On the (Rest of the) Net.

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Here’s what happens when Lindsay Lohan is cast alongside James Deen in Bret Easton Ellis and Paul Schrader’s The Canyons. [NYTimes]

Do you keep a “list”? You know the one… [Jezebel]

For the perils of Disney princesses; let’s examine the damaging notion of the Disney Prince. [allisms]

How about instead of responding to rape culture with the view that women should be more careful, what can men do to make our society safer from sexual violence? [Wronging Rights]

Gender disparity and front page news. [The King’s Tribune]

In defence of Girls’ “ugly sex”. [Daily Life]

Dissecting Beyonce’s interview with GQ in which she admonishes the gender pay gap and the fact that men determine what’s feminine and sexy, but is posing in a decidedly male-gazey, feminine and sexual way on its cover. Hmm… [Daily Life]

Are you sick of the lack of books published and reviewed by women? Then enter the Australian Women Writers Challenge in a bid to make a difference.

Why are South Korean women so obsessed with cosmetic surgery? [Jezebel]

Well here’s a convoluted catfight between Kelly Osbourne and Lady Gaga: Gaga’s Little Monsters have apparently been cyberbullying Kelly, which she mentioned in an interview, which prompted Gaga to write an open letter to Kelly. Then Sharon Osbourne got involved… [LittleMonsters, Facebook]

What it’s like to raise an atheist 7-year-old. [Jezebel]

Image via E! Online.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Happy New Year, Early Birds! To kick off the new year here are some of the links I found interesting over the Christmas break.

The progression of The Addams Family films. [The Soapboxing Geek]

Bret Easton Ellis is “really sorry” about that Kathryn Bigelow tweet. [Daily Beast]

The similarities between My Little Pony and Plato. [Overthinking It]

2012, politics and feminism. [Women’s Agenda]

Another year in review piece: pop music in 2012. [Gawker]

On that note, what will 2013 (hopefully) bring in pop culture? [TheVine]

Sweden’s gender-neutral toy trend. [Deadspin]

Where are all the women in The Hobbit’s Middle-earth? [Jezebel]

Could you live on $35 a day? The government expects single parents to. [TheVine]

Is Wearing Makeup a Choice? [Jezebel]

Event: The Reading Hour.

In celebration of the National Year of Reading, today marks the National Reading Hour. While the exact time frame for the event is sketchy, and anyone who knows me knows I’ll be spending much more than one hour reading today (or on any day, for that matter), the aim of the event is to instill the importance of reading in children. From my point of view, reading is important at all ages and it’s never too late to start. The only downside is there’s less time to read all the fantastic books out there.

So, The Early Bird has decided to get in on the action by going over all the books I’ve read this year and whether I found them good, bad or otherwise and if you should read them, too.

I haven’t read this many books since my uni days, I don’t think, when I was traveling up to six hours a day from country Victoria to Deakin in Burwood. Needless to say, there were a lot of public transport hours that needed filling, and reading was the perfect way to do that. Aside from primary school, of course, when nightly “readers” were a must and I got through several, if not up to a dozen, books a week, uni really got me back in touch with my love for reading; a love without which I wouldn’t be who I am today.

So, without further ado…

My Booky Wook 2 by Russell Brand.

If I if I didn’t have to give this book back to a friend before she moved interstate at the start of the year, I think it would still be sitting in my stack of to-be-read books (like some other borrowed tomes). While it didn’t change my world, and I much preferred Brand’s first memoir, I’m glad to have read it and moved on. Much like Katy Perry. Burn!

The Barbie Chronicles: A Living Doll Turns 40 edited by Yona Zeldis McDonough.

While Barbie is now 53 and there is now thirteen more years of fodder for a compilation of feminist musings on the doll, I really enjoyed this book and ponder it often. Aforementioned interstate friend, Laura, currently has it in her possession. I believe it is out of print now, so I was quite lucky to have happened upon it at my local secondhand bookstore. Pick it up if you get the chance.

Big Porn Inc. edited by Melinda Tankard Reist & Abigail Bray.

I was so looking forward to reading this conservative collection on why porn is bad, and it didn’t disappoint. I didn’t agree with anything in the book, but it was an eye opening look at just how anti-sex (not to mention anti-choice, anti-feminism, anti-vaccination) some people can be. What scares me is that Tankard Reist and Bray’s ideologies could be rubbing off on the susceptible with the release of this book.

The Book of Rachael by Leslie Cannold.

Feminist crusader Cannold looks at what could have been the life of Jesus’ sister, Rachael. What’s more, the book focuses on her relationship with the ultimate betrayer, Judas. It wasn’t mind blowing, but if you’re looking for something to read and want to support local, female writers, this is one for you.

The Black Dahlia by James Ellroy.

To be honest, I had lots of things on my mind when I read this so it’s almost like I never read it at all. I found it really hard to get into and to focus on the words on the page. Maybe I’ll watch the movie in an effort to more fully understand the storyline. Shameful, I know.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver.

If you haven’t read this book yet, you need to get on it, like, yesterday! So well written, so emotional, so involving and with a massive twist at the end. And please, if you’re thinking about watching the movie (which I haven’t seen yet, so don’t take my word for it: it might even be better than the book), read the book first. Looking back, this is probably the best book I’ve read this year and, dare I say it, ever.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins.

Not the worst teen trilogy out there (I’m looking at you, Twilight Saga), but not the greatest, either. I found the book easy to read and also well written which, again, is more than I can say for Stephenie Meyer.

Fragments by Marilyn Monroe, Bernard Comment & Stanley Buchthal.

This part-coffee table book, part-Marilyn musings tome had been sitting in my pile of to-be-reads for almost a year and a half before I decided to actually read about one of my favourite icons. I enjoyed a rare insight into the mind of the sex symbol herself, but honestly, I think there are probably better books about her out there.

Hitman: My Real Life in the Cartoon World of Wrestling by Bret Hart.

This is the book I spent the most amount of time reading; or rather, it took me the most amount of time to read. It is a hefty memoir, but it’s not exactly written in a challenging tone, either. I quite enjoyed it, all in all, and while you probably need a background knowledge of professional wrestling to get into the book, it was kind of sad reading about all the tragedies in Hart’s life.

Remarkable Creatures by Tracy Chevalier.

I love me some historical fiction and Remarkable Creatures didn’t disappoint. Easy to get into with a bit of fluff, but it has nothing on Girl with the Pearl Earring.

11.22.63 by Stephen King.

This was my first encounter with King, and I quite liked it. He obviously has the suspense/mystery/horror (though you won’t catch me dead with one of his books—nor the movie adaptations—in this genre. I hate horror!) formula down pat. While the title and cover lines were a bit misleading (JFK doesn’t come into it until right near the end, and even then it’s anticlimactic), I really liked it and found out some historical tidbits I didn’t know previously.

The Informers by Bret Easton Ellis.

Easton Ellis is one of those writers who is good in theory, not so good in practice. I still plan on reading all of his efforts, no matter how gory and gratuitously sexy and druggy they are (this one had a central theme of sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll in ’80s L.A.… with a side-serving of vampirism!), but sometimes I think he’s a bit over hyped. As was The Informers.

Fables: The Deluxe Editions Volumes 1 & 2 by Bill Willingham.

These are the comics Once Upon a Time is allegedly inspired by, and let me tell you, these are much better than the show. I’m not usually a fan of the comic book format, but I really enjoyed these two. Bring on the next two installments!

Drowned by Therese Bowman.

When I read Drowned, I actually had no idea what the storyline was. I remembered reading an enticing review in The Age a month or two before I convinced a friend to buy it in order for me to borrow it, but other than that, I was clueless. After reading it, it seemed there was no storyline; it was more high-concept literary fiction to my mind. But it was very evocative. Short and sweet.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro.

I just finished this one on a trip away and I loved it. Similarly to The Black Dahlia, it took me awhile to get into it, concentration-wise, but once I did I found it very enjoyable. The storyline is unique and interesting, and the character development and style were some of the best I’ve had the pleasure of reading.

Music for Chameleons by Truman Capote.

So does reading one short story in the collection count as actually reading the whole of Music for Chameleons?! I bought this book from a secondhand store with the sole intention of reading the Marilyn Monroe chapter and that’s all. Kind of a waste, I suppose, but I like to support small, local businesses!

50 Shades of Grey by EL James.

I have oh-so-ashamedly left this one til last as it is by far the worst, but it’s also the one I’m currently reading. I always said I would never be caught dead reading this mediocre tripe, but after hearing John Flaus and Jess Anastasi (a coincidence her surname is practically the same as the first name of 50 Shades’ protagonist?) discuss the book at the Bendigo Writers Festival, I finally succumbed. The way I look at it, I’m approaching it with a critical eye for the purposes of research. It’s better to have an informed opinion, right? More to come.

What are you going to be reading for the National Reading Hour?

Related: Big Porn Inc. Edited by Melinda Tankard Reist and Abigail Bray Review. 

The Book of Rachael by Leslie Cannold Review.

My Week in Pictures 16th August 2012.

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.

Books: Stacked.

The other day a friend asked me how I “prioritise my stack” of books, and I thought it might make an interesting blog post, if only so I can navel-gaze at the books, magazines and articles piling up on my bedside table and bookshelf as opposed to offering any valuable insight into how I get through them.

’Cause the answer is, there is no system to getting through them. If anything, more books, magazines and articles are added to the piles than what is taken away from them and filed neatly in the bookshelf or recycling bin.

My friends often tease me ’cause it usually takes me several months to get through a book. The book I’m currently on, My Sister, My Love: The Intimate Story of Skyler Rampike by Joyce Carol Oates, I started over two months ago! I try to put away a few chapters each night, but this is in addition to the probably 500 other pages of content I read per week. Blogs, magazines, articles. If you ask me, that’s a pretty good effort. I wonder how many of the haters get through a 500 page book per week :P.

My love of taking in anything and everything in the feminist blogosphere is both a blessing and a curse. I love that there’s always new content and I’m always being informed, but at the same time, it would be so easy to just curl up in bed with a good book and turn my brain off for a few hours. Then again, if I really wanted to turn my brain off, I’d carve out a nook in the couch and flick through channels all night. And who has time for that?

Currently in my book stack, I have three books that were gifts from my birthday last year, and winning a worst dressed contest (Fables comic book, The Big Book of Small Business and Self-Publishing for Dummies); three that are borrowed (Walt Disney’s biography by Neal Gabler, Russell Brand’s second memoir and Kristin Chenoweth’s autobiography); two I bought from Amazon in January (Marilyn Monroe’s Fragments and Sloane Crosley’s second book of essays, How Did You Get This Number?); and the rest (The Night Listener and Maybe the Moon by Armistead Maupin, Brock Lesnar’s Death Clutch, Less Than Zero and Lunar Park by Bret Easton Ellis, Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth and Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile) I’ve bought in recent months, mostly secondhand.

And the magazines and article stack, which is a complete eyesore on my bedside table, consists of several Vanity Fair’s, some Monthly’s and… to be honest, I don’t actually know what’s in there! When I go on holidays next week, I aim to get through that stack, and it will be a veritable treasure trove! Like Christmas morning!

Seeing as I can offer absolutely no substance to “how do I prioritise my stack”, I’m handing it over to you. Does anyone have any tried and true methods? Here’s one, at the suggestion of my friend Clare: stop buying books til I’ve finished the ones I already have. But they’re too good!

 

On the (Rest of the) Net.

 

“The Class Boundaries of Veronica Mars.”

Why the Body Image Advisory Group’s voluntary code of conduct didn’t work.

Rachel Hills on the internet, artifice and being fake.

“The New Middleton Class”.

Speaking of the Middleton’s, Melinda Tankard Reist takes issue with the admiration of Pippa’s ass online:

“The FB site provides an opportunity for men everywhere to share their sexual fantasies for the young maid of honour. Knock her up, bash her in, cause her injury such that she would not be able to walk. Wrecking and shredding a woman’s anus is a popular porn script.

“And all this is supposed to be accepted as a compliment. Of course there are no ‘Pippa the Wonderfully Supportive Sister Appreciation Societies’ or other pages lauding her gifts and character and other non-body related attributes.”

Bret Easton Ellis on the spectacle that is Charlie Sheen.

“Filling the Gaps” in the online feminist community’s “call-out culture”.

In what was Elizabeth Taylor’s last interview, with Kim Kardashian for US Harper’s Bazaar, she divulges her thoughts on living like a queen, the Krupp diamond and Twitter. I was never a fan of Taylor, but this interview made me one.

What does it mean to be a feminist today?

Is the male body “Repulsive or Beautiful?”

Ever been hollered at in the street as you walk past a construction site? “Why Men Cat Call” sounds interesting, but is disappointingly dismal.

Amélie sex (noun): intercourse undertaken in the classic missionary position which, by itself, is not objectionable—during which the male is impervious to the female’s lack of enjoyment.”

The bromance VS. Bridesmaids“Homance”.

Don’t give up your day job: “Freelancing on the Side.”

Images via I Just Have So Many Feelings, Sydney Morning Herald.

Event: Clunes Back to Booktown.

Last weekend I went to Clunes for their annual Back to Booktown event, encompassing more than 60 booksellers in almost every store on the main street, plus churches, historical buildings and marquees erected especially for the weekend.

As I’ve blogged about here and here, I’d been wanting to attend for the past two years, but the lack of public transportation and friends willing to drive there (as I don’t have a car nor a license) meant this was the first year I could go.

My friend Andrew and I trekked the two hours from Melbourne to the country town located somewhere between Ballarat, Creswick and Maryborough; a town so small it defaults to Ballarat when looking it up on a weather website. (It was sunny and 11° on Saturday. Brrr!)

Honestly, I was surprised by the sheer amount of booksellers. I was expecting a couple of old buildings and trestle tables and that was it. Granted, the town is small, but there’s a reason people flock from far and wide to Clunes for a weekend in May.

I managed to unearth a couple of Bret Easton Ellis books for under $10 each, a copy of The Catcher in the Rye for $12.50 (steep for a secondhand copy, but c’mon, it’s J.D. Salinger!), and Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. I also saw a copy of Perfect Murder, Perfect Town by Lawrence Schiller on the JonBenet Ramsay murder, but I wasn’t sure I could commit to a book that thick on a subject I already know a lot about. Plus, I already have Joyce Carol Oates’ My Sister, My Love ready to go after I finish The Great Gatsby, which is a fictional account of the crime. Alas, when I decided to go back for it it had already been sold. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

There were also some fabulous food stalls at Clunes, with baked potatoes and Dixie cups, but I was most impressed by Widow Twankey’s Lolly Shop & Ice Cream Parlour, which sold the cheapest lollies and cakes in town (or most towns, for that matter!). Of course we stocked up on Red Skins (the racist lolly of the masses), Fantails, boiled candy and Toffee Apples. Yum!

While I was planning on picking up a few more titles than I did, I will definitely be making an appearance again next year, and I urge you to, too. Book lovers will feel like they’ve died and gone to heaven.

Related: Go Back to Booktown This Weekend (2011).

Go Back to Booktown This Weekend (2010).

Elsewhere: [Back to Booktown 2011] Homepage.

[Widow Twankey's] Homepage.