Note: This first appeared in the Life, Under Construction newsletter on January 1, 2024. For subscription information, click the button below.

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Happy New Year

Another party’s over
And I’m left cold sober
Baby left me for somebody new
I don’t wanna talk about it
Want to forget about it
Wanna be intoxicated with that special brew
— “My Melancholy Blues
by Freddie Mercury (Queen)


Dear Readers,

You know you’re getting older when the ball drops in New York and that’s late enough, thanks. Off to bed.

I find myself in a agreement with Jonah Goldberg, who wrote in his G-File newsletter:

No other holiday combines the three things I hate most: existentialism, getting bumped in packed bars, spilled beer on my shoes, social pressure for “date nights,” TV specials with the worst people pretending to have a great time, staying up later than I want, waiting in a line to pee, watching performers I’ve never heard of lip sync songs I don’t like, glitter, trying to get reservations at places I don’t want to go to in the first place, forced enthusiasm by very large crowds, and celebrating accomplishments that require no effort.

Did I say three? Whatever.

Or, as someone else posted on Monster X, formerly known as Twitter, “New Years Eve is the worst holiday. It combines the anxiety of getting older with awkward social interactions and adds a timer.”

Fortunately, we had the Green Bay Packer game, so social awkwardness was avoided.

New Year’s Eve and St. Patrick’s Day lost their charm when early in my younger drinking days of college life when every day was an occasion to have a drink and thanks for the refill. I’ll have another.

Mostly New Year’s Eve was an evening of disappointment for me as nothing interesting happened and the next day everything was closed. At best I could hope for was a mild hangover and the avoidance of any trouble. At worst, it would result in a terrible hangover and stupid behavior on my part.

Finally, when I entered the working world, I remembered being invited out to a bar with friends after my shift. Everyone had champagne except for me because I arrived too late. It was a little bit like the protagonist in James Joyce’s Araby who discovers the bazaar wasn’t as wonderful as described.

Not to say every New Year’s Eve has been a disappointment. As I’ve gotten older, and happily married, I certainly enjoy the time I spend with my wife. But I would’ve preferred an evening at home than a night out with the drunks. This year, we did go out, as reluctant as I was given that I’m getting over my cold. It was a nice evening of hors d’oeuvres, football and adults talking.

What I am noticing is that in our social group is consuming less alcohol and talking more about kids, church and work. Regardless of the holiday or occasion, I rarely see anyone who has had too much to drink. That makes me very un-Wisconsin-like.

We can count on two lasting benefits of the New Years holidays. The U2 song New Year’s Day, that’s pretty good.

All is quiet on New Year’s Day
A world in white gets underway
I want to be with you
Be with you night and day
Nothing changes on New Year’s Day
On New Year’s Day

However, the music video makes me question the band’s intelligence. Who leaves the relatively mild climate of Dublin for Sweden in December? Didn’t somebody in the band say, “What the f—, do you know how cold it is there? Let’s film this one down at the pub.”

According to Wikipedia, our favorite expert source:

U2 guitarist Edge said in the official U2 biography that the four people riding on horseback in the video that appeared to be the four U2 members were in fact four Swedish teenage girls disguised as the members of U2 riding on horseback with masks over their faces, because the band were frozen from shooting the video in sub-freezing temperatures the day before.

No kidding. But since the song was (in part) a tribute to Poland’s Solidarity movement, we’ll give Bono and the boys some credit for trying.

The other contribution to Western Culture is the movie, “After the Thin Man.”The second movie in the series of six Thin Man movies starring William Powell and Myrna Loy as Nick and Nora Charles is almost as good as the first film.

Nick Charles: Who was that?
Nora Charles: Oh, you wouldn’t know them, darling. They’re respectable.

In this classic mystery/comedy, Nick and Nora return to San Francisco to discover their home has been taken over by a party in their absence. Before they can join the fun, Nora’s cousin becomes a suspect in the murder of her estranged husband. A rogues gallery of suspects close to the victim and the family reveals that the difference between snooty and seedy is just a matter of which end of the gun you’re on. But one person is guilty of more than just petty crimes. Who is the murderer?

You could spend a day with The Thin Man movies, but this sequel was the best and worthy even of being a stand alone film experience.

It’s not as if your New Year’s Day calendar is filled with traditional activities. The College Bowl games have been robbed of all importance, making the sport resort to a Charley Finley-style stunt and roasting a human Pop Tart alive.

Just be thankful you’re not the former chancellor of UW-La Crosse, Joe Gow, who is going to have more time to spend at home cooking with his wife and other internet porn stars. The couple, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, advertised themselves as, “The Passionate plant-powered couple cooking, conversing, and shooting with top adult video stars. Visit our LoyalFans and OnlyFans sites for fully explicit scenes!”

Here’s to new beginnings for the happy couple.

As for me, I’m going to spend the day reading and trying to make my new FitBit work, part of my resolution to make myself healthier in 2024. I need to get healthier because I have a feeling that the politics of Wisconsin and the country at large are going to drive me to drink.

Which leads me to my other New Year’s resolution. I’m going to teach my daughter how to mix a few cocktails, including the classic martini and the Wisconsin favorite Brandy Old Fashioned. What other classic cocktails should she learn how to make? Let me know at JW -at

Happy New Year!

James Wigderson
Waukesha, WI

From Life, Under Construction, January 1, 2024. To learn more, click the button below.

Life, Under Construction
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