Monthly Archives: February 2016

Toronto Teen With Autism Dances His Way To Ellen

This story had me crying with joy. It is so rare to turn on the news and hear anything that makes you smile, so when I saw this it moved me to write about it.

Sam is a 17-year-old barista at Starbucks who likes to dance as he serves up drinks. A viral video of him busting some moves while making a drink went viral on YouTube. Doesn’t sound like a big deal, right? But what makes Sam’s story unique is that he has autism and despite this perceived deficiency, he is able to do his job and do it with joy. That, to me, is a gift. Not a setback, challenge or obstacle. None of the terms used to describe someone with autism who was told that he would never be employed.

Thankfully that narrow thinking doesn’t exist in everyone and one day Sam met Chris at Camp Thrive, affiliated with Integrated Services for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders (ISAND).  Chris is also a manager at a local Starbucks in Toronto and when Sam told him that his dream was to be a barista, he gave Sam a job. Chris looked past the autism and saw Sam, a young capable man with an aspiration. Not a disorder.

The viral video caught the attention of Ellen DeGeneres and she invited Sam along with Chris to her daytime talk show.  Sam spoke about how dancing at work helps him concentrate and how appreciative he is to Chris. That’s when my eyes got misty. Where so many may have seen a hindrance, Sam found a fun way to help him work. And his boss Chris empowers him by letting him dance away. I applaud Ellen for using her show as a platform to draw attention to the discrimination towards people with disabilities and celebrating Chris and Sam. Seeing how happy he was to be on her show and how moved he was by her gift pushed me over the edge. I couldn’t stop crying as I watched this.

This story really hits home for me. Someone very close to me is autistic and my whole life I’ve seen how small minded people have treated him cruelly and told him he was different. It has impacted his confidence and social skills. It’s a daily struggle to encourage him to try new things, to reassure him that if he can’t succeed today there’s always tomorrow.

I wish there were more people like Chris who look past the disability and reach out a hand to a fellow human. If we all expanded our minds, practiced humility and offered empathy to one another, could you imagine how enriched our lives would be? I hope this story teaches those that are quick to prejudge someone because they may appear or act different, to think twice and open their hearts.

I’m Here For AubRih

Once Rihanna announced that she was dropping the video for ‘Work’ on Monday Feb. 22nd, I had a feeling that my day would officially be a write-off. My afternoon was spent watching the video fifty-eleven times and imagining all my new outfits for summer 2016.

This isn’t going to be a think piece on how incredible Rihanna is, how incredible she is as an artist who has now surpassed Michael Jackson (RIP) for most #1 songs or a breakdown on her outfit choices. There are so many blog posts out there detailing all of that.

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What I’m here for, is the chemistry between her and Drake. As hard as it is to see my boo, Aubrey Drake Graham, blush over RiRi, I have to admit that if I have to lose him I’m more than cool with seeing him gush over Rihanna. I’d gush over her too if she looked my way. Let’s be serious.

Let’s go back to 2010. Rihanna releases “What’s My Name” and we get the first glimpse of AubRih and their cute behaviour with each other. If you remember, it was only a year before this that Chris Brown had attacked her. So we’re all rooting for her to be happy and free from Chris. Hence seeing her in the arms of Drake fulfills a fairy tale for us that they’re a real couple.

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Then the following year, Drake releases ‘I’ll Take Care Of You” off his album Take Care and we get to see these two again. As usual, Drake’s lyrics are emotional and it appears as if these two are singing to each other.

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And a year later, 2012, Drake and Chris Brown get into a fight in a New York club. Most likely about Rihanna. So for a while now there’s a build up of a story in the media about Drake and Rihanna There’s been pictures of them together, specifically in Europe in 2014, that have quietly kept the rumor mill going.

Fast forward to 2016 and the year is already shaping up to be the year of music super madness. Drake has an album coming out in April 2016 and Rihanna has finally released her eighth album, Anti, after a long wait. The anticipation for the first video ‘Work’ was high after snippets and pics came out while she filmed it in Toronto (bam bam!!) on Feb 5th.

I was ready for the fashion greatness, the on-point makeup, the isolated whining, the Toronto dancehall party vibe and the overall reggae flex. The pictures and video teasers that came out last week had me hyped. I was so happy to see that the video was shot in my city at The Real Jerk, by our own Director X (pictured below) who is a legend. It was great to see Toronto get shine and our unique culture get global attention.

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Often our connection with Caribbean culture goes over folks head but it feels like Rihanna has always seen it and used it. Her first song ‘Pon De Replay’ came out 11 years ago and was also shot here by Director X.

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Back to ‘Work’. What I wasn’t ready for was the new level of intense chemistry between Drake and Rihanna in not just one, but two videos. The first one is captivating and the second one is mesmerizing as we see Drake and Rihanna continue to smile and blush at each other. Now they’ve got us deeply enthralled into their soap opera.

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Whatever it is they have going on between them, it makes for great music videos, tabloid headlines and blog content (clearly). I’m here for it and can’t wait to see if Drake will have her featured on his album and what that video will look like.

Me Before You – Film Adaptation

Whenever I hear that a book I enjoyed is being made into a movie, I cringe. Rarely does this turn out well. Rarely does the boldness of the characters on those pages that came to life in my imagination, come across accurately on the big screen. So often the film falls short of just how grand the story was and has reduced the brightness of the plot to fit into two hours perfectly.

Last year my book club read ‘Me Before You’ by Jojo Moyes which was about a young lady named Louisa who ends up taking a job to take care of a young man named Will after he becomes paralyzed. The book was heart wrenching, lovely, unforgettable and unfolded in a way that my heart wasn’t ready to deal with. Basically it was a great book that if I had just read the back cover synopsis, I might not have picked it up. A true example of not judging a book by the cover.

Reading that one of the main characters was a paraplegic left me thinking this story would be too tragic for me. That’s what is so great about book club – it forces me to step outside of my comfort zone when it comes to literature.

Just seeing the trailer, I have a sense they have conscientiously attempted to convey the essence of the book. Not the tragedy of the character’s situation, but adding nuance to what life holds for us all and how we navigate within it. I can’t give the story away but I want to convey that this story is not as simple as you’d think. And I hope the film shows just how beautiful and complicated both life and this book is.