Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Good Read/Bad Read

I don't get much time to read these days so, when I do find a few minutes, I want to read something good.  Something that will grab hold of my soggy brain and hang onto it!  Something that will overcome my fruit-fly-focus.  Most of the time, I am not successful (see Bad Read).  But every so often, I come across a book that I just cannot get enough of. 

The Good Read

Up in the Old Hotel by Joseph Mitchell
Joseph Mitchell was a journalist in New York City in the 1930s.  This collection (published, I believe, in 1993) includes stories from the New Yorker and from four books he had published over 30 years.  The stories give you a peek at New York City's crotchety, peculiar, special inhabitants in such a straightforward, but endearing way - it's fascinating!  There's a bearded lady, a child genius, a seafoodatarian (even then!), and an array of codgerly characters.  There is one passage that I was going to include verbatim, but it's too long and some of you might fall asleep while doing something dangerous - like pressure starts on page 409, if you are so inclined.  I have been reading it at every spare moment.  If you can get your hands on this book, I would highly recommend it.

The Bad Read

How many times do I have to repeat the same poor judgement?  Many times, it seems.  I was one of the early followers of Mary Janes Farm.  As a matter of fact, I met my friends Marianne and Rosie through the forum on her site, some six years ago.  Then, as all things Internet seem to go, she became an industry.  She became a frilly Martha Stewart, an organic Pioneer Woman.  When she first launched her magazine, it was charming.  Then it became cloying and downright silly.  In my opinion (all opinions stated here are mine and darn opinionated I am), her use of the term "Farm Girl" has completely lost touch with any farm reality.  Given, there's the caveat: "of the Heart" attached to Farm Girl, included, I assume, so that every girl of every age (and with deep pockets and a penchant to gluing lace on everything) can be the farm girl they dream of.  Why, for a yearly fee, you can belong to the Farm Girl Sisterhood!  Geez.  While she did reintroduce handcrafts, and gives "merit badges" to her numbered Sisterhood members, paying for it?  Just figure - you hand over $25 a year and get a number.  In order to hang onto that number, you keep handing over money every year.  Cha-ching! MaryJanesFarm.  (I am now stepping off my orange crate.) 

I have not read the magazine for years.  I tried to like it - I kept my subscription going but, after a while I just couldn't justify spending money on it.  Years later, along comes an offer in the mail to try it for free - no obligation.  What the heck?, I asked myself.  Maybe they've come to their senses.  NOT.  It is worse than before, if that is even possible.  It is cover to cover advertising and self promotion, with articles designed to disappear into the advertising.  The invoice (which I received BEFORE the magazine) was promptly sent back with "Do Not Continue" and "Not Vaguely Interested" written across from it.  Needless to say, I would highly recommend not reading MaryJanesFarm Magazine.


  1. I totally agree with your view on "Cha-ching! MaryJanesFarm". I susbscribed for the first time to the magazine last year and was REALLY disappointed, almost all ADS! And buying a membership, getting badges, etc., sigh. She's raking in BIG $$$ selling her sheets, etc. It's just too "yuppie homesteading" for me, like the "Pioneer Woman" Lee Drummond, cooking huge portions of very unhealthy foods and driving a monster suv. I'm all for capitalism, just don't cloak it in "little old homesteading me". I remember stumbling on Mary Janes first catalog/mag in a health food store when she was unknown and just selling backpacking food. I like the message board once in a while, but that's it...

  2. I agree with you! A friend let me read her "leftover" Mary Jane mags. Im glad I did so that I wont subscribe to it. I would however, say to check out Countryside mag. So far I have liked it pretty good. Articles written by farmers.

    1. I like Countryside, too - and subscribe to it. It has a lot of useful information and ways to do things that use ingenuity rather than your credit card.

  3. I've read Countryside too, good stuff!

  4. A niece gave me a subscription to Mary Janes Farm. Of course, I thought it was just me that was turned off by the contents. Glad to know an extremely intelligent person like you confirms that it's so far from reality as to be ridiculous.

    Also, thanks for the suggestion of a good read. That's always nice to have.

  5. Totally agree. I was on the site for a while and then got completely disallusioned. Left, won't go back. It has very little to do with being a 'farm girl' or even a 'farm woman'. Most there wouldn't know how to grow a garden if their life depended on it, or milk a cow? And you BET she's raking in some bucks. You know, my grandma was a daughter of a homesteader. She knew first hand about being a 'farm girl', and then a 'farm woman' and 'farm wife'. She would be horrified by what Mary Jane has done to those words. Don't want to give away my hard earned money.

  6. Ooops, Farmgirl #977 here! ;-)
    I actually started blogging because of the message boards, I figured my life is at least as interesting as some of the blogs I read. But the boards soon became boring and I haven't been on there in well over a year, ya'll are much more fun!! I sure do agree about the magazine too. Waaayy too many ads and most of the photos have been seen before...

  7. Agree agree LOL!!! Glad I'm not alone on the dislike one!

  8. I've flipped through that magazine a few times at the bookstore, but I never appealed to me. Too frilly and silly with no meat on its bones. I think its a very unrealistic approach to farm life.