Sunday, December 31, 2006

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

I've spent New Year's Eve a lot of different ways. I've been to huge parties in LA, to clubs, to the Shark Club in Las Vegas, and spent it with family or friends. I think the first NYE that I remember is spending it watching the Sugar bowl in 1973 with my father and seeing Notre Dame beat Alabama 24-23 in a fantastic game. It's too bad there's not a bowl game on any more, it was a nice way to spend the evening, and a very fond memory of my father. In fact, I think this was the first college football game I watched with him that I really enjoyed.

About fifteen years ago I got sick on NYE and decided to stay home and watch TV. (Nick at Night had a "best episodes" countdown, ending with "Chuckles the Clown" episode of THE MARY TYLER MOORE SHOW). It turned out to be one of the best NYE's I'd had to that point. Getting older, I've realized that spending the night out is not a good time. There are too many drunks on the road, and the parties are lame. It's no fun waking up New Year's Day hungover. It's supposed to be a holiday.

So once I got married, I was relieved that I didn't have to worry about NYE plans any more. Now, my wife and I get some takeout (this year from Jerry's) and watch a movie on DVD.

This year we watched the Wim Wenders film LAND OF PLENTY. I really liked it. And coincidentally, it ties in with the New Year's theme of world peace. The film is a two-character study of a young girl returning from an apparent lengthy kibbutz to try to track down her uncle, who turns out to be a Vietnam vet who is obsessed with national security post-911. Michelle Williams is excellent, much better than in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.

The film is very slow getting started and certainly has its weaknesses, mostly in the first act. John Diehl's performance is particularly weak in the opening, which makes the whole film flawed. Robert DeNiro immediately jumps to mind for the Bickle-like part; Diehl also resembles Dean Stockwell, who probably would have better in the part.

The film explores a lot of American themes, including 911. As Williams' character says, we should listen for the voices of the people who died on 911; undoubtedly, they would not want more deaths as a result.

New Year's Day is traditionally a day for reflection on world peace. For me, this is the most important part of the day. Not the liquor, not the parties, not the food, not the football. Today, we are a country at war, a war that has gone on too long for us to be able to pull out of peacefully. The most that we can hope for is as peaceful an end as soon as possible.

If you go out for NYE, please do not drink and drive, and drive carefully and defensively. And please join me in my prayer for peace.
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