These are "Reports from the Newsstand," my comments on the publications in our catalogue at We offer sample copies of our publications, not subscriptions. Each sample copy costs $2.59, well below newsstand cover prices (if the publication is available on your newsstand at all). A $2.00 shipping charge is added to each order. Publishers use to get their publications into the hands of potential subscribers.


Ed Rust, proprietor of, has worked in publishing in a variety of capacities for decades. He started as U.S. circulation director of the Financial Times "way back when they flew the papers into Kennedy Airport from London a day late." He most recently was managing editor of publications at the General Society, Sons of the Revolution.

Friday, April 28, 2006

TRANSITIONS ABROAD: Living and Learning in Other Countries

Today's newcomer to the newsstand is Transitions Abroad, a bimonthly that's dedicated to providing its readers with information on how to travel overseas with a purpose: as a student, a volunteer at some sort of nonprofit activity, or a wage-earning expatriate, most often as a teacher of English.

This is, of course, the antithesis of the standard travel magazine. You won't find any ads for posh resorts or cruise lines in Transitions Abroad, which has been around for almost three decades and is published in Bennington, VT. Instead, you'll find articles on getting work permits in Germany, dealing with culture shock in rural Japan and studying Italian during the day in Milan while the kids you are nannying are off at school.

About a third of the recent issue of Transitions Abroad that's come into the newsstand is devoted to scatter-shot one-page quickies about some aspect of life in a particular foreign city or country from expatriate freelance writers. The magazine would do better, in my opinion, to have longer in-depth pieces about the realities of a foreigner trying to get by in those environments. But some of these shorties are informative and amusing. For instance, a woman who signed up for a five-day cooking class in Chiang Mai, Thailand relays some of the off-the-cuff advice of her cooking teacher, including "Wash your hands directly after chopping chili peppers and before you go to the bathroom; if you get chili juice on your special places, no one can help you."

In the middle of the magazine are 18 pages of listings of all sorts of short-term volunteer opportunities around the world. You have to pay your way to most of them, and then will probably have to pay at least a modest sum to participate, although a few will trade your labor for room and board. One of the more exotic listings: "Volunteers needed at chimpanzee sanctuary in Yaounde, Cameroon, for minimum six months. Should be able to communicate in French and be prepared for harsh living conditions."

The last one-third of the magazine, largely devoted to an array of articles about teaching English abroad for fun, profit and intercultural experience, was of the greatest interest to me. In part, this is because I spent most of two years just after college doing just that, but in a bizarre environment: a high school in South Vietnam during the height of the war in the late 1960s. What people would do in those days to avoid the draft!

People all over the world are anxious to learn English from native speakers, and apparently an American can at least survive just about anywhere on the planet if he or she is willing to teach English, either at a private or public school, to the employees of corporations or even as one-on-one tutors. "The joke in China," according to one article, "is you just need to be breathing to get a job teaching English." In this issue you'll find well-informed articles about teaching English in such countries as China, Russia, Chile, Taiwan and Germany. There are plenty of pitfalls to avoid, especially when you sign up to work for a private language school. If you're not careful, you could wind up a virtual indentured servant, with most of your pay and your airfare home withheld for a variety of nefarious reasons. These articles in Transitions Abroad contain lots of good advice on how to negotiate the best deal.

I also liked a conventional travel article in the issue about going around the world cheaply and intelligently. Author Tim Leffel identifies five geographical clusters that are inexpensive and endlessly interesting: (1) Southeast Asia, (2) Eastern Europe and Turkey, (3) Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Syria, (4) Latin America, and (5) India and Nepal. He suggests buying a bare-bones round-the-world air ticket through a consolidator that touches on two or three or these clusters, then spending several months in each, staying in inexpensive lodging and being flexible and open to all that you experience. And, of course, staying far away from the resorts that cater to foreign tourists. Sounds good to me!

An annual subscription to Transitions Abroad (six issues) is $28.00 from the publisher; we'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

HIGHROLLER: High Stakes and High-Priced Steaks

Today we welcome HighRoller to the newsstand. This colorful bimonthly, in its second year, is for those who enjoy gambling and the glitzy world of the modern American casino. Surprisingly, it's published in Alpharetta, GA, not to my knowledge anywhere near a gambling mecca.

My approach to gambling is a tad too conservative for HighRoller. I journey to Atlantic City a few times a year with a couple of hundred bucks in my pocket and a comped (free) room reservation at the casino's hotel. My gambling is confined to quarter video slot machines and dinner is usually at the hotel buffet, hopefully with a half-price coupon in my pocket. My expectations of winning are low, especially since they took out my favorite five-deck poker slots last year. These old machines paid out in real quarters, and virtually all the slot machines in Atlantic City now pay out in paper vouchers, eliminating the need for refilling slot machines with quarters and reducing maintenance costs.

HighRoller, on the other hand, celebrates a lifestyle of playing big-time poker, eating at the casino's best restaurants and seeing some pricy shows in your spare time. A lot of people do that. If everyone was me, the casinos would be shacks.

The typical article in HighRoller is breezy and short, and pretty much adoring of whatever casino, restaurant, showbiz personality or resort its editors choose to feature. There are a couple of articles on gambling strategies in the recent issue I've been looking through. One I found of interest was a dismissive piece on the low-strategy 3-card poker table game that's become popular in casinos, and it contains just about the only critical words in the issue: "If you are going to play 3-card poker, then you might as well play the lotto."

A lot of the ads in HighRoller are for Internet betting operations, and one of the potentially interesting articles in the issue is about "reduced juice" online sports books that take a smaller commission on bets (the "juice") than casino books and neighborhood bookies. But the opening paragraph of the (unsigned) article blew me away with some truly stultifying and pretentious prose, stuff that I hadn't seen since the required reading list at college: "When it comes to business, the Zeitgeist of our epoch has been defined by templates for a postindustrial knowledge economy." Tough to digest when you're just looking for a place to bet on the Pistons. The article goes on to say that the online operations can offer cheaper commissions because they don't have all that brick-and-mortar overhead, but it does warn bettors that the point spread they are offered online might not be as good as that provided by the traditional sports book.

One of the longer feature articles, obviously written before the Winter Olympics, is a worshipful look at American skier Jeremy Bloom, who bombed. A bad bet by the editors!

An annual subscription to HighRoller (six issues) is $29.95 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Friday, April 21, 2006

New Issues in the Newsstand

Today we'll take a quick look at issues of five publications that have come into the newsstand recently: Practical Homeschooling, Lighthouse Digest, The Crapshooter, The Beat and NJ Savvy Living. We'll send you sample copies of any of these titles for just $2.59.

Practical Homeschooling addresses the problems and potentials of schooling children at home from a Christian perspective. One of the featured articles in the April issue is the announcement of winners of the magazine's 2006 Software Awards. The article accompanying the list includes a thoughtful discussion of the evolution of educational software programs. Practical Homeschooling says that a lot of popular programs from what it calls the "golden age" of educational software (1985 to 1998) were produced by small innovative companies. But then the big guys took over, insisting on Hollywood-style production values in their products while at the same time vastly reducing opportunities for creative input from the children for whom the software was designed. Worse, says the article, the big companies effectively pushed the smaller companies off the store shelves and even out of business by making it too expensive for them to compete. Practical Homeschooling hopes the Internet will level the playing field again, noting, "There are no shelf space charges on the Internet."

Lovers of lighthouses delight in
Lighthouse Digest. The April issue takes you to dozens of landmarks, such as Canada's Point Abino Lighthouse, a classic built in 1917 on the northeast shore of Lake Erie, and the Cape Santiago Lighthouse on the approach to Manila Bay in the Philippines, built in 1890. I loved a classic photo of the very cozy Elbow of Cross Ledge Lighthouse, which stood in Delaware Bay off the coast of New Jersey until a freighter crashed into it in a 1953 fog, leading to its demolition. In the issue you'll also find the winners of the magazine's annual photo contest.

The Crapshooter is a little four-page newsletter with a wealth of information for folks who take their gambling seriously. I've been looking through a recent issue in which publisher Larry Edell takes you through the complexities of the odds at the craps table, and comes up with a fairly easy way to always calculate the true odds in just about any situation. Gaming author Frank Scoblete says the right preparation is crucial to approaching the table for a winning session: you must master the necessary skills and have confidence in those skills. He notes that "many shooters practice meditation to center themselves within."

Reggae, African, Caribbean and World music are the province of
The Beat, published five times a year by Bongo Productions in Los Angeles. In the issue that's recently come into the newsstand, columnist Dave Hucker from London describes all the music he heard on a recent trip to Cuba, which of course is pretty much off limits to Americans by fiat of the current crop of freedom-lovers in Washington. You'll find a big feature on The Mighty Diamonds, a reggae trio from the impoverished Trench Town district of Kingston, Jamaica who have been making music for 37 years. Another article discusses the great popularity of reggae in New Zealand. Martin Sinnock writes about Congotronics, an album by Konono No. 1, a raucous street band from Kinshasa in the Congo that uses homemade instruments.

Back on my home turf, the April issue of
NJ Savvy Living tells its readers the secrets to getting their kids into the best prep schools. The other big topic of discussion in New Jersey these days is the real estate market, and the magazine asks the local experts whether it's a bubble about to burst―after all, house prices have risen 76% since 2000! No, they say, it's just a slowdown, particularly at the high end. The tag line on the cover of NJ Savvy Living is "Affluent Lifestyles," and that's what you'll find described and photographed in its pages: elegant kitchens, luxurious "outdoor rooms" and bathrooms the size of my old Manhattan rent-controlled apartment.

Thursday, April 20, 2006


The dirty little secret about literary journals is that they're all pretty much the same. The editors pledge to "find the best writing we can," and the result is a pleasant volume of short stories and poetry, some of which turns you on. The newest literary publication in the newsstand is a little bit different. It's the Bellevue Literary Review, from New York's famous Bellevue Hospital, and its stories, essays and poetry usually deal in some fashion with mental or physical trauma or disease.

We've received the Spring 2006 issue of the Bellevue Literary Review, which carries the tagline, "a journal of humanity and human experience." This is not E.R. or General Hospital brought to print; in fact, there's hardly a scene set in a hospital within its 160 pages. It contains stories of people living with pain of various kinds, accommodating their lives to its presence with varying degrees of success. Sort of like real life.

This issue features the winners of the 2006 Bellevue Literary Review Prizes. The blue ribbon short story, by accomplished poet but first-time fiction writer Joan Malerba-Foran, is about a white woman from a suburban background who teaches in an urban high school. An alcoholic, she's inured herself to the pain of having to get through the school day without a drink, in her way as stoic as the students who regularly miss school because they're in trouble with the police or have to attend the funeral of a friend shot in a street robbery. The author captures the survival tricks of the alcoholic well: "Even an empty liquor bottle is usable; swish a quarter of a cup of warm water around in it for a minute and in a pinch―like on Sunday―the residue will hold off the shakes."

The story "Mitenka," by recent Russian émigré to the United States Mikhail Sadovsky, takes the reader to a present-day Russian orphanage, now full of Barbie dolls and color televisions provided by well-heeled foreign couples who regularly visit to select their new children. The angelic five-year-old boy whose name gives the story its title, taken away at birth from his alcoholic mother, is perfectly behaved, but occasionally goes off into a trance-like state of reverie. The day comes when a rich foreign couple is about to choose him, but the wife catches Mitenka in a trance and turns away in horror. The next day Mitenka finds that one of his friends is no longer at the communal dinner table.

"The Crush," by Adam Tamashasky, is about a teenage girl who's been in a wheelchair for several years after an automobile accident. Her relationship with long-time best friend Jimmy, a neighborhood boy, is escalating to heavy petting and beyond. But at the moment of truth, confronting her damaged naked body, he can't go through with it, and their relationship ends. She feels stronger for the experience, and "she thought of weakness, and how easily Jimmy could be broken. How easily it seemed anyone might break when they realized they were powerless."

I liked a short poem by Helen Klein Ross. It has a real downer of a title, "To a Child Contemplating Suicide," but it conveys great strength:

Your grandfather outlined
Ghosts of awl, hammer,

Wrench on a pegboard
In permanent ink―

So certain was he that
What was essential to him

Could not be improved upon,
Lost or replaced. Would that

I could make vivid
The void

You'd make upon leaving
The place you belong.

Bellevue Literary Review is published by the Department of Medicine at the New York University School of Medicine. An annual subscription (two issues) is $12 from the publisher; we'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

ART TIMES: Art and the Arts in the Hudson Valley

This morning we officially welcome Art Times to the newsstand. It's a chatty tabloid newspaper devoted to art and the arts in what it calls the "Northeast Corridor," but its focus is on the Hudson Valley, from Albany south to Manhattan. Art Times is published monthly in Mt. Marion, NY.

It's nice that such a localized art and culture publication exists, and I hope that there are many others serving the same purpose around the country. It seems to have no particular artistic axes to grind and no movements to promote, though its columns in the recent issue I've been reading do take a few sharp jabs at what their authors feel are the pretensions of (1) youthful artists and (2) minimalist art. Art Times is not a production of the hotheaded young.

The cover article is about a massive exhibition at SUNY-New Paltz of 116 landscapes of the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains by 71 different artists of what has become known as the "Hudson River School." Amazingly, these are all from the collection of one anonymous landscape lover, and Art Times reports that the exhibition, "Different Views in Hudson River School Painting," represents only half of the total collection

The columns in the issue involve dance, film, theatre and music. In one, Frank Behrens, writing of the history of Shakespeare's works on Broadway, reports that the original Leonard Bernstein conception of Romeo and Juliet as a musical involved a Jewish boy falling in love with a Catholic girl, and its tentative name was East Side Story.

I went on a wild goose chase (or rather, wild Google chase) to find more info on Mr. Behrens. I was truly excited to learn that Frank Behrens was the actor who played "Bert Wedemeyer" in the classic Honeymooners skit that aired in June, 1956 called "Alice and the Blonde." It's the one where Ralph is entranced by his friend Burt's sexy wife, sporting a very tight dress and a cigarette holder, who continually refers to her husband as "my treasure" (pronounced "tre-zuhr"). Alice lets Ralph know that he will soon be a "buried treasure" if he keeps fawning over the blonde. But the Internet Movie Database squashed my hopes when it told me that the actor Frank Behrens died 20 years ago. Further Googling undercovered the Frank Behrens who writes for Art Times: he's a retired junior high school teacher in Keene, NH who lectures and
writes on musical history and―get this―has 571 film and music reviews currently posted on

I liked columnist Robert W. Bethune's analysis of the three stages of an actor's development. Youth is charged with emotion; adulthood with reason; and maturity―well, let him speak: "The mature actor―who may be quite young; some gifted people become mature quickly―acquires the gift of aesthesis, of sensory awareness and responsiveness. The mature actor is a bundle of antennae, sparked into life by the quick, sensitive response of the whole organism to everything around it, especially people, and most particularly one's partner in the scene."

A big draw of Art Times is an exhaustive calendar of art shows, theatre and other events throughout the Hudson Valley, with some happenings in New Jersey and Connecticut thrown in.

There's a half-page ad in the issue for a new brick-and-glass high-rise in Hoboken called "Waldo Lofts." The ad proclaims that it's "ideal for artists" and the units are priced from $390,000 to $1 million plus. Loft living ain't what it used to be!

An annual subscription (12 issues) to Art Times is $15.00 a year; we'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

New Issues in the Newsstand

Some notes on publications that have sent new issues to the newsstand in recent days…

The March/April issue of
Psychology Today features a cover story on happiness, a goal sought by all but achieved by few. Author Kathleen McGowan suggests that a simple search for pleasure doesn't usually result in happiness; a more rewarding path to happiness is to embrace adversity and overcome it. She writes that evidence supporting this thesis has been coming out of "the new science of post traumatic growth." Speaking of trauma, this issue also spends a little time in gambling halls, as Dr. Nando Pelusi wonders whether our caveman ancestors' reliance on risk-taking for survival has led to modern man's penchant for bucking the odds with lottery tickets and slot machines. Dr. Pelusi points out that when the caveman took a risk, at least he probably learned something from the outcome. Can a gambler say the same thing?

The April issue of
Vegetarian Times has collected 25 "light recipes," each one under 300 calories. Several involve lasagna: asparagus-pesto lasagna, polenta lasagna with creamy mushroom sauce, butternut squash lasagna and herbed tofu lasagna with zucchini. Writer Shelley Levitt claims in another article that Americans throw out an astounding 25% of the produce they buy because it's gone bad. She offers a number of suggestions to improve the survival rate of your greens and other vegetables, including using some new-fangled storage containers in the refrigerator, buying your veggies last when you're shopping, and putting a cooler in your car to keep them from aging on the way home from the store.

Ocean Navigator is a pleasure for armchair travelers and a must for anyone who owns a serious boat. It's about marine navigator and ocean voyaging. The May/June issue features a fascinating first-person story about a voyage from Long Island to St. Maarten in the West Indies on a Swan 48 in which absolutely everything went wrong: a water leak wiped out the vessel's electronics, the trade winds disappeared and the fuel tanks ran dry. Other articles in the issue are about night vision systems, coating technologies and fire-fighting systems. You'll also find an engaging account of a transatlantic voyage on the five-masted Royal Clipper, the world's largest sailing vessel. By the way, until supplies run out, when you order a sample copy of Ocean Navigator from you'll also receive a copy of the 2006 Ocean Voyager, the annual handbook of offshore sailing from the magazine's publisher.

We've received the April/May issue of
Beckett Baseball Card Plus, a thick (264-page) compendium of baseball card prices. For the heck of it, I looked up some prices on 1953 Topps cards, just the ones that I spent my parochial school recess times flipping into barred ground-floor windows with the other kids (the one with a "leaner" against the glass itself was the clear winner and picked up all the cards). Here are a sample: Johnny Podres: $175-$300; Mickey Mantle: $2500-$3500; Ted Kluzewski: $200-$350. I must have been carrying around $25,000 in 2006 dollars in my ragged corduroy pockets in those days! The cover is a nice tribute to Kirby Puckett, the Minnesota Twins great who died earlier this year.

Publisher Christianity Today International has changed the name of Campus Life to
Campus Life's Ignite Your Faith. As you may have surmised, this Christian publication is aimed at college students. We've received the March-April issue, designated as "the music issue." A highlight is the announcement of the Golden Ear Awards for the best Christian music of 2005. The winners include best band Hawk Nelson, best male vocalist Jason Dunn of Hawk Nelson, and best female vocalist Alyssa Barlow of BarlowGirl. In the centerfold the magazine lists Christian bands as alternatives to the secular kind. Scanning the hard rock category, I see that the editors suggest Flyleaf as an alternative to Evanescence, Kittie, Auf der Maur and Garbage, and describe the music of Flyleaf as "female-led rock with touches of Goth, metal, and growling that points to Christ as the answer to struggles with anger, self-hatred and regret."

Sample copies of any of these titles are available from us for $2.59 each.

Friday, April 14, 2006


Today's newcomer to the newsstand is the Journal of Asian Martial Arts, a very serious publication that examines the history, culture and techniques of a variety of traditional Asian fighting arts.

Published by Via Media in Erie, PA, this quarterly (which also calls itself JAMA, risking confusing some doctors) is in the style of an academic journal, and indeed is a member of the snooty-sounding Council of Editors of Learned Journals. Its large (8.5 x 11 inch) pages leave ample room for illustrations, an essential element of many articles. Aside from the cover, JAMA is printed in black and white.

The issue currently in our newsstand is #1 for 2006, which also happens to be JAMA's 15th anniversary issue. Editor-in-chief Michael A. DeMarco notes in his celebratory editorial that "out of thirty article submissions, only two or three are accepted for publication." He also points out with pride that JAMA will soon be published in Spanish and Greek language editions for European distribution.

The best summation of the journal's content and purpose can be found in its statement of editorial policy: "The Journal of Asian Martial Arts publishes three types of materials: (1) scholarly articles based on primary research in recognized scholarly disciplines, e.g., cultural anthropology, comparative religions, psychology, film theory, and criticism, etc.; (2) more informal, but nevertheless substantial interviews (with scholars, master practitioners, etc.) and reports on particular genres, techniques, etc.; and (3) reviews of books and audiovisual materials on the martial arts."

Like almost all academic journals, JAMA practices peer review, with each article submitted to a couple of editorial board members before it is accepted for publication.

Turning to the anniversary issue itself, the opening article is a very scholarly analysis of why people take up martial arts training in New Zealand. The author posits that it's because they perceive that they are in what she calls a "risk society," and are seeking personal safety, personal health and fitness, more social solidarity and a meaning and purpose in life. She concludes that those who persist in their study do it for more abstract reasons than simple self-defense and fitness.

The next article, utilizing 34 of the issue's 112 pages, is a truly comprehensive introduction to Shuai Jiao, a traditional Chinese form of wrestling that confines itself to throwing the opponent off-balance and to the ground. As soon as any part of him but his feet touches the ground, you've won. The trick is to clutch his sleeve, his shoulder, his waist (but never, never his pants!) and unbalance him, perhaps feinting one way and quickly reversing direction. You can use your legs, but only to nudge, not to kick. Of course, for every offensive move, a countering defensive move has been invented over the centuries. Author Zhang Yun provides a fascinating account of how Shuai Jiao came into favor with the emperors starting early in the Qing Dynasty in the 17th century. With the fall of that dynasty in 1911, its practitioners had to take to the streets as entertainers and as teachers to the common people. A staggering blow to the sport in China was the decision by the government a few years ago to support Olympic wrestling in the Greco-Roman tradition. In the article you'll find exhaustive discussions of proper footwork, hand techniques and body movement, illustrated by dozens of photographs and other graphics.

The issue concludes with tributes to the lives and teachings of a couple of recently deceased masters of the martial arts, and by several pages of thoughtful book reviews. A couple of the book titles: Shinsengumi: The Shogun's Last Samurai Corps and The Art of Chinese Swordsmanship: A Manual of Taiji Jian.

JAMA will be of the most interest to serious students of the martial arts, but anyone with a passion for things Asian will find it absorbing for the historical and cultural insights it provides.

An annual subscription (four issues) to the Journal of Asian Martial Arts is $32.00 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

DECOY MAGAZINE: The Art of Deception as Art

Politicians, lovers and merchants have practiced the arts of deception for centuries. But one of the purest forms of the art perhaps originated and certainly blossomed in North America over the past couple of centuries. It's celebrated in Decoy Magazine, a recent addition to the newsstand.

Carved waterfowl decoys were once purely utilitarian, created to be placed in water and to bob up and down, luring live fowl to join them under the guns of waiting vice presidents and other hunters. Apparently mallards, geese and the like are not stupid, and the more realistic the decoys, the more success the hunter can expect. Many a hunter in America's past was also good with his hands, and the happy result has been a significant number of hand-carved and painted decoys. Our mania for collecting has taken many of these old ersatz birds out of the water and onto mantels or inside display cases.

Decoy Magazine, published bimonthly in Lewes, DE, chronicles the stories of these decoys and monitors the many shows and auctions where they pass from hand to hand, often at what seem to be outrageous prices. In a recent issue editor and publisher Joe Engers notes that the biggest decoy auction house, which runs three sales a year, has reported gross sales in excess of $2 million for each auction over the past two years, with at least one decoy in every sale going for more than $100,000.

Stories of these decoys, their carvers and their collectors fill the pages of the magazine. The cover article of a recent issue is about Alfred Moes, a strong, silent Minnesotan, son of an expert woodcarver, who ran a gas station and garage in the little town of Lakeville. For some reason, the 44-year-old Moes, an avid hunter, decided in the winter of 1938 to carve a group of mallard decoys, the first he is believed to have made. The 15 decoys he created are now legendary for their craftsmanship and artistic appeal. He never made any more. Some are sleeping, some upright, and some are headless. Can't figure out why they have no heads? Because they're supposed to be feeding, with their heads in the water. It took me a while to get it too. A real mallard sure has to think fast to avoid becoming a dead duck.

A fascinating bit of detective work is reported in the issue. It's about a pair of pintail duck decoys that Bart Woloson, author of the article, picked up at a Milwaukee decoy show. Made from composite ground cork, they feature unusual swinging weights that are supposed to hang from the bottom of the decoy when it's in the water. His only clue as to the origin of the decoys was a patent number embossed on the weights. Research in the patent records led him to discover that a fellow named Anthony A. Oeding, living near St. Louis, patented the swing weight system in 1939. The weights are designed to oscillate in the water and propel the decoy. Google and phone book searches turned up nothing on Oeding, until Woloson found a 1961 newspaper picture that showed the inventor shaking hands with President John F. Kennedy! It turns out that Oeding had just turned 65 and was the 15 millionth recipient of Social Security benefits in the nation's history. The accompanying article provided Woloson with a few facts about the inventor―he was born in 1896 and had worked in an airplane factory―but the frustrated collector still doesn't know if the two pintail ducks in his possession are the only ones that Oeding made.

It's my sad duty to report that one of the articles in the magazine mentions that many modern waterfowl decoys are made of plastic.

An annual subscription to Decoy Magazine (six issues) is $40.00 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

THE FLORIDA REVIEW: Includes a Jealous Stew

Today we welcome another university literary journal to the newsstand. The Florida Review is published twice a year by the English Department at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, and just celebrated its 30th anniversary. It's a solid publication, featuring short fiction, poetry and an interesting comic lit section.

Unless you're some sort of lit expert, there's not a lot you can write about a literary journal to separate it from all the other journals, and I doubt if anyone but another expert would find such distinctions of interest. Almost all publish a mix of short fiction and poetry, and you like what you like. Not many magazines on newsstands today carry serious fiction and poetry, but we're very pleased that the newsstand is a place where you can find dozens of literary journals, some independent and others from university presses.

Back to The Florida Review. I've just finished the Fall 2005 issue, and I must tell you about one short story that I really enjoyed. It's by William Jablonsky, who published his first collection of short fiction in 2005. Called "Tandoori Chicken and Chinese Lanterns," this story is about a fellow who desperately loves his bride of two years and hopes to keep her affections by cooking her sublime meals. It starts out:

"Lie next to her in bed, lift up her old T-shirt, and gently press your ear to her abdomen, listening to the happy gurgling of her stomach as she digests the dinners you prepare so painstakingly, just for her. Catalog the sounds, match her response to each meal: the sparse plunking of chicken tikka masala, like water dripping into a bucket; the sustained, low moan of lamb and eggplant tagine; the quiet chirping of Egyptian veal stew, echoing just beneath her ribcage. This is what you have to offer; you are not gifted with good looks, cannot sing a love song respectably or write love poems in her honor, are not particularly romantic, are certainly not the best lover she has ever had. At your wedding, your own brother, in a moment of drunken insight, confirmed your fears: she was marrying beneath her, you were lucky she did not know it. But your three semesters of culinary school are not the expensive, impractical blunder they seemed at first, and each time she smiles and rubs her belly, you gain a small victory."

But our insecure husband fears the worst when she arrives home very late from work, ruining the chicken Malai that's been simmering on the stove. She explains that a meeting went overtime and that she and her coworkers shared pizzas at the conference table. But that evening his worst fears are confirmed:

"Wait until bedtime to forgive her completely. Lie with your arm over her chest until you hear her light, airy snore. Listen to her stomach, your ear not quite touching her skin. An alternating trickling and bubbling: Thai basil and fish sauce―a red beef curry, perhaps Pud Thai. Though you have not eaten there in months, remember that the Thai restaurant in town neither delivers nor accepts takeout orders. Creep quietly out of bed, drink a shot of the sake you use for marinades, lie awake until five in the morning wondering why she lied."

This jealous stew bubbles on furiously for several more pages of The Florida Review, and I was sorry that the meal had to end. Jablonsky writes as well as his hero with the extraordinarily talented ear can cook.

An annual subscription to The Florida Review (two issues) is $15.00 a year from the publisher; we'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.