Uncle Larry's Magazine Rack Funtime Family Mailbag

The rules for the second semi-regular edition of Uncle Larry's Magazine Rack Funtime Family Mailbag: You write, I decide. Some questions come verbatim from your mouths/fingers, some come from the Mag Rack blog thing (which I really oughta check in on occasionally), others are a Larry-tweaked composite of 20 variations on the same theme. Without further ado...

You're kind of an asshole, aren't you?

Don't be silly. I'm one of the nicest guys you'll ever meet. Ask anyone.

I like you, Larry. I like you very much.

See? Told you so.

How do the Magazine Rack magazines get chosen?

I can't speak for the other people who write the column, but basically I go into a book or magazine store and choose whatever captures my eye. I try to vary things around topically, as much for your benefit as my own. I'm running out of titles to review, though, so expect a lot of tech/computer and obscure-fashion mags in the weeks ahead.

What do you think of "Ugly Betty"? An inside look into life working at a magazine company... you must have something to say about it?

I've never worked full-time at a consumer mag, so I lack much in the way of "insider" perspective. That said, the few times I've seen the show, I found it charming. That's right -- charming. Now, excuse me while I go see a doctor to confirm that I still have a penis.

Strange, isn't it, how people think they know you because they read your column every week. Is that a bit creepy?

It kind of goes with the territory. I'm fine with it, assuming that nobody starts sending me soiled undergarments or severed digits.

I enjoy your opinionated take on magazines both prominent and obscure. I'd enjoy it even more if somewhere in the piece (or perhaps in a slug at the end) you gave us some basic information about the publication: publisher, frequency, staff highlights (editor in chief, creative director, etc.).

Does anybody else want this? We'd probably have to tweak the design format a little bit to accommodate the information, and frankly I'm not wild about the idea of reproducing a bunch of mastheads. But I'll bow to your wishes, sweet readers. Let me know.

What is your favorite book, movie, magazine, TV show, etc.?

Book: Billy Bathgate. Movie: Depending on when you catch me, either "This Is Spinal Tap" or "Raiders of the Lost Ark." Magazine: Runner's World has lapped -- get it?! get it?! - Sports Illustrated since I started taking my daily trots around the park a bit more seriously. TV show: I've been statutorily banned from bloviating any further about "The Wire," so I'll just plug the enormously clever "The Knights of Prosperity." Other favorites, in case you're inclined to send over graft: Cheap beer: Yuengling. Footwear: clogs. Element: boron. Remember, I can be bought.

Will you review [name of magazine here]?

I'm still getting this question a lot, so let me answer it once anew: Sure! I love magazines! Wheeeee! Send me an email and I'll send you my address. In-person deliveries are highly, highly discouraged.

I, too, have noticed pedantic ponderings making their way into all forms of media. Maybe it's the fault of bloggers? So many words, so many authors... very little differentiating one from another?

This one was sent in response to Tuesday's romp through HoBo, but it cuts to a question that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. In the rare instances that I leave the house for a non-family- or -sports-related endeavor (nice hyphenation there, no?), I'm often asked, "Do you like blogs?" I'm never really sure how to answer that, other than by noting that I'm quite the fan of freedom of expression, which blogs foster better than any other medium in history.

Nobody ever asks, "Do you like magazines?" or "Do you like television?" My answer to "Do you like blogs?," then, is "yeah, some of them." I'm not even sure what qualifies as a blog anymore; my favorite morning check-in is The Soxaholix, a highly literate comic strip with links. And I'm a Yankee fan.

That was a pretty humorless tangent. Sorry.

At my local Wal-Mart (in rural Utah), there are approximately a googol-squared number of cowboy magazines. What the heck is going on? Why do these enthusiast titles seem to multiply like rabbits? One or two look pretty good, but didn't these people do any market research whatso-flipping-ever?

Let me preface my answer by saying, once again, that I have absolutely no clue about the inner workings and financial realities of the magazine business. I'm guessing, however, that if a world-dominating, research-crazed entity like Wal-Mart is lining its shelves with cowboy mags, they've probably got a darn-tootin' persuasive reason to do so - you know, like demand from shoppers. I've gone on the record 3,400 times as being a fan of enthusiast titles, but you're right: we should start distinguishing between good ones (like the Springsteen fanzine Backstreets) and bad ones (any of the C-list automotive titles). Spelling, grammar and production values still count for something.

You're stuck in an airport terminal with all the newsstands closed and only three magazines in front of you: In Touch Weekly, Family Circle or Details. Which do you read, hot shot?

Do I have my 'puter or iPod with me? Do I have a book? Do I have ready access to scotch or cyanide? If the answer to each of those questions is no, then I take a nap.

Come on. Of course I'd read the gossip magazine. Wouldn't everybody?

In your review of the bogus bridal fitness rag, didn't you mention jumping on some type of exercise contraption with jangly jewelry and full makeup? I'm kind of a visual thinker, so I'm trying to imagine a dude named Larry in that particular scenario... not that it matters.

You'd never catch me exercising indoors, if that helps.

I know you are cool, but do you have to try to popularize the unelegant "F" word or push it for early adoption into Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (oops, it's been there for years)? I guess I am just old-fashioned, but I believe that word is uttered too much -- by everyone. Why do I have to be assaulted by it in an e-newsletter?

Point well taken -- no more cursing from here on out. For what it's worth, I'm far from cool.

Larry Dobrow often ventures into maundering, self-indulgent prose that reveals more about the psyche of the writer himself than it does about the actual magazines. Can we either get some tighter editorial reins or toss him out?

I've been known to "maunder," alright. Listen, it's okay not to read the column. Unlike some of my peers, I'm willing to acknowledge the possibility, however Lohan-slim, that somebody, somewhere might not like my writing -- and I'm fine with it. If you don't like my columns, read something else. I won't take it personally and we can still be friends. Honest.

Are there any city magazines out there that escape the bloated, navel-gazing, high- society-yearning format? You know, one that truly captures the energy and culture through insightful perspectives from the segment of the local population whose lives mirror what the city is known for, rather than just flattering the "old farts with money and young women."

Short answer, no. Longer answer, no no no no no no. Hipster city denizens would no sooner be caught reading (or contributing to) a mag like that than they would attending a Styx concert. I'd probably subscribe, though.

Uncle Larry - How hard is it being you? You make it look so easy!

My crack team of hairdressers, dermatologists and therapists thanks you for noticing.


Wow -- that was a spectacularly self-indulgent little exercise, wasn't it? Thanks for all the cards and letters, and keep 'em coming. It's incredibly gratifying -- and unexpected -- to have a sharp, responsive audience like y'all.

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