As an enormously sophisticated consumer of media, right down to the glut of "Beavis and Butt-Head" episodes on my DVR, I'm not often baited by a single cover line into a magazine purchase. And yet there I was at the local magazine shack earlier this morning, happily plopping down $3.99 to avail myself of Glamour's "12 Little Ways to Be a Much Better Person."

After that unfortunate incident with the neighbor's kitten, the unsecured well and the exposed electrical wiring, I knew I could use the help. Besides, is there a better source of cheap humor than a women's mag in the throes of swimsuit delirium? I anticipated a quick sprint through the mag and a even quicker expulsion of words, then an afternoon spent tending to urgent matters of personal hygiene.

Damn you, Glamour, for frustrating my evil designs. Belying its idjit rep (at least among those who, like me, have little interest in "throw[ing] a fun, low-stress shower"), the venerable title has evolved into the worthiest of commute and/or beach companions for thinking gal and daintily fingernailed dimwit alike. This column o' mine can't work if people in magazineland approach tired genres with restraint and intellect; I resent Glamour horribly for giving me so little to work with.

Whereas its competitors confine themselves to Hilton-dumb fashion and entertainment nuggets, Glamour offers considerably more than froth and frolic. It examines money spending/saving habits ("Am I Normal?"), unearths unlikely sources of wisdom (horrormeister Wes Craven on the "Seven Kick-Ass Women Who Made [Him] a Better Man") and presents a range of healthy take-out options (go with the Szechuan shrimp instead of the General Tso's chicken... boy, didn't I learn that lesson the hard way).

Certainly the mag indulges in its share of chick-mag silliness. Headlines like "Grow Out Your Hair Gorgeously" and "Boyfriend Exorcisms" abound, while the fashion spreads run the gamut from "beautiful people on beach" to "beautiful people in city setting." I don't love the mag's rhetorical questions ("Could This Butt Be Yours?" No, not unless we temporarily suspend the laws of physics). And, of course, the title gamely offers a horoscope, which suggests that I'll have "loads of make-a-difference energy" in June. For those keeping track at home, June will also find me finding "magic" in my next manicure and getting turned on by "smart conversation."

These women's-mag staples notwithstanding, Glamour strives to present workable advice (especially on the relationship and workplace fronts) and non-alarmist information (about skin cancer, depression and other potential personal scourges). In fact, the issue contains a handful of stories--actual stories, featuring actual reportage and gerunds and all that fun Economist stuff--that I'd recommend without hesitation to readers of all stripes, regardless of their plumbing.

Best of the lot is "The War's Deadliest Day for U.S. Women," which relates the story of 14 marines firebombed on their way to work last June in Iraq. With a keen eye for detail and sparing use of language, writer Susan Dominus paints a portrait both richly evocative and moving. I tend to think awards and other peer recognition are only for the professionally needy (he says, proudly eyeing the "nice job!" sticker affixed by his editor onto a recent epistle), but this one oughta be submitted for some kind of Magazine People Group of America consideration.

As for those aforementioned little ways to be a better person, they actually let me down somewhat. I already tip generously, make eye contact and vote in local elections (really, ladies, I'm quite the catch). Alas, just as I'm a better person in Glamour's estimation than anybody might have reasonably expected, so too is the magazine a smarter cookie than it lets on. If you aren't already on the bandwagon, you should be.

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