* A few months ago, those of us from Syosset High School rejoiced that one of our own, Natalie Portman, had won the Oscar. My Long Island alma mater has a long record of impressive alums, including Tony winner Idina Menzel and Michael Isikoff, the ex-Newsweek investigative ace who broke the Monica Lewinsky story. Now we have yet another: Ben Ehrenreich, who we knew as Benji once upon a time and who helped me survive Mr. Titterton's 11th grade pre-calc class, nailed the National Magazine Award in Feature Writing last night. Ehrenreich, the son of well-known author Barbara Ehrenreich, bested a front-runner from The New Yorker with his brilliant autopsy of what Los Angeles -- and probably every American city, more or less -- does with our corpses in "The End" for Los Angeles Magazine. Read all of it. You'll never approach a funeral the same way again. Well, except your own.
* Meanwhile, on the home front here, the Review-Journal ran a piece today on Vice President Joe Biden schmoozing with now-Sen. Dean Heller at his swearing-in yesterday and, uh, oh my GOD. Writer Steve Tetrault seemed to be stretching to write it as admiringly as possible in order to leave the reader to draw the only reasonable conclusion: Biden is a freak. Seriously. Inviting the Hellers by to check out the Veep Mansion, Biden quipped:
What a charming invite. It's kind of amazing Biden hasn't made any trips to Vegas, where I'm sure the Real World Suite and probably a Bellagio buffet line pass are available for the asking.
* If you've always wondered what the big whoop is about The Strip Podcast but never had the time or inclination to download an episode and get sucked in, Josh from VegasMavens.Com did a lengthy profile about me that includes many references to really great highlights and dramas that have erupted over the years on the show.
* In lieu of a proper episode of The Strip this week, we'll be posting two specials. One will be the Scott Conant interview and the other will be my Barry Manilow from a few months ago. Then we'll be back next week, I promise.
* I can't say how moved I am by all the coverage of my Knight-Wallace Fellowship. Hunter at RateVegas and Chuck Monster at VegasTripping wrote about my impending departure, Tim & Michele on Five Hundy #298 even played a phone call about it and Norm Clarke put it in that old thing known as a newspaper. Plus, of course, its been like my birthday on Twitter and Facebook. Thanks so much, folks. We've still got a few more months, though, so don't tune me out yet.