Common Workout

Today as I was walking home I passed some kind of plus-sized exercise club on the east lawn of the Columbus Commons, getting ready to do some kind of group workout.  You’ll be surprised to learn that the sight offended me.

IMG_5279I’m all for exercise, but can’t it be done in the privacy of your own home, or in an enclosed space like a gym where the only other people exposed to your form-fitting exercise duds that really only look good on supermodels are the people who are paying monthly dues for that dubious privilege?  Apparently not!  No, these days people clearly feel a desperate need to exercise in public.  Whether it’s because they want to show off their exercise habits, or it’s because they’ve deceived themselves into thinking they look studly, or it’s because they believe the public element of the exercise will give them some added incentive to work just a little harder, random public acts of exercise are routinely inflicted upon innocent Americans.

This afternoon it’s the hefty group on the lawn of the Columbus Commons, wearing unflattering garb, grunting, groaning, and stretching the tensile resilience of Spandex to its maximum extent.  Tomorrow it’s a gang of shirtless male runners blithely spraying us with a halo of sweat and emanating a rank barnyard odor as they jog past on busy downtown streets during the lunch hour.  The day after it’s a woman in the airport waiting area doing self-conscious yoga poses and hoping that everyone watches her while she takes up more than her fair share of precious space at Gate C-26.

Do me a favor, will you?  Save your exercise for those private moments and leave the common public areas for the rest of us.

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A Song Of Fight And Ire

As a fan of the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin, I view the HBO series Game of Thrones as both a blessing and a curse.

The TV show is a blessing because it helps to fill the Westeros void as we wait . . . and wait . . . and wait for Martin to finish the next installment in the series of epic books.  It’s a curse because the course of the TV show is, increasingly, veering away from the established plot lines of the books.  The variances are both large and small.  Unless you have a complete recall of what happened in A Feast for Crows and A Dance With Dragons — something I cannot claim — you can’t even identify all of them.

There is no way that a TV show could possibly present all of the plot lines in Martin’s vast landscape of characters.  I can understand the Game of Thrones producers taking shortcuts in the storytelling and lopping out characters — like, apparently, the tale of the Iron Islands and Greyjoy clan and the post-death Cat Stark.  Even so, this year the TV show is treading on increasingly thin ice (and fire).  Sansa Stark back at Winterfell and betrothed to the sadistic Ramsay Bolton?  What the hell?  Jamie Lannister off to Dorne on a half-assed mission to retrieve his daughter?  Sir Barristan the Bold killed, and maybe Grey Worm, too?  And where is Bran Stark, anyway?

I still enjoy the TV show, because it is well done and the Martin-inspired tapestry is so rich.  But increasingly I view it as an alternative history of Westeros, the Wall, and the rest of the world, a tantalizing kind of “what if” approach to the characters we’ve come to enjoy while we all bide our time waiting for the release of the next book — which will tell the true story.  And when will that be?  Only George R.R. Martin knows for sure.