Someone has given me a subscription to Esquire magazine.

Thanks, whoever you are!

Minka Kelly is the Sexiest Woman Alive, according to the cover of the November issue.  Before my copy arrived in the mailbox, I did not know this.  I didn’t even know who Minka Kelly was until Esquire connected the dots for me.

Esquire is a pretty hefty mag.  You could definitely bop somebody with it.  “Ow!  Stop hitting me with Esquire magazine!”  That’s what they’d say.

Dang.  I’ve already used up my allotment of exclamation marks. Good writers hardly ever use exclamation marks.  I learned this in Famous Writers School.

Famous Writers School is also the title of a terrifically funny novel (Counterpoint, 2006) by Steven Carter.  You should order it from Amazon right now exclamation mark.

Once you’ve finished staring at Minka’s bare midriff, the November issue doesn’t exactly get off to a promising start.  The fold-out cover is part of a four-page spread of deliriously bad advertising for “a unique luxury resort in the heart of the Las Vegas strip.”

I’ve never been to Las Vegas, but I’m clear on the concept.  This ad makes me want to find the people who created it and bop them with a rolled-up copy of Esquire.

Ah, this is more like it.  My man Bono and Mrs. Bono, pimping Louis Vuitton.  Mr. and Mrs. Bono have just landed on the African veldt.  The bush airplane in the background gives the photo a little of the old Hemingway frisson.  Mrs. Bono is quite lovely exclamation mark.

I was describing this ad to a friend and she asked me what Bono was doing in Africa.  I said he was trying to get away from James Franco.  I kid, James Franco, I kid.  You are ubiquitous, but certainly not as annoying as, say, Kid Rock.

If you get lost in all the craptastic ads for Hilfiger, Dolce & Gabbana, Movado, etcetera, Esquire will safely lead you to actual content.  On p. 18, there’s a big block of text that says THIS WAY IN.  It’s where the letters to the editor begin.  This month, the first bunch of letters is about … James Franco exclamation mark.

Page 18 also has some teasers for items to come.  “The best shoes for climbing Mount Kilimanjaro page 28.”  I wonder if Esquire sends the Hemingway estate a check every month.

The worst thing about Esquire?  Easy.  The cologne samples.

Fellas, I know all these glossy pages cost money to generate and ad revenue is down for everybody.  But the fumes make me ill.  Tearing the samples out of the magazine doesn’t help, because it’s already stunk up, as The Beaver would say.  Please work the problem.

I guess I’m just not an Esquire kinda–

Whoa.  There are women in this magazine.  Not just Autumn Reeser (p. 40) and the fetching Minka (p. 120), either.  How about THE SEXIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD (p. 132).

I’d like to be looking at the SWITW right now, but the last time I opened the magazine I got light-headed.  Not from the SWITW, but from the lethal chemical stew of Versace, Polo, Yves Saint Laurent and Gucci (Franco again double exclamation mark).

I just fact-checked that last paragraph, and now my eyeballs are bleeding.

By all means, read Esquire.  Especially if you can get it for free.  It’s chock-full of interesting stuff, and the occasional non-snarky writer shows up, too.

I’m looking forward to reading the piece by C.J. Chivers (p. 138).  It’s adapted from his new book, The Gun, which details the military’s fatal decision to make the M16 the standard firearm for troops in Vietnam.

Most of the time, though, Esquire is just being Esquire up in your face.

Everybody in Esquire is, like, five times too sexy.  It’s like visiting a parallel universe where everyone has perfectly symmetrical features, zero body fat, impeccable taste and no sense of smell.

Ideally, one should read Esquire while wearing scuba equipment.  The kind divers wear at the North Pole.  Prolonged exposure to the magazine without a regulator mouthpiece is not recommended.

Intrepid individuals, however, will learn stuff, like how much bacteria is on the typical hotel bed (p. 48) and how much of your watch should show out of your shirt cuff (p. 66).

Esquire, it’s late and I think you’ve had too many foolproof, well-balanced cocktails (p. 42) to drive.

Sure, you’re the man.  Now shut up and give me the keys, Slick.

John Hicks lives outside the city limits, where eagles dare.

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