Saturday, December 31, 2011

Year End Round Up

It's nearing 6pm here and I'm on a push to finish this post...otherwise the title would be rendered invalid.

For those that don't know this, St. John's is the first city on the North American continent to celebrate New Years. The time difference makes it a bit awkward to watch Dick Clark (whoa, he's 82 now!) and such New Years eve shows on the TV. The ball drops in the Big Apple at 1:30am our time. I've taken out my false teeth and used my walker to make my way to bed long before that.

We've enjoyed the neighbourhood Christmas lights the past few weeks but they will soon be coming down. Except for those who leave them up all year round. My favourite (again) this year is the large display of muted green, blue and purple lights in the trees along the busy boulevard from our provincial parliament buildings to the university. My pet peeve is the dozens of ladders on the sides of homes with fake elves perched on the rungs. Also on that list are inflatable candy canes that light up and those inflatable clear balls with blowing snow and a Santa trapped inside. They remind me of the display at St. Patrick's Church back in London. The big fella and his crozier are proudly displayed on its front lawn encased in a clear plastic cylinder. He seems a bit excluded from the general public, but at least he's protected from snakes.

Where was I...yes, Christmas displays that leave me scratching my head. You see a lot of homes here with those little electric lights sitting on the sills of all the front windows. They look like little menorahs except there are fewer lights involved and they're made of plastic. I'm not sure if they are symbolic of something. Does anybody out there know? Please enlighten me. Finally, have you seen those lit-up deer all over the place. You know the ones...a light metal frame in the general shape of a deer with small, white lights strung all over it. I think they sell them at Costco. Probably every where else as well, going by the number that can be found grazing on the front lawns of houses in this area. I did see a photo of one deer display that showed great humour and a lot of originality. The gutted deer in the picture to the left was hanging from an arbour SOMEWHERE in North America. There's a lot of hunters living here and I'm sure the trend will catch on for NEXT year.

I watched a couple of really good independent movies on IFC this holiday season. The first was a comedy-drama called 'The Station Agent' (2003). It's about a young man with achondroplastic dwarfism who inherits from a friend a small train station in Newfoundland, New Jersey (yeah, that's the's just a coincidence...honest). Fin (an amazing performance by Peter Dinklage) seeks a life of solitude, shying from human interaction. However his neighbours find ways to insinuate themselves into his life. This tale of friendship and lonliness was written and directed by Thomas McCarthy and is well worth your time should you see it in the TV listings (or chose to rent it).

Another thoughtful movie is 'Saint Ralph' (2005), written and directed by Michael McGowan. This story begins in Hamilton, Ontario in 1953 and is about a boy whose mother is in failing condition in hospital. This young man, played with tons of charm by Adam Butcher, is a social outcast and attends a Catholic school. He decides the only way she can be helped is with a miracle and he sets out to train for the upcoming Boston Marathon. The cynical and dismissive headmaster is played with uncharacteristic malice by Newfoundland's Gordon Pinsent. This is a good one to lift one's spirits and has a lot of laughs.

This year has seen me mainly unproductive in the writing world. Even the frequency of blogging has fallen off the past couple of months. It's now 3 hours until midnight. I'd make a resolution to do better if I believed in that sort of thing. I'm of the mind that if one wants to improve they should work on it at any time of the year, not just January the first. I'd like to wish you all the best for 2012. May health and happiness be the order of the day for you and yours, my friends.


A Daft Scots Lass said...

♥ Happy 2012 ♥

Gigi said...

Happy New Year, Alan! Let's hope 2012 is a great one.

Here's several explanations for the lights (or candles) on the window sills.

Cathy Olliffe-Webster said...

Thanks for the movie tips, Alan.

I, for one, would love to see you blogging more in 2012. And please, find time for writing. You're SO good at it.!
All the best to you and the family this year!

Jerry said...

Immediately St. John's caught my eye. I visited there many times while stationed in Argentia, Newfoundland while in the Navy. And it never, not once, occurred to me that it is the easternmost city in North America.

You see, I learn from you.

Let's make 2012 work for all of us.

John Wiswell said...

I still haven't checked out Saint Ralph yet. I'll take this as further needling to watch it.

Craig Smith said...

Hardly ever see Christmas lights on houses here, guess we just don't have the right season for it.

Those movies sound good, will try check them out.

Alan W. Davidson said...

Gillian- Many thanks for the New Years greetings.

Gigi- Thanks for that link to the stories behind the candles in the windows. The Irish one makes sense as most of the population on this island are decended from Irish immigrants.

Cathy- I WOULD like to blog more this year. And that's a sweet thing to say about a writing hack like me.

Jerry- Agreed. 2012 should work for us. Hope that you have fond memories of this place. I've been living here for over five years and still learning things about the culture. I didn't know that you were a navy guy.

John- There are so many fine movies to view yet so little time...

Craig- Perhaps people would be more in the mood for Christmas lights if it actually snowed there. Thanks for dropping in....must admit that it's been ages since I popped into your blog. Hope the writing has been goint well for you.