Satchelnomics: Shopping like it's not so hot

As the yachts set sail for Hobart and the Australian cricket team faced India in the First Test at the MCG, crowds energised by Christmas feasts donned FitFlops, Birkenstocks and Crocs for the ultimate test of resilience: the Boxing Day Sales. 

The gift wrap only just starting to settle into bins, thoughts typically turn to bargains and many happy returns (did you keep the receipt?), which seems – in hindsight, maybe – an ungracious thing, to have received and thought, 'I could do better'. Oh, well. I did it, perhaps you did, too?

"How low can you go?", you might have asked, passing store after store heralding the season of red signage that takes place from Boxing Day and extends right through to the new year. But this year the stores were pipped by themselves with discount cards and catalogues appearing in the post long before Christmas Day.

GWAS Notes: Thank you and Merry Christmas!

GWAS Notes: Thank you and Merry Christmas!
A BIG thanks to Emma, Sophie, Georgie, Julia, Margaret, Ellen-Maree and Lucy for their contributions to Girl With a Satchel in 2011; to James Manning of Mediaweek for keeping me in the loop; to glossy editors and assistants for their helpful updates; to Diane and the beautiful GWAS prayer support team; to Spice of Life cafe for the coffee and hospitality; to all those who have stopped by to read something here; and, of course, to God for his gift of Jesus and his never-ending grace and generosity.

GWAS will be back to regular blogging from January 16 with intermittent posts in the meantime.

With love,
Girl With a Satchel

A GWAS Special: Disneyland Christmas Parade

A GWAS Special: Disneyland Christmas 2011

For Tallulah, Angus, Fynn, Eric and Isabella; Connor, Sarah, Olivia, Allie, Ava, Bonnie, Elle and Caleb.

With love,
Aunty Erica

Perspective: Delighting in Disneyland

Perspective: Delighting in Disneyland
Sleeping Beauty's Castle, Disneyland, December 2011
Truth be known, Disneyland is not much fun if you are there without your loved ones or the little ones in your life. Without nieces and nephews to join you on the excursion, taking in the character cavalcade, the wonderful world that Walt Disney made, one is inclined to pontificate on the bugbears that are exorbitant food prices, the Emporium's maze of memorabilia manufactured in China, the paper and plastic waste and crowds and queues and waiting for the loos. 

Boo! Disneyland would be tops – truly the happiest place on earth – without the mundane minutiae of life, you think. To achieve that feat, old Walt, who is immortalised in bronze at the end of Main Street with his friend Mickey Mouse, would have had to do some manufacturing of robot-like, non-pooping nor eating people to walk around his 'toony town, because humankind has the uncanny capacity to rain on one's parade and bring the whole show down.

(Imagine, for a second, being in a toy store as a child running wild... and then waking up to the sound of your parental alarm).

Pop Culture: Royal Tailor, "Hold Me Together", GWAS Song of the Year

Pop Culture: Royal Tailor, "Hold Me Together"

To my mind, the sweetest tune on their airwaves this year, Royal Tailor's "Hold Me Together" speaks straight to the heart. There is nothing more delicious (for a Christian girl) than men of God singing praises to the Lord for his grace.

Profile: Sue Bazzana's beautiful World Vision

Profile: Sue Bazzana's beautiful World Vision

The charity Christmas card stands can be somewhat overwhelming: whom should I support? Make a Wish? Amnesty? Unicef? The Breast Cancer Foundation? One woman with a singular dedication this season is Sue Bazzana of World Vision Australia (WVA).  

For as long as she can remember, Sue has had a passion for people in the developing world and their situations, taking up roles with the Church Missionary Society, which helps young adults explore mission opportunities overseas, and Mission Travel Services before joining World Vision. 

"My current role actually brings together a lot of what I have enjoyed doing through my career," she says. "It mixes media, marketing and strategic thinking with people management and connection with churches and the community. I work with great people and we get to partner with some fantastic churches and Christian organisations which are living out what it means to be followers of Jesus in both a local and global context."

Sue studied Arts at Griffith University and has since gone on to receive a Graduate Diploma in Communication Practicse (QUT), a Graduate Diploma in Christian Studies (Ridley College) and a Masters of Management in Community Management (UTS). She also graduated from the Arrow Leadership Development Program.

The Satchelist: Wanda and Olivia, Nashville, Tennessee

The Satchelist: Wanda and Olivia, Nashville

Amongst the throng of FAO Schwarz shoppers circulating the famed New York toy store, I spotted mother-daughter duo Wanda and Olivia Tomlin, who hail from Nashville, Tennessee, bedecked in black – quite literally from top to toe (when in New York...!). The immaculately groomed ladies were extremely friendly and keen to hear news of Australia. Friend of GWAS Lucy is currently in Nashville penning stories for American Songwriter magazine; perhaps she can fill them in?

Girl With a Satchel

Profile: Kathryn Blowers, high school high achiever

Profile: Kathryn Blowers, high achiever
Kathryn Blowers, HSC high achiever, in Uganda with her brother, Jonathan, for Favor of God, November 2010
When Kathryn Blowers, 17, found out about her HSC results on Saturday December 17, she stared at the computer screen in disbelief before promptly burst into tears.

"It's a lot of pressure building up," she told me, sitting at her desk in the Queensland home she shares with her parents, Phil and Jenny, and older brother, Johnathan. "I went and told Mum and Dad and they burst into tears, and then I called my grandparents and texted all my friends. Pretty much the whole morning was spent on the phone. Then I had a hairdressing appointment."

The Caloundra Christian College graduate had scored an OP*1, putting her amongst the top one per cent of students in the state of Queensland (of 47,203 of them, just 708 achieved an OP1). This she achieved after acing her QCS (Queensland Core Skills test) and topping her subjects: Maths B, Chemistry, Biology, Business, English and Hospitality.

Teen Girl With a Satchel on The Year of the Boy Band

As someone who spends more time watching Disney Channel than SBS, 2011 brought my first (initially accidental) viewing of Eurovision. I was left a changed person. And totally Jedicated. 

Irish twins John and Edward Grimes (aka Jedward) found fame on UK X-Factor in 2009 more for their outrageous personalities than for their singing abilities. They’re so hilarious they somehow managed to win the bid to represent Ireland at the competition, and with their crazy rendition of "Lipstick" they found a multitude of new fans. We Aussies loved them so much we voted them our favourite act of the competition!

But it was September saw the return of the boy band as British cuties One Direction released their first single, "What Makes You Beautiful". I’ve always had a soft spot (and a half) for boy bands, especially when they’re close to my age (the five members of 1D range from 17 to 20 years old), so it was love at first YouTube clip for me. (Marketing goals achieved!)

Faith: A lesson on failure and principle from Lincoln

Faith: A lesson on failure and principle
The Treasury Department, Washington D.C., December 2011
'A righteous man may fall seven times and rise again...' Proverbs 24:16 

Failure is a relative concept: one man's success may be deemed failure in the eyes of the world. I think Jesus knew that more than most. Abraham Lincoln knew it, too. But without hindsight and history, only we can know personally whether we're on the right track – have we stuck to our core values?

As we reflected on the great triumphs of American democracy perched on a grassy hill beside the big, phallic Washington Monument on a chilly December day, our thoughts turned not to nationalism but to God and his ultimate, enduring sovereignty over everything, including political affairs, and the legacy of our Christian history.  

The Satchelist: Cute couple at Disneyland

The Satchelist: Cute couple at Disneyland
There are ads for UGG Australia everywhere in L.A. but this cute couple from Brazil are a walking advertisement for the sheepskin boots. I met them in the Disneyland shop (one of the many shops on campus) and tried to decipher their names but gave up; their accents were strong ("Is that Isabella?") and the crowd gathered for the fireworks was loud. I found Disneyland to be a very couple-y place; "Where is the Pooh Bear to my Honey Pot?", I thought. More on Disneyland to come!

Girl With a Satchel

Snapshot: The Farmer's Market, L.A., Sweet Respite!

Snapshot: The Farmer's Market, L.A.
Sensing our general lack of celebrity enthusiasm and gnawing hunger, our Hollywood tour guide took us to the Farmer's Market for lunch. Now we were talking!

The Market was established in 1934 when 18 farmers got together to sell their fruit, vegetable and flower crops from a dirt parking lot, paying just 50c for their spot. Now, it's an institution housing 85 shops and restaurants – 90 per cent independently owned and operated – which employ more than 700 people. You can watch store proprietors ply their trade from the windows, which gives the whole thing an old-village feel.

Perspective: Hooray for Hollywood? Not so much.

Perspective: Hooray for Hollywood? Not so much.
The Harry Potter trio's names engraved at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, L.A.
As our group cast our eyes over the footprints in the cement in the forecourt of Grauman's Chinese Theatre, some still covered over for a gangster movie featuring Ryan Gosling shot there the night before, we stumbled across the imprints left by the Harry Potter trio of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. There was a singular moment of glee (that and when I spotted George Clooney's name).

Too young to truly appreciate the contributions made to the arts and entertainment by the likes of Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, Jimmy Stewart, Judy Garland, Bette Davis and Elizabeth Taylor – fading stars in the annals of pop culture history for a generation brought up on Harry Potter – our group was largely unimpressed by much of what Hollywood and its surrounds had to offer.

We were the Ultimate Hollywood Party Poopers.

Inside look: The Hollywood Reporter Female Directors Issue

Inside look: The Hollywood Reporter

En route from New York to L.A., I sat beside a film producer. As you do. Her fear of flying quashed by several glasses of wine, she told me she had made her start at age 23 as Ridley Scott's assistant. I didn't want to press on: I imagined she'd be the sort who gets a lot of eager, opportunistic types wanting to push paper her way ('Hey, maybe you can get Ridley to read my stuff or my friend's stuff or my friend of a friend's stuff?!'). It must be dispiriting to be wanted and admired and celebrated for your job and connections and not for who you are. But I did overhear a conversation she had about being on-set and ogling the boys and how fun it is when the shoe is on the other foot.

In an industry that is not altogether kind to women – that sees actresses expire way before their male counterparts, where gutsy roles for older women have been thin on the ground (thin being an all-too-familiar operative world) – there's hope of progress on this front. While Anna Wintour has put Meryl Streep on the cover of her magazine (a 62-year-old woman on Vogue? Hard to believe we're celebrating that in 2011, but there you go), Geena Davis' Institute on Gender in Media is also making educational inroads. Still, at the top end, where decisions and films get made, there's still a great divide.

According to the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter, which takes women directors as its theme, just 13.4% of the Director's Guild members are female. Still, the issue showcases a range of women making significant contributions to the screen, which undoubtedly has repercussions for how women see themselves in the world: their stories, their dreams, their bodies.

Short & Sweet - week beginning December 19

My sister is an expert gift-giver: a simple journal and literary-minded calendar.
Let's catch up: Another year older as I sit here today, I contemplated my reflection in the mirror this morning with my husband, whose beard now sports a few grey hairs! Of course, turning 31 is hardly an event to send you into a plastic-surgery-booking stupor, but in our youth-obsessed society, every passing year for a woman is reason to contemplate one's exterior (not for too long - that's a hazard in itself). Around this age it's said you come to face the face you deserve: if you have been most unkind to your skin (sunbaking and starving yourself thin?) then you'll start to see the results creeping in; if you are wise and eat well and cover up, you'll look all the better for it. No big secret.

Covers: A glance at the new Enhance

Covers: A glance at the new Enhance
Receiving my new copy of quarterly Christian women's magazine Enhance in the post is akin to joining a gorgeous friend for coffee – the sort of friend who you only see every few months or so but with whom conversation picks up right where it left off. 

This issue is full of spiritual nourishment and gentle advice for women – from teens to the more mature – with words penned by regular columnists Joyce Meyer, Lisa Bevere, Jane Evans and Bobbie Houston, as well as features on confidence, thankfulness and parenting teens.

This month's cover girl is Cindy Cruise Ratcliff, worship leader at Lakewood church and an accomplished singer in her own right, who shares her life story and thoughts on using a strong but humble posture to communicate on issues that matter with editor Kasey Mac. 

Satchelnomics: Contemplative consumerism

As the frenzied opening scenes in Jim Carrey's 2000 film The Grinch Who Stole Christmas are being recreated in Westfield shopping malls across the globe, spare a moment for the puppies I spotted at a Broadway shop who are being sold at 20% off. 

Leaving aside the RSPCA plea that pets do not make ideal Christmas presents (particularly not when there's a surprise factor involved), the little puppies represent a consumer climate in which pre-Christmas sales are now the norm (who'd pay full price?) and consumers – not retailers – rule the world.

Once upon a time, you would shop for that which you could afford at places that catered to your budget. Thrift store shopping was less a novelty, more a necessity, for some. But with brand awareness increasing via the media over the past 30 years, coveted brand names and items have found a mass appeal. Signifiers of one's social cache, the brands one wore – perfume, sneakers, makeup, watches – indicated where we saw our place (and worth) in the world.

Arts, Media & Culture Update - December 15

Arts, Media & Culture Update - December 15
Ben Naparstek, editor of The Monthly, appointed editor of Good Weekend. Image: The Monthly
He sent media tongues wagging when he was appointed editor of The Monthly at age 23, and now Ben Naparstek is doing it again with his appointment as editor of Fairfax's Good Weekend. Turning the fortunes of The Monthly well around, with a series of arresting covers, controversial features and notable bylines, the publishing prodigy presided over a 31.2% year-on-year readership increase for The Monthly in the latest Roy Morgan survey, giving the title 122,000 readers a month. 

"It’s been a privilege and delight to steer the Monthly for nearly three years, during which time it’s cemented its position as the country’s leading magazine for high quality and agenda-setting stories," said Naparstek. 

It's a large leap to catering to Good Weekend's following of 1,536,000 weekly readers, who receive their copy in the weekend editions of The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, but Fairfax obviously has confident in Naparstek's expertise.

"In the past couple of years Ben has emerged as one of the finest editing talents in the country," said Fairfax national editor for metro media Garry Linnell. "He has shown a remarkable ability to commission some of Australia's best writers, been unafraid to tackle controversial and important issues and he's passionate about great words and great storytelling. High-quality, long-form journalism has a bright future in the new media world and Ben's appointment underlines our commitment to agenda-setting reporting and writing."

Still with Fairfax, Pat Ingram – formerly of ACP Magazines – has been appointed editorial director of Sunday Life (Fairfax Women's Network). "There is no one else in this industry who better understands what Australian women think and want," Gary Linnell told The Australian. This is the latest in a series of musical chairs movements at the female-oriented newspaper inserted magazine: editor Sarah Oakes is moving to edit new digital site Your Daily Life, with Kate Cox taking up her print post, while popular columnists Mia Freedman (who will be writing for News Limited) and Sarah Wilson have given way to author Marieke Hardy and Sky news presenter and working mum Jacinta Tynan, who recently penned 'Two's Company, three's hard work' for the magazine.

Wilson reflects on her media career and eBooks on her blog: "I was editing Cosmopolitan as the internet came and savaged advertising revenue and readership. I was a TV host when Twitter was finding its feet and experienced firsthand how snark unleashed works. (Prior to that I was in the US, before Twitter hit Australia, and wrote a feature for Good Weekend on these new online hustlers; I thought it was a brief fad.) Now, after 15 years in journalism and 12 years writing columns in various newspapers and magazines, I’m here again, ensconced in the fray witnessing what’s happening to print media – mags, newspapers etc."

Over at ACP, managing director Phil Scott has resigned to be replaced by Matt Stanton. "Now is the right time for me, personally and professionally, to bring to a close my 10 years of full-time involvement in the business and a career in journalism spanning nearly 36 years in total," Scott said in a statement issued by ACP. "There is never a good time for me to leave a business I've been passionate about for so long, but there is now a great group of people to pick up the baton as I make the transition to a lower level of intensity and more time for my family and myself. It's been great fun, and I leave with a sense of satisfaction in my contribution to the business, and very content with my lot." Most recently, Scott presided over negotiations for ACP to buy the publishing rites to an Australian edition of ELLE magazine and also Women's Fitness, which will launch in 2012.  
The FilmLife Project Film Festival – brainchild of The Groundswell Project – launched this week gives emerging filmmakers an opportunity to use creativity to raise awareness about organ and tissue donation in Australia and, in doing so, save lives. The Project provides an opportunity for new and budding filmmakers to interpret this emotionally-charged issue in new and creative ways with a five minute film around ‘asking and knowing your loved ones’ wishes’. 

"It is vitally important that Australian youth – a wealth of creative talent – are given a voice to discuss organ and tissue donation and an opportunity to interpret the theme for FilmLife festival in their own ways," said FilmLife director Karrie Noonan. "I look forward to meeting our next generation of film makers and watching them turn their collective minds to this important issue." The deadline for submissions is February 13, 2012, with the winner awarded a prize package to the value of $10,000.

Paramount Pictures has unveiled a new logo in commemoration of its 100th anniversary in show business. The studio’s first logo, a symbol of a rugged, snow-covered peak from the Wasatch mountain range, was created in 1916. The 100th Anniversary logo was created by Devastudios, Inc.

Screening from December 27 to January 8 at the Australian Centre for Moving Image, Melbourne, is Being Elmo: A Puppeteer's Journey, the story of Kevin Clash. "From humble beginnings to one of the most well known puppeteers of his generation, Clash is the voice, mind and heart of our favourite red, furry Sesame Street buddy. Once a pre-teen Muppet fan and now Executive Producer and key driver of Sesame Street, Clash’s rise is nothing short of inspiring. This tender film charts Clash’s puppetry obsession, his motivations and techniques, unwavering commitment to the field and his eventual meeting with the legends of the craft. Through brilliant archival footage, Being Elmo combines surprisingly moving moments with an enormously entertaining history of the people behind the most well-known street on the planet."

Bill Gates has spoken in Sydney about his philanthropic work and his former competitor Steve Jobs. "I'm part-time involved with Microsoft, including even being in touch this week to give some of my advice but that's not going to change – the foundation requires all of my energy and we feel we're having a great impact."
Swan (left) and her The Circle co-hosts Yumi Stynes, Denise Drysdale (who has since retired) and Gorgi Coghlan.
Logie award winning talent Chrissie Swan has stepped down from The Circle to focus on her radio career and raising her two children. "I’m a mum of two little boys under three and I don’t want to miss a moment of them," said Swan. "The Circle is the most fun I’ve ever had at work and I will miss it like crazy but at this time of my life, with two kids not even old enough for kindergarten, I had to make the tough decision of family time over work. I feel VERY fortunate that I’ve been able to switch from a new love (TV) to an old love (radio) and address the gaping hole in my work/life balance. My new role on the MIX 101.1 breakfast program will give me the flexibility to volunteer at kindy tuckshop, be around for story time at the library and to watch Bananas in Pyjamas in real time – all things I was simply not able to do while working on The Circle." Admirable!

Tina Arena, 44, returns to Young Talent Time
Meanwhile, Sarah Murdoch has relinquished her Australia's Next Top Model hosting duties, original cast member Tina Arena will be a judge and mentor on Ten's new-look Young Talent Time, Ten's new breakfast show is to be called Breakfast, and David Campbell will reportedly be joining Sonia Kruger on Channel Nine's new morning chat show, to replace Mornings With Kerri-Anne, in 2012.
Meryl Streep shot by Annie Leibovitz in Upstate New York, for U.S. Vogue, January 2012
American Vogue has featured Meryl Streep, 62, star of The Iron Lady and the actress who portrayed editor Anna Wintour in The Devil Wears Prada, on its January cover. In the cover feature, 'Force of Nature', penned by Vicki Woods, Streep shares of her desire to correct the gender imbalance in American history, prescient given her latest role portraying Margaret Thatcher, of whom she says "there was a special venom reserved for her, I felt, because she was a woman" and possessed a "superhuman" ability to get things done. Though traditionally a smaller book (i.e. low risk), the cover is significant in that Streep is its oldest ever cover girl and appears on the magazine's cover for the first time in her expansive and impressive career.
In other American Vogue news, the magazine's stable of issues since 1892 is now archived online for access for a nice price. The Australian Women's Weekly digitised backcatalogue is available through the National Library of Australia for free.

Global Creatures, the production company behind Walking With Dinosaurs –The Arena Spectacular, remains at number 1 on BRW’s annual Top 50 Entertainers List – despite earnings more than halving in 2011. The Wiggles came in at number two with earnings of $28.2 million, while Naomi Watts is the country's highest earning actor, coming in at number three on the list.

Occupy Wall Street protestor Chelsea Elliott, 25, by Peter Hapak TIME
Time magazine's person of the year? The Protestor. "Protests have now occurred in countries whose populations total at least 3 billion people, and the word protest has appeared in newspapers and online exponentially more this past year than at any other time in history, " writes Rick Stengel. "For capturing and highlighting a global sense of restless promise, for upending governments and conventional wisdom, for combining the oldest of techniques with the newest of technologies to shine a light on human dignity and, finally, for steering the planet on a more democratic though sometimes more dangerous path for the 21st century, the Protester is TIME's 2011 Person of the Year."

Janet Robinson, 61, leaves her position as CEO of New York Times Co. after 28 years with the company and and seven years in the job. "I am grateful for the opportunity to have worked with so many outstanding people over the years, and I am particularly proud of my role in helping to navigate through one of the most difficult periods in publishing history as we transitioned from traditional print journalism to the digital world," she said. Arthur Sulzberger Jr., the chairman of the Times Company and the publisher of The New York Times, will serve as interim chief executive while the company looks for a new C.E.O. (Source: New York Times)

Glen Boreham, chairman of the Convergence Review
Media ownership laws are in the firing line, reports The Sydney Morning Herald, while The Days of the Digital Divide are coming to a close, reports The Australian. Essentially, an interim report by the Convergence Review says old media laws, developed in the '80s, such as the rule preventing one person from controlling more than two out of three traditional local media in a licence area, are redundant, inefficient and in need of overhaul as they don't reflect media companies' cross-platform operations. 

Instead of cross-media ownership rules, the report – to be finalised and filed in March 2012 – suggests media mergers should be governed by a "public interest" test to be implemented by a new independent regulator, which would also serve as a "platform neutral" one-stop shop for consumer issues. Additionally, Australian content is also a focus point, with overseas content impinging on the competitive efforts of local content providers. Internet industry bodies have been quick to suggest that the $50 billion online industry will be hampered by the report's recommendations, which will deter foreign investment.

The report - which represents a blueprint for regulation in the new media landscape - will recommend local content quotas for ABC and SBS, the lifting of licensing fees for free-to-air networks, and the requirement for newspapers and websites to publish a diversity of voices.  "One thing we heard from the public is that there has been a loss of localism and they want it back," said Committee chairman Glen Boreham.
How many cover-up stuff-ups can a Murdoch make? asks David Leigh of The Guardian. James is starring in his own Nightmare Before Christmas, and I can't help but feel sympathetic towards his pickled position, despite all evidence to the contrary, as he bears all the empire's weight on his young shoulders. A lesson for us all: tell the truth in the first instance and avoid the inevitable shaming when it all comes out.

In the latest Media Underbelly scenario, Victorian police executed a search warrant at The Age newspaper in Melbourne yesterday seeking evidence to support allegations reporters has illegally hacked into an ALP electoral database, but have been prevented from removing computer equipment after a Supreme Court injunction was issued. In defence of his journalists, Fairfax media chief Greg Hywood said, "It would be extremely disappointing if quality journalism, the public interest in the story and the integrity of what we stand for, including protecting our sources at all costs, suffers because powerful individuals didn't like what we revealed." (Source: The Australian)

Popular Sydney Morning Herald economics writer Jessica Irvine attributes her weight loss to a simple numbers game.

Award-winning sports commentator David "Dasher" Fordham has died of prostate cancer at the age of 62, while Molly Meldrum is fighting for his life after a fall at his home, which certainly puts media matters into perspective this Christmas. 

And here's a sneaky peek behind the making of Compassion Australia's new child sponsorship campaign with voice-over by friend of GWAS Kym Rolle...

Girl With a Satchel

The Satchelist: Brad, Salvation Army, New York City

The Satchelist: Brad, Salvation Army, NYC
Peppered on New York City street corners are Salvation Army bell swingers like Brad who appeal to the hearts of passersby to help support their good work and help us to remember what Christmas is all about: not material goods, of course, but charitable acts of kindness, loving thy neighbour and praising God for our blessings in honour of Jesus Christ, through whom we have an eternal hope. Bless you, Brad!

Girl With a Satchel

Essay: A window onto New York

Essay: A window onto New York
Immigrant taxi drivers with MBAs making their way through 24-hour peak traffic; Occupy marchers beating their drums to the tune of "What do we want? Healthcare! When do we want it? Now!"; processions of consumers marching on towards Times Square in pursuit of presents; weather-beaten homeless men and women brandishing cardboard messages, their trolleys of possessions lining the streets; Ernst & Young's red building signage lit up like a Christmas tree; puppies in a store window advertised at 20% off...

When it comes to shining a light on the great dichotomy of the human condition, the uneasy disparity between rich and poor, the aspirations of the Western world and the crippling reality that all is not as it was before, New York is hard to compete with. The city is a vastly different beast to the one I first visited in 1997, the tentacles of consumerism beckoning from the HMV shop floor.

Back then, before the dotcom bubble burst, iTunes forced HMV (and Virgin) to close its once-thriving music stores and Carrie Bradshaw made the illustrious city come to life on our TV screens, New York was bold but cold. This despite it being high summer when I flew in over the city that never sleeps and looked on in awe at its bright lights and took a deep breath in. An attractive woman who passed me – lowly, tubby, sensitive, 16-year-old me – as she and her partner approached their seats at a Broadway showing of Chicago was terribly rude; inhospitable; unkind. And that tainted New York for me.

The Satchelist: William and Melissa, Great Britain

The Satchelist: William and Melissa, Great Britain
Bardardos charity marketing exec Melissa Gledhill was deliberating over the pros and cons of buying herself a Moleskin film journal from the MoMA Store in Soho, New York, when I chimed in: "I am thinking of buying one for my sister." We agreed that it would be a lovely gift to give a film buff though buying for oneself might be a bit over-the-top. So William bought it for her as a gift for her 40th, which they were celebrating that very day. 

It turns out that films are something the couple share a mutual passion for: William is a film librarian and blogger who writes up reviews at "Whether old or new, they're open for discussion – a short review with no spoilers," is his objective. And now Melissa also has somewhere to jot thoughts on their shared cinematic adventures, their mutual hobby is taking on a discourse in print, too.

You can see them playing a part in a cosy holiday rom-com of their own, can you not?

Girl With a Satchel

The Digital Gloss Files - December 13

...with Julia Low

Holiday season recipes are a go-go with Better Homes and Gardens’s latest Must Have Recipes appWith over 500 mouth-watering and decadent recipes taken from their iconic red plaid cookbook and a nifty digital kitchen timer available at all times, this free app surely deserves a cosy spot in your iPhone or iPad. As for sweet treats and sugary delights, there’s also the MyRecipes Daily Indulgence app,’s first mobile “app-venture”*.

Hot off the digital press is, a brand new online community for mums with bubs. Created by former journalist Kate McQuestin, the website “provide[s] mums with a platform to ask questions of other mums and communicate their experiences, ideas and tips for everyday life in a supportive environment,” said McQuestin. “They will also be able to have their say on topical issues via our interactive forum The Natter, save money on great deals via Motherpedia’s Mummy Savers and connect to mum friendly product and services through our directory.” 20% of advertising revenues will also be donated to good causes. We’re feeling warm and fuzzy inside already!

Vogue devotees can now get their hands on 120 years’ worth of Vogue magazines that have just been made available online with a premium price tag. A yearly subscription of $1,575 (yes, you read that figure right!) will give subscribers access to the digital archive that contains 2,800 issues, 100,000 articles, 425,000 images, and 300,000 advertisements; everything in vogue since 1892. However, staying true to Vogue’s air of exclusivity, the digital archive is currently only available to a select few.

How does Vanity Fair fare on the Kindle? According to digital media editor Steve Smith, the magazine deserves much credit for being able to create readable content and layout that are at least legible if not compelling on the tiny 7-inch screen. Nevertheless, magazines on Kindle still fall short compared to the effective and attractive iPad platform.

Adding to Facebook's list of acquisitions is Gowalla, one of the few location-based social networks that pioneered the mobile check-in service. However, the business deal was less about Gowalla technology, and more about the skilled personnel. “In talking with the Gowalla team, we realized that we share many of the same goals: building great products that reach millions of people, making a big impact quickly, and creating new ways for people to connect and share what's going on in their lives,” said Facebook in an e-mailed statement. “While Facebook isn't acquiring the Gowalla service or technology, we're sure that the inspiration behind Gowalla will make its way into Facebook over time.”

Apple has quietly extended Apple TV’s new streaming capabilities to Australia and the UK. With iCloud, Apple TV users are able to access files in their iTunes account, be it from their computer or other devices such as the iPad. Apple has yet to officially announce its international services.

Not one to lag behind the latest technologies and innovations, Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently announced that “by the summer of 2012, the majority of the televisions you see in stores will have Google TV embedded on it.” The question is, will consumers choose Google TV over an iTV, an actual television set designed by Apple that will begin commercial production next year?

Personalised news-reader iPad application Zite launched its minimized version for the iPhone last Friday. The iPhone version has been shrunk down to just two basic fields: one Category section and one larger section that lists stories in a given category. Zite can be downloaded for free at the iTunes App Store.

Speaking of news-readers, Google has at last released its own version called Google Currents, the Android/iOS rival to Flipboard. AOL Tech’s TUAW has a review.

marie claire has launched Shine A Light, an online campaign created to shed light on important issues related to depression and anxiety as well as to lend support to those who suffer from it. Through Shine A Light, marie claire hopes open discussions on the online forum will put an end to the stigma of mental health issues and encourage people to seek help. “From difficulties in getting insurance to stalled career opportunities to being stigmatised as weak, silly or crazy, the troubles facing sufferers of depression extend far beyond their diagnosis. It’s crucial that Australian attitudes towards mental health change,” said Jackie Frank, editor of marie claire. For further support, see also the non-profit movement To Write Love On Her Arms

“Let’s Fly” is the theme of Twitternewly introduced simplified design of their microblogging platform. The new layout has four prominent tabs—Home, Connect, Discover, and Me—as well as enhanced profile pages and embeddable tweets. Together with the new look, Twitter will launch brand pages in order to strengthen relationships with advertisers. "A tweet's only 140 characters," said Chief Revenue Officer Adam Bain. "[Brand page are] like an invitation to learn more. When consumers want to learn more, spend more time or get deeper in terms of engagement, we think they'll end up on the brand page." So far, 21 marketers have been confirmed, including Nike, Subway, and Paramount Pictures.

Yippie! Only 12 sleeps ‘til Christmas!
Download one of these happy holiday season apps to add to the festivities. Our favourites on the list? Christmas Fire, The Flakery, and of course, the one that takes the cake, the Dr. Seuss Camera – the Grinch edition. Adorable!

And, if you’re in need of some prezzie inspiration, here’s MinOnline’s list of Top 5 Books for Magazine Lovers that will fit prettily into someone’s Christmas stocking. Or, even better, give a Gift of Compassion to those in need. After all, it’s not everyday you can buy someone an adorable real-life pig!

Have a very blessed Christmas, everyone!

Julia @ Girl With a Satchel

*App-venture 1. To venture into the mobile application business. 2. An application adventure! 3. I love word play.

Short & Sweet - week beginning December 12

Greetings from the Planet Blue Tour Troupe in L.A!
Let's catch up: How do you cram 12 days' of Christmas, New York, LA, Disneyland, airplane flights and spiritual insights into one succinct passage? You don't! You spread the love over a number of posts for the week. For now, let's just say I've never felt more earnestly enveloped in a Godly love bubble nor seen the world – outside my home town – from this perspective; it's one thing to talk about the onslaught of capitalism, the disparity between rich and poor and the glaring chasm between what we aspire to and what God aspired to for us when he sent us Jesus Christ, but another to see it laid out before you. On a light note, I have never appreciated Australian coffee more: American coffee is crap!
This week's agenda: I have become very attached to my Planet Blue Tour group – parting will be sweet sorrow. Returning to Oz, I shall resume regular blogging on Thursday after gifts and cuddles are issued!
The Word for the Week: "David encouraged himself in the Lord..." (1 Samuel 30:6). When all feels desolate and cold and the world turns its back, there's always hope and comfort to be found in the Lord.
Quote of the Week: "We should be the fragrance of Christ, like a nice Bvlgari for men." Michael, my tour leader at our Sunday morning devotion. word for the week: felonious \fuh-LOH-nee-uhs\, adjective:
1. Wicked; base; villainous.
2. Law. Pertaining to, of the nature of, or involving a felony: as in, felonious homicide; felonious intent. As in, "A typical tour of L.A. includes passing by the site where Tupac got shot, where Lindsay Lohan spends her time under house arrest and generally depressing felonious celebrity miscellany."
Reading: The New Yorker, New York Magazine's end-of-year special, O The Oprah Magazine's January issue and Geoffrey Blainey's A Short History of Christianity (still ploughing through it!) en route from L.A. to Sydney.

Girl With a Satchel

Occupation: Martha Southgate, author, Book Court, Brooklyn

Occupation: Martha Southgate, author, Book Court
Martha Southgate's book The Taste of Salt has sold out in the Brooklyn bookstore she works in part-time, which is the sort of compliment authors cherish. "It's about a woman who's a marine biologist and her relationship to a generation of alcoholism in her family," she says. The book shows us how the mistakes people make affect everyone around them.

Her prose has been called soft and fluid and authentic, which is just how the author herself comes across. As she serves customers in Book Court, Broolyn, which has an impressive assortment of titles for the literary-minded and child at heart, she's quietly happy. Calm and smiling, I get the feeling she has reached contentment. What a lovely place to be.

See more pictures from Book Court after the jump...

The Satchelist: Marissa, 30, New Jersey

The Satchelist: Marissa, 30, New Jersey
I ran into Marissa, 30, scouring the $2 book rack at NYC Strand bookstore ("New York City's legendary home of 18 Miles of new, used and rare books since 1927!") after she interviewed for a role in digital marketing. Fingers crossed she got the job!

Girl With a Satchel

Media: Grazia's take on Australia

Media: A day in the life of Australia

This week Grazia features a selection of beautiful Australian photojournalism.

Who says a White Christmas is better than a hot Aussie summer? More please.


Emma @ Girl With a Satchel

Faith: True Identity - The art of not disappearing

Faith: True Identity - The art of not disappearing

A famous anthropologist was confronted with a startling revelation when he spent some time with the Hopi people, one of the oldest indigenous tribes in America. He noticed the dominance of the rain theme in the art and music of the Hopi people. He sat with a tribal elder keen to know why so many of the people’s songs dealt with rain. The Hopi elder’s response was simply, “Water is so scarce in the land where they live.” The Hopi leader asked the anthropologist, “Is that why so many of your songs are about love?”
- Gila: The life and death of an American River.

The above is a passage from The Art of Not Disappearing, a testimonial book about identity from Christian writer Dr. Vangjel Shore. Dr. Shore delves into heavy concepts in a completely vulnerable, autobiographical manner. The premise of the book looks at stripping away our masked selves to reveal our true, vulnerable, God-given selves.

Shore says: “Children love to play hide and seek. It’s the one childhood game we all remember playing. But think for a moment about how we, as adults, often continue this game throughout our lives… a fear of self disclosure and genuine intimacy causes us to mask our true selves and project an image that either we are comfortable with, or we believe others want to see.”

Film School: Arthur Christmas

Film School: Arthur Christmas
By Emma Plant

I used to wholeheartedly believe in Santa Claus as the supplementary gift giver to my parents. That was until one fateful night when my mother (aka Santa) forgot to eat the biscuits left near the tree, stifled a signature sneeze when she filled my stocking and left magical glitter Santa tracks in the hallway.

My dreams were shattered, or at least fractured. No Santa-believing here, but certainly my love for the Christmas Spirit lives on. Arthur Christmas has all the spirit of any Christmas film, with a lot more gadgets than glitter mixed in. This is the penultimate Christmas film release for Mill-Gen Kids; children who crave both the magic and the technologically functional (brats).

Arthur Christmas addresses the age-old logistical question every little person has on their mind: “How could one fat man in a red suit possibly get to all the kids in the world in one night?”. From Columbia and Aardman studios, the film addresses all the ‘big questions’ of Christmas in a very progressive way.

The Satchelist: Berta, Spain

The Satchelist: Berta, Spain
Berta, 24, is interning at Culture Project, an organisation that fosters collaboration between human rights organisations and artists to impact public dialogue and encourage participation in the most urgent matters of our time (one recent project is Support Women Centre Stage). How timely that we should meet on a New York street.

Girl With a Satchel