by John Walters
1. Exile in Whoville
That Ted Geisel, alias Dr. Seuss, was a subversive genius. He ostensibly gave us a short Christmas film with mad rhymes, a funny song, and an ugly green villain. But actually he gave us a parable about how a society never allows a hostile interloper to compel it to compromise its values.
The folks in Whoville were robbed of their Christmas items, but not their Christmas cheer. Why? Because they understood what Christmas is all about: peace on Earth, good will toward men, and far better deals on items after December 25 (our dad used to annually offer us far more toys if we just staged Christmas a few days later; we never took him up on it; we were dopes).
Anyway, someone emails an anonymous threat to the LA Unified School District yesterday and instantly the LAUSD closes down all 900 of its public schools, keeping 640,000 students at home (no snow days in LA, but “credible threat” days). The “terrorists” are not aiming to kill every last American; they’re aiming to put us into a panic that is wildly disproportionate to the the threat that they may pose. Yesterday, they won. And they weren’t even the ones who emailed the threat.
Not only was the threat a hoax, but it was also sent to school officials in New York who dismissed it as “outlandish.” California congressman Brad Sherman (D) said, “There isn’t a single person on the street who could not have written this. Every person in Nebraska could have written this.”
We get it: southern California is on edge after San Bernardino. But any loser with an agenda can spout off a few verses of the Koran and then go on a killing spree. Charles Manson was a “terrorist,” by that definition. Panic is their real weapon.
2. Cirque El Jerk du Soleil
Top moments from last night’s 5th Republican debate of 2015 (the one political event for which Marco Rubio has perfect attendance), staged in Las Vegas:
— Rance Preibus: GOP chairman, world czar of a post-apocalyptic planet in a sci-fi thriller, or anatomical name for a naughty body part? You decide.
—Donald Trump: Advises killing innocent family members of Muslim terrorists. Um, that’s a war crime.
—Ted Cruz: Advises carpet-bombing ISIS strongholds. Um, that’s also a war crime. Revises it to “targeted carpet-bombing,” which is like calling for a specified random drawing. Granted, the entire concept of “war crime” may be oxymoronic (or redundant; you know what I mean), but still…
— Ben Carson, M.D.: When not coughing, made an astute observation that Middle East has been a hot mess for thousands of years and for us to assume we’re going to fix it with a few bombs and shiny medals is “relatively foolish.” Smartest thing said all night. Of course no one seconded it.
—Jeb Bush: Tells Donald, “You’re not going to insult your way to the presidency.” Trump thinks, Maybe not, but I’ll come closer to it than you will.
—Trump: Said he wished “we had the 4 to 5 trillion dollars” that was spent on the Iraq War back to spend domestically. Also the smartest thing said all night. Carly Fiorina accused him of parroting Obama. Yes, but so what? He’s right. Of course Donald did not come back at her. It’s worse to agree with Obama than to be wrong, of course.
—John Kasich: May become our first flppered president.
–Everyone: Anxious to punch Putin in the nose.
Me, I thought Wolf Blitzer came out on top. There was a lot of Obama-bashing and Dana Bash’ing.
3. Star Wars: Fury Road
A classic adventure film from the Seventies that at least partly takes place in a post-apocalyptic desert gets a fresh coat of paint in 2015. But it does not have Charlize Theron, so how awesome can it be?
I’m not as fired up to see Luke, Han, Chewie and the robots whose names remind me of IRS forms that I forgot to fill out as most people, but I do think Carl Quintanilla of CNBC tweeted out sage advice: If you’re going to see the new Star Wars film, which opens Friday, do NOT read any review. Just walk into the theater, light saber in hand, blind to the plot.
By the way, if the Fed raises interest rates on the day that the Force Awakens film is released, that would be some high irony.
4. The Missing Couch*
*The judges concede that this would have been a decent Hardy Boys title for their college years.
You may remember Ethan Couch as the Texas teen who in June of 2013 stole beer from Wal-Mart with his buddies, then drunkenly (three times the legal limit) plowed his flatbed truck into four people who were fixing a flat on the side of an interstate, killing all of them. Or you may remember him as the punk whose parents hired a psychologist to testify that he suffered from “affluenza,” also known as “spoiled brat-itis.”
You may remember that instead of 10 years (or more) in prison, Couch got 10 years’ probation. You may remember that a video of Couch apparently playing beer pong, thus breaking one part of his probation, surfaced earlier this month. Well, now Couch and his mom are missing. It’s like Thelma & Louise, except Thelma would be played by Anthony Michael Hall. Stay tuned.
5. Bo’s Buh Bye
Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan, 67, who took the Badgers all the way to the NCAA championship game last April, retires effective immediately. My guess is that he was worried about having to face Monmouth in the opening weekend of the NCAAs. Barry Alvarez will coach the Badger basketball team for the rest of the season (won’t he?).
Our Top 5 “Bo’s”:
Not making the cut: Bo Flex, Bo Pelini, Bo Wallace, Bo Peep, Bo Ko Haram
Ride Captain Ride
Our first family dog was named Captain, and we got him less than a year after this song by The Blues Image was released. I think there may have been a correlation. Then again, my dad was a big Star Trek fan, so….
On The Town
TCM 9 p.m.
I’m tempted to point you in the direction of the Eighties classic The Princess Bride (CMT, 9 p.m.), but you’ve probably already seen that, so I suggest you take a peek at this 1949 classic starring Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra (your response being, of course, “As you wish.”). This film provides any tourist an introduction to New York, New York (“a helluva town/The Bronx is up/And the Battery’s down/The people ride in a hole in the ground“…. all still true).