- The Washington Times - Friday, September 29, 2006

October is nigh. Recent warm days may lull us into imagining that summer is lingering, but Halloween gear is in the shop windows, and ads for new winter garb no longer seem as alien as they did a short time back.

Hats off to the women’s magazines Self and More for their admirably detailed coverage of everything relating to breast cancer. Although lung cancer strikes even more women each year, breast cancer hits where women feel most vulnerable about their female identity.

Self offers a 50-page “handbook,” including detailed medical information, plus a series of photographs showing women who have survived their cancers and are not ashamed to show their scars and/or breast reconstructions. The package constitutes a genuine testimonial to their courage and provides vital information to encourage young women to follow pretty simple guidelines.

More is geared to women in their 40s, who are statistically more apt to receive a diagnosis of breast cancer than Self readers, who are in the twenty- and thirtysomething age groups and less susceptible to developing the disease.

More’s 20-page special report, billed on the cover as “Breast Cancer: 20 Pages of News, Help and Hope,” is divided into three parts: “What we know now; how it feels; and what we can do.”

Both of these magazines’ October issues are must-buys for just about all women, if only to keep on file.

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Taking a gander at the sillier or perhaps more frivolous side of women in magazines, consider for a moment the dictum for fall recommended by one trendy woman, China Chow, on Page 179 of the October Harper’s Bazaar: “If you’re on a budget, forget about clothes and spend the money on bags, jewelry and shoes.”

You have to realize what kind of world you’re living in if you are considering limiting your fashion outlay to bags — most all of them shown in the magazine cost $1,000 or more. Jewelry? Generally the real article or from a very fancy name designer. As for shoes, have any of you living on a budget priced a pair from Jimmy Choo or Versace recently?

As for the recent matter of too-skinny models being banned in Spain (for fashion shows), check out the models in this month’s Harper’s Bazaar. Do these young ladies have thighs the same width as their ankles, or has a bit of tweaking been done with the helpful assist of a computer?

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Returning to the real world where most of us reside, do check your local magazine rack at Safeway, Barnes & Noble, Borders or Wal-Mart for ShopSmart. ShopSmart is the brainchild of Consumers Union, the nonprofit publisher of Consumer Reports. Its ideal target: women aged 30-plus who are interested in products that independent experts have determined in their tests to be the very best.

A monthly publication at $4.95, ShopSmart is quite a bargain. With any luck, you might find yourself saving the purchase price several times over on selected merchandise. The new publication hews to the same principles as Consumer Reports in that it accepts no advertising in order to provide unbiased product reviews.

You may well feel like jumping for sheer joy at finding detailed critical — really critical — analyses of name-brand products that you customarily purchase. It’s certainly one of the rare mags that I’ll be saving.

Another publication oriented to consumers, but not necessarily their budgetary concerns, is the October House & Garden, which has one of this month’s gaudiest covers. If your taste runs to the simple, you might well pass up this special issue on “The Romance of Lighting.”

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If you want to get a feel for life in sundry other regions of this great land of ours, you could do worse than dip into the October Sunset, subtitled: “Life in the West.” Here you can find “The Top 10 City Bike Rides”: Albuquerque, N.M.; Boulder and Denver, Colo.; Los Angeles; Portland, Ore.; Salt Lake City; San Francisco; San Jose, Calif.; Seattle; and Tempe, Ariz. Among other inviting goodies from the West Coast are a variety of regional recipes, such as a fennel-and-Comice-pear soup that I am thinking of trying.

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Southern Accents is a Birmingham-based subsidiary of Time Inc. that appears six times a year. The September-October issue of “the magazine of fine Southern interiors and gardens” is heavily promoting a color called shell pink that is “warm, glowing and always flattering.” The current issue also tells about weekend getaways to Charlottesville; Palm Beach, Fla.; and Dallas.

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This month marks the 25th anniversary of that altogether worthy monthly the New Criterion. Not an issue goes by that you cannot find more than one article — often many more — to savour.

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A parting thought for folks who may have caught former President Bill Clinton getting a tad testy recently with cool and polite Fox News interviewer Chris Wallace. The Sept. 18 issue of the New Yorker featured a very long article by its Editor in Chief David Remnick, who accompanied Mr. Clinton here, there and virtually everywhere: Berlin, South Africa and, of course, all around the United States. Mr. Remnick, as those who may remember his coverage of the Soviet Union may recall, has considerable gifts as a writer.

This article makes readers feel as if they are accompanying a skilled novelist at work. Rarely has Mr. Clinton been captured so vividly in print. Although Mr. Remnick clearly is very much pro-Bill, he is an honest enough reporter to record something of a tantrum on at least one occasion. Putting this print interview and the television one together enables one to take measure of the man who served as our 42nd president.

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