Sunday, December 09, 2007

The Mouse and the Wolf and The New Year

Being a basically non-practicing Buddhist, which is a non-deist religion, this month is supposed to not have much meaning for me. I mean, if I wasn't a non-practicing non-deist Buddhist, I'd be an atheist.

Still, I like the seasonal music, movies lights, decorations, etc. I like to exchange presents. I like any excuse for presents. I am Fox News' nightmare: the person who says "happy holidays," and doesn't really care about the original reason for the season. There seem to be a lot of reasons for the season, at any rate. Happy Chanukah! Happy Eid-Al-Adha! Merry Christmas! Unfortunately, nothing for us Buddhists.

While I have a peculiar fondness for "Good King Wenceslas" and "Greensleeves" (it's my affection for medieval lit and music), here are two of my favorite songs, both written by Frank Loesser.

Baby It's Cold Outside was originally a duet performed by Loesser and his wife at dinner parties. That in itself is such a charming detail. The male's part is called "the wolf" and the female's part is called "the mouse."

This is more cute than creepy, maybe because Neptune's Daughter was made in 1949, when times were more innocent and wolves trying to entrap mice were honorable (cough). This features Esther Williams and Ricardo Montalban (yes, he of Fantasy Island and The Wrath of Khan):

I love this song, and this movie is so lame it's cute. And the song is true: it's cold outside. Stay in. Have a cup of cocoa. Stay longer. For more convincing, here's the sexiest version of the song, by Ray Charles and Betty Carter. Dinah Shore and Ann Miller doubleteam Fred MacMurray and turn tables on the patriarchy here.

I predict that Ben Wolfson will make fun of me for highlighting this particular version of What Are You Doing New Year's Eve, but I like Diana Krall's smokey timbre (although I very much like this King Curtis sax version):

I actually always spend New Year's with my sister, since I'm always visiting my parents from Christmas till a few days after the New Year. It's our thing to have the least celebratory, mundane New Years' each year. We're not into big parties, attaching excessive cultural significance to a day that's just like any other day (I know it's the "new year," but years are for me academic), and feeling angsty about stupid things like what you should do and who you should be with at midnight. Forget "When Harry Met Sally." I'm not into Valentine's either. I'd rather some other random day to get chocolate and presents and flowers, a holiday that should occur more often than once a year. The only occasions I like to celebrate formally are birthdays and the winter holiday.

So anyway, in case you were asking, that's what I'm doing New Year's Eve. I'll be at my parent's house, surfing the internet, and watching some Christmas movie with my sister. That I can predict this with almost 100% accuracy is comforting, where once I considered it pathetic.

I suppose the real question is, what are you doing the next year? New Year's Eve is just a day, like any other day. The hopefulness of the song attaches to the days thereafter, that a fresh start may be made together, and while it may be premature to ask, here's the question anyway. That's what I like about it.