From the Stacks: August 11, 2006

| August 2006

Utne receives some 1,200 magazines, newsletters, journals, weeklies, and zines. Add in hundreds of books, CDs, and DVDs, and it's a flood of media that lines the walls of our library and piles high on our desks. All the ideas, people, and stories inspire lively daily chatter, but they can't all fit into our bimonthly magazine. So we share the gems here in our weekly editions of 'From the Stacks.' Check in every Friday for the freshest highlights of the independent and alternative media.

Cabinet is to magazines as Apple PowerBooks are to computers. Both boast a sleek design and the outpourings of creative luminaries. Both are annoyingly heavy when stuffed in a bag and lugged around town, yet completely worth straining a shoulder to be able to flip open at a moment's notice. And both bring more joy to my life than any inanimate object should. Cabinet's summer issue (#22) opens with 'Thing,' a Balderdash-style 'occasional column' that asks authors to identify an unrecognizable object. This time, a bite-sized doodad resembling an abstract rabbit with a microphone growing from its nose is convincingly described as an avian fecal matter collecting kit, a near-silent housemate terrified of the 'Iron Chef,' and 'a rare Yellow Submarine merchandising tie-in' -- a weapon named the 'O-blue-terator.' Following is the column 'Inventory,' featuring equally small sketches of deceased strangers' faces, culled from Providence Journal obituaries and categorized as 'beloved,' 'cherished,' 'not necessarily beloved,' and 'not specifically mentioned as being loved,' based on the newspaper's descriptions of each individual. And this is all before I hit page 12. -- Kristen Mueller

Allie totes a lunchbox shaped like a peanut butter sandwich and manually sets up pins in an Antarctic bowling alley twice a month. Laura Poole hawks sex toys in Southerners' homes (think Tupperware parties, but with dildos). Jen Burke Anderson mistook herself for a chicken (the clucking, feathery kind) in third grade. Chaim Bertman read 1,228 pages of Christian science fiction and was plagued by nightmares of 'fifty disembodied faces with gaping mouths.' Each one of these tales is told on the crisp pages of other magazine's fantasy-themed issue (#9). Though released in March, other's articles on 'Pop Culture and politics for the new outcasts' are worth hunting down a back-issue to read. -- Kristen Mueller

Exchange -- 'Milwaukee's favorite free monthly food and wellness magazine' -- centers its August issue on 'The Whole Child.' A feature on 'The Quiet Child' soothes parental fears that there's anything wrong with introverted children, while other pieces focus on childhood obesity, teen steroid use, and the resurgence of midwives. There's a push for a natural alternative in each article -- Exchange is published by Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative of Milwaukee -- and the latter half of the magazine reads like a co-op newsletter, with store news and a slew of recipes (many kid-friendly). -- Rachel Anderson

Extra!, the bimonthly publication of Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, Inc., or FAIR, uncovers how some of the most prominent political pundits from Time, Newsweek, the New York Times, et al, have been pushing Democrats to more centrist positions. The July/August issue cover story 'Middle of the Road' cites myriad examples of political journalists and commentators lauding Democrats for taking the middle, more conservative road in defiance of their party's more progressive base. The justification for the 'centrist cheerleaders' is, of course, the success of Bill Clinton, a role model whom writers Peter Hart and Steve Rendall warn against blindly following: '[T]he Clinton years were devastating for just about everyone in the Democratic Party except Bill Clinton -- largely because, by cozying up to corporations, the party walked away from its core values and constituencies.' -- Rachel Anderson

While any discussion of vanity press should probably start with Oprah Winfrey, YogaFit founder Beth Shaw gives the queen of self-promotion a run for her money in the magazine Angles? -- half the spreads bear her name, photo, or both. That's to be expected from a magazine that is, after all, the 'publication for YogaFit instructors and YogaFitness enthusiasts.' But there are some interesting morsels within for the rest of us. 'Our Troops,' for instance, profiles YogaFit trainee and Navy sailor Randy Hoffman, who has integrated the seemingly disparate elements of his life by teaching 'combat yoga' to US troops in Iraq. Elsewhere, contributor Brenda Stokes advises that raising spiritual children is as easy as 'Listen? Encourage? and Make Magic,' and Shaw takes the last word with a complaint against acts of copyright infringement on YogaFit territory (without seeming to grasp the irony in her own gains from tapping an age-old form of fitness). -- Suzanne Lindgren

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