For lack of a better word, I'd describe PC Magazine as nifty -- and as much as "nifty" is often employed to characterize minuscule USB drives or anything involving velcro, I intend its use here as a high compliment. Whereas other tech titles can't decide whether they want to appeal to true believers or newbies, PC Magazine simply throws out a bunch of material that should resonate with anybody who digs technology. It's a title for people who are curious as to what's under the 'puter's hood, whether or not they'll take the next step and pimp it out.
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...
As readers of this column know, I am partial to regional magazines. So today, in my ongoing series -- "America: Just Read It"-- we turn to Yankee, published by a family-owned company. It's now bimonthly, but beautifully retains, in the words of its founder, "the preservation of our great New England culture." Yes, some of the design pieces are useful in any region and a moving human-interest story isn't bound by geography, but Yankee always supplies a local topspin.
On its surface, practically everything about HoBo reeks of professionalism. The mag speaks passionately about engaging in high-minded dialogue with the era's preeminent cultural figures. So why is it that I couldn't get through the mag's Fall/Winter issue without wanting to slug somebody? Seriously -- if I were forced to read HoBo on a regular basis, I'd be on the receiving end of more restraining orders than Naomi Campbell.
It's the knowing-insider perspective that elevates Slam above any number of sports-dork titles. I have no clue what goes on in editorial meetings, but I imagine that Slam staffers start out by asking, "What would we like to read about next month?" They're fans first and journalisty people second; they revel in the joy of the game and its personalities. This stands in severe contrast to an increasing percentage of sports publications and Web sites, which suck the fun out of the trivial pursuits they chronicle.
February's Midwest Living, a 20-year-old regional monthly, part of Meredith's stable, salutes the area's "Best of Everything!" Note the exclamation mark, which is the most overused piece of punctuation. It's not just the best of everything. It's the best of everything! As any good theater director will tell you, the line read is all. If the magazine insists on using the !, the bar has been raised. So how does it stack up?
I don't much feel like reading this morning, so the pix-o'-the-year issue of American Photo arrives at precisely the right moment. Heck, journalist-type people have written hundreds of thousands of words about the "Mona Lisa" and "The Scream" and "Dogs Playing Poker." How hard can it be for me to write 600 about a puny magazine? It turns out that I quite like the mag. Maybe I've caught it in the right month -- after all, any "Images of the Year" spread should, almost by definition, appeal to a broad audience -- but the publication stands as one of the …
I figured I'd check out the imaginatively titled Laptop to tell me what I need to learn about my friend, my mother, my secret lover: my computer. It turns out, however, that Laptop ain't exactly in the know, concerning itself less with laptops than with mobile information/entertainment devices in general. Given the preponderance of such tchotchkes, that decision makes a lot of sense. Laptop, unfortunately, doesn't: it's a simplistic technology magazine seemingly aimed at technologically sophisticated consumers.
One look at Home, a Hachette pub, is enough to convince me that "home is where the art is." It is more than a place to hang your hat; it's where you take refuge from the world and, if you're very lucky, escape to a black leather LaZBoy with a G&T and a hypnotic view of the ocean. Which is what Home is all about: giving readers a pictorial guide, often accompanied with brief floor plans, that explains how to enhance a room or house or just the creative options of, say, a loveseat.
Assuming you can get past the ungodly noise its featured artists make, Revolver flashes subtle intelligence and wit, without scuffing the enthusiast sheen that a niche music magazine of this sort needs to succeed. Its editors and contributors are quite obviously fans, and the mag's every item abounds with their knowledge and enthusiasm.