We're ready to make the switch to 2018 — which means it's time to take one last look at this year's batch of columns and take note of all the times I was just plain wrong.
But an odd thing has happened: Upon review of the 48 other columns that have appeared this year (I took three weeks off, because I'm lazy), I didn't find anything that was wrong. Every word in every column was right on the money, at time almost eerily prescient.
Well, almost every word. Fairness requires that I do call to your attention these very few lapses in judgment, ill-timed jokes and bungled columns:
• This is the year I was momentarily confused about which two Christmas songs were the first inductees into my own Think Too Much Holiday Music Hall of Fame. (The first two are Darlene Love's "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" and Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song.") I can only hope that this miscue doesn't put fundraising for the hall even further behind schedule.
• The Nov. 12 column pitched an idea for the next "Star Wars" movie that would focus primarily on the empire's taxation policy. I'm thinking that Rian Johnson and the folks at Disney probably have just misplaced my phone number, because they haven't called yet.
• The Sept. 17 column proposed that Corvallis and Eugene would benefit from forging closer ties. I know. What was I thinking?
• The Aug. 13 column made fun of the forthcoming total solar eclipse and the hype surrounding it. The column of Aug. 27, written a few days after the actual eclipse, tried to offer amends after the event itself (not so much the hype) turned out to be actually awesome. (And, really, can we not use our memories of this event to reclaim the word "awesome?" A total solar eclipse is "awesome." It is not "awesome" when they get your order right at the drive-through.)
• The June 11 column revealed my affection for sunflowers. But my crop this year was a relative failure. If they're such weeds, as some readers argued, why don't they grow back every year without any assistance from me?
• The April 30 column about summer movies that are suitable for adults included some recommendations that, in retrospect, seem unwise: "Snatched," "The Dinner," "Chuck" and "Okja" all underwhelmed. To be fair, I did recommend "Dunkirk," "Logan Lucky" and "The Big Sick."
• The Feb. 26 column outlined all the reasons why "Moonlight" could upset "La La Land" at the Oscars — but then didn't have the guts to officially predict that "Moonlight" would win.
• The Jan. 15 column, about the Linn County-led class-action lawsuit over the state's timber management practices, did contain a bold prediction: that the Benton County Board of Commissioners would opt out of the lawsuit. So, yeah, that was wrong.
In fact, now that I have taken a deep dive into 2017's columns, I'm noticing hundreds of other mistakes. But wouldn't you know it: I'm out of space.
Thankfully, every year offers a fresh opportunity for perfection. Maybe I can get a couple of paragraphs into next week's column, the first of 2018, before I blow it.
By the way, one of my favorite columns of the year involved an Oregon State University doctoral student, Danielle Nelson, who was studying the big noises generated by the Pacific chorus frog. I think I heard the first frog call of the season just this past week, and it thrilled me, as always, but then I worried: It seems too early in the season.
First Night, anyone?
I wrote a number of columns this year about the importance of art and artists, both to our overall quality of life and our economy, and in that spirit, and because today is New Year's Eve, here's a trial balloon:
A few dozen U.S. communities host "First Night" events on New Year's Eve, featuring a number of artists — musicians and dancers and artists of all stripes — performing in a variety of venues, typically from mid-afternoon to just after midnight. The events are alcohol-free and generally family-friendly.
The initial First Night celebration was held in Boston in 1975; at its peak, more than 200 U.S. cities held similar events. The Great Recession, alas, forced most of those to close up shop.
These First Night events take a lot of work to organize, as you might imagine, but I can't help but think that they might work in the mid-valley. (Besides, our Dec. 31 weather usually is better than in, say, Boston.) You'd want venues in both Benton and Linn counties, which adds to the degree of difficulty. But still, this could work, with enough community support. Is there any interest in giving this a shot? If not, well, there's always that Dick Clark special. (mm)