Thursday, November 30, 2017

IIDEX Canada 2017: sights and designs

IIDEX, Canada's largest architecture and interior design expo, is happening Nov. 29-30 in Toronto. Here are two exhibitors who caught my eye, but click here for a full report.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Illness Can Be The Cure! is Kindle bestseller

A therapy book I edited, Illness Can Be The Cure! by Anne Redelfs, has topped the Kindle bestseller list in Canada and Australia, and hit #3 in the U.K. Anne Redelfs is a retired psychiatrist and “listener” from Texarkana, Texas, treating patients' emotional and psychological issues. 

Illness Can Be The Cure! contends that our souls actually speak to us through our symptoms and diseases. Ms. Redelfs book guides the reader through the process of listening to one's inner self in order to heal one's outer body. This means that childhood traumas can express themselves through physical symptoms, while traditional hospital care and costly medications are limited. Instead, she argues, we should listen to our souls to find the path to healing. Ms. Redelfs writes in her preface:

Have you ever wondered what your physical body and body symptoms might be communicating? This question gained prominence in my thinking, because of my interactions with patients during my medical school and residency training. My instructors seemed to engage the human body more like a car than a sentient being. They focused on its functioning, taking us where we want to go and doing what we want to do. 

        Like a car, a human body has certain built-in requirements, such as air, water, food, and exercise. It also has limitations--it can only go so long before needing rest. If we don’t respect these requirements and limitations, our living vehicles will more likely break down. Of course, parts can lose potency or functioning over time, particularly when we treat them badly. Sometimes, despite the best of care, car troubles just happen, at least this was what I was taught. Not to worry. A good doctor, like a solid mechanic, will likely have our vehicles rolling again before long. 

During my formal studies of medicine, there was no emphasis on the HUMANNESS of our physical bodies. No one explained to me that our physical sensations are our bodies’ emotions. Overt nonverbal expressions, such as posture, facial reactions, and tone of voice, are our bodies’ voice. Our innate body functioning carries intelligence and care, sometimes in stark contrast to our lack in these areas. (We get ourselves into far more trouble than our physical bodies do!)  In fact, when we lose our intelligence and care, we end up doing all sorts of manipulative things to our bodies, trying to make them work as we’d like. For example, we may eat sugar and carbs to get energy, or drink coffee to stay awake. If only we knew that our bodies too were trying to make us work in a more excellent manner...

Ms. Redelfs' views may startle some, but they are rooted in her personal experience and those of people she has counseled. To read more of a preview from this book and to order, please click here

Monday, November 27, 2017

The Flying Stars to celebrate Disability Day on the soccer pitch

The "stars" of my Sundance-supported documentary, The Flying Stars, will celebrate the UN's Disability Day on December 3 by doing what they do best: play soccer. The Freetown Flying Stars will challenge their Bo regional counterparts in a rematch of the game they played in the documentary.

All the players are amputees, whose legs and arms were hacked off by rebel soldiers or claimed by landmines, during the Sierra Leone civil war of 1991-2002.

The amputees were innocent children or teenagers at the time, and their attackers themselves were children, brainwashed by the rebel army to commit horrific deeds. At the end of the war, the amputees banded together to play the country's number-one sport in order to support each other, but also show their countrymen that they could "stand on their own feet." The amputees also play to cope with their PTSD.

"This football match is to showcase how peaceful and united we are," says the Freetown club's manager, Mohamed "Census" Jalloh who appears in the film. "We want to preach peace."
Census, as his teammates call him, asks for any donations to help cover the costs of transporting the players and renting the soccer field ("the pitch"). You can safely donate here by giving directly to the team or buying authentic Sierra Leonean wood carvings (above) or photographic portraits of the team by associate producer Fiona Aboud and the film's photographer, Johnny Vong. Similar items were auctioned off in a May 2016 fundraiser at the Gladstone Hotel in downtown Toronto.

The Flying Stars documentary is currently playing in Canada on the CBC's Documentary Channel and on the streaming service, kweli TV in the U.S.

For more information about The Flying Stars team and documentary, please visit here.

Friday, November 24, 2017

The mediocre rock 'n' roll swindle - Liam Gallagher plays Toronto

Last night, Oasis fans flocked to Rebel nightclub nestled against frosty Lake Ontario to catch Liam Gallagher and his band. Pity, brother Noel wasn't there, because he could've leant his younger sibling a few tunes to pad out his 59-minute set. 

I've seen some opening acts over the years that sang that long. Springsteen always plays for three-and-a-half hours. Perhaps that's an unfair comparison, but one hour without an encore? When the houselights went up after Cigarettes and Alcohol, Rebel shook with boos.

Gallagher opened with Rock 'n' Roll Star then Morning Glory from his former band's first and second albums, and proceeded to evenly mix Oasis songs with his solo material. The crowd roared in a giant pub singalong whenever he launched into Oasis hits such as Some Might Say, but fell quiet whenever he sang one of his own tunes. 

Gallagher's band played the Oasis tunes faithfully, note-for-note, with energy and competently for his own material, but those songs lacked memorable melodies or lyrics. They all sounded the same, so the audience waited for the next Oasis hit to come alive.

The crowd left with mixed feelings. They got a half-hour Oasis gig and saw their frontman for the first time in this city in many years. But they deserved more. If Gallagher continues to shortchange his fans and record mediocre material, he'll need to call his brother and beg for a reunion.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

10 things I learned from Data Marketing Toronto 2017

Earlier this week, I helped film two days of panels devoted to data marketing. Appropriately called Data Marketing Toronto 2017, the conference attracted marketing heads from a huge swath of today's society, from Canadian Tire and SickKids to Canada Post, Scotiabank and Blockchain Canada. 

What is data? It's our buying habits, credit card charges, Facebook Likes, Tweets, Google searches and anything we keyboard on our phones, 'pads and PCs (for those who still use them). Marketers take that raw info (or try get it from you) and determine how to sell you their products and services.

I'm not a marketer, though I write, do social media and make videos (which create marketing data), but I learned these things:

1. Data is the new oil. (Oil, BTW, crashed three years ago and is now only half its peak value.)

2. A goldfish has a longer attention span than a human being (about 6 seconds).

3. Keyboarding a Google search is so 2016. Pretty soon, we'll all be talking to Google (and other apps).

4. New software can interpret social media to read human emotions, such as joy and fear.

5. It's impossible for an adult to sit still longer than 65 seconds without checking his/her smartphone.

6. Smartphones are teddy bears for adults: we cling to them for security instead of facing other humans and risk unpredictable interaction.

7. Big companies collect data on everyone, a lot of it personal, but most of us don't care because we're used to giving it up in return for free software.

8. Data will keep growing, but there's too much social media for any human being to digest every day. (Hence, all these panels about how to cut through the noise.) Are we hitting peak data? Will there be a backlash and more of us join the Minimalism Movement?

9. The future is AI (artificial intelligence). The future is next week.

10. Nobody writes stories anymore. Everything written is a list.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Why mortgage lift insurance may not be the best bet

What happens to your mortgage if something happens to you?

Mortgage life insurance is supposed to protect a homeowner if he/she falls critically ill (or worse), but does it? Do homeowners even know they own this insurance when they apply for a bank mortgage?

Find the answers in my article for TC Media's This knowledge may save you money in the long run and a bit of grief.

Friday, November 17, 2017

The Flying Stars premieres in the U.S. on kweli TV

Americans can now see my documentary, The The Flying Stars, on kweli TV, a new streaming service offering the best in global black filmmaking. Even better, anyone in the States can try a free preview of kweli TV for seven days.

In this 65-minute theatrical cut, team captain Bornor (pictured in red above) of The Flying Stars amputee football club of Freetown, Sierra Leone is profiled along with his teammate, Census. As they pass and score on the soccer pitch, both Bornor and Census struggle to feed their families and come to grips with the post-traumatic stress (PTSD) they suffer from the decade-long civil war. That brutal conflict claimed 50,000 lives and left unknown thousands of children amputated, mostly by other children brainwashed by the rebel army.

The premiere of The Flying Stars on kweli TV brings the story of Census and Bornor to American screens after playing around the world, from Japan to the Middle East, at film festivals and TV networks including NHK and Al Jazeera. Co-directed by Ngardy Conteh George, The Flying Stars, enjoyed its world premiere at the 2014 Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM).

Since then, it has screened around at festivals and TV broadcasts, including Japan, the Middle East and Denmark. The Flying Stars was awarded Best Documentary at Atlanta's BronzeLens Film Festival in 2015. Domestically, The Flying Stars is currently playing on CBC's Documentary Channel. 

The film was financed in part by the Sundance Documentary Fund. Both directors, Ngardy and I, are Sundance Documentary Fellows. In 2011, our film in development (then called Leone Stars) won the Telefilm Pitch This! competition at the Toronto International Film Festival and remains the only documentary to do so.

Learn more and follow the accomplishments of both the film and amputee football team at