[Flashback] Guy Stuff

Okay, I said I was finished with my old newsgroup, and I am, but I’ve found a few things from other defunct newsgroups I wanted to preserve here. This one is from a private newsgroup, originally posted September 30, 2012.

Back in July, right around my birthday, I started getting mysterious packages in the mail. Someone had signed me up for a cosmetics trial offer, the Book of the Month Club, the North American Hunting Club, and several magazine subscriptions.

The cosmetics I returned — the first two packages included return labels, and the other two I didn’t open, I marked them “Refused, return to sender.” The books — I contacted BOMC and explained the situation, and they said to just keep the books, it wasn’t worth the postage to ship ’em back. The hunting people have been a pain in the ass — they won’t cancel my membership or take anything back unless I provide a membership number, name and address isn’t sufficient, and the only package from them I opened (it didn’t say who it was from on the outside) didn’t have a membership number. It’s probably in one of the subsequent mailings, but I haven’t yet gotten around to looking.

The magazines started showing up at various times, starting in July but at least one didn’t show up until September — hell, there may be more yet to come. So far, I’m receiving Yachting, ESPN the Magazine, Chevy High Performance, and Forbes. Oh, and North American Hunter, which comes with the club membership — which is apparently a lifetime membership, if I read one as-yet-unopened envelope correctly.

I’m not going to bother cancelling the magazine subscriptions — even assuming it’s possible, why should I? It’s easy enough to just trash ’em if I don’t feel like reading them, and I’ve had fun glancing through some of them. Whoever signed me up probably used surplus airline miles or something; I haven’t gotten any bills.

Anyway, when this first started, I had no idea what was going on, and was worried that it was some sort of attack. I noticed that a couple of items said stuff had been charged to “my” American Express card, so I checked both my AmEx accounts. (I have a lot of credit cards — I’m perfectly willing to take sign-up bonuses, then just toss the card in a drawer and let it sit until they cancel my account for non-use. Except some of them never cancel, so I have some accounts I have literally never used since the original sign-up purchase that are still open after twenty years or more. Two of those are AmEx.) No charges. Then I noticed that the BOMC slip gave the last four digits of the AmEx card, and they don’t match any of mine.

I put an alert on my credit reports anyway, just in case.

But as time passed, and nothing bad happened, I began wondering whether this was someone’s idea of a surprise birthday present. I now think that’s the most likely explanation, as everything started arriving the week of my birthday.

If it was any of you guys, this would be a good time to ‘fess up.

Anyway, whoever it was turns out to have done a favor for Our Boys in Uniform. A friend’s son-in-law is currently commanding a small outpost in the ass end of nowhere in Afghanistan, and his mother-in-law is putting together care packages — non-perishable snacks (we donated a package of jerky and a bag of mixed nuts), and stuff to read. “Guy stuff,” she said.

So I donated the three issues of Chevy High Performance, an issue each of ESPN and N.A. Hunter (I’ve only received two of each so far and I’d already tossed one of each), and a random copy of Guitar Player Julie had picked up somewhere. I didn’t really think Yachting or Forbes would go over all that well with a dozen enlisted men, so I kept those.

I hope some of the guys will enjoy them.

Incidentally, I did glance through everything before disposing of it. You need to be a serious fan of Chevy muscle cars to care about anything in Chevy High Performance — it’s in the running for “most boring magazine I ever saw” — but maybe some of the guys are serious fans of Chevy muscle cars.

ESPN was surprising — I’m not a huge sports fan, but I like baseball, so I read some of that, and it’s very well-written stuff that never descends into hero worship or excessive stat-crunching. Beats the heck out of Sports Illustrated, which I’ve read in the dentist’s waiting room. The survey of baseball players’ wives was really pretty interesting — only 10% of them admit to worrying about their husbands indulging in groupies.

N.A. Hunter wasn’t quite as boring as Chevy, but it came close; the writing’s a bit better.

Forbes is bizarre — their stuff is all based on a worldview I consider reality-challenged. And for such a prominent magazine, some of the writing is astonishingly poor.

Yachting is almost surreal — do you know what those things cost? Even a fairly moderate boat will set you back half a million, and an actual yacht is seven or eight figures. Most of the magazine is ads selling boats — if you ever want to drop $23mil on a hole in the water, I can now hook you up.

And Guitar Player I only had the one issue, but my Lord, it’s technically oriented! They interview a rock star, and instead of asking him any of usual crap, they ask stuff like, “What was the signal chain on that track?” Meaning, “exactly what was the sequence of devices from the guitar string to the final recording?”

Weird. They’re all glimpses into these strange little jargonated subcultures.

Follow-up, 2017:

There were indeed more magazines that showed up later: Men’s Health and Men’s Fitness. I forget which was which, alas; one was good stuff, the other fairly trashy with a faint homoerotic tinge that did not appeal to me. I kept the good one until the sub ran out, and gave the other away by sending a change of address directing it to the intended recipient’s home.

I also redirected Forbes to one of Julian’s friends who was studying business. Can’t remember whether I was able to re-home any of the others.

All the subscriptions ran out years ago. I still look at Yachting and ESPN when I stumble across them, though — Yachting turns up in medical waiting rooms, for some reason, and there’s an empty house down the street with a subscription to ESPN that Julie sometimes steals when the mailbox there overflows. ESPN is still one of the best-written, best-edited magazines around, far better than it ought to be.

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