Panda as Id


Photo by Kotori Kawashima, from her book “Mirai-Chan.”

Happy News about Sad!

I will never forget that time at Our Town. My friend Deanne Beattie had offered me a chance to volunteer for a magazine she had in the works, Sad Mag. A few weeks before, she'd sent me an email about the first meeting of the art and editorial team:

"At the moment we have Brandon Gaukel working on the photography stuff, I'll be on the words, and a guy named Lon doing layout for us. Brandon, Lon, and some of the people they and I are recruiting are working professionals in the arts that really just wanted a project that would give us an amazing creative outlet — we're definitely excited and really committed to getting that first issue out by the end of this summer.
"We're eager to get creating, so we thought we would just go for it, and begin creating content for our first "issue." ....We also need to find places to drop off the print copy, to be available for free at record shops, clothing shops, etc, what have you.

"Would you want to get in on any of that?"

Why a magazine? Why now? What would make it special, I wondered. But it didn't really matter; I wanted to support people who were bold and brave enough to carry out a vision like this.

We met at the cafe at 7. First, I was introduced to Justin Mah and Lon Garrick, our managing editor and lead designer, respectively. Ten minutes later, Brandon walked in--on "Brandon time." And then we were all together, and wonderful, surprising things happened.

Over the next 16 months, guided by Deanne and Brandon's unbelievable passion and dedication to making a space for artists under 30, the Sad Mag family (which extends far, far beyond the five of us) has produced four issues of the magazine and countless events that have inspired and celebrated the arts community of Vancouver.

Sad Mag will be celebrating its first anniversary on October 9 at The Cultch with “Sad Mag Live.”

Hosted by CBC Radio 3’s Lana Gay, Sad Mag Live will showcase the ideas and talents of trailblazers in Vancouver’s arts communities—those who lead the way in music, theatre, fine art and storytelling. The event features interviews with:

CAMERON REED (Director, Music Waste)
GRAEME BERGLUND (Founder and Creative Director, The Cheaper Show)
LIZZY KARP (Co-Founder, Rain City Chronicles)
DAVE DEVEAU (Managing Director, Zee Zee Theatre)

With performances by:

BARBARA ADLER (Accordion, stories, poems)
JASPER SLOAN YIP (Singer-songwriter)
SAMMY CHIEN (With guests—New media artist)
ISOLDE N. BARRON (Drag sensation)

Tickets will be $18, with proceeds being directed to the Sad Mag Writers & Artists Fund. Tickets can be purchased from The Cultch, online at www.thecultch.com or at the box office.

Sad Mag Live is generously sponsored by The Cultch and CBC Radio 3.

For more information and to RVSP, see Sad Mag Live on Facebook


Some smart friends and a prof (also smart) left comments regarding my rant-y post over the weekend about the University system. I wanted to respond but I broke Blogger's comment feature because I had too much to say. Here is my comment:

Hmm... I see we all have something to say about this, as we all have an intimate encounters with The University.

Though in my post I was very concerned about job preparation, it's just one of the reasons I went to school. The idea that is a place for academics to wrestle with ideas was a large part of what I wanted from my university career. But I couldn't find that most of the time. And then there were the classes where the prof or instructor doesn't want to be there, the material is tired, and the students (even the most eager ones) are uninspired and nothing comes out of those four months together. Because of the individualistic reasons for going to school, and because of the larger, dysfunctional political climate, this stuff slides by.

Ask any undergrad student at the larger Canadian universities if they feel the ideas they put forward in their assignments matter, or if they feel like the people at the registrar's office care, or if they are engaging with ideas in their tutorials or seminars in a meaningful way. I think most will say no.

On the whole, high school doesn't prepare students to engage that way, the university doesn't expect them to in order to graduate, and the students who are at University to participate in academia lose out. It's all very messy.

John, as you pointed out, parents send their kids to school so that they can get ahead. But with the schools increasing enrolment so dramatically (traumatically?), what sort of advantage in getting a professional career do most students have when they graduate?

Enrolment in arts and humanities programs are down (no citation, sorry), funding and enrolment for business, economics and law programs are up. I think students are finding that going to university alone isn't enough to get them where they want to be in life. They now have to be strategic about what to learn, to the detriment of their own self-fufillment and satisfaction. Or, maybe that says something about this generation of middle-class youth and the economic climate that we're in right now. Maybe too many of us are too concerned about careers and money.... I'm going to have to think a little more on that one. There might be another rant/post in this.

Anyhow, it was the tenor of the discussion on CBC that was really rubbed me the wrong way. There were too many people on the panel that flippantly dismissed the students' concerns. The administrators felt like they were doing everything they could under the circumstances and therefore, the students had nothing to complain about. With a little distance between the anger I felt on Sunday after listening to that program, I fully agree that on the whole, students get a lot out of pursuing post-secondary education. It can't be reduced down to dollars and cents. We get to meet cool, like-minded people, sometimes we get to learn from some really wonderful, life-changing professors; and best of all, we get to devote time to reading and writing. Much of what we gain is intangible but will stay with us for the rest of our lives. (Is that what we pay for? Shouldn't everyone have access to that? Again, questions for another time... ) However, none of this disqualifies students' intense want for more from their schools.

I certainly haven't covered all sides of this because I don't see them all. So, thanks to all of you for sharing this post and for contributing. This is good. This is what I wanted.

[P.S. I take back that bit about NYU... I have no idea if it's a program that's any better than a leading-edge program in Canada. I just am having career anxiety.]


Shameless Self-Promotion

Today, Cynara Geissler and I are making our premier on the Shameless blog--the best Canadian feminist blog around, says the Canada f-word blog awards. Our fellow bloggers include Stacey May Fowles, Zoe Cormier, and Anna Leventhal!

The column we're launching, "Shameless at Work," is a monthly mix of all topics related to women and work, with our own pop culture twist. We'll also be voicing our thoughts on the Shameless blog outside our column, if a work-related topic strikes our fancy.

Tell your friends! Leave us a comment! Watch clips from Mad Men!

Thank you!

To eat an egg, you must break the shell.

“Learning is not child's play; we cannot learn without pain.”

As I near the end of my formal education (I don't see a Ph.D. in my future), I have been reflecting on the value of my post-secondary degrees. For me at 24, it's hard to imagine how I'll ever be able to have savings, own property or support a family with the skills and education I have right now. When I started university, I hoped that it would be the more practical and safe path, and that working hard would take me the places I wanted to go. Now I know that's not how it goes. Life has never been that simple. But, then again, no one before us had to pay so much for an education. There's no way of ignoring that what I've learned about myself and the knowledge I've (hopefully) retained from university is incredibly valuable. It tempers how mad I feel when I think about the disparity between what my family and I have invested into my education and what there is to show for it.

I got very upset this morning when I listened to a panel of administrators, professors, and government officials talk about the value of university education on the CBC's Sunday Edition. The second hour of the panel allowed the audience to put forward questions to the panel. The forum called "The Final Examination Question: Is a University Education Worth the Cost?" did nothing to dispel any idea that the University is not built to serve its students.

A good discussion is constructive but it was outrageous that no one could agree what the university was for. If the panel is at all representative of the people who make the decisions at universities, then I'm going to think long and hard about finishing my last course and coughing up thousands dollars to get my piece of parchment. What will I gain from it? According to the panellists, nothing but self-satisfaction. Not one school official said that going to university was going to do a good job of preparing you for the workforce.

Of course, a university is not a technical or professional school. Universities are also places of scholarship and research. But students are largely there because they feel that they have to be, because they can't get the jobs they want before they know they've written a paper that applies Foucault to Facebook. Schools advertise the quality of their teaching; the teaching is supposed to make us more intelligent, tolerant and giving members of society. Now, can they prove that their teaching will open opportunities for us to contribute to society that are more satisfying than working another McJob?

The CBC program was recorded at Dalhousie University, so there were students in the audience from King's College, Dal, and other nearby universities. Several students asked why they had to work several jobs, and sometimes had to go to the food bank, to survive the demands of getting a post-secondary education. Others were more accepting of the hardships that come with having to support yourself through university but asked why they couldn't expect a job after investing their time and money. The panel could only respond by saying that you should try harder and/or think about "the joy of learning." (Kudos, nonetheless, to Michael Enright for being the voice of mediation and reason, and standing up for the students.)

Later this morning, I was doubly sad when I read the education issue of the New York Times magazine, published this week. The issue covers some innovative new programs and initiatives in schools happening right now. I was particularly impressed by the joint journalism-computer science program at New York University covered in "Hacks Into Hackers" This is a program that prepares its students for working in more than one industry, and gives them unique analytical and problem-solving skills. Instead of shaping students who might be able to get by today, this NYU program could produce professionals with skills that will be valued ten years from now. I'm jealous.

NYU students pay tuition fees that would make most bank accounts weep, which explains why Canadian universities, which are partly publicly funded, mostly cannot offer programs like this. But how can the schools, in good conscience, accept students, take their tuition, treat them like suckers, and then go on national radio and talk about it like it's the students' problem?

In related news: The jackpot for Lotto 6/49 this week is $3.5 million.


Where are you?

Click here.

Are they coming to where you are?

Buy some tickets.

See the show.

Thank me later.

Weekend plans

I've working away at this thesis thingy so I've not trolled the computer tubes today. But in the interest of keeping up this blog (particularly for my no. 1 fan, VinBiscuit54), I've decided to share my wild weekend plans with you. Also, this is a chance for me to show off my incredible PhotoShop skills. Two birds...


Jacob forgoes photoshopping (kind of)

This month, Jacob, popular retailer of very nice women's clothing, announced a "no-retouching" policy for photos of its models, to "promote an honest and realistic image of the female body."

Good news, but can you tell the difference between the three images below? The left is the original image, the middle an example of the kind of image Jacob will use for its campaigns moving forward (colour-corrected, scars and tattoos removed, etc.), and the one on the right is supposed to illustrate the degree of photoshopping in their past Jacob Lingerie campaigns.

The press release's title is a bit troubling... does it mean that other photos--those of non-models--would (and should) be retouched? And, as Jenna Owsianik pointed out on Shameless's blog, this lady doesn't exactly need a lot of photoshopping.


Girl from Dawson's Creek and annoying skinny guy from Breaker High get together and it's hot.

/via W Magazine

Volcanoes Make Magazines

Back in April, a bunch of folks who couldn't go home because of the volcanic ash cloud got together on the Internet and made a magazine. Said Andrew Losowsky, editor and publisher (and genius behind Stack America):

If there’s one thing my ol’ ma taught me, it’s that when life gives you volcanoes, make magazines. And so we shall.

Stranded is available to order on the magazine's website today via MagCloud.

T-Post: The "magazine" you can wear

Promo video for innovative Swedish publishing project, T-post, employs mascot that is uncannily like Office Assistant, everyone's favourite paperclip!

My verdict: pretty OK T-shirts (some better than others), amateurish writing, awesome idea.

Is this a magazine? For me, T-Post shirts are just designer t-shirts with an artist statement inside. It makes me wonder if these days, positioning your product as some kind of answer to saving the publishing industry (or as as attempt to turn it on its head with an new business model, i.e. precious art project) is just an easy marketing ploy.

(P.S. Magazine ad sales are doing just fine these days, thank you very much)

Better Book Titles

/via Better Book Titles

Ink on paper: MAGIC!

McSweeney's Issue 35 is wrapped in an unbelievable disappearing-ink cover done by Jordan Crane.


... with a little bit of elbow grease, makes this happen:

The fun continues inside!

/via Mr. Magazine


You rock, Martha Stewart!

Charlie Rose: "You used to be a billionaire"
Martha: "I know. It felt so nice. I remember driving up Madison Avenue thinking, 'I can buy anything.' But I’m not a spendthrift!"

Watch the video

No, I haven't actually read Freedom

... but I am loving the discussion that is happening around Frazenfreude! Franzen is trending online like a literary Lady Gaga--long after the discussion has gone stale, he's SEO gold! And yet, bloggers and commenters are still opening up a wider conversation about gender and writing -- I hope it goes on.

Inspired by the discussion about the male/female divide in American literature, Liza Mundy's piece on the Double X blog at Slate is one I wanted to share for its candour and hilarity.

Here she is on the gender divide on reporting trips:
"...in my experience, male reporters say something along the lines of "Bye, honey!" when they go out the door to the airport, while women reporters have to make 7,000 back-up plans involving not only spouses but primary baby-sitters, secondary baby-sitters, pet-walking services, and carpooling colleagues, just to make sure that while they are away, no child gets forgotten overnight at gymnastics practice. Women reporters take the earliest train trip to their reporting destination in the morning, and the latest possible train back, rather than spend an extra, leisurely night in a hotel room. Women reporters stuff breast pumps in their carry on bags and help with homework over the telephone."