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Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Feliz Año Nuevo!

Niles and I don't go out on New Year's Eve. I'd want to, if we could go to the kind of party Jimmy Stewart and Carole Lombard went to in Made for Each Other, with shining silver decorations and good music and no ugly, screaming singers.

And that's why we don't pay any attention to New Year's Eve, TV, either, except for a minute or so to watch the ball drop in Times Square. The NYE shows are full of people dressed like thugs screaming their lungs up. That ain't music, kids.

(Yes, I am Officially Old.)

But a couple of years ago we found a show we did like to watch on New Year's Eve. It's on Univision, one of the Spanish language networks. This despite the fact that my Spanish is very iffy and Niles's is nonexistent. (Though he does watch soccer in Spanish. I believe he finds that being unable to understand the color commentary enhances his enjoyment of the game.)

The Univision NYE show takes place on a what seems to be a talk show set. The host is a guy who looks like Gerhard Schroder, and he always has a couple of oily young men with bad haircuts, a handful of jiggly young women in skimpy costumes, and is occasionally joined by some leathery old geezers for sentimental moments. After a few minutes of talk the host introduces a band, they play a song, and afterwards chat with the host for a couple minutes. Then it's off for a commercial, and when we come back there's more corny yuks (this is clear even across the language barrier) with the bouncy young women and the over-moisturized young men.

I like this show because of its old-fashioned innocence. Last year the audience was full of everyone from teens to old ladies, and they all seemed to be having a swell time. This year the audience seemed mostly young folk (we figure it's filmed in August or something).

But all good things must come to an end, and at 12:30 Gerhard and Co. sign off, leaving us to the tender mercies of the NYE program for the young and hip, hosted by a couple of thuggishly-dressed young people.

Now, when you take your headphones off, what you see is pretty much what's on the English-language shows: singers in odd costumes backed by pretty young people dressed in rags and convulsing to sweaty dance routines. Put the headphones back on, however, and you get music. We saw one young feller in red leather pants leaping about the stage, his back-up dancers thrusting and presenting, but when we could hear the music we found he was singing a beautiful ballad.

And this was true of the two or three other numbers we hung around for. I guess criminal couture is so fashionable it can't be dispensed with, even for crooners. Anyhow, it's a relief to know there's someplace they're still playing music, as opposed to obscene screamings, even if I can't understand the words in either case.

(Back in my day, sonny, we had real singers, like David Cassidy and Bobby Sherman and that nice little Michael Jackson...)

That second show had one of those "Cavalcade of Stars" intros, where they name all the acts you're going to get to see for 2.3 seconds each. (Daddy Yankee! Shakira! Tonny Tun Tun! Christian Castro! Gabriel Garcia Marquez! Queen Latifah! John Kenneth Galbraith! and Carrot Top!) (OK, so some of those I kinda made up.) It reminded me of the intro to the Star Wars Holiday Special (Bea Arthur! Harvey Korman! Art Carney! and Starship!). It's good to know that there's a world where cheese (or queso) still lives. I should learn Spanish.

Oh, and I found out, from that second show, that "Gerhard Schroder" is actually Don Francisco (WARNING! Wikipedia!), ne Mario Kreutzberger, whose parents feld Nazi Germany for Chile. He's the host of Sábado Gigante, which I'd heard of but never seen. It sounds fun. And cheesy.