It’s been a long time since New Year’s Eve was a circled-in-red day on the calendar. The idea of packing into some hotel ballroom for a warm glass of champagne at midnight and 10 minutes of kissing strangers is a vision of hell. We had an impromptu gathering at our house in Ann Arbor to welcome in 2004, and that was fun, although the year that followed didn’t play out all that well, and only underlined the idea that less is more on December 31 of any year.
If I had more money to travel, it might be fun to greet the new year in an exotic locale, Guam or atop Mt. Fuji or someplace with cheap firecrackers and new customs. File that one under pipe dreams. Truth be told, one of the best New Year’s Eves I ever had was when I was a kid, and we went next door to celebrate with the neighbors, and the lady of the house made me one apple beignet after another until I couldn’t eat any more. She was Dutch and said it was traditional. Powdered sugar was better than champagne to a 10-year-old.
The problem is the expectation of fun, of course. Even an optimist can find it hard to be merry when you’re expected to be, and after a string of underwhelming years I just gave up. Now our custom is to make a nice dinner, open a better-than-average bottle of wine, pop in a better-than-average rented movie, switch over to Times Square at 11:55 p.m. and go to bed 20 minutes later. Now that I think of it, that was one of the more memorable nights in recent memory, watching “Spartacus” and finishing 19-whatever laughing over the oysters-or-snails scene.
Whatever your plans are tonight, I hope they’re fun and safe and whatever you’d like it to be — oysters or snails.
So, then. Bloggage? Not bloody much. Having completed my entire four-item to-do list yesterday, we celebrated by seeing “Avatar.” I walked in irritable, having inadvertently chosen a 2-D screening time and unwilling to wait three more hours for the next 3-D, and got more irritable as we sat through 15 minutes of ads and 15 minutes of previews of movies I’d forfeit a kidney to avoid (“Clash of the Titans,” anyone? “Release the kraken” — are they serious?). I spent the time thinking how many people I know are calling it “Dances With Blue Cats,” and assuming this was another waste of an afternoon.
Two hours later I was yelling, “Go, red dinosaur!” and reflecting that I hadn’t had this much fun watching the totally predictable since “Star Wars.” Funny how that goes — you watch the setup and reflect that the characters couldn’t be more crudely rendered if they were drawn in grease pencil, the story all but lit with neon signs, and yet you’re still completely entertained. It’s the journey, not the destination.
We’re going to have to see it again in 3-D. No, we won’t. 3-D Imax. Then I never have to see it again.
Actually, what amazes me about special-effects bonanzas like this is how the actors do it. It’s one thing to summon up emotion in a kitchen, another thing in a sound stage, another thing entirely while dressed in a special suit, sword-fighting in front of a green screen. I heard an interview with James Cameron in which he described who played the flying dinosaur Zoe Saldana leaps onto in the course of demonstrating warrior skills to her humanoid pupil — some grip big enough to endure take after take of being leapt upon by a skinny actress. Movie magic.
It’s probably just a pepperoni pizza repeatin’ on him, but the year closes out with a reminder the reaper was busy in 2009, and most of the names on his list were in boldface. Get well soon, Rusty. Because it would be bad karma to wish for a painful…fail, wouldn’t it? Bad. Karma.
Welcome to whatever new readers we’re getting today; we’re ending the old year with a small honor. This blog is included in a Detroit News feature on notable local sites, which I had to stay up late to read. My husband always washes his hands of these things, a wise move. There aren’t many rules in our lively comment section other than: Be interesting. And be aware, the content isn’t usually so lame. Every blogger gets a glide pattern once in a while. In another two weeks this blog celebrates its ninth birthday, plugging along more or less five days a week. It’s worth what you pay for it, and I hope it surprises you from time to time.
Happy new year to all, and fingers crossed for the good kind of surprises.