Playboy’s magazine redesign
“I only read it for the articles,” is a popular defense of having a Playboy subscription, but for once, it rings true. Recently, the premier adult magazine moved away from full nudity for the first time since its 1953 debut issue. More impressively, though, the magazine did a total overhaul in the design department. Taking cues from art magazines, Playboy now comes in a slightly larger size with a matte finish. (If you look to your right, you can see the obvious aesthetic difference between the last issue published before the redesign and April’s issue.) Additionally, the inside contains ample whitespace that works well to highlight those articles—which, to be fair, are some of the best that print journalism has to offer. It’s a welcome change to see quality content (be it beautifully shot photography or cleverly written words) as the main focus in a top-tier magazine as opposed to flashy, cheap-looking design that places more importance on sidebars and doodles than it does anything else. Hopefully other magazine will take note. I’m looking at you, Esquire. [Becca James]
Iron Maiden’s The Book Of Souls world tour
I’ve been a fan of Iron Maiden for as long as I can remember. Though the group never laid claim to being the originators of heavy metal, Maiden’s fingerprints can be found all over the genre. Not only has it had a keen eye for branding—forcing bands of all genres to step up their iconography—it’s endured as one of the few metal bands that aged with grace, releasing late-period records that stand up to its early work. Case in point: last year’s The Book Of Souls. It’s Maiden’s 16th album—the longest of its career, no less—and has enough truly great songs to warrant its existence. It also gave me the chance to finally see Iron Maiden at Chicago’s United Center, on its tour in support of the album. Somehow, after all those years of anticipation, Maiden’s set surpassed the wild expectations I’d built up in my head.
After the lights went down, Bruce Dickinson was found center stage, standing on some ancient ruins, singing the introduction to “If Eternity Should Fall.” Once the band kicked in, I was able to take in the full majesty of Maiden’s over-the-top stage show. Between almost every song a new backdrop would be introduced behind the band, usually with a thematic tie-in for the tune the group was about to play. The mid-set inclusion of “The Trooper”—which features one of greatest riffs in all of metal, bar none—saw Dickinson don the garb of a British soldier while emphatically waving the Union Jack above the band, playfully harassing guitarist Janick Gers with it throughout. The band’s iconic monster logo Eddie made a pair of appearances: Once as a giant inflated version meant to replicate The Book Of Souls cover, and again to do battle with the band, only to have his heart ripped out by Dickinson, before it was gleefully flung into the crowd. Dickinson and the band paraded around stage like performers a fraction of their age, and the crowd ate up every bit of it. Fans throughout the crowd were singing and smiling—but so, too, was the band. During solos, song breaks, and huge choruses, the smiles adorning the faces of the aging rockers showed that, at an Iron Maiden show, no one is having more fun than the people up on the stage. Though it seems needless to say, if you have a chance to see Iron Maiden live, you best take it. [David Anthony]
Sticky Sounds Bluetooth speaker
For too long, surfers have suffered in relative silence, forced to imagine Jane’s Addiction’s “Stop” in their heads as they get barreled. No longer, thanks to the Sticky Sounds waterproof speaker, which floats and attaches to all manner of action sports equipment like surfboards. I don’t surf, but I do ride a bike, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the sound it throws off while I’m riding. Even the best Bluetooth speakers can sound tinny in windy or noisy environments, but the Sticky Sounds maintains a clear and neutral tone under less-than-ideal circumstances. I’m insanely out of shape, so when I do ride my bike, a thorough shower is required afterward. It’s nice to be able to take my waterproof speaker directly into the shower with me. Sometimes I play “Stop” and imagine myself as the black character that would have probably joined John From Cincinnati in a theoretical second season. [Joshua Alston]