Although the official results won't be announced until sometime way past midnight, I did want to jot down my impressions of the evening while the iron is still hot. I arrived at the heavily fortified gates of Le Chateau du Toit precisely at seven, and after heavily armed security personnel had looked me over, frisked me rather closely, and given me a breathalyzer test, I was admitted. The place looked more than a trifle spooky, with its craggy crenellations and shadowy battlements in the light of the full moon, and I was all like Childe Roland to the Dark Tower came and everything, made me a little nervous I'll have to admit. But once inside the footman took my coat and Myers took my six bucks and I was in like Flynn. Even had a name tag waiting for me.

If you've never had the privilege of visiting this immense manse, I don't want to spoil it for you, and I don't want to insult my hostess so gravely as to spoil my chances for ever again being invited in, but nevertheless I feel compelled to set down my first impressions.

My first impression, especially after I had wandered into one of the numerous back rooms, was of having stumbled into a suburban Detroit Mafia funeral parlor. The decor was all pseudo-neo-pre- and post-Raphaelite, the silver was modern Dutch, and the predominant air was, well, funereal with a subtle soupcon of kitsch. The most impressive pieces in the collection were a dog and cat on the mantelpiece all stuffed with gears and golf balls, which I immediately recognized as the work of Leo Sewell, the notorious Philadelphia sculptor. My dentist has one of his pieces, a seven-foot tall sculpture of a nude woman, stuffed, with gears, golf balls, rusty nails and other found objects, and the style, once you've been exposed to it is unmistakable. Of course at the dentist I generally come face-to-face with this piece just as I'm coming out of the laughing gas, so I'm never quite sure afterwards if I've really seen what I think I saw, if you get my drift.

Anyhow, I sat down on one of the plush chairs which creaked ominously -- frankly, I didn't think I was *that* heavy -- but the chatelaine hustled over and assured me that it could survive my weight, and wouldn't spill me onto the floor. Roger Harman was there sponsoring one of his pizzas (Pizza E, to be specific) and he immediately offered me a free meal at Abbraccio if I agreed to throw my vote his way. Roger is always offering me free meals at Abbraccio, and has yet to come through, so I demanded something more tangible to buy my vote and he slipped me a benjamin and a little vial of what I presume is methamphetamine, although of course I haven't tried it yet and probably never will -- I just like to have it around so I can resist the temptation.

Roger also informed me that the house had once amazingly enough belonged to the Movement for a New Society, the hippie commune which used to boast numerous locations in the hood. Of course one never would have known, although there *were* some of those spacey New Age posters on the stairs down to the basement -- I didn't venture down there myself, having visions of Grateful Dead skeletons and Ira Einhorn trunks moldering around down there. I did glimpse a Klimt on the way upstairs to rifle through the pockets of the coats which folks had helpfully left in the bedroom, and an Edvard Muench, although if they were originals I'll eat my hat. At any rate, there must have been at least 50 contestants present, many of whose names were familiar to me from the list, including Matt Wolfe, Token Republican, whom I met for the first time. He proved to be surprisingly genteel, wasn't actually gnawing the heads off of chickens or anything, and wasn't even wearing a Santorum pin, which was fortunate for if he had been I might have been forced to bust a cap on his ass, gentle Mennonite though I am.