Thursday, November 27, 2008

Illustrator of the Month November - Pascal Blanchet

Pascal is a French-Canadian illustrator who knew from his earliest childhood days that he wanted to draw for a living. "I think it would have been impossible for me to do something else," he says. "Drawing is the thing I really love in life." Born in 1980, in Trois-Rivières, Quebec, Blanchet never studied art or drawing in school.

Blanchet has developed an award-winning illustrative style that has been embraced by international publishers and commercial clients. He also writes graphic novels. You can check out more of his work and find links to those novels here.

I just love the retro style, the evocative use of colour and the soulful expression of sound and feeling. I am foaming at the mouth to work with him soon! Here's some of his work:





Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Reach Out

Here it is, the new Hilary Duff video. This version of the video is banned in the US, because of it's sexual content. Keep a close watch for the thumbsucking! Is it a terrible song? Yes. Despite it's sampling of Depeche Mode, it seems like a washed up mess of Madonna from the Erotica and Like A Virgin eras, if she had a love child with Kylie Minogue. But the video is definitely worth the view, because in spite of all that, it's hot:

Thursday, November 20, 2008


Gwyneth Paltrow was recently approached by PETA, who were complaining that she, as a eco-conscious vegetarian, should not have appeared in a Tod's advertisement wearing fur. Here is the ad:


So, Gwyn replies, "That was awkward. And I’m glad you asked, because I do not wear fur at all. It was a daylong photo shoot on a boat near Capri, and there were all sorts of poses with all kinds of clothes — none with fur. During one set-up, a stylist came up from behind and draped a stole around my shoulders... I know it’s not a great excuse, but I hope you and your members understand.”

Man, this makes me so irritated. It's not that I'm some big fan of hers or have any ill will either. I really felt very meh towards Gwyn up until this. But the fact of the matter is, this reply is pandering to Peta, trying to keep any popularity she might have with their members. It's very smooth, the way she distracts with her mentions of Capri, and then blames it on a stylist. But let me poke a few holes in this idiotic line of b.s. that Gwyn doled out. Firstly, I'm pretty sure Gwyn has a good idea about the company Tod's , since she is their spokesmodel. I mean, they are known for their leather boots, so you would think she might assume they use animal products. Is fur not leather with the hair still on?

In her own newsletter, "Goop" , Gwyn recently suggested we all purchase a Tod's cashmere trench coat, because it is classic and we can all afford it, right? Anyhow, I doubt very much PETA is fond of the use of rabbit hair in making coats. That is what cashmere is, isn't it?

Oh Gwyn, this is my point. If you are so anti-fur, perhaps you shouldn't be hawking leather boots and cashmere coats, you sell out! And, if you like the leather and the cashmere, then stop kissing PETA's ass, please.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Charley Harper for Old Navy

It's at times like these I wish I knew more babies.

Charley Harper has done a collection for Old Navy! Who is Charlie Harper you ask? Well, see some of his work here. But you know him already, and not because he's a legend, but because you are familiar with the book The Giant Golden Book of Biology which he illustrated, and which you probably read in grade 3!

Some of the products...


A Memory Game:

An ABC Book:

Find Charley Harper for Old Navy here.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


My grandfather was a navigator in the Royal Air Force during WWII.

He told me stories from time to time about the war itself, but he mostly told me anecdotes about the more pleasant memories. I guess this was in an effort to protect me from the gory details, or perhaps it was in order to protect himself from remembering the worst. He spent quite a long time in a POW camp, long enough that when he was released he burnt his diary. He told me what he missed most while in the camp was brushing his teeth. They never once let them do that.

One story he always fondly told me was about a small german boy. My grandfather's plane had been shot down and he and a couple of the other survivors from the plane were wandering on the german countryside, not yet captured. They came upon a river and decided to strip down and get clean, having not showered or bathed in some time. While they were wet and, as he tells it, quite enjoying the day and the fresh water, a young boy approached them. Immediately they recognized the child to be german, and thought this was the end of the line for their freedom, if not worse. The child shouted something to them, turned, and ran away.

The men hurried to get clothed again, struggling, trying to place wet feet in their boots. The boy rushed back out to them, barrelling down hill from a farmhouse, his mother not far behind. They were sure now, they were caught, this was it.

When the boy got close to the river, he began speaking to them again. They stood, waiting, wondering what would happen. They could make out some of what he was saying, but not much. When his mother finally walked up behind him, the men could see she was holding something close to her body. They were sure it was a gun.

Instead, she had a bunch of biscuits, as my grandfather calls them, not the cookie kind, but the sort you'd get down south with gravy. She had them in her apron, which was rolled up towards her body to keep them secure. She unravelled the apron, and left the biscuits on a rock. She gathered up her son under her arm, and started back to the farmhouse without saying a word.

My grandfather said they were the best-tasting biscuits he ever ate in his life.

He and the others were captured a few days later.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Why Wearing the Correct Bra Size is a Feminist Act

In the 70's, feminists burned their bras. Now, I wasn't alive then, but my understanding is that this was a symbolic gesture intended to express their belief in freedom from the patriarchy, like refusing to shave your legs might be. And to be honest, it is a good symbolic move. I never want to diminish the importance of those actions.

However, women began wearing bras again. Some of them, of course, never stopped. Some still don't wear them and consider them to be a tool to hide and change a woman's body - still a tool of the patriarchy. However, I don't agree. For me, a bra is all about comfort. I just don't feel comfortable in the office without one. So for me, wearing a great bra is crucial to my rise up the business ladder.

As time wore on, the 80s came, big capitalism and bigger companies overtook industries. Women don't know how to sew as much as they once did, and the concept of taking your bra to be custom sized sounds insane to most women of the modern world.

So instead, 80% of women parade around wearing the wrong size bra. It's not because manufacturers don't make all the sizes needed to suit all the women in the world- they do. The situation is that in America, most women don't realize there are over 100 sizes available. Stores like Victoria's Secret, La Senza and department stores don't carry all the available sizes, even if they are available in the brand.

For example, I was in a Victoria's Secret store and saw a brand of sports bras that comes in every size from AA-GG and beyond. They offer some of the best sports support and comfort, not to mention style. They make it possible for me to jog at the gym and not feel weird or sore. I got pretty excited to see that VS was going to be carrying a wonderful brand such as this. Until I looked closer. They were only carrying

32B 34B 36B
34C 36C 38C
34D 34D 36D 38D
34DD 36DD 38DD

That's it. 13 sizes. The brand comes in well over 50 sizes. So why wouldn't VS want to offer all the sizes available, so that each customer is getting the best fitting, most comfortable, most functional bra they could get? I'll tell you. If they sell less sizes, they make more money per sku.

I'll save you the business logic behind that, unless you really want it, but it's kinda boring. And what it comes down to is the bottom line for Victoria's Secret is PROFIT. They want the largest profit they can get from any product they sell. And the less sizes they offer, the bigger profit they make. This male owned and operated organization is not selling comfort and support to women. They are selling ill-fitting, ill-made garments for more than they are worth to the wrong customer with no regard for their body image or needs.

So, how is wearing the right size feminist?

For one, you will likely be purchasing your bra from a smaller business. It might even be a woman-owned and operated business, such as Secrets From Your Sister in Toronto. You will be purchasing a bra in a smaller shop because only smaller shops cater to these "specialty" (read: NORMAL) sizes. By refusing to support the big bra business that lies to their customer through their sales staff and advertising, you will support a smaller business that is there to help you.

For two, you will be comfortable in your bra. The right size just feels great. And feeling great is the first step to confidence. Confidence is the first step to success! You can't go after that big job above the glass ceiling while you constantly adjust your bra straps, can you? Maybe you could, but I'd feel self concious. And I'm not at my best mentally unless I feel well presented, no matter who is interviewing me.

Three, a great bra makes you feel hot. And because no one sees it, it's not about feeling hot for the male gaze - it's about feeling hot in your mind, each day, when you leave the house. Feeling hot for sake of your own mind is a pretty feminist act, if you ask me. It's why I shave my legs sometimes, knowing no one will notice but me. It's a way to take something back, and own it, that was once forced on you.

Four, a great sports bra will prevent any thoughts of "I can't go play soccer with all those guys!! I'll be bouncing all over the place!!" Just like tampax, you can even ride a horse. I'm kidding, but only half.

Fifth, and most importantly, by shopping in places other than the big box lingerie outlets and major chains, you are putting a dent in their profits. You are proving through consumer spending that you are normal, that you are a potential customer and that you should not be overlooked. Every time one woman has the epiphany that they were wearing the wrong size, and that gets corrected, they tell two friends. And so on, until one day, there is so much of a market for the correct size, that the male big-wigs will be forced to take notice, and offer a full range of sizes to meet the full range of women in North America. This business model of offering all sizes is working in Europe and Asia, and there is no reason it should not in North America.

Now check out this great TV ad by British retailer Bravissimo , who are actually a super awesome woman-owned organziation who sell the bestest stuff ever.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Yay Obama!

Obama for the win!

This woman's expression says it all, doesn't it?


What a wonderful time for America. I am thrilled to be able to see the first African-American president in my lifetime. I do want to clarify from my post yesterday that I'm not suggesting I'd rather have seen a woman president - what I wanted to see was CHANGE, and it came. And the doors this dramatic change has opened for all people - all genders - can not be understated.

Yay America...for actually doing something the world can love you for.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Election Day

Today is the big ol'merican election. And regardless of the outcome, it will be historic. On one hand, we have potentially the first black president, on the other, the first femal V.P.

When I look back with my children and talk about this day, it will be in a way they will not really be able to understand. When I was a kid, I really couldn't get the whole Kennedy thing, the whole Trudeau thing, but I understood that important historic things were tied into it. I don't think I understood that whole "I remember where I was when...." thing until September 11th. I remember where I was that day. Looking back on this day, I will recall that I was out at a Colin James concert, and when I got home, I found out that I had lived long enough to see the first black man to lead America, or the first white woman to...well...sorta lead America. I wonder which it will be?

At the beginning of this election I was a Hillary supporter. Still to this day, I wish Obama had chosen her as his running mate. Because I would have loved to been able to be writing this post, knowing one day I'd look back and say this was the day the first woman VP was elected and ALSO the first Black President. Alas, we can't have everything.

What seems like ages ago I was having a conversation with a very liberally-minded American friend. I was shocked to discover that at the time he was surely going to vote for McCain. He saw this as a vote for someone fit to lead a nation, someone with age and experience. I was truely shocked he wasn't voting Obama. In the months that passed, McCain really f*cked things up (in one determined flash) by picking Palin as his running mate. What at first seemed to be a genius move has now seemingly cost him the election (if polls are accurate, of course.) My friend is no longer voting McCain.

Such a shame, really, that a woman like Palin was picked. Not a woman who is more experienced, more capable, more professional, because they exist. The choice of Palin is confusing even to those who support their campaign. It seems, many pundits, bloggers and theorists agree (myself included), that this was McCain's election to lose. And he really seems to have done that with Sarah Palin. He really seems to have messed up his whole campaign, destroyed the reasons to vote for him, and distracted us so much from his own qualifications (by parading her lack thereof) that we now look to his party as a 'joke'. Is he making a scapegoat of her?

It is unfortunate that the first female candidate on a presidential ticket will likely be held responsible for the party's failure. It is unfortunate because much like Canada's first female prime minister Kim Campbell , Palin will not be remembered for any good work she did in her life, or the things she achieved (of which I am sure there will be more things than there are now, one way or another), instead being remembered for her failures, her shortcomings. Kim Campbell's failure to be properly re-elected is virtually all kids know about her. Will being a failed candidate be all kids know about Palin in the future? Even my cold liberal heart softens for this woman when I think, despite her lack of feminism, despite her stance on women's rights issues, she is still one of us. And I would like to see her succeed with some ounce of pride.

I recognize the importance for diveristy of race and culture in politics. It is sorely needed. However, I do not want to understate the importance of female participation in politics - women of all races - and the importance of those in power giving opportunity to women - not when they need a scapegoat, not when they need a distraction, not when they need a stunt ballot....but when they need a good leader and sound mind at the helm.

I want to look back on my life and say I lived to see a day that a woman could truly achieve anything she wanted to in life - even being the President. I wish that really could be a dream or a goal for a young girl, and not be a 'crazy' idea. I want to be able to tell my kids that I voted for our female leader because she was the better choice based on her skills and experience, not cause she was cute and "relatable".

I want to be able to tell them that we, as a gender, went from not even being 'people' and not being allowed to vote, to leading the nation, all within a century.

I hope most of all that this election has broken boundaries forever. Now it won't seem wild to have something other than white men on the ticket. That being black or a woman isn't something to make a news report out of, because it is so normal. I know it is possible. It is happening in other parts of the world.

My fingers will stay crossed.