"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 17 June 1997. Updated every WEEKDAY.

Cult Classic


[It's a yoga master!  It's a weenie!]

Brains or brawn - they used to be

mutually exclusive. And though

we're convinced it was ever

thus, some of our smarter

friends seem to be showing a

sudden interest in the gym,

while our more attractive

acquaintances are flirting with

intellectual interests. Chalk it

up to the Greeks, who haven't seen

this kind of public flattery

since the heady days of Olympia

Dukakis and George



[Pillars are the cornerstones to our society.  It just stands to reason.]

We're still hooked on classics.

And why not? There's something

about hat-stretching esoterica

that really puts the itch in our

pants. Whether it's classic

rock, classic literature, or

even Coke Classic, count us in

for this orgy of cultural

sophistication. If nothing else

comes of our summer reading, the

latest tomes from Pynchon and

Mailer are designed to look

pretty damn spiffy clutched

against this season's two-pieces

from Newport News. And even if

they give your arms more

exercise than your head, rest

assured that nothing's cooler on

the beach this year than the

modern classic Mason &

Dixon. We're proud - and

titillated - to report that a

healthy interest in the

foundations of Western

civilization isn't so much a

prerequisite for civic

responsibility as it is a way to

troll for potential partners.

And we're not talking platonic

book club here.


[She's feisty, she's dressed like a super-hero. Just like in the comic books.]

We're tempted to suggest that

Allan Bloom, the curmudgeon who

penned The Closing of the

American Mind a decade ago, has

had his revenge and we've

finally progressed beyond those

touchy-feely years when

Shakespeare, Descartes, and Bach

were dirty words, and "Dead

White Guys" became an accepted

synonym for "irrelevant." We

could lay the credit for the

classic comeback at the feet of

noble nitwits like Bloom and

Krauthammer, but only someone

with a Cliffs Notes criteria

would miss the coition in the

compositions. If the Great Books

are in, it's because they

contain plenty of the old



To the chagrin of right-thinking

cultural conservatives, the

vehicle for all this cult

neoclassicism is their favorite

whipping post, the TV. Indeed,

network television has been the

real vanguard of classic drama ever

since Isis and Shazam! Today, Hercules

and Xena are the dynamic duo who've

been throwing the rest of the

Sunday night lineup to the

lions. This, um, swelling of

interest in legend might spring

from the power that lies

barely-impounded behind Xena's

iron breastplate; and it's not

so much Hercules' hubris as it

is his hair. It's as if the

Spice Girls and Pearl Jam were

throwing a toga party every week

on UPN. And to be perfectly

frank, they're all endowed with

bulges of mythic proportions.


[He's dressed like a soooper hero.  He looks sillier than the woman above.  He takes himself too seriously.]

Not to be outclassed, NBC dropped

a lot of drachmas on their

made-for-TV miniseries, The

Odyssey. Homer's poem never

looked so good - or sounded so

bad. Which has us convinced that

MTV had something to do with

this particular production.

Perhaps you didn't notice the

reduction of one of the world's

finest pieces of literature to

an object-oriented CGI script;

maybe the distillation of an

archetypal epic poem into a

couple dozen declarative

sentences didn't strike you as

odd. But surely the casting

should have let the soldiers out

of the horse: Armand Assante,

Vanessa Williams, and

Bernadette Peters are all actors

better known for what they sit

on than what they say. And,

truth be told, they shake their

moneymakers in the faces of

Poseidon, Charybdis, Hydra, and

the rest of their Homeric homies

like there's no postmodern



[One, two, one two, *puff* *puff* Get on with it.  Your missing a great picture, silly person with no images.]

It's nice to know that chiseled

perfection is an aesthetic that

transcends time and place. Who

knew the heroes and gods of

Greek mythology were so hot? The

real question is why it took us

so long to see how sexy it can

be down at the gym to drop the

dumbbells and start pumping the

classic literature. Whether it's

The Iliad, The Aeneid, or even a

modern classic like Gravity's

Rainbow, doesn't make much

difference, as long as it

defines those pecs and firms up

those glutes.


That's right, just a few more

reps with that leather-bound

Septuagint. Now there's a Greek


courtesy of E.L. Skinner

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