Category Archives: Holidays

‘The Judy Garland Christmas Show’

The notion that the standard old musical variety Christmas specials were old fashioned, forced and fake does not stand with “The Judy Garland Christmas Show.” The first half of 1963 broadcast, after all, is sponsored by pills and cigarettes. Which is all you need to know about your host’s state of mind half a century [...]

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The Saddest Christmas Songs

Oh yes, we know Christmas is meant to be a time of good cheer, of peace and harmony and the nonstop ringing jingle bells. But when all-Christmas stations pop up the first week of November and there’s no ducking the ceaselessly upbeat department store mixes, the relentless cheeriness can be wearing. It’s well known that [...]

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Turkey Shoot on ‘The X Factor’

Family gatherings, stuffed turkey, cranberry sauce. For “The X Factor,” Thanksgiving is also a time to crush dreams. On an episode when no family connection failed to be exploited, the oldest contestant on ”The X Factor” was eliminated, while the youngest two battled to see which one would stay. First to go was Lillie McCloud, 54, who [...]

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Report from Halloween, 2013

Through some stroke of fate, I was a judge of a neighborhood kids costume contest and though I hardly ever had to weigh tough decisions of winners and losers, I did have the opportunity to see a lot of costumes, one after another. A lot of ninjas, more witches than princesses, one self-described vampire/devil, one [...]

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Cherry Blossom Report 2013

There’s actually a single point on a clock when you can say the cherry blossoms have peaked in Washington D.C. They build a whole festival around it and thousands of people come, but nobody knows exactly when the peak will be. Last year, for example, on the opening day of the festival, the blossoms were [...]

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Starting 2013 With a Whimper

Does New Year’s Eve just get inherently less interesting as one gets older? It was never much more exciting to see a calendar turn than to see the odometer turn 100,000 miles. It just happens. Numbers are like that. But this year on TV, there were more countdown shows than ever, and one of the [...]

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That Weird Thanksgiving Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is a weird parade, unlike any you’re likely to see in real life. It’s not just the balloons either, it’s the weird performances they pause to do at the end before the reviewing stands, with pop stars lip synching tunes (do they do this all along the parade route?), odd [...]

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Labor Day Without Jerry

Something was wrong with Labor Day and not just the melancholy about the end of summer or the wearing white shoes thing. It was the disappearance of the Jerry Lewis Telethon. He was removed from the annual Labor Day MDA Telethon last year, and the whole telethon shrunk in hours. Once it went on all [...]

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Eyewitnessing A Capitol Fourth

Usually, I tune over to the PBS coverage of Washington D.C. fireworks as part of the July Fourth crowd avoidance strategy. It involves catching the pyrotechnics from the privacy of one’s home. And while fireworks this way can seem stilted and as canned as the accompanying music (indeed, it may be the same footage of [...]

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Report from Cherry Blossom Central

The two week Cherry Blossom Festival was kicking off Sunday night with a concert event. As for the trees, they had peaked a week before. I’m just getting used to the cycles of the trees ringing the Tidal Basin, subject of even more celebration this year because it is 100 years since the gifts from [...]

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