30, 2018 CONFLICT
name? It is nothing. My age? It means less.
country I come from is called the Midwest.
was taught and brought up there the laws to abide,
the land that I live in has God on its side.
the history books tell it they tell it so well
cavalries charged, the Indians fell.
cavalries charged, the Indians died.
the country was young with God on its side.
Spanish-American War had its day,
the Civil War too was soon laid away,
the names of the heroes I was made to memorize,
guns on their hands and God on their side.
First World War, boys, it came and it went.
reason for fighting I never did get,
I learned to accept it, accept it with pride,
you don't count the dead when God's on your side.
the Second World War came to an end
forgave the Germans, and then we were friends.
they murdered six million in the ovens they fried,
Germans now too have God on their side.
learned to hate Russians all through my whole life.
another war comes, it's them we must fight,
hate them and fear them, to run and to hide,
accept it all bravely with God on my side.
now we got weapons of the chemical dust.
fire them we're forced to, then fire them we must.
push of the button and a shot the world wide,
you never ask questions when God's on your side.
a many dark hour I've been thinking about this:
Jesus Christ was betrayed by a kiss.
I can't think for you. You'll have to decide
Judas Iscariot had God on his side.
now, as I'm leaving, I'm weary as hell.
confusion I'm feeling, ain't no tongue can tell.
words fill my head and fall to the floor:
God's on our side, he'll stop the next war.
sang a young Bob Dylan in 1963.
years later, 24-year-old Tim Rice and 20-year-old Andrew Lloyd
Webber were celebrating the success of their school cantata Joseph
and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. What would they do next?
question Dylan had posed in his eighth verse did the vilified
Judas Iscariot also have God on his side? inspired Rice to
suggest telling the story of Holy Week from Judas's point of view.
resulting musical was Jesus Christ Superstar. It will
be televised in a live concert version on NBC this Sunday.
recall listening over and over to my cassette of the October 1970
concept album (right). Others may have attended Pittsburgh's
Civic Arena in July 1971 to see the first American staging of the
rock opera. I bought the 1973 sheet-music book, and I played
I Only Want to Say (Gethsemane) on the piano for the
offertory at church one Sunday.
surprisingly, the story ends on Good Friday. After Jesus is
executed, the music closes with a funereal orchestral meditation
reprising Gethsemane. This time it's called
John Nineteen Forty-One, a reference to the tomb.
another musical from the same era, likewise concludes without an Easter.)
the Bible's oldest gospel, Mark, also ends before Jesus reappears!
Christians are unaware that the original manuscript concluded with
Mark 16:8. Our Bibles today include a dozen more verses after
that, because various other ancient authors remedied Mark's apparent
oversight by appending anecdotes about the risen Jesus making curtain
calls on Earth before retiring to Heaven.
are other discrepancies among the stories. For example, the
Jesus depicted in Mark's gospel comes out somewhat differently in Luke's.
often becomes angry in Mark, but when we read Luke, that wrath is suppressed.
places he curses a fig tree and whips moneychangers out of the
Temple, but elsewhere he claims to stand at the door and knock, gently.
to Robert M. Price, Luke described a politically correct
Jesus who eschewed apocalyptic fantasies of a violent
visitation by angel armies slaughtering the bad guys, in favor of ...
a safe space where never is heard a discouraging
word and the sky is not cloudy all day. This Jesus never
spoke a syllable of nasty rhetoric. Oh no, he'd never
do that!' Threats of damnation? Hell
I mean heck no!
timid Christians understandably prefer to picture a loving
personal savior, rather than an angry God raging from on
high. They'd like their Lord to be kind, not vindictive.
But has the Gospel of Luke led them astray?
imagined Mark writing a letter arguing against revisionism.
It's called Mark
29, 2018 MULTIPLE
CHOICE, BITTER FOOD EDITION
wedding soup is quite popular in this area. How did it get its name?
served at Italian weddings.
a marriage of meat and vegetables. The Italians
call it minestra
Whenever you don't know the answer to a multiple-choice question,
the mostly likely option is B.
I'll say B then.
Around here, the meat is little meatballs, and the veggies include
slightly bitter greens like escarole or spinach. And of course
of bitter greens, the menu for the Jewish Seder specifies
bitter herbs to symbolize the harsh slavery the Hebrews
endured in Egypt. Which bitter herbs are usually used for
lettuce and horseradish.
Are you implying that the answer is again B? Neither romaine
nor horseradish seems bitter to me.
there they are, on the right.
fact, I'd describe horseradish as hot.
merely refers to a sensation of pain. It's not among the five
officially defined basic tastes, which are bitter, salty, sour,
sweet, and umami or savory.
learn something every day.
example, I read yesterday that Pitt has named a new head basketball
coach by the name of Jeff Capel.
been Duke's associate head coach under Mike Krzyzewski since 2011
and is considered a great recruiter. But I wondered how to
pronounce his name. Like Chapel? Like Chappelle?
learned today that Capel has the stress on a long A,
like Capable. Seems appropriate.
27, 2008 HISTORY
TV, I've been watching the HBO series John Adams, which
begins with Adams' defense in court of the Redcoats involved in the
1770 Boston Massacre. I also recently saw a documentary about
the 1970 shootings at Kent State University.
I hadn't noticed until now was the strong similarity between these
two events that occurred almost exactly two centuries apart. In
each case, soldiers confronted by a mob fired their weapons, and the
gunshots hit about a dozen civilians. Five died on March 5,
1770. Four died on May 4, 1970.
each case, the crowd had been enraged by recent government
actions. In 1770, the British government had levied taxes on
American colonists, commandeered their homes to quarter troops, and
otherwise oppressed the citizenry. Boston residents were
especially angry. In 1970, the United States government had
escalated the already-unpopular Vietnam war by sending troops into
Cambodia. Kent State students
were especially angry.
each case, the irate citizens protested to the point of destroying
government property. The authorities tried to maintain order by
bringing in soldiers, but the crowd outnumbered them, taunted them,
threw things at them. Tensions mounted. The soldiers,
feeling threatened and nervous, finally fired on the civilians.
It's still disputed whether anyone actually gave an order to open fire.
been to both locations.
Boston, a historical marker is set into the pavement of what is now,
rather incongruously, a traffic island in the middle of a busy street
outside the Old State House.
Kent, the shootings took place behind the gymnasium where I've since
tragedy stirred much resentment, in the colonies and on the campuses
respectively, and the protesters finally achieved their goals a few
years later. In 1776, British forces retreated from
Massachusetts, and in 1973, American forces withdrew from Southeast Asia.
about John Adams here.)
25, 2018 KITCHEN
used various methods to loosen
lids on glass jars so they can be unscrewed. But lids on tin
cans? They present a different difficulty.
Hamilton Beach electric can opener efficiently slices through the
metal. However, after it has done its job, the now-separated
lid is still sitting there atop the can.
fingers can't seem to coax it off.
magnet will attract it, but not strongly enough to break it free.
though, I tried using a church key, of the type once used to gain
access to the contents of a can of beer.
discovered that if I punched a hole, I could then insert the tip of
the opener into the hole, apply a little pressure to the underside of
the lid, and lever it up.
23, 2008 IMPLODE!
afternoon, we denizens of the TV truck outside Mellon Arena in
Pittsburgh were preparing for that evening's telecast of the Penguins
hockey game against the New Jersey Devils. But at 2:00, for our
own safety, we were herded inside the domed building. Another
structure across the street was about to be destroyed.
our way to the opposite side of the arena, we looked out through the
windows at the former St. Francis Central Hospital. This
now-empty building needed to come down to make way for the
construction of a new arena for the Penguins. Fifteen of the
hospital's columns had been prepared with 32-pound charges of C-4
explosive. I'd never seen an implosion in person, and here I
was only 400 feet away.
2:15, the charges were set off at half-second intervals. The
bangs were very loud, shaking the windows of the arena; I took a step
back. The effect was similar to the "aerial salutes"
in the finale of a fireworks show. Had we been outside, the
sound would have been deafening.
aside from the noise, nothing seemed to be happening. Finally,
as planned, the weakened building began to fall in on itself.
In another ten seconds there was only rubble, hidden by a cloud of dust.
dust cleared, and we went back to work. We've been promised
that the new arena will be ready for the 2010-2011 season.
21, 2018 THE
We meet again, my Fictional Uninformed Interlocutor. How was
I read a rave review yesterday.
did I! The critic actually liked it! How could he, when
is possible for people to have an opinion that's different from yours?
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.
don't think film critics can be bought, Fui.
course they can! Why would anyone turn down a bribe?
they have principles.
have principles! I believe in good honest work. But I
don't believe in just handing people money if they've done nothing to
So does that mean you don't want to help out the less fortunate?
they need money, they should go out and work for it. I did.
some of them are sick, or disabled.
bet they're faking it.
maybe they're women. A woman earns less, you know.
should stay home like a proper housewife.
maybe they're minorities, or immigrants.
I supposed to support those lazy criminals?
Fui! I'm afraid you lack empathy. You're selfish.
19, 2018 BRICKS
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.
that's just Pitt, I thought. The Panthers never won after
Wins in Last 19 Games
inevitably cost the coach his job.
shooting sometimes affects even good teams, however. Yesterday
in the NCAA men's tournament, five contenders were upset by
particular, I noticed that 11
Syracuse eliminated 3
Michigan State when the Spartans managed to make only 9 of their 38
field goal attempts in the second half. That's 23.7%. My
high school team shot better than that! (However, we didn't
have to face Jim Boeheim's defense.)
fact, all five losing favorites shot worse
than their season averages,
underperforming by an average of 12 percentage points. The
lids were on the hoops.
18, 2018 ROBBY!
made Justin Cousson sound stupid, he tweets, by convincing him that
Margot Robbie's last name is pronounced Row-bee.
more concerned with her first name.
think it rhymes with Fargo, but we all know that an actress
has options. She could have chosen a long A, and a soft G, and
a short O, and a non-silent T. Yes, Margot could have been Mare-jot.
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.
15, 2008 THE
special occasions, the First United Methodist Church in Richwood,
Ohio, features instrumental duets on organ and piano. This
image from a videotape shows Phyllis Rees at the organ (center) and
Marge Gamble at the piano (lower left, in front of the flag) during
the Christmas open house about five years ago.
the 1960s and 1970s, I was one of those keyboard players, often
filling in on the organ during the summer.
regular organist at the time was Gladys Winter; she's on the left in
this picture from the 1978 church directory. Gladys was
succeeded by Patt Houk, who's on the right. I played the piano
for several duets, particularly "The Holy City," with each
of these organists.
not an ideal venue for duets. The piano is only a spinet, and
it must be tuned to match the pitch of the organ, which varies as the
temperature changes with the seasons.
piano is located on the floor beside the altar rail, while the organ
bench is in an elevated position in the choir loft.
two musicians can't easily share visual cues. The organist
faces away from everyone. If she turns around, she can see the
pianist's face, but not the keyboard. The pianist can see the
back of the organist's head, but the curtained front wall of the
choir loft blocks any view of the organ keyboard and pedals.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
night I lay a-sleeping.
There came a dream so fair:
stood in old Jerusalem
Beside the temple there.
heard the children singing,
And ever as they sang
the voice of angels
From Heav'n in answer rang;
Methought the voice of angels
From Heav'n in answer rang:
Lift up your gates and sing!
in the highest,
Hosanna to your King."
then methought my dream was chang'd:
The streets no longer rang.
were the glad hosannas
The little children sang.
sun grew dark with mystery,
The morn was cold and chill,
the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill;
As the shadow of a cross arose
Upon a lonely hill.
Hark! how the angels sing:
in the highest,
Hosanna to your King."
once again the scene was chang'd:
New earth there seem'd to be!
saw the Holy City
Beside the tideless sea.
light of God was on its streets.
The gates were open wide,
all who would might enter
And no one was denied!
need of moon or stars by night
Or sun to shine by day,
was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away;
It was the new Jerusalem
That would not pass away.
Sing, for the night is o'er!
in the highest,
Hosanna for evermore!
Hosanna in the highest ...
Hosanna for evermore!
14, 2018 ILLEISM
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.
Julius Caesar got up the next morning, his wife urged him not to
leave the house. However, he ignored the omens because they
didn't target him in particular. In the words of Shakespeare's
play, he said [2.2]:
Caesar shall go forth, for these predictions
to the world in general as to Caesar.
I recently watched the 1953 movie of this tragedy (with Marlon
Brando looking on as Mark Antony), I was struck by Caesar's repeated
reference to himself as Caesar. An ordinary man
would have spoken in the first person: But I shall
go out, because these warnings are directed to the whole world as
much as to me.
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.
of great nations sometimes feel the urge to speak of themselves illeistically.
is harmless, of course, because their followers are not offended by
any such displays of egotism. As Shakespeare's Casca reported [1.2]:
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!
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.
some folks close their ears to evidence. They want to go on
believing their tales. They resent it when the
intelligent, educated segment of our culture tries to give them
my new article, looks at this problem.
9, 2018 MINUTE
revisiting my archives over the winter, I discovered some additional
images and details from 44 years ago.
my very first month working at Cable TV-3 in Washington,
Pennsylvania, I covered a beauty pageant in the role of a news
reporter. That's the winner on the right, Do Do Gatalski.
story is in my new article, Miss
my second month, I organized a six-hour fundraiser from our TV
studio, including a clock and a captain.
only that, I also reorganized the news and interview blocks for Greater
and then scroll down through April and May for those expanded
narratives about the long-ago year of 1974.
7, 2018 HOW
I WATCH TV: PART IV
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.)
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.
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.)
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.
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.
course, another problem was that the awards show was much too
long. There's no way I could stay awake for the whole thing.
6, 2018 I'LL
TAKE YOU TO BURN!
Wednesday mornings during my last semester in college, I had a disk
jockey shift on our campus radio station.
I was behind the microphone, I looked nothing like the gentleman on
I did oversleep one morning, and Mr. Brown made a guest appearance
to utter a dire threat.
incident is part of this month's 100 Moons article.
4, 2018 NOW
GETTING A CORRECTION
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.
I arose that morning, I learned that during the dinner the President
had rather embarrassingly vomited and fainted. But the First
Lady had jumped to his aid, he had received medical attention, and he
was apparently all right except for a touch of the flu.
left the TV tuned to Headline News in case there were any further developments.
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!
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.
Harrison was anchoring Headline News that morning. At 9:45, he
may have been coming out of a commercial break before introducing the
latest from Wall Street.
heard him announce, This just in to CNN Headline News
and we say right off the bat, we have not confirmed this through any
then I heard another voice, off-camera, yelling No! Stop!
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.
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.
goodness, I thought. A Presidential tragedy?
Headline News must have been mere seconds away from erroneously
reporting his death!
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.
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.
1, 2018 NOT
WEARING THE GREEN
a century ago, I obtained an actual license to broadcast
third class. After St. Patrick's day, I broadcast actual
election returns for Student Senate. And I applied for
head broadcaster at our actual ten-watt FM powerhouse.
for my latest installment in the 14-month series recalling my life 50
years ago. I'll even show you how we made monochromatic sodium fringes!