I like imbibing and I like Imbibe. Its every item contains a trace of wit, but not so much that it overwhelms the information and advice contained therein.
Full disclosure--I have a soft spot for regional mags. As a strong believer in celebrating Americana, I always root for the home team. When it comes to the U S of A., the operative word is gestalt--the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. But the parts, like the classified intelligence on WMDs, bear closer inspection.
When I took a look at Guitar World in these here parts a few months back, I was surprised by the commentary the piece generated. Nearly every respondent, both on the blog and via e-mail, suggested that Guitar Player was the title that truly deserved plaudits. I agree. For serious six-stringers, Guitar Player takes the task of educating and informing its readers quite seriously, serving up the best-rounded mix of riffs and tips of any guitar mag I've surveyed in recent months.
i>Sherman's Travel is on its way. It employs a user-friendly voice, the list concept and informative feature pieces, always with a luxury-value edge (tips and prices), to produce an interesting, genuinely helpful read. Best of all: it's sans the affectations of its rivals. Here, it's all about finding the joy and hidden treasures of a destination.
Star, to me, ranks as one of the least offensive gossip rags (that's a compliment, I suppose). It boasts minimal intellectual and emotional pretense, as opposed to People's occasional tugs on the ol' heartstrings. It comes across as less sleazy than the National Enquirer, less screechingly unfunny than Us Weekly and less desperate than the two indistinguishable Bauer titles. If I were ever forced, under threat of deportation, to pay actual U.S. currency for a gossip magazine, Star would probably be my choice (again, that's a sort-of compliment).
When Life reemerged as a Sunday-paper supplement, many pundits lamented the devolution of the supposedly venerable Life brand. Guess what? Readers don't give a hoot about magazine brands; they want content relevant to their lives presented in a way that's visually appealing. To expect anybody to casually peruse the weightless piffle that is today's Life owing to his or her fondness for its previous incarnation is borderline delusional.
House & Garden's November edition is billed as a special issue: the well-lived life. This seems wholly gratuitous, since the pub is geared to readers who would happily spend $500 on a placemat and actually believe Ralph Lauren can sell them 60 different shades of white paint. In short, this is the kind of magazine, however beautiful, that hyperventilates at the idea of copper-engraved finials.
Everything in the first 45 pages of i>Mary Engelbreit's Home Companion, from affordable gift ideas to easy-to-parse info about sewing-machine doohickeys and yarn, has a low-key, inclusive vibe. But the mag changes course when it enters its features well. The home-'n-hearth layouts for "Sinterklass" and "Design For Living" genuinely sparkle, but the featured interior-design motifs wouldn't seem to be achievable, in terms of cost or time, for readers who'd enjoy the simpler (and cheaper) projects presented elsewhere in the magazine.
Is it churlish to criticize the November issue of Harper's Bazaar, a fashion magazine, for being, well, too fashiony? Perhaps, but to be more specific, I'm applying the ''f'' word not to any editor's particular choice of coat or shoe, but rather, to convey a superficial, bony vision.
Verdant,, the new eco-friendly bimonthly, is like a newly pressed Ralph Lauren tailored shirt in crisp cotton broadcloth--with mother-of-pearl buttons. It targets the upscale. Hopefully, we all want to save the environment. But why are good intentions so pricey? Electric cars, solar-heated houses. Must I cash in an IRA to be eco-sound?