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.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

BEAR HUNTING: Sometimes the Bear Wins

I've read somewhere that Bear Hunting is the only magazine in its field. If so, it disproves the notion that monopolies lose enthusiasm and grow careless. This well-done bimonthly, published in Clear Lake, Minnesota, does a good job for its small but ardent readership.

The March/April issue, like all hunting magazines, is filled with accounts of hunting trips. But bears are special: they're big, they're most abundant in remote places, they're smart, and there are serious restrictions on hunting them―when they can be taken at all. So going on a bear hunt is a big and expensive deal, and it's the lucky bear hunter who can afford the money and time to hunt even once a year, usually at a hunting lodge specializing in the animal.

I learned a lot about the sport from this one issue. Bears are hunted in one of three ways: with hounds that sniff out and hopefully tree a bear; "spot and stalk," where the hunter uses field glasses to spot a bear from afar and then stalks his prey; and―most popular, from the reports in Bear Hunting―using bait to attract the bear and waiting in an elevated stand for it to approach.

The weapons of choice are a rifle, shotgun or bow. The hunters who write in these pages stress how important it is to fire only when the bear is close enough and at a proper angle to provide the best chance of a fatal shot. A lot of these hunt stories are about the agony of waiting, often fruitlessly, for the bear to turn in the right direction for that shot.

One hunter uses bait consisting of licorice, doughnuts, sunflower seeds, dog food and meat scraps, all soaked in used cooking oil. This mixture is placed in five-gallon buckets. The oil serves the purpose of soaking a bear's paws and fur, so that when it departs the area it will leave a trail that will attract other bears to the site. I was surprised at the number of bears viewed from hunting stands that were allowed to go in peace, either because they were sows with cubs or not big enough for the hunter's ambitions. Since you're permitted only one kill if you have a legal "tag" or license, the hunter has to wonder whether a bigger bear will come along later. In bear hunting, size is everything.

Bear hunting has gone high-tech. Hunters use special suits that mask their scent from the bears. Hounds carry radio transmitters so the guide can track them after they disappear over a hill and into the woods. You can screw a camera that senses movement and body heat to a tree over your hunting stand, and get photos of visitors to your bait area for a week or two before you commit to putting yourself into the stand to wait like a statue for hours. Just be careful to use an infrared flash on the camera, for a bright flash will scare bears away from the baited trail for a long time into the future. You can even buy a rifle with a video camera attached, so you can record your hunt.

But experience counts for more than technology. Bears may not have electronics, but they do have good noses. Bill Vaznis writes of how morning hunters learn that air rises, so that "if you want to stalk a morning bear in mountainous regions, you must start out above the bruin." The opposite is true in the evening, when you must stay below your prey.

My favorite story in the issue is by Larry Lightner, a 61-year-old field editor for Bear Hunting. Despite a couple of heart attacks and surgery just two and a half months earlier, he went on an early morning hunt with a guide and hounds in the wilds of New Mexico. Within an hour he finds that "the two bony points at the base of my butt-cheeks are screaming in pain every time they come in contact with the saddle."

By noon two of the hounds tree a bobcat, but the other dogs have scented a bear. The guide tells the suffering Lightner what he doesn't need to hear: that it's probably a juniper berry-eating bear, which are leaner than nut and acorn-eaters and "tend to run farther, faster and harder."

It's now late afternoon, and the pair have been leading their horses up and down steep hillsides, aware of how close they are to the baying hounds and the bear. Lightner reports that "for the last 20 minutes my heart has felt like it is being squeezed into a huge vice but I do not take my nitro pills for fear that I will be too dizzy to continue." The guide sees his plight and orders him to rest. The hounds themselves give up the chase, and the day is over.

He closes the report with the old adage, "Some days you eat the bear and other days the bear eats you."

An annual subscription to Bear Hunting (six issues) is $20.00 from the publisher; we'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

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Sunday, March 18, 2007


Shoveling out from a nasty St. Patrick's Day snowstorm here in New Jersey, my thoughts naturally wandered to warm, sunny days―and to the Spring issue of GreenPrints, a unique gardening quarterly in the newsstand.

There are a couple of endearing qualities to GreenPrints, which is published in Fairview, North Carolina. One is its priceless tag line: "The Weeder's Digest." The other is that it isn't about gardening in the usual sense: no articles on techniques for pruning roses, the right fertilizer for evergreens, ten tips for a successful vegetable garden. GreenPrints is about gardening as a state of mind, a refuge, a happy part of life.

I found a quote in the issue, actually from the introduction to a book by psychotherapist Alice G. Miller, that nicely sums up the light and leisurely philosophy of GreenPrints: "This book ended up being less about horticulture and more about sanctuary. So, if you want a book about horticulture, close the cover very carefully, avoid getting any fingerprints on the pages and hurry back to the bookstore. You may still be able to get a refund."

In her book, To Everything There Is a Season, Dr. Miller writes about her garden as a "Green Cathedral," a crucial component of her spiritual and emotional life.

Susan B. Johnson includes a short essay in GreenPrints about how she became nervous after her Savannah garden was included in an upcoming historic garden tour. Would the mites and beetles make a shambles of her plants before the big day? A friend gave her advice that calmed her fears: "The committee chose your garden because it's charming. Not because it's exotic or perfect, but because it's a nice place to be."

There's an article about the little town of Carbondale, Colorado. The town council had passed an ordinance against using pesticides on athletic fields, but the high school football field was awash with dandelions. What to do? The answer was a community weed-the-dandelions day, which someone enlivened by passing around homemade dandelion wine. That was in 1999, and Dandelion Day has become an annual festival in Carbondale, with featured dishes at the affair including dandelion quiche, dandelion lasagna and tangy, golden dandelion cream pie.

Becky Rupp contributes a rumination on Democritus, a philosopher "born around 460 B.C.E. in Abdera in Thrace, an uncultured backwoodsy chunk of Greece, the sort of place the other Greeks told redneck jokes about." But Democritus went on to formulate the first coherent version of atomic theory, describing everything in the universe as being made up of tiny indivisible particles that are continually reassembling into new things.

The old philosopher's theory of the universe is Rupp's theory of her garden: "Every vegetable is a way station, a check in the cosmic action, a holding pen for atoms passing through. Those atoms have been stars, starfish, and squirrels; they're pausing now, back behind our barn, as butterbeans, before moving on to walnut trees or woodchucks, players in a vast dance to the music of time."

Since GreenPrints comes from North Carolina, I should also mention another gardening magazine from that state that does get into the nitty-gritty of soil testing, growing the perfect green bean and planting a successful shade garden.

Carolina Gardener, published seven times a year in Greensboro. The drawback to most of us is that its coverage of plants, vegetables and trees is edited with a close eye on the soils and climatic conditions of North and South Carolina, from the seacoast to the mountains. Carolinians are fortunate to have such a valuable horticultural resource. It's been thriving since 1988, so there should be a market for similar regional magazines in other parts of the country.

There's an interesting report in the March/April issue about a controversial climate zone change. The country is divided into a bunch of different zones by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Most of North and South Carolina is in Zone 7, which indicates that certain plants will thrive there and others won't. But the Arbor Day Foundation has put out a climate map that revises the zones because of global warming, putting almost all of South Carolina and most of North Carolina into Zone 8, indicating it now has a more tropical climate.

An annual subscription to GreenPrints (four issues) is $22.97 from the publisher, and a year's subscription to Carolina Gardener (seven issues) is $21.95. We'll send you a sample copy of either publication for $2.59.

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Sunday, March 11, 2007

SCRIPT: Words That Become Movies

Script magazine is a bimonthly for writers of motion picture and television screenplays, which should guarantee its publisher, Final Draft of Calabasas, California, a circulation of millions in the Los Angeles area alone. It's also an eye-opening read for plain old movie fans.

The main way of telling a story to many people at the same time used to be writing a novel. A lonely business, but the novelist was God at the Creation until his editor showed up with a blue pencil.

Today the motion picture has overtaken the novel as the mode by which stories are told in this country, and hundreds of people are involved in its construction―you've seen how lengthy the credits can be at the end of a film. But most motion pictures at least begin with a solitary man or woman pecking at a computer keyboard, inventing and populating a world.

That's the art, craft and business celebrated in the January/February issue of Script, and I've let a couple of interesting Netflix movies―and a favorite old novel―gather dust as I've perused its pages these past couple of nights.

The prototypical article in the magazine might be the account of the making of Notes on a Scandal, a movie that came out late in December. It's based on Zoe Heller's 2003 novel. The timely plot, set in London, is about an affair between a high school student and his teacher, played by Cate Blanchett. An older teacher (Judi Dench) finds out about the affair. Will she tell?

The device used by screenwriter Patrick Marber to propel the story is famously difficult to steer: The Unreliable Narrator. The moviegoer naturally tends to accept a narrator's words as true. In this movie Dench's character is the narrator. It gradually dawns on the viewer that what she's describing doesn't match what her character is doing. In fact, she's psychotic, and is motivated by a jealous yearning for the Blanchett character. Among his many decisions, screenwriter Marber fashioned Dench's interest in Blanchett to be more overtly lesbian than in the novel.

Another story in the issue is about Michael Arndt's long road to his first screenwriting success, Little Miss Sunshine, which won the Academy Award for best original screenplay a couple of weeks ago.

Interviewer Zack Gutin asked Arndt if he had any advice for the young screenwriter. Arndt's reply was depressingly scientific and deterministic. It's worth quoting because he claims it applies to just about any endeavor:

Studies have been done of people who are experts in their field to determine what separates the great people from the mediocre. They've found that the key variable is the amount of time spent alone in deliberate practice―intense focused concentration, in this case toward trying to write a story. What was interesting was that it applied across any field―no matter what the profession. The amount of time spent in deliberate practice was the number one indicator of how successful you would eventually be.

The study put a number on it and said if you spent 10,000 hours alone in deliberate practice, you will get up to a professional level. You may not be the best of the best, but you will be at a professional level. Ten thousand hours, which is roughly four hours a day, five days a week for 10 years.

Arndt calculates that 10,000 hours are what he spent learning and honing his craft until his great success. He got paid for about half of those hours, toiling as a freelance script reader, what he describes as "the salt mines of the industry."

A nice feature in each issue of Script is a column that details what screenplays and books have been purchased by movie studios. I learned that Irene Nemirovsky's novel Suite Française, about the German occupation of France, has been acquired by Universal and will be adapted to the screen by Ronald Harwood, who wrote The Pianist. Borat co-writer Dan Mazer has been hired to script the comedy New Year's Steve, about "outrageous, life-changing resolutions made over New Year's Eve." See, you have a year or two lead on your friends on what to watch for.

There's more advice for writers from some "literary managers" at Benderspink, a new kind of Hollywood literary agency that gets a producer credit when it sells a screenplay. They urge writers to find their voice, tell their own story, not "chase the marketplace." After Benderspink's first big success, American Pie, the agency was inundated by a mountain of American Pie-inspired scripts. These were not tasty pies.

They also suggest you move to Los Angeles, work in those movie industry "salt mines," make many contacts, then try to sell your screenplay.

Script recently underwent an ownership change and a facelift, and management got rid of those pesky parentheses―the magazine used to be called Scr(i)pt. I like the changes, but the type's too small!

An annual subscription to Script (six issues) is $24.95 from the publisher. We'll send you a sample copy for $2.59.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

DISSENT: Promoting the Left

With the presidential election season off to an early start, it's useful to get some background information from serious political journals like Dissent. This venerable leftist quarterly was founded in the tumultuous early 1950s, and was edited by Irving Howe until his death in 1993.

Dissent is published by the Foundation for the Study of Independent Social Ideas, located on Manhattan's Upper West Side, the Vatican City of the intellectual American left.

The table of contents of the Winter issue reflects the current preoccupations of Washington and the presidential candidates. Foreign policy problems dominate the journal's meticulously edited 144 pages, and the Middle East is the focus of many of the articles.

Iran gets the main cover headline, as Dissent presents a brave speech given at the Iranian Center for Strategic Research in Tehran last year by Joschka Fischer, the former foreign minister of Germany. It's the first time the speech has been published in English.

The topic he addresses is the European community's take on the Iranian government's apparent efforts to develop nuclear weapons. He also cites its leader's call for the annihilation of Israel and what are perceived as rampant violations of human rights and women's rights within that strongly Muslim country.

Fischer's warning to the Iranians to cool their military ambitions and rhetoric in the region is unequivocal. He recalls the German experience trying to challenge the European balance of power system twice during the first half of the twentieth century. Both attempts ended disastrously. "What was our strategic mistake?" he asks. "We followed hegemonial aspirations that relied on military might and prestige, and we miscalculated the anti-hegemonial instincts of Europe. And twice we underestimated the strategic potential, the power, and the political will and decisiveness of the United States."

The health and future of the left in American politics is very much on the minds of the editors of Dissent. The burning question is whether the precipitous fall in popularity of the Bush administration over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, among other issues, means a resurgence of the left wing of the Democratic party.

Dissent's co-editor, Michael Walzer, doesn't think so. He writes that the Democratic left wing "is doing the best it can, I guess, given poll data that strongly suggest that if it prevails, the party will lose the next presidential election." He continues, "My views about the Democratic Party are simple: I want it to win, because any Democratic victory would be a setback for the far right."

Sociologist Frances Fox Pliven contributes an interesting short history of the traditional American left, an amalgam of labor unions and a powerful Democratic party that dominated urban America and the South. She calls it the "New Deal Left." That's pretty much gone now, she writes, as business elements have combined with "the populist right"―read Christian fundamentalists and those unhappy with gains made by African-Americans and women―to control a resurgent Republican party and the American South. Pliven sees the best hope for a new left movement in the antiwar movement, coupled with the unmet social and economic aspirations of racial minorities and women.

Political scientist Sheila Croucher writes about the town of San Miguel Allende, nestled in the mountains of central Mexico. In recent years this beautiful community has been largely taken over by as many as 12,000 foreigners, mostly retired Americans, who have moved there because dollars go a long way in Mexico. Americans with even modest resources can buy a nice house and employ a maid. Everybody in San Miguel speaks English. The Mexicans have mostly sold their houses to the rich foreigners and now live outside the town.

Croucher contrasts this with the opposite movement of younger Mexicans over the American border, and wonders if an American crackdown on Mexican immigrants will have repercussions on the Americans in San Miguel, many of whom work illegally within the town as architects, psychotherapists, financial advisers and the like.

They're not all senior citizens. Croucher says an increasing number are young professionals whose high-tech skills enable them to provide services to American companies from very well-equipped offices in their homes. No one has to know where they live. They use Voice Over Internet Phone services from companies like Vonage that allow them to choose an American area code when they dial out.

She adds that most Americans maintain post office boxes in Laredo, Texas, and have companies forward mail to their San Miguel homes. That way they can continue to get Medicare benefits, Netflix videos, eBay shipments and American magazines without postal and bureaucratic hassles.

I was surprised to read that "Pinche Bush" buttons are popular in San Miguel Allende. The polite translation given is "Screw Bush."

An annual subscription to Dissent (four issues) is $20.00 from the publisher. We'll be happy to send you a sample copy for $2.59.

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Friday, March 02, 2007

YRB: City Vibes and Threads

YRB is an exceptionally well put-together bimonthly aimed squarely at the street-smart urban sophisticate who's into rock music and clubs and worries about the right threads to wear to those clubs. It's edited in the basement of 480 Broadway in Manhattan's trendy SoHo district.

YRB's origins are at Yellow Rat Bastard, a clothing store at the same Broadway address. That curious name comes from a particularly slimy character in Sin City, the graphic novel by Frank Miller later made into a memorable motion picture with Mickey Rourke, Bruce Willis and Jessica Alba. As explains, "the parent store spawned baby rats and the YRB store catalogue, magazine and website were born." Don't worry, it's several blocks away from the infamous rat-infested Taco Bell.

Issue No. 72 of YRB, identified as the "Spring Preview" issue, has just arrived at the newsstand. From my grazing through Issue 72, I've saved the best for first. It's the opening Jump Off section, which identifies trends, products and technology of interest to young urbanites.

That's where I learned about the "nap helmet," a fascinating Japanese invention perfect for the weary subway rider. It's a hard hat with a suction cup on a stick projecting from behind. If you're lucky enough to find a window seat on the train, you suction yourself to the window, and can then nod off without fear of knocking your noggin against the window or falling onto the shoulder of your neighbor. There's a placard on the front of the nap helmet for you to write your stop, so if you believe in the kindness of strangers, you'll be awakened in time to get off.

The other technological marvel that intrigued me comes from Germany. You've probably heard of spray-on hair for that bald spot. This is a spray-on condom. As YRB instructs, "insert the given organ into the aerosol can, push the button, and presto chango, you're covered. Literally." The magazine notes that the product is still in development, and warns that the aerosol can won't fit into your wallet.

Once you get past the Jump Off section, YRB is mostly clothes and music, with attention also paid to television, movies, video games and other entertainment.

The clothing is casual and colorful, with a strong hip-hop influence. Design inspirations include graffiti, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring. There are jumpsuits from Holland, a skateboard-influenced line from England, and some very short skirts.

The featured bands in the issue are My Chemical Romance (the cover story) and Good Charlotte. I learned from Tim Brodhagan's profile of My Chemical Romance that the group enjoyed early respect and got gigs just because it was from New Jersey, which "has had a near 30-year lock on the American musical scene" because of rock icons like Bruce Springsteen and Bon Jovi.

The article describes Gerald Way, the punk group's lead singer, as "one of the world's most intriguing rock figures of the moment." Way is certainly quotable. For instance, he explains that "a lot of the reason that the lyrics are about death is because being in your early twenties in New Jersey is a lot like feeling dead."

The Jersey theme carries over to a story about rap artist Aliaune "Akon" Thiam, born in Senegal and raised in the mean streets and housing projects of Jersey City. After a three-year prison term for grand theft auto, Akon has become a star at 25, and gave his interview to YRB's George Hagan in his chauffeur-driven black Escalade as it whispered down Eighth Avenue.

There's a feature on the 10 fastest cars on the planet, such as the 1,001-horsepower Bugatti Veyron that will gulp its entire gas tank in 12 minutes when you're driving it at 250 mph, which means you're not on Eighth Avenue.

YRB is a treat just for the photography and art design. The cover has an interesting matte (non-glossy) finish that makes it stand out on a crowded news rack.

An annual subscription (six issues) to YRB is an amazing $9.00 from the publisher. You can get a sample copy from us for $2.59.

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