Thursday, July 24, 2014

Bao Bao is turning one!

Bao Bao will be turning one this August 23rd at the Smithsonian National Zoo Park 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

China 2050

"China 2050" photo series by Cezard Benoit, a freelance French photographer based in China, went viral several years ago.  Who knows what will happen to China in 2050.  However, these photos are funny and entertaining to look at again.  Enjoy!  (Photo credit: We are lǎowài - 我们是老外)  

Replacing migrant workers doing construction - that's funny! 

White collar workers will entertain for money

The man in the front doesn't have the Chinese "squat" with both feet on the ground 
and he should also be smoking a cigarette.  LOL!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Author Interview: Ben Hinson, author, poet and video producer

Ben Hinson, author, poet and video producer

Tell us a little about yourself and your background?  Where are you from?

My name is Ben Hinson. I was born in Nigeria, and to date have lived in Nigeria, Ghana, England and numerous locations throughout the United States. New York City is my current stomping ground.

Your latest project, Eteka: Rise of the Imamba sounds like it will be an exciting read. Can you summarize what it is about?

Eteka: Rise of the Imamba is a novel based on global mercenary activity that takes place during the Cold War era and the 1990s. The novel falls under the literary/historical fiction genre and will be available hopefully by the end of this year.

What inspired you to write about mercenary activity in Africa, Asia and beyond?

My inspiration to write this novel came from a number of sources: my love of history, my experience with martial arts, my experience with different cultures around the world and my heritage as an African. My novel is the combination of all these elements. I wanted to tell a gritty, action packed, original story from a non-western perspective that transcends national lines and expectations. I wanted to create a universe filled with complex characters from diverse backgrounds that interact with each other against the backdrop of historic events. I also wanted to showcase the cultures of all the countries featured in my novel, and educate my readers while treating them to an exciting, suspenseful ride!   

I’m curious to know how your novel ties into Asia and vice versa. Can you shed some light on that?

Asia, specifically Indonesia during the 1950s is featured within my novel. This period, characterized by the Cold War, was an interesting time the world over. Military tensions were at play between the major western and eastern powers, fueled by differences in political and economic ideologies. Proxy wars were being fought across Asia, the Middle East and Africa. The Non-Aligned Movement, which consisted of a few Asian and African member states, would make its presence known on the global political scene. It’s against this backdrop that Indonesia makes its appearance within my novel. I don’t want to give too much away, but there is a must read action sequence I created in this region that you’re not going to want to miss!

Can you personally relate to any of the scenes/experiences in your upcoming novel?

Yes. I have lived in a few of the regions featured in my novel, and I did attend a junior level military academy here in the US for three years, so I was exposed to that level of consistent discipline. I have also trained in a few of the martial art forms featured in my novel.  

In your blog, you've gone into great detail regarding the history and cultures of all the countries featured in your upcoming novel.  How many countries will be featured? Why so many countries?

My blog has been a project in itself (smile), which I created to give you and my audience the best reading experience possible. There will be a total of 14 countries featured in my upcoming novel. The simple answer as to why I wanted to feature so many countries is that I wanted the challenge of mapping two timelines across multiple locations. It felt like I created and solved my own puzzle! I also love the concept of diversity. The world is a very large place, filled with many different cultures and tons of great history to pull from. I wanted to create a gritty story that would both entertain and educate on not just history, but on the global melting pot that is our world.

What was the research process like for this project?

The research behind this project was very extensive! To give you a small disclaimer: every novel I write in some form or another is research based. This is why they take so long to create! For Eteka: Rise of the Imamba, my research involved collaborating with various university professors here in the United States and in England, reading through countless research journals, reading through books written on various themes featured in my novel, pulling from my past experience living in a few of the locations featured in my work, and spending many nights and afternoons in libraries all over New York City!

How long did it take you to finish writing this novel?

I started writing the first draft of Eteka: Rise of the Imamba in 2009, and we are wrapping up final edits as I type this. So, approximately five and a half years, rounded out to six if we take research into consideration.

How do you want your readers to walk away after reading your work?

With their mouths wide open and their brains overworked with literary pleasure! I guarantee that you and everyone who reads Eteka: Rise of the Imamba when it comes out will not be able to put the novel down and will beg for more when they are done!

For an author who is not out yet you seem to already have quite a following in social media. How did this happen?

One reason I believe people have responded positively to my project is that I take them along for the ride that is my publication journey. I get their feedback on the various parts of the project that I create, so they know they are taking the journey with me. It’s a beautiful thing because I know they are supporting me based on the projects potential. Another reason for the positive support is because I provide a lot of rich content around my novel, a lot of which you can find on my blog.

When are you most creative?

I am creative all the time, 24/7. If an idea crosses my mind I do my best to save it and go over it at a time in the day when I am free.

What are your hobbies besides writing?

Video games, swimming, basketball, drawing, and martial arts training when time permits. I also enjoy writing poetry.   

You mentioned poetry, how do you approach writing poetry and what are your influences?

I write poetry whenever I am moved to do so. True poetry I believe is an emotional impulse, and the best time to write is when the feeling and idea comes to mind, so the originality stays intact. If writing your thoughts is not possible when the impulse comes, say for example if you are working, in a meeting or driving, then I recommend jotting the idea down in a notepad or phone or committing it to memory so you can act on it later when time permits. This is a great habit for any idea you have, whether it be poetry, a new business idea, whatever it may be. I get inspired from experiences I have, things I have observed, teachings I learn from and faith in an unseen future. I write lyrical poetry, and I am convinced that connecting words lyrically with catchy punchlines in a format that makes sense is an art form in itself. Even more admirable is the ability to connect words lyrically in a mosaic that has a simple outward appearance yet timeless inner meaning. This is lyrical alchemy at its finest.

You have short poetry videos that you put together.  Can you share with us how you produced these videos?

First I selected which poems I wanted to visually illustrate, and then narrowed my selection down to as many poems as would fit within my budget. Then I went over the costs regarding camera equipment, editing software, talent and so on. Next came scouting the right locations across New York City to shoot the videos, obtaining permissions wherever applicable, shooting the videos themselves and then editing the videos.

"Wanna Be Rapper" 
Actor: Jennifer Robayo 
Shot in SoHo, New York City

Actor: Isaiah Clifton 
Shot in SoHo, New York City

"Do You Believe" 
Actor: Paul Thomas Ryan 
Shot in SoHo, New York City

What do you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for your support and for considering my work out of the thousands of other options you have! I promise to give you the experience of a lifetime with my upcoming novel, Eteka: Rise of the Imamba!

Where can readers find your books or learn more about you?

You can learn more about me on my website, I also encourage you to check out my blog at where I’ve given great overviews of all the locations featured in my upcoming novel, recipes from these places and so much more! Finally I invite you to follow me on Facebook at to stay updated regarding my activities!

Click Here to go to Eteka:

*All data including images and videos for this interview was used with the permission of the author.  They belong to the rightful owner and this blog claims no ownership.