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?

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.

So This Is Christmas & What Have You Done?

I’m over New Years resolutions, so instead, I’m going to reflect on what has been a pretty full on and somewhat life changing year:

  • In January, I went to Phillip Island with some workmates for a few days, which kind of set the scene for a tumultuous year, friend-wise. I gained one good friend and lost another as a result, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. It made me realise you’ve got to stand up for yourself and cut people out of your life who treat you like crap and make you feel that way.
  • Shortly after said trip, I moved from country Victoria to Melbourne. It was my first time living out of home and my first time living alone, and let me tell you, I loved every minute of it. Relations between my mother and I were strained, so I definitely needed some me time (six months of it, in fact) in order to fend for myself, have my own living space where I could do what I wanted, when I wanted, and in the end, it made me appreciate “home” more (more to come on that next week).
  • Of course, the most significant change this year was starting this blog. I want to thank all the readers who’ve stuck by me from the start, especially my friends who initially felt obligated to support me, but now keep coming back because they actually like what I write! And I want to thank Erica Bartle from Girl with a Satchel for her support and guidance in the very beginning; Rachel Hills of Musings of an Inappropriate Woman, who has inspired me in incorporating “On the (Rest of the) Net”, feminist commentary and gender relations into the blog, and who sometimes features me on hers (!); Sarah Ayoub of Wordsmith Lane, who was my first “Profile” guinea pig, and who was also a big supporter in launching the blog; and Gala Darling (of Gala Darling, duh!), whose link to me saw my readership jump from about 200 one day to 1600 the next! She has also supported me privately via email, which I was très excited about! I hope to see you all coming back in 2011.
  • Living in Melbourne in general has seen my world opened up to so many new things, which in turn provides blog fodder. Just some of the cool things I’ve done this year, just because I could: attended numerous roller derby gigs; saw childhood icon Peter Combe in concert; saw A Midsummer Night’s Dream in the Botanic Gardens (with Wind in the Willows coming up); went to many an exhibition; and much, much more.

So that’s what I’ve done this year.

And here’s one more thing I’m going to do: leave you with some John Lennon to get you in the holiday spirit, in case you already aren’t.

On the (Rest of the) Net.

“Christina Aguilera: Always the Second Fiddle.”

I don’t believe in New Years resolutions anymore, namely because I could never realise mine. But I like Rachel Hills’ idea of writing an obituary for the year passed. In this case, her 2008 in review.

HuffPo on the absence of modern technology in modern literature:

“The average fictional character is either so thoroughly disinterested in email, social media, and text messages he never thinks of it, or else hastily mentions electronic communications in the past tense. Sure, characters in fiction may own smart phones, but few have the urge to compulsively play with the device while waiting to meet a friend or catch a flight. This ever-present anachronism has made it so that almost all literary fiction is science fiction, a thought experiment as to what life might be like if we weren’t so absorbed in our iPhones but instead watched and listened to the world around us at a moment’s rest.”

Girl with a Satchel ponders the price of a pretty picture.

“Caring for Your Introvert” is one of the best articles I’ve read all year (and considering it was written in 2003, that’s saying something). Here, an excerpt:

“With their endless appetite for talk and attention, extroverts also dominate social life, so they tend to set expectations. In our extrovertist society, being outgoing is considered normal and therefore desirable, a mark of happiness, confidence, leadership. Extroverts are seen as bighearted, vibrant, warm, empathic. ‘People person’ is a compliment. Introverts are described with words like ‘guarded’, ‘loner’, ‘reserved’, ‘taciturn’, ‘self-contained’, ‘private’—narrow, ungenerous words, words that suggest emotional parsimony and smallness of personality. Female introverts, I suspect, must suffer especially. In certain circles, particularly in the Midwest, a man can still sometimes get away with being what they used to call a strong and silent type; introverted women, lacking that alternative, are even more likely than men to be perceived as timid, withdrawn, haughty.

“The worst of it is that extroverts have no idea of the torment they put us through. Sometimes, as we gasp for air amid the fog of their 98-percent-content-free talk, we wonder if extroverts even bother to listen to themselves. Still, we endure stoically, because the etiquette books—written, no doubt, by extroverts—regard declining to banter as rude and gaps in conversation as awkward. We can only dream that someday, when our condition is more widely understood, when perhaps an Introverts’ Rights movement has blossomed and borne fruit, it will not be impolite to say ‘I’m an introvert. You are a wonderful person and I like you. But now please shush.’”

Furthermore, The Los Angeles Times notes that despite the introverted minority, television doesn’t reflect their existence very well. (Does television reflect anything very well?):

“Watch Seinfeld or Friends or Sex & the City or Community or Men of a Certain Age—the list is endless—and you’ll see people who not only are never ever alone but people whose relationships are basically smooth, painless, uninhibited and deeply, deeply intimate—the kind of friendships we may have had in college but that most of us can only dream about now. How many adults do you know who manage to hang out with their friends every single day for hour after hour?”

On that, Gossip Girl is notorious for misrepresenting reality. While she knows I love her, GG often makes me feel guilty about the clothes I’m not wearing, the sex I’m not having, and the events I’m not going to. Apparently, it’s not true to the books, either.

Check out The Washington City Paper for their musings on masculinity over the past decade, with a special focus on boy bands, metrosexuals, hipsters and guidos, à la Jersey Shore.

Gwyneth Paltrow: You either love her or hate her. I hated her with a passion until I saw her on Glee, in which she came across as carefree, cool and sexy and made her a tiny bit more relatable to the general populus who don’t subscribe to her Goop musings. Mia Freedman writes hilariously on this conundrum, with a focus on a related article from Salon.

Also at MamaMia, “17 Arguments Against Gay MarriageAnd Why They’re Bullocks” is brilliant.

Tangled will be the last fairytale Disney releases in a while.

Can you still be a feminist and dress in a bra top? (Of course you can; stay tuned for more on this next week.) Or espouse archaic notions of heterosexual relations, for that matter?

“The Ongoing, Albeit Amusing, Battle to Save Bristol” on Dancing with the Stars:

“‘This seems like a case of the rich, popular cheerleaders looking like they’ve sucked on a lemon when they learn that the poor girl in school, the one in the home-made clothes and religious family, gets elected Prom Queen.’

“I’ve rarely seen such a clean-cut example of the conservative tendency to say up is down and black is white. Or, more precisely, to bemoan how oppressed white, rich, and highly privileged people are.

“… But Bristol Palin hasn’t really done squat. She is literally famous for having a baby at an inopportune time. And now she continues to get promoted over more talented people than her because she was born into the right family… Bristol Palin is a hero to wingnut America because she’s a great example of rewarding someone for being born into privilege instead of on their merits.

“… I just find it extremely funny that the wingnutteria is backing someone with no talent on a show with no real importance to stick it to liberals who by and large don’t really care, and they’re doing so because they’re intoxicated by privilege and kind of wish they had a monarchy, but they’re pretending that they’re doing it because they want to see the oppressed rise above. I suppose after Dancing with the Stars is done, they should start sticking it to the liberals by defending poor, oppressed Paris Hilton, who is definitely the weird girl with handmade clothes that is picked on by cheerleaders.”

Mel Gibson and the curse of the “Sexiest Man Alive” tag.

On Stieg Larsson and the “disturbing”, “torturous” patriarchy of his Millennium trilogy.

Women are funny, too.

Giveaway: Becky Sharp’s Christmas Vintage Fashion Market.

I have three tickets to give away for Becky Sharp’s Christmas Vanity Fair Fashion Market.

The event takes place between 10am and 3pm on Saturday 4th December at the Tivoli Club, 291 Dandenong Road, Windsor. The number 5 tram from Flinders Street Station/Swanston Street goes right past the Tivoli Club.

I have never been to the market, so I can’t give my recommendation, and work commitments are preventing me from attending this time, but with a free ticket, who could say no?

The next market isn’t until Valentine’s Day, so it’s the perfect place to pick up a Christmas gift or to “find a special outfit for a Christmas or New Year party”.

First in best dressed; email me at scarlett.harris@y7mail.com with your name, address and how many tickets you would like to be in the running.