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SCOTT SIMON, host:

The televised Yule Log first appeared in 1966, when WPIX in New York needed something to fill the hour before a roller derby game. They shot a close-up of a glowing fireplace in Gracie Mansion, where Mayor John Lindsay lived, looped it, and played it for three hours with holiday music. The glowing log became a holiday tradition in a city of apartment dwellers who had no fireplaces. The Yule Log was canceled in 1989, but was fanned back to life for the first Christmas after 9/11, when New Yorkers craved some familiar comforts. Since then, video Yule Logs have been digitally remastered for high definition and this year, a ceaselessly burning 3-D log - that never quite burns down -can be ordered on demand through cable companies. Or you could just send out for pizza and watch that while you hum "White Christmas."

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