It’s high time now for 2013 to kick the bucket—I mean on this blog. Until a 2014 post appears, the last year hangs around, at least in the margin. So it is time. That phrase—“kicking the bucket”—appearing in my mind, I did what I’ve done at least five times before since the appearance of search-engines. I tried to discover the origin of that phrase. Wikipedia does its best (here) but largely fails, I think. Suicide? Not very likely. The reflexive, spasmodic stiffening of leg muscles appeals to me, accompanied, no doubt, by that “last gasp.” For me the best depiction of this supposed terminal action is held in the movie It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. The kicking is done by Jimmy Durante quite early in the movie, and it looks awfully authentic.
In my childhood back in Europe, comedy put its stamp on the last day of year on the radio. Even as young children, Brigitte and I used to listen to those broadcast as bright children would, not really getting the jokes but enjoying the novelty of late, late, late-night radio listening. On my last shopping trip in 2013, also listening to the radio, I noted with pleasure that NPR had embraced that sort of programming too on the 31st. While my trip lasted, the object of the jokes was Microsoft and its famed leader, Bill Gates. And the snippets were extremely funny.
Therefore it’s appropriate to part with that year lead by Jimmy Durante. Like all real comics he was a contrarian figure who managed to delay his own passing by almost a whole month. He kicked the bucket in actuality on January 29, 1980—no doubt needing to rest up, first, from his antics on December 31, 1979. Humor lifts us above the dreary fray. Our sense of humor may well be our best gift from on High.