My Week in Pictures.

Saying “Goodbye, CSIRAC”.

My friend, Zoe (who kindly and awesomely did the artwork for this here blog), saw months of hard work culminate in her Next Wave Festival show, Goodbye, CSIRAC, about women, technology and Australia’s first computer. Congrats, Zoe!

Senior’s cinema.

I was supposed to go and see Midnight in Paris with a friend who loves the movie, but she bailed to go away for the weekend. Seeing as I have no life, I got my senior’s cinema on on Sunday morning and went to see it solo. I make it a rule not to see Woody Allen productions (what with that whole marrying-his-stepdaughter thing), but I actually enjoyed this one.

Dark Shadows.

I was really looking forward to Dark Shadows, which is unusual for a Tim Burton/Johnny Depp collaborative effort, but it let me down. I enjoyed the imagery and Eva Green’s character Angelique, but the story had massive holes in it. The resurrection of Helena Bonham Carter’s character, Dr. Hoffman, at the end means a sequel will (hopefully) attempt to fill these holes.

The stack.

I’m finally plowing through Bret Hart’s autobiography, Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling, after having it on rotation for a couple of months now. It’s getting to the good, but tragic, parts now, with the Montreal Screwjob and his brother Owen’s death. Hart actually lived a sad life, despite all his accomplishments in the professional wrestling world.

Elsewhere: [Wikipedia] Montreal Screwjob.

My Week in Pictures.

The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia.

The Wonders of Ancient Mesopotamia opened at the Melbourne Museum last Friday, and I found it much more impressive than their past exhibitions, Titanic and Tutankhamun. Very spacious and a lot more intimate than previous years, and the lighting on some of the carved stone reliefs was magnificent, harkening back to the time of A Day in Pompeii, which I felt was much more content-focussed than some of the Museum’s other exhibitions.

For old time’s never was’ sake?

Normally whenever I see so called “women’s literature” or “chick lit”, I run a mile. In this case, I stayed long enough to take a pink and stereotypical portrait.

Back to Booktown.

Last weekend, it was that time again: Clunes Booktown time. I travelled cross-country (train from Melbourne to Bendigo, car from Bendigo to Clunes, shuttle bus from Clunes to Ballarat and another train from Ballarat to Melbourne. Phew!) to spend the day in Clunes’ freezing weather for an abundance of books. I picked up most of my haul within the first hour, and had to cart it around for the rest of the day. One of the garage/book sales out of someone’s front yard had a “book trolley” for hire; I think I’ll take them up on their offer for next year! My companion, Hannah, walked around empty handed for most of the day, until she picked up four great books on our trek back to the car.

For myself I got a book of essays by Gloria Steinem (including her famous Playboy club exposé. Eep!) and the incredibly rare first edition of Bret Easton Ellis’ The Informers and the Harvard Lampoon’s Twilight spoof, Nightlight. As gifts, I got my housemate a much-coveted (though unbeknownst to me til after the fact; I just thought the cover looked cool!) Kevin Smith-penned edition of Spider Man and Black Cat (with feminist themes: bonus!) and The Hours for my mum.

Break time.

Mia shares some water with her new friend. What a nifty little invention!

The dog park.

Mia’s fully vaccinated now, so that means I can start taking her to grassy areas.

At her post-adoption training session, I expressed concern at her aggression on the lead and interacting with other dogs. The trainer suggested taking her to a dog park during a quiet time (Tuesday before lunch, in this case) to get her used to socialising with other dogs. While her playtime was a bit more aggressive than I would have liked, Mia ended up making friends with a little poodle-shih tzu cross named Ovi. Ovi’s owner, Misty, is new to Australia from the U.S., so we’ve made plans for the dogs to catch up for a play date. I secretly think Misty was in search of some human playmates, too.

The stack.

Some quality articles in The Age on Saturday: a testimonial on why Prince still matters (he’d better, ’cause I just forked out a pretty penny for tickets to his concert next week), and an investigation into Nick D’Arcy and that assault incident. I liked this quote from the piece: “I think that as role models, we should be held to a higher standard than the average person,” spoken by Kieren Perkins. Here here.

The senior’s movie.

Rita Hayworth’s Gilda is supposed to be the embodiment of the femme fatale, so when the movie was screening (and still is, this Saturday and Sunday at 11am, and Monday at 1:30pm) at ACMI for $11 (cheaper for seniors!), I had to get on it. I didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would, and found it sexist as all hell, Hayworth is a dream to look at!

Related: Tutankhamun & the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at Melbourne Museum.

Clunes Back to Booktown.

My Week in Pictures 26th April 2012.

Cherchez la Femme Fatale, Take 2.

Mesopotamia image via Museum Victoria.

My Week in Pictures.

New puppy!

As of yesterday I’m a mama and the proud new owner of a dog!

She is currently nameless, but is a five-year-old fox terrier I adopted from The Lost Dog’s Home in North Melbourne (half price adoptions for the rest of the school holidays, so get on it!). She had patella surgery two weeks ago so favours falling asleep on the couch or bed next to me, as you can see from the photos, but I’m told once she’s recuperated she loves going for jogs. So do I! It’s a match made in heaven.

What do you think I should name her?

That’s not the kind of rabbit you should be looking for, Eddie!

Easter egg hunt.

I had to work over Easter, so the housemate and I decided to do an Easter egg hunt on Good Friday, in the Women’s Garden near our house. Eddie went first and hid some eggs for me to find, then while he went to the servo for a drink, I hid some eggs for him.

Apparently that wasn’t enough though, because when I woke up on Sunday morning I found a fresh stash of Easter eggs waiting for me! Thanks, Eddie!

WrestleMania 28.

After my trip to Bendigo last week, the housemate and I had a catch up over pizza, ice cream and WrestleMania. How very American.

For you wrestling fans, I’ll just briefly state that I was quite disappointed in the whole spectacle this year. As much as everyone hates John Cena and it was The Rock’s hometown, I think Cena should have won; CM Punk VS. Chris Jericho was lacklustre and hardly a showcase of “the best in the world”; Triple H VS. The Undertaker was probably the best match of the night, but still didn’t live up to high expectations.

Lipstick & Dynamite.

Staying with the wrestling theme, Zoe, her boyfriend, her friend and I went to ACMI on Sunday night to watch a doco on the history of “lady wrestling”; emphasis on the history. The doco focussed on the original female professional wrestlers, like Mae Young, The Fabulous Moolah and Ella Waldek. It talked about the original women’s wrestling promoter, Billy Wolfe, and how he was a latter-day Vince McMahan, exploiting the “girl wrestlers” as eye candy. As Gladys “Kill ‘Em” Gillem said, if you weren’t wrestling for Wolfe, you were an “outlaw outfit”.

The doco also dealt with the abundance of sexual assault and domestic violence suffered by the ladies featured, and how some of them got into the business to protect themselves. Little did they know, the wrestling business can spit you out and leave you worse off than before. If there’s one thing I really got from Lipstick & Dynamite, it was that; wrestlers don’t belong to a union and if they’re deemed unmarketable (back then, female wrestlers were seen as “novelty” acts, along with midget wrestling, tag teams and non-white wrestlers) or injured, they’re brushed aside as yesterday’s news.

Mirror Mirror.

Well, that was an exercise in how not to do Snow White. Review to come.

The stack.

I’ve been spamming everyone’s Facebook feeds with quotes from Fragments of Marilyn Monroe’s notes, letters and poems. I’ve still got a few pages to go in the semi-coffee table book, and I’ve already begun reading the gargantuan tome that is Bret Hart’s memoir. Would you expect anything less from a former professional wrestler (I promise, that rounds out the wrestling theme for the week)?

In magazine land, I wouldn’t normally buy Shop Til You Drop (despite it being a consistently great magazine, I really don’t need one that encourages me to buy even more!), but I think the puppies and Leighton Meester on the cover pulled me in. Apparently, next month’s issue features items that are all available online. Hmm, I might have to break my no-Shop rule for that one…

Related: My Week in Pictures 5th April, 2012.

Was This What Marilyn Monroe was Really Thinking When She was Filming The Prince & the Showgirl?

Image via Bleacher Report.

Event: Melbourne Writers’ Festival—Never, Ever, Again: Why Australian Abortion Law Needs Reform by Caroline de Costa Book Launch.

Last year’s Melbourne Writers’ Festival was pretty lackluster, and I didn’t attend any events.

This year, however, is jammed packed with hard-hitting seminars, news-related talks and all-day workshops. There are more events I’m interested in than there is money in my pocket.

But to kick things off was a free, no-bookings-necessary book launch at ACMI’s The Cube on Friday afternoon for Caroline de Costa’s second edition of Never, Ever, Again: Why Australian Abortion Law Needs Reform (review to come in the next few weeks).

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d heard of de Costa before, and just saw the word “abortion” and knew I had to attend!

However, when the author began speaking about the abortion drug RU486, I remembered reading her work a few weeks ago on MamaMia, and featuring said article in “On the (Rest of the) Net”. It is an article I recommend checking out wholeheartedly.

In this article, De Costa asserts that we need to increase sex education and access to contraceptives in order to bring Australia’s high abortion rate down.

In de Costa’s address at the event, she said no woman enjoys having an abortion and that there’s “no such thing” as “pro-abortion”, an assertion that I don’t 100% agree with, but I do think it is a damaging label pro-lifers sometimes paint pro-choicers with.

Ultimately, de Costa says we “should be concerned about the health and safety of every pregnant woman” as opposed to the biologically dependent mass of “unwanted tissue” in her body.

The other speakers at the event—the MC whose name I didn’t catch, long-time pro-choicer Dr. Jo Wainer, former Minister for Women’s Affairs from 2007 to 2010, Maxine Morand, and Dr. Chris Bayly from the Royal Women’s Hospital—reiterated de Costa’s sentiments in her book, that the “hidden business that is women’s business” of abortion needs to be destigmatised and legalised in order to increase access to safe pregnancy terminations.

Finally, the revised edition of the book includes an extra chapter on the Queensland trial of Tegan Leach and Sergie Brennan, who were charged with procuring an illegal abortion in 2009 when they purchased the drug RU486.

Dr. Wainer noted that when Leach was on the stand being questioned as to why she felt the need to abort her baby, it was the “21st century equivalent of putting women in the stocks”. Or burning at the stake for her “crimes”, if you will.

It’s something that, as the book’s title suggests, should happen never, ever, again.

That’s why abortion law in Australia needs to be reformed.

Related: Grey’s Anatomy Final Asks “When Does Life Begin?”

Private Practice: Pro-Choice?

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] RU486, Sex Education & Contraception. That’s All We Need.

[MamaMia] The Couple Facing Jail Because They Tried to “Procure an Abortion”. Hello, Queensland? It’s 2010.

[Televisual] The Changing Economics of the TV Abortion.

Image via Melbourne Writers’ Festival.

Movies: Blondes Have More Fun—And They’re Magical!—In Tangled.

 

The premise of the latest Disney princess effort—a retelling of the story of Rapunzel—is that the damsel in distress is locked away in her tower so that mean baddies won’t be able to find her and steal her supernatural healing powers.

The clincher is that if she cuts her long hair, it turns brown and loses its magical properties. A blatant favouritism of blondes over brunettes if ever there was one!

Granted, the brunette Disney princess has seen somewhat of a resurgence in recent years, with the first African American princess, Tiana, in The Princess & the Frog, Mulan, Esmeralda of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Pocahontas, Jasmine from Aladdin, Beauty & the Beast’s Belle, and even the flame haired Little Mermaid. Perhaps the blonde haired heroines (okay, I wouldn’t exactly class Cinderella and Aurora as “heroines” per se, but Rapunzel certainly kicked some but in Tangled) wanted a shot at the multi-dimensional princess crown.

Other than that, I really enjoyed Tangled. I usually find Mandy Moore supremely annoying, her voice especially, but I could barely tell it was her throughout the movie. Chuck’s Zachary Levi was great as the misunderstood Flynn Rider/Eugene Fitzherbert. Unfortunately, I missed the first ten minutes or so due to a delicious brunch and Saturday morning traffic on Chapel Street, however it was fairly easy to pick back-story up at the tear jerking pinnacle.

Drug of Choice: The Disney Heroine.

Last weekend’s The Age supplement, A2, was jammed packed full of goodness , including a feature on the recent spate of fairytale-inspired exhibitions.

One of the exhibitions talked about in the article is the Bendigo Art Gallery’s “Looking for Faeries: The Victorian Tradition”, which I saw yesterday, and ACMI’s “Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales”, about the fairytales adapted for the screen by Walt Disney, with the groundbreaking (for the time) Snow White & the Seven Dwarves being a key component.

As you know, I can’t get enough of my Disney princesses, especially the constant discourse surrounding their affect on young girls, so this passage from the article took my fancy:

“In the past, and particularly in the 1950s, Disney fairytale heroes and, above all, heroines, were insubstantial figures, despite their predicaments, and energy and comedy were provided by the sidekicksthe dwarves in Snow White, for example. You can see a change in 1991’s witty, thoroughly engaging Beauty & the Beast: Belle was a more dynamic heroine than Snow White, and there was a character in the film who thought he was a handsome prince, but definitely wasn’tthe vain and vicious Gaston.

“[Tangled producer Roy] Conli credits John Lasseter, producer, director and chief creative officer at Disney/Pixar, for an insistence that central characters have to be the emotional and the comic core of a film. So, Rapunzel, the girl with 20 metres of blonde hairwho has been shut up in a tower her whole life, or, “like, grounded, like, forever”isn’t simply set free, end of story. In Tangled, she has a male counterpart, a foil, he says, a worldly, dashing thief called Flynn Rider whose adventure of discovery takes place alongside hers.

“… Whatever we make of these new fairytale dynamics, whether we regard them as retrograde or progressive, misguided or inventive… fairytales are often more appealing to adults than children.”

Perhaps that’s why I still can’t get enough of Belle… and it’s nice to see a modern-day Rapunzel adopting, like, a modern-day vernacular.

Related: Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

Elsewhere: [Bendigo Art Gallery] Looking for Faeries: The Victorian Tradition.

[Australian Centre for the Moving Image] Dreams Come True: The Art of Disney’s Classic Fairy Tales.