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Showing posts from December, 2013

I, Gym-Rat Tribute

I'm a jaundiced consumer of marketing messages. Sales don't impress me, corporate incentive programs rarely catch my eye, and I save money when shopping by not buying anything--I can swing through Macy's or a mall and enjoy the shopping experience without actually buying stuff to clutter my life. But a marketing pitch that combines simplicity and cleverness can grab my attention. And even inspire a blog post.

So here I am, gazing with fevered curiosity at a program that I picked up at the Westport branch of the New York Spots Club yesterday. Do I have what it takes to "TRAIN LIKE A TRIBUTE-CAN YOU SURVIVE THE GAMES?" Today's the deadline! Order now at the low, low price of $105 for four one-hour sessions! Should I?

NYSC, employing nothing more advanced than a black-and-white printer, caught my eye with a deal for a fitness program geared to The Hunger Games. As fate would have it, I read the book about six weeks ago and greatly enjoyed it. Now, here's the…

The Alt-Alt-History: Nelson Mandela and Lavrenti Beria

In retrospect, history is a series of what-ifs, branching out from key points from what did happen to the unknown possibilities of what never happened. Alternative history explores that. One of the great questions of recent decades—simple because it involves one man and his fate—was, “what would have happened if Nelson Mandela had survived his captivity?” His death in the early 1960s, during his confinement at the Robben Island prison, has intrigued historians. Had he survived, the consensus view is that he would have been released in the early 1970s as a goodwill gesture, after renouncing violence. Most likely, he would have survived after his release as a minor figure, respected but mostly forgotten, visited primarily by foreign college students and displaced by a new generation of activists.

Other more radical views assign a greater role to Mandela in freedom. Students of missed opportunities wonder that the easing of the Cold War through the 1950s and early 1960s might have led the…

Before Lena Dunham (Girls), There Was Lena Nyman (Yellow)

The slow-building surge of publicity for the third season of HBO's Girls is beginning, with ads, cast profiles and soon, no doubt, magazine covers. Lena Dunham knows how to capture an audience. I find Girls' characters sometimes tedious, but the series is compulsively watchable -- and I can identify with some of their concerns? After all, I spent my 20s in Brooklyn, fresh out of college and scraping for work and romance as a creative type, back in the Jurassic Age.

While I'm waiting for the new season, I'm wondering about the significance of the show. The NY Times can scarcely go a day without mentioning it in some context. So daring, so of the era it is.

But how controversial and pathbreaking is Lena Dunham compared to another Lena -- Lena Nyman, who starred as "Lena" in the 1967 Swedish movie I Am Curious (Yellow), which was banned from being imported into the U.S. for being obscene. I remember reading about the obscenity case as a kid and I was always, wel…