Tuesday, January 17


I have flown extensively on business most of my adult life and, for a time, flew in and out of Ontario Airport in Ontario, California, back when it more resembled a distended farmer's market than a modern-day commercial airport, and only a good bout of smog, common to the area, could obscure its harsher, dissonant attributes. I was reminded in the riveting, tension-filled, 4-hours', season-5 opener of Fox's "24" of all of the ramshackle airports I have killed time in (White Plains Airport is another that comes to mind) in my lifetime and the thought occurred to me: "What ungodly places to die in!"

In watching, along with some 16+ million other inveterate fans of "24" the Sunday-Monday night, 4-episode, season kick-off, I still don't know which was more disheartening: the death of TCU's (Counter Terrorist Unit) comely Michelle Dessler (played by Reiko Aylesworth) in a car bomb explosion in the opening minutes of the first segment or the memory of dreary Ontario Airport in the old days and the dreadful thought of being a terrified hostage held there in a nondescript terminal, forced face down on a dirty tile floor by hooded fanatics. It's a fate worse than a center seat on a filled-to-the-gills 737.

Sean Astin of "Rudy" fame joined the "24" cast in last night's episodes and, in recognizing Jack Bauer's "duress code," saved the day and should have been carried out of Los Angeles' CTU offices on Chloe's shoulders. These heroics aside, one is not sure at this point whether or not his character will prove to be a team-player or a White House-placed nemesis. "24" has an inimitable way of keeping its faithful guessing and, in part, that's the allure of the show.

But what "24" is really all about is tantamount to comic book heroics and what's wrong with that? Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland) may not run into phone booths and strip down to his Superman costume before fending off terrorists, but "here he comes to save the day" would be a thoroughly apropos theme song lyric for the show. He's to the GWOT what Charles Bronson's character, Paul Kersey, in "Death Wish" was to street crime -- a well-armed, single-minded Ubermensch who rids the world of rank undesirables with impunity.

I know this: I'd rather watch four hours of Jack Bauer fending off terrorists at Ontario Airport than two gay cowboys herding sheep in Wyoming.

FOLLOW-UP: RightWingNuthouse provides "24" fans with plot summaries!

FOLLOW-UP II: One of the Houston Chronicle's resident bloggers, Kyrie O'Conner (author of the "MeMo" blog), has decided to pull an indignant arrow from her quiver and take a cheap shot at me (a "Houston Chronicle" subscriber no less!) for my uninterest in watching two gay "sheepboys" fall in love on the big screen. That, of course, leads to her testiness in thinking that I'm trying to prove I have testes. I'm comfortable in my manhood, Kyrie, and, as information, only really enjoyed one movie that John Wayne made -- "Red River" -- which had as its principal supporting actor a marvelous actor, Montgomery Clift, who was gay in his private life and preferred men over Elizabeth Taylor. Since I've watched that movie on Turner Classic Movies at least a dozen or more times I hope you'll let me off the hook and not infer that I'm a "homophobe" for having no interest in supporting Hollywood's Leftie agenda. You strike me as being more than "cranky and feverish" today. You must be hallucinating on ground portobello mushrooms to characterize the Jack Bauer character on "24" as a "homoerotic figure." Just what kind of magazines do you keep by your sick bed?

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