New York Times Magazine, Nov. 28
Can money buy a sports career? IMG Academies is banking on it. For about $22,000 a year, kids hone their athletic skills in an individual or team sport, practicing at least four hours a day. Add to that $12,000 a year for academics, $500 an hour for private coaching, and other expenses like media training, and parents can spend $70,000 annually in an attempt to morph little Jimmy into the next Derek Jeter. "The coaching at IMG is … undeniably first rate. … But on many other levels, IMG can be viewed only as the epicenter of a sports culture gone mad." In 10 years, only one of about 80 IMG baseball students has been plucked for the baseball draft.... In another piece, frequent Slate contributor Clive Thompson dissects the genius of Cranium founder Richard Tait. "[B]y zeroing in on America's insatiable thirst for self-esteem, Cranium appears to have discovered the paradox that gets kids and families playing again: a game where no one loses."—J.H.P.
Chow, Holiday 2004 This new, high-brow-meets-low-brow food magazine fills a niche others don't by offering articles like one on the gourmet cheese black market. For Camembert aficionados looking to snag that fine, young cheese outlawed in the U.S. due to high bacteria levels, "Don't act like you're doing a drug deal" when inquiring at your local cheeserie. Instead, play it cool, asking, "Might you have anything a little more ... special?"... Slate contributor Sara Dickerman offers tips on how to prepare your turkey, complete with crisis intervention. "If your bird is still totally frozen two hours before your guests arrive, well, you're kind of screwed here. Run to the grocery store and hope you can find a few turkey breasts on the bone."... The front of the book offers quirky holiday advice on things like "How to feign delight when opening a gift," but in this premiere issue the magazine is still working out the kinks: To maximize your Thanksgiving Day gorging potential, it recommends, "Don't each much that day."—J.H.P.
Weekly Standard, Nov. 29 The magazine defends CIA Director Porter Goss in light of the recent flare-up that led to the resignation of two top CIA officials, as well as what was perceived by some news media as a controversial e-mail to staff. The article supports Goss' impending transformation of the agency, saying, "These changes are long overdue. And though you wouldn't know it from recent media coverage, many CIA officials support them."... Another article assesses Condoleezza Rice's new role as secretary of state, saying diplomacy is an "urgent task," but her first order of business is to enforce her views—and the president's—on policy in "Iraq, Israel and the Palestinians, the pursuit of democracy in the Middle East and Arab countries, Iran, North Korea, and who knows what else." The challenge is for her to "impose these policies ... without touching off a revolt or clandestine efforts to undermine the president, such as occurred at the CIA."—J.H.P.
The New Yorker, Nov. 29 The magazine releases its annual cartoon issue, complete with the traditional caption contest and a spread especially for Thanksgiving. Jonathan Franzen presents an ode to Charles Schultz, calling him "the best comic-strip artist who ever lived," and describing the important role Schultz played in his own youth. ... Janet Malcolm offers a sensitive tribute to the humble radio personality, George Jellinek, known for hosting the opera radio program The Vocal Scene for the last 36 years. When she asks him about his legacy, he admits, "I have not done anything that passes the test of immortality. Great artists pass this test ... I have done nothing like that. I've done a number of clever programs."... Another writer shadows a U.S. Border Patrol officer as he tries to capture illegal immigrants, revealing the difficult task at hand. In this officer's territory, "[n]o more than forty agents are ever in the field at once—one per ninety square miles."—J.H.P.