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.







5 Questions with Aaron McKinney, author of The Unruly Alphabet


How'd this book come about?

I’ve always been interested in books that straddled the line between child and adult audiences.  Edward Gorey who is a huge inspiration of mine and he was a master of that.  With this book I pushed that concept and made it a children’s book strictly for adults letting me get away with a lot of really inappropriate subjects in a playful light.

Which letter did you feel evoked the most emotion and best illustration?

I’m not really sure. I have a few favorites A&B were fun to do Y&Z is one of my favorites and with G&H it was fun to draw something throwing up.  It’s been fun to see what people consider their favorites, with each person it seems to be different.

What's the best compliment you've received on the book?

I had somebody tell me it was unlike any other book they had ever seen, I thought that was pretty cool considering the amount of books out there.

By anthropomorphizing every letter in the alphabet, when you read do you look at things in a very different way?

It’s funny I do, I also pay a lot more attention to fonts after hand drawing all the text in the book.  It also made me think about the history behind the letters and words themselves which leads into the next question.

What's next for you?

I’ve been working on an illustrated  book on etymology, a brief history of curse words and other strange everyday sayings.  So far it’s been loads of fun to work on.  I’ve also got a true children’s book in the works.





5 Questions with Galen Smith, author of New York Dick


What inspired the book?

Whenever you ride the subway in New York you see a lot of scrawled on and defaced advertising posters. On the subway platforms the posters are right there at eye level so you're always physically interacting with the ad, standing in front of it, leaning on it, writing on it if you want too.

I had been seeing all kinds of defacements on the posters for years and never really thought about them, they just seemed like part of the visual clutter. I liked their crassness, but whatever was going on seemed to be vague and minor, the ad was in charge. But whenever I mentioned seeing a particularly notable example of a schlong attacking a superstar people would always remember similar examples and recount the weird details of the drawing style, the pop personality involved, and where the thing was sticking, or growing.

So in a sense I began to notice the obvious. A loud pushy statement is made by the voice in charge of the situation (the ad), but at the very moment that I am "consuming" the advertising statement these rude graphics make clear how strange, fake and self absorbed the whole statement is. This upsetting of the expected is what made the dirty doodles funny, and not just lewd or hateful. The statement of disrespect was a fair one, and one we all understood.

This odd graphic communication fascinated me. It was an amazing blend of elements; a graphic icon filled with various meanings, a new meaning created out of old, and power co-opted by an artful yet stupid drawing. And the idiocy of the graphic was part of the kryptonite-like power of the whole enterprise. No matter how superhuman an ad was it was made feeble by a penis being drawn on it. I started taking photos and keeping notes, over time I began to feel that the documentation of a bunch of dingus drawings could make an interesting travelogue of the advertising landscape.


What's your personal favorite pic?

Picking a favorite image from so many ridiculous examples is very difficult, they're all special and stupid in their own way. But one of my favorites is the next to last image in the book. On a poster that carried the headline "Now Every Guy Can Get Some" an immature genius restates the obvious by drawing a big wang on one of the stars of the show. Interestingly it's entering the front of his thick skull and emerging out the back, leaving the nuts dangling on his forehead and the star looking a little perplexed. Unexpected and brilliant, a little hairy too.

What drives people to deface advertising?

I think there are several factors, boredom and the accessibility of writing instruments being one. But I think there are also some emotional motivators too. Many of the ads seem to be really begging to be taken down a notch, they're annoying you as if you can't do anything about it. But on a New York subway platform people have a rare opportunity to show an ad how they really feel about the pitch, and also to show this comment to all the other viewers of the ad. It's as if you were watching a TV commercial that you have seen dozens of times and are totally sick of, but instead of putting up with it or changing the channel you step right into the commercial and start giving all the actors the finger, or mooning them. It's a rare chance to give back some of the respect and cleverness that ads have given us all these years.

What's the best compliment you've received on the book?

Positive remarks tend to come in two related forms. Some people react to the off-color humor in many of the images, and relate to the disrespectful and contrary aspect of the defacements. Others have more of an affection for the grass roots defusing of the powerful media/consumer/industrial complex. In a way both takes are related and both feel right to me. And really, who doesn't get the message sent by drawing a tiny penis attacking the rump of a mega-star in fat suit. It's all true in it's own way.

What's next for yourself?

I'm still attracted to the weirdness, rudeness, and humor of defaced posters, and I'm continuing to document and share them with anyone who cares to see the truth, at least the truth that's brought forth by drawing penises on schills and superstars.

5 Questions with Mike Schreiber , author of True Hip-Hop












Sunday, November 14, 2010

Q&A with Donna Sturgess, author of Eyeballs Out

 What's the book about for those who don't know?
Eyeballs Out is about the power of immersive experiences to generate novel ideas for business growth.  In an immersion both the body and mind work together to stimulate conductive thinking--something business has not been tapping before.  From a personal perspective, immersions are  also a powerful way to drive individual growth. In the back section of the book I give examples of immersions teams or individuals can go on. 

What's the most interesting chapter for yourself?

The most interesting chapter for me is the first one, Thrill.  This chapter has struck a chord with many readers and I am receiving a good bit of email asking me to do more writing on the subject. So I am encouraged by the thoughtful commentaries I am getting to the subject of thrill, something people are looking for more of in their professional and personal lives.

How has it been received?

In addition to the feedback from business leaders  I was delighted that has posted a story on the book and is adding it to their leadership book list. has also taken an interest in the book.  

5 questions with Mr. Federico Ferrari, author of Living in Berlin


How did the idea for this book?

The book was brought by 24 hours culture, in view of the fact that I have been a part of my research for doctoral thesis in Berlin and I lived there several times for several months.

What it means to live in Berlin?

I think it means, at least at this time, before the situation is "normalized" as is inevitable, the opportunity to be in a unique condition: that of a city full of symbols and history at the same time projected into the future like no other. For this rich stimuli and also uncertainties and contingencies. But without the uprooting some 'alienating many contemporary megalopolis, which I believe to reach its peak in the cities of Asia which, overwhelmed by a strong expansion. Certainly also interesting and challenging, but if the dynamism of Berlin is not so violent and confusing. This is a very strong force and perceptible, but at the same time reassuring, allowing everyone to find their size. I think the real strength of Berlin and the inconsistency and heterogeneity. As I wrote, its "porosity."

What image in the book has hit the most?

I think the most important projects are those in more central areas, where the comparison with the surroundings is as inevitable as more challenging. One of the most interesting in this regard is that of Joerg Ebers in Augustrasse 26. The point here is how to get the Committee up to a lot of very small and confined between two existing buildings, the most difficult challenge for an architect, interior flooded with light through large openings, which at the same time make the front a game of squares and rectangles offset. A similar principle is also found in another building in the book: the house of Busman Haberer in Pappelalee 21. In this case, the expedient of rectangular forms arranged freely on the front is more pronounced, particularly through the use of color and larger apartments.

What is the misconception about Berlin?

Berlin is a typical German city. As also in the case of other urban German stereotype of Germany as a country and icy "cold" is often wrong, for Berlin is totally out of place. Or rather, maybe Berlin is the extreme contradictions inherent in the soul of the German, who often live a constant tension between a markedly northern inevitable and irresistible attraction for the Mediterranean. Berlin embodies the best of this bipolarity: it is both Prussian - orderly, efficient, compact - and southern - broken, lively, full of "gaps", ie opportunities. But perhaps this affects the extreme proximity to the Slavic world. In short, Berlin is a melting pot identity, so it is difficult to describe in a synthetic image. Its strength is its ineffability.

What will your next book?

I deal with urban history and urban planning. For this reason Berlin is a case study very interesting and I intend to further deepen the knowledge that I derived from his attendance at a fairly constant in recent years. I plan also considered that next year will be a collaboration with the Institut d'Urbanisme de Paris, a publication about Paris and projects launched by Nicolas Sarkozi in "Le Grand Paris", a competition of ideas to imagine the future of the French capital.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

5 Questions with Randy Shaw, author of Beyond the Fields

How'd the book come to be?

I knew many people who had gone from working for the United Farmworkers (UFW) in their twenties to devoting the rest of their lives to enhancing social justice. I felt that the UFW’s role as the great activist and organizing incubator of its time had not been written about, and that people would be interested in learning how this one social movement has had such lasting and ongoing influence.

What was the most interesting chapter to write?

My favorite chapter describes how the UFW grape boycott created leadership opportunities for women, Latinos, and young people that were not otherwise available in labor struggles, and how a sense of community was created among the thousands of volunteers working long days for $5 a week plus room and board. The notion of getting supermarkets across North America to stop selling grapes seemed like an impossible quest, and it was fun writing about how this strategy succeeded.

What's the main message you'd like to get out there through it?

People should evaluate the legacy of Cesar Chavez and the UFW not by current union membership roles, but by the people the farmworkers’ movement inspired to lifelong commitments to activism, and by the ideas and strategies it generated that still set the course for many of today’s social movements. Barack Obama’s 2008 grassroots presidential campaign has its roots in the UFW electoral outreach of the 1960’s and 70’s (“Yes We Can” is the UFW’s rallying cry, “Si Se Puede”), the immigrant rights movement was greatly influenced by UFW alumni and ideas, and no organization has provided as many opportunities for idealistic young people to engage in fulltime organizing work as did the UFW in its heyday.

What kind of man was Cesar Chavez?

A far more religious and deeply spiritual man than people realize, and whose own sense of sacrifice for the good of farmworkers inspired others. Chavez’s family owned a house before losing it and becoming farmworkers. I think knowing a better life, combined with his own negative experiences in the fields, compelled Chavez to take on the seemingly impossible task of organizing California farmworkers.

What's next for you?

I am very involved in improving and promoting San Francisco’s Uptown Tenderloin Historic District, and expect my next book to focus on this unique community where I have worked since 1980.

5 Questions with Andrew Podnieks, author of Retired Numbers


Which number hasn't been retired but should?

Rob Blake's number 4 in Los Angeles should be retired, I think. Although he only hung up his skates this past year, the team has yet to announce any such honour.

Which number retirement ceremony was the most emotional for the player having his number retired?

So many answers to this, but if I had to choose one, I'd say Bobby Orr's number 4 in Boston. The ovation was incredible and brought tears to the usually stoic Orr.

You've written about several hockey players in the game, is there a player that you've encountered that stands out as the most interesting and one that was the nicest of the bunch?

It would be easier to consider who hasn't been nice! Almost every player I've met or dealt with has been courteous and friendly.

You've penned over 55 books, which one meant the most to you?

Two books stand out. The first is called Players, which came out several years ago and features biographies of every NHLer. It's about 1,000 pages and nearly a million words and consumed my every moment for a long time. The other is the Official IIHF Media Guide & Record Book which just published and is available at It has the complete history of international hockey, every player, every country, every game, since 1920. Nothing like it exists elsewhere. These are the two books of which I am particularly proud.

What project are you working on next?

"Next books" are always a bit of a secret until they're published!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

5 Questions with Anthony J. Blazevich, author of Sports Biomechanics


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

This book could be classed as a hybrid between a standard, University-level sports biomechanics (physics for sport) text book and a mass market ‘how to do it’ book for people interested in improving their sports/exercise performance. The book details all the important physics-related information that is important for improving performance in pursuits ranging from running, throwing, hitting and swimming to basketball shooting and rugby tackling.

How'd the idea for it come about?

Probably like many people who decide to write something like this, the idea was borne out of my frustrations with current texts. Essentially, most students don’t enjoy maths and physics, so they don’t tend to want to read a maths/physics text book in their spare time, even when the examples given in the book sports related. The difficulty for me as a teacher then was to try to help students to understand quite complex phenomena without them also spending time learning for themselves. I’d worked a lot with coaches and athletes over many years and knew that they loved to hear about the basic science that underpinned sports performance, and many of them were amazed when they realised that the techniques they were coaching had no scientific basis (they were also excited when they adopted a different, scientifically viable technique that immediately and markedly improved performance!). So it didn’t take much of a leap to realise that it could be a great thing to write a book where the ‘ideal’ sporting techniques are explained from a physics perspective. So I started working with the idea that a textbook could be written such that each chapter answered an interesting question about sporting technique, and in order to read learn the answer the reader would learn about the physics along the way. So I developed a list of all the important concepts that were important to know and then married them with a question that I’d known coaches and athletes had wanted to know the answer to. For example, many coaches are surprised at how the elbow angle changes dramatically as the arm swings during fast running (many coaches still teach that the elbow should maintain a 90 degree) so I could teach the correct technique whilst explaining the concept of conservation of angular momentum (OK, you’ll have to read the book to find out what that is). Another example is that many students didn’t realise why swimmers spend so much time underwater in a competitive race when there should be more drag when swimming underwater than on top of it, so I was able to teach the difference between form drag and wave drag and thus explain why staying underwater might be useful. Students and coaches can then use this knowledge to optimise techniques in other sports.

What's the main concept or idea you want to get out to your readers?

The main concept I’m trying to get across is that all forms of movement, including the movements we make when playing sports or doing exercise, are subject to physical laws. These laws are common sense and are not difficult to understand if one takes a few minutes to really think about them. Once you understand these laws you can apply them to a movement in order to perform that movement better. So understanding physics, or in the case of this book understanding biomechanics (the physics related to biological systems), allows us to perform all of our movements optimally. Of course, in a university-level course we also have to learn the maths behind the theories, but by explaining a concept before introducing the maths, most students can see that the maths is simply a short-hand way of explaining the concept. It’s really not scary.

Which section of the book was most interesting for you to write?

I’d love to say that I loved writing the ‘Interview with an Expert’ sections because I think it’s so interesting to hear how some of the world’s top coaches and biomechanists use their knowledge or work with athletes, and to read about what characteristics they think are important in the best biomechanists. I think it’s quite unique for a book to have these extras. But of course I didn’t actually write them, so I can’t claim they were the best bits to write. So instead of telling you which part of the book I enjoyed writing the most, I would probably say that my favourite part of the process was to decide which 17 questions (for the 17 topic areas covered) I thought most sports people (and students) really wanted to learn about and then find a way to teach all the biomechanics concepts that need to be covered in an undergraduate university course…it wasn’t an easy task but it was an enjoyable and creative one!

What's next for yourself?

I work as a biomechanics lecturer and researcher so I can probably say I’m already in my dream job…it’s not a tough life to teach or research important questions in my favourite scientific area all day. I do have other ideas for books that I think would be of great interest to a lot of people, but unfortunately time is not a commodity I have in abundance. I think I need to find better techniques to improve work, rather than movement, efficiency.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

5 Questions for the authors of "People Of Walmart"


Are you surprised the site took off so well?

We started this site as a small joke that we thought some of our friends would get a kick out of. Obviously when you start a website you have the hopes and thoughts that it might be the next facebook, but we were very surprised at how popular it really became and how quickly it became so popular. We believed we had a funny site that almost everyone could relate to but for it to go viral and crash our servers with the amount of traffic we were generating was definitely something we didn’t anticipate, but we’re glad it did.

What's your favorite picture?

There are so many great pictures we receive, and over a year later the fact that I’m still shocked when we get a great submission is crazy! One of our personal favorites was our first “picture of the month” winner, which was a guy with crazy hair, a tie-die shirt covered in gold paint, and his mouth was covered in gold paint like he was huffing it. If that wasn’t enough his entire shopping cart was filled with cans of gold spraypaint. Our most famous picture however is “front to back” which has appeared in many articles and on Tosh.O on comedy central. It depicts a woman whose shirt makes it look like she has big boobs on her back.

How is Walmart different in the US compared to other countries?

Believe it or not, when it comes to crazy things, I don’t think there is much of a difference. We have received several pictures from other countries and you still see some crazy off the wall things. I think most of that can be contributed to the fact that Walmart is so large and attracts so many people and so many different people that you are bound to see something crazy. Now in America you might see these things more often, and maybe because there are so many people that have the “I could care less” mindset or chalk it up to American laziness, but I think you can find that all over the world. For us it’s difficult to really judge because of the cultural differences. For instance we posted picture from Walmarts in China that show meat laying out not in protected wrap laying in bins. Now to us that is crazy, but in China Walmart has to adapt to that style so they can compete with the road side vendors. There are cultural differences and there is crazy, personally I believe both exist.

What's the best and worst thing about Walmart?

For us, the best part about Walmart is the fact that it attracts everyone from all walks of life. It’s one of the few places where it doesn’t matter what race, gender, or age you are they have something that brings you there. It’s one of the few places you can park next to a brand new Lexus and a van covered in dinosaur toys. I really believe it’s a microcosm of America.

As to the worst part about Walmart, we really don’t have anything against them. They have enough people who hate them for driving out small businesses or disagree with their labor policies or you name it, someone hates them. We shop there, we still shop there, and we will continue to do so. It’s convenient, bottom line. I suppose we could say that people are TOO comfortable shopping there, but for us that’s not a bad thing, that’s what we rely upon to run the website!

Any more projects on the horizon?

We are still working to get some sort of iphone app for the site in place. We had one up for a day that reached #234 in a matter of 12 hours but it was pulled back down by Apple and they refused to reconsider it. So we continue to look for a way to give our fans what they are asking for. We continue to add fantastic blogs to our network that otherwise might not get any attention. We were fortunate enough to go viral, but there are a lot of great blogs out there that people simply don’t know about. Hopefully our book continues to do well and the demand is out there for a second, but It’s a little too soon to be thinking about that. And of course, who knows, with all of these blogs and internet sensations becoming TV shows recently maybe someone will want to make a PeopleofWalmart show!....I’m guessing it might have to be someone like HBO since some of our content might not be suitable for basic cable! (laughs)

5 Questions with Tom Vandenberghe, author of Bangkok Street Food


What inspired this book?

I lived in Thailand for a while (2 years) when organizing culinary trips for a travel agency in Belgium. It struck me how Thai people are obsessed with food and how much this is a part of their social life and behaviour. Food and especially hawker food is plenty full in Thailand, you could say it's the heart and soul of Thai cooking. As a first time visitor it is hard to find your way trough the maze of street food stalls. In writing the "Bangkok street food" book, I tried to help the reader how to recognize certain food stalls and their typical dishes. The book is as much a guide book as a cooking book. Out of a passion of street food and the culture of eating out in the streets which I wanted to share with other people with the same interest.

What's special about Bangkok street food?

We managed to do all photography on the field, no studio work in this book, this helps to identify the dishes at the food stalls and is quite exceptional for a cooking book. The book is as much a guide book as a cooking book.

What are the people like in Bangkok?

People in Thailand are generally open and friendly toward tourist. Thai people like to help and please people. In Bangkok, like in many cities around the world the hasty and busy life of a city reflects itself in the social behaviour, but even then Bangkokians and Thai are still people that like to enjoy eating and life in itself?

There are many beautiful images in the book, anyone stand out to you as the best?

The picture on the front page where the girl is cooking and launching at the same time. Not only because I ate probable hundreds of times at her food stall but it reflect the posting attitude towards life and the passion for cooking.

What's your favorite dish?

Tom yam kung, probably Thailand's most famous dish. The sourness of the lemongrass, galanga ginger, Kaffir lime leaves and spiceness of the chillies make this dish a taste and experience that you will never forget.

Q&A with Kevin Williams, editor of "The Amish Cook's Anniversary Book "

For those who don't know, what's your book about?
The Amish Cook's Anniversary Book celebrates 20 years of Amish Cook columns. The Amish Cook column is a syndicated feature appearing in over 100 newspapers in the States. For people unfamiliar with the column, this book offers a great primer and a perfect gateway to "catching up" quickly on the past two decades.

What's your favorite recipe in the book?
The pumpkin roll on page 268 is really amazing! Delicious!

What's a perfect Amish breakfast for yourself?
Eggs, fresh bacon, homemade sausage gravy, homemade biscuits, toast, cheese, cookies, and coffee soup.

Which dessert is the most popular amongst the Amish community?

Homemade ice cream, page 231 is probably a favorite.....surprisingly it is often made in winter, it's not a summer treat...Amish have access to plenty of ice in the winter, not so much in the summer (without having electricity, there are no freezers for ice).

Which soup recipe would you recommend most?
The zucchini soup on page 57 is amazingly flavorful and filling, so that is a great choice!

5 Questions with the authors of "Fuhgeddaboudit!"

What inspired this book?
The current Jersey Shore craze inspired the book. The stereotypes we poke fun at in the book have been around forever, but with the popularity of Jersey Shore we realized that it was a time for a book like this on the market.

What are your thoughts on the show Jersey Shore?
It’s outrageous. We understand why some Italians are offended, but you need to just laugh at the show because it is so ridiculous. A lot of their behavior isn’t because they are Italian. Put any group of 20-somethings in a house on the shore and you’ll find the same things going on.

What's the easiest way to spot a Guido?
It’s all in the attitude really. The strong scent of Axe and cigars doesn’t hurt either. Look for big muscles, tight shirts (preferably Ed Hardy), and lots of gel.

What's the best and worst attributes of a Guido?
The best attribute of a Guido is their love of family and friends. I think the best scenes on the Jersey Shore are when they sit down for Sunday dinner. That’s what it’s all about. The worst attributes are the cockiness and willingness to throw a punch at the drop of a dime.

How can you spot a Guida?
We don’t discriminate in the book. There are lots of “guida” or “guidette” entries in there as well. The best way to spot a Guida is the size of her hair and the length of her nails.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

5 Questions with Naomi Harris, author of America Swings

How do you come up with the concept for the book?

The concept for America Swings came about while I was living in Miami. I had moved there to photograph the residents of Haddon Hall Hotel,the last hotel in South Beach that allowed senior citizens to live there. When I wasn’t working I used to go to the nude beach. I didn’t know at first that a fair amount of these nudists were also swingers. One Sunday night, shortly before I moved away from Miami in 2002, I was invited by my friend Ron, a fellow beach goer, to be his “date” and go to a swing club (single men are not allowed to attend). He knew I was a photographer and thought I would find the scene interesting. It was in a strip mall in a very commercial part of town. Non-descript, downright seedy from the outside, but inside there was a dance floor and a large buffet complete with a chef in white with a big chef’s hat carving roast beef and serving scalloped potatoes. Everyone stuffed themselves and then 20 minutes later retired to the back room to engage in sex. You were not permitted to enter the back dressed; you had to change into a towel. As a nudist I was fine with that, as a young lady I felt like a piece of sirloin.

We went in the group sex room, which was more or less a row of about six mismatched beds pushed together. This was the first time I had ever seen anyone having sex in person. My friend leaned over to me and said “isn’t that hot?” and I nodded in agreement, but it was all I could do to contain my laughter. I found the whole situation to be hilarious perhaps because everyone else was taking it so seriously. We stayed and watched for a couple of hours but neither of us did anything. That was the understanding; I was his guest but he had no expectations of me whatsoever. When we left I knew I had to start photographing this, because no one would believe me when I told stories of what I’d seen, like the woman at 3:00 in the morning picking food from the breakfast buffet stark naked but for her heels. And I wasn’t aware of anyone who had really photographed this before.

When I returned to New York I began researching a variety of swing parties but it would be another year and a half before I began photographing. I decided on Swingstock, a four day camping and fornication festival that was held in the summer time in Wisconsin partily because I had seen it on the HBO show “Real Sex” so I knew the party organizers would be alright with having someone photographing their event. This party would be the first of about 38 parties shot over the next 48 months.

What's a big misconception about Swingers?

I think a lot of people think swingers are sexual deviants that would hump anything if given the chance but that's just not true. Swingers tend to be Caucasian, in their mid 30s to mid 50s, from the middle to upper-middle class, and are better educated than the average American. While they tend to be liberal it is usually only in their attitude towards sex as many of them are from religious Christian homes. I myself found this odd that you could have people fucking all Saturday night long only to get up the next morning to go to church. But I learned that many did not believe swinging to be a sin as having consensual sex with others with your partner present isn’t considered to be adultery. That was the biggest surprise, how conservative and straight laced many of these people would appear to be to the outside world with the exception of their penchant for extramarital sex with numerous partners.

What did you learn from this experience?

Good question. I guess I can say that I after seeing that much sex I became desensitized, sort of like someone who works in the porn industry. For me being at these parties it was all about the composition and the lighting rather than me actually observing sex. I think that helped me get through it in the end. My libido was certainly affected by this project. But I also learned a lot about human nature and my own limitations as far as sex goes. I always likened myself to be a bit of a wild child but at the end of the day I’m just plain old vanilla.

Were people shy about being photographed?

Swingers are perhaps the most out there, exhibitionistic group I’ve ever met. Everything is turned into a dirty joke that revolves around sex. And while many could not participate in being photographed for fear of losing their jobs or family, I really do think most of the swingers appreciated the fact that I wanted to promote their lifestyle in a positive manner. They allowed me into their community even though I am not a swinger myself because I embraced what they were doing. I dressed the role: if the party was a lingerie themed event I too wore a teddy, if it was a nude pool party, I photographed in the buff as well (except for my tool belt). I really think it’s important to embrace whatever culture you are trying to document and I believe they appreciated the efforts I made. Sure I had people hit on me and try to get me to participate at the parties but I graciously declined and no one seemed to mind, they would simply move onto the next person.

Who were the most interesting swingers you met?

That's really a tough one, like asking a parent who their favourite child is. I certainly hold certain people dear to my heart because they either looked out for me or opened their homes to be to photograph in. I did find that many swingers would try to take care of me and take me under their wing at these parties. Here I was, a young single girl traveling across the country by myself attending sex parties. I guess they felt the need to keep a friendly watch over me. I guess that's what's really amazing about swingers, the fact that society tends to think of them as being lust hungry and out for one thing when really swingers tend to be very sweet and caring people. I went to clubs where I saw people raising money to pay for a fellow swingers hospital bills. Or help rebuild a club members home that burned down in a fire. You don't see that every day in the "vanilla" world.

5 Questions with Leah Wilson, editor, Filled With Glee

Why has this show caught on so well with North Americans?

That’s a hard question to answer, I think, because Glee gives viewers a lot to like—there’s something for almost everybody. It taps into the same love of watching talented people perform that made American Idol so popular. It’s full of sharp, funny one-liners and over-the-top characters—but at the same time it’s very earnest, almost painfully sincere, and manages to keep its characters so relatable that they can bring us to tears. There’s something to love in every single episode, whether it’s a piece of clever choreography, an off-hand observation from Brittany, or a meaningful lesson about inclusiveness.

It’s hard to not like Glee. Even people who criticize the show still seem charmed, almost despite themselves. The show’s energy, and its attitude, is just infectious.

Why should Glee fans check out this book?

Because reading this book will make Glee better—or at least, it will make you appreciate Glee even more. Filled With Glee is like a companion guide on steroids: It includes the usual episode guide, with detailed song lists and trivia and biographies. But it also gives you a dozen very smart, very funny people sharing their thoughts on Glee. Working on this book has changed the way I watch the show, and for the better.

Are glee clubs getting more popular now because of the program?

I don’t know that I’m qualified to answer this question, but my guess is that the answer is yes. One of our contributors, Jamie Chambers, wrote a piece for the book with tips for starting a glee club in your high school or community . . . and ended up forming his own group as a result.

Thanks to Glee, glee clubs have definitely been given a reputation upgrade. The characters in Glee may be at the bottom of the high school hierarchy, but the show itself is at the top of the television heap.

Which episode was the most exciting to watch for you?

It’s hard to pick an episode, actually—but I can certainly pick moments (and unsurprisingly, most of those moments are songs). Artie’s “Safety Dance”; more recently, “The Time Warp” (how amazing was Chris Colfer’s Riff Raff?). “Don’t Stop Believin’” from the pilot still makes my heart clench every time. Actually, if I had to pick, I might just pick the pilot. It was so sharp, and so funny, and so fresh, that it’s hard for anything that followed to really match its impact.

What was your favorite chapter of the book?

Let me dodge this question the same way I tried to do the last question: I can’t pick a favorite essay, but I can give you some of my favorite parts of essays. I love Claudia Gray’s insightful encapsulation of Glee’s storytelling style (“the show often takes a story, pushes it past humor to a place that’s borderline uncomfortable, and then finds its way to a graceful, meaningful conclusion”). I love Jennifer Crusie’s description of Sue as “the salt in Glee’s chocolate soufflĂ©.” I love the way Jonna Rubin takes Will to task (and her horror at his weakness for old-school hip-hop). I love that A.M. Dellamonica calls Finn and Puck frenemies, and I love the way Gregory Stevenson treats glee club as a character in its own right.

I also love every single one of our “Share Your Glee” stories: the winning submissions from Glee fans about how the show has affected them. Because that’s the best thing about Glee, and the thing that I think Filled With Glee shows more than anything else: how the show has touched its viewers’ lives.

5 Questions with John Torinu, author of “The Company That Solved Health Care”

How did this book come about?

The book came to life through the experiences of taming run-away costs of health care at my company, Serigraph Inc. We simply couldn't afford the hyper-inflation any more, not if we wanted to keep offering a full package of benefits to our co-workers. So, I asked them to help me manage health and health costs in innovative ways. They responded and we have tamed the beast. I thought the rest of the country should know about what's possible with grassroots reforms. Hence, the book.

What was the most intriguing chapter to write?

I think the most mind-opening experience was to see what "lean" health care providers can offer. They are taking the errors out of medicine and mountains of wasted time and resources, Most hospitals and clinics are grossly under-managed, almost pandemoniums of redundant and unnecessary activities. `Their intentions are the best, but the inefficiencies are staggering. Lean disciplines, similar to those that have greatly improved quality and lowered cost in manufacturing, tackle those inefficiencies. Theda Care in Appleton, for example, has eliminated millions in dollars in waste and has immensely improved quality. Believe it or not, its people have eliminated infections in its operating rooms. We give incentives to our co-workers to use that "center of value." The chapter on "lean" providers reports that prices there are 30-40% below those we pay elsewhere.

What's the main message you'd like readers to walk away with?

I would like readers to come away with the understanding that good management and innovation can reform healthy care economics. It's not going to happen with top-down mandates. It is going to happen from the bottom up, when every American takes responsibility for his or her health and spending on medical treatments.

What's the future like of health care in America?

The performance of America's health care system on the medical side is often sensational. Many cancers, for instance, have become treatable instead of fatal. My titanium hip with a ceramic coating allows me to cross-country ski in marathon competitions. Amazing. And that progress will continue. But the economic side of U.S. medicine is a disaster. The soaring costs are bankrupting companies, governments at all levels and individuals. But private sector reforms prove that costs can be controlled with proper behaviors. Those reforms will be adopted across the land, because they will have to be. The financial pain is so great that such costs reforms are inevitable.

QWhat projects are you working on next?

Our next goal at Serigraph is to get every one of our diabetics under control, as measured by three blood tests. Diabetes is a nasty disease with ugly consequences, and it very expensive to treat. Our on-site doctors, nurses and dietician are intensively coaching each diabetic and pre-diabetic employee to follow necessary regimens. It's working. We have cut our out-of-control diabetic numbers sharply. We won't be satisfied until they are all in control. We are attacking other chronic diseases in similar fashion. Some 80% of U.S. health care costs stem from the chronic diseases. Of late, we have made huge progress on obesity, which, of course, ties back to diabetes. A group of 60 employees has lost more than 800 pounds of weight over the last year .

5 Questions with Nicola Lees, author of Greenlit

If someone has put together a documentary and wants to sell it, what are their next steps to making that happen?
There are two basic approaches.

If you are aiming primarily at the TV market you would research your subject, secure any relevant access to people, places or archive and write a compelling one page proposal, which you would use to sell your idea. It's also increasingly common to make a 2-3 minute pitch tape (or 'sizzle') that showcases your contributors, subject or filming style. You would then approach the relevant executives at various TV channels (or production companies if you have no production experience) with your idea and try to get a meeting. Once you've given a verbal pitch and the buyer has committed to it - and released the budget - you are able to go off and make your documentary.

If you are an independent filmmaker, the more usual route is to film something first, make a fund-raising trailer to show to potential investors, raise enough money from grant foundations, TV channels and other funding sources (such as online crowd funding sites) to complete the filming, then go back to raise more money for post production. You would then enter your finished documentary into festivals around the world in the hope that it might win awards and pick up interest from buyers. In this model you have more control over the content of your documentary, but you also have the added responsibility of sustained fund-raising and of also managing distribution. Independent documentaries can be picked up for TV transmission via this route, as many of the TV buyers attend the big documentary festivals in the hope of finding completed films they can acquire for their channel.

What are common mistakes people make when pitching their ideas?
I interviewed commissioning executives from around the world about the mistakes that people commonly make when pitching, and their complaints were surprisingly similar. The most common are:

1. Not watching the channel to which they are pitching their idea and therefore having no sense of whether their documentary fits that channel's brief

2. Pitching an idea for a show that has already been on air

3. Writing a long and complicated proposal that runs to several pages; if you haven't grabbed their attention in the first paragraph they're not going to read any further
4. Pitching the subject and not the story - the issue might be very important, and you might be passionate about it because it's close to your heart, but no-one wants to spend time and money watching a film to be told that something is important, they want to watch a good story unfold. The old advice to 'show, don't tell' is still good advice.

5. Failing to read the situation and respond appropriately. Three buyers told me that they had each been pitched in the restroom; unsurprisingly all those would-be producers failed to get a commission.

Do you need to have an agent to sell your idea?
Every market works in a slightly different way. Having an agent is crucial if you are selling in LA and not necessary if you are pitching in the UK. An agent acts as a barrier between the overworked channel executives and everyone who thinks they have the next big thing (and that's everyone with an idea). An agent will filter the good proposals and arrange meetings with relevant channel executives, acting as a guarantor that the idea is worth their time. In a smaller market, such as the UK, if you have a great idea but no production track record, you can pitch your idea to a well established production company who will - if they like your idea - make the introductions to channel executives.

What are executives looking for when they hear or read a pitch?
Several things are going through their minds. Firstly, they are trying to visualize what it will look like on screen - what's the genre, the story and the approach? Who are the characters? Next, they are assessing whether it will fit in with their existing schedule in terms of duration, tone and audience demographic. They want to know if it can be made within their budget. And then they are wondering how they can market it - that's why a killer title and celebrity involvement always helps a pitch.

What's a tip you'd give to people looking to get their factual/reality TV ideas to come to fruition?
Work on building your relationships with people in the industry as soon as you can. TV executives buy pitches from people they know, and people they like, and building those relationships and a good reputation take a long time. Go to industry talks, conferences and networking sessions and make the most of introductions. Be interested and interesting when you meet influential people, and NEVER pitch when you meet someone for the first time in a social situation - it makes you look desperate. Ask for their card and follow up with a polite request for a meeting.

But most of all, be realistic, patient and persistent.

5 Questions with Garry Fabian Miller, author of The Colour of Time

1) How did this book come about?
Over tea with Marina Warner, to discuss writing an essay to accompany recent
work. She mentioned a recent visit by the publisher Black Dog and thought
they might be interested in such a project.

2) Why did you decide to produce a book now?
It had been five years since my monograph Illumine, during which time my
work had evolved in many different directions. A series of exhibitions were
forthcoming, and it seemed the right time to review this period.

3) Which image was most special to yourself?
The Year Two picture Cobolt 3, September 2007. This brought the moment in
which I brought two different light generated colours together. In this case
dark blue and orange. As they touched a hovering third colour, pink,

4) What was the most interesting part of this project for you?
Establishing relationships with the three writers, Nigel Warburton, Marina
Warner and Adam Nicolson, who contributed essays to the book. I had long
admired their writing and our dialogue helped me to understand my work in
new ways.

5) What's next for yourself?
The new book, The Colour of Time, coincides with exhibitions at the Victoria
and Albert Museum and my London gallery Hackelbury Fine Art, and also shows
in New York at Danziger Projects and the Ingleby Gallery in Edinburgh. These
look back across thirty years, and I hope may suggest new ways forward.