From the Stacks: August 11, 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

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

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

HerbalGram, the quarterly journal of the
American Botanical Council, has graced our library with its 71st
issue. It opens with an homage to hops (a.k.a., Humulus lupulus
L.), which does so much more than preserve and flavor beer. For
instance, it promotes sleep, calm, and possesses antimicrobial
properties. The magazine conveys the results of studies testing the
medicinal value of plants like pomegranate, milk thistle, and
Pelargonium. It also updates readers on legal issues surrounding
herbs, such as the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing a small
religious sect to continue importing a hallucinogenic tea used in
ritual ceremonies. — Suzanne Lindgren

The cover of the summer 2006
Humanist Perspectives drew my attention
with its headline, ‘What Humanists Care About.’ Having perused the
multiple humanist publications we receive, I was eager to get a
simple rundown of humanist priorities. The editorial provides just
that, outlining the ‘burning issues in humanism’ — personal
autonomy, government, and community — with subheadings like ‘The
Rise of Religious Fundamentalism,’ ‘Public Education,’ and
‘Intolerance.’ The issue includes an extensive report on the
intelligent design controversy involving Canada’s Social Sciences
and Humanities Research Council, two features on humanism and the
environment, and a look at humanism in film. Taken together, the
articles give a thorough picture of what humanism is and how it has
evolved since its pre-Renaissance birth. — Rachel

We heard about Passions recently, requested a copy, and
received the final issue. The concept is exciting: contributors
send in their pages and editor Ken Bausert simply binds them
together without otherwise altering them. As the title indicates,
it’s all about the writers’ passions. We see poetry, analysis of
Winnie the Pooh comics, book reviews, photos of a re-done backyard,
lists of ‘Transit Tunes’ and ‘Transit in TV &? Movies,’ and
instructions for making a fedora with a brim that comes off and
leaves the crown on your head: ‘I don’t know why it’s so funny, but
it is.’ Passions is an honest look at the interests of
regular people, a creative outlet, and a community on paper. I
lament its end and hope a similar forum soon fills its place. —
Rachel Jenkins

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