New Year's Eve Day was to be a family gettogether, the first time in years that every member of my immediate family would be in the same room at the same time, never mind adding in the spouses and children and, of course, bunny_hugger. After some dithering we took a single car, saving some redundant driving but also meaning bunny_hugger and I would leave when my parents did. It turned out that everyone was breaking up about that time anyway, though.
My elder niece was thrilled to see bunny_hugger, although I'm not positive she actually recognized bunny_hugger. She's mostly thrilled by all sorts of things going on. That they were accompanied by snacks and the playing of Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in the background only helped things. Also, I hadn't realized some of the finer points of Willie Wonka, most disturbingly the chopping off of a chicken's head; the scene may have needed a disturbing image, but there are many disturbing images that could've gone in its place.
There were a few presents exchanged: my sister-in-law gave bunny_hugger a picture based on Edvard Munch's Scream but recast at an amusement park. More were presents to my younger niece, which were mostly toys of various levels of loudness. My elder niece helped in unwrapping them, because she's really into unwrapping. (I did also give one of those hefty Barnes & Noble gift table books of Hans Chrisitan Anderson fairy tales, since I think that's among the things children should have, even if any particular fairy tale should probably be vetted before reading.) And while the new baby was understandably a dominant conversation topic, it wasn't the only one, and we were able to talk about my brother and his girlfriend and their lives outside new-parenthood.
Towards the end of the night my brother (the married one) invited me upstairs to ``look at something'', which did not for a moment fool bunny_hugger into thinking it might be something other than what it was: a friend of my brother's is a jeweler, and he had a possible engagement ring for me to consider. I'd have liked to have had a ring by the time I actually proposed, but there just wasn't time to arrange it. It was just a few moments and bunny_hugger was kind enough to pretend she didn't suspect what was up.
After all the family visiting and snacking, things broke up in the early evening, and we went back home to eat slightly more substantially at home. I'd guessed a restaurant would probably be booked solid for New Year's Eve, although I didn't know this from actual firsthand experience. But bunny_hugger and I had a show to get to in Asbury Park later anyway.
My mother recommended we take her car, the Toyota Something, over mine, noting that New Year's Eve saw the greatest number of stolen cars of any day of the year, and that her ``old person's car'' was probably less attractive than my somewhat sporty Scion tC. bunny_hugger noted that car thieves are often more interested in parts rather than whole cars, so the Something might be at least as attractive. This may be, too.
The show, the Gas House Gorillas, was in Asbury Park's Wonder Bar, not far from the Stone Pony or the Silverball Museum (another place we intended gonig), and also not far past another Windmill hot dog place. The show was to start at about 9:30, and we figured on getting there a bit before 9:00, which turned out to be quite enough time. We'd expected it to be a packed place, but we had an almost free choice of seats.
The Wonder Bar itself is divided into a bar-based area with a handful of tables --- we took one of them, next to the window --- and a performance area with a couple tables and small dance floor. We settled in with a few drinks (well, for me, Diet Coke) and talked some (and I noticed they had last Saturday's Asbury Park Press on the windowsill beside our table), fiddling with the noisemakers and hats and tiara waiting on the table. The show --- with just the name band, no warmup --- started at about 9:30.
The Gas House Gorillas we'd gotten the impression were rockabilly, and comically inclined. The band name is taken from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, after all. (Well, properly, they don't say that, but their web site mentions drawing comic inspiration from sources like the Marx Brothers and the Warner Brothers cartoons, so I feel safe supposing this to be the inspiration.) The band is much more swing-oriented, at least in this performance, not to mention quite fun.
They performed really well, and quite enthusiastically. It was already a great performance when the lead singer took out a ukulele and played ``Everyone Says I Love You''. Remember the mention of the Marx Brothers as influence? It was that sort of show. Great all around.
There was, as mentioned, a dance floor, and there were several really good swing dancers there, people who were able to move the way characters in Fleischer cartoons featuring swing music dance. bunny_hugger was also up for dancing, and I was glad to give it a try despite my chronic lack of knowledge how to do this. She did try to guide me in such things as correctly identifying the beat --- I know there is one, it's just that I have a natural clapping rhythm and if the beat doesn't match that then I can't do much to change it --- or in moving on the dance floor somewhere around that beat and in something which resembled a recognized form of dance. She was tolerant of my dance efforts, only occasionally glancing at me with that same look she has when I apparently chose my own clothes.
Over on the bar area of the Wonder Bar, they had near a dozen TV sets, all showing miscellaneous programs, mostly football games, when we arrived. Over the course of the night they gradually all switched over to Dick Clark's New Year's Rocking Eve, although with the sound low enough they weren't competing with the Gas House Gorillas, and leaving us with the problem of guessing why Lada Gaga was dressed as a Thanksgiving turkey apparently.
It allowed us, though, to see in the last minute of the old year and the start of the new with the TV sets counting things down --- the Regular Definition and the High Definition sets a few seconds out of synch and don't think that didn't bother me (the High Definition was running behind, so I take Regular Definition to have been more nearly right) --- and the Gas House Gorillas lead singer also trying to drive a bar countdown out of synch with both of them. Never mind what my watch said. We also had small plastic glasses of champagne handed out by the bar staff. It was, naturally, not the best champagne one might have, and if I think about it too long my eyes start to tear up again, but it allowed us to toast the new year together.
The Gas House Gorillas ended up performing for a total of over two hours, until comfortably after midnight (they took a reasonable break, but otherwise performed steadily the whole evening). But the show did eventually wind down, and the bar staff brought around excess food to give free to a good home --- we got some mini chocolate eclairs this way --- and people went off, drifting home. Tolerably after midnight we joined the journey home. Apart from stopped police cars flashing their lights every three-quarters of a mile, it was an unexceptional drive home.
After that we turned on the Christmas tree lights so we could exchange gifts to each other, for our little extra Christmas tradition. She gave to me several comic strip collections, just the sort of thing I like. I gave to her some art supplies and a pair of ``ride T-shirts'' I'd had made for a pair of Seaside Heights attractions which we found very attractive.
bunny_hugger and I were thrilled with the way the night turned out, and to the performance. We want to do something next New Year's Eve, too. It will be hard to match this year transition, though.
Trivia: The Magna Carta of 1215 directed that royal judges would hold county court sessions four times per year. This was dropped to a more manageable one per year when the charter was reissued in 1217, although even this was beyond what the English government could organize at the time. Source: 1215: The Year Of Magna Carta, Danny Danziger, John Gillingham.
Currently Reading: Bloom County: The Complete Library: Volume Four: 1987 - 1988, Berkeley Breathed. Rosebud the Basselope turns up a lot earlier than I thought s/he did.