Happy New Year, lovers of reality-show viewing and online-fat-chewing! According to my handy Mayan calendar, Season 9 of Top Chef will end forever at some point during 2012, so you'll want to enjoy it as much as possible while it lasts. And a great way to start is to join us in the comments under this post, where a bunch of us will be communally live-blogging tonight's episode. In Lak'ech Ala K'in!

It's been two weeks since we last gathered, so if you're like me, you're probably eager to get back to chatting after our long winter's fortnight apart. But before I share a few tidbits about tonight's episode and then hurry down to join y'all in the comments, I have three quick things I want to mention:

  • Thing 1: I feel remiss in not learning sooner—that is, before commenter apieceofdenis mentioned it in the last live blog—that contestant Ty-Lör Boring's past includes a stint as as a nude model. He once flashed his posterior in the pages of the aptly name Butt magazine, and showed off his meat and potatoes for another gay hipster rag. Gawker's pervy sister site Fleshbot has all the NSFW goodies. As I read up on this, I further discovered that Ty-Lör's father has suffered 10 heart attacks and his mother has been stricken with silicon-breast-implant poisoning. Talk about a back story! So is Mr. Boring now our favorite, given all this strange, sympathetic and decidedly un-boring history? Let's discuss!
  • Thing 2: I've collected a few of my favorite comments from our last live blog, where they are available for your bemused perusal. And I don't know about you, but I love nothing better than perusing things that bemuse me!
  • Thing 3: Mark your calendars, because this week we'll be kicking off new Gawker commenter live blog for Project Runway All-Stars, which premieres tomorrow night at 9 pm Eastern. So if you watch Project Runway, join us for that! And if you don't watch Project Runway, well … start watching it and join us anyway! I hear we may have a very special guest in the near future.

OK, with those things out of the way, here are a few things about tonight's Top Chef episode—which, judging from the previews, will be chock full of action and suspense! For example:

  • In the quickfire challenge, the chefs will have race to make "modernist cuisine"—which means they'll all be running around the kitchen grabbing various culinary chemicals and gastro-scientific gadgets. Which chef will be the first to whip out the liquid nitrogen? Suspense!
  • Sarah will suffer some kind of medical issue and get taken away in an ambulance, causing Ed Lee—who has previously confessed to murderous intentions toward his competitors—to blurt out: "Is she dead?" Will we find out that Ed actually attempted to kill Sarah? Suspense!
  • Grayson will serve food to Tom Colicchio with this promise: "You'll love it—it's gonna be like sex in the mouth!" Will Tom swallow it, or spit it out? Suspense!

So those are my preview things. Now I'm all out of things, so … let's do this thing! To the comments!