* When folks get off the train en masse, and all wander in the same direction, it's for all the world like swimming in a stream with salmon. Only it smells better.
My long-awaited copy arrived on Monday, the envelope looking slightly worse for wear (ripped at one corner) after travelling halfway round the world, but otherwise undamaged. Not one to be dishonest and having no sense of delayed gratification, I flipped straight to the photo feature on Happy. On the way I was pleasantly surprised to note a feature on starlajo as a girl geek too!
Anyway, pictures of my favourite rocket scientist. I had had a sneak preview so I had some idea of what to expect, and sure enough there was a four-page spread of Happy and the Mitochondrion, entitled "Glow" *insert pointed jokes about fishbelly-whiteness and camera flash here* - and they certainly were shiny! the photographer had captured the effect of the lightshow really well. Unfortunately, in order to get the good light show it has to be dark and one has to move, which causes his body to be slightly out-of-focus in most shots. The opening shot is absolutely brilliant, mostly because of the ghost-Happy-effect, where he's standing behind himself with a very clear face shot and an expression that.. well.. just works. I'm less enamoured with the other pictures, mostly because for a damn good perv I'd like them to be clearer, and the blur effect makes him look heavier than he really is and also his face is unclear, which doesn't appeal to me that much.
I was slightly disappointed in the interview section - it was quite short and to me, didn't really convey who he is as a person as much as I'd like. However, given that Happy is a friend of several years, I have some idea of Just How Much person there is there, and I think maybe I was being a little unfair about what can be captured in a half-page interview, so I went and had a look at the other guys who were featured (all people I don't know).
Sure enough, when it's someone I don't know personally, the half-page interview format is fine. Only two of the other three guys had interview sections and they both satisfied my desire to know a little of their thoughts, of their life outside these pictures, and who they might be - without imposing enough personality to affect my enjoyment of making up stories in my head about them. I particularly liked the dark, short-haired guy's interview.
The photos themselves seem to go a little more for the soft-focus approach than I'd like. A lot of them were taken in low light conditions (possibly without flash), and I noticed the blurring of them. While I preferred the short-haired guy in looks, the longer-haired guy's shoot was the clearer of the two and thus my favourite. In general, I liked the poses for all of the shoots, and the only guy that didn't appeal to me was the blonde one - so a 75% hit rate is pretty good I think.
So for the "I like" part: the body types, the poses, the interviews, the variety. For the "It would be better if" part: sharper focus and more eye contact with the camera please! ;-)
So that was the crumpet, now what about the rest? After all, 72 pages, only 16 or so of which are scantily-clad men.
It took me three days of evening reading to finish it. I liked the format of one or two longer articles, a few short pieces on a variety of topics, some fiction/poetry, a recipe (my favourite eye candy was actually the guy holding the celeriac!), and some of your standard question-and-answer columns - etiquette, problem page, and 'ask a feminist'. I enjoyed the irreverence of the feminist and the ettiquette sections, was not so keen on the problem page, mostly because the advice was sound and common-sense (ie, good), and therefore didn't contain anything that made me go "Gosh!" Ph3ar my novelty-seeking!
Things I liked: the article on women's role in the witch-hunts of the 15th and 16th centuries, the discussion on the ethics of hardcore vs softcore porn, the article about some of the issues of atheist parenting (although this is less relevant in New Zealand it was still interesting), the story "The Dealer", the second poem, the geek-girl feature (go starlajo!), the stuff about pubes (especially the illustrations - they cracked me up), the theming of the media review section, the feel of the pages (nice paper!), the fact that the people featured are normal people who don't conform to the standard media ideal, the ad on the back (cracked up again).
Things I was not so keen on: the single vs couple bit (short and kind of trite, could have done with more development of ideas), the first poem, the second short story (nice idea, again the triteness killed it I thought).
So overall, it seems to have struck about a 75% 'yes' for me, which in terms of women's magazines is pretty good. It kept its promise of no celebrity gossip, no makeup, no dieting and no attempts to make me feel bad about myself and thus buy product. My puppies don't need controlling! Heheheh. I found it easy to pick up and put down, the articles were meaty without being work, and reading was a sensory experience because of the feel of the paper (a nice touch!). The eye-candy was nice without being overwhelming. I got a sense of self-consciousness from it - it's the first issue of a magazine that's attempting to do something new and I get the feeling of 'trying to do well' from it, perhaps a little of 'not offending anyone' and 'pleasing as many people as possible', not taking too many risks. But I am used to the blogosphere where folks are less concerned about such things, and in comparison the magazine is a little low-key.
I would be ok with leaving this on my coffee table and having my 14-year-old son accidentally pick it up.
I will definitely keep buying it. I can see potential here, and given the community that's supporting and contributing to the magazine, I think that as time goes by confidence will grow and more risks will be taken, which I will welcome. Meanwhile, I'm all for do-ocracy in terms of what we want to see in this magazine, we should contribute! Nyah! So get snapping of your favourite perv-worthy boys, ladies, and writing of your favourite topics!
My exam is tomorrow. I feel prepared but not prepared enough. Interesting that I got an email from the university yesterday telling me to stay home if I felt fluey and they would arrange another exam time for me. This swine flu thing is having far-reaching effects!
Oh yeah, pombagira has my copy of Filament at the moment, so it won't be at Fidels tomorrow for the viewing of interested ladies, but when she's finished it'll be fair game. ;-) We promise not to sticky up the pages...