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Sex-Sex-Sex-Sex

Su Lum

I’m reading “Middlesex,” the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Jeffrey Eugenides, a wild and wonderful book in which the narrator is a hermaphrodite, raised as a girl and turned into a boy (circumstances still to be revealed) at age 14 but is not really either one. Traveling back in time to trace the history of his mutant genes, Cal (who was born Calliope) introduces the reader to his paternal Greek grandparents who were, in fact, brother and sister. Cal describes their adventures in America when they seek sanctuary with his great aunt in Detroit in 1919 – the aunt who becomes his maternal grandmother.The characters and the description of the times are detailed and riveting, and underlying it is sex, the couplings that brought Cal into the world. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far, four stars.Meanwhile, poking around at Take 2 Video, I decided to rent the first season of “Sex and the City,” an HBO comedy that I’d never seen but had heard enough about from my co-workers to feel out of the loop.Whoa! Seeing “Sex and the City” reminded me of the quantum leap when, after about a decade of popular music dearth, I turned on the radio and heard Marvin Gaye singing “Sexual Healing.” Or seeing airbrushed Playboy nudes and 10 years later seeing shots taken deep in the grottos. “Sex and the City” is funny and clever, about four successful women in New York whose clocks are ticking not so much in the reproductive sense but for finding a meaningful relationship. In their quest, they engage in marathon bed hopping, with nary a mention of condoms or STD consequences – hell, even I know about that. We’ve come a long way, baby, but where are we going?By the time I finished watching the second season, I realized that it would probably have been better to limit myself to one episode per week, as it had been aired, since I was overdosing on these ladies whose major occupations (precious little was said about their careers/jobs) were excessive power shopping and screwing, longing for the good guys but falling for the cads.I decided to kick “Sex and the City” and focus on “Middlesex,” but I got curious when I saw in the TV schedule that TBS was running a watered-down version of “Sex and the City.”Like, how can you WATER IT DOWN? Between the profanity and the fornication, a half-hour “Sex and the City” episode would have to be whittled to five minutes to make it acceptable on national television.The answer was a blitz of commercials. Six at the beginning, nine (count ’em!) at halftime and six at the end – 21 ads (often, the worst offense, repeated) replacing the most explicit expletives and simmering seduction and sex scenes of the original version, while still keeping in enough titillation to trigger the warning “Viewer discretion advised.”I’d definitely recommend the uncut HBO series over the TBS censored one, but I’d recommend the book “Middlesex” over both of them. Now there’s a story I want to find out the ending of, something I can’t say for “Sex and the City.”Su Lum is a longtime local who is easily unimpressed. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.