1. Gimme Less There it was on the variety-store rack, its plain, homely cover almost entirely concealed by lurid fashion and fetish magazines: girlworks: The Magazine for Smart Girls, "proudly printed in Canada," its credo "Get hip. Get savvy. Get real." In her brief editorial, publisher Janet Kim seems piqued by nascent non-fans criticizing the mag's focus on "fluff and fashion." "We like fluff and fashion too," Kim writes. "It's just that we want MORE."
Janet Kim, we have a problem. If girls want to know about fashion, they have stacks of glossy, creamy choices and don't need to look like Hans Christian Andersen's Little Match Girl - see the magazine's tacky two-page spread featuring nylon handbags and JC Penney coats. Ditto the "Ewwww ... ZITS!" feature - there are so many better, less repugnant articles on offer. (The accompanying image shows a girl poised to burst a cystic nightmare into the viewer's face, and is pretty well the most disgusting homage to porn I have ever seen.) As to the "savvy" and "smart" business: There are a number of sports articles (as a bookish, clothes-obsessed, hate-filled teen, my friends and I were not heavy into sports unless they mean sport-drinking ... no, no they don't) and two "girls in the world" stories about exploring Romania and the possible vampire Nadia Comaneci. Oh, and four books are reviewed; Sudoku appears, in addition to the tribute-to-Cosmo series of embarrassing stories, like a girl who "farted" in a lineup and laughed "because I didn't want to act like I did it." Really? One would think half the planet is so desperately stupid, so trivial and dead inside that the word "smart" must be radically modified for us, in the manner of Frankenstein's monster's sense of "Good!" and "Bad!"
On the bright side, the magazine invites aspiring artists and writers to contribute: Would one kick-ass little creative genius send in the kind of work that will change this actually cynical, Dickensian even, attempt to provide MORE?
2. And Moore
I was excited to read the new issue of the Star magazine, which boasts, on its cover, "ASHTON CAUGHT CHEATING ON DEMI - with sexy young blonde." Excited, because this Enquirer-owned tabloid has become so bland of late; so pathologically obsessed with babies and "bumps" that I had started to fantasize it was being run by the deranged twin gynecologists who inspired Cronenberg's Dead Ringers. Kutcher was quick to issue a denial and has Twittered "Star magazine, you don't get to stand behind 'freedom of the press' when you are writing fiction" (to which his comely wife Tweeted, "Excellent point, my love!").
Read the story and decide for yourself. It is the lovable, part-time philanthropist multimillionaire's word against an "onlooker" at Los Angeles's Madeo Restaurant. The tabloids have been through this so many times: They don't see, for example, the "clearly aroused" Kutcher, squiring a "model" out the door. A "source" says they have, and the Kutchers, in any event, do not seem concerned at all. I, on the other hand, worry about the dolls. All of Moore's dollies, living in their large, climate-controlled house, groomed and oblivious to this scandal! Luckily Moore's mother, an alcoholic who lived in a derelict car, is long dead; sad, though, that she missed her daughter frantically photographing herself in a cheetah-print bikini this week. In your face, fictional "model."
3. Exactly How Easy Is It to Grease an Orderly?
This week, and the week before, the Globe tabloid has published several photographs of the terminally ill Zsa Zsa Gabor and Annette Funicello, quite clearly without their permission. In Funicello's case, the shot is not even sneaky: One is surprised her nurse is not making finger-horns behind the multiple-sclerosis-stricken star's head. Why do Hollywood actors - always up for an outraged call against the paparazzi - abandon their own when they are old and infirm? And who looks at these images anyway? The Globe is old school in its devotion to grotesque murder stories, and this sort of coverage (of the sick and helpless) only embellishes a certain taste for weakness; or worse, a certain smug sense of wealthy, lucky stars finally getting what's coming to them.
4. Spa Days
All of the tabloids appear to have given up on John Travolta's heterosexuality this week, and the bathhouse stories abound. Some of the information comes from You'll Never Spa in This Town Again, an impending gay-spa-subculture tell-all by Robert Randolph. Some reports simply appear to be born of fatigue over the endless mocking of the star's "big butt" in tabloid pages. I find the author Randolph (who claims never to have slept with Travolta because "it's just wrong") less credible than the Madeo restaurant source telling the Ashton Kutcher tale, and I hope Travolta's big butt, family and new baby ride out this storm.
5. Tell It to the Gold Coffin
Michael Jackson's mother Katherine and Howard Mann are producing a film about Michael: This week, Jackson patriarch Joe - who, his son said in his last major interview before his death, beat Michael with his belt, and worse - was interviewed about how the media "twists" everything. He "spanked" his son, he says, to keep him out of gangs. "Most of them are dead now," he says, of the Gary, Ind., gangs. "[Michael]didn't have to worry about that."