My Hitch Story

One of the things about Christopher Hitchens is that he got around so much, knew so many people, and made such a vivid impression, that just about everybody is offering a remembrance today. Here’s mine:

In 2007, I was invited to speak at the Amazing Meeting, a conference of skeptics held every year in Las Vegas in honor of James (aka The Amazing) Randi, magician, debunker, and skeptic. I was delighted to be invited because all kinds of cool people show up there every year, including Penn and Teller, Adam Savage, Phil “Bad Astronomer” Plait, and of course Hitchens, who seemingly never turned down an invitation to speak, drink, and argue. (As a man who travels a fair bit, I am in awe of how much Hitchens got around.)

His presentation was terrific, and I particularly remember the All-Speakers Panel at the end, when we all got up on stage and took questions from the audience. One panelist — I think it was Scott Dikkers, editor of the Onion, though I may well be wrong — suggested that perhaps it was dumb for the US to be “at war with Islam,” and Hitchens, in just the way a lion notices a limp gazelle stroll in front of it, responded “Well, Islam is certainly at war with us,” and proceeded to eviscerate the poor man. As the little boy says in Jurassic Park, “Look at all the blood…:”

But: the prior night, I had had my own Hitchens time. A few of us were given tickets by Penn Jillette to come to see his show with Teller, and Hitchens piled into conference attendee’s Scott Hurst’s BMW (which, graciously, Scott let me drive) and headed over to the Rio. Hitch didn’t really know who I was but lit up when I mentioned I had gone to college with his old friend Andrew Sullivan. I should also say the sight of my attractive wife seemed to increase his illumination. (Beth’s judgment: “Terrible flirt,” with “terrible” meaning “good.”)

The show was terrific and had been told that Penn and Teller always invited their guests back to a special lounge they had behind the theater, just for that purpose, so we should absolutely hang around post-show for that invitation. However, as Hitch, Beth and I walked into the lobby, we saw that Penn and Teller had come out (as is their gracious habit) to greet the entire audience as it left the theater, and Hitch made a mental calculation how long it would take for them to work the crowd, didn’t like the number he arrived at and said “Come on, let’s go get a drink.”

And so we did, heading to the nearest casino bar. I told him as we walked I had been experimenting with the proper martini recipe, and he told me that he once did an assignment as a Cocktail Taste Tester for one magazine or another, drinking gallons of the stuff, and learned all kinds of interesting points about gin, vermouth, and the relationship thereof. (Not for the first time in this account, I will regret not taking contemporaneous notes.) The bartender turned his attention to me, and I ordered three martinis, as per Hitch’s well-researched perfect recipe, and he cried, “Oh, God no, not for me. I’ll never drink that awful stuff again. I’ll have a Scotch, please, a double.”

So we talked and drank, with my thoughts being drowned out by the inner voice, “OH, BOY, IM HAVING DRINKS WITH CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS.” We talked about the Iraq War, then in its fifth disastrous year, and which he famously and aggressively supported. I was not fooled enough to argue with him, but I did inquire, gently, as to certain aspects of the war which, perhaps, had not gone as well as he and other supporters had hoped or even predicted. “I will admit it could have been handled better,” he said, which is much as a concession as I had ever heard him make on that topic. He did say something which stuck with me: “I’m just glad we’re at war with someone.” That’s not quite as callous as it sounds here, without context… what he meant was that he saw militant Islam as a grave threat to Western Civilization and that he was glad that the West had finally given battle. One could argue that the “someone” in whose front yard the war happened to be fought wouldn’t share his gladness of its commencement, but again, as I said, I chose not to be that “one,” not then.

Eventually, after much chat (see note about regret re notes) and drinking and smoking we walked back to the Penn and Teller Theater and of course everyone was gone… we had missed our chance to see the Secret Lounge. By this time it was near 1 in the morning, and the three of us caught a cab together back to our casino. Beth and I headed to our hotel room… Hitch, 16 years my senior, headed off to a party some of the younger conference goers were throwing, where I’m told he danced and drank till dawn.

We talked that night about having him on Wait Wait but never did it. I’m not sure I regret it… three silly questions do not seem the sort of foolishness he would have suffered gladly, and I’m grateful I got to spend some time with him in his natural element, near a bar, with a drink and a smoke, with diversions and arguments ahead and behind.

Activities at the Kona Coast Resort

Activities at the Kona Coast Resort

Activities at the Kona Coast ResortLocated in the resort town of Keauhou on the Big Island’s leeward coast, Kona Coast Resort presents 267 air-conditioned villas near beautiful Keauhou Bay. Located within walking distance to nearby shops, a movie theater, restaurants, a golf course and ocean activities, the resort also offers many on-site activities that will keep the family entertained for the duration of your vacation.

Kona Country Club
Located adjacent to the resort, Kona Country Club presents a 36-hole championship golf course featuring a mountain and ocean course. In years past, the club has hosted the LPGA tour with the likes of golfing legends Annika Sorenstam, Karrie Webb and more.

Kona Country Club
Alii Drive
Keauhou, HI 96739
(808) 322-2595
www.konagolf.com/

Snorkel Cruise
Kona’s most popular snorkel cruise leaves twice daily from Keauhou Bay on route to nearby Kealakekua Bay. Providing all necessary snorkel gear, the Fair Wind cruise also offers a barbecue lunch on deck including grilled hamburgers and salads.

78-7130 Kaleiopapa St.
Kailua-Kona, HI 96740
(808) 322-2788
www.fair-wind.com/

Activities at the Kona Coast Resort

Watch Manta Rays
The nearby Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa offers the best place in Kona to observe manta rays at night. With lights shining down on the surf, the resort attracts the magnificent creatures within viewing distance of the lanai at the Crystal Blue lounge, where tropical cocktails are served nightly.

Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa
78-128 Ehukai Street
Kailua-Kona, Hawaii 96740
(808) 930-4900
www.sheratonkeauhou.com/

Picnic at Keauhou Bay
With coconut palms flickering in the breeze, Keauhou Bay is the ideal spot for bringing a picnic lunch or dinner. Watch the local outrigger canoe club train in the bay, play beach volleyball in the sand, or simply enjoy a beautiful sunset at one of Kona’s most scenic areas.

Shopping Center
Within walking distance to the resort, Keauhou Shopping Center includes a KTA grocery store, Long’s Drug store, several cafes and restaurants and a movie theater. On selected weekends, the shopping center features top Hawaiian recording artists in concert in the parking lot.

Activities at the Kona Coast ResortSnorkeling
Nearby Kahaluu Beach Park presents stellar snorkeling opportunities in a calm, protected bay. Beginning surfers can also test the waves outside the reef. A surfing heiau, or temple, is located on the lava bluffs overlooking the bay.

Archeological Sites
Ancient Hawaii comes alive in the vicinity of the resort, where such sites as a holua slide and old, stone temples can be seen in the distance, along with the battleground where Hawaii’s ancient religion was overthrown in 1819.

The Saga of Sleepy Frownin’ Jodes

In my two decades (plus change) on this earth, I have learned that time goes quickly if you’re doing something. Whether this is having fun or entering data into Excel spreadsheets, it does not matter. All that matters is that you are too busy to look at the clock every two minutes and think, “That’s it? Only two minutes has passed since I looked at the clock what seemed like nine hours ago?!” and if you’re me, that pisses you off. The work that I do has become easier with every day that I trim the fat and effectively organize (I’m not trying to brag…I’m just pretty sweet at administrating an office), and this work was very easy, to begin with, human element excepted.

Two or three hours into my workday, I usually find myself staring at my computer screen, having looked at the entire Internet, making my fingers into a gun and pointing it at my head. Don’t worry, it’s not loaded, and I don’t believe in suicide. Still: how is it only six o’fucking clock?

I decided that I might as well write a blog. I know I haven’t done it in a while. It’s not that I’ve had nothing to say, or that I’ve been too busy, it’s that every time I have cracked the ol’ knucks and given it a go, I have drawn blanks left and right. In other news, I finished writing a novel. Just kidding, I didn’t do that either.

So, let’s see. What’s new? Well, I moved again. I’ve lived in New York for less than three years and I have lived in four different apartments. This was an exciting one, not only because it’s the first apartment where I don’t have to rely on the G as my only train (don’t worry…the G is still around. I just don’t ever have to take it ever again if I don’t want, thankfully), but also because I moved in with the fella. We’re shacking up. Living in sin. Cohabiting. It’s pretty awesome. We have a lot of laughs, and both Vince and Jesse seem to love what I’ve done with the bathroom.

NOT! I would run with that wonderful theme, but unfortunately, it wouldn’t go with the portrait of Eric Bischoff that is hanging in front of the toilet. This is not a joke.

What else? What else besides that? I started jogging, for one. A week ago. I’m not really one for sticking with things. I’ve had a lot of hobbies in my life, a lot of discarded ambitions. And, I’m one of the least athletic people I know. In my school days, I played almost every sport I could, and never became good at any of them. Mostly because I was just doing it because my pals were doing it, and mostly because I never paid attention when I was supposed to be learning the rules. I was usually looking at all of the other kids, looking around the gym, digging at the dirt with the toe of my shoe, hoping I wouldn’t totally suck when it was time to actually play. Also, though, I’m just not physically graceful. Everyday living leaves me bruised. I run into things. I smack my hands on tables because I’m flopping them around too much. These things really happen.

This makes the choice to take up jogging a curious one. I decided I needed to start exercising because of all of the mopey shit (I think it’s called…depression? Does that sound right?) I’m always up to. So far, it’s been pretty cool. I enlisted the help of Vincent to wake me up in the morning and make me stick to it, which is an extremely tall order. He’s a saint for challenging the beast known as “Sleepy Frownin’ Jones,” who is my morning time alter-ego.

The first day I shuffled very slowly, for a very short amount of time, and had to practically crawl up the stairs to my apartment, only to feel like I was going to barf everywhere. And then I barfed everywhere. Ok, not everywhere, but I did barf. Each day after has gotten better, and though I’m only a week in, I find myself looking forward to it. We’ll see.

Lastly, I would like to call to your attention the blog of my favorite (and not just because he’s my only) little brother’s blog. It’s called Tyler’s Week in Review, and it’s genuinely funny. I’m constantly amazed at how this tiny little baby I used to hold is now taller than me and a burgeoning young writer. So please, check it out and tell him how cool he is.

Breast Surgery and the Side Effects

If your doctor recommends surgery for treatment of breast cancer, you have the option to ask questions before you have the procedure. You will want to know which surgery your doctor recommends, how long will your stay in the hospital be, and is a partial mastectomy a possibility? What about lymph nodes, will they be removed, how many, and why are they being removed?

How will you feel before, during, and after surgery? How long will your hospital stay be? Other questions you may want to ask are, will you need to take care of your incision? What will the scars look like? Will you have a full range of motion in your shoulder and arm if lymph nodes are removed? Are there special exercises to do? What about special care for the underarm and breast area? Someone who has already had the surgery and recovered may answer these questions. Always know the facts before you have surgery. You will want to know the expected recovery time, and any limits you will have on physical activity.

Once you have had surgery, you may feel out of balance with your body. If you have a breast removed, it may take time for you to adjust to the change in your body, especially if your breasts are large. It may cause extra discomfort or pain in your upper back and neck, and your muscles may feel stiff and weak. You will be referred to a physical therapist that will suggest exercises and ways to regain movement and strength in the surgery area. Exercise can help reduce pain and stiffness in the arm and breast.

Removing lymph nodes require you to take special care of your arm and hand for the rest of your life. Removing the nodes also restricts the flow of fluid and it may build up in your arm and hand causing swelling. Protecting your arm will become a major priority. You will need to carry heavy purses or luggage with the unaffected arm and avoid tight clothing or jewelry on the arm that swells. When having shots, medical procedures, or blood pressure readings, always use the unaffected arm. It is also important to protect your hands if using harsh detergents or gardening. Wearing gloves is recommended for these activities. Avoid sunburns, and take special care when cutting nails and cuticles on the swollen arm. Use an electric razor when shaving under the arms to avoid nicks or injury.

If lymphedema, or swelling of the lymph nodes occurs, your doctor may recommend wearing an elastic sleeve to improve circulation. Raising their arm over their head, and using medication, massage, or a machine that helps removed fluid from the affected area.

Many different things can cause the retaining of fluid in the arm. The weather, clothing, injury, and physical activity all will have an impact on fluid retention after lymph nodes are removed. Always contact your doctor if your arm is injured, is abnormally swollen, or if your arm feels red and warm. Special care should be given to your arm if you are bitten by an insect, have a cut, sunburn, or another injury to your arm.

Belly Fat

If you’re struggling with excess belly fat, you’re not alone. The vast majority of people worry about the unsightly appearance of that waistline bulge. However, belly fat is more than just unattractive, it’s very harmful to your health.

In fact, stomach fat is the most dangerous type of fat you can have. There are actually two types of fat in your abdominal area. One is subcutaneous fat, which is the layer of fat just under your skin that covers up those coveted abdominal muscles. The other is visceral, which is abdominal fat surrounding your organs. You’ll often see this type of fat described as a beer belly on men. Although it sticks out and appears flabby, it actually feels hard to the touch. Visceral fat is the most dangerous of the two types of stomach fat. This has to do with the release of more inflammatory molecules into the body.

Whether one is more dangerous than others is irrelevant because both are serious danger signs. Belly fat is linked to cancer, heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and much more. If you care about the quality of your life and about living at all, then you must address this issue immediately.

We’ve put together some articles below that will get you started. And we’ll be expanding this section so bookmark this page. Also, if you haven’t done so already, sign up in the form in the upper right corner of this page to download our fantastic e-book – “45 Fantastic Ways to Lose Calories” – FREE of charge (a $27 value). Get a jump start on attacking that belly fat! By the way, you can download with peace of mind. We hate spam and won’t give your email address to anyone for any reason!

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