Magazines That Just Couldn’t Cut It

For every successful magazine, hundreds fail either because they’re flat stupid, were published before their time, or were written and edited by nuts. Here are my memories of those that didn’t make the grade.

  • Jupiter Images graphic

    Bad House Keeping – Written by trailer trash for trailer trash, but went off the rails when it also tried to appeal to artists, writers and other dreamers who didn’t have time to keep house.

  • Bizarre – Featured photographs taken by readers while they were drunk about stuff that seemed funny at the time but, as it turned out, was trivial and boring later on.
  • Croquet Digest: Readers were never sure whether this magazine was about the game or fried rolls of bread and meat. Those who thought it was about croquettes unsubscribed then many of those who thought the magazine was about croquet claimed to be using croquettes instead of balls because what else were they good for?
  • Hades Home Journal: Editors thought this take-off on “Ladies Home Journal” would document what life was like for most housewives, that is to say, life in a hell of dirty diapers, burnt food, endless dust, and unfaithful husbands. Even those who sent in true stories hated the magazine because they wanted to pretend life in housewife hell didn’t exist.
  • HayBoy: This original spoof of “Playboy” failed because–contrary to marketing predictions–nobody wanted to see cartoons and photographs about scantily clad men working on a farm.  Even the dazzling articles about crop rotation and the center spreads featuring John Deere, Ford, Massey Fergusson, Case, and Farmall tractors couldn’t save the magazine.
  • Homewrecker: Based on high divorce rates, publishing moguls decided there was probably a huge audience of wanton women who were being neglected by mainstream media. This publication pioneered in the publication of ground-breaking techniques for stealing a man away from goody-two-shoes women who were reading “Good Housekeeping” and “House Beautiful.” Basically, the church got ticked off at this magazine and said everyone associated with it was going to hell, so that pretty much scared advertisers and readers away.
  • McBalls: This magazine, aimed at the husbands of women who lived their lives by the gospel of “McCalls,” focused on dangerous methods of barbecuing, high-energy and potentially fatal sports, living lives based on the “hey, honey, watch this” philosophy, and featured centerfolds of stuff that blew up or caught on fire. The magazine had a spectacular first year, but after that it lost readers when most of them died.
  • Photoclay – A bunch of potters in a collective run by visionary manufacturers of wheels, kilns, and other craft supplies, saw the success of “Photoplay” and thought, “why not clay?” As it turned out, nobody much cared about pictures of clay or even the gory pictures of stuff that blew up in the kilns.
  • Popular Seance – This magazine was the best of the best during the spiritualism craze, featuring articles by spirits such as Patience Worth, Ouija Board techniques, and how to contact uncle Danny in the afterworld to find out where the hid all his gold. Then a horde of spoilsports came along and said spiritualism was mostly frauds taking people’s money. Subscribers thought that was a real downer and left the magazine to become Tarot card readers.
  • Everyone can’t produce a successful magazine.

    Popular Quantum Mechanics: When the magazine came out, nobody knew squat about quantum physics, so naturally they thought everything in the magazine was about a bunch of frauds taking people’s money.  How, people asked, could there be multiple universes when one was bad enough? How could a butterfly flapping its wings in Tallahassee, Florida, cause a rain form in Walla Walla, Washington? The magazine was a true gem that failed before people were ready for it.

  • La Vie Fille de la Joie: Hookers, according to the magazine’s cover blurb, brought an infinite amount of joy to men who “weren’t getting any at home.” The photographs and articles, according to even the most Victorian critics, were tastefully done and “made calling a call girl seem like a religious experience.” As had happened before with people just having a bit of fun, the church got ticked off at this magazine and said everyone sleeping with daughters of joy was going to hell. This idea bothered people and they canceled their subscriptions even though they continued to find love with unknown ladies leaning against lamp posts.
  • New Porker: This brave magazine was the champion of pigs and could tell you how to bring home the best bacon, carve a pork roast, and cook center-cut pork chops with out drying them out. The trouble was, most people think pigs are  gross, stupid, and filthy and balked at the idea of leaning anything more about them. Even the hog-calling “Sooie Short Stories” series couldn’t save the magazine.
  • Saturday Evening Fencepost: The trouble began when the magazine couldn’t entice Norman Rockwell to do their covers art featuring farmers, farmers’ wives, and hired hands sitting on fence posts creating sonnets about barbed wire, gates, barns, and silos. Somehow, a nasty campaign by other magazines convinced readers that this magazine was for people who were “dumb as a post.” Even those who knew they were dumb as a post didn’t want to be told they were dumb as a post.
  • Silver Scream: Since “Silver Screen” was a popular magazine, why not focus on the dark site of making movies, starting out with some of the best screams anyone ever heard in a feature film? As it turned out, readers didn’t want to focus on the shower scene in “Psycho” as much as editors thought, so the magazine went under with a whimper a few years after it began.
  • The Smart Seat: This magazine, a jibe at the popular “Smart Set,” featured seats, mainly toilet seats, but occasionally various hot seats and other places people found themselves sitting. The magazine was funny at first and then it wasn’t, some say because a story called “Toilet Seats I’ve Known and Loved” grossed people out. Then, too, legislatures claimed that using the word “ass” in a periodical made the whole thing obscene and got the copies removed from the shelves.
  • If you can’t be Vogue, be Vague.

    The UnAmerican Girl: With “American Girl” all the rage in those days, girls who weren’t American weren’t getting any news coverage. Unfortunately, the name of the magazine gave readers the impression that the magazine was about commies and other nefarious women who were out to take away America’s freedoms. Actually, that was probably true, though it was never proven. Even though many men thought dating an unAmerican girl was sexy, the FBI thought it wasn’t, and that pretty much killed the magazine.

  • Vague: The publisher wanted to compete with “Vogue,” but never figured out how to do it. The result was a wishy-washy magazine that wasn’t about anything other than people who had no idea what they were doing. It was not surprise that those people didn’t have any money, consequently they could afford subscriptions or buy anything from the magazine’s advertisers. The whole thing was so nebulous that nobody ever knew when there the magazine was sold, what it was about, or when it went out of business.

Nobody cares: my SPAM queue is empty

When I log on, I normally see a WordPress notice that says there are 100000000000 messages in your SPAM queue. Basically, I think that if a spammer does such a poor job trying to comment on one of my posts that his/her comment ends up in the SPAM queue, s/he is sending substandard SPAM. But today, the queue was empty.

I felt so alone, discounted maybe. Perhaps spammers are boycotting my blog because they go in the SPAM queue where their efforts are all for nothing.

Here are some examples of the kinds of wonders I usually find in the queue:

  • I notice that you need some interesting posts in this blog. Get posts from our software and you’ll never write another one. (Hey clown, have you noticed that I’m a writer and can hardly call attention to my work by using canned posts?)
  • Date Russian babes. (My wife doesn’t allow me to date Russian babes.)
  • Try this safe and effective Viagra substitute for a stunning 15-hour erection. (If I go into the gigolo business and/or start dating multiple Russian babes, I’ll let you know. Don’t call me, I’ll call you–yeah, right.)
  • Our off-grid investment plan is so effective and private that only 10% of our clients end up in jail for money laundering. (I hope those clients weren’t using too much bleach.)
  • I’m going to bookmark this post so I can come back and read it again. (Please don’t.)
  • Free burial insurance without having to list preexisting conditions. Many of our clients have been dead for weeks before a well-meaning relative forges their signature on the application. We guarantee that only 10% of our clients wind up in the wrong grave yard. (Tempting, but no.)
  • We’re selling real SPAM at a discount. This week, 50% off “SPAM® with Portuguese Sausage Seasoning” that normally sells for $3.50. Free “Wood SPAM® Brand Piggy Cutting Board” with every thousand dollars you order. (Okay, you’re Hormel Foods trying a new marketing approach, right?)
  • Scientists have proven it’s now safe to brush your teeth with Saniflush if you don’t use it 100 times a day. We have a warehouse full of the stuff we snapped up when the brand was discontinued, and that means a deal for you. (No.)
  • New home security system test. Our pros will attempt to break into your house to see if your system works. If you don’t see us, your system failed. If you do, your system is effective. Send $1000 and your address along with the typical times of day when nobody’s home. (You guys work for SNL right?”)
  • Guard your Internet connection from fake news. Download our $56.00 virus and you’ll never see another phony news story again. (Will I see any more SPAM?)

If your comments ever end up in my SPAM queue, try again, you know, if you feel lucky.

–Malcolm

Malcolm is the author of the satirical crime novel “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire.” (Only 10% of his readers go nuts before getting to the end up this novel.)

How to become a famous writer

Years ago, ruffians from the English department posted a gag flyer on school bulletin boards showing a hopeless oaf pictured with the quote: “Yesterday I couldn’t even spell ‘writer.’ Now I are one.”

For me, that flyer began a long-time distrust of high school and college English departments. The reasons run deep and belong in another post. Suffice it to say, English departments aren’t high on my list of steps to take in becoming a famous writer. Instead, I suggest the following:

Don’t Write Good.

Readers don’t like good even though many of them claim them have to have read “the good book” and that they adore every novel that features people who helps the homeless or who starve their families while donating time and money to the Salvation Army.

What readers really want is bad. Why do you think they liked The Da Vinci Code? “Christ, you’re telling me Jesus was married? Where can I get my copy?” They like heroes who use unnecessary force (as seen on the show “24”) because those tactics bring the kinds of results that generate closure to readers fighting for simple answers that work in a complex, politically correct rules.

It goes without saying that readers also buy books with back-cover blurbs like “Nymphomaniac Defrocks Beloved Priest in Forgotten Monastery” and  “Shy Housewife Kills Terrorists in Downtown Chicago with Illegal Weapons Stolen from Wimpy Cops.”

Commit a Crime

Writers with platforms sell books. If you threw your mama from a train, you have a much better chance of writing salable books than a hapless MFA-graduate whose “platform” is (a) writing good, (b) An MFA, and (c) A resume filled with angst-ridden poems and short stories set in an unbelievable universe where angst-ridden stuff actually gets onto bestseller lists.

A criminal record shows prospective agents and publishers you know how to catch the public’s attention and produce a novel that will sell 50,000 copies or more and attract options from Warner Brothers and 20th Century-Fox. What you don’t want is a novel that might attract options from the Hallmark Channel because it produces material from authors who write good.

Caution: Judges and lawmakers generally won’t allow a person to profit from a crime. If you write a novel called How I Threw Mama from the Train, your earnings will be confiscated if you really threw your mama from a train. Write about something else, using your fame as a criminal to get the attention of agents, publishers and readers. Your stuff might sell if you write good even though writing bad is better.

Become a Movie Star

If you’re a movie star or a famous Hollywood personality who looks like a slut or a stud on the red carpet, you can become a bestselling author even if you’re illiterate. How? Ghostwriters, darling. A sure way to get a publisher’s attention is by “writing” a memoir or novel based on a true story that dishes out plenty of scandal about your co-stars, lovers, and agents. The public adores stories that tell them their favorite stars aren’t really as pure as the driven snow. A bonus for movie stars is writing a book about an issue even if an expert writes it for you. Do this, and you’ll soon be testifying at Congressional hearings even though you probably know less about the issue than the average man or woman on the street.

The famous movie star approach also works for famous senators, representatives, governors, politicians and other idiots who are smart enough to understand that readers want your name on their coffee tables even if they never read a word of the drivel between the covers.

Plagiarize, Get Caught, Repent

Create a novel with a compelling plot, multidimensional characters, and a jaw-dropping title that, under normal conditions, will probably sell only one hundred copies.  Not to worry. This novel will have a secret weapon, and the big payoff comes when the secret is discovered: you’ve stolen thousands of its words from famous novels. When people find out, you’ll deny it, of course. Your readers will hate you. As your crime becomes harder to deny, you’ll claim “fair use.” That won’t work, but it may keep the wolves from your door for a while.

Finally, you’ll issue a news releasing claiming that Satan told you to do it and that your heartily sorry and never meant to harm anyone. You’ll refund the money you’ve made off the book and check yourself into a rehab center. Several years will go by. People will forget you. That’s when you strike with a book written in your own words. Readers will buy it like hotcakes because folks love repentant sinners who reform and start walking the straight and narrow. Even the New York Times bestseller list and Oprah will love you.

Your English teachers will never share any of these secrets with you. That’s okay, because nobody really needs those people as they much one needs oneself and a plan for success that really brings in the big bucks.

Malcolm

 

Go to hell and have a nice trip

Mama always said, “If you’re going to insult somebody, do it with a smile on your face.” (Mama always talked in bold face.)

That admonition has served me well for years.

Daddy always said, “You can take the sting out of profanity by putting it in quotes.”

As I noticed on Facebook, the Internet’s great forum for esoteric and learned debate, there’s a world of difference between saying, Bob, you’re really screwed up AND Bob, you’re really “screwed up.”

People think you love them when you add a smile and quotation marks even if you have to raise your hands and extend two fingers on each. Extending one finger on each doesn’t smooth things over.

I miss this magazine because it taught me everything I needed to know.

People become used to humorous insults. That’s why Don Rickles got so many laughs. When he made fun of people, they thought he loved them. Most of my friends think of me as “Mister Warmth.” They knew I grew up with the commandment, “Mama don’t allow no swearing ’round here.” So, when I tell them to go to hell, they think it’s satire or love, sweet love.

It takes many years of practice to get people to laugh when you’re dead serious about the “sanity” of their families, the “beauty” of their daughters, the “honor” of their sons, and the “stunning” breakfast of burnt grits they prepared for you.

It’s become clear that a well-publicized “wacky” belief system goes a long way in getting away with stuff. The people who know I believe in reincarnation and not hell, think that when I say “Go to hell,” I’m talking about Michigan.

Actress Barbara Stanwyck purportedly told Fred MacMurray that the secret of acting is truthfulness. “Just be truthful – and if you can fake that, you’ve got it made.” Faked sincerity covers almost as many “sins” as a “wacky” belief system. If you sound sincere, people want to go to hell and want to be screwed up.

Sometimes when people learn that I’m a writer (which is just as handy as a “wacky” belief system), they say, “OMG, will you put me in your book?”

My response is usually something like, “You’re already in my book. I just changed your name to keep your spouse from divorcing you.” 

“Aw, shucks,” they say, genuinely proud of themselves.

My friends variously think that I’m joking, being wacky, being satirical, and being a writer even when I’m not. Their kind thoughts in such matters have kept me from having to censor myself very often.

–Malcolm

I’m a lot more like my Jock Stewart character in “Jock Stewart and the Missing Sea of Fire” than most people suspect!

 

Feds Bust Sneezeweed Resisistance Movement Scam

Junction City, Texas, April 29, 2017, Star-Gazer News Service–Agents from multiple alphabet-soup agencies within the Department of Homeland Insecurity swooped down like a coven of witches on their brooms and arrested Bob and Sarah Smith for allegedly failing to deliver free snuff samples to the “down-trodden widows and orphans” who donated their life’s savings to “get rid of the haints infesting Congress” in the widely publicized RESIST WITH SNEEZEWEED crowdfunding affort.

Sneezeweed

According to the warrant, Bob and Sarah Smith “shamelessly and expediently” solicited $100000000000 from a large crowd to build a snuff factory that would purportedly convert dried sneezeweed leaves into enough snuff to force Congress to sneeze all the “treacherous haints and malevolent spirits” out of its system.

Weed enforcement tsar Mary Warner told reporters that while sneezeweed snuff probably causes cancer, the United States is not currently engaged in a war on snuff.

“Thing is,” she said, “if you take people’s money to build a snuff factory, promise to send them a free sample of your best stuff, and then ship the remainder to Congress, you gotta do it. The Smiths didn’t do squat except spend the money living high on the hog instead of bringing home the bacon.”

Congressman Amos “Grandpappy” McCoy (R-TX), best known for his campaign to change the Texas state flower from “something named after a brand of margarine” to the yellow rose, said that as far as he knew, the only evil spirits in Congress were the “bottom-shelf whiskeys sucked up by Democrats and other vermin.”

Smith, speaking through his lawyer like a ventriloquist with a dummy, reminded reporters that his RESIST WITH SNEEZEWEED plan was still in the planning stages because “you just don’t go into your kitchen and whip of a batch of snuff in a Crock-Pot.”

“Plus, who knew you can’t build a snuff factory on an EPA hazmat site?” he asked, more or less rhetorically.

“The irony is that had Smith bided his time, the EPA and its hazmat sites would have been phased out and the factory could have turned out enough snuff for every man, woman and child in the country with no federal interference,” McCoy said.

Informed sources believe that the feds tracked down the Smiths after a church bible study group member “ratted out” Sarah for saying, “We know resistance is futile, but getting people to spend their time and money on meaningless petitions and marches helps them cope. Like we’re really going to send snuff to Congress–puh-leeze!”

“Truth be told,” said Warner, “I hated arresting these folks because clearing the evil spirits out of Congress really was an admirable goal.”

–Story filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

 

 

Used eagle eyes available for cataract surgery

Rome, Ga, August 22, 2016, Star-Gazer News Service–When author Malcolm R. Campbell scheduled cataract surgery this week for his left eye, he learned that he will be the first man in his town to receive a used golden eagle eye instead of an artificial lens (called an intraocular lens, or IOL).

Wikipedia photo

Wikipedia photo

Ophthalmologists report that eagles have five times the number of light receptor cells in their eyes as humans, so it was “just a matter of time” before humans were offered a chance to upgrade.

“So far, the service is only available for those undergoing cataract surgery,” said Waterfall Jones, head of the Eagle Eye Research Center of the Department of the Interior. “In time, all humans will be given the option of receiving eagle eyes at birth if not sooner.”

Campbell, who is a long-time member of such groups as the Sierra Club and the National Wildlife Federation expressed reservations about the used golden eagle eyes due to the fuzzy nature of the “used” concept.

“It’s not like golden eagles upgrade their own eyes and offer their older eyes at a used eye lot for resale,” Campbell said. “However, I learned that the eyes come only from golden eagles with organ donor cards.”

“Eagle whisperers working in the national parks have had a continuous dialogue with the birds for fifty years, finally winning their trust along with signed consent forms for the donation of eyes,” said Jones.

According to spokesmen who have elected to remain anonymous to avoid bad publicity claim that Campbell will not only be able to see a reader turning the pages of a book from a mile away, he will also be able to fine tune his books into best sellers, especially in areas frequented by golden eagles.

“Within a few years, we’ll be able to create golden eagle eyes in the laboratory,” Jones said. “This will create an unlimited supply even though the eyes will be hideously expensive and will not be covered by Medicare or private insurance. People will have to ask themselves just how much it’s worth to be able to say ‘On a clear day I can see forever.'”

“I won’t have the night vision of an owl,” said Campbell, “but then I can buy lamps and flashlights at Home Depot and owls can’t.”

Story by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter

 

New Presidential Candidate to out-trump Trump

Junction City, TX – Star-Gazer News Service – Local author Caine Molasses, whose recent bestseller Grits on the Half Shell has been banned from schools across the country, announced his candidacy for the Presidency today from an Albino County jail where he’s serving time for skipping 25 straight alimony payments to his former wife Sue “Sugar Beet” Hawkins who, with her sister Sadie, runs a dance studio on the other side of the tracks.

Sweeter than Grandma

Sweeter than Grandma

Warden Bill Smith, who introduced Molasses to the prison exercise yard news conference, said that since the author had been a model prisoner, he would make a wonderful President.

“My campaign is a blend of the worst ideas from this year’s crop of Presidential wannabees simply because those ideas get the most publicity,” Molasses said.

His campaign manager Bugsy Baker, formerly of Chicago, said “even the dead will want to vote early and often for this man.

According to his campaign literature, Molasses will promote the following:

  • Carve up all the nation’s great banks into the chaos of tiny inefficient banks they used to be prior to all the mergers. Inefficiency means more jobs and more jobs mean more prosperity.
  • Build a Berlin-style wall along the border with Mexico at Mexico’s expense, complete with machine guns and a “Checkpoint Carlos.” Strengthen the war on drugs by sentencing users to do their time south of the wall until America is so drug free, the cartels will go out of business. We’ll be crime free by 2023.
  • Promote the concealment of all e-mails, letters, diplomatic packets, phone calls and texts from the American public who really have no business spying on their own government during sensitive negotiations with rogue governments, unruly Senators and Representatives, or rich people who are willing to kick in a few bucks for better government considerations.
  • Unleash Wall Street so that it can truly become the Las Vegas of the east. Let them do what they do best under an investor beware philosophy. Don’t get in the game if you can’t afford to lose your shirt.
  • There are a lot of countries out there who only respect force. Force is good for our military industrial complex because it means jobs for the common man and woman who screw bolts on new tanks and it means a larger military which means jobs for people who would otherwise be in jail or on the county or hoping Uncle Sam will pay their college tuition. We need an invasion every year or so to stay on top of our game.

Molasses, who has been married fifteen times, says “my love life is evidence I can sweet-talk anybody into my bed. That’s the first duty of a great President.”

Baker told reporters that he knew Molasses fight to get noticed would be an uphill battle since the major candidates are saying so many outlandish things, “they already have CNN or FOX news in bed with them.”

“When elected President,” said Molasses, “I’ll guarantee that every man, woman and child will receive the minimum daily requirement of Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Sodium, Zinc along with 14.74 g of carbs and 1.213 kcal of energy from the department of agriculture. After all, that’s what I’m made of.”

JockTalksPoliticsStory filed by Jock Stewart, Special Investigative Reporter