- The Washington Times - Friday, February 24, 2006

Spring is nigh, and you can’t say the editors of Vogue aren’t determined to be right up to the minute — giving you the latest scoop on all the places that count: Dubai, California, Brazil and Russia.

The magazine’s presumption in the feature “Global Shopping: Extreme Seasons: The Heat Is On” is that because global warming is a given, we had better know how it will affect the way people dress. On Page 310 (of a 606- page issue) under the heading “The Sky’s the Limit,” the writer checks out — in Vogue’s prose — “the ubermalls … and uberspenders — in the fast-expanding Mideast capital.” Dubai, we learn, has become the shopping hot spot and boasts the third largest mall in the whole darned world.

Twenty-five years ago, Dubai was just a palm-lined seaport. Now it’s part construction site and part futuristic, sci-fi city with some of the world’s tallest and most contemporary structures. Among other modern wonders, Dubai’s major mall offers a splendid $272 million indoor addition. It features ski runs and lifts, a quarter pipe for snowboarders and real snow made fresh each night by alpine ski machines. Here, winter temperatures range from 80 to 90 degrees, and you don’t want to know what it’s like in summer. The air conditioning tab must be spectacular.

When it comes to advertisements, you really get your money’s worth in this hefty edition. However, one of the few print features apart from fashion copy is a bland profile of the new James Bond, actor Daniel Craig, before he got his front teeth knocked out in a recent screen battle. Famed British photographer David Bailey, who has made a career of shooting beautiful women, is nowhere near as kind when it comes to his shots of men. Mr. Craig, alas, appears scruffy, sullen — and, in general, alien to the storied 007 image.

• • •

The New Yorker, never a friend to the current administration, offers a singularly mean-spirited cover on its Feb. 27 issue.

In a takeoff of a “Brokeback Mountain” movie poster, we see Vice President Dick Cheney in a Stetson and jeans jacket blowing smoke from his rifle. A cover headline, “The Torture Papers,” leads to an inside story titled “The Memo” (by Jane Mayer).

“The Memo” focuses on Alberto J. Mora — a recently retired general counsel of the U.S. Navy — and a memo he authored revealing his criticisms of the Bush administration’s policy regarding treatment of prisoners at the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. He finds the abuses there to be “unequivocal, wide-ranging, and persistent.” Certainly a piece that merits reading.

• • •

Ever get the feeling there are more blogs than nearly any other form of material on your computer? The editors of New York magazine must have had that same feeling, as evidenced by the cover story of the latest edition, “The Blog Establishment: The Emerging Hierarchy of the New New Media,” by Clive Thompson. You’ll get an awful lot of URLs to keep you in blog world for a very long time.

• • •

After navigating the world of blogs, it’s relaxing to flip through Arts & Crafts Homes and the Revival, a new publication based in Gloucester, Mass. Editor Patricia Poore announces in her editor’s letter that the publication will be appearing four times yearly and will be devoted entirely to the arts and crafts movement. It also will include art nouveau, the British art movements of the late 19th century, plus international arts and crafts and contemporary design. Craving more information? Check out the new magazine’s Web site, artsandcraftshomes.com.

• • •

Vanity Fair’s annual Oscar party is one of the most prestigious events of the season. Nevertheless, you have to wonder whether Editor Graydon Carter got carried away in his magazine’s 12th annual celebration of Hollywood’s top honor.

This year, he turned over the editorial reins to fashion designer Tom Ford — noted for his stints at the helm of Gucci (10 years) and Yves Saint Laurent (four years) — to bring a befitting glamour to the March issue. The triple foldout glossy cover looks much like a very expensive perfume ad, showing Mr. Ford nuzzled against a naked Keira Knightley, with an equally naked Scarlett Johansson stretched out at his feet. The two actresses are so alabaster-pale, so ultimately airbrushed that it’s hard to tell them apart — except that Miss Johansson’s lipstick appears a few shades darker than Miss Knightley’s.

• • •

You don’t want to miss the March issue of Wired and its cover story, “Beyond Real: How Digital Animation Conquered Hollywood.” It’s a great read and features all the details of how certain special effects were achieved in such recent films as “Munich,” “Jarhead,” “King Kong” and “Sin City.”

• • •

Archaeologist Bob Brier serves up a genuine mystery in the March issue of Archaeology with “The Mystery of Unknown Man E.” Was a partially mummified man, dead since 1135 B.C., a murder victim? Or was his death a suicide? What is known is that he clearly died in great physical agony and was buried near a royal tomb — yet his grave bore no markings. Mr. Brier offers the theory that Unknown Man E may have been a son of Ramses III, a royal prince involved in a failed conspiracy against his father. Man E’s remains were discovered in 1886, but it is only because of the advent of DNA that it may be possible to discover his true identity.

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