• Home
    Really, there's not a ton to say about Home. My notes are filled with thrilling and loaded descriptors like "nice" and "interesting" and "clean." Enough stalling. Home -- at least when I'm perusing it with no outside distractions and no comparable titles within my reach -- comes across as one of the sturdier members of the genre. It is pleasant and blithe to a fault, alternately attempting to affirm and advise. The mag seems to suggest that there are no bad living rooms; there are only bad individuals who foul 'em up with tchotchkes and other personal flourishes, like photos …
  • next STEP
    The cover graphics for next STEP are very Seventies, but the magazine is a creation of niche marketing. Specifically, the target demo is kids 18+. Now, that world is huge, number-wise. But the catch here -- and it's evident from the git-go -- is the class. This eight-times-a-year mag, whatever its merits -- and there are many -- wasn't on George and Laura's coffee table when the twins were considering their next address, before future court appointments or getting booted out of Argentina.< i>next STEP is for children of what was once dubbed "The Silent Majority."
  • Performing Songwriter
    I wonder about the utility of Performing Songwriter as anything other than a quickie read for music fans, whether or not they're currently attempting to melodize their sophomore-year poetry. As a broadly targeted music magazine, it works just dandy, what with its linear approach (Q&As aplenty) and easy design. But as a guide for would-be Carole Kings, the March/April Performing Songwriter offers precious little illumination on what distinguishes a good song from a great one. Songwriting, it seems, isn't easily taught or explained.
  • The American
    Like Patrick Henry and Hulk Hogan before me, I am a real American. I like football and SUVs and Tater Tots. Anyone who doesn't agree with me on anything is either a Communist or a terrorist. Sometimes, I vote. My NASCAR-and-chaw leanings aside, I'm not here to evaluate any magazine on its political agenda -- and The American, produced by the folks at the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, clearly has one. No, I'm just going to wonder why, in this era of online insta-reaction and citizen journalism (insert disbelieving giggle here), any organization would waste its time …
  • Heeb
    This is the 12th issue of Heeb since its founding in January 2002, and every time I see the word, I cry a little. Still. Haven't the editors been to France lately? Where's their sense of persecution, I ask? It's not like it's the N- word for Jews (in that urban Hebrew slicksters are allowed to use it and abuse it, while everyone else is Michael Richards.) To the contrary, I've never noticed any of the chosen ones greeting each other with ''Wazzup, Heeb? '' Rather, the word is a purposeful misspelling of a rather antique anti-Semitic slur. Why even …
  • Mean
    Mean isn't "mean" in any sense of the word. In fact, the March/April issue offers plenty of clever and airy fare, its hipster pretensions notwithstanding. My problem with the publication may be precisely that: Tonally, it's a bit too welcoming, especially given the cultural-influencer 'tude it frequently affects.>
  • Sports Illustrated Kids
    Sports Illustrated Kids occasionally wastes its time on over-discussed subjects, like nicest-guy-on-the-planet candidate Joe Mauer or David Beckham (whose poster/scouting report happily neglects to discuss his tattoos or his wife's skeletal physique). That said, it manages to enliven several of these topics by conveying the basic info often glossed over by more grown-up publications, like how Mauer's stance and practice techniques help him to spray the ball to all fields. This is stuff that kids can use.
  • BeE Woman
    BeE Woman, which launched in October 2005, is a general-interest mag geared to thoughtful adults, covering a variety of topics -- from Cuba post-Castro to Indian women's natural beauty to the importance of savings. It doesn't carry the depth of The New Yorker -- the pinnacle of magazine journalism -- but it does circle some weighty topics with a light touch.
  • Intermezzo
    Can somebody out there help me distinguish between one higher-end food/drink publication and the next? Every week, several such titles land in my mailbox. They all take readers on a whimsical gustatory journey through a European city. They all showcase oddly angled, fuzzy-focused photos of brisket and absinthe and potato latkes. Intermezzo seems to have found a way out of the murk -- namely, by adding generic shelter and travel content. So if you're keeping track, the mag now ranks as the preeminent foodie/lushie/home-hound/suitcase-urchin title in the history of mass media. Start clearing mantel space for the Ellies. Or not.
  • Hallmark Magazine
    Even within the constraints of its genre, Hallmark Magazine manages to excel in more ways than I can note. The cynical among us might loathe the idea in theory -- "real women" with "real pressures" and "mortgages" and "loveless marriages" and "two kids in juvie" don't have a ton of time to sift through tripe about, like, Faith Hill's mothering techniques -- but Hallmark Magazine is tonally attuned to its readership in a way that few publications are.
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