WACKY, SCARY WORLD OF 2008

Live and learn, they say. Oh, and that adversity is the best teacher.

True, we suppose. Living through — surviving — 2008 actually did teach us some things.

Funny things. Sad things. Poignant things. Even a few things that, we’re ashamed to admit, brought us within spitting distance of the edge of Schadenfreude Canyon.

Whatever. For good or bad, our yearlong course in Introductory 2008 A.D. — and don’t let anybody tell you it’s one of those easy, basket-weavinglike electives — has ended, and we’re happy to share our class notes with you.

In 2008, we learned:

* That Tina Fey has a doppelganger who isn’t nearly as much fun.

* That, in her soul, Hillary Clinton is a shot-and-a-beer kind of gal.

* That, with Barack Obama poised to become the United States’ 44th president, most Americans aren’t as racist as we had feared. And that, yes, we can.

* That, however, O.J. Simpson is exactly as slimy as we had thought.

* That not even the Mojave Desert is immune to a surprise, picturesque, snowfall, but …

* That a Minnesota first-grader would consider the standards we use for calling a “snow day” pathetic in the extreme.

* That commercial air travel finally has completed its decades-long evolution from “novel and exciting” to “like being trapped in a Greyhound at 30,000 feet.”

* That presidential elections aren’t the same without Tim Russert.

* That comedy isn’t the same without George Carlin.

* That, after seeing him in “The Dark Knight,” we’re going to miss Heath Ledger a lot more than we would have thought.

* That we’ll miss Paul Newman, too, but always knew we would.

* That Rosie O’Donnell really does seem kind of disagreeable.

* That a 401(k) can turn into an imaginary pile of Monopoly money.

* That bubbles — whether fashioned from housing values, stock prices, bubble gum or soap — always burst eventually.

* That Nevada isn’t immune from the laws of economics.

* That Gov. Jim Gibbons is, even now, congenitally unable to utter the word “taxes” without first saying “no.”

* That the comics character Aquaman exists in the form of a gangly guy from Baltimore who brought home an amazing eight gold medals from the Beijing Olympics.

* That a robot named WALL-E can make us cry.

* That, from what we see in “Twilight” and “True Blood,” vampires get all the chicks.

* That, while we’re glad Britney Spears is feeling better, she should take some more time off before returning to the circus that is show biz.

* That, based on the health risks unhygienically grown veggies can pose, people who spend extra money for organically grown produce shouldn’t act so snooty.

* That, whenever Americans become tempted to make fun of Europe’s high gasoline prices, we shouldn’t act so snooty.

* That, if the very public rows at the Las Vegas Art Museum and Las Vegas Philharmonic mean anything, the world of fine art isn’t as genteel as we had thought.

* That, if anybody catches us visiting The Rack, a Las Vegas fetish and leatherwear shop, we now have an impressive excuse (“Honest, we were just attending the Onyx Theater’s latest production …”).

* That fake newscasters — Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert et. al. — sometimes do journalism better than real newscasters.

* That Guns N’ Roses still makes albums, even if “Chinese Democracy” did take 17 years to finish.

* That, based on his commercials for Wynn Las Vegas and Encore, Steve Wynn apparently isn’t plagued with vertigo, acrophobia or acute wussiness.

* That the facade atop the Monte Carlo and the foam “No. 1” finger we wear at football games have more in common than we knew.

* That former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer isn’t just horny, but stupid-horny.

* That John Edwards, who admitted that he cheated on his wife, Elizabeth, while she was in remission from cancer, also is a slimehound.

* That some Southern Nevada doctors — not all, just a few who wield colonoscopes — view their patients as (to paraphrase legendary radio comedian Fred Allen) nothing more than bags of money covered with skin.

* That no Southern Nevada real estate agent is likely to close the deal by touting a home’s closeness to the North Las Vegas airport.

* That, if you value your family, you’ll never, ever cross a Mexican drug cartel.

* That, considering the several hundred stores they shuttered this year, we no longer have to stay awake nights worrying about Starbucks’ Evil Plan for World Domination.

* That Belgian giant InBev’s purchase of Anheuser-Busch makes drinking boilermakers seem not quite as American.

* That, with American taxpayers forking over hundreds of billions of dollars in bailout money to save their avaricious butts, nobody on Wall Street or in Ford/GM/Chrysler boardrooms should ever again utter the phrase “free market.”

* That the newspaper business ain’t what it used to be, and that we now realize how buggy whip manufacturers must have felt when Henry Ford rolled out his first Model T.

Contact reporter John Przybys at jprzybys@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0280.

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