Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Best of 2007...if you ask me

I try not to open a newspaper, read a magazine or surf the Internet this time of year because I’m always left feeling unfulfilled.

The reason? Everywhere I turn, I come across those “Best of” lists containing movies I didn’t see, TV shows I didn’t watch and CDs by musical artists I’ve never heard of. Then I read obituaries of people I didn’t even know expired in 2007. When the heck did Brooke Astor die? For that matter, who was Brooke Astor?

So, as the ball gets sets to drop in Times Square and usher in another year, I figure I had better prepare my own “best of” list so others can I see what I DID accomplish in 2007. Here goes:

Best movie I saw in a theatre: None. I have children and, by the time my wife and I secure a babysitter, pay full price for two adult tickets and a “small” tanker drum of popcorn, the movie costs close to $100. Get the point?

Best movie I saw on DVD: American Gangster. Okay, it’s not available on DVD yet. Let’s just say I know a guy. We will leave it at that.

Best stupid comment from an airline employee: Upon landing, a United Airlines pilot took the intercom and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, we have arrived early. Please remember that the next time you fly United and we’re a few minutes late.” Can you imagine a doctor using that logic? “Mr. Schwem, you survived the operation. Remember that the next time we operate on you and things don’t go as smoothly.”

Runner up: An American Airlines gate agent who announced that, because my flight was cancelled, personnel were trying to “locate another plane.” I didn’t realize jets got lost that easily.

Best “proud to be a parent” moment: My 10-year-old daughter who, suffering from incurable stage fright, played flawlessly at a piano recital.

Best “being a parent is tough” moment: Two minutes after the recital concluded when she announced she would “NEVER DO THAT AGAIN!”

Best “I’m doing this because I love my kids” moment: Driving my daughters 90 miles to Milwaukee during a Chicago Bears playoff game to see “High School Musical Live,” driving them back home, catching a flight to Los Angeles, sitting at the airport surrounded by thousands of delirious, beer-soaked Bears fans, waiting on the tarmac for two hours, arriving in LA at 1 a.m., renting a car and driving to Palm Springs for a 10 a.m. show. I recite that story verbatim every time either of my children complains about unloading the dishwasher.

Best moment without kids: A weekend in Cape Cod with my wife.

Best hotel stay: The Paradisus, San Juan Puerto Rico. The client put my family and I up in an oceanfront bungalow complete with 24-hour butler service. Everybody should be pampered like that once in their lives.

Worst hotel stay: I used to like staying in hotels until a friend made me watch After seeing it, all hotel stays sucked. Except for the Paradisus. I’m pretty sure the butler washed the glasses.

Best story to share with my buddies: Being propositioned by a hooker in the lobby of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas at 6 a.m. I reminded her that the National Rodeo Finals convention was in town and I’m sure she could do better than a middle-aged guy dressed in shorts and flip flops who was not searching for gratification. I just wanted coffee.

Best audience: The Self Storage Association at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Who would have thought that a bunch of people who manage large sheds where people store their crap could be such a riot? Plus it was at Caesar’s Palace. That’s cool in itself.

Toughest audience: A dozen Wells Fargo engineers, sitting around a conference table littered with laptops, cables and half eaten lunches. I stood at the head of the table and tried to make them laugh for 45 veeerrrrry looooooong minutes. Nice people but I felt like I was interrupting a meeting.

Best road meal: Peter Luger’s steakhouse in Brooklyn. The steak was too rare but the ambiance was priceless.

Best “puff out my stomach” moment: Driving the green on the 336 yard 14th hole at The Falls in Las Vegas. Okay, the tee is on a cliff and you shoot down into a valley but I still hit the crap out of the ball.

Best invention: I’m sorry but it’s still the iPod.

Best invention this year: Probably the iPhone. I don’t own one only because I would probably leave it in a cab or a hotel room, thereby losing my phone, music collection, address book, photo album and internet connection all in one moment of stupidity.

Best celebrity encounter: Chatting backstage with CNN’s Soledad O’Brien in New Orleans. Hard to believe this sweet, funny woman was the same person who relentlessly grilled former FEMA director Mike Brown following Hurricane Katrina.

Best reasons to look forward to 2008: Coaching softball, my first show for Microsoft and the fact that I still have all my hair.

Reasons to dread 2008: Iraq, the presidential election, inflation and the fear that I might slip up and say “Google” during my first show for Microsoft.

Happy New Year!

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