Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Weekly Geeks #10 - Magazines!

This week's theme in Geekdom is magazines. The proposition of this topic made me giggle a little bit considering the quandary I've gotten myself into with magazines. It even has an accompanying "interesting only to me" story which I am, nonetheless, going to share with you perhaps for the second time because I'm sure there are still people out there who haven't been afflicted by my free magazines story yet.

Okay, so, my dad has these frequent flyer miles leftover from the days of yore when he used to travel for work. Not nearly enough to send any of us on a nice vacation, most unfortunately, but as it happens, plenty to squander on mountains and piles of magazines nobody needs or wants. So, when it turns out that your trivial amount of frequent flyer miles are about to expire, in your mailbox arrives a piece of paper that says, basically, "Hey, you could just let these miles expire or you could subscribe to a randomly chosen pool of magazines" complete with checklist and business reply envelope. So, with glee borne of receiving free stuff, we diligently check off each magazine that we have even the most passing interest in because "hey, we can't just let these miles go to waste and it's free." You may think that is the end - we just subscribed to fifteen magazines we have no particular need of or desire to read - but no, this is not the end.

Through some flaw of paperwork, we then receive these notices repeatedly despite the fact that we already used up those 7,000 or so miles/points. Except, each one has a slightly different selection of magazines. The last one had Time, well this one has Newsweek (and the like)! So with glee borne of simultaneously getting free stuff and sticking it to "the man" we fill it out and return it again - signing up for yet 15 more magazines we neither particularly need nor have any desire to receive figuring, "hey, what the heck? Worst case scenario we don't get any additional free stuff and don't get to stick it to the man." Much to our delight (or do I mean consternation?) it does work. At least until the third or fourth time you try it.

So, I, in all my wondrous idiocy decide to indulge my ridiculous love for news magazines and other stuff that comes out not merely once a month but every week. So, now, instead of merely reading magazines, I can swim in a large vat of them something akin to those cartoon scenes of ridiculously greedy folks swan diving into mountains and piles of money. For every magazine I read/throw away, five more spring up in its place. Yes, that's me and my magazines. If they burned a little slower, I'm quite certain we could forgo heating oil and keep our house warm through the winter on the magazines alone. Proving that, yes, there is, in fact, too much of a good thing.

So here's what I get...

The Economist - I had a political science professor in my first year who had a profound love of this magazine, so when I saw it on the checklist, I just had to give it a shot (I'm way too poor to get it when it's not free - so what better opportunity?). I love it, but I read far too slowly to get through even a small portion of it every week. It's good real world news that doesn't assume that I'm too much of an idiot (or too much of an American) to know/care about/think critically about what's happening around the world. I rave about it frequently despite the fact that I rarely actually read beyond 40 pages of its densely packed weekly volumes.

Newsweek - Yeah, more news! Except more idiot friendly! My favorite part is probably their one page "My Turn" articles where some average joe or jill gives a snapshot of something important in their life - learning to teach biology for non majors, how their siblings shaped who they are, how setting up an e-mail card shower helped his wife fight cancer - stuff like that. I like it.

Time - Heh - uh...more news. Funny thing about news magazines, it turns out that if you read one news magazine from one week you can pretty much disregard the other five news magazines from that week. The same stuff is happening in every one. I know! Imagine that! You would think they could come up with more original news...

New York - Yeah, this comes weekly, too. Interesting articles, but my favorite has to be that big crossword in the back. I've never finished it, because I'm terrible at crossword puzzles and these are huge and difficult. I'm happy to report that I've significantly improved my crossword clue completion rate with the help of these weekly crossword puzzles, but still fall well short of finishing the whole puzzle. If I ever manage to completely finish one, I think I'll have no other choice but to simply die. Happy.

The New Yorker - This one has short stories written by well-known authors. Who couldn't love that?

Elle - There's not all that much in this magazine that interests me, but they've got a surprisingly good book section complete with Reader's Jury program that I've gotten to participate in repeatedly. I've actually had my little reviews "published" in Elle magazine. As a matter of fact, I think the one pictured here has one of my little reviews in it...but it's possible I'm mistaken, if not this one, then any of several others.

Atlantic Monthly - Yup, I subscribe to this one, too. Funny story about it, though. It looks like a great magazine, great looking articles, all kinds of book reviews and even some lit crit. Guess how many pages I've read out of all the issues I've received since last September? Did you guess zero? If you did, you're uh...very nearly right. I'm saving them...for a rainy day...in the year 2010...at the earliest.

I think I need to crawl under my desk and cower in shame for a while now. But I promise I'll take something with me to read. ;-)


  1. LOL! Great story! Well at least they're mostly decent magazines!

  2. Ha ha, that's a great story! :-) I'm sure I'd do the same with my frequent flyer miles... if I had any.

  3. I will have to remember this info when it comes time for my miles to expire - or perhaps I could fly to Europe - neither is really a bad option. Good mags!

  4. That is a funny story. Who can pass up free stuff??

    My mom orders my husband and me subscriptions to magazines. I think I get every parenting magazine known to man. And, all those articles are basically the same. I had to tell her to switch to something more interesting.

    One time, she forgot she already subscribed to one magazine and I started getting two of the same one each month!

  5. That's so funny! I would probably do that too in your shoes. :-)

  6. Terri, yup, I'm sure happy with all my magazines. Just wish I could quit my job so I could have time to read them.

    Julie, I've got no miles either, thank goodness for dear old dad and his past business trips. :)

    Andi - magazines or Europe? Hmmm...that's a toughie. No, it's not, I'd definitely have gone for Europe if he'd had a few more miles. ;-)

    N - That's funny about the parenting magazines! Funny how people decide what it is that you want/need - I've got a relative who decides that I need to have collections of things that I, actually, have no particular interest in. Oh well, I suppose it's the thought that counts - even when you're swimming in parenting magazines that are all giving the same advice!

    LF, it's the free stuff, who can resist the free stuff? And I'll have it to read long after the subscriptions lapse... ;-)

  7. I highly recommend Mental Floss - it's pretty much the only magazine I read on a regular basis. Don't get me wrong, I love the idea of magazines, and there are several that appeal to me, but I just never end up reading them ...