Grist For The Mill

The New York Times recently ran a front page story promoting the fiction that a silly video had everything to do with the Benghazi massacre, ignoring the fact that Obama and his Secretary of State had consistently denied Ambassador Chris Stevens’ pleas for additional security, and then refused to deploy troops on a rescue mission the evening of 9/11/12.

Even liberals had to grasp it was the partisan rag’s way of ensuring that this time around nothing would come between Mrs. Clinton and her belated coronation. It was such a clumsy attempt to spin the facts, I’m rather surprised there wasn’t a single Democrat with the gumption to call them on it.

About 80 years ago, the Times’ man in Moscow, Walter Duranty, who was actually double-dipping by collecting a salary simultaneously from Joseph Stalin, wrote so glowingly about life under the Communist dictator, you would have thought he was filing reports from Heaven. Not too surprisingly, the Pulitzer committee, being even more biased in its left-wing politics than the DNC, gave Duranty the Prize in 1932.

Years later, even after all the embarrassing facts had come to light, the Times didn’t return the Prize. Instead, they left it up to the Committee, knowing full well that the journalism professors over at Columbia University were every bit as unlikely as Obama to admit to a mistake in judgment.

Recently, a reader, Joe Vincent of Cordova, TN, responding to a piece in which I had written: “Sean Penn accused Tea Party Republicans and conservatives in general of being uneducated, but, for the record, Penn’s own academic resume consists of dropping out of a community college after, by his own admission, taking a few classes in auto repair,” wrote: “It is amazing to see the CV of so many people in the acting profession who did not even complete a formal high school education.”

Naturally, being a champion of the underdog, I immediately sprang to their defense, pointing out: “That simply means that, unlike most liberals, they didn’t require indoctrination by left-wing professors. They managed to achieve total ignorance entirely on their own.”

The other day, I was struck by a news item reporting that a married couple, Summer and Steven Steele, had named their newborn son Crimson Tyde in honor of the University of Alabama football team. The most striking aspect of the story is that the proud parents were surprised to find that most people concluded they must be the end result of multi-generational inbreeding.

For my part, I wondered if they decided to spell their son’s middle name that way because they thought it made it look fancy and gave him a better chance of marrying into English royalty or if they simply didn’t know how to spell tide.

But the more I pondered their decision, the deeper into the swamp I found myself wading. I mean, what if circumstances compel them to move to a different state? Would they actually change his name to Gopher, Wolverine or Sun Devil? Also, if at some point in the future, Crimson Tyde decides to murder his parents, is there a jury in the nation that would vote to convict?

This past December, it occurred to me that the three Christmas movies that rank at the top in popularity, “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946), “Miracle on 34th Street” (1947) and “Christmas Story” (1983), all had difficult births, so to speak.

In the case of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” although the box office receipts were disappointing because, it was believed, post-war audiences craved reality, it still managed to garner five Oscar nominations, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director. Unfortunately, its competition included “The Best Years of Our Lives,” which was nominated for seven Oscars and won six. It was only later, when “Wonderful Life” was done as a radio drama and when, a few years after that, the copyright lapsed and TV stations realized they could air it for free, that the movie finally discovered its audience and achieved classic status.

In the case of “Miracle on 34th Street,” its studio, 20th Century-Fox, had so little faith in it, they released it in July. Still, it won three Oscars, one for supporting actor Edmund Gwenn, and two more for its story and screenplay. Again, though, it owed more to TV than the big screen for its enduring popularity.

“Christmas Story” might have enjoyed greater success prior to its move to TV except that theater owners never imagined that a low budget movie starring the likes of Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon and some kid named Peter Billingsley, would draw any kind of audience and, so, booked it for only a week in December in order to make room, no doubt, for some overblown piece of Hollywood schlock.
The fact that all these decades later, all three have become part of a tradition that includes carols, eggnog and mistletoe is something of a Christmas miracle.

Many of you have been kind enough to inquire about the surgery on my hand and wrist that had been postponed from mid-December by a troubling pre-op EKG that indicated arterial blockage. Well, I wound up having three more EKGs, and they all backed up the opinion of the first. But the ensuing Angiogram proved all of them to be false-positives, or in other words, liars. Clearly it was a criminal conspiracy that left me with 5 a.m. wake-up call, the necessity of donning one of those backless hospital gowns and a totally unnecessary hole in my groin.

But now that the original operation has been re-scheduled for the 17th of January, I merely ask that you all keep your fingers crossed; something I’ll be unable to manage for the foreseeable future.

©2013 Burt Prelutsky. Comments? Write BurtPrelutsky@aol.com.

Author Bio:

Burt Prelutsky, a very nice person once you get to know him, has been a humor columnist for the L.A. Times and a movie critic for Los Angeles magazine. As a freelancer, he has written for the New York Times, Washington Times, TV Guide, Modern Maturity, Emmy, Holiday, American Film, and Sports Illustrated. For television, he has written for Dragnet, McMillan & Wife, MASH, Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, Bob Newhart, Family Ties, Dr. Quinn and Diagnosis Murder. In addition, he has written a batch of terrific TV movies. View Burt’s IMDB profile. Talk about being well-rounded, he plays tennis and poker... and rarely cheats at either. He lives in the San Fernando Valley, where he takes his marching orders from a wife named Yvonne and a dog named Angel.
Author website: http://www.burtprelutsky.com/
  • Jeff Webb

    Best of luck, Burt. Until you return, I’ll put a little extra snark in my columns to fill the void. : )>

  • Gratefulconservative

    Good luck and God Speed, Burt. Here’s wishing you successful and fast healing; really enjoy your so similar thoughts on issues and current events!!!!

  • RickonhisHarleyJohnson

    Glad to hear the arteries are clear. The fun part of surgery is always the physical therapy afterwards. I’ve been fortunate to get good looking therapists. Hope you don’t get Nurse Ratched!

    As for Crimson Tyde growing up and killing his parents, no jury in Auburn would convict him. Best not get tried in Tuscaloosa, though.

  • John Young

    What Walter Duranty did was far more despicable than simply being a shill for Stalin. During the collectivization of farms in the Ukraine, several million people were left to starve in one of the worst winters of the 20th century. Duranty denied reports of the mass deaths and labeled those who reported honestly as fascists. Suffice it to say, The Times supported Duranty.

  • tarmac 492

    I actually remember seeing a Christmas Story in the theatre as an 11 year old. It definitely took that little film about 20 or 25 years to be considered classic. Would Obamacare cover the soap needed to cleanse children’s mouths from the disease of saying dirty words and phrases, such as capitalism, God and small government?

  • therealguyfaux

    “Christmas Story” might have enjoyed greater success prior to its move to TV except that theater owners never imagined that a low budget movie starring the likes of Darren McGavin, Melinda Dillon and some kid named Peter Billingsley, would draw any kind of audience…booked it for only a week…”

    “Yuh’ll shoot yerselves in the foot, kids…”