DECEMBER 29, 2012 A DAY IN PORTLAND
I dont completely understand TV marathons. This weekend on the cable networks, for example, A&E is showing 10 straight hours of Storage Wars, and VH1 is showing 10 straight hours of Mob Wives. But IFC plans to outdo them both with 24 straight hours of Portlandia, from 6 pm New Years Eve until 6 pm New Years Day.
Anyway, apparently only 18 half-hour episodes of the TV series Portlandia have been made so far. Therefore, most of them will air three times during the marathon.
I suppose the idea is if you happen to tune into IFC anytime during this period, youll discover the show, and maybe youll want to come back for more when the third season begins on January 4.
But surely nobody is expected to watch the whole 24 hours in one sitting, or even the nine hours it would take to see the whole series once. Who has that kind of endurance? Not me. Like most TV shows that dont bring me to the edge of my seat, this one tends to put me to sleep after 20 minutes.
DECEMBER 23, 2012 EVERYBODY LOSES
The lockout in the National Hockey League has reached 99 days, with no end in sight. If the players and owners can't come to an agreement soon, the entire NHL season will have to be canceled. Already both sides have lost a lot of money because of this work stoppage. So have others who depend on hockey games for part of their income; that includes arena ushers and nearby restaurant workers, not to mention television crews.
When I was just a toddler, there was another 99-day work stoppage in a different industry that resulted in an untold amount of indirect losses, plus direct losses to workers, dealers, and suppliers of nearly $1.4 billion in 1950 dollars. That summer, my father summarized the disaster in a radio talk for WILE-AM in Cambridge, Ohio. Among the details: Many idled and impoverished workers had to sell their homes because of local requirements that "you have to get rid of all assets before you can go on state or city relief." And when an agreement was finally reached, "the workers gained very, very little more than they had already been offered before they struck."
DECEMBER 13, 2012 TEARING UP
I received a masters degree from Syracuse University in the state of New York, so youd think Id know how to pronounce Syracuse. Wouldn't you?
Lets look at the first syllable, Syr. You might think its sire, rhyming with lyre or pyre, but you would be wrong. You could note it actually rhymes with tear. However, that wouldnt resolve the issue, because tear can be pronounced two different ways!
As it turns out, most of us rhyme the first syllable of Syracuse with peer. A significant minority rhyme it with pair.
Then theres the last syllable, Cuse, which could rhyme with snooze or truce. Being a naturally lazy sort, I chooze the former.
So to me (and I believe that Im in the majority), its Sear Accuse. To others, its Sarah Kyoos. Take your pick.
Or you could visit the original Syracuse on the coast of Sicily. There the Italians say coo instead of cue and Siracusa comes out as SEAR a KOO zuh. Much more musical.
DECEMBER 3, 2012 FOUR WEEKS AGO
It was the eve of the election, and three of Mitt Romneys nieces Faith, Hope, and Charity, good conservatives all were predicting what was going to happen.
Charity said, I love Uncle Mitt. Id really like to see him win.
Hope agreed, I hope he wins, too. The country would be in big trouble if Obama were re-elected.
Faith said, Dont worry about that. All our polls show us leading in the swing states. Im completely confident that by this time tomorrow, well be the nieces of President-Elect Romney!
But to be fair, interjected Charity, the Democrats have other polls that show the opposite.
And, added Hope, the TV networks and the rest of the commentators pretty much agree that Obama is leading. I hope theyre wrong, but thats what they say.
Faith exploded. Are you going to believe the evil mass media? Theyre all on Obamas side, and theyre deliberately skewing the polling data to discourage us. Theres no way that Americans would re-elect that socialist and give him another four years to destroy our country. I dont know anyone whos voting for Obama. Do you?
Well, hardly any, Hope admitted, but we really dont know many folks outside our family and our church and our political organization. This is a big country, and apparently there are people who disagree with us.
A lot of young people, Charity noted, support Obama. Latinos, too.
Theyre not really Americans! Faith spluttered. They should deport themselves back to wherever they came from. No, I have faith in our country. I know true Americans will elect Mitt Romney. He doesnt even need to bother to prepare a concession speech. Losing is impossible. Hell win by a landslide!
But the experts in Ohio say
Dont distract me with the facts! My faith is firm.
And now abideth Faith, Hope, Charity, these three; but the worst of these is Faith.
Deliberately ignoring disagreeable facts will always lead you astray.
When the truth is found, you will be dumbfounded.
NOVEMBER 29, 2012 CLOSE COVER BEFORE STRIKING
I recall watching a long-ago telecast of the National Invitational Tournament. It was about 1959. An announcer stood in a room off the basketball court at the old Madison Square Garden, and beside him was a blackboard that he used to explain the NIT bracket.
I recall reporting the local election returns on cable TV in Marion, Ohio. It was about 1973. For each race, I held up a piece of poster board with the names of the candidates and their pictures, which I had cut out of the local newspaper. This card had windows to reveal another card behind it, on which Id written the latest vote totals in Magic Marker.
Nowadays, of course, all such graphics are computer-generated.
NOVEMBER 20, 2012 TWO TREES IN A GARDEN
He says to the other gods and goddesses who surround him, Let's make man in our image, after our likeness.
Needless to say, the experiment doesnt work out quite as intended. What happened? Marduk explains in my article, Let Us Make Man.
NOVEMBER 15, 2012 TITLE HERE
When creating a full-screen graphic for television, we usually want to put a title on the top row that summarizes what the graphic is saying.
We can be literal, as in Top Five NLCS Home Run Hitters. We can be clichéd, as in the well-worn Centers of Attention or Super Sophs. We can try to be clever with tortured puns, as in Peyton the Town Orange or Shaqed Up.
Each entry on this website likewise has a title. I recently realized that not infrequently over the last six years, my title (or part of it) has been in a language other than English. For example:
Aside from a little German, I dont actually speak any of these ten other languages, but that hasnt stopped me from writing some of their words.
NOVEMBER 11, 2012 COPING WITH A GAS SHORTAGE
NOVEMBER 5, 2012 STATE COLORS
I raised this question four years ago. Now Ive added the answer. Click here.