Saturday, December 31, 2011


Today is New Year's Eve. When Susan and I were younger, it was always a night of some kind of activity. A couple of years ago we went out with my sister- and brother-in-law, but that broke a pattern. We have no plans for the evening. And since I'm writing this on New Year's Day, I can tell you exactly what we did. We lay on the sofa and sat in the chair and watched part of the show from New York, the Times Square madness. A sure sign, in my opinion, of just how bored one can be with the whole festive proceedings accompanying the turn of the calendar from one year to the next.

Give it up, Dick. Please.
Nothing so illustrates just where we are than the sight of Dick Clark. It was pitiful. I told Susan he looked like walking death, and he sounded like it, too. (She didn't agree, but then, she didn't really recognize Dick Clark anyway.) The picture at the left doesn't really do him justice, because it doesn't capture the slurred, unnatural voice and the shaking hands. The guy appears to have have a stroke or something. The young host tossed it over to Dick at intervals, and the old codger was allowed to speak a sentence or two before the camera mercifully left him alone. Lord, please spare me from having to be in plain sight of a bazillion people when I'm so old, I'm just short of slobbering. Which is about where "America's Oldest Teenager" is today.

Thankfully, we didn't stay with this show. Some of the music was pretty good, but nothing show-stopping. We switched over to a New Year's Eve concert by Coldplay on Austin City Limits. This was better on the whole than the mixture of musical groups that trotted out in Times Square and in the West Coast echo in L.A.

I ran across this bit today in the "Writer's Almanac", and I thought it interesting. Maybe you will too.
The Times Square celebration dates back to 1904, when The New York Times opened its headquarters on Longacre Square. The newspaper convinced the city to rename the area "Times Square," and they hosted a big party, complete with fireworks, on New Year's Eve. Two hundred thousand people attended, but the paper's owner, Adolph Ochs, wanted the next celebration to be even splashier. In 1907, the paper's head electrician constructed a giant lighted ball that was lowered from the building's flagpole. The first Times Square Ball was made of wood and iron, weighed 700 pounds, and was lit by a hundred 25-watt bulbs. Now, it's made of Waterford crystal, weighs almost six tons, and is lit by more than 32,000 LED lights. The party in Times Square is attended by up to a million people every year.
Other cities have developed their own ball-dropping traditions. Atlanta, Georgia, drops a giant peach. Eastport, Maine, drops a sardine. Ocean City, Maryland, drops a beach ball, and Mobile, Alabama, drops a 600-pound electric Moon Pie. In Tempe, Arizona, a giant tortilla chip descends into a massive bowl of salsa. Brasstown, North Carolina, drops a Plexiglas pyramid containing a live possum; and Key West, Florida, drops an enormous ruby slipper with a drag queen inside it.

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