Saturday, August 11, 2007

Duck Poop Happens!

You might have been wondering why I used a word like "visage" in my prior post. I'll tell you why. It's because the word "face" has a "c" in it and my keyboard was unwilling to produce that letter nor its neighbor, "x." And why, might you ask, were those keys inoperable? Well... see these cuties waddling around on my MacBook Pro below?

Yesterday, my "Petcast" co-host Emily Richmond and I recorded out 100th episode. She surprised me by blindfolding me and bringing into the LVRocks.Com studio a special guest, a woman who raises ducks as pets. One was placed in my hands and I came close to figuring out what it was -- I said a baby chick -- and then we had our interview with the duck lady.

Nobody told me that ducks have a tendency to poop a lot. And one laid a nice pile right upon my keyboard. We wiped it up, thought all was fine. Then I was off to the cafe to write and the "c" and "x" were not producing c's and x's.

The c and x, it so happens, are really important. Without them, you can't CUT or COPY anything. They also make writing a 2,000-word piece on a guy named RiChardson from New MeXico a bit of a challenge. But I did so, copying the needed letters using the drop-down menu and pasting them using the CTRL-V function however many times I needed to.

Then it was off to Genius Bar at the Fashion Show Mall's Apple Store, where I opted not to inform my genius that I had damaged my computer by having a duck poop on it while podcasting.

"It seems there's some build up under here," he said cheerfully.

"Wow, what do ya know?" I answered.

The keys couldn't be replaced so the whole keyboard must be. Fortunately, it's under warranty. It'll take a few days, and I'll have a new computer. But until then I'm stuck using our old iBook G4, which I not-terribly-affectionately refer to as our Fisher Price computer.

Oh well. The show, which'll be online in a week or two, was fun. And the ducks were really cute, too. See?

Our Hapless Governor

It's not just the fairly silly look on Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons' visage in this one frame that was transmitted by Idaho Statesman photographer Shawn Raecke via the Associated Press. Surely there were others Raecke shot from this event in Boise last Monday when Gibbons met with three other Mountain West governors to discuss wildfire prevention, including Idaho Gov. "Butch" Otter seated besides Gibbons.

No, the look is bad enough. But if you look really close, there's one other thing: Our governor is seated behind Otter's name plate.


Anybody know... to set up Blogger to only show a certain portion of the post and making you click on a link to get the rest? Long blog posts like the last one seem to call out for this, and I see it on other blogs. Anyone?

When Hansie met Siggy (and Roy)

(This is a reprint from my LasVegasWeekly.Com column, which appears Fridays here)

I’ve been trying to imagine something. A press release came through last week noting that Siegfried and Roy visited new Vegas headliner Hans Klok on Aug 2 after watching the Dutch performer’s show. This is exciting news for the Strip’s biggest ripoff magician, whose new production at the PHo with momentary co-star Pamela Anderson is so staggeringly awful that the Las Vegas Sun didn’t even review it.

So I’m wondering what that meeting might have been like. Here’s my version:

Hansie: Allo, Siegfried and Roy! Thank you for coming to see my fantastical new show starring me, zee biggest star in Europe!

Roy nods and grins.

Siggy: Oh, no problem! We heard that you were having some, uh, public relations problems. Happy to help!

Hansie: Problem? No! I am zee most amazing thing this Strip has seen in ages! I was zee biggest thing in, you know! They love me and zee flouncy black silk shirts that sometimes expose my, how you say, hairless neeples! We sell out all zee time. I swear it!

Siggy: Hansie, my European effete blond brother, come now. It eez I, it eez Siggy here. I know zee truth. Your show’s a stinker, everybody knows dat. But I am happy to help you by rolling out my lover ... er ... lifelong housemate and performing partner, Roy, here for a happy picture. I don’t even mind anymore that you wear a flowing, wind-swept coif just like mine or dat you stole our Evil Queen trick for your act. What’s ours is yours, we say.

Roy nods and grins.

Hansie: Stole? Stole? Did I mention dat I am a European megastar? I have been blowing away zee audiences for years with all of dis that I do putting preety girls in boxes and then bringing dem back as many times as eez possible in 90 minutes! I stole nothing. Nothing!

Siggy turns to the handlers.

Siggy: Do we really need to do dis? ‘Wheel of Fortune’ is on soon, you know. Or there must be zee opening of a can of tuna fish somewhere that we appear at. Dis man is an idiot. I do not need to share zee Siggy and Roy pixie dust with heem.

Hansie suddenly looks panicked.

Hansie: Ok, Ok. I am sorry. Sorry, grandmaster Siggy. I just do not understand it! I am making big magic for zee Strip, bigger than anyone has seen since (looks at Roy, lowers voice to a hush), well, you know. Why is dis all working out so badly?

Siggy looks paternal, sympathetic. Roy nods and grins.

Siggy: It is a veddy difficult business, this Las Vegas thing.

Hansie: But how did you do it? How did you get zee world to love zee two flamboyant Germans and some funny animals?

Siggy: Well, when we did it, we did tricks nobody else had ever seen and we didn’t need to run around zee stage like Goebbels being chased by zee circumcision knife to make it seem exciting.

Hansie: But dat works so well in Europe, where I am zee biggest star since Erik Estrada!

Siggy is undeterred.

Siggy: Also, back then zee people loved Las Vegas for its tackiness and its pretend-closeted performers. It was zee age of Liberace, young Hansie. Nowadays, zee world doesn’t mind zee performers being out of zee closet. Look at Elton John! Joey Arias! Everybody in Zee Producers besides Tony Danza!

Hansie blanches, but it’s hard to tell since he’s always sheet-white anyway

Roy nods and grins.

Siggy: Did I say something to upset you, young Hansie?

Hansie: Siggy, I have only zee highest respect for you and Roy. I really do. But I am not a gay. It just seems dat way because I am a European.

Siggy: Oh, yes. Right. Sorry. Same here. Neither am I, actually. I was just talking.

Hansie: No, really. I am not. Dis is why I have Miz Pamela wid me everywhere I go. Miz Pamela, she has zee huge, uh, how you say, knockers, you know. I love zee big knockers. Love them.

Siggy [sighing]: Yes, alright. Perhaps we can take zee picture now and be done with dis.

Hansie: Siggy, I am not a gay! I am not! I love Miz Pamela. We do zee nasty, you know. She is my girlfriend. We get, how you say, frisky all zee time!

Siggy: Tis OK, Hansie. I understand.

Hansie gets agitated.

Hansie [raising voice steadily]: Do you wish me to prove it? Would someone get Miz Pamela here right now so I may shove my tongue in her throat? I want to feel up those big knockers right here. I want everyone to write about it. Why won’t anyone write about how Miz Pamela and I are going to make babies? We are hot! We are as hot as zee Tom Cruise and that Katie!

Siggy: OK, OK. It is true! It is true! You and Miz Pamela. Hot. Fine. Can we be done here?

Hansie, Siggy and Roy grin for the camera.

Hansie: Siggy, do you have any questions for me before I go enter Miz Pamela’s every orifice? I am, after all, zee biggest star in Europe and she is my geliefde!

Siggy: Well, I do wonder one ting, Hansie. But it is a bit personal.

Hansie: Ah, Siggy. You can ask me anything!

Siggy: Oh, OK. We both just wanted to know.

Hansie: Yes, Siggy. Ask me! Do not be embarrassed.

Siggy: Well, OK. We have wondered. Can we get the number of your colorist?

Roy nods and grins.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Weird, weird AOL headline problem

This was an intriguing headline: "Bush Treated For Son's Name." I was puzzled as to what it could possibly mean. So I clicked on it and up came the latest development from New Zealand about that spectacularly stupid couple who wanted to give their poor son some truly idiotic name.

What I've concluded is that the top part is supposed to refer to the news that President Bush was being treated for Lyme disease, the bottom is for the krazy Kiwis.


Wednesday, August 8, 2007

To Bleep

The debate over this both in the blog comments, amongst my journalism colleagues via email and between me and Miles has been fascinating and valuable. But in the end we decided that this isn't the hill to die for, so the Aug. 9 episode of "The Strip" is now posted with bleeps and a warning at the beginning of the language to come.

However, I've done two unusual things. First, I've posted a transcript of the controversial discussion. You can read that here. Second, I've also posted a bleeped version of this sequence as well so that you can hear just this part if you wish to partake in this discussion and don't have the time at the moment to hear the entire conversation. Finally, Norm! of the Review-Journal has picked up the item and led with it today, so his take is here.

As I've said, I do all of this a bit grudgingly as I believe there are strong arguments to allow this to air without obfuscation. And I'll be addressing that in an essay somewhere soon.

The question now is, after all this hype, is the sequence as controversial as I've been making it sound. The folks in the chat on Tuesday night sure thought so.

On a lighter note...

YAY for Stephan Pastis of "Pearls Before Swine!!!" If only everyone who used WHHSH or WiVSiV ended up as dazed and damaged as Pig in the final frame! If you can't see if because my screen-shot image is weird, go here and see it on the proper site.

To Bleep or Not To Bleep

Those of you who joined us last night for the taping of this week's episode of "The Strip" know that the comic magician The Amazing Johnathan made some shocking remarks in a defense of sorts of Michael Richards, the Seinfeld alum whose racial epithets on stage last November became a major scandal.

In the process, AJ used the "n" word five times and the "c" word twice. It is jarring audio, to say the least.

I am, this morning, seeking counsel from journalism ethicists who contemplate these matters often on whether to post the podcast version with or without bleeping out the offensive words. Miles is firmly advocating bleeps and I understand his view.

There are arguments on either side that are strong. My personal belief is that bleeping such words desensitizes people to their impact, does a disservice to the cause of showing just how ugly the world can be. I'm particularly perturbed when journalists dash-out, bleep or use the term "the n word" (as I did above, I know) when discussing the word itself. Not even in a semantical context can the word be spelled out, which I find very odd.

A podcast is not regulated by anybody nor is it, in our case, owned by a corporation. But I, too, am a media entity, an author and journalist for many important publications and I need to be cautious about what we end up doing. Any use of the actual word, whether I like it or not, is radioactive in this culture, and that radioactivity won't merely poison the person who actually said it.

I am interested in your thoughts, although this decision won't be made democratically. There is my own idealistic and, in my own mind, well-reasoned defense -- and then there is the reality of the real world. The real world, of course, is what pays our mortgage.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Clarifying the Record on Harrah's

The item in the Review-Journal this weekend about the IP being integrated into Harrah's Total Rewards Program raised questions regarding what Harrah's VP Jan Jones had told me in late June about the future of the property. At that time, she said that it would be expensive and laborious to integrate the hotel.

That's why I called her today. The R-J item was unsourced, so it was unclear whether it was even true. I wanted to ask Jones myself.

In the process, Jones became aware of my June 28 post, which she had not read. She was concerned about the passage in that report that suggested the company might take Harrah's flagship hotel off-line at some point whenever the massive mid-Strip redevelopment plan is undertaken. That was an impression I had gotten from our discussion, and she says that it is incorrect, that there is no plan to close that property.

She then said she'd check on the IP-Total Rewards tidbit from the R-J and get back to me. Minutes later, she did, to confirm that it's true. She had said earlier that if it were true, it would be because the property was profitable enough for the expense of the integration.

There is still no plan to integrate Bill's Gamblin' Hall & Saloon, the former Barbary Coast, or even acknowledge they own it on the Harrah's Web site, fyi.

You Write The Caption

The photo above was distributed to the media with this advisory:

Suggested Photo Caption
LAS VEGAS - AUGUST 2: Magician Hans Klok meets with legendary magicians Siegfried & Roy after a performance of Klok's "The Beauty of Magic" show at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino August 2, 2007 in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Stage Entertainment)

Surely we can do better, no? On Friday, I'll unveil the secret dialogue between Hans and Siegfried! Can you stand it?

The Strip is LIVE tonight w/the shocking Amazing Johnathan

Join us for the live show at LVRocks.Com at 7:05 pm tonight for a shocking interview with The Amazing Johnathan in which he takes on some of his competing Strip magicians, among other startlingly frank observations!

Plus, news from Vegas, the tourist tip, letters, the poll and a new trivia question.

Catch it live or pick up the podcast on Thursday. Either way, see you soon.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Leo, Pam and Panorama

We finally closed on our Panorama unit today and, while there, I picked up a good tidbit or two:

* Leonardo DiCaprio: Leo will own on a floor not many above mine. Why "will"? Because apparently he's not closing for another couple of weeks or so while a series of "significant" renovations occur to combine the two units he has purchased. Note that we were told that there would be a $500 penalty per day past our assigned closing date. (We got done on time.) Ya think Leo's paying that? I sure hope not. Just knowing Leo's in the 'hood should help get us a better resale rate. Or maybe we'll keep our unit, move in and one day need a cup of sugar...

* Pamela Anderson: Just as she's something of a tease in the Hans Klok magic fiasco at the Planet Ho, she's also rumored to be a no-show for Panorama after all. Much was made of her buying a unit there, but from what I hear now, she's not following through and, one insider tells me, it all may have just been a publicity stunt. Pam? A publicity stunt? Really? I just cannot fathom it. That said, her unit is supposedly in Tower III, which isn't due until the end of 2008, so it's not entirely clear whether she's doing a now-ya-see-me-now-ya-don't act here, too.

Imperial Palace Forever!

Despite the fact that Harrah's VP Jan Jones told me just a few weeks ago that the Imperial Palace is doomed and that it wouldn't be worthwhile to integrate it into their Total Rewards program, the Review-Journal's Inside Gaming column had an unsourced item yesterday stating that it's being integrated and getting room upgrades by the end of the year.

I can't be sure how to know who's right here, but I'm working on reaching Jones for comment.

The last time I asked, you might recall, she pricelessly stated:

"If you owned Imperial Palace, would you want it in your rewards club?"

Stay tuned...