Saturday, December 31, 2016

New Year's Eve 2016

Tradition and All That Jazz

This year I've decided to eschew the sort of Grand Summary that is so popular among writers on New Year's Eve. I did that sort of thing with last year's entry, so if that's your cup of tea you can go back and read it instead of today's. That entry also details my traditional New Year's Eve celebrations, if you're interested.

As for 2016 as a whole, here's a visual of my sense of it...

"What the actual fuck???"

My Bowl Season

Christmas/New Year's season is also college football bowl season. Even though the so-called "major" bowl games have yet to be played, for my own rooting interests the bowl season wrapped up yesterday

10-3 record, Commander-in-Chief's Trophy winners

The Air Force Falcons came from behind in the Arizona Bowl on Friday, winning 45-21 after scoring 24 unanswered points in the second half. The victory concluded a highly successful 10-3 season.

The teams for whom I root who went to bowl games this season wound up 3-1 in those games. Navy (9-5) lost the Armed Forces Bowl on a field goal as time expired, but Boston College (7-6) beat Maryland to win the Quick Lane Bowl, and Army (8-5) wrapped up their best season in 20 years by winning the Heart of Dallas Bowl in thrilling overtime fashion.

"You can't fool me! You're still going to watch all those other games, too!"

As a fan of the sport, sure...of course I'll be rooting for my best friend Skip's Penn State Nittany Lions in the Rose Bowl...and I suppose I'll grudgingly root for Iowa in the Outback Bowl as well...

Happy Birthday!

"The Goldfish," 1912

On December 31, 1869 Henri-Émile-Benoît Matisse was born in Le Cateau-Cambrésis in northern France.

Although he studied law and worked for a time in the courts of his hometown, his life changed forever when a bout of appendicitis required a lengthy convalescence. His mother provided him with art supplies to help pass the time, and Matisse found his true passion. To the dismay of his parents, he abandoned the law for a career as an artist.

Matisse went on to become one of the most important figures in 20th century art. When I began decorating my classroom with fine art prints some years ago, there were several Matisse works which appealed to me, and now I have a number of them hanging in my apartment. I even have a Matisse coffee mug!

"Why is it that all of your favorite artists have such weird styles?"

I see no need  to defend my taste in art to a quadruped who spends much of his time with his snout jammed in an anthill...


Like many adults I will be imbibing some alcoholic beverages later this evening to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. The only issue to be decided is which alcoholic beverage...

It is possible that I might keep things simple by making myself
a few gin & tonics using one of my latest discoveries, the most excellent Aviation Gin, made in Oregon...

I may also go a more traditional (for me) route with the Vodka Collins, using Tito's Vodka (made in Texas, of all places)...

If it weren't for the fact that New Year's Day is also a Sunday I might treat myself to some good Scotch, but I don't want to oversleep...

Bowl Fatigue

From the pen of Henry Payne, whose editorial cartoons you should read often, as I do.

Until Next Year...

Of all of the songs associated with this time of year, the one I've had the most difficult time with is the classic "Auld Lang Syne." For most of my life I have struggled to find
a rendition that doesn't make me cringe.

The first version I ever remember hearing was the Guy Lombardo arrangement made famous on New Year's Eve telecasts when I was a kid. As I grew up, of course, that sort of schmaltzy treatment did nothing for me. Almost every instrumental version of the song I've ever heard either slavishly apes the Lombardo formula or goes for a bombastic orchestral style that seems inappropriate to me. While the occasion might be one of celebratory partying, the song isn't really about that at all.

It gets worse when you try to find a good vocal rendition. Virtually every singer who takes on the material feels obligated to "own" it with their particular stylistic touches, which can be everything from country & western nasal twang to melisma-drenched
pop diva nonsense. And there are few things worse than hearing non-Scots attempting the correct Scottish pronunciations of Robbie Burns's lyrics.

When preparing this section of last year's New Year's Eve entry, I came across a marvelous version of "Auld Lang Syne" by Scottish artist Dougie MacLean, on his album Tribute.

I had been a fan of MacLean's ever since his "The Gael" was used as the main theme for Trevor Jones's score for The Last of the Mohicans (easily my all-time favorite soundtrack), and his version of "Auld Lang Syne" is perfect: Gentle and quiet, with just the right sense of wistfulness Burns wished to convey, and with
a proper Scottish accent to boot.

When I began this blog one of my intentions was to avoid repetitions in this section, which is designed to share music which I love as a way to help others understand me. With only an occasional slip-up I have adhered to that goal, but for me there is simply no better "Auld Lang Syne" than this one, and I make no apologies for featuring it again.

Today's send-off is the original Tribute album track, from Dougie's YouTube channel. Enjoy...and remember...

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