Friday, September 28, 2007

From the NYT Blog "The Lede"...

LAS VEGAS — As might have been expected, the previously little-known Palace Station Hotel-Casino is getting a lot of calls these days asking about renting Room 1203.

But the hotel is turning them all away, a surprising rejection of attention in the same town that has allowed the iconic Luxor pyramid to be obscured by a 20-story high advertisement for Absolut vodka.

Oh, the cops are done with the otherwise uninteresting hotel room where police say O.J. Simpson and an armed band of five men tried to strong-arm two sports memorabilia dealers into handing over a litany of material that the ex-football star believed to be his.

But contrary to published rumors, Room 1203 won’t be re-christened the O.J. Suite, said Lori Nelson, spokeswoman for the 31-year-old, 1,100-room property a mile east of the Strip that caters mostly to locals.

“We’re taking it off line for now because we don’t want it to become a thing,” Ms. Nelson said. “People think they’re clever asking for it, though.”

Read the rest here

What is a Jewish Atheist, You Ask...

Strange the little things I jot that prompt emails and questions.

Tom wrote:

"OK is it just me or is "jewish atheist" an oxymoron. Just a thought."

Not really. I have come to a place where I don't believe in God, but I still have a great deal of affection for my Jewish heritage, culture, history and traditions. One does not need to believe in God to understand the righteousness of moderation, frugality, philanthropy, intellectual curiosity and love that Judaism teaches. And I find my own meaning in many of the rituals.

The Passover story of the Exodus from Egypt, for instance, is a real historical event even if I'm dubious of the notion that Moses turned a staff into a snake or parted a sea with his underarm odor. (Tidal shifts seem far more likely.) But the notion of an oppressed people being forced to save themselves is universal, and one of the most beautiful moments of the whole story is the one that is routinely overlooked, that "God" scolds the Israelites for rejoicing when the Egyptian army drowns in the Red Sea. The idea of having compassion for your enemies and even your former oppressors is a lovely sentiment, one that would improve the world tremendously if taken seriously.

The Jewish New Year, too, is full of serious sentiment in which I find great meaning. For one thing, it makes a lot more sense to me to celebrate a new beginning at the start of autumn than in the arbitrary dead of winter. New school years, relationships and jobs have always marked this part of the year to me for some reason. And the idea of spending a week contemplating how to be a better person is laudable and spending a full day not eating to immerse in a more intense consideration of personal mistakes and flaws has always been worthwhile and replenishing.

Mostly, though, I adore the traditions of my youth, the family gatherings, the ceremonial trappings and even the special foods, with the exception of gefilte fish and chopped liver but my grandmother learned to accept that so who are you to judge? My family was not an overtly religious one, there wasn't a lot of talk about sin and piety. My dad was the one who taught me the Bible stories are allegorical at best by pointing out to me that it doesn't make sense for Cain to walk the Earth showing his mark to the "other people" when we've just been told that his parents were the first two humans. "Where did all these people come from?" my father would say. I think that was the same killer argument that slayed fundamentalism in "Inherit the Wind."

But these cultural and spiritual -- yes, you can be spiritual without believing in God -- events nonetheless tie us together and tie us to the historical Jews whose survival ensured our existence.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hair Today, Yawn Tomorrow

Wow. I really thought this would be a fun assignment.

I'm writing from the general session of the International Society of Hair Restoration Surgery. A major publication asked me to come cover this. They thought it would be both informative and campy. And I'm sure I'll pull something out of all this that will be of interest. But this is actually serious stuff. Very, very complicated science about the potential for cloning hair cells and actually transplanting whole scalps. And, for camp factor, there IS the fact that these doctors were practicing surgery on melons earlier today!

OK. Gotta go. Write more later.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Good morning!

I don't usually comment much about gay issues directly in this space, but I thought this was pretty interesting. The religious right is having a total hissy over the above poster for San Francisco's annual Folsom Street Fair, a bit of a public gay orgy of sorts that those involve view as a celebration of alternative sexuality. It's not our sort of crowd -- any group of people obsessed with sex seem sad -- and I was initially in vague agreement that this version of Da Vinci's The Last Supper painting was a bit over the top (no pun intended). There are, after all, sex toys on the table and all. Yes, I'm a gay Jewish atheist, but does that mean I can't have good taste?

Anyhow, then Dan Savage, the sex-advice columnist from Seattle, offered this post on his blog. Apparently everybody and their brother's farmhand have appropriated this particular image, from Red Sox fans to knitters to, more than once, The Simpsons. It's really quite fun to look at, and reminds us of what a crock the religious right creeps are.

Oh, and this was my favorite from the collection so far:

The Strip is LIVE tonight w/ Neil Sedaka

Join us in two hours for this week's live show, including my interview with Neil Sedaka. It's a fun chat in which Sedaka talks about his age-old smackdown with Richard Carpenter and his recent American Idol appearance as well as his upcoming 50th year in show biz.

Plus, the trivia question, the poll, news from Vegas, your letters and the Top Secret Tourist Tip of the Week.

See you later at LVROCKS.COM. Or be that way and wait till Thursday to download the podcast!

The $2,000 Dog Chew

We had a bit of a calamity yesterday. The battery went out on my left hearing aid while I was driving in the car with our adorable dogs, Black and Jack. I had to run into the drugstore. I took the hearing aid out because, when it's not working it's just dead weight sticking into my head, and I left it in the cupholder while I ran in. You know where this is going. See the picture above and guess for yourself which one looks operable.

Miles seems to think this was predictable, but I have many times left my aids on tables and counters where the dogs might get at them. Never in my 30+ years of wearing hearing aids, have I ever had a dog that showed the slightest interest in eating something like this.

Each aid, by the by, retails for $2,o00. Insurance covers none of it. But, happily, these are insured. And I'll be getting a new one in two weeks. That's a long time, though. It means when I use the phone for reporting, I either must use my headset with just one hearing aid, guaranteeing a headache, or I must use my amplified handset against my ear, guaranteeing a neck ache. Yay for me, either way.

I was really grumpy towards the dogs last night, but we made up today. I mean, look at them. Could you stay mad at them forever? (It was Black, btw. We think. Look how innocent he tries to seem, huh?)

Monday, September 24, 2007

The Kind Of %&#@ We Must Wade Through

I'm trying to thin out my old e-mail and I noticed this one that came in at the height of OJ-mania. There were a lot like this. It's shameless -- an "expert" hoping to leap onto the publicity train while it's running at full steam. But there's a LOT wrong with this one. Here's what it said:

Subject: Law firm partner shocked by OJ Simpson arrest because the evidence is "contradictory"
Jerry Reisman, a partner in the Garden City NY law firm of Reisman, Peirez and Reisman is available to comment on the arrest of OJ Simpson.
"Based on the evidence that has been presented I am shocked that an arrest has been made. The evidence is contradictory. In the aftermath of the Duke case, we need to make sure that prosecutors and the media deal with the facts not with innuendo and speculation. I fear that Simpson is being prosecuted in this instance for his past crimes. While the public and law enforcement want to see justice served for the Nicole Smith Ron Goldman murders, we can not allow the justice system to be used to correct past failures. The media should step back, but I don't expect it to. Law enforcement it seems has been swept up by the public reaction to putting Simpson away."

Let's unpack this, shall we?

First, he's offended that the media are going nuts over this case but he wants desperately to be a part of the circus.

Second, he believes that the media are irresponsible, and yet he's capable as a responsible professional to conclude based on the evidence he's seen in the media that O.J. Simpson ought not have been arrested. The cops don't present evidence to the press, they merely present a police report and the D.A. offers an indictment. That's all.

Third, who the hell is Nicole Smith....OH! Until I just typed that, I didn't get it. He's mixing up Anna Nicole Smith and Nicole Brown Simpson! Wow.

So what journalist would fall for this? Seems the New York Daily News did. So did a columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. And the interesting thing is that Reisman turns out to be a former lawyer for...O.J. Simpson. Oddly, that's not mentioned anywhere in this media-blast email.

Anything I missed here?

Did O.J. Kill Our Best Man?

The best man at our wedding, Adam Goldman, is an Associated Press staffer in New York and, before that, in Las Vegas. I regularly do Google News searches to see what he's been writing lately, and today this (screen shot above) came up. Apparently, last week the AP -- Adam's own news agency! -- offered an OJ-related Quotation of the Day. It gets picked up far and wide, largely automatically, by hundreds, if not thousands, of newspapers and/or their Web sites. Most have since taken this down, but thanks to Google's nifty cache feature, it lives on.

Of course, it was Ron Goldman slain at Rockingham in 1994. Adam, happily, is alive and well and most recently wrote this terrific piece about the reception to be enjoyed by the Iranian president during his NYC visit.

I'm Sorry!!!

Wow -- it's amazing how days pass by. I was so knackered after all that OJ stuff and then my "Petcast" co-host Emily and I spent a day at the SuperZoo pet-goods convention, then it was Yom Kippur and then it was Sunday and... wow. All of a sudden, I'm a derelict blogger.

To make it up to you, here's some pix I took yesterday from my Panorama Tower unit. It was the first time I'd been back in the place since Miles and I did the inspection and then we closed two months ago. Our unit on the 22nd floor is for sale now, if you're interested. But the reason I figured I'd post these is because it's an updated view of the astonishingly fast progress being made across I-15 at the $7 billion CityCenter complex. You can compare to pix we posted on 7/30 here and on 4/11 here.

Enjoy this and a full report on SuperZoo is coming later.