Happily, I enjoy a life outside work so robust, so bustling that I have no need for a publication that advises me on weekend activities. When the laptop screen goes down and the Saturday sun comes up, you might find me napping, watching sports on TV, or napping while watching sports on TV. I have a gal Friday on retainer to keep the tabloids abreast of my social exploits.

Alas, not everybody has the energy to maintain this manic pace. And so it is that publications like weekend worm their way into our mailboxes to pick up the slack for the socially and organizationally inert. A travel/shelter/food hybrid, the mag presents readers with a veritable smorgasbord of options for their idle hours, ranging from wax museums to home pedicures to--gasp!--Canada.

That, actually, may be the main problem with weekend: its everything-including-the-kitchen-sink-and-cobbler-recipes-too approach doesn't make a lot of sense, given the number of titles that cover the same topics in greater detail. Lumping them together under a "stuff you can do on the weekend, if you're so inclined" umbrella seems nothing more than the lazy way out, as if the publisher had a bunch of magazine concepts but couldn't choose between them.

Make no mistake, this is a title for the pathologically unimaginative. The "northern exposure" piece on Canadian travel assumes utter ignorance on the reader's part of our tuque-wearing neighbor to the north. The features section can be neatly encapsulated as "a cabin here, a mansion there"... except for the 32,000th story in the last three months that proclaims rosé to be 2006's hottest wine. Was there a here-are-the-features-you're-going-to-write party for magazine editors that I missed, or does rosé just have the best publicist in the history of fluids?

Tonally, I can't think of a way that weekend could be any less offensive. Every word, every picture, every caption seemingly goes out of its way to soothe. A page-long prelude to the features section begins with "September reminds us that nothing lasts forever" and ends with "Think big, make plans, live." Oooh, happy-lovey affirmation with a seasonal subcontext! The lesson, as always: words can be quite dangerous in the wrong writer's hands.

I'll spare you another rant about the peculiarity of placing all headlines in lower cases, but I can't let weekend off the hook for its pun-happy ways. The mag slaps "hay fever" (get it?) onto a story about vacation farms, "plane crazy" (get it? get it?) onto a listing of aerospace museums and "foam sweet foam" (getitgetitgetitgetit?) onto a feature about breweries. As a profession, as a civilized society, let's agree to bury the headline pun 20 feet deep in the backyard. We're better than that.

(Pet peeve interlude: The next time any of you use "His Aim Is True"-- a play on an early album title -- as a headline for a story about Elvis Costello, I will track you down and pull your hair.)

I'll give weekend credit for its organizational moxie, however. Quite sensibly, the mag is divided into three main sections: "weekend at home," "weekend away" and "features"; the subdivisions within each section are similarly well thought-out. It also excels on the design front, with the cleanest and comeliest layout this side of Real Simple. Its image choices may be a touch bland for my tastes -- can somebody please illustrate a morning-themed item with something other than a fetching model sipping a drink as a worked-over newspaper and jam-slathered English muffin sit idly in the foreground? -- but they nonetheless lend appropriate visual support to the stories at hand.

To me, the weakest compliment in the world is "nice," as in "nice column!" or "nice pants!" (I rarely hear either one, except on the days I wear shorts and onlookers mistake my circus-freakishly hairy legs for mohair dungarees.) "Nice" is the default adjective for "I can't be bothered to form an actual opinion, but I also don't see the point in offending anybody." Well, weekend is a very nice magazine. Whether there exists a pressing reason for its existence is another question entirely

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