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

Tutankahmum made his Melbourne debut last Friday. Well, he was there in spirit at least, as his death mask, sarcophagus and mummy are too precious to leave their home country of Egypt. However, 50 of the 130 items are from the boy king’s tomb, and a select few that adorned his gold coffin, plus the sarcophagus of his great-grandmother, Tjuya.

This exhibition had been hyped up for months in Melbourne, not to mention its world tour, which garnered more than 7 million visitors worldwide, so I was expecting a grand display of Egyptian artifacts. I was disappointed.

No question, the actual artifacts were magnificent; “everywhere the glint of gold”, as Howard Carter said when he discovered King Tut’s tomb in 1922. My favourites were the inlaid pectoral scarab decorations, which I would love as a brooch of my own (!), and the funery masks of two foetuses, that were most likely the stillborn children of Tut. Morbid, I know, but that was one of the only items of information that stayed with me after the exhibition. Another interesting fact is that due to the numerous wives of Tut’s father, Akenhaten, the boy king’s mother remains unidentified.

In my opinion, Tutankhamun has nothing on other exhibitions I’ve seen in Melbourne, even in country Victoria, and at the Melbourne Museum itself. The Museum’s past Winter Blockbuster exhibitions, like “A Day in Pompeii” and “Titanic”, followed a narrative arc and had a “standout piece”, whereas I don’t think Tutankhamun has that.

An article in The Age’s Life & Style a couple of weeks ago asked questions about the “theatricality” and “showbiz” elements of the exhibition, to which Mark Lach, the creative director of Arts & Exhibitions International, replied:

“I think people who have seen the exhibition would be hard pressed to say it’s been dumbed down… It’s an elitist thing to say… [that] if it’s [a] blockbuster… it must be dumbed down…”

I don’t believe it was dumbed down; I really liked the fact that there were text panels above the objects, as well as directly in front and on the sides, so that everyone in the exhibition is given the opportunity to read the information before they get up close and personal with the artifacts. But some of the other aspects of the exhibition, like a projection of King Tut’s coffin where it might have been placed had it been allowed out of Egypt, seemed disjointed and out of place.

No doubt this exhibition is a big coup for Melbourne, but I’m wary of it overshadowing some other—perhaps more deserving—exhibitions and tourist attractions.

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

Images via King Tut Melbourne, Newsoholics.

Magazines: Nit Wit.

So I found out some interesting facts about head lice from The Monthly’s February 2011 edition.

For example, lice have been around since the dawn of time. In fact,

“lice combs feature in Renaissance paintings of the baby Jesus. They were buried in the tombs of 3000-year-old Egyptian mummies (for the lice in the afterlife). Scientists even found a 10,000-year-old nit clinging tenaciously to a human hair in north-east Brazil.”

Head lice, the other white meat cockroach.

And, considering “they now infest up to 35% of 4–11 year old Australian school children once per year,” nits shouldn’t have such a stigma attached to them.

But they do. I remember when my little sister was invited for a “play date” at—you could say—the school lice-spreader’s house. I warned her not to go and my mother not to let her, but to no avail. And lo and behold, within a week, the whole family was dousing ourselves in Nads.

The author of The Monthly piece, Christine Kenneally, laments her son’s recurring bouts with lice, and let me tell you: I don’t think our household was nit-free for close to a year! I managed to steer clear of them (thank God; I was in year 10 at the time, and I can only imagine the ostracism that I would have faced at my high school.), but with hair down to your bottom and a hippie mother who only believes in natural treatments, my sister had a very hard time of it.

However, there is good news:

“Most treatments are neurotoxins. They damage the nervous system of the louse but they generally don’t hurt the egg… Even if a neurotoxin can get inside the egg, it won’t do much until the third or fourth day when the nervous system has developed. Hatchtech… has created a louciside and ovicide. When it’s time for treated eggs to hatch, enzymes involved in hatching are blocked, and the louse dies inside the egg.”

High fives all round!

UPDATED: Apocalypse Now—2012 Come Early?

In light of my doomsday musings on 2012 being the end of the world, I came across this “Comment of the Day” on Jezebel, which lamented the supposed discovery of the lost city of Atlantis:

“Oh, fuck. All the loose plots are being resolved. I guess the world really is going to end next year.”

With all the natural disasters and political uprisings in the world at the moment, you’d be forgiven for thinking the end of the world—2012, according to the Mayan calendar—was happening as we speak I write.

But with Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, New Zealand’s recent earthquake, Queensland and Victoria’s floods and Cyclone Yasi, the civil war in Libya and the Egyptian revolution, the end is nigh.

Now personally, I don’t actually believe the end of the world will occur on December 21, 2012, when the Mayan, or the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, finishes. I think it will be more of an ideological shift caused by catastrophic events, like those happening in Japan, than Armageddon.

But let’s have a look at when the end of said calendar occurs and what it actually means.

In a (very sketchy) nutshell, December 20, 2012 marks the end of the 13th b’ak’tun, (equivalent to 144,000 days and 394.3 solar years), while December 21, 2012 will be the beginning of the 14th b’ak’tun.

There have been rumours that no prophetic predictions have been made after 2012 by Nostradamus et al., but Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, says that reaching the end of a b’ak’tun cycle was cause for celebration and that the 2012 hullabaloo is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”

This lends evidence to my theory that with the world literally cracking up, it’s only a matter of time before we have to take heed of global warming warnings, which are manifesting themselves in natural disasters across the globe. Is it merely a coincidence that the first stage of the ratification of the Kyoto protocol finishes in December 2012?

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock (pardon the highly distasteful pun) in recent days would know that the Japanese quake was the seventh most powerful in history, and was actually so forceful, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the University of Toronto, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that it actually “shifted the Earth’s axis by 25 centimeters (9.8 in). This deviation led to a number of small planetary changes, including the length of a day and the tilt of the Earth. The speed of the Earth’s rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth’s mass.”

Not to mention its repercussions across the rest of the world, including Hawaii, the U.S. and Canada’s west coasts, Tonga, American Samoa, New Zealand, Russia, Mexico, Peru and Chile, and the holdup the nuclear disaster will cause for other countries interested in adopting nuclear power, including Australia.

Egypt’s uprising and Libya’s civil war seem like child’s play in comparison, but one humanitarian disaster after another seems to be the way of the future unless we get our act together and think of the bigger picture.

Twitter played a huge part in Egypt’s revolution (the Libyan people haven’t been so lucky, with internet access shut down by the government); mobile phones allowed Christchurch’s residents trapped in the rubble to contact family and emergency services with their whereabouts. With electricity, phone and internet connections down in Japan, it’s proving difficult to take the same road (again, pardon the pun; the tsunami washed out roads and train lines, leaving most Japanese residents in affected areas stranded). However, Google Person Finder, which was used in the Haitian, Chilean and New Zealand disasters, is coming in handy.

I’m not 100% sure what this all means, or even how it all relates to the supposed “end of the world”.

What I do know is that it seems increasingly likely that every time we turn on the news or open up our web browsers, we won’t see Charlie Sheen’s latest antics, but another disaster that is leading us to the end of the world if we don’t take a look at ourselves and make a change, as Michael Jackson so poignantly sung.

[Jezebel] Comment of the Day: Earth Prepares for 2012 Series Finale.

[Wikipedia] Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar.

[Wikipedia] 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.

[USA Today] Does Maya Calendar Predict 2012 Apocalypse?

[WebCite] Japan’s Quake Shifts Earth’s Axis by 25 Centimetres.

[CBS] Earth’s Day Length Shortened by Japan Earthquake.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Apocalypse Now: 2012 Come Early?

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March, 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Minus Two & a Half Men.

Images via YouTube, Wish I Didn’t Know.

 

In the News: Apocalypse Now—2012 Come Early?

With all the natural disasters and political uprisings in the world at the moment, you’d be forgiven for thinking the end of the world—2012, according to the Mayan calendar—was happening as we speak I write.

But with Japan’s earthquake, tsunami and nuclear crisis, New Zealand’s recent earthquake, Queensland and Victoria’s floods and Cyclone Yasi, the civil war in Libya and the Egyptian revolution, the end is nigh.

Now personally, I don’t actually believe the end of the world will occur on December 21, 2012, when the Mayan, or the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar, finishes. I think it will be more of an ideological shift caused by catastrophic events, like those happening in Japan, than Armageddon.

But let’s have a look at when the end of said calendar occurs and what it actually means.

In a (very sketchy) nutshell, December 20, 2012 marks the end of the 13th b’ak’tun, (equivalent to 144,000 days and 394.3 solar years), while December 21, 2012 will be the beginning of the 14th b’ak’tun.

There have been rumours that no prophetic predictions have been made after 2012 by Nostradamus et al., but Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History, says that reaching the end of a b’ak’tun cycle was cause for celebration and that the 2012 hullabaloo is “a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.”

This lends evidence to my theory that with the world literally cracking up, it’s only a matter of time before we have to take heed of global warming warnings, which are manifesting themselves in natural disasters across the globe. Is it merely a coincidence that the first stage of the ratification of the Kyoto protocol finishes in December 2012?

Anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock (pardon the highly distasteful pun) in recent days would know that the Japanese quake was the seventh most powerful in history, and was actually so forceful, according to Italy’s National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology, the University of Toronto, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory that it actually “shifted the Earth’s axis by 25 centimeters (9.8 in). This deviation led to a number of small planetary changes, including the length of a day and the tilt of the Earth. The speed of the Earth’s rotation increased, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds due to the redistribution of Earth’s mass.”

Not to mention its repercussions across the rest of the world, including Hawaii, the U.S. and Canada’s west coasts, Tonga, American Samoa, New Zealand, Russia, Mexico, Peru and Chile, and the holdup the nuclear disaster will cause for other countries interested in adopting nuclear power, including Australia.

Egypt’s uprising and Libya’s civil war seem like child’s play in comparison, but one humanitarian disaster after another seems to be the way of the future unless we get our act together and think of the bigger picture.

Twitter played a huge part in Egypt’s revolution (the Libyan people haven’t been so lucky, with internet access shut down by the government); mobile phones allowed Christchurch’s residents trapped in the rubble to contact family and emergency services with their whereabouts. With electricity, phone and internet connections down in Japan, it’s proving difficult to take the same road (again, pardon the pun; the tsunami washed out roads and train lines, leaving most Japanese residents in affected areas stranded). However, Google Person Finder, which was used in the Haitian, Chilean and New Zealand disasters, is coming in handy.

I’m not 100% sure what this all means, or even how it all relates to the supposed “end of the world”.

What I do know is that it seems increasingly likely that every time we turn on the news or open up our web browsers, we won’t see Charlie Sheen’s latest antics, but another disaster that is leading us to the end of the world if we don’t take a look at ourselves and make a change, as Michael Jackson so poignantly sung.

[Wikipedia] Mesoamerican Long Count Calendar.

[Wikipedia] 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami.

[USA Today] Does Maya Calendar Predict 2012 Apocalypse?

[WebCite] Japan’s Quake Shifts Earth’s Axis by 25 Centimetres.

[CBS] Earth’s Day Length Shortened by Japan Earthquake.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March, 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Minus Two & a Half Men.

Images via YouTube, Wish I Didn’t Know.

In the News: Minus Two & a Half Men.

Girl with a Satchel featured an excerpt from a Washington Post column about body snarking at the Oscars:

“I would like to note that more space was devoted to photographs of ladies wearing dresses… than for the last two weeks’ coverage of the events in Libya.”

This is also true of the news coverage in Vietnam, where a colleague of mine (whom I mentioned as the friendly workplace Big Issue provider earlier this week) is spending five weeks. In a recent email, he said that the hot topic on the news there is Charlie Sheen, not Libya, Egypt or Japan, which bore the brunt of a 7.3 magnitude earthquake yesterday afternoon.

A story on MamaMia written by publicist Steven Murphy echoes this:

“His weakness for drugs and alcohol is… well documented and he has been fodder for the tabloid press for years.

“But this latest incident is front-page news like no other. But why? Why is this incident haunting our news services day and night?”

The article somewhat-annoyingly glossed over the fact that his drug and alcohol problems are put at the forefront of his negative publicity, when his hatred of women and obvious mental illness are shoved to the back.

Jezebel hasn’t forgotten, however, with a no-bullshit article entitled “Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women” published last week. The article also dealt with John Galliano’s disgraceful display of anti-Semitism, and what the news stories don’t tell you:

“Galliano allegedly grabbed gallery curator Geraldine Bloch by the hair and said, ‘Shut your mouth, dirty bitch, I can’t stand your dirty whore voice.’”

I, myself, didn’t even know that happened until I read the article, and I usually take a vested interest in these sorts of things.

On the plus side, Galliano has been fired as head designer of Christian Dior and—finally!—Sheen’s been fired as head douchebag on Two & a Half Men, to be replaced, allegedly, by reformed bad boy and fellow brat pack member, Rob Lowe.

While I couldn’t be happier about the latter (let’s shout it from the rooftops!), Galliano’s reign at Dior produced some of the finest garments the fashion world has seen, and it’s unfortunate it had to come to this.

But I applaud the fashion house for ousting the anti-Semite, and stars like Natalie Portman, who have publicly spoken out against him.

Both men’s firings show that there is a zero tolerance policy against these kinds of abhorrent behaviours, and hopefully other companies, in the entertainment industry and otherwise, will follow suit.

Although Michael Specter of The New Yorker doesn’t think so, writing that:

“the fashion world has a remarkable ability to shrug off the odd deeply flawed human being, as long as he or she can cut a dress like Galliano can or wear one like Kate Moss, who, despite behaviour that sets a disastrous example for millions of girls, including issues with drugs, is forgiven because, well, she is really very pretty.”

I haven’t always been innocent in providing double standards to those I like, think are talented, and should be forgiven for their indiscretions.

Just yesterday, some co-workers and I were talking about Catherine Deveny’s tweets at last year’s Logies. Personally, I didn’t find them to be offensive, and sorely miss her column on the back page of The Saturday Age’s Life & Style (formerly the A2). But, looking back on it, The Age did the right thing by sacking her. At the time, both Deveny and I used the excuse that she’s a comedienne; that’s her job. I guess it takes the disgraces of people you don’t like to understand the repercussions of (the disgraces of) those you do.

Once such repugnant crime committed by professional wrestler Chris Benoit in 2007, when he murdered his wife and son and killed himself, gave me lots to think (and write) about. On the one hand, I felt his legacy as one of the best professional wrestlers ever to grace the squared circle shouldn’t be forgotten, however, Benoit took three lives and sullied the reputation of professional wrestling (okay, there wasn’t much of a reputation left to sully!) and sparked a debate on steroids and drug testing that raged for years; the smoke of which still lingers today.

I’ve written several articles on that story and, with a new frame of mind to cast a different light on the story, I think I may just revisit said articles. (The anniversary of the double-murder suicide is June 24, so watch this space around that time.)

Benoit was obviously seriously mentally ill; the (not-so-) funny thing is, his friends, family and co-workers never picked up on it.

Charlie Sheen, however, has a long history of violence and drug use, and there’s no telling what he’s capable of.

[MamaMia] Advice to Charlie Sheen from Australia’s Top Publicist.

[Jezebel] Charlie Sheen’s History of Violence Toward Women.

[The New Yorker] John Galliano’s Implosion.

[Girl with a Satchel] Body Snarking is So No Funny But Jacki Weaver is Fab.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Big Issue Review, 1-14 March 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] The Anatomy of a Douchebag.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Guilty Until Proven Innocent: Charlie Sheen’s Witness.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Why Are Famous Men Forgiven for Their Wrongdoings, While Women Are Vilified for Much Less?

Images via NY Daily News, The Gloss, Pop Culture Madness.

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.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

In the wake of Angus and Robertson and Borders going into receivership, Satchel Girl Erica Bartle thinks “some things are prettier in print”.

“Letters to Fictional TV Characters”, such as Saved By the Bell’s Jessie Spano:

“You hair, your height, your convictions; everything about you terrified viewers! Maybe it’s because you bear a striking resemblance to the exotic dancer in Showgirls.”

Channing Tatum on the double standards for male and female strippers. (FYI, he used to be one.)

Jezebel asks “What Happened to Olivia Benson’s Sex Life?” by way of The New Gay.

Mia Freedman writes: “I want to be kept up to date about the news from Christchurch without feeling like I’m participating in some voyeuristic type of grief porn.”

Freedman also has a new book out, Mia Culpa: Confessions from the Watercooler of Life. Here she answers questions about it. Can’t wait to get my hands on it! Review pending!

There have been differing views of the St. Kilda Schoolgirl, and this journalist expresses yet another.

It pays to be a Kardashian. $65 million, to be exact.

Googled “murder” lately? Jezebel bets you weren’t expecting to find “abortion” as the second link…

Rape on TV.

Julia Baird on journalist Lara Logan’s sexual assault by 200 men during the  Egyptian revolution:

“The attacks on Logan spread to Twitter, with coded versions of the above sentiments, most implying that it was her fault because women should not go into war zones, and that this is what happens if you are young, hot and surrounded by Muslims*. It’s hard to know where to start—the sexism, racism and lack of simple compassion are all stunning” [bold text mine].

*It’s sickening that this is the viewpoint of so many.

Image via The Next Bar Stool.

Newspaper Clipping of the Week.

Sarah Wilson’s “A Better Life” column in this week’s Sunday Life deals with her “First World problems”, popularised by fellow former Cosmopolitan editor Mia Freedman on her MamaMia blog:

“There you are, having some First World, self-righteous, control-freakish throwdown—your latte arrives cold and made with non-decaffeinated beans, you have under-thigh burn because one of the kids left the heated car seat on high—and someone mentions their baby has cancer. Or that they’re bankrupt. It makes you pull your head in. And get perspective.”

I had some similar First World problems last Wednesday; I forgot take my hairbrush to work, so I had no way of taming my tresses before going to see Hairspray that night. I also got to work especially early to get some blogging-related work done, and the internet was down, so I wasted half an hour that could have been spent sleeping. Or jogging. Or retrieving said hairbrush.

And don’t you worry; I made damn sure everyone knew about “the worst day of my life”. (Actually, the worst day of my life was the day I moved to Sydney. Funnily enough, I can’t remember the best…)

This is not to mention the crisis that followed on Friday night when I fucked up the application of a faux-tattoo for a costume party (stay tuned for more on this next week). Luckily, I was able to commandeer the permanent marker-on-skin skills of my sister and her friend

But considering the apocalyptic events happening around the world—uprisings in Egypt and Libya; flood after cyclone after flood in Queensland and Victoria, and now Christchurch’s earthquake; WikiLeaks and the can of political relations worms that scandal opened—there’s really nothing for me—nor Wilson—to worry about.

You can read the full article here.

[Sarah Wilson] A Reality Check with Nick Vujicic (And a Lesson in Helping Others).

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Julian Assange: Modern Day Outlaw.