About me


I'm a digital marketer, writer/editor, misanthropic socialite and self-proclaimed Facebook statustician.

As co-founder of Third Wunder, a digital marketing agency based in Montreal, I tackle projects, builds and campaigns for our clients.

In my spare time I'm the proud co-organizer of the Montreal Girl Geeks and have been known to rock a moustache when campaigning for Movember.

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iStock Comedy 2: Royalty-free ...

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iStock Comedy 3: The Battle of Geddes-burg

October 27th, 2010 by Liesl received 1 Comment »

It’s getting colder and darker, which can only mean it’s time for a little more iStock Comedy! You’ve voted on quite a few bizarre images in Vote for iStock Comedy & iStock Comedy 2: Royalty-free Revenge, but this time round I thought it’d be fun to tackle a theme.

So in this third instalment, I’m getting my own back for all the Facebook friends* who’ve basically turned my news feed into the social media equivalent of a coast-to-coast baby monitor. Seriously, if you scroll through my friend list, you’d think by the profile pic icons that I’ve been hanging out at an awful lot of daycare centres. So until FB develops baby recognition software, my retaliation is to offer up the weirdest stock baby photos for your voting pleasure.

*Are you my friend? Do you have an infant (or two)? Of course I couldn’t POSSIBLY mean you & yours. Your family is totally the exception, and without that 200th picture of your baby eating creamed spinach I couldn’t possibly have wrapped my head around the sheer, overwhelming cuteness. It’s all those OTHER Facebook friends cluttering up my feed with bonnets, bottles & babies…

Here’s a recap on how iStock Comedy works:

Every now and then, you’ll perform a routine search for royalty-free images on iStockphoto.com and a little gem of WTF comedy gold springs up on your screen. I am certainly not the first to identify silly stock photos, but these will be my methods:

  1. You get to vote for your favourite! (Poll closes on Sunday, October 31at 11:59 PM, because I celebrate Halloween with creepy iStock goodness). Post your reasons/debate the virtues of your pick in the comments.
  2. Images that try too hard or are purposefully “silly” (e.g. people making stupid faces) are disqualified.
  3. I purchase the images (where I can, sometimes weird iStock photographers demand exorbitant numbers of credits) because stuff this awesome deserves to be freed of watermarks.

So without further ado, here are the strangest iStock baby photos I’ve seen. Bear in mind that contributors want these images to be profitable and sell, why else would they be on iStock? So the greater the absurdity and the less marketable the image, the funnier it is.

Baby in Puppy Dog Costume

Baby in Puppy Dog Costume

Name: Baby in Puppy Dog Costume

iStock Photo Description: Feeding time for the puppy.

Downloads: 10

Select Keywords: Baby, Costume, Dog, Halloween, Child, Puppy, Dog Food, Pet Food, Dog Bowl, Feeding, Spotted, Animals Feeding, Pets

Why Vote For It:

  • Um… because it’s a baby in a puppy dog costume!
  • Finally settles bottle vs. breastfeeding debate: dog bowl FTW
  • “Spot” must be among top 100 baby names of 2010
  • Bone = perfect teething solution

What’s Holding it Back:

  • Not yet housetrained
  • Cruelly turned down by the SPCA Adoption Centre
  • In all its weirdness, it’s still pretty cute
Angel Fairy Baby with Wings and Flowers Isolated on White

Angel Fairy Baby with Wings and Flowers Isolated on White

Name: Angel Fairy Baby with Wings and Flowers Isolated on White

iStock Photo Description: Cute baby with wings and floral tiara, surrounded by flowers..

Downloads: 9

Select Keywords: Baby, Fairy, Flower, Single Flower, Angel, Costume, Crown, Sadness, Tiara, Artificial Wing, Child, Cherub

Why Vote For It:

  • Angel + Fairy + Baby + Wings + Flowers yet still somehow resulted in an adorable FAIL
  • Palpable awkwardness & discomfort
  • All that pixie dust and “Sadness” is still a keyword…

What’s Holding it Back:

  • That baby does NOT want to be in the shot
  • There’s an angry little old lady somewhere missing a whole pile of plastic flowers
  • Future therapy bills & lawsuit
Young Boy Holding Skull

Young Boy Holding Skull

Name: Young Boy Holding Skull

iStock Photo Description: Young caucasian boy holding large skull

Downloads: 1 (i.e. only mine)

Select Keywords: Baby, Costume, Bizarre, Spooky, People, Clothing, Halloween, Mausoleum, Nasal Cavity, Human Jaw Bone, Eye Socket

Why Vote For It:

  • Because “eye socket” HAS to be a popular search query
  • Baby’s face reads front-page tragedy, skull reads post-Halloween Dollarama bargain bin

What’s Holding it Back:

  • Piltdown Man precedent may raise suspicions over skull authenticity
  • Skeleton hoodie in poor taste, dented skull’s feelings
  • Oral hygiene clearly a problem for the deceased
  • Fog machine juice running dangerously low…
Little Baker

Little Baker

Name: Little Baker

iStock Photo Description: little boy in the cook costume at the kitchen sitting on the table. Special toned photo f/x

Downloads: >20

Select Keywords: Chef, Baby, Child, Cooking, Domestic Kitchen, Food, Bakery, Bread, Small, Offspring, People, Hat, Eggs, Milk

Why Vote For It:

  • Babies caught making apple pie late at night are way better than those lazy, sleeping babies
  • More hygienic than cartoon rat chefs
  • Crisp, clean uniform

What’s Holding it Back:

  • That flour pile is a storm just waiting to happen…
  • Surprise is for the weak, babies should expect pesky parental interruption at any time
Infant in a Pumpkin

Infant in a Pumpkin

Name: Infant in a Pumpkin

iStock Photo Description: This is my daughter in a pumpkin I carved last year. In this image she is 1 month old and as content as a child in a pumpkin can be.

Downloads: 20

Select Keywords: Halloween, Child, Baby, Costume, Pumpkin, Autumn, Jack O’ Lantern, Toddler, Babies Only, Baby Girls, Trick Or Treat

Why Vote For It:

  • Photographer’s description confesses to blatantly using own daughter for iStock profit
  • Similar to those “how many squares do you spot in this image?” quizzes, only with jack o’ lanterns!
  • Jack Skellington is clearly her father, and he’s pretty bad-ass
  • It bears repeating, “she is 1 month old and as content as a child in a pumpkin can be.”

What’s Holding it Back:

  • Not quite Halloween enough. Needs additional pumpkin(s).
  • Daughter realizes embarrassing photos of her not only all over Internet, but sold as royalty-free images = easily won emancipation suit
Sad Baby Pumpkin

Sad Baby Pumpkin

Name: Sad Baby Pumpkin

iStock Photo Description: Sad little Baby Pumpkin, can’t find his way back to the pumpkin field.

Downloads: 10

Select Keywords: pumpkin, sad, baby, halloween, decoration, antique-looking, ceramic

Why Vote For It:

  • Part baby face, part pumpkin, all sad!
  • By the sacred tenets of gang tattoo symbolism, Sad Baby Pumpkin has killed 2 people: you don’t mess with SBP!
  • Takes Anne Geddes to the next level of creepy anthropomorphism
  • Reminiscent of first iStock contender, Sad Orange
  • Definitely has the WTF Factor

What’s Holding it Back:

  • People keep mistaking him for a vegetable, making fruity Sad Baby Pumpkin (SBP) even sadder
  • “Pumpkin field” (as opposed to patch) destroyed in fire, SBP will never find his way back

And that’s it! Vote now, and remember to check back after Halloween to find out which iStock baby picture wins!

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Guerillas in the Real-World: Nolita Tweetie Birds

May 19th, 2010 by Liesl received Comments Off on Guerillas in the Real-World: Nolita Tweetie Birds

For those of you wondering (and there are fewer of you each day, Google tells me), I have not been blackmailed into silence by the Interacting with Print secret society. And the less said about my absence, the better (the interwebs are brimming with ‘Oh blog, how I neglected thee!’ posts.) Suffice it to say that: new job (loving it!) + warm-weather-induced-social-life-ressurection (ditto!) = blatant blog neglect.

So, moving on…

I Tought I Taw…

Today, I was delighted to Facebook-stalk upon a series of pictures from a guerilla project manned by a friend of mine and cohorts. It involved sprinkling a series of tweeting birds across their NYC Nolita neighborhood. But it really has to be seen to be appreciated:

Nolita Tweetie 1

Nolita Tweetie tweets, "Ate a cat. Tasted like shit. It was revenge."

From what I gather the endeavor was based in pure “why not?” whimsy, and to me it evokes a kind of tongue-in-cheek, absurd and literalist observation of the kind of amusing, disposable ephemera with which we clutter our digital world invading and occupying an actual little corner somewhere. 

Nolita Tweetie 2

Nolita Tweetie tweets, "Just had a fabulous meal with Naomi and Kate in Nolita."

I’m struck by how many fun, cheeky, hard copy leave-behind operations occur in cities worldwide. Sometimes there’s a greater purpose like the DARPA Network Challenge (if by greater purpose you mean a nice cheque for finding 10.1% of Nena’s stash), sometimes it’s the brainchild of a roomful of marketers, but the most intriguing exist for their own sake and some even ride the meme wave all the way and develop a viral life of their own (Bacon, anyone?)

Barking Up the Right Tree

All the while I think there’s the underlying notion that for all we talk of a digital, virtual, soft copy world, ever-evolving with the release of each new i-product, we still love the real deal. On a rainy day (or after viewing The Story of Stuff) I may even argue that our rampant consumerism grows from an increasing, almost fetishistic desire to stamp out a brick & mortar impact in an increasingly abstract world.   

The Work of Art in the Age of Digital Proliferation

Working in digital media, and living in an online world, it’s easy to get caught up in the virtual aspects of what we do and how we live. So easy, in fact, that it becomes refreshing and exhilerating to experience a work articulated in actual space. Particularly a work of social or political commentary, which have become the content mainstays of the blogo-twitter-insertnewfad-o-spheres.

When I think about efforts like the Tweetie birds, I often wonder what Walter Benjamin would think about the work of art in the digital age. In his 1935 essay, The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, he describes how the aura of a piece withers in reproduction, divorcing mass-produced copies from the ritual, meaning and intent of the original, and becoming ideal vehicles for political ideology.

Keepin’ It Real

The world wide web being what it is, with each new Facebook/Twitter recruit or company determined to churn out post after post to play the SEO game, sometimes we have to realize that Content isn’t always King. Sometimes Content is Clutter. In fact, more often than not, it’s clutter. And the more of us generating it and splashing it around the series of tubes, the more meaningful NOT mediating your experience can be (so put your recording device down and actually watch the concert, why don’t you?)

So while I acknowledge I’d only know of the Tweetie birds because of dear mother internet (she pays my bills, gives me ideas and tucks me in at night), I wish I could have stumbled across them the old-fashioned way: a cute little day-brightening discovery in the midst of my standard routine.

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Montreal One-act Film Noir Play Competition

May 14th, 2010 by Liesl received 2 Comments »

As my Facebook friends would surely confirm, I’m hardly one for shameless self-promotion (luckily for that last statement, I don’t import my blog posts on FB…)

But when others promote me it seems only fair to supplement their efforts. So here’s a QDF Press Release:

At the Katharine Hepburn Tribute on May 13, held at the Atwater Library, Byron Toben announced the winners of [the Montreal One-act Play] award, opened for submissions in January 2010 and closing March 31. The theme was Montreal or environs written in a film noir style.

After much deliberation, the prize of $360 was split between two tied entrants.

They are: Liesl Barrell for One Night in Berlin and Jane Gilchrist for Fatal Error

Ms Barrell’s play has its resolution in Montreal, although the entanglements originated in Berlin. It was mounted to some acclaim at the 2008 Montreal Fringe Festival (the parameters of the award did not preclude previous staging).

Ms.Gilchrist’s play, written in February and March, has its entanglements originating in Kentucky (!), but resolved in Montreal’s Loyola district.

On the short list were: Kelly Horwarth for In Debted Bliss, Jessica LaFrance/Andrew Smith for The Complicated, Travis Henry Morgan for The Mad Hatter, Megan Piercy for Lone, John Udy for Film Noir Play.

All kidding about promotion aside, it’s awfully nice to be read and recognized at any level (no matter how niche or local), especially so long after producing the play.

And it warms my heart to know that there are others out there who enjoy the sordid imaginings of noir as much as I do, and would go to the trouble of encouraging writers to embrace their cynicism and twisted inner voice over narration. 

So thank you Byron Toben, QDF and company for this lovely gesture! It put a little spring in my step and has me thinking about all sorts of new projects on the horizon…

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2010 Ada Lovelace Day | Tanya McGinnity

March 24th, 2010 by Liesl received 2 Comments »

Today (March 24) the blogosphere honours Ada Lovelace, considered the first ever computer programmer (and daughter of poofy-shirted poet Byron, no less). Charles Babbage nicknamed her The Enchantress of Numbers, and she kicked algorithmic ass for his Analytical Engine back in the pre-natal days of computing.

A Web of One’s Own

But what’s really neat about the movement, is that participants pledge to honour a woman they admire (in blog posts, tweets, etc.) for achievements in science and/or technology in celebration of Ada’s life and work. They can then submit their hommage to the findingada.com database and entries are catalogued and mapped out, all in an effort to spotlight the oft-downplayed contributions of women in these fields.

The Geeks Shall Inherit the Earth

Tanya McGinnity

Tanya McGinnity: Moshpit Philosopher and Community-builder

For my tribute, I picked local champion Tanya McGinnity, founder of the Montreal chapter of the Girl Geek Dinners (find a group near you: there are 60 worldwide and counting…) Not only because she’s a project manager in tech circles that I admire, but because she uses her considerable community-building experience to bring bright, talented and geeky women together to share knowledge and make connections.

“Definitely Does Compute”

I’ve only been going to the Girl Geek Dinners (GGD) since November, and I can’t believe how much I have learned or how many engaged and amazing people I’ve met through the events in such a relatively short time (Interactive Storytelling in Video Games! WordPress Tutorial!) As the only woman in my web firm for nearly two years, it’s been a treat to meet so very many other tech-friendly lasses (and a few lads, too). In fact, some of the events draw close to a hundred people (where do they all come from?)  I always leave feeling enriched and inspired (so I was rather bummed that I missed this week’s instalment), and that’s no accident…

A Lil’ Punk in the Trunk

It takes real commitment, drive and Thatchers to put on events this successful, draw the right speakers and reach out to build an audience, and Tanya does it because she is clearly passionate about building a better network for women in the tech community. As she says on her blog:

I come out of the punk rock scene and believe that when people fall down in the moshpit, you pick them up and help them out. I believe that you can do it yourself, without the help of a big label backing you up. I believe that we are all need to share and collaborate in order to truly be fulfilled.

She works hard to make Montreal a more hospitable place for girl geeks, and it’s Tanya’s plucky moshpit philosophy that makes me (and doubtless many others) feel like we’re not at it alone, that there’s a tangible community behind us. That sugar and spice might just be the sweet smell of success in the digital age.

Math Isn’t Hard

Tanya has exciting plans to reach out even further, to inspire school-aged girls to take another look at careers in web, gaming, engineering and other geeky fields.You can follow her on Twitter or join the MTL Girl Geek Dinner group on Facebook.

I for one can’t wait to see what she has in store next, for April’s GGD and for the group as a whole.

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