• Bon Appetit
    I'm under the impression it can't be all that hard to cobble together a food magazine. Dump a bunch of recipes, restaurant reviews and violently glazed photos into an anodized aluminum wok, sauté over something vaguely hot (e.g., a NYC subway grate, a circa-1988 photo of Katarina Witt), and voilà: immaculately packaged reading for the chained-to-the-Cuisinart set.
  • Battle Of The Upscale Travel Mags
    Suppose you were stuck in the middle of Paris with the euro equivalent of $10,000 in your Chanel wallet, but no clue where to spend the night. Quel dilemma! Would it be better to consult Conde Nast Traveler's January issue, whose cover trumpets the "Gold List--World's Best 700+ Places to Stay"? Or should you turn to Travel + Leisure, which provides "Our Guide To the World's Best Hotels"?
  • Playboy
    It used to be that one experienced a certain level of embarrassment when purchasing Playboy, owing to the spreads that the gal behind the counter deemed inappropriate for a sheepish gang of 14-year-olds (not so inappropriate, of course, that she didn't willingly accept the $3.95).
  • Blender
    I made fun of my best friend mercilessly when she purchased Kelly Clarkson's latest album. Once the third highly addictive single came out, I promptly ate my words when I borrowed her CD and added Clarkson to my iPod. So when I saw the January/February issue of Blender featuring Kelly Clarkson and the headline "America's Favorite Guilty Pleasure," let's just say the cover spoke to me.
  • Ode
    In my experience, the BIG QUESTION cover line/story lead ranks among the surefire tells of creative bankruptcy. I bring this up because Ode, which bills itself as a title "for intelligent optimists," asks no fewer than two BIG QUESTIONS on the cover of its January/February issue.
  • O At Home
    Like Playboy and Penthouse, shelter pubs are all about the pictures--beautiful, artfully lit shots of rooms and products arranged to provoke desire and dreams, but, unlike skin mags, also meant to provide practical examples and ideas. The newest home decorating pubs, additions to a ballooning category that may be full to bursting, have toned down the dreams and punched up the utility.
  • Bicycling
    For those of you entering 2006 with the resolve to exercise more often, I present for your consideration the January/February issue of Bicycling. Like the sport itself, the mag is accessible to nearly every audience, from newbies fresh off their training wheels to Miguel Induráin wannabes.
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