December 24, 2016

50 years ago today: The first broadcast of "The Yule Log."



"The Yule Log was created in 1966 by Fred M. Thrower, president and chief executive officer of WPIX, Inc."
Inspired by an animated Coca-Cola commercial from a year earlier that showed Santa Claus at a fireplace, he envisioned the program as a televised Christmas gift to those residents of New York who lived in apartments and homes without fireplaces....

The original program was filmed at Gracie Mansion, the official residence of the Mayor of New York City, John Lindsay, at the time.... Thrower, and WPIX-FM programming director Charlie Whittaker selected the music, based largely on the easy listening format that the radio station had then.... During the filming, the producers removed a protective fire grate so that the blaze could be seen better; a stray spark damaged a nearby antique rug valued at $4,000....

[T]he original loop was only 17 seconds long, resulting in a visibly jerky and artificial appearance...."

47 comments:

Fernandinande said...

Netflix has it, but it might be re-runs.

rehajm said...

Nice for the time. I prefer the updated Lagavulin version.

Wilbur said...

I never saw The Yule Log until I moved to South Florida in the mid-80s. It means very little to me as far as nostalgia.

Sorta' like summer camp for kids. Never been, never had a chance to, never knew anyone who'd been, till I moved to South Florida.

Original Mike said...

Another reason to love living in the North. Real fires.

Arthur James said...

That is deeply spiritual. Wonderful. Meditative. St John of the Cross. Be still and be quiet, shut up and let your brain slow down.

campy said...

[T]he original loop was only 17 seconds long, [...]"

I've watched shows with less original content than that.

Arthur James said...

I will spread Christmas cheer to Ann Althouse. You said something which impressed me when you said you wanted to escape teaching to pull away from yourself. You wanted to hide within anonymity. Everything you did, did not have to be a statement about worthiness. It seemed you were tired of being someone. It was nice to hide within witnessing. Whatever. Christmas time and thanksgiving.

David said...

"[T]he original loop was only 17 seconds long, resulting in a visibly jerky and artificial appearance...."

John Lindsay was the mayor at the time, so that explains it.

rhhardin said...

Sleep like a log.

Ann Althouse said...

@Arthur

Interesting paraphrase.

Arthur James said...

You want me to explain that? It is not that complicated. Spiritual masters know it. Within the constant badgering of being someone, one cannot break down and say I am hurting. To become vulnerable is crucial to the spiritual path. It is the Beatitudes. The reason Jesus was born. The need to recede and break away is essential. Never out of bitterness, always out of love.

Arthur James said...

That is St John of the Cross thinking. He says, in honesty, the greatest spiritual adventure is to do nothing, to sit and be quiet.

Arthur James said...

To me St John of the Cross is on the level of Nick Cave.

rhhardin said...

Cave canem. The yule dog.

Arthur James said...

Ann if you are interested. I am in total shutdown mode, writing all day. This I felt was a very important song in the formation of Nick Cave. It is dark, to some degree, yet he delights in darkness. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lI3OYG00xqs

Arthur James said...

And keep in mind his and Warren's efforts with Cormac McCarthy on 'The Road'

EDH said...

Yeesh, I'm sorry, but that was not a relaxing, mellow fire to sit by and watch.

It was an inferno, fueled by accelerant or bellowed air.

All the subtlety of a looking in from the outskirts of a home town sacked by foreign invaders.

Why not put it in the shape of a cross on your front lawn, for heaven sakes -- and throw in some Beatles albums, books or heretics for that matter!

[T]he original loop was only 17 seconds long, resulting in a visibly jerky and artificial appearance...."

Maybe that explains its fearsome intensity.

EDH said...

During the filming, the producers removed a protective fire grate so that the blaze could be seen better; a stray spark damaged a nearby antique rug valued at $4,000....

I'm surprised they did burn the whole fucking house down!

Arthur James said...

That is funny. Merry Christmas.

Original Mike said...

Blogger EDH said..."Yeesh, I'm sorry, but that was not a relaxing, mellow fire to sit by and watch.

It was an inferno, fueled by accelerant or bellowed air."


Holy shit! Your comment made me click the video. We love fires, have them frequently. If I had that in my fireplace I'd have a bucket of water on standby.


Original Mike said...

I think they sped up the video faster than real-time. And they were heavy-handed on the audio.

Ann Althouse said...

@arthur

But what did I say that you read that way?

I rhink I know, but if I am right, you read something in a way that saw an ambiguity that I didn't intend.

Ann Althouse said...

When I said "freedom from me," I meant that I wanted to relieve others of me being imposed on them, and I didn't contemplate the meaning of me being free from myself, which I can understand, but didn't intend to say. It's an interesting idea.

FullMoon said...

Original Mike said... [hush]​[hide comment]

Blogger EDH said..."Yeesh, I'm sorry, but that was not a relaxing, mellow fire to sit by and watch.

It was an inferno, fueled by accelerant or bellowed air."

Holy shit! Your comment made me click the video. We love fires, have them frequently. If I had that in my fireplace I'd have a bucket of water on standby.


Yeah, a fire like that cleans the fireplace.See how white the bricks are? I had one going like that in order to burn off the soot. Melted the plastic side of my TV four feet away.

Arthur James said...

My insight arose because you said you found great relief in releasing a career as a professor, in order to escape yourself. The students stared at you. They made you into something you were not. Yes you are a great professor. I like the term penetrating insight. They penetrated you, which caused you the need to pull away. It is a sign of immense wisdom.

Arthur James said...

I read your comment.

Original Mike said...

We have a large fireplace; the front opening exceeds 4 feet. Years ago, when we were new to the house, I built a fire that filled it. Scared the shit out of me. The central masonry core of the house was warm for days afterward.

I never did that again.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krumhorn said...

Merry Christmas, Ann. I hope you and Meade have a great New Year!

- Krumhorn

Alex said...

Looks like a fire hazard.

Carol S said...

Hi, I'm a regular lurker here. I enjoy your blog very much, Professor; you and your commenters are teaching me the art of critical thinking—and leading me into further reading with all of your links. I wish all of you a Merry Christmas (or whatever other holiday you celebrate), and a happy and prosperous New Year.

rhhardin said...

Lucy's Mother: I think it's immoral that any human being should acquire that much wealth. I don't know how you sleep at night.

George: I have a machine that plays the ocean.

- Two Weeks Notice

I found long ago that sound machines are detectably periodic, after you listen for a while, which ruins the effect. Maybe new ones are better.

Curious George said...

I'll bet when my vacation home burned down last fall it sounded just like that.

Quayle said...

I remember the Yule Log well. On our B&W TV. Channel 11.

"I didn't contemplate the meaning of me being free from myself, which I can understand, but didn't intend to say. It's an interesting idea."

I have been thinking this week about a variation on this. I believe that all of us have a part of us from which we'd very much like to be free, and/or to be able to see ourselves or others in a different way. I know I have a few rocks in my character around which I have resigned myself to have to plow.

So then I think that's what Christmas is really about - celebrating the birth of a person who said he came to "to preach the gospel to the poor; ...to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised."

I could use a little deliverance now and again.

Merry Christmas to all.

Portlandmermaid said...

Offerman's fire sounds like mine, pleasantly snapping instead of the insanely loud crackling of the original

harrogate said...

Merry Christmas to one of the finest writers on the blogosphere. And to all commenters with whom I almost always disagree , Merry Christmas to you as well.

narciso said...

Robert matzens story of how its a wonderful life came to be, deserves a thread.

chickelit said...

I miss the Titus description of the Yule log.

CuznDon said...

Happy Christmas to all and to althouse a goodnight.

CuznDon said...

https://www.brainpickings.org/2015/12/23/bob-dylan-reads-twas-the-night-before-christmas/

madAsHell said...

The Pet Rock followed in 1972.

richard mcenroe said...

I rememberthe Yule Log running every Christmas in NY, on WPIX 11 if I recall rightly.

Mrs. X said...

@ann, @arthur, TS Eliot: "Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things."
FWIW

Lewis Wetzel said...

Alas, I am working tonight, on the top of Mauna Kea. Thanks to a winter storm, we have snow on the ground up here at 13,600'. It's not very Christmas-y looking though. It looks like a polar region of mars, volcanic ash between piles of snow. No pine trees.

Arthur James said...

Sometimes I even wider if Bowie knows what he is doing. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lNqo0kIR-TU

Rusty said...

Hey. Althouse.
Merry Christmas.
(In the spirit of he season I've left out the usual obscenities.)
Hope you and Meade and John & etc. have a great Christmas.

Ann Althouse said...

@Carol S

Thanks!