For Auld Lang Syne

Well, it’s that time of year again.  Time to pop open a bottle of bubbly in the company of friends and sing “Auld Lang Syne” out of tune as we reflect on the highs and lows of the last twelve months– the triumphs and heartbreaks, the mistakes made, the dreams unrealized, and the loved ones lost.

auldlangsyne

New Year’s Eve may be a time of celebration for most, but certainly not for all.  There’s no doubt that 2015 was kinder to some of us than others, and it’s for those others that tonight is less of a celebration and more of an evaluation– it becomes a moment in time to take stock of our own personal failures from the prior year and determine what kind of mettle we’re made of and what sort of shape we’re in heading into the coming one.  Many of us will attempt to address our shortcomings from this year with resolutions for the next– optimistic ideals and aspirations which, if history is any indicator, will typically fade or fall apart after a few months (as best intentions are want to do).  But that’s exactly what’s so wonderful about the future– absolutely anything is possible, and there’s no harm in hoping for the best.

newyear

So kiss your sweethearts when the clock strikes twelve and count your blessings if you’ve got ’em.  As for me, I’ll do my best not to be too bitter about tonight and simply say “adios” to last year.  So fuck you, twenty-fifteen– you won’t be missed.  Don’t let the door hit your miserable ass on the way out.

 

 

May Thoreau Be With You

forcewalden

I saw the Star Wars memes going around and couldn’t resist doing a shoutout to my homeboy H.D.T.  I deliberately (no pun intended) misspelled “sturdily” because the meme generator wouldn’t accept the correct spelling as the word “turd” was in it.  I mean, really?

Winter is coming…

winteriscoming

Tonight marks the Winter Solstice– the one day out of the year with the least light and the most darkness, which feels about right considering the doom and gloom of the impending holiday.  While this will technically be the longest night of the year, with the sun setting sooner and sooner each day, every night lately has seemed excruciatingly long.

The little daylight we had today here in the northwest corner of the natural state was fantastic, though.  It was a beautiful and balmy 64 degrees this late-December afternoon, and I could find no excuse not to fire up the ol’ Weber and satisfy my primal urge to cook meat over an open flame.  My beat-up hunk-of-junk black Weber charcoal grill has been through an awful lot in its long life, surviving not only many grilling seasons but also multiple ice storms, floods, and falling tree limbs.  One leg on the grill is crippled and completely fucked up, and I’m a little worried that some day it will buckle and cave in whilst in the act of cooking, dumping the kettle on its side, spilling white-hot charcoal briquettes into the pile of dried dead leaves on my patio, and potentially setting my goddamn house on fire.  But I reckon I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.

weberbehold the pinnacle of outdoor cuisine– the Weber charcoal kettle grill

I grilled enough food today to feed an entire fucking family (steaks, ribs, burgers, asparagus, peppers, mushrooms and onions), which is ultimately absurd because I was grilling only for myself since I am alone.  I’m going to freeze the portions I cannot eat so that I can enjoy them several weeks down the road when I’m snowed in and unable to barbecue.  If only I could do the same with sunshine… If I could bottle summer sunbeams, I could nip my seasonal affect disorder right in the bud, as Mayberry’s Deputy Barney Fife would say.

Many years ago, during a moment of domestic bliss between myself and my wife at the time, she made the remark that should we ever get divorced, the one thing she would miss the most was my grilling.  I can remember this moment vividly, and it haunts me to this day.  Now that she’s gone, every time I fire up the grill I think of her and miss her and understand just how alone I am.  As Lydia Deets said, “I am utterly alone.”

Of course, if there’s any time to feel alone and depressed, this is it.  Christmas is the quintessential time to recognize one’s loneliness.  Just hear those sleigh bells jing-a-ling, ring-ting-ting-a-ling too…  c’mon.  It’s that special time of year when one can fully understand and appreciate just how alone he or she truly is.  As for me, I might as well be Charlie Brown checking his mailbox, because I haven’t received a single goddamn Christmas card.  Not a one.  And I can’t say that I’m surprised.  My father complained about the same thing to me over the phone the other day, but he also confessed that he should’ve expected as much since he didn’t send out any cards himself.  That’s life, I guess.

 

One Day at a Time

I’ve been without cable for a few years now.  I only pick up about five channels on my antenna, and two of those channels are the nostalgia networks MeTV and Antenna TV, which serve as a sort-of Nick-at-Nite substitute now that Nickelodeon’s idea of “retro” is Full House and The George Lopez Show.  Seriously?!?  Give me Barney Miller and The Carol Burnett Show any day of the week over that horse shit.

So I’ve been watching a lot of nostalgia television lately, which isn’t such a bad thing– there’s just something about old TV shows (the good ones, anyways) that can’t be matched by today’s programming… there are certain intangibles that even the best shows of today can’t quite touch.  Nostalgia is one of those intangibles, and my brain’s hippocampus was recently kicked into overdrive when I caught the catchy theme song for a show I had completely forgotten about:  One Day at a Time.

“This Is It” – the show’s opening credits

One Day at a Time was the brainchild of television super-producer Norman Lear (All In The Family, Sanford and Son, The Jeffersons, Maude, Good Times, etc.) and this program toed the typical Norman Lear line as a progressive sitcom unafraid to tackle serious social issues of the day.  Airing from 1975-1984, the show followed the trials and tribulations of recent divorcee Ann Romano (Bonnie Franklin) as she re-discovered her identity as both a woman and an individual while single-handedly raising two teenage daughters who looked nothing like her:  Julie Cooper (Mackenzie Phillips) and Barbara Cooper (Valerie Bertinelli).  Well, maybe she didn’t raise the kids “single-handedly,” as the sleazy yet endearing building Super, Dwayne Schneider (Pat Harrington), took on the role of protective father figure in the absence of the girls’ actual father.  Of course, hijinks ensued.

one day at a time 02Seriously… do these people look even remotely related?

I have it on good authority from both of my parents that One Day at a Time was the first television show I truly enjoyed watching because I was apparently in love with Valerie Bertinelli.  When I was a toddler, I could be throwing a fit or crying my eyes out for whatever reason, but as soon as Valerie Bertinelli showed up on screen, I was soothed.  Beauty truly tamed the beast, and I would immediately silence myself and reach out to the TV screen, mesmerized by Valerie’s very Bertinelli-ness.  I had quite the taste in ladies when I was two-years-old, and I wasn’t alone, either, as rock legend Eddie Van Halen saw the same thing I did and MARRIED Ms. Bertinelli when she was only twenty years old.  TWENTY YEARS OLD!!!  Yikes.

valeriebertinelliMy first crush:  Miss Valerie Bertinelli

The premise of tonight’s episode was the 36th birthday of mother Ann Romano, who finds herself coming to terms with the notion of being “middle-aged.”  Barbara is of course of no help whatsoever to her mother when she tries to reassure her with the statistic that the average life expectancy nowadays is 72 (you can watch the expression on Barbara’s face change as she does the math and realizes her mistake).  As I’m watching this particular episode, I can’t help but focus on the fact that I myself am older than Ann was in the show.  So if SHE feels old, well, how in the hell am I supposed to feel?  At least Ann has a family to show for her 36 years.  I have exactly diddly squat.

 one day at a time 01the fam’ learning a valuable life lesson, no doubt

But I know I shouldn’t get discouraged.  Rather, I should listen to the lyrics of the show’s theme song:

So up on your feet– somewhere there’s music playing.
Don’t you worry none, we’ll just take it like it comes,
one day at a time.

This is it.  So straight ahead, and rest assured, you can’t be sure at all.