I've seen pictures of my younger self posed in pajamas in front of the refrigerator, but I have distinct memories of only three New Year's Eves in my life.

The first was spent at my uncle's mother's house with my older cousins. It was the 80s, and I barely made it to midnight to drink my non-alcoholic cider before I fell asleep. I probably wasn't 10 years old, but I do remember feeling, perhaps for the first time, like I was a real adult.

The second was while working as a waiter at Chili's in the mid-90s. The restaurant closed at midnight that evening, so the manager on duty brought some champagne for all of us who had to close (my favorite shift). I didn't finish my glass. It wasn't the first bubbly I'd had, but it did cement my opinion that I do not like it. Alcohol isn't my bag, baby.

The third was twenty years ago tonight: New Year's Eve 1999. Mom came from Scottsdale to Athens, and we had dinner at the 24-hour Shoney's restaurant Trey was working in. He had the overnight shift, so Mom and I went back to the house (on Big Oak Circle) to watch fireworks and waited for the Y2K bug to end civilization as we knew it. Good times.

Half a lifetime later, I'm planning on celebrating the calendar change tonight with my favorite pastime: playing video games. I probably won't be making any indelible memories, but I will start the new year while having a good time. Isn't that what New Year's Eve is really about?

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Father Time comes for everyone, even dogs

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For Christmas, I gave my mother the gift you give someone who has everything: a cold.

Maybe she'll forgive me by next Christmas.

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The difference between Superman and Santa Claus...

Superman doesn't care for your reindeer games!
Superman's Christmas Adventure #1, 1940

...is that Superman doesn't need you to leave out cookies and milk.

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Still looking for that last minute stocking stuffer? How about some poo!

Color me bad

This is a vinyl "statue" designed to give to children 3 and up to color in with the provided markers (blue, red, and, yes, brown).

Merry Christmas, kids!

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Second try on gingerbread cookies. This time I used a 50% smaller cutter, but I only cut the bake time by 25%. Oops. As a result, they're a little crispy. At least they're well dressed.

Everybody's crazy 'bout a sharp-dressed gingerbread man

Frankly, the taste is nice enough, but they could be burnt crisp and I'd still like them. The scents of gingerbread and peppermint are the best things about Christmas.

Next year: colored icing. (I think I'll make that my New Year's Resolution.)

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July is a big Steve Martin fan

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Friend Randy complained when my last movie post promised eleven movies and only delivered five. I correct that omission here.

198. (1637.) Terms of Endearment (1983)
Several times during the movie (which is surprisingly more of a comedy than a tragedy), I asked myself "Why am I still watching this." I don't have an answer. The acting is good, yes (in fact, the cast is phenomenal), but the subject matter really isn't that engaging to me. Whatever. Just not my thing.

Except for the Coke.

Drink Coke! (Terms of Endearment)
Spoiler: Teddy is not careful.

199. (1638.) Smithereens (1982)
More my thing, at least in spirit. The actual story — a girl constantly making the wrong decisions in life — wasn't particularly captivating for a whole two hours, but the "indie" (read: cheap) filmmaking style was immersive, like these were real, heavily flawed, people. Felt like a Warhol film.

200. (1639.) I Am a Thief (1934)
A detective mystery (with a little romance) set on a train. Thin and lightly contrived, but still a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

201. (1640.) Downton Abbey (2019)
I told Mom I wanted to go to the movies, and she said she wanted to go, too, so long as we saw this. So we did. I'd never seen an episode and can't believe they are all as good as the film was. Mom assures me they are. I was particularly thankful for the recap the theater ran in front of the actual film so that I had at least an inkling of who the houseful of players were. The most impressive thing about the plot is the incredibly low-stakes plot. There have been many, many dramas that have managed to do far less with much more.

(Sidenote: Mom and I weren't the only two in attendance. A couple of rows in front of us were three people who, it turned out, were watching the film again in anticipation of a vacation to visit the filming location, Highclere Castle.)

202. (1641.) In a Lonely Place (1950)
Is Bogart a murderer or just a bad guy? Is he aware of his own flaws? Is he deserving of love? Overall, a great noir movie. (There's a running gag in the movie about Bogart's screenwriter character having not read the book he's turning into a movie. Apparently, that was the case for this movie and the book it's based on. Meta!)

203. (1642.) Image Makers: The Adventures of America's Pioneer Cinematographers (2019)
TCM closed their month-long salute to cinematographers with this documentary highlighting the accomplishments of some of the best film has to offer. As a film buff, I found it engrossing, especially the anecdotes about the early days of Hollywood.

More to come.

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Last year I vowed that instead of gingerbread houses in 2019, I would make gingerbread men. It was a good decision.

I looked at a bunch of gingerbread cookie recipes before deciding which to use. (I didn't want to use my house recipe because I wanted cookies that didn't have the texture of drywall.) Like apple pie recipes, most gingerbread recipes are very similar, deferring primarily in the ratio of flower flour to butter. The one I decided I liked best I found in the Tis the Season Holiday Cookbook (2000) by Mary Engelbreit. It must have been another good good decision. I made 2 dozen on Friday, and they were all gone by Sunday.

As you can see, I had some trouble with piping the royal icing. My first try was too thin (overcompensating for the 2018 disaster), and the second batch popped the seam of my makeshift Ziploc pastry bag. I got the hang of it only relatively late in the game.

Now that I know what I'm doing, I guess I'll just have to make some more.

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He will never wear that again

This is far better than most comics published by DC these days
Created by Kerry Callen of KerryCallen.Blogspot.com

That's my Batman!

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To be continued...

 

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