1. What did you do in 2006 that youâ€™d never done before?
2004: Probably a number of things. None stand out.
2005: Quite a bit, which was a nice change of pace. I became an uncle, quit a job with a plan in place, moved to another state, part-time, stopped working for pay, started working harder for free, began to seriously contemplate buying a house, was a groomsman thrice, went to a wedding where chicks made out on-demand, started an actual real genuine exercise program, organized the fabulously successful Adult Ditch Day, and adapted to life in a small Caribbean town. Oh, and I saw â€œOld Schoolâ€.
2006: Officiated at a wedding, kept a workout log, slept on an inflatabed, threw up so hard I got a nosebleed, and was adopted by a cat.
2007: Ran two miles all at once, finally got a summer off of going to Maine, won an imaginary World Series, and for the first time saw the band of my childhood live.
2. Did you keep your New Yearâ€™s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
2004: I donâ€™t make New Yearâ€™s Resolutions. Too depressing.
2005: I donâ€™t make formal resolutions, but I accomplished pretty much everything I wanted to this year.
2006: I made none. It’s time to start. This time next year, I will not be:
*Unable to run a couple of miles (Nailed)
*Being mocked by the unfinished project on my desktop (Failed)
*Without an apartment in Chicago (Nailed)
*Swearing to resuscitate this blog (Nailed)
*Bitching about unsuccessful weight loss (Incomplete – I mostly stopped bitching, but not for the reason I wanted.)
2007: 3.5 of 5 for 2007. For 2008, let’s roll over the two I missed:
* No more bitching about unsuccessful weight loss because I have dropped enough.
* No more having the beginnings of a book sitting on my desktop laughing at me.
* Take one genuine Friday-at-three-to-a-week-from-Monday-at-nine vacation like a normal person.
* Make significant progress toward home ownership.
* Ten consecutive chin-ups
* With regard to #31, this year I will do something memorable on my birthday.
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
2004: No, but I am stoked to be an uncle in 2005.
2005: My world is four little girls nicer than it was this time last year.
2006: No. I think, though 2007 is shaping up to be a doozie. (The count presently stands at four.)
2007: My world is four little boys and one little girl nicer this year. (Unless I miscounted.)
4. Did anyone close to you die?
2005: No. I got a bunch of those out of the way young. But Iâ€™m still riding a hot streak. Donâ€™t be the one to fuck it up.
2006: The streak continues, and might be moving into a phase of “too quiet” ominousness.
2007: Still lucky.
5. What would you like to have in the coming year that you lacked in the previous year?
2004: A job I donâ€™t hate and Teri Hatcher naked in a hotel room at my convenience.
2005: An Aston-Martin, a minicopter, six or eight torrid affairs, a really good tux, and a trail of dead men in my wake.
2006: An apartment in Chicago, a predictable minimum monthly income, barbecues, and a leaf-blower and toilet-paper cannon like the Kid Scientists did on Letterman last Friday.
2007: 2007 was a pretty good year. I’m not sure I can think of anything. I wouldn’t mind doing most of it again.
6. What countries did you visit?
2004: Vegas is a world tour, at this point â€” why waste time on a passport?
2005: Canada. I had a nice time.
2006: Saw a real whole lot of Florida.
2007: Little Havana
7. What date from 2005 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
2004: May 22. Itâ€™s my birthday.
2005: 9/8/05 will for me forever be Independence Day.
2006: December 19th, the day the last rope was cut from the safety net. It is amazingly liberating and amazingly terrifying to have no fallback position.
2007: 11/4. I got a nephew.
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
2004: Not snapping at the office and going on a killing spree, and getting 75% of the way through Operation Eighty Pounds.
2005: Assembling the courage, financing, will, and opportunity to take a shot at the brass ring. Which I donâ€™t have yet, but at least Iâ€™m reaching for it.
2006: I embarrassed no one at the wedding I officiated, including myself; and, to close the year, we operated in the black for nine consecutive pay periods. And Iâ€™ve finally quit smoking.
2007: I can run two miles. In a row. Without stopping. Or vomiting.
9. What was your biggest failure?
2004: Not snapping at the office and going on a tranquility-inducing killing spree, and only getting 75% of the way through Operation Eighty Pounds.
2005: All my failures, this year, seem mild. Not that there werenâ€™t any. But this year was what analysts call an Up Year. Why dwell?
2006: Some of the weight I lost has returned. A task force has been assembled to address the problem.
2007: I am having some trouble with my need to force the entire world into accordance with my sense of order.
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
2004: Nothing major.
2005: Nothing unusual.
2006: I had the worst flu of my whole life.
2007: Absinthe poisoning
11. What was the best thing you bought?
2004: Plane tickets to Florida
2005: This new laptop. I have big plans for you, my pet.
2006: A small business in Florida and an ordination.
2007: A half share of an imaginary major league baseball team. I may have talked to my brother more this year than in the first twenty-eight years I knew him combined.
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
2004: Mine. But Iâ€™m the only one celebrating.
2005: Lunaâ€™s. Jeez. You think I had a big year, talk to her. I had an Up Year. She had a Career Year.
2007: The Imaginary League Champion California Teabaggers’ Team MVP Hanley Ramirez, Shortstop. 125 runs, 212 hits, 29 homers, 81 RBIs, 51 stolen bases, .332 batting average.
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
2004: Iâ€™m gonna single out my co-workers and the panic industry.
2005: Everybodyâ€™s would if I examined it too closely. So I donâ€™t.
2006: It is amazing how little some people know, or care, about basic human courtesy.
2007: “Appalled and depressed” is a little strong for the internecine Balkanizing that keeps fucking up my social calendar. But it’s not inaccurate.
14. Where did most of your money go?
2004: I wish I knew. No, wait, check that, Iâ€™m probably better off wondering.
2005: To moving. Way more than I expected to go there. If there is a flaw in the plan we know as Operation Alligator, it is insufficient funding. This issue should be monitored closely in the coming year.
2006: Debt service.
2007: 100% legitimate unquestionable above-the-line business expenses that can be completely and defensibly written off the taxes.
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
2004: Fantasy football
2005: Moving to an island. Quitting my job. (Side note: My successor lasted less than ninety days.) Living in Florida in the winter. Some potential new gigs. Being challenged.
2006: My older younger brotherâ€™s wedding. My younger younger brother catching up to us, agewise, to a point where we can be brothers instead of weird immature uncles. Fighting, successfully, to keep the business alive.
2007: This hyperambitious Professional Snowbird plan clawing, successfully, for altitude.
16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
2004: â€œAlready Goneâ€
2005: Godâ€™s Own Drunk: â€œâ€¦and the next thing I knew, I was on I-75 headed for Florida!”
2006: â€œGonna Fly Nowâ€
2007: I would love to say it’s something like “Oh Eh Oh Eh” or “Karaoke Queen”, both 2007 discoveries, but I’m afraid it’s “Crank Dat Soulja Boy”, because the legal and social ramifications of Supermanning hos have only begun to be explored.
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? No change.
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner, but Iâ€™m at Pantscon Two after the last month.
iii. richer or poorer? Late surge made it richer, but much of the year was indistinguishable.
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Push.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.
i. happier or sadder? Happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Fatter. Why must I always fill this out right fucking after Christmas?
iii. richer or poorer? Technically richer.
2007: Happier, push, richer. Three happiers in a row, for those of you looking to buy shares.
18. What do you wish youâ€™d done more of?
2004: Travel. Eating. Many other things.
2005: You can never fuck too much, frolic too much, or spend too much time with friends and family. And I wish there had been more Adult Ditch Days.
2006: I need to have more fun.
2007: I wish we had — or made — more time to enjoy the Keys, and less time shooting down bogeys.
19. What do you wish youâ€™d done less of?
2004: Working. Smoking. (Though Iâ€™m down to 3-4 a day.) Rationalizing. Diet-cheating.
2005: I rarely wish Iâ€™d done less of anything.
2006: I wish we could have worked less. Which we couldnâ€™t. And had more money. Which we didn’t. And been calmer about the negatives. Which we weren’t. The most accurate answer here is probably â€œI wish weâ€™d spent less time financially, physically, and emotionally hanginâ€™ by spit.â€
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
2004: Christmas went fine.
2005: The way I always do: A fun old-fashioned extended-family Christmas.
2006: I will be celebrating the end of The Year Of Closed Debts.
2007: Christmas was great. As always. I love Christmas.
There was no #21. Never has been. I was going to break the cycle and invent a #21, and Aunt Becky beat me to it. And I liked her idea so much I’m grabbing it:
21. Y’all read this page at the rate of about a thousand a day. You can’t all be spiders. I am delighted and flattered by each and every one of you. So show yourselves, you people. Mail — al at (this-blog-domain) dot com — or at least comment.
22. Did you fall in love in 2007?
2004: Hundreds and hundreds of times, albeit briefly.
2007: Do you count “With fantasy baseball”?
23. How many one-night stands?
2004: I have another item to add to #18.
2005: Not enough. Never enough.
2007: By my calculations, 267.
24. What was your favorite TV program?
2004: I try very hard not to miss â€œPTIâ€.
2005: Bear games.
2006: I donâ€™t have a TV. I will use this space, instead, to plug Dan LeBatardâ€™s radio show, available online at 790theticket.com. Itâ€™s a real pleasure on its own merits, plus it is the closest thing I have found to the glory years of the Mr. Tony show.
2007: Hands down, the Star Wars episode of “Family Guy”.
25. Do you hate anyone now that you didnâ€™t hate this time last year?
2004: Top of my head, no.
2005: No. Lifeâ€™s too short.
2006: As I adapt to both a new town and working in financial services, I find that I am learning to hate.
2007: No. Why bother?
26. What was the best book you read?
2004: Gregg Easterbrook, â€œThe Progress Paradoxâ€.
2005: Jim Harrisonâ€™s â€œThe Raw and the Cookedâ€
2006: â€œFreakonomicsâ€, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Canâ€™t recommend it highly enough. Stop reading and go to the library immediately.
2007: “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus”, by Charles Mann. Fascinating and seriously-physical-worldview-altering.
Three graphic novels, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ “Watchmen” and Frank Miller’s two “Dark Knight” tales resonated with me in a way I am still working on, almost daily, six weeks after reading them. I bumped “1491” over the three-way-tie for first in order to meet the requirement of best-book-singular.
27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
2004: Radio Margaritaville.
2005: I discovered that I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed the two Buffett concerts at Wrigley Field.
2006: MP3s and playlists
2007: SIRIUS channel “Backspin”, old-school rap. Which in turn led me to “Party & Bullshit”, which now plays on my phone every time the Notorious R.O.B. checks in.
28. What did you want and get?
2004: All year? Thatâ€™s a lot to remember.
2005: I got most of the things I wanted.
2006: Freedom. Though I believe I asked for it without all the Monkeyâ€™s Paw-type consequences, I guess I can live with this version. For now.
2007: An apartment in Chicago and a predictable minimum monthly income.
30. What was your favorite film of this year?
2004: I donâ€™t see many movies. I did watch â€œJay & Silent Bob Strike Backâ€ on Comedy Central and found if fabulously entertaining.
2005: That I saw this year? I go back and forth between â€œThe Punisherâ€ and â€œBatman Beginsâ€.
2006: â€œRocky Balboaâ€. My favorite film of this year, and the newest addition to the all-time favorite list. Maybe it was just the perfect storm of circumstances and movie and mindset, but I donâ€™t often sit in the theater at the end of movies thinking, â€œWow, I wish I could see that again right now,â€ and I donâ€™t usually get weepy, either. What a great movie.
2007: “The Simpsons Movie”. By default. I saw one movie.
31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you (optional)?
2004: I donâ€™t recall â€” not in the way that means I had a great time â€” and thirty.
2005: I donâ€™t recall â€” not in the way that means I had a great time â€” and thirty-one.
2007: Ibid. This year, I resolve to do something about that.
32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
2004: An assurance of immortality.
2005: Walking out of my office the way Silvio Dante walked out of Vesuvio.
2006: One good hurricane and I couldâ€™ve bought a house.
2007: Winning the Million-Dollar Slot Pull at Bally’s. Had a pretty strong year otherwise.
33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2005?
2004: I had to spend a horrendous amount of money on new pants.
2006: â€œHi, my weight is fluctuating and redistributing based on fitness regimen and travel eating, and I donâ€™t have a lot of spare cash, so forgive the shorts.â€
2007: Refugee, trying.
34. What kept you sane?
2004 answer: Frozen vodka.
2006: Xanax. Eventually. Wasn’t a strong Q4 for sanity.
35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
2004: Does â€œfancyâ€ mean â€œlust afterâ€? Iâ€™m not really the focused type.
2005: Gold Stars in Celebrity: The Chicago Bearsâ€™ defensive starters, Kevin Garnett, Tony Kornheiser, Garry Meier, Scoop Jackson, Jimmy Buffett, Gregg Easterbrook, Jeffrey Steingarten, Rachael Ray, and Dr. Hunter S. Thompson.
2006: Elliot Spitzer and Carrot Top. Not having a TV or any free time cuts the list down some.
C Brian McCann
1B Albert Pujols
2B Freddie Sanchez
3B Aramis Ramirez
SS Hanley Ramirez
RF Nick Markakis
LF Hideki Matsui
CF Willy Tavaras
P John Lackey
P Ian Snell
P Yovani Gallardo
RP Billy Wagner
RP Brad Lidge
RP Carlos Marmol
Your — have I mentioned this? — 2007 IMAGINARY WORLD CHAMPION CALIFORNIA TEABAGGERS!
36. What political issue stirred you the most?
2004: The insistence of virtually everyone with a horse in the Presidential race that I needed to spend all my time terrified.
2005: The continued growth of the make-the-event-â€proveâ€-the-existing-opinion school of media coverage-obtainment and political argument.
2006: None. Ahhhhhhhhhhh.
2007: None again. A happy dork in the periwinkle, with sunshine on my nose. Finally figured out where I burned out, by the way, when I read the Rorschach chapter of Watchmen, “The Abyss Gazes Also”. Bleak, but very, very helpful. By the way, abyss-gazers, if you look away, you get better eventually.
37. Whom did you miss?
2004: I miss the Old Dog, but not as often or as sharply as I used to.
2005: Virtually everybody who doesnâ€™t live in in Florida.
2006: I am getting the hang of this, but I missed la bella anyway. I think it’s because you people don’t change nearly as rapidly as does my favorite toddler. And I missed barbecues. And in Q4, I missed me.
2007: I saw very much more of everybody this year than I did the last two years, and I am acutely aware and deeply appreciative of that. But I left everything unsupervised for a couple years, and upon my reurn, I found myself down a biology professor and an anthropologist.
38. Who was the best new person you met?
2004: Ye Gods. Which among you are new to me this year?
2005: This kind of question drives me bugshit with fear that I will omit somebody major, or that I should include those acquaintances who upgraded to friends this year, or that I will in some other way bruise some feelings. I hate doing that. But those of you who are new people in my subset, and those of you who were once here and are now here again, Iâ€™m glad.
2006: The woman at Tammy’s Bakery near MIA. Mmmmmmm…eclairs caramello y chorizo empanadas. Â¿Como se dice “38-inch waistband”?
2007: My nephew, Mr. J.
39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005:
2004: â€œEnjoy yourself. Itâ€™s later than you think.â€
2005: â€œIt can be done.â€
2006: â€œIt ainâ€™t over til itâ€™s over.â€
2007: That I will ruin nice things for myself if I am not careful.
40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
â€œDonâ€™t know where Iâ€™m goinâ€™
I donâ€™t like where Iâ€™ve been
There may be no exit
But hell Iâ€™m going in.â€
â€œNiggas like myself kick back and peep game â€™cause
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.â€
â€œBut she gave ten dollars for a ten cent hat and bought some store-bought cat food for that mean-eyed cat/
She bought a ticket with her tips and now we’re curled up on the sofa,
Me and her and that mean-eyed cat.â€
“I’m fed up with small-time hustles;
I’m too good to waste my talent for greed.
I need room to flex my muscles
in an ocean where the big sharks feed.
Make me Yankee, they’re my fam’ly.
They’re selling what people need…
What’s that I smell in the air?
The American dream.
Sweet as a new millionaire…
The American dream!
Luck by the tail
How can you fail?
And best of all, it’s for sale!
The American dream!”