I can't remember a year I didn't watch the ball drop in Times Square. But this is the first year it dawned on me that I could barely see the ball for the tower of advertising. In fact, the path the ball travels has been shortened so much by the advertising, they have a problem doing the countdown before it hits the bottom -- which really isn't the bottom or anywhere near it anymore.
Overall, ringing in the New Year on television has become an all-around depressing proposition. I was one who stuck with good ol' Guy Lombardo to the bitter end; none of that new-fangled Dick Clark's Rockin' in New Years Eve for me! My last memory of Guy Lombardo at the Waldorf Astoria is of watching the ancient couples, dressed to the nines, crammed on the dance floor. There was a bittersweetness about it that sort of summed of the idea of New Years Eve.
But Guy, the Royal Canadians and their audience weren't ... uncomfortable ... to watch -- just outdated and just a little goofy. With all due respect to Dick Clark's past accomplishments and his battle to overcome the debilitating effect of his stroke, even the brief time I saw him last night was painful (I was, after all, focusing my evening on the Marx Brothers over at TCM).
In the end, Dirtman encouraged me to switch over to NBC where the countdown was being emceed by people I didn't recognize, but who seemed to think, in the last minutes before the New Year, we wanted to hear about their irrelevant (to a national broadcast of an worldwide event) life stories.
Then they all counted backwards from ten while most of the screen was taken up by flashing lights trying to sell me Japanese electronics.
Next year, I'll just use my cell phone. Happy New Year, every one; may it be as commercial-free as possible...