There are many traditions at this time of year.
The last metaphorical grains of sand are about to slide through 2019's hourglass and increasingly tamped-down New Year's Eve celebrations will be upon us in mere days. Wherever you are, be safe; the good men and women of the emergency services are working while we party. Let's try not to need them.
So, traditions. There's a cocktail recipe coming up, and I'd like to offer a big scoop of the cowboy hat to various outfits which have brought people together and made the cultural scene here a more vibrant place.
We're once again calling these the Golden Turtle Awards, in honour of the giant turtle upon whose back planet earth is supported.
Stephen Hawking told that story. It involves a well-known scientist – some say it was Bertrand Russell - being confronted by an old lady who insisted the world is really a flat plate sitting on the back of a giant turtle. “What is the turtle standing on?” the scientist cunningly enquired. “You're very clever young man, very clever,” said the old lady. “But it's turtles all the way down!”
Next week I'm going to look at music that has filled my heart with bubbles of effervescent happiness throughout 2019 but, first up, here I'll go with films: the latest two of many I'd recommend without pausing for breath are Once Upon A Time In Hollywood and The Irishman. They're available on some convenient streaming service I'm sure.
The former is a change of pace of Quentin Tarantino, an immersive “day in the life” approach rather than his usually tightly-plotted story, with slowly-building tension created in the most unusual of ways and very little violence, aside from a brief but very bloody finale.
I should also mention the two leads: Leo DiCaprio is great fun as the egotistical and sensitive leading man while Brad Pitt is effortlessly cool as his stuntman sidekick, a turn of such charm and understatement it will probably pass a lot of people (and awards) by.
The Irishman is Martin Scorsese's return to Mafia territory after 20 years exploring other worlds. It is also less violent than his films of old – though few characters die from natural causes - a sadder elegiac take on guilt and the inevitable passing of time.
It is also prime Scorsese, with beautiful gliding tracking shots, fantastic editing from Thelma Schoonmaker, and half a dozen of this year's finest film performances, led by the peerless Joe Pesci and Robert DiNiro, with sterling work from Al Pacino, Ray Romano and Stephen Graham. It's a testament to the craft that even at three and a half hours it doesn't feel long. Witnessing such skill and control is a thing of beauty.
Locally, two things stood out for me amongst many events and places that deserve kudos.
The Incubator and their venue the Jam Factory has made visits by a plethora of smaller touring acts possible. It has been a fantastic addition to the Tauranga music scene and everyone involved from conception to daily running deserves a Golden Turtle.
And in amongst much regular music – blues nights at Jack Dusty's in Bureta and jazz jams at The Mount Social Club continue to grow, while the Katikati Folk Club hosted another year of outstanding players – The Entertainers Club stands out for its well-chosen monthly acts, running through blues, jazz, country and more, and even featuring rare appearances from NZ music legends such as Maurice (Human Instinct) Greer (returning on January 12). Kudos to organiser Nicole Stagg for consistently picking varied acts with a wide appeal. Give that woman a Turtle!
And that drink... this year it's ridiculously simple and – trust me – tastes wonderful. It's Portonic. Simply fill a glass with ice then add white port and tonic. Yes, that's the essential bit you won't have – white port. Try a third white port and two thirds tonic, then put in a big thick slice of orange. Three simple things, one glass of refreshing pleasure. You're welcome.
See you next year.