Friday, August 29, 2008

Day Twenty Nine - Appreciative August


Ever since I clapped eyes on my mother's 'Australian Women's Weekly' when it was still a weekly and not a monthly and the exploits of Delvene Delaney, Belinda Green and Ita 'At My Deskth' Buttrose ruled the ink, I have loved magazines.

The glossy paper; even glossier advertising; stories and photographs to pour over only to recall years later during trivia competitions and the feeling that you're intimately involved with whatever is designated as "in" at that precise moment. All that enjoyment at the flick of a wrist and yet it's forgotten and discarded the second it is read and consumed.

I first subscribed to the Offical Abba magazine back in 1977, begging my mum to fill in the form, pay by postal order (I handed over my savings in twenty cent pieces) and eagerly wait each month for thirty two pages of joy that were read over and over and over.....

On our 1979 Queensland holiday, we discovered the joys of the small town Book Exchanges, and in between some 10c Gnid Blytons, Trixie Beldons and Peanuts paperbacks, I found MAD magazines. Again, these were read and re-read until the fold in section at the back fell apart into three pieces.

A few months ago, out of a combined need to buy something at the school fundraiser and from sheer nostalgia I bought a pile of MADs from a year seven kid, who was happy with my offer of two bucks for the lot. To my utter disillusionment, I found that the the very same cartoons I'd enjoyed nearly thirty years earlier were still being recycled; even those tiny little ones hidden in the margins. Lazy, unoriginal bastards.

As puberty hit (during our year in Scotland, unfortunately), it was 'Blue Jeans' - a trashy, 'true confession' mag that every girl in my class read, complete with real life photos masquerading as boyfriend and girlfriend comics (Hugh Grant even earned his keep doing some of these at the time). Back at Murray Bridge High School it was Dolly magazine, with all photos of hunks - real, potential or imagined - carefully cut out and posted into my homework diary to assure others of my firm standing in the 'trendy' pecking order. Yeah, like C. Thomas Howell really stood the test of time.

At Uni it was Cleo and Cosmopolitan as well as the 'Buttocks People' strip on the back of OnDit. I'd like to say that I devoured each and every article on 'Ten Ways to Giving Him the Orgasm of his Life' in order to seek a brief respite from my fastidious studies on Major English Texts, Roman Art and Archaeology and The Pre-Scientific World View of History, but really it was to discover, 'Is He the Right Man for You?' and to make sure that any sealed section discoveries were learned by heart in case I happened to stumble across some bloke who insisted on my performing every single one of them.

Luckily, I discovered that blokes, by and large, don't require such attention to detail; they're merely grateful that you're there and seem to like them back. By the time Love Chunks arrived, such mags had no appeal. It was settled: he loved me, I loved him and there was no need to learn the techniques for 'How to Have Him Begging For More' because there were other articles, still not yet published that we needed instead. Ones such as 'How to Make Sure That Laughter During Sex Is Seen As A True Sign Of Desire And Affection And Is Not Intended To Hurt'; or 'Don't Expect Movie Star Sex When You Have a Crepe-paper, Post-Childbirth-Stomach And Just Ate Cabbage For Dinner' or the essential: Give Him The Sign By Shaving Your Legs Every Quarter'. These may finally be published one day, perhaps when Jackie Frank is tired of trying to convince her readers to pay $12,000 for a Chanel handbag on one page and then exhorting us to fight for Venezuelan victims of rape and poverty immediately overleaf.....

These days, my magazine subscriptions are pretty indicative of my current phase in life - suburban, nearly forty and unable to focus on anything beyond 500 words. My subscriptions to the funny movie mag Empire has petered out as it was a bit hard to read about a movie when it was unlikely that Love Chunks and I would ever be able to see one together; as did 'Who' when their celebrity factor began to out-dumb even No Idea and I was regularly mocked by Sapphire (who was then only six and a half) for reading it. "Mum, why do they always have to show famous people in their bathers?"

No, it's delicious for food (mostly for visual porn because I just can't be shagged trying to find Southern Highlands grain fed low-lactose wild camel carcasses, saffron threads or marinated goat lips); marieclaire (for fashion I love to laugh at and can't afford); Choice (so that I could read about what treadmill I should have bought instead of the one I did buy); and Home Beautiful and House & Garden so that I can assure myself that our renovations aren't too cringeworthy and can work myself up into a lather about how the word 'bespoke' is now trendier to home decorators 'minimalist' and 'global fusion' used to be.

And Men's Health; an occasional freebie that I like to read to see how blokes view women. It's quite honestly the funniest thing since MAD magazine circa 1979.

No, Men's Health, women hate it when you leave the loo seat up because it means that we have to put it down again, that's it. It's not because we ".....have a natural instinct to keep clean and protect their (our) womb and any unborn child they (we) might be carrying." We just don't want to have to touch the seat that might have had a few stray sprinkles on it, okay?

And no, MH - these here are NOT the top toys we want you to buy for us. Forget focussing on 'Sex Shop Etiquette', walk away from the red-light district and instead get us:
1) A cleaner
2) A good night's sleep
3) A minimum of an hour's gentle back-scratching or neck massages in front of the telly every night
4) A carton of milk that stays fresh in the fridge door and never runs out; and
5) Chocolate.

Not hard, is it, but if MH thought you knew that, you wouldn't buy their magazine, would you?

Oh and No. No cardigans. No. NO CARDIGANS. Not now, not ever. George Clooney, Jude Law and John Cusack could all be starkers, buffed, oiled and bronzed and waiting at my front door, wanting me, but if they dared wear one of these hideous items they'd be flung away from me further than a drug cheat's winning discuss throw.

And if Love Chunks came home wearing any of these three get ups, I'd laugh so hard that the afore-mentioned much-needed chocolate and milk would snort out of my nose as an instant thickshake smoothie requiring our newly-acquired cleaner to have to get the mop out again as my neck goes out with the strain of regurgitation via sinus so that I need an intense soft tissue massage and then a nice big sleep under the doona.....

And I had to laugh (and secretly feel very, very proud) when Sapphire noted Scarlett Johanssen's quote on the front of marieclaire and said in her best, breathy game-show informercial hostess' voice, "Oh Mum look - Scarlett's Proud Of Her Sexual Energy...."


Lidian said...

I LOVE magazines - new and old! I am also very cheap so I borrow the new(ish) ones from the library and buy up any old ones I see in secondhand stores (which I love for the ads AND the stories, so much fun!)

franzy said...

I like pornography magazines! Wheels, Car, Motor and now Top Gear Australia *moan, shudder* They're sort of like celebrity magazines, because the celebrities are just as obtainable, but every month the celebrities become hotter, sleeker, sexier and more attractive, rather than just fatter, more fertile and less slathered in make-up.

And toilet seats? Men leave them up because women leave them down.

gigglewick said...

Because I'm a leftist nerd, my magazine purchasing tends to reflect this - the only two I buy regularly are The Monthly and Quarterly Essay.

Mr Fix gets National Geographic passed on by my dad, but it's fair to say that this is a very patchy publication these days.

I used to be an avid reader and collector of Rolling Stone and the now defunct Juice in my teen years.

I buy delicious when I can for the same reason as you, but my driving desire for new recipes is now increasingly being met by teh interwebs.

Miles McClagan said...

I haven't bought a magazine since the historic edition of Cosmo that had Sara Marie on the front saying be proud of who you are...but on the back cover, an alternative picture of Britney Spears, lest anyone feel uncomfortable about looking at Sara Marie...

River said...

I gave up buying Women's Weekly, New Idea and Woman's Day when I realised I was ignoring 98% of the magazine and just doing the puzzle pages. What I buy or borrow from the library nowadays is Earth Garden, House and Garden, anything on Permaculture and anything that has house plans in it. I love to fool around with house plans. Couldn't care less what x,y & z are doing, wearing or earning.

Helen said...

I read men's health at work from time to time because the guy who works there during the week leaves his behind. It makes me laugh, although I'm saddened to think that men out there might actually believe that stuff! And while those ensembles are pretty awful, I think if the models had a better hairstyle it might not be as bad!

I don't actually go out and buy magazines often, although whenever I go ona fieldtrip I buy Go! which is a south african travel magazine. I try to limit the number of copies I buy because I get really depressed about all of the places I want to visit!

Otherwise I love flipping through the home and garden type magazines, and looking at the pictures, but I've never actually bought one for myself.

(after all of that I'll admit the truth. I read The Economist. And I like it.)

eleanor bloom said...

Ha! You should be a proud mum indeed!

I think I buy about one women's/fashion mag a year and then tend to leave it unread and collecting dust on the coffee table shelf.

I used to read boyfriends'/friends' copies of MH for the amusement factor also. Your top 5 are PERFECT. (A bf once bought me one of those toys. It went back in its box and then I neatly put it away in the garbage. When he asked about it I said, "Oh, I put it away in a box somewhere." You know, I think those hideous, brightly coloured contraptions just exist to make men's penises appear that bit more attractive...)

Kath Lockett said...

Lidian, you must have a collection of magazines a bit out of the ordinary though, if those ads you put on your blog are anything to go by! (How is that poor little emulsion up the nose boy faring, by the way?)

Franzy - excellent point. It is indeed pornography and not a bad price at around $7.95 and with the chance of scoring a tiny foil pouch of youth serum or a perfumed wrist card.

Gigglewick - I used to read the Monthly whenever my ex-boss, Bulldog remembered (rarely) to bring it back from home (despite work paying for it). Buy the Quarterly essay occasionally - let me know when you get something in, won't you?

Miles - Bum Dance or Cheeto Pants. Pretty scary stuff.

River - well done you. I need to be like that, and borrow instead of buy, especially when they're worthless to me after I've read 'em.

Helen - best of luck with your field work. Surely you deserve a bit of glossy trash when not looking at frogs, or monkeys or geckos?

Eleanor - too right they're the real top five. Trouble is, we can't have a monthly mag that says that each and every month,can we.

Anonymous said...

"the 'Buttocks People' strip on the back of OnDit"

Did you ever read the "SF•AM" strip? That was me