On the (Rest of the) Net.

Check out this fascinating look as to where your unwanted charity clothes actually go. [Slate]

Sloane Crosley on her guest spot on Gossip Girl, playing herself:

“Nuance aside, whether you’re playing yourself or a wink-wink persona, the law of cameo syllogism goes as follows: if you spend a certain amount of time playing yourself, you are no longer yourself but playing a version of yourself—a stereotype of you. Add a bonus layer if you are playing a stereotype of you in a fictional scene in which all the fictional characters are outraged by the possibility that the fictional (or fictional fictional) characters in a fictional book published by a real publishing house might be based on the actual real fictional selves they’re playing.” [The Believer Magazine, via Musings of an Inappropriate Woman]

Lara Croft, version 2.0: rape victim? [MamaMia]

The Tyranny of ‘She’s Just Jealous’.” But sometimes, she just is. [Jezebel]

With all the hullabaloo surrounding vaginas in the U.S. Senate at the moment, here are 25 Republican-sanctioned alternatives to the anatomically correct name for your lady garden. [Jezebel]

Guest Post: Get Out of the City.

Recently I decided that I desperately needed a holiday.

I then realised I haven’t had a week off work in three years. I was shocked and promptly applied for annual leave. I wanted a nice, relaxing beachside holiday where I could read and get massages. My immediate thoughts were of Bali, but then I thought of Byron.

I’ve had a love affair with Byron Bay ever since I went on that Year 12 weeklong ritual known as Schoolies. I went up with a bunch of girlfriends for a week in November, and my Year 12 boyfriend also went up with his mates, and it was a week of partying, drinking, sleeping on the beach and more partying. The town was teeming with seventeen and eighteen-year-olds letting off some much needed steam after a year of hard work. I returned with a girlfriend and her sister six months later in the middle of winter and the place had a completely different vibe—less tourists, more locals and generally quieter and more peaceful. That time I stayed in a Tee Pee in the Arts Factory Village, about a ten-minute walk into the centre of town. The time after that was during the break between my first and second year of uni when I was nineteen. Ever since I had visited during winter, I said I would go and live there for four months over the summer. And thus, with my car full of the essentials—bedding, books, music and a shitload of clothes I cajoled my friend into making the trek up to Byron with me and off we went.

When I arrived I started looking for accommodation—and found it in the form of a zany English family—complete with kids called Tigger and Roo, a contortionist mother and a Valium-addicted father. I was desperate for any kind of cheapish accommodation so I took the room without a second thought. Even though baby Roo was teething and thus screaming the house down every night, I stuck it out until the end and met a few other backpackers along the way.

My next requirement was to find a job. I quickly got a job working as a waitress at The Rails, a pub located on the train line behind the bus stop that only the locals frequent. So my days consisted of lying on the beach during the day, and working at The Rails at night.

I left Byron at the beginning of February to get ready for my second year of uni with a sense of accomplishment. My first foray into living independently was a success! I returned in March with my sister and a few of her friends for the Blues and Roots Festival. The family I stayed with over the summer had enough room for us all to stay for the week, which consisted of music, drinks, party favours, TDK moments and cane toads.

I have wanted to return to Byron for a while now, but I always had some sort of excuse not to go. But this time around I was determined to. I found relatively cheap flights, along with affordable Balinese-like accommodation located ten minutes from the centre of town. I was set. When I asked my boyfriend if he wanted to go he said he couldn’t afford it, so I decided to go alone.

Whenever I told someone about my trip they always asked who I was going with, and when I replied that I was going alone to relax and do nothing but read books they all seemed jealous [Early Bird note: Especially me!].

I was on the early flight and as soon as I stepped off the plane and into the sunshine I instantly felt more relaxed. After I arrived at my accommodation, I then armed myself with two books, water and some sunscreen I wandered into town. I had been told there was now a Sportsgirl store on the main street so I was prepared for a bit of a commercial change to it, but I was dismayed to also find a Supre store alongside a Witchery, Just Jeans and Ice, sitting in amongst the ubiquitous hippie shops and surf stores! But not to be deterred, I found a lovely cafe to bask in the sun and enjoy a light lunch at, followed by a couple of hours of reading at the Beach Hotel. I have recently discovered the books of Sloane Crosley, and I have to say she’s one of my new favourite authors. She is one of those rare writers who can make me laugh out loud. I pretty much inhaled her first book of essays, I Was Told There’d Be Cake, in my first afternoon and promptly started on my next book, Last Summer by Kylie Ladd. By this time it was about 4:30pm and the sun was fading, so I wandered back to my room and spent the twilight hours reading and listening to Ben Harper, and then ambled back into the chilly breeze (why didn’t I pack any socks?) for dinner. I had a craving for a big bowl of Vietnamese pho, and it was this craving that led me to the new Japanese restaurant that had opened three days prior, Enso, which took he place of the Vietnamese one. I saw it as a sign to eat Japanese. The restaurant was up a set of stairs and kind of hidden away, which was perfect because it meant the tourists hadn’t sniffed it out yet. When I enquired about a wine list the waiter apologetically said they weren’t licensed, but then proceeded to pour me a lovely glass of champagne, free of charge. Sometimes it pays to eat alone. And thus, my first dinner of gyoza, cabbage salad and miso soup was one of the highlights of the trip.

Wednesday was pampering day. I awoke early to get a bacon and egg roll and a coffee from the local milk bar, Macs, before heading off to the Buddha Gardens Day Spa for a three hour relaxation session.

On arrival I was offered an herbal tea and was then transported to buff, scrub, polish, wrap, oil and massage heaven. After the treatments, I ambled back to the beach with lunch on the brain and got a generous serving of spud with extras and a Coke at Soul Bowl, and went and sat on the grass beside the beach and settled in for the afternoon. I polished off my second book and made headway on the third: Yann Martel’s Beatrice and Virgil. It was nothing compared to Life of Pi, but it was still a good read. Once again, 4:30pm hit, and the weather turned a little chilly so I went home to put on more clothes and have a bit of a nap. For dinner I went back to my old stomping ground, The Rails. The owners may have changed, but their famous beef and bacon burger and the atmosphere sure hasn’t. After a feed and a beer, I headed back home for a good night’s sleep.

On Thursday I allowed myself a sleep-in—I was on holidays after all!

I set off around 11:00am after a coffee to walk to the Cape Byron Lighthouse, the most eastern point of the Australian mainland. My memory of the last time I walked to the lighthouse may have been a little skewed because I sure don’t remember it being that steep with that many steps.

Whew! After a few rest stops to catch my breath and marvel at the amazing view, complete with diving whales, I made it to the top, and that view alone was well worth the effort. After a light lunch at the Lighthouse Cafe I found a lovely spot in the sun to sit and read. I finished off Beatrice and Virgil and promptly started on the latest Sweet Valley High novel by Francine Pascal, Ten Years Later. You may scoff at the reading material but my sister taught me how to read when I was four using the Sweet Valley Kids series and we spent most of our childhood and early adulthood devouring these books, so there is a definite nostalgia element to reading this book. Don’t knock it until you try it.

After a while I thought I should make the trek back down to town. I got to the main beach and lay down on the sand and settled in for the afternoon. I headed home around 5:00pm to shower and then walked back into town for Sushi Train and a movie at the Dendy cinemas. I managed to wrangle myself a free ticket to see Bad Teacher through my cinema connections and had a crème brulee choc top. The choc top was good, the movie not so much.

Friday was my last full day, and I had booked in for another massage because I carried my bag full of books, a towel, water bottle and other assortments up to the lighthouse the previous day and my shoulders and neck suffered for it. I had booked in for 11:00am and after a breakfast of fruit toast and awful coffee—just a tip, don’t go to the 23 Hour Bakery for coffee—I received a phone call from the massage place saying they had to cancel because the masseuse was ill. Damn! There goes my peaceful relaxation. But, the massage place recommended a Thai massage place right around the corner that could probably fit me in straightaway. I hurried around to book it in and luckily I was able to get massaged on the spot. Forty-five minutes later I was floating on a cloud and I wandered out in a daze. The weather wasn’t as nice as the previous days so I wandered up and down the street before finding a sheltered place out of the wind to sit and read. I found a spot at the Beach Hotel for a couple of hours before moving on when the sun dipped behind the clouds and looked intent on staying there. Stomach rumbling I went to the famous Bay Kebab store for a delicious lamb kebab then to a cafe to have a cup of tea and do some more reading. Once the cafe closed I went back to the beach and sat in the park before heading home via In the Pink ice-creamery. That evening I stayed in my room reading and watching Juno on TV.

All in all, for anyone who needs a few days rest and relaxation, I would highly recommending taking off to Byron Bay with a suitcase full of reading material and massages booked.

—Sallie Butler.

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] I Was Told There’d Be Cake by Sloane Crosley Review.

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!

Related: [The Early Bird Catches the Worm] My Week in Pictures 14th July 2011.

[The Early Bird Catches the Worm] Bad Taste Foxymorons.

Event: Evolution of the Bookshop at the Wheeler Centre.

I never thought a seemingly boring panel conversation about e-books versus hard copy print media would trump a discussion about masculinity in Australia, but it seems “The Evolution of the Bookshop” has come out on top when it comes to talks I’ve seen at the Wheeler Centre lately.

I’m a bit late reporting on this one, but a couple of weeks ago I attended “The Evolution of the Bookshop”, which entailed the panel of Michael Webster, Corrie Perkin, Jo Case and Chris Flynn, with Sally Heath as the facilitator.

The main item of contention on the agenda was the receivership of the REDgroup, which includes Borders and Angus & Robertson (for those of you living under a rock in recent months) and how online shopping from overseas stores, like Amazon and the Book Depository, may have contributed.

2010 was a good year for books in Australia, actually, as Webster, of RMIT and Nielson BookScan, pointed out in a riveting (no, I’m not kidding!) spreadsheet. There was no denying the large amount of Australian dollars that were spent online on books, what with parity and all that jazz, and the panel urged the audience to buy local throughout the night.

But when Flynn, fiction editor of The Australian Review of Books, compared the prices of all the books he bought over the course of a year at Borders (the devil’s bookstore, according to the panel!), Readings (of which Case is a staff member) and the Book Depository (there was over $1000 difference between online and at a bricks and mortar bookstore), it doesn’t bode well for physical bookstores.

Personally, I’m not in the financial bracket to be supporting local bookstores when I can get the books I want online for half the price at a click of a button.

Earlier this year, I went into Borders at Melbourne Central wanting to purchase Marilyn Monroe’s Fragments, The Great Gatsby and Sloane Crosley’s two books of essays (which you may remember me writing about here). They had none of them in store. An hour later I was at home on Amazon, $70 poorer but immeasurably happier that four brand new books were on their way to me.

Case made the case (haha!) for the experience of shopping at a bookstore, but Flynn countered with the presumption that people who shop online probably already belong to an online community, and thus their experience at an online bookstore is just as valid and important as at a physical one.

As the owner of her own bookshop, Perkin asserted that she just can’t compete with free shipping and the iPhone app Shazam, which allows users to record a piece of music, to which the app generates the full details of and where you can buy it online.

But independent bookstores compete on service, not price. Perkin relayed the example of running out of Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals recipe book and being told that the next shipment wouldn’t be for awhile as it was, and is, a very popular title. She was forced to buy copies of the book on the Book Depository at her own expense, and provide them to her customers who had already committed to the title via pre-sale. Now that is service!

Flynn countered that whether we like it or not, e-readers have hijacked traditional forms of reading, but based on a show of hands, not one person at the Wheeler Centre that night owned or read books on an e-reader.

On a side note, I will be visiting the best second-hand bookstore I’ve ever been to over the weekend, and there’ll be more to come on that next week.

Related: “Who the Bloody Hell Are We?”: The Sentimental Bloke at the Wheeler Centre.

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

All Eyes on Marilyn.

Images via Crunch Gear, TS Bookshop, Lance Wiggs.

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…

Related: In Appreciation of Mick Foley.

The Witching Hour: Halloween/My Birthday at Witches in Britches Cabaret.

All Eyes on Marilyn.

Things Bogans Like.

Another City, Not My Own by Dominick Dunne Review.

Elsewhere: [Bookslut] Genius, Goddess: Reading Theatre.

[Bendigo Book Mark] Homepage.