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Let's browse magazine-rack sports publications, see what's new. The usual way of going about this is to slog over to the chain bookstore nearest your kitchen (Barnes and Noble, on this occasion), order a café latté, and take a position before their 30-foot magazine rack. Purists will seek out sports magazines that have no connection to football, baseball, basketball, golf, hockey, or NASCAR.

And, yes, right away, my eyes lock on Tactical Knives, a bimonthly from Harris Publications. The photo on the cover shows a lethal 11-inch, open-blade knife alongside the caption: First Look. Combat Ready! MOD's Nightwing on Duty Now. The cover also promotes New Sigarms Sigtack Knives and Escrima Folding Dagger Upgrade. And here, on page four, is a message from Steven Dick, editor-in-chief. I'm drawn to it by a photograph of three folding knives. The caption reads, "There are many reasons why a person might enjoy carrying one of the French folders besides extreme edge retention." I attempt to guess the many reasons: Reason (1), weight; Reason (2), manly good looks; Reason (3), there is no reason three...I'm stumped. This causes me to suck air and read Mr. Dick's column, wherein I learn that when shopping for a knife always ask, "What is the Rockwell hardness?" And if I don't hear an answer of 54, 55, or higher, then it's time to slit the bastard's throat.

I spy a full-page ad calling me to the NTOA Tactical Operations Conference at the Las Vegas Hilton, where I'll be able to take seminars in "Cell Extraction for Resistant Prisoners in a Custody Facility," "Suicide Bombers," "Low Light Shooting," plus, of course, the Awards Banquet.

Feeling better, I turn to a luscious photographic representation of the Nightwing knife, spread over two pages like a naked hooker reclining on a chaise lounge. The headline says, "MOD's new Allen Elishewitz Blade Is Ideal For Real Life Needs Of The Modern Combat Soldier." The author, Leroy Thompson, has killer opening lines: "I like Masters of Defense (MOD) knives quite a bit, to the extent that I carry a Small Tactical Fighter model with me virtually all of the time. I also use the heavy-duty COD Folder as well as the automatic version and the fixed blade Mark V ATAC."

These people are out there, walking their dogs, driving on public highways, standing in the Vons checkout line, even as I write this.

I pick up a copy of Automatic, which is headquartered in Encinitas. It's a glossy-cover mag dealing with skateboarding. I like some of the articles, particularly "Stranded & Beaten in Tucson 48," but it's the department "Forward" that turned me into a fan. Rather than the normal unreadable dreck found in the usual editor's message to readers, we have "Once again I find myself apologizing for the content of the last issue. I really don't know how the whole 'Inner Child' theme came to be, but right from the get go I realized that it was probably one of the most retarded ideas we have ever actually gone through with. By the time we recognized how bad an idea it really was, it was too late to turn back. We are total retards." I vow to subscribe.

Kiteworld is a magazine about kiteboarding. Cover says, "Learn to Grab Like a Pro! Nuclear and Tail Grab Guides Inside." This is another 100-page-plus glossy, published bimonthly in Encinitas. The following stories are promoted on the cover: "Vari the Wave Slayer. Vari Defies Death Amid Monstrous Waves." "The KGB Bible. All You Need to Know Before Buying your Landboard." Inside, ads hawk expensive sunglasses, Protest Novastar flip-flops, Oxbow Disco Palm T-shirts, brands and products I've never heard of. Looks like a winner.

Finally, I have in hand the second issue of SLY, Sylvester Stallone's magazine, at least to the extent he's listed as editorial director, a position of indeterminate responsibilities. SLY is published by Weider Publications, which is, I'm sure you'll want to know, a subsidiary of American Media Inc., the enterprise that owns the following quality magazines: National Enquirer, Star, The Globe, Weekly World News.

SLY is a big, thick, glossy. Very few ads. Lots of what they call WARMUP pages on topics of wine, cigars, diet, entertainment, interviews, DVD reviews, movie reviews, book reviews...whoa, better rein in here. By movie reviews, I mean a 63-word discussion of The Limey; by book reviews, I mean a 58-word review of The Wood and Canvas Canoe.Still, there are feature articles, some not written or inspired by Mr. Stallone. Of eight features, half were about or by Stallone. Now add Stallone's Editor's Letter, his replies on the Letters-to-the-Editor pages, and an omnipotent presence throughout the magazine by way of his various health, nutritional, and book advertisements, and you can see why the magazine is modestly named.

I liked it.

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