Do You See The Light?

A powerful and influential demographic in my house is all atwitter about the reunion show. I am not in that demographic. I am in the demographic who delights in trying to find the perfect scene from a movie about another very good band’s resurrection in which to place the Fab Five. My favorite so far:

Posh: “Look at you in those candy-ass monkey suits. And I thought I had it bad in Joliet.”

Scary: “At least we got a change in clothes, sucker; you’re wearing the same shit you had on three years ago.”

Sporty: “(You) ain’t lying though. We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline.”

Ginger: “But we’ll never get that fab sound again, not without some more horns. We’ll never get Mr. Fabulous.”

Runner-up, and best envisioned delivered by David Beckham, in his Real Madrid jersey and brandishing a machine gun:

“You contemptible pig. I remained celebate for you. I stood at the back of a cathedral, waiting in celibacy for you, with 300 friends and relatives in attendance. My uncle hired the best Romanian caterer in the state. To obtain the seven limousines for the wedding party my father used up his last favours with Mad Pete Trollo. So for me, for my mother, my grandmother, my father, my uncle and for the common good, I must now kill you.”

Also receiving votes:

Pick any one of them to be glared at by Frank Oz:

“One Timex digital watch, broken. One unused prophylactic. One soiled.”

Pick any two:

“Hanson Burgers.”

“Yeah. Lots of space in this mall.”

“Disco dancing hair cuts.”


“Baby clothes.”

“This place has got everything.”

This last one is nearly my favorite; it works best if you can clearly picture Baby’s facial expression:

“Chicken wire?”

It’s slightly addictive. Try it.

Blogs for the Blogless

Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome today’s Guest Host, Big!

1. What did you do in 2007 that you’d never done before?
Had a second child. Margaret Rebecca, born 5/17/07.

2. Did you keep your New Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
No. Reached at least 354 pounds, maybe more. A dubious Personal Best. The 2008 resolution is 23 pounds underway.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Well, does my wife count? Also, former blog-mate Dave and famous blogger Becky added onto their lovely family. Also, several friends-of-friends and inactive acquaintances welcomed bundles of joy. And poop. Bundles of joy and poop and crying.

4. Did anyone close to you die?

5. What would you like to have in the coming year that you lacked in the previous year?
Smaller pants.

6. What countries did you visit?
Germany, for the first time. Of course, it was for a plastics show, so I mostly saw the inside of exhibit halls. But the sausage and the beer – I’m considering adding Cologne to my “retirement locale” list. Current No. 1 – Hawaii. No. 2 – Southern Japan.

7. What date from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why:
Dates have never etched themselves on my memory, not in history classes when it would have been useful, nor now. However, I will always remember Leadership Boot Camp in April, when I learned to be okay with myself. And the day the pediatric cardiologist told the Beloved and I that the murmur in Margaret’s heart was absolutely nothing to worry about.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Learning to be okay with myself. It is a freeing thing, to understand who you truly are and how that affects everything you do, and that it’s okay to not be perfect, or even “normal.”

9. What was your biggest failure?
Letting my weight get so out of control.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Aside from general portliness, screaming tension headaches and a minor sinus infection, no. That’s an A+ year in a house with kids.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
My new TV doesn’t count – that was technically 2008. Perhaps the deck on our house – it’s B-E-A-yootiful.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
The beloved. Having Margaret naturally without drugs (not the plan, by the way) has inspired her sense of “can-do” to the point that she now says things like, “I’m signing up for a triathlon!”

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Every presidential candidate.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Married, two kids. Guess.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Margaret’s arrival. And winning one of my fantasy football leagues.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007?
Tie: “Rockstar” by Nickelback. I’m not typically a fan, but not since Neil Young’s “This Note’s for You” has a song so snarkily captured something about our society – in this case, the entitlement of celebrity. Also, “My Ding-a-Ling” by Chuck Berry. I just discovered this gem in 2007. Chuck must have sprained his eyelid and thrown out his elbow with all the “wink, wink, nudge, nudge” this song requires.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Much happier.
ii. thinner or fatter?Fatter, but actively working on it.
iii. richer or poorer? Richer.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Being honest with people. Most fun you can have with your clothes on.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Being dishonest with myself.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
Christmas went well. Operation Assert Ourselves As a Family is complete and totally successful.

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. I have failed at maintaining a blog three times now. Thanks to Al for the guest spot. Those of you who are keeping up either an interesting or well-maintained (or both) blog, how do you do it? E-mail me at jtower42 – at – yahoo – dot – com.

22. Did you fall in love in 2007?
With Margaret for the first time, with Kate again, and with the Beloved for the fifth year in a row.

23. How many one-night stands?
None with other people.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Chuck. Honorable mention to Journeyman (sadly cancelled.)

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I don’t HATE anyone. However, I’ve “mentally fired” many, many people. A highlight of 2007 is that I’ve confronted those people and learned to “rehire” them.

26. What was the best book you read?
Too many to name. “Into the Wild,” “I Love You, Beth Cooper,” “First Among Sequels,” “Devil in the White City.” I know I’m forgetting some.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
iTunes’ “Essentials” section. Best way to invoke the “I remember THAT song” response.

28. What did you want and get?
A healthy daughter and self-awareness. Good year.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Hmm…Didn’t see many movies again this year. Saw the Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice with the beloved. I enjoyed that much more than I thought I would.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you (optional)?
Twenty-nine. I don’t recall what I did, though I probably should. March is very hard to remember the following January.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Smaller pants.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2007?
“Jesus, why are these pants so tight?”

34. What kept you sane?
The Beloved. I realized this year just how much she is my sanity touchstone.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Brett Favre. Serious man-crush.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The lack of anyone qualified and/or honest to run our country.

37. Whom did you miss?
I never see everybody as much as I’d like, but 2007 was a good year for seeing most friends.

38. Who was the best new person you met?

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2007:
I’m wacked, but it’s okay that I am.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
If you were a wink, I’d be a nod
If you were a seed, well I’d be a pod.
If you were the floor, I’d wanna be the rug
And if you were a kiss, I know I’d be a hug

“All I Want is You,” Barry Louis Polisar, from the Juno soundtrack. Dedicated to all three of my girls.


Madness In Any Direction, At Any Hour

I put off my Vegas Recap until I was ready.

Have tickets.

Am ready.


Straight Flush

Once again, perfect scores across the board for High Roller Night. The main dining room at MIX was reportedly designed, successfully, to make one feel like one was dining inside a glass of champagne. The view…MIX occupies the top two floors of the new tower at Mandalay Bay, and looks straight down the strip. It is the exact view from the poster that has, in annually updated form, hung in my places of residence since 1999. (I am told the optimal view is had from the stalls in the ladies’ room, but I did not have enough to drink to see.) In lieu of an appetizer-entree combination, I opted for the special, and had my first experience with tournedos Rossini. I will, God willing, have many more experiences with that remarkable dish. Luna’s veal chop with sweetbreads was delicious, Vacation Wife knowingly ate lobster eggs, the rhum baba was exemplary, and and the MIX staff explained that their version of “Mom or Sister?” was called “Hooker or Daughter?”. Exceptional.

Four Of A Kind

Craps I
I have never been a big craps player. I prefer — or preferred — sportsbooks and video poker. But at the end of the night, I was talked into playing craps, and the experience was extraordinary. I may never play anything else. Craps, in my first experience, is a license to PRINT money. I went in with $100. I left the game three hours later (it was light out) richer by eight whiskeys and $350. Here is my understanding of how craps works: I put some money on a line. An old Chinese man rolls. Then we put more money next to that money, plus a bunch of money (if you’re me) on four, six, eight, and ten the hard way. Then the old Chinese men rolls again, and you get given a bunch of money, and your lawyer jumps up and down, giggling like a schoolgirl and screeching “I can’t believe this!” Then you repeat. I wish I had played craps sooner; I might be retired.

Jean-Philippe Patisserie
This is what they have in Heaven where on Earth we have Paneras. Fifty different pastries by the architect of the Bellagio Buffet’s dessert station, and I have to have the plain sugared brioche because I know that I will eat it disbelieving that such perfect brioche exists. It is not a textbook brioche; it is better. It is a fantasy of a brioche, the brioche that chases dieting French patissiers through their dreams. And if you time your outbound flight correctly, you can make Jean-Philippe your last stop before McCarran.

Full House

Bouchon, breakfast
Newly opened. Hadn’t heard anything but glowing praise. Praise wasn’t glowing enough. I had a meal I would normally expect to be ordered by number: Corned beef hash, poached eggs, toast, coffee. But it was not diner breakfast. It was a king’s breakfast, if the king in question were immensely wealthy and a regular contributor to eGullet. It was corned beef hash as art on a plate. Coddled eggs. It is possible the toast was made by hand, with a toasting fork and a kitchen torch, and I would not rule out the possibility of the coffee beans being roasted and ground individually. Laughably overdone, as when the ketchup arrived, unbidden, in a cool ramekin under a silver dome. And if there’s anything I love, it’s unnecessarily overdoing anything.

Long convivial dinners are important on vacation. The kind where you leave the restaurant five hours later and a couple hundred bucks apiece lighter, with a tableful of empty plates and coffee cups and brandy snifters behind you, bidding farewell to the staff by name and tallying the score, wine bottles drained vs pounds of steak consumed, on your way to the cab line. But you want to make a stylin’ exit from a restaurant? Take my team to rumjungle, and swagger out counting empty rum bottles.

The Wynn Buffet
The historic defeat of the Bellagio Buffet by the Wynn Buffet…


The Bellagio Buffet
…has already been documented at length.

Burger Bar
So here’s the story of Burger Bar: The owners of Mandalay Bay managed to lure Chef Hubert Keller, of the legendary Fleur de Lys in San Francisco, to open a second Fleur de Lys in Mandalay Bay. This was a huge score in the food world. Hubert’s terms called for him to move his family to Las Vegas and oversee the design and construction of his new restaurant, to ensure that the new place would meet his standards and specifications. A very short time before the grand opening of Mandalay Bay, the construction of the new restaurant was way behind schedule, and the manager of Mandalay Bay went to Chef Keller and said “Hubert, a terrible thing has happened! There is an unavoidable delay. Your beautiful new kitchen will take many more months to complete.”

And Keller said, “But what will I do in the meantime? I have moved my family to Las Vegas. My children have started school. I cannot just pick up and return to San Francisco until you are ready! What will I do to keep my skills sharp?”

The manager said, “Um…you want to run the burger joint?”

Which is why, at Burger Bar, you can get a lobstertail-on-brioche “burger”, or a dry-aged Black Angus hamburger with heirloom tomatoes and artisan cheese, or a Kobe beef burger with foie gras and black truffle, and why Luna can dip fries in sauce Périgueux.

The Double Down Saloon
Hot girls getting high in the bathrooms…bacon martinis…space invaders…a girl whose pickup line was “I have a very clean vagina”…genuine dank…leatherclad cheerleaders…smoke down to your knees…cold shots of ass juice…hot girls in our company getting stoned by piddling in the unventilated bathroom for ten or fifteen minutes each…having my shushin’ hand ready for when Luna noticed that the bass player’s upper hand was more of a stump…puke insurance… Here’s something interesting: I would have adored the Double Down beyond all description if the band wasn’t SO FUCKING LOUD I COULDN’T HEAR OR SEE OR THINK OR BREATHE. I think this one gets another shot, but first we check the website for times there won’t be an emo band playing so loud my teeth hurt. At noon, I think the Double Down is quietly a bottomless pit of dirtbags and degenerates. God bless it.


Le Buffet, Paris Las Vegas
A must-stop on the tour. Crepes made to order so well that a reader among you once put one in her purse to nip from throughout the day, like a third-grade teacher with a flask of Kahlua. Surprisingly good charcuterie, considering the pace of turnover, and miniature pain chocolat, of which I could easily eat a bucketful. Also wine, which means I don’t remember the exact nascence of the hilarity surrounding the soup bowl of drawn butter, but it was darn funny.

Enoteca San Marco
Mario Batali’s appetizer bar, on the Piazza San Marco. Black truffle honey, a plate of cheeses and salumi, unlimited grissini, and a split of Amarone to peoplewatch by. This place is awesome. I cannot wait for B&B.

Taqueria Cañonita
Really good Mexican food (wild mushroom tacos) and a snifter of sippin’ tequila añejo just across Venice’s gondola-laden Grand Canal from a high-end lingerie store. Las Vegas…ain’t nothin’ like it.

Three of a Kind

“Zumanity” is Cirque de Soleil’s dirty show — there’s nudity, simulated sex, raunchy comedy, and representation of all major gender pairings and most of the popular fetishes, all things of which I am generally wildly in favor. I don’t know if it was that it seemed kinda contrived (“Okay, here’s the deal: We want to shock middle-aged women from Wichita enough to get a rep and make them feel badass but not enough to draw letters of complaint to the casino.”) or that the big surprise moment to the rest of the crowd seemed to me as startling as would the melee subsequent to Harpo rolling a wagonload of pies into Congress, or just that I prefer the regular circus to the Cirque kind, but I wasn’t blown away by “Zumanity”. To me, it was interesting to see it once, but for the admission price, I’d rather have five or six lapdances and some hotel porn. (Though the reaction of the person sitting next to me* to the flying bondage girl was nearly as good.)

*Not you, Fireman, other side.

Two Pair

Bouchon II
Motivated by the breakfast, we give Bouchon a shot for dinner later in the trip. My order: French onion soup and steak frites. Luna’s order: Country pate and vegetable gnocchi parisienne. Hers is pretty good, especially the gnocchi. My steak is okay, the fries are nothing special, and their French onion soup is not as good as mine. (And I am not given to that complaint; I try to avoid things that I tend to make better. I’d rather learn something than preen.) And the service is really, really bad.

The Waterslide & Pool, Golden Nugget Hotel & Casino
Shark tank, check. Hot tub, check. Ability to swim up to shark tank, check. Comfy padded lounge chairs, check. Waterslide through shark tank, check. Overpriced yummy pinas colada, check. Alternative eye candy, check. Swim-up blackjack, no. Toplessness permitted, no. Child-free area, no. Much, much too crowded, yes. But that shark tank is awfully cool.

One Pair

Nathan’s, in the back of Fat Tuesday, downtown
Deep fried Oreos and a footlong ‘dog. Chosen under the criteria “What’s still open?” Fine for what it was, as it is impossible to either underperform or exceed no expectations.


Glitter Gulch
Glitter Gulch has gone steeply downhill in the three years since I’d been there. Once the most convenient (overpriced, but convenient) topless bar in Vegas, it now appears to serve as a sort of combination retirement job/halfway house/sideshow for strippers. (“SEE the girl with one leg! GET the world’s oldest living lapdance! Get those singles out, folks — Now appearing on stage five, the stunning hottie Snaggletooth, and on the main stage, gorgeous and tempting Mastodon!”)

Craps II
Acting on sound and gracious legal advice, and secure in the knowledge that craps was a license to print money, I stopped off on the way to the cab stand to make a quick $350. Did not go as planned. The game moves faster in the sober light of day; at 4am and inebriated, I was in the zone. I could see the dice tumbling. At 10am the next morning, I would put some chips down, and the croupier would sweep them up. I felt like the automated tee at a driving range: Ready, gone. Ready, gone. Ready, gone. Ready, gone. There must be a trick I didn’t remember.


Next: Vegas 2008

Dateline Wahoo, Nebraska

I wasn’t terribly interested in the other nine parts of this meme the Bird put on my radar, but the first bit was worth snagging.

Ten things you wish you could say to 10 different people right now (don’t list names):

1. “That’s tremendous! Great job! I’m really excited about this!”

2. “I’ve decided that our differences are best resolved by me killing you with my heat vision.”

3. “You’re fired, (name withheld). Yes, again. You and your staff and your luxuriant mustache need to be out by the end of the day.”

4. “Another magnum of Cristal and another Wagyu porterhouse for the table, please.”

5. “Don’t know how you got your clothes off so fast, but I’m impressed.”

6. “(Surname), for two, please. The Caesars’ concierge called in a personal favor.”

7. “You’ve already got plane tickets, even? Excellent. I am STOKED.”

8. “Well, I honestly didn’t expect it to be a successful last straw, but hey, if Supermanning her worked, God bless you for it.”

9. “Another piña colada, please, Jeeves, and a banana for yourself while you’re at it.”

10. “Nice birdie. Hey, go wave down the beer girl while (name withheld) putts.”

The More You Know…

Today’s Sentence That Might As Well Read “Grab Some Coffee. You And This Article Could Be Here For A Bit”:

“This experiment essentially involves looking at the ‘Schrödinger’s Cat’ experiment from the point of view of the cat.”

In Blackest Night

Today at the library, I may have discovered the long sought male equivalent to being asked “When are you due?” when you’re not pregnant:

“You look like a guy who would know about comic books.”

Annual Report

1. What did you do in 2006 that you’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 “Old School”.
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 Year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
2004: I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions. Too depressing.
2005: I don’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.

And add:
* 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?
2004: Nope.
2005: No. I got a bunch of those out of the way young. But I’m still riding a hot streak. Don’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 don’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 — 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. It’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 don’t have yet, but at least I’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 I’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 weren’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 I’m the only one celebrating.
2005: Luna’s. Jeez. You think I had a big year, talk to her. I had an Up Year. She had a Career Year.
2006: Ours.

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: I’m gonna single out my co-workers and the panic industry.
2005: Everybody’s would if I examined it too closely. So I don’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, I’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 brother’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: “Already Gone”
2005: God’s Own Drunk: “…and the next thing I knew, I was on I-75 headed for Florida!”
2006: “Gonna Fly Now”

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 I’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 you’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 you’d done less of?
2004: Working. Smoking. (Though I’m down to 3-4 a day.) Rationalizing. Diet-cheating.
2005: I rarely wish I’d done less of anything.
2006: I wish we could have worked less. Which we couldn’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 “I wish we’d spent less time financially, physically, and emotionally hangin’ by spit.”

2007: Raging.

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.
2005: No.
2006: Maybe.

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.
2006: *sigh*

2007: By my calculations, 267.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
2004: I try very hard not to miss “PTI”.
2005: Bear games.
2006: I don’t have a TV. I will use this space, instead, to plug Dan LeBatard’s radio show, available online at It’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 didn’t hate this time last year?
2004: Top of my head, no.
2005: No. Life’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, “The Progress Paradox”.
2005: Jim Harrison’s “The Raw and the Cooked”
2006: “Freakonomics”, Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner. Can’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? That’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
Monkey’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 don’t see many movies. I did watch “Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back” on Comedy Central and found if fabulously entertaining.
2005: That I saw this year? I go back and forth between “The Punisher” and “Batman Begins”.
2006: “Rocky Balboa”. 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 don’t often sit in the theater at the end of movies thinking, “Wow, I wish I could see that again right now,” and I don’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 don’t recall — not in the way that means I had a great time — and thirty.
2005: I don’t recall — not in the way that means I had a great time — and thirty-one.
2006: Guess.

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 could’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.
2005: Effortless.
2006: “Hi, my weight is fluctuating and redistributing based on fitness regimen and travel eating, and I don’t have a lot of spare cash, so forgive the shorts.”

2007: Refugee, trying.

34. What kept you sane?
2004 answer: Frozen vodka.
2005: Lists.
2006: Xanax. Eventually. Wasn’t a strong Q4 for sanity.

2007: Success.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
2004: Does “fancy” mean “lust after”? I’m not really the focused type.
2005: Gold Stars in Celebrity: The Chicago Bears’ 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


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-”prove”-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 doesn’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, I’m glad.
2006: The woman at Tammy’s Bakery near MIA. Mmmmmmm…
eclairs caramello y chorizo empanadas. ¿Como se dice “38-inch waistband”?

2007: My nephew, Mr. J.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2005:
2004: “Enjoy yourself. It’s later than you think.”
2005: “It can be done.”
2006: “It ain’t over til it’s over.”

2007: That I will ruin nice things for myself if I am not careful.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
“Don’t know where I’m goin’
I don’t like where I’ve been
There may be no exit
But hell I’m going in.”
“Niggas like myself kick back and peep game ’cause
Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.”
“But 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.”

“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!”

-Miss Saigon

Now I Have A Machine Gun. Ho-Ho-Ho.

I will have more to say about Vegas shortly. For the moment, click here.

You may not be fired up to try it yourself, but it is impossible to not be fired up to watch Luna or Notorious rock the full auto.