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Sunday, February 09, 2003

Tête à Tête

It had to happen sometime. No matter how diligent my vigil, no matter how carefully I try to protect myself from harm I suppose that it was inevitable that I would one day see an episode of The Osbournes. As with so many other TV disasters that I have endured, the vessel of my life struck this particular cultural iceberg while I was working out at my gym.

As the winter seems less and less like it will go on forever I have been overcome with a sort of existential dread at the thought of biking up the mountain passes of Washington. I have been attacking my exercise bike rides with a not-getting-any-younger panic because I know that the more work I do now the less time I’ll spend in the emergency room with a tube down my throat this spring.

I always bring something to read on these stationary rides which allow me to kill two birds with one hour-long block of time. Today I brought along Jean Paul Sartre’s Les Jeux sont Faits, a novel that was heavily plagiarized by the film The Sixth Sense. Arch rat bastard André was just poisoning his wife in the book when someone decided to poison everyone in the exercise room by turning on The Osbournes. Instead of being my usual crotchety self and getting annoyed I decided that this would be a good challenge for my attention: France’s leading existentialist prophet versus a British-born low-rent American cultural icon. May the best man win.

Like all “reality TV” protagonists, Ozzie’s family members are a stupid and fatuous lot. I didn’t really give the show much of a chance. His kid, an overweight adolescent Elvis Costello impersonator, was hanging out at the beach with Ben Affleck. I wasn’t paying attention as to why these two were together. They showed Ozzie doing a rock show and then stumbling into his dressing room looking as if he had just taken 40 lashes. For the life of me I couldn’t figure out why anyone would see this as entertaining.

Sartre’s novel is a fairly simple tale of people righting wrongs here on earth after their untimely deaths. Part science fiction, part other-worldly romance novel Les Jeux Sont Faits is also fairly easy reading for students of French. I like to read out loud to strengthen my pronunciation skills and I was far enough away from the other patrons so as not to freak anyone out. The book is cut up into a lot of very short scenes, almost in screenplay format which made me wonder if it had ever been adapted into a film.

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