April 24, 2011
In the vast wasteland that is television --whether you get 20 channels or 200 in high def or not -- a few jewels remain. My criteria is to learn something new, however inane or perverse, from each viewing. I learned something about vacuum cleaner technology from Orek and Dyson commercials, and that California is a huge dairy state from their milk producers' insitutional ads. I learned what plastic and bariatric surgery can and cannot do from watching CNN reporter Candy Crowley and CBS's Lesley Stahl. From waching On Demand I learned that, without commercials, an hour program lasts 46 minutes. Then, of course, the comic book versions of ancient history on the History Channel and NatGeo have some merit. But my all-time favorite in all catagories is CBS Sunday Morning, from 9 to 10:30 a.m. I've watched it for years, since the Charles Kuralt days. That sweet, folksy, intelligent man taught me that sweet, folksy, intelligent men can lead double lives with double families -- a discovery made public after his death. One of its producers, Judy Hole, and I worked together at Rockefeller Center in New York, as NBC studios tour guides, during college summers. Now in her 70s, as am I, she is still producing segments. I feel a personal connection, although when I called with an idea she blew me off. Nevertheless, I must pass on a nugget of knowlege from the April 24 show. The segment was about Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris -- its history and architecture, I studied Notre Dame in art/architecture history classes at Duke. I knew about the flying buttresses used to support the lead roof. But I had not learned that potentially damaging water running off that roof was channeled through gutters and pipes which ended as the famous gargoyles. After a heavy rain, water erupts from the gargoyles mouths creating a gargling sound. Hence the name, from the French verb gargouille. Not all gargoyles perform this function Some are decorative slackers. But I do feel smug knowing the etymology, and that I discovered it on TV.