Monday, July 28, 2008

Sunday Readings...

I finally caught up on the week's worth of newspapers, plus some from earlier in July that just sat there forever, last night. A few thoughts:

* Two Studies in One, Or Something. Read these two pieces side by side, Howard Stutz's from the Review-Journal and Liz Benston's from the Las Vegas Sun, both from the July 23 papers. You're forgiven if you thought for a moment they were writing about different studies on Internet gambling coming out of UNLV. I truly did for a minute. Benston focuses entirely on findings that people in online poker rooms are ruder and meaner than gamblers at live casinos and this makes some people feel bad though not bad enough to stop playing and get a life. The "potential to be more addictive than gambling in a casino" is one that this study "largely side-steps," she writes. Stutz, on the other hand, writes that "the results of the study show that online gamblers wager more frequently and more aggressively." The author is quoted as telling Stutz that "online gamblers are much more prone to suffer from all the negative aspects. The activity lacks social interaction, which can increase the risk of addiction." Very strange.

* Trump Is A Silly Dilly. Or A Fabulist. Speaking of Stutz, he had a follow-up to the KVBC report on the Trump layoffs that started with the, uh, company line: "Don't call them layoffs." Trump is totally unconvincing, as he is when he called KVBC's Steve Crupi to cuss him out over the piece. Crupi and KVBC stood their ground. When you relieve a fifth of your workforce of their jobs, it's not really a reassurance that they'll get them back whenever you're ready to have them. Those people are out of work. They had jobs, then they didn't. Those are layoffs. It's also not credible, when that happens, to pretend you've got an "incredible success" on your hands.

* Mike Weatherford's Good Week. First, he broke an interesting piece about a live poker show at the Venetian featuring amateurs going up against well-known pros. And then he offered some terrific insight I hadn't thought about as to why the soon-to-close Second City didn't do as well as it should/could've at the Flamingo. The bottom line seems to be that the SC folks failed to deliver on the promise of guest appearances by its famous alums.

* I Didn't Know This. Did You? F. Andrew Taylor of the View, the weekly freebie section of the R-J, had a really fun, revealing piece in honor of National Drive-Thru Day, which was last Thursday. (Aside: Isn't it always drive-thru day?!?) All the basics were in there -- the drive-thru chapel, pawn and smoke shops, sexy cafe -- but did you know that they have a drive-thru sportsbook at the Fiesta Rancho casino? I sure did not. God forbid you find yourself behind ditherers like those folks who stand in front of the $1 movie rental machines at the supermarket forever, though.

* Monday Sadness. Remember how gangbusters great the R-J was doing, per its publisher Sherm Frederick, who claimed a circulation gain that didn't exist? Then why, as of today, does the paper no longer have a Living section on Mondays? Mondays were one of that department's best, most original days with Carol Cling's Shooting Stars column and Corey Levitan's sometimes-funny, sometimes-grating stooge-in-odd-jobs "Fear and Loafing" columns. Levitan sent an email out last week that a friend forwarded my way indicating that he'll be doing one of those a month from now on instead. So, Mr. Modesty noted, "the silver lining is that, with only 12 columns a year, all of them will be astonishingly great." Uh, OK. Levitan was mysterious about the switch -- "I am not permitted to tell you any more" -- but it's clear what's going on here. I just got through praising Cling's long-running weekly Shooting Stars column, in which she took note of various TV, movie, commercial and other crews filming around the city, as her "very best, most Vegas-relevant material." So, of course, they had to dismantle the entire page. Sorry, Carol.

Carol's final print SS column indicated that she'd be blogging her Shooting Stars material on the R-J's website here. So far, though, she has not done so, but here's hoping.