Monday, January 31, 2005

Obligatory quiz

You are a Sphinx! You are mocked for your unusual
appearance, but you are very loving and
devoted. People just need to give you a

What breed of cat are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Not sure how to feel about this....

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Day Dreaming

Returning to one of my favorite books, The 5th Life of the Cat Woman , I am in a day dreaming mood and am reminded of the "secret mirage" that cat woman created, her version of the perfect place on earth.

I'm wondering what your vision of "the perfect place on earth" is? Describe your surroundings and what you would do there...

Monday, January 24, 2005

The Slippery Slope of Appearance

I was reading Feministe's post on vanity and appearance when defining oneself as a feminist. It was a particularly timely read for me as I have been thinking a great deal about this topic. In my early twenties - up until I was about 27 - I spent a lot of time on my appearance. In my iconoclastic way, it was never about big hair or big boobs, rather it was focused on an expression of cool, whatever that is, and my vintage sensibilities.

My hair was always a different colour and my lips, a vampire-I-want-to feast-on-your-blood red. This was an amazing feat as I spent most of my time on the road with little more than my suitcase full of clothes, make-up, and a journal. I can't imagine trying to wear half the shit I did then while traveling.

Part of my transformation to normalcy was out of convenience (it got nuts trying to camp with a vintage dress and boots) and part of it was rooted in gradual lack of interest in the art of appearance. Rather, I felt like I was spending time trying to mask how I really felt about myself by presenting to the world a hard vixen.

A lot of people I knew at the time were surprised and even disappointed in the new me. I was healthy looking, scrubbed, minimal make-up, jeans - not very creative. Fine and all for the girl next door, but not fine for a writer, road scholar, etc. They (as I have lost touch with a lot of the old art scene) would freak if they knew I was a part of the "maniacal business world" now.

In stripping down to the visceral, I have much more time to focus on being true. Was I or am I a cold hearted vixen? No. I'd venture to say none of us project what we really feel. It's scary. It leaves us susceptible to the opinions of others.

More to this, as a feminist, I have grappled with issues such as those Lauren poignantly discusses. Part of me thinks, "Who the hell are you to tell me what to look like..." and then I remember, "Aha, I should not forget the fact that I already have some of the socially deemed beautiful qualities - light skin, slender build, etc. - therefore, I should not pander to that ideal by emulating it."

But that's where the tricky part comes in. By rejecting my privileges, am I then being untrue to myself? Maybe I like looking like a traditional femme? If I wear heels, am I ignoring the social implications of keeping women down? The heel, after all, is a nefarious little invention if you talk to your feet and calves.

Back to the board.

Where does that leave the authentic outer self? When, if ever, is it appropriate to don the gown, the lipstick, the heels?

Part of the problem is we, as women in the Anglo-melting-pot of Euro descent, have no traditional garb of which we feel proud. We have no ornaments of passage other than those steeped in patriarchy.

In my effort to stop re-creating and get to the core of who I am, I had to strip myself down to bareness. I have done that. I continue to do that, in fact, which is why I am comfortable telling you that I am hurt when I see myself in the mirror and notice the flaws.

From bareness, where do we go? What traditions can we sew for ourselves and for our daughters that evoke pride and self-worth?

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Finding Meaning in a Value-based World

Small Poem

poetry cannot change the course of the world
no more than dogs barking away rain
fish dreaming of clouds

© Aleah Sato

For those of you who don't know me that well, I am also a poet. If I could choose to do anything - absolutely anything - and make a living at it, it would be working as a poet.

Writing poetry and being taken seriously is an arduous task. Calling yourself a poet is even more ridiculous. Most poets refer to themselves as writers and are fairly resigned to the fact that they will never make money with their craft of choice. Further to this, most publishing houses stopped accepting poetry, as illustrated in this article by Behlor Santi:

"It's too bad," says Rankovic, "but just about the time I became a mature poet-in the late 1980s-publishers became obsessed with the bottom line." Big New York houses stopped publishing original poetry collections, leaving the job to university and small presses. Since most poetry collections don't exactly put Random House and HarperCollins in the billionaires' club, the decision to not publish and promote them makes financial sense. Why publish something that the public doesn't buy?

Santi then goes on to list periodicals that insist on compensating poets for their contributions in the same way they would compensate someone for an article or short story.

In the end, improving the state of poetry depends a lot on you, the poet. Think beyond lit journals, consider yourself an artist and a businessperson. You should live life fully, write about your life fully, and not starve.

This stunned me - I, too, have learned to believe that my craft was useless and I deserved nothing for the time and love I put into it.

This mindset of impoverishment happens all the time. It is how cultures get eradicated. It is how traditional arts are lost to the fray.

One of our designers is getting ready to embark on a work/study vacation in Belize. Part of the vacation is spent immersed in the traditions of the indigenous peoples, learning from them the crafts of the land, along with providing compensation to the community for their time and teachings (all monies are shared among the villagers).

This had me thinking about dreams, either the dreams of our own making - from childhood - or our collective dreams of craft and tradition. I believe that our sense of purpose and identity are rooted in the dreams we created in youth as well as those we've inherited from the family/society we grow up in.

North Americans are increasingly restless with the void we have handed ourselves as adults. It is evident in the resurgence of tradition as seen in trends like "home-made," "primitive," "natural" and "organic." It is threading its way through our hobbies; knitting is incredibly popular. I'd venture to say the push for "older, simpler" ideals is the vehicle of (misleading) ideology among conservative politicians.

Point being: dreams have incredible weight. Meaning creates value. Value, as it has been, is being reassessed by consumers.

When I write poetry, I should look at it not for what it lacks (monetary value) but for what it provides - the meaning that shapes my life and hopefully the lives of others.

I'm curious, what delights you? What would you do if value only implied meaning?

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Urban Sprawl, Harmful to All

Urban Sprawl Threatens Plants, Animals

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Urban sprawl is gobbling up open spaces in fast-growing metropolitan areas so quickly that it could spell extinction for nearly 1,200 species of plants and animals, environmental groups say.

The National Wildlife Federation, Smart Growth America and NatureServe projected that over the next 25 years, more than 22,000 acres of natural resources and habitat will be lost to development in 35 of the largest and most rapidly growing metropolitan areas.

According to the groups, as many as 553 of the nearly 1,200 at-risk species are found only in those areas.

This particular report is about sprawl in the United States, but we are facing a similar crisis in Canada.

The move to suburban areas in lieu of urban has ravaged former wetlands, farmlands, and watershed spaces. It has caused extensive damage to local flora and fauna and has contributed to air pollution (more cars on the roads) and ground water pollution.

On the subway this morning, I spotted an tiny article about the detrimental affects sprawl has on our own health, particularly the increased obesity rate.

Suburban dwellers are more likely to drive - not only because there's a lack of sidewalks but also because there is a greater distance between commercial and residential areas.

This automobile culture promotes myriad deadly habits - limited walking, drive-through eating, and long periods of sitting in traffic. The combination of road rage, stress, poor nutrition, and lack of exercise creates an explosive combination of obesity, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.

It is no surprise to see fatter people in rural and suburban areas.

I noticed this trend when Rick and I were visiting my family in rural Indiana. It seems that all the small towns have turned into strip malls, fast food restaurants, and the one obligatory WalMart. And of course, a plethora of overweight people.

It's really a vicious cycle. And while the answer is not to eradicate the concept of the small town, there is certainly a reason for urban hubs to legislate how land is used (or not used, preferably) in the surrounding districts.

In turn, it would be nice for small towns to cultivate a forgotten Main Street mentality by investing in their downtown cores and discouraging the monoliths from setting up on the outskirts.

Does anyone have any examples of how towns are curbing sprawl? What changes have you noticed in your town/city over the past 10 years?

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

A Home for Biscuit

Biscuit Posted by Hello

Looking for a great dog in Ontario? Consider Biscuit. I want him - but my feline pal would not be too thrilled, not to mention my human housemate.

Notes: Meet our sweet boy Biscuit. Biscuit has had a rough start to life. His foster mom and dad rescued him from an Amish family who were going to destroy him because they wanted a "hunting dog" and Biscuit was a failed hunter in their eyes. Biscuit was also run over twice by their buggy. That being said Biscuit does have a slight limp. But that doesn't stop this friendly, active boy. Biscuit's foster mom and dad have had him for 4 months now. He is house trained and will let you know when he needs out. Some extra obedience training would be good for Biscuit as he tends to get nippy sometimes when playing and over stimulated. That being said, Biscuit would be best in a home without small children, older children would be fine. His foster mom and dad tell us that Biscuit loves to watch TV, especially dog shows! He loves giving kisses or should we say "wash your face" and loves to snuggle up and sleep with you.

Excuse me while I cheese out some more.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


I got to catch Daniel Lanois on the airing of Canada for Asia. Good song. I didn't choose to watch the American version, though. I guess Madonna bastardized John Lennon's Imagine. [ shivers ] I am very glad I missed that...

I'm working like mad on a few grants today, so I will leave you with a couple of interesting reads that I've been meaning to discuss here. I am inundated as usual.

Navel Gazing: Why even feminists are obsessed with fat

Quiz de jour: How does your brain work?

Blogging at work? Be careful...

Friday, January 14, 2005

Sushi as a Metaphor and the Boycott of Beef

"Sushi, sushi, sushi..." Yes, that is what we are having for dinner, but I am also having a Karen Finley moment and am recalling a very weird little rant she put to music on said subject. I like Karen and had the luck of seeing her about a decade ago. Back when extremism was still fairly new to the art world, and performance art was still misunderstood.

Karen's song uses sushi as a metaphor as she mimics the pretentiousness and wealth of the US elite, particularly the California PC who made their fortunes in the eighties.

But that's a different topic...

I had a brief run-in with a guy on a message board regarding the plight of wild horses in the US West. Someone suggested a beef boycott as a way of making an impact and to protest the slaughter of "older" wild horses, which is happening to date.

Anyway, to make a long story short, the guy got uppity about the idea and advised against mixing our issues.

I find this very frustrating since it is largely the cattlemen who have complained and called for the relocation and slaughter of the wild horses. They have over-grazed much of the prairies of the West and have made sure other, larger mammals were eradicated from the plains as not to compete with their income (i.e. cattle). The thinning down of elk, the elimination of bison, and the hunting of cougars and wolves all have been on their agenda from day one.

I am pretty irate because a lot of the horse lovers are also ranchers - hence, they may derive profit from cattle or have friends in the business - and refuse to take a stand against the industry.

Further to that, the idea of not eating beef is outlandish to them, a sacrifice their palates are not willing to make. Even if for the short term.

While I am not a beef eater, it is not vegetarianism I am advocating. I stand firm on my belief that a boycott is a useful tool. I believe the wild horse cause is directly linked to the issue of the beef industry. It isn't tough to make the correlation.

David Suzuki made a statement about how our media gives us limited bits of information and news, with no connect to broader issues and meanings. I think this is also true in the way some non-profits operate. Rather than finding the similarities in the issues they are working on, they remain polarized and short-sighted.

I realize we can't do everything - and focus should be on the central mission. But it is possible to achieve objectives without putting on our blinders for fear of being asked to make our own changes, like not eating beef for a period of time.

Scheduling Date

Rick and I are going on a date tonight. We need the break. Sometimes you have to make a special effort to do romantic things when you're married. When you are worn out and hitched like me, you'll understand.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

The Female Body in Art

I was recently having a conversation with an art friend of mine about the use of the nude female body in the visual arts.

As it stands in fine art photography circles, it is highly discouraged for young photographers to use the nude body as their subject, let alone the female body. It is even more discouraged, and I dare say cliche, for male artists to do so (for obvious reasons).

However, it is also just as obvious that for every nude photograph, painting or sketch, there are at least a dozen buyers, likely more.

I won't even get into advertising's use of nudity because that MO isn't based on art appreciation or the pursuit of higher art forms.

What I am interested in is this - Do you think there is still a need for the body, particularly the female body, to be explored in art? If so, what are the messages you feel are valid or are currently lacking?

Or, are you simpatico with the current high art scene which says nudity is SO yesterday.

Okay, back to business...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Just Got Dissed

Calvin: I'm a genius, but I'm a misunderstood genius.
Hobbes: What's misunderstood about you?
Calvin: Nobody thinks I'm a genius.

I am recovering from a minor ego wound today. A new friend totally blew me off for a big project that I would have liked to have been a part of... Okay, so I have too many things going on right now to add another project to the list, but I am still feeling a bit hurt that I was overlooked.

Not sure how to approach the subject with said friend, or if I should ever bother to mention my feelings at all. Like I said, it would have been a significant project of which I would have appreciated being asked to join. But ...

What's worse is the person didn't even mention it in passing - likely because I wasn't one of the invitees.

This feels like a lame thing to complain about, but feelings are never very rational.

Working for a sculptor

John Henry Waddell Posted by Hello

I had the wonderful experience of working as a model for a sculptor in Arizona. It was a terrifying and liberating experience - one I will never forget.

Like most of us, I was insecure about my body and not especially warm to the idea of standing naked on a platform, and in broad daylight. Go figure.

However, my time working with John, which was short, was validation at its finest. I did come to the realization that I am not different from any other fragile life form, not long for this world. It was humbling and I really enjoyed my newfound freedom. There is incredible liberation in knowing that your fears are very small in the grand picture.

I miss those desert days and the surreal landscape of bronze figures that stood against the canyon backdrop. I miss the warmth of the sun on skin and the meaningful conversations with a man in his eighties who treated life with great reverence.

If you haven't modeled for an artist, I highly recommend it.

John Henry Waddell Posted by Hello

Monday, January 10, 2005

Eric politely asks, "Do SUVs make you stupid?"

Do SUVs Make You Stupid?
Pointless, dangerous and vain as ever, land tanks still sell millions. Only one explanation possible

You can see it in the eyes of most every new SUV buyer as they stare, wide eyed and overwhelmed, at the massive vehicles in the showroom: some sort of veil drops over their eyes, some sort of weird opiate pumps into their brains and they lose all sense of reason or common sense or environmental concern and their ego balloons and their testosterone kicks up three notches and they go into some sort of spasm of denial about how purchasing one of these things will, in fact, contribute quite heartily to the overall ill health of their own bodies and the planet as a whole, not to mention the very reason we are so desperately, violently at war.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

New poem


if pulling these threads animates you
little doll
let me draw your spine
two legs
a mouth
let me take you to the door
exit onto the street
crawl through blizzard conditions
to get your fix

when i pull you up
you do what i want you to
you deny the holy minions
even when they throw pretty words at you
and bring the wine
slow and warm over tonsils
until even the singing

if i sew your eyes shut
you won't see when he is bad
and you are silent
if your mouth has smiled
its static smile
he can bite your excuses in half
you stand there

in the fumbling booths
of freakish fingers
they'll explore
your unfeeling terrain
for five dark demons
for ten vixen hybrids
for 15 shots of gin

my mother is a horrible seamstress
i have not made amends
my mother is a horrible seamstress
i have not made that mistake

in the fumbling booths
of freakish fingers
they'll explore
your unfeeling terrain
for five dark demons
for ten vixen hybrids
for 15 shots of gin

my mother is a horrible seamstress
i have not made amends

for what I ask you to do for him
and 15 shots of gin
© Aleah Sato

Friday, January 07, 2005


Hello everyone.

I have been busy blogging over at the biz blog this week, which is why I have been posting small ramblings here. However, I am preparing a long and scathing expose on the beef industry for next week, so I will be back to my usual soap box then. Enjoy the sweetness now.

I had a wonderful lunch with udge yesterday. A wonderful experience and refreshing to know the possibilities of creative synergy with fellow bloggers. Not all online friendships turn out to be nightmarish. We'll likely meet up again.

I'm also currently mired in writing - both for businesses and nonprofits.

Not a lot of poems over the month - guess the holidays left me less than inspired. I'm trying to come up with some kind of project that will involve y'all, so if you have any fun ideas, email me or leave those sparkling thoughts here.

I need to post a poem today...yes, I will.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

And the Beef Patty Said Unto Him

Purely superficial post

Spanky pants Posted by Hello

These rock and I want them. That is all.

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Reflection II


All around her the desolation was evident. It's so quiet here...The night almost echoes, she thought.

Cass walked past the rows of old mining hotels, each of them painted in cheerful pastels, lining Main Street and jutting out in odd angles, reminiscent of times when structures were assembled over night.

She had heard at one point in the 1890s nearly 20,00 men and women occupied these streets. But she can't image it now ... the town seemed so precarious, dangling over the side of the mountain.

Where did they all live, she wondered.

Looking past the old structures clinging to the slopes, she spotted the First National mine. It stood ominous and exposed; its enormous mouth blackened by time and misery. This was where hundreds of men succumbed to promises of wealth and immunity - the nexus of the town's current tourism industry.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Blondes have more funds

Desperately seeking Spears
Celebrity eclipsed geekdom as blonde bombshells saturated search engines in 2004.

The verdict is in. Blondes are the most sought after on the Internet, according to Yahoo and Google. The names dominating the top search terms for 2004 were Britney Spears, Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, and Pamela Anderson. Web searchers were clamoring for celebrity from the world’s top two search engines - Google, with a customer base of 300 million unique visitors, and Yahoo, with 160 million. While Google’s top search item was “Britney Spears,” “American Idol” topped the list at Yahoo.

Forgive me for posting this - uck.

Somebody give me a wig and some falsies. I need to increase traffic.

I Need a Bucket

because this story induces vomiting!

Too smart to be a wife

MEN prefer their wives to be less intelligent than themselves and successful women struggle to stay married, research reveals.

Relationship experts say professional men prefer to marry women "like their mums" who do not challenge them intellectually.

Most guys I know and have befriended prefer to date / marry women of equal intellectual stature, thankfully.

I cannot imagine how boring a marriage would be without lively discussion and a feeling of mutual respect.

Not to mention, there are scads of stupid guys out there - how the hell are they finding partners when they are so obviously dead last on the food chain.