• Mad Magazine
    Before there was Mad Men, there were Mad men -- the "Usual Gang of Idiots" William Gaines and Harvey Kurtzman began assembling in 1952, when they started publishing a comic-book-sized humor magazine that eventually would help shape the sensibilities of several generations. In an industry fueled by hype, it's hard to overestimate Mad's effect on American culture.
  • Backpacker
    Backpacker is a serious magazine for outdoors types -- so as an indoor girl, I feel uniquely qualified to critique it. Since the market crashed, I've found solace at home, provided I'm not watching CNBC. Between the Dow ticker and Jim Cramer's hysterical, bug-eyed outbursts, I now understand the virtue of leafy solitude. And for someone who considers Central Park country, it's a leap. So I'll let Backpacker lead the way.
  • Independent Film Quarterly
    IFQ's cover is intriguing. A black and white photo of a female who looks like a cross between a young Deborah Harry and Nico is set against a pink background. It's Emmanuelle Seigner, who appeared in "The Diving Bell and The Butterfly." The interview with Seigner is Q&A style and while it's decently written and somewhat interesting, I couldn't help but cringe at some of the "questions." I use quote marks because in several cases they aren't so much questions as statements of fawning adoration. Obviously the interviewee is a big deal in the film industry, but the tone of ...
  • Garden & Gun
    I grew up in the south, so I know where guns reside in the pantheon of life's virtuous pursuits, and it's pretty close to godliness. Where I grew up, if you weren't packing some kind of heat by the time you were 11, they sent you to the guidance counselor. All of which is by way of introducing the magazine Garden & Gun, a glossy, upscale magazine along the lines of Southern Living, but one that describes itself as "the Soul of the New South." I'm not sure what that means, but I won't ask unless I'm armed, 'cause I ...
  • Vegetarian Times
    Every time I get a chest pain, which is whenever the news is on, I wistfully announce: "I should be a vegetarian." Of course, I should also exercise more, stop worshipping caramel and consider switching channels. If you want to avoid stupidity and violence, watch Turner Classic Movies. Your stress levels will drop faster than the stock market. Yes, I realize it's an election year -- and it pays to stay informed. Unlike the McCain camp, I'm all for grilling public officials and their surrogates. If they can't man up before over-coiffed journalists, how will they cope with Putin? However, ...
  • Utne Reader
    I've always dismissed advocacy magazines as being guilty of preaching to the choir. So when I had the opportunity to review Utne Reader, I was determined to approach it with skepticism and the jadedness befitting an aging Boomer like myself. Yet I was grudgingly surprised to find Utne (billed as "The Best of the Alternative Press") to be infectiously upbeat, insightful, occasionally inspiring and, significantly, tempered with realism about what it takes to make a better world.