• Popular Science
    Popular Science has been around since 1872, plopping it somewhere between Talk and Harper's on the publishing evolutionary timeline. Since the onset of the Internet era, however, the mag has felt somewhat dated and, at times, irrelevant. It's not that Popular Science has dumbed itself down or appreciably changed its focus, just that it pales in comparison to shiny technology tracts like Wired. A telescope isn't the glam accessory it once was, you know.
  • Giant
    The premise behind Giant seems simple enough: guys fork over $56 kazillion every year for DVDs, CDs, and any number of other entertainment-related trinkets. Hence a magazine devoted to those trinkets, minus the boobies and related lad-mag detritus, couldn't possibly miss. Right? Well, in theory, anyway. A handful of issues into its infancy, Giant remains very much a work-in-progress. As it stands now, it's a smart, lively concept executed somewhat less than gracefully, sort of like a Jay-Z/Captain & Tennille mashup.
  • The Atlantic Monthly
    Reading The Atlantic Monthly is a rigorous intellectual exercise. The magazine's blocky, graphics-lite design doesn't exactly encourage casual perusal; its long, involved stories demand the reader's undivided attention. This ain't toilet-reading material, unless you've got a medical condition that, uh, detains you for extended stretches.
  • Breathe
    I'm not interested in anything that involves a healthy, holistic lifestyle. My idea of regular exercise involves a circa-1999 pair of Converses, as opposed to a yoga mat hand-stitched by some dude perpetually on a quest for "kind bud." I believe that spirituality is a private issue and generally heap scorn upon those who yammer endlessly about their journeys to connectedness.
  • U.S. News & World Report
    Growing up, U.S. News & World Report was a go-to source for the current-event reports that middle school teachers regularly thrust down our throats. For obvious reasons - see under "hyperactivity, sugar- and hormone-related" - I didn't like the magazine then. In the years that followed, it fell off my radar: it wasn't as lively as Newsweek or as thoughtful as The Atlantic Monthly.
  • Child
    My take on Child magazine comes with one enormous caveat: as far as I know, I don't have kids yet. My child-rearing experience doesn't extend much beyond the lesson, learned the hard way, that my adorable niece and nephew are walking/crawling petri dishes for stuffed everythings. Thus the nuances of this or any other parenting title are likely beyond my limited comprehension. That said, the April issue of Child doesn't exactly feel like the Rosetta stone to me. There are tips and ideas aplenty, plus exhaustive directions to more tips and ideas. Yet few feel like major revelations; most, in ...
  • Money
    Over the years, Money magazine has earned props for its thoroughness and insight. It has been cited for its reportorial and analytical vigor, and become a mainstay on the waiting-room tables of ophthalmologists from Concord to Cabo Wabo. The words "warm" and "fuzzy" rarely entered the discussion. Which is why it's been so disconcerting over the last few months to see the magazine's gradual shift in focus. Its forbidding covers (banker dudes looking slightly more rabid than a pre-kickoff Deacon Jones) have gradually morphed into snuggly-wuggly depictions of happy couples and families. At this pace, kittens will ascend to the ...
  • Departures
    I'd like to propose a rule: Departures and its ilk should no longer be grouped under the heading of "magazines" at your friendly neighborhood Barnes & Noble. Sure, "fat, shiny picture books for the wealthy" doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, but placing a catalog-like behemoth anywhere near The New Yorker or even Vanity Fair on the shelves does a disservice to the latter two entities. From a marketing perspective, the March/April issue of Departures can't be considered anything other than a staggering success. Its 248 pages feature brands both hoity and toity, with a seeming ad/edit balance of about ...
  • Wired
    Passing a newsstand on the way home from the refinery last night, I had a rare "you had me at hello" moment with a magazine. It wasn't a reed-thin Olsen twin that caught my eye, nor a shot of Barry Bonds' globe-sized noggin. Rather, it was a headline streaked ankle-high on the cover of the March issue of Wired: "The Turbo-Flush, Hands-Free Toilet Is Here!"
  • XXL
    Given the speed with which hip-hop culture jumps from one craze to the next - today's "106 & Park" fave becomes tomorrow's "Ice Ice Baby" - publishers of hip-hop mags have often found themselves behind the curve once their titles finally make it to newsstands. So either the folks behind XXL are quite good at their jobs, or they've got an in-house Nostradamus hidden away somewhere scouting out up-and-coming artists and spotting cultural/fashion trends.