Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fixin' ...

I am a magazine junkie.

Publishing groups know this. The more I subscribe, the more offers they send. Crack in my mailbox. Free issues, they promise. Come on, they say. Try a free issue. You can always write "cancel" on the bill and owe nothing more.

Sometimes, I can resist with ease. Four free issues of People? No thanks. Not even a moment's consideration. I just don't care about People. I'll read it in a doctor's office if there's nothing else around. I've bought one copy in my life, because I knew someone who was being profiled. But the gossipy rags don't inspire my lust.

No, shelter mags are my downfall. Domestic titles. Cooking included. All things housey.

And Entertainment Weekly, quite possibly the best magazine on the planet, even if I think its new design inside fairly sucks. The content is still as solid as ever. I've been a subscriber for years.

My latest must-have is House Beautiful. I don't remember how they found me. It might have been an e-mail. But the first issue arrived and, at first, as I flipped through it, I thought, "Uh, no thanks." I'd recently let my House & Garden subscription lapse. It was just too absurd. But then I saw Ina Garten's smiling face. The Barefoot Contessa has a column in House Beautiful. I love her. And the rate is stupidly low. A year's subscription for $8. Sixty-six cents a month to read Ina? Sold.

My second issue arrived yesterday. There's a good feature on what to look for in a digital camera depending on how much of a photographer you consider yourself to be. I'm one of five people in America who doesn't own a digital camera. I keep meaning to get one. But, oh, the choices. My photog friends are helpful, but I never take their advice in a timely fashion, and I don't want to keep nagging them. "OK, which camera would you buy *now*?"

HB is a little ridiculous, too, in the same vein as H&G (I won't be spending $8,000 on a reproduction antique bench), but I like it. And I tell myself that for every magazine I subscribe to, I have to let one go. A few months ago, I stopped getting Vanity Fair. Too much pressure, that magazine. Too many pages. And with the stack I receive every month, I never got through most of it, and then I'd feel guilty, as though I were less urbane than the rest of the world (an unarguable fact as it is; I don't need 300-page magazines mocking me, to boot). And I got a sample issue of Health and thought I liked it (and then got the sneaky second issue almost immediately; that pisses me off), but then had occasion during a flight delay at O'Hare to really read it, and decided it was kinda crap.

Oh, and speaking of pet peeves, nothing cheeses me off more than getting a bill for a magazine before I've gotten the first issue. I know mags and bills are often sent from two different locations, but coordinate, people! If I get a bill before I get a magazine, odds are really, really good that I won't subscribe for that simple fact alone.

So, these days, I get:

♪ Cook's Illustrated: The best food magazine ever

♪ Entertainment Weekly

♪ Country Home: Pretty pictures for me to tear out every month and put in my "design" file

♪ Country Living: Ditto

♪ Cottage Living: The new kid on the shelter-mag block, and, I have to say, the best of all of 'em

♪ House Beautiful: Ina! And more!

♪ Better Homes and Gardens: Always a good mix of house and garden features, with projects that don't require a degree in engineering or metallurgy to complete

♪ Ladies' Home Journal: Because I thought I might like to write for them (big-name mags pay well), but I got addicted to "Can This Marriage Be Saved?", not that I'm married. But I might be, someday.

As for food titles, I used to get Cooking Light, Bon Appetit, and Gourmet, but I've let those lapse over time. I never got around to making most of the recipes, and now that Mom gets Cooking Light, she shares it when she's done.

And I've tried Real Simple, but I just didn't need to know so much detail about which white towel I should buy. And I think the TV show is stupid.

I've toyed with Martha Stewart Living and O. I got Good Housekeeping for awhile (another one I thought I might write for), I've picked up BH&G special-interest pubs at the grocery store and fancy food mags when buying books. I remember reading Glamour and I can't always resist the Cosmo coverlines, though I do pretty well. I buy a copy every couple years when I'm feeling PMS-y and go to Walgreens on a cheap chocolate run.

I don't have a vice, really. I don't drink (much). I don't smoke (ever). I don't crave ultra-decadent food. But magazines. I can rub 'em all over me.

You know, cuz they have scent strips.

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