"a fish, a barrel, and a smoking gun"
for 5 November 1999. Updated every WEEKDAY.

All too often, this sort of 'moi criticism'... simply gives an author license to substitute personal talk show-style testimony for the careful weighing of available evidence, to substitute polemic and lazy speculation for hard-won argument and research.

—Michiko Kakatuni, reviewing Dutch: A Memoir of Ronald Reagan in The New York Times, 10/2/99

Like many men of my generation, I made a sweet bundle in the 1980s. 1 I keep my cash in offshore accounts and I prefer my Scotch neat, should we ever cross paths in a tavern. I make my home on these here mean streets and I tend to favor flat-front trousers. I was born in a clean, well-lit place. 1.1 As a child of the Middle West, I am mild mannered and handy and have an innate attraction to the soothing voice of Keith Jackson. 2 I pepper my conversations with phrases such as "keepin' it real in '99!" and "when I was at Yale." I believe the children are our future. I'm currently at work on a rock opera based on Fermat's Last Theorem 2.1, and I believe that situation comedy died with Norman Fell. 3 My one and only hit single is considered, by some, a lost classic. I possess grace, self-confidence, and several regular-sized bathroom towels. I'm happy that computers might bring an end to such tiresome things as conversation and libraries. I play three-card Monte with only two cards 4, and if you've got the time, I've got the beer. 5 I often wonder where I want to go today 6 and I feel that it is the fans who are hurt most when professional ball players strike. Though I was not personally involved in designing the "Reagan Revolution," I've shaken hands with both Ronald Reagan and Donald Regan. 7 I never spent much time in school, but I've taught ladies plenty. 8 I've slept with the fishes 9 and have been the wind beneath your wings. 10 I wish some savvy marketer would revamp the '70s. I envision a world in which we have both guns and butter. 11 I write the songs that make the young girls cry 12 and have an unnatural affinity for the film work of Joe Piscopo. I'm not out to hurt anybody but I did once verbally abuse Kevin McHale during a playoff game between the Boston Celtics and the Detroit Pistons. I don't believe he heard me. I think all stadiums should be named after multinational corporations and I wish someone had thought of it sooner. I am only interested in magazines that write about great abs and I wish that Madonna had a better publicist. I'm prepared for Y2K but keep a military-issue protractor handy, just in case the firewalls fail. I have a tendency to break paragraphs in arbitrary places. 13

During the war, I sold arms to Nebraska. I invented the phrase "hold it right there, mister!" but decided it would be more useful to law enforcement officials. My motto, "if you don't look good, we don't look good," 14 got me into some legal trouble a few years back. Despite having spent a considerable amount of time in Canada, I've never understood the sport of curling. I may be the king of the world. 15 My people are still checking. I think the kids are alright. 16 I've written that the Great Wall of China is pretty good, for a wall. I think guns do kill people, though I suspect hate-mongering white supremacist groups that trade in fear and ignorance have something to do with it as well. 17 I am a modern-day Renaissance man who prefers his wine coolers served at room temperature. I'm still not sure who shot J. R. 18, but I guess they've caught the person by now. I'm gonna make it, after all. I buy saltpeter by the ton, just in case. I have a sound mind and a sound body. 19 I am genetically geared for worrying and selecting quality garments. I wear running shoes even when I'm walking, and I always lather twice. Last night I let it be Löwenbräu. 20 My senior thesis argued that hamburger is indeed chopped ham. 21 My adviser, a vegetarian, didn't buy it. I agree, in principle, that everybody should be in cords but feel we should also concentrate on providing everybody with a home, basic medication, and a high school education. 21.1 I can walk the dog like there's no tomorrow. 22 I've got mail. I have a tendency to play fast and loose with the rules. I have three of the seven habits of highly effective people. I can't leave well enough alone, and if I were advising Latino sensation Ricky Martin, I'd suggest he forgo his intellectual integrity and seek some mainstream exposure. Except when traveling, I wake up in a city that never sleeps. I respect Aaron Spelling for his subtle artfulness and because he has a really big house. I'm lobbying to bring back Gimme A Break, in Finnish. I know things, such as my own weight and my mother's maiden name. 22.1 I've used the term "conch fritters" in no fewer than two unpublished poems. I invented the politics of personal destruction. I have limited exposure to the Russian markets. I am, at present, wanted by the authorities. People are always telling me to play that funky music, white boy. 23 I make simple errands difficult by speaking in Latin. 24 I love to wait in lines and I only watch well-financed action films that involve Will Smith getting jiggy with it in one form or another. When I relax, I do so with an icy cold Zima. I find it chic when non-Europeans end a conversation with the term ciao! My debut film was the darling of the festival circuit. I am the minister of brunch for a small country off the coast of Maine. I put the system on trial each May.

        I find it difficult to resist the temptation to indent. I won the Nobel Prize in Economics in 1976 for my work linking monetarism with Ed McMahon's laugh. 25 When service people come to my apartment, I always insist that they stay for dinner. I judge my peers by the kind of vodka they drink. I voted in favor of the Gramm-Rudman Deficit Reduction Act. 26 God knows why, but to me, peanut butter and chocolate are not two great tastes that taste great together. 27 My therapist never understood it. To throw creditors off my trail, I keep my ledger books in Sanskrit. I hope more men start wearing khaki pants and blue shirts to work on Fridays. I think novels should be written in bullet points. 27.1 I sometimes wonder what Doogie Howser, MD, would be doing today. I have a great hanging curve ball and can recall with absolute clarity my Social Security number. I carry a briefcase even though I am rarely called upon to draft or read actual briefs. I am not an architect, yet I use terms like "buttress" and "load-bearing wall." To emphasize a point in writing, I use the word "indeed." Indeed, nothing irks me more than lazy literary transitions. I am my own worst enemy (with the exception of those to whom I owe large sums of money) and have been told that I am dangerously average. I hear they are opening a Starbucks in Manhattan, finally. 28 I leave many things to chance. I am a member of a shadow government. When purchasing tailor-made suits, I always give my measurements in furlongs. When asked to describe my long-term goals, my standard answer is that I want to rock and roll all nite and party every day. 28.1 I long for the heady final months of the Bush Administration, when life was simple and American strength was used as a force for good. As a young man, I roamed the world in search of exotic spices and teas. I soon learned that this trade had been discovered some time ago. The same thing happened when I thought I had invented the steam engine. Critics have called my work "churlish," "sadly self-involved," and "in dire need of narrative structure." I will be remembered by history as a man who tipped well and generally frowned upon overhead lighting. I could be wrong. 29

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Peter Hyman

Terry Colon