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.
After the recent election, the more right-wing of our local newspapers announced that it will no longer accept attack ads. Had too many subscribers complained about having to read disparaging statements about their beloved candidates?
At any rate, the paper will still allow politicians to explain their own platforms and tout their own virtues. However, if they want to buy ads to criticize their opponents, they'll have to go elsewhere, from rallies and debates to the airwaves and the jungle of social media.
DECEMBER 22, 2022 THERE'S A STAT FOR EVERYTHING
more than 13,000 National Football League games in the Super Bowl
era, regular and postseason, how many times has a team gained at
least 400 total yards
When this improbable confluence of circumstances happened on Thanksgiving night, OptaSTATS was inspired to enter all these positive parameters into their database.
DECEMBER 19, 2022 X CHROMOSOMES NOW RULE
When the New York Philharmonic Orchestra was founded in 1842, its musicians were all men.
When it moved to Lincoln Center in 1962, its new concert hall still had no women's dressing rooms.
It wasn't until four years later, while I was a student at Oberlin College & Conservatory, that the Philharmonic hired its first female section player, double bassist Orin O'Brien.
DECEMBER 16, 2022 MORMON MUSIC
More than 63 years ago, my parents and I were in the audience for a live performance by the famous Mormon Tabernacle Choir in the actual Tabernacle! Our three-week vacation trip through the West had taken us to a motel in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. As a 12-year-old, I kept a detailed log of our adventure.
On Friday evening, July 17, 1959, we walked from our TraveLodge over to the Tabernacle for an organ recital. On Sunday morning, we returned for church at 8:30 actually the Choir's weekly radio broadcast, Music and the Spoken Word, then in its 30th year. And at 9:15 we got back in our Oldsmobile and set off for Wyoming.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints no longer wishes to be called Mormon, so the domed building is now the Salt Lake Tabernacle, and the musicians are now the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square.
But that wasn't enough. In 2000, a huge new Conference Center opened with 21,000 seats, filling the entire block to the north.
The annual holiday concert, formerly limited to church employees, could now be free to the public. On three nights shortly before Christmas every year, a total of 63,000 people attended. The event was recorded for telecast the following December on PBS, and I made sure to watch.
In 2020, a title card noted that the broadcast had been taped before the pandemic broke. There were no performances at the Conference Center that year. Therefore, the 2021 program consisted of highlights from the previous two decades.
In December 2021, however, a new production could be recorded under strict precautions, with 500 volunteers tested for COVID-19 before every rehearsal and performance. Those performances are being telecast now, in December 2022. With essentially no audience, the vastness of the auditorium is not shown, only the stage. No longer does the program open with children joyfully dancing down the aisles. No longer do we see families happily applauding from the balcony.
But the beauty of the music and the magic of television are still there. The microphones of guest artist Megan Hilty and emcee Neal McDonough have the appropriate amount of reverb for the vast room. We hear applause, obviously enhanced from recordings.
And now, the good news. This week (Thursday through Saturday), after two years of pandemic restrictions, live audiences are joining actors and dancers and Broadway's Lea Salonga plus 360 choral voices and 85 instrumentalists and 32 bell ringers for the annual holiday spectacle. We'll be able to view it in 2023.
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.
So to me and I believe that Im in the majority its Sear Accuse. To others, its Sarah Kyoos. Take your pick.
DECEMBER 11, 2022 MISSING LINK IN MEMORY
The other night on TV I saw an actress whose face reminded me of the girl who played Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. Judy something. But for the life of me I couldn't remember the something. What was her last name? I've known it all my life but, perhaps due to aging, that particular fact was no longer accessible. I can't stop learning new information, and old information has to be moved aside to make room for it. I tried for half an hour to recall Judy's name and finally had to Google it.
I'm speculating that when I learned that name as a child, I saved it to memory as an otherwise unexamined string of characters. Now I've considered it more carefully.
RAISING OLD EB
But I wondered about the words at the beginning of the second verse, written by Robert Robinson in 1758. What exactly was Robert's Eb-e-ne-zer? And why did he want to raise it?
I've finally gotten around to doing the research. In 1 Samuel chapter 7, the Bible tells us that the Israelites encamped at Mizpah were being threatened by the Philistines. The prophet Samuel burned a lamb to ask for help from the Lord, who answered with a thunderstorm. The loud booms must have sounded like modern-day artillery shells. Panicked like dogs by the thunder and the nearby lightning strikes, the Philistines fled, pursued and slaughtered by the Israelites all the way from Mizpah to a point below Beth Kar. There the storm ended and Samuel raised a standing stone, a marker to serve as an eternal reminder of the long distance of the rout, saying Thus far the Lord has helped us. He named the memorial Ebenezer, which means Stone of Help.
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;
Deliberately ignoring disagreeable facts will always lead you astray.
When the truth is found, you will be dumbfounded.