My Weekend with Wrestlers.

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The last thing I expected when I attended a cousin’s wedding a few weeks ago was to reconnect with a family friend/fellow wrestling fan and be swept up in a two-week whirlwind of wrestling mania.

But that’s what happened to me and I’ve been reeling ever since.

A bit of background: I’ve been a die hard wrestling fan for twelve years, and even though I can’t afford/my landlord won’t let me have cable television to watch weekly episodes of WWE Raw, SmackDown!, Main Event and NXT, I try to stay abreast of what’s happening in the world of professional wrestling, and I never miss a WrestleMania. (For the uninitiated, WrestleMania is a yearly wrestling spectacular that brings the biggest stars [The Rock, Hulk Hogan, John Cena, The Undertaker, etc.] together in some of the most memorable moments [Hogan lifting the over-500 pound Andre the Giant in a scoop slam at WrestleMania III, The Undertaker’s undefeated streak, Edge spearing Jeff Hardy from 20 feet above the ring at WrestleMania X-Seven, the Money in the Bank ladder matches] in wrestling history.) One of my grandma’s close friends, Zoran—a huge wrestling fan and promoter who is married to the cousin of a WWE Superstar—and I have been introduced once or twice before and bonded over our mutual interest, but that was really the extent of our relationship.

So when we ran into each other at the aforementioned wedding, you can bet wrestling was on the conversational agenda. My answer when asked if I was still into it was, “Hell yeah, I just met Mick Foley last week!” Zoran revealed he was actually the photographer for Foley’s show, and that they went out to dinner prior. If only that wedding had’ve been the week before…

Zoran also told me that as of the following week he was working on a film project with a bunch of former WWE stars: Nick “Eugene” Dinsmore, Orlando Jordan, Gene Snitsky, “The Masterpiece” Chris Masters, Carlito and Rob Conway, as well as Ohio Valley Wrestling star, Mohamad Ali Vaez, and that I should come out for dinner with them later that week. He didn’t have to ask me twice.

In the days leading up to the dinner, I contracted a stomach bug. Great! After a few days off work, I mustered up enough physical strength to trek to Prahan for dinner to sip lemonade while everyone else indulged in a three-course meal. There I spoke a little with Nick, Orlando, Rob and some non-wrestling company including Zoran’s lovely wife Carrie, but mainly kept quiet as I pondered Zoran’s previous offer to be involved in the film as a wrestling valet. Or, a piece of eye candy that escorts wrestlers to the ring, for those not in the know.

As soon as I was dropped home by Zoran and Nick and stepped in my front door I decided to do it. After all, it’s not every day you can say you spent the evening at dinner with some of the world’s most famous wrestlers, let alone engage in a working relationship with them!

At a barbeque a few days later, I got to know some of the wrestlers a bit better, namely Rob and Ali, met some more people involved in the film, and was privy to bits and pieces of the film’s storyline. It was there that my feminist tendencies were revealed in conversation (something I’m still trying to reconcile with my wrestling fandom: watch this space), and were continuously brought up throughout the rest of my time with them. While many people tend to tune out when the topic of gender equality comes up, I think most of the wrestlers really got a kick out of being around a feminist; something I don’t imagine happens very often.

It was also at the barbeque that Zoran invited me to go up to my hometown, Bendigo, for the filming and some club-hopping with the group the following weekend.

It’d been years since I’d experienced the insular nightlife of Bendigo, and I was feeling some trepidation about it. But, again, when else am I ever going to hang out with wrestlers I grew up watching in the town I grew up in? Worlds collide…

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So, on a Friday night after work, I took the train up, dumped my stuff at my mum’s house, and headed out to meet the group. We hit up a couple of relatively dead bars before ending up on the top floor of Huha, where people over 21 and music with words and a decipherable beat go to die. I gravitated towards Zoran, Carrie, their friend Merrin and the two guys who were filming the late-night shenanigans, Corey and Sam, as they seemed to have a similar attitude as me to the atmosphere of the club.

It wasn’t a total loss, though; I got a free drink, saw a childhood friend, got to wear an outfit I’d been wanting to debut for months, and had a D&M about U.S. politics, feminism and Tupac with Chris, who I had yet to really get to know.

Me and a couple of others eventually convinced the group to gravitate downstairs where they were actually playing good music. By that point we’d lost Zoran, Ali, Corey and Sam and their cameras, and Nick.  I had a dance to a few songs, but by about 2:30am with no end in sight for the rest of the revelers, I called it a night and went home.

The next day, after barely any sleep from ruminating about the surreality of the previous night, I caught a ride with Corey to the location of that day’s filming, a property out whoop-whoop. We stood around in the sun for a few hours while production managers, investors, the film crew and hired help set up for that night’s scene, until it was time to go and pick up the wrestlers and their food.

The rest of the day was kind of a blur, as I became increasingly anxious about my cameo appearance in the project. What started out as a simple valet job that required next to no acting transformed into my character (check me out, I have a character!) needing a reason to suddenly appear on the scene as a valet. At one point the idea of me physically interfering in Chris and Carlito’s match and getting spanked for my efforts (see how troublingly sexist wrestling can be?) was brought up, but was scrapped due to my inexperience in and around the ring and the likelihood that I could get hurt.

We shot a few takes of my eventual cameo in the hot early evening sun and it was over in less than twenty minutes, so I worked myself up over nothing. What I really should have been focusing on, though, was navigating my through the ring ropes in heels, which I’ve never done before. Hell, I’ve never even been in a wrestling ring, period.

Nick, Gene, Chris and Carlito (who I ended up escorting as a tag team) were super helpful and advised me of what I needed to do and when. I did experience some “displacement” (Chris and Carlito’s take on anxiety, from what I could understand of their sophomoric antics) in the lead up, but I’d like to think that dissipated once I clambered into the back of a ute (our mode of transportation to the ring in the middle of a dusty paddock), struggled my way between the bottom and middle ropes (according to wrestling “etiquette”, that’s the way women have to get into the ring, even if they’re too tall and wearing too high a pair of heels, with the exception of Stacy Keibler) and self-consciously cheered for my team on the outside of the ring. Only time—and the footage—will tell, I guess…

After the match we could relax, so I sat outside on the patio and chatted to Chris, Carlito, Ali and Gene, whom I probably connected with the most out of all the guys, and I got a foot massage (you can find a photo of the aftermath of said massage on Gene’s Twitter…) and a Masterlock as part of my initiation (see video above). When the filming had finished and everyone was covered in all manner of wrestling-in-a-paddock by-products (sweat, baby oil or “physique enhancer”, dirt) and in need of some serious “isolation” (another Chris ’n’ Carlito coined term for relaxation), we all went outside to take some photos in the ring to commemorate what is sure to be one of the most memorable nights of my life: the night I became a wrestling valet.

Stay tuned for more wrestling shenanigans as I attempt to unpack the culture of masculinity in the sport (entertainment) and how a feminist can really call herself a wrestling fan.

Related: Last Night I Met the Only Man Who Can Be Identified By Googling the Words “Hardcore Legend”, “Hell in a Cell” & “Feminist”: Mick Foley.

Elsewhere: [YouTube] SnitskyTV.

Images via Facebook.

My Week in Pictures.

The writers festival.

The month of August is chock full of writers festivals (okay, two, but I’m going to a lot of sessions!), so much so that I’ve taken time off paid work to further my currently unpaid writing career.

Over the weekend I ventured to Bendigo for their writers festival, which boasted big names like Ita Buttrose. I decided to give her talk a miss as it coincided with another talk I wanted to go to about blogging and writing online which is more relevant to me, and frankly, some of the things Ita’s said recently have really rubbed me the wrong way. I think I like her better as portrayed by Asher Keddie than in real life!

While Megan Burke (my new idol) and ABC Open’s Jane Curtis were great speakers (and great bloggers), I felt the audience were all middle aged aspiring mummy bloggers and the content was relevant to them, who are interested in starting a blog, not me. Maybe three years ago, but not now.

The second talk I went to on Saturday was “Are We There Yet?”, featuring Indigenous writer Alexis Wright, astrophysicist turned lawyer turned writer Sulari Gentill, Muslim writer Hanifa Deen, and author Arnold Zable, and facilitated by Shannon Kerrigan, was promising in theory but failed to live up to the hype in practice. I thought all the writers were great and had valuable things to say about how writing contributes to social change but the format of the session was all wrong: I’m not a fan of each speaker telling a story about their take on the subject for a third or a quarter of the time and then it’s over. I much prefer pre-determined questions being posed to the panel and then opening them up for discussion. Suggestion for further panels: use social media to tally up the questions and thought threads attendees want to hear about and incorporate those into the talk, instead of stuffing them into a ten minute question and answer session at the end.

Speaking of, the last talk I went to on Sunday afternoon was about “His & Hers” writing, which had the potential to really delve into the notion that women write about shopping and sex and men write about serious things. When the facilitator, Sofia Ahlberg, asked if women can write a “great Australian novel” and insinuated that they can’t (not because that’s her personal view, I don’t think, but because our society just doesn’t allow for that with, perhaps, the exception of Kate Grenville), a man from the audience and his wife audibly retorted and rudely told Ahlberg to open the discussion up to questions from the audience.

What I got out of the session was an interest in 50 Shades of Grey that I didn’t have before, thanks to John Flaus’ comments that he didn’t think it was written by a woman due to its “clinical”, “outsider” perspective on sex. Either that, or an incredibly narcissistic woman. Interesting.

Also on Sunday was the “What Makes a Hero” session, with Janine Bourke, sports writer Gideon Haigh (sportspeople as heroes is one of my pet topics), Ned Kelly biographer Ian Jones and Hanifa Deen, who asked where minorities get their heroes from if they’re a primarily “conservative construct”, as Haigh asserted. Deen also talked about “cultural amnesia” which I found interesting as we so often put people on a pedestal after—and sometimes despite—committing indiscretions (Ned Kelly, Chopper Reid, and countless football players, to name some Australian “heroes”): “we remember and admire the things we want to”.

Finally, there was a horror panel featuring horror writers Brett McBean and Cameron Oliver, reviewer Lucy Sussex and president of the Australian Horror Writers Association, Geoff Brown. This was probably the best panel in terms of actually addressing the topic and opening the discussion up to questions and comments about “what scares us”. Interestingly, Bendigo is one of the most haunted cities in the world, with more ghosts per person than anywhere else! They talked about the canonical horror films of the late ’70s and ’80s like Carrie, The Shining and The Exorcist and how filmmakers are “scared to scare people” now and that the current zombie, vampire and werewolf trend reflects our xenophobia and fear of the “other”; more so, that they will “turn us into them”. If that doesn’t some up what we’re scared of, I don’t know what does.    

The stack.

I don’t support the Herald Sun, but a friend handed me a copy of Mia Freedman’s profile in Saturday’s issue, which was really good and revealed some aspects of her life that I didn’t know before. (Having read all of her books and being a religious follower of MamaMia, that’s no mean feat.)

Zoe Foster’s relationship column in this month’s Cosmo I found to be a little sexist, but I’m waiting to address it til I see (hear?) her speak at the Melbourne Writers Festival next week. Have you read it? What do you think?

Trivia.

On Tuesday night I had my annual work trivia tournament, in which my team—“Pretentious Latin Name”—came 11th out of 20. Hey, last year we came last, so we’re moving on up.

Special thanks to Sam who bought a giant-sized pizza from Costco for the festivities, and to myself, who made a bitchin’ batch of red velvet cupcakes, if I do say so myself.

New Secondhand Books.

I’ve been looking for Joyce Carol Oates’ Blonde for yonks, and I finally found it in Book Now in Bendigo over the weekend. I also got Timothy Conigraves’ Holding the Man after reading about it in a Benjamin Law article recently. Inspired by Stephen King’s acknowledgements in 11.22.63, I picked up Oswald’s Tale by Norman Mailer, a fictionalised account of Lee Harvey Oswald’s life, too.

Related: Paper Giants: The Birth of Cleo Review.

In Defence of Mia Freedman.

The Ten Books I Wanted to Read This Year But Didn’t.

My Week in Pictures 18th August 2011.

My Week in Pictures 28th June 2012. 

Book Now, Bendigo.

Elsewhere: [MamaMia] Was “Girls on Show” Slut-Shaming?

[Benjamin Law] Holding the Man & AIDS in Australia.

My Week in Pictures.

I’ve spent the last week in Bendigo, staying with my mum, and it’s been such a lovely, quiet break. I went to the Grace Kelly exhibition and to see The Hunger Games with a friend (review pending, just got to finish the book first!), got my hair did, and tried to get in as much downtime as possible. I feel very refreshed and ready to head back to work for the Easter period, followed by another week of holidays!

The stack.

As I mentioned above, I’ve got about 150 pages left of The Hunger Games, and as a large print, young adult novel, I should breeze through it on the train ride back to Melbourne this afternoon. And I’ve still got to get around to reading the somewhat anti-feminist Sunday Life profile on Madonna.

Grace Kelly: Style Icon Exhibition.

Please see my review for my full thoughts on the exhibition.

The Hunger Games.

Secondhand book haul.

So Remarkable Creatures was actually leant to me by a friend (hi, Hannah!) in exchange for My Sister, My Love, which I picked up secondhand when I was in Bendigo last Easter, while 11.22.63 by Stephen King and Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen were purchased from the Bendigo Book Mark, my favourite secondhand bookstore I’ve come across. My mum and I had watched the film version of Water for Elephants the night before, so I thought it was uncanny I should find the book and snapped it up. And I was surprised Book Mark even had 11.22.63, as it’s King’s latest and with a premise of “what would the world look like if JFK wasn’t assassinated”, it’s a must-read! Score!

Related: Grace Kelly: Style Icon Exhibition at the Bendigo Art Gallery.

My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike by Joyce Carol Oates Review.

Book Shop: Book Now, Bendigo.

Elsewhere: [News with Nipples] Madonna, Never Put it Away—Unless You Want To.

My Week in Pictures.

Day trip to Bendigo.

Images via Fantomatik.

Image via Specialist Auctions.

Image via John Kobal Foundation.

Image via Fantomatik.

Image via Bendigo Art Gallery.

Image via Bridie Quilty.

On Friday I went to Bendigo to see the Made in Hollywood (images above) exhibition in its final days, as well as did some shopping at Bendigo Book Mark and caught up with a friend who’s back from America for dinner.

Birthday present.

My friend Lana’s birthday’s coming up on Saturday, so a few friends and I went in on Share-a-Smile Becky (she comes in a wheelchair! How cool is that?! There was some controversy surrounding the Barbie when she came out in 1997 because her chair didn’t fit through the doors to the Barbie Dream House.) and Make Hey While the Sun Shines by Meet Me at Mikes founder Pip Lincoln. I hope she likes them!

The stack.

If you missed Sunday Life, you can read full version of the cover story here.

Martha Marcy May Marlene Mind-numbing.

I wasn’t sure what to expect when heading into Martha Marcy May Marlene on Monday night, but a friend I mentioned it to said her boyfriend’s sister said it was the best movie she’d ever seen. I’d heard all the awards buzz, so I had to see what all the fuss was about for myself. I don’t feel like my life was any more enriched than before the movie, and I’m glad I only paid $9 for it.

This is what happens when your washing machine stops working.

The spin is fine, it’s just that the pump is stuffed, so I’ve taken to filling up the bath with water and washing detergent, and smooshing my clothes around in it with the mop! It’s quite efficient, actually. Although I’m dreading towel- and sheet-washing day…

Images via John Kobal Foundation.

My Month in Pictures.

It’s been a little while since a “My Week in Pictures” post so, what with Christmas and all that jazz, I thought I’d catch you up on what’s been going on in my life over the past month. First up…

… Christmas partying in the Garden of Eden, honey.

The theme: heroes and villains. Some notable costumes: Rebecca Brooks, Shane Warne, Joan of Arc (to which some philistine partygoers knowingly replied, “Oh, like Noah’s wife.” Hmm.), Darth Maul and a Planeteer. Funnily enough, my original idea for a costume was a Captain Planet and the Planeteers group effort, but I thought Adam and Eve was more appropriate so I coerced my coworker Jackson into baring almost all for, you know, authenticity purposes. It turns out we made the right decision, as we won best group costume!

The Muppets movie.

I won four free passes to see The Muppets early in December, thanks to the folks at All Star Comics. I got swept up in the awesomeness of it originally, so I plan to see it again once it’s on general release. Review pending.

Baking Christmas goods.

Okay, “baking” might be too strenuous of a word. My Mum did most of the hard work while I whipped some cream for a chocolate ripple cake. Mmm…

Rocking around the Christmas tree.

This being my first Christmas at my place, not the family home, there was an abundance of presents under the Christmas tree, including an overnight bag for my Mum, some books and ornamental items for my room for me, a fondue set for my housemate, Eddie (personal joke), not a lot for my sister as her present is still en route from the U.K., and chocolate goodness for everybody! What did you get for Christmas?

New Years Evil movie marathon.

Both my housemate and I aren’t big fans of New Years, so we decided to do a housemate-only all-day movie marathon. We watched MacGruber, Black Swan, The Good Son, Silence of the Lambs, Trick ’R Treat, The Last House on the Left (both 1972 and 2009 versions) and I Know Who Killed Me. As you can see, they’re mostly thrillers/horrors, hence the “New Years Evil” title. Yes, we need to get lives.

White Christmas.

As I’m sure you heard/saw/read about on the news, many parts of Australia suffered extreme weather conditions on Christmas Day. What started out as a hot, low-30s day ended up with golf ball-sized hail storms and flooding in Melbourne. While my area didn’t cop the brunt of it, we still experienced somewhat of a white Christmas.

Christmas Eve Eve party.

For the past two years my friend Laura has held a Christmas Eve Eve party (23rd December). Last year I wasn’t able to attend as I was back home in Bendigo, but this year my Mum came to stay with me, so I left her home alone and hit the town Brunswick. We ate, drank, listened to Carols and played Christmas celebrity heads. The night was bittersweet, as Laura’s moving back to Perth, where she’s from, next week.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Getting Our Pirate On, Christmas Party Style.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Top 11 Films of 2011.

Elsewhere: [All Star Comics Melbourne] Homepage.

My Week in Review (Plus a Couple of Extra Days Thrown in There).

It’s been a very busy week here at The Early Bird Catches the Worm, and will continue to be for the next week or so. Whoever thought of scheduling Easter on the same long weekend as ANZAC Day was “seriously disturbed”, as Elle Woods would say.

Sunday 17th: Got back from an early Easter weekend with my Mum in Bendigo, where I caught up with some friends, sat in the hairdresser’s chair for a couple of hours, went secondhand book shopping and to the Bendigo Art Gallery.

Monday 18th: Was all tuckered out from my weekend in the country I decided to lie in bed all day and watch Grey’s Anatomy.

Tuesday 19th: Did some blogging and jogging and went to see Sucker Punch. As my Facebook status that night said: “Well, it certainly lived up to the first four letters of the title.” Review pending.

Wednesday 20th: Ten hour shift at work.

Thursday 21st: Got up, went for a jog, blogged, went to the supermarket, work, waxing of the nether region, cleaned the house, friend’s 21st.

Friday 22nd: Slept in, had 21st cake for breakfast, watched Paper Giants, Desperate Housewives, Criminal Minds and Grey’s Anatomy.

Saturday 23rd: Work.

Sunday 24th: Work and fell asleep at 8:30.

Monday 25th: Had to get a taxi to work ’cause trains and trams were down due to the ANZAC Day march. Worked on the blog and had a Scream movie marathon at a friend’s house in preparation for seeing the latest instalment next Tuesday.

Today: Was at the airport at 6:30 this morning to send of April, who’s leaving for Canada at 10:45am. The Maccas breakfast that followed did little to ease my pain…

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] So Misunderstood.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Women in Fiction: Are Our Favourite Fictional Females Actually Strong, or Stereotypes?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Women in Fiction: My Favourite Fictional Females.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Guest Post: Pop Culture Power Women.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Bendigo Art Gallery: Giving the Metro Museums a Run for Their Money.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Book Shop: Book Now, Bendigo.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Review: 22nd–28th November, 2010.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Review (Plus a Couple of Extra Days Thrown in There): 6th–12th November, 2010.

Bendigo Art Gallery: Giving the Metro Museums a Run for Their Money.

As past posts this week would indicate, I spent the weekend in Bendigo, in country Victoria. I visited some old friends, went secondhand book shopping, got my hair did, and attended the opening of the Bendigo Art Gallery’s American Dreams exhibition.

There were some stunning portraits by some of America’s most gifted and famous photographers, like Walker Evans, Cindy Sherman and Richard Avedon.

While this exhibition isn’t the greatest I’ve seen (FYI, that was The Golden Age of Couture, also hosted by the Bendigo Art Gallery, which displayed gorgeous garments from the likes of Christian Dior and his 1940s “New Look”, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Hubert de Givenchy and Pierre Balmain), it is one in a long line of coups for the country gallery.

Last year I saw Frederick McCubbin’s Last Impressions and Looking for Faeries, in addition to 2009’s Golden Age of Couture, and this year the gallery has The White Wedding Dress display in store for us. But the exhibition I’m most looking forward to won’t be opening until 2012, but it’s well worth the wait: Grace Kelly—Style Icon, featuring costumes from her most famous films (Rear Window, I’m looking at you) and couture gowns from her reign as Her Serene Highness, Princess Grace of Monaco.

With stellar exhibitions like these, Melbourne’s galleries and museums had better watch out!

[Bendigo Art Gallery] Homepage.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] American Dreams: 20th Century Photography from George Eastman House.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] The Golden Age of Couture: Paris & London, 1947–1957.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] McCubbin Last Impressions: 1907–1917.

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

[Bendigo Art Gallery] The White Wedding Dress: 200 Years of Wedding Fashions.

[Bendigo Art Gallery] Grace Kelly: Style Icon.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Book Shop: Book Now, Bendigo.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Loving… Grace Kelly as Lisa Fremont in Rear Window.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Tutankhamun & the Golden Age of the Pharaohs at Melbourne Museum.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Gustave Moreau’s The Eternal Feminine Exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Images via Bendigo Art Gallery, Ethical Style.

Book Shop: Book Now, Bendigo.

So this review was originally going to be about Bendigo’s Book Mark, which still remains the best secondhand book store I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Such gems I’ve managed to find there are Mick Foley’s rare first novel, Tietam Brown, and a $7 copy of Michael Jackson’s Moonwalk. I scoured the shelves for over an hour looking for that one. When I took it to the counter, the man who served me marveled at it being left on the shelves; he’d put all Jackson-related literature on their website to be sold at an elevated price after his sudden death.

But perhaps my friend Hannah and I left it too late on a Saturday afternoon to visit the shop: they close at 4pm and we got there at 4:05!

So we decided instead to venture over to Book Now, located at 1 Farmers Lane, opposite Rosiland Park. There’s no denying I’ve gotten some good titles there before—a first edition of The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving springs to mind—but I find it a bit stuffy and overpriced for a secondhand book store.

However, this weekend’s trip yielded some fantastic finds for both me and Hannah. Hannah is studying to be a doctor in Russian history and social sciences, so she took home a book on Nicholas II of Russia, and his wife Alexandra Fyodorovna, parents of Anastasia of Russia, and Atonement by Ian McEwan.

I knew Book Now has a large collection of Joyce Carol Oates books, so I rummaged through them in the vain hope of finding My Sister, My Love, a recent novel based on the JonBenet Ramsey murder. And low and behold, I did find it resting on a shelf right up the back of the shop.

My Book Now trip was pretty much complete after that, however I did spot some Armistead Maupin titles, and picked up a few of those. (To be honest, I own so many of his books I wasn’t 100% sure that I don’t already own The Night Listener and Maybe the Moon. But at $6 a pop, who am I to complain if I do?!) Finally, I stumbled across Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and decided to add that to my ever-growing pile.

So what began as a somewhat disappointing afternoon when Book Mark wasn’t open, ended as a surprisingly great one, with four new additions to my bookshelf.

Bendigo only has a few really good bookstores, so if you’re ever up in Central Victoria, visiting the Bendigo Art Gallery (stay tuned for more this afternoon) or the Golden Dragon Chinese Museum, pop on over to Book Now or Book Mark.

I know I will on my next visit.

[Book Now] Homepage.

[Bendigo Book Mark] Homepage.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Evolution of the Bookshop at the Wheeler Centre.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Loving… Mick Foley.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving Review.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Is There Really a Beauty Myth?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Armistead Maupin in Conversation with Noni Hazlehurst.

Image via Book Now.

Magazine Review: The Big Issue, 1–14 March, 2011.

Did you know that there are approximately 7.5 readers for every copy of The Big Issue sold? Which is great for circulating The Big Issue’s content to different kinds of readers, it sucks for the people selling copies out the front of The Body Shop (where I was first exposed to the magazine in my hometown of Bendigo in country Victoria) or at Parliament train station, where I picked up this week’s copy.

But when I read those stats on Girl with a Satchel a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t surprised. A colleague of mine usually brings in his copy to the staff lunchroom, which makes the rounds at work. He’s gone overseas for a few weeks, so I decided to be the one to provide the communal Big Issue during that time. I do hope that more people will fork out the fortnightly five bucks it costs to be exposed to some great Australian writing (“compared with $4.70 for your weekly copy of Who) but until then, I can take solace in the fact that I did my bit.

There’s still a week left to get your paws on a copy, and I suggest you do, as there are some great articles in there, a lot of them dealing with the social revolution tool that is Twitter, which features on the cover. And for you us pop-culture junkies, there’s Liz and Shane and their Twitter antics, too:

“Celebrities, meanwhile, have embraced Twitter as an opportunity to prove their Everyman concerns without having to directly engage with, well, every man or woman. Kourtney Kardashian, for example, recently tweeted her two-million followers: ‘Does anyone else get scared that being on their phones too much or sleeping with your phone near u is so bad? Or am I paranoid?’ I wonder how many fruitlessly replied, ‘Omg, I totes have a brain tumour! We should be BFFs!’ (Note to tweenie Tweeters: she couldn’t care less.)” (p. 15).

You’re such a visionary, Kourtney!

On a more serious note, editor Alan Attwood writes of the similarly prophetic Steven Johnson from Time magazine, who wrote ‘How Twitter Will Change the Way We Live’:

“He argued that all those tiny tweets add up ‘to something truly substantive, like a suspension bridge made of pebbles’. He concluded: ‘The weather reports keep announcing that the sky is falling, but here we are—millions of us—sitting around trying to invent new ways to talk to one another.’ And that, surely, can’t be a bad thing” (p. 4).

We’ve read all the articles about Twitter being a valuable tool for social change, particularly in Egypt, and there’s no shortage of that in the feature article, from which the above Kardashian quote is garnered. Worth the $5 cover price for this article alone.

Another article I loved this fortnight was Patrick Witton’s on “Sharing the Load” of the hellish daily commute.

I wrote last week about two friends of mine who spend at least two hours in their car getting to and from work each day, which sounds like my worst nightmare. Sure, I used to travel upwards of four hours to work from my aforementioned hometown, but that was on the train, where I could get valuable reading, sleeping and daydreaming done. Driving to work allows the driver to indulge in (hopefully) only one of those activities. Then again, I don’t have a license, so I have no idea how much daydreaming gridlock allows…

Witton profiles the car-pooling phenomenon in America, where there are designated pick-up and drop-off points, between which complete strangers ride in silence, and drivers take advantage of the express car-pool lanes. Like a bus, but without the mentally disturbed drunk espousing the apocalypse.

There’s also the teenagers in Jakarta, who make a living from hitchhiking along the highways, getting paid to be picked up so solitary drivers can hightail it to work in the express lane.

Fascinating stuff.

[Girl with a Satchel] The Big Issue Blitzes Readership Survey (But are Aussies Being Tight?)

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Newspaper Clipping of the Week.

Books: The Ten Books I Wanted to Read This Year But Didn’t.

Again, I don’t do New Years resolutions, but hopefully in listing the books I didn’t get around to reading in 2010 in a public forum where reviews are commonplace (um, this blog, for those of you not keeping track), I’ll be forced to devour in 2011.

1. Countdown to Lockdown by Mick Foley. I’ve been very vocal about my love for Mick Foley in recent months, and I was lucky enough to receive his latest memoir (number four, but who’s counting?) for my birthday, two months ago. I’ve been eagerly anticipating having enough time to dive into it headfirst, and I’m hoping it’ll be the first I check off my list this coming year.

2. Fragments by Marilyn Monroe, Bernard Comment & Stanley Buchthal. I love Marilyn Monroe, both as an icon (though I wouldn’t go as far as to have her image tattooed on me, à la Megan Fox), and as a fascinating person who had many layers, some of which are peeled away with the release of this book. This is a high priority read.

3. Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier. I loved Girl with a Pearl Earring and The Lady & the Unicorn, so something tells me I’m going to love Remarkable Creatures, about two female fossil hunters in 19th century England. The subject matter is a bit left-of-centre for historical fiction, but it appeals to me nonetheless. I know I couple of friends who own copies of this book, so maybe I can bum a lend…?

4. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald. I have a tendency to build classics up in my mind before I’ve read them, and I’m then sorely disappointed. I have a feeling a similar effect will occur with The Great Gatsby, which I became interested in reading when I heard that it will be subjected to a movie remake at the hands of Baz Lurhmann. So bogan-esque, I know!

5. I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley. Crosley’s books have done the review rounds in some of my favourite and trusted mags, like Yen and Cleo, with nothing but good vibrations about her collection of essays.

6. How Did You Get This Number? by Sloane Crosley. Yes, this is Crosley’s second appearance on the list, but all the buzz surrounding her books and her clever, witty and sometimes snarky tone means I can’t wait to gobble them up!

7. The Genius & the Goddess: Arthur Miller & Marilyn Monroe by Jeffrey Meyer. I read a review of this tome earlier in the year, and it has stayed with me since. Most intriguingly, the book “houses an appendix detailing the illnesses and operations” Monroe had throughout her life.

8. The Way We Lived Then: Recollections of a Well-Known Name Dropper by Dominick Dunne. I can’t get me enough of Dominick Dunne, so it’s a surpriseeven to methat I haven’t read all of his books yet. This one is somewhat of an official memoir, as a lot of his fictional works blur the line between reality and fiction, Another City, Not My Own especially.

9. The Life & Opinions of Maf the Dog, and of His Friend Marilyn Monroe by Andrew O’Hagan. In case you were wondering, I plan to do a lot of Monroe-related reading in 2011. This is one of the more imaginative books about her life.

10. The Prince, The Showgirl & Me and My Week with Marilyn by Colin Clarke. Both are the basis for the new Michelle Williams effort, My Week with Marilyn. Just while we’re on that, I’d like to sneak in another Monroe-inspired fiction: Blonde by Joyce Carol Oates, which another biopic starring Naomi Watts as Monroe is based on. Perhaps if I had picked up the copy I always see at my favourite second-hand bookstore, Bendigo Book Mark, it would have given me more incentive to read it. No, wait, that doesn’t work for the numerous other books I’ve got sitting there, just begging to be read…

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] So This is Christmas & What Have You Done?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Loving… Mick Foley.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] All Eyes on Marilyn.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Things Bogans Like.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Magazine Review: Yen, Issue #46.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Book Review: Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne.

[Bookslut] Genius, Goddess: Reading Theatre.

[Bendigo Book Mark] Homepage.