I subscribe to Outside Magazine (website: www.outsideonline.com) not because I’m the most robust, outdoorsy person or that all the articles appeal to me-some don’t, in fact, but I usually read them anyway-for the writing. All of the writing is outstanding, so even if the subject doesn’t interest me I can ride a wave of better than exceptional prose and far-over-the-top vocabulary and learn about some subjects I wouldn’t have otherwise if I didn't bother to read them. Some articles are about extreme activities, some human interest stories, and some are funnier than hell.
Normally I do need to look up a word or two I find in each issue, so to my delight, in the November issue article On the Origin of Species, written by Michael Roberts uses the word “sastrugi”. The article explains why Steve Martin’s new movie The Big Year, in Martin’s irreverent style perhaps -I haven’t seen it-may garner some long-overdue respect for bird watchers. But Roberts uses the word describing a skier. What the hell? I’m a skier and have certainly never heard that word. But the beauty of learning it that way, as a delightful surprise, is that I’ll never forget it. Go ahead-look it up!