Sunday, September 5, 2010

Martha, I am VERY Disappointed in You!

Stewart, casting a "Look! It's Elvis" spell, and taking your money while you're distracted.
During Friday's shopping marathon for my new shop space in Rancho Cordova, I, at last, spied Martha Stewart Living's Halloween Edition. Although I am not an avid follower of Martha Stewart, I eagerly look forward to this edition every year, and have used some of the ideas to good and creepy effect in my haunt.

This year, though, I was warned. Mr. Macabre's post, aptly titled: Nooooooo! Betrayed! I've Been Betrayed! Martha Stewart Living Halloween Handbook Review revealed Stewart's dastardly plan to re-package old ideas in a new cover and call it good. So I took a moment to page through the magazine.

I could have wept, I was so disappointed.

While there were a few (very few) new (to me; they may have been from issues I haven't seen, yet) ideas, about 98% had been regurgitated from Stewart's Halloween archives. If I were to be charitable, I would say that the magazine was aimed at catching new readers who had never seen the old issues. The fact that she completely abandoned us, the Halloween aficionados and her Halloween followers, makes me feel used and abandoned. And angry. After all, we know she has minions to search the web to rip our ideas off the boards and blogs, so what gives?

Generally, when I get angry, I rant at Mr. ShellHawk for awhile, and he either offers suggestions or (wisely) makes sympathetic noises and nods in the appropriate places. This time, I've decided to take action.

I would like ALL of my readers who are familiar with past issues of Stewart's Halloween Magazine (and as someone once said to me, "All means ALL, that's all all means!") both followers and lurkers alike to go out and look at this magazine on the rack. Leaf through it, and make up your own mind.

If you agree that the bulk of this edition is recycled content from old issues, I want you to do four things:

1) Leave a comment expressing your disappointment in the Halloween issue on this post. Please, keep it classy and only about the Halloween issue! I intend to write a letter in a week or so and include the link to this post. I would like Martha's minions to see a lot of comments! Hundreds would be good. Seriously. It only takes a minute, and you can leave your comment anonymously.

2) If you have a blog of your own, please blog about your disappointment and leave a link to that post here in my comments section. Please let your readers know about this post and include a link for them to follow, so they can join in and comment, too. Make sure to tag your post with Martha Stewart and The Best of Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook, as well as any other useful tags so that if others do a search, they'll see your post and not waste their money. I'll include a list of blogs in the letter I intend to write to Martha.

3) "Digg," Tweet, Buzz up or otherwise promote this post, so it starts to create a buzz.

4) Write a letter to Martha, expressing your disappointment and letting her know that we will not have the wool pulled over our eyes. Again, keep it articulate and classy. (No, "Martha! You suck!" Okay?) Use your spellcheck and grammar check, so we all look intelligent! ;o) Here's the email page link:

Yes, I am aware there are more important issues in the world to be upset about, and I'll post about one of those very soon.

Humor me, anyway!


  1. The only solace is that MS has some great new Halloween stuff out this year at Michaels and Joanns, but I agree that the magazine is a HUGE disappointment, especially since it was one of the first and most anticipated ( for me ) magazines on the rack.

    So glad that I don't subscribe anymore, because I would be kicking myself over the money wasted.

    And sorry to be tacky, since you asked us not to, but that cover photo IS very scary, as if RuPaul and Paris Hilton decided to have a baby and it grew up to be Martha.
    You can leave that out...

  2. It was very disappointing. Like you I bought on faith that it would be filled with new Martha goodness. 90% of the content will be familiar to even casual Martha fans.

  3. One thing to remember: when someone does something that pisses you off, don't assume they did it on purpose!

    Sorry, I gotta side with Martha here. As suprising as it may be, there are people who: Haven't read her magazine, are just getting interested in Halloween, and haven't yet realized what great Halloween ideas Martha has.

    And it say's it right on the front "The Best Of Martha Stewart Living: (big clue there). Not to mention that you could crack the cover to scan contects first (am I the ONLY one who does that?) There's no deception there.

    In fact I have the previous Halloween collection she put out years ago, and I love it, because I had never read the magazine at that point. This issue is for people who are like that.

    And really, the October issue of Living isn't even out yet, and it should have some new ideas.

    There's nothing wrong with her trying to market her ideas to a new group of people.

    Yeah I was briefly disappointed when I thumbed through it in the store. But jeez, I didn't take it so personally!

  4. I'm not doing ANY of those things. I'm terrified of Martha. She's just the type to send some of her people over to my house to cut me open like a fish for talking trash about her.

    ; )

  5. I felt the same sense of betrayal, disappointment and rage upon viewing this travesty. MSL's Halloween issue is the only decent Halloween periodical, the only one that seems to "embrace" the holiday. It may not be perfect, it may the occasional re-tread, but it doesn't fall into the cutesified trap so many other publications do. I look forward to this magazine all year, and to have this presented to me on the newsstand was offensive. Boo to you, MSL.

  6. I couldn't agree more. . . I wait all year for this issue and almost wept as a flipped through it. New cover, but same old same old regurgitated ideas and pics inside. How sad. Sorry Martha, this trick was no treat. Boo to you.

  7. Screamin' Scott- I actually did flip the cover and decided not to buy the mag. And I did point out that it was probably for newbies.

    That said, I can completely see how it seems like I took this personally, because it reads that way, for sure!

    I know the retread factor of the mag is about business and marketing. However, what I'm tired of (with Stewart being the final straw) is the part of our culture that says it's o.k. to sell people the same old thing, over and over("Best of" warning notwithstanding), and if you change the cover and add one or two new things, they won't notice. (Kind of like sampling Queeen's "Under Pressure" and trying to pass it off as an original song.) Since people don't seem to call corporations out on this marketing ploy, it keeps happening, and then we wonder why there's no innovation going on in the fields we're interested in.
    Martha has put out this Best of Halloween at least two years running (to my knowledge), with two separate covers. I feel that with the enormous resources she has at her disposal (how many millions is she worth?), she can expend the energy to find her readers something genuinely new to get excited about, and someone has to tell her she needs to step up. And hey, maybe she'll sell a bunch of magazines because of it. (And how many back issues might people get excited about finding and buying?)

    Oh, and did I mention I'm a ranter? ;o)

  8. I too was disappointed, especially after last year's lacklustre offering. I suppose I expected something stunningly original this year. When I spotted it on the shelf, I was ecstatic and snatched up a copy. But, having made impulsive purchases before and had them ending in crushing disappointment, I took a few moments to flip through the magazine. And then I quietly placed it back on the shelf.

    Good luck with your letter. And be careful. Rot makes a good point . . . <:O

    I still cling to hope for her October issue. :/

  9. Well said, Shelly.

    I understand the economy is rough and there are new readers every day that haven't seen those old Halloween issues, but a best-of should be something that she produces as a side effort every 5 years or so (even hard cover like she did in the distant past [I own it]). The whole point of magazines is that they produce fresh material for their readers. Especially since the bulk of their revenue comes from subscribers - people who have seen it all before, and who have been along for the ride.

    The only mag we're subscribed to now is Rue Morgue, and if that started pulling a best-of for their amazing Halloween issue, I'd go insane with rage.

    Also ranting.

  10. Rot,
    Thanks for your usual intelligent insight.

    I am not worthy! ;o)

    Thanks, everyone else who has commented. Please, keep spreading the word!

    Re: Ranting
    I am planning an off-topic rant (hopefully more of an intelligent essay, but rant will do, too) in the next few months. It may turn off some of my readers, but it's on a topic near and dear to my heart, and I think it deserves some time in the spotlight.

    I.e., I have not yet begun to rant! :o)

  11. I feel led to point out one thing. The publication you're talking about is clearly titled "Halloween Handbook: The Best of Martha Stewart", which clearly indicates it's a sort of Greatest Hits compendium. Why, then, is everybody so surprised that it's... well, a Greatest Hits compendium?

    It's clearly NOT an issue of Martha Stewart LIVING, much less the MSL Halloween 2010 issue (assuming there'll even be one).

    I honestly don't understand what everybody's so pissed off about, unless it's just that Miss Martha didn't come up with lots of awesome new stuff for us for 2010. If it's THAT, well, OK then. I'm on board!

  12. I think it's just disappointment, Chad. Her Halloween side-issues were pretty glorious things in a world where Halloween gets too cutesy. Her stuff had a dark side to it that most other magazines didn't. It was as much for kids as it was for adults - I'd even say more for the adult.

    So I think my personal frustration comes from having a taste of what she CAN produce. And really needing to see something new.

    I think I'm spoiled.

  13. I'd like to think that Martha and her staff in researching new projects have discovered all the amazing and talented Halloween artisans there are and just threw in the towel knowing they can't compete anymore.

  14. I just know Martha can do better. I was so disappointed to see this year's issue. I wait for it all year. Here's hoping next year's issue is chock full of the new and inspirational ideas I know Martha and the gang are capable of producing.

  15. I bought this book without looking inside. I should have known better. I was so excited to see this glimpse of Halloween on the shelves that I scooped it up without looking. (I actually made myself wait to read it until I finished some homework. What a disappointment.) I should have known better, though. Even if it had been the new October magazine it would have been more of the same. The last two to three Halloween-centric magazines have been regurgitating the previous ones.
    It's consumerism. No one says it's ok, but it's understandable. They took my money, and in the long run, isn't that all Martha's after? She did go to jail for it...

  16. 3 years running the halloween edition is a rehash of the same ol same ol.
    Aint paying for what I already have, and I have 10 years of Martha Halloween special mags.

    Way to screw the public for your empire martha
    It's a bad thing.

  17. At least they promoted it as a "Best of" this year. My beef is that the last couple of issues have ALL been "Best of" despite not being given the title, with only a handful of new things.

    And no I don't count the costumes as new ideas.

    Years ago, I would have easily engaged in a skirmish over the last copy of Martha Stewart's Halloween issue on the rack, because it was the ONLY Halloween magazine I bought religiously AND learned from AND genuinely loved.

    But after the last 2 years, I've given up on it. If I want old ideas, I'll look through my own collection of her magazines.

    If Fine Cooking Magazine can come up with completely different recipes and articles every year for their seasonal editions, Martha's team can come up with new Halloween ideas to publish in the magazine.

  18. I saw her October issue in Target yesterday - we were supposed to wait and see how wonderful it was, to make up for the cranked-out "best of"?

    Lots of ads, if you like ads... not Halloween ads, but...

    And I'm not all worked up about it, but am just disappointed.
    She knows what the season is about and knows how to do it as well as anyone can, but she doesn't, for some reason.

    She's conditioning Halloween junkies to stop looking at her magazine - to expect the best from somewhere else.
    The wasted potential to be the cream of the crop, from someone who has always seemed to be the cream of the crop, quality-wise, is the disappointing part.


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