While we're busy discussing the best of 2003, it's hard to ignore that other favorite topic: the worst of 2003. Just as the best rises to the top like cream, the worst sinks to the bottom like ... well, a few other substances I can think of. Here, then, are the sinkers and stinkers of 2003.
Rather than promote yet another annoying ballot on which most people in past years have penciled in their votes for Xtina, Britney, Limp Shitstick, and so on and so on, I decided to foist upon you my own picks for the best music of 2003. Undoubtedly, many of you will disagree with my picks and/or be disappointed that your personal faves didn't make this cut. But frankly, after a decade of sifting through literally thousands of CDs looking for a few gems worthy (mostly) of review in this fine publication, I believe I've earned the right to force my opinion on what records to buy down your gullet. That's what I like to think anyway. Without further ado, I proudly present what I honestly believe to be the best music released during the past year.
It's a new year! And you still have the same old fat ass! Only it's just a little bit fatter now, isn't it? Just where-oh-where did those mystery ass-pounds come from? Let's see, 17 red and green foil-wrapped mini Reese's peanut butter cups at 80 trillion grams of fat each, plus a half tin of sugar-sprinkled Danish butter cookies at 11 quatrillion grams of fat per tin, plus six glasses of egg nog at 99 million grams of fat each. And let's mutiply that by 31 days in December ... well, what do you know? It adds up. Wanna know the easiest way to drop a few pounds quick? This mystery diet has been around for centuries. It's called: eating vegetables. (Hint: potatoes are not vegetables.) Vegetables are the green things your mom made for dinner when you were a kid. They are variously known by such names as green beans, broccoli, squash, spinach and eggplant. You hated them back then but you had to eat them or Mom would get mad. Now Mom isn't hovering over your plate anymore but your punishment for not eating vegetables is ... you guessed it ... your fat ass! Make an effort to eat some green stuff at every meal and you'll watch those ass-pounds melt away like butter. If that doesn't work we'll refund every penny you paid for this paper.
Wean yourself off of Christmas candies with these slightly-less-fattening treats
By Gwyneth Doland
On Thanksgiving Day my friend Jamie brought over homemade peppermint patties shaped like turkeys and with feathers painted on in real gold paint. They tasted way, way better than store-bought patties and the turkey shapes made everyone ooh and aah. Jamie got the recipe from the Dec. 1998 issue of Gourmet magazine but over the year's she has changed it a little, adding more peppermint and the gold paint. Use your Christmas cookie cutters to make the patties in any shape you like and feel free to dip in dark chocolate or use some of the colored “confectionary coating” they sell at the Specialty Shop (5823 Lomas NE, 266-1212).
The top 10 (ok nine) food news stories of the year
By Gwyneth Doland
The Parkay Tub Says, “Buh-Bye!” One of our favorite events of the year was all of the attention paid to trans fatty acids, the kind of fat found in partially hydrogenated vegetable shortening (like margarine and Crisco). Last summer the Food and Drug Administration announced that they would require food manufacturers to list the amount of trans fatty acids in addition to the breakdown of saturated and unsaturated fats. They also said that trans-fat consumption should be kept to an absolute minimum. While the FDA stopped short of recommending eaters switch to butter or lard (which contain higher amounts of saturated fat but far less trans-fats) we like to interpret their findings as a perfectly good case for the all-butter pie crust and lard-only tamales. Hey, it's all about heart health.
New Mexico troops battle financial problems. Imagine you live paycheck-to paycheck. Since the majority of Americans do, that should be an easy lifestyle to consider. But then imagine you live paycheck-to-paycheck and have to support a family and all its related expenses: mortgage, car payment, insurance, children, you name it. Now imagine that your income was just cut by one-fifth, or even more, and at the same time you had to say goodbye to your family in hopes of seeing them again in about 18 months.
Don't worry, KRQE—even the Times is dead wrong, sometimes. A few weeks ago, “Thin Line” chalked up News 13's premature report of Joe Skeen's death to the station's need to be the first to report the story, and we still think the gaffe made the station look pretty stupid. But they might feel better to know that lots of news outlets have a hard time discerning if their subjects are dead or not. Last week, we received a copy of an internal memo sent to employees at the New York Times, chiding writers to verify cause of death in an obituary to avoid running an obit on someone who isn't dead.
City Hall brings us up to date with Don Juan de Oñate sculpture
By Greg Payne
Christmas is the season for giving. At the first Yuletide, gifts of frankincense, gold and myrrh were presented to a child in a manger. Two thousand years later, the tradition has evolved—there weren't too many folks receiving frankincense or myrrh last week—but gold is still a favorite followed closely, apparently, by bronze statues.
Dateline: Finland—Hard economic times have reached as far as the North Pole, where even Santa has been forced to lay off his elves. SantaPark, a tourist attraction near the Arctic Circle 520 miles North of Helsinki, has accumulated $550,000 worth of debt in its five years of operation and has been forced to lay off many of the elves staffing its carousel, souvenir stands and restaurant. While business is booming in the surrounding wilderness known as Lapland—home of the nomadic, reindeer-herding Lapps—SantaPark has seen visits decline. Tourism officials in Finland expect a new December record of more than 100,000 foreign visitors. Such numbers have not helped SantaPark, however, which has been accused of overstaffing and mismanagement.
Colorado author Robert Greer pleased a lot of readers with his C.J. Floyd mystery series. In his newest novel, Heat Shock, he brings his experience as a practicing surgical pathologist and research scientist to a gripping new thriller about a bizarre biotechnology abuse involving two prize fighting cocks. An emergency room doctor and a white-water rafter join forces to track down the stolen cocks and uncover a secret biotech scheme that could be worth billions of dollars.
After much strained thought and ruthless self-flagellation (smacking myself with a stick helps me think), I've narrowed my favorite arts and literature experiences of 2003 down to this brief list. It hasn't been easy, friends. A lot has happened in 2003. I've seen lots of great plays and exhibits. I've read lots of great books. In the end, though, these are the 10 artsy-litsy thing-a-ma-jing-a-ma-bobs that I felt were truly unforgettable. I present them to you now in no particular order.
1) The Guaymas Chronicles: La Mandadera David E. Stuart
One of the more prolific American composers of the last century, 88-year-old David Diamond has created an impressive body of finely crafted work whose tuneful romanticism and ruminative feel continue to win converts.
Joe Pernice has Brian Wilson's uncommon gift for popcraft as high art, and his ability to express the full range of love is pure genius. But the more I listen to his latest release, I'm reminded more of how I felt when I first listened to The Smiths' ode to love and heartache, Strangeways ... than I am of when first I listened to Pet Sounds. Lyrics and delivery are more than slightly reminiscent of Morrissey's, and while echoes of Johnny Marr's incomparable hooks can be heard within the guitar figures throughout, the arrangements sound hauntingly like 20/20-era Beach Boys.
Thanks to the Albuquerque Journal publisher Tom Lang, the National Hispanic Cultural Center has the $500,000 it needed to complete construction of the Roy E. Disney Center for the Performing Arts. Therefore, the 700-seat proscenium theater—the largest of the center's three venues—will be dubbed Albuquerque Journal Theatre. Shit, for half a million dollars, I will legally change my name to Tom Lang's Michael Henningsen. ... Local metal band ATG wrap up the year as winners of both the 2003 New Mexico Showcase and 103.3 The Zone's Local Access Showcase III, making them the only band to have won both contests in the same year. They've also completed their debut full-length album, which is to be released sometime in early 2004. Furthermore, ATG have applied for a showcase at next year's South by Southwest Music Festival in Austin, which all local bands should have done by now. Congratulations on all your successes, guys. ... Thirsty Ear's American Icons Series kicks off on Jan. 30, 2004, with a concert by the one and only Bo Diddley. So far, other performers scheduled to appear on later dates in the series are Eric Bibb, Chris Smither and Taj Mahal. Season tickets are still available. Visit www.ThirstyEarFestival.com or call (505) 473-5723 for more information. ... In case you hadn't noticed, pretty much nothing at all is going on this week.
Astor Piazzolla, Argentinean tango master and the man responsible for introducing the form to dance floors and concert halls worldwide, has been dead nearly 15 years. But his musical genius and richly hued legacy lives on in this remarkable set. Contemporary elctronica artists—Koop, 2 Banks of 4, Fantasista, Nickodemus and Osiris and many others—were given original masters from which to create remixes of classic Piazzolla works. The results vary from trippy, neo-psychedelic groove to deep house, and all 15 tracks are genuinely stunning. An album of the original tracks reinterpreted here is forthcoming. This one truly kicks ass.
This is an expanded reissue of Knife in the Water's acclaimed 2000 release. Dark with brief emotional flares, quietly shimmering but occasionally and unexpectedly brutal, Red River quintessentially defines the Austin-based quintet who made it. Bill McCullough's pedal steel is used sparingly, but in—and only in—all the right places amid spacious psychedelic organ and dueling vocals by songwriter/guitarist Aaron Blount and keyboardist Laura Krause. Think Nick Cave colliding head-on with the Handsome Family and you'll have a pretty good idea of just how cool KITW and this album in particular really are.
The Richard Levy Gallery isn't exactly known for peddling crafts. The gallery specializes in showcasing some of the most radical cutting edge art in town. For this reason, it might surprise many people to learn that the current exhibit at the gallery features work by artists who share a common interest in sewing.
So, you've been slapping plastic on retail counters all over the state for a month, buying mountains and mountains of gifts for everyone from your closest family and friends to your third Ukrainian cousin thrice removed who you've never met and aren't entirely sure even exists. Christmas—praise Jesus—is over, and it's time to start spending money on someone who really matters: yourself.
Christmas is great and it also kind of sucks. Mostly it sucks if you're not Christian, but even those of us (whose families at least) belong to the “I Heart Jesus” club can get pretty down around this time of year. For one thing, all that shopping stress can really send you hurtling headfirst towards either another religion or an anti-capitalist cult. Baby Jesus's birthday can also be a real bummer if you're not one of those folks roasting up a big haunch of meat and mashing several pounds of Yukon Golds while nibbling on Grandma's date bar cookies. But hey, I saw Will Ferrell in Elf, and I know all you need is a little of that good old Christmas spirit! Or shall I say, Christmas spirits. That's right, there's no case of holiday blues that can't be cured with a bucket of KFC Original Recipe, a handle of Jim Beam, a couple good friends and some really bad TV. Yee-haw!
Our panel suffers through an afternoon of champagne-sipping to find the best cheap bubblies
By Gwyneth Doland
You walk into your favorite bottle shop and all you know is that you need to buy some sparkling wine to take to a party. You don't want to look like a jerk bringing Tott's but you're also not prepared to drop 200 bucks on a bottle o' bub'. So if you're going to buy (relatively) cheap bubbly, which one's the best? To figure that out we assembled a panel of tasters who sipped and bickered and picked favorites from a group of 10 that all cost less than $30. The panel was composed of Alibi Food Editor Gwyneth Doland, Editorial Intern Laura Marrich, National Distributing's Ryan Twitchell and Bill Nolan of Bacchus/Wine Patrol/Southern Wines and Spirits along with Sam Etheridge and Jamal Davis of Ambrozia (Rio Grande and Central, 242-6560).
Most of us were surprised to find that this wine was American and not French because it seemed French in style. Several of us noted that it was “well made” or “well structured” as well as crisp and clean” with “steely, nice fruits and a great bouquet.” One taster dissented and called it, “pretty and honest but [without] a whole lot of personality—not as complex as I'd like it to be.” Still, after repeated tastes and discussion we all chose it to be among our top three.
This French Champagne impressed us with what one taster described as a, “seductively fruity nose with enticing flavors of Pinot Noir”—otherwise known as “fruit and earth” with “a nice finish”. Others described it as “elegant” but “unassuming” and “great for a party” but “without much character.” Though we couldn't find it for under $33 on the day of the tasting, we heard sworn testimony that it can be found for as little as $27 on sale at Cost Plus World Market.
We had a near consensus that this wine was “soft and pretty” with an “earthy, sweet nose” of “green apples.” We did disagree over whether the finish was “lingering” or “quick” but even the dissenters who derided the Blanc de Blancs as “unfocused” conceded that they'd have no qualms about serving it at a party.
Those of us who like our bubblies lean and mean were wooed by this vintage bottle from the California arm of Taittinger. Some thought it was “fresh and lively” if also “simple and innocuous”. It was “approachable and crisp” with a “very nice flavor at first” even though others pointed out that the charm faded quickly. After one taster labeled it a “wedding toast” wine, several others concurred that this “refreshing” sparkler would do well for toasting.
This was certainly the best value of the tasting, easily placing ahead of the only cheaper wine (Seaview Brut). New Mexico's favorite everyday sparkling wine was variously described as being “clean”, “lean” and having a “steely nose”, which some did think indicated a “lack of depth” or “not much character.” Still, we found the bigger bubbles “vibrant” and “refreshing” and all appreciated the low price.
This is Gruet's sweeter sparkling wine and even tasting blind most tasters recognized it immediately. We admired its “floral nose” and “golden apple” flavor and thought it would be a good introduction for non-wine folks; In fact, one taster called it “training wheels for new bubbly drinkers”. Others called it “easy drinking” even though one suspected it would produce a “wicked hangover”.
Another American-made sparkler from a French Champagne house, we liked the “meatiness” that Pinot Noir grapes give the wine even though we could agree it was not that complex. We appreciated the “good acid and crisp finish” and suggested it would be good for slurping with friends at a party. One taster picked up a hint of cherry flavor and others quickly agreed, prompting a discussion of possible food pairings including classic French cherry clafouti.
The only Italian sparkling wine in the tasting, Franciacorta's Bellavista seemed a bit “metallic” and “somewhat sweet” though one taster was enamored of the “soft pear and apple flavors” and “just enough acidity”; Another called it “an ’I got lucky last night' morning-after” wine. Two suggested it for mimosas.
This Australian bubbly was the biggest disappointment of the tasting. Several of us reacted with chagrin when it was revealed that we had flatly rejected a wine we had highly recommended in the past. Either the wine has changed dramatically over the past few years or this experience taught us again the value of tasting blind. Though most of us were charmed by what we described variously as a “seductive nose”, “intoxicating smell” and “very nice bouquet”, we were disappointed by the fading bubbles, lack of acidity and quick finish. One taster went so far as to label it “not good at all—barely drinkable” but another suggested it might make a good end to the night, with “some leftover P.F. Chang's, a date and bad television.”
And finally, we tasted a sparkling Shiraz/Cabernet Franc/Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Australia. This unusual, dry red with bubbles provoked a number of furrowed brows until the folks from Ambrozia brought out a plate full of chocolate truffles. Eureka! We discovered that this red bubbly is a stellar match for not-too-sweet chocolate desserts like truffles (especially flavored with Framboise) and, we suspect, flourless chocolate cake.
Celebrate the New Year with a romantic three-night getaway at the historic El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe. The package includes a bottle of chilled champagne, a candle-lit dinner at the acclaimed Old House Restaurant, breakfast in bed each morning, your choice of a massage or any other spa treatment once during your stay, and monogrammed plush terrycloth robes as a souvenir of your stay. The hotel also provides live music every night for your listening and dancing pleasure. At $1017, it aint exactly cheap—but if you can afford to, go ahead and splurge. You've got a whole year to work on your money management skills.
East Mountain residents have new flavors and an entirely new dining experience waiting for them at Nouveau Noodles, the latest restaurant to open in the area in the past few months. Located on North Highway 14 in the building that once housed Kokopelli's restaurant, Nouveau Noodles promises something different for area diners, in the form of carefully crafted Asian-fusion cuisine.
Legendary New Mexican author N. Scott Momaday will make an appearance this Sunday, Dec. 21, from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Jemez Mountain Trading Co. in Jemez Springs. Momaday actually spent a good chunk of his childhood on Jemez Pueblo, and the region provides settings for much of his acclaimed Pulitzer Prize winning novel House Made of Dawn.
Momaday will deliver a special reading in conjunction with an exhibit of his paintings from his children's book Circle of Wonder, also set in the Jemez area. Take a brief roadtrip to meet and greet one of our greatest living writers. For details, call (505) 829-3956.
Computer-generated art by New Mexican digital artists is currently on display at the Ironic Horse Gallery (416 Iron SE). The Digital Fine Art Society has only been around for a little over a year, but the 72-member group is already making big, surf-worthy waves in the local arts community. Their latest group show presents art on the cutting edge of image-making technology. Show hours are Saturdays Dec. 20 and Dec. 27 from noon to 5 p.m. If you can't make it then, call 924-2161 to make an appointment.
Ah, the Christmas season. The angelic sounds of carols wafting through the city. The wide-eyed faces of innocent young children, eagerly anticipating the most wonderful day of the year. The merry jangle of sleigh bells. The bright lights shining from a thousand trees. The jolly laugh of a thousand St. Nicks, warming the hearts of a million holiday shoppers.
Conjure up a little extra holiday mirth by attending Música Antigua de Albuquerque's concert of music from the Middle Ages and Renaissance in celebration of the Christmas season. Now Make We Merthe will feature both vocal and instrumental pieces performed on period instruments like the recorder, shawm, vielle, rebec, portative organ and other antique obscurities.
It should be a very good show. The group will perform in St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church (601 Montaño NW) on Sunday, Dec. 21, at 4:30 p.m. $15 general, $12 seniors, $8 students. For more information, call 842-9613.
The late actor Vincent Price acquired a ledger book in the late '60s dating from the last decades of the 19th century. The book was filled with drawings created by Native American artists. This odd artifact is considered to be the finest of its type in existence. Nineteen drawings from that ledger book are currently on display at the Price-Dewey Gallery in Santa Fe, along with contemporary ledger drawings by Tom and Linda Haukaas. The show runs through Jan. 16. For details, call (505) 982-8632.
"I'm not a one-trick pony," sings Nelly Furtado on the opening track of her new album, and it quickly becomes apparent that that one powerful sentiment is a declaration that Folklore is more than just a well-timed follow-up to her widely lauded debut, Whoa, Nelly! Besides the fact that she's now legally allowed to drink alcohol, Furtado has matured into an artist who's able to display her true colors in a variety of contexts—from hip hop to stirring string arrangements to pure pop. Folklore's earthy grooves, innovative melodies and wide-open lyrics conspire to make it a sure bet.
Saturday, Dec. 20; Outpost Performance Space (all ages, 8 p.m.): Legendary folksinger, songwriter and storyteller Rosalie Sorrels will make her first appearance in Albuquerque in over two years with a concert that ironically celebrates her life on the road and her retirement from it, simultaneously. Mother of 22 solo recordings during a career that has spanned 40 years, Sorrels is promoting her latest release, Rosalie Sorrels and Friends, which features guest performances by Peggy Seeger, David Bromberg and Loudon Wainwright III.
On Thursday, Dec. 18, Stella Blue will host an "End-of-Semester Reggae Party," featuring selections chosen and spun by DJs Hovey D and Kabir from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. Cover is only $2. Those of the female persuasion get through the doors free of charge. Then, on every Thursday night thereafter, Stella Blue will present Stella Blue's Reggae Bash for those of you who can't get enough of ganja-soaked grooves. ... Albuquerque's most famous (and deservingly so, if I do say so my damn self) band, the Shins, have landed on yet another national magazine cover. The Dec. 15 edition of Pollstar magazine, the leading journal of touring bands in the country and the one nearly every club in America you'll ever visit books bands from, is graced with the faces of Jesse, Marty, James and Dave. Inside, there's an accompanying article titled "Making Money with the Shins." I certainly hope they are. Making money, that is. ... Local guitarist/music professor Michael Chapdelaine has finally released a Christmas album featuring renditions of—you guessed it!—Christmas carols and holiday music. Details are few since I can't seem to access his website, but the album sounds lush and wondrous, just like the holidays used to be before my parents got divorced and my brother moved away. You can get your copy at Natural Sound and other area record stores friendly to local releases. City on a Hill, the organization that currently bases itself in the historic (and recently remodeled) Lobo Theater will present the third in their three-concert series on Saturday, Dec. 20 at 8 p.m. with gospel singer Hillary Smith. The concert is free and open to all ages.
East Mountain residents have new flavors and an entirely new dining experience waiting for them at Nouveau Noodles, the latest restaurant to open in the area in the past few months. Located on North Highway 14 in the building that formerly housed Kokopelli's restaurant, Nouveau Noodles promises something different for area diners, in the form of carefully crafted Asian-fusion cuisine.
On their 17th album of 90-BPM darkly hued songs, The Church manage to sound exactly as they have for the past 23 years. Forget Yourself was reportedly recorded spontaneously by drummer Tim Powles, which purportedly means that the band recorded live as a four-piece unit instead of in layer upon layer of overdubs. The result is a record that sounds a tad underproduced as Church albums go, but, being that that's all that separates it from about 15 other Church records, I'll take it. The songs here aren't particularly strong, but some of the understated guitar work is quite interesting.
Sosa is perhaps the most prominent Cuban jazz pianist working today. On his 10th album, he's teamed up with Los Angeles-based world music percussionist Adam Rudolph with mixed results. Sosa is known for playing outside the box of Afro-Cuban jazz and as a pianist with fully evolved harmonic sense. So while some of Rudolph's percussion lends itself nicely to Sosa's expressive compositions, some of it simply sounds like a three-year-old in a kitchen full of pots and pans, which distracts from Sosa's mostly tender, engaging keyboard work. At times, Rudolph seems to bang on things simply because he has them.
Notice something different about the food section this week? That's right, we've done away with “Eater's Digest” and replaced it with “Chowtown”. What's the difference between these two? “Eater's Digest” was a collection of paid advertisements that included brief descriptions of restaurants along with their addresses, phone numbers and other important details. “Chowtown”, instead of being written and paid for by the restaurants themselves, is a rotating collection of restaurant descriptions written by us. the result is a more comprehensive, more flexible picture of dining in the Duke City. We hope that “Chowtown” will soon become an indispensable tool for you foodies. If you have comments or suggestions please let us know by e-mailing email@example.com.
Everybody wants to know where to eat out on Christmas. Unfortunately for you (but fortunately for exhausted cooks and servers) many restaurants close for the holidays, allowing employees to spend a much needed break with their families. In calling around checking on holiday hours, however, I found that many of my favorite restaurants will be serving on Christmas Eve. Here's a quick rundown of your options.
Can't decide what to do for New Year's? If you don't want to stay home, don't want to go to a bar and really don't want to have to drive anywhere then you might be a prime candidate for one of these dinner/entertainment/room packages.
The Albuquerque Hilton and Hot 95.1 join forces this year for a special “ABQ 1st Friday Old School New Year's Eve Bash”. Tickets for the party can be purchased alone or as part of a special package that includes a discounted stay at the hotel. The event kicks off at 8 p.m. with a free all-you-can eat buffet featuring a tempting array of fresh fruit, seafood and decadent pastries. Contests, give-aways and booze will ensue, with DJs spinning enough old school and R&B favorites to keep your booty shaking all night long.
The Hyatt Regency Downtown is a sure bet for a stylish but low-key New Year's celebration. Sip your bubbly at the bar while enjoying the smooth sounds of a live jazz trio. Afterwards, take advantage of the hotel's New Year's package, which includes double occupancy guest accommodations, complimentary parking (a must for any Downtown partygoers), party favors in your room and a breakfast buffet for two. The cost is $169 plus tax and tip.
With two New Year's Eve packages to choose from, the Tamaya is the perfect place to start off the New Year with a bang. The Celebration package starts at $349 per couple and includes one night's accommodations for two people, two tickets with reserved seating to the ballroom gala party, live entertainment featured throughout the resort, elaborate New Year's Eve Buffet, decadent dessert and coffee station, midnight countdown, champagne toast, spectacular balloon drop, party favors and resort fee. The Midnight to Remember package starts at $449 per couple and includes all of the above Celebration package items plus a choice between dinner for two at the Corn Maiden or preferred seating at the ballroom gala party. Entertainment includes the Ken Arlen Orchestra. Dinner options range from Ancho Chile Seared Pork Loin with Cranberry-Cider Demi Glaze to Pinon Coffee Crusted Beef Tenderloin with Herbed Mushroom-Truffle Sauce. Got the kids with ya? For $60, kids aged 3-12 can join Camp Tamaya's celebration including children's buffet, games, movies and a special sparkling cider toast.
If you're looking to pull out all the stops this year, check out the two ridiculously luxe packages offered by El Monte Sagrado resort in Taos. The first will set you back $2,935 and includes a five night stay in a suite, admission to the New Year's Eve masquerade ball, New Year's Day recovery breakfast and a choice of three spa treatments per person.
Then again you could celebrate the New Year with a romantic three-night getaway at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe. The package includes a bottle of chilled champagne, a candle-lit dinner at the Old House Restaurant, breakfast in bed each morning, your choice of a massage or any other spa treatment once during your stay, and monogrammed plush terrycloth robes as a souvenir of your stay. The hotel also provides live music every night for your listening and dancing pleasure. At $1017, it aint exactly cheap—but if you can afford to, go ahead and splurge. You've got a whole year to work on your money management skills.