A toast to the small screen 

Some people prefer to spend New Year's Eve alone, marking the passage of time in quiet contemplation rather than drunken revelry. These people are called "Scientologists."

If your own motivations for holiday solitude are less spiritual, however, a quick trip to the video store will restore the entertainment value you're losing by removing yourself from the yearly demolition derby of impaired driving and bad dates.

Start the night with "Rudolph's Shiny New Year" (Live Home Video), the 1975 claymation classic that sees Santa's four-footed helper rescuing the missing Baby New Year from certain doom. Accompanying the intrepid buck on his quest are a whale and a caveman (the remaining members of Heart are a lock to star in the big-screen remake). In a burst of kid-vid cleverness, the tyke is named "Happy." Remember your own idealistic youth when it seemed as natural to you as it did to Messrs. Rankin and Bass that the coming 12 months would be joyful? But that was before you knew about Orrin Hatch.

Before tearful nostalgia sets in, flip the tape to "The Poseidon Adventure" (Trimark), Irwin Allen's seagoing tale of a New Year's Eve gone horribly awry. You don't have to watch the whole thing. Just stick around until the tidal wave wipes out the captain's table as the midnight toast is raised. What sight could better cater to your adult resentment of the rich and famous? Some of them are scarfing down Carnival Cruise buffets at this very moment; grab some Ritz crackers and scan the Weather Channel for hurricane warnings.

On the other hand, your soul could use a little romance. Sure, you've seen "When Harry Met Sally" (New Line Home Video) so many times on cable that you've memorized the gaffer's name from the closing credits. But that climactic kiss at the New Year's party is just what you need to fill your empty heart with hope for 1999. Try not to dwell on the fact that this film was made 10 years ago, when spending one's life across the table from Meg Ryan (or, God help us, Billy Crystal) was something to shoot for.

Slasher movies never go out of style, so finish your night of year-end mixed emotions with "New Year's Evil" (Paragon Video Productions), in which a punk-rock party sets the stage for murder and mayhem. It'll help you deal with the sound of your upstairs neighbors blasting Rancid as they watch Dick Clark's face drop in Times Square. As a bonus, there's a starring appearance by Roz Kelly, just beginning the free-fall that followed her career "height" of playing Pinky Tuscadero to Henry Winkler's Fonzie. Doesn't your own future seem instantly, miraculously brighter?


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