Happy Year’s End

For those staying in tonight, the Old Life movie recommendation for New Year’s reflections is Hudsucker Proxy, the fifth movie that Joel and Ethan Coen made. It is their homage to the genre of RomCom, and it even explains wisely (for mmmmeeeeEEEEE anyway) why people make such a big deal of changing wall calendars. From the script:

NARRATOR (VOICE OVER) It’s 1958 — anyway, for a few mo’ minutes it is. Come midnight it’s gonna be 1959. A whole ‘nother feelin’. The New Year. The future…

The SINGING, a little MORE AUDIBLE, but still not close, is “Auld Lang Syne.”

NARRATOR (V.O.) …Yeah ole daddy Earth fixin’ to start one mo’ trip ’round the sun, an’ evvybody hopin’ this ride ’round be a little mo’ giddy, a little mo’ gay…

We are MOVING IN TOWARDS a particular skyscraper. At its top is a large illuminated clock.

NARRATOR (V.O.) Yep…

We hear a SERIES OF POPPING sounds.

NARRATOR (V.O.) …All over town champagne corks is a-poppin’.

A big band WALTZ MIXES UP on the track.

NARRATOR (V.O.) …Over in the Waldorf the big shots is dancin’ to the strains of Guy Lombardo… Down in Times Square the little folks is a-watchin’ and a-waitin’ fo’ that big ball to drop…

The LOMBARDO MUSIC gives way to the CHANTING of a distant CROWD: “Sixty! Fifty-nine! Fifty-eight!”

NARRATOR (V.O.)…They all tryin’ to catch holt a one moment of time…

The CHANTING has MIXED back DOWN AGAIN TO leave only the WIND. Still TRACKING IN TOWARD the top of the skyscraper, we begin to hear the TICK of its enormous CLOCK. The clock reads a minute to twelve. Above it, in neon, a company’s name: “HUDSUCKER INDUSTRIES.” Below it, in neon, the company’s motto: “THE FUTURE IS NOW.”

NARRATOR (V.O.) …to be able to say — ‘Right now! This is it! I got it!’ ‘Course by then it’ll be past. (more cheerfully) But they all happy, evvybody havin’ a good time.

We are MOVING IN ON a darkened penthouse window next to the clock. The window starts to open.

NARRATOR (V.O.) …Well, almost evvybody. They’s a few lost souls floatin’ ’round out there…

A young man is crawling out of the window onto the ledge. With the opening of the window, “AULD LANG SYNE” filters out with greater volume.

NARRATOR (V.O.) …This one’s Norville Barnes.

Teach Us To Number Our Years

I have never understood the festivities surrounding the change of the annual calendar, especially when academic and fiscal calendars so often fail to align with the solar year. Mind you, an excuse to party is always welcome, though the advance of years means that New Year’s Eve parties throw a big wrench into the biological clock works. Why the party for the New Year begins in the old one is also a curiosity. Perhaps the fondest memories of New Year’s holidays come from the days when a Watch Night service at Calvary Baptist functioned as the congregation’s party — though merriment ended at midnight when the worship service began — and the holiday itself was filled with college football games, the last of which we would watch at my uncle and aunt’s who opened their home late in the afternoon for a buffet and fraternizing. These days, the new year brings the annoyance of having to tear up erroneously dated checks for the first few weeks of January.

Perhaps, the Coen brothers — the font of so much boomer wisdom — captured the existential resonance of calendar changes in the opening lines of what is the best New Year’s Eve movie — Evveh — Hudsucker Proxy:

The’s right… New York.

It’s 1958 — anyway, for a few mo’ minutes it is. Come midnight it’s gonna be 1959. A whole ‘nother feelin’. The New Year. The
future…

… Yeah ole daddy Earth fixin’ to start one mo’ trip ’round the sun, an’ evvybody hopin’ this ride ’round be a little mo’ giddy,
a little mo’ gay…

Yep… All over town champagne corks is a-poppin’.

… Over in the Waldorf the big shots is dancin’ to the strains of Guy Lombardo… Down in Times Square the little folks is a-watchin’ and a-waitin’ fo’ that big ball to drop…

… They all tryin’ to catch holt a one moment of time…

… to be able to say — ‘Right now! This is it! I got it!’

‘Course by then it’ll be past.