Penn Jillette's home theater is, like his entire house, not what you'd expect. The Slammer, a 6,000-square-foot monument to eccentricity and a macabre sense of humor, sprouts out of the Nevada desert a few miles from Las Vegas, where Penn & Teller perform their remarkable feats of illusion nightly at the Rio Hotel & Casino. From the outside, behind a chain-link fence, it looks like a Frank Gehry vision of Blade Runner in pastel. "Frank Lloyd Wrong," someone comments as we drive up to the gate. Within the courtyard, which has seemingly endless new additions under construction to accommodate an 8-month-old daughter and another on the way, multicolored astroturf and red and yellow concrete patios add to the sense that this is as much an adult playground as it is a residence-a very adult playground, given Jillette's well-known affinity for the scatological and the salacious.
The annual Williamson County Parade of Homes in midstate Tennessee is an opportunity for Williamson residents to display the genteel aesthetics that characterize the affluent side of the South. But it's also a chance for a little bit of neighborly, good-ole-boy one-upmanship. Last year, for instance, one of the mega homes along the route had its own rock-climbing wall off the patio; another had an indoor driving range.