Arts, Culture & Entertainment News - April 30

Russel Crowe is to play God's good and humble friend Noah in Darren Aronofsky's movie adaptation of the Genesis story. This Biblical epic of one man's divine mission to save the animals and his family from the wrath of God will commence shooting in July in Iceland and New York and is due for release in March 2014. It's not the first cinematic epic for Crowe, of course, who rose to considerable fame following Gladiator and also fared the rough seas in Master and Commander. "I rejoice that Russell Crowe will be by my side on this adventure," said Aronofsky, director of Black Swan, in a statement. "It's his immense talent that helps me to sleep at night. I look forward to being wowed by him every day." 

Film fans will soon be able to buy e-book versions of classics such as Casablanca, Ben-Hur, An American in Paris and North by Northwest for their iPads, Kindles and Nooks, as part of a new digital distribution strategy by Warner Bros., reports Speakeasy

History was one of the topics of conversation at the Adelaide Writer's Week with four authors who delve into historical archives to write fictional novels sitting on a panel with David Marr, who asks them, "Why, as writers, do you raise the dead?". Kate Grenville talks about her book, Sarah Thornhill, and says, "A voice spoke to me and began to dictate this book." The interesting results will be aired on the ABC this week (Wednesday, May 2, at 11am) or can be viewed here

As noted in The Satchel Review, freedom of speech and the spirit of libertarianism is a hot topic as the recommendations of the Convergence Review see daylight, and the twisted thinking of Norwegian killer Anders Behring Brevik, as put in his manifesto, is put before the court. Perhaps untimely then that Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf, which outlines his Nazi ideology, is proposed for re-publication in Bavaria with a critical commentary (even read in a critical light, it could be damaging).

May's Griffith REVIEW, published by Text Publishing, focuses on the question, "What is Australia for?". Edited by Dr Julianne Schultz AM, the blurb reads thus: "Instead of seizing the moment, and forging an exciting new future, public discussion is mired in the past. Politics is no longer the art of the possible. Whingeing has replaced can-do. What is Australia For? will sketch out visionary ideas for the future, uncover neglected stories from the past, and provide an exciting forum for new voices to make their case."

Text Publishing also releases its Classics series this month, comprising "some of the funniest examples of outstanding Australian literature".
What makes a classic? ‘Something that makes you nervous or excited (same thing?) to pick up, well after the initial print run.’— Nicholas Brodie
Also, the 2012 Text Prize for Young Adult and Children's Writing is now open.

I may be the last person on earth to fall in love with Ed Sheeran's single "Lego House", which is getting a lot of airplay (above is the acoustic clip; there is another version starring Harry Potter's Rupert Grint, aka Ron Weasley). But mothers beware. While Sheeran, 21, looks like he would do the washing up after dinner (maybe), some of his album lyrics are on the naughty side. "Lego House" is safe territory (lest someone careless knocks it down).

Relevant magazine has compiled a 2012 New Music Guide, which includes Gungor (performing "Beautiful Things" above at Relevant's HQs). It notes that pop culture can be unpredictable. "Did you really think a boy band from the UK would become a phenomenon? Not even your little sister knew who One Direction was until, like, February." Ha!

Word is that MUTEMATH (who tour "Old Soul" in Australia through May) has caused some chatter about promoting itself as a decidedly un-Christian Christian band. "But they seem to have pulled it off," reports Patton Dodd for Beliefnet. "Last week, they rocked David Letterman (John Mayer called it the Letterman “appearance of the year”) and their fan base is clearly growing. As for me, I’m won over by Mute Math’s openness in talking about the struggles of being Christians who want to make music for more than just their fellow Christians. They haven’t shed the faith; just the faith industry. That distinction makes all the difference."

Newspaper man John Sandeman gives a nod in the direction of The Monthly for Peter Sutton's review of The Tale of Frieda Keysser by John Strehlow: "Sutton contrasts that with the current state of the former missions, where few have any non-local staff who speak their language, and where relationships have become “monetised”. He draws another contrast with urban mythology that have “typecast the missions” where “flat-earth assessments of the mission statements abound”, one being that missionaries extinguished indigenous language, an inversion of the truth. Sutton calls for correctives to these “part-truths and pastiche”: a welcome call from an unexpected corner."

In the late Chuck Colson's presentation for Q New York, he argues that everybody has a worldview; that everyone has a grand story that forms what one believes about oneself, life, the world, and reality. He then challenges us to embrace a worldview that addresses not only individuals, but also God’s redemption of entire systems and cultures. Colson – President Nixon's "hatchet man", who found God and redemption after the Watergate scandal – died 21 April, 2012, aged 80.

Lastly, tune into The Beatles' "Across the Universe" while reading 'What would MLK do? Christians and climate change' at ABC Religion and Ethics, if you're so inclined (inclimed?). 

Girl With a Satchel

Snapshot: Politicians' kids (meet the other Swannies)

Snapshot: Politicians' kids (the other Swannies)
Melanie, Katie and Tom Swanborough
Erin Swann appeared on ABC TV last week talking politics and music, but ensconced in their home town over the weekend were four other "Swannies", their dad in the running for the Scenic Rim mayoral seat. 

"It's easy in politics to be a little bit removed and not so invested in a party or particular person," said Katie, 26, a primary school teacher. "But when it's your father and it's personal, and obviously you have a good understanding of his character and who he is and what he stands for, it's hard to see the personal attacks in the papers. It's a lot harder to take when it's someone related to you and you know the truth of the man."

The Satchel Review - Saturday 28 April, 2012

While barely a blink ago Campbell Newman swept to the power of the State, Queenslanders found themselves sloshing their way through the rain to the polling booths again on Saturday to elect local government representatives.

While it would be silly to begrudge such an occasion in light of the fact that so many of the world's people do not get to elect their own government, and this is the sort of freedom the ANZACs sought to protect, the groans have been load and clear in my local electorate.

Our three local rags (yes, three, in a populous of 6,000!) have been a hive of scribbling activity for vocal residents wanting their opinions heard and politicians their policies. The garbage, rates, roads, public transport, parks and grants are all of utmost importance in the world of local council, but apparently so is the character of our representatives.

Slander, scepticism and slimy campaign tactics have been the order of the day, much to local readers' dismay. One articulate person, by the name of Arne Thor Andersen, put it this way:

The Middle Brow - when public and private spheres collide

"Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense."  
- Sir Winston Churchill, the man who led Britain through its darkest hour.
Last night I sat on a panel of four in aid of Young Professional's Brisbane's debut event. Sitting beside me were 21-year-old federal parliamentarian Wyatt Roy (age shall not define him), Eagle Boys pizza founder Tom Potter (sold in 2007 for upwards of $35 million) and Fresh advertising founder Adam Penberthy (entrepreneur from age 13).

The overarching theme of the night was one of overcoming circumstance and personal limitations to rise to the upper echelons of one's field, profession or ambitions; of perseverance, of taking risks, of shooting for the stars; of dogged work ethic and constant innovation to avoid going stale.

One savvy tweeter in the audience, Alexandra Kerr, passed on some memorable quotes: "Being professional can just be how someone views you... but more importantly how you make them feel afterwards" (Potter); "It takes courage to get out there even in the face of adversity" (Roy); "The only thing holding you back is your ability to imagine" (Potter).  

Culture: Toasterside reflections on body image

Culture: Toasterside reflections on body image
By Emma Plant

It is not commonplace for us to pause momentarily and reflect on “how we are going”? Miranda Kerr-Bloom says she takes time each day to meditate. Joan Rivers says she often takes time to reflect on her reflection.

A great many of us ladies will, for the most part, trade in reflection for the honourable title of task-master. Constantly we are looking to the future, even it is the very near future, even if we are just waiting for the dinkin’ toast to pop.

Yes, we are driven and busy, like a BP fuel truck. Yet, in the midst of our achievements, raising its head constantly around all our pursuits, are our body image hang-ups.

As we age and wise-up (hopefully), we start to understand that there is a very-many-thing that make us beautiful, as the adage so repeatedly goes: ‘Beauty is only skin deep’.

However, for adolescents transitioning into womanhood, now more than ever before, there is an incredible amount of pressure placed on their body image.

Occupation: Kym Rolle, digital community manager, Compassion Australia

Occupation: Kym Rolle, digital community manager
Recently married and currently on her honeymoon, Kym Rolle is the infectiously positive and incessantly productive digital community manager for Compassion Australia, the not-for-profit currently gearing up for its biggest event of the year, Compassion Sunday.

"Any of the Compassion community that's online – people who experience Compassion in the social media spheres (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube) – I help them stay connected," says Kym. "I come up with creative ideas to get them engaged and try to keep up the content flow so they're getting all the goods. We've just given away some tickets for Mercy Me and Michael W Smith concerts; they're both ambassadors for Compassion in America."

Compassion's online arm connects and cross-promotes other charities as well as Compassion's team of advocates, many from the music industry who are encouraged to create content for Compassion to post. The page is full of encouragement ("It's Compassion Fans Friday! We think you rock!" says one post) as well as news, sad and good, of children across the world in Compassion's "family".

"Social media can be used to fight poverty," says Kym, "and Australia is right up there with opportunities to advocate now more than any time in history. Information is at our fingertips and we can share it faster than we can blink. We all have something to offer, we all have a voice and opportunity to tell stories – visual, aural, written – to share online."

The Satchelist: An antagonistic chat with Angelique from Greece

The Satchelist: Angelique from Greece
 "We have a lot of problems," says Angelique, who is Greek-born but living in Lebanon, "it is not like here, which is so calm and so nice." Her carefree, savoir faire demeanour belies a frustration burning inside, one that so many Greeks feel right now, to the point that tales ending in the loss of life are all too frequent. 

One might ask, where is the global support? Have financial policies aimed at curbing Greece's profligate spending habits been too harsh, the people on the street overlooked as sights have been set on curtailing the upper echelons of power? 

As prices have risen, public funding has been cut and unemployment has reached unprecedented highs. Some people have lost hope. There have been 1,750 suicides in the past two years, but many more remain concealed out of family shame or are omitted by the public media (possibly for public health initiatives). It is the great Greek Tragedy of our time.

"It's not the mistake of the people – it's the politicians, the corruption, and the governments," says Angelique in broken English. "The Americans, the Europeans obliged the Greeks to buy arms in the war against Bin Laden and they could not afford to pay for them. This was a big problem. And they boycotted the Olympic Games. Do you remember what the English said? 'Don't go to the [2004 Athens] Olympic Games because it's dangerous'? In my opinion, we have to break away from the European Union."

Genealogy: Josephine Butler (13 April 1828 – 30 December 1906)

Genealogy: Josephine Butler, feminist social reformer

"God and one woman make a majority" - Josephine Butler
A Victorian era feminist, writer, activist and Christian, Josephine Butler suffered public vilification for her main cause: the welfare of prostitutes, both women and children, held in contempt by unjust laws.

The intriguing thing about Josephine Butler is her quite unique philosophy of which Roderick Moore, in his essay for the UK Libertarian Alliance, notes:

It is part of our modern conventional wisdom that the hypocrisy of Victorian times and the cynical moral relativism of today are the only possible attitudes to sex and no alternatives exist. Josephine Butler’s career stands as proof that this is not the case.

Her father, John Grey, was a strong social reformer and campaigner against the slave trade who encouraged his children to take an interest in current affairs. His cousin was Earl Grey, British prime minister between 1830 and 1834.

At the age of 17, Josephine Butler committed herself to Christianity, but her feminist and political awakening didn't come to fruition until she accompanied her husband, George Butler, whom she married in 1952, to Oxford University where he had been appointed Examiner of Schools. She found the culture to be deeply misogynistic, in contrast to her inclusive and politically vibrant upbringing.

After she discovered that a local girl had been sent to goal for infanticide on account of a don from Balliol College who had got her pregnant and abandoned her, she began to sympathise more strongly with the plight of women affected by double standards in morality.

"It is dangerous to arouse a sleeping lion," she was told by the master of the college when she dared question the injustice. With her husband's support, she gave the girl a job as a housemaid when she came out of jail.

The Satchel Review - Saturday 21st April (farewell war in Afghanistan?)

The men and women we sent to war in far-off Afghanistan in 2001 are coming home early, said the Gillard government this week, flagging the withdrawal of 1,550 Australian troops.

Australia's combat and training operations, known as "Operation Slipper", will wrap up by the end of 2013, a year earlier than anticipated, with defence Minister Stephen Smith confirming that some Australian soldiers will remain in Afghanistan to assist in the stabilisation of the country.

But the Australian government has assured that the Afghans will be able to combat their own war against the insurgent Taliban thereafter as well as establishing law and order, building on the foundations for democracy and education that have been laid thus far.

Still, no one's dreaming of an American revisioning of Afghanistan.

Arts, Culture & Entertainment News - April 19

Melbourne musician Gotye has become the first Australian act to top the American Billboard charts in over a decade. "Somebody That I Used to Know", a duet with New Zealand artist Kimbra and written by Wally De Backer, 31, has reached number one in the States as it has in almost 20 other countries. Savage Garden was the last Aussie music act to cut through with "I Knew I Loved You" in 2000. In the UK, "Somebody That I Used to Know" is number one, with Emeli Sande's "Next to Me" in second.

Fellow Melburnian bloke Hamish Blake, 30, took out the Golden Logie egg with his gorgeous fiancee Zoe Foster by his side on Sunday night. Melbourne newspaper The Herald Sun leaked Blake's win to the internet via its iPad app before the official announcement (oops), but the grinning Blake was still genuinely surprised by the win saying he feels like "a bit of an imposter".

Gossling's new EP, Intentional Living, out April 20, is easy-listening for rainy days, and for friends going through break-ups. It's full of melancholy moments juxtaposed with upbeat reflections including "Wild Love" co-written with Dann Hume (Evermore, Lisa Mitchell).

Tupac Shakur rose from the dead to perform with Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg at Coachella music festival with the help of holographic video technology... that is actually quite old! The Wall Street Journal reported that the imaging is based on a 19th century visual effect known as "Pepper’s Ghost". "What's happening in Coachella is virtually the same thing that was happening in 1862," illusion designer Jim Steinmeyer told the WSJ, noting that the effect was first used that year for a London dramatization of Charles Dickens’ novella The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain. How about that? Ironic a bit, isn't it?

Dumbo feather editor Patrick Pittman via Instagram.
The new edition of Dumbo feather is off the printing presses and in the hands of editor Patrick Pittman (in stores April 25). Issue 31 is about how to change the world: building peace in the aftermath of way; a new form of capitalism in the shadow of collapse; fixing education when everybody tells you the systems can't be shifted; creating new modes of sustainable production in industries "they" said can't be changed; and sitting down to a meal made with mindfulness and heart. "Amidst all of that, it’s also about pirate supply stores, cardboard boxes, mechanised," say the team.

This cover of Paper Runway magazine is really very creative, isn't it? Issue five is on its way, but in the meantime issue four ($24.95), pictured, can still be scooped up... perhaps at The Paper Trail event to be held in Byron Bay at the end of May.

We told you about the Brooklyn-based Sketchbook Project a little while ago. Well, now entries for the 2013 project are open. Sketch away, creative friends!

"The mark of the classic is that it keeps talking to us even if it says different things to successive generations. We now read Miles Franklin's extraordinary first novel, written in the late 1890s when she was still a teenager, as one of the early works of feminism. A flamboyant story about Sybylla, a young girl of ferocious – sometimes inexplicably ferocious – determination. And self-pity. And self-aggrandisement laced with neediness. And bravery. Our heroine rails against and resists the perceived limits of female capacity." - Jennifer Byrne, introduction to a new edition of My Brilliant Career, published April 26 by Text Classics ($12.95).
Tavi Gevinson, figuring out feminism and herself via TEDTalks
Tavi Gevinson would like Sybylla. The 15-year-old blogger and online magazine editor has given a divisive TEDTalk about the complications of young womanhood (or, rather, being human), and how that transpires in her online world, called "Still Figuring It Out". How quickly we forget what it is like to be a teen, but how very much teens need good, strong role modelling beyond the screen.

I have a book pack to give away that includes two fragrant new titles: The Perfume Lover by Denyse Beaulieu (with perfume sampler) and Helena Rubinstein: The Woman Who Invented Beauty by Michele Fitoussi, which are both published by HarperCollins this month. In her book, Beaulieu "reveals a subculture where intuition, nuance and creativity come up against the brutal commercialism of fashion", while Rubenstein was a true beauty entrepreneur for her time, establishing her first beauty institute on Collins Street, Melbourne, in 1902. Please email with your mailing details and tell me which scent (by creation or emanating naturally in the world around you) makes you reminisce about a sweet time in your life (this may be published for our enjoyment).  

Stall by The Super Cool
The Finders Keepers markets are to be found at the Royal Exhibition Building, Carlton Gardens, Melbourne, starting Friday and Saturday. The market will feature around 120 artist stalls from Melbourne and all around Australia, including the crew from The Super Cool and Light Reading, as well as music by DJ Brasco, Emily Ulman, Wintercoats, Niko Maersk and Indigo and the Bear. Frankie magazine will be there too, with its new issue and old issues, too.

And lastly, this clip of Sidney Poitier in The Lillies of the Field procured by way of Life On the Cuff (who reviewed the book) put a little swing in my step...

Girl With a Satchel

Video: Madeleine Wiedemann, Bella magazine, Emily's Voice

Video: Madeleine Wiedemann
Madeleine Wiedemann. Photography: Sophie Baker
Madeleine Wiedemann has a powerful voice. Taking in her talk for Emily's Voice at Easterfest, I can't help but be reminded of Emma Stone in The Help. It's not just that their looks are undeniably similar; it's their passion for a cause. 

The production editor for Bella magazine and a spokesperson for Emily's Voice, Wiedemann is one of the most authentic, generous, courageous people we've had the pleasure to meet. She shared her story with Sophie and I from the Bella magazine tent. If you're not a Christian, some parts might be hard to contextualise, but we hope you enjoy our chat nonetheless (and the background music care of the "Chai Tent", too!) after the jump... 

The Media Satchel – warm and fuzzy feelings

Media bulls at the gate. The Financial Review's Capital magazine debuts
Last week we witnessed the resignation of Senator Bob Brown, who instigated the call to investigate media practises in this country, resulting in the Finkelstein Report, which has set in motion a big, messy chain of events taking up many column inches (several trees pulped in the process).

These include this week's revelations about the integrity of journalism schools (see "Degree of doubt for journalism students" and "Uni journalist school passes 'fail' students" both published in The Australian), which could be seen as a special thank-you to the academic community for its other-wordly thoughts on journalistic nobility; The Australian Financial Review's investigation into News Corporation's pay television practises; and a near immeasurable number of stories (pages and pages of copy) devoted to defending Aussie journalism. 

So it's nice to be feeling something warm and fuzzy emanating from the nation's press.

Oddly enough, Bob Brown got the tick of approval from The Australian's editor-at-large Paul Kelly in a front-page column in the weekend edition. He called Brown "irreplacable" and "an authentic, an idealist and an ideologue". He was also placed amongst a table of long-term readers who have departed "on a high" (along with Bob Carr, Peter Beattie and Steve Bracks) and called "a politician of his times" in the paper's editorial, which signed off, "We wish him a happy, fulfilling farewell".

Bob is not the only one who's had a "change of heart". If we don't know what we've got 'til it's gone, then The Australian will most certainly suffer from a lack of Brown's colour on its pages. If Brown were in the habit of buying The Australian, which he may well be now, he would have been chuffed.

Media Study: The unpaid work debate (journalism intern deflation)

Media Study: The unpaid work debate
Going the distance to get a job in journalism: Drew Barrymore plays a 31-year-old newspaper intern in Going the Distance
This past week we have seen the Fair Work Ombudsman launch an investigation into firms exploiting unpaid interns. Now there are suggestions that Australian universities are over-supplying the market with journalism graduates. From within this over-inflated market dichotomy, Erin Stewart writes of her unpaid work experience.

Recently in the US, an unpaid intern for Harper’s Bazaar brought a lawsuit against the publication asking for minimum wage. The intern had worked long hours and that the magazine was guilty of exploiting her. Her legal counsel argued that had the magazine relies on interns to do "crucial" tasks, and that "if the interns weren't doing the work then they would have to hire someone else to do it."

Ross Perlin, author of the book Intern Nation, is particularly critical of the way many industries (including publishing) leverage the time and skills of students in order to create value for themselves – while giving nothing in return. He argues that internships have been slowly replacing paid apprenticeships and cadetships. In some industries, it is normal to have ‘serial interns’, who, despite being well-educated and well into their twenties, are only able to develop their careers by taking on internship after internship.

As someone who has done work experience at a number of publications (though I could hardly be called a ‘serial intern’), I think the lawyers and Perlin have a fair point that needs to be answered.

Essay: Beyond Burma's beautiful first lady of democracy

Essay: Beyond Burma's beautiful first lady

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi"I don't have anything against them personally, the people at the gate. It is just what they represent that I am fighting against. We will just have to teach them the virtues of democracy. Anybody can be taught this. It's just that some people are slow learners." 
- Aung San Suu Kyi, Letter to Daniel: Dispatches from the Heart by Fergal Keane

A light in the attic, the darkest of attics you can imagine – where there has been no free press, no legal system to challenge the state, no political freedom and where dissidents and their associates can disappear overnight into military captivity – Aung San Suu Kyi has become the swan-like figurehead of the democratic movement in Burma (aka Myanmar). 

Her life's mission: to foster a legitimately democratic government thereby breaking free of the country's oppressive totalitarian military regime. It has partly come to pass, with the political reform process beginning with the election of a nominally civilian government (backed by the military) in November 2010. 

In the April 1, 2012, by-elections, she won a parliamentary seat, and her party 43 of the 45 seats in the lower house (parliament consists of more than 600 seats in total). Aung San Suu Kyi is in talks with reformist President Thein Sein and "the architects of political reconciliation" to discuss democratisation, government and the national peace process. 

Like Suu Kyi, the international community is welcoming of reform, but sceptical.  

Australia's foreign minister Bob Carr has announced that Australia will lift travel and financial restrictions on 260 Burmese nationals, including President Sein, civilians and reformists in the government (serving military figures and individuals of human rights concern will remain on the list), while making moves towards "normalised trade ties" and maintaining an arms embargo.

"I think there are prospects for change in Burma and I think it is right for the rest of the world to respond to those changes," said British Prime Minister David Cameron, the first Western head of government to visit the country in decades, while announcing a softening of sanctions.

Occupation: Joy Argow, Easterfest marketing coordinator

Occupation: Joy Argow, Easterfest marketing
Radio host Scotty McDonald and Joy Argow. Photography: James Smith
Situated behind the Vision Radio arena, where artist interviews are held to the delight of fans, the small but productive Easterfest media tent is a whirr of working-bee-like activity. 

This is where the talent comes to be taken to meet the media, where media comes to receive their official lanyards and information packs, and where the festival's own on-site roving journalists come in to file copy on everything from multicultural cuisine ("A Feast for the Senses") to P.O.D. ("First Impressions Aren't Everything"). 

An ever-presence at these headquarters is Joy Argow (aka "Joyful"), the go-to-girl with the smile and quirky hats and upbeat personality who is known by just about everyone and then some (she clocks 1,936 Facebook friends) and is responsible this year for coordinating Easterfest marketing. 

When we touch base, a near-on impossibility as frequent interruptions are the order of the day, she's uploading articles to Facebook, the remains of a no doubt hastily procured pie and salad by her computer's side. 

The Satchel Review - Saturday 14 April

Australian Greens leader Senator Bob Brown has surprised us on many occasions (a global parliament?), but it still came as a shock to Australians this week to hear of his retirement prior to next year's federal election.

On Friday, Brown, 67, who was elected to lead the Greens in 2005 and whose political career spans 30 years, resigned from his post. During his tenure, he has seen the Greens appoint an unprecedented 10 federal parliamentarians. The party has also been a forerunner on the national progressive agenda using its significant sway with Labor to make a stance on contentious issues such as carbon pricing, the mining tax and gay marriage. 

At a time when resources are fuelling the economy, creating a national narrative typified by Dr Suess' The Lorax (in cinemas now!), Brown has given a new generation of Greenies (Earthians?) and left-wing thinkers something tangible to believe in, but has also raised the ire of many a business leader disgruntled by "green tape", thereby giving national politics some grit. Fellow Tasmanian Christine Milne replaces Brown with her sights set on ameliorating the rural sector.

Nuclear totalitarian state North Korea continues to keep the world on its toes, this week placing one finger on the red 'go' button for its missiles launch. It was a resounding no-go, giving new leader Kim Jong-un reason to hang his head in embarrassment. The long-range missile, launched in honour of the 100th year celebration of late leader Kim Il-Sung's birth, disintegrated a minute after launch. Reports suggest nuclear testing will now go underground. 

Syria is also treading a path of trepidation: Thursday's ceasefire announcement, after 13 gruelling months of fighting between the regime of President al-Assad and his army and rebel insurgents pushing for democracy, was met with skepticism both locally and abroad. 

French President Nicholas Sarkozy told a French TV station Friday, "I don't believe Bashar Assad is sincere. I don't believe in the ceasefire, sadly." UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon described the ceasefire as "very fragile" and Syria's ambassador to the UN Bashar Ja'afari reported violations of the truce in the aftermath of its agreement. The UN-Arab league has deployed observers to monitor the progression of peace. 

The Opposition's nanny subsidy plan continued to attract headlines as the ACTU joined the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association in support of financial assistance for in-home care for working parents with provisos, including appropriate regulation of the industry to avoid exploitation of workers. 

Tony Abbott believes the plan would ensure working women would be economic and social assets to the nation; the Gillard Government has described it as welfare for the rich. Meanwhile, the Fair Work Ombudsman has launched an investigation into unpaid internships. Who needs a nanny when you can have an "intern" fetch you the milk? And why pay off your HECS debt when you can intern overseas?

Girl With a Satchel

The Satchelist: Bright stars of Easterfest

The Satchelist: Bright stars of Easterfest
Photography: Sophie Baker
The visual creativity on display at youth music festival Easterfest was best captured by visual arts student Christopher King and Year 12 student Jonathan Rubio from the Redlands who caught our attention with their offer of free hugs.

Girl With a Satchel

Satchelnomics: Mac attacks the Sony walkman

Few of us who grew up in the '80s and early '90s would be unaware that the Sony Walkman was the epitome of technological coolness: inferior brands would be frowned upon on the school bus. It had to be a Sony. "It's a Sony!" was the brand's tagline. Double-A batteries were a necessary accessory.

First released in Japan in 1979, the Walkman was commissioned by Sony president Akio Morita, who wanted to be able to listen to opera music on his overseas flights (presumably getting one's "boom box" out was not appropriate).

While Philips had created the dictaphone, allowing secretaries and journalists to record and transcribe speech, Sony was the first to adapt cassette technology – an innovation on its mono "Pressman" device – for popular consumption. 

Snapshot: Karen Hill Tribe, north-west Thailand

Snapshot: Karen Hill Tribe, north-west Thailand
By Sophie Baker
A culturally, politically and religiously diverse people, the Karen are an ethnic group of South-East Asia who reside in both Myanmar (Burma) and mountainous north-west Thailand, where there remain ancestral Karen villages.

The "Thai-Karen" population today is estimated at about 300,000, accounting for more than half of Thailand's hill tribe population. They have legal status, though not all are Thai citizens. An estimated 140,000 Burmese refugees, mostly Karen people, fleeing violence, forced labour and military rule in Myanmar, many who had their land confiscated, are now also living in Thailand. 

Culture: Dawkins and Pell on Q&A - discourse devoid of dignity?

Culture: Thoughts on Dawkins and Pell

For those not distracted by the Twitter ticker (take home phrase: "ideological cosmos"), last night's Q&A offered some insight into the thinking of two men: Catholic Archbishop George Pell and scientist and atheist/agnostic/non-theist/non-believer Richard Dawkins.

I found the program discombobulating, particularly as the Catholic views held by Pell are conflated with Christianity as a whole and they don't necessarily equate. Protestant thought is quite different to the Catholic rule of thumb, though we both believe in the same God and His son.

But my disappointment reached a crescendo when Katherine Shen dared to ask Dawkins, "As an atheist, do you believe that people should believe in God for emotional support, even if temporarily? After all, research has proven that people who believe in God has a better chance of surviving serious illnesses such as cancer and those that attend Church live longer. Couldn't believing in God be beneficial for our physical well-being, even if God is an illusion?"

The question was immediately dismissed as trivial.

Events: Reflections on Easterfest 2012

Perspective: Reflections on Easterfest 2012
Pockets of quaint houses lining leafy streets all but asleep as the bagpipes strike up the dulcet tones of “Amazing Grace” on a clear and starry night, it’s impossible not to be transfixed by the tune that breaks the heart and soothes the soul from Toowoomba’s Queen’s Park.

As the bagpipe player rests his lungs, Allan Meyer takes to the stage to deliver a sermon to awaken the sleepy Christian with a call to action to seek out ways to deliver God’s grace out in the world. Meyer is big on servanthood beyond church walls, a complement to the festival’s resounding social justice theme.

A vast and curious display of creativity, Easterfest is Australia’s premiere Christian music festival. It attracts some 40,000 people each year who are drawn to the three-day event’s array of acts from all music genres and the opportunity to socialise with people from all walks of life.

Arts, Culture & Entertainment News - April 4

Bill, Cynthia and their friend Chicago artist Nick Cave
New York designer couple Cynthia Rowley and Bill Powers are to receive a 2012 SAIC (School of the Art Institute of Chicago) Legend of Fashion award at the Institute's annual show, dubbed THE WALK, on April 19. While Rowley, an SAIC alumna, oversees her signature label, Powers is a host of Work of Art and co-owns the Half Gallery with Andy Spade and James Frey. Together they parent two girls. "Cynthia and Bill know what they’re doing as a creative couple and a family unit,” their friend Cave told The New York Times. Paper magazine editorial director Mickey Boardman will serve as the evening's emcee and Jerry Saltz, senior art critic for New York magazine, will present the award.

Celebrity painted chairs are making a unique exhibition in The Fracture Gallery at Federation Square, Melbourne, between April 2 and 12, in support of the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Celebrity photographer Alex Fevola has decorated her chair with the images of famous people who have survived breast cancer, including Olivia Newton-John, Raelene Boyle and Kylie Minogue. "My chair is meant to be an eye piece with lots to look at and a source of inspiration for people battling cancer. All the pictures are of women who have survived breast cancer and are now living healthy, happy lives. The words are the word 'Hope' in different languages," she said. For more information, drop by The Porch.
Photo by Joe McNally
Joe McNally has been described as "perhaps the most versatile photojournalist working today", and his work is travelling Australia in a new exhibition. He has shot cover stories for LIFE, Golf Digest, TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, New York Times Magazine and Sports Illustrated, and is currently an ongoing, 23 year contributor to National Geographic. The "Through the Lens" tour, supported by Nikon, will see Joe present seminars, keynote talks and workshops, starting in Sydney on May 7.

Lord Melvyn Bragg is an eloquent fellow with a particular interest in English language literature who has written a book about the King James Bible, the every man's translation that celebrated its 400th anniversary last year. "Just imagine it... suddenly you get this treasure chest," he told an audience at The Sydney Institute, broadcast by the ABC, encouraging us to imagine how liberating this access to the greatest book there ever was would have been. The Book of Books: The Radical Impact of the King James Bible 1611-2011 is a compelling account of the Bible that gave Englishmen the "permission to think" about the abolition of slavery and the empowerment of women in the 19th century, amongst other things, which changed the world profoundly. "Bragg tells the history of the King James with the vigour and pace of a storyteller rather than the dry precision of an academic," said the Independent.

Screening at the Australian Centre for Moving Image, Melbourne, from April 14 to 29 is Sing Your Song, a documentary that examines the art and activism of singer Harry Belafonte ("daylight come and me wan' go home..."). Spurred by his mother’s advice to “never awaken where there isn’t something in your agenda to help set the course for undermining injustice”, Belafonte stood tall against racism alongside Dr Martin Luther King. He has been at the forefront of the anti Apartheid movement, famine relief and youth education with the determination to use culture as an instrument of social change the enduring quest of his life, says ACMI. 

Meanwhile, Australian artist Jimmy Little – the first indigenous Australian to receive mainstream success in musicpassed away on Monday aged 75. His legacy includes the Jimmy Little Foundation, which aims to bring health to indigenous communities. Fellow musician Jimmy Barnes tweeted: "RIP Jimmy Little love to all friends and family."

The Miles Franklin Literary Award finalist's list is out, featuring seven women authors amongst the 13 titles. The award, now worth $42,000, was bequeathed by the will of Australian novelist, Miles Franklin (My Brilliant Career) for a 'published novel or play portraying Australian life in any of its phases'. Kim Scott won last year for That Deadman Dance.

"There are no prodigies in literature,” novelist Tom Robbins says. "Literature requires experience, in a way that mathematics and music do not." The New York Times looks at the phenomenon of self-published kids' authors ("a growing corner of the book world that raises as many questions about parenting as it does about publishing" – the new battle ground for child supremacy?), while elsewhere the Times profiles Charlotte Rogan who has worked on her book, The Lifeboat, on and off, for 10 years... when some of the new child-authors were but tadpoles. Publisher's Weekly reports on the Digital Public Library of America, and finding "a just equilibrium" between democratisation and commercialisation.
A Daniel Mackie design @ The Creative Finder
Design Taxi aims to inspire, promote and empower creative professionals around the world, and now the crew have launched The Creative Finder, a means through which creative professionals can showcase their design, illustration and photography work with others in the international community, by way of networking and seeking commissions.

"I have been inspired by paper and making things from it all my life," says Skye Rogers, the lady behind stationery label Skye's the Limit and new book Paper Bliss: Projects and Musings on Life in the Paper Lane ($45; Harper Collins). "Once I made the decision to dedicate a year to producing a book about my passion I was away! I have loved sharing my ideas about the sometimes tricky process of following my own creative path... so many people dream of doing this that it was a delight to share that journey." There are 29 crafty projects inside the book, along with templates hidden within the book jacket, Skye's tips and creative encouragement, and tear-out decorative papers peppered throughout.

The May issue of House & Garden magazine features Jessica Hanson's 'Sewing essentials' (I love a beautifully styled flat-lay page; check it page 29), as well as stylist Jo Emery's "Beatrix Potter house" (part of Melbourne's Open Garden Scheme), 'Mothers of Reinvention' (mums who have made the home their business hub) and 'Time traveller', which takes us to a 1890s villa in Adelaide owned by Brenda Scott.

Over the weekend I had occasion to run into some of the Girlfriend editorial team who have been working on a One Direction one-shot magazine, which goes on sale today for $9.95 a pop. "With their Australian concerts selling out in under three minutes, the demand for One Direction has reached fever pitch," says editor Sarah Tarca. "Our readers have been telling us they just can’t get enough of Niall, Zayn, Liam, Harry and Louis." The ladies also informed me that there are levels of One Direction fandom, and it's a highly contentious issue as to just how fanish you are. GWAS teen columnist Georgie Carroll confirms this, adding that you are called a "directionator" if you are not a 'proper' fan. "It drives me mad because they're forgetting fandom is all about shared love and acceptance, not about who's the 'best'," she says.

GWAS will be getting down with the kids at Easterfest music festival this weekend. And last, but not least, Cold Chisel's new clip starring a little angel in a pink dress called Tallulah Rose.

Girl With a Satchel

Satchel Living: Forgiving sins before they win

Satchel Living: Forgiving sins before they win
Criminals and Jesus on the cross. Image c/o Nations4Jesus
In a radio interview on Friday, I was asked about my teen rebellion. On reflection, I got thinking that "rebellion" is a relative thing. And that it is also a matter of reaction to outside events as well as the inner struggle for man/woman to know his/herself.

To rebel, there must be something to rebel against, boundaries to cross, and so there must first be a sense of what is the good thing and what is the bad thing; the good path and the crooked path; the superior and the inferior option. Oftentimes the line between them is fuzzy, blurred, whether owing to our observations of others or the cultural status quo. 

As I learnt over lunch with friends recently, one person's Wagyu beef sandwich is another person's vegetarian sin. But we shouldn't get hung up on what's permissible for others in contrast to ourselves: each one of us is accountable first and foremost to God and must wrestle with the self without growing weary by focusing not on the self but the ultimate victor of the faith: Jesus.

Short & Sweet - week beginning April 2

Holly Hobby vintage lunchbox @ Life With a Fussy Eater
The Week, via The Herald Sun, reports that an Australian mother has been banned from her daughter's school after replacing lunches made for the girl by her father. The Family Court heard that the girl was left "upset in the playground" as she attempted to eat two sets of lunches so her mother wouldn't be angry.

The poor girl. As if Little Lunch and Big Lunch with its playground politics isn't distressing enough without having to assuage parental guilt with the excess consumption of boxed up food. "Piggy in the middle" syndrome, represented by this lunch metaphor, brought on by the tummy ache of parental separation, can be troubling, indeed... more so if one parent has lost sight of the plot – what is good and proper conduct – as seems to be the case in this instance. Let's hope the child's little friends are good buddies and that her mum gets some help.  

Let's catch up: After completing the 900km drive yesterday, GWAS has returned to her desk and home, sweet home. Deciding to take "compassionate leave" to attend to Dad, save for a trip to the Hope 103.2 studios in Seven Hills and an engagement 'do by the Quay (Sydney, your Harbour looked splendid – do you know how lucky you are?), it was a short but sweet trip down south.
This week's agenda: Preparing for Easterfest music festival – the schedule is immense! I check into the media section on Friday morning and it's all go-go-go over the weekend. Lunchboxes will need to be packed in advance. I'm also working on five devotionals for the Bible Society and getting through (finally...hopefully) the Finkelstein Report (Christmas is fast approaching!).
The Word for the Week: "Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord, though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18)
Quote for the Week: "A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday." – Alexander Pope word for the week: Conflate, /kuhn-fleyt/, verb (used with object):
To fuse together, to combine or blend (esp. two versions of a text) so as to form a whole.
"The Boston Consulting Group's Culture Boom report, the Finkelstein Inquiry and the Convergence Review provide an opportunity to conflate the new media debate and the direction media in Australia will take over the next decade or so."
Reading: The Culture Boom: How Digital Media Are Invigorating Australia.

Girl With a Satchel