fall into terrific poses spontaneously, and that’s a blessing, but there are many people who freeze in front of a camera. The way you cajole reluctant clients leads to successful pictures that both you and the person(s) like- and pay for. 

How can one improve their photogenic-ness?

All egos are not equal, so some sitters are quite at ease and give you wonderful expressions easily, and some need to be directed. Classy photographers know how to flatter people without sounding phony, and they also know how to see and capture the best expressions and poses, the ones that most people love. One doesn’t have to be greatly photogenic to have angles that the camera enhances to make clients surprised about how attractive they look.

What’s next for me?

Like an actor who is between pictures, I’m an author between books at the moment. I may be writing a new book on photographing children, but my publisher and I are still choosing a topic. I have written 37 how-to photography books in my long career, and I like finding new approaches to tackle.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

5 Questions with Ted Hunt, author of BEN HOGAN’S SHORT GAME SIMPLIFIED


What’s the best tip in this book?

That would be:  DO NOT RELY on ‘tips’ to improve your game, because they are like band-aids and fall away pretty quickly.  95% of amateur golfers need a SYSTEM . . . and Ben Hogan provides this, par excellence, for those who are willing to do a little work: i.e. fifteen minutes a day for seven days.  You learn his system over the week, and ingrain it; and suddenly you have great consistency and new control. My putting average went from 33 per round to 27.  They used to call me ‘the 142nd best chipper in the club (like “the 142nd fastest gun in all the West.”  Now they argue if I’m 1st or 2nd best.

What can someone easily do to improve their short game?

Learn to use what Hogan playfully called his ‘Magical Device’ so that the club head meets the gall crisply time after time.  (That’s why Mr. Hogan’s clubs had a well-worn shiny mark, like a dime, on the sweet-spot.)  And this mark was the product of mechanics, not luck. Unfortunately, Mr. Hogan knew how to contact the ball properly, but having virtually dropped out of school in grade 10, he did not have the education to properly use the anatomical terms his artist/illustrator friend used from his anatomy background. (more unfortunate coincidence.)  Anthony Ravielli did not know enough about golf to correct Hogan, the master, and so Hogan’s heralded description of his swing in The Five Lessons created chaos, as people tried to apply these incorrectly used directions which focussed on pronation and supination of the hands -- which as you will learn, was exactly what Hogan DID NOT DO.
I was able to talk at length to Stan leonard, Moe Norman and George Knudson about what Hogan did to apply “his secret” and put their slang language into understandable universal terms.  

What’s the most common problems newcomers make?

    I am not sure of the ‘most common‘ mistake, but I know the most ‘ruinous‘ one:
    That is, the uninitiated golfer ‘breaks down‘ his lead hand at impact, hoping for ‘perfect timing‘ which happens just often enough, to make it hard to convince them to spend one week -- 15 minutes a day, to get it right.  Over a week you can ingrain it and have it on hand for the rest of your golfing days.  (Read the story in ‘Ben Hogan’s Magical Device’ about the last three balls he hit in his 82nd year.)

    What was special about Ben Hogan?

    His determination.  Ben Hogan got so tired of not knowing where the ball was going, that he spent four years, twelve hours a day, in trial and error experimentation to develop his special system so that he could take his impact technique for putting and chipping into long chips, pitches, lobs, half-shots, to the full shot.  With a five foot eight body at 140 pounds, he became not only one of the longest hitters in the game, but also the straightest.  Although his injured left eye degenerated with age, earning him a reputation for poor putting, he was in fact, the most consistent putter on tour -- many times playing major championships without a single three-putt on those slippery championship greens. You will learn to climb the staircase for the ten stages of his swing to the full shot.  You will learn all the parts of the ‘impact-zone’ technique with putting and short chips for one week; then you are ready to climb the staircase which is 55% of our game.

    What’s next for you?

      I’ve been invited to Augusta this Spring to watch the Master’s.  Up to that delightful point, I will continue to nag/cajole/insist that friends who have purchased the two Hogan books will follow his basic formula -- start with 30 short putts (5 feet) to a tee on the putting green -- no holes -- very bad psychology -- or a dime on your carpet; then 30 short (12 feet) chips  . . . both for 7 days.  For homework, watch your form at home in front of a mirror and critique your form (eg.)  No movement below the waist, and your hands DO NOT MOVE . . .the magical device moves them for you. After one week you’re ready for section 2 of Hogan’s swing -- long putts (which will involve a change below the waist.  By the end of the 2nd week you will be a changed golfer in:  short chips and putts, long chips and long putts, pitches and lobs, and should very quickly pick up on half-shots and three-quarter shots. After a week and a half, I broke my age by three strokes.  After three weeks I began a streak of breaking my age nine times in competition.   (The sale of the book went up at my club)
      All best for the enjoyment of this challenging game.

      Wednesday, December 1, 2010

      5 Questions with David Sax, author of Save the Deli


      For those who haven't heard, what's the book about?

      Save the Deli is an in-depth look into the history, culture, and personalities behind the Jewish delicatessen business around the world.  It's also a call to arms, as it were, because the Jewish delicatessen has been disappearing for almost a century, and I'm arguing essentially why we should care, fight for its survival, and eat more deli.

      What'd you learn from your journey?

      At least 320 pages worth of stuff!  But I'd say that no matter where the deli was, whether it was Paris, or Salt Lake City, or New York, the owners all had a common experience, faced common problems, served common foods, and dealt with similar customers.  Though geography and local culture left their imprint, the Jewish deli is like the Jewish experience in the Diaspora...distinct in some ways, but incredibly close in many others.  

      What's the best deli in Toronto?

      I don't have one favorite, but many.  I grew up at Yitz's and Centre Street, love Moe Pancer's and Wolfie's, and because I live downtown, spend a good amount of time at Caplansky's.  

      What's the most interesting deli you've been to?

      Probably Maison David in Paris.  It's just a tiny butcher shop, but the owner, Michel Kalifa, makes the most incredible kosher meats and sausages that just blow your mind.  

      What's next for you?

      Many many sit-ups. 

      5 Questions with Dr. Shefali Tsabary, author of "The Conscious Parent"


      What is a key component of being a conscious parent?

      Becoming a conscious parent is realizing that in order to raise our children well we need tofirst raise ourselves into more connected and spiritually evolved beings. Our children are able to kindle this awakening within us but we are often unable to answer this call.  
      How can one empower their children without letting them get too out of control?

      When we understand that there are two aspects to their development, their essence and their ego, we will be better able to undertake this delicate dance. When we connect with our children’s essence and truly develop a soul partnership with their inner being, we are able to effortlessly empower them at a deep and fundamental level. When they act-out and are defiant, we then understand this to be a manifestation of their ego, not their essence. It is our task as parents to teach them to attune to their essence not their ego. In order to do this then, we need to help them contain their ego.Teaching them to “not get too out of control” is a natural element of conscious parent and emerges directly from the
      relationship we share with them.

      What did it mean to have Eckart Tolle endorse the book?
      To have Eckhart Tolle endorse the book was a blessing indeed! His ability to understand the workings of the ego are pivotal for all of us as we try to free ourselves from its snares and engage with a more awakened state of living and relating.
      What's the most intriguing chapter in the book for yourself?
      I think there are many places in the book where the focus is on this relationship between the ego and the essence. I particularly focus on this relationship because it is here that we get stuck in our own lives and with our children. Understanding the manifestations of both is a key component to awareness and greater inner fulfillment.

      You mention anxiety is a form of doing. What does that mean?
      Anxiety occurs when our mind resists the current situation. It is because we resist the present situation in its as-is form, we feel we need to change it in some form or another. Sometimes we are able to make this change. Yet, at other times this change is difficult. We react to this difficulty from within. A typical way to react to this is through anxiety. It feels as if we are “doing” something
      - as we cannot physically change it so we seek to control it in order ways: worry, obsessions, over-intellectualization, etc. In these ways we feel greater control over our ever-shifting realities. To engage with our present moments in the now is often too daunting. So we react. Anxiety is the most typical reaction.

      5 Questions with Scott Hibbard, author of Religious Politics and Secular States


      1. What inspired this book?

      The initial impetus for the book emerged in the mid-1990’s, when I was working in the Special Initiative on Religion, Ethics and Human Rights at the U.S. Institute of Peace.  During that period, the Egyptian government was in the process of defeating an Islamist militant insurgency.  At the same time, however, books and films were being banned by Islamic censors within the Egyptian government, and a variety of secular intellectuals were being tried in Egyptian courts for apostasy.  The most notable case was that of Nasr Hamid Abu Zayed, but there were others, such as Sayed al-Qumni and Said Ashmawy.  The question in my mind, then, was why the government was winning the battles against insurgent Islamic groups, and yet losing the war?  It was this paradox that prompted my initial research.

      On a deeper level, the inspiration ultimately derives from the fact that I am enormously interested in religion and politics.  I remember vividly my mother’s political activism in the 1960’s and 1970s, and how this was very much intertwined with our Church (which was a non-denominational liberal Protestant church in West Michigan).  In that arena, the fault lines of political conflict on a host of issues – abortion, the environment, etc – were not along class lines, but between different religious denominations (or, more specifically, between different churches).  The main argument of book, in many respects, flows from this basic insight: the fault lines of political conflict often reflect the religious divisions within a given society.

      2. What common elements do the US, India and Egypt have when it comes to religious politics?

      There are several commonalities discussed in the book, of which I will touch on three.  The first is the association of religion and nationalism, and how different interpretations of religion inform differing conceptions of national identity.  In other words, all nationalisms are defined by a high degree of malleability, and typically pit inclusive  – or civic – conceptions of national identity against exclusive – or ethnic – conceptions.  Moreover, differing interpretations of religion, such as modernist and fundamentalism (or what I describe in the book as “liberal” and “illiberal”), inform these competing visions of nationalism and identity.  

      This, then, ties into the second issue: the secular legacy.  During the 1950’s and 1960’s, these three countries were the quintessential examples of secular modernity: Nasser’s Egypt, Nehru’s India and Kennedy’s America.  And, yet, all three cases subsequently witness the rise of chauvinistic religious (or fundamentalist) movements.  The book focuses, then, on explaining why that is the case.  A key part of this narrative is how modernist (or liberal) interpretations of religion helped to inform the secular consensus of the post-WWII era.  Secularism in this sense was an issue of state neutrality in matters of religion, not hostility to religion.

      The third commonality is the way in which the secular legacy was displaced in all three countries.  As I argue in the book, state actors were key defenders of the secular order in the 1950s and 1960s.  This changed, however, in the 1970s and 1980s.  During this latter period, fundamentalist, or theologically conservative, interpretations of religion were invoked by state actors to sanction a new era of conservative politics.  This shift reflected a new era of right-wing populism, which helps to explain the demise of the secular order.  In other words, the changing attitude of mainstream political leaders towards exclusive conceptions of religion and society helps to explain the ideological transformation in each case.  It is not that the secular was overthrown, as much as it was abandoned.

      3. How has the book been received?

      To date, I have received positive feedback, both from external reviewers and from the various talks that I have given on the book (both pre-publication and post-publication).  It definitely fills a niche, in part because of its emphasis upon the instrumental manipulation of religion – and the interactive nature of religious politics – which are key differences from other, related studies.

      4. What was the most interesting part about writing the book?

      The most interesting part of writing this book was clearly the field work.  I spent a fair bit of time living and researching in Egypt (in 2000 and 2002), and in India (2003).  During that period, I conducted interviews with a variety of political actors, journalists, academics and opposition political party members.  In India, I also engaged in extensive archival research, though I did interviews there as well.  The individuals with whom I met, the opportunity to live overseas, and the overall experience was truly formative.  It also provided a unique insight into the countries in question.  

      5. What's next for you?

      I am currently working on book chapters for two separate edited volumes on the topic of religion and politics, and am co-editing a book on Islamic thought and politics with two colleagues.  When these projects are completed, I plan to write a book on Islamic politics and American foreign policy. 

      5 Questions with Nina Dubin, Author of Eighteenth-Century Paris and The Art of Hubert Robert


      For those who don't know, what's the book about?

      On the surface, the book’s about an eighteenth-century French artist who was hugely successful in his day as a painter of ruins. But in a sense, it’s also a book about the present. Art historians generally associate the eighteenth-century love of ruins with the period’s archaeological discoveries and its veneration of ancient Rome. But what the book argues is that the cultural obsession with all things ruinous came about with the dawning of the age of financial uncertainty. The main focus is on a series of Robert’s paintings featuring spectacular scenes of destruction—fires and demolitions, real and imagined. It interprets these within the contexts of real estate speculation in Paris, a volatile stock exchange, and the fluctuations of credit, among others: that is, within a climate of widespread gambling on the future. 

      What was special about Hubert Robert?

      I think he had a special, unmatched capacity for generating sublime, awe-inducing subjects. What he lacked in the way of skill he made up for conceptually, producing impossibly massive, often mystery-filled architectural landscapes. He’s also quite interesting biographically. He had his finger in just about every pie in the cultural buffet: beyond outfitting the homes of the wealthy with his fantastical views of ruins, he built a reputation as a leading designer of gardens at a time when countryside estates were all the rage; he also was one of the first curators at the Louvre. Another remarkable thing about him is that rather than leave Paris during the tumult of the French Revolution—despite that fact that his patrons were fleeing or facing death sentences—he chose to stay, turning down Catherine the Great’s invitation to work for her in St. Petersburg as court artist; consequently he spent eight months in prison and narrowly escaped the guillotine. 

      How did he influence the world of art?

      In the most immediate way, he spent eleven years in Rome building up a repertory of ruin motifs which were mined by neoclassical artists and architects—most famously Boullée and Ledoux—back in Paris. But one can speculate that traces of his paintings—particularly those featuring urban disasters—reside in more recent art as well. For instance, he and the Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang—who orchestrates large-scale, pyrotechnic “explosion events” involving gunpowder—might be thought of as bookending the risk-courting artistic tradition, with Turner in that trajectory as well.     

      Which one of his works struck the biggest chord with you?

      I have a soft spot for a gigantic work at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art that epitomizes his nack for architectural drama: it features skyscraper-like fountains and trees, and miniscule figures wandering a vast, endless staircase that leads to some ambiguous destination. Other chord-strikers: his 1796 pendant paintings of the Grand Gallery of the Louvre museum while it was still undergoing renovation. The first view shows the gallery as it will look upon its completion; the second imagines the same scene in a future state of ruin. A few years later, the artist Joseph Gandy followed Robert’s lead and produced two views of the newly completed Bank of England—the first in its renovated state, and the second as a dilapidated structure. Together, these fascinating and enigmatic works point to the ways in which ruins stirred ideas of the past and future alike.  

      What's next for you?

      At the moment, I’m working on a project on prints of ruins produced in Revolution-era Europe; I’m also interested in writing a history of the relationship of art and finance from the eighteenth century to the present. 

      Saturday, November 27, 2010

      5 Questions with , author of Get your Lower Back Pain under Control


      Is there any quick usable tip you could give to improve your back pain?

      Improve your physical conditioning. The more fit you are, the better shape you are in to manage your pain.

      What chapter was the most interesting to write?

      Instead of a chapter, I would say the Preface was most interesting to write because it combines all of the areas and forced me to discuss them in one section.

      How can hypnosis be used to remove back pain?

      Hypnosis teaches your brain a different way to process sensory signals.

      What is the most inspiring story about removing lower back pain you've heard?

      The stories of my patients who have resumed a normal life after seemingly having it destroyed by their pain.

      What's next for you?

      I plan on writing another consumer oriented book but focusing on the neck.

      5 Questions with Roger Barker, author of The Effective Board


      1) What makes an effective board?

      An effective board must provide the organisation with a coherent and easily understandable mission. It should ensure that its vision and values are communicated and applied at all levels of the company. It is likely to play an important role in developing company strategy, and will rigorously test strategic proposals that are made to it by executive management. It will carefully monitor the performance of the executive team without intruding on their operational responsibilities, and may have to take tough decisions about the leadership of the company. Last but not least, it must ensure that the company has a constructive relationship with its shareholders and other stakeholders to whom it is ultimately accountable for the stewardship of the company.

      2) What's the most effective board you've seen?

      Often the most effective boards are those that you don’t see. They are quietly succeeding in steering companies towards their objectives. This is happening every day in those companies that are demonstrating sustainable success over the longer term. Boards often become high profile after things have gone wrong.

      3) What's a good way to start creating an effective board?

      A key issue is to recognise that a successful senior executive is not a ready-made director. A board member must take a much wider perspective than an executive with responsibility for a single operational area. Aside from appointing individuals with the necessary breadth of vision, training and professional development can play an important role. New directors should recognise that they need new skills and perspectives which have not necessarily been perfected in their executive careers.

      4) Where can you network to meet people that would make an effective board?

      National institutes of directors are obvious networking opportunities for people with an interest in the role of the board and the application of sound corporate governance. But effective directors can potentially emerge from many areas of life. It is a mistake to believe that an effective non-executive director should necessarily come from an executive management background. Consulting, the professions, academia, journalism and the public and voluntary sectors could all be fertile breeding grounds for aspiring directors.

      5) What's next for you?

      At the IoD we are committed to assisting directors in all aspects of their boardroom role. This involves disseminating best practice and providing practical advice to boards in both the private and public sectors. We are also working hard to ensure that government appreciates the perspective of business, and directors in particular, in their economic and commercial policies.

      5 Questions with Jim Masselos, author of The Great Empires of Asia


      What was the most intriguing empire? 
      In a volume with 7 excellent studies from 7 authors about 7 extraordinary empires it is difficult to answer the question adequately– each empire in its own right is intriguing – each had an amazing trajectory across the face of Asia or parts of it. Each was unique with styles of governance and cultures very much their own. Above all each was innovative and creative, each adding to the sum of human knowledge and its store of what was beautiful or remarkable. What is intriguing is how such achievements were transmuted out of the violence and chaos that characterised the beginnings of these empires.

      Which image struck you the most in the book?
      There are so many extraordinary images it is impossible to select only one. As one looks through the book images merge into spectacular assertions of diverse creative experience. There is for instance the individual and cumulative impact of great Muslim buildings: here mosques, tombs and palaces from Turkey, Iran and India fuse into an overall impression of intricate splendour and singular aesthetic expression. Then there are the extraordinary massive Buddhist structures of the Khmer empire, and the delicate restraints of Ming art. The extended sweep of the Mongol steppes makes as striking an image as do the Japanese prints of western-apparelled warriors caught at their most intense.

      What is the most underrated or overlooked empire?
      For a long time Khmer sites were overlooked given that their monumental structures were embedded in a spreading jungle controlled in the recent past by the Pol Pot regime. But a sense of their grandeur remained: Angkor seems always to have had surrounding it a mystique all its own. In some ways however the most overlooked of the empires has been the Mongol whose reputation has long been only for their ferocious and lightening quick military conquests. That Mongols ruled most of Asia and a significant portion of Europe is part of their achievement but so too are the arts they and their successors nurtured.

      How long did the book take to complete?
      Work on the book started in 2007 when I began discussing the concept with Terka Acton at Thames and Hudson. Most of this was done through emails – lots of them. I then approached specialists in specific empires to persuade them to draw their detailed research together into interpretive overviews of the empires they had studied. What makes their chapters special is the enthusiasm and freshness of their approach, and their mastery of detail. Collectively the book breaks new ground in its wide-ranging sweep, in how it provides a perspective into some of the world’s greatest empires – and in doing so illuminates empires unfamiliar to most of us.

      What is next for you?
      My next project leads me away from the macro view of Asian empires to take an intensive look at some of its fascinating detail.  I will be tracing the life story of the late Raj Mata (Queen Mother) of Kutch in western India. In doing so I will be drawing on many sessions with her in India over the years as she told me her stories of her life as the young bride of the Crown Prince and of her later experiences in a changed world after Indian Independence. It too is a fascinating story.







      5 Questions with Bernard Fontana & Edward McCain, authors of A Gift of Angels


      Which chapter was the most intriguing for you?
      After the introduction, the chapters describe specific areas within the church.  Virtually all the stories of the lives of the saints (there are 64 of them represented in the church) I found to be intriguing.  But when it comes to the marriage of art with story telling, the sanctuay (Chapter 9) probably stands out.  Here we find God the Father; the story of Christ's birth from the Annunciation and Visitation to the Nativity and Adoration of the Magi; the patron of the mission (San Francisco Xavier); Christiaity's earliest martyrs (Saints Lawrence and Stephen); a quarter of Apostles; and the Immaculate Conception as Tota Pulchra -- in paintings as well as in sculptured art enhanced by lavish use of gold and silver leaf on plaster surfaces.  That's a remarkable undertaking, certainly unique in North America!

      There are many stunning photos in the book, which one is your favorite?
      I have two.  One is the view of the mission from the northeast (Fig. 1.1), a perspective which to my knowledge has never before appeared in print.  It's almost as if the church were cited in Morocco or elsewhere in North Africa rather than in southern Arizona.  My other favorite image is that in Fig. 1.6 which shows much of the interior of the church as the priest sees it from the sanctuary.

      Why do you feel this is an important book for readers to check out?
      Anyone with an interest in Christianity, in its meaning and history, and in the ways in which these have been represented visually, is likely to find this book of more than passing interest.  The art of Mission San Xavier del Bac, with its extraordinary depth and breadth, is universal Christian art.  It is incidental that this treasure left to us by New Spain is located in Arizona in the Sonoran Desert.  Its message, and its beauty, are transcendent.

      What did you learn from the process of putting the book together?
      Although Roman Catholicism is my religion, spending more than a decade in deciphering the religious imagery of Mission San Xavier made me realize how shallow my knowledge and understanding of the Church had been.  I found myself on a daily voyage of discovery.  The mission became almost as a university for me, one provoking curiosity and challenging my intellect.  I was reminded once again there are few aspects of life more important than learning and, thereby, growing.

      What's next for you?
      Given that I will be 80 years old in fewer than two months, I shudder to think!  But I am contemplating writing my memoirs about a life which for nearly 60 years has been daily divided between academia and  the reality of living within fifteen feet of an Indian reservation with neighbors whose life experiences and worldviews are very different than those with which I grew up.  Its working title: Mesquite Wine: A Memoir.