Year To Tell 

Yes, there are 365 days in a year. Working at a newsweekly, time sometimes feels like a game of 52 Pickup.

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The year 2006 will doubtless go down as one of the strangest on record.

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It’s the pace of events that marks a year as either painfully slow or mercifully fast. Last year ran at dual speeds. It was achingly slow due to the war in Iraq. The fact that Utah’s political landscape changed not one jot made 2006 more of the same. A needed jolt of acceleration came with the November elections reminding us that, even if Utah remained encased in melt-proof ice, change beyond state lines was possible. Even after City Weekly broke the story about dubious contributions to Salt Lake County District Attorney candidate Lohra Miller’s campaign'and cheers to former CW staff writer Shane Johnson for a job well done'she still won the friggin’ race!

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If you lived in Utah, 2006 played with your head. A lot.

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Both the stock market and Utah’s job market went gangbusters, even if we held our collective breath over Delta Air Lines and the survival of its hometown hub. Lindon-based SCO Group Inc.’s lawsuit over claims to the Linux code began unraveling, much to the joy of computer programmers worldwide. The LDS Church unveiled'finally!'its $1 billion plans for downtown Salt Lake City in the form of City Creek Center. Commercial developers and property owners in Sugar House'unfortunately!'announced plans to revamp the neighborhood’s shopping district. The Goshutes lost their bid'fortunately!'to turn Utah into a high-level nuclear waste dump, even as Larry H. Miller celebrated the state’s status as a waste dump of other sorts by renaming his sports arena. Is there nothing white men can’t get away with?

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Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and President Bush visited Utah to remind themselves what a supportive public feels like, and to remind those opposed to the war that they suffer from “moral or intellectual confusion.” Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, meanwhile, reminded everyone that there was no confusion about the fact that Iraq war effort was headed straight to hell.

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A child was murdered and her attacker blamed it on pornography. Two conjoined twins were surgically separated. Polygamous sect maestro Warren Jeffs was ordered to stand trial on charges of being accomplice to rape after finishing a meal of take-out food in the back of a van. Mention Utah to nonnatives and all they could ask you about was HBO’s Big Love series.

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All across the nation, most newsweeklies of our stripe'hell, even a bevy of dailies!'exult in year-end “best-of” lists. But since Salt Lake City is home to the LDS Church’s “prophet, seer and revelator,” we thought we’d do our best to match him with our own set of soothsayers for the coming year. Ours might not be as old as Gordon B. Hinckley’s 93 years, nor as spry, but we thought we’d give it a shot. But if it’s lists you want, I’ll offer you some of the shortest on record:

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Best nonfiction book: Rory Stewart’s The Places In Between
nBest work of fiction: Cormac McCarthy’s The Road
nBest pop-music album: The Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say I Am …
nBest film: (tie) Melville’s Army of Shadows and Scorsese’s The Departed

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As for video games, I don’t play them. As for expensive bottles of wine and other sybaritic pleasures, I cannot afford them. After 2006 and 52 more issues of this paper under my belt as editor, I’m afraid I’m more than content to enjoy a hot cup of Yorkshire Gold in a smoke-free environment than belting down a shot or two in my favorite watering hole which, as my colleagues will tell you, does not exist due to the dearth of times I even step foot inside a bar. Keeping your head above water, not to mention the vast quantities of bulls't we row through on a daily basis, requires a sharp mind and even temper at all times.

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As many readers will surely remind me, I’m veering toward narcissistic when boasting about a “sharp mind.” Assembling a newspaper every week can only be compared to shoving a king-size mattress up seven flights of stares'sometimes by yourself, at that'but it’s nothing compared to the joy of receiving barbed e-mails from your many fans. This year alone I’ve been called “lower than whale s't” by a Second Amendment enthusiast, pulled through whole wringers following a column about Salt Lake City’s Google hits, and been accused of contributing to “the diseducation of the American mind.” Proud moments, all of them.

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It’s a magic number, 52. Card sharks know that 52 Pickup is a cruel joke or card trick disguised as a card game. Whether you consider this newspaper a joke, cruel or otherwise, a game or even too mainstream for your taste, all that matters is that you find our 52 issues to come a bracing read. We plan on doing our best for 2007. Nothing is more valuable than our readership. It’s the hardest audience to earn, because reading is an act so easily lost.

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Of all the news that ran down the pipe of 2006, one scientific study stood out for sheer novelty. Using blindfolded students sniffing out a chocolate-scented trail, scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, discovered that, much like dogs, humans compare information from both nostrils to discern scents’ origins. Count me unconvinced. I’ve sensed more odious scents of late than I care to recall, and the American public seems nothing if not asleep at the wheel.

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There’s a conspiracy afoot to keep us quiet, sedate and blended into one mindless, consenting mass. Don’t buy into it. Work both nostrils to the hilt. Send me that e-mail, whether hostile or adoring, but hopefully somewhere between those two poles. Dialogue is democracy’s fuel, and we intend to stoke it for 2007.

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