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November 14, 2009

This week: Not quite magazines


I have discovered - and begun obsessively reading - a new blog this week: Yes and Yes by Sarah Von.

In one post she laments the stupidity of women's magazines: ("I could really do without another quiz to determine if he's into me (note to self: if you have to take a quiz to find out, the answer is no) or instructions on how to look thin while having sex.").

Sure, I've read that particular complaint before, and the obvious solution is to not read Cosmopolitan. But clearly, there is some part of me that wants to flip through glossy magazines that are not about international politics or the future of the media. I crave a break from all my different brands of geekiness. I always reach for Cosmo, Elle etc. if someone places one in front of me for free - and then I am always, always very disappointed. At best bored, at worst angry.

Luckily, the internet exists. This week I have read, noticed and remembered a lot of things that could very well have been in Cosmo. But if each of them were, they would have been the smartest, funniest thing in there.

Via Maggwire, you can browse articles from over 10 000 different magazines (in English), instead of committing to one or two from the newsstand. You may ask whether this site really gives us anything we didn't already have - the articles were already out there on the net before Maggwire, after all. But this site supposedly remembers your reading habits and makes recommendations accordingly. I say supposedly, because I only just found Maggwire on Thursday. There is an immediate benefit though, much like the one you can get from reading an actual magazine: you might learn things you didn't know you didn't know. I doubt that I would ever have Googled the words that got me to this podcast about newborns' accents. I found that because it was on Maggwire's front page of "popular articles".

While current magazine are turning into websites, photos from past magazines show up in books. For example, you could buy Dogs in Vogue, if you want a collection of fashion photos from Vogue magazine, with dogs. Like the ones in this post.

In general, blogs like Yes and Yes are my slightly funnier, weirder, smarter alternative to paper-based make-up/travel/parties/friends/shoes chit-chat. This week Yes and Yes taught me Five productivity tricks. I especially need to apply trick number one to my life:

"The First 10 Minutes" Trick
When I get home from work, the temptation to kick off my boots, eat a bowl of cereal and sit down in front a Hulu is nearly insurmountable. However! I (try) to force myself to spend the first ten minutes of my time at home doing something productive. Maybe that's paying bills, putting a load of laundry in, catching up on emails or changing the litter box. Regardless of what I do, those first ten minutes of my time away from work set the tone for the rest of my evening, and I find it a lot easier to keep doing stuff if I start off in that mind set.

Another alternative to a "Women's Magazine" is The Frisky. Unlike personal blogs that I read regularly, I probably skip about 5/6 of the posts on this online mag/group blog. But when I need a fifteen minute break from whatever geekiness I'm working on that day, there's always something kinda-interesting-without-being-too-serious on their front page. For example, a list of things that should be illegal. Here's a shorter list with the proposed laws I particularly agree with:

It should be illegal ...

  1. ... to wear tights as pants.
  2. ... to take longer than five minutes to prepare a drink at Starbucks. 
  3. ... to touch a pregnant woman's belly without her permission.
  4. ... for men to assume that by virtue of being female you a) want a relationship and b) want it with them.
  5. ... for men to wear spandex to yoga class and then proudly show off their boners.
  6. ... to call a size 8 (American sizes, so roughly 38 in Norway) woman "plus-size."
  7. ... to speak only as a "we" once you're a part of a couple.

I disagree with The Frisky on some legal issues. It should be legal ...

  1. ... to talk on your cell phone on public transportation. 
  2. ... to wear full makeup and heels to go to brunch on Sunday morning.

The Frisky also alerted me to something someone at at least one of my Halloween parties should have worn: the knife ring. Scary jewellery by Renee Andriole.

I firmly believe that paper is a horrible way to deliver current hard news. And potentially anything paper can do, the internet can do better. But I still think people will be reading magazines for entertainment, photos and timeless articles for a long time. I still buy magazines and subscribe to weeklies. I mean, this post starts with a photo from the July 2009 issue of French Vogue, which I'm glad I bought. I liked it enough to photograph some of the photos, so I would have them when I lost the paper magazine.

Thing is, though, if I'm going to spend money on a stack of pages, they better not be filled with articles I've already read. And seriously, I had read every "Women's Magazine" article by the time I started high school. It's like they're on a loop, and they just add new illustrations. Blogs win.

There are more links and tips in the "This Week" section of According To Julie

Posted by Julie at November 14, 2009 6:11 PM

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