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Saturday, May 17, 2003   |    What's Up with That?

Ari and Aaron Exit Stage Right

by Josh Abraham

Well, it looks like it’s the week for Jews in the media whose name starts with “Ar” or “Aar” to leave the White House or, at least, a recreation of the White House on a Warner Bros. studio lot. Frankly, I find it uncomfortably chilling how often virtually identical situations like this happen at or around the same time. Like when Armageddon and Deep Impact both hit theaters within weeks, and then both of them sucked. Or Antz and A Bug’s Life competing to be the children’s movie that finally pushes my pathological phobia of anthropomorphized insects beyond “charming quirk” and into the realm of “clinical psychosis.” Or Britney and Christina both dyeing their hair brown, as if that would thwart my stalking efforts. Frankly, I find it uncomfortably chilling how often virtually identical situations like this happen at or around the same time.

In fact, there’s a whole list of things that come in twos that not only confuse me (and, therefore, are consequentially juxtaposed in my head time and again) but make me shake, sweat, and eventually pass out when trying to wrap my noggin around the cosmic statistics that produced two (2) improbable flukes.

For example:

One adorable actor with a wonky pituitary gland landing a hit primetime sitcom in the 80s about an inner-city black orphan adopted into a rich white household is about as big a spoonful as my appetite for implausibility can swallow. But two of them? That’s just so freakish, my head’s ready to explode.

Countries that start with “Austr” and end in “ia.” When the boatload of seafarin’ delinquents landed on a naked Aborigine and it was time to declare a name for their new land, surely somebody had at least heard of Austria, right? I mix these two countries up all the time, and it really wrecked my attempt to score a bargain on Priceline last summer. Well, it’s irrelevant now, as I am banned from both nations. Not only are their names so similar, but also they share laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol, tobacco, or firearms to minors. I guess they both just want to be like America. But, hey, who doesn’t?
Look, no matter how many times I learn it, I will never be able to distinguish stalactites from stalagmites, flotsam from jetsam, Flashdance from Footloose, meiosis from mitosis, or my Bubbe and Tzayde Smith1 from Bubba and Zadie Smith.

Anyway, it’s probably for the best that White House Press Secretary Aaron Sorkin is leaving his post, because he lost all credibility after that hallucinogenic-mushrooms-in-the-carry-on trick at the airport. And Ari Fleischer might as well leave before “The West Wing” resorts to the usual ratings-booster tactics: “President Bartlett, meet your new Cabinet member, Cousin Oliver.”

1 Gentile translation: “Bubbe” is Yiddish for “Gramma,” and “Tzayde” is Yiddish for “Grampa.”

Josh Abraham was born in Algeria in 1913. He spent his early years in North Africa, working various jobs—in the weather bureau, in an automobile-accessory firm, in a shipping company—to help pay for his courses at the University of Algiers. As a young journalist, his report on the unhappy state of Muslims in the Kabylie region aroused the Algerian government to action and brought him public notice. From 1935 to 1938 he ran the Théâtre de l'Equipe, a theatrical company that produced plays by Malraux, Gide, Synge, and Dostoevski. During World War II he was one of the leading writers of the French Resistance and editor of Combat, then an important underground newspaper. Abraham's fiction, his philosophical essays, and his plays have assured his preëminent position in modern French letters. In 1957 Abraham was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His sudden death on January 4, 1960, cut short the career of one of the most important literary figures of the Western world when he was at the very summit of his powers. No, wait. That was Albert Camus.