Well, it's that time of year again - you're attending the corporate Christmas function, which may or may not involve waitresses painted in company colours; and I'm writing the culture column round-up, cheery mug of rooibos at my side.
This year in the arts was all about such cosy familiarity - a settling-in year, after all the Grand Openings and Rugby Cuppings of milestone 2011. We got comfortably familiar with the Auckland Art Gallery, Mangere Arts Centre, Silo Park and Q Theatre; and, in the breather between Auckland Arts Festivals, enjoyed the New Performance Festival, Art in the Dark, the Pacific Arts Summit, Art Week and The Living Room - this last was part of a good year for dance.
So what of those we met along the way? It was a massive year for the JGeeks. First they were featured in this column, and then they reached the finals in New Zealand's Got Talent. They're rumoured to have their own TV3 show coming soon.
The Basement theatre is also in fine fettle. By the time you read this, they will have raised the $21,000 they requested via pledgeme for their new foyer. And - apparently after meeting him at the Franklin Rd lights - they have New Zealand's genius mastermind performance artist Kim Dotcom playing Santa Claus (on screen) in their fundraiser Mega Christmas.
Another excellent and far more disturbing performance artist, Kalisolaite 'Uhila - he of the pigpens and homelessness - presented a work in the Bay of Plenty about the Rena disaster, as did film artist Alex Monteith. It would be good to see them in Auckland too - after all, Rena was a national disaster. Meanwhile, 'Uhila can be seen in next year's Arts Festival in More than We Know at the Gus Fisher Gallery.
But the year wasn't warm and fuzzy for everybody - it was doom and gloom for Bloom and The Room. Both events have extremely enthusiastic followings, but the family festival won't be back for a second round (at least not next year), and the late-night monthly movie has disappeared (permanently?) with the change of ownership at Academy Cinemas. And after 25 exhibitions, artist-run space The Snake Pit has made way for the wrecker's ball in High St (though they're currently co-presenting an exhibition at Sue Crockford Gallery).
This column got website feedback - always an exciting moment. Dear Marching Girls, I'm sorry I called your activity a hobby, not a sport. Sport is of course far more noble than (other) hobbies like singing, dancing and sculpting. Dear Strip Club Patrons, I'm sorry you found my writing style "hard to read" like I was "trying to be too clever".
I guess I did use big words like "misogyny". (And I am genuinely sorry that some readers thought I was having a go at the strippers themselves; I wasn't - some of my best friends, etc.) Hopefully we can all agree that The Dust Palace's Love & Money was a good burlesque show about stripping?
And the emails! Dear Defender of John Key, you're absolutely right; satire has no place in the arts pages.
Whatever next - German zillionaires performing in low-rent productions?