I'm a reader. More than watching television or movies, it's reading for me. I can do it on my back on the couch in the living room. Perhaps that's the easy way out. I don't know. In terms of newspapers, one that I find indispensable is ... be ready for a surprise ... The Wall Street Journal. Those who know me are surprised with this answer, especially after Rupert Murdoch bought the paper several years ago. I'll admit that I was watching to see if the news got intermingled with the op-ed and editorial positions, but so far, not only so good, but even better than before with the daily Personal Journal section, and especially the additional Weekend Edition on Saturday.
The Friday issue of the Journal includes "Arena," a terrific section for movies, television, music, art, books, theater, and more. It's a sophisticated tour of the arts. Just great.
A special treat now is the Saturday-Sunday issue, the weekend edition. In addition to the usual business, financial, and op-ed/editorial portions, "Off Duty" is a delightful romp through, well, being off duty. "Style & Fashion" usually includes a major interview/profile article on a major personality (Bianca Jagger for example), some fashionista is profiled with $800 tee shirts from a design house, and an "Eating and Drinking" section includes a recipe for some trendy offering. There's an opinion as to whether a Hermes or a Chanel watch is preferable (don't let the $5,000-$10,000 price tags bother you), and a tour of a small, family-owned winery in Burgundy. One of the highlights for me are the super-car reviews by a fellow who must have the greatest job in the world: traveling the world over to test-drive the stratospheric automobiles that stretch the limits of both performance and pocketbooks. This particular review is really interesting since is covers high-performance cars that also are luxurious but drive-able in real life and offer a price tag that's almost non-shocking these days at under $100,000 ... with the Lexus GS-F, the BMW M5, Mercedes AMG, and the Cadillac CTS-V models.
The "Review" section in the weekend edition of the paper is fantastic. Of course the front-page lead articles are carefully selected, and often are written by people from the National Review, "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion," in their own words. These are well-written intellectual articles, but are not the main attraction for lil' ol' me, now a social liberal and a left-of-center fiscal moderate.
An area of special interest to me inside "Review" is the "Books" portion. A recent group of these articles included these recaps: Treasures of Alexander the Great; Reusable rockets for space missions; Old scrolls that might be a lost book of Moses; "Tommy John" surgeries and how they are saving careers for major-league baseball pitchers; and a history of the Knopf publishing company. In addition, the "Weekend Confidential" covered Tom Petty, of the "The Heartbreakers" and his hard road to stardom. His life story sounded like a musical version of "The Great Santini," with a air-force military man-turned insurance salesman taking his frustrations out on his damaged but future star rock 'n' roller son.
Another weekly "Review" included books on "Jack" Ma, the Chinese Alibabi billionaire; Thomas Jefferson; and the hit play, "Hamilton;" along with "Selected Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder." The "Weekend Confidential" interview featured the inventor of a high school robotics competition. Of course the "National Review" headline piece was there on the front page: A call for a national sales tax to replace the progressive income tax system in place. Everyone could ditch the IRS forms. What's not to like about that! The wealthy would pay based on consumption, not on their income, and most would owe much less than they pay now (unless they bought scads of "yuuuge"yachts, 737s, or fifty-million dollar mansions). However this would require lower-income citizens (and non-citizens) to pay an additional tax on nearly every single purchase, effectively taxing the poor more and the rich less. But hey, it is the National Review. It is The Wall Street Journal. It is Rudolf Murdoch. Get over it. These things are at least thought-provoking, and they don't reduce politics to the present lowest denominator of sound bites and over simplification. The Journal still is a great newspaper.