MARCH 21, 2018 THE ANTI-EMPATH
Fui! We meet again, my Fictional Uninformed Interlocutor. How was the movie?
Really? I read a rave review yesterday.
So did I! The critic actually liked it! How could he, when I didn't?
Isn't is possible for people to have an opinion that's different from yours?
No! I'm right about this! The movie is terrible! There must be some sinister explanation. It's a conspiracy. The studio must have paid the guy for a favorable write-up.
I don't think film critics can be bought, Fui.
Of course they can! Why would anyone turn down a bribe?
Maybe they have principles.
I have principles! I believe in good honest work. But I don't believe in just handing people money if they've done nothing to deserve it.
Hmm. So does that mean you don't want to help out the less fortunate?
If they need money, they should go out and work for it. I did.
But some of them are sick, or disabled.
I bet they're faking it.
Or maybe they're women. A woman earns less, you know.
MARCH 19, 2018 BRICKS
While telecasting basketball at the University of Pittsburgh this season, we frequently had to show a graphic about the Panthers like 0 Field Goals in Last 8:42. What a shooting slump! And, of course, the visitors' resultant scoring run led to an insurmountable lead.
But that's just Pitt, I thought. The Panthers never won after Christmas. 0 Wins in Last 19 Games inevitably cost the coach his job.
Why not? It's been established that we can say our names any way we like. My Thomas Thomas could very easily be pronounced Though-mace Though-mace.
Nor can the musicians easily share audible cues. The organist sits close to the pipes; if she plays loudly, she can't hear the piano. And if she plays softly, the pianist can barely hear her. When I played the piano, I could detect when the organist changed from one chord to another, but repeated notes in the melody blended into each other. That meant that I couldn't hear the beats, only the measures.
A duet, therefore, is an act of faith. One musician begins playing to set the tempo, the other joins in, and occasionally one will be able to hear the other well enough to re-synchronize. Just before the end of "The Holy City," there's a fermata , and as we held that dramatic chord Gladys and I had no way of communicating when to break it off and proceed to the conclusion. She finally suggested that we count a fifth beat in that measure, and we were able to stay together, more or less.
Neither musician can actually hear the "mix," the balance between the two instruments. Both have to use their best judgment as to volume and take it on faith that their music sounds good to the people out in the congregation.
It was usually about this time of year that we performed "The Holy City." Here's a link to an approximation of our performance (but I didn't do the piano glissandos). The fermata comes at the five-minute mark.
Here's another link to a vocal performance. The words were written in 1892 by Frederick E. Weatherly (who would write "Danny Boy" 18 years later). If only the first verse and the last chorus are sung, it can be associated with the Christmas season, but the three verses actually allude to Palm Sunday, Good Friday, and chapter 21 of Revelation.
MARCH 14, 2018 ILLEISM
On this night 2,061 years ago the eve of the Ides of March frightening portents were seen in the streets of Rome. A lion calmly walked past the Capitol, a slave's left hand went up in flames, and so on.
Why did Shakespeare choose to have his title character speak in the third person? Perhaps his cue came from Caesar's book Commentarii de Bello Gallico (parts of which I read in high school Latin class), where he narrated his Gallic War campaign that way. Caesar, on being informed of these things, cheered the minds of the Gauls with his words. Earlier, Xenophon had described his military career similarly in Greek.
The rabblement hooted, and clapped their chapped hands, and threw up their sweaty nightcaps.... Three or four wenches where I stood ... forgave him with all their hearts. But there's no heed to be taken of them. If Caesar had stabbed their mothers they would have done no less.
12, 2018 DON'T
WANNA HEAR IT!
I consider myself reasonably well-informed, from my studies and additional reading over two disparate centuries. I'm proud to have a degree from a distinguished liberal-arts college. I think I've learned how to tell the difference between a scientific conclusion and a fairy tale.
MARCH 7, 2018 HOW I WATCH TV: PART IV
Every few days I peruse the television listings and select the primetime programs I want to watch. Then I set my DVR to record every one of them. (Sports events and the Academy Awards are exceptions, because they're newsworthy and need to be seen as they happen.)
I may watch some of my selected shows live. If so, the recording becomes superfluous and can be deleted. More often, however, I fall asleep in front of the TV and let the DVR do the watching for me. Later, whenever it's convenient, I can catch up with what I missed.
I actually prefer this delayed viewing, because it allows me to fast-forward through the commercials. Nowadays there are a lot of them, some only six seconds long, adding up to an estimated 11 minutes per hour. (The NBC networks recently promised that this fall they'll cut a minute off that, reducing ad time in original primetime programming by 10 percent and the number of commercials by 20 percent.)
I'm not the only one giving the DVR a workout. Mark Evanier notes, Audiences these days are becoming more and more accustomed to watching TV shows with no commercial interruptions. The commercials on the Super Bowl not really an interruption, he says, because they're a point of interest by themselves. More and more though, I think all those cutaways to ads throughout the Oscars are seeming more and more intrusive.
And that may be one reason why Sunday's Oscar viewership was historically small, 17 percent under the previous record low and 19 percent below last year. Other reasons: Few moviegoers had any emotions attached to any of the nominees... the ratings of most things on broadcast television are going down... and the public is getting tired of watching the rich and famous celebrate how rich and famous they are. An awful lot of folks in this country think Big Stars look down on them.
Of course, another problem was that the awards show was much too long. There's no way I could stay awake for the whole thing.
MARCH 6, 2018 I'LL TAKE YOU TO BURN!
MARCH 4, 2018 NOW GETTING A CORRECTION
On Wednesday, January 8, 1992, the President of the United States, George H. W. Bush, was on the other side of the world. He was the guest at a state dinner in Tokyo.
Headline News is now the channel known as HLN. Back then, however, it was a ten-year-old CNN second channel that presented a full newscast every half hour, including sports and business and, in many cities, five minutes of local stories inserted by an affiliated station. At any time of the day, viewers could tune in and get a complete update of current events, around the world in 30 minutes!
Nowadays, of course, we rely on the Internet for that. And today's all-news channels often tell us only one story, all the time, over and over from every angle for hours on end.
That other voice, I learned later, came from executive producer Roger Bahre. He knew that the unverified report might not be true. Don glanced to his left and then said, We are now getting a correction. We will not give you that story.
He could have stopped right there. He should have. However, he went on to hint at the nature of the report he was not going to give. It was regarding some rather tragic news involving President Bush. But, updating that story, President Bush is reported to be resting comfortably.
My goodness, I thought. A Presidential tragedy? Headline News must have been mere seconds away from erroneously reporting his death!
The unconfirmed report turned out to be a hoax. An Idaho man had phoned CNN pretending to be the President's physician and saying that Bush had died. If the report had turned out to be true, at least Don's hint of some rather tragic news would have allowed his network to claim they were the first to learn of the scoop, but I'm not sure they would have wanted to make that boast.
That afternoon, preparing with my colleagues for the Syracuse at Pitt basketball telecast, I told them about the historic almost-moment in broadcast journalism I had witnessed. The situation was still ripe for parody two decades later.
MARCH 1, 2018 NOT WEARING THE GREEN