A Sporting Proposition


     ESPN magazine has recently released “The Body Issue” which appears to be its annual answer to the swimsuit issue that Sports Illustrated trots into view every February. Rather than showing models wearing nearly nothing as SI does, ESPN displays photographs of actual athletes who are posing nude, sometimes holding tools of a sport such a hockey stick or volleyball in front or behind their supple shapes. The editorial staff at ESPN will most assuredly defend the practice of publishing such photographs, undoubtedly indicating that their purpose is purely to display the muscular-toned glutes and abs of young men and women in all their natural glory, not to sell extra copies of their publication by pandering to perusers of prurient periodicals.

The popularity of that “skintillating” issue may spread to other magazines. One wonders what might happen if a publication such as Smithsonian or Mental Floss decided to assemble “The Mind Issue” with revealing photographs of the brains of notable figures in science, literature, architecture, music, and other fields. Readers might then be exposed to the following provocative images:

Thomas Edison’s cerebral cortex partially hidden by a cylinder record.

Herman Rorschach’s thalamus tastefully portrayed behind an ink blot.

John Maynard Keynes’s amygdala peeking over dollar signs.

Ayn Rand’s diencephalon bearing the burden of Atlas and his globe.

Gregor Mendel’s frontal lobe nestled amid pea pods.

Orson Welles’s corpus callosum artfully obscured by a sled.

Woodrow Wilson’s medulla showing seductively through a pince-nez.

Marie Curie’s neo cortex sprinkled with suggestive glow in the dark tracings.

Carl Sandburg’s foggy occipital lobe obscured by cat’s feet.

Ivan Pavlov’s hippocampus ringing out from under a bell dripping with saliva.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s cerebrum gushing forth from cantilevered falling water.

Wilhelm Roentgen’s parietal lobe racily dotted with XXX.

Ludwig van Beethoven’s basal ganglia lined with treble clefs.

René Descarte’s pons strategically positioned behind an isosceles triangle.

John Updike’s hypothalamus partially obscured by a running rabbit.

Georgia O’Keeffe’s cortical folding supporting a large iris petal.

Sigmund Freud’s temporal lobe dreamily perched behind a couch.

George Eastman’s cingulate sulcus sharply in focus behind a box camera.

Surely some shrewd editor could envision a gatefold showcasing the cerebellums of Orville and Wilbur Wright taking off with judiciously-placed propellers. Of course, some gray matters might exclude certain personages from consideration. How could an art department design a MacGuffin for Alfred Hitchcock’s anterior commissure? And John Paul Sartre’s axons and neurons would have to be revealed in their au natural state for how could a designer use nothing to conceal that being?

One marketing tip to any magazine wishing to adopt this modest proposal: Make sure the “The Mind Issue” hits the newsstands at the same time as “The Body Issue” and use a cover photo of the brain of Melville Bissell, inventor of the carpet sweeper, with this call out in big letters: “We Want to Clean Up, Too.”


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