Magazine Review: The Big Issue, 24 May–6 June 2011.

I’ve been making an effort to pick up The Big Issue whenever I can, despite Kylie Minogue being on this edition’s cover.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Kylie, but I feel like she’s been in the media for that long that there’s not much more to write about her, and I’m certainly not interested in reading about her.

While I didn’t read the cover story on her (p. 18–21), most everything else in this edition of The Big Issue is a great read.

There’s another feature (p. 14–16) on the chances of Barack Obama being reelected in 2012 in the aftermath of the Osama bin Laden assassination that’s well worth the $5 cover price, remembering that half the proceeds go to the vendor.

Photographer Jay Banning’s series Bureaucratics which profiles public servants, their offices and their salaries from all over the world, is an eye-opening piece by Michael Green (p. 24–27). The exhibition will hit Melbourne in 2012.

Regular columnists Mic Looby writes on the longevity of Marcel Proust’s hefty tomes in the Twitter age (p. 12) and Fiona Scott-Norman on global gay rights in the wake of Uganda’s Kill the Gays bill being abolished (p. 29). Meanwhile, Jake Cleland laments the “fame via YouTube” trend (Rebecca Black, he’s looking at you) (p. 32–33).

The issue is rounded out by the world’s fascination with the Big Brother-esque televised shenanigans of the Logies and the royal wedding in the same weekend (p. 42), and Australia’s fascination with “The Sickie” (p. 46).

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

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Time: The End of bin Laden, May 20, 2011 Review.

Book Review: I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley.

Like most of the authors I tend to favour (Mick Foley, Dominick Dunne), Sloane Crosley is not very well known in Australia, but she’s all the rage on the U.S. indie scene, with her latest offering of essays, How Did You Get this Number, and her first publication, I Was Told There’d Be Cake.

I don’t usually read short stories, but I made an exception this time around, as they are more creative non-fiction “essays” than fictional short stories.

And my, were they worth it. Crosley certainly has a snarky way with words, and her style reminds me a bit of Mia Freedman mixed with the tone of Jezebel and a good helping of laugh-out-loud-ness.

What I normally do when I’m reading or watching TV is immediately update my Facebook status with any funny or poignant (but mostly just funny) quotes from said book/blog/magazine/TV show/movie, and the amount of Facebook fodder that come out of them usually determines their caliber. (Just from the amount of Grey’s Anatomy quotes I’ve been supplying my Facebook feed with, it’s a quality program.)

So here are a few of my favourite quotes from I Was Told There’d Be Cake:

  • “All this post-collegeiate getting up early and not wearing jeans every day was starting to wear on my temperament,” (can’t give you the page number because I didn’t write it down :(.)
  • “I don’t think God even actually knows when Hanukah starts. I’m pretty sure we rent Him out to the Catholics for the month of December and retrieve him for Yom Kippur, Rosh Hashanah and other celebrations not based on milk chocolate and fluorescent wax,” (Ditto.)
  • “For a year my father had been working at a division of his company in Sydney, communicating with us largely via fax. Then one day we had visas and passports and private schools picked out… ‘Everyone in Australia goes to private school,’ my father explained, a statistic that still makes no sense,” (p. 69). It makes no sense ‘cause it isn’t true.
  • “I wanted to be Australian as soon as humanly possible. I went on a self-designed immersion program(me). I started watching tapes of post-Kylie Minogue/pre-Natalie Imbruglia Neighbours, an Australian soap opera popular in the UK for its mind-numbing, cliffhanger plots. These were about as intricate as one character’s shoelaces coming untied and the question on the table being if the shoelaces would get tied in the next episode. If you’ve never had the good fortune to see Australian soap operas (Home & Away, another classic), let’s just say they make American soap operas look like Requiem for a Dream. The unrated version,” (p. 70–71).
  • “Names I am most commonly called by telemarketers: Simone, Slain, Siobhan, Flo, Stacey, Susan, Slater, Leanne and Slow (Yes, my parents named me ‘Slow’. That’s because they hate me and made me sleep in the linen closet subsisting only on bath salts and Scope.),” (p. 76). Try having the name “Sequoia”, which my sister does. She gets such gems as “Seq, Sigourney, Sig, Sigi B, Sigisbert, Maloia, Maloy, Square, Quoi, Sex, Sequila and Squealing Dogs”, most of which were made up by me.
  • “I think husbands are like tattoos—you should wait until you come across something you want on your body for the rest of your life instead of just wandering into a tattoo palour on some idle Sunday…” (p. 157).
  • “‘I started my vegetarianism for health reasons, then it became a moral choice, and now it’s just to annoy people’,” (p. 207).
  • “I have the same number of veggie friends as I do gay friends. Because it’s so common and often even hip to be a vegetarian, it’s become socially acceptable to poke fun at us. Being a vegan, of course, is more like the dietary equivalent of being a transsexual. Acceptance isn’t quite as contagious as it should be,” (p. 208–209).
  • “‘Oh, because “larval fat” is so much less traumatising than “fuck”,’” (p. 128).
  • “It seemed more and more like something out of a children’s book—the butterfly that followed the little girl all the way home to her fifth-floor walk-up,” (p. 135).

Those last two quotes come from my favourite chapter, in which Crosley volunteers in the butterfly collection at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. This hit close to home as, while I don’t divulge my workplace on this here blog, the complex I work in encompasses a butterfly collection.

The chapter gets increasingly harebrained as Crosley has irrational fears of the world’s largest moth, the Atlas moth, which is named for the globe-like pattern on its wings, attacking her. Low and behold, the Atlas moth attaches itself to Crosley’s back one evening, and follows her home, all the way to her “fifth-floor walk-up”. She freaks out and manages to transfer it from her shoulder to the shower curtain, then into a sieve to transport all the way back to the museum. What happens next is the moral of the story, but I might just let you find that out for yourself ;).




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

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

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Book Review: Mama Mia—A Memoir of Mistakes, Magazines & Motherhood by Mia Freedman.

Mag Covers of the Year.

As 2010 draws to a close, what better time to look back on the year’s best magazine covers (according to yours truly; feel free to add your favourites in the comments)?

This blog began back in April, with “Mag Cover of the Week” going live at the end of May, so it’s not an exhaustive list of all the best covers, but rather a selection of those that have featured here, plus a few extras thrown in.

You will notice that there is a lot of skin-baring and suggestive imagery amongst the covers, which goes to show that sex still sells in the current progressive magazine environment (Yen, Peppermint and the late Notebook: come to mind as Aussie titles that buck this trend), or at least it sells to me.

Without further ado, let’s begin the list with those such covers: Lara Stone for the October/90th Anniversary issue of Paris Vogue; a nude Christina Aguilera for German GQ; the new Bond Transformers girl, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, for the September issue of LOVE; a machine gun-wielding and “Alejandro”-inspired Lady Gaga for Rolling Stone; andwho else?Who’s Sexiest People cover, featuring the always stunning Jessica Marais in pin-up-style garb, Jennifer Hawkins and the most impressive cleavage I’ve seen in a long time, and the vanilla (but also impressively chested) Natalie Imbruglia.

When uttering the word “sexy”, few TV shows come to mind before True Blood, which takes out two of the top spots with their blood-spattered (Jezebel noted that you can practically see Anna Paquin’s tampon string!) Rolling Stone appearance, and their Entertainment Weekly cover, which is worth it for Alexander Skarsgard’s penetrating stare alone.

Lindsay Lohan made the cut twice, too, with her bikini (or is it lingerie?) covers for German GQ and Maxim.

In the less sexy/more high fashion department, Madison borrowed Kylie Minogue from UK Elle for their September issue; Katy Perry was inspired by vintage Vogue for the US Harper’s Bazaar subscriber cover; Jennifer Aniston joined the ranks of celebrities channelling other celebrities by getting her Barbra Streisand on (also) for US Harper’s Bazaar; model-of-the-moment Constance Jablonski on the cover of German Vogue; and Industrie celebrates Marc Jacobs in drag, while V hails he and Lady Gaga as the crown jewels of New York City.

Lastly, Lady Gaga on the cover that launched a thousand meat bikinis (okay, no. But it did launch the meat dress, which was the fashion moment of the year), Japan’s Vogue Homme.

And considering Terry Richardson shot the aforementioned cover, it brings me to wonder which covers would be considered the worst of the year. Glee getting their gear off for GQ, anyone?

On the (Rest of the) Net.

Frock & Roll has some poignant points on how to “network, promote and get your blog out there” aka “hustle”. I’ve only read part one of the series, but you can find part two here, with part three on its way.

Who do you write like? Apparently, from the sample I typed in to the analyzer, I write like David Foster Wallace, author of one of Time magazine’s All-Time Greatest Novels, Infinite Jest! Not too shabby!

It’s no secret Prince is one of my favourite musicians, but according to Fajr Muhammad of Stylish Thought, he’s also a style icon, assless pants and all!

Edward Cullen sparkles, but feminism certainly doesn’t. Amplify Your Voice discusses “What Twilight Teaches Young Girls”.

Author Marketing Experts suggest “Seven Powerful Ways to Find New Readers For Your Blog” (there’re actually eight!).

An oldie but a goody: Inappropriate Woman Rachel Hills muses on Gossip Girl, Serena & Effortless Perfection”.

In the vein of last week’s “In Defence of Taylor Momsen” comes the case for Lindsay Lohan as she is released from jail and shipped off to rehab for the umpteenth time.

On Tuesday night, “I Went to See Killers, and It’s All Your Fault”, Jezebel!

Girl with a Satchel has two (here and here) fab pictorials up of this year’s September issues. Here’s just a little taste…