Working Backwards

My weekly copy of The New Yorker arrived Saturday, and I started reading it the way I always do: I looked through it and read the cartoons.  Then, during the week, I read some of the articles. Some of them are quite lengthy, and others are on subjects I don’t care about, but usually I can find several insightful and well-written entries. That’s why I get the magazine.  That and the cartoons.

It occurred to me that I am reading the New Yorker the same way I read the (long defunct) Washington Daily News, a tabloid-sized six-day-a-week newspaper. There might have been a Sunday edition, but I can’t remember. The Wikipedia article doesn’t say one way or another: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Washington_Daily_News. I do remember color comics on Sundays but I’m not sure the paper was the News. It might have been the Post that my dad went somewhere (I never knew where) to get Sunday mornings.

We got the paper from about 1953 in Fairfax until 1962 when we moved. It cost 5 cents a day, home delivered, and had some pretty good writers. But I was there for the comics. They were located at the back of the paper, so I read the paper from back to front. (I know, that accounts for a lot.)

I’ve noticed this tendency to “work backwards” among choir directors as they teach a new piece to their choirs. I don’t mean that we sing the anthem backwards, but rather, we work on the last section, and then the next-to-last section, and so on until we get to the beginning and the choir members are just about crazy to sing the anthem through from front to back. Without stopping. Which doesn’t happen often when we’re learning a piece. There’s a lot of stopping and starting, but when we have it learned, we run through it from front to back without stopping and it’s glorious. Sometimes.

So here’s a Jeopardy category: Things That May Be Done Backwards. The answer: The New Yorker, the Washington Daily News, and any given choral anthem. I’ll take that for $600, Alex.

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