29 September 2011

25 September 2011

Rudolph Day, September 2011

Tis the Season TV by Joanna Wilson

This is a first, an exhaustive effort to chronicle every television special, movie, animated feature, and series episode from the advent of television to the present that has to do with December holidays (Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc.) and Christmastide. If you are a lover of these specials and series episodes, this is the volume for you, although the recommendation comes with several caveats.

First, it's not complete. Now, there are so many Yuletide media efforts it would have been more miraculous if Ms. Wilson had not skipped any of them. Nevertheless, she did skip at least one television film, the Keshia Knight-Pulliam vehicle The Little Match Girl, nor did I see Rick Steves' European Christmas and PBS's annual Christmas at St. Olaf and Christmas at King's College, although other PBS specials and cable channel specials are represented. There may be others missing; these are only the ones I saw.

Second, not all Christmas series episodes are described, and mistakes and misspellings appear in descriptions. For example, three Lassie Christmas episodes are not described, there is no description for the Knot's Landing Christmas episode, etc. Some of the description mistakes are very amusing if you are familiar with the series: for instance, in the description of The Waltons episode "The Children's Carol," Verdie is referred to as "Burdie"! There are other goofs like this.

Also, occasionally Wilson's descriptions are very stilted.

Still, I am impressed. This was a huge body of information to research, and it's very difficult to describe yet the twelfth or thirteenth Lawrence Welk Show Christmas episode or what happens in several decades of Bing Crosby or Bob Hope specials! It's my hope Ms. Wilson will get leave to do a second edition of this book and fix all the errors. A complete version of this work would be stunning.

As a nice, basic reference, this book cannot be beat.

20 September 2011

Fall Creeps in On Little Cat Feet

Unfortunately for me, my favorite season arrives just as our busiest season at work is winding down. Sometimes it seems that there's little time for me to lift my eyes from my monitor or from the myriad of things I must do on weekends to note the seasons slowly shifting gear.

We could hardly credit it, but it seems Tropical Storm Lee, for all the damage it did other places, here "broke the back" of summer. We'd had 89 days of sizzling 90s during the summer (one more did turn up to break the record) and there seemed no end of it until Lee flipped the switch. Oh, this didn't mean it automatically made it cool. Temps are still, on average, hovering in the low 80s, which is common here in September. However, there have been odd days where the clouds have triumphed and it's been in the 70s, with a nice cool breeze coming from the north or northeast, and one golden day where it never got out of the high 60s.

In the end, the body knows when you need to slow down and it's given me a bit of a whack today: stuffed nose, lightheadedness, feeling as if I didn't sleep even when I did. So instead of at a desk, I am wrapped in a blanket on the sofa, heeding the brake imposed upon me.

Outside I can see what's been happening while my mind's been elsewhere: one of the trees in the yard is dotted with yellow leaves. There are other, crackled brown, strayed on the deck, and some bright red leaves on a tree in the yard next door. When we went shopping on Sunday, I marveled at how the trees lining the parking lot had changed: the tips of the maple leaves—indeed some of the whole leaves—have turned scarlet. Everywhere the dogwoods, which are the last to bloom and the first to turn, sport reddish leaves. In the parking lot at work, the roof of my car has been regularly thumped with falling acorns, which lie brown (and occasionally squashed) in clusters on the tarmac.

The last of the baby birds have fledged and gone their way, except for one young cardinal who sits on the feeder (and even occasionally feeds) and clings to his childhood, begging his mother or father to feed him (they oblige, with resignation it appears). Very soon the bluebirds will return to provide a piece of the sky on earth.

And, oh, the sky!—after a summer of insipid pale blue overlaid with a thin yellowish coating of smog and pollen, the sky is once again bright blue, painted with a feathery brush of ghost-white cirrus clouds. It's a preview of cool autumn days to come.