Girl Talk: Meet Mr Satchel

Girl Talk: Meet Mr Satchel!

A wee while ago, the crew from Totally Wild set up camp in our backyard to film Husband (aka James/Jimmy/Jim/Hot Stuff) and his crew doing some tricks on their bikes. I'm enormously proud of him, not because he was on TV but because he's just lovely, so thought I would post the clip. If you can't blow your husband's trumpet (um, no innuendo intended!) on your own blog, then where can you? Hang in there after the kayak guy for the motocross. And don't try this at home, kids. Broom! Grrr.

P.S. How cool is it that Totally Wild no longer has that totally annoying theme song?
P.P.S. Do you think I should be worried about pretty Miss Pip? Joking. Sort of.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Talk: Judgeing girls - a diary of the Girlfriend Model Search

Glossy Talk: Judgeing girls – a diary of the Girlfriend Model Search

There are certain career moments that come to define the work we'll do in the future or clarify our purposes. The below account, which was written three years before Sarah Murdoch was faced with the excruciating and widely publicised Next Top Model final nightmare, represents one such moment in my media career and, more particularly, the mission of Girl With a Satchel.

This diary entry was written after I emceed the 2007 Girlfriend Model Search Sydney Roadshow in Sydney, in the absence of then editor Sarah Oakes, who wasn't able to attend and may have made – probably would have made – a wiser and more noble attempt to rectify the situation, which took place on July 14, 2007 (looking back on one's diary entries is always cringe-worthy, no?)...

Glossy Talk: Harper's BAZAAR's Next Top Cover Model Amanda Ware

Glossy Talk: Harper's BAZAAR's Next Top Cover Girl &amp

This morning Harper's BAZAAR Australia editor Edwina McCann appeared on the Today show to discuss the dilemma faced by the magazine after the live show's debacle (dubbed 'Australia's Next Top Muddle'). 

As you likely know, host Sarah Murdoch announced Sydney girl Kelsey Martinovich as the winner, when in fact is was Gold Coast girl Amanda Wear (seen on the cover, right). Murdoch – by all accounts, a gorgeous, eloquent and compassionate woman – was beside herself.

"I don't know what to say right now. I'm feeling a bit sick about this," said Murdoch, a look of good-grief disbelief on her face. "I'm so sorry, oh my God, I don't know what to say. This is a complete accident, I'm so sorry... It was fed to me wrong. This is what happens when you have live TV folks, this is insane, insane, insane."

I truly feel for her. And I'm so happy Harper's BAZAAR is planning to run two November covers (out in 10 days' time).

McCann, also calm and gracious under pressure, said: "It is a monumental screw up... We had a cover ready to go to print last night, we've had to swap our printing presses so another magazine prints before us, complicated issues; we were abused all night... I think essentially what happened is the network [Foxtel] did want Amanda to win; they were keen for Amanda to win. They kept the voting lines open for a long time, I think, in the hope that she would get over the line. I'm told it came down to three votes... And they're audited. So they called it for Kelsey....

"We had a cover girl. I would have left it as it was... We've decided we're going to split the cover because immediately we were pretty much abused online for perhaps not printing the Kelsey cover... From a sales perspective, as a fashion person, Amanda is taller and she can do runway but Kelsey is the better cover girl... I've got to explain it to production people, to the printers, to my managing editor and to my readers... what am I going to do with the inside of the magazine? It's meant to be an eight-page story. I can't print that twice!"

No one could envy McCann's position, which provides a moral and editorial dilemma of very public proportions, but it does give her magazine the opportunity to position itself as a do-gooder for girls, an egalitarian, bi-partisan voice in a world that too quickly shuns women for the most superficial of reasons. 

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Monday Media Study

Monday Media Study: Grazia's Bingle Bungle & Groggate

This morning I received the kind of news that puts Lara Bingle's bad-hair-day Grazia bungle and the virtual Groggate brawl into perspective (hence, no 'Short & Sweet'), though rigmarole by comparison, both issues are worthy of Monday Media Study status. 

Photoshopping fictional events, the right to blogging anonymity, professional parameters versus personal expression, justifiable outing versus unnecessary exploitation, grinding axes for glorification versus temporary lapses in editorial judgement... heck, let's throw the hackneyed old 'bloggers v journalists' angle in there, too. Where do we start?

Being caught up in the mediasphere, particularly in the media-on-media vortex and the relentless manufacturing of celebrity gossip, often enables more detestable aspects of humanity to come to the fore, leaving good conscience, manners and empathy at the door.

'Make war, not love' appears to be the prevailing mantra, unless a considerable sum of money or status enhancement are guaranteed. Even good intentions are usurped by cynicism, negativity and an entrenched set of values where hits and sales, controversy and criticism, scoops and exclusives outweigh compassion, honesty and peace.

It's a blog-eat-blog, glossip-eat-glossip world and keeping up with Twitter has long since replaced the Jones'. Hits = happiness. Hashtags = community. Alienation is the price you pay for being offline. Popularity is just one Facebook/blog update away! And, of course, any publicity is good publicity (unless your entire career is based on how you look, in which case a bad hair day is more detrimental for you than most, or you're a public servant trying to keep your anonymous political blog on the downlow).

This desensitisation or misappropriation of values, where people's feelings are dispensable and democracy outweighs decency, filters through the media and into other online media and real-world practise where one's moral and professional filters can become clouded by the prevailing opinion du jour (it's happened here before) or the necessity to deliver more, more, more. 

This makes for a rather disconcerting disconnect. Graciousness, respect and good works – social lubricants them all – are too often lost in the wake of immediacy, newsworthiness and timeliness; profits, page views and gossipy tabloidisation. As if the public don't distrust journalists enough.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Talk: Jamie Durie's outdoorsy new magazine

Glossy Talk: Jamie Durie's outdoorsy new magazine (in store Monday)

Last night Pacific Magazines hosted the launch party for The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie, the debut issue of which goes on sale Monday. After a sneaky glimpse at the mag, I can tell you it's a well executed package with lots of white space, some cool fonts and a decidedly green thumb (a full review to come).

GWAS' roving Sydney reporter Carla Efstratiou attended the party at the Tilbury Hotel and used the opportunity to speak with editor Katrina O'Brien, (delightfully pregnant) editor-in-chief Wendy Moore and Durie himself (she was a busy girl!). Here's what they had to say:

Carla: From editing Girlfriend to The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie... does this editorial appointment feel like coming full circle to you?
Katrina O'Brien: Possibly: I've grown up, I suppose. It's been a while since I edited Girlfriend but I loved that time when I was editing Girlfriend. The Outdoor Room is actually my life at the moment; that's where I spend most of my time, in the outdoors. I've got two children, and I love being outside; so it was a natural progression.

Carla: You're also the editor of Home Beautiful. How is The Outdoor Room different from that magazine?
Wendy Moore: Well, it's a younger audience, I think. As a magazine, it's a lot more casual than Home Beautiful. The Home Beautiful woman is more established in her lifestyle and her general style.
Carla: Is The Outdoor Room a compliment to Home Beautiful?
Wendy: Yeah, it is. Jamie and I were already doing pages with him in [Home Beautiful] and we knew that there was no magazine and there was a gap, but we just waited until the time was right.
Carla: Before Home Beautiful you edited Burke's Backyard magazine. How do you think Don will feel about this magazine?
Wendy: I think he'd be pretty proud. Because there's so much that Jamie's learnt from him and there's so much that I've learnt from Don, and I think we've picked up a lot of our philosophies through working with him.
Carla: How do you juggle the dual roles?
Wendy: The beauty of Home Beautiful – and I've been there almost five years now – is I have a really stable team; they're fantastic. They're really established and know what they're doing so I can afford to get a bit hands-off.

Carla: You have books, TV shows, a range of merchandise, numerous design awards and Logie to your name: and now a magazine! Did Pacific approach you with the proposition? Or was it something you've had in mind and needed the right publisher for?
Jamie Durie: I actually approached Pacific. This has been a dream of mine for five, six years and it wasn't until I started working with Pacific that I realised this is the right team. Wendy Moore got behind me and Nick Chan, and it's just been an amazing journey.
Carla: And what's your involvement with the magazine?
Jamie: I'm editorial director, so, believe me, I'm very involved. Every word, every photo, every layout goes through my computer.
Carla: Is it important that your environmental values are reflected in the magazine?
Jamie: Paramount. I don't want to ram it down people's throats, but I certainly want to make sure there's an element of environmental responsibility running through all our stories.
Carla: And lastly, Oprah. Will you be seeing her when she comes to Sydney?
Jamie: I'm really over the moon that she's decided to come to Australia and I think it's going to be amazing for Australia to be on Oprah's stage. And she'll do a great job of showing the very best of Australia.

The Outdoor Room with Jamie Durie ($7.95) spring edition goes on sale Monday and will be published quarterly.

See also: Jamie Durie gets his own magazine

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Girl Talk: When careers (and stuff) get in the way of baby making - Rachel Zoe's new project

Girl Talk: When careers (and stuff) get in the way of baby making – Rachel Zoe's new project

Rachel Zoe has been contemplating motherhood a lot lately, if the current season of her show, The Rachel Zoe Project, and Jezebel's commentary on said show are any indication. But it's not really joy she's experiencing – she's terrified, anxious and unsure of herself. Her career? Clothes? Styling celebrities? She's all over it. Babies? Put her in a (designer) strait-jacket.

"It's the only thing in my life I'm afraid of," she confesses to her makeup artist BFF Joey, who reminds her that clothes, bags and shoes can't love her back. "It's one of those things where I'm like, okay, next year, next year, next year...but I'm 38 years old, like, I need to do it. And I know that. It's not having the baby that stresses me out. "

The issue is highly sensitive and manifold for Rachel, as it is for most women, including Yours Truly. There's the matter of her weight, her body's ability to carry a baby to full term, and, hello, making space for a cot in a house where clothes are allocated their own room. But besides that, there's her career.

"Time just moves really, really fast and I think when you're very into your career it's like a decade flies by and all of a sudden you're 10 years older and then, all of a sudden, it's, like, imminent... I think it's very easy in the fashion industry to become all-consumed; your whole career just moves forward and your personal life is just out the window. It's a choice I made without actually knowing I was making that choice."

To me, Rachel exemplifies the Gen-X stereotype of the woman with the great career and great wardrobe portrayed by Sex and the City who wakes up one day and thinks, "I need a new project – a baby!" (as if that's not going to be part of the Sex and the City 3 storyline), but finds her biological clock is inconveniently out of sinc with her life plan. (I said stereotype: obviously life is not so simplistic).

"I've worked really hard for 15 years of my life to, like, get to a certain place in my career and I think that I am just totally scared," Zoe tells her infinitely patient husband Rodger. "I know myself and I do everything, like, 500 per cent, and when I'm a mum that's all I'm going to want to do... I can't slow down from work, just so you understand. I have a lot of people counting on me and a lot of money at stake, just so you know... I just don't want to be in denial about that."

Of course, that's a bunch of crapola to rational Rodger, who desperately wants a baby.

"If you choose that this child – God willing we have one – and this child is your everything, well, great, then it's your everything," he reasons. "And then the other stuff; we're not going to be as hugely successful, but you know what, who cares? As long as we're happy... There's no contest; there's no competition. It's your own internal I-don't-know-what that drives you, but, you know what, it's kind of silly, at the end of the day."

Is it silly this career stuff? Lately I've been thinking that maybe it is... if it impinges on your personal life (and health) to the extent that it creates barriers between you and your partner; and between your heart's desires and what the world deems to be markers of success.

Many, many women have children and careers and cope just fine. I admire their resilience. Others have careers and would love children but no (willing) partners with whom to reproduce. My heart goes out to them. And still more have careers and want children but can't (radio presenter and blogger Emily Jade O'Keefe has been endearingly open on this front). Others just make really smart, rational decisions.

Speaking to Mia Freedman (who has three children; two while she was working in magazines) in an intimate video chat recently, former magazine editor and TV host Lisa Wilkinson, also the mother of three children, said something that really resonated with me about jumping off the corporate ladder to invest time into family rearing:

"I just thought, I've worked hard for a long time, I've saved up; if I can't be smart enough to say, It's okay to take some time out and to be a mum and to professionally jump off a cliff and not know that there's a parachute that's going to help me through wherever I land. It was a very liberating thing to just go, you know what, I'm going to put time into my personal life, put time into being a mum, put time into my family; whatever happens beyond here, I have had the best ride."

Mr and Mrs Satchel have been contemplating baby-making for a while now, too, under the watchful gaze of well-meaning friends and family who would like to see me up the duff and Mr Satchel brandishing a baby in his arms. In fact, most people in our social circle have newborns or are pregnant. Our best friends have a beautiful new baby girl. We adore her. It almost pains me to see Mr Satchel nursing her, such is his longing for one of his own. He and Rodger could relate.

Thankfully, most people are sensitive enough to realise that we have just emerged (still emerging!) from a two-year battle with an eating disorder that has put things back for us. It has been a major impediment, mentally, physically and emotionally. I feel terribly guilty about that. We've also been investing heavily into getting our marriage to a healthy place as I've gained back my weight, while also trying to get our finances ship-shape (no secret that my blogging and his ministry work alone do not pay the bills).

That's going well. Do we want a baby? Yes. Am I pregnant? No. Do we have time on our side? A little. I'm just shy of 30. Comfortingly, though a very unique proposition itself, in 2004 ACP Magazines' Deborah Thomas spoke to the ABC about having her first child aged 46:

"I was very career-obsessed. And I would obsess about things that probably there was no need to obsess about. But now it... I just have this much clearer view of what life is and what life should be, and the balance to life. Watching [baby Oscar] every day, the joy that he brings into my life, going in there in the morning, and he smiles and his face lights up, it's just extraordinary... Having a baby late in life was not something that I planned. I'm very, very glad it happened, and it's worked out very well for me, so far. And I can't believe I nearly missed out on this – it's the best thing that's ever happened in my life. I'm so glad I've done it."

High-profile career, husband and a baby? She is incredibly blessed. I have faith that we might be one day, too.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Talk: Anthology magazine living with substance & style

Glossy Talk: Anthology magazine living with substance & style

Over the weekend, my mother pulled out a giant bag of clothes I had stashed in a cupboard at her place two years ago with the intention to sell them at the markets... but never did. Rummaging through the bag, I felt like my younger self exploring a dress-up box: I was utterly delighted. "Hello, old friends!"

It's not often a magazine can replicate that feeling of old and new, but that's exactly how I feel about Anthology magazine. The delicious serendipity of stumbling across this new print publication simply must be shared, so I pass it on from Some Kind of Style to you.

The premiere Anthology, a quarterly "shelter" (as they say in the States; "interior" here) and lifestyle magazine, is out next month, taking off where Domino left. It covers home decor, travel, design, entertaining and culture. Anh-Minh Le, a contributor to The San Francisco Chronicle, is the editor-in-chief, and author/illustrator Mag Mateo Ilasco is the creative director.

Take a look at the promotional video below, then flip through curated pages and pre-order the first issue @ Anthology online.

Print Is Not Dead from Anthology Magazine on Vimeo.

And now Margaret Urlich's dreamy "Boy In The Moon" is playing on the radio. How apt. Delighted again. Thank you, God, for these little blessings.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Glossy Talk: Poh for cover (putting it out there)

Glossy Talk: Poh for cover (putting it out there)

Sometimes if you say your wishes out loud, or blog them, they come true. So here's what I'm egging for today (oh, yes, bring on the food puns): Poh Ling Yeow for an Aussie glossy cover.

Let's take a look at some of Poh's glossy credentials, shall we?

- thanks to the omnipotence of MasterChef, she is an instantly recognisable face;
- she has a nationally broadcast television show with her name in the title (watch Poh's Kitchen on iView) and an iPhone app and Facebook page;
- she has a deal with ABCBooks/HarperCollins to publish two cook books;
- she has a Bachelor of Design from the University of South Australia and has exhibited her illustrations and paintings (brainy, creative, crafty girls are all the rage right now – see Frankie magazine's success);
- she is 37 years old but has the skin of a baby (no need for Photoshop!);
- she is also utterly delightful (my dad concurs);
- she is the ideal blend of food, fashion, passion and pretty (just like Nigella and Sophie!);
- plus, after seeing her on last night's episode I resolved today to wear something red and bright and fun. That's influence!

So, enough of Jen (all the Jens!), Gisele and Gaga for a second – give me some Poh, please. That's some pocket money I'd be happy to part with.

See also:
All the foodie ladies (put a napkin ring on it)
Book Shelf Christmas Special Foodie Titles
Foodie Fun with Jamie
Food for fantasy

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Dude With a Duffle's Lad Mag Adventures (part #1)

After Ralph kicked the bucket last year, the lad-mag scene has been looking dire (thank you, Internets). Or has it? "Men read more magazines than they ever have, it's just that there are more magazines out there now and there's a lot more variety," FHM editor Guy Mosel recently told Mediaweek, "...the bigger picture of the market is that it's pretty robust and pretty healthy." Ha! Pretty robust and healthy, just like Jennifer Hawkins on the mag's October 150th issue cover, right?

Now, GWAS is not particularly inclined towards endorsing
magazines that sell themselves on provoking wet dreams and sexualising women to within an inch of their hot pink bikinis. This is dangerous Christian-feminist-blogger territory. But the mags do lend themselves to some interesting commentary about the current thinkings of men. Was it Tony Abbott who recently commented that "it's quite easy for blokes to lose their way"? Ah, yes. Who is leading them astray?

As such, Chris Steele (aka 'Dude with a Duffle') has taken it upon himself to keep a watch on these blokey journals; to rumble with these "bastions of class and journalistic integrity"; to peruse the type of publication that cons Julia Gillard's (not quite) step-daughter into posing for a cut-price $1.95 edition. Alas, not all men's mags are created equal. Your Zoos are not your GQs. So let's peek inside the boys' locker room. Take it away, Dude...

I’m nervously shuffling my weight from foot to foot in a Paddington newsagent; clutching Zoo, Ralph and FHM to my chest (upside down and reversed to avoid prying eyes, of course). The cashier looks like Brisbane’s most devout Hindu, and I think about explaining to her that “I don’t usually read these” and “I’m only reviewing them”. I haven’t even bought the bloody things yet and already a film of sleaze is blurring my vision. Who knows what untold horror lies inside these pages?

Part One: Zoo Weekly (September 6, 2010)
Lad mag status: biggest Aussie seller with 100,530 sales a week; 462,000 readers
"A Day in the Life of Lucy’s Boobs"
I’ll admit the title of this segment piqued my interest. I was intrigued to learn how a day perched on a female’s chest would pan out, but as I read on my interest disintegrated quicker than Heidi Montag’s nose. Less a ‘day in the life’, more a ‘meathead asking questions’, some of the gems they put to Lucy included:
- “Is the reason you’re in such great shape because it’s a massive effort to sit up in bed every morning with all that chest weight holding you down?
- “A good rack is the perfect serving dish. What’s the weirdest thing that has been eaten off your boobs?”
- “Is it fair that women can wear Wonder Bras, which are completely false advertising, but guys can’t wear a cucumber down their pants?”
Aside from the interviewer’s questionable knowledge of the Trade Practices Act and advertising law, what type of an oxygen thief puts a cucumber down their pants, let alone thinks about doing so, let alone asks a chick her opinion on it? If it’s the readers of this magazine, then both the very fabric of our society and your next tumbler of Hendricks is in trouble.

"50 Best Fights of 2010"
Allowing myself a well earned break from staring at Lucy’s self christened ‘chumbawumbas’, it was with pleasure I turned over to Zoo’s compendium of the 50 best fights this year. If I wasn’t already considering illegal activity after pages 1-10, this article could surely do the trick. Scant regard was paid to the sheer mind numbing entries such as #15 BP v The Ocean, #48 Calvin Harris v Portaloo and #16 The Taliban v Everyone. Sadly, the entirety of the article was not this flippant. Other entries ranged from the offensive (#21 Akermanis v ‘The Gays’) to the insensitive (#50 Greek Protesters v Riot Police) and the head-shakingly, face-palmingly ignorant (#47 The French v Burqas).

My patience wearing thin, I reluctantly turned to the next page. The headline was “$100 Challenge: Bobbing for Cherries in Piss.” That was about a week ago, and I’ve had no desire to pick up Zoo again anytime since.

Yours truly,

Pop Talk: Prodigal sons (and daughters)

Pop Talk: Prodigal sons (and daughters)

In the movie Everybody's Fine starring Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore, Robert De Niro plays a widower trying to connect with his four adult children.

A retired phone company worker, he embarks on a cross-country trip to see his artist son in New York, his advertising executive daughter in Chicago, his conductor son on tour with an orchestra in Denver and his dancer daughter in Vegas.

The premise of the film is that even though everyone says they're fine, living up to their father's imagined expectations of their lives, they're not.

(Spoiler!) Beckinsale's character is going through a divorce, Barrymore is a lesbian showgirl with a baby, his conductor son actually plays percussion and his artist son, on whom he'd pegged perhaps the greatest expectations, has died of a drug overdose.

The tagline for the film is "Frank wanted the holidays to be picture perfect. What he got was family." While his late wife had been privy to their children's problems, Frank lived in the Delusional Daddy Bubble, none the wiser to his children's struggles. And the bubble burst.

Much like it did for Bert Newton. But more on that in a minute...

Yesterday, after dutifully calling my dad for Father's Day, I attended the Brisbane Writer's Festival and listened to authors Anna Goldsworthy (Piano Lessons), Larissa Behrendt (Home and Legacy), Nadifa Mohamed (Black Mamba Boy) and Sheila Fitzpatrick (My Father's Daughter) talk about how their fathers have informed and shaped their work.

Goldsworthy talked briefly about her father, Peter, "cannibalising" her piano lessons in order to research his book, Maestro, Behrendt talked of her bitterness towards her father for his infidelity, Fitzpatrick said she railed against her father (the journalist and radical historian Brain Fitzpatrick) and Mohamed spoke of her father's reluctance to express emotion over his challenging upbringing in Somalia (challenging is an understatement).

All high achievers in their chosen fields (Goldsworthy is also a concert pianist and mathematician), Behrendt a lawyer, Fitzpatrick a professor of History, and Mohamed a passionate human rights advocate at just 29 years old, their fathers were the central characters in their books as well as their lives; one of the driving factors for their success.

The themes common to all of them was the idealising of fathers, and the striving to please them, and the disillusionment that occurs when we reach an age when we determine that they are not the perfect creatures we once thought they were. Also canvassed was the idea of the separation of the public and private self: who dad was at home and who he was in public life.

I spent a lot of time thinking about Bert and Matthew Newton last week, and what their relationship might be like – but more particularly the disconnect between the public and private lives of the two men and in their own relationship.

As I watched Bert's bewildered face on A Current Affair, his wife Patti (the matriarch of Australian television) talking about her deeply troubled son with an acute pain and sorrow, while also defending her husband's status as a beloved Australian TV icon, I couldn't help but feel a deep sadness.

"I think it's worthwhile saying, Tracy, that the things that have unfolded in very recent times – the great majority of those things – we learnt about through the media," Bert told Tracy Grimshaw. "We should have seen the signposts... We knew that there was a major difference in attitude between Matthew and [daughter] Lauren, but now that it's come to this, we still love him, we support him – and want him to get well – but in this situation there are no winners. No winners at all."

I talked to my psychologist last week about the issue: she suggested that if we can't communicate what we feel in words, our natural response is to express those feelings physically. Of course, there are positive ways to channel this pent-up emotion, like going for a run or creating something or, erm, blogging.

But sometimes we fall into negative behavioural patterns thinking them the best way to relieve the anger, the anxiety, the hurt. These patterns of self-expression can become habitual if not nipped in the bud early on. As the whole nation now knows, Matthew has had psychological issues since his teens.

"He's always had a bit of a problem with temper, even as a kid, but I do think it's accelerated and I think probably his lifestyle in Sydney and getting in with all the wrong people," said Patti. "He's never really accepted the fact that he had an illness. I remember he was about 16, maybe younger 14, we went to see a psychologist, I think it was, and this psychologist said to Matthew, 'You make sure you never do drugs or alcohol because you have the personality that it will take over your life and that was at 14."

As J.K. Rowling said in her brilliant Harvard address back in 2008, there comes a time when we have to stop blaming our parents: "There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you."

The women on the Brisbane Writer's Festival typified this idea, of taking the best parts of their fathers (and mothers) and leaving behind the negative bits to forge themselves a better life. As a friend reminded me yesterday, we don't have to take on the faults of our fathers; we can use them to inform more positive life choices.

The Bible tells us that parents are to love their children through discipline. "Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline drives it far from him," says the Proverb 22: 15. Having lacked a certain discipline in my teens, I can see too well how the lack of it in one's upbringing can impinge on adult development, particularly if the role modelling at home has not been entirely positive.

It's no secret that Bert has battled with his own demons. While it is most certainly true that Matthew is responsible for his reprehensible actions, for Bert to distance himself from his son at this time grieves me. It smacks of Delusional Daddy Syndrome. You can't take the good and not the bad – children are a package deal.

When the whole world conspires to turn against you (and we can be in no doubt that Matthew has curtailed his career for the forseeable future in addition to losing the love of his life), a child (even a man-child) should be able to turn to his parents for both direction and unconditional love, not rejection.

In the parable of The Prodigal Son, Jesus tells the story of a man who has two sons: one gets his inheritance, leaves home and plunders his fortune. Destitute and with nowhere to turn, he returns to his father who receives him back compassion and a festive celebration: "Let's have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."

The man's other son is none too pleased with this state of affairs, as he has obeyed his father's orders all along with no celebration. "My son," the father said, "you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found."

This Bible passage demonstrates God's mercy. The son returned with a heavy heart and downcast eye; afraid and full of repent, he was rewarded with his father's absolute forgiveness. There was no anger, no pity despite his pitiable condition and the fact he'd brought the trouble on himself; just compassion and love and blessings.

In a world that prefers an eye for an eye, the idea that a person could be forgiven for their sins is almost insulting. But as we saw when Judas denied he knew Jesus, only harm can come from betraying those we claim to love.

So, Bert, I would suggest that you take ownership of your son and his actions and the part you may have played in shaping the man who he is today and love him until he comes back to life and starts to make more positive choices for his future. To really know your son and to embrace his imperfections and listen to him would be the best thing for all involved. Let your private self – the guy all Aussies love – match the public self.

Do you want your legacy to be 60 years on TV or a son you lost for good?

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

P.S. This is not to discount the suffering experienced by Rachael Taylor. My sister went to uni with Rachael and, by all accounts, she's a lovely girl – very ambitious, having moved from Tasmania to Sydney in late teens to pursue her dreams, which she is realising with gusto. This is an extremely unfortunate setback – both privately and professionally – and I hope she gains strength from her experience, as did the beautiful Brooke Satchwell, who was perhaps not compensated or acknowledged fairly enough by our judicial system.

Girl Talk: The Twitterati of Political Journalism

Girl Talk: The Twitterati of Political Journalism

We may not yet have a government, the independents' votes still hanging in the balance, but one tally has a clear winner. Liz Burke (or @lizEburke) charts the rise of Australia's female political journalist superstars.

From the spill to post-poll political limbo, there's one group of smart and savvy leaders who've come out on top this election. They're our breaking news BFFs, the frontbenchers in the house of Twitter, the revered reporters telling it like it is from the Press Gallery, straight to your iPhone. Or, in less verbose terms, girl crush alert! Here's our pick of the influential bunch for your social media cabinet...

Annabel Crabb
ABC Online
Twitter followers: 21,141
Arguably the most prominent journalistic political personality of the election (not to mention my ultimate career crush) Annabel offers quality commentary via ABC Online's The Drum. She has also imparted her wisdom and entertaining opinion on The Gruen Nation panel and was responsible for putting the "party" back into politics with her pioneering of daily tweeting games, like politically-themed Haikus and pictures and suggestions for #ausvotes themed cakes. Already a well respected and established reporter and political commentator, her prominence during the election pushed Crabb's followers to more than 20,000, narrowly pushing Mia Freedman off her longstanding "most followed Australian journalist" perch.

Leigh Sales
ABC Lateline
Twitter followers: 13,153
That other prominent ranga of Federal Election 2010, Lateline anchor Leigh Sales (@leighsales/aka The Well-readhead) earned her 13,000+ followers through both her finger-on-the-pulse reporting and her hilarious puns, sharp wit and observations both in and out of the news arena. One of my favourite of her recent tweets: "I'm in a state of jaffstasy - that's the feeling you get upon discovering you have a previously forgotten packet of jaffas in your handbag." Deconstructing life and politics one tweet at a time.

Latika Bourke
Twitter followers: 8,454
The proclaimed Twitter pioneer first registered on the radars of those of us not tuned into Radio 2UE back in June. It was a simpler time back then, we knew who our prime minister would be next week. The then up-and-coming Fairfax radio reporter was shot to unlikely fame when Kevin Rudd, of all people, put on his Carson Kressley hat and dissed hers. But it was a couple of weeks later, when Latika was named the 2010 Walkley Young Australian Journalist of the Year, that it was certain it wouldn’t be the last we’d be seeing of the rising star. Although the news of her achievement was somewhat overshadowed by a certain Rudd-rolling incident that began the night of the Walkleys, it was the Labor leadership spill and following election campaign that really got the ball rolling for Latika. With iPad always in hand, Ms Bourke, under her Twitter moniker @latikambourke was the one to deliver. Championing the official election hash tag, #ausvotes, on receiving her Walkley, Latika said “Twitter has changed the way politics is reported and I’m glad I was at the forefront of that when it started.”

Samantha Maiden
The Australian
Twitter followers: 5,324
Another #spill star, breaking the news that Julia Gillard had taken the prime ministerial post on that June morning with her now historical tweet: "It's Julia no ballot." Her followers have not been let down since with the online political editor regularly delivering insights via her Despatch Box blog and print column.

Honourable mentions:
Michelle Grattan (of course): 6,819 followers
Caroline Overington: 4,496 followers
Lanai Vasek: 2,026 followers
Please add your own (here)!

Discounting these lovely ladies of the Twitterati, probably the most idolised Aussie journos around these days would be Kerry O’Brien and Laurie Oakes, and, let’s face it, they're not exactly girl-crush material.

Other stories by Liz: Chick lit writers tell critics to hush @ ABC; Federal Election Party Time!

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel

Book Shelf: Peter FitzSimons' A Simpler Time

Last night, as dad phoned through this review transcript (just like in the old days!), I got thinking about the father-daughter bond. For those of us with good fathers, even the best of husbands or boyfriends can't compare.

Peter FitzSimons' new book is essentially a tribute to the childhood fostered by two very excellent parents. I was pleased to be able to send dad a copy, as he's such a fan of FitzSimons' Sydney Morning Herald 'The Fitz Files' column (dad is not yet a Facebook friend... still working on emails). Chuffed, he was.

Here my dad outlines his thoughts on A
Simpler Time – A memoir of love, laughter, loss and billycarts (HarperCollins; $35) with added GWAS trivia bits.

Family values, six siblings, a changing society, honour and responsibility form the basics of FitzSimons' simple, almost idyllic, childhood, but there is much more to this memoir.

From his older brother arriving home from Sydney University with long hair and an earring during the Vietnam War (shock!), to the time his parents took in a petty criminal (who stole from them), despite his atheism, FitzSimons' early life is marked by anecdotes pointing to his parents' Christian beliefs and work ethic.

FitzSimons has basically given us his family history, from northern Ireland to Peats Ridge, the far northern suburb of Sydney where he grew up. There are the things most boys coming of age in the 50s, 60s and 70s could relate to – fire cracker night, camping in caves, activities behind school toilet blocks, visits to the beach (his aunt had a holiday house at Newport Beach).

Those looking for FitzSimons the rugby player, biographer, journalist, husband or father will be disappointed, as the memoir concentrates solely on his formative years. But if a childhood dictates future prosperity, there's sense in crediting his parents for laying solid foundations for his success.

FitzSimons' has an easy way with words and a familiar vernacular. I’ll give this one 7 out of 10, and happy Father’s Day to all you dads out there.

P.S. GWAS trivia – GWAS was presented with her year 12 prizes by none other than Peter FitzSimons.

WIN! Score your dad a copy of A Simpler Time - A memoir of love, laughter, loss and billycarts by emailing with your mailing address and telling me about a simpler time in your life in 100 words or less (your answer may be published!). There are five copies up for grabs. Or else you can borrow it from my dad.

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel & Dad

GWAS: Lessons in The Elements of Style #4

GWAS: Lessons in The Elements of Style #4 (Sentence Structure)

Have you ever read a really beautiful piece of prose and wept? While there are definite exceptions, and the medium dictates the message, words hastily bashed out online often lack lyricism, poetry and depth of humanity (there are exceptions, of course). As such, today's lesson from The Elements of Style spoke to my sensitive side. E. M. Forster's economic lyricism is something to be treasured and emulated.

Lesson: Avoid a succession of loose sentences.

This rule refers especially to loose sentences of a particular type: those consisting of two clauses, the second introduced by a conjunction or relative. A writer may err by making sentences too compact and periodic. An occasional loose sentence prevents the style from becoming too formal and gives the reader a certain relief. Consequently, loose sentences are common in easy, unstudied writing. The danger is that there may be too many of them.

An unskilled writer will sometimes construct a whole paragraph of sentences of this kind, using as connectives and, but, and, less frequently, who, which, when, where, and while, these last in nonrestrictive sentences.

The third concert of the subscription series was given last evening, and a large audience was in attendance. Mr. Edward Appleton was the soloist, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra furnished the instrumental music. The former showed himself to be an artist of the first rank, while the latter proved itself fully deserving of its high reputation. The interest aroused by the series has been very gratifying to the Committee, and it is planned to give a similar series annually hereafter. The fourth concert will be given on Tuesday, May 10, when an equally attractive program will be presented.

Apart from its triteness and emptiness, the paragraph above is bad because of the structure of its sentences, with their mechanical symmetry and singsong. Compares these sentences from the chapter "What I Believe" in E. M. Forster's Two Cheers for Democracy:

I believe in aristocracy, though – if that is the right word, and if a democrat may use it. Not an aristocracy of power, based upon rank and influence, but an aristocracy of the sensitive, the considerate and the plucky. Its members are to be found in all nations and classes, and all through the ages, and there is a secret understanding between them when they meet. They represent the true human tradition, the one permanent victory of our queer race over cruelty and chaos. Thousands of them perish in obscurity, a few are great names. They are sensitive for others as well as for themselves, they are considerate without being fussy, their pluck is not swankiness but the power to endure, and they can take a joke.*

A writer who has written a series of loose sentences should recast enough of them to remove the monotony, replacing them with simple sentences, sentences of two clauses joined by a semicolon, by periodic sentences of two clauses, or sentences (loose or periodic) of three clauses – whichever best represent the real relations of the thought.

*Excerpt from "What I Believe" in Two Cheers for Democracy, copyright 1939 and renewed 1967 by E. M. Forster, reprinted by permission of Harcourt, Inc. Also, by permission of The Provost and Scholars of King's College, Cambridge, and The Society of Authors as the literary representatives of the E. M. Forster Estate.

Edited extract from The Elements of Style (Illustrated), Strunk, White, Kalman, $19.95, Penguin. If the copy ain't pretty, I simply don't like it. So the kindly folk at Penguin have allowed me to extract some very important lessons on matters of mastering the English language, as much for my own amusement as a collective refresher course. Yippee!

See also:
Lessons in The Elements of Style #1 (Omit needless words)
Lessons in The Elements of Style #2 (Quotations)
Lessons in The Elements of Style #3 (Like, OMG, you guys!)

Yours truly,
Girl With a Satchel