Oscar night is one of my favorite holidays (if Halloween can be a holiday, then I think I can call anything I want a holiday). For more than a decade, I would get together with a group of friends every year for our Oscar party. We would think nothing of canceling dinner plans or movie nights with each other, but nobody ever canceled on Oscar night. As a measure of our fanatacism, I’m sad to say that it was very exciting news for us when the Oscars moved from Monday to Sunday. Now we had all day to prepare for the fete rather than having to rush home from work, perhaps missing the red-carpet fashion show if traffic was snarly.

While the Oscars are entertainment enough (the actors, the outfits, the speeches), I think what kept each of us showing up was the chance to win our money back from the previous year. Because it was ultimately about competition, and who could pick the most winners on the entire ballot. People’s methods were always part of the entertainment as well. Some watched as many of the movies as they could get their hands on and read every issue of Entertainment Weekly a month before the show, while others went with their gut, and still others used a complicated matrix involving the movies’ stats. I can even remember one year when one of my friends chose Babe for Best Picture simply because she believed it should win. We were more than happy to take her money.

Billy Crystal epitomizes the Oscars, and has been one of its most successful hosts. In fact, he’s won a total of four Emmys for his writing and hosting. Interestingly, in the last 14 years, Whoopi Goldberg, Steve Martin, and Billy Crystal have been the only hosts, with one unfortunate exception when David Letterman was given the nod. (Remember that? No wonder they decided to stick with the tried-and-true.)

So it’s fitting that Crystal appears on our cover this issue. But he didn’t agree to talk to us now because of the excellent timing it provided for the Oscars. No, Crystal agreed because he wants to promote his new book. A children’s book. Taking part in the latest celebrity trend du jour, Crystal is following in the footsteps of Jerry Seinfeld, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Madonna, and has penned a book for his new granddaughter. And he wants everyone to know about it. So please, buy the book, watch him host the Oscars on February 29, and read all about his annual family vacation to Hawaii.

Also check out our story on the latest happening development in Tokyo, as well as one on some excellent Atlanta restaurants that you likely wouldn’t have found on your own. We’re happy to share them with you even knowing it may wreck our chances of getting in on any given night. We also have a great conversation with Charles Schwab, and an inside look at Carmelo Anthony’s stellar, albeit young, basketball career. I’m willing to bet that you’ll vote all of our stories “Best” in their categories. Old habits do indeed die hard.