Wednesday, November 29, 2006


It has been prohibitively cold for the last week. So cold, that it has distracted me from the significant and wondrous amount of snow covering my world. I hate to be cold, but I love snow.
I love the quiet clean of a snow-laden street at night. I love the black and white of trees and snow in shadow. I love the smell and the sparkle.

To me, snow is the physical manifestation of the sense of rest and renewal I feel in the winter months.

Thursday 7:48 pm
I am also reading a book entitled Snow, by Orhan Pamuk, the Turkish winner of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Literature. Orhan, born in Istanbul in 1959, has been under Turkish and Islamic criticism for his writing, although he claims to not really be interested in Politics. Snow, published in 2002, is set in the small city of Kars in northeastern Turkey and tells the story of violence and tension between political Islamists, soldiers, secularists, and Kurdish and Turkish nationalists.
For me, Snow is more about religion and spiritualism then about politics. It seems to be about the human search for identity and meaning. In the book, the main character, an atheist poet name Ka, is struggling with his own views of religion and his place in the universe. It is the snow that continues to fall and cover his home town that continues to stimulate in him some concept of god or spirit. When I see snow, I think of God, he responds throughout the book to various individuals who question him of his faith. It is the only response he uses, as though he does not know what he believes but he cannot deny the absolute perfection and divinity in snow.

As an agnostic struggling with my own spirituality, or at least in defining it, I am drawn to his words. And I am drawn to snow.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Elle and feminism- do they go together?

I read Elle magazine for the articles. Seriously. Not Elle Canada, because it is simply a vapid cataglogue of fashion images, unfortunately. But, for some reason, Elle international has had some kick-ass articles over the last 8 months that I have been reading it. Unfortunately, I have not been able to access or find any archives of past articles. I would love to put up links to the ones that have interested me so far, but the site doesn't seem to have any of the actual articles from the magazine.

Now, I do read Elle for the fashion, as well. There is something that I love about sitting on a plane or in the tub and flipping through beautiful images and trends. I have been labeled "fashionista" at work, but I think that I approach fashion as art. It inspires me. Color, texture, form, attitude; they are important to me.

I am also, of course, extremely aware of the conflict between fashion magazines and the integrity of women. Our identity as women is intricately and complexly entwined in the images that we are presented with and we need to start "pushing" images of true women and fashion back to the magazine industry.

In the September 3 2006 Botson Globe, the Ideas section had an interview with Lisa Jervis and Andi Zeisler, founders of Bitch magazine.

I found this segment particularly interesting:

IDEAS: Are there mainstream outlets you think are doing a good job of addressing feminist issues?

ZEISLER: Elle Magazine actually grapples with a lot of the same issues that feminists are grappling with. But in the context of a fashion magazine it's often not really seen as feminism.

IDEAS: How come?
Isn't it just the thinking that counts?

JERVIS: When feminist content is stuck between the pages of how to put on eye shadow and what skirt you need to buy for next season, it can feel really schizophrenic. Feminist values, in my opinion, are in opposition to that kind of consumer-driven ethos.

The mainstream media feels the need to define stuff against the word feminism: Is it feminist, is it not feminist, is it antifeminist? A lot of people are still scared of the word. But if we can convey that calling yourself a feminist doesn't mean that you have to stop wearing lipstick or shopping or whatever, that's good. I would rather have fashion magazines acknowledge that there is no perfect idealism and there's always going to be a compromise, but you should still go out and call yourself a feminist anyhow.

Anyway, back to Elle. In every issue I have read, there has been a hard
hitting, well-written, and surprisingly objective journalist article. In the
past two months, they have had a discussion of "feminism" and actually asked the question "are you a feminist" to some prominent young women. I can't find this article online so I will scan it when I get time.

The October issue also has a review of self proclaimed anti-feminist Caitlin
Flanagan, entitled "Who's the fairest wife of all?". This is a well written and critical piece by columnist Laurie Abraham.

I am a feminist and I read Elle.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Check her out-Melissa McClelland

I bought Melissa McClelland's new album, Thumbelina's One Night Stand, in the Second Cup in the Montreal Airport.

These are the songs she played at the Calgary Folk Fest and they are incredible. I caught wind of Melissa as the background voice on Luke Doucet's songs. She and Luke were married this summer and he has produced both her albums and plays and sings on this album, along with Sarah McLachlan and Blue Rodeo's, Greg Keelor. I think she has really hit on a fantastic sound with this album- an melodic and eerie mix of country, folk and vintage music, and a mix of canadiana and americana. She is a fantastic songwriter and her voice lulls you into a sense of serenity-until you start listening to the lyrics.

Oh, and she's hot.

Sunday, October 22, 2006


I went through all of my reading material the first few days in Africa. I found a worn paperback copy of Jarhead in my room and I haven't been able to put it down since. I am not really a big war book fan, but I have read a few spy books and being in a compound surrounded by burly Texans and Scots felt a lot like a few episodes of M*A*S*H, so it felt appropriate. I really had no idea what I was picking up. I seem to recall some sort of furor about it a few years ago, and from the paperback cover I can see that they made a movie about it (I know, I suck. Apparently I was living in a cave at the time) but that is pretty much all the background I had before starting the first page. By the end of the first chapter it was clear that Anthony Swofford is a shit-hot writer and that I was going to get a glimpse into the raw, fragile psyche of a young man who has not only seen and done some serious shit, but who has also done some serious analysis of himself and of the USMC.

The following paragraph from the first chapter has stuck with me for days. Swofford is talking about how, after getting their orders, his unit goes out and gets every war movie they can find and then they sit and watch and drink and get themselves ready for combat. Swofford talks about the ironic fact that our most famous anti war movies, movies that the general population would list as being commentaries on the cruelty and uselessess of war, are actually fuel that fires the murderous agression in these young military minded men.

Filmic images of carnage and death are pornography for the military man; with film you are stroking his cock, tickling his balls with the pink feather of history, getting him ready for his First Fuck. It doesn't matter how many Mr. and Mrs. Johnsons are antiwar--the actual killers who know how to use the weapons are not.

I wonder how Coppola feels about this.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Check him out-Kris Demeanor

I have been following Kris Demeanor for some time now. He probably thinks I am stalking him. Maybe I am, Maybe I am not. I definitely make sure that I see him whenever I can. I planned my Calgary Folk Fest activities around his sessions. I first saw him at Wayne Fest 3, where he wowed my three daughters and their friends with rendition of "Airport Master", which was really Airborne Bastard done with his young neice. I think they were most impressed, as we all were, that his neice knew every single word to an extensive rap commentary, but they did end up learning all the words (including the bad ones). My ex actually went out and bought the CD and we let our oldest listen to it until we heard the lyrics to the next few songs. Ah well, we're liberal parents. I think Kris might just rival my potty mouth.

Anyway, Kris is the ultimate entertainer. He is a musician with soul, he is a brillian lyricist and social commentator, he has the impeccable timing of a stand-up comedian, and he has that special presence about him that makes you just want to watch...and listen.

So, check him out. Buy his stuff. Make him rich.

I am going to see him tonight at the Blue Chair Cafe.

Monday, August 28, 2006


I created my (the) perfect menu item last night at the Sidetrack.
I had a hankerin' for some heuvos rancheros and carne asada (steak) and with the compliance of some bored cooks, I combined their Eggs Jose and steak sandwich (sorry, m.... sammich) to create the glorious...

El Margorita

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Check them out-The Dudes

I love The Dudes. Always have, probably always will. And I get to boast that I know them and that my brother in law used to play with them. Pat played music onstage at my wedding. I am not sure anyone remembers. But he did. So there.

The Dudes are pop/rock/punk/satirical genius and hail from Calgary, Alberta. The new album Brain Heart Guitar boasts some remixes of old songs and some pretty freakin' great new ones, including the best pop love song I have heard for years. Check out Do the Right Thing and tell me if it doesn't make you just want to go out and buy a ring, boys.

Other favorites of mine are Mendoza Line and Dropkick Queen of the Weekend, which you can now apparently download as a ring tone. Rumor has it that there are several "friends" of the Dudes who think they are the subject of Dropkick. We all have our suspicions.

Mendoza Line has one of the all-time classiest love lines in rock history.

Back when the rock was sweet and magical
I gave my guitar your name
But now you're in someone else's touring van
And the songs I sing are shame

Beautiful man. Beautiful.

Go out and buy their album right now.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A Meat Whore's Dream...

Two hours from Seattle, over the Snoqualmie pass, lies Ellensburg, WA, and a restaurant so ecclectic and fabulous that it should be on the Food Channel.
Nicholas Cafe is a small, paint-faded side-of-the-road eatery that will blow your socks off. They boast a Muffaletta that people travel from New Orleans to sample and the best cajun food in West Washington. My mom and I shared "The Slammer"; a hamburger patty, a ham steak, a fried egg, bacon, lettuce and tomato on a bun and we substituted the fries for Jalepeno Hushpuppies to die for. My daughter had the best chocolate peanut butter milkshake I have ever tried and my mom and I washed it all down with Ellensburg microbrew.
Double Yay.

Monday, August 21, 2006


This weekend, I had the special gift of crossing off an item on my "things to do before I die" list.
2 hours from Seattle, Washington, nestled in the desert University town of Ellensburg lives Washoe. Washoe is a 41-year-old Chimpanzee and the first Chimp to be taught ASL back in the 70's. Orginially selected for the space program, Washoe was then selected and raised by Beatrice and Allen Gardener as a deaf child in a pyschology project on communication and culture. The Ape language studies were plagued with controversy and disagreement and Washoe was caught in the middle. She came under the care of Dr. Roger Fouts who continued communication research. Washoe however, is an Ape who does not think she is an Ape.

In graduate school in Primatology I was fascinated by the Ape language studies and by Washoe. She now lives in a Sanctuary with three other Chimps who learned signed language with Roger Fouts. They are in a unique facility where "The Chimps come first" and which is supported by the University of Central Washington and by The Friends of Washoe.

I only had ten minutes to see Washoe and there was no melding of our minds. She did not look across the enclosure and see me and come lumbering over, signing secret messages. She had no idea of the connection that I feel to her. It was hard to just sit there, listen to the pained presentation of undergraduate docents and just be happy with seeing her. But I saw her, and she signed "shoes" (she apparently has a shoe fetish) and I held up my shoe for her to see. It was one of my Chinese flp flop slippers from New York. I am sure she appreciated it.

Note: Washoe died Tuesday, October 30, 2007. She was 42 years old. RIP my little friend.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Check her out-Rachelle van Zanten

Rachelle van Zanten may not even be on your radar, but she should be. I first saw her play in Painting Daisies, and she has since gone solo. She is the hard rockin' shit-kickin' farm girl you always wanted to be friends with.

I got to see her both at the Calgary Folk Festival and the Edmonton Folk Festival and she was consistently brilliant.

Oh, and here is my favorite moment from the Calgary Folk Fest. Feist, Mellissa McClelland, Chantal Vitalis, and Rachelle van Zanten all on the same stage.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I love Jayne...

Can't Blog...too busy watching Firefly. I am already half through the first and only season and dread finishing. I cannot believe this show didn't stay on the air. I loved Buffy but Joss Whedon has really outdone himself this time.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

My name is ____ and I have a Flickr problem

Is it just me, or does everyone use Flickr to define themselves? It has become an addiction, a need for me. I have the standard account and use it for the normal photo storage and display, but for me, Flickr has become a tickle trunk of Art that I can dig through at random and use its contents at anytime. It has become my favorite artistic tool to define myself for a day, a moment. On any given day I sit and think about tags or keywords that I might use to describe how I am feeling or what I am experiencing that day. There is nothing so satisfactory or invigorating as typing those tags in and seeing the stunning visuals that appear. There is always something that is absolutely perfect. I look forward to this ritual. It is like picking out an outfit or even painting your room based on your horoscope. Try it. You'll see.
And no, I don't work for Flickr.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

No miniskirts after 35

What the F_? I was sitting on my bed in a hotel room this weekend with my friend, D, doing what we love best (and never get to do), drinking beer, eating pizza and watching What not to wear. I was casually laughing and throwing in my two cents about "Tomasita's new look" when D pointed out that one of the fashion "road signs" in the show intro said "No miniskirts after 35". I observed this with a laugh and then, after a 30 second delay, one of those classic cartoon "huuh?"s. Were they talking about me? Well shit, I am sitting on the bed wearing a jean miniskirt and am the ripe old age of 35. Nuts. I poo pooed the sign and then the whole show. But I haven't stopped thinking about this whole dressing appropriately thing and where exactly I fit into it all. I googled around today and found that a lot of women have been talking about this.

These blogs had huge discussions

And there is a good article I found in The Observer.