How do you solve a problem like Maria? Yank Julie Andrews out of the nunnery and into a dysfunctional Austrian family. Apparently, there's nothing a group sing-along can't cure. How do you solve a problem with Grand magazine? Slap Julie Andrews on the cover. Yes, she of "Sound of Music" and "Victor/Victoria" fame is a bona fide talent. But if you've lived seven decades, you deserve better than a sloppy-looking cover, with its star garbed in a velour tracksuit.

Grand, the official magazine of grandparents, apparently doubles as their official feel-good mascot. I'm sure that being a grandparent is wonderful and life-affirming. Which is why it merits more than the use of "wow!" in the editor's letter--a term that should be reserved for key moments, like your first orgasm or a paycheck you can live on.

Let's face it: Everyone thinks her grandchild is gorgeous. My mother thought her first grandson was a genius because he remembered what he had for lunch at 16 months. The experience, while universal, is also deeply personal. So the department Grand Central--with the headline "Let me show you a picture of my grandchild!"--could send the most devoted grandparent into sugar shock. On the plus side, Grand is willing to address the totality of the experience--from health to dating to grief counseling.

In fact, according to the pub's ads, today's 60 are yesterday's 40s. I hope that means today's 40s are yesterday's 20s, although I doubt I could be that idealistic again. It just takes too much energy. I was, however, struck by the "Bingles," or Baby Boomer Singles, who appear in the "Sex and the Single Grand" section.

The article says that within the next two or three decades, Bingles will be living to an "unprecedented length." Like 100. Can you imagine? You meet at 60 and, according to Grand, may have another 40 years together. So now, rather than accept those extra few inches, you have to stay in shape, just in case you end up on the dating scene at 70. Frankly, if you live to be 100, sex is the least of your worries. The fact that you may not have worked in 30+ years and need real income is a little more pressing than finding your G-spot.

So what is Grand's ultimate goal? And who are these grandparents? In the Style section, dubbed "Forever Cool," the candidates look suspiciously young, early 40somethings, for grandparent fodder. Did they give birth in high school? If you have to tell your grandmother to nix the stringy hair and motorcycle T, your problems go way beyond dress. Yes, times have changed, but some tried-and-trues remain. Here's one: act and dress age-appropriate.

This is where Grand gets a bit too cloying. (How many times can you use the word "grandbaby" on a page?) In many ways, it functions like a woman's magazine for grandparents. Which means that it doles out occasionally dopey suggestions amid very real concerns, such as hospice care. Interwoven between lighter moments--gift suggestions like Dancing Barbie, though I'm waiting for Chemist Barbie--it supplies profiles of super-cheerful grandparents, such as Julie Andrews, Tim Reid and Dr. Wayne Dyer, who gets a special sidebar plug for his latest book, Being in Balance.

That I could forgive. The layout, which is on life-support, I can't. It cries out for a redesign, a surprise, since Roger Black, the design guru to major mags, is listed in the masthead. If you compare Grand to AARP, which targets the same demo, you see the difference a smartly designed pub can make.

What I like best, however, are the ads: A fit white-haired woman, standing in a yoga position, has ostensibly kicked a little kid to the ground, since the blond towhead is pointing at her and shrieking. You go girl! Thanks to omega-3 supplements, you can show the grandbabies who's boss.

But hands down, the best part of Grand is the ad that touts CyroCell, which markets placental stem-cell preservation to protect against potential disease: "Safeguard the laugher and love to come by preserving your grandchild's stem cells." That's right, if you really love your grandchildren, forget the inflato Superman suit or the SparkArt easel. Give them the gift that keeps on giving: life.

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